Sherlock BBC Prompting Meme

"we get all sorts around here."


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Prompting: Part XVI
Giggles at the Palace
sherlockbbc_fic
Please check the Sticky Post to find the newest active part and post your prompts there.

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Please consider warning for triggery prompts (and also for fills, because some people read in flat view) and phrasing prompts in a manner that strives to be respectful.

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  • 1

Father Trap - Prologue

Father's day seemed as appropriate a day as any to start this off. Hope you enjoy.

“You can’t ask me to choose between my daughters,” John said, one girl in each arm, bouncing slightly to keep them from fussing.

“Your lawyer led me to believe that you had agreed to this arrangement.” Mycroft was stood by the window, leaning casually on his umbrella, looking perfectly calm as if he wasn’t about to steal a five month old little girl from her father.

Except he was taking her to her other father – John would never be so cruel as to suggest that Sherlock wasn’t their daughters’ father as well. True, he had taken them with him when he packed up and left for Scotland, but he had acknowledged Sherlock’s right to custody and never suggested the paternity test that would no doubt confirm what they all suspected – that it had been his sperm to win out when their selected surrogate had been implanted. It was the blond hair that gave them away.

Somewhere amid the arguments someone had suggested that since there were two girls and two fathers refusing to speak to each other then wouldn’t it be easier if the girls were split up. No wrangling over holidays, no long journeys to hand them over, just one child each. John had agreed on the condition he never had to see or hear from Sherlock again. As part of that agreement it was Mycroft who had arrived to pick up one of the girls.

“I can’t pick, Mycroft,” he said. “I just can’t.”

“Perhaps if we tossed a coin,” Mycroft said.

“That seems a little cruel,” John said. “Deciding the whole of their futures based on luck.”

Mycroft sighed. “If you won’t decide then how else should it be done?”

“Did Sherlock express a preference?” Oh god, when did they start to talk about human lives as if they were colours to paint the wall?

Mycroft’s raised eyebrow was his only answer.

“Which one do you think he’d love more?” he persisted.

“I believe it would not be possible for him to love either more than anyone conceivably could.” It was said in a perfectly level tone but John could pick up on the fervour behind it.

“I know,” he said. “He certainly loved them more than he did me.”

Mycroft’s façade broke and for half a second the other man looked mildly alarmed. John quickly added,

“I don’t mean it like that, like I’m jealous or anything. Just I know he loves them and he doesn’t love me anymore.”

After all, if Sherlock did love him then why hadn’t he stopped him getting on that plane to Glasgow?

John looked between his daughters. He couldn’t, he just couldn’t decide. It was hard enough having to lose one but actually give one away? Impossible. No one could ask that of him.

He looked back up at Mycroft who actually managed to look mildly sympathetic. The other man walked over to the sofa where two mussies were slung over the back. As John watched Mycroft’s hand hovered over the both of them then settled on the one closest to the door. The other man picked it up then looked at him expectantly.

“That’s Annie’s,” John said, suddenly finding it hard to breathe.

Mycroft held out his arms, immediately angling himself to reach for the right twin. John twisted so the other girl was closest instead.

“Can you put Hallie back in her crib, please? I just need a minute.”

Mycroft obediently plucked the other little girl out of his arms and carried her out of the room. John adjusted Annie’s position in his arms so he could look her in the face, one finger brushing away a blond curl.

“Hey,” he said, lowering his voice into the ‘talking to babies’ tone he had found himself adopting ever since the doctors had placed the girls into his arms five months before. He still remembered how proud he had felt. How he had almost run out of the birthing room to where Sherlock had been waiting to show him their new daughters.

Father Trap - Prologue (b)

“Now, I don’t want you to ever think that I don’t love you as much as I love your sister. I will always love you, every single day of your life and I will miss you so very much. But, you see, your daddy needs someone to love as well and god knows I’m not good enough. But you’re perfect and he will treasure you for always and if he doesn’t make every single second of your life the most special it could possibly be then I will come down there myself and shoot him. I can you know. One word and I will and I am a very good shot so you don’t need to worry about that.” He held her close and pressed a kiss into her hair. “Oh god, I wish I could keep you. I wish it could be you and me and your sister and I even wish Sherlock could be here with us. But it’s not going to happen. I am so sorry we couldn’t make this work for you, but your daddy and I are going to spend the next eighteen years making it up to you, even if we have to do it separately.”

She made a little cry of discomfort at that as if picking up on his distress so he shushed and rocked her, holding her tight until Mycroft reappeared.

“I took the liberty of packing her things,” Mycroft said, gently.

“How did you-“

“Once I saw the state of the two muslins it was easy enough to deduce which items you have assigned purely to her and which items deviate between the two of them.”

Mycroft didn’t actually reach for Annie but there was a general shift in his demeanour that pointedly suggested now was the time to hand her over.

It took John a moment to move, to force his limbs to do something his whole being screamed was wrong, wrong, wrong. Eventually he tore his own little girl from his chest and held her out for her uncle. Mycroft scooped her up with a practiced hold and immediately turned for the door. John followed contritely behind.

“You have a car seat?” he asked.

“And plenty of bottled milk for the journey,” Mycroft said in a reassuring tone which utterly failed to reassure him. “My car has a microwave to heat it up in. She’ll be well taken care of.”

“I know,” he said. “I know that. I just-“ he hung his head. “I know alright.”

Once outside Mycroft paused at the open door of the car. The other man turned back towards John who took the silent invitation for what it was and stepped forward to brush a hand through Annie’s hair and press one last kiss to the top of her head. Mycroft then turned around and, bending over, fastened the little girl into the car seat himself. When he had finished he turned back to John.

“Mycroft, can I ask a favour?”

“Of course,” Mycroft replied crisply.

“From this point on I want you to leave us alone. No spying, no visits, no phone calls. As far as I’m concerned Sherlock’s ban now applies to you as well. I don’t want to see you again.”

Mycroft’s only obvious reaction was to raise a single eyebrow. “I thought, perhaps, you might appreciate occasional updates.”

John shook his head firmly. “Don’t make this harder than it already is.”

Mycroft tipped his head in acquiescence. “In which case, if you will allow me, I have a parting gift for Hallie.”

The other man pulled something from a pocket and offered it to him. It was a dark blue jewellery box. He took it and opened it.

“A locket?”

A beautiful gold locket on a thin chain with an H engraved on the front.

“There’s one for Annie as well, engraved with an A of course. I had hoped they would be a gift for a birthday or some other suitable occasion but needs must. I have, of course, no objection if you do not wish to inform her as to who it originated from.”

He snapped the lid shut. “I’ll give it to her.” Then, as much as it pained him to say it, added, “Thanks, Mycroft.”

He was genuinely grateful when Mycroft didn’t react to that and, without another word, got in the car. He watched as the car pulled away, out of the driveway, then out of sight. Then he turned and went back into the house, shutting the door firmly behind him.

Father Trap - Prologue (c)

He went straight into the nursery where Hallie was lying in the now too big crib, containing only half the number of toys it should, tugging at one of the birds on the mobile with a look of utter determination that had always reminded him of Sherlock on a case. Prising her fingers from it he picked her up out of the crib, grabbing a soft rabbit to distract her with. He sat on the floor with her in his lap, holding her tight and hoping that the occasional wiggle of the rabbit would divert her from how wet her hair was getting from his tears.


Right so I've stolen the names from the 1998 film but I'm going to be picking and choosing and occasionally making stuff up as I go along.
Hope to update every other day so next part should be Tuesday
Also if anyone can think of a better title please tell me

~~~

Eleven Years Later

~~~

“But why?” Hallie ended with a whine adding four extra syllables to the second word.

“Because it will be fun,” John said, slapping margarine onto bread (white, never brown, thick sliced) and spreading it (as thinly as possible, Hallie didn’t like too much but there had to be some, it tasted ‘weird’ if there wasn’t any at all). “Because you will get to go swimming, horse riding, caving and rock climbing. You will make loads of new friends and at the end of the summer you won’t want to come home.”

“I don’t see why I can’t just stay here.”

“Two weeks ago you were sulking about Emily going to France and ‘abandoning you to the dreariness of existence’,” John said, delicately lying slices of chicken, tomato and lettuce on top of the bread (the chicken and the lettuce sandwiching the tomato so the bread didn’t get too soggy and ‘yeugh’).

“Yeah, but why do I have to go to England?” Hallie said, wrinkling her nose.

“You know it might do you some good to go to England,” John said, placing the second slice of bread on top of the pile and carefully cutting it (into halves, not triangles or, god forbid, quarters). “England’s got a lot more going for it then you seem to think. I was born there, you were born there, your birth mother was born there-“

“Was my other dad born there?”

John froze, halfway through wrapping tin foil around the sandwiches. “Yes,” he said eventually. “He was.”

“Maybe,” she said in what was probably supposed to be a sly way, “if I’m in England I’ll meet him.”

“I doubt it,” he said, resuming wrapping. “Not in Yorkshire at any rate.”

“Then what’s the point of going to Yorkshire?” Hallie shifted forward in her seat, grinning widely. “Can’t we go to London? I’d love to go to London, that’s where you used to live, wasn’t it?”

“We’re not going to London,” he said, placing the sandwiches into a clear Tupperware box along with an apple, a chocolate biscuit bar (the orange flavour, never the mint) and a packet of crisps (salt and vinegar, her favourite).

He hadn’t set foot in London for the past eleven years. He had barely set foot in England in that time, not even to visit his sister. He wasn’t about to throw himself into a place that was so very much Sherlock’s territory after all this time and he certainly wasn’t taking his daughter there.

“There aren’t any summer camps in London, anyway.”

“Have you checked?”

“No, and I’m not going to.” He closed the lid on the box and handed it to her. “You’re going to Ledleton on Saturday and you’re going to stay the full four weeks and you’re going to have fun and that’s final.”

Re: Father Trap - 1b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 1b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 1b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Message Sent

Ok im here now u can stop worrying


Message Received

Good good. Don’t forget to text me now and then and remember to charge your mobile before the trip home. Have fun!


Hallie rolled her eyes before tucking her mobile back into her pocket and climbing out of her seat. As she got off the minibus that had picked up her and a bunch of other girls from the railway station she looked around to take in the entirety of the Ledleton Adventure Holiday Camp for Girls.

It was an old farm, with the farmhouse, barns and outbuildings all converted into either dorms or activity rooms. There were acres of grounds, a small lake – or possibly a big pond – some woods, an obstacle course, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. According to the brochure her dad had practically forced on her it could house about a hundred kids with school parties and youth groups booking various parts of it during year and the ‘Adventure Holidays for Girls’ camp taking over for four weeks of the summer holidays.

She had been determined not to enjoy it after Dad had forced her into it without even asking. But she was finding it hard not to get excited. The trip down on the train had been brilliant, even though she had had to get up early for Dad to drive her to the station to catch the early train. And she had to text him every time she got on or off a train, like he was expecting her to get kidnapped off the station platform or some such rubbish. She didn’t see why he got to nag and be all worried and stuff when her coming here had been his idea in the first place. Still some of the activities didn’t look too bad. And there were definite advantages to a brand new group of people who didn’t know how good she was at poker.

She went round to the back of the minibus to pick up her bag – a brand new bright yellow duffle bag her dad had bought her the week before. She had wanted to just use Dad’s old army bag. When she had been a kid she used to go on adventures with that old army bag, mostly to the cupboard under the stairs or the dragons lair as it often stood in for, but sometimes she and her dad would go out to the local woods. Dad would pack a blanket and a picnic in the bag and they would go trekking, and sometimes he would help her slay the dragons as well. It would just be her and her dad, just the way it should always be. She had wanted to bring the bag to remind her of him but he had insisted on a new one and claimed the one he had picked out was fit for any soldier, but she wasn’t fooled. It was yellow. How were you supposed to ambush anyone with a yellow bag? The dragons would see her immediately. Parents could really be quite dense.

Bag collected she set off across the courtyard to register and immediately nearly got run over by a Mercedes just pulling in.

“Oi!” she said, banging on top of the bonnet. “Walking?”

The driver didn’t even seem to notice her and the side windows were all tinted so she couldn’t see inside. She huffed and walked away, muttering about self-satisfied rich girls with ridiculously big cars who thought themselves too good to get the minibus like everyone else.

Re: Father Trap - 2b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 2b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Dear Dad,

I bet you’ll be surprised when you get this email. I bet you weren’t even expecting me to text let alone a nice long email like this, so I fully expect you to be leaping for joy and telling all the nurses at work what a great daughter you have and how much you miss me. I miss you too, but not much because I’m having such a great time here. OK OK wipe that smirk off your face, yes it’s fun like you said it would be and I’m keeping busy so don’t expect too many of these emails!

The main reason I’m sending you this is because we were all up really late last night round the campfire and having so much fun telling jokes and ghost stories that the leaders didn’t realise when it had gone past midnight. And of COURSE we didn’t go straight to bed after they hurried us back to the dorms, who would? So everyone’s running late this morning and Alex and Charley – those are the girls in my room and they are so great, Alex is from Wales and we’re having so much fun ramping up our accents so the English can’t understand us and Charley has like LOADS of animals, she was telling us how she has two rabbits and three hamsters and EIGHT guinea pigs (although apparently they only intended to have two guinea pigs but the pet shop had kept the boys and the girls together for too long and they bought one not knowing it was pregnant) and a dog, and she showed us pictures as well including one where her dog is standing by the rabbit run ramrod straight like it was on guard and it was so cute and I showed her a picture of Gladstone but now I really want a rabbit as well pretty pretty please???

Anyway, Alex and Charly are still in bed but apparently I’ve inherited your army training because I was up at seven sharp like usual which is so unfair. Why can I never have a lie in? So I’m sitting on my own in the canteen eating toast and drinking tea and there are only a few other girls here including one about my age a couple of tables down who’s drinking coffee. Yeurgh! Since I’ve got nothing better to do I thought I’d send you this email so aren’t you lucky?

So what can I tell you? We went pony trekking the day before yesterday. It’s one of the activities that take place off site so we got to go over the dales. My pony kept stopping to nibble at bushes and I didn’t know how to stop it, but then he would fall behind all the others and run to catch up as he seemed to like being near the front of the line. One time he went up this steep bank to overtake the rest of the line and I thought I was going to fall off! It was SO much fun!

Yesterday I got to go on the zip wire. All the other girls stood on the edge and started quivering and one girl even burst into tears and had to come down, but I took a big run up and just jumped off. It was so weird for a minute just sort of hanging mid air before the harness caught, really made you feel like alive, you know? We were asked if we wanted another go and I immediately jumped up to say yes but so many of the other girls wimped out that I got to go FOUR times. The last time I came down UPSIDE DOWN and SINGING. You would have been so proud of me, Dad!

So today we’re doing games on the lake or pond or whatever. Some of the other girls who have already done it told us about it. You have to make a raft that can hold your whole team and the first team on the water wins but you have to be really careful you don’t sink! Some of the other girls came back SOAKING and I am so not going to let that happen to me. Then this afternoon it’s the third round of the table tennis tournament. I’ve watched some of the other girls and they seem really good but I’ve had no problems so far so I’m determined to win. There’s a trophy and everything.

Father Trap - 3b/?

(Anonymous)

The weirdest thing just happened. This girl sat down in front of me and started chatting away even though I’d never spoken to her before but I thought she was just being friendly. Then she stopped after about five sentences and looked at me weirdly then seemed really embarrassed and apologised that she’d got the wrong person. She rushed off and sat next to another girl a couple of tables away, the one drinking coffee. Even as I type this she’s giving me such odd looks. We’re both blonde, yeah, but you’d have thought she’d have noticed I wasn’t who she thought I was when she sat down, not after five sentences, even if she was zombified from lack of sleep. It’s probably nothing but stuff like that keeps happening. Like some of the leaders have learnt everyone else’s names but I have to keep reminding them of mine. Or the activity leaders will start saying,

“Didn’t you?”

Or

“Haven’t you?”

Before trailing off when I show up for activities and I wouldn’t notice except it KEEPS happening. You know me, never one to let a mystery lie, I’ll get to the bottom of it, I swear.

Anyway, I’ve got special plans for tonight. I’m not going to tell you because you won’t approve but we’re going to get good old word of mouth going and send a secret message out to the whole camp. We’ve been plotting this for days so shh! Don’t tell the leaders!

Alex and Charley have just appeared but they don’t really look that awake yet so I’m going to sign off and send this off.

Love you!

Hallie


Because Hallie kind of took over this part and because I need to rejig the days this week I'm actually going to put up the next part tomorrow

Re: Father Trap - 3b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 3b/? (Anonymous) Expand
“Annie! Wake up!”

She opened her eyes to see Susie’s grinning face about an inch away from hers.

“How on earth did you fall asleep? Lucy was making a racket.”

“I sleep better when there’s noise,” she said, pushing back the covers and leant under the bed to find her trainers.

They had been waiting up for the leaders to go to bed so they could sneak out to the old barn. The other girls had sat up, giggling, but she had crawled into bed fully dressed and let their voices lull her into a quick nap.

It was too quiet in the countryside, how could anyone sleep when it was so eerily silent? She was much too used to Baker Street where there were always cars or people out on the road or her Dad downstairs pacing, playing violin or just thinking. She had been talked to sleep ever since she could remember. ‘Normal’ bedtime stories were reserved for the sparse periods between cases. Usually her Dad would simply talk to her in a low voiced continuous stream of thought until she fell asleep. Every night, unless he was physically mid chase and even then he usually tried to wrap it up before or put off the stake out until after her bedtime, he would make sure to come back home to put her to bed.

This was the longest time she had gone without him and she was almost tempted to call him up. But she reasoned that if he was keeping to his agreement not to text her whenever he was bored or show up whenever he needed a sounding board more effective than the skull – ‘School rules’, all contact banned unless it’s really, really important (The last bit had to be added after Dad once simply showed up when she was seven, barged into her class and explained the case loudly over the top of both her and her teacher trying to throw him out then one of her friends had asked a question and it was enough for him to solve what had been challenging him for four days and led to the safe return of six women and ten children her own age) – she could hold off calling him just to get some sleep.

Awake now, she started getting ready to go out. The other girls had to bite down on their hands to stop from laughing when she put up the hood of her dark hoodie and said,

“Let’s move out, soldiers.”

Their room was at the top of the old farmhouse, three floors up, but they were lucky enough to have the fire escape in their room. They snuck down, Annie having much more luck at making her footsteps quiet on the metal staircase than her dorm mates did.

There was a thin beam of light coming from the edge of the windows as they approached the old barn. They knocked on the door and were almost physically pulled in by the girl who opened it them shut it quickly behind them.

Re: Father Trap - 4b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 4b/? (Anonymous) Expand

Father Trap - 5a/?

(Anonymous)
Holmes was good. Very good. And a perfect blank page, Hallie couldn’t pick up anything from her. It was as if the other girl didn’t have any tells at all, not even misleading ones. Luckily, the girls crowded in behind Annie weren’t that good at hiding their emotions and she could see everything she needed to from them. Unfortunately that meant Annie was picking up all sorts of clues from her own audience. Still, she thought as the stakes went higher and higher, she knew how to work with that. Especially when she got the ideal hand.

“I’ll do you a deal, Holmes,” she said. “Loser has to jump into the lake-pond-thingy.”

This finally broached a smile onto Annie’s face. “Excellent.”

“Stark naked.”

“Even more excellent.”

“Good. Then start unzipping, Holmes,” she said, laying her cards down. “Straight. In diamonds.”

Annie gave a low whistle and Hallie immediately felt the feeling of triumph drain away.

“That’s a good hand. But not as good as,” Annie put her hand down, “A Royal,” she said in an accent almost identical to her own, rolling the r, “flush.”

The room erupted in laughter and she was slapped on the back by a couple of the girls behind her. Annie didn’t break eye contact, just stared with an unnerving intensity that for some reason sent goose bumps all down her arm.

She stood up, looked down at Annie then said, with a small smile, “Fine,” before climbing over girls to get to the door.

There was whooping and the sound of people scrambling to their feet behind her. She didn’t look back as she walked towards the lake-pond-thingy, but the path in front of her lit up gradually as torches were turned on one by one behind her. She stopped at the edge of the planking that reached out over the water. She didn’t want to go in, she had worked so hard to avoid doing just that at the rafting games earlier that day, but she wanted to show hesitation even less.

Quickly and efficiently she stripped off all her clothes until the only thing she was wearing was her locket and then folded them perfectly before leaving them at the edge of the planking. Unwilling to show any hesitation and reasoning to herself that there was no way an English pond in July, even during the night, could compare to anything she had experienced in the Scottish winter, she set off at a run and dived straight into the water.

If there were cheers she didn’t hear them beneath the surface, but her own sense of triumph was enough. If Annie Holmes had thought suffering her own penalty would do anything to humiliate her then Annie Holmes could not be more wrong.

She broke the surface of the water ready to laugh and splash any of the girls who came to close. Instead she was faced with darkness as she saw the torches, and presumably the girls holding them, fleeing into the night. The only figure left was the one that looked like a reflection of herself, standing in the moonlight. Then she too turned heel and disappeared into the darkness.

It wasn’t until Hallie had pulled herself out of the water that she realised what had happened. They’d taken her clothes. Even her socks.

“That little monster!” An idea immediately leapt to mind bringing a grin with it. “Right.”

Re: Father Trap - 5b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 5b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Hallie could barely eat she was so excited. The sheer anticipation for the moment when Annie Holmes showed her face was more than enough to keep her mood buoyant despite the number of girls pointing and laughing. Plus at least no one else had actually seen her underwear decorating the tree – she had gotten her clothes down just after she had done the switcheroo early that morning. For the first time in her life she was glad she’d inherited her dad’s early rising. If you had to get up very early to catch out Annie Holmes then she was most definitely the girl to do it. Although she was still surprised at how easy it was, Holmes must be able to sleep through anything.

She tried to drink some tea. The wait was killing her. Holmes and her cronies were very late for breakfast now, probably ashamed to show her face. Well, her hair at least.

She tried not to choke on her tea as the giggles threatened to bubble up again.

Then, all of a sudden, there were footsteps from upstairs. Finally! She made sure to push her teacup away from her. One of the girls near the door that led to the staircase wasn’t so forewarned and spat juice into the face of the girl opposite her as soon as Holmes appeared in sight.

Holmes had her hair up in a short pony tail with the loose strands framing her face in a style of careless elegance in all its electric pink glory. The hall was suddenly full of shocked gasps and stifled giggles with a lot of the girls turning around and looking at Hallie, clearly knowing exactly what had happened. Good, everyone should know not to mess with a Watson.

Still, Hallie was quite impressed with the way Annie ignored it all, keeping her head high and her expression blank. She couldn’t help but approve of the way the other girl was taking it in her stride, seeming to accept that she had deserved it and that they were even now. She liked that.

She realised quite how wrong she was as soon as she got back to her room, reached under her bed to pull out her swimming kit and it exploded on her.

Her scream of shock was quickly followed by a yelp from Charley, then a double shout from Alex who jerked away from her set of drawers only to bump into her bed and set off another small explosion.

Hallie reached for her bag again only for there to be a purple explosion in front of her face. She slammed her eyes closed and fell backwards only to set off another detonation where she fell. Charley and Alex kept yelping as they set off blast after blast. Hallie wiped her face and found a purple powder there. There were similar marks everywhere that the explosions were.

“Stand still,” she said to Charley and Alex. “It’s some kind of exploding paint. Holmes must have snuck in here while we were at breakfast and put it everywhere.”

She resisted the urge to acknowledge quite how cool that actually was.

“Tell me you’re gonna get her back for this,” Alex said.

“Don’t worry,” she turned and showed them her grin. “I intend to.”

Re: Father Trap - 6c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 6c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Sorry this is so late, it had to be rewritten, but it's still Saturday, right?


Annie lay back on her bed and listened bleakly to the sound of the rain hammering on the roof of their new lodgings. It was an old bird hide a short way into the woods. The long thin viewing holes had been filled with glass, solar panels provided electricity for lights, and furniture had been added in order to turn it into the camp’s ‘isolation cabin’ to which they had now been banished.

“You will live together,” Martha had said, “you will eat together, you will do all your activities together.”

“How long for?” she had asked.

“Until you’re the best of friends,” Martha had replied.

So until the end of time itself, she had thought and glared at Hallie.

Hallie had just glared back and started unpacking her bags, very pointedly putting ‘Cuppy’ under the covers of her bed.

They hadn’t talked for the rest of the evening, even when they were forced to sit together on a small table alone in the corner of the dining room.

It was all Hallie’s fault, for escalating it after the harmless escapade at the lake. And now she was cast off from the rest of the camp, from her new friends, doomed to spend time with the most prideful, conniving, mental girl in existence. Getting that worked up about a little toy? Ridiculous.

But the next day, when a storm had hit the camp and gale force winds along with intermittent bouts of hail had called off all the outside activities forcing the girls back to their own rooms to entertain themselves, she found her temper had started to cool and guilt had started to creep in.

She should have known that Hallie would react that way. That the other girl would never have brought that toy if it wasn’t precious to her. She should have been able to deduce from her observations that Hallie Watson wouldn’t back down and think it through if something precious to her was taken – like she would – but stand up and fight.

Dad would have known that. Dad would have worked out the other girl within minutes.

There was something else Dad would have worked out as well.

“How did you get the furniture on the roof?” she asked.

Hallie, who was seated on her own bed typing something on her mobile, started at the sudden break in the awkward silence and gave her a stunned look. For a moment Annie thought the other girl would just ignore the question and go back to whatever she was doing before – writing an email by the looks of it – but then Hallie said, huffily.

“Help, superglue and a nail gun.”

“Ah.”

Annie turned back to the book she had been staring at while her mind had been dwelling on her new roommate. She continued not to take in any of the words but instead let herself revise the previous description of conniving to actually quite ingenious.

Still, she was startled when Hallie suddenly asked,

“How did you know that stuff about me? Like how my dad fought for his country and taught me how to fight and stuff?”

She looked back over at the other girl. Hallie had abandoned her mobile and was now leaning forward, eyes narrowed but expression one of open curiosity. It was like some kind of block was on the verge of being breached and she was suddenly aware that what she said next could be vital.

Re: Father Trap - 7c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 7c/? (Anonymous) Expand
As Hallie chewed on the surprisingly nice and buttery fruit cake she glanced down at her mobile, still showing the email she had been writing moments before.

Dear Dad,

She had been desperately trying to put into words how she had solved the mystery of the confused leaders and it had turned out to be a girl who looked just like her. A girl who turned out to be the most evil creature in existence, who stole her clothes, put exploding paint all over her room, stole her Cuppy and then said horrible things about Dad.

She had been having trouble finding a way to phrase it without mentioning that she had dyed the girl’s hair pink, nailed her furniture to the roof and then punched her. Annie had been right, Dad would not have approved and would have no sympathy for the pranks since she had given as good as she had got.

She should never have punched Annie, no matter how good it had felt at the time and how impressive the bruise was. So when Annie asked her about the furniture prank she had taken it for the opportunity for peace that it was and asked about what Annie had said because that was what her dad would want her to do. Also it had been bugging her; how had Annie known that stuff about her dad but at the same time got it so wrong? The explanation had been so impressive she hadn’t wanted to point out the resounding flaw in the other girl’s logic. Hallie had looked so happy she found she just didn’t want to crush her like that… anymore.

“So did I get anything wrong?”

She choked on her cake.

Annie’s face fell immediately, clearly picking up on the fact that something was off.

“It’s not that big,” she said, once she had swallowed her mouthful of cake. “It’s just that it’s only my dad at home and he was an army doctor.”

Annie flopped backwards on the bed, now slightly faded pink hair fanning around her head like a halo. “Dad says I just need practice.”

“I do have two dads though,” Hallie said earnestly, trying to reduce the look of utter desolation on the other girl’s face. “So you did get that right. Although,” she shrugged, “they separated when I was a baby so I’ve never met my other dad. Dad doesn’t even talk about him anymore.”

Annie’s head raised to give her that uncomfortable stare that always made her feel weird. “That’s exactly like me. I was surrogate and my dads separated when I was a baby and my dad doesn’t talk about my other dad at all.”

“Huh,” Hallie leant back on her hands. “That’s so strange. What are the chances?”

Annie sat up again and narrowed her eyes. “How old are you?”

“I’ll be twelve on the eleventh of October.”

The other girl’s eyes widened. “Me too.”

“What a coincidence,” she said, trying to laugh it off because Annie was starting to look very intense.

She glanced at the window, wondering if it was worth making a dash for the main house as the atmosphere in the cabin was starting to feel a bit heavy with something she couldn’t quite identify. Nervously, she started to play with her locket.

“What’s that?” Annie asked.

Hallie held it out to show her. “It’s my locket. I got it when I was a kid. My dad said it was given to me by my uncle but we don’t talk about him either so I think it must have been my other dad’s brother.”

Annie pulled at the thin gold chain around her own neck and lifted out from under her top another gold locket, identical to her own except with an A on it.

“This was given to me by my uncle when I was a kid,” Annie said. “My dad’s brother, Mycroft.”

Hallie shook her head, not sure what she was disagreeing to.

“Have you ever seen a picture of your other dad?” Annie asked.

“Yeah,” she said. “I found this old newspaper clipping of him standing next to my dad. It was just the picture, none of the writing, so I’ve got no idea why he was in the paper. But I asked my dad and he said that was my other dad and then took the picture away, but I found it later in the bin and kept it.”

Re: Father Trap - 8b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 8b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Annie wanted to know everything about her dad and everything about Hallie as well. It was like there was a missing puzzle piece of her life being dangled in front of her and it was being offered to her for the measly exchange price of information on herself and her dad.

She learnt that her other dad was called Doctor John Watson and was head of a surgery just outside Glasgow city centre and just round the corner from a golf course.

“But everywhere in Glasgow is just round the corner from a golf course,” said Hallie as they ran along the path from their cabin to the dining room for lunch.

He enjoyed detective programs, Bond films and rugby, although he wasn’t averse to taking his daughter to the occasional football game – Celtic being Hallie’s team of choice.

He had been in the Royal Army Medical Corp and served in Afghanistan where he had been shot in the shoulder. He did not like letting Hallie see the scar, or his uniform, or any of his medals of which Hallie claimed there were a great many.

He had never come close to having another relationship even though, according to Hallie, he got flirted with all the time by men and women alike.

“It’s embarrassing,” Hallie said and looked like she was going to say more, but the opponent she was currently soundly beating at table tennis coughed pointedly.

Hallie went back to the game, then waited until she had scored match point before turning straight back to Annie and asking whether her dad had ever been close to anyone else.

She gladly informed her twin that he hadn’t. Hadn’t even got close. To anyone. Ever.

By the time dinner came around Hallie was on to talking about her dad’s cooking habits and how he only really knew how to cook a couple of dishes that weren’t ‘take it out the freezer and stick it in the oven’ type meals but would insist on trying new things out, usually to great disaster. She described their communal attempts to cook pizza from scratch and using too much yeast so it grew into a large cake and all the toppings – of which there were many because they couldn’t settle on any – fell off.

“But once we scraped the sauce off the oven tray and put it back on it tasted really good actually so we’re going to try it again when I get back.”

“I would love to see that,” Annie replied, mentally preparing an equivalent story about her own dad’s cooking efforts which most often resembled some kind of science experiment where equipment had to be handled exactly as the book directed and cooking times were pinned down to the exact second and occasionally things exploded.

But just as she opened her mouth to tell all that she realised that she really did want to see that.

“I want to meet Dad,” she found herself saying out loud.

Except it wasn’t a question of want. She had to see him, she just had to.

Hallie grinned broadly. “That would be brilliant! You could come up to Glasgow and stay with us, maybe?”

“Or you could come to London and stay with us,” Annie continued, mind whirring. “Or, how about we do both at the same time?”

Hallie hesitated and frowned. “How could we do both at the same time? You can’t exactly stay with me if I’m staying with you unless-“

Hallie’s eyes widened and Annie could see that her sister had got it.

“At the end of camp,” she said. “I go back to Glasgow as you and you go back to London as me. Then we get to get to know our other dads and no one’ll be the wiser.”

Hallie lit up, her mouth falling open with delight. Then she suddenly frowned as her gaze tracked over Annie’s hair and clothes.

“We’re completely different, though,” Hallie said, appearing disappointed by her own discovery of a flaw.

“That’s no problem,” Annie replied, slipping easily into Hallie’s Glaswegian accent. “It’s all about acting. All I’d have to do it pretend to be you. And,” she continued, dropping back into the slightly more estuary accent Hallie never used in front of other kids but had started to slip into with her, “I can teach you how to be me so well even Dad will be fooled.”

Hallie stared at her, slack jawed. She hoped her twin wasn’t always this easy to impress or the other girl would never be able to keep up the act in front of her ‘Superhero’ father.

Re: Father Trap - 9b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 9b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 9b/? (Anonymous) Expand
“This,” opposite her Hallie held out her phone, showing a picture of a miserable looking white and brown… was it a dog? It looked like an extremely wrinkled toothy monster. “Is Gladstone.”

Her lack of enthusiasm must have shown on her face because Hallie frowned and said, angrily,

“Well I love him so you better learn to. We’ve had him since he was a puppy and Dad brought him home and he cried all night until he crawled into this Gladstone bag - you know the kind doctors used to have - that someone gave Dad once as a joke and he fell asleep and he would only sleep in there forever afterwards so I called him Gladstone. He sits, he comes, he stays… you know, for a bit. He-“

“What does he eat?”

She instantly regretted letting her morbid curiosity get the better of her because the irritated expression, which had been fading from her twin’s face as the other girl described the creatures tricks, sharply returned.

“I was getting to that and you’d better remember because you’ve gotta feed him.”


~


“This is D.I. Lestrade,” Annie showed her a picture on her phone of a roguish looking older man with grey hair. “He comes to Dad for help on his cases.”

“He’s dishy,” she said, with a grin.

Annie looked horrified. “He’s nearly sixty.”

“He doesn’t look it.” Annie still looked distressed so she added, “I never said I was going to jump him.”

Annie’s brow furrowed. “Jump him?”

“You know,” Hallie shuffled in her seat, feeling suddenly embarrassed. “When a girl likes a guy she kind of,” she searched for a word which wasn’t ‘jumps’ and settled on, “pounces.”

“What?” Annie looked thoroughly confused and Hallie didn’t blame her. “Actually leaps at him?”

“I think it’s a metaphor for… you know… sex,” she dropped her voice for the last word even though they were alone in the dining room.

“Oh.” Clarity dawned on her twin’s face. Then Annie glanced at the photo on the phone and added, “Urgh.”

“Anyway, cases?”


~


“This is Daisy.”

The woman displayed on the screen in front of her was dark skinned, a brunette and completely towered over by the extremely muscled man beside her.

“Daisy used to babysit me all the time when Dad had to work,” Hallie explained. “She’s getting married the Friday after we get back from camp to Ernie.”

Hallie tapped the screen to indicate the man in the photo and Annie tried not to laugh at the name. Judging by the expression on her twin’s face the other girl had failed that task on previous occasions and probably called him ‘Bert’ or even ‘The Fastest Milkman in the West’ as well.

“I,” Hallie continued turning the phone back around and tapping at the screen, “meaning you, are going to be a bridesmaid and you have to wear this.”

The phone was turned back towards her, this time showing a fluffy red dress with a trim of small white roses.

“There’s a hair piece as well,” Hallie said with a sneer.

“It’s pretty,” Annie said.

Hallie frowned and looked at the photo on the phone disbelievingly for a second. “Are you sure you’re going to pull off being me because I think we might just be too different.”

Re: Father Trap - 10b/? (Anonymous) Expand
“The driver will be one of Uncle Mycroft’s men,” she said, firmly. “So don’t think that because you’re alone in the back that you’re not being watched.”

“Annie-“

“Here’s your mobile,” she said, pushing it into her sister’s hands. “You should read my emails and texts to catch up on my speech patterns and if you get bored there’s my music collection and videos.”

“Annie-“

“And don’t fiddle with your jacket cuffs too much or Dad will instantly know you haven’t worn it before. Maybe we should have switched wardrobes a few days ago so we got used to holding ourselves the right way-“

“Annie!”

Annie finally met her twin’s eyes just before being enveloped in a tight hug.

“It’ll be fine.”

All around them was the chaos of the last day of camp. Leaders and girls alike were dashing about finishing off cleaning, loading bags into the minibuses and looking for lost items. They had found a quiet spot in the corner to wait for the car to come pick up Annie, or rather Hallie.

“I just don’t want them to find you out and send you back before I’ve had time to get to know Dad,” Annie told her.

“I’ll make sure they don’t and if they do I’ll refuse to go.”

“No, but Uncle Mycroft will just pack you up in a car and send you away.”

“I’ll grab hold of Dad and not let go.”

“But Dad’ll send you away.”

“He won’t.” Hallie released her and backed away a little so they could look each other in the eye. “Remember the photo. He would never just send me away, not when he could come and see Dad again. And I’m not going to let that happen before the fourth of September.”

Two days before school restarted, their agreed deadline. That gave them just under two weeks to get to know their fathers. Annie was sure that wouldn’t be enough time but trying to be each other at their different schools would be much tougher than just being at home. Not to mention that they were both bound to be labelled as freaks forever if they started the new term as different people.

“The fourth of September,” Annie repeated.

Hallie pulled her back into a hug. “I’m gonna miss you.”

“Going to,” she couldn’t help correcting.

“Hush, you.”

“Text me.”

“Emails. Really long ones.”

Annie looked up at the sound of a car pulling into the courtyard, hoping that it would be a vehicle other than her uncle’s Mercedes. No luck. She very unwillingly pulled out of her twin’s embrace.

“That’s you.”

Hallie nodded, obviously finding it hard to contain her excitement.

“How do I look?”

In Annie’s dark, and not in the least bit torn jeans, green beaded T-shirt and black jacket, wearing emerald stud earrings, the locket with an A on it and with her hair neatly pinned back – which Annie had spent ages teaching Hallie to do herself because her dad would spot instantly if it had been done by someone else – Hallie looked just like her.

“Like me.”

Hallie finally let her grin loose. “And you look just like me.”

Looking down at her sister’s torn jeans, plain white T-shirt and even Hallie’s simple watch, Annie had to confess her twin was right. Especially since the pink had finally washed out of her hair.

“So you’re going to find out how they first met,” Hallie said.

Annie smiled at her sister’s spot on RP accent.

“And you’re going to find out why they broke up,” she responded in Hallie’s ‘at home’ mix of Glaswegian and Estuary English.

She looked over Hallie’s shoulder as the driver got out of the Mercedes. Checking he definitely was someone she recognised, she nodded at her sister and said.

“You should go.”

Hallie pulled her into one final hug and murmured, “Good luck,” in her ear.

Then suddenly her twin sister was gone, leaving her alone again with her doubts.

Re: Father Trap - 11b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 11b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 11b/? (Anonymous) Expand
The last time Annie had been on a train journey this long was a few years before when her dad had gone to a case in Dartmoor. He had only intended for it to go on for a day or so but one of the suspects – who hadn’t even turned out to be the murderer – had tried to stab him in the stomach and even though it had only been a glancing blow he had to go to hospital. This mainly annoyed her dad because when the second murder happened he hadn’t been able to get to the crime scene before the local police had ruined the evidence.

With the case looking likely to extend to an unknown length of time he had called Mrs Hudson and asked her to bring Annie to join him. He even moved out of the hotel and arranged a cottage for the three of them to stay in. The impromptu holiday – in the middle of term and everything – had been brilliant and he had even let her come when he went with the police to arrest the murderer.

They had spent the days until Dad’s cut was all healed talking, going for walks, relaxing in front of the cottage’s open fireplace and enjoying Mrs Hudson’s fine cooking because apparently Dad was “far too skinny by half” and would “never get better unless you get some proper food in you. And Annie needs it as much as you, she’s a growing girl and if you had your way the both of you would live on tea and biscuits all day long.”

On the journey home she had fallen asleep on her dad’s shoulder and it wasn’t until she woke up in bed the next day that she realised he must have carried her off the train and then out of the taxi and up to her bed; she had always been able to sleep through pretty much anything. It had been the best holiday in her entire life.

This journey was pretty much the polar opposite. She wasn’t sandwiched comfortably between her dad and Mrs Hudson, she was on her own. And she wasn’t going to him or with him, she was going further and further away from him. Further and further towards a country she didn’t know and a father she had never met, under a name that wasn’t her own.

What if she couldn’t pull it off? She had been so worried about Dad figuring Hallie out she hadn’t really thought about the possibility that John Watson could figure her out. She wished she had Hallie’s confident, charge right in attitude instead of just having to pretend she had it. She always thought things through, then over thought them, then worried if she couldn’t figure it out immediately. And a three hour train journey was definitely conducive to thinking too much.

What if Dad took one look at her, realised she wasn’t his real daughter and sent her away in disgust? What if he got angry? What if he didn’t like her?

“Please like me,” she whispered into the window. “Please.”

As they pulled into the station at Glasgow she knelt up on the seat so she could practically plaster herself against the window in order to see as much of the platform as she could. Dad had to be there, somewhere.

Under Hallie’s instructions, and his initial request, she had sent him a text message every so often to update him of her arrival, copying Hallie’s sent messages from four weeks before to make sure they sounded right. She had warned him that the train was running ten minutes late and he should be there to pick her up.

She desperately searched the platform for the stocky, fair-haired man she had seen in the newspaper clipping and in the other photos on Hallie’s phone. Her eyes raked over every face she could see in the ocean of people on the platform. He wasn’t there.

Re: Father Trap - 12b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 12b/? (Anonymous) Expand
As Hallie watched, the tall – Annie had neglected to mention how incredibly tall he was – thin, dark curly haired man stopped and turned towards her. She was immediately hit with the most intense blue gaze she had ever seen. It swept through her and into her like her very soul was being laid out on a platter for inspection. She had thought Annie’s way of staring was unnerving but this was incredible. Her father was incredible.

“Dad,” she said- breathed more like.

He seemed to pause, then leapt down the stairs to where she was standing and swept her up in a hug so tight she could barely breathe. She didn’t care, just smiled into his chest and held on firmly.

It was odd. He should have been a perfect stranger but somehow, with him holding her, she felt safe. Just as if her dad was holding her. Or should she say her other dad. She wasn’t going to dwell on semantics, just enjoy the moment.

He pulled away just as suddenly as he had begun the hug and said, briskly,

“Bags?”

“Downstairs.” It came out a little breathless

As he clattered down the stairs she took a moment to compose herself and squash down the urge to dance on the spot and giggle with glee.

He charged straight past her, carrying everything. “Come on.”

She followed him up the stairs to the bedroom at the top of the house. While her dad dropped the bags straight onto the bed she took advantage of his turned back to look around and take it all in. Annie’s sketches had been amazingly accurate, actually. She almost felt like she knew it already. Her dad turned around and caught her looking.

“I’m just happy to be home,” she said to cover.

He nodded and she worked hard to keep the relief from her face. So far so good.

“You’ll want to tell me everything, I expect,” he said with an unreadable expression.

“Can’t you deduce it?” she asked.

He gave her a small smile. “Some. But I’d like to hear you tell me it all. I’ll prompt you if I require any extra detail.”

She resisted the urge to giggle, wondering if she would be asked to give her statement in her own words, as the characters in Dad’s detective programs were always saying.

Her other dad clapped his hands together. “Dinner. How about Chinese?”

“Mrs Hudson said she was going to bring something up.”

“Even better.” Faster than she could blink he brought out his mobile from his pocket, tapped out something on the keyboard then swept it away again before gesturing to the door. “Shall we?”

And Annie said this was going to be hard…

Re: Father Trap - 13b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Another thing Annie had failed to mention was quite how good a cook Mrs Hudson was. After about an hour the older woman came up with the most delicious steak and kidney pie she had ever tasted. It was all she could do to hold back the exclamation of delight that threatened to leap from her lips. In the end she managed to reduce it to a murmur of,

“Oh, I’ve missed Mrs Hudson’s cooking so much.”

They talked over the food, or rather Hallie talked most of the time, giving a highly censored version of the previous four weeks. She concentrated on the latter half of the break, when she and Annie were doing activities together so she could better tell them from her twin’s point of view. Now and then he would ask her a question or laugh at something she had said or – and she liked it when he did this most of all – say, “That’s nothing, when I was…” then launch into some tale from his youth or even his adulthood that had her awed or giggling or quite often both at the same time. It was brilliant.

Except… it was also really frustrating. There were so many things she wanted to tell him but couldn’t. She wanted to talk about meeting Annie and the pranks they pulled. She wanted to tell him how they had messed with the heads of the camp leaders by swapping places now and then as practice for going home. She wanted to tell him how she had won the table tennis tournament.

She wanted him to smile at her for being her, not her sister.

Still, this was better than nothing and she had had eleven years of nothing. Quite frankly she was fed up of nothing. She was not going to muck up her one opportunity to get to know her father.

After the pie, but long before the two of them had run out of steam talking wise, Mrs Hudson reappeared to bring up a Sticky Toffee Pudding. The woman was a culinary goddess! It was heavenly; much better than the shop bought ones she had at home.

Mrs Hudson declined to join them and disappeared again, leaving them to go back to their conversation.

The sun had just set when there was a knock at the door. The plates, long since empty, had been abandoned on the table while they were sat on the sofa while her dad described one of the cases he had been up to while she had been at camp with a great deal of gesturing and hand waving. They both stopped in their tracks when they heard Mrs Hudson open the door followed by slow and steady footsteps up their stairs.

The flat door opened and Hallie tried not to let the panic that suddenly gripped her show on her face. She definitely couldn’t let any fear show, not in front of the man Annie had warned her so fiercely about.

Uncle Mycroft.

Her dad had jumped up when the door opened and stood in the middle of the room, glaring at Uncle Mycroft.

Her uncle looked exactly like the photo Annie had showed her. He even seemed to be wearing the same three piece suit and was leaning casually on the same dark umbrella. He regarded her dad with a bored expression with one eyebrow raised.

“You summoned me?” he said, making it sound like the most ludicrous thing that had ever happened in the history of mankind with hardly any extra emphasis in his voice.

Re: Father Trap - 14b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 14b/? (Anonymous) Expand
For Annie, the next day was wonderful. It started with a bit of worry when she came down in the morning and her dad made a comment about how it was ‘not like her’ to sleep in so late. Apparently Hallie really did get up that early every morning. She had hoped it was just a camp thing. But he seemed to pass it off as her being tired from the journey the previous day so she was able to stop the panic that had started building in the back of her mind and get on with a full day of Dad watching.

No matter how many pictures Hallie had shown her or how much her sister had described him there was nothing compared to actually talking to the man, or going for walks with him, or just being in the same room as him. There were a hundred details that Hallie hadn’t mentioned or maybe didn’t even notice and all of them were fascinating. Like the way he licked his lips when he was thinking and the way his brow ruffled when he frowned. His myriad of smiles – the one where the skin around his eyes wrinkled was her favourite - and variety of walks. His sense of humour and overuse of irony. There were hand gestures that reminded her of her dad and she wondered if he had picked them up from him. There were unconscious habits that she had seen translated exactly onto Hallie that she must have got from him. His jumpers, his aftershave and the texture of his hair – it did not take long to find an excuse to run her hands through it – were all details she soaked up delightedly. Hallie had been right, this plan was complete genius and the opportunity of a lifetime.

There was only one teeny tiny problem. The dog.

Gladstone hated her. She had never thought dogs had personalities, had thought that idea a ridiculous invention of owners who had confused their pet with their child, but there was no doubting that this particular dog had taken an instant dislike to her and was out to get her.

The instant she had walked in the door the previous day he had growled at her. He must have been able to tell from her smell that she was a stranger to him. Dogs had advanced olfactory senses, didn’t they? She had tried to be affectionate, maybe get him to accept her as a guest but the creature clearly had some sense that she wasn’t particularly fond of him. Well how could she be? She didn’t usually have problems with animals, although she had never been very enthusiastic towards them, but Gladstone wasn’t exactly the most lovable looking… thing. Plus he looked so bad-tempered all the time and ready to bite your leg off at the first opportunity. That didn’t help in trying to get on with the thing – they could sense fear, couldn’t they?

But the more time she spent in the house the more Gladstone seemed to take against her. She was convinced he knew she was pretending to be someone she wasn’t. He was obviously trying his hardest to let Dad know of her deception, protect his master from the nasty dog-hating pretender in his mistress’ clothes, sleeping in his mistress’ bed and using his mistress’ shampoo. Luckily he hadn’t succeeded just yet but there were times when he would growl at her, or move resolutely away if she tried to stroke him and Dad would frown in a way that made her fear the message was getting across. She was very close to taking the monster aside, explaining the situation to him and begging him not to spoil it for her.

He would probably just be annoyed that they were trying to get Dad’s attention on someone other than him.

She wished she had paid more attention when Hallie hadn’t stopped going on about him. There had to be a way to get him on her side.


Message Sent

Dog issues. Any Advice?


~

Re: Father Trap - 15c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Before her dad could even finish knocking the door was opened by a very frazzled but also immensely enthusiastic version of the woman in the picture Hallie had shown her.

“Hallie!” Annie found herself swept up into a huge hug. “You’re back! How are you? Mum!” Daisy called before Annie could answer. “Hallie and John are here! Well, come in then.”

She was released abruptly and waved in. She could see her dad was unsuccessfully fighting down a smile.

“There you are,” a woman who looked about Dad’s age, Daisy’s mum she assumed, came down the narrow hallway towards them. “I think Daisy was convinced your car had been washed away by this torrential rain.”

“We’re not late, are we?” Dad asked, looking at his watch and frowning.

“Of course not,” said Daisy’s mum. “When have you ever been late for anything? But Daisy is convinced that something is going to go wrong. Yesterday I caught her checking the Glasgow station arrivals board online just in case Hallie’s train derailed and she couldn’t make it to the fitting.”

“I didn’t think the train had derailed. I just wanted to check-“

“I’m sorry, love, but you may have to face the fact that this wedding is going to go off without a hitch.”

“Everything’s been perfect so far,” Daisy said earnestly. “The dress, the decorations, the rings. We even got a discount on the flowers,” she said the last sentence in an ominous tone as if that just proved all her dark theories correct. “Weddings are always a disaster to plan so I’m just waiting for something to go wrong and the longer everything goes right the worse it’s bound to be.”

Annie tried not to giggle. Too much.

“Right,” said Daisy’s mum, almost sounding as if she didn’t believe her daughter was going mad. “Why don’t I take John into the kitchen for a cup of tea while you help Hallie try on her dress.”

“Oh yes, come on, Hallie.”

She was guided through the nearest door and into what turned out to be the living room. In there was a grey haired woman talking on a mobile phone, a table full of measuring and sewing equipment and, hanging off the side of a chair, the dress. The pretty red dress with the white roses around the skirt, waist and neckline that Hallie had turned her nose up at.

The woman hung up the mobile, smiled at her and said,

“Hallie, right?”

“Yeah,” she lied.

“I hear you’ve been on holiday, did you have a nice time?”

“You would not believe.”

The woman looked her over. “I hope you haven’t grown much since I last measured you.”

“Has she?” Daisy sounded panicked, clearly certain she had finally found the big disaster that was going to somehow single-handedly wreck her wedding.

“Relax,” said the woman. “This is why you always put a bit of leeway in the hem.” The woman turned back to her. “Why don’t you try it on?”

She tried to look reluctant. She had a feeling she had failed.

There was a full length mirror against one of the walls for her to look in once she was wearing the dress. It really was very pretty. But no, she had to scowl in the mirror because that was what her sister would do. She had to act like Hallie and pretend that she hated the thing and couldn’t stand the thought of walking in front of people in something so hideously girly and she most definitely had to fight the urge to play with the skirt.

It was so swishy…

In the reflection in the mirror she could see Daisy gaping at her.

Uh oh.

Re: Father Trap - 16c/? (Anonymous) Expand
It was like something off the television. Police cars, men and women in uniform and even a couple of dogs were gathered in the middle of the street, the main focus of attention appearing to be an alleyway just off the road. It was so exciting! She was actually going to see her dad fight crime!

Dad briefly spoke to a young blond detective who lifted the police tape to let them past then called on her radio for her D.I.

He then started to look around the area, examining the road, the buildings, the pavement and even the sky. Hallie followed close behind, watching with fascination as he worked.

Suddenly he turned swiftly on his heel and said,

“You wait with D.S. Fuller by the police car and I’ll be back in a moment.”

Hallie nodded and went to walk back to the car when a tall grey haired man walked out of the alleyway and purposefully towards them. It was the dishy detective from Annie’s photo, D.I. Lestrade. He seemed to spot her and gave her a stunned look.

“Annie? What are you-“

“This is Jones’ case,” Dad interrupted him.

“No one saw the connection at first until it was assigned to me,” D.I. Lestrade said, putting his hands in his pockets and adopting a businesslike tone. “You got the picture of the toy cat?”

Dad somehow managed to convey with a single nod that only an idiot would suppose he hadn’t seen the picture of the toy cat.

“Well, I remembered Jones was working on a case with soft toys so I gave him a call. It matches up with the one that was missing from the last robbery. He said he’d be here as soon as he could but asked if I could call you in.”

“Are you going to show me then?”

D.I. Lestrade turned towards her but Dad cut him off before he could say anything again and told her again to wait by the car before stalking off towards the alleyway. D.I. Lestrade gave her an apologetic look and chased after him.

So she didn’t actually get to see him do the whole crime fighting thing then. That was fine. It was still cool to be much closer to the action than just watching it on television. She leaned back against the car and set about watching the police officers go about their business, wondering idly whether she wanted to be a police detective when she grew up or a consulting one like Dad.


~

Re: Father Trap - 17d/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 17d/? (Anonymous) Expand
It was still raining by the time they got to the church for the wedding rehearsal that evening. After the dressmaker had left, Daisy’s mum – who turned out to be called Angela – had invited them to stay for dinner and suggested they go down to the church together. But they had travelled in separate cars and Angela and Daisy had managed to get there before them.

Dad was just pulling into a parking space when his mobile rang.

“Can you get that for me?” he asked.

Annie tried not to smile as she took it out of his coat pocket, remembering the many times she had done that for her other dad, and answered the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Hallie. The church doesn’t seem to be open yet-“

“Because we’re ridiculously early after someone was terrified we’d be late and it would be the downfall of the whole operation,” she heard Angela calling out in the background.

“So you might as well stay where it’s dry,” Daisy continued as if she hadn’t heard her mum. “While we wait for the vicar to show up.”

“Okay.”

“See you in a bit.”

“Bye.” She hung up and passed the phone back to her dad. “Daisy says not to bother getting out the car ‘cause the church is locked.”

“Fair enough.”

They fell into silence. Dad was like that, she had discovered. He didn’t say anything unless he had something to say. She could see why her other dad had liked him so much. Thinking of her other dad… She took a deep breath and tried to gather up as much courage as she could. Be like Hallie, she told herself, Hallie wouldn’t even hesitate to ask.

“Doesn’t all this wedding stuff,” she said, slowly, forcing each word to follow the last rather than hide away at the back of her throat in case they were rejected, “make you think about your wedding.”

Dad’s head snapped towards her, a shocked expression on his face. She wanted to retreat under his stare but she made herself persist.

“To my other dad. Doesn’t it remind you?”

“No,” he said frostily, looking back out at the rain.

Well she couldn’t leave it like that.

“Why not?” she asked, frowning. “Surely it would make anyone think of marriage. That’s just… normal.”

Dad sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his hand. “Hallie, we are not talking about this.”

“Yes, we are. Come on, you can’t just say something like that and not expect me to be curious. That’s just not fair.”

“Hallie-“

“Just tell me why it doesn’t remind you.”

He sighed again and she could sense victory.

“For starters,” he said, sounding extremely unwilling. “It wasn’t a marriage. In those days between same sex couples it was called ‘Civil Partnership’.”

She knew that but it was possible Hallie didn’t so she wrinkled her nose at the term.

“Also it didn’t take place in a church. That was very rare back then.”

He stopped. Annie waited a few beats then, when it was obvious he wasn’t going to continue, prompted,

“And thirdly?”

Yet another sigh. “And thirdly I wasn’t actually conscious when I married your other dad.”

He stopped again. Fear not only forgotten but blown out the window, over the hills and far away she spluttered,

“Oh no you don’t. You cannot stop right there. What do you mean you were unconscious? How can you get married if you’re unconscious? you have to tell me what happened. You have to.”

He still looked reluctant so she climbed up on the seat until she was knelt on it and grabbed his arm.

“Please?”

He looked away again, but this time up and to the left. Recognising the indications of him remembering the story she sat back on her heels and waited for him to begin.

Re: Father Trap - 18c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 18c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 18c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Well these people were obviously guilty, Hallie thought as she leant back against the fence outside the block of flats. If they weren’t guilty then why were they arguing so much with Dad, and using all kinds of words she knew neither of her dads would rather she heard. Plus the woman just looked dodgy. She didn’t know why Dad didn’t just call D.I. Lestrade in to arrest the lot of them.

As she watched her dad try and persuade the couple to let him talk to their daughter she munched on her sandwich. What with the excitement of going to St Barts Hospital, meeting Mike Stamford, seeing the lab where her dads met (her dads met in a lab, how cool was that? All her friends’ parents met in boring places like pubs and supermarkets but her dads met in a laboratory!) and getting to watch her dad be all… sciencey and stuff, lunch hadn’t quite happened. When they got the call from Lestrade that they had narrowed down the families to five based on Dad’s description – which Dad then narrowed down to two just over the phone (how fantastic was that?) – they had stopped off to get her a sandwich and a chocolate bar – Dad wasn’t eating – before heading to this block of flats.

Unfortunately they hadn’t got any further than that.

Hallie finished off the sandwich, dusted the crumbs off her fingers and looked around. There was a gate just around the side. She wondered where that led.

No one seemed to notice her slipping away to have a closer look. It was set just off the street down a little gap between the buildings and it looked like it went around the back of the block. There was a dent in one of the bricks to one side. Bracing her foot in it she pushed down and leapt up to grab the top of the gate. She lifted her other foot to lean further up the wall then, holding tightly to the wood, walked upwards until she was almost flat on top of the gate. Then she rolled and landed smoothly on the concrete beyond.

She felt like raising her hands like at the end of a gymnastics bit in PE. She resisted.

Walking further along the pathway she found herself in a garden that seemed to belong to the flats. It was basically four patches of vaguely green grass divided by paths, circled by a high fence and littered with a couple of footballs of various levels of inflation. The patch closest to the building contained a clothes airer a selection of toys and a child of about four that Hallie recognised from the newspaper cutting.

“Hello,” she said sitting down next to the girl. “Would you like some of my chocolate?”

She pulled the Cadbury bar out of her pocket and held it up invitingly. The girl didn’t look up from where she was brushing her barbie’s hair.

“Not supposed to take sweets from strangers.”

“Oh right,” Hallie said, thinking it over. “You’re right, you shouldn’t.” She stuck out her hand. “Hello. I’m,” better be safe than sorry in case Dad talks to her, “Annie. I like cherry ice cream, dragons and Winnie the Pooh especially Tigger because he’s bouncy like me. What about you?”

“I like Piglet,” the girl offered, looking up shyly.

“Is that because you’re small but secretly very, very brave and smart?”

Re: Father Trap - 19b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 19b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Right, now LJ has stopped mucking I can finally get a part up


The fastest milkman in the west- no, Ernie, she had to remember to call him Ernie.

Wait, why did she have to call him Ernie? Hallie called him Bert.

Anyway, the groom, name and milkman speed aside, was late.

Daisy of course immediately assumed something terrible had happened and the entire wedding would have to be delayed until Ernie recovered from whatever calamitous injury or tropical disease had befallen him. Unfortunately, Daisy’s other bridesmaids – who were called Hazel and Maggie and thought she looked adorable now she had ‘finally done something with her hair’ – had arrived on time and were fuelling Daisy’s paranoia. When she heard them talking about rumoured sightings of wild animals at the old zoo she had to bite her lip to stop herself from laughing. Dad and Angie didn’t seem to be doing much better and were deliberately avoiding each others’ eyes. Even the vicar looked half irritated at the delay and half like he was mentally trying to remember what was being said in order to laugh about it with his family later.

When Ernie did eventually show up after nearly half an hour this didn’t seem to do anything to relieve Daisy’s fears. The bride-to-be fussed over her future husband, obviously trying to determine what was wrong with him and where he was hiding the wounds.

Ernie was taller than Annie thought he would be - he had obviously been crouching down a little in the picture – and in a tight fitted button-down shirt that showed off the rather large muscles in his arms he was quite an imposing figure, towering over her dad as he shook his hand.

He was also charming, outrageous, much calmer than his wife-to-be and, if Annie was right, and she had been taught by the two most observant people in the universe, so she was pretty sure she was right, he was the deepest most repulsive letch and cheater she had ever seen. Just look at… well, everything.

“Dad,” she tugged at his sleeve and whispered to him as the vicar started to talk Ernie and Daisy through their vows at the top of the church.

“Hmm?”

“Did you see Ernie’s shirt? The way the buttons weren’t done up properly?”

“He must have changed in a hurry, I’ll point it out to him.”

Annie bit her lip. Hallie wouldn’t be so insistent in pointing these things out, she was sure. But they were so obvious. And if Hallie knew, if Hallie saw that her friend was about to marry such a person, she was sure her twin would do this as well.

“And his hair. Did you see how ruffed up his hair was?”

“Hallie,” her dad frowned down at her. “It’s blowing up a gale out there, why are you so concerned that his hair doesn’t look its best?”

“But what about his ear?” she said. “It’s red. Like someone’s been chewing on it? And it certainly wasn’t Daisy because she’s been with us the whole time. Plus he was totally lying when he said he got a flat tyre on his way home from work. He went on and on about how it was difficult to get the tyre off but there’s no trace of grime under his fingernails. If he didn’t have time to do his shirt up properly, or fix his hair, when did he have time to clean his hands so thoroughly?”

Her dad stared at her like he couldn’t quite believe she existed, and for a moment she panicked, convinced that she had gone too far, that he knew.

Then he frowned and said, “You think he’s having an affair?”

“Of course he is,” she said, a little louder than she intended out of relief. “It’s obvious he doesn’t care two figs about Daisy,” she added in a quieter tone. “Did you see the way he stared at Maggie’s bottom? Like he didn’t care if she saw.”

He looked towards the couple at the altar, concern across his features. “Someone should tell her.”

“I’ll do it.”

“What?” he whipped around to look at her. “Hallie, no!”

But she was already charging up the aisle. How would Hallie go about this? Oh yes.

Re: Father Trap - 20b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 20c/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 20c/? (Anonymous) Expand
The next day was a beautifully warm one in London and Hallie and her dad were just getting ready to go for a walk in the sunshine when her dad’s phone went off.

“Lestrade,” Dad said, answering it. There was a short pause before he asked, “What kind of alibi?” A longer pause. “He must have had a partner, what about his friends and associates?” Then, “Thank you, Lestrade, I’ll get back to you with my conclusions,” before swiftly hanging up.

He turned back to her.

“Change of plan. I need to follow up a lead at an ice cream shop near Waterloo. We’ll walk there and you can have a sundae while I interview the suspect’s girlfriend.”

“Sounds like a good plan,” she said eagerly.

And it was a good plan. It turned out that the stain on the cat that her dad had wanted to analyse was frozen yogurt, and this particular ice cream shop was the closest one to where the body had been found. It also had a young woman behind the counter who was very prone to her dad’s shameless flirting. Not only did she tell Dad all about the nice guy who came in all the time and even stayed late to help her pack up and did so the day before last and received a complementally tub of frozen yogurt for his trouble, but she also gave Hallie a large vanilla and chocolate sundae with multi-coloured sprinkles on top. As Hallie ate it while watching her dad work she couldn’t help thinking it was an excellent plan. Up until the moment when the man himself walked in and the assistant said,

“Darren, this man was just asking about you.”

At which point the man ran. Dad took after him with a backwards shout of,

“Stay here.”

Like hell.

Wiping a loose drop of ice cream from her upper lip she jumped to her feet and chased after him out the door. She had to weave through pedestrians as she ran after the pair of them but thankfully her dad’s height meant that she could usually find him above the crowd. Until she got to a crossroads.

She couldn’t see him ahead, or to the right, or to the left. They hadn’t been that far ahead, had they?

There was a clang from somewhere behind her. She spun around and searched for the source of the noise, eventually finding it down an alleyway just off the road she had been running along. She must have gone straight past it. There were steps coming down from a fire escape on the side of the building. The clang must have been the ladder hitting the ground then bouncing back up to its rest position above. It had to have been pulled down by first ‘Darren’ and then her dad. Darren was climbing the fire escape, her dad hot on his heels as she watched.

She stood in the mouth of the alleyway, her whole attention on the sight in front of her. Her dad, scaling a building to chase a suspect. This was unbelievable. It was like an action film. She wanted to cheer when she saw him grab Darren by the back of his coat T shirt, pulling him down the steps to the first story level. A triumphant grin spread across her face then dropped away completely without trace when, faster than she could properly take in, Darren turned around and shoved her dad up and over the railing.

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Re: Father Trap - 21b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 21b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 22b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 23b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 23b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Father Trap - 24a/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 24b/? (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Father Trap - 24b/? (Anonymous) Expand
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