Sherlock: Brother, Mine

I'm not sure he understands why I was always so hard on him.

It was to avoid… this.

I see it happen in slow motion; his hand rise, the gun held steady in long, capable fingers. He aims and fires; blood and brains spatter out the back of Magnussen's head and he falls backward.

The shout tears out of me, across the wires: "Do not fire on Sherlock Holmes!"

My brother lifts his hands over his head, looking at John Watson. I'm too far away to hear what is said, the hum in my head louder than the helicopter around me. I can't move or even breathe; this was exactly what I didn't want to happen. I told him to stay away from Magnussen. I warned him not to do this.

But as I look at him standing there, staring up at my helicopter, I see not a defiant man but a crying child – the same boy who wept after our parents put Redbeard to sleep. The dog was his only friend… our only friend, and we put him down so he wouldn't suffer from the cancer eating him up inside. It was the logical solution, but it hurt… and it hurt more when I told him the truth, when I snapped at him one day that no, Redbeard wasn't safe on a farm where he could chase ducks all day, but dead and rotting in the ground. That he was a stupid little boy to believe the lie! I regretted it the instant it came out, but forever since, I have used it to remind him to focus! To face reality!

The emotion I so despise clogs my throat and all I can do is whisper, "Oh, Sherlock, what have you done?"

This, I can't save him from. I can't stop this. I can't protect him from this. He knew that and he did it anyway. My shock and horror turns into anger as they take him into custody. Secret service swarm all over the house and grounds. There will be a cover story. No one will know the truth. But too many people saw what happened. I can't threaten them all—and I shouldn't have to.

He's alone in a room with two guards posted outside when I enter. He looks at me over his shoulder and again, I see the tear-streaked child after learning the truth of Redbeard's death. "What the hell were you thinking?" I demand, so angry I can hardly see straight.

The boy is gone, and the man before me, hands in his pockets as usual. He turns to me, his face devoid of anything other than a slightly satisfied air.

"I told you to stay away from him!"

Sherlock narrows his gaze. "I did what was necessary, what you refused to do."

I cross the floor, several inches taller than he is. He looks up at me, defiantly; he's always had to look up at me, at his empirical older brother, at his closest and most dangerous adversary, for that is how he sees me. "Magnussen was a useful evil—"

"He wasn't a useful anything," Sherlock snaps. "He was a monster, a man who used his brilliant mind to torment and control other people. Did you know he tried to kill John? For his own amusement, to see what I would do! But of course you did! You see everything, as you so often like to remind me!"

He turns away in anger and I lift my brows. "So that's what this is about, your friend John Watson. Revenge! The desire to protect him! What have I told you about sentimentality, little brother? What did I tell you the day you learned the truth about Redbeard?"

"That when you love things, you are vulnerable." He looks at me, his gray eyes stormy. "That we can't put aside reality to believe in sentimental fantasies. That you can't allow sentimentality to get in the way of duty. Isn't that right, Mycroft? Well, what does duty demand of you now?"

Rage simmers underneath my calm demeanor; I fight hard to keep it off my face as I square my shoulders and look at him. "You're a murderer, Sherlock. What do you think duty requires of me? What prison do you suppose we ought to put you in? Which prison haven't you put anyone in? There is no prison cell on earth safe for you!"

"Then you'll have to send me off to get myself killed, won't you?"

Something inside me snaps. "Damn it, little brother! This is serious!"

He actually smiles and shakes his head. "It always is with you. That's what this is all about, isn't it? You don't care about Magnusson. You never did. This is about your little brother humiliating you in front of the British government."

"Believe me, Sherlock, I overcame being humiliated on your behalf a long time ago when I realized your tendency to put sentiment ahead of common sense." Silence lingers in the air after my outburst and we look at one another, his expression unreadable. Crossing to the door, I reach for the handle and his low voice stops me.


"What about him?"

Sherlock looks across the room at me, a shock of dark, curly hair falling over his forehead, shadows of the child behind his eyes. "You look down on me for wanting to believe he had gone to live on a farm, like our parents said, and not been put down in a veterinarian's office. For God's sake, Mycroft, I was a child. You throw it at me now and again to taunt me with it, to remind me how you were always superior, always saw the truth!"

"I am superior," I answer angrily.

His brows go up. "Then why did you choose a position in the government? If you hate people and 'sentimentality' so much, why devote your entire existence to protecting them?"

"Someone has to do it," I counter. "But you are wrong. You're equating what I do with what you did, and I am not a murderer."

Leaning against the far wall, his upturned collar casting shadows on his cheekbones, Sherlock asks quietly, "Aren't you?"

Memories of another situation linger in my mind, another brother's death. Sherlock tilts his head forward, his fierce eyes blazing at me. He turns the knife slowly. "That was always your strength, wasn't it, big brother? To put aside sentimentality."

"You brought this on yourself." I let a beat pass. "Both of you did."

"Ah, yes," he says quietly, "and we must have been such disappointments to you."

Turning away from him, I touch the doorknob. "I can't save you this time, Sherlock."

It shuts behind me in the hall. I look at the guards. "Make sure no one goes in."

My footsteps echo along the dim corridors underground, silence curling in around me. I'll argue against his incarceration and come up with another idea to punish my little brother. If I send him on a mission, the mission the government wants him to go on, in six months I'll have to tell our parents that he won't come home… that another of their children is dead.

My legs falter and I lean against the wall, out of sight of anyone. I press trembling hands to my temples and let them fall in front of my face, in the familiar posture my brother so often assumes when listening to a conversation. I find it difficult to breathe as that dreaded emotion settles in the pit of my stomach.

"Oh, Sherlock," I whisper in utter despair, "little brother…"

And the rest of it, the insensible grief, is lost to the darkness.