Chapter 1: Actions Speaking Louder Than Words
Sorry boys, I’m so changeable! It is a weakness with me, but to be fair to myself, it is only weakness!
John Watson may have been discharged from the army—but he’s still a soldier. When Jim Moriarty decides not to leave him and Sherlock alone the strength which fled his legs when Sherlock ripped the bomb vest off him instantly returns. This time that strength, which is more like his body running on autopilot, remains with him as the confrontation with the consulting criminal gets more and more bizarre. It isn’t until John and Sherlock are back at 221B Baker Street that John’s strength vanishes and he stops moving on autopilot as the events to the night catch up with him.
Sherlock is in the living room, looking through the piles of books and papers for something. John is in the kitchen, preparing a cup of tea when his legs suddenly go weak and he has to scramble to sit down before he falls down.
I was wearing a bomb! John’s mind screams as he shivers violently. He rests his head in his hands, closes his eyes and struggles to take a few deep breaths… John hears Sherlock move into the kitchen and struggles to compose himself as he listens to the world’s only consulting detective move something around near the kettle.
John opens his eyes as his coat—the black one with the shiny patches on the elbows and the right shoulder is placed on his shoulders and finds a cup of tea sitting in front of him. His hands are still shaking slightly but he manages to pick up the cup and take a small sip… it’s just the way he likes it, with just the right amount of milk and sugar.
The “high functioning sociopath” is sitting across from John, looking down at his cup of tea as if he can deduce some deep dark secret from the liquid. John opens his mouth, intending to say something, but decides not to. He turns his attention back to his tea, allowing the silence and the strangely simple comfort of Sherlock’s presence.
Two weeks later John calls Sarah to cancel a date— he’s at a crime scene, standing next to Detective Inspector Lestrade as Sherlock almost crawls around on his hands and knees, using his magnifying glass to peer at something as he mutters under his breath. John intends to cancel their planned dinner date and reschedule at some later time… but before he can even say hello Sarah starts talking.
“Look John…” Sarah sighs. “I think—I think we should see other people.”
“Okay.” He replies. “That’s fine with me.”
John hangs up before Sarah can say anything else but, strangely enough, finds that he isn’t angry —in fact he’s mostly just surprised that Sarah managed to put up with him (… to be honest that should be “with him and Sherlock”) for so long.
As John shoves his phone back into a pocket Greg shifts slightly. “Sarah all right?” The DI asks.
“We just broke up.” John replies with a shrug as Sherlock abandons his inspection of the body and races over to the two of them, a satisfied smirk on his face as he starts explaining his deductions.
Over the next week Sarah calls him twice. The first time her call goes to voicemail because John is busy pulling him and Sherlock out of the Thames and forgets to check his phone until several hours later, when the case is solved and the two men are sitting in their kitchen at Baker Street eating (well in Sherlock’s case picking at) Chinese food. In her message Sarah politely informs John that he doesn’t need to quit working at the clinic just because they’ve broken up. After she says this there is a moment of strained silence, but before she can say anything more the message ends.
Part of John thought that he should quit—Sarah might say that their breakup wont’ effect their working relationship, but common sense (and experience) told him otherwise. The problem is that it was hard enough to find the clinic job in the first place since, for some reason, prospective employers tended to be intimidated by John’s CV, especially when they realized the man sitting in front of them had been in the army. There’s also the issue of finding a job that won’t interfere too much with Sherlock’s cases which, although infrequent, could probably support the two of them… but John doesn’t know how to broach that possibility with the world’s only consulting detective. To be perfectly honest John is still trying to figure out why Sherlock was looking for a flatmate in the first place, since he never seems to be short on cash.
The day after Sarah calls for the first time John is walking to work, unsure if he’s going to quit, when he sees a familiar black car with “Anthea” standing next to the rear door, looking down at her phone.
“So who are you today?” John asks.
She glances up at him for a second before she continues texting with one hand and opens the door of the car with the other. “It’s Thalia today.”
As usual John wonders why not-Anthea changes her name so often as he climbs into Mycroft’s car, wondering why the older Holmes brother has decided to abduct him again. Not-Anthea sits down across from him, still completely focused on her cell phone and the car starts to drive away.
Mycroft doesn’t abduct John all that often, all things considered—in fact ever since the Pool the “minor government official” has instead just shown up at Baker Street. If Mycroft wants to talk to John then he will and both of them will ignore Sherlock, who always pouts an bangs things around in the kitchen while occasionally insulting Mycroft. If he wants to talk to his brother then Mycroft and Sherlock will sit in the armchairs and verbally spar while John watches from the couch and tries not to laugh. When Mycroft either needs or wants Sherlock to take a case then he gives John the files as Sherlock tortures his violin.
But for some reason Mycroft is reverting back to his old habits, at least for today. The empty darkened factory isn’t the same one where John originally met the elder Holmes, but it is remarkably similar, although Mycroft hasn’t bothered to drag out a chair this time.
“I understand you’ve broken up with Miss Sawyer.” Mycroft remarks, casually leaning on his umbrella as John emerges from the car and moves to stand in front of him.
“How? —no, never mind.” John sighs, resisting the urge to run a hand through his hair. “So why am I here Mycroft?”
“Well John, I was rather hoping you would reconsider my offer.” Mycroft replied.
“Your offer?” John blinks.
“Sherlock’s schedule—or rather his lack of one—makes a ‘normal’ job rather difficult, doesn’t it?” Mycroft remarks as he reaches into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulls out a piece of paper that John quickly identifies as a check. “I understand that you are uncomfortable with anything resembling spying, so I am very simply proposing that you become Sherlock’s blogger and doctor full time.”
“You know I’ll tell Sherlock.”
“And if I’m not mistaken Sherlock did berate you for turning me down last time.” Mycroft smirks slightly, shifting his weight off the umbrella as he holds the check out to John.
“Well this time I’ll just have to split the fee with him.” John replies, taking one step forward and taking the check from Mycroft.
As John tucks the check safely in a pocket Mycroft absentmindedly swings his umbrella around in a lazy circle and glances over at not-Anthea for a second. “If you prefer I can arrange your… departure from the clinic to Miss Sawyer.”
“You know I’ve got a phone.” John replies, looking back over his shoulder at the black car. “But I’ll take a ride back to Baker Street.”
When John returns to 221B Sherlock, who is still wearing his pajamas and dressing gown is slouched in his armchair, his violin sitting in his lap while he fiddles with the bow in his hands. He doesn’t look up as John steps inside and removes his coat.
“What did Mycroft want?” Sherlock asks, picking up the violin and positioning it as if he’s about to play.
Instead of answering John pulls out the check.
“So I’m thinking we use this to pay rent and then buy something completely ridiculous… any suggestions?”
Sherlock blinks, his eyes narrow as he looks at the check and then he laughs and the smile on his face is nothing less than radiant.
Two days later, after Sherlock and John have paid their rent, bought groceries and started narrowing down the very long list of ridiculous things they can buy with what remains of Mycroft’s check, Sarah calls John for the second—and the last—time.
When his phone rings John is walking between the kettle in the kitchen and the couch, where Sherlock is in a sort of controlled sprawl with John’s computer on his lap and his feet up on the coffee table. John sits down on the small part of the couch that Sherlock isn’t taking up and sets his tea on the table in front of him before he pulls out his phone.
“John.” He recognizes her voice almost instantly. “Do you really want to do this?”
John pauses, unsure of what exactly he should say. Apparently Sarah doesn’t expect an answer, because she keeps talking.
“You’re a talented doctor and a great guy and I like you, I really do… but not when you’re around him.”
“When I’m around him?” It takes all of John’s willpower not to growl those words.
“It’s like you’re a soldier again, like bloody Sherlock Holmes is leading you into battle.” John can hear Sarah’s footsteps, she’s pacing as she speaks and getting dangerously close to screaming at him. “He’s a nutcase John! One of these days he is going to get you—and a lot of people killed… and you just follow him without question!”
“Goodbye Sarah.” John doesn’t even try to stop himself from growling. He ends the call and all but slams his phone down on the coffee table, glaring at it and seriously considering chucking the damn thing across the room if Sarah calls back.
It’s at that moment that he remembers that Sherlock is sitting next to him. Dreading what the least tactful person in the world will say, John turns towards his flatmate… only to find that Sherlock is still typing away at the computer, as if he hadn’t just heard John all but scream at his ex-girlfriend.
“Oh look John, we could get Anderson an adult sized dinosaur costume.” Sherlock suggests, moving the computer so that John can see the costumes which he’s found online.
“You do realize that we’d technically be getting Anderson a present?” John asks, taking the computer away from Sherlock so he can check the latest comments on his blog.
“Good point…” Sherlock replies, leaning back and steepling his fingers. “Although the Loch Ness one would match his police scrubs.”
John coughs and almost spits out his tea as he laughs at the mental image of Anderson wearing a Loch Ness Monster costume instead of his blue protective suit. For a second Sherlock just smirks, but then the two are laughing together, giggling like a pair of schoolgirls.
They eventually decided to go to Angelo’s for dinner. The waitress puts them at the same table they’d sat during their first case together and even pulls out another candle and sets it in the center of the table. Instead of protesting that they’re not a couple John just sighs, rolls his eyes and asks Sherlock what he recommends off the menu.
The Dinosaur Costumes that Sherlock mentions: http://www.regretsy.com/2011/10/14/four-awesome-halloween-costumes/
Chapter 2: The Things You Keep
All praise to C, who has the magical ability to take thoughts I can’t vocalize and turn them into words and sentences. If not for her I’d still be sitting and staring at my computer yelling “BUT WHY DOES THAT WORK?” She’s kinda like the John Watson to my Sherlock Holmes.
John does most of the chores at 221B.
In fact the only “chore” that Sherlock does is wash his lab equipment… well, the consulting detective does do some of the laundry, since he has the almost magical ability to get blood stains out of anything. So Sherlock cleans his equipment and and John does the bulk of the chores—thankfully they haven’t had to call on Sherlock’s blood stain removal abilities for a few weeks.
Sherlock is out, running around London updating his mental map. John is sitting in Sherlock’s armchair, watching crap telly and folding laundry. Usually he does this while watching Sherlock watch crap telly, because that’s infinitely more amusing. Sherlock draws his knees up to his chin wraps his arms around his legs and yells at the screen as if the television has just told him that Anderson is a better detective then him.
The load of laundry is much smaller than normal, since John doesn’t have to dress for work at the Clinic and Sherlock has spent most of the previous week lounging around the flat in his pajamas and his dressing gown. Soon the small load has been separated into a hamper and a pile, with the clothing in the pile belonging to John and the clothing in the hamper belonging to Sherlock. Leaving his clothing sitting on his armchair, John heads into Sherlock’s room to leave his flatmate’s clothing on his bed.
John has always found it surprising that Sherlock—who only cleans up his lab equipment because dirty equipment could ruin an experiment, who never helps clean the rest of 221B Baker Street—has such a clean, orderly and sparse bedroom. There’s almost nothing in it, nothing ever gets pinned to the walls in the middle of a case and nothing is ever left lying around on the floor. His clothing is always hung up in the closet or neatly put away in his dresser… Sherlock even organizes his socks!
The messiest that John has ever seen Sherlock’s bedroom (not that he ventures in there that often) was after the case that ended with him and Sherlock falling into the Thames. Sherlock and John had been woken just after dawn by a phone call from Lestrade. The night before had been one of the rare occasions when Sherlock’s sleep schedule was close to that of a normal human being, so both John and Sherlock had been sleeping when the call came in, although Sherlock was instantly awake and alert while John remained half-asleep in the cab ride over to the crime scene.
Sherlock and John returned about thirty minutes before sunset. John was exhausted but Sherlock had been strangely energized and had started working on some experiment in the kitchen almost immediately, only pausing long enough to request that John retrieve his cell phone charger from his bedroom. The “mess” had consisted of an unmade bed, Sherlock’s pajamas lying on said bed and Sherlock’s dressing gown half on the bed and half on the floor.
Today Sherlock’s bedroom is immaculate—everything is put away, the bed is neatly made and Sherlock’s dressing gown hanging on the back of the door. However, as John places the laundry hamper containing Sherlock’s clothing on the bed his foot hits something that has been shoved underneath. Curious, John goes down on one knee and reaches under the bed, easily grasping the mystery object and quickly pulling it out.
It’s his cane.
The one he got after Afghanistan. The one he was leaning on but didn’t need when he met Sherlock for the first time. The one that he forgot at the restaurant when he and Sherlock ran after the cab. The one that Sherlock had Angelo bring back to 221B. The one that John abandoned to chase after Sherlock and the cabbie who turned out to be a serial killer. The same battered metal cane had gone missing after the Study in Pink case and that John had assumed Mrs. Hudson or Sherlock had either thrown away or donated to some charity.
Instead Sherlock Holmes had kept it.
For some reason John finds himself laughing at the idea that his flatmate—the one who calls himself a high functioning sociopath has kept the proof that he’s helped someone. John is one hundred percent certain that, if not for Sherlock, he would still be limping around without a purpose… although it’s far more likely that he would have returned to his bedsit, taken out his gun and killed himself.
John places the cane back underneath Sherlock’s bed. He steps out of Sherlock’s bedroom and closes the door behind him. Sherlock hasn’t come back yet and when John opens the fridge he finds they’re out of milk and pretty much everything else, although they do have a plastic bag full of what appear to be toes. John pulls on his coat and heads to the nearest store, well the nearest one where he won’t have to use a bloody chip and pin machine. He feels like cooking dinner tonight.
By the time John returns from the shops Sherlock has also returned. His coat is thrown across the couch, his scarf sticking out of one pocket, one of his gloves visible in the other. The consulting detective is sitting at the kitchen table, working on some experiment which, thankfully, does not involve the bag of toes. His black jacket is on the back of his chair and his shirt sleeves are rolled up to his elbows.
John sets his bags down on the kitchen counter and puts away everything he isn’t planning on using for dinner. When he finishes his task John turns around and leans on the counter as he looks up at Sherlock, who appears to be completely and utterly captivated by his experiment.
“Sherlock, what happened to my cane?” John asks.
“It’s under my bed.” Sherlock replies, looking up from his experiment, his posture almost exactly the same as when John first saw him at Bart’s. “But you knew that already… what you’re really asking is why I kept it—why do people never say what they mean?”
John doesn’t reply, but he doesn’t back down—he calmly leans against the counter and, with his arms crossed in front of his chest, he stares at Sherlock. John knows that Sherlock can outwait him, and is prepared to end up babbling like a fool before Sherlock explains himself… but then the consulting detective sighs and pulls away from his experiment. Sherlock leans back in his chair and his head tilts slightly to one side.
“Surely you’ve noticed that I have a tendency to… collect mementos of my cases.”
Without thinking John’s gaze darts over to the drawer where he knows the pink phone— the original one from “The Study In Pink”, not the one that Moriarty sent— lies among several pens, various scraps of paper and some takeout menus. A copy of the Suzhou numeral code from “The Blind Banker” serves as a bookmark in a battered encyclopedia and several of small items scattered around the living room apparently are related to cases Sherlock solved before meeting John.
“So my cane is one of your ‘mementos’?”
“Obviously.” Sherlock sighs, glancing heavenward for a second before moving to resume working on his experiment.
“…but it’s not from a case.”
“Yes it is.” Sherlock replies. “The Case of The Spectacularly Ignorant Doctor… unfortunately the case is still open.”
“You’d have probably solved it if you didn’t delete so much ‘useless’ information.” John replies, turning away from Sherlock he moves towards the fridge. John is reasonably sure that Sherlock will eat tonight, since they are between cases and he is cooking. “You never know when something you labeled ‘irrelevant’ might be actually important.”
John expects Sherlock to laugh, or the very least scoff… perhaps even launch into a rant about how knowing about the solar system or who is Prime Minister isn’t important. Instead he is greeted with silence. Confused, John glances over his shoulder at his flatemate.
Sherlock is looking down at his experiment, but John can somehow tell that the detective isn’t actually paying any attention to the test tubes and chemicals… Sherlock’s mouth opens, and he takes a breath as if he is about to say something, but nothing comes out. John can almost see the wheels turning in Sherlock’s head.
John doesn’t urge Sherlock to speak. Instead he goes back to preparing dinner—he’s chosen to make fettuccine alfredo, since when Sherlock does eat he’ll eat almost anything and it happens to be one of John’s favorite dishes that are relatively simple to cook. The pasta is almost finished when Sherlock finally breaks the silence in the kitchen of 221B Baker Street.
“John…” A shiver races down John’s spine, as if he can feel the sound waves generated by Sherlock’s whisper of his name. John turns so that he can look at Sherlock, who is still sitting in front of his experiment, but whose gaze is now focused on John Watson.
“Yes Sherlock?” John asks, his throat suddenly dry.
“Don’t insult yourself. Nothing about you is irrelevant information.” Sherlock informs him, before he starts putting away his equipment and cleaning off the table.
John doesn’t know how to reply. He tears his gaze away from Sherlock and finishes dinner. When he turns back towards his flatmate the kitchen table, which is usually covered in test tubes, chemicals and things that John doesn’t actually want to identify, is not only clean—but it’s been set with plates, cups and silverware that actually matches.
The two eat in silence, but that silence is a comfortable, familiar one. John learned long ago that sometimes silence is more powerful than a thousand words.
All of Scotland Yard, or at least all the people John has met while working with Sherlock, seem to think that John is going through some horrible point in his life and that working and living with Sherlock Holmes is some sort of masochism, or at the very least a need to atone for whatever happened when he was a soldier. Only Lestrade seems to at least somewhat understand John’s friendship with Sherlock, which is a real accomplishment, since John still hasn’t figured out how to explain it to himself, let along anyone else.
Despite this misunderstanding John has done his best to be on good terms with the members of Scotland Yard who he encounters over and over again during Sherlock’s cases… Anderson is the exception to John’s attempts at a sort of working friendship.
When John Watson first moved into 221B Baker Street and started catching criminals and solving crimes with Sherlock Holmes he made a very sincere effort to like Anderson. After all, Sherlock was difficult to get along with at his best and while John didn’t like the idea of anyone getting cheated on, he was willing to suppose that Anderson was nice enough if one overlooked his affair with Sally Donovan.
John and Anderson were thrown together for three cases. John had started out feeling neutral about the man, but with every case he started to slip further and further towards dislike. On the fourth case that involved Anderson, John stopped trying to like the man and found himself content to passively dislike Anderson.
The case which changed John’s position on Anderson concerned the murder of a young woman— Lucy Taylor, eighteen years old and seven months pregnant, found lying a pool of blood in an old house scheduled for demolition. She’d been less than two blocks from home when she’d died. Her boyfriend—the father of her child—had been the first person to find her.
Sherlock was inspecting the room as John examined her body, when Anderson walked into the room. He’d stopped just at the edge of the pool of blood, crossed his arms and, with a sneer on his face, he started talking.
“Good thing we got the boyfriend in custody.” Anderson remarked. “Obviously he wasn’t too pleased with her pregnancy.”
“Anderson, your ineptitude is only outweighed by your tendency towards assumptions and your lack of observations.” Sherlock calmly remarked, moving so that he was standing next to John, who was still observing Lucy’s body. “While this pregnancy wasn’t planned it was accepted—by both her and her boyfriend.”
“How can you possibly know anything about her pregnancy?” Anderson sneered.
“It’s quite simple. I look.” Sherlock remarked, before he knelt down and started to explain. “Her jewelry—not expensive, but recently purchased and well taken care of. Most importantly, this necklace.” His gloved hands reached over and lifted a thin silver chain, from which dangled a small silver heart shaped pendant. “Women don’t buy heart shaped jewelry for themselves—a man bought it for her, and quite recently, that design is only a month old.”
Abandoning the body, Sherlock stood up and stalked over to a small brown backpack that was lying on the ground a few feet away. He unzipped the main pocket and pulled out a small book with four smiling babies on the cover.
“A book of names—read and consulted often, inside there are names circle in several different types of inks, but the notes are only in two styles of handwriting. So both mother and father were thinking of names…” Sherlock flipped to the first page of the book. “The book is inscribed ‘Lu- Together we can do this. –Jacob’ so clearly the father bought the book for her. Judging by the wear on the pages, the folded tips and which names have been circled several times, they were still deciding on a name.” Sherlock flips through the book once more, stopping at two different pages before speaking. “They were stuck between Cassandra and Rachel—most likely they had decided to ‘see what she looked like.’ John, how far along was she?”
“Seven or eight months.” John whispered as Sherlock slipped the book back into the backpack.
“I should think it’s very clear that Jacob had come to terms with her pregnancy. If he hadn’t then he most certainly wouldn’t have bought this book and it wouldn’t have taken him this long to ‘snap’. She failed to return on time… and he went looking for her.”
“He found her.” John sighed, looking down at the poor young woman. “Didn’t know she was dead, or hoped that she wasn’t, so he took her into his arms…”
John blinked and saw a man lying on the sand, blood staining the ground and his camo. He remembered knowing that the man was dead but still searching desperately for a pulse as bullets flew around him and the body that had been his friend since boot camp.
“You may as well release her boyfriend Lestrade,” Sherlock remarks, turning to the DI. “He’s been through a lot lately… and you aren’t going to get anything from him but evidence of his grief.”
“Oh, look.” Anderson laughs as he pulls out his notepad and starts writing. “The freak had a heart all of sudden.”
You insult him and then use him. You assume the worse of an innocent man and then call him a freak when he shows concern for that man! John mentally growls, his left hand curling into a fist as he glares at Anderson. He’s about two second away from just flat out punching the forensics ‘expert’ when he is distracted by the world’s only consulting detective placing a hand on his shoulder—right above the scar, which John is fairly confident Sherlock hasn’t actually seen.
“Come on John, the game’s afoot!” Sherlock says, an entirely improper smile on his face as he starts heading towards the nearest exit with John following close behind.
Less than one day later John and Sherlock watched as Lucy Taylor’s father is arrested for murdering his daughter.
“So why’d he do it?” John asks Sherlock as they started heading back to Baker Street—it’s close enough that they don’t bother getting a cab and just start walking, side by side on the busy sidewalks.
“He believed that she’d dishonored her family.” Sherlock explains, his face blank, his hands in his pockets as he walks at a slightly slower pace then usual. “He had been divorced from her mother for several years and recently had been on a tour of duty in Iraq… Lucy didn’t keep in contact with him, he didn’t know she was pregnant.”
“But then he returned from his tour.” John whispered, thinking of poor Lucy Taylor, so excited about having a child with Jacob even though their unnamed daughter hadn’t been part of their plan. He wondered what Jacob would do with himself now that his girlfriend and his child were gone… he wondered what the wife of his mate who had died on the sand in Afghanistan had done.
“He intended to surprise her—most likely he had some sort of trinket which he thought would buy her affection.” Sherlock frowned slightly as he looked over at John. “Upon seeing the evidence of her ‘dishonor’ he flew into a rage and started beating her—”
“Which caused her to miscarry.” John shivered slightly, remembering the feel of blood on his hands, imaging Lucy lying in a pool of her blood, in pain and alone.
“Frightened by what he had done, the man fled… leaving his daughter to die.” Sherlock paused for a moment as he waited for a gap in traffic. “Nothing honorable in that man John, I’m surprised he made it in the military for a long as he did.”
And although John still feels horrible, although he can’t stop seeing poor Lucy Taylor dying alone in that abandoned house, although he can still see his mate dead on the sand and feel the blood on his hands… John can’t help but look up at Sherlock and smile.
A few days after his final phone call with Sarah Lestrade invites John out for a drink—and as soon as John walks into the pub Greg comes up and apologizes that Anderson is present, which draws a small smile of gratitude from the Doctor. A few hours later Anderson is very drunk and leaning quite heavily on the table as he informs John that the pretty red head two tables over is flirting with him.
“Don’t tell me you need bloody Sherlock Holmes to point out when a girl fancies you!” Anderson laughs and John rolls his eyes but says nothing.
A few drinks later and Anderson is sucking his thumb under the table, with a photo of him on everyone’s phone and the red head girl has come over to their table to flirt. However at the exact moment that she sits down on John’s right his phone buzzes, alerting him that he has a new text message.
We’re out of milk.
John looks up at the red head and finds that he is no longer interested in flirting with her, even though she’s drop dead gorgeous and is sober enough for her interest to be quite flattering. John excuses himself and leaves the pub, pleasantly surprised to find that he is only slightly tipsy and heads back towards 221B Baker Street. He gets milk on the way.
Sherlock is lying on the sofa, facing the door, his hands folded on his chest like he’s in a coffin, his eyes open and staring up at the ceiling. However when John makes tea Sherlock takes a cup and the two watch crappy telly for a few hours, before John staggers off to bed and Sherlock starts working on something for his blog.
Chapter 3: John's Room, Sherlock's Palace
This chapter contains a tiny Crossover with "Scilicet..." which is another fanfiction I have written.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It is somewhere between one and two in the morning and Sherlock Holmes, the only consulting detective in the world, is lying on his bed—on top of the covers—fully clothed and twirling John Watson’s cane around like it’s a baton. He wants to play his violin or to make some volatile chemical reaction or shoot the wall again… but the good doctor is asleep upstairs and Sherlock is strangely hesitant to wake him.
Something has changed…
Sherlock sighs and lays the cane at his side. He cracks his knuckles once before his hands come to rest on his chest and his eyes close. If anyone was observing him (as they might well be, he can’t be completely sure that he’s removed all of Mycroft’s cameras) Sherlock would look uncannily like a corpse as he retreats within himself.
The outside world doesn’t matter right now— Sherlock Holmes is going to his memory palace.
Both Sherlock and Mycroft have constructed memory palaces in an attempt to bring some semblance of order to their minds. Mycroft had started teaching Sherlock how to construct his palace on his fourth birthday, when Mycroft was eight. The oldest rooms in the palace were a joint effort and Sherlock can still feel Mycroft’s hand in the design of the rooms and how the information in those rooms is laid out.
In Sherlock’s memory palace Mycroft Holmes’ room is modeled after the Central Lobby of Westminster Palace. The most noticeable difference is that the central chandelier in Sherlock’s version of the room is made out of CCTV cameras and several of the windows have been replaced with television screens.
Sherlock’s memory palace started out as only a dozen or so rooms that Mycroft helped him to construct, but now it has grown to include thousands of rooms and miles of corridors. The rooms of his palace vary in size and style, from Mycroft’s palatial hall to the small bare white room with harsh florescent lighting where Sherlock was confined during rehab.
When it became clear to Sherlock that John Watson would need to have his own room in the memory palace the consulting detective had begun quickly begun constructing a space for John. Sherlock had intended to use the Great Hall at Bart’s as the model for John’s room… but once he actually started building and began to move facts from the various rooms they had previously been stored in, a very different space had been formed right in the heart of Sherlock’s memory palace… a space that looked remarkably like 221B Baker Street’s living room.
Sherlock slowly makes his way through the halls of his palace, slipping deeper and deeper into a trance like state as he allows the imagined architecture to surround him. He could of course move quickly through his palace—with the amount of information in his head it was necessary for Sherlock to be able to ‘jump’ from room to room no matter how far apart they were, but tonight Sherlock has decided to take his time and enjoy the journey.
He stops in front of a simple door, one that is identical to the outer door of 221B Baker Street, although this door has “John” written in brass letters above the regency style brass door knocker. Sherlock touches this door knocker briefly before opening the door and stepping inside.
Now some of the rooms in Sherlock’s memory palace are cluttered… but those rooms tend to be places where he stores things on a temporary basis, the sort of information he needs to know for one case but will not need to know again, the things he plans on deleting as soon as possible. The rooms which contain information that Sherlock will keep are (mostly) neat and orderly. They actually look like museums, with the displays (and the information they contain) spaced far apart and well lighted.
John’s room is neither. It is, more than any other room in Sherlock’s palace, based upon reality. Like the real living room of 221B John’s room is cluttered and the lighting is never perfect. The displays that Sherlock has filled John’s room with are not neatly arranged, instead they are constantly shifting around the room and are placed quite closed together, which is necessary since John’s room is only slightly larger than the real 221B living room. The “mess” in John’s room is different though—in real life most of the stuff in 221B is Sherlock’s. In his memory palace everything is John’s, even if it isn’t something that John actually owns.
The first thing that Sherlock sees when he opens the door to John’s room is a large glass case which replaces the right window that, in reality, looks down on Baker street. Inside this glass case is a plain white mannequin which is wearing a simple uniform. The left shoulder of this uniform has clearly been punctured by a bullet and the fabric is stained with blood. On the right of the glass case a canvas hangs in a simple black wood frame—the canvas is blank at first glance, but if Sherlock stops to look a light pencil sketch will emerge… one day he will see John’s actual wound and the sketch will become a painting of John’s scar.
Sherlock sits down on the couch and sighs softly, his eyes moving to the glass case and allowing the information it contains to appear… Captain John Hamish Watson. Medical Officer with the Royal Army Medical Corps—RAMC Logo: A snake curled around a plain staff, a crown on top and two laurel branches on either side. A scroll beneath contains the RAMC motto: In Arduis Fidelis – Steadfast in Adversity. Attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers –motto: Quo Fata Vocant – Wither the Fates Call. Three tours in Afghanistan before he was wounded. Middle of a firefight, no other medic or doctor present, lying bleeding on the sand.
If you were dying, if you were murdered, in your very last seconds, what would you say? Please God, let me live. Oh, use your imagination! I don’t have to.
Between the glass case containing John’s uniform and the window, where the cow skull lamp hangs in real life, the wall contains several items in black wood frames arranged around a dark brown wood wall gun mount.
Three Diplomas in a straight vertical line: King Edward Grammar School. King’s College, London –Intercalated BSc, Medical Sicience. King’s College, London –Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
John’s Gun, perfectly centered between window and case: Sig Sauer P226R, British Army equipment designation L106AI. Illegal. Either secretly kept when he left the army (quite difficult) or illegally purchased afterwards (slightly less difficult).The gun mount was designed so that, if it existed in the real world, Sherlock would have been able to take John’s gun out and shoot it. In his memory palace the wall above the couch is decorated with the same smiley face made by spray paint and bullet holes as the real wall is. Bored! Bored! Bored! So you take it out on the wall? Oh, the wall had it coming!
The portrait of Sarah, hanging below the gun, was a new development—the last time Sherlock had been in John’s room it had clearly been a portrait of Sarah… he thought that his mind would simply remove the portrait when the two broke up—When I’m around him? Goodbye Sarah —but the portrait seems to be changing, shifting so that it depicts another person’s face… although Sherlock can’t tell whose face it will become. John’s had multiple female partners in the past—currently single, although a woman (young, attractive, long red hair) had hit on John last night at the bar. Still thinks about one woman—one night stand, no names exchanged, no lasting effects, no reason for the memory to stick with him but it does. No male partners of note—although there could have been a drunken fumble or something arising from the close quarters of boot camp. Not homophobic — No. I'm... not asking. No. I'm just saying, it's all fine —just wary of being seen as Sherlock’s boyfriend.
A black wood frame, between gun and window, holds a pane of glass—it is the window from “A Study In Pink”, the one with a bullet hole from the bullet which may have saved Sherlock’s life. If Sherlock stares into the glass he can see John, standing tall and calm as he watches Sherlock argue about the shock blanket with Lestrade. Crack shot. Not just a marksman, his hands didn’t shake at all—acclimatized to violence. Didn’t fire until I was in immediate danger—strong moral principle. Military service combined with nerves of steel. Memory of looking over and seeing John, realizing what had happened, more surprised the he should have been. You have just killed a man. But he wasn't a very nice man was he? We can’t giggle, it’s a crime scene, stop it. You’re the one who shot him.
In front of the couch there is a coffee table. On that table, immediately in front of Sherlock is John’s computer— a Red Samsung R530 open and turned on, the screen displays a page from John’s blog. Currently that display is from the 29th January— A Strange Meeting: I definitely think he might be mad but he was also strangely likeable. He was charming. It was really all just a bit strange. I’d be lost without my blogger.
Next to the computer is a dark blue plate with a slice of German Chocolate Cake. John’s favorite. “John Hamish Watson” is written in white icing on the slice of cake. Sitting on the plate next to the cake are three chocolate cupcakes with 08/09/71 written in white icing, two digits on each cupcake. 8th September, 1971 —John’s birthday. Next to the plate is John’s RAMC mug: black tea, no sugar but a lot of milk.
On the desk between the window and the glass case lies John’s phone. Nokia N97 Smartphone—silver, engraved “Harry Watson – from Clara XXX” Gift from “Harry” short for Harriet Watson, divorced from Clara. Harry and John don’t get along. Never have. Harry claims she is quitting drinking, Sherlock has his doubts. She is three years younger than John, but several inches taller. (Which annoys John, but not as much as when they were younger.)
John’s cane lightweight aluminum, ergonomic handle leans against one side of the desk. Psychosomatic limp— a phantom pain in his right leg, just above the knee. Bad when he walked, but didn’t ask for a chair when he stood. DAMN MY LEG! John’s therapist believed the limp and the tremor in his left hand were PTSD—it wasn’t. Doctor John Watson missed the war, so Sherlock Holmes had given him a new one. Sherlock, what happened to my cane? It’s under my bed… and in my palace.
Sherlock stands up and crosses the room. He steps in front of the window and glances through it, just for a moment. Bet you never saw this coming. What would you like me to make him say next? If you don’t stop prying… I’ll burn you. I’ll burn the heart out of you.
Sherlock reaches out and closes the blinds, cutting off the scene. He doesn’t want to see the pool, doesn’t want to see Moriarty, doesn’t want to see John wearing the bomb and the red dots on John’s body. Sherlock turns towards the two armchairs—he has left the couch and the armchairs where they are in reality and hasn’t attached meaning to them. Occasionally it is nice to have a place to lie or sit while he is in his memory palace. There are three jumpers—one on the edge of the couch, one on the back of a chair at the desk and one on John’s armchair. Again, John’s favorites …and there is something new sitting in John’s armchair.
Most of the time Sherlock isn’t exactly aware that he is adding to or referencing his memory palace, it’s like breathing, he doesn’t have to think about doing it to do it. As long as he pauses occasionally to check on the palace things tend to run smoothly and he only needs to really concentrate on the contents of his place when he confronts a real challenge or when he is moving things around.
There is a cat sitting in John’s armchair, although it appears to be more of a kitten… an exceptionally small black cat with emerald green eyes… the cat appears to be sleeping and is curled up in a bit of dark blue fabric. Sherlock tilts his head to one side and concentrates on the kitten, trying to figure out why he would have added it to John’s room.
John would be a good father. He puts up with you, how more difficult could a child be?
Sherlock blinked, look around John’s room and frowned as he looked back down at the kitten. Where had that thought come from? Why is there a cat in here? He closes his eyes and wills himself to delete, to rearrange. I can’t have some random kitten in my memory palace! He opens his eyes. Still there… interesting.
He turns away from the kitten, briefly glances at his violin, which lies on the black armchair and the music stand which is close by. The sheets on the stand look like paintings—art by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso—Edvard Munch’s The Scream. John’s nightmares, they wake him up sometimes, but more often he can’t escape them so easily. Sherlock focuses on the paintings and they shift, becoming sheets of music. Music which seems to help. Further study needed.
High on the wall there is a CCTV camera. He turned Mycroft down when he didn’t even know me. Second time he accepted, but only because I told him to, used all the money on rent, food and a surprise for Mycroft the next time he comes over. John has earned Mycroft’s hesitant respect… although my brother will never admit this. I wonder if John has earned a room in Mycroft’s palace?
The CCTV camera is turned towards the closed glass doors that, in reality, would lead to the kitchen. In the memory palace the doors are just windows, covered in stained glass which seems to be slowly gaining some sort of pattern, one with a good deal of red, black, ivory and dark blue. If Sherlock squints the part of the swirl of colors almost looks like a human, but that humanoid figure is tiny—the size of Sherlock’s hand, and the rest of the stained glass seems to have no rhyme or reason… although Sherlock notices that it has gotten more orderly since John Watson’s room was first constructed.
On the mantel of the fireplace, where in real life the skull resides there is a stone statue of a stylized owl. Athena—Goddess of wisdom, justice, strength, skill… and just warfare. John Watson, quick enough to keep up with me. Shot a man, replied that he wasn’t a very good man. An army doctor, any good? Very good. A crack shot… willing to walk at Sherlock’s side in the hidden war that is London. She would have been a good goddess for John to worship.
Sherlock looks up from the owl, at his own reflection in the mirror that hangs over the fireplace. He blinks and suddenly John is there—standing right behind him. Their eyes meet for a second in the mirror… Sherlock can practically feel the warmth coming off the man. He turns suddenly, but John isn’t there and, when he looks back, John’s reflection is gone as well.
Sherlock once thought that he had found a door that lead from his memory palace to his brothers—several times he had, while under the influence of cocaine, slipped out of his palace and found himself in a grand palace which he felt belonged to his brother… Sherlock swore that he’d even seen his brother walking around that palace. When Sherlock went into rehab he temporarily lost access to a good deal of his memory palace, including the door to Mycroft’s palace. When he regained access he had searched long and hard, but he’d never been able to find the door again. He’d tried once to ‘add’ Mycroft into his room, but the best he’d ever managed to do was a wax like replica of his brother, which he quickly removed.
Slightly disturbed by the hallucination in his own mind Sherlock withdraws, choosing not to wander through his palace to the designated exit. Instead he simply closes his eyes in the memory palace and opens his eyes in the real world. He’s been under for quite some time—the sun has risen outside, but only just and, judging by the lack of noise in the kitchen, John is not up yet.
John wakes up late—a little bit past lunch time. He changes, although he doesn’t plan on going out today and stumbles slightly as he goes down the stairs to the living room of 221B Baker Street. Sherlock is sitting in the black armchair, violin in hand. He’s playing a soft tune, which John believe he is improvising as he stares at the seat of the red armchair. It’s like he’s looking at something, but there’s nothing there.
With a shrug John shuffles into the kitchen and starts making tea, automatically making a second cup for Sherlock—two sugars and a dash of milk, the way Sherlock likes tea… he won’t eat on cases but can usually be persuaded to drink a cup of tea. Once the tea is finished brewing John walks into the living room and sets one cup before Sherlock, who glances at it for a second before going back to his staring and his violin.
John decides to sit down on the couch. He doesn’t want to interrupt the empty space which Sherlock seems to be so interested in. He sets his tea on the coffee table in front of him and glances over at his computer, which Sherlock appears to have been using, although John has no idea why the world’s only consulting detective was looking at photographs of black cats. Also on the table is a small pile of mail, most of it has already been opened. There are three pieces of mail—two are junk mail and one is a postcard from an old army buddy. As John reads the postcard he notices the return address on a letter Sherlock has received.
“Sherlock, why are you getting mail from Wayne Enterprises?” John asks as he picks up the envelope, which is unopened.
“Hmm?” Sherlock turns to look at John, blinks once and then goes back to staring at the red armchair. “Oh, you may open it. Several years ago I provided Rachel Wayne with evidence that William Earle was embezzling money from her company, as well as doing a long list of illegal and generally immoral things. Since then the woman has insisted upon keeping me on retainer and I have seen to several other small matters for her. That—” Sherlock gestures to the envelope with his violin bow, “is a good deal less then she considers my services worth, but Miss Wayne knows I wouldn’t accept anything more substantial.”
John tears the envelope open and pulls out a check… and is immensely glad he wasn’t drinking tea while reading the amount on the check, because otherwise a lot of the living room would be covered in that tea right now.
“This is less then she wanted to pay you?” John manages not to shout as he looks over at Sherlock. “How the hell did you need a flatmate?”
“I told you, I like company when I got out, I think better when I talk aloud and the skull just attracts attention.” Sherlock shrugs before adjusting the violin’s position. “If you’re going out would you get me some lemon juice? I have an experiment I’d like to perform.”
“Do you want lemon juice or actual lemons?” John asks as he pulls on his jacket, slipping the check into a pocket. Told me to open the envelope, so knew I would want to put the check into his account. John guessed at Sherlock’s deductions.
“… actual lemons.” Sherlock decides. “Three should be more then enough, provided we have a juicer.”
“I’ll get one.” John replies as he starts heading down to the street and Sherlock starts playing in earnest.
Up in the living room of 221B Baker Street Sherlock Holmes sits in his armchair, absentmindedly inventing a new melody on his violin in an attempt to help him think as he stares at the empty spot on John’s red armchair where, in his dram palace a black kitten with emerald green eyes is sleeping curled up in Sherlock’s scarf.
There is something Sherlock is missing… but for once Sherlock doesn’t have the faintest idea what it is—well other then the fact that this missing thing somehow involves Doctor John Watson.
The Central Lobby of Westminster Palace, basis for Mycroft's room in Sherlock's Memory Palace: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/London_-_The_Parliament_-_2779.jpg
What Sherlock wanted John’s room to be: the Great Hall at Bart’s: http://www.uni-graz.at/~binder/gt_hall.jpg
The owl statue on the mantle: http://s3.amazonaws.com/readers/2008/10/26/owlofathenacloseup_1.jpg
“Rachel Wayne” comes from another fanfiction of mine, one called "Scilicet..." She’s basically a genderbent Bruce Wayne. At first I just wanted to throw in a tiny Batman crossover, but I couldn’t resist having Rachel in there as well.
Chapter 4: Big Brother Is Watching
Sherlock Holmes’ room in Mycroft’s memory palace is modeled after Notre Dame de Paris. Unlike the other rooms in Mycroft’s palace, Sherlock’s room is entirely lit by candlelight. Hundreds of flickering flames give the vast room an otherworldly feel—walls and ceilings vanish in the gloom, consumed by the deep shadows and the cathedral is turned from a know, defined space into something mysterious, where heights and depths can be guessed at but not known.
The perpetual gloom in Sherlock’s room was not a planned part of Mycroft’s memory palace and it wasn’t always a feature. When Mycroft was young and his memory palace was still quite small the room was brightly illuminated but, as the years passed and he found himself growing apart from his brother, the room grew darker and darker as more and more candles started to become necessary.
Like the real Notre Dame, Sherlock’s room has thousands of beautiful stained glass windows… but to Mycroft’s eternal disappointment those windows have always been dark—as if the sky outside of Sherlock’s cathedral is in the grip of an eternal moonless and starless night. When Sherlock was young and his room was brightly lit the stained glass had been either directly copied from the real Notre Dame or had been non-existent.
It had taken Mycroft years to figure out how to make the windows light up—but he’d only ever been able to illuminate them for a handful of seconds, just long enough to get a general impression of the windows, but not long enough to glimpse the fine details. In the windows of Sherlock’s room Mycroft has glimpsed stunning beauty—abstract patterns, familiar faces, swirling chaos of color, minimalist designs in red and black… even a window covered in mathematic equations written in Sherlock’s distinctive hand.
However even when Mycroft figured out how to light up the stained glass windows there were four windows which, no matter how hard Mycroft tried, always failed to light up, even for one second. They were the four largest windows in Sherlock’s room. Three of those four windows correspond to the three rose windows of Notre Dame, while the fourth is not based upon real life, but is placed above where the alter of Notre Dame would be. Even though direction is meaningless in a memory palace and can change from room to room or even within the same room, Mycroft has always labeled the four windows with the directions that somehow feel correct—north south, east and west. Four perfectly circular windows whose stained glass remains frustratingly dark.
When John Watson accepts Mycroft’s offer the elder Holmes brother is suddenly aware that something has changed dramatically inside his memory palace—like Sherlock, Mycroft has learned how to update his palace without conscious thought. As soon as Mycroft has a moment to himself, he closes his eyes and retreats into his memory palace and finds himself standing in front of the door to Sherlock’s room. The first change that Mycroft notices is in the hallways outside of Sherlock’s room.
The door to John Watson’s room—which used to be located in a different section of his palace, next to Lestrade’s and Anthea’s—is now directly across the hall from the door to Sherlock’s room. Unbeknownst to Mycroft, the room which he has chosen for John Hamish Watson is exactly the same room that Sherlock has chosen. In the minds of both Holmes brothers John Watson is 221B Baker Street’s main room. This rearrangement of John’s room’s location doesn’t really surprise Mycroft—he may have joked about expecting a “happy announcement” when he first met John, but he has been expecting, been waiting and (although he won’t admit it to anyone else) hoping for just such an announcement (or rather for confirmation from the people he has assigned to monitor the relevant CCTV feeds) since shortly before the Pool incident.
The second change, the more striking change, the actually surprising change, is apparent the instant that Mycroft steps inside Sherlock’s room. He has to stop, gasp and reach out with one hand to steady himself against the stone wall.
Sherlock’s stained glass windows are illuminated. Every single one of them is lit from behind by a warm golden light, which causes the windows to throw colored beams of light across the rough stone floor. The way the light, which are like colored shadows, falls upon the objects that Mycroft has filled Sherlock’s room with is perfect, as if Mycroft had known how the colors would fall and had planned the arrangement of the room with those pools of colored shadows in mind.
As soon as he recovers from the shock of seeing such beautiful bright colors in Sherlock’s room, Mycroft is moving to look at the four circular windows which he has never glimpsed before. The nearest window is actually right above the door, so Mycroft takes a few steps into the room and looks up at what he calls the west window, which would correspond to the west rose window in Norte Dame, the one which is mostly hidden by the organ.
The west window is divided in half by a thin strip of metal… on either side of the strip a man stands, with his back to the metal. On the left side of the window John Watson stands in profile, wearing jeans and his familiar black coat. He holds a gun in his hand, which is resting at his side and his cane lies forgotten on the ground next to his feet, the metal starting to rust and grass growing around it. Behind John the sky is filled with a highly stylized sun and it’s rays.
On the right side another man stands, also in profile, also facing away from the metal strip… but instead of details, instead of colors, the man on the right hand is nothing but a black outline. Behind him the sky is filed with a stylized moon and stars. At first Mycroft thinks the blacked out man is Sherlock—since he is taller than John and more thinly built… but the outline doesn’t look like Sherlock, no matter how hard Mycroft stares at the window and thinks of his younger brother.
Abandoning his study of the west window, Mycroft quickly makes his way though Sherlock’s room, stopping in front of the south window. He is not surprised to find that John Watson is staring back at him from the stained glass. John is not standing at attention, but there is a formal feel to his posture… there is a soft smile on his face and his eyes are warm. Behind John rays of sun and flames which seem to flicker come together to create the outline of an anatomically correct heart.
Smiling at John Watson’s stained glass image Mycroft turns to look at the window directly across from the south window—which of course he calls the north window. He finds himself looking at the same blacked out figure who occupied the west window’s right side. The man is now facing forward, but again he is completely black and Mycroft can not identify him. Behind the man, who stands in a similar position to John’s position in the south window, the sky is filled with moonbeams and what looks like flowing water… which form the same anatomically correct heart as John’s rays of sun and flames do.
He stares at this window for several seconds, trying in vain to identify the man, before giving up (for now) and turning towards the final window—the east window, the stained glass which Mycroft has created above Notre Dame’s alter…
In the center of the east window Sherlock stands tall, wearing his usual coat and scarf and staring out at Mycroft, his eyes seeming to follow his brother as Mycroft shifts slightly. Sherlock’s arms are spread, reminding Mycroft for a second of an image of Christ crucified, but his arms aren’t high enough for that—instead one of Sherlock’s hands rests upon the shoulders of two men who are standing on each side of him.
On Sherlock’s right side is John Watson, who is turned slightly towards the center. John’s left arm hangs at his side, while his right hand reaches out to grasp the hand of the man standing to Sherlock’s left—who is the same blacked out man from the north window, the same blacked out man from the right hand side of the west window. Sherlock’s body divides the window in two with his body—on the right hand side the background is John’s sun, on the left is the mystery man’s moon and stars.
Strangely the thing which Mycroft notices about the east window is the space between John and the mystery man, the space directly in front of Sherlock… it’s as if there is something that is supposed to be there, something that is missing.
As he ponders the new mysteries that the stained glass in Sherlock’s cathedral have revealed, Mycroft finds himself turning back towards the south window—John’s window. Despite all his observations of John and Sherlock, both in person, through CCTV and other assorted methods, Mycroft cannot be entirely sure just what the two men’s relationship is. They appear too close to be “just” roommates or colleges… but there is no evidence of sexual and/or romantic attraction from either side.
This is not unusual when it comes to Sherlock—there was one time that Mycroft believed Sherlock had an actual romantic and sexual attraction to someone, but he’d been forced to give his brother the wrong information, so as to protect him. Since that point Sherlock has never seemed to actually grasp or understand romantic/sexual attraction beyond a set of “symptoms”… but Mycroft is beginning to suspect that John Watson might just be able to translate affection and attraction into something that Sherlock could understand.
Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes were more alike than most people thought. The handful of people who had met both brothers and the slightly larger circle of people who had only met one but knew about the other, tended to assume that Mycroft had gotten all the social skills that Sherlock lacked. In truth neither man actually “got” the social skills… Mycroft just happened to understand the need for those skills and was willing to play along for the comfort of society. Mycroft was the brother who was able to see and understand the tangled web of normality… and Mycroft was the one who was tasked with trying to explain that web to Sherlock. Mycroft tried to make his little brother play along and silently celebrated when he succeeded.
This was something that Mycroft had always done, something that he had only become aware of when he was nine years old and Sherlock (then five) had announced, in the middle of dinner, that their father was sleeping with his secretary… and then proceeded to be confused and surprised when Mummy started hurling plates and silverware at the man. Mycroft had pulled Sherlock aside and done his best to explain why their mother had reacted the way she did and, while his explanation hadn’t completely satisfied Sherlock, it had prevented him from telling anyone else about the affair.
(Within a week Mummy divorced and completely ruined their biological father’s name and reputation. Nothing had really changed for Sherlock and Mycroft—except for the fact that they used their mother’s maiden name and their father was now toiling away in some menial job.)
It was at that point that Mycroft Holmes realized that his job—or at least his most important job—would be to protect his little brother and translate the world so that Sherlock could at least have a chance of understanding. Mycroft had been the only person who could make Sherlock at least try to restrain himself so that he would fit into the world which the Holmes brothers found themselves trapped in.
Lestrade definitely helped. The Detective Inspector at least understood Sherlock better then the average person, but he couldn’t actually translate for Sherlock… but John could. John was the first person, outside of the Holmes Family, who understood Sherlock and was at least partially fluent in Sherlock’s language.
John’s understand of Sherlock scares Mycroft—although he rarely admits this, even to himself. He hadn’t been joking when he’d said that John Watson could be the making or breaking of Sherlock… something which the stained glass windows of Sherlock’s cathedral have confirmed. Those circular windows, where John Watson and the mystery man dwell, are the most fragile part of Sherlock—the part that could so easily be shattered. If something goes wrong, if John either removes himself from or is removed from Sherlock’s life… the consequences could be too horrible to even contemplate.
Mycroft hopes that the mystery man, the one who hold John’s hand in the east window, will be strong enough to keep the awesome forces that are Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from tearing themselves apart… but another part of Mycroft’s mind rejects this hope.
What if it’s the other way around? Mycroft asks himself. What if John Watson is the one keeping Sherlock and the mystery man from destroying each other?
Mycroft often finds himself standing in Sherlock’s cathedral, contemplating the four circular stained glass windows… most of the time he spends looking at the three windows where the mystery man appears. As time passes and John Watson’s blog updates with more and more cases solved by Sherlock, the man slowly starts to gain tiny details in the black glass that makes up his body. There still isn’t enough detail for Mycroft to recognize the man, although he has been through pictures of everyone that John and Sherlock know. Nothing fits with what Mycroft sees in the stained glass—a man slightly taller and heavier then Sherlock, with short hair styled differently then John. Even after what seems like hours of staring at the three windows, the only thing that Mycroft can say is that the man might be wearing a suit and carrying a cane.
When Mycroft summons John and Sherlock to Buckingham Palace he briefly stops in Sherlock’s room mentally while physically he continues walking towards the two men… only to find that, once again, something has changed in Sherlock’s cathedral. In each of the four circular windows a scroll has appeared and each scroll has a handful of Latin words written upon it.
In the west window, beneath the feet of John and the mystery man: Munit Vicit Et Altera Haec – One Conquers And The Other Defends.
In the south window, suspended in the sky above John’s head: Miles Gloriosus – Glorious Soldier.
In the north window, held aloft by the stars above the head of the mystery man: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est – Knowledge Itself Is Power.
In the east window, beneath the feet of Sherlock, John and the mystery man, are four words which, Mycroft is forced to admit, terrify him. Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia. – United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
Mycroft doesn’t have time to allow himself to think too deeply upon these new addition to Sherlock’s room. Already he is standing in front of the last door that separates him from John and Sherlock… shaking his head ever so slightly, Mycroft steps out of his memory palace and into the room.
“Here to see the Queen?” John asks Sherlock, who turns slightly as he notices Mycroft’s entrance.
“Oh, apparently yes.” Sherlock replies and the two men start giggling like children… something which Mycroft finds strangely refreshing—he can’t remember the last time he saw his brother laughing. (The time after the taxi cab serial killer doesn’t count—John was responsible for that.)
“Just once, can you two behave like grownups?” Mycroft sighs, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the two. Why are you only wearing a sheet Sherlock? He wonders, averting his eyes.
“We solve crimes, I blog about it and he,” John smirks as he gestures to Sherlock, “forgets his pants… so I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.”
“I was in the middle of a case.” Sherlock all but growls at his brother, pulling his sheet a little tighter around his body.
“What, the hiker and the backfire?” Mycroft arches one eyebrow as Sherlock glares at him. “I glanced at the police report… bit obvious, surely?”
“Transparent.” Sherlock shrugs, causing the sheet to slip a little around his shoulders.
John looks between the two brothers, obviously startled, and then his gaze loses some of its focus as he mentally reviews the crime scene, trying to see what the brothers have seen.
“Time to move on then.” Mycroft finds himself smiling slightly at the look of confusion on the doctor’s face as he leans over and picks up his brother’s clothing… only to have Sherlock ignore him. “We are in Buckingham Palace, the very heart of the British nation. Sherlock Holmes —put your trousers on!”
“What for?” Sherlock inquires… by now both he and Mycroft are watching John out of the corner of their eyes, as the doctor struggles to keep from cracking up at their behavior.
“Your client.” Mycroft replies, keeping a polite smile on his face. For some reason, after looking at John, the older Holmes has a strange desire to start laughing— I suppose the situation is quite absurd. Mycroft thinks as Sherlock stands and demands to know who his client is, somehow managing to look completely serious despite the fact that he’s only wearing a white bed sheet.
When Sherlock finally agree to take the case, to go after Irene Adler and her photographs, he strolls out of the room, leaving John to try and politely bid farewell as Mycroft silently watches his brother and flat mate leave. He remembers how John’s eyes widened slightly during his exchange with Sherlock—Sex doesn’t alarm me. How would you know? Mycroft wonders if John will understand the message behind Mycroft’s “joke”… and he hopes that John will use that information to better understand Sherlock.
As he leaves the Palace to resume his usual duties, Mycroft thinks about the ashtray which Sherlock had stolen and hidden in his coat. He wonders when Sherlock will pull it out and present it to John… Most likely when John asks how he knew about the smoking. Mycroft decides. Mycroft can tell that the stealing of the ashtray was done with the intention of presenting said ashtray to John—after all the doctor had joked that he was “resisting the urge to steal an ashtray”. This is highly unusual for Sherlock who, in general, doesn’t give presents unless Mycroft or Mummy are forcing him to. The last time that Sherlock actually acquired a present for someone on his own was during Mycroft’s first year in college. Sherlock had arrived late to Mycroft’s birthday party, smiling at his big brother and holding a horribly wrapped present under one arm.
Sherlock had gone out and purchased Mycroft a correspondence kit after one of Mycroft remarked in one of his letters that he’d run out of proper writing paper and hadn’t had time to purchase more. The kit was beautiful—15th century Italian paper from the same mill that had produced Napoleon’s wedding invitations, with a beautiful hardwood box to keep everything organized. Mycroft still used the box to hold the letters Sherlock sent him before Sherlock suddenly stopped writing in Mycroft’s third year in college.
Mycroft is sitting in his car, reading over some files which Anthea (currently calling herself Syn) can’t deal with on her own when his phone vibrates. The elder Holmes pauses and pulls out his phone almost immeditly—only a handful of people have access to this number, the rest must all go through Syn or one of Mycroft’s more conventional secretaries.
SERIOUSLY?!? Oh, Sherlock stole an astray. Sorry, it seems I can’t take him anywhere.
Mycroft finds himself smiling at his phone as he composes his reply to the good doctor. He knows exactly what John is questioning him about and is amused that apparently John has waited until he was back at 221B to text Mycroft.
Seriously. I’m sure we can spare one ashtray. Don’t worry, he’s better with you around.
He really is. Mycroft mentally sighs, thinking of the scrolls that have appeared on the stained glass windows of Sherlock’s room. If he were the sort of man to pray to a higher power then Mycroft would pray that Sherlock and John find their mystery man… and that they find him soon.
Author’s Notes: This website was a great help when I was working out what went in each circular window in Sherlock’s room.
In writing this chapter I relied heavily upon ariandevere’s transcript of A Scandal in Belgravia, which can be found here.
Sherlock’s gift to Mycroft was inspired by this. (Which I kinda want.)
Chapter 5: Not With A Bang But A Whimper
Title inspired by / taken from TS Eliot's "The Hollow Men"
Sherlock isn’t exactly sulking, but John has the feeling that he’s quickly approaching either a fit of sulking or just a plain old fashioned fit due to the fact that Mycroft has managed to “force” Sherlock into working on a case… a case which Sherlock doesn’t want to admit that he is actually finding pretty interesting.
In John’s experience the best way to distract Sherlock from sulking is to give him an opportunity to show off… so instead of commenting on the fact that they were just in Buckingham Palace John decides to get Sherlock talking about his deductions.
“How did you know about the smoking?” John asks, breaking the silence in the cab that is taking them to 221B Baker Street.
“The evidence was right under your nose John.” Sherlock replies, a fond smile appearing on his face. “As ever, you see but do not observe.”
“Observe what?” John asks, frowning as he mentally reviews what he’d seen at the Palace.
“The ashtray.” Sherlock replies as he pulls said object out from his coat. John can’t help but laugh as Sherlock tosses the ashtray in the air, allowing it to flip before he catches it and holds it out towards John. The doctor sighs as he takes the ashtray from the consulting detective. He finds himself thinking of how cats will leave dead mice as “presents” for their owners… or how little boys tend to punch girls that they fancy.
When they reach 221B John finds himself sitting on a chair in the kitchen as Sherlock proceeds to make a mess of his room—throwing clothing around and occasionally emerging from his room wearing increasingly random outfits that John didn’t know the consulting detective even owned. John suspects that Sherlock has actually stolen some of these outfits. John has to bite his lip to keep himself from laughing at the most recent outfit Sherlock is considering, which involves a cow print vest and a blond wig. As Sherlock rejects this outfit and ducks back into his room John finds himself going over Mycroft and Sherlock’s little verbal sparing session at the palace… actually he finds himself drifting back to a certain part of the Holmes brothers’ conversation.
Don’t be alarmed. It’s to do with sex.
Sex doesn’t alarm me.
How would you know?
Once, while out at a bar with Anderson, Lestrade and Donovan, John had found himself listening to a very drunk Sally Donovan explain her theory that Sherlock was asexual. John hadn’t contradicted Sally, mostly because she was really drunk, but also because John did think that Sherlock could be asexual… or he could just not be interested in anyone… at times John was even willing to believe that the consulting detective really was “married to his work”. However whenever he actually thought about it for any length of time, John seemed to keep coming back to the idea that Sherlock was using either his asexuality or his work as a way of… well hiding in a world where far too many people called him a “freak”… or worse.
However John had always assumed that Sherlock would have had sex—at least once. After all, it seemed like something that the “world’s only consulting detective” would need to know about.
As Sherlock roots around in the chaos that he has transformed his room into, John sends off a text to Mycroft, whose number had mysteriously appeared on John’s phone a few days after he accepted the elder Holmes’ employment offer.
SERIOUSLY?!? (John is pretty confident that Mycroft will know what he’s talking about.) Oh, Sherlock stole an ashtray. (The ashtray in question is currently sitting in the center of the kitchen table... John is thinking about cleaning it out and putting nuts or maybe candy in it.) Sorry, it seems I can’t take him anywhere.
-JW (Sherlock has gotten John to type out so many of his texts that John has started to sign his own texts… even if he still thinks it’s a bit stupid, especially when texting someone who probably has John’s number stored in their phone.)
“Why are you playing dress up?” John asks as he waits for a response from Mycroft and a few more clothes go flying around Sherlock’s bedroom, one shirt actually spilling out on to the kitchen floor.
“I’m going into battle John… I need the right armor.” Sherlock replies, stepping out of his room wearing a large yellow hi-vis jacket. He turns around, looks down at himself and frowns. “No.”
John sighs, leans back in his seat and wonders if he’s going to have to play dress up, or if Sherlock already has an outfit prepared for him… frowning at that mental image, John looks down at his phone exactly two seconds before it vibrates and Mycroft’s reply appears on the screen.
Seriously. I’m sure we can spare one ashtray. Don’t worry, he’s better with you around.
John blinks, shakes his head a little and re-reads Mycroft’s text. It doesn’t change.
Sherlock Holmes is a virgin.
John blinks again as Sherlock comes rushing out of his room—wearing what looks like exactly the same outfit he was wearing when he started trying on clothes—and John finds himself being pulled out of 221B, down the stairs and into a cab which, like all the other cabs in London, seems to magically appear the second that Sherlock raises his arm.
Sherlock Holmes is a virgin.
Even in his own head the words sound very, very strange… but at the same time they also ring true. As the cab takes Sherlock and John across town to Irene Adler’s current lodgings, John can’t stop glancing at Sherlock out of the corner of his eye, trying to figure out how Sherlock has managed to go through life without shagging someone. Somehow John manages to pull his thoughts away from the fact that SHERLOCK HOLMES IS A VIRGIN and on to the more pressing issue of Irene Adler.
“So, what’s the plan?” John asks Sherlock.
“We know her address.” Sherlock replies, prompting John to start trying to do his own deductions.
“So what, we just ring her doorbell?”
“Exactly.” Sherlock smirks, before he leans forward and addresses the cab driver. “just here, please.”
“… you didn’t even change your clothes.” John notes as the cab comes to a stop and the two climb out.
“Then it’s time to add a splash of color.” Sherlock replies, a mad grin appearing on his face—the sort of grin that tells John that his flatmate is about to be completely ad utterly mad… but also insanely and somewhat improbably brilliant.
Sherlock doesn’t quite run and doesn’t quite walk down the road and off on to a narrow side street. He pulls off his scarf, stops walking and turns around to face John.
“Are we here?” John asks, looking around and trying to guess which home is Adler’s.
“Two streets away actually.” Sherlock notes, shifting slightly as he stuffs his scarf into a pocket of his coat that it shouldn’t really fit into. “But this’ll do…”
“For what?” John asks with a frown.
“Punch me in the face.” Sherlock replies, gesturing to his left cheek.
“Punch you?” John stammers, taking a step back from his flatemate.
“Yes.” Sherlock sighs, gesturing to his cheek again. “Punch me in the face… didn’t you hear me?”
John can’t resist making a snarky comment. “Oh, I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking… but it’s usually sub-text.”
“Oh, for God’s sake.” Sherlock groans, the sort of groan he usually reserves for situations in which he is forced to have a semi-polite conversation with Anderson. Then Sherlock does something which—hopefully—he will later realize was not a good idea.
Sherlock punches John… he punches John in the face.
John reels back from the blow—for a skinny man who never seemed to eat or sleep, Sherlock was quite strong—and before he can stop himself, the former army doctor straightens up and punches Sherlock, somehow managing to hit the consulting detective right in the center of his left cheek. Sherlock hit the ground and John hissed in pain, flexing his hand and examining his knuckles… he glanced over at Sherlock as he twists so he is sitting on the ground and John notes that his flatmate now had a cut on his cheek which was bleeding slightly.
“Thank you. That was—” Sherlock is cut off by John extending his left hand to Sherlock. The consulting detective takes the offered hand and his blogger helps him stand up. As Sherlock stands he inspects the wound.
“You wanna remember Sherlock…” John sighs, looking away from the taller man. “I was a soldier. I killed people.”
“You were a doctor!” Sherlock protests as he reaches up and buttons the top two buttons on his shirt.
“I had bad days!” John replies, crossing his arms as he watches Sherlock pulls a plastic clerical collar out of one of his pockets and fiddles with it until it stays in place around his neck. “So if you’re a priest… what’s the rest of the plan?”
John really wishes that he could say this plan—where Sherlock is a priest and John is a good Samaritan with a box of matches—is one of the crazier plans that Sherlock has thought up… unfortunately a certain case involving a ballet dancer, a ginger monk and twelve kilos of cherry ice cream forced John to revaluate his scale of insane plans. (He hadn’t even been able to think about cherries, monks, ballet or dry ice for three weeks without laughing so hard it hurt.)
But despite the existence of that and other much crazier plans (some of which had been crazy from the start, some of which had craziness suddenly thrust upon them) this plan was still pretty mad… so John isn’t at all surprised when he finds himself standing in the doorway of Irene Adler’s sitting room, with a very naked woman, who he assumes to be Irene Adler, staring at him. The dominatrix is kneeling in front of Sherlock, who is sitting on the only couch in the room with a look on his face as if he’s just watched Mycroft go running through the room in a tutu and combat boots.
“I’ve missed something, haven’t I?” John sighs as he steps into the room, allowing the door to close behind him. He notices that Irene has Sherlock’s plastic collar clenched in her teeth. As John watches she removes the collar and smiles brightly.
“Please,” She gestures to the couch and a nearby armchair, “sit down.”
John glances at Sherlock, who is fidgeting slightly—something that John knows is the same as a “normal” person bouncing their knee hard enough to shake their entire body. The world’s only consulting detective is very clearly not comfortable… Has Sherlock even seen a naked woman, outside of a murder investigation? John wonders as Irene steps away from Sherlock. After thinking about it for a second, John sits down on the opposite end of the couch from the consulting detective.
“If you’d like some tea I can call the maid.” Irene offers as she gracefully sits down in a nearby armchair, crossing her arms and folding her legs so that she is at least partially covered.
“I had some at the palace.” Sherlock replies.
“I know.” Irene smirks.
John knows that Adler expects him to stare at her—or at least do the “oh I swear I’m not looking at you” thing that men do when they see an attractive woman… but for some reason John finds himself more inclined to look at Sherlock. As the doctor watches, Sherlock stares at Irene Adler with what John has started to call “consulting detective vision”… but instead of rattling off his deductions, Sherlock blinks and turns that same gaze upon John. John frowns as Sherlock stares at him for a few seconds, before nodding and shifting his gaze back to Adler again… only to frown ever so slightly.
It’s not working. John realizes as he places his bowl of water and napkin, which he had been planning on using to clean Sherlock’s face, on the coffee table in front of him. For some reason Sherlock can’t read her—and that’s throwing him off. He looked at me to make sure he wasn’t having some sort of fit.
“Do you know what the biggest problem is with a disguise, Mr. Holmes?” Irene asks, shifting slightly in her seat when Sherlock doesn’t answer her. “However hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”
John has to bite his lip to stop from laughing as his mind instantly flashes back to Moriarty’s “Jim from I.T.” disguise… but his laughter is quickly killed as Moriarty’s voice rings in his head—playing Jim from I.T. Playing gay. Did you like the little touch with the underwear?
John wonders where the criminal mastermind (who Sherlock has started to call “the Napoleon of Crime” while John prefers the simpler and, in his opinion, more descriptive title of “the douche-canoe”) is hiding…
He wonders if “Jim” ended up making the person on the other end of the phone rich… or if the person who had (probably) saved Sherlock and John’s lives is now dead and the consulting criminal has a pair of human skin shoes lying around his house.
What would human skin shoes even look like? John thinks, before he is brought out of his musings by Sherlock’s voice.
“You think I’m a vicar with a bleeding face?” Sherlock asks, a smirk on his face as he undoes the top two buttons of his shirt.
“No.” Irene replies, a very similar smirk upon her face. “I think that you’re damage, delusional and you believe in a higher power—in your case, it’s yourself.”
Damaged? Maybe… but who isn’t? Delusional? Never. Believes in himself? Yes, but with good reason! John thinks as he watches the dominatrix lean forward in her seat, her gaze fixed upon Sherlock Holmes—this makes John think of how a dog will drool at the sight of a nice big bone.
“Oh… and somebody loves you.” Irene Adler adds, her gaze shifting slightly so that she is clearly looking at John. “Why, if I had to punch that face, I’d avoid your nose and teeth too.”
Oh… John blinks. God. Sherlock’s right—I am an idiot.
And just like that, everything falls into place.
A thousand little pieces of evidence, a million tiny but indisputable facts, a billion giant brightly colored arrows all pointing the way towards one and only one conclusion that, somehow, John has managed to ignore for weeks.
I break up with my girlfriend. I don’t flirt with that woman in the bar. I look at him when there is a naked woman in the same room… yet, despite all of these stupid signs, including the fact that I killed someone to protect him, it takes a naked dominatrix to get me to realize that I…
That I’m in love with Sherlock Holmes.
And dear god—a naked dominatrix got me to realize that I’m in love with my flatemate! That just sums up my life, doesn’t it? Improbable, ridiculous and more than a bit mad… just like Sherlock.
John forces himself to abandon that train of thought and, glaring at Irene, he laughs. It’s the sort of laugh which men use to say “I’m not gay and even if I was that idea is ridiculous, so shut up”… and it looks like Irene believes his act, while Sherlock—well Sherlock doesn’t seem to have been paying attention to the dominatrix’s words.
“Could you put something on, please? Er—anything at all.” John grabs the napkin he’d been planning to clean Sherlock’s face with and holds it out to Irene. “A napkin perhaps?”
“Why?” Irene smirks as she flutters her eyes at John. If the doctor hadn’t just realize he was in love with the world’s only consulting detective (and had been for some time if he was honest with himself) this probably would have made him blush, or at least feel a little flustered. “Are you feeling exposed?”
“I don’t think John knows where to look.” Sherlock remarks as he stands up. He elegantly shrugs off his coat and holds it out towards Irene.
John keeps his gaze fixed on Irene, but he is actually watching Sherlock out of the corner of his eye—he expects that Sherlock will glance over at him and suddenly deduce the nature of the earth shattering fact that John has so recently discovered… but Sherlock doesn’t look at John. Instead the consulting detective watches, without any apparent interest, as Irene Adler takes his coat and wraps it around herself.
Sherlock doesn’t know. John realizes, his eyes widening ever so slightly. He doesn’t know that I love—I’m doomed.
I’m in love with a genius who has never been shagged and (probably) doesn’t understand sentiment, let alone emotion or love! Of all the people in the world, I had to fall head over heels for a “high functioning sociopath” who can see everything but the fact that his flatmate has managed to fall in love with him. FUCK. I’m doomed.
And Jesus Christ Mycroft knew before I did, didn’t he? No wonder he chose the day after I broke up with Sarah to offer me a job! I bet he somehow knew that I’d figure it out today… if Sherlock knew he’d sulk for years.
“No…” Irene laughs as she sits back down in her armchair, now clad in Sherlock’s coat. Her laughter draws John back into the conversation, which he supposes is more like a battle where Sherlock fights using wits, Irene fights with her body and sexuality and John is the referee who has forgotten most of the rules. “I think John knows exactly where to look… but I’m not sure about you.”
“If I wanted to look at naked women I’d borrow John’s laptop.” Sherlock replies, abandoning the couch to stand next to the fireplace.
“You do borrow my laptop.” John notes, trying for an affronted tone but ending up smiling softly at Sherlock. Besides, I don’t actually have photos of naked women… god, seriously, why didn’t I realize I loved him earlier?
“I confiscate it.” Sherlock protests, sending a sort of mock glare at John.
The only hint that Sherlock can’t pick up. John mentally sighs. He can tell my sister’s an alcoholic just by looking at her phone, but he’s completely oblivious when it comes to affection. I should have realized that when I saw him talking to Molly… how the hell can I translate this into something that Sherlock can understand? I mean, I can’t even describe love to myself, how am I supposed to explain it to Sherlock?
God, any way I look at this the result is the same… I, John Hamish Watson, am completely and utterly in love with Sherlock Holmes… and therefore I am DOOMED.
Author's Note: Thanks, once again, to ariandevere's transcript of "A Scandal In Belgravia", which can be found HERE.
Chapter 6: Ignoring The Breadcrumbs
While a tiny part of John’s brain remains stuck in a loop, endless repeating “DOOMED! DOOMED!” in a voice that reminds him of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, the former army doctor has managed to turn a great deal of his attention to Sherlock and Irene’s ongoing conversation. That conversation quickly turns into Irene simply demanding to know everything Sherlock has deduced about the hiker with the bashed in head… which, for some reason, makes John think about how Sherlock had looked, wrapped up in his sheet, sitting on a couch in Buckingham Palace… which are quickly followed by images of Mycroft stepping on the sheet, only this time Sherlock doesn’t manage to catch it and—DOOMED! DOOMED! DOOMED! DOOMED! DOOMED!
“How was he killed?” Irene asks as John imagines throwing a bucket of water at the little voice, which seems to get it to shut up.
“That’s not why I’m here.” Sherlock protests.
“No—you’re here for the photographs. But that’s never going to happen and since we’re here just chatting away…” Irene trails off with a seductive smirk on her face.
“That story hasn’t been on the news yet… so how do you know about it?” John asks. He isn’t really surprised that Irene Adler knows about the dead hiker.
“I know one of the policemen.” Irene explains. “Well… I know what he likes.”
“So you like policemen?” John inquires, honestly curious.
“I like detective stories… and detectives.” Irene remarks, her eyes shifting towards Sherlock once again. “Brainy’s the new sexy.”
Oh it certainly is… though it doesn’t hurt that the man’s gorgeous. John thinks as he follows Irene’s gaze to Sherlock, who stares back at John, his head tilted slightly to one side, a thoughtful look on his face—the sort of look that Sherlock usually gets when he encounters a problem that even he needs some time to solve. So is he trying to figure out me, or just looking at me while he tries to figure out her? John wonders.
“Position of the car relative to the hiker at the time of the backfire.” Sherlock explains, his gaze still fixed on John, although to Irene Adler it probably looks like the consulting detective is looking at both of them. “That and the fact that the death blow was to the back of the head… that’s all you need to know.”
“Okay.” Irene blinks, confusion clear upon her face. “So tell me—how was he murdered?”
“He wasn’t.” Sherlock replies.
“You don’t think it was murder?” Irene asks.
“I know it wasn’t.” Sherlock sighs, obviously frustrated that he has to clarify this for Adler.
“How?” Irene leans forward, clearly frustrated at Sherlock’s apparent reluctance to explain his deductions.
Well you weren’t listening to him! You should have asked, ‘so how did he die’ or suggested some theory… I should know. John thinks, a soft smirk appearing on his face. I speak Sherlock. But the moment that John thinks this an image of Sherlock and Mycroft pops into his head and he has to revise that statement… I guess I should say that I speak Holmes, although I think my Sherlock is a bit better then my Mycroft.
“The same way I know that the victim was an excellent sportsman, recently returned from foreign travel and that the photographers I’m looking for are in this room.” Sherlock replies.
“Okay… but how?” Irene asks, a bit of a growl slipping in along with clear wonder and a slight amount of awe. Do I look like that? When I get lost in Sherlock’s deductions? John wonders.
“So they are in this room. Thank you.” Sherlock smirks as he crosses his arms in front of his chest and turns back to John. “John, man the door. Let no one in.”
And that’s my cue. John nods silently and leaves the room, making sure that the door closes behind him. I guess it’s time to indulge my inner pyromaniac. He thinks as he grabs a magazine off a nearby table and pulls out the box of matches that Sherlock had gotten at Buckingham Palace. Due to the wail of the fire alarm John can’t really hear what is going on inside the sitting room, but from what little he can hear it sounds like Sherlock’s plan is working.
John finds himself drifting back to the conversation he and Sherlock had in the alley, after he’d punched the consulting detective… “Fire exposes our priorities. On hearing a smoke alarm a mother will look towards her child—Irene Adler isn’t a mother, so she will look to the hiding place of that which is most precious to her.”
Eventually Sherlock calls out to him, confirming that their plan has worked. John makes sure the magazine is completely extinguished before he looks up at the fire alarm, trying to figure out how to get it to shut up… and that’s when everything goes pear-shaped.
Three men appear at the top of the stairs—all of the men carry guns and the second John sees them one of the men uses his gun to shoot and silence the fire alarm. The other two men rush forward, their weapons trained on John, who instantly raises his hands above his head with a small sigh… he should have known that something would go wrong. After all, something almost always does when Sherlock Holmes is involved.
Soon John finds himself kneeling on the floor next to Irene Alder. Both he and Irene have guns pressed to the back of their heads while the third man, who appears to be the leader of the group, has his gun pointed at Sherlock.
“Do you want me on the floor too?” Sherlock asks as he raises his hands over his head.
“No sir.” The leader of the group says, revealing an American accent. “I want you to open the safe.”
“American…” Sherlock notes, his head tilting to once side as he glances towards Irene and John. “Interesting. Why do you care?”
“Sir, the safe, now please.” The leader growls, while his two partners remain silent and their guns don’t move from the back of Irene and John’s heads.
“I don’t know the code.” Sherlock calmly replies, frowning so slightly that John doesn’t think Irene or the three American men have noticed that Sherlock is actually expressing an emotion.
“We’ve been listening.” The leader informs Sherlock. “She said she told you.”
“Well if you’ve been listening then you’d know that she didn’t.” Sherlock snaps back.
Don’t argue with men with guns! John wants to growl at Sherlock, but he stays silent because… well there is an American with a gun pointed at his neck and John would rather not get shot again. Once was quite enough, thank you very much.
“I’m assuming that I missed something.” The man replies, a smirk appearing on his face. “From your reputation, I’m assuming you didn’t Mister Holmes.”
“Oh for God’s sake!” John growls. “She’s the one who knows the code. Ask her!”
“Yes sir.” John can practically hear the American roll his eyes. “She also knows the code that automatically calls the police and sets off the burglar alarm… I’ve learned not to trust this women.”
“Mr. Holmes doesn’t—” Irene begins, only to be cut off by the American’s leader.
“Shut up!” He snaps, turning away from Sherlock and waving his gun at Irene Adler. “One more word out of you—just one—and I will decorate that wall with the inside of your head. That, for me, will not be a hardship.”
Sherlock glares at the leader of the Americans—the same glare that John has seen the consulting detective turn on Anderson and Donavon time and time again… although there is a bit of the glare that Sherlock used on Moriarty.
“Mr. Archer.” The leader calls out and John feels the man behind him shift slightly. “At the count of three, shoot Doctor Watson.”
“What?” John gasps, his eyes instantly going to Sherlock.
“I don’t have the code!” Sherlock says at almost the exact same time as John. His eyes dart between the leader of the Americans and his flatmate.
John shivers as he feels the end of the gun press against the back of his head. He draws a shaky breath when he hears the gun being cocked—but his eyes don’t leave Sherlock’s, not Even for a second. Sherlock stares right back at John with real, honest to god terror in his eyes… the same terror which John has previously glimpsed at the Pool when the consulting detective realized that the former army doctor was wearing a bomb and had a sniper rifle aiming at him.
“One.” The man doesn’t even look at John as he starts counting.
“I don’t know the code!” Sherlock shouts, his hands clenching into fists.
“Two.” The man continues counting, as if he can’t heard Sherlock’s protests.
“She didn’t tell me!” Sherlock screams. “I don’t know it!”
“Oh, I’m prepared to believe you any second now.” The leader of the Americans says with a smirk.
John wants to keep his eyes open—if he’s going to be shot, if he’s going to die, then he’d prefer that Sherlock be the last thing he sees—but it’s becoming harder and harder to keep his eyes open. John hasn’t been this scared since the moment the red dot of a sniper rifle appeared on Sherlock’s head at the Pool… so it’s understandable that John can’t stop his eyes from closing as he struggles to try and prepare himself for the worst.
“No, stop!” Sherlock screams and John’s eyes snap open.
For a second Sherlock just stares at John, then the consulting detective whirls around and focuses all his attention on the safe’s keypad. John can almost see the wheels turning in Sherlock’s head as his mind struggles to pick up on whatever stupid little clue Irene has given him.
It would be something he’d see, but not understand. John thinks as he stares at the back of Sherlock’s head. Irene Adler gets that he’s not like other blokes… but at the same time she doesn’t really get it. So something a normal bloke might see—but not assign numbers to?
After a second Sherlock reaches out and punches in two numbers on the keypad. He hesitates for a second before punching in another two. The leader of the three Americans takes a step towards the consulting detective, who hesitates once more before he punches in the final two numbers…
The safe beeps, the sound horribly loud in the tense silence of the room and unlocks. Out of the corner of his eye John can see Irene Adler, who is smiling at Sherlock.
“Thank you Mr. Holmes.” The leader smirks. “Now open it.”
Sherlock reaches out and grabs the knob of the safe… but then he glances over at Irene, who lowers her gaze to the floor for a second. John feels another shiver race down his spine as Sherlock turns the knob and—
As soon as the words leave Sherlock’s lips John is on the ground and he hears the all too familiar sound of a gun being fired, followed by the man behind John—the one who had been ready to shoot him—hitting the ground. When no second shot follows the first John pulls himself up and moves to the man, who is lying still on the ground. As soon as he is sure the man is dead, John turns and watches as Sherlock and Irene scuffle with the remaining two Americans. The consulting detective and the dominatrix easily knock the two men unconscious.
“You did notice!” Irene coos as Sherlock and John take the guns away from the Americans. “You were very observant.”
“Observant?” John blinks, looking between Sherlock and Irene Adler as he wonders what the code to the safe had ended up being.
“I’m flattered.” Irene adds, her blood red lips parting to reveal her teeth as she smiles.
“Don’t be.” Sherlock replies as he gazes at the three men. His gaze lingers on the dead American—the man who had held a gun to John’s head—for a few seconds before moving on.
“Flattered?” John blinks a small frown on his face.
“There’ll be more of them—keeping an eye on the building.” Sherlock mutters as he steps out of the sitting room, John following close behind him.
“So how’d she tell you the combination?” John asks as they stop in the hallway.
“It’s not important.” Sherlock replies as he looks around. “Call Mycroft—then check the rest of the house. See how they got in.”
John sighs and pulls out his phone, hitting the second number on his speed dial. (Lestrade is the first number.) As the phone rings John gives Sherlock a sort of sarcastic salute and the consulting detective rolls his eyes before heading back into the sitting room.
John has started heading upstairs when Mycroft picks up. “American—” He begins, only to be cut off by the older Holmes brother.
“I understand.” Mycroft replies. “Lestrade and some trusted men are on the way.” The line goes dead as John reaches the first floor. The doctor slips the phone back into his pocket and starts investigating the rooms.
It doesn’t take him long to find Irene’s maid, who is lying on the floor of what John guesses is Irene’s bedroom, unconscious. John calls out to his flatmate as he checks to make sure the young woman is okay—she’ll probably have a nasty headache when she wakes up (being pistol whipped tends to do that to you) but other than that she’s fine. As he hears Sherlock climbing the stairs John stands up and steps into the attached bathroom, noting the open window.
“They must have come in this way.” John notes as Sherlock steps into the bathroom, while Irene remains next to the unconscious maid, clearly concerned for the younger woman.
“Clearly.” Sherlock notes, stepping out of the bathroom and inspecting Adler’s bedroom as John moves towards the dominatrix.
“It’s all right. She’s just out cold.” John informs Irene.
“Well, God knows she’s used to that.” Irene sighs before she turns towards John. “There’s a back door—better check it Doctor Watson.”
John glances over at Sherlock who nods silently before digging what looks like a phone out of his pocket. With a shrug John steps out of the bedroom and starts looking for the backdoor Irene Adler mentioned… only to stop when he hears something falling to the floor, what he thinks is Sherlock grunting and something that sounds suspiciously like someone getting hit with a riding crop. (He’d know a girl in college who was into that sorta thing.)
John runs back to the bedroom, where he finds Sherlock lying on the floor moaning and shivering, a riding crop lying on the ground next to him and Irene Adler in the bathroom, who was still wearing Sherlock’s coat and nothing else.
“Jesus.” John gasps as he kneels on the floor next to the consulting detective. “What are you—”
“He’ll sleep for a few hours.” Irene says, cutting John off. “Make sure he doesn’t choke on his own vomit… it makes for a very unattractive corpse.”
It is at this point that John notices the syringe lying on the floor next to his flatmate and realizes that Irene Adler has drugged Sherlock… and instantly John really, really wants to pull out his gun, the one that he took from the American, and shoot Irene—preferably somewhere extremely painful but not deadly.
“What have you given him?” John growls at Irene as he gently pulls Sherlock’s head into his lap and presses his fingers against the consulting detective’s neck to find his pulse.
“Oh, he’ll be fine.” Irene replies with a shrug. “I’ve used it on loads of my friends.”
“Sherlock, can you hear me?” John asks as he looks down into Sherlock’s eyes, which are half-closed and unfocused. Sherlock’s lips open and move as if he’s speaking, but nothing comes out. You may have used it on your “friends”, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be allergic to it! John mentally growls at the dominatrix, although it doesn’t seem like Sherlock is having any sort of allergic reaction to whatever drug Irene used.
“You know…” Irene muses as she sits on the windowsill in the bathroom and puts her feet up on the edge of the bathtub. “I was wrong about him—he did know where to look.”
“Look? Look for what?” John asks, not moving from his spot on the floor. “What are you talking about?”
“The key code to my safe.” Irene smirks, looking down at Sherlock, who suddenly starts struggling to sit up, although he clearly has no sense of balance or the energy to remain sitting up.
“What was it?” John asks, placing his hands gently on Sherlock’s shoulders so he won’t hurt himself. The consulting detective stops trying to get up, although he does start shaking a little more then he previously had.
“Should I tell him?” Adler asks Sherlock as she grabs hold of a cord that hangs from the windowsill. Sherlock doesn’t answer, but in the distance John can hear sirens, announcing the arrival of Lestrade and the men Mycroft sent. “It was my measurements.”
SERIOUSLY? John resists screaming out that word and a few choice swear words as Irene pushes her feet against the edge of the bathtub and topples backward out of the window, still holding on to the cord.
John turns his attention back to Sherlock. He helps the consulting detective sit up, although Sherlock has to lean heavily on the former army doctor, who is shaking like a wet kitten and struggling to keep his eyes even half-open. John shifts slightly so that he has a better hold of Sherlock, who also shifts so that his forehead in resting against the side of John’s neck.
“Sherlock?” John whispers, his right arm wrapping around Sherlock’s waist as Sherlock’s right hand fists in John’s shirt. The consulting detective murmurs something intelligible in response as John hears people rushing into the house.
“Up here!” John calls out and, in a few seconds, he hears footsteps on the stairs. Sherlock’s eyes drift completely closed, he releases his grip on John’s shirt and then Sherlock’s entire body goes mostly limp as Lestrade and not-Anthea step into the bedroom.
“What the hell?” Lestrade asks as he moves over to John and Sherlock, clearly concerned for the consulting detective.
“She drugged him.” John explains, gesturing to the syringe lying on the ground with his free hand. Not-Anthea picks up that syringe, using a plastic glove she pulls form a pocket and places the syringe in an evidence bag.
“Here, I’ll help you get him back to Baker Street… you just get him to come in and give a statement when he’s…” Lestrade trails off as Sherlock mutters something under his breath and honest to god nuzzles against John’s neck. John can’t stop himself from blushing as Lestrade chuckles softly and not-Anthea smirks silently.
Without saying another word Lestrade kneels down next to Sherlock and between the two of them they manage to get the world’s only consulting detective mostly upright. It takes a few seconds for Lestrade and John to get a hold of the taller men, but eventually they figure it out and get started on the stairs, with not-Anthea bringing up the rear, texting up a storm on her phone.
Chapter 7: Stumbling Towards An Understanding
Sherlock holds on to the phone, even after Irene stabs him with the syringe… it takes both the drugs racing through his system and Irene striking him multiple times with her ridding crop to force Sherlock to release his grip on the phone, which he knows stores the photographs that Mycroft asked him to retrieve.
Sherlock is dimly aware that John in kneeling next to him… it’s hard to keep his eyes open and it’s even harder to pay attention to what John or Irene are saying. Sherlock tries to say something to John, who looks so worried, but he doesn’t think anything comes out as the former army doctor gently rests Sherlock’s head in his lap and presses his fingers against Sherlock’s neck.
Sherlock suddenly feels the need to sit up, to get up and stop Irene Adler from getting away with the phone, only to find he lacks the strength and that John is gently holding him down. He’s aware that shaking, even though he’s not cold… John looks down at him for a second before he helps Sherlock sit up.
Sherlock doesn’t have enough energy to do much except lean against his flatmate. He’s still shaking and it’s getting harder and harder to keep his eyes open. His head falls to the side and Sherlock has no energy to raise it, so his forehead remains pressed against John’s neck. He suddenly realizes that his right hand is clutching at John’s shirt.
“Sherlock?” John whispers and Sherlock struggles to respond, wanting nothing more then to say “John”, but it’s just too hard… he is dimply aware of footsteps in the hallway outside the room, dimply aware of John calling out and then he’s falling through silent darkness, curled up in a small circular patch of warmth, which he struggles to get closer to.
Then, quite suddenly and without any real transition, Sherlock finds himself standing by the side of the car—the one involved in case with the dead hiker. He frowns, wondering what is happening and watches as Phil struggles to get his car moving again. In the field beyond Sherlock can see the hiker—still alive, still facing away from the car.
“So what happened?” John asks.
Sherlock blinks and turns to the right, towards the source of his blogger’s voice… and finds himself not at all surprised to find that he has a “mini-John” sitting on his right shoulder. This mini-John looks exactly his flatmate in every single way, except that he is only a little less than six inches tall.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Another very familiar voice asks from Sherlock’s left. When Sherlock turns to find the source of the voice he finds that there is a “mini-Mycroft”—a six inch tall version of his older brother, complete with a tiny umbrella—standing on Sherlock’s left shoulder.
Despite knowing that mini-Mycroft and mini-John can’t possibly be real, Sherlock doesn’t find it strange to have the two tiny men standing on his shoulders… so he calmly turns back to look mini-John, finding that as soon as he looks at the tiny version of his flatmate a soft smile appears on his face.
“Think about it.” Sherlock encourages mini-John. “The car is about to backfire…”
As Sherlock talks he walks to the rear of the car, stopping so that he can see both the exhaust pipe of the car and the distant hiker.
“The car backfires...” Mini-John says, thinking aloud and Sherlock suddenly finds himself standing to the side of the hiker, who is frozen staring upwards at a forty-five degree angle. “And the hiker turns to look…”
“Which was his big mistake.” Mini-Mycroft remarks as the hiker turns towards the sound—and is struck in the back of the head by his own boomerang.
“An accomplished sportsman, recently returned from foreign travel with a boomerang.” Mini-John whispers in awe as he leans against Sherlock’s cheek. “You got all that from one look?”
“Of course I did.” Sherlock smiles proudly.
“By the time the driver looks up, the hiker’s already dead.” Mini-Mycroft explains as he crosses over to stand on Sherlock’s right shoulder with mini-John. “The driver doesn’t see the boomerang that killed him, because it’s already being washed downstream.”
Mini-Mycroft gestures with his tiny umbrella. Both Sherlock and mini-John follow the gesture and watch as the boomerang starts to float away, just as Mycroft had said it would.
“Definitely the new sexy.” Mini-John whispers as he steps away from Sherlock’s cheek and grabs mini-Mycroft’s outstretched hand.
Sherlock is about to respond when his sense of balance suddenly vanishes. He stumbles slightly, one hand instantly rising to stop mini-John and mini-Mycroft from falling off his shoulder. He feels their tiny bodies hit his hand as the world starts to sort of twist around Sherlock.
Sherlock turns toward the two tiny men, intending on placing them on the ground, only to watch as mini-John wraps his arms around mini-Mycroft’s waist and the two jump off of Sherlock’s shoulder as mini-Mycroft opens his umbrella, which somehow allows the two tiny men to float slowly away from Sherlock, who finds himself lying down and shivering slightly as the real world slowly fades into existence.
John is sitting on the side of Sherlock’s bed, rereading Stranger In A Strange Land, when he notices that Sherlock is starting to wake up. Lestrade had helped John get Sherlock up the stairs and onto his bed, before leaving the two flatemates alone. John had slipped off Sherlock’s shoes and thrown a blanket over the consulting detective and settled down to wait for the drugs to wear off… at some point his hand had even started to run through Sherlock’s hair.
When Sherlock’s eyes open they stare up at the ceiling for a second before he blinks slowly—reminding John of an owl he’d seen in a nature documentary—and sits up, silently accepting John’s assistance and the glass of water that John holds out for him.
“How did I get here?” Sherlock asks, not looking at John as he speaks. The former army doctor hasn’t moved, so the two flatmates are both sitting at the top of Sherlock’s bed with their backs against the headboard. Sherlock has pulled the blanket around himself and tucked his feet up underneath him so that they fit under the blanket.
“I don’t suppose you remember much… you weren’t making a lot of sense.” John sighs, marking his place in the book and putting it on the bedside table. “Lestrade helped—oh I should warn you, I think Lestrade and Mycroft’s assistant filmed you on their phones.”
“Where is she?” Sherlock asks after taking another sip of the water.
“Irene Adler?” John asks, taking the now empty glass from Sherlock and putting it on the table next to his book. “She got away. Mycroft’s got people looking for her.”
Sherlock shifts slightly to look at John, but as he turns his gaze goes past John to the back of his bedroom door, where his coat—the one he had given to Irene Adler—is hanging. John follows his gaze and answers the unasked question.
“You’ve been out for about two hours.” John informs Sherlock. “Mrs. Hudson found your coat hanging on the front door about a half-hour ago and brought it up to me.”
As he speaks John pulls out his phone, quickly composing a text message to Mycroft and Lestrade to inform the two men that Sherlock is awake and doesn’t seem to have been harmed by the drugs Irene had injected him with. As John hits send a very feminine groan comes from the pocket of Sherlock’s coat.
The two flatemates stare at the coat for a second, before John stands up and retrieves Sherlock’s phone from said pocket. As soon as he has the phone he sits back down and hands the phone over to Sherlock, who fumbles with it for a few seconds before he manages to make his hands hit the right buttons to open up the text message. Guess the drugs haven’t completely worn off. John mentally sighs as Sherlock blinks a few times before he reads the message aloud.
“Till the next time, Mr. Holmes.”
For a moment the two men stare at the phone in silence.
“Classy bird.” John laughs, thinking of Irene Adler’s customized text message alert.
“She…” Sherlock tilts his head to one side before he fiddles with the phone again. After Sherlock presses a few buttons Irene’s groan plays again. “She sounds like she’s in pain.”
DOOMED! DOOMED! DOOMED! The little voice in John’s head shrieks as he blushes and tries to figure out how to explain to Sherlock that Irene definitely wasn’t in pain when she’d recorded her text alert… only for his brain to go completely and utterly dead. Well… I guess there is always the direct approach.
“Um… Sherlock? She’s not in pain.” John doesn’t look at Sherlock, choosing instead to look down at his phone like it’s the most interesting thing in the world.
“…what?” Sherlock asks and, before he can stop himself, John’s eyes dart over to Sherlock. Okay, that’s creepy… John thinks. I actually managed to confuse the world’s only consulting detective.
“It’s a sex thing.” John explains, biting his lip as he fights to keep himself from blushing.
“Oh…” Sherlock replies and, before Sherlock (or John) can say anything else the doctor’s phone rings.
“It’s Mycroft.” John informs Sherlock.
“Might as well.” Sherlock grumbles, somehow managing to sort of slide down from his previous sitting position, as if he doesn’t have any bones in his body. In a matter of seconds Sherlock is lying flat on the bed, his hands resting on his chest and making him look like a corpse. Without saying a word John accepts he call and flips his phone over to speaker mode.
“The photographs are perfectly safe.” Sherlock informs his older brother before any sort of greeting can be exchanged.
“In the hands of a fugitive sex worker?” Mycroft replies, sarcasm dripping from his words.
“She’s not interested in blackmail Mycroft. She wants protection for some reason.” Sherlock sighs and closes his eyes—which only helps him look more like a corpse, despite the blanket spread over his lower body. “I take it you’ve stood down the police investigation into the shooting at her house?”
“How can we do anything while she has the photographs?” Mycroft sighs. “Our hands are tied.”
John can’t stop himself. “Nice choice of words.”
John thinks that Mycroft chuckles softly on the other end of the line… he knows that his words amused Sherlock, because he gets to see the mix of smirk and soft smile that his words bring to the face of the world’s only consulting detective.
“The camera phone is her ‘get out of jail free’ card. You have to leave her alone.” Sherlock notes, his smirk growing. “Treat her like royalty, Mycroft.”
“Though not the way she treats royalty.” John adds.
“Did you know there were other people after her? Before you sent John and I in there?” Sherlock asks as he glares at John’s phone, his voice suddenly harsh. “CIA trained killers, if I’m correct.”
At first Mycroft doesn’t respond… and as the silence stretches out both John and Sherlock stare at the phone, in growing confusion. John is about to check to make sure that his cell hasn’t dropped the call when Mycroft finally speaks.
“I was… misinformed.” Mycroft’s voice sounds strained, and John can almost picture the elder Holmes’ hands clenching around the wood handle of his ever present umbrella. “Apologies.”
John doesn’t know how to respond… and he’s pretty sure that Sherlock is in a similar state of confusion and just a bit of shock. As John watches his flatmate’s gaze moves away from the phone to a photo frame on his dresser, which has been pushed over so that it is lying face down, hiding the photograph inside.
“In any case, there’s nothing you can do.” Sherlock whispers, his voice so soft that John is afraid that Mycroft won’t be able to hear. “And there’s nothing that she will do as far as I can see.”
“I can put maximum surveillance on her.” Mycroft suggests.
“Why bother?” Sherlock replies with a shrug. “You can follow her on Twitter. I believe her user name is ‘TheWhipHand’.”
John tries and fails to stop himself from laughing… but his attempts to stop himself transforms that laughter into an undignified snort, which draws the slightest bit of a smile from Sherlock.
“Yes, most amusing.” Mycroft replies with a long suffering sigh. “If there isn’t anything else?”
“No, you can go back to running the world.” Sherlock replies, rolling on to his side so that his back is to John and the phone.
“Goodbye Mycroft.” John says, rolling his eyes at his flatemate.
“Always a pleasure John.” Mycroft replies before he hangs up.
John slides the phone into his pocket and turns towards Sherlock, wanting to talk to the consulting detective although he doesn’t know what exactly he plans on saying… but just as he opens his mouth to speak John realizes that his flatemate is asleep once again.
Whatever Adler drugged him with sure packs a punch. John thinks as he quickly checks Sherlock over before standing up and tiptoeing out of the room towards the kitchen. He isn’t sure how long Sherlock will be out this time, but he bets it’s long enough for him to make and drink a nice cup of tea.
One moment Sherlock is listening to John say goodbye to his older brother and to Mycroft’s polite reply. One moment Sherlock is on his side, staring at the photograph of him and Mycroft as young children, the one that he’d tipped forward so that it was face down, the one which had a fine layer of dust on the back, showing how long it had been since the photograph was sitting upright. He was thinking about standing up, about tipping the photograph back so that it was upright, so that John could see the picture of the two Holmes brothers when Sherlock was six and Mycroft was ten.
The next moment Sherlock is blinking and finds himself standing in the doorway of 221B Baker Street… well it’s not the real 221B Baker Street, it’s actually the doorway to John’s room in Sherlock’s mental palace.
Sherlock slowly walks into the room, glancing around to make sure that nothing has changed—the portrait which had once depicted Sarah has shifted still further. It is still impossibly abstract, but Sherlock believes he can see two figures emerging from the swirling colors. The blinds are down on the window which looks out on the Pool and the tiny black kitten is still asleep on John’s armchair, although Sherlock realizes that the blue fabric the kitten is sleeping on is his scarf.
“What are you?” Sherlock whispers as he kneels down on the ground next to John’s armchair so that he is face to face with the sleeping kitten. “Why are you in John’s room?”
The kitten’s eyes slowly opened and it stares at Sherlock for a few seconds, before yawning and curling back up into a ball. Sherlock frowns and stands up, resuming his inspection of John’s room.
The closed glass doors, the ones that in the real world lead into the kitchen, have also changed. The tiny human figure has become two tiny figures, although Sherlock still can’t make out any details and can’t even guess at who those figures are. The swirl of colors that surrounds the figures has gotten a little more orderly, but it’s till impossible to say what it might represent… however the most interesting development is that the glass doors aren’t entirely closed anymore—they’re actually slightly open and, through the opening, John can see what appears to be Mycroft’s room.
This is an unusual development—Mycroft’s room has always been on the opposite side of the palace from where John’s room sits. Thinking that it’s just an illusion, Sherlock walks over to the doors and pushes it open… only to find himself standing in Mycroft’s room. From this side the glass doors depict a completely different scene. There are two human figures sitting on the ground together under a black umbrella, which is sheltering them from what appears to be a mix of rain, fire and bullets. The two figures are frustratingly vague and all that Sherlock can say is that they appear to be two men, although one could be a very tall and flat chested woman.
The rest of Mycroft’s room appears unchanged… or at least it appears unchanged until Sherlock trips over something and finds himself falling down a hole in the ground, watching the rungs of a ladder fly by. Because this is his memory palace he manages to land without injuring himself and looks around at the tunnel he’s found himself in. A ladder leads back up to Mycroft’s room, but the dimly lit tunnel (it appears to be candle lit, despite there being no candles that Sherlock can see) extends off into the unknown.
So, of course, the world’s only consulting detective follows that tunnel. The tunnel twists and turns and has several dark sections where Sherlock has to slowly walk forward with his hands out so that he won’t run into a wall, but eventually he finds himself at the end, with another simple wooden ladder.
In silence Sherlock Holmes climbs up and out of the hole, finding himself sitting on cold stone in what appears to be some sort of church or cathedral. The room is dark, illuminated by candlelight and stained glass windows, which throw patches of colored light on the stone floor. Sherlock finds himself looking up at the window directly behind the hole he has emerged from and freezes.
He stands in the center of the stained glass window, his arms spread, with one hand resting on the shoulder of two men who stand in front of him. The stained glass Sherlock stares out, but the two men are facing each other, with John standing to Sherlock’s right and—
How… how did I miss this? Sherlock wonders, staring up at the stained glass, one hand unconsciously reaching out towards the window, as if it was close enough to touch. A shiver races down his spine and Sherlock’s knees go weak. He drops to his knees, his hand still outstretched to the stained glass window. This… this isn’t my palace. This can’t be my palace—but who knows me well enough to see this before I did?
Sherlock forces himself to stand, intending to head out of this room, this place which is strangely familiar at the same time that it is completely alien—but just as he turns the main doors of the vast room open and the light pouring in from the hallway outside makes it almost impossible for Sherlock to see who is standing there… but almost has never meant much to the Holmes brothers.
“Mycroft?” Sherlock isn’t quite sure if he actually speaks, of if he just thinks his brother’s name before the world of memory palaces vanishes and he is brought back to the real world by the sound of Irene Adler’s personalized text message alert. Sherlock only looks at his phone long enough to realize that he’s lost an entire day to either his fevered dreams or his wanderings in his mental palace.
Without reading Irene’s text message Sherlock deletes it and heaves himself up from the bed, angrily pulling off his rumpled clothing he heads towards the bathroom, intending to take a shower and then find his violin and try to use music as a sort of solid ground in the middle of the fierce whirlwind that is currently scrambling his thoughts into an unrecognizable tangle.
Mycroft and his personal assistant, currently calling herself Bellona, are sitting side by side in a car currently stuck in London traffic. Bellona is passing the time by playing some game on her phone in between responding to the latest incoming messages, while Mycroft has retreated into his memory palace to review a few facts and examine several documents. Mycroft is in the middle of several very confidential files concerning the superheroes who have recently decided to create a group that they are calling “the Justice League”… when he feels something shift in Sherlock’s room.
Without thinking about it Mycroft finds himself leaving his archives and appearing in front of the great doors to Sherlock’s cathedral. He throws the doors open and steps inside, only to freeze in shock as he sees Sherlock standing underneath the East Window. His younger brother turns as Mycroft enters the room and for the briefest of moments the two Holmes stare at each other.
“Sherlock?” Mycroft isn’t sure if he speaks or just thinks his brother’s name. He reaches out to his brother, only to watch as Sherlock vanishes in front of his eyes. Before he can figure out what in the hell has just happened, Mycroft is pulled out of his memory palace by the text message alert on his cell phone.
I’m making dinner tonight at 7. Come if convenient.
Mycroft glances over at Bellona, confident that she has already read the message and checked his schedule for any possible conflicts… Mycroft is pretty confident that there aren’t any, but there’s always a chance that something came up while he was in his memory palace.
“Seven o’clock?” Mycroft doesn’t need to ask, but he does anyway. Bellona doesn’t even look up from or stop playing the game on her cell phone— Mycroft believes her current favorite is Bejeweled.
“Angry Birds actually.” Bellona corrects him, tilting her phone slightly so that Mycroft can see she’s telling the truth. “I’ve already scheduled dinner at 221B.”
“Thank you dear.” Mycroft smiles as he composes his reply to John Watson.
What dessert would be appropriate?
No idea. We’re having beef stew.
When Mycroft arrives at 221 B Baker Street Sherlock is playing his violin—actually playing, not torturing the instrument. What is more surprising is that Sherlock keeps playing, even after the point where he has to know that Mycroft is present.
As is usual the street level door isn’t locked, and Mrs. Hudson appears to be out. When Mycroft climbs the stairs he finds the door to 221B isn’t closed all the way. Despite being able to see through the crack, Mycroft still knocks on the door frame politely. Instead of anyone answering the second door—the one which leads into the kitchen—opens and John pokes his head out.
“Hello Mycroft.” John greets the elder Holmes brother with a smile and Mycroft has a sudden flash of what the doctor must have looked like when the American threatened him. His blood runs cold as he imagines John kneeling on the ground, with a gun pressed to his head and his fate in Sherlock’s hands.
“John.” Mycroft replies before following the man into the kitchen—where a large pot sits on the stove, steam escaping from underneath the lid.
“We’re eating in the living room.” John explains as Mycroft holds out the cake box that Bellona had seemed to produce out of thin air. John opens up the box and peeks inside, before smiling up at Mycroft. “Thanks. Oh, Mrs. Hudson might join us for desert—she’s going to some show with Mrs. Turner.”
John turns back towards the stove and Mycroft steps into the living room of 221B. Sherlock is sprawled in his black armchair, still playing his violin, although the notes are coming more slowly now.
“Mycroft.” Sherlock replies, pulling his bow away from the violin’s strings and twirling it in his hand like a cheerleader’s baton as he stares up at his older brother.
Mycroft Holmes has always found it relatively easy to follow his brother’s train of thought, to pick up the same information and makes the same deductions as Sherlock—and despite the ease of this, Mycroft has always enjoyed watching Sherlock’s mind work. However there’s something off this time, there’s something in Sherlock’s gaze that Mycroft can’t quite read, something in his deductions that Mycroft can’t follow.
“You’ve lost weight.” Sherlock remarks, placing the bow down as he starts tuning the violin.
Mycroft manages not to show how confused he is, although he wouldn’t be surprised if Sherlock didn’t manage to see that confusion… but Mycroft doesn’t care, because he can’t figure out why Sherlock has just extended this olive branch to him. If anything Sherlock should be furious (albeit in his own deadly calm way) that Mycroft didn’t anticipate the American’s involvement with Irene Adler.
“I’ve been busy.” Mycroft sighs as he sits down in John’s armchair, leans his umbrella against the arm and makes himself comfortable.
As the two brothers sit in silence Mycroft looks around at 221B—he almost laughs when his gaze rests upon a Cludo board with a wicked looking knife stabbed through the cardboard and into the wall behind it. Looks like Sherlock lost. On the mantelpiece beneath the Cludo board Sherlock’s skull sits, with a deerstalker perched on top of it. The room has clearly been tidied up a bit, and the table between the two windows has been cleared of the usual clutter of laptops, newspapers, hand written notes and the various other items which had a tendency to accumulate during one of Sherlock’s cases. The table has been set for three, with one person sitting on each side of the table and the final side pressed up against the wall… Mycroft wonders if John actually expects Sherlock to eat with the two of them.
It’s four o’clock in the afternoon on the day after Irene drugged Sherlock and the man hasn’t woken up… although John is fairly certain this is due to the world’s only consulting detective slipping out of a drugged sleep and into his usual “post case crash”. John has taken advantage of Sherlock’s unconscious state to clean up 221B and type out a new blog post without Sherlock reading over his shoulder and commenting on ever word he types.
Due to the clients involved, thanks Mycroft, I’ve had to delete the rest of this post. Needless to say, it was quite the adventure.
And I’m sure it won’t be the last time we hear the name Irene Adler. In fact, Sherlock’s already gotten a text from her. She chosen a rather… interesting personalized text message alert.
Well, Sherlock is probably going to wake up soon, so I should probably start figuring out what sort of dinner he’s most likely to eat.
John quickly checks over the post for any obvious typos before hitting “post”. As soon as he sees that the latest blog entry is online, John turns off the laptop and heads into the kitchen to investigate the contents of the fridge. Someone’s gotten rid of the toes. He’s not sure if Mrs. Hudson or Not!Anthea is to thank for this. Both women have been responsible for the disappearance of body parts in the past. (For example John knows that Not!Anthea was the one to get rid of the head after the Pool incident, because he’d overheard Sherlock complaining about it to Mycroft.)
John goes through his list of meals that he can cook and Sherlock has eaten in the past, before deciding to make beef stew… and John decides that he’s going to invite Mycroft over for dinner. He doesn’t know if the elder Holmes will accept… but it should hurt to at least try, especially if there’s any chance that John can help close the gap that divides the two brothers. Not!Anthea had only texted John once: Before you they hadn’t talked in 2 years. Since John started living at 221B and solving cases with Sherlock the brothers speak at least once a week, even if it’s only Mycroft showing up at crime scenes or Sherlock texting Mycroft messages about how many calories various treats contain.
I’m making dinner tonight at 7. Come if convenient.
Less than two seconds after John sends his text message he hears the groan that means Irene Adler has just texted Sherlock. He bites his lip to keep from laughing as he hears Sherlock moving around in his room and then stomping into the bathroom. As the water in the shower turns on John’s phone alerts him that Mycroft has replied to his text.
What dessert would be appropriate?
John looks down at the beef stew he is preparing and frowns—he has no idea what desert “goes” with stew… but Mycroft probably either knows or can very easily find out.
No idea. We’re having beef stew.
John is setting the table in the living room for three when the water turns off and, a few seconds later, Sherlock stomps out of his room, his hair still dripping. The world’s only consulting detective is wearing sleep pants and a shirt that John is pretty certain Sherlock has stolen from him, since it’s a blue Star Trek sciences t-shirt that Henry had randomly sent to him a few weeks ago.
Without saying anything to John, Sherlock picks up his violin and starts to play a surprisingly soft and slow piece. When John heads back into the kitchen to check on the stew, Sherlock manages to flop down on his black armchair without missing a note.
John can tell that his flatmate is trying to use the music to help him figure something out, but John can’t tell what that something is… it could be Irene Adler, it could be Mycroft, or it could be something entirely differ that John doesn’t have any hope of guessing.
“Mycroft’s joining us for dinner.” John informs Sherlock, who replies by blowing a lock of hair out of his eyes and pulling his knees up almost to his chin as he continues to play.
Author’s Note: Anthea’s current name, Bellona, is the Roman goddess of war who accompanied Mars in battle and was either his wife, his sister or his daughter, depending on who you ask.
The blue shirt here is the one Sherlock has stolen from John. (Although he’d probably say that they have a barter system.)
Chapter 8: Even Sherlock Needs A Hint Sometimes
John isn’t sure if he’s just being paranoid or if he can actually feel Sherlock’s gaze on his back. It’s probably just paranoia. Sherlock’s probably not even looking at you. John mentally sighs as he pokes at the stew with his stirring spoon. However if I actually turn then that’ll be the moment that Sherlock chooses to look at me… and I don’t think I’m ready for Sherlock to deduce that I’m in love with him, especially since I’m not exactly sure what that means. I mean, am I gay?
John had never really looked at or thought of men in that way. He’d fooled around a little in college (who hadn’t?) but he’d never gone beyond fumbling one night stands. Even when he was in Afghanistan he hadn’t been interested and coming back to England hadn’t changed that. As soon as he’d been able to hobble around John had gone out drinking with some mates and ended up having a spectacular one night stand with a foreign woman whose name he hadn’t managed to catch. Even after he met Sherlock John had only flirted with women… so do I even find other men attractive? Or am I just Sherlock-sexual? John muses as he stirs the stew. Let’s see… Lestrade? No—but I could see the appeal. Maybe if we weren’t friends. Dimmock? No, no interest there. Ander—FUCK NO. Not if he was the last man on earth. John shuddered at the mental image as he put the lid on the pot and started tidying up the kitchen. Moving on… Mike? No, definitely not. So who else is there, besides random waiters and delivery boys? I mean, I guess there’s Mycro—
…what, seriously? SERIOUSLY? MYCROFT?
Okay…so I’m attracted to Sherlock AND Mycroft? The man kidnapped me! He’s Sherlock’s brother! John bites his lip to keep himself from laughing. Of course the only men I’m attracted to are the bloody Holmes brothers!
John is suddenly drawn out of his thoughts by the sound of someone knocking on the door to 221B. With a long suffering sigh he leaves the stew bubbling on the stove and opens the door that leads from the kitchen to the hallway… where he isn’t surprised to find Mycroft Holmes.
“Hello Mycroft.” John says with a smile, hoping that Sherlock’s older brother can’t deduce what he’s just been thinking about. As always Mycroft is dressed in a perfectly pressed suit with his black umbrella in one hand and what looks like a cake box in the other. For what must be the hundredth time John finds himself staring at Mycroft’s umbrella and wondering if it’s got a sword hidden inside—he’s about 95% sure that it’s got a hidden sword, although it could be some kind of hidden gun …
“John.” Mycroft replies, inclining his head slightly before he follows John inside.
“We’re eating in the living room.” John explains as he takes the cake box from Mycroft and peaks inside—apparently cake with what appears to be several inches of chocolate frosting is the desert that goes with beef stew. “Thanks. Oh, Mrs. Hudson might join us for desert—she’s going to some show with Mrs. Turner.”
John sets the cake down on the kitchen table and turns back to his stew as Mycroft moves into the living room, where Sherlock is still sprawled in his armchair, playing his violin. John puts the finishing touches on the stew and the French bread that accompanies it as the two brother’s converse.
“Mycroft.” Sherlock replies, the violin falling silent for a second before the world’s only consulting detective begins to tune it. “You’ve lost weight.”
Well that’s… unusual. John thinks as he glances over his shoulder at the two brothers. Mycroft looks almost as confused by Sherlock’s politeness as John is. When has Sherlock ever complimented his brother?
“I’ve been busy.” Mycroft says, sitting down in John’s armchair. As John watches out of the corner of his eye Mycroft inspects the room and the two brothers settle into a very strange, but comfortable, silence as John turns off the stove and starts bringing dinner out to the table in the living room.
The second John steps out of the kitchen Mycroft is on his feet and offering his help, which John had expected—what John didn’t expect is for Sherlock to do the same. Soon the three men are sitting at the table and Sherlock manages to surprise John once again by actually sitting down and eating with John and Mycroft. The consulting detective even participates in the conversation that the doctor and the British Government are engaged in (polite nonsense, occasionally veering off into discussions of past cases). Silence only falls over the table when John leaves to get the cake—which turns out to be a simple but delicious chocolate cake. That silence stretches on as John serves the cake and the three men being to eat… and then Sherlock speaks.
“John is having a Christmas party.” Sherlock informs Mycroft. “Your presence would not be unwelcome.”
Both Mycroft and John stare at Sherlock in shock. John had planned on inviting Mycroft, who had (of course) already known about the party and about how (prior to this very second) Sherlock had wanted to have a party, let alone invite anyone. It had taken hours for John to get Sherlock to agree to a “party” with just Lestrade and then another two hours for John to get Sherlock to allow him to invite Molly.
“A Christmas party?” Mycroft blinks, turning towards John, who had taken the seat between Mycroft and Sherlock, with his back to the kitchen.
“Just a small one.” John replies. “Molly and Lestrade are coming over for drinks and we’re going to exchange presents. You can just tack your name on to my gifts to them—that’s what Sherlock’s doing.”
“I’m sure I can find something appropriate.” Mycroft says as he sets his fork down and politely wipes his mouth with a napkin.
“Especially when you’ve got a file on everyone from Lestrade to the delivery boys at our preferred restaurants.” Sherlock smirks as he uses his fork to push crumbs around on his plate. “I do hope you’re paying—what is her name today?”
“Bellona.” Mycroft answers as he pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket and looks down at the screen. “Her salary is significantly above industry standards.”
“Bellona—the roman goddess of war? Interesting.” Sherlock remarks as he scoops up the clumped together crumbs.
“If you’ll excuse me for a second.” Mycroft stands up and answers his phone as he walks out into the hallway, closing the door behind him before he starts talking.
“Bellona?” John asks as he starts cleaning off the table and, surprisingly, Sherlock moves to help him.
“Mycroft’s assistant.” Sherlock replies. “I believe you call her ‘Not-Anthea’.”
“So what’s her real name?” John asks as he puts the cake back into it’s box and starts figuring out how to fit the leftovers into the fridge.
“I don’t know.” Sherlock says as he places the small stack of dirty plates in the sink.
“…you don’t know?” John laughs.
“It’s irrelevant.” Sherlock sighs, rolling his eyes at John as they move back into the living room and sit down in their armchairs to wait for Mycroft. “She does tend to keep returning to Anthea…”
Sherlock is cut off by his phone sighing orgasmically, which makes the consulting detective flinch and his blogger laugh. Sherlock pulls his phone out of a pocket and glares at it for a second before checking the text message.
“I’m find since you didn’t ask.” After reading the message aloud he shoves the phone back into his pocket and slouches in his chair.
“You know, you can change the alert tone.” John suggests.
“I tried.” Sherlock growls as Mycroft steps back into the room, still talking on his phone.
“Bond Air is go, that’s decided… check with the Coventry lot. Talk later.” Mycroft hangs up and slips his phone back into a pocket of his jacket as Sherlock glances over at him.
“What else does she have?” Sherlock asks.
“Pardon?” Mycroft blinks once before leaning ever so slightly on his umbrella.
“Irene Adler.” Sherlock clarifies as he stands up and slowly walks over to his brother. “The Americans wouldn’t be interested in her for a couple of compromising photographs… there’s something more. Much more.”
For a second Mycroft and Sherlock simply stare at each other, neither one saying anything while John watches and part of him wishes that he had some popcorn.
“Something big is coming, isn’t it?” Sherlock whispers.
“Irene Adler is no longer any concern of yours.” Mycroft replies, his eyes darting over to John for a second before moving back to his younger brother. “Sherlock, please stay out of this.”
Sherlock tilts his head to one side for a second as he stares at Mycroft, before he turns and walks away, picking up his violin and stopping in front of the window. Sherlock keeps his back to John and Mycroft as he begins to play something that sounds like “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele.
“If you’ll excuse me John, duty calls.” Mycroft sighs, his gaze fixed upon Sherlock’s back.
“I guess the world won’t run itself.” John smiles. “Have a nice day Mycroft.”
“You too.” Mycroft nods goodbye to John before he turns and leaves the room. John looks over at Sherlock for a moment before deciding to get started on the dishes while Sherlock uses his violin to sulk.
At least he’s playing something nice instead of torturing the instrument. John sighs as he steps into the kitchen. At least now he’ll be focused on the violin and whatever’s out on the street… so hopefully he won’t notice how freaked out I am that, in addition to being in love with him, I rather fancy his brother. God, with my luck he’ll either figure that out or decide to bring it up in front of Anderson.
John has never fallen in love before.
Oh, he’d thought he was in love with a few of his ex-girlfriends, but now that he’s recognized that he’d fallen for Sherlock he was forced to revaluate his relationships with those women, because none of them had been anything like this… there hadn’t been this strange longing, even when in the same room, this sense of being full of hope and yet hopeless at the exact same time.
Oh, and his attraction to Mycroft wasn’t exactly helping. It was strange, but now that he’d not only “discovered” an attraction to Mycroft but had a rather pleasant dinner with both Holmes brothers, John found that he was starting to sort of lump together two separate thoughts (I love Sherlock and I rather fancy Mycroft)into something that John couldn’t really put into words—something that was disturbingly like I know I love Sherlock, I know I like Mycroft (a lot) and I think I might actually love both of them… if either of them ever showed any sort of romantic/sexual/just plain old interest in anyone.
Sherlock Holmes does actually play “Set Fire To The Rain” as his brother says his goodbyes and John goes off to do the dishes. Sherlock only knows the song because it’s been playing on the radio in the last five taxis he’s taken and it had even started playing the last time that he’d gone to Angelo’s with John. Eventually he’d searched for and found the sheet music for the song online and had been slightly disturbed to find that he only had to look at the music once to memorize the entire song.
As Sherlock plays he gazes out the window of 221B and watches Mycroft step into a non-descript black car… even after Mycroft’s car drives around the corner Sherlock continues to stand at the window and play, transitioning into a classical piece as John finishes the dishes and yells goodnight before he heads up the stairs to his room. Once Sherlock is sure that John is in his room and probably half-asleep he puts his violin away… and at that exact moment his phone cries out with Irene Adler’s annoying not-pained grunt.
I’m bored. Let’s have dinner.
Sherlock crosses the room as he starts typing out his reply. He practically throws himself down on the couch and stares at his reply for a few seconds before he composes a reply.
I’m not hungry.
It doesn’t take long for Irene Adler’s reply to arrive.
So? I’m not hungry either. Let’s have dinner.
Sherlock sighs and rolls his eyes as he composes his reply
Why would I want to have dinner if I’m not hungry?
After he hits send Sherlock tosses his phone on to the coffee table and ignores Irene’s next text—although he does flinch slightly when his phone cries out in Irene’s voice. As he reaches for his computer Sherlock decides that if he can’t figure out some way to switch Irene’s personalized alert he’ll just leave his phone on vibrate and use John’s… although he’d probably have to get John a new phone. That can be his Christmas gifts—a new phone and a new laptop. Sherlock notes. Mycroft can supply one and I’ll supply the other… although Mycroft will probably insist upon purchasing and modifying both.
It only takes Sherlock a few seconds to check the messages in his inbox—a few spam emails, several early Christmas e-cards from various clients, a cold case from Lestrade and several alerts telling Sherlock that there are new comments on his blog and a few responses to his comments on John’s blog. Once he deals with these Sherlock starts to compose a new email, typing in the address from memory… however when Sherlock moves to type the actual message he finds himself temporarily at a loss for words.
From: Sherlock Holmes
To : Rachel Wayne
Subject: --no subject--
Date: Friday, December 21th, 2013, 10:12 pm (GMT)
How do you know if you’re in love? What is the difference between love and friendship?
Before he can start to doubt himself Sherlock hits send and settles down to wait… he would retreat into his memory palace, as he usually does when he has time to kill, but he’s wary of going back after what happened earlier.
I was in Mycroft’s memory palace. Such a connection is supposed to be impossible, but then again, I live in a world where aliens fly through space and a woman dresses up like a bat in order to fight crime, so really the apparent connection between my memory palace and Mycroft’s is not impossible, it is just highly improbable.
Sherlock runs a hand through his hair as he remembers the stained glass widow, the three men the glass had depicted and the Latin inscription beneath the three men’s feet—Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia.
“United we stand, divided we fall.” Sherlock whispers as he rests his head in his hands. “But how did Mycroft see what I missed?”
But then Sherlock remembers that, right when Mycroft stepped into the room, something had changed… What was it? Sherlock closes his eyes as he goes over the events, slowing time down until he realizes what had changed.
As Mycroft opens the doors to Sherlock’s rooms the third figure, the one who stands beside Sherlock and John, the one whose personal window reads Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est – (Knowledge Itself Is Power) suddenly goes black—his features erased by the darkness so that he is unrecognizable and Sherlock realizes that Mycroft doesn’t know.
There is a moment of smug satisfaction, the sort that Sherlock always feels when he knows something that his older brother doesn’t… but that satisfaction is almost instantly replaced by dismay, because Mycroft doesn’t know and some small part of Sherlock still believes that his brother should know everything and have the answers to all of his questions. But Mycroft doesn’t know, and even if he did this is a question he probably couldn’t answer… Sherlock thinks as his laptop informs him that he has finally received a response from Rachel.
From: Rachel Wayne
To : Sherlock Holmes
Subject: --no subject--
Date: Friday, December 21th, 2013, 5:22 pm (EST)
You like to ask the tough questions, don’t you?
Sherlock, first you need to remember that feelings aren’t scientific. All feelings, especially love, are illogical. You know how complex humans are Sherlock, even if you like to pretend that you don’t. You also need to remember that I’ve been wrong before. I thought I was in love with Bruce and you know how that turned out.
Love is, in its most simplistic form, a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. That’s the most important thing Sherlock, if you’re in love then the person you’re in love with should make you happy. Not necessarily by doing anything specific, but rather just by being exactly who they are.
Sherlock, I think that he fact you actually emailed me is pretty good proof that you’re actually in love. If the person in question is who I think it is, then he’ll understand if you tell him that you think you’re in love. He’s put up with you for this long and I’ve been reading his blog. Sherlock, if John isn’t in love with you then I think the world is going to have to redefine what love is.
Sherlock reads Rachel’s email twice before before he hits the “home” button, which takes him to John’s blog… Sherlock doesn’t actually have to click to open the individual posts, he has almost the entire blog memorized and as he stares at the picture of his flatmate, the one that stands next to the tiny bio –I am an experienced medical doctor recently returned from Afghanistan, right above the broken hit counter that still reads 1895. The words on the page in front of him start to blur together and form a sort of abstract representation of the two flatmates and their relationship to each other.
It’s so simple that even Anderson could understand, although Donovan would never believe that Sherlock Holmes can feel actual love for anyone… but John Watson’s happiness is essential to Sherlock’s own happiness. John Watson makes him happy, even when he scolds, even when he groans about how Sherlock never buys the milk or cleans up 221 B.
Part of Sherlock wants to sneak up into John’s room, to sit on the bed and wake the former Army doctor up, to whisper I think I’m in love with you. But then Sherlock remembers the Pool, remembers Jim Moriarty’s threat—no, remembers Jim’s promise: If you don’t stop prying… I will burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.
Sherlock Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective, bites his lip and closes his eyes. I love John Watson. Sherlock admits to himself as he rests his head in his hands. But by admitting this to anyone I would only put him in harm’s way… I love John—but unless Moriarty is gone, John can’t ever know.
Chapter 9: 1st Corinthians 13:13
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
–1st Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Seven o’clock on Christmas Eve and the first snow of the years is falling on London. Already Baker Street is covered in a thin layer of snow, practically undisturbed by cars or pedestrians. When Mycroft steps out of his car, umbrella in one hand and a bag of perfectly wrapped gifts in the other, the street is deserted. The British Government nods farewell to his personal assistant (who is calling herself Mary in honor of the holiday season) before turning his back on the car and heading towards 221.
The door has been left unlocked for him, so once he is out of the snow Mycroft Holmes pauses to gaze at the empty street before he closes and locks the door. From the floor above he can hear the sound of Sherlock playing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” on his violin. Once he climbs the stairs Mycroft finds the door to 221B open, but the elder Holmes stops in the doorway, not wanting to interrupt Sherlock’s playing. The younger Holmes brother is perched on the edge of the living room table, with John sitting to his right in the black armchair. DI Lestrade leans on the back of the red armchair while Mrs. Hudson and Molly Hooper share the couch.
The flat has been decorated for the holidays—fairy lights adorn the window and the mantle piece, where several Christmas cards are displayed. Beneath the Cludo board (which is still attached to the wall by a knife) the skull Mycroft gave Sherlock when he finished detox is sitting in it’s usual place, although someone has placed a Santa Hat on top of it and what appears to be a bit of mistletoe is clenched in it’s teeth. On the living room table that Sherlock is perched on there is a tiny Christmas tree, John’s laptop and a small pile of brightly wrapped presents. The Christmas tree, which is shorter then Mycroft’s umbrella is tall, has been decorated with police tape, small test tubes filled with a glowing colored liquid and bits of construction paper someone has cut into the shape of knives and guns. On top of the tree, instead of an angel or a star, is a deerstalker hat.
John, who is wearing an exceptionally festive Christmas jumper, is the first to notice Mycroft’s arrival—right as Sherlock finishes the song with a fancy flourish. The little group applauds and Sherlock bows as Mycroft steps into the room, closing the door behind him and propping his umbrella in the corner. John moves to take the presents from Mycroft and places them with the others on the table as Sherlock puts his violin back in it’s case.
“Molly, Greg—this is Mycroft, Sherlock’s older brother.” John informs the morgue attendant and the Detective Inspector. “He occupies a minor post in the British Government.”
“We’ve met before.” Greg replies, nodding politely in Mycroft’s direction before taking a sip of his drink.
“Mycroft, this is Molly Hooper. She works at Barts.” John gestures towards the young woman, who stands up and extends her hand to Mycroft as the doctor heads into the kitchen.
“A pleasure to meet you.” Mycroft smiles as he shakes her offered hand.
“Oh Sherlock, I wish you could have worn the antlers!” Mrs. Hudson giggles, waving slightly to Mycroft before accepting the cup of tea that John has fetched for her... it appears that the landlady has had a bit too much to drink already.
“Some things are best left to the imagination.” Sherlock frowns slightly as he inspects a tray of mince pies and slices of cake on the table. He glances over at Mycroft for a second before he looks over at John’s laptop. “John, the counter on your blog still says 1,985.”
“Oh no, Christmas is cancelled!” John cries in mock-despair as he moves to stand behind Sherlock and peer at the computer.
“And you’ve got the photograph of me wearing that hat!” Sherlock growls, his eyes darting over to the deerstalker on the Christmas tree before returning to the screen.
“People like the hat.” John replies with a smirk.
“No they don’t!” Sherlock objects, as he turns around so that he’s facing John. “What people?”
Mycroft smiles slightly as John and Sherlock continue to bicker about the deerstalker, John’s blog and several other topics. No wonder people talk—they act like an old married couple! Lestrade abandons the red armchair to take a glass of red wine to Molly and Mycroft quickly claims what has become his preferred seat in 221B.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you.” Molly informs the DI. “I thought you were gonna be in Dorset for Christmas.”
“That’s first thing in the morning.” Lestrade replies. “Me and the wife—we’re back together, it’s all sorted.”
Doubtful. Mycroft thinks. He’d reviewed Molly Hooper and Greg Lestrade’s files yesterday and while they aren’t as extensive as his files on John, Mycroft is reasonably sure that Mrs. Lestrade isn’t faithful. Of course Sherlock would be better equipped to—
“No, she’s sleeping with the P.E. teacher.” Sherlock replies. He’s gone back to looking at John’s computer and doesn’t even look up at Lestrade as he speaks… and, strangely enough, Lestrade seems—well, annoyed but grateful to hear of his wife’s deception. He’s suspected but hasn’t been able to find proof. I expect that ring will be disappearing quite soon.
“Sherlock, bit not good.” John notes, glancing over at Lestrade with sympathy clear upon his face.
It’s okay. Lestrade mouths as he waves his hand dismissively and rolls his eyes at Sherlock.
“What about you John? Off to your sister’s?” Molly asks, trying to find a more polite conversation topic.
“Yes.” John replies as he sits back down in the black armchair. “I’m taking the train tomorrow.”
“Sherlock was comp—” Molly cuts herself off as Sherlock turns slightly so that he can glance at her. “Um… saying.”
“Complaining.” John smirks and Sherlock mutters something under his breath that Mycroft doesn’t catch. “She says she’s cleaned up her act.”
“She hasn’t.” Sherlock remarks.
“Even I know that Sherlock—take a day off.” John sighs as he leans back in the black armchair—only to suddenly jump as if he’d sat on a tack. As the entire room (minus Sherlock) looks over at the former army doctor in confusion John shifts to one side and reaches down into the cushions of the couch. He fumbles for a second before pulling out a phone—Sherlock’s phone to be precise. John stares at the phone for a second, before turning so that he’s facing his flatemate.
“You left your phone… you never leave your phone, especially on vibrate.” John remarks as he holds the phone out to Sherlock, without looking to see who has called the consulting detective.
“I couldn’t change her alert.” Sherlock grumbles as he takes the phone and stares at the screen. The entire room is silent as Sherlock slowly blinks, like he’s part owl and, without saying anything, he stands up and moves past John to the mantelpiece. From behind one of the Christmas cards Sherlock pulls out a small box wrapped in blood red paper and tied with a piece of black string. Mycroft notes that his brother’s hand actually shakes slightly as he slips the string off and opens the box.
“Sherlock?” John asks as he stands. Sherlock tilts the box towards John, so he can see what’s inside. John blinks as he looks down at the mystery present, before he looks back at Sherlock. “Is that—”
“Yes.” Sherlock replies as he slips the box into his pocket.
“Sherlock?” This time it is DI Lestrade who breaks the silence.
“Mycroft…” Sherlock closes his eyes for a second before he looks over at his brother. “I think you’re going to find Irene Adler tonight.”
“We already know where she is.” Mycroft replied, standing up and taking a step towards John and Sherlock. “As you were kind enough to point out, it hardly matters.”
“No, I mean you’re going to find her dead.” Sherlock replies and, before Mycroft can demand that his brother explain himself, his own phone starts ringing. Mycroft doesn’t bother going out into the hallway to answer the call—he doesn’t know how Sherlock has come to this conclusion, but he trusts his brother’s deductions.
“Sir, we’ve lost track of her.” Mary informs him. “There’s evidence of a struggle.”
“Start running Jane Does.” Mycroft replies.
“I’ll have any potentials moved to St. Bart’s.”
It turns out that only one Jane Doe matches Irene Adler’s description... that body, covered by a white sheet, now lies on the slab in front of Mycroft and Sherlock. On the other side of the body stands Molly Hooper, now wearing her lab coat, stands ready to pull back the sheet.
“You didn’t need to come in Molly.” Sherlock whispers.
“Everyone else was busy with… Christmas.” Molly shrugs. “The face is a bit—um, bashed up, so it might be difficult.”
Molly pulls down the sheet, revealing the face, which Mycroft starts to compare with the photos and CCTV footage he’s seen of Irene Adler... he can’t be 100% sure, but the corpse in front of him does appear to be the blackmailing dominatrix.
“That’s her, isn’t it?” Mycroft inquirers, turning slightly towards his younger brother.
Sherlock looks decidedly uncomfortable for a second as he slowly looks up at Molly. “Show me the rest of her?” He asks, far more politely then Mycroft had expected.
Molly grimaces slightly before pulling the sheet back. Of course. Mycroft realizes. Irene tried to (possibly succeeded) throw him off guard by walking into the room naked. Sherlock looks along the length of the body once, then turns and starts to walk away.
“That’s her.” Sherlock says. He doesn’t look back.
“Thank you, Miss Hooper.” Mycroft sighs, sending a one word text message to his personal assistant.
“Who is she?” Molly asks as she covers Adler’s body. “How did Sherlock recognize her from… not her face?”
Mycroft does his best to smile politely before he follows his brother, who has come to a stop in the hallway outside. The world’s only consulting detective is staring out a window at the snow that is still falling outside. As he approaches his brother Mycroft reaches into his pocket and pulls out a single cigarette, which he offers to Sherlock. Sherlock stares at the cigarette for a second before he looks up at Mycroft.
“Just the one.” Mycroft offers.
“Why?” Sherlock narrows his gaze ever so slightly.
Slowly Sherlock reaches out and takes the cigarette from him. As Mycroft digs in his pocket to find a lighter Sherlock stares at the cigarette as if it is evidence in a particularly interesting murder.
“Smoking indoors—isn’t there one of those…” Sherlock pauses as he searches for the right words. “One of those law things?”
“We’re in a morgue.” Mycroft notes as he lights the cigarette for Sherlock. “There’s only so much damage you can do.”
The two brothers fall silent as Sherlock inhales deeply before tilting his head back and blowing the smoke out again as he stares out the window.
“How did you know she was dead?” Mycroft asks.
“She had…an item.” Sherlock explains as he takes another drag of his cigarette. “She said her life depended on it, but she chose to give it up.”
“So now you have it.”
Sherlock turns to look at Mycroft, only for his gaze to go past his brother to the far end of the corridor.
“Look at them.” He whispers and Mycroft turns. At the end of the corridor, past the double doors, a family of three is huddled together in shared grief. “They all care so much… do you ever wonder if there’s something wrong with us?”
“All lives end. All hearts are broken.” Mycroft whispers. “Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.”
“It’s a weakness.” Sherlock blows out another lungful of smoke and looks down at the cigarette in disgust. “This is low tar.”
“Well, you barely knew her.” Mycroft notes.
Sherlock’s entire body suddenly goes still and the cigarette drops from his fingers. It even seems that, for a second, he actually stops breathing. Mycroft frowns and, before he realizes what he’s doing, he has dropped his umbrella and grabbed Sherlock’s shoulders, which he uses to turn the younger man so that the two brothers are facing each other.
“You’re not upset that she’s dead.” Mycroft whispers as Sherlock slowly blinks and seems to retreat back into himself—Mycroft hasn’t seen his brother this… this vulnerable, this wounded since his first day at school, when Sherlock had been called a freak for the first time. “I… I don’t understand Sherlock.”
“John.” Sherlock whispers.
“John?” Myroft blinks in confusion.
“I looked at her and I saw John lying on that slab.” Sherlock explains, shivering slightly but not attempting to escape Mycroft’s grip on his shoulders. “As clearly as I see you now, I saw John in such a state that I could only identify him because of his scar.”
Sherlock blinks once before slowly raising his hand to his face… it is only at that moment that Mycroft realizes that Sherlock is crying. A single audible sob slips past Shelock’s lips before the world’s only consulting detective closes his eyes and drops his hand so that it is covering his lips.
“You… you love him.” Mycroft realizes.
“No!” Sherlock practically growls as he all but throws himself away from Mycroft. “No. I don’t!”
“Sherlock—why are you lying to me?” Mycroft asks as she steps forward so that he is practically pinning his younger brother against the wall.
“He said he’d burn the heart out of me.” Sherlock whispers.
“Sherlock…” Mycroft reaches down and grasps Sherlock’s hand. “If John is your heart, then denying that will only make Moriarty’s threat come true.”
“Caring is a weakness!” Sherlock replies, spitting Mycroft’s words back at him even as he squeezes his brother’s hand.
“Only if you let others exploit it.” Mycroft replies, squeezing Sherlock’s shoulder. “Let your strength grow out of your weakness.”
Sherlock stares at Mycroft, as if his elder brother has suddenly grown a second head, before he steps forward and pulls his brother into a hug. Mycroft stands shocked for a second before he wraps his arms around his younger brother, returning the embrace.
“Thank you My.” Sherlock whispers, his face in the crook of Mycroft’s neck. He gives his brother a final squeeze before he pulls back. “Merry Christmas Mycroft.”
Before Mycroft can reply Sherlock is out of his arms and all but running towards the nearest exit. Mycroft finds himself smiling softly as he picks up his umbrella and, even though his brother is already too far away to hear him, he replies “…and a happy New Year.” With a sigh Mycroft pulls out his phone and hits the first number on his speed dial.
“He’s on his way.” Mycroft informs John. “Have you found anything?”
“No. Did he take the cigarette?” John asks.
“Shit.” John sighs. “Well it looks like he’s clean. I’ve tried all the usual places—are you sure tonight’s a danger night?”
“No.” Mycroft resists the urge to sigh. “But then I never am. John you need to stay with him toni—”
“I already called Harry.” John informs him.
“I’ll call you if anything happens.” John sighs. “Merry Christmas Mycroft.”
“Merry Christmas John—and good luck.”
John sinks into his red armchair with a sigh as he slips his phone back into the pocket of his pants and stares off into space… Irene Adler is, more than likely, dead and John has no idea how Sherlock is going to react. Hell, even Mycroft seems to have no idea how his brother is going to react!
John would feel a bit safer if he’d found some kind of stash, even if it was just a packet of cigarettes… but instead the only thing he’d discovered was that quite a few of his socks had somehow migrated to Sherlock’s sock index. (The stolen socks had been filed under an index card labeled “disguise” except for one pair—lime green with white polka dots—which had been a gag gift from Harry. That pair of socks had been behind the “playing gay” index card.)
Irene Adler shook up Sherlock’s world. She beat him—both metaphorically and literally and now she’s died and left him that damn phone… which means that whoever killed her is probably going to come after Sherlock.
John is so caught up in his thoughts that he doesn’t notice the door to 221B open, or hear Sherlock Holmes, who is panting from running from the nearest tube station (after all it is almost midnight on Christmas Eve, which is not a very good time to find a cab, even if you are Sherlock Holmes) and has a light dusting of snow on his shoulders and head. Sherlock silently watches his flatmate as the snow slowly starts to melt and soak into his coat and hair.
“It was Irene Adler.” Sherlock says, breaking the silence and alerting John to his presence.
John almost jumps out of his seat as he turns around to look at Sherlock, who remains standing in the exact middle of 221B’s living room, his eyes roaming around the room. There are still a few flecks of snow in Sherlock’s hair and John feels a shiver race up his spine—he can tell that something is wrong with the world’s only consulting detective. The look on Sherlock’s face is a strange mixture of the satisfaction of solving a case and the bewilderment that John had glimpsed in the split second where Sherlock thought that he was Moriarty.
“Are… are you okay?” John asks.
Sherlock blinks and frowns as he stares at John. Oh god, Sherlock doesn’t know. He doesn’t know that he cared for her—Jesus Christ how am I supposed to tell him? I mean—should I even tell him?
“Well, I mean…” John stammers as he stands up and moves so that he’s next to Sherlock. “She was… well—”
“Why does everyone think I was in love with her?” Sherlock asks with real, honest to god confusion clear on his face.
“You’re not?” John jerks back, as if he’s been burned.
“Obviously!” Sherlock all but snarls as he tugs his coat off and throws it on the couch. With one hand he jerks off his scarf as his other hand runs through his hair. “John… it was Irene Adler at Bart’s, but I couldn’t—I wasn’t able to look at her, to see her as I usually do. She wasn’t just another puzzle to be solved and I almost couldn’t stand to look at her long enough to even identify her for Mycroft!”
“Sherlock, that’s norma—” Before John can say anything else Sherlock cuts him off.
“No! John, it wasn’t because of any—any emotions I held for her! John… it was you. I saw you lying on Molly’s table at Bart’s…” A strangled sob slips past Sherlock’s lips as he reaches out towards John, only to pull his hand away at the last minute. “John I—I think I love you.”
“Sherlock.” John gasps as Sherlock all but throws himself away from John and starts to pace back in forth in front of the shell shocked doctor.
“Oh, I know that you’re not interested, that you’re not gay and I know that you said everything was fine, but it’s quite another thing when someone is actually expressing an interest in you!” Sherlock babbles like a five year old on way too much sugar, one hand rising to tangle in his hair as he uses the other to gesture widely. “And I’ll understand if you move out, I just… I couldn’t just not tell you this—”
“Sherlock.” John sighs, somewhat exasperated. He takes a step forward, which makes Sherlock stop pacing and turn to face the doctor.
“I didn’t tell you before now because I thought that if I lied then you’d be safe—or at least safer—that perhaps Moriarty would think you less worthy of his attention, but then—”
Fed up with Sherlock’s rambling and his inability to get Sherlock to stop talking and pay attention to him, John Hamish Watson grab’s Sherlock Holmes’ shirt and pulls the consulting detective into a kiss.
Sherlock freezes, his eyes almost comically wide. He struggles for a moment to process all the information suddenly running through his brain before it quite simply shuts down and the world’s only consulting detective melts into his first real kiss, the hand that had been tangling in his own hair moves to cup John’s face as Sherlock starts to kiss the doctor back.
When John finally pulls back to breathe both he and Sherlock are panting like they have run several miles with a gang of thugs chasing after them. While John has the most ridiculous silly grin plastered on his face, Sherlock—despite just being hauled down for a kiss by the man he loves—looks absolutely terrified. John still has his hands fisted in the material of Sherlock’s shirt, but Sherlock’s hand drops to John’s shoulder—the shoulder where he was shot, the shoulder which has the scar Sherlock has never managed to get a good look at...
“John?” Sherlock whispers, suddenly finding himself unable to trust his own deductions.
“I love you.” John whispers and Sherlock’s hand grips John’s shoulder—so hard that it should hurt. “I didn’t tell you, because I thought you didn’t—”
This time Sherlock is the one to cut John’s ramblings off with a kiss… which causes John to smile, because of the contrast between his kiss and Sherlock’s. In a way it’s innocent—Sherlock for once is unsure, a little unsteady on his feet and doesn’t quite know how to get his nose out of the way. But he learns quickly and seems to have dedicated all of his brain to driving John insane with just his lips, his hand that is gripping John’s shoulder and his arm that is wrapped around John’s waist.
“Christ, are you sure you’re a virgin?” John pants when he’s forced to pull away from the kiss and breathe.
“There’s more to life then sex.” Sherlock replies, a light blush staining his cheeks. The consulting detective still has an arm wrapped around John’s waist (well, more like his chest, what with the height difference) and his other hand is still resting on the shorter man’s shoulder.
“Yep, definitely a virgin.” John laughs softly as he wraps his arms around Sherlock’s waist.
“John can—can I see your scar?” Sherlock asks. When John’s eyes dart towards the windows of 221B, Sherlock grabs John’s hand and starts walking towards his bedroom, pulling John along behind him.
“Sherlock!” John scolds, laughter in his voice as they step into the bedroom.
“…bit not good?” Sherlock asks and when John nods he manages to look appropriately chastised. “Sorry.”
John sighs and sits down on Sherlock’s bed as he pulls off his sweater, which he tosses to one side as Sherlock sort of awkwardly hovers in front of him. Sherlock slowly moves closer as John unbuttons his shirt and just as John moves to pull the unbuttoned shirt away from his shoulder Sherlock kneels in front of him and raises on hand to inspect his scar.
A shiver runs down John’s back as Sherlock’s fingertips touch the scar—it’s roughly circular, with a raised edge and a somewhat indented interior roughly the size of a ten pence coin—high caliber rifle or heavy machine gun— Sherlock’s mind supplies. The outer ring is a bit more yellow then John’s skin, with a spattering of red on the inner slopes and bits of white. From the outer ring several small scars branch off—the wound was infected, or some foreign body (sand?) entered it—these scars are red and slightly raised. One of the branches is slightly larger than the others, it branches off from the bottom of the raised circle and points towards John’s heart.
Sherlock slowly moves closer to John and just as the doctor is about to tell Sherlock to just pull out his magnifying glass already the consulting detective closes the gap between the two of them and licks his scar. John gasps suddenly, his right hand instantly tangling in Sherlock’s hair as his back arches and his free hand fists in the sheets on Sherlock’s bed.
But instead of continuing his exploration Sherlock all but throws himself away from John, concern clear upon his face… and John remembers how Sherlock had reacted to Irene Adler’s text message alert.
“No! It—it didn’t hurt.” John stammers, shifting nervously.
Sherlock looks down at the scar for a second before he looks back up at John’s face and slowly runs a fingertip over the scar, watching as John gasps softly and his eyes flutter to half-mast.
“It’s a sex thing?” Sherlock asks.
“Yes.” John laughs. “It’s a sex thing.”
Sherlock stares up at John for a second before he leans up, capturing John’s lips in a surprisingly gentle kiss while he keeps one hand on top of John’s scar. John smiles and starts to move to wrap his arms around Sherlock’s waist, when the world’s only consulting detective suddenly smirks against his lips, tosses John on to the center of the bed.
“Sherlock!” John shrieks as the consulting detective all but rips his shirt off before doing the same with his own jacket and shirt.
“Elevated pulse, dilated pupils and of course—” John squeaks as Sherlock gropes his crotch. “You’re aroused.”
“But… you’re a virgin!” John winces slightly the second the words slip past his lips.
“Internet—and you experimented at university.” Sherlock replies with a smirk and John groans as the world’s only consulting detective starts to divest him of his pants.
I’m doomed… John thinks as he lifts his hips to help Sherlock. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As soon as John is lying naked on the bed Sherlock stands up and darts over to lock the bedroom door. John props himself up and watches as Sherlock somehow manages to remove his pants without actually stopping as he makes his way between the door and his bedside table, where he pulls a condom and what looks suspiciously like the container of lube that had gone missing form John’s bedside table.
“Sherlock?” John inquires as his flatmate climbs back on the bed.
“It was for an experiment.” Sherlock replies. “You weren’t using them.”
“What sort of experime—” John is cut off as Sherlock slowly works one finger in, all of his attention focused on John, his eyes locked on John’s, who shudders as he realizes that the world’s only consulting detective’s attention is focused on him—plain old John Hamish Watson.
“You invaded Afghanistan, killed a man to protect me, tackled Moriarty and even stood up to Mycroft.” Sherlock notes, using the same tone that he uses for explaining his deductions to Lestrade. “I’m beginning to think that John Hamish Watson is somehow blind to his own sheer depth of character.”
Before John can reply Sherlock slips in a second finger and brushes against John’s prostate, drawing a sort of hiccup-gasp from the doctor as his body clenches around the invading digits.
“…good?” Sherlock asks in a whisper, not entirely sure of himself.
“Prostate.” John replies with a laugh that quickly turns into a whimper as Sherlock runs his fingers back over that spot, before he starts scissoring his fingers, slowly spreading his fingers further and further apart.
John’s grabs a fistful of the sheet underneath him as Sherlock leans down and, his eyes never leaving John’s, he presses his lips against John’s scar in a gentle kiss. As Sherlock no doubt expected this draws a groan from the shorter man, who tangles one hand in Sherlock’s hair as the man slips in a third finger.
John can feel the world’s only consulting detective smirk before he bites John’s shoulder, just above the scar, at the same time that Sherlock’s fingers brush against John’s prostate. John screams and has a momentary thought of dear god I hope that Mrs. Hudson didn’t hear that! before he manages to untangle his hand form the bed sheets and blindly fumbles for the condoms Sherlock had thrown on the bed. Just as John’s hand closes around one Sherlock’s free hand covers John’s.
John forces himself to open his eyes and look up at Sherlock, who is sort of hovering over him, panting ever so slightly, as if he’d just run a few blocks… although John can feel the real cause of Sherlock’s shortness of breath.
“I’m ready.” John whispers.
Sherlock pauses for a second, simply staring down at John, before he dips down for a brief kiss. John smiles as Sherlock takes the condom from him and pulls back slightly, before he opens the condom exactly how all the safe sex people tell you too—rip open the package, pull out the condom, put it in the palm of your hand to make sure you’ve got it oriented it correctly, pinch the tip and then roll down… if he wasn’t just the tiniest bit afraid that Sherlock would actually walk away then John would laugh and tell Sherlock to just relax already! If you just saw Sherlock’s face you would think that he was filling out a lot of incredibly dull paperwork.
“I’m deducing John.” Sherlock scoffs. “You experimented… but you were never the receiving partner.”
“That’s cause all my mates were idiots.” John huffs as Sherlock settles down between his legs and, with one long slow push, forces his way inside. John moans, his eyes close and his spine arches as Sherlock pauses to let him adjust... when John’s pants die down just the slightest bit Sherlock shifts ever so slightly and thrusts, hitting John’s prostate and drawing a scream from the shorter man.
“Sherlock!” John gasps, wrapping his legs around the taller man and reaching up to pull him down into a kiss. He can feel Sherlock shivering, shaking just the tiniest bit as he eagerly responds to the kiss while setting a punishing pace that neither man could hope to keep up for long.
John tries to hold back, to delay the inevitable as long as possible—after all, some small part of his mind still believes that this might be the only chance he has with Sherlock… however that part of his mind is firmly silenced when Sherlock pulls away from the kiss and stares down into John’s eyes, which opened the second that the consulting detective pulled away.
“John, you are… invaluable.” Sherlock whispers as, with one final hard thrust, both men tumble over the edge and John Watson almost blacks out.
He drifts back towards consciousness slowly, and by the time he can force his eyes to open Sherlock has already pulled out, apparently cleaned the two of them off and is climbing back into the bed. The world’s only consulting detective pulls the covers over the two of them and sort of curls himself around John, his head resting on John’s uninjured shoulder as his hand comes to rest over the ex-army doctor’s scar.
Doomed and loving it. John thinks as he turns slightly towards Sherlock and wraps and arm around the man’s thin waist. What on earth did I do to earn this man’s heart?
“Stop thinking.” Sherlock yawns, without opening his eyes. “You’re clever, so you should be able to figure out that you’re worth everything.”
“Love you too ‘Lock.” John mutters as he does his best to stop thinking and fall asleep in Sherlock’s arms.
Author’s Note: Once again, I am eternally thankful for ariandevere’s A Scandal in Belgravia script, which can be found here.
According to my British friends the yellow “police line do not cross” tape which we in the US are so familiar with’s equivalent in England is blue and white, called “police tape” and looks like this.
Mycroft’s advice to Sherlock (“Let your strength grow out of your weakness.”) is inspired by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our strength grows out of our weakness.”
Sherlock stealing John’s socks and the organization of his sock drawer is taken from / inspired by one of my favorite fanartists, reapersun, specifically this picture.
A ten pence coin is roughly the size of a quarter.
Chapter 10: Prophecy or Fallacy?
The sun has only been up for about three minutes, but already children all over London are waking up their parents or just sneaking downstairs to open their presents or tip their stockings upside down to see what tumbles out. Parents stumble downstairs towards the promise of coffee and curse themselves for putting toys that make noise in their children’s stockings.
Meanwhile, at 221B Baker Street, John Watson and Sherlock Holmes are still asleep. The door to 221B is locked, as is the door which leads from the kitchen into Sherlock’s bedroom and both their phones are out in the living room. Sherlock’s room is dark—almost no light makes it’s way through the curtains that cover his window and the room is pleasantly warm. At some point in the night the two men have shifted, so that John is facing away from Sherlock, playing the little spoon to Sherlock’s big spoon. The taller man has wrapped his long arms around John as if he is a consulting octopus instead of a consulting detective.
John shifts slightly in his sleep and—without waking—Sherlock manages to pull himself even closer to the doctor, who shudders slightly as he sleeps. Sherlock is the type of man who, once he falls asleep, tends to see nothing but a dark emptiness for a few second before he wakes up in the morning. John, however, is a dreamer… and unfortunately for John his dreams aren’t always nice, even if he’s had a—well a fucking fantastic day. After several short, silly dreams, the sort that John won’t remember when he wakes up, things in John’s dream shift as he blinks…
There’s blood on the sand. The air is heavy with gunfire and the shouts of the soldiers—both the barking of orders and the shrieks of pain. The loudest of those shrieks comes from the man who John is kneeling next to. He’s been shot in the leg and is crying out for his mother as John does the best he can to stop the bleeding. His name is Richard Carter and he’s got a fiancé waiting for him back in London.
John knows that Richard will live—two weeks after John moves into 221B he received a card from Richard with pictures of his wedding. If you’re last names isn’t Holmes you’d never guess that his right leg is a prosthetic.
John knows this… but that knowledge doesn’t exactly help calm him down—he’s too firmly in the grips of the dream.
He bandages Richard up as best he can, given the circumstances, and is cautiously looking around in an attempt to find Bill when the world sort of… well freezes. For a second John can’t feel anything—save for the horrible feeling that something is wrong. The world seems to move in slow motion and time stretches out… until everything explodes, like a balloon that has been stabbed by a pin.
It hurts. Everything hurts.
John feels sick, like he’s going to vomit, but before he can the nausea is swept up and vanishes under the pain, which seems to come in waves that only get bigger and bigger. John realizes that he’s been shot at the same time that he realizes he is lying on his back in the sand, only a few feet away from Richard. Bill Murray is leaning over him, concern clear in his face as he shouts at someone off to the side. John only realizes that he’s been screaming bloody murder when Bill presses on the wound in an attempt to stop the blood flow. He closes his eyes for a second and somehow manages to get control of his voice—he doesn’t call out for his mother, like Richard did, instead he chants the same five words over and over again, his voice rising and falling with the waves of pain until he passes out, those five words still echoing in his mind.
Please God, let me live. Please God, let me live. Please God, let me live. Please God…
As he sleeps John tries to toss and turn but Sherlock—who is still asleep—just wraps his arms even tighter around the shorter man and nuzzles at John’s neck. The ex-soldier sighs softly as his body almost instantly relaxes and his dream shifts in a more pleasant direction…
John has been in London for a little less than a week when, somehow, an old rugby mate from Blackheath is informed that he’s back from the war. So John is all but dragged off on a night of drinking. The others haven’t changed one bit—the moment they sit down they start drinking like they’re in their twenties. John contemplates joining them in getting wankered, but quickly decides that he’d rather remain (mostly) sober and thus not want to kill himself the next day. As the others get progressively more shit-faced, they start flirting and one or two leave with a woman whose name they probably won’t remember in the morning (well, most leave with women… one exceptionally plastered fellow ends up walking out arm in arm with a not-too convincing crossdresser).
As the group slowly dwindles John remains at his table, which is set slightly apart from the others—while his old mates haven’t treated him any differently, he doesn’t quite feel that he belongs. It doesn’t take long for all but the most experienced of drinkers to drift away, leaving John all but alone… however just as he starts thinking about getting his coat and heading home, a woman sits down across from him.
She’s several inches taller than him, with brown wavy hair, so dark that it’s almost black, that hangs down past her shoulders. Her eyes are emerald green—the first eyes that John’s seen which are actually worthy of that description. She’s sort of… well “generically exotic”, her features setting her apart from the usual crowd in a London Pub, but not pointing to any one ethnic background. She is modestly dressed—jeans and a t-shirt which doesn’t even dip down to show off anything. The woman doesn’t even bother to actually flirt—she just slides a glass of bear across the table and watches as John drinks. As soon as he finishes she pulls out a hotel keycard and holds it like a cigarette—between her middle and index finger.
John raises and eyebrow and she smirks, tapping the keycard against the table. With a shrug John grabs his cane and rises to her feet. She pulls on an expensive leather jacket while John gets his own battered black coat and the two head out into the night, walking side by side. John doesn’t remember how they get from the pub to a luxurious hotel room, but he does remember—with perfect clarity—what happens between the sheets of that hotel room’s king sized bed.
The woman had read John’s name off his dog tags and seen all that she really needed to know of his personal history in his scared shoulder and his unscarred leg. She didn’t offer John her name and he didn’t ask… when John woke up the following morning she was gone, as if she’d never actually been there in the first place. It was almost like John had slipped into some sort of strange alternate universe—a universe where beautiful, exotic women flirted with disabled ex-army doctors.
Sherlock Holme’s eyes snap open and he smirks as he looks down at John, who is slowly starting to wake up. Sherlock glances over at the clock on his bedside table before he leans down and gently kisses the sleeping doctor. John’s eyes slowly slip open as he wakes up to a new chapter in his life. When Sherlock pulls back from the kiss John can’t help but place a short kiss to Sherlock’s lips as the two smile.
“Merry Christmas John.” Sherlock whispers.
“Merry Christmas Sherlock.” John replies with a soft giggle.
Later that day, as fresh snow falls on London, Sherlock stands in front of the window of 221B and plays his violin as John fiddles with his new phone—a Christmas gift from Mycroft. John sits on the sofa, with a new laptop on the coffee table in front of him, which was a Christmas gift from Sherlock (although John is pretty sure that Mycroft actually did the purchasing). Every now and then Sherlock pauses to pick up a pencil and make a note on the loose music sheets that occupy his music stand. As John figures out how to set up his voicemail he glances over at his—well boyfriend, although that word makes him feel like’s he’s twelve years old, since he has to fight to resist the urge to giggle whenever he thinks “Sherlock Holmes is my boyfriend” so he’s leaning towards calling Sherlock his “partner”.
“Are you composing?” John asks.
“Helps me think.” Sherlock replies as he glances over at John’s old laptop, which was sitting on the table in between the windows, awaiting the moment that Sherlock decided just what sort of experiment he wanted to use to destroy it, now that it was no longer needed.
“So what are you thinking about?” John asks as he manages to stumble upon the menu which will allow him to password protect his phone.
“The counter on your blog is still stuck at one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five.” Sherlock replies, using his violin bow to point at John’s old laptop.
“Yeah… it’s faulty.” John blinks in confusion. “Can’t seem to fix it.”
“Faulty…” Sherlock smirks as he puts down his violin and pulls out Irene’s phone. “Or you’ve been hacked and it’s a message.”
Sherlock all but throws himself on to the couch next to John and types “1895” into the phone… which immediately beeps and displays a message which says “WRONG PASSCODE – 3 ATTEMPTS REMAINING”
“Just faulty.” Sherlock grumbles, as he goes practically boneless on the couch and unenthusiastically tosses Irene Adler’s phone on to the coffee table.
John sighs and looks down at his new phone… and smirks slightly as he notices how his password screen is laid out. The doctor quickly types in four letters and locks the phone before holding it out towards Sherlock. Sherlock blinks and tilts his head first to one side and then the other as he inspect the phone. When John sighs and moves so that the hand holding the phone is closer to Sherlock the consulting detective finally takes it from John opens it up—sighing as the phone demands his passcode.
“I’ve deduced every password on your old laptop, including one which was a ‘random’ string of 42 numbers. I appreciate your attempts to entertain me John, but this won’t take long.”
“Whatever you say Mr. Consulting Detective.” John smirks as Sherlock stares at him for a second before typing in four numbers.
Sherlock sighs and tries again.
This time Sherlock actually frowns before he types in his next guess.
The world’s only consulting detective grumbles under his breath before he tries another code, this time he hesitates for a few second between the first two numbers and the second two.
John smirks and resists the urge to laugh as Sherlock glares at him for a second before he continues to try and unlock his new phone. Every now and then the taller man will mumble under his breath or grumble in anger as he fails yet again. When John realizes that he can’t fight his giggles anymore he stands up and goes to make himself some tea, while Sherlock pulls his knees up to his chest and glares at the phone as he stabs at the keys.
John takes his time in preparing and then drinking his cup of tea at the kitchen table, pausing occasionally to chuckle at the increasingly frustrated noises that slip past Sherlock’s lips. He finishes his cup of tea and rinses out his mug before heading back into the living room, where Sherlock is still trying to figure out John’s passcode.
“I should take a picture of this—I’m sure Greg would love to see you stumped.”
“Who?” Sherlock asks, looking up from the phone and blinking like an owl.
“Inspector Lestrade—his first name is Greg.” John sighs as he takes the phone from Sherlock’s hand and sits down on the couch next to the consulting detective. After making sure that Sherlock is watching, John slowly types in the four numbers that make up his password—437-and shows the completed passcode screen to Sherlock before pressing enter.
“Why… why did you choose that?” Sherlock asks, sounding genuinely confused as he stares down at the phone.
“Well, you’re supposed to make it something that you’ll remember but other people won’t guess.” John replies as he slips the phone into his pocket. “It’s not uncommon for people to use… um—a loved one’s name as their password. Remember how Jennifer Wilson used her daughter’s name?”
“… I guess?” John shrugs, not entirely sure where Sherlock’s train of thought is taking him.
“John, would you say that Irene Alder was…” Sherlock searches for the right word for a few seconds, “…aroused by me?”
John can’t stop himself from making a horrible snorting noise as he chokes on nothing at the same time that he laughs. Sherlock stares at him in concern as John coughs and tries to get his breath back.
“Yes.” He finally manages to say. “Either that or she knew how much her ringtone would annoy yo—”
And suddenly John finds himself on his back over the arm of the couch, with Sherlock practically sitting on his lap, kissing the living daylights out of him.
“John, you are a genius!” Sherlock whispers once he pulls back, a triumphant look in his eye as, without moving off of John’s lap, the consulting detective digs out Irene Adler’s phone and punches in the same four numbers before turning the phone so that John can see the same message which unlocked his own phone—I AM SHERLOCKED
“You can’t be ser—” John is cut off by the phone beeping as it unlocks.
Wait… did I just out-deduce Sherlock Holmes? John thinks as he proceeds to laugh his ass off. The doctor isn’t too surprised to find Sherlock joining him in slightly insane laughter, although he does spare a thought for poor Mrs. Hudson who, if she can hear them, is probably thinking that her two tenants have finally gone insane.
“Irene Adler is alive. She was under the impression I would help her abduct John Watson… I’m not entirely sure why she wanted the Doctor.”
“Obviously she was hoping for a more extreme reaction from my brother.”
“Her intelligence is quite good—she knew my current name.”
“That is troubling… if it was possible to increase surveillance on 221B I would order that.”
“Actually we’ve had to decrease our eyes and ears strategically—it appears you can finally make that ‘happy announcement’ sir.”
“I suspected as much… I suppose you’ve already modified our surveillance?”
“Of course sir.”
“Thank you Minerva.”
Sherlock looks down at his cell phone. John had gone out to do some shopping so that he could cook the two of them dinner… the doctor apparently wanted to make some dish called “Hoppin’ John” that was supposed to give you good luck if you ate it on New Year’s Eve. Sherlock had gone out for a walk in an attempt to think more clearly upon the subject of his brother and the room in his brother’s memory palace which he’d been inside—the room that was clearly dedicated to him, the room which had pushed Sherlock to confessing to John, the room which his brother couldn’t grasp the full meaning of.
Unfortunately he hadn’t been able to quite come up with an answer for his unasked and unspoken questions… so he’d turned his step towards 221B and put his key in the door, only to stop as he realized that the door had been jimmied open. Slowly the world’s only consulting detective pushes the doors open and steps into the hall. Almost immediately he saw that the door to Mrs. Hudson’s flat was slightly ajar and about halfway down the hall was a plastic bucket full of cleaning materials before stepping closer to the stairs.
It is at this point that Sherlock sees the scuff marks on the wall—the marks just above the risers.
Walking backwards, up stairs, feeling way with their feet. Second set made by another person, following the first, being thrown off balance. Sherlock’s mind informs him as he peers more closely at a small indentation in the wallpaper. Someone dragging their hand along the wall, clawing at it in an attempt to stow themselves being hauled backwards up the stairs… nails too deep to be Joh—Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock can picture it like he was there—Mrs. Hudson being half-pulled and half-carried upstairs by two men, while the third walks in front of them. He can hear her crying out in panic, crying out for him.
For a moment Sherlock simple stood at the bottom of the stairs as the expression on his face changes from his usual detached deductive gaze... Most people, when the blood drains from their faces it means they are fearful, that they’ve gone white with fear, but Sherlock… when all the blood drains from Sherlock’s face it seems to take his emotions with it, leaving just his skull white face and his cold, calculating, murderous rage. Sherlock allows that rage to build for a few second and then starts slowly, calmly, moving up the stairs, knowing that whoever has potentially harmed Mrs. Hudson is waiting for him… and probably armed.
When he reaches the door of 221B Sherlock calmly pushes the door open and steps inside. Mrs. Hudson is sitting on a dinning chair facing the door, with her back to the fireplace. Behind her stands the CIA man who led the raid on Irene Adler’s house, the one who had given the order to shoot John if Sherlock didn’t open the safe. He is holding a pistol with a silencer to the back of Mrs. Hudson’s neck. One of his men is standing by the window directly across from the door, the other is standing near the sliding door that leads into the kitchen. As Sherlock steps into the room he keeps his hands clasped behind his back and Mrs. Hudson, who had been crying quietly before Sherlock entered, begins to sob a little louder.
“Sherlock…” she whimpers.
“Don’t snivel Mrs. Hudson. It’ll do nothing to impede the flight of a bullet.” Sherlock all but snaps at his landlady, before shifting his gaze to the leader of the three men. “What a tender world that would be.”
“I believe you have something that we want, Mr. Holmes.” The leader replies.
“Then why don’t you ask for it?” Sherlock asks, moving closer to Mrs. Hudson and offering her his right hand. She all but flails towards it, whimpering and grabbing his hand in a surprisingly strong grip. Gently Sherlock turns back her sleeve and stares at the bruises on her wrist.
“Sher—” Mrs. Hudson is cut off by the CIA man.
“I’ve been asking this one. She doesn’t seem to know anything.” He remarks. “But you know what I’m asking for, don’t you Mr. Holmes?”
Sherlock’s gaze sweeps over Mrs. Hudson, noting where her cardigan has been ripped at the seam and the skin underneath can be seen, and where she has a cut on her right cheek—a ring on the leader’s right hand, the hand holding his pistol, has a ring with blood on it. Sherlock raises his head and looks directly at the leader of the CIA men… but he isn’t deducing him. Instead he’s picking out target points on his body.
Carotid Artery. Skull. Eyes. Artery. Lungs. Ribs.
“I believe I do.” The world’s only consulting detective whispers. He squeezes Mrs. Hudson’s hand once before releasing it and straightening up—his hands retreating to rest behind his back. “First, get rid of your boys.”
“Why?” The leader snaps.
“I dislike being outnumbered.” Sherlock sneers. “It makes for too much stupid in the room.”
“You two, go to the car.” The leader orders after hesitating for a second.
“Then get into the car and drive away.” Sherlock orders. “Don’t try to trick me, you know who I am. It doesn’t work.”
The two men leave the room and head down the stairs. Sherlock takes a deep breath and focuses his attention on the leader, ignoring the two men—they’ll obey him.
“Next, you can stop pointing that gun at me.” Sherlock orders the one remaining man.
“So you can point a gun at me?” The man sneers.
“I’m unarmed.” Sherlock replies, stepping back and spreading his arms to either side.
“Mind if I check?” The man asks.
“Oh… I insist.” Sherlock replies, resisting the urge to smirk as the American moves around Mrs. Hudson and over to Sherlock, where he starts patting him down. Sherlock stands meekly with his arms spread as the man walks around behind him, searching for a hidden weapon… Sherlock rolls his eyes at Mrs. Hudson, who is smiling slightly —and suddenly a sanitizer spray can is in Sherlock’s hands and he is spraying the contents into the American’s eyes. As the man screams, Sherlock savagely head butts him and the American falls back over the coffee table, unconscious.
After checking to make sure that the man is unconscious, Sherlock moves over to Mrs. Hudson. He drops to his knees in front of her and makes a quick inspection. “You’re all right now?” Sherlock asks as he gently stokes her face, being careful of her injured cheek.
“Yes.” She replies in a whisper, a soft fond smile on her face. She glance over at the unconscious American and adds in a soft giggle, “Sherlock, the mess you make!”
John sighs as he finally reaches 221B with his bags of groceries… only to find a small piece of paper underneath the knocker--- CRIME IN PROGRESS PLEASE DISTURB. Abandoning the groceries near the door to Mrs. Hudson’s flat John runs up the stairs and into the living room.
“What’s going on?” He asks as he takes in the sight of the American, the one who had ordered him to be shot, who is bound, gagged and bloody as h sits in a chair near the fireplace. Mrs. Hudson is sitting on the sofa and Sherlock is in a chair near her, holding a pistol (one that isn’t John’s) with one hand while he uses the other hand to hold his phone to his ear.
“Jeez… what the hell happened?” John asks.
“Mrs. Hudson’s been attacked by an American.” Sherlock informs him and John immediately hurries over to their landlady. “I’m resorting balance to the universe.”
“Are you alright?” John asks as he wraps an arm around Mrs. Hudson’s shoulders and glares at the American. “Jesus, what have they done to you?”
“Oh, I’m just being so silly.” Mrs. Hudson sobs, covering her face with her hands.
“Downstairs.” Sherlock says as he gets to his feet, still aiming the gun at the American and holding his phone against his ear. “Take her downstairs and look after her.”
“All right.” John replies, helping Mrs. Hudson to stand and move towards the door. “Are you gonna tell me what’s going on?” He asks Sherlock.
“I expect so. Now go.” Sherlock whispers. The two look at each other for a moment, before they both turn and glare at the American, who actually shivers slightly as the two men—right as John turns to follow Mrs. Hudson downstairs he smiles ever so slightly and the American instantly knows that this is not going to end well for him…
“Lestrade?” Sherlock smiles slightly as the DI picks up his phone. “We’ve had a break-in at Baker Street. Send your least irritating officers and an ambulance…”
The American can’t hear what the DI is saying on the other end, so instead he watches as Sherlock moves towards the table and calmly places the pistol on top of it.
“Oh, no-no-no, we’re fine. No, it’s the, uh, it’s the burglar… he’s got himself rather badly injured.”
Another few moments of silence as the DI speaks to Sherlock.
“He fell out of a window.” Sherlock replies and, as he continues to stare directly at the American, he hangs up the phone.
“And exactly how many times did he fall out the window?”
“It’s all a bit of a blur, Detective Inspector… I lost count.”
“You’re not in shock are you?” John asks Mrs. Hudson as the two of them wait for Sherlock to finish talking to Lestrade. The landlady still looks slightly shaken, and they both have a cup of tea sitting in front of them, with a third cup prepared for Sherlock.
“No, not really.” Mrs. Hudson giggles slightly as Sherlock steps into 221A and politly wipes his feet on the doormat before he sits down next to the unclaimed cup of tea.
“So this was over the phone, wasn’t it?” John asks Sherlock, who nods silently before taking a sip of his tea. “For God’s sake, all this over some bloody stupid camera phone? Where is it, anyway?”
“Safest place I know.” Sherlock replies glancing over at Mrs. Hudson, who reachs into her top and pulls the phone out of her bra before handing it to Sherlock.
“You left it in the pocket of your second-best dressing gown, you clot.” She laughs. “I managed to sneak it out when they thought I was having a cry.”
“Thank you.” Sherlock takes the phone from Mrs. Hudson and tosses it in the air before he puts it into his coat pocket.
“I can’t help but feel that you’re wasted as a landlady.” John giggles as Sherlock throws a protective arm over Mrs. Hudson’s shoulders and gives her a quick hug.
James Neilson, the leader of the American Agents who went about first Irene Adler then Sherlock Holmes is very, very grateful to be alive right now... even if he is lying cuffed to a hospital bed, in horrible pain with not nearly enough pain meds in his opinion. At least he’s alive and away from Sherlock fucking Holmes! Now, if only he could manage to reach the remote then perhaps he can find something on the TV to distract him until his name gets run through a system and his people get him out of this jam.
Just as James’s hand closes around the remote, the door to his hospital room opens and two people step in—the first is an attractive young woman, with a cell phone in her hands. She doesn’t seem to actually look where she’s going and she’s texting on her phone as she stands next to James’ hospital bed.
The second person to enter the room is an older man—middle aged but fairly fit. He’s wearing a full suit—with a matching vest, a pocket watch, tie pin and even a handkerchief in his pocket and he carries a black umbrella with a curved wood grip. He’s not the sort of man who would usually be described as terrifying… but for some reason James finds himself wanting to back away from the older man, who stops at the side of the hospital bed and extracts a small black book from a pocket of his suit’s jacket. He flips through the book for a few seconds before he speaks.
“Mr. James Neilson, isn’t it?” The man asks and James freezes. “I understand that you were under orders to obtain Miss Adler’s phone… but you’ve made quite an unforgivable mistake.”
There is a moment of silence as Neilson tries to figure out what the hell is going on.
“My name is Mycroft Holmes… no doubt your higher ups told you about me.” The man smirks slightly at the fear in Neilson’s eyes as he remembers what his superiors had told him about Mycroft Holmes… and then he connects the dots. “Of course, I’m not here because of them… I’m here because you thought it was wise to threaten my little brother.”
When I got back to Baker Street Mrs H. had been attacked. I've never seen her like that and it struck me again just how close to home this all this. People know where we live. People know who our friends are. But, oh Mrs H, she's so brave. They'd done horrible things to her but she had what they were looking for. She'd not given it up. The things we do for Sherlock Holmes, eh?
Speaking of which, he’s actually started playing “Auld Lang Syne”, so I better post this and break out the bubbly before December 31st becomes January 1st.
Happy New Year.
John quickly checks his latest blog entry for any spelling errors before he posts the newest update to his blog. Sherlock is humming softly along with “Auld Lang Syne” as he plays. As soon as John sees the new post appear he shuts down his computer and moves to stand at the window with Sherlock, who sets his violin down and, hesitantly, wraps an arm around John’s shoulders. John smiles and leans against Sherlock as the two of them look out at Baker Street.
“Happy New Year Sherlock.” John whispers, tilting his head so that he can look at Sherlock.
“Not for another few minutes.” The consulting detective replies, before he leans down to gently kiss John.
When John pulls back to breathe he smiles softly and leans a little more against Sherlock, who has wrapped his other arm around John’s shoulders. Sherlock’s eyes dart towards his bedroom and John laughs before giving the taller man a bit of a shove.
“Do you know the reason couples kiss at midnight on New Years?” John asks as he follows Sherlock out of the living room and through the kitchen. Sherlock pauses at the door to his room to look back at John.
“There’s a reason?” He asks and John laughs as he playfully pushes Sherlock into the bedroom.
“Yes. It’s good luck.” John explains as Sherlock pauses at the end of the bed, where he stands completely clothed in front of John, his skin seeming almost white in the moonlight. “They say that what you do at midnight sets the stage for what you’ll be doing all year long.”
“John, that’s physically impos—” Sherlock begins, but John cuts him off with a kiss and another shove, only to find that Sherlock has grabbed his wrist so that—as clocks all over London start ringing in the New Year, Sherlock Holmes falls, with John Watson following close behind him
Author’s Note: Anthea’s current name, Minerva, is the Roman equivalent of Anthea, so she’s the Goddess of wisdom and war. (She’s also on the Great Seal of the State of California!)
Wikipedia says you’re supposed to eat Hoppin’ John on New Years Day, but my family always ate it on New Years Eve, so Sherlock and John are following my family’s traditions, even though I’m form the US.
Chapter 11: We Are Not Alone
John had always been under the impression that the Holidays were, in general, a bad time to be in any way involved with law enforcement—and while that appears to be true for Greg, business for the world’s only consulting detective is painfully slow. Excluding Irene Adler Sherlock had one case—which had involved a dead squirrel and a turkey baster—during all of December. January isn’t looking that much better, since it’s the eleventh and Sherlock has nothing to do. So the moment that Sherlock starts to look like he’s considering finding John’s gun and decorating the wall with some new bullet holes, John decides to check something goff of his list of things that (he believes) Sherlock needs to know—even if Sherlock says that he doesn’t. John has been both adding to and chipping away at this list ever since he learned that Sherlock had “deleted the solar system” and that the consulting detective had no idea who James Bond was.
So Sherlock Holmes and John Watson end up sitting on the couch in 221B… well, John is sitting. Sherlock is sprawled all over and leaning heavily against John’s side as they watch an episode of Doctor Who, specifically “The Eleventh Hour”. Strangely enough Sherlock actually seems to be enjoying the show… in his own strange way of course.
“Fish fingers and custard?” Sherlock remarks, as the Eleventh Doctor happily munches on the combination in question while Amelia Pond watches. John has a brief flash of himself watching Sherlock the first time that his flatemate turned boyfriend had brought back a body part and dissected it on the kitchen table while John was trying to eat lunch.
“What about them?” John asks, shifting slightly so he can look at Sherlock.
“We have to buy some.” Sherlock replies, his gaze never leaving the TV screen.
“You… you actually want to try that?” John blinks, unable to keep himself from giggling slightly as Sherlock glares at him out of the corner of his eye. “Actually… I think we’ve got some—unless you decided to use them in an experiment.”
When no response comes from Sherlock—unless you count the “What?!?” that slips out when the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver for the first time and when the Atraxi appears for the first time—John just laughs and heads towards the kitchen.
“Something’s in the room!” Sherlock shouts at the screen as John starts digging around in the freezer for the fish fingers—where he manages to find a bag which has what appears to be a left foot that John hadn’t realized was there. When he manages to find the fish fingers and the custard both end up being both uncontaminated by Sherlock’s experiments and pre-expiration date… so John starts cooking.
“Oh come on, clearly you were gone more than five minutes!” Sherlock growls at the screen as John searches for a bowl to put the custard in. While the fish fingers cook John fires off a text to Mycroft and Lestrade.
I’m introducing Sherlock to Doctor Who. He wants to try fish fingers and custard.
“She’s not a real police woman!” Despite the fact that he’s yelling at the screen, Sherlock actually sound like he’s having fun… which John honestly hadn’t expected. John had thought that Sherlock would watch about five seconds of the show, declare it idiotic and then go sulk somewhere or start playing his violin. “Oh, of course—she’s Amelia Pond!”
I watched Doctor Who with Sherlock when we were younger, but he’s probably deleted it.
“Oh, of course. It’s using the coma patients. No different from stealing their identities in the real world.”
Are you sure that Sherlock isn’t a Time Lord? I mean, have you checked him for a watch?
John giggles softly as he quickly types out a response to Greg’s text.
I was afraid he’d turn out to be the Master. If I find a watch you can help me toss it into the ocean.
After he sends the text John picks up the bowl of custard and the plate of fish fingers and heads back into the living room. He sets the requested food down on the coffee table as the Doctor tries to use his sonic screwdriver to unlock his handcuffs. Without taking his eyes off the screen Sherlock reaches forward and snags a fish finger off the plate. As John sits down Sherlock quickly dunks the fish finger in the bowl of custard and takes a bite as he leans back against John.
John finds himself staring at Sherlock as he licks at the fish finger before taking a small bite out of it. On screen the Doctor licks Amy’s garden shed to determine it’s age.
“That might be useful…” Sherlock remarks.
“It’s a TV show Sherlock, don’t even think about it.” John sighs, struggling not to gag as Sherlock dunks the fish finger into the custard again. “How… how can you eat that?”
Sherlock looks down at the fish for a second and shrugs before he settles down to consume the rest of his snack… he remains mostly silent, until the camera zooms in to show how the Doctor sees the world—as the camera zooms around people before focusing in on Rory and his camera phone Sherlock pauses, a fish finger halfway to his mouth and his gaze riveted on the screen.
“Is that what it’s like?” John asks.
“…not really.” Sherlock admits, his voice dropping to a whisper. “But it’s close.”
John smiles, but says nothing as the episode continues. The two men remain mostly silent—Sherlock scoffs at a few points, but doesn’t actually say anything—as the episode continues.
John is the first to break the silence. Onscreen the Doctor is making his big speech to the aliens as he figures out his new outfit. What happened to them? The Doctor asks as he tries out different ties.
“You remind me of him sometimes.” The ex-army doctor informs the consulting detective.
“Who?” Sherlock asks, a frown on his face as he eats the last fish finger. “Rory?”
“Don’t dis Rory.” John laughs. Hello, I’m the Doctor. Basically… run. “You remind me of the Doctor.”
Sherlock blinks and stares at John, before he glances back to the screen, where the Doctor is informing Amy that bowties are cool.
“Why?” Sherlock asks, seeming genuinely confused.
“Well, he’s brilliant, and a bit mad and—” John sighs as he reaches out and grabs Sherlock’s hand. Sherlock instantly entwines their fingers. “And he’s a good man.”
Anything you want to say? The Doctor asks Amy as he practically jumps around the TARDIS’ new control room. Any passing remarks? I’ve heard them all!
“…reminds me of you.” Sherlock mumbles suddenly, glancing away from John just as the smaller man notices what just might be a blush coloring Sherlock’s cheeks.
“Oh? Who do I remind you of?” John asks. “Rory?”
“No, not Rory! You…” Sherlock grumbles softly. On screen the TARDIS takes off as the camera slowly pans up to show Amy’s wedding dress. “You remind me of the Doctor.”
“Well I am a doctor.” John finds himself smirking as the credits start to roll and he turns to face his boyfriend.
“I was under the impression that he ‘wasn’t that kind of doctor’.” Sherlock smirks, before his tone becomes serious. “Just before we met Irene—I remarked that you were a doctor and you replied that you had bad days. I… I get that feeling from him.”
The screen goes black for a second before the DVD goes back to the main menu. John stands up and moves to turn off the television as—without John having to ask—Sherlock takes the bowl and plate back into the kitchen and deposits them in the sink. He even puts some water in the bowl before heading back towards the living room, where he remains standing next to the folding door. When John looks up he finds Sherlock staring at him like John is a case which needs to be solved.
“Sherlock?” John asks. The taller man just stares at him for a second before he blinks slowly, like he’s just come out of a trance.
“John—there is something I need to show you.” Sherlock replies, reaching out and grabbing John’s wrist before he starts walking towards their bedroom. When both men are in the bedroom Sherlock closes and locks the door as John sits down on the edge of their bed.
“What do you need to show me?” John asks, glancing around the room, wondering what Sherlock was going to pull out and where he would take it from.
“I’ve told you about my memory palace.” Sherlock sits down on the bed, awkwardly placing his left hand on top of John’s right. John glances over at the taller man, who keeps looking straight ahead, although his grip tightens around John’s hand ever so slightly.
“Only because you’d been in there for five hours and I thought you were having a stroke or something.” John sighs as Sherlock release his hand and maneuvers so that he is lying flat on his side. One he is lying down Sherlock reaches over and pulls John down with him, moving the shorter man so that he is lying with his back against Sherlock’s chest.
“I… I need to describe something in it to you.” Sherlock whispers, his arms wrapping around John’s waist as his breath tickles the hairs on the back of John’s neck. “I’m not sure it will work.”
“What do you need me to do?” John asks, somewhat awkwardly placing his hands on top of Sherlock’s
“Just—just close your eyes and listen.”
John shrugs slightly before he obeys, closing his eyes and relaxing as best he can. For a second Sherlock does nothing—the two of them are so close together that they both move slightly as Sherlock takes a few deep breaths before he begins to speak in a low whisper.
“I have a room for you—just for you and no one else. I made it after the first case we worked on together. I’d intended to base your room on the Great Hall at Bart’s, but I ended up recreating our living room.”
It was strange, but the moment that Sherlock started to speak John relaxed compelty and for a second it almost seemed like he was falling, or perhaps sinking. At first there isn’t anything but darkness, but the moment Sherlock mentions their living room an image appears in his mind.
Actually it’s somehow… somehow more then just an image. It’s almost like John has actually stepped into Sherlock’s memory palace and is walking around—even though he knows that his imagination is just using Sherlock’s description to form the space, so it’s probably very different from what Sherlock is actually seeing.
Every time I try to clean things up—it’s almost like Sherlock is putting the words directly into John’s brain as opposed to actually speaking—I can’t make myself erase anything. When it comes to you John nothing is irrelevant.
John smiles as the room gets just the slightest bit more detailed, the living room that he’d been standing in only a moment ago shifting to look like it did when they were in the middle of a intricate case—papers strew all around, dishes left out and a box or two of evidence or files dropped off by Greg and not returned yet.
I’ve replaced one of the windows—the one next to the couch. The window drops away, replaced by a sort of “nothingness” as John waits for Sherlock’s description. It’s almost a shop window now, with a mannequin wearing your uniform. The fabric is stained with blood on your shoulder, right where you were shot. Of course that’s where I place any information relating to you military career.
It’s not too hard for John to guess at least some of the information which that uniform contains. “Royal Army Medical Corps—In Aruis Fidelis. Fifth Northumberland Fusilers—Quo Fata Vocant. Three tours of duty before he was shot and invalided home… Captain John Hamish Watson.” John isn’t aware he’s spoken until both he and Sherlock are saying his rank and name together.
Exactly. Sherlock laughs softly and John smiles, tilting his head back slightly so that he is closer to the man he loves. Oh—that’s definitely new. Between the windows there is a portrait, the formal sort that fell out of favor as cameras became more widespread. It used to be a portrait of Sarah—but then you ‘broke up’. “So it shows you now?” Yes. Sherlock sounds genuinely shocked and John chuckles softly. Oh of course—we’re ‘boyfriends’ now, aren’t we? I suppose I will have to take offense when someone flirts with you. “You already took offense.” Yes but now I have a reason to—on the wall above my portrait is your gun—“Sig Sauer P226R, British Army equipment designation L106AI”—and next to your weapon is the window frame, the one the bullet passed through when you shot the Cabbie. John winces slightly as he remembers seeing Sherlock and the murderer, crying out for the man he had know for less than two days. His hand squeezes Sherlock’s as he remembers pulling the trigger, watching the Cabbie fall to the ground before he ran.
“And the other window?” John asks as he turns to look at the second window, which he finds himself imaging with the blinds pulled down. I wish I could delete it—I hate looking out and seeing you wearing that coat, with a bomb attached to you and snipers aimed at you. The Pool. Even when it’s closed I can hear it… I can hear him telling me that he’ll burn my heart out. “Better a broken heart then no heart at all.” John whispers as Sherlock starts to guide him towards the doors which—in real life—separates the living room and the kitchen of 221B. John blinks and finds himself unsure if he imagined the action or if he actually opened his eyes. For some reason he’s starting to lose track of what Sherlock is telling him—his mind is running wild, imaging all these little details which Sherlock hasn’t told him. Some make sense—a plate with his favorite food, a mug with tea prepared the way that John likes it, two jumpers he thinks are Sherlock’s favorites… but some things don’t make sense. For example John honestly doesn’t know why he would think that Sherlock would have placed a little black kitten with emerald green eyes in John’s armchair. When John was younger his family had two dogs, but they’d never had a cat—Harry and his mom were allergic.
When I first created your room the glass in this door was just an abstract pattern. The door which divides 221B’s living room and kitchen is closed, and almost all of it has been replaced with stained glass. As Sherlock speaks the image in the glass takes on more and more of a shape, until John can see it clearly. It’s Sherlock, lying with his arms spread out, as if he was about to be crucified. He appears to be floating in either very deep dark water or outer space. He’s wearing his usual clothing—black suit, long sweeping coat and dark blue scarf—but in his chest his heart can clearly be seen. It’s a strange cross between an anatomically correct heart and the sort of cartoon heart that a fourteen year old girl draws in the margins of her notebooks. In Sherlock’s heart are two figures—It’s you John… you and Mycroft. We’re in your heart. Yes, you are.
John stares at the stained glass door, one hand reaching out to touch the section which depicts him and Mycroft—when the door in front of his opens and Sherlock guides him into Mycroft’s room. It’s moved. Mycroft’s room used to be on the other side of the palace. Westminster… except with a CCTV camera chandelier. John laughs softly as Sherlock directs him to turn and look back at the door which connects John and Mycroft’s rooms. At first it was just a reverse of the image in your room—but now it’s different. From Mycroft’s side the stained glass of the door shows John and Sherlock, sitting on a large stone on top of a green hill. They are taking shelter under a black umbrella with a curved wood handle, which is protecting htem from a rain of fire, bullets, and normal rain. Once again John finds himself reaching out to touch the glass, but before his fingers can connect Sherlock directs him a hole in the ground, which leads to a tunnel.
John wonders why Sherlock takes so long to guide him down the ladder and through the tunnel—after describing the tunnel Sherlock doesn’t speak for several seconds, as if he actually needs to wait for John to walk the length of the tunnel. After what seems like forever John finds himself climbing up another ladder and stepping out into a new room… and almost immediately John is stuck with the feeling that something is different.
Sherlock? John asks as he turns around, looking at the new room, which is so different in style and scale from both his and Mycroft’s rooms. This… this isn’t your palace—is it?
I… I’m not sure John. Sherlock admits, his arm pulling John ever so slightly closer to him in the real world, so that Sherlock is resting his chin on top of John’s head. I don’t think it is…
The room looks like a cathedral—in fact it rather reminds John of Notre Dame. Most of the vast space is illuminated by the numerous stained glass windows, but the various spots where natural light doesn’t reach is lit up by what seems to be thousands of candles. Sherlock slowly guides John to a large circular stained glass window and when John looks up he sees, well himself.
The John in the window is smiling softly, standing at ease and unarmed. In the sky behind him rays of sunlight and flames come together to form what appears to be an anatomically correct heart. A parchement scroll hangs in the sky above John and on that scroll are the words Miles Gloriosu. John whispers the latain phrase and he can feel Sherlock’s jaw move as he translates—Glorious Soldier, my brave Captain—then John feels Sherlock’s hands on his shoulder and the taller man turns him around, so that John is looking at the mirror directly opposite… which depicts Mycroft Holmes.
Mycroft is standing in the same manner that John is and he carries the same smile upon his face. The main difference between the two windows is the coloring of the sky behind Mycroft—instead of rays of sun and flames, Mycroft stands in front of moonbeams and water, which somehow manages to look like it is actually flowing as it forms another anatomically correct heart. Sherlock doesn’t wait for John to ask, instead he just reads and translates the Latin on the scroll in Mycroft’s window—Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est—Knowledge Itself Is Power.
Without thinking John turns once more, looking at the next circular stained glass window… this one is divided in two, with a solid black line running down the center, between John and Mycroft. In this window the two are standing with their backs to each other, Mycroft holding his gun, Mycroft his umbrella. On a scroll beneath their feet Munit Vicit Et Altera Haec is written.
The moment that John whispers his best attempt at pronouncing the Latin words, John realizes that Sherlock hasn’t described the window to him… because he didn’t need to.
One Conquers And The Other Defends. Sherlock whispers, sounding incredibly please and slightly mystified. You can see it too, can’t you? Look—look at the last window John. Tell me what you see.
John turns and stares at the final large circular window, unable to say anything because the moment that John sees the fourth window Sherlock knows that this is what Sherlock wanted to show him.
This window’s scroll reads Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia—United We Stand, Divided We Fall. There are three men standing in this window—in the center is Sherlock, who faces forward. His arms are spread, his coat and scarf pushes back as if by a stiff wind. In front of Sherlock John and Mycroft a standing, turned in towards the center of the window so that they are facing each other. They appear to be shaking hands, while Sherlock rests his right hand on John’s shoulder and his left hand on Mycroft’s shoulder. All three men are smiling and the sky behind them is a mix of the moon and stars from Mycroft’s window and the sun from John’s window. The center, where Sherlock stands, is neither sun nor moon, but rather the warm glow of a sunrise or a sunset.
Oh… John whispers as, at the exact same time, he manages to freak out and realize that he is... well the only way he can think of putting it is “strangely okay” with the conclusion that he’s just come to and that Sherlock has obviously already come to. The cathedral fades away as John slowly opens his eyes and turns over, so that he can look at Sherlock. “That was Mycroft’s palace, wasn’t it?”
“I think so.” Sherlock replies in a whisper, blinking slowly as if he isn’t completely out of his memory palace yet. “I… I love you John and I don’t—I mean, you’re not supposed to keep secrets when—well this, right?”
John can’t help but laugh softly at the jumble of words that have just spilled past Sherlock’s lips—but his laughter makes Sherlock actually flinch and drawback, so John quickly pulls the taller man close and kisses him softly, one hand rising to tangle in Sherlock’s hair.
“We’ll figure this out, okay?” John smiles when he pulls back from the kiss. “To be completely honest…”
“You’re okay with this.” Sherlock whispers.
“As long as he—” John beings, only to suddenly be cut off as Sherlock stiffens and throws a finger up against John’s lips. In a matter of seconds Sherlock is sitting up and staring at the door which leads out of his bedroom. John silently raises an eyebrow as Sherlock slowly gets to his feet and creeps over to the door, where he motions for John to follow him. As John stands up and moves to stand at Sherlock’s side, he notices Sherlock pull out his phone and fire off a brief text message, before the world’s only consulting detective pushes the door open and walks out into the kitchen.
“I’m perfectly fine John—it was just a misstep.” Sherlock grumbles as he walks out into the kitchen, actually going so far as to walk as if he had really taken a bad step and his right ankle was hurting him.
“Forgive me for wanting to make sure you were okay!” John sighs dramatically, corssing his arms over his chest as he follows Sherlock towards the living room. “It’s not like you’ve hidden an injury from me in the past—oh wait, you have!”
Sherlock doesn’t reply, and the moment John steps into the living room he can see why. Irene Adler is sitting in Sherlock’s black armchair, smiling up at Sherlock and all but ignoring John.
“So who wants you dead Miss Adler?” Sherlock asks as he sits down in John’s armchair.
“Killers.” Irene replies, shifting slightly in the chair. The dominatrix is wearing a white collared shirt, with a black vest and tie. She has dark blue jeans and black boots which go up to her ankles, and a long black coat is tossed over the back of Sherlock’s chair. Her hair is pulled up into a pony tail she looks perfectly composed, her makeup without a smug and not a single hair out of place.
“I’m sure it would help if you were just a tiny bit more specific.” John sighs as he glances over his shoulder into the kitchen, wondering if he should get tea for the three of them.
“So you faked your own death in order to get ahead of them.” Sherlock sounds unbelievably bored. He’s not even really looking at Irene—he’s just sort of staring in her general direction, without any real focus. John wonders if Sherlock is still partially in his memory palace, or in the room that is possibly part of Mycroft’s memory palace.
“It worked for a while.” Irene shrugs elegantly.
“It worked well enough until you decided to ask Mycroft’s assistant to help you kidnap John.” Sherlock remarks and John blinks, he’d been alerted via text message when Irene contacted Not!Anthea, but she’d never told him that.
“Just to tell him I was alive—so that you would know.” Irene replies, looking momentarily like a bird whose feathers have been ruffled.
“You want something.” Sherlock sighs as he steeples his fingers. “What is it?”
“Where’s my camera phone?” Irene asks, staring at Sherlock, clearly expecting him to pull it out of a pocket.
“John?” Sherlock asks, not looking over at his boyfriend as he holds out his right hand. For a second John stares at the taller man, not sure what the consulting detective wants form him. “Right pocket of you’re jeans.” Sherlock suggests.
John reaches down and is only slightly surprised to find that Sherlock had slipped the phone into his pocket at some point in the recent past. With a shrug he pulls the phone out and places it in Sherlock’s hand, not missing how Irene Adler’s eyes follow the phone’s path—as if she’s a junkie and the phone holds her next fix.
“So what do you keep on here—in general I mean?” Sherlock asks, turning the phones over in his hands as if he’s never seen it before.
“Pictures, information… anything I might find useful.” Irene replies as crosses her legs and leans back in the chair.
“For blackmail?” John asks, moving so that he can lean against his armchair
“For protection.” Irene smiles ever so slightly. “I make my way in the world—I misbehave. I like to know people will be on my side when I need them to be.”
“So how do you acquire this information?” Sherlock asks.
“I told you.” Irene smirks. “I misbehave.”
“But now you’ve acquired something that’s more danger than protection.” Sherlock remarks, absentmindedly tossing the phone into the air before he catches it one handed. “Do you know what it is?”
“Yes, but I don’t understand it.”
“I assumed. Show me.” Sherlock replies as he tosses the phone over to Irene. The dominatrix manages to catch the phone and she stares at John and Sherlock for a second before turning away from them to type in the passcode.
“There was a man—a MOD official. I knew what he liked.” Irene explains as she turns back towards them and scrolls through the items on her phone. “One of the things he liked was showing off. He told me this email was going to save the world. he didn’t know it, but I photographed it… he was a bit tied up at the time.”
Irene holds the phone out and Sherlock takes it from her, tilting it up slightly so that John can see the photo of the email.
007 Confirmed allocation
“It’s a bit small on the screen—can you read it?” Irene asks, leaning forward in the black armchair, her gaze fixed upon Sherlock.
“Yes.” Sherlock mutters as he stares at the message, his lips moving ever so slightly as he figures out what the message refers to.
“It’s a code, obviously. I had one of the best cryptographers in the country take a look at it—though he was mostly upside down, as I recall. Couldn’t figure it out.” Irene smirks as Sherlock tilts his head to one side as he looks at the message. “So what can you do Mr. Holmes? Go on… impress a girl.”
“I already know what it means.” Sherlock replies, a smirk creeping on to his face. “And I know better than to decode it for you.”
For a second Irene just stares at Sherlock, surprise clear on her face. She sputters a few times before she manages to speak.
“They’re trying to kill me!” She practically hisses, clenching her fists at her sides.
“No, you’re working for Moriarty. Now that I’ve refused and have the only copy they might try to kill you…”
“Which is why I’m sure you’ll accept protective custody.”
John’s head snaps over to the door, where Mycroft is standing next to Not!Anthea, who has a gun in a holster on her belt. Mycroft, who had spoken, has his umbrella in one hand and is leaning on it like he had the first time John met him.
Irene launches herself at Sherlock, grabbing the phone and fumbling with it for a second before she manages to lock it. Irene Adler holds the phone out in front of her like it’s a shield, so that the four of them can see the “I AM ____ LOCKED” screen.
“There’s more—loads more! On this phone I’ve got secrets, pictures and scandals that could destroy your whole world.” Irene informs Mycroft as Not!Anthea closes the door to 221B behind her and leans against it. “You have no idea how much havoc I can cause… and there’s only one way for you to stop me.”
“We have people who can get into that.” Mycroft replies, gesturing to Irene’s cell phone with his umbrella.
“I tested that theory for you.” Irene smirks. “I let Sherlock Holmes have it.”
And yet I was the one who figured it out. John fights the urge to smirk.
“Then we can simply destroy it.” Mycroft replies with a shrug.
“Good idea—unless there are lives of British citizens depending on the information you’re about to burn.” Irene scoffs.
“Are there?” Mycroft asks.
“Telling you would be playing fair… and I’m not playing anymore.” Irene replies, tossing the phone over to Sherlock. “How many attempts do you have remaining Sherlock? One, two?”
“Enough.” Sherlock shrugs. “You’ve failed to do what ‘Jim’ wanted you to—”
“Do you know what he calls you two?” Irene asks. “The Iceman and the Virgin.”
John bites his lip to keep himself from laughing—mostly at the idea of Jim calling Sherlock “the Virgin”… but he also wonders if he’s got his own insulting nickname or if Jim still thinks of himself as “Sherlock’s pet” and therefore not worthy of a nickname.
“He’s been in touch. Seems desperate for my attention…” Mycroft’s voice is deadly sharp, as if a single word could cut diamonds in half. “…which I’m sure can be arranged.”
“You know, I had all this stuff—and I never knew what to do with it.” Irene laughs softly. “Thank god for the consultant criminal. So what do you think Mr. Iceman? Ready to hear my demands?”
“Boring.” Sherlock sighs, tossing Irene’s phone over to John, who only just manages to catch it by sort of slapping it against his chest. Mycroft glances over at John and smirks ever so slightly, which causes a faint blush to appear on John’s face as Irene Adler stares at him in confusion.
“If you’d do the honors Doctor?” Mycroft asks, gesturing towards the phone.
“I suppose I should thank you---it was your Christmas gift that helped John discover the code.” Sherlock remarks, glancing over at Mycroft for a second before he turns back to Irene. “It would have been so simple for you to chose a random number… but instead you allowed unrequited sentiment to dictate your actions.”
“Unrequited? Oh… of course.” Irene laughs softly as John quickly types in the passcode that he’d accidently discover and passes the phone over to Mycroft, who chuckles slightly over the message that the passcode creates—I AM SHERLOCKED—before he starts examining the contents.
“Your ‘death’ helped, if that’s any consolation.” Sherlock replies.
“Glad I could give you a push in the right direction.” Irene smirks. “Although I seem to remember a certain consulting detective being quite speechless when he first met me… he even knew where to look.”
“You surprised me. I prefer to be intrigued by someone who doesn’t remove her clothing in order to hold my attention.” Sherlock explains, glancing over at John for the briefest moment as Mycroft passes the phone off to Not!Anthea, who slips it into a pocket of her jacket. “I will admit that the world is marginally more interesting with you in it… so I do hope that you will accept my brother’s offer.”
Sherlock and Irene stare at each other for a second, before Irene turns towards John.
“You’re a lucky man Doctor Watson.” Irene smirks as she stands up and pulls on her coat. “Looks like you’ve got him tied up more tightly than I ever could—although I could give you some thoughts about what to time him to…”
John flushes bright red and chokes on air as Irene steps forward and presses a quick kiss to Sherlock’s cheek—which draws a sputtering noise of confusion from Sherlock. Before John has recovered from the dominatrix’s remark and Sherlock’s reaction to Irene’s kiss, he finds his lips claimed in a fierce, demanding kiss as one of Irene’s hands tangles in his hair and yanks his head sharply to one side. John is dimly aware of both Sherlock and Mycroft glaring at Irene Adler—he actually worries for a moment that Mycroft is going to take a page out of Stalin’s playbook and exile the dominatrix to Siberia. Irene slowly pulls back, leaving John panting for breath and blushing even more furiously then before. Irene smirks and leans in to whisper in John’s ear—“Good luck with the Iceman.”—before she walks over to Not!Anthea and dramatically offers the woman her hands, as if she’s about to be cuffed.
“Pleasure to meet you again… what is it today?” Irene asks, smiling at Not!Anthea.
“Donna. This way Miss. Adler.” Mycroft’s assistant replies as she opens the door to 221B, revealing two men dressed in black suits. Irene steps in between the two men, smirks at both of them before allowing them to escort her down the stairs.
“I will be down momentarily.” Mycroft informs “Donna”, who nods and steps out of the flat, closing the door behind her. As soon as the door is closed Mycroft turns towards Sherlock. “What did she want you to decode?”
“Bond Air.” Sherlock replies with a shrug. “Looks like one of your MOD men likes to show off.”
“It’s a pity that she won’t work for us.” Mycroft sighs, glancing over at the closed door. “She’s quite talented—”
“Mycroft.” Sherlock cuts off his brother as he stands up and turns to face the older man. “In your memory palace—are there stained glass windows in my room?”
Mycroft stares at Sherlock for a second, slowly blinks and then nods silently.
“You should look at them.” John whispers, shifting slightly from one foot to the other.
Mycroft’s eyes shift slightly and his gaze loses some of it’s focus for a few seconds—only to have him snap back to reality. “How did you know?” Mycroft asks, looking between John and Sherlock.
“We were there.” Sherlock replies. “But I believe the more important question is what do you want?”
Author’s Note: And with that I am off to Anime Boston for the weekend. I will be dressed as the 4th Doctor on Friday and Saturday and Femme!Sherlock on Sunday if you happen to be going and want to say hi.
Chapter 12: The Important Question(s)
“But I believe the more important question is what do you want?”
Mycroft’s umbrella drops from his hands and falls to the floor of 221B with a crash. Although the older Holmes flinches at the sound of his umbrella makes, he isn’t really focused on the outside world—he’s still deep in his memory palace, standing in Sherlock’s room and staring up at the stained glass windows.
Sherlock’s windows shine as if hundreds of floodlights are on the other side. The colored light which almost bursts from the glass cuts through the dusty air of the cathedral and bathes the floor and the exhibits that Mycroft has filled the space with in pools of vibrant colors. Mycroft’s looks up at the hundreds of windows, but he only really sees three—three of the four large round windows, the three windows where the man cloaked in darkness had once been. The man has been replaced by a familiar face—Mycroft’s.
Munit Vicit Et Alterd Haec—Mycroft stands back to back with John, the metal line which had once divided the two men gone, swallowed by the stained glass.
Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est—across from the window where John stands alone with the sun behind him, Mycroft stands with the stars, moon and flowing water forming a heart in the sky behind him.
Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia—John and Mycroft face each other, their outstretched hands intertwined. Sherlock’s hands rest on their shoulders as he stares out of the stained glass, as if those glass eyes can actually see Mycroft standing far below the window.
Mycroft finds himself unable to look away from that window—from the window where he stands with both Sherlock and John, from the window where he holds John’s hand and where Sherlock’s hand rests on his shoulder. A shudder races through Mycroft’s body as, in a corner of Sherlock’s room, an old fashioned projector turns on and starts to project security camera footage from the Pool on to a nearby wall. Another shudder runs down Mycroft’s spine and—in another corner of Sherlock’s room a record starts to turn on an old fashioned player and John’s voice beings to tell the story of what happened in Irene Adler’s home.
But all Mycroft hears are four words, which echo in his head as he stares up at the window… What do you want? Sherlock asks. What do you want? Mycroft starts to pull himself out of his memory palace, aware that Sherlock—and John—expect him to answer. As he withdraws his eyes remain fixed upon the window, although they slowly up from John and Mycroft’s hands to Sherlock’s face… right before Mycroft emerges into the real world there is a flash of light and Mycroft Holmes swears that—for a split second—he sees a flash of emerald green eyes and a brilliant smile.
When he emerges from his memory palace Mycroft finds himself looking at John. For a second he just stares at the man who has changed his brother so much. When his Personal Assistant had first given him a photograph of John Mycroft had thought that this man would be like all the other men whom Sherlock had attempted to share living space with—he’d been ever so slightly impressed by John’s military record, but what had really impressed him was the moment when John had gotten out of the car and opened his mouth.
You know, I’ve got a phone. I mean, very clever and all that but, er—you could just phone me… on my phone.
What do you want? Sherlock’s words, ringing in Mycroft’s head once again, drawing him out of his thoughts, forcing him to speak, to answer his little brother’s question.
“I don’t wa—” Mycroft pauses for a second to take a deep breath and shifts his gaze away from John, back to Sherlock. “You and John are partners Sherlock. I care for you as a brother and I care for John because you care for him.”
“Maybe at first.” Sherlock replies as he moves to stand next to John. “But things started to change between us a long time ago—you realized and I didn’t… So you decided to pretend that you were simply the protective older brother.”
“And because of that lie you two didn’t speak for years.” John adds. “You weren’t comfortable with the knowledge and Sherlock didn’t understand your discomfort or the change in your relationship.”
“Then I find a flat mate who impresses you.” Sherlock glances over at John, with a smile on his face—the sort of smile which Mycroft had thought was reserved for their Mother. “John, do you know that—to my knowledge—there are only three people who have ever stood up to Mycroft?”
“Four actually.” Mycroft corrects Sherlock without thinking as his gaze drifts down to his umbrella. “When I asked Inspector Lestrade to stop calling you in on cases he refused.”
“So who are the other three?” John asks.
“Myself, the woman you call ‘Not Anthea’… and you.” Sherlock replies. “After I got out of rehab I tried three times to find a flat mate—all of those men agreed to spy on me for Mycroft.”
“Only one bothered to ask who I was working for. He accepted my offer without any proof that I worked for the government.” Mycroft remarks, his eyes not leaving the umbrella.
“You were looking out for him.” Mycroft can tell that John is smiling as he speaks. “Let me guess—you threw them out after they didn’t tell you about their encounters with Mycroft?”
“Exactly.” Sherlock replies, sounding exceptionally pleased with John’s deduction. “Mycroft doesn’t need to pay someone to spy on me—he has more than enough cameras in place and people on his payroll. So why approach my flat mates?”
“To protect you.” John says as Mycroft hesitantly glances up. The Doctor is looking at him as he speaks. “An action that could be just the typical behavior of a protective older brother… but it’s not, is it? Not entirely at least?”
“You’re good for him John.” Mycroft whispers as he slowly raises his gaze until his eyes are level with John and Sherlock’s. “Better than I’ve ever been… you were right John. Before Sherlock met you we hadn’t spoken in two years—”
“So you admit that there is something there.” John interrupts Mycroft, who flinches as if John had just slapped him. “Mycroft… I’m not angry.”
“Why does it matter?” Mycroft whispers.
“Because you don’t just care for me.” Sherlock steps closer to his older brother as he speaks. “You care for John.”
“He’s your partner.” Mycroft shoots right back as he hesitantly steps away from the two men.
“Yes, but your mind betrays you Mycroft.” Sherlock replies, moving closer to his older brother. “If there wasn’t something more to this then why place John and yourself in that window? If there wasn’t something more to this, then why hide the fact that you were the man in the stained glass?”
“Sher—” Mycroft is cut off by his younger brother taking a final step forward and gently pressing his lips against Mycroft’s. Mycroft freezes for a second before his hands fly up to grab Sherlock’s shoulders so that he can push the Consulting Detective away. “Sherlock!”
Sherlock Holmes stares at his older brother, who shakes slightly as he continues to hold Sherlock at arm’s length. There is a softness in Sherlock’s eyes which drives Mycroft’s gaze away from his brother to John Watson, who is standing slightly apart from the two brothers.
“Mycroft—Sherlock and I are partners.” John whispers as he moves closer to the two men. “I love him and, despite how you chose to introduce yourself to me, I consider you a friend. I know that you’re a genius and that you cared for Sherlock. Now… now I know that you care for me and I know that I find you attractive.”
“What?!” Mycroft pulls back from Sherlock in shock, his hands dropping to hang by his sides. “What are you saying John?”
“We talked about this.” John replies, briefly glancing over at Sherlock. “Sherlock walked me through his memory palace and through your’s. Irene broke in just as we were making a decision.”
“A decision?” Mycroft’s gaze darts between John and Sherlock.
“You care for us and we care for you.” Sherlock replies, reaching over and taking hold of John’s hand. “Who would be harmed My?”
“H—harmed?” Mycroft stammers.
“We’re all of consenting age, there’s no chance we could give some kid messed up genes—”
“What about you?” Mycroft asks, cutting John off. “Why are you so willing to sacrifice your relationship with Sherlock?”
“Because I wouldn’t be sacrificing anything, let alone my relationship with Sherlock!” John practically shouts as he tightly holds on to Sherlock’s hand. “I had friends in Uni who got into a threesome—they’re still together Mycroft. Adding a third person didn’t hurt their relationship and it doesn’t have to hurt ours!”
“Give this a chance My—you’re the only one who is objecting.” Sherlock whispers as he squeezes John’s hand.
“What what—what is this?” Mycroft asks, gesturing to the three of them. “What would this be?”
Before John or Sherlock can answer Mycroft’s questions the three men’s phones go off at the exact same time, alerting them to the arrival of a new text message. Without really thinking John and Sherlock let go of each other’s hands and the three men pull out their cell phones.
I’ve cleared your schedules for the day. A car will arrive at 9 AM tomorrow, MH has a meeting at 10:30 which couldn’t be moved.
John quickly reads the text message and snaps his phone shut before slipping it back into his pocket. Sherlock does the same, while Mycroft just stares at his phone, as if he’s just gotten a text message revealing the secret identities of the entire Justice League and Batwoman. After a second Mycroft slowly looks up from his cell phone and stares at John for a second before he puts his phone back into his pocket and takes a deep breath as he shifts to look at Sherlock. John can’t tell what sort of conversation passes between the two Holmes brothers, but he can tell that something passes between the two.
The silent conversation doesn’t last for very long—Mycroft nods ever so slightly before he turns back towards John and before the shorter man can say anything Mycroft steps forward and presses a hesitant kiss to the blond man’s lips. John’s eyes slip closed as he lets Mycroft take control of the embrace—it reminds John of the first kiss he shared with Sherlock. Although Mycroft is in control of the kiss he’s not really in control. Like Sherlock he seems to be losing the struggle to process the sheer amount of information running through his brain, but unlike Sherlock John can tell that Mycroft has kissed someone before and perhaps even enjoyed that kiss. Just before the two men are forced to part so that they can breathe one of Mycroft’s hands rises up to cup John’s face.
John opens his eyes and glances over to Mycroft’s shoulder at Sherlock, who smirks slightly before stepping forward so that he is standing behind his older brother. Mycroft stiffens for a second before he relaxes into Sherlock’s lose embrace. Mycroft’s hand which had been cupping John’s cheek drops to his shoulder, where it lingers for a second before falling down to curl around John’s waist.
“My wants to see your scar.” Sherlock whispers as John steps forward and joins the brother’s embrace. The World’s Only Consulting Detective’s eyes are half-closed and when John steps forward into the embrace Sherlock reaches out to wrap his arm around both John and Mycroft’s waists.
“Sherlock?” John says with a smirk as Sherlock slowly opens his eyes and blinks owlishly as he stares at his flat mate. “Do you think we can all fit in your bed?”
“Well…” Sherlock grins, the same grin which sometimes appears on his face when he’s figured out a particularly difficult case. “We might have to get creative—but we should be able to squeeze in.”
For a second Mycroft’s eyes go wide in what John assumes is shock, but then the two Holmes brothers move at almost exactly the same time. Mycroft half-drags, half-carries John down the hall to the bedroom that the two men now share, as Sherlock quickly locks the front door of 221B before he follows brother and flatmate into the bedroom.
John laughs as he finds himself almost being chucked on to Sherlock’s bed, with Mycroft following close behind and Sherlock bringing up the rear. As Sherlock sits down on John’s left, the Doctor reaches over and pulls Mycroft into a kiss—a kiss which draws a surprised and pleased whimper from the older man. Meanwhile Sherlock amuses himself by pressing up against John’s side, wrapping an arm around the shorter man’s waist and nuzzling at John’s neck, an action which draws a snort of laughter from John before Sherlock decides to bite down and create a dark purple love bite on the blond man’s neck.
All too soon Mycroft and John are forced to pull apart so that they can catch their breath. Sherlock takes advantage of this pause by pulling John down so that the Doctor is lying on his back and Sherlock can lean over John to claim his brother’s lips. John finds himself standing up at the two brothers and biting his lip to hold back a whimper of arousal.
When the brothers separate they have almost identical smirks on their faces. Sherlock glances at John out of the corner of his eye before he presses a second, shorter kiss to Mycroft’s lips before he pulls away and unbuttons his shirt so quickly that for a second John thinks that the Consulting Detective has just torn his shirt in two. John has to press a hand to his lips to hold back his laughter at the reaction which Sherlock’s sudden disrobing gets from Mycroft—the older man’s eyes widen in surprise for a second, before he simply sighs, shrugs his shoulders and starts to undress.
John tries to sit up and join the brothers in moving towards nakedness but finds himself with an armful of naked consulting detective who has decided to claim John’s lips. John doesn’t notice that Sherlock is unbuttoning his shirt until the taller man pulls back and untangles himself from John’s arms long enough for Sherlock to remove John’s shirt.
Sherlock tosses John’s shirt off to one side and John freezes as Mycroft’s hand comes down to rest on John’s shoulder—over his scar. Mycroft’s hand is warm and his gentle touch draws a soft gasp from the Doctor and sends a shiver racing down his spine. Mycroft’s hand remains on top of John’s scar as the man who practically runs the British government lies down on the ex-Army Doctor’s left side. Meanwhile Sherlock lies down on John’s right and rests his head on John’s uninjured shoulder. John automatically tilts his head to the right and rests his head against Sherlock’s. His eyes slip closed as Mycroft slowly pulls his hand back and starts to inspect John’s scar.
The blond man can almost feel Mycroft’s gaze running over the scar as his fingertips gently run along the scar. John starts to drift as Mycroft makes his observations and carries on a short conversation with Sherlock which the Doctor doesn’t quite manage to catch—he thinks the two brothers are discussing his scar, sharing their observations and (in Mycroft’s case) the official information.
John is pulled out of his daze by Mycroft and Sherlock maneuvering him on to his side, so that John is facing towards Sherlock, with Mycroft behind him. It is only when Mycroft wraps an arm around John’s waist that the blond man realizes that—somehow—Mycroft and Sherlock have managed to remove his pants without John realizing. Any comment that John could make turns into a whimper when Mycroft decides to create a twin for the lovebite which Sherlock had made on John’s neck.
John reaches out to pull Sherlock closer, only to find that the Consulting Detective has pulled away to rummage in the drawer of his bedside table. Despite the fact that he’s got a huge lovebite on the right side of his neck and a naked man creating a new one on the left side, John finds himself blushing when Sherlock places a tube of lube in his hands before he lies back down next to the Doctor.
“Is… is this okay?” Sherlock asks in a soft voice—just above a whisper—as Mycroft pulls back to inspect his work.
John takes a few deep breaths as he struggles to answer Sherlock’s question. Finally he settles for nodding and actually taking hold of the tube. As he does this John glances over his shoulder at Mycroft and raises an eyebrow in a silent question, trusting that the older Holmes Brother can correctly guess just what that question is.
“I’ve had experience. However if you feel more com—” Mycroft abruptly cuts himself off and, after a second, smirks. John finds himself blushing as he realizes that the older Holmes brother has basically read his mind and found the answer to the question that he had been about to ask John.
John feels more then hears Sherlock giggle. He turns back to face the Consulting Detective, cutting off any further giggles with a kiss as his hands slide down Sherlock’s sides. As John continues to kiss Sherlock he coats his fingers with a liberal amount of lube and slowly begins to prepare the Consulting Detective. As one of Sherlock’s hands wraps around John’s waist the other goes over John’s hip to wrap around Mycroft as best he can. As Sherlock tries to get a grip on his brother, Mycroft grabs the lube from John, but he makes no move to begin preparing the Doctor.
John is grateful that Mycroft has apparently decided to wait and observe Sherlock’s reactions—this is, after all, Sherlock’s first time. Sure—John and Sherlock have slept together since that first time at Christmas but John has always been the one to “bottom”… things had just worked out that way. But now Sherlock is the one panting and whimpering in pleasure and John is the one watching as his lover falls apart in his arms.
Mycroft pulls back slightly as John moves so that Sherlock is on his back, with John kneeling over him. Sherlock shivers slightly as Mycroft leans in and captures Sherlock’s lips. Mycroft swallows the moans which spill from Sherlock’s lips as John removes his fingers and slowly pushes into his lover. One of Sherlock’s hands is over his head, grabbing a fistful of pillow as Mycroft grabs his other hand—slowly Sherlock relaxes, although one of his legs rises to curl around his waist. When John finally bottoms out Sherlock pulls away from Mycroft’s kiss and screams in pleasure.
The scream ends in a sort of choked noise as Mycroft whispers something that John doesn’t catch into Sherlock’s ear. Mycroft steals a quick kiss before he sits up and moves so that he is behind John. The Doctor does his best to relax as Mycroft gently pulls him back until John is leaning against Mycroft and whimpering softly as Mycroft prepares him. Meanwhile Sherlock simply stares up at the two men, his eyes half-lidded but clearly interested.
It doesn’t take long for Mycroft to prepare John—soon the ex-Army Doctor is whimpering and grabbing fistfuls of the bed sheets as Mycroft slowly penetrates him. Sherlock moans each time that John’s movements push John up against him—his leg twitches as he tries to wrap it around John and Mycroft, and he tries to use that leg to pull both men closer.
When Mycroft is fully seated John forces himself to take a few deep breaths before he reaches down and encourages Sherlock—whom he already knows is incredibly flexible—to move so that his legs are over John’s shoulders instead of around John’s waist. As soon as Sherlock is repositioned Mycroft starts to move, driving John into Sherlock, who within seconds is screaming and almost tearing the sheets as his eyes roll up into his head.
It doesn’t take John long to lose the fight to support his weight and the ex-Army Doctor finds himself pushed down on to Sherlock’s chest and John finds himself sandwiched between the two Holmes brothers. Mycroft suddenly pauses for a second and shifts slightly to on side before he thrusts forward hard—hitting John’s prostate and driving John into Sherlock, drawing a scream from the Doctor and a broken moan from the Consulting Detective.
It doesn’t take long for John to lose control—if he ever had it in the first place. Sherlock seems to have more control then John does. Even though one of Sherlock’s legs has slipped of John’s shoulder, the taller man is still able to move to meet John’s thrusts, which are being completely controlled by Mycroft, who is supporting his own weight and only leaning on John because he can tell how good the full body contact feels.
John struggles just to breathe as Sherlock’s other leg slips off John’s shoulder and the Detective somehow manages to lean up and capture John’s lips in a desperate kiss which is more teeth then anything else. At the same time Mycroft’s pace takes on a desperate edge and the older Holmes Brother leans forward and nips at the lovebite he’d created on John’s neck—that bite is what ends John over the edge.
John cries out and bucks widely against the two brothers, drawing a gasp from Sherlock whose arms and legs grip John as tightly as he can. John hears Sherlock cry out as he falls over the edge, his body clamping down on John, who simply lies on top of Sherlock and shudders violently as he follows his flatmate. Mycroft’s hands gently run down John’s sides and he thrusts twice before he joins the other men… and unlike his first time with Sherlock, John does not pass out, although he isn’t exactly fully conscious.
At best John is aware of being separated from the Holmes Brothers and rolling over on to his back. He is also aware of a damp cloth running over his body, but John can’t tell who got or used the cloth or who pulled the sheets up around him when he started to shiver.
When John comes down from his post orgasmic high he finds himself lying on his right side in the center of Sherlock’s bed. Sherlock is on his right and John assumes that Mycroft is the one on his left, pressed up against his back with an arm wrapped around his waist. The three of them are underneath the bed sheets and Sherlock appears to be half-asleep. With a sleepy smile on his face, John nuzzles closer to Sherlock and lets out a pleased sigh when the two brothers—when his lovers—react by moving even closer together.
As John falls asleep a part of his mind notes that the three of them have no problem fitting into Sherlock’s bed—they could probably fit another person on the bed, provided that person was either the same size at John or smaller. It’s strange, because before today John never would have suspected that he and Sherlock were missing something—were missing someone—when they lay tangled together on Sherlock’s bed. It’s strange how John never noticed that there was a hole in the world—it feels like they should have known.
Author’s Note: Sorry for the deal. I graduated from College, moved cross country, started summer school and got a new job. Then I also had another fic (30 Nights) that captured my imagination and then I had huge writer’s block on this chapter. -___-
Here’s a review on the latin phrases in Mycroft’s memory palace…
Munit Vicit Et Altera Haec = One Conquers And The Other Defends
Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est = Knowledge Itself Is Power
Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia = United We Stand, Divided We Fall
The last bit with John thinking about a hole in the world is somewhat inspired by the episode “A Hole In The World” from the TV Show Angel.
Chapter 13: Shovels, Trowels and A Vague Disclaimer
Sherlock, Mycroft and John are in the main room of 221B Baker Street. Mycroft is sitting in Sherlock’s chair, a folder of papers in his lap and a pen in his hand. Sherlock is perched on the table behind and to the right of Mycroft, playing his violin. John is lying on the couch on his side, with a little black cat—which is really only a kitten—curled up on his side and purring contently as John pets it.
John is aware that he is dreaming… after all, he and Sherlock don’t have a cat. However, unlike the other times that John has realized he’s dreaming, he doesn’t immediately wake up. Instead the peaceful dream continues… Mycroft silently reads his papers, Sherlock plays some melody on his violin which is familiar, but which John can’t recall the name of and John lies on the couch with the purring kitten.
The windows of 221B are open, allowing in a gentle breeze, the sounds of Baker Stret below and the city which surrounds the flat and the three men. A fly buzzes into the room through the open window, circles around Sherlock once and starts to buzz around the room, which quickly attracts the attention of the kitchen. She—John has no idea how he knows that the kitten is a she—sits up and watches the fly. After a second’s hesitation the kitten jumps off the couch and starts stalking the insect.
John watches the kitten with a smile on his face, a smile which only grows when he notices that Mycroft has abandoned his papers to watch the kitten as well. Meanwhile, Sherlock continues to play, although he is watching the kitten with a fond smirk on his face and has changed the song he is playing to something which has to be improvised, because it rises, falls and changes tempo as the kitten stalks the fly.
After a brief “chase” the kitten is deprived of her prey when the fly buzzes back out the window. She gazes up with what could almost be called a pout on her face, before heading over to Mycroft. She jumps up on to the arm of the chair Mycroft is in and waits for Mycroft to pet her before she jumps from the chair to the table and sits down next to Sherlock.
John starts to sit up as Sherlock shifts his grip on the violin so that he can reach down and pet the kitten… just as Sherlock’s hand reaches the soft black fir the world of John’s dream shatters into a million pieces as, in the dream and in the real world a phone starts to ring.
John Watson opens his eyes and finds that he is still curled up between Sherlock and Mycroft, although at some point in the night John has rolled over so that he is facing away from Sherlock, towards Mycroft, who is now sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling his still ringing cell phone out of a pocket of his suit jacket. Mycroft only briefly glances at the caller ID before he answers the call.
“I’m on my way.” Mycroft grumbles into the phone without waiting for whoever is on the other end of the line to speak. He hangs up his phone and leans over to gather up his clothing, which he places on the side of the bed he was sitting on. As Mycroft does this he notices that John is watching him and smiles slightly.
“Duty calls.” Mycroft explains before leaning over to kiss John and then—when Sherlock grumbles some sleepy nonsense which might be a protest—Mycroft kisses his younger brother.
“Dinner tonight. We need to talk.” Sherlock informs Mycroft, who nods and stares at the two of them one final time before he pulls on his clothing and leaves them alone in the bedroom. John yawns once, before he leans back against Sherlock and allows sleep to claim him once more.
Sherlock and John don’t get to sleep for long… less than two hours after Mycroft leaves to deal with the British Government and whatever top secret meeting Not!Anthea couldn’t reschedule, John’s phone wakes the two me up. John drops the phone three times before he manages to answer the call.
“We’ve got a case.” Lestrade informs the ex-Army Doctor. Before John can say anything Sherlock grabs the phone out of his hand and rolls over so that he is sitting up.
“Where?” Sherlock asks as he gets dressed. John sits up and stretches before he follows suit—by the time John has his pants on Sherlock is done with the call and has hung up on Greg.
“So what does Lestrade need help on?” John asks as Sherlock tosses his phone back.
“Someone rape and murdered a police informant.” Sherlock replies as he heads out towards the front room of 221B and grabs his coat.
Lestrade is waiting for John and Sherlock in the mouth of an alley which has been sectioned off with blue police tape. Greg nods in greeting to the two men and lifts up the tapes so that the two of them can duck underneath. John spots Anderson leaning against a police car, filling out paperwork and occasionally glancing up to glare at Sherlock, but he can’t see Donovan anywhere near the crime scene.
The alley is not very long—it’s just large enough to park a van and have room to move on either side. There are several trashcans which are overflowing with refuse and an unusual amount of flowers—before John can wonder why there are so many dead and damaged flowers he remembers that the building to the right of the alley is a florists. The majority of those trashcans are clustered around a door in the wall that forms the dead end of the alley. One trashcan has been tipped on to it’s side and, lying against the battered metal, is a body covered by a police tarp.
Sherlock kneels down next to the body and pulls back the blanket, revealing a young woman... a very young woman—she can’t be more then sixteen years old. The girl has long ginger hair, freckles and is appears to be only partially clothed, John catches a glimpse of a ripped plaid shirt and light blue bra before Sherlock drops the tarp, leaving the girl half-covered.
“Emilia.” Sherlock whispers in shock as he stares down at the dead girl.
Her shoulders and left arm stick out from underneath the police tarp and the fingers of her left hand are stained with blood. On the ground next to her hand the name Jake St has been written in what appears to be the same blood which stains the girl’s fingers… blood which John is reasonably sure belongs to the girl and not “Jake St”.
“You knew her?” Lestrade asks, stepping forward so that he can look at both Sherlock and the young woman.
“Emilia Conner. She was a member of what John calls my ‘Homeless Network’.” Sherlock informs the DI as he re-covers Emilia with the tarp. “Why am I here Lestrade? You know who did this.”
“Because we need you to find him.” Lestrade replies. “It’s not like he has a proper address of any friends who know where he’s run off to.”
Sherlock glances back down at the covered body of Emilia Conner once more before he stands up and turns to face Lestrade. “We’ll be in touch—keep a cell open will you?”
Without waiting for Lestrade to reply Sherlock turns and heads back towards the street, John following close behind him. John waits until the two of them have climbed back into the cab which brought them to the crime scene from 221B before he speaks.
“So who is this ‘Jake’?” John asks.
“Jake Stane, leader of what he calls ‘the Family.’ It’s not unlike a cult, which keeps Stane supplied with vulnerable young women he can boss around.” Sherlock explains.
“So Emilia Conner got mixed up with this ‘Family’?” John asks.
“Not exactly—Emilia’s mother was a prostitute who couldn’t remember who her father was. Luckily the woman didn’t contract HIV until after Emilia was born... when she was 14 Emilia woke up to find her mother’s boyfriend in her bedroom. She left and ended up on the streets—a member of my network introduced her to me.”
“You took care of her.”
You cared for her... John realized. You couldn’t expect to get anything out of helping some random homeless girl, but you helped her anyway… and yet you told Moriarty you didn’t have a heart.
“I introduced her to men and women she could trust.” Sherlock replies. “A month ago she ran into Jake Stane and his Family. During Jake’s little recruitment pitch Emilia found out that he’d killed several men—including at least one ex-boyfriend and a concerned older brother.”
“So she went to the police.”
“I thought they would put her in protective custody—they were supposed to put her in protective custody.” Sherlock makes a sort of growling noise—the sort he usually reserves for exceptionally stupid people—as he fiddles with his gloves. “Emilia wasn’t stupid—she would have accepted if they’d offered.”
“So Jake finds out that she told the cops…” John muses as the cab slows to a stop and the two climb out. “And then he ‘punishes’ her before vanishing into the streets of London?”
“Not for long.” Sherlock replies as he quickly scans the street before moving towards a homeless man who is sitting on a nearby park bench with a scraggly black and white dog and a cardboard sign.
When John and Sherlock approach the man grumbles out something which John guests is an appeal for money, only to pause mid-grumble when he glances up from underneath his hat and realizes Sherlock is standing in front of him. The dog, which had been curled up asleep, slowly uncurls and looks up at John as if he expects the ex-Army Doctor to give him a treat. The homeless man and Sherlock stare at each other for a second before the man raises the to-go coffee cup he’s using to beg and Sherlock places a crumpled up bill—John doesn’t manage to see what denomination—in said cup.
“Jake Stane.” Sherlock says as the dog steps forward and nudges John’s leg with his nose.
“He’s been underground for a few days. His girls are staying over near Smithfield Market. You can’t miss them—pregnant woman with pink hair tend not to blend in.” The man informs Sherlock as he reaches into his own cup and pulls out the bill the World’s Only Consulting Detective had given him. He inspects the bill for a second.
“You helping put him away?” The man asks. Sherlock nods and finds the bill being placed back into his hand. “Good, I hate the bastard. Jake kicked my dog cause he said she looked at him funny.”
The man reaches out and his dog is instantly at his side, nuzzling at his side and furiously wagging his tail as the man pets him. Sherlock awkwardly slips the bill back into his pocket and nods farewell to the man before heading away, John following close behind him.
“So to Smithfield Market then?” John asks.
“I’ve got two other people I want to speak with…” Sherlock trails off as he glances up, apparently lost in thought for a few seconds as the two continue to walk. Suddenly Sherlock grabs John’s hand and the two step into an small alley, where Sherlock stops and turns to face John.
“The CCTV Network doesn’t cover this spot.” Sherlock explains, shoving his hands into his pockets before awkwardly pulling them back out. “I… I wanted to check with you—to make sure you’re okay with…”
“With Mycroft?” John asks and Sherlock nods, although his gaze doesn’t meet John’s. John can’t help smiling as, instead of immediately answering Sherlock’s question, John steps forward and gently kisses the Consulting Detective. As they kiss Sherlock’s right hand reaches out and gently takes hold of John’s hand.
“I’m good Sherlock.” John whispers when the two finally part. John squeezes Sherlock’s hand and Sherlock squeezes back. “Everything’s… good.”
The other two members of the Homeless Network both point Sherlock towards Jake’s girls at Smithfield Market—or more specifically to the park where John had run into Mike and started down the road which lead to him meeting and moving in with Sherlock.
Mike is nowhere to be seen—but it doesn’t take long for Sherlock to find two scraggly looking young women. The homeless man with the dog had been right—a pregnant woman with bright pink hair does tend to stick out, especially when the two women are sitting in the middle of the park, eating what looks like hospital food that’s been pulled out of a dumpster. Sticking out of the pocket of the pregnant woman’s jacket is a battered packet of cigarettes.
“You know you shouldn’t smoke.” John remarks as he and Sherlock approach the two women. “It’s bad for the baby.”
“They’re not mine.” The woman replies, looking at John through her bangs.
“It doesn’t matter whose they are.” John says in his best ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor’ voice. “Second hand smoke is just as bad for you and your baby.”
The woman shrugs nonchalantly and turns away from John, her gaze lingering on Sherlock for a second before she turns back to her friend—who has green highlights and an eyebrow piercing—and the food they’re picking at. Her friend’s gaze lingers on Sherlock, who reaches into a pocket of his coat and pulls out the bill’s he tried to give the homeless man with the dog.
“What do you want?” Green highlights asks.
“Jake.” Sherlock replies.
“Who?” John is pretty sure that even Molly would be able to tell that the young woman is lying.
“Jake Stane—I assume that he’s the child’s father.” Sherlock explains as he fiddles with the bill in his hands. John stays a step back from Sherlock and the young women, with his arms crossed in front of him. “Interesting how he claims to love you yet makes you buy him cigarettes and eat out of dumpsters.”
“I don’t know where Jake is.” The pregnant woman replies, all but glaring at Sherlock. “But he does love me—and he takes care of us.”
“You’re Lita Jolie—aren’t you?” Sherlock suddenly asks. The pink haired woman nods slowly, clearly confused and trying to figure out what Sherlock’s point is. “Didn’t you ever wonder where your brother went?”
“He went back to Cardiff.” Lita stutters, clearly startled by the question.
“Then why didn’t he write? Why didn’t your parents write?” Sherlock whispers, leaning towards Lita. “Why didn’t Jake want you to look at the newspapers?”
John can see Lita—and her green haired friend whose name Sherlock hasn’t dropped—connect the dots. One of Lita’s hands curls protectively around her stomach as tears start to gather in her eyes.
“Where is he?” She asks Sherlock.
“…I think you know Lita.” Sherlock replies and the pregnant woman begins to cry in earnest. As she sobs she leans against her green haired friend, who has clearly chosen anger over sorrow.
“I know where Jake is hiding.” She practically hisses.
Of course Sherlock wants to just rush off and confront Emilia’s murderer. It’s almost as if the world’s only consulting detective thinks the police will magically appear… which perhaps they would, since John doesn’t doubt that at least one person’s job description is something like “keep track of Sherlock Holmes and have 999 on speed dial.”
So John ends up grabbing Sherlock’s coat and yanking hard so that his partner doesn’t run off to find Jake on his own while John calls Lestrade and arranges for police to descend upon the warehouse where Lita’s green haired friend had informed them Jake Stane is hiding. John and Sherlock arrive at said warehouse to find Lestrade and Sally Donovan waiting for them with several uniformed officers. The cops hadn’t waited for John and Sherlock, instead they’d all but stormed the warehouse while the two were on their way over.
“They’re bringing Stane out.” Lestrade informs the consulting detective and the ex-army doctor. “He surrendered the moment he saw an officer.”
“Probably because he’s not the killer, just a homeless man.” Donovan mutters as two uniformed officers walk out of the warehouse on either side of a scruffy man with long dirty blond hair and what looks like a five day old beard. Stane is wearing a grey wife beater, torn and tattered jeans and a dingy trench coat which looks like it had originally been tan.
“I’d like to talk with him.” Sherlock mutters as he and Lestrade start to walk towards Stane.
However, just as the last word leaves Sherlock’s lips, several things happen at once. One of the two officers escorting Stane stumbles, which releases his grip on Jake’s right arm. Stane spins around and punches the second officer in the face. That officer goes down as Lestrade, Donovon and Sherlock start to run towards Stane—who turns towards them and pulls a gun from a pocket of his trench coat.
John doesn’t have his gun with him. He hadn’t thought to grab it on his way out of the house and Sherlock hadn’t seemed particularly concerned. So John had left his gun at home and now can only watch and scream as Jake Stane fires and Sherlock falls to the ground.
John reaches out to Sherlock as the uniformed officers tackle Stane to the ground. He expects to see blood, to hear Sherlock make some noise of pain… but there is nothing. For a second John doesn’t believe his eyes and the ex-army doctor finds himself kneeling on the ground next to Sherlock, who is sitting on the dirt looking just as confused as John is. John suddenly starts laughing as he realizes what has happened—Sherlock stumbled and fell just as Stane shot and missed whoever or whatever he was aiming at.
“I tripped?” Sherlock sounds surprised and confused as he accepts John’s outstretched hand and climbs back to his feet.
Once he is upright the consulting detective runs a hand down his chest, as if still isn’t entirely sure that he is unharmed. Out of the corner of his eye John can see Stane being handcuffed and then shoved into a waiting police car. Despite knowing that his partner is unharmed, John can’t help but imagine the bullet hitting Stane’s target (assuming his target was Sherlock) and he can’t stop thinking about the fact that he could have lost Sherlock… so he does the only logical thing for a man to do when he’s just thought his boyfriend was shot. John Watson steps forward and snogs Sherlock Holmes at the same moment that Lestrade turns around to make sure the two are alright.
When John pulls back from the kiss he realizes two things. The first is that this is the first time John has ever kissed Sherlock in public. The second is that Lestrade and his team didn’t know that Sherlock and John are together. Sure, Lestrade may have known (or at least suspected) but Donavon clearly hadn’t, since she’d offered to set John up with a few of her friends but never in a way which indicated that she thought John was going out with Sherlock.
So when John pulls back from kissing Sherlock and realizes these two things, he isn’t surprised to find that Lestrade and Donavon are staring at the two of them. John blushes, but doesn’t step away from Sherlock, who wraps an arm around his shoulders as he smirks. Donavon is staring, flabbergasted, at the two of them, her mouth actually hanging open in shock. Lestrade, on the other hand, is smirking as he makes his way over to the consulting detective and the ex-army doctor.
“You just helped me win thirty pounds off Sally.” Lestrade informs John before he turns towards Sherlock. “Sherlock? If you hurt him and I’ll beat you to death with a shovel.”
“What?” Sherlock blinks as he practically spits the word out. “A shovel?”
“A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.” Lestrade replies with a smirk before turning back towards John, who is struggling not to laugh, since he gets the reference. “Oh and John? The shovel’s reserved for Sherlock, but there’s a trowel in my shed with your name on it. Understand?”
John stares at Lestrade for a second before he nods. Lestrade stares at Sherlock and John for a second before he smirks and turns back towards Donavon and the uniformed police officers. At almost the same time John and Sherlock turn towards each other, each with an extremely similar surprised and slightly terrified look on their faces. Before either one of them can speak, John’s phone alerts him that he has received a text message. Sherlock leans in to read the text, which makes him lean against John with his head almost resting on John’s.
I will ensure Stane is dealt with. A car should be waiting for you.
“Didn’t you want to talk with Stane?” John asks.
“It’s not important. Lestrade and Mycroft’s men will deal with him.” Sherlock replies as John puts his phone away and turns towards the street, where several police cars are clustered together. Sherlock takes John’s hand and starts walking through the flashing lights and activity of the police as the ex-army doctor spots a plain black car. The sky overhead, which has been cloudy all day, is now dark with storm clouds. Not two seconds after John and Sherlock are safely inside the car the heavens open up and rain begins to fall on London.
By the time John and Sherlock have reached 221B Baker Street the rain has become a torrential downpour. Before the two attempt to simply dash through the rain to their door the partition between them and the driver rolls down and the driver—a young woman with a lip piercing of all things—offers them a large black umbrella.
John takes said umbrella with an awkward mumble of thanks and somehow manages to open the car door and the umbrella without getting soaked. Thanks to the umbrella and Sherlock ending up the right side to shelter John from the windblown rain, the two men manage to stay mostly dry as the cross from car to 221B’s front door.
221B is warm and dry, with an actual fire going in the fireplace and the scent of food practically leaking out into the hall. Mycroft is sitting in Sherlock’s chair, a cup of tea in his hand and a file full of documents in his lap. The table in the middle of the room has been cleared off and there are two cups of tea sitting on coasters—which John hadn’t been aware they owned. Sherlock, who had already shrugged off coat downstairs, steps forward, grabs one of the cups of tea and somehow manages to flop down on the couch without spilling a drop. Once Sherlock is lying down on the couch he assumes a modified version of his “deducting” pose, with the cup of tea perched on his chest.
John picks up the other cup of tea and sits down across from Mycroft, in his comfortable old armchair. His mug gets placed on an tall stool which has some of Sherlock’s papers and a book Harry gave to John and he keeps forgetting to read already on it. Once the tea is secure John pulls out his laptop and starts typing up an edited version of the hunt for Jake Stane. For a few minutes 221B is almost silent, with just the crackle of the fire, the sound of rain hitting the outside of the building and John typing on his computer.
Sherlock pulls himself up and makes his way over to John and Mycroft as John posts his latest blog entry. Sherlock leans over his brother’s shoulder and peers at the file that Mycroft is looking at—the older Holmes brother doesn’t attempt to hide the papers from Sherlock, instead he actually starts a whispered conversation with his brother and points to various spots on the paper. John doesn’t really pay attention to the two’s conversation as he shuts down his laptop and puts it off to the side where it is out of the way.
“Perhaps John can give us a medical opinion.” Sherlock remarks, drawing John’s attention back to the two brothers.
“If you want.” John shrugs as Mycroft hands him a page from the file. The paper is double-sided and it seems like notes taken by someone spying on a young woman. Specifically someone reporting on the mystery woman’s health and trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with said woman. “… well there’s not a lot here. Couldn’t you just follow her to a doctor’s office or something?”
“She’s a terrorist John, it’s not like they visit doctors all that often.” Sherlock replies as he somehow manages to perch on the back of the chair Mycroft is sitting in.
“A terrorist?” John blinks as he re-reads the information. There isn’t anything in the paper Mycroft has handed him to indicate the woman was a terrorist.
“Her group’s activities were never designed to catch the public’s attention.” Mycroft explains. “In addition they have become less active recently due to a change in their leader’s ideologies. However the organization—and this woman—are still worth keeping an eye on.”
“Well she’s probably sick, but I can’t tell what it could be from this.” John remarks, gesturing to the paper. “I mean—it could be cancer or something serious, but it could also just be a bad cold. Hell, she might even be pregnant.”
“Let’s hope not. The idea of that family increasing is… troubling.” Mycroft sighs, reaching out to take the paper back from John. “But thank you for taking a look.”
Mycroft makes a few notes on the paper and slips it back inside the file, which he closes and places off to one side. Awkwardly Mycroft folds his hands in his lap and leans back in the chair, which makes his head bump against Sherlock’s body. He flinches slightly, before seeming to remember that—technically—the three of them are in a relationship now and relaxing, as if Sherlock is a headrest.
“So how is this going to work?” John asks as he leans back in his chair, watching the two brothers. “Are you going to move in here?”
“If it is okay with—” Mycroft begins, but Sherlock cuts him off.
“Of course it’s okay.” Sherlock huffs.
“Then I will—partially at least.” Mycroft sighs. “My works necessitates a larger residence from time to time and it feels somehow… well wrong to ask you two to leave Baker Street. However I will make the attempt to be here as much as present.”
“Speaking of your work, how…” John finds himself blushing slightly as he remembers the kiss he’d shared with Sherlock in front of Lestrade and the police. “How discrete do we need to be about this?
“No one in our family will care.” Sherlock replies with a shrug.
“No one in our family whose opinions actually matter will care.” Mycroft corrects. “However we will understand if you wish to
“As long as we’re not planning on going out in leather chaps and feather boas I’m good.” John shrugs. His parents are both dead and Harry… well John doesn’t really care what Harry thinks of his relationship, if she ever even finds out. Mycroft and Sherlock both stare at John for a second before smirking slightly at his comment. “What I mean is… well we can figure that out as we go along.”
“You’ll have to meet Mummy of course.” Sherlock remarks as he glances over at one of the windows, which is almost rattling from the force of the rain. Before John can figure out what to say to that comment the door to 221B opens and Not!Anthea steps in, holding two plastic bags. Without speaking she crosses the room to the table and quickly pulls several to-go containers from the bags, which are wet from the rain, although Not!Anthea seems perfectly dry. Once the bags are empty she crumbles them up and tosses them into a nearby trashcan.
“He’ll need it.” Sherlock remarks, as if he’s answering a question despite the fact that Not!Anthea hasn’t said anything to the three men. After he says this Sherlock stands up and moves to the table, where he opens one of the to-go containers—which has a “S” written on it in black marker.
“What?” John glances between Sherlock—who has sat down at the table—and Not!Anthea. Sherlock glances over at Mycroft and raises on eyebrow, asking an unspoken question of some sort.
“Aset.” Mycroft informs his brother as John moves over to the to-go boxes. Sherlock opens one, which has a J scrawled on it, revealing John’s favorite dinner from Angelo’s.
“‘Aset’ decided to bring over some of Mycroft’s clothing as well as dinner.” Sherlock explains before taking a bite of his pasta.
“I’ve also arrange for two suits to be sent over.” ‘Aset’ says with a smirk. She moves back into the hall and pulls a small black suitcase into the apartment. “A copy of your schedule for the upcoming week is in the outer pocket.”
“Thank you.” Mycroft steps forward and holds the file out for Isis to take. “I’d like an increase in surveillance, but only if it can be done discreetly.”
“That might be difficult sir, our latest intel suggests that she’s headed back to Asia, most likely to her father.” Aset replies as she takes the file, quickly opening it and looking over the notes that Mycroft has made. “I’ll look into our options, will that be all?”
“For tonight.” Mycroft sighs as he moves to join Sherlock and John at the table. Isis nods farewell to the three men and leaves the apartment, closing the door behind her. As John starts eating his pasta his phone goes off—actually it goes off twice. As Mycroft opens up his box from Angelo’s John pulls out his phone and quickly reads the two messages. The first one is from Lestrade.
Someone told Anderson. He hasn’t spoken in ten minutes and he’s actually twitching.
John laughs and shows the text to Sherlock, who cackles quite evily before doing a impression of what he thinks Anderson might look like. Mycroft laughs and the two brothers being comparing Anderson to someone they both went to school with as children. As the two brothers talk John flips over to the second message, which is from the woman who is currently calling herself Aset.
If you hurt them even Moriarty will be sickened by what I do to you.
Without really thinking John fires off a response.
You’re the second person to threaten me today.
Just as he’s about to turn his phone on to vibrate or just mute the thing for the night, Not!Anthea replies.
Wait until you meet ‘Mummy’.
Author’s Note: 999 is the British Emergency Number, like the US’s 911. Lestrade’s shovel line is inspired by / taken from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Not!Anthea’s latest name, ‘Aset’ is actually the Egyptian Goddess Isis. ‘Aset’ is how some historians think ‘Isis’ was originally pronounced.
Chapter 14: No Place Like Home
No one is surprised when soldiers carrying flashlights come to investigate the explosion which killed Dr. Frankland. What doessurprise Sherlock and John is when the person leading the soldiers ends up being Not!Anthea. Mycroft’s personal assistant has a gun holster hanging off one side of her belt and a cell phone holder on the other side, which somehow manages to look just as threatening as her gun. As soon as she arrives in a military jeep the young woman makes a beeline for Sherlock and pulls out her phone. She hits the first number on speed dial and holds said phone out to Sherlock.
“Dr. Frankland killed Mr. Knight’s father and used one of his old projects to cover up the crime. Frankland died after stepping on a landmine.” Sherlock explains, suddenly sounding as tired as John feels now that the chase is over, the case solved and the terror of encountering what he thought was a monster has worn off.
Not!Anthea takes the phone back and briefly listens to whoever—John’s guessing Mycroft—is on the other end of the line before she turns and starts barking orders at the soldiers she’d brought with her. One of the female soldiers moves to escort Henry and Lestrade away as Not!Anthea sort of herds Sherlock and John towards a plain black car that the ex-Army Doctor hadn’t seen arrive at the scene.
“Mycroft will meet you at the Manor.” Not!Antha informs Sherlock as she opens the car door.
“Manor?” John asks Sherlock as the two of them sort of slide/stumble into the car.
“Mycroft and I descended from country squires. Mummy spends most of her time at Holmes Manor since she retired.” Sherlock explains as the car’s engine starts. There is a moment of silence and then Sherlock adds two words: “I’m sorry.”
“What?” John blinks, turning so that he can face Sherlock.
“I drugged you.” Sherlock replies in a whisper as he moves away from John ever so slightly.
“But the drug wasn’t in the sugar.” John points out.
“No, you must have run into a leaking pipe or something in the Lab… but I watched you, from the security control room. I turned off the lights and played the right sounds.”
With a sigh John pulls himself upright and moves away from Sherlock just enough so that he can punch his partner’s arm… hard. The world’s only consulting detective flinches but doesn’t make a sound or even try to move out of John’s reach.
“Don’t ever do that again.” John glares at Sherlock until the dark haired man nods. With a sigh John leans against his partner once more and, after a second, he modifies his demand. “Unless it’s necessary.”
“I only lie to you when it’s necessary.” Sherlock replies, awkwardly reaching around so that he can hold John’s hand.
“Then continue doing that.” John smiles slightly as he squeezes Sherlock’s hand. “But I reserve the right to punch you afterwards.”
“Agreed.” Sherlock yawns, moving slightly so that he is leaning against the side of the car and John ends up sort of lying in his partner’s arms. Within seconds the two are asleep, Sherlock holding John in his arms.
John sort of half wakes up when he and Sherlock reach Holmes Manor. He isn’t completely awake, but he is dimly aware of Sherlock stepping out of the car and talking to someone, before helping John to stand and leading the ex-Army Doctor up a flight of stairs. John is fairly certain that the second person who helps him and Sherlock up the stairs is Mycroft, but he can’t be sure. When the three reach the top of the stairs they seem to almost instantly be in a darkened bedroom, where John and Sherlock collapse on to a large, soft bed. The moment he lies down on the bed John falls asleep once more and finds himself back in Dartmoor, on the path to Dewer’s Hollow, looking up at the lights which will turn out not to be a clue, just a distraction.
A distraction which separates him from Henry and Sherlock. A distraction which leads to John running through the woods alone, calling out his partner’s name in a whisper, afraid to speak any louder… and then the ex-Army Doctor hears something moving in the darkness around him. It’s almost like the howling that one would expect a “monstrous hound” to produce, but there’s something metallic to the sound, which makes a shiver race down John’s spine.
He starts to run, not sure if he’s heading towards the sound or not… it seems to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, so John isn’t too surprised when he runs into the world’s only consulting detective and Henry Knight, who are arguing over if Sherlock saw the hound or not.
Part of John knows that this is a dream. He knows that things didn’t happen this way, that his mind is twisting his memories into a nightmare… but that doesn’t make the terror he feels diminish in anyway. Instead of heading out of the forest, like they did in real life, the howling intensifies and, in the forest around the three men, something—or perhaps multiple somethings—starts to move through the undergrowth.
The three men turn, so that their backs are to each other and they are facing out into the dark unknown of the forest. Despite having his back practically up against Sherlock and Henry, John can somehow see the men as if he was standing in front of them, as if his life has just turned into some sort of movie or television show.
Sherlock is terrified, more so then he had been in real life when he confessed to having seen the hound in Dewer’s Hollow. His entire body shakes as he scans the forest, eyes wide and grip tight around his flashlight. Henry is no better off, he’s perhaps two seconds away from a horrible breakdown, and is shaking so badly he’s having trouble holding on to his flashlight. Somehow this sight centers John, who reaches into his coat and pulls out his gun, which his points out into the darkness.
The three men are surrounded. There’s something out there, in the woods, something moving closer and closer… and it all seems so familiar, even though part of John knows that this didn’t happen, that this dream has gone from memory to nightmare. But it still feels familiar, like some other memory is creeping in. He thinks he sees something move, but before he can pull the trigger a shot rings out and Henry falls to the forest floor, screaming and clutching his left leg.
Without thinking John passes his gun off to Sherlock and kneels down next to Henry. There is gunfire all around the three men now, in addition to the strangely metallic howling of the hound. Henry has been shot in his leg… and as he screams out for his mother his face changes and Henry is no longer Henry but Richard Carter.
The world around the three shifts, so that while they are still in the forest they are also somehow in the desert, and the sand under their feet is stained with blood. John pulls himself aware from Richard who was Henry and runs towards Sherlock, who is somehow a good distance away. Part of John knows that his memories are mixing together to create this new nightmare and while John doesn’t know what that will result in, he knows that he needs to protect Sherlock.
But it’s too late… because John’s mind decides to get creative with the nightmare. Sherlock and John are facing each other, and the consulting detective is falling over the edge of Dewer’s Hollow, his eyes wide as he reaches out for John, who tries to reach back—but finds himself falling to the ground, his shoulder burning and his blood pouring on to the sand as Sherlock tumbles over the edge and out of sight.
Please don’t be dead. Please god, don’t let him be dead. John screams as he tries to force his body to move towards the edge, to move so that he can see Sherlock… and John Watson wakes up, a scream on his lips, a phantom pain throbbing in his shoulder and the nightmare burning in his mind. For a second he is terrified, unsure of where he is and he tries to stand up—but then Sherlock’s arms wrap around his waist and pull him back down. John clings to the taller man as Mycroft whispers something which sounds comforting but which John doesn’t actually hear or understand into his ear. The two brothers move closer to John and, after a second, the ex-Army Doctor falls asleep once more.
This time John’s sleep is mercifully free of both dreams and nightmares.
The next time John wakes sunlight is pouring through the nearby windows. After blinking a few times John rolls on to his side and finds Sherlock sitting on the bed beside him, buttoning up the shirt which one or two of their fans have started calling the “purple shirt of sex”. John reaches out and pokes Sherlock’s back, which earns him both the Consulting Detective’s attention and a smirk.
“Finally awake?” Sherlock asks as he leans over and presses a soft kiss to John’s lips. “Mycroft’s ‘requested’ my help in dealing with the fallout from Baskerville and Mummy wants to meet you.”
“Fallout?” John asks, stretching while Sherlock stands up and adjusts his jacket.
“Some American group wants access to Frankland’s notes.” Sherlock replies as John slowly climbs to his feet and manages to locate his suitcase, which is sitting near the base of the bed.
John presumes that the bedroom he is in is a guest room—it somehow seems too impersonal to be either Sherlock or Mycroft’s bedroom. The walls are covered in dark wood panels and there is a stone fireplace against the wall opposite from the bed. The room has a simple wooden desk with matching chair, two armchairs which are in front of the fireplace and several pieces of art hanging on the walls. The bed John is lying in is a four poster bed, with ridiculously soft sheets. Through the windows John can see an elegant garden and a pond with a large weeping willow.
“Just go down the stairs when you’re dressed, Mummy will find you.” Sherlock says with a yawn before he heads out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him. John quickly cleans himself up and changes into fresh clothing before he leaves the room in search of “Mummy”.
The hallway John steps out into is no less richly decorated or elegant then the bedroom, although there is bit more of everything—from the beautiful oriental rugs beneath John’s feet to the artwork on the walls. The paintings are mostly the sort of old portraits, landscapes and such that one would expect to find in a old country house, with the addition of shields, swords and medieval weaponry, along with a few complete suits of armor. However there are a few works of art which are definitely modern—an abstract metal sculpture sits on an antique table, while some of the frames on the wall hold photographs and portraits which seem to have been created recently. At the top of the stairs John pauses to look at one of the more recent portraits, which depicts a younger Sherlock and Mycroft.
In the portrait Sherlock looks to be eighteen or nineteen, which would make Mycroft either twenty two or twenty three. In the portrait the two brothers are standing side by side, Mycroft on the right, Sherlock on the left. Mycroft has his hands behind his back and is wearing a suit, while Sherlock has his arms crossed in front of his chest and is wearing dark blue jeans and a white button up shirt with the top two buttons undone. In the portrait Mycroft looks almost exactly the same as he does now—just younger. He’s got the same hair and is wearing a expertly tailored suit. On the other hand Sherlock looks not only younger but… well almost like a completely different person. He has much longer hair, long enough that he’s pulled it back into a pony tail. In the portrait Sherlock is wearing dark blue jeans and a white button up shirt with the top two buttons undone. While Mycroft looks like the minor government figure he probably was at the time, Sherlock looks like a starving art student, or perhaps some other sort of starving student who models for starving art students. In the portrait the two Holmes brothers seem to be glaring at each other out of the corner of their eyes, as if any second they’ll either start verbally sparing or just start fighting like little kids.
“She really managed to capture them, didn’t she?”
John practically jumps out of his skin. He takes a second to compose himself and then turns towards the speaker—the second he sees the older woman he knows that this must be Sherlock and Mycroft’s mother. Or, to be more specific, John knows that this has to be Sherlock’s mother and assumes that Mycroft takes after his father.
Mrs. Holmes looks like Sherlock. They’ve got practically the same face, although Mrs. Holmes manages to have more severe cheekbones then Sherlock. She’s got the same delicate build as Sherlock, but her eyes are the same grey blue as Mycroft’s. Mrs. Holmes has short hair, a sort of more feminine version of Sherlock’s haircut, which has turned completely white and is wearing very little makeup. She’s wearing a dark red shirt with long sleeves which looks like it’s been wrapped around her, plain black dress pants and sensible black dress shoes. John estimates that she’s only a little bit shorter then her sons and can’t help but notice that there is no wedding ring on Mrs. Holmes’ finger, although she is wearing a black and silver cameo ring on her left hand.
“She?” John asks as Mrs. Holmes smiles and her gaze shifts back to the painting of Sherlock and Mycroft. “I assume you mean the artist?”
“She’s my cousin—Émilie Cailot, perhaps you’ve heard of her?”
“The name does seem familiar.” John admits.
“We’re both descended from an illegitimate sister of the French painter Horace Vernet.” Mrs. Holmes explains before she turns towards John and holds out her hand to the ex-Army Doctor. “Doctor John Watson I presume?”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Holmes.” John replies as he shakes the woman’s hand, finding that she has a surprisingly firm grip.
“Sherlock and Mycroft haven’t told you anything about me—have they?” Mrs. Holmes asks, a smirk appearing on her face.
“Not ever your name.” John replies with a grin as Mrs. Holmes releases his hand. She gestures for John to follow her and starts heading down the staircase which John can dimly remember stumbling up last night with the help of Sherlock and Mycroft.
“Violet Elizabeth Holmes.” Mrs. Holmes informs him. “You know I was beginning to think that no one would be able to put up with my boys—you must be made of pretty strong stuff Dr. Watson.”
“So you…” John finds himself blushing as his gaze drifts down to the ground awkwardly as he and Violet reach the bottom of the stairs.
“Yes, I know that you’re involved with both of my sons.” Mrs. Holmes replies, her smirk shifting slightly and becoming a near perfect clone of Sherlock’s. “My sons know better than to try to hide anything from me… however I am ashamed to say that they have been remiss in telling me about you. All I know about you comes from several rather dry intelligence reports.”
“Intelligence reports?” John blinks and Violet laughs softly as she turns and leads the two of them into a sitting room whose décor has clearly been influenced more by comfort then the rich elegance of the rest of the house John has seen. A small table, next to a large window which looks out on the pond and weeping willow that John has seen from his bedroom, is set with breakfast for two. The walls are lined with bookcases, and on the mantelpiece of the room’s fireplace John can see several photographs of Sherlock and Mycroft. John can see a few baby pictures which he definitely wants to check out later. As he sits down at the table across from Mrs. Holmes—John almost starts laughing because Mrs. Holmes has a framed copy of “the Hat Picture” that Sherlock hates so much.
“Mycroft didn’t tell you?” Mrs. Holmes asks as she pours two cups of tea. She pours the perfect amount of milk into a cup which she passes to John before she pours a more liberal amount of milk and a little less than a half-spoonful of sugar to her own cup. “Before I retired I held his job.”
“I was under the impression that Mycroft had… well ‘created’ his job.” John replies as he takes a slice of toast from the toast rack.
“In a way he did. He saw a need for someone to focus full time on issues which, until that point, had been the responsibility of several people, including myself.” Violet explains. “I ensured that his job was secure before promoting my assistant and retiring.”
“So you were and Mycroft is the British Government—then what was Mr. Holmes then? A non-consulting detective?”
“There is no Mr. Holmes.” Violet replies as she takes a piece of toast for herself. “My husband had the rather unfortunate name of Siger Sherrinford and he was more conventional politician, with what his colleges and mine called a ‘bright’ future.”
“Was?” John asks before he can think that asking such a question isn’t exactly polite.
“Siger cheated on me with his secretary. Now he has a menial job in some town where there are more sheep then people.” Mrs. Holmes takes a slow sip of her tea. “I believe that town is currently looking for a doctor…”
“That is one of the more inventive threats that I’ve heard.” John notes as he refills his tea cup and is proud to find that his hand doesn’t shake… although Violet’s threat had been non-violent, the older woman had somehow managed to spoke John more than Lestrade’s threat to beat him to death with a trowel.
“Brave boy.” Mrs. Holmes smirks. “Sherlock was the one who found out—he deduced that my ex-husband was unfaithful when he was five and Mycroft was nine. Since the divorce the three of us have used my maiden name… I don’t think Sherlock and Mycroft have actually spoken to their father in seven years.”
“So was that when Sherlock decided to be a detective?”
“Oh he’s always been a detective.” Violet smiles as she reaches over and pulls what looks like a photo album off a nearby book shelf and places it between the two of them on the table. “I believe that this might interest you…”
“Are those baby pictures?” John asks, a sort of mischievous glee creeping into a voice as he spots a picture of a tiny Mycroft holding a baby Sherlock with the help of Mrs. Holmes.
“You’re dating two Holmes—I figure you can use the blackmail material. Somewhere in here there’s a picture of Sherlock dressed up as a bee for a school play.”
Sherlock Holmes, the World’s Only Consulting Detective, sighs and runs a hand through his hair as he walks down the halls of his childhood home. While it had been somewhat enjoyable to work alongside Mycroft, dealing with the Americans—or more specifically this “Project Cadmus” which had become interested in Dr. Frankland’s work on the H.O.U.N.D project. Eventually Sherlock had gone behind Mycroft’s back and sent off a text message to Rachel, who had called in some favors and friends who had (apparently) distracted Cadmus and dealt with Frankland’s files.
So Sherlock had left Mycroft to tie up the remaining lose ends and ventured out in the house in search of both his mother and John Watson. As the younger Holmes brother makes his way downstairs to his mother’s study he finds himself stopping to stare at the portrait of himself and Mycroft which had, unknown to him, recently captured John’s attention. Sherlock remembers how, less the a minute after Émilie Cailot had delivered the finished portrait to Mummy, he and Mycroft had screamed at each other until Sherlock lost his voice and Mycroft was red in the face. After that argument the two brothers hadn’t spoken to each other for two months… over time the periods of silence had lasted longer and longer, until John had arrived in Sherlock’s life and turned everything upside down.
That first argument had been over their father. After their parents divorce Sherlock and Mycroft had only the barest contact with Siger Sherrinford… until Mycroft’s twenty-second birthday. Siger had attempted to contact both brothers, but had only managed to get Mycroft to start talking with him. During the weeks that Émilie had been painting the portrait Siger had been calling Mycroft practically every other day and begging his older son to help him reconnect with Sherlock.
On that final day Sherlock had insulted Mycroft, calling him an idiot and informing him that all their father wanted was money, that Siger just wanted a road back into the society Mummy had helped expel him from—not a real relationship with either of them. Mycroft, without thinking, had replied that perhaps Siger just didn’t want a relationship with Sherlock... if Émilie and Mummy hadn’t come into the room to investigate the screaming the two brothers probably would have started fighting. Instead they just stormed off to opposite ends of the house and didn’t speak for two months.
It hadn’t taken that long for Sherlock to be proven right. Less than two weeks into the two month silence which followed Sherlock and Mycroft’s argument the older Holmes brother had agreed to meet his father face to face for the first time in twelve years. It hadn’t taken Siger long to ask Mycroft for “assistance” and after that request it had taken less than half a second for Mycroft to connect the dots he’d been trying to ignore and realize that Sherlock had been right.
Five days after the meeting—which had ended awkwardly when Mycroft hadn’t immediately pulled out a checkbook but had instead agreed to look into getting Siger some “assistance”—Sherlock and Mycroft’s father had called Holmes Manor exceedingly late at night while he was unbelievably drunk and insulted not only Mycroft, but Sherlock and—most importantly—Mummy. Mycroft had responded by devoting a significant amount of time to ensuring Siger Sherrinford would never leave the speck of a town Mummy had banished him to...
Sherlock sighs as he pulls himself away from the portrait and heads down the staircase towards his mother’s study. The Detective is reasonably sure that Mycroft doesn’t know that Sherlock had contacted their father after that first argument… their mother probably knows, but then again Mummy knows everything. After his argument with Mycroft, about two days after Mycroft had dinner with Siger, Sherlock had gone to that town in the middle of nowhere and tracked down his father.
Instead of a broken man living alone, Sherlock had found a man living a lie, a man with a girlfriend who didn’t know about his past, about his sons or his infidelity. In fact Siger Sherrinford had recently gotten engaged… to a wealthy woman a great deal younger then him. So Sherlock had very calmly greeted Siger as his father and then explained to the woman that Siger had cheated on his wife and was currently stealing from her to fund a gambling addiction. Mummy and Mycroft may have ensured that Siger Sherrinford would be stuck in a little town in the middle of nowhere, but Sherlock had ensured that he’d be alone in said town in the middle of nowhere.
As Sherlock steps into his mother’s study he breaths deeply… he can smell the tea and toast of his mother and John’s breakfast, along with the comforting smell of books—both old and new and several different types of ink—most noticeably the “Eclat de Saphir” ink from J. Herbin which his mother uses for her personal correspondence. Additionally Sherlock can smell his mother’s preferred perfume—“The Bolt of Lightning” by Jar Perfums of Paris—in significant quantities that he is not surprised when his mother’s hand gently touches his shoulder.
“Hello Mother.” Sherlock smiles as he turns towards Violet Holmes.
“Sherlock.” Mrs. Holmes smiles as she cups Sherlock’s cheek with her other hand. Sherlock remains perfectly still as his mother makes a silent inspection of her youngest son. “You’ve gained weight—I assume John is to thank?”
“He is an excellent cook and very committed to regular meals.” Sherlock replies before he leans down and presses a kiss to his mother’s cheek. “You do… like him—don’t you?”
“Sherlock—you know I do.” Violet smiles as she heads for an armchair which sits in front of the unlit fireplace. “I received a call from an old friend and John very politely excused himself to take a walk near the pond.”
“…you showed him the bee picture, didn’t you?”
Mycroft’s chuckles cut off any reply from Mrs. Holmes. Sherlock turns and glares at his older brother, who is standing in the doorway with his arms crossed.
“I wouldn’t laugh Mycroft.” Mrs. Holmes replies, gesturing for her sons to sit on the couch next to her armchair. “There was also a rather adorable picture of you working on your ‘high technology’.”
Sherlock finds himself biting his lip to keep form snorting. When Mycroft was three years old he—according to Mummy—had a habit of amusing himself by scribbling in notebooks as if he was writing something. Apparently whenever Violet had asked her son what he was drawing Mycroft would reply that he wasn’t drawing, he was “…working on my high technology!” Sherlock was reasonably sure that their mother had one of those notebooks hidden away somewhere, but he’d never been able to find it… all he’d found were Mycroft and Sherlock’s childhood drawings and art projects.
“Lovely.” Mycroft sighs as he sits down next to Sherlock on the couch.
“Oh don’t be so cross.” Violet smiles. “Embarrassing stories and photographs are the center of any good relationship between a mother and the man who is dating her sons… I trust you’ve dealt with the Americans?”
“They shouldn’t be a problem.” Mycroft replies with a sigh. “In this matter at least. I’ve taken steps to increase surveillance on this ‘Project Cadmus’.”
“I’ll talk with my old friends.” Mrs. Holmes offers. “Does this gas which has the Americans so interested have any lingering effects?”
“All the evidence from the original trials indicates that we should be fine.” Sherlock replies. “Our exposure was extremely limited and there is some evidence that knowledge of the gas’ effect helps the mind to cope.”
“I’ve ensured Mr. Knight will receive both compensation and aid for all he has been through.” Mycroft adds. “And of course I’ll keep tabs on Sherlock and John.”
“I should hope so.” Violet sighs as her gaze drifts away from her son to the window, through which she can see the willow tree John Watson is no doubt sitting underneath. “That man must be some sort of saint to put up with the two of you… make sure you don’t let him get away like that young woman from America.”
“Mummy, neither one of us ever dated Rachel.” Mycroft objects.
“Of course not. Rachel was a very determined young woman and you two are idiots when it comes to matters of the heart.” Mrs. Holmes replies. “It’s a good think that John Watson seems to be fluent in both idiot and “Holmes”.”
Sherlock, Mycroft and John end up staying at Holmes Manor with Violet for five days before real life starts pulling the threesome back to London. The pull starts when Mycroft receives a call from Not!Anthea, who has been working to enable Mycroft to take his little holiday. Apparently something has come up—John doesn’t quite understand if it’s involving the Russians, the Chinese or perhaps the Russians and the Chinese—which requires his personal attention and his presence in London. So the three men bid farewell to Mrs. Holmes and—after John promises to write and call—make their way back to London and 221B Baker Street.
John isn’t sure when Mrs. Hudson realized that he and Sherlock were dating. He also isn’t completely sure when their landlady came to understand the part that Mycroft Holmes plays in her tenant’s lives. All that John knows is that, when they return form Baskerville and Holmes Manor, Mrs. Hudson has knitted socks for all of them and is working on a sweater for John since she didn’t know Mycroft’s size and didn’t think Sherlock would wear one.
After the three men return from Holmes Manor Mycroft starts to leave his mark on 221B… his clothing starts to appear in the dresser drawers and the closet, his toothbrush and toiletries occupy space in the bathroom, a spare umbrella takes up residence in a corner near the front door and Mycroft’s preferred food starts to show up in the kitchen. Only a few days after John meets “Mummy” a mini-fridge appears in the kitchen as if by magic, with a laminated sign reading “Body Part / Experiments ONLY” taped to the door while another sign, this one reading “FOOD ONLY” appeared on the large fridge, which looked a great deal cleaner then it had the night before.
The next time John goes out to purchase groceries (and supplies for Sherlock’s latest experiment) he finds that in addition to his bank card and Sherlock’s card— which is in his wallet more often then it is in Sherlock’s—there is a Coutts World card in his name. John tries to give the card back to Mycroft, but of course that goes nowhere fast. So instead of giving the card back John ends up going out with Sherlock and using the new card to find a birthday gift for Mrs. Hudson and a combination “sorry you had to deal with Sherlock covered in pig’s blood and holding a harpoon at a subway station” and “sorry for causing you to be exposed to a gas which made you think we were attacked by a giant Hound” gift for Lestrade.
When John returns from delivering said gift to Lestrade he finds Sherlock waiting outside of 221B with a suitcase in one each hand and a smirk on his face.
“Case?” John asks as one of Mycroft’s black cars pulls up behind them and the driver steps out to open the door for them.
“Neil Gibson has requested our assistance.” Sherlock informs John as the climb into the car.
“The American whose wife was murdered?” John asks.
“Indeed. The police have arrested one Gregory Dunbar, the Gibson’s male nanny.” Sherlock informs John. “Mr. Gibson wants up to prove the man’s innonance."
Author’s Notes: Violet Holmes’ appearance is based off of this comic by Sash-kash.
Mummy Holmes uses J. Herbin's Ink, specifically the "Eclat de Saphir" (a dark blue) with a "Cigare" Nib-Holder and a "Index Finger" nib. At least that's what I think, but since I don't actually known anything about writing with pens like that... feel free to ignore if that doesn't work.
Mummy’s preferred perfume is “The Bolt of Lightening” by Jar Perfumes of Paris. Info can be found here.
The story of Tiny!Mycroft and his “high technology” is a true story about my youngest sister.
A “Coutts’s World Card” is, according to the googling I have done, a luxery British credit card, rumored to be the card of choice for the Queen. The card costs 700$ a year unless you spend 100,000 a year and comes with perks like private shopping trips at London Stores and executive airport lounge access. It’s available by invitation only.
Chapter 15: Things Fall Apart
Author’s Note: Sorry this took so long. Partially this is due to Finals and Christmas time at work but it’s also partially due to the fact that this is the Reichenbach episode and I kept getting attacked by feels every time I started writing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It takes Sherlock less than a day to figure out the true cause of Maria Gibson’s death. The wife of Neil Gibson, who was not only an American millionaire but a former California Senator, had not only committed suicide, but had staged her suicide so that it appeared that the Gibson Family’s male nanny, Gregory Dunbar, had killed his employer’s wife. Despite the fact that Sherlock and Mr. Gibson had not gotten along and despite the fact that Sherlock had refused to work for the ex-Senator and had instead taken the case pro bono for Gregory Dunbar, Mr. Gibson had apparently spoken rather favorably of the Consulting Detective and his ex-Army Doctor. Less than a month after the “Problem of Thor Bridge” (which had gone unremarked on upon John’s blog and which the newspapers never connected to the residents of 221B) Sherlock was contacted by the Director of the Higgens Art Gallery and Museum.
Apparently someone had stolen one of the Museum’s paintings, specifically Joseph Mallord William Turner’s 1804 “The Falls of the Reichenbach”. Once again it hadn’t taken Sherlock long to get to the bottom of the “mystery”. The son of one of the Gallery’s former Directors, who had fancied himself a descendent and “artistic heir” of J.M.W. Turner, had stolen the painting—with some outside assistance which all but screamed of Moriarty’s involvement in the theft. Sherlock had recovered the painting and had been rewarded with a pair of diamond cufflinks and a tabloid nickname—“The Reichenbach Hero”.
The newspaper coverage from Sherlock’s recover of the painting leads to the wife of a kidnapped banker contacting Sherlock (via John’s blog) and asking him to help the police find her husband… which once again lead to newspaper headlines and a expensive but ultimately useless gift—a tie pin which Sherlock ends up giving to John. The return of the banker leads to the Consulting Detective helping the police to capture the man’s kidnappers and, eventually ends with Gregory Lestrade presenting Sherlock with a new deerstalker hat during a press conference at New Scotland Yard.
The only reason that John and Sherlock are able to escape from the press conference without being mobbed by reporters is that Not!Anthea manages to appear form out of thin ari and escorts the two through a backdoor into a small alley where Mycroft is waiting in one of his non-descript black cars. The elder Holmes brother has a smirk on his face and a cell phone in his hands. Before Sherlock—who is still wearing the hat Lestrade had all but forced on to his head—can react his brother snaps a photo with his cell phone and promptly sends it to Mrs. Holmes while John keeps Sherlock from snatching the phone out of Mycroft’s hands.
Sherlock gets his revenge at Angelo’s where—as the three eat dinner—he manages to put the deerstalker on Mycroft’s head and take a picture. This sets off a ridiculously childish squabble which John finds himself unable to stop because he’s too busy trying to laugh and breathe at the same time. Eventually John snatches the hat from the two feuding Holmes Brothers and ends up wearing the slightly worse for wear deerstalker back to 221B.
The last time that John sees the hat—well the last time he sees the hat that night—it’s lying on the bedroom floor on top of Sherlock’s coat and just to the right of Mycroft’s tie. Somehow the deerstalker ends up sitting on the skull on top of 221B’s mantelpiece the next morning, taking the place once occupied by the original hat, the one which Sherlock had stolen from the theater and which had decorated 221B’s Christmas tree before it’s sudden disappearance shortly after Sherlock, John and Mycroft’s return from Holmes Manor. John is pretty sure that Sherlock had either flung the hat out of the window or destroyed it in an “experiment” after he got the title of “Reichenbach Hero” and the “Hat Photo” started showing up again and again.
When Sherlock finally stumbles out of the bedroom the next morning John and Mycroft are sitting on the couch in the living room, drinking tea and looking through a veritable mountain of newspapers which prominently feature articles on Sherlock’s recent cases. When Sherlock emerges—clad in black sweat pants, his blue robe and a white shirt that John is fairly sure Sherlock stole from him—Mycroft and John are laughing over the title of one of the newspaper articles in front of him: Boffin Sherlock Solves Another!
“Boffin?” Sherlock asks as he peers at the newspaper and swipes a piece of toast off John’s plate… both Mycroft and John have taken to putting extra food on their plates, since nine times out of ten Sherlock will “steal” something off their plates when he otherwise wouldn’t eat anything. Sherlock quickly eats the piece of toast, before frowning as he realizes that the article John and Mycroft are focused on features a picture from the press conference the previous day in which Sherlock is wearing the deerstalker hat.
“Everyone gets one.” John replies with a shrug as Sherlock stalks over to the mantelpiece, where the deerstalker is innocently sitting on top of the skull.
“One what?” Sherlock asks, glancing back over his shoulder at John.
“Tabloid nickname.” John explains. “I’ll probably get one soon.”
“Page five, column six, first sentence.” Mycroft replies, not looking up from the newspaper he is reading as John flips to the article in question.
“Why is it always the hat photograph?!” Sherlock grumbles as he turns back towards the deerstalker, picks up the offending hat and starts to examine it… as if the hat contains the solution to a particularly interesting murder.
“Bachelor John Watson?!” John practically squawks, which draws a smirk and a very badly suppressed chuckle from Mycroft. On the other hand Sherlock seems completely oblivious to his partners.
“What sort of hat is it anyway?” Sherlock asks, holding the hat with one hand and punching it with his other so that the crown puffs out.
“Bachelor?” John starts laughing as he looks through the other newspapers and counting how many times that word is placed next to his name.
“Is it a cap?” Sherlock asks himself, holding the hat in front of him for a second before he twists it back and forth rapidly. “Why has it got two fronts?”
“It’s a deerstalker.” Mycroft explains, his gaze still fixed upon John.
“‘…frequently seen in the company of bachelor John Watson…’” John chuckles as he reads from one newspaper.
“How can you stalk a deer with a hat?” Sherlock asks, turning towards Mycroft and John as he leans against the mantelpiece which is now behind him. “What are you going t do… throw it?”
“‘Confirmed bachelor John Watson?’” John laughs as he puts down the last of the newspapers and turns towards Mycroft. “Seriously, why don’t’ they just go ahead and say ‘boyfriend’?”
“Is it some sort of death frisbee?” Sherlock mumbles, holding the hat in one hand and practicing a throwing motion with the deerstalker.
“This is all a bit much.” Mycroft notes as he gazes over the small mountain of newspapers. “Perhaps you should be more careful…”
“It’s got flaps—ear flaps! It’s an ear hat John!” Sherlock grumbles before he throws the hat across the room to John, who finds himself easily catching the so called “death frisbee”. Both Sherlock and Mycroft seem impressed with Jon’s catch, although Sherlock quickly recovers and turns towards his older brother. “What do you mean, ‘more careful’?”
“This isn’t just a deerstalker now, it’s a Sherlock Holmes hat.” Mycroft explains as he takes the hat from John. “You’re not exactly a private detective any more—you’re practically famous.”
“It’ll pass.” Sherlock replies with a shrug as he makes his way across the room and flops down on the couch next to John.
“I hope so.” John sighs with a shrug as he makes his way across the room and flops down on the couch next to John and Mycroft.
“I hope so.” John sighs as he leans back and runs a hand through his hair. “As much as these reporters love your success, I’m sure they’d also love to see you fail.”
“I don’t get cases wrong.” Sherlock replies as he reaches across John’s lap to snag a piece of bacon off Mycroft’ s plate.
“There’s more than one way to fail ‘Lock.” Mycroft replies with a sigh as his phone alerts him to a new text message. With a long suffering roll of his eyes Mycroft reaches into a pocket of his jacket and pulls out his cell, only to frown as two more messages arrive in rapid succession… and then John’s phone starts to ring.
It’s eleven o’clock on a Saturday and Jim Morality has just broken into the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison… and somehow managed to find the time to scrawl GET SHERLOCK on a glass display case protecting the Crown Jewels.
Moriarty’s trial is a nightmare. Reporters all but permanently camp out outside of 221B, which results in Not!Anthea moving into John’s old room in the attic. Mycroft’s personal assistant divides her time fairly evenly between glaring at reporters, drinking tea with Mrs. Hudson, cleaning her guns in the middle of 221B’s kitchen while talking with Sherlock and—perhaps most disturbingly—helping John cook while she pours over files marked “TOP SECRET” and “CONFIDENTIAL”.
Soon John and Sherlock are seeing more of Not!Anthea then they are of Mycroft. The Consulting Detective and the ex-Army Doctor are pulled away by the press and lawyers as the entire world seems to prepare for Moriarty’s trial, while Mycroft is being pulled away by his work… there are a lot of people who have a lot of questions about Moriarty’s little crime spree and those questions keep ending up on Mycroft’s desk. So while Not!Anthea spends day after day in 221B Mycroft’s visits become less frequent and more rushed… sometimes the older Holmes brother can only stay with his lovers for a handful of minutes before he is pulled away. On one occasion he’s only just stepped in the door and is the middle of… “saying hello” to John when Not!Anthea has to inform him that his presence is being “requested” by someone whose name John doesn’t manage to catch.
There are times when the only thing which keeps John going is the thought that it will all be over—that the trial will end, Moriarty will be locked away, Mycroft will make sure he stays there and life will have a chance to return to what Sherlock, John and Mycroft consider normal. When the trial finally begins things seem to take a turn for the better—a very slight turn, more of a shift for the better, but still. Mycroft actually manages to stay overnight and even to leave at a (somewhat) reasonable time the next morning. John sits down in court that morning thinking that things are looking up… only to find himself sitting in stunned silence as the jury delivers their verdict.
Not guilty. No defense, a mountain of evidence, dozens of witnesses and still… not guilty.
Before John even steps into 221B he somehow knows that the World’s Only Consulting Criminal had stopped in to see the World’s Only Consulting Detective after his victory in court. Not!Anthea and Mycroft also seem to know this—when they reach 221B the “personal assistant”, who is currently using “Lisa” as her name, pulls out her gun and motions for John to do the same before she leads the two men up the stairs.
They find Sherlock sitting in John’s chair, his violin lying almost forgotten at his feet. In one hand Sherlock holds a cup of tea which is still steaming—it’s twin sits on the arm of Sherlock’s chair, alongside a red apple. The apple has a pocket knife stuck in it which has three letters carved into it—I O U. Sherlock doesn’t even react when the three all but storm into the flat, instead he just remains in John’s chair, silent and still as Lisa performs a quick sweep of the apartment. While Mycroft closes the curtains John empties the two cups of tea and what remains in the pot and chucks the apple into the bin. This done, he returns to the living room to find Mycroft sitting in the black chair, staring at Sherlock, who still hasn’t moved. Without speaking John steps between the brothers and leans against the mantelpiece as Lisa peeks into the living room before nodding to herself and heading downstairs, no doubt to check in on Mrs. Hudson.
“He got to the jury.” John sighs, running a hand through his hair.
“Of course.” Sherlock replies as Mycroft nods.
“So what is he going to do?” John asks, his gaze shifting back and forth between the two brothers.
“He wants to burn me.” Finally Sherlock moves, leaning back in his chair and tilting his head back so that he’s string up at the ceiling. “But I don’t know if he’s entirely sure how to do that.”
“So why didn’t he take anything from his heists?”
“He didn’t need to.” Sherlock explains. “He was just showing off the key.”
“Key?” John asks, slightly confused.
“Moriarty managed to hack into the security systems of the Tower of London, the Bank of England and Pentonville Prison.” Mycroft explains to the ex-Army Doctor. “Implying that he possesses some sort of computer code which can hack into any security system.”
“Is that possible?” John asks the two brothers.
“It shouldn’t be.” Sherlock frowns. “Perhaps for one system—but not for three different systems, especially such high end systems.”
“However the fact that he succeeded throws that into doubt, especially when it comes to the criminal world and various governmental organizations.” Mycroft sighs. “It doesn’t matter if it should be impossible or if it’s fake. If the right people believe then they will pay any price—they’ll even kill—to possess it.”
“So what, the break-ins were some sort of advertising campaign?” John asks.
“Perhaps.” Mycroft shrugs. “Or it could be that he likes the attention.”
“Not entirely.” Sherlock sighs, shaking his head slightly. “Yes, Moriarty wants the attention… but he also wants me to fail—according to him he ‘owes me a fall’.”
Mycroft has moved forward ever so slightly in his chair and it looks like he’s about to say something… but the second he opens his mouth he is cut off by Lisa entering the room. The young woman looks like she’s about two seconds away from killing someone with her bare hands. Her gun is back in its holster and she’s gripping her cell phone so tightly that John could swear he can hear the plastic cracking underneath her fingers.
“Sir.” She all but growls as she stalks over to Mycroft’s side and thrusts the phone in front of him. Mycroft frowns in confusion before he takes the phone from his personal assistant and reads whatever is message is on the screen. As Mycroft reads his face starts to twist in anger and rage, while his grip on the phone tightens.
“Have you verified this?” Mycroft asks, his gaze snapping to the side so he’s staring at Lisa.
“It’s legitimate.” The young woman replies.
“What’s going on?” John asks, taking a step away from the mantelpiece.
“An American governmental organization has requested my expertise and advice.” Mycroft explains. “We can’t afford to refuse or risk offending them by sending someone else, and the… nature of the organization means that Lisa needs to accompany me to the United States.”
“Moriarty?” John asks as Mycroft passes the phone back to his assistant. Lisa shrugs as she shoves the phone into it’s holster and crosses her arms.
“Perhaps.” Mycroft replies. “In the end it doesn’t really matter—I won’t be able to do much from across the pond.”
“When do you leave?” John asks.
“Tomorrow morning.” Lisa replies as she picks up a piece of scrap paper and sits down at the table before gesturing for John to join her. As John crosses the short distance between mantelpiece and table Lisa picks up a pen and beings to sketch out a map of Baker Street in the center of the paper.
“In the past few days four international criminals have relocated to Baker Street.” Lisa explains as she fills in the map, indicating the locations of the four along with a brief description. “Sulejmani—no second name—started his career on an Albanian hit squad. An expertly-trained killer and he’s now less than twenty feet from your front door. Ludmila Dyachenko, professional Russian assassin occupying the opposite flat. Faustino Lombardi, Italian mobster and hit man—he’s in a basement flat on this corner. Finally there’s Sayuri Ito , originally from Japan. The yakuza threw her out about four years ago for unknown reasons and now she’s living above this shop.”
“Sure you don’t want to go to Holmes Manor for a few weeks?” John asks Sherlock as he examines Lisa’s map.
“There’s also a potential threat—our men spotted her entering the country but lost track of her after she left Heathrow. Her name is Talia Al Ghul. We believe her father was the head of an organization called the ‘League of Shadows’.” Lisa leans back in her chair, running a hand through her hair. “They were a big deal in the criminal underworld until about a year ago, when the just… well vanished. To have Talia reappear now is… troubling.”
“I’ll make arrangements for increased security.” Mycroft informs his lovers. “However if an emergency does arise then I suggest you contact Mummy. There are a still a lot of people who owe her a lot of favors.”
“Good thing she’s already on my speed dial.” John replies.
“Sherlock, can you at least try to lay low?” Mycroft asks his younger brother.
“Is there even any way for us to lay low?” John asks as he folds Lisa’s map up and puts it in his pocket. “Even if we left London, he press would just follow us. We may get more publicity if we leave then if we stay.”
Mycroft and Lisa leave before the sun rises… Sherlock and John watch them go from one of 221B’s windows. Less than two hours later Sherlock has a new case—the kidnapping of two children whose father just happens to be the Ambassador to the United States. At first everything seems to be going well and John contents himself with thinking about how much good publicity will help Sherlock return to something approaching normal and Lestrade even pulls John aside to inform the ex-Army Doctor that he personally doesn’t believe any of the things the newspapers are saying about him and Sherlock. Donovan and Anderson clearly don’t share Lestrade’s belief, but they’re remarkably quiet and even somewhat polite during the investigation of the boarding school where the two kids went missing.
For once Sherlock doesn’t taunt either Anderson or Donovan, even when he finds a clue which the police had missed—the footprints of one of the kidnappers, left behind due to a strange oily substance which had been on their shoes. The oil—and Sherlock’s Homeless Network—leads Sherlock, John and the police to a disuse sweet factory in Addleston, where they find the two children almost dead from sweats poisoned with mercury.
But before John can think about relaxing everything goes horribly wrong. Lestrade lets Sherlock and John in to talk with one of the kidnapped children—so that Sherlock can try to connect the kidnapping to Moriarty or at least his organization. But the second that the little girl sees Sherlock she starts screaming.
“The kid’s traumatized! Something about Sherlock must have reminded her of the kidnapper.” While it’s sort of touching that Lestrade instantly sides with John and Sherlock, John knows that not everyone will be able to write off the little girl’s screams.
“Don’t let it get to you, I always feel like screaming when you walk into a room!” Lestrade jokes. “In fact, so do most people.”
John tries to laugh at Lestrade’s joke… but he knows the laughter must sound hollow and forced. Out of the corner of his eye John can see Sally Donovan turning towards Sherlock and above the din of the police station he can hear her speaking to the Consulting Detective.
“Brilliant work you did, finding those kids from just a footprint. It’s really amazing.” Sally hisses before she stalks away, back to the room where the evidence which lead Sherlock to the kids is spread out on a large table.
John is only mildly surprised when Sherlock insists on finding his own way back to 221B instead of going with John in one of Mycroft’s black cars, which has been reserved for John and Sherlock’s exclusive use while the man behind the British Government is out of the country. So John ends up alone in 221B, sitting on the sofa and trying to figure out what he should do. His phone is sitting in front of him on the coffee table, with Mycroft and Mrs. Holmes’ numbers occupying the second and fourth numbers of his speed dial (Sherlock was the first and Not!Anthea the third.) John is sure that the two already know about the incident at the police station and isn’t sure if a phone call could really accomplish anything… other than making all parties involved even more worried for Sherlock’s safety.
John is so wrapped up in his thoughts that actually doesn’t realize Sherlock has returned until he finds himself pulled to one side and ends up sprawled on top of Sherlock—who is clinging to John like he’s the only person in the world. Apart from the squawk of surprise that slips past John’s lips when he is yanked to the side, neither man speaks… until John feels something suspiciously like a tear landing on his shoulder.
“Sherlock?” He asks, reaching to down to squeeze his lover’s hand. Sherlock doesn’t say anything—instead John feels himself almost falling and through half-closed eyes he can see the hallways and corridors of Sherlock’s memory palace and in the stale air he can hear echoes of someone talking…
This is the story of Sir. Boast-a-lot. Sir Boast-a-lot was the bravest and cleverest knight at the Round Table, but soon the other knights began to grow tired of his stories about how brave he was and how many dragons he’d slain... and soon they began to wonder “Are Sir Boast-a-lot’s stories even true?”
It takes John a second to recognize the voice—but the moment he does, the moment Moriarty crosses his mind, John can smell the chlorine of the pool, feel the weight of the bomb vest and practically see the red dots of the sniper’s rifles. But the words which John hears in Moriarty’s voice aren’t the same as those spoken at the pool…
So one of the knights went to King Arthur and said “I don’t believe Sir Boast-a-lot’s stories. He’s just a big old liar who makes things up to make himself look good.” And then even the King began to wonder. But that wasn’t the end of Sir Boast-a-lot’s problem.
John shivers and the hallways of Sherlock’s memory palace are replaced by the streets of London and the back of an ordinary cab. He sees Jim Moriarty smirking on the television, feels Sherlock’s surprise and growing horror as the Consulting Criminal smirks.
No. That wasn’t the final problem.
John half-pulls and is half-pushed out of Sherlock’s memory palace and into the real world of 221B Baker Street… but not before he sees the taxi driver turn and recognizes the man’s face.
“I’m sorry.” Sherlock whispers as his grip tightens around the ex-Army Doctor. John sighs and—after a second—manages to turn around in Sherlock’s embrace so that he is facing the taller man.
“It’s not your fault Sherlock.” John replies. “Look, let me call your mother, we’ll go to Holmes Mano—”
“No.” Sherlock interrupts John, moving so that the two of them are sitting upright on the couch. He leans over and gently presses a kiss to John’s lips before extracting himself from John’s embrace and moving towards the windows.
“Sherlock… what’s going on?” John asks as he moves to his lover’s side. There’s nothing of interest outside, or at least nothing John can see.
“Four assassins living right on our doorstep… but they didn’t come here to kill me, they came here to keep me alive.” Sherlock explains. “I almost got run over, chasing Moriarty’s cab. The Albanian one— Sulejmani—he pulled me out of traffic, but the moment I shook his hand he was shot. I’ve got something that all of them want, but if one of them approaches me the others kill them before they can get it.”
“So what do you have?” John asks, although is attention is drawn away from Sherlock by a police car pulling up and parking across from 221B. As John watches as Greg Lestrade climbs out and crosses the street.
“The computer keycode—the one Moriarty ‘used’ to hack all those security systems. For some reason they think I have it.” Sherlock replies as the two step out of John’s field of view. “But anyway, it’s too late now.”
“Too late?” John asks, but before Sherlock can say anything Lestrade knocks on the door. Sherlock doesn’t do anything, so John moves over to open the door for the Detective Inspector. The second the door is open Sherlock turns to face Greg Lestrade.
“What?” John and Lestrade ask as the same time, staring at Sherlock in confusion.
“The answer’s no.” Sherlock replies.
“But you haven’t heard the question!” Lestrade objects.
“You want to take me to the station. I’m just saving you the trouble of asking.”
“Sherlock…” Lestrade sighs, running a hand through his hair.
“The scream?” Sherlock asks, moving towards Greg, who nods. “Who was it? Donovan?”
“Yes.” Lestrade replies. “It was Donovan. Now will you come?”
“This is Moriarty’s game Lestrade, and it’s not one I’m willing to play.” Sherlock replies, turning away from the older man. “Give my regards to Sergeant Donovan.”
“I’m sorry.” Lestrade whispers to John before he heads back down the stairs. John allows the door to 221B to swing closed as he slowly turns towards Sherlock.
“What was that all about?”
“Moriarty planted doubt in their heads. You can’t kill an idea… not once it’s made a home here.” Sherlock explains, gesturing to his head. “They’ll be deciding.”
“Deciding?” John asks.
“Whether to come back with a warrant and arrest me… standard procedure.”
“We should have gone with him Sherlock, people will think—”
“I don’t care what ‘people’ think. I don’t care if they think I’m stupid or wrong… or a fake.” Sherlock replies.
“But I do.” John whispers. “Sherlock I don’t want the world believing you’re…”
He trails off, feeling tears in the corners of his eyes.
“That I am what?” Sherlock asks, moving to stand in front of John, his hands settling gently on John’s shoulders.
“You’re worried they’re right.”
“Never.” John hisses, reaching out to cup Sherlock’s face. “I know you’re for real—one hundred percent… no one could fake being such an annoying dick all the time.”
Sherlock laughs and John smiles before he leans up and kisses the World’s Only Consulting Detective.
“Thank you.” Sherlock whispers.
“No problem… now what’s the plan?”
“There isn’t one. They arrest me, you call Mummy. She’ll come up with the plan.” Sherlock replies.
Sherlock can’t stop the stupid smile which appears on his face when John is slammed up against the car to his left and his right wrist handcuffed to Sherlock’s. Out of the corner of his eye Sherlock can see the Chief Superintendant holding a handkerchief to his bleeding nose and John looks too proud of himself to not be the one who punched the man.
“Joining me?” Sherlock asks, the smile sticking on his face even though John’s arrest had not been a part of the plan. Sure, it hadn’t been the best plan, but Sherlock had liked that plan. It meant that John would be whisked away either by Mycroft or Mummy’s men and that John would be safe. Now John is going to be arrested and Sherlock isn’t willing to risk John being alone and incarcerated.
“Yeah, apparently it’s against the law to chin the Chief Superintendant.” John replies, glancing down at their now joined wrists.
“Bit awkward this.” Sherlock notes.
“This can’t be the first time your mom’s bailed you out.”
“It isn’t, but I was thinking more about our imminent and daring escape.”
“What?” John blinks in confusion, but before he can do anything Sherlock reaches through the window of the car they are leaning against and presses the talk button on the radio—which emits a high-pierced squeal of feedback which causes the two officers guarding John and Sherlock to double over in pain and grab at their earpieces. Sherlock seizes the moment and grabs one of the officer’s pistols, which he immediately aims at the nearest group of officers… the movement pulls Sherlock and John away from the police car.
“Ladies and gentlemen, will you all please get on your knees?” Sherlock asks, his voice perfectly calm and collected as he raises the gun skyward and fires it twice... before pressing he aims the gun at John’s head. “Now, would be good.”
“This is a terrible plan.” John hisses under his breath, low enough that only Sherlock can hear him. The police are stepping away, clearly believing that they’ve entered into a hostage situation, that Sherlock has turned on his “confirmed bachelor” flat mate and is willing to shoot the ex-Army Doctor in order to escape from the police.
It gives them an opening… one which Sherlock uses to put some distance between the two of them and the police. Soon they’re around a corner and, in the blink of an eye, running away—still handcuffed together and with no plan or destination… Well they don’t have a destination until John sees a copy of The Sun advertising Kitty Riley’s upcoming expose and asks Sherlock if he’s ever heard of someone called “Rich Brook” who is apparently the source for Riley’s article.
Richard Brook. An out of work actor that Sherlock Holmes hired to be Moriarty. An invented nemesis, committing invented crimes which a fake genius would solve. A man paid to take the rap because Sherlock had promised to rig the jury.
A story no one in their right mind should have believed, much less completely embraced and actually published. But Kitty Riley had eaten up the story, had published part of it and was about to publish the rest. She’d believed and allowed Moriarty to spread his lies, to make those lies believable… Moriarty’s just an actor and Sherlock’s just a wanna-be detective.
D’you know what Sherlock Holmes? I look at you now and I can read you. And you repel me.
In a way it’s all so simple… one big lie, created by a genius and wrapped up in the truth of another genius man’s life so tightly that the lie is more palatable then the truth which surrounds it. So in the end it will all boil down to Sherlock Holmes’ word against Jim Moriarty’s… with time on Jim’s side, doubt well planted in almost everyone’s mind, leaving Sherlock with precious few people he could count on for support. Mycroft and Not!Anthea were on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Mrs. Holmes was still at the Manor and Greg Lestrade was surrounded by people that they couldn’t trust… however that did leave John and Sherlock with one person they could trust who just happens to be located in the same place would also be able to help them get out of the police handcuffs.
Author’s Note: Not!Anthea’s name, Lisa, is a reference to her actress, Lisa McAllister. The assassin’s names (at least the ones not given in the episode) are randomly pulled form google searches.
Chapter 16: We All Fall Down
When Sherlock Holmes and John Watson reach Bart’s the hospital is dark and empty… they don’t even encounter a cleaning lady on their way down to the lower levels where Molly Hooper spends the majority of her time. It comes as no surprise that those lower levels are silent and dark—save for the hallway immediately outside of Molly’s office.
Inside her office Molly Hooper is sitting at her desk, a cup of tea in her hands and the slightest bit of a frown on her face. When the door opens she all but slams her cup down on the desk in front of her, before she gestures for John and Sherlock to come inside. Despite this Molly doesn’t seem all that surprised to see the Consulting Detective and his ex-Army Doctor. After John closes the door behind him Molly reaches into a pocket of her lab coat and pulls out what John instantly recognizes as a police handcuff key.
“Lestrade?” John asks as Sherlock wordlessly takes the key from Molly’s hand.
“Via what I assume is Sherlock’s ‘Homeless Network’.” Molly replies as Sherlock unlocks the handcuffs and slips them into his pocket, along with the key. As soon as the handcuffs are safely stowed away Sherlock takes hold of John’s wrist and runs a gentle hand over the faint bruise which the handcuffs had left behind. “You know I don’t believe the news… right?”
“You’ve met Mycroft—of course you don’t believe the news.” Sherlock replies with an elegant shrug as he sits down on the sofa which takes up almost an entire wall of Molly’s office. Right before John can sit down Molly reaches underneath her desk and pulls out a large blanket, which she gives to John.
“You can stay here tonight.” Molly offers as John takes the blanket from her. “It’s not the comfiest place—but I’m the only one with a key to the door.”
“Thank you Molly.” John smiles as the young woman heads towards the door and John goes to join Sherlock on the couch. John can hear the door to the office locking behind him as he sits down and the lights out in the hallway go out. The only light in the office comes from a small swivel arm desk lamp, which is flickering slightly. Sherlock is press up against one arm of the couch, still wearing his coat and looking at something on his cell phone.
“Mycroft?” John asks as he unfolds the blanket.
“He’s aware of the situation.” Sherlock replies as he composes a response to whatever text message their absent lover had sent. “His assistant left earlier today—before our arrests. ‘Lisa’ should arrive sometimes tomorrow afternoon. My wants us to lie low until she arrives or Mummy arranges something.”
“Then that’s what we’re going to do.” John sighs. “I mean, what else can we go?”
“The computer code—the one Moriarty used to hack all those security systems.” Sherlock replies, gesturing for John to lie down. “If I can find it then we can beat Moriarty as his own game.”
“How does the code help…” John trails off as he lies down, ending up with his head in Sherlock’s lap. “Richard Brook?”
“Exactly. If we can break into the records—destroy everything Moriarty planted there—then we can kill Richard Brook and bring James Moriarty back.”
“So where is the code?” John asks as one of Sherlock’s hands starts to run through his hair.
“Somewhere in 221B. Moriarty must have hidden it on the day of the verdict.” Sherlock sighs.
“So what did he touch?”
“An apple, a cup of tea, my chair.” Sherlock replies, actually counting on his fingers. “Nothing else.”
“He didn’t write anything down?”
“He carved the apple... I O U.”
The two sit in silence for a second as John’s eyes begin to grow heavy. He’s just run across what feels like half of London, handcuffed and terrified that someone was going to shoot him and Sherlock. “I’ll figure it out John, don’t worry.”
“What, me worry?” John smiles up at Sherlock. “Look, if you’re not going to sleep then call your mom okay?”
“Of course.” Sherlock replies, his head moving back to run through John’s hair as the ex-Army Doctor lets himself fall asleep.
For a long time Sherlock simply looks down at his flat mate, his mind working furiously as the shorter man sleeps in his arms. After what feels like hours spent just sitting in the flickering light looking down at one of the two men he loves Sherlock’s eyes finally close and he remembers sitting in John’s chair, staring at Moriarty as the Consulting Criminal.
Every person has their pressure point—someone they want to protect from harm.
Sherlock’s eyes snap open. He takes a shuddering breath as a single tear trickles down Sherlock’s face and lands on John’s cheek. The ex-Army Doctor twitches slightly, but does not wake up—even when Sherlock shifts and raises a hand to his face to keep any further tears from disturbing his sleeping lover.
“There’s only one thing left John.” Sherlock whispers, his voice strained. “One final problem.”
With a final shuddering sigh Sherlock reaches over to the arm of the couch, where he’d put down his cell phone after sending off a reply to Mycroft’s text. With shaking fingers Sherlock slowly, hesitantly dials and waits for the person on the other end to pick up the call… it seems to take forever even though the phone only rings once before it is picked up.
“I need your help…” Sherlock takes a deep breath and checks that John is still asleep and unaware of what is going on before he continues. “I have to die.”
“When?” Violet Holmes does not hesitate and she does not ask for an explanation—even though it’s the middle of the night and her youngest son has just informed her that he needs to die. “How?”
“Tomorrow. Publically.” Sherlock replies. “It has to convince Moriarty’s associates—but also Mycroft and John.”
“They’re in danger.”
“Yes.” Sherlock replies, shivering slightly as he looks down at John and pictures Mycroft sitting in some government building in Washington D.C. “Can you do it?”
“Of course I can Sherlock.”
“What do I do Mummy?”
“Just stay where you are.” Mrs. Holmes replies as she starts making a list of the various call which she will need to make and favors which will have to be called in… for such a complex operation the list is remarkably short. “I’ll call you when everything is arranged.”
Mother and son don’t exchanged farewells—they simply hang up. Mrs. Holmes—who is currently in the back of an expensive black car which has been heading towards London since the second she heard of Sherlock’s arrest—starts making phone calls to her old friends and business acquaintances while Sherlock slips his phone into a pocket of his trench coat and curls himself around John as best he can, allowing himself to cry into the sleeping man’s shoulder.
“It’s the middle of the night and—to my knowledge—England isn’t being attacked… so I’m going to assume this is about your sons?”
“I knew there was a reason I chose you as my replacement.”
“We sent 005 to cover security for Mycroft after his assistant’s departure—”
“Sherlock needs to fake his death.”
“I’ll organize a team. They’ll be placed at your command.”
“Thank you M.”
“Mrs. Hooper, I’m going to need your assistance.”
“Who—who is this?”
“What do you need?”
“Oh it’s quite simply really. All you have to do is sign a few papers. My son will explain as much as he can tomorrow.”
John wakes up to the sound of his phone ringing and almost falls off the couch in Molly’s office. Sherlock is nowhere to be seen, but as John digs his phone out of the pocket of his jacket he catches sight of a note sitting on Molly’s desk.
In the lab where we met. –SH
Finally John manages to locate his phone. A glance at the caller ID informs him that Mrs. Holmes is on the other end of the line, not the police.
“Hello Mrs. Holmes.”
“John? Are you and Sherlock okay?”
“He didn’t call you?” John frowns.
“No, ‘Lock didn’t call me—or perhaps he didn’t get through. I’ve been busy calling in favors and making arrangements.”
“We’re fine—holed up in Molly’s office at Bart’s.” John explains. “You said you’re making arrangements?”
“I’ve managed to… persuade the police to drop the charges against you. As far as they’re concerned you’re a free man and not involved in Sherlock’s ‘crimes’.”
“Thank you.” John sighs in relief and can almost picture Mrs. Holmes smirking at the sound.
“Don’t thank me yet. I’m still working on Sherlock… but for now you should be safe to move around—as long as ‘Lock isn’t with you.”
“Then I’ll let you get back to that.” John says as he stands up from the couch and stretches.
“Thank you John. I hope you and Sherlock will come to Holmes Manor when this is all over.”
“Of course we will. Goodbye Mrs. Holmes.”
Come and play.
Bart’s Hospital rooftop.
Sherlock is sitting on the floor of the lab where he’d first met John Watson. He has his back against a bench and is bouncing a small rubber ball off the floor and the cupboard in front of him. He hears John enter the lab and say something to Molly, but does not really listen to the brief exchange of pleasantries or stop bouncing the rubber ball… or at least he doesn’t stop until John leans down and snatches the ball out of his hand.
“Everything okay Sherlock?” John asks as he sits down next to Sherlock.
“Fine. Just dull.” Sherlock replies as John contemplates the rubber ball, bouncing it a few times.
“Your mother’s got the police off my back.” John informs his lover before he chucks the ball at the cupboard in front of him.
“Good.” Sherlock replies, easily catching the ball and tossing it back to John. “You should go back to 221B.”
“Not without you.” John replies without hesitation. “Got any coins?”
“There’s a vending machine down the hall and I’m hungry.” John explains with a smile. Sherlock rolls his eyes and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a handful of change which he offers to John. “You want anything?”
“No.” Sherlock sighs as John stands up, leaving him alone with the rubber ball and his thoughts.
P.S. Got something of your’s you might want back.
John has been back from his trip to the vending machine for less than a minute when his phone rings. Now that he knows the police aren’t after him John does not hesitate to answer, even though his phone’s caller ID does not recognize the number.
“Dr. Watson?” The voice belongs to a woman, probably young and not at all familiar to John.
“Dr. John Watson, of 221B Baker Street?”
“Er… yes, why?” John frowns, glancing over at Sherlock, who is still bouncing his rubber ball.
“Sir, I’m with the paramedics.”
“What?” A shiver races down John’s spine. “What happened?”
“Mrs. Hudson, she lives in 221A?” The paramedic pauses for a second. “I’m sorry—but she’s been shot.”
“Is she okay?”
“She’s stable sir, but she refuses to be moved to a hospital before seeing you. We’re still at 221A—”
“Oh my god… I’m on my way, tell her that—okay?” John hangs up and moves over to Sherlock. “Mrs. Hudson’s been shot Sherlock—”
“What?” Sherlock’s eyes are wide as he struggles to stand up, only to be stopped by John’s hand on his shoulder.
“You have to stay here.” John replies. “You’re a wanted man, remember?”
“But Mrs. Hudson…”
“I’ll take care of her Sherlock, you work on getting Moriarty’s code, okay?” John asks. Sherlock nods and leans up to press a soft kiss to John’s lips, before allowing the ex-Army Doctor to leave.
Once John is gone Sherlock digs into the pocket of his trench coat for his phone, intending to send a text message to his mother… only to have a message arrive before he can start typing.
Part of the plan.
“Oh, god John! You made me jump!”
“Is everything okay now with the police? Has… has Sherlock sorted it all out?”
“Oh my god.”
Here we are at last—you and me, Sherlock, and our problem—the final problem.
It’s like a dance… or perhaps more like a play. Sherlock Holmes, the World’s Only Consulting Detective and James Moriarty, the World’s Only Consulting Criminal, standing on top of Bart’s Hospital, wrapped up in what will be—for one of them at least, the final problem.
Sherlock’s known there was no code since about five seconds after Moriarty suggested that there was one. After all a couple of lines of computer code weren’t going to crash the world, let alone hack into any security system known to man. Besides, once Sherlock had thought of the rhythm Moriarty had tapped out his first thought hadn’t been “binary” or “code”, it had been Partita Number One by Johann Sebastian Bach and he’d remembered playing the song for Mycroft and Mummy when he was fourteen years old.
Once that red herring had been thrown back into the sea it had been easy to figure out how Moriarty had committed his crimes… all it takes is some willing participants. Bribe or threaten the right men, pick the right time and you can get into any building, pass and lock… after all, every person has their pressure point—someone they want to protect from harm. Everyone except for Moriarty… but then again, perhaps some men just want to watch the world burn.
It doesn’t make a difference… Moriarty is still standing there, a smirk on his face as he informs Sherlock that—if he doesn’t jump—then everyone he cares for is in trouble. Your friends will die if you don’t. Not just John… everyone. Five bullets, five gunmen, five victims.
Without even having to think Sherlock can list them off—without having to think he knows who Moriarty’s men will go after… Mrs. Hudson, Molly Hooper, Greg Lestrade, John Watson and Mycroft Holmes.
There’s no stopping them now… unless my people see you jump. You can have me arrested, you can torture me, you can do anything you like with me—but nothing’s gonna prevent them from pulling the trigger . Your only friends will die…
Even though this has been the plan, even though there have been preparations made for this moment, Sherlock can’t help but push back against Morarity, he can’t stop himself from pointing out the flaw in the Consulting Criminal’s plan… there has to be a recall code, a word or number or something which would enable Moriarty to maintain control over his assassins.
Baggage from Flight 1895 from Washington D.C. now arriving at carousal B. Once again—baggage from Flight 1895 from Washington D.C. is now arriving at carousal B.
According to the ID card in her pocket and her plane tickets, her name is Louisa Hawkins and she is returning home from a vacation in the United States. She’s got a gun in her red purse which has gone “unnoticed” by security thanks to Mycroft’s contacts and a few favors the two of them had called in. Also present in the surprisingly roomy purse is a small can of mace and a very sharp knife. The woman that John insists on referring to as “Not!Anthea” hums softly to herself as she watches carousal B for her suitcase… however she stops humming the second a man with short blond hair wearing an exquisitely tailored suit which almost hides the man’s Walther PPK from Louisa’s trained eyes. With a smile on her face she turns to face her… well “old friend” wouldn’t be entirely accurate.
“Now aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.” Louisa says as the man steps forward and presses a kiss to her cheek. “How long has it been—four years?”
“At least. It’s Louisa now, isn’t it?”
“For the moment... and you?”
“Still the same.”
“Who sent you James? Mummy or M?”
“Both. Although I believe ‘Mummy’ is the one calling the shots.”
“Isn’t she always?” Louisa sighs, turning away from James just long enough to snatch her bag off the carousal. “What do you need me to do?”
“Lie to Mycroft Holmes and John Watson.” James replies as he takes the bag from her and leads her out of the airport.
“That’s all?” Louisa asks as James opens the passenger door of a silver Aston Martin DB5 for her.
“That… should be the hardest part.”
I don’t have to die… if I’ve got you. I’m prepared to do anything, prepared to burn, prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you. I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.
To save John, to save Mycroft, to save all of them, to save any of them—well there is precious little Sherlock won’t do. But he doesn’t get that chance… because as soon as Jim Moriarty sees the corner that Sherlock has trapped him in—as long as I’m alive, you can save your friends, you’ve got a way out… well good luck with that.
James Moriarty wraps his arm around Sherlock, pulls a pistol out from his waistband, puts it in his mouth and pulls the trigger before Sherlock can do anything but cry out in alarm. He pulls himself away from the Consulting Criminal as the man’s body falls to the ground, a smile of victory on his face.
Moriarty killed himself.
That just makes things easier. Everything’s ready on our end. It’s all up to you now ‘Lock. Good luck.
The majority of Mycroft’s day has been spent in closed door meetings with some General who wants Mycroft’s assistance in “dealing with” a certain group of powerful men and women. Unfortunately for the General, the man behind the British Government has already given his support to that group and the meeting hadn’t changed his mind. In fact he’d already sent off some top secret intelligence which the General had shared with him to an old friend who would ensure the information got to the group in question.
When Mycroft had finally returned to the apartment he’d been living in while in Washington D.C. he’d been informed by the agent sent to replace his usual assistant—he believe the young woman is the current 005—that the woman John insists on calling ‘Not!Anthea’ had landed at Heathrow and was on her way towards John and Sherlock.
Just as Mycroft sits down to enjoy a somewhat early diner his phone decides to starting ringing—specifically to alert him to the presence of a new text message from his younger brother.
Take care of him and yourself. I love you.
Confused, Mycroft dials his brother’s number… only to be passed on to voicemail. He tries John’s number next… but once again he winds up going to voicemail. A call to his personal assistant is answered, but she simply informs Mycroft that she’s on her way to meet Sherlock and John at Bart’s.
Feeling strangely concerned Mycroft pulls out his computer and accesses the CCTV network and his own cameras, first checking the live feed from 221B. Mrs. Hudson is offering a handyman a cup of tea. Mycroft briefly peers in on Greg Lestrade before moving on to Molly Hooper’s lab at Bart’s. The young woman is fiddling with something under a microscope, but Sherlock and John are nowhere to be seen. Before Mycroft can contemplate where to look next once of his employees sends him a three word message—Bart’s Hospital rooftop.
Somehow Sherlock Holmes manages to steady his breathing, even though he’s still gagging, still wanting to throw up and somehow can’t look away from Jim Moriarty’s body, from the puddle of blood pooling around the Consulting Criminal’s head. After a second he manages to pull himself away from his dead foe and head towards the edge of the roof. On the street below he can see a taxi pulling up—without needing to check the license plate he knows it’s the one which is carrying John. With shaking hands Sherlock pulls out his phone and selects the first number on speed dial. He closes his eyes and it’s as if he can hear the phone ringing in John’s pocket, his heart stops for a second when his lover answers the phone.
“John.” Sherlock’s eyes snap open, instantly focusing on John.
“Hey, Sherlock—you okay?” John asks, pausing for a second to look at the plain dull ordinary people walking down the street in front of Bart’s. Sherlock wonders if John suspects that a great deal of them are either members of his Homeless Network or have been called in by Mrs. Holmes.
John’s not in the right place. He’s too close, the angles are all wrong.
“Turn around and walk back the way you came now.”
“No, I’m coming in.” John replies.
“Just do as I ask, please.” Sherlock half hisses, half whispers into his phone. On the street below him John freezes, but then he turns and starts hesitantly walking back towards the place where the taxi had dropped him off.
“Where?” John asks.
“Stop there…” Sherlock takes a deep breath as his lover obeys. “Okay look up. I’m on the rooftop.”
Slowly John turns and looks up. Even from this distance and height Sherlock can make out the horror on John’s face… he can practically see the weakness in John’s leg—there for a second and then gone as the soldier takes over for the doctor.
“Oh god.” John whispers.
“I… I can’t come down, so we’ll—we’ll just have to do it like this.”
“What’s going on Sherlock?” John asks, not moving from the spot which Sherlock had directed him to.
“An apology. It’s all true John, everything they said about me. I… I invented Moriarty.” It’s so hard to lie to John, even though he has to, even though it’s one of the most important things Sherlock Holmes has ever done.
“Why are you saying this?” John’s voice is hard as steel, his hand which isn’t holding his phone is gripping his leg through his jeans.
“I’m a fake.”
“Sherlock—” John’s voice cracks just before Sherlock cuts him off.
“The newspapers were right all along. I want you to tell Lestrade, I want you to tell Mrs. Hudson and Molly. In fact, tell anyone who will listen to you that I created Moriarty for my own purposes.” Sherlock begs, briefly glancing back at the body of the Consulting Criminal.
“Shut up.You shut up right now Sherlock. I don’t believe this—I refuse to believe this.” John is practically glaring up at his lover. “The first time we met—you knew all about my sister, you knew all about me. I’ve seen you do the impossible Sherlock.”
“Exactly. Nobody could be that clever.” This time Sherlock is the one whose voice breaks as he looks down at the ex-Army Doctor, as he remembers the day when he’d met the man who liked to pretend he was ordinary.
“You could. You are.” John replies and Sherlock can tell that tears are running down John’s face… just like the tears running down his own.
“I researched you. Before we met I discovered everything that I could to impress you. It’s a trick.” Sherlock laughs as a tear falls from his chin to land on his scarf. “Just a magic trick.”
“No. Stop it Sherlock, you stop it right now.” John is shaking his head, as if that somehow can stop the lies that are spilling out of Sherlock’s mouth. After a second’s hesitation he starts walking towards the hospital entrance.
“No! Stay exactly where you are John—don’t move.” Sherlock begs, holding out one hand, as if he could somehow reach out and hold John in place. “Keep your eyes fixed on me. Please John, will you do this for me?”
“Do what?” John asks, his free hand slowly reaching up towards Sherlock, as if somehow he can cross the distance between them and take the Consulting Detective’s hand.
“This phone call it’s… it’s my note.” Sherlock explains. “It’s what people do, don’t they—leave a note?”
“Leave a note?” John shakes his head, moving the phone away from his ear momentarily as understanding hits him. Sherlock patiently waits until John raises the phone of this ear once more and repeats his question in a shaky voice. “Leave a note?”
“I love you.” Sherlock whispers into the phone before he slowly lowers his arm and drops the phone onto the roof.
“No…“ John’s arm mirrors Sherlock’s, although he does not drop his phone. On the roof above the Consulting Detective spreads his arms out to each side… and he falls forward. “No! SHERLOCK!”
John is frozen in place as he watches his lover fall. Although Sherlock’s falling body vanish behind a building, John can almost feel the moment when his lover hits the pavement. Then he can move and he’s running, running to the spot where Sherlock fell, running to his lover’s body. He’s not even really paying attention to the world around him—just after he catches sight of Sherlock’s body and what can only be the red of blood on the pavement a young man on a bicycle slams into John, sending him crashing to the ground.
Still John Watson struggles onward. A crowd of medics have come out from the hospital—they’re trying to prevent the onlookers from getting too close. For a second John hopes—hopes that somehow Sherlock has pulled off a miracle and managed to survive the fall. He can see blood on Sherlock’s head, but he pushes forward, muttering Sherlock’s name
“I’m a doctor—let me come through! Let me come through, please!”
The crowd doesn’t part—there are already doctors kneeling next to the man… why would one more be needed? Especially when the man is clearly either dead or quite close to dying…
“He’s my boyfriend! Please, he’s my boyfriend!”
John manages to get forward and he kneels next to the Consulting Detective, sobs shaking his body as, almost unconsciously, he reaches out and grabs Sherlock’s wrist—checking for a pulse that he does not find. John cries out and a woman gently pulls him away from the scene, whispering something about how John “Doesn’t need to see that…” John reaches forward, suddenly weak as a babe, but his knees give out as two more medics arrive, pushing a wheeled stretcher. As John watches two onlookers gently roll Sherlock on to his back, revealing his blood stained face and his eyes—which are wide open.
“No.” John groans. “Oh god, no.”
John eyes close as he sobs, his entire body shaking with the force of his grief, the image of Sherlock’s bloodstained face stuck in his mind. He feels someone guiding him, but doesn’t care where they’re going… he only snaps back to himself when a gentle hand comes to rest on his left shoulder—right over the scar which got him out of Afghanistan.
Slowly John opens his eyes and glance to the side. He’s sitting on a bench in a hallway at Bart’s… and Mycroft’s personal assistant is standing at his side. He looks up at the young woman and is reasonably sure that she’s shed a tear or two recently. After hesitating for a moment John manages to speak.
“They wouldn’t let me see—”
“You shouldn’t.” Not!Anthea says, cutting John off.
“I have and you shouldn’t.” She squeezes his shoulder slightly. “Mycroft is on his way back. Mrs. Holmes will be here shortly—she’s asked me to… to make arrangements.”
“Thank you.” John reaches up and places his hand on top of her’s. After a second Mycroft’s personal assistant sits down next to John, but she does not remove her hand and she does not pull out her cell phone.
“Donavon was right.” John whispers.
“What do you mean?” Not!Anthea asks in a soft voice.
“When I first met Sherlock—during the ‘Study in Pink’. Sally Donavon told me that one day we’d be standing around a body and Sherlock Holmes would be the one who put it there. I guess she was right.”
Not!Anthea's name is a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle. Louisa Hawkins was Arthur Conan Doyle's 1st wife, they maried in 1885, she died of tuberculosis on July 4th 1906.
Yes that was James Bond meeting Not!Anthea at the airport. Yes Mrs. Holmes was calling M from the James Bond films. Yeah I don’t know all that much about James Bond. But yes, Mrs. Holmes used to be M.
Chapter 17: Funeral For A Lover, Funeral For A Friend
Mycroft Holmes does not remember his plane flight from Washington D.C to London. He has no memory of getting on the plane and he has not memory of getting off. He doesn’t even remember who drove him to the airport in the United States or who had picked him up in London.
It was as if one moment Mycroft was staring at the CCTV footage of his younger brother stepping off the edge of Bart’s and the next he was at Holmes Manor, being pulled inot his mother’s arms and crying like a child. The only “memory” that Mycroft has of the journey between the United States and the United Kingdom is of himself staring at his cell phone, reading Sherlock’s final message over and over again.
Take care of him and yourself. I love you.
Everything else is forgotten, washed away by grief and concern for John. When Mycroft reaches Holmes Manor he finds John in the room that the two of them had once shared with Sherlock in the aftermath of the events at Baskerville. The ex-Army Doctor is sitting on the bed, one hand clutching at his leg as he shivers. When Mycroft sits down next to his lover John reaches out and clings to the surviving Holmes brother.
For a long time the two sit together in silence, with only the occasional whimper of pain and grief slipping past John’s lips and Mycroft’s occasional attempts at comforting words. The sun is setting outside the bedroom’s windows when John starts to speak. In a broken voice he relates the events of the past few days to his lover… by the time John’s story ends he’s exhausted but fighting sleep—it doesn’t take a genius to know that John is afraid that if he closes his eyes he’ll be forced to relieve Sherlock’s suicide.
Mycroft Holmes doesn’t remember anything from the moment he realized Sherlock was dead to the moment he arrived at Holmes Manor. On the other hand John Watson remembers every painful second. He remembers sitting in silence with Not!Anthea at Bart’s. He remembers the arrival of Mrs. Holmes and every inch of the road between London and Holmes Manor. He remembers arriving at the mansion and racing to find a bathroom to throw up, because Not!Anthea’s claim that he shouldn’t see Sherlock’s body had finally sunk in.
John remembers sitting on a couch downstairs when he’d been all but placed by Mrs. Holmes and he remember overhearing Not!Anthea and the Holmes Matriarch discussing funeral arrangements, which had driven him upstairs to the bedroom that he had once shared with Mycroft and Sherlock. He remembers how the moment he’d sat down on the bed, his leg has started to throb from a wound he’d never received and how it hurt… and he remembers hearing footsteps and knowing that it was Mycroft before the surviving Holmes brother appeared in the open doorway.
But most importantly John Watson remembers Sherlock’s final request—tell anyone who will listen to you that I created Moriarty—and he remembers his lover’s final lie—it’s a trick… just a magic trick. As much as he tries to focus on Sherlock’s last words—I love you—John can’t help but wonder why exactly Sherlock had told him to stay exactly where you are… don’t move.
Before he’s even finished telling Mycroft what had happened a tiny little seed of doubt has been planted in John’s mind… the ex-Army Doctor had never believed Sherlock’s lies, he’d never believed that the Consulting Detective had created the Consulting Criminal. But now he’s starting to question what he’d seen with his own eyes. He’s starting to wonder if it was possible that Sherlock had survived…
For three days John struggles with this growing belief in silence. He does his best to eat when Mrs. Holmes brings him and Mycroft food and does his best to at least attempt to participate in planning Sherlock’s funeral… but the doubts refuse to die, they refuse to be swept away or even diminished by any argument that John can think of.
However John doesn’t come to a decision until shortly before Sherlock’s funeral, when he and Mycroft are alone in their bedroom, making their final preparations for the ceremony. The two look like they’re attending completely different events—Mycroft is elegantly dressed, in a simple black suit and tie, while John is wearing normal clothing, the only concession to the occasion being a plain white collared shirt instead of his usual colored plaid. Instead of dress pants and a plain coat John is wearing blue jeans and his black jacket which is more patches then jacket. Around his neck is a dark blue scarf—one which is almost identical to the one which Sherlock always wore. John’s scarf is handmade—originally knit by Mrs. Holmes for Sherlock, but given to John when he arrived at Holmes Manor after the Consulting Detective jumped.
“Mycroft?” John watches as the taller man slowly turns to look at him. “I… I don’t think Sherlock’s dead.”
“John—” Mycroft hesitates for a second. “You saw him jump.”
“I didn’t have a clear view.” John replies as Mycroft walks over to the bed and sits down next to him.
“There were other witnesses, CCTV footage… John there’s a body.”
“Which neither one of us saw.”
“Louisa did.” Mycroft reaches out and places a gentle hand on his lover’s shoulder. “I trust her with my life John—I trust her with your life. If she says that it was Sherlock then it was Sherlock and if she says that we shouldn’t see his body then we shouldn’t see his body.”
“She could have lied. She would lie if it meant protecting you.”
“John…” Mycroft sighs and his hand tightens on John’s shoulder. “There’s something I need to show you.”
John blinks and, before he can ask what it is that Mycroft needs to show him, John finds that he’s falling—falling inward, sinking into darkness and silence. After a second John opens his eyes and finds that he’s standing in Mycroft’s memory palace, specifically in Sherlock’s room.
The cathedral like space is dark and many of the objects “on display” have been covered in black cloth. Only two of the stained glass windows are illuminated—but the light which allows the images in the colored glass to be see does not pass through the windows and illuminated the room. One of the two illuminated windows is the large east window… but it’s different from the last time John had seen it.
The window should have Sherlock in the center, with Mycroft on his brother’s left and John on the right… the first thing John notices is that he and Mycroft are—well at first he thinks they’ve vanished from the window, but the two are there, but they are almost impossible to see. The John and Mycroft depicted in the east rose window are practically see through—more outlines or suggestions of occupied space then anything else. On the other hand the Latin inscription—Ibi Victoria, Ubi Concordia—is flickering like a dying light bulb, so that at times only the words Ubi Concordia can be seen. Without John and Mycroft standing in front of him, the Sherlock in the stained glass window looks like he’s falling—falling with arms outstretched and a smile which seems both peaceful and mournful on his face.
The other illuminated window is not one of the large rose windows, but one of the smaller windows which John knows depict aspects of Sherlock’s personality as well as a sort of timeline of important events in his life—on previous visits to Mycroft’s memory palace John had spent a good deal of time examining each and every window, so the second he sees this illuminated window he knows that it must be new. Despite having never seen the window before, John recognizes the image—it’s The Falls of the Reichenbach, the painting which Sherlock had helped recover. In Mycroft’s palace the stained glass manages to look like’s it’s moving—like the water is actually flowing, even though it’s a solid image made of colored glass.
John turns away from the stained glass windows and turns to face Mycroft—the only light in Sherlock’s room comes from a candle which is floating just above Mycroft’s hand, as if the man is levitating the candle using telekinesis. The candle floats ever so slightly higher when Mycroft’s hand raises as he breathes in and then floats back down, following Mycroft’s hand, as he exhales. Without speaking Mycroft reaches out and takes John’s hand. He squeezes once before leading the ex-Army Doctor over to the patch of the room’s floor where the passage to Sherlock’s memory palace is—but instead of the tunnel leading to the Consulting Detective’s palace, there is… well what looks awfully like someone’s managed to tear reality.
It looks like someone drew the scene on a piece of paper and then ripped out the section which had the passage to Sherlock’s memory palace. In the space where the passage should be there’s… well nothing, just a space which manages to be pure white and pure black and which hurts to look at—like being shot and what John imagines being electrocuted feels like. John reaches out towards the emptiness, but stops before his hands can touch the space where the passage should be—it hurts too much. It makes John want to start screaming—it makes him want to sob and curse and punch something as hard as he can. Instead John pulls himself out of Mycroft’s memory palace, only to find his face damp with tears that he doesn’t remember shedding and Mycroft’s arms wrapped around him.
“I’m sorry.” Mycroft whispers as John returns the embrace. “I’m so sorry John.”
Before John can say anything someone knocks on the door and Mycroft’s personal assistant steps inside, holding two umbrellas. Mycroft presses a kiss to John’s lips before he turns towards Louisa, giving her his full attention while still holding John’s hand tightly.
“It’s time.” Louisa informs them, offering one of the umbrellas to her employer—it’s the same black umbrella which Mycroft had been using as a prop the first time he’d met John.
It’s not properly raining—there’s no downpour or deluge and there is no howling wind. Instead it’s just drizzling from a leaden sky with only the slightest hint of a breeze, not even enough to make holding on to an umbrella even slightly difficult. John and Mycroft share an umbrella as they head towards the Holmes Family Plot, following closely behind Mycroft’s personal assistant, who leads the small group of mourners. Behind Mycroft and John Mrs. Hudson walks alone, holding her umbrella so it leans against her shoulder as she walks while her free hand holds her long black coat closed over her dark purple dress. There’s a handkerchief peaking out of the coat’s right pocket
Behind the land lady Greg Lestrade holds a large black umbrella over himself and Molly Hooper. The Detective Inspector is wearing his best suit and a tan trench coat, but despite this he manages to look like he’s going to a crime scene, not a funeral. Molly walks close behind the DI, but they do not speak or touch. Molly has her arms wrapped around her waist and is shivering despite the grey wool sweater that she’s pulled on over her simple black dress. The young woman keeps nervously glancing between Mycroft, John and the ground.
Mrs. Holmes is waiting for the six in the small cemetery next to Sherlock’s gravestone. The stone, which sits a short distance away from the other graves and is underneath a blooming cherry tree, is plain black marble, with Sherlock’s name in gold letters. There is no hole and no coffin waiting to be buried—a few days ago John had see the “remains” of his best friend and lover… a small box being held tightly by Mrs. Holmes as she talked to a funeral director. The small patch of disturbed earth, which lies directly in front of the gravestone, is still fresh and puddles are starting to form on the disturbed earth.
Violet Elizabeth Holmes stands to the right of her youngest son’s gravestone, holding her umbrella in one hand. Her black trench coat isn’t buttoned and as the six mourners arrive the wind shifts, pushing back the coat for a second, revealing a white dress shirt and plain black dress pants. John and Mycroft make their way around the grave to stand next to Mrs. Holmes, with Louis following closely behind the two. Mrs. Holmes stops just to the left of Sherlock’s tombstone, making her almost a mirror image of the Holmes Matriarch. Molly and Lestrade find their own place on the left of Sherlock’s grave, a short distance from Mrs. Hudson.
John stares down at the grave his mind drifting back to Christmas, to Sherlock standing in the doorway of 221B, panting because he’d run from the nearest tube station, a light dusting of snow on his shoulders and in his curly hair.
John I—I think I love you.
John remembers watching the snow melt and Sherlock’s hair dampen as the World’s Only Consulting Detective turned the ex-Army Doctor’s world upside down. He remembers how Sherlock had started rambling and how lost the taller man had seemed, even in the familiar environment of 221B Baker Street.
…I thought that if I lied then you’d be safe—at least safer—that perhaps Moriarty would think you less worthy of his attention…
John closes his eyes as he remembers his and Sherlock’s first kiss, how the Detective had frozen, unable to process all the information running through his brain. He remembers how hesitantly Sherlock had started to respond, how he had cupped John’s face when he finally started to kiss John back… but at the same time John remembers their last kiss. Remembers listening to what he thought was a paramedic tell him that Mrs. Hudson had been shot and how he almost hadn’t stopped to accept the kiss that Sherlock had offered. He remembers the quick soft press of his lips to Sherlock’s and how he could feel Sherlock watching him race off.
With a deep breath John pulls himself out of his thoughts and glances up at Mrs. Holmes—he wonders why Sherlock’s mother hasn’t started the funeral. However when he glances over at the Holmes Matriarch he finds that her attention is focused on something beyond Sherlock’s grave, something outside of the Holmes Family Cemetery. John follows her gaze and sees two people walking down the path from the Manor—an older man and a younger woman.
As the two approach the grave John finds himself wondering where he’s seen them before—or rather where he’s seen the young woman before. She looks strangely familiar, as does the older man although to a much lesser extent. The man is clean-shaven, with thinning white hair. He is wearing a simple black tuxedo and a plain black overcoat and holds a large black umbrella over himself and his female companion. The woman who walks to his left and slightly in front of him can’t be more then twenty-five years old and John finds himself wondering if she’s the older man’s daughter. The woman has black hair which has been pulled up into a bun and is dressed in a loose draping black and dull grey outfit consisting of pants and a large shirt. There’s also some sort of black velvet cloak which also looks like a scarf. She’s not wearing any jewelry that John can see and in her right hand she holds a bouquet of white azaleas.
When the man and woman reach Sherlock’s grave the young woman hesitates for a second before placing the bouquet of white flowers at the base of Sherlock’s gravestone. She lingers for a second before rising and turning towards Mrs. Holmes, her right hand extending as if she’s expecting a handshake from the Holmes Matriarch. Violet Holmes reaches out, but instead of shaking the mystery woman’s hand she pulls the black haired woman into a quick embrace.
When Mrs. Holmes releases they young woman she turns to face Mycroft, who also draws her into an embrace… although his embrace is a much more restrained and “proper” embrace then his mother’s hand been. As the two embrace John realizes why the young woman looks so familiar—he’s seen her before, on the cover of a dozen magazines and in at least as many newspapers. She’s Rachel Wayne, the American Billionaire, the so called “Princess of Gotham”, who had paid Sherlock a ridiculously large sum of money just to keep the Consulting Detective on retainer… and now she’s standing right in front of the ex-Army Doctor.
“Dr. Watson.” Rachel Wayne does not extend her hand towards John or try to embrace him in any way. “I wish that we could have met under better circumstances—Sherlock spoke quite highly of you.”
“Thank you.” John replies, unsure of what else he can say to the Gotham Heiress who quite clearly hadn’t been just another one of Sherlock’s clients. Rachel nods respectfully to John before she steps away from him and the two surviving members of the Holmes family. The older man—whom John believes is Rachel’s version of Not!Anthea—follows close behind his employer. He does not speak, but when Rachel finds a place in the semi-circle of mourners he reaches forward and places a comforting hand on the young woman’s shoulder. Slowly Rachel reaches up and places her hand on top of his as Sherlock’s funeral begins.
“My son was not a religious man. Nor was he sentimental.” Mrs. Holmes does not step forward as she speaks. She remains at her spot next to Sherlock’s headstone and her gaze slowly sweeps over the assembled mourners. “I doubt that he… that he would want a ceremony—even one such as this. However funerals are not for the benefit of the dead, but for the benefit of the living. So we are gathered here to mourn a life lost, to honor a life lived and to start new lives—lives where a friend is missing, where a lover is missing… and where a son is missing.”
Mrs. Holmes closes her eyes for a moment, takes a deep breath and reaches out to grasp Mycroft’s hand. As she does this John wraps an arm around the taller man’s waist.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.”
John shivers as Mrs. Holmes recites the poem from memory. He’s heard it at least a dozen times at military funerals—but the words have never really hit him like they do now. John can see Mrs. Holmes trembling and he can feel that Mycroft is also trembling. When the ex-Army Doctor looks around he finds tears on everyone’s face—except for Rachel Wayne. The American Billionaire is clearly affected by the proceedings… but instead of crying as the other mourners are she’s just staring at Sherlock’s tombstone, as if the mirror like black stone holds all the answers to her questions.
“When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not… I did not d—”
Mrs. Holmes’ voice fails her and she starts to sob. It’s the first time that Sherlock’s mother has been vocal in her grief—ever since she’d come to Bart’s to collect John in the aftermath of Sherlock’s fall Violet Holmes had been silent in her suffering… a pillar of strength and composure that John and Mycroft had leaned on without a second thought. She’d been the one to comfort the two, the one to arrange the funeral and through all of that she had not let anyone see how deeply the death of her youngest son had affected her.
But now Mycroft and John are the ones to support Mrs. Holmes. Mycroft releases her hand and reaches out, pulling his mother into his and John’s embrace. Her umbrella falls to land on the ground behind her as Mrs. Holmes wraps her arms around her son and his lover. Her entire body shudders as John wraps his free arm around the older woman, who ends up crying into Mycroft’s shoulder. The man behind the British Government simply stares at the grave of his little brother, at the black marble and the white flowers and the puddles growing ever larger on the disturbed soil. John closes his eyes as he feels tears running down his face. He all but clings to Mycroft and Mrs. Holmes—the sound of rain falling on Mycroft’s umbrella and the sounds of Mrs. Holmes’ grief seem horribly loud and only seem to grow louder with each sob that shakes Violet Holmes’ thin frame.
When John opens his eyes he finds that the other mourners have left to give the family their privacy. Even Mycroft’s assistant is gone—the only evidence that more people were once present at Sherlock’s funeral are the footprints in the wet earth and the white azaleas which are starting to droop under the weight of the rain, allowing John to see the plain black ribbon which holds the bouquet together. The wind is getting stronger, as is the rain… soon it’ll be a proper storm, not just a strangely appropriate shower.
“We should go inside.” Mycroft whispers. Mrs. Holmes steps away from her son, raising a hand to wipe at her eyes. She glances at Sherlock’s grave one final time before silently nodding. Mycroft adjusts his grip on his umbrella and John reaches down to grab the umbrella that Violet Holmes had dropped… this accomplished he steps away from Mycroft and Mrs. Holmes, placing himself at the foot of Sherlock’s grave.
“John?” Mycroft asks.
“I… I just need a moment.” John replies with a shrug. Mycroft does not reply—except to lean over and press a kiss to John’s lips, a soft quick kiss which reminds John of the last time he’d kiss Sherlock. This task accomplished Mycroft wraps his arm around his mother and starts to lead her back towards Holmes Manor, leaving the ex-Army Doctor alone at the Consulting Detective’s grave.
At first John Watson just stares at the grave itself, at the disturbed ground and the growing puddles. He watches as raindrops make ripples in the tiny pools, distorting the reflection of the cloudy sky. Slowly, hesitantly John’s gaze sort of slides upwards, lingering for a moment on the flowers that Rachel Wayne had brought, watching raindrops slide down the white petals. Finally his gaze comes to rest on the tombstone, on the rain running down the smooth black stone, following the path of the carved letters. John can see his own reflection in the smooth marble… it looks like someone has carved Sherlock Holmes on to his chest, right where his heart lies. John takes a deep breath and glances over his shoulder to ensure that Mycroft and Mrs. Holmes are out of earshot, before he turns back to Sherlock’s grave and starts to speak.
“I love you. I should… I should have said that—when you did. I think you would have liked to hear that before—before you jum…” John takes a shuddering breath and has to wait a second before he can continue. “Look Sherlock, you know I don’t believe this, right? I don’t believe you’re a fake. I don’t believe that you made all of it up and… dear god I don’t want to believe you’re dead.”
Slowly John releases a breath that he wasn’t aware he was holding and finds a strange soft little whimpering sound escapes as he does so. He quickly runs a hand over his face, trying to wipe away his tears as he struggles to pull himself together.
“Sherlock you weren’t just a great man, you were a good man—the best man, the most human… human being that I’ve ever known. And I hope that someday everyone realizes that.” Slowly John steps forward, moving so that he is standing right in front of Sherlock’s headstone, where Mrs. Holmes was standing just a short time ago. “I was so alone and I owe you so much.”
Slowly, with trembling fingers, John reaches out and touches the top of Sherlock’s tombstone.
“There’s just one thing Sherlock, one more thing. Just one more miracle for me…” John’s hand curls around the grave and for a second it seems to be the only thing supporting John’s weight. “Don’t… don’t be dead. Please just, don’t… don’t—just stop this. Please.”
John’s grip on the tombstone tightens even further as pain shoots down his leg from a nonexistent wound. He takes several deep breaths and wipes his eyes, stubbornly ignoring the desire to limp as he backs away from Sherlock’s grave. When he reaches the foot John pauses and raises his head. He stares once more at the black marble before he comes to attention. After a second he nods in salute to the grave of his lover and turns on one heel before walking away.
John doesn’t look back… but he also doesn’t get far. Waiting for him at the ornamental gate to the Holmes cemetery is Rachel Wayne, who is unaccompanied by the older man and is holding her own umbrella.
“I don’t believe he was a fraud.” Rachel informs John, who stops just in front of her. “And I know that he didn’t make Moriarty up… I just thought you should know that. But the thing is… I can practically smell a lie and quite frankly Dr. Watson, this entire business reeks.”
“You don’t think he’s dead.”
“No I don’t.” Rachel replies, shaking her head slightly. “I don’t know why, but something’s not right… I just hope that he has a damn good explanation for all of this.”
“Sherlock promised me that he wouldn’t lie unless it was necessary.” John finds himself smiling slightly despite the tears on his face. “He also promised that I could punch him afterwards.”
Rachel reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small slip of paper which she hands to John. It has two phone numbers and an address written on it in black pen.
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I owe Sherlock and Mycroft—and I’m a person who believes in replaying their debts.” Rachel explains as she closes John’s hand over the piece of paper, sheltering it from the wind and the rain. “This is the least I can do.”
“Thank you.” John whispers as he places the paper in a pocket of his jacket. “But as Mycroft pointed out, we have a body. We have evidence.”
“No, what we have are ashes and ‘Louisa’s’ word that those ashes belonged to Sherlock Holmes.” Rachel replies as she turns towards Holmes Manor and John falls into step beside her as he had so often fallen into step beside Sherlock. “If I had to fake my death I’d have someone I trusted in on the secret—someone who could convince my loved ones that they ‘didn’t need’ to see my body.”
“But why Sherlock do that? Fake his death? Fake a suicide?”
“I’d assume the Consulting Criminal had something to do with it.” The Billionaire sighs. “Why exactly? I’m not sure… but I plan on finding out.”
“I’ll call you if I find anything.” John offers as the two reach Holmes Manor.
“And I’ll do the same.” Rachel replies. “I hope we meet again under better circumstances Dr. Watson.”
“John. John’s fine.”
“Only if you return the courtesy… John.”
After the funeral John and Mycroft stay at Holmes Manor for a week before Mrs. Holmes insists that the two try to return to something approaching a normal life and Not!Anthea—who is now using “Jean” as her name—informs Mycroft that there are a few things in London which require his personal attention. It isn’t until the car ride back to London that John informs Mycroft that he intends to stay in 221B instead of moving out and into Mycroft’s home in London—something which John had decided shortly after Sherlock’s funeral and already informed Mrs. Hudson of. Mycroft doesn’t argue with John’s decision, although John can tell that the idea of staying in Sherlock’s flat isn’t appealing to the surviving Holmes brother. John is actually surprised that Mycroft agrees to spend their first night back in London at 221B with John, instead of using his work as an excuse to stay away from the flat.
When John and Mycroft reach the flat they find that a small shrine of sorts has sprung up underneath the mailbox, in-between the door to 221B and the sandwich bar next door. There are several pictures of Sherlock which have obviously been cut out of newspapers, including the one of Sherlock at the press conference wearing the deerstalker Lestrade had given him. In addition to the photographs there are several candles, one of which is still lit and a few flowers. Underneath one of the candles is a piece of paper with “I believe in Sherlock Holmes!” written on it. John can’t help but smile as he reaches into the mailbox, while Mycroft inspects the shrine like it’s the most important clue in a murder investigation.
There are several dozen envelopes in the mailbox, all from people who John doesn’t know… but there’s also a small package whose return address is the same as the one Rachel Wayne had written on the slip of paper which she had handed to John after Sherlock’s funeral. Tucking the mail under his arm John heads inside, quickly checking if Mrs. Hudson is in (she isn’t) before heading up the stairs to 221B, Mycroft trailing behind him.
Some small part of John had actually been hoping that Sherlock would be there, waiting for them in 221B, that the world’s only Consulting Detective would be sitting in his black armchair, violin in hand, just waiting to explain himself to his lovers and get punched by John for lying to them. But of course there’s no one waiting for John and Mycroft in 221B… just a violin lying on Sherlock’s black armchair, which Mycroft stares at as John locks the door behind them. After a second’s hesitation, Mycroft turns away from the armchair and heads towards the couch, where John is already sitting as he looks through the letters.
“So who are they from?” Mycroft asks.
“I think they’re Sherlock’s fans.” John replies as he shows Mycroft a handmade car with “We Believe In Sherlock Holmes!” written on it in and the signatures of two people John’s never heard of. Most of the letters contain similar messages including Moriarty was real! Richard Brook was a fake! and You are not alone! Some of the letters even make Mycroft smile—specifically one which has a young girl dressed up as Sherlock and a boy (her brother according to the card) dressed up as John. The two are standing outside of 221B, wearing matching deerstalkers and holding a sign that reads “We believe in Sherlock Holmes and John Watson!”
John passes the stack of letters over to Mycroft so that he can inspect them more thoroughly and turns his attention to the package from Rachel Wayne. Inside the thick brown paper, wrapped in bubble wrap, are two objects roughly the size of coffee cups and a short letter. Confused, John sets the mystery objects on the coffee table in front of him and unfold the letter.
There used to be a tradition that, when a loved one left on a journey or to go to war, their family kept a candle burning in the window of their house, to light their way home. Alfred (my butler, you saw him at the funeral) bought an electric candle for my bedroom window at Wayne Manor and I thought you might like to keep a light burning at 221B.
Mycroft makes an enquiring noise and John passes him the note as he unwraps the candles from the bubble wrap before heading over to the two windows of 221B. He pauses for a moment to look out at Baker Street, before he flicks the candles on and places one in each window. Mycroft does not say anything as he reads over Rachel Wayne’s letter, instead he simply stand and moves to embrace John, who is standing in front of the window closest to Sherlock’s chair.
“So which one is it?” Mycroft asks. “Is it a journey or a war that’s taken Sherlock away?”
“I don’t know.” John sighs as he leans back against Mycroft and stares at the flickering fake flames of the two candles. “I’m sorry My, I just can’t—”
“I understand.” Mycroft whispers. “I just… John I wish I could believe that Sherlock is alive.”
“Then I’ll believe for the two of us.” John replies, forcing himself to smile as he turns towards Mycroft. “Okay?”
“You do that John.” Mycroft says with a soft smile as he leans down to press a kiss to John’s forehead.
That night Mycroft Holmes and John Watson sleep together in the bed they once shared with Sherlock—each one feeling the lack of their partner more keenly in the bed at 221B then they had in the bed at Holmes Manor. In the middle of the night John wakes—as he has for almost five nights in a row—with a phantom pain in his leg. Both pain and limp have been plaguing John ever since Sherlock’s funeral, so much so that he’s actually considering rooting around under Sherlock’s bed to see if his old cane is still floating around.
Mycroft leaves early the next morning to attend to the business which had called him back to London. When the man behind the British Government leaves John wakes up just long enough to get a rushed kiss goodbye and a promise to “try” and return to 221B for dinner. When, several hours later, John wakes up on his own, the silence of 221B is suffocating. Slowly John gets dressed and wanders into the kitchen, which had been cleaned of anything perishable (both food and experiment) after Sherlock’s death by one of Mycroft’s employees. The kitchen is spotless, with all of Sherlock’s laboratory equipment put away… in fact all of 221B is cleaner then John has ever seen it, no doubt due to the combined forces of Mycroft’s employees and grief driven cleaning by Mrs. Hudson.
A side effect of this double cleaning is that the only food in 221B consists of a few slices of bread, an all but empty jar of raspberry jam and just enough coffee for John to make too much, since he makes enough for Sherlock to have a cup automatically—he even pours out the coffee into two cups, his own blue and white striped cup and Sherlock’s black and white striped cup. John finishes his own cup and stares at Sherlock’s for a second before he drinks the extra coffee—for some reason he doesn’t want to just pour out the coffee and let it go to waste.
With the two cups sitting in the kitchen sink, John decides it’s time to go shopping, so he pulls the scarf Mrs. Holmes had given him around his neck, makes sure he’s got his wallet and heads off down Baker street to the nearest market.
The trip goes smoothly—John doesn’t even have a problem with the chip and PIN machine. On the way back from the market he finds a young woman with long curly black hair playing a violin on a street corner. He doesn’t recognize the song, but it sounds familiar enough that John suspects he’s heard Sherlock play it at least once… John ends up tossing all the change he has in his pockets into the young woman’s violin case and somehow manages to walk away with dry eyes, even though the music sticks in his head all the way back to 221B…only to skid to a halt like a scratched CD the second that John reaches the top of the stairs.
There’s something wrong. John can feel it the second that he reaches out to open the door to 221B… he hesitates for a second and when he eventually does open the door he has to blink to make sure he isn’t hallucinating.
There’s a woman in the flat. A woman who is sitting in Sherlock’s black armchair but is not Mycroft’s personal assistant, or Mrs. Hudson, or Mrs. Homles or even Irene Adler. This woman is young, with long dark brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and emerald green eyes… John recognizes her, even though he’d only seen her once many months ago. The woman sitting in Sherlock’s black armchair is the same stranger whom he’d met in a London Pub two weeks before Mike introduced him to Sherlock.
For a second John just stand in the doorway of 221B, staring at the woman who had bought John a drink and invited him to her hotel room without saying more than ten words to the ex-Army Doctor. Just as John starts to try and figure out what he should say to the woman—other than the not at all polite “Why are you here?” the woman slowly crosses her legs and speaks.
Author’s Notes: The tree near Sherlock’s grave is a white flowering cherry tree.
Rachel Wayne is from another of my fanfics—specifically Scilicet… which exists in the same universe as Illuminating The World. She’s basically a gender bent Bruce Wayne. This is the outfit she is wearing.
This is the reason Rachel has a bouquet of azaleas, specifically the first meaning. They are white because white is a color of mourning and funerals in several Asian cultures.
The poem that Mrs. Holmes reads at the funeral is “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye. Here, have a beautiful Sherlock video of FEELS.
The first name that Not!Anthea uses (which she also used in the last chapter) is a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle’s first wife, Louisa Hawkins. The second name Not!Anthea uses, Jean, is a reference to Jean Elizabeth Leckie, who was Doyle’s second wife. Doyle married her one year after Louisa died of tuberculosis.
The cosplay kids who send their photo to John are a reference to these adorable siblings. The tradition Rachel’s talks about in her letter is real and there’s a reference to "Woke Up New" by the Mountain Goats when John is making breakfast.
Chapter 18: A New Type Of War
Two weeks before John Watson ran into Mike Stamford his Blackheath ruby mates had dragged him out of his bedsit for a night of drinking to celebrate his return from Afghanistan. While his old friends had drunk like they were still in their twenties John had remained sober—well mostly sober. Just as his friends had started to stagger back home to bed or to someone else’s bed and John was considering heading back to his bedsit, a woman had sat down at John’s table. She’d brought the ex-Army Doctor a drink and invited him back to her hotel—only to leave before John had woken up the following morning.
Now that woman is sitting in 221B, in Sherlock’s chair, acting like she owns the place. She hasn’t changed since John had last seen her—long dark brown hair, emerald green eyes, mocha skin and sharp yet graceful features. She’s wearing black jeans, a dark red shirt, motorcycle jacket and plain black boots. John doesn’t have to look too hard to spot the knife that the woman has slipped into her left boot or the gun holster which is attached to her belt. There’s also a small messenger style leather bag leaning against the side of Sherlock’s chair, with what looks like a manila envelope sticking out of it.
“Well this is unexpected.” John sighs as he leans against the doorway of 221B. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I got your name the last time around.”
“I didn’t drop it.” The woman replies. “But then neither did you—I just read your dog tags.”
“So—no offense—but why are you here?” John asks as he sets his bags of groceries down next to the door.
“There was a…” The woman pauses, apparently searching for the right word. As she thinks her gaze slowly drifts away from John and comes to rest on the seat of John’s armchair. “A complication.”
John blinks in confusion, before his gaze follows the woman to the seat of his armchair… where a wicker basket sits. There’s a small crystal sun catcher hanging from the basket’s handle by a piece of black ribbon… and there’s something in the basket—something wrapped up in a cream colored blanket. John takes a hesitant step forward, so that he can get a better look… and the ex-Army Doctor doesn’t even try to stop the gasp that falls from his lips.
Lying in the wicker basket, wrapped up in a cream blanket and staring up at the sun catcher is a baby who can’t be more than nine months old. John’s gasp draws the child’s attention and she/he blinks sleepily a few times as a look of confusion appears on his/her face.
“Her name is Adrianna.” The woman informs John, as the baby girl starts to whimper and wiggle unhappily in her little cocoon of blankets. Without thinking John moves forward and picks up the child, who settles down almost as soon as John takes her into his arms. Pausing only to make sure that he’s properly supporting the girl’s head, John turns back towards the woman… who hasn’t moved from her position in Sherlock’s chair.
“She’s your daughter.”
“You mean she’s our daughter.” John replies as he looks down at the baby girl, who is staring up at him with a strange intensity that makes John think of Sherlock. Adrianna has the same emerald green eyes as her mother, but her hair is black instead of the woman’s dark brown. Despite the color of her hair and eyes, the baby girl somehow looks more like John then her mother—well as much as any baby can really “look” like a particular person. However what really draws John’s attention—both as a father who is seeing his daughter for the first time and as a doctor—is the little girl’s right eye.
The first thing that anyone looking at Adrianna would notice is that her right eye does not look like her left eye. While both are a beautiful emerald color, the iris of her right eye has a sort of black line which goes out from the black of the pupil to the white of her sclera—as if the pupil is leaking out, across the green and only stopping at the white. It’s a condition that John recognizes—after all John’s sister has a more mild form of the condition responsible for the “line” in Adrianna’s right eye.
“She has coloboma, doesn’t she?” John asks the mother of his daughter, who blinks once in apparent surprise before she replies.
“You know of the condition?”
“My sister has a mild form.” John explains, shifting the child in his arms so that he can pass a finger in front of Adrianna’s face… while her left eye follows the finger’s movement and she even reaches out to grab it with one tiny hand, her right eye does not move to track the object, but instead continues to stare straight ahead. “How bad is it?”
“Her left eye appears to be unaffected. However the doctor I consulted belives that she is completely blind in her right eye.” The woman explains. “Obviously it is too early to know for sure.”
“What about CHANGE?” John asks, trusting that—if his daughter’s mother has contacted a doctor—then she would know about the often hidden health issues which coloboma tended to be an visible indicator of—heart defects, atresia, retardation of grown and ear abnormalities, which could result in deafness. Harry had a very mild form of coloboma—all she had was a slight “bulge” of the pupil of her left eye, not the defined line that Adrianna had.
“It’s too early to tell for sure, but it appears that she is unaffected.” The woman replies as she reaches down and pulls the envelope out of the messenger bag that John had noticed earlier.
“So, why tell me?” John asks. “Why now? Why not tell me when you found out you were preg—”
“I have no use for a half-blind child.” The woman replies, cutting John off. She does not even look at her daughter as she stands up and offers John the envelope. “This contains all the paperwork that accompanies British citizenship—take it and she’s your’s.”
Without hesitating John removes his finger from Adrianna’s grip and takes the envelope from his child’s mother. Once John has the envelope the woman turns away from him—
John doesn’t actually expect the woman to stop. In fact he expects her to continue walking out of 221B and start heading down the stairs. However the one word does make the woman stop and turn back towards her child and his father.
“What’s your name?” John asks. “I mean—eventually she’ll want to know.”
“It’s on her birth certificate.”
“Something tells me that whatever’s written on this—” John raises up the envelope before dropping it on his chair, next to Adrianna’s basket. “Isn’t your real name.”
“It’s Talia.” The woman replies after a second’s hesitation. “Talia Al Ghul.”
John freezes, staring at the mother of his child as he remembers a conversation which had occurred not too long ago in this very room—when Mycroft’s personal assistant had briefed him on the assassins who had come to London to find out what Moriarty had told Sherlock…
There’s also a potential threat—our men spotted her entering the country but lost track of her after she left Heathrow. Her name is Talia Al Ghul. We believe her father was the head of an organization called the “League of Shadows”.
Before John can even start thinking about what he should say, Talia turns away from him and Adrianna. This time the ex-Army Doctor does not call out to the mother of his child, who steps out into the hall and closes the door of 221B behind her. Instead John stares at the closed door for a second, before he turns towards the nearest window and moves so that he can look down at Baker Street.
After a second Talia steps out on to the sidewalk at the exact moment that a nondescript black car pulls up the curb and a young woman—who, despite not looking like Not!Anthea, manages to remind John of Mycroft’s personal assistant—steps out of the driver’s seat and opens the back door. Talia steps towards the car, her lips moving as she speaks to the woman John assumes is her assistant, but she does not climb inside. Instead she pauses and slowly turns to look up at the windows of 221B.
Talia Al Ghul’s eyes meet John Watson’s and a shudder races down the ex-Army Doctor’s spine. There is no sorrow in the woman’s eyes, no concern for the child she has all but abandoned or regret for giving her daughter away. Talia’s eyes are cold, more akin to stone then anything else… even at the moments when he had been most removed from the world Sherlock’s eyes hadn’t been anywhere as cold as the mother of his child’s are. Without acknowledging John Talia turns back to the car and slides insides, her assistant closing the door before returning to the driver’s seat.
As the car pulls away from the curb Adrianna shifts in John’s arms, drawing his attention away from the car and Baker Street as his daughter reaches up and—after a second’s hesitation—grabs hold of the fringe of the scarf which Mrs. Holmes had given John. The ex-Army Doctor finds himself forgetting about Talia and smiling down at his daughter as she tugs on the scarf, trying to pull it down so that she can get a better look at it. John starts laughing at the frustrated look which appears on the little girl’s face when the scarf doesn’t move… however just as the laughter slips past his lips the reality and enormity of the situation hits John who suddenly feels weak in the knees.
Before he can stumble or fall John manages to all but collapse on to Sherlock’s armchair, with Adrianna still in his arms. The little girl is pleased by the move, since it allows her more access to the scarf around her father’s neck. As John stares down at his daughter—his expression a mix between joy, wonder and terror—she tugs on the scarf and then releases it, watching the fringe sway before she repeats the process.
“I’m father.” John whispers, in the hope that saying those three words out loud will somehow make the situation seem less like some sort of strange dream that he could wake up from at any second.
John had never thought about having children. Well he’d never really thought about having kids, not in any sort of serious way. Once or twice—when he was younger—John had said that he’d like to have children, but that had always been after Harry told whoever was asking that she didn’t want any. As he grew older John had found himself giving various vaguely positive replies whenever he was asked—but always without giving much thought to the question. Partially this was due to the fact that, before Afghanistan, John had never been in any sort of relationship where he needed to seriously think about having kids. When he’d returned from Afghanistan the only “serious” relationship that John had been in was with Sherlock and Mycroft—where of course children hadn’t exactly been an option… or at least an option that John knew existed.
“I’m a father.”
John finds himself resisting the urge to pinch his arm, although he does rearrange Adrianna in his arms so that he has a free hand to run through his hair. With a sigh John asks himself the question which has become the theme of his life ever since Sherlock’s fall…
“So what do I do now?”
Apparently the answer to the question—at least for now—is eat something, because no sooner has John asked himself that question then his stomach lets out a very loud growl, which startles Adrianna into letting go of John’s scarf and slapping one hand against John’s stomach as a startled look appears on her face.
With a smile on his face the ex-Army Doctor hugs his daughter close to him, pressing a kiss to her forehead, before he gets out of Sherlock’s armchair and deposits Adrianna in the wicker basket that Talia Al ghul had brought her in. A quick investigation of the messenger bag her mother had brought her in. A quick investigation of the messenger bag Talia had left reveals a packet of diapers, a few bottles of formula, jars of baby food and a few onesies… but nothing that even resembles a toy. His investigation complete, John pulls off his scarf and coat, which he places on a coat rack by the door, all the while keeping one eye on his daughter. This accomplished and the door to 221B shut and locked, John picks up the bags of groceries which he’d all but all but forgotten when he’d entered 221B and found Talia sitting in Sherlock’s armchair. John deposits the groceries on the table before doing the same with Adrianna’s basket, which he positions so that his daughter can watch as he puts away the groceries but—more importantly—he can keep an eye on her.
Just as Adrianna starts to get bored of just watching her father put away the groceries and starts to squirm John remembers something that his aunt had done to entertain one of his younger cousins. He rummages in one of the kitchen drawers until he finds a set of metal measuring spoons, the kind which are connected to each other by a metal ring, and holds them out towards hid daughter. For a second Adrianna stares at the spoons, but when John gives them a shake the little girl reaches out and grabs hold of them, shaking the spoon experimentally a few times and laughing at the clinking sound they make. As John finishes putting away the groceries and makes himself something to eat his daughter amuses herself with the clinking spoons.
Before he sits down to eat John goes back to 221B’s main room and grabs the manila envelope which Talia had given him. As John eats he examines the papers it contains—the first thing he finds is Adrianna’s birth certificate, where his daughter’s legal name is listed as Adriana Watson—no middle name—with John listed as her father and a “Mary Morstan” as her mother. According to the certificate Adrianna was born early in the morning on December 26th—making her a few days shy of seven months old. John glances up at his daughter, who has the smallest of measuring spoons in her mouth.
After the birth certificate there is a lengthy legal looking document which seems to be Talia—or rather “Mary”—giving John full custody of their daughter. It seems like all the papers need is John’s signature, but instead of finding a pen, John sets the papers aside so that Mycroft (or one of his minions) can look over them. The final bundle of papers in the envelope ends up being Adrianna’s medical records—complied by a doctor whose signature is so bad that even John can’t decipher it. John eats his lunch as he reads through the records, while Adrianna continues playing with the measuring spoons.
By the time that Adrianna starts to get bored with her makeshift toy, John has finished eating and has even managed to wash his plate. When his daughter finally drops the spoons—well actually she all but throws them out of her basket and on to the table—John pulls the basket closer to the edge of the table, reaches inside and picks Adrianna up. As John walks into the living room with his daughter on his right hip he can hear someone slowly climbing up the stairs to 221B and trying to open the door.
“John?” Mrs. Hudson calls out as she knocks on the door. “Are you in?”
“Just a second!” John fumbles to unlock the door without dropping Adrianna, who has reaches up and now has one hand gripping her father’s shirt. As the door unlocks Mrs. Hudson steps into 221B, a small casserole dish in her hands. She walks right by John and Adrianna, apparently not noticing the little girl and heads into the kitchen.
“I made you some sheapard’s pie dear.” Mrs. Hudson explains as she puts the food away in the fridge. “I didn’t realize you had gone shopping already…”
The older woman trails off, straightening up and slowly closing the fringe before she turns around, apparently only now realizing that John is holding a bay in his arms. For a second Mrs. Hudson just stares at Adrianna, who stares right back at the landlady from John’s arms.
“And who is this?” Mrs. Hudson asks as she steps forward, leaning down slightly as she smiles at the little girl, who giggles when she returns the landlady’s smile.
“Um, Adrianna.” John replies as Mrs. Hudson reaches out and offers her hand to the little girl, who reaches out with her free hand and grabs on to the older woman’s fingertips. “She’s… she’s my daughter.”
“Oh of course she is—look at you! You’re just as handsome as your father.” Mrs. Hudson replies with a smile, using her free hand to tickle the little girl, who squeals happily and kicks her feet against John’s side. “And what a pretty name!”
“Would you like to hold her?” John offers. Mrs. Hudson nods and John transfers his daughter to his landlady’s arms. For a second it looks like Adrianna might start crying, but then the little girl releases her grip on John’s shirt and grabs on to the sleeve of Mrs. Hudson’s dress.
“I always wanted to have children, but my husband didn’t… I suppose that was for the best in the end.” Mrs. Hudson sighs as she slowly sways side to side as she looks down at Adrianna. “After all, I ended up meeting Sherlock.”
“So you got a kid after all.” John replies with a smirk. Mrs. Hudson laughs, her free hand rising to politely cover her mouth as John heads over to the messenger bag that Talia had left. He pulls out a bottle of formula and finds a baby bottle in the bag, which he takes with him into the kitchen.
“It’s strange…” Mrs. Hudson muses as she looks down at John’s daughter. “But don’t you think she looks like Sherlock?”
“I hadn’t really thought about it…” John replies as he pours formula into baby bottle and makes sure the top is on correctly. “But I guess she does.”
“So are you just taking care of her for the day or—”
“Her mother just gave me complete custody.” John explains, cutting Mrs. Hudson off as he walks back towards his daughter and the landlady, bottle in hand. “I… I didn’t even know she existed before today.”
The moment that he steps into Adrianna’s field of view the little girl starts staring at the bottle, whimpering softly and reaching out towards her father. Mrs. Hudson silently hands Adrianna off to John, who sits down in .
“You didn’t know?” Mrs Hudson asks as she takes a seat in John’s armchair and places her hands in her lap as she raises one eyebrow ever so slightly.
“It’s was before I met Sherlock.” John explains as his daughter starts sucking on the bottle and even reaches out to grab on to the sides, just below where John’s hand is holding the bottle. “My old rugby mates took me out to a pub and I…”
John coughs and finds himself blushing as the slightest hint of a smirk appears on Mrs. Hudson’s face.
“Anyway—she just showed up today with Adrianna.” John sighs. “I haven’t even told Mycroft yet. I don’t even know how to tell Mycroft.”
“How to tell Mycroft?” Mrs. Holmes asks, her face furrowing slightly in confusion.
“I… I guess I’m worried that Mycroft won’t—it’s not like a kid was something that we thought was possible.” John takes a deep breath. “Besides, how are you even supposed to tell your boyfriend that you’ve got a kid?”
Before Mrs. Hudson can reply or John can say anything else the doo to 221B opens once more, this time to admit Not!Anthea, who is in the process of putting her handgun back into it’s holster. Mycroft’s personal assistant closes the door behind her and walks over to John, where she peers down at Adrianna like she’s never seen an infant before. After several seconds of silence Not!Anthea—who John believes is still going by Jean—pulls back slightly and looks between John and Adrianna a few times before stepping back to a more polite distance.
“She looks like you.” Jean remarks absentmindedly as she reaches into a pocket of her jacket, pulls out notebook and starts writing something down. “I suggest you simply call Mycroft and tell him that you need to talk. He should understand the nature of… your interaction with her mother.”
“…does he like kids?”
“His only experience was with Sherlock when he was four.” Jean replies. “So expect him to be awkward, at least at first. He’ll probably get me to order every parenting book known to mankind.”
John blinks twice before smiling in relief—the only person who knows Mycroft better than his personal assistant is his mother after all… which opens a whole new can of worms, albit a can which can be ignored for now.
“I assume she is way Talia was here?” Mycroft’s personal assistant asks.
“Yes… she gave me the papers on the table.” John replies. “What are you writing anyway?”
“Shopping list.” Jean replies, flashing the list at John. The ex-Army Doctor manages to read the first three items—gun safe, diapers, formula—before Mycroft’s personal assistant heads over to the kitchen table to investigate the papers Talia Al Ghul had left. “After she was spotted on Baker Street Mycroft requested that I check in on you.”
“She?” Mrs. Hudson asks, looking between John and Jean.
“Adrianna’s mother, Talia Al Ghul. She’s something of a…” John trails off, searching for a better way to say “Terrorist”.
“Thief, assassin and heir to her father’s terrorist organization.” Mycroft’s personal assistant explains as she puts the papers back into the envelope and sticks it under her arm as she pulls out her cell phone and starts texting. “I’ll have someone look over the papers, but they all seem to be in order… I’ve assured Mycroft that all is well. You should call him.”
“Thanks?” John replies, feeling slightly overwhelmed as Mrs. Hudson stands up and plucks the bottle—which Adrianna has finished—from John’s hands. The landlady quickly washes the bottle out and sets it out to dry next to the table before she follows Not!Anthea to the door of 221B.
“I’ll be downstairs if you need me John—remember to put a towel on your shoulder if she starts to fuss!” Mrs. Hudson remarks before she closes the door behind her, no doubt already planning on knitting something for Adrianna.
With a sigh John retrieves a towel and Adrianna’s basket from the kitchen, placing both to the side of Sherlock’s armchair before he retrieves his cell phone from the pocket of his jacket and settles back into Sherlock’s chair, Adrianna in his lap already half-asleep. After a final second of hesitation John dials Mycroft’s number and takes a few deep breaths as he waits for the man behind the British government to answer… it doesn’t take long. In fact John’s not even sure if the phone manages to ring once before Mycroft picks it up.
“Is something wrong? Do I need to send someone?”
“No, everything’s fine. Didn’t Jean text you?” John asks, touched by his boyfriend’s concern.
“...yes.” Mycroft replies after a moment of silence. “I hadn’t expected you to call and assumed that something else had arisen.”
“I… I just needed to talk to you—to tell you something.”
“Before I met you—before I met Sherlock—some old mates took me to a pub. A woman bought me a drink and we had a one night stand. Today she… well she stopped by.” John hesitates for a second, taking a deep breath and gently taking hold of Adrianna’s tiny hand before he continues. “I’ve got a daughter. She’s seven months old and her mom does want her—hell her mom all but called her defective. So… so she gave her to me.”
John holds his breath as he waits for Mycroft to say something, to say anything, in response to what he has just told his boyfriend. Despite his best attempts to remain calm, part of John is growing increasingly terrified that he’ll have to choose between his lover and his daughter, while another part starts to worry about what happens if he doesn’t have to chose, if Mycroft “accepts” Adrianna and… well does nothing but tolerate her presence in John’s life.
“What’s her name?” Mycroft asks.
As silence once again stretches between John and Mycroft the ex-Army Doctor finds his eyes slowly sliding closed as his grip tightens around his cell phone—but when Mycroft finally speaks John’s eyes fly open and he almost drops the phone in surprise and shock.
“So if she calls you ‘dad’ then what would she call me?”
“I guess you could always be daddy-M.” John replies, his voice cracking as shocked but joyful tears start to roll down his cheeks.
“John, what’s wrong?” Mycroft asks, concern reentering his voice.
“Part of me…” John has to pause to take a deep breath. “Well I thought you wouldn’t react well.”
“John—” Mycroft sighs. “It was before you met Sherlock, let alone me. It was before you started a relationship with either one of us. I can’t fault you for your actions. I understand you just found out today… and you’re a good man John Watson. I don’t believe you’d willingly abandon me or Sherlock, let alone an all but orphaned child. It shouldn’t take me more then thirty minutes to return to 221B… you can introduce me to Adrianna and then we can inform Mummy that she has a grandchild.”
“Mycroft I… I love you, you know that right?” John asks, his voice dropping to a whisper. “And not just with Sherlock.”
“I never doubted that.” Mycroft replies. “I’ll be home shortly.”
John can’t help but sigh in relief when he ends the phone call with Mycroft. As the ex-Army Doctor drops his phone on to a small table to the right of Sherlock’s armchair he looks down at his daughter—who is fast asleep, one hand still gripping on to John’s shirt while the other is half in her mouth.
With a soft smile on his face John gently removes Adrianna’s hand from his shirt and places her back into the basket Talia had brought her in. Once this is accomplished John gently tucks her in and relocates to the couch, mentally patting himself on the back for managing not to wake up his daughter. With Adrianna’s basket sitting on the center of the coffee table and turned so that she is facing John, the ex-Army Doctor lies down on the couch, intending just to close his eyes for a second… instead he falls asleep almost as soon as his head comes to rest on the couch’s pillows.
Mere seconds after Mycroft Holmes steps out of his car on to the sidewalk in front of 221B another car arrives and his personal assistant steps out, carrying two bags—one from a grocery store and one from a children’s store.
“Jean.” Mycroft says in greeting as he holds the door open for her.
“Asherah now.” She corrects, stepping through the door and heading up the stairs in front of her boss. When she arrives at the top and the door to 221B “Asherah” moves so that she is holding both bags in one and opens the door, pausing briefly in the doorway before heading into 221B and making her way towards the flat’s kitchen.
When Mycroft steps into the flat he sees why his assistant stopped—John Watson is asleep on the couch that Sherlock had so frequently collapsed on, turned to his left so that his body forms a stretched out c, his face turned towards the coffee table where a little girl—who Mycroft assumes is his (unofficial) stepdaughter—sleeps in a wicker basket. As Asherah puts away the supplies that she has purchased Mycroft slowly makes his way forward and sits down on the edge of the couch, his back resting against John’s stomach. Asherah pulls something out of one of the bags and heads towards the bedroom—the bedroom door squeaks and Adrianna’s eyes slowly open. The little girl whimpers softly as she rubs at her eyes before going silent as she stares at Mycroft… who stares right back at her.
Suddenly Mycroft finds something soft and squishy being pressed into his hand. When he tears his gaze away from Adrianna the remaining Holmes brother finds a stuffed animal in his hands—a bee stuffed animal to be specific—and Asherah heading back into the kitchen to finish unpacking her purchases. With a sigh Mycroft turns back to his step-daughter and awkwardly holds out the bee, which Adrianna merely stares at in confusion for a second before her eyes start to tear up and she begins to whimper once more. Desperate not to allow the little girl to cry, Mycroft clears his throat and does his best to imitate a bee buzzing as he makes the toy “fly” just out of Adrianna’s reach.
The little girl goes silent for a second as she watches the bee’s movement—Mycroft notices that only one of her eyes follows the toy and makes a note to investigate that—and repeats the action. This time Adrianna giggles and reaches out, trying to grab the toy, which Mycroft keeps just beyond her reach… which only makes her giggle louder and brings a smile to Mycroft’s face.
“You’re a natural.” John whispers as he sits up, pressing himself against Mycroft’s back as the man behind the British government plays with the daughter of an ex-Army Doctor and an Assassin.
Pressing a quick kiss to Mycroft’s cheek, John sits up, running a hand through his hair before he reaches forward and picks up his daughter, easily positioning Adrianna so that she is sitting in his lap and the two of them are facing Mycroft. After a second’s hesitation Mycroft holds out the bee to the little girl, who eagerly grabs the stuffed animal. Mycroft engages in a brief tug of war with John’s daughter before he allows Adrianna to take the bee from his hands. For a second Adrianna just sits in John’s lap with the bee clasped in her hands, then she looks up at Mycroft and does her best to buzzing noise… which ends up coming out as more of a raspberry then a bee’s buzz.
John laughs and leans down to press a kiss to the top of his daughter’s head. Adrianna seems quite satisfied with herself and continues to make her best attempt at a bee’s buzz as she plays with the stuffed animal, while John turns his attention towards Mycroft.
“So this is Adrianna?” Mycroft asks.
“Adrianna Holmes-Watson.” John replies, sweeping his daughter into his arms and turning her so that she was looking at Mycroft and holding the bee close to her body. “Meet Mycroft—one of your other daddies.”
“One of?” Mycroft asks.
“Sherlock.” John whispers as Adrianna starts chewing on one of the bee’s wings.
“Of course.” Mycroft replies in an equally soft voice before he looks down at Adrianna. “John and I both miss your Daddy Sherlock very much.”
John smiles even as tears gather in the corners of his eyes and, with his free hand, he reaches out to grasp Mycroft’s. The man behind the British government takes hold of the ex-Army Doctor’s hand and leans forward, careful not to squish the little girl between them as he kisses his lover… only for both men to pull apart when they hear the sound of a cell phone taking a picture. Both turn to the side, where Asherah stands, a smirk on her face and her camera in her hands. Before either man can say anything Mycroft’s personal assistant tosses John’s camera at the two of them—well tosses it on to the coffee table in front of them.
“Call Mrs. Holmes already so I can send her this photo.” Asherah orders as she starts fiddling with something on her phone. “That’ll give me some time to arrange for this place to be baby proofed and get the paperwork started to make ‘Holmes-Watson’ her legal last name.”
John sighs, but before he can rearrange Adrianna and himself so that he can grab his phone, Mycroft reaches out and snags the phone off the coffee table and quickly dials his mother’s number. As he does this Mycroft ends up turning so that Adrianna somehow ends up lying in both John and Mycroft’s laps… just as Mrs. Holmes picks up Mycroft flips the phone over to speaker mode and wraps his free arm around John’s waist.
“John?” Mrs. Holmes asks.
“I’m here as well Mother.” Mycroft replies, taking a deep breath before he continues. “John and I have something to tell you.”
Author’s Notes: Coloboma, also known as "Cat's Eye" is a very rare congential birth defect where the eye stops growing before it is fully developed. “Unilateral Coloboma” means that only one eye is effected. Colobma can be an indicator of other hidden issues, such as a rare condition called CHANGE. This is what Adrianna’s right eye looks like.
The first name that Not!Anthea uses, Jean, is a reference to Jean Elizabeth Leckie, who was Doyle’s second wife. Doyle married her one year after his first wife died of tuberculosis. The second name, Asherah, is a Semitic mother goddess who is actually mentioned several times in the Bible. More info can be found here.
Adrianna was planned from the start. Allow me to explain: one night I was skyping with a good friend of mine and talked with her about a plot bunny which had been dancing around in my head.
The Original Plot Bunny:
My current drabbly outline is thus: John Watson has a daughter. (maybe age 10ish?) Her mom is horrible (possible drug addict?) but somehow got custody. John was supposed to get visitation rights, but the mom refused / moved without informing anyone so he wouldn't. Thus John hasn't seen his daughter in several years and when he comes back from the army he has no money to hire a lawyer/private detective to find said daughter.
So he tries to keep living his life, and runs into Sherlock. Events of the tv-show happen. However one day, at the end of an investigation, everyone is at a crime scene. Lestrad is getting witness statements, Sherlock and Mycroft are sneering at each other, John is watching... and a social worker comes up, looking for John Watson, who turns when he hears his name and... "DADDY!" his daughter runs into his arms, latches on and is never gonna let go.
Sherlock & Mycroft: HE HAS A DAUGHTER? 0_0
Sherlock (to Mycroft): Why didn't you know this?
Mycroft thinks: HOW DIDN'T I KNOW THIS?
Then my friend (who is made of plot bunny miracle grow) Asked why Mycroft should know about the girl (at that point she hadn’t seen Sherlock) I explained and said that I had no legitimate reason why Mycroft wouldn't know... and suddenly she said the following:
NINJAS! HER MOM WAS TALIA AL GHUL! MAKE IT HAPPEN! DAUGHTER OF TALIA AL GHUL, RAISED BY SHERLOCK HOLEMS!!!
And her madness infected me and the rest just sorta fell into place.