Title: It’s All Fine
Author: Keira Marcos
Cover Art: The Other Willow
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes (BBC ‘Verse)
Genre: Character study, pre-slash, AU
Rating: R (violence)
Word Count: 4,400
Warnings: Homicide, glancing reference to rape, domestic and child abuse, not Brit-picked
Summary: I don’t prey on the weak or the innocent. I could say that it would be wrong, but frankly I’d be lying to you if I said that I gave a fuck about right and wrong. I don’t hunt them because they are boring and also because Mycroft said I couldn’t.
* * * *
The second time I saw a dead body, I was twelve years old. Nanny Fiona had been, in life, quick to smile and laugh. She’d played games with me and taught me my letters and numbers. Her voice had been rich like the lyrical music of Ireland. Her skin—pale and luxurious like sweet cream. Her blood had pooled around her—crimson and so beautiful I could not catch my breath. Her vivid green eyes dulled even as I watched the life ebb out of her body.
Death was exciting—dying was the most interesting thing that Nanny Fiona had ever done in front of me. Mycroft, even then, saw me as his responsibility. He also saw the darkness I carried inside me. I never bothered to hide from him—it would have been pointless. He knew my secrets—the experiments I carefully tucked away in the attic. He knew what really happened the rabbit Aunt Matilda gave me for Easter the year I turned eight. He knew and he never told. I wonder, if even then, he understood how useful I would be to him later in life.
The third dead body I saw was Charles, the gardener. He had to pay, of course, for what he had done to Fiona. I’d quite liked her—even if I’d already determined I was too old for a nanny. Charles died quickly—too quickly in retrospect. I hardly got to enjoy it. It certainly hadn’t been as thrilling as watching Nanny Fiona’s somewhat unfortunate demise. Drowning was hardly any fun at all, for either of us.
Even Mycroft had agreed with my reasoning concerning our homicidal gardener. It wouldn’t have been at all proper to allow such a violent man to remain in such close proximity to Mummy. The police ruled it an accident. They all commented on how unwise it had been for young Charles to mix drink with sleeping pills and then take a bath. Boring. I would have told them exactly how wrong, wrong, wrong they were if Mycroft hadn’t made it clear I wasn’t to upset Mummy.
In the years that followed, my experimentation into the matters of death was extensive to say the least. I was careful, so very careful to never take anyone that would earn Mycroft’s disapproval. I could hardly stand him but he alone made certain that I had all that I needed to sufficiently entertain myself.
At university, I made a thorough and extensive examination of human sexuality. I fucked and was fucked by a variety of men and women. Most of it was rather tedious but I never had a problem maintaining sexual arousal or achieving orgasm, something I’ve learned is quite rare for a man of my unique nature.
The first time I was labeled a sociopath—Mummy fired the psychologist on the spot and threatened him with dire legal consequences if he ever told a single person his opinion of her child. She demanded all of his records pertaining to me and promised retribution if she found out he had copies. The man had shook—pale and horrified through his claims that he hadn’t made copies of his evaluations of me. She burned the entire file in the kitchen fireplace and told me to never speak of it.
I immediately went and told Mycroft everything as I was seven and he was the only one I had to tell anything at the time. Thank fuck that is no longer the case. I’d go quite mad if I didn’t have Jim to talk to. John found the presence of Jim in the flat quite horrifying, at first. Every time he entered the room for the first week, his gaze would dart towards the shelf where the skull sat and his mouth would get a little tight.
I called Jim a friend but it was so much more than that. Jim was the two hundredth person I’d killed and his skull remains the only souvenir I’ve ever taken. I didn’t take the head at the time but later on, after a suitable time had passed, I asked Mycroft if I might have the skull and one of his minions dug it up for me.
Some might wonder why I’d keep his skull after never having any interest in reminders before. I don’t need his empty skull to remind me of how sweet and perfect and thrilling it had been to kill him. A kill sanctioned and all but ordered by the British government, by the way. I keep the skull because Jim Moriarty was and remains the most challenging individual I have ever faced.
A consulting criminal. A brilliant consulting criminal who went out of his way not to get my attention but the moment I knew about him—I knew that would not always be the case. I knew his kind. I was intimate with the inner workings of his mind and knew eventually he would grow bored with his little criminal games and seek me out for something bigger and more entertaining. Mycroft knew this as well. I targeted him before he ever had the idea to set his eyes on me. While Mycroft merrily went about dismantling his criminal infrastructure—I stalked young, smart Jim across three continents and eventually ended up killing him in my own flat when he made the mistake of killing my landlord in some twisted and misinformed gesture of revenge.
Mrs. Hudson was quite relieved to be quit of her husband and I was put out because it had been my intention to kill him very dead in a few months because he was absolute pig and a bore on top it. I rarely if ever allow myself to get angry but Jim messed with my plans. I’d meant to take him out in South America—drag him off into the jungle and let nature have his remains but the crafty little bastard caught a plane back to England before I could. Finding him entertaining Mrs. Hudson and a decidedly dead Mr. Hudson over tea and biscuits in my own flat was just more than I could tolerate frankly. Also, Mrs. Hudson’s biscuits were too good for the likes of him.
I had to replace the couch and she had sign the Official Secrets Act while my brother loomed over her and fiddled menacingly with his umbrella. It was all truly tedious to be honest. She believes, quite rightly, that I saved her life and as such dotes on me to an agreeable level that always insures I have tea when I need it most. She has the most fascinating sense of timing on when tea and biscuits are most needed. I tried to study her once but there was no rhyme or reason to her abilities. She is as much a freak of nature as I am but again her biscuits are excellent.
Fourteen months after I killed Jim—spraying his blood over the horrendous flower bedecked sofa and wall paper, I met Dr. John Watson. I really didn’t need a flat mate if I were to be entirely honest. Mycroft handled my money—both my trust and the money I received from odd jobs I did for Her Majesty. He did force me to keep a budget and he monitored my spending because I had a fascinating and exhilarating brush with cocaine when I was at university. I adored it. It adored me. I assumed, rightly so, that I’d met my perfect match. Mycroft didn’t agree and it upset Mummy.
John was practically the perfect flat mate. He never much minded my experiments and I was careful to only get my body parts from Molly at any rate. Completely legal and sanctioned, sort of, experiments that helped me solve cases. Ah, cases. The only thing that really equaled watching someone die was finding out who killed the people I didn’t. I look forward to the day that Lestrade calls me to the scene of one my own… little experiments. As yet, in the four years that I’d worked as a consultant for Scotland Yard—it had never happened. Mycroft was excellent at cleaning up afterwards.
For months, John suspected nothing. I’m certain of it. I made it a point to go out at all times of the day and night—even when I had no personal hunting to do. There were no routines for me to mess about with or concern myself with keeping. He only ever knew where I was when I specifically told him. I rarely, if ever, underestimate someone and since the night John had killed that mad cabbie for me without even flinching, with his unassuming looks and illegal gun I’d known that John Watson was a killer.
He was nothing like me—he had morals and compassion and ideals that evolved around justice and honor. John was a soldier and a doctor—a healer and a killer all wrapped up in a cuddly, excessively unfashionable jumper. It was the damnedest thing.
John had morals and I had a code—we both skirted the edge of what most would consider civilized behavior on a regular basis and sometimes afterward we’d giggle over Chinese food.
The code was simple. It kept me out of a cage—a cell—an institution. I had no doubts that should I ever be found out and convicted I would find myself in an institution or solitary confinement for the rest of my life. That’s what they do with sociopaths. But, Mycroft had other ideas about me and my unique fascination with death. He taught me not to get caught—to never get caught. I learned early on that no kill was worth my freedom. I played by Mycroft’s rules so that I could continue to play.
It would have been easy to pick my prey among the homeless—so few of them have any real connection with the world and won’t be missed by anyone that matters. It’s a harsh thing to say but it’s no less true. I don’t prey on the weak or the innocent. I could say that it would be wrong, but frankly I’d be lying to you if I said that I gave a fuck about right and wrong. I don’t hunt them because they are boring and also because Mycroft said I couldn’t.
I don’t need to feed the darkness I carry often—I can go months without giving into it and sometimes do if it is necessary. I’m very good at finding bad people—rapists, murderers, pedophiles, and the like. Mycroft says I can kill them all I want as long as I don’t get caught. But, I have to prove it him that they deserve it. At first, this was tedious but soon it became part of the game. Gathering the evidence to prove that my prey deserved whatever I did to them became almost as thrilling as actually doing them.
It was that very thing that lead me to harassing DI Lestrade into allowing me to consult with the Met. Sometimes, cops can be intolerable but solving crimes does alleviate my boredom when there is no one handy for me to kill.
John. It comes back to John, doesn’t it? I suppose I’d hoped that he would never realize what I truly was. He laughed it off when I told him I was a highly functional sociopath. He rolled his eyes at Anderson at crime scenes and glared at Donovan when she said cruel things about me. I didn’t even have to pretend to be offended by her to get him to glare at her anymore.
On two different occasions, her behavior had so irritated John that he’d dragged me from the scene and told Lestrade to get fucked and solve his own murder if he couldn’t control his people. I’d been so blasted fascinated by John’s behavior that I hadn’t cared at all about leaving the scene. Of course, I’d texted Lestrade later and solved both cases because I do enjoy taking the Yard’s money. It amuses me greatly to see those deposits in my account and besides it keeps John in tea because I split my fee on legitimate cases with him.
He’d worked at a clinic for nearly six months after he moved in with me but an ill-fated relationship with his boss had put an end to the job when she broke up with him and then suggested that he find employment elsewhere. At that point, he’d already pressed me into making my consulting gig more of a business and it was easy to manipulate him into joining me full time. He loved the thrill of the chase and the cases and the crime. I think he might have even loved me before… before he saw what he saw.
I didn’t notice him following me. It was my mistake and perhaps it all falls down to the fact that I’m quite used to having John nearby—at my side, tucked in his own bed in the flat, in the chair across from me with a medical journal or a novel with his ever present cup of tea. John is just part of my environment these days.
Robert Strickland was a bad man. In the six weeks since he’d caught my eye on the street, I’d learned enough about him to know that he would be perfect. He would sate the desire for blood that drifted under my skin and quiet the darkness that I carried for a little while at least. Following him home had been child’s play—sliding a needle into his neck and sedating him had been just as easy.
I’d made quick work of unpacking my kit and preparing for the kill. As I’d prepared the bedroom, Robert had woken up and I’d had the opportunity to explain to him why he was currently stripped and tied to his own bed. He just wasn’t the kind of man I could allow to continue to walk the streets of London. He, I explained, made my city unsafe and that was simply unacceptable.
Robert had tried to speak around the gag in his mouth but I wasn’t interested in his words, in his defense. There was nothing he could say that would make me change my mind about him. In my mind he was already dead—sticking my knife into him was practically incidental. Except, of course, how much I was going to adore what came after that. The act of killing itself wasn’t what amused me—though I do quite enjoy exploring a fresh corpse if I have the right equipment. Perhaps, I should have become a medical examiner.
I’d pushed the knife into his side, between his ribs and into his lung. Then pulled it free so that I could stab him again. Three times he took the hot, sharp bite of my blade—tears were streaming down the sides of his face by the third. I told him why. I told him how he was lucky that I could only verify three. Three children in the school where he taught mathematics who would never be innocent again because Robert couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
Then, I sat back on my heels by the bed and watched him die just like I’d watched Nanny Fiona die. Robert wasn’t beautiful in death—he fought it selfishly, made horrible noises as the reaper claimed him. His last breath had rattled out of his body audibly and I’d found it so amusing that I laughed a little. It was better than Christmas.
It was the intake of breath that let me know I wasn’t alone. I looked up as John stepped out of the shadows of the hallway, pale and shocked. His eyes had drifted over Robert’s body—the doctor in him taking stock of the wounds and the death that I had caused. Then he’d turned and left without speaking.
Now, I find myself pacing in front of Baker Street trying to make sense of this place that I’ve come to and I can’t. I don’t know what comes next and I hate the confusion of that. I hate not knowing what to do. John has always been more difficult to read than most of the people in my life. He’s often a source of surprise and wonder. I do enjoy that about him—under normal circumstances.
I was prepared to defend myself, to lay myself bare before John Watson without a single hesitation but I didn’t know if it would be enough.
I feel strongly about my mother—fear for her health and her safety and have never liked it when she was cross with me. Mycroft assures me that what I feel for her is love but I can hardly know for certain. Mycroft alternately makes me furious and amused. That’s really all need be said about my relationship with my brother.
But John. John Watson is another matter altogether. It would be easy to say—I want him. It would even be true. I do want him. I’ve wanted him since I looked up and saw him standing, unassuming and guileless on the other side of the police barricade looking for all the world like he’d accidently stumbled across a crime scene. I’d clutched that ridiculous shock blanket in those moments and spun a wild, foolish tale for Lestrade in an effort to make sure that the Yard never even considered looking towards my doctor when it came to the matter of the dead serial killer cabbie.
The twenty-seventh time I crossed in front of the building, my mobile went off. I answered it hesitantly when I realized it was John.
“For fuck’s sake, Sherlock, will you come into the flat? It’s raining you complete git!”
Oh. It was raining. I hurriedly rushed up the steps and into the building with a blush stealing across my cheeks. Which was stupid and ridiculous. I hadn’t blushed since… well, to be frank I’m not even certain I’ve ever blushed before but since my face felt uncomfortably hot I could only assume I was blushing.
John was sitting in his chair, brooding over a cup of steaming tea when I came into the flat. He lifted his gaze, inspected me and snorted. “Go change out of your wet clothes before you make yourself sick. I’ve made you tea.”
I started to protest but the reprieve was most welcome. Still, I rushed through changing my clothes, checked my hands for the fifth time to make sure I’d left no blood on my skin, and then went out to face John wrapped in my favorite dressing gown for the comfort of it. I wondered, briefly, what John would say and how Mycroft would fix it if it became a problem. I knew I wouldn’t be able to allow Mycroft to get rid of John. John Watson was simply too amazing to just have disappeared.
John stared at me until I sat down on the sofa and picked up my tea. He pursed his lips briefly and then sighed. “Sherlock.”
Very few people in my life can say my name in such a way that it sounds like admonishment and exasperation and fondness all at the same time. John is one of those people and I relaxed a little because he appeared more baffled than angry.
“He was a very bad man, John.”
“I know,” John murmured. “I heard you—present his crimes to him before you…” He sighed. “How long have you been doing this?”
I stared down at my tea. “Does it matter?”
“Yes, I’m afraid it does.”
I nodded and considered how to say it. “My parents didn’t have a happy marriage. I knew that despite Mycroft and Mummy’s efforts to keep me in the dark about how bad things were. Mycroft protected me and often took my punishments if Father became angry with me. He was angry with me often because… I didn’t fear him. I didn’t have the ability to fear him, you see. He would scream and yell and throw things around the room and I would just stare at him, as if he were some unique and rare puzzle. He was the first person to ever call me Freak. In fact, I don’t think he said my real name the entire last year of his life.”
“What happened to him?”
“When I was seven—I walked in on him hurting my mother. Mummy was crying and begging him to stop and I didn’t quite know what was happening. It wasn’t until I turned fourteen that I realized that I’d walked in on him raping my mother.” I glanced up at John’s harsh intake of breath. “Your own parents had a difficult relationship.”
“Yes, not quite that bad but yes.”
I sighed. “All I knew was that he was hurting her and that couldn’t be allowed. I shouted at him to stop and I ran to them. I hit him as hard as I could and screamed at him to leave her alone. Mycroft came in then. I’m sure that’s the only reason he didn’t beat me to death. He left the house and was gone for weeks before she allowed him to return. I didn’t understand why he was back but I knew that he would hurt us again. That he would hurt her and I couldn’t let that happen. I told Mycroft we needed to stop him.”
“Yes.” Even now, no guilt over what I’d done that warm summer day surfaced. “Sometimes when I was in trouble, Mummy would make me work in the garden as punishment. The gardener taught me all about different plants and which ones I shouldn’t mess with because they were dangerous.”
“You poisoned your own father.”
“That had been my intention, yes.” I paused and sipped from my tea. “But, he complained that the tea tasted funny and refused to drink all of it. He drank enough, however, to make him sleepy. It was very important that he die that day as Mummy was in London and couldn’t be blamed. Mycroft believed I was young enough that the police would never suspect me.”
“What did you do?”
“I pushed him down the stairs—two full flights. He broke his neck and it was eventually ruled accidental with a notation in the file that the victim had been self-medicating with Belladonna.” I drank more my tea and glanced up at John again. He was staring into his own cup as if it held the secrets of life. “I didn’t enjoy it.”
“No. It was just necessary to protect Mummy but I didn’t enjoy it.”
I looked briefly at the skull and pursed my lips. “Counting the wretched Mr. Strickland? Two-hundred forty-six.”
“Okay.” John set aside his cup and leaned forward even as he paled. “Okay. Two questions.”
“Have you ever framed someone for one of your own killings?”
“No.” I was very relieved to have the right answer to that question. “I’ve never even investigated one of my own kills. Mycroft… takes care of things.”
“Right.” John shook his head but didn’t appear at all surprised by that. “Have you ever killed someone who didn’t deserve it?”
I hesitated. I wasn’t perfect. I’d made a mistake once… early on and Mycroft had not been at all lenient with me. “When I was at university, I developed a singular interest in cocaine. I found it practically perfect as a hobby—though both Mummy and Mycroft vehemently disagreed with the relationship.” I paused when John snorted his agreement. “Mycroft cut off my funds when he discovered I had a problem and I… responded quite violently when my dealer refused to sell to me. I knew Mycroft had gotten to him and I didn’t know where else I could buy it and money was limited.”
“You killed him.”
John grimaced. “I’m not sure that I agree with you on the idea that he didn’t have it coming—drug dealers aren’t high on my list of good people.”
“Yes, but Mycroft has rules that I must follow and I violated those rules. He forced me to stay with Mummy for six months.” I grimaced at the memory of it. “She berated me every morning as a matter of routine on the subject of drug use. I have not used since. She doesn’t know about… she must never know. It would upset her greatly.”
“Mycroft.” John exhaled sharply. “Two months ago when he had an assignment for you—a case that you had to work alone. He had you kill someone?”
“I can’t…” I paused. “I can’t talk about those things without permission, John.”
I watched Watson nod and then his gaze settled on the skull. He cleared his throat and rubbed one completely steady hand over his face. “So, Jim.”
“Ah, Jim.” A dual purpose experiment. He had died so dramatically and with such child-like glee—as if he too was just as thrilled with the idea as I’d been. “He enjoyed his death more than I did I believe. Odd fellow. Consulting criminal. Absolutely brilliant and so insane that when I finally did kill him I was stunned that he’d been left unattended to walk among the general population.” I glanced towards the sofa that I’d purchased to replace the one that Jim had gotten so dirty when he bled out. I liked the leather and it was very comfortable for my various activities. Just yesterday I had indulged in a four hour sulk in my dressing gown on it. “Mycroft let me have the skull as a memento. I do doubt I’ll ever hunt anyone as entertaining as Jim was.”
“A high functioning sociopath,” John murmured.
His tone of voice gave away little information. Watson no longer appeared shocked but I could not determine if he was slightly confused and amused as he normally is around me when I do something he doesn’t expect or if he’d entered into some new territory. “Yes.” I rubbed my thumb over my cloth covered knee. “Is that… is that alright?”
John huffed and then laughed—genuine, startlingly beautiful laughter and I relaxed in my chair. “I told you, Sherlock. It’s fine. It’s all fine.”