The white tiled hallway seems to stretch on forever. The boy watches one black shoe step in front of the other, wondering when he and his father can stop walking. The smell of antiseptic makes the inside of his nose tingle, and his stomach wants to churn. He holds his breath for as long as he can, and eventually, the burning inside his chest becomes too much. He lets his breath go in one long groan. His father slaps him on the shoulder.
"None of that, Mycroft," he says tersely. Mycroft looks up at his father's piercing eyes. "We'll get there when we get there." Mycroft nods quickly, apologizes under his breath, and keeps walking. He isn't sure if he wants to go to the hospital room at all, actually. Three days after his ninth birthday, Mummy told him that he'd have a new brother or sister soon. Of course, he was initially excited. What better than someone to play with whenever he wanted, or someone to do things for him? But it was when he really thought about it, though, that he realized that having a brother, or even a sister, wouldn't seem so good. He starts to think about it now, as he tries to push the shame of being scolded in public out of his head. Mummy would be paying more attention to the baby, and he knows that his father would not spend any extra time with him. Mycroft sighs. All of a sudden, this doesn't seem fair to him. Why would his parents need another child? Was he not good enough for them? Anger begins to brew inside the pit of his stomach.
A nurse with dark skin and curly black hair walks past them, and gives him a sweet smile. Mycroft scowls at her. Why should she be so happy? She's not about to be replaced by some baby, like he's about to be! He looks away, and starts watching the closed doors lining both walls, wondering if he'll ever find "Holmes" written on one of them.
Jackson, he reads. Nesbitt, Watson, Brown... he looks to the other wall. Hunter, Donovan, Wiltshire, Holmes. Finally. He and his father walk into the room quietly. His mother is sleeping, with a bundle of blue blanket wrapped up in her arms. Mycroft feels his heart sink. The baby, his replacement, is right there. Nestled up against Mummy's chest. His father motions for him to sit down in the chair at his mother's bedside. He sits, and cranes his neck, trying to see inside the blanket. He can't see much; just a tuft of thick, black hair. The bundle stirs, and the baby whimpers. It lets out a cry that makes Mycroft want to cover his ears, and his mother opens her eyes. She looks so tired. Mycroft wonders how she managed to be in labour for that long without Dad by her side. She snuggles the baby close, and looks over at Mycroft, smiling. He tries to smile back, but it's almost impossible.
"Hullo, sweetheart," she says in a half whisper. "You have a new baby brother! He's hungry, Mycroft. Can you hand Mummy that bottle beside you? Yes, that one. Thank you, dear." Mycroft nods, saying nothing. He looks at his father. His father is standing at the other side of the bed, arms crossed, his face emotionless, as if it's made of stone. He nods to himself.
"Looks like you," he says to his wife. "I guess." Mrs. Holmes smiles.
"Now, we have one son who looks like you, and one who looks like me! Isn't it interesting how that works? See? This one's got my hair, and I think he's going to have my nose as well." Her husband says nothing. Mycroft is curious. He does want a closer look at this brother of his... He watches the baby suck hungrily at the bottle.
"Can... can I see him?" he asks, the first thing that's come out of his mouth all morning. His father shoots him an icy stare, but his mother smiles. She tries to scoot over, and she puts a hand on the mattress.
"Come, sit down with me," she says. "And I'll put baby Sherlock on your lap. Careful now, dear. Don't hit him with your knee! Ah, there we are." Mycroft's lap feels heavier with Sherlock laying in it. He studies his brother's face. He's not sure how Sherlock can possibly look like Mum, with that red skin and that one tuft of fuzzy hair. He takes a look at the baby's nose, and he decides that yes, it does look a bit like hers. Maybe later, Sherlock will end up with his mother's long face and strong cheekbones. But right now, it's too hard to tell.
"Mummy, why is his face all red and pruny?"
"Mycroft-" his father starts.
"Oh," his mother replies with a giggle. "That's because Sherlock here is still rather new. All new babies look like pruny for the first little while. You looked like that when you were born, too!" Mycroft runs a finger down his brother's face.
"Is he going to keep sleeping like this? Is that all babies do?"
"Babies like to sleep, dear. He'll sleep a lot until he gets bigger. You slept a lot too, when you were a baby."
"So, he's not much different than I was?"
"Not at all. I think, when he's older, you and Sherlock will become the best of friends. Many brothers do, you know." She grins. Mycroft wants to ask his mother if he'll still be special to her, but he knows he shouldn't dare. Especially with his father in the room. Instead, he plays with Sherlock's tiny fingers, unable to curb the jealous feeling rising in his chest.
Eventually, his mother drifts back to sleep. Mycroft tries to put Sherlock back into her arms, but his father shakes his head, furrowing his brow.
You hold him, he mouths. Mycroft looks back down at Sherlock. Sherlock opens his eyes, and stares up at his big brother. His eyes are blue, just like Mum's. They're wide, too, and it seems like forever until the baby finally blinks. He wraps a little hand around Mycroft's thumb, and he wrinkles his face into a yawn.
"You stay put," his father says sternly. "I'll be back in a moment." He walks out of the room and closes the door behind him. Mycroft looks over at Mummy, to make sure she's really sleeping. He presses his lips against Sherlock's ear.
"You might be my brother, Sherlock, but don't think for one second that you're going to steal Mummy away from me," he whispers. "I'm your big brother. I'm the boss. Understand?" Baby Sherlock wriggles in Mycroft's lap, and makes a funny gurgling noise.
As far as Mycroft cares, Sherlock will figure it out eventually. He's irreplaceable, and if he's not, then he'll make sure Sherlock doesn't come out on top, either.