Disclaimer: I don't own Sherlock.

Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go by any rules. They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material.

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapter One

The knock on the front door was the first clue. It wasn't the usual hesitant knock of someone who wanted the attention of the occupants but didn't wish to appear rude nor was it the hasty and firm knock of someone who had something to deliver and other places to be. No. This was the type of rage filled knock that would cause the door to shake slightly and, in any normal household, the occupants to react in a appropriately shocked manner. However this was the Holmes household and such knocking had become frequent over the years.

The angry voices would be next. First the angry voices of those at the door. Then, since today was one of those rare days when Father graced the family with his presence, it'd be his own ire filled speech that followed. (On the days when he's not around, Mummy's much more docile reaction to such events would normally cause the first set of voices to increase in volume and fury.)

Following that, all that would be left would be Father's usual parting call.

("Get out of my sight!")

Soon Mycroft's guest would darken his doorway.

As he continued with his work his attention was elsewhere, it was currently on the sounds of the staircase to be exact. The 5th, 9th and 11th steps had quite distinctive creeks. There were 15 steps on the stairs in total. Taking that into account, along with the length of the passageway, his door should be opening around about ...now.

Sherlock never asked to come in and Mycroft never told him to leave. This arrangement was one of the only 'brotherly' actions they ever indulged in and neither ever mentioned or questioned it.

He didn't look up when the door creaked open or when it clicked shut. This wasn't unusual. Some days Mycroft would acknowledge his brother and some days he wouldn't. Sherlock was just as inconsistent; sometimes he would walk in with an arrogant smirk in place and talk at length about whatever it was he had done this time, sometimes he wander around the room taking odd books off the shelves and leaning over Mycroft's shoulder to comment on how 'dull' his work was and other times he'd simply sit quietly.

Today appeared to be one of those sit quietly days.

Mycroft knew that if this was one of those ridiculously sentimental Hollywood films then he would have long since moved to sit beside his little brother and begun to whisper reassurances. He would be over there telling Sherlock that he wasn't a freak, that Father was just stressed and that everything would be fine in an hour or so. Even if this was something Mycroft was capable of doing he knew Sherlock wouldn't welcome it. Sherlock did not need comforting, he did not need reassurances, he was both stronger and smarter than that. It was their emotional detachment that aided their ability to observe and analyse at such a level. It's why they were beyond all those other people. The Holmes brothers had a culture all of their own making; when it came to what the rest of society would do there was quite a clear 'them and us' divide.

Sherlock had been away for a week on one of those dreadfully dull and utterly pointless school trips. Father had insisted he go on it, more than likely out of some kind of hope that it would make him appear more normal to others. It hadn't been a complete loss. He'd been able to find out some things he didn't know about his classmates. Some things that were actually almost interesting. And on one night he'd managed to sneak off to pursue some suspicions he had about local shop keeper, who had some quite strange comings and goings.

Sherlock entered the house and haphazardly threw his bag to one side, the thud shattering the silence. Most people his age would be calling out for their parents now; they'd be loudly announcing the fact they were home and talking of how much they'd missed everyone. Then, after exchanging hugs and other such things they'd sit down and the child would tell the family all about what they had been doing and how much fun everything had been.

There was only one person that would understand what Sherlock had been doing. With that thought in mind Sherlock made his way towards the staircase and began his ascension, walking in manner many people who knew him would think unusually slow. Outside of the house he never really bothered to take any set of stairs one step at a time.

When he opened the familiar door, smirk already in place, all that greeted him was an unusual neatness. Mycroft's room was always tidy, yes, but the shelves were empty and the desk was completely clear. The chair that the room's owner usually occupied was tucked under the desk. There was no sign of the room being in use. He backed out of the room and made his way downstairs, jumping the last 4 steps in haste. Judging by the time the best place to find Mummy would be the kitchen.

Sure enough there she was, still dressed in her dressing gown. She lazily held a glass of orange juice in one hand while the other languidly turned the pages of a magazine lying in front of her. She looked up as he entered and offered a small smile.

"Oh hello sweetie, you're home early aren't you? I wasn't expecting you for a few hours," she looked at the clock then back at him, "I'll make some tea... Oh and toast. You like tea and toast don't you? Of course you do."

Sherlock ignored all of this, there was a much more important matter at hand.

"Where's Mycroft?" he asked.

"Hmm...? Oh, He decided that the journey from here to the university campus was tedious. Your father agreed so he rented a flat to save Mycroft the trouble." She replied offhandedly, while navigating a kitchen she obviously rarely used.

"When was this decided?"

"I don't know, maybe a week or so before you left."

Sherlock walked out of the kitchen slowly. He picked up his bag on the way to the stairs and propelled himself up the stairs, two at a time.

Sherlock Holmes was above sentimentality so he didn't feel disappointment, hurt or betrayal. He didn't care that Mycroft hadn't even mentioned this move to him.

Sherlock didn't need Mycroft, he felt just as secure locked in his own room with his violin and his books.

No, Sherlock wasn't bothered in the slightest.