This is me pondering the implications of some of the comments Mycroft and Sherlock made about their background in the most recent Season 3 Episode, "The Empty Hearse." Basically it sounds like their first experience of other kids coms very late-late for Sherlock, extremely late for Mycroft. Trying to work through how that might happen, and what the implications are. So this is backstory and speculation.
Miss Flanagan looked at the two teachers seated at the round table. Mabel Green had a mug of coffee clutched in her hands, and a look of suppressed worry just barely contained on her face. Alexie Gulyarin was almost as upset, but in a sort of anguished way. Neither was going to win the Happy Teacher of the Year Award, from the looks of things. Not that Miss Flanagan could blame the poor things. Mabel had been teaching at Eccort School for over thirty years; Ally for almost twenty. They were two of the best teachers Miss Flanagan had: steady wheel horses who could field practically anything the great world chose to throw at them. But there were limits.
Miss Flanagan sighed, and built herself a cup of tea from the station set up against the wall. Very strong, very sweet, enough lemon to qualify as hot lemonade. She was going to need fortification. When it was done she grabbed the mug and the two files she'd brought with her to supplement the material the two teachers had brought. She sat down, letting the files splat on the worn, comforting oak of the round table.
"Well," she said, calmly. "About the Holmes boys. They're having trouble settling in, I see."
If glares could scorch, her hair would have been alight. She gave a crooked smile. "Oh, come on, ladies. We knew it was going to be a rough ride going in."
"Rough? I don't know if I want to kill the parents, the boys, the other kids…or run around wiping noses and patting shoulders and saying 'there-there' to everyone," Mabel growled. "This is obscene."
"Again, we knew that going in," Miss Flanagan said. She flipped open the two files and perused them. Not that there was anything there she didn't already know. "It's not like the poor things could go on the way they were."
Both teachers shuddered.
"No," Ally agreed. "Bad enough for the younger one. But at least he's not that far from the normal age to start school. Poor Mycroft, though. If I thought it would do him any good, I swear I'd report his parents to social services. He's twelve, Flan. Twelve years old, and this is his first time really dealing with any child outside his own family. His entire social world is adults—and Sherlock. And the result is just what you'd expect. He's got all the natural instinct for this that an emu does for deep water exercises. And do you have any idea what a pack of twelve-year-old boys will do to a child like that?"
"It's not that much better for Sherlock," Mabel snapped. She was protective of her littles, and Sherlock needed every bit of protection she could summon up. "The only other child he knows is his brother-lanky silence. He doesn't know how to talk about anything but real things: small talk doesn't exist for him. And he's got a temper like napalm and apparently no experience providing his own control: from the little I can see, his brother's been acting as his monitor and control all his life. God knows, none of the rest of us know how to clue him in he's gone over the line. Oh, and thanks for sending Mycroft down Tuesday, Ally. I know it's wrong to pull the boy out of class to play Mummy to Sherlock, but I honestly didn't know what was going to happen if someone didn't rein him in. Billy Sawyer had told him he was stupid, and, well….when verbal proofs didn't work, Sherlock just started losing it."
"They have their own language, you know," Ally said. "I mean, a real, fully developed language. I've been reading about that sort of thing. It's hardly even known except in twins… But there it is. The boys can go on for an hour and it's obvious it's meaningful. It's like they've been raised on a desert island."
"Might as well have been," Miss Flanagan said. "You know the background. Parents traveled. Nice enough, and I will say they made sure the boys were cared for and educated. But they never experienced anything outside that frame of private life with no stable home…and what they do know outside that, they got second hand from books, mostly."
"Sherlock is more familiar with the social customs of the Inuit than those of Surrey, that's for sure," Mabel said, sadly. "He was explaining how to chew seal skin to make it supple the other day. Knowledge I'm sure he's going to need in his coming life…"
"Mycroft's a bit better, but again, it's all grownup manners. He's a perfect little gentleman, God help him. The last thing he needs to be at the age of twelve in a boy's boarding school…"
Miss Flanagan frowned. "We've had them four months, now. Do you ladies see any progress? At all?"
"Sherlock doesn't scream when people disagree with him anymore. At least…not as often. Now he just tells them they're stupid. No—I take that back. He's begun experimenting with ways to tell them they're stupid that they won't understand, so he can tell them they're stupid about that, too."
"Nggg. Not good."
Mabel shrugged. "Actually, it's progress. He's beginning to fight back—and even starting to play with it. Non-optimal, but…better than nothing. And he loves the chance to make it a show. He may not understand people, but he does love showing off for them. Little drama bug. He's at least getting that out of his socialization."
Miss Flanagan looked at Ally. "And Mycroft?"
Ally brooded. "Harder to say. He's so quiet. He's got a touch of that drama kick Sherlock has, but not as wide—and I swear, the only audience he's used to showing off for is Sherlock. He doesn't know what to make of the other boys. Flan, if you want the truth, I think he's terrified. Not that he'll show it. It's…probably just as well Sherlock's here, though: if he didn't have baby brother to look after and show off to, I think he might just fall apart. He's too proud to fail his brother, and too desperate to protect him, so he doesn't give up. But he's so close. A bit older and I'd be putting him on our suicide watch list if it weren't for Sherlock."
"Put him on any way," Miss Flanagan said, firmly. "I don't care what reasons you can come up with to avoid it, with these two I want every effort made to keep them safe. So—you think we shouldn't separate the boys more than we already have? Different forms, different dorms?"
"It might be better for Sherlock, though it's a tough call," Mabel said. "He's too used to having Mycroft to fall back on. But it sounds like it would be a disaster for Mycroft…and disaster for Mycroft would be a disaster for Sherlock, in the end."
"It would destroy Mycroft right now," Ally agreed. "That's another thing. I swear, whatever else he didn't know before, he suspected he was…different. I have a bad feeling he suspected he was a monster. He told me the other day he'd never been with real children before, and it set off every warning alert I had. A monster watching over a littler monster…and a lot of his ego's tied up in taking care of baby brother. I'm not sure he thinks he's got a thing to offer but brains and caretaking."
"Sherlock's only got brains. But…I will say, he thinks brains are everything, and he seems to be having some fun finding he's the smartest kid in the room." Mabel grinned. "You should see him at things like timed tests. He's so excited to be first every time. Not that it's winning him friends, but, damn, he loves it! It's like a whole new world to him."
"Well—he spent almost six years alone with Mycroft. Of course it's a revelation. I'm not sure how you test for pure caliber of intelligence at their level—they're off the charts even for Eccort, and we do 'gifted and talented.' I do know that age alone gives Mycroft an astronomical edge. For Sherlock it's got to be like getting a promotion from dunce to genius in one swift move." Miss Flanagan smiled, glad to know at least the younger boy was thriving in one sense.
"He's so thrilled," Mabel said. "I think for him it's making up for a lot of the difficulty fitting in. It's not a social skill, but at least it's rewarding."
"Anything else for him?"
"Make sure we get him in with Don Klum, for violin. He's fair as it is, and he adores it. That will be another consolation. If he's got to go through this, he needs all the rewards we can build in."
Miss Flanagan nodded, and made a note of it. "Don will be delighted. We don't' get many that young who have the desire, but the young ones learn so well." She turned to Ally. "And Mycroft. Any consolations for him?"
Ally grimaced. "Not a lot. Flan, I honestly think he's a bit old to fit in. My own take? Give him books, give him space, give him—grownups. Mentors. Men, if possible. He seems shy of women. Joe Stannard says he likes history. I thought maybe Joe could come up with something he could help out with. Research a section for next year's classes. Make him feel he's useful. But don't expect him to fit in with the other boys. If you want my opinion, it will be a miracle if he comes out of Eccort with one real, good friend. Maybe in uni, when he's older and the other boys are, too. He may blossom, there. He's got one thing over Sherlock, besides brains: he's got grownup manners, and they're instinctive for him. It hurts at this age, but it's a blessing when you're older. The only kid I've ever seen him act like a kid with, is Sherlock."
All three women started to giggle. "Oh, God. Together they're such a hoot, aren't they?" Mabel said, sniggering. "Did you hear them go off on the spotted dick at lunch the other day?"
"I wanted to record it and send it to Benny Hill," Ally laughed. "Who knew Mycroft could get ten minutes comic material out of pudding?"
"They do have senses of humor," Miss Flanagan said, pondering. "It may save them. It's hard to give up when you can still laugh."
"Acid laughter, sometimes," Mabel said, soberly. "Sherlock comes up with things so black I'd find them cynical in an eighty-year-old."
"Mycroft, too," Ally agreed. "Dark, dark humor, sometimes. Gallows humor."
"The parents already have them in counseling," Miss Flanagan pointed out. "That may help."
"Won't," Mabel said. "Not a chance," Ally agreed. They looked at each other, then back at Miss Flanagan. "Too smart," Mabel said. "Neither one's going to listen to anyone stupider than they are, at this age. It's going to take those two years to realize that there are other kinds of intelligence…and they may never understand that some people have emotional intelligence."
All three sighed.
"I was going to ask," Miss Flanagan said, "Do we suggest the parents send them somewhere else?"
"Where else?" Ally asked. "We're small, we're private, we're focused on gifted and talented, and for better or worse, we're largely boarding: they're at least experiencing immersion. The parents aren't going to come up with a better choice."
"Is it better for us if we send them on their way, though?"
Both teachers glared at Miss Flanagan. The answer was in their eyes; they didn't give a sweet damn what was good for the school in this instance. They thought the school was better for the two Holmes boys.
"They're going to look back on this period of their lives and hate us," Miss Flanagan pointed out. "Even if we do them some good, the memories are going to be awful."
"Can't help that," Ally said, jaw firm and eyes steely. "You're not sending Mycroft away without me fighting. He's a…" She sighed. "'Sweet' is probably not the right word. But I like the little dweeb."
"And Sherlock's a riot, if we don't' kill him for being a prat," Mabel agreed. "We keep 'em. We give 'em what we can. We pray they do better in uni—and that they leave Oxbridge standing when they're done."
And so three ceramic mugs clicked together, and three sets of files were gathered up, and three professional educators proceeded to develop long-term game plans for the education and socialization of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. And the first of the boys' guardian angels came into play. They would never meet Mycroft's mentors in MI6. They'd never meet Greg Lestrade. They'd never know John Watson or gossip over tea and biccies with Mrs. Hudson. But if they had, they've have bought those angels a drink—angel to angel, in shared respect for anyone who helped their little lost Holmes Boys.