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Hey, the ferry is still running, from the Basin de l' Atlantique, twice a day)

When the two men reached Abbeville, still on Route A16, Monsieur LeBlanc did some fancy manouevering to see that no one was following them, a wise precaution in the circumstances, and then drove to the banks of La Somme, parking near a bistrot with the apposite name Chez Jules, and Sherlock remembered how Mycroft had insisted on his perfecting his French by reading the entirety of Commissaire Maigret's stories, by Georges Simenon. Maybe they had been the deciding factor in his decision to become a consulting detective rather than an implausible pirate, back then.

They got out of the car and entered the bistrot. In the usual dimmed light of the inside of such a place, Monsieur LeBlanc steered both of them to a little marble-topped table in a corner, and Sherlock immediately registered how the nondescript man sitting there in his off-the-peg clothes had picked the best spot for ensuring privacy and for being able to observe all customers entering or leaving. Monsieur Ganimard was no slouch when it came to work, then, although Sherlock, approaching him, could see that the man, like DI Lrstrade was in an unhappy marriage, plagued by his wife's infidelities...but, wait a second...he had a mistress on the side! Oh, those French and their libertarian attitudes! Anyway, he wasn't here to find out about Monsieur Ganimard's sexual life, but about Mary!

Once all three were seated and two more cafe au lait had been ordered, Monsieur Ganimard gushed: Mr Sholmes, you can't fathom how great an honour you are doing me just by being here! It is a privilege I shall recount to my grandchildren, without the details of the case, of course!"

"Thank you, Monsieur, now if you could give us the details of your collaboration with Abbigail Aarons, alias Mary Watson, I would be extremely grateful." Manners were not his style, as he tore through cases like a tornado, but past experience had taught him that excessive politeness worked on the French like grease or machine oil worked on machines.

"Well, Monsieur Sholmes, it is true that we arranged three eliminations for Made

moiselle Aarons, and two of them went like a dream. She was in position, she took out the targets, she left having recovered the spent cartidges like a thoroughing professional, but the third assignment involved an Australian Greenpeace agitator, who had been causing us a lot of grief after the unfortunate mishap. You do unrestand, Monsieur Sholmes, that it is never easy to look foolish in the eyes of the other secret services, never mind having to surrender your own operatives to justice! Think of your own time spent in an MI6 holding cell after having done exactly what your instructions were! Anyway, I instructed Ms Aarons to wound that person as a warning. He had been warned not to continue with his illicit propaganda to no effect. I don't know exactly what happened on his tiny, thirty- foot yacht off the shore of Toulon, but he was found killed, with precise shots to the chest, alongside his twin daughters, aged nine, shot with equal precision. Our director decided that this occurrence constituted overkill, so I released Ms Aarons to go her way and deploy her considerable talents elsewhere. Children are not guilty, they should be spared, if at all possible. So, our connection to Ms Aarons was terminated."

That was because she was being busy getting her nursing certificate and landing a job in John's surgery, were the first thoughts that came to Sherlock's mind, but to what purpose, now that he knew the whole MARY-Janine-Moriarty angle!

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"Did you try to keep any sort of eye on her after parting ways?  Surely someone that dangerous would have been tracked at least for a time."
 
"Sorry Monsieur Holmes, she went off grid almost immediately.  We had her tracked for about 2 days with no information.  She didn't go anywhere or talk to anyone for nearly 48 hours.  The last 2 hours of that, she left her flat in Paris, boarded the Metro at Châtelet-Les Halles and took it down to the stop at Gare de l'Est train station.  She arrived at the main lobby, then disappeared.  We checked everything including the date/time stamp on the CCTV's.  Nothing was out of the ordinary or out of order.  We even had people check the floor for hidden trap doors and the likes.  We continued to monitor for her but nothing showed up until she arrived with a carry cot that we assumed had a baby in it.  She was off grid almost as soon as she was on grid."

 

"Thank you Monsieur Ganimard.  At last check she was in Bray Dunes taking a little nap in a quaint restaurant called La Voile Bleue.  I suspect that she and her little entourage should be waking up shortly.  Monsieur Leblanc, we need to be off in haste.  I have transportation I must catch."  Sherlock got up and made his way towards the exit not really caring if Monsieur Leblanc followed.  He needed to catch the ferry from Calais to Dover.  He knew that Mary and Janine would be waking up from their little nap soon.  He also wanted to try to connect with Anthea for the return trip home.  He wanted his goddaughter as safe as humanly possible.  

 

Monsieur Leblanc followed in haste not wanting his transportation destroyed worse than crazy driving would already provide.  He knew that Sherlock would probably want to take the wheel this time already knowing the route back to the faster sports car.  He had figured correctly as Sherlock was standing on the driver's side. "Keys please.  I will drive faster even if you know the roads better.  I need to get to Calais."  Leblanc tossed the keys to Sherlock before getting in on the passenger side.  Sherlock had the car in gear and taking off before Leblanc even had his door closed and seat belt buckled.  He barely managed to stay in the car as Sherlock tore down the roadway back towards Calais.  

 

Sherlock turned onto A16 flipping a switch he had noticed in his brief wait for Leblanc to catch up.  Lights and sirens started blaring thus allowing Sherlock to bypass any toll they came across.  He did not have time for that little delay.  Sherlock sped up the car to 180 km/h allowing him to get to Calais in about 40 minutes instead of just over an hour.  He slowed down as he got into the city while still speeding through it to get to the docks.  He raced to the ferries catching sight of Anthea's car.  She was waiting in line to board as the ferry was ushering off the last of its passengers from the previous trip.  He turned off the lights and sirens and pulled his car up next to hers confirming that he indeed had the correct car.  He rolled down his window tapping on hers startling her slightly.  He gave her a big grin.  Sherlock put the car in park, hopped out and quickly made his way over to the passenger side of Anthea's car hopping in.  Leblanc quickly switched seats and proceeded to move his car out of the way leaving Sherlock to continue his quest.

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(If he goes to Calais and she is in the Basin de l'Atlantique, they won't be catching the same ferries, and he still has a French case to resolve! And you actually had her board the ferry in a previous instalmement: what's going on?)

"Anthea, I'm sorry I startled you so, but I got all the information I needed from Mary's past handler, so I came to give you an update and then continue my mission here," he explained, looking to check that the baby was still slumbering quietly. That benzodiazepines concoction he and Bill Wiggins had come up with on the run-up for last Christmas worked like a charm!

"And what are your plans now, Mr Holmes?"

"You are to convey all the information Monsieur Ganimard gave to me considering Mary, since I was recording our conversation at the time without his knowledge, a very trusting bunch these DGSE fellows, to my brother, the same way you deliver the baby to John for safe-keeping. The work I have to complete for them sounds rather tedious: finding a Minister's mistress and all that sort of thing! Get yourself all sorted out, be prepared to protect Sheralyn with your life, and expect upgdates any day at any time, since I don't know how long it may take me to help Lestrade's French colleagues. At least, they are more effusive in their praise, which is always a balm to one's ego, even if it's all flummery!"

"Right! What shall I do once I'm in Britain?"

"Hand Sheralyn back to Dr Watson, ensure that my brother continues his surveillance of them both, as any good PA would do, and resume your duties. In the meantime, I have a disappearance to clear up, not to mention a wrathful Mary and Janine to dodge, when they come to their senses. Safe trip and all that!" He pecked her on the cheek, saw her blush a bit under her flawless make-up and got out of the car to go back to Monsieur Ganimard and the woes of the DGSE and the Paris police. After all, a locked room mystery had always attracted him!

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(She boarded in Dunkirk and was heading to Calais.  I had her boarding a different ferry in Calais than what she came over on from Dunkirk.  Also forgot about Sherlock's case in France actually needing him there.)

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Anthea boarded the ferry for Dover, England.  Once aboard she again found a quiet mostly hidden corner where she could see most of her section of the ferry.  She settled down with the still sleeping Sheralyn not sure how long the baby would sleep before waking.  She had about 2 hours before reaching British soil and another 2 hours to London before she and the baby were in Mycroft's safety.  She tried to keep herself looking busy while keeping an eye on what was going around her.  She was OK with children but was not one to have to watch them for long periods of time.  She would be thankful when this portion of her job was done.

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Meanwhile, Sherlock was being debriefed by the two French agents on the young woman's disappearance as they drove south to Reims on the A36 and then took the autoroute to reach Malmaison, a quiet little town near Paris, famous for having been the favourite dwelling of Josephine, Empress of the French, who loved roses and had kept a rose garden there. Strange how he hadn't deleted that tidbit, since he was only interested in history as it concerned famous crimes: he especially liked to delve into the unsolved ones as a mental exercise, and the French had had some 'causes celebres' over the centuries!

It seemed that the young lady who had vanished had been entertaining the Minister and a couple of friends, when, after coffee had been served, she had excused herself to go to freshen up and had never returned. The Gendarmerie had been summoned, and it was ascertained that the bathroom had been locked from the inside, but the door was apparently the only means of exit, the window being too high up and with bars on the outside.

Monsieur Ganimard provided Sherlock with the photographic evidence in their file, but, as usual, he wanted to look the place over for himself.

After a long and monotonous trip, during which Anthea should have reached Dover and started on the road to London, they reached Malmaison very late in the evening. The two agents offered to take him to a hotel to rest, and he accepted only grudgingly, since he could see how tired they looked. If it had been Lestrade or Donovan who had made the suggestion, they would have received the usual tongue-lashing for presuming that he couldn't function without sleep. But there was always Mycroft's admonition in the back of his mind to treat the French more delicately; so, although he wanted nothing better than to be taken to the Minister's villa and look the place over, he allowed himself to be taken to a nearby motel.

They took their travelling gear out of the car, located their rooms, and then the French agents wished him a good night and retired.

Sherlock didn't altogether dislike this little pause, because he had to order all the information about Mary which he had perceived himself and which had been supplied by the French. He took off his jacket and shoes and lay on the bed , which was surprisingly comfortable, to think.

The next thing he knew was Monsieur Ganimard knocking on his door asking if he would like to join them for breakfast. He had been more tired than he would like to admit, after all. Calling out that he would be with them in ten minutes, he rushed to the bathroom, washed up as much as possible, plugged in his electric razor for a very hasty shave, and tried to comb his hair into some semblance of order.

Then he went to join Ganimard and LeBlanc for a cafe au lait and a truly delicious fresh chocolate croissant. Tea was not to be countenanced in France, that he knew from past experience!

They also had a bit of interesting information to impart: Mary and Janine had left their hideout, had been picked up quite by chance on a traffic camera, and were being followed. Apparently, they were heading for the Belgian border.

But that wasn't the order of business today: he had to solve the French case and get back to John and the baby the soonest possible. He knew that Anthea was a first-class agent, quite apart from her other remarkable quality of being able to put up with his brother on a daily basis, but he wouldn't rest easy until he received confirmation that she and Sheralyn were back under his brother's protection.

He harried the two Frenchmen into finishing breakfast and getting to the crime scene.

The villa was a 19th century construction full of marble stairs and decorative panels on the walls of the reception area and the dining room, as well as luxurious bed chambers with four-poster beds and a bit of gilding on the cornices. But the bathroom had been modernised, probably upgraded from a former lady's day room, so it included a jacuzzi and a marble bathtub as well as the usual fixtures. One thing that caught his attention was a large, glass-fronted wardrobe, which was built into one of the walls, so it hadn't been removed during the refurbishment. When he tried to open it, he found it was locked.

"Who holds the key to this?" he asked the two agents. They shrugged: "Probably the housekeeper," ventured Monsieur Ganimard.

"Could you please tell her to come up and bring the key? Also, I would like to have a blueprint of the changes made to the villa, as well as a copy of the original building plans."

"I'm not sure Monsieur le Ministre would like us snooping into his affairs in that way," replied Monsieur LeBlanc.

This raised Sherlock's hackles: they wanted him to solve the problem but weren't willing to do his bidding!

"Gentlemen, you are two of the most busy men in this country, and in my own small way I have also a good many calls upon me. I regret exceedingly that I cannot help you in this matter, and any continuation of this discussion would be a waste of time!"

Both Frenchmen stiffened at the not-so-veiled insult, but he couldn't care less: they either co-operated fully, or he would excuse himself and leave. They locked glances, and he won the blinking contest: LeBlanc turned on his heel and pushed the button that would summon the serving staff.

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(Dear SherlockedCamper, please do not overwrite my contributions in Ao3, as I edit them a bit, many thanks)

When the housekeeper arrived, the portly middle-aged woman was able to confirm that the building itself dated from the eighteenth century, when it had been a simple hunting lodge, but had had the distinction of housing king Louis XV himself, when he visited the area on his way back to Versailles. Since the two places lay at practically opposite sides of Paris, it made eminent good sense that the king, famous for his excesses in all matters, would have had his mistress of the day brought to him in the lodge. Sherlock, more than ever, wanted to get his hands on the blueprints of the renovations made. That antique wardrobe drew him like a magnet. Still, he had to try: "Madame, do you, by any chance, have the keys to the glass-fronted wardrobe in the bathroom?"

"Certainly, Monsieur, but it's just an airing cabinet for linen and towels now."

"Nevertheless, I would like to have a look inside, if you would be so kind."

"Certainly, Monsieur, I shall fetch the key immediately," she replied and returned shortly after with a gold-planted key in her hands.

The four of them got back into the bathroom, where she used the key to open the wardrobe. Both doors were made of glass set in deep millions, it was thick and of a peculiar shade of blue that was evidence of its great antiquity. It was so roomy that had it not been packed with bed sheets, pillow cases and all sorts of towels in their respective shelves, a man could very well stand upright in it with perfect comfort.

Sherlock went about examining the interior with his pocket lens and the help of his pen flashlight. After a great deal of moving stuff around, having discovered in the process that the shelves were adjustable, obviously a modern addition, he came across a notch in the wood. When he pressed his finger on it a little panel slid back, revealing a small button. He gave one of his little chortled of triumph and turned to the two agents: "Well, gentlemen, there's your answer. The lady disappeared of her own volition. You should put all her friends and relatives under surveillance to discover with whom she has taken shelter from what was a rather abusive relationship."

All three looked at him as if he were speaking an alien language and not perfectly accented French!

 

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(Sorry about that Joanneta.  I forgot to put on here that I put up the chapters as drafts based on what we have here.  The remaining draft chapters are what we have written so far that make complete chapters.  More to be completed soon.)

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Heaving yet another sigh, Sherlock turned to them: "Just look at it! This button should engage a very old mechanism for getting in and out of this room. It wasn't always a bathroom, it must have served as a day or dressing room for the lady of the house, and since there's incontrovertible evidence that the lady in question could not have escaped through the barred window, she must have escaped in the same way that the king's mistress was brought into the villa, namely by this route!" he explained and pushed the button.

One panel of the wardrobe opened to reveal a narrow passage beyond.

"That passage must be at least ten metres deep to connect it safely to the outside world, with a length that leads just outside the perimeter wall, so about a hundred metres. King Louis must have received the visit of his mistress in the hunting lodge through this tunnel. Gentlemen, get some torches and let's see where this leads."

The two agents made themselves ready to follow him down the steps of this peculiar tunnel, armed with powerful torches thanks to the housekeeper, since his pen light would never have sufficed.

Sherlock had to stoop, since the tunnel wasn't meant for six-foot tall men but much more petite figures, but he led the way with an assured pace and a near certainty of what he would find on the other side: barely a three on his scale, but anything to please the head of the DGSE and keep Mycroft off his back!

When they reached the end of the tunnel, they found an ancient-looking mechanism that operated with levers. Sherlock handled them until they turned obligingly, leading them into the basement of a disused barn. There were signs of a recent human presence in the disturbed clusters of hay on the rotting wooden floor, indicating the passage of a person rather recently. He pointed them out, and Ganimard couldn't restrain himself from asking: "How, in God's name, Monsieur Sholmes, did you know it would be here?"

"Elementary, Monsieur, it could not have been anywhere else, given the circumstances of the disappearance! Now, I would suggest a little bit of refreshment while you detail your discovery to your chief of operations, and then a swift trip to the nearest aeroport, so I can get back to London. There are so many loose threads that need my attention at this point, they would give you a proper headache to unravel!"

(OK, OK, I know! But if Messrs Moffat and Gatiss can do it, so should the fans! No doubt Toby will pick up the other statement in my previous post, as well, but, in my defence, The Second Stain is my favourite!)

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"Oui Monsieur Holmes.  We will get you there straight a way."  With that the gentlemen went back to the house to return the torches before heading back to the meeting with the chief of operations.  

 

Before long Sherlock was back on a plane heading for his beloved London and Gatwick Airport.  He made contact with his brother to arrange a pickup at the airport as he made his way to the charter plane in Le Touquet.  Now he was sitting back in the small Cessna enjoying the short flight over the English Channel or so he thought.

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A text came in, "There once was a lass so mad, She ran all the way to Chad, a wee leprechaun, came running along, and he made her all so glad."  

 

A limerick, Sherlock thought. How could Mycroft be so daft?  He looked out that window and knew exactly why he received it.  He responded with his own, "Roethenbach im Emmental, Reichenbach im Kandertal, The cats not straying, And then not weighing, Oberwil im Simmental."  

 

As much as his response was made up of cities in Switzerland and he knew it was risky including Reichenbach even if it wasn't the actual falls of Reichenbach, Sherlock's response was acknowledgement that he understood where he was going and that he was being tracked.  He had no idea why he was flying to Limerick, Ireland.  He just knew that was not the plan he and his brother had set up.

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(Any ideas on what to do with my crazy plot twist?)

 

 

Anthea arrived in London without any issues.  Sheralyn was still very much asleep.  She wondered how strong the drug was that Sherlock gave the little lass.  Anthea navigated her way to Mycroft's office at the Diogenes Club.  So far that was the safest place for Sheralyn.  Wilder showed her to where Mycroft was waiting.

 

"Thank you Wilder, that will be all."  Mycroft dismissed the gentleman before turning to Anthea, "Ah, I see Sherlock put Sheralyn soundly to sleep.  The Christmas concoction if I'm not mistaken.  She'll be a sleep another hour or so before waking up.  Tell me what you know then we will be on the way to my place.  She will be safe there.  I will need you to help keep an eye on her as my staff will be gone and John will be helping me track Sherlock who should be landing in Limerick any time now.  I've been in contact with the French authorities as well as the Irish ones.  With any luck, we should have Sherlock heading back here within the hour."

 

"Yes sir, I understand.  So his case in France was part a ruse?"

 

"Yes, but not completely.  It was a legitimate case but with ulterior motives attached to it.  They never needed his help.  They just wanted it to get the plane set up to send him to Ireland instead of back home with you.  Secretly those 2 men had very loose connections with Moriarty.  They have now been charged with several crimes including kidnapping, treason, and associating with a known master criminal.  There are several more charges pending here in Great Britain as well."  Mycroft did love making peoples lives miserable when they tried to do harm to his little brother.

 

Anthea quickly relayed what happened in France and what she saw on the ferries.  Everything fell into place with what Mycroft was thinking when he realized his brother was being diverted from London.  "Yes, your help at my place is definitely most crucial.  Is the car you have still out front?"

 

"Yes sir."

 

"Good drive around the block and return to the back entrance.  I will meet you there with Sheralyn.  We will head to my place following the route I will give you.  I trust Wilder, have him escort you out as if you are being tossed out.  Make a scene once you get outside.  He will understand."  Anthea nodded her acknowledgement and headed to the car.

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Sorry, cannot do Ireland, as I would have to rely on Google maps to create even a smidgeon of a plot. Belfast and Mary with Janine back in home stretch, seeking the baby and vengeance?

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Belfast is Northern Ireland, not Ireland.  Either way it is easy enough to have something happen at the airport near Limerick so that Sherlock is immediately escorted back to London safely.  He likes to put up a good fight as we've seen in TBB, TGG, and ASIB.

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That's what I'm saying: Belfast and environs, NOT the Republic of Ireland. Summer holidays are not conducive to deep thought, sorry! Will eventually come up with something! Might borrow bits and pieces from Cabin Pressure, it's a hoot!

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I wouldn't mind that.  The few episodes I heard had me laughing.

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After the short flight in the Cessna from Le Touquet to the French Air Force base near Roissy, Sherlock was escorted to a much posher Learjet that was supposed to take him to London according to the agreement with the French authorities.

The Lear jet which Sherlock had boarded at the French military airfield close to Roissy seemed to be speeding him towards home, John and the baby, and since his last cryptic communication with Mycroft, he knew that his own safety was compromised, because the people Ganimard and Leblanc and himself had left behind, when they took off for Malmaison, we're now under arrest and probably being interrogated in the usual French secret services manner: not exactly the Serbian approach, but with no kid gloves either. He found himself huddling down in his seat, trying to wrap himself in his jacket in an involuntary shiver. Where was his trench coat when he needed it, blast the heat?

However, since his seat was right next to a window, he soon realised by the cast of the sun rays into the cabin, that the plane was veering slowly but certainly west, much more than an approach to any of the London aeroport said would have warranted, even the tiny London aeroport.

Since this was essentially a French military jet, there was no steward or something approaching service personnel he could ask. So, he unbuckled his seatbelt and made his way forward to the cockpit.

"Mind if I ask where we are headed, gentlemen?" His perfectly phrased polite request in French was completely lost on the pilot and co-pilot, especially since the latter turned with lightning-like reflexes to face him holding a gun with a silencer. His eidetic memory immediately recognised it as a Russian Makarov automatic able to carry soft-nosed bullets, the kind which had been carried by the KGB agent on every international Aeroflot flight back in the days of the USSR. The kind which would fire a bullet that would expend all its energy on the body, never leaving it and thus imperilling the integrity of the cabin. By this point in time, he had had enough of people trying to get potshots at him, or himself using a gun as a solution to an insoluble problem, thank you very much! He stayed stock-still, eyes locked with those of the co-pilot.

"So sorry, Mr Holmes, but we shall be making an emergency landing near Limerick, at Shannon International Airport, for you to meet our boss's right-hand man. There really is no point in putting up a fight, so I would kindly request you to go back to your seat, avail yourself of the drinks cabinet and wait until we land."

Sherlock deliberately let his shoulders slump, since he knew exactly how much internal damage one of those bullets could do, turned on his heel and went back to his seat. A nice cup of tea, brewed by John or Mrs Hudson would have helped him think, but the drinks cabinet held alcohol in miniatures and soft drinks in cans. With a growl of frustration, he almost kicked it shut.

In about an hour, they had reached their destination, and the Lear jet landed and was directed to a specific parking spot.

Both the pilot and the co-pilot escorted him down the stairs, one in front, one behind him, the gun hidden under his pilot's jacket, but still aimed squarely at Sherlock's back.

It was only a short walk to a waiting helicopter, where the two men made sure he was securely strapped in and adjusted the earphones on his head, then the co-pilot gave a thumbs-up signal, and Sherlock felt the helicopter take off.

From what he could see, they were travelling in an easterly direction, over green hilly country, but the helicopter finally landed on is deserted, cliff-beringed beach.

The pilot helped him get out of the harness and escorted him down, gently steering him in a certain direction. By this time, the events of the hectic past few days had caught up with him. Excepting the few hours of sleep he had had back at the motel near Malmaison, he had been operating on pure will for far too long. He almost swayed, as his feet propelled him forward on the surprisingly firm sand of the beach.

"Very nice to meet you at last, Mr Holmes, Jimmy always talked our ears off about you and your accomplishments!" a familiar Irish lilt hit his eardrums.

"Oh, not again! Exactly how many of you are there, anyway?" was his exasperated retort.

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Oh, we're back in business! Goody!

The dark-haired Irishman flanked by two bulky men who were clearly there for show, straightened his suit jacket, another stylish affair, but if Sherlock were an expert in women's perfumes and tobacco ash, he certainly wasn't one in men's fashion. A suit either sat well on someone or it didn't, so he couldn't say if this iteration of Moriarty was wearing the same brand as 'Jimmy' or not. And he didn't particularly care. The sheer theatricality of the location and the way the meeting had been arranged made him more than a little angry.

"Well, Mr Moriarty, since I presume you are a close relative of the late Jim, what exactly is the purpose of going to such elaborate lengths to bring me here, especially at a moment when my presence is urgently needed back in London?"

"All in good time, Mr Holmes. First, we must ensure that the baby you so resourcefully removed from the loving embrace of its mother is restored to her. Even with her past, she has rights, and kidnapping and drugging a baby to take it across European borders is still a life-sentence offence."

Sherlock couldn't believe his ears.

"So, you are telling me that returning Sheralyn to her biological fathers has now become a crime? In view of the fact that she was abandoned by her loving mother first, I cannot very well see how you are going to make such a charge stick. And ex-Colonel James Moriarty is her other father, surely a close relative to you."

"True, Mr Holmes, but, you see, while you were busy taking Jimmy's illegal operations down one by one across Europe, I was busy setting up perfectly legal ones from my offices here in Dublin. But where are my manners? James O'Connell Moriarty, barrister licenced to practice both in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and I have taken out an order of the court against you on the charge of kidnapping said baby. Consider this an elaborate citizen's arrest."

In a move clearly reminiscent of the dead master criminal, he snapped his fingers, and the two burly men started to move in Sherlock's direction.

Whereupon, tired, sleepless and worn out, but above all, incandescently angry for a reason he couldn't fathom even himself, Sherlock took to his heels across the sandy beach and started clambering over the nearby cliffs. Fortunately, this Moriarty didn't believe in shooting his prey down, so there were no gunshots, but how long could he keep running in a strange country?

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The situation was desperate, if not exactly serious, as in life-threatening serious. Once he reached the headland, Sherlock realised that they had made no move to follow him, which made perfect sense, as they had the helicopter at their disposal, and could track all his movements from the air. And his options were very limited.

He was in a strange country, he only knew that they had flown practically to the other side of Ireland, and the beach was on the coast of the Irish Sea, definitely far from any major center of civilisation, much less a convenient port or aeroport. True, he still had his wallet, passport and mobile, but in his present circumstances, they could all have been made of cardboard, so useless were they.

And during his short training in the time leading up to the Moriarty showdown, the emphasis had lain on breaking codes, infiltrating illegal operations and busting them from the inside, and much less on surviving in the wilderness, which might have been a contributing factor to his having been caught in Serbia. And the Emerald Island was not a place he had ever visited before on a case or during his two-year absence, so he had absolutely no idea how to escape these people successfully. This was not London, with its many hiding places, his favourite bolt holes, his friends and his homeless network. On top of everything else, he had not been microchipped like most afpgents on a mission abroad before setting off for that Eastern Europe jaunt, perhaps because Mycroft and Lady Smallwood had known his chances of survival, as had he, which was why he had almost overdosed on the plane.

Sherlock stopped to catch his breath and listen for the helicopter's rotors. He wasn't disappointed: they would track him like wild prey.

Basic fieldwork training allowed him to scan for any convenient copse of trees, a little hamlet or any place of concealment. He only needed to find his bearings, text Mycroft, switch off his mobile to conserve battery life, and then try, as best he could, to make his way back to the shores of Britain. One thing was sure: swimming for it was out of the question, he would probably drown from sheer exhaustion.

It has been said many times that fortune favours the brave, but in this case, Sherlock thought it would be more a case of favouring the foolhardy. He espied a small ravine in the otherwise unbroken green landscape, and before the helicopter could reach the proper height for observation, he made a sprint for it and started clambering down this time, holding on to exposed roots and balancing precariously on very narrow ledges. But the ravine had a major advantage: it was covered in all manner of vegetation, so he could use it as protective covering.

In a matter of minutes the helicopter had reached it and circled it once, then came back for a lower pass. He pressed himself back on a ledge and hoped for the best. The helicopter didn't circle a third time and he stayed put for a good five minutes before continuing his descent. He really needed to reach its rock-strewn floor before darkness really set in. After that, he would need to rest a bit and then make his way out of it inland.

Whatever he found on the other side, he would use to text Mycroft. One thing he had realised very early on was that his mobile must be bearing a tracking device not of Mycroft's doing but of his peculiar pursuer's; the mysterious barrister who was clearly a Moriarty family member. Bitterly, he thought he was becoming a sort of Hercules fighting the Hydra: the more heads he cut off or exposed in this family, the more appeared to taunt or downright harm him and his.

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Sherlock made it to the rocky floor and carefully dismantled his phone.  He found the tracking device he was looking for and tossed it in the general direction of the sea.  After reassembling his phone, he rested a few more minutes before making his trek inland along the ravine floor.  Periodically Sherlock would stop to look around making sure there were no visible signs that he was being followed.  It took him close to 3 hours to reach the end of the ravine and climb out.  Sherlock checked his phone for a signal and messaged his brother.  He found a safe hiding place and turned off his phone.

 

 

 

 

(Sorry for the delay.  Finally a little less busy and unblocked the writer's block a bit.)

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Mycroft received the coded message and immediately sent a few of his best, well-vetted men to fetch Sherlock.  The men knew the reward of getting Sherlock to Mycroft in 1 piece and the severe consequences if they did not.  Even so much as a paper cut would have dire repercussions.  In the mean time, Mycroft tended to Sheralyn while John took a much needed rest after all the turmoil he had been through.

 

Sherlock stayed hidden a few hours before he started hearing voices.  He listened carefully for who it could be.  He was prepared to fight if necessary.  He was a black belt, more or less, in Bartitsu that he had been practicing since he was a wee lad.  The men came up near where Sherlock was hidden quietly calling his coded name that Mycroft used for agents in duress.  Sherlock responded back with his possible all clear but be careful as I don't know how close danger is reply.  Sherlock looked both ways as carefully as possible before stepping out of his hiding place.  He had recognized the men as Mycroft's right away.  He knew the voices all to well.  The group quickly retreated to their transport before giving Mycroft the signal that the honey bee had been found.  it was one nickname that Sherlock didn't mind as he was rather fond of bees and knew that nickname meant Mycroft had paid attention to his younger brother's hobby despite the age gap and the physical distance between them because of their respective schools' locations.  It was also the only nickname used by any agent Mycroft had employed to find his younger brother when said agent's life was at stake should anything happen to Sherlock.

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Sherlock settled down for the approximately 1 hour flight back to England that he knew for sure was actually heading in the right direction.  He was getting tired after the many hours of being awake, being drugged, and otherwise coming down from the adrenaline rush he had been going through.  He was looking forward to curling up in his bed for a few hours before getting back into figuring out this case.

 

(Do we want to have some fun and include Eurus into this some how? I'm ok either way.)

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(Of course we can, but we cannot change the baby's name to Rosamund, remove ex-Colonel Moriarty or have Mary killed in such an offhand manner as the creators! Think of her as a true mad scientist, like so many out there in comics land, and it's feasible. )

Once the craft landed in the carefully disguised, disused former RAF base that was now under the purview of the British Secret Services a kind-voiced female agent roused Sherlock from his long-overdue nap to tell him that they had reached the mainland.

He blinked at her sleepily and mumbled something under his breath about bloody Mycroft meddling again. However, it was one of the very few instances when he didn't mind the meddling so much, seeing as it had got him out of a very tight spot indeed. He even briefly considered keeping his mobile's GPS tracking system on from this point onwards, seeing as how it had helped in his secure extraction.

The way things were going, it seemed that John and he were progressively being restrictred in their movements: John couldn't set foot in France, he himself was a wanted man in the Republic of Ireland.

The ludicrousness of their situation made him smile in a tight, pursed-lips way.

Their main problem remained how to get Mary back safe and sound, in order to rebuild John's fractured little family, without Janine or any of her Moriarty clan claiming their right to the baby, and Mycroft would go only so far in protecting the poor mite.

What with his sleeplessness, the drugs, and the whole hide and seek game, he felt completely drained and barely able to function, but his blasted brain continued to form scenarios and variables.

From his viewpoint at the moment, the only positive thing was that Mycroft had sent one of his black cars to wait for Sherlock's arrival. After he climbed down onto the camouflaged tarmac, he practically crept to the car, none of his usual lithe grace in evidence.

He practically swung the car door off its hinges, got inside and collapsed on the rear seat before it dawned on him that there was another human being sitting there!

He blinked blearily again, recognised the indestructible Anthea and gave her a lopsided smile: "You have my heartfelt thanks for bringing the baby back to London."

Anthea punched him on the shoulder:"Thanks for nothing, Mr Holmes! What was in the baby's bottle? She slept all through the crossing and then some, when I delivered her to Dr Watson at Baker Str !"

"Oh, please, don't fuss, not you with your years of experience, it was the exact same formula that Wiggins and I concocted for Mary last Christmas. It's perfectly safe even for a toddler. After all, we all know that John would kill me if anything happened to his precious daughter, and the Moriarty clan wouldn't be far behind baying for blood! "

"That's all well and true, but you didn't spare an iota of thought about me: she lay there, in that heavy, drug-induced sleep, and I was close to panicking by the time I delivered her to Dr Watson still asleep! I may just be a field agent, but I would appreciate some more input the next time we work together. You are so used to keeping secrets that it has become almost a reflex."

"Well, I have never been much good dealing with other people's emotions, so you will have to bear with me on that score."

"Mr Holmes, I don't need to remind you that I work for your elder brother, not for you. Please, bear that in mind in any of our future missions."

"The most immediate mission is to secure Sheralyn, locate Mary, preferably Janine as well, and solving this whole messed-up conundrum."

During their conversation, they had reached Baker Str, so Sherlock permitted himself a brief handshake with Anthea before stepping out onto the familiar pavement.

But before he was able to open the front door, practically under Anthea's horrified gaze, two men in hoodies came up to him and deftly inserted a needle in his neck.

Sherlock slumbed on the door step, and they picked up his inert form and started to walk towards another town car before Anthea could get out of the black limousine or even touch her cherished Blackberry!

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(Trust me I wouldn't change any other aspect of the story. Now to come up with an idea for the next section.)

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The very first thing Anthea did in her frustration and inability to act was to alert her boss as to the apparent abduction of Sherlock.

Despite her fluency in texting, this time she elected to call him, since the situation warranted immediate action.

Mycroft picked up on the second ring, so he was also alert and on call until Sherlock had been returned to Baker Str. Anyway, the street camera feed had given a glimpse of what had transpired. Unfortunately, the angle was all wrong for identifying the other car's number plates, only the make and model: a luxurious, shiny black Mercedes 200 E.

The next thing he did was pick up the landline secure phone on his desk and give the order for an all-points surveillance of the car, which had already sped down Baker Str and was turning right at its end, apparently heading towards Bayswater.

His surveillance staff was hand-picked and very diligent, but there was always a margin for human error. In fact, without the number being available, it was easy for the car to be lost among similar ones down the Old Brompton Road, which it seemed to be negotiating at the moment.

They followed it when it turned right, away from Belgravia and heading south, but it was only a matter of time before they lost contact.

Around Earl's Court Road, it finally happened: the large roundabout was almost clogged with traffic, and there were three such cars on it at the same time, each going in a different direction. The surveillance crew split up the feeds so that at least one was covering each of the cars, but no one knew for sure any more which one was transporting the unconscious detective.

One of the cars seemed to be continuing south, and sped past Balham and into Suffolk. The second seemed to loop back into London via Esher, while the third was travelling through Chelsea. There very some very terse remarks exchanged between Mycroft and the head of the surveillance team, until the elder Holmes realised what was going on: he ordered a fresh pot of tea and some chocolate digestives from Anthea's replacement, another beautiful brunette with a deceptive appearance of a lady about town covering her skills as a field agent, sat back in his comfortable chair and smiled a self-satisfied smug little smile.

After taking a sip of his favourite brew and a nibble of a biscuit, he ordered the surveillance to stay on the car going for Wembley.

"You thought you were being all so clever, brother mine," he mused. "Let's hope that this time she doesn't receive you in her battle dress, although with her penchant for drugging you at every available opportunity I wouldn't put it past her. Oh, now if I could only listen in to what is definitely going to be a most interesting conversation!"

And with that, Mycroft reached for another chocolate digestive.

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