Wow. So, as I figured out from your comments, I DID see Season 2. Or at least one episode, from what I can tell. I'm THAT out of touch, forgetting which episodes were where and what season they're on now. Yikes. I'll get on that.
Here! Have a chapter :) And if you feel that I'm not writing as well or the same way or in the same voices as I was before, let me know! It's been a long time and it's hard to judge your own work for consistency, right? Thanks!
We went to visit the neighbour this afternoon, just as I promised, though Sherlock made it sound like he'd been waiting an age for me to stop messing about with trivial things like having a life or a job before I'd deign to allow him to sweep in and solve the murder of the century. Impatient git. He and Hadrian were oddly...hyper, that's the only word for it, really- when I got back. God, I hope he doesn't think children drink coffee.
Note to self: check what Sherlock thinks children drink besides milk.
Anyway, the neighbour was just a dotty old lady who spies on everyone through her curtains. Not much help, really, though apparently it didn't matter because Sherlock spotted something he hadn't noticed last time we went to the house (shock and awe, I know) and solved the case in about ninety seconds of spinning around and waving his hands through the rooms of his Mind Palace. Still won't tell me what it's about, though. Git.
'You've called me a 'git' twice in that entry. Really, for a veteran soldier you have a noticeably small range of insults and swearing.'
John paused, thought about cracking his knuckles to release the sudden tension, and thought better of it. 'Excuse me?' he asked mildly, glancing up from his laptop.
Sherlock sat on the sofa with Hadrian, watching John with one eye and Hadrian's puzzle construction with the other. 'You got out your laptop with sense of purpose; something you needed to do. We just came back from the case, so, updating your blog. You kept flicking your eyes at me- probably didn't even notice you were doing it- and I'm not doing anything unusual or conspicuous, therefore you were writing about me, clearly. And not anything flattering, judging by the frown lines on your forehead. When you insult me whilst typing you stab the keys a little like you're imagining snapping the words out loud. Twice in the last two minutes, a three-letter insult directed at me. How many common three-letter insults are there that you've shown yourself willing to use? You're not one for Americanisms, so. Git. A rather dull and uninspired choice when you must've come across so many creative and unusual epithets in the barracks,' he finished in a musing tone, eyes already gone distant as he turned inward to think. 'Most of your readers are losing their natural sympathy towards you as you become more like Doctor John Watson of 221B Baker Street and less like Captain Watson of the RAMC. You'll get more of an emotional response if you play up your ex-military status now and then.'
John stared. 'You- just- Sherlock, no. That's really clever, that was brilliant, but you shouldn't be deducing how best I can insult you.'
His ridiculous genius obviously wasn't listening. 'I think I rather fancy 'His Airship,'' he murmured as his eyes slid shut. 'Close enough to the meaning you intended.'
John sighed and shifted his laptop to his seat as he stood. 'No one's said that since the forties, and even if that weren't true I'm not calling you 'His Airship'. It just makes you sound dashing and rebellious. Hadrian, d'you want to keep working on your puzzle or come help me with dinner? Biggles there is off in his own little world.'
'Can still hear you, John, even in the Mind Palace.'
'Actually, why don't you just come help with dinner. He might rub off on you through osmosis. How do you feel about jacket potatoes?'
Hadrian's eyes went huge and John chuckled, realising the boy was probably envisioning something along the lines of boiled potatoes wearing Sherlock's coat.
'Lovely. Would you like to rip up pieces of lettuce for the salad?' he asked, holding out a hand.
Hadrian took it and hopped off the sofa, willingly abandoning the puzzle on the coffee table now that Sherlock was busy and John was leaving the room. 'Okay.'
'So how is dear Mycroft?'
John choked slightly on a mouthful of his potato at the unexpected question, then tried to cover- rather pointlessly, he knew, when it came to Sherlock, but still. Principles. 'Mycroft? How should I know? You're the one he texts, not me. I just get thrown in the back of a car when he wants to talk.'
'And yet you're the one who took tea with him today,' Sherlock pointed out, a faintly predatory smirk narrowing his eyes. 'Here, Hadrian, have some more milk.'
'Thank you,' Hadrian recited politely to Sherlock's obvious approval, and took a deep drink from his refilled glass.
'You're welcome. Did he at least send you home with anything?'
'Er- yeah, he sent some biscuits he said you like,' John replied rather automatically, still feeling a bit shocked. 'How did you know?'
Sherlock sighed loudly. 'John, you may use more of your brain than most of the idiots out there but you will never successfully keep a secret from me. Your behaviour this morning was utterly transparent and your trousers, though you obviously cleaned your shoes, still have traces of mud from Mycroft's favourite place in the city to watch the ducks.' His eyes went distant again. 'He does so love to watch the ducks.'
'Yes, he...mentioned something like that,' John said, momentarily unable to decide whether or not he should feel a little disturbed before mentally chalking it up to just another Holmes thing. 'I just wanted to tell him a little more about Hadrian. It was only fair, after the way I sprang it on him in the street.'
Sherlock rolled his eyes. 'I'm sure he knew nearly as much as I did by the time we got him in the front door.'
John frowned and toyed with his fork. 'He knew something,' he told Sherlock seriously. 'I mean, he seemed genuinely concerned about the situation.'
'Concerned?' Sherlock asked sharply. 'What kind of concerned? What was his voice like? What were his eyes doing? How many biscuits did he eat?'
'I don't- I wasn't- I don't know, Sherlock,' John said irritably. 'I don't know the different tones of your brother's voice. He didn't seem upset, or frightened or anything. Just...concerned. And like he knew a lot more about Hadrian, or his situation, maybe, than we do.'
Both John and Sherlock glanced over at the boy. He was ignoring them for the most part, or at least appeared to be- John didn't believe for a moment that any child, even an abused one- or perhaps, especially an abused one- would simply ignore a conversation featuring their own name. He supposed Harry had learnt to keep his head down, though. The boy was scooping peas onto his fork with his fingers and looking intrestedly back at his puzzle instead of the two adults arguing over his head.
Sherlock sighed suddenly. 'Here, Hadrian. Don't put your fingers into your food; you get the peas up like this.'
When Hadrian started yawning and nodding over his puzzle, John took him to the loo and watched him brush and floss his teeth before handing him over to Sherlock. Hadrian had never seen floss before their first morning together, but John made it very clear that dental hygiene would be of top priority in their house. Sherlock, for once, didn't argue. John privately thought teeth cleaning and flossing must appeal to the genius' OCD.
Sherlock took Hadrian into his room and shut the door. John was tempted to creep over and try to listen through the door, but he didn't think he could ever sneak up on Sherlock- even distracted, the man had ears like a bat. So he went back through to the kitchen and made them both a cup of tea, set Sherlock's in front of his chair, settled down in his own, and waited.
When Sherlock emerged John noticed that his mouth was a little softer than the usual pressed thin line, and his eyebrows weren't quite so drawn together. He hid his smile behind his cup. He should have expected it, really. Sherlock was perfectly predictable in someways and the exact opposite of expectations in others, and John would never have expected the ruthless detective to have a paternal side.
'Whatever you're thinking, don't,' Sherlock snapped, and threw himself into his chair with what John considered to be a rather overdone version of his usual glare. 'You've made tea. I suppose you want to talk about Mycroft.'
'Mm,' John nodded. He leaned back, resting his tea in both hands against his chest. 'What do you suppose he knows? Or how could he know about it? If Hadrian really is being targeted by some sort of terrorist or paramilitary group, I can't see the government letting him go around unguarded and unsupervised.'
'Unless he's being targeted by a group the government doesn't know of, or doesn't want the country to know of,' Sherlock murmured. He was hunched forward in his chair with his tea clutched in front of him, his elbows out, and his sharply angled shoulderblades rising from his back. The whole effect was like some badly moulted bird, John thought. But that was probably because he was used to him. Anyone else might be intimidated.
'I find it difficult to believe that there's anything in the world Mycroft doesn't know about,' John pointed out. Sherlock rolled his eyes, but John chose to ignore him. 'And I don't know what kind of a threat the government wouldn't want everyone to know about. They might play things down, kill rumours of imminent attacks to prevent panic and hysteria, that sort of thing, but I don't see how they could expect to suppress all knowledge of a certain group. Or why they'd want to.'
John watched Sherlock for a long moment, the pale grey eyes flicking from side to side as the detective filed through options and histories and conversations and whatever else littered his mind palace just now. He took a sip of his tea and settled back more comfortably, prepared to wait it out for a possible answer. A tiny corner of his mind told him he was getting lazy, waiting on Sherlock to solve all the problems. He ignored that, too.
Suddenly Sherlock inhaled a quick, sharp breath. John looked up. 'Any ideas?'
Sherlock looked utterly bewildered. 'He lied to me,' he said.
'What? Who lied to you? About what?'
The confusion quickly twisted down into utter rage. 'Mycroft,' Sherlock snarled in an ugly hiss. 'When I wanted a conjurer for my birthday party. He told me there was no such thing as magic. He was already in the door of a government position, he would have known everything; he always knew everything. He handed me a chocolate biscuit as he said it so I would be looking at his hands instead of his face. And he lied.'
'Er, Sherlock,' John said hesitantly. 'I'm really sorry Mycroft ruined your birthday, but-'
'Don't you see, John?' Sherlock snapped, hands clenched around the arms of his chair as he leaned forward far enough to almost fall out of it. 'Magic exists, people with magic exist, and the government knows it.'