Disclaimer: I am not in possession of… well, anything really. But especially not Sherlock.
A/N: Hey everybody! This story was written for the Every Picture Tells A Story Super Challenge hosted by Random Fandom dot Net. It didn't win, but thanks, anybody who voted for it. I had a ton of fun writing this.
Information about the story is as follows:
Prompt #: 30 and 32
Title: Little Brothers and Other Awkward Conversation Topics
Characters: Harry Watson and Mycroft Holmes, with John Watson and Sherlock Holmes as background
Word Count: 2,379
Pen Name: Indigo-Night-Wisp
Beta: Ana M.
Summary: Harry Watson and Mycroft Holmes have a few things in common. Mainly, they both like to spy on their little brothers.
London, Harry Watson decided, was really a very dreary place. Honestly, what with all the fog and the rain and the smoke from the bloody taxis, it was surprising anyone would want to live here.
She peered out from under her umbrella, blinked as a few droplets of rain hit her nose, and then pulled back under the black dome with a slight grumble of discontent.
This was all John's fault really, if she thought about it. If it weren't for him and his… stupid decision to move into a flat on bloody Baker Street with a complete stranger, then Harry wouldn't be standing here, huddled under an umbrella, in a miniskirt, spying on the little corner shop instead of going in and having a cuppa.
He was in there now with his flatmate –Shirley? Sherman? Something like that- and they were laughing about something. Harry's mouth twisted a little. She was glad, she supposed, that John was laughing again. Afghanistan had been so horrific, she'd been afraid he'd never smile again, even after he got home for good. He seemed to have loosened up a little since moving in with – last name was Holls, Home, Holmes, something – and getting a proper job again. He'd even been joking around last time they'd had a chat on the phone.
So really, Harry said to herself, I'm glad.
"It is good to see them enjoying themselves, isn't it?" said a man standing next to her.
Harry started. "What-"
"Oh, dear, my apologies; we haven't been introduced." He turned to her and beamed, switching his folded umbrella to his left hand in order to shake hers with his right. "Mycroft. Mycroft Holmes."
Realizing that it had stopped raining so hard, Harry folded her own umbrella and hastily took the man's hand. "Harry, well, Harriet really. Harriet Watson." She stared at him. He was carrying an umbrella, like her, but he was wearing a hat and what looked like a cloak of some kind, reminiscent of the Victorian era.
"Yes, I know." He seemed amused. Curiously, she almost asked him how he knew, but before she could do more than open her mouth, he gestured with his umbrella.
"They make quite an interesting pair, do they not?"
It took her a moment to realize that he was talking about John and his friend. "What? Oh, well, yes, I suppose they do." Why am I talking about this with you?
"Rather an extreme case of opposites attracting, wouldn't you say?" he mused, fixing her with a piercing gaze.
For a moment, she felt flustered, but she regained her cool quickly and said, raising an eyebrow. "Rather. One tall, dark, and obnoxious, the other short, fair, and… well, honestly, that one's a little obnoxious too."
"Really." He raised an eyebrow of his own. "And how is it that you know that?"
She grinned. "The short one is my little brother."
Mycroft Holmes gave her a smug smile. "Yes, I know."
Now she was getting rather irritated. "Yes, and how is that, exactly?"
He spread his hands innocently, the black umbrella hanging from one. "Why, my dear, I thought it obvious. It just so happens that the tall one is my little brother."
Her mouth dropped open.
"Whatever. You're his brother?"
"Wow. What a coincidence. Us being here at the same time."
"Erm, yes. Quite a coincidence, that."
"Are you spying on them?"
"Excuse me? What is it you think you're doing, exactly?"
"Well, that's different, I'm-"
"A woman? Please, that means nothing."
"No! I was about to say concerned."
"Concerned? Whatever for?"
"Your brother has been getting John into an awful lot of scrapes lately."
"Nonsense! Doctor Watson is perfectly capable of turning down Sherlock's offers to accompany him on his… adventures."
"Ha! As if he would. John likes adventure far too much to do something so sensible as to turn it down."
"Well, that's hardly Sherlock's fault, is it now?"
"I suppose not."
"Let's shake hands and put it behind us."
How exactly she and Mycroft Holmes (and honestly, Mycroft? Who the whatsit names their child Mycroft?) ended up in a corner booth of the same restaurant where Sherlock and John were having lunch, she really didn't know.
She suspected that it had something to do with alien abduction though. Really, that was the only logical explanation for why she'd gone completely mad and decided to actually spy on her little brother and his friend –whilst being accompanied by the older brother of said friend, who was, she'd been told, under no circumstances allowed to be seen by Sherlock.
Clearly, the entire Holmes family was a bit nutters.
"You mean you actually use CCTV cameras to keep tabs on them?"
"Sometimes," Mycroft said, completely unashamed and unruffled by her outrage, "it is necessary to use extreme measures."
"Using government security cameras to track two young men around London, though? Isn't that the sort of thing you get into trouble with the government over?"
He gave a wolfish grin. "I don't get into trouble with the government, Ms. Watson."
She pursed her lips. She believed him.
John was looking in their direction again. If she didn't know better, she'd think his time in Afghanistan had done something a little beyond the PTSD. Given him… Spidey-senses or something like that. Either that, or living with Sherlock was making him incredibly paranoid.
She'd lay odds on the second one.
John said something to his friend and the other man laughed. Mycroft started a bit. Harry smirked.
"What? Not a sound you're used to?"
"Not at all," he murmured, staring at the two younger men with something akin to entrancement in his eyes. She shifted, a bit uncomfortable. Mycroft snapped his gaze back to her suddenly.
"I apologize," he said, smiling in a self-deprecating fashion. "I too am uncomfortable. I don't often… share such things with others. I'm a very private man."
She gave him a sympathetic smile. "It's alright. I-I'm not exactly used to seeing John so happy either."
He cocked his head. "Ah, yes. You two don't get along well, do you? What with your drinking, and his PTSD-"
"Hey, hold on there!" she exclaimed, angrily. "How did you-"
He cut her off with a sharp hand motion. "Quite easily, I assure you. Even if I hadn't already looked into your background, I would have been able to deduce it from the color of your sclera, the way your hands shake, and the fact that you very conscientiously avoided ordering an alcoholic beverage when we sat down."
Her mouth dropped open, not sure whether to be astonished or furious. She decided on a combination of both.
"What the- how dare- how in halibut did you-"
Mycroft Holmes merely smiled at her in tolerant amusement before putting her out of her misery.
"It's simple observation, Ms. Watson. I see all of these things and draw conclusions based on what I see. Due to my knowledge of the symptoms of alcoholism, I am able to make an informed statement about your drinking problem. However, I also know, by way of the last fact I shared with you, that you are trying to quit. For your brother's sake."
She blinked. "How could you possibly know that?"
His look was kinder now. "That was simply a guess. But a correct one?"
She nodded absently. "Yes, I'm-" she paused. Wait, just a second here…
"You did a background check on me?"
He looked surprised. "Of course! As the sister of the man with whom my brother was to be sharing a home, I had to be informed about you."
Harry growled, lightly. "Of all the… as if I would ever hurt your precious baby brother!"
Mycroft raised a hand in an attempt to pacify her. "Both you and your brother needed to be investigated! Sherlock… Sherlock is a rather sensitive subject for me –as you may be able to tell."
Calming slightly, she scowled at him. "I still don't like it."
Waving a hand at this statement, he said casually, "Yes, well, rest assured, everything checked out just fine, and there was no need for more… intrusive measures."
"Intrusive… never mind, I don't want to know."
"No," he said, with a great deal of satisfaction, "you don't."
"I like your umbrella."
She was, Harry was delighted to discover, beginning to get the hang of this conversation. After all, when it came down to the nub, Mycroft was simply an older sibling who hadn't quite managed to grasp the concept of his little brother growing up.
She could relate.
"D'you think they know we're here?" she asked him distractedly, toying with the piece of cake on her plate, giving it a mildly distrustful look as she did so. Mycroft looked up from his own plate of the desert and said calmly, "Most likely."
She blinked. "Well, you're being very cool about the occurrence of an event you were rather anxious to prevent a few minutes ago. I thought you said, 'Under no circumstances can Sherlock be allowed to see me.'"
He gave her a baleful look. "First, my voice does not sound like that. Second, Sherlock does not have to see me to know I am here."
Harry squinted. "I'm confused."
He sighed, dramatically. "Sherlock's powers of observation rival mine. Why do you think he gets into such trouble? He's far too intelligent for his own good."
"Or John's," she muttered for principle's sake. He rolled his eyes.
"Yes, well, John is fine now, isn't he? Anyway, Sherlock has probably been aware of our presence for, oh, probably the past twenty minutes. And, since Sherlock has an insatiable need to show-off, I'm sure he's informed John of our position already."
She stared at him. "Twenty minutes."
"We've only been sitting here for fifteen."
The smile he gave her was smug.
Harry banged her head on the table.
"This," Mycroft mused some time later, as John and Sherlock finally finished lunch and ordered tea and coffee, respectively, "is remarkably good cake."
Harry cocked her head slightly, and then took a bite of said confection. Her eyes widened in surprise.
"It is good!"
He chuckled. "So surprised."
"Oh, hush," she waved a hand. "It's hard to find good sandwich shop cake. Most of it tastes like someone left it too close to the stove while the sauces were boiling." She ate another bite.
With a smirk, he finished his slice and sat back, eyes flicking over to where John and Sherlock were beginning to call for the check.
"Well, it appears as though our young charges have satisfied their hunger," he said, sounding unbearably pompous for an instant. Harry blinked up at him, quickly swallowed her cake, and prepared to stand.
"No, no," he said, gently waving her back to her seat. "Stay where you are. No need to make ourselves even more obvious than we already are."
She sat down, reluctantly. John and his friend paid the check, gathered coats and a long blue scarf and headed for the door. She fidgeted impatiently, glancing at Mycroft. When at last he nodded, she stood up and he called for the check.
Edgily, she waited for him to finish paying. She wanted to know in which direction the pair was going. If they were going back to Baker Street, she'd just go home. Standing on their doorstep feeling stupid wasn't going to keep John safe.
Besides, they were probably already under pretty tight surveillance at home.
Mycroft offered his arm to her as they left the restaurant. She hesitated for only a second before taking it. He escorted her to the end of the sidewalk, and they arrived just in time to see Sherlock and John disappear into a taxi. The automobile made a right turn.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Baker Street. She and Mycroft stopped by a row of waiting taxis.
"Well, Ms. Watson," her companion said, sounding amused. "It appears our little conspiracy is at an end."
She glared at him. "Oh, please. We both know you have their flat wired with cameras and, and, and, whatsits. Bugs."
He was utterly unrepentant. "Yes," he said, soundly just a little bit gleeful.
Shaking her head, she nonetheless offered him her hand. "Thank you, Mycroft Holmes," she said softly. "I-I'm rather glad, I think, that you're watching out for them."
He looked a bit taken aback at her expression of gratitude, but recovered his composure, taking her hand and bowing over it demurely, like the Victorian gentleman he was dressed as.
"It was a pleasure to meet you," he said quietly. She smiled at him.
"We shall have to do it again some time."
He laughed, surprised. "Yes, I suppose we shall. I'll have my secretary give you a ring."
"You already know the number, of course."
Grinning, she said, "Alright then. Off with you, now. Fade away into the fog and all that."
Opening his umbrella for no reason at all – it had long since stopped even so much as drizzling – he looked down his nose at her, his expression scathing.
"Why," he asked disdainfully, "would I ever do that?"
She opened her mouth to reply, but he was turning on his heel and striding away, slipping into a deserted alleyway. A car pulled up at the other end, and one black door opened. Mycroft Holmes minced his way down the mew and stepped daintily into the waiting car, expertly closing his umbrella as he did so. The door closed, and the car slowly drove away.
Harry realized the longsuffering cabbie was waiting for her reply.
"Oh, yes, so sorry. Um-"
"It's alright, miss. I know where to go."
He turned around and gave her a smile. "Your gent there gave me the address already."
Of all the… shaking her head, Harry sighed and simply climbed into the taxi. Mycroft Holmes probably did things like this all the time. She wouldn't be surprised actually if he had the London cab companies on speed dial. Sherlock probably never had to wait for a taxi. She settled back into the cab's comfortable seats.
A/N: Yes, this story is now posted in two places, here and on randomfandomdotnet's profile. Just so you know.