Summary: When in 1910 the Holmes Corporation found itself without an obvious male heir ready to take over, the Holmes family did the only thing they could: offer their youngest son, Sherlock, for marriage. In accordance with the times, they had to send him through a rigorous and demeaning process called feminization, to make it socially acceptable for him to marry a man. It was in hopes that Sherlock's husband could take over the company while their eldest son, Mycroft, was groomed into something resembling a decent CEO. Who they found was James Moriarty, youngest son of a firearms manufacturer and certainly qualified to take the Holmes Corporation under his wig.
While on a steamship taking him and his fiancé to America to be married, Sherlock met a man named John Watson. Over the period of five days, their lives were irreversibly entangled. But this was not the typical love story; the ship they were on was the RMS Titanic. From the moment it set off from Southampton on April 10th, 1912, the great ship was fated for destruction.
Eighty-five years later, an elderly and dying Sherlock Holmes tells his story to a research and salvage team recovering artifacts from the wreck of the ship upon which his life changed.
Warnings: Swearing, violence, future adult themes
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, one-sided Jim Moriarty/Sherlock Holmes
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock. The contemporary versions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's characters belong to Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and their associates. The plot of Titanic belongs to James Cameron and his associates. The only thing I own is the story below as you see it written.
Prologue: Eye of the Sea
The television is nothing but noise for noise's sake, these days. Grandfather can't really watch it, unless he gets right in front of it and has his glasses on, but that's bad for his eyes so she doesn't let him do that too often. She can't help but wonder if he's using it as a substitute radio, since those were rendered obsolete about twenty years ago, and the old antique radio Grandfather owned was broken a few years ago by one of the younger great-grandchildren. There were six of them, on Penny's last count, but she's not sure. Her cousins don't keep well in touch and she doesn't much bother to keep in touch with them either. In all likelihood, one of them has popped out another kid since she last talked to them.
For all she knows, one of her cousins' children has had a child by now. There are several that are certainly old enough for it. Being the youngest child of the youngest child means that several of her cousins' children are almost as old as her. But she wouldn't know, because as much as her cousins do not speak to her, their children do not either.
At least she has an excuse to drop out of touch, she tells herself. Her days mostly consist of going to university in the morning, dropping home to feed the cat, and then hurrying over here in the afternoon to give Grandfather his lunch and make sure he hasn't fallen down the stairs. He's by far the sturdiest man over one-hundred she's ever met, but the fact still remains that he turned 101 in January, and men of that age are not nearly as in possession of their facilities as a man twenty years their junior. That's saying something, considering when you're as old as her grandfather is, a man twenty years your junior is in his eighties.
Grandfather is in the study, trying to read and getting frustrated, muttering about his damned trifocals and how they don't work at all. As Penny gives him his post-lunch cuppa, he grumbles that he used to have perfect vision, twenty-twenty, and he had it until he turned ninety. That, Penny's mental timeline supplies for her, was around the time he also started exhibiting signs of dementia and had a stroke. She wonders if he remembers that, today.
Her mother, whom is the youngest of her siblings by far (There was her, Mary, born in 1940; Uncle Emmet, born in 1927; Uncle Graham, born in 1921; and the first child whom was stillborn in 1918 and never given a name), took care of her father since Penny could remember. He was already so old when Penny was born, and some of her earliest memories are coming to visit Grandfather in his small, strange flat in the middle of London, which he eventually left when Penny was about ten and he was about ninety. The summer Penny turned twelve, her mother sat her down and told her that they were going to go live with Grandfather for a little while, just a little while, hardly long enough to miss London. Penny's brothers were both older and in University by then. It didn't affect them as much.
She protested as much as she could. No, I don't want to live with Grandfather. His house smells weird and he's weird and he doesn't like me, Mummy, don't make me.
Her mother just sighed, her face becoming drawn. Penny was too young to realize it at the time, but her mother was getting old, too. She was almost fifty by then.
Grandfather loves you, Penny. Please, love; it's just for the summer. We'll be back in London in time for the new term.
Penny grumbled that they had better.
They weren't. Grandfather had a stroke mid-August and was in the hospital until the end of the year. Mum enrolled her in a school in Sussex, just for temporary she claimed, and every day they went and visited Grandfather, whom was tied to tubes and beeping machines and looked oddly small.
Mum told her that Grandfather might not make it till Christmas.
He lived, though. He came home in mid-January, right around his ninety-first birthday. Things got back to normal, then, but Penny and her mum never did get around to going back to London. There was only her mum to take care of Grandfather, really. Both of mum's brothers were way too old, themselves, and were being looked after by their own children by now, or their wives. Penny had never met her Grandma. She died of tuberculosis in the forties. Her name was Molly; Penny's middle name.
When Penny graduated, she offered to take up the care of Grandfather. Mum was so tired, all the time, and she was so near sixty. She didn't have a lot of active, quality life left. Penny told her mum to go somewhere for the summer, France or Italy or even Greece, and relax. Her mum hadn't, of course, but she at least allowed Penny to take over the job of primary caregiver for Grandfather.
Two years later, and Penny has learned some things. Most importantly, her grandfather is not a cruel man. She grew up in fear of him; of his calculating stares and his prodding questions and his ever-so-constant declarations of You can do better than that, Penelope. You're a Holmes. Act like one.
(He never explained why he said Holmes when, as far as she knew, Grandfather was a Watson.)
However, she's realized that he loves them, she and her mum and her uncles and everyone, more than he can ever say. Quite literally, he has never said it. But there is love, of a tough kind, behind every disapproving stare and irritated sigh and mutter of don't be daft. They aren't rejection. They are him trying to better them. He never raised a hand to any of his children, and only raised his voice when absolutely necessary.
He told her once that he's only ever told one person aside from his mother that he loves them, and that person is long dead. She's always assumed it was her grandmother.
She can understand it, to a certain extent. He grew up in a wealthy family, so her mother says, and in a time where being a man in Britain meant leaving emotions unsaid and showing affection in actions. Stiff upper lip, no frivolities. It was the time of working to prove your love, and he worked himself raw. Worked tirelessly to provide for his family.
Her grandfather was once one of the greatest detectives London ever knew. Still is, probably, although his name has been lost to the history books. There have been countless people wanting to write his biography, tell of his adventures. The name Sherlock Watson used to be akin to that of a celebrity. People came to crime scenes just to get a glimpse of him.
Sometimes, Penny thinks he forgets he's 101 years old. Sometimes he sits there and mutters to himself, talking about things that just don't make sense. Sometimes he gets up and calls into the kitchen, where there is no one, that he's going to pop down to Scotland Yard to have a chat with Gregson. It's these times that scare her the most, because when she comes rushing into the room, sits him back down, says, "Grandfather, don't," he glares at her and calls her Molly and tells her not to make a fuss, that he'll be fine, he'll just be gone twenty minutes.
Sometimes she worries that he'll do that in the morning, when she's not there, while she's at school. He'll walk out the door and become disoriented, because Sussex doesn't look like London at all, and yes he may have altered perceptions due to dementia, but he's not hallucinating. He can tell the difference between Sussex and London.
She fears that he'll walk out of the house one day and forget how to get home.
It's the worst, though, when he sits there and talks to John. She does not know who John is, nor do her mother or uncles. John is a complete mystery to everybody but Grandfather. All Penny knows is that John must have been in her Grandfather's life before even Grandmother because when she tries to speak with him, he has no idea whatsoever of who she is. He doesn't call her Molly, he doesn't call her Mary. He just stares at her and demands to know what she's doing in his flat.
They're frustrating days, the John Days.
When he's lucid, which is less and less often, he refuses to talk about them.
Today is not a John Day, or even a Scotland Yard Day. Today he's sitting very quietly in the study, aside from the continued mutterings about his glasses, and he seems to know where he is and how old he is and who Penny is, so she's grateful. She had an hour-long argument with him yesterday because Grandfather thought she was her mother, and kept demanding to know where 'the baby' (Her, perhaps?) was. Kept threatening to ring her neck if she'd left 'the baby' with that 'thrice-damned cretin of a husband.'
Another thing she has learned from spending so much time around Grandfather and his confusion is he never liked Penny's father, David Anderson, even before he and her mother divorced when Penny was five. Penny spent a single summer with him, up in Glasgow where he relocated after the divorce, when she was sixteen. Nothing about him seemed objectionable. Then again, she barely knew the man, and their getting-to-know-you process was severely handicapped by the fact that he seemed to still think she was the five-year-old kid he left behind. Penny left for her last year of school feeling oddly disappointed, despite her general lack of expectations when she decided to visit him.
They kept in touch for about two months, usually via short emails, until one day Penny read his email and decided not to reply. They haven't talked since Penny was eighteen.
Penny's always kind of wondered if Grandfather disliked her father for what he didn't do, rather than what he'd done. David Anderson was a very unremarkable man, as far as Penny could tell, aside from however much intelligence it took to get a Doctorate. He was a Pleb, as far as Penny could tell, and Grandfather hated Plebs.
In the present, in her grandfather's house, it is a comparatively calm day. The television is still blaring, though, so Penny wanders over to turn it off. Without looking up, Grandfather mutters, "What are you doing?"
"Turning off the television, grandfather. It's not good for your eyes."
"Am I watching it, Penelope?"
He glances up over his spectacles, raising an eyebrow. Penny was not fortunate enough to have inherited his eyes, but her mother had. She thinks they're beautiful, and in her grandfather she can read his intelligence and his zest for life. It's dimmed over the years, which scares her, but his eyes are the part him that hold the most warmth; that say the things he can't say.
"Then turn it back on, girl." His voice, as usual, does not raise, but takes on that hard, commanding tone that she has no doubt had the Police Constables quaking in their boots back when he worked with Scotland Yard. She jumps and flicks the television back on, retreating to the kitchen like an injured dog to lick its wounds. She puts away the remains of what had been lunch and wipes down the counter, after which time she deems it safe to wander back in the living room, where Grandfather has flipped the channel. It's on BBC now; World News. Grandfather has never gotten used to there being more than six channels on television, and so mostly switches between the ones he's used to.
"Grandfather?" Penny mutters, feeling meek. Her mother tells her that she's a lot like Molly, her grandmother, but Penny will never know if that's accurate because she never knew her grandmother, and Grandfather never talks about her. She thinks it may be a sore spot, for him. Mum always says that Grandfather lost his best friend the day Grandmother died. When Penny was little, she used to say Silly mummy, wives are way more important than best friends. Her mother would smile, strained, and tell her than sometimes they could be the same person.
"Hmm?" He's got his eyes closed, his hands folded as if in prayer. He's done this for as long as Penny can remember. Penny has never been able to figure out whether he does it to aid in thinking, or to do the exact opposite.
"Do you…need anything?"
Grandfather's eyes open and he sighs, pats the arm of his chair. She eases her way over, around the clutter—Grandfather has never kept a clean house and, Penny suspects, never will—and sits down on the arm, tucking her stocking-clad feet between his thigh and the arm. He wraps his arm, thin but warm, around her waist and scoots over, making room for her to slide down the arm so they're half-sharing the chair.
There is silence for a few moments, before Grandfather murmurs, "I don't mean to snap."
"I just…I get frustrated, Penelope. You think I don't know what's happening to me, but I do. I do and there's nothing I can do to stop it. And I'm no longer a young man. I haven't been for half my life, now. It hurts. Everything hurts these days, Penelope." He's the only person that calls her Penelope. Secretly, she likes the longer version more than the childhood diminutive she never quite managed to grow out of.
"Do you need some Tylenol?"
He chuckles. It's deep and rich, and it's kind of like a really nice cup of cocoa. "It's not that simple. People aren't made to live for as long as I have; it's as simple as that. These aches and pains are more than any over-the-counter painkiller than quench, unfortunately. They're bone-deep. They're from age and weariness. Of watching people die around me for over a century. Of letting go of dreams."
Penny pillows her head on his shoulder. "But you lived your dream, Grandfather. World's only Consulting Detective, right?"
"You're silly to think that was my only dream, dear."
She doesn't say anything, just purses her lips and tries not to bristle at being called silly. To her surprise, he chuckles again and rubs at her back.
"You're just like her, you know? Your grandmother. I miss that woman." He sighs. "She kept me sane, you know. She was seventeen when I met her, and I twenty-three. She became a nurse. She could have been a doctor, if the times were different. She was smart. It's too bad I never loved her how she deserved."
"I'm sure you loved her enough. You were married, and you had three children."
"Four. We had four. The first one was stillborn. I'll never forget how she cried over that." He rests his temple against her forehead, and like the child she hasn't been for years, she picks at a loose thread on his cardigan. It's rare that he talks to her like this, and she can't figure out why he's talking about Grandmother, when he's never been forthcoming with information about her before. As though he can read her mind, he says, "I'm old, Penelope. Very, very old. I won't live much longer."
"Grandfather, don't talk like that."
"I'm over one-hundred, child. I've lived enough life for two men; do you really think I have much left in me? I've had more than my fair share, and it's time to start thinking about dying." He says it like mum used to say we should think about heading home and it makes tears prickle behind her eyes.
"You can't just think about dying and then do it, Grandfather. That's not how things work."
"You really don't think so?" He chuckles, making her hair flip lazily as the air from his nostrils catches it. "You're so young, Penelope. You've so much to learn. I know it's hard for you to understand, but I've lived a long, full life. I'm not going to die tomorrow. At least, not as far as I know. But soon. I can feel it. It's like a heaviness in your bones. You get tired of the world, Penelope. You can't know what it feels like, and I hope you don't for a long time, but when you get to be as old as me…You start to figure well, it's time to be carrying on. You can't stay in one place for too long. Don't think of it as leaving, Penelope, except in the most literal meaning."
"Death is but the next great adventure."
"Quite right. You got that from somewhere, didn't you? Mmm. I've never been good at popular culture references." He sighs. "Besides, I have people to catch up to, where I'm going. I think they've been waiting for me long enough."
"She's among them, yes." He's quiet, contemplative. Penny glances at the television and sees they're doing a story on some injured footballer. She wonders why that's international news. She's pretty sure no one else in the world cares that the star of the Man U team has pulled his Achilles'. The story is almost over when Grandfather says, "I loved your grandmother. She was my best friend; we shared our lives and raised our children in perfect tandem. But I fear I was never in love with her. She was the mother of my children, yet my feelings for her were almost fraternal. Is that disturbing?"
"A bit. But I understand what you mean."
"You can only have one great love in your life, Penelope. And I met that person when I was very young, and they died long before I met your grandmother. Unfortunately, I found great obsession in my work and I fear I may have neglected her while she was alive."
Penny isn't quite sure she knows what he means by that.
"What is the television saying?"
Penny glances at it and sees the footballer story is over. It takes her a second to comprehend what the story is about, because for a long moment all that is onscreen is a very solemn underwater shot of a algae-covered shipwreck. Then she reads the text, scrolling along the bottom of the screen. Team in Atlantic attempts to salvage Titanic artifacts for 85th anniversary.
"Something about the Titanic. Not sure. They're doing something." She huffs irritably and gets up, intending to turn it off. "I really wonder why they can't let people rest in peace, you know? They've always got to barge in places, dig up stuff. I mean, honestly, don't they understand how many graves they're trampling over looking for…what, looking for artifacts? Anything that's been under the ocean that long is pulp." She knows she's babbling, but their conversation made her uncomfortable, and she's prone to babbling when she's uncomfortable.
"Don't turn it off. Turn it up."
Penny's hand changes direction from the power button to the volume control. She would have argued, but Grandfather sounded urgent. It isn't wise to refuse him when he sounds like that.
"…Mister Dimmock, some people are calling you a grave-robber. Any response to these accusations?"
The smirking face of the head of the exhibition, a man named Daniel Dimmock, is on television now. His brown hair is whipping in the wind. He appears to be standing on the deck of a ship, obviously the base of the entire operation. There is a long pause between the anchor's question and his reply, most likely because of a shaky long-distance wire connection.
"Well, no one ever called the recovery of the artifacts from King Tut's tomb grave robbery, did they? And my team is taking extraordinary measures to make sure these artifacts are being treated with the utmost care and respect. Look at this picture we found just today." He moves, and the camera pans with him. He directs its attention to a tub of what Penny can only assume is saline, where a piece of parchment lay. A pencil (Or perhaps charcoal; she isn't an artist by any means) drawing of a man. It makes Penny blush horribly, because the man is naked except for a small smile and a chain around his neck. A violin wedged between his shoulder and chin complete the picture, and he seems to be caught in the middle of a movement, stroking the bow across the strings. Penny can practically hear the music. Grandfather used to play before his hands became too arthritic.
"Uhm…Grandfather…" Penny scratches the back of her neck, trying to avoid looking at the picture. It's a little bit embarrassing, staring at that picture with her grandfather in the room.
"Penelope. Get me the phone."
"The phone, Penelope! And the phonebook; I need this broadcasting station's phone number."
Anthony Lestrade is not having a good year.
It started in February, when he was approached by a man calling himself Dimmock. The meeting took place outside of his apartment and lasted less than five minutes. All that was said was: "The name's Daniel Isaac Dimmock, DI for short. You're Anthony Lestrade, top of your class at MIT. Degree in mechanics with a focus on robotics. You want a job? Show up here Wednesday, that's next Wednesday."
Anthony spent a long time going back and forth about it, wondering whether he really should show up somewhere completely random on instructions from a stranger. However, he couldn't afford to be choosey about these things; he was just out of college, and had no job to speak of. The fact that the man seemed to know who he was seemed to speak to the fact that it wasn't a random attack. He told himself the man wouldn't have bothered learning so much about him if it was.
Besides, the meeting was to take place in one of the MIT buildings. A school building is an odd place for a murder or rape.
As it turned out, it was the first meeting of an expedition team that, at the time, had a total of five people. Dimmock, three of his friends, and Anthony. They wanted to know whether or not Anthony knew how to operate a ROV which, yeah, he could do. But for what, he wanted to know? Turned out, the name Titanic came into the mix, which is where Anthony became wary. His great-grandfather, Gregory Lestrade, died on that ship, and his entire family went up in arms when the wreck was found.
"Let sleeping dogs lie," his mother likes to say, and Anthony agrees with her.
He was especially wary when they told him it was an expedition; one to salvage artifacts for several museums, who wanted to put them on display next year in time for the 85th anniversary. Dimmock turned out to be a historian whom had come to the university hoping to gather a team of new graduates looking for work. Anthony, it seemed, was the first.
Anthony wasn't exactly happy with the plan, but he couldn't turn down a job like that. He called his mom and they argued fiercely over it, her asking him to think about his grandfather and how he would react to it. Calmly, Anthony explained that it was the first chance for work that had come for him since graduation, and he'd be stupid not to take it. She accused him of being a grave robber, setting off to pillage his own ancestor's final resting place, and hung up. They made up a few weeks later, but it hasn't kept Anthony from feeling the ball of dread in his stomach.
A team was gathered remarkably quickly, and they set off at the beginning of June. Icebergs aren't nearly as much of a problem in modern times, but a summer voyage was still preferable by all. No one wanted to end up at the bottom of the ocean beside Titanic when it was all said and done.
It was only once they'd set off that Anthony became aware of the real reason they were setting out to investigate the site. It started when DI called him into his stateroom and sat him down, then held up a picture. A necklace; a large, blue pendant hanging from a delicate chain. There would have been nothing remarkable about it had Anthony not realized it wasn't some gaudy piece of costume jewelry; it was the real deal.
"Have you ever seen this before? And don't say it's the Hope Diamond, because it's not. They're similar but this one is far older, and far more valuable."
"Uh…in that case, no. I'm a robotics engineer, DI, not an archeologist." He raised a disapproving eyebrow and crossed his arms, expecting an explanation promptly. Despite the fact that he was twenty-two, lanky, and all six-foot-two, redheaded inches of him only weighed about one-fifty when sopping wet, he still towered over DI, and could pull off 'intimidating' pretty well.
DI sighed. "The diamond belonged to Louis the Sixteenth. When France fell and Louis lost it all, including his head, the diamond disappeared. Rumor has it, they cut it down, into the oval shape it's in now, and put it on a chain. They called it the Eye of the Sea. See how it's almost black in the middle? Yeah. It's invaluable. Today it would be worth more that the Hope Diamond and the Crown Jewels combined."
Again, Anthony's eyebrows quirked, this time inquiringly. "So? What does that have to do with anything?"
"I tracked the diamond through insurance records. Turns out, it ended up in the hands of a guy named Moriarty. James Moriarty, who gave it to his fiancé, Sherlock Holmes, as an engagement gift. You following?" At Anthony's nod, Dimmock continued, "Moriarty was the heir to some kind of firearms company; the British Winchester, as it were. He had money plus, and somehow the diamond got mixed into his father's assets, only to be given to James by the old man when he managed to get his hands on the honey pot of the Holmes family, Sherlock.
"What Daddy didn't know that James did was that the Holmes family was facing a really tough financial situation, and had no real male head. Sigur Holmes was majorly depressed, had been his whole life, and ended up putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger in 1910. It caused a major fallout within their company, which mostly produced medical and laboratory supplies. Mycroft, the older son, was only twenty-four at the time, and not ready to take the entire Holmes Corporation under his wing. Besides, the kid was basically shit at business. He was a politician."
"Mycroft Holmes? The Prime Minister?"
"He was on the Titanic, wasn't he?" Mycroft Holmes was a very prominent figure in British history, somewhere among the ranks of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. You couldn't watch a biography on him without it at least mentioning that he was a Titanic survivor.
"Yes. Along with his mother, Violet Holmes, and his younger brother, Sherlock. James' fiancé. Now, it wasn't all that rare back then for prominent families encountering hard times to marry off their children. The Holmeses didn't have any girls, but they did have Sherlock, whom was seventeen and considered groomable."
"As in, they figured they could give their youngest son up to be turned into some kind of submissive pseudo-housewife. They called it feminization. In return, they got Moriarty's money and his financial security. Sherlock was old enough to be considered available, but young enough to be feminized and besides; he was the youngest son. They were practically as worthless as daughters, back then."
"Dimmock! These are people you're talking about; and dead people, too! Have some respect!"
"That's how it was, Anthony! I'm just speaking fact. It's disturbing, yeah, but it's how things worked back then, alright? Things were way different. Anyway, I think the necklace must have been part of the feminization. A kind of, wear it and remember who you belong to thing. But the thing is, Sherlock Holmes died on Titanic. And when Moriarty got off Carpathia, he didn't have the necklace with him. If he had, it could have gotten him out of a lot of trouble. He lost everything in the stock market crash and he ended up doing the same thing as Sigur Holmes. He ate a pistol in 1932."
Anthony stared at him, still trying to figure out why Dimmock was telling it all to him. Then his eyes widened as realization sunk in. The man was no fucking historian; he was a goddamned treasure-hunter! He'd come on this trip to violate the dead for a gemstone. Anger flared within him and fists formed at his sides. "DI. This damned necklace better not be the only reason we're doing all of this."
"No, it's not the only reason. It's just the major contributing factor. The donations of a lot of partners are hinging on us finding this necklace, or else proving that it's been lost. Problem is there are two dozen places it could be, including around the neck of the dead Sherlock Holmes, who by now would be part of the sand at the bottom of the sea floor. But, it could also be in Holmes' stateroom, Moriarty's stateroom, the cargo hold. Lots of places. We're still on an archeological mission, but we need to focus on this."
"I don't like this, DI. I don't like this at all."
"I know, kid, and I shoulda told you sooner. But I needed you and, to be honest, you're too good of a person. I knew you wouldn't do it if I told you what we had to do."
Anthony sighed, sitting down in Dimmock's office chair and rubbing his face. "This is…too much, Dimmock. You realize that you lured me here on false pretenses and, theoretically, I could sue the fuck out of you, right?" He glanced up, his brown eyes meeting Dimmock's navy blue. He didn't look nearly as apologetic as Anthony would have liked. "But you're right. I'm too good of a person. It's at times like these I wish I wasn't." He sat back, crossing his arms as DI sat on the desk, letting the photograph flutter onto a pile of papers on the floor. Anthony stroked his lower lip, squeezing it between his fingers unconsciously as he thought. "Let's say we didn't look for it. I mean, if we did, we could be here months. We don't have supplies for months of excavation. Say we just told them we looked all the possible places and didn't see it."
"I wish we could. But the partners are thorough. They've sent people along with us."
So here they are: the middle of July and DI's freaking out because they still haven't found the Eye of the Sea. They checked the last likely place, Moriarty's stateroom, and found the safe. The necklace was not in the safe. All that was there were several handfuls of sodden pulp that had at one time been paper bills, and a parchment sketchbook. Anthony's considering banging his head on one of the monitors trained on the tub of saline water where the sketchbook is being cleaned.
They're never going to find the God-forsaken necklace.
Dimmock looks up from the blueprints he's poring over, Titanic's blue prints, and squints at Anthony. After the hour they spent under the ocean earlier, his eyes are slow to adjust to the intense light of the examination room. "What?"
"Listen to me. We. Aren't. Going. To. Find. It. It's a needle in a hay stack. We've looked everywhere. Unless we comb the sand, we're never going to get hold of it."
"You don't think I've realized that?" hisses DI. He stands up and glares at Anthony, whom stands his ground. "I'm not an idiot, Anthony. But we've got to at least look like we're doing something. These people the partners sent along are practically spies, Anthony. We have no way of knowing what they know, and if we give up now all of our funds are going to be retracted, and we're not gonna get paid!"
"Don't you think this has gone far enough, Dimmock?" He speaks quietly. The walls have ears.
DI doesn't get a chance to answer, because at that moment he happens to look down at the monitor against which Anthony is leaning. They're cleaning one of the drawings from the parchment sketchbook, and as the muck washes off, it reveals the delicate features of a man. It's not his face DI is focusing on, Anthony can tell. He can tell because he's pretty sure they're staring at the same thing. The oval pendant resting on the man's clavicle.
"That's Sherlock Holmes," whispers DI. "I have seen pictures and that has got to be…Sherlock Holmes…" He looks over at the research technician who is gently, tediously clearing the picture of the grime it's accumulated during eighty-four years at the bottom of the ocean, and says, "Clean off the bottom right corner. I want to see if there's a date."
The technician, Anthony things her name is Bianca or Brianna, obliges, clearing the mud from the proffered edge, and lifts it slightly out of the water for DI's perusal. From the historian's expression, Anthony knows he's found something.
In the bottom right-hand corner are two scrawlings; the messy signature of the artist, a J and something that might be a W, and yes, there's a date: 4/14/12.
"Titanic sunk just after midnight on April fifteenth," DI says, as though Anthony and everyone else on the ship don't know that. "That means this drawing was done the same day Titanic hit the iceberg. Holmes was wearing the necklace when the ship sunk."
Anthony honestly doesn't know whether that's good or bad.
They have an interview with BBC at two, and then DI disappears, leaving Anthony to speculate and ponder the recent events on his own. He's looking over one of the ROVs, making sure everything is in working order, when a research assistant appears at his elbow and presents him with the phone. Anthony thanks him, thinking it must be one of the onshore preservationists with a question about a certain artifact. Instead, on the other end is the voice of a man that certainly is too old to be working in the lab in Newfoundland.
"This is Anthony Lestrade."
"Hello, Mister Lestrade. My name is Watson. I have a few questions about one of the artifacts you uncovered today. Specifically the drawing."
"Do you know who the man in the picture is, Mister Lestrade?"
It's almost out of Anthony's mouth to say Of course, it's Sherlock Holmes. However, they don't have confirmation yet and it will be several days before Dimmock can have the proper photographs airlifted here. For some stupid reason, the man didn't think to bring them with him. In order to save their necks incase the drawing turns out to not be of Sherlock Holmes, he says, "Uh…well, Mister Watson, we have our theories. Do you believe you know who the drawing is of?"
"I, too, have my theories, Mister Lestrade." The tone is almost teasing, and it's the first time on this whole expedition that Anthony has allowed himself to hope. This man knows something; Anthony knows it like he knows the sky is blue. Agonized, he waits for Watson to continue speaking. "I was wondering. Have you found the Eye of the Sea?"
"I…Mister Watson, how do you…?"
"I think it would be more beneficial to your particular cause if I informed you that my legal name is Holmes. Sherlock Holmes. The man in your drawing is me, Mister Lestrade."
"Absolutely im-fucking-possible. Sherlock Holmes died on Titanic when he was seventeen. There's no way he's alive; there's no record of him ever arriving in New York, and Moriarty himself said that he never saw Holmes again. Your man's a goddamned liar."
"I know, it doesn't seem possible, but he knows, DI. I don't know how, but he does! Look, the only people that know about the Eye of the Sea are supposed to be on this ship, or in the lab in Newfoundland, right? Or one of the God-forsaken sponsors. But this is an old man living in Sussex; I really doubt he would have any of this information if he didn't have first-hand experience."
"No, Anthony, you can't believe this guy. His name is Sherlock Watson. Does that ring any bells? It might not to you, but back in the thirties and forties the guy was huge in London. He was a detective; the best in the world, people called him. God only knows what the guy learned when he was snooping in other people's business all those years. I don't care what you say, Anthony, it can't be him. Sherlock Holmes would be over a hundred by now, if he was alive.
"He turned 101 in January, he says."
"Okay, so he's really fucking old. But that doesn't change the fact that he's a goddamned liar."
"But Dimmock! Why would he lie? He's got no reason to. Think about it. He wouldn't get anything out of it. It's not like we're offering a reward or anything, or that he'll get any sort of recognition out of it. If he really is Sherlock Holmes, it won't matter. The Holmes Corporation died years ago, Mycroft Holmes is long dead; so is James Moriarty. There's literally no one alive who would care if Sherlock Holmes came back from the dead."
"Dammit, Anthony, don't look at me like that."
"Oh fine, for God's sake, bring him in! But the travel expenses are coming out of your final paycheck, Lestrade. When this guy turns out to be some insane old coot, don't say I didn't warn you."
They have to fly to Halifax, then catch a helicopter to the site where the ship, the USS Doyle, is anchored above the Titanic wreck. Penny was very reluctant at first, and roped her mother into helping her convince Grandfather not to go, but he was determined. He would survive the trip, he said, if customs didn't haggle him too much and the ride wasn't too bumpy. Penny was not so sure either of those requirements would be fulfilled, and told Grandfather so several times, but he just kept saying, "Life is nothing without a litter danger, my dear."
So they went. The helicopter is loud and not the most pleasant thing, but the ride is only an hour. The Doyle appears in the windshield, and Penny starts to bundle Grandfather up, wrapping his old, charcoal grey great coat around him and settling his suitcase in his lap. He's traveled light; he always does. They'll only be here for a few days. Long enough for Grandfather to tell his story to the excavation crew and look at a few artifacts for him.
It bothers her that she never knew he was a Titanic survivor until they by chance saw that news program. The fact that Grandfather may have died without telling anyone his story bothers her even more. She's not sure why he decided to keep it from everyone. She doesn't even know what the story is, because he refused to tell her before they got to the ship.
The entire situation is utterly befuddling.
They touch down on the deck of the Doyle, Penny hopping out first with the assistance of one of the crewmen on the chopper. There are two men waiting for them on deck. One is brunette, about her height. She recognizes him as Dimmock, the man who did the television interview the day she and Grandfather saw the story. The other is taller and ginger. He's American too, if his accent is anything to go by, and he introduces himself as Lestrade; Anthony Lestrade.
The one condition upon which Grandfather's trip to the ship hinges on is the requirement that he go in his wheelchair. If Mum is to be believed, Grandfather has not been on a boat in her living memory, which probably means Grandfather hasn't been on a boat since 1912. She doesn't like the idea of a 101-year-old man having to gather his sealegs, and so demanded he stay in his wheelchair, at least until they get inside and here's less of a risk of him falling off the side of the boat.
Grandfather called her worries silly, but she stood firm until he relented and agreed to her condition.
Thus, the four crewmembers lower Grandfather and his one, miniscule suitcase onto the deck. Grandfather gripes the whole way, back straight and arms crossed to show just how not crippled he is. Penny rolls her eyes and shoos the crewmember holding the handles of Grandfather's chair away, saying she is more than capable of pushing him. As the chopper shuts down and the noise decreases, Dimmock introduces himself to Grandfather and begins to lead them inside.
"We're very glad you could come, Mister Holmes. Er. Watson."
"Call me Sherlock, Mister Dimmock."
"Um. Okay. Your staterooms are this way."
It doesn't take them long at all to get settled, and half an hour later Anthony Lestrade appears in the doorway to Grandfather's stateroom. He leans against the doorway, smiling at Penny. Lestrade is not an unattractive man, and so she blushes and looks down.
"Are you finding your staterooms comfortable?"
"Oh yes. The accommodations are very nice." Grandfather, true to form, doesn't even grace Lestrade with eye contact as he continues to stare out the porthole behind Penny's head. He gestures to her. "This is my granddaughter and caretaker, Penelope Watson."
"Anderson, Grandfather. My last name is Anderson."
Grandfather sighs and grits his teeth. "I begged your mother to change your last name. Pleaded with her."
Penny sighs and glances back at Anthony. "We, uh, met back on deck. But hi, again."
Anthony smiles. "Hi, Penelope. Penelope? Do you go by Penny, or…?"
"You can call me that…if you want. My friends do."
"What about you? Are you, ah, Tony?"
"Uh, nah. No. Just call me Anthony."
"Are you two done flirting?" Grandfather is looking towards him now, giving Anthony an investigatory once-over that Penny recognizes all too well from when she was in high school. It's the look that sent most of her adolescent boyfriends running for the hills. For his part, Anthony shuffles awkwardly and gains a red flush to his neck. She's not sure whether she should be embarrassed or angry. She settles on a mixture of both.
"Grandfather! I am not."
For the first time in a while, Grandfather smirks and Penny realizes he was kidding. It's so hard to tell with Grandfather, especially since his humor is so deadpan and he hardly ever uses it. Nevertheless, Penny is a little less angry and the tension in the room lifts. Penny can see Anthony's shoulders straighten when it does. Suddenly going a bit soft, Grandfather murmurs, "Lestrade. Related to Gregory Lestrade?"
Anthony's eyes widen. His eyes are huge and brown, like that of a puppy's. "Yes. He was my great-grandfather. He died on Titanic. Did you…know him?"
Solemnly, Grandfather nods. "Yes, I did. Your grandfather was a good man, Anthony. I daresay I owe him my life."
For a moment, Anthony is very quiet, taking it all in. Penny can only imagine what's going through his mind: that her Grandfather has literally met one of his ancestors has got to be a lot to process. Eventually, he says, "Thank you. I'll…tell my parents that. They'll be really grateful." Awkwardly, he scratches the back of his neck and mumbles, "Is there…something I can get for you?"
Grandfather nods. "Yes. I would like to see my drawing."
Anthony nods. "Sure, sure. Uhm, this way."
They follow Anthony down several corridors to a dark, cool room which appears to be the storage room where the recovered artifacts are kept. The team is already in there, and Anthony introduces them. Dimmock shoves Anthony aside, which Penny isn't sure she likes, but soon forgets when Grandfather is lead to the tub of saline where the picture is being kept. Anthony, quietly so as not to disturb the research team and Grandfather, explains that they have to keep the paper submerged because, after all those years in the ocean, it would crumble if it were to dry out. Penny nods along with the explanation while keeping a careful eye trained on Grandfather.
He looks sad. Very, deeply sad as he looks over the rim of the tub and at the picture. Something else too—wistful? She doesn't know, and it feels as though maybe she shouldn't be looking at him when he's like this. It just seems too private. A strong man losing his composure.
"All the artifacts on this table are what we found in staterooms 221 and 223. The room your fiancé was in, and the room you shared with your brother…if I remember correctly." Dimmock gestures to the long table upon which the saline solution and drawing sit.
"Mmhm." Grandfather glances over it all, and reaches out a hand, to pick up what at first appears to be a small mirror. Then she realizes it's a magnifying glass. He holds it up to his eyes, sighs, and mutters, "This was mine. It was a gift, from my mother." He turns it over, and reveals an engraving on the handle. It's hard to make out on the waterlogged wood, but Penny realizes it reads something like: Keep your head up in the face of adversity. With love, VH.
"What does that mean?" Penny murmurs.
"Well, it was an engagement gift. You work it out." Despite himself, Anthony titters out a laugh. Penny glances at him, furrowing her brows as she does some math.
"You didn't meet grandmother until 1917, Grandfather…"
"I know." He takes a deep breath. "I was engaged before, you know. And don't go telling your mother this, Penelope. I never told her or her brothers, or even your grandmother, although I wanted to many times."
"Did she die, on Titanic? Is that the person who died before you met Grandmother?"
"No, Penelope. His name was James. James Moriarty."
"A man?" Penny blurts, without thinking. Then blushes. "I mean, there's not anything…I mean, it's just…"
"James Moriarty was not a man. He was a spider. The bane of my existence for the six months I knew him. I was practically given to him, as his own personal toy to play with." Grandfather's tone is hard, resentful. "I was all but sold, by my family to his, into a loveless marriage which required I be feminized. It was…mortifying and degrading, and were I not close to the end of my life I would not be telling this story at all. But I am, and I feel someone must hear the story. His story deserves to be told."
"Moriarty's?" Anthony asks in surprise.
Grandfather chuckles and shakes his head. It's not a warm chuckle; it's despondent, as though he's laughing in spite of himself. "No. Not Moriarty. My story is about the man whose life was irreversibly entangled with mine, those five days in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He died, and I didn't. Do you know what it's like to live over eighty years with your life tied to that of a dead man's?"
"No. I can't say I do." Dimmock sits down, and they all get themselves comfortable. This will be a long story, they can tell. Dimmock flips on a recorder and sets it on the table beside the saline tub. "So can you tell us about it, Sherlock?"
Grandfather takes a deep breath, bracing his elbows on the arm rests of his chair and bringing his hands up to rest in front of his face. It's that pose again. He stares over the tips of his fingers at the assembled crew, some of which are still working while subtly trying to listen in, and others who have blatantly dropped their work and migrated nearer. He says, "It's been eighty-four years."
"Just tell us what you can remember."
"Do you want to hear this or not, Mister Dimmock?"
Dimmock sits back, chastised, and gestures for Grandfather to continue.
"You'll do well not to interrupt, Mister Dimmock. I'm not a man who likes to repeat myself." A pause, another breath, and then, "It's been eighty-four years, and yet I still remember it down to the last detail. The pattern on the carpets, the exact shade of the paint on the walls. It was a brand-new ship, a blank canvas. And yet, at the same time, it was a sensory overload. People boarding, people waving from the docks. They called it the ship of dreams. For some, it was."
Notes: I think I was a bit too dependant on the movie dialogue at the end there. I'm trying to separate it as much as possible, while still keeping the integrity of the main plot. Mostly, this was to help me get over a very bad case of writer's block, and I think I have, a bit, so it could be a while before this is updated. Just bear with me; I've got a lot going on. This was also a stress-reliever, because I actually have ACT's next week, and well as MME's (Michigan Merit Exam, for those of you not from these parts.) and I've been having an anxiety attack for the better part of a week.
I hope you guys liked.