AN: I know what you're thinking. "Chewing Gum, you have too many stories on the go and quite frankly, you need quality to go with that quantity." To my credit, I never intended to post this. Why? Because it makes "Paternity" look normal. I wrote it for practise when I mixed up two AIM conversations, one about Sherlock Holmes and one about "The Wall". To sum this story up, it's a kind-of-not song fic about the span of time between when Holmes was told he could return to London to the moment before he reveals himself to Watson. I say kind-of-not song fic because while it does contain song lyrics, they are widely spaced and the majority are contained within dialogue. All lyrics will be in bold, and are from the last three songs on the album "The Wall" by Pink Floyd. The song featured in this chapter is "Stop".
This story is dedicated to the memory of Richard Wright, Pink Floyd founder, whose passing prompted me into posting this. You do not ever need to have heard the songs to read this, but I recommend you do (warning, while said three songs are reasonably clean, other Pink Floyd songs usually aren't). I'm writing with the Berlin recording in mind, not the original. This takes place in no previously established fan fiction universe. There will be nine chapters in total. I hope you enjoy; this was interesting to write, to say the least.
ALTHOUGH YOU HAVE TIME OFF REMAIN WHERE YOU ARE STOP OUR COUSINS ARE VISITING AND WE HAVE NO ROOM FOR YOU STOP HOTELS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE THIS TIME OF YEAR STOP MY STOCKS ARE GROWING STOP THERE IS HOPE FOR MY FORTUNE YET STOP
He was living under the name Jacob Hanau, and that was who the telegram was addressed to, but under the fake, thick brow and the deplorable sideburns lurked a man whose death had flung London into a state of mass mourning three years previously.
He had been in France four months in his current guise to help with the capture of a particularly gruesome serial killer, and now it appeared that he was to be there a while longer. When Mycroft said the cousins were visiting, it meant that foreign diplomats were pressuring him. His brother was more optimistic than he; he could foresee at light at the end of the tunnel. After three years, Holmes was not so sure.
Moriarty had been smashed like a bowl of eggs at the bottom of Reichenbach, but he had left many behind who all wished to finish off the detective. The evil, spiteful man had left them books of his hideaways and even some of his code with his brother to help them in their pursuit and it was given to many after his death was confirmed.
If the professor could not kill Holmes himself, he wanted the deed done by anyone who could read and pick up a dagger.
Holmes had a tiny desk at the Sûreté headquarters on which he kept his pens, four of which were filled with poison rather than ink, and a framed picture of three people who were not his parents and younger sister. He had paperwork he pretended to fill out but was actually done by toadying officers-in-training who did not know why he was excused from such menial tasks.
Jacob Hanau was born in Germany, moved to England then to France. He had been with Scotland Yard a good many years, as his file would say. The top brass at the Yard did not know who Inspector Hanau was, only that if they wished to keep their jobs they would give him a glowing review.
He wore a smart-looking uniform and all the of the secretaries tittered when he was around because he was such an amiable chap when other people were around. He was bright but not too bright; he hinted others off as to his deductions so that he would not stand out. He had a solitary flat that his landlady cleaned every two days and there was a café just around the corner from it that made excellent coffee.
It was a quiet existence. Not without its excitement, which was what kept him sane when he knew his Boswell suffered from the loss of him. There was also the fact that Watson had a wife to take comfort and shelter in.
His main work was over, but Mycroft told him to stay put. He may have defied his brother had he not known the consequences his actions would have on the world stage. Whitehall simply could not deal with his re-emergence and the international demands at the same time.
I wanna go home
He trudged home in the aftermath of a rainstorm. His cuffs were getting wet but he did not care. He tipped his hat to the giggling women, he clapped a fellow inspector on the shoulder and congratulated him on a recent case an idiot could have solved, and he held the door open for some high-ranking director's wife and tipped his hat to her as well, which made her blush but smile.
In short, he was unlike himself in every way. He had to be. He had arrested two men in the last three months who had been plotting to track him down. Instead of going to his superiors, they went to French Whitehall representatives. They would likely be convicted as weak-minded. How could one kill a man who was already dead?
Holmes longed for London. For all its dirt and smoke and depravity, he loved the city. Perhaps it was because of all that that he loved it. He dreamed of the day he would reveal himself to Watson, to once again be among the living, to give up the charade.
For the moment, however, there were worse things he could have been doing. The missions up until France had not been at all pleasant, and as the time wore on and the date when he would meet with Watson again drew nearer, he began to dare to hope, as opposed to those cold nights huddled in a shelter when the loneliness would gnaw at his stomach so furiously it would physically hurt him.
He fancied himself to be a heartless brain, but on those long, inky nights he would have given his very soul for a rare embrace from his brother and a pipe shared with Watson by a crackling fire.
One night he had woken in the mud, swearing he had heard Mrs. Hudson complaining about his mess.
The nightmares were less frequent now, although he often came to with an unsettling jolt. Hearing Watson or Mrs. Hudson or even Lestrade when it was merely a stranger had not quite ceased but was beginning to. His life was settling, and yet he did not deem those years his true life.
Telegrams usually came once every two weeks directly from Mycroft if nothing was wrong. It had only been a week and a half, but there was a yellow envelope slipped under the door of his flat, rain-splattered and foreboding.
DORTHEAS HUSBAND HAS DIED OF CANCER STOP SHE IS DOING AS WELL AS TO BE EXPECTED STOP IF YOU AGREE I BELIEVE IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO RETURN STOP IF NO RESPONSE I WILL FETCH YOU IN A WEEKS TIME STOP
Holmes had never appreciated Watson's codename, but that was the last thing on his mind when his flint eyes scanned the words moments before his breath was drawn from him.
He had mentioned she was sick before they had left for their last case... He had seemed so worried, and his closest friend, his Jonathon Boswell, had told him not to worry, that it was likely womanly problems.
The case had been more important. Moriarty had to be stopped. And now he was alone.
Take off this uniform
He all but tore his uniform coat from his lean back, flinging it in the general direction of the coat tree. It hit the wall, brass buttons making a brief clatter there and then another when they made contact with the hardwood in a dully-coloured heap.
He then threw himself on the settee hard enough to make it lurch forward, though he hardly noticed this. His face met with the rough fabric, not caring for the abrasion as he hid his face from observers who were not even present.
This was not his apartment. This was not him. This was not Sherlock Holmes behaving so childishly. This was Jacob Hanau's apartment, and these were his swirling, engulfing emotions. Sherlock Holmes was a heartless brain. He had to be. Jacob Hanau was weaker.
But he was not real. He was as much as a uniform as the easily discarded coat, and at the moment Holmes was not sure if he wanted to rip his very skin apart to find his true self amongst the masquerade or to retreat to the depths of Hanau's mind and take refuge in such tawdry displays.
And leave the show
He did not mourn for Mary, not entirely. He was regretful for her death, but the sorrow that was threatening to fill his lungs and drown him was for the whole sordid charade that had started when his hurtling body struck an outlet of rock and spared him from a watery demise.
He had died that day, not in the Falls but somewhere between his fall and his landing. Sherlock Holmes died and was mourned, and a series of characters used his body as a masquerade costume after that. He had not permitted himself to be Sherlock Holmes since that day, because to do so would be to embrace all of Sherlock Holmes's memories.
No. This was not happening. Time rarely passed, and it was only in months when it did, not years. This was not real; merely a pantomime to amuse himself and the government, but it was a pantomime that simply could not end.
Not when the sorrow coming upon him was swelling with each wretched breath. He could not stand these revolting, crippling emotions, and yet when he gave a gasp to restrain tears, it was Sherlock Holmes, not Joseph Hanau, who wept.
And I'm waiting here in this cell
The room, once adequately large for a solitary bachelor but now threatening to crush him between its walls, at once ceased to be his humble home and began to be a dungeon. His chest tightened although he was not in any way claustrophobic.
Release. He needed release.
He had only used once since he had died, when he had been an old man with a mild fondness for the drug. Joseph Hanau did not get bored easily, however. He was a chap who loved far life far too much to skew it with narcotics, but Hanau lay in a pile, unseen, under his uniform jacket, and what remained of him was now fleeing from its physical form in hot, streaming tears.
He still kept it close, however. Just to remind himself that Sherlock Holmes had once existed. For now, it would serve as a jail key, but even he was unsure whether he was leaving the prison or entering it.
The cold metal slipped into its sheath of flesh, and soon the glorious and revolting drug mingled with his blood, becoming as much a part of it as the hormones that coursed through it.
He took too much. A part of him knew this, and another did not.
With his last dregs of strength, he slid down the papered wall of Joseph Hanau's flat, bowed his head, and closed his steel grey eyes.
Because I have to know
When he opened his eyes again, he was no longer leaning against a beige wallpaper. The stone was hard, rough, and the same colour as his eyes. His head rotated from left to right, and the high wall of smooth, huge bricks encircled him.
Benches appeared; first two rows of them, filled with blank-faced patrons, their rabble beginning faint but growing ever so gradually to a dull roar. Seats now, twelve of them, and twelve ordinary people, faces absent, entirely anonymous.
The towering pedestal of a judge. How many times had he been inside a courtroom? This environment was familiar, even comfortable. He rose, meaning to go to the gallery until he was told otherwise, perhaps to wait with the other witnesses.
He could not. He wore no physical chains, but he could not move more than three feet in either direction, held in place by some force he could not see.
He broke out into a cold sweat.
The judge appeared, huge and towering. What should have been a wig of powdered white was made of worms, yellow and withering, constantly moving yet not falling out of the shape of a judge's wig. The very sight of them made his stomach churn and toss. His robes were not a smart black, but rather the grey of a decayed funeral suit. His face could not be seen for the shadows, and yet his booming, horrible voice held enough to presume he was a fearful creature.
"We shall now begin the case," the judge all but hollered, silencing the jeering of the gallery. "The case of the Crown versus Sherlock Holmes!"
Have I been guilty all this time...?
Mycroft lied when he said he was coming in a week; he knew his brother would object to a sudden visit if he knew beforehand. In reality, the telegram had been sent by one of his employees after he had already boarded the fastest train there was to Paris. He found the apartment door left unlocked, something that bothered him to begin with.
When he entered, his sharp eyes fell upon the used needle and then upon his brother's pale form draped about the floor, his narrow chest heaving up and down, his eyes rolled back in his head.