Chapter Nine

Sherlock stared at the quivering man.

"Bellatrix? That's not a name." Lucrezia tossed him a cursory glance over her shoulder, then leaned in close to Anderson.

"Now run. And keep running. Don't stop until you get someplace where I don't have to worry about you ever again." And Anderson, stumbling, looking back, his face pale and gaunt with terror, ran.

"You're no one to talk about names." Lucrezia informed Sherlock wryly, replacing her gun back in her coat as though she'd never almost killed a man.

Sherlock was not to be deterred. "WHY did you let him go?" he demanded. He was suddenly acutely uncomfortable. He was NEVER the one asking questions. He gave answers.

"He doesn't know anything else, or couldn't you tell?"


Lucrezia spoke slowly, the way Sherlock realized he often spoke to those he patronized. "He didn't know anything else, Sherlock."

Sherlock ran over the situation again in his mind, his powerful brain flicking through notions and thoughts like a dealer flips through a stack of cards.

"Ah. The eyes. The hands. He didn't volunteer anything else when I remarked on the name and... but none of that's CONCRETE."

"You're missing something."


"Yes. He called Bellatrix 'they.'"

"So he didn't know..."

"Their gender. It's an improper pronoun, and Anderson, whatever else he may be, uses fairly proper grammar."

"He hadn't entirely turned, you know. Not after I came back. He wanted to find me, so, SO badly.

"So you caught that. I think we can agree it was guilt?" Saying this, Lucrezia wheeled, and left the alley as suddenly as she had come.

John Watson had done everything he needed to do in 221B Baker Street. He had seen Sherlock. He had brought Sherlock's laundry (which he and Mrs. Hudson had taken turns doing, now that John had moved out), and he had spent an afternoon with Mrs. Hudson. He had originally intended to spend said afternoon with Sherlock, but Sherlock was used to old habits. When John had arrived, Sherlock had slipped into his old rhythms, in which he would hardly speak for days on end.

Still, something made John linger at the doorway of his old flat. It was getting dark, and Mary would be wanting him home, but John Watson still stood, sillhoutted against the doorway of the flat, motionless.

With good reason.

Like a tousle-headed thunderstorm, Sherlock swept into the flat. He flung his scarf and coat on a chair and turned, with the old wild-eyed look, to John.

"John, you and I, we have a case. A hard one."