When I was writing Little big brother, I've had this idea for a scene with Lady Smallwood being the one calling Holmes parents out. Still, I didn't know where to put it exactly in the story, so I eventually abandoned it. However, in last few days I was actually considering writing a oneshot with this scene, because ever since TFP I have a soft spot for various characters defending Mycroft. I've already read one instance when it's Uncle Rudy; and one when it's Lestrade. I myself inserted one such scene with Sherlock. So why shouldn't we try Lady Smallwood?
Also just a fair warning: if you want a fic when Holmes parents' POV is also put into consideration, this is not such fic. I've done my fair share of Mummy and Daddy analysis in Little big brother. Here the focus is on defending Mycroft.
As for Lady Smallwood - I see her as someone who can be Mycroft's friend and here you have couple of headcanons in that vain. Smallcroft only if you really want to.
Please, leave a review.
In his defense
Once I saw his family leaving his office and walking down the stairs, I slowly approached his door and knocked. Maybe I should wait a little bit longer… come an hour or two after this dreadful visit. Give him time to think, to breathe. God only knew how much he was in need of someone who would know how to deal with trauma survivors.
But alas I was worried. Worried for him ever since I've seen the footage from Sherrinford. And certainly Mycroft wasn't any better three weeks after. Oh, he tried to keep the pretences – he was coming to work, doing his job, acting like his usual self… But it was obvious that everything that happened on that island left its mark on him. He was zoning out in the middle of the meetings, with haunted expression on his face; he was spending more and more nights in his office, and even when he was coming back to his house, it was obvious the next day that he hasn't slept well. He also seemed tense most of the time. Even Sherlock Holmes thought so, because – in rare outburst of familiar affection – was sending people to check on his brother, and sometimes was visiting Mycroft himself.
Still, more often than not Antarctica was shutting himself off and as much as I was used to him spending his days in solitude, I thought it wasn't exactly healthy after what happened on that cursed island.
So now I was standing at his door and waiting for any sign from him. For a moment there was just silence and I started to reconsider coming back later. I was certain this silence meant that whatever happened in that office few minutes ago didn't go well. Obviously, when one tells their parents their supposedly dead daughter is, in fact, alive and as insane as ever, it can't go smoothly. Besides, Mycroft shared with me some stories from his childhood. 'Mummy' as both Holmes brothers liked to call her, really deserved this file her eldest son was keeping.
"Come in, Alicia." He finally said. His voice seemed neutral, if not a bit annoyed, but I knew it was more than that.
And so I slowly opened the door and picked inside. He was sitting at his desk, hands interlined and rested on his abdomen. There was something in his far-out expression… In the way he was observing the ceiling for the few seconds… It was more than exhaustion.
His tired eyes landed on me and he gave me one of his fake smiles. I, on the other hand, finally entered his office and closed door behind me.
"It didn't go well." He gave a soft sigh. Then he went back to the ceiling.
"I suppose it's an understatement." I replied, taking a seat. My response caused him to chuckle cheerlessly.
"Yes, yes, it is." But he didn't look at me.
He put his elbows on the desk and started to massage his eyes. After couple of seconds, he finally gazed at me. And this time I finally saw it. This one other thing than emotional exhaustion. There were actually people who believed that Mycroft Holmes wasn't capable of this particular emotion. Those who worked close to him and knew about his family situation, could have some suspicions about it, but still would have hard time to believe it. Nevertheless, in some cases, seeing is believing.
Mycroft was hurt.
"Oh, you should see them!" He said, smiling bleakly, removing his elbows from the desk and swaying in his armchair. "Of course, first there was disbelief. 'Alive? But how?' Then, when I started to explain, they were throwing accusations at me: 'How could you? It's our daughter!'" He gave another cheerless laugh. "'You idiot boy, how could you lie to us for all these years…? Kindness? What kindness…?'"
"You knew it won't be easy…" I started.
"Of course, I did." He sighed and looked at me. "Unfortunately, I thought I would be able to actually reason with them. I thought that no matter how angry they will be, they will at least treat me like an adult."
I smiled to him reassuringly and replied:
"We both know that parents can be irrational when it comes to their children."
"Well," Mycroft leaned towards me with a sad smile. "apparently, nothing I've ever done was good enough." He clenched his teeth, but then relaxed and proceeded with gloom: "Apparently, according to Mummy, I 'should have done better' and Sherlock was 'always a grown up.' That's direct quotes, by the way." He looked at me. "I'm the idiot boy, who should have done better job."
"Nonsense." I said, trying to cheer him up. "You did tremendous job, giving the circumstances… You did your best."
I couldn't even begin to imagine being in his position – being a keeper of such a horrible secret… Regularly meeting with insane woman who caused him and his family so much pain; a woman who could go into people's heads and make them do all sorts of horrible things… and this woman being still considered his sister… And he had to not only keep an eye on her, but also neutralize international threats and take care of his reckless little brother.
"That's what Sherlock said too." Mycroft replied. "'He did his best…'"
Well, at least younger Holmes came around and, for once, defended Mycroft.
"You know, what Mummy replied to that?" Antarctica turned his sad eyes to me. I looked into them and realized it had to be something that had shaken him to the core. So I waited for him to continue. Finally he added in a weak, barely hearable voice: "'Then he's very limited.'"
For the first couple of seconds I wanted to laugh at the ridiculousness of that statement. Mycroft Holmes limited? One of a few most powerful people in this country was supposed to be limited? A man who talked with prime minister; a man who put his brother under close surveillance, a man, who had connections in multiple organizations and seemed to know almost everything about almost everyone just by looking at them – this man was limited? Violet Holmes evidently didn't know who her son was. She wouldn't have said such a silly thing, otherwise.
But the more I was observing his face, the less I wanted to laugh. Mycroft looked defeated. He didn't see how utterly ridiculous his mother's words sounded. He was only focusing on the fact that his own parent called him 'limited'. 'Limited' can mean many things. After all, there are multiple types of limitations – administrative, physical, intellectual… 'He's very limited.' could very well translate into: 'He's not clever enough…He never be good enough…'
As I mentioned earlier, I know about many things from Mycroft's childhood. I'm one of the few people in this world he can complain about his parents putting him into embarrassing situations for the sake of socializing; about Sherlock being childish even in his late twenties, and about the annoyance that were his classmates. I'm also one of a few people in his line of work, who know about what Eurus did; why Sherlock always have to do lists and why Mycroft is always on diet. Sometimes he just comments something off-hand, like it's nothing big. Sometimes he whines about his family and world as a whole. Sometimes he faces a dilemma and seeks a second opinion. I think that part of a reason Mycroft even confessed this all to me in the first place is that he considers me professional enough to not pity him or being sentimental with him.
There are also things I merely suspect about situation of Holmes family; things that stem from Mycroft being the eldest child and him being pulled into this whole mess with Sherrinford in such a young age… They paint a really sad picture when you put all of this into consideration…
And never before in my life this picture wasn't as painfully clear as back then, in his office. I was actually angry with 'Mummy' Holmes. Actually she wasn't even worthy of that title. She wasn't worthy of such term of endearment, if she called Mycroft 'limited', when at the same time she and her husband didn't even try to do anything with their criminally insane daughter. I was so angry, I wanted to scold them. I wanted to defend the poor man in front of me; this man who sacrificed so much for his family, went through hell and back, and got no recognition whatsoever.
Suddenly he changed his expression to that more of his usual sardonic demeanor. He smiled to me, straightening on his armchair.
"Is there anything I can do for you, Lady Smallwood? I'm afraid, I've kept you here for long enough."
I smiled back.
"Well, I've come here on my own, so it's hardly your fault, mister Holmes." I stopped smiling and stood up. "Now, excuse me. There is something I need to do."
"Certainly." He raised from his seat too and led me to the door. He even opened it for me.
"Thank you, mister Holmes." I said and added with a reassuring smile: "And don't worry about your parents. They will see the reason."
"Oh, I'm not worried." He replied, but somehow I wasn't convinced he was totally honest. "A small disagreement with my parents isn't good enough reason for me to be worried."
"That's nice to hear." I beamed. "Because frankly I find insinuation of Sherlock Holmes being a grown up laughable."
A laughter – a first genuine laughter in a long time – escaped his mouth, and I couldn't help but grin too. I was smiling to him, when we said goodbye, however, when he retreated to his office and I turned my back on him, I became serious. Once I was far enough to not worry about being in Mycroft's earshot, I called one of my agents and asked him to fetch Sherlock, Violet and Siger Holmes back to the building and tell them that I request a meeting with them in my office. They were to be informed that the matter I was going to discuss, can't wait; and that I want to talk about one of Violet and Siger's children. I was almost sure they will assume it was about Eurus, and frankly, I was ready to let them believe it. It was going to be even more satisfying when I'll end with them.
I was sitting in my office, browsing through files left for me, when I've heard a commotion in the corridor.
"I still don't understand why it can't be done tomorrow." Violet Holmes said.
"Now, now, my dear, I'm sure there's something important." Her husband tried to reason with her. "Something which can't wait."
"Then why didn't Mycroft tell us about it? Why did we have to be dragged back all the way here?" She retorted when all three of them stopped at the door to my office.
"Because it's not Mycroft who want to talk with us, but Lady Smallwood." Sherlock explained.
"Do we even know this Lady Smallwood?" Violet asked.
"I know. She was my client." The detective replied. "I'm sure, what she's about to tell us is very important."
For a moment I wondered if Sherlock knew what I was planning. Even if he did, he didn't let me or anyone else know about it.
Nevertheless, when three Holmeses entered my office, I remained on my seat. For a moment I barely acknowledged their presence, I just took another file on my desk and glanced over it, trying to look very busy and send my interlocutors a signal they would get any information from me, only when I decide about it. I guess it was kind of rude to leave them hanging like that (when I was the one, who brought them here in the first place), but it was all to display authority, so they won't get any silly idea they have anything to say here.
"Well, Lady Smallwood." Violet Holmes was first to break the silence. "You wished to speak with us."
As if I just realized they were there, I raised my eyes from the file, quirked my eyebrow in a fake surprise and said:
"Oh, right, mister and mistress Holmes." I smiled to them and turned to the detective. "And younger mister Holmes is here too. What a pleasant surprise…" Still not moving from my chair, I pointed at the chairs in front of me and added: "Please, take a seat."
They did and I returned to the file at hand.
"You requested a meeting with us, when we were half way to the station." Violet Holmes began and suddenly her tone changed from mild annoyance to concern. "Is Eurus alright?"
I glanced from the file and looked at her.
"Did my agent say anything about Eurus?" And… back to the files. "If so, I'm very sorry he misled you."
Violet and Siger's eyes widened, but Sherlock remained emotionless.
"He didn't precise which child." The detective explained. "You and Daddy presumed it's Eurus, because we were talking about her today."
"So if it's not about Eurus, who you want to talk about?" Siger asked.
"Pardon my impertinence, mister Holmes," I started, finally giving them my full attention. "but don't you have three children?" I raised the file on my desk and started to read: "'Siger Holmes… married to Violet Bennet… father of Sherlock, Eurus and Mycroft Holmes…'" I looked at him to see his expression of discomfort. "Yes, there's no mistake. Three children, no more, no less."
It was quite surprising to see Sherlock Holmes smirking at me saying it.
"Is there a reason for this?" Violet narrowed her eyes. "For us to be here?"
"Didn't my agent inform you I want to talk about one of your children? I thought it was quite clear by now."
"Yes, but would you be so kind and explain what this is about?" Siger asked, annoyance clear in his voice.
"Well, mister Holmes," I began, casting the file aside and putting my interlined hands on the desk. "you and your wife have three children, I've already said I'm not going to talk about Eurus, so that leaves you with your two sons. Now, which one, do you think, I wish to speak about with you? I would like to add that I am familiar with both of them, but only one is my close acquaintance. So which one of them would be?"
For a moment I was observing how mister and mistress Holmes were thinking about the answer for that question, before Violet looked at me and asked:
"So this is about Mycroft?"
I wanted to give her a fake smile; I wanted to be condescending and say: 'Good! Good, mistress Holmes!' like I would be talking to little child, but this was the part when I was to become serious.
"Yes, this is about Mycroft Holmes." I replied and gave them serious look. "Now, I normally don't do this, however, this is about a man who I deeply respect, both as an agent, as a politician, and as a human being, so I decided it is important to speak with you, his family, about your horrible treatment of him."
"Wait a minute, if Myc is pulling some kind of scheme…" Siger started, raising from his chair, but I cut him off:
"Mister Holmes, if you won't sit down I will call security to restrain you!"
This threat seemed to work, because 'Daddy' – although not without complaint – sat down.
"I assure you that Mycroft doesn't know about this meeting." I went on. "And even if he does know, it's not important, because this is purely my initiative. I'm the one wasting my time to tell you about your shortcomings."
I've felt fury inside of me. I even clenched my interlined hands as much as I could in their position. Nevertheless I remained calm, as I added:
"A proper etiquette require for you to listen to whatever I'm about to say. Any further comments from you are allowed only after I finish. Is it clear?"
"Yes, but…" Siger started, but I cut him off.
"Well then, let's begin, shall we?" I gave them a fake smile, but immediately after dropped it.
I stared at them intensely for couple of seconds and then…
"You fools." I hissed, standing up from my seat. "You, bloody, bloody fools."
I leaned my arms on the desk to tower over Holmes parents, settled on their chairs. I've tried to be as intimidating as possible. For a brief moment they were speechless, then Violet wanted to say something… But I didn't let her:
"Do you have any idea how many people he saved?! How many crises and catastrophes he prevented?!" I looked at Violet. "Do you have any idea what he does every day?!" I turned to Siger. "And how much responsibility rests on this man's shoulders?!" I gazed at them both. "How dare you call this man 'limited'?! How dare you call the man who uses his intellect and connections to serve his country 'idiot boy'?!"
They seemed startled by my scolding. They quickly recovered from this and were going to argue with me, but I leaned more towards them and – again – cut them off, before they even started:
"And how dare you even imply that he didn't do enough about his sister, when in fact he was one of two members of this family who actually did something about her?! It is time for you two to finally take some responsibility for not acting in time to stop her!"
"He… he told us she's dead!" Siger managed to yell back. "We've mourned our daughter while she was incarcerated on this cursed island!"
"Your daughter," I began again. "caused death of at least ten people, raped at least one person and played cruel mind games on her two brothers and doctor Watson! Of course," I straightened myself. "you don't know about any of this, because Mycroft wants to spare you both gruesome details. After all, you didn't need to know that one of Eurus' games required for Sherlock to shoot…"
"Okay, I think they've got the message." The detective spoke for the first time in a really long time. I turned my eyes on him.
"Well then, mister Holmes, tell me this: did your parents ever visit you during your high?"
"Yes, we…" Violet started, but before she could finish her sentence, I quickly looked at her and replied:
"So tell me, was his last cocaine trip this year or the previous one? A month or a week ago?"
They were speechless once again. I could already see that they were finally realizing something.
"That's enough." Sherlock protested, his voice quiet but hearable. "I don't think any of this should be brought up by you…"
"See, mister Holmes, that's when you're wrong." I smiled to him wryly. "Unlike you and your brother, I don't believe in sparing feelings of the two people, who told Mycroft he should have done batter. You and I both know he's done more than enough and he had barely any help."
"But you're willing to reveal confidential information about our time in Sherrinford." He argued.
"Your brother was willing to abuse his power to keep you safe, therefore I will be more than happy to abuse mine in his defense."
Once again Sherlock Holmes smiled, but this time his smile was wider than earlier.
"I'm sure brother dear will be grateful for this, but would much rather prefer to spare you unpleasant consequences on his behalf, Lady Smallwood."
This time I smiled to him. Then I went back to being serious and turned to mister and mistress Holmes.
"Maybe it's time you take some responsibility for your faulty parenting and see that Mycroft isn't the only one who made mistakes. Maybe when you see your eldest son next time, you will actually comfort him. Because God knows he needs comfort and barely gets it." I concluded and sat back on my chair. "Now," I rolled my eyes on each face of my interlocutors. "would you like to say something?"
For a moment all three of them were silent. Violet and Siger seemed to be visibly shaken by my rant, probably trying to wrap their heads around every new information I gave them. Sherlock, however, was still grinning and frankly it became sort of unnerving. Why he was smiling? I just scolded his parents – the same parents who learned today their daughter is alive. It wasn't the reason to be happy.
"Maybe…" Siger began with uneasiness. "Maybe we did say few harsh things in anger…"
"Yes, some of them were uncalled for." Violet agreed. "Poor Myce, maybe we should somehow make it up to him. Oh!" She beamed, snapping her fingers. "Let's invite him for dinner."
"I'm glad we've reached an agreement." I said with a smile and stood up. I turned to Violet, extending my hand. "Mistress Holmes."
'Mummy' gave me one last unpleased look and shook my hand reluctantly. I turned to Siger.
'Daddy' also shook my hand without much enthusiasm. Both Holmes parents stood up and prepared to leave. Still with a grin on his face, Sherlock wasn't leaving just yet. He observed his mother and father exiting my office, and then looked at me again.
"Why are you smiling, mister Holmes?" I finally asked. "Me scolding your parents isn't good reason to smile."
"No… it's nothing." He replied. "I'm just happy my brother has someone who is willing to fight for him." Finally he prepared to leave. "Goodbye, Lady Smallwood."