Sherlock would have called it called an “experiment.”
Mycroft called it “interrogation.”
The choice of noun was of little importance; a petty matter of semantics.
What did matter was the adjective: a shared trait as genetically rooted as their overtly mutual disdain for one another.
Because when Mycroft planned an intelligence-gathering operation, it was with the same uncompromising, exacting attention to detail with which Sherlock planned his experiments.
Especially when he was attending to the leg work personally.
So when he brought John to the darkened warehouse that night, everything - from the location and lighting, to Mycroft’s stance, to each individual word that came out of his mouth – had been meticulously planned; analyzed and chosen to provoke both verbal and nonverbal responses that would give him imperative data.
It wasn’t about the money.
Mycroft needed to know more than whether John had the morals to refuse compensation for spying on a new acquaintance. Plenty of people had morals.
No, Mycroft needed to know what sort of man John really was.
And John told him. From the moment he got out of the car, with his words, tone, and stiff, military posture.
But he was holding back.
Because it wasn’t until two words – “show me” – that John really did.
Showed Mycroft his left hand.
Showed Mycroft John Watson.
And there it was.
The most important data of all.
Because one didn’t just walk with Sherlock and see the battlefield: Sherlock was a battlefield, and knowing him, let alone living with him, was a war.
A challenge like Sherlock Holmes required much more than morals, trust, loyalty, or a high tolerance for irritation and dramatics. More than a soldier with nightmares of war, yet a steady hand in the face of a new one.
It was difficult to define - an endless source of frustration for an exacting man such as Mycroft Holmes - but it was a “more” that he’d always been certain he’d recognize on sight.
It still defied definition. But tonight, of all nights, Mycroft may just have glimpsed its proper name.
Doctor John Watson.