Chapter 1: His branching arms are for collecting
They don’t have a name. There was nothing they called each other, nor did they care. Names were not important.
Which was why Sherlock gave himself one. Of course he could’ve given himself something a bit more ironic like ‘Bob’ or ‘Gerry.’ He found he’d rather like the name Sherlock.
He doesn’t bother telling the others about it, of course. It was not like they would care. The humans gave them names, dozens of them. Demon. Monster. Ghoul. The one Sherlock enjoyed the most, because it was so obvious yet so strange, was ‘slender man.’
A nightmare personified was probably the best description anyone could give.
All they want, all they ever will want are children. Their smiles, their laughter, their blood, their teeth, their souls. Some of them spend years coaxing their child closer and closer to them, to finally gobble them up. Others prefer to take a bite, a nibble, before clamping down with teeth. The truly selfish ones don’t bother with preparation and simply take the child from the bed which they slept on.
Sherlock was no different. He had needs just like the others, and yet that was where he was different. He took what was needed, and that was it. No more, no less.
There were plenty of children to go around, so it was not as if jealousy and greed was a common conception in their circle. But many of the slender men gave Sherlock a wide birth. They didn’t understand him, didn’t understand why he chose to be radically different. This was what they did, what they’ve always done.
It was not as if Sherlock hadn’t tried. There was always something stopping him from ever taking that final step.
There was Greg Lestrade for example. Sherlock often played with him in the woods behind his house, simply enjoying the way the young boy took such enthusiastic steps to try to single Sherlock out from the dozens and dozens of trees.
Many slender men follow their children when they move, but when Greg moved, Sherlock let him be. There was no need to follow if he wasn’t planning to take anymore from the boy.
There was also Sally Donovan. The girl sometimes sat up all night, talking to Sherlock avidly about her day, showing him the picture books she’d bring back from school. That all quickly ended when Sally’s older brother corrupted her mind with the thoughts of ‘boogey men.’ Frightened and confused, Sally had called Sherlock a ‘freak’ the next time she saw him, tossing her favorite books right at his head.
The closest he’d ever got to taking a child was Chris Anderson, a snot-nosed boy who liked to aim pebbles at Sherlock’s head with his slingshot.
The moment Sherlock had tried to take him, Anderson began crying. Sherlock found it so pathetic he’d left the boy alone.
Chapter 2: His face is empty of expressions
Sherlock was reluctant to call Mycroft ‘brother’ only because being created from the same nightmare was not the same as being born.
Slender men knew what they were, knew what each other were, but if they happened to cross each other's paths in between the folds of dream and wake, they would simply acknowledge the other’s presence with a fleeting glance.
Mycroft- a name Sherlock had bestowed upon him- did more than glance. He would stop, and watch the others as they work. He always took his sweet time with his child, taking so much time many of his children grew into full fledged adults before he decided to take them.
And he was the only one who tolerated Sherlock’s presence.
They both knew each other was unique and seemed to found a certain solace in that. But it was in the nature of horrors to be solitary creatures and they never stayed in each others’ presence for long. The last time Sherlock saw his ‘brother,’ it was in 1645. It was a scrumptious year as there were many children abandoned by their parents in the height of the witch hunts. Some were even willing to be taken, better with a nightmare than facing a world of disease, torture and false truths.
Mycroft said nothing to him, the necessity of speech long forgone. Instead, he reached out and dragged one hand across Sherlock’s chest.
Sherlock had never been touched, and was startled by the sudden pressure on his torso. He’d nearly leapt back in alarm, unsure if the caress was a threat. There was no such thing as fighting among them.
There was such thing as touching.
Mycroft pulled his hand away, giving no explanation why he did what he did.
Without another look, he stepped into the shadows, along with the children he had harvested, and disappeared.
The next time Sherlock saw him, nearly four hundred years later, Mycroft had but one child in his hand.
A boy. With blonde hair and a chubby face. It was not unusual for slender men to have preferences in their children, what was unusual that this boy was very much alive.
Mycroft has taken nothing from him. Not the boy’s laughter, his tears, his sight, or his essence. He was untouched as the day he was born, his soul bright and full of life.
Mycroft stepped forward. Sherlock nearly leapt back, his hands going up, expecting another confrontation. Mycroft was acting too weird, even for Sherlock’s own tastes.
The child, so warm and small, was suddenly dropped into Sherlock’s outstretched hands.
Immediately Sherlock had to refrain from sucking the child dry. He had not eaten properly in years and the child’s blood was a temptation too much. He slowly twisted the body in his hands, unsure how to distribute the weight, if the head was supported in the right way. The most he had ever taken from Greg or Sally was a dream, a hope, or a wish. Holding this unravished boy was like presenting a buffet to a starving man.
Sherlock nearly dropped the child in surprise as Mycroft’s hand brushed against his chest again. As he pulled away, his finger brushed a lock of hair away from the child’s face.
Mycroft then descended into the shadows, and Sherlock never saw him again.
Chapter 3: He won't let you say good-bye
Betaed by the totallysupermegafoxyawesomehot branwyn.
Sherlock, for the first time in his existence, didn’t know what to do. He had a child in his hands, a boy no older than ten years old.
Did Mycroft mean for Sherlock to eat him? The boy was untouched, not even a bruise marred his skin. He was like a piece of fruit, ready to be plucked.
Oh God, what the hell was Sherlock expected to do now?
Sherlock turned the boy over slowly, feeling out the weight and shifting of the limbs. He was rather a chubby child, with bouncy cheeks and buttoned nose. Not beautiful but… healthy. Strong. This one definitely was a morsel worth having.
The child suddenly stirred and Sherlock nearly dropped him in surprise.
Giant blue eyes blinked sleepily up at him. Sherlock braced himself for the screaming, for the sudden increase of fear in the air. Sherlock didn’t like the screaming and thought he would have to snap the boy’s neck if it ever came to that.
Then the most incredible thing happened. The boy smiled up at him.
Not Greg or Sally ever smiled at him when they first met. Greg kept his distance for months before ever getting the courage to come closer. Sally always hid her smile behind dolls and books and false frowns. Nobody has ever gave him a smile freely, not without suspicion.
“Hi,” said the tired little boy. “I’m John.”
He yawned, mouth opening wide to reveal two rows of growing teeth and pink gums. If he was weak-willed, Sherlock wouldn’t have hesitated in taking those teeth or the screams that would come after. He kept his hands to himself, fascinated by the boy’s sudden trust in him.
John blinked around, staring hesitantly at the darkness. “Is it morning yet?”
Sherlock shook his head.
“Alright,” John murmured. He settled himself more into Sherlock’s hands, seemingly uncaring about the unnatural largeness of said hands, and promptly went back to sleep.
Sherlock held him for a second more. He could feel the child’s dreams, full of light and soft curves, and could so very easily turn them into nightmares if he wanted.
John. Little John, Sherlock decided, would stay unsullied.
Chapter 4: You most certainly will die
Betaed by "But I'm the Captain!" branwyn
Eventually Sherlock returned the little blonde boy back to his bed, his parents never the wiser. Tears of grief and the fear of the unknown was another delicacy Sherlock knew he was depriving himself of, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.
Before he left, Sherlock cut an X into a tree near John’s property, telling other nightmares to back off, this was his territory. Only once or twice had slendermen fought over the same territory, and it never ended well. There was a reason the original settlement of Roanoke was erased from history.
Sherlock was hesitant to return the next day, the memories of Sally and her sudden fear of him still fresh in his mind. He kept to himself, near the edge of the forest, a grand spot to watch John as he played in his backyard.
There were a few times it appeared John had spotted him among the trees, looking at a specific part for long moments. But it seemed he was always looking at something else, like a bird or flying insect. Sherlock kept his distance, content in simply watching.
He’d spent the next two weeks watching John, trying to figure out the boy.
Really, if he wasn’t planning to eat the boy, he should leave. There’s no point in hanging around, especially since Sherlock knew his mere presence caused unnatural disturbances in nature. People were already noticing the sudden influx of dead birds and patches of dead soil.
He did try, a few times. He snacked on a forgotten hope from a nine year old in Japan. He then stood in a thirteen year old’s bedroom for two hours, drinking in the fear from the girl who refused to leave her spot from underneath her blankets.
When he had enough to sustain him for another week or so, Sherlock found himself back in the forest near John’s house.
And to his surprise, despite the fact that it was nearly three in the morning, John was playing around in his backyard.
The boy was afraid of many things, Sherlock observed. He didn’t like snakes, or bees, or the large dog from down the street. (The dog Sherlock immediately killed once he learned John was afraid of it.)
And yet it seemed John was fearless. He’d never back down from a fight, he wasn’t afraid of the sight of blood (fascinated by it, really) and despite his fear of the now dead neighbor’s dog, he’d always scared it off if it came too close to him or his sister.
Tonight, John played in his backyard with the moon as his only light source. Earlier in the day he had fought with his sister for sharing rights of the swing set. She refused to share and once she relented, it had started to rain.
Despite the wet grass and possibly still wet seat, John sat on his little swing and contently swung himself back and forth. Not exactly someone who walked to the beat of their own drum, but knew what he wanted and was willing to break the rules to get it.
Sherlock watched him for a few minutes, unsure if he should make his presence known.
John however, seemed to have been born with a sixth sense. At some point in his play, he felt someone was watching him and slowed his swinging to look around.
He spotted Sherlock immediately.
Last time John had laid eyes on him, the boy was half-asleep. Though that was no excuse (even in dreams children ran from him) Sherlock played the smile off as an accident.
The smile that was being given to him now was no accident.
“I remember you,” John said, taking a flying leap off his swing. He landed, tumbled for a moment in the wet grass, and ran over to the edge of his wooden fence. “You’re still here?”
No hesitation, no fear. Despite the darkness, the boy’s soul burned brightly.
John squinted at him. “Can you come closer?”
Sherlock only hesitated for a second. Slowly, he moved away from the cover of the trees, drawing himself to his full height. He didn’t know why he did such a thing, when he knew even at 6’5 he scared people off.
He walked closer to the fence, waiting for the moment John suddenly screams at him and runs.
As Sherlock got closer, John’s eyes grew wider.
At 7’8, there’s no mistaking Sherlock for anything but a supernatural creature. At this height people have ran from him. Many simply die on the spot, their hearts unable to take the sight before them.
Sherlock doesn’t know if it was because of John’s age or simply because it was just John. A mere five feet away from the edge of the fence, the boy hanged off as he stretched his neck out, staring up at the tall monster.
“Wow,” he said almost nonchalantly. “You’re tall.”
Sherlock doesn’t giggle. Nightmares have no mouths, it was impossible, but he does make a sound and it resembled that of a low flying airplane while a trumpet was steamrolled to death.
John clapped his hands against his ears. “Owwwwww!” He whined, wincing.
So, he wasn’t immune to everything Sherlock was and is. Still, he was a fascinating little boy.
In apology, Sherlock brushed a single lock of hair away from John’s head. John lowered his hands away from his head, and he reached up to grab at the long, protruding finger.
He giggled, and it was like bells.
Thus it became Sherlock’s nightly ritual, coming around to John’s backyard to see him. Many days John couldn’t find the time to come outside to greet his tall friend face-to-face. During those days, John waved to him from his bedroom window, or simply left it open for Sherlock to step through.
There were a few close calls in which his parents entered the room, wondering why their son was still talking to his imaginary friend at two in the morning. Neither of them took a better look at the darken corner, or else they would’ve noticed the tall man standing there.
For nearly a month, beyond the occasional doe falling dead for no reason, the neighborhood and town John Watson lived in was quiet.
And then the murders began.
Chapter 5: He will wander around your home
Warnings: Depictions of dead children in this chapter.
Betaed by "Attention mes amis, regardez vouz Bear Polar" branwyn.
Ten year old Bobby was eventually found near the edge of town, a good five miles from his home. The last time he was saw alive, he was riding his bike down the dirt hills next to his primary school. It was a well known area, plenty of other kids played there.
It was public. It was safe.
Sherlock smelled the new death wafting in the wind. Fresh and young and filled with so much pain. Not even he could resist tasting the remnants of the murder right out of the air, the last screams and final thoughts.
There was no doubt in anybody's mind this was murder; the stab wounds were as clear as day. As soon as the news of Bobby's sudden death got around, the whole town was trembling with fear. Children had died in the town before; just last summer six year old Annie Jones was stung to death by hornets, forcing the parents to remind their kids to keep out of the surrounding forest. However, this was first in the town's history of a child being murdered.
And nobody knew who did it. No fingerprints, no murder weapon, no motive the police could see. The attack was too violent to be random, yet the family had no history of wrong doings to illicit such a horror against them.
John's parents, like any other concerned adult, took to the murder very seriously. They began neighborhood watches, walked their children to and from school every day, and began to suspect any stranger that drove down their street.
But because Bobby's unfortunate ending had occurred on the other side of town, Mr. and Mrs. Watson thought they were relatively safe and had not forbidden John or Harry from playing in their own backyard unsupervised.
John knew something was wrong. He heard something happened to a kid- a good ten miles from his house- and now everybody was upset. His parents refused to tell him what had happened, what had made them so nervous. Instead, they told John to beware of strangers and not to go wandering around in places he did not know. He was forbidden to stay outside after dark and was warned to keep away from the forest.
That didn't stop John from jumping his fence the moment he was allowed outside.
John never really cared much for the woods, not since the poison oak incident two years ago. Now that he had a totally cool friend who lived there, he loved the woods.
The moment John was far enough into the tree line, he immediately scanned the surrounding areas. If he took too long to find his friend, he would be tapped on his shoulder, or tickled on his side by a long finger protruding from somewhere.
That was one of the many unique things about Sherlock, John found. His fingers could literally go up any water pipe, pop out at any faucet. Despite he was almost as tall as a house, he could fit himself in the tiniest of places. John sometimes found him hiding in the medicine cabinet or in between the spaces of his bookshelves.
It was so wonderful and magical, it was like beings friends with a wizard.
Still... that was not to say John didn't notice a few queer details.
Like the nightmares.
John was not prone to nightmares. He sometimes dreamt he was lost or couldn't speak, though those dreams were not particuarly frightening. At worst, John woke up frustrated and restless.
When he dreamed about Sherlock, he woke up crying.
He could never remember what he dreamt about, no matter how hard he'd try. All he could do was dry his tears and wait for his heart to stop beating so fast. He just knew Sherlock was involved somehow.
It was silly to think so ill of someone so cool. Sherlock has been nothing but awesome towards him and John wasn't about to end a friendship over something silly and trivial like a dream.
Today's game: tag.
John loved this game. The ducking and weaving through the woods, jumping over fallen logs and running through bushes. From behind he could hear a loud whistling of Sherlock's long hands coming after him.
Just his hands, as it seems he was incapable of actual running. John didn't mind, this was more challenging, and he squealed happily as he ducked underneath one finger, swiping low to catch him.
John has never been in this far into the woods. In the past he would worry, unsure if he could find his way back. Nowadays he could rely on Sherlock to show him the way and often threw his sense of direction into the wind and ran where he pleased.
He really should've watch where he was going.
Just as John took a sharp turn to avoid a finger, he tripped, took a tumble over a fallen dead tree and went right over the edge of a small cliff.
Rather, a very steep hill. He rolled down, banging his knees and elbows on every stupid branch he passed by. By the time he skidded to a stop, the knees of his trousers were ripped open, his shirt was torn, and he was bleeding from dozens of little cuts.
John closed his eyes painfully, determined not to cry. "Ow... Ow, ow ow... Sherlock," he sniffled, quickly wiping his face. "Sherlock, you there?" He opened his eyes.
In front of him, propped up against a tree, was a dead little girl.
John cried out, scrambling backwards. His feet dug into the loose earth, unsuccessfully pushing himself nowhere. "Sherlock!" he yelled out. "SHERLOCK!"
The girl looked to be no older than John. She was sitting against the tree like she decided to rest there, with her hands delicately placed on her lap. Her head was twisted to one side, revealing the deep cut across her throat. Her cute little green dress was soaked through with blood.
John surged to his feet, climbing the hill as fast as he could. He slipped and slid, found his footing and kept climbing. "Sherlock! Sherlock!"
Chapter 6: Blends in well within the trees
Betaed by that infamous Hogwarts jaguar branwyn.
I got fan art!! http://fav.me/d5gyug1
Warning: Depictions of a dead child.
John should not see him around other children.
The smell of the dead girl would have spurred him into a frenzy and that was a sight Sherlock knew he should keep from the small boy. Watching a pack of lions eat a gazelle was nothing in comparision.
Sherlock watched as John climbed the steep hill, calling out his name and being ignored. The boy kept sliding back down, unable to gain his footing right. There was a moment in which John turned back to glance at the girl, as if to make sure she was still there. An aborted wail came out of his mouth and he turned back, more determined to climb the hill.
Sherlock waited till John was out of sight.
The corpse was fresh, rigor mortis barely setting in. Not even the blood staining the girl's dress had dried. The cut was so deep she might have well been decapitated.
Sherlock moved closer, trying desperately to keep his limbs from trembling. The sight was almost too good to resist. Well why should he? He hasn't had a good meal in months, he should have what was laid out in front of him.
He reached out to touch.
Sherlock reared back from the girl so fast, the trees around him shook violently. Very rarely in all his existence has he ever been surprised, let alone someone sneaking up on him.
Stepping out from the trees came a man. He was tall, skinny, his hair brushed back neatly. Nothing about him distinguished him from the millions of men on Earth, or the billions Sherlock had met before.
In the man's left hand he carried a long pointed knife, designed to slice through thick pieces of butcher meat. The knife and his hand was red with blood.
"You're here," the man said again, stepping closer. His voice was tinged with awe. "I knew you would come but I didn't realise so soon." He walked closer and closer, his blood stained hands held up, reaching out.
"I'm Jim," he said.
Sherlock has never been in a situation like this before. In the past, humans have tried to appeal to him by sacrificing their animals or their fellow villagers. It was all rather pointless. You can't appeal to a nightmare any more than you can appeal to the weather. Watching these morons trying to decide who was the better sacrifice, a newborn or a virgin woman, provided endless entertainment.
However, none has ever dared to come close. Especially not in the way this Jim was coming towards him.
Sherlock was fascinated to see what he would do next.
Jim licked his lips. "I did this... for you," he gestured to the little girl. "She is perfect and she's all yours. Please... eat. Help yourself."
Jim made no movement to leave. Any other would have ran. John ran. This man, he wanted to watch, to see.
Sherlock slowly moved closer to the girl, his elongated hands stretching out. Jim trembled in excitement, his eyes huge, taking in everything he saw. Just as Sherlock stroked one finger over the girl's cheek, off in the distance, a voice echoed high above the trees.
Sherlock pulled back abruptly, curling his hand away.
Jim had heard John too, his head tilting to catch the last of the echoes. He blinked, confused. "What's the matter?"
No, if John came back with the proper authorities and there was no body to be found, John would be punished. Sherlock would not put such a burden on his small friend.
Jim awkwardly came forward, gesturing to the girl, still trying entice Sherlock to eat it. "Please, go on. If you want more, I can give you more!"
What a fascinating little man. But Sherlock was not here to impress humans. He had to make sure John got home safe.
Sherlock shifted in between the realms, disappearing so quickly it was like he was never there. The last thing he heard was Jim's anguish cry of betrayal.
John's mother got upset when he asked what the name of the girl was.
She shook her head and tried changing the subject. When that didn't work, she sent him to his room.
John sat on his bed and listened as his mother and father argued downstairs. They kept accusing each other of not watching John when they were supposed to. What if it was John's body the police found in the woods? It could have easily been him and nobody would have been the wiser.
Apparently nobody noticed John was missing for nearly three hours.
John bent his legs in, resting his chin on his knees. He couldn't get the image of that little girl out of his mind. Every time he blinked, all he saw was her pale face, bent brokenly to the side.
He wondered what her name was. Did she cry for her mummy and daddy near the end? How scared was she? How awful the thought was, dying alone in the woods and knowing no one was coming to help you, no matter how much you begged or pleaded.
This was going to give him nightmares for the rest of his life, John just knew it.
John's shoulders tensed up, the feeling of being watched suddenly itching over his skin. He lifted his head miserably. Sherlock was standing in the farthest corner of his room, quietly observing him.
For a few seconds, John was overwhelmed with emotion, so glad to see his friend and knowing Sherlock had not left him forever.
The relief was short lived and suddenly John was livid. He threw himself off his bed to stand in front of Sherlock, uncaring if tears ran freely down his face. "Why?" John wailed. "Why did you leave me there?"
Sherlock doesn't answer.
This only angered John further. "Do you even care? About me? What about that girl? I had to leave her there, all by herself! I had to- I don't even know her name..." He sobbed, dipping his head down. "She must've been so scared... so, so scared..."
He doesn't bother to smother his crying. His trust in his best friend was broken. His trust of his parents keeping him safe was broken. The world around him was suddenly darker, uglier, and it was only going to get worse.
John felt the sofest tickling touch across his forehead, brushing aside a few strands of hair. He knew this was Sherlock's way of apologizing but it wasn't enough. John lifted his tear streaked face at him. "Why?" he hiccuped.
The door to the room swung opened. "John?" His mother said, entering the room. "What's wrong sweetie, is-"
John turned to answer her, but she wasn't looking at him. She stared past him, at the tall faceless man in her son's room. The moment hanged in the air as she tried desperately to get her mouth to work, to voice the horror that was fogging her mind.
Finally, something snapped and she screamed.
She took a step back as if ready to run, and her eyes casted downward, back on John. An ingrained instinct to protect her child kicked in and she rushed forward, sweeping John up in her arms, crushing him against her chest."Get away from him!" She cried hysterically. "GET AWAY!"
Without another look, she twisted and ran out of the room, ignoring her son's protests.
Chapter 7: Dressed in darkest suit and tie
Betaed by, "That's bullshit, Snape!" branwyn.
Warning: Gore and implied/graphic description of torture.
John woke to the sensation of a finger stroking his face.
He blinked, expecting to see his room. Instead of the familiar sight of his train lamp, or the posters of snow boarding on his wall, Harry's sleeping form was what greeted him.
Right. The hotel.
It was a nice hotel room, John supposed. The beds were huge, the sheets were clean, and the flat screen television got channels he's never seen before. Mum even allowed him and Harry to get whatever they wanted from the mini-fridge. That was great. It just wasn't home. The sheets smelled different, the food tasted different. They only drove about an hour away from his house and suddenly it felt like he was in a whole new world.
John sat up, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. At his movement, Harry shifted and pulled the blankets more around her. His parents, who slept on the other bed, did not stir. The digital clock on the night stand proclaimed it was two-fifty in the morning.
John peered into the darkness. It took a minute for his eyes to adjust.
He didn't greet Sherlock when he finally spotted him. Instead, he held a finger up to his lips and pointed to the bathroom.
As quietly as he could, he maneuvered off the bed, hissing lightly as cold air bit at his toes. He shuffled towards the loo.
The moment he turned on the light, his mother raised her head. "Mmm... John?"
"Pee," he said as explanation.
She nodded sleepily and laid her head back down. "Remember to wash your hands..."
On any other day, John would have bugged Sherlock, demanding he tell him how he was able to get to the bathroom before John did. At the moment though, John didn't care. Couldn't bring himself to care.
John closed the door behind him and turned to face Sherlock. He took a shuddering breath. "Mum says you're a monster."
Sherlock said nothing.
"She tries to cover my eyes when she and dad watch the news. There's been seven more kids since we left home. All of them... like that little girl. Mum says you're the reason why this is happening. You're the one killing them."
For the first time in his existence, Sherlock felt fear pooling deep inside of him. It wasn't natural, he was a nightmare incarnate, he should be inflicting chaos on the world. Instead, here was, in a hotel barely charging fifty pounds a night, and he was deadly afraid John would think of him as a monster.
John shook his head. "Dad doesn't believe you exist, nor did the police. When mum tried to get me to tell the truth.." He swallowed. "I lied."
Relief so great and so grand bloomed within Sherlock, halting the fear inside. John didn't believe he was a monster. John didn't believe he was to be... hated.
"I don't like that, Sherlock," John said, scrunching up his face. "I don't like letting my mum think she's crazy. I don't like that look in her eyes. I'm so confused. Please, Sherlock, I... I know you're not human. I always thought of you like Superman. You can do anything and go anywhere... so why couldn't you help those kids?"
There was a knock at the door. "Johhhhny..." Harry's sleepy voice echoed through. "You done? I need to wee..."
John reached over and flushed the toilet. "You should probably go," John said, backing away towards the door. "I don't want Harry or my mum to see you."
By the time John touched the doorknob, Sherlock was already gone.
Sherlock chose not to eat his chosen children because they held the ability to surprise him. He would never dare get rid of someone if they had the potential to show him something new. Had John been less curious, less brave, more fearful, Sherlock would have never hesitated in eating him.
Sherlock didn't stop those deaths because he didn't care. What made these children any more important than the millions he's seen over the centuries? Children have died in far worse situations than at the hands of a murderer. Dying was what children did and they did it often.
Sherlock only permitted Jim to carry on his killing spree because the little man amused him. Jim still believed with every new death, he could actually summon a nightmare. He ramped up his game by expanding his territories, finding new creative ways of inflicting pain. Sherlock believed the last child actually became shoes.
Sherlock hadn't seen the humans of this land so panicked since the days of the Ripper. It provided endless entertainment.
Sherlock didn't care, he still doesn't. But having John judge him for not trying was... not good. Perhaps it was time to put a stop to all of this before it got worse. His relationship with John was already treading on thin ice.
Without a second thought, Sherlock flung himself back to John's sleepy little town to put a halt to Jim's schemes.
Everything was silent.
Sherlock had expected many things, but silence was not one of them. He expected blood, bodies, death and decay. Instead what he found was nothing. There were no new bodies, no reports of missing children. It was like Jim himself fell off the face of the Earth.
The killings had stopped and no one knew why.
It didn't make any sense. A man like Jim did not stop, his actions would have kept escalating until he was caught or killed. He obviously wasn't caught, so he must be dead.
That left a bitter taste in Sherlock's mouth. It was too easy of an answer. On any other day, he would have reveled at this, that Jim had surprised him yet again. It should've been cause for celebration, instead it felt like the eye of a storm.
For two weeks the silence reigned on and it was deafening. Sherlock kept a steady vigilance, opening his senses wide and far to pick up on Jim's movement yet nothing came back to him. The silence went on for so long, adults on John's old neighboorhood were already letting their kids back out on the street.
The stupidity level of these people made Sherlock want to raze this whole town just on principle.
Something however did break through the silence. It wasn't Jim, just a voice carrying on the wind.
The voice was small and female. Definitely not Jim. Sherlock would have ignored it except when it called out again, Sherlock recognized it immediately.
After the hotel, John's family took refuge at their grandparents' place and that's where they'd been for the past two weeks. Learning from his mistake with John's mother, Sherlock kept his distance and had only checked on his friend once.
Today, a police cruiser sat outside of the house while concerned neighbors looked on.
Sherlock found Harry in the garden. She was alone while the adults were inside, talking to the police. John was nowhere in sight.
"Tall Man," Harry cried out into the sky. She would pause, look around and cry out again, "Tall Man!"
Sherlock was unsure of revealing himself to Harry. She was much younger than John, much more impressionable. He did not have the confidence she could handle looking upon him as easily as John did.
Except as Harry yelled out for him again, nearly sobbing, Sherlock stopped caring.
Harry gave a wet gasp when she saw him. She stumbled back, fell on her bottom and immediately pissed herself. "You-you-you-you..." She sputtered. She glanced back to the house, as if contemplating running back in.
Determination settled into her face. Biting her small lip, Harry awkwardly pushed herself up off the ground. Due to her shaking limbs, she fell twice back on her knees. By the third try, she stood strong. "I know you and Johnny talk. I hear him at night. A-are you his friend?"
Harry wiped at her eyes. "John went missing this morning."
At her words, trees practically exploded as every single bird in a mile radius took off in fear. The sky was darkened with angry, confused birds and many of them collided with each other, falling to their deaths. Harry cried out, covering her head while dead birds landed around her.
"Go find him!" Harry screamed at him, ignoring the banging sounds of falling birds striking against roofs and cars. "Find him!"
It didn't take a genius to understand what happened. But apparently it would have taken a genius to have seen this coming. There were so many clues, so many warnings, how did Sherlock managed to ignore them all?
Jim was an idiot. He may have eluded Sherlock, but the moment he took John he signed his own death warrant. It didn't matter where on earth John was. He could be in the darkest depths of the ocean, the farthest star of the universe or in the space between spaces- Sherlock would still find him.
His search doesn't take him far. Near the edges of London sat an old, abandoned chocolate factory. Sherlock supposed Jim thought it would be ironic: a child-eating monster in a chocolate factory. It was so obvious it was painful to acknowledge it.
Once upon a time Sherlock thrived in buildings like these. Teenagers flocked to them like flies, wanting to see a ghost or engage in inappropriate behaviour. The walls were covered in graffiti, the floors boards rotted through. Glorious fun it was, watching these teens run aimlessly through these halls, desperate to get away from him.
Somewhere on the third floor, Sherlock found John tied to a chair.
Jim made the effort to place John in the middle of a large room so it was impossible not to see him. John was blindfolded and shoeless, for some odd reason. The boy was calm, his breath concentrated to keep from panicking. An occasional tremor would wrack his body, and he would grit his teeth each time it did. Brave John.
"I don't get it."
Jim was off to the side, leaning against a broken door frame. In one hand he held a large knife, clean and freshly sharpened. It was a no-brainer what he planned to do with that. "Why him?" he said sourly. "He is nothing."
Sherlock cut through the rope binding John. John immediately reached up to rid of the blindfold but Sherlock halted his movements. Instead, he moved John's hands to his ears, then tapped them twice, indicating to keep them there.
John immediately frowned and pressed down harder on his ears.
Sherlock turned to Jim.
"I would have given you anything," Jim kept saying, almost begging now, like he knew what was about to come next. "I would have done anything you asked of me. Just tell me why, why does this boy have your attention and I don't?"
Jim was a mystery Sherlock knew he would regret never solving. There were so many questions, so much potential to tap into. Such a waste.
Sherlock took a moment to look back at John to see if he was keeping his ears and eyes covered. He did.
Sherlock turned back to Jim and went to work.
The very first thing he did was remove Jim's eyelids. He wanted to make sure this human saw everything being done to him, have the image burned into his brain. Jim brought his hands up, covering his eyes as if that would help. He was too stunned to scream and he stumbled back, falling on his arse.
He opened his mouth and with one swipe, Sherlock pulled out all of his teeth, leaving behind only the molars.
That was when the screaming began.
John cupped his ears as hard as he could yet he could still hear the horrors happening. The gurgling noises, the snapping, the scraping, the constant splattering. John could not keep himself from shaking.
It only lasted a minute.
Once it was done, once Jim was nothing more than a splatter on the floor, Sherlock tapped John on the shoulder, allowing him to lower his hands.
John doesn't bother to check the place where Jim once was. He knew he was gone forever, as if he'd never been born. "He-he-he-he told me things..." John admitted, his face scrunching as tears ran freely down his face. "He told me what he planned to d-d-d-do to m-me..."
Suddenly Sherlock wished he had made it last longer. He would have made it last for hours if John wasn't present. But the deed was done and there was nothing more than to throw Jim into the back of their brains and carry on with their lives.
Obviously John didn't think so. Now that the danger was over, John was shaking like a leaf. He wrapped his arms around himself, sobbing uncontrollably.
Sherlock didn't know what to do. He tried touching John, pressing his fingers against his cheek but the boy flinched away, wailing. "I'm sorry!" He immediately apologized. "It's not you! It's not... p-please...!"
Sherlock curled his hands away, upset. He knew he poisoned the very earth he stood on. He hadn't known his touch did the same.
Outside, the noise of police sirens came near. Props for them for figuring out where Jim's hideout was, too bad by the time they got here, it would have been too late. Morons.
John snapped his head up at the sound. "You should go," he sniffled, his bravado taking root once more. "I don't want them to t-think this was y-you."
A few minutes later police stormed the building, checking every room, every closet. John tried to meet them halfway but Sherlock stopped him, touching his feet to remind him he was still shoeless. Once they got near, Sherlock melted into the background.
Then the most incredible thing happened.
Greg, little Greg, walked into the room. Except he wasn't so little now, his hair gone grey and wrinkles lining his face. Greg was no longer a boy, but a man in his fifties. Had it been really that long since Sherlock last saw him?
The moment Greg spotted John, great relief poured out of him. "I found him!" He said into his radio. He kneeled down in front of John, asking him if he was alright, asking him where Jim was.
"I don't know," John sniffled "He left and didn't come back."
Sherlock watched from the second story window as Greg carried John out in his arms. Greg wasn't the only one present. Sally was there as well, and she took John from Greg's arms, easing the boy gently into the police cruiser.
Sherlock didn't know what this meant. Why were his children here? The odds of them all coming together like this was astronomical and should never have happen. It didn't make any sense.
Sally suddenly stiffened like she felt him watching her. She glanced up, right at his window and Sherlock immediately backed away. She didn't need to see him.
Sherlock... felt broken. When he first met John he had decided he would stay unsullied. That didn't happen and every thing Sherlock did made it worse. He could see the little black spot on John's soul, just like he could see the same black spot on Greg's and Sally's.
He knew he couldn't be around John anymore.
It wasn't just John. He was tired of this. He was tired of coming to the same conclusion over and over and he knew it was never going to change. He didn't want to hurt John anymore. He didn't want any of this anymore.
Sherlock always knew his end was coming, he just didn't know how. He thought someone would find a way to finally destroy him or perhaps the all powerful creator of this world would snuff him out like the failed experiment he was. He never came to the conclusion it would be done by his own hand.
Sherlock waited till he felt John, Sally and Greg leave, their souls drifting away like the flickering lights of a passing aeroplane.
Waited, then in a blink of a second, Sherlock became nothingness.
He had thought about leaving something behind, to tell John what had happened and decided against it. There was no point.
Nightmares were meant to be forgotten.