...their beginnings in the world at large.
Abjure (Mycroft, Sherlock)
The very first day of Sherlock's life (the two thousand, seven hundred and thirty-seventh day of his), Mycroft held his brother close, gentle. He felt the tiny weight against his chest and promised, "I'll take care of you," when no one was there to hear but the two of them. He suspects now that he is the only person heartbroken by his failure to keep that first and only oath. It seemed much simpler—and perhaps more true—in the silent night of the nursery. In these grown-up days, he wonders whether the making or the breaking was the worse offense.
Taxonomy (John, Harry, Sherlock, Mycroft)
They used to play out on the corner, on afternoons when they were avoiding home. Harry would point to a passing stranger, John would come up with a story for them. Their standbys: the secret agent, the superhero, the cheating husband. The world carefully concentrated into characters and plotlines. John still catches himself doing it, some days.
Mycroft and Sherlock spent most of their afternoons in the park, books stacked between them. Mycroft would point, Sherlock would deduce, and they'd argue happily over observations, tendencies, predictions. They broke the world into pieces, neatly boxed and understood. Pity it couldn't last.
The world stretches out before him, black and white and brown like the chess board. People are disgusting, loud, unbearable, and they're liars.
It's so, so easy to push them one way, direct them in another, just like pieces on the board. They have no idea, and that makes it fun. Sometimes even a little challenging.
When he realizes people die, it's fascinating. Just a shell left, a bag of meat.
By the time he's seven, Jim gets used to people calling him learns to smile.
They're wrong. He's the only one who sees that nothing actually exists.
Acumen (Sherlock, Mummy)
The teacher shifts nervously under Mummy's keen stare. Sherlock can't blame him. He gazes around the familiar classroom with a bored eye, only half paying attention to the adults' conversation.
"He's very...well, he's very bright, obviously," Mr. Hashum is saying in a high voice.
Nerves, Sherlock's brain supplies. He hasn't slept well.
"Yes," Mummy agrees with a smile in Sherlock's direction.
There is a but attached to the teacher's compliment: He's disruptive, he doesn't play along, the other children don't like him. Never to be voiced, now. Mummy knows anyway, but she understands, keeps smiling. Sherlock slumps, relieved.
When he was six, John wanted to be just like Harry. That lasted for about four months, which was pretty impressive, in retrospect. When he was eight, he wanted to be just like his dad. That lasted for longer than it should have, before he realized why his mom looked so tired and sad.
At fifteen, he wanted to be like Jack Simmons, who had every girl in lower sixth at his beck and call. When he caught Jack chasing Niri Barot down the back alley, he won his first fist fight. After that, he was plenty happy being himself.
He finds it in a corner of the parts shed, pushed behind a pile of mismatched fenders he's trying to sort out. It's clearly ancient, totally covered in brown rust. On closer inspection, the regulator's eaten through. The oil feed lines are shot too, but he can probably fix that. He stands there for a second with his hand on the bars, imagines sitting astride it and whipping down the road, catching eyes.
He works all summer for that bike, stays after, fixes her up and makes her run. Mr. Hendricks thinks he's insane. Lestrade's pretty sure he's in love.
"So, I, uh—I was wondering-" her head turned, big blue eyes widened in surprise, and John felt sweat break out on his palms.
Oh, bugger. His hands were shaking. This had been a terrible idea. He never should've-
"You were wondering..." she prompted.
Well. Too late now. "I was wondering if you'd think about...were you planning on going to the dance on Friday? Because...so was I. And if you were going maybe we could...you know...ah, what I meant was that-"
"Yeah," she said with a smile. "Alright."
"Oh." John blinked. "Brilliant."
After she's done, Sally wedges her back against the flimsy door and sinks down to the tile, braced against the toilet. The air's hot and damp; her hair plasters on her neck. She ignores it, hands clutched around the little white stick, stark against her skin.
Two blue lines. Two blue lines and she'll be the girl who drops out, who stays home with the baby, off the map. She'll live here with Dad forever and what would she name it and she'll never-
One pink line. Even as she sobs with relief, something near her heart breaks a little.
Auspicious (Lestrade, Mycroft, John)
On his very first day of work, Lestrade got his badge and a pair of cuffs. They were shiny, official, untarnished. The weight of them on his belt made him smile, not knowing they'd make him old.
On Mycroft's first day of the job that would subsume his life, he bought himself an umbrella. The moment needed a sense of occasion, and he appreciated the symbolism.
On the first day of basic, they handed John a gun. The moment he felt its weight on his shoulder, he realized it was a more promising start than his stethoscope had ever been.
Oxford is dull, full of the same insipid, ignorant stupidity as the rest of the world. Sherlock finds himself disappointed; he'd hoped that there would be a challenge here, some kind of higher level that would ignite his interest. Instead there are disgusting, vapid frat boys and unimaginative, ancient professors, and all of them are dull and boring and wrong.
There seems no point in going to class or doing the work when it's all so terribly predictable. People fear his intelligence, his deductions. He lets them.
Fortunately the cocaine proves fairly stimulating, and all too easy to come by.
Kowtow (Mycroft, Anthea)
At this point in his career, Mycroft Holmes was used to men and women, newspaper salesmen and world rulers alike, glancing away to avoid his gaze and ducking their heads as he walked past. It was hardly surprising, given his personal and positional authority. It was amusing, even a little satisfying.
Still, it made finding good help something of a difficulty. He needed an assistant, not a sycophant. So when he bumped into her at an MI-6 function and she looked up from her cellphone and held his gaze, he smiled and said, "Hello. Would you like a job?"
Photosynthesis (John, Harry)
He and Harry had never seen eye-to-eye, really, not even when they were kids. But their parents did most of the fighting for them, so by the time John was sixteen and Harry was nineteen, they'd come to some mutual understandings. In the summer, when both of them were home from work (John) and dates (Harry), they'd climb out the window in John's room and sunbathe on the roof. It wasn't much; just a few blankets, sleepy heat, lemonade, some burns. Stepping off the plane in Afghanistan, the sun reminded him of Harry. She hadn't come to see him off.
Nonsectarian (Lestrade, Anderson)
On his second day as DI, Lestrade got the official email about holiday greeting coworker awareness. It was three paragraphs long, and included most of the buzzwords from the mind-numbing sensitivity seminar they'd been forced to attend last weekend.
Anderson found him slumped over his desk with his head in his hands. Lestrade looked up, knowing the lines of bureaucracy were already on his face.
"Nondenominational holiday greetings to you and your immediate family," Lestrade offered, deadpan.
Anderson's eyebrows rose in amusement. "Merry bloody Christmas," he returned with a grin.
Lestrade couldn't believe his luck, getting this team.
Tectonic (Mrs. Hudson, moving)
She moves back to England, after it all. It seems right, all things considered. Besides, she doesn't have much place else to go these days, does she.
She'll always miss Florida. She misses the sun, the beaches, the lovely dears in her bridge club. Marg offered up her spare room, but...well. It all reminds her too much of him, and he's still fresh in the ground. It's time to move on. The earth feels like it's moving underneath her feet.
So she goes home, back to London. Nothing's changed, except she's in different pieces than the ones she left with.
Bellicose (Sherlock, Scotland Yard)
"Oh, God, not again."
Sherlock straightens his spine and ducks under the tape. He'd hoped to avoid this today. He's tired. Donovan and Anderson descend like vultures, circling. They keep their distance, at least.
"He's let you back in already?" Donovan sighs, mouth pinched. "Wouldn't be so sure you're not doped up."
"Wouldn't be sure he hasn't left a body in an alley somewhere," Anderson oozes.
It's pathetic. A retort builds on his tongue, slower than usual, but Lestrade appears. "You have work to do."
For once, Sherlock takes the out, grin smug and sharp.
Totalitarian (Mycroft, Lestrade)
Sherringford Holmes had been...well. Authoritative was generous. Demanding. Exacting. Cruel. As the firstborn, Mycroft learned to outwardly obey, to live up to his father's seemingly impossible standards. Sherlock doesn't realize how often Mycroft stepped in, protected him from that. They absolutely never discuss it.
Lestrade is the oldest of five. His father had never been in the picture. Lestrade helped with bills, raised his siblings, grew up too fast. He came to expect everything from himself because no one else would hold him to it. His family is quite touchingly thankful.
Reading Lestrade's file, Mycroft sees more similarities than differences.
Soliloquy (Sherlock, Homeless Girl)
She heard his voice echoing pretty on the stones, so she turned into the alley. There: nattering on at thin air, pacing, hands in his hair. "No, he's gone, where would..."
She hadn't seen him around, hadn't heard about him. Seemed like their type, though, so she interrupted. "Need somethin', mister?"
He stopped abruptly and turned to face her. His eyes cut through her, but she held the gaze. Knew what it was like to talk at walls.
His mouth widened into a smile, mad glint in his eyes. "Yes. I do. You hear things, I imagine."
The heat presses in like a living thing, dry and baking. The sand is blinding white, and it gets into absolutely everything, constantly irritating. The sky is so blue it hurts to look at, and at night it's coated in stars. Standing in the middle of it, even with his unit around him, makes him feel small and quiet.
They also get shot at on a daily basis. The taste of grit, the solid weight of the gun, the feel of blood on his hands. This life should be hell.
John has to pretend very hard not to enjoy it.
Sanguine (Mike, Sherlock)
Oh, Sherlock was a nice enough bloke, really, once you got past the rest of it. Mike had seen enough child prodigies in his day to know the signs. Sherlock was edgy, tried to drive people away, used those mad deductions of his like a shield. Mike didn't mind that, particularly. He made sympathetic noises while Sherlock ranted. Easy enough to ignore the insults, even the ones he really meant. They'd met outside a chem seminar, and despite Sherlock's nattering on about being just fine on his own, they kept meeting for coffee. Mike just smiled and let him talk.
Quasar (Lestrade, Mycroft)
Lestrade's out in the middle of absolutely nowhere, with just his tent and his telescope, but Mycroft Holmes manages to find him anyway. He stands beside Lestrade, shivering. "Take a look," Lestrade says, offering him the eyepiece. "It's a quasar. It emits huge amounts of energy, could turn into a black hole at the drop of a hat. Far away, too. Eons."
"Sounds familiar," Mycroft murmurs. Lestrade recognizes that strained, exhausted tone. Sherlock's still detoxing, then.
"Have a drink," he says. Mycroft watches him, uncertain, and then nods his thanks and settles into Lestrade's only chair.
He puts an end to the drugs the April before John. To say end is a misnomer, of course. The chemicals are gone from his flat and his veins, but he feels the absence as surely as he felt their presence. He still reaches for them when he is exhausted or off-guard. He used to think of Mycroft's dark frown or the sound of Lestrade's disappointed sigh. He doesn't need them any more to still himself and stifle the longing for quick-silver highs. His hands no longer shake. He has them (himself) beaten and contained.
Pity. He misses the quiet.
In his dreams, he walks with ease, gun to his shoulder, pace smooth.
He wakes up to a leg that won't hold his weight and a hand that can't hold a fork steady, let alone a gun.
He remembers the heat, the breath-stealing dryness, the heart-pounding adrenaline of remaining silent, waiting for the moment-
London is damp and cold, and he loves it, even if he can't breathe in the humidity. He stays quiet, waiting for...something.
His dreams are full of movement—the world turning on the buzz of bullets.
John never suspected running into war would leave him standing still.
Chromosome (Mrs. Hudson)
She and the Mister never had children, and she didn't regret it, really. He was never much of the fathering type, and she'd been so terribly young. Then he'd gone and proved himself a monster, and she'd been left alone, free, and terribly old.
But there was Sherlock. Such a brilliant thing, and so very lonely. Lost. She let him in and cut the rate, and even filled the fridge occasionally. Then that sweet John Watson came along. John smiled at her, held the door, checked on her soothers. Lovely boys, both of them, and more than enough for her.
Fiduciary (Mycroft, Lestrade, John, Sherlock)
Mycroft is the reason Sherlock survived to the age of twenty. He carried him as a baby, directed his footsteps as a toddler, taught him to read, taught him to silence the overwhelming noise of facts flying through his head at the speed of light. It was his familial duty.
Lestrade took on the burden of getting Sherlock sober. It was messy and often mean. Lestrade gave him the Work, knowing its importance. Someone had to do it.
John Watson is willingly responsible for the rest: for Sherlock becoming good as well as great. It's what friends do, after all.
Equinox (John, Sherlock)
They never talk about it, actually. John and Sherlock come from entirely different backgrounds, families, social situations, life experiences. The Holmes family was (is?) obviously rich; John's folks barely scrambled by. Sherlock went to uni, probably never finished. John went to med school, and then to war. Sherlock's older brother runs the world, while John's older sister just avoids it.
Sherlock can probably read all the history in the lines of John's face, and John could probably do some research and figure out how Sherlock lived, before. They don't.
They slot together effortlessly. That seems plenty to get on with.
Author's Note: All the prompt words are taken from "The 100 words every high school graduate should know". If you want to test your vocabulary, pull up a dictionary site and see how you do. As always, your thoughts, comments and reading time are all greatly appreciated. This is a rather experimental thing, so your feedback would be very helpful. Next part soon. Cheers!