WARNING: violence, multiple character deaths, brief language.
This is the product of a week that started out well and ended very, very poorly. My newfound cold is only part of it.
This is just about the darkest, saddest thing I have EVER written. I've written character deaths before, but… never like this. More to come after the story. Have those tissues handy, please.
© 2011 by Aleine Skyfire.
All rights reserved.
==Those Dark Hours==
when the powers of evil are exalted…
"Watson, come out of there!"
Loud shouts and knocks outside.
"Mrs. Watson, what's happening?"
"The Doctor ain't home."
"Shh, I know. Stay with here with Arthur."
"Where are you going?"
A noise like a whirr and click. "Just stay here, Lucy, and guard my son with your life."
"Yes'm. Be careful!"
A tremendous crash.
"Take another step, and I'll shoot!"
"Drop that gun, yer ladyship, before you get hurt."
A decisive click. "I shan't be the one hurt, gentlemen."
"Now jes ye beha—"
A small explosion, followed by a dull crash.
Multiple minor explosions.
"Lucy, stay where you are!"
Three more small explosions in rapid succession. And an almost noiseless thud.
Twin screams, one older, and one very young.
Two more explosions, followed by two more thuds.
Crashing and tearing, and then…
A dozen thoughts were whirling through Lestrade's head as the cab barreled down the streets for Kensington, but one thought overrode them all, numb and incredulous.
Mary and Arthur Watson are dead. This isn't possible.
Hazarding a glance at the pale, stone-faced man beside him, he added, Dear God, it can't be possible.
As they turned down Kensington Lane, he saw Watson move to bolt out of the cab, and bellowed, "Stop here!" He was hurriedly giving the cabbie the fare as Watson, having indeed bolted out, was running as if Stapleton's cursed hound was on his trail. Crushing his bowler against his head, Lestrade broke into a dead sprint after him.
Watson hesitated at his smashed-in front door only momentarily, bursting inside among the milling constables. Lestrade arrived a few seconds after, and froze in the hall, completely forgetting to breathe.
Mary was draped over her husband's right arm, her face white and her large blue eyes unseeing. There was one hole in her torso, and two more in her chest—and her right hand was clenched around a revolver. Twenty-three-month-old Arthur Sherlock was cradled in his father's left arm, his eyes closed, his eyebrows knitted in sudden but brief pain, his small chest marred by a single hole.
Watson's head rose slowly to glance up at Lestrade, then bowed again. But what Lestrade saw there shook him to his core, and he never forgot it.
There was enough grief—and guilt—in those dark hazel eyes to devour a man from the inside out.
He'd seen that look before—thirty years in his line of work rather necessitated that—but never, never had he seen it in John Hamish Watson. This was the man who survived Maiwand with no more than a bullet to the shoulder, when the rest of his regiment was decimated; who survived enteric fever in India; who endured and even enjoyed nearly eight years living and working with the world's most insufferable amateur detective; who moved on from the separate deaths of his mother, father, and estranged brother; who survived another bullet and infection; who managed to stay alive in an ongoing conflict that had killed his closest friend.
John H. Watson, M.D., was strong.
But this is his wife and only child.
Lestrade started, almost violently, at a light touch on his arm. "Lestrade?" murmured Stanley Hopkins.
The older man nodded slowly, then snapped back into a more professional manner. "Show me quickly, and then I want this place cleared out, understand?"
Hopkins stepped a few feet away and pointed to the bloodstains on the walls and carpet. "There were five, judging by the tracks," he reported quietly. "She killed four of them before… the bodies are being taken away right now."
Well done, Mrs. Watson. "Anyone we recognize?"
"You said there were five?"
"Appears that way, sir. There must have been one more, surely, to have… done the shooting… and turned this place upside-down."
"Damn," Lestrade swore feelingly. He tried to take a deep breath and found he couldn't. If John catches up with that man, Heaven have mercy on his soul. The Doctor will be worse than the Devil's own hellhound.
"We contacted the maid's family," Hopkins finished, sotto voce. "They'll be 'round soon."
Lestrade nodded numbly. "All right." He discovered his voice was little more than a croak and didn't really care. Where was the justice in this? "Get them out of here."
Hopkins nodded wordlessly and moved forward, speaking to a couple of his constables and motioning everyone out the door. Lestrade was the last one out, and his last vision of the inside was of John's face buried in his wife's unmoving chest, his son's limp body clasped tightly to him.
He was barely outside before the storm began, and he hoped to God that he would never hear that kind of brokenhearted sorrow again. He couldn't even look at the other Yarders—just stood there against the house, hands jammed into his pockets and head bowed. His heart twisted with every fresh spasm of grief, heard clearly through the broken front door.
They had come for Watson, of course, and Mary had gotten in the way. Damn Moriarty's bloody empire to all eternity! This was a mother and child—this was Watson's wife and child.
The Yard is all he has left now.
Everything else had been taken away from Watson: his mother, his father, his friends in the army, his brother, his dearest friend, and now his wife and son.
Watson was certainly one of them now, a trusted member of their medical staff. The Yard would rally behind him—Lestrade knew it. They had to.
Lestrade knew well what this kind of loss could do to a man, even to a strong man. He prayed that Watson would find the strength to keep on living. He was sorely needed.
The clouds that had been threatening to open up all day did so at last, and the Yarders stood huddled in the cold November rain. Lestrade thought it only fitting that the skies themselves mourned with John Watson.
…See? You can't say I didn't warn you.
In my original personal canon, Mary died in childbirth. Later on, wanting the Watsons to have a child for just a little while, I tried coming up with something else, and I ended up with a train-wreck. However, train-wrecks tend to be rather historical things… I was discussing it with another Holmesian dot Net member the other day, and he was brainstorming different ideas, and one of them was an omnibus wreck. That held better possibilities, though another idea he mentioned was one I'd thought of before.
And one that I was very reluctant to do: criminals.
I didn't want to inflict that kind of death upon Mary, and especially not upon a baby boy. But the idea would not let me be. Especially because the way it ended up in this fic is inspired by a character death in a 2-season apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic TV series called Jericho—said character death was truly heartbreaking, but the girl (this was an 18-year-old deaf girl) did take down several of her attackers before she was shot down. (For my younger-than-18 readers, I do NOT recommend this show for you—it is adult, adult, adult in every possible way. For my older-than-18 readers who would be bothered by pervasive language, premarital intimacy, and female semi-nudity, I recommend proceeding with extreme caution. There were parts that I did not watch. It's actually a good show, but it has its less desirable qualities.)
Anyway… so I exorcised this from myself. Now you know how dark I can really get. I didn't want to do this—I actually kind of hate myself for doing it—but it just… came. This will probably end up as a real part of my personal canon, and you'll probably see it in my future project, the Deliver Us From Evil series. You check out the post of that name on my blog, www dot studysherlockiana dot blogspot dot com.
For the record, yes, I did cry over this. Partly. Not so much as I normally would have because crying when you have a cold is like the height of misery. I'm actually kind of distancing myself from it, and right now, all I feel towards it is numb. Mary and baby Arthur have been murdered, and… it's like I don't know them. Because if I do, I know I'll break down just thinking about it. That might be why the beginning's in the format that it is.
Please review, and don't kill me!