Sherlock Holmes was eleven when Mummy went missing from Holmes Manor. None know why, if she got lost (as he himself had once suggested at that tender age) was kidnapped (as Mycroft thinks but never said until Sherlock heard him muttering about ransom notes that never came) or run away as Father stated only once. That was the day Daddy became Father, Lord of Holmes Manor. Sherlock does not speak to his Father, considers himself his mother's son, and so disowned himself - keeping only his name, for there is no record of birth for his Mummy only her name as Sherlock knew it - Lady Lockaey Holmes.
Mycroft looked for Mummy for years, so long that Sherlock thinks Mycroft has forgotten how to do anything else for running the Government is a way of looking for Mummy; always Sir Mycroft Holmes knows where she isn't.
Sherlock looked for Mummy in his own way, by mystery and reasoning and observing. It's as good as magic, Mummy had told him with a sly smile as she taught him. Sherlock does not question that there is magic, he has seen it, observed it, real and true magic. Mummy's magic, and Sherlock knows by that bond of mother-son that he would know if she were hurt, or...gone forever.
He helps others find out things if they ask, it wasn't always the answer they had been looking for. Sherlock thinks they should be grateful for any answer at all, they have a answer - he and Mycroft and Father do not. He refuses to think that they never will, he will not give up.
Yet now that he's grown up, Sherlock Holmes demands that the questions asked of him interest him, either professionally or personally; or at the very least, that he is paid for the work he does. That Mycroft insists upon - that, Sherlock can agree with, for Mummy would approve too.
Sherlock prefers not to be reminded of his roots, he avoids manor houses and nobles of most nations. They would know about Mummy. He takes a flat in busy bustling London, with it's people and it's problems - some days, he can forget Mummy, and some days when it is too hot, or chilled and foggy and paints the windows with frost (as his Mummy's windows always were, no matter the season), he remembers and it wrecks him for weeks.
The day he meets John Watson, he is beating a dead body (in a morgue, perfectly legal, he's got the papers)- it isn't, in fact the worst impression he's ever made. It is the most memorable. John Watson has seen worse, he's been in the wars, he is a doctor. He has night terrors, he misses the war.
He's looking for a roommate with a flat. Sherlock takes him up on it - and Mycroft smugly approves, in his own way, offering payment for "keeping up with" Sherlock and the sharing of information. John may not grasp Mycroft's meaning, but Sherlock would be blind not to. Sherlock is many things - but not blind.
It's how he spots Moriarty, like a great big spider sitting on a web that spans the world. And Sherlock can not help but think, that, at long last - this is the clue he's been looking for, a clue Mummy left for him to follow.Sherlock can not help looking for those faint but glimmering threads of the web. He can not help but hope. As formidable as Moriarty must be, he is but Mummy's minion - if he is a clue to Mummy at all. Sherlock does not know, and he must find it out, so he must hold tightly to his hope and use it to keep his eyes upon Moriarty.
Sherlock, of course, does not share the clue with Mycroft (who might already know, might not, who has never shared with Sherlock all he does not or does know). Yet he can not keep John Watson in the dark. Not utterly, it smacks of betrayal of their trust; the loyalty John keeps to him is that of a solider. He calls him friend, and Sherlock has never really had one before - but he would like to keep John.
So when Dr. John Watson asks "Why can't you let him go, Sherlock?" after they nearly get blown up and or shot (or both; yet neither happened) by Moriarty; Sherlock thinks carefully of his answer, or if he should answer at all.
"It isn't that he's my equal, John. It isn't that he and I share a genius for crime, no, it's deeper." Sherlock knows that Moriarty is not nearly so smart as Mycroft, not nearly so clever as Sherlock. Means nothing in comparison to finding Mummy.
John is one for words, and Sherlock is not. He sinks down onto the floor, crossing legs and folding his arms under his chin, closing his eyes so he can think of the right words. Words that will let John understand him, understand this, and why.
“I have been looking for something that is lost, for a very long time. Like a puzzle, or a lock. And he…may have the key.” Sherlock thinks those are the right words, the words closest to his heart. John frowns down at him, he hasn’t said get off the floor, or what you are doing (as if it isn’t as obvious as what it looks like) he is taking this as seriously as Sherlock.
“Is that why you do what you do, your looking for something too?” Sherlock looks to the skull, thinking of wicked green eyes, sly smiles, and fair skin – dark hair, thick and lush like his own. He is forgetting his Mummy’s face. Father burnt all her pictures years ago; the family painted portrait had not been spared. Not even Mycroft can find her face. Sherlock likes to think that if he saw her, he would know his Mummy no matter the years.
“We all are looking for something, John.” Sherlock unfolds from sitting, he stands and goes to his room, determined to draw what he recalls most vividly of Mummy’s features, before he forgets. He can not, must not ever forget.
It would be the worst crime in the world, and he would never forgive it.The thing is, Sherlock does not remember Mummy as Mycroft remembers Mummy. He knows what his brother sees when he sets Sherlock on the trail of Irene Adler. There are too many similarity and it is eerie, like looking in a fun house mirror. She does not merely threatens the Government, the stability and structure Mycroft has built - she is nature and law unto herself. Sherlock likes that about her, sees it in himself, and has seen it in his Mummy and Mycroft.
Sherlock has no particular hang-ups with being nude, he has sat by a giggling John in the house of the Government in not but a sheet. Nor does he see a particular interest in the nudity of others, be they women or men. He simply does not see nudity as being "naughty" as Irene Adler would call it, she who greets him with a smile and nothing else.
There is something she has that isn't awakened in Sherlock, and he knows it, puzzles over it, even as he observes her. Sex, sexuality, sensuality, sin. He sees it all the time, he simply doesn't understand it as others seem to grasp.
Mycroft has told him he is too young, that Mummy's boys age quick in the mind and slow in other ways. Perhaps they never will be whole, and it isn't important, because Mummy was the same, not quite sane, and they are the same as she. They aren't alone, and will never be lonely (although there are days which Sherlock calls his brother his arch enemy and means it, plotting his downfall and that of his beloved Government as if it may well be life or death).
Still, there is a likeness between Mummy and Irene that Sherlock does not deny. Can not deny. Irene can, could, should disappear like Mummy, and it gulls Mycorft to no end. Mycroft wouldn't be able to tell if she were alive or dead if she did not want it found out, even with his Goverment games. Irene - like Mummy - is a law unto herself.
Mycroft would like her gone, would like her dead or simply dealt with so long as his Goverment runs as smoothly as a well oiled machine.
Sherlock wants to know if Irene Adler has ever heard of his Mummy.
"Well?" Irene prompts him in his silence, as he sits and stares. He can't read her smile. John Watson, a doctor, a soldier, willingly flees before her. Sherlock knows he is dealing with someone formidable.
"My brother would like the photos in your possession." Her laugh is short, sudden to start and sudden to stop. Sherlock thinks he has caught her off guard, that he perhaps surprised her.
"And you, what do you want?" Sherlock tilts his head, frowning.
"Information, but it is unlikely you have it, or know you have it." Sherlock shrugs, and her eyes narrow at his dismissal as if he'd slapped her.
"Mr. Holmes, I know secrets like you know the how and why of mysteries - like your bother knows his mind and memory. Like the Lady Lockaey knows lies and magic." Sherlock sees his expression in the mirror, wide eyed and stunned silent.
Irene stands, fluid grace. Sherlock may not know sexuality, but he knows intimacy, knows what is attractive and pleasing.
"Yes, I know all about Mummy." Irene leans into Sherlock's face, and whispers in his ear. Her eyes are very green, and old.
"Do you want to know a secret?" Sherlock sits very still, barely breathing, and nods letting Irene's lips touch the shell of his ear.
"Your Mummy is mine too." In the mirror Irene smiles, in familiarity, and Sherlock can not help but think how similar he looks to her, how alike. They think alike too - all three of them.
"Where is she." The woman, he will call her ever after, the woman who knows all his secrets, his sister.Irene doesn't get the chance to answer, before the CIA break-in, and Sherlock has to use her measurements to open a safe - there is a trap, of course there is a trap - it goes embarrassingly badly after, and Sherlock ends up waking with a phone that has a personalized text sound effect: the woman, sighing. Everyone, of course, gets the wrong idea (or the right one, being as it is the one which Irene wants to play and portray).
There can be no doubt, though, that Irene is working with Moriarty. Sherlock does not know why, only that it means he is on the right road. He gets her phone, because she sends it to him. He feels several steps behind her, and he knows this is her way of getting back at him, at doubting her to know what secrets she keeps.
She lures John away in to a warehouse like Mycroft, and Sherlock follows, because he is his friend, and she is his sister. He doesn't yet know what that means, but he is learning.
Yet again the CIA get in the way, and Sherlock does not feel the lest bit bad about sending a agent through the window.
The code is one of his brother's own, the MOD, the Goverment, and his brother should not be keeping secrets - least of all from Sherlock (and their sister, though Mycroft does not know that yet).
Mycroft, of course, knows the moment the code is cracked, perhaps he has been waiting for Sherlock to do just this. They are whisked away to Heathrow Airport where Mycroft awaits.
It unravels as Government secrets often do. If Irene means for Sherlock to be impressed with her efforts to gain the upper hand over his elder brother, he must admit he is. It's a good plot, and he doesn't think it done yet. So he lets her go her own way, refusing her false plea for protection. Mycroft will not watch her too closely. Sherlock will.
John tells him she is in America, under witness protection. It's a cover Mycroft would protect him with. His big brother thinks she lost her head to a executioner in Karachi. Irene, he knows, is looking for Mummy in all the places Sherlock would be lost in, and Mycroft wouldn't know.Project H.O.U.N.D. changes everything. Twenty years ago there were experiments between five scientists, Leonard Hansen. Jack O'Mara. Mary Uslowski. Rick Nader. Elaine Dyson. They played with fear and terror as toys, weapons. Sherlock knows that Mycroft has been keeping secrets and these run deep as their shared blood. Twenty years ago was when Mummy went away and never came back.
With Mycroft involved it is not hard to follow that Father was financing this project.
Sherlock is afraid, very afraid, of what he might find. That Mummy might be dead, that Mycroft might very well be his arch-enemy after all. He is getting close, and closer all the time. Yet he wonders, closer to what? The truth, he must assume - but what truth would Mycroft desire to hide so well to go to these lengths.
The CIA keep popping up; Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.
If this is deep, to find the truth (where is Mummy, what happened, what is the connection he's grasping at shadows and straws..) Sherlock must go deeper still. He puts his plan into action when Moriarty comes hunting him, when he plays with crime and justice and twists it in ways that leave Sherlock sure; which John sits and stares and wonders why and how.
Sherlock wonders, rather, who. He texts Irene:
Who is Jim Moriarty?
The woman's moan replies:
Sherlock finds her five blocks from Baker Street, sitting with her back to the wall at a table to the middle. She smiles when she spots him.
"Little brother, please, sit, eat. It's on the house." Irene owns Irene's Restaurant, it was built when Shakespeare was a boy and Irene was innkeeper when he stayed here.
"Answers first, sister." Irene sighs and taps her nails in time to the soft music which reminds Sherlock of fire and ice.
"So I see you have guessed..." She starts, and Sherlock shakes his head.
"Deduced." Irene raises a eyebrow, reminding Sherlock that here, she reigns as queen.
"Deduced, dear brother, deduced that James shares our blood. He calls Mummy his Daddy." Sherlock is silent and still, and nods, accepting this as fact. His own body bares the proof of it.
"His mother is a monster who begets monsters, as the lore goes - she is called Angrboda. He is not human, Sherlock. He is a monster, as his mother is." Irene glances to shadows within her own dwelling, which she has come and gone from for centuries. It is not home. No place is.
Home is where Mummy is.
"Why is he hunting me?" Sherlock asks, softly.
"Someone set him loose upon you." Irene sits back and waits.
"Mycroft." It chills his blood - the blood he shares with his brother.Sherlock asks no more questions of his sister, partly he wants his own answers, partly, he wants to go no deeper. There is a reason for everything Mycroft does, just as it is with Sherlock, with Irene, with Moriarty. With Mummy.
In silence he eats flayed fish and applesauce. Irene goes, and Sherlock does not see her leave. He leaves some money on the table, even if the only servants are but shadows and wind.
Mycroft waits for him at his flat. It is not his elder brothers way, to go to him, when usually he will send for him. It speaks of Mycroft's unease.
"The world grows strange to you, I think." Mycroft has never been so wary looking of Sherlock before. It almost...hurts.
"Hasn't it always been so?" It was a thing they shared, that feeling of not-belonging, or so Sherlock had always thought.
"Your growing up, Sherlock. We both are. It doesn't have to mean we grow apart." Mycroft looks out the window, with it's rain and it's bustling people. It feels lonely to be in the midst of a city. To be them.
"Why Moriarty?" Sherlock will ask this is Mycroft, first, before he lets it come between them.
"He told me. About you. It's always been about you." Mycroft inhales and holds it in, and out with his breath pour the words.
"I never wanted you to get hurt, Sherlock." He remembers - can never forget - Mycroft promising to keep him safe and sane.
"So you have been keeping things secret. Keeping me locked out." Mycroft flinches, stung.
"I needed you safe. Your too close to me, to Mummy, and there are dangerous things hiding in the dark, Sherlock. Worse than Moriarty." Sherlock knows that monster for his brother - if only by half, and knows Mycroft meant him to play with Moriarty all along while he does what he has done. What it is, Sherlock intends to ask Moriarty - Mycroft has hurt him too much with his Goverment lies, they bleed and do not heal or scar.
"I'll find my own way, Mycroft." Sherlock leaves the flat to meet his most monstrous brother, he does not come back.
There is a part of Dr. John Watson that will never believe that Sherlock Holmes died, can die. Even after seeing his fall with his own eyes. The therapist suggests (as shrinks are won't to do, are paid to do) cleaning up around the flat, putting away some of HIS things is what she means.
John does it, to be able to look her in the eye and say he has (and it hasn't helped). He goes into Sherlock's room (the door ajar all this time) and is grateful that in it's owners lapse, nothing has rotted or burnt out. It's messy, of course, but in a sort of organized chaos theory way.
In the end he doesn't really do any cleaning, he sits and he looks at things, almost afraid of touching. As if this is all meant to be some shrine to Sherlock. He hasn't changed anything (and that isn't what the therapist wants, he's sure - so he doesn't tell her).
He goes in Sherlock's room in the morning (before the coffee is ready and he has to shower and get dressed and go to work) and he visits it before going to is own bed. He feels as if he has to check that the room is still empty, that Sherlock hasn't just dropped back in the way he came into John's life, and maybe John just didn't notice (a imposable improbable probability). So he pays those visits to Sherlock's room (and yes, sometimes he talks to thin air).
John finds himself looking though Sherlock's desk one day, looking for mementos. Some he's found he remembers, remembers being there, some he remembers Sherlock telling him about - and some, some are hints and clues that John lets lay.
Among papers both personal and public, there are photos - well, drawings, more like a half finished portrait then a photo (there is no gloss, no perfection of imperfections). Sherlock wasn't one much for art or the stars, so that portrait of a woman (sharp cheeks, fair hair, a wicked grin) it's curious.
It becomes more then curious when John finds that Sherlock drew her, drew himself, drew Irene and Mycroft and Moriarty. There is a striking similarity between them, a sameness, a familiarity. John spreads them out on Sherlock's bedspread like a hand of cards.
This, he is sure, is a clue.
He was meant to find this, to see it.
He goes to Sherlock's grave, and begs for Sherlock to be alive, begs to be right. He thinks he's slipping from sane to insane, and it won't be a brilliant madness like Sherlock, but something nasty and messy that Sherlock would have had to be called in on - would have thought boring, solved it in five minutes.
That night, on the news, is the woman Sherlock drew the likeness of (who isn't a woman at second glance) but a man, a mad mad man. Possibly he's a bad man too, but that doesn't stop John from buying a ticket to America to see the mad-man, super-man, a clue. (Captain America and Iron Man wouldn't take the man-woman, Loki, anywhere else.)
John hopes without ever saying, that Sherlock might be there to meet him.