Title: The Final Problem
Summary: Dying was the easy part. Dying wasn't the final problem. The final problem is the mastermind behind the game, an enemy from Sherlock's past: Sebastian Moran. Taking down Moriarty's crew becomes a fight for survival while back home Sherlock's friends fight to move forward with their lives.
Author's Note: I've been working on this story for a good two months now. I've really enjoyed reading through all the post-Reichenbach fics, and I really wanted to write one of my own. This story will be told from multiple points of view, and I have quite a bit of this written. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it!
Special Thanks: To my amazing beta, equal_to_k from Livejournal!
Rating: T for violence, mentions of suicide, mentions of drug use
Spoilers: for the entire show, and later on for "The Empty House" by Doyle
Disclaimer: The world of Sherlock Holmes does not belong to me. The title comes from Doyle's story.
Mycroft Holmes let out a deep sigh as he poured himself a drink. His house was completely silent, though why wouldn't it be, as alone as he was? Outside the darkness stood still, and he felt rather like he was trapped in a morbid painting. His brother, dead. He shook his head. It was still hard to believe, and it was even harder to say those words out loud, as he had to when he spoke with his mother hours earlier. For once he was relieved to come home to the emptiness of his private life. He wanted nothing more than to sit, alone, and work through this by himself.
Suicide was just so unlike his brother. His brother was so obnoxious, so proud. He was perfectly satisfied with who he was and what had become of his life. All he needed was his work, and he was damn good at his job. Sherlock could have proven himself innocent, easily. Suicide just didn't make sense.
And yet here he was, left with the duties to make funeral arrangements for the brother he felt he hardly knew. Left to deal with family and friends. Left to pick up the nasty pieces remaining from Sherlock's game with Moriarty. The next week was going to be hell. The next few years were going to be hell. As the news became more and more real, Mycroft realized that his own life had changed when his brother jumped of that building that afternoon. He was not one to show emotions; he was not one to let others know his weakness, but it would always be Sherlock who kept him awake with worry at night. Now he would have to spend the rest of his days and nights wondering what if?
What if he had taken his brother more seriously? Not that Sherlock would have liked that. Not the Sherlock he knew, anyway; but apparently he had seriously misjudged his little brother.
What if he hadn't told Moriarty Sherlock's story? With that kind of ammunition Sherlock would have known that the next few months wouldn't be easy, what with the media storm that would have engulfed him and the police. But a few months of hiding out and staying quiet made more sense than jumping off the roof of St. Bartholomew's.
He should have known better than to get his brother mixed in with the police in the first place. Sherlock wasn't a trained officer. He was never one to follow rules, and he certainly wasn't one to listen to an authority figure. Placing him in such a dangerous job was just asking for trouble.
Mycroft turned towards the living room, eyes closed for a moment as he let out a deep sigh before heading toward the sofa.
When he opened his eyes, he dropped his drink. The glass shattered on the hardwood floor; the drink tumbled over the tips of his shoelaces.
His empty house wasn't so empty tonight.
Tonight, Sherlock Holmes sat on his sofa, one side of his face coated in dry blood and his arm wrapped in bandages. His brother's hands were shaking like mad. His clothes were torn, eyes were bloodshot, and his hair was a sweaty, bloody, mess.
Nevertheless, Sherlock Holmes was able to crack a smile.
"I've never seen you so speechless," his brother teased.
Mycroft felt faint. He actually felt like he might collapse. Perhaps the day had just been too hard. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep he had been getting lately. Mycroft closed his eyes, desperately hoping that he wasn't going mad.
When he opened his eyes to see that his brother standing inches away from him, Mycroft didn't know what to think. Swallowing, he attempted to regain composure, and cooly replied:
"Well Sherlock, I'm a little in shock as I just had to explain to mother that her youngest son is dead."
"And how did she take it?" Sherlock didn't seem sincerely concerned; Mycroft wanted to punch him in the face.
"Not very well, I'm afraid."
He turned away, certain that he had officially gone mad. His hands trembled ever so slightly as he reached for another drink, but he froze when he felt a cold, clammy, hand grasp his wrist.
"There's no time for self-pity," Sherlock hissed, "snap out of, Mycroft. You know I would never be one for suicide."
"Well that's the thing about suicide, isn't it?" Mycroft said slowly, still refusing to look at his brother. "You never expect someone to follow through with it. I heard you left a nice note for John Watson. That was very sweet of you, Sherlock, to traumatize your friend like that. He's completely in shock."
And now he was reasoning with a hallucination. Sherlock forced him to spin around and face him, and his brother slapped him across the face.
"Focus, Mycroft!" Sherlock said. Mycroft took a few deep breaths as he waited for Sherlock to continue. At last Sherlock admitted: "I need your help."
Something snapped inside him, either the fear of going mad or the anger that this was all real, that Sherlock really was this cruel. He grabbed Sherlock by the collar of his coat, and couldn't help but to flashback to the many fights they had as children as he replied:
"I just spent the afternoon sitting with mother as she grieved the loss of her son! I watched as a detective took a statement from John Watson, who was too in shock to even speak. A double suicide! The entire city is stunned, Sherlock! People don't know what to think! And here you are, with that same smug grin, like you have the entire world figured out. Well dear brother, let me tell you, you know nothing. I'm curious to see how you've worked this one out, because your friends aren't going to be too quick to forgive you for this one."
"My friends were in mortal danger!" Sherlock exclaimed. Mycroft let him go so that he could speak. He tried to avoid how injured Sherlock was, determined not to feel sorry for him. "It was their lives or mine."
"Why didn't you come to me for help sooner?" Mycroft said. "Just trying to play with my mind, are you Sherlock?"
"You would have messed everything up!" Sherlock shot. "You would have tried to orchestrate the entire thing. You would have ruined it like you ruin everything."
Mycroft had to resist the urge to start another fight. Instead he replied, through impatient, gritted, teeth:
"And yet here you are, standing in my sitting room, asking for help."
"You would have tried to stop me," Sherlock said, ignoring him.
"Yes, I would have," Mycroft admitted, "forgive me if I'm not too keen on playing tricks on family and friends about fake suicides."
"You don't have friends."
Yes, he had to try very hard not to hit him.
"What do you need?" He said.
"Passports," Sherlock replied, "identities. A phone. Currency. And Aspirin if you would happen to have any."
All of those things were easily obtained, and Sherlock would be ready to head to Cardiff with Molly Hooper, whose brother was a medical doctor, the next day.
"Is this Molly Hooper planning on running away with you?" Mycroft asked as he changed Sherlock's bandages. Sherlock winced when he tugged on his arm too tightly.
"No," Sherlock said through the pain, "but she is going to do some starting over of her own."
"How sweet," Mycroft said.
When he finished he handed Sherlock an envelope.
"Three identities," Mycroft said, "if you need more, you write me. You don't call. But here's an emergency number, just in case. But only for emergencies. Not because you ran out of money for fish and chips. I think your arm is broken, by the way."
Sherlock looked down at his hand. Thick black-blue bruises covered his fingers, and with the bandages off his wrist had looked even worse. His face was dotted with soft bruises as well, and there was a thick scar on his forehead.
"Don't pretend," Mycroft said, "you can hardly move it. You'll need a cast. X-rays. That's if you aren't stupid and just run off. Do yourself a favor and recover first. No use running around Europe with a mangled hand. You'll draw attention to yourself. Keep quiet; take care of yourself."
His brother examined his injured arm, as though accepting that Mycroft was right. Nevertheless he replied, with a tone of amusement:
"If I'm not mistaken, Mycroft, you sound concerned."
"You are the same idiot who threw himself off a building twenty-four hours ago."
They both jumped when the doorbell suddenly rang. Unsure of what to do, they stared at each other for a moment, both expecting the other to have a plan. When Sherlock remained silent, Mycroft sighed.
"I won't let them in," he said.
He left Sherlock on the couch to admire his injuries. When Mycroft opened the door the cool wind was a welcome change from the stiff air of his sitting room, where he had spent the night going over the details of his brother's plans.
Mycroft opened his mouth to announce an excuse for the stranger to go away, but he stopped when he saw it was Molly Hooper instead. She smiled at him, unintimidated.
"I'm here for Sherlock," she explained.
He stared at her for a moment, unsure of what to say; he knew it was the reality of the plan that was just settling in. At last he invited her inside, ushering her to the sitting room where Sherlock was on a laptop.
"Scotland is so boring," Sherlock said, without looking up, "could you have not found somewhere more interesting that I could be from?"
"Yes," Mycroft replied, "I'm sure you would like Texas a lot better. Your friend is here."
Sherlock looked up, startled to see Molly. He looked quite like a teenager who had unexpectingly ran into the girl of his dreams. Mycroft couldn't help but to smirk. Molly offered Sherlock a soft, reassuring, smile, and handed him a duffle bag.
"What's your name supposed to be, then?" She asked.
"David Williams," Sherlock said, with a rather impressive Scottish accent. "I have a degree in ancient history from the University of Edinburgh. What does one do with a degree in ancient history in Scotland?"
Molly giggled, and Mycroft had to roll his eyes. Yes, he certainly felt like he was helping two teenagers prepare for their first date.
"You colored your hair," Sherlock observed, "it's...nice."
Molly tucked a freshly-dyed strand of blonde hair behind her ear as her cheeks turned red in embarrassment.
"I figured it couldn't hurt," Molly said, "not that anyone will care about the fact that Molly Hooper from London has suddenly moved away. I just wanted a fresh start, you know."
Sherlock smiled at her.
"You can do so much better than London, Molly."
If he wasn't mistaken, his brother might actually have feelings for this girl, whether Sherlock would ever admit this or not. Then again, he was probably just being nice, as Molly was about to change her entire life for his sake.
The two immediately looked away from each other, making Mycroft feel even more awkward, as he didn't know what to do with them.
"How's your arm?" Molly said, finally breaking the silence. She stepped forward, and Sherlock let her place his arm in her hand. "How's the concussion?"
"It's fine," Sherlock said. Mycroft knew he was lying.
"I kept him up all night," Mycroft said, "he's fine now. Make sure he sleeps on the way to Cardiff."
"I brought you some clothes," she said.
Sherlock opened the bag and pulled out a Scottish football shirt. Mycroft had to hold back a laugh at the look of disgust on his brother's face. Molly grinned.
"I thought it might help you blend in," she said, "and we can tell my brother you hurt yourself during practice."
"A believable lie," Mycroft commented. "Have you ever seen my brother play football? Rubbish."
Molly giggled again, and Sherlock simply glared at her, not amused. He stormed out of the room in silence to change, leaving Mycroft to decide how to handle this time alone with Molly. She seemed to understand the uncomfortableness of the situation, and she sat down on the couch, keeping silent.
When his brother returned, there was nothing he could do to keep from letting a small grin escape. The jersey made Sherlock look younger, and the fake glasses he put on made the disguise even more believable.
"Can we get this over with?" Sherlock groaned.
His fake accent was too amusing. Mycroft almost forgot the goodbyes they would have to say- and the fact that he might not see his brother for months, years even. In London it had always been far too easy to keep an eye on his little brother. After believing he was dead Mycroft admitted to himself that he wasn't ready for Sherlock to disappear into the world so soon. But he knew there was no choice; it was for the greater good.
The two brothers stood face to face. Sherlock avoided his eyes, and Mycroft had the feeling that the moment he walked out of his house he would ignore everything he had instructed him to do.
"Here's the phone," Mycroft said, handing a new phone he had stolen from the government to Sherlock. "Try not to contact anyone in London with it. Don't try to keep in touch with anyone here. As tempting as it might be, don't look up your friends. Leave this life behind, Sherlock. It's done now. Tomorrow I'm going with mother to pick out a tombstone."
Sherlock nodded, but they both knew that all of this would be easier said than done. Sherlock had no idea of the hardships ahead of him. Plans always looked good on paper, but once he was out there with no one to contact, with no help, it was going to be hard. And it would be hard sitting here, in London, with no one to talk to about this, without knowing where his brother was or if he was safe.
"Write to me," Mycroft said, "tell me where you are, what you have accomplished. Tell me when you need help. I mean it."
"I'll be fine," Sherlock insisted, "the hardest part is over."
"No," Mycroft said, shaking his head, "dying is the easy part."
Sherlock's eyes darted away, and Mycroft knew he knew he was right. Molly stepped between them, taking this as a cue to interfere.
"Are you ready to say goodbye to London?" She asked Sherlock.
Mycroft looked back at his brother, and his brother looked at him. The two had never been close. They spent most of their lives despising each other. Yet Mycroft knew his brother well enough to know that he would love nothing more to be back in Baker Street. But he had to be brave. If not just for Molly's sake.
"Take care, Sherlock," Mycroft said. He turned to Molly. "Look after him."
As Molly nodded, Mycroft knew he would never forget how terrified the two of them looked at that moment.