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Unavoidable Consequences

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Upon the morning my brother informed he'd be taking lodgings at 221B Baker Street, sharing the expense with a fellow lodger, I immediately did what I felt was my due diligence in checking the background of this gentleman who'd be sharing digs in close quarters with my brother and his sensitive skills, of which I occasionally took advantage of for Queen and Country.

Of course, there was much personal interest there as well, as Sherlie was my beloved younger sibling and it had always been my duty and desire to protect his sensitive, somewhat flighty self. There were special considerations to be made, ones that he himself might not even have been aware of, so it was doubly important to me the person who'd be residing in such close quarters to him be of impeccable character and understanding nature.

Upon first glance, Doctor John Hamish Watson had excellent credentials. A respected Army physician recently invalided after surviving the dreadful Battle of Maiwand, only to succumb to a nearly fatal bout of enteric fever in India, he appeared to be a stolid, noble man of great duty -- on paper, at least.

Of course, when my private rounds of inquiry to people who personally knew him returned some days later, I read them and discovered a few traits I wasn't as sanguine about. Quickly, I abandoned my usual schedule and made haste to Baker Street where Sherlock was already arranging his large collection of belongings, the Doctor to join him a few days hence.

"Where should I put this bust, Mycroft?" he said to me, his back still turned, having deduced my presence from the sound of my footfalls. "On the desk or the window?"

"The window. You're less likely to break it while there, however I've come to talk to you about this move, so it might be irrelevant wherever it lands," I said. "I'd like to discuss the lodger who'll be moving in with you."

Sherlie turned around and I was surprised to see a most beatific smile on his young face. "Doctor Watson? Have you met him, Mykie?"

"Only through the reports sent to my office," I said, sitting down in the room's lone chair. "I think there are a few things you need to know before you accept him as a fellow lodger, brother."

The smile faded, replaced by what could only be described as a most defensive expression. "I'm quite sure I've deduced all I need to know. He's a decorated war veteran, a brilliant physician -- graduate of Bart's -- and unfortunately, quite ill with war shock and a recent bout of enteric fever but all that shall be set right. I'll make sure he finds rest here and when boredom strikes, I shall introduce him to my little puzzles, which are sure to amuse and distract him from his troubles," he said brightly, his smile returning much to my consternation and confusion.

"That's a very generous assessment of a man you've just met, Sherlie. However I'm also sure you've deduced that the man is a compulsive gambler?" I said, a little sternly as my brother's effusive praise over this virtual stranger was not at all like him. "He has quite a string of debts throughout the lower half of the city."

Again, the defensive expression fell, as well as a slight bit of embarrassment that my knowledge was so complete. "Yes, yes ... I saw that immediately as well, but I'm sure it was just a way of distracting himself from his sorrows. Besides, if he's truly habitual, think of the most interesting observations I can perform -- addiction to gaming is a fascinating condition to study."

"Not when the rent is due," I interjected. "Did you also deduce the man has a temper this side of volcanic?"

Sherlie shrugged, playing aimlessly with his paperwork. "He's a soldier. Surely you don't expect him to flinch from a challenge. A non-issue, really."

"He has no kin, and what family he did have died of drinking or depression or both combined and these traits, unfortunately, are often inherited."

"That's not his fault!" Sherlock cried with great indignation, greater than the circumstances warranted. "I don't believe in all that inherited nonsense anyway. If that's the case I shudder to think what's in our nature, Mykie. It's all rubbish and really, Brother, such spying on a poor fellow who just wants a warm roof over his head and a kind companion to come home to -- it doesn't become you."

"This "poor fellow" also has left a trail of jilted lovers on three continents," I said sternly, my confusion slowly turning into consternation, for these responses were not typical for my stoic, practical brother at all. "Of both sexes. He was such a careless rake that the Kenyan head office requested he not set foot in British West Africa again after seducing both the daughter -- and the son -- of a village chief."

Ah, here, my brother took pause, his smile fading with a flash of what I could only deduce was jealousy -- jealousy! -- in his bright brown eyes. "Well, that's quite ... energetic sounding. But I do believe that his current health precludes that sort of activity, for a while at any rate. I'd say his oats are likely sown and who knows, perhaps he'll settle down once safely ensconced in a good English household."

"Settle down with whom? The landlady?" I asked, not without a bit of tartness, for I was beginning to see what was ailing my normally level-headed brother.

A guilty tinge of red colored his normally pale cheeks. "Settle down in general, Mycroft. Goodness, what a bear you're being toward a person whom you've never met, only investigated within an inch of his life, which I'll admit is a lively and piquant one but surely you know I can't live with some spotty dullard who has no sense of adventure in his soul," my brother huffed. "I think Doctor Watson will be a perfect fit in a household such as this, all your rather lurid doubt aside."

For a long moment, I silently examined my brother who fidgeted accordingly under my gaze. I decided to confirm my suspicions. "By the by, Sherlie, his record was missing eye color. What is it?"

My brother's face lit up, not unlike church lamps at Christmastime. "They're blue but no ordinary blue, they have the crystalline shine of Brazilian aquamarines! You've never seen anything like them, changeable as the sea. Most astonishing, the reflection of mood and light in them, you can read them as you would a book. Occasionally gray, deep blue ... even green, depending on the light and the color of his cravat."

My heart sank. The impossible had happened. "Oh Sherlie. My dear brother ..."

He blinked at me, confused. "What's wrong? I'm merely describing a visual fact."

"My poor dear, you are in love with this fellow!" I exclaimed. "Whilst barely knowing him! How did such a thing happen? I'd have never believed it and yet ..."

How Sherlie shook his head at me, with frantic denial, but the data was quite conclusive. "That's ... that's ridiculous, brother. You know that I eschew the softer emotions as not being worth the space they take up in my mind. My heart and mind are as a clockwork, my only love is of logic and facts. Just because Doctor Watson is handsome and passionate and has a most interesting history and is extraordinarily intelligent and I suppose I have a tiny bit of sympathy toward his plight that does not mean ..."

"It means exactly that," I replied wearily, pulling myself up from the chair with a sad sigh. "And I see it appears to be an irrevocable condition you've fallen into. My dearest Sherlock, I hope you know what you are doing, allowing him to linger close with your sensitive heart so exposed. I fear you may end up regretting it."

All the artifice left my poor brother's face as he drew himself up proudly, looking at me directly. "I'll have no regrets, Mycroft," he said so softly, I could barely hear him. "I've made my choice."

Sadly, I nodded. "I see that. I will hope for the best then. You know if you need anything, your brother is here for you."

His return grin was grateful. "Of that I have no doubt."

"By the by, Stanley send his love and a gift of your favorite chutney will be arriving in a few days. Perhaps you can bring him up for a visit."

"Early days yet, bringing him around to the family," Sherlock said, turning back to arranging his paperwork. "Give Stanley my love nonetheless. I'll stop by the Diogenes Club once things are settled here."

I gathered my hat and gloves and nodded in farewell, thinking as I made my way down the seventeen stairs of the flat ... if things are ever settled there, which I had my deep and worried doubts about.

But Sherlock had made his choice, of that there was no doubt. I could only hope it would turn out to be a worthy one.