Chapter 1: Barely Hanging On
Sherlock Holmes had never been the hopeful type. He found baseless hope utterly pointless, especially when logic disproved hopeful wishes - but that never truly bothered him. Negative experiences were always a mere fact of life, and while they weren't pleasant, he knew he couldn't do anything to change them. Whenever he voiced these thoughts to anyone (mainly his parents, in his youth), he was shocked by the negative reactions he received. He supposed that maybe these sentiments typically belonged to someone that didn't value their life, as society's norm tended to be one of ignorant bliss. He never understood that. He never understood why people thought something was wrong with him when he said these things, because it was the opposite. He did value his life. Even if it was cocky, he knew that he had a lot to offer the world with his intelligence, and he knew that the world would truly suffer a terrible loss if he wasn't involved in anything of importance. Therefore, it took a very long time for him to gain a firm understanding of why people equated hopelessness with depression, when sometimes hopelessness was the only logical response.
Eventually, though, he understood. Life went on... And on... And on, and yet he found himself making no good use of his talents. He didn't attend university, knowing full well that he wouldn't do well there and instead wanting to do something magnificent. Journalism had never been that plan - it just happened that way after he was 22 and still in his parents' house. The wanted ad was there, the pay was good, and it was just the logical thing to do. His parents tried to tell him that it wasn't a big issue, that they didn't mind him still living with them, but he knew better. All he had to do was 'accidentally' eavesdrop on some of their late night conversations. He didn't even need to rely on the obvious annoyance and disappointment in their body language - he heard them say it. Within the week, he had gone to the interview and been offered a position. Despite his lack of experience, the managers of Beeton's Telegraph said that he had "a certain charisma and natural curiosity that would benefit the paper." In reality, Sherlock was certain they were just desperate to hire someone who didn't have the experience necessary to compare their tactics to that of other local papers.
Freedom was something he'd always valued. He enjoyed having the freedom to conduct his own research, the freedom to present things in his own way, the freedom to do whatever he wanted. Thinking back, he had been a rather rebellious teen, and much of that stemmed from that same stance on freedom. He'd been so determined to be his own person without the influence of others. Of course, that hadn't gone very well when he was sucked down the hole of drug addiction, but he did his best not to think too hard on that. He'd gone through the endless lectures, the issues with law enforcement, the months in rehab, the three relapses in the years following - he felt he deserved a break from it all. But as the years at Beeton's passed, Sherlock found himself getting steadily pulled down yet again. Any stories of interest to him were mostly untouchable due to extreme police involvement, and on the rare occasion that he was able to cover something interesting, he was forced to be a particularly intense bystander - able to ask questions, unable to get involved. It was boring, horribly boring, and he began to dread the future. He hated thinking about where his life was at, he hated the knowledge that he could do so much more and wasn't, and finally he realized why hopelessness was an awful thing.
After the second relapse, Mycroft made him swear to reach out if it happened again. They made an agreement: if things got bad, Sherlock would provide Mycroft with a list of what he'd taken, and Mycroft would do the work of getting him help. Begrudgingly, Sherlock agreed, and he maintained that promise after his third relapse. Even with the brothers' strained relationship, Mycroft felt comfortable enough to trust Sherlock with this one task. Sherlock didn't plan on deviating from that plan, but then again, he also hadn't planned on being so utterly miserable with his life that he'd relapse yet again.
It felt different this time. His previous relapses had come with at least a small amount of guilt and fear, and those things were what led to him reaching out. This time, he wasn't sure he actually cared anymore. After all, when the relapses become more frequent, where is the line between a mere relapse and an endless stream of addiction? Was there a point in continuing to ask for help if this was what inevitably happened every time? Was there even a point in wanting help at all? Sherlock figured there wasn't, and if his life was being wasted already, there was no point in letting it go on. He hoped, though he didn't voice it aloud, that he'd accidentally overdose. His landlady would find him when he failed to pay the rent, and it'd all be thought of as nothing more than an unfortunate accident. But it didn't happen, and Sherlock was getting restless, until finally he decided enough was enough.
Mycroft went to the country once in the summer and once in the winter, every year, without fail. The previous owners (and founders) of Pinks' Bakery had retired out there after entrusting Mycroft with managing the shop, and following Mrs. Pinks' death, Mr. Pink enjoyed being able to show Mycroft his new and/or updated recipes in person before Mycroft put them in place. Sherlock knew for a fact that Mycroft enjoyed those biannual weekend visits, even with his complaints of "wasting time." So, this summer's visit would be the perfect opportunity to put together one final list for his older brother. He'd give it to one of the bakers, who would pass it on to Mycroft upon his return, by which time it would be too late. Dramatic? Most likely, but Sherlock didn't see it playing out any other way. If he gave it to Mycroft in person, he'd be stopped. And for once, he didn't 100% want to be.
Sherlock stepped into Pinks' Bakery, scanning the room before his tired eyes landed on a man with a name-tag sitting beside the back window. A baker on his break, and by the looks of that nearly finished scone, he'd be returning to work soon. He'd most likely set the envelope on Mycroft's desk before returning to his shift, not giving it so much as a suspicious glance. People were often almost too simple, but in this case, that was exactly what Sherlock needed to make everything go according to plan.
Chapter 2: When the Moon Found the Sun
I am so sorry for the delay! My timing sucks apparently because right after uploading the first chapter, life got super hectic. Things are starting to calm down now, though, so I will hopefully be updating more frequently. Thank you all for the support, and I hope you enjoy chapter 2!
Sherlock had avoided this bakery like the plague. It wasn’t that they didn’t have good products or anything, he was just stubborn and didn’t want to give Mycroft the satisfaction of seeing him be a happy customer. Besides, he never cared much for food beyond what was necessary to stay alive, and even that appetite had been dwindling as of late. However, he did understand why Pinks’ was popular. The small building was nicely decorated, giving off just enough sophistication but not sacrificing any cozy comfort. It was strange to think of his brother managing this place, but then again, money was money. However, he figured there was no point in standing around admiring the furniture when there were more important tasks at hand. He stuck his hand in his coat pocket as he approached the table where the baker sat. His fingers closed around the envelope and he took it out, placing it on the table. He wouldn’t bother to sit for this. He glanced at the name tag. “John Watson. My name is Sherlock Holmes, I’m Mycroft’s brother. I need you to give this to him at your earliest convenience upon his return.”
Not many people spoke to John on his break. He’d get some polite smiles here and there, maybe a few instances of small talk, but no one really knew the face of the man who baked what they ate. He didn’t blame them, and it was fine - he wouldn’t do this forever. For now, he made the most of doing something he was good at and enjoying the results of his work during each break. He was used to the quiet, so he was snapped back into reality at the envelope being placed in front of him. He looked up at the dark haired man before him, frowning a little. “Mycroft’s-?” He paused, taking in Sherlock’s appearance. He looked rough, and it didn’t take a genius to see it - not to mention, as an aspiring doctor, he needed to know the signs of various illnesses. Sherlock’s skin seemed an almost sickly pale, his hands trembled slightly, and the dark circles under his eyes were hard to miss. Plus, his eyes looked so… Far away.
“...Right.” John took the envelope, staring down at it for a moment as he thought. Sherlock Holmes was clearly sick, and while John couldn’t be sure on the specific details, he could see the effects of drug use on any patient. He could also recognize that tone of depression and lost hope - he’d had it enough in his own life. So what could he do? He’d be concerned about anyone, but he was also certain it wouldn’t bode well for him if his boss found out something had happened to his younger brother and John hadn’t done anything when he noticed warning signs. He looked up again. “Well, you know, a normal greeting would be nice. For future reference.” As Sherlock rolled his eyes, John took the last bite of his scone and then stood. “Why don’t you bring it to his office yourself? I can bring you back.”
Sherlock raised an eyebrow. What on Earth was he talking about? It didn’t matter who brought it back, the outcome would be the same. “No, that isn’t necessary.” He narrowed his eyes, taking in John’s appearance. He seemed to be a student most likely, as the name tag indicated he was part time and exhaustion was evident in his eyes. Plus, he could see the binding of a medical textbook in his bag. “You’re studying to be a doctor.” It wasn’t a question. Normally he wouldn’t get defensive immediately, but he was getting a bit desperate, and he didn’t have time for people to try and read him as if they knew more than he did. “I don’t know what you think you know, but I need to-”
“I have Mycroft’s number in my cell.” John said calmly, giving a kind but tight-lipped smile. “He tells me to reach out in case of emergency, and if his younger brother is hooked on drugs, I’d say we’ve got an emergency. So, why don’t you come back with me?” He had no idea who this man was, or the extent of the danger he was in, but he couldn’t in good conscience let him leave. If Sherlock left and then John got word that he’d overdosed in an alley, he’d never forgive himself. Maybe that was an unhealthy mindset for someone becoming a doctor, but he didn’t care right now. He wasn’t a doctor yet.
Sherlock gritted his teeth. Damn. Of course he’d picked the worker with his brother’s personal phone number. He mulled over his options. If he left now, John would phone Mycroft, who would most definitely answer given the instructions of ‘emergencies only’. Mycroft would call their parents as well as the police and an ambulance, and Sherlock would be screwed. If he stayed here with John for a bit, he wouldn’t be able to get high as quickly and certainly wouldn’t be able to go through with his plans immediately - and there was no guarantee that John wouldn’t call Mycroft anyway. His best bet, then, was to stay here with John and convince him that he was safe. Sherlock gave an annoyed sigh. “ Fine , John. I will go back with you briefly. But this really is absolutely unnecessary.”
“Great. Let’s go, Sherlock. ”
Sherlock followed John into the back, staying silent as John asked one of the other bakers to cover for him for a little while longer. Once they’d made it to Mycroft’s office and stepped inside, Sherlock held out his hand. “The envelope.” He said, tone cold. John started to hand it to him, then stopped and pulled back, an idea striking him. He was certain that he was about to be hated by his manager’s younger brother, but he didn’t care. Too much was at stake.
So, John started to tear open the envelope. “Why don’t you read it to me first?” He asked simply. Sherlock’s eyes widened and he quickly reached forward, but John darted out of the way as he took the paper out. His steady gaze met Sherlock’s panicked one. “Alright. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll do it myself.” He unfolded it, and Sherlock watched, frozen, a mix of angry and anxious.
I am certain that this is going to cause several layers of inconvenience, mainly with your own life plans, our parents’ emotions, and funding for my ‘eternal peace’ as people love to put it. For that, I apologize. I had hoped that among my current relapse, I would overdose unintentionally (mostly) and everyone would therefore consider it an accident. Supposedly, accidental deaths ‘hurt’ less. But that didn’t happen, and I can’t wait around hoping it does.
I believe that the easiest thing to do would be for me to disappear without a trace, but turns out I can’t quite bring myself to do that. So I’m leaving you this. I’m sure you’ll find this letter on your desk and start to try and see where I am, but there’s no point. If all goes according to plan, you’ll see this two days after it’s left, at which point I will no longer be living. I want you to know that I understand now why we, as humans, fear hopelessness. What I don’t understand is why we insist on living with it.
That is the last thing that sets me apart from others, I suppose. I’m done trying to live with something that is, by definition, hopeless. Goodbye, brother.
John looked up at Sherlock again, eyes wide and heart pounding. Sherlock was giving him an icy stare, but he could swear he saw sadness behind it. This was so much worse than he thought. John took a deep breath. “...Right. Well, you’re gonna be stuck with me a little longer than expected.”