She is five when they bring Sherlock home. She is waiting on the front porch, Mycroft's thin, spider-like hand on her shoulder. Her parents get out of the taxi, that drove them home from the hospital, smiling and cooing at the bundle in her mother's arms. Sherri stands on her toes, trying to see.
Her father kneels in front of them and shows them the pink wriggling child inside the blanket. Her mother leans on his shoulder; exhausted, but proud.
"Sherri, Mikey, say hello to your brother."
She looks at him. Looks at his tiny arms and legs, his fur of a hair, his pretty eyes. She looks at him and then back at her parents who are focusing all their attention on her new brother.
She hates him.
She is brilliant. She is almost as smart as Mycroft. And that's saying a lot. But whereas he is interested in politics and maths and all that boring stuff, she likes to study animals. Likes taking the smaller ones apart to see what they look like inside. For some reason, her parents don't like her doing it. They say that she should be playing with her toys, that what children weren't supposed to do what she did. But she liked it. So she had learned to be sneaky, to only do it when her parents were occupied and made sure to clean her equipment and hands afterwards.
She spends her days running through the forest surrounding their home, looking for squirrels and such, observing their habits. Once she catches a frog from a nearby stream. She brings it back to home with her, feeling it wriggling around in her hands. She couldn't wait to put a stop to it. It felt icky.
When she gets home, Mikey is locked up in his room like always. Because he's boring like that. Mommy is a professor so Daddy is staying home looking after her little brother. She doesn't like it. He screams and makes messes and smells bad. And he takes Mommy and Daddy's attention away from her and how brilliant she is.
Seeing no one in the kitchen she carefully puts the frog in a vase on the table. When she's satisfied it's not going to escape anytime soon, she drags a chair next to the counter and uses it to climb on it. Her parents keep the knives in the up most cupboard because they're too dangerous to be kept around children. Or that's what Mommy told her. The cabin is locked but it doesn't matter because she's clever. She tugs a hairpin out of her hair and inserts it in the lock. She bites her tongue. No, not yet. There!
The cabin door clicks open and she triumphantly reaches in. She takes out a small knife and jumps off the counter carefully.
The frog is still wriggling in the vase. She shakes the vase upside down to get it to come out. When it flops on the counter she smiles and takes hold of a wriggling little leg.
She raises the knife and slits. Blood spills on the counter.
On Sherlock's fourth birthday they go play by the river. Redbeard is with them and runs in little circles around their feet. Sherlock is dressed in the pirate costume he got for his birthday. She hates it. It's so silly. There aren't any pirates left. And even if there was they wouldn't dress like that, she had told him haughtily when he had opened the package, his small face practically glowing with joy. Mommy had made her apologise when Sherlock had started to cry. Stupid crybaby.
She's collecting tadpoles in a red bucket when she hears a splash and a yell. Sherlock slipped and is thrashing around in the river. Redbeard starts to bark loudly. She watches silently.
It's funny. Sherlock looks so stupid flailing about like that. And his expression of absolute panic makes her laugh. Shouldn't have stood so close to the edge. Idiot.
Sherlock tries to desperately to keep himself on the surface. Gasping for air and thrashing his arms about. He doesn't know how to swim.
She could help him she supposes. She could yell for Mycroft, who has gone on ahead of them. But it was Sherlock's own stupid fault for slipping in the first place. She turns back to her tadpoles. She wishes Redbeard would stop barking. It's scaring all her tadpoles away. Stupid dog.
Moments later she hears a new splash when Mycroft throws himself after their brother. He hauls Sherlock in his arms and climbs back to the shore. Both of them are dripping wet and covered in mud. She wrinkles her nose. She doesn't like things to be messy. Mycroft catches a sight of her. He frowns. He asks him why she didn't yell. Tells her that he only knew that something was wrong because Redbeard was barking so much.
Her parents adore Sherlock.
At ten he is adorable, smart and curious about everything. Her parents go on and on about how clever little Sherly is. How he's sure to do great things some day. She scowls, she's way smarter than him. She always has the best results in class. But Sherlock is the best. Sherlock is pretty. Sherlock is kind. Sherlock is perfect. Sherlock can use the kitchen for his experiments.
She stomps around in the backyard angrily. Why can't her parents see that she's all those things too? Why is it always Sherlock this and that and never about her? Either that or it was Mycroft. Mycroft who got into Oxford. Mycroft who was gonna be "in the government". Whatever the fuck that meant.
Redbeard comes to her, wriggling his tail enthusiastically. He clearly expects to be scratched. Well, he can wait! Stupid dog. He was eating out of Sherlock's hand too. Why couldn't anyone else see what a stupid prat her little brother was?
She kicks the ground again. This time she accidentally kicks Redbeard who was still running around her feet.
She's shocked at first. She hadn't meant to kick him. But there's something about the sound he made. She kinda liked it.
She kicks again.
Sherlock is inconsolable when they finally find Redbeard. He clutches his limp corpse against him. Sobbing.
Her parents are stroking his hair. Promising to find the hooligan who did it. She stands against the opposite wall. Watching.
Watching how Sherlocks perfect face goes red and snotty with tears. Hears the hitch in his breath.
Cracks in the perfection.
She sees Mycroft watching her sometimes when he's home from uni. Every time she catches him she smiles at him. That sweet smile everyone always likes. The smile that always works. The smile her father says is gonna break hearts. He narrows his eyes at her and then looks away.
She thinks he knows who killed poor old Redbeard. Doesn't matter. There isn't any proof. She's too smart to leave any.
Sherlock is thirteen when he solves his first "case". Her parents, of course, are sickeningly proud. She seethes inside. The police didn't even believe him!
That afternoon she suggests that they go walk by the river again. Sherlock agrees excitedly, still buzzing with the feeling his successful deductions generated. He draws his red wellies on and runs out the door. She follows him at a steady pace. After all, there is no hurry. Mycroft is still at the university. Her parents aren't home.
She has all the time in the world.
She huffs out an involuntary breath. That hurt. She presses her hand down harder, gripping the curls tighter in her hand. The little prat has pointy elbows.
She was absolutely drenched. Sherlock was thrashing about too much.
It doesn't matter, she thinks. He would stop soon. Already she could feel his strength draining away from him. Soon he would have to breathe. And then it would be over. And she would finally get away from this disgusting mud.
Suddenly it stopped. Sherlock wasn't struggling anymore. She starts to laugh. Tears run down her cheeks.
Her head bursts into fire. She loses her hold and the last thing she sees is her little brother being dragged away from the river. His lips are blue. He isn't breathing.
When she wakes it's cold. Disoriented, she blinks through the pain in her head. She's in a bare room with grey walls. The opposite wall is covered with a wall-length mirror. The room has only one door.
Confused, she tries to rise from the chair she's sitting on. She can't. Her hands are tied tightly behind her back. She could get out in minutes. But she doesn't even try. She knows what this is.
Years later she sits in a bus watching her brother's best friend.
He's unremarkable. Dull. Boring. Why her brother bothers with him is beyond her.
Oh well. It will make this easy.
He looks her way.