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Brothers In Arms

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INT, HANSOM CAB. EARLY EVENING. CHRISTMAS EVE.

 

JOHN and SHERLOCK are sitting next to each other inside the cab. The frost creeping up the cab's window panes reveals the bitterly cold winter outside.

JOHN:

Well, I hardly need bother with a present for you, old boy.

SHERLOCK:

Oh?

JOHN: 

I can hardly compete with a case solved just in time for Christmas.

SHERLOCK:

(smiles)

Hmm. I rather think you of all people would be up to the challenge.

JOHN:

There were some splendid socks I had my eye on.

They both chuckle. Easy and comfortable. But, SHERLOCK'S laughter dies as the cab draws nearer to 221B BAKER STREET. He leans forward, peering out of the window with a frown.

JOHN:

Holmes?

We follow Sherlock's eye...

CUT TO:

EXT. 221B BAKER STREET.

The street is packed with clamouring reporters, armed with cameras or notepads and pens.

BACK TO:

INT. HANSOM CAB.

SHERLOCK:

(drawing back from the window, quietly)

Ah.

JOHN makes to lean forward and see the reporters for himself, but SHERLOCK puts his arm out in front of his chest, blocking him.

JOHN:

Holmes, what the deuce-

SHERLOCK:

(firmly)

No point in you staying, after all, not when it's so late. Pray give my love to Mrs Watson.

JOHN:

(aghast)

I'm not having you face this by-

But SHERLOCK already has his hand on the cab door handle.

SHERLOCK:

Come now, Watson, it is Christmas. A time for family.

JOHN:

Well, yes, but-

SHERLOCK has left the cab before JOHN can fully reply. JOHN stares after him, crestfallen and frustrated. A beat. Then, JOHN hits the roof of the cab twice with his walking stick, and the cab moves on.

CUT TO:

EXT. 221B BAKER STREET.

SHERLOCK hesitates before attempting to make his way through the throng of reporters. Their babbling turns into disorientating VOICE OVERS, as the rest of the sound fades away... apart from the THUD-THUD of a HEARTBEAT.

REPORTER 1:

Mr Holmes! Mr Holmes, how do you-

REPORTER 2:

Any chance of a quick-

The VOICE OVERS combine into gibberish. UNCOMFORTABLE CLOSE ON SHERLOCK'S FACE. On edge and wary.

He weaves his way through the reporters only just without stumbling. Slams the door to 221B shut. His shoulders relax slightly as he leans his back against the door. His eyes close and he sighs. Home sweet home?

An irate MRS HUDSON enters the hallway, tutting.

MRS HUDSON:

They're shameful, I tried to send them off but they just wouldn't listen. Honestly, on this day of all days, and they have nothing better to do than-

SHERLOCK:

(sighs again before opening his eyes)

Oh, never mind, Mrs Hudson.

He gestures, and they ascend the 17 steps together.

INT. 221B BAKER STREET. LIVING ROOM.

MRS HUDSON:

And I meant to say- you've had a telegram from-

SHERLOCK:

How surprising.

He crosses the room to pick up his violin.

MRS HUDSON:

Well, do you want me to reply?

SHERLOCK:

(plucking the strings of his violin thoughtfully)

No. A more personal approach is needed this time, I fear.

He peers behind the closed curtain for a moment. The reporters are still there. Waiting. Watching.

SHERLOCK:

Perhaps later.

CUT TO:

EXT. 221B BAKER STREET. NIGHT.

A hansom cab is waiting. The door to 221B opens and SHERLOCK steps outside, in his Inverness cape. The street is finally- blessedly- empty. He hurries to the cab.

CUT TO:

EXT. THE DIOGENES CLUB.

The cab stops directly in front of the imposing building.

CUT TO:

INT. THE DIOGENES CLUB.

The place is deadly silent. SHERLOCK walks slowly up the stairs. Each step is heavy with indecision- should he have come? Maybe he should just leave-

MYCROFT:

(off-screen)

Good of you to come, brother mine,

SHERLOCK flinches, but only for an instant. Annoyed that his big brother has the upper hand, yet again.

CUT TO:

INT. THE DIOGENES CLUB. MYCROFT'S PRIVATE ROOM.

MYCROFT is sitting in an armchair in the shadows, nursing a glass of scotch. On the table in front of him, a pile of newspapers.

MYCROFT:

I know you don't approve of this cloak and dagger nonsense.

SHERLOCK:

(a flat chuckle)

It suits you, however.

MYCROFT:

Indeed. (nods towards his drink) Care to join me?

SHERLOCK shakes his head. Instead, he rifles through the newspapers. We see partial views of headlines and text from articles: SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE MAN BEHIND THE HAT; THE MAN OF MYSTERY EXPOSED; 221B: BEHIND CLOSED-

SHERLOCK:

(nonchalantly)

You have been busy.

MYCROFT:

You need to be aware of these things, Sherlock. People are talking.

SHERLOCK:

(laughs)

People do little else.

MYCROFT:

I am glad this is all so amusing for you.

SHERLOCK: 

I never said it was.

MYCROFT:

You understand I can only do so much. This... is...

A horrible pause as MYCROFT takes another sip of scotch. When he looks at SHERLOCK again, he seems tired, older than his years.

MYCROFT:

(painful to admit)

This is beyond me, I'm afraid.

ON SHERLOCK. He expected this, but it doesn't make the words any easier to hear.

SHERLOCK:

(sarcastic, aiming for normalcy)

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

MYCROFT sighs.

MYCROFT:

Don't be smart. You know what happened to Wilde.

CLOSE ON SHERLOCK. Stricken: "What the hell are you implying?" ON MYCROFT'S face: "Don't be obtuse, brother mine."

SHERLOCK:

(hushed, but with conviction)

I have to finish this.

They fall silent, staring at each other. A clock tolls: Midnight. Almost truly Christmas. MYCROFT sets his glass on the table. He knows SHERLOCK has taken his decision, and there's no turning back now.

SHERLOCK:

Merry Christmas, Mycroft.

He starts to leave.

MYCROFT:

And a Happy New Year.

But SHERLOCK has already gone.

MYCROFT:

(a whisper)

Be careful.

END SCENE.