NOTE: Forgive the long span between updates for this fic. Grad school is being very brutal (I may not actually survive it) and I keep getting carried away by plot bunnies for Wildflower. Will try not to let so much time go between this chapter and the next!
Just as Rose was exiting the changing room, her mobile rang. "Hello?"
"Alfred called me," Louise said by way of greeting.
"Of course he did. He thinks we did brilliant, but we did not do brilliant," Rose responded glumly.
"Yes, you did. But I'm not going to argue with you about it, because you're very stubborn and I don't want to fight. I called to ask if you wanted to go out," Louise admitted.
Rose instantly brightened at the idea. "Yeah! Come over to Baker Street, we'll dress sexy and then go get smashed," she replied as she rounded a corner of the hallway….
And ran smack into Mycroft who promptly gave her a very forbidding look, quirked eyebrow and all.
She went pale and then immediately started laughing. "Louise! I can't believe you fell for that. That's a horrible idea; we never do anything like that."
After a slight pause Louise responded, saying, "Mycroft overheard that, didn't he? And he's giving you that look right this second, isn't he?"
"He's never going to forget about that stupid bottle of wine. We were fourteen, that was a million years ago," Louise said with a sigh. "And I bet he's not buying the 'I can't believe you fell for that' either. It's so unfortunate sometimes that he's as intelligent as he is. Completely ruins all our fun."
Rose nodded, even though Louise couldn't see it. "Very true on all counts, mores the pity."
Louise snorted and laughed. "Though he is sort of right to be concerned, you can't hold your liquor to save your life."
"Gee, thanks for that Lou. You're an awful friend," Rose teased. "I should go though. I'll call you later, alright?"
"Sounds good. Do call though or I'll worry and think you're drinking and having loads of fun without me," Louise said with a snicker.
Rose laughed and bid Louise goodbye before hanging up the phone. She immediately sobered as she faced her brothers and John. She spared a quick glance to Sherlock and John before turning her full attention to her eldest brother.
Though she didn't notice it, Sherlock was watching her with grave concern. The laughter and sparkle normally found in her eyes had disappeared, as did any sign of mirth from a mere moment ago when teasing Louise. Instead, she looked resolute, yet ready to break at any second, her eyes filled with tears she fought to keep from falling. He silently hoped that Mycroft wouldn't screw this up and break her; if he did, Sherlock was going to break him.
"Before you say anything," Rose said quietly, her voice trembling just a bit. "I'm really, really sorry and I know I deserve it, but please don't say "I told you so.""
Mycroft opened his mouth, and then quickly closed it, frowning for several seconds. "What are you sorry for? That conversation I just overheard? I'll forget about it, provided I never hear another one like it," he offered. The look on her face told him that that wasn't the issue at hand.
"You've been… well, not very supportive," she admitted. "But you grudgingly allowed me to do this. To go back to dance and make a go of it, you've let me do that, even though I know you'd pretty much rather I do anything else. Anything that's a "real" job. I knew I had to win, to show you I could do it and that it was a real job, that I could be good, really good…" Rose's voice cracked and she took a deep breath.
"But I failed. I lost; I failed; and I know you're disappointed in me. Disappointed that you gave me this opportunity and all I did was let you down. Don't tell me you're not disappointed because I know you are. I know you My, and I know you really are and you have every right to be, but I…" Rose fell silent, and began sniffling. She struggled to maintain her composure, but once she regained it, she continued.
"Please My, please, give me another chance. I'll do better next time I swear. I'll make you proud of me! I really will! Please don't be disappointed, please! Please." Her composure completely eroded and Rose turned her back towards them and let her tears fall.
Hearing her say things like that and watching her turn around to hide her tears from them was heartbreaking. John looked at Sherlock, expecting the man to do or say something to comfort Rose. Except Sherlock did nothing.
"You can't believe that Rose! Seriously, Mycroft, tell her that's not true!" John shouted, feeling quite defensive on Rose's behalf. "Tell her, tell her now!" When Mycroft didn't respond fast enough for his liking, John moved forward, intending to comfort Rose himself.
Only to be stopped by Sherlock, who was surprisingly strong for someone so tall and lanky. "Don't," Sherlock said quietly. "They need to do this. He needs to set it right. He made her feel this way; he has to set it right. You can't do that, and neither can I, no matter how much we might want to."
John scowled at his friend, knowing Sherlock had the right of it, but disliking it all the same. It hurt him to see her hurting, but he could tell it was hurting Sherlock too. He knew the man would intervene if he didn't believe Mycroft could fix this, and that was the only reason why John nodded curtly and stepped back.
It was moments like this that reminded Mycroft in the most painful of ways that he had a heart. It broke just a bit, seeing her standing there, as certain as she could be that he'd declare her an idiot- and not in the loving way they all called one another an idiot- and say she'd disappointed him. In fact, she probably thought right this second he was plotting to put her somewhere to do something else and scrap dancing completely.
Good lord, he'd made so many mistakes with her. Damn it if he wouldn't do his very best to not make any more! Mycroft quickly closed the space between them, turned Rose around, and wrapped her in a strong embrace. He hugged her as tightly as he dared and felt a wave of relief when she relaxed and hugged him in return.
"Don't say another word," he told her sternly. "I don't ever want to hear you speak in that way again. Woe be unto you if you do. You have it all wrong, Poppet. So very, very wrong." This last bit he whispered into her ear.
"They'll be alright now," Sherlock whispered to John. "Let's give them a bit of space. Mycroft hates having an audience when he's sentimental." When John nodded his agreement, the two men wandered off down the hallway a ways.
"I'm as far from disappointed as a man can possibly be," Mycroft said sincerely. "You were… wonderful. Very, very impressive, far better
than I'd even imagined. I enjoyed seeing you compete today and am immensely proud of you. You have such talent! Not only to perform the dances but to choreograph them for not only yourself, but your partner too? That's immensely impressive."
Rose looked up at him and brushed away tears from her face. "You mean that? Truly? You're not disappointed, not even that I didn't win? And you won't make me be a lawyer or some other truly awful profession that I'll be bored at forever and ever?"
Mycroft shook his head. "No, certainly not. I'm so very proud of you. You really were wonderful, I could hardly believe it. Sherlock kept looking at me as though I were an idiot for not having seen this the whole time. He's right, not that I'll give him the satisfaction of knowing that. And you'd best not tell him."
"I won't, promise," Rose hurriedly assured him. "But honestly, you mean that? You're proud?"
"You placed, and there was significant talent out there. Not only did you place, but you took second and were only a single point behind the winners. That's marvelous poppet, don't you see that?" Mycroft asked.
"No. The first thing I thought was how disappointed in me you must be," Rose admitted. "But I tried not to let it show."
"It didn't," he said soothingly. "You smiled and kept that smile on your face and held out your hand in congratulations to the winners. That made me most proud of all. It was actually quite a relief. I thought to myself, thank god, somewhere along the way I managed to do something right."
She started crying all over again and Mycroft cringed. "What? What did I say wrong now? I was being truthful and I thought they were nice truths," he pointed out.
"They were!" Rose exclaimed. "I'm crying because I'm so happy I made you proud! I can't remember the last time I did!"
There weren't words for him to respond to that, so Mycroft didn't even try. Instead, he hugged her tighter and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. After a moment or so, he took his handkerchief out and gave it to her. "Dry your face now. No more tears, happy or sad, they're all done."
She took it and wiped her wet face, then blew her nose into it. "Oh, sorry. I'll wash it," Rose offered when she caught the look on his face.
"Oh yes you will wash it. That's disgusting!"
"That's what handkerchief's are for."
"For my nose, not yours. And don't you even think about handing it back to me!" Mycroft scolded.
"Sherlock's right, you're as much of a drama queen as he and I are," Rose decided.
Rose smiled and shrugged. "Perhaps. But I'm your impertinent brat."
Mycroft returned her smile, almost overcome by an urge to ruffle her curls like he had when she was little. Except she wasn't little anymore and he'd likely get injured for his troubles. "That you are indeed. Now let's find Sherlock and John and do some celebrating. The kind that does not involve "getting smashed.""
She cringed. "I was totally kidding around with Louise. We'd never do that."
Her eldest brother rolled his eyes in that oh-so-dramatic way only Mycroft could. "You're a horrible liar, Rose."
"I'm perfectly old enough to drink! The law says!" Rose shouted.
"The law hasn't seen you drunk. I have, and it was not pretty. You can't hold your liquor and you know it," Mycroft scolded. "And don't think I didn't find out what you did that night you disappeared when you were sixteen and I had half of London's police searching for you."
Her jaw dropped and Rose looked completely outraged. "Sherlock promised he wouldn't tell!"
"Lestrade made no such promise," Mycroft told her with a smirk.
"I'm going to kill him," Rose decided.
Down the hall, Sherlock smiled at the sound of their raised voices.
"Why are you smiling? They're fighting," John pointed out, looking confused.
"They are. But it's the good kind."
The doctor looked even more puzzled now. "There's a good kind of fighting?"
Sherlock rolled his eyes and gave a dramatic sigh. "John, of course there is. The kind with smiles and feigned outrage; somewhere between playful banter and the outright tossing of insults. It means they're all sorted out now."
John gaped at his flatmate, unable to formulate a coherent response for a full minute. "How in god's name did she end up so normal? Someone please explain that to me, because otherwise I'm just going to assume it was fluke."
"She was a fluke," Sherlock responded seriously. "Completely unplanned and accidental. But I can honestly say she's the best fluke that ever happened. Mycroft and I would have killed each other by now if it wasn't for her. Don't think I'm not serious either. He's insufferable."
"And you, in contrast, are all that is wonderful, I suppose?"
"Sherlock!" Rose called as she and Mycroft made their way towards them. "Tell Mycroft there's no reason in the world why I can't drink like every other normal person of legal drinking age."
"That's not a serious request. It can't possibly be," Sherlock decided, giving her a look. "Even you know you can't hold your liquor."
"I can in moderation!"
"I'm not convinced you even understand the meaning of that word," Mycroft added. "We're celebrating gentlemen. The drinks are for adults only."
"I'm an adult! I'm twenty in a few weeks!" Rose whined.
Mycroft's eyebrow quirked. "Also debatable. Don't think I can't, or won't, flag your identification so no one will serve you anything anywhere for the next decade."
John laughed. No one else did. "You're serious? You can do that?"
"Oh John," Rose sighed. "Haven't you figured out by now that there's very little Mycroft can't do? Sure is fun winding him up about the booze though." She gave him a devilish grin.
"Horrid child," Mycroft decided, giving her ear a good tug and smirking when she made a whining noise.
"Makes you want a puppy instead, doesn't it?" Sherlock asked with a smirk.
"Don't be smart Sherlock. I'm the smart one. Besides, I'd still replace you with a puppy any day. I'm invested in her, mores the pity."
Rose sighed happily, linking her arms through those of her brothers. "We're so dysfunctional, but isn't it lovely?" she asked no one in particular.
Later that evening, the trio returned to Baker Street following a celebratory dinner. Rose followed John and Sherlock into their flat and curled up on the couch to watch a movie and, in short order, fell asleep.
"How do you like that- 'We have to watch a movie, come on, let's watch a movie, oh please let's watch a movie'," he said, mimicking Rose. "And ten minutes in she's asleep." Sherlock looked down at her fondly as she slept snuggled up to his side.
"Not surprising," John countered, settling into his own chair with a cup of tea. "She's had a big day, a long day, and probably didn't sleep that much last night, even after her anxiety attack passed."
"It was odd, seeing her like that," Sherlock admitted. "Disturbing and rather unexpected. It had been quite some time since she'd had one; at least as far as I know."
"Is that what you and Mycroft were discussing this morning after we arrived?" John had excused himself to use the restroom and come back to find the brothers in a somewhat heated conversation which stopped the moment they spotted him.
"Yes. He's almost always the cause of those panic attacks. She can't bear the thought of him being disappointed in her," Sherlock explained. "So I… strongly suggested Mycroft be gentle with her today, no matter what the outcome might be."
"Strongly suggested?" John chuckled. "He looked ready to explode for a few seconds."
Sherlock shrugged. "Condition normal. He was upset that I was right; hates that more than anything."
"What went wrong between them? If you don't mind my asking," John added, not wanting to pressure Sherlock to open up about family business if he wasn't inclined to do so.
"Mostly Mycroft. He did his best to make her miserable, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because he believed it was the right thing to do," Sherlock began. "Rose had some tough years, around age 14, and Mycroft didn't handle it well. Some of it was my fault. Well, probably a lot of it. But he should have handled things better. Less spanking, less shouting, more attempts to understand what was wrong.
"She spent the last three years, before she left, trying to make it up to him for behaving so poorly and never seemed able to measure up. That's when the panic attacks started. She was always worried she'd disappoint him even further and got herself all worked up about it on a fairly regular basis. They abated a bit before she left, mostly because I think she stopped caring. Gave up trying to please Mycroft. He was… particularly unyielding."
John nodded. "So you wanted to make certain that he wouldn't respond with disappointment if she didn't win?"
Sherlock nodded. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for her. Challenging Mycroft is easy enough, and it forced them to heal some of the wounds of the past, so it worked out well. That sort of thing is very important to her." He smiled down at Rose again, brushing a few stray curls from her face.
Rose stirred just a bit, opening her eyes for a moment before closing them again.
"Rose, you should get up and go to bed," Sherlock said, trying to nudge her awake.
"I'm not going to sit and attempt to interpret your sleepy talk," Sherlock replied. "It's bedtime." When he received no response, he rolled his eyes and stood up from the couch before picking her up. "Get the doors, will you John? I'm going to throw her in bed."
An eyebrow quirked. "Not actually throw her, right?"
"Don't be any more of an idiot then you have to be John," Sherlock respond with a long-suffering sigh.
Shaking his head, John unlocked Rose's door and held it open so Sherlock could carry her inside. John followed him into the bedroom and pulled back the bed covers, then stepped out of the room, but didn't leave.
Sherlock carefully tucked Rose into bed, smiling all the while. He never got to tuck her in anymore and that was always one of his favorite parts of being her big brother. After making certain she was cozy for the night, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Sleep well Rosie," he whispered.
John stood in the doorway, watching the scene unfold in front of him, and grinned like an idiot. It was always so refreshing to see Sherlock be so human.
His flatmate, however, was less than pleased to discover John had been standing there watching him tuck Rose in. "Not a word, John Watson. Not one," he grumbled as they left Rose's flat.
"Morning!" Rose called out cheerfully when she entered showed up for breakfast. John handed her a cup of coffee and was promptly rewarded with a hug.
"You're rather cheerful this morning," John commented.
"Frightening isn't it? I slept so well! I should exhaust myself more often," Rose mused. "Or not; heavens John, don't look at me like that. You'll make me cranky." She took several long drinks of her coffee and sighed contentedly before putting the mug down.
"Sherlock, you didn't say good morning," she commented, coming around the kitchen table to give him a hug.
"Good morning. Busy. Go away."
Rose rolled her eyes but dutifully moved three feet away, just as she had when she was little. "I'll not ask what you're doing, because it's undoubtedly boring or icky."
Sherlock ignored her.
"Well I didn't really come to have a conversation with you Sherlock. I just wanted to let you know that Louise and I are going out after I get done at the Yard and I haven't a clue when I'll come home," Rose told him.
Again, no response from Sherlock.
"Where are you two off to?" John asked with a smile.
"Around. I think we're going to get tattoos or pierce something today," she responded absent mindedly.
John promptly choked on his tea. "Sorry?"
Rose gave him a smile. "A tattoo or get something pierced. Just because we feel like it. We feel like reinventing ourselves."
"There's not another, less permanent way to do that?" John asked incredulously.
"Louise said it's my birthday present because it's almost my birthday! Isn't that nice? Maybe I'll get one over the scar on my chest to sort of cover it up!"
She looked so excited about it that John didn't have the heart to tell her it was a bad idea. Besides, he wasn't her brother. "Sherlock, did you hear that? Rose is getting a tattoo or piercing something. Today. After work."
"Mmhm, that's fine," the man at the microscope replied.
John's eyebrows went up. He completely disagreed with the pronouncement that it was 'fine!'
Rose grinned and closed the distance between herself and Sherlock, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "You're a marvelous brother, you know that? He's the fun brother," she told John proudly.
"Rose, do go away now. I'm working," Sherlock muttered in an irritated tone. "Surely there's a more opportune time for sentiment than this very one."
Just to irritate him, she gave him a hug before Rose downing the last of her coffee and dashing out the door, leaving the two men in the kitchen.
"Sherlock, did you hear anything at all that your sister said?" John asked curiously. Not even Sherlock was likely to agree to what Rose and Louise had planned; fun brother or not!
The detective finally looked up. "Can I really not have any peace at all while I'm working? What is so important that it's worth interrupting me John?!"
"Oh, nothing," his flatmate answered, almost laughing at the look of pure irritation on Sherlock's face. He almost couldn't wait for Rose to come back later on with her tattoo or piercing and see Sherlock's response.
Rose arrived at NSY seven minutes early with the morning coffee in hand for herself and Lestrade. Only this morning, things were a little different. She entered Lestrade's office through the open door, set his macchiato on his desk, and promptly walked back out.
Lestrade, who had been filling out some forms on his computer, caught her movements out of the corner of his eye. That was decidedly odd. Rose always plopped into one of the chairs in front of his desk to chat for a few minutes and he'd expected a rundown of her competition the day before, not the silent caffeine delivery he'd received.
That was when Lestrade noticed his macchiato. It was a small. Probably the smallest small he'd ever seen in his life. Something was definitely up. "You! In here!" he called, hoping Rose knew he meant her.
He frowned slightly when she sauntered in and sat down. "Problem?" she asked, trying to look innocent as she took a seat.
Greg wasn't buying it for a minute. "Care to explain what this is?" he indicated the offensively small drink on his desk.
Rose shrugged. "It's a macchiato. Though possibly not caramel, it might be hazelnut. Not sure."
Greg found himself growing more confused by the minute. "But I never get hazelnut, I don't like it."
She shrugged again. "Wasn't paying much attention. You'll have to drink it and see."
Alright, perhaps she hadn't been paying attention to the flavor. "Why is it so… small?"
It took everything Rose had in her not to erupt into hysterical giggles. He looked so utterly dejected at the small size of his beloved drink. "I felt it was deserved."
"I felt it was deserved," she repeated.
"Meaning I've done something wrong and so you downsized my macchiato as retribution?" Greg asked, unable to hide the exasperation in his tone. "Do you Holmes lot ever do anything that's not full of some sort of twisted subtext?"
"Very good Greg!" Rose praised, beaming a little too brightly at him. "And very rarely. We love our subtexts, us Holmeses."
He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Want to tell me what I did, or are you going to make me puzzle it out? Or rather, pull it out of you. Maybe I should call Sherlock and he could clue me in."
Rose rolled her eyes. "That's low; so low."
"Well my macchiato is little; so little," Lestrade shot back, imitating her. "And I want to know why."
Rose struggled to keep a straight face at his ridiculous impersonation of her, and the fact they were arguing over a macchiato. "Think hard; see if you can figure out why I would deprive you of your full dose of morning caffeine."
His eyebrows rose. "We're seriously going to do this? Sit here and play 20 questions? Not all of us have mind palaces."
"Oh I know that. I don't have one," she admitted, garnering a look of surprise from Lestrade. "Mine's more of a cottage I think. Maybe a yellow one, or pink, depending on my mood."
"Alright, this has crossed over into ridiculousness," Greg decided. "Will you please tell me? Can't have been anything recently, you've behaved yourself lately."
"Surprising isn't it?" Rose asked, giggling a bit. "I'll put you out of your misery. You tattled on me to Mycroft."
"I did? When?" Deciding he didn't have nearly enough caffeine in his system to continue this conversation, Lestrade took a drink of his offensively small drink.
"That night I went missing and everyone was out looking for me. Sherlock promised he wouldn't tell Mycroft where I'd been and what I'd been up to and he didn't. Only Mycroft does know, he told me yesterday, and says you told him."
"Was I not supposed to tell him?"
"Of course you weren't supposed to!"
"No one told me that. Besides, I'm an officer of the law and he was your legal guardian, I couldn't legally not tell him."
"But Sherlock knew, surely that was good enough! Or so I'm told, I don't actually remember most of that night," she admitted, blushing.
"Probably better. You were in rather rough shape. Sherlock had to physically haul you out of the marijuana haze in that warehouse. Not a bright move for a sixteen year old; or anyone for that matter. But you were under age, your guardian asked and I was required to tell him. Did he torture you or something?"
"Of course not, don't be silly. But he never forgets anything and that just adds to my repertoire of poor choices," Rose admitted. "So I was disgruntled and decided to just get you a little drink today. Mostly so I'd feel better."
Greg rolled his eyes. "You're a troublemaker, Rose Holmes."
"Yep," she agreed, grinning. "Anyway, I suppose I forgive you, if you really were forced to tell him. Try not to tell him anything else from now on, alright?"
"Why? What sorts of mischief do you have planned?" Lestrade asked. "Should I be concerned?"
Rose looked positively mischievous. "Who can say, really?"
"But I'll get a proper sized macchiato tomorrow?"
"You're as bad as I am with my coffee," she laughed. "Yes, I promise you'll get a proper sized one tomorrow."
Greg chuckled, shaking his head at the whole situation. "Your poor brothers. You gave them a run for their money, didn't you?"
"You have no idea, Greg!"
"Let's keep it that way. Now be a good girl and go get to work; no more sass out of you!" he waved her out of the office with a smile on his face. When Rose was settled at her desk, he pulled out his mobile.
'Your sister is hilarious.'
'She punished me with a tiny coffee for something 4 yrs ago.'
'Probably deserved it. SH'
'I don't suggest you retaliate in similar fashion. She's mean when she doesn't get her coffee. SH'
'What did you do, exactly? SH'
'Tattled, apparently. She really is a funny kid.'
'We sort of like her. In those rare moments of quiet. SH'
'I hope she gives you as much trouble as you give me. You deserve it.'
'No reason to be surly Graham. I'm not the one who gave you tiny coffee. SH'
'No, this is Sherlock. Are you quite well? SH'
'Or was that sent to me mistakenly when it was meant for someone else? SH'
'No, I'm Greg. Not Graham or any other name you come up with.'
'Close enough. SH'
'You enjoy toying with me, that's why you do it.'
'I have to have some recourse for handling boredom between cases. SH'
'Send me a case and I might remember next time. SH'
Lestrade rolled his eyes, pocketed his mobile and turned his attention back to his computer. Sherlock was going to be the death of him one of these days, and he suspected Rose wasn't far behind. Instinctively he knew that he didn't stand a chance and could only chuckle.