Here he was again, in the fourth cubicle from the door in the boys toilets that seemed to be his second home at the moment. He had had his usual 1 o'clock session and was now sitting on the lid of the toilet nibbling on his ham sandwich his mother had made for him. He was staring at the graffiti on the back of the door, mindless 'I woz here's' and such like written all over it. The small boy shuddered at the frankly disgraceful grammar and contemplated correcting it, but thought against it as he knew that would mean his 1 o'clock session would be extended if they realised it was him.
Sherlock looked down at his arms, he had rolled back the sleeves of his shirt (something he would never do in front of anyone) and looked down at the fresh bruising pattern appearing on it, and some of the older darker ones still there. There were no more tears left in him, just numbness. He had learned to zone himself out when he was faced with the bullies in the older years. Everyday at lunch without fail they would be there waiting for him outside which ever class he had, no matter how quickly he tried to leave the classroom they would still be there waiting with the nasty sneers always on their faces. 'Freak' they would call him, pinning him down, 'know-it-all, think you're so clever don't you?' punching him over and over, but always in places where the bruises can't be seen.
At 10 years old Sherlock was not strong enough to defend himself against these 14 year olds boys, who hated Sherlock because of his incredible intelligence. Sherlock may be young, but he knew more about almost everything than a grown man. He also had an amazing skill of understanding human nature, although it wasn't easy for him to put it into practise himself. He could always tell what you had been up to, but instead of trying to fit in with the crowd and keep quiet, he would tell everyone, isolating himself from everyone around him. One day he made the mistake of ratting out a certain Jim Moriarty to the head teacher and that had set him up for a life of bullying.
His 14 year old brother was no use either. Mycroft was almost as smart as Sherlock but he, too, was hated in the school. Mycroft, however, was more ignored than bullied. People just didn't talk to him because he knew how to get people to do what he wanted, he was clever with words. He had been given the job of hall monitor and he would spend his lunch patrolling the corridors and playgrounds, a job he took very seriously. Mycroft would break up the fights Sherlock and Jim Moriarty would get into, but Jim would change the place of the attack whenever they got caught and so it was never easy but he would always try and be on the look out.
"I couldn't find you today, how bad was it?" Mycroft asked as he and Sherlock were walking home. Sherlock said nothing as his eyes drifted to his arms and his grip tightened on the straps of his rucksack. "I just wish there was more I could do!" Sherlock swallowed away a lump in his throat.
His family lived in a very small village, well away from any town, and there was only one school. They owned a small shop and so it was impossible for the family to move anywhere, and besides, his parents were always too busy to be aware of what was going on in their children's lives. It was always Sherlock and Mycroft looking out for each other, but they were just kids and there was very little they could do.
The next day Sherlock was sitting at his desk watching the clock. 12:54…12:55…
"…a new class member…" 12:56. "…make him feel welcome…" Sherlock wasn't paying attention to his teacher; he was waiting for the bell, waiting for his 1 o'clock session to begin. That was probably why he didn't notice the young boy sit down next to him.
The bell went and Sherlock gulped as he got up and walked towards the door. He felt a tap on his shoulder and he turned round.
"What?" A young boy behind him jumped.
"Um, hi. I'm John Watson, I'm new here." He smiled sweetly.
"Yes you must be, you're talking to me."
"Nothing. I'm Sherlock." This John Watson was the first person to talk to him for months, although he wasn't a people person, he wanted to have what little human contact he could have before this John realised you should stay away from Sherlock Holmes.
"Oh look, Sherly has made a friend," a sarcastic Irish voice said from the corridor. A tall, dark haired boy reached out shook John by the hand. "Jim Moriarty," he introduced himself and bowed.
"John Watson." His voice was hard, cold, it took Sherlock by surprised. He looked at John for the first time with open eyes. His sandy hair was messy; he didn't care too much about his appearance, just enough to look good. His eyes sparkled as they looked at Sherlock but seemed to turn black as they went back to Jim. His mouth was hard and flat, but the smile he had just given Sherlock was so warm and welcoming, it was like he was looking at a completely different person to the one in the classroom two minutes ago!
"Come on Sherly, we have an appointment don't we?" Jim smiled, but it was not a friendly smile. Sherlock looked between Jim and his henchmen beside him.
"Do you mind if I come? I like joining clubs." John's voice was hard, he didn't like the look of this Jim Moriarty and he didn't want to leave Sherlock on his own with him.
"Private club I'm afraid." Jim reached out and pulled Sherlock towards him. "Come on pretty boy," he whispered in his ear.
"Bye John," Sherlock muttered. That was the end of that friendship, Sherlock thought. John unwillingly walked to lunch as Jim, Sherlock and the henchmen walked towards the bike sheds.
Sherlock went under the usual beating and was left to crawl back to the toilets like he had done so many times before. Jim was particularly annoyed due to the attempted interference of this John person and that had made him break the bully rules and hit Sherlock in the face causing him to split his bottom lip. After Sherlock had pulled himself together by sobbing in his cubicle, he saw to his lip, dabbing it with a wet tissue. He was alone in the cubicle; most people were in the canteen eating lunch on the other side of the school. He undid the first couple of buttons of his shirt and looked at the bruises. His finger traced the yellow shoe shape on his skin.
He retreated to his cubicle as he heard someone enter but a voice caused him to freeze.
"Sherlock?" He turned. "Oh my…" John trailed off as he took in what he was looking at.
With his shirt undone and his sleeves rolled back John could see the multi-coloured bruises on Sherlock's skin. They stared at each other, one out of embarrassment, the other out of shame. "What have they done to you?" John whispered. Suddenly aware of his bare chest Sherlock attempted to cover himself up with his thin arms but John walked up to him and moved Sherlock's arms out of the way. Sherlock didn't resist. John traced the yellow and purple marks on Sherlock's body, which seemed to act like a trigger as Sherlock suddenly burst into tears.
Sherlock told John everything. How the school hated him and how everyday he was punched and kicked by Jim and his henchmen and how sometimes they even cut him with a small pocket knife Jim kept with him and how he couldn't do anything about it because Jim was the Mayor's son, and no one would upset the mayor. When Sherlock had told on Jim, the mayor had threatened Sherlock saying he could lose his parents jobs and put him and Mycroft into care if he did anything like that against his Jim again, so Sherlock had remained quiet for months.
John stayed silent as Sherlock poured his heart out to him. He had put his arm around his shoulders to try and comfort him but Sherlock had shrugged them off. He felt so sorry for Sherlock. People had been telling him at lunch about the 'freak' in his class and to stay away from him as he was evil and a smarty-pants but all John could see was a bullied and vulnerable soul that just needed a friend. And he was determined to be that friend.
The next day John and Sherlock were sitting in the classroom. Again Sherlock was watching the clock, ignoring the teacher talk about some volcano in Scandinavia or Indonesia. John was beside him furiously taking down notes. Why would you want to learn about volcanoes? He thought to himself, it's such useless information taking up precious space in one's brain.
The bell went and Sherlock slowly made his way to the door with John muttering something about 'how interesting it was to learn how volcanoes work'.
"Hello Sherly," came a menacing voice. Sherlock didn't say anything, but walked towards Jim accepting his punishment. Jim stroked the split lip on Sherlock's face and smiled.
"I don't think so." John grabbed Jim's wrist, causing him to wince in pain, he pulled his arm from John's grip and rubbed it slightly. He said nothing, just stared hard into John's eyes. John didn't even flinch; he merely stared back, not blinking in the slightest. "Come on Sherlock, let's get some lunch." Sherlock was uneasy, he was afraid that if he turned his back Jim would knock him down.
After looking between John and Sherlock, Jim said, "Come on guys, he isn't worth it," and slowly turned to leave. Amazed Sherlock turned to John and gave him a smile, and John gave him a warm smile in return.
"What was that hand thing you did?"
"There is a pressure point on your wrist that if you press on it in a certain way, it will hurt and cause you to release your grip. My father is in the army and my mother is a doctor so together they taught me how to look after myself." John grinned.
"Thank you," Sherlock said as they walked towards the canteen.
Jim watched them walk away with his hands in tight fists. He felt the jealously surged through him.
"We'll get him tomorrow," said one of his henchmen. They hated Sherlock; Jim had twisted their minds so that they did. But the funny thing was that Jim didn't hate Sherlock. He was in love with Sherlock. He had only broken the rules to get Sherlock's attention but all Sherlock had done was tell on him, and Jim wanted to punish him for it. Hurting Sherlock was the only way Jim could think of to get close to him, to get his attention. It was better for Sherlock to hate him than for Sherlock to not know him at all. But this John character felt like a threat, and Jim did not like it.