The Holmes brothers have sometimes been – not unfairly – called natural disasters, although few have attempted to specify precisely what kind of natural disasters they might be.
This is a mistake. It leaves you . . . unprepared.
Mycroft is the elder by seven years, and has always been the – apparently – more placid of the two. Physically, he is indolent in the extreme. He despises any and all forms of physical exertion.
He is also – and this is what people frequently forget – the more intelligent of the two. He doesn’t leap around with his deductions; he doesn’t need to. With a brain like that, other people can do his legwork for him.
Moriarty, in a fit of uninspired insipidity, called him the Ice Man.
He was wrong. Mycroft is not an ice man – he is a glacier.
Glaciers are slow, subtle, patient. They seldom shift more than an inch or two in a year. You can live your whole life next to one and never see it move. It becomes a constant sight in the corner of your eye, so constant that you cease to see it entirely.
And then, suddenly, it is there, on top of you, crushing you. When people think of the destructive power of ice, they remember the Titanic. But the Titanic was just a ship; glaciers crush mountains and carve out valleys. Glaciers change the landscape of the world.
You think they’re slow . . . and then it’s too late to run.
Sherlock is the younger and is – on average – barely more energetic than his brother. On average. But he himself has no average, streaking from one extreme to the other – never moving for days on end and then suddenly whizzing about like a gadfly. Twice as annoying and far too quick to slap down.
He has none of his brother’s disdain for legwork. Occasionally, his brother will call him to run around; occasionally, Sherlock will come to Mycroft for insight. And while Sherlock’s IQ may be a few points lower, he also has Dr. John H. Watson – a man worth his weight in gold.
Moriarty, in a fit of unimaginative puerility, called him the Virgin.
This may or may not have been intended as an insult. It doesn’t matter, because Sherlock’s body is nothing more than transport for his brain.
Sherlock is a wildfire.
Wildfires are swift. They can cover up miles in a single day, devouring everything in their paths and leaving behind nothing but ash. They destroy undergrowth – but they leave deep seeds for future, healthier growth. When people think of wildfires they flee in cars and trains, for such fires cannot be outrun on foot. Fires are massively destructive . . . but they are short-lived. There is no patience in a fire, no subtlety. They blaze as hot as the sun and go out – sprinters, not long-distance runners.
But however many you put out, another fire will spring up, eventually.
When the Holmes brothers are together, they usually bicker. Perhaps this is childish. But perhaps . . . perhaps, deep down, the brothers know that they must bicker – for united, they are too terrible.
When glacier meets wildfire, neither wins. Boiling water spurts into the air between them – injuring both, but not badly. They can recover. Fire melts ice; ice quenches fire.
But once in a while, once in a very great while, Mycroft and Sherlock turn and stand together. And then if you try to melt the glacier, there is fire in the way, burning you. And if you try to quench the fire, the ice is there, crushing you.
On its own, a glaciercan level mountains. On its own, a wildfire can raze villages.
But together –?
Together, they could destroy the world.