AN: Ok, this is a tag on to my abuse fic, 'Futility', which at least a few of you seem to have enjoyed. It's third in my third whump upload, and a thank you to all of you for your kind responses. It's also the result of an idea I had about the night when Father Holmes lost control.
I didn't make it clear in the first fic, and I acknowledge that as a fault of mine, but I don't consider this within canon. It's just a story. Although I think there may have been an abuse situation, I don't believe it was anything as extreme as what I've written for various reasons. You can agree or disagree, that's totally fine and I respect your opinion, but if all you want is to debate these issues, I'd appreciate it if you sent me a PM rather than a review. It's just a bit more polite to keep the review about the story, ok? I mean no disrespect, and I appreciate all your feedback, it's just that sometimes it's a little hurtful, and there's no reason for there to be discontent over a misunderstanding. Thanks.
This is set after S2E2, there will be SPOILERS up to S2E2. I felt I needed the relationship to be as established as it was so clearly by that episode, because while I'm not saying this is canon, it's loosely set within and among the events of the series. Ideally I'd stick it after The Reichenbach Fall, because there are moments there that don't really work in relation to the progression of the boy's relationship here, obviously. But otherwise I'd have to just dismiss the whole reunion and that felt wrong, so instead, imagine a bubble of AU round this little fic.
This will be angsty, hurt/comfort Johnlock kind of stuff. It'll mostly stick to friendship, though there'll be some heavy allusions to more.
DISCLAIMER: Nope, still don't own anything to do with Sherlock. I do own my own original characters and ideas, so please don't steal.
"Why do you hate Mycroft so much?"
John's voice brought Sherlock from his thoughts, where he'd been scanning his most recent memories and finding a depressing amount of occurrences where he ought to have located the drug in the conveniently atmospheric mist during the Baskerville case. The good doctor's voice held honest curiosity, none of the lingering annoyance from Sherlock's less socially intelligent decision to use him as a lab rat.
A curious feeling settled on his shoulders as he looked over at his friend (just the one.) For once, the words fell from his mouth before Sherlock really had the chance to think about them. "I don't hate Mycroft. I simply find his excessive concern overdue and unnecessary. Not to mention stifling, condescending and irritating."
John chuckled at this tag on, taking a sip of tea but not taking his eyes off Sherlock, one sandy eyebrow quirked in an expression of interest with which the detective was more than familiar. "Overdue? Can't see you wanting anyone's concern, I know you don't want mine most of the time."
Sherlock shrugged, getting to his feet and walking briskly to the kitchen, feeling suddenly, unsettlingly shy. He replied over his shoulder, with as much studied disinterest as he could manage, "it wasn't so much wanting concern as needing protection. Though I do, um, you know, think your…sentiment is, ah, good." He cut himself off with an abashed cough and grabbed a mug from the cupboard.
Footsteps - John, as expected. Sherlock's doctor was as reliable as he was loyal. He leant against the door, frowning a little, kind navy eyes narrowed in concern. "What did you need protecting from?"
Sherlock took a moment to realize that he was doing this, that he'd chosen to initiate it, that he could back out if he wanted to…and that he really didn't want to. That he wanted, needed to get rid of this. His emotions may be somewhat warped, but…the time was right. At last. He finished filling up the kettle and put it on, flicking the switch and staring at the slightly burnished steel. "My father." His voice was quiet, it was harder than he'd thought it'd be to say it out loud.
There was rustle, a short, quick inhalation of breath as John readjusted his posture. Sherlock looked at him sideways, nerves fizzing up in his gut. John's back was straight, his chin raised. He wasn't going to back away from this. He gave Sherlock a small, gentle smile. "Would you like to talk about it?"
The kettle started to boil and Sherlock dug his hands into his pockets. He took a deep breath, letting the emotions wash uneasily into his mind. "Yes. Actually, I would."
John nodded, once, carefully schooling his expression into a neutral façade Sherlock saw through easily but appreciated nonetheless. He turned back into the lounge as Sherlock poured his tea, taking a seat and waiting for the detective. A few seconds later, Sherlock followed, cradling his cup. He didn't sit, choosing instead to pace, trying to exorcise the frantic energy beginning to shiver through his veins, the unease tickling his spine.
"So, Father abused me." Four simple little words, belying eight years of torment. Sherlock gave a harried, breathless laugh, setting his teacup on the mantle and flexing his hands. "You'll be curious, morbidly so I expect, perhaps? So essentially what that means is that he hit me, kicked me, caned me, threw me, strangled me…Occasionally locked me in the cellar with no food, water if I was lucky, tied up if I wasn't." Sherlock cleared his throat, rolled his shoulders, stared at his skull. "This started when I was 5. At first, Mummy tried to step in. She succeeded, a little. But she, sh, well, she died, you see, in a plane crash on her way home a few months later." Sherlock paused in his pacing, going still for a moment. "I remember, after the funeral – father didn't come – after the funeral I remember sitting on Mummy's grave, and knowing that he wouldn't stop now, knowing I wasn't safe anymore – Mycroft couldn't do anything, he was 13 – I asked him, I asked him why we couldn't be with her. I understood the death part, I just…didn't want to go through the pain before it happened." Sherlock paused here, because John had made a soft, choked sound.
Taking a quick, deep breath, Sherlock crushed the nerves pulsing through his blood and looked at his friend. John had a hand to his mouth, eyes shining a little more than they had been previously in the dim light. He was looking at Sherlock as if he was worried the other man may suddenly fall apart. After a few moments more, John swallowed, briefly shutting his eyes before wordlessly waving Sherlock on.
"Right. For a month, nothing happened. Father drank, Mycroft took on the role of mother, and we both…waited. Then that time was over. Father fired the servants. Then he got drunk, or more drunk, and he started to…well, he beat me. He was more out of control than usual. Mycroft tried to step in, for once. It was brave of him, though I've never told him I thought so. Father knocked him out, then smashed the base off the bottle he was holding and proceeded to use that. I don't know much of what happened after that. The blood loss took it out of me. I believe my brother knocked him out with an umbrella. As per usual, our family Doctor, Forthrith, came round to treat me – "
John spluttered. "As per usual?"
Sherlock felt a small, subtle expression of amusement quirk his lips, John was furious. "Don't worry John, I realize it was rather unprofessional of the man. Mycroft got him sent to prison years ago. Well, as you can imagine, things continued in much the same way. Mycroft stayed out of it as best he could, negotiating with what little we had, calling the Doctor when I needed it, letting me out of the cellar when Father let him. Eventually I stopped feeling…not scared. I don't feel scared. But I stopped being…surprised. Started getting angry. Rebelling. That didn't last too long. When I was 10 and a half, Father went further than he ever had. I was given a week in the cellar with three…bowls, of water. This was the point at which, as I've told you, I made the decision to divorce myself from my feelings. Give up my… humanity, the stupid little scraps of sentiment that…were so difficult to control. I kept my mind and my experiments. I found it difficult, tiresome to eat and drink regularly when Father so often upset the balance of my diet as a punishment. I didn't bother controlling the impulse for destruction, to associate myself with chaos, when outside of the Estate, but when Father was nearby, I became adept at playing the son he wanted me to be. This didn't always work, but it served its purpose." Sherlock took a quick breath, relaxing into his chair. For a second he was at a loss as to what to do with his hands, eventually settling for letting them rest by his side.
"Mycroft moved out when he was 18. He'd been putting it off. Could've gone to University from 16, but I don't think he wanted to leave me. Not that he was doing much anyway. Actually, that's unkind. Anyway, the day he left Father knocked me out and locked me in my room. Apparently he faked a note saying I hoped for some sort of reconciliation between us. Still can't believe Mycroft bought that sentiment. Life continued. It got worse. Father had never been like Mummy, nowhere near Mycroft and I in terms of intelligence. But he was clever, and he started using his wits during our little encounters. Playing games. Fire, acid, beltings. One memorable weekend I was forced to travel round the house on my knees, gagged. My hands were tied behind my back, ankles bound. Father took a handful of glass to my feet, took Forthrith ages to get it out. I'd have stayed in my bed except if I tried to he'd kick me, punch me, put out his cigarettes on me….I kept up the façade at school and for Mycroft, my brother knows very little about what happened in the two years after he left. It ended when I was 13, on June the 7th."
He glanced at John when he heard him sit forwards. The doctor cocked his head to the side, watching Sherlock with an expression that was remarkably tender. "What happened?"
Sherlock raised both eyebrows, feeling closer in that moment to his friend than he ever had. "I was going to tell you anyway."
John nodded, smiling a little. "Yeah, I know." His voice was soft and warm, as if behind the detective's cool, sardonic exterior, he could suddenly see the broken, lost little child. He spoke like Sherlock's mother used to when he'd got himself hurt doing something he shouldn't, and she kissed his cheek and told him she'd keep him safe no matter what happened. That she loved him so so much, and that she would always be there, waiting to make him better. Briefly, Sherlock thought about loose, freshly dug soil under his bare hands, cool stone against his skin, and about how much harder it would be to get better by himself. He met John's eyes, and realized quite suddenly that he wouldn't need to any more.
"I've never told anyone this part. Not even Mycroft." He wasn't sure why he wanted John to know, the nerves were there again, and he said the words softly to the fireplace before glancing back at the doctor.
Another nod, another smile. "I didn't think you had."
Sherlock willed himself not to shake as he ran a hand roughly through his hair. "Yes. That day…was not good. The weekend, the one where I'd been on my knees, had happened exactly one month previous. The punishments had been getting worse. They were no longer ostensibly for anything in particular, just…my existence. My life. My being. At school, well you can imagine I was hardly well liked. I was the Freak. A name that wouldn't have bothered me much but Father…sorry, I'm going all over the place. It's…my thoughts aren't very ordered on this. I avoid the files. Keep them in my mental cellar. Anyway. That day I'd been beaten by some of the other pupils. Just the usual, but they did a fair amount more damage than they ought to have because, thanks to Father…I was unable to fight back much. They tore my shirt, saw some of the more recent damage…and suddenly all their anger, and disgust just disappeared. They stopped laughing. They looked at me with…pity. Some left, others wanted to know who'd done it. I didn't reply and they walked away. When I got home, I thought about my mother, and I went to Father's room. I knew he kept a gun in there somewhere...I was tired of living with this. I knew what to do. But…instead of the gun I found a picture of the four of us. I hardly recognized myself. I must have been about four or five, just before everything went wrong. I was smiling so widely…we all were. I tried to mirror the expression but I couldn't…I'd not – in so long – well Mycroft never expected me to smile anyway – I couldn't find the muscles. I sat there, next to the bed, staring into the mirror, trying to smile, and that was how he found me." Sherlock took a deep breath, his whole body was shaking now, memories bursting violently into his mind. He passed a trembling hand over his face, and John stood, coming over, gently touching his shoulder.
"Sherlock, if you can't…look, it's all fine, you know that?"
Sherlock shrugged off his touch, standing suddenly and moving to the window, scratching his head with both hands. The words were here now, and the sounds and the feelings, all the damn feelings. He needed to let this go. "No no it's fine…thank you it's fine. I looked at him and I forgot my act, the act I'd learnt so well. And I asked him…I asked him why she'd ever married him. I asked him how she could have loved a monster like him. I said maybe it was better she was gone, so she didn't have to see this. Didn't have to be hurt like Mycroft and I." Sherlock laughed briefly, though his mouth didn't curve into the necessary smile, so it was more like a cough, a brief broken sound of confusion and self deprecation. "Of course he was angry. Furious, in fact, and as it turned out he'd been drinking. He took the picture away, gently. He didn't need to wrestle it from me. I wasn't…scared, but by then, whenever he was that close, my muscles locked. I just…braced myself. I could do little else. He started with my right arm, dislocating it. Then the left. He wasn't exactly coherent. He punched and kicked and screamed. He stamped on my shin. Ground my fingers under his heel. I became disorientated, by the pain, by how...frantic he was. It was chaos. I didn't know what he'd do next. We'd both broken from our pattern, and now we were in uncharted territory." By now Sherlock was so close to the window that his breath was leaving a faint, spectral mist on the cold glass. He looked out on the city, his city. The street was empty, the thin frost on the rooftops sparkling in the starlight. He clenched his fists and flexed his fingers. He could feel the echoes of the pain now, the horror of confusion, the resignation to his fate.
"I was given enough space to breathe, and realize Father had got out the hunting knife my uncle had given him. I knew what would happen next, but by now both my arms were dislocated, my ankles broken, shin snapped. There was very little I could do in the way of escape. I'd never been stabbed before. Predictably, it was far from a pleasant experience. With each strike…with each one he told me that I was the monster. Freak. Inhuman. A demon. That I'd twisted him. That Mycroft had left me because he didn't want to be infected by my sick nature. That my mother …that she would be glad he'd shown me what I was. That he had her blessing, because, well, because no one had stopped him…" Sherlock swallowed, the words beating through his mind angrily in his father's voice, spitting old venom in time with the remembered pain of his wounds. He clutched his shirt, just above a thick scar in his abdomen. "I don't remember much more…blood loss again. But I do remember when he stopped. I remember clarity rushing back to my mind for a moment as I wondered what he'd do next, I remember the blood rushing from my cuts, feeling like I was being unraveled. I remember him raising his gun, flicking off the safety. I remember pain, and falling unconscious. When I came to, I was in his arms. Everything was...faded…dissolving. But I recall quite distinctly the tears running down my father's face, his hands covered in my blood. I remember him looking at the photograph he'd placed on his desk, and saying 'forgive me.' I don't know who he was speaking to. I imagine it was my mother. It could have been me. He picked up the gun again, and I was too weak, I was dying anyway…but he didn't…he put me down, and stood, and raised…I couldn't take my eyes away…I wanted to. Even after everything I didn't…I couldn't hate him. I didn't want to see that. I didn't…I didn't want to s-see…" Sherlock choked, unable to work the words out of his mouth anymore, no longer sure of what the words even were. He'd lost them in the horror of his memory. He didn't notice the tears rolling down his cheeks. He chose not to.
His shivering broke, became stronger, more sporadic, his body shook with the force of the sobs working their way out of his throat, feeling dusty and stiff after all these years of forcing them back. Sherlock couldn't relax the hold he had on his shirt. He leant his forehead against the window, he shut his eyes, he thought of his mother's grave, and of the earth shattering explosion that severed the thin, worn connection between his mind and his heart.
A warm hand landed on his shoulder, turning him round and bringing him into John's arms, and Sherlock ignored the embarrassment and the pride inside him flinching uneasily away from the scene, and let the man pull him into a gentle embrace, gently stroking his hair and murmuring pointless, soft reassurances.
A few moments were all it took. Sherlock had been waiting for them for 19 years. He sniffed, taking out a handkerchief and cleaning himself up, clearing his throat. "Excuse me John. I, ah, I don't know what came over me…you haven't taken any pictures have you?"
John couldn't help a chuckle at that. "No, that's Lestrade. I don't stoop that low." Sherlock raised an eyebrow and John grinned, in spite of the handful of tears that had made their own way down his cheeks at seeing his friend fall apart quite so entirely. "Well, not often. God you stupid, brilliant man." Sherlock rolled his eyes, but there was small, shy smile on his lips, and John was used to the genius and his quirks by now. Biting the inside of his cheek, he straightened, and, on an impulse, grabbed Sherlock's hand in both of his, tracing the fine, beautiful shape of the thing. He was gratified when Sherlock didn't pull away, and looked up into the man's beautiful, pale, otherworldly face. John couldn't see the freak, or the monster. He never had. Just…a kind of broken rebel angel, unable to get away from the kindness in his heart, no matter how hard he tried.
"Look, Sherlock…what your father did," Sherlock huffed out an embarrassed, impatient sigh, looking away, though he still didn't withdraw his hand. John took this as all the encouragement he needed and more. " What your father did was wrong…I mean, just so wrong in so many ways. And he was wrong, alright? You're not a freak, or a monster or a demon. You didn't deserve what happened. And you're so, so brave to have gotten through it." Sherlock snorted a little, and John shrugged. "Yeah, so you've strayed from the path once or twice. But Christ Sherlock, that's no worse and far better than the way most people could have done. Better than me I reckon." Another faint huff of disbelief, Sherlock turning to John with his lovely storm-sea-silver eyes warm and soft, opening his mouth to contradict the man. John shook his head. "No, you're going to let me finish. Mycroft loves you…I mean, blimey, if I hadn't seen it, I'd question if the man was even capable of that, but he does. I mean seriously, no one else would put up with you as much and for as long as he has and continues to do if they didn't."
This time Sherlock did manage to butt in, his smooth brow creased in confusion as he tilted his head to the side, smirking a little in hesitant triumph. "You do."
John sighed, staring down at Sherlock's lovely hand, tracing the length of his fingers, brushing tiny little scars and marks. Affection flooded his body. "Whoever said I didn't love you?" He leaned forwards, giving Sherlock a brief kiss on the cheek, squeezing his hand before releasing it, standing back and to attention, meeting his friend's stunned, nervous gaze.
"Sherlock Holmes, in case my repeated counts of trying to die for you hadn't informed you of the fact. In case my putting up with you, and my supporting you, and my acceptance of the body parts you insist on keeping in the fridge didn't clue you in, let me make this perfectly clear. You are one of the most important people in my life. You are the best man I know, and I can't stand the idea of you being hurt. Life without you doesn't bear thinking about, and you have a not insignificant portion of my heart. Just, for God's sake, refrain from experimenting on it."
John laughed, and Sherlock laughed, and though he wanted another embrace, just to make sure Sherlock was all there and alright, John settled for a warm pat on the other man's shoulder before resuming his seat and switching on the telly.
Sherlock paused for a second, still feeling John's touches, warm and soft and safe. He glanced into the window, catching his reflection in the middle of the dark night. A smile, happy and silly and wide and easy, stretched slowly across his face, as if it had never gone. Gingerly, he brought a hand to his lips, an old photograph imprinted on his thoughts. Chuckling to himself, Sherlock let one more tear subtle tear roll silently down his cheek.
It was over.
I hope I 'did it justice', I was a bit worried! This is the way it ends in my head though, hope you liked it.
Thank you for reading,