Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sherlock

Sherlock is discharged two o'clock in the afternoon. He wonders vaguely why John has not been to visit, but reserves no right to be surprised. That John would end things with Mary is preposterous. Granted, she is a compulsive liar, and Sherlock has long since deduced that her background is far from clean, let alone legal. A substantial amount of her mannerisms and traits hint at a repulsively convoluted past which would barely take a rudimentary computer hack to uncover.

But he will not do that to John, ever.

Mycroft meets him in the parking lot. Staff insists on depositing Sherlock in a wheelchair and pushing him out the door, despite his best efforts to escape and walk independently to the car. When he finally slides into the front passenger seat, Mycroft is smirking at him.

"What?" he asks defensively.

"You couldn't have changed out of the hospital gown, then?"

"It is rich of you, Mycroft, to criticize my sense of style when you run amok in that horrifically fitted workout attire, making blatantly obvious the fact that you are still unable to resist the mere aroma of cheap icing and store-bought cake mix –"

"You're clearly back to normal."

Sherlock resists the urge to cross his arms like a surly child. Instead, "I don't suppose you've heard from him?"

Mycroft's mouth tightens at the corners. "I have not, in fact, heard from him."

A sinking feeling. The itch of imminent anger nudging the corner of his brain. Think. Voice: steady. Indifferent. "Mycroft."

Mycroft drums his fingers on the steering wheel. "Sherlock." If he thinks that Sherlock does not know him well enough to have the inflections of his voice and their implications memorized, then he is tragically misguided. He's done something. He's overstepped his boundaries.

"What did you do?"

"It is none of your affair."

Sherlock's hands begin trembling. In a sudden, nearly unanticipated rage (you should've known) he lunges halfway across the dash. Mycroft's elbow swings up and makes contact with his nose simultaneously, before Sherlock can seize the wheel.

"Temper, temper," Mycroft says, once he has righted the car and Sherlock is settling back into the seat – nose sore, but thankfully unbroken – chest heaving with emotion and frustration and some level of weakness. His pulmonary functions still leave much to be desired.

"I asked you to stay out of this," Sherlock hisses through gritted teeth. "If you did something..."

"I act only in your best interest."

"Sometimes I doubt that."

"This is life. It's not as easy as winning a round of chess –"

"Oh?" Sherlock raises an eyebrow. "I'm afraid you're mistaken."

"This isn't a game –"

"You are mistaken, not in your statement, but in the assumption that I have not realized this sooner. I have, to everyone's utmost shock, gleaned a degree of knowledge in light of... in light of him." They are both skirting the name, using only the pronoun, as if that will soften the blow.

"I understand that you –"

Sherlock wants none of it, will have none of it. He is far too exhausted to deal with this, far too emotionally compromised to address such an investigation, and far too raw to face the realities and repercussions of his brother's actions. "Perhaps it is not a game," Sherlock says menacingly, "but now" – he doesn't bother hiding the murderous gleam that he's confident has crept into his gaze – "now, Mycroft, you are going to watch me win."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mycroft

Impatience is not one of Mycroft's default emotions. In fact, he considers himself rather patient, often waiting as long as a month before cleaning up Sherlock's messes. Of course he plans ahead, makes arrangements, and all that's left is to give the green light, but he still waits.

Except for the incident. Arriving at the scene and seeing his brother's coat rippling in the water like an inconsequential strip of seaweed shot more terror into his heart than he ever could have imagined possible. It had been with pounding pulse and tunnel vision that he dove into the water, disregarding the temperature or low hum of incoming helicopters or anything but Sherlock being a fucking idiot and oh god if he lost him. Patience was not an advantage in that scenario, anyway.

But in general, he is a patient man.

Now, though. Now is another exception.

He is done watching Sherlock pine away, watching John justify his marriage to Mary, watching this whole affair fall to pieces. Done.

And so he plants the USB in John's computer.

On it, to be precise. With a sticky note. It's about time. MH. Mary's initials – her real ones – carved into the harsh vinyl case.

Sherlock texts him as he's rooting around the cupboard for biscuits.

Where are you? SH

Work.

Illegal? SH

He did not break and enter, per se. "Borrowing without consent" may be the politically correct term for the manner in which he acquired the key; however, he most certainly hasn't done anything explicitly against the law.

No.

They want to discharge me tomorrow. I despise being forced to make this request more than you know. SH

Yes, I'll pick you up. Don't trust cabbies?

It has transpired that they do not cater to hospital patients who also happen to be esteemed consulting detectives. I called to check. SH

None of them would take you.

Essentially, yes. SH

Tsk tsk. I do hope you weren't rude and abrasive.

Those are the precise words that the nurse used when she overheard our conversation. Uncanny. Am I generally rude and abrasive? SH

...

Piss off. Will see you at 2pm tomorrow. Goodbye. SH

Mycroft sighs and tosses his phone on the kitchen table. John is due to return in about half an hour. Suddenly feeling sick, he abandons his search for sweets and wanders into the living room, where the USB is resting on the table. Unoffending object, nearly blends in with the color of the laptop. A.G.R.A. Mycroft shudders involuntarily.

He is doing this all for Sherlock. John's too weak to break up with Mary, not without a decent reason – by his definition, of course; being in love with someone else should be a pretty bloody valid motivator for splitting, in Mycroft's humble opinion – and Mary isn't going to expose her dirty little secrets anytime soon. This is the perfect fix. John finds out, Mary is spared the turmoil of confessing, John divorces her, finds Sherlock, and they all live happily ever after. Not to mention that Mycroft can finally wash his hands of this silly project and go deal with Parliament again. Any margin of error is negligible.

He doesn't feel much like returning to his office, not now that he's driven out here, and so he sprawls out on the couch and dozes off.

Twenty-five minutes later, right on schedule, the doorknob rattles. Mycroft slips out through the back.

John

"Thank you, darling, that was a lovely date," Mary says, pecking his cheek. She yawns. "I'm exhausted, though. Mind if I head upstairs for a kip?"

John nods. Good. He doesn't know why he came home in the first place, why he felt compelled to take Mary out to the cinema. Guilt? Impossible, when he's being such a coward about all of this.

It's just that he's never been the type of person to cause unnecessary trouble. He has only ever ended things when a logical, concrete reason presented itself. Distance, an affair, clashing morals, repetitive full-blown quarrels, the like. This mess is difficult enough to wrap his mind around; there is no point in even attempting to create a valid argument out of it.

He meanders into the living room, thinking to reply to a few emails. Reaches for his computer and charger, then stops short.

There's a pale yellow post-it note attached to a USB. Mycroft. Can't be surprised. He knows it was delusional to assume that their conversation in the park would be their last on the matter.

A.G.R.A.

He's got a sneaking suspicion that this has to do with Mary, that the mass of circuit boards and plastic resting in the palm of his hand is the reason he's been looking for. That, pathetically, he needs, because he can't use feelings for Sherlock as an excuse to break someone's heart.

John takes a deep breath and opens his laptop. The screen starts up. He logs in. Thirteen emails. There's no use in trying to resist the temptation: John is beyond weary of this drama. The USB stick is throbbing in his hand.

He inserts it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sherlock

Mycroft walks in, unannounced as per usual, at half past noon. Sherlock barely deigns to glance up, instead committing a diagram of a severed arm to memory.

It is only when his brother fails to spout out an unsolicited opinion that Sherlock looks at him.

He's pale and appears to be fumbling for words. Not a good sign. Sherlock slowly shuts his laptop and waits.

"Have you talked to him?" Mycroft asks in a strangled sort of voice.

Sherlock flinches. "What, in particular, compels you to assume that I would have ever heard from him? You know very well what happened."

"I just thought that perhaps, in light of certain... events, he may have contacted you."

Sherlock carefully lays his computer to the side, then stands up slowly, creeping closer to his brother until they are inches apart. "What have you done?" he whispers, adrenaline pumping.

"Please do not –"

Sherlock feels himself spin out of control as he snarls, "You fucked up. Fucked up, Mycroft. Don't even try to convince me otherwise. Were you not unfortunately a blood relative of mine, I would have already stripped you of your assets. Let me make this very clear: your unasked-for involvement in my life is unacceptable, despicable, and wholly repulsive."

"It was a simple question. I've got my answer. He hasn't spoken to you. Fine, fine. Good." Mycroft edges his way around Sherlock. "I have an important meeting now."

He's only halfway to the door when Sherlock seizes him by the collar and shoves him roughly against the wall. "You will tell me," the detective says dangerously. He is suffocating inside a haze of anger injected with terror. "You will." Glare at Mycroft, fingernails digging into the cloth of his shirt. "You will."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

John

John is incensed. Mycroft sits across from him, hands clasped, voice held carefully even.

"I thought it was time you knew. Even in your emotionally vulnerable state, you must have some understanding that I was obligated to take desperate measures. You weren't doing much for anybody."

"I didn't think – fucking hell, Mycroft. I didn't think it would be this. A few affairs, DUIs, maybe. This? An assassin? Why would you do that? Why would you ever –?"

"You needed a concrete reason to divorce Mary. I merely provided one."

"Nearly three hundred pages of hit lists and transcripts of interrogations and meetings and blackmail does not qualify as –"

"Then tell me this, John. When, how, and why were you planning to break up with her?"

"I would've come up with a plan –"

Mycroft shakes his head. "No. You would never have been able to tell her. This? This is understandable. This is reason for anyone to truncate a relationship."

"She could go to jail. Do you realize that? She could to go to effing jail and I could report her and –"

"Are you going to?" Mycroft fixes him with a steely gaze. "Report her?"

"It's the bloody law, isn't it?"

He leans back in his chair calmly. "The law has no way of knowing what you know. You can easily play dumb."

Unbelievable. John is going to headbutt him, just as soon as he's done shouting. "You meddled in my life, you broke into my home, you handed over a shitload of incriminating information about my wife that will invariably screw us both over in the long run, and you're suggesting that I play dumb?"

"Yes. Don't be a dunce, John."

John manages to produce a sound somewhere between that of a strangled cat and a dying whale.

Mycroft sighs, as if John is being some sort of tiresome drama queen. "So you've ended things with her?"

Christ. He's about to get punched in the face. John braces himself, then answers meekly, "No."

Mycroft doesn't punch him. Instead, he gets up and begins pacing. Thirty seconds go by.

"I guess I should explain, then...?"

Silence.

"I mean, I already explained."

Nothing. Mycroft's shoes don't even make a sound as they pad back and forth across the carpet.

"I'm sorry?"

Nada.

John pushes a hand through his hair, suppressing the urge to leap out the nearest window. "I'm sorry that I fucked up, okay? I know I did. I know. You've got no idea how much I love your brother. Neither does he, for that matter. I just – I couldn't do this to Mary. I couldn't break her heart. I couldn't –"

"Yet you had no hesitation breaking his."

"It's – different –"

Mycroft whirls around, stares him straight in the eye. "How so? Please do enlighten me."

"Er..."

"Precisely." Mycroft spins on his heel and plants himself behind his desk again. Twenty-eight inches of mahogany between him and chaos. Must be nice.

"It's just – well, I'm effing married –"

Mycroft's chin is raised so high in the air that it's about to puncture the ceiling. John is mildly terrified.

"I can't – I love Sherlock –"

Mycroft shuffles a pile of papers. "Mm. Goodbye, John."

What? John does a double take. He knows Mycroft is mental, but this? Dismissing him in the midst of a heated discussion? Heated on his part, that is. Frosty as fuck on Mycroft's.

"We're done here."

"But I –"

Mycroft waves lazily at the door as, right on cue, Anthea arrives. She grabs John by the elbow somewhat apologetically and forcefully removes him from the office, leaving a muttered "sorry, his orders" in her wake.

John hates Mycroft Holmes with a burning passion.

He didn't even get to headbutt him, either.