AN: It's a Holmes Halloween special. Why? Because I wanted to. Warnings include mild Mycroft/A very young wife, a rather impish Holmes who is affected by the season, brief naughty words, and a situation that some may find scary. Also some Holmes abuse. Title and lyrics at the end are by Oingo Boingo. God, I miss them.
Readers of "The Girl": Ann Marie is in this because I couldn't resist. I'm not quite sure but I think that if you look at the timeline of the actual story and the time this takes place, this won't fit into it. So it's not "canon" to the story.
Non-Readers of "The Girl": This story features an OC from my other SH fan fiction. You don't need to have read it to get this. You may like to, though. Hint, hint. I promise she's not a Mary Sue.
"Sherlock, think back now. How many times in your lifetime have I turned to you and said 'Sherlock Holmes, I do not think this is a good idea'?"
"Too many times for my liking," the younger brother responded from the other side of his bedroom door as he prepared himself for the night ahead.
"And how often, after I've told you this and you did said act despite my warnings, have you caused damage to yourself, other people, or property of any ownership?"
"I've lost count. Could you tell me again?"
"Too many times for anyone's liking."
"You know what your problem is, Mycroft?"
"A younger brother who should have been treated for early dementia at birth?"
"Besides that. You're simply too mentally sedentary. Too set in your ways. Too comfortable in the niche you've formed for yourself."
"I moved and was married in the span of two months. My niche is back in Pall Mall along with my bachelorhood."
"And you're forming a new one, and it's simply not healthy. I'm doing this for your sake, brother."
Mycroft could not help but give a sound that could only be described as an irate chortle. "My sake? You plan to scare the hell out of your closest, pardon me, your only friend, my wife, and poor Inspector Lestrade, who should know better to accept an invitation from you, for my sake? Sherlock, what if you give someone a heart attack!"
"For one thing, we have a doctor in the room, and I know enough of medicine to tend to him. Two, by conventional calculations you're the only one at risk of a heart attack, dear brother, which is why I'm informing you in advance."
"No, you are informing me in advance because I suspected something and you don't want me to ruin your fun."
"Sherlock, as your older brother and therefore person most responsible for protecting others from you, I am asking you to reconsider this. Ann will not be at all pleased with this. It's… that time of the calendar where her fuse is uncharacteristically short, and that means that no matter how much of a lady she is, if you make her mad I don't believe her above jumping the table and throttling you."
"I think the throttling would actually be worth seeing her do that."
"You think that now, but you would not believe how sharp nails that short can be."
The tall, lanky man emerged from the bedroom, taking a deep breath and repressing the impish grin that had been plastered on his face, easily replacing it with his usual solemn expression. "I have been planning this little event for over two months, I'm not calling it off because you can't control your wife."
"If she wishes to kill you, Sherlock, I don't honestly know if I want to stop her from doing so, and if she does murder you, she'll get to be tried as a minor. Why does Halloween bring out the worst in you? Remember the time when we were younger and you set up that 'body' in the kitchen for the maid to find and she had a nervous breakdown?"
"She was on the edge anyway."
"Remember how Father took the belt to both of us for your little prank because she told all her friends and it was a month before he could find another woman to work there and he had to pay her extra?"
Though he did remember one of the few true lashings their father ever gave, Holmes could not help but smile. "If he was alive today, Mycroft, I don't think he could still take you over his knee so easily."
"Just don't say I didn't warn you, that's all I have to say."
"You certainly said a lot more than you needed to, then." The two brothers headed into the sitting room of 221b Baker Street, where the other three were about the room, all looking rather nervous.
The beautiful Ann Marie, fairly newly married and, Holmes suspected, still a virgin, was seated in one of the dining room chairs she had tentatively pulled away from the round table in the middle of the room. Slender, young, and rather brainless, she was mismatched to her husband in every way. Holmes knew that he had only married her to save her from the life her destitute father was to force her into, but he still thought him a fool for settling for a girl with the practicality (and fragility) of a doll.
She looked apprehensive, but then, she had looked that way since he had first met her, which had been on the day she married his brother. Theirs had been an impromptu affair, not for pregnancy as it usually was but for a lucky hand of cards Mycroft had played in the Stranger's Room that had not turned out to be so lucky. Or at least they would not have been for Holmes; for one reason or another, his brother seemed to be getting quite fond of the near-empty-headed seventeen-year-old blonde creature that he now had trailing at his side like a loose thread.
Watson was in his own armchair, his position comfortable but for a pipe, which he was reluctant to smoke for though she never said anything, he knew that his friend's sister-in-law was sensitive to the smell and the smoke itself. Though he seemed placid to the unobservant eye, inside he was just as apprehensive as the girl looked and wondering just what the devil was going on. Even after year upon year of following after Holmes, of recording his process of thought, of thinking he understood it, he always did something like this that threw him off entirely.
Lastly there was Inspector G. Lestrade, who had settled himself in Holmes's chair with no small amount of discomfort at usurping the physical place of the great detective if not the actual position. Long, though not nearly as tall as either of the Holmes brothers, his lengthy legs were bent in much the same manner Holmes's usually were, though that was where the similarities ended. The inspector sat up straight as opposed to a sulking slouch, and his rash of gingery hair was unlike the detective's thick, dark locks. His look of discontentment could not only be attributed to his seat; he, like the other three unawares, was anxious as to what was to occur that night.
It was the night of the devil, some said. Satan's birthday. Most who did not handle snakes at their church services, however, dismissed it as a now childish remnant of a pagan tradition. Either way, there was something about the night that always made the occult and witch's magic seem a little more possible no matter how illogical.
"Gentleman, and lady," greeted Sherlock, much to the aggravation of his elder brother. "I'm rather glad you all showed up for this little experiment. I think either way it will prove most entertaining. And with five of us here… Well, it may well stand to increase our odds of success."
"But," piped up Ann Marie, perpetually fiddling with a ringlet of hair. "I thought that six was the number of the devil. Six six six. Is Mrs. Hudson joining us?"
"Our landlady is off visiting her sister," Watson offered. "I don't think anyone else is expected. Holmes?"
"You are right, a rarity, that six is traditionally the number of demons, but we are not trying to summon demons, now, are we? We are hoping to contact a human, a deceased human but a human nonetheless, and five is the number of mankind. It also holds the power of being thoroughly pagan, as this practise is heralded to be, being the number of points on the pentagram."
Mycroft did not know why he was playing along like this. His brother was making the three of them more and more anxious, and his sibling was too old to be permitted to carry on pranks, even on All Hallows Eve. But perhaps it would teach him a lesson if Watson or Lestrade gave him a good sock in the mouth at the end of the evening. And yet the girl was already nearly trembling in her seat; she had never struck him as one of exceptionally steady constitution.
"Ann," he spoke up. If Sherlock insisted on frightening the two men, fine, but he did not want to force a young girl through his antics so early on in their marriage. "If you want to leave, we'll go home."
"Yes, of course." Holmes gave a smirk that he knew would twist her knobs. His sister-in-law was not fond of him by fault on his own part. He had purposely embarrassed her, privately mind, by giving a suggestion as to a position that would keep her health in mind taking into account his brother's large bulk. And on another occasion inquired her as to how she felt about the fact that her husband's chest was more prominent than her own. He had never known a person could blush so deeply without fainting. "By all means, Mrs. Holmes, if you feel too weak…"
She stood at this, picking up her chair and gracefully returning it to the round table, sitting down neatly upon it. "I think I shall be fine, Mycroft, Mr. Holmes."
His smirk widened and he gestured to the four other empty chairs.
Mycroft sighed, easing his corpulent frame into the seat beside his wife while Watson took the place on his other side and Lestrade tentatively took the remaining chair between the girl and where Holmes was to obviously sit.
"Now, I'll assume you've all heard a sufficient amount about séances to know what they entail?"
"It's been a while since my childhood," admitted the inspector, eyes darting around the table as if searching for some affirmation that he was not the only one in partial ignorance.
"We tried them a few times," Ann Marie murmured, bowing her head slightly. She had just graduated that year, Spence's last semester ending in January. The school was known for turning out brides, and an altered timetable accommodated the ever popular spring weddings. "At Spence's. It never worked. Do you honestly expect this to do anything?"
"I try not to expect anything, an experiment like this should be approached with an unbiased mind. If you'd spent a little less more with your nose in a science text, perhaps you'd know that. But to be honest… This will be more of a social gathering I believe. Four of the five of us work hard, can we not be permitted a little novelty in our lives?"
A comment about the "novelty" of the needle marks she knew lined Holmes's arms was on the tip of the girl's tongue but she merely bit it.
"In any case, a refresher course will be given for those of us who have not donned a school uniform in an age. We will all join hands." Holmes noted the blush that rose to Lestrade as well as Ann Marie now, as the two were beside each other. He could also swear he detected the barest hint of a glare from his brother to the inspector. Most unsettling. "Then we will close our eyes and implore the spirits. With any luck…" He gestured to the table where the long paper was set out with letters, numbers, and the phrases "Yes" and "No". There was also a small metal ornament on rolling ball bearings with a circle of glass in the centre. "This will move… When we hear it, we shall open our eyes and see what the spirits have to say."
"We used glasses. At Spence's. We all put our fingers on them."
"I found this in a curio shop, it is what gave me the notion for this. Italian, I believe. Traditionally the fingers are placed on this, but will it not be more interesting if it moves completely of its own accord?"
"Holmes, you're being ridiculous," sighed Watson, rolling his eyes. "You expect that thing to move with no guidance?"
"As I told Mrs. Holmes, no, but will it not be amazing if it does?" he smiled, lighting the candles on the table before dimming the lamps and making long strides across the room to rest in his own chair. "Now… Join hands if no one's modesty will be entreated on. Now, Inspector, her husband is within arm's reach of you, remember, so hands above the table when we close our eyes and ask the spirits to come hither."
This made him scowl furiously but his hand did join hers and then Holmes's own as the five linked themselves and closed their eyes. Mycroft felt the girl's finger twitch, a repressed urge to twirl at her hair.
Watson's voice was the next they heard after a long pause. "Exactly how are we meant to ask the spirits to come hither?"
Silence dominated once again. Then…
"Does anyone else smell something odd?"
"Is that gunpowder? Mr. Holmes, are the bullet holes in the wall really…"
"I said hush!"
The blonde pouted but obeyed. Mycroft felt her finger move again.
Finally, after what seemed to be forever, Lestrade spoke again. "Holmes, really, this is…"
"Ssh…!" hissed Ann Marie, freezing. Both Mycroft and Lestrade felt her grip their hands tightly.
The inspector fell silent.
Ten eyes, four grey, four brown, and two green, shot open to see the little metal indicator making tiny circles in the middle of the lettered paper. Three faces went quite pale; of course, those faces belonged to the three unawares.
"Oh my god…" the girl whispered, loosening her grip when the inspector's hand went slightly limp and glancing over to make sure he hadn't fainted. He hadn't, but he looked close to it. "Oh my god…"
"S-Spirit." Even Holmes's strong voice faulted as he finally found it in him to speak. "What is your name, spirit?"
It gave one more loop, lazier this time, before moving with a clear destination. The letters were mouthed by five sets of lips as they were revealed.
It drifted towards "Yes", finally resting on it and giving a broad turn around the phrase.
"How did you die, Francis?"
"Do you think he was…?" inquired Ann Marie. The men beside her could feel her hands trembling. When she glanced over at Mycroft, however, his face was largely unchanged. But of course, she mused with a touch of pride amongst her fear. He keeps his composure even in an ordeal such as this.
"Could have been a fall," Watson replied too quickly to hide his nerves. "A natural death."
The indicator traveled from "D" to "No" with a sharp whip, quivering back and forth.
"Sherlock?" It was the first time the girl had called him by his given names. It was too far gone for Mister and she was not about to call him by a last name she shared with him. "What happened to the… The previous tenant? Or the one before that…? How old is this house?"
"Holmes, that stain we found," the doctor cut in without giving him a chance to answer his sister-in-law. "When we were poking around the fireplace, we saw that stain just under the carpeting… We thought it was some of your chemicals, you didn't even bother to test it…"
As if to affirm, the indicator moved. H-O-M-E.
"We live here now," spoke Holmes, voice becoming stronger.
It jerked back in forth in anger before spelling again. O-U-T.
"Please," attempted Ann Marie as if trying to reason with a person and not a vengeful spirit.
"But we're not…!" the doctor protested frantically.
There was a great noise and a flash of light. Mycroft had known this was coming, but it still startled him, and in pure reflex leaned sideways and pulled the girl to him as if to shield her. This action surprised him as much as it did her, and when they were left in darkness he could almost feel the heat of her blush before he released her.
Laughter was heard.
Watson found the closest gas lamp once their hands were broken apart. Lestrade's lengthy form was slumped over onto the carpeting with his eyes rolled back in his head. The girl was panting and as pale as paper. Mycroft looked furious. Holmes was the one laughing. The whole room reeked of gunpowder.
Mycroft had not known his wife long enough to be able to map her personality in full, but he had been right about her reaction. In a split second she was on her feet and in another she was launching herself. He anticipated this, however, and that meant that her hands closed around the air a foot from his brother's scrawny neck rather than around it as Mycroft held her back.
"You… You bastard!" Even her husband had never heard so much as a "hell" out of her. "You think it's funny to toy with people for your own amusement?!"
"Tremendously so," he replied with his insufferable smirk he reserved mainly for her.
"Let me go, Mycroft! You know he deserved this!"
"I'm sorry, Ann, but I'd rather there not be real bloodstains on this carpet. Mrs. Hudson would hang the lot of us." Though Mycroft was not a particularly strong man, he was a large one, and his tiny bride weighed less than eight stone, meaning that he could easily hold her back for as long as need be no matter how sorely tempted he was to just let his brother face her fury. "She'll wear herself out eventually, don't worry."
"I suppose as her husband you have the best idea of her stamina, hmm…?"
Ann Marie gave another growl, launching forward again but being hampered by her husband. Not ladylike behaviour, not in the least bit, but for a lady at a particular time of the month with a particular brother-in-law… She believed that the founders of Spence's Academy would grant her this one episode.
The evening drew on with explanation. Lestrade, fine other than the fact that he had passed out cold, still rested on the floor though the doctor had placed a pillow under his head. Holmes, once Ann Marie had stopped shouting long enough for him to speak and be heard, showed the strong magnet under his pant leg, strapped to his knee, that had been raised and used to manipulate the brass indication through the purposely thin top of the table. Had anyone's hand been down there he surely would have bumped it, therefore they had all held hands above the tabletop.
The candles were obviously mixed with gunpowder and Ann Marie, whose nose was more sensitive than the others', had caught a whiff of it early on but had written it off to Holmes's indoor target practise, which he had done earlier that day in preparation. It was settled in the middle of the candles to go off once enough time had passed, but there was not enough to do any damage to anything other than the cheap table, which now bore several scorch marks. The bloodstain was iron fluoride, planted there months in advance with his chemistry set.
Eventually Mycroft had clamed the girl, and drained by her efforts to kill her kin and eager to escape him, she had fallen asleep with her upper body resting on her husband's ample middle. Watson had gone off to get Lestrade a blanket, thinking it best not to wake him at the moment.
"If I must pick one of your few good attributes as a husband," drawled Holmes, picking up a pipe, glancing at the blonde and then setting it down again. It would be that you must make an excellent pillow."
His brother did not comment, merely fixed his gaze on the beautiful girl settled in his lap.
The detective rose and strode over, placing a hand on Mycroft's shoulder. He knew that, in time, all would be forgiven. His eyes then travelled to his sister-in-law and he bent down slightly. "… She looks almost human when she sleeps, does she not?"
Ann Marie's brown eyes snapped open and she twisted around, finally wrapping her hands around his throat. She smiled at the surprised, gargled cry. She knew Mycroft would pry her off quickly, but she had gotten this one in, and Victorian wives could be happy on one good shot for quite some time.
Oh listen, Tender Lumplings, let me take you by the hands
I'll take you from this hellhole to the promised land
But don't blame me, oh children, if those promises don't keep
'Cause promises like lives, can be bought so very cheap.