Chapter 17

Mycroft came in leading a couple of men who seemed to have been chosen for their careers entirely on their muscle mass and ability to look completely generic. They bore down on John, and he released Adler to them. Her arms were bound with strong white plastic cords, and she was lifted to her feet.

She looked at Sherlock, clearly torn between her natural instinct of trying to charm her way out of trouble, and sheer fury. She ended up not saying anything at all as she was led from the room.

'Woo,' John said. He dropped down into his armchair. 'Well it's been a fun day.' He looked at Mycroft. 'I'm not going to offer you a cup of tea.'

'Ah, that reminds me, I have a new kettle for you in my car. I'll send my driver up with it shortly.'

'Oh.' John said. 'I think I might be dating the wrong Holmes brother.' The look of sudden upset on Sherlock's face made him giggle like a child.

'Is he quite well?' Mycroft asked Sherlock.

'Oh, yes. He sometimes does this when he's experience a sudden drop in stress.'

John giggled some more.

'You'd better go and check on your men,' Sherlock said to Mycroft. 'She'll be working on them already.'

'I've taken precautions there,' Mycroft replied. 'Max and Seamus are a couple.' John broke down with peals of laughter again. 'Good afternoon, gentlemen,' Mycroft said, looking at John as if he might have something dreadful and contagious. He left them alone.

'Oh dear,' John said, wiping his eyes. 'All right then, are you going to tell me all the bits that I haven't worked out yet?'

'Well I don't want to patronise you…' Sherlock said, looking hurt.

'You told me to row with you! I went for the most obvious of all your many flaws, that's all.'

Sherlock smiled at him. 'Was any of it based on reality?'

'No,' John said, shaking his head emphatically. 'All of it was absolutely, one hundred per cent made up. I have no idea why those thoughts popped so readily into my head. Was the legs thing a total lie?'

'Couldn't have been more of a lie.' Sherlock came to sit on his armchair opposite John. 'I'm feeling fine. So, how much do you know?'

'Irene Adler had a plot to kill lots of politicians. I mean an actual plot, rather than the random daydreams that I have about some of them.'

Sherlock's mouth curled into a smile. 'She did. It was a hastily thrown together thing though. Remember Sean Jeffries?'

'The Foreign Secretary's son?'

'The same. Being a senior member of the cabinet, he has been entrusted with a key which unlocks a passage that runs from beneath the cellars Houses of Parliament along to the banks of the Thames just under Waterloo bridge. It was built when the buildings were new as they knew even then they realised that occasionally senior politicians might need to evacuate in secret and at short notice. The senior cabinet members are all given with a key so that they can get out if they need to.'

'Are these the same passages that Guy Fawkes used?'

'Yes. And despite that incident, the various black-suited idiots think they should keep them for occasional use.'

'So wait a second, are you telling me that our Foreign secretary was given a key for this passage which he then handed on to his son?'

'Yes. He sewed it into the foot of one of his favourite teddy bears. Apparently he got the idea from a children's film he watched with the boy.'

John was incredulous. 'Is our Foreign Secretary completely stupid or something?'

'You heard his speech last month on Afghanistan.'

'Well yes. Granted.'

A man appeared at the door. 'I was asked to bring you this.' He was holding a box with a brand new kettle in it.

'Oh, now you're talking!' John leapt up to take it from him. The man nodded smartly and left. 'That reminds me,' he called to Sherlock, 'Mrs Hudson's under strict instructions not to leave her flat until we get her. Can you pop down while I sort this out.' He took the kettle to the kitchen table and started unpacking it, eagerly.

'You know, considering the amount of kettles we go through in a year, the amount you enjoy every new one is always a wonder.'

'Mrs Hudson,' John replied.

They were sitting down again with fresh cups of hot tea and the rest of the Victoria sponge donated by a relieved Mrs Hudson when Sherlock went on as if the conversation hadn't been broken at all.

'I think Mycroft will be having a stern word with him shortly.'

'I'm sorry, what now?'

'Our ridiculous Foreign Secretary who thought the point of an emergency key was to sew it into the foot of his son's favourite bear.'

'Oh, him. I'd forgotten.' He helped himself to more cake.

'Miss Adler's role was initially quite simple. She joined what's left of Moriarty's network to keep an eye on me. If she was able to somehow torture or destroy me, then that was well and good. Unfortunately, she got a bit obsessed. The bomb in the shopping centre was considered a success. People noticed, people were put on edge. I was put out of action temporarily, you were concerned. All their boxes got ticked. The attack on you was also considered a worthy event, however unplanned it was. Unfortunately, Miss Adler then attacked the garden centre worker which was considered messy and inefficient and a waste of her time. Some of the messages sent to her that day were quiet unflattering. She attempted to make amends by planting a bug here at Baker Street, but that plan went awry. She couldn't communicate with the others via their message board any more, and needed to alert them to their danger, at which point she'd reveal she was here and caught. She tried instead to push the plan forwards by returning to the Acorns and stealing the bear where she was fairly sure Mr Jeffries had hidden his escape key.'

'Because he's a buffoon.'


Sherlock went quiet again. His finger stroked along his lip as he looked at John.

'What?' John asked eventually.

'Hm? Oh, I was just reflecting that you were right.'

'Really?' John raised his eyebrows. 'About what, precisely? Because I'm still not completely clear on whether Moriarty is dead or not.'

Sherlock guffawed. 'Oh he most definitely is. You were right about Alder. She was different. I did choose to save her. To let her go.'

'Oh, right. Why did you?' he asked, fearing the answer.

'She impressed me.' He sat back and seemed satisfied with the nostalgia. 'She was very clever, John, and in ways that I still don't fully understand.'

'Yeah,' John said.

Sherlock's eyes darted up to him instantly. 'But I didn't want to have sex with her. She impressed me; she didn't attract me. In my mind the distinction is clear.'

'Yes,' John said, squirming slightly. 'The problem is that the person who I want to sleep with impresses me as well.'

'But the one impression doesn't lead to the attraction.'

'Actually, it does a bit. I admire you. I am impressed by you constantly.'

'But you were for years before you wanted to sleep with me.'

'I suppose that's true.' He looked across at Sherlock who was still regarding him, stroking his lips. 'So come on then. Do I impress you even a little bit?'

Sherlock smiled. 'Is this one of those times when I should list everything about you that I love?'

John smiled. 'Yes. I know it's pathetic, but yes, actually, you should.'

The smile turned into a grin. 'Well, there's the soldier thing, that's always good. And that thing where you get cross so very quickly. And there's he thing how you always know what to say to people. And your arse, obviously.'

'My arse impresses you?'

'Oh yes. Your arse is deeply impressive. I think I need to start a sub-list; things that impress me about your arse.' He slid to his knees and walked his hands up John's thighs. 'The sub-list might be quite long. I perhaps better make sure you're nice and comfortable…

There we go! I hope that some of you enjoyed this.

I think this is probably going to be my lot with writing now. Thanks all for your input and support.

Pip xxx