It's not like it used to be. Oh, on the surface it is, but in a minute Sherlock is going to say something and then Mycroft will realise how much everything has changed.
For now, though, it at least looks like everything is the same. Sherlock sits on his chair and Mycroft sits on John's chair and they glare at each other in complete silence. Mrs Hudson has come and gone with biscuits, wisely not questioning their complete lack of conversation.
In a minute everything will change.
"So, would you like a cup of lonely?" asks Sherlock.
And there it is.
"Oh," says the brat, and smirks. "I meant tea. Obviously."
Mycroft briefly considers fratricide. "I'm not lonely," he says firmly.
"Never said you were," Sherlock shoots back. "Something on your mind, brother dear?"
Mycroft considers fratricide for a little longer. He's always figured that he would poison Sherlock - something slow acting so he can sit there and list all the reasons why he'd done it to the struggling twerp - but right now he could go for a bit of axe murdering. Which is very excessive for someone who detests all forms of exercise.
"Not lonely," he reiterates.
"Noted," says the little creep.
He receives a text a week or so later, saying, simply - Cavendish Square, right now, please hurry. I need help. Please. SH
Its almost embarrassing how quickly he reacts. The car is screeching to a halt at the square less than ten minutes after he has received the text.
There is no one there. A suspicious lack of anyone, actually. Except for one scruffy, rather confused looking man, who, on closer inspection, appears to be that Inspector Sherlock is always annoying.
"Ah, George," Mycroft says, approaching him, umbrella swinging from hand to hand. "It appears we've both been the victims of a childish hoax."
The Inspector looks at him. He knows Mycroft is the British Government and could have him killed with the twitch of his pinkie, and yet this does not stop him yelling, "It's Greg, for Christ's bloody sake, have the entire Holmes family got some disorder that prevents them remembering my sodding name? And what the shit do you mean I've been the victim of some hoax? Does Sherlock even know how fucking busy and important I am? For fucks sake!"
Mycroft has never heard someone swear so much on one breath of air. He is faintly impressed.
His phone goes off. The text says - Have fun ;) SH
He is going to kill Sherlock. And then kill the man who taught him emoticons. He storms back to the car.
"Right, so I'll just wait here then, shall I?!" the Inspector roars.
Mycroft waves a languid hand. "Goodbye Gideon," he says.
Go and find something better to do - MH
Was trying to be thoughtful - SH
I AM NOT LONELY - MH
No need to yell - SH
Mycroft is appalled at himself. He never writes in all caps lock.
Detained in police station. The usual one. Same bribes apply as before - two cases for rescue. - SH
Mycroft turns up at the station in a foul mood. He was halfway through an episode of The Bachelor. Mysteriously all his factual DVDs about different political governments seem to have turned into episodes of The Bachelor. This is one case he will not be putting to Sherlock Sodding Holmes.
"One murderous older brother here to pick up one very dead little brother," he says glumly to the policeman in charge.
The Policeman In Charge looks up. It is, of course, the Inspector.
"Oh," says the Inspector. "Shit."
"Do you always swear on a first meeting, Glen?" Mycroft asks.
The Inspector closes his eyes as if gathering strength from some inner source. "Let me just get Sherlock," he says, and stands up.
"What is he in for?" Mycroft asks. If it is drugs, he will not be responsible for his actions.
The Inspector shrugs. "Nothing," he says. "He breezed into the station, casual as you like, and said he wanted to be locked up. I did what he said. You never know with Sherlock Holmes."
That little tit.
"I see," says Mycroft. "Please be so kind as to fetch him." So I can strangle him with my bare hands.
Sherlock is duly presented, grinning cockily.
"Did you change all my DVDs to episodes of The Bachelor?" Mycroft accuses.
Sherlock smirks. "Got hooked yet?" he asks.
Mycroft's expression says everything. Sherlock cackles. The Detective Inspector smothers a laugh.
Mycroft escorts Sherlock out of the station. "Goodbye Gordon," he says.
"Fucks sake," says the Inspector.
Halfway through an important meeting, Mycroft's phone goes off. This in itself is a mystery, because he turned it off not ten minutes ago.
The phone warbles, "Lonely, I'm Mr Lonely, I have noboooody to call my owwwwn."
The person calling is apparently Graham Lestrade.
Mycroft answers the phone. "Tell me he's at least broken a limb or two," he snarls, then smiles disarmingly at his rather alarmed guest on the other side of the desk.
"Uh," the Inspector stumbles. "No, actually. He's here, he just told me to call you. I don't know why. Oh, and now he's laughing. Sherlock, you're a complete - "
"Arsehole!" shouts Mycroft. "Tell him I'm going to ram this fucking phone so far up his arse his intestines will spill out of his literally shitting mouth!"
He puts down the phone and turns back to his visitor. "Now, Mr President," he says. "Where were we?"
It is only later that it occurs to Mycroft that he not only swore, but rather creatively. He hardly ever swears, and he is never creative.
This is all Gary Lestrade's fault.
He absolutely, on no account, thinks of scruffy, swearing Detective Inspectors all the next day. He is a very busy man. He is the British Government.
Sherlock rings him in the evening. This is also new, this attention. It would be a nice change to the twit's personality if it wasn't for the fact that he is clearly experimenting on Mycroft like he used to experiment on their pet guinea-pig when he was seven and bored. Poor Nibbles.
"So, how much have you thought of Giles today?" the hellspawn smirks down the phone.
"It's Greg," says Mycroft.
Oh no. No. Mycroft hopes hastily that Sherlock missed that, but his little brother's silence on the other end of the line is far too telling.
He is rumbled.
Sherlock texts - 8pm, The Criterion. Do try to make an effort for once, this is hard work.
John says, "What are you doing?"
Sherlock says, "Nothing."
"Are you matchmaking your mad tyrant brother?" John asks, and picks up his teacup.
"Yes," confesses Sherlock. "With Lestrade."
John spits out his tea.
The Inspector is already at the table when Mycroft turns up, looking marginally less scruffy for once.
"So," he says, "What bullshit excuse did Sherlock feed you with this time?"
Mycroft bites the bullet and sits down opposite him. "Actually," he says, "He didn't."
The Inspector's face lights up. It's irritatingly attractive. "Me neither," he says.
They stare at one another.
"However," Mycroft says, "I deeply regret to say that this is as far as we will go with one another. I never let my brother get one up on me, I swore at the President of the United States the other day and I am not lonely."
"Okay," the Inspector says after a pause. "Am I allowed a say in this?"
"No," says Mycroft.
"Tough," says Lestrade. "Number one, of course you let Sherlock get one up on you. We all do - he looks far too adorable when he's happy for us not to. Number two, a bit of swearing will do you good, you fucking uptight three-piece-suited twat. Number three, denial is not just a river in Egypt. Stay for cake?"
Mycroft sighs. "Cake and sex," he says.
"Cake, sex and love?" the Inspector barters.
Mycroft stares at the Inspector. The Inspector stares back.
"Deal," Mycroft says, and adds, "Greg."
Greg grins. "Fucking deal," he agrees.