Jackie is taken on an eye-opening journey back through time to the Age of Demons to witness first-hand the powerful bond between two familiar faces, leading to events that will shape the events of the present
THE LOSING SIDE
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
(Contains spoilers for “The Final Problem”)
It was a casket. That’s all it was, all it needed to be.
A simple wooden casket, inanimate distraction for the three lively souls inhabiting an otherwise cold and barren room.
But everyone stops looking after three.
“It’s funny how little God or whatever authors all our pain in life cares about death these days, recordings of Mary from beyond, recordings of me from beyond, you just wish someone would learn to lie still in one of these” emitted a composed, sophisticated yet slightly unhinged voice from behind Sherlock. The Detective looked around him, John and Mycroft both stood ridged, not moving, staring completely beyond him, like he didn’t matter.
Sherlock turned to his right and found James Moriarty standing beside him, carving out an apple with a jagged knife.
“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked of his nemesis.
“I’m precious” he said.
“To me? Because I’ve obsessed myself with every move you’ve ever made in this game?”
“Oh you’re not done yet with that are you?” Moriarty asked, “Do learn to move on, we’re past caring about the moves I’ve made, they’ve never been mine to make to begin with”
Sherlock deduced they were in his mind palace, his rapid fire mind indulging in the precious moments spent in between two extreme expressions of his rarely seen emotional range. The former was still taking the time to process, the latter sat there simmering, waiting for release, a release that would only come with full acceptance of the former.
It was in these precious few moments that Moriarty had taken the opportunity to conjure up himself, or rather, that Sherlock had chosen Moriarty to symbolize an ever increasing array of reactions and responses.
“It’s all up there Sherlock” Moriarty continued “Your paranoia, you believe so highly in your aspirations of godhood, you think the most biblical of things can still find a way to manifest on this plane of existence”
“What are you to this situation? And I don’t just mean what’s going on there…I meant, this moment, what do you mean to THIS moment?”
“I’ve been so underlooked in this little triangle haven’t I?” Moriarty said in a sly, taunting manner, taking a bite out of the apple, several worms wriggling through its core, he took one out of the centre and gently slipped it into his mouth.
“You remember don’t you? The night we met, you summed me up in one agonizing word, and it dashed all her fantasies. I was precious alright, but not to you Sherlock, oh no…”
“Stop it” Sherlock said.
“I was precious to her. Three times we went out after you called me gay, three pleasant little dates, but no attempt was made at second base, she listened to you after that. You ruined her big chance, but she still followed your judgement. She thought you knew best. Mothers know best you know that?”
“If you have a point to make, do try to draw it out so I can keep it together” Sherlock replied.
“Oh, would you rather you give that order, or would you prefer the soldiers at your side to do so?” Moriarty asked, pointing to Mycroft and John as they headed towards the room’s freshly unlocked exit.
“What makes you think you can hold it together? You can’t, that’s why I’m here, to finally follow up on my promise all those years ago back at that pool”
Sherlock’s fist tightened as he stared at the casket. His temper began to rise, he had only seconds left, but the recesses of his mind palace stretched time out further. He had to maintain control of the web he was at the centre of.
He would not permit Moriarty to win.
“Remember that promise? That I would burn the heart out of you?”
“I made a promise too…a vow, and while I may have stumbled in attempting to honour it, I intend to further my commitment to it, so you see I have to maintain control, I cannot give into the losing side” Sherlock continued.
“Ah yes, changing the goalposts, trying to bring it all back around to the science of emotion, chemical defects, the works. Easy to see why you would, I mean, a man made of your kind of metal can’t possibly have a heart can he?” Moriarty continued, spitting part of the apple back into the detective’s face.
“Unless you strip away that armour, all that you were, all that you hid behind, and force yourself to hand all of your needs over to someone else, someone who’d seen you for all you were, and still wanted you to have all of her. There isn’t a single scientific deduction or evaluation that can dictate that course of action Sherlock, that can only come from the soul”
“Enough” Sherlock urged the grim spectre of his nemesis as he nudged him even further.
“And even when you went into hiding, even when you went deep underground, even as you buried yourself, she threw herself into the world trying to move forward, only to keep coming up short. She latched on to fiancés who she dropped at a moment’s notice because you were back in her life, you had taken her as an assistant, spent it on a couple of dates you usually reserve for John. Oh he must have been jealous, lord knows you thought about it enough times…”
“I picked her because I respect her, I appreciated what she did, I did it because she counted for something in the end…”
“Who knows where’d it’d have all led if you hadn’t noticed that ring on her finger, but then, you made your move on her anyway. A gentle brush against her cheek, enough to send her into so many thoughts of inadequacy and guilt, knowing she’d opted for someone so much less than you…”
“I didn’t realize…how could I? She gave no signals, there was no way of knowing if she felt…”
“..The same?” Moriarty continued.
Sherlock could sense John was trying to talk him into coming with him and Mycroft. He continued to hang around the coffin, carefully caressing it with one of his hands. His actions prior to this situation steadily flashing before him. His mannerisms, his expressions, his words, and, more importantly, his desire.
“She did everything for you” Moriarty continued, “Even gave up a whole life for herself, no matter how diminished and unfulfilled that life may have been, it was still hope that she held for the future, and just by being there, being who you are, you drove her away from that. You made her so vulnerable Sherlock, just like you make everyone. EVERYONE.”
“No…” Sherlock uttered as John called out his name.
The precious moments were almost up. He was on the verge of an emotional breakdown, all he needed was a most unkind command, a permission to act out his frustration.
“She is your heart, and you let her control your head. Look upon this box Sherlock, look upon your failure, your other vow , to honour your friendship, look at this box, and set yourself upon it. Your heart is exposed, it burns, my work is, at last, done. You said to Molly Hooper that you needed her words for a case, she gave all you’ve ever meant to her for the good of that case, now apply it to the world you’re committed to above all others.”
“No” Sherlock said, his calm demeanour fading, his armour steadily stripping away.
It was at this moment that he could hold back no longer.
The order finally came.
“Author her pain” Moriarty commanded.
His fists pounded into the casket with feverish and naked aggression, it fell apart in his raw hands almost like confetti, he tossed the remnants across the room, and emitted a primeval sorrowful scream at the top of his lungs.
He sunk to the floor of the cell, the casket lay in ruins, as did his heart.
Moriarty faded from sight, his work at last done, as the consulting detective came to terms with the most overbearing defect found in the losing side.
Love conquers all.
Even Sherlock Holmes.
THE MAGICIAN’S CIRCLE
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
(contains spoilers for “The Lying Detective”)
Sherlock briefly took his eye off of Molly as she checked his pulse.
“Keep still” Molly said, placing the cold end of the stethoscope onto to Sherlock’s bare chest, listening for any irregular beats. To her silent alarm, she found a few.
Sherlock could tell from her face that this was unsettling her.
“I don’t make it easy on you do I?” he asked.
“When you gamble with your health the way you have, no, no Sherlock it’s never easy” Molly replied.
“Do you think John is right? Do you think I use you?” Sherlock inquired.
“I like to be useful, that’s how I like to look at it” she said.
“A comfortable lie, obscuring truth…the truth is that I am not one of the better men in your life” Sherlock replied, coughing gently as Molly gave his lower regions a tight grip with her right hand.
“Most of the people in my life never respond to me, living or dead, the fact you and John still do puts you in far better company”
“What would it take for you to wash your hands of me?” Sherlock suggested.
“I think I’ve got a lot of you to wash off as it is” Molly remarked.
Sherlock’s face briefly lit up, appreciating the joke.
“No” he said calmly, “I mean this in the most sincere manner Molly Hooper, if you finally caved, if you believed I could never come back from the path I’ve travelled down, that I could not be fixed or saved, how would you convey that to me?” Sherlock asked.
“Are you asking me this because you’re not so sure you’re coming back from this?” Molly asked.
“I need you to look past the physical examination, and examine your sense of self…everyone has a breaking point…”
“I would break it to you gently” said Molly.
“Really?” Sherlock asked
“I’d…give something back too, something that was meaningful…to you, to me, to let you know that I wouldn’t want to keep even that which mattered”
“The riding crop?” Sherlock asked.
“This isn’t what you want to hear is it? What I would do…this is about what you think John would give back, if he felt he couldn’t put up with you anymore”
“I knew our brief time as investigators together would permit you to compose a most precise deduction” Sherlock said in a complimentary manner.
“I observe plenty, like you do, but I don’t exactly sit still and let it stir me” Molly replied in response, handing Sherlock his trousers. Sherlock quickly snatched them up.
“Thankyou for the thorough examination” Sherlock replied.
“His cane” Molly suddenly said aloud.
Sherlock’s eyes lit up.
“If John didn’t want to come back, if he felt there was no going back, he’d hand you his cane, back when he had that phantom pain, the pain you…the pain you took away. He’d want you to have that, as a crutch” she said.
“Excellent, be sure to tell him that when you nip over to his place for some quality time with the baby” Sherlock replied.
“Wait, you want me to tell him…all that? What someone would do to cut ties to someone they care about?” Molly asked, confused.
“In her best sentimental manner, yes” Sherlock said.
“Are you trying something funny?” Molly inquired.
“We are crossing over to a place where there is no room for error or jest…I need John to part ways with that cane at a precise moment, a moment where everyone except myself must lose sight and sense of the plan”
“What if John sees it more like a trick?” Molly asked.
“Then I shall set myself a reminder that, to John, I must distinguish strategy from magic”
As Sherlock proceeded to put back on his clothes so that he may get on with more of what he had planned, Molly reflected on John’s words to her from earlier, about being used, and what Sherlock had just said to her.
She knew this wasn’t a game, and she would be as direct about that to Sherlock’s face as he would be to John, but she could not help but feel the long term goal Sherlock obviously had in mind, to mend the fractured path he and John walked together on, could be best mended by her playing along.
And to that end, she was determined to make her role count in the magician’s circle.
UNEARTHED FROM THE URBAN MEADOW
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
(Contains spoilers for “The Lying Detective”)
Sherlock’s hands gripped John’s head tightly as the good doctor, qualified to deal with so much in life, came to grips at last with the imposing vacancy provided by loss.
Mary was gone, that reality had finally sunk in as John confessed to her lingering ghost of his interest in another, a woman on a bus, a pretty little flower that had unearthed itself from the urban meadow and, in a casual manner, had spurred John on to embrace her fragrance.
It always starts so casually, and from there the complications grow. The risk, the danger, all the addictive elements that make up the psyche of John Watson.
The elements that had led him so easily to Mary, a moth to flame, a flame now extinguished. He felt almost akin to a puppet, his strings cut, nothing holding him up.
He had to turn and face the strange, but to do so in the arms of a stranger would bring him no peace. It is only fitting then, that he find solace in Mary’s legacy.
The two of them together, Holmes and Watson, together again, each the strongest part of the other, built to last for as long as the grief and pressure shall burden them.
The tight embrace of the two men, however, could not endure the repetitive joyful moans of a sexually perverse ring tone on the table next to Sherlock’s chair.
“Oh will you bloody answer that already?” John asked of his dear friend, releasing his grip from Sherlock and tending to his wet and weary eyes beset by tears.
“That’s not how she plays the game” Sherlock replied.
“She lost her game years ago, this is life we’re dealing with” John replied.
“She said it wasn’t a game” Sherlock muttered.
“Who did?” John asked
“Last person to cross my mind…” Sherlock mumbled.
“Molly?” John said, probing further.
“When she examined me for the medical, she said the drugs in my body were steadily killing me, that she’d seen healthier bodies on the slab”
“You looked like utter shit and you acted like one” remarked John.
Sherlock picked up the phone to read the messages left to him by Irene Adler, John now aware of her persistent existence, and not being overly fond of Sherlock having to prioritise her now at such crucial a juncture.
“Well, spit it out, anything other than birthday wishes?”
“She just says ‘had lunch?” Sherlock replied.
“…Doesn’t she always want dinner?” asked John.
“This isn’t a want on her part John, it’s an ask. A ‘how are you doing?‘ My god, she’s at that phase of her private life where she wants some reassurance there’s a voice out there that isn’t too busy”
“Well you kind of are…busy” said John, urging Sherlock to put the phone away and continue to provide him some measure of solace.
“I could try to give her some clarity, but that would only serve to form a connection…”
“What exactly do you think we were just doing there?” John said, trying to keep his frustrations in slightly. But only slightly.
“You’re different, you’re within reach” Sherlock replied, “And you have a fresh wound, hers is but a lingering scar, I’m the scab she likes to prick at on the skin, hoping I’ll turn blood red and pour myself out to her”
“And are you? Remember what I said Sherlock” said John.
“About not letting people like that out of my sight? Must you be reminded of the connections she has to the web of Moriarty? I haven’t spared him a thought the last three weeks, but rest assured, I have made plans to appoint fresh concerns for his posthumous game for the next week…who knows, perhaps this is a part of it”
“So answer it, and get your assurances out of my way so you can continue to help those within reach”
“It would be so easy, but as I’ve learned John, the urban jungle flourishes through hardship and an instinctive desire to put up with so many above the individual. I have committed to that cause, as have you. I cannot permit myself to play a game when the players around me are too much sane, in mind or heart, to play with either me or the one I concern myself with”
“Right, well then, guess she isn’t that kind of person then?” John replied, a slight look of assurance on his face.
“Last person you think of, but her words are never the last thing you think of”
“Oh don’t start that again” Sherlock replied
“She is though Sherlock. Without a moment’s hesitation, she’s there; you just push her to the back benches like some unwanted MP, when she has been to hell and back for you as long as I have”
“She’s seen more men than me in a state of undesired undress, none of them as capable of satisfying her needs as I, and they happen to be deceased. I think that’s the minimal amount of hell she’s permitted” Sherlock replied.
“Then give her a slice of heaven Sherlock, let her see with her own two eyes how you rebuilt this bridge between us, show her that you don’t just set things on fire because you enjoy the world more when it’s alight, invite her over for lunch, you, me, her, Rosie, all together, we’ll go and have chips…”
“Oh no, I mustn’t think of chips” said Sherlock, reflecting on his troubled evening spent with Faith, a figment of his imagination that had almost trodden his reality underfoot and compromised his investigation into Culverton Smith.
“Cake then. A place with cake” John suggested.
“Is that the drug that makes you think you have about a month to cross the street?” Sherlock asked.
“A place with cake Sherlock, the usual sort, we’re going to all have that. Cake and coffee, and chit-chat”
“Will there be cream?” asked Sherlock.
“Are you saying that to entice you further into going along with this, or are you just glad you got a text from Adler?” asked John
“Last thing to cross my mind John, I assure you” Sherlock replied.
“There, see, you’re learning, push Molly slightly upwards, leave the pawn behind and give your all to the players” said John.
Sherlock pondered John’s words; he admired greatly how quick he was to turn from the temper brought on by the grief, and to put forward to him the reminders he needed. To elevate those important to him.
To give their words to him even greater meaning in micro-managing his own path through the streets of London.
But, perhaps more tellingly, to unearth his own flower from the urban meadow.
THE APPROPRIATE WORLD
WRITTEN BY ZARIUS
(Contains spoilers for 4×01, “The Six Thatchers”)
Molly had tended to the baby’s needs all day, so much so that she had neglected to tend to her own.
Her hair was a mess, she hadn’t popped over to the stores for a supply of fresh make-up, she hadn’t been eating all that much, the money being spent more on giving little Rosie her baby food and milk when John would occasionally forget to make the ’rounds as he dealt with late hours at his practice.
Throughout it all, the lingering stench of dread hung over her, dread for what was to come next.
Death was always a horrific business. Working for the police had taught her nothing else. There was an unkindly pattern to it all, the very worst emotions slip out when dealing with it, and the people affected by whatever lingers in its wake.
Ghosts of the past, and there had been so very many, had rarely been laid to rest within her circle, and this was perhaps the unkindest ghost of all.
Ironic perhaps, because of how inviting, warm and strong Rosie’s mother, the late Mary Watson, had proven to be in life.
Molly could still remember the day she and John Watson wed, a day also filled with mayhem. A best man in high spirits, a speech that turned into a murder inquiry, the humiliation she felt when her then fiance Tom had tried to offer ‘input’ into the impromptu case. The wedding photographer stood exposed as the culprit.
And the sight of the best man walking out into the cold, the dark, alone. As was his normal sort of manner.
Into the concealment of night, bleeding into the black like a vampire.
How unfair she thought at the time, that he would prefer to bleed into the black than sustain his energies in the light of good company with good graces.
He had made a vow that day to safeguard the couple to protect them from harm, to cast out the forces of darkness like some naive nobleman, still believing the world’s cruelty could be held at bay, that there was hope.
Molly looked into Rosie’s innocent and engaging eyes, and from it drew the kind of strength that the last few days had sapped from her. Sapped from everyone.
Mary was lost to them now, taken in a manner that made no sort of sense, but has reckless self sacrifice ever made any?
That uncontrollable human urge to put your needs before others is what had given humanity it’s bravery, it’s very character, no matter how despairing their view of the world had become, all of us, from soldiers to police, clung to hope that what they do in their field would lead to a more prosperous and affirming future for all the love they left behind.
There was a difference though. These people all knew what they were getting into. They had learned to keep their ego in check, left it firmly standing at the door awaiting instructions. They knew not to engage it when dealing with a crisis.
And here was Sherlock, the naive nobleman, putting his foot in it at the last crucial moment. A case solved, the perpetrator jail bound, but he could not resist trying to tear off whatever vestiges of armour were left on the composed and modest culprit. Ego compelled him to. And it was that smug need to satisfy himself that forced Mary into the line of fire and take that bullet for him.
Molly knew as she looked into the baby’s eyes, peering into that welcome window to what remained of John’s own world that she had to be more of a rock than ever. She and Sherlock had been appointed god parents by the Watsons, and she was more than able and ready to honour her commitments to the child.
But she would have to do it alone.
The note from John had made it clear that Sherlock was to have nothing to do with the family from this point forward, and she was to turn him away if he were to drop by offering condolence or help of any kind.
John had come through so much, but losing Mary to Sherlock’s vain indulgences had seemingly put to bed any illusions there could be a solid foundation between the two men. Now he was going to make sure the existing circle he had built was sound enough to keep Sherlock from intruding further into Rosie’s young life, to ensure his last vow no longer entails a permanent solution to life’s cruel perspective on the John Watson problem.
That’s what Molly truly thought, that John was deeply focused on his place in the universe, and that it had been continuously dealing him a very deliberate and cruel hand through his pursuit of adventure, his pursuit of the game.
For Christ’s sake, was that all this world of hers had been reduced to?
Or had the world always been like this?
The doorbell rung.
Molly knew instinctively who it was.
She held Rosie tight and walked over to the door, and answered it.
There he stood. The naive nobleman. Offering exactly what John’s note had cautioned her about.
Molly wanted to say so much, she wanted to reach out to him, let him hold the baby in his arms, let him gaze into her eyes and understand the magnitude of the world that he had destroyed, and to strengthen his vow there and then, and to then face, with her, the challenges in dealing with Rosie’s development in years to come.
She didn’t have the confidence to do any of that. That wasn’t how the world had taught itself to work.
No, as much as it pained her to realize, to remain self-satisfied, today’s society moves along more efficiently by embracing awkwardness and turning shyly away from the hurt, not towards it.
It wasn’t her place to tell him it was alright, it was Johns’. He was the one best qualified to make judgement on the vitality of their strengths and weaknesses, whether Sherlock’s vow could prove as viable as her own.
John was Sherlock’s strength; all she could do was offer him his best friend’s present judgement on his weakness.
That may not be the noble thing, but it was, in her mind, the only just resolve to the present situation.
Whatever feelings she had, whatever love she wished to offer, that naive nobleman world in itself would have to wait a little longer, for she had to deal with an appropriate one.