Title: The Parting of Ways
Spoilers: Major The Reichenbach Fall spoilers
Warnings: angst, a sad Sherlock
Pairings: Suggestion of one-sided Molly/Sherlock
Summary: Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes say goodbye.
Author's notes: A lot of liberties taken here in terms of how the fall was accomplished and exactly how in on it Mycroft was. Also a bit with Mummy Holmes. Taken from my head canon, mostly. I'm sure this will all be very AU once Series 3 comes around, but it was eating my brain so I've written it.
"Yes. That's him."
"Are you sure?" Molly Hooper asked.
Mycroft glanced down at the body on the cold chamber tray again. "Yes. That is Sherlock Holmes," he said.
She nodded and pulled the sheet up over the body's face. "I'm sorry for your loss," she said.
Mycroft bowed his head in stoic acknowledgement. "Thank you." It felt a little silly to do this, when they were both very aware that it most certainly was not Sherlock Holmes on the tray. For the sake of making this as real as possible, though, they were more than going through the motions. They were playing their parts like lives depended on it. Because lives did.
"I need you to sign some things?" she said. "If you could come with me?"
He followed her down a series of hallways that led into the bowels of the hospital. Normally, the little lab technician reminded him of a startled mouse but he noticed that she seemed more sure of herself today, not as nervous as usual. They stopped in front of a lab, which looked to be full of older equipment and largely disused.
"He's back there," Molly said, pointing to a far corner of the room.
Mycroft bowed his head again. "Have you been here all night?" he asked, noting the dark circles under her eyes.
"Oh. Yes," she said. "I'm all right though. It's fine. I'm happy to help. I-I don't mind." For a moment, the startled mouse was back, but she stopped and gathered herself again. "I know he doesn't think of himself this way, but he's helped a lot of people. There are a lot of people out there who wish they could repay him. Now that he needs help, I think we should give it. I'm just doing my part."
Mycroft thought that was a rather naïve view of his brother, but felt touched by it nonetheless. "You are a remarkable woman, Miss Hooper," he told her, sincerely. She blushed. "Thank you for your help."
"I'll give you some privacy," she said. "I'll be just down the hall if you need anything. And Mr. Holmes? He's a little bit broken. Just so you know. I think he's broken his heart."
She scurried away again and Mycroft steeled himself. He entered the lab, which was darkened except for a small area in the far corner. He walked toward it and found Sherlock on the floor, sitting tucked between the end of a lab bench and the wall. A cup of tea and a plate with a sandwich on it were next to him on the floor, both untouched.
Sherlock was dressed in jeans and a hoodie, which Mycroft found vaguely disturbing. His hair was matted with fake blood and his eyes were red and puffy. He had an ace bandage wrapped around one of his hands, but otherwise seemed unharmed. Physically, at least.
"I mistimed the jump, slightly," he said, holding up his bandaged wrist. "I assumed I would hesitate. I failed to predict that I wouldn't. Otherwise my timing was perfect." He looked up at Mycroft. "Are they all right?"
"Yes," Mycroft said.
"I arranged for John to be hit by a cyclist," Sherlock said. "He was meant to be disorientated, but I couldn't tell if he was hurt or not."
"He's unharmed," Mycroft assured him.
"I left it too close," Sherlock said. "John kept trying to get to me. I had to keep talking to make sure he stayed in the right spot."
"Sherlock. Everyone is safe," Mycroft said, firmly.
Sherlock's whole body seemed to relax all at once. He let out a long breath of relief. His hands trembled and he clasped them together.
"Moriarty?" Mycroft asked.
"Dead," Sherlock said, bluntly. "I believe the colloquialism is 'ate his own gun'."
"Are you sure?" Mycroft pressed.
"I was standing inches way from him, Mycroft," Sherlock said. He cocked his head to one side, considering. "97% sure."
Mycroft nodded and decided not to press the issue any further, though James Moriarty's body would be getting a very, very thorough examination.
"You should eat," he said.
Sherlock shook his head. "I can't."
"Drink then," Mycroft insisted.
"Molly's been reheating the cup up for the last six hours," Sherlock said. "It just tastes like burning now."
Mycroft smiled a bit at that. He stood there for a few moments in silence, then made a decision and lowered himself to the floor. In general, Mycroft Holmes didn't sit on floors. He sat on expensive chairs in expensive places. People brought him expensive chairs to sit on. But now, he sat on the floor, his back against the wall so he could face his brother. He rested his umbrella across his knees and his hands on top.
"You did an excellent job with the body," he said. "I found it very unsettling."
"I learned a trick or two from The Woman," Sherlock said. "What did I get wrong?"
"Your collarbone. Yours is slightly out-of-place from when you broke it as a child," Mycroft said. "It was hard to tell, considering the damage from the 'impact', or however you approximated it, but..."
Sherlock touched his collarbone where the displacement was. "That was your fault, if you recall," he said.
"Sherlock, thirty years later, I still maintain my inability to predict your throwing yourself out of a tree does not make it my fault," Mycroft said.
"You're the one who read me the story about the Red Baron," Sherlock said.
Mycroft smirked. "I will take responsibility for that," he said.
Sherlock pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, looking like he used to as a child when he had nightmares. "Do you think..." he began, then stopped. Mycroft waited for him. "Do you think John believed me? I tried to tell him I was a fake. Do you think I convinced him?"
Mycroft tried to decide what answer Sherlock wanted to hear. "I haven't seen him, personally, since you jumped," he said. "But knowing the good doctor...I don't think he'd give up on you that easily."
"It would be easier for him if he did," Sherlock said. "It would be easier for everyone."
"Sherlock," Mycroft said, gently. "No matter what they believe, it's going to be hard on them. You're dead, for all intents and purposes. It's going to be hard."
Sherlock nodded. A tear ran down his cheek and he swiped it away with a practised movement, as though it were something to which he'd grown accustomed. Mycroft hadn't seen Sherlock cry since he was three years old.
"Where will you go?" Mycroft asked, hoping to distract his brother a little.
"Switzerland first," Sherlock said. He'd clearly given it some thought; the answer came without hesitation. "Reichenbach has to mean something more than a painting and a stupid punny name. I'll start there."
Mycroft fished in his pockets and pulled out an envelope, setting it down next to Sherlock. "You have several passports in there to chose from. Use them at your discretion. You won't be able to access your trust fund, obviously, so I've put a matching amount of money in a new account for you. Let me know if you need more." He pulled another object out of his pocket, placing it with the envelope. "There's a mobile for you, as well. It's untraceable, but don't rely on it too heavily."
Sherlock made no move to pick up either object, but nodded to show he understood. "Do you think if I manage to take down the network, I could come back someday?" he asked. "Back to being me?"
"I don't know," Mycroft said, honestly. "I hope so. But you must realize that even if you can come back...it won't be the same."
"They won't forgive me," Sherlock said, making it somewhere between a statement and a question. "This is bad, right? What I'm doing is bad."
"What you're doing is very brave," Mycroft told him, with sincerity. "But...it...I don't believe their reactions would be...logical." He squinted at Sherlock, trying see if he'd explained it in a way he could understand. "Emotions aren't logical."
"Yes, I believe I've learned that the hard way," Sherlock said, with a bitter little laugh.
"That's the way you've always had to learn everything," Mycroft said.
Sherlock made gesture toward to his chest. "I don't like it. I don't like the feelings. I don't want them." Another tear rolled down his cheek and swiped at it with the same sort of efficiency as before. It was like the fine porcelain veneer had cracked and now he was leaking.
"I'm afraid it's too late," Mycroft said. He swallowed, finding the sight of Sherlock so distressed to be hard to watch. He'd always felt like his brother was born to self-destruct, but lately he'd had hope that Sherlock could outgrow those tendencies. He was afraid that, without the guidance of the friends he'd made, Sherlock would revert back to his old ways.
Sherlock sighed and leaned his head back against the bench, looking exhausted. "Mummy... does she know, yet?" he asked.
"I've called her," Mycroft said. "I felt it was best for her to hear it from me before the newspapers got hold of it. You know she has you on her Google alerts. Considering how fervently we both insisted she take a holiday out of the country last week, I don't think she was surprised. She is aware of the situation. "
"Is it odd that our family has an established code phrase for 'I'm pretending to be dead'?" Sherlock asked.
"There is very little about our family that could be considered normal," Mycroft said, with a small smile.
"Do you think she'll be in danger?" Sherlock said.
"I think if Moriarty didn't target her in the first place, he'll be unlikely to do so from the grave," Mycroft said. "If you can keep up the pretext of being dead, there will be no need for any retribution. Mummy is as good an actor as either of us – better, really. She'll play the part."
Sherlock nodded, looking reassured.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?" Mycroft asked.
"Pay the rent for Baker Street, both mine and John's," Sherlock said. "I don't want him and Mrs. Hudson out on the street over this. But keep it anonymous. John won't like the help. He'll figure it out, of course – he's not completely dense, but he won't be able to make a fuss about it. He might try."
"I'll arrange it," Mycroft said. "And I believe I can handle him."
Sherlock nodded and thought again. "And watch out for them," he said. "Just keep an eye on them, don't do that ridiculous spy thing you do for me. Molly as well. She won't say anything, but Moriarty used her before to get to me. If he has associates, they might try again if they suspect something is amiss. She's stronger than she thinks she is, though."
"Maybe you should tell her that," Mycroft suggested.
Sherlock's brow furrowed. "Why?"
"Never mind," Mycroft said, for some reason pleased to find there were some things about which Sherlock was still oblivious. "Anything else?"
"Watch out for Lestrade as well," Sherlock said. "It's not his fault he didn't believe me."
"Sherlock, he's been up all night trying to prove your innocence," Mycroft told him.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Why?" he demanded. "Why are they all so bloody loyal? What the hell do I have to do to get them to lose faith?"
Mycroft smiled at this, because there was a flash there of the Sherlock he knew and it gave him hope that he might not be broken forever. "Do you really want them to give up on you?" he asked.
"I want them to be rational and keep themselves safe," Sherlock snapped. "I've done a lot for them, the least they could do is hate me."
"You know, Sherlock, I've known you since the day you were born and I don't think I'll ever understand how your mind works," Mycroft said.
"You won't. It's far too complicated for lesser men to comprehend," Sherlock replied.
Mycroft couldn't help but laugh at that. Sherlock smiled a bit and then laughed softly himself. He rubbed at his eyes and ran a hand through his tangled hair, as though trying to put himself together again.
"Will you be all right?" Mycroft asked him, seriously.
"I'm always all right," Sherlock said. He looked Mycroft in the eyes and gave him a nod. "I'll be fine. I...appreciate your assistance. Thank you."
Mycroft knew how much it cost his brother to say that. "I was happy to help. I'm sorry we had to go with Plan B," he said. Plan A had a much happier ending to the story.
"I think we both knew we would," Sherlock said. "Moriarty wouldn't have had it any other way. Does John still believe you betrayed me?" Mycroft nodded. "He didn't say anything. Trying to spare my feelings, I imagine."
"He's a good friend," Mycroft said. He looked at his watch. "I suppose I should get back to do some damage control. You've caused quite a stir. Should you need anything between now and your departure, let me know. You'll wait until nightfall, I assume?"
"Yes. I have a few things I need to do before I can leave the country," Sherlock said. He opened the envelope on the floor and leafed through the handful of passports inside it.
"Be careful. You can't be seen," Mycroft warned him.
"I am aware," Sherlock said. He flashed one of the passports at Mycroft with a smirk. "Siegerson?"
Mycroft smirked back. "I thought you'd like that," he said. "Is there anything else you need?" Sherlock shook his head. "Well, I'll take my leave then." He got to his feet. "I suppose this is goodbye, for the moment. Good luck." He offered his hand and Sherlock took it, giving it a firm shake. "Take care of yourself. I don't want to actually have to bury you until you're old and grey."
"You'll be dead before me," Sherlock said, making it sound like an odd sort of promise.
Mycroft smiled. "I hope so."
He found himself hesitating, afraid this would be the last time he saw his brother. He didn't consider himself a sentimental man and he certainly didn't get along well enough with Sherlock to warrant such displays of emotion. 'I love you' was not the sort of thing they said, nor was it something Mycroft was sure he even felt. 'I feel concern for you because we are related' wasn't exactly a poetic sentiment, either, no matter how accurate it was. Sherlock looked up at him and gave him a brief nod. They understood one another. Mycroft nodded back.
He found Molly and signed what he needed to sign. She assured him that so far there had been no uncertainty on anyone's part that Sherlock was dead and lying in the cold chamber in the mortuary. If things were going to fall apart, they would fall apart there, where people knew Sherlock by sight.
"I'll look after him until he leaves," Molly said, as Mycroft got ready to go. He looked at her, confused. She blushed. "You two look the same when you're worried. You think no one notices. But you don't have to worry, because I'll look after him."
Mycroft didn't often find himself speechless, but couldn't seem to find a response to that. "Sherlock has made very sensible choices in his confidantes," he said, eventually. She blushed redder. "If you need anything, let me know."
She nodded and he shook her hand before he left. Just before he reached the front entrance of the hospital, he stopped and prepared himself. He tried to decide how he should appear. He settled on stoic grief and arranged his face to convey that.
He found he didn't have to act too hard to portray the appropriate emotions.