Chapter one: The birth
Beta'ed by the irresistible am1thirteenth and improved after the kind suggestions of rrane. Please check the Author's Note at the end of the chapter.
A man, whose name is no longer Sherlock Holmes, stands in front of a mirror regarding his reflection carefully, flicking his gaze between it and an old photograph in his hand.
It’s not a portrait, merely a snapshot. A moment in a press conference, two men standing forth, exposed to the flashlights. One of them is tall, wearing a Byronic dark coat and a definitely mismatched deerstalker hat. It’s a comic figure, in fact, which the man is clearly aware of and not necessarily comfortable with, judging from the forced smile on his face.
One Sherlock Holmes. He remembers him growing up, learning, living, succeeding in small battles and failing in the one war that mattered. He remembers Holmes’ supposed death on the pavement before St. Bartholomew's hospital. He even remembers the metaphysical death when the old, burdened, flawed personality gave way to him.
Then there is the shorter man with sandy hair, looking at his companion with a fond expression in his grey-blue eyes, smiling sympathetically, his stance and incline of his head expressing a degree of attachment that was clear to anybody save for himself.
Fondness. Affection. Friendship.
Those are the emotions that he no longer employs, and that are to be avoided in the future. His emotional core is no longer capable of such fine-scaled, complex ornaments of feelings. They are not powerful enough to counterbalance his impatient, imperious intelligence. All he can do is burn. Deepest devotion that knows no limits on one side and utter contempt bordering on flaring hatred on the other. Between those, there is neither space nor peace.
He shifts his gaze back to the mirror. Another man is leaning on the doorframe, almost as tall as he is. He recalls his name immediately. Mycroft Holmes. For all their purposes he could be well called one of his fathers.
“Perfected,” the man who now bears the name Noonien Singh corrects the visitor.
“Perfect for our plans,” the visitor stands his ground. His air is cautious and indifferent, but Noonien Singh can see through the restraints, he can observe the exact degree of this man’s anxiety and how it was relieved ever so slightly upon hearing his answer. My voice hasn’t changed, he deduces from it.
Lots of other things have. He can list them as he watches the other man examining him, eyes raking swiftly down and up. The body of Sherlock Holmes used to be lean and boney. The augmentation has added four inches round his chest and the elastic fabric of his shirt is punctuating the perfect musculature. His prominent cheekbones are somewhat rounded now, giving him a matured, older look, but he knows that now he would age more slowly than the man on the photograph would.
“I wonder. Why not you? Your cognitive powers were greater than his.” He observes and files away the minute shiver, almost imperceptible stiffening of the visitor’s stance when he interprets the deliberate use of pronoun as a sign of detachment between this new man and his former self.
“Men past forty years of age were considered too old for the change.” Mycroft clears his throat carefully, gathering his resolve to continue.
“I would have chosen no-one else for this project, but I am still sorry for what it has cost you, Sherlock.”
He tries to remember what it was that he has lost. The knowledge is inside his head but there is no feeling associated with it. Did he wish it for himself? Did his former self wish it to be erased, and if so, then why? Did he consider it a threat? Noonien Singh knows that Sherlock used to have fears. He has none. Nothing he experiences is a burden; he can use everything to his advantage. Even the pain.
He weighs his own possibilities, aware of every cell in his body. His former self used to neglect its needs, valuing only the power of his mind. That has changed. This new man is complex, his physical strength is a vibrating potential, his energy coils like a spring. No more puzzles and riddles to entertain only the mind. There is war to be won, lands to be conquered, people to be ruled. His new power is tangible, his brain can stick to purpose, and his body is a perfect tool.
“Why did he agree to this?”
“We had a good argument in our favour.” Mycroft’s eyes linger on the man on the photograph, the one whose smile is genuine.
“There was a motivation in you that only a fool would omit to play upon. You were ready to die – you’ve, figuratively speaking, died to protect his life.”
“So another death was not an issue anymore.”
There is a spark of something older than him in the back of his mind. The idea of someone, threatening the life of his associate, stirs a vaguely unpleasant feeling. Possessiveness?
“You are not dead, brother.” Mycroft tries to insist. Noonien Singh files it away as another display of weakness. Mycroft outstretches his hand in a strangely timid gesture.
He turns to him and his waiting hand, and instead of gripping it with his own, he places the photograph in it.
“Keep him safe. I think your brother would have liked it.”
He walks out of the door, joining a large group of people on their way to board the plane, off to new life, to places where they are needed. They already acknowledge him as the best of them. Some of them even adore him. They call him Khan. A leader.
Those seventy two men and women that went through everything with him, subjected to the same process of augmentation, they are his family now. And no-one is going to threaten them. Not if they want to see the light of day again.