"I'll find you somewhere
I'll keep on trying until my dying day
I just need to know whatever has happened,
The truth will free my soul
Lost in the darkness, try to find your way home
I want to embrace you and never let you go
Almost hope you're in heaven so no one can hurt your soul
Living in agony 'cause I just do not know
Where you are"
Headington was a fairly small town for being so close to Oxford University. It had a row of shops, a downtown if you will, to lure in university students and their money, but other than that, the town was quiet, which was the bane of the Holmes brother's existences. For them, nothing happened in Headington. There were plenty of hospitals, golf courses and parks, but there was very little city life, which fascinated the two boys- with intellect like theirs it was often hard to people watch when there were no people. Going to the university was a special treat- it provided study time and an opportunity to deduce passerby, as was Sherlock's favorite pastime. What he hated about those outings, however, was heading back home. It was true that he hated it because he had to leave such an interesting place, but part of the problem was that Mycroft, acting as his guardian and annoying older brother, would always insist on stopping downtown to flirt with a girl who worked in a pastry shop.
The girl herself wasn't so bad. Her name was Marie, and she wasn't bad looking either; she had long auburn hair and warm hazel eyes. She was the same age as Mycroft, about twenty, and she was fairly intelligent (Mycroft wouldn't have been interested otherwise). She even treated Sherlock with respect and as if he were an adult, completely ignoring the fact that he was only ten years old. Even though Sherlock was never polite in return, Marie still made sure to greet him every time they came in and always said goodbye, no matter how insufferable Mycroft was being. The problem, for Sherlock, was having to wait around for about twenty minutes, bored out of his mind as Mycroft flirted pointlessly with her. For a ten year old boy, having to watch someone flirt to begin with was disgusting- but the fact that he had to watch his brother attempt the heinous act made it all the more awful for him. He'd taunt Mycroft about it endlessly, but Mycroft still went back often.
For Headington, that was about as close as one could get to 'going on a date', especially for an austere Holmes. The Holmes family was infamous in Headington for being snobbish, but Marie knew first hand that the two youngest Holmeses were actually very interesting and nice enough once you got to know them. People gossiped about how someone as 'well-to-do' as a Holmes would be seen hanging around in the company of someone 'normal' like Marie, but Marie's father didn't mind (especially if it brought business into his shop), and Mr. and Mrs. Holmes didn't and wouldn't make their opinions known unless they had to. When Marie and Mycroft started dating, business, much to Mr. Williamson's pleasure, boomed. For the longest time, the budding relationship between Mycroft Holmes and Marie Williamson was the only good rumor in town.
That is, until Marie was murdered.
A lot more speculation (most of it rude and all of it unfounded) suggested that another boy had been flirting with Marie and that Mycroft had gotten jealous and had killed the other boy in a fit of rage. The police, however, knew a bit more than the rest of the population. Marie had been working a late night shift in the pastry shop, preparing goods for the next day, when someone broke in silently, shot her three times through the heart, and left without stealing anything. The police were looking for gang affiliations (which, for Headington, were almost unheard of and made an excellent story), concerned that Marie had been murdered because of something she might have been dragged into, seen, or heard.
Above all of the hubbub and general stupidity, Sherlock, even at ten years old, watched curiously. Just two years earlier he had taken interest in a case about a classmate, Carl Powers, and since then he got very excited when something interesting finally happened in Headington. He pretended to be grateful that Mycroft couldn't 'be an insufferable flirt' whenever he left the house, but Sherlock saw how upset his brother was over the whole thing and, inside, felt bad for him. Sherlock's mind came up with a perfect compromise to meld the situation towards a favorable outcome.
He would solve the case for two reasons.
One, it would give him something to do, and two, it would give Mycroft a sense of peace so that he would stop moping about the house.
To Sherlock, his plan was foolproof. He hardly ever doubted his own genius, and knew that if he was smart about this, he could solve the mystery as to who murdered Marie Williamson. His first case had taught him quite a bit about investigating, and he knew that involving the police was completely pointless; they didn't listen to Sherlock and they would only call his parents and tell them that he was 'hindering the investigation', a laughable accusation to Sherlock, considering the police were hindering it themselves as much as was humanly possible. Eager to get started, Sherlock could barely be bothered to go the horrid funeral that his parents said he had to attend. Mr. and Mrs. Holmes were offering support to the Williamson family as much as they were to Mycroft, which was all very boring to Sherlock.
Fortunately, he got to deduce everyone who went to the funeral and look for possible suspects. Anyone who could have killed Marie and would have regretted it would have shown up to the funeral. It was unlikely that anyone regretted it (the three bullets to the heart pretty much destroyed that idea), but Sherlock was open to all ideas until he ruled out each one with evidence and facts; he entertained himself throughout the whole service by deducing those around him and reviewing his ideas about his newest case in his mind. It was all very sad and everyone was offering their condolences left and right, but Sherlock couldn't bother himself to care. He held Mummy's hand, as he was instructed, and let himself drift in and out of reality as he sunk into a thoughtful stupor. It was only after the casket had been buried and the Holmeses were attending the reception afterwards that Sherlock could escape.
He knew that as good of a time as any to visit Marie's grave, if one was the killer and wanted to express regret in private, was when everyone else was gone and while the emotions of the funeral were still fresh. Undoing his ridiculous bowtie while he walked, Sherlock snuck back into the graveyard where Marie was buried, darting among graves, trying to pick a good spot so that he could see Marie's grave without being seen himself. He could give a good vigil, almost an hour or two, before anyone would notice that he was gone. He'd tried his best to behave that entire day so that after a while, his family would forget about him in the light of Headington's most recent tragedy. His bowtie now hanging comfortably loose, Sherlock peeked around a headstone to look at Marie's grave and froze, eyes narrowing.
In the dimming light, there was someone standing there, right on the fresh soil covering the grave. The light was facing them, only giving Sherlock a silhouette of who was standing there, but he could clearly see them. They were staring at the grave, shoulders hunched, head down- classic signs of guilt and or grief. The person in question was thin, and fairly tall. They looked young. Deciding that he needed more data before he could confirm that this person was guilty or innocent, Sherlock ducked around a few more graves, staying low, trying to get around the figure to look at their face. As he made his way, he could tell that the person was female, and immediately started to wonder if Marie had any cousins that could be waiting at her grave. Sherlock paused behind a larger headstone when he heard the person move, settling down with a sniffle- they were crying. Ready to make an identification once and for all, Sherlock peeked around the headstone and gasped.
Sitting on Marie Williamson's headstone, wiping their eyes, was none other than Marie Williamson.
At the sound of the gasp, Marie looked up a bit, eyes wandering aimlessly about the graveyard until she saw Sherlock. She looked to be in a bad way. Besides the fact that she was supposed to be dead, she was very pale and looked so light that the strongest breeze could blow her away. Her usually warm eyes were miserable, and the front of her blouse, over her heart, was stained with red where she'd been shot. Looking slightly confused, Marie slid off her headstone, still staring at Sherlock as if she expected him to do something else other than stare back with wide eyes. Always the scientist, Sherlock's eyes flashed down to her feet, trying to quell the stupid, superstitious part of his mind that thought that Marie was a ghost. Marie had to be real, and there had to be a logical explanation as to why she wasn't in the casket he just saw getting buried. However, he felt the blood leave his face when he noted that there were no footprints on the freshly mounded dirt over Marie's casket. She wasn't leaving footprints. Marie was looking at him cautiously now, her expression tinged with hope. "Sherlock?" She whispered finally. "Sherlock Holmes?"
Sherlock flinched in response at hearing her voice, and she jerked back, walking through her headstone in surprise. She stared at him with a joyous and yet still sad expression, a hand pressed to the wound on her chest. Trying to pull himself together (this obviously was a practical joke of some kind, Sherlock was smart enough to know that ghosts didn't exist), Sherlock stepped around the headstone he'd been hiding behind, drawing himself up as disdainfully as possible. "Why would someone as painfully ordinary as you need to fake their own death?" He asked loftily, and Marie gasped with delight, passing through her headstone again to stand on her grave.
"You can see me?" She asked incredulously, as if she didn't dare believe it.
"Of course I can. You're standing right there." Sherlock scoffed, annoyed that she was trying to continue her charade. His mind was buzzing over the idea of her faking her own death. Who was in on it? Why would she need to fake her own death? He tried to think of any enemies a person like her could make (besides Mycroft's harassment, because Sherlock classified it as such instead of flirting) as she blessed herself quickly with shaking hands.
"But you can see me." Marie repeated for clarification, and Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Yes, I can see you. Please, stop wasting my time with useless acting and tell me how you faked your own death- I find it terribly interesting." He rebuffed her, and the joy slipped off her face and she took a step closer.
"I haven't faked anything, Sherlock. I'm dead." She said softly, miserably.
"Oh, honestly," Sherlock grumbled, striding over and making to grab her wrist to feel for a pulse, disgusted that he had to prove his point when it was so blindingly obvious that she'd gotten caught. Wondering how Mycroft could have ever seen any sort of intelligence in Marie Williamson, Sherlock went to grab her hand.
What he was not expecting was the cool, almost damp feeling that settled over his hand as it passed right through Marie's.
Marie pulled away as if he had electrocuted her, bringing her hand to her chest, and Sherlock froze, hand stuck in midair as he stared at it, stared at the spot where he should have been taking Marie's pulse. His mind struggled to compute the fact that, somehow, this was not some elaborate ruse designed to help Marie fake her own death.
She was actually dead. She was a ghost. A ghost.
"Don't be afraid," Marie begged quickly as Sherlock took a step back, his mind trying to compute the update and failing miserably. "I won't hurt you, I promise. I can barely make myself solid enough to stay on the ground- I can't even touch you." She rambled a bit, still clearly worried that Sherlock was going to bolt. The young genius, after a minute, cleared his throat and rubbed his eyes.
"I am not afraid," he clarified for the record, even though he knew that if he tried to walk anywhere his knees would shake, giving away how terrified he had been just moments before. Everything he thought he knew was a lie- Marie was a ghost. "You are dead." Sherlock stated the obvious to give himself a starting point to focus his attentions.
"Yes," Marie whispered, hugging herself unconsciously.
"And I am the first person who has been able to see you." Sherlock continued, and Marie gave an almost frantic nod. "I haven't been poisoned or drugged in the past twenty four hours, so chances are good that you are not a hallucination." Sherlock mused out loud, walking past her and pressing his fancy dress shoe into the fresh dirt over her coffin. A strong print appeared in the dirt. Sherlock tested the gravestone next, checking it for anything that could have allowed a normal person to walk right through it. He came up empty. "Stick out your hand again," Sherlock ordered, and Marie, after a moment of hesitation, seemed to brace herself and then offered her arm to the air, extending it towards Sherlock. He stepped forward until he was right next to Marie.
Up close, it was suddenly obvious that Marie was a ghost. Her skin seemed to waver around the edges, as if she was ready to turn into smoke and vanish. Her skin wasn't just pale, either. It was white; she was even starting to form a contrast with the night around them as it got steadily darker out. Experimentally, Sherlock extended two fingers to press against her exposed wrist, still searching for a pulse, and his fingers passed right through, the odd feeling of cool damp returning to his skin. However, it was Marie who shivered, drawing her wrist up to her chest. It was clear that she didn't like the feeling very much. "You are a ghost," Sherlock said, half to himself as he studied Marie intently, trying to gather facts as his mind exploded into overdrive.
"Sherlock? Are you out here?" Mummy's voice was suddenly calling, jerking Sherlock out of his thoughts. Marie flashed and flickered, nearly disappearing, before becoming visible again over on her grave, hands pressed to her chest wound as if in fright.
"I'll be back tomorrow. Don't leave." Sherlock promised, pointing at Marie in a 'stay' gesture, a brilliant thought occurring to him. If Marie was available for him to interrogate, he could solve her murder without difficulty. Besides, she was utterly fascinating now that she was dead- he would be able to study a real ghost. The surprise on Marie's face stayed with Sherlock as he turned briskly around and headed back through the graveyard. He absorbed his mother's scolding without complaint or even an eye-roll; he was too absorbed in his thoughts.
Thankfully, his family was rather low-key after they arrived home from the funeral, so Sherlock had unlimited time to himself in his room, where he could pace and stare at the walls as he sorted over his newest puzzle, the murder and the literally ghostly reappearance of Marie Williamson.