Round Robin

Part 23

by Maureen S. O'Brien (mobrien at dnaco.net)
1/1/02

I love Angel's latest part. So now I have to write the next bit, because I can't stand to wait!

Suddenly, as if from a completely different world, the window shattered. Standing, grinning in the shards of glass, was the Dragon Lady.

Noone moved. The weapon in her hand saw to that. But a quick glance assured Holmes that both Fenwick and Moriarty were ready to move given the slightest chance. He could depend on Watson, who had not only his wrist-ioniser but a myriad of other concealed tools. Sitting on the couch, Lestrade was at perhaps the greatest disadvantage, but anger and adrenalin had swept away all trace of dry-eyed weeping. Hopefully his Irregulars would have the sense to stay out of the fighting, but life on the street had left them well able to take care of themselves. Plans flashed through his mind.

Holmes looked at the ruins of the bay window. He had seen it so just once before, after a sniper with an air rifle had shot through it. That pane of glass had survived two world wars and more than 250 years of wind and rain. He allowed himself to feel annoyance over the waste and flamboyance of the Dragon Lady's entrance. Anything else, and he might....

But one did not strike a woman, particularly when she has a laser trained on one. Instead he politely said, "Good evening. Please close the curtains behind you; I feel a draft."

The Dragon Lady nodded, amused, but of course did not comply. "Good evening. The building is surrounded," she informed them, "snipers are covering you, and I have my little burner in hand, as you see. What a pity if any of the children should get hurt." She pointed her laser at the Irregulars, who stood in a knot by the fireplace. Holmes could see that they made a very good target.

Deidre stared back defiantly. "We're not children." Tennyson beeped at her urgently to shut up, but she ignored him. "And maybe you can use us to threaten Mr. Holmes, but I doubt the Professor cares. And anyway, you don't have the...."

Wiggins put his hand over her mouth.

"Very wise," said the Dragon Lady. her hand relaxing slightly. "Your friend very nearly talked herself into becoming a demonstration of my seriousness." She walked forward a step, glass chinking under her feet. "It's Beth I want. Give her to me, and noone gets hurt."

Holmes' lips quirked. "Do you really think it will be that simple?"

"Oh, I think not," Moriarty said. "Noone destroys my house or tries to steal my...."

"Oh, give it up, you two!" Lestrade interrupted loudly. "If it's me she wants, it's me she has to negotiate with." She turned to the Dragon Lady. "I don't think you can burn us all before we can toss you out that window. Moriarty's got people out there, too. And the longer this little standoff lasts, the more likely it is that things go sour. You're in a real spot, Dragon Lady."

"Then what do you suggest?"

"Let's handle this the same way we should've done, back in the day. No holds barred, no rules except no outside interference. Just you and me."

The Dragon Lady considered for a moment, then nodded her assent.

The Dragon Lady consulted with her men. A truce was reached, the furniture cleared out of the way, and the rugs taken up. The observers were to watch from the other room or on the landing. All was ready, and all too quickly.

"She shouldn't be doing this," Watson told Holmes, sotto voce. "We don't even know whether the drug's entirely worn off, and her emotional condition...."

"I know, old friend." He turned toward Lestrade, who was taking a moment to stretch. "It was the right solution, but was it for the right reasons? Well, I will put in a word." He walked over to Lestrade and spoke so only she could hear. "Are you ready?"

"I better be," she said, just as softly. "If I'm not, my will and papers are in the lockbox in my desk."

He should have chuckled, he knew, but he could not. "I trust I will never need to touch them. After all, you know perfectly well that you are guilty of nothing but playing a prank by altering the navigational parameters on Mr. Wenceslaus Zwicki's boat. It was not your fault if he was fool enough to go boating with his wife in the teeth of a storm, and she was as deep in the scheme as he."

Her jaw squared. "What, you think I'm in this to get myself killed? Not likely. Although I should point out that in law, a perp's responsible for the consequences of any vandalism."

"In law, a child of your age then would scarcely have been held responsible for her actions, although I suspect you would have been given counseling and forbidden to reread The Count of Monte Cristo." He did smile, then, and she smiled back, almost against her will. "So hurry up and get this done; I should like my sitting room back."

On to Part 24!

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