Some Dissembly Required

"What is it?"

"Nothing."

Sherlock sighed. "What is it?"

"What are you talking about?"

"You're ridiculously pleased with yourself. I want to know why."

"I'm not… I mean, what business…"

"Sherlock?" Mrs. Hudson opened the door, and beamed at Sherlock and John. "This young lady said you were expecting her, so I brought her right up. I'll pop downstairs for some biscuits."

"I'm not expecting…"

"Oh, Sherlock, thank you so much for letting me come and see you on such short notice!" A girl of about fourteen, wearing enormous sunglasses and painfully high heels, barged into the room. "It's me, Maddy."

"Sorry?" John looked up from his laptop and blinked from Maddy where she stood in the middle of the room and stared at him, to Sherlock where he lay on the couch with his eyes closed.

Maddy smiled even more widely and held out her hand. "Madison Sutherland. You just told me to stop by? I came as soon as I could, but there were…"

"I didn't tell you to do anything, Lillee… or do you prefer Jane when you're not on stage?"

The girl flushed as she spun towards the voice on the couch. "Oh, sorry…" She looked back at John. "You are?"

"John."

"Yes, sorry, John. I thought you were Sherlock when I…"

Sherlock snorted and sat up. "It's quite obvious even to John what your mistake was, and I am 'Mr. Holmes' to anyone under five feet."

"I'm actually…"

"The heels do not come into the calculation. And now you may leave my flat."

"But Sh—Mr. Holmes! You told me to come here!"

"No, I didn't."

"Yes. I told you I was afraid my dad might be checking my internet somehow and you said to come here – 221B Baker Street. And you're here."

"Who told you to say that?"

"No one!"

"Clearly you are not intelligent enough to make that up yourself, and I didn't tell you, so who did?"

The girl dropped into the nearest chair, pulled off her sunglasses, and proceeded to cry blue mascara down her face. "Wh-why does everyone one say I'm s-stupid. I-I … I emailed you because I… I was in trouble and you…"

"Everyone says you're stupid because you are." Lillee gulped. John rifled through the papers on the table. "Now I want to know how you learned my name and address, and who told you to come here."

"I toldyou – you told me to."

Sherlock considered her for a few moments. "It seems to me that you're telling the truth... and you're not remotely intelligent enough to fool me." He yawned. "Well, go on, then. Why are you here?"

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve, and calmed down a bit.

"It's… it's Jason! He's gone!"

"If Jason is your pet, I'll…"

"My boyfriend! I tried email and text and IM and I called, and nothing! I can't find him anywhere. He's never not talked to me for so long."

"You've come to me because your boyfriend won't answer your calls?"

She looked at her fingers and started picking at one long fluorescent nail. "N…not really."

"Why, then?"

"Well…" She twisted one of the large rings on her hand. "It's more than that."

"Compromising pictures?"

"Yes, how did…"

"It wasn't difficult to guess. I assume your father hasn't approved?"

"Well… my dad doesn't know…"

"Doesn't know that you're dating him? Then he cannot have approved it. How long have you known Jason?"

"For about a year."

"And how did you meet him?"

"Internet."

"How many times have you seen him?"

She turned redder. "Just once... yesterday..."

"I thought as much. Go home. I have important things to do with my life."

"But…"

"No—stay! Where did you get my name and address?"

". I went there after the pictures…"

"Compromising pictures of you and Jason, and an email threatening to sell them to the papers?"

"Yes, how..."

"I don't have time for your petty problems. You can go now."

Sherlock lay back down and closed his eyes. Lillee looked at him for a few minutes. She turned to John, who was studying his laptop screen. Then she left.

John continued staring at his computer until a car drove away. Then he closed the lid and snickered. "So, you identified 'Lillee' quite quickly. I didn't realize your taste in music included teen pop."

"Clearly you know who she is as well."

"I didn't know her name. And I deduced the pop star thing. I learned from the best."

"Mm."

"So how did you know?"

"It was for a case."

"Ah." John grinned as he opened his laptop again.


"John, stop! You'll never impress anyone with anything you've composed on that phone. Your horrific abuse of language is only rivaled by your incompetent typography!"

John looked up, the smile gone from his face. "I wasn't…"

"We're here."

They stepped out of the cab in front of a large, gated house. Sherlock buzzed the gate's intercom.

"Yes?"

"This is Sherlock Holmes to see Mr. Morgan."

"Do you have an appointment?"

"No."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Mor—"

"Tell him that I know about Jason."

"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't help you."

The intercom switched off. John went back to his mobile. Sherlock opened his as well. Both stood motionless except for their tapping thumbs. John grinned at his screen.

Sherlock broke the silence. "Whatever has made you stand at this front gate for over five minutes without complaining that we should go home must be very interesting."

John looked up, the tips of his ears very red, but his face hard. "Yes, why are we here?"

"You'll see."

Just as John went back to his phone, the intercom buzzed again.

"Mr. Holmes? Mr. Morgan will see you now."

"Ah, thank you. And if you could just page Miss Morgan as well, that would be lovely."

The gate opened.


A tall man in a shiny suit met them at the door. "Mr. Holmes? You said—"

"JANE!" Sherlock bellowed, and ran up the hall stairs. "JANE, COME HERE!"

"You can't… I don't want…" The man followed him.

"You don't want what? Don't want your daughter to know the truth?"

Jane appeared at the top of the next landing. "What is it, dad?"

"Yes, what is it, Mr. Morgan?"

"Nothing! Jane just…"

"You wanted to know where Jason was, Jane? I'll tell you if you bring me your laptop and show me exactly how you contacted ."

"O-okay, Mr. Holmes." She went back up the stairs and came down with a pink laptop. "Here."

Sherlock sat down on the step and began looking. After about four minutes, during which he typed several things into his mobile, he handed the laptop back to Jane.

"That's that. And now: the absurdly simple solution to what I can hardly bring myself to call a mystery."

Mr. Morgan, who had been standing to the side chewing his fingernails while Sherlock used Jane's laptop, stepped forward again. "No, you can't!"

"Can't what? Can't tell your daughter that Jason was a false identity? That you created him to spy on her?"

Jane made a face. "Dad, you… ugh!…"

"And then the idiot, Jane—I didn't even need to start my computer to confirm it, but I did—you started falling in love with a twitter-feed, and thought it would be fun to go out with a seventeen year old, at the age of fourteen… even though you'd never met him... The identity was not created well. Any fool with even half a brain should have been able to see that it was false. But you couldn't. A simple trace of your father's credit card online showed me that he hired some young underwear model last week. Obvious explanation—he was meant to be Jason, who would take you to a club where someone would take compromising pictures. To be fair, your father might have ruined your good little girl image, but this stunt will bring you money and attention. So don't fire him yet—not as your agent, anyway."

Sherlock went back down the steps and dragged John out of the house with him, leaving a speechless father and daughter in his wake.


"Ha! He should know better!"

"What is it?"

"Mycroft. is his website, as I suspected. And through it I was able to trace three more of his online identities."

"And?"

"And I'm sending him an early Christmas present."

John rolled his eyes, and walked out of the room.


"John, I notice that you have not been particularly enthusiastic or appreciative of my work on this case."

John had been humming out of tune and making a cup of tea. He turned to Sherlock at the kitchen table. "I thought your work was its own reward."

Sherlock stared at him. "…No."

"Oh."

There were a few moments of awkward silence.

"Well, I have things to do other than to stroke your massive ego, Sherlock."

"You usually pay attention to my cases."

"I did. I even applied the…" He coughed and went to the refrigerator.

Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Yes? Are you about to tell me what you've been so absorbed in for the past week?"

"You can't guess?"

"I never g…"

"Deduce! You can't deduce?"

"Yes, but you've learned well… and I don't know." Sherlock's voice carried the slightest note of pride, and an enormous helping of petulance.

John smiled. "I met someone. And she's…"

"Met someone online?"

John coughed. "Yes..."

"Online? Have you been asleep for the past week? Jason was Jane's father, John. I cannot…"

"No, I've researched Mary thoroughly. I was paying attention, and I'm certain that she's real. She has a history and everything."

Sherlock looked skeptical.

"We're going to meet today at the Starbucks."

Sherlock went back to his experiment. "I don't know why I bother to try to help, John… but you're very, very wrong."

"She has nothing to gain by this. And I have nothing to lose."

"She gains a connection to Sherlock Holmes."

John didn't even glare at Sherlock as he stuffed his phone into his pocket and stalked down the stairs.

Sherlock continued to measure chemicals until the street door shut and the heavy footsteps had faded away. Then he grinned and stood up.


Epilogue

Teen singing sensation Lillee Popp fired her father, Tom Morgan, as her manager today. This comes in the wake of several leaked photos of the underage star drinking and using drugs in a club with an as yet unidentified young man.

In local news, the outbreak of violence in a Baker Street Starbucks on Sunday afternoon was a domestic squabble—not, as confused witnesses originally thought, an attempted murder. It seems that the two disputants had fallen out over a practical joke involving false online identities. Both men were taken into overnight custody by the Metropolitan Police.

The whole computer infrastructure of Monaco's government was undermined in a DDoS attack this morning. EU authorities are investigating the attacks, but initial investigations seem to point to the source of the attacks within the British intelligence agencies. Government officials declined to comment.