For some members of the Holmes family it is their first session. For others...not so much!
Warnings: This fic does contain all versions of child abuse - a few flashbacks and conversations though never anything overly graphic. Do note the warnings on the start of each chapter, please.
While searching for a series title, I came across a quote that was perfect for this verse, though sadly not title material:
"one does not love one's children just
because they are one's children but because of the friendship formed while
Found in 'Love in the time of Cholera' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
For skeptic7 and youji's suggestions. I was going to wait a little longer to post this but as it's not a "story" so much as snapshots and as I stumbled across a lovely rec by missilemuse for "No Intentions" I couldn't resist!
Thank you to NicolettelliW for betaing this chapter and for adding some thoughts :)
Bella Holmes was a beautiful woman. She had elegance and grace that gave her features a wonderful serenity. It also helped that she had the classical features and colouring shown in renaissance paintings and was rich enough to pick clothes that matched her style.
The wistful expression on her face only added to the fact that she looked like something from Byron's works.
A long, slim fingered hand reached for the water glass, her well maintained jewellery catching the light.
"Sherlock," she said, taking a neat sip, "got the daughter of my husband's business associate pregnant when they were sixteen."
She didn't sound horrified or ashamed, more…regretful.
"And how did you react?" Abigail asked.
A careful sip this time, as if to gauge her own reaction. "We weren't happy. They'd snuck off during a party and Sherlock was utterly unrepentant about it."
"And the pregnancy itself?"
Bella blinked a little in surprise. "Oh…a grandchild," she said, sadly and shook her head. "It wasn't to be."
"The children were too young, the Watson's didn't want to have Anna's life upset…she had an abortion."
"You didn't agree?"
"It didn't matter," Bella stared at her water. "It was what was best for them."
"And your son? How did he feel?"
Bella shook her head, eyes wet. "I…I'm not even sure if he cared."
Abigail studied her patient carefully. "Yet you brought it up when we were talking about his drug situation? The overdose. You must think it relevant."
Bella smiled a little, looking sad. "I don't…" she sighed and looked up. "It's a terrible thing as a parent, to not know whether your son is trying to kill himself with substance abuse because he feels disconnected and doesn't care or whether it's because…" she paused again, battling with herself.
"Because?" Abigail prompted.
"Because he cares too much." A tear spilled over.
It had been nearly six years since Abigail had last seen Bella. The woman had seemed, at some point to accept that she couldn't control Sherlock's actions, nor force him to talk to her. And, without Sherlock willing to come to therapy sessions, there hadn't been too much more she could do.
"Bella," Abigail smiled at her. "What can I do for you?"
John had something of his grandmother lurking in his colouring.
He was, as most young boys were, the furthest thing from elegance that could be imagined. Instead he sat awkwardly on the chair, looking around at the walls suspiciously while he scuffed his worn trainers back and forth, shifting the fringe of the rug with every move.
Abigail had never met the rest of the Holmes family. Bella's husband Lucian had been a victim of abuse from his father and their eldest son, Mycroft, even more so. And while Bella claimed both had seen someone about it when Mycroft's situation had first come to light, neither particularly felt comfortable with the idea.
Sherlock Holmes simply had no interest in any of it.
It would be interesting to see if any of them men in the Holmes family would change their mind. The look on John's face suggested he had probably overheard some of their opinions about the relevance of a therapist.
"Would you like a drink?" she asked, hoping to soothe him.
John shook his head, then seemed to reconsider the idea.
"What kind of tea do you have?" he asked innocently.
"Have you ever played a word association game?" she asked John as he came in.
John shook his head warily.
"I will say a word and you say the first thing that pops into your head. So if I said cheese you would say?"
"Smelly?"" John asked, not sounding sure of his answer.
She kept going. "Church?"
"Sitting down." John sounded a little more comfortable now.
"Danger," he replied with a grin.
Patient enjoys the idea of danger, likely conditioned to do so from a young age as a coping mechanism.
Patient sees laws as a set of rules that can and often are bent. No glee present in voice would suggest that it is a practicality.
"Talks," John gave her a challenging look this time, even as he shifted.
Patient is aware, keenly so, of the power that money can have. His attitude would suggest that he resents those that wield it and the idea of having it makes him uncomfortable. More needed to determine exactly why that is.
Patient has an unusual relationship with mother. Likely has grown up too fast due to circumstance and though has positive feelings towards mother, they are not the sort of feelings typically associated with a parent.
Patient's response suggests bonding with new family. More information required. Once again, would be useful to have family in sessions on occasion.
"Sherlock." The answer was absolute.
"You were physically abused by your grandfather?" Abigail said slowly. "And John is aware of this?"
Mycroft Holmes sat in the armchair, a practised ease in every line of his body. She'd seen his eyes dart around the room, as of checking it for who-knew-what. Bella had mentioned that he worked for the government now, so his wariness could be a mixture of many things.
Still, an unusual man; there weren't many who would choose to turn behaviour learned from abuse into a full time career that would make the most balanced and settled person falter.
"You told him?"
"Mr Holmes," Abigail chose her words very carefully. "There is little point in you putting yourself through this if you do not intend to do it properly."
Mycroft's face barely changed. "Then I suggest you learn to ask better questions."
Abigail had spent most of the afternoon working out different types of questions for Mycroft to test which ones he answered best.
"Why did you tell him?"
He actually glanced at the ceiling, though whether in annoyance at the question or because she'd taken his advice, she wasn't sure. "Because he was afraid that he was causing our arguments. I wished to demonstrate that sometimes arguments are necessary."
"Were they necessary when your parents discovered your abuse?"
Cool eyes met hers in a steely glare. "Ms Mcnair, I have had a therapist, far more qualified than you, talk at me about these issues. I was under the impression that I was here for John."
"You are," she said evenly, and then waited.
Unfortunately, Mycroft just smiled politely and happily sipped his tea for the rest of the session.
"What do you think of your Uncle?"
John shrugged. "He's okay," he mumbled.
"Do you like him?"
There was a small hesitation as John considered that question, and then nodded again.
"Have you ever told John you love him?"
Sherlock Holmes texted.
"Busy," Sherlock muttered.
"Mr Holmes, why are you here?"
"Because you are marginally less annoying than my mother," Sherlock replied absently.
"What do you think of your father?"
John tilted his head to the side. "He's…tall," he said eventually.
John shrugged. "Can't really explain him, can you?"
With a far more dramatic eye roll than the one his Uncle used, John slumped in his seat. "He…he's brilliant. Really clever, observant. He's like a walking dictionary. And he's important and brave. He runs really fast and sometimes people can't catch up to him."
"What about at home?"
John shifted. "We do experiments," he said shyly. "And he lets me help on cases sometimes. And he makes me get the dictionary out to look up the words he says." John relaxed a little. "And last night, I was watching a DVD and he came and watched it with me. Chatted shit all the way through it," he muttered, looking as upset as a young boy should at the idea. "Then put me to bed as if I were a little kid," he added, trying to look affronted by the idea and instead looking pleased.
"How would you describe your father?"
"Boring," Sherlock replied.
"No, the question. It's dull."
"How would you describe your father?"
Mycroft Holmes sat back looking peeved. "I fail to see the relevance. I am not John's father and I do not have an Uncle."
"Do you wish you were his father?"
"No," the answer was utterly firm and truthful.
"Why? You seem to get along with him well; you appear to care a great deal for the child. It would be natural for you to want such a thing."
"Would it?" Mycroft asked lightly. "How interesting."
"How would you describe your father?"
Lucian Holmes was not quite what she had expected. She wasn't sure why; she could see his features in his sons, he looked like he fit when standing next to Bella and was tall, handsome and distinguished.
And, in what was shaping up to be a typical Holmes response, he sighed in disdain.
Surprised, she blinked at him, while he watched her calmly.
Lucian appeared to be thinking deeply about that. "Because he enjoyed it. He loved the power of bending another to his will."
"Do you ever see anything of himself in you?"
Lucian shook his head. "I see the weaknesses he persuaded me to see. And the scars but…" Lucian shook his head. "We are very different people. What he did was in cold blood, what I do is in temper. Frustration."
"Have you ever wished you were more like him?"
"I suppose at some point when I was a child I probably did," Lucian considered it. "I wish I had more of his control. My greatest weakness has always been my temper."
"Do you blame him for that?"
"No," Lucian shook his head. "May I ask, why are you questioning this? I can assure you that I discussed this issue at length and did so for years."
"Yet you did not come with your wife when your youngest first overdosed?"
Lucian looked at the window and for a while all she could hear was the wind outside.
"You're controlling your reactions."
"Yes." Lucian turned back to her. "It has been a while since I have bothered." He took a deep breath, "I suppose, honestly, because I was afraid. It seemed easier to accept that there was nothing that could be done for him instead of…hoping."
"My son and I have never seen eye to eye, not since he was a small child. I made some…error. I've never been entirely sure what it was, but…I hoped that we would have a better relationship as he grew. My relationship with Mycroft improved once we discovered my father's…" Lucian cleared his throat, steeled himself and let out a breath, "abuse. It fell apart again when Sherlock was in his late teens, after we believed Anna had aborted John. Hope…hope has been a dangerous thing to have with Sherlock."
"You've never asked him?"
Lucian shot her an amused look. "Tell me, exactly how far have you managed to get with him?"
"I'm not at liberty to-"
"Has he put his phone down or answered a question properly once?"
"No," Abigail confessed.
"And you're a trained professional."
"How did you feel when you discovered John was alive?"
Sherlock's fingers paused momentarily. "At that exact moment?"
"Yes." A breakthrough?
"Confused," Sherlock dipped his head back down. "I'm still not entirely sure why Anna killed Frank Burton."
"I didn't know him."
"Do you regret that you didn't see him grow up?"
He fingers stopped and slowly, ever so slowly, Sherlock raised his head and studied her. Then, as if unsure, dropped his gaze.
"You shouldn't wear those shoes unless you want your colleague to know you're having an affair with her brother."
"Why don't both of you come in?"
Sherlock threw her a filthy look as John blinked in horror and shook his head.
"May I ask why not?"
"She's doing that thing with the questions," John said to his father with worry in his voice. "That thing that makes you think she's just chatting."
Sherlock winced as if in pain, "She's a therapist; of course she's not having a chat with you. Do you really think your grandparents feel the need to offload that amount of money so you can have a 'chat' twice a week?"
John shrugged as if he wouldn't put it past them.
"Who would you like to have in with you then, John?"
Sherlock stiffened, looking almost put out. Thankfully John was in front of him and missed his father's reaction. "Mycroft," he said eventually.
Behind him, Sherlock looked like a ruffled pigeon as he himself into the room with a defiant glare in her direction.
"Are you all right with both of them?" she asked John.
She received a doubtful look. "Are you?"
"We're going to play a word association game-"
"Dear lord," Mycroft muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"What?" John turned, his chair drawn slightly forward from his father and uncle. "It's a game?"
They both stared in horror at the boy. "Should DNA test," Sherlock muttered, shaking his head.
"And you didn't think to do that before we started this therapy?" Mycroft scowled at him.
John watched their exchange with ever widening eyes until Sherlock sighed. "You are mine. Trust me. I believe we were both marched to our separate rooms when they found us after and your mother likely fitted with a chastity belt."
John's jaw dropped. "You were caught?" he asked, stunned.
"Not mid coitus," Sherlock defended.
"We can discuss your sex life another time," Mycroft scolded. John blinked, and then screwed up his nose with a slight gagging noise.
Sherlock merely winced at the noise.
"Now John, do you remember how to play this game?"
"Yeah," John twisted again. "Why do you two think-"
Resigned, the boy turned back and folded his arms, his father and uncle no longer in his immediate sight.
"Close your eyes," Abigail prompted. When John obeyed, she nodded to herself, seeing the reluctantly curious gazes aimed at them by the two men behind.
They would be intelligent enough to see when a point was proven, despite their stubbornness.
John's eyes opened and he seemed to struggle with the word. "I…I don't-"
Behind him Sherlock and Mycroft were watching John with utterly unreadable expressions.
"Damn," Sherlock muttered. The word had John turning in his chair with worry.
"What?" he asked, sounding nervous.
"That cow," John complained as they walked through the door. "I didn't know the answers meant anything."
"For the last time, everything means something to those people."
"Well if you'd told me we wouldn't be stuck in therapy for the next gazillion years," John muttered petulantly.
"I'm not," John complained. "And why aren't you saying anything, you hate therapy as much as I do."
"More," Sherlock replied absently as he stared at Lestrade's text. "However, you are complaining enough for the both of us."
John shot him a look that suggested he severely doubted that. "Is...am I wrong?"
"About?" Sherlock asked, texting back that he would be there in twenty minutes.
"No," Sherlock looked up properly and frowned at his son. "You are not wrong, you are simply..."
Annoyingly John waited for him to find an acceptable word.
"...A member of the Holmes family," Sherlock finished, uncomfortable. "It is like a rite of passage to be in therapy."
An odd grin formed on John's face and he bounded off.
Really, the boy found pleasure in the strangest things.
Next Chapter: Eleventh Birthday