Title: What if Richard Brook was Real?
Characters: John Watson, Kiyoshi Hebizumi (OC), Agnes the kitten (my cat, obviously)
Rating: PG to PG-13
Word count: 4,966
Summary: 8-9 months after Sherlock died and I begin to think about the man who called himself Moriarty. Not a happy thing to think about.
Timeline: Takes place in an alternate universe (AU) where I live in the apartment downstairs 221C but I still hang out with John. Post-Reichenbach Fall (Sherlock's death), so spoilers.
Warnings: Angst. Hurt/Comfort. British swearing/implied swearing.
Baker Street was calm and quiet. There were no reporters lingering on the stoop, no photographers hiding in the bushes, no people with scissors wanting a lock of hair or a scrap of clothing. There were no police cars parked outside. It had been like that for months already.
Inside of 221B was silent. But it was not a comfortable silence; far from it. There was an absence of pacing feet, an absence of miniature explosions, an absence of regular gunfire, and an absence of the sounds of a man excited like a child on Christmas.
This was life without Sherlock Holmes.
I hated it.
I seemed to be the only one able to stay in the apartment the very night of The Fall. John
I don't know where John went that night. If I ever had the opportunity I would've offered him my room instead of letting him go back into his own apartment, but he never came home. I highly doubted he went anywhere in particular; a man who had just lost his best friend would've been restless with disbelief. He would most likely have been subconsciously searching all over London for his friend on the false hope that he was still alive.
I'll admit it; I am also subject to the 'false hope'. But we're talking about John here, not me.
I didn't see John back at Baker Street until a few days had passed. I was in my room avoiding the main room and I heard the door open. I heard the familiar footfall of John's walking style and I immediately shut my laptop, grabbing my slippers, and hurried out to meet him.
John barely flinched when I came up behind him and he just stared at me like he was disappointed. He wished someone else had greeted him. I understood. John looked tired, to be vague. To be specific, he looked horrible. His already sunken eyes were dark underneath and the whites reddened. He looked like he hadn't spoken a word in days, which was quite plausible with how raspy and gravelly his voice sounded. His shoulders were hung low in exhaustion and I noticed that he had some difficulty with walking, though he took no notice to it. It was obvious he probably hadn't slept yet.
We went to the common area and when John opened the door I saw him glance at the coat hangers. They were empty, but I knew what he was looking for: Sherlock's scarf and coat. I nudged him and John slunk forward toward his favored seat, sitting stiffly and obviously working on autopilot.
Without announcement I decided to make him tea. I wasn't sure how he liked his tea, but I didn't believe he would've minded (or even noticed) if I did something wrong. I set out two mugs along with a tea bag and a hot chocolate packet while I asked, as casually as I could, where John had been the past few days.
I wasn't surprised when he said "about" or when he began to rattle off a useless list of random places he had been about in the city. I stopped making tea when I heard him mention the practice he worked at.
"You went to work?" I asked, trying to hide my shock.
"I'm needed there. I didn't want to take any sick days."
Translation: "I thought maybe if I acted normally, then nothing will have ever happened." The translation to that: "I want Sherlock to be alive."
I felt my gut clench painfully, but didn't say anything further. I had no idea what I was supposed to say; I wasn't good at this level of psychological stress. Instead I gave John his tea, unaltered, and drank my own drink with him silently. My drink was also left bland. I wouldn't have tasted it anyway.
The months following didn't get much better. John was barely ever home, leaving me alone to take care of myself. That was fine with me
but I wanted to take care of him more than me. When he was home we barely spoke. We switched off making tea/hot chocolate or food for each other; something that never happened when Sherlock was around. I refrained from allowing my own eccentricities to seep out because honestly I thought it would upset John. I didn't want that.
Agnes had no idea what happened. She didn't notice that I stopped taking her to Mrs. Hudson when I went to school, but she definitely noticed that someone was missing. She wandered everywhere in the apartment, meowing out a name that I didn't have to be an empath to understand: Sherlock. (Maybe "Tall funny human" considering this was Agnes, but that's beside the point.) She would even sit outside of his door, which remained closed since that day, meowing and scratching. She probably thought he was hiding away. I didn't have the energy to try and tell her that he was gone.
Slowly things did get less gloomy with Halloween (my favorite holiday), Thanksgiving (John celebrates it with me because he's nice) and even Christmas, but even before New Year's I knew that things would still be dead; in more than the literal sense, that is. New Year's itself was dull and boring. John and I stayed up, sure, but we never left the apartment. When I noticed the text in the corner of my computer screen that said 12:00 AM I carefully glanced at my friend.
"Happy New Year, John."
"Happy New Year, Kiyoshi."
Neither of us had much faith in the wishes.
I hated life. I wanted it to just stop. Just stop being so lame. Stop being so stinking depressing. Stop keeping Sherlock dead and away from the world. Stop being so predictable.
Agnes stopped looking for Sherlock, though now her new favorite place to sit was by his door. She was the only one who ever got so close to his room. She was waiting for him. I was jealous of her mindset, but not enough to bang my own head against the wall to create it for myself.
John was always distant and I wanted to hit him for it. Sometimes. Other times I wanted to hug him and never let him go. I wanted to tell him that he was alright, that he could do this, that he was not alone, that God would never hand him something he couldn't overcome; all that lame, boring, predictable crap that usually came out of my mouth at lesser times. He's heard it all before and he won't pay attention to it. And frankly, I was tired of hearing it from my own brain as well.
At night I would dully do my homework (these Sherlock words just won't leave my brain, will they?) and then maybe write in my journal. If I was really bored, I'd take one of my older journals and start to read a random page in it.
I was doing this one night and I frowned when I landed on an entry prior to The Fall but I started reading anyway.
Sherlock. Moriarty. Court case. Jury's ruling
blah, blah, blah, I know all this stuff already. I remember writing it only too well.
I skipped ahead a few days to Sherlock and John's arrest. The police left me alone that day
kind of. I wanted nothing more than to punch that superintendent's face in as well, but I wasn't too keen on jail time so early in my life, thank you very much. Kudos to John though. Instead while most of them left to look for Sherlock and John, who had escaped (brilliant guys, just brilliant), Lestrade left Donavan behind to question me. I cooperated, but I scowled at the woman the entire time and sent hate-mail to her brain that even she should have been able to receive.
Are you happy now? You got Sherlock and John in trouble. You suck. You don't know when your department has something really awesome to help you with the really difficult stuff. You're an ungrateful b*tch, you know that? I really hate you right now. Go crawl in a hole and die with your stupid cheating boyfriend, Anderson. It's only the most fitting funeral you should have.
But I answered whatever questions she had anyway. My answers were short and vague enough to irritate her and I internally applauded myself for making her mad. She finally gave up and went away, leaving me with the dull "don't leave town". I'm in a foreign country; where am I supposed to go? Stupid fluff head.
I refrained from texting John or Sherlock, fearing I might give away their position if the police had their phones tapped.
Instead I got a text sent to me.
Search the flat.
It really only took me a minute to remember what "TP" meant: Tall Person. The pet name that I used for tall people; particularly Sherlock. He was telling me that he and John were alright.
It was sent from a number I didn't recognize, but I didn't add it to my contacts. It was probably some random person's phone that Sherlock asked to borrow.
I started to do as I was told, looking everywhere around the apartment. Mrs. Hudson, still shaken by the arrest of her other two tenants, asked what I was looking for but I just grunted an "I lost something" and kept at it. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I figured I'd know what it was if I saw it.
Bypassing everything that had a layer of dust on it, I looked in every imaginable nook and cranny for this thing; under the couch, in the books, in the tea cupboard, under the sugar box, in Agnes' bed and food dish, between the cushions of the chairs, under Mort the skull, even in some of the surface files of John's laptop (surprisingly easy to bypass his password: 'Harriet') but there was nothing that I thought was out of the ordinary.
Frustrated, I sat down in John's chair and started to write in my journal, detailing my anger toward Scotland Yard, Mycroft, Moriarty, and every bloody person on Earth that somehow was involved in this with only a tiny hint of what actually happened.
I need to add to this entry, I thought to myself as I read the words and realized how out of the blue this anger all appeared to be. I wasn't planning on letting anyone read my journals, but I did like to be thorough.
I stopped when I read the words "tabloid article". I was suddenly straining to remember what upset me about the article.
a story-teller. Ritchie
Ritchie Brock? Okay, close enough. What did he say
something about Sherlock, obviously. Something I didn't like. Something I found insulting on an almost personal level.
Focus, I told myself. You were in John's chair, writing in the journal. Skip ahead. You put the journal aside and wanted to pout, but you got bored of that. You tried looking around again
the very title made you grumpier. The subtitle made you bristle like a cactus.
"Close Friend Ritchie Brock Tells All"
Right. I instantly hated that guy as soon as I read the name. I skimmed the article anyway because I was in the mood to get mad at stuff. He claimed to be a friend of Sherlock's, which I already knew was a load of bull. Some sob story about being out of work and Sherlock hiring him for something
what was it? I usually didn't bother remembering details that weren't true, but this time I wished I remembered more than ever.
Internet, I immediately thought and set the Journal aside, leaving it open on the entry, and retrieved my computer.
I brought up Google and began to type into the search engine.
Ritchie Brock Sherlock Holmes Fraud|
I frowned when I saw that none of the immediate entries looked promising. I cleared the box and tried again.
Ritchie Brock Tells All Truth|
Again, nothing that I wanted. I actually cursed the man for being annoying.
Ritchie Brock is a poopy head|
Nope. What did I expect?
I tried different variations with Ritchie Brock's name, but I was not getting anything significant so I tried something else:
Sherlock Holmes fraud|
I shuddered to think of what the responses would be so I quickly added "article" to the end of it to lessen the flood.
I also got an uncomfortable thought about what John might think if he were to look at my recent searches by some chance.
I hesitantly hit enter and the results came up as quickly as any good internet connection would give someone. I tapped the first one and started reading. It wasn't what I was looking for I realized, but it was pretty darn close:
"REICHENBACH HERO" EXPOSED AS A FRAUD!
By Kitty Riley
Now I hate you, Miss Riley, I thought darkly, but I continued reading.
SHERLOCK Holmes is revealed to be a fake in an exclusive interview with Richard Brook, an actor paid to play his foe, James Moriarty.
No wonder the search didn't bring up anything; I got his name wrong.
The man behind the "cases" Holmes helped solve is not the so-called criminal mastermind, but the "consulting detective" himself.
Suicide bombers. Serial killings. An underground smuggling ring. These are only a few of tens, possibly hundreds, of cases Sherlock Holmes "helped" solve. Despite being a civilian, Holmes was allowed into high-security crime scenes, whilst operating under the supervision of Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade.
Greg? Was that his name? It never occurred to me that I didn't know his name before
However, Holmes played a much bigger role than "helping solve crimes."
Richard Brook is a man in his mid-30s, quiet and unassuming; unfortunately he is just one of many Holmes tricked into working for him. "I had no choice," Brook says, looking around furtively as if he believes Holmes could spring out and kill him at any moment. "He threatened me, he threatened my family."
Overacting, obviously. No "normal" person would act that nervous when they think they're doing something good, right?
The article went on:
But what exactly was the ruse that Holmes so carefully employed?
"Oh, I don't know. He never told us. But it was very obvious that he wasn't doing good. He was killing innocent people, he was hiring actors to be their 'murderers' just to look good."
It is difficult to believe that a single man can have such a vicious craving for attention, that he would meticulously plan several crimes, only to solve them himself.
"That is a load of bull," I heard myself grumbling angrily. Sherlock wasn't grubbing for attention. He was curing his boredom by doing something constructive and, though he refused to admit it to himself, to help the people who needed it.
- "Sherlock is exactly like that. He is. He's a sociopath. He'd do anything, absolutely anything, to get noticed." He displays several fake documents Holmes created in order to maintain his persona as James Moriarty. These range from passports, to birth certificates, to
I stopped reading right there and slammed the laptop shut with an irritated huff (poor thing didn't even deserve it). I was mad. I was fuming. It astounded me how this reporter could believe "Brook's" story and that she could be so biased against Sherlock. He is obviously the most brilliant person on the face of this earth and anyone who met him would be incredibly stupid to believe the whole "fraud" story.
Maybe Moriarty bribed her or threatened her, I thought offhandedly. It was a plausible explanation, right? The criminal was never above threatening people, obviously, so he could have easily used this Riley lady in that way.
I clasped my hands together and rested them against my mouth in thought, eyes closed. This was the most I had ever thought about the series of events before The Fall and I found that my brain relished in being more stimulated than it had been in months. Despite the dark thoughts floating through my head, I smiled to myself. Sherlock always did that to me, even though he was an idiot most of the time.
The document forgeries could have worked both ways, I perceived, pointing out the obvious to myself. If the Moriarty identity could have been forged, then the Brook identity could have been forged too. Did Miss Riley ever think of that? It was annoying when people didn't think.
An idea suddenly flickered in my brain and it took about two minutes to find it again. When I did, I felt a sting of physical pain in my chest.
What if Richard Brook was real?
No, no, that was stupid. That was unlikely in so many ways. It was ridiculous. What was my brain trying to do? Turn me against the greatest man on Earth? Not happening!
I tried to ignore the notion of Brook's possible existence, but it constantly nagged and gnawed at me until I reluctantly decided to pay attention to it. I regretted it.
I wish I could have lived a little longer in ignorance. Richard Brook had been hired to play Moriarty and everyone fell for it. I fell for it and it made me sick.
I should've realized sooner when Lestrade said that Brook's body had been found on top of the roof of the hospital that Sherlock
from. It was a self-inflicted bullet wound through the brain and was an instant death. It didn't bother me that Sherlock had been there when it happened, no, but it bothered me that Brook was driven so far over the edge to play this whole charade to the end.
I should've realized sooner that the suicide didn't fit the psychological profile of a successful, confident, and psychopathic criminal mastermind. Suicide is not saved for a victory. He would think himself immortal and wouldn't even think of taking his own life. Someone like that doesn't believe in afterlife. Why go from having everything just to jump into nothing? It wasn't Moriarty who died that day
it was a man named Richard Brook.
I didn't want to keep this horrid idea to myself, but I wasn't sure that anyone would want to hear it; especially John. He was the only person that I would have dreamed of telling something like this to. I could've gotten in touch with Mycroft if I really wanted to, but I didn't want to. Not only has he been conveniently absent after Sherlock died (the cameras didn't follow me anymore), but I believed John had more of a right to know anything than he did. But I never told him.
It took weeks before I ever thought about the issue again, and that was only because John noted that I looked stressed. I wasn't having any problems with school, nor from my family, so there was only one thing that could have been bothering me.
I decided to end it. I was going to tell John.
I waited until we both were at home in the common area. I didn't usually do my work there, but John didn't seem to notice either way. Agnes was at my feet, curled up on my laptop bag and purring loudly. She always purred loudly, even though she wasn't so much of a kitten anymore. She favored the closeness of humans to the cold of Sherlock's room sometimes, which was completely fine.
John was simply sitting in his chair reading some novel that I didn't care to know the name of. He was in a red cotton shirt with buttons and a pair of old, slightly baggy jeans. And he was barefoot, something I usually refrained from doing even after Sherlock was gone (dangerous, considering all the experiments he used to do. Why do you think I took Agnes to Mrs. Hudson when I went out?), and his feet were lazily curled together like they were cold and the only companion they had was each other.
The doctor was definitely more active than when he came home for the first time after Sherlock's death, but he still had a shadow hanging over him. My mom was the same way, even decades after her father died, so I didn't blame him. I was glad that he was more human nearly a year after The Fall.
And that was definitely about to snap.
I closed my laptop and put it on the couch cushion beside me with a silent sigh. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how I wanted to start this conversation that I really wished I would've been able to bypass and came up with nothing. John noticed my silence obviously, but he didn't say anything and was soon reabsorbed into his book when I did nothing. I sighed to myself and pulled my legs up into a tight folded position, deciding that I had to start somehow.
He immediately stopped reading and regarded me with a gentle expression of curiosity. That won't last long. "Yes, Kiyoshi?"
I hesitated. "Um
I want to talk to you about something."
He looked a little worried. "Okay," he said. "Do you want me to come over there?"
"No, no, stay where you are, you're fine." Stay as far away from me as possible. You're not gonna like me after this.
He was definitely concerned now. "What is it?"
I swallowed and looked down at my cat, who still lay asleep. "It's about Sherlock."
I heard John sigh and shift in his chair before settling again. "What about him?" he asked, his voice sounding lower than before.
"Okay, it's not exactly about Sherlock, but-but it's related," I said quickly.
The doctor was silent, but didn't move. If he really didn't want to hear it he would have got up and left. But he didn't. I took that as permission to continue.
Better get this over with, I told myself.
"I think Richard Brook was real."
No preamble. No explanation. He would have understood the reference right away.
The look I saw on John's face wasn't what I expected at all. I expected anger, rage, and hate to warp into some kind of hellish death-glare that would have been directed at me. Or maybe he wouldn't have been looking at me at all. Either way, I wouldn't have blamed him one bit.
Instead I got something else. His eyes were wide open and completely trained on me. His eyebrows were arched in surprise, but also furrowed together creating a more defined worry wrinkle than he usually had. His face had gone pale and his mouth hung open a little. The look on his face was of complete devastation and betrayal and I immediately regretted that I had said anything.
After what felt like an eternity of staring at each other, John swallowed and asked, "Why?" Was he asking why I thought that, or why I was telling him something he didn't want to hear?
I bit my lip. "Because I don't think Moriarty would've killed himself."
John frowned and he started to look angry. I expected that, but that didn't mean I was enjoying it. The man quickly stood up and immediately started walking for the door.
"Hey!" I exclaimed. "Where are you going?"
"None of your business." He grabbed his coat and started to roughly pull on his shoes, dismissing the idea of socks entirely.
I shot up and went to stand behind him. "John, John, wait! You can't just walk out without listening to me!"
"I don't want to hear it," he growled.
"You have no idea what I'm going to say! What do you think I'm going to say??"
He spun around and glared at me, his usually calm eyes darkening to match the fury. "You're going to be like everyone else who sees me. Everyone believes that Sherlock's a fake. They're always telling me things I don't care for: 'I'm sorry, John. You must've been so hurt by his lying. You've had to live with a murderous psychopath. I'm sorry that you were just some bloody pawn in his bloody little game of bloody chess!'" I recoiled slightly as he spoke, but he didn't seem to notice. "At surgery, whenever I say that Sherlock wasn't a fake, everyone tells me that I need to let it go, that I shouldn't cling to lies. I know they're wrong and I don't want to hear you telling me the same bloody thing!"
He turned to leave, but I grabbed his arm which caused him to shoot another dirty look at me. "What?? No, John "
"I thought you believed in him too," he growled. "I really thought so. I know you didn't get along with him, but this is beyond childish! Ch****, I thought you were better than that! But no, it seems that Sherlock was right lies are preferable to the truth, aren't they? So if you don't mind, I'm going out to get completely pissed and if I'm lucky I'll forget everything you've just said."
With a snarl I punched the man as hard as I could in his left arm. I felt a little guilty when he cringed in pain I hit his bad arm and promptly apologized. "Geez, John, I'm sorry, but
G**!! You're an idiot!"
"I'm not an idiot, Kiyoshi, I just know the truth! Sherlock was brilliant! He was not a fake!"
"I know that!"
"Then what the h*ll was that??" John demanded.
"Just sit down and listen to me!" I told him, pointing to his chair. "You have to let me explain!"
The doctor's frown went deeper and the anger didn't leave his eyes but he slowly did as I said and stalked over to his chair, sitting down and crossing a one leg over the other. I sighed and followed him. I thought about sitting back on the couch, but it wasn't the best place to talk to him from. And I didn't want to sit in Sherlock's chair
so instead I grabbed the wooden chair from the desk and moved it so that it faced John and sat down. I noticed that John never removed his coat or shoes, so he probably still thought that he was going to end up going to the pub anyway.
The doctor gave me a look saying that he was ready, with his eyebrows raised but the frown never leaving his face. "So let's have it, then," he said curtly. "What's this all about?"
I took a breath before starting. "It's not about Sherlock's authenticity," I stated calmly. "He was the best consulting detective this country could ever ask for. He was brilliant, he was always right except when he wasn't and he was real. I would hope that would dissuade you from assuming that I was denouncing him as a genius."
"Then why'd you go and say that 'Richard Brook' was real?" He snarled the name out like he had a mouth full of vinegar.
I sighed quietly. "Because I don't think that was Moriarty who committed suicide."
I proceeded to tell John the story I just told you. What I was doing and how I came to the conclusion of Moriarty's not-death. At some point Agnes came up to John, purring and rubbing against his leg. I was surprised when John reached down and picked her up because he wasn't usually a cat person. I suppose that he wanted something to ground him as I talked, and it also told me that he wasn't planning on leaving for the pub anymore.
When I was done I waited as John contemplated the information, not petting Agnes anymore but just letting her lay in his lap. I felt a little relaxed now that I wasn't the only one who had these thoughts bottled up, but I was still apprehensive because the man across from me had yet to say anything.
"So you're saying
that Moriarty might still be alive," he finally said, his voice slow and careful.
I swallowed and nodded slightly. "I don't like it, but I think someone should
entertain the possibility. It's entirely plausible that Brook was driven to severe irrationality from being under Moriarty's control for so long. Having to live that part almost constantly, possibly having no life for himself anymore
I'll bet the staged suicide of his boss was like a godsend to him. A way to finally end his torment, you know?"
John sighed and sunk back in his chair, rousing the cat on his lap before she settled again. He rubbed his eyes with his left hand and it was another half-minute before he spoke again. "Have you thought about telling Mycroft?"
I snorted grumpily. "He may be our friend's brother, but I thought you would've wanted to know first."
John laughed quietly. "You're right about that," he said. "Thank you." He sighed. "I I'm sorry for getting mad earlier. That was
I shrugged. "Perfectly understandable considering the subject matter that I had brought up," I stated simply, "but you're right; that wasn't good." I didn't need to elaborate.
He nodded. "Right. Sorry
I pulled one of my legs up on the chair and sat on it. "I'm sorry too
for bringing this up."
"No, you're right someone has to think about it and has to see what can be done."
I chewed on my lip and for a minute neither of us spoke.
now what?" I asked quietly.
John took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes again. "I guess we'll let Mycroft know. Then we'll go from there."