A/N: Okay, listen up. This is an AU in which Sherlock is operating on the other side of the law, so it isn't part of my normal Sherlock-universe although has some connections (in the form of OC's, because I like my OC's). I've been encouraged to publish this by a couple of readers (mustangwoman and silverwolf04) who did me the wonderful service of beta reading it, for which I thank them! You are both lovely! If you don't want to read an AU, you don't have to. If you don't like it, that is totally fine with me, but I don't want to know about it. If you do like it, feel free to review it, I promise I won't mind ;)
A few things: 1) Don't tell me Sherlock is OOC; it's an AU, so this is actually deliberate on my part. 2) Gabriel = Sam (it's Sam's real name). You can safely assume everything that happens up to the point where he meets Sherlock happened in regular-universe Sam's life, too. 3) There will be John! Eventually! You just have to wait for it, a bit. 4) Please enjoy!
I do not own, nor do I profit from. And now I'm going to stick my head in the sand and pretend this isn't happening because I'm nervous as hell.
Sherlock had first met Gabriel Mitchell when the younger man had been all of seventeen.
It was the eyes, he considered, that first caught his wandering attention. The eyes, because they were so green, so strikingly green, the kind of shade that defied reality, was only seen in those blasted and tedious magazines where everything was edited, or in films, or described in books. The colour of grass, really. He'd never seen anything like it, nor ever would again, because even Gabriel's siblings and parents did not have that elusive shade of green in their eyes.
But it was not that which kept his attention focused.
There was someone else watching him, a dark-haired Frenchwoman, all sleek curves and supple muscle and elegance and detachment, smoking a cigarette in deliberate defiance of all of the signs around her – standing under a sign banning smoking, actually – that made him pay attention. She was stunning, so that even Sherlock had to stop and admire the view, which he had never done before with a woman. They were so utterly foreign and made no sense, but were also so easily played, so open to being read, approached, flattered, sought after.
Not this one, though, he thought. She was after something else. Something about the boy. Young man. Because despite his obvious young age, he was not a boy.
He was not paying attention to either of them.
He was watching everyone else, eyes – those green eyes – flitting over everyone, bored, bored, bored.
What seventeen-year-old takes himself to the symphony for his birthday?
Sherlock had no doubts that the young man was seventeen, precisely, this day. Even though there was nothing, nothing whatsoever, he could use to peg that deduction. This bothered him, because deduction was what he did, it was his life's blood, his livelihood, his passion, the ultimate combination of all of his skills.
Still, it would please him to find out he was right.
He despised intermission.
Because it was filled with the press of bodies, of women trying to outdo one another with their tedious or garish dresses, of men trying to outdo one another with their posturing, their braying, with new money – such pedants – trying to mingle properly with old money. And the Bohemian university students who thought it was brilliant and daring and risqué to come to a symphony, and pretended to understand the music and care, while all the while trying to defy what they described as stuffy British stereotypes.
And this seventeen-year-old young man and the mysterious Frenchwoman.
Were they sleeping together?
But surely not, because why not flaunt it? He was old enough that the obviously older Frenchwoman would find no trouble from the law if this were the case. Besides, she was French.
Ah, Sherlock thought. She is the law.
And this made him weave through the crowd because if the law was after the younger man, for whatever reason, it made things so much more interesting. Seventeen was not entirely too young to be on the wrong side of the law, but even Sherlock baulked at recruiting so young, if he could avoid it, which was not always possible.
Not children, though, no. Never children.
Education was too important.
Besides, getting caught under child labour laws carried far too many penalties and it was too easy to be pegged with abuse, which could result in a messy and painfully slow death.
But young men and women on the cusp of adulthood? When necessary.
"Do you have the time?" he asked, oh-so-coincidentally stopping near the young man, whose green eyes had tracked his movement across the room, much to Sherlock's approval. And the Frenchwoman had noted it as well. Good thing he never wore a watch, which would show if he moved the wrong way, despite the tailcoat and the long-sleeved tuxedo shirt.
"Ten past eight," the young man replied with a quick glance at the cheap watch on his left wrist.
He'd have to take care of that, Sherlock considered. Something good, silver to go with his complexion, which was darker than Sherlock's own, although this wasn't difficult.
"Thank you," he said, sipping his champagne. "Parlez-vous français?" (Do you speak French?)
The young man looked startled for a moment, but, to his credit, didn't nod instinctively in response.
"Oui. Pourquoi?" (Yes. Why?)
"Did you know there's a Frenchwoman following you?"
"Her? She's French?"
Sherlock almost grinned. So he'd spotted his tail but not worked out where she was from. Well, he was young. It was not surprising. Perhaps at that age, Sherlock might have missed the fact that she was French. Even if she was smoking like a chimney. Even if she was glaring at everyone around her with cool disdain – that could be mistaken for the British upper class, as well, of course.
"Yes, she's French."
"Hmm," the young man commented. "She's been following me for three weeks."
"And why would she do this?"
"No idea," the young man admitted. He paused, considering Sherlock. "You need to buy me a champagne, so she thinks you want to shag me and it gives us a reason to talk."
"Are we going to talk?" Sherlock asked, raising his eyebrows, making sure to put a somewhat suggestive look in his features, for the benefit of their French voyeur.
"You're the one who approached me," the young man pointed out.
"Only asking about the time."
"And pointing out that there's a Frenchwoman following me."
"Very true. Come with me."
He stepped away, confident of being followed, and was not at all disappointed when they reached the bar. The young man hung back far enough it looked as though they were not really together, but only moving in the crowd in the same direction. Sherlock paid for two more champagnes and drifted back toward the young man, passing the glass off when they were close enough that it would not seem untoward or strange.
"Do you have a name?" the young man asked.
"Of course," Sherlock replied.
"Ha. Going to share it, Mister Mysterious?"
"Not yet. You first."
"Gabriel Mitchell," the young man replied and it wasn't a lie, because he wanted to know who Sherlock was.
"Gabriel," Sherlock said, pronouncing it in French.
The young man scowled.
"I'm not a bloody Frenchman," he snapped. "It's Gabriel."
"Mitch to your friends?"
"No. Gabe. Mitch is my older brother's nickname."
"Ah," Sherlock agreed. Some of the boredom and irritation he'd noted made sense now. The youngest child, with at least the older brother, possibly an older sister. But much more intelligent than either of these, chaffing under lack of acknowledgement, the sibling rivalry, the constant competition.
He understood that, didn't he?
"Sherlock Holmes," he said, nodding over a sip of champagne.
To his surprise, Gabriel laughed.
"Oh yes, bloody right," he said. "Nice try. You'll need to do better than that. What's next, John Doe?"
Sherlock stared at him, because in all the years he'd been working, dealing with people, moving between worlds, facilitating transactions, he'd never once had anyone tell him he was lying about his name. Oh yes, they'd think so, and it would show on their faces, but no one, no one, had ever had the courage to outright say it, and take it for a joke.
"Entirely serious," he replied. "Mother named Sibyl, brother named Mycroft. The old Victorian names hold an appeal in my family."
Gabriel stared at him, green eyes dark with suspicion. Sherlock let his features be open and honest, because he was actually being open and honest, for once, and the younger man's disbelief cleared slowly.
"That's the weirdest bloody name ever, mate."
"No, Mycroft is infinitely worse," Sherlock assured him.
Gabriel laughed, grinning a bright and sudden grin and Sherlock reminded himself that he was a good seven years older than the younger man, which was not entirely relevant, and he was fairly certain Gabriel had more than a passing interest in men, although equally certain the young man could find himself on either side of the proverbial fence.
But it wasn't why he was there. Casual encounters could be arranged whenever he wanted, but this was real talent. He could see the spark of it in the green eyes. Gabriel had taken himself, on his birthday, to the symphony, and had noted the Frenchwoman following him.
He spoke French, too.
And he'd told Sherlock straight out that he was lying. Even though this was wrong, it was impressive.
There would be more, he was certain.
"How would you like to make some money?" he enquired.
Gabriel gave him an evaluating look.
"Is that some sort of trick question?" he enquired.
"Not a trick," Sherlock assured him.
"Then what? I'm not sleeping with you for money."
This intrigued Sherlock and he pursued it, even though he meant not to.
"Would you do so for free?"
Gabriel gave him a startled look and Sherlock laughed – it was entertaining to see those green eyes flare, and quite nice to turn the tables on an adolescent who had, moments ago, managed to shock him. It was also, he noted, distracting the Frenchwoman from thinking they were discussing anything other than sex.
Which, point of fact, they were. Just not entirely in the way she was thinking, and not for long.
"You're a bit old for me," Gabriel managed to retort.
"For the time being," Sherlock agreed, lifting his champagne flute in a mock toast. "However, I was entirely serious in my offer regarding the possibility of you making money."
"Oh yes?" Gabriel replied, raising his eyebrows. "And what do you want me to do for this money, Mister Sherlock Holmes?"
"Meet me back right here after the performance," he replied.
"And then what?" Gabriel demanded.
"And then, if you show up, I shall tell you, Mister Mitchell."