Note: Deepest apologies for the fact it's taken so long to get this update up. I actually wrote this chapter a while ago, but I figured I'd wait to post it until I finished the following chapter where we meet Mycroft (half-done). Then I got so involved with "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" that I never got it the next chapter finished and so I didn't post this one either. But time has marched on.

Lord knows how long it's going to take for me to get to the end of "Archenemies", but I do intend to finish it. In addition to this story, I'm working on three other fics. One of the three is too graphic to be posted here on Fanfiction dot Net. It's currently being posted through the Sherlockbbc-kink meme . Once it is beta'd, I'll have it up on my AO3 account. I've made that the homepage link on my profile.

As an aside, for all who are following "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," after I ran it by my beta, I decided to rewrite from scratch the current chapter, which is why the update is also taking so long. (The first version dead wrong and made the fic jump the shark; this was my opinion, not hers, so don't blame her). The current chapter is much better and I hope to have it up shortly. Hope this tides you over until then :) This is not betad or Brit-picked. If anyone has any suggestions on where outside of London Sherlock might be living, please let me know.

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Archenemies

Chapter 3

Thorpe's train set was truly brilliant, three levels with small scale models of the London suburb where Sherlock and Thorpe lived. The model trains were fiendishly accurate as well, coming from a smattering of countries, mostly the U.S.. Sherlock had some fun playing with the track. Thorpe lorded over his train set, allowing the others to touch the controls or push the switch only after they had proven to him a humble enough countenance to be allowed a concession.

Not that he was obvious about it. Under Mary's watchful eye, Thorpe, if anything, was excessively nice to Sherlock. It was a barbed niceness. Thorpe put his hand over Sherlock's shoulder (Sherlock disliked that), the grip a shade too hard around his neck. His gaze flitted to David as he said, " Flip the switch, Sherlock! Wow!"

David glared, "No."

"Do it," Thorpe said.

David turned the train set on with a grimace. When Thorpe leaned over the table to point at the track changing mechanism, David kicked Sherlock's thigh under the table. (David needed a stool to see over the table, which gave him the necessary height to accomplish the kick. Sherlock was not one of those boys who spurted into his height at thirteen or fourteen. He was a long baby, a tall, skinny child and would become a taller, skinnier adult.)

After a minute, David yelled. "When can I play?"

Mary said to Thorpe, "Give David a chance. I know you want to be friends with Sherlock, but you have to be fair to everyone."

"It is fair," Thorpe said, with a honey smile that had a rancid undertone like meat left too long in the refrigerator. "David and I played a lot before Sherlock came. Now it's Sherlock's turn." Thorpe smiled, squeezing Sherlock tighter.

"Thorpe." Mary stood up. Her eyes narrowed.

"Let me just finish showing Sherlock how it works."

"One minute, and then everyone takes turns." Mary said, and sat back down.

Thorpe insisted Sherlock try out each of the controls for the train's remote, making exclamations of "cool!" and "whizzo-bam!" when the train zipped around the loops.

Controlling the train distracted Sherlock for almost two minutes, changing the direction of the track for another minute. Looking at the buildings was good for another three minutes. (though they were painted fairly accurately, the buildings themselves came in three sizes, none of which were to scale). Then he was bored. Bored. Bored.

"Does it do anything besides go in circles?" Sherlock asked.

Thorpe's brow furrowed. "I think it can go backwards."

"Really?" David exclaimed, leaning over the table on his tiptoes on the stool.

Sherlock stared at the train as it passed around the track again, then shook his head. "We'll have to take it apart first." Sherlock grabbed for the lead car and pulled it from the track. The other cars swung precariously for a moment and then crashed like beads off a string.

"Hey!" Thorpe yelled.

"It'll be an experiment." Sherlock peered at the train. "Do you have a screwdriver? Then we can get the cover off."

Thorpe grabbed the train from Sherlock's hand. "No!"

"Yeah!" David shouted.

Sherlock gave the blond boy a quick grin. "David agrees with me," Sherlock said, advancing on Thorpe. "Give it over."

"No, I don't!" David shouted for no good reason. Sherlock wondered if he'd been that stupid at four years old. Hopefully not.

Thorpe ducked behind the table. "It's mine!"

Sherlock looked at the table and the scattering of other trains. "But that's the only one with an engine."

"Mary!"

Mary stood up. "Sherlock, David, stop this at once!"

Feeling he had discharged his social obligations, Sherlock shoved his hands into his pockets. "Fine. I'm bored."

"Why don't we find something fun for all of us to do?" Mary suggested.

"The lake," Sherlock said, thinking of Mycroft. He had to be more interesting than this. Sherlock kicked himself for having wasted so much time with the train; the other boy was probably gone. Stupid.

"Stupid." Thorpe echoed Sherlock's thought with a stomp. His jaw was tight and he lifted his chin. "Lake's boring," he said with a glare.

Sherlock studied the other boy. Under his nails were clean, but the crease between the nail and his finger still had a brown ring of dirt. The edge of his sneaker also had a dark brown clump of half-dried mud. Sherlock dropped to his knees and stared at the shoe. Caught between the laces was a tiny shred of a dark green leaf. Sherlock grinned. "You're lying."

"No, I'm not!" Thorpe shouted, pushing his heel into Sherlock's shoulder. Sherlock scrambled backwards.

Miss Mary jumped up and pointed towards the left corner of the room. "Sherlock! Over there!"

"Yeah!" Thorpe shouted.

"And you too, Thorpe Boaz Rathcliff," Miss Mary pointed to Thorpe and then poked her finger in the direction of the opposite corner. "Both of you sit down, face the wall, now. Two minutes. And you'd best believe I'm going to tell your father about this."

Thorpe took a step back, his eyes shining.

"And your Mummy, Sherlock, she will be very disappointed."

His Mummy would be disappointed; she especially hated it when he became 'obstinate' in public, but Sherlock knew he was in the right and he wasn't backing down. "Thorpe is lying and I didn't kick him, he kicked me," Sherlock said, rubbing his shoulder. "I know you're lying because it hasn't rained in three days, but your shoes are muddy." He pointed. "And that leaf in your laces is one of the trees at the lake. I saw it." Sherlock stood, his hands on his hips. "You were at the lake this morning." He looked over at Miss Mary. "Wasn't he?"

Miss Mary raised both of her eyebrows. "That's hardly the point."

"I'm right! I am!" Sherlock laughed. Being right was better than Christmas. He added, "If the lake was boring, then Thorpe wouldn't have stomped around in the mud and stuck his fingers in."

"It's boring now." Thorpe said, but his gaze dropped to his feet.

"I don't care that you were lying. Let's just go." Sherlock walked to Thorpe and put an arm over his shoulder. The other boy elbowed him in the rib, but Sherlock held tight. "We can make mud-pies or castles! It will be..." Sherlock dredged his brain for the thing the other boy had said. "Whiz-bang! Cool!"

Sherlock did his best to match the earlier intonations of the other boy's voice, but Thorpe's expression only darkened further. Thorpe said, "You go to the stupid lake by yourself if you like it so much."

Sherlock removed his arm. "Can I?" he said, and then added for politeness as he started towards the door, "Thank you."

Under the train set, David wrapped his arms around his knees and started to cry.

Sherlock stopped. He looked down at David, genuinely confused. "Why are you crying?"

David sniffled and said, "I wanna play hide n' seek."