Jumbo Jet. Dear me Mr Holmes, dear me.
If Mycroft Holmes' hands shake a little, at that, if his gaze drifts and becomes fixed on something beyond others' sight, it is because he allows it. If he runs his hands across his face and bows his head, well, it is because there is no harm in indulging in a minor lapse of control, not here alone, not now. It's unlikely, in any case, that he'll have the chance again. He might as well indulge.
There's some comfort to be found, he supposes, in how small his world has become with those words. So many concerns, immediate and future, swept aside. Only one left, really. The constant, the always-there, the one that matters.
In the end, are you really so obvious?
"You have to call Mycroft," Sherlock declares, slumping on to the couch with absolutely no mercy for John's sense of personal space.
Sherlock gives him the look, the you're-doing-this-on-purpose look, and huffs loudly. "An accurate deduction of the current scenario requires the documents relating to the original estate and subsequent lawsuit. Lestrade does not have sufficient clearance to obtain them for me. Ergo, you must call him."
"Why can't you-"
"Upset about his little plane," Sherlock says sharply. "Sulking. Infantile. Won't answer me, I've tried."
Now things are starting to make a bit more sense. It's funny, he's seen Sherlock throw identical hissy-fits when Mycroft was all too ready to answer his calls, to the point of pre-emptively recording and archiving the lot of them, at least until Sherlock had noticed.
"You think he's mad at you?" John thinks about cafes and umbrellas and fairytales about witness protection created solely for Sherlock's benefit, and smiles widely. It's a bit smug. Just a bit. "I really don't think that's it. Not everything revolves around you, Sherlock. He's a busy man."
Sherlock's frown deepens. "I hardly think he's likely to get more interesting calls."
John allows a bit of time for that statement to hang in the air before putting voice to his disbelief. "The man makes 1984 look like a useful instructional booklet. I think, yes, maybe he does get some more interesting calls. I'm guessing yours isn't the only ego he has to deal with, and the other guys have the nuclear silos to back it up."
Sherlock looks back blankly. "So?"
"So... so call him back later," John splutters. "Yourself."
Sherlock huffs again, and stalks out of the room.
Twenty minutes later Lestrade calls, reluctantly admitting he's pulled a few favours, and John is putting his coat on and halfway to the door before he even hangs up.
"Sherlock!" He bellows, and in a flurry of long limbs and dark wool, they're out the door.
Sherlock is seven and Mycroft is fifteen, and Sherlock is doing his homework. It's a minor miracle. Mycroft is yet to find any pattern in the tasks that will pique his interest enough to make him participate, but this one - something insipid about future career paths - has worked, and he's not going to question it. Sherlock shuts himself in his room and writes with enough enthusiasm to break two pencils ("I'll tell you how I knew that from your thumbnail," Mycroft says demurely, "if you eat your sprouts. Yes, all of them." Sherlock wrinkles his nose but does it, because Mycroft keeps his promises) before coming down to dinner. Mummy doesn't emerge from her bedroom at all tonight, so Mycroft makes do.
He's surprised, then, when he comes home the next day to Sherlock sitting in the middle of the hall, tearing the sheets Mycroft had stapled together for him that morning into tiny pieces. He's red around the eyes, biting at his lip hard enough to leave a mark, and very overtly not crying.
"Sherlock, you're making a mess."
"Don't care." Sherlock snaps, and twists paper scraps violently between his fingers. "I hate it."
"Stop it and pick that up," Mycroft says. Sherlock shakes his head.
"You're not in charge of me."
"I said pick it up. Now." Mycroft keeps his voice steady but drops the pitch just a fraction. Sherlock's tiny fists clench, but he does it, gathering the bits together and shoving them in to Mycroft's hands without looking at him.
"Very good." Mycroft says, then takes his hand and leads him to living room, up to the fireplace. It's lit, crackling cheerfully. He gives the paper back. "This is neater."
They solve the case, but Mycroft still doesn't call back. John watches, day by day, as the tightness at the corner of Sherlock's eyes and mouth gets worse, as he talks more often at John and far less to him. Sometimes he catches him pulling his phone out, tapping at the corner of the case then slipping it back in his pocket, all without looking at it. He doesn't even seem aware he's doing it.
Finally, John has had enough. He sorts through his contacts and sends a bunch of texts to possibly-but-not-always-Anthea. When he doesn't get a reply, he rings her as well as searching out the public numbers of Mycroft's "minor" government office, and calls them too.
They're all disconnected.
"I tried that," Sherlock says, leaning in the doorway, and makes John jump. "I tried all of the numbers. Just to see." He seems defensive. "I told you he's sulking."
"This is a bit extreme for sulking, Sherlock." John says, even as he mentally factors in that this is a Holmes brother they're talking about. "Has he done this before?"
Sherlock shakes his head. "When he brought you Irene's file, what did he say?"
John hesitates. "I - well, he told me to bring it to you, and that she got herself on a-"
"Yes, yes, I know that," Sherlock waves one hand impatiently, narrows his eyes. "Gave you two stories to pick from and you picked the soft one. Obvious. But what else did he say?"
Of course he bloody knows, he always bloody knows. John's not sure if he's mad at himself for believing otherwise, or at Sherlock for being so completely insufferable. But Sherlock still has that worried look around the edges of his eyes. John decides they can have an argument about Irene Adler later.
"He talked about you. Nothing specific, I think he was just, you know, musing."
"What did he say?"
"I don't remember."
Sherlock's lips press together. "Fine. How did he sound?"
John shrugs. "Like Mycroft, what- I don't know. Distant. A bit fond." He takes a not-insignificant amount of pleasure in how that makes Sherlock twitch in annoyance. "He sounded fond."
"I'm sure he did. He must love having you to perform for." Sherlock sneers. "Useless. Precision, John. If not what, then how. Preci-"
"Precision! I know!" John snaps. What does he want, poetry? "It sounded like it was a happy memory, and because of that it was making him sad, and don't tell me that makes no sense beca- oh." John's eyes widen a little. "Ha! I do remember. He was talking about when you were a kid, how you wanted to be a pirate. I can just see that... Sherlock? Sherlock!"
Sherlock is already gone.