"Six Times Sherlock Holmes Was Ashamed to be Himself ... And One Time He Wasn't"
Author's Note: Well hello all. I hope you all enjoy this little bit of a one-shot - it comes from the desire I've always had to write something on that scene between John and Sherlock in the taxi on the way to Moriarty's trial when Sherlock says, "I'll just be myself". It is ALSO an attempt to stave off the writer's block that has been plaguing me since I last posted in "Though This Be Madness". I am aware that the format of these stories usually reads "FIVE times" vs. "one time", but I realized when I'd finished writing this that I had written six times that Sherlock was ashamed to be himself and then I just couldn't decide which one to delete. So please, excuse the excess ficlet lol and we can all be happy in the end. I also am not quite certain why this story came out written in the present tense, it just sort of happened that way...
Anyhow, please enjoy, I am rather pleased with this drabble myself...
The year is 1986. Sherlock Holmes is eight years old and George McFarlin has stolen his math homework to copy the answers. Little McFarlin has done this because, as everyone knows, that "freak" Sherlock is a genius and his answers are always right. The will-be detective is now sitting in the muddy lawn outside Taft Hall where Mcfarlin has pushed him down and is plotting his revenge.
Sherlock Holmes is eight years old and some small part of him still clings to a boyish dream of one day becoming a pirate. This is why Sherlock Holmes does not question the fact that the method of revenge he chooses involves walloping young George McFarlin over the head with a wooden pirate sword – the one Sherlock keeps hidden in his school bag at all times in case of just such trouble as this. George McFarlin cries out loud and tells teacher that Sherlock Holmes tried to murder him.
An hour later, in the headmaster's office, Sherlock's big brother Mycroft is waiting. When the headmaster explains to the older Holmes what has happened, big brother pats Sherlock reassuringly on the shoulder and says to the headmaster: "You must forgive him, sir, but he really does think he's a pirate."
Sherlock smiles a small smile because it's true – he is a pirate and he is quite proud.
The headmaster frowns at Mycroft Holmes – the school's biggest brownnose – and says sternly, "Well that is simply unacceptable."
Ten-year-old Mycroft sees the disapproval in his elder's eyes and surreptitiously removes his hand from his brother's shoulder. "I completely agree, sir."
Sherlock Holmes is eight years old and he frowns because suddenly, when even his own brother refuses to take his side, being a pirate doesn't seem like quite so much fun. In fact, it feels rather lonely, and eight-year-old Sherlock slouches in his chair and is ashamed.
The year is 1992. Sherlock Holmes is fourteen years old. He is away at Eton and the school is planning a Valentine's Day dance, at which time the all-boys school will play host to its sister school: the all girl's St. Catherine Academy.
Sherlock is packing up his books after chemistry when his favorite teacher, Mr. Fawley, asks for a word. The boy genius waits silently for the other students to file past and then asks, "Sir?"
Mr. Fawley smiles at Sherlock and asks kindly, "Are you planning on attending Saturday's dance, Mr. Holmes?"
Sherlock stares in confusion for a moment. Surely Mr. Fawley knows that he has no friends? Well, except Victor Trevor, of course, but Sherlock suspects Victor probably doesn't like dances very much. For that matter, neither does he. "I don't think so, sir."
"No?" Mr. Fawley frowns, "Are you quite sure? Dances are a lot of fun. Some of my best memories from my time at Eton were from dances just like the one coming up."
Fourteen-year-old Sherlock is unconvinced. "Oh?"
"Yes indeed," says Mr. Fawley. "You might be surprised to find you'll have quite a pleasant time. And you must remember to ask that special someone for a dance," the teacher adds with a wink and a fatherly smile.
Sherlock spends all week considering, and when Saturday night arrives it finds the young prodigy lurking about the punch bowl at the Valentine's Day dance watching Victor chat up some girls across the room. When he saunters back over to Sherlock, he throws a companionable arm about his friend's shoulder. The detective-to-be feels himself blush, making his ears uncomfortably hot.
"Victor," Sherlock clears his throat nervously, "I was wondering if perhaps you would like to dance?"
After that, the evening does not go very well for fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes. Not only does Victor turn him down (politely, yes, but quite firmly), but some of the other boys overhear and call him a "poof" before dumping the punch bowl over his head. The worst of all, however, is when Mr. Fawley pulls young Sherlock aside to explain that he most certainly did not mean Mr. Trevor when he'd said "someone special" – he had, of course, meant one of the girls from St. Catherine's.
"But sir," Sherlock tries miserably to explain, "I don't like-"
"Mr. Holmes," Sherlock's favorite teacher interrupts, "you must be aware that there is a code of conduct at this school and we do not permit behavior of questionable morality."
Sherlock Holmes is fourteen years old and he does not say anything because even if Mr. Fawley cannot understand, Victor is the only "someone special" in his life. And while he has never heard the word "poof" before tonight, it makes him desperately ashamed of the way he blushes when Victor touches him and the way he had always felt so safe when Victor was around. It is perhaps his first hard lesson in love, and Sherlock Holmes is taught once again that who he is is quite unacceptable.
The year is 1997. Sherlock Holmes is nineteen years old. He has no friends, university is a bore, and the delinquent genius is angry and frustrated with life.
It is Wednesday night, and approximately five hours ago, Sherlock decided that breathing was boring - too boring, in fact, to be continued.
Now, he is lying in a hospital bed with an IV tube connected to his left elbow and a very aggravated-looking older brother glaring at him from the visitor's chair.
"Oh good," Mycroft says sarcastically, "you're awake."
Sherlock scowls and wishes he were still unconscious.
"How many times must we go through this, little brother? I grow weary of having to track you down in alleys and fish you out of gutters. Isn't it about time you gave up this charade? The indifference, the drugs – it's getting a bit old, don't you think?"
Sherlock frowns. Mycroft thinks it was simply another overdose, but Sherlock does not bother to correct him. "Perhaps you should leave," says nineteen-year-old Sherlock, not bothering to make eye contact.
"I will," Mycroft aggress, "and this will be the last time I'm woken in the middle of the night to come rescue you. So please, do just focus on your studies and try to join the world of normal, productive human beings."
Sherlock laughs lowly. "I'm sorry," he says scornfully, "did I embarrass you again, Mycroft? "
Mycroft doesn't bat an eye when he responds coldly and clearly: "You are an addict, Sherlock. You are not only an embarrassment, but a disappointment."
The door slams and nineteen-year-old Sherlock closes his eyes in the darkness of the hospital room. He is alone and naked beneath his hospital gown. The world is cold and quite cruel and Sherlock is sure there is no place at all for a person like him.
The year is 2005. Sherlock Holmes is twenty-seven years old. He is striding along behind Detective Inspector Lestrade, on his way to investigate his first crime scene – well, the first crime scene he will have permission to investigate. Sherlock is feeling giddy and a little self-righteous because he is quite sure he has already solved the crime in its entirety – a look at the body will only confirm his theories.
Sherlock Holmes arrives to several pairs of eyes watching him suspiciously – other officers, clearly uncomfortable with his presence and jealous of the way their Inspector has raved about his abilities – but Sherlock is unperturbed. He examines the body and the surrounding area, has barely been at work for three minutes – when he turns to the others and delivers his verdict.
D.I. Lestrade sets a few other officers to work and chuckles happily to himself before congratulating Sherlock and thanking him profusely for his assistance. Once out of earshot of the other Scotland Yarders, Lestrade even offers Sherlock a permanent position as a consultant.
Sherlock beams. He is twenty-seven years old, but perhaps he has finally found it – a place to belong.
Yes, elementary school had been a nightmare, and Eton was hell on earth for a gangly, pubescent boy genius. Cambridge had been miserable with its profusion of ignorant, rich coeds and mind-numbing classes, certainly. But perhaps this – perhaps being a consulting detective – well, that might be just the thing he had been looking for all those years. The name had a certain ring to it, certainly, and swanning around a crime scene in his elegant greatcoat, proving his genius to lesser mortals – well, nothing had ever made him feel quite so alive.
Sherlock Holmes shakes the hand of Gregory Lestrade and is about to duck beneath the yellow caution tape when he hears it: a few snickering voices, just loud enough so that he can hear them. One says "freak", another says "weirdo, and a final says "psychopath".
Sherlock Holmes is twenty-seven years old and he realizes that the voices from his past cannot be silenced – they are here with him now, calling him the names he rightly deserves.
The year is 2012. Sherlock Holmes is thirty-four years old and he is sitting in a taxi with his flatmate and – dare he say it – friend, Dr. John Watson, on the way to the trial of James Moriarty.
Sherlock is nervous – a feeling with which he is not familiar – and John is trying to give him advice.
"Remember what I told you," John says.
Sherlock cannot help the deadpan of his voice. He cannot help being just the tiniest bit annoyed with John. No one seems to understand – the trial is a sham, it must be. Moriarty is smarter than this – Moriarty is planning something. Sherlock is scared because nothing he says at the trial is going to make a difference anyway.
"God forbid the star witness of the trial should come across as intelligent," he snaps, and he knows there is venom in his words.
"Intelligent, fine," John says, irritated, "Let's give smartass a wide berth."
Sherlock looks out the window, watches London pass him by. "I'll just be myself," he says, and in some small way, it is a challenge.
"Are you listening to me?" John asks angrily.
Sherlock sighs. He is thirty-four years old and realizes again that everyone – even this person, even John, who had seemed so different, so … accepting – will find something wrong with him. Sherlock Holmes has been called a freak, a poof, a psychopath – and so he cannot understand that John is only angry because John is scared too, scared for him. All he hears is one more person condemning him for who and what he is.
The year is 2012. Sherlock Holmes is thirty-four years old, and he was right about everything. The trial was a sham, Moriarty has won, and this is the end of Sherlock Holmes.
"Molly … I think I'm going to die."
It's strange how surreal everything feels – how distant Sherlock feels as he discusses the future he will not be a part of because he'll be "dead". It's eerie how even though his death will be a fake one, it makes him reflect on a life that perhaps wasn't really worth living in the first place.
At thirty-four years old, Sherlock Holmes thinks back to all the times when he was ashamed to be Sherlock Holmes. He thinks of George McFarlin and his pirate sword, he thinks of Victor Trevor and his "morally questionable" adolescent crush, he thinks of needles and gutters and the disapproving glare of his elder brother, he thinks of Sally Donovan and the word "freak" as it followed him home, but mostly he thinks of John and that taxi ride. John, who in a few hours time will think him dead and a fraud. John, who had accepted all of Sherlock's other names – "freak", "poof", "psychopath" – but who had contemptuously added one to the list himself, "smartass", and who might not be able to accept the final name Sherlock would adopt: "fake".
Molly Hooper is watching Sherlock carefully. She is seeing the doubt in his eyes, and the fear, and the self-loathing. "Sherlock?"
The sound of his own name brings the detective back for a moment, and he quirks an eyebrow at the young woman across from him, hoping she cannot see how close he is to tears – hoping she cannot see how seriously he is considering jumping for real. "Yes?"
"I think it's terribly brave what you're doing."
Sherlock Holmes cannot comprehend what she means. Brave does not factor into the equation at all. There is a problem to be solved – there are people in danger, people he loves – and this is the only logical solution to that problem. "I don't … understand."
Molly smiles a little sadly and puts her hand over Sherlock's. "Risking everything, doing something so daring, to keep them safe, to keep John safe – it's completely selfless."
Sherlock frowns at the physical contact, but he knows Molly means well. She has a funny way of speaking sometimes though – about feelings and things that he cannot feel and sentiments he cannot understand. "Selfless?"
"Yes," she says, "you're a hero."
Sherlock Holmes is thirty-four years old and while he cannot understand "brave" or "selfless", "hero" is a fairly concrete noun and he thinks he can wrap his mind around it. "Hero" is someone who saves other people – "hero" is someone who protects people. Sherlock Holmes thinks of Lestrade sitting in his office, and Mrs. Hudson making tea, and John – dear John – who will be there at the very end, and he smiles because this is something he cannot be ashamed of. Sherlock Holmes will go to his death unflinchingly. He will smile and he will fall gladly because for the first time in his life, Sherlock Holmes is not ashamed of who he is.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed! I wanted to try out a litter simpler of a writing style than I normally use, and this format seemed to work nicely. Please let me know what you think, and if I should try this "five times" vs. "one time" style-thiny again. Thanks!