He stares at the printed words, and his hands tighten imperceptibly. He breathes, deep, calming breaths because it wouldn’t do to lose his composure in the middle of a room of men sunk far into their chairs, fully incapable of handling a sudden outrage without contracting an aneurysm. And he’d rather avoid that at this point, not on top of all that has happened. The man, he folds the newspaper in a sharp movement, crisp and precise and drops it carelessly on the table beside him. He takes a deep breath, and presses his phone to an ear to whisper vacantly, “Get the car. Bring him to me. Please.”
There are many things he has avoided doing, so many things he has kept hidden from so many people. This, this in particular, he especially avoided because it would mean chaining oneself to a life of servitude or gamble in finding that one donor. There were reasons why so few remained, reasons why people, no, why creatures (best to be accurate about these things) like him refrained from inflicting this curse onto others.
Humans die. It’s a fact he has come to terms with – the fragility of mortality – so weak it gnaws at him. But it is a fact, and it stops him from having to play the hero, the one to save all dying mortals from their tragic fate. That prevents him from turning them.
But this… this was different. This was, no, is, his younger brother. His little brother. And –
His eyes flit up from where they’d been gazing unfocused at the desk. They’re no longer their usual silver-brown; his eyes have turned amber but Greg has long been accustomed to this and he does not flinch.
“Close the door, would you?”
Greg obeys the soft command, pushing the old mahogany door until there is an audible click of the lock. And then he is striding across Mycroft’s private room in the Diogenes Club, narrowing that distance between them until insistent hands are tugging at his arms. He relents, rises long enough from his chair for the other man to turn and push him to the edge of the desk upon which Mycroft then slumps.
There used to be a need for words, for communication; and now there no longer is. It isn’t as farfetched as telepathic thoughts – a notion that once brought Mycroft to tears gasping, “Oh, humanity, how you amuse me.” No, it is merely a condition that arises, just as it would and could with any other, when two individuals spend enough time with one another that a new language is formed. And believe you me, they have spent a long, long time in each other’s presence.
Hence, when Greg furrows his brows just so, and Mycroft huffs, full permission has been granted for the detective to wrap his arms tight around the other man. The scent of Greg’s mediocre cologne, gunpowder and metal, metal from the revolver always strapped to his person and his blood, hits Mycroft full on and he welcomes the intoxicating.
“No, I’m not letting up. You don’t need to breath,” Greg says into Mycroft’s neck.
He settles for a pat on an arm that is locked in a vice grip around him.
“I… I saw the papers, I, jesus, Mycroft. I actually doubted him, I can’t fucking believe I doubted him even for a second. I wouldn’t have, I promise, I promise I don’t know what, I – and now he’s –” Greg whispers, voice wobbly.
“He’s still alive.” Greg leans back. The fingers that were tangled in the short hairs of Mycroft’s nape tighten. Mycroft doesn’t wince; his bloodshot eyes narrow, and the pressure eases.
“He’s still alive, barely. The media has been told of his death, but he will live for a few more hours under the machines.”
Smooth fingertips absently trail down Greg’s jugular vein, past the open collar, along his clavicle. Mycroft closes his eyes and leans in.
Greg feels the faintest flick of tongue against the two small, circular scars, forever a dull pink and raw, and stamps down on the shiver. He knows the singular thought running a loop in Mycroft’s vast, incomprehensibly intelligent brain, and it pains him. It pains him, because of the agonizing ultimatum he knows Mycroft faces – one he had hoped to avoid from the very beginning.
“I have no choice,” he whispers as his breath ghosts over the puncture marks.
“No, I don’t suppose you do.”
Senses. Mortal and alive, it had all been overwhelming, heightened and acute and so telling.
But now… now, the light shines too bright, the disinfectant smells too repugnant, the sheets feel too coarse, the monitor’s beeping sounds too shrill, the food tastes too stale. Now, everything is laid bare and exposed, there is no need to think, no need to exert, no necessity for deduction. Everything is an open book.
221 Baker Street has been strangely quiet. For all its tenants.
There is no plucking of strings at ungodly hours, no deliberate screeching that easily has a person wondering how an instrument of beauty could be used for torture, no sudden gunshots that echo through thin walls, no peculiar smells wafting through the halls. In the past, it was a signal for the explosion that was to come – the proverbial calm before the storm.
But things have changed, and these oddities are not so much odd as they are surprisingly normal; so normal as to seem odd. And it is something everybody is gradually coming to terms with.
John has barely been to the clinic, given that Sarah has taken it upon herself to be depressingly maternal over this whole incident. (Yes, incident, he really doesn’t wish to use the word that begins with ‘d’. And no, he will not relent, even if he knew the other man would have scorned it. Jesus, it still hurts.) He’s seen a few patients, no more than ten over the last five weeks and the stillness, the mundane grind of life is debilitating. He tries not to mull over it, but what else is there to do when one’s practically under house arrest? The first day after the incident, he’d hoped for a quiet walk to try and clear his head – only to be accosted unremittingly by the fucking paparazzi. He’d thought that with their bloody coverage on the suicide, that was closure enough for the fucking masses, but evidently, he was wrong. He’d earned himself a label, a nickname, just as he had warned him (fuckfuckfuck) all those weeks ago, thereafter reclining on the couch and purposefully ignoring his question.
Leftovers of the controversial duo.
And goddamn it all if that wasn’t just the truth.
There were memories that clung to every wall, every surface, and every corner of their flat. The flat. John has considered repainting the walls, finally removing the boxes Mrs. Hudson had marked ‘Sherlock’, and putting away the skull (of Thomas Baker, he’d finally learned from Sherlock after a month of being flatmates) so he wouldn’t have to put up with the woeful stare those sockets sent him. But each time he laid hands on the objects, something would churn inside him and it was nauseating and excruciating and John simply gave up after a fourth attempt.
Sherlock was right, it seemed (as ever) – the skull was surprisingly good company.
He had visitors from time to time: Lestrade had popped by a couple of times, sometimes with what looked like a crate of beer, others when he needed help with a case – for old times’ sake, John knew in his heart. Sally, much to John’s surprise, had come over with a batch of homemade brownies (he had heard Sherlock’s drawl just then, “How unbelievably domestic”) and she’d told him about some of the more interesting cases. John knew she was feeling guilty for the doubt she’d acted on – Lestrade’s team had found Moriarty smiling and dead by a gunshot wound at pointblank range, his fingerprints on his own revolver and that had been enough. Even Mycroft had come by on two occasions to ‘check up on him’, bearing bags of takeaway from the restaurants he knew John and Sherlock had frequented, and which he had put carefully away in the perfectly clean refrigerator. On the second visit, just as Mycroft had stood by the doorway, John finally said, “I told him. That you were sorry. He’d nodded. That’s all.” The man had simply inclined his head, and was down and past the stairs in the next moment.
But there was one visit in particular that had proved most startling.
“Hullo John. M-May I come in? It’ll just be for a tick.”
“Right, right, sure,” he fumbles, pulling the door open wide. Molly steps cautiously into the flat and John hears her take a sharp breath, shoulders rigid and frozen. He has to close his eyes for a second.
“So… what is this about? Erm,” he says, running a hand across his face. He’s suddenly so, so exhausted.
“He knew he was going to die.”
John blinks. He’s not sure he’s heard that right.
“He… he knew? You’re telling me he knew and that you knew?” John has never had anger issues, not before and certainly not after moving into this place, but everything’s gone horribly wrong and –
His hand clamps tight around Molly’s shoulder and he wrenches, turning her about sharply. Her eyes are glassy, and she’s chewing her lip, but she acts utterly oblivious to the fact that her shoulder is likely to sport bruises in a few hours.
“He wanted me to pass this to you; found me at Bart’s that day. Just as I was locking up,” she says softly. In her trembling hands, she holds out a crisp, cream envelope.
A proper letter.
There were certain scenes on the telly that Sherlock used to criticize incessantly, such as the slowed movements of characters, and the dawning of revelations in slow, slow-motion. And John had quietly agreed, but a film was a film and there was no sense in spoiling a perfectly adequate program by nit-picking. It wasn’t until he had become a part of Sherlock’s cases by default that he began to realize that those supposed exaggerations weren’t really exaggerations at all. Not to the boring, people anyway.
The world suddenly narrows and everything becomes fuzzy at the edges. He feels the smooth, thick card stock beneath his fingertips, traces the edges and the sharp corners though his eyes are fixated on the elegant script that says simply, ‘J.W.’ His mind dimly registers the soft click of the door and that he is now alone once more.
John pads over to the window where the sunlight filters in brightest and picks open the envelope to remove the letter and several sheets of what looks like legal documents and receipts. He ignores everything but the letter.
Sherlock’s handwriting fills the page in a few paragraphs, curt and forward as he was wont to be at times. To John, he has asked that he keep the skull (he likes a shine now and then), the violin and the stupid floppy cap that he still cannot understand (Stupid design, really) because he knows what a sentimental sap he is (I’ve seen the novels you keep in the box in your room, John, honestly). He doesn’t know if he should laugh or be scandalized that the man’s traipsed and raided his room without his knowledge. The receipts and documents he’s seen make sense only when John reads of the rent being paid in full for the foreseeable future and a trust being set up in his name. How Sherlock would assume he’d be staying on, in spite of memories that hurt him is anybody’s guess, but John hates him more than a little bit for it. By all accounts, John would have been cursing Sherlock for being a bloody great prat who knows John hates charity, would have been wanting to shout at anybody just to get rid of the tension and that something that tightens his chest and which has him scrabbling for breath.
But the final paragraph puts a lid on everything and John simply feels numb. He turns away and picks everything up and has Mr. Skull hold onto the papers for him. John sets it (him) atop the envelope and the documents and the letter, and never looks at it again.
Five months, three-quarters of a year, an entire year.
It is the anniversary of Sherlock’s passing and it is a cold, dreary fucking morning.
“Sodding, sonofa – what the fuck happened to all the hot water?”
“For god’s sake… this is fucking coal. Stupid, sodding toaster – ”
“John?” The man in question turns abruptly on his heel, hand moving automatically to the Sig Sauer tucked into the waistband of his trousers.
Empty space of the apartment greets his hostile glare. John frowns.
It’s eleven in the morning, he hasn’t even had breakfast, and he’s already hallucinating. Angrily, he scrubs his hand over his eyes and slumps into one of the rickety chairs in the kitchen. He hates feeling sorry for himself, he really does, but it’s that one day and of course nothing will go right. John picks himself up and hobbles to the study table, flinging the window wide open. The sudden chill of morning air slams into him and it is the most refreshing experience he’s had so far.
Then, there is the familiar sound of camera shutters.
John chances a glance below and sure enough, dozens of fucking reporters are camped before the front door of 221 Baker Street and the sight triggers an uncontrollable urge to scream.
“Is that - ?”
“That’s a hawk. What the hell is a hawk doing here?”
“Is that Watson’s do you think?”
John hears the clamor and choked off screams of the females and the ridiculous cries of a hawk. Why would he have a hawk, for god’s sake?
Tap. Tap tap.
John looks up from the folded newspaper resting on the coffee table.
Tap tap. Squawk. Tap tap.
John turns around once more, letting his gaze travel cautiously over the apartment until his eyes come to rest on a fucking hawk perched primly on the sill of the open window. John squints and stares hard, grabbing his spectacles just to be certain, and yes, the hawk is still there. Only it now has its head cocked to the left and staring back with a penetrating gaze that makes John feel absurdly like he’s being berated by a bird.
“You’re giving the arseholes down there hell for me, are you?”
The hawk, a beautiful creature of blue-grey feathers and barred-white body ruffles its wings and clacks its beak.
“Now, what am I supposed to do? I imagine if you wanted to come in you easily could. Just don’t tear up this place? It’s dodgy enough as it is.” John feels a little silly muttering to an animal but bears with it all the same.
The hawk flaps open its wings and hops down to the table before gliding smoothly to the kitchen whereupon lies the sad remains of charred bread.
The hawk nudges the crumbs and takes a piece. John watches it nibble before the table is assaulted by spraying crumbs, now in smaller fragments.
“Yeah. The stupid toaster’s new and bloody misleading.”
“I don’t know what you eat when you’re hungry, I’m afraid,” John says amiably, and without thinking, offers an arm like he’s seen in pictures. The bird hops a little and then settles over his forearm in a flutter of wings –
“Christ! Your talons, dammit – !”
Startled by John’s sudden flailing and volume, the hawk takes off, landing on the edge of the kitchen table, flapping wings sending crumbs flying everywhere. Little pinpricks of red begin to blossom through the thin fabric of John’s dress shirt. He unbuttons the sleeve and rolls it back, running water over the puncture marks. Before John can reach for the dishtowel, there is a scrapping of sharp claws over the metal basin of the sink and a brush of feathers against his shoulder.
John has to take a long moment to stare at the bird offering him a towel. A fucking towel. Apparently unimpressed and puzzled at the delay, the hawk shoves the towel once more at the man and only squawks when John hesitantly accepts it.
“Sherlock would have wanted to capture you and dissect your brain,” he says mildly, still stunned.
“Is that a hawk?”
Lestrade stands in the middle of the apartment, eyebrows raised high.
“Hullo, Greg. Little bugger was bothering the tossers downstairs.”
“Was it, now?” Lestrade says with his brows still near his hairline. He takes a few steps closer to the bird perched beside the sink with John. Slowly, he bends until he is nearly on eye level with the hawk.
John watches Lestrade watch the bird with a funny expression.
“Nothing. ‘s just its eyes.”
“What about its eyes?” John repeats, wrapping the dishtowel in layers around his forearm before offering it to the hawk this time.
“They’re… not the usual color, I think.”
The hawk darts forward and snaps at Lestrade, glaring fiercely.
“Er. Come on, up you get,” John says awkwardly. Without taking its eyes off the detective, the hawk grips John’s forearm. “So, how can I help you?”
Lestrade spares one final narrowed stare at the bird before swerving his attention to John. A smile breaks across his face.
“You can help yourself by dragging your moping arse with me to brunch. I’d say the bit of charcoal you’ve been munching on doesn’t quite make breakfast.”
John rolls his eyes but nods. “Right. That’s why you’re a detective. Well done.”
He stops by the windowsill, careful not to lean beyond and into view of the cameras and jerks his arm. “Go on, bugger off, you.” His voice is hushed and gentle.
The hawk blinks its eerily silver-grey eyes at him.
“Go on. I’m hungry and you need to hunt. I’ve got nothing for you here.” The look that the hawk shoots him is uncannily akin to a sneer. John sighs and resigns to adding this to his ongoing list of bizarre things he’s seen in his life. But before he is made to give another go at shooing the bird away and looking even more insane in front of Lestrade, the hawk nips his collar sharply and takes off.
John watches it soar up high and twist in a graceful arc, its wings folding a little on a downward swing before it suddenly darts down in an incredibly fast dive towards the frantic press below.
“Right. That’s going to cause me even more trouble with them, isn’t it?”
Lestrade snorts and covers it up with a cough.
“A Northern Goshawk. A Northern – for goodness sake, Sherlock.”
“At least you know what it was. Everyone kept calling me a hawk. Hawk this, hawk that. Insufferable.”
“You’re insufferable, you fool. When I said you may see him, I didn’t mean for you to make yourself so obvious.”
“But you knew I would anyway. So spare us both, brother.”
“They’re elegant and brilliant.”
“You know my point.”
Silence descends upon the room.
“I could smell him miles away,” he whispers, distant.
“Don’t be silly.”
“I could smell the tears. He – He’s been crying, Mycroft.” His older brother registers the awe and confusion in Sherlock’s harsh mutter.
“I want him back.”
“He belongs to himself, Sherlock. He’s not a toy.”
Red, mercury-red, honeyed maroon, expressive eyes glare fiercely back at him.
“He’s mine, Mycroft.”
“So, he is,” he concedes.
“And quite likely your only lifeline.”
I still have no clue what i'm doing. :(
There hasn’t been a blog post in a year.
In Afghanistan, nobody forgets the heat and dust and the sand that got everywhere. They don’t forget the blood that sprays seven ways, dried and discolored so quickly you could easily mistake it for the splatter of wine. Save when it’d belonged to the soldier who’d stood not a moment before you, shouting and shooting, then bleeding out a second later against the backdrop of the endless fucking desert. The deeper the fighting got, the further into enemy territory you trudged into, the more you forgot the reason anybody was really fighting for. Life would begin to revolve around survival, spontaneous orders and getting the fuck out of whatever trouble you and your team had managed to find yourselves knee deep in.
More often than not, when John had gotten rotated into front line duty, all he would recall later on whilst seated quiet by the other men, was the grit getting in his mouth, clinging to his face and the strain on his body as he pulled too many men away, too many men and too many faces with perforated abdomens and dangling entrails. It had always been the downtime, the reprieve after nightfall that ate at John. It was boredom and it was inactivity and it was exhausting.
(It was the only time John would ever think about the men who died under his watch.)
As a boy, John had grown up watching M*A*S*H on the telly, and he’d seen the situations in the operating theatre, seen the right balmy hours the surgeons were supposedly slogging on for and not once had he thought he’d ever have to understand how it might feel like. It had all been abstract, a show and nothing more.
In Afghanistan, hands deep and amidst the organs of a boy no older than eighteen, he recalls the term that had been used frequently in that old series he’d used to watch – ‘meatball surgery’. And how apt it was. Time didn’t pass the same way, not whilst he was within the confines of the tent serving as the operating room. He’d lose hours, he’d forget how many patients he’s worked on; there was only the routine to follow – find the shredded what-have-you or the shrapnel or the frayed nerves and stitch it back together, no finesse, no elegance, just patch up the poor sod and carry on with the next. It was like a factory, and somehow, that helped the medics to get by.
In Afghanistan, John had been alive.
His life had meant something; there had been something to be alive for. Returning to London had left him gasping for breath and feeling so fucking empty in ways he had never been in the desert. It provided so much time, too much time to dwell on all the things he had compartmentalized on the field; dive headlong into the implications of the trigger he’d pulled that day in the dilapidated building, the mistakes his trembling hands had caused after forty-eight hours of frantic surgery.
He was trained a doctor, forced a soldier, and made an invalid.
These days, John wishes he was back on the field. Young, and reckless and more than anything…whole.
“Keep your eyes fixed on me. Please, could you do this for me?”
The nightmares have never stopped coming. It used to be gunfire and screams of “medic!” and everything that was bleak and hellish about war. It used to be reaching out for a decapitated soldier, a foot away, and then seeing him go up in flames or be blown apart before his eyes. It used to be gore and nausea, desperation and fear, insanity and never leaving this hellhole. It used to be so normal.
John screams himself awake every other night to his throat on fire and a stinging down his cheeks. His heart slams against his ribcage and he cannot breathe. He gasps and gasps for air but it’s never enough, not until his fingers close around the stupid hat he keeps under his pillow and remembers that it’s a dream and death is the reality. Every other night, John scrambles out of the cab, and his phone will be glued to his ear. Every other night, his footsteps will echo on the empty pavement and he will hear his voice. Every other night, John obeys the request and watches in disbelief and horror as that man, the one person who had made him feel like a person again, falls and falls and nothing matters but the blood so stark against the pallor.
He remembers a line from a movie; extrapolates it in his spare time.
Every other night, John tears out his heart. But in the morning it is full again – ready to be cut out once more.
“Bloody hell, John.”
For his sister to greet him in such a fashion and for him to agree; John simply responds with a tight smile.
“Jesu- get in here.” Harriet looks decently sober and alert, which is a lot more than John could possibly say for himself. He knows there are horrible eye bags that make him look like he’s been in the middle of a rather impressive scuffle, he knows he’s lost weight (he doesn’t really want to know how much) and in summary, he’s a complete wreck.
“You’re really… alright with me kipping here for tonight? I just… ”
“John, you can stay here for as long as you need,” she says, uncharacteristically gentle. It’s what happens when she’s the only one he’s run his mouth off to in a moment of vulnerability, spewing everything about Sherlock and what the fucking papers twisted and mutilated. Harriet may not be the brightest, but it wouldn’t have taken a genius to understand all that John wasn’t saying.
“I-I’ll be calling Sarah, from the clinic, tomorrow… try to talk her into giving me back the regular hours. Yeah?”
“Right,” he says, looking around, still feeling completely out of his depth. “Right, then.”
As it turns out, Sarah glares very, very hard at the state he shows up in, narrows her eyes and purses her lips. In his defense, he’s made an effort to wear the most creaseless shirt he owns, along with the most fitted jumper in his duffel bag and shaves with a touch of cologne. Anything short of using make-up, however, would not conceal the exhaustion written plain on his face. But he’s prepared to duke it out with Sarah if necessary; he needs work.
“I would love to, John, but – ”
Bugger fuck. The minute the tone comes along, and that word, that accursed word ‘but’, John knows it’s a lost cause. He swears in his head, or he thinks he does, until he notices a very amused expression taking residence on Sarah’s face. She smiles prettily at him, waiting for more and John coughs.
“I’ve never heard a few of those.”
“New. Never heard of them either until... Erm.”
Sarah pats his hand comfortingly.
“As I was saying, I would love to, John. And I will.”
John’s fairly certain his eyeballing her might be a little creepy. He’s correct.
“On one condition, though.”
(There is a bottle of sleeping pills that now has a permanent spot beside any surface John crashes on.)
The hot shower leaves his cheeks flushed and his mind wonderfully dulled. Belting his robe, John runs a towel roughly over his hair and slings it around his neck as he pads over to his laptop.
Working normal hours at the clinic has been blissfully mind-numbing and John’s more grateful than Sarah will ever know to finally have something to do with his time. He may be overqualified for the dull, mundane patients he sees day in day out, but most anything would be dull and mundane if one has been dragged around like a ragdoll across London to investigate mad men and trigger-happy murderers. (John berates himself after for thinking of his poor patients in such a fashion. Of course he doesn’t wish further ill upon them.) Ergo, John does his best to be more optimistic, and strives to be content with the fact that he now has a job to take his mind away from the debilitating. It’s been an uphill task.
It’s been a month since he encountered that peculiarly intelligent hawk and his list of the bizarre has been woefully stagnant – John tries not to pine for the list to lengthen.
His fingers press down on the button and he watches the screen light up, a familiarity, before puttering about the kitchen for tea. John lets his hands work by rote, steeping the tea for a precise interval ingrained into instinct, opening the Spartan cupboards for a biscuit, shuffling back to the pot…
He’s feeling a lot more settled than he’s ever felt in months by the time he’s seated at the desk, his blog staring back at him. John nibbles thoughtfully at the Digestive, and then takes a sip of Chamomile. The cursor hovers for a minute, maybe two, before John finally clicks on the blank space and lets his fingers run over the keyboard.
It’s his first blog post in over a year.
John scrolls through the archive, and considers the changes in the titles of his blog posts with just a twinge of remorse. Cases, cases, cases… and then the glaringly dull retelling of his daily activities. Happening upon a missing jumper of his is about as interesting as his day gets. The transformation of his posts to a banal diary is rather depressing.
“Stop inflicting your opinions on the world.”
John has to smirk at the memory, and willfully decides to forge on.
Just to spite him.
Anonymous May 1st, 2013 02:00 AM
John expects a decline in comments, and an even sharper decline in readership. But as he scans the numerous remarks left by the kinder folk, bits about being glad to see him writing again, a query here and there as to his health (from those who supported Sherlock), and an occasional snide remark, there’s the one comment that catches his eye. It isn’t a slight against his person, nor against Sherlock, but a statement so condescending about his post, his current life that it freezes John.
The comment keeps him up all night, and troubles him even further when it disappears the following day as he quashes his need to see the blasted thing again for any clues.
Anonymous May 2nd, 2013 02:10 AM
Anonymous May 3rd, 2013 01:45 AM
“You left a comment? You left a comment? Are you out of your mind?”
Lestrade receives a sneer for his hysteria.
“How more obvious must you be? First with the ruddy bird, now a comment so bloody like you - John’s not an idiot, Sherlock.”
“No, he isn’t. But his posts are. They’ve actually managed to get worse,” the man says despairingly. “And I delete them after. Your fit is entirely unnecessary.”
“You agreed, Sherlock. Not until the time is right.”
“It’s the third.”
Lestrade blinks at the overgrown child.
Sherlock stares pointedly past Lestrade’s shoulder and does not answer.
“And I wasn’t speaking to you.” Lestrade’s brows shoot comically close to his hairline and he turns on his heel, fists clenched tight.
“You are such a waste of my blood,” Lestrade mutters under his breath as he storms out of the room.
“Sherlock.” The tone is horribly chastising and disappointed.
“Mycroft. It is the third.”
“It is the third.”
“Yes, and I am pleased that your ability to read a calendar has not been impaired.”
“Mycroft,” he snarls. At the feral sound, his brother finally deigns to lift his head from the paperwork and match Sherlock’s red-eyed glower with a serene look of his own. Mycroft considers the fledgling with an unreadable expression.
“You promised. Thirteen months will have passed come tomorrow.”
Sherlock dislikes the twist to his brother’s lips.
“Yes,” Mycroft finally says after a long pause. “And Anthea has it all arranged.”
Mycroft’s very human personal assistant offers a distracted smile between shuffling papers that Mycroft has signed.
“Of course,” Sherlock murmurs, acerbic.
“You will apologize to Lestrade, won’t you?”
Silver eyes narrow at the deceptively light tone – they both know it is a command rather than a request. Sherlock sulks.
“Won’t you?” Mycroft’s voice is harder now.
“Gregory’s blood doesn’t even taste as pleasant as ash.”
“He’s already mine, Sherlock. Of course it wouldn’t be pleasant on that forked tongue of yours.”
J. H. Watson May 5th, 2013 1:00AM
I am going to kill that bastard.
Morning dawns bright and early and John takes it as an insult.
He rolls himself to the very edge of his mattress and it is only when the alarm beeps like the wretched contraption that it is (he’s left it on snooze, bugger all) that he swings his feet to the cool linoleum floor. Gummy eyes aren’t very helpful as he stumbles around the bed to shut off the blasted clock.
He doesn’t quite realize the time until he is a breath away from being late for work.
John dashes down the stairs two at a time (his limp really is psychosomatic after all), shrugging on his jacket and wrenching open the front door with much more force than is strictly needed, when his body stills on its own accord. Parked by the curb is a sleek and altogether too familiar black Mercedes. The PA he had attempted and failed miserably to flirt with stands ram rod straight beside it, attention fixed on something else (him) rather than that Blackberry for once.
The woman is unfazed.
“By your request, Mr. Watson,” she simply says.
“What? By my requ – No. Look, I’m already late for work and – ”
“Do get in, Mr. Watson,” she says more firmly. And then, almost as an afterthought, adds “Please.”
John stares at her, a million reasons in his head warring against caving in, namely that he is under no fucking obligation to.
The woman’s hand is already moving towards the door handle when John takes out his mobile to call Sarah.
“Will you explain what the hell you meant by ‘by your request’?”
Anthea – he finally recalls her name – raises a perfectly drawn eyebrow, and looks deeply amused. It pisses John off even more.
“That’s a no, then?”
Anthea smiles; John wants to punch something.
The Mercedes pulls up at the Diogenes Club and the white, pristine building with its distinct architecture makes John’s stomach churn with the memories. He remembers all too clearly sprinting into the stuffy, snobbish gentlemen’s club and asking for Mycroft Holmes with his heart pounding against his ribs. He remembers discovering how Sherlock’s older brother had, for a man so staggeringly intelligent, miscalculated and single-handedly offered the ticket to the destruction of his sibling’s reputation.
Mycroft is standing by the black doors of the club when the car slows to a graceful halt. John doesn’t wait for Anthea, brusquely shoving his way out and into open air.
“John. How kind of you to make it,” the man greets amiably. John inclines his head, but says nothing more. To his credit, Mycroft doesn’t miss a beat, gesturing for John to proceed and leads the way in.
The first thing that John notices is the apparent lack of staff at the front desk. The second, and the more obvious, really, is the complete absence of men who would usually be filling the seats of the old, leather armchairs with cups of tea and the newspaper in their wrinkled hands. It is at this point that John expects to be smothered by chloroform or something similar and whisked away to Mycroft’s private room as before.
He is thankfully mistaken.
John follows a step behind Mycroft, down two long corridors, round several corners and silently marvels at the size of the club belied by the façade. He almost misses the fact that Mycroft has come to a complete stop in front of a large, mahogany double-door. Just barely catching himself, John spares a wary glance at the older man. When he makes no move to open the door, John stifles a sigh and takes a step forward – only for a surprisingly strong grip to clench about his wrist.
Mycroft does not meet his questioning gaze, looking instead at the general area of John’s neck.
“Mycroft?” The name is so foreign on his tongue. “What is going on?”
John feels his shoulders tense up, anticipating something when Mycroft closes his eyes, even if for the briefest of moments. This has all been decidedly out of the ordinary and John cannot choke down the wariness.
“Do… try to understand, won’t you, John?” Mycroft says quietly.
“Mycroft,” he says. “Understand, what?”
Mycroft does not answer. He raises his eyes to look John in the eye and the uncharacteristic flurry of emotion causes him to gnash his jaw together. His survival instincts are screaming at him to turn tail and leave because nothing good could possibly come out of this madness.
“Open the door, John.”
And against his better judgment, he obeys.
The room is dimly lit, the furniture in its place, just as it has always been the few times John has had to walk into the lion’s den. This much has not changed.
A foot past the threshold however, and a shiver streaks down his spine; everything that is perfectly normal with the room suddenly feels wrong somehow. John can sense the adrenaline spike; can hear the abrupt thundering of his heart. The quiet voice in his head that has seen him through the war screams bloody murder, but John throws a casual look over his shoulder and sees Mycroft following behind him calmly.
He turns his head and his lips part, a question at the tip of his tongue when a movement to his right catches his attention.
From the armchair that sits before Mycroft’s desk, large and obstructing, a figure rises and swerves itself into view. The warm hues of the lighting casts faint shadows across the contours of the face, lightens the expensive fabric of the elegant suit and… and…
And before John stands a perfect replica of him.
A reflex hammered into his subconscious at a dire cost takes over.
John’s hand flies to the Sig Sauer and gunshots echo at an obscene volume.
He empties the entire clip into the body before him.