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21 April 2011 @ 09:50 pm
Fic: Thy Mother's Glass  
Thy Mother's Glass
Sherlock/Doctor Who | Sherlock, John, Amy/Rory | PG-13 | ~8000
ʙᴇᴛᴀ wordquandary | ᴅɪsᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇʀ just playing in the sandpit | sᴘᴏɪʟᴇʀs Sherlock sᴇʀɪᴇs ᴏɴᴇ, Doctor Who sᴇʀɪᴇs ғɪᴠᴇ

Mycroft, they decide, and then seven years later Sherlock; alien names for not-quite-alien children. In which Sherlock's parents are called Amy and Rory and he's born outside of time.

Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime:

—Sonnet 3, Shakespeare

When Sherlock is very small he doesn't understand his parents' relationship. There are three of them, firstly, which seems unusual for his species; too complicated for binary human culture, too many emotional knots to tie, and no matter how much Sherlock reads he never finds anyone else in the universe with a mother, a father and a Doctor.

When he asks Mycroft explains, quietly, that only mummy and daddy are their parents. The Doctor is an extra, theirs through luck rather than any biological connection, and Sherlock feels something fall away from him; a truth that you were sure of, broken into a thousand pieces—the kind of thing you can never put back together.

Amy and Rory don't mean to have children in the TARDIS, honestly.

They talk about it sometimes, agree fervently that the dangers of time and space are no environment to raise a child in. Rory in particular is adamant about this. There's too much running about to do, too many monsters with teeth and claws and bellies waiting for child-sized snacks, and besides—the Doctor would never let them stay. He's barely coping with having a married couple on board, let alone any offspring.

They have the whole of time and space to have kids in, they think; let's wait a little longer.

“I've just met someone,” the Doctor says one day, relatively speaking. Amy looks up from where she's trying to make the TARDIS fly and Rory, who is reading a book, doesn't stop.

“Oh yeah? Love at first sight, was it?”

Either the Doctor ignores her or doesn't understand or some combination of both, just starts twisting dials and staring at the console screen. He frowns.

“Very curious,” he mutters; the Gallifreyan symbols are like paintings and Amy shifts her attention, wanders over and leans on his shoulder.

“What's curious?” Rory's voice asks from behind his book.

“He said some very interesting things,” is all the reply they get, words punctuated by taps and twists and shifting symbols. Amy thinks about needling him to say more, opens her mouth to until something stops her, like a hand on her shoulder, the feeling of crossing a line that you can't come back from. Things you'd be better off not knowing. She wonders if it's the TARDIS intervening.

“Yes,” the Doctor murmurs, and Amy can feel his voice vibrate through his shoulders. “Yes, I think I'll let them stay.”

He doesn't say more, and Amy wonders if she'll ever know who he means (doesn't yet, but she will soon enough).

Mycroft, they decide, and then seven years later Sherlock; alien names for not-quite-alien children.

Rory jokes that the Doctor is a better father than he will ever be, with his intelligence and adventures and a time machine. The boys dote on the Doctor, Sherlock especially; he soaks up knowledge like a proverbial sponge and then spits it back out into the world in new ideas, and feels far more like the Doctor's son than his most of the time.

Amy shakes her head, kisses him because he's wrong—because Rory is the best Dad they will ever have. He loves them.

Birthdays are always a little strange. They go by the elasticity of TARDIS time mixed up with Earth's, with the result that when anyone asks Sherlock how old he is he picks approximations from the air, based on body weight and height and expectations.

His father keeps a detailed record, of course, diaries and calenders and calculations, pluses and minuses in the desk in his parents' bedroom. Sherlock looked at them once, found twenty-seven missing days that meant his birthday was falling in the wrong month.

Mycroft had told him not to worry about it, which Sherlock had found strange. Should he worry? It doesn't matter to him if he's eighteen or eighty or eighty-thousand days younger or older, because they have all of time and space at their fingertips.

“Where do you think we went wrong?” Rory asks. There is a twelve-year-old Sherlock sulking underneath the central column, iPod and scowl on as their four-year-old Sherlock watches him with curiosity.

“Raising them in a time machine was a pretty unconventional choice,” Amy replies. Mycroft, currently eleven, makes a great show of being able to poke his older/younger brother without creating universe-ending paradoxes. Little Sherlock, unable to touch, has a scowl matching the one on his twelve-year-old self, who shakes Mycroft off with the noise of an angry cat. Rory starts scolding them both.

This isn't unusual in the slightest; it's par for the course to pick one of them up at various points in their life after a call—I'm stuck, come and get me—has reached a TARDIS from their past or future rather than their present (which remains a relative concept when you're growing up outside of time). You might call Amy a bad mother for knowing that this doesn't worry her, but—there's something bigger pressing down on her, borne of the fact that they've never encountered a Sherlock older than twelve or a Mycroft older than nineteen. Where are they, her sons all grown-up—where have they gone that the TARDIS never finds them?

Perhaps she's just gotten better at not losing them, she tells herself, and hopes so horribly hard that it's true. Normal parental worries are increased threefold when you're raising children in a time machine.

“Alright then, future-son, what happened this time?” Amy asks. She's not used to him at this age and Sherlock looks up at her with eyes that she doesn't yet recognise; older, far more caustic than the four-year-old who's watching, stuck between jealousy and curiosity (and she'll miss him so much when he's gone, grown instead into this boy who she doesn't know, yet).

Sherlock just shrugs, scrolls aimlessly through the iPod. It's Rory's—Amy recognises the mosaic of scratches across the back. “The same thing that always happens. Running, chasing, monsters. Mycroft being an idiot.”

He makes a face at his brother. Sherlock always relishes the opportunity to be older than Mycroft.

“Sherlock,” she admonishes, hand on his arm, and he throws her off the same as he'd done to his brother.

Don't,” and he gets to his feet, darts upstairs towards the central column and takes the chair, crosses his legs underneath him. Rory follows, gives admonitions that probably won't filter through the headphones. Sherlock leaves them in.

Amy feels a bit adrift, unprepared for teenage tantrums as she watches Rory dealing with it. It always feels as if he's so much better at this than her, and Amy had never felt self-doubt until she became responsible for these two fragile lives. She picks little Sherlock up; he squirms for a moment but she holds on, knows from past experience that his curiosity is always more appealing to him than caution at ending the universe.

“Don't touch,” she tells him, and he stares through his fringe at his older self. He's such a mystery, her son, even at this age, and Amy's usual resolve flounders in the face of such brilliant children; of seeing what they'll become.

“Right.” The Doctor appears on a staircase as if by magic, rubs his hands together. “I've pinpointed the right time, should be no trouble to get you back to your parents.” He stops in front of Sherlock's chair, stares down for a minute. No response. “Well, yes, that's the boring part really, isn't it?” He steps towards the console, flicks buttons and switches and says over his shoulder, “Fancy helping?”

They don't help, usually, too young in Amy's opinion to be going anywhere near things that she herself doesn't quite understand, and so it startles to see her youngest son the pilot, following directions, face lit up as the familiar grinding noises of the time rotor fill the room. He looks alive, the first smile she's seen on him today.

He feels very far away from her in this moment.

They find the right time and TARDIS, send Sherlock back out into time-knows-what, and Amy tightens her hold on the one in her arms. Doesn't ever want to let him go.

“Where did they come from, do you think?”

It's late and Amy's sleepy, not in the mood for random musings. The Doctor's having a bad effect on Rory, she thinks, and rubs her eyes, turns over. His profile is just visible in the dark.


“The boys. Where did it all come from? They're so—”

Rory stops, and the room fills with a hundred possible adjectives.

“Go to sleep, Rory,” Amy murmurs. Sherlock has just started sleeping through the night, almost fourteen months—so much later than Mycroft, the kind of baby who demanded attention with expressions instead of wailing—and she doesn't appreciate the interruption even as she moulds herself to his side. “They're fine.”

Rory's hand comes up to hers, interlaces their fingers. “I know.”

Sherlock and Mycroft get lost on Augusta Prima, or rather Sherlock runs off and Mycroft chases him and now they can't find their parents. It's nothing unusual—they seem to manage it every time they leave the TARDIS—and at this point their father is the only one who's going to shout at them. Sherlock ignores any and all scoldings anyway; it's almost a point of honour to forget the words as soon as they're said.

He pulls on Mycroft's hand where it's attached to his upper arm. “Get off, Mycroft.”


His brother stopped giving explanations a long time ago so Sherlock does what he always has and wriggles, drags his feet across the stones of the city street, but Mycroft has seven years on him and the strength shows.

“This is why I tell Mummy not to let you out,” and his voice is full of all the superiority that being fifteen has gifted him.

Sherlock scowls. “I hate you.”


He gives up struggling for a bit, just lets Mycroft frogmarch him through the capital. There are a hundred different species crowded into the market square and Sherlock catalogues them as they go past, counts them off in his head; name, planet, differences from human biology. It gets boring quickly and he turns his attention back to his brother. Mycroft has grown very tall very quickly and Sherlock feels small, still under four foot and looking up, now, whenever he needs to speak to him. The seven years between them suddenly feel very big.

Mycroft's peering through the throngs of people, searching for the hair and frame that mark their mother out—he’s almost as tall as her now—and Sherlock dredges patience up from somewhere to wait it out. He senses the moment when his brother's hold lessens slightly, concentration caught on something else, and he writhes free with the skills of a contortionist. He hears Mycroft shout after him, but Sherlock's frame gives him the advantage of disappearing easily at elbow height and he twists into the gaps in the crowd. He runs and runs, free of his brother, free of his parents, free free free

He isn't looking—it's his own fault, he'll remember to concentrate on destination next time and not jubilation—and he collides with the Doctor with all the speed his eight-year-old legs have gifted him.

“Oh,” Sherlock says, and the Doctor looks confused.

“Hello.” The last syllable is dragged out; he's thinking, rapidly, using the sound to give him extra time to assess.

“I suppose I'm in a lot of trouble.”

Sherlock is bored with being in trouble, has been for years, because it invariably consists of his father shouting and his mother trying to scold him and doing a terrible job of it, and then a lot of ignoring each other until they give in and want to cuddle him again.

“That depends,” the Doctor says. “What have you done?”

Sherlock is far, far from stupid—it's why his parents worry so much—and he has enough experience of being a time traveller (having never been anything else) to know what's happened.

“Ah,” he says. “I don't think I've been born yet.”

“Well, that could certainly get you into a lot of trouble,” the Doctor replies, and Sherlock thinks why can’t you be my father? “And you're an acquaintance of mine?”

Sherlock nods. The Doctor is wearing a different shirt, a slightly different coat that Sherlock doesn't recognise. They're the only signs. “I live with you.”

The Doctor's face contorts. “Interesting. And by live, you mean —”

“— my parents and my brother and I live with you, yes.”

A pause. “That sounds awfully crowded.”

Sherlock recognises this Doctor, the one who avoids the family aspect that has crept slowly onto his TARDIS. He often wonders why the Doctor didn't just dump his parents back on Earth the moment Mycroft was conceived (and really it might have been better for everyone—Sherlock thinks that time travel has made Mycroft rather full of himself).

“Sometimes we don't see you for days,” Sherlock tells him. “And you never have dinner with us. Or breakfast. I don't think I've seen you eat, yet. We're not particularly domestic.”

The Doctor nods, thinks for a moment. Sherlock is still looking up, has to put a hand over his eyes to shield them from the twin suns, and he wishes more than ever to grow. Sometimes it feels as though he'll be this small forever.

“Who are your—no, you shouldn't tell me that, ignore me—what's your name? Just first name, no need for more.”

In the whole of the universe there will never be a child more adjusted to the Doctor's idiosyncrasies than this one. “Sherlock.”

“Ah. Ah,” the Doctor says then, and for all of his intellect Sherlock is still only eight years old, doesn't quite follow, so he just continues to watch and wait. “Sherlock, interesting. And you and your brother and your parents, all of you...?”

“Yes.” Sherlock drags the syllable out.

“Right, interesting, interesting. And your brother, he's...?”

He trails off, seems to be waiting for Sherlock to fill in some kind of gap, and Sherlock hesitates. He's had the rules of time travel hammered into him from birth, as well as all the ways to bend them, but he hesitates, coloured with uncertainty. “Am I allowed to tell you that?”

The Doctor's expression softens from manic to gentle. “It's alright. We're just —”

“— bending the rules,” Sherlock finishes, and a pause. “Mycroft. He's—Mycroft.”

The Doctor doesn't reply straight away, just nods and stares at him. For anyone else it might be intimidating, but Sherlock's been a recipient of this same stare uncountable times. It's not a first for him, even if it is for the Doctor.

“Well, thank you very much, Sherlock.” The Doctor shakes his hand and looks up over his head, through the crowd and then back down again. “It was very nice to meet you, but I'll be off now because I think someone's looking for you.”

Sherlock turns at the words, curiosity and childish defiance mingling, sees his mother weaving in and out of people, and when he turns back the Doctor's gone and his mother's arms are curling around him. She doesn't scold him, just brushes his hair out of his eyes and raises her eyebrows, says, “You're in so much trouble with your Dad.”

He is. Sherlock sits through his father's rebuke like he always does, retreats to the library as soon as it's over. There's a copy of The Origin of Species in there with a handwritten dedication (To the Doctor and something about inspiration); Sherlock is almost halfway through and today when he opens it to his bookmark there's a note folded into the pages that wasn't there yesterday.

Sherlock, it reads when he unfolds it. It was very nice to meet you today. I'd recommend the violin.

When you've grown up in a time machine the complexities and wonders of time travel tend to become mundane, and Sherlock just looks mildly confused and folds the note into his pocket.

He has no intention of learning an instrument, especially not one with strings.

Sherlock is twelve and asks to borrow his father's iPod. Rory lets him, of course; it's mostly full of Sherlock's music now anyway, Enescu and Mendelssohn and his latest passion, Paganini. He's been practising the 24 Caprices on the Stradivarius they got for his birthday (Antonio had owed them a favour).

As soon as he borrows it Amy knows what day it is. It's always difficult to let him leave knowing that he's going to get lost and end up somewhere in his own past or future, but—she's been waiting for today with the kind of dread that you push to the back of your mind so as to be able to get on with life, and so as soon as he's gone she crescent-moons the palms of her hands and hopes to high heaven that there's a particularly distracting monster in her near future.

There is, and even with Sherlock's I'm stuck, come and get me reaching a younger Amy, one who's still tucking her sons into bed at night, he's not away for long. They reconvene in the middle of Paris, under the Louvre to be exact; Sherlock mumbles something about flying the TARDIS as they hide from a rather vicious extraterrestrial and Amy is completely certain, now, that this is the day.

She resists the urge to tuck him into bed that night—he grew out of it a long time ago—but she can't stop herself from peeking in once she knows he's asleep. She's been counting down to this day for a very long time, because no matter how much she's been hoping she has yet to meet a version of either of her sons older than nineteen and twelve, respectively, and she is so, so afraid as to why.

She leans over and strokes Sherlock's hair, the curls that started off a shadowy red and have been getting darker and darker. They're more of a brown now, and she wonders if they'll get darker still; realises with the thought that this is technically the oldest she has ever seen him.

She kisses him goodnight, even if he can't feel it, and tries to remind herself that tomorrow will be a thousand brand new days.

Amy finds, when they're young, that she has a very low threshold for discipline; bad behaviour is funny, makes her giggle behind her hands and encourage them. Mycroft is relatively well-behaved, listens to the reprovals of their father, but Sherlock is like a hurricane, fast and destructive and without remorse.

When he's six (approximately), Sherlock takes an ancient copy of Virgil and tears all of the pages out. The Doctor's not particularly upset, makes an obtuse remark about ten-a-dupondius and Roman booksellers, but Rory is furious, goes on about property and respect and two-thousand years old, Sherlock.

The pages are scattered around their son like petals, make him a fey child in the middle of a flower, and he stares up with a resolute defiance that Amy recognises from her mirror. He refuses to speak to his father after that, pulls books from the library shelves and draws across a back catalogue of Roman authors in permanent pen.

But not even her stubborn, badly-behaved Sherlock can out-wait his father, the man who waited two-thousand years; Sherlock's perseverance is no match for boredom and the silence collapses into curiosity and a need for answers, and he falls asleep to the sound of Rory reading him biochemical formulae and explaining the functions of the human heart.


His mother's voice drags him from sleep. She's shaking him, one hand on his shoulder as the other is already dragging the covers away.

“Sherlock, lovely, you need to get up.”

The tone in her voice is familiar from thirteen relative years of living in a time machine; urgent, harried, imperative. He nods through sleep, half-awake and getting up. He starts to change but his mother shakes her head in the dark, just grabs his wrist, we need to go now.

Sherlock does not get scared, really, but then his mother doesn't either and he can hear the fear in her voice. His father's too, when they reach the console room and Mycroft is clinging snarkishly to the railing and his father is shouting and the Doctor is pushing and pulling buttons and levers and the lights are sparking and then flashing and dimming and the noise, a great screeching and crashing—

The doors open; he feels his mother's hands on his back, a push, her voice—Sherlock

Mycroft decides that they are probably in Cardiff, and Sherlock is inclined to agree with that deduction. Their father had insisted, when they were little, that they learn about their parents' home planet and so Sherlock knows the geography of Britain as though he'd lived there, could tell you the number of miles between London and Aberdeen or pinpoint Manchester, Leeds, any city on a map, even as he considers himself far removed from this disinteresting planet.

Mycroft makes the decision as to their location whilst Sherlock stands in his pyjamas in the street, half-soaked by the drizzle and getting steadily wetter. Cardiff is their emergency city, the place that they've been forced to know the best because it's here that they'll be dropped if things get particularly bad, and standing in the rain and the dark it seems quite certain that things aren't going too well.

They know where to go, of course—his name has been drilled into them from birth, synonymous with help—and when they get there and explain and mention the Doctor the man just smiles and lets them in without asking too many questions. He gives them some spare clothes, ill fitting but dry, importantly, and beds in which to sleep. He gives them the year too, 1989, and Sherlock wrinkles his nose and feels even worse; he's always hated the eighties.

“They'll be back soon.”

Mycroft is silhouetted by the hallway light, holds the door ajar. Sherlock doesn't look up from his pillow.

“Go away, Mycroft.”

He doesn't, just pads further into the room and closes the door. The bed dips and the covers are thrown off; Sherlock yelps as the cold air hits him.

“What are you doing?”

“Move over.”

He does, reluctantly, and for a moment there's only the sound of their breathing in the dark. Sherlock has had a growth spurt recently, is rapidly approaching Mycroft's height, and the double bed feels far more crowded than it would have done before his last birthday.

The spectre of their missing parents settles into the darkness, into their breathing and the rustle of duvet as Mycroft tries to get comfortable. They're used to strange situations, danger and death like constant companions, but this is—

“Mummy was scared,” Sherlock says into the darkness. His voice is deeper now too, though still not broken. “Really scared.”

“Stop worrying, Sherlock,” but Mycroft's voice isn't completely steady in the dark. “They'll be back. They'll probably be a week late,” and that's undeniably true, “but they will come back for us. You do know that, don't you?”

Sherlock doesn't reply. He reached the point when the certainty of childhood gives way to adult cynicism rather prematurely, hasn't thought of his parents as infallible since he was really very small, but the nagging doubt that for once they will be unable to escape the danger sits uncomfortably on his chest, makes breathing harder, and he shifts in the bed, turns his back on his brother and faces the wall.

“You don't have to look after me,” he says to the expanse of painted plaster. “I'm not a child.”

“Just because you’ve got teen in your age doesn't automatically make you an adult,” Mycroft fires back in a stage whisper. “You're barely more than twelve.”

“You're not twenty yet,” Sherlock replies, “Stop trying to act like Dad, it's boring—”

Sherlock,” Mycroft hisses, and something in the tone of his voice makes him stop. He does sound very much like their father, just then. “Just—go to sleep.”

Sherlock won't. He doesn't particularly like it and an opportunity to spite his brother is always tempting, but—it's the adrenaline, the fear like some sickness in the pit of his stomach, that will make sure he stays awake.

In the dark he listens to Mycroft's breathing stay quick and steady, knows that both of them are far beyond rest. The sound mixes with the rain on the windows, tap tap tap on single-glazed glass; its something alien, completely unlike home, and it grates steadily on Sherlock's nerves.

In this moment his mother feels very far away.

If growing up in a time machine makes a privileged child out of you then Sherlock and Mycroft have been the most privileged of all, and the abandonment feels as it might for a four-year-old left at boarding school for the first time; bewildering and unfair and a shock to the system.

One night becomes a day and then two, three, four, a week and then a month or more of endless days, stretching out in front of them, linear and flat. It feels like drowning. Time drags them down where before it buoyed them up, safe in the knowledge that they were beyond it, and Sherlock realises just how much he hates sunrise and sunset when they come one after the other.

The transition of one month into six is agonising. Sherlock vibrates with tension for every second that they're stuck, a bundle of energy and thought with nothing to entertain except the knowledge that he is here and he cannot leave. Jack tries to help, brings a few tidbits home from work for Sherlock to play with, but they're nothing interesting, the kind of junk that gets strewn across the TARDIS without thought, and he discards each one.

Time inches forward humiliatingly slowly, and Mycroft decides that it's time for them to leave.

“It won't be anything permanent. You know what they're like,” he says. Sherlock folds further into himself, legs that are growing too long curling up to his chest. “They're always late.”

He doesn't know if Mycroft is saying this for his benefit (misguided) or because he genuinely believes it (stupid), but Sherlock doesn't reply. The sun is starting to shine through the window and Sherlock scowls at it, resentful. He doesn't want its heat, only to see its birth or death or something that isn't being stuck down here, affected by it. It's sickening.

“Jack has agreed to help, identification and the like,” Mycroft continues. It's all said in a measured, flat tone, one that he's been using more and more; it makes Sherlock physically bristle, shoulders tense and eyes narrow. “He's given me a job. To keep things going.”

Sherlock lets the scowl twist his face further and doesn't say anything. Everything is too much and it makes his head hurt; resentment at Mycroft for being given something to occupy his time, resentment at Jack for making them leave (even if he isn't, even if it really is impractical for them to stay), anger at his father for not being better, anger at the Doctor for not being his father.

He refuses to miss his mother.

They decide on the name Holmes, cannibalise it from Gallifreyan (island). Birth certificates are magically produced, passports, all sorts of little pieces of paper that Sherlock wants to steal and burn. His say 1977, all sibilance, and slowly he and Mycroft begin to build a life on the lies that Jack creates for them.

“It's temporary,” Mycroft says as they sit in the barren living room of their new residence (not home, never home). One night on a miserable, rainy planet was supposed to be temporary too and look how that turned out.

Sherlock looks at the walls – clean fresh paint, beige, the scent of chemicals still lingering—and remembers the colour and texture of the walls of the console room. He can feel the ghost of his mother's hands on his shoulders like butterfly kisses.

He's been to London before of course—the TARDIS seems to have a particular fondness for the place—but they weren't domestic trips (weren't always in the twentieth century either) and he doesn't remember them well. This feels completely different, the flat in Holborn and Mycroft's job (in the City and he still won't discuss it with Sherlock, not really).

At first it’s interesting by virtue of being something different, something other than the inertia that has defined Cardiff—London is a bigger city full of big things and maybe, just maybe, it will have more to give. Sherlock was tired of Cardiff before they ever even got there, tired of hearing his father say the name over and over, his parental mantra; you'll find help in that city. Sherlock has never found anything in Cardiff but boredom (resentment).

London is a disappointment, of course. This planet is so small, the people smaller, and Sherlock feels the buildings around him like bars in a cage; when he looks up he can barely see the stars. He remembers vague summers spent in Leadworth with his grandparents (who in 1989 don’t even know that he exists); he remembers staring up at the sky and wishing to be back there, and now that they seem to be stuck he's even more conscious of his home high up above him, just out of reach.

London is more than a disappointment, though; London quickly becomes a personal version of hell when Mycroft does the unthinkable and enrols him in a school.

“You need to keep learning,” he says on one of the rare evenings that he's home before midnight. He's eating fish and chips from around the corner and Sherlock watches, feels the smell pushing at him with its oil and grease.

“I don't see why,” he replies. “I've already learnt more than they will in a life time. It's pointless.”

“You know about other species and planets and solar systems,” Mycroft says, “but Earth's literature, Sherlock, geography—”

Sherlock snorts, derisive.

“You know how important our education is to our parents,” Mycroft chastises. “They managed to keep it steady in the middle of time and space, I'm not going to let it get disrupted on a planet with an acceptable school system.”

“If they cared so much,” Sherlock says, and he gets up, can't take the cloying smell of the food any more, “they wouldn't have left us to fend for ourselves.”

Mycroft's reply follows him up the stairs, but he doesn't hear it.

Sulking is apparently no use, even if his argument is stellar, and Sherlock finds himself pushed into a horrendously expensive public school (funded by what, exactly? It seems that Mycroft's government connections already go deep).

He hates it.

It's not even the ridiculous uniform or the other boys or the way that Mycroft says, “it's the best, Sherlock, you should at least be grateful for that,” all of which he despises. It's the sheer stupidity of it, the smallness of everything. So shut in, closed-minded.

He excels at first, showing off knowledge with a mixture of pride and arrogance, but like everything else that becomes boring, repetitive. The teachers hold themselves with the hubris of education as they impart knowledge that Sherlock could undo in seconds; they scold him when he tries.

He laughs when they start using the periodic table, elements missing all over the place and some of them just wrong. He points all of that out too, and the gist of the conversation is that Sherlock is an attention-seeking trouble-maker that the Headmaster can deal with, because they're tired of him.

Sherlock is tired of them too.

It is the summer, unusually hot and warm and humid, and it makes Sherlock's curls wilt and stick to his forehead; he stares at the sky through a pair of stolen sunglasses and the sun becomes a dull orb in the corner of his eye.

“You can't just barge in on a police investigation,” Mycroft says. He's sitting next to him, watching the other people on the banks of the Serpentine. There's a splash as someone dives in and the hum of laughter floats above Sherlock in the air, part of the heat haze.

“Why? We used to do it all the time.”

“That was entirely different.”

“Why? Because it was the Doctor and not me?” Sherlock rolls onto his front and starts pulling at the grass. “I'm just as capable.”

“You're thirteen,” and the exasperation in Mycroft's voice is old and familiar. “There's a difference between a Time Lord and a human child.”

Sherlock drops his head forward so that it's resting against the hot earth. The grass blurs into flat colours this close up and he can see an ant traversing the blades.

“We're not human,” he says, tone made up of resentment. “Not really.”

Mycroft's hand settles over his left shoulder blade, pats. “We are where it matters.”

“But I'm right,” and Sherlock's voice is taking on a whining quality now. The weight of how unfair things have become is oppressive. “You know I am, Mycroft. Where were his shoes—”


It's no use; he's told Mycroft over and over again but the reprimand remains, even as his brother knows that he's right, and Sherlock scowls into the grass.

He knows, the same way that he knows he should have been the Doctor's son, that there is something off about the Carl Powers' murder, and he knows too that the police should be listening to him instead of laughing in his face. He's seen alien revolutions and invasions and historical events that they haven't even learnt about (and a young Edward III still owes him two conkers), and the superiority of being born outside of time makes it sting all the worse.

“I'm right,” he murmurs into the grass as the ant reaches the bottom of the blade, meanders down onto the brown earth. An urge to squash it grabs at Sherlock and he watches it crawling further away. His hand stays at his side.

It's the promise of Cambridge that makes him pass his exams; something old and vaguely familiar, buildings that he's visited more than once in different centuries and that represent not living at home, not being held to Mycroft's rules.

It's almost disappointing that the periodic table is no less improved for being in the Cambridge Chemistry department. He'd almost expected it, this hallowed hall of learning that might finally offer him the challenges he's been waiting five (horrible, terrible, linear) years for. It's the same though, still half-empty, and the sight of it calls a sinking sensation into being in Sherlock's arms and chest.

Cambridge is a disappointment, in the end (just like everything else), so he finds other things to occupy his time instead.

If you were to blame anyone it might be Sebastian. It's not love—Sherlock doesn't think about love any more—but it's enough of an attraction for him to take up the offer and drown his boredom in drifts of white powder.

Benzoylmethylecgonine, he thinks, C17H21NO4. Fourteen-point-six minutes until his senses feel like they're expanding and every problem in the world funnels down into how much of this he can take and how quickly he can take it.

He remembers a planet with nineteen-hour nights and moonlight stronger than the sun.

He'd been very small, not much higher than his mother's knees, and she'd picked him up and pointed at the clouds, thousands and thousands of ice particles suspended in the atmosphere and absorbing the light of the moon; tiny white specks in the black sky.

Cocaine is a thousand tiny specks of white that mean Sherlock is never bored, and when that's no longer true he starts finding new ways to make it entertain him; draws track marks on the insides of his arms with boredom and the ever present absence of his parents. He is so sick of sunrise and sunset and this is the first time since he was thirteen that he thinks he can lose them.

The first time Sherlock wakes up not knowing what day it is, it feels like coming home.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Sherlock drops out of Cambridge.

It's a moment where life becomes one of two choices and he stops, halfway to the exam, thinks about what he's doing there, about what's waiting for him on the paper; the word pointless settles itself into his brain and won't let go.

He walks away.

Sherlock loses years in the feeling of hypodermics in the crook of his arm. It makes time slow-fast-non-linear for all the days that he's missing, and even as the journey is inevitably downwards he finds that he is smiling the whole way.

And then Sherlock is rescued, though he doesn't call it that. Won't. Can't.

He's rescued by a man with a dead son who sees a junkie and decides that he's worth something more than the slow slide of off-white substances into veins.

“Why are you doing this?” Sherlock asks. In not very long that rational voice will become a whine and a need, bigger than the one that has chased Sherlock since he was thirteen years old (home home home), and it will crawl inside his head and make thinking hard.

The man looks at him. Sherlock knows what he sees; long wasted lines and pale skin, dark-circled eyes and a sneering mouth. He doesn't need a mirror to make that deduction.

“Because you can help me,” the man says, finally. “And I can help you.”

Sherlock snorts. “Mycroft's paying you, I suppose?”

The man frowns. Good acting. Sherlock can feel want tugging at him, shredding his senses, and he runs fingertips over the crook of his elbow. The track marks make patterns, he knows. He's traced them.

“Just because I have no parents and you have no son,” he bites out, “doesn't make this fit. You can't try and save me,” and there's derision, things meant more and more for his father and the Doctor and abandonment, still fresh, even as he's watching himself make this man hurt.

“No one's paying me,” he says, words gentle, like Sherlock's a horse who frightens easily. “Your head's too good to rot in here, Sherlock Holmes.”

Rotting is a relative concept, has synonyms and meanings that branch off into different things. His head will be fine, Sherlock knows, if he can only have more; something to quell the boredom of days marching ahead in one direction, because it's stifling and he cannot do it any more.

He wasn't born for this, he thinks; for humanity. His parents have ruined him for anything but time and space.

“I'll make you a deal. Clean yourself up—and I mean clean, no more of this—” and he points to the rotten floorboards and filthy walls and decayed mattress, “and I'll start bringing you in on cases. Properly bringing you in.”

Sherlock has already solved three of his murders without permission. The idea tugs at him, pushes him in one direction even as the drugs are pulling him in another, and the noise is vast and difficult to control.

He laughs, because it seems the only thing to do. “People never keep their promises, Inspector Lestrade. I'll be respectfully declining.”

“You found my son,” Lestrade says.

“And he was dead.” Sherlock weaves his hand between the dust particles in a shaft of dirty sunlight.

There's a pause. “You will be too, if you don't stop.”

Sherlock doesn't want to stop. He wants everything else to stop, or go, or be something more than it already is. He has no hope for this little human world.

He weighs his options up. “Bring me in on your case, the one with the drowning boy,” and Lestrade look surprised when he really shouldn't, because Sherlock has known about that since Lestrade walked in here, “and I'll think about it.”

Because the drugs don't leave much to do these days except die slowly in squalid rooms, and his intellect isn't much use when he's alone in the dark, building castles—free from time—in the air. Sherlock is, once again, bored.

It's not the Carl Powers case and it never will be, but it's a choice. Sherlock hasn't had one of those for a very long time.

It hurts, and makes Sherlock hate the world (more), and when it's over Sherlock is a hyperactive insomniac with an antisocial personality disorder, according to the hospital and then the rehab.

He prefers the term sociopath, personally; doesn't think it's much different from how he was before.

“You're unusually chipper, freak,” Donovan says. He can see her cataloguing the changes; lean rather than thin, brighter eyes and sharper. He smiles at her, wide and vivid, and she looks apprehensive.

“The game is on, Sergeant,” he says, sweeps past her into the crime scene, and then lower, to himself: “The game is finally on.”

Mycroft visits him.

He frowns at the cigarette but doesn't say anything, just leans on his umbrella and stares. It feels like no time at all has passed between here and the market with twin suns and that grates on Sherlock—makes him feel small again, constantly staring upwards into bright sunlight.

“You can't afford to smoke,” Mycroft says. It's very true, but these things are hard to let go of. Sherlock adores nicotine instead of his brother (always there for him versus absent and preoccupied). “You have no income.”

“And I won't have for the foreseeable future, either,” Sherlock replies. He blows smoke into the air and knows that it will silhouette itself against the window.

“There are plenty of opportunities for you, if you look for them.”

Mycroft stopped speaking in anything but riddles a long time ago, became veneered and controlled as Sherlock became everything else, but he's learned how to translate. “I don't want your government job, Mycroft, or your pension fund and health benefits and whatever else you think you're offering me.”

More smoke into the air, drifting in vacant curls. If Mycroft were different he might huff at this point, but he just leans further on the umbrella; his expression is not-disappointment.

“I know you're not getting paid for this work, Sherlock. This—consulting.”

Only Mycroft could make it sound so dirty. He's not getting paid by Lestrade, no, but—there's a business for this sort of thing, somewhere, and maybe Sherlock will make the most of the sordid affairs of human beings. This planet owes him some excitement after all this time.

“I'm not taking a job from you.” I'm not taking anything from you. He never has, despite all of the offers, and the fact that it was someone else who pulled Sherlock from the dark, turned him upside down and rummaged and ransacked until he was clean, is a wedge that will exist between them until (literally) the end of time.

Mycroft won't stop offering, he knows that—and perhaps that's left over from the love their parents gave them, something that fell away in the wake of exile—but Sherlock won't stop refusing, which is something Mycroft knows too.

“It would be a good job, Sherlock,” and the words are a little gentler. The change in tone makes Sherlock tilt his head to the side, like he's listening out for something. “It would be—”

And here Mycroft stops. He doesn't discuss his job with Sherlock, never has, but he knows what it involves. What it means. What it isn't and is. Home, thrumming through everything that he does, and when he was younger it made Sherlock's jealousy twist and fold into new and ever more venomous shapes.

It isn't enough.

“I know what it would be,” he says. Their childhood tied up into knots, shot down and pulled apart and cannibalised for Queen and country. “No thank you.”

Mycroft sucks his cheeks in a little. The pause fills the room. “If you change your mind—”

“I won't.” He won't.

“Well. Another time, perhaps.” Mycroft stops just before the threshold. Sherlock can feel him turn back even if he doesn't see, eyes fixed instead on the grey sky outside. “Goodbye, little brother.”

He knows that to Mycroft he will always be eight years old instead of twenty-eight, will always be small and young and unable to look after himself. He doesn't say anything and the door clicks closed in the silent room. Sherlock continues to blow smoke against the glass of the window.

He thinks he sees the Doctor, once.

It's a man in a leather jacket, tall, close-cropped hair; there's something in the way he moves that Sherlock knows, even as the face is entirely unfamiliar. All he has to do is cross the street, interrupt the girl with the blonde hair and large, spidery eyes, and he won't be stuck any more.

But even if there are rules that you bend, there are other rules that you don't break and he knows that this is one of them.

It's more self-restraint than he's ever shown, borne of selfishness (because if he changes this he might change everything, his own future and past, and he needs it). As he watches them disappear into the masses he settles a hand over the crook of his arm, and the track marks burn his palm even through layers of shirt and jacket and coat.

He texts Lestrade incessantly for three days until he gives him a new case.

There is another man with a different jacket, shorter, close-cropped hair of his own. An army doctor with a psychosomatic limp and a stolen gun, and he is the first human that Sherlock has met in twenty years who represents something other than exile.

Sherlock fixes John's limp and his life and his boredom.

John fixes the parts of Sherlock that Time saw fit to break.

To be continued.
(Deleted comment)
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; cityscapesciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you for everything (which means not just the nice comment but the months of cheerleading and rereading)! ♥
Misanthropic Anthropologist: #BakerStreetcall_me_ishmael on April 21st, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)

I don't even watch Who and I LOVE THIIIIIIIIIIIS. It's so gorgeous!
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; meme; science smashsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
♥ Thank you!
eglantine_breglantine_br on April 21st, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC)
It makes sense. Seems right. I would like more. Thanks
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; you don't observesciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you liked it.
Minim Calibreminim_calibre on April 21st, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Wow. Damn. Yes.
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: dw; amy; bluesciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
Hah, thank you! :)
diane_mckaydiane_mckay on April 21st, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
this is brilliant and just works

more soon please!
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; blurredsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you! So glad that you liked it and thought it worked.
░: with a boxintroductory on April 21st, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
You already know how I feel about this. God, how many times can I say you have the most exquisite talent with words before I get tired of saying it? Never.

Looking forward to part two, where I will undoubtedly cry and blubber all over your comments. You are amazing.
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; time travellersciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you ♥
clarkoholic: SHERLOCK: cheekbones'll cut a bitchclarkoholic on April 21st, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
ALDSKJF;A;LKSDJF there is not enough keysmash in the world to describe how I'm feeling right now. This is spectacular, brilliant, heartbreaking, thrilling, and every other adjective that basically means amazing.

God, poor Sherlock. His and Mycroft's reactions to their situation are so perfectly in character. How Mycroft deals but Sherlock simply refuses because it's all too much and not enough. It's crazy how well this fits into the Sherlock canon. You've done amazing work and I cannot wait to read what's to come. Please don't keep us waiting too long! This is the perfect fusion of Sherlock and Who. PERFECT!
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; meme; science smashsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Those are particularly pleasing adjectives and I'm so, so glad that you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading and commenting, it's very appreciated.
Meredith: awesome squared!gladdecease on April 21st, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes please. This is lovely, looking forward to more!
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; violin (II)sciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! More will be forthcoming. So glad you enjoyed it!
don't trust the storyteller; only trust the story: dr masterlillyankh on April 21st, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
fleeeeeeeeeeeeec you are so amazing. I love this, and you already know how much because I'm flailing all over the chat.

ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; meme; in the time ofsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Lilly lilly lilly, thank you! ♥
Liz Pink: coat-sherlock-johnlizzledpink on April 21st, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)



ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; meme; science smashsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
Liz, I always enjoy your capslock! Thank you! ♥ ALWAYS GINGERLOCK, ALWAYS
Valar Morghulistigertrapper on April 21st, 2011 11:52 pm (UTC)


ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; meme; in the time ofsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:41 pm (UTC)

No, I'll resist. SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT ♥
cee_em: Sherlock-Srslycee_em on April 21st, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
I'm going to follow the trend of absolutely loving this fic. It is amazing. And it's also getting me even more excited for the new Who that's coming up.
Sherlock and Doctor Who is amazing. I never thought of it like this though..wow..just.wow.
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s&j; blah blahsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for commenting.
tartan: TARDIS -tartancravat on April 21st, 2011 11:57 pm (UTC)
I read this entire thing and then realized who'd written it. HI FLEC. YOUR FIC IS GORGEOUS.

Oh man, this works in so many ways. "The first time Sherlock wakes up not knowing what day it is, it feels like coming home." PERFECT. NEW HEADCANON. That line totally got me.

Excuse me while I flail all over my computer. Absolutely cannot wait to find out what happens next.
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: dw; 11; yellowsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
HI TARTAN. THANK YOU. I'm so glad you enjoyed that line, I think it's one of (if not) my favourites. Thank you for reading and commenting!
beansidhe_babybeansidhe_baby on April 22nd, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
O. M. G.

This is fucking stunning. Sherlock seeing Nine with Rose was particuarly heartrending </3
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: dw; text; fandom is bigger on the insidesciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading :)
madder_badder: sulkmadder_badder on April 22nd, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
This is wonderful! I am so looking forward to the rest!

ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ: sherlock; s; lower the IQsciosophia on May 7th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it :)