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He didn’t know who he was, but it must have been someone important.

 

After all, why else would they be chasing him so feverishly?

 

The brunette knew that he was important as their assassin, they had trained him to become the perfect one. But there was something more… There had a be a reason they chose him specifically. But… Now isn’t the best time to be wondering this, is it?

 

He peeked out from his hiding spot, watching the three armed men pace around the area. They slowly pressed their feet into the snow, looking for any sign of where they could have gone. Predictable… The assassin thought. They’re looking for tracks, do they really think I’m that daft?

“He has to be here somewhere, he couldn’t have gone far!” One of the voices whispered, waving the flashlight he was holding. “If the boss finds out that he got away on our job, we’re dead!”

 

We?! The boss put me in charge!” The larger man snapped, waving his gun as if that made the man’s flashlight less superior. “If anyone is gonna be dead, it will be me!”

 

The third man whipped around to face the other two. “Stop yelling!” He frantically hissed,”Do you want him to hear you and run farther away?!”

 

The other two went silent, and the assassin watched them descend further into the cold, snow-filled forest. He didn’t move, he barely even breathed, until he was sure that they weren’t coming back. It was tempting to stay hidden, but he knew he couldn’t. Darkness is a better cover…

 

Slowly, carefully, he pushed the log (that covered the hole he crawled into) away, and climbed out. He hopped onto a nearby rock, grabbing a branch off the ground and wiping away the tracks he had made. Even though it was extremely dark, he still remembered exactly where his prints were, so it was easy to get rid of them.

 

Once he was sure the prints were hidden, the assassin braved himself, and jumped over to the close tree, climbing up the branches. He climbed up very high, wrapping his long legs around the trunk, and searching the forest with his ice blue eyes.

 

He saw the small lights in the distance, and let out the breathe he’d been holding. Good, they’re already pretty far away… I’ll just go a different way.

 

The assassin knew he couldn’t stay in the trees, it would be too hard to navigate in the dark. But I can make them think I’m hiding up here.

 

He slid down, landing in the snow, facing the trunk, and began to walk backwards. He stayed that way for several minutes, until he decided it was enough. They’re pretty vacant, hopefully they won’t look very far.

 

He then turned around, hurrying deeper into the forest while keeping an eye on his surroundings. He had no plan, no clue where he was going to go, he only knew that he had to keep running.

 

The sooner I am far away from this wretched place, the better.

 

— — — — — —

 

Mycroft flipped through the report quickly, searching for any variation of the word ‘found.’ There was none, as always…

 

No matter how hard he searched, the older man just couldn’t seem to find any sign of his missing brother. He’d secretly sent agents to his brother’s last known whereabouts, but every mission always failed. They couldn’t find him...

 

He sighed, slamming it roughly against his desk and looking up at Anthea. “When can the next Agent set out?”

 

Anthea looked down from her phone, eyebrows knitting together in a rare show of concern. She hesitated and gathered her courage, and then firmly said,”With all due respect, sir… I think it’s time to stop.”

 

Mycroft froze, slowly turning his head to face her. His eyes shined with frustration, but Anthea only knew that because of how long she had been working for him.

 

“What exactly do you mean by that, Anthea?” He demanded calmly,”Why should I stop?”

 

Anthea could feel the tension in the room grow, but forced herself to continue. “Sir, you have to accept that Sherlock is dead,” She declared,”He was sent on a suicide mission, he was predicted to survive six months, and it’s been five years. He’s dead.”

 

Mycroft didn’t say anything for a long, long pause; He simply stared at her. Then, with a sigh, he turned back to his papers. “You’re dismissed for the day,” He ordered.

 

“Sir-“

 

Dismissed , Anthea,” Mycroft repeated.

 

Anthea looked as though she would refuse, opening her mouth to say something else before closing it, and hurrying out of the room.

 

Mycroft waited until he head the door click completely shut, and then threw the damned report to the ground; He buried his face in his hands, unable to hide his body’s shaking.

 

What Anthea said wasn’t news to Mycroft, he knew that Sherlock was most likely dead. But… He’s always been one to do the unexpected. I was simply hoping that he’d find a way to surprise me again…

 

But his assistant was right… By now, Sherlock would have returned in a spectacular fashion. There was no other way around it, his brother was dead…

 

Mycroft buried his face in his hands, hiding the shame of his failure from himself. He could stop the tears, but he couldn’t stop the pain and sorrow that wrapped around his entire being

 

“Brother mine…” He whispered,”I’m so sorry…”

Chapter Text

“No! Wait! Wait!” The man screamed, shaking in terror and backing into the corner of the wall as the assassin moved towards him. He held his hands up, and cried,”Please! What are they paying you?! I’ll double it! I’ll-“

 

The gunshot rang through the warehouse, bouncing on the walls. The man then slumped over, a hole in between his eyes, completely dead. The only movement coming from him was the one single line of blood dripping from the hole,

 

The brunette assassin holstered his gun, moving towards the dead body, and grabbed the dog tag around the man’s neck, ripping it off and pocketing it in his black bag. He looked around once more, before exiting the old warehouse and returning to the snow covered trails.

 

It had been six months since he’d escaped from his captors; Since then, he’d been working as a mercenary for hire. To say that it was what he wanted to do would be a lie, but killing was really the only thing he knew how to do.

 

He remembered how it started too, it had been just a few short days after his escape, in the first big city he had come across....

 

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

 

It had been a cold night, the wind howling through the large city. He had managed to find a tattered coat and a moth eaten scarf, those becoming his only source of comfort. There was really no rhyme or reason to where he was going, he just needed to keep moving.

 

He kept to the alleyways, unsure of if he had been followed or not. There had been many sketchy or creepy people in them, but every one of them seemed to realize that he was not to be trifled with.

 

His stomach growled and he was shivering a little. I need to find something to eat and drink, or else I won’t be able to keep moving…

 

As much as he didn’t want to, the assassin knew that stealing was his only option. With no money, there wasn’t really anything else he could do. I have to go into the city if I want to find anything good.

 

He turned the corner, and froze at what his blue eyes were viewing. A woman- Tourist, Young, gullible -being held to the ground by two large men. Locals, in need of money, drug addicted? No, sex trafficking.

 

The large man, whose beard was long enough to touch his collarbone, was laughing as he exclaimed,”We hit the jackpot! That soft skin, blemish free, she’s gonna get us tons of money!”

 

The smaller of the two smiled wide, a dark look appearing in his eyes. “Say… Why don’t we try out the wares?” He whispered,”We have to make sure she’ll feel good to whoever gets her~”

 

The large man became conflicted. “But, Dusan, they told that if they’re virgins then they are worth more…” He whispered.

 

“Gavrie, come on, when’s the last time we’ve had some fun?” The smaller asked,”Just this once!”

 

Gavrie sighed, but that same dark look came into his eyes. “Alright, alright,” He said,”Just this once, okay?”

The girl’s muffled screams grew louder as the men stopped talking, reaching towards her lower body.

 

The assassin didn’t let them get far. He snuck forward, grabbing Dusan by the throat and squeezing hard. The man squeaked, his hands clawing desperately to get free from the grasp. The assassin didn’t even flinch, forcing the man to a standing.

 

“What the fuck!?” Gavrie yelled, getting up and whipping out a switchblade. “Stay back! I’m warning you!”

 

The brunette watched him for a moment, and then threw the smaller man right against him. The two crumbled to the ground, the knife flying into the air. The assassin grabbed it while they scrambled to their feet. This time, Dusan raised a gun out of his bag while yelling in slurred Russian. Without thinking, the assassin flicked the knife. It embedded into Dusan’s arm and caused the man to scream, dropping the gun as he did.

 

“She ain’t worth getting jumped by a fucking shadow!” Dusan yelled in Russian,”Run!”

 

The assassin watched them go, before turning back to the woman. She squealed when his gaze hit her, as if afraid he would hurt her too.

 

Instead of voicing his confusion at this, he asked,”Are you alright?” His voice was deep and smooth, he found himself unused to hearing it.

 

The woman finally seemed to realize that he wasn’t going to hurt her; She jumped to her feet, wrapping her arms around him tightly. “Thank you…” She croaked.

 

The assassin went tense in her hold, not knowing what to do. Physical contact hurts, she’s going to hurt you! His memories screamed… But she wasn’t trying hurt him. What is this?

 

He forced himself to release a quiet noise, letting her know he acknowledged her gratitudes. She then pulled away, looking around for a moment until she found her pink purse on the ground.

 

She turned back to him, softly saying,”Please, come with me. I’ll buy you a meal, it’s the least I could do.”

 

The assassin almost declined, but the hunger was practically clawing at his insides, so he nodded.

 

The woman smiled again, and then turned to walk out of the alleys and made sure he kept by her side. She’s afraid, she’s worried they’ll come back. He noticed, but didn’t voice his deduction.

 

After a minute of awkward silence, she asked,”What’s your name?”

 

The assassin was surprised by the question. A name? His captors had called my ‘You’ or ‘It’ or on occasion ‘That Thing’... But those weren’t names…

 

“Don’t have one,” He quietly admitted, not explaining any further than that.

 

The girl frowned, her brown eyes filled with pity. “Oh… That sucks,” She said, lowering her head to the ground. “Well… Would you want one?”

 

The assassin shrugged, it didn’t really bother him either way. It wasn’t like anyone would care if he had a name or not.

 

The woman gave a thoughtful look, and casually said,”Well, those guys called you… Ten? That means shadow in Russian, doesn’t it?”

 

“Yes,” The assassin replied, unsure of how he knew Russian in the first place.

 

She smiled again. “Well, you were kind of like a shadow. You appeared out of nowhere, what if you used that for a name?” She asked.

 

“Ten…” He repeated quietly, before nodding the slightest bit. “Yes, that works.”

 

And so, the Assassin became Ten. But it was merely hours later when his new career began.

 

The girl left after buying Ten his meal, and then he went back to wandering through the alleys to leave the city. He heard a noise behind him and whipped around.

 

Standing in front of him was a red haired man, clean cut, wearing a suit. Not Russian, Irish? Rich, doesn’t like getting his hands dirty.

 

“I saw what you did back there,” He casually said,”You move like a shadow, nobody even saw you coming. Are you an mercenary of some kind?”

 

Ten just nodded, not sure what else he could have called himself in all honesty.

 

The man smiled, seemingly elated by the news. “Well, then I may just have some work for you,” He said,”Walk with me, won’t you?”

 

— — — — — —

 

And thus began Ten’s career. It wasn’t much, but it kept food in his bag and weapons on his pockets. He still hadn’t stopped moving around Russia, but clients still managed to find him. It seemed everyone with a reason to be paranoid had heard his name...

 

Ten shook himself out of his thoughts as he finally returned to the drop off point, seeing the red haired man- Sebastian -waiting for him. He contacted Ten a lot for missions, always paying handsomely for his requests.

 

“Ah, Ten! Good to see you again!” The red haired man cheered,”I trust you were successful on your little escapade?”

 

The mercenary didn’t speak, he simply dropped the dog tag into the man’s waiting hands. The blue eyes turned down towards it, a dark smile climbing up Sebastian's face. “Excellent work as always,” He complimented, pointing to a nearby security guard. “Get his payment.”

 

The man left, leaving Ten and Sebastian alone. The redhead fiddled with the dog tag, suddenly saying,”There the grown serpent lies. The worm that’s fled hath nature that in time will venom breed. No teeth for th’ present.” He looked up at Ten. “Macbeth, have you ever read it?”

 

“No,” Ten bluntly answered.

 

Sebastian shrugged, making a curious noise. “Well, it’s a classic if you ever have the time,” He mentioned.

 

They fell into silence again, until the redhead then casually asked,”May I ask you something, Ten? These missions I give you never seem to faze you… In fact, nothing seems to. Do you enjoy it? Killing?”

 

“I do what I have to,” Ten answered, taking the wads of cash from the returning security guard and beginning to count them.

 

Sebastian seemed to be a little disappointed with his response, but still hummed in understanding. “Yes of course,” He replied,”Just as we all have to in order to survive in this world… Such is the food chain of our society.”

He turned, walking away with his security. “I’ll contact you again soon,” He dismissed, leaving with no more words.

 

Ten quirked his eyebrow toward them, but shoved his cash into his backpack and left the meeting point as soon as possible. Something about Sebastian unnerved the mercenary, but he couldn’t figure out what.. And, well, the money was good. For someone like Ten- who technically didn’t exist in the world -such an amount of money was worth all the trouble.

 

The first thing Ten did with his money was go to the nearby store and grab some food. He never got anything that wasn’t canned or couldn’t be stored in his backpack, it was too risky and too much work. He needed to be able to leave at a moment’s notice.

 

After grabbing a few cans of soup and some water, he payed and left the store, returning to the crappy motel room he had rented. It really wasn’t much, but it provided safety from the cold, that’s all he wanted.

 

Ten sat on top of the hard bad, opening the can with a knife, and drinking the soup straight from it.

 

Once he finished, he lied back on the bed and stared up at the cracked ceiling. Strangely enough, Sebastian’s words were still bubbling in his brain.

 

Do you enjoy it? Killing?

 

Ten frowned, bringing the empty can into his hand and squeezing it a bit. Truly, Ten didn’t know what he enjoyed. He had no memories about what joy even felt like, nor remembrance of any hobbies he might have once had.

 

Who am I? He wondered. Was I ever someone? Did I have a family? Was I anyone before- The can suddenly was crushed in his clenched fist, Ten squishing it as easily as tin foil.

 

Before they did this to me?

 

Those thoughts threatened to overwhelm him again, so he pushed himself to think about something else, anything else.

 

Go to sleep. He told himself. Get your rest, leave tomorrow. Keep moving, like you always do. Your past isn’t important.

 

He turned on the bed, bringing the ratty cover over his skinny form and closing his eyes, soon falling into a deep sleep.

 

Memories are a luxury that I can’t afford to buy back.

 

— — — — — —

 

Rose was starting to get used to the sight of that black gravestone with the golden letters. Now that she could read it, the reasons they were there every year was much easier to understand.

 

Sherlock Holmes.

 

The five year old looked up towards her mummy, who stared at the stone with a solemn silence. She then turned to her daddy, who looked even sadder, as if he had just lost his whole world all over again.

 

Rose? Well, Rose couldn’t bring herself to be sad. Even though her daddy had told her stories about his and Sherlock’s adventures, she had never met him. She didn’t even know what he looked like.

 

But Rose tried not to get impatient. As much as she wanted to go home and play, she knew how sad her mum and dad got during this time of year. She knew how much they missed Sherlock.

 

Sometimes Mrs. Hudson, Aunt Molly, or Uncle Lestrade would come over and talk to daddy, usually after her bedtime. But sometimes, Rose would sneak down for a drink and hear them talking.

 

“John, please,” Uncle Lestrade Would day,”Come help with a case, for old time’s sake.”

 

Her daddy would laugh. “You know I wouldn’t be any use, Greg,” He replied,”Sherlock was the real genius…”

 

“You know, dearie, you still have some things in 221b if you’d like to go and get them,” Mrs. Hudson would suggest. “I’ve kept the place dusted. I could make you a cuppa, and Rosie could come along-“

 

Once again, her daddy would shake his head. “It’s fine,” He would respond,”I’d never be able to find anything under Sherlock’s mess anyways.”

 

Aunt Molly barely said anything, she would simply stare at her cup for a long while before saying,”John, you can keep like this, Sherlock was your best friend, and Rosie should learn more-“

 

“No,” Daddy snapped, much more firmly this time, like when Rosie wanted an extra biscuit before bed. “She doesn’t- She doesn’t need to feel the pain me and Mary did…”

 

That was the end of that, and all Rosie really knew about Sherlock was what her daddy told her. Not much…

 

But every year, they’d come to the graveyard and stare at the grave for a long, long time. Rose stood next to her mummy, listening as her dad quietly chuckled.

 

“You know, even after all this time, I still hope he’ll do it again,” Her daddy said,”I was hoping that he’d come back, even if it mean he did it as dramatically as last time...”

 

Mummy sighed, and rubbed his shoulder. “You’re not the only one,” She promised,”I keep waiting… But I don’t think he can come back this time…”

 

They leaned against each other, and Rose felt pity for her parents. They were so sad… She wanted to make them feel better.

 

The five year old looked around the green graveyard for anything that could help. Finally, her eyes caught sight of some brightly colored flowers near the edge of some bushes.

 

She smiled wide, peeking back at her parents for a moment before scurrying off to the flowers. She dropped to her knees, picking the flowers and then piling them onto her shirt.

 

Just then, a rustling in the bushes caught her attention. She turned her blue eyes toward the bush, and saw a beautiful red rose sticking out of it.

 

Rose… Like me! Mum and dad will love that! She decided, reaching out and wrapping her hand around the flower. She tried tugging it, but it wouldn’t budge.

 

With a frown, she grabbed the flower with both hands. Suddenly, she was yanked forward and through the bush. A calloused hand wrapped around her mouth, and Rose began to panic.

 

“We got her,” A deep, evil sounding voice whispered. “We got the assassin’s little brat! Now let’s go!”

 

Rose remembered what her parents told her about bad people, and her heart started beating fifty times faster. She screamed against the hand, clawing at the arm, but to no avail.

 

Suddenly, there was a tiny, sharp pain in the back of her neck, she felt really cold, and everything went black.

Chapter Text

It was about two weeks before Ten got any more work. It wasn’t something that he was unused to, it took a lot of courage for people to hire people in Ten’s profession. Plus, Sebastian had paid him enough to last for several weeks beyond that. It wasn’t much of a big deal.

 

He had been traveling through Murmansk when he had finally been approached again. He had stopped at a local cafe to get a warm drink, the oncoming winter starting to bite in the air.

 

That’s when he saw her. A young woman with black hair and blue eyes looking at him anxiously and then quickly looking down repeatedly. Ten caught on almost right away. She is trying to approach me, but she’s afraid. Of what? Her nervous glance at the crowd of people around them answered his question.

 

Ten picked up his drink and stood up, turning and walking into the nearest alleyway. Once he got there, he turned to face the entrance. Sure enough, the young woman had followed him.

 

She hugged her coat closer to herself as she caught sight of Ten, and slowly approached him. Her breathing quickened as she got closer, looking him up and down before she softly said,”It is you. You’re Ten.”

 

The mentioned man nodded his head the slightest, his mind already spinning with data. Her accent isn’t from anywhere on this side of the continent. It sounds British, possibly Irish. He then tilted his head the other way, waiting for her to start speaking.

 

The woman took another nervous breath and continued,”I- I need to hire you. It’s a big job, a major job. I want you to kill my boss.”

 

“Who is your boss?” Ten asked softly, his deep voice making the girl jump a little bit.

 

She gave a nervous look around the alley and then moved closer. “I can’t say too much, he’ll know I sent you,” She frantically said,”But he’s a human trafficker. I had no idea until a few months when I overheard a conversation. They were talking about… About a child! About shipping her off and- and all the others.”

 

The young woman grew emotional, tears building up in her eyes before she quickly wiped them away. With a sniff, she stuttered,”A-and then he found out I knew. He told me that- that if I tried to stop him, he’d make sure my daughter was sold off.

 

“I agreed, and ever since then I have been helping him and I have kept quiet for so long but- But I can't anymore! Please! You have to kill him and free those poor people!”

 

Ten listened to her story intently and frowned. “Why come to me?” He asked,”Why not the police?”

 

“They’re not safe,” She quickly said, her body shaking. “That’s the whole reason he figured out that I knew. I tried to take the evidence to the police, but he had been bribing them. They turned me over to him right away.”

 

She wiped away more tears, this time they seemed to be ones more based upon anger. “I can’t let him get away with it any longer!” She exclaimed,”Please! Kill him! Set those people free! Set me free!”

 

Quickly, the young woman reached into her purse and pulled out several wads of cash. She shoved them into his arms along with a piece of paper. “This is where he’ll be in about a week. I have to leave now, take my daughter and run,” She said,” Please. Please save them.”

 

Without saying another word, she took off back into the city. Ten watched her go, looking down at the cash and the address. That’s in Vladivostok, right on the coast. He noticed, memorizing the address and then shoving the note and cash into his bag.

 

Yes, he would do this mission. He had never turned one away, he wasn’t going to start now. And then there was a strange feeling he was getting…

 

A feeling that warned him this job was going to be much different that those he’s had before.

 

— — — — — —

 

“Let me go!”

 

“Help! Daddy! Mummy!”

 

“I WANT MY MUMMY AND DADDY!”

 

“SHUT UP!”

 

Rose cried at the metal clang of a gun hitting the bars of her cell. On the other side, the big scary man with the gun was glaring down at her with angry eyes.

 

He waved his gun towards her as he yelled,”What the fuck did I say!? I told you that if you want to live you need to shut up! I can shoot you right fucking now!”

 

The little girl sniffles sadly and brought her hands up to cover her mouth, nodding frantically. Part of her wanted to just ignore his yelling and cry even more, but his scary words were enough to keep her petrified.

 

She scooted back over to the edge of the small cell she was kept in and hugged herself close, shaking from both the cold and fear. I wanna go home… I miss mummy and daddy. Why can’t I go home?

 

The girl watched the guards turn around, obviously having decided she would be quiet for now. They looked towards each other, and the smaller of the men asked,”Why do we even have a kid? Boss has never taken kids before.”

 

“Someone paid good money is what I heard,” The others replied,”Something about wanting the mom to suffer. He’ll be here in a couple days to pick her up.”

 

“Who?” The smaller one questioned. “And what does he want to do with her?”

 

The bigger man sighed angrily. “You ask too many fuckin’ questions, just shut up and follow orders,” He snapped,”Only Boss knows who he is. But who that guy is and what he wants to do is not our business.”

 

The smaller guard frowned, looking back towards Rose with sad eyes, and then quickly standing at attention again. The little girl, meanwhile, began to cry again.

 

They were doing this to hurt mummy? Why did they want to hurt her? Rose was terrified, trying to imagine who was coming to take her away. What would they do with her? Would she see her parents again?

 

Then, there was a sound. It was the sound of a knock on the door. The two guards looked up, exchanging glances and then turning back towards the door.

 

“Who is that?” The smaller one asked,”Is it the boss?”

 

The bigger one frowned and said,”Why would he come back here? He always has us meet in his office...” Holding his gun close and then walking out of Rosie’s view.She heard the sound of a door opening, and a loud gasp. “Hey! Who the hell are you-“

 

BANG!

 

Rosie and the smaller guard jumped in surprise, the little girl screaming in fear. The smaller guard ran out of view, yelling as well, but he was quickly shut down with another bang.

 

She saw a gun clatter to the ground, and the wide eyes of the smaller guard. Then, there were slow footsteps coming closer and closer. She scrambled to the corner of the cage and breathing hard.

 

When the footsteps stopped, a stranger came into view, and Rose was quick to get a look at him. He was tall with curly brown hair that reached his shoulders, wearing all black with a face mask covering the bottom half of his face. His blue eyes stared at her, betraying no emotion. In his hand was a handgun, one like the one her daddy had.

 

He took another step forward, and Rose quickly let out a panicked sob. “No! Please! Please don’t hurt me!” She cried,”I just want my mummy!”

 

Unlike the guards, he didn’t yell at her for crying, he didn’t even speak. Instead, he reached forward and ripped the lock off the cage door, turned around, and walked away.

 

Rosie stared in shock as she gathered her courage, peeled herself off the wall, and burst out the door. The man was still there, this time he was carrying to two guards out the nearby metal door, a trail of red following their bodies. The little girl cringed, standing back until he was all the way out the door.

 

She followed him out, finding herself in the middle of the warehouse. There were over dozens of other people sobbing and crying in relief, while the scary guards were not moving and all in a pile in the center.

 

The stranger tossed the other two onto the pile and then turned to face them. “Leave,” He said,”Find your way back home, but do not call the police. They are in on this. There is a train station nearby.”

 

One of the middle aged women reached out, touching the back of his shoulder. “Thank you, you are an angel...” She whispered, taking the hand of a younger girl and hurrying out.

 

Many of the other people who were rescued started to gather together and hurry out. Obviously, a lot of them knew each other, so they could help each other. But Rose… She didn’t have anyone.

 

I’m lost… I’m all alone… She realized, her eyes burning with tears once more. She fell back onto the ground, starting to cry all over again as she watched people run out.

 

Why weren’t they helping her? Did they not like Rosie? Were they too scared? Too busy? Why was she being left behind!?

 

The stranger had waited until everyone left and then started walking out as well… Even her rescuer was leaving her. She started to cry even harder, at a loss of what to do.

 

But then… For some reason… The stranger stopped. He stood there for a few seconds, and then turned to look back at her.

 

Rosie sniffled as she wiped her eyes, staring back at him with a forlorn expression. “Please…” She whispered,”I wanna go home…”

 

She lowered her head and started sobbing again, already feeling completely helpless. Then, a black clad hand entered her blurry vision. She looked up again and saw the stranger, standing in front of her with his hand outstretched.

 

When she didn’t say anything, too scared to dare try anything, he sighed and said,”Come on.”

 

That was all Rosie needed. The hope that had faded away quickly back. She jumped up and grabbed his hand with hers, holding tight and giving a soft grin. “Thank you, mister,” She said.

 

He didn’t respond, but Rose didn’t mind. She followed him out of the scary place, with a bounce in her step. For the first time in what felt like forever, she was safe.

 

All thanks to the strange rescuer.

 

— — — — — —

 

What am I doing?!

 

Ten was absolutely confused and frustrated. It was supposed to be a job, that was it. Then he would go back to his life. Why was he doing this? Why was he bringing this child with him?

 

It didn’t make sense. He had rescued children before, many of his jobs involved such things. But the second he laid eyes on the girl, it was as if his subconscious mind was screaming at him.

 

He tried to leave and ignore the voice, but it was impossible. He couldn't take more than one step out of the door before he froze up. When he looked at her, the voice screamed again. Take care of her. His mind said. She needs you, more than anyone.

 

Now here he was, walking through the snow with a little girl clinging to his hand. When she looked up at him, there was a spike of a feeling that he didn’t quite understand… He didn’t understand anything, why was this child so familiar to him?

 

The wind howled even more, and the little girl shuddered from the cold bite. Ten broke out of his thoughts and frowned. He hadn’t realized that the girl was still wearing only a dress. Not very useful in the Russian winter.

 

He pulled off his coat, wrapping it around the girl and then lifting him into her arms. She gasped in surprise, tensing up for a few seconds before letting herself relax. She has been hurt during captivity… It has left mental scars.

 

After only a few more minutes of walking, he felt the girl slump further against him and heard her breathing slow down. She fell asleep, why does she trust me enough to do that?

 

That strange feeling rose up in him again. He placed his hand against the girl’s back and held her in a gentle embrace. I don’t know why I feel this way, why I feel like you’re important to me… but I’ll protect you.

 

— — — — — — —

 

When Rose woke up, she felt much more comfortable. Instead of shivering from the cold and sitting in a hard cage, she was laying on something plush and had a soft blanket covering her. When was the last time she had felt so safe and warm?

 

She opened her eyes and pushed herself into a sitting position, rubbing her face free of the sleep still clinging to it. When her vision cleared, she found herself sitting on a gray couch, a blue blanket wrapped around her.

 

There was a stone fireplace in front of her, crackling with burning wood, and on the rickety side table next to her was a cup of water.

 

Without thinking, she quickly grabbed the cup and drank down all of the water as fast as she could. Pulling the cup away, she wiped her mouth, and sighed in relief.

 

Once she placed the cup back down, the little girl looked around. The room was small, and not very pretty. There was dust and spider webs in corners, and the windows were covered with wood boards. Feeling a little nervous at the sight of the rickety home, Rosie softly called,”H-Hello? Is anybody there?”

 

Hearing footsteps again, Rosie quickly leapt off the couch and spun around. She was ready to scream and run from any possible danger, but she found none.

 

Standing in front of her was her strange rescuer. The mask was gone, and his clothing had changed to a dark blue, long sleeved shirt and the black pants from before. If Rose squinted, she could see a marking of some kind on his left wrist. Without his dark outfit, he wasn’t as scary as before. He was holding a bowl that was steaming, and giving her a curious glance.

 

Slowly, Rosie gave a little way. “Hello…” She said quietly.

 

The stranger nodded and then moved towards the rickety coffee table, placing the bowl down. “Eat,” He ordered.

 

Rosie realized in that moment just how hungry she was. Her stomach screamed out desperately, and she answered the call. With a quick ‘thank you!’ She grabbed the spoon and began swallowing down the soup as fast as she could.

 

As she ate, the stranger sat down near the fire and began to place more logs inside. She watched him for a bit, with every bite of the soup she gathered her strength and bravery. Once she was about halfway done, she asked,”Are you gonna hurt me?”

 

He glanced at her a little bit. “No,” He answered easily.

 

Rose stirred the soup around a little more. “Are you gonna kill me?” She questioned this time.

 

He sighed a bit. “If I wanted to kill you, you would already be dead,” He answered,”It wouldn’t take very long.”

 

Despite the fact he was basically talking about killing her, Rose found that she didn’t feel any fear. She knew he wasn’t going to hurt her, he was just telling her the truth. Rose liked it when grown ups told her the truth, sometimes her parents didn’t.

 

She felt much better about the strange man now. Looking up at him with a smile, she asked,”What’s your name, mister?”

 

“Ten,” He answered instantly, not even looking at her as he used a metal rod to poke the wood further in.

 

Rose tilted her head and quirked an eyebrow. “Your name is the number Ten?” She seriously questioned, momentarily forgetting about her food.

 

The man shook his head. “Ten is Russian,” He explained,”It means ‘Shadow’.”

 

“Oh! Cool!” The little girl responded excitedly,”My name is Rose! Like the flower! Mummy said she always wanted to name a daughter that!”

 

The mention of her parents brought on a sudden onslaught of sadness. She lowered her spoon and dropped her hands in her lap, eyes becoming misty all over again.

 

Sniffing and rubbing her eyes to try and clear his vision, she said,”My.. My mummy and daddy! I- I miss them so much! I want to go home!”

 

Ten stared at her blankly for a while, letting her cry before he asked,”Where’s home?”

 

“London! I live there with mum and dad, and we live in a nice house together,” Rose replied, remembering everything with extreme clarity. The child would do anything to be back in her soft bed, hugging her stuffed dog Annie, and being told stories by her parents.

 

This sadness turned into a desperate desire, and she quickly spun around to face the man. “Mister Ten, Please! Take me home!” She begged,”I want to see mummy and daddy, I want to be safe! Please, please take me home!”

 

She didn’t realize what she had asked him until she saw the surprised look he was giving her. He looked down, his frown deepening. He looked like he wasn’t sure what to do. Then, he pulled down his sleeve a bit and looked at the strange mark on his wrist.

 

Ten then sighed, coming to a standing and hurrying out of the room. Rosie felt a little worried. Did I hurt mister Ten’s feelings? Is he going to leave me? Her heart started to pound against her ribs again, fear gripping her entire being. No! I don’t want to be left alone!

 

Thankfully, before she could fall further into panic, he returned carrying a large backpack. He sat down on the other side of the coffee table, pulled out a rolled up piece of paper, and spread it out on the coffee table.

 

Rosie took her bowl and moved over to him, curiously looking at the map. She had only seen a few during classes, and she didn’t really know how to read well. Ten obviously knew this, though, as he reached out and pointed to the edge of a big blob on the map.

 

“This where we are. Vladivostok, Russia,” He said. It was right next to the ocean, and a small set of islands. After Ten saw her nod, he slid his hands across a huge bunch of blobs and settled on a tiny one. “This is where London is, where your home is. It’s very far away.”

 

The little girl sighed, her shoulders slumping as she looked at how far away from her home she was. How would she get there? How long would it take? Would she ever even see her mum and dad again?

 

Ten then picked up the map again and continued,”It’s a long, long journey. It will take a long time. But… I will take you.”

 

Rose gasped, nearly dropping the bowl as she jumped to her feet. “You will? Really?!” She exclaimed in shock. When Ten nodded again, she found that she couldn’t contain herself. With a loud squeal, she threw herself forward and gave Ten a tight hug.

 

The man tensed up instantly, freezing in surprise. Rose noticed right away, used to the warm, loving hugs her parents always gave her. She wondered… Did Ten not want to hug her?

 

Well, he doesn’t talk much… Maybe he’s shy! She decided, and pulled away. She shouldn’t make a shy person uncomfortable, that wouldn’t be very nice of her.

 

She smiled up at his blank face, and said,”S’okay, we don’t have to hug if you don’t wanna.”

 

Ten looked at her with a curious glance, his body still in a frozen state as he carefully replied,”Okay…”

 

Rosie nodded at him, deciding that her theory was correct and turned back to her bowl. “I’m gonna finish my food now, daddy and mummy would want me to eat so I can come back and be big and strong!” She declared, grabbing her spoon, and quickly diving back into her meal.

 

As she ate, Ten found that his own mind was wandering. Part of him wondered if he was ridiculous, taking a random child all the way back to London, England. He had never even been outside of Eastern Europe, and yet he was doing all of this. Why?

 

That was a foolish question, Ten knew the truth. This child was alone, just like him. What he wouldn’t have done to have someone be there for him after the hell he went through… And she was so… So familiar. Anytime he looked at her, he saw a jumble of things that he felt like he should be able to recognize and understand, but he didn’t.

 

He had never felt so desperate to understand something… But then again, nothing in his life had ever brought up a feeling of familiarity for him. Perhaps, if he took Rose back to England, he would succeed in helping her get back to her family.

 

And, if he was very very lucky, he’d find out something about himself.

 

He started at the fire as he let out a huge sigh. This is such a long… I don’t even know if I’ll succeed in discovering anything. But when he looked back at Rose, the feeling of familiarity came back, along with his determination. However, if I stay here in Russia, I’ll never find out for sure.

 

Ten knew it was the only way. He had to take the leap of faith.

 

— — — — — — —

 

The masked man could only stare at the inside of the warehouse with shock. Out of all the things he had expected to walk in and see, this wasn’t one of them.

 

The bodies, the empty cages, the blood, the many signs of struggle. What happened here? He wondered… And then gasped. The kid! Where’s the kid?! Where is she!?

 

He ran towards the closed off room, the area where the leader had told him- No, promised -the little girl would be held. But, just like every other place, it was empty.

 

The man growled in anger and stormed out, hurrying up to where the boss’s office would be located. He turned on the computer, hurriedly clicking on the security footage. It only took a couple minutes for him to find the right scene.

 

He watched with boiling anger as that strange man came in, killing all the guards, the boss, and then leaving with the girl.

 

“No! No! No!” He yelled,”My plan! You’re ruining my plan you bastard! Who are you!?”

 

He clicked through the footage, but the man’s face was almost always obscured. All he could see were those blue eyes, and the image of him leaving with Rose.

 

The man didn’t care about the others who escaped, they barely existed in his mind. All he cared about was getting the little brat.

 

He pointed at the other masked man with a shaky finger. “You think you’ve won, huh?! You think that you’re some kind of hero?!” He demanded, and then smirked. “Well just you wait, I’ll make sure you understand just who I am and what I’m capable of.”


He grabbed his weapons and stormed out of the office, past the bodies, and back into the snow as he declared,”I won’t give up. Run while you can, mouse. Because soon you’ll be nothing but a stain in the snow, and she’ll be mine.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Rosie found herself being woken up bright and early by her strange rescuer. He was already dressed in a new set of clothes and had breakfast waiting for her. Rose wondered if he even slept at all. 

 

He handed her a granola bar with a bottle of water and said,”Eat. We’ll be leaving soon.” 

 

Rose quickly began to gobble down her food. The map had shown her how far away her mummy and daddy were, so she needed to stay big and strong so she could get there. 

 

As she ate, she watched as Ten sat nearby digging around in that backpack he had. After he did this for a full minute, Rose suddenly realized something. 

 

Setting her the wrapper down, she walked over to him and asked,”Why aren’t you eating breakfast, mister Ten?” 

 

He frowned, looking at her with an emotion she couldn’t quite recognize, and then quickly looked away as he said,”I’m not hungry, Rose.” 

 

“Nu-Uh,” Rose firmly replied,”My daddy says that brek’fast is the most important meal of the day! You need to eat some breakfast too so that you can be big and strong!” 

 

Ten looked at her again and Rosie tried to make herself look tough. She crossed her arms, tapped her foot, and made her frown match Ten’s own. After all, Ten was the toughest person she knew besides her daddy, so acting like him was the best way to be tough. “You gotta eat,” She declared,”Gotta stay healthy.” 

 

The man stared at her for a few more seconds and then sighed, digging into his backpack again, and pulling out the same food that he had given Rose.

 

After Rose saw him start to eat, she perked up quite quickly and then hurried back to her own food. Now me and Ten will have lots of energy, and we’ll get back home super fast! She thought eagerly. 

 

Once they both finished, Ten got to his feet and stalked back over to her. “Let’s go,” He said,”We have a long way to go and we still have a stop to make.” 

 

Rose nodded, hopping to her feet and running after the man. She grabbed his hand and leaned against it, following him out of the house and into the big, scary world. 

 

Don’t worry, mummy and daddy. I’m coming home! 

 

— — — — — — 

 

“What do you mean you haven’t found her yet!?” 

 

Mycroft cringed at the angry voice of John Watson, forcing himself to keep eye contact with the man. 

 

He was standing there with his eyes burning in rage, breathing hard and fists clenched. Mary was next to him, her hand on his shoulder. 

 

For weeks they had been trying to find Rose after she had gone missing, but she was nowhere to be found. Mycroft had searched in every place he could think of and in every place his sphere of influence could reach, but it was as if the four year old had vanished off the face of the earth. 

 

“John, I’m trying my hardest,” He tried to placate. “I’ve been having nearly all my agents looking, but it’s difficult when I have the Ukrainian elections coming up as well-“ 

 

“Fuck your elections, Mycroft!” John yelled back,”This is about my daughter, my child! You’ve been there since her birth! Doesn’t she matter at all to you? Or is she just another piece in your chess game?” 

 

Anthea, who had been listening in while texting on her phone, suddenly froze up and looked up at them, surprised at the animosity that was being shown. 

 

Mycroft managed to keep his face neutral as he answered,”Of course I care about her, John, just as I care about all of you. But you have to understand, she’s just one child and we have no idea who could have targeted her. There’s been no ransom, no threats, we have no leads.” 

 

John growled and spun around and out of Mary’s hold, pacing around the room several times and running a hand through his frazzled hair. 

 

“So… So you want us to just sit here and wait? Are you serious?” He snarled. 

 

“I can keep looking, John, but there is nothing else that we can do,” Mycroft quietly responded, a painful feeling pooling up in his chest. 

 

The doctor rolled his eyes, narrowing them towards the British Government. “I don’t even know why I’m trusting you with this,” He sneered,”You couldn’t even save your own brother.” 

 

With that final garb, John grabbed Mary’s hand and they stormed out of the room together. The door slammed, echoing throughout the quiet room. 

 

Anthea stared at the door in shock and listened to the stomping of the couple’s feet as they left the building. Once she could no longer hear it, she quietly asked,”Sir? Are you alright?” 

 

Mycroft didn’t answer her, he merely stared at the wood on his desk for a full minute before looking up. “Anthea,” He began,”Send out more of our agents to gather footage and information around the graveyard and roads along it.” 

 

The young woman frowned, not liking how her question was being avoided. She began writing on her phone again, following her orders but again asked,”Sir, are you alright?” 

 

“I’m fine, Anthea,” He firmly replied,”Get those agents out there right now. We can’t waste any time.” 

 

She sighed, turning to look over at him. “Sir, we’re stretched thin as it is. There are plenty of people lookings. Shouldn’t we wait for them to come back with results before we-“ 

 

“No, send them out,” Mycroft snapped, picking up one paper out of the stacks on his desk and writing with a violent fervor. 

 

Anthea watched her boss work with pity in her heart, knowing she couldn’t heal the pain that Sherlock’s death had brought, and quietly answered,”Of course, Sir… It will be done…” 

 

She spun on her heel and sauntered out of the room, knowing her task would require more than her phone. As she went to close the door, however, she heard the quiet voice of her boss, speaking words that made her heart twist in pain. 

 

“I won’t fail again…” 

 

— — — — — — 

 

Ten searched through the clothing on the hangers until he found a nice, warm coat. He took it off the hanger, tossing it to the child. “Try this on,” He ordered. 

 

Rose clumsily caught it, placing down her new small backpack and sliding the jacket on. She smiled as the warmth hit her, it felt much better than wearing her dress. 

 

“It’s nice and fuzzy and warm!” She cheerfully exclaimed, spinning around to prove it. “Can we get it?” 

 

“That’s the plan,” Ten responded,”It’s too cold for you to walk around in your dress.”

 

Ross looked down at her dirty dress, feeling relieved that she wouldn’t have to wear it anymore. All it brought her was bad memories of being in that place.  

 

Shaking her head to rid herself of those dark thoughts, she asked,”Does that mean we’re getting other stuff too?” 

 

“Yes, and then we’ll leave,” Ten said,”We have a long way to go.” 

 

About a half hour later, Rose and Ten walked out of the store and into the snow-covered town. The little girl was now wearing a purple long sleeved shirt and black pants that were obscured by her new puffy jacket and pretty purple scarf gloves. “Thank you for the stuff, Mister Ten!” She said happily. 

 

Ten nodded in response, holding her hand in his own glove covered one and looking around the city. Rose tried to follow his gaze, but she wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing. 

 

“Where are we going?” She asked curiously,”Are we goin’ on an Airplane?” 

 

The man shook his head. “Not possible,” He answered. “Neither of us have proper identification.” 

 

Rose frowned, quirking an eyebrow. “What does that mean?” She questioned. 

 

“It means that we won’t be allowed on an airplane,” He said,”You don’t have a passport and I don’t have an identity.” 

 

“Oh… Okay,” Rose said with a smile, still happy that Ten talked to her like she was a grown up. Even if she didn’t understand sometimes, he never treated her like she was too young to hear things. 

 

She looked up at his roaming blue eyes as she curiously continued,”So if we can’t go on a plane, what are we gonna do?” 

 

“We-“ Ten began, and then stopped. He kept walking, but his gaze had frozen in one direction. 

 

The little girl felt his hand squeeze hers, his muscles all seeming to tense up at once. His suddenly alert behavior sent her fear shooting through the roof. “M-mister Ten?” She asked worriedly,”What’s wrong?” 

 

Ten didn’t respond. Instead, he pulled her closer and sped up, hurrying further into the crowd. Rose whimpered in fear, clutching his hand tightly. 

 

“What’s happening?” She asked again as he sped up, barley avoiding bumping into several looking disgruntled people. 

 

“We’re being followed,” Ten replied,”Someone is trying to catch us.” 

 

The little girl gasped, her whole body starting to shake in terror. Is it the bad people? Are they here to take me away?! I don’t wanna go back! I wanna go home! 

 

Ten suddenly veered out of the crowd and through an alleyway. They sped through the tiny space between the buildings. Rose looked behind them and let out a panicked cry as she saw three figures coming closer. 

 

“Ten!” She cried,”They’re- They’re-“ 

 

She couldn’t finish her sentence before Ten grabbed her, hiding her behind his back. He turned and faced the figures. 

 

The three stopped, pointing guns at then. Rose heard more noises and looked behind them, seeing three more people with the same guns pointing towards her. 

 

One of the strange men chuckled. “Well, well, it took us long enough to find you. You hide very well,” He said,”I’m impressed. We’ll put those skills to use when we have you back.” 

 

Rose froze, her eyes widening. They don’t want me… They want Ten! Why are they chasing Ten? She wondered. 

 

Ten wasn’t phased, he wasn’t even raising his hands as he replied,”I’m not going back with you.” 

 

The man chuckled. “You don’t have a choice, you never did,” He sneered,”Come quietly and we’ll go easy on you. Maybe we’ll even let the kid live.” 

 

Ten seemed to deflate at that. He looked back at Rosie, then back at them. Finally, with a sigh, he raised his hands and began to step towards the men. 

 

“Yes, that’s it,” The man said, a smile climbing up onto his face. “Nice and easy, just like that.” 

 

Rose stood petrified, tears streaming down her cheeks as she saw Ten reach the scary men. But then, just as they went to grab him, he grabbed the middle one by his neck and threw him face first into the nearby wall with inhuman strength. 

 

He then spun around and slammed his fists into the other two, ripping their guns from their hands. 

 

The little girl squealed in surprise and then dashed to the nearby garbage can, hiding herself behind it just as the sound of gunshots began ringing through the air. 

 

She shut her eyes tight as the loud sounds made her ears ring, all she could do was sob and curl up even smaller in a desperate attempt to protect herself. 

 

After when felt like an eternity, the alleyway became strangely silent. She opened her eyes just in time for the garbage can she was hiding to be yanked away. She screamed in terror for a quick second, stopping only when she noticed it was Ten. 

 

He was bleeding, there were red stains on his clothing, and panting hard but it was still him. She let out a relieved cry and jumped forward, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying his face in her shoulder. 

 

Ten held her close and then got up, running out of the alleyway as fast as he could. He heard yelling voices and sped up, escaping the town through the very alleys they had just been attacked in and into the heavy snow. 

 

Rose looked forward as she heard a very loud sound and felt a rumbling go through her whole body. She saw lights through the snow and pointed. “Ten! A train!” She yelled as loud as she could. 

 

Ten’s blue eyes followed her hand, and then an idea seemed to pop into his head. “Hang on tight,” He ordered. 

 

Rosie nodded and tightened her grip, wondering just what Ten was planning to do. As the train got closer and closer, her heart started to panic as she realized what he was doing. 

 

With the train frighteningly close, Ten leapt forward and across the tracks. Rosie, so shocked she couldn’t even scream, felt as if everything was moving in slow motion. 

 

She saw the snow that didn’t even seem to be moving, the scary men trying to catch up but unable to as the train blocked them, and heard the sound of a train horn right as everything seemed to speed up again. 

 

Then, Ten twisted around and landed on his back with a grunt. Before Rose could even register the death defying stunt they had just pulled, Ten was up again. He turned towards the still passing train, leaping forward and landing inside an open cargo containers. 

 

They rolled a couple times, hitting the back of the container and letting go of each other. Rose remained lying on her back while panting hard, while Ten forced himself back onto his feel while he tried to catch his breath as well. 

 

“Are… You okay?” Ten asked after a few seconds, turning his head towards the little girl. 

 

Rose shuddered a bit and looked over at him, noticing the red stain was even bigger. “You’re bleeding!” She cried,”You’re hurt!” 

 

Ten waved her off with one bloodied hand. “I’ll be fine in a few minutes, don’t worry,” He whispered, pushing himself into a sitting position. 

 

“I’m impressed.” 

 

The strange new voice sent both of them into a panic. Rosie cried out and scrambled behind Ten, while Ten pulled out a gun faster than she could even see and pointed it towards the corner that the voice had come from. 

 

In the corner of the cargo container, there was a man with a small lantern, a small suitcase, and a small back case. He gasped at the sight of the gun and quickly raised his hand. “No!” He exclaimed,”Peace! I’m friendly!” 

 

Ten stared at him with narrowed blue eyes, and then slowly lowered his gun. Rose still held on tight to Ten’s clothes, but peeked out at the man. 

 

He didn’t look very scary to Rose. He had short black hair and tan skin, and was bundled up even more than she was. His eyes were a soft brown, and seemed warm despite his panic at the sight of Ten’s weapon. 

 

The man sighed in relief when the gun was lowered and smiled. “Thank you,” He said, and then perked up even more. “That was cool! And dangerous! You know, most people wait for train to stop before hopping on.” 

 

Ten tilted his head a bit, surprised by the man’s excitement over the stunt he pulled. “I suppose I’m not most people,” He replied. 

 

Rose felt relief at the fact the tension had stopped, and poked her head out a little further. “Who are you?” She asked. 

 

“Ah, no. Names aren’t important,” The man said,”I’m trying to escape my old life, my old name is not who I am anymore.” 

 

Ten looked him up and down, then calmly said,”You’re from China?” 

 

The man looked surprised. “Whoa, you are good,” He replied,”Yes I am, but I’m running from there now. Trying to find a better life. What about you?” 

 

“We’re going to England, my home!” Rose happily said,”But some bad guys were chasing us, so we jumped on this train.” 

 

The man hummed, rubbing his chin. “That is very far,” He said,”And this train only goes to Ukraine’s border. You’ll have to move after that, at least that’s what I was told at the last stop.” 

 

Ten nodded. “I see…” He said, leaning back. “Well, thank you for the information. We’ll find another way from there.” 

 

They fell into a relaxing silence afterwards, all of them either too tired or too nervous to speak. Rose looked out the door, watching as they passed by the snowy landscape. 

 

Ten eventually pushed himself back into a sitting position, lifting up his shirt. To Rosie’s surprised the wounds were gone, and all that was left was smooth skin and the blood was all that remained behind. 

 

“Whoa!” Rose exclaimed at the sight, crawling over to him. “What happened to your hurts?” 

 

He looked at her and gently asked “Do you remember the bad people who chased us?” When Rose nodded, he continued,”They did many things to me, one of those was making me much stronger for their benefit. If I get hurt, I can heal very quickly.” 

 

“Is that why you can’t remember stuff?” The child asked softly. 

 

“Yes,” He replied quietly, his blue eyes clouded with emotions and a frown on his face. 

 

Rose felt a frown climb on her face as well. “But why?” She asked,”Why did they want to do all those mean things to you?” 

 

“Little one,” The Chinese man interrupted, gaining their attention. “In this world, there are good people and bad people. These bad people don't care about the feelings of others. They used your friend to do their evil deeds, even though he didn’t want that, because they only care about themselves.” 

 

The duo listened to him both with similar reactions. Rose lowered her blue eyes to the ground and sighed sadly. “I don’t like bad people,” She whispered,”I don’t want them to hurt me or Ten anymore.” 

 

“And they won’t,” Ten firmly declared,”I’ll protect you, just like I promised.” 

 

She looked over at him with wide eyes. “Forever an’ ever?” She asked. 

 

Ten nodded, giving Rose the courage she needed to reach out and grab his hand, a small smile climbing up her face. Ten looked over at her with a small one of his own. 

 

The Chinese man smiled at the sight, reaching over and opening the black case. “Yes, let us lighten the mood, I know just the thing!” He cheerfully said,”Music!” 

 

Rose raised herself up a little bit to peek inside the case, and grinned at the sight. “A violin!” She exclaimed. 

 

“Oh, you know this instrument?” The man asked curiously. 

 

She nodded eagerly. “Uh-huh! My mummy and daddy’s favoritest music in the world is violin music!” She said happily. 

 

“How wonderful!” The man said,”Then it is an even bigger reason to play!” 

 

He brought the violin against his chin, bringing the bow down onto it and beginning to play. There were a few beautiful sounds, and then all of a sudden the three occupants of the cargo car cringed at the screeching sound the violin let out. 

 

The man looked embarrassed. “Oh, I’m sorry,” He stuttered out,”I’m still new to all of this. I was hoping to make money off music but I’m afraid I’m not the best at it.” 

 

Rose shook off the bad sounds quickly and gave a happy grin. “Well, my daddy always says that prac’tis makes perfect!” 

 

“That is good advice, you have a very smart father!” The man complimented, making Rose grin even wider than before. 

 

The man’s attention then turned back over to Ten, who found that he couldn’t tear his attention away from the instrument no matter how hard he tried. He didn’t know why, there was just something about the violin that was drawing him to it. 

 

Their new friend seemed to recognize this too, as he held out the instrument and asked,”Would you like to play?” 

 

Ten froze up in surprise, quickly shaking his head. “No, I don’t know how,” He forced out even faster. 

 

“You look at the violin like it’s an old friend, at least give it a try,” The man persisted, holding the instrument out even further. 

 

The young man sighed, reaching out and taking the instrument from him. He held it in his lap, pulling his gloves off and then hesitantly touching the wood. 

 

A warm, comforting feeling overflowed him, the man was correct. When Ten held the violin in his hands, it just felt right, as if it was something he had been missing his whole life.

 

Instinct seemed to overtake Ten at that point. He closed his eyes, placing the violin in the correct place and then began to play. 

 

The music came to him in a happy reunion, the notes he had to play easily coming back to him despite Ten being so sure that he had never seen music notes before. 

 

It echoed throughout the cargo car, bouncing back into his ears and making him want to continue playing even more. He forgot about the people who were chasing him and the precarious situation he was in. Everything just felt right. 

 

“How do you feel about the violin?” 

 

That was a voice, his voice. It surprised him so much that he almost stopped playing. When did he say that? He didn’t recall saying something like that at all… 

 

Slowly, as the strange words started to overwhelm him, he let the song he was playing slow as well. He lowered the instrument and opened his eyes, finding the man and Rose staring at him with awed faces. 

 

“That… Was… Amazing!!” Rose exclaimed, clapping her hands together. “Mister Ten! That was the bestest song I’ve ever heard! I didn’t know you could play!” 

 

Ten lowered his head a bit, his cheeks feeling strangely warm. “Neither did I…” He quietly responded, and then held the violin back out to the man. 

 

His brown eyes examined Ten before he reached out, and then pushed the violin back towards the young man. “Keep it,” He ordered,”I have a feeling it’ll get a lot more use with you than with me.” 

 

Ten frowned, looking at the inryudment and then back at him. “Are you sure?” He questioned. 

 

“How are you gonna make money then?” Rose asked curiously. 

 

The man placed his hands on his knees and shrugged. “I’m not sure,” He said,”I haven’t had this much freedom before. Maybe I’ll take up baking, or become an actor! It’s a world of possibilities for me!” 

 

Ten looked down at the violin, hugging it closer to his chest as he quietly said,”I’m sure that whatever you do, you’ll do it well.” 

 

“Thank you,” The man replied, a gentle smile climbing up his face. “It… It really means a lot to hear that from someone.” 

 

Ten understood the implication, it was likely the first time the man had even heard such kind words. Ten knew what that felt like all too well. So, he merely nodded in response to his soft words, and left it at that. 

 

After a few seconds of silence, Rose scooted over so she was sitting in front of him, and gave a hopeful look. “Can you…. Can you play some more?” She asked,”Pretty pretty please?”

 

Seeing her puppy dog eyes, and the eager look their new friend also gave, Ten couldn’t help but nod. “I don’t mind at all,” He answered. 

 

Bringing the violin back into position, his music began to overflow the cargo container once more, letting them all temporarily forget about the long journey they all had ahead of them.