a/n Again, thank you to everyone reading/following/favoriting and especially reviewing this! It really means a lot to me! And an enormous thank you to my fantastic beta firewordsparkler. :)
Well, here we are, the last chapter, I hope it lives up to your expectations. This chapter references several events from previous chapters, and since I realize it may have been awhile since some of you have read them, I thought I'd mention a few of the key ones:
1. As children, Sherlock and Mycroft would often sit in Sherlock's closet, originally to comfort Sherlock when he was upset, but it eventually became a safe haven for both of them where they would sit, talk, and escape from the world. (Ch 2+3)
2. Sherlock called this closet their Palace. It was here that Mycroft taught Sherlock how to build a Mind Palace. (Ch 4)
3. Sherlock made a sign their closet-palace, but he got rid of it once Mycroft left for University. (Ch 4+5)
3. When Mycroft left for University, Sherlock told him that his Mind Palace had become a Mind Laboratory. Mycroft assumed that it had remained a Mind Laboratory for the rest of Sherlock's life until John mentioned Sherlock's Mind Palace, which stunned and confused Mycroft. (Ch. 5+7)
And finally, this chapter is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela. May one of earth's greatest sons rest in peace.
"Mycroft," Mummy closed the album and laid her wrinkled hand on Mycroft's own, "Mycroft, what is wrong?"
"What makes you say something is wrong?" Mycroft murmured without thinking.
"Mycroft," Mummy sighed reproachfully, "I'm not half as clever as either of my sons, but I am no fool either. You come home, unannounced, in the middle of the night for the first time in six months, and I find you looking through a photo album…something is wrong, and you cannot bring yourself to tell me." She hesitated, "What happened to Sherlock?"
Mycroft forced himself to meet his mother's eyes. They were calm, but anguished, as if she had been fighting tears for hours. Strange he had not noticed until now. "How do you know something happened to Sherlock?"
"Nothing else could make you this upset," she paused, "And earlier today he sent me a text." She pulled out her iPhone, tapped a few icons, and handed it to Mycroft.
The message was brief.
I am sorry. -SH
Mycroft glanced at the time the message was sent…almost half an hour before Sherlock jumped. Something between a sigh and a groan forced itself through his lips. He handed the phone back to Mummy without looking at her and buried his face in his hands, "Do you know," he began slowly, "That I promised myself years ago that Sherlock would always be my first priority."
"I made a mistake," Mycroft whispered, "And I broke my promise. I told Jim Moriarty Sherlock's life story in exchange for information critical to national security."
He waited as the implication of what he had done descended upon Mummy: "What did he do?" she finally gasped.
"He used the information to convince the world that Sherlock was a fraud. The story ran in the papers this morning." Mycroft had prevented said papers from reaching their doorstep and intercepted all calls or visits from snooping acquaintances.
"Surely you can stop it! Surely you can prove that he is not!" Mummy demanded furiously.
"I can," Mycroft admitted, "And I will, but…it hardly matters now."
"How can you say that? Of course it matters!"
"Mummy," Mycroft had never been gentle with anyone before, except Sherlock twenty-five years ago, and it felt strange, but not as strange as he might have thought….his mother's eyes were the same as his, "He is…" his lips refused to form the word "dead," although it was the truth. But is he really dead a small, desperate corner of his mind asked. There were a few details as he toured the scene and examined the CCTV footage…little things that did not quite add up…or perhaps he simply was not brave enough to tell his mother the truth… "Gone," Mycroft completed, "Sherlock's gone."
"Did Moriarty kill him?" Mummy whispered, tears running down her cheeks.
"We are not certain," Mycroft said carefully, "Moriarty's body was found with a bullet in his head on the roof of Bart's. The angle of the wound leaves no doubt that it was self-inflicted."
"I do not understand," Mummy breathed, "That is good, right?"
Mycroft took a deep breath, "Sherlock was on the roof with him," he said, "Almost immediately after Moriarty shot himself, he threw himself off the building."
"He what!" Mummy spluttered, "Mycroft, your wrong!"
"I'm sorry," Mycroft whispered, and for once, it was the truth, "I could not get there in time."
"No!" Mummy's voice was firm, defiant, as she wiped the tears away from her eyes, "No. He would never do something like that-no matter what happened."
"There were warrants out for his arrest."
"Shut up, Mycroft! Shut Up!" Mycroft did not know his mother was even aware of such colloquialisms, "Sherlock would never kill himself, and you know it!"
There was a pregnant pause, "You are right," Mycroft sighed, "I suspect-and there is no way to prove this-but I suspect that Moriarty forced him to jump."
"How?" Mummy's face was fierce, almost vicious.
"By threatening the lives of John Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and perhaps Greg Lestrade," Mycroft said heavily, "If faced with that choice…I think it is clear what he would do."
Another pause. Mummy's face collapsed back into stunned sorrow, "He died saving his friends," she whispered, simultaneously anguished and awe-struck, "And he brought Moriarty down with him…my brave, brave son."
"Yes," Mycroft agreed, though Moriarty's words 'It wouldn't make a difference if I died,' forced their way to his mind. He did not repeat them.
Mummy did not reply. Instead, she sighed heavily, stood, and left the room. Mycroft did not bother deducing where she had gone off to, so he was surprised when she returned barely a minute later, clutching two crystal glasses and a decanter of their finest scotch in both her hands. Seating herself back on the couch, she filled the glasses and handed one to Mycroft. He accepted it without a word and immediately drained it, relishing the burn of the alcohol on his throat and not caring that he was wasting a hundred pounds worth of liquid without really bothering to taste it. A bottle of American moonshine would suit his current purposes just as well.
"This is what people do, when someone they care about dies, is it not?" Mummy mused, staring pensively at her glass without drinking any, "Sit around and drink."
Mycroft nodded, poured himself another glass, and took a large drink. He had pretended to get wasted many times throughout his years at school and University, but he had never done it properly himself.
Now seemed the ideal time to do so.
"Why is that, do you think?" Mummy mused, still staring at the dark liquid in her glass.
Mycroft pulled the glass he was about to drain from his lips; despite his new found determination to drink until he lost every ounce of self-awareness, he had no desire to do so in front of Mummy.
Perhaps if he answered her question, she could go away, and he could devote his attention to the decanter. "You mean why do people drink when someone dies?" When Mummy nodded, he shrugged, "I suppose they wish to forget."
"Do they?" Mummy frowned at the dark liquid and then glanced at the photo album lying on the coffee table. She set the glass on the table with a loud thunk, "I do not want to forget."
She ran her hand over the soft leather of the album; Mycroft finished his second glass of scotch in a single gulp. He reached again for the decanter, but Mummy grabbed it first. "No, Mycroft."
It was the first time she had tried to tell him "no" since he was four years old. Mycroft sniffed dismissively and reached again for decanter. Before he could reach it, however, Mummy stood and strode to the bathroom. A minute later, she returned, holding a now-empty decanter.
"That bottle was worth several thousand pounds," Mycroft noted, "There was no need to pour it down the drain."
"I do not want to forget," Mummy repeated, "And neither do you."
He raised his eyebrows, "How would you know?" He knew she would understand what remained unsaid: You have never truly known me.
Mummy sighed heavily and sank back into the couch. Then she picked up the photo album again and turned to the picture of her and Sherlock in the hospital, "He was a mistake; did you know that? The result of a single night of madness..." She smiled humorlessly at Mycroft's lack of reaction, "Of course you did. I suppose Sherlock did too."
"Naturally," Mycroft murmured.
"I was not ready," she continued, "I never was, but I thought that, if I loved him enough, it would be alright. I would still be able to give him everything he needed." She gave a short, humorless laugh, "I was wrong, of course, absolutely wrong. He needed, he deserved so much more than love…he needed understanding. He needed you, and you needed him. You still need him," She sighed again, "That is why you do not want to forget, Mycroft, why you will never be able to forget…my son of ice and my son of fire, simultaneously destroying and sustaining each other. It seems impossible, but then I look at you two…" She sighed, "When the fire is gone it becomes all the more important to remember its heat."
Mycroft did not respond to this, but he knew Mummy did not expect him to. Instead, she sighed again, picked up the album, and stood, "I am sure you're busy dear, thank you for telling me yourself…I am going to try to sleep," she gave him a rueful smile, "Though more likely I am going to sit and remember my son." Mycroft nodded. She hesitated, stroking the album absently with her wrinkled fingers, "Will you be making the…arrangements."
Mycroft nodded. Sherlock had always been his responsibility; even death would not change that.
Mummy gave him her familiar, relieved smile, "Thank you," she sighed before slowly heading to her bedroom.
It was a long time before Mycroft moved. His mind supplied him with a thousand matters that needed his attention: sabotaging the North Korean missile program, yet again, saving DI Lestrade's career, mediating a dispute in Parliament, ensuring the assassins vanished from Baker Street, organizing a trade summit with India, arranging the funeral…
Sherlock was dead.
Mycroft supposed this is what grief felt like; it was an emotion he had needed to mimic on occasion but never felt himself. It was a week, volatile state of being that hijacked logic, dismantled efficiency, and eradicated practicality. It made one unforgivably weak.
Since Mummy had ensured that alcohol no longer remained an option, he tried to simply push the emotion away, to remind himself of all the hours of worry and frustration, of every barbed argument, of the thousands of dollars he had spent over the years just to keep Sherlock alive, of the fact that his brother had long ceased to love him.
Then why were the only arguments he could remember their silent but heated battles over whether the important men Father had over for dinner had one or two mistresses? Why were the only late nights that seemed to matter were the ones he and Sherlock spent as children reading in comfortable silence until dawn? Why was the only note-worthy expense the suit Sherlock had purchased with the credit card he stole from Mycroft because, "If one is to work as a Consulting Detective, one must look the part?" Why were the only drugs busts that seemed of any importance were those carried out by an exasperated Lestrade recovering evidence? Why could he not forget the three-year-old toddler burying his face in Mycroft's shoulder as they both hid from the terrors of the mundane world in their tiny Palace?
It was another long moment before Mycroft realized this new, immobilizing, emotion was not grief at all. Only good men, the John Watson's of the world, were allowed to grieve. Mycroft was left with something far bitterer.
Because he had failed.
All the years as he guided, enticed, pushed, pulled, dragged Sherlock through over twenty-five years of living. After dealing with self-righteous teachers and insecure bullies, with gossiping acquaintances and jealous fathers, with cocaine and heroin Sherlock's self-destructive personality until Sherlock finally reached something that could almost be described as happy.
After all this, when the greatest battles had seemed to be over, he had failed.
And he would never be able to fix it.
Because Sherlock was dead.
The words seemed wrong, as if they violated some unspoken law of nature; Sherlock was a force of nature unto himself. He could not simply die.
You saw the body, he berated himself. You stood with Molly in the morgue and saw the body. You checked for a pulse, knowing you would not find one, then you ran your fingers through his hair and kissed his brow, and you told him how sorry you were as Molly said in a trembling voice that he did not suffer much. Then you looked at her, this unimportant girl with her silly crush, and she looked so inexplicably guilty, and even a little afraid, and you wondered why she seemed more guilty than sad. One more detail that did not make sense, almost as if he was not…
Mycroft jumped to his feet (he most certainly had not done that for several decades) and nearly ran to the stairs. It was absurd, ridiculous, impossible to even entertain the notion that his brother was still alive, and yet there were so many things, so many tiny details that did not quite add up, something that made the whole blasted situation seem so…Sherlock-like. If he had Miss Hooper's help…Mycroft could just see a way he could have done it...and there was one place the Elder Holmes thought his brother might go.
He burst into Sherlock's room, breathing harder than he ever had in his life. The room was completely dark, but the light in the hall allowed him to just distinguish the outline of the open closet door, and sitting in the closet, without so much as a scratch…
"Shut the door," Sherlock Holmes commanded.
Swallowing his shout of relief, Mycroft obeyed. He then crossed the room and made sure the curtains were completely shut before switching on a desk lamp. Sherlock scowled as the room was bathed in shadowy light but did not comment. Mycroft stared at his brother, taking in the every dark curl, every fold of his coat, the navy scarf folded around his neck, "You're here," Mycroft whispered.
Sherlock's scowl deepened, "Believe me, dear brother," he sneered- Mycroft had never heard anyone's voice drip with such loathing: "It is only because I had nowhere else to go." Despite his glee, Mycroft also felt as if he had been punched in the gut; he would never be forgiven for what he had done. Sherlock closed his eyes, "Moriarty's men are still out there," he said, most of his hatred replaced with crushing weariness that Mycroft found more terrible than his rage. He had rarely seen anyone so exhausted, so dejected. Sherlock face was that of a man who had lost everything. The strange and unwelcome feelings of guilt, of regret, assaulted him once more, "They will be searching, making sure I am actually dead; I cannot even contact the homeless network. The only place I am reasonably confident his men would not, and could not, look is…here," he completed with another scowl, "Unless, of course, you are entertaining them…seeing as you are such great pals."
"Sherlock," Mycroft murmured, "Sherlock I am so…"
"Don't," Sherlock snarled, his eyes snapping open as he glared at his brother, "Just don't." There are not words enough his eyes completed.
Mycroft nodded, fighting the insane urge to sit next to Sherlock in the closet and wrap his arms around him until all their problems disappeared, as if they were children again. It was ridiculous, of course. These problems would not simply go away, and, in any case, Mycroft was certain Sherlock's would throttle him if he got close. Instead, Mycroft seated himself on the edge of the bed. "We have an extensive file on Moriarty's organization," he said carefully, "Not complete by any means, but enough to give you a place to start."
Wordlessly, Sherlock reached into the folds his coat and pulled out a thick file. Mycroft opened his mouth to ask how on earth is brother had gotten it before deciding the he did not want to know. "It is a passable attempt," Sherlock sniffed, flicking through the file, "But you are clearly missing most of the critical threads."
"I know," Mycroft agreed, "I am certain you are the only who capable of unraveling it completely."
"Then why not give it to me before now?"
Mycroft shot his brother a rueful smile, "Would you believe that I was trying to protect you?"
Sherlock glanced up sharply, his blue-grey eyes boring into Mycroft's. "Well, you certainly botched that up," he said finally.
Sherlock sighed and closed the file, "I'm assuming he offered you information on the key code, and perhaps a few tidbits about some prominent terrorist cells."
Sherlock starred up at the ceiling, "It's no real, you know, they key code. He just made it up."
Fifty curses in a dozen language surged through Mycroft's head all at once. He made use of a few choice ones before finally asking, "When did you figure it out?"
"Sooner than Moriarty thought, just before I went to the roof…but not soon enough."
"He really is dead then?" Jim Moriarty seemed too inhuman to die, almost like Sherlock.
"Yes," Sherlock said matter-of-factly, still inspecting the ceiling, "He went to the rooftop ready to die. It was simple enough to convince him to go through with the suicide."
"You convinced him to shoot himself," Mycroft breathed, "How?"
"I promised to shake hands with him in hell," Sherlock said with a small, fierce smile.
"There was something in Sherlock's eyes…a wild darkness that had always lurked beneath the surface but was rarely called to the forefront…that made the Elder Holmes shudder involuntarily: "I do not doubt you would."
Sherlock shot his brother a look that resembled both a grimace and a mirthless smile before returning to his study of the ceiling.
The silence dragged on for several uncomfortable minutes, "Mummy got your message," Mycroft said finally.
A strange look-was it guilt?-flickered across Sherlock's features before being buried beneath his expressionless façade, "Yes."
"Do you wish to tell her?"
"Sherlock, she was heartbroken."
"And you think John isn't," Sherlock hissed, his eyes flashing with renewed rage
Of course, Sherlock was right. "He does not believe you were a fraud," Mycroft murmured.
"I know," Sherlock sighed, "I hoped that lie would make it easier for him…it is far simpler to hate a fraud…but it was unlikely."
They lapsed, once again, into silence. Sherlock resumed his inspection of the ceiling with a small, broken, frown, and Mycroft studied Sherlock. He wondered when his little brother had finally grown up, when he had finally found something he cared about more than himself, more than the Work, his reputation, everything that had, not long ago, made him Sherlock. When had the cold, tormented, self-destructive youth been replaced with the man who threw himself off a building to save the people he loved? How had Mycroft missed the change?
"Did you tell him about this place?" Sherlock's words came in a rush as he indicated the closet (though Mycroft still thought of it as The Palace) around him, but his gaze did not waver from the ceiling.
"Moriarty? No," Mycroft said firmly.
"Why not?" Mycroft read the silent accusation on his brother's features: You told him everything else.
It was several seconds before Mycroft could bring himself to speak: "For the same reason you never told John why you still keep your closet in 221b empty." He knew Sherlock would hear what remained unsaid: Those memories are sacred.
Sherlock did not answer. Instead, he turned the full force of his gaze on Mycroft. It was a terribly uncomfortable experience; the Elder Holmes felt as if the blue-grey eyes were piercing his soul, but Mycroft did not look away. After a long moment that seemed also to be an eternity, Sherlock nodded.
Mycroft sighed again, in relief this time, as the weight of twenty years' worth of silent conversations, of battles and betrayals with their endless cycles of hatred, forgiveness, resentment, and affection eased a little. He felt both ancient and young. The past, especially the recent past, was by no means forgotten or forgiven…far from it, but the memory of a long-gone childhood resuscitated the hope that, perhaps, they would one day call each other brothers. It was more than Mycroft had dared hope for five minutes ago.
"When do you intend to leave?" Mycroft said finally. As always, Sherlock understood. I am so glad to have you home, please do not feel you need to leave quickly.
Sherlock stood, "I should leave immediately. It has been twelve hours; most of Moriarty's men will have stopped searching." I know, but I have another home, and another family, and I will not rest until they are safe.
"Stay the night at least." You need to rest.
"I can't." I won't.
"Sherlock," Mycroft half-growled, half-pleaded."Stay just a few hours, and I will be able to procure you a new identity, which will save you far more time than you will be spending here." Let me help you. Please.
Sherlock scowled, "Fine." But only for John's sake.
Mycroft nodded, pulled out his phone, and began making calls. Sherlock sat back down in the closet, leaned his head against the wall, and closed his eyes-clearly more exhausted than he had been letting on.
"Finished," Mycroft announced fifteen minutes later. Sherlock's eyes snapped open, all traces of weariness gone. "You are now officially a special agent deep undercover in Her Majesty's service…It is merely a technicality," Mycroft rolled his eyes at this brother's scowl: "You are not accountable to anyone, but it will give you access to all the government's resources, should you ever feel you need them. Your new identification papers, along with a debit card with a million pounds, will be dropped in the post box in approximately six hours. And before you ask, I was more than discreet. You are a ghost in the system; no one, not even the people making the papers, have enough information to know you are alive." Sherlock nodded in satisfaction, and Mycroft stood and stretched his limbs. The conversation was over, and they were both due for some sleep. "Do try to get some rest," he said as he laid his hand on the door handle.
Sherlock stood and glided across the room, stopping a few feet away from his brother, "Eventually."
It was the best Mycroft could hope for, so he nodded and turned to leave. He hesitated, his hand pulling the door open before he snapped it shut and whirled around again. Perhaps it was because this was the first time they were both in Sherlock's bedroom since Mycroft had first visited after starting University, perhaps it was because they were both exhausted, perhaps it was the hope-inducing words of a certain army doctor, perhaps the observations of a distraught mother, or perhaps it was because he was so relieved that Sherlock was really, truly alive, but Mycroft found himself asking, "When did you change it back?"
Sherlock blinked, "What?" Mycroft could not tell if his brother's confusion was genuine, or if he simply did not want to talk about it. Mycroft hesitated; Holmes' did not discuss emotions, the past….sentiment. More to the point, he and Sherlock never discussed such trivial, normal things.
Then again, Sherlock was about to embark on the most dangerous and difficult case of his life; both of them knew it was possible that he would never return, and Mycroft was the only one, with the exception of Miss Hooper, who knew that he was alive.
Much as they both rued change, a slight adjustment in their relationship seemed necessary.
"Your Mind Palace," Mycroft said finally, "You told me you changed it to a Laboratory, but John referred to it as a Palace." Sherlock's face was expressionless, and it took all of Mycroft's considerable will to hold his gaze, "When did you change it back?"
Sherlock cocked his head and stared at Mycroft with narrowed eyes. It was nearly half a minute before he sighed, a deep, tired sigh that seemed to say everything and nothing. Then he straightened himself, and said slowly, "It was always a Palace." Then he smirked, a strange smirk that was both conceited and strangely sad. How foolish you are to think I am able to simply delete you.
"Ah," because even emotionally competent individuals would not be able to describe the staggering wave of…was there even a word? Relief, gratitude, love? None of them sufficed.
Nevertheless, he could not simply walk out now, so he settled on saying something trite, mundane, normal…"Good luck." Good luck, dear brother, and know that I love you more than I can say, and you could never make me prouder.
Sherlock's lips peaked up in something that vaguely resembled a smile, "I thought we agreed caring is not an advantage."
Mycroft smiled. You know you were always the exception. "Goodbye Sherlock."
"Goodbye Mycroft," Sherlock said, without any sarcasm. And thank you.
The Elder Holmes nodded, because he knew what his brother's silent gratitude really meant. A strange, foreign lump rose in his throat; it was time to leave before he broke down competely. With a final nod to his brother, Mycroft turned and left the room.
He did not try to be there when Sherlock slipped away. Everything there was to say (and not say) had been said (and spoken in silence), and Mycroft knew his brother would prefer to begin his journey in solitude. Instead, the Elder Holmes got nine-and-a-half hours of sleep-by far the longest night's rest he had had in nearly three years-showered, and dressed leisurely before heading downstairs.
The house was silent; perhaps Mummy had finally drifted off to sleep. Mycroft felt a brief twang of guilt for their deception, but Sherlock was right, it could not be helped, so Mycroft deleted the feeling.
He instructed the cook to prepare him an omelet and, while he waited, wandered outside to check the post box. He opened the box and smiled; Sherlock had taken everything, including the mobile Mycroft had ordered placed there. Still smiling, he strolled back into the house, settled himself at the dining room table with his laptop, his omelet, and a cup of tea, and began attacking his mountain of work. The first order of business was to set up level four protection around John Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Molly Hooper, and Greg Lestrade. While he had no doubt Sherlock successfully convinced the world that he was dead, once he started eliminating some of the key strands of Moriarty's web, someone would undoubtedly realize the truth, and the lives of Sherlock's friends would be in peril again. Mycroft was determined to prevent this eventuality, without their knowledge of course. John in particular was already more than ready to kill him.
The next few hours passed peacefully as Mycroft methodically worked through his barrage of emails. It was only after he had given the go-ahead for the North Korean sabotage operation that he realized it was nearly noon, and Mummy really should be up.
Sighing, he closed his laptop, stood, and made his way upstairs. To his mild surprise, Mummy was not in her room, and, judging by the state of her bed, she had not slept the night before.
His phone pinged. Mycroft pulled it out of his pocket and read the message with a small smile.
Departing. Take care of John -SH
Smiling, Mycroft quickly typed a response.
Naturally. – MH
The response was nearly instantaneous.
Disabled the GPS tracker in this. - SH
Needed to give you something to do while you waited for your flight. -MH
As Mycroft anticipated, there was no reply. Pocketing the phone, he resumed his search for Mummy.
He found her, unsurprisingly, in Sherlock's room. She was finally asleep, curled under the covers of his bed. The photo album was clutched to her chest. Mycroft briefly considered waking her before deciding that there was really no need. "Imagine that," he murmured to her, "Fire and ice do sustain each other after all." Then turned to leave, his thoughts already forming his newest strategy to mediate the latest squabble in Parliament, but a flicker in the corner of his eye made him pause and enticed him to turn towards the closet-palace.
The closet door was ajar; Mycroft was just able to see a corner of the blue blanket, folded neatly on the floor. It took him another moment to realize what had changed.
Since the closet door was partially open, the front of it was not immediately visible. Mycroft had trained himself to avoid looking at the door anyway, not wanting to be reminded of the sign that had once hung there before it was torn off and destroyed in Sherlock's rage, leaving the door, and their relationship, burned, destroyed, empty.
Except the door was not empty.
Hardly daring to breathe, Mycroft approached the closet door and ran his trembling fingers over the paper now hanging there. The sign was abused: wrinkled, stained, torn, and burned. Yet Mycroft could still make out the words painstakingly written by a five-year-olds unsteady hand nearly twenty-five years ago, words that an eleven-year-old had miraculously decided not to destroy, words that a twenty-eight-year-old had returned to their original home.
My and Sherlock's Palace
Fumbling for his phone, Mycroft typed a message. His fingers hovered over the keys for a moment before he finally pressed "Send".
You are still my first priority. –MH
Then, for the first time since he comforted his hysterical three-year-old brother all those years ago, a tear ran down Mycroft Holmes' cheek.
a/n Again, thank you so much for all of your support. This is the first time I have shared my personal writing to the public, and it has been an amazing experience...mostly because of all of you. :)
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially on this chapter. It was incredibly complicated writing any type of a reunion for these two without going completely OOC, and I'd love to know how you think I did/how I could improve.
Thank you so much for reading :)