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Sheer Melodrama, And How Things Are Toppled

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the stage is set, the curtain rises. we are ready to begin.

---

He was theatre really, was what he was.

It depended on the day which kind of theatre.

Sometimes he was Shakespearian. Like those few weeks in university when he'd been Juliet, and young Victor Trevor, soft and vibrant, his Romeo. Two households, much alike in dignity (read: denial about their offspring's latent sexuality) and hushed conversations against brick walls backlit by crawling ivy. A bad decision, then a drugged haze, then a despairing older brother sitting in a creaky hospital chair with his hand cupped around his neatly pursed lips. (Perhaps that bit wasn't in the play.)

At other times, he was more like something Willy Russell would write. Much rougher around the edges, like the very important case notes he'd sometimes find stuffed down the back of the sofa. He could draw a comparison between himself and Mickey Johnstone of 'Blood Brothers.' The young hooligan, driven mad by the crushing weight of just being. The fluctuations between boundless energy and lethargy. The condescending stares from members of the police force who simply knew better. (And there was something about the idea of a secret twin that shook him right to the core. He didn't think about that too much.) Though he never could quite grasp the Liverpudlian accent. That particular skill was a chip in the antique-vase of his intellect.

At his best - or rather, the archetype of his best, crafted from newspaper clippings and that bloody blog - he was Hannay of 'The 39 Steps.' Quick thinking and suave, physically imposing and well dressed, cunning and well... Above all really bloody lucky. If Hannay was the marble though he was the statue. He didn't possess the major character flaw of having his head turned by every pretty face. He was... Selective in his affections. And indeed in his mild acquaintances. Nor would he ever, ever, while the sun still burned grow a pencil moustache. But like poor Hannay, he was sometimes too quick to trust. Too eager to erase and draw a line through the things he didn't want to see. And like Hannay, that got him a bullet in his chest for his trouble. Though Sherlock didn't have a hymn book on hand to impede its flight.

Sherlock Holmes was pure theatre, from the unhinged protagonist curls on the top of his head to the chorus dancer slender lines of his feet. Perhaps it was something to do with how he saw people - as a collection of stage directions. Their defining characteristics, laid out for him to study like some classically trained thespian might in their dressing room.

"Don't try and make it sound all poetic," John said inside his head. "Drama queen."

---

221B Baker Street, Evening.

A room, the initial impression of which is small and cramped, but is in actual fact a decent size and condensed only by the inane clutter that occupies every surface. Soft, yellow light glows through a pair of original sash windows. The bask of London street lamps. A penknife sticks out of the mantelpiece, kept company by an antique skull. A violin rests under the window, towered by a metal music stand with sheet music stuffed haphazardly atop it. A bison head wears a pair of oversized headphones, and equipment that would not look out of place in a meth lab sits on the coffee table.

This is the dwelling place of a mad genius.

Stage left, the genius enters, looking every bit the Byron-style tortured poet. He wears an oversized cotton t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms which suggest that he gives not a damn for his appearance, oddly coupled with a silken dressing gown which rather suggests the opposite.

He stops in the doorway, scans the room with narrowed, intelligent eyes. The rest of his body, completely still. He gives the impression of a man teetering on the edge of reality, not quite sure if he's allowed in. His eyes linger on an empty chair; one which perhaps used to be red but has browned due to frequent use.

Then, in a flurry of silent activity, he surges forwards. Grabs the back of the chair. With great difficulty, evident through his contorted face rather than any vocalisation - our genius remains silent - he drags it backwards towards the wings. The only sound comes from the chair itself, animalistic keens emitting from the scraping of wood on wood. A flurry of activity can be heard from the wings - a series of bumps like an object being dragged up a flight of stairs.

A few moments pass, then our genius returns. He trails over to where the chair once was. Drops to the floor, sits cross legged like a pixie. Tangles his fingers in his birds nest hair. A single, guttural scream. Then, as though nothing had happened, he lifts his head and gazes out of the window. Silent and still once more.

---

"Hey, what happened to my chair?"

"It was blocking my view to the kitchen."

"...well, it's good to be missed."

---

"It's a prop."

Sherlock tells himself every time he sees a dead body.

"It's a prop."

Sherlock tells himself every time he has to run his fingers down cold, flaky skin for evidence.

"It's a prop."

Sherlock tells himself every time he sees the light drain out of somebody's eyes.

"I'm a prop."

Sherlock tells himself while he's chained up in an Eastern European basement being battered like a piñata.

Every.

Single.

Night.

"Fuck, the sound effects are good."

---

A split stage, separated by a thin gauze.

On one side, the villain. Well groomed, gelled hair, tailored suit. His shoes are shined, his tie pushed up under his chin. He is compensating for the madness in his head by ordering the outside. He wears a predatory smile.

On the other, the sweet little doctor's wife. Blonde hair that just manages to brush the tops of her shoulders. Her wedding dress is perfectly fitted, lacy and elegant without being overly chintzy. She wears a predatory smile.

Slowly, they begin to move. A tilt of the head, painfully slow. The predatory smile takes on something of a sly smirk. Around them, the light shifts to a red glow.

They are perfect mirror images of each other.

A gunshot sounds.

A shrill voice from nowhere.

"YOU!"

They make eye contact across the gauze.

"Or me."

---

"Once she had risen, anyone could be her."

"Him, Sherlock."

"Hmm?"

"Him."

Yes, of course. He wasn't in 1895 anymore. He was sitting across from his brother, in the office that he was trying as hard as he possibly could to look to make look like a Bond-villain dungeon. His knees were curled childishly up to his chest, his chin resting on them. The victim of a self inflicted gunshot wound was Moriarty, not Ricoletti.

("People might talk," if he refers to John as 'My dear Watson.')

"Him. Yes. Him."

Mycroft sighs and runs a hand down his face, the ring on his right hand snagging slightly on his hawk-like nose.

"You were very slow, baby brother."

"I know."

"We have been keeping tabs on her."

"I know."

"But you threw rather a spanner in the works, painting the steps at Appledore media-mogul crimson."

"I know."

A pause, that sounded like regret despite being silent.

"I sorry I kept this from you. I thought it was for the best."

"I know. I'll be very angry later. But not quite yet." He let out a heaving sigh. "Moriarty's... Heir is carrying John's child."

Mycroft's eyes burrowed into Sherlock's carefully. The lid of his right narrowed microscopically.

"Is she?"

Sherlock's head snapped up.

---

John was surprised at how unsurprised he was when he opened the door to Sherlock's pale, drawn face.

"It's four in the bloody morning," he slurred, the tendrils of sleep still clinging to his struggling consciousness.

Sherlock opened his mouth, expelled a breath, then shut it again. His teeth were doing that thing they did sometimes, where they opened and closed restlessly but his lips remained sealed. He was fiddling with the hem of his coat, rubbing it between his forefinger and thumb. John sobered up slightly, and felt his face shift into a frown.

"...come in."

"No, I..." Sherlock's hands were raised in a defensive gesture. His eyes were painted with a haze - not quite water, but perhaps a watercolour wash on canvas.

"What's going-"

"When she's born, do a paternity test. Straight away."

John blinked. Acid bubbled up in his stomach, made its way up his oesophagus. Made a home in the back of his throat.

"I... Sherlock, no, no. What have you seen, what have you..." He steeled himself against the doorframe, then stood up stock straight. Captain John Watson, Fifth Northumberland Fusileers, A Veteran Of Kandahar, Helmand and Bart's Bloody Hospital. "Why?"

"Mycroft said to."

John spoke carefully, his voice didn't modulate, he remained as neutral as possible. Like stagnant water.

"You've never once, in all the time I've known you, trusted your brother. Why now?"

Sherlock sucked in a wet breath, and made his confession with his eyes shut.

"Until I was maybe... Eight years old, I thought he knew everything. I'm not feeling too much older than that at the moment."

(redbeard. redbeard. redbeardredbeardredbeard.)

---

A hospital room. Dead of night.

A crib in the corner of the room. Inside, only a few hours old, a newborn baby girl. Ten fingers, ten toes, all there. She doesn't cry, but the room isn't silent. Her mother cries instead.

Mary Watson, head buried in her hands. She is whispering but it is incoherent. Perhaps to herself, perhaps to her husband. He stands in the opposite corner to the newborn, back to the both of them, staring at the wall as though through a window that isn't there. His jaw is set into a line, his eyes hard and cold.

A paternity test request form lies on the windowsill, unsigned.

There had been no need for one.

'Elizabeth Violet Watson,' the attached name card reads.

But she isn't a Watson. She's a different colour.

---

"I know I said... But please Mycroft, please just do it. Please."

"Very well."

"She hurt John. So much."

"She hurt you too. And... Many, many others."

"She. Hurt. John."

---

Elizabeth Violet Cookson lives in a quaint little village, just on the Shropshire-Wales border. She excels in the piano, mathematics, and doesn't quite excel at netball but tries her very best. She lives with her mummy and her daddy and her pet rabbit Rhubard.

Once a year, on her birthday, she receives a letter from 'other mummy.'

'Other mummy' can't see her, because she lives in prison, but she assures her year after year that one day, they will meet. The man with the umbrella told them so.

Lizzie keeps the letters in a box under her bed, and doesn't think about them an awful lot.

---

Someone is talking about herbs on the television. Herbs and where in a dead chicken's anatomy to stick them for an excellent Sunday roast.

John was back, John was home. In fact, John was far more home than he'd ever been before. Before the fall, he'd averaged seven inches of distance between his thigh and Sherlock's when they'd watched mindlessness on the television. Now, four and a half.

"Am I bad?" He whispered to the ceiling. Sherlock, turned his head, slowly, inquisitively. ‘Never,’ he almost said instinctively, ‘you are the antithesis of bad.’ But he could feel that John still had words twitching on his tongue. "For giving her up, am I... Am I bad?"

"She was never... Actually yours John."

Sherlock winced immediately after the words left his mouth. They hung in the air around his nose, clogging it with the impending sense that what he'd said was surely a bit not good. But John's break never came. He never berated, he never argued.

He simply nodded solemnly, as though Sherlock were a priest who had blown away the metaphorical fog surrounding his beliefs.

"You're right. Always... Always right," he swallowed, "And actually... Neither was Mary."

"What do you-"

---

some theatre,

is crafted like poetry,

shakespeare said,

(or possibly said)

each time he shifted,

to blank verse,

when love was to be discussed.

and kissing john watson,

was certainly love.

not brotherly love,

or familial love,

or cocaine love,

but real love.

love that tasted,

like coffee with cream,

and smelt like an intermingling,

of radox and yves st laurent,

and felt like,

a tether to reality,

a way to be allowed in.

---

221B Baker Street, Evening.

A room, the initial impression of which is small and cramped, but is in actual fact a decent size and condensed only by the inane clutter that occupies every surface. Soft, yellow light glows through a pair of original sash windows. The bask of London street lamps. A penknife sticks out of the mantelpiece, kept company by an antique skull. A violin rests under the window, towered by a metal music stand with sheet music stuffed haphazardly atop it. A bison head wears a pair of oversized headphones, and equipment that would not look out of place in a meth lab sits on the coffee table.

This is the dwelling place of a mad genius.

The genius is reclined in a black leather chair, pitifully cracked but clearly well loved, with his face settled into a contented, soft expression. Opposite him, in a chair which perhaps used to be red but has browned due to frequent use, a shorter man of sturdier build sits. He is poring over a newspaper with absent-minded eyes. Trying to pay attention to the outside world, but too busy being happy in his own to give much of a damn. He wears a mirroring contended smile.

Suddenly, breaking the silence, the 'ping' of a text alert.

The two men meet each other's eyes. A spark alights in them. The text alert is a siren call.

An adventure is about to begin.

---

The curtain twitches but doesn't fall. This is only the beginning.