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The Loneliness of Company

By Timerie Blair

Adventure / Scifi

Chapter 1

“Cisco Ramon. American, moved to London after his workplace was destroyed in a horrible accident. Nothing terribly interesting.” Sherlock slapped the file down on the table in front of John, and John raised an eyebrow.

“Okay?” John took a spoonful of cereal and shrugged. “So what?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes at his roommate’s lack of enthusiasm. “Look at these pictures.” He opened the file.

Sighing, John pushed away his breakfast and picked up each photo individually. After several moments, his frown deepened. “That’s… weird.”

“Inarticulate, but yes, it is certainly strange.” Some of the photos were obviously taken from discreet locations, and others were picked from security cameras. Each photograph featured a young Hispanic man. He was most often dressed in t-shirts and jeans, hands in pockets or around a slushy. College age, John guessed from his stance. The young man would seem completely unremarkable, except that in every photograph he was out of focus. His features were completely blurred. In all appearances, he was a vague form through thick glass. “The strangest thing sense… well us.

John murmured in agreement and they both lapsed into silence, remembering.

It was a dark night on a brief trip to America when it happened. John held his cellphone as a flashlight and it created harsh shadows across their faces.  Mycroft Holmes stood beside a dew covered grave and Sherlock was busy inspecting the gravestone. Why they had to do this in the middle of the night was beyond John. He yawned.

“It’s two in the morning, Sherlock,” Mycroft muttered. “I do need to get back at some point.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I didn’t ask you to come. Feel free to leave at any point. John?”

“What?”

“Come closer. Blood on the corner here?”

John moved the lantern closer and frowned. “An, unfortunately, ironic death.”

Sherlock murmured in agreement. He opened his mouth to speak, but Mycroft’s gasp stopped his words. Slowly, he stood. Mycroft was staring at the sky.

Squinting, Sherlock turned and his eyes widened. John followed suit and his cellphone dropped from his fingers.

“Are you guys seeing this?”

Sherlock nodded sharply. Where a moment ago the sky flickered quietly, a massive spiral of black and blue and lightning grew like a massive wound.

After that, their memories were spatial. Shouting, running, pulled up, bright flashes, falling.

And then they were here.

Wherever here was. Everything was close to normal. But every so often, a difference split this universe from the one they knew. They could almost believe it had never happened except for the strangest deviations.

For one, John’s older sister was ten years older. She married and then divorced and remarried.

To men. Which was… different.

And John had no idea why or how that all worked out.  She had a daughter who lived with her father in America. Her name was Felicity.

Sherlock’s family was fundamentally the same but his parents preferred him to Mycroft, instead of the other way around. It annoyed Sherlock to no end.

Neither John nor Sherlock knew what the consequences of living in a world they did not belong in would be, but they could imagine it would not be pleasant. Already, they would find themselves suddenly breathless or ill as moments non-existence passed over them. Something awful was about to come to pass, they felt.

They needed to get home.

Somehow.

John pulled himself away from his thoughts when he suddenly came to a realization.

“Wait. Cisco Ramon. Cisco- that- wasn’t that the name on the gravestone?”

Sherlock considered for a moment and then his eyes widened. He looked like a cat staring into a fishbowl. “Oh. Oh, that’s brilliant, John. Do you believe in coincidence?”

“Not really.”

“Good. Me neither.”

They were quiet for a moment and then, “Is he’s blurring himself on purpose?” And if he was, how?

Sherlock shrugged; rubbed his hands together. “No one blurs out their face on every single security camera without trying.”

“Good point. You think he’s in trouble? Could be hiding.”

“Whatever it is, it’s fascinating. He’s connected somehow. To this situation.” Sherlock picked up the file again and leaned back in the kitchen chair. 221B was quiet for several minutes as Sherlock read. “Some sort of protégé, apparently.” Sherlock sniffed. However, as he continued reading, his eyebrows rose. “A… real one, actually.”

John, who finished his breakfast, stood up. “Are you going to check him out?”

“Obviously.” The detective smirked, pale in the morning light.


Cisco only decided to move to London because it was the next flight and he couldn’t bare to look at his home a moment longer. He could still picture it. People running, screaming, falling. The light was so bright for a moment he couldn’t see anything but white. The explosion was fire and rage and pain and he came to himself in StarLabs’ basement, alone. He didn’t know he got there. His heart raced and his hands shook.

They were dead. All of them. Caitlynn, Ronny… Dr. Wells. All gone. This wasn’t something that was supposed to happen. He knew it. Not to him. People died in movies. People died on the news. His friends were not supposed to die.

But he wasn’t invincible. They weren’t invincible. He was just Cisco.

They died.

And now he was here. London, England.  Avoiding the multiple missed calls from his family. He pretended that he was a local; that he’d never been a scientist at Star Labs. Attempting to sound like local was harder than it seemed. He failed pathetically for several months until it finally clicked. He smiled at his own little achievement and took a sip out of the soda can in his hand. Dr. Pepper.

Most of the time he could forget why he was here. He’d get wrapped up in his experiments and (pathetically dull) inventions and all the paperwork it took to sell them, and for a moment he’d forget that he’d run away. He was still running, really, from everything that happened that day. It seemed like it would work. This new attempt at living. He kept Dr. Wells and Caitlynn in a deep part of his memory, safe and gentle, where he could look at them when he chose to.

But then the dreams started and wouldn’t stop.

Quickly pulling himself from that thought, Cisco leaned back in the metal chair. He was sitting in front of a coffee shop, silent. The air smelled like the city, gasoline, coffee, urgency. London wasn’t as busy as New York, but London gave the American metropolis a run for its money. Cisco had only been to New York a few times. The rush of emotions and the sound of cars kept him wired for days.

No, he preferred London. It wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t loud either. He could concentrate and bury himself in his work on a bad day. Today was a bad day and Cisco knew he should be inside. He should lock himself away and not look at anyone. On the bad days, he’d see things and they terrified him. It was probably some obscure form of PTSD or something, Cisco reasoned, but naming it didn’t make it go away. His vision kept flickering and he was overwhelmed with the sense that this was wrong. He wasn’t supposed to be in London. Dr. Wells and Caitlynn should have never died.

But they did.

Now, what?

He didn’t realize his eyes were closed until he flicked them open and was presented with the sight of a hawk-like man dressed in Victorian clothing. He sat in the other chair at the table.

Cisco blinked. In an instant, the man shifted into another man with pale skin, dark eyes, and a dramatic coat. Cisco pursed his lips, I’m going crazy, and the man frowned.

“Is something wrong?”

Cisco’s throat felt like sand. “No,” He gave the stranger an attempt at a smile and took another drink of his Dr. Pepper. “Do I know you?”

“No.”

Cisco raised his eyebrows questioningly.  The stranger looked like an animated slate of steel. Determined and analytical. “Um. Okay?”

The stranger leaned forward and smiled softly. “You’ve done a brilliant job of dropping your accent.”

Cisco snickered.  “I don’t drop it, I put on an accent. What gave me away?”

“All of your clothes are from American stores.” The stranger paused. “I also read your file. Cisco Ramon, yes?”

Oh. That was a bit suspicious. Cisco nodded slowly. Why was there a file on him? Part of Cisco thought that was actually rather cool, but the other part squirmed. “Yeah.” Suddenly he frowned. “You’re not from the press are you? I still have no comment.”

The stranger wrinkled his nose as if Cisco had suggested he was a worm. “I am merely curious about you. I’m a detective.”

Cisco cocked his head. “Why does a detective care about me?”

The stranger’s eyes flickered around Cisco’s face and then he frowned. “You really don’t know.”

“Should I?”

Quickly, the man took his phone out of his pocket. He pressed a few buttons and then showed him the screen. Still suspicious, Cisco took the phone from the man. He scrolled through ten or so pictures and pursed his lips. “These pictures are of me?”

Was someone spying on him? Why?

“From your file. You’ve caught attention because, as you can see, in every security camera, you’re out of focus. It’s a glitch that only follows you.”

Huh. Yeah, that was strange. Cisco handed the cell phone back to the man. He pursed his lips and leaned back. “Weird. Maybe it’s one of my inventions? But that doesn’t make sense. I’ve literally made nothing interesting in months.”

Now the stranger’s eyes narrowed. “You… don’t know why you’re blurred?”

“Nope.” He popped the P.

Frowning, the stranger got to his feet and replaced his phone to his pocket. “Unfortunate. I was hoping you could share with me how you’re doing it. My brother is obsessed with spying on me via security cameras.”

Cisco laughed. “Cool. I mean, not cool, but you know.” He hefted his backpack onto his shoulder and stood as well. He should probably get back home before his headache got worse. “Sorry though. I haven’t got an answer.”

Nodding, the man turned and then looked back. “It was kind of you to let me question you. You are an entertaining mystery.”

Cisco wasn’t sure what to say to that. “Uh, thanks?”

Suddenly the man shifted subjects. “You’re an inventor.”

Cisco shrugged. “Sort of. Scientist, inventor, smart person-ish, whatever.”

“Hmm. If you need a lab, text me.” The stranger took a pen out of his pocket and scribbled his name and number on a napkin. “I’d very much like to solve you.”

With that the turned and walked away, leaving Cisco puzzled. It took a moment for the man’s words to register and his eyes widened. Wait. A lab? A real lab?

He hadn’t been in a lab since… well, since. Yeah.

But still. A lab!

No. No. He couldn’t get ahead of himself. The man was strange. He wanted to… solve him? What did that mean? Cisco was not a suspicious person. For the most part, he saw the best in people. However, in this case, it would make sense to be wary of the man. But despite the stranger’s weird remarks, Cisco wasn’t. The stranger had a good vibe. Was that crazy?

Not to mention… Cisco had seventeen ideas bouncing through his head that he couldn’t test without a laboratory. He picked up the napkin and ran a finger over the writing. The stranger’s name sent a shiver down his spine. There was something… almost familiar about it. Maybe he’d text this Sherlock Holmes.

But first he’d have to get through this day without going crazy.

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