A/N: Hi there! It's been one year since I finished this story and six years to the day since I first published it. I thought I'd round it off by uploading the bonus chapter I had sent to a handful of regular reviewers last year. Lestrade is the last to know, so it's his turn to find out! If you've read it before, I've tweaked the conversation between Sherlock and Lestrade a bit.
As always, thank you for reading.
BONUS Chapter 122 – Whatever You Say, Giles
"Should we have our meeting now?" Rose asked, rolling back towards Sherlock.
His chest heaved, small beads of sweat dotting his forehead. Blinking rapidly as his gaze remained on the bedroom ceiling, he said, "Are you serious?"
Rose chuckled lightly, which told Sherlock she would never grow tired of leaving him both sated and stunned.
Pulling herself to a sitting position against the bedhead, Rose said, "You're quite right. I'm pretty sure I can write my report now. We're on the same page, anyway."
Sherlock wrinkled his brow, turning his head towards Rose.
"That's… not how I remember the conversation."
It had grown quite heated in the taxi on the way over—Sherlock's observations versus Rose's professional assessment. She was wrong, naturally.
"We didn't finish our discussion," Rose replied, "because you accosted me as soon as we were inside." Drawing the bedsheets up around her, she continued, "Shame on you, Mr Holmes. This was what Greg feared would happen. We should've stayed at Scotland Yard or had our discussions over coffee, like he suggested. Somewhere neutral."
Sherlock emitted a low chuckle.
"Greg," he scoffed. "You ending up naked and in my bed wasn't what he feared would happen. This is me, we're talking about, remember. Or the version of me I project to the rest of the world. No. He just didn't want me to upset you again."
"Well, you will upset me if you whine about the party one more time."
Sherlock's insides twisted. He sat up and swung his feet to the floor. The party. Bowing his head, he ruffled his hair.
"Tell me again why we're throwing a party for a one-year-old who won't remember it?"
He rose and rounded the bed, making a bid for the ensuite.
"Because," Rose replied, "it's not for her to experience right now, though she'll probably enjoy scrunching up the wrapping paper like Rosie did on her birthday. And she'll love everyone she knows doting on her."
Sherlock stopped in the doorway to the bathroom.
"No, she won't," he replied. "Just the opposite, in fact. I bet when a sea of faces crowd round and start singing 'Happy Birthday' she'll burst into tears, clearly traumatised by the whole ordeal. At least, that's what I di— ...wh-what I've heard can h-happen to some small children."
Rose shot out of bed at once, causing Sherlock's shoulders to droop. Of course she noticed.
"Oh, Sherlock," she said, cupping a soothing hand to his face. "Were you traumatised?"
"I hate birthdays," he said, blinking. "Well… the celebration of birthdays."
"You celebrated mine."
"That… that was special."
Indeed it was. Special, and more importantly, private.
He'd missed celebrating Rose's birthday with her the previous year because he was about to be flown abroad on a mission that was meant to result in his death. And besides, Rose had broken up with him and lived in Edinburgh. But this year, they were together, and Rose was turning 30. It was important to her, he knew that. Taking her up the Elizabeth Tower, once more, to view the New Year's Eve fireworks was an exercise in sentiment, only this time he was able to tell her he loved her. And he made a little speech, of course.
But typical Mycroft, trying to one up him: upon learning that Rose was sad Grace missed out ("all that noise on those tiny ears" and "imagining climbing all those stairs with her!") the insufferable git had made plans to silence Big Ben for four years, with work to commence on installing a lift! What he wouldn't do for Rose and Grace. The busybody.
"Well, this is to create memories for Grace," Rose went on, "so when she looks back at her photos, she won't ask, 'Why wasn't Daddy at my first birthday celebration?'"
"No, she'll be saying, 'Uncle Mycroft looks funny with hair.'"
"Don't be mean," Rose said. "Your brother's done a lot for us." Sherlock tutted and rolled his eyes. Rubbing his arm, Rose added, "We'll see how she goes. If it looks like she's getting upset, we won't sing to her or do the cake thing, okay?"
Sherlock nodded his acquiescence and left Rose for the shower.
After about one minute, she called out, "Don't take too long in there. I have to get going, too."
"What?" he asked, peering out of the stall and wiping water from his eyes. "What do you mean 'get going'? I thought we were going to be in and out of bed all afternoon. Have tea and… biscuits… in between, then another go at playing Clu—"
"No, Sherlock. I've got the cake to pick up and Mrs Hudson to rescue from my kitchen. She's volunteered to do far too much. Justine was quite happy to—"
"Should've got catering like I sai—"
"And you've got to pick up the wine and Mycroft's special brandy."
Sherlock scoffed again and turned off the taps. It's all about bloody Uncle Mycroft.
The party had to be tonight by special request from Uncle Mycroft, or 'Unca-Moff' as Mary gleefully told him Rosie had said one day. They couldn't have the birthday party on Grace's actual birthday because Unca-Moff's diplomatic responsibilities had him facilitating secret talks between [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] over the course of a few evenings.
No, it wouldn't be 'Why wasn't Daddy at my first birthday celebration.' More like, 'Daddy, tell me again how my first birthday celebration caused World War III.'
Sherlock dried himself, silently brooding as Rose flitted by, making for the shower herself. After dressing in his work shirt and trousers, he slipped on his second best dressing gown. Thinking he'd have a nice cup of tea all by himself, he made his way into the kitchen.
After switching on the kettle, Sherlock heard heavy, weary footsteps on the stairwell. Surely not! He strode over to the door that led from the kitchen to the landing. Pulling it open, he saw Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade crossing the threshold into the living room. Why did they always forget to lock the doors!
Lestrade stopped. He turned to see Sherlock crossing the landing for the living room behind him.
"Ah, Greg," Sherlock said, attempting to project a casual air.
"So…" Lestrade said, his eyes scanning the room. "She… she gone already? I did try to tell you that this was inappropriate—asking her back to your place."
Sherlock narrowed his eyes.
"In case you've forgotten, Detective Inspector, this is my place of work. For a lot of my cases, I interview clients here, and you and the rest of your rabble quite frequently visit me here in my capacity as a consultant. Did you forget that?"
"Uh, but she's a… a…" Lestrade began, rubbing his neck.
"Yes, and a lot of my clients are one of those as well, roughly fifty percent, unsurprisingly. And don't forget your colleague, D.I. Stella Hopkins. She's one of those, too."
Lestrade swallowed uneasily.
"Did… did you get it sorted, then," he asked, a pained look on his face, "or did she leave… upset?"
Sherlock managed to stifle his smile. Rose's moans of ecstasy replayed in his Mind Palace. Definitely not upset. But he had to get Greg to leave. Now.
"So," he went on, gesturing towards the open door, "she'll have the report for you tomorrow. We… we've agreed on everything."
Lestrade's incredulity was written all over his face.
"Sherlock!" came Rose's voice from the hallway leading to the bedroom. Sherlock's stomach somersaulted. Timing! "Sherlock?" Her voice drew closer, from the kitchen now.
Lestrade tilted his head, then took two steps towards the opening to the kitchen, obviously recognising her voice. Sherlock could see it all happening in slow motion and was helpless to prevent the inevitable.
"Have you seen my—"
Sherlock raised his eyes to the ceiling and heaved out a weary sigh. He could imagine the look on Rose's face as the D.I. stood transfixed, his gaze directed into the kitchen.
"Fuck," Sherlock heard Rose say.
Oh, Christ! What if she was in a state of undress!
Sherlock hurried to Greg's side.
"Um… Greg's… here," Sherlock said.
Rose, clad only in her bra and work trousers, switched her gaze between the two men, a delicate flush crossing her cheeks. She silently about-turned and strode back through the kitchen towards Sherlock's bedroom.
Sherlock's mind scrambled into action.
"Ah," he said, noticing Rose's white work shirt draped (hastily discarded!) on the arm of his chair and her suit jacket nearby on the floor. "I'll... just…" Stooping, he retrieved both items. He gestured towards the bedroom and gave Lestrade a weary smile.
"She… she spilled coffee on it, did she?" Lestrade asked, his eyes indicating the garment in Sherlock's hand.
"What? No." Sherlock held up the shirt for examination, furrowing his brow in case he'd missed something. "We didn't even have time to drink coff—"
Lestrade's eyes widened, his eyebrows shooting up.
"Oh," Sherlock said. "You… mean…" Idiot. Of course. The D.I. was wishing… hoping… that there was another more favourable explanation.
"I'll just…" Sherlock repeated, indicating his bedroom again.
Stopping outside the door, he knocked tentatively.
"It's… me," he said.
The door was opened only a little, with Rose's hand appearing to snatch both items from Sherlock's grasp. The door was slammed shut leaving a stunned Sherlock staring at the reverberating timber.
He cleared his throat and made his way back to the living area to find Lestrade standing in front of the coffee table. The D.I. had his arms folded across his chest in a local constabulary kind of way.
"Would you like to sit down and have a cup of tea?" Sherlock asked.
"Not really, no."
"A shot of whisky?"
"I'm still on duty."
"I suppose you want some sort of explanation."
"After all these years in your company, Sherlock, I think I can make my own deductions this time, thank you very much."
Sherlock drew in a steadying breath.
"That's where you're wrong… Greg. Rose… Rose and I are in… in a relationship, and we have—"
Sherlock tried to stop his own mind from racing. Clearly this was a fact that needed to stand on its own for a minute.
"We're in a relationship," he said carefully.
Greg hooded his brow.
"We have a thing," Sherlock explained.
"You just met."
"That's… that's what we wanted you and the rest of the world to believe. In fact… we've been together for a number of years now."
"For reasons I can't go into, Rose's real identity has to remain a secret. Now, we've concocted two fake versions of how we met. One is—"
"One is: that we just met today. In your office. On this case together. Our next step is to go out for coffee, somewhere public, and… go from there. Dating, that is…" Sherlock waved a flippant hand as he spoke. "… in the public eye. And the second is—"
"I don't understand."
"Just let me finish," Sherlock replied, beginning to pace and gesture at the same time. "And the second is: we met before, when I was breaking up Moriarty's network. She worked for MI6, and we met… then… And saw each other again after my return. On again and off again, much like your marriage." He shrugged. "People like that kind of drama."
Lestrade scratched at his head.
"Sorry. Can you start again?"
Exasperated, Sherlock stopped mid-pace.
"What, the whole thing again? It's really not that complicated."
"You… you've got a girlfriend."
"Yes. Well… fiancée, actually."
"We got engaged this morning." Sherlock brightened at the memory. "You can take some of the credit… you left us alone for all of eight minutes. And now look: you're the first to know! Congratulations!"
"Look, Sherlock. Slow down," Lestrade said, raising his hand to flag Sherlock to deccelerate. "I'm confused."
"Nothing new there."
"I understand… a bit… I'm still recovering from…" Lestrade gestured weakly towards the kitchen. "Sorry. It's just that… well, Katherine… Katherine Cusack. She's… she's…"
"I prefer 'Rose'. That's her real name."
Lestrade dragged a weary hand down his face. Sherlock held his tongue, giving his favourite D.I. a few more seconds to absorb his revelation.
"Sorry," Lestrade said again. "It's just that she's… normal… and… intelligent. So… why…"
"Why is she in a relationship with me," Sherlock finished.
"Look. Sorry, Sherlock. Okay." The D.I. straightened up and sharply inhaled. Sherlock knew that gesture. Lestrade would invariably react this way when he had to accept one of Sherlock's outlandish-sounding deductions in order to move on.
"You're pretending you just met today," Lestrade said. "But why do you have to say you also met years ago? And why all the cloak and dagger in the first place?"
Sherlock exhaled slowly.
"Because we had to keep Rose's identity a secret. Weren't you listening? And I'm something of a celebrity, in case you hadn't noticed. People will be interested in her."
"S-so why can't you just meet today? Why have another meeting years ago?"
Sherlock felt himself flushing. Meeting Rose all those years ago. He didn't know why, after all this time, he found this uncomfortable to recall in his own mind. Most likely because everyone else close to him already knew, and it had been quite some time since he last told anyone.
"It's t-to explain why we… um…" Sherlock rubbed at his nape.
"—why we have a one year old daughter," came Rose's voice. Walking into the living room, now fully dressed, Rose stopped beside Sherlock and smoothed a hand down his arm. She squeezed it affectionately, saying, "Sherlock, you're really making a dog's breakfast out of this."
"I'm doing just fine," he muttered back.
"Greg," Rose said to the stunned Scotland Yard D.I. "I'm sorry about the deception. But we thought it best—"
"I think you're a terrible actor," Sherlock interjected, also addressing Lestrade, "and you would've given too much away this morning if you had been in on the secret."
Lestrade hooded his brow. "Well, thank you. Thank you very much."
"Sherlock!" Rose admonished him. To Lestrade, she added, "That's not it at all. We needed someone on the ground, that's all." That didn't make any sense, Sherlock thought. Having someone on the ground would mean they were also in on it. "We created two meetings because of the media's need for uncovering scandals," Rose hastily went on. "They'll see through the first meeting all too easily after a photo is leaked showing Sherlock and I interacting earlier this year at a Security Services event."
"A speech by the D-G," Sherlock added. "A handful of photos, which we'll leak ourselves. Or Mycroft's people will. Quite a dull event, but we were in the background, pretending to laugh. Entirely posed, of course."
"We're hoping after that secret is out," Rose continued, "the media will think they've uncovered the big one and leave us alone."
Lestrade opened and closed his mouth, but Sherlock was giving him no chance to interrupt.
"Especially after Mycroft's people bore them to death about everyone having to remain tight-lipped about MI6's activities abroad. Therefore details about our past relationship together cannot be disclosed. And also…" He paused to draw in necessary oxygen. "It's really for our daughter's benefit that it be known we met some time ago."
"Sherlock's her father, of course," Rose quickly added. "And if we only met today, then he'll have to be her step-father."
"O…kay," Lestrade, scratching behind his ear.
"Sorry, Greg," Rose said again, "but I do have to dash."
She turned, her brow furrowed as she scanned the area for something. Her coat, Sherlock observed, his heart sinking. He didn't want their fun afternoon to be over so soon.
"Ah, yeah, sure," Lestrade said. "Don't let me keep you."
"Oh… the… thing," Sherlock said, thinking he had to explain Rose's movements, but not really wanting to.
Drawing on her coat, Rose said to Sherlock, "Why don't you invite Greg?"
"Sorry?" Sherlock asked unnecessarily. To a child's birthday party?
Rose steadied herself by lightly touching his arm, then she gave him a quick peck on the corner of his mouth.
"I'll leave it with you," she half-whispered to Sherlock. Turning for the door, she added, "Don't forget the wine!"
"Bye, Greg!" Rose shot back. "Sorry, have to run!"
Lestrade shook his head, as if to clear it.
Sherlock cleared his throat, hoping the sound would make the room feel not so stifling.
"So…" Lestrade began. "You have a daughter as well as a… girlf— fiancée?"
"Would you like to come to dinner tonight?" Sherlock asked, sidestepping the question only a little. "We're having a -thing- for our daughter, Grace. Yes, I do have one, and everyone's coming over to celebrate the fact that we've managed to keep her alive for an entire year."
He gave Lestrade a quick smile.
"My daughter. Yes. Everyone's coming. Top secret, of course."
"Ah… everyone?" Lestrade asked.
"Yes, John and M—" Sherlock swallowed his words.
"Mycroft?" Lestrade asked tentatively.
"Yes," Sherlock replied emphatically. "And…"
He folded his arms in front of him, then bowed his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. Why did he have to be the one to reveal everyone else's secrets!
"So… everyone else knows?" Lestrade asked.
"Look," said Sherlock. "Are you sure you don't want a shot of whiskey? I think I could do with one. There is something else I have to tell you, if you're going to be coming along tonight… about John, actually, and you might want to be sitting down for this one as well."