Mary woke because someone gently shook her shoulder. The first thing she noticed apart from that was that her back was killing her, the reason for that being that for some reason she was slumping in a chair she didn't remember sitting in. Truth be told, she would be hard-pressed to recall what had caused her to be here at all, in this state. The last thing she remembered was being embraced by John, with relief washing over her in waves when she realised that her marriage wasn't over and that he was giving her a second chance. So, how on earth had this happened?
'Don't worry, Mrs Holmes,' a voice said. That was that shabby looking friend of Sherlock's, wasn't he? Bill Wiggins, she remembered now. 'She'll be fine. I calculated the dose myself.' Mary's brain was a tad bit slow at the moment, but she had been an intelligence agent for too long not to connect the dots almost right away. She'd been drugged? Deliberately, by Sherlock's friend? And why was the idea of being drugged by a junkie such an alarming idea again?
The indignant voice that answered to that belonged to Sherlock's mother. Whereas she had been sounding kind before, there was no trace of that kindness left now. 'I don't even know what you thought you were doing, young man! Did Sherlock put you up to this?' Mary had gotten the impression of a simple, very motherly woman when she first met Sherlock's mum, but clearly she had hidden depths. After all, she had been a mathematician, so could she really be surprised that there were more things about her that weren't immediately obvious to an outside observer?
She opened her eyes. Her eyelids were strangely heavy, but she managed it anyway, trying to work herself up into a sitting position that was slightly more comfortable for her back. Mary blinked against the light, her vision still slightly blurry, but there were hands to help her sit up.
'Slowly now, dear.' Mrs Holmes again. 'How are you feeling?'
Dizzy, confused, with a very painful back, but otherwise fine. Truth was, Mary had known far worse in that period of time that she tried not to think about any more these days. But that was a bit of information she had best keep to herself. And so she conjured up a reassuring smile as her vision slowly started to clear. 'I'm all right. Thank you.'
She wasn't alone in the room. Sherlock's parents were there, and Wiggins too. Mary would have unleashed a terrifying glare at him if she had felt a bit better, and if her mind wasn't trying to work out what it meant that both John and the Holmes brothers were absent. It had been a relief, such a relief, to learn that John didn't hate her, and he was a doctor, too. It didn't make sense for him not to be here to check her over. It was what he normally would do.
'What happened?' Sometimes it was the best thing just to ask.
'He drugged us.' Mrs Holmes was definitely the most vocal person in the room. 'And he won't tell us why.'
Wiggins almost automatically did a step back when he had that stare directed at him. 'I don't know, Mrs Holmes. Sherlock only said something about dealing with the devil.'
Mary knew for certain that she didn't like the sound of that. Her name may not be Sherlock Holmes, but her name hadn't been Mary Watson for all that long either. She had been an intelligence agent, and she hadn't achieved what she had by being stupid. Sherlock didn't have a case on at the moment, none at all, save for hers. The fact that John wasn't here either only served to strengthen the idea that he was with Sherlock on a case. And Magnussen was as close to the devil as people could get.
There was nothing much to be done after that. Mrs Holmes took turns lecturing Wiggins on following orders from her youngest son and making tea – 'Not drugged, I promise, dear' – for her husband and Mary. The latter had gotten to her feet, too restless to sit down, staring at the fire into which John had thrown the memory stick. She could still see it, definitely maimed after about an hour or more in the flames. Most of the data would be destroyed by now, but some was always recoverable, Mary knew. Could she really take the risk leaving it lying around here, risking that someone like Mycroft Holmes got his hands on it? She was fairly certain he didn't know about her past and her involvement in Sherlock's injury, but if he ever found out, she'd be as good as dead, no doubt.
That decided her, and so she took care to get the charred remains of the memory stick out of the fire without burning herself. Everyone else was in the kitchen, so she had a few moments. Mary smiled down wryly at the memory stick. She would destroy it herself at the earliest opportunity. That life was gone. Mary Morstan had been a chance at a new life, Mary Watson had been the proof that she succeeded. She didn't want to go back. Mary Watson was good enough for her from now on.
The memory stick had cooled down enough to slip it into her pocket when she heard commotion at the door, and so she got up – this used to be so much easier when she wasn't pregnant – and made her way to the kitchen. She didn't know what she was supposed to expect, not after having been drugged and wake up only to find her husband and his best friend gone, but she hadn't expected to see John, accompanied by two men who looked remarkably like police officers, standing in the kitchen looking as if the world had just ended. Of Sherlock and Mycroft there was no sign.
She was about to ask what had happened, when Mycroft stepped into the room. He had never been the picture of cheerfulness to begin with – more like the living image of chagrin at having to sit through Christmas in a family setting – but the expression he sported now wouldn't have been out of place at the funeral of a close relative. Again, there was no sign of Sherlock.
'What…?' What has happened here? That was what she had meant to ask, but the words died on her lips when John looked at her. There wasn't hate, or anger, to be seen there. The only emotion he put on display was defeat, and maybe something akin to shock. Mary had shot people who had looked exactly like that when they realised what she had done. Of course the only man standing out because of his absence hadn't looked like that when she had put a bullet in him. He looked like he had been thinking very hard, of all things to do, as if he was solving the mystery.
Now that she thought of it, that day in Magnussen's office rather defined them. Mary had shot someone, Sherlock had tried to solve the mystery and John had saved a life. Well, Sherlock had claimed that she had saved his life by phoning an ambulance five minutes before John did, but she had put him in danger in the first place, and without John's care he might have died before the arrival of the ambulance. Mixed messages, I grant you.
So where was he? John had looked this lost before, but that had been years ago, when she had first met him and he was mourning for Sherlock.
'We need to talk.' There was a tremor in John's voice as well as his hands. It didn't bode well. The need to know was positively overwhelming. Mary had not been used to the not knowing in the days before she became Mary Morstan, and it was maddening to not have access to the information she needed to deal with the situation at hand. Wryly she noted how easily she slipped back into the way of thinking she had done then whenever a crisis arose. It was still second nature to her. It would make one wonder how well the transition from her old life to her new had gone. Not all that well, by the look of things.
She only nodded. She didn't know Mycroft all that well, but he had never spoken more than three words together to her. John had told her – before the shooting – that she shouldn't take that personal; Sherlock was a party animal compared to his older brother. The mental image of that had made her smile.
'John, talk to me,' Mary all but pleaded when the door closed behind them. She had walked on into the living room, but John had remained in place, leaning against the door as if he would crash to the ground without its support.
'Magnussen…' He stopped, taking a deep breath. This was bad. This was very bad. John had behaved like that when Sherlock had made a sudden reappearance in the restaurant and he couldn't figure out what to say. 'Magnussen's dead. Sherlock…' He took another deep breath. 'Sherlock shot him.'
Mary didn't know what she had been expecting, but not this, never this. Everyone who knew her would know that Mary Watson was not the kind of woman to freeze into place with cold shivers going down her spine uncontrollably, but that was what she did all the same when John told her what had happened, from taking Mycroft's laptop to Magnussen to finding out that there were no Appledore vaults, no physical ones. The only vaults to be found were the ones of his Mind Palace.
Mind Palace. If matters had not been so serious, she might have collapsed with relief. Everything Magnussen had on her, everything he'd held over her head like a guillotine, had been nothing but thoughts and mental files, all of them now erased because Sherlock blew his brains out.
'He said "Give my love to Mary. Tell her she's safe now",' John finished, finally leaving the door and stumbling over to the sofa. If Mary had not been so sure that the punch on the table had been drugged, she would have given it to him. As it was, they would have to settle for something non-alcoholic; the Englishman's beverage of choice whenever something went completely pear-shaped: tea.
She took the chair, not sure if John even wanted her anywhere near now. They may have made up, but that was before Sherlock had shot a man for her sake. No, for John as much as for her. Probably more for John than for her. Her head was still reeling from trying to understand that. And at the same time it was all wrong. Sherlock was the one solving the mystery, and Mary was the one shooting people. That had been established months ago. But now their roles had been reversed; Mary felt as if she was trying to solve a case and Sherlock was the one putting a bullet in someone. And of course at the same time he had to take over John's job of saving lives as well – saving her life – because taking only one job wasn't enough apparently.
In hindsight it was impossible to say how long they were silent. They just were sitting down, trying to process the information, which was a job in and out of itself, because Mary could never even have guessed that Sherlock Holmes of all people would ever become a murderer. If anyone was likely to go to prison, it would be her. Although, upon reflection, was there really any telling what he would and wouldn't do? He had jumped off a roof to save John's life, after all.
In the end there was really only one thing to be done. 'I need to talk to him.'
That was easier said than done, mostly because Mycroft was being obstructive. That was what John said, at least, because he was the one to arrange most of it. The hardest thing was to arrange it all without making the embodiment of the British government suspicious. The last thing Mary wanted was for that meeting to be heard by any others than Sherlock Holmes and Mary herself. After he had done such an amazing job saving her, it would be foolish to throw it all away. As it was, it was a miracle Mycroft hadn't realised something about her was not as it should be, and she wasn't going to give him an excuse to launch an investigation now.
In the end, she didn't know how it was all done. John had been on the phone for almost three hours. Mary couldn't hear what was being said, but her husband sounded more annoyed by the second, but when he came out of the bedroom – in which he had locked himself to have some privacy, he was wearing an expression of grim satisfaction, and he gave her a curt nod.
'Mycroft's sending a car over now,' he announced. He had been out of sorts for three days – ever since the Shooting; she was capitalising it now in her head – but John was someone who needed the action, who craved the danger and the excitement. His verbal spat with Mycroft might have been just what he needed.
'Do you want to come?' All of a sudden she was nervous. All she knew was that she needed to talk to Sherlock – to thank him, to ask him what on earth he had been thinking – but now that the moment was here, Mary didn't know how to say the things she had to say.
She was equal parts relieved and horrified when John shook his head. It wasn't something she had been expecting. But then, he hadn't been very pleased to see Sherlock when he suddenly appeared in the restaurant either. Whenever Sherlock did something that shocked John, he wanted to keep his distance for a while. He had kept his distance from her as well when he had found out about her.
Still, it did nothing to calm her nerves. Just another operation, she reminded herself in the car, pointedly avoiding the gaze of Mycroft's assistant whom John had greeted as Anthea, when her eyes weren't on the phone she held in her hands, which was standard procedure, according to John. 'You'd think this was an abduction instead of doing a favour,' her husband had muttered when the car appeared. Mary had enough reason to be a bit wary after that.
Fortunately this Anthea didn't accompany her into the building, and of Mycroft there was no trace. Not that this meant anything; he could very well be monitoring her every move with the many CCTV cameras in this place. She could only hope her audience with the consulting detective was private.
At first glance it seemed to be the case. Mary's trained eye could spot no security cameras or bugs when she entered. Only when she had established that she turned to look at the man who was the reason that she had come here today in the first place. Sherlock didn't look well. He had never had much colour on his cheeks, but this place had done him no good either. Like as not he was bored out of his mind, and there was no violin or experiment here to distract him.
'You've looked better,' she commented, not sure what else to say.
'There's a security camera in the wall above the door behind you,' Sherlock informed her. 'But if you remain where you are, Mycroft won't be able to read my lips.'
She shouldn't have been surprised he would have noticed – never guessed – what was on her mind. Of course, with her not so discreetly scanning the walls, that was a bit of a giveaway. 'Well, I suppose that was obvious.'
'It was. Not your usual level at all.' In a way it was good to know that even though he had been locked up, he still was his arrogant self, maybe even more so because he was bored.
Mary snorted. 'You'd know, would you?'
'Yes, I would.'
A thought crept up on her. 'You have read what was on the memory stick, haven't you? I gave it to John, remember.'
The answer was rather predictable. 'I confiscated it.' He threw in that smile of his. 'It was for a case.' Her case. The one he had closed by getting rid of Magnussen. Mary had done some thinking in these past few days, mostly to try and make sense of recent events, and during a bout of insomnia last night had finally remembered that vow he'd made at the wedding. Whatever it takes, whatever happens. He certainly had done whatever it took. She should have known it, she told herself; Sherlock Holmes was not one for half-measures. It came with the job of being a drama queen.
'And I suppose John didn't even know it was missing,' Mary remarked wryly.
'You suppose correctly.' There was something that might very well be amusement in his eyes.
It was like a dance, Mary noticed, both of them keeping their distance, uncertain of what to do and what to say. Well, she was glad she wasn't alone in that at least. But she was supposed to be the most sociable of the two of them, so maybe she should make an effort.
'You drugged me.' Why this came out as an accusation, she wasn't sure. She had planned to say thank you.
Sherlock merely shrugged. 'Wiggins drugged you, technically speaking.'
'At your request,' she reminded him. He was fibbing, for whatever reason. 'You drugged me.'
'You shot me,' he retorted. 'We're even.'
They weren't even. Both of them knew that. For what he did, and after what she did to him, she would probably never stop owing him. 'You shot a man.' And it still felt wrong. Mary would have done it herself in a heartbeat if Sherlock hadn't shown up and interrupted her plans. What was this even, some attempt from him to finish what she'd started?
This was rewarded with a smile, one that actually reached his eyes. 'Yes, but he wasn't a very nice man.'
Mary frowned. It almost sounded as if he was quoting someone.
'John said that,' Sherlock said. 'The frown gave you away.'
'Of course it did.' She hesitated for another second. 'Thank you.' He had all but taken her life away by revealing to John that she had lied to him since the day they had met, and then he had given it back to her twice. First he told John that she was to be trusted, and that he should. He had even dragged them over to his parents' for Christmas to demonstrate what perfect marriage looked like – and to drug most of the people in the house to nick Mycroft's laptop, of course. The second time he had killed Magnussen, setting her free once and for all. Not that Mary told Sherlock what she was thanking him for; he could deduce that for himself.
'You should sit down,' Sherlock said, almost as if he was completely ignoring her thanks. He probably wasn't, but could she really be certain? There was no such thing with Sherlock Holmes. 'Your back is obviously hurting you.'
'Comes from falling unconscious into a chair,' she informed him, doing as she was told. If there was something to be discussed that Mycroft couldn't know about, it had all been said by now, or he wouldn't have told her to move. Besides, the way she heard it, Sherlock's brother was just as much of a genius as Sherlock himself, and he might get suspicious if she remained standing in the same place all the time.
'And from being pregnant,' Sherlock helpfully supplied.
'Of course you'd know all about that,' Mary said sarcastically.
'I would.' He must have done his research, just like he had been learning how to fold serviettes on YouTube before the wedding. Scared that the baby would put an end to him solving cases with John? The ironic thing was that Sherlock may have put an end to that all by himself when he shot Magnussen right in front of at least twenty witnesses. Not the way she had imagined Sherlock would ever commit a murder. You'd say he had seen enough of those to know how to commit one without being caught.
'Yes, you would,' she agreed. 'Why am I sitting down?'
'Oh, we might as well pass the time,' Sherlock said pleasantly. 'There's a change of guards in three minutes and twenty seconds.'
Despite herself Mary frowned. 'What's important about the guard?'
'He was staring at your cleavage,' Sherlock explained, a positively threatening grin on his face. 'Assaulted the grand total of four, no, five women in the last three months, although I'm assuming that's coming to an end now that Mycroft will have him arrested before he comes off duty.'
She tried to fight back a smile, but found herself failing. So, that's why he had wanted her to sit down, so that he could direct his latest deduction at the camera. He couldn't even stop solving crimes when he was in prison himself. One might wonder what that said about him. He'd certainly make enemies fast that way.
'What are they going to do to you?' she asked. 'Do you know how many years…?'
Sherlock didn't let her finish. 'Oh, they won't leave me in prison,' he said confidently. 'They seem to think I'm a bad influence on the other prisoners.'
'Wonder where they got that idea.' She didn't really. He'd probably annoy them to death with his deductions, especially because they were always true and they were only seldom complimentary. That was the thing about Sherlock's deductions. Everyone liked it when something nice was noticed about them, but no one was pleased to hear all their dirty laundry from a stranger, cheerfully told in front of a crowd. 'So, what are they going to do then, seeing as they can't keep you in prison for half a week before you start pointing out the criminals in security.'
Sherlock's silence was more telling than any verbal reply he might have given.
'Right. He wasn't the first, was he?'
'The head of security was dealing drugs,' Sherlock reported. 'And the prison governor has been taking bribes. I believe Mycroft had them replaced.'
'A lot of crime among staff,' Mary smiled. 'Comes from hanging around criminals for too long, I'd wager.'
A knock on the door interfered with the – no doubt heavily sarcastic – response Sherlock was going to give to that, and a moment later a security guard – not the same one who had brought her here, she couldn't help but notice; Mycroft really must be keeping an eye on this meeting – poked his head around the door. 'Mrs Watson, Mr Holmes said your car will be leaving in five minutes.'
She nodded. 'I'm coming. One minute, please.'
The guard nodded and disappeared again.
Mary stood up. 'I'll keep an eye on him.' She didn't need to further specify him; they both knew who she meant. 'He's a bit angry with you at the moment for not telling him what you were planning.'
One eyebrow was raised at her. 'But you'll talk him round again?'
Mary shrugged. 'May not need to.' John would probably not need any of it. He was just shocked, and hurt. But if he could forgive her after all that she'd done, then he certainly would forgive Sherlock. It was the way it had always been. It wasn't likely to change now. 'But you knew that already.'
Sherlock nodded. 'Yes, I did.'
Mary Watson left feeling lighter than she had in days. Being as pregnant as she was, that was saying something.