"Approximately thirty years old, not actually married – she just wears the ring, perhaps for protection, judging by the treatment of the ring and its value." Sherlock began, "Natural skin tone suggests direct Mediterranean descent and upbringing. She's clearly a housewife; keeping her nails short would allow her to work efficiently, avoiding the fuss of keeping them manicured, and the fact that she isn't wearing any makeup implies she's also a busy mother, possibly to an infant, but it's more likely a child of about three or four, that much is clear from the bags under her eyes – minimal. With a baby she would be up half the night, but she looks fairly rested, although not entirely."
"Says the voice of experience." Muttered John, suppressing his smile as Sherlock sent a glare in his direction.
After claiming that he had approximately seven ideas, Sherlock told Lestrade that he needed time to run a few tests before submitting his final theory. He was granted that, and he and John stopped at a small café nearby for a late morning breakfast. Sherlock didn't eat, it was only John who ordered a few slices of toast and some baked beans.
"Only seven ideas?" He teased.
"Six." Sherlock answered as he gazed out of the window.
"Maybe three?" John took a slip of paper from his pocket and Sherlock sat up, taking it from him and opening it up eagerly. There was a train ticket inside but the detective discarded it, "I found it in her pocket, but I forgot about it."
"Better murder an infant in its cradle than nurse an unacted desire." Sherlock read aloud.
"What does it mean?" John asked, taking the paper from Sherlock to look at it himself again. It was a scrap torn out of a newspaper – some advert about car insurance – and on it was stuck the quote, made up of letters cut out of magazines. Classic.
"Did I not tell you that she was a mother?" Sherlock replied triumphantly, standing up.
John shovelled down the last of his baked beans and tossed his napkin down onto his plate. Apparently oblivious to the traffic, Sherlock darted across the square, followed closely by John as they made their way back to the Royal Court Theatre, where the body had been found, and headed straight back up to the upstairs studio stage. They ran past a confused Lestrade on their way.
"The stage," The detective cried over his shoulder, "Has anyone searched the stage?"
"Not properly. We haven't had time." Lestrade replied, following the two men into the studio. Sherlock ran past the woman's body and leapt onto the stage. John watched as he ran backwards and forwards across it, searching for something.
"She knew that the murderer was after her child as soon as she saw him and so she came in here."
"Why here?" John asked.
"Train ticket in her pocket – unused. She was going back home by the tube but he was right behind her. At rush hour in the crowds she could easily by ambushed and this theatre was the only safe place she could think of to hide her child."
"Hide? Sherlock, what are you talking about?" John asked, becoming increasingly impatient. He didn't have to wait for long. Sherlock dived on the stage and began clawing at the wooden floorboards. He wrenched it open.
"In the dark, the murderer wouldn't have seen the stage. He would never have thought." Sherlock plunged his arms beneath the stage and pulled something out. It was a little boy.
The detective carried him over and thrust him into John's waiting arms
"Voila." John gaped at his roommate.
"What, so I'm no longer the voice of experience?"
John and Sherlock stood at the side of the road, watching the little boy being put into a police car. Lestrade came up beside them.
"Alright, how did you figure it out?" He said reluctantly.
"The note – wasn't it obvious? She sacrificed her life for her son."
"But why did he want to kill the boy?"
"He was the result of an affair, he was the evidence and he needed to be destroyed. Make inquiries into her family and you'll probably find she left her native country after being accused of having an affair with a married man, most likely high up in social ranking – it wouldn't have been so scandalous otherwise." Sherlock said plainly, turning to John, "Are you hungry?"
"I just-" John started.
"I'm hungry. This is boring." The detective turned on his heels and marched away. Shooting Lestrade an apologetic glance, John followed his companion to the cab waiting by the side of the road.
They travelled home in silence, not even making eye contact. It wasn't an awkward silence, and John could see that Sherlock was deep in thought. They arrived back at their flat and the detective threw himself into his chair. John approached him slightly more warily and took the seat opposite, after removing his jacket.
"Well, that didn't last long." He remarked casually, "Your quickest case probably."
"Boring," Sherlock replied, "Mundane. I need something interesting to keep my mind going."
"To keep you from thinking about what happened this morning." The detective glared at his roommate and John almost half-laughed, "I haven't forgotten. And I won't, you know."
"Why must you concern yourself with trivia?" Sherlock grumbled.
"Trivia?" John cried incredulously, "Triv – Sherlock, you had a baby! An actual, real life baby! And you never thought to tell me?"
"You never asked."
"Well, of course I never asked. I thought… I thought you were a…"
"Does it really make you that uncomfortable?"
"I thought you were," John continued in hushed tones, "A virgin."
"We all make mistakes." Sherlock said flatly, "And while I don't make them often, it seems that, when I do, they are on a rather colossal scale."
"Yeah." John agreed with a sarcastic laugh.
They fell into a heated silence. Sherlock's expression was as unreadable as ever, but John got the distinct impression that he was a little upset about the way he was being questioned. It was, after all, a delicate subject, perhaps even for the most seemingly heartless of people.
"Was it a boy or a girl?" John asked gently.
"Girl." Sherlock answered. There was nothing different about his tone. John tried again.
"What did you call her?"
"Pandora." This time there was a slight hint of emotion. Pride? Affection? Love? It was difficult to tell, but John nodded his head in approval anyway.
"That's a nice name. Beautiful, actually." John's comment elicited a small, supressed smile from his friend, "Who does she take after?" For a moment, John thought he might have pushed it a little too far. Sherlock stood up suddenly. He fumbled around in his pocket until he found his wallet and sat down, passing John a scrap of photo paper from inside it.
Turning it the right way up, he smiled almost involuntarily. It was only a few inches big, but the worn photograph held within its borders a sight which John would never forget. It was a little girl: Pandora. The background was unclear and minimal, but she smiled so widely and honestly that he could have sworn that the paper was actually warm. She was only about seven and her rounded face was pale and rosy cheeked. Her dark waves fell about her face and past the bottom of the photo, and her ice-blue eyes glittered intelligently – Sherlock's eyes. In fact, they looked so similar that it almost felt like a second embodiment of the detective was looking up at him from within the frames of the picture.
"She looks a lot like you."
"Of course she does." Sherlock all but snapped, "I'd prefer it if you kept quiet about this." It was an odd request.
"John." The detective said imploringly. John paused, studying his friend's face.
"Alright," He agreed, "But know that you're finally trusting me with something no one else knows, and that puts me in a position of power."
The uncomfortable expression on Sherlock's face was almost worth it.