Sherlock was busy typing away at a blistering pace as the plot of his first attempt at writing a book was coming to an epic denouement.
As dramatic on paper and ink as he had been in real life, Sherlock’s protagonist was a truly badass young woman, half Vulcan, half human, whip smart and sharp tongued whenever she did deign to talk to the ‘plebs’ who seemed to flood her city, the great Megapolis of Highhollow, somewhere around 2500 AD, where she lived for half the year.
The other half she spent on the colony on the Moon, because after all, where there were humans there was crime.
She wore a dramatic deep red coat and swash-buckled her way through crime scenes. Being followed by a short humanoid robot ‘assistant’ of the K9 model. She often called him ‘pet’ when she was in a rare good mood.
Of course she had to deal with the Guardian of the Galaxy rather often. She was very fond of him really but she would never let him know. Emotions were a defect on the losing side. It would do her no good if her threats to leave him and the Work couldn’t be made with a straight face.
If Anthea had caught hold of the manuscript she may have smirked at the thinly veiled mashup of herself and Sherlock that Verity Marshall was.
On a regular basis Verity the Private Investigator ( Vera to close friends and to her fussy but loving housekeeper), would brush off the Guardian’s objections to her rude behaviour by explaining to him that she was a Misanthrope and if he didn’t understand what that meant, he needed to find a dictionary and deal with it and stop bothering her!!
Sherlock was busy doing a thesaurus search for word alternatives to ‘annoying’ when his phone rang.
The noise was suddenly very loud in the quiet flat.
Oscar and Wild had been dozing in the living room and were startled by the alien sound. The flat erupted in a cacophony of mews and sharp barks as Sherlock searched for the phone on his desk.
Unknown number said the screen.
Ugh. He pressed ignore.
He decidedly did NOT want a pre-approved credit card, or a loan or any interference with the flow of his creativity….
The phone rang again.
Suddenly he realized that it was almost noon and that Mycroft hadn’t messaged him with a reminder for breakfast. He hadn’t noticed because he had been writing furiously from the moment he kissed Mycie goodbye that morning.
He had a brief moment of panic and he answered the phone.
“Mr. Ross Willis?” A voice asked.
“Yes. This is he.” Sherlock answered, fighting to keep the dread away from his voice.
No one called him! Ever. Even Mycroft didn’t usually because he knew he preferred texting.
“This is New York General Hospital.”
Sherlock thought he was going to pass out when he heard those words. There was a ringing in his ears and he barely understood what the woman was trying to tell him.
Mycroft had had an accident!!
He had been crossing the street outside some odd station (Why had he gone there? Sherlock thought fleetingly) and had been knocked down by a speeding taxi. He had been unconscious when he was taken to the hospital and was taken into the operation theatre right away to fix the femur fracture.
She was calling to inform him because they had checked his wallet and the Social Security number and the records showed him listed as next-of- kin.
Sherlock never remembered afterwards what he did next and what he did after that and what he did once that was done…….but somehow he managed to keep food and water out for the children and took a taxi to go to the hospital.
As the taxi sped through Manhattan his brain was full of white noise and screams and chants of Mycie please please please please please …..please……. I can’t do this without you. Please be ok. Please please please please please please
When he finally reached Mycroft’s bedside and saw him there…..why had he never noticed how much weight Mycie had lost over the last year?? Mycie suddenly looked so frail and Sherlock’s heart almost stopped.
What would he do if Mycie…no…must not think such thoughts.
He looked up at the nurse who was talking to him.
Yes he nodded, wiping away a tear that had trickled unbidden down his cheek.
“Oh don’t worry Mr. Willis!” the older woman said cheerfully, her thick Jamaican accent making him feel illogically reassured. “He is going to be jus fiiine. It’s the anaesthesia. Hasn’t worn out yet. He signed his own consent papers before we took him in. There was no time for him to talk to you because he was losing blood.”
“Thank you!! Sherlock said, suddenly grateful for people who were considerate and thoughtful and wincing inside himself for all the times he had been rough with witnesses and victims of crime.
He sent up a heartfelt apology to them all as he sat next to Mycroft and held his hand tenderly.
Caring is not an advantage he thought.
Mycroft was right. It had made him weak now. That was true….But he would take this over the way things had been earlier. Every time.
He rubbed his thumb over Mycie’s hand, delicately, wanting to crawl into the bed with him and never leave him again, even for a second.
He decided fiercely that he was going to make Mycie also work from home now. They would just live inside the flat and order takeaway and never step out into the big bad dangerous world again…ever….
He would keep Mycie safe from murderous cabbies and manholes and traffic signals and oh whatever it was that killed people in Manhattan.
He had been sitting for half an hour when Mycroft stirred and mumbled.
“Lockie? Lock…..where are you?”
Sherlock panicked. Mycroft was obviously still under sedation and had forgotten that it was two and a half years since they had used those names in public!
“Mark?” Sherlock asked him. “How are you love?”
Mycroft frowned at his voice. “Lock?” He said again.
“Ross here sweetheart. Mark? How are you feeling Mark?” Sherlock tried again.
“Please call Sherlock.” Mycroft whispered. “He will be so worried.”
Sherlock gripped his hand tight and whispered.
“Mycie? I am here but remember that you are Mark now and I am Ross!”
At this Mycroft opened his eyes. “What? Why? Is it for a case?”
Sherlock just stared at him in terror.
Mycroft didn’t remember?? What the hell was he supposed to do now??
“Yesterday is but to-day’s memory and to-morrow is to-day’s dream.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Fortunately the nurse came in just then and said that the patient needed his rest and medicines and they could catch up on their chat tomorrow.
Despite that Sherlock stayed in the waiting room all night, unable to tear himself away from Mycroft and also terrified that Mycroft was going to call out to him by the old name. But Mycroft slept through the night.
The next morning Sherlock woke up at 5 am with a terrible neck ache and stiff legs and decided to make a quick run home to feed the children and get some cash and change his clothes, and be back before Mycie woke up.
He was walking along briskly, collar up and head down against the cold wind when he met one of his irregulars at the signal just before their building.
“He was looking the wrong way.” Jason said.
“What?!” Sherlock asked him, confused at this random statement.
“Your man. He was looking the wrong way and crossing. Wasn’t the cabbie’s fault.”
Sherlock’s heart sank.
Mycroft had been looking at wrong side of the road and had forgotten that they were across the pond now. So had the forgetting started before the accident? What in heaven’s name was he supposed to do now??
“He dropped this here bunch of papers.” And Jason thrust a bag in his hand and took off.
Sherlock looked inside the bag as he went up to the flat.
It was a copy of his first draft manuscript.
What was Mycroft doing with it??
Sherlock spent the next hour in frantic energy--cleaning out the litter box, putting out fresh food and water and taking a quick shower and packing some things he thought Mycroft may want.
His toothbrush, a book, his phone charger…..oh he forgot. The phone was missing. Probably stolen by someone at the accident site. Well, they would have to get a new one. They were changing phones every couple of months anyway.
He tried to eat some breakfast while he was completing these tasks and Wild was trying to trip him up and kill him of course by weaving in and out of his legs the whole time.
Finally he gave in and picked her up and cuddled her a bit and rubbed her belly. She flopped arching backwards in his hands and purred in joy.
“Well done human!” She seemed to be saying. “This is what I keep you around for, remember?”
Oscar was of course far more grateful for the few short pats he got and yapped and jumped at his legs. But Sherlock was too distracted to spend a single minute more than needed and he was out and picking up the morning papers and then almost leaped into a taxi.
He HAD to get to Mycie before he woke up.
So of course there would be a traffic jam today…. and he sat there seething as the cab crawled through the streets. He reached after 45 minutes, to find Mycroft semi-reclining and looking disdainfully at the hospital breakfast with a very grim expression on his face.
As soon as he saw Sherlock his eyes softened.
“Lock …what is going on?? Why am I in New York??”
Sherlock was just so happy to see him sitting up and looking better that he kept all his things down and just went and hugged him.
“Easy easy!!” Mycroft said, looking taken aback.
Since when do we do hugs?? his expression seemed to say.
“Sorry!” Sherlock said half sobbing, half laughing. “You have no idea My…..how scared I was when….but never mind that now. Listen, you are Mark Willis and I am Ross Willis and we are civil partners and that is all you need to remember for now.”
“What?! Oh….is that why I have this ring?” Mycroft asked, holding up his left hand.
Sherlock blinked. Of course. Mycroft didn’t remember this either.
A deep dark pit of sheer horror opened up inside his chest.
“I will tell you all when we go home.”
“To London?” Mycroft asked with a frown.
Sherlock’s heart sank again. This was going to be way more difficult than he thought.
“Not for now.” He said, as calmly as he could. “We have a flat here.”
Mycroft’s eyebrows shot up. “Here? In Manhattan?! For how long have we been here?”
“Mycie we will talk about this when you get home, I promise! It’s complicated. For now, just concentrate on getting well soon.”
“Ok. Can I talk to Anthea now?”
“No!! No Mycie you can’t! We……no one knows we are here….I mean she knows of course but we can’t contact her. It could be dangerous.”
Mycroft’s expression changed suddenly. He was looking at the newspaper in Sherlock’s hand.
“Is this part of our props?”
“Props??” Sherlock was confused.
“Why does this have a future date? It should be August 2011. This says May 2014.”
“Mycie…….that’s because it IS May 2014.”
Mycroft sat very still. Sherlock could actually see his brain scrambling to make sense of all this. He waited for a minute. Two minutes.
“How long have I been here?” Mycroft asked in a quiet voice, stroking his beard, which was clearly more than an overnight stubble…and well- trimmed too.
“In hospital? Now coming up to 56 hours.”
Mycroft absorbed that information. Then he spoke again.
“And in New York?”
Sherlock took a deep breath. This was it.
“Since August 2011.”
“Does Mummy know?”
Mycroft tilted his head and looked at him.
“What does that even mean?! She is not Schrodinger’s cat to know and not know at the same time is she?”
Sherlock almost laughed in relief. It hadn’t all gone away then. It wasn’t severe brain damage. Probably just a concussion. Acute short term retrograde memory loss. It would come back.
It HAD to come back….
Sherlock sees the hospital bed from the other side and has a deeper understanding of just what he must have put Mycroft through during his difficult years.
By the fifth day Sherlock could sense that even Mycroft’s nearly infinite patience was running out. He was getting restless and the slightest bit snippy.
It was not completely surprising given that he had always been in charge and always known more about what was happening, what had happened and what was about to happen, than anyone else on this planet. Now he had suddenly been dropped into the great unknown without any warning, or any reason that he could fathom.
At least Mycroft had stopped asking him questions, accepting, albeit grudgingly, that he needed to trust Sherlock for now.
He still couldn’t remember to call him Ross and every time Sherlock addressed him as ‘Mark’ or ‘love’ or ‘honey’, he would flinch.
Sherlock could feel the dagger in his heart twist in a little deeper with every flinch.
How was Sherlock supposed to explain to him that the reason they had run away and were in hiding was because they were in love and this was the only way they could be together….when it was obvious that Mycroft had simply no memory of them being in a relationship?!
He rubbed his face in exhaustion as he thought of it, watching Oscar and Wild eat and run around merrily in the living room, blissfully unaware of the turmoil that was ripping the family apart.
How had Mycie done it for him year in and year out??
Run the country and been involved in so many global intrigues and still made time for Sherlock and his shenanigans and his drugs and all his other troubles.
Just five days in and Sherlock was wiped out, and he didn’t even have a job he had to do during the rest of the time!
He sent out a ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ into the universe, as had become his habit in the last few days.
He had taken his Mycie for granted. Again and again. He had also shattered the stability of his life time and time again, and finally taken it away altogether by making him give up his entire earlier life as he knew it. He was now paying the price for that.
Once he was done with these thoughts he would send out a plea too.
Please. He would say. That’s it. Just ‘please.’
He was too terrified to even articulate what he really wanted any more.
The next morning Mycroft took a psychometric test to check for evidence of concussion or brain damage. After a series of questions being asked in a monotone, the junior doctor also ran through a checklist:
“Do you Mr. Willis have any of these symptoms…..
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head.
- Temporary loss of consciousness.
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog.
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event.
- Dizziness or "seeing stars"
- Ringing in the ears.
Mycroft acidly answered “No” to each and paused for a second when asked about amnesia.
“No.” he said without a glance at Sherlock, standing by his side.
“Awright.” The doctor said disinterestedly. “And who is our President currently?”
Mycroft arched one eyebrow. “I young man have a Prime Minister and his name is David Cameron. And on the throne is our Queen, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second. Now if we have quite finished with the Spanish Inquisition--- no racial slur intended, merely quoting Monty Python---then I would really appreciate being discharged at once.”
The doctor looked at him utterly confused, as though his patient had suddenly sprouted green horns and was speaking in parseltongue. He also stood up a bit more straight as though sub-consciously responding to the British Government’s no –nonsense tone.
Sherlock stepped in smoothly. “My partner is a British citizen. He is fine, I assure you. I will be happy to take him home today and bring him back for the removal of the plaster as needed. I have also made arrangements for him to have the physiotherapy, I have had the flat modified to help him move around and …” he held up a bag full of pill bottles. “Here are all his meds.”
Mycroft listened to Sherlock speak in this mature and responsible way and felt something strange inside his heart. He was proud of him. He had always known he would be amazing.
He had been behaving so…what was the word? Like Mycroft belonged to him and he knew it? Like he would take care of him and gladly? Possessive? No that sounded more aggressive than this gentle and fond and almost intimate feeling he was sensing.
Loving? His brain supplied helpfully but Mycroft batted it away. That was ridiculous. Why would Sherlock behave ‘loving’ when they were clearly just undercover for some case.
He looked at Sherlock’s face as he was discussing the follow up and care needed and clarifying about the meds and just then Sherlock glanced at him. There it was again.
That odd flash of something in his eyes. Something melancholy. A sense of loss. Something profoundly woebegone that hurt Mycroft’s heart.
What had happened to make his little brother so sad?
The last five days had left Mycroft more discombobulated that he had ever been in his entire life.
No. Correct that. Only the second time in his entire life.
The first was when he had realized he loved Sherlock not just as a brother but felt a desire for him that was immoral, sinful, filthy and despicable.
He had spent weeks trying to get rid of the feeling, then getting rid of the guilt, then getting rid of the self- loathing….only to fail in all.
He still loved Sherlock. He still desired him, still felt guilty and still hated himself for it.
And now this?? This utterly ridiculous undercover role with them as ‘civil partners’?
They were barely able to be civil to each other as brothers even!
And oh, if Sherlock knew how he felt about him, he would never ever have agreed to this. He would have been repulsed, disgusted, mortified….…instead he had hugged him! That day when Sherlock had hugged him, all Mycroft wanted to do was hug him back, this oasis of familiarity in the middle of the great unknown….he wanted to hold him in his arms and never let him go….but he could not do that !
He was adrift. A lonely iceberg of ignorance in the black infinite seas of darkness.
He had no anchor, no beacon, no North Star. He was unable to access either his phone or Anthea or Mummy and he had no idea how to orient himself on this new path.
To make matters worse, the only one who could give him any answers was resolutely refusing to.
Come home was the answer to everything.
So today was the day.
Apparently they were going ‘home.’
Mycroft had no idea what to expect as he hobbled up with his crutch, Sherlock at his side, solicitous, careful…. but not making any eye contact, hovering next to him and suddenly Mycroft snapped.
“Stop coddling me Lock! I am not made of glass!! Just show me the way and I will get there.”
The very next instant his heart broke at the sight of Sherlock’s face, who looked as though he had been slapped. Sherlock looked utterly stricken and….were those tears in his eyes??
Bloody hell Mycroft what have you done.
“I am sorry! I am so sorry Lock. Please forgive me! It’s just….too much for me to handle. Five days in a hospital, now these crutches and I still have NO idea why I am here, why YOU are here, what is going on …..Please Sherlock. I shouldn’t have snapped at you. In fact….” He took a deep breath. “I am amazed and grateful at the way you have been taking care of me. I …I am sorry? So sorry!! Lock? Please?” Mycroft was aware that he was almost begging now but he didn’t care.
He had never been able to see Sherlock in pain and to be the cause of it?!!
To have his own words make his face crumple like that?!!
Oh he would flay himself and walk barefoot on hot coals in repentance.
Sherlock sniffed and blinked and said with a watery smile. “It’s ok My. You have been such a good patient…. under the circumstances. In fact I should apologize for keeping you in the dark. I hope that you will forgive me.”
Mycroft found himself suddenly unable to say anything in response and was glad that they had reached the front door of what appeared to be ‘their’ flat since Sherlock was now taking out a bunch of keys from his pocket.
Mycroft steeled himself, not sure what to expect beyond the door as it swung open.
Whatever it was that he had imagined, it had certainly not included animals…Dear god! he thought to himself. A dog AND a cat?!!
What will emerge next? Badgers? Sheep? The Loch Ness Monster?
Both the animals made a beeline for Sherlock and the cat practically climbed onto his jeans leg as Sherlock yelped in pain.
“Ow!! Wild stop it!!” He said as he disentangled her claws from his jeans, picked her up and put her on his shoulder.
“Come in My….Um… Welcome home.” Sherlock said, an odd anxious look in his eyes.
Mycroft hobbled in and took a look around.
This was decent. Nothing like his home in London of course but decent.
They were on the 8th floor and large windows were letting in the late afternoon light giving a golden glow to the living room. He noted the few pieces of art on the walls, the deep rich colours of the furnishings.
His eyes went to the bookcase taking up almost an entire wall. Full of books.
They had lived here for three years.
He let Sherlock guide him to the chair so he could sit. Sherlock had one hand around his waist, so casually, like they fit together. So easily…. like they did this a lot.
Mycroft was glad for the crutches which made it difficult for him to have to reciprocate with any gesture. He had a wild thought of being able to what they did in the movies---- just fling the clutches in the air, hold Sherlock’s hand and embrace him …..and kiss him.
He felt his face flush at the thought.
Sherlock noticed. Of course he did.
“You must be tired from all that moving around lov……” Sherlock bit off that last word.
Remember damn you he cursed himself. Mycroft does not remember this. Don’t make him uncomfortable. “Let me make you a cup of tea and then I will show you where your things are.” He continued.
“Oh and then you can meet the children properly.” Sherlock said as he walked into the kitchen.
Mycroft just stared at his retreating back, too staggered to even blink.
Had he just said meet the children??
Mycroft goes clueing for looks. It's not easy.
Mycroft wasn’t sure if he was relieved or even more terrified that the ‘children’ turned out to be the dog and cat.
Obviously they couldn’t possibly have had biological children of their own but for a moment there he thought that maybe Sherlock was losing his grip on reality.
Maybe he was the one who was lost and Mycroft had got him here to take care of him or some such crazy thing.
But no, it turned out that Mark and Ross Willis were proud and indulgent parents to Oscar and Wild.
He couldn’t stop his grin when he heard their names. Sounds like he and Sherlock had actually been having fun together.
A civil partnership. Children.
He just could not get over that piece of information.
3 years was over a 1000 days.
It was 26,280 hours and 156 weekends.
What in heaven’s name had they been doing in each other’s company for so long??
And what the hell was going on in London in his absence?
Sherlock had shown him some files and folders filled with bizarre documents. Job contracts, tax papers, medical insurance, rent receipts.
What in buggering hell had possessed him to take up a job as an auditor??
A full time job. To go every week day and work in an office.
Someone else’s office.
He even had to apply for leave when he wanted time off apparently. Crazy.
Sherlock said he had submitted the application when he was admitted in the hospital. He was now eligible for leave on full pay for 6 weeks and then had the option of working from home.
Be on leave for 6 weeks??! 42 days without work? It was a recipe for madness.
He and Sherlock would be squabbling by the end of 42 hours…
He wondered if this was a particularly lucid dream or hallucination brought on by some drug that Sherlock had given him as an experiment.
He felt as though he was trying to grasp at smoke with his bare hands. None of this was making any more sense now that he was ‘home.’
Then at dinner time, when some pasta sauce had smeared to his cheek, Sherlock had just wiped it off with a soft smile, without missing a beat, in mid –conversation.
As though it was permitted for them to touch each other like that, easily, casually.
His breath had hitched at the touch and he had flinched. He had seen Sherlock freeze, his eyes going wide.
“Don’t!” Mycroft said as he saw that Sherlock was about to apologize. “Please Sherlock, you don’t have to walk on eggshells around me. It isn’t your fault that I cannot remember. It is bad enough that I am this….useless cripple who is dependent on you physically and also apparently mentally…….at least allow me to not add to your burden emotionally.”
He paused. “It seems to me that we do emotions now apparently.”
Sherlock pushed his chair back and fled to the kitchen mumbling something about needing to wash his hands. He stood by the sink and sobbed silently, unable to understand how he was going to solve this.
Was it ever going to get solved??
What the hell was he to do if his lover never came back?
Mycroft sat at the dining table, unsure of what he had said that was so upsetting but intensely aware that Sherlock had left to be away from him.
Meewrrr came a tiny roar around his ankle region.
Wild was giving him a look, which if he was given to such flights of fancy and indulging in anthropomorphism, he would have said was an angry look. Then she turned around haughtily and left, tail in the air, radiating intense displeasure from every fibre.
Woah. Looked like he was in someone’s bad books now.
As he sat there, unable to continue eating, reluctant to leave in case Sherlock came back and that made him feel worse, he decided to try and make some deductions.
For the hundredth time in five days.
To see if he could glean the smallest needle of sense from the haystack of bizarre facts.
Clue number 1: He had lost the last 3 years of his memory. That was true. It was 2014. It said so on the newspaper. Every day for the last few days. He had asked the nurse to get him different newspapers for three days until he had to finally accept that this was indeed the reality and not a spectacularly elaborate hoax.
It was explained by the head trauma. ‘Acute onset retrograde short term memory loss.’ The doctor had said.
Short term?! Bah. Three years was not that short on the scale of a human adult lifespan from 20-80 years. Gone.
He snapped his fingers. Just like that. 2011-2014 was gone. He suppressed a shiver of alarm that ran down his spine. Dozens of countries could be re-made and undone in that much time. So many wars started and averted. So many dictators deposed, so many democratic elections held.
Did England still have a Queen? He almost started sweating at the thought that….…but Sherlock hadn’t corrected him at the hospital…so maybe they still did.
Clue number 2: He could not access his phone or Anthea or anyone in London apparently, including their parents.
That made absolutely no sense…..unless…Sherlock had killed someone….someone important? Someone from the Royal Family? And they had fled the country because there was no other way for Mycroft to protect him.
He ruminated on that for a while. It could make sense.
Maybe that is why Sherlock was refusing to explain why they were here.
Clue number 3: He and Sherlock really did live together and had the flat and the papers to prove it. It was still not clear to him why.
He could have helped Sherlock escape but surely it was better that he stayed in London and helped get Sherlock exonerated and then back somehow?? Why had he fled the country with him?
Hell in a teacup!! Was he somehow an accomplice in the crime?
He must be otherwise why would it be dangerous for him to contact Anthea? And maybe that is why Mummy knew and also didn’t know about them.
They were fugitives from justice.
Clue number 4: They had been together long enough to acquire ‘children’.
Said progeny were occupying the living room right now, so that was real. One of them was currently mad at him for reasons he could not quite understand. That felt almost too real.
He had no idea what to make of this clue. It made him feel decidedly odd. So he decided to set it aside for now.
Clue number 5: They were ……what were they??
His brain came to a grinding halt here.
It refused to process it although he could hear the words swirling inside his head. It was mind blowing and un-believable but Sherlock was behaving with him as though they were real partners. Civil partners. A married couple.
The matching rings they wore. The way Sherlock found it difficult to stop calling him love and sweetheart. The way he had slipped his arm around his waist when he helped him in.
It wasn’t just in public for the sake of their ‘cover.’ It was here. At home, in their private space. The way he had wiped the sauce off his cheek just now.
Were they….were they truly lovers??
What in the actual FUCK!! Mycroft swore in his mind.
Probably only the 4th time he had used this expletive in his entire life. Even inside his head.
By this time it was obvious that Sherlock wasn’t going to return to the dining table any time soon so Mycroft hauled himself up and started to make his way to the bedroom.
But of course Sherlock must have heard that sound and swiftly came back out of the kitchen, with barely hidden signs of having been crying a few minutes ago.
“Just got some dishwashing soap in my eye.” he said as he helped Mycroft get up by moving his chair out of the way and guided him to the bedroom.
Mycroft had avoided going in till now, resting on the sofa when he needed to.
But now? At night? Where else was he going to sleep?
Sherlock was speaking in a very calm, almost detached way as he opened the closets and showed him where his clothes were.
They had separate closets, thanks goodness Mycroft thought, while simultaneously processing his wardrobe. Anything to avoid looking at the double bed that was taking up almost all the space in the bedroom. From the corner of his eye he could see that it was large and seemed rather comfortable and ……
Crikey!! What kind of clothes was he wearing now??
He had three ties in the entire cupboard. The thought almost gave him chest pain. Three. Only three ties. And only one suit.
Everything else seemed to be casual shirts, khakis, jeans, even some pairs of shorts and a few T shirts. Off the rack?! Wow. He really was deep undercover that much was for sure. He could have passed off as one of Sherlock’s Irregulars. Honestly.
Who from his former life would ever recognize him in these??
Sherlock was taking out pajamas for him and making the bed and saying things. “This is your softest pair and you like it. Let me help you with it and then I will arrange the pillows so that you can turn to your side at night if it gets uncomfortable on your back.”
He paused. “I will keep the bedroom door open so I can hear you if you call me at night. Please don’t try to go to the bathroom without assistance. If you break your other leg I will really have a tough time helping you out!”
Sherlock gave a wan smile, as if not sure whether this attempt at humour would be appreciated.
Mycroft smiled. “Thanks for the warning! But…”he hesitated. “Won’t you also sleep here …I mean…isn’t it your bed too….…our …”
“No!” Sherlock shook his head, those tears threatening again. “I won’t be able to….”
And he had to flee the room again.
Mycroft wanted nothing more than to go after him, wrap his arms around him and kiss him. But how could he when he had absolutely no recollection of having ever had the permission to do it? When he was still in the dark about why they were even here? When he had no idea what tomorrow would bring?
Sherlock came back within five minutes, composed and with a frozen look on his face that precluded any conversation. He wordlessly helped Mycroft into his pajamas and guided him to the bathroom.
Then he went to the living room to pay attention to the children. He had neglected them woefully over the past five days!
“Come to Papa.” Sherlock said as he patted his lap and Oscar jumped on and snuggled in. Wild was already curled up on his stomach as he lay half reclined on the sofa. “Don’t trouble Daddy tonight ok?” He murmured to them. “He is in pain and tired and he needs his sleep.”
Mycroft had been on his way back from the bathroom and heard this murmured dialogue and almost lost his balance and fell down.
Daddy??! He was Daddy and Sherlock was Papa??
He could understand being undercover to the world outside but inside the house?
Single bedrooms, double bed, children, co-parenting.
Why?? What in the blazing hell fires was going on??
If only they could read each other's minds....but the masks are on and the hearts are being buried for fear of being hurt.
Later that night Sherlock woke up with a start when Wild jumped on his stomach.
He cuddled her and stroked her belly and smiled at the delicious purr that made him rumble. As the fog of sleep lifted a bit he wondered why he was on the sofa and then he remembered.
Mycroft was home!!
The flat which had haunted him with its emptiness for the last five nights was now suffused with a warmth that was mostly inside his heart.
He could do this.
If Mycroft was alive and well it was good enough.
Of course it would be vastly better if he remembered their relationship….. but Sherlock was willing to give it time.
And then a thought occurred to him which made his stomach drop and his heart freeze over.
But would Mycroft be willing??!
What if he decided that he would rather go back to London than stay here with Sherlock?
He got up in a panic at that thought and padded into the bedroom to look at his lover’s face.
He saw him, fast asleep, perhaps even snoring a bit, turned to one side, blanket thrown off. Sherlock shook his head fondly and went over to pick up the blanket and cover him. He gazed upon that beloved face in the glow of the night lamp.
I love you so much! He thought for the millionth time in the last few days.
You are my Sun, moon and stars Mycroft. You are the breath in my lungs and the beat in my heart.
You will come back to me. I know you will. You HAVE to!
He bent down to give him a fleeting kiss. On the forehead. And then he left before his tears could spill onto his face and wake him up.
Good heavens. He had cried more in this week than he had in his entire life he thought as he went back to the sofa and managed to curl up into a ball, in imitation of Wild and fell asleep again.
The next morning found Sherlock awake at the crack of dawn.
He took Oscar out for a morning run and then came back and showered.
He kept the tea things ready for Mycroft, made some preparations for their breakfast and then sat down to do some writing work while his mind was fresh.
However after staring at the word document on the screen for half an hour with zero inspiration, he decided to give it up.
Instead he pulled up a folder with a few clicks. An encrypted, password protected folder of course. Which would never be connected to any cloud or uploaded to any other device that anyone else could access.
He had one curated folder within that folder.
He clicked it open and started to browse the photos, lingering on some of them, smiling at them, absorbing them.
Oh look---this was the picnic they had had at that railroad site. He remembered how excited Mycie had been to discover the High Line. They had bought a dozen bottles of different types of vinegar from the closed market.
And here was the day they first moved into this flat. They had celebrated with a candlelight dinner. Mycie had baked Sherlock his favourite roast and Sherlock had bought Mycie his favourite salted caramel ice cream. Here they were in this silly selfie, sitting on the sofa all cuddled up, bowls of ice cream in their hands.
That train ride to Boston to visit the Harvard Library. Mycroft had refused to go to Washington DC as a tourist. ‘We have to stay away from such places Lock. Someone there may recognize me.’ So they had decided to visit Boston. Mycroft had loved the Widener library of course though he had informed the local guide that while 3.5 million books was a fairly impressive number, the Bodleian at Oxford had 12 million.
Sherlock smiled at that memory. He had pulled Mycroft to the men’s room there and snogged him silly for being just so British and pompous about the whole thing and when Mycroft had been offended at being laughed at, Sherlock had mussed his hair. Mycroft had looked at him with such annoyance that Sherlock was genuinely worried about getting punched.
Fortunately Mycroft had seen the funny side and agreed that he had gone a bit colonizer on the poor guide and then they had gone to eat ice cream and not bothered to go back into the library after all.
Oh here was one with them on the open top bus doing the city tour.
And here was one which Mycie had taken of him sleeping with Oscar and Wild the first night their children had come home.
His new family.
With his beloved Mycie.
The next morning here they were, all curled up in bed showing off their new rings in this selfie. He remembered what had followed that photo…..the passion which had built up in an instant and the searing kisses that Mycroft had given him then, pinning him down, calling him ‘Mine!’ in a husky voice, even the memory of which made his stomach swoop.
How could he make Mycroft remember??
This beautiful life they had built together, brick upon brick of sweet memories….what could he do…..
He was so engrossed in looking at the photos of their new life together that he almost missed the sounds of Mycroft waking up. He hastily shut down the laptop and went to find him.
“Good morning My…croft.” He said with a smile, the pleasure of seeing Mycroft here, within arm’s reach, more than making up for the deep ache inside his heart.
Oh Mycie! We haven’t woken up without a kiss in almost 3 years now. And today I have to wish you from ten feet away, as if you were a flatmate and not my lover. As if I had never tasted your lips and never heard your moans and never left a scratch on your delicious freckled back. As if you had never woken me up at night to make love to me and as if I have never pulled you into the shower with me.
“Hmm? Yes?” He said, brought back to earth because Mycroft was asking him something.
“Did you sleep well?” Mycroft asked, hesitating. Not sure he wanted to open with this topic but he had felt terribly guilty that Sherlock had not been able to sleep in the bed because he was there. “The sofa couldn’t have been very comfortable.” He added, delicately.
“Oh I am fine!” Sherlock said breezily.
You have never let me sleep on the sofa in three years My. Not once. Even when I fought with you and sulked and tried to sleep on the sofa, you would come and try to make me smile and you would say sorry even when it was my fault. You would plead with me and kiss me and sleep on me and finally tickle me till I gave up and both of us would fall off the sofa laughing and then you would take me back to bed.
Every single night.
“The sofa is really comfortable. Sit. Let me get tea for you.” He said as he went into to the kitchen.
Mycroft hobbled towards the dining table. He couldn’t really pull up a chair and sit down without help. This was so extremely frustrating.
He hated being helpless. He hated being dependent. And most of all he hated the fact that Sherlock had to look after him!
It was all wrong!
It was his role to look after Sherlock! Not the other way around.
And here he was now, a burden, with a blank mind and somehow managing to hurt Sherlock with every other word he uttered. He hadn’t missed the way Sherlock’s eyes had shuttered when he spoke about the sofa.
Sherlock may be able to lie to the whole world but not to Mycroft. It was killing Mycroft to know that Sherlock was lying to keep him happy. He was withholding things to prevent Mycroft from being hurt.
This had to stop.
Let them eat some breakfast and then he was going to sort this out. They simply could not go on like this.
Maybe he could move out to a hotel till they figured out what to do next?
His fingers were itching to get hold of his laptop. Surely he could find a way into the MI6 system. He still had plenty of agents who owed him big time.
And unless Sherlock had killed the Queen herself, there HAD to be a way for him to find a way back to London. For both of them.
He wasn’t sure if he could endure one more day in Manhattan than was absolutely needed.
It was all wrong. Everything.
The skyline. The weather. The smell of the city. The colour of the cabs. The accent.
He wanted to see Westminster Abbey. He wanted to see the Big Ben. He wanted to hear the voices of his fellow countrymen and he wanted BBC 4 not BBC America!!
He wanted his car and he needed to be able to talk to Anthea.
This whole thing was an enormous nightmare of cosmic proportions.
Somehow every single thing that was precious to him had been taken away.
Every. Single. Thing.
And then Sherlock came in with a tray filled with breakfast things and Mycroft was forced to amend his rant.
No. Not every single thing.
On balance, if the Universe asked him to give up ALL those things and have Sherlock by his side, in whatever weird and freaky scenario they seemed to be currently playing out, he had no doubt whatsoever that he would choose Sherlock.
Even if he was a Queen slayer.
Mycroft stared at the plate Sherlock slid in front of him.
French toast. With whipped cream and strawberries.
Was he still dreaming?!! Was he allowed this?
He could smell cinnamon and the sight of this was making his mouth water.
He looked up at Sherlock, a stricken expression on his face.
Sherlock was smiling at him softly although that worried look was still lurking in his eyes.
“This is your favourite breakfast. I make it for you as a treat. On special occasions.”
“And my being an amnesiac cripple is the special occasion today.” Mycroft said waspishly, before he could stop himself, more to himself than as a rebuke to Sherlock.
Sherlock blinked. “No Mycroft. You being alive is a special occasion.”
You being mine is a special occasion. And I wish I could sit on your lap and feed you, the way I used to. But today I will sit all the way across the table and you will eat using a fork and knife. And I will NOT cry. Because you are here, you are alive and you are still in front of my eyes.
And that is not ANY reason to cry.
“Sorry.” Mycroft mumbled. “I am just terrible at being……”
“Looked after?” Sherlock said with a laugh. “Yeah, I can see that! Better get used to it because it is going to be six weeks before we get your plaster off. Sorry that you will be stuck with me for the duration but we will find a way around it.”
Sherlock shrugged, going on talking as he ate his breakfast. “I can sit in the living room for my writing and you can have the office room to work in. I have ordered a Zimmer frame for you so that you can move around independently at home. There is a footrest you can use under the desk and if you would prefer not to see me at all during the day, I can keep your lunch ready in the kitchen and you can help yourself to it whenever you want. We don’t have to eat all meals together you know.”
Mycroft was just staring at him.
Was this Sherlock speaking? His bratty thoughtless younger brother?? Sherlock? Who didn’t care for anyone, who never bothered with regular meals and who would never ever give up his favourite chair let alone an entire office room.
He had definitely slipped into an alternate universe and he expected to hear the odd thrum of the Tardis as it landed here anytime now.
This simply couldn’t be real could it??
Through all this chatter inside his brain, he had picked up on the one thing that rang a bell somewhere far away.
“Your writing?” He asked Sherlock.
There was something about this which he ought to know.
It was dancing around at the edge of his memory. A sheaf of paper. A smile. A name. A handshake.
“And of course I don’t want to avoid you all day !! This is your…our… flat…..home.” Mycroft stumbled over his words.
And why would I not want to be near you if this is being handed to me on a platter?!! I love you Sherlock, in ways that a brother should not. I wish we could really sleep next to each other, and wake up together and I wish you could sit in my lap and feed me instead of being so far away….but it is wrong! This is wrong.
I have no idea why you are behaving in this way towards me. It must be the effect of you not having anyone else here. You are forced to be good to me because you don’t have anyone else.
Oh yes!! You probably have ‘Stockholm syndrome’!
More likely ‘StockHolmes’ syndrome he thought ruefully.
That was it.
That had to be it.
It was a psychological condition. It could be treated.
After all, Sherlock couldn’t possibly be really in love with him, could he ?!!
That was just pure madness.
Taking it one day at a time is good way to start.
As soon as Mycroft asked him about his writing a flash went off in Sherlock’s brain!!
Of course!! What had he been thinking?!
He needed to find Jason and find out what Mycroft was doing at the place where he had the accident and where he had dropped his draft manuscript.
“Ok, great, great.” Sherlock said, now in a hurry to leave. “Listen, I need to get some groceries done urgently. Here.” And he pulled out the chair and helped Mycroft to sit. “I will be back in ten minutes. Will you be ok?”
“Yes, of course…”Mycroft started to say but Sherlock had already rushed off to get his coat and was out of the door.
Oscar barked madly after him, clearly unsettled by this mad rush he had gone off in. Wild just lifted her head from where she was lying on the windowsill and fixed Mycroft with her stare.
“I see you.” She seemed to be saying. “You are bothering my human. Again. I have eyes on you Mister. Watch out.” And she went back to sleep.
Mycroft ate his breakfast in silence, veering between awe at Sherlock’s cooking, utter bewilderment that Sherlock cooked for him, and a slightly growing worry that this cat meant business and that the next time Sherlock was upset, she was going to do something drastic to him.
He wondered if he should practise some swings with his crutch just to defend himself in case of an attack.
Meanwhile Oscar was standing on his hind legs, paws on Mycroft’s good leg, begging for scraps. Mycroft was reluctant to bargain away even one morsel of that delicious toast but he figured that if it came to war, he might want at least one of the children to be on his side.
The British Government policy of divide and rule had worked rather well for them during the days of the Raj.
Which reminded him, he needed to get hold of his laptop and maybe take a shower and …he needed to make a list. He had to be his own Anthea now, he sighed. She always had a list.
- Get laptop
- Make a plan
Yeah, number three was going to be a tough one to manage. He had no clue of their financial or legal situation, and now he was trapped here for at least 6 weeks at the bare minimum. Oh well, stiff upper lip, what ho and all that. He needed to get a grip on himself and not let Sherlock down. He could do better. He had to do better.
He had to keep calm and carry on.
Sherlock had gone off almost at a run to the soup kitchen three blocks away to find out when Jason was likely to turn up.
Apparently he was expected that same evening. That was good news.
Sherlock almost ran back before he remembered he had mentioned groceries. So he stopped by at the local deli and picked up some fresh bread, milk and eggs and some apples.
He came in to find that Mycroft seemed to have literally licked his plate clean from the looks of it. He grinned and looked at Oscar. He was looking smug and guilty and a bit too dopey for this time of the day.
“Did you feed Oscar some scraps My—croft?! He is a rascal. I just fed him before you woke up! Watch out for this one. Who is Papa’s greedy boy now??! Who is he?!!” Sherlock said as he squatted next to him and roughhoused with him till Oscar was going mad with excitement, barking and nipping at him and jumping on him till they were both just rolling on the floor.
Mycroft was watching in a daze as he saw Sherlock playing with Oscar, laughing and happy.
He had had this for three years??!
Three entire years??
This Sherlock? Happy, loving, responsible?
What the hell had caused this transformation?
Eventually Sherlock got off the floor and dusted himself off, still laughing at Oscar.
After an initial one-eyed look at the proceedings, Wild had chosen to ignore this childish behaviour and continued to sleep on the windowsill. Princesses did not do rough and tumble. Even if they were wild. Clearly someone needed to maintain standards in this household.
“Ugh. Need to vacuum the place today. It’s been more than a week.” Sherlock looked at Mycroft and smiled. “So, since you are willing to tolerate my company for the day, I shall make your favourite soup and salad for lunch and we can watch something on TV if you like. When we take a break. I suppose you want to work on your laptop this morning after you are done with a shower?”
Mycroft nodded smiling. His genius brother. Of course he knew exactly what he wanted.
“Yes please. Although I don’t know how I can….”
“Don’t worry, I have got you a metal chair and a footrest to use and a railing fixed to the shower stall. I will help you in and out.” Sherlock hesitated. “I suppose you can manage inside can’t you?”
I could help you if you want but it will kill me to see you like that and not be able to touch you the way we used to. But if you want….if you need….
“No, I think I can manage once I am inside. At least I can try to.” Mycroft said, sounding more hopeful than confident.
While he was taking a shower Sherlock had cleared his desk and kept Mycroft’s laptop there.
He would sit on the sofa today. In any case inspiration had been lacking. Maybe he would just do some background researches today.
Mycroft sat at the desk half an hour later, staring at this unfamiliar laptop. He switched it on. It was password protected. Of course it was.
Should he ask Sherlock? Should he try to figure it out?
Of course when he started thinking about it, it was rather obvious wasn’t it?
He typed in S H E R L O C K.
He looked out of the door to the office room and saw Sherlock sitting on the sofa, engrossed in his work. He never did tell him about his writing he realized. He should ask again when they break for lunch.
He smiled at the warm feeling that seeped through him whenever he looked at Sherlock. If it wasn’t for the fact that his leg was broken and he was clueless about what was going on, this could actually be his dream come true, he thought.
Sherlock with him. Just the two of them. In a home of their own.
I love you Sherlock he thought again. I love you so much. And it is so wrong! What have I done to deserve this love that you seem to be showering me with right now?
He looked back at the screen. Of course.
The best passwords were pass’phrases’ not pass ‘words’.
I. L O V E. S H E R L O C K
His laptop came to life.
Sitting on the sofa, Sherlock heard the starting up sound and smiled to himself.
That was a good beginning. 5 minutes only.
Mycie was a smart one indeed.
While Mycroft is trying to separate the real from what feels un-real, Sherlock is busy solving other mysteries.
The day had passed fairly quickly, now that both of them seemed to have taken a decision to move beyond the hurt and anxiety and just ride this wave.
One day at a time.
Mycroft was feeling less on edge. Sherlock was feeling less vulnerable.
Mycroft had spent the entire morning catching up on news from the UK.
He was slightly disappointed to find that the world had not actually fallen apart in his absence. Huh. That was odd.
Oh well, he soothed his bruised ego. He had done a great job of training Anthea of course.
She had not replaced him in the job because even she knew that as a double agent she could not take that risk. However, she had got herself re-assigned to the PM Office and seemed to be doing a stellar job advising the Cabinet.
Sherlock made a most welcome cup of tea for him at 11 am and served it with some cookies.
“The local bakery.” He said, in explanation.
Wow. They had a local bakery now. And these cookies were really good.
Mycroft spent the next hour or so looking into his ‘work’ files, with the horribly boring and tedious audit reports and columns and rows of numbers.
What level of desperation had made him choose this job??
But he did appreciate the logic behind it. It was a good cover.
He had lunch with Sherlock and they chatted about Oscar and Wild. Sherlock told him how they had acquired them and all the stories of their quirks.
But I can’t tell you what happened later that night. At least you are still wearing the ring despite not remembering. Thank you. I do wish you would remember though….you looked so happy when I proposed to you and it turned out that you had got rings to do exactly that! Two years to the day, from the time we left London, we promised ourselves to each other. For an eternity together. Not that promises were needed really. From the moment I realized I was in love with you, that evening, as you stood in front of me….oh a lifetime ago now…..and I saw you…really and truly saw you….I was yours forever.
Till death do us apart.
And possibly not even then.
Once the plates were cleared away, as Sherlock was helping him get up from his chair, Mycroft asked. “So, Sherlock, tell me more about your writing.”
There is some clue there. Something my brain is trying to grasp. Help me.
“Oh it’s nothing My. Just something to keep me occupied while you were away at work. The only thing I was good at was solving crimes. There was no way I could work in an office and be with people all day long the way you have been able to ….. and since we came here…..um….undercover, it seemed best that I stay indoors.”
Mycroft could see the sense in that but he was curious to know more about the writing. And why they were undercover.
But maybe not today. Because what if on finding out the answer he could no longer be with Sherlock? No. He didn't want this to end. Not today. Possibly not ever.
He could wait for the answers.
“It’s been a long morning for me.” Mycroft said, suddenly feeling exhausted. “Maybe I will rest for a bit?”
So he rested for a couple of hours while Sherlock worked on his background research.
When he woke up, of course Sherlock had kept tea and sandwiches ready for him. Cucumber sandwiches.
Now Mycroft thought he was going to cry!
Sherlock was trying so hard and being so good to him. He wished he could just pull him on his lap and kiss him….but surely Sherlock would be revolted by that.
How could he not be?!
He really needed to get to the bottom of this relationship mystery. It was going to kill him otherwise!
“Thank you Sherlock. These are my favourite!”
“I know.” Sherlock said with a smile. “I am just going out for a walk now. Will be back in an hour. I would have taken Oscar but………”
“No, no! Don’t!” Mycroft said suddenly. “Don’t leave me alone with the cat.”
Sherlock blinked, processed what he had said and then doubled up with laughter.
“What?! Seriously Mycie?!” He snorted when he got his breath back. “The British Government is being terrorized by a cat?!!”
“That look she gives me is scary!” Mycroft said, smiling despite himself. “Honestly!”
Sherlock was still erupting with laughter and shaking his head as he wore his coat.
“Oscar, be a good boy and protect Daddy ok?”
And then he was gone.
Mycroft thought he would never get used to that word and to the way his heart lurched every time he heard Sherlock say it.
He quickly hobbled to the sofa. He had an hour to do his fact- finding. Maybe less. He would do it in under 30 minutes just in case Sherlock came back early.
He sat on the sofa with a huff, picked up Sherlock’s laptop and opened it.
His own laptop had proved to be utterly boring and useless….unless he had another air-gapped one hidden away in some locker, which had all the information. Surely Sherlock’s would have something he could use to help understand what was going on!
Oh dear. Password protected. Of course.
Could it possibly be a mirror of his own? He didn’t dare hope but he typed out
But imagine if…? And he allowed himself a minute to daydream. Did Sherlock ever really think that? How could he possibly….Sigh. His beautiful adorable Sherlock. Enchanting. Delightful. Even when being a royal pain he thought with a fond smile. Three years? He would gladly spend thirty years with him. Three hundred years. More. An eternity.
But how could it be possible that Sherlock would want the same?? There MUST be some catch. Some compulsion. Some threat.
He tried another password.
Pets were common passwords, but surely Sherlock knew how easy they were to hack?!
Still…he tried. These were apparently their children after all, not just pets.
Hmm…what else would Sherlock say to anyone trying to access his laptop?
He paused. This wasn’t working.
Ugh. What is it brother mine? I can’t….
Yes of course! Worth a try?
No….ok one last try or he would not have enough time to check the contents even if he did get in.
And it blinked and started.
Mycroft stared at the screen as it switched on.
The screensaver was of the two of them kissing.
It was a selfie, and the angle was odd and they seemed to be on a Ferris Wheel of some kind. But yes. It was them and yes they were kissing.
On the lips.
And there was only a single folder on the desktop which said ‘Hello Mycroft.’
Of course. Sherlock had fully anticipated that he would hack in. He was waiting for it in fact.
So he opened the folder and looked at the 50 or so photos that the folder contained.
All the images had both of them in various poses of intimacy and togetherness, the comfort and depth of their relationship radiating from each photo.
They were holding each other, they were touching each other. All the time. They looked so pleased and content and that expression in Sherlock’s eyes when he was looking at him…..what could it be other than love?!
The thought was enough to make his heart race and try to hammer its way out of his ribcage.
This was every dream of his come true.
The most desperate longing of the deepest corner of his beating heart. That secret room in his Mind Palace where he lived with Sherlock, worshipping him, loving him. Possessing him. And even in that secret room, that sanctum sanctorum, all that he had allowed himself for all these years had been one kiss. That is all. As a token. A symbol. A covenant.
Just one kiss.
But according to these photos they seem to have had that and much more….then how come he had absolutely no recollection of any of these things……
Oh! Could they have been photo-shopped?
Or was it like one of those old movies…. like Gaslight? Had Anthea turned Sherlock and now they were both trying to make him go mad as part of some KGB plot?!
He pondered that for a while. It was plausible. That explained a lot of the cloak and dagger bit ….but would Sherlock pretend to be his lover?!
That seemed really over the top for such a plot….and for THREE years?!
No. It didn’t really make sense.
While Mycroft was busy trying to solve the mystery of the possibly photo-shopped photos and his possibly unreal reality, Sherlock was talking to Jason at the soup kitchen.
“Don’t know what he was doing there Shez but he went into this building and came out after half an hour.” Jason told him as he pocketed the 100 dollar bill that Sherlock had handed him and showed him a photo on his phone.
”Poppy said he looked pretty happy when he came out and just stepped out on the street looking at the wrong side. Got knocked over by the taxi. Dropped that bag of papers. Poppy says she called 911 from your man’s mobile but then the phone fell down and got lost.” Jason snorted to convey what he thought of that piece of information.
Sherlock shrugged. The phone didn’t matter now that he had an address.
He thanked him and was about to leave when he saw someone he recognized also leaving the serving area. Many of the people were greeting her with nods and smiles and some waves as she left.
Wasn’t she the nurse from the hospital? What a coincidence….. Sherlock thought. And instantly panicked.
What did Mycie always say about coincidences?!
Good heavens!! Was she a spy??
Was their secret out?
The universe is really not lazy :)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
She seemed to have reached a similar but far less hostile conclusion when she caught his eye and gave him a wide smile.
“Hey!! Aren’t you the one from the hospital? Your man had the road traffic accident? What a coincidence! Surprised to see you here.”
Sherlock looked at her with narrowed eyes. “Yes, I could say the same.”
She raised one eyebrow at his tone. “Now then young man, don’t you take that tone with me! The people here aren’t good enough for the likes of you?”
Something about the glint in her eye reminded him of Mummy.
“Nope.” He said with a frown. “On the contrary. I have….people I know here. What are you…”
“I serve here every other week on my day off. Been doing it for the last 6 years mind you.”
Ok…that did reduce the possibility of her being a spy. The others seemed to know her too. Even Jason had given a sort of wave acknowledging her. And she had been very kind and helpful when he had been on the verge of a breakdown at the hospital, more than once, on seeing Mycroft hurt and then so lost....But still….
“And how did you know I was going to be here?” Sherlock demanded, still not convinced.
She stopped right in front of him and put her hands on her hips.
“Are you interrogating me?! You are worse than the police! Do you really think I am a spy who works the soup kitchen on her one day off from being a nurse at one of the busiest hospitals in New York?!”
“Umm, yes?!” Sherlock replied. “This is the best place to obtain information!”
“You crazy that is what.” She said laughing heartily. “No son, I work here cos I lost someone and I don’t know what I could have done to help him then, so I help these people now. I might want to have a word with your mammy about your manners, that’s what! ”
Sherlock had to smile when he heard that. He had been right about the similarity to Mummy. And Mrs. Hudson also actually.These older women were terrifying.
Maybe the coincidences weren't always about trouble. Maybe they could be positive too.
He felt a pang of sadness. Their being in hiding had made him so paranoid that he couldn't even see a familiar face without worrying if she was a spy.
Unexpectedly he found himself telling her “I haven’t met my mother for some years now. It’s complicated.”
“Is it because of your man?” She asked.
He hesitated. “Yes. In a way.”
“Don’t worry. She will come around. Mothers always do. And till then, I am going to be your Mammy and you are going to tell me what your problem is. Come, let us get some coffee next door.”
As they sat in that small café, sipping their coffee, Sherlock spoke to her. “My…my partner ….he has lost his memory and cannot recall that we are together as a couple or that I proposed and we exchanged rings a year ago.”
“Oh son!” She said, putting her hand on his. “I am so sorry! But it was from the head trauma wasn’t it? It will come back. It will all come back!”
“I hope so Mammy. He is my… everything. Has always been.” Sherlock said, looking away, suddenly close to tears again.
She patted his arm. “Known each other long have you?”
“My whole life. But I realized I love him just three years ago. And…..he had loved me for many years before that but never said anything.”
“He must love you very much indeed to wait for so many years till you were ready to hear it. You are a lucky, lucky man.” She smiled at him.
“I am. I really am.” Sherlock said. And then he shocked himself by asking her. “You should meet him! Would you like to come over for dinner one day?”
“Why not today? After all today is also one day.” She replied, laughing.
So it was that when Mycroft heard the door open and smiled in anticipation, he saw Sherlock and oh that nurse from the hospital enter the flat.
“Mammy, meet Mark. Mark meet Mammy.” Sherlock said.
Mycroft eyebrows nearly shot off his forehead.
Mammy?! Seriously? What was Sherlock up to?
“Oh you can call me Sybil if that makes you more comfortable Mr. Willis. Your young man was saying you hold very high standards with manners and rules, and good for you I say! My grandma was always telling us to have manners fit for a queen.”
She set her purse and bag down and came and sat next to Mycroft on the sofa.
“So, how is the leg doing Mr. Willis?”
“Oh well, one can’t complain.” Mycroft said with a thin smile, still very confused as to why she was here.
Was it a home visit arranged by the hospital? Surely even the NHS didn’t do that and here, in USA…and so soon after being discharged?
Sherlock answered his unasked question. “She was very kind to me when I was in the hospital waiting for you to get better. I met her on my walk today and she was asking about you, so I invited her over. Hope that is ok?”
“Yes of course.” Mycroft said. “It’s your….umm… Pleasure to have you over ma’am. Thank you for helping ….him. Apologies that you probably saw the worst of me while I was in the hospital. I assure you that I do have better manners when I am not in pain and lost!”
Sherlock smiled at the diplomat coming to the fore so confidently and easily. “I am going to leave both of you to catch up while I get dinner sorted.”
Wild jumped off her throne on the window sill and came and rubbed herself around Mammy’s legs, and then in an enormous seal of approval, curled up right at her feet. Sherlock saw the flash of alarm in Mycroft’s eyes at the proximity of the cat to him and went off smiling into the kitchen.
Silly Mycie. But then Wild had always been a bit huffy with him even earlier! If it really came down to it then Oscar was Mycroft’s dog and Wild was Sherlock’s cat. Ok…so what to cook now? Pasta? Safest bet and easy too.
As he prepped and cooked he could hear snippets of the conversation drifting towards him in the kitchen.
“He is a keeper you know.” Mammy was telling Mycroft. “Do you know that he even prayed at the chapel and took some chanting beads from the Hare Krishna folks outside the hospital? He told me he could not believe he was doing all this, having spent a lifetime devoted to logic and evidence. But he was willing to do whatever it took to keep you alive and make you better.”
Mycroft was saying something in reply and then the rest of the discussion was lost to Sherlock for the next twenty minutes. As he went in to call them for dinner, he heard the tail end of something she was saying.
“He told me that your mind was far and away greater than anyone else’s on this planet but I think he was wrong.” He could hear the smile in her voice. “I think it is your heart actually. He is a very special one, he is and if you do love him then so are you. Don’t worry too much about remembering old memories. Maybe create new ones.”
She took a deep breath. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Sherlock closed his eyes in delight at the idea.
Yess!! That could also work! What a wise woman she was. And just who they needed today. Truly the Universe is never lazy.
“Dinner is served!” he called out as he brought the food to the table.
Over dinner Mammy told them about her son, Jeremy. He had come out to her 8 years ago. And then 2 years later he had been at a gay nightclub when someone had brought in a gun…..….and along with 50 other mothers, she had lost a son.
They fell silent when they heard this story.
“We live in a perpetually burning building and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.” Mycroft quoted softly.
“Sorry Mammy.” Sherlock murmured after half a minute. “I can’t imagine…”
“No, you really can’t imagine.” she said, smiling at him as she wiped her tears. “But now I work and I pray and I serve when I can and now I have so many more sons. Like you. And I want to tell you that time is fleeting and life is short and we must make our own happiness! So, thank you for the lovely dinner but I must get home now and leave you two to enjoy some alone time! See you at the hospital in two weeks Mr. Willis, for your follow up visit!”
“Do call me Mark.” Mycroft said, to his own surprise.
“Mark it is then! Goodbye Mark. Take care.”
Sherlock went down to drop her to a taxi and paid the driver in advance.
“Please Mammy! Let me do this for you--or my own Mummy will have something serious to say about my manners!” he grinned at her as she protested.
He came back up humming to himself.
This had turned out to be a surprisingly pleasant evening. Tomorrow he would visit that building Jason had told him about. Maybe there would be something there that could help Mycroft remember.
When he unlocked the flat and went in, he found Mycroft standing there near the sofa, waiting for him.
“Do you need help My?” He asked, quickly coming close to him.
To his surprise, Mycroft handed over his crutches to him and said “Can you keep them away for a minute please?”
He did, very puzzled and then turned back to look at him. What was going on?
“Sherlock.” Mycroft said tentatively as held out both arms, in a universal gesture of ‘come to me’, a hopeful expression on his face, yet braced for rejection.
That was all Sherlock needed. There had never been any need for words between them for so long now. He took a deep shuddering breath to stop himself from crying.
No, sorry. He couldn’t hold back the tears.
He held Mycroft in a fierce embrace and sobbed into his shoulder, savouring the warmth, the arms around him, just the fact that he was alive.
They were both alive.
They could do this! They could start again!
Mycroft! His precious lover, and partner and everything. Back in his arms. This was heaven.
This was all he had ever wanted.
He sent up a prayer of gratitude to whatever powers that be. Thank you!! Thank you so much!
Mycroft was holding Sherlock like a precious treasure, gently patting his back, tears falling down his cheeks too.
His beautiful, brilliant and now also thoughtful and mature Lock. And emotional. Sigh.
Both of them.
This was allowed! This was incredible…..….and Sherlock didn’t find him weak and pathetic and disgusting. Maybe those photos were real after all…..
And before he realized what was happening, Sherlock pulled back and gave him a kiss on the lips.
It was soft, warm and utterly chaste but Mycroft’s knees buckled.
“Oops.” Sherlock said half laughing as he held him. “Too much?”
“A bit.” Mycroft said.
It’s everything I ever dreamed of Sherlock! Your lips on mine, your breath on my face, your arms around my waist. You can’t just hand it all over to me so casually and expect me to remain standing!
Always the pirate aren’t you? Pillaging and plundering!
He gave him a fond smile as he wiped his tears. “But I am not complaining.”
1. Sybil: The sibyls, women of ancient Greece and Rome, were mouthpieces of the ancient oracles and seers into the future. In the Middle Ages, they were believed to be receptors of divine revelation.
2. “We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.” -Tennessee Williams.
3. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Habitation” by Margaret Atwood.
Marriage is not
a house, or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
the unpainted stairs
at the back, where we squat
outdoors, eating popcorn
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived
we are learning to make fire
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Sherlock felt as though he was floating on air as he looked at Mycroft.
His brave, beautiful, beloved Mycroft. Willing to take this chance despite having no recollection whatsoever of their recent relationship.
And what a vastly different kiss from the first proper one they had had the first time around. But this could be enough for now!
This was a covenant. A vow.
A willingness to forge a new path together and that was more than enough.
That was, in fact, everything.
After that first kiss, Mycroft had had to sit down.
So they had snuggled down on the sofa and to Mycroft’s initial panic and then enormous relief, Wild had come over, jumped on his lap and looked him the eyes and meowed at him, as if to say “Finally! You are safe now. Don’t forget again!”
And then she had jumped off and batted her paws at poor Oscar till he fled the living room. For no reason whatsoever that they could see.
Sherlock had found the entire interaction hilarious. He managed to take a quick photo before she jumped off Mycroft’s lap.
“This one is a keepsake for sure.” He said as he kept his phone back and held Mycroft’s hand. “In case you forget again.”
Mycroft looked at him, still unable to imagine that this was real. They were sitting on the sofa, holding hands and Sherlock had just kissed him.
He was done doubting. He couldn’t doubt this anymore.
He didn’t want to waste even one more second if this was his to have.
Besides which, he still had a sneaking suspicion that Wild would probably scratch his eyes out if he did.
“Sherlock…..do you…do you really….” He hesitated.
Sherlock smiled at him and leaned in for one more kiss.
“I love you My. You have no idea how much I love you! I love you more than words can say. I love you so much that although my heart aches when I think of what you have forgotten, a part of me is thrilled that we are getting a chance to do this again! Another set of first times….and if you forget again…then once more….and yet again. Always. Because I know now that even if you forget the things we did and the words we said and even if there was not a single photo or document or even a ring to prove anything…….you will always know it here. You will always remember it in your heart.” And he rested his hand against Mycroft’s heart.
Mycroft held his hand, overwhelmed at the way his heart seemed to be so very full of joy and wonder and love. Oh so much love…
“Lock, my precious most precious Lock, I am not sure what I have done to deserve this but yes, I love you too and I will always remember. I promise. I have loved you for so long and so deeply…. and with such certainly that it could never be!!.... that I can scarce believe this is for real! Is this why we had to leave London? So we could be together?”
“Yes, and it’s a long story and I will tell you by and by. But not today.” and Sherlock held his face and kissed him again, softly at first and then gently but surely deepening the kiss and smiling into the kiss when he heard Mycroft sigh and then moan and then kiss him back fiercely.
“Today let us write the beginning of a new story.”
I do have more tales to tell in this Universe and the loose threads of that dropped manuscript and even the lost memory will be dealt with, but this felt like a good way to close this particular arc!
Hope you enjoyed it!