-2006-

Salander sat still and silent as the stack of file folders landed on the desk separating her and Mycroft Holmes. "Your new name is Sherlock Holmes," he announced without preamble. "You are my younger sister by seven years. We grew up in Sussex, and spent every summer holiday in France with our grandmother until her passing when you were fourteen. At the age of seventeen you were sexually assaulted by our uncle Roger, who at the time was supposed to be tutoring you on the violin - oh, you play the violin. You promptly reported him and he spent the remainder of his short life in prison." He said the last with a pointed air, and a very obvious addition of 'there will be no more vigilante work for you, Miss Salander.'

"You were in a serious relationship with a young man named Victor Trevor until our parents died in a car crash. It was then you failed out of university in your final year, meant to be reading in chemistry. You have recently returned to Britain after several years working, studying, and - ah, what's the term? - soul-searchingin Sweden."

She quirked an eyebrow. "I assure you, brother, my accent won't slip," she told him in clipped tones, perfectly imitating his. Everything about this arrangement was a bit too strongly reminiscent of Zalachenko.

"I have the utmost confidence in your acting, Sherlock," Mycroft smoothly insisted. "However, I am not the one in charge of writing your alibi. That task went to my employer, who spent a great deal of time arranging every last detail. An entire office, in fact, contributed, a branch of the government known for being unknown. Ah, speaking of."

A pretty young woman of around Salander's - Sherlock's - age came in and silently passed over a memo. Mycroft smiled at her: office affair with no signs of stopping simply because it was inappropriate, likely to end in marriage within a year. His pleasant demeanor darkened as he read the document, and he smirked. "Yes, Mummy, whatever you say, Mummy," he lightly said before taking up his pen for a proper reply.

"Don't want to upset Mummy, then, do you?" asked Sherlock.

That was the only time she saw him genuinely smile, and upsetting Mummy would become a long-running joke between them in the years to come.

First, however, was the matter of her new living arrangements. Mycroft wanted to put out a deposit on a spacious, luxurious flat on the West End, but Salander got the feeling that Sherlock was stubborn. With what little she was able to scrounge from her overseas bank account, to be closed indefinitely as soon as she turned her back, she acquired a small place on Montague Street. It reminded Sherlock of the little flat she'd lived in on Lundagatan during her visit in Sweden, small and cramped and more than a bit musty. There was enough room for her clothes - which Mycroft bought for her, all business casual. Vile. Though there was a certain sleekness to the well-cut silk - and for her to buy books, maybe even some equipment. Lately she had been enamored with chemistry.

Three months had gone by, all of the books in her flat mindlessly consumed, and Sherlock was bored. Though by no means did she care to have a nine-to-five job, she needed something to occupy her mind or she would go mad. Mycroft seemed more than happy to give her a position working in his office, which she refused with her utmost scorn. There was no way she would allow herself to be manipulated by yet another government machine.

Sherlock started wandering the streets at night in her fiercest get-up, spiking her hair into a ferocious 'do before dressing in her old torn jeans and grubby shirts under a faded leather jacket. It was the only time Sherlock and Salander ever intermixed, even if Sherlock did still like to radically style her hair over the crisp silk suits she was growing steadily more fond of. The more she wandered about, the littler more cataloguing she was able to add of her knowledge of London's streets. There seemed to be a plus-side to her defect, after all. A few people tried to mug her and one tried to assault her, but she was quick to deliver a burst of well-deserved violence. It wasn't vigilanteism if she was just defending herself, after all.

Still, one night she couldn't quite help herself intervening when she came across a young man being beaten by a few idiots in baggy jeans who fancied themselves hardened thugs. A few knocks over the head and a kick to the solar plexus with the sole of her boot and the scrawny young man was falling all over her with thanks. "You saved my life! I can't believe it, you're five feet tall and you saved my life! Thank you! I love you!" Then he tried to kiss her and she pinned him against the wall by the throat. "Sorry! Sorry! I just love you so much!"

His name was Raz, he was 22, and he was a very grateful drugs dealer. To show the full extent of his gratitude he gave her a tiny bag of white powder that Mimi had tried once a few years back. She took it home with her, Raz's many promises of favors and fair trade whirring around in her head, carelessly threw the bag onto a shelf, and promptly forgot about it. Sherlock didn't care about gratitude or having favors owed to her, though they could potentially come in handy someday.

Scotland Yard caught up with her after four months of night wanderings. Sherlock knew why they stopped her - a punk found standing alone with a bloody nose over the prone bodies of four gang members - and was surprised when the DI said he was impressed. "Not many women your size can do something like that," he told her once the ambulance had checked her nose wasn't broken and carted off the gang.

"Size has nothing to do with it." Sherlock turned on her heel and strode away before the graying DI could reply.

Sherlock continued her chemical experiments, but they lacked a certain spark that she was still trying to find in making her new life worthwhile. Not that it wasn't worthwhile, she was happy to be alive even if it was in an unfamiliar country, but she needed something more, a real purpose, or she would defect. It was only when she was on her way to St. Bart's morgue to ask about doing an experiment on one of the cadavers, and found her way blocked by a crime scene, did things get interesting. The same DI who'd been impressed by her size-to-strength ratio was there, and recognized her in the well-fitted charcoal suit. It was probably the hair.

"Nice to see you again, how's the nose?" he asked cheerfully. Sherlock blinked at him until his smile faded. "Well, anyway, I'd better get on, we've an investigation. I think you can get through on High Street. If you just take the left up there and then-"

"Why are you directing people to walk the same way the gang escaped?"

The DI's eyebrows shot up. "What? Hold on, don't move, I need to..." He dashed off and started quickly directing his constables and sergeants to cordon off the other street. Sherlock watched with interest until he was finished and returned, looking awed. "How did you know that?" he asked breathlessly.

So Sherlock explained. A part of her rather liked the way the DI looked at her so admirably, while another part was frustrated with his extreme levels of incompetency. He was absolutely thrilled by her so-called genius, and quickly ushered her further onto the crime scene. "Can you do that again? Can you do that with the body?"

She could, and she did. It was easy with a photographic memory to look around, find all the separate pieces, then rearrange and coordinate them in her mind to create the full picture. The DI was astounded and made her explain it twice more before moving his team on, but not until he'd gratefully wrenched her hand.

"My god, you're a bloody genius," he practically gushed, beaming and eyes shining. "I need your name. I need it or I might jump off a building."

She glared witheringly at the exaggeration. "Sherlock Holmes." At his insistence, she also gave him her number and snorted when he asked if she was secretly DI from another region. Then she continued on her way to the hospital as intended. It was easy to skirt around pesky staff when she flashed her new Detective Inspector's badge, and was quickly directed down to the morgue.

Molly Hooper was small, ineffectual, and madly in love from the moment she looked up from her paperwork to see Sherlock in the door. That, too, was probably the hair-suit combination, and Sherlock didn't have time for such silliness. Though perhaps the girl might be good in bed; she was very new to her job and insecure, looking for something to cling to and therefore very open to change if it made her feel like someone loved her back for once.

"I need to look at one of your bodies, for an experiment," she said without introducing herself, flashing the badge again.

The girl furrowed her brow. "I...don't think you're Inspector Lestrade. He's been here before, you see."

Hesitating only a moment, Sherlock changed tactics and smiled winningly. "You caught me!" she laughed. Molly looked apprehensively delighted at outsmarting her. Sherlock reached out and touched her arm. "Lestrade said it might be funny to try out on you, I'm sorry, I couldn't resist toying with such a pretty girl."

"O-oh!" blushed Molly. She grinned bashfully to herself, hugging her clipboard. "Well. Um. How can I-how can I help you? I'm Molly Hooper."

"Sherlock Holmes, and like I said, I'd really like to do some work on one of your cadavers," she explained again, shaking Molly's hand and holding on longer than necessary to make her blush again. "I'll keep to code and respect the body exactly to your prerequisites. You can even watch and assist me, if you'd like." She put a different tone to her voice that made it sound like allowing Molly to assist her was doing the girl a great favor.

Sure enough, the girl blinked confusedly and then nodded. "Um. Okay. Right through here, please," she said, pulling open the door to the morgue with a timid smile. Sherlock smiled to herself, and spent the next four hours testing dissolving rates of poison capsules in different parts of the body, while Molly brought her coffee.

The next week Lestrade called her for help in another murder. She supposed it would be interesting, following the summons only after a small amount of fuss to make it look like she didn't care so much. The body was that of a decapitated prostitute. Fairly young, in her mid-twenties, from Russia. There were finger-shaped bruises on her hips and shoulders, but that wasn't definitively related to how she'd died. Kneeling closer, wishing she had some sort of magnifying glass, Sherlock inspected her fingernails, the lacerations on her knees, elbows, and the teeth in her decapitated head.

She thought of the foreign prostitutes back in Sweden, the ones thrown in the river after Niedermann beat them to death, and almost brought up the topic before quickly dismissing it. The less she talked about Stockholm, the better her chances of remaining well-hidden here in London. Still...

"Someone smuggled her illegally into the country and killed her when she threatened to go public with her gross abuse," she said aloud. "It's very likely she's underage, and there's a reporter in trouble somewhere for writing this story. Either more prostitutes or the h-journalist be the next victim." Reaching irritably into her pocket, Sherlock pinched herself in punishment for almost saying 'journalist' with an accent. Damn Blomkvist was in her head.

The case with the prostitutes lasted well over a month, though thankfully did not end in her getting shot again. Four more prostitutes had died, but they saved the journalist and she was able to publish her story with the smuggler safely behind bars. When the case finished Sherlock went home without a word, ignoring Lestrade's invitation to a drink down at the local pub. Sergeant Donovan and the analyst Anderson had been giving her stink-eye all through the case because she didn't do things to code. They were idiots, anyway.

Raz's bag of cocaine was still sitting on the bookshelf, staring at her, as she lie on the sofa. Her mind felt scattered and full of useless junk. She missed Mimi. Without another thought, Sherlock got up and pulled the bag of white powder down from the shelf, quickly pouring a small measure onto the cluttered coffee table and cutting it with Lestrade's nicked badge. She only did one line rather than try it all at once. Lying back, she waited, and smiled.

Six months later, Mycroft and Lestrade were not so impressed with her new way of passing stagnant times when she staggered onto a crime scene with pupils blown wide. Anderson made a remark and she grabbed his collar, screamed in his face like a bat out of Hell, and nearly pulled out her Taser before the DI could peel her off of him. What began as only mild dislike became pure hatred that would never heal over. Sherlock didn't care until she saw Mycroft waiting at her flat when Lestrade took her home.

As soon as they were alone she lit a cigarette and dropped her accent. "You didn't invite your own sister to your wedding," she accused through the smoky haze, eyeing the ring on his right hand rather than left. For security reasons.

"I did invite you; you merely forgot to show up," replied Mycroft smoothly. "But that isn't why I'm here. Do you know why you bear a man's name rather than a woman's, Sherlock?"

She shrugged carelessly.

"You're named after my brother," he continued as though she were interested. "He died as a young boy, when my father's enemies broke into our home and shot him. You remind me of him, Sherlock: sharp, inquisitive, constantly seeking answers to questions everyone else is too passive to ask... It was my duty to protect Sherlock, as it is now my duty to protect you, and by doing your health such an injustice is to do me an injustice. To do my brother's memory an injustice."

"I didn't know your brother," she glared, lighting another cigarette.

Mycroft sat up straighter. "And yet you still dishonor him," he bellowed.

She leaned back, stamping out the cigarette on the arm of her chair. "Don't compare me to him," she said in a low voice. "Don't you dare compare me to a dead child. I am not a good person, you knew that from the moment we met, so don't try to make me one. I will continue to do as I see fit and you will not interfere."

"Mummy will have something to say about this, you know," Mycroft said after a long stretch of silence. "It would not do to upset Mummy."

"The only way Mummy would be upset is if you told Mummy. And you don't have to say a word; I have the situation perfectly under control."

Sighing irritably, Mycroft pinched the bridge of his nose with eyes shut. "Yes, you've made that quite clear by the circles under your eyes that, for a change, are not due to the horrendous makeup you refuse to stop wearing," he sighed. "If you insist on continuing this disgusting habit, wasting not only your life but the government's money, I will have no choice but to inform Mummy and send you back to Stockholm."

Anger erupted in her chest. Standing, Sherlock opened the door and waited beside it until Mycroft rose to his feet. "Try not to get too fat now that you're married," she hissed before slamming the door in his face.

Another four months passed and Sherlock refused to give up the cocaine out of pure spite for her brother. However, when Lestrade stopped calling her to crime scenes and she was forbidden from the morgue, Sherlock concluded that even cocaine couldn't save her from dying of the unbearable stagnation.

She tried to quit on her own for a year, sickened by her own weakness when the cravings became too much and she succumbed again. Every few weeks Lestrade or Mycroft would come to check in and find her curled on the floor in a pool of her own vomit or, in one embarrassing incident, naked and sobbing in the bathtub because she couldn't stop shaking and sweating through her clothes. Lestrade, who was much less averse to bodily fluids than Mycroft, had merely sighed and carried her to bed after offering to take her to the hospital. Sprawled on her stomach in bed, she heard the DI gasp; it was the first time anyone outside of Sweden had seen all of her tattoos.

"Get th'fuck out," she muttered thickly as she pulled the sheets up and sweating instantly through them.

The men came later that night, taciturn and silent as they wrestled her screaming into a dressing gown and down into a waiting car. She was brought to a government medical facility and detoxed for five weeks, then put through ten weeks of hateful rehabilitation therapy. The nurses and therapists were awful, constantly asking prying questions about her past and wanting to know how she feltabout all of it, especially the sexual assault by her "uncle" that had been in her medical records.

There was only one doctor who was decent enough to treat her with some sort of respect, a man named Mike Stamford who was temporarily filling in for a woman on maternity leave. He was friendly but not overbearing, and worked at Bart's hospital, where she liked to do her experiments. Sherlock liked him.

When finally she was released, Mycroft was waiting to bring her back to the flat on Montague Street. "You got fat, brother," she said in way of greeting.

"It's nice to see you too, Sherlock," sighed Mycroft.

It was cold outside, and Sherlock had lost a substantial amount of weight in the hospital; Mycroft offered out a long wool coat: a peace offering. She took it but didn't speak all the way back to her flat. "Happy birthday, Sherlock," he said before leaving her. It was January 6th, and Sherlock was twenty-eight. Salander would be so on April 30th, but that was irrelevant now.

Though the cravings and withdrawal was over with, Sherlock continued to keep hidden stashes of cocaine around the flat, just to show her brother that he couldn't control her. No one could control Sherlock Holmes.

-2010-

"It seems you've got yourself quite the reputation now, Sherlock," Mycroft said over tea in her grubby little flat. "Mummy has decided that you are to start charging for your services and your allowance will be reduced. The sooner you can stand on your own two feet, the better it is for all of us."

Sherlock rolled her eyes. "So glad you've my best interests at heart, brother," she muttered, picking at her chipped black nail varnish.

"You are to stop styling your hair in such a ridiculous fashion, wearing such garish makeup, and keep to wearing the clothes I've bought for you; you still don't look any better than a vagrant fresh out of rehab," continued her brother annoyingly.

"I have a high metabolism and can't gain weight," she growled.

He smiled. "Just wait until you have children and it will slow down."

She laughed meanly in his face.

When Mycroft was gone, Sherlock looked over her tiny flat with disdain; it was too small to work at the extent she wanted, too crowded to properly think. But to afford a bigger flat without Mummy's assistance, she was going to need a flatmate.

She called Mike.