A/N: Hey all! This is a sequel to my first Sherlock/Irene fic "The Untamed Sea" so I recommend you read that one first (though I'm sure you could still read this and make sense of it easily). I was so surprised by the lovely comments I recieved for the first one that I decided to carry on writing! I hope you like it.
The Cheese and the Letter
Sherlock Holmes was sure that if he struck the chisel once more on the wood, his masterpiece would be finished and world-wide glory and prestige would be his. And he wasn't afraid to say so.
"See this Watson?" He said without turning around as he heard the door to his rooms creak open. "This is the answer to all of my problems. This tedium that I currently find myself residing in will be relieved by the blow of this hammer and the tip of this chisel." He raised the hammer dramatically, lined up the chisel and struck it three times until it made a small curve in the wood. He stood back, his eyes shining with glee. "You see, Watson? It is perfection, is it not?"
Watson peered over his shoulder. "Oh, it is old boy, no doubt about it. I just have one question: what is it?"
"Oh honestly, do you possess no imagination at all? No creative vision? This, my dear doctor, is what the world has been waiting for. Fake cheese."
Watson met Sherlock's intense gaze with a blank look and marvelled at his own ability to keep a straight face. "F-fake cheese?"
"Yes, that's right. My greatest invention to date, is it not?"
"I think I still remain undecided on that fact, dear boy. Tell me, when would one need a piece of fake cheese exactly?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "When your home is being burgled, Watson, when else?"
"Ah. And how would a block of wooden cheese help in such a situation, Holmes?"
"Imagine this scenario: you home has been plighted with burglaries the past few months and you think you may have an inkling to who the perpetrator may be but you lack the evidence the police require. So, each night, you leave out your block of wooden cheese until the burglar arrives once more, sees the cheese on the larder table, admires its fine quality and takes a bite. Voila! You come down the stairs the next morning to find a tooth in the wood! So you find your burglar by the shape and size of his missing tooth, thus enabling the police to charge the thief! Genius, is it not?"
Watson took a deep breath and sighed. "Genius really isn't the word, Holmes." Watson peered around the room, cursing the twilight Sherlock had decided to live in lately. "Couldn't you open the curtains? It's awfully stuffy in here."
"No!" Sherlock glared, clutching his fake cheese protectively. "Sunlight slows down my ability to think. I like darkness."
Watson felt an unpleasant stab of worry. "Sherlock, are you sure you're alright?"
"Of course I am!" Sherlock took a huge swig of something in a square bottle before placing it back down on the table with a wince. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, after all this business with Moriarty and...Miss Adler..." Watson picked up the square bottle and examined it but risked a glance over the top at his friend who had suddenly gone very still. "We thought you might be losing your way a little."
"We?" Sherlock repeated, picking up his violin and twanging the strings noisily.
"Yes, we." A female voice said as the door opened again and Mary bustled in, clutching a small pile of papers in her right hand as she pulled open the curtains with her left. Sherlock cried out, covering his eyes.
"You demon-woman! You've blinded me!"
"Oh, do grow up, Holmes." Watson said, rolling his eyes. "Besides, I don't think it's the sunlight that'll kill you; if anything's going to do it then it'll be this bottle horse medication you keep insisting on drinking."
"It's thinking nectar, Watson!" He said, snatching it back, taking another sip and throwing himself in the arm chair next to the door.
"Well, perhaps some of these letters hold a new case for you." Mary said, as though speaking to ill behaved child. She found it was the only way she could get through to him when he was being like this. "Why don't you sit down and go through them?"
"Shan't." Sherlock plucked his violin again before suddenly leaping up and gesturing towards the table. "Mrs Watson! What does that look like to you?"
She squinted at the block of wood. "It looks like...a piece of wooden cheese."
"And what might one use such a piece of fake cheese for?" Sherlock asked, clasping his hands behind his back.
"Oh, well I suppose one could...use it to catch a criminal? Perhaps if said criminal lost a tooth in the wood, the police may then be able to track them?"
Sherlock beamed at Watson, smug. "You see, Watson? Your dear wife has much more imagination than your good self. Perhaps I should take her on my cases instead of you?" And he wandered off to the other side of the room, tuning the violin and gazing out of the window. Watson took the opportunity to bend down and ask his wife,
"How on earth did you know that?"
"I was listening at the door." She said with a smile and opened the first letter of the pile and read aloud. "Mrs. Johnson from Surrey has lost her son – "
"He's in Exmoor, searching for his real father. He'll return when he realises his father is dead." Sherlock answered without turning around.
"Oh. Duke Harlington has had his horses stolen –"
"The Duchess of Harlington is giving them to her lover and he sells them on and saves the money up so they can run away together. Next?"
"Oh, this one seems interesting!" Mary began, peering at the letter.
"I'll be the judge of that. What is it? Murder? Theft? Disappearance?"
Mary didn't answer for quite some time as she read the letter, an odd smile on her face. "Darling," She began, looking a little mischievous. "Who is Irene Adler?"
One of Sherlock's violin strings snapped with a loud twang and Watson looked from his wife to Sherlock and back again. "Mary dear, who is that letter from?"
Mary didn't answer as Sherlock turned and lunged for the letter and she stepped back out of the way, holding the letter to her chest. "Are you interested now Sherlock?"
"I suppose I may be." Sherlock tried to look nonchalant but neither of his friends was convinced.
"And will you promise to get out this room and get some air if I give this letter to you?"
Sherlock snorted and plucked at his violin again until Watson said sternly, "Sherlock!"
"Fine! I'll go out! Now give me that damned letter!"
Mary let Sherlock snatch the letter off her and both Watsons watched him read it, his dark eyes glittering as he took in each word and his mouth quirking into an involuntary smile as he read further and further down the page. When he was finished, he folded the letter away into the inside pocket of his waistcoat and straightened up, clearing his throat.
"Well, then. Come, come, Watsons! I promised I would step foot outside and I keep a promise! Besides, I need a new string for my violin." He seized his coat and flung it on, leading the way out of 221B, down the steps and into the bustling crowds and all the time, Watson was at his heels calling,
"Holmes! Holmes! What did it say? Is there news on Irene Adler? Holmes, you devil, what did it say?"
Sherlock didn't answer; he just smiled and carried on up the street towards the music shop on the corner of Baker Street. "Perhaps, once we are done buying me a new string, we could take a spot of lunch? It is such a splendid day after all!"
Mary laughed, linking her arm with her husband's. "I cannot quite believe that we managed to get him out of the house!"
"Well," Watson began, watching Sherlock stride ahead in of them. "Miss Adler has always had a peculiar effect on him."
Mary raised her eyebrows. "Has she really? I cannot imagine him being fond of someone. You know, you must tell me about this Irene Adler."
"Indeed I shall." Watson agreed, laughing. "And theirs is quite a story, my love. Quite a story indeed."
The Watsons were dancing and Sherlock was happy to let them go, sitting at their table in The Royale alone with his new violin string in his pocket...along with the letter. When he was sure they had danced to the other side of the ballroom and couldn't see him, he slid the letter out of his pocket and read it again.
To Sherlock Holmes,
As they say, news of my death has been greatly exaggerated.
I hope this letter finds you well and triumphant. I'm sure it does, otherwise I should imagine I would have had to come to your rescue by now.
I am well – no matter what Professor Moriarty has told you. It seems even the dear Professor is blind to the intelligence of a woman. Rather like you, my darling. But nonetheless, I think you are finally learning that you need not fear for me. As you can gather by my supreme escape, I am far more capable than even you think me. Though perhaps you simply dismiss me because I have tricked you twice before. Are you still raw about that?
If you are, that amuses me (and I think Dr. Watson) greatly.
I also hear Dr. Watson is now married. Send my congratulations to him and his lucky wife and my apologies for being unable to attend the wedding. I was otherwise engaged with my 'death'.
I expect you to have solved the riddle of my 'death' by when we next meet. I'm sure I will be seeing you soon.
Sherlock grinned again, and ran his thumb over her name before the scraping of chairs brought him back to The Royale's opulent interior. Watson, pulled out his wife's chair and sat next to her, both catching their breaths after their dance. Watson caught Sherlock tucking the letter back into his pocket.
"You alright, old boy?"
Sherlock picked up his wine, and raised it to his companions. "To our good healths!" He drank deeply, adding to the toast in his head, 'And to Miss Adler's.'
I love, love, LOVE writing Sherlock/Irene so I hope you all enjoyed this little story too!
I already have an idea for another sequel too.
Please leave a review...I adore them!