"Why did you lie about your father to your mother, Sherlock?"

"I didn't."

"Didn't you think about how that would hurt your parents?"

"I didn't."

"You didn't think that saying something so hurtful would hurt their feelings and even their marriage?"

"I didn't lie."

Sherlock and Doctor Compton had some differences of opinion. In the guise of "bonding" with his son to repair whatever damage had "led Sherlock to go to such lengths for attention," Oliver took Sherlock to Dr. Compton's office every Tuesday.

Sherlock did not bother to point out that this, of course, was actually lying to his mother. He also did not bother to tell his mother, because the rage in his father's face and the sorrow in his mother's frightened him. He was afraid his father would kick him out and he would have to live on the streets. He wasn't quite sure what that would constitute, and he was pretty certain that it wouldn't actually happen, and that his mother would prevent it, but he was still possessed by the vague idea of living and surviving on his own, and the idea that it would be hard and terrifying.

Sometimes he yearned for that existence, completely earned, completely alone.

Mycroft had gone white at dinner when Sherlock spoke, and there had been no words exchanged between the two since. Sherlock knew his brother must have known on some level what their father was doing, and that Sherlock's words had shattered something, like a precious vase or one of his mother's skulls, something fragile and unique and utterly irreplaceable, something that would never be repaired (ever after, he was so, so careful with vases and teapots and skulls and other irreplaceable things).

Dr. Compton was a friend of his father, from when his father had worked at the hospital, doing surgeries. Dr. Compton, Sherlock knew, had himself had an affair, recently ended, and he was bitter. He was also bitter because in medical school, he had been quite enamored of Emily Marlow, his flatmate's girlfriend, and of course she had chosen Oliver over him, without a thought. She also thought that psychology, even psychiatry, lacked a significant basis in science. She had been, still was, beautiful and a genius and arrogant about it, and Dr. Compton had never forgiven her her arrogance. And now, every Tuesday, he saw it mirrored in the strange, exotic face of her son, so little trace of Oliver evident in the boy as to make him nearly a clone of Emily. A clone who was young and small and in his father's bad graces, a boy without a doctorate or anyone to back him up when his eyes said before his mouth that psychology was stupid.

As both a psychologist and a psychiatrist with the hospital, Dr. Compton had quite a lot of authority. As a close friend of Oliver Holmes, MD, MP, he had certain responsibilities—or, if not responsibilities, expectations, of discretion and of limitation in which disorders might be acceptable diagnoses for Sherlock.

Regrettably, children under eighteen couldn't be diagnosed as psychopaths or sociopaths, and Sherlock certainly didn't have conduct disorder. He'd been in only two fights, both of which had been clearly provoked by other children. He didn't steal, or he'd never been caught. He was rarely, if ever, impulsive, and if he was he was so good at thinking on his feet that it was impossible to tell. Besides which, conduct disorder was not something that was acceptable for the son of a rising MP to have. It wasn't sympathetic. It didn't play well.

On the table was the autism spectrum, attention deficit, and learning disabilities. There was no evidence for the last, and while Sherlock paid attention only to the things Sherlock decided were worthy of his attention, it was hardly that he was incapable of sustaining attention; he could stare at a bubbling beaker for hours, or focus for aeons on his violin scales. And it was 1992. The Autism Diagnostic Interview had been published the year before. Autism as a spectrum disorder had just been included in the DSM-IV. The next year, diagnoses of autism would begin to increase at an unimaginable rate.

Dr. Compton handed Oliver an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis for Sherlock, not otherwise specified. It was a sympathetic narrative, the MP with the difficult, disordered son, after his brilliant, poised brother. The family struggle.

In fact, Dr. Compton hinted, if Oliver ever felt the need to put Sherlock away—a wrenching decision, of course—a few interviews, with the family psychologist and friend included as witness to the severity of the disorder and the pain inherent in the family's difficult decision—it would not be detrimental to Oliver's political career.

Oliver replied, thoughtfully, that no, it wouldn't, but it would be detrimental to his marriage.

Emily was difficult, too.

Sherlock was sitting in the waiting room, listening to this exchange, trying to retain his belief in the world as a largely secure place, in his mother as a force and power for good in his life, in his father as not-evil.

It wasn't working. Sherlock Holmes was terrified out of his twelve-year-old mind. He didn't know, really, what it meant to be 'put away' other than to be out of use, shelved, out of mind, unimportant and utterly dismissed. It meant to be away from his mother and his books and his experiments. It meant, he was well aware, to be locked up and to be more controlled even than an ordinary child.

Sherlock thought, furiously, in terror and horror, of running away.

But he was home-schooled; his best friend was his mother, and his only other resource, his wise older brother, who knew what he truly was and until That Dinner had seemed to care anyway, wasn't speaking to him.

He really had nowhere to go.