Mycroft rarely visited his brother at home. He had a well-developed contempt for living anywhere that had to be assigned a letter after the street number, and his brother's distinct lack of housekeeping skills had always irked him. But three days after the arrest of Daniel and Renae Jestyn, he arrived at the flat at nine in the morning. Sherlock, who had just woken up and was still wandering around in his dressing gown, grudgingly let him in and then ignored him for ten minutes before he finally threw himself into the armchair opposite.
"How's things with you, Sherlock?" Mycroft crossed his legs awkwardly.
"Fine," was the snippy response.
"How are John and his wife? I hear they have a new baby."
"Uh, yes." Sherlock roughed up his hair with both hands. "Girl. Charlotte. Nondescript child who's very small and screams a great deal. They both came home from hospital yesterday. They're fine."
"Good, that's good to hear." Mycroft smiled ingratiatingly. "Though I suppose that means John will have less time to go adventuring with you, which will be quite a shame. You'll have to find a new hobby or two to amuse yourself while he's busy with his family."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Okay," he said, eyeing the left-hand side of Mycroft's jacket as though he had x-ray vision. "Tired of the small-talk now. What do you want?"
"You lied to me, Sherlock."
This was not in the least what Sherlock had anticipated. He frowned, genuinely taken aback. "Yes, probably." He tapped on the arms of his chair. "I lie to a lot of people. But some context for this particular infraction might be helpful."
"That night you came to me," Mycroft said. "Demanding I show you something of our father. You said you wanted something because you couldn't remember him."
"No, that's not true. I think you do remember him." Mycroft paused. "I think you came to me because you don't like the only memory you have of him - of being that small child who blurted out a big secret at the dinner table and caused an ungodly mess."
Sherlock's expression did not change, but he swallowed.
"I think you wanted me to conjure up some other memory of him for you, other than the one where you're convinced you were to blame." Mycroft was looking uncomfortably at the latches on his briefcase. "You weren't, Sherlock. You were a little boy who didn't know any better."
"Yes, nice, that's very touching, Mycroft." Sherlock fidgeted. "I'll keep that in mind."
"So I came to you today tell you," Mycroft said slowly, "that I lied to you, too."
Sherlock frowned. He was an unashamed and skilled liar, but years of experience had taught him that Mycroft was even better. Sebastian Moran had found that out the hard way. "Yes?"
Mycroft glanced at his pocket-watch, even though there was a clock on the table behind Sherlock. "When you asked if I was aware of where our father was, I told you I had no idea and had never made contact with him, which isn't true," he said without looking at his brother. "Eleven years ago, I was on a diplomatic mission to the United States when I managed to track him down. I discovered that after he... left us... he took work in Hong Kong, and then Geneva, and finally settled in Washington D.C, where he eventually retired. I found out that when he was in Geneva he met a French woman named Martine Bernier. They married and had a daughter, Christabel. She's twenty-five and lives in Berlin with her husband."
"A sister," Sherlock blurted out. "I have a sister and you never told me...?"
"Be quiet, Sherlock, I'm not finished yet. Have you got a cigarette?"
Sherlock went out to the kitchen, pulling a packet of cigarettes out of the microwave and a lighter from a nearby shelf. When a brief, distracted search failed to locate an ashtray, he brought out a coffee mug to use instead; Mycroft did not comment on it.
"When I found out where our father was living, I went to see him in person," he continued once they'd both sparked up. "Martine and Christabel weren't there - as yet, I've never met either of them. But I met our father. He made me explain who I was, which was ridiculous, because we both know I didn't get this nose from the Devereaux side of the family."
Sherlock smirked briefly.
"I explained to him that I didn't want money or favour. Just contact. Just... pleasant family relations. That sort of thing." Mycroft took a drag of his cigarette. "And he told me that he wanted nothing to do with me. Or with you."
The worst being over, he took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry, Sherlock," he continued. "But he did say that. He also said that we were his only sons and the heirs to the Holmes legacy, and we should be content with that and leave him in peace with his new family. Then he ordered me off his property."
Sherlock, slumped languidly in his chair, took a drag of his own cigarette. Even from where he sat, Mycroft could see that his hands were shaking, though he made no reply.
"It... didn't seem helpful to let you know what had happened," he ventured, unnerved by Sherlock's silence. "Eleven years ago, you were even more stubborn and intractable than you are now. I knew that if I told you what had happened, you'd have become convinced that you could change his mind, and would have flown immediately to Washington to see him. You would have received as cold a reception as I did. It was easier to tell you nothing, since you never asked."
"I asked you not long ago." Sherlock retorted. "And you lied to me."
Mycroft ignored this. He pulled a brick-coloured envelope out of his left breast pocket. "After our conversation that night, I came to think that perhaps I was wrong," he said with some effort. "I've little doubt that our father isn't interested in any further contact with me, but it's possible that the years have mellowed him. As I said, he'd be eighty-one years old now. Perhaps he would like to be reconciled before he dies. In any case, this is the most up-to-date information for our father and stepmother and half-sister." He held it out, suspended in the empty space between them. "Home addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses. I'm giving it to you, and you can pursue this for yourself, if that's what you want to do. And I wish you the very best of luck with whatever you choose, brother."
Sherlock took the envelope in his shaking hands. For a few seconds he looked it over, handling it gingerly with his fingertips as if it might harm him. The only sound was Mrs Hudson downstairs. She was talking to Smudge as she swept the kitchen floor.
Sherlock cleared his throat. "Thank you," he muttered.
In three swift, decisive movements, he tore the envelope in his hands and threw the pieces over the side of the chair, where they fluttered down onto the carpet. Then he got up and, flicking his dressing gown behind him, wandered back in the direction of the kitchen.
"Cup of tea, Mycroft?"
A/N-The sequel to The Somerton Man is Four Little Bottles. It can be accessed from my profile.
Thank you! xx