John woke up slowly. He couldn't see at first because the light was so bright, but his eyes adjusted, and he was… in a hospital room. That couldn't be right. He remembered falling asleep in his bed at Baker Street, and he had just moved in. When had he shown up to a hospital? He looked around the room, and saw Sherlock asleep in a chair next to his bed. He looked like he hadn't eaten or slept in days, which suggested John had been out for a while. However, if he knew Sherlock well, it meant just speaking would wake him up.
“You look like shit.” He said raspily. “What happened to me?”
It was almost as if he’d turned on because Sherlock immediately woke and was completely aware.
“John! You’re awake!”
The detective immediately moved his chair closer to John’s bedside with an intent look in his eyes.
“You didn’t answer my question, Sherlock. What happened? How long have I been here?”
Sherlock didn’t meet John’s eyes. He hit the button to call the nurses and doctor instead. In the ensuing confusion of neurological checks and being poked and prodded and assessed, John forgot his initial questions. Apparently he was as good as someone who came out of unconsciousness could be. However, the doctor said some of his motor skills were a bit off, so John would need physiotherapy for a bit when he was released. He also had a head wound that had healed perfectly and the bandage was taken off. When the medical circus retreated John asked,
“So… when am I allowed to head back to Baker Street?”
Sherlock looked confused.
“ Back to Baker Street?”
“Yeah, I just moved in after that horrible shit-show with your sister.” John affirmed.
“I don’t have a sister.”
The look on Sherlock’s face made John increasingly concerned. It was almost as if the man didn't know what he was talking about, when Sherlock was there for the entire thing. He found out his best friend was murdered by his secret sister, and he didn't remember that!? That had to be some form of amnesia or a joke.
“Are you kidding me, Sherlock? Your sister that you didn't know existed until she shot me with a tranquilizer in our therapy session! You found out your best friend as a kid was murdered by her and that Mycroft changed your memories so you only remembered a dog! How could you not remember that!?”
The detective leaned forward in his seat and looked as if he was thinking of a way to word his next phrase gently, this alone was enough to worry John.
“You have been in a coma for over two months, John.” Sherlock calmly stated. “You were shot by the therapist you had been seeing, but you ducked just in time and the bullet only mildly damaged your parietal lobe. The ‘therapist’ disappeared after you were unconscious probably thinking the blood-loss would kill you, but a neighbour called 999 and we found you. We’ve been waiting for you to wake up so we could ask you what happened and track down your assailant since you are the only witness and no CCTV footage was able to track her whereabouts. We know only that she murdered the therapist that was supposed to see you and has the training necessary to disappear after an attempted murder. It suggests that she was previously a government operative of some sort that has gone AWOL and -.”
“You're telling me the last three months of my life have been - a - a dream ?”
“Yes.” Sherlock confirmed. “I’m - well - I’m sorry , John. You can tell me about your dream later if you wish, but right now we need to know what happened just before she shot you.” Sherlock cleared his throat a bit and stood up. “I’ll call Mycroft and Lestrade so you can make an official statement, and there will be no need to rehash it at a later date.”
No! There wasn’t time for formalities in John’s opinion. He had to tell Sherlock all of what he dreamt because he was somehow sure parts of it were accurate. It was almost as if someone whispered things to him while he was asleep.
“Sherlock, wait, I think you need to hear this first.”
The detective resumed his seat but hid his phone behind his back and texted his brother to come to the hospital. He knew Mycroft would contact Lestrade. However if John insisted that he needed to tell him now, he would listen. He sat back down in his chair.
“She - the therapist, well, fake therapist, I suppose... she said she was tired of me talking about myself, and then went on about a secret Holmes brother. Turns out it was a sister and her name is Eu-something.” His mind must have been affected a bit more by the idea that the last three months had been a dream because he couldn’t remember the name at first. “Wait... I remember now; it was Eurus. She also turned out to be the woman I texted with, ‘E’, and the lady you spoke to, the one you thought was Faith Smith... and then she pulled out a gun and she must have shot me.”
Sherlock gaped a bit at this.
“And she said she was my sister?”
Sherlock then stood abruptly.
“Mycroft will be here shortly, he can straighten this out.”
Thirty minutes later (after much pacing), Mycroft arrived (without Lestrade) in his usual three-piece suit, which made him look wildly out of place in a hospital room. Sherlock immediately confronted him with the question of whether this Eurus person existed. The elder Holmes leaned against his umbrella with a tired look on his face and sighed heavily.
“Doctor Watson, you are correct in that Eurus our sister but there is a reason she is no longer a constant in our lives.”
John gaped at Mycroft. So the therapist really was Eurus!
“So I have a sister that I mysteriously can’t remember? I have tried to delete YOU many times, Brother Mine, but I have yet to actually succeed . How is it possible that I could forget this important fact? More pertinently: why would it be deemed necessary?”
Sherlock remembered everything of importance. Why didn’t he remember his own sister!? Mycroft simply sat down in a nearby chair and leaned his umbrella against the wall. Sherlock followed suit.
“You both deserve an explanation.” He said. “She had always been different from other children. All three of us were tested multiple times by professionals, however, the one that stood out the most was Eurus. She was calculating, able to enslave people by conversing with them, and acted in ways no child her age could comprehend. She was described as an era defining genius, beyond Newton, but when she was five years of age, she did something terrible.”
He said that in my dream! John’s thoughts screamed. Not only that, but also she did something bad when she was a kid, just like in his dream. What next? Did Sherrinford exist!?
“What do you mean?” Sherlock said through gritted teeth.
“Redbeard wasn't put down, Sherlock. Your mind rewired itself to make you falsely remember that he died of cancer. Eurus… she hid Redbeard somewhere we couldn't find him. Mother and Father begged her to tell us where he was, but she'd never say. She was silent and unmoved by Sherlock’s cries and frantic searches for Redbeard. It was as if she had no emotions whatsoever.”
Sherlock was starting to remember a bit of the incident. He could see Eurus’ stone cold face while he cried for Redbeard; begged her to tell him where he was. He could see himself running all over Musgrave’s property and beyond looking for his canine friend.
John had been silent until now, but he stared at Mycroft incredulously and blurted,
“Then how doesn't he remember her? He remembers Redbeard and playing pirates with him as a kid. You three were living in the same house weren't you? How could he have memories of the two of you, your parents and the bloody dog without remembering a sister?”
Mycroft looked taken aback a bit at John’s outburst and was silent for a moment, then he explained,
“Eurus started a fire in the house the same day Redbeard disappeared. She burned it to ashes and felt no remorse for her actions even though Mummy had been afflicted with a few second degree burns. For her own safety and ours she was taken to a secure institution where she remained for the next ten years of her life undergoing psychological treatment.”
“What happened after those ten years?”
Mycroft looked at Sherlock intently,
“She was released. Her treatment team deemed her fit to rejoin society and go to school like a normal child. However, she wanted to distance herself as she felt she would endanger us, especially you, Sherlock, she’d always called you her favourite. So she emancipated herself and took up various jobs to pay for a house under a false name. Since then we have had limited contact with her and Eurus thought it best that Sherlock continue not to remember her at all.”
John looked up at the ceiling, and tried to process this new information into what he could only think of as his ‘addled brain’. He was truly confused by the coincidences and began to figure out some way to tell Sherlock about the dream without sounding crazy. Surely if he told them all of it as he remembered, they’d insist on sedating him… there would certainly be more brain scans involved. All he wanted was to go back to 221B, or as he thought of it now, without reservation - home. He cleared his throat,
“She said he was her favourite… in my - um - dream… how could I have dreamt that?”
“John, let us stick to the facts for the moment.” Sherlock said. “Mycroft, I assume you have her monitored on a daily basis?”
“Yes. Uncle Rudy promised to keep a watchful eye on her when he had her committed, and I continued to do so when he no longer could.”
John took a deep breath and asked: “So what's the chance that she was the one who shot me?”
“Very slim; she developed severe agoraphobia a few years after she was released. She doesn't go outside and has minimal social interaction day to day. She works as a translator for government officials as she has learned every language currently in use as well as a few of the dead ones. Attempting to leave her front door would give her an intense panic attack, so doing what this woman has done would have been impossible for her.”
There were only a few possibilities as to why Sherlock couldn’t remember Eurus. He knew it was probably due to trauma being blocked out, but it was important to him that this secret was uncovered.
“I can’t fathom how completely she has been erased from my memory.” Sherlock said. “Perhaps because the minds of children are much more malleable than those of adults. I would have thought myself superior to such manipulations, but it appears I have been mistaken.”
“I would check from time to time whether any memories had begun to resurface.” Mycroft said. “I tried to trigger them by speaking of an East Wind coming or mentioning Redbeard. That’s what Eurus means, the goddess of the East wind. Do you remember me mentioning it before you got on the plane? I was testing you.”
John couldn’t figure out how his dream was so close to reality if he didn’t know any of this. The fact that dream-Mycroft said he tested Sherlock with trigger-words like real life-Mycroft alone was surreal. How could he have known all these things subconsciously if he never heard them before?
“Thank you Mycroft, I think you should leave now.” Sherlock said tersely. “John, I would really like to hear more about that coma dream, it may spark some remembrances in my own mind.”
Mycroft nodded curtly, then silently left the two friends alone. Sherlock looked as if he was seriously thinking about what Mycroft said, trying to figure out if he could unlock his brain to show him the memories of the past. John himself was shocked as to why he knew certain things that only Mycroft (and the secret sister) could know. He closed his eyes and tried to think back to the moment he was shot.
“He’s making a face… I think I’ll put a hole through it…”
She pulled the trigger, and then… there were whispers, but they were incomplete, out of order even…
“Sherlock was always my favorite.”
“If only he’d become friends with Victor Trevor instead of you, he’d be easier to manipulate.”
“Oh my older brother loved Redbeard, but he never played with me, so I hid him… That night I was so happy that Sherlock was laughing… But I got it wrong… he was screaming.”
“Mycroft made sure I stayed away, so he locked me up. Didn’t work out so well.”
“I’m sorry I had to kill another one of his pets, but would he listen otherwise?”
“I’m sure he doesn’t even remember me, just the dog, typical...”
“Goodbye, Doctor Watson. I hope that you’re happy with your dead wife.”
John snapped back to reality with a jolt. That had to be how he knew: she had said things to him when he couldn’t move! His brain most likely processed the information subconsciously, but constructed it a different way with the information that was whispered to him.
“You said you knew things that were described by Mycroft. She must have said things to you that only Eurus and Mycroft would know.” Sherlock deduced.
“No shit, Sherlock.” John said.
Sherlock hummed in agreement and steepled his fingers under his chin with a thoughtful look. He needed to know what John dreamt. It could help his own mind connect missing pieces.
“John, please tell me exactly what you remember from the dream.”
“Ok - um…” John tried to reconstruct the order of events as he had experienced them. “It’s a long and... strange story, so let me get it all out, try not to interrupt me, I know it sounds a bit… bizarre. At the beginning of it, you found me at the house with a tranquilizer dart in my forehead. You said no one had seen the woman flee and that the real therapist was murdered and put into bags in a cupboard. Then I told you what she told me, and at first you didn’t want to believe it, then I told you Mycroft admitted there was another Holmes kid, but if we wanted him to say the whole truth, we needed to scare it out of him. So we set up a whole ‘experiment’ where we had two druggies act as characters to scare Mycroft, messed with his security, and had audio recordings. He was saying things like, “You can’t have got out!” and then you came in with your usual deductions based on the situation, saying that you had a secret sister who you couldn’t remember and I told him to come to Baker Street, like a client would.
“Later the next day, Mycroft came to Baker Street and of course refused to be treated like a client at first, but Mrs. Hudson cut him down to size then left to go downstairs and clean her flat. I started asking him questions like the age gap, and the whole ‘deduction thing’, and he said in those exact words, “Eurus was described as an era-defining genius, beyond Newton.’ I have no bloody clue how I got that spot on. And then he started saying that when you were little, there was your dog Redbeard, and your old house called Musgrave Hall, which had fake gravestones that fascinated you.
“Then one day Eurus started singing a song that made you realize that she took Redbeard away and hid him. You tried to decipher the song and Mycroft said you were searching constantly for the dog but never found him. Eurus wouldn’t say anything except her song, saying it was the answer, except it didn’t make sense. It turned out that after Eurus was taken away to a facility, another fire was staged there so that she would be taken to a place called Sherrinford. A kind of high tech insane asylum and prison, where she had been since she was a kid.
“When Mycroft finished telling the story, something crashed through the kitchen window. It was a drone with a bomb on top of it, a uh… Patience Grenade , and if we moved it would destroy the flat. The drone landed in the middle of the room, and we started discussing what to do, still as statues. We ended up with Mycroft going downstairs to Mrs. Hudson, and you and I going for the windows. We all survived the explosion, somehow unharmed (I’m not sure how ), and decided we needed to break into Sherrinford to find out if Eurus actually had gotten out and if security was compromised.
“We stole a fishing ship and had it crash into the side of the island. Mycroft pretended to be an old sailor to be a distraction, you knocked out two of the guards to find the right clothing to fit and take their place, and I stayed the same so they thought Mycroft was you. When we got down to the holding cell, the head of the facility gave you the card to go to Eurus thinking you were a guard, and he stayed with me and Mycroft.
“After we revealed who we were and why we were there (as well as a threat from Mycroft), the Governor took us to his office and showed us footage from a psychiatric evaluation Eurus had a few months before, but apparently that wasn’t supposed to happen because she enslaves people by talking to them. I don’t know what ended up happening between y- the dream you and Eurus, but we ended up finding out the Governor was the one on the tape being talked to, and that meant he wasn’t running the prison anymore. He pressed a button which brought all the guards to us, and I tried to get away. The thing was, a voice came over the intercom, and a face came on screen: Moriarty. They ended up knocking me out, and I woke up in the cell Eurus was supposed to be in, with you, Mycroft, and the Governor.
“Eurus had set up a TV so she could talk to us, and would sometimes play a clip from Moriarty. She said that he had left her different voice messages and videos before he died. Things started to get more intense because she started having us do different things in order to try and save a little girl through the phone who was on a plane and everyone on it was asleep. There were four tasks, and she would make sure that there was ‘emotional context’ for each, like some demented experiments and we were her lab rats.
“The first one was in order to save the Governor’s wife from being shot by Eurus, you had to choose between me and your brother which of us would be the one to kill him. There was a gun in the cell with us with 2 bullets in. Mycroft refused, he didn’t want to murder someone, then I tried but I just couldn’t do it. Even when he begged me, I couldn’t kill an innocent man. The governor got hold of the gun and ended up shooting himself, but because it wasn’t either of us that took the shot, Eurus shot the governor’s wife anyway. I took that ridiculously literal interpretation of her threat… pretty badly. I didn’t want to go on with that insane experiment, it was inhuman, she was inhuman.
“Then she forced us to go into another room where another task was set up. Just to get us to keep going, she reconnected us with the little girl who told us she was on a jumbo jet and it was night, then she was cut off. The task was to solve a case that she had already solved. There was a man who was killed from 400 meters away with a buffalo gun, 3 brothers were the suspects and we were supposed to solve the case based on photos of the brothers and the gun itself. Eurus said that you needed emotional context so she could see if it would cloud your deductions. So… she hung the brothers in front of a window for us to see. They were all tied up so they wouldn’t be able to swim if she let them go. You and Mycroft figured out that the middle brother committed the murder, but then she told you that you needed to condemn him. You didn’t take it very well, not wanting to effectively be the man’s executioner. She ended up dropping all three of them into the ocean. It was sick, just really disturbing... with Eurus on the screen milky pale with this shock of unkempt dark hair - like an alien, the panicked little girl on the phone, and these silly Moriarty video snippets where he was acting like a train conductor, and to top it all off, both the innocent men being killed. None of us wanted to keep going after that, but we had to be soldiers . I told Mycroft that in order to save the little girl, we had to keep going with these experiments and it didn’t matter what happened to us.
“The next room we reached had a plain pine coffin in it. You deduced that it was for a person about 5’6, who was practical about death, and didn’t have a lot of money… you were going to carry on until Mycroft found the lid, with the words ‘I love you’ on a plaque. It was supposed to be Molly Hooper’s coffin. Then Eurus was back and she told us she had rigged Molly’s house with explosives and you had 3 minutes on the phone to get her to tell you she loved you without making it sound like it was an emergency. There was video footage showing her in the kitchen making tea. She looked like she’d had a rough day and almost didn’t answer. You, um, eventually coaxed it out of her, just in time, but Molly was crying and you were so upset you smashed the coffin to bits because it turned out that there weren’t explosives after all. I really thought you weren’t going to carry on, and I had no idea what she’d do to us then, so I held my hand out to help you up and reminded you we had to be soldiers . You took my hand, and we went into the next room.
“Eurus came back onto the screen and told you that only two of us could go through to the next challenge and that you had to shoot either me or Mycroft. Mycroft kept saying things to tip you over the edge; things like you needed brain power, not heart or strength. I told him he was right, and that you needed to shoot me, but then he started getting even worse. At first I tried to get him to stop, then you said he wasn’t convincing and it turned out he was acting. I think he mostly said it to make you more likely to choose him instead of me. He asked to be shot in the heart, because his brain was to be preserved for science (I think he was trying to lighten the mood). I was mostly speechless, except to say you needed Mycroft’s brain more than mine. Then it turned out it was his fault that Moriarty got involved with us. For Christmas five years earlier, Eurus wanted to talk to Moriarty for five minutes unsupervised. You pointed the gun at Mycroft, but then refused to do it. You threatened to shoot yourself, held the gun against your chin and everything. Eurus was not pleased. Then suddenly before you could do anything, we all got shot with tranquilizer darts.
“I think we were out for a long time, because when I woke up, it was obvious we’d been moved away from Sherrinford. I was, um, in an old well, my feet were chained to the bottom and at first there wasn’t much water but…” This was difficult to talk about, even if it was a dream. “I could feel something else in there with me. Bones.”
Sherlock looked shocked and appalled to hear this. If only they’d known there was an abandoned well on the property at Musgrave, they might have been able to save Redbeard, his eyes looked slightly glassy, but he urged John to continue.
“You said we had been out for hours before we started talking again and I told you about the bones. You said they were Redbeard’s, and halfway through your conversation with Eurus, she started letting water into the well. I tried to climb up the side, but I slipped and fell back down, and under the water I saw something that made me figure out what really happened with Redbeard. The bones weren’t dogs’ bones. There was a child’s skull in the well with me, and you remembered that you didn’t have a dog. Your best friend as a child was a boy named Victor Trevor, and you would play pirates together. Eurus killed your best friend because you wouldn’t play with her.
“After the shock wore off, you started to figure out that Eurus’ song was actually a cipher to the gravestones at Musgrave Hall, and you figured out the song. She wanted you to find her in her old room, and you deduced that the little girl wasn’t even real, Eurus was using a voice coder to make herself sound like a little girl to get under our skin. You convinced her to help me out of the well, then the police arrived, and took her back to Sherrinford. She was secure this time and the facility was re-staffed I think.
“After everything was settled and Mycroft told your parents about Eurus being alive, we started putting the flat back together. We hired workers to clean the burned remains of 221B, some things we kept, others we had to replace, and we even did that dumb smiley face on the wall with the gunshots in it again. You also started going to see Eurus once a week and played violin for her because at first she wouldn’t talk or communicate at all with anyone. You two started to play violin duets together and your parents finally saw her while you played a duet.”
John paused and took a steadying breath. The last bit that was important was Mary’s final video message that arrived at his house, and it still broke his heart but made him happy to think about.
“While the renovations were happening, Mary had one last video message for us. She sent us a message that we need to keep doing what we do together, and even though you’re a junkie who solves crimes to get high, and I’m a doctor who never came home from the war, the stories are what matters. And after the renovations were complete, Rosie and I moved in. And that’s about it.”
Sherlock sat in silence for a bit. He couldn’t believe that John’s mind made him go through all that. There were, of course, logical fallacies in terms of Mycroft and himself, but that had to be traumatizing for John. There would absolutely be PTSD in response to the dream because it felt real and caused emotional trauma. It would most likely take some experiences of the real life truths in order for him to become even remotely better. Sherlock couldn’t decide what to say, she he decided to pick a somewhat relevant topic.
“I knew a Victor Trevor at Uni, an exchange student from Bangladesh.” He decided to say. “He was very much alive when I last spoke to him, but I’ll have Mycroft check up on it if you like.”
“What was he like?” John asked.
“Actually fairly intelligent… for an average class degree.” John chuckled at that. “But to be fair he wasn’t able to accurately show his intellect based on the outdated teaching strategies and class curriculums we still use in our society. That is why when you and Rosie move into 221B she will be homeschooled-.”
“Wait, hold on.” John interrupted. “Who said anything about Rosie and I moving into 221B?”
“I believe you did.” Sherlock grinned smugly at John and continued, “I’ve actually had the flat baby-proofed while you were in your coma; all my experiments have been moved to 221C, Molly helped with that when she wasn’t watching the baby, the power outlets within Rosie’s reach now have special inserts where only a considerable amount of force can actually use the plug... I’ve been hoping you’d move back in since my birthday. I was going to ask, but all of this happened before I could.”
John actually felt a little touched by Sherlock doing that for him and Rosie. He shouldn’t have been surprised about how much he was doing for Rosie though, because as soon as she was born (on the side of the road he might add), he fell in love with her.
“Also with the injury you have been afflicted with, you will need assistance in everyday life until you are fully recovered.” Sherlock continued. “As I am the only one who can both assist you and live with you, it only makes sense that you two come to live with me at Baker Street. Mycroft no doubt has looked into government grade physiotherapy facilities for your rehabilitation, therefore we will have you start a week after you are acclimated to the flat once more.”
The soldier smiled at his friend, and knew he was right. It only made sense that he moved back into Baker Street… in his own mind he already had. There was really nothing left for him at his house he lived in with Mary, and without someone there, it just felt empty. Plus he couldn’t raise Rosie on his own. With the cases he did on top of work at the clinic, someone needed to watch his daughter when he was gone. He hated passing her around to Molly, Greg, and Janine when he wasn’t home, and he was sure Sherlock could handle it.
“She’s not getting home schooled by you. You would just teach her that everyone is stupid and you are the only smart one in the world. We could probably get her into a school that is different than normal schools, but that’s it.” John said with a smile.