Author's Note: My humble offering for Day Six of Sherlolly Appreciation Week 2017. It's canon compliant for Series 4... with, you know, authorial liberties. Title is inspired by e.e. cummings; I just can't quit the man. Not beta'd or anything, so all errors are wholly mine.
"Play for me."
Sherlock didn't know when he realised Eurus was testing him, but he supposed he had been on guard––eyes sharp, ears pricked––ever since he, John, and Mycroft landed on the UK's own version of Alcatraz.
"I need to know how you got out of here," he pressed.
"You know already. Look at me." Eurus deflected, erasing any doubt that she is, in fact, a Holmes, and insisted on both counts, "Look and play."
He barely struck two notes from Bach's concerto when his sister interrupted him. "No," she said sharply. "Not Bach. You clearly don't understand it." There was a hint of a challenge in her voice. "Play you."
His chin still on the violin's rest, Sherlock repeated, "Me?" He looked at Eurus then, trying to decipher a sign from her face, if she had somehow worked out that there was, indeed, a secret melody buried deep inside him––one that made him think of brown eyes and… the closest word he can come up with to describe the feeling was home––longing to be played.
Thankfully, she gave no such indication. His gratitude was short-lived though, for he felt palpably unsettled by Eurus's stare boring into him, and with every moment, he became less certain of which of them was actually inside a prison cell.
"You," she insisted.
So he dusted the cobwebs off an old tune that reminded him of the glint of steel and stolen caresses on porcelain skin, one distant night in Karachi. He struggled to concentrate on his playing, faltering a little on more than a few notes, unsure if he was even playing on the right key. He knew, however, like his encounters with its muse––who was probably ensconced in some sultana or senator's bed––the strain was innocuous.
But still, he was thrown by Eurus's question. "Oh, have you had sex?"
"Why do you ask?" he volleyed. As he listened to his sister recount her sexual conquest––he would find the time to be Victorian and discomforted by it later on––he inwardly fretted over what other knowledge Eurus divined of him.
"... You couldn't really tell..."
He couldn't know then, that hours later, his hands and his heart would be exposed raw, and that he would be made to suffer the most excruciating three minutes of his life and, subsequently, its aftermath.
"Is that vibrato, or is your hand shaking?"
NSY officer John Rance had certainly hit a career high tonight. Not only was he (sort of) introduced to the famous net detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his blogger, Dr. John Watson, but he also had the honour of escorting the pair back to London. Holmes was using DI Lestrade's mobile, talking to someone with an urgent tone, and nodded at Rance in acknowledgement. His brush with celebrity didn't end there. No sooner had he entered the vehicle behind him and the driver, did Holmes himself ask to borrow his phone to send a quick text.
"Of course, sir," said Rance, trying to tame the eagerness in his voice. It was't everyday that a consulting detective with an cult internet following asked him for a favour. Holmes returned the phone a few minutes later, and everyone settled in for the long ride home in silence.
At the end of his shift, shortly after sunrise, Rance let curiosity get the better of him. He scrolled through the sent messages folder for Holmes's text. He wondered for an exhilarating moment whether Holmes was onto another case, having closed this last one so dramatically. The message, however, was nothing as sensational as he had imagined.
Please let me explain.
Rance frowned, vaguely wondering what the text meant, but out of respect for Holmes, he permanently deleted the message. He would simply leave this bit out of the story he would tell his mates when they're out for drinks at the pub later that night.
Running on the little sleep he got in the car ride back to London, Sherlock––or, more precisely, his lower back and posterior––decided that the metal bench in the ladies' locker of Bart's lab was purely meant for ornament rather than function. His body protested at his attempt to find a more comfortable position, wincing at his tender bruises and aching joints. When the spare phone he'd borrowed from John emitted a muffled vibration in his coat pocket, he moved rigidly to retrieve it.
Unlocking the screen, he saw that "Lady S" had given him the all-clear. Despite not being given to celestial appeals, he raised his eyes in relief. He must remember to thank Lady Smallwood personally. With his brother currently indisposed, he called in a favour to her at such an ungodly hour, he almost felt guilty. But he needed to make sure that Molly's flat wasn't riddled with undetonated bombs after all, and Lady Smallwood was the only person with the right resources he could trust.
Another text followed: Trevors being located.
God, he could really use a cigarette right now, he pleaded with the ceiling.
At the sound of footsteps––he'd know them anywhere––he turned his head toward the locker room doorway to find her standing there. "Molly," he pronounced. He stood up quickly, as if by reflex, the soles of his shoes squeaked against the linoleum floor in his haste. He reminded himself of genteel noblemen who stood in the presence of ladies in his mother's period dramas. His sore muscles only cried out a little.
Molly wore a straight line on her mouth, and her knuckles whitened as she held her handbag tighter. She deliberately walked passed him, eyes intent on her locker. She divested herself of her civilian clothes and put on her lab coat. He caught her eyes momentarily in the mirror hanging on her locker door, but she slammed it shut before they could make proper contact. He didn't need her to turn around and say so, but she said it anyway, "I don't want to talk to you right now, Sherlock."
He certainly didn't need to hear the plaintive, tired tone in her voice. He understood. "Okay," he said in a soft voice, not minding at all if she heard it crack between the two small syllables. He turned his body to leave, and over his shoulder––ignoring the sharp pain of his stiff neck––he repeated what he said to her through the ether earlier that morning, and hoped she understood, too. "I'm sorry."
"So," John began casually, dusting his hands together in a poor attempt to rid them of soot. "You been in to see Molly yet?"
"Molly?" Sherlock echoed absently, his eyes fixed to the ground while he spun in a small circle, trying to find an empty spot on the charred floor.
"Molly Hooper," John clarified, as if he and Sherlock were burdened with the acquaintance of a confusing abundance of Mollys.
"Yes, Molly. No, I haven't," which wasn't really a lie. Sherlock's expression darkened slightly at the memory. He groaned quietly as he set down the blackened bison skull on an area of the floor he and John just finished sifting through.
"Yes, you have," John insisted. "What happened?"
"She didn't want to see me."
"You talk to her?"
"I apologised," Sherlock replied vaguely. He looked about his immediate circumference, sweeping for an object of distraction from the conversation. He mentally red-flagged all future conversations with John that began with long, drawn out "So"s.
"For what?" John continued to press.
"General, blanket sort of apology." He waved his hands indistinctly in the air, as if to illustrate.
"Sherlock, you know you're going to have to get better at––whatever that is..." John in turn, waved a hand at Sherlock's general direction.
He bit back an impulse to snap at his friend, And what exactly is it, John? That's something the old Sherlock would do. He ran his hands through his messy hair of curls, if only to keep his unoccupied hands from trembling. He sighed and looked at John for the first time, and said solemnly, "I know."
Thank you so so much for reading! An update should follow soon. Kudos and comments are greatly (and gratefully!) appreciated. I'm always on the lookout for Sherlolly blogs to follow and stalk, so please come say hello on Tumblr. Cheers!