Chapter 1: Never
Mycroft Holmes never texts when he can talk, but by the god he doesn't believe in, he texts his brother upwards of one hundred times the day the Richard Brook story hits the tabloids. There is no particular reason for it. Mycroft Holmes is simply worried.
Mycroft Holmes has never been a man who put much stock in instinct. Inference is more Sherlock's area. Mycroft Holmes likes his world quantified, and makes his deductions on solid, impartial fact. That being said, there is nothing any more worrying than normal about those insubstantial rumors he has heard about Sherlock's dramatic near arrest last night, nor is there anything impartial about John Watson, when he comes railing into the Diogenes at 9:43, ante meridian. And yet, irrationally, he worries.
Mycroft Holmes is not a man who apologizes often, but he does to Sherlock via John. That's when the worry spikes in his heavily guarded heart, a companion to the guilt already present. The first text is sent within seconds.
Mycroft Holmes does not swear, and he never, ever begs. He never flags in his grammar, either, from which stems his dislike of texting as a rule. His final, desperate text is sent at 3:59, post meridian.
Sherlock holmes for christs sake answer me
At four, the news ticker reads: Suicide at St. Bart's.
Chapter 2: Incident
Sherlock is six years old when he is diagnosed.
Sherlock was six years old.
The teachers at his pre-preparatory school had caught him unconcernedly exhuming the class pet the day after its mock funeral before a weeping audience of his peers. In his usual, which was to say, both grammatically and scientifically faultless manner, he had explained that he was interested in the progression of Flopsy’s decomposition in open air versus in soil, and that since the rabbit was dead—of natural causes and everything—he was well within his rights.
After all, it wasn’t as though anyone else had any further use for the carcass. Although he’d be willing to share, if anyone was interested. Sharing was good, yes? They’d learned so on Tuesday.
That much by itself didn’t warrant the drama of the following weeks and years, and shouldn’t have done such permanent damage to Sherlock’s record and his soul. Wouldn’t have done either, but for the fact that, during his teachers’ stunned silence, Sherlock had taken the opportunity to whip out a lethal-looking kitchen knife and proceed, in his very fastidious, businesslike manner, to decapitate the unfortunate rabbit, cleave its body in two, rebury the one half, and neatly wrap the other and the head in his pocket handkerchief to take home.
As far as Mycroft could see, there hadn’t even been anything unusual about Sherlock’s behavior.
Chapter 3: Capulet
She twits him about Shakespeare and helps him solve a murder.
Sherlock meets Juliet Wiggins in an alleyway not far from the Old Bailey. He’s running from a suspect this time, rather than after one, and when he bursts upon her, actually frantic for once and covered in three different people’s blood, she hides him under her cardboard and goes on picking through cans as calm as you please. It’s only after Burke has torn straight past her without a second glance that Sherlock sees the trembling in her frame.
Burke, Sherlock learns without prompting, has been staying in the abandoned bank by Waterloo—does he know the one? Juliet isn’t a snitch, but several of the younger folk had come to her in tears over the last week, and it wouldn’t surprise her at all if Burke is wanted for any less than twelve counts of assault and battery, not after the welt he’d given Curtis.
That it’s actually a brutal, ritualistic murder doesn’t faze her much either.
Sherlock gives her fifty pounds and tells her to spread the word: news of anything suspicious-anything at all, mind, even if its trivial—will be rewarded if it comes to Sherlock Holmes in Montague Street. She mangles some Shakespeare, collects her cardboard and scarpers. She might be the most perfect person Sherlock’s ever met.
Sherlock has a Network before he turns his back.
Chapter 4: Delete
You can't kill an idea, can you? This one's made a home in Mycroft's there.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Mycroft had found him once, three years old and sobbing for the sheer weight of data in his head. They’d sat together in a cupboard in one of the unused wings of the manor all night, in near total sensory deprivation. In the morning, Mycroft got Pa’s Apple II off the Sherlock-proof shelf and showed him the ‘delete’ feature.
They ran into trouble early on when Sherlock went for the largest files and accidentally deleted most of his gross motor control. There was a long lecture about prudence after that, and Sherlock never did anything so stupid again. By the time he learned it back, through several years of occupational therapy, he was as graceful as any dancer.
By then, there were already words like ‘spectrum’, and ‘high-functioning’ being thrown about when Mycroft was supposed to be asleep. The diagnoses never fazed Mummy or Pa much—they’d gone through too much grief to have Sherlock to be any less in awe of their youngest—but they knew that Mycroft loved his brother, and didn’t want to hurt him.
Still, there was the thought that Sherlock’s blinding alexithymia might have been self-inflicted. That this might be Mycroft’s fault.
You can’t kill an idea, can you? Not once it’s made a home, there.
Mycroft worried, constantly, about his brother and his 8-bit brain.
Alexithymia: a state of deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions.
Also, this is the best thing ever, and is totally slotted into my headcanon: http://street-howitzer.tumblr.com/post/15587790724/the-slumber-of-feelings-a-study-of-autism-and-bbcs
Chapter 5: Yell
Or yellow. Mummy had never been able to tell.
The world called out for Sherlock. It threw information into his eyes, yelled it into his ears, belched it into his nostrils and filled his brain to bursting with itself. Sherlock had first spoken at four months (yell or yellow, Mummy had never been able to tell), first asked ‘why is the lamp screaming?’ through his rather terrible lisp at a year, and had finally had a great enough command of the English language to describe his perception of the world in a fifteen word compound sentence at the age of two. All that input, shouting for his attention, made him an incredibly active child, always dashing about to hear what new facts were thrown his way.
Mycroft’s mind worked rather in opposition to Sherlock’s. Where the world was thrown at his brother, Mycroft greedily lured the world toward himself. Mycroft opened his eyes wide, and his ears wider and drank in all the world had on offer. He hadn’t spoken until he was five, but when he had, his first words had a neat rebuttal of the Prime Minister’s speech on the television, drawing heavily on the concepts of John Locke and Thomas Paine he’d read in Mummy’s Encyclopedia Britannica. He started reading at age three, and would do so for hours. He was always thicker set than his brother.
Chapter 6: Six
Five times Mycroft didn't get a brother, and one time he did.
Pa is anxious and Mummy is resigned. Both of them are weary. Mycroft knows what that means. Once again, he is not getting a brother.
One Saturday, Pa takes Mycroft aside for a long talk. Pa still isn’t used to talking with Mycroft, rather than to him, but he does his best.
Mycroft, there’s something you should—
How on earth did you — ?
Laughter. I forget who I’m talking to, mon petit génie. Pa doesn’t speak French, but Mummy uses it often enough. I should have known you’d work it out.
Mycroft—sigh—don’t you ever say such things in front of Mummy. What a horrible thing to say. Of course you could get a brother this time—there are never any guarantees with this sort of thing—
No. No, it’s alright. I understand what it looks like. It’s just… Mummy and I were very lucky with you, we know that now, and we want to be lucky again, that’s all.
You’re right. We were supposed to be done. This one wasn’t supposed to happen. But we’re very glad it did.
It’s very dangerous, Mycroft. But we have hope. You need to be strong, alright? Can you do that for us, grand frère?
That’s my boy.
For all that Sherlock was the miracle, Mycroft was never second best.
Chapter 7: Vernet
Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.
They were a musical family. For some reason, this surprised most people who knew them.
Pa didn’t play any instruments, but he could sing in a ringing operatic bass. Neither of his sons had inherited that voice; Sherlock had a decent baritone but never used it, and Mycroft’s tenor was pure and smooth, but very thin.
Mummy, something of a prodigy, was concert worthy in two instruments and dabbled in another three when she wasn’t busy at court. She regarded her perfect pitch as a pet peeve, a gift and viewpoint both her sons shared.
At nine, Sherlock ignored a ‘do not touch’ notice in a shop, picked up a violin worth five hundred pounds and played a perfect double scale by ear, despite never having previously touched a bow. The instrument was purchased on the spot, and within five years, Sherlock was splitting his time between roles as Concertmaster for the school symphony and second violin for a professional philharmonic.
Next to his brother’s skill with a bow, Mycroft’s previously notable prowess on his beloved Steinway looked about as competent as if he were a trained gorilla. Still, Mycroft took after Mummy in more ways than one, and could confidently play two woodwinds and the harp in addition. As Sherlock had once teasingly pointed out, Mycroft was one for breadth.
Chapter 8: Diet
Mycroft's not the only one who worries.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Mycroft, though plump as a child, had been whippet thin at school. Carrying off gold medals from international fencing championships would do that to a person.
After his graduation from Oxford, though, when Mycroft went to work for the ‘Ministry of Transport’, the fencing had stopped entirely. Sherlock had been at school at the time, but the little he saw of his brother around holidays and Mycroft’s ‘internship’ told him all he needed to know. Mycroft’s love affair with fine French pastry was only cloaked by his épée training; without it, he gained three stone in a year.
When Sherlock was nineteen, after eight terrifying months of Mycroft’s very existence being denied by the Home Office, Mycroft had turned up at Cambridge with a promotion, a weak excuse about Bosnia and a long, red scar across his abdomen. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, Sherlock actually managed to land a few touches in the salle, and Mycroft had been visibly pained by their bout.
Sherlock had frowned behind his mask, and put his knowledge of BSL to use. Were they trying to kill you?
A sigh, and a nod.
Sherlock bit his lip, and tasted blood. That can’t happen. “En garde!”
Sherlock stopped playing fair and took to twitting his brother’s diet.
Mycroft lost the weight and took to carrying a brolly.
BSL: British Sign Language--You know they'd both know it
Salle: Fencing chamber--I'm sure Cambridge has one
Épée: A form of fencing characterized by an emphasis on anticipating an opponent's next move--perfect for Mycroft
'Whippet thin': Mark Gatiss' own description of himself
Chapter 9: Study
Things Sherlock learned and the people who taught him.
Mycroft: The world is made of tiny details. Those details can be put together to understand the world. Not all details are important.
Mummy: The violin is beautiful. Law is boring.
Pa: Dead things are fascinating. Formaldehyde makes them boring. Sherlock likes his corpses fresh.
School: Nobody else can see the details. Sherlock is a genius. Sherlock is a freak.
Carl Powers: The police are idiots.
Professor Mortense: There is no such thing as evil, only heartlessness and defects of the mind. Sherlock matches the criteria of a high-functioning sociopath. And therefore has no heart.
Sebastian Wilkes: Sherlock needs to act ‘normal’. He cannot. Sherlock doesn’t have friends. Everyone hates him.
Charles Mueller: Drugging oneself makes the world quiet.
Greg Lestrade: The police are still idiots. They need help with the work. Drugging oneself is not conducive to the work.
Victor Trevor: Sherlock is attracted to men. Victor Trevor has excellent taste in films. Caring for victims makes the work harder.
John Watson: Sherlock has a friend. John Watson is clever and brave and perfect. He is very attracted to men.
Irene Adler: Drugging others is highly effective for achieving one’s goals. Sentiment is a chemical defect.
Jim Moriarty: Evil exists. Caring is not an advantage. He does it anyway. Sherlock is not a sociopath. He has a heart to burn.
Chapter 10: Cheating
Greg's spouse cheats on him. A lot.
It was 2005. Sherlock was fresh off the cocaine and chomping at the bit, and Mycroft had not-so-subtly suggested consulting for a certain DI Lestrade, and then vanished.
Why not? It was past time to meet his brother’s husband.
Sherlock turned up on a crime scene, totally unannounced, and picked out his brother-in-law of two years in three seconds flat. The man was tired, vexed by his locked-room double murder (Dupin copycat—urgh!), and buckling under the burden of his husband’s unexplained disappearance. French lineage, footballer, sometime chef, former smoker. Cared too much. Of course bloody Mycroft hadn’t told him where he’d gone.
“Detective Inspector,” Sherlock called across the scene. The man started toward him, opening his mouth to speak, but Sherlock cut him off. “Sherlock Holmes. My brother sent me.”
The whirl of emotion that crossed his face was fascinating to witness.
“Rest assured that I possess the same powers you have come to expect from him. For example, I see your wife is cheating on you with an Iranian arms-dealer. I shouldn’t worry over her too much, though. Such situations tend to end quickly, and favorably.”
Lestrade opened his mouth, blinked several times, and finally shook his head. “Well then, Sherlock, was it?” he said, a disbelieving smile stretching wide. “Greg Lestrade. Come have a look at these bodies.”
Chapter 11: Steps
The Case of the Dancing Men.
Manon Vernet, being a renaissance kind of woman and having once auditioned for the Moulin Rouge, had decided long ago that her children would know how to dance. Sherrinford Holmes, once she told him so, agreed whole-heartedly. This instant agreement had nothing to do with the fact that they were on their honeymoon and he was too caught up in his new wife to deny anything she might propose. Nothing at all.
And so it was that each of the Holmes boys were taken to a series of dance exhibitions and told in no uncertain terms to pick one and stick with it. Mycroft, still a lonely only child at the time, had seen nothing beyond the pairs of dancers taking the floor before choosing ballroom. He took lessons in the village for the next eight years, becoming particularly versed in the Viennese Waltz, before being allowed to drop the activity at fourteen, on account of having earned a spot at the British Junior Fencing Championships.
Sherlock, though, was forced into lessons right up to his eighteenth birthday. This would not have been such a hardship save that young Sherlock, six years old and pining for the Spanish Main, had been taken to a touring performance of Le Corsaire—that is, The Pirate—and decided at once to take up ballet.
Chapter 12: Overkill
Sherlock never did do anything by halves. Something of a prequel to 'Cheat'.
Though they’ve only been partners for nineteen months, it’s the night of their four-year anniversary that the text message arrives. Mycroft and Greg are lying on the floccati rug before the fire, and Mycroft nearly faints when it opens.
SH suspected death
“Mycroft!” Greg barked, arms tightening around him; Mycroft was sure there was nothing but those arms that kept him conscious. Lucky they’d already been lying down. “What is it?”
“My brother,” he gasped, numb fingers moving as quickly as possible.
He held his breath, and waited. He suddenly couldn’t remember if that acronym meant ‘cause of death’ or ‘cocaine overdose’.
Yes. Looks purposeful. Ambulance here.
On my way.
He was up and out of Greg’s arms before it finished sending.
“You have a brother?” asked Greg’s confused voice.
“Yes!” cried Mycroft, searching for any tie and any suit jacket and never mind the color or the creases. “A baby brother who has just overdosed on cocaine and might be dead even now, damn him!” He breathed deeply, and tried again. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be.” Greg was pale and frowning, and holding out Mycroft’s coat. “Just go to him. Tell me as soon as you’ve news.”
It wasn’t for three days that Mycroft realized that this was the first time Greg had ever heard about his little brother.