Ok, gang, I really need help with this one, because I don't know where it's meant to be going. I don't really want it to be AU or Moriarty but once you've used your Big Bad up, it's kind of hard to come up with another. Suggestions welcome. This grew out of the fact that when I first saw the PBS previews for Sherlock in the spring I thought, "Oh, great, a story about some idiot who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century-just what I need. Oh, how wrong I was on both counts.
(Bonus points if anyone can figure out where the FanFiction inspiration for this came from-I love meta)
Sherlock huddled in the corner on the cold concrete floor, head in his hands, elbows on his knees. He didn't know how long he'd been there. He'd lost track of time which somehow seemed worse than so many other things. He'd asked for Lestrade. The thought of the sturdy, if predictable, detective made him whimper, which he tried to swallow into his throat. He'd asked for Doctor Watson, saying that John was his personal physician. John—this time Sherlock couldn't stop himself. He moaned and felt tears seep out of the corners of his eyes. John, his friend, his dearest, only friend. What had they done with him? Because if there was one thing that Sherlock knew absolutely, it was that John would never stop looking for him. Others, like Lestrade, might assume that he had simply run after something or someone and simply disappeared or been finally out-thwarted by some criminal and been dumped in an unmarked grave, but John would never stop looking unless they brought him a body, and even then—people could be made to look like other people with plastic surgery and the people who had put him here were certainly thorough. But he believed that John would not be deceived.
He had to believe that.
He'd have welcomed the sight of almost anyone he knew at this point. Mrs. Hudson, Molly, Mike Stamford, Sarah even. Well, maybe not Donovan and Anderson because how they would laugh at the great Sherlock Holmes cowering in the corner of a mental institution. They thought he'd been crazy all along.
Mycroft. How could Mycroft leave him here? He'd resented Mycroft's intervention and spying but at this point he desperately wanted his brother's people to come sweeping in.
Except they'd told him that none of these people were real.
Dr. John Carlson looked through the case files of Sherlock Holmes. Oh, yes, that was funny. Everyone thought so. The female nurses who had been enthralled by the tall, thin, delicately featured young man when he'd been admitted. The male nurses who had to wrestle him down and had found out both how strong and how skilled at fighting he was.
He'd been difficult from the beginning. He'd been found roaming Kensington Park grabbing passersby and asking if they'd seen a shortish, ashy blonde man named John Watson. Asking if he could borrow phones to call DI Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Many people had assumed that he'd been acting—part of some fringe performance—but he hadn't been acting and the police had rounded him up and brought him in. And when he had told them his name and adamantly refused to back down or change his story they had brought him here.
Sherlock Holmes. The man thought he was Sherlock Holmes and that he solved crimes with Doctor John Watson at his side, and DI Lestrade following behind.
Except that Sherlock Holmes, Doctor John Watson and DI Lestrade were characters in a book by Arthur Conan Doyle. As were Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Moriarty—the man Holmes thought was behind all this, even Mike Stamford was on the first few pages of "A Study in Scarlet." Molly and Sarah confused him because they weren't in the book. Were they real people that this man knew?
He refused to answer to any other name than Sherlock Holmes, fighting ferociously when they had tried other names, although in his records he was listed as John Doe.
The man was brilliant. Not just brilliant in the sense that he'd memorized the works of Doyle and imagined himself in them, but actually brilliant. He used Holmes' methods and he used them well.
There was already one separation that would probably become a divorce, two resignations over improprieties, another who had denied it but been fired and five people who wanted away from the strange man before he told them something about themselves that they didn't want to hear.
But peculiarly he maintained that he was Sherlock Holmes and that he lived in the 21st Century. That he had a website, a laptop and a smart phone and that he demanded he be given access to them. He demanded nicotine patches instead of tobacco and was afraid of being injected, screaming that he was clean now. He did not expect the world of Victorian England outside the door and told them that was absurd—he wasn't some sort of time traveler.
So who was he?
No one had come forward although they had run it in the papers and made small announcements in the news—do you know this man. It seemed impossible that such a good looking and intelligent man should be completely unknown to anyone. That no one was looking for him. Although it was hard to imagine that he had friends. He clearly thought that everyone was beneath him intellectually, was generally demanding, imperious and cruel. But was that him or was that him being Holmes?
The man who thought he was Sherlock Holmes perched in the soft chair opposite him. They had made progress. When he'd been brought in he refused to talk to anyone until they let him talk to Watson or Lestrade. That had lasted almost four weeks. That was three and a half months ago.
They'd had to restrain him at first because he fought so well, slipping through multiple handlers to make a break. He still had no outside privileges because he'd escaped three times in the first month. He'd been on suicide watch when he expertly cheeked his sleeping pills, storing them up for a week and taking them all at once. After that he was injected. He refused to eat, saying at first that he didn't need it, and it was only when they threatened him with force feeding or an IV that he relented although he still mostly moved his food around his plate. Despite the medications, the night watch would often find him pacing his cell and they didn't dare up the medication.
"What did you think of the book?"
"I solved all the cases by the second page."
"You know that wasn't the point."
"Yes, they have my name and my methods and you want me to believe that I have made everything up from this book—Dr. Watson, DI Lestrade, my brother, even Mike."
"Perhaps made up is the wrong phrase. Perhaps you are using this identity as a refuge from something you don't want to face."
SH, he hated to think of him as Sherlock even in his mind because he wanted, needed to help this man find his true identity and the more that Dr. Carlson thought of him as Holmes, the harder it was to separate that identity from the man.
"Which is just a way for you to say that you think I'm delusional. I would rather that you thought I had made it up. My mind is too disciplined to believe something that isn't empirically true. I don't create illnesses to forget something. I'm not-"
He stopped sharply, a momentary break in the hard shell that happened whenever he thought of John Watson. At first he had thought that Carlson's name was a trick—a mistake on the part of whoever had concocted this trap. But Carlson had quickly assured him that he was not supposed to be Dr. John Watson. Whoever Watson represented, it was clear that it was the most important relationship in Sherlock's life.
"We showed you the films."
"Films can be faked. All of this can be faked," he waved at The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes on the desk between them.
"Some of those films dated from 1908!"
"So you say."
"But you recognized some of the actors playing Holmes. They exist and some of them are dead. How did we make films with dead actors?"
"Computer graphics are amazing these days if you have the time, the money and the inclination. I know that Moriarty has all three."
"Ah, yes, Moriarty. In the book he could not do everything you've described—pay an entire hospital of people, a police force AND the people you encountered in the park to say that they remember reading Doyle as a child, fake the films and the book."
"Don't be absurd. The characters in this book live in the 1880's and 90's. They couldn't possibly do what the real Moriarty can do."
"Well, let's look at that then. Why would we try to convince you that your life was based on a 19th century character?"
"Because you know that you can never get the details of my life right. That there will be some element that you'll slip up on and that I'll know. If you set it in the past, then you don't have to represent my life as it is, you just have to show that some elements are fiction and the whole thing will crumble. Or so you think."
"What about Mycroft?"
"What about him?"
"You say that your brother is a major power in the British Government. How is he letting this go on?"
A pause, always important from this continually thinking and talking machine, "I don't know," fast again, "perhaps he's in on it, to break me somehow."
"Why would he do that?"
"Because he's Mycroft. He's an ass and he can," Sherlock said sarcastically. There was no point going any further down this path today.
But suddenly Sherlock went on, "Have you seen this show that John likes called The Prisoner?"
"I have heard of it," replied Doctor Carlson cautiously, could they be getting somewhere?
"They try to break this man by trying to convince him that everything he has believed is a lie. I didn't like it. You knew where it was going at the beginning of every episode, and the last one—which John enjoyed—was part of that whole surreal thing where things stand for something else. But the point is that Mycroft has seen it. I think he bases himself on it or something or that other one, The Revenger…no, no, The Avengers. And the government does this thing to break this man and get his secrets. Mycroft wants me to join the government. He thinks if he breaks me he'll get me to join him!"
His strange, narrow, cat eyes seemed to gleam even more, if that was possible, as he warmed to his theme. "Oh, Sherlock! How could I have been so stupid? It must be those awful drugs you've been giving me to stop me from thinking. 'Mummy isn't going to like that, Mycroft, when I tell her you gave me drugs,'" he yelled to the ceiling.
He started pacing the room, "It isn't Moriarty at all! It's Mycroft. This is more his style. Moriarty couldn't have stood hiding in the shadows this long, but Mycroft gets off on it, manipulating behind the scenes, bribing, spying.
"All right, Big Brother, I win! I've seen through it. You can stop now."
He stopped, expectantly waiting for something to happen. The disappointment and grief on his face when he realized that nothing was going to happen was painful to see.
After that Sherlock didn't speak for three weeks.
He didn't fight. He accepted the medications, ate when told and smoked cigarettes under supervision with the others outside on breaks, docilely making no effort to escape, but he smoked frantically, going through three cigarettes in the time it took the others to smoke one.
But in their daily sessions he slouched sullenly in the chair, long legs splayed in front of him, resolutely not talking to the doctor or even looking at him.
But on the third Tuesday he suddenly said in a low, soft voice, "It can't be possible, no matter how improbable it seems."
Dr. Carlson leaned forward, eager to hear him speak once again, "What can't be possible."
"It's impossible that I should know my own mind so little. It cannot be possible."