In Rare Form

I ignored the slight tremor in my hand as I fingered my pocket-watch for what must have been the third time.


Two minutes would have been in jest to annoy me, five if perhaps she ran into a spot of trouble, but now here we were at eight and still, looking over my shoulder, she was nowhere to be found. Don't be daft old boy, I thought to myself, perhaps she was otherwise held up by her employer. Pushing all negative thoughts aside I unfolded my napkin and tucked it in securely beneath my chin. I was already seated; there was no point in not eating.

My heart skipped a beat at the sight of the blood stained handkerchief.

Her handkerchief.

The Woman's.


It took a great amount of effort on my part to show no reaction, turning away so he would not see the involuntary twitching's in my face. I had warned her not to play this game, but she insisted that she could hold her own; and now, at the fault of me, she was no more. I might have well given her the substance myself. His warning that I would lose was for naught, for I could not lose, not now. No, now that this was on a personal level, he would think it my weakness; but it only fed my determination to beat him even more.

His threat toward the Watsons did not fall on deaf ears, and I vowed that the good doctor and his wife would continue living their life of pointless matrimony. And by the end of it all I would bring down Professor James Moriarty.

I picked up the memento from the chessboard, stuffed it into my pocket and left the room.

Making my first move.

Starting the game.

In all honesty I don't know why I brought it; at least that's what I kept telling myself. Watson surely wasn't supposed to have seen it, but he had, and now he was staring at me with worrisome eyes. I knew he wouldn't ask questions, simply because I wouldn't answer them. John Watson was a smart enough man to figure out that her involvement was enough to bring on her demise. I met his eyes for a moment before taking the fabric from his hands and stepping over to the railing.

The seconds passed by ever so slowly, one had seemed like one million. We would be ashore soon and while I wanted to leave a piece of her in Paris, this would have to suffice.

She had loved it there, my lips twitched up at the thought of how many men had fallen victim to her ploy in the perfect city to play in. Including myself to a degree.

I twisted the garment around my hand and brought it to my face, breathing in her Parisian perfume; a scent I would forever hold in high regard and one that would never grace Baker Street again. My eyes slipped closed and my chest grew tight at the fleeting memory of the hurried kiss at the auction. Yes it had been in deceit, but the fire still remained.

I gave a last reassuring look back to Watson, rolling the fabric between my fingers once more as I turned back out the sea. Releasing my hold I watched it flutter down to the ocean, swept away into the current, the pain growing greater the farther away it traveled.

Quickly I brushed away the dampness in the corners of my eyes and returned to my seat by Watson, greeting him with a sigh and a nod. I traced my lips with my fingers and again was reminded of her mouth joined with mine. The many stolen kisses and the few that I gladly returned. The many I now regretted not taking.

The Woman.

My Woman.


Now gone and forever out of my grasp.

There was no stopping the tear that was presently trailing down my cheek, she was beyond worthy of my tears. I felt a sturdy hand land on my back and pat it gently. I turned to see that Watson's look of worry had now turned sympathetic.

"I'm truly sorry, Holmes." The good doctor's words were honest and kind, and most welcome. In a time when everyone seemed to think the great Sherlock Holmes had no poignant emotions, my one true friend would argue otherwise.

"Thank you, Watson," I said with a sad smile and a nod; looking back out on the passing waters; the blue green color as vivid as her eyes once were.

"Goodbye, Irene," I whispered, propping my elbows upon my knees and allowing my head to fall into my hands. Once more Watson's hand found my back and patted it comfortingly. No words needed be exchanged, all that was said needed to be said. The only thing left to do now was to remember Irene as I always had. As the woman that had been so intriguing that she had outsmarted me not once, but twice. As the woman I had grown fond of when it went against everything I stood for. Possibly the only woman that would ever love and accept me for me.

Simply as The Woman.

A/N: Told you it was coming. I'd like to thank John Williams and the wonderfully depressing Schindler's List soundtrack. Now go have yourself a cry and leave something lovely for me in that little box below won't you. Do it for Irene. Do it for Holmes. Do it for cookies! (or in this case dried peaches)