Mycroft steps out of the car as immaculately put together as always. On the other side his brother leaps out in all his mussed curl, wide-eyed, glory. He practically runs to the entrance, coat flapping wildly in his wake, as he whips out his arsenal of metal picks and gets to work. Mummy's changed the locks again, not that it would stop either of them of course, but she always did know how much Sherlock loved his little theatricalities.
Sherlock flings the door open and is greeted by a bland-faced butler in his early forties (crow's feet and the signs of early balding), trained well in defence and arms (military cut and well balanced stance, no bulge in pocket (the bespoke's too well tailored) but Sherlock would bet he had a gun on him anyway), had some skill with the guitar (left hand fingers longer than right's), married and recently divorced (un-tanned ring line around middle finger, still fresh), begot a child before that (or he would have divorced her a long time ago), and having a long-standing liaison with the head-cook (he thinks of her as a casual shag whenever he feels like one, but she's expecting a wedding ring so he's going to have to put a stop to this soon; if the suspicious barely-visible stain on the underside of his jaw and the faint aroma of pepper is any indication.)
"Children." Mycroft corrects as they sweep past the admirably still straight-face butler, Mummy never settled for anything less than best of course, "His shoes, little brother, would attest to that."
Sherlock doesn't need to glance back to know that Mycroft is right. Like always. "Yes, fine, children." He concedes and only scowls a little, the larger part of his mind focused on getting to John before there is any...lasting damage.
They find John in the end after both brothers have taken one look around the house and deduced where he is.
"Hello," John says with a small smile after Sherlock has blazed into their little tea party, Mycroft strolling in after him casually with his umbrella hooked in his arm, "Care to join us? The teacakes really are quite nice." The man across John passes over a plate of scones obligingly, shooting a smile at the two newcomers which Mycroft returns. Sherlock nods at then man and turns to Mummy immediately.
"Mummy." Sherlock says, trying for frost but ending up petulant instead. Mummy always did have that effect on him. "What is the meaning of this nonsense? I'm sure that if you'd just asked John, he would have been happy enough to comply without all this kidnapping nonsense."
"And deprive me of the most fun I've had in ages?" Mummy trills, "Certainly not! John is absolutely delightful; I definitely see what you see in him." Mummy beams, "You should have seen his face when I showed him your baby photos. I even let him keep a few."
John grins wickedly at Sherlock who groans.
"And how is Miss Hooper, Mycroft dear?" Mummy turns to Mycroft with a pleasant little smile, "Or has she changed it again."
"It's Tiffany now," Mycroft says agreeably, albeit a bit strained at the thought of said photos, "And she's doing well. She claims Anthea was getting old." He says the last part to John. Sherlock mumbles something about fickle women which John pretends not to hear.
While Mycroft takes a seat and helps himself to a crumpet the man across John turns to Sherlock and addresses him, "Have a seat like your brother," He suggests mildly, "And do stop making such a fussy. You know how it upsets Mummy."
John looks faintly surprised, "I didn't know you had an older brother." He tells Mycroft as Sherlock pulls out a chair and slumps down onto it, sulking. The older man blinks in surprise then laughs.
"I'm not surprised Father hasn't introduced himself since he'd only come just before we did," Sherlock grumbles, "Father this is John, John, my Father."
"Pleasure to meet you." Father Holmes says with a smile and they shake hands over the tea set, "And right again Sherlock. How could you tell?"
Sherlock mumbles something about crumb droppings which John does not catch, distracted at how childishly (adorable even, and John is really going to stop that train of thought right there) Sherlock's put-upon expression is. It must be the company and the setting, John thinks with a fond shake of the head at Sherlock's tiny tantrum.
"One never gets over how fascinating their minds work," Father Holmes comments cheerfully to John after Sherlock is done, "Not even living with them for years like I have. Gets it from their Mummy, they do."
"Quite." John agrees with a smile, then, "Tea, Sherlock?"
"How are the satays?" Mycroft enquires politely, dipping the stick of meat into a bowl of thick, spicy-sweet, peanut sauce. John swallows his mouthful before answering.
"They're good," He says amiably, "All the way from Malaysia I suppose?"
"Oh, no." Mycroft answers with a tiny smile, "We transport our cooks, not so much the food. More practical."
"Ah, yes." John agrees and reaches for another one with his right, and weak, hand. The other one trembles too dangerously these days as serial killers seem to be taking the month off or something. Not that it's not a good thing, since Sherlock and he really had to recover properly from the Pool Incident. John suspects Mycroft’s hand in this recent crime drop, from Sherlock's muttered grumbling about nosy elder brothers not letting him have any fun, and is grateful. But if John had to hear another fact about bees one more time he thinks he'll hit Sherlock about the head with the bee encyclopedia John'd bought him so he wouldn't die of ennui.
"So how is my brother doing nowadays?" Mycroft asks with a slightly depreciating air. He expects that his question will go unanswered as always. John decides to surprise him.
"He's doing well," John replies without hesitation, "He complains about his ribs sometimes, but not his shoulder. So ribs are getting along well, his shoulder's still bad. I'm not slipping anything but painkillers in his tea so you can tell your SIS to calm down." The last is said jokingly.
Mycroft smiles, indeed -and most pleasantly- surprised. He already knows these things of course. But there is a certain pleasure on hearing it first-hand.
They have a delightful conversation about Sherlock after that, and Mycroft even laughs when John mentions the (second) head in the fridge. In return Mycroft makes John forget about his psychosomatic limp, John's laughing too hard, when he recounts Christmas Dinners and that time when Sherlock was nine years, six months, and three days (not relevant, but John had been impressed anyway and John really is very entertaining when impressed. This is probably why Sherlock keeps him around, Mycroft thinks) and Sherlock had been so bored that he'd raided the estate's library and then promptly deleted everything he'd read except for the giant book of nursery rhymes because they were too catchy to erase.
"We should do this again." John beams as Frieda holds open the car door meaningfully. Well, as meaningfully as one can behind an ever-present Blackberry. Mycroft is mildly surprised at how much time had gone by and finds himself nodding back.
"Of course," He agrees and surprises himself by looking forward to it.
"Maybe I'll even bring Sherlock," John suggests as he rises from the table and they exchange a wry glance.
"One more thing," Mycroft says, John turns his head, eyebrow cocked, "Why give me information today of all days? I didn't bribe you, or threaten you, or coax you."
"No you didn't," John replies with a smile, his cane tucked under his arm as he walks unaided to the waiting car, "That's why."
Mycroft's surprised laughter follows him out of the building.
John comes to on a four-poster bed. Evening colours the room a dusky purple-blue which would be pretty enough if John wasn't wary enough to notice it.
He gets out of bed and breathes for a while until the faint wooziness of whatever drug they gave him fades. This is when he realises that he's only in an undershirt and a pair of boxers. He scowls.
There is a knock and John turns to look at the door. It's unlocked from the inside so it didn't matter if he answered it or not as the knocker could just barge in anyway. John decides to take it like a man and, after a quick glance around the room brings up no form of a handy weapon, opens the door. Trusting his years of military training and a doctor's medical knowledge to sufficiently back him up.
"Hello sir," A normal looking butler kind of fellow says mildly. John doesn't let his guard down although he does lose the defensive stance.
"Hello." John agrees and folds his arms across his chest. The butler's shoes are shone shiny but looked comfortably well worn in, a sign of a long term of service and a familiarity of the house. The butler himself gave the impression that he was early forties and had the air of the army about him, John would know, in the stiff backed posture he adopted and the neat, no-nonsense, haircut. Suddenly John wishes that Sherlock was with him to confirm John's deductions, or even to flick them off as irrelevent and spin new and increasingly brilliant ones seemingly pulled randomly out of the air, no less true for it though.
"Miss Adler has requested your appearance for supper. I am here to assist you in your dress and your toilette." The butler says.
"Who is this Miss Adler?" John asks, "And why should I do as she says?"
The butler raises a cool eyebrow.
John sighs, "Fine, yes okay. Come in."
Fifteen minutes later, decked out in clothes with brand names John had balked at and too many buttons, he is led to what he assumes is the dining room. The room is empty but for a long table decorated tastefully. There is a large roaring fire that casts the room in golden oranges. John sighs inwardly at the large taxidemized moose head on top of the fireplace and begins to suspect who is behind this latest kidnapping.
"You wouldn't happen to be a Holmes, would you?" John asks as a pale, beautiful woman sweeps into the room in a flurry of red dress and elegance.
The woman pauses, her eyes narrow in something like annoyance for having the wind taken out of her sails. But she recovers admirably and takes a seat across him, and she really is very beautiful. John immediately recognizes her from the cinema blockbusters he doesn't have the time to watch anymore and billboards with her figure posing dramatically in the arms of some big name actor or another. It figured, John thinks with an inward sigh, that at least one Holmes had their considerable influence in Hollywood.
"You are right," She says, "Before I married, I was Irene Adler Holmes. Currently I go by the name of Irene Adler Norton."
"Sherlock's your cousin then?" John asks.
Irene laughs at that, loud and sweet, "Oh no!" She says brightly, "I'm his aunt actually. But I'm flattered all the same. The stories are true then, you really are very charming.”
John makes the mistake of asking what those stories are, and she proceeds to regal him with the things she's heard about him until he is beet red with embarrassment at the stories of his so-called harem spanning three continents. The worse part is that most of them are true. Except for the one involving tentacles and gelatin, even she admitted that that was a bit much.
"So, tell me, how is dear Sherlock getting on?" Irene asks in the middle of the main course with the French name John doesn't even try to pronounce right. At least Irene is tucking in with lady-like gusto, appetite not at all put off by John's harem stories. Granted, she had been the one telling them.
"Alright," John replies, "Turned down being knighted, again, the sod. We managed to solve the string of bank robberies last week, so he's in the throes of a black mood right now."
Irene winces attractively, "I can just imagine what he's doing to his poor Stradivious right now. He really was always a difficult child."
"How was your relationship with him anyway?" John asks, curious now, "Were you close?"
Irene smiles beatifically, "You could say that. He taught me the way to see the world, I taught him how to choose the way the world saw him."
John thinks of metrosexually cocked hips and tragically gothic faces and tears on demand and all the faces Sherlock cast on and off like clothes.
"Ah." John says, "I take it he was a good student then?"
Irene smiles, "The best."
"Hello Mister Holmes."
"Hello lad, sorry to kidnap you like this. The rest of my family's been doing that a lot lately so I heard, and I wanted you to myself before you get whisked off again. And do call me Robert."
"Something wrong with the name?"
"No, no of course not. It's just so...normal."
"Ha! It's not a 'Mycroft' or a 'Sherlock' that's for sure, bless them, but it works. Their mother named them, I just agreed. Seein' as I got her last name an' everything."
"The old drill. Illegal espionage and other such classifieds I can't tell you about, sorry, that. Met their mum and fell in love I did during a job, and for some strange reason she fell in love with me (let me tell you, I'm still trying to figure out how that happened). We got married and I took her last name because of complications with mine, y'know, I don't even remember it these days. So I got the love of a woman so way outta my league it's crazy, an Estate, a bloody Title and two kids who'd be able to start the third World War if they were ever so inclined."
"And in exchange you let her name them?"
"Son, she could'a named them bloody Bert an' Ernie an' I would'a just smiled an' agreed."
"They do have that effect on us, don't they?"
"They're bloody incandescent is what they are, and it's all we can do -you, me, Norton and that Miss...whatever she is right now- just to keep up. But I s'ppose that's why they keep us around."
"Because we pick up after them?"
"Don't be facetious lad. Because we're the first, and probably the only ones, to bloody try."
John unlocks the door of 221B Baker Street and almost bumps into Sherlock who skips the last three of their seventeen steps and brushes past John to hail a taxi without so much as a 'Hello John where have you been we have a case hurry up'. Not that he has to, but the sentiment is there when a taxi pulls up and Sherlock glances back with an impatient 'what are you waiting for?' face. John rolls his eyes and slides into the taxi where Sherlock promptly steals John's phone and starts texting furiously.
"If you're done being kidnapped by my interfering relatives," Sherlock says with some annoyance, "There's been a murder." which is as much of a hello as John can expect. John says it anyway.
"Hello Sherlock." He says patiently before Sherlock can launch into the details of said murder and Sherlock pauses.
"Yes, yes, hello." Sherlock says carefully, in that I'm-trying-to-be-a-normal-human-functioning-being voice of his, and pulls John's laptop from the sling-on case he's brought with him. John just hopes that this one won't join Sherlock's in the Thames, the result of a particularly spirited chase wherein Sherlock also lost his phone and the client's watch from which Sherlock was trying to use to solve the case. (Sherlock's still mourning the loss of his Blackberry even if he'll never admit it.)
"I do like your interfering relatives," John mentions casually as they pull up at their destination, already decorated with do-not-cross tapes and illuminated with the alternating blue and red lights of the sirens of nearby police cars. He can even see the grey of Lestrade's hair among the milling police, "I think they're quite nice."
"Well not nice perse," John back-tracks, amused, "But certainly interesting."
As he gets out of the taxi he thinks he hears Sherlock murmur a pleased affirmative, but he isn't sure.
And the one time...
Sherlock grimaces as a gin and tonic is poured deliberately on his head. The liquid coldly slides down the back of his shirt. His hair's going to smell like alcohol for days, he knows as he watches the Watson flounce out in righteous indignation.
John looks up from his armchair when Sherlock plods into the flat fifteen minutes later, still smelling of the drink. Sherlock is very glad that he didn't go out in his coat as he'd have to send it to the dry-cleaner's otherwise.
"Things didn't go well with Harry?" John says dryly, "Let me guess. You deduced her issues from, I don't know, a stain on her blouse and she decked you."
Sherlock very purposely doesn't finger the bruise on his jaw as he smiles wryly, "Her fingernails actually, and yes."
John shakes his head fondly and laughs.