An Abject Lesson in Economics

A quick one-shot as to why Holmes took on a roommate.

Instead of writing on Etruscan genetics, I tore this one out.

Reviews are always welcome.

"Exactly what is it that you require this time, Younger Brother Mine?" The room had grown decidedly warm- too warm to be comfortable for this time of year. Mycroft shifted in his seat, allowing his body to relax a bit more than prudent in the stranger's room. "I have given you the tools required to build your own career and yet you continue to indulge in this fantasy of playing the detective."

"I am nearly there. I have solved several cases, and my reputation is building."

"I do not care about your reputation among the types to lose their beloved cats. If you want ignoble adventure, there is always the army or the Foreign Office. Your minimal talents at least would not be wasted within those two spheres. And you would have a steady income- one quite unattached to my own."

Sherlock sighed. It was impossible to deal with his elder brother in this mood and decided to take the uncharted, direct route . "I simply need a small loan for the next few weeks."

"What happened to the last of this month's budget? It was more than enough to tide you over for the next three."

"I was induced to purchase something."

"What is this something?"

Sherlock faltered. It was a bad habit left over from childhood acquiescence to a much older, heavier brother. "A thing that was far underpriced."

"And? If I am to be the primary investment banker in this acquisition,then I have, by all rights, the right to know exactly what I am obtaining by proxy."

"It is a Stradivarius."

"You purchased an Italian."

"Really, Mycroft."Holmes snapped, angered by tone and his brother's feigned ignorance. "I know that you have no desire to participate in the frivolities of the human race, but even the most loathsome bipedal creature knows what a Stradivarius is."

"For someone begging for capital from an elder brother, you are being quite insubordinate. You have always been most trivial in your habits, but a Stradivarius? You haven't touched a violin since you were nine years old and carted off to school."

"I haveā€¦ picked up the instrument again. I remember quite a lot, and my fingers are becoming quite adept again."

"And how much was this underpriced fiddle?"

"Fifty-five pounds."

"Fif-" Mycroft breathed hard. "A loan for that amount is not for a few weeks, but for several months. Only you, Sherlock, can try my soul and my bank account so. I will loan you fifteen pounds total. I am not your personal pawn broker. If I do not see you groveling here again for another three months, then it was well worth the investment."

"Thank you," Sherlock demurred, pocketing the bills into his inner jacket.

Leaving- there was no point in staying by then, Sherlock felt worse off than before. Less than half the amount was a monetary insult and left him overly indebted for even that. An outright denial would at least given him some sort of impoverished purity of soul. His new rooms had already been outfitted with his belongings and the first month's rent due. Walking out onto the street, he slipped into his habit of viewing people- deducing their trade, their family, their location, intent on forgetting his own inaction.

"Hallo, Holmes."

Off to the left, Holmes had completely missed one of the few people he had rather tolerated from university. Even curiouser, the man tolerated him back. "Stamford. How are you?"

"Very good. I'm off to get something to eat. Would you care to join me?"

"No, I have already eaten today. I am about to embark on an experiment at the chemical laboratory." Work always staunched hunger, he had discovered.

"More of your experiments, eh? Well, I don't want to stop you." Stamford smiled, then stepped off to leave.

"Say, Stamford." Sherlock grimaced inwardly. "You don't happen to need rooms, do you? I've found myself requiring a roommate of late. Someone to halve the rent. It is a very nice place, and Mrs. Hudson is quite discreet."

"Sorry, Holmes. I am comfortably ensconced in my own flat. I'm to marry, you see. A year after I graduate. Then it's off to one of the colonies. Doctors are always needed in the bush."

Holmes nodded, unsure of who else to ask. "If you might do me a favor then. If you hear of anyone else needing a room, send them my way."

"I'll do my best," Stamford smiled, then melted into the lunch crowd.

Holmes plodded along, slowly plumbing his way into the depths of St. Bart's, wondering which experiment to indulge in.