“Uncle Sherlock,” two shrill little voices cry out, as Sherlock and John are crossing Trafalgar Square one afternoon.
Two small bodies barrel into Sherlock’s legs as he half-turns in response, and John stumbles back in mostly genuine alarm.
“Hallo, beasts,” Sherlock beams, sweeping the skirts of his overcoat around the two children and muffling their laughter.
John, half-gaping and half-grinning, watches as the two boys – dressed in gray shorts and navy blazers – manage to extricate themselves from Sherlock’s tweedy coils. Both boys are brown haired, curls falling onto their high foreheads and clustering around their ears. The elder – about six, John guesses – has very pale hazel eyes, a rare tumble of blue-gray and greenish-gold; the younger – about four – has pale gray eyes even more devoid of blue or green tint than Sherlock’s.
“Sherlock,” a tall, well-built man with cropped brown hair and bright brown eyes says as he approaches.
“Thomas,” Sherlock says pleasantly as he offers his hand, apparently undisturbed by the two boys winding themselves into his coat skirts again.
Thomas glances towards John, whose face is settling into lines of politely smiling confusion.
“Thomas, this is my friend, John Watson,” Sherlock says, and John marshals his right hand and offers it.
"Yes, of course," Thomas says, giving John's hand a firm shake.
John glances at Sherlock, querying the existence of a very personable man who not merely accepts the possibility of Sherlock having a friend, but seems already cognizant of the fact that he does.
“John, this is my brother-in-law, Thomas Hawksby,” Sherlock says.
John’s smile slides sideways and crashes into complete incomprehension, but Sherlock is too busy untangling his coat again to look.
“And these are my abominable nephews, Siger … ”
“How do you do, sir,” Siger pipes, offering John a rather ink-stained hand to shake.
“ … and Sherrinford.”
“How do you do, sir – Papa says you were shot in the Maiwand district - is that true, sir?” Sherrinford says boldly as John bends to shake his hand.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Sher,” Sherlock says fondly, baffling Sherrinford back into his coat again. “He was shot in the shoulder.”
Sherrinford shrieks with laughter, and Sherlock grins down at him with obvious pride in his own remarkable wit.
“I’m afraid we’re going to have to cut and run,” Thomas says. “We’re going to a film in Leicester Square and we’ll miss the trailers if we don’t hurry.”
“Oh, well that would never do,” Sherlock says, turning Sherrinford out again. “The trailers are the best bits.”
“John, it was nice to meet you,” Thomas smiles. “Hopefully we’ll get to exchange a sentence or two, next time.”
“Yes, yes,” John says, smiling vigorously. “Yes, that’s – yes.”
“Get along, vermin,” Sherlock says, flapping his coat as if to drive the two little boys out.
They run off, laughing, and Thomas strides after them. John stares at the three retreating figures for several seconds.
“Your – brother-in-law,” he says carefully.
“Yes,” Sherlock says, the corners of his mouth tightening almost imperceptibly.
“You have a sister?” John says, and then instantly, “no, you don’t have a sister – Mycroft’s married - Mycroft’s married to another man - Mycroft’s married to another man and they have children together.”
“John," Sherlock says with feigned pride, "truly, there is nothing left that I can teach you about deduction.”
“I don’t have time for you just now, Mycroft,” Sherlock says as Mycroft steps into the sitting room.
“No, I can see you how very busy you are,” Mycroft says.
Sherlock is dressed in fraying pajama pants, a faded tee-shirt, and a tea-stained robe. He’s lying on the couch, one pale hand trailing limply to the floor, the other curved on his chest like a dead dove, with a dishtowel draped over his face. Mycroft brushes off the seat of John’s armchair with his hand, wipes his fingertips together with a faintly pained expression, and sits down.
“Thomas said he and the boys ran into you and John yesterday, about town,” Mycroft says.
“Are you asking me to confirm or deny?” Sherlock says from under the dishtowel.
“I’m asking you come to the house for the weekend, and to bring John with you,” Mycroft says.
Sherlock’s trailing hand swoops upwards to pluck the dishtowel from his face, revealing an expression of thunderous disbelief.
“Why on Earth would I agree to such a thing?” he rumbles.
“You haven’t spent a weekend with the boys since – oh, January wasn’t it? Not since you met John, certainly,” Mycroft says, his lips tucking themselves into an elaborately artless smile. “They miss you.”
Sherlock’s expression falls from robust annoyance to more diffuse discomfort. He tosses the dishtowel aside as he sits up abruptly.
“I’m sure they don’t,” he says.
Mycroft lets his gaze slide aimlessly over the cluttered surfaces of the sitting room.
“Siger’s discovered a method of fractionating soil samples by mixing them into a glass of water,” he says vaguely.
Sherlock’s intake of breath is a soft oh, but Mycroft doesn’t seem to notice.
“He told me about it, but I can’t say I saw the point,” Mycroft goes on.
Sherlock’s eyes go cold and hard.
“Well, you wouldn’t,” he says, his mouth twisted into an ugly curl.
“Oh, and Sherrinford rather offended Lieutenant Gilbert by pointing out quite enthusiastically that the Commandos take precedence of the Special Air Service,” Mycroft says, his attention apparently riveted by the way John’s newspaper has been left tented over his used mug and plate on his side of the desk. “He seems quite fixated on the idea that John would parade to the right of Lieutenant Gilbert … ”
Mycroft’s gaze slides back to Sherlock’s face, catching a split-second glimpse of a suppressed smile before Sherlock waves one hand and scowls.
“No, no, it’s simply impossible,” he says, shaking his head until his disordered curls are tossing about. “John and I are much too busy to - ”
“Oh, you’re probably right,” Mycroft says, tucking his chin and deepening his voice. “And best not to give John the wrong idea - ”
“What wrong idea?” Sherlock demands.
“The wrong idea that might be conveyed by bringing him home to meet the family,” Mycroft says, smiling with a lot of teeth. “I believe it’s generally considered a significant event in a - ”
“John and I aren’t - ” Sherlock begins sharply, then more flatly, “we aren’t.”
“Aren’t you?” Mycroft says mildly. “I do think you might be.”
Sherlock twitches his eyes narrow and purses his mouth, but doesn’t answer. Mycroft lifts his eyes to the ceiling.
“Of course,” he says to the dent punched by Sherlock’s unsuccessful attempt to demonstrate ejection of the cork from a bottle of champagne as a feasibly accurate weapon, “that still leaves the other wrong idea for him to get.”
Sherlock draws a fold of his robe over his pajama-clad knee and considers the way the weave of the fabric warps out of alignment as he pulls it tight.
“What other wrong idea?” he asks, his voice tectonic with reluctance.
“That you’re not as monstrous as you seem,” Mycroft says pleasantly.
Sherlock’s eyes flick upwards, but then dart down again before he meets Mycroft’s gaze.
“ … that you are not, in fact, wholly incapable of attachment to another living creature,” Mycroft goes on.
Sherlock’s finger reddens as he twists the corner of his robe around his knuckle and pulls until he hears the minute pop pop pop of threads parting.
“Well, I can’t sit about here all day,” Mycroft gusts. “The office is simply swamped at the moment. I’ll be too busy this weekend to do more than kiss the boys goodnight, and if I don’t get Southern Sudan finished today even goodnight kisses will be out of the question.”
He stands and brushes the back of his pants off carefully. Sherlock continues to strangulate his finger with his robe, even after Mycroft has gone down the stairs and shut the street door behind him.
john and i arriving riverside station 5.20 pm send car. SH