Alternate Postings: LJ, AO3
Disclaimer: Not my world.
Notes: This is a ficlet I've been poking at for years. Given how long it's been since the episode and subsequent episodes, I'm sure someone must have done a missing scene for the off-screen outcome of this particular bit before now, but here's my take on it.
Summary: Gran had warned him he'd end up badly if he kept on the way he was going. He ought to have followed her advice.
Ripper the Handyman
This is what you get for wanting to be known as a hard man, a tough man, the one with no heart, the one who can do any job, no fussing, 'Ripper' thought to himself, listening to the old bird bustle and fuss at the bottom of the ladder. You get to be the one assigned to execute the one target in the lot that reminds you of your Gran.
They hadn't even shot fingers for it. The Boss had waved a hand and said "work it out amongst yourselves" for who was going to do who. Seb and Alex had presented the old lady to him like she was a special treat.
He supposed it couldn't have been any other way. Alex had ties in Scotland Yard already, and would have to work his way in deeper to be close enough to Lestrade when the Boss played his end game. Seb had to stay loose to attend to other parts of the operation as the Boss required.
Seb was second-in-command, though no one said it officially. He spoke for the Boss when the Boss was out or ranting, spinning castles of blood in the sky, and no one could understand what he was asking to have done but didn't want to say because that would be suicide. Most of the crew never saw the Boss, not directly. Ripper had personally seen the Boss on a tear just that once, going over a plan he had in his head that involved apples and fairy tales and kiddie shows, and somehow all that would lead to a lot of death and the end of Sherlock Holmes.
Seb had listened and asked just two questions, then started passing out orders. It was magic to see the sense being put together out of the Boss's plan, and in the end he'd felt thick for not having understood it how the Boss had said it in the first place. Ripper didn't know all of parts of the plan, no one other than Seb did, but he understood his own place in it, and that was all he'd needed to know.
He hadn't expected being the one to end the old girl though. He thought he might get the little doctor. Getting to the old girl took some time investment. Being a local handyman, establishing himself in part of a work crew working elsewhere on the street, then offering to do house repairs inside 221 for a few extra quid. At first he thought he'd never get in; what old bird was going to let him into her house, what with the big, tough appearance he'd built over the years of running with the Boss's crew?
But when the door had opened, it was all too easy to let "Ripper" go and let himself be Tyler; the respectful soft-spoken boy his Gran had raised, deferential and cautious with his size, knowing people found it intimidating.
It was nice to be that again.
However, now he was looking at the gun in his tool chest and feeling like the worst bit of dog leavings in the tread of an orthopaedic shoe.
Ripper had been up the wrong side of a ladder with a drill when Holmes's little doctor friend had run in and back out, not even noticing him up there. Time was ticking down.
"What was all that about, I wonder?" Mrs. Hudson tutted, watching the taxi pull away with Dr Watson inside.
Tyler cleared his throat, climbing down the ladder, not sure if he should venture an answer or if that would seem odd. When she crossed her arms like that, Mrs Hudson even looked just like his old Gran, about to give him what for for being dragged home by the coppers again with another ASBO. Tyler's Gran was bigger of course; he'd got his size from mum's side of the family, which was Gran. Mrs Hudson seemed though to be in some ways just as big as his Gran, but in smaller packaging. Concentrated Gran.
"Oh! Here you've been working all day, you must be parched. You stay right there, the kettle's just boiled. I'll get you a cuppa." She bustled off before he could turn it down.
I can't. I can't kill her. She just had the bad luck to be someone Holmes had got attached to. A sweet old lady alone in the world, adopting a great lanky trouble-making sod of a nosy detective that drove the Boss spare. 'Ripper' had killed people with less reason before, but...
If I don't get the clear in twenty minutes, I have to. The Boss will do me in if I don't, or Seb will. He'd rather it be Seb, honestly. He'd heard things about what the Boss did to people when he did choose to dirty his hands personally. Gave him shivers.
"Here you are," chirped Mrs Hudson, handing him a mug. He smiled politely and took it. The tea was hot and fragrant. He took a sip; milk and loads of sugar, just how he took it. It was like magic. Gran magic. He drank deeply, trying to settle his nerves. It only made them worse.
Tyler missed his Gran. She'd raised him, right from the off. Barely knew his mum. Loud bright and brash, smelling of alcohol and a hundred types of men's cologne, clouds of smoke in the house when she was there. Gran would worry at her and she would shout and scream back, every time she stopped in was another fight. The last he'd seen of her at Gran's was when he was eight. Mum had screamed and overturned Gran's china cabinet, and Gran had told her to leave.
He thought he'd seen his mum again on the street, now and then. A vague-eyed junkie, or a tart on the corner, or an older woman greyed out by a too-fast life, huddled in a shawl outside the school yard his final year.
His Gran had raised him right, or at least tried. When he got in with a bad crowd and dropped out of trade school, the look on her face... when he thought of it, it still hurt his heart. He was doing what life had taught him was the way to get respect from his peers, though. Training for a steady job was nothing to them and that made him nothing. Help a mate out by roughing up a mark though, he got respect; new friends, bigger fish in a bigger pool.
Gran never gave up on him, though. Even when he was in the worst of it up to his neck and Gran knew all about it, if he went round Gran's, she'd still fix him a cuppa. She'd ask after his health, tutt him for his choices in life, but never in anger. Just worried, caring about him. He wasn't like his mum; he didn't shout back at his Gran. Really, he knew she was right, but it was too late. This was what he'd chosen to do with his life, and he had respect and powerful friends because of it.
He never stayed at hers long once he got deep into it; didn't want to bring any of it back to her door, and didn't want her to tell him to get out, like she had his mum. She'd died before he got in with the Boss. Sad as it was she was gone, Tyler was grateful she hadn't seen what he'd become, what he'd made himself into. But now here he was, inside someone else's Gran's door with a gun, drinking her tea. He drained the dregs of the mug. The taste was bitter at the end.
He checked the time. No all clear. Nothing for it then. Ten more minutes and- he yawned, I'll have to- he sat down heavily, empty mug drooping, To... Tyler looked down at the mug as he slumped against the entryway wall, then looked up to see the old bird standing there. Her arms were crossed, her face pinched and stern.
"Just a sedative, mind," she said, plucking the mug from his hand before it could fall to the floor. "I might not know much of anything about house repairs, but I do know you don't need a handgun with a silencer on to do them. I've called the police, they'll deal with you."
Tyler blinked slowly.
"You've made some very bad choices with your life, young man. I hope that this will be a learning experience for you." With that the little old lady bustled primly back into her flat, carrying his mug to the sink.
Just like Gran, Tyler thought, falling unconscious with a smile.