Summary:Sherlock wants to figure out how John did what he did, but for once, Mycroft is not the one with answers. He is instead directed to John's former owner, Bill Murray.
Note: This is more like a follow up to Shadows than a continuation. I just love Sherlock trying to deduce Personas with science, kind of like what the Kirijo Group wanted to do. You know, except without altering reality and bringing on the end of the world.
Murray is going to be what little the show says about him, my own headcanons and a bit mix of a character from Persona 3. Velvet Room keys for those who can figure it out first.
Also, I'm taking suggestions if anyone wants to throw them out there.
"Summon that thing again, John. I want to study what it is made out of."
A yawn was the answer to Sherlock's question. This had been going on for the past two days. The detective would throw his theories out of what Personas were based on what Uriel told him. Every now and then, he'd ask John to summon him so he could experiment. John was a very attentive pup on a good day. He never ignored a command that Sherlock gave him. Some days, he would be stubborn, but comply in the end.
When it came to the subject of Personas, Sherlock found himself ignored with extreme prejudice. John retreated to Ms. Hudson's flat when Sherlock asked him to summon Uriel. If their landlady was out, he would pretend he didn't hear Sherlock. It was impossible as one of John's ears would twitch when Sherlock called. He stayed curled up in his armchair or in one memorable instance, growl and retreat to their bedroom. He even managed to lock him out the room.
Sherlock still wasn't sure how John had managed that little feat. It was a experiment to put on the back burner, at least. At the moment, Sherlock found himself staring at a pile of tarot cards on his coffee table. John was off on a walk with Ms. Hudson which left him to his research. He tucked his hands under his chin in their usual position as he thought. These tarot cards did not look like the one John used to fight the Golem. This was ridiculous.
All avenues he looked into came up into dead ends. With a frustrated noise, Sherlock swept the cards to the floor with a sweep of his arm. Even the old religious texts he found to find pictures of Uriel came up empty. None held the resemblance of the staticky form he witnessed that night. He couldn't figure out what type of creature the Golem turned into either. The one person who he knew could answer wasn't answering his calls. Mycroft was probably too busy stuffing himself full of cake to reach his mobile.
Sherlock flopped down onto the sofa and laid himself out. John was being uncooperative as well. The pup had the easiest job! All he had to do was summon Uriel like he did before, let Sherlock run some experiments, and fulfill his curiosity. John did hold a grudge when he turned his favorite rawhide bond into mush to create a makeshift glue. He didn't trust Sherlock not to mess with any of his other toys and always kept them close. If that was the issue, he could forgive John for helping.
John was being just plain unhelpful. A loud vibration took him out his musings and he turns his attention the coffee table. His mobile flashed and Sherlock picked it up before it could fall to the floor. He stared at the screen and couldn't help but narrow his eyes. Of course, now Mycroft wanted to get back to him. He knew Mycroft probably knew what he wanted, but wanted him to wait. It would be just like his brother to lord having information over him.
Nonetheless, Sherlock wasn't going to let him hang up since the information was so close.
"This better be good, Mycroft." he said as he picked up the mobile.
He could hear the shuffling of papers over the line. "You are the one who called me, dear brother. Good thing I was alone when you left me such an unsavory voicemail."
Sherlock stared at his mobile in disbelief for a second. Mycroft was an insufferable prat most of the time. With the way he sounded, he didn't know why Sherlock called. The voicemail he left was deliberately vague since he wanted to ask the questions himself. How would the British government not know anything? He was the one who gave him John to care for in the first place. Obviously, he had to know about Personas and John having one.
"Then you should pick up when people call you. I called you because something happened two days ago and I need you to give me answers."
"Yes, while encountering the Golem, John summoned what I have been told is a Persona. Also, the Golem himself turned into some kind of monster made up of hands and a mask."
The sound of glass breaking over the line was nothing compared to Mycroft's sudden silence. He knew he was right when he knew Mycroft knew something. Except, he didn't expect this reaction to telling him. Was it supposed to be secret? Was it that the only a few people in the whole world knew about it? Sherlock loved the idea of a mystery being so close and being able to do experiments on it.
"Sherlock, are you sure John did this? If its true what you saw, you can't look into this. Your mental health will be at stake and you will not be happy with the answers you get." Mycroft said seriously, his voice tight with an emotion that Sherlock couldn't place.
"I don't believe that and I won't stop looking until I know everything about Personas. What John did to save my life should have not been possible, Mycroft. Tell me what you know."
There was a sigh followed by sounds of more shuffled papers. "The information is classified and I swore not to tell another living soul about it. I could-" He trailed off with a thoughtful hum and ignored the impatient sound his brother made. "Ah, yes. You can talk to John's former owner. He knows what you want to figure out. Mr. Murray has been wanting to check on John and meet you anyhow. Expect him in the next few hours. I will contact him and explain the situation."
Sherlock could feel the excitement building him and felt a smirk working its way onto his face. His curiosity was piqued on hearing that Mycroft couldn't tell him anything. His brother usually never cared about secrets being revealed, especially if someone told him. For Mycroft to keep a secret like that, he had to respect the man a great deal. Mycroft did have John before him who knows how long and he knew his brother was not particularly fond of animals. Sherlock could have hit himself.
Why didn't he notice it before? John had to have been special for Mycroft to agree to take care of him. He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't realize that Mycroft was calling him.
"What? I thought you were finished." he snapped into his mobile.
"Sherlock, whatever Murray tells you, you will heed his words. This is not something easily deduced and out of your expertise. Frankly, it is out of mine own line of work and something that outside the human influence. I expect you to be on your best behavior. Good day."
With that, Mycroft hung up without letting Sherlock reply. Sherlock stared at the mobile in his hand and mulled over the words in his head. What did Mycroft mean? Did this mean that he didn't actually know what Personas could do? Outside the human influence? The earlier statement about his mental health being at stake was somewhat worrisome.
His brain was his temple and to know outside influence (other than drugs) could do something to it was interesting. Did Personas come from the mind? Did they alter brain activity? He couldn't forget the monster that the Golem turned into. What was that? He didn't get a chance to ask what it was. Uriel was something that he never seen, but the thing the Golem turned into was a product of nightmares.
He couldn't get the image of the various hands scuttling around on the floor like a large spider. At least, he confirmed to himself that the whole thing wasn't a hallucination. He got up from the couch and pocketed his mobile to clap his hands together. He would have his answers soon. Sherlock could hear the door open downstairs and the faint voice of Ms. Hudson along with claws coming up the stairs. First, he had to take care of John.
Sherlock didn't tell John that Murray was coming to the flat. He figured that the surprise would make John happy. Also, it would put him in a good place with the puppy after badgering him with question for the past two days. John did look happy to see him when he came back for his walk. He nudged the door open with his nose and wagged his tail at seeing Sherlock standing near the fireplace. He pressed against his leg and let out a little wuff to get his attention. Sherlock looked down from his mobile to see what John could possibly want.
John held a muddy stick in his mouth. The mud was still wet since John just came from his walk. The pup didn't let it go until Sherlock took it away from him. He examined the muddy stick and deduced where John got it from. Ms. Hudson took John to the park. No wonder John was so bloody happy. He was trying to avoid taking him and now there would be no choice.
Luckily, he would only need a quick wipe off instead of a full bath. Sherlock bent down and braced himself as John rubbed his head against his knees. Maybe John was listening to him the other day when he said he needed to update his dirt samples around London.
"Did you bring this to me as a gift, John?" he asked, getting a wuff and John wagging his tail faster.
Sherlock couldn't help but give John a fond look and scratch him behind the ears. "Thank you. I do appreciate your assistance. Though I believe the stick is more for you than me, isn't it?"
John looked up at Sherlock and rested his head on his knee instead. He turned his attention to the stick before putting his eyes on the stick. He licked his muzzle and leaned into Sherlock's hand. Sherlock understood that the gift was for him. He let out a chuckle as he stood, placing the stick on the mantle so he could pick John up. He went to the kitchen and made a damp cloth to clean John with. The sun was starting to set and he knew that Murray would be there soon. Sitting in his leather armchair, he held his pup still as he wiped him down.
To think, this year old pup was capable of supernatural feats he had never seen before. Sherlock was a man of science and while this didn't make him a skeptic right off the back, it was hard to think such thing existed. He couldn't write off what he saw with his own eyes. John onto his back and let Sherlock wipe his paws clean, trying to nip at the cloth every now and then. Sherlock wouldn't admit that he was relieved that John was happy with him again. He went to wash John's face when the pup's ears perked up in attention and he rolled back over, sniffing the air. The doorbell rang and he could hear his landlady going to open the door.
"Sherlock! You've got a client!" he heard Ms. Hudson shout from downstairs.
He could hear another voice, a raspy tenor of a man's voice following after hers. "I'm just here for a visit, Ms. Hudson. They're up here, right?"
Sherlock heard the two hold a short conversation before a pair of footsteps started to come up the stairs. When the man stepped into the doorway, he was sure that it was none other than Bill Murray. The man looked nothing like he expected a military man to be. He wore a black button down shirt under a white blazer and denim jeans. Truthfully, he didn't expect John's former owner to look so old. His bronze skin contrasted with his silvery hair that was shaved in a peculiar pattern on one side, held a tuft of auburn on the other side. Sherlock could tell that the man's hair was naturally that silver shade by the beard, but he had to be a few years older than Sherlock.
It was a curious phenomenon. He saw hazel eyes assessing his flat and he could see the military in the man now. He was checking the room for potential danger and exits if things went wrong. One thing that didn't fit with his deductions so far was the bandage near the man's eyebrow. What purpose did it hold? Was he injured recently?
While Sherlock deduced the man standing the doorway, John jumped out his owner's lap. He ran at Bill and leapt at the man without warning. The next thing Sherlock knew that laughter was ringing throughout the flat. Bill was flat on his back and trying to shield his face. John stood on Bill's chest, his tail wagging a mile a minute as he licked his face.
"Johnny! John! Stop, that tickles! You're giving me dog germs!" Murray said between laughs, managing to catch John around his middle and holding him close.
John panted with his tongue sticking out his mouth in a doggy smile. He settled for pressing his nose into Bill's shirt and sniffing him. Bill stood up and held John, giving Sherlock a sheepish smile. Sherlock raised an eyebrow as John turned to look at him and barked as if to say 'Look! It's my old master! He's here and isn't this great?'. He mentally shook his head and waved his hand towards the empty armchair. It looked the unexpected greeting from John to break the ice. He waited until the man took his seat before introducing himself.
"Oh, you're the younger Holmes. It's finally nice to meet you. I'm Bill Murray, but you can call me Murray. I was a little worried when Mycroft said he had to give him away, but you obviously were the best choice. I don't think John was even this happy with me." Bill said as he ran his fingers through John's fur.
Sherlock crossed his legs and stared at Murray. He glanced at John and ignored a bubble of feelings that started to come forth. The pup had every right to be happy to see his former owner again. John's breed was social and he liked to be around people, unlike Sherlock. He shoved the feelings away and put on a serious look, not being able to hide the excitement as he leaned forward.
"John has been no trouble. He has been helpful to my work, but this is not about my care for John. I believe that Mycroft has explained why he asked you to see me?" he said.
Bill's happy expression closed off and he stared down at John. The pup returned the gaze and he couldn't help but sigh. It had to be serious if John thought to bring forth his Persona to protect Sherlock. Truthfully, it made him happy to know that John could summon at all after the attack. He gave a reassuring smile and returned to petting him. Sherlock had every right to know and for his sake, he hoped that he didn't go out trying to look for Shadows after he explained exactly what happened.
"Yeah, he told me that you knew about Personas because John and Uriel saved your life. How about you tell me what really happened?"
"Two days ago, John and I were on case to capture the Golem. We had a confrontation and I would have suffocated to death if John did not rescue with his Persona. Then, the Golem turned into some creature that John attacked and it fled before it could destroyed. I was told by John's Persona that he was John's mask."
"What you experienced was John fending off a Shadow. It was a good thing he saved you when he did." He saw Sherlock open his mouth to ask him a question and put his hand up. "I know the question you're going to ask. Yes, the thing you saw the Golem turn into is called a Shadow. They are made from our own emotions so we can never truly get rid of them. I won't go into detail, but there are different types and ranks. They are dangerous and shouldn't be trifled with. They prey on humans, devouring minds or even turning us into one of them. They're just bad news."
Sherlock tilted his head and noticed how Bill shudder when speaking about the devouring of the mind. Did they truly eat people's brains? Did it matter the mental capacity the individual had? Were all Shadows masquerade as humans? Did they hide among the populace and waited for their moment to strike? He wouldn't mind finding one to experiment to see how it worked.
Then again, he did tell Mycroft he would be on his best behavior and he didn't want John to be unhappy. He frowned to himself at his train of thought. The Shadow did nearly kill him and he couldn't forget the eerie mask that it held in its hand. Also, his brother told him to take everything that Murray said seriously. Sherlock hummed to himself, not wanting to lose what he called his greatest asset. He digested the information and gave Bill a nod to show he was ready for him to continue.
"As for Uriel, John's Persona, I'm surprised he spoke to you. Personas don't usually talk outside who they're attached to. John must really love you a lot. Anyways, Uriel knows what he's talking about. In a easier term for you to understand, Personas are a manifestation of one's personality. A good friend once told me they're like a mask we use to face the hardships of life."
It sounded like a pile of rubbish to Sherlock. Too bad he saw it with his own eyes, not to mention he got a more in depth explanation of what he wanted. He let the information settle into his mind and wondered about the very nature of Personas. Did that mean anyone could summon one? Could he? Was it something that was taught or genetic? A innate talent? It brought his train of thought back to the other thing that was bothering him. Where did the tarot fit into everything? Opening his mouth to answer, he was caught off as John let out a few barks.
The pup jumped off of Bill's lap and disappeared down the hall. He came back with his leash in his mouth, dragging the harness behind him. It seems like the conversation had to be cut short as John wanted to go outside. Sherlock rolled his eyes and stared as John came to stand in front of him, wagging his tail.
"No John, don't you see I'm in the middle of gathering data? Can't it wait?" Sherlock said, the answer he got into return was a whine.
Bill laughed and checked his watch. Time really did fly when talking about something he'd been dealing with for the past decade. He had already been there a few hours. He did have some more things to do.
"It's quite alright, Sherlock. I do have a few arrangements tonight that I can't miss. Would it be alright if I walk with you and John since I have to catch the train? We can talk on the way." Bill said, brushing stray dog hairs off his clothes. He smiled and took a slip of paper out his pocket, handing it to the detective. "Also, my number if you have any more questions. I wouldn't mind discussing more with you as long as it stays between us. Plus, I wouldn't mind visiting John again."
Sherlock stared at the number before slipping into his pocket. He watched as Bill bent down and messed with John's ears. He helped the pup get hooked up properly with a fond smile gracing his features. He cooed at the pup and chuckled as John licked his face. Well, this was better than he expected. He had a expert here and he was quite curious if Bill could summon a Persona.
How else would he know about them if he didn't have the ability? Grabbing the leash off the floor, he motioned for Bill to go out the door first. As they head down the stairs led by an cheerful pup, Sherlock decided to go with the question that was on his mind.
"I would not be adverse to that arrangement and John would no doubt welcome it. So, what does the tarot have to do with Personas in the first place?"