I've been hit by the Bondlock bug, just like so many others. This has been beta'ed by the wonderful wordonawing, and has also been posted on AO3. Enjoy.
"So. Blow up anything recently?"
Q sniffs disdainfully over the rim of his teacup. "Of course not, that's the agents' job. I'm the one who has to put it all back together."
"Ah, my mistake. I meant to ask Sherlock."
"Getting short sighted in your old age, Mycroft?" There is a rustle as Sherlock turns the page of his newspaper. "Can't even tell your own brothers apart."
Mycroft sneers. He is sitting in an armchair in a private apartment in Islington, rented out for a short time for the annual "get-together" (his mind curls quotation marks around the word even as he thinks it – he does so detest colloquialisms). They never miss it, not even for international incidents, which are more common than you might think; a side effect of the respective occupations of the three men currently sitting decidedly not-talking to each other
He looks over at his brothers, who are lounging in armchairs across from him. Well, Sherlock is lounging, stretched out like a cat, eyes serious as he scans the newspaper in his ink-stained fingers. Q, on the other hand, appears to be attempting to look confident and at ease in his chair, but not quite succeeding. Anyone else would believe the illusion, but Mycroft has known Q since the latter was born - he can tell when he's hiding something. His brother is just a little too proper, too stiff; his hands are clasped tightly in his lap, and every few minutes he pushes his glasses up his nose, a nervous habit Mycroft recognises from their childhood.
He takes a moment to study both Q and Sherlock. The thick black hair is the same, but there the physical resemblance slows down, stops, and flees back the
way it came.
For a start, though their body shapes are quite similar (they're both too skinny, Mycroft notes disapprovingly - muscular physiques have an unfortunate habit of running in families), Sherlock is at least four inches taller than his slighter brother. Q stands - or rather sits, hunched over his laptop, which appears to be his default position - noticeably shorter than his brothers, his curly head just brushing Mycroft's shoulder, and as such is always forced (much to his annoyance) to look up at them. His small stature also has the disarming effect of leading potential enemies to dismiss him as worthless, which is of course a rather foolish deduction to make. Mycroft is reluctant to praise either of his brothers, knowing as he does how big their egos are already, but Q is probably one of the most dangerous individuals in Britain, perhaps the world. Another two, of course, share the teapot resting on a rather hideously patterned tray in front of them, not to mention a good chunk of his DNA.
Sherlock, on the other hand, makes more of an intimidating impression, what with his ridiculous habit of sticking up the collar of his coat in a pathetic attempt to look enigmatic. The lines of his face are sharper and more angled than Q's, and his eyes are chips of cold green glass, whereas his brother's are darker, softer, friendlier.
Ugh. Friendliness. Not overly demonstrative, mind you, but Q is still...more approachable than the rest of his family. Perhaps warmth would be a better word. A useless character trait, but one that Q insists on maintaining, despite several lectures from both Mycroft and Sherlock throughout his young life.
Their mannerisms are mostly different as well. Sherlock's gaze is always moving, darting around the room, not stopping to rest for more than a millisecond, taking everything in. Q's is intense (perhaps unexpectedly so, given his habit of dressing like an old man and looking like a twelve year old, which might be the exact reason for dressing like an old man, now that Mycroft thinks about it), cutting and bold like the lasers he likes to manufacture. Even as a child he always enjoyed dangerous things. Mycroft blames Sherlock.
"Tell you apart? At least I make some attempt to keep in contact, Sherlock. You obviously have no use for petty things like brothers, what with the fact that I have to go through other channels in order to talk to you."
His youngest brother smirks. "Yes, I heard about that. The famous army doctor… John was it?"
"Oh, I have use for brothers, but that doesn't mean I want to talk to them. And Q, shut up. Don't make out that you're any better, Mummy's told us all about this James."
It is meant as a joke, a crack at one of the agents Q finds so tiresome (or says he does), so the reaction is completely unexpected.
Q ducks his head slightly, staring at his shoes, and a faint tinge of pink blooms across his cheeks.
In an instant, Sherlock has dropped his paper and grabbed hold of Q's wrist, staring searchingly into his eyes. Q squirms and wriggles his way out of his brother's grasp, but not before Sherlock has found what he is looking for.
"Elevated heartbeat, dilated pupils, and… are you blushing?!" Sherlock stares incredulously. Q scowls, looking for all the world like a petulant child. Which, Mycroft supposes, he is.
"No. I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You were blushing, I saw you!"
"You were! What – who is this James?! Do you like him?" The way Sherlock says the word 'like', with a slightly horrified expression on his face and a curl of the lip, vaguely reminds Mycroft of the way children say it. It's to be expected, with Sherlock's experience in, ahem, that area.
"I. Wasn't. Blushing." Q still has not looked up, and is instead glaring into his tea. His expression is so fierce that Mycroft reckons it is best to interfere, before his youngest brother starts to make weaponry out of the upholstery (always a valid concern around Q).
"I'm sure you weren't, Q. Sherlock." His brother turns to him, disbelieving. Mycroft motions him to be silent, and Sherlock sits back, appeased. He understands. They will meet later to discuss this new development, and do some research into this 'James'. They do not like others interacting too closely with their little brother, especially MI6 agents, and Q's reaction suggests something a little more than friendship, on his end at least. The situation is serious.
There is silence while Q composes himself and Sherlock broods in a corner. Mycroft sighs. He's been trying to avoid this.
"Please, you two. You are acting like children."
Sherlock opens his mouth, no doubt to say something about Q starting it, but Mycroft shoots him a look. He rarely has any control over his brothers, but Sherlock knows when not to push. Well, not really, but he is busy thinking up interesting methods of torture for unsuspecting secret agents. Mycroft approves.
This will probably be part of a series, with separate stories. I'm not quite sure yet.