by Maureen S. O'Brien

It would have been easier if she were less beautiful.

Holmes rolled over onto his back and petulantly contemplated his ceiling. Lazarus had it easy, he decided. All he had to do was continue his life where he had left off while dealing with the cosmic consequences. I have to put up with more than a hundred years of progress, a robot who thinks he's Watson, and a...supervising officer -- his lips twisted in the dark -- who is a woman.

The same one who brought me back to life without asking anyone's by-your-leave or considering the consequences, as long as it gave her a chance to catch this clone of Moriarty. He grimaced at the darkness. He couldn't fault her determination and her faith in him was flattering, but the scope of both was a bit frightening.

She was frightening.

He had often suspected that a woman could make a good detective. Mary Watson -- Mary Morstan that was -- had her useful moments before her marriage, and Miss Violet Hunter had been daring enough. There were investigative reporters like Nellie Bly, police matrons, and the odd female Pinkerton or spy. And he had seen suffragettes win themselves the vote and the 'new women' win a new place in society.

But there was a difference between idle speculation and Elizabeth Lestrade, daughter of an age which never even suggested that women could not be members of her profession. Crack shot. Martial artist. Reckless, impatient, but brilliant. She'd made Inspector early, and she deserved it, from what he could see. But she was also stubborn, tetchy and argumentative.

And a woman, a beautiful one. Unfortunately.

Yes, Lazarus had had it easy. He returned to life in his own body, familiar of use. I'd earned the body of an old man, and now suddenly it's young again -- twenty-five years old, Hargreaves said.

Twenty-five. When I was twenty-five, I was still trying to set up my practice and spending my free time in the British Museum's Reading Room or doing chemical experiments. There were certainly no distractions like Lestrade back when I was still living in Montague-street.

He sighed and scrubbed his hands through his soon-to-recede hair. He had never been used to having more than one friend at a time. For most of his life, John Watson was his only friend; he hadn't felt the need of another. This new Watson was still a good sounding board and sympathetic ear, but the fellow wouldn't argue with him -- not much, anyway. He'd have to work on that.

Fortunately, Lestrade was more than able to fill the gap, and her reactions were always amusing. But she was lovely when she was telling him that he was insane and lovelier when she was telling Chief Inspector Grayson that he wasn't, and it made learning to work with her extremely difficult. There was no room to complain, since she never played the coquette in any way. She was simply Lestrade, simply interested in catching criminals -- and that didn't make things simpler for him at all.

It was disconcerting. In his experience, women were subtle creatures. Foolish or wise, they were always planning some way to control men or influence their actions. Irene Adler had proved to him that women could be as bold and intelligent as men, but she had been subtle too.

Subtle, Lestrade was not. She hunted wrongdoers, not a husband. But somehow that made it harder for him to properly ignore her femaleness and set about the job. She was simply too present to put aside.

He sighed. It was foolish for a logician to pretend that things were not what they were. Lestrade was an attractive young female detective. Never mind that she combined in one package so many things he had made his life and so many that he had driven out of it. She was a detective; he was a consulting detective. That was what mattered.

Besides, life grows boring when it becomes too easy.

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