Notes: Set during The Hounds of Baskerville so contains spoilers.
Disclaimer: Characters, situations, backstory etc all not mine, and this is not written for profit.
Mycroft felt his phone vibrating discretely in his jacket pocket and excused himself from the exchange of pleasantries with the Belgian delegation. He had one or two minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin, and the real business at these things was always delayed by an interminable round of welcomes and coffee pouring, the shuffling of papers and egos. If one of the very few people who had his personal number need to speak to him then it was likely to be business of a far more important nature.
Once in the privacy of a nearby stairwell he retrieved the buzzing phone, giving a momentary sigh of exasperation as he saw who was calling.
"Good morning, Sherlock." Just a touch of weariness – a dash of boredom. Little brother must be reminded of his place in the hierarchy of Mycroft's professional world.
"Hello brother dear," the boy was being polite; not leading with an insult, not even using the more impersonal greeting by name, appealing to him through their relationship as siblings. He clearly wanted something – a favour? "How are you?" Sherlock continued. The saccharine levels in his tone were enough to make Mycroft's teeth ache. It had to be a big favour.
"I am quite well, thank you." Mycroft replied evenly, placing his free hand in his pocket and rocking back on his heels. "How about you and John? Enjoying your wild goose chase across the bleak Dartmoor hills?" He didn't pause to allow Sherlock to mount a defence. "Still, I suppose at least it got you out of London for a change – the fresh country air is very rejuvenating. It'll do you good to get the smog out of your lungs."
"Oh yes it's lovely down here," Mycroft could almost hear the eye rolling. "A truly inspiring landscape. Particularly the minefields and secret biological and chemical warfare laboratories." Straight on to Baskerville – that was not unexpected, given Sherlock's dogged agenda when he was working one of his precious 'cases'.
"Well you would know after that little day trip, wouldn't you?" Mycroft said in response, allowing a certain degree of tetchiness to enter his voice as he recalled just how much more paperwork was going to be required to make that security breach disappear cleanly. "For the record, little brother, pick-pocketing might have been an endearing habit when you were six and aspired to be an Oliver-esque street urchin, but it became much less amusing once you graduated to my credit cards, my driving licence and now my security card."
"But you were always such a convenient mark to practice on, Mycroft," Sherlock pointed out playfully, as though that made it perfectly reasonable behaviour, "and your credit cards and ID helped to finance experimental materials that were very unreasonably not available to the intellectually curious thirteen year old me."
"But you didn't have to explain to the rather suspicious police detective why a school was receiving an industrial quantity of bisected pig hearts and a variety of high-strength acids, all paid for and ordered in my name!" Mycroft protested hotly, his voice rising in the echoing stairwell.
He could feel his blood pressure escalating, a common occurrence when talking to his brother – no matter what the topic of conversation, it always seemed to end in a rehashing of childhood arguments. With some effort Mycroft closed his eyes and forcibly returned his voice to the calm indifference that he preferred to adopt when dealing with out-of-their-depth politicians, megalomaniacal dictators and the petty annoyances of his younger brother.
"As pleasant as this little chat is, Sherlock, some of us do have high affairs of state to be getting back to. What is it that you want?"
"Unrestricted access to Baskerville and all its staff."
That straight ball earned a genuine laugh and Mycroft half-turned to peer back through the glass panel in the stairwell door, watching as the delegates began to enter the conference room.
"Very funny, Sherlock. What is it really? Have you had that ill-advised Land Rover you hired impounded? I can't believe you ever passed a driving test in the first place, what with your attitude to speed limits and constantly veering off the road when you spot something interesting about a passing milk float…"
"I'm quite serious," Sherlock interrupted. "There's more than just bizarre experiments taking place in that base – there's criminal activity. An unsolved murder. A man's sanity is at stake here, Mycroft."
"Even if that were so, I hardly think that giving you unsupervised access to a highly restricted military base is the best way to dredge up whatever secrets you think are hidden there."
Mycroft didn't know why he always persisted in trying to reason with his brother – it was always an overly optimistic approach – but it seemed to have become a habit.
"If you put your theories down in writing, I'll make sure they're forwarded to the appropriate branch of the military police…" he was interrupted by a scoff from Sherlock but soldiered on. "They will investigate your claims thoroughly, I assure you. But you are not to go back there. How you avoided arrest the first time the breach was detected, I have no idea, but I'm not sending someone on my staff all the way down to Dartmoor to bail you out if you try again."
"I have to get back into that base and speak to the scientists myself, Mycroft, don't be ridiculous! The military 'authorities' will just file this away and allow a killer to walk free, and it will never be proved! It has to be proved!"
Mycroft judged that there was nothing to say in response to that little outburst of childish frustration and waited silently, hearing the cogs in Sherlock's brain click and whir as he struggled to find some way to win this argument.
"All right, Mycroft, what will it take?" Ahh, bribery – the last resort of one who knows that he is on the losing side of the debate. "Have you got any tricky jobs you can't figure out? Or something that requires more legwork than you're willing to invest in a minor matter of inconvenience? I'll take it on the minute I'm done with this case."
Mycroft gave an exasperated sigh. "Sherlock, there really isn't…"
"I can tell you which member of the shadow cabinet is sleeping with the Prime Minister's wife."
"Please! As if we're not fully aware of that little matter, it's child's play."
"I can tell you what happened on that press junket between a much-loved TV news anchor and the eighteen year old daughter of a prominent media tycoon."
"That's yesterday's news, Sherlock…"
"How about what happened to those Royal footmen who went missing during their lunch break on New Year's Day?"
"Tracked down to Gretna Green the next day and quietly dismissed. Hardly a puzzle. Really Sherlock, there's nothing we need your particularly unique services for right now."
There was a pause and more cog-whirring. Mycroft checked his watch and the door again – this needed to be wrapped up promptly or people might start to wonder where he had disappeared to, and it just wouldn't do to keep several heads of state waiting.
"I'll do Sunday lunch." Sherlock's voice was now resigned and devoid of it's previous enthusiasm.
A satisfied smile crept up Mycroft's face. The tone was grudgingly mumbled, but he was fairly certain he had heard correctly. Still, it never hurt to drag out a moment like this.
"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that dear brother – what did you say?"
"I said I'll do Sunday lunch, don't pretend you didn't hear me." Mycroft tried, mostly successfully, to hold back a guffaw of laughter. "I'll come along – once. For the shortest time possible. When I'm not on a case."
"Because you're always such winning company when you're grouchier than usual, gasping for cigarettes and twitching like a shell-shocked laboratory rabbit," Mycroft commented dryly, weighing up this offer.
"I'll be nice," Sherlock practically hissed down the phone. "I'll bring Mummy flowers, hold my knife and fork correctly and I won't even tell her how often you ignore your diet. Just get me that access, Mycroft."
He had been badgering Sherlock to see Mummy for months – for some reason she held him responsible for Sherlock not visiting more often. Although Mycroft dutifully visited every Sunday, Mummy still chided him as he stepped through the door for not bringing his brother along as well. She might now be more frail than in her youth, and her sons might be grown, but Mrs Holmes was still more than a match for either of them verbally and emotionally. Mycroft chose to respond with deference and respectful stoicism, Sherlock mostly with absence.
From Mycroft's perspective governments may rise and governments may fall, but the opportunity to drag Sherlock home, get responsible big brother points and watch the fireworks that would result – priceless.
"You've got 24 hours, Sherlock," he spoke grudgingly, but they both knew who had won this round. He allowed himself just a very brief moment of revelry. "Oh, and Sherlock – for your visit home make sure you have a tie to wear for Sunday lunch. You know how Mummy likes people to dress for the table."
"You're the best big brother I could ask for," Sherlock replied in a tone that made it clear just how caustic the words tasted in his mouth, and Mycroft disconnected the call before they could be drawn into a further exchange of insults.
A brief text to his assistant so the security arrangements could be made and Mycroft was in his seat just to one side of the chair of the anti-terrorism panel a mere thirty seconds after the meeting had begun, a residual smile from his brotherly chat still visible as the introductions and coffee were shared and business could now begin.
Author's Note: My first foray into Sherlock fic, because the second series continues to be even more awesome than the first and I just can't resist dabbling.