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Bohemian Rhapsody

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Jamie's cell phone chirped discreetly from her jacket pocket. Her eyebrows contracted ever so slightly. She had not been expecting a call on that phone anytime soon, and she was in the middle of business. She glanced across the white restaurant tablecloth at the two men with whom she was currently negotiating. Their muscles were tense; their eyes held fear. She could afford a minor delay.

"If you don't mind, gentlemen. I believe this is important." She slipped the cell phone out of a hidden inner pocket of her blue-and-black blazer and entered her four-digit passcode. She had received a text message.

None of us are dead. Let's all go out to dinner!

Her eyebrows flew up involuntarily. Then Jamie smiled. She rarely appreciated surprises that she did not orchestrate. However, she could forgive surprising herself.

New restaurant on my side called Diogenes, she texted back.

Girls' night, 8:00. We'll be there, came the reply.

Can I bring Joan? Jamie sent.

Please do! Can't wait. IA.

Jamie smiled again. The smile lingered as she turned her attention back to the men sitting across from her, sliding her phone back into her blazer. They quailed almost imperceptibly; involuntarily.

"My apologies, gentlemen. So, regarding the transport of this merchandise, we will require some extra security measures..."

***

Joan heard the distinct ding of her phone's text message tone echoing distantly from somewhere in the brownstone. Funny, she thought she had brought it down into the kitchen with her. She set down the cherry tomatoes she'd been about to wash for a salad, and made her way up the stairs to the living room.

There she found Sherlock sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace, peering with knitted brows down at her phone, which he had apparently just dug out of a cardboard box labeled less surface area than Clyde. Clyde was crawling on the mantelpiece.

"What are you doing with my phone?" Joan sighed. It was a rhetorical question at this point.

Sherlock turned the screen of the smartphone toward Joan, showing her the window that had popped up. In place of the sender's name or number, it had a single character:

?

Joan's heart missed a beat. There was only one thing that could mean. Sherlock held the phone up to her hand. She took it, unlocked the phone and read the message.

You're coming to girls' night out with me. No games, just fun. Dress up. I'll pick you up at 7. I'll stop writing to Sherlock. M.

Joan stared at the message, momentarily dumbfounded. Then her mind began to race.

Her first reaction was distress. Sherlock didn't know that she'd found the letter from Newgate, slipped in between the boxes in his stack of jigsaw puzzles. She suspected there were more somewhere in the brownstone.

Her second response was bewilderment. Who goes out for a girls' night with Moriarty? she thought.

Third, clarity. She could sever one more of the threads that kept Sherlock stitched into Irene's games. She had to go. She had a feeling that M would keep her word in this matter.

Fourth, incredulity. What does Moriarty out for a girls' night even look like? Joan's imagination failed her.

Finally, a whisper from the dark corners of her mind that craved the bizarre, the unexpected:

Why don't you go find out?

Joan blinked. Her decision was made.

"She wants to meet," she told Sherlock.

"What does she want from us?" Sherlock asked in an effortfully dull tone.

"Not us. Me," Joan said. "She's picking me up in half an hour. I have to go get ready."

Sherlock gaped at her, actually lost for words for at least five seconds.

"And - and -" he spluttered. "And you're just going to go?"

"Yes," Joan said. Sherlock stared at her like she was a train wreck he couldn't look away from. "Sherlock, if she wants to talk to me, she'll find a way to talk to me. I'd rather be expecting it than be casually abducted for another lunch date."

"And we should trust her why?" he asked sharply, drawing the why out into a long, drawling whaay? "And why not both of us? Does she really think I will not hesitate to contact the law enforcement personnel with whom we are intimately associated once she has spirited you away?" He was now standing, scraps of paper covered in calculations of surface area scattered at his feet.

"Don't call Gregson. At least not until I've been gone for more than four hours," Joan said, hating the way she was doing M's work for her. She must have known Joan would take the bait willingly. "If I can, I'll text you. If I'm not being coerced, I'll sign with my initials." She turned and started toward the stairs.

"Joan." The sound of her name, uttered with such strident overtones of suppressed distress and anguish, made her turn and look over her shoulder sharply. Sherlock was staring at her with eyes like a puppy she had kicked. He had never called her by her first name alone before.

"Why are you willing to do this? You know we can't trust her."

Joan hardly knew what to say. "Because I know she can't be trusted. Because she might be offering information. Because it will happen eventually anyway, if she's so determined." Joan shrugged and ran her fingers through her hair with a sigh. "Because I'm curious? I don't know." She hesitated. "I know you're not the biggest fan of gut feelings with no supporting evidence, but I feel like I have to go."

Sherlock's eyes held hers for a moment more. Then, with a nod, he slumped and glumly sat back down on the floor. He picked a green-and-yellow ball of yarn out of the box marked more surface area than Clyde, a pair of knitting needles out of the less surface area box, and began trying to cast on stitches.

Joan stared. "...What are you doing?"

"Knitting a sweater for Clyde," he said.

"You don't know how to knit."

"I will by the time you return. I certainly won't be sleeping."

Joan dismissed the idea of reminding him that tortoises were ectotherms that could not produce their own body heat, thus rendering tortoise sweaters useless. "Okay," she said. She started up the stairs. "Sherlock," she said, pausing halfway up. He looked up from his needles. "It'll be okay. I'll come back soon. Please don't do anything drastic while I'm gone."

He sighed with a nod and kept on knitting.

Joan had to be content with that. She went upstairs to get ready.

***

She had decided to wear her starry dress, short and black and spangled with multicolored stars and a crescent moon. Light in the shadows, she mused. Hope in the darkness. Curiosity and infinite possibilities. It probably wasn't as formal as whatever Moriarty meant by 'dress up,' but Joan didn't care to humor her by dressing to the nines. She needed to feel grounded in herself. She heard the doorbell ring as she tocked down the wooden stairs in her ankle boots.

"I'll be back soon, Sherlock," she said, glancing at him and his troubled knitting as briefly as possible. She opened the inner door to the foyer and shut it behind her before unlocking the outer door. She wanted her to have as little contact with Sherlock as possible.

On the other side of the outer door, a mass of golden curls and a predatory smile awaited her.

"M," Joan said.

"Oh, call me Jamie, dear, all the girls do. It avoids confusion. Let's go."

Confusion? Joan wondered. Confusion with what? Please tell me we're not going to a Moriarty family gathering. She walked past Jamie out the door.

Jamie leaned in just past the doorframe and called loudly, "Don't fret, Sherlock dear, we'll be back by midnight." Joan whirled around and glared at her, clenching her teeth. Don't even, she thought. Before Jamie could touch the doorknob she was reaching for, Joan slapped the wood of the door and slammed it shut. Jamie grinned.

"I simply love your dress," Jamie said as they went down the steps and slid into the sleek black limousine she had waiting. "So crisp and minimalist. I hope I haven't overdressed." She wore a full-length, glittering midnight-blue dress with an elegantly draped cowl neck. "But it is a rather special reunion, and the girls do like to be fancy."

"I thought you were still in prison!" Joan said, exasperated by the simultaneous absurdity and seriousness of discussing fashion choices with the feared criminal mastermind Moriarty.

"Oh, what's the point if I can't get out and have a little fun now and then?" Jamie said cheerfully. The chauffer pulled away from the curb and they were off. She seemed far too delighted, even peppy.

"I'm pretty sure that is the point," Joan said. Nothing is going to make any sense, she told herself. Just roll with it.

Jamie laughed out loud, startling Joan. "So dour!" she exclaimed. "Lighten up, Joan. You've already secured the end of my letters to Sherlock by joining me tonight without a fuss. I'm certain you've already made sure that Sherlock won't cause any problems. So, now's for fun, and I've got a pretty little puzzle to show you that I doubt even the two of you could solve!"

Well isn't that just great, Joan thought.

***

"Diogenes? You're seriously taking me to Diogenes?"

"Yes," Jamie said. "It's had quite good reviews, and I was incarcerated before it opened. I've been dying to try it."

"Technically, you should still be incarcerated."

"A moot point, my dear Watson."

"You do know this is one of the establishments owned by Sherlock's brother, right?"

"Yes, which is why I'm willing to believe the good reviews. There's one of his places in London that I absolutely adore. Indeed, I can't visit it as often as I would like, for reasons of discretion, of course."

Joan rolled her eyes. What the actual heck, she thought. "What do you eat there? Fish and chips? Tea and crumpets?"

Jamie looked scandalized. "Is that really all you can think of? You Americans. It's a Mediterranean place. Though there is a little place nearby it that has excellent fish and chips, I can't lie, they have the batter just perfect..."

Oh, for crying out loud, Joan thought. Moriarty is a first-class foodie.

"So who are we meeting here?" Joan asked, cutting through Jamie's chatter as they stepped out of the car and approached the restaurant.

"Oh, you'll see them soon enough," Jamie said happily.

As they waited near the door (there was a bit of a line to enter the restaurant), Joan watched the bustle through the full-length windows, looking for anyone she might recognize. Mycroft wouldn't be here; he had returned to London and stayed there, as far as Joan knew. Then she caught sight of a peculiar trio of women seated at a round table near the bar. She had a feeling that table, with its two extra chairs, was their destination. That feeling was not dissipated when one of women caught sight of her and Moriarty and began waving at them and shouting over the din of the other diners, "Jamie! Jamie!"

"Oh, there they are!" Jamie said. Joan followed her as she pushed through the throng gathered at the door and stepped into the clamor of the interior. Glasses clinked, silverware clattered, people spoke loudly and laughed, pots clanged and chefs shouted from the direction of the kitchen. In moments they neared the table.

As they reached it, the woman who had first seen them jumped up and immediately smothered Jamie in a hug, which she returned enthusiastically. Joan stared. She was wearing a full-fledged Victorian dress in a lurid pink satin, complete with bustle, contrasting ink-blue jacket, and a matching blue hat on top of her short brown curls.

"It's so good to see you!" she told Jamie.

"Likewise, my dear," said Jamie. "I should have known better than to credit rumors of your demise."

"And it's all thanks to you," the woman said. "It's just like you said. Crowded restaurants are no guarantee of safety. So I went prepared." Her eyes shone as she gazed up at Jamie like a beloved older sister.

What on earth are they talking about? Joan thought. "Um, should I be worried?" she asked in a half-successfully nonchalant tone.

"And this must be Joan!" said the woman sitting across from the one in the pink dress. She wore a low-cut, fitted dress as sleek and black as her dark hair wrapped in its shiny, tight bun. "No need to worry. We're just here to have fun tonight, not to get into any mischief," she said with a distinctly mischievous grin.

The petite woman sitting between the two others laughed. She was also in full Victorian dress, but she wore a brown men's frock coat and vest with trousers, and a top hat hung from the post of her chair. Her hair was dark brown and straight, oddly and incongruously tied back in a simple ponytail at the nape of her neck.

"How can anyone believe you when you smile like that, Miss Adler?" she said in a surprisingly low voice to the woman in the dark dress. She laughed, too, standing and approaching Joan as if to give her a hug as well.

"Adler?" Joan said, taking a step back as if stung.

"Yes, Irene Adler," Jamie said, disentangling herself from the woman in pink's embrace. "All of them. We just call her Miss Adler to distinguish among ourselves. That's what she prefers, anyway, the same way I prefer Jamie."

"Wait," Joan said, struggling to understand. "You're saying that Irene Adler is your real name?"

"All names are real, my dear Watson," Jamie said airily. "It's what we mean by them that matters. In any case, that there is Miss Adler, this pink young lady here is Miss Irene, and the woman in the excellent frock coat we call Lady Irene."

"Of course you already know Jamie," said Miss Adler, who insisted on hugging the squirming Joan. She dragged Joan into a chair, and Joan found herself seated between her and Jamie once everyone had gotten settled. "I'm so glad she brought you! We've never been able to bring one of the Watsons for girls' night before."

"Not for lack of trying!" said Miss Irene, and she and Miss Adler laughed uproariously. Lady Irene produced a refined chuckle, and Jamie actually giggled. Joan didn't know what to think. One of the Watsons? She had a bad feeling about that.

"The look on his face when I asked him!" said Miss Irene, tears of laughter welling in her eyes. "I knew he never would, but it was so very worth it. I'd bet I could get Sherlock to join us, but I don't want you two messing with him!" She pointed in mock accusation at Jamie and Miss Adler.

"I wouldn't do anything to him!" said Miss Adler in a wounded voice, hand splayed over her heart. "It's Jamie you need to worry about, she's having far too much fun with one Sherlock as it is!"

"Wait, wait," Joan said, desperately trying to keep up. "What's Sherlock got to do with this?"

Jamie laughed. "It's not our Sherlock, dear, it's another one. Don't worry."

"How many people are actually named Sherlock?" Joan said exasperatedly.

"How many named Irene Adler?" asked Lady Irene in her low, melodious voice. "More than I ever would have thought, certainly."

"So what is this?" Joan demanded. "Some sort of weird sisterhood for everyone with the same name?"

"Not quite," said Jamie. "You see, Joan, the universe is given to repeating itself. As you can see, we are all Irene Adler, though of course we are accustomed to multiple aliases," she said with a smile. "Perhaps that's why we were able to recognize the reflections of ourselves in each other."

"Please tell me you're not all criminal masterminds," said Joan. This is just what I need, she thought. Getting caught up in the antics of not one, but four brilliant women with a disregard for the law.

"No, no," Miss Irene laughed, her pink satin shimmering. "That's more Jamie's style. The criminal part, anyway. We've applied ourselves to quite a respectable variety of careers. I'm a consultant, I specialize in discreet operations, mostly in London. Miss Adler, well -"

"I'm in entertainment, and I do a little espionage on the side," Miss Adler finished with a grin. "Lady Irene is a quite excellent opera singer, and a world traveler, though she's been known to deal in information as well. I think Jamie takes after her bohemian ways the most, she's actually quite well respected in certain artistic circles. Under an alias, of course."

All of them tittered as if in response to a private joke. Joan, however, had her attention caught elsewhere.

"'Takes after?' So you are related?" she asked.

"After a fashion, my dear," said Lady Irene, folding her hands and resting them on the white tablecloth. "Once I learned to see my reflections out and about in the worlds, they always stopped by to pay their respects. Most of them move right along on their own business, maybe pausing to ask me a question about a Holmes or a Watson. Even if I can't help them, I can usually direct them to one of us who can. We're never that hard for each other to find, not when we think so alike."

Worlds? Plural? "Are you telling me there are multiple worlds that you're all from?" A Holmes or a Watson - Joan's mind reeled. Multiple universes. "More than one Sherlock? More than one of me?"

"Yes and no, my dear Watson," said Jamie. "Your own self is certainly unique, as are we all. Yet you are known elsewhere, by many faces and not so many names."

"Of course, you're by far more fun. The Johns can be so dour," pouted Miss Irene.

"Too uptight and upstanding," Miss Adler agreed.

"Oh, don't generalize so, the one I knew was quite sweet!" said Lady Irene. "It's a pity I didn't get to know him better."

"Maybe I could get Mary to join us next time, I hear she's a lovely lady," Miss Irene said thoughtfully.

"But -" Joan said. She had so many questions, she didn't know where to start. "If you're from other universes, how can you all be here, in what I'm quite sure is the New York I grew up in? In a restaurant run by my partner's brother, no less."

"Ooh, she calls him her partner," Miss Adler said enthusiastically. "My poor John, Sherlock's still calling him his blogger."

Joan groaned and rubbed her temples. Whatever she might have expected tonight, it wasn't this. "Forget it, I can't process all of this today," she complained. "If you're all really reflections or whatever of Jamie, as you say, I'm sure you could find a way to hop universes. I certainly wouldn't put it past her." Jamie beamed at her. Joan looked away and groaned again. "All I wanted was to eat my salad and go to bed early for once," she grumbled.

"But they're supposed to have excellent salads here!" Jamie said. "Let's get you one, where's a waiter?"

Joan resigned herself to an evening of bemusement and suspended disbelief.

***

"So do you all make a habit of tormenting Sherlocks?" Joan asked irritably.

"Yes," said Miss Adler.

"No!" said Miss Irene.

"Not intentionally," said Lady Irene.

"Urgh," Joan said, running her fingers through her hair. She picked up her salad fork and took some of her frustration out on the arugula, impaling it and crushing the leaves between her teeth.

Jamie laughed appreciatively. "That's the beauty of the web, my dear Watson. Somwhere in its connections, everything is both true and false." She took a bite of her own salad.

"You and your webs," Miss Irene scolded her good-naturedly. "Your strings got tangled somewhere along the way, Jamie." She stole a little tomato from Jamie's plate and popped it into her mouth.

"Don't! You're ruining the balance of flavor!" Jamie moaned.

"Oh hush, Jamie, you're such a fusspot about your food," said Lady Irene. "It's true though, her identity is a bit of a tangled mess," she said to Joan confidentially, leaning across the table. "She's the only one of us who's also Moriarty. For most of us, he's someone else. She already had the brains and the flair, but she gets the criminal tendencies from him. She's our wayward girl, but we're very fond of her, even if she is a bad influence on Miss Irene." She shot Jamie a small smile.

"Everyone could use a little bad influence now and then," said Miss Adler, turning in her chair to face Joan. "What about you, Miss Watson? Ever fancied a stint on the wrong side of the law? I'm sure you'd be good at the sort of work Jamie and Miss Irene do. You might even be good in my line of work."

"Uh..." said Joan. Miss Adler's grin was entirely too rakish.

"No, she's even more stubborn than my Sherlock," Jamie said. "Though you would have made an excellent Irene in any line of work, of that I have no doubt."

Joan wasn't sure what to make of that either. "Well, speaking of Sherlock, I should probably text him that I'm alright before he sets the brownstone on fire," she said, rummaging in her bag for her phone. "He's really not very happy about this."

"Oh yes, do, we don't want him panicking and ruining our night out," said Jamie. "How is he doing lately, Watson?"

"No better thanks to you," Joan snapped rather tiredly. She started a new text message to Sherlock, but had no idea where to begin.

"Yes, even I think you were really too hard on him, Jamie," said Miss Adler.

"Indeed, I hardly did more than tend to my own business and my Holmes was all a-fluster," said Lady Irene.

"Sherlocks really are quite fragile, you should have known better," said Miss Irene. "And him not even having his Watson yet! I'm frankly surprised that our Joan found him in time."

"Do you always find a Holmes with a Watson?" Joan asked awkwardly, realizing that she implicated herself in the statement.

"Generally, yes, unless you find a Watson left without a Holmes," said Jamie.

Joan felt a chill of foreboding. "What do you mean by that?"

"No, hers wouldn't, he's far too sweet and too attached!" Miss Irene broke in. Only an Irene Adler could call Sherlock Holmes 'sweet,' Joan supposed.

"They're always so unpredictable though, you can't really be sure," said Lady Irene.

"No, I think Miss Irene's right," said Miss Adler, looking at Joan sidelong. "In fact, I suspect Miss Joan would be more likely to do it herself."

"Oh, wouldn't that be lovely," said Jamie with a far too toothy smile. "I'd enjoy that, I really would."

"What are you talking about? More likely to do what?" Joan demanded.

"Oh, Miss Adler!" cried Miss Irene, her curls a-tremble. "Why must you say such awful things? Jamie, you can be so terrible sometimes, don't you think the poor boy's been through enough?"

"You're one to talk," scoffed Lady Irene. "Even Miss Adler had the decency to tell her Sherlock that she was still alive, twice, which you have yet to do."

"I'm still in a sensitive situation!" Miss Irene said defensively. "My life could still be forfeit. I'd ask Jamie to talk to my Professor Moriarty, but I've a feeling that he'd be just as stubborn as she is."

The Irenes' squabbling and dancing around the subject made Joan want to scream. She still had no idea what was going on this evening. She obviously wasn't going to get a straight answer out of them (what did she expect?), so she deliberately shut them out and tried to figure out what to tell Sherlock.

She kept it simple. Things are weird but I'm fine. I'm at dinner with M and some doppelgangers. They're really irritating. More later. JW.

The reply came almost immediately. Doppelgangers? U @ Diogenes?

Joan rolled her eyes. He must have hacked the GPS on her phone. Yes I'm at Diogenes. Don't do anything, just wait for me. I'll try to explain later. I will be alright. JW.

There was a pause, then the very short reply came.

:P

Joan laughed out loud at the unexpected ridiculousness of it. She felt rather bad, Sherlock must have been going out of his mind with worry; he probably didn't know what to say. Then she remembered where she was, and found four pairs of eyes staring at her.

"Oh, you have a lovely laugh," said Miss Adler, gazing at her with bright eyes.

Lady Irene's eyes rolled.

"We're having such fun tonight already, and we haven't even gotten to the main courses yet!" Jamie said.

Joan dropped her head into her hands and groaned again.

***

A few courses later, the Irenes had contrived to get Lady Irene onto the restaurant's little stage for an operatic performance. She sang an a capella piece in a lovely, smooth contralto voice, which Joan actually quite enjoyed. From there, things deteriorated into a karaoke contest, and Joan would never be quite sure how she ended up yelling the words to Bohemian Rhapsody into a microphone with Jamie Moriarty and Miss Irene. Jamie was a surprisingly terrible singer. Joan thought that the restaurant ought to have thrown them out, but she suspected that Jamie or one of the others had pulled some strings.

After the musical fiasco (which involved a truly scarring rendition of Adele's Set Fire to the Rain), they ordered dessert, and Joan had to listen to Jamie expostulate about the restaurant's creme brulée and flourless chocolate torte. Every now and again the conversation wandered back to Sherlocks and Watsons and Moriarties, and although Joan was quite lost, she was quite interested. She was starting to see faint reflections of herself in the portraits her dining companions painted of other Watsons. It gave her a headache.

Nonetheless she was intrigued by their antics. At one point, Lady Irene produced a large photograph of herself and a tall, severely overdressed man. For some reason the Irenes laughed themselves silly over it as she handed it over to Jamie. "For safekeeping," she claimed.

At another point, Jamie and Miss Adler tried to hack into each other's phones (the other two didn't have phones, and Joan wouldn't let them have hers). Miss Adler guessed the correct four-digit password first, and burst out laughing uproariously.

"Did I teach you nothing?" she wheezed, gasping for air.

"Come now, Joan will never figure it out," Jamie said, staring at the screen of Miss Adler's phone, which still read I am _ _ _ _ locked after several attempts.

"That's what I thought, and look where it got me! Your own games will be the death of you, Jamie."

"Tell me, what is it?" Miss Irene demanded, flapping her arms at Miss Adler. Miss Adler stood up and walked around the table to whisper the password in her ear. Lady Irene leaned in to listen, too, and they all collapsed into laughter again. When she could breathe again, Miss Irene said, "You ought to change that, Jamie, she's already outsmarted you once!"

Jamie waved a dismissive hand at them. Suddenly her face lit up in a positively wicked grin as she typed T-U-N-A into Miss Adler's phone.

"Look who else has been trawling the depths of the outworldly internets!" she cackled, waving the unlocked phone in Miss Adler's direction. Grinning, Miss Adler snatched it back and dropped Jamie's own phone back into her lap.

Eventually they all ended up sipping fine wines and fawning over Joan's phone pictures of Clyde and Sherlock with Clyde on his head.

Against all reason and better judgement, Joan had fun.

***

Just before midnight, Sherlock heard a vehicle pull up in front of the brownstone. He dropped the sorry square of his valiant efforts at knitting on top of Clyde and practically ran to the front door, skidding across the wooden boards in his polka-dotted socks. He opened the inner and then the main door, and peered out into the street.

Joan was stepping out of a limousine onto the sidewalk, followed by chatter from within the vehicle. He could not quite hear her words, but she was making placating gestures with her hands as she shut the door. Then four heads popped out of the limousine's sunroof.

His heart skipped a beat as he saw her, unmistakable with her golden curls. She turned toward him, blew him a kiss, and waved.

"She's safe and sound, Sherlock dear. Good night!" she called.

"Oh, that's him!" exclaimed the pink-clad woman next to her, waving. "Hello! Take care of our Joanie, now!"

"Yes," said the dark-clad woman standing behind them. "We'll come and drag her off to London for a grand old time if you don't!"

"We might do it anyway," said the woman in the frock coat.

They all laughed. Sherlock stared blankly.

"Come along, girls, I've got to get back to prison before they change the guard," Moriarty said. They shrieked with laughter again. Joan rolled her eyes as she climbed the front steps.

Sherlock ran down and met her on the landing. His hands fluttered in the air between them, vibrant with distress. He patted her on the shoulders once, with both hands, gently. She seemed to be unharmed. He dropped his arms to his sides.

"You're alright?" he said hoarsely.

"I'm fine, Sherlock," Joan said, patting his cheek. "It's undoubtedly been the weirdest night of my life, but I'm fine."

"Who are they?" he asked, glancing sidewise at the women clamoring to say goodbye from the limousine's sunroof.

"Goodbye Joanie! Bye, Sherly!"

"Can't wait to see you again, dear!"

"Farewell, my dear Watson!"

Joan gave him a crooked grin. "From what I can tell, four universes' worth of Irene Adlers."

Sherlock didn't know what to deduce from that.

They watched the limousine pull away, and soon only the frock-coated woman remained standing through the sunroof.

"Until next time, Miss Watson," she said, tipping her top hat as she glided away. "Truly yours, as always, Mr. Holmes."

For a moment she seemed almost familiar to Sherlock. Then the limousine rounded a corner and they were gone.