Sherlock and Noah slipped into the factory quietly, neither of them saying a word as they passed by boxes and boxes of ammunition and ducked into a chemical lab. The bubbling beakers made Noah frown and Sherlock opened the cap of a large caliber bullet and inhaled, giving her a whiff as well. It was definitely trouble and he found another room with more plans and maps showing just how long this plan of Moriarty's had been in the making. They moved into another larger section of the factory—the warehouse—and lights flicked on to reveal far more bullets and ammo.

Sherlock shoved Noah a bit and she hastily ducked into the shadows of some crates, hoping to go unnoticed. Just in time as well.

"That's what you get, Mr. Holmes, when industry marries arms," Sebastian Moran declared, armed and eyeing Sherlock. "Now, put your gun down. It's a bit old-fashioned."

Sherlock turned slowly and slid his gun across the floor while Moran leaned on a crate with his own pistol.

"What you need is one of these. Go on. Pick one."

Sherlock stood, looking at the guns in the crate behind him, spotting Noah and giving her a small sign to stay put as he picked up a gun.

"Machine pistol. Self-repeating," Moran explained. "Takes 7.63 caliber rounds in one of these." He tossed a box to Sherlock. "A ten-shot box magazine."

They both punched the magazines into place.

"Easy enough to load," Sherlock noted, looking over the gun. "I'd imagine one would have to retract the bolt to engage the first round."

Moran was on him in a second, bolt retracted and very much armed as Sherlock held up his hands. "Easier done than said."

Two more men came up and grabbed him and the gun, knocking him out before there was a gunshot and Moran spat out orders. Sherlock could only hope Noah was safe as his consciousness faded to black. When he woke, it was to a glass held under his nose as he sat in a chair.

"It is schnapps," the doctor in front of him said and Sherlock gratefully took it, downing it with a wince as Moriarty spoke from a table nearby, startling him slightly.

"A telegram was sent from here."

Sherlock ignored him, clearing his throat. "This isn't schnapps. It's aqua vida but distilled from potato mash. A common misconception. Thank you, by the way," he said as his chair was spun around.

"Who was it sent to?" Moriarty asked.

"My horror at your crimes is matched only by my admiration at the skill it took to achieve them."

"Who was it sent to?" Moriarty repeated as Sherlock kept talking to buy time, eyes flickering around in search of Noah possibly hiding out.

"You used the anarchists and their bombs to create a crisis in Europe. Nation against nation. Under various pseudo names, you bought, schemed, or murdered your way into numerous industries, assuring that none of it could be traced to you. Cotton, opium, steel. Now arms and chemical weaponry. All to be shipped across Europe in less than a week. Everything from bullets to bandages. Now that you own the supply, you intend to create the demand. A world war."

Moriarty tapped his pen on his book before standing. "You are familiar with Schubert's work? 'A Trout' is, uh… perhaps my favorite. A fisherman grows weary of trying to catch an elusive fish. So, he muddies the water, confuses the fish. He doesn't realize until too late that he's swum into a trap."

Moriarty lifts a hand and two men step in, carrying a third who struggled as they're forced to their knees. Sherlock's breath catches in his throat. Noah grit her teeth around her gag, glaring at the men and Moriarty's back.

"Do you know him?" Moriarty asked, peering at Sherlock through the mirror he was facing.

Sherlock considered saying no, denying that they knew each other, but his heart was in his throat. Moriarty wasn't someone you could toy with. Trying to, would get people dead. If he said no, Moriarty would kill Noah, but he feared what saying yes would mean for her.

"If you don't, I'll just have him—"

"No," Sherlock cut him off, sparing Noah an apologetic glance. "I do. I know him."

"I see. Then, perhaps he'll be easier to convince."

Sherlock wasn't sure what that meant as Moriarty gestured for them to remove her gag. Once the cloth was out, Sherlock could only hope she would keep any snarky comments to herself in order to not get into more trouble.

"What's your name then, hm?"

"Piss off," Noah spat, making Sherlock roll his eyes and wince when she was punched in the stomach.

"Very well. I don't need your name to get answers. Your companion here sent a telegram. Who was it sent to?"

Noah stayed silent, glaring heatedly as Moriarty sighed.

"I will only ask once more. Who was it sent to?" He repeated only for her to keep her lips firmly pressed together. "I understand. Yes. Two very stubborn companions would work together to keep a secret. I do wonder though, how long would that friendship last?"

Moriarty turned away and Sherlock's eyes went wide, hands grabbing him by the shoulder and forcing him back into his chair when he'd leaped up.


The woman turned just as a hook was jammed into her shoulder, making her cry out as the men released her to haul her up by it to hang. She was quick to take her bound wrists and pull her legs through them. With her hands in front of her, she reached up and grabbed the hook, heaving her weight off it as much as she could.

"Noah, is it?" Moriarty hummed, ignoring Sherlock thrashing under the hands of his captors, as he put on a record to play on speaker through the facility.

He started to sing "A Trout" as it played and Sherlock was forced to watch Noah in concern as she struggled to hold herself up. She was injured as it was and her bandaged fingers struggled to keep a firm hold while she panted through the pain. Her arms quivered in her fight to keep herself lifted and Moriarty pushed her around like a rag doll.

"Stop it!" Sherlock bellowed as the man grabbed her leg and pulled, making her cry out.

She was released briefly and he was almost happy when she swung out a foot to try and kick the man, who just dodged it with a chuckle before latching on once more. Her cries of agony tore through him to the very bone as he shouted for the villain to stop, feeling tears welling up when her arm was pulled off the hook and swung around, leaving her hanging from her injured one. She hung almost limply now, eyes closed and occasionally trying to paw at the hook. Moriarty turned away from her then and eyed Sherlock.

"Let's try this again, shall we? To whom did you send the telegram?"

"D-Don't," Noah breathed, peering her eyes open to look at Sherlock.

If it was him strung up there, then perhaps he might've held onto the secret better. He didn't know and it certainly didn't make a difference now. Telling him about Mycroft wasn't worth her agony.

"I'm sorry, Noah," he breathed, looking at a pleased Moriarty. "I… I sent it to my brother, Mycroft."

"I've just got one more question for you," Moriarty hummed. "Which one of us is the fisherman and which the trout?"

There was a loud explosion outside and all eyes went up to the window where they could see the guard tower collapsing towards them. The workers ran and Sherlock dove out of his chair, trying to get to Noah who'd swung a foot out and hooked her legs around Moriarty just before the roof collapsed, burying them within.

I lay in the rubble in a daze, shoulder throbbing, arm burning. I could hear someone calling for Holmes but my mind refused to remember who it was. Then, someone was patting my face. I blinked my eyes open wearily, seeing Sherlock and John hovering over me. John was quick to jerk the hook from my shoulder and I cursed, giving him a dark look.

"N-Not even an 'on three'? Christ, John."

"Are you all right, Noah?" Sherlock asked, helping John lift me from the rubble.

"I-I've been hooked like a-a butcher's slab for the last ten minutes and my arm feels like it's on fire. Tell you what though," I cracked a smile as John helped put my arm into a make-shift sling. "I kicked Moriarty in the face. Greatest moment of my life."

John shook his head with a short scoff of a chuckle as Sherlock managed a small smile and lifted me to my feet.

"Jesus, more running?" I questioned, cringing as my burned arm was looped over John's shoulders and we scrambled from the factory.

"I'm afraid so," Sherlock said, eyeing our surroundings uneasily. "Unfortunately, we've just drawn more attention to ourselves."

"What were you thinking?" John bit out as we came down some stairs and he let me go to get us weapons from some crates.

"If you must know, I was thinking I had him right where I wanted him," Sherlock muttered, helping me on my feet given I'd faltered for a moment longer than I would've liked.

John handed us machine pistols and I tucked one in my waistcoat and another I armed, moving to the crate myself to see if there were any other useful items I might use. I was down an arm, after all, and my other was weak. I would be the liability in this fight and needed to be ready.

"How did you get caught, Noah?"

I looked over at John, tiredly. "I was following Sherlock at a distance. He got caught and when I tried to help him out, I gave myself away. Took down one guy, but there were more than I thought. I was outgunned."

"Right. Crack on then."

We took off through the factory, but I was soon needing help again from Sherlock as Simza whistled to draw our attention to our exit path.

"Sherlock," I grunted, hearing people coming up behind us.

"John, you need to turn in three, two, one."

John turned, using the machine gun he'd picked up to deter them as Simza ushered us forward with other gypsies to help hold back the advancing men. I fired my own pistol, taking out two men before the pain sent me to my knees for a moment. I cursed under my breath, knowing I had no time to be resting, and pushed myself up, switching to one of the newer weapons I'd grabbed.

"Did you see my brother?" Simza asked once we were all outside.

"No, but I'm certain he's been here," Sherlock answered.

"Where are we going?" John questioned.

"Over that wall."

"Well, I might need help with that," I bit out as Sherlock helped me along once more.

"Holmes, how did you know I'd find you?" John asked.

"You didn't find us. You collapsed a building on us," Sherlock countered as a gypsy behind us was shot and everyone drew their weapons to kill the man and the person who'd come up behind him.

We reached the wall as a gypsy threw a rope over it for us, but I stopped with Sherlock and John behind a train car.

"We won't have time to climb that," I breathed, out of breath and exhausted already with blood soaking my collar and shirt. "I don't even know if I can like this."

Gunshots were fired at the wall before anyone could get over and we all ducked behind the car for shelter.

"W-We're in a bad spot," I muttered, hearing the bullets hit the car and ricochet off nearby metal. "We are literally fighting a group of men in an armory."

"Ever the optimist, Noah, thank you," Sherlock drawled as John attempted to use the machine gun only for a Gatling gun to start up.

We could only sit and wait until there was a deep blast that sent a huge piece of artillery through the train car and the brick wall. We stared at the wall for a second and couldn't believe our luck before clambering over it and taking off into the forest.

"Where are the horses!" Sherlock asked as we ran.

"They're behind!"

"We need them!"

"You want to go back?"

A whistle echoed through the fog.

"What's our way out?"

"That's our way out!" Simza said, pointing through a brief clearing at the train tracks below and the train itself nearing closer.

The gunfire started up again and soon after it, large explosions as though mines were at our feet.

"Mortars?" I spat, wincing as wood and dirt were thrown up around us. "It's like trying to kill a fly with a grenade!"

"Just run!" Sherlock spat, urging me forward as bullets whizzed by and trees splintered.

Bullets were narrowly missing us as another gypsy went down and all of the gunfire and explosions were bringing up unpleasant memories. It was as if I was back on the battlefield again. I could hear the gunfire outside my plane as enemies swooped past, explosions from collisions and downed engines. The smell of smoke and fuel in my nose despite my respirator and the plummeting of my stomach as I realized this might be the moment I died.

Something huge whizzed by then, sending all of us to the ground with the force of it. Someone tugged at my arm while I struggled with the ringing in my ears and getting my vision to righten. I realized belatedly that it was an enemy who twisted their rifle to try and stab me with the bayonet as instinct kicked in. I dove to the side, still getting nicked as my arm came down and grabbed it. I leaned my weight against a tree as leverage to kick him off the gun, twisting it around and firing it into his chest. The recoil sent a flare of pain through my arm and shoulder, but I turned and jabbed the man coming up behind me with the bayonet before ripping the gun from him. I rearmed it and turned, firing at another enemy who'd grabbed Sherlock and reached to my hip when the gun was knocked from my hands.

My blade sunk to the hilt in his throat, making me grimace at the flood of blood when I pulled it free and I threw it into the skull of a man rushing at John. One final bullet rang out as John shot Moran at the top of the hill and I sagged against a tree panting as the train whistled below. Sherlock pulled me along, helping me into the train car with the others as a gunshot rang out and another gypsy was downed. We'd escaped though, for now, and I collapsed against Sherlock as John stitched his side and I was helped to the ground.

My mind was dazed and I was exhausted. I barely felt Sherlock settle my head into his lap as his fingers carded through my hair and Simza hummed and sang softly. Morning had dawned and we weren't being chased, so I relaxed and allowed my eyes to slip closed in relief.

Sherlock felt Noah relax and glanced at her before frowning. His hand moved from her hair to her nose, before a chill of fear went through him.



"John, she's not breathing," he said, bringing the doctor over. "Her pulse is slow, weak, stopping. I-I don't—"

"Cradle her head," John ordered, seeing the hint of panic in his friend as he gestured for Simza. "Raise her legs. All right. You're not going to die on us, Noah."

John did a few chest compressions, but Sherlock shook his head, letting him know nothing had changed.

"I'm not going to make this easy on you," John bit out, hitting her in the chest with a fist before starting compressions again. "Come on, come on."

Sherlock's eyes raked over her, unable to say anything as the woman made no sign of waking, looking paler by the second.

"I know you can hear me, Noah," John said, voice tight until Simza had to pull him away before he hurt himself trying to deal with her. "He loves you! You can't leave him now, Noah! Not before he's—"

"John," Sherlock finally breathed, bowing over Noah with a heavy heart. "Enough."

John didn't know what to do. His friend had just died. Died while being tormented in Sherlock's place. Died saving people. He didn't want to give up on her, especially not while he knew how much Sherlock cared. Far more than Irene, Noah was… Noah was different. She was perfect for the eccentric Holmes. She didn't get upset about his experiments or hide away when faced with danger. She didn't want a quiet life with a husband and child, cooking and cleaning. She wanted adventure and trials. She wanted Sherlock, and he, her. Then, something in his mind shifted. He remembered.

"Your wedding gift," he breathed, drawing Sherlock's teary-eyed gaze away from Noah. "Sherlock, I still have your wedding gift!"

John dug through his things and pulled out the black pouch, making Sherlock's eyes widen in hope. It was one of the needles he'd used on her before. Packed full of adrenaline. John pulled off the protective cap, muttering an apology as he tugged the edge of Noah's shirt free so he could inject it directly into her heart. He jabbed her with it and they waited only for her to shoot awake and attempt to get on her feet should Sherlock have not grabbed her and held her.

"M-My God," she breathed, eyes wide. "I-I thought I fell out of a plane. I thought I died." She paused, patting at her chest for a moment. "Who hit me?"

"Me," John breathed in relief, making her blink. "What's a plane?"

"Plane? Who said plane? Why's my arm itchy?"

"Because you've recently burned it all the way down from your shoulder."

"Why'd I do that?" She questioned, managing to somehow get to her feet even with Sherlock trying to keep her down before she rounded on him, frowning and eyeing him up and down. "You. I'm rather cross with you."

"Me? My dear, I'd say I have more right to be cross with you, given you'd nearly died on us," Sherlock countered, before relaxing with a sigh. "But I'm glad you're alright."

"Alright? I'm charred, dazed, and confused, feel as though I could outrun a horse and should probably sit down, but I've got something very important to say as soon as I remember it."

"You really should sit down," John pressed, handing her a small bottle. "Drink this."

"Is it alcohol?" She asked, downing it before he could tell her as she was placed on a crate and he started undoing the bandages on her arm. "Wait, wait, wait."

"Noah, I really need to clean your arm before—"

"No, shut up, wait," she silenced him as she got to her feet again. "I've remembered what I meant to say."

Sherlock sighed, trying to push her back down. "Noah, surely it can wait."

"No, the devil, it can't," she spat, grabbing him by the front of his shirt and startling him as her nose brushed his. "You said you loved me."

"Correction, John said I loved you," Sherlock choked out and she blinked at him for a moment before shrugging.

"Close enough."

Sherlock's eyes went wide as she kissed him, before he returned it in relief and finally pulled away.

"Glad you're okay," Noah said, already starting to sag in his arms before he settled her back on the crate.

"I do believe that is what I should be saying."

"John?" Noah muttered, tipping her head to look at him. "You're not going to pour alcohol on my arm again, are you?"

John looked at her arm and hummed. "Indeed."

He reached for it and her eyes widened.

"Or maybe we could just leave it?"

"Nope," John smiled, pouring it out onto her arm as she let out a slew of curses into Sherlock's shoulder.

He held her hand and gave it a fond pat. "Any sailor would be blushing, Noah. Chin up."

"Sherlock, you've got a piece of wood in your ankle, as well," John noted, making the man pale as it would soon be his turn to be tormented.

After a moment though, Noah had gone quiet and Sherlock quickly checked to make sure she was alright, drawing John's attention.

"Asleep," he confirmed, taking her pulse. "Heartbeat steady."

John nodded, lifting Sherlock's leg to deal with the wood and once it was out, Sherlock sighed.

"I'm sorry you didn't get to Brighton."

"Me too… I think we should go home."

"I concur," Sherlock muttered, surprising him. "We're going home… via Switzerland."

All eyes went to him as he hummed.

"What better place to start a war, than a peace summit? We'll drop in and see my brother. I'm sure he's missed you."

It was a long ride to where Mycroft was staying, but well worth it as the situation was explained and everyone was doctored, bathed, clothed, and fed.

"I still don't understand why you simply don't cancel the summit," John argued, getting a shrug from the elder Holmes brother.

"The fact is, it's going to happen whether we like it or not. Everyone has already arrived and while these gentlemen may be talking peace, believe me, they're readying their armies at home. To cancel the summit now, would mean tentamental war."

"The telegram, wasn't it clear?" John questioned, knowing the warning was rather obvious.

"We have doubled the security, sir," the butler replied, making Simza snort.

"Oh, doubled the security? That's comforting."

"You don't understand the delicacy of the situation," Mycroft pressed. "I passed the telegram onto my superiors, but they were the ones who have brought Moriarty in to advise on the peace process in the first place. He has positioned himself brilliantly. He's one of our foremost intellectuals. He's a personal friend of the Prime Minister—"

"Personal friend of the Prime Minister, yes. We all know that," John cut him off, annoyed that after all this there was nothing they could seemingly do.

"I believe you," Mycroft reassured. "But where's your evidence?"

"He's too good to leave evidence. He doesn't leave loose ends."

"Except one: us," a new voice chimed as Simza cracked a smile.

"Oh, she's alive."

Noah huffed as Sherlock stepped up behind her with some device he was messing with.

"Sherly, put that down!" Mycroft scolded.

"What is this contraption? May I have it? The effect is most invigorating."

"It is my private and personal supply of oxygen, and you're not to touch it." Mycroft then huffed as Sherlock set it down. "This argument is getting us nowhere. I've arranged for documents to be prepared which will allow you into the ball. Carruthers."

Sherlock tried to speak with the elderly servant who was too deaf to hear as Noah carefully took a seat to have some food and drink herself.

Mycroft simply went on as his butler, Carruthers, handed out the invites. "The fact is, we don't really know what he's planning."

"It won't be another bomb," Simza mused.

"No, it would be another bomb," John countered.

"That doesn't make sense."

"Why would he attack all the nations only to unite them?"

"He's going to kill someone again," Noah said then, drawing eyes to her as she ate, and even Sherlock cracked a small smile since she understood as well as he did. "We're still missing someone. A lone shooter, close-range…"

"René," Simza realized.

"Unfortunately, yes," Sherlock said, drawing her attention to him.

"You knew."

"I had my suspicions, yes, but having seen who'd be attending, I'm now certain."

"Well, at least we know who to look out for," Mycroft mused.

"René will be the evidence," John understood.

"If we can find him and stop him, we will perhaps not only save his life but prevent the collapse of western civilization. No pressure."

The ball had begun and they were swept into the room as Noah lightly nudged Sherlock.

"Tell your brother that if he offers me a dress again, I will murder him in his sleep with his precious little oxygen supply."

Sherlock cracked a smirk, given the commotion Noah had caused about the navy blue dress she'd been offered. She'd promptly stormed to his brother's office and had the man a stuttering mess before a suit was brought for her to wear. They entered and approached said brother who offered an uneasy smile.

"Now we're all present, I can tell you that the targets are the German Chancellor and his ambassador, the French Prime Minister, and his man, and the other nations are really working out which side to take should hostilities erupt. There's, uh, Prince Michael who's a cousin of the Tsar and the Russian ambassador, Archduke Karl Ludwig, and the Austro-Hungarian ambassador, the Romanian Prime Minister, and his ambassador, and of course, our Prime Minister and the British ambassador," Mycroft listed.

"He'll choose a moment when all the dignitaries are assembled. Preferably standing still," Sherlock said quickly. "Is there to be an official photograph?"

"Indeed, yes. In, uh… 38 minutes."

"Then, in which case, we might as well dance. Noah, as you have two left feet and are currently dressed as a male at a peace summit, in order to not draw attention to ourselves, might I ask Madam Simza for a dance?"

Noah raised a brow, mildly surprised he was asking, but shrugged. "Why not? Blend in." She took a step forward though, grasping his arm briefly. "Don't get distracted. Ignore the rabble." She cracked a smile as she let him go. "Together we will find him. You're not alone in this. I hate parties too."

Sherlock nodded with a smile and led Simza out to the dance floor. It was amusing then for him to take John out after her, earning a snort from Noah as she sipped her champagne, nearly choking. What he'd learned was not good. The supposed twins that Noah had recognized before were experiments to see if someone could change their face to look like someone else. John had confirmed the work and as they thought about it, they'd come to the conclusion that René was disguised with someone else's face. An ambassador.

Sherlock couldn't let anything happen this time though. He sent John to hunt down René with Simza and hoped that as he snuck out to deal with Moriarty that Noah wouldn't follow. He had no doubt she would be upset and furious about what he was going to do. Still, his options were limited. She'd interfered too much. Affection was a poison that added distraction to the mind and left him vulnerable. Half of his plans were in shambles because Noah Harris was around. The other half, he hoped, would be enough to coax the snake out of the brush to slice off its head.

War was inevitable.

I scanned the crowd, on a different mission than John and Simza. They were after René. I was after Moran.

Whether the assassination was stopped or not, I knew the nations would fight one another anyway. World War II happened in 1914. It was a little over a decade away, though the bickering started sooner. John and Simza were delaying it, not preventing it. While Sherlock and Moriarty played chess on the balcony, I was playing a different game.

I didn't know much about this movie, but I knew a lot about my sister. She liked to ramble, tell stories, talk about detectives and murder and mystery. Sherlock was right. I was clever. Clever in just the right areas to prove useful. My parents wanted me to be a doctor. While I studied through medical school, I practiced on myself. One often was beaten up when fighting and my stitches were superb, as was my pain tolerance. While my professors pounded medical terminology and anatomy into my head, the army provided military planning, vast knowledge of technology, and focus. All the while, my sister told me about her stories.

I had video chats with her about her favorite books, movies, and television shows. She sent me the Sherlock books for Christmas so I had more to chat with her about, though it had been some time since reading them. Sherlock helped in that aspect by retelling them outside of John's point of view. The BBC Sherlock television series we watched together on my break from flying over the deserts. Agatha Christie's novels were passed back and forth with little coded messages written between the pages.

So, while I showed Sherlock quite a bit about myself and my intelligence, I never let him know when I was onto him. The end of this movie was quite clear in my head. My sister had called me in tears the second she'd watched it happen. The Reichenbach Fall. Sherlock would sacrifice himself to ensure Moriarty was dealt with. Much like the many other versions of Sherlock, he would live and hide away until the time was right. My sister hadn't wanted to spoil that for me, but I'd deduced it after the theme reoccured in multiple formats.

Still, what I knew wasn't enough to determine what I'd changed by being here. What I was capable of, however, hadn't fully been revealed. Sherlock was clever, after all. Moriarty just as much. Revealing to one meant revealing to both. That is what happens when one genius keeps an eye on the other. Everyone else gets caught in the crossfire.

I shifted with a grimace, feeling the pain in my arm acting up as I moved behind a pillar and drew a weapon while out of sight. The pistol had a silencer screwed onto the end. Sherlock had been struggling with it and knowing the mechanics myself after years in the military gave me ample opportunity to get it fixed properly. I slipped it back into my suit and watched as John tackled René to the ground and guards pulled him up to haul him out. I made my move and slipped out long before they reached the doors, ducking out a side entrance and stepping into the shadows across from where a man with a cane leaned against the wall calmly. I stood on top of a decorative potted plant to get a better angle and the second the doors opened with a "bang" my shot went off.

Sherlock sat with Moriarty, the two slowly taking turns with the chessboard.

"We both have two bishops. I may be absent from the room, but my methods are not," Sherlock said, eyes on his opponent.

"You can't mean Doctor Watson, surely," Moriarty laughed, before Sherlock's serious expression made him rethink his words. "That doesn't seem fair."

"The ambassador that you've replaced with René, is he still alive?" Sherlock asked, curious mostly and knowing that he was giving away they knew what Moriarty's plan was.

"Would you like me to recommend your next move?" Moriarty asked, unbothered and confident.

"Perhaps the assassin would take measures to ensure he doesn't give himself away," Sherlock mused, thinking out the thought process John might have been going through. "Like a gambler concealing a tell."

"Your clock is ticking. May I remind you this is blitz chess? A single miscalculation will cost you the game," Moriarty reminded, speaking not only of the chess game but the game they were both playing with the assassin in the other room.

"Maybe it's less obvious. A nervous tic," Sherlock noted. "A flutter of anxiety."

"I'd expect everyone has a reason to be nervous tonight."

"So, perhaps it's the opposite. A failure to behave naturally. An actor so consumed with his performance that the one characteristic he cannot accommodate is spontaneous reaction."

Screams rang out from the other room.

"That doesn't bode well, does it."

"Seems your bishop has some benefit after all," Moriarty noted.

"The game is still young."

"Actually, it's in its adolescence."

The commotion calmed briefly and after a moment, Moriarty paused, actually looking away from the game and drawing Sherlock's attention. Something hadn't gone to plan.

"Something wrong?"

"Nothing of consequence, I'm sure," Moriarty mused, though Sherlock wasn't convinced. "I'm… curious. Only two bishops?"

Sherlock hummed, moving a piece on the board. "You are thinking of Noah. more than a mere bishop, I think."

His hand slipped back to reveal the black Queen piece, as Moriarty eyed it in thought.

"Interesting piece."

"One that's fooled you twice already. Tell me, how many were you aiming to kill in the Hôtel du Triomphe?"

Moriarty frowned, understanding dawning on him that Noah had been the one to mess up that plan. "Twice?"

Sherlock smirked, lightly touching the Queen piece on the board. "She's quite clever, I assure you… if a bit accident-prone."

The reveal of her gender made Moriarty's frown deepen and to avoid further trouble aimed at Noah, Sherlock looked up from the board to eye him firmly.

"A war has been averted."

"Mm, well, I disagree."

"How so?"

"Didn't you find it strange that the telegram you sent didn't inspire any action to stop me?" Moriarty smirked. "You see? Hidden within the unconscious is an insatiable desire for conflict. So, you're not fighting me so much as you are fighting the human condition. All I want is to own the bullets and bandages. War on an industrial scale is inevitable. They'll do it themselves within a few years. All I have to do... is wait."

Sherlock shifted in his seat, frown on his face as Moriarty went on.

"I like Switzerland. They respect a man's privacy here, particularly if he has a fortune."

Moriarty pushed off his fur coat and stood, but Sherlock didn't move other than to shrug off his own coat and move a chess piece across the board.

"Bishop takes knight to check."

Moriarty stopped. "The game is over."

"Not quite."

Moriarty took a step back away from the barrel pressed to his chest as Sherlock stood in concern more than surprise.


"Sit," she commanded, gesturing for Moriarty to return to his seat as Sherlock himself sank into his.

"Noah, you're supposed to be—"

"Helping John?" She scoffed. "You knew I wouldn't stay with him while you were out here doing something stupid."

He couldn't argue with that, tipping his head slightly in begrudging acceptance. "Very well. I see you've improved my silencer."

"Sorry. I knew how to get it to work properly. Already tested it. René is in custody and our little sniper friend is out of commission." She kept her gaze firmly on Moriarty, who'd stiffened ever so slightly. "No loose ends, isn't that right?"

The man pursed his lips seeing now that he had a loose end he hadn't been able to tie up. He needed to leave quickly, but couldn't with Noah's weapon on him.

"Now, this stupid game will be well and truly over in a moment," she said, voice firm though her skin was pale and there was a hint of sweat trailing down her collar. "There's just one more thing I thought to point out. Even if you were to hire someone to kill René before he confessed, you'll find that your fortune isn't quite what it used to be."

"Noah, what do you mean?" Sherlock asked, seeing as Moriarty was remaining silent for now.

"His little red ledger," she replied, surprising him as her gaze shifted to him with a hint of apology. "Sorry. I'm sure you meant to get it at some point."

Sherlock nodded, looking at Moriarty as he explained. "I attended several of your lectures. "It was in Oslo when I first caught a glimpse of your little notebook. Red leather bound, from Smythson on Avon Street. Its importance was not fully apparent to me until I observed your penchant for feeding pigeons. Then, it occurred. With an empire so enormous, even you must keep a record of it somewhere. I then only required the notebook itself. You didn't make it easy. I was prepared to endure a considerable amount of pain to get it, but…" His gaze drifted back to Noah. "But you weren't there to see it. How did you…"

Noah shifted to lean heavily against the railing beside him. "I'm not an idiot and I may have been hiding a few things," she said calmly. "Unlike you two, I don't like showing off my intelligence. You can thank my strict parents for that, but I make connections rather easily. I just don't always say them out loud. So, when I hear that a mathematician is trying to take over the world, I know he's going to use what he knows best. Numbers and business. The not-so-secret investor in an arms factory proved it, and you can't run multiple businesses without ledgers.

"He wouldn't risk the most important one sitting out anywhere where sneaky detectives would get a hold of it. It wouldn't be in his home or his factories, given his constant traveling. His suitcase might work, but he leaves that alone too often. He'd keep it on him, tucked away in his coat. Gives him the chance to go over it whenever he needed, adjust things as he wanted. Toy with his numbers."

"But how did you get it?" Sherlock pressed, growing ever more intrigued by this story of hers, having never expected her to get to it before he did based on so little evidence.

"As the building collapsed," she admitted. "I grabbed him with my legs and when the beam came down, I could use my hands. Slipped a hand in his pocket and may have pick-pocketed the replacement you had in yours, Sherlock, when you nudged me to hide earlier."

Sherlock felt mildly offended that he hadn't realized she'd stolen the fake, much less that she'd gotten to this point—pushing forward his own plan—without him even knowing.

"The notebook was encoded," he pressed as she nodded.

"I know a number of cipher types. Then, I remembered after your meeting with Moriarty you questioned me about a horticulture book. I didn't think anything of it until then."

Moriarty reached into his coat, taking out the fake notebook as Noah stiffened instinctually. Sherlock stood and moved her to his seat, draping the fur coat over her shoulders as he started to see signs of her pain showing through. Still, he stayed close in case anything were to happen.

"And the book?"

"London," she answered. "Sent it with our gypsy friend when we got off the train. Mary would've taken it to the Yard by now."

Sherlock laughed, unable to help it. "The most formidable criminal mind in Europe has just had all his money stolen by perhaps the most inept Inspector in the history of Scotland Yard." Sherlock kissed Noah's cheek as Moriarty flipped through the fake book to see a flip picture of a fisherman getting eaten by a shark. "Brilliant."

"It's all being donated to the widows and orphans of war," Noah added, pushing herself to her feet as Moriarty stood as well. "That's the problem with blinkered people. They always assume it's the people in front of them that are the most dangerous, not those behind."

Moriarty cracked a tight smile as he played off being confident. "Once we've concluded our business here, it's important you know, I shall endeavor to find the most creative of endings for the doctor and his wife."

The man was close now, standing chest to barrel with the gun Noah had. A fight was about to break out and all three of them knew it. Noah's weakness was her injuries. Moriarty's was his rage. With a gun in play though, anything could happen.

Moriarty swung a hand up, knocking the pistol away from his chest and hitting Noah in her injured shoulder with a hard palm. Sherlock moved in as she faltered back, mildly surprised she didn't drop the gun and swinging a fist at Moriarty's face. The two of them punched and deflected each other's moves for a moment before a bullet went whizzing by Moriarty's ear. The man growled, turning and grabbing Noah's outstretched gun hand and twisting the wrist to make her release the gun. She kicked it across the balcony to prevent him picking it up and let out a grunt of pain when he dug his thumb into her shoulder.

She was released and tossed back into Sherlock before Moriarty swung a haymaker in her direction, but Sherlock twisted around her, blocking and swinging back. He landed a solid hit to Moriarty's jaw but the man was a boxing champion and quickly retaliated. Sherlock stumbled back against the railing, kicking at Moriarty's heel before Noah grabbed him around the throat and hauled him back. Moriarty delivered a swift elbow to her side, getting released as Sherlock dove for the gun. Moriarty's fist bounced off Noah's temple and when she doubled over with a haphazard swing of her own, he grabbed the arm and twisted, punching her in the shoulder before grabbing her by the suit and hauling her up onto the railing.

"Enough!" Sherlock bellowed as Moriarty punched her shoulder and elbowed it.

She was stuck though, held in place on the snow-covered railing with Moriarty holding firm to her clothing. Sherlock had to shoot to have any hope of saving her. The gunshot went off and Moriarty cried out in pain as the bullet cracked through his shoulder, grip loosening but only slightly. Sherlock was out of options and his eyes caught on Noah's solemn ones as understanding settled on them both. It was inevitable. Sherlock abandoned the gun, rushing forward to try and stop it, but Noah reached up and grabbed Moriarty around the neck, twisting and using her body weight to pull him off the railing with her.

"Noah!" Sherlock bellowed, not even noticing John step through the doors until he was grabbed around the middle to keep from leaping over himself. "Noah!"

John sat at his typewriter, tacking away at the keys solemnly.

"A few words may suffice, to tell the little that remains. Any attempt at finding the bodies was absolutely hopeless. And so there… deep down in that dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam… alive for all time, the most dangerous criminal and the friend… No, the most important person to Sherlock. I shall ever regard her as the best and the most perfect woman for him. The strongest and wisest woman whom I've ever known."

"John," Mary called out, dropping off a paper-wrapped box with the man sitting on the chair nearby. "You should probably pack. It's half-past two and the carriage is coming at four."

John glanced at the man who'd only become a shell of himself since Noah had taken that fall off the cliffs. He was only here because John felt worried about leaving him alone and dragged him along.

"It's going to be a beautiful week in Brighton," Mary mused, trying to cheer them up.

"Yes, it'll be fun. I'm looking forward to it," John replied.

"I wish I'd gotten to know her," Mary said softly. "She seemed… wonderful, in her own way."

John stopped typing and looked over at Sherlock again, taking in the package that sat on his lap and his disheveled appearance. "You're sure you're okay not coming?"

Sherlock barely glanced at him, simply shrugging as he toyed with the end of the string on the package. "I've work to do, Watson."

John knew he didn't. He hadn't taken a case since what happened. Sherlock had been the most adamant about searching for Noah. It was the funeral that was the tipping point, he thinks. They never did find anything about her family. The only ones in attendance were him, his wife, Simza, Mycroft, and Sherlock. There was no eulogy. A simple, empty casket and plain headstone. She was to be buried in the Holmes' plot and only because John had convinced Sherlock's brother how important she'd been to him. He couldn't let her be buried just anywhere.

"When is Mrs. Hudson coming for Gladstone?" Mary asked as she walked out.

"Oh, soon. Three o'clock," John said, standing and moving over to Sherlock to eye the package. "You're not going to open that?"

Sherlock passed the item to him and John sighed softly, untying the string and taking off the paper. Inside was a simple wooden box and when he pulled back the lid, he frowned.

"Well, this is a bit… odd. Sherlock, isn't this—"

The device was snatched out of his hands immediately and Sherlock took off with a shout as John hurried after him.

"Mary! Mary!" The detective bellowed, startling her in the other room.


"Who delivered this parcel?"

She blinked, confused. "The postman."

"Was it the usual chap?" John asked, having understood what the device meant.

"What? Well, I-I believe so."

Sherlock took off though, ducking out the door and onto the sidewalk, eyes scanning for the postman. He spotted the figure not a block down, running their hand over their horse's neck and Sherlock ran full sprint for them, grabbing their stirrup much to the surprise of them and the horse.

"Oi, mate! What're you doing!"

Not her… It's not her. He let the man go as John hurried over with a small apology, lightly steering him back towards the flat.

"Sherlock, this means she's okay, right? That Noah is…"

"She must be," Sherlock said as they rested in the kitchen for a moment. "This was my plan. I suspected something might happen but she exceeded my expectations once again."

"Your plan was to get thrown off a cliff?"

"My plan was to keep everyone safe and get rid of him once and for all. Noah wasn't supposed to be involved."

"I couldn't even find her when we went to get René."

"Yes, she does well blending into her surroundings. Most likely she slipped away into the crowds knowing that Moran would be tucked away waiting for his chance to deal with René."

"He was killed too. Single-shot through the temple," John remembered. "We found him after René was removed."

"Then, she came out to the terrace to deal with Moriarty. It must've been when she was thrown into me that she took the device, but she couldn't have known… Oh… Oh, that witch."


"Don't you see, John? She took the device because no matter what she planned on taking that dive. She knew she was going to sacrifice herself the moment she stepped out onto the terrace." Sherlock sighed heavily, starting up the stairs to the study. "She has no sense of self-preservation, is constantly putting herself into danger and—"

"And would appreciate it if you didn't talk about her behind her back."

Sherlock and John whipped around to the woman seated in Sherlock's abandoned chair, the open window letting in a breeze as she offered them a simple smile and wave as she rested her head on her hand.

"Hello, boys. Did ya miss me?"