Angst, Arrogance, and Assumptions
Jem's Bird

Chapter Five



It is not often that I am surprised; my faculties of observation and deduction render such occurrences few and far between. Of course, I was foolish to assume that once my brother and Dr. Watson revealed their true feelings to each other, they would be able to settle the whole question of intimacy by themselves without any further interference.


Now, observing the wreckage upon my settee which used to be my brother, I realize that I have miscalculated terribly. I can deduce most of the evening’s events after I left with Bradstreet, but Sherlock refuses to confirm or deny any of it; instead, he has curled up into a foetal position upon the settee, ignoring my questions and comments, staring blankly into space.


I cannot imagine what internal turmoil has brought him to this state, although I can read his actions written upon his trouser-cuff and jacket-sleeve as well as other men might read the newspaper. Soon after I left, he evidently followed Lestrade and Doctor Watson to a West End Hotel, and there waited in the alleyway some minutes before ascending to one of the rooms. I can only extrapolate that he must have caught the two men in some compromising position, but I am not comfortable with this inference; Watson’s devotion to my brother is complete, and I cannot imagine him being unfaithful. Doubtless there is some innocent explanation, but Sherlock has jumped to the worst conclusion possible; that much is apparent from his drawn expression and staring eyes. I have always warned Sherlock about the dangers of letting his emotions interfere with his observations, but I still have hopes that Watson shall be able to teach him to reconcile the two.


First, however, I must draw Sherlock out of his reverie. I am not a small man, and it takes some effort to establish myself upon the floor beside the settee, but for my brother, I shall suffer the discomfort and the indignity. Once my head is at his eye level, I am able to bring his forehead to mine, stroking his hair just as I did when he was but a small child mourning the death of our mother. I had already learned to repress my emotions, and I patiently taught Sherlock to follow my example; now I realize what a disservice I have done us both. My brother trembles and sighs, but no tears shall touch his pale cheek, and no word of grief shall escape his thin lips. He has only given the most minimal response to my touch, but still I can tell that my caresses have soothed him somewhat, and I reflect grimly that this shall perhaps be the last time he shall suffer such ministrations from me: once he solves his current difficulties with Watson, he shall no longer need –


“No,” he says, startling me from my thoughts. “I shall never speak to John Watson again.”


I do not ask how he has divined my thoughts; I know that it has nothing to do with deductive reasoning and everything to do with the emotions we have both learned to suppress so well. Even after all these years, we share a bond neither of us understands; I wonder how this bond shall fare once he has a lover –


“I shall never love again,” he tells me in a tiny voice. “I shall make my heart as stone, and I shall –”


“Balderdash,” I say. “You shall love, and you shall love John Watson, just as he loves you.”


“But he –”


“Tell me what you saw, Sherlock.”


“I saw Watson sitting on the sofa with a half-naked Inspector Lestrade,” he snaps. “It is quite clear to me –”


“And what did I tell you about making assumptions without being in complete possession of the facts, Sherlock?”


“You weren’t there.”


“I might as well have been.”


“Prove it.”


“However you found them, you then raced into the room and knocked one of the men unconscious with a vicious uppercut to the jaw. You really must watch your temper, Sherlock, I cannot –”


“Which one?


“I beg your pardon?”


“Which one did I knock down?”


“Lestrade, of course. Do you take me for a fool, little brother? Once you knocked your rival down, the good doctor then expressed his displeasure in a similar fashion. I see that he is still wearing his wedding band; its mark upon your jaw is quite clear.”


“His marriage was –”


“—a union of convenience between two good friends, but that is beside the point. Doctor Watson must be a formidable boxer in his own right, judging from the way you’re holding your arm. After he put you to flight –”


“I chose to retreat.”


“Just so. You then took another one of your damnable short-cuts, no doubt hoping that this time the street toughs might slit your –”


“For the love of God, Myke!” he groans, burying his face in his hands. It is worse than I thought; he has not called me that since he was seven.


I lean in and touch my forehead to his. “I’m sorry, Jack.”


At the sound of his childhood name, Sherlock begins to tremble in earnest, and I pull him into a tight hug. I have never been comfortable with such gestures, but I have learned to make an exception for him. I rock him just as I did when he was a boy, soothing him just as I so dimly remember Mother soothing me. Soon the storm passes, and I pull back just enough to look into his eyes, our noses almost touching.


“Sherlock, you must believe me when I tell you that Doctor Watson still cares deeply for –”


“Even if their liaison was innocent,” he protests, “my rashness has rendered any understanding we might have had invalid.”


“This is not a contract, Sherlock. This is –”


“He called me a narcotic-fuelled automaton with delusions of humanity.”


“The doctor is certainly getting more creative. But love is like that, Sherlock; Miranda and I fought like wolves. You wouldn’t believe the names she would call me.” Even the mention of my ill-fated fiancée’s name is enough to bring a hollow twist to my heart, but I push the memory away; I shall have ample time to consider my own loss, but now my brother needs me to prevent his. “Of course, he spoke in anger,” I tell him, still stroking his hair. “After all, you’d just sent poor Lestrade to the arms of Morpheus in a far from gentle manner. But I am sure that once you get back to Baker Street –”


“I am not returning to Baker Street.”


“Nonsense, Sherlock. In any case, you shall have to –”


“I have already arranged for my possessions to be sent to my various bolt-holes until I can find other lodgings.”


“And the rent?”


“I shall send a postal order to Mrs. Hudson for twice the month’s rent in lieu of notice.”


“Sherlock, you cannot –”


“He said he did not wish to see me ever again.”


I try not to remember all the times Miranda would tell me the same thing, or the dark flicker of passion in her eyes that drove me mad –


No. Doubtless I will pay for it later in my dreams, but I force all thoughts of my lost love out of my mind and pull my baby brother close to me, again rocking him slowly. “Your Watson loves you, Sherlock, despite whatever physical and verbal harm you might have done each other. You shall stay here tonight; tomorrow, you will tell your army of street Arabs to return your possessions to your home, and then, we will –”


“I do not want to see him again.”


“Sherlock, you –”


“Love has brought you nothing but pain,” he moans. “And that is precisely all that love has brought me thus far. Why should I expect anything else?”


“Did you not experience some of the pleasures of love with the good doctor before Lestrade and I interrupted you?”


Sherlock’s eyes darken, and his body curls up again, his arms wrapping around his knees. “He promised me pleasure, but all I felt was fear,” he whispers. “He was … he was not gentle.”


I nod understandingly; I have long suspected that the proper doctor has hidden depths. “No doubt he was carried away with his desires. When you next come together, you shall tell him –”


“I do not want to see him again,” Sherlock repeats, and the fervent ring of his voice chills my heart. I must not let him continue in this vein, or he will break not only his own heart, but also that of the man who loves him.


I nearly cry aloud at the realization as my strategy becomes clear. “Sherlock, you must see him again, if only to tell him that to his face.”


“Why must I?”


“If you are never to speak to him again, he at least deserves an explanation.”


“Why does he deserve an explanation?”


Because he loves you, Sherlock.”


“He does not love me,” he snaps. “All I have seen from him is lust. And anger. And inconstancy –”


I pull him closer into my arms. “Enough, Sherlock. We will discuss this later.”


“But –”


I press my lips to his forehead. “Enough, Sherlock,” I whisper, rocking him once more. “Enough.”

Chapter Six




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