For these next ten ficlets (five of which will be posted now, and the other five later due to length purposes), I put my iTunes on random, and wrote ficlets to what popped up. Which, while a very instructive exercise, was . . . interesting, to say the least. It provided lots of self insight. (I mean, how many songs lend themselves well to certain things before one should worry? )
Anyway, that is enough of my rambling - Enjoy.
Part Two: "between melody and movement"
"My rhyme isn't good just yet,
My brain and my tongue just met,
And they aren't friends so far."
- "Consequence of Sounds", by Regina Spektor
It had started, if Sherlock remembers correctly – which he always does – very young.
He noticed things, things past the obvious. Things like how his brother was growing too fast for his body to keep up with – all forehead first, it would seem. Things like how Kenneth Leads had been kissing Penny Wentworth because of the shade of very berry lip-gloss that had been on the boy's fingers from where he had try to wipe it away. Eleven year old girls did overdo the lip-gloss, he knew now.
He tried to say these things aloud, and provide an outlet for the thoughts that seemed to ramble over and over in his mind like rapids. At times, that fight for expression felt as if he were trying to find a hole in the ocean. Most of the time, he merely ended up tongue tied, with a small voice and glaring eyes and his mother all thats-very-nice-dear while stirring her tea – but his brother is older, with a tongue like a viper, and he could talk circles around anybody. Including his baby brother.
This curious case of awkwardness shows itself when his mind connects point A to point B without stopping to consider that his deductive work could be construed as 'tattling' to his peer's mind. While Mycroft was quick to tell him that Penny's father was the something or the other with some position or other that meant absolutely nothing to him – he really did have more important things to worry about. Such as how Kenneth was now out to get him – with fists twice as big as his own (he grew upwards quickly, but he was always tripping over himself as he waited for the rest of his body to play catch-up). Kenneth came prepared with Basil and Petter - who fairly resembled mountains to his winter sapling of a frame.
When they finally cornered him, Kenneth 'creatively' made his intention of seeing his big head made a bit smaller known. The three bullies decided to tape his mouth shut – and everything else on him, too.
Thankfully, Mycroft wasn't yet above helping his brother out of a bind – and he had an army knife on hand from the number of times he found himself playing savior before.
While Sherlock was forcibly restrained, and dependent on the help given him, Mycroft had a rare opportunity to speak calmly about the Holmes family name while he patiently helped free the younger boy out of the duck tape. Somehow, the tape seemed to get stickier every time . . .
If he didn't insist on not letting mum cut his hair, it wouldn't hurt so much getting the tape out, Mycroft insisted, already sounding incredibly pompous and overbearing.
Someday, Sherlock would learn to keep his mouth shut to the people who were actually trying to help him. But his thoughts were racing a hundred different ways at speeds that made his temples ache in their wake. The ups and the downs and the ins and the outs . . . (He would whisper in a quick and garbled tongue about the pressure in his head, too many thoughts and not enough room – and his brother would recommend simply erasing what was unnecessary to make room for what was truly important. Sherlock may not have bowed down at his brother's feet – but sometimes, when it came to this, Mycroft was the only other on who understood. He saw the exact shade of people's shoes, and noticed that his teacher removed her wedding ring on every Wednesday and didn't put it back on until Friday, and that the janitor had yellowed eyes and glass cuts on his hands . . . When his brother recommended a hobby to keep his thoughts straight, his mind vengefully leapt to the violin he had been squeaking away on – six different tutors having came and gone already – that drove his brother mad. The piano, Mycroft had tried to convince their mother, didn't sound nearly as grating when one was learning to refine ones skill.)
Of course, he wasn't going to tell his brother everything he was thinking. And he was left alone with those thoughts when his prickly tongue barbed at his brother until Mycroft left him to finish getting himself free of the tape, alone.
At least Mycroft had left him the knife, however annoyed he was.
"I have a mind for simple things,
but things are not of mind to simplify."
- "Passion Colors Everything", by Poets of the Fall
After only a week of sharing a flat with Sherlock Holmes, he had helped to solve two murder mysteries, one assisted suicide plot, and one spectacular case of serial homicide (with a shady puppet master lurking somewhere in the background to further apprehend).
By Monday of the second week, John Watson came to the conclusion that his deduction skills needed a serious brush up. And to do so he slipped into the bookstore and came out with half a dozen books ranging from 'Forensic Science' and 'Private Detective Work for Idiots', to a thick volume of last years most shocking murder cases, and an embarrassing amount of murder mystery novels.
When his 'guide for idiots' made him feel more like the aforementioned title would suggest, he spent more time than he knew was healthy on the murder mystery novels. While James Patterson's books were farfetched and Dean Koontz would probably never prove useful to him, Mr. Monk's adventures were just plain fun to read, and he further debased himself by reading the actual, honest to goodness Richard Castle novel that was just recently published. An American run of televised crime drama was also perused, but at audible volumes that couldn't alert Sherlock to his viewings – the last thing he wanted was his flatmate with him and spoiling the ending to every episode.
At one point he thought of putting pen to paper himself. Already the cases Sherlock embarked on were enough to boggle the mind in any form – especially on the pages of a novel. He stared blankly at the empty comment box for his blog as he thought so, an idea tickling at the back of his mind.
He buys a magnifying glass out of some misplaced sense of humor.
He supposes that this lieu of self teaching was fairly ridiculous – but he didn't feel as much so when Sherlock found his magnifying glass, and took to closely inspecting Yorick with it. John was sure that he saw the skull grimace in distaste.
And yet, when Sherlock found a copy of James Patterson's latest novel out on the coffee table – between the platter of fingers (which he couldn't think about too closely without blanching) and the bubbling chemistry set, there was a long glance and a raised eyebrow.
John had come to respect that raised eyebrow – it often lead to all sorts of dialogue that made his head spin and his blood pressure raise. Often, not always in that order.
Sherlock was not one to disappoint. He thumbed through the book, his face scrunched up in distaste as he muttered "dull, dull, and even more so" under his breath in a mortified whisper. Finally, after a disappointed snort, he threw the book.
Of course, it landed in such a way that the pages were bent.
"Abstract thrillers with absurd plots, facile trickery, little to no actual science, and simply dreadful prose," Sherlock gave his rather frank opinion.
"Well, I never said I was reading Shakespeare, now did I?" John said crossly, picking up the book, and smoothing the wrinkled corners with a vexed look at his flatmate.
"The obvious has never been less required to say than that," Sherlock snorted.
John made a face at his friend. Conveniently, Sherlock was not looking up to see it.
Stubbornly, John sat back in his chair, and pointedly opened the novel to the page he had bookmarked – noticing with dismay that Sherlock had used the book as a coaster. There was a faded brown ring on it that spoke to a sloppy hand on the tea cup. Of course, his roommate would never admit to that – he would simply say that he had more important things to worry about than his hand eye coordination.
John stayed in the room, and made quote the show of reading his novel - loudly 'hmm-ing' and 'ah-ing' and flipping the pages with an exaggerated snap of the paper, until Sherlock got up and pointedly said that he had a body to examine at St. Barts. His steps on the stairs were a quick rap-tap-tap that spoke of his petulant annoyance; his coat billowing behind him impressively.
Triumphant, John put the novel down, and got up to get to work himself.
That evening, he returned home late. When he finally sat down to relax, and he picked up the book again, the whole of the novel was littered with a tight and spidery script in the margins of the book. The obnoxious red ink of the 'corrections' and 'edits' was almost as bad as the whole pages that were torn out (needless for the plot, was Sherlock's explanation on a sticky note) and other pages had 'boring' scribbled across the whole of them in thick red marker. Apparently, Sherlock had taken offense to the author's perceiving of the deductive arts, and did not wish John to mar his thinking with such a pattern.
The fictional killer's name was written obnoxiously across the page he had bookmarked, and at that John finally rolled his eyes in annoyance and flung the book down.
"Her blood's on my hands,
It's kind of a shame,
'Cause I did like that dress."
- "Yes, Anastasia", by Tori Amos
Someday, he hoped that he would get used to coming home, and seeing Sherlock neck deep in something . . . odd. All for the sake of science, of course. Or boredom. Or both, if the conditions were ideal.
And while he could get used to the heads in the fridge and the pickle jars filled with eyes, and even the various chemistry sets and vials of things he didn't know the names to, this was . . . This was . . .
"Sherlock, might I ask what you are doing?" John asked cautiously. "Or is this something you'd rather not talk about?"
It took a few moments for the detective to actually acknowledge his presence, and when he did it was a cursory glance over Watson, and then over the woman behind him. "Evening, John, Sarah," he said distractedly.
John glanced behind him, to see the same curious frown on Sarah's face. Shrugging at her, he hesitantly moved into the kitchen. As he went he saw a large plastic evidence bag – and a torn and stained yellow dress that was within it. Alongside the telltale shades of rust and dirty brown on the fabric, there was a more curious shade of pink and red . . .
John rolled his eyes at his friend. "Does Lestrade know you have this?" he asked, somewhat exasperated.
Sherlock didn't bother deigning him with a reply. "Leona Willis – age twenty-three, stab victim."
Which explained the tears and stains. Most of them . . .
"And this is helping you solve the case, how . . .?"
"Oh, yes," Sherlock said, "these." And he gestured to the swatches of yellow fabric blotching the table; stacked on his medical journals and straying as coasters under his chemistry vials. Each scrap of cloth had a perfect kiss like stain on them. All in varying shades . . .
Which apparently came from the small tubes of lipstick that sat in two straight lines on the table, arranged completely in order of shade from the pinks to the plums. Sherlock wiped his mouth off with a rag that had clearly seen the same treatment for quite a few tries before.
"The killer made the mistake of using a shade of lipstick with a very high content of lead in it – you see the smears on the dress? No doubt they were unintentionally left from the ensuing scuffle with the victim. I merely need to know how long the lipstick has been there, and to test that I am seeing how various amounts of traces of lead in different lipsticks would hold out. So far, I have my closest match in 'pomegranate-stain-red', and 'in-too-pink'."
Even with his explanation made, John was still trying to tell himself that it was perfectly logical for Sherlock to be putting on lipstick. But to see the other man actually pick up a tube that held an alarming shade of scarlet, and carefully apply it with aide of a small hand held mirror was really testing his fortitude to just not laugh.
Oblivious to John choking back his giggles, Sherlock carefully pressed his lips against a blank square of cloth. When done, he wiped his lips and picked up the next tube.
"Well, that was wise," John couldn't help himself. "That shade didn't match your complexion at all."
At his side, Sarah's giggles were lost when Sherlock raised the next tube to his lips with a Look at his flatmate. She stepped up to the table to peer more intently at the lippy in his hands. "Bloody hell, Holmes – is that my lipstick?" she asked irately.
"You shouldn't leave your things strewn across the sink," Sherlock countered as his answer.
Watson raised a brow that said clearly said 'hypocrite', while Sarah sputtered. "So that is mine?"
Sherlock didn't even blink. "As are those two samples," he pointed at two other scraps of yellow cloth, one a 'kiss-me-kate' shade and another a shade of 'ruby-slippers-red'. "Although I find that the 'ruby-slippers' shade was a poor choice for your facial structure," he said absently, "it draws attention to your nose."
Sarah glared at the offhand comment. "Thanks," she scathed.
"Anything to assist," Sherlock muttered, engrossed in his task. When he capped the tube of lipstick, he looked thoughtful for a moment before 'considerately' turning to return the cosmetic to Sarah.
"You can keep them now," she scrunched her nose in distaste.
Sherlock blinked up at her, a frown on his lips. "Whatever would I want to keep them for?"
She snorted, but when she shook her head, there was an amused tilt to the annoyed turn of her mouth. John could understand the conundrum of feeling – having experienced it many times himself.
He heard a familiar beeping, and patted his hands over his coat for his phone.
Sherlock took it from his own pocket, and handed it to John, who leveled an annoyed look at him. It was lost on Sherlock as he looked back down at his lipstick samples.
John flipped the phone open, and rolled his eyes. "Lestrade wants his evidence back," he told his friend.
The phone buzzed again.
"He wants his evidence back, now," John amended. "And there are exclamation points."
"How many?" Sherlock asked absently.
"Good – I have two more to go before I truly make him truly angry."
The phone buzzed once more, and John shook his head. "And there you have five exclamation points. Sherlock, what do you want me to tell him?"
Sherlock smirked triumphantly, and capped the lippy in his hand as he bounded to his feet. "Tell him that I found his color!"
"I get stronger in the splendor
of a lucid moon.
Only creatures of the night
can heal my aching wounds."
- "The Spell", by Kamelot
When John was asked to join his friend right outside of London, at Moore Manor, he admitted to be a bit surprised. The manor was a spacious place (later, he would find that out that Mycroft Holmes had it restored and furnished for a League of government agents who were quite . . . extraordinary) with rolling green acres and rich pastures. Past the orchards and riding lanes, the rich mansion house was intimidating with gargoyles leering from the top of the masonry, and marble halls and gilded portraits to grant an eerily opulant feeling within. John awkwardly greeted the butler before snapping automatically into a military pose – his back straight and his head tilted up proudly in reflex as he walked.
When he was shown into an ornate dining hall, the tall and dark form of his friend was hard to miss. Across the table from Sherlock, daintily drinking her tea was a particularly lovely woman who warranted his attention longer than he would have admitted to.
She was small – if she stood, the crown of her dark curls would come to his brow. Even so she was slender and curved, an easy sort of catlike grace clinging to her even in her small movements of her hands on her tea cup. She was dressed in black – black breeches and polished leather boots. A black vest was clenched tight over a loose white shirt, whose sleeves billowed around her arms with an old-world style. Her riding gloves and crop were underneath her hat, sitting within easy reach.
She was almost shockingly pale – a porcelain shade of white with hair such a dark shade of brown that it seemed black, even in the high morning light. In contrast, her lips were a scarlet slash against her face, the same shade as the crimson scarf that she had neatly tucked around her neck. The ends trailed down her back, almost to the floor.
Sherlock looked up at him as he approached, pleased. "Ah, you're here. John Watson, may I present to you the truly immortal Wilhelmina Murray," he gestured to the woman.
"Madame Mina," he inclined his head, "my colleague, Doctor John Watson."
The woman tilted warm eyes to look at him. "Doctor," she greeted.
"Madame," he nodded his head, taking her proffered hand to kiss in remembrance of childhood etiquette. He sat down next to Sherlock, and was grateful for the tea to give his hands something to do.
"I have used your friend's services before," Mina revealed once they were settled, "and I am quite anxious to have his assistance again."
John looked at Sherlock, who elaborated for him. "I helped her retain custody of her son during her divorce ten years ago, by proving that she was not the culprit of a rather ghastly string of serial killings that stretched from here to Whitby to Budapest." He taped the side of his neck. "Leechings, very nasty business."
Mina shifted the fabric of her scarf, and narrowed her eyes. "Well then, Detective. Now that your colleague is here, I would like to overview my proposition for you."
Sherlock looked at her with a carefully blank face. Under the table, his feet were tapping an anxious cadence against the ground.
"You see, a member of my League has gone missing -"
"- and my brother couldn't keep tabs on him this time?"
"Your brother's manners of taming this one man in particular I do not feel the need to completely rely on," there was a distaste in her voice that matched Sherlock's. "Now, Allan and Griffin have tracked this man from a rather . . . low part of Montmarte in Paris, but lost track of him when he crossed the Channel. I expect poor Henry to be in London as we speak, but unfortunately . . . he is not quite himself."
"Too many fumes from his chemistry sets again?" Sherlock asked.
"You may put it that way," she answered.
"So, am I to be looking for an Edward, rather than a Henry?"
Mina didn't answer, but she did pass a manila folder across the table to Sherlock. Sherlock opened it, and inside John glimpsed photos from murdered victims – all strangulation and brute force, it looked like.
"Ah," Sherlock said. "We are most definitely looking for an Edward."
"Unfortunately," she said, flicking an imaginary piece of lint off of her shoulder. "I need you to help me find him, Detective. Mycroft's ways of handling Edward only result in more bloodshed, and more pain for Henry when he comes to his senses once more. I can . . . influence his transformations, if we keep this discreet."
John blinked, and looked at the rather petite woman again . . . she was going to influence that man (who was clearly of impressive stature to carry out the killings he had seen in the file) how?
"Not all fights are with firsts," Mina said to the look in his eyes. "Or words, even."
Sherlock clapped a hand on John's shoulder. "And trust me, she can take you." He turned to Mina. "I will find you your missing madman, Miss Murray."
She smiled. "I had suspected that you would." She turned, and her dark eyes spied out two men at the entryway. One was clearly a foreign man, complete with turban and rich sapphire colored robes. The other was an older man who looked dressed for a Sahara expedition. The older man tipped his hat at Mina, and she nodded discreetly back at him.
"Griffin is still tracking him as we speak," she revealed, "And Allan and I have further contacts to meet with. We shall keep you abreast of any developments. Thank-you for your time, Detective," she said. "I shall see you at the end of this, if the fates move kindly."
"You have always skipped through them so well before," Sherlock replied.
Her eyes twinkled. "Perhaps."
She rose, and moved to leave. Sherlock watched her for a moment before jumping to his feet. "Come now, John, we have not a moment to loose!"
John raised a brow, still sitting. Sherlock rarely took on cases involving missing persons – too simple, he had always said when faced with such cases before. Boring, even.
"Yes, but we are dealing with a brilliant madman with one of the clearest cut cases of bipolar disorder that I could dream of meeting." Sherlock answered the thoughts that he had apparently voice aloud.
"Oh, is that all?" John asked sarcastically.
"That, and I'll be damned if I let Quatermain and that blasted Wells fellow find Mr. Hyde before I do!"
"Every second, dripping off my fingertips
(wage your war)
A clock is ticking, but it's hidden far away.
(safe and sound)"
- "Somewhere a Clock is ticking", by Snow Patrol
He is issued a challenge by a man with a taste for gunpowder and details. The time stamps on the victims are unexpected, but welcome, the pressure of his deductions is like a fine wine through his veins, heady and intoxicating, and he finds that he moves with a fluidity under the pressure that he yields to unthinkingly.
The challenges are delightful as well – inviting his mind to truly stretch and flex rather than stir sluggishly to deduce the inane creativity of the world at large.
First there is Carl Powers – drown in a swimming pool by an angry young man who didn't take too kindly to being laughed at. That murder had been a genesis for their mysterious killer; the same as it had been for Sherlock – who had tried to draw attention to the oddity of the death, and failed.
Then there is Ian Monkford – deep in debt with a way out, with telling tans and frozen blood . . . After solving, he whispers his assailant's name on his lips, and feels a thrill slip through him, dark and deviant, even as is almost sure that he is working his mind over in a semblance of justice.
Connie Prince follows – a delicious case where the time is slashed on him. He can feel the seconds as prickles up and down his spine, and doesn't need to glance at the countdown once. When he looses this round he feels something like a pang, but it is hidden under the eyes that are glancing to the next challenge – for surely there would be one. He can feel the weight of John's disapproval over how engrossed he is with the madman who is proving to be like a coin, flipped to him, but that too is lost over the next . . .
Alex Woodbridge – a tricky fellow, with brutish assassins and manipulated masterpieces (Vermeer was a veneer, it would seem) and proof that, yes, basic knowledge of the solar system does in fact come in handy. Every once in a while.
. . . perhaps, anyway.
Andrew West is a poor soul who trusted too much and had too much to loose. When Sherlock took the memory drive he died for, and told Watson that he'd return it, his friend, already frustrated and disappointed (which he tells himself he is not bothered by), believed him before leaving for the evening.
Sherlock did not expect to see him again so soon, with explosives strapped to his chest, and red dots tracing over the fuse points like a caress.
Burn the heart from him, Moriarty had said, blue depths reflected for the nothingness in his eyes – and he snorted at the line (shouldn't only villains in spandex and capes say those sorts of things?) even as he felt adrenaline flood his veins in preparation for an end he genuinely couldn't foresee.
The only thing he knew for sure was that if he were to go up in flames, then he certainly could take the man holding the match down with him.
He levels his aim; and pulls the trigger.