This was the reason why Jaeger pilots were mostly siblings. The natural family bond and blood proved to be highly effective. People said Sherlock Holmes did have a brother, but stated he would rather cover himself in alcohol and set himself on fire before he'd set foot in a Jaeger with his brother.
It wasn't a rumor. Joan has seen the video clips.
Besides herself, there seven other people in the room. Four men, three women. It was quite an even, diverse group. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic. When looking for a new partner, sometimes Jaeger pilots looked for someone with similar attributes. Same race, nationality, age, or sex. The youngest of the group looked to be in their early twenties. In the file, it said Sherlock Holmes was nearly forty. Why he would consider connecting with a twenty-something year old was beyond Joan.
Nobody spoke. They all sat in their tiny plastic chairs, staring at each other awkwardly, unsure if speaking with the competition was allowed. Joan wished she had a cup of coffee. Or a book. Anything to keep her hands busy.
She didn't have to wait long. The door suddenly opened and Gregson (The Gregson) walked in, clipboard in hand. He looked around the room, eyeing each applicant, his cheeks contracting as if he was sucking a lemon. "Thank you all for coming here today," he began in a nice, authoritive tone. "One by one, I will call your name and you will follow to me to the back room where we will begin interviews."
He paused, mentally considered something, and said, "Whatever happens, don't punch him. Jared Addaon, you're up."
At the strange warning, everyone in the room shared a look. Jared stood up from his seat, and Joan could see he was suddenly nervous. He followed Gregson out the room, into the interview office, and door clsed behind them with an ominous click.
Less than two minutes later, Jared flung the door opened, stalked out in a visible rage and stomped to the exit, cursing to himself.
Gregson came back, looking put-out. "Melissa Kyle, you're next."
No interview lasted longer than five minutes. Joan was partly glad because it meant she wasn't going have to sit here for very long. With Watson as her last name, she resigned herself to wait when it came to alphabetical roll calls. But every time an applicant went in, they came back out either angry or in distressed. The last applicant literally came out in tears. What the hell were they doing in that interview room?
Finally, there was no one else but Joan. Gregson came back out, his shoulders slumped like there was gigantic rock on them. He didn't bother to call her name, simply indicated with a wave of his arm that she was allowed to enter now.
"Don't take it personally," he whispered to her as she passed.
The interview room looked more like an interrogation room seen on cop dramas. There was a table, two chairs, and a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The interview hadn't even started and already Joan felt the urge to leave. But then she caught sight of Sherlock Holmes and she knew she couldn't go yet.
Sherlock Holmes, the Jaeger pilot of The Cobblestone. According to rumors, he was the only one in the world who could pilot a Jaeger single-handily without causing too much stress on his mind or body. They say the only reason he had a partner in the first place was because Irene Adler was supposedly his soul mate.
It was horrible when she died.
Sherlock didn't even look at Joan when she came in through the door. He was staring at a wall, resting his head on his hand, leaning his elbows against the table. His fingers twitched in agitation. He wanted this to be over, Joan could see.
Joan sat down and finally, Sherlock glanced over to her. He only looked for a second and went back to staring at the wall. "Doctor."
Joan jerked. "What?"
Sherlock sighed. "You're a doctor."
"I... yes... I guess you read my file."
He snorted. "No, I smelled it."
"You're not wearing perfume. Sure, it could mean you chose not to wear perfume or just forgotten, but it's because to prevent allergic reactions. It's the same reason why your hair smells like generic shampoo and even your deodorant lacks scent. Everything about your scent is bland. Boring."
Joan was not sure how to react to that. Because while it was true, Joan wore the blandest, most non-smelling scents she could find, the way Sherlock said boring sounded like an insult. Like wearing boring scents meant she was boring.
She heard Sherlock was a genius, but goddamn. "How do you know it means I'm a doctor?" She said suddenly. "It could simply mean somebody I know is allergic."
Sherlock snorted again. "If you did know someone, you would have mentioned them by title. Mom, dad, boyfriend, husband. You would have corrected me, but you didn't. Your response was vague. You know no one with an allergy."
"Still doesn't mean I'm a doctor."
At this, Sherlock groaned loudly, like a child frustrated with the adults around them, and finally turned to face her. Joan tried not to lean back in her chair from the intense scrutiny.
From there, Sherlock began to tell Joan her life story. From the small scar on her chin, the the way her nails were painted, every portion of her was a clue, a small post-it note for him to read. By the time he was done, Sherlock correctly deduced Joan's specific training field, the hospital she worked at, and what she had for lunch earlier that day.
From there, he pulled back, satisfied and yet, disappointed. He dropped his head down on the table, grunting.
Joan sat there stunned. Her brain tried to process what just happened (now she knew why the others ran away like their backs were on fire) but there seemed to be only one emotion that reigned victorious through it all: awe. "That's incredible!"
Sherlock peeked over his arms. "Really?" He said, slightly muffled.
"Yes! I mean, I've seen you on tv, but I had no idea you were this brilliant!"
Now that got a little smile out of him. Slowly, he lifted his head, almost hesitantly. He was like a kitten, wary of the giant human being in front of him, but inching closer in curiosity. He motioned over Gregson, who handed over Joan's file. As Sherlock read, Gregson gave Joan a subtle thumbs-up.
"Watson," Sherlock said. "I like that name."
It was not official. Not yet. They had to see if Joan could withstand handling the Drift. "My mind is wide and very intense," Sherlock said to her. "Very few can handle it."
To which Joan replied, "I don't know if you just described your brain or your penis."
Sherlock smirked. "Perhaps both."
They were not to experience the Drift in a Jaeger, which Joan was disappointed to learn. Gregson had told her Sherlock was not exaggerating: connecting with his mind was an experience very few could handle and nobody was going to place Joan in a Jaeger if she couldn't handle the stress.
They took her to a private room to allow her to dress in the proper clothing. Afterwards, they took her blood pressure and sugar level, then guided her back to Sherlock.
He was already stepping into the Drift machine, strapping himself in. "I do have a question for you, Watson, before we begin," he said in a giddy tone. He was practically dancing on his toes. "Redundant, I know, considering we're about to share a lifetime of memories together in a few seconds, but... you're a doctor. Why are you interested in fighting Kaiju?"
Joan was surprised by this. "You didn't deduce that?"
He shrugged. "Not everything is deducable."
"But like you said, we're about to share everything togther. Why ask?"
Slowly, the helmets decended upon their heads. The instruments on their wrists and back tightened. The machines around them began to give off a loud whirring noise as the lights dimmed.
Sherlock closed his eyes. "It's more fun that way."
Joan blinked and they were both thrusted into the Drift.
-Sherlock was ten. He had spent the whole day telling his teacher and anyone who would listen that his father was going to pick him up from school and not the family chauffeur. At the end of the school day, he waited and waited by the doors, eagerly waiting to see his father's car. An hour later, the school was forced to call Sherlock's mother to come pick him up.-
-He was fifteen and in love with Lydia Wright. Not only was she beautiful, she knew four languages and a master at the piano. Sherlock told her of his love and she laughed in his face for a full three minutes. He went home, humiliated and defeated, and vowing off girls forever.-
-He was seventeen when he finally saw his first dead body. Victor had snuck him into the local morgue after hours and pulled out the body of a forty-two year old man who had died from heart failure. It was the best birthday present anyone could have given Sherlock.-
-He was nineteen when the Kaiju first attacked London. A piece of flying debris had cracked against his skull and knocked him out for three days. When he woke, he learned half of London was in flames and the other half leveled to the floor. Victor and his parents were never seen again.-
-He was twenty-one when he first heard of the Jaeger program. He immediately signed up.-
-By the time his twenty-fourth birthday rolled around, he was the only Jaeger pilot in the world who wasn't suffering from mental overload. Everyday he heard of other pilots, pilots and soldiers whom Sherlock fought side-by-side, dying from the side affects. Less than two months later, a two-pilot program was initiated.-
-By the time he turned twenty-seven, he still refused to Drift with another pilot. Lab results showed that Sherlock was being affected by the stress of the Jaeger, but at a much slower pace than the others. They told him if he didn't find a partner soon, he could lose his life by the time he turned thirty.-
-He met Irene Adler when he was twenty-nine. And for the first time in his life, he never wanted to go into the Drift with anybody but her.-
-The next four years were the best times of his life. He didn't care about the fame or the fortune associated with being a pilot- he never did. He cared about the adventure, about reaching the limitations of his mind. Every time he and Irene took down a Kaiju, Sherlock was on scene immediately, demanding first crack at dissection. On the wall, sitting in between Irene's paintings, were bone fragments Sherlock collected. In their refrigerator, bottles of Kaiju blood. In their freezer, bits of Kaiju flesh which Sherlock swore up and down he never touched yet Irene always gave him this look. Sherlock didn't care, this was the happiest he has ever been in his life.-
-In the end, what killed Irene was not a malfunction in the Jaeger. It was not a Kaiju. In the end, it was some random bloke who wanted Irene's purse and in a panic, accidentally shot her. Sherlock never got the satisfaction of tracking this man down, of killing him, because that very next day there was an attack and any trace evidence had been blown away.-
-Sherlock refused to suit up.-
-The next few years drifted by in a haze. Overdosing on cocaine would do that to you. Gregson was there, always there, keeping Sherlock from making that one final step over the edge.-
-Little by little, day by day, Gregson pulled Sherlock away from the edge. It took years of work and there was a few times Gregson almost lost him. But their hard work paid off and now... now Sherlock was ready to try again.
It took less than a second for the memories to wash over Joan. There were some she wanted to grab, to hold on to and analyze deeper. Gregson warned her against doing such and Joan was glad he did. Sherlock was right, his mind was like an endless well and only a select few could handle the strain.
Without words, Sherlock and Joan took off their helmets and placed it aside. Sherlock stood and held out his hand, waiting for Joan to take it. There was no communication between them but they knew what each one was saying. Joan took his hand and Sherlock pulled her close to him, twirling her as he did.
"You were Irene's doctor," he whispered.
Joan was the ER doctor that night. Irene made Joan promise her that she'll deliver Irene's last words to Sherlock. "She wanted me to..."
"I know," Sherlock said. They moved around each other easily as if they've done this dance a million times before. "Thank you for showing me."
Joan had been trying for years to get Irene's message to Sherlock. But he was a Jaeger pilot and possibly more important than the President of the United States. It was not as if she could schedule an appointment at her leisure. When she heard they were taking applicants for his next pilot, Joan jumped at the chance.
"Should I go?" Joan asked. She finally fulfilled her promise, there was no need for her to be here anymore.
"Why?" He said, confused. "You're my partner."
Gregson suddenly cleared his throat loudly, and they broke apart in mute embarrassment. "You're making my teeth hurt," he said flatly. "If you two are done dancing, there's a rumor of a Kaiju off the coast. Do you two want to go after them or should I let the other team handle it?"
"As if I'll let Marcus and his brother take away Watson's first Kaiju!" Sherlock huffed loudly. He reached over and took Joan by the wrist and pulled her behind him. "Come, Watson!"