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All was still in the flat as she opened the door. It was eerie, and she was treading lightly as she entered. There was no sound. No movement. No sign of a human's presence.

She stood in the doorway for a moment, holding two paper bags in her arms. Allowing herself to be still, she cocked her head, straining to hear the faintest noise.

"Mr. Holmes?"

It was the first name she called out. She didn't know why. It was his place, obviously. Despite this, there was no answer.

"Doctor Watson?"

A bit of movement.

The doctor appeared at the top of the stairs, holding his daughter on his hip and looking almost with what looked to be fear and pity at Irene Adler. She had only been gone forty-five minutes at the most, so this new change over the doctor's visage alarmed her.

"I'm back," she said, jolting her arms to display the food she had returned with.

John said nothing.

He came down the stairs, holding Rosie in his arms and looking at his feet. She noticed how he was averting her gaze, and it angered her.

"I've got to be off," John huffed, trying to get past her in the doorway.

She blocked his path.

"What's happened?"


"Don't lie to me, Doctor Watson."

John was inches away from Irene's face, and as they were about the same height, he looked into her stony blue eyes, trying to find some trace of integrity, assurance, or confidence. He found nothing. They were shielded as always. Emotionless. Dead.

He cleared his throat.

"I'm just gonna say something, alright?"

She only stared.

John was breathing through his mouth now.

"You had better know whose side you're on. And if you don't know, you had better start figuring it out."

Her heart fell as she realized what was going on. Her mind was racing with possibilities, and she wondered what could possibly have happened in the short time she had been absent. Nevertheless, her lips were a thin line of expressionless red lipstick and her eyes were nothing but hard, sapphire rocks.

"That's all I'm saying."

He pushed against her on his way out, and coughed as he got into the open air. He hoisted Rosie further up his hip. The little girl laughed at Irene as her father hauled her away. Irene couldn't bring herself to smile at the child. If only the infant knew who she was.

She shut the door on the London streets and advanced towards the staircase. Setting her foot on the first step, she almost winced as she felt and heard the wood croaking beneath her feet. Each step following it was similar: each one seeming to break beneath her feet...the beams sighing in agony.

The door was open. The sitting room was empty.

"Mr. Holmes?"

She called his name, but she honestly did not know what she would have said if he had come out. Therefore, she was thankful when he remained unseen.

Setting down the bags of chicken on the kitchen, she felt the phone in her pocket vibrate against her leg. Seeing a new message, she opened it only to find two words from a number that neither she nor her phone recognized: "Be careful."

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