Characters Sherlock/Irene, Sherlock&John, Mycroft/Anthea, Lestrade, Sally Donovan, Anderson, Moriarty
Length 40,000+ 16 Chapters
Four days into the joint mission with MI5, Sherlock was ready to murder Sally Donovan. Out of all his former colleagues, Sally was the one person he least wanted to work with again. Apparently, in the intervening three years nothing had happened to either cool her ire or dampen her hate. They had been confined together in a small conference room inside MI5 headquarter at Thames House for the last hour rehearsing Sherlock’s cover story as Dr Sigerson, and tempers were fraying on both sides.
“Freak, you’re supposed to remember this by now,” she snapped.
“I do remember it all. Your face is distracting my thoughts.” For a moment he thought she might slap him – which would have made for an entertaining two minutes of combat before he subdued her – but instead, she threw down the pile of cue cards and stormed across the room. “I thought you said we weren’t done yet,” said Sherlock smugly.
“We’re not,” hissed Sally, turning to face him in the doorway. “I’m getting coffee.”
“Black, two sugars,” ordered Sherlock.
She slammed the door in his face, which Sherlock thought was incredibly childish of a woman who spent so much of her life complaining about his unprofessional behaviour.
Greg Lestrade, the head of Section D at the counter-terrorism branch and Sherlock’s former boss, came in seconds later with a weary expression and more grey hairs than Sherlock remembered.
“Nice to see you’re back on form,” muttered Lestrade, rubbing his stubble-covered chin. The man had clearly spent the last three days sleeping in his office.
“Wife off with…let me think…PE teacher?” asked Sherlock, though even he knew it was somewhat petty to voice this now.
“Geography teacher actually,” replied Lestrade calmly. “We’re getting a divorce.”
For a moment Sherlock was at a loss for what to say. Divorce, he’d been told, was one of life’s worst experiences. If this was true, he couldn’t fathom why people got married in the first place. Still, he felt somewhat obliged to change the subject. “I can’t work with Donovan.”
Lestrade gave him a half-hearted glare. “There’s always Anderson.”
“Not Anderson, never Anderson,” bit Sherlock. “Don’t you remember that he blew my cover in the Congo? I was this close to catching Moriarty!”
“You went off the grid! You were also this close to blowing our entire African operation,” said Lestrade, raising his booming voice. “We had to shut you down.”
“And because of you, Moriarty lived long enough to get his hands on a nuclear bomb!”
“I thought you told Irene that you were over this. Jesus Christ, Sherlock, the man’s dead. He’s been dead for two years.” Lestrade sounded, if possible, even more tired than before. His posture sagged as if the weight on his shoulders was too much to bear.
“I can’t be bothered to argue with you right now,” hissed Sherlock, “but you are the ones who are taking over my operation.”
“Don’t kid yourself into thinking we wanted to do this either,” muttered Lestrade, “but heaven knows working with you is not as bad as letting London become a radioactive wasteland.”
Sally appeared a moment later with two cups of coffee, neither of which was for Sherlock. “Time to get back to work, freak,” said Sally with an acrid tone, as she picked up the cue cards.
“Well, try to make it easier for everyone by turning to face the wall,” replied Sherlock with false politeness.
“Sherlock!” Greg Lestrade sounded frustrated, but there was just a hint of amusement in his tone that suggested perhaps he had missed Sherlock’s particular brand of interpersonal communication.
“You know what,” continued Lestrade, sipping his coffee, “go and rehearse your backstory with Irene instead. She’s back from her meeting with the Joint Intelligence Committee.”
Sally looked set to complain, but quickly came to the realisation that having to spend more time with Sherlock was far worse than the insult of having her job handed to Irene. Sherlock, meanwhile, had already raced out of the room with Sally’s cue cards in hand.
Irene was wearing a smart business suit today and her voluminous, dark hair was pulled back into a professional bun. She looked exquisitely dangerous, and it aroused all the base instincts that Sherlock usually worked hard to suppress – though at this moment, he was making very little attempt to do so. Irene, who knew him far too well, merely gave Sherlock a withering look before sitting down and studying the cue cards.
“The rebels have never met Dr Sigerson,” stated Irene, “they have no idea what he looks like, or what his voice sounds like. Our sources have also reassured us that the LRA have no idea what Sherlock Holmes looks like, so your job isn’t going to be very difficult.”
“I do have to invent a persona, though.”
“Arrogant, detached and utterly delusional,” replied Irene.
“Are you describing me or Dr Sigerson?”
There was a wicked curl to Irene’s lips. “You know what the big problem with any disguise is, Mr Holmes? However hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”
Sherlock couldn’t help the smile spreading across his features at the reference to their first-ever meeting, ten years ago. She had said exactly the same thing to him as he sat on her couch in a ridiculously obvious disguise whilst she happily pranced around stark naked, proving the point that even the great Sherlock Holmes could be distracted by the beguiling feminine form in all its natural glory – particularly when the form in question was also exquisitely dangerous and devastatingly intelligent.
“You think I’m a vicar with a bleeding face,” he replied right on cue.
“No, I think you’re damaged, delusional and believe in a higher power,” replied Irene, leaning forward so far in her seat that their faces were just inches apart.
Although she had aged since their first explosive meeting, time had only made her more extraordinary. Sherlock was beginning to think he would never unravel the mystery that was Irene Adler, and deep down he didn’t really want to.
“Shall we continue, Mr Holmes?” she asked, primly satisfied.
He nodded impassively, putting the brief moment of amusement behind him and focusing his mind on the mission.
“I am Dr Lars Sigerson, date of birth: 4th of May 1977. I grew up in Stockholm and went to a government school – The Hans Christensen International – where I developed a fascination with electronics. I studied electrical engineering at the University of Stockholm and set up my own company, manufacturing circuit boards for the timed explosives used in mining operations. The company became insolvent in June 2007 due to the international credit crisis and I lost everything. Disillusioned with the capitalist system and blaming the British Empire for my misfortune, I became radicalised by a small group of European fanatics called the Frihet Allians. I honed my bomb-making skills for the terror cell and gathered an extensive group of secret international contacts. I first met an LRA contact in May 2012 and after much debate decided to provide them my expertise. The LRA are not just expecting me, but also the whole service package: logistics, materials, etc.”
“Yes, and I will have the joy of posing as your procurement expert,” replied Irene with a wry smile.
“I’m sure you’re looking forward to it,” deadpanned Sherlock.
“Well, Dr Sigerson, I think we are ready release you into the wild.”