This got into my head and just. Would. Not. Go. Away. So I throw a thousand apologies in my 'Make Your Move' reader's direction. Call it procrastination if you will, I call it 'being a terrible updater'
Sherlock paused as he stood in the entrance of the underpass, looking back to the thin veil of grey drizzle currently descending over his beloved London. Flexing his fingers he felt the skin on his fingertips were stiff with the dried blood caked around his nails, dyeing his hand a copper-brown hue. Today had been difficult, more difficult than the others. Mistakes had been made, violence had been commited. Still, today wasn't a total waste, after all, some things had been learnt.
Oh yes. Things had been learnt.
Turning away from the busy city Sherlock quickly made his way down the dank passages, dreading what he might find. If the stories were true; the Mime was a ruthless killer who struck without mercy, silently raising Hell with a calm smile coated in pitch black paint.
But there was more to him. Much more.
The passageways stank of urine and damp, the walls littered with graffiti and peeling neon posters. It wasn't as though Sherlock was a stranger to this sort of place -quite the opposite in fact- but he still felt uneasy as he padded his way down the tunnels. He brought a handgun with him, just in case.
Turning around what felt like the hundreth corner, Sherlock's eye was drawn to a sliver of weak light emerging from a sheet of drab tent material acting a a psuedo curtain-door. It faded perfectly into the colour of the surroundings that it was a miracle Sherlock had seen it at all. A shadow moved through the light, causing Sherlock to instinctively draw close to the wall. He had no doubt this was the Mime's refuge, a hovel that the man's broken mind had christened a home.
Sidestepping quietly, Sherlock neared the entrance, his arm a split second, doubt gnawed at his core, debating whether he could face what would be inside. What if this was beyond him? Beyond the past? What if there was no redemption here?
Sherlock pulled a face at himself and abandoned all sentimentality. The Mime was a criminal. There was death in his soul and blood on his hands, justice had to be done. Drawing a breath to steel himself, he parted the flaps silently and peeked inside.
Perched on a box with hunched shoulders sat the Mime himself. The monochrome striped frame was shaking with violent sobs. The black beret synonomous with his namesake was in his lap, clutched in desperate, clawed fingers, showing a head of hair in disarray.
Sherlock had never imagined to find London's most elusive murderer crying his eyes out. But the more he watched the more he noticed that though his physical posture screamed of agony and emotional turmoil, the man made no sound. No harsh cries, no ragged breaths. True to his name. Bitterly, Sherlock came to the conclusion that the Mime was only acting, pretending to weep silent tears that most likely didn't exist. Standing in the shadows he tried to muster up contempt for this dangerous man. But he couldn't. Sherlock couldn't conjure any emotion.
Besides pity. Simple, crippling pity. Huddled in the poor light, the Mime cut a tragic little figure.
Sherlock continued to stare for a few moments, then stepped inside the space behind the man.
'You're the Mime.' he said simply.
The Mime stiffened, but made no move to face him. Sherlock thrust his bloodied hands into his pockets and continued:
'But it seems...wrong calling you that.'
Still not facing him, the Mime replaced his hat at a jaunty angle on his head and jerked his shoulders in a nonchalant 'So What?' fashion. Sherlock inwardly balked, and for a little moment, he felt a twinge of fear.
'You know you make quite the sensation? In the papers...The Mime. A dark figure in the night, never making a sound. Some people think you're more ghost than man. Did you know that?'
Something in the Mime's posture changed, he became more alert and straightened, as though the rumours were a source of pride for him.
Sherlock blinked and wet his lips. There seemed to be a huge dry stone in his throat, no doubt a side effect of all the emotional bloody trauma the world seemed to relish heaping upon him. Nevertheless, he heard his voice crack involuntarily.
The Mime winced and turned to face him at last. With a jolt Sherlock saw the man had indeed been crying, tears cutting rivulets throught he greasepaint and smearing the black into the white. His dark eyes were huge and tragic in his pale face, and his mouth was parted in confusion.
'John.' Sherlock ploughed on, 'That's your name isn't it? John Hamish Watson. Soldier, doctor, writer, flatmate and a good shot. A terrible liar and a good friend.'
The Mime frowned and pulled a 'Don't know him. Sorry.' face. The reaction was unwelcome, but not surprising. Sherlock began to pace towards hims slowly, keeping his voice low. It was like approaching a frightened animal. The Mime frowned, but Sherlock mercilessly drove on.
'I don't know what's happened to him, but he needs to come back. People miss him...John. John I'm sorry. It's me. You know me. Whether I caused this or not I don't know. But if I drove you down this path...'
Sherlock broke off, maintaining eye contact. The Mime stared back, his eyes woefully dead. Sherlock felt his insides twist, hurt at the complete lack of trust or recognition in his old friend's eyes. Maybe he was wrong, maybe this wasn't his John at all. This was some demon playing a particularly cruel trick by wearing the face of a gentle and world-weary angel.
'I'm so sorry.'
Tilting his head, the Mime smiled an affable smile that didn't quite reach the dark eyes. Are you? Are you really?
Sherlock gently gripped the man's upper arms, causing the Mime to blink owlishly in mock surprise.
'John please! It's me, Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes...oh come on. You remember me. I know you do. You're hidden from me...underneath this stupid Mime facade.'
A flash of anger briefly lit up the Mime's eyes that Sherlock hollowly took as a sign that something was getting through to him. The Mime roughly shook of Sherlock's hands, his teeth bared in a don't you fucking touch me snarl.
'No! You're in there! You put on this mask of the Mime to cover your tracks, to detach yourself. It was supposed to be a temporary thing wasn't it? That was your plan!'
A muscle twitched beneath the Mime's eye. Shut up.
'...I think you've worn the mask too long John. You've forgotten who you were...who you are beneath it.'
A bit of the anger fell away from the man's face and Sherlock would readily swear he saw a faint echo of John Watson look back at him. For a second he could see a pain filled man, someone who's soul was irrepairably shattered beyond recognition.
Or maybe not so irrepairable. Nothing was broken it could never be fixed.
A white gloved hand reached hesitantly towards his face. John's eyes searching his own for...something. Something that could connect them again. Sherlock found himself suddenly wishing John would speak, say his name. Anything.
'I miss your voice.' he blurted.
The painted face hardened with race and all warmth fled from the dark gaze. John was gone for now. The Mime had returned.
Sherlock barely had time to register what was happening before the outstretched hand grabbed his throat in a vice-like grip. In one rough movement the Mime stood and flung Sherlock backwards until he hit the hard stone wall. For such a slightly built man, the Mime was strong.
Sherlock's hands clutched at the Mime's arm fiercely, fighting the hold the man had on him. In the weak light, his blood encrusted fingers stood out against the black and white of the Mime's attire.
'J-John!' he choked weakly. If anything this hardened the Mime's resolve, and the hand tightened even more, effectively sealing off Sherlock's airways.
Sherlock kicked out. Hard. What he had meant to hit flesh actually hit nothing but thin air as the Mime easily dodged the move in one fluid movement. As he struggled to draw in a breath Sherlock felt his head being forced back into the wall. His hands grabbed and pulled, but it didn't seem to affect the Mime at all. He forced himself to look at the Mime's eyes. If the man was so intent of murdering him right here in the bowels of London, he'd look into his eyes. He'd look and would see John.
But there was nothing but insane rage in the Mime's eyes, eyes that were once warm and expressive were hard and cold. The people of London were right. This man was a monster.
'John...please...' Sherlock gasped, his face tight. He could feel the fight going out of him...blots and lights were popping before his eyes...
Suddenly, the pressure disappeared. Without the grip holding him up, Sherlock crumpled to his knees, gulping air into his lungs whilst coughing and retching. His hands shook as he massaged his throat gently, wincing as he touched where vivid bruises would no doubt eventually form. Slowly, disbelievingly, he raised his eyes.
The Mime stood over him impassively, no emotion on his painted face. His arms were tense, as if he would readily throttle Sherlock again.
Sherlock blinked and reached out but the Mime reeled backwards, as if Sherlock were some disgusting, venemous creature that would harm him if he came to near. Sherlock opened his mouth to speak the but Mime turned and fled to the door.
'No!' Sherlock croacked, pushing himself off the floor unsteadily. As he did so the Mime paused at the flap door and turned back.
John looked back.
For a moment the two stared at each other. Both silently pleading mercy from the other man.
Then, in a flash of black and white, the Mime left and Sherlock heard his footsteps rushing away. He lurched out of the space and stared up and down the dark passageway, calculating which way the Mime could have gone. He decided there was nothing to be gained by rushing into a chase. Nothing would be gained from tracking down the Mime. Nothing could be gained today.
Outside, the drizzle had turned to rain.
Yes, this was heavily inspired by the short film 'The Girl is Mime' starring Martin Freeman, since you ask so nicely.
I just wanted to deviate and explore the idea of a 'dark' John. Hopefully it worked.