"Sherly get back here right now!"
The fourteen-year-old Sherlock could hear his older brother's angry voice from all the way across the grounds. He'd left Mycroft at the back door of their parent's mansion with a look of absolute fury on his face.
The thing in question that they'd been arguing over was tucked safely under Sherlock's arm. Mycroft could stand there and shout all day if he wanted to, Sherlock wasn't giving this back even if his brother got down on his knees and begged- something he knew his brother would never stoop to.
Even though, Sherlock knew his brother would ensure that even if their father didn't cane him for it that he would after their parents had gone to sleep.
He hated that self-satisfied smirk on his brother's face when he got his own way, and that look of quiet meditation that meant something that Sherlock didn't like was about to happen.
The house they lived in was the biggest in the area, with wide and vast grounds; though the other boys he met in London told him that they had bigger houses in the country. The house itself was old but stable. But it didn't matter to Sherlock what it was, after all, Mycroft would get it all when his father died anyway.
Yes, he would be given a substantial sum to live on, he'd probably end up in a poky flat in London with all the other second born gentleman who could think of nothing else to amuse themselves other than gambling and drinking all day and night.
The very thought made him shiver.
Reaching the end of the ground, he managed to slip through the gates without being seen and proceed at a leisurely pace down to the village.
There were a few other boys in the village that his parents deemed of a high enough position to play with him, but Sherlock didn't like any of them anyway. He was loathed to admit it, but Mycroft seemed to be the only person he could actually sit down and have a conversation with.
After all, how could he sit down with anybody that couldn't even understand his and Mycroft's perfectly simple double encrypted code. But most of all, they all bored him. It was difficult to tell one from the other, and neither was particularly memorable.
Pausing on his journey, Sherlock went to sit down on the grass verge on the side of the road, examining what he had stolen from his brother for the first time.
The small animal in the cage blinked back at him.
Sherlock would never understand what his brother saw in animals, Sherlock himself couldn't think of anything more detestable.
Mycroft's current fancy was a horrid mouse with beady eyes, that had bitten Sherlock the last time it had escaped from its cage and found itself into his room. He'd set the stupid animal free, let it fend for itself in the wild.
He was about to do just this when somebody called out to him, causing him to hesitate for a moment and look up to see who it was who had interrupted him.
"What are you doing, you can't just set animals free like that!" A boy, perhaps two years younger than himself was hurrying towards him from the path that led in the direction of the village. Even though the boy was only twelve, there was a maturity about him that was rare in the boys of his own age that his mother had sent him to play with.
The younger boy frowned at him, glancing down into the cage.
Sherlock watched him with interest, trying to work out what he could about the boy without needing to ask.
Yes, the boy was definitely twelve. He was much smaller than himself, though it looked like the growth spurt was just about to kick in – something common in boys of this age.
He was of middle-class stock, like Sherlock himself, this was evident by his neat and expensive clothes. They were fashionable, but not the bright colours associated with the upper-class.
By the way he held himself and spoke, Sherlock could deduce that his father was a man of the military, most likely in a high up position.
The boy's childish face was home to a deep set of ice cold eyes beneath his dark brown hair, the eyes showed a startling age that Sherlock had never seen before. The eyes showed intelligence, but also suffering; this meant that something must be wrong at home, though it didn't seem as severe as the death of a relative.
As the boy leaned down to examine the animal in the cage, Sherlock let his eyes glance along the boy's exposed neck, watching his movement. There didn't seem to be any signs of abuse.
Though when he saw the boys hands he could see where little scratches had been made on the palms, most likely by his own nails gripping in anxiety.
The something that was wrong, was something that this boy wanted to stop, but knew he couldn't, this frustrated him, thus the nails digging into his palms.
Finding that he was beginning to struggle with this puzzle without conversation, he was forced to speak to the boy.
"Where are you from?"
The boy looked up at him, seemingly startled by the sudden question. He blinked back his surprise, standing up straight again in his erect position. "I'm from the village, number twenty-seven Far Lane."
Sherlock nodded, adding this new information to his thoughts.
Number twenty-seven was one of the nicest houses in the village; an Edwardian build with three stories and a cellar. The family must be wealthy. But he knew all of this already, the house alone wouldn't give him the information he needed.
So he got to his own feet, leaving the mouse cage on the grass (the door still held firmly closed with its pin). He began to walk around the boy, examining every detail of him at close range.
The boy stood very still, Sherlock could feel agitation but also curiosity wavering off the boy in his direction.
Faint, but noticeable dark marks under the boy's eyes, meant lack of sleep. There was no way the boy would be able to stand this straight and still if it was sexual abuse.
"Who's your father?" Sherlock asked another question while still walking around him, taking in everything he saw.
"General Sir Anthony Watson" the boy replied, a glow of pride in his voice as he spoke, but then the voice wavered, and the boy seemed to slump a little more.
Right. This meant that whatever had happened concerned his father, and in whatever way it was, he had let down the boy's opinion of him.
"Do you mind if I ask what you're doing?" The boy asked with a slight edge to his voice, though he still didn't move, "you don't look like somebody that's here to steal my money; I haven't got any anyway."
Sherlock pressed a finger to the boy's lips to hush him, also feeling the areas near the top of the lip where the boy had bitten down on it.
Then he began to notice the breathing. Even though the boy's appearance hardly betrayed it, he'd been running, and he'd been running very fast away from something.
"What is it?" Sherlock murmured, to himself rather than the boy.
"What's what?" The boy finally pulled away from him, standing a few paces away and glaring at him with those cold blue eyes. Though now Sherlock was looking at them properly, he saw that the coldness was only in the colour; deep down this boy was warm hearted and curious like any healthy boy of his age, though the intelligence still struck Sherlock as something new.
Of course the boy's intellect was nowhere near the level of his own and Mycroft's, but it was still curious.
With a sudden burst of excitement, Sherlock dove forwards, sniffing first at the boy's jacket, then undoing the buttons and sniffing the shirt underneath. He felt the boy's body flinch, so stepped back again.
"Your father has a mistress I presume. You found your father about two weeks ago with this new woman, and finally you confronted him about it and then ran away because you were afraid of what he might say back!"
The boy stared at him, "h-how do you know that?" He gasped, looking at Sherlock like he wasn't sure whether to be impressed or horrified.
"Never mind all that. My name is Sherlock Holmes," he held out his hand to shake the boy's.
The other boy took his hand, "John Watson"
"What a common name..." Sherlock didn't mean it in a nasty way, he was just taking note and adding it to the number of people he'd heard being called John.
But John took his hand back, looking annoyed. "So what?"
"Nothing, I'm just counting the number of Johns I meet" Sherlock assured him, "now you were telling me about this... vermin?" He indicated the mouse's cage.
"First tell me how you knew about my father" John insisted, standing his ground with his back straight again.
With a sigh and a roll of his eyes, Sherlock explained his pattern of thought, not really expecting John to understand.
So he was only the more surprised when John nodded, "that's pretty amazing" he admitted, before turning back to the mouse cage. "You can't set this mouse free because it's a domestic one and doesn't know how to fend for itself."
Giving himself a bit of a shake, Sherlock went to pick up the cage again. "So? Can't it learn?"
"Not fast enough to survive" John told him, "Who does that mouse belong to?"
"My brother" Sherlock admitted begrudgingly,
"Well, perhaps you should take it back to him" Watson suggested, indicating the direction that Sherlock had just come, "after all that mouse isn't yours to set free anyway."
Under usual circumstances, Sherlock would never have allowed anybody below his own intelligence to boss him around, especially someone younger than him; but he found it oddly pleasing to do as John asked him.
"Only if you come back with me" Sherlock grinned, "I'm bored and I want to see what else I can deduce about you."
John narrowed his eyes uncertainly, "I'm not sure I want you examining me like that again..."
"It'll be fun" Sherlock encouraged, giving his sleeve a tug with his free hand, trying to entice him towards his house.
"Fun for who, you or me?" John sighed, pulling his sleeve free, "besides, I should be getting back to apologise to my father for running away like that."
With a sigh, Sherlock let him go, "fine. I'll drop the mouse off, then I'll come and see you,"
"What?" John gave him a double-take,
"Go home, I'll be there in half-an-hour!" Without a look back, Sherlock sped off in the direction of his house again, with the mouse cage wrapped safely under his arm.
As he approached the house, he saw that Mycroft was till waiting for him with his arms folded by the back door.
He lifted an eyebrow when he saw that the mouse was still safely locked in its cage.
"You brought it back?" He questioned, taking the cage from Sherlock with a slight sound of surprise in his tone.
"I've got to go." Once he was sure that Mycroft had the cage in his arms he turned and sprinted back across the grounds to the front gate.
Mycroft was left staring after him with the mouse in its cage under his arms; then he smiled, shook his head and went back inside the house.
Sherlock dashed down the road that led to the village, the address that John had given him circling in his mind, working out a pathway on which the quickest route to take would be.
He reached the Watson household exactly half-an-hour after he'd said he would pay John a visit. A young maid answered the door- in Sherlock's house it was always a butler, but it was becoming less common now-a-days unless you lived in one of the big houses.
Sherlock didn't miss the hair out of place on her dark bun, or the crease in her dress. This must be the woman that was causing John so much anxiety.
"I'm a friend of Johns" Sherlock told her, realising at once that this was the last person John would be talking to, so she probably didn't know he was coming.
The woman nodded politely, standing aside to let him into the house.
It was a nicely furnished house Sherlock decided. With a few ornaments but just enough to give the house a stylish look. Everywhere in the house was clean and tidy.
In Sherlock's own home, the place was constantly a mess. His parents were usually in London, so he and Mycroft had the run of the house. This meant the kitchen was usually filled with his chemistry set, and the hallways piled high with his and Mycroft's books.
The maid gave him directions to John's room. There wasn't a trace of guilt in her voice, but she seemed too honest to be covering her act up. The odds were that she didn't know that John knew about her and his father.
Following her directions, Sherlock headed up the stairs onto the first floor, turning down the left corridor and counting down for the fourth door on the right.
He didn't bother knocking before bursting through the door.
John jumped when he entered, looking up from his position, where he was sitting on his bed. But didn't let out the same girly scream the other boys did when Sherlock snuck up on them.
"You did come" John murmured, fixing his eyes on Sherlock's, "...I thought you wouldn't."
Sherlock gave a scoff, jumping down onto the bed beside John, "I said I would didn't I, and I'm never late when told to arrive somewhere on time."
John lifted an eyebrow and smiled, "I didn't think you were the sort of person that abided by the usual manners and formalities."
Sherlock grinned as well, he was beginning to enjoy this boy's company, "manners, yes; formalities, no."
John sighed and laughed, he eyes shining. Sherlock realised from the lines on the boys face, it had been quite some time since he'd laughed like this. This filled Sherlock not only with a sense of achievement, but also a strange feeling that surged through his chest that he wasn't used to.
"You on the other hand" Sherlock observed, "are completely by the manners and formalities book."
John nodded, puffing out his chest.
Amused by John's stance, Sherlock poked him.
John glared at him, but there was amusement behind the annoyance.
Yes, he liked this boy. Perhaps being friends with someone wouldn't be so bad afterall.