Sherlock Holmes stood alone in the mall, people jostling him, music blaring, and there were far too many people here to allow him to feel secure. It was the week before Christmas, and the five-year-old had been separated from his family during shopping. He was frightened. He was alone in an ocean of people. No one cared. He started to cry. That was it. They were gone forever. Mummy and Daddy and Mycroft had left him all alone because they didn't love him.

He was too scared to move. He knew better than to trust strangers, but he needed a new family. He tugged on the sleeves of his jumper before using them to wipe his nose. The crying would not stop. He'd never see them again. Not Mummy, not Daddy, not Mycroft, not Matilda. He was alone.

A security guard approached him after some time and squatted down to Sherlock's level.

"What's wrong, love?"

Sherlock sniffed. "They lost me."

"Your parents?"

"And Mycroft. They don't love me so they left me here to die." Sherlock's sobs doubled. The security guard sighed with sympathy.

"Tell you what, we're going to find them."

"B—but Mummy says not to go with strangers." He couldn't help crying at a further realization that he'd never see them again. "Will you be my new daddy?"

The man smiled a sad little smile. "No, you have your own. I'll help you find them. What are they called?"

"Mummy and Daddy and Mycroft."

The man laughed gently. "What are their last names?"

Sherlock cried even harder. "H—h—holmes."

The man stood up straight. He switched on his radio and spoke into it. "Looking for a couple with a child called Holmes. Their other son got separated and I want to get them back together. Copy?"

"Roger. Will pass the word along."


Forty-five minutes later, and Sherlock was past crying. Now he was numb as all the people walked by. If his family didn't love him, he'd need to find a new one, and in his mind, he was auditioning people. That one had a dog. Sherlock didn't like dogs. That wouldn't do. They had a daughter. Also, no. That man was mean. That woman liked women. He was starting to think maybe he didn't need a family when his own returned.

"Sherlock Holmes!" His mother snapped. "Don't you ever get lost again, do you hear me?"

Then again, maybe he didn't want family, he thought as his mother thanked the security guard. She put a sort of child leash around his wrist, and strapped the other end to Mycroft. Sherlock hated being tied up, but hated being lost more. Besides, Daddy looked at him sternly when he tried to take it off. Well, at least he could handle his brother being tied to him. He liked Mycroft. Mycroft was nice.