"Stop squirming, Sherlock," Mycroft scolded his little brother, who kept trying to escape from his grasp when he switched the clippers on.

"Let me go!" Sherlock shouted, flailing his small arms and legs in all directions as best he could, while Mycroft's grip around Sherlock's waist tightened. The elder Holmes brother only had one arm to restrain the angry seven-year-old while he used his other hand to get the clippers going. He'd already scissor-trimmed as best he could, albeit sloppily, and now it was time to buzz what remained of the black curls. He had grown accustomed to using the clippers on himself for the past three years, just for the sake of being neat and looking presentable, but using them on Sherlock was a whole different story.

Sherlock squealed loudly when he found that demanding his release was no use, and an irritated voice from down the hall called out, "Mycroft! I told you, Mummy's got a hangover, so keep that little brat quiet!"

"I'm trying, Mother!" Mycroft called back over the din from his brother.

"Try harder!"

Mycroft set his jaw, but did not reply. Instead, he adjusted his hold on his brother so that his arm was around Sherlock's chest in a way that bound his arms to his sides and said, "You heard what Mummy said, Sherlock; keep quiet!"

"But you're hurting me!" Sherlock insisted, kicking his heels against the floor with more enthusiasm now that his arms were restrained.

"I am not! Now keep still, or else this will hurt!" Mycroft warned, and Sherlock stopped kicking, but kept mumbling protests under his breath.

"I don't wanna have short hair! I like my hair," Sherlock grumbled petulantly.

"But if I cut it, the bullies at school won't be able to pull on it," Mycroft explained for what felt like the thousandth time as he finally began dragging the clippers across Sherlock's head. It truly was heartbreaking, seeing the curls fall to the floor, revealing angry red spots on the smaller boy's scalp from where the hair had been pulled. Sherlock's classmates are all taller than him, and an intimidating group of boys enjoyed picking Sherlock up by his hair and dragging him around the schoolyard to make the other children laugh.

If only Sherlock could learn to keep his mouth shut about the insecurities and weaknesses of his classmates, maybe they would leave him alone. Sherlock may be a brilliant young boy, even compared to the boys twice his age who were in Mycroft's classes, but he had yet to learn the dynamics of social interaction for practical use.

"They only hate me because they're not as smart as I am," Sherlock pouted, kicking the floor to punctuate his statement.

"That's why you need to keep quiet about it, Sherlock. You need to stop saying things that make them angry," Mycroft said, trying to be careful as he drove the clippers across the center of the back of Sherlock's head; Sherlock had taken a particularly painful kick to the back of the head last week, and Mycroft had put emergency bandages on it to close the wound. Sherlock had clearly needed stitches, but Mummy had been out at a party, and by the time she'd returned that night, she was properly drunk and Sherlock had fallen asleep.

"Ow! That hurts!" Sherlock wailed as the clippers buzzed over the partially-healed wound; it had reopened when Sherlock had squirmed, anticipating the contact, and now it was bleeding again. Sherlock screamed in pain while Mycroft sighed and tended to the gash, preparing new bandages that he'd had nearby in the event that he'd need them.

A door banged open and soon the long, ominous shadow of Evangeline Holmes fell across the floor of the boys' bedroom. "I told you to keep him quiet!" She scolded Mycroft, whacking him across the head with a rolled-up magazine.

"It was an accident," Mycroft said quietly.

"I don't care. Make him shut up; it's annoying," Evangeline turned to stumble back into her darkened bedroom, but when Sherlock released a wail as Mycroft applied the bandages, she turned back and shouted, "You're not a baby anymore! Stop crying or I'll send you to school in nappies!" She stomped back into her room and slammed the door behind her. Sherlock hiccuped in pain, swallowing his cries, while Mycroft put on the bandages as gently as he could.

"Mycoff?" Sherlock whispered, his speech garbled from crying.

"Hm?" Mycroft prompted, gently rubbing his brother's back in a soothing motion, finishing off the hair that was left on the top of Sherlock's head.

"Mummy doesn't mean it, does she?" Sherlock turned to face his brother when the clippers were shut off, and his blue eyes that looked too large for his small face were wet and timid. He may have lost much of his innocence, but Mycroft could see there was still a good bit of a child left there still.

"Of course not," Mycroft assured his brother, squeezing his arm gently. "She never takes you to school, remember? I always do."

"Would you do that? If she told you to?"

"No, I wouldn't."

"I didn't think so. Mummy doesn't love me, but you do." Sherlock tentatively felt around on the top of his newly-shaved head, feeling the half-inch fuzz that covered his sensitive scalp. "Will the bullies leave me alone now?"

Mycroft hesitated before answering, but eventually said, "I think they will if you stop showing them how smart you are."

"Why?"

"Because, to them, smart things sound the same as mean things."

"Why?"

"I think you know why, Sherlock," Mycroft said with a small smile as he stood up to fetch the dustpan and brush to clean up the hair.

"Because they're stupid?"

"Yes," Mycroft replied, smiling down at his younger brother, "but you can never tell them that." The elder Holmes brother went to fetch the dustpan then, but Sherlock asked him another question before he'd left the room.

"Do you think smart things are mean?"

"Of course not!" Mycroft exclaimed, "I think smart things are great!"

"Really?" Sherlock asked, a timid hint of a smile pulling at the corners of his small mouth.

Mycroft nodded and said, "I have to clean up this mess before Mummy sees it, but when I'm done, you can tell me all the smart things you learned today at school." Sherlock beamed then, and sat on the floor, squirming impatiently for his brother to return.