A/N: Just a head's up- I am leaving next week for England and Italy. I fly out on the 18th of July and won't be back in Canada until Aug 6. I am hoping to get another chapter up before I leave but no promises:)
Thanks to mattsloved1 for checking this chapter out;)
He sat on the little garden bench in the sun. Beside the former hotel, attached to it by the fence that ran around the perimeter, was a small plot of land someone had very lovingly tended. He couldn't see Mycroft Holmes doing it, but he could see him ordering it done. It was sleeping now, all of the flowers finished and bedded down for winter, but the promise of spring was there, hidden in the slumbering foliage. The promise of so many things, buried deep down. An odd fairy flitted by and there was evidence of a gnome home under the low hanging bush near the back. He didn't know what kind of bush it was. An odd thought coursed through his head, a remembrance of something he'd watched with his dad on that telly thing, a strange movie about a king and a quest, but full of silliness and inappropriate comedy, which of course he had loved at the time. His mother hadn't been impressed but he could clearly remember the look of indulgent fondness at his father as she said it was all right, he could watch, just this once. The phrase 'Get me a shrubbery' came from nowhere and lingered in his mind. All these memories he had suppressed for so long were coming back and surfacing, now that he knew, now that he had found his sister again, sort of.
The sun, especially for mid-November, was warm and he fell into a light doze. He hadn't been sleeping well and he was constantly awakened by the sounds of his own cries as he dreamt about the day his house burnt down, when his parents had died and his sister was taken from him. She'd taken him out to their garden, so different from this one. She had stuffed him behind a bush at the back of the house, a shrubbery; he felt a giggle, sad and lost, well up in his chest. He closed his eyes. He really needed sleep. He drifted in and out of memories.
"Don't move," she had said. She was older than him by quite a bit and he loved her more than anything and would have done whatever she'd asked. "Don't move, don't make a sound. I'll be right back." But she hadn't come back. He'd heard her screams and he had been too afraid to come out. He'd covered his ears and cried silently. She had said not to move and not to make a sound so he hadn't. The neighbours discovered him the next day, huddled into a ball, cold and frightened. How he had not remembered any of this before was beyond him. It had all come flooding back and now he couldn't have stopped the memories if he had wanted to.
The yellow brilliance and warmth of the sun caressed his closed lids as he turned his face to its direction. He heard the faint cry of a hawk. Almost a week later, Watson's wing must have healed enough for him to fly. There was the sound of footsteps over grass and a body thumped down on the bench beside him. Shuffling sounds, a match being struck and the tang of smoke. He opened one eye a crack and watched as Sherlock Holmes tilted his head back and a column of smoke left his lips. He turned to look at Wiggins.
"Don't tell John. He hates it." A pause and then a hint of a smile. "Actually the wolf hates it, too."
"You talk to the wolf?"
Holmes' long pale hand came up and rubbed at his bottom lip. "Well, not really, but he's here inside my head and I can feel him. He's annoyed. His feelings are less complicated than mine."
"You are very free with information today." He took up his vigilance of the garden once more. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Holmes was squinting down at his cigarette, frowning at it.
"These aren't the same as I remember. Not real tobacco you know. But it's not horrible. Strange taste to it. Want one?" He held out a pouch to Wiggins, who stared at it a moment and then took one. "Not as good as some, better than anything the trolls produce. Never take a fag from a troll."
Another match struck and Wiggins leaned back, inhaling the acrid smoke. The two men sat in silence for a while. They were interrupted by the cry of the hawk once more. Holmes looked up as it circled lower. He braced his arm and whistled sharply to him. Watson came down, neither too fast nor slow, but at a moderate rate, as if he were testing the strength of his wing. He landed gracefully on the outstretched arm and ruffled his feathers before settling down to looked at his partner.
A soft smile hovered on Holmes' mouth. "You did very well today, but you shouldn't over tax yourself."
He hooded the hawk and ran a light hand down his back.
"He healed up pretty quick," Wiggins commented.
"We tend to. Comes with the curse, I guess."
Silence again. Wiggins began to settle back against the bench. He hoped Holmes was finished talking for a bit. He really didn't want to think about anything.
"He's concerned for you."
Wiggins sighed. Not meant to be.
"And you know this how?"
"He left it in the journal, explained how hard it was for you to hear about your sister."
"You've stopped talking to God, haven't you?"
Sitting up abruptly, anger flowed through him free and easily. "No, we are not doing this. I don't know what you're playing at. You coming over here all friendly like. I don't get a word out of you for days on the road and now we're best mates and you all opening up to me. That ain't you. That's him!" he jabbed a finger at the bird. "And I ain't talking to him!" He threw down the cigarette, crushed it out under his foot and made to leave. A hand caught his arm. He wrenched it out with a hard twist.
"Bill, look. You're right. I am not good at this; I am not good at feelings and communicating. John's better at being sympathetic, but he's not available right now. He said I had to try. You aren't talking to him and…" he floundered a bit. "We need you. We need you to get us into the Tower. We need you to help us."
Head bowed under the pressure of too much sorrow, too many memories, Wiggins rubbed his eyes. He stood and looked over the garden. There had been peace, of sorts here, momentarily, but he knew it had disappeared. He refused to look at the two lost souls on the bench. It hurt too much. It was too much. They had no idea.
Sod them. Sod everything.
He turned and left.
Back in the room he had been given, he threw himself on the bed, his arms pillowed his head. The tight well of tears he had been mostly successful at suppressing threatened him once more. He scrubbed his eyes and rolled over onto his stomach.
Exhausted and emotionally drained, he fell into a troubled sleep. In dreaming he replayed the conversation and the shock of discovery of what had happened to his sister, of what she'd become. There was no escaping it, even if he had wanted to. It taunted him and followed him into sleep.
Wiggins wasn't sure he had heard correctly. "What? What do you mean I've met her? I ain't talked to hardly anyone since we've been on this, this thing we are doing, let alone many women, only that Donovan and it ain't her, so who?" His heart was hammering loudly in his ears and he wasn't sure he heard Watson's next words clearly.
"Mary. Mary is your sister. Mycroft has…"
"Whoa, whoa no! No, that cat ain't my sister. Her name was Alice, not Mary!"
"Please Mr. Wiggins, if you would be so good as to sit down, John and I can explain." Watson threw him a look. "Very well, I can explain how I know for certain your sister is indeed John's wife."
Wiggins just stared. He heard a faint high-pitched hum in his head & he wondered why the room was growing dim. He felt firmness under his seat as Holmes pushed him into a chair. With detachment, he noticed that Watson was struggling to reach him to help him, which he found a little funny, as Watson was the one who was injured.
"Mr. Wiggins, can you hear me?" a soft voice asked him. He looked confusedly at Mycroft Holmes.
"Yeah. Yeah I can hear you. Just got a bit dizzy, is all." He groaned and ran a hand over his face. Then leaned forward until the vertigo had past.
Vision still flickering, he looked up into the pale face of John Watson. "Did you know?" Softly, deadly. He was through with them if he'd known, so terribly over all of the lying and secrets.
Watson shook his head and said, "No Bill, I did not." Watson's eyes were filled with unwavering sorrow and compassion. He held eye contact steadily for a long time and it was there, the truth, Watson was not lying about this, not holding back. Wiggins believed him. He believed him because there was a matching depth of horror in Watson's eyes he knew was mirrored in his own. Nodding slowly, he said, "Right. Well then." He squinted at Holmes. "So, umm, I have been believing she was dead all this time." The sound of his voice, even to his own ears, was raw and pained.
Holmes cleared his throat and sat down on another chair. "You should know, Mr. Wiggins, that I am the one who discovered this little connection between yourself and John. I have been trying to find chinks in Magnessen's armour, tying to discover ways of getting to him and have been investigating his people. When John began working with Sherlock, when he was first convinced to join with us, he was able to give me insight into many of the people surrounding him, including his wife, Mary. There were certain details he revealed to me, which I have been thinking about these past two years. When I discovered your involvement with my brother, I spoke to some of my contacts, delved into your background and I have since come to the conclusion that Mary Elizabeth Watson was at one time Alice Grace Wiggins."
"But how? I don't understand."
Holmes rolled his eyes, his lack of patience with Wiggins evidently loud and clear. Watson threw him another glare.
"I have my methods." A sniff, implying he wasn't going to waste time telling Wiggins what they were.
"Mycroft," Watson said quietly but sternly, the Captain coming through loud and clear.
Holmes stared hard at Watson, but the steel that ran through Watson's small frame was unbending. Holmes huffed and turned back to Wiggins. "Let's just say that Magnussen and I have several things in common, one of which is that I have magic at my disposal. Not the way he has."
"So you're a…"
"And you can do…"
"Yes, but on a different level. I use mine to find things out. I know things, things of importance. It doesn't always work the way I want it to," Holmes sniffed again. "But it works well enough. I also have at my disposal a vast network of people who are interested in reporting to me certain facts. It has taken a long time to build up trust. Now, can we get on with it?"
"You sound rather a lot like the Mage himself, Mr. Holmes. As if you are interested in power and control."
Another small smile, more like a smirk. "Nonsense. I am not interested in being in charge. I am only interested in reclaiming my brother and his," he paused and glanced at Watson, "his partner."
"Yeah, but Mycroft, you may never have been interested in being the face of power but you have always been interested in being the one who was in control."
A dark look was thrown at Watson. The two men glared at each other for an uncomfortably long time. "You will never forgive me will you, John? You and Sherlock?"
"I would if I thought it meant anything to you."
Wiggins looked from one to the other, wondering what else was not being said.
"Okay look, you two, just tell me about my sister."
"I will leave you to discuss this, John. You are more familiar with all of the details. I need to see to it that Sherlock makes it here before dawn." Holmes rose and left the room. Silence joined them as each thought about what had been voiced here tonight, the quiet finally broken by both men speaking at once.
"Look Bill, I honestly didn't know she had any other name until tonight. If I had known…"
"Holmes, Sherlock that is, said you and your wife were not to be talked about, not that I had time to say anything to you, but…"
They both stopped and John said, "Go ahead." A compassionate look graced his face.
Here is a good man, thought Wiggins. No matter what he had done in the past, he was a good man. Holmes had been right. Wiggins sighed and said, "I expect you were a bit surprised to discover your wife was a cat. Bad enough your boyfriend is a wolf. Must be hard, attracting these weird sorts."
Watson blinked and then laughed, bright, sharp, undertones of pain but humour was laced through it, preventing it from being completely dark. He shook his head and looked at Wiggins, a grim smile on his face. "I guess you could say I have a type. But Bill, my issues aren't what are important here. She's your sister. How are you handling this?"
A shrug of nonchalance both knew was faked. "I have spent a long time thinking she was dead and now to discover she ain't and she is working for the man who took her, well that's a lot, you know? I don't know. I don't know what to say or who to ask."
He bent his head again and stared at his folded hands.
There was movement from the bed and he looked up in time to see Watson getting up and out of it. "Whoa, you shouldn't be doing that. You're hurt."
"I'm fine. She just wrenched my bad shoulder and left some claw and teeth marks. I've had worse." He sat down on the floor beside Wiggins' chair, looking up at him. "Bill, I can tell you what I do know, but some of it won't be good. Do you understand? She isn't the same person you grew up with. She's not who I thought I'd married."
Tight tears welled up behind Wiggins' eyes and a scalding sensation permeated his lungs, but he nodded. "Better to know, than not. I need to know, John. I can handle more than you think. And it can't be any worse than what I've imagined."
"All right, but Bill, it really can." He shifted a bit to get more comfortable, a thoughtful look upon his face. "It's a long story and I'm not going to tell you everything tonight, but I will hit the highlights, okay? If you think of something to ask me, I will do my best to give you an honest answer." At Wiggins' nod, he launched into his tale.
"I worked for Magnussen for a long time. I am nether proud of that nor am I ashamed of most of what I had to do. I thought I was working for a good man, tough but fair. Someone who was interested in helping people recover. I was blind and stupid. There were, and are, a lot of good people working for him. Your sister is not one of them. I don't know what she was like growing up, but if she was a good person, if she was kind, it was driven out of her, by Magnussen and by his right hand man, Moriarty." There he paused as he looked at Wiggins as if he were trying to see how well he was handling it. Wiggins just stared at him, trying not to let his feelings show. He had asked for this, but he knew no matter what Watson said, he was wrong about this. His sister was a good person. She had to be.
Watson continued, "I met her through one of Moriarty's underlings. She had come with a group of new people to the Tower, additions to the guards. Magnussen was becoming concerned about fringe groups, Lestrade's group and the Holmes brothers, trying to take over. He said they were dangerous. So he sent for reinforcements. She was young and pretty, funny and seemed kind. I liked her right away. We decided to get married, too fast now it seems. Things were good for a while. It didn't last." He shifted a bit and stood. He sat back onto the bed.
"It all came to a head when I was sent out to track down the Holmes brothers. I found Sherlock, alone. He took one look at me and said I was an idiot, that I was too good for Magnussen. I didn't take it well. I tried to shoot him." Watson laughed, not bitter this time, but in fondness. "Long and short of it was he finally convinced me. I went with him to meet Mycroft. They showed me a lot of things that changed my mind. They covinced me that Mary was working alongside Moriarty as an assassin, killing innocent and not so innocent people." He cleared his throat; anger, shame and hurt were evident in his next words. "I left and went with him, freely and willingly, turned my back on everything. I am not proud of leaving Mary, but I hadn't felt alive, really alive until I met Sherlock." He looked away for a moment, a flush brightened his skin. Looking ashamed, but determined, he continued. "Not long after we went after Moriarty. Moriarty was killed and Magnussen was furious. He sent Mary after me. She shot Sherlock, winged him. She was going to shoot me too, but she told me she wouldn't because she loved me, that I was hers, all I had to do was come back with her. I said I couldn't love her anymore, not after everything she'd done before, but especially after she had shot Sherlock. She laughed. It wasn't her usual laugh. It was hard and cruel. She said there was no leaving Magnussen. She had been sent to bring me back dead or alive and to kill either Mycroft or Sherlock if not both. I told her I wouldn't let that happen. I told her to leave, to let us go and she wouldn't. I managed to knock her out and got Sherlock out of there. Not long after Sherlock and I, well..."
Wiggins could see how hard some of this was for Watson to say, but he didn't care. He felt his insides churn. He was having a great deal of difficulty listening to any of this.
During the break in his story, Watson stopped to drink some water from the glass. "She had asked me, just before I knocked her out, why, why I wouldn't come back with her. She had almost pleaded. I told her I couldn't, that I loved someone else now. She was furious and yelled and screamed at me, told me she had already lost everything she couldn't lose me. The rest you know. I stayed with Sherlock and soon after we were together, I woke up as a hawk. I don't know how. I do know why. I know Mary was punished along with us, for letting me escape, for not killing Sherlock and Mycroft. Didn't matter if she was overpowered by me. She had failed. Magnussen cursed all of us, me for leaving him and Sherlock for being in the way."
Wiggins just looked at Watson. He stood and said, "You're wrong. That Mary person? Your wife? She ain't my sister. She could never have done what you said."
He turned and left the room.
The clarity of the dream of the conversation with Watson morphed and muddled the deeper he fell asleep. This other dream was like swimming through molasses. The more he struggled the harder it was to move. He was lost in a tangle of brambles, which pulled and clutched at his sleeves. The brambles and branches turned into hands, hands trying to hold him back. Strange voices muttered and wailed on the dry, desiccate wind. He was looking for something, for someone. He couldn't find it, couldn't find them. Someone, a familiar voice, called his name. He turned, trying to brush and pull the hands to get them to let go, trying to get to the person who was calling, calling and crying.
A shape flowed by his side, large and dark. The wolf. He looked overhead and knew the hawk was there. He pushed and heaved his way through, finally coming to a clearing. There a woman stood, a pale woman with golden hair. She turned to him, chains upon her wrists. She begged him to let her go, to release her, to forgive her and forget her. A shadowy man came up behind her and placed a gun in her hand, a gun like Watson's, black and deadly. She lifted it up and aimed at the wolf. He tried to run faster, tried to stop her, but he couldn't reach her. The gun fired, shooting the wolf. Blood flowed from the still body lying on the ground. A shriek of anger called out of the sky as the hawk plummeted downward, claws extended. Again she took aim and fired, killing the hawk. The shadowy figure behind her tipped back his head and laughed, clapping his hands with glee. The shape pointed at him and a dark and indistinct voice said, "And now your brother and you will belong to me." The woman took aim and a loud report filled the air.
Wiggins woke with a start, his heart pounding and traces of tears on his cheeks. Darkness was just beginning to fill the room. He glanced around frowning at how late he'd slept. There was just enough light to make out the door. He left the bed, crossed the floor and went out to the hallway. He stood at the top of the grand staircase, where he could make out the soft murmur of voices coming from the floor below. He stood deep in thought, remembering details of the dreams, the conversation with Watson, the horror and sadness of the other one. A decision needed to be made. Squaring his shoulders, he trotted down the stairs, following the sound of the voices. He saw, upon arriving at the bottom, Watson and Mycroft Holmes stood in the door of Holmes' office. The wolf sat at Watson's feet and perked up his ears at Wiggins' arrival, tongue lolling. The two men ceased their conversation and turned to Wiggins.
Standing in the light of the office, he cocked his head and looked at them, Watson in particular. "I have been thinking. I have been remembering. I still don't want to believe she's who or what you say. I want to remember my sister for who she was. Even if she is this Mary, she is no longer Alice. It's time for me to move on, grow up I guess and let her go. I know what needs to be done and I will do what you ask. You and Sherlock have a plan to stop Magnussen. He's the cause of all of this, all of this sorrow and grief, all of this wanting to hurt people and control their lives. I will help you. I will help you get into that god-awful tower. I will help you kill that son of a bitch. I will help because there's nothing else left for me to do."
Watson smiled, sorrowfully, compassionately. "Let's get started then." And Wiggins followed him into the office.