Continued from Part IChapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14 - Chapter 15
- Chapter 16 - Chapter 17 - Chapter 18 - Chapter 19 - Chapter 20
“Everything.” Greg insisted before John could speak.
“Just, from the start.” John frowned warningly at Greg, but he refused to look at him. “You’ve never told me your Bearer’s name. Since it’s not Mummy, I mean.”
“No, not her.” Sherlock swallowed. “Dorian. His name was Dorian.”
“Not very French.” Greg automatically commented.
“French?” John blinked.
Sherlock sighed. “If you’re referring to that awful clock, that branch of his family had been in England so long they didn’t even speak French. No, the French comes from Maman’s Sire, not Mémé. You’re more French than Mémé.”
Greg’s mouth pursed. “So you know about that, huh?”
“That’s you’re first generation English? Please, it’s obvious.” Sherlock scoffed.
“Yeah, well Mycroft missed the memo.” Greg looked sour. “Not the point. Keep going. Dorian.”
“Dorian Emanuel Vernet Montpellier, yes.” Sherlock paused again, gathering his thoughts. “I guess the story starts during Dorian’s year travelling after university. Worked hard, got his degree, off to see the world then back for settling down and a career. Usual story, I suppose. First stop was Italy, where, in what he saw at the time as the intervention of fate or whatnot, he finds himself being dragged out of the midst of a brawl he’d accidently wandered into by a handsome English Alpha, twenty two and halfway through his own Grand Tour.”
“Siger Holmes.” Greg sipped his tea.
“Yes.” Sherlock frowned up at the ceiling in thought. “He must have been different then. Dorian was young and naïve, but he wasn’t an idiot. He’d dated before, he knew the game, but…
“Holiday fling, they decided. After all, Siger only had six months travel left so it wasn’t anything serious. Siger was supposed to finish in Germany, which became Austria, then Turkey, then Greece, but they kept drawing it out.
“I,” Sherlock stopped dead and pressed his lips into a tight line. Patiently, John and Greg waited for him to start again.
“I’ve seen pictures.” Sherlock said in a rush. “Maman would show me pictures and tell me about their adventures, how they feel in love. I can’t recognise him, Siger. He looks different. Not younger. Different.”
“Happy? In love?” John suggested.
“Yes, both. Open. It’s not him as I ever remember. Maman always used to say he’d changed, that it wasn’t his fault. I don’t know, but I can’t believe Dorian would have fallen in love with him as I knew him, so maybe.”
“People do change.” John allowed a little stiffly.
He still wanted to dig up Siger’s grave and burn his bones though.
“Eventually Siger’d stayed almost the whole twelve months of Dorian’s trip and they fancied themselves in love, or Dorian did, whichever, so when he went into Heat towards the end of the trip, Siger stayed for that too.
“They Bonded. Surprised them both, but they were Bonded. Even more unexpectedly as he wasn’t at full sexual maturity yet, Dorian was pregnant.”
“Mycroft.” Greg guessed.
Sherlock nodded. “So twelve months up and deliriously happy, Dorian returns with his Alpha to England, where he discovers Siger is heir to an old and well off title and is already engaged to be married.”
“But they Bonded so…” John confirmed, leaning forward in his chair.
“Bonding isn’t actually a legal status, you know.” Sherlock’s thumb drifted over his collar. “He wasn’t bound; no collar. Not even a bracelet.”
“But they’d Bonded.” John repeated disbelievingly.
“Bonding itself is no guarantee of a happy relationship, John.” Sherlock snapped. “You already know he married her.”
“But they’d Bonded!”
The entire concept was incomprehensible to John. He honestly could not fathom how Siger Holmes could throw over his Bonded Omega
for someone else, someone he wasn’t even sexually compatible with.
“And he married her. He would have had to have a sanctioned affair at some point or another to produce a viable heir, so it was hardly unexpected. For him. Dorian… not so much.”
“Jesus…” John slumped back in his chair.
He’d never met Dorian Montpellier, never heard his name mentioned, but he felt for him. To go away on holiday, meet the Alpha you believed would be the love of your life and be thrown over while pregnant
for his fiancée
“What did he do?” John asked. “Dorian, your Bearer.”
“He was twenty-one and pregnant, what do you think he did?” Sherlock mumbled into his sleeve. “He cried and moved in with them like he was told to. Got his own room and everything.”
“Jesus…” John swore again at the reminder of just how young Sherlock’s Bearer had been.
“So, your Sire knocked up and Bonded an Omega, married the Bitch-Cow anyway, and had them both live together, in the one house?” Greg summarised, looking dumbfounded.
“It was a very big house.”
“Bloody hell. It could be a mansion and that wouldn’t work. Didn’t Dorian’s family say anything?”
“Like what? He was Bonded, that made him Siger’s property
. It was still the sixties.”
“So they didn’t help him at all?” John could feel the little spark of anger flickering inside.
“Yes, they tried, there was just nothing they could do. I believe. I wasn’t exactly there. Certainly my understanding is that at first it wasn’t awful and Dorian didn’t want help.”
“Pregnancy pheromones.” Greg nodded, closing his eyes at the memory. “They do rather override a lot.”
“I’m sure Siger was very attentive during Dorian’s pregnancy. I imagine right up until the wedding Dorian was hoping Siger would call it off, and by then he was right on the cusp of giving birth.”
“Shit, poor kid.” Greg chewed on his lip.
John forced himself to take another sip of his tea before it got too cold. So far everything just seemed so farfetched, but there was no reason Sherlock would make this up. It certainly fit with Sherlock and Mycroft’s behavioural patterns, and if it were true, it was tragically appalling.
“I imagine life deteriorated fast. Mummy would have taken every indignity out on him, and Sherringford is less than a year younger than Mycroft, so there would have been a substantial amount of jostling for position going on.” Sherlock hesitated. “The Montpelliers and the Vernets, they’re not like the Old Families in England. Dorian wouldn’t have grown up with it. The politics.”
“So a lamb thrown to the sharks. Christ. She would have destroyed him.” Greg’s fingers tightened aggressively around his mug. John could tell he was wishing Mummy was there so he could punch her.
“He lasted two years.” Sherlock agreed.
“Lasted? What do you mean lasted?” John frowned.
“Before he left.”
“He left?” John blinked in shock.
“Good.” Greg smiled viciously. “He and Mycroft -“
“He didn’t take Mycroft.” Sherlock quietly interrupted.
“What?” Greg’s face morphed from feral triumph to sullen anger. “What do you mean he didn’t take him?”
“Exactly that Lestrade.” Sherlock sounded deliberately bored.
It was all John could do not to go over and hug him, but that would end the discussion and from the sound of what they’d heard so far, they needed to hear the rest.
“Mycroft was a baby. What do you mean he left his baby? Greg was back to full-fledged anger, the kind that leaked out in a snarl.
“I mean he had a choice between staying or leaving and he left, and Mycroft was a toddler, not a baby. Almost two.”
“So old enough to know he’d been abandoned.” Greg’s eyes flashed.
Greg, John thought, was biased against the whole idea. A new Dad, the idea of anyone daring to leave their child with people he considered entirely unsuitable for breathing let alone raising a child was as incomprehensible to him as being with someone not your Bonded was to John. John couldn’t imagine it either, but he was used to the idea that desperate people did desperate things. He’d seen the measures Omegas had taken in Afghanistan, throwing their children into compounds or leaving babies at the road side when a patrol was scheduled to pass, hoping that they’d get taken away to England to be looked after.
“Taking him wouldn’t have been an option. Do you really think Mycroft earned his position, Lestrade, that he was promoted into it? He inherited
it when Siger died, just like everything else. Oh he’s good at it, the best in generations, but the Family has occupied that position and that office for centuries. It was created
for them. How far do you think a penniless twenty three year old would have got, running away with the presumptive Holmes heir?”
Greg shook his head obstinately. “He should have tried.”
“He wouldn’t have made it to international waters.” Sherlock dismissed Greg’s complaint out of hand.
“It must have been hell.” John added quietly.
“Good. It should have been.” Greg snapped.
“To drive him away.” John clarified. “He would have known the consequences, being Bonded.”
He paused, not sure how to phrase the next bit. “How long did he manage?”
“Too long.” The growl came from the other armchair where Greg had pulled right back and puffed up, arms closed.
“Greg,” John bit his lip, then went for it. “I’ve never met him, but I promise it wouldn’t have been an easy decision. Dorian’s as much of a victim in this as anyone else.”
“Leaving meant he was condemning himself to a different kind of torture.” John interrupted. “It’s common knowledge Bonded Omegas go into Heat more often, one of those things everyone knows and so no one really believes.”
“So?” Greg arched an eyebrow.
, I’ve been reading up because of – reading up and apparently there is a correlation. Their Heats come closer together and last longer, trying to maximise the chance of conception. It’s why they usually have such big broods.”
John’s gaze flicked to Sherlock, then back to Greg. The Omega’s eyes were screwed shut. It was painful to look at Sherlock’s face and feel the answering throb in his chest.
Greg just stared at him, not impressed. John sighed.
“By the end he would have been going through Heat almost monthly, with no Alpha, and it would have lasted longer each time. That is torture of a different sort, and he would have known it was coming. To leave his child and run away to
that… whatever he was living through must have been worse.”
Greg looked chastened, slightly, but not forgiving.
“What happened?” John asked, turning fully back to Sherlock.
Sherlock opened his eyes. John wished he would look at them, turn his head just slightly and make eye contact. Instead Sherlock just continued to stare off into space.
“He negotiated.” Sherlock said. “He needed Siger, but by then Siger needed him just as much in his own way. It was common gossip his Bonded Omega had run off, an even bigger scandal than marrying someone else since it was a blatant political match. Neither of them, Mummy or Siger, wanted to play Sub more than they had to and if he had so much as touched anyone else she’d have had his balls ripped through his wallet. After five years, I imagine he was desperate to get off.”
“Undoubtedly.” John shifted in his seat, his erection from the day before still an unfulfilled memory.
“Dorian was older and wiser, more worldly, had some of his own money. No much, but enough to be more confident, so he set his terms and stuck to them and eventually Siger gave in and agreed.”
“What were his terms?” John was curious, especially as it was acceptance of them that had set the stage for his love’s existence.
“His own place. That was the main one – he refused to live with them. He would spend his Heats with Siger, but anything else Siger would have to earn. Any children stayed with him, though he couldn’t deny Siger access, and he got access to Mycroft.”
“But Mycroft wasn’t to live with him?” Greg frowned.
“He did by the end, but at first he didn’t want to. He hated Maman.”
“Because he left.”
“Yes. I imagine he was told all sorts of things about him in the meantime. He never passed them on. Later he said once, when he was older, that he understood, he agreed with what Dorian had done. I don’t know if he’s changed his opinion again, with Ben. He might have. You have.”
John could see the pinched look on Greg’s face as the strike hit home, and mentally applauded Sherlock. Before Ben, Greg’s view was, get out however you can and get help for yourself and the kids once you were out, or leave the baby on the Sire’s door step if it was a different person. Now, with Ben, his opinion actually more closely resembled the general populations – how dare you leave.
Greg didn’t say anything back. Neither did Sherlock.
“Sherlock?” John prompted him.
“Yes, yes.” He took a deep breath. “Maman never told me what happened when he came back. Mycroft might have been told more. Mycroft was told a lot, towards the … So he might know. He’d probably remember anyway...
“Sherringford does, or liked to pretend he did. He’d tell me things, about how Dorian w – about how things were when he came back. He’d go on and on about how awful it was, being forced to live with him while the house was finalised, about how to make sure he knew his place they’d leave him locked in his room while he was in Estrus and have sex next door where he could hear because he was just Siger’s Omega slut, not his wife, and there was no way Mummy was having that under her roof.
“It might be true, or it might not be. Sherringford was trying to be cruel, but that doesn’t necessarily make it more or less likely either way. Given my birthday, I wasn’t conceived until Dorian had been back in England for over six months though, which suggests it might be more rather than less accurate.”
“I thought you said he got his own place.” John frowned; the itching need to violate Siger Holmes’s grave in some despicable manner growing again.
“It had to be renovated first. I assume Siger insisted he stay at the estate until after that.”
“It might not have happened first time?” Greg appeared to be trying for a measure of comfort.
“John.” Sherlock intoned deeply, handballing the denial squarely into his Alpha’s lap.
“Huh? Well, late twenties, early thirties, it’d be, I mean most, well-”
“What John is trying unsuccessfully to skirt around is that a non-defective Omega in his late twenties to mid-thirties would still be at peak fertility and especially after so long away from his Alpha, conception would have been instantaneous. That I’m not a triplet says more about Siger’s virility than Dorian’s fertility.”
‘You aren’t defective.’ John wanted to say. He wanted to go over and wrap himself around Sherlock and whisper it in his ear again and again and again and again until he believed him, but the brittle undertone meant Sherlock wouldn’t have accepted the comfort, and John couldn’t stand to be rejected, not when his heart was already so bruised for and by Sherlock.
The pain must have shown on his face, because Greg flashed him a look and then turned back to Sherlock, forcing out another question while John collected himself.
“So, shouldn’t there be more or you then? Siblings, I mean. Are there? More of you?”
Sherlock’s lips pressed harder, fine wrinkles fanning out of the corners before he consciously relaxed them. “There was one more.”
“Uh, was?” Greg blinked furiously, looking extremely hesitant as he realised exactly what he’d wandered into.
“Older half-sister. She died not long after her first birthday. There are photos of us together as babies at a Christmas, but I believe that was the only time I met her.”
“Right so uh…” Greg frowned.
John assumed like himself Greg was slotting older, first birthday, Christmas, and Sherlock’s birthday in early January together to come up with a couple of month age gap between the her and Sherlock.
“But, uh, no other full siblings?” John jumped in. “Or half, half is fine too.”
“No.” Sherlock looked disinclined to say more, so when he suddenly continued, it was over John opening his mouth to ask another question. “When I was about eighteen months, Maman got sick. Very sick. Enough so that Mycroft was taken out of school to come to London in case
. The doctors never reached an official diagnosis, but the barrage of tests they ran did show that whatever it was had destroyed his fertility and it was unlikely he’d ever have another Heat.”
“Christ.” John took an involuntary gasp of breath.
“Bloody hell, and they never figured out what it was?” Greg looked as stunned as John felt.
“Officially, no.” Sherlock’s toes flexed against the couch. “Unofficially, during some unrelated research of my own at university I noticed that his symptoms and the lingering effects could all be explained by a sufficiently large dose of levonorgestrel.”
Being much too experienced to expect Sherlock to explain chemicals in any comprehensible way, Greg turned to John. “Levonorgestrel?”
“It’s, uh, one of the active ingredients in suppression meds. Prevents ovulation. I suppose administered in a large enough dose it could be toxic, anything is, and yeah, could probably cause fertility issues, but we’re not just talking overdose. We’re talking massive overdose and it would have shown up in his blood work.”
“It was missing.” Sherlock said quietly.
“Missing?” John asked.
“His blood panel.” Sherlock clarified. “I was overdue a check-up and stole his file while I was there. Either no blood panel was ever run, which would have been blatant negligence, or the results were incriminating and someone removed them from the file.”
“Are you suggesting your Bearer was poisoned?” Greg asked wide eyed. “By whom? Mummy? Christ, I’d believe that.”
John could too. The only children Mrs Holmes had seen fit to produce were, or would have been, almost twins with their half-siblings. Having just lost a child, her husband’s loathed Bondmate due for another Estrus cycle and so another child any day…
“Maybe.” Sherlock seemed non-committal. “It’s better than the alternative.”
“Your step-mother trying to kill your mum is the better
option?” If John needed any further proof how messed up the Holmes family was, he had more than got it.
“The alternative is that Maman was desperate enough to almost kill himself instead of go through another Heat with Siger ever again, so apologies if I would prefer to believe he didn’t take that risk.” Sherlock snapped, shoulders hunching as his body partially rolled into the couch and away from them.
“That’s … yeah. Better.” John found it difficult to speak around the lump in his throat.
It was awful, all of it was awful. The fact that Sherlock preferred to think that his step-mother had tried to kill his Bearer, and from what Sherlock wasn’t saying very nearly succeeded, rather than believe his mum might have taken the risk of dying and leaving him alone instead of continuing on as he had… John swallowed heavily as he realised there was a third option Sherlock had carefully skirted around: That Dorian Montpellier had purposefully and with deliberate intent tried to commit suicide with some other drug and the blood panels had been removed to try and hide that.
The overhead lights seemed unspeakably harsh with the mood that had settled over the room. It made John wish he’d turned on the lamps instead, less of a glaring spotlight washing out Sherlock’s already pale skin and highlighting every line on Greg’s tired face.
His tea was cold, but John found he didn’t really want more. He didn’t want a drink either, though he felt like he needed one. The very idea was repugnant, so instead he got up and closed the curtains. If he was being honest he’d have to admit he didn’t really want to hear any more. What did that say about Sherlock’s life, that John didn’t want to know more? What did it say about John?
“So did you used to live at Mycroft’s house?” Greg asked as John tried to settle.
“The Knightsbridge house, yes.” Sherlock stayed curled on his side.
“So, did you, uh always have the room on the third floor?” Greg was fiddling with his mug, but not drinking the tea. It was probably cold too.
“No, but it’s been renovated since I had my original space there. If that’s where your questions were leading.”
“Just making conversation.” Greg took a sip of tea and pulled a face.
“You’d probably know it as Mummy’s room. I decided to move up to the third floor away from - after the first renovations. Mycroft used to have the front room, if that’s your next query.”
“The Blue Room” Greg perked up a bit.
“It is now, yes.”
“That’s my room now.” Greg actually beamed, reading a sentimental undertone to Mycroft’s room allocations. “So why did you move upstairs?”
The folds and valleys, cliffs and pools of dark material, trembled as Sherlock’s body, which had been loosening by the tiniest increments known to man, jolted back to full stiffness.
“Sorry.” Greg pushed as far back into his chair as he could, as if giving Sherlock a few millimetres extra space would let him relax. “Bad question?”
“It’s a logical progression.” Sherlock allowed.
His voice was flat, completely devoid of tone, variation or emotion. Empty. It was a control technique John recognised from Mycroft who almost used it as a default state of being. Sherlock generally channelled his emotions through protestations of stupidity and boredom, not absence.
“Do you want to stop here?” He asked into the curtains, feeling like a coward for the small portion of himself hoping Sherlock might say yes. “You’ve said enough. More than enough.”
The quiet noise of Mrs Hudson’s radio filtering through from downstairs as she prepared her dinner was the only intrusion.
“There’s not much left.” Sherlock eventually said, rolling onto his back and resuming his staring at the ceiling. “The relevant bit, the bit you asked about, really. Mycroft and Mummy.”
He seemed reluctant to go on, like he was forcing himself to get it all out in one session so he could slam the door on his past and never have to look at it again. John wondered whether he should put a stop to it, never mind the rest of the story, and just hold Sherlock, reassure him that everything was okay. He didn’t, just because he wasn’t sure which one of them he wanted to reassure.
“It was good, actually.” Sherlock atonally droned as John took his seat. “The next few years.”
A small involuntary smile tugged at his mouth, releasing some of the tension in John’s chest.
“Mycroft was an overbearing overprotective lout even then, so he’d visit on school holidays and take me places. The park and the library mainly, we were too young to go anywhere else unaccompanied. He forgave Maman over time, understood why he’d left from the differences in the households we were living in. By the my third birthday he was living with us and commuting to school, only going back to the Estate for the same mandatory visits I had to make twice a year.
“They didn’t care, at first. Mummy wanted us out of sight, out of mind, so she was happy for Mycroft to be gone. Gave her an opportunity to expand Sherringford’s claim and influence. After all, technically he’s the only legitimate one out of the three of us. Siger didn’t care as long as we showed up to his birthday and Christmas and he could trot Mycroft out to dinner with whatever old cronies he was trying to impress. He didn’t care for the child aspect of having children. Having us with Maman would have been like having a full time nanny. He wouldn’t have seen us at all, except he, or maybe Mummy, didn’t want to give Maman the satisfaction. He used to make us spend Christmas at the Estate, even though we didn’t do anything and he didn’t see us, just so Maman had to spend it alone.
“Then, I don’t know, he realised how much influence he’d lost over Mycroft, or maybe Mummy did, or maybe he had another disagreement with Mummy and wanted us, Mycroft really, in her face more, but he started trying to insist on more visits. Maman refused to let me go, and Mycroft said he didn’t want to, so Maman wouldn’t let Siger force him.”
The flow of words cut off and the slight awe at his Bearer’s defiance of his formidable Sire melted away, leaving the blank emptiness on Sherlock’s face, an ugly scar covering years of devastation and despair. He was shaking, muscles locked so hard he was trembling.
“Sherlock, love,” John started, pushing out of his char. “You can stop. It’s okay. You-”
“No.” Sherlock yelled, stopping John in his tracks.
“No,” he repeated firmly, voice wavering into a semblance of control. “You wanted to know. You will
sit there and listen
It didn’t surprise him Sherlock had picked up on John’s discomfit and desire not to continue. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to know, didn’t need
to know everything Sherlock had been forced to suffer through, but if he’d realised how heavy it would be, how many old infected wounds they’d stumble over how hard it would be for Sherlock to relive, and him to watch Sherlock to verbalise, he would have worked out a way to carve it up into chunks, a tidbit here, an explanation there, and he wouldn’t have done it when Greg was there, let alone had stormed in angry.
“Okay,” John swallowed, slowly lowering himself back into his chair. “Okay, tell us the rest.”
In the corner of his eye, John could see Greg swallow reluctantly and flash John an almost scared look. His bluster had well and truly run its course over the evening, surging and falling again and again as his own neurosis had come in and out of play. Now it appeared to have burnt out, run low, and left him feeling small and nervous, as worried about how much more they’d hear and how much further they’d push Sherlock as John. Wondering whether it was already too far.
The detective’s eyes were wild, stormy grey irises almost swallowed by black pupil. One hand was still buried in his hair, the other buried under his thigh, so John couldn’t see his fingers, but there was no doubt in his mind they’d be white knuckled and vibrating with nerves.
“It was Mycroft’s fault.” Was Sherlock’s opening line. “Something would have happened eventually, but the when and the where were all down to him.”
John looked away, checking that Greg wasn’t going to take it the wrong way. The Alpha Sub seemed to struggle with what to say, competing concerns for the brother evident on his face.
“How do you mean?” He settled for asking diplomatically.
“He presented.” Was Sherlock’s painfully simple answer. “He was the Alpha son, the Dominant heir-presumptive, destined to carry on the Holmes legacy and achieve great things. He was already being taken to dinners, introduced to important people, the next big thing. Siger Holmes’s golden boy.”
“And the massive pain in Mummy’s arse.” Greg couldn’t help contributing spitefully.
John glared at him and Greg avoided his gaze.
“Of course,” Sherlock agreed, missing the inherent aggression in Greg’s comment that removed the requirement for a response. “Why do you think she’s expended so many years of effort on him? Then suddenly, overnight, he’s an Omega, they think. In the confusion no one could really tell what had happened, especially as it was at Maman’s during the school holidays and Maman deliberately obscured everything as much as he could. He and Mycroft spent a lot of time locked up together in the immediate aftermath talking.
“Mycroft went back to school, then for a visit to the Estate to try and ease tensions a bit. Throw around his dominant mass to reassure Siger and keep him off track. I think that was the plan. It failed horribly, as Mycroft went into another mild pubescent Heat while he was there. Mummy seized the chance to have him checked over, prove what he was, and there was nothing to stop her.
“Siger was furious. As far as he was concerned, Maman had somehow turned his Alpha heir into a useless Omega, fit for nothing except Binding
.” Sherlock spat the words out as if they were poisoned, toxic syllables that might contaminate his mouth if left there any longer.
“It’s not possible to do that.” John uselessly denied, feeling the need to add something.
“Logic, John. Siger blamed Maman and decided enough was enough. Logic didn’t come into it.”
Sherlock’s arm was shaking so violently John was worried he was going to hurt himself. Even worse, it was completely absent from his voice, hard won iron will overruling everything he’d let break through during the evening.
“What did he do?” John asked, wanting everything over so he could start to help Sherlock get himself back together again.
“We were in my play room. I remember the sun was out; it was falling on the carpet. It made all the different colours on my puzzle so sharply. I was only four, struggling to make out the picture. I had a dog, Redbeard, after the pirate. He was napping in the corner, enjoying being let inside for once. He’d had to be scrubbed down and dried before he was allowed to set a paw on the carpet, but he always loved it when he was clean and allowed in, even if he didn’t like the cleaning process.“ Sherlock’s voice sounded dead, too dead for describing such a lively scene. “Maman was reading to me. I can’t remember his voice. I can remember the book, the cover, which piece I was struggling to fit into my puzzle, but not his voice. I’d rather remember that, really.”
John realised his traitorous hand had started trembling in the tension and clenched it tight, attempting to get it to stop. The feeling coiling in his chest wasn’t pleasant, a sort of unnatural cross between dread and fear, and was slowly working its way up and around his heart, ready to squeeze.
“People burst through the door, MI5, MI6, police, Interpol, I don’t know. Maman leapt up, demanded to know what was going on, and they pointed their guns at him. One of them grabbed me, refused to let go even when I bit him. He almost dropped me when Redbeard bit him, but Redbeard had bigger teeth.
“They shot him, shot Redbeard for trying to get to me. Because I was scared and there were strange people in the house and he was trying to protect me. He just sort of yelped as he went down. An Irish Setter, dumb as two bricks, but gorgeous russet fur and so much heart. You couldn’t even see the blood under all his fur. He twitched and whimpered, and they just let him lie there and bleed out, pointing their guns at Maman.
“They told him to leave, not to come after us if he didn’t want to end up like Redbeard. They called him that mutt. Maman, not Redbeard. Said the agreement was over, should have been over years ago since he was no good for spitting out kids anyway and he wasn’t going to be allowed to ruin anymore Holmes heirs. Told him to give them a reason, it’d be easy, just putting down another foreign bitch and a mongrel to boot.
“They carried me out, put me in a big black car back to the Estate, and I never saw him again. The end.
“No!” John blurted out in shock.
Stunned Sherlock’s face whipped around. It was the first time since they’d started that he’d faced them and he looked bewildered, shocked, at John’s response.
Shocked and hurt. His mouth, lip chewed raw over the past hour, hung open and his eyes were red rimmed and shimmered with years of unshed tears.
“Didn’t the police get involved?” John demanded. “Why wasn’t-”
The disbelief faded the lines of new hurt smoothing back, leaving the old scars and scathing neutrality.
“You didn’t call the police on Siger Holmes.” Sherlock turned away.
“That is ridiculous.” John fumed. “It’s appalling! It’s-”
“Life.” Sherlock blandly intoned.
The casual acceptance wasn’t doing anything to help John’s anger. His grip on his temper slipping, the rage building over this, that Siger had subjected John’s
Omega to that, was tremendous. He needed, he needed –
Sherlock looking hurt. Sherlock being hurt because he was forced to rip open these tentatively healed wounds. Feeling like John was angry at him.
- tea. He needed tea, right now, otherwise he’d be spending the weekend patching Mrs Hudson’s wall again.
He stormed into the kitchen and slammed the power button much harder than was actually necessary to start the kettle heating.
He was angry, furious, mad as hell that any Alpha could act that way to his Bonded and their children. Alphas were supposed to protect, nurture, not kill their four year old’s dog in front of him and threaten to do the same to his mother. For Christ’s sake, they were Bonded. How could Siger justify it, any of it? The abuse, the neglect –
“Breathe, John.” Greg was standing as far away as possible while sharing a bench space. “He’d gone, dead. There’s nothing to do there and being angry won’t help.”
“Someone should have done something.”
“That’s the anger talking. What would anyone have done?” Greg didn’t wait for his answer, just plunged on through. “Remember what you said earlier when I was pissed off at Dorian for leaving? You said he didn’t have a choice and that he couldn’t have taken Mycroft as well because the Holmes family would have shifted hell to get him back. It’s the same here.”
“Someone could have tried.” John stubbornly insisted.
Greg was right, John knew he was logically correct, but this was Sherlock and someone
should have been there to stop him suffering.
“Tried what?” Greg pushed back. “Calling the police? Could you imagine calling the police on Mycroft, right now? If I tried to arrest him for something it’d be even odds as to whether it was his high-priced attorney or my own boss from on high who got to me first, assuming I even got him to the station. Wouldn’t manage the charge sheet. I could have Mycroft Holmes standing over a dead body, holding the murder weapon, with the whole thing caught in crystal clarity on film, both faces clearly in shot, and I couldn’t make the charge stick.
“20, 30 years ago? Siger Holmes probably owned the police. Dorian was just a hysterical Omega. You know the origins of hysteria as a disorder, you’re a doctor. They thought for years not being able to have children must mentally unbalance Bearers. What could a mentally unstable Omega do against his wealthy powerful Alpha?”
“That’s not the point.” John’s knuckles were white and the veins on the back of his hands bulged.
“No, the point is Sherlock’s just re-lived his own personal hell, or bits of it anyway, so now is not the time to indulge in your own selfish vendetta against things that can’t be changed.”
The kettle clicked off and Greg began sorting through the cupboards for tea bags.
“It’s not selfish.” John denied. “I’m angry for him.”
“Is it helping him?” Greg asked.
“The answer, by the way,” Greg blithely talked over him, “is no. So stop indulging in being mad and go and be reassuring, yeah?”
Turning Greg handled him two mugs of tea, his and a new one from the cupboard.
“Right,” Greg dusted his hands off on his jeans, “you’ll need to do your own milk. I’m off. Haven’t exactly got the answers I thought I would, but I don’t know what I was expecting so… Certainly explains Mycroft’s self-loathing of his gender. Anyway, I think you two need to be alone for a bit, yeah, and I really want to see my son now.”
John didn’t reply, staring absently into the dark liquid.
“Okay there? Calmed down?” Greg looked concerned.
“Yeah, yeah, calm.” John nodded. It wasn’t entirely a lie, but it was enough for it to occur to him he should be checking Greg was alright as well. “You okay?”
“Exhausted.” Greg sighed. “Been up and down like a yoyo all day.”
“It’s been a long one.” John agreed, feeling his own blanket of fatigue begin to numb everything away.
“It’s been a long week.”
“God, yes.” John sighed.
“All right, I’m off.” Greg clasped him gently on the shoulder. “I’ve got a minor government official in training to get to bed. Don’t forget to put the milk in.”
Walking back into the living room was hard. There was a wariness on Sherlock’s face as he approached that really did pound home that he’d messed this up. He didn’t know what to say, not just to fix it, but at all, so instead he silently held out the tea.
Sherlock accepted it, but he didn’t drink it and his fingers didn’t make contact with John’s even though it meant holding the hot ceramic base.
John really didn’t know what to say.
“I wish your Sire was still alive.”
It wasn’t the opening Sherlock had expected and his eyes widened slightly.
“Because then I could kill him.” John finished, a little surprised by the vigour in his own voice.
“I don’t need your pity.” Sherlock hissed, eyes narrowed.
John sighed and sat on the coffee table, the blanket of fatigue pressing further down on his shoulders. It really had been a long week emotionally. Only that morning he’d been running the emotional mile over Jim Moriarty and this lovely sprint to the end hadn’t helped matters at all.
“It’s not pity, Sherlock. It’s not even sympathy, yet. I’m just angry, so angry at your Sire, and your step-mother, and the whole damn world for not doing right by you, and your mum, your actual mum, and I just … It wasn’t fair, what you went through.”
“Life’s not fair.” Sherlock carefully pushed himself to a seated position, sipping his tea.
“I know. God, I know.”
Taking Sherlock’s acceptance of his tea as an acceptance of his apology, John reached out and entwined their fingers, drawing Sherlock’s hand to his.
“You,” he said fiercely, “have been through so much and come through it better than… anyone I can think of. You are the strongest person I know, bar none, and I wish, wish you hadn’t had to prove it. I wish I’d known you then, so I could have protected you, or at least supported you, whether you needed it or not.”
He pressed his lips firmly to Sherlock’s knuckles and flipped his hand over to press the same again to his palm. He lingered there, breathing the scent of leather, mud, and Sherlock. Sherlock’s bracelet gleamed against John’s own, oiled and buffed to perfection where John’s was already showing wear.
“I just can’t understand how he could do it, any of it.” He mumbled into Sherlock’s hand. “How could any Alpha treat his Bonded like that? His children like that?”
“Bonding is no guarantee of a happy relationship.” Sherlock squeezed John’s fingers.
“I don’t get it.” John shook his head, nose running along Sherlock’s palm, moist with John’s breath.
“Of course not.” Sherlock set his tea aside and stood. “You’re nothing like him.”
He disengaged their hands and walked through to the bedroom, leaving John to tidy away the mugs and follow after. When John did, taking a second to splash water on his face as he went, Sherlock was waiting, kneeling head down in the middle of the floor, hands upturned on his thighs in supplication.
This he could do, was a role John knew well and had embraced with absolute dedication. He could feel his spine straightening his stride altering to regulation length. Emotions, guiding Sherlock through the past, neither of those were his strong point. This though… this…
Slowing to a halt, he fell into the muscle memory, weight spread, feel on the correct angles.
“What do you need?”
It wasn’t a question, despite the phrasing. It was an order, a command for information so he could gauge exactly what Sherlock needed, what he thought he needed, what he wanted, and what he would get.
“To hurt, Captain.” Sherlock replied, head still angled down.
Pistol gripping the lanky detective’s chin and raising it to the light, John made sure Sherlock could see Captain Watson was very much in control.