The unexpected text
Sherlock had always been the brightest child, he knew that. It had been evident from a young age that no one matched his intellect, with the exception of his elder brother Mycroft. The elder man had, in fact, more than once during their infancy made his brother feel quite dim, before they were introduced to other chilren.
There had been few people who intellectually challenged him in a satisfying way, and so he had early on grown tired of his supposed friends and abandoned them. It was a common feat of Sherlock's, that whenever he grew tired of something or someone, he simply would leave it behind in search of some new challenge.
He needed his challenges and adrenaline kicks, it was a part of who he was and there was very little else that he cared about. It was the main reason he'd resorted to become a consultant detective in the first place, there was nothing that could measure up to the thrill of a good detective challenge.
The prospect of friendship was something he had initially, from experiencing how stupid people merely slowed him down, rejected. He hated dumb people above all else and for a long time in his life he had no one to truly call "friend". Then John Watson had appeared in his life; quite stupid, yet cunning in his own way and with a resourcefulness and bluntness that eventually had intrigued Sherlock's mind. John was the perfect ordinary man to Sherlock's supremeness.
He still wasn't sure exactly how they had grown to be friends and room mates back then, but Sherlock valued John's friendship and vague intelligence in a way he had never cared for anyone in the past. Still, John had never quite been clever enough to follow the man's train of thought, nor had Sherlock ever found it satisfying enough to include his best friend in all of his intellectual games. There were other qualities to John that Sherlock liked. Such as his loyalty to his friend, his brute honesty and his persistence. As far as intelligence went… well, maybe Sherlock could live with the fact that John lacked a bit in that compartment.
In truth, there had only ever been two persons who had been able to match Sherlock's intelligence and wit. The first had been the detective's self-proclaimed nemesis, Jim Moriarty. The consultant criminal who sometimes had seemed to wield powers beyond even Sherlock's comprehension. He had to admit that Moriarty had been the first criminal to constantly remain one step ahead of him, and therefore had in a roundabout way awoken both his curiosity and won his respect. Not that Sherlock ever would admit as much to the other man.
Moriarty's cunning intellect had been proven beyond any doubt when he almost had brought the consultant detective to a complete stop with his fairy tale games and bread crumbs that had ultimately led to the demise of them both. At least a temporary demise. Moriarty had ruined the trust in Sherlock's unique abilties as a detective to the public and had in a fantastic display of power brought Sherlock literally to his knees by threatening the lives of those close to Sherlock. Moriarty had demanded Sherlock's suicide and literal fall from grace to keep his dear ones alive. The Reichenbach hero's fall, as he had playfully called it.
But Sherlock had found the one weakness to his plan; Moriarty himself. What the consultant criminal had considered his finest display of power had been nothing but a false pretense, watched from the shadows by the Holmes brothers. Still, when the detective had at last faced off with his nemesis, the clever consultant criminal had played an unseen trump card. He had put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, and so Sherlock's last life line had been seemingly terminated. The detective had been forced to take extreme measures to the point of faking his own death and fall from grace in the media's eyes in order to keep his friends safe.
That had been almost three years ago now, and he had since then "returned to the living", much to the shock of the public, the police and most importantly John. Sherlock had explained it all to the press, after having exonerated himself in the public's eye; how he had faked his death with the help of Molly Hooper, how he had used the time as 'dead' to dismantle Moriarty's criminal network and how he'd been forced to return to London due to a terrorist threat. It had felt damn good to return to 221 B Baker Street and his old life after such a long time in hiding.
Upon returning to the land of the living, however, the man had learned a fact that in equal parts disturbed and fascinated him. There had been no body found after Moriarty's suicide, and despite Sherlock's attempts since he had not unearthed much about the former dead criminal. Sherlock knew what he had seen when Moriarty had pulled the trigger, but also knew not to trust even his eyes when it concerned the criminal master mind. No body and no clues could be found if there was no dead person to find. How, Sherlock wasn't sure, but then again he himself had survived the fall off St. Bart's roof and survived. Well, it had been a bit more intricate than that, of course.
The only piece to the puzzle he had to go on was the odd message that had been broadcast all over England only a month ago. "Did you miss me?"
There had been nothing since, not even a suspicious dust bunny to go on. Still, Sherlock knew Moriarty, the scheming, playful devil that he was, would surely be in touch sooner rather than later, as soon as the right crime came along to thrill the mind that was James Moriarty. It was merely a matter of time, and a matter of how long the criminal consultant could keep away from his games.
The second person who had fascinated Sherlock to no end was the one of a kind dominatrix, Irene Adler. Or The woman as Sherlock preferred to call her, the nickname was a secret homage to the one woman who'd outsmarted the detective or damn well been closer than anyone else. She had almost brought an entire nation down on its knees, had it not been for his last deduction. She had been clever, perhaps even more so than Moriarty, and was almost an equal match to the detective's own intelligence. She was cunning and resorceful as well as being a big tease. She was a master at disguising herself, too, in ways that had even Sherlock Holmes unable to deduce the truth about her.
She had flirted with him and his intelligence more times than he could count and he still kept all her text messages safely on his phone. The phone which had been her lifeline and weapon once, though stripped of all its content now, lay safe in Sherlock's keep. That, too, was a keepsake for his memory of her.
Though Irene had been the brightest woman Sherlock had ever met, it was in her love of games she had exposed her greatest weakness. Love. Or Lust. Sherlock couldn't quite deduce which it was. Either way, he had been the target of her affection.
She had been as fascinated by his intelligence as he had been of hers, but unlike him she had played her cards with her heart at stake and that had been her ultimate end. Sherlock had all his life, long before meeting Irene, believed that love was the ultimate flaw to an intelligent mind, and she had confirmed that in the most haunting manner. When she had realized he had found her weakness, there had been a fear in her eyes he had never seen since. It had not only been the fear for her life that had shone so clear in her eyes, but also a fear for her heart and a fear of him.
Sherlock had never known love in his life, but something had stirred in him when Irene had been a part of his existence. She had been his equal in so many ways, and sometimes Sherlock wondered what challenges she would have presented to him if she had remained in his world. The only thing Sherlock was sure of, was that he could never forget the woman and constantly found his thougths drifting to her even though it had been years since he last saw her face to face.
It had been this fascination of her that had made him follow her four years back when Mycroft pulled Irene away after Sherlock had figured her secret out. The fact that he had followed her every move back then was something he had not shared with anyone, not even John. Sherlock hadn't intended for Irene to know either, merely wanting to make sure she was safe so that he could let her go, but fate had stepped in and changed everything. Sherlock had been forced to reveal his presence in order to save her from the cruel fate of beheading.
Afterwards he had helped the beautiful woman disappear once more, this time she had vanished even from his watchful eyes, and then covered up all traces of her survival. As far as the world knew, Irene Adler was dead. The only ones who knew otherwise were Irene and Sherlock, and they both preferred it that way.
Mycroft had been told the false story of her death and had in turn passed it on to John, and together they had chosen to tell Sherlock a lie about Irene having ended up in a witness protection program in America. Sherlock had never quite approved of their little lie, though could live with it as long as no one was the wiser of the truth.
The very last time he had seen Irene, she had pecked his cheek in gratitude and told him she would be in contact whenever she was in the mood for dinner. But for the past four years he hadn't heard as much as a syllable from her.
Sherlock knew it was the best solution for everyone involved, both friend and foe of The woman, but still a part of him longed to be challenged by her great mind once more. And another part sorely wanted to make sure she was still alive, for he hated the thought of not knowing. Sherlock knew she had an immense ability to protect herself, but that was something she had learned from a lifetime of getting herself into trouble.
Despite recent setbacks after the tumultuous case against Charles Augustus Magnussen, life in London went on in its merry ways for Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street with his best friend, his best friend's wife and their crime solving. There were the occasional intrigue in their detective adventures, but when the crime was solved it all faded into nothingness again. Sherlock sometimes felt trapped in a constant mental cage of boredoom. Things were simply not the same without the challenges of one of his intellectual matches and Sherlock found his thoughts drifted to distant memories more often than not when off a case.
Tonight, the night before the new year as it was, Sherlock sat in his armchair in his living room. The room was dark just as the night outside the window, except for a few candles lit on the mantlepiece behind him. They, however, offered more warmth than light. The darkness was void of noise, too, since the tune of his violin had died long ago. Now the instrument merely rested across his lap, seemingly forgotten by the man who wielded it.
Despite the dead calm of the night, there was an ever present show of vivid sounds and images inside Sherlock's head as he revisited those most vivid memories of his past this night.
"Look at those cheekbones, I could cut myself slapping that face. Would you like me to try?"
"I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy twice."
"I've never begged for mercy in my life."
"Mr Holmes, if it was the end of the world, if this was the very last night, would you have dinner with me?"
"You just couldn't resist it, could you? I've always assumed that love is a dangeorus disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof."
Alll the sudden, Sherlock was abruptly interrupted both by light and sound in the present world. A cold, flash of light illuminated the room from the table before him. The sudden light source hurt his eyes, and he closed them tight. At the very same time a familiar sound echoed in the darkness, one he hadn't heard for years. Still, he had heard the sound so often in the past, his ears immediately recognized it in delight. It was the sound of a woman's sensual moan. No, the man corrected himself as he opened his eyes and looked down at his cell phone on the table beside him, not a woman. The woman.
For a second, Sherlock didn't move. He felt... hesitant. For Sherlock, that was an unsual emotion. Finally, he stretched forward and picked up his cell phone before leaning back in his arm chair, the violin still clutched tight in his other hand. Sherlock stared down at the phone. He had a new text.
'Happy new year, Mr Holmes. Let's have dinner. – I.A.'
Sherlock did something he had only done once before; he sent her a reply.