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The Shop Boy

Chapter Text

      “Why in the world are you taking me to this ramshackle establishment?”

Sherlock was simply adorable when he was being petulant.  That, however, would stay Mycroft’s secret until he needed a truly powerful piece of ammunition for a future engagement.

      “Because your newfound taste for chocolate is going to bankrupt the family, for one.  A single box of Mummy’s truffles costs more than a week’s, perhaps a month’s, wages for those who work in this, as you called it, ramshackle establishment.  Also, Mummy is not going to be pleased when she reaches for one and finds her fingers sliding across the bottom of an empty box since she no longer has a single piece of chocolate with which to indulge herself.  We are going to find something more appropriate for you to weather this addiction until you find another option to occupy your attention.”

      “It is not fair.  Why should I have to suffer subpar chocolate just because Mummy lacks the forethought to order two boxes?”

      “Life is not fair, Sherlock.  That is a lesson you had best learn now, for it is one of the few that will never change.  And what… Sherlock Holmes, what is on your face?”

A Holmes out in public with a brown smudge on his cheek.  Simply disgraceful, so of course Sherlock had to stretch his tongue out to try and find the offending mark.  How this cacophonous genetic combination was in any way related to him was a mystery he had not a hope of comprehending.

      “Chocolate.”

      “Chocolate?  I told you to wash your face before we left.”

      “I did.  But you did not tell me to wash my hands.”

And, of course, the two hands he held out had chocolate smeared on the pads of the fingers.

      “I would have thought that was self-evident.”

      “I am not responsible for your imprecision of language.”

On the street, soiling a handkerchief with chocolate.  This was exactly the manner in which Mycroft had hoped to spend the morning.  At least Sherlock wasn’t fighting him… probably because he too distracted with his delight in Mycroft’s discomfort.

      “There.  Now, I suggest we come to the understanding that the act of washing one’s face should be complementary to, not separate from, washing one’s hands.”

      “Boring.”

      “Regardless, personal hygiene is a key factor used to assess the worth and character of an individual.    Forget that at your peril.  Now, let us see what we can find…”

__________

Oh.  That is to say…

Well…

      “Are you having a stroke?  You are not allowed to have a stroke if it means I shall have to take public transportation home.”

      “You would call our driver, Sherlock and, likely, fail to inform the poor man that my corpse was sullying the floor of a local business.  And I am not having a stroke, I’m simply…”

Oh heavens…

      “… surveying the premises to affect the most expedient shopping experience.”

Men were not permitted to be beautiful.  It was simply not done…

      “There is chocolate directly in front of you, Mycroft.  There is little more expedient that a straight line.”

When that line ended in a rapturous vision of beauty, a straight line became a difficult thing to navigate, nonetheless.

      “Then why have you not hurled yourself headlong into the colorfully-wrapped confectionery, since it is beckoning you so invitingly?”

      “You have my money.”

      “Ah… well, go and choose something you feel you might enjoy and I shall proffer payment when you are done.”

      “And are you just going to continue to stand here like an unattractive, but fortunately clothed, version of Michelangelo’s David?”

There would be liver for dinner tonight.  Sherlock despised liver.

      “I shall mill about until you are done.  Do not hurry on my account.”

      “I shall hurry if it amuses me to do so.”

But Sherlock's eyes were already gleaming at the thought of investigating the sweets display.  He would soon have one of each item laid out and would be sniffing, feeling, rumpling wrappings and, in other manner he could conceive, investigating each one to come to some conclusion as to their quality.  It would not occur to Sherlock until later to simply buy one of each and eat them to gather his data.

      “As you wish.  I shall be close by when you are finished.”

Not that the option of being at distance was on offer.  The shop was small and the clutter of items for sale reduced the space even further.  Which also meant that Mycroft could not be significantly separated from the wingless angel standing behind the counter.  Shaggy, dark hair, eyes warm enough to melt away the thickest ice of winter, broad shoulders with a lean, but fit, body and his smile… poets would fill pages of script if they could but catch a glimpse of his smile.  And he was now walking directly this way… the situation had gone critical.

      “Hi!  Haven’t seen you in here before.  Can I help you?”

That question should not likely be given the answer Mycroft truly wanted to supply.

      “I am not certain.  My brother is in need of chocolate of adequate quality to consume in quantity without severely impacting the balance of his weekly allowance.”

Mycroft decided that he sound like precisely like David Niven’s grandfather.

      “Good, cheap chocolate, eh?  I think we have just the thing.  Follow me.”

And, as the entranced Mycroft happily noticed, the aft of this magnificent creature was just as lovely as the stern.

      “If he doesn’t mind choc-in-a-box, this is a good deal.  Lots of blokes come in to pick up one for their ladies.  Price is good, too, for how much you get.  Better than what he’s rummaging through now.  At least I’m guessing he’s yours, you both have that air about you.”

Was that a compliment?  If so, Mycroft would gladly appropriate Sherlock’s share and feel not the slightest bit guilty.  It was a kindness, really, for Sherlock would not appreciate it properly.

      “Really?  That is kind of you to say.”

Mycroft was actually astonished the proprietor wasted money on electrical lighting when he could simply have this gorgeous individual smile and illuminate the space for free.

      “Just being honest.  I’m Greg, by the way.”

How polite to offer his hand to shake.  His very strong, titillatingly-rough hand…

      “Mycroft…”

David Niven’s grandfather was probably named Mycroft, too, which put the older Holmes squarely on the side of hating his parents.

      “…I know it is rather a silly name, but…”

      “No!  I like it.  Unique, not something I’d forget.  Not that you’re forgettable.  Quite the opposite, I think.”

      “Oh… well, thank you.”

Killing a man with a piece of goose down was a technique Mycroft had long ago mastered, but he could not muster a witty or flirtatious reply when prompted to do so.  His priorities for education needed to be immediately reexamined.

      “You’re welcome.  So tell me, Mycroft…”

      “I have made my decision.  You must now pay this lackey so we may leave.”

Perhaps the goose down assassination technique was a useful thing to have learned.

      “Cute little tyke, isn’t he?”

If cute had suddenly become synonymous with satanic, then yes.

      “I do apologize for Sherlock.  He has been quite successful in feigning cases of communicable illness whenever it is time for his lessons in manners and etiquette.”

      “Smart kid.  I’ve put a thermometer under a hot tap more than once to avoid going to school.  So, what do you want me to ring up?”

Himself.  Mycroft would contact the family solicitor to pay whatever was the cost and contract a suitable replacement to take Gregory’s shop position before day’s end.

      “Since this is, in some ways, an experiment, we shall take the lot.  Once Sherlock has fixated upon a particular type, we shall return for more.”

      “I look forward to it.  Come on, then and I’ll get you two out of here.”

__________

      “Ugh.  What an incredibly common shop.”

      “Perhaps, Sherlock, but the appearance was not relevant to its value in securing your sweets.”

      “I am not hopeful to return, anyway.  It is likely soon to be shuttered if the best they can hire is that shabby shop boy.  OW!”

      “Oh dear, was that your foot?  My apologies.”

      “Do not tell me you did not find him horrid.  His hair was uncombed…”

It was wild and natural.

      “… his clothes were either second-hand or older than me…”

They were the perfect clothes for someone who knows their body is so magnificent that they could wear a newspaper and still be the most attractive person in the room.

      “… he was dirty.  Did you see his fingernails?  And the smudge on his face?  You just lectured me on hygiene…

Hygiene was to help those lacking feral virility feel better about themselves.

      “Yes, Sherlock and you are quite correct.  However, considering he was currently engaged in his work, which obviously involves a degree of manual labor, none of that should be surprising.  Observations are important, but take care that you collect all pertinent information before you voice your evaluations.”

      “Fine.  Then we must return to the shop.  I require more data.”

Oh, the burdensome hardship…

      “When you have consumed this portion of chocolate, we shall visit again.”

      “That will be sometime after lunch.”

      “I think not.”

That would appear far too eager.