The Mycroft special won in a landslide for the 600 review treat, so here it is, some good auld Mycroft/Sherlock conversation (more like a sass-off, really)


Questioning The Government

Sherlock paid the taxi driver in full and slammed his door, forcing a disgruntled John to clamber out the other side of the cab. The two walked towards the entrance of 221B where Sherlock abruptly halted, his eyes quickly scanning the brass knocker. Dispelling a disgusted sigh, he pushed the door open and hurried up the staircase with John curiously following him. Stepping into their flat, any remaining intrigue was satisfied by the man sitting in John's red armchair, dressed in an expensive grey suit with a canary yellow tie pushed against his throat, a familiar umbrella twirling gently in his right hand. John supposed Mycroft Holmes preferred that particular chair due to the Union Jack cushion nestled at its base. It was probably the only thing Mycroft could successfully relate to in the entire flat which didn't provoke his eyes to roll in languid annoyance.

'Oh for God's sake, what do you want Mycroft? Even you should be able to tell when I'm in the throes of a case!' Sherlock snarled, unbuttoning his coat and hanging it up with unnecessary passion.

'Lovely to see you too, Sherlock.' Mycroft replied evenly, his beady eyes watching his little brother carefully as he sat at his desk and opened his laptop. 'And you John, I trust you are keeping well after the break-up? I imagine she tried to create quite a scene after last night's dinner, attacking you with her glass of red wine being one of the… many highlights of the evening.'

John's mouth twisted at the elder Holmes' frighteningly accurate deduction. Unlike Sherlock's observations which inspired awe and annoyance in equal measure, Mycroft's always sent John's intestine's squirming – though it was his lifelong mission to keep both of the Holmes brothers in the dark concerning this particular reaction.

'I think throwing the napkin over my head wins the award for most embarrassing incident of the night.' John sighed as the memory rolled over him, the embarrassment still very fresh.

'And you're still content to be living in 221B Bakerstreet? Not experiencing any regrets about your current circumstances with regards to the… unsettled dimension of your love life?' Mycroft inquired, his eyes still fixed on Sherlock's hunched figure whose fingers danced over the keyboard at a ferocious pace.

'Eh, nope. I'm still chuffed with murderers popping by for a quick cuppa, though I am repeatedly forced to declare war on the contents of the microwave which is getting a bit tedious…' John threw a suspicious glance at the closed doors of the kitchen. 'I'm just waiting for the right woman to come along – a desire Mycroft, which I believe we'll never have in common.' John said with a firm smile, his eyes bright with defiance as he stared at the disgruntled elder Holmes.

'Well Sherlock, I'm happy you've met someone who you've failed to drive into the welcoming arms of insanity. John, as far as the definition of anomaly goes, you are its epitome.' Mycroft remarked with a raised brow, turning his head to take in John's rigid posture.

'Yes, in a room where the combination of you and your brother's IQ results in a number well north of 300, I'm the anomaly.' John scoffed before sitting stiffly on the couch, simply to have something to do.

'Some very interesting advancements in the case yesterday, or so I was reliably informed.' Mycroft casually remarked.

'The sooner Lestrade grows a backbone and stops singing when you tell him to, the better.' Sherlock snapped.

'Yes, but if he did, brother dear, you wouldn't be allowed near any of his crime scenes. Not exactly the most logical of plans… I believe that you're familiar with the movie which inspired this homicide, John?' The way Mycroft pronounced the word "movie" led John to believe that Mycroft had never been to a cinema in his life. Explaining the intricacies of Tarantino's work to someone who probably viewed the "Arts" as an unnecessary burden on society was not going to be a pleasant task.

'The movie's called Pulp Fiction and like the other three films; American Beauty, The Shining and Psycho, it was released before the second millennia. With a close-range headshot and the blood covering the majority of the car, it's definitely the work of our serial killer. There were other props from the movie casually strewn across the car, the most important being a wallet which is sitting there on the mantelpiece. Forensics already stripped it down and Sherlock wanted to keep it for closer analysis.'

Mycroft reached up and plucked the leather wallet from the mantelpiece, his eyebrows rising a foot when he read the insulting stitch work.

'Gracious, is such profanity what the commonwealth regard as entertainment?' Mycroft mused, his nostrils flared in disgust at the words "BAD MOTHERFUCKER" stamped onto the leather. John stifled a frustrated sigh before continuing in a steady voice.

'There was a thumb print on one of the corners, it seems the killer made a mistake and didn't wipe it down correctly.'

'And what match did it produce?'

'Um, that's the most confusing thing.' John admitted with a frown. 'The thumb print belongs to a man who died a couple of months back.'

'This print was obviously fresh as this wallet is new, meaning that the man who apparently died some months ago is in fact, alive.' Mycroft drawled.

'How did you know all of that?' John demanded.

'It's quite obvious, John.' Sherlock piped up. 'The wallet is brand new, arrived six days ago in the country as it was sent by Amazon post to England for £12.98. Any oils deposited by a human finger were imprinted on the leather in the past few days which means that the death of Leo Shannon in prison a few months ago was obviously a hoax. Leo was injured significantly enough to remove him from prison to the infirmary where he apparently died from internal bleeding. I've requested all CCTV footage of the prison for that day and am tracking the movements of what is probably one of the best orchestrated prison escapes of all time. Nobody but those who were supposed to notice saw him leave.' Sherlock reeled off.

'Don't forget about the lining, Sherlock.' Mycroft chastised, leaning forward where he reluctantly sniffed the wallet. 'Chanel No.5, if my senses aren't mistaken.'

'You're Mycroft Holmes, being wrong isn't something you're familiar with.' Sherlock sneered.

'Alright boys, should we return to the facts here?' John asked, raising his eyebrows meaningfully at the brothers. 'I still don't understand about Leo Shannon… you think he killed all of those victims? Why?' John asked blankly. Before Sherlock could recite his deductions, Mycroft beat him to it.

'I glanced through Mr Shannon's personal file before coming over here; he's a rejected lover of Lady Smith, has a profound knowledge of the film industry and possesses a crude criminal record, beginning when he was just fifteen years of age: possession of drugs, assault, unsolved murder cases with his name dotted around the margin…' John gritted his teeth and sighed, wondering why Mycroft had demanded he explain information about the case which he obviously knew already.

'But why break out of jail to murder other criminals? It doesn't make any sense.' John pointed out.

'Unreturned love is an absurdly powerful motivator and will force the best of people to achieve great feats in order to accomplish petty goals.' Sherlock replied. 'Leo Shannon faked his death, escaped prison and murdered three prolific criminals in order to attract Ruby Smith's attention. That's why it was vital she was placed in a safe-house. After the final murder is committed, he'll be coming for her. She may have to be used as bait, but I hardly see how that'll be a problem.'

'Tut, tut, Sherlock. Have you really passed over the most obvious anomaly of this case?' Mycroft jeered. Sherlock's head snapped around where he promptly glared at his brother.

'I didn't miss anything of note, Mycroft.' He hissed. 'I have all the necessary data I need, my homeless network are tracking down Leo Shannon as we speak and I have almost enough evidence to persuade Lestrade that Leo Shannon is alive and well, and he will add Scotland Yard's considerable staff to help find him.'

'Oh, there's no need to scour through hours of CCTV footage, Sherlock. I've already given the order; Scotland Yard is at the moment working to find the whereabouts of once presumed dead Leo Shannon in connection to these murders; he is the prime suspect. A little gratitude is evidently too much to expect, I imagine?' He added with an evil smile which made Sherlock's blood boil.

'I don't need your help. Stop interfering where you aren't, and never will be, wanted!'

'Seeing as I'm the smarter brother and you have so clearly missed a clue, I believe you do need my help, Sherlock.'

'There is nothing I have missed –'

'Jahmene Rey, Sherlock. Head mortician at St Bart's and best friend of Lady Smith, acting oddly distant since Lady Smith's return from her parent's wedding anniversary.'

'Jesus Mycroft, you don't think that Jahmene is the killer –' John began.

'No, no. Mr Rey doesn't come close to fitting the expected criteria. Despite knowing better than most on how to make it look like an accident, Mr Rey does not possess the necessary motivation to embark on such a crude demonstration of sentiment. I visited the morgue a few days ago and couldn't help but notice that he was a man who looked to be under tremendous pressure, the type of stress which only blackmail with deathly consequences can invoke. Surely Sherlock, you didn't believe that this Leo Shannon character could walk into a five star establishment on more than one occasion, ascend the exclusive elevator to Lady Smith's suite and extract some of her perfume to lace his victim's with? He needed an accomplice, someone who could enter the hotel without garnering notice, someone who would keep quiet and most importantly – would pass undetected beneath your radar.' Sherlock's glare intensified, his lips forming a very thin line.

'So what you're saying is that Jahmene's been in contact with the killer all this time?' John said faintly, trying to break the death glares both brothers were sending each other.

'Precisely, John. Lestrade is currently en-route to arrest and question Mr Rey in connection with aiding a serial killer. I imagine he'll receive a hefty sentence whether he decides to cooperate or not. Make sure to inform Lady Smith of this development when you next pay her a visit, I imagine it will be an update she will be most disappointed by.' John was watching Sherlock with bated breath; he was always at his most irritable when Mycroft bested him on one of his cases.

'Isn't it strange, brother dear, how many people we have come into contact with who have tried to fake their own death?' Sherlock asked casually, his eyes fastened hard on his brother.

'Well Sherlock, you once indulged such a feat, as I'm sure John only remembers too well.' John's fists automatically coiled on his lap, sending Mycroft his best go-fuck-yourself glower.

'Isn't it comforting to know that because you care so much, you'll distort truths in order to protect the fickle heart you believe I secretly possess. Influencing John to tell me of The Woman's American witness protection scheme… how adorably quaint of you. Tell me, how did you feel when you saw her at the Smith's anniversary, knowing that I had bested you and pulled the wool over your eyes?' Sherlock drawled.

'Where's this going, Sherlock?' Mycroft asked quietly, the two completely ignoring John's flabbergasted expression who up until this point, had believed Irene Adler's neck to have exchanged pleasantries with a sword.

'Stop trying to prove that I'm the idiot brother, your energies would be better used if you concentrated on something which did not revolve around me.' Sherlock hissed.

'Oh Sherlock, don't make me laugh –'

'I believe that feat to be impossible as, after all, it requires a sense of humour to experience such a sensation.' Sherlock said in a snarky tone.

'Sorry, Irene Adler's alive?' John loudly interrupted, attracting both of the Holmes' attention.

'Obviously.' Sherlock said with furrowed brows before sighing in realisation. 'Oh, of course. You weren't there and Mycroft didn't see fit to inform you… not exactly a novel experience, I assure you.' Mycroft shifted uncomfortably before breaking eye contact with Sherlock, turning his head so he addressed 221B's live-in blogger.

'John, when I told you in the downstairs café that it would take Sherlock Holmes to fool me in the instance of Irene Adler's second corpse, it just so happened that my little brother was involved.' Mycroft's eyes flashed with anger at this statement. 'He helped her fake her own death, an epiphany I was only very recently allowed to experience when Ms Adler unwisely decided to make an appearance at Lord and Lady Smith's anniversary in an attempt to have the Mastercard steal a particular jewel for her. However, I believe there was a guest there whose attentions she was far more eager to steal.' He looked at Sherlock pointedly before continuing. 'You can imagine my… surprise upon seeing the return of the dominatrix who almost brought England to its knees.' Mycroft sniffed loudly, his face wracked with disdain.

'No wonder you bought that story about the witness protection scheme.' John blustered. The consulting detective glanced up from his work, smirking at his faithful blogger. 'There I was, thinking you were going to draw my attention to the manner in which I was so obviously lying, and all you were interested in was having her mobile phone…' John heaved a great sigh and shook his head slightly. 'You know what? In future, when you two are having one of your sibling-rivalry spats, I'm just going to stay out of it. Starting, now.' John rose from the couch and headed towards the stairs.

'Where are you going?' Sherlock demanded, forcing John to turn at the door.

'Out.' John barked.

'Care to be a little less vague?'

'I'm disappointed little brother, it is, after all, so very obvious.' Mycroft drawled.

'I noticed his shoes, hair, clean-shaven face, cologne, ironed shirt, best jacket and freshly laundered trousers, the ones which he went down to the tailors to have turned-up due to his below-average height.' Sherlock snapped, failing to notice John grit his teeth and frown heavily.

'Don't forget his hands, Sherlock. They're the biggest give-away as I'm constantly reminding you.' Mycroft sneered.

'Oh yes, of course – the finger-nails.'

'Oh, spit it out, will you?' John moaned.

'You're going on a date but my main motivation for asking was due to the vain hope I harboured that my deductions were wrong so that I might prove that you can, in fact, survive an entire 24 hours without a girlfriend.' Sherlock said swiftly.

'Seeing as dating is a concept which neither of you two geniuses are familiar with, I'd appreciate it if you both butted out.' John said while gesturing between Sherlock and Mycroft.

'And where do you plan to wine and dine her?' Sherlock asked with a quirked brow.

'Why should I tell you? You'll only produce some cock and bull excuse to interrupt, you always do.' John snapped.

'I believe that might be Sherlock's jealousy manifesting in the form of a childish tantrum. Not much you can do but endure such a technique, believe me, I grew up with him.' Mycroft said while rolling his eyes.

'Shut up Mycroft. John doesn't know this woman and he's reluctant to invest money in an evening of distractions, it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to know that he'll be in Alfonzo's for the rest of the night.' Sherlock declared triumphantly.

'How –' John began.

'From my observations, I believe the percentage of lies told on first dates is higher than the percentage of truths. So apart from the exchange of names, I wouldn't be expecting to learn anything of particular use, John.' Mycroft interjected, exchanging a knowing glance with Sherlock. John shook his head before scratching his arm, very unhappy that he was having this conversation with present company.

'Right, I'm leaving. Try to leave the flat in one piece in case I want to bring her back later, okay?' He shrugged on his black coat and hurriedly checked his pockets, frowning when he found them to be empty.

'What's her name?' Sherlock asked.

'Oh, as if you'd really care to know.' John said, his face twisting in annoyance. 'It's not as if you'll commit the name to memory, seeing as you never bothered with the rest of my girlfriends.'

'Yes, but they were all so boring.' Sherlock explained matter-of-factly. 'Actually, no. Let's guess, brother mine. What kind of name would Dr John Watson, my flatmate and war-veteran be attracted to?'

'No. No way. I'm not doing this.' John said firmly, hunting around the flat for his wallet and phone, trying to ignore the two larger-than-life figures sitting loftily in his living room.

'Some context, Sherlock?' Mycroft asked languidly.

'Let's see; Jeanette, Sarah, there was a dog groomer; he had a thing for your P.A. –'

'Anthea? Quite… ambitious of you, John.' John stopped scouring the mantelpiece and pinched the brow of his nose.

'Alright girls, you win. It's always your way, never mine.' He said in a voiced laced with defeat. 'Her name is Mary Morstan. I have a really good feeling about her, and if I manage to make it through dinner without oh I don't know, a shoot-out –' He nodded at Sherlock '– or some sort of kidnapping –' John tilted his head at Mycroft '–I might actually have a shot.' The consulting detective nodded before he rummaged in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. Moments later, he produced John's wallet and phone, which he wordlessly handed to his blogger. 'You really need to stop pick-pocketing people Sherlock –'

'Dinner's on me, Alfonzo won't charge you a penny.' Sherlock said, returning his attention to his laptop and missing John's face contract into an expression of complete astonishment.

'No Sherlock, I wasn't asking –'

'I know you weren't. Now go, you only have seven seconds to make a lasting first impression and arriving late won't be something you want this Mary to remember every time she sees your face.' Suddenly finding his shoelaces fascinating, John smiled and shoved his hands deep in his pockets.

'Right, see you later then. And Mycroft… it's always interesting. Have fun running the country.' He nodded to Mycroft who returned the gesture unhurriedly and John quickly exited the flat, hastening down the stairs with a light tread.

'I wonder what it's like to be that enthusiastic about a date.' Mycroft said disparagingly, examining the handle of his umbrella out of boredom. After slamming down the lid of his laptop, Sherlock leapt into his armchair and faced his brother head on.

'Well, I imagine it's akin to an interesting client coming to my door, so much excitement, endless possibility, perhaps a murderer who has pretended to be a loving friend of the victim their entire life…' Sherlock's lips quirked slightly at the thought, his eyes glazed over in memory at some of his more spectacular investigations.

'I always thought it would feel like an interview for a post which one has, for a great period, longed to fill.' Mycroft remarked, glancing at his brother with light curiosity. The intrigued look slid from Mycroft's face and was replaced with an expression of the utmost seriousness.

'Are you finally going to tell me why you've invaded the privacy of my humble abode, Mycroft? Another terrorist attack? Has the Royal family a new scandal they wish to remain hidden from their kingdom? Or better yet, you're here to challenge me to a game of Snakes and Ladders?'

'I wouldn't object to a friendly game if you have the apparatus handy.'

'A friendly game?' Sherlock mocked. 'Have you wholly supressed the incident which took place on your 12th birthday?'

'You mean where I won and as you were such a gracious loser, you stuffed a dice up my left nostril and I had to have it surgically removed?' Mycroft said depreciatively, lifting his brows to show how he still disapproved of such outlandish behaviour. Smirking fondly at the mischievous memory, Sherlock leapt from his chair and began running his hands along the nearest bookshelf. He ignored the many scientific tomes, paid no attention to the game of Cluedo which John now abhorred and batted away the game of Monopoly with disgust. After some more rummaging, Sherlock eventually extracted a battered box and set it on a small coffee table between the two armchairs. 'You'll choose the red figurine, seeing as you have such fondness for the colour.' Mycroft smiled slightly.

'Don't be absurd; it's irrational to favour a particular hue–'

'I'm certain Redbeard would disagree.' Sherlock's hands stilled in the action of lifting the lid and he swallowed loudly, trying to ignore the sudden increase in his heart-rate. 'Then again, red was the colour you associated with your time spent sailing the seas of your room, avoiding the East Wind. A colour present in all of your… childish fancies.'

'One of us had to have some form of imagination; dreams are what allowed for the greatest minds of our time to accomplish the impossible. Then again, I'm talking to what my rival dubbed as the Ice Man. How could you possibly understand? Any creative outlet was not worth your time and if you recall, you used to sigh exasperatedly whenever I applied myself to the violin.'

'Neither of us expected you to gain any mastery over that instrument, you picked it up one day out of boredom.'

'No Mycroft, I wanted to prove that I could accomplish something which even your endeavours had failed to master. And John wonders why it gives me such pleasure and causes you pain when I choose to play in your presence.' Sherlock smiled briefly before handing Mycroft the dice and a blue figurine. 'There, completely civilised. Though I can't promise they won't end up in one of your orifices before the night is through, it all depends on how bombastic you are.' Mycroft sighed before shaking the dice in his hand and allowing them to fall onto the board. Two sixes innocently stared back up at him.

'12. You will do your best to keep up, won't you?' Mycroft said smugly, uncrossing his legs so he could lean forward and drag his blue figurine twelve spaces along the board.

'I'm looking forward to when you throw your beloved umbrella out of the window in rage after I've won.' Sherlock quipped back, taking the dice and shaking them violently in his hand. He opened his fist and allowed the dice to clatter onto the board where they stubbornly displayed a six and a five. '11. I'm right behind you Mycroft.'

'A position I've no doubt you're familiar with, little brother.' Mycroft said; his eyes glittering maliciously as he rolled a 9. Swallowing back another retort, Sherlock focused his energies on the dice, but was rewarded with a meagre 2 and 3. He carelessly moved his red figurine for the five spaces before Mycroft snatched up the dice. 'Tell me Sherlock, how are you keeping these days?' He asked, moving the blue figurine forward another ten spaces, just avoiding the head of a snake.

'Annoyed that my older brother is molly-codling me on my latest case. I always thought you were put off by anything with legwork, and yet – here you are.' Sherlock exclaimed, his hands gesturing vaguely in Mycroft's direction as he took the dice and shook them harshly.

'And your current case, it's not proving too taxing?' Mycroft asked as his blue figurine ascended four rows via a ladder.

'No more than any other killer.' Sherlock frowned as he missed a ladder by two spaces which would have pushed him halfway up the board.

'You seem… distracted.'

'Distracted?' Sherlock ridiculed.

'Yes, it is a perfectly accurate description in this instance. You missed the blatant link between Mr Rey and the serial killer, plus on top of that, I heard tales of your embarrassing performance in Scotland Yard.' Mycroft shook his head slightly, his eyebrows narrowing suspiciously. 'I am baffled by your behaviour; it was eccentric – even for you.' Mycroft's nostrils flared as he landed on a snake and slid back three rows, still ahead of Sherlock – but not by much.

'I was only explaining to John that I can't turn off my ability to deduce my surroundings.' Sherlock muttered, ascending a ladder and taking the lead for the first time.

'Come now Sherlock, there was plenty of time for showing-off at the beginning of your friendship with Dr Watson. I do not believe this to be the motivation behind your crude reaction.' He raised his eyebrows meaningfully at his brother before returning his gaze to the board. 'An interesting choice of decoration for your kitchen floor I might add, I imagine it smelled quite ghastly during its inception.' Mycroft mused, rolling the dice and sighing when two 1's appeared.

'You think I'm responsible for such an act of passion? If so, you're losing your touch.' Sherlock sneered.

'Oh on the contrary, I believe that Lady Smith is responsible for the outlandish blemish. I imagine you found the heights of her fury to be quite… invigorating.'

'She said it was to teach me a lesson, the moral being that I should refrain from destroying things which people love without apology. The lesson was slightly hindered by the irony of her table-flipping antics.' He sighed exasperatedly at the memory of her sending his beloved experiments to their collective doom on Mrs Hudson's floor.

'I did not believe you looked to Lady Smith as a mentor, Sherlock. John Watson certainly, but not Lady Smith.'

'She's not my mentor!' Sherlock snarled, angrily dragging his red figurine down the back of a long snake. 'Ruby merely became incensed over something I'd said which might have influenced the way which her colleagues and superiors viewed her. Then she stormed my home, destroyed my experiments and decided my mantelpiece needed a knife buried to its hilt!' Sherlock gestured to the mantelpiece which still sported the embedded dagger.

'Oh Sherlock, what have I told you about stating the sexual activities of our fellow goldfishes?' Mycroft admonished. 'Has university taught you nothing with concerns to the sensitivity of this issue? It is not a subject which either of us should concern ourselves with – not when there's so many pressing issues which require our… specific attention. And yet, you went out of your way to divulge Lady Smith's sexual activities of the past twenty-four hours to her entire work force.'

'I was trying to think and she stopped me –'

'And telling her to shut up was not a suitable manner to communicate this sentiment?' There was more than just steel to Mycroft's glare. 'Your turn, Sherlock.' He handed the dice over and Sherlock rolled his first perfect 12 by carelessly letting the dice drop on the board.

'What are you so worried about anyway?' Sherlock asked.

'The financial crisis, the continuing arms problem in England, increasing black-market business – you'll have to be more specific.'

'What ails you with regards to me.' Sherlock clarified. Mycroft took a long time to roll his dice before moving his figurine up another ladder.

'Your volatility.' Mycroft eventually muttered.

'One of the traits I possess and you don't, always your favourite characteristics to prey on. So then, how is my "volatility" making you uncomfortable? Have to put up with exchanged glances at your expense in your little boardroom meetings?' Sherlock chuckled at the thought.

'I am merely concerned for your well-being. No-one else apart from the exception of John, can truly tell when you're acting out of character. So, when I am informed of one of your reactions which fails to coincide with the responses I expect of Sherlock Holmes when he is speaking with one of his few friends, I can deduce one of four possible causes for this behaviour.'

'You'll have to excuse me if I die from boredom instead of prolonged suspense.' Sherlock hissed, moving his figurine down another snake.

'One. Such a public display of out-of-character behaviour is linked with a theatrical method to gain information for a case you're pursuing. I know this option is not applicable in this scenario so onto the next deduction.' Mycroft dragged his blue figurine down a small snake, landing it almost right beside Sherlock's. 'Two. You're erratic behaviour is linked to a relapse in your drug addiction, injections of morphine or something much stronger responsible for your unusual outburst. It is unnecessary for my people to forcefully extract a urine sample to prove that you are clean when the answer insists on staring me in the face.' Mycroft sat a little straighter and watched Sherlock roll the dice. 'Three. Your intellect has, on one of its very few occasions, failed you and you find yourself facing an unmoveable opponent who has forced you into a corner where defeat is hanging like an impending doom. After glancing through Leo Shannon's case files, I also believe that this is not responsible for your behaviour – which leads to the final deduction.'

'I'm profoundly surprised I haven't died of old age. Or boredom at the very least.' Sherlock said conversationally, glancing longingly at the smiley face spray painted on the opposing wallpaper and smirking upon remembering when he had opened fire on it. Surely Mycroft wouldn't approve if he fired all of John's bullets at the wallpaper.

'Four. You're frightened.' Sherlock's attention snapped from the wall and he regarded his brother with open contempt.

'Frightened? Of what, exactly? The bogey man? The East Wind?'

'Something different – something new.'

'Oh the West Wind then.' Sherlock said, nodding his head and doing his best to stop from smiling. 'Does there exist a scenario where you explain that delightfully cryptic comment, Mycroft?' The elder Homes sat as straight as was possible and stonily regarded his restless brother.

'Allow me to propose a quick case for you to solve, Sherlock.'

'Go ahead.' Sherlock sneered, abandoning the game and allowing his hands to return to their signature steeple beneath his chin.

'There once was a beautiful princess of Denmark who was loved through all the land, called Salata.'

'Really Mycroft, a fairy tale? I thought we both agreed as children that you were the worst story-teller in the country.' Sherlock said pompously, but Mycroft continued as if he hadn't experienced an interruption.

'Salata had suffered through an eventful but prodigious upbringing and her parents, the king and queen, were eager to see her married, though they allowed her the opportunity to choose her own Prince. There are many who have tried to court Salata in order to win her affections, some who met more success than others, but none attracted her attentions permanently. When she wasn't brushing her hair or sewing pretty patterns, Salata took walks with her handmaiden down by the stables and spied on the knights who had sworn themselves to her father. There is one whom Salata's fickle heart already fancied being particularly dashing; Sir Gawain who was the bravest and noblest of them all. Tragically, he could never be a possible suitor for Salata as he took an oath of chivalry to her father which imposed the unquestionable rule of celibacy.'

'Yes, a tragedy that they weren't allowed to reproduce.' Sherlock scoffed but was annoyed to find Mycroft continuing.

'Sometime after being unveiled to society, a rich Lord by the name of Tyrion wished to try his luck in winning Salata's hand. He pursued her voraciously, and fell alarmingly in love with the princess, but she did not pay him any special attention, her secret desire for Sir Gawain stopped her from willingly choosing a husband.'

'Does this story ever end?' Sherlock moaned, dropping his hands and slouching in his chair.

'Being quite the adventurous princess, she convinced her handmaiden to accompany her on an early-morning walk outside of the safety of the castle walls and into the surrounding forest. While beneath the green foliage, they accidently disturbed a bear with her cubs. They fled the area, the princess convinced that her curiosity had put the final nail in her coffin as they heard the bear's heavy paws thunder behind them. Luckily, the damsel in distress came across a hunting party and upon identifying the danger of the princess; the nearest Lord slew the bear and comforted the princess, where he demanded that she returned to the castle on his horse. This Lord happened to be Tyrion, and in that moment when he tenderly lifted her onto his horse, Salata was convinced she had fallen in love. Upon returning to the castle which was in chaos as it tried to find the lost princess, relief was evident on even the King's face as he embraced his daughter once again, Sir Gawain and the rest of his knights standing guard around his throne.'

'If there's a point to all this, I don't want to know. I have too much important information which I need to store excluding this drivel.' Sherlock groaned as he slid further down on his armchair, fighting a surprisingly powerful urge for a cigarette.

'After seeing the manner in which Salata spoke and gazed at Lord Tyrion, Sir Gawain's attentions were suddenly drawn to his own affections for the princess which he had forcefully supressed in order to successfully carry out his duty to the king. In front of the entire royal court; he threw down his gauntlet and challenged Lord Tyrion to a duel to the death where he accused him of threatening the safety of Princess Salata. They fought, but it was a lost cause from the beginning and Sir Gawain slew Lord Tyrion, and in doing so, Princess Salata vowed never to forgive him for killing her love. Her anger lasted throughout her life; she never took a husband and refused to be in the same room as Sir Gawain, even on his deathbed.' Mycroft settled back into his chair, his eyes watching Sherlock carefully who was looking quite perplexed by the story.

'So?' Sherlock eventually snapped as the silence did nothing but stretch.

'So indeed.'

'What was the point of your ramblings?'

'Why did Sir Gawain challenge Lord Tyrion to the duel, Sherlock?'

'Textbook Jealousy.' Sherlock replied in a bored voice.

'Ah, so you are familiar with the sentiment.'

'So are you, only an idiot – or the person feeling jealous – would fail to observe such a passionate emotion.'

'A passionate emotion, would you go so far as to describe it as… volatile?' Mycroft asked languidly, his gaze never leaving his brother's face as he watched the light bulb flicker into existence above his head. Sitting up straighter and glaring at his brother, the two conducted some sort of staring contest which had little to do with blinking. A very tense minute passed before Mycroft retracted his glare and examined the abandoned game in front of him. Though it wasn't by much, he was still winning in Snakes and Ladders, his blue figurine ahead by a few spaces of the red model. It was always the same with any contest where Sherlock was his opponent.

'You think I'm Sir Gawain and Ruby is this Princess Salata?!' Sherlock scoffed in disbelief, his lips pressed in a thin line. 'Oh and while we're examining the characters and setting, I suppose that her new partner, Detective Robert McGregor is this Lord Tyrion character and Leo Shannon is the black bear chasing her through the forest? A little obvious, isn't it Mycroft? In future I suggest you should leave the telling of fairy tales to those who truly understand them.' He smiled savagely at his older brother, but the smile quickly disappeared when Mycroft made no move to rebuke him for his insult.

'No Sherlock, I believe I just told an infantile story and because you could relate to one of the characters, you read yourself and those you know into its plot.' A cold shiver raced down Sherlock's spine and he shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

'No don't play games Mycroft, as if you would spontaneously tell a story–'

'Of course it wasn't spontaneous Sherlock you stupid little boy!' Mycroft boomed, immediately getting Sherlock's back up.

'Then be straight with me you incorrigible man! How dare you try to trip me up, to trick me!'

'If you weren't such a man-child, I wouldn't have to resort to these infantile tactics whose employment are fuelled by the best of intentions –'

'Best of intentions? You tell me a story about an idiotic princess because you had my interests at your coal-stained heart? I think not, brother. Try asking the question you have buried beneath whimsical characters for a change, with blunt phrasing. You might be surprised with how losing some of your presumptuous tact will allow for the answering of some of your burning questions.' Sherlock sneered.

'Unlike you Sherlock, I am reluctant to part with my astute methods of conversation as I fear I may fall to your atrocious level of communication. I fear if I abandon it, I will never get it back and how am I meant to converse with politicians then?'

'Try you fool. Or are you afraid?' Sherlock jeered.

'What have I to fear from a little brother like you?' Mycroft said with a simpering smile.

'You won't know until you spit it out.'

'One does not simply –'

'Mycroft, you're gaining weight.'

'Sherlock! I hardly see how that's –'

'That new treadmill you've bought isn't responsible; the chocolate cake you keep eating at 4 in the morning on the other hand –'

'WILLIAM SHERLOCK SCOTT HOLMES, ARE YOU OR ARE YOU NOT HARBOURING FEELNGS OF CONSIDERABLE SENTIMENT FOR LADY SMITH?' Mycroft roared, his words smothering any of Sherlock's retorts. A roaring silence tore around the living room as the two brothers regarded one another, one in the throes of rage, the other completely bewildered. Sherlock's jaw was slack as he tried to think of the ulterior motive for Mycroft asking such a ridiculous question, but alarmingly, his mind did not offer any brilliant explanation for this mess.

'W-What?' Sherlock eventually stuttered; his legs feeling oddly like jelly.

'You'll have to excuse my… phrasing. I spoke without thought.' Mycroft twirled his umbrella faster, the handle blurring momentarily as the two tried to ignore the blaring question circling their heads. It was rare for the elder Holmes to have any sort of outburst, especially in dealings with his younger brother. It seemed he was more worried than he had led himself to believe.

'Why… Why would you think that it… that I…' Sherlock trailed off, his eyebrows knitted together in confusion.

'I made some… observations.' Mycroft admitted. More silence filled the living room as Sherlock pursed his lips thoughtfully, bringing up any information concerning Ruby Smith and examining it in full, wondering why Mycroft had drawn such a bizarre deduction.

'Mycroft, I'm not… we're not –'

'Just because I have no interest doesn't mean there couldn't evolve a circumstance where you might find yourself… intrigued.' Mycroft said stiffly, his anger washed away by every spin of his umbrella.

Sherlock found himself speechless as a thought which he'd buried deep, unexpectedly rose to the surface. Unlike what he boasted of, his ability to delete whatever information he pleased from his mind palace was not as smooth a process as he would like others to believe. Some memories kept persisting despite countless attempts to excommunicate them – and this particular memory had been incredibly vivid when he was forced to recall it. Sherlock's eyes flicked towards the wall sporting his spray-painted smiley-face, remembering a time when just for a second, he'd lost control, allowed his rational thought to take a back seat and his primitive urges to make a surprise appearance. He had been surprised – and disgusted – to find how the temporary shutting down of his quick-thinking mind had produced a blissful ignorance. There was an odd sort of peace to be found – but it meant relying wholly on another person in order to attain it which was a level of dependency which Sherlock Holmes would never stoop to. That Ruby had been the person he'd accidently shared this encounter and epiphany with was something which he'd been determined to stifle in its vicious side-effects. And he'd succeeded, despite her feelings growing over the course of their companionship. She understood that such hopes for a relationship within normal parameters would never be something he could offer, hence why no requests for awful dates or any other means of seduction had been thrown his way for inevitable rejection.

'From your reaction I can see that for now, there is no secret relationship between you two. Some of your more recent behaviours have been a trifle normal compared with the Sherlock Holmes I grew up with, and so I… worried.' Mycroft confessed.

'Ruby Smith is a colleague and a friend. You of all people should do well to remember what a miracle it is that I have any friends at all. This sentiment is playing havoc with your usual coolness of mind. I suggest you question your fondness of me instead of the displays of warped affection I am occasionally prone to sharing with those I hold dear.'

Sherlock's phone beeped and he quickly got to his feet after reading the urgent text. He stepped towards the door and donned his coat with lethargic movements, almost forgetting to tie his scarf before leaving the flat.

'Another body at Mr Shannon's place of residence?' Mycroft asked aloofly.

'Yes. Lestrade promises it to be quite the dramatic crime scene.' Sherlock pulled on his gloves and without further comment, abandoned Mycroft in the armchair beside the dead fireplace. After descending the stairs and opening the front door, he heaved a huge sigh as he came into contact with the fresh air. Closing the door to Bakerstreet, Sherlock wondered why it was that his thoughts were crashing throughout his head in a rather chaotic fashion.

It was not like his brother to be wrong. Mycroft was never wrong; Sherlock had come to reluctantly accept that in his life, having been proven incorrect on too many occasions. So it was time to question his brother's authority on this particular accusation. Mycroft was so very good at identifying the sentimental weaknesses of ordinary people, manipulating them through their emotions in order to attain what he desired. Therefore, his observations had to be false on some level due to the destructive nature of the chemistry of brotherly compassion. So, to conclude, surely he was wrong about this outlandish allegation, he had almost admitted of such a deduction himself.

As Sherlock signalled for a taxi to pull over and carry him away to the crime scene, he experienced an unfamiliar emotion which took him a minute to classify. A few seconds passed before he correctly identified it, and to his surprise, he realised he was experiencing a moment of desperation. As he climbed into the back of the cab and the taxi driver drove away from Bakerstreet, the potent feeling manifested in one, simple thought:

Mycroft had to be wrong.

Hello my pretties, happy new chapter Friday! I don't have much time, so I just want to quickly say that I was (and continue to be) overwhelmed by the support and love you've thrown my way over the past week. 40 reviews in that last chapter. You people are so insane and I adore you all! I hope you enjoyed the special which I was able to work into the plot (yay no back-tracking) and I hope everything about the Sherlock/ Mycroft interaction was to your satisfaction. God knows they are tricky characters to write!

Well, until next week, my good friends, have a brilliant weekend and I wish you all the best with whatever challenges you may face. (And I wish myself luck for a driving test which is currently driving me up the wall (s'cuse the pun). 6 weeks for a learner permit you say? I say I'll set Smaug on you and incinerate you on the spot. So HA!)

Thank you once again for your support, the follows, favourites and reviews make this story such a pleasure to write. I would be more than delighted to hear your thoughts on this rather lengthy chapter.

Good Bye.