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BBC Sherlock

Rating: PG (slash)

For a challenge at Baskerville Hall: any character is a supernatural being

Spoilers: for the Iliad and Odyssey

Special thanks to kittysorceress for help with ancient Greek colours



John was slumped in his chair watching 'Troy' when the TV switched off. Which was particularly annoying because he'd carefully got control of all the remotes beforehand. Of course, Sherlock had probably reprogrammed his key ring or his mobile in order to be able to play that trick.

"I was trying to watch that," he said, turning round to glare at Sherlock, sprawled out on his couch.

"It's rubbish."

"Yes, but so what?"

"Inaccurate rubbish."

"Funnily enough, I don't watch Hollywood blockbusters primarily for their historical accuracy."

"It was ridiculous," Sherlock exclaimed, sitting up. "They had Achilles lamenting the necessity of war, and making politically correct statements."

"OK, that bit was turning out to be pretty tedious. But if you'd let me watch a bit more, I suspect they'd have got back to the gratuitous violence again."

"I would never have said something like that."

"Yes, but you're not Achilles."

"I am," Sherlock said, "Or rather, I'm his reincarnation."

There was a long silence. With anyone but Sherlock, John would have burst out laughing. But Sherlock could react badly to that sort of thing, so he contented himself with one of his more pointedly sceptical looks, the sort that said: You and whose Trojan army?

Sherlock gave him a cool stare back, and then smiled.

"Yes, you did hear me correctly, you're not hallucinating. And do you really believe that I am currently delusional, or on mind-altering drugs?"

Damn the man. "Do you think," John said, "you could either just have this conversation with yourself, or let me say things before you're tell me what I'm thinking? It would make the whole thing seem less one-sided."

"All right," said Sherlock. "What's the next step in your deductions?"

"It is unlikely that if you were on drugs I wouldn't have spotted any previous signs, and you have no other indications of mental confusion. So the next possibility is that this is an elaborate wind-up, you're trying to see how much rubbish I'm prepared to swallow from you." His mind started to rev up: he could never hope to match Sherlock's abilities, but something had rubbed off over the months.

"Good so far. Go on."

"You wouldn't do this for no purpose, so it must connect to a case, but you've got nothing on at the moment. Unless you've got something that you haven't mentioned to me, but then you wouldn't be lying on the couch, or at least not in that way. And besides, it's not really the sort of thing that people who believe in reincarnation would say. In mental hospitals, I believe it's most often Jesus, Napoleon, or Cleopatra."

"The problem is, if you eliminate those improbabilities," said Sherlock, and he smiled again, "you're left with actual reincarnation, which is impossible."

"is it?" John asked. "I mean obviously, yes, if you're starting from a hypothesis of materialism, but though that's a very strong hypothesis, I don't know it's strictly provable. And anyhow, just because I think a thing is impossible, doesn't mean it is. I'm currently sitting here with particles inside me that aren't properly defined until someone observes them. Or something like that. I never could get the hang of quantum physics."

"So you're willing to believe that I am the reincarnation of Achilles," Sherlock, said steepling his fingers. "Interesting."

"I am willing," John replied doggedly, "to be convinced. A bit of evidence would be nice."

"What kind of evidence would you accept?"

He put his head in his hands. Why did these things happen to him? All he wanted was a peaceful evening watching crap TV, and here he was discussing paranormal research methods.

"The usual way this is done, isn't it," he said at last, "is that people claim to know things from past lives that they couldn't ordinarily know? But I don't see how you can prove that anything you know about Achilles, you hadn't got from some book beforehand."

"Excellently reasoned, John. So what else is there?"

"Even if Achilles was a real person..." John stopped as Sherlock frowned. "Assuming that he was a real person, we haven't got DNA from him, so we can't use that as a test."

"An ingenious idea, but DNA isn't conserved. Broad physical and mental characteristics, however, are. So what clues does that give you?"

"Don't know there's much in common," said John, "although I admit I know sod-all about Achilles. OK, brave, reckless even, arrogant, could be aggressive-"

"You know more about him than that. Why did he refuse to fight, retreat to his tent?"

"Because Brian Cox, erm, Agamemnon and he have a bust-up...Oh, I get it. What you're trying to tell me is that Achilles was a sulker on an epic, and I mean epic scale. Yes, that sounds plausible. But I don't remember Achilles being a brilliant detective."

"Some skills only develop with suitable training. And over the lives you accumulate more experience, half the time you're not learning things, you're relearning things, which makes it easier. But you'll just have to take my word for it about my innate natural talent with a spear. And, of course, there are no contemporary portraits of Achilles, so that you could see the resemblance."

"You mean he didn't look like Brad Pitt?" John retorted. "I'm shocked." Whatever was going on, he might just as well sit back and enjoy it.

"Well they did at least get the colouring vaguely right. Homer described me as having golden hair, but his colour sense was never that accurate."

"Is there something I'm missing?" asked John, looking hard at Sherlock.

"John, has it never struck you as strange that despite having black hair, I have such pale skin?"

"On my list of strange things about you, that's not currently in the top 100."

"I'm naturally, well not blond, but more auburn. But I got bored with the same hair, life after life, decided to try something different this time."

"I see," said John. "Well, actually, no, I don't. You are secretly a blond Greek hero with really antisocial habits. OK, I can live with that, I do live with that. So who am I, or do I not get to be someone reincarnated?"

"We all are, though it has nothing to do with merit. So I'm afraid you can't hope for Anderson to come back as a small and crushable beetle. But I don't know much about the mechanics. It would take a lifetime of study, several lifetimes to understand it, and I've always preferred the active life."

He paused and looked at John, with the rather too familiar air of someone about to try and explain higher mathematics to a rather dim toddler.

"As far as I understand it, most people don't remember anything of their past lives. It's only exceptional personalities, in some ways almost legendary, whose memories persist through repeated generations."

"It's nothing to do with being a Greek god?"

"No, I'm not a god, I'm not even immortal, unfortunately."

"Right," said John, because he couldn't immediately think of any more intelligent response. "So, I can't remember anything of my past, because I've led one, a number of lives that are all tedious and unmemorable."

"Most people's lives are like that."

"Yeah, well, I'm sorry I'm mundane and boring. That's just how it is. You'd better go off and find some other reincarnated heroes to play with."

"There are only three others I'm currently aware of, I'm largely trying to avoid them this time round. Although that's tricky, because though we get relocated in each cycle, there still seems to be a clustering effect."

"Oh bloody hell," said John, as it dawned on him. "Who's Moriarty? Was Moriarty? Is Moriarty?" Sherlock as reincarnation he still couldn't quite believe, but he had no problem in accepting that Moriarty had been born that way, born repeatedly that way, the sheer pointless malevolence of the man.

"As far as I can discover," said Sherlock, "he's not a Rememberer – that's what we call ourselves, well, in English anyhow. Unfortunately, it's hard to be sure, because I can only directly recognise the people I started off with, from the Trojan War. Though I think I once encountered Simon Bolivar in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. But Moriarty's wickedness is entirely original, I fear."

"So who are the other three?"

"One is my mother, who's the reincarnation of Thetis, my mother then as well."

Best not to ask if she looks like Julie Christie, thought John. "So you got reincarnated as a family?"

"It doesn't always happen like that, but there does seem to be a very strong bond, I've had a lot of cycles when she is my mother. And the second one is Mycroft."

"Did Achilles have a brother?"

"It's not as simple as that, there's no linear mapping of relationships. There are patterns, but I still haven't entirely fathomed them. But you should be able to work out who Mycroft is."

It wasn't the believing six impossible things before bedtime that wore John out sometimes, it was being expected to make logical deductions at the same time.

"I don't know about Greek myths!" he protested. "I think I read a book when I was about ten, but I preferred the Vikings myself."

"But you know how the Trojan War was ended?"

"The Greeks got inside the walls hidden in the Trojan Horse."

"And who thought that one up?"

"Erm, Ulysses?"


"You mean, "John said slowly, "Mycroft is Odysseus?" He couldn't quite decide if that was more or less plausible than Sean Bean.

"Some call him the wisest of the Greeks, I call him my bloody devious big brother. He is such a know-it-all. He was the one who explained it all to me this time round."

I was trying to answer the wrong question earlier on, John suddenly thought. It isn't what would make me believe Sherlock was reincarnated. It's what had made Sherlock believe it in the first place.

"So you didn't automatically know? But I thought you said you remembered everything?"

"It takes a while for it to come back, you're normally an adult, or at least a teenager before you understand why you remember things that haven't happened this time. But in this cycle, I found out when I was seven. Mycroft had a friend back from school for the weekend, they were doing their Greek prep. His friend started reciting a speech from Homer, one by Achilles, couldn't remember more than a couple of lines. I finished it off for him, word perfect in the original. He looked at me as if I was a freak, and Mycroft had to claim he'd already started teaching me ancient Greek. Afterwards, he explained it all to me, and said if I needed help coming to terms with it, he could answer all my questions."

"And you then got annoyed with him, and started thumping him," said John.

"How did you know that?" Sherlock demanded.

"I suddenly have a horrible feeling that I can imagine you as Achilles." Mrs Holmes, John realised, had had not just a stroppy seven-year old to deal with, or even a brilliant, stroppy seven-year old, but a seven-year old Greek hero. "Your poor mother," he added.

"It's worse when there are more of us," Sherlock said abruptly. "The patterns, the behavioural patterns, are harder to get out of. I'm always sulkier when I'm with Odysseus, and he's more devious. And my mother...it's even worse for women." There was a note in his voice now that you might call sympathetic, if it wasn't Sherlock. "They're more trapped in the patterns, or maybe the patterns are just more harmful, more destructive. My mother knows she can't protect me and yet she keeps on trying. Do you know how Thetis tried to prevent Achilles going to war?"

"Not the foggiest."

"She sent me, him away to another kingdom, dressed him as a girl."

Oh shit, thought John. "What happened this time?"

"This time, when I told her I was coming to London, going to fight crime, I ended up on a kind of forced gap-year in south-east Asia. You should ask Mycroft about it. No, you probably wouldn't believe him. You should ask Lestrade about it."

"Lestrade's involved in this as well?"

"When Mycroft eventually found out where I was, he got Lestrade sent out to bring me back. He dug me out of a Bangkok...well, it wasn't technically an opium den, but I was in a pretty bad way. My mother is a strong and determined woman, but not always very sensible."

"So Lestrade's the third one, is he? OK, am I supposed to work out who he was? There was that bloke advising Agamemnon-"

"Lestrade's a Memoryless, like you," Sherlock broke in.  "As I said, most people are. No, the third one you probably wouldn't guess, however well you knew Homer. Molly is the reincarnation of Briseis, the slave girl Agamemnon took from me, the one we quarrelled over."

"Molly was a slave girl?"

"I told you it was harder for women," Sherlock said, and there was something harsh in his voice now, anger, perhaps even self-loathing. "She's not a slave now, hasn't been for centuries, dozens of cycles, and yet in her head she still is."

"Your slave," said John, and he could feel the anger rise in him as well. "And you, you still think you're her master, don't you? That you can treat her as you like, push her around?"

"I try not to, but it's in me, part of me, the urge to treat her like I've always done. Hard to resist."

"But don't you love her?" John yelled. "Or at least didn't Achilles love Bri...the girl? She was what he, you, quarrelled with Agamemnon about, after all."

"You don't understand." Sherlock's voice was abruptly flat. "She is, I mean was, only booty, a symbol of triumph. I fought over her, but she didn't matter to me in that way. The only person I really cared about, ever did was, is, Patroclus."


"Legends aren't fair," Sherlock said, and suddenly he was on his feet, pacing back and forward, shooting glances at John. "Homer wasn't fair. They make much of me because I was the better fighter, and yet they forget him, even though he was the better man. He was loyal to me, he did everything I ever asked him to, and then he went out to fight the Trojans in my armour when I was still too pissed-off to help the Greeks. And he died for that, because he was too sodding brave for his own good."

"I, I didn't know."

"No, and I bet the film wouldn't tell you about it. They wouldn't want to wreck the box office by having the leading man gay."

"Achilles was...," John's voice tailed off, and he looked down rapidly. He was not going to blush, he was not going to stammer, he was going to think of something sensible to say quite soon in the future...

"They'd probably call it bisexual nowadays," said Sherlock, and John forced himself to look up at Sherlock's beautiful, scornful face. "I slept with women, I even had a son. I claimed I loved Briseis, because that helped justify my anger to my comrades. But he's been the only one that mattered, every time."


Part 2


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)
So can Sherlock recognise people before they remember themselves?

Oddly enough, I used to be Briseis. I'm not quite sure about Molly; Briseis was enslaved comparatively late in life, after Achilles killed her husband and three brothers while sacking their city. And Patroclus claimed that Achilles would marry her when they got home, in which case she'd regain her status. But maybe that's why Molly still thinks she has a chance.

Edited at 2010-12-10 01:12 pm (UTC)
Dec. 10th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
The implication of Mycroft and the 7 year old Sherlock is that it's possible to recognise someone before they know themselves to be reincarnated. I admit I didn't remember to check on Briseis' background, but bear in mind that we know nothing about Molly's past from canon. (I wrote a different story in which she had been through 2 marriages and divorces already - whether or not Moffat and Gatiss intend her as a 31 year old virgin, that would be unusual for a woman today). And we know that Sherlock has a way of disposing of inconvenient husbands, like the late Mr Hudson.

If you are indeed Briseis (or indeed Kalypso), meanwhile, then I think you need to see if anyone has yet written a book 'Women Who Love Greek Heroes Too Much'. Or alternatively, 'The Female Eunuch', which despite its title, is not actually a description of the latest form of Persian sexual perversion.
Dec. 10th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
I certainly don't see Molly as a virgin... I hope Sherlock didn't kill another set of brothers, though.

Men at some time are masters of their fates; I switched to Kalypso in 1983. It's a better identity, because you get to keep the island.
Dec. 11th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
"Spoilers: for the Iliad and Odyssey"

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

Bloody billions.

And Patroclus... Oh Patroclus. I never knew you were such a Watson... (I may have that arse about face).

Memming this with the power of a million of Archimedes' heat rays!

Dec. 12th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
I managed to read this story in the wrong order, which was spectacularly dim of me even for a slow Sunday. so my comment here is on both parts.

this makes complete mad sense to me and I love it entirely.

*applauds wildly and adds to Memories*
Dec. 13th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
God Gracious. How did you even *think* of this? SUCH FUN ;D
Aug. 7th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
Patroclus...I like it!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )