The Unfortunate Truth

Part 2

Sherlock remembered standing in front of a hall of crying people next to a dried-eyed Mycroft. Behind them lay their parents in their respective coffins. They had died a week prior when a truck crashed into them while they were at the side of a highway trying to restart their stalled car. He had been greeting the guests the whole day with his brother, he was bored, but even someone as emotionally inept as him knew that it would be unacceptable to simply leave.

Another guest, another condolence and regard, he wondered why people bothered giving them at all. It was not like any of that would bring his parents back.

"Our parents already made preparations. Tomorrow, I will have control of their accounts. We have nothing to worry about," his brother said in cold practicality later.

He nodded and wondered what was wrong with them: why were they not crying; why were they not sadder? His parents had been good to him, even if they never really understood him. He would much rather them alive, but it was as Mycroft suggested, in the large scheme of things their death changed nothing. He would still finish university, his brother would still have that unspecified important position in the government, and they would both continue living on. "They care so much more than us," he lamented.

Mycroft turned his head and gave him a long look. "All things die, all hearts are broken," he observed eventually, "caring is not an advantage, Sherlock."

It wasn't, it isn't, it never will be.

Caring was not an advantage, Sherlock knew, breathed the truth of it all, but it had become apparent to him that caring about the woman (her whereabouts, her life) may just be a fair tradeoff for a bit of excitement – and Sherlock could never really resists rare breaks from the perpetual monotony.

Her old friend, the Italian Mafia sent his salutation today. Having noticed she was being followed soon after she stepped out of her hotel in Naple, she led them to a market where she bought a bottle of chili oil, a bistro where she had a steak and stole a fork and a steak knife, then finally a quiet park where she confronted them. Chili oil in their eyes, cutlery jabbed deep into their legs, she stole their guns and shot them. She placed an earring near them before leaving for even the most inept detective to find. It was the sixteenth piece she had left – sixteen different crime scenes, sixteen places she was attacked, most of them reported in the local news – he must have noticed by now.

At first, it was her call for help, a last attempt at self-preservation without further injury to her pride or triggering the surveillance her enemies have placed on traditional communication channels. For weeks, she watched carefully for any signs of Sherlock around her, ever hopeful. But two and a half months into her run, she was resigned to the fact that help would never come. That whatever she thought Sherlock was and might have felt for her must have all been naïve wishful thinking conjured by her desperate and wounded heart.

She continued her futile routine nevertheless.

She thought she was doing all this because she wanted him to know exactly what he had done to her (a little vengefully, because she knew Sherlock was not completely amoral however hard he tried to convince the world otherwise), but a deep introspective look within later she realized that was only an excuse. The unfortunate truth dawned on her as it always did: above all, she wanted him to remember her fondly. She wanted him to remember her not as the pitiful woman that begged for her life, but as the one woman in the world that would turn even her own death march into a game.

She hoped he realized that it was all for him, and she hoped he found it at least a little interesting. It would be a compliment. It would be enough.

The cases in the past month had been rather mundane, all of them brain teasers at best, and Sherlock solved each of them within the hour. The only thing keeping him from dying of boredom had been his fixation on the woman. His constant search of the news outlets for her whereabouts aside, the highlight of the weeks had been stealing Irene Adler's file from under his brother's nose. The file wasn't any more detailed or interesting than the information he had managed to gather himself, but the week of scheming was entertaining, and he could not help but feel a certain sense of satisfaction when his elaborate ploy panned out exactly as he had envisioned.

Finding yet another trace of the woman, this time in the Corriere della Sera, Sherlock took a slow breath and let his mind run.

When the adrenaline passed, Irene Adler recognized that her run was about to come to an end. She had fractured her right shin and ankle during the fight and she could not walk without hobbling. Running was completely out of the question. The next night she bought a plane ticket to Pakistan – it was one of the few countries she had not done business in. If she was to die, she didn't want any of her vengeful acquaintances to take credit for her death, she wanted to die on her own terms. She knew exactly how to put herself in danger once in Pakistan; she had planned this since the beginning.

Waiting for her final flight, Irene visited John Watson's blog one last time and let herself indulge.

The last sign of the woman was an article on an apparent burglary at an inn in Klev, Ukraine. No one was hurt except for the accused burglars. Witness account stated that a woman had apprehended the three men in the lobby before leaving the crime scene with a clear limp just before the policy arrived. A ring was found near the unconscious thieves.

It had been nearly five days. Prior to this, she had been appearing on the news every other day. That, together with the limp, convinced him she was most likely in trouble.

The obvious question, of course, was where did she go after that?

A vital clue came when he absent-mindedly began plotting the cities she had visited on a map. Half way through the exercise, a pattern began to emerge. He had thought she was travelling to all the cities out of necessity, but it was more than that. Irene Adler wasn't just playing hide and seek with her enemies, she was visiting specific cities so that when plotted on a map it would form an arrow pointing straight to the Middle East.

He laughed out loud. Oh, that woman was good.

With new found vigor, Sherlock quickly pulled out the file he had built on her. He reviewed her past activities in the Middle East, and he soon realized where she must be at. She had made enemies in every Middle East country except for one, so Pakistan. The woman had always been attracted to large cities, so Karachi. It was so obvious.

He had his plane ticket printed and his bag half packed before he realized what he was doing – He was flying to Pakistan with the intent to save her. He wondered if he would find her in time (difficult to say, Karachi has a population of over 13 million). He wondered if he was out of his mind (probable, he had experimented with many substances). He wondered what sort of comments Mycroft and John would make if they ever found out (not that he would let them). It didn't matter, he decided in the end: he was a psychopath and trying to keep her alive was self-serving enough.

Logic be damned – he thought as he yelled his goodbye to Mrs. Hudson – at least he was having fun.

She knew it was the end when they led her to a dimly lit room with a camera and a man holding a Persian sword. She was ready for death, but there could never be quite enough preparation for a beheading and she felt her leg tremble as she progressed deeper into the room. They forced her to kneel in front of the camera and asked her in English if she had any last words. She replied in Urdu that she would like to send a text message. They let her.

The only thing she could give the one man that mattered was closure, so she replied to the lone message he had sent her. Goodbye, Mr. Holmes.

If she had one regret, (though she was not sorry for anything she had done) it would be that she hardly got to know the man that amused her longest.

She closed her eyes and waited for death.

In the silence, there was a moan.


Disclaimer: Obviously I don't own any of these wonderful characters.

A/N: And there you have it, my take on what happened, hope you guys enjoy reading this. The moment I saw the ending, all I could think about was how in the world did Sherlock find Irene and why was Irene in Karachi in the first place. I hope the scenario I created was at least somewhat plausible.

I wish there are other story genre filters than what they have. I wouldn't really call what I wrote romance but it was more than just friendship. I suppose, maybe, this is really as romantic as Sherlock could get?