Savouring the last pain au chocolat with his Breakfast Blend tea and reading all of the available English papers, ten-year old Mycroft Holmes was seated in his favourite chair in the house (Mummy’s really beautiful and comfortable one that, while technically designated as a “lady’s club chair,” had the advantages of being slightly lower to the ground and not as long in the seat as Father’s chairs). He read the papers every day. It was an experiment he’d begun during the long summer vacation from school to see if he could accurately determine the outcome of various events and predict others from reports in the press. He’d even devised his own database and a method of scoring his results. Mycroft was quite pleased to note that changes in his process of observation had resulted in a 347% improvement in his score. He frowned as the thought came that the Labour Party would be doing quite well in the upcoming elections. Mummy and Father did not approve of the Labour Party.
Mycroft made a note on his shirt cuff about a change to his stock portfolio regarding Austin Rover (while technically the account was in Father’s name, it was one that neither Father nor Mummy knew about as Mycroft had long since shifted the start-up funds back to Father’s actual account). There was little chance that he would be caught like those stupid American kids who ran afoul of the SEC by overtly manipulating stock sales through newsletters and the burgeoning electronic bulletin boards. Mycroft’s broker did occasionally question the difference in shares and results between Father’s two portfolios, but Mycroft had deftly handled that by implying the first portfolio was constrained by Father’s government work. The second portfolio was strictly confidential. This had resolved both the questions and any potential indiscretions of his broker.
Mycroft was really quite pleased with the way things were going.
Nanny dashed in wringing her hands with an expression on her face that Mycroft had learned to associate with a crisis regarding his little brother, Sherlock. “What has he done now?” Mycroft asked as he folded the paper in his hand and stood.
Someone had made a small tactical error. While it was true Sherlock Holmes had been told he wasn’t to attend his brother Mycroft’s tenth birthday party, no one had expressly stated that Sherlock wasn’t allowed to observe the party. Besides it was boring stuck in the nursery alone. And it wasn’t fair that he couldn’t come because he was only almost-three. All the other people at the party were old. Some of them were even older than Mummy and Father!
At the moment, Sherlock was hidden behind a curtain trying to keep absolutely still. He’d had to slip into the room that acted as both library and Father’s study because someone was coming down the hall. He’d barely managed to get behind the curtains before two older boys entered it as well. Before Sherlock could decide whether to show himself and demand what the boys were doing in there, taking the what his older brother called the offensive, the boys moved to the window next to him, flung it open, and began smoking.
Apparently, they only had the one cigarette because Sherlock could hear them pass it back and forth, taking long, deep sucks, then holding their breaths for several seconds before slowly releasing the smoke in the general direction of the open window. One of the boys coughed. Some of the smoke drifted to the small pocket behind the curtain tickling Sherlock’s nose. He thought the cigarette stank and he knew Mummy was not going to be happy about the smell in her curtains. Even Father never smoked in the library.
The boy who coughed shifted his weight. His shoe made a distinctive squeak as he said, “Dude, this is good shit.”
The other boy inhaled deeply, held his breath, and after a moment replied, “Yeah. I nicked it from my sister’s boyfriend.” The second boy had the trace of a Scottish accent and a high pitch to his voice.
“He’s going to be pissed when he finds it gone.” The first boy sounded bigger and older with a deeper pitch, and had a solidly upper-class accent.
“Not as pissed as when he finds his fifty quid is gone, too.”
Then both boys broke out into a fit of giggles. Sherlock was trying to hold his breath to avoid the stinky smoke when the library door opened and he heard his brother say, “You aren’t suppose to be in here and you definitely aren’t suppose to be smoking…” There was a pause as Mycroft sniffed before finishing with “…marijuana in here.”
“Piss off, you fat faggot! And take you’re stupid girlfriend with you,” the bigger boy with the squeaky shoes said.
“Really? A fat joke and a sexual epithet? That’s the best you can do?” Mycroft said calmly in that supercilious tone that drove Sherlock mad. Sherlock heard Mycroft and someone smaller cross the room. Mycroft continued, “As for stupid, smoking pot while the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police sits in the next room with a judge, two members of Parliament and a member of the Cabinet staff hardly reeks of superior intellect. You two, on the other hand, do reek of cannabis. You may want to wash before rejoining the party.”
Here the larger boy with the squeaky shoes said something Sherlock didn’t recognize. Judging from the feminine gasp, Sherlock figured it was something he should not say around Mummy or even Nanny, but might try to shock his brother. The smoking boys stomped off with Squeaky Shoes in the lead. As the door closed as loudly and firmly as any door in Mummy’s house was allowed to close, Lady Beatrice “Bunny” Wigglesworth asked, “Should I go get Daddy or someone?”
“No. It would upset Mummy if her party were ruined by… unpleasantness. Why don’t you run along and get a us good seats before the music starts?”
“I hope there’s dancing.”
There was a brief hesitation before Mycroft said, “I’ll be along in a moment. I just want to air out the room a bit.”
Bunny’s footsteps moved away and the door opened and closed once more. There was a beat and then Mycroft said, “Sherlock, you can come out now.”
Another in the young Holmes Brothers series of fanfic.
[Author’s Note: A big Thank You Shout-out to Anne Zanoni, professional copy editor extraordinaire, for sending me all of the corrections to my original post. I fear in school I suffered through all of the various changes in editing style from minimalist journalism to Southern “commas go where you would have a reader pause” technique, so the final result can be rather random. And then there’s my tendency to leave out words or leave in extra words while revising a sentence. *heavy sigh* Thank you, Anne, for your patience and hard work.]
I told you mess with me and I’d write you the longest, high-speed, deduction monolog in the history of television
When People Die They’re Taken To a Special Room
By J. H. Watson ~4,000 words
Sherlock Holmes shifted in his seat and swung his little legs, until his feet in his shiny new shoes kicked the chair in front of him. It made an interesting little “thonk” sound with a slight rasp as the sole slid back down from the wooden back. On the fourth kick, his older brother Mycroft said, “Stop it.”
“No.” Sherlock kicked the chair back again.
“Why should I?” Sherlock asked as he swung his foot out again.
“Because Mummy is looking this way at you and she’s frowning.”
Sherlock dropped his foot and cast a quick glance towards where his mother and father stood, listening to a rather older man with gray hair. Mummy raised an eyebrow at Sherlock and he sat up straight and slipped back against the seat so that he was effectively hidden by the bulk of his older brother. After a moment, Sherlock sighed, slumped a bit and said, “I’m bored.”
“It’s a funeral, Sherlock. It’s not being held for your entertainment. Now sit still and stop fidgeting.”
“Why didn’t we go to the cemetery and see his grave? Nanny says that some cemeteries are so crowded that sometimes when they dig a new grave they find parts of an old body. I might have found a bone or something. That would have been interesting at least.”
“Grandfather was cremated so there won’t be any grave.”
“People are taken to a special room and burned after they are dead.”
“Cool! Are we going to watch them burn Grandfather?”
Sherlock sighed and slumped further so that he was beginning to resemble a little boy melting off the chair. Mycroft sighed as well before saying, “Sit up straight.”
“There’s nothing to do!” Sherlock whined. He’d managed to draw out the last word in a manner that was usually written as “dooooooooooo” but banged his head against his chair back for emphasis causing him to end with an exclamation that turned it into “dooooooo-ow!”
Mycroft glanced at his two-not-quite-three-year-old baby brother. Mycroft was nine-going-on-forty and was actually rather fond of his brother — most of the time. Except now. When Sherlock was acting his age instead of his I.Q.
Mycroft tugged his brother up onto the chair sharply and said, “Look around you. What do you see?”
Mycroft Holmes was trying very hard to pretend that he didn’t feel like a complete boob in his riding clothes sitting atop a stocky pony who looked equally uncomfortable. It had not helped that his little brother, Sherlock, giggled uncontrollably whenever he saw Mycroft in the riding habit.
Mummy, of course, looked like perfection in her riding attire. She was slim, lithe, poised, and there was something about the way she held the riding crop, the small gestures she made with it, the way she occasionally twisted the leather in her gloved hands, that caught not only Mycroft’s attention, but the attention of some of the other boys, particularly the older ones. Certainly the other men in attendance followed her with their eyes.
Most of the other women were also slender and poised, but lacked the quiet confidence, the je nais se quoi as Mycroft’s French tutor put it, that Mummy possessed. Mycroft had heard his father say that Mummy had “an aura of power.” Mycroft had decided that it was good thing to have so he was secretly practicing cultivating it. The cultivation might have gone a bit better without his weedy little brother asking him why he looked like he was constipated.
At the moment, Mycroft felt strongly that the only aura he had, or would ever have where sport was concerned, was the funk of boredom — and sweat. A rivulet crept down his cheek from under his helmet. He fought an urge to wipe it away with his coat sleeve.
The other boys and girls wore their inherently silly riding outfits on their slender, taunt frames with a certain nonchalance. They appeared fit, trim, sporty, secure and relaxed. They were veritable poster children for affluence and influence.
Mycroft suspected he looked more like Lady Beatrice “Bunny” Wigglesworth, the plump, pallid younger daughter of the Earl of Hamilton. Bunny never looked liked she was wearing her riding clothes so much as they were wearing her — and she didn’t fit.
Bunny was the only member of a polo mad family who was actually afraid of all things equine, including her squat, little pony. She always looked as miserable as Mycroft felt. The two were invariably paired at the end of the line up and usually ignored by the others.
Mycroft wasn’t afraid of horses, but he didn’t like them much. He didn’t wish them any particular ill. He was perfectly willing to live and let live provided their lives did not connect with his. And he saw no reason why he should torture one for an hour or more twice a week when he could be spending the time on something valuable like reading the Financial Times or John LeCarré. But Mummy was very pleased that he was Bunny’s partner and encouraged Mycroft to be “helpful” and kind.
He didn’t actually need the encouragement. He rather liked Bunny and she was quite possibly the only friend Mycroft had — or might ever have.
Which would have surprised everyone else if they had known, because Bunny was what the adults euphemistically called “intellectually challenged” and the other students simply called dumb. Mycroft, on the other hand was called “intellectually gifted” by the adults and a “know-it-all” by the other children. “Know-it-all” was the kindest and politest term used, usually because there were adults present.
What no one else seemed to understand was that Bunny was always trying her best. She worked at understanding things. And she really appreciated someone taking the time to explain things to her. The other people Mycroft met didn’t seem to even try to use their brains. It drove him mad. Mummy said his brains were his secret weapon and he could use them to get whatever he wanted.
So far his brains hadn’t gotten Mycroft out of the riding lessons.
Mycroft looked up from his studies as soon as he heard the sound of a chair being pushed across the floor in the hall. He was on his feet the moment he heard the chair creak as weight was placed on the seat and back, but it still wasn’t fast enough to stop Sherlock or the accident. Mycroft arrived just as his little brother had gotten his right foot onto the top shelf of the hall closet and was pulling the rest of him up with his left hand. A chair that had obviously been used to start the ascent stood in front of the open door.
“Sherlock!” Mycroft called out sharply.
Sherlock turned to look over his shoulder at his big brother. They would never know whether the shelf was already loose or it was the stress of the sudden movement combined with the extra weight of a two-year old hanging from it, but the end of the shelf gave way and the boy came down in an avalanche of boxes, toys and sporting equipment. Sherlock bounced once off the chair and then to the hall floor, amidst the detritus still raining down from the cascade started by the collapse of the top shelf.
Mycroft reached his little brother before the last item, an Action Man figure, ricocheted off Mycroft’s shoulder. Mycroft tossed aside the cricket bat, pads, tennis rackets, badminton net and assorted toys until he uncovered his brother lying very still in a very awkward position. Mycroft said very quietly, “Sherlock.” When he got no answer, he called a little louder, “Sherlock?” He’d reached out and touch his brother’s head and his fingers felt damp and sticky. He pulled the hand back and saw blood. He felt for a moment as if his stomach had plunged to his feet and he froze in fear as the limbic portion of his brain seized control. But it was only a moment, no matter that it seemed an hour. Mycroft’s higher level mind quickly regained control and he carefully turned his brother over and was relieved to see his brother breathing with eyes wide open in shocked surprise.
It had all happened in a matter of seconds and by now the noise had brought Nanny on the run and Mummy at a more sedate pace. Nanny pushed Mycroft aside and began fussing over Sherlock with cries of “Oh, poor baby!” and “How many times have I told you not to climb on the furniture?”
Mummy glided to a halt and surveyed the carnage like a general surveying the aftermath of a battlefield. She didn’t have to ask what happened. She rarely did. “Call the doctor, Nanny, and get the car brought around.”
Nanny gently eased Sherlock back down and took off down the stairs. “Don’t run, Nanny. We don’t want another accident,” Mummy ordered. Nanny slowed to a fast march and quickly disappeared.
Mummy looked down at Sherlock and asked, “Can you walk?”
Sherlock flexed his legs. He started to sit up, but as soon as he tried to put weight on his hands, he cried out. Mycroft dropped instantly beside his brother and placed an arm around his waist and helped Sherlock get to his feet. Then Mycroft set Sherlock on the chair and looked at him. Silent tears were coursing down Sherlock’s cheeks. His lower lip trembled as he held out his left hand where two fingers bent at odd angles. He pressed his left arm against his body as if to brace it. Mummy said, “Get a blanket, Mycroft.”
Mycroft didn’t turn around as his baby brother slipped quietly into the room. A moment later, Sherlock put his little two-year old hands on the table and pulled himself up on tiptoes to peer over the edge. “What?”
“My lesson,” Mycroft said as he checked again to make certain he had everything on the list. He checked off each item lined up in front of him on a tray: a bowl of lemons cut in half by Cook, a box of baking soda, a bottle of dishwashing liquid, a measuring cup, a set of measuring spoons, a smaller measuring cup, and a tall, 12 ounce glass.
“Why?” asked Sherlock, bobbing once as he got tired of standing on tiptoe.
“Because I have to finish this assignment for school.”
Mycroft carefully wrote down the title of the experiment, the date, and the time in his workbook. He then wrote down his name as the researcher. He unconsciously chewed the end of his pencil for a moment as he thought about what to write down next.
“So I’ll get a good grade.”
He glanced at his brother who was now bobbing up and down like a jack-in-the-box.
“Because Mummy and Father want me to.”
“So I can get into Eton or Harrow.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Sherlock! Stop bobbing up and down!”
“Here. Sit on this chair. Don’t fall off.”
As Mycroft lifted his brother up and sat him down firmly, Sherlock asked, “Why?”
“Because it will hurt.”
“And don’t ask why because you know exactly why. You bang yourself up enough and I’m the one who always gets in trouble for it.” This was true. Sherlock was sporting a small bandage over his right eyebrow where he’d fallen while trying to climb to the top of the dresser to get to Mycroft’s Action Man figure. Mummy chastised Mycroft for not anticipating the consequences of his actions and leaving the figure where Sherlock could see it. Mycroft considered the consequences of Sherlock wandering out of his sight and said, “So just sit there quietly and you can watch me do a chemistry experiment.”
Sherlock put his sharp little elbows on the table, rested his head on his fist, and automatically asked, “Why?”
“So I can study the chemical reaction of mixing an acid and a base.”
Mycroft sighed. “It’ll be fun. Just watch. Here. I’ll even put you down as my assistant.”
Mycroft wrote in his workbook “Assistant: Sherlock Holmes” and showed it to Sherlock who took the workbook in his hands and stared at it hard before giving it back to Mycroft. Then Mycroft very carefully squeezed the juice of two lemon halves into the smaller measuring cup and carefully recorded the amount in his workbook.
“Because as scientists we have to measure and record everything we do.”
“Because we want to be very accurate.”
Mycroft set the lemon juice aside and picked up the baking soda. “Why?”
“So we can repeat the experiment again.”
“So we can be certain that we get the same results every time.”
“So we know it works. Will you just sit there quietly and watch?”
Mycroft set down the baking soda and looked sternly at his little brother. “Do you want me to have to go explain to Mummy that she has to watch you because Nanny is doing your laundry and you won’t let me finish my lessons?”
Sherlock thought that over for roughly thirty seconds before answering, “No.”
“Okay, then just sit there and watch. Quietly.”
Mycroft now measured out eight grams of the baking soda and placed it in the bottom of the tall glass. He methodically recorded the amount and the action. Next, he measured five milliliters of the dishwashing liquid and place it into the tall glass and stirred the baking soda and the dishwashing liquid together.
“Goo,” announced Sherlock.
“Yes, it is gooey,” agreed Mycroft. “We need to make a note of that in our research log.” He meticulously wrote down the steps and the results in his workbook.
“I already told you why. We need to record everything so that we, or someone else, can follow the same steps and get the same results. It’s called the scientific method, Sherlock.”
“Because it’s the scientific way of finding out answers. And don’t ask why,” Mycroft said cutting off his little brother as he opened his mouth. “Just watch and observe.”
Mycroft picked up the measuring cup of lemon juice. “Now we’ve got our base, the baking soda, in our glass. Watch what happens when we add the lemon juice which is an acid.”
Mycroft proceeded to pour all the lemon juice into the glass. The goo at the bottom fizzed up in an eruption of foam, overflowing and running down the outside. Sherlock’s eyes widened and he giggled with delight.
“The baking soda which is the base combines with the acid, in this case our lemon juice, and they release carbon dioxide which is a gas. The soap traps the carbon dioxide which causes it to bubble up.”
“It’s chemistry, Sherlock. Everything in the whole world is made up of chemicals. Chemistry is the science that studies the composition, structure, properties and reaction of the stuff that makes up everything.”
“Yes, even you. Now let me finish writing this up and then I’ll read you a story.”
“To reward you for being good. But—” Mycroft quickly added as his baby brother opened his mouth to ask “Why” again, “if you keep asking me why, I won’t get finished and you won’t get a story.”
Sherlock furrowed his little brow into a scowl and his mouth into a frown, but didn’t say anything. Mycroft bent over his workbook and began studiously writing. He paused to read what he’d written, vigorously erased a paragraph, and hunkered over his paper to re-write the offending words. He then began to draw a picture of his experiment. He looked up to scan the tall glass of foamy soap just as Sherlock was bending over and lifting the glass slightly to his mouth.
But it was too late.
“Ewww!” Sherlock said, dropping the glass the few inches back onto the tabletop where it promptly fell over and the foam flooded the table. Mycroft rescued his workbook with one hand and swept his brother out of the way with the other. He watched in horror as the mess spread and began dripping to the floor. Sherlock was still pressed against Mycroft spitting and making faces, but he was slowly slipping to floor. Mycroft pulled him back farther away from the expanding muck. He set his workbook on a dresser and knelt down to face his brother.
“Never, never, put anything in your mouth that you don’t know is safe to eat. Especially if you don’t know what it is exactly or where it came from. Do you understand?”
Sherlock scrunched up his face and spit again before saying, “Icky! Bad!”
“Yes, it is and it serves you right if you get a tummy ache from it. Did you swallow any?”
Sherlock shook his head, but continued to stick out his tongue and make faces. “Soap.”
“Yes. And lemon juice and baking soda. Come on. Let’s get that taste out of your mouth.” Mycroft took his little brother by the hand and led him to the bathroom. He filled a glass with water and said, “Take a drink and then swish it around your mouth and then spit.” Sherlock looked at him skeptically. “Like this,” Mycroft said before demonstrating the procedure.
Sherlock made a tentative effort in case there was something other than water in the glass and then he seemed to take great delight in the process. Mycroft left him, taking a towel into the other room and cleaning up the spilled experiment. When he returned he found Sherlock had rinsed and spit with greater and greater energy until the water had spilled out of his mouth onto his clothes. Mycroft sighed. Now he needed to clean his little brother.
It took a full thirty minutes before Mycroft could go back to his work. He looked down the hall, but Nanny still hadn’t returned. Mycroft looked back at his brother who was climbing back onto the chair at the table. Mycroft fetched his workbook and another pencil and sat down next to Sherlock.
Sherlock pointed to the remaining lemon halves and said, “Fruit!”
“Yes. They’re lemons.”
“Right. Citrus limonum is its botanical name. Can you say citrus?” Mycroft chewed on the pencil’s eraser as he read over the next assignment. He got up and found a small paintbrush near the art supplies, when he turned around, he saw his brother about to lick a lemon half.
Too late. Sherlock’s face scrunched up in distaste and he looked accusingly at Mycroft. “Uck!”
Mycroft rushed back to the table and took the lemon from Sherlock. “What did I tell you about putting unknown things in your mouth.”
“Fruit. Citrus. Icky.”
“It just needs sugar, Sherlock. But I hope you learned a lesson now. You must stop putting strange things in your mouth. It could be poison and then you’d get sick and possibly die.”
“It could happen, so stop tasting things you don’t know. Okay?”
Sherlock pondered this for a moment before saying, “‘K.”
“Now sit here — quietly — and I’ll show you how to make secret messages.”
Sherlock put his finger to his lips and said, “Shhh.”
“That’s right. Secret.”
“Because sometimes you want to write things that other people can’t see or read.”
“Because you don’t want them to know what you know.”
“Because…” Myrcroft was momentarily stumped. He didn’t know if he could explain that having information that another person didn’t gave you a kind of power. At least not so that Sherlock would understand it. Then again, if Sherlock could understand it, Mycroft wasn’t so certain he wanted his little brother to understand it. Sherlock tended to figure out how to get his own way too often already. So Mycroft said, “Because it’s fun. Here let me show you.”
Mycroft dipped the paintbrush into the lemon juice and very carefully and precisely printed his name on a page in his workbook. “See? That’s my name.” He then repeated the procedure and printed Sherlock’s name. “And there’s your name?”
“You can’t write.”
Sherlock grabbed for the brush, but Mycroft caught his hand and said, “You can’t write. You’ll just make a mess.”
Sherlock crossed his arms in front of his chest and put on his pouty face. Mycroft knew that meant trouble later unless his brother was distracted in some way. He said, “Give me your hand.”
Sherlock simply stared at him and shook his head.
“Sherlock, give me your hand and we’ll put your handprint on a page.”
Sherlock tentatively held out his hand. Mycroft took it and said, “Spread out your fingers.” Then Mycroft gently dipped the palm of Sherock’s hand into the bowl of lemon juice and pressed it against a clean page of his workbook.
“Yes. But what happened to your name?”
Sherlock looked at the page where Mycroft had painted both of their names and his eyes grew wide. “Gone!”
“It’s disappeared so you can’t see it.”
Sherlock stood on his chair and leaned over the workbook, bending closer and closer in his inspection until his nose nearly touched the page. He crinkled his nose as he sniffed. “Lemons.”
“Yes. The lemon juice is still there, but you can’t see it. It’s transparent.”
“Right. And look. Your handprint has disappeared as well.”
Sherlock sniffed the page, looked at Mycroft and said, “Disappeared. Transparent.”
“Correct. But we can make them appear again by using chemistry.”
Sherlock gave his brother a suspicious look. “Science.”
“Right again. All we have to do is apply some heat, like this.” Mycroft picked up his workbook and walked over to the table beside Sherlock’s bed. Sherlock clambered off the chair and followed. Mycroft then took off the lampshade and turned on the lamp. He then held the page of the workbook with the names on it up close to the lightbulb.
After a moment, Sherlock asked, “Why?”
“You’ll see in a minute. Be patient.”
Sherlock gave a dramatic sigh, but said nothing. As the paper heated up, the names began to appear brownish-red against the white paper. Sherlock’s eyes grew large. Mycroft did the same with the next page and soon Sherlock’s handprint faded into view.
Mycroft set down the workbook and began reassembling the lampshade. “The lemon juice is an acid. Wherever the lemon juice touches the paper, the paper becomes thinner and weaker, so it burns more quickly than the paper around it. It’s a chemical reaction to the heat.”
At that moment, Nanny opened the door of the Nursery. She carried a large laundry basket filled with folded clothes and set it on the floor. “Mycroft, please put these away while I go get your tea.”
After Nanny left, Mycroft dragged the heavy basket over to his dresser and began methodically putting away his undergarments and pajamas. His shirts and trousers would arrive neatly pressed and ready to hang in the wardrobe. Next he dragged the laundry basket to his brother’s dresser and started putting away all of Sherlock’s things. Pants neatly rolled and lined up beside the socks which were systematically arranged by color. Shirts and shorts also arranged by color. Just as Mycroft was putting away the last set of pajamas, he heard a splash and looked quickly at the table.
Sherlock teetered on the edge of the chair with his hand inside the bowl of lemon juice. “Sherlock!”
Sherlock looked up startled, lost his balance and fell to the floor with an emphatic crash. Mycroft raced over to see his brother blink once in shock and then open his mouth and say, “Ow!” Mycroft bent down and Sherlock wrapped his arms around Mycroft. Mycroft could feel the sticky, little hands on his neck as he lifted his brother. As he set Sherlock down on his bed, Sherlock began to wail. Great, monstrous tears began to fall down Sherlock’s cheeks and onto Mycroft’s shoulder. Mycroft was rocking his brother and saying, “Shh. Shhh. It’s going to be all right. Let me look at you.” when Father, followed by Mummy, came into the room.
“What’s all this about?” his father asked.
“Sherlock fell off the chair.”
“And what was he doing on the chair?”
Sherlock had stopped crying when his parents came in. Sniffling loudly, he said, “Science.”
“I see. Here.” His father pulled out a huge, white handkerchief and handed it to Sherlock. “Blow.” Sherlock did and offered it back to his father. Mycroft took it and wiped away the tears still on his cheeks before folding it up and putting it in his own pocket.
“And where is Nanny?” asked Mummy.
“Fetching our tea,” answered Mycroft quietly. He knew what was going to come next.
“Then why weren’t you watching your brother?”
“I was putting away the laundry.” With the arm not cradling his brother, Mycroft pointed to the abandoned laundry basket and its lone pair of sleepers.
His father bent down and switched on the Paddington Bear lamp as he said, “Well, little man, let’s see if there’s any damage, shall we?”
Sherlock let go of Mycroft and sat very still as his father peered at his face and ran a hand through Sherlock’s hair. Sherlock winced when their father touched the side of his face as he looked closer. “Yes, you’ve got a bump there alright. I think you might even have a black eye. Did you hurt anything else?”
Sherlock pointed towards his forearm and his father took his hand. “Your hand’s all sticky.”
Mummy sighed. “Mycroft why is your brother always sticky?” Mummy asked.
“Science,” said Sherlock.
A smile played lightly at the corner’s of Mummy’s mouth. She sat down beside Sherlock who promptly slid towards her. Mycroft felt a small pang of jealously. “That’s close enough, dear, until we get you cleaned up. Mycroft go and get two cold, damp wash clothes.”
When Mycroft returned, his mother told Sherlock to hold out his hands and she took one of the wash clothes and quickly wiped them off. “Lie back.” Sherlock did and she placed the second cloth against his bruised temple and said, “You be Mummy’s brave little soldier and hold this. I’ll have Nanny bring you an ice pack.”
As she said this Mycroft became aware of a growing odor like paper burning. Then he saw with horror the small, reddish-brown handprints appearing on the lampshade beside the bed and before he could think what to do, the shade caught fire. It didn’t burst into flames or anything near as dramatic, but a small flame did ignite at the right thumb of the print in the front of the shade. Within a moment Mycroft’s father had snatched up the first wash cloth and extinguished the tiny flame. Next he whipped the shade off the lamp and stared at it.
“Chemical reaction,” said Sherlock.
“Quite,” replied his father. He looked at Mycroft and said, “The lemon juice experiment?”
“Citrus limonum,” Sherlock added.
“Perhaps,” said his mother, “you should start him on something a little less flammable.”
Mycroft’s father looked at his watch in a meaningful way and his mother stood up. “We have to leave for the theatre. Let him rest until Nanny arrives with your tea and then put him to bed early when he’s finished. I’ll let her know to keep an eye out for a possible concussion and call the doctor if there are any symptoms.”
“And Mycroft do try not to kill him. He’s the only brother you’ll ever have.”
Mycroft looked down at his shoes so that Mummy wouldn’t see the pain on his face and said, “Yes, Mummy.”
Mummy then did something Mycroft would never forget. She came over and kissed the top of his head and raised his face with her hand. She looked into his surprised expression and said, “You’re a good boy. I think you’ll make us proud some day.”
As she turned and started out of the room, Sherlock watched her with a frown of disappointment and then turned to glare at Mycroft. Father bent down and patted Sherlock on the head and said, “You get some rest and you’ll be as good as new in the morning. That’s my brave little man.”
After their parents had left the room, Sherlock started to get up.
“You heard what Mummy and Father said. You’re suppose to rest until Nanny gets back.”
Sherlock took the wash cloth he still held in his hand and threw it at his brother. Mycroft sighed, picked it up and said, “You should stay in bed like Father said.”
Mycroft realized Sherlock was in pain when instead of arguing, his brother lay back on the bed, his lower lip trembling, and said nothing. “I’ll go and rinse this in some more cold water and then I’ll come back and read to you. You pick out a book, okay?”
Sherlock nodded, his lip still quivering a bit. He swallowed hard and then reached into the basket of books beside his bed.
Mycroft returned quickly and gave the wash cloth to Sherlock. He climbed upon Sherlock’s bed and adjusted himself so that he sat against the headboard with his legs outstretched in front of him. Sherlock curled up beside him with the newly cold wash cloth pressed against the side of his face.
“Better?” asked Mycroft.
“I’ll read and you can turn the pages, okay.”
“The Story of Babar.” As he read Mycroft pointed to each word so Sherlock would know when to turn the page. “In the great forest a little elephant is born. His name is Babar. His mother loves him very much. She rocks him to sleep with her trunk while singing softly to him.”
Mycroft kept reading and pretended he didn’t know why Sherlock had chosen this particular book, but he was glad Nanny came with tea before the mother elephant was shot. After tea, when Sherlock was tucked into bed, he agreed to let Mycroft switch to Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All, but only after Mycroft told Sherlock he wouldn’t understand it because it was written for children Mycroft’s age.
They’d only gotten to the second mystery when Sherlock started yawning and fighting to keep his eyes open. Within another ten minutes, Mycroft looked down and saw his brother sound asleep. Gently, so as not to awaken him, Mycroft slid his little brother beneath the covers. Sherlock stirred but didn’t open his eyes. In the glare of the lamp’s bare bulb, Sherlock’s right eye looked puffy. There was a dark blue cast to the skin around and next to it. Combined with the bandage above the eye, Sherlock looked like he’d been in a fight.
Given his little brother’s nature, it was probably prophetic Mycroft thought as he turned off the bedside lamp and went to finish reading his history assignment.
“There is an entire childhood in a nutshell.” — Sherlock Holmes, BBC Sherlock
I’d Like To See You Try
by J.H. Watson
Sherlock had reached the Terrible Twos. Mycroft had read about it in the books he’d “borrowed” from the local library. He considered it borrowing because he had every intention of returning them. Eventually. He would have checked them out properly but the librarians had said he was too young and could only have books from the children’s section. As if there was anything in the children’s section at his level. At nine Mycroft read at a college level, but unfortunately there was no reasoning with some people. Alright, most people actually. Mummy was right. Most people were incredibly stupid.
And right now there was no reasoning with Sherlock. Mycroft would never call his baby brother stupid. Willful, stubborn, exasperating, but not stupid.
“Sherlock, come along. Eat your dinner.”
“No!” Sherlock folded his thin little arms across his chest, clamped his lips tightly shut, and turned down the corners of his mouth in a pouty scowl.
“Now Sherlock, you know you have to eat. If you don’t eat you will grow weak and get sick.”
Sherlock was already too thin as far as Mycroft was concerned. The pediatrician had suggested Sherlock was a bit underweight for his age and size. Mummy had said thin was better than fat and given him a significant look, but then she’d told the nanny that the boys couldn’t leave the table until Sherlock’s plate was clean. And if Sherlock didn’t finish his meals he was to be punished. Mycroft wasn’t certain what the punishment would be, but he was certain Sherlock wouldn’t like it, and Mycroft wouldn’t like the consequences.
“Sherlock, be reasonable. It’s very good. It’s your favourite. And there’s even treacle for pudding. Mmmm.”
“No! You eat.”
“Alright, I’ll eat a bite. Then you can eat a bite.”
“No! Two bites.”
“Okay, you’ll eat two bites.”
“No! You two bites!”
Mycroft sighed. He was already overweight. He wasn’t fat. He wouldn’t call himself fat. Mummy had talked to the pediatrician about putting him on a diet and he did seem to be getting a lot of raw vegetables with his meals. And no pudding. He took a bite off of Sherlock’s plate and tried not to grimace. Everything was laden with extra butter. The potatoes au gratin practically swam in it. Mycroft took another bite and then speared one more bit of potato and offered it to Sherlock.
Sherlock sat with his mouth a tight line. He glared at Mycroft and shook his head.
Mycroft said, “You promised. I took two bites, now you have take a bite. That’s what you arranged.”
Mycroft waited. He unconsciously nibbled on a roll. Sherlock reached out and snatched the roll from Mycroft’s hand and took a large bite. He glared at Mycroft as if daring him to take the roll back.
“You still have to eat a bite of potatoes, too,” Mycroft said.
Sherlock held the roll in his hand and stared at his brother. Mycroft didn’t look away. He kept the fork poised in front of Sherlock’s mouth. Mycroft began silently counting. When he got to forty-three, Sherlock picked up the spoon in front of him and scooped the tiniest portion of potatoes he could and slipped it in his mouth. He crinkled up his nose in distaste but kept chewing. Mycroft lowered the fork.
“No! You! Two bites!”
Mycroft sighed and ate the portion on the fork. Slowly Mycroft got Sherlock to eat some of his dinner. Mycroft told himself it was a third, although he knew it wasn’t because Sherlock took the tiniest bites he could and forced Mycroft to finish what he no longer wanted. The plate was clean except for the pudding and the roll Sherlock had carefully kept from Mycroft. Mycroft held the pudding out for Sherlock, but he clamped his lips shut again and shook his head “No!”
“Come, Sherlock, it’s the last thing. Look. I didn’t even get a pudding. Cook made it especially for you.”
“Mummy wants you to clean your plate. You want to make Mummy proud, don’t you?”
Mycroft was momentarily shocked. Everything he’d ever done in his life had been an attempt to please his mother. Then he realized that Sherlock was saying no to the food and not to making Mummy proud. At least that was what Mycroft decided Sherlock meant. It must be what Sherlock meant. It was the only thing Sherlock could possibly mean. The other interpretation was inconceivable.
The dessert called to Mycroft. It was treacle pudding. One of his favourites. Actually, Mycroft had never met a sweet he didn’t like. The sticky concoction was nearly drowned in clotted cream to add additional calories.
“Come on, Sherlock. Try at least one bite. You like sweets.”
Sherlock stared at the bowl and slowly dipped his spoon into it. He licked the sticky treacle and cream off and looked suspiciously at his older brother. “You! Eat!”
Mycroft knew he shouldn’t, but the pudding looked so good and it had been so long since he’d been allowed sweets.
“It’s your pudding, Sherlock.”
“If I take a bite, you have to take a bite.”
Eventually Sherlock was persuaded to have another three bites, but Mycroft had to finish the rest to get Sherlock to eat even those bites.
Or at least that’s what Mycroft told himself. Just as Mycroft was licking the last of the treacle from the fork, the door to the nursery opened and in came Mummy. She was beautiful in a black Yves St. Laurent sheath and Armani jacket. She strode up to the table with the nervous nanny following.
“Did you eat your dinner, Sherlock?”
Mycroft held his breath expecting Sherlock to use his new favourite word. Mummy did not like being told no.
Mycroft breathed again. But not so much that his tummy bulged more. Mummy had commented yesterday on the tightness of his clothes.
Sherlock looked his mother up and down and said, “Go out.”
“Yes. Very observant.”
“Your father and I are going out to dinner.”
Mycroft watched in horror as Sherlock put on his pouty face and started to say “No!” Before Sherlock said the word, he looked again at their mother, and remained silent. Instead, Sherlock held out his hand and offered his mother the roll he held. Mummy didn’t take it. She said, “Thank you. But we’re going out to dinner with Lord and Lady Westmoreland. Nanny will take the roll. You look all sticky. Mycroft, why is he covered in treacle? I’ll shall have to speak to cook. Do try and teach him how to eat properly.”
“Getting him to eat everything was good. I expect to hear that he’s cleaned his plate from now on.”
Mycroft was torn between pride at the praise and terror at the thought of trying to force Sherlock to eat each meal. He spotted Sherlock staring at him in a calculated manner and then smiling. Mycroft quickly ran options through his head. He sighed. At least part of his allowance would have to be spent bribing nanny to let out his clothes.
After Mummy gave both boys air kisses so as not to risk getting too close to sticky Sherlock or damage her make-up, she left with Nanny in tow carrying the empty trays downstairs.
“Sherlock, let’s get your bath, put you in your pajamas, and get you ready for bed.”
Mycroft sighed. “Alright, we can play one game, but only after you are clean and in your pajamas.”
Sherlock was surprisingly cooperative as Mycroft got the bath ready. Sherlock had even stood like a little prince with his arms out waiting for Mycroft to disrobe him. But once placed in the water, the glint in his eye and small twitch at the corner of his mouth warned Mycroft that his baby brother was planning something. As Mycroft leaned forward to begin lathering him, Sherlock splashed water with both hands hitting Mycroft square in the face. Mycroft sputtered. Sherlock laughed and splashed wildly.
“Sherlock! Stop it!”
Mycroft grabbed a towel and dried his face while saying, “If you don’t stop, you’ll get me all wet. I’ll have to go change and there won’t be any time for a game.”
Sherlock, who’d been madly giggling as he splashed with both his hands and feet, paused. His face took on a thoughtful expression and Mycroft would have sworn he could see his baby brother’s mind processing all of the possibilities of his continuing to splash. Sherlock scowled and said, “‘K. Game and story.”
Mycroft knew he shouldn’t give in, but he was tired and still had lessons to finish. “Alright, a game and one, just one, story.”
Sherlock gave a huge sigh, but merely pouted as Mycroft finished bathing and diapering him and put him in his p.j.s. Once Mycroft set him down on the nursery floor, Sherlock strode to the middle and said, “Game!”
“Give me a minute. I have to clean the bath room and put your clothes in the hamper.”
Sherlock stamped his foot, folded his arms over his chest, and glared at Mycroft. But he didn’t say anything else until Mycroft returned.
“Okay, which game. Ball?”
“Game! Game! Game!”
Then Mycroft realized what Sherlock wanted. It had been a way to distract Sherlock after lunch while Nanny ate. “Alright, I’ll close my eyes and and you change something. Tell me when you are ready and I’ll tell you what you changed.”
Mycroft closed his eyes. He could hear Sherlock’s bare feet patter across the floor several times. Finally, Sherlock called out, “Now!”
Mycroft opened his eyes and slowly turned around scanning the entire nursery. “You put the bear on the window seat. You took your cup and put it by Nanny’s chair. You picked up your pillow but put it back almost in the same place. And…you tossed your shoes in the trash.”
Sherlock clapped and giggled as Mycroft fished the shoes out of the trash. Then he said, “Me! Me! Me!”
Mycroft looked at his brother. “You want to close your eyes and have me make a change?”
Mycroft hesitated. “Alright. But just one game and then a story and then to bed.”
Sherlock didn’t say anything, but closed his eyes tightly, scrunching up his face. Mycroft looked around the room. He didn’t want to make it too hard and discourage Sherlock. He took the bright blue elephant that sat on Sherlock’s bed and put it in the wardrobe. “Ready,” he said.
Sherlock opened his eyes, turned once around the room, frowned and said, “‘lphunt.”
“Good,” said Mycroft, but before he could say anything else, Sherlock padded over to the wardrobe and tried to open the door. Mycroft was surprised and pleased. He went over and pulled the elephant out of the wardrobe. Sherlock grabbed it. It was almost as big as he was as he held it close with two arms.
“Okay, we’ve played a game. Now a story and bedtime.”
“No! Again! Hard.”
“Sherlock, you agreed.”
“No! Again! Hard!”
Mycroft thought of all the math problems he had to finish before he could go to sleep. Perhaps just one more game. Besides, he was curious how well Sherlock would do.
“One more game. But only one. And I’m going to make it very hard, so no crying if you can’t solve it.”
Sherlock smiled. “‘K.” He closed his eyes and scrunched his face again, the elephant still held in a tight squeeze.
Mycroft moved quickly around the room making a few changes. Then he walked around the room just to make more noise and confuse Sherlock. “Now?” Sherlock asked with eyes still closed. “Now,” said Mycroft.
Sherlock opened his eyes and looked slowly around the room. He let go of the elephant who dropped the inch to the floor and fell over. Then Sherlock pointed at the nanny’s rocker and said, “Knit.” Next he pointed to the dresser and said, “Brush.” He pointed to his bedside table and said, “Cup.” Sherlock stared at his brother.
“Very good, Sherlock!” Mycroft had stuffed Nanny’s knitting under the chair cushion, put the hair brush out of sight, and put Sherlock’s cup in the nightstand drawer. Sherlock had missed only one thing. One small thing that Mycroft would have been very surprised if Sherlock had spotted it. “Now it’s time for a story and bed.”
Mycroft took his hand and helped him into bed. As Mycroft tucked Sherlock in, Sherlock yawned and said, “Shoe.”
Mycroft stopped. “What?”
Sherlock pointed at Mycroft and said, “ Shoe. Tie.”
Mycroft’s eyes widened. “Very good, Sherlock.” He reached down and took off the shoe that he’d unlaced before. Then he untied the other shoe and took it off and climbed onto the bed to sit beside his brother. “How about Where the Wild Things Are?”
“Which book then?”
Mycroft sighed. He now knew Sherlock was only pretending that he couldn’t spot Waldo. It was going to be a long night.
This is the first of a bit of fanfic about Mycroft and Sherlock as children because we’re all curious and we all have our own ideas. This is one of them.
by J.H. Watson
“I’ll be mother.” — Mycroft Holmes
“There is an entire childhood in a nutshell.” — Sherlock Holmes
For Christmas Mycroft Holmes had asked for a puppy. He did not get one. Mummy said that a puppy would require too much extra work and expense, be noisy and disruptive. When Mycroft said that he would take care of it and that the cost of food could be taken out of his allowance, Mummy said that since they no longer hunted there was no need for a dog and surely Mycroft wasn’t thinking of forming an attachment to a pet, was he? He knew that the animal would live only a few years, and after probably great expense, die. Attachments were a weakness. So Mycrcoft did not get a puppy for Christmas.
Instead, he got a baby brother.
Well, the baby brother didn’t show up until 6 January, Epiphany. The day according to the vicar that the Wise Men arrived to give their gifts to baby Jesus. Mycroft felt his baby brother was just showing off. Epiphany was the classical Greek word meaning “to appear” or “to manifest.” Mycroft had looked up the word after the vicar had used it. Mycroft liked the word. He wasn’t so certain he liked the baby brother.
Mycroft saw little difference between the puppy and the baby brother. The baby brother required an enormous amount of work, cost a fortune, was extraordinarily loud, and completely disruptive.
The disruption began before even the baby brother.
Mycroft had been sitting in his mother’s closet trying on her shoes which were much prettier than the neat, black, boring leather ones that he had. His father’s were not much better. Boring. Definitely boring. But Mummy’s were magnificent! Different colors and shapes with buttons, bows, and shiny ornaments. But Mummy didn’t like him playing with her shoes because he scuffed a pair of Gucci pumps when he lost his balance and fell over. So when he heard his parents come into Mummy’s bedroom, he curled up in the far corner of the walk-in closet and grew very quiet.
“Why are you trying to get me drunk?”asked Mummy.
“I’m not trying to get you drunk. I am merely in the mood to celebrate. Things are going very well. I thought you liked champagne,” replied his father.
There was a pause and the sound of a beverage being poured into a glass, the clinking of crystal on crystal, the sound of drinking, and then once more the sound of a glass being filled. His mother said with a slight slur, “You want another child. That’s why you’re trying to get me drunk.”
“Well, I wouldn’t object to another.”
“We have a son and heir. I don’t want to have to go through that again. Myrcroft is almost civilized.”
Mycroft was very pleased to hear this. He smiled slightly. He knew Mummy liked things to be civilized.
“Yes, but given Mycroft’s…proclivities I’d rather not put all of the family’s eggs in one basket. I’d feel more comfortable with an heir and a spare, so to speak.”
“We’re hardly royals.” There was the sound of glasses being filled once more.
“No. We’ve been part of the British government since Elizabeth the First. Longer than the present royals. I’d like to continue the tradition.”
“There’s no guarantee we’d have a son. I could have a daughter.”
“I suspect we already have one.”
Mummy laughed. It was a hard, brittle laugh which contrasted with the increasing slur of her words. “I do wish he’d stop messing with my things. Look. He’s been in here again today. He must know I can always tell. I suppose I shall have to have a firm discussion with him about his duty. What a bore. But at least he’s obedient.”
Mycroft reached into his pocket. He took out the neatly pressed and folded handkerchief he always carried and removed the lipstick from his mouth. He very quietly took off his mother’s Gucci pumps. He brushed away a tear. He had no idea why it was on his cheek, but it wouldn’t do for Mummy to see it. She hated tears. Or any strong show of emotion, but especially tears. She called them a sign of weakness. Mummy didn’t like weakness in him.
“So I’m certain once we explain his duty to him when he’s older, he will do it.”
“Perhaps. But it wouldn’t it be more logical to have a reserve option? Even if it’s a daughter. Rumour has it we may see a woman as prime minister soon.”
There was a kissing sound and then the sound of a zipper. Mycroft’s mother said, “What’s in it for me?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“A new Jag. Black. With all the options.” There was the further sound of kissing before his mother added, “And if it’s a boy, another house in London.”
“Deal. Maybe this time we’ll have a sportsman.”
“I don’t want a stupid child.”
“Not likely. Look at Mycroft.”
“Yes. Thank god he’s at least intelligent.”
There were further sounds that Mycroft found very disturbing for reasons he couldn’t explain, but he remained sitting silently in the closet until his parents finished and left the bedroom. Then he slipped out feeling unaccountably hurt and sad.
Mycroft looked down now at “the spare.” It was the first time he’d had a chance to be alone with his baby brother. Someone had been with the baby since he’d come home with Mummy from the hospital, the nanny, the maid, even his father’s assistant. And they’d all shooed Mycroft away and told him to go to the kitchen and get a treat. Mycroft had eaten more treats since his baby brother had arrived than he’d been able to eat in…well, in his entire life! It was the only good thing that had happened since Mummy had gotten pregnant.
All of Mycroft’s clothes were getting uncomfortably tight, but Mycroft didn’t know when the treats might stop so he continued to get as many as he could. Mummy always told him to take advantage of every opportunity,
Mycroft was prepared to dislike his baby brother. He wouldn’t hate his baby brother. Mummy held very firm opinions on strong emotions. So Mycroft decided he would simply dislike the baby brother he got instead of the puppy he wanted. He could play with a puppy, but the baby brother did nothing but make everyone forget about Mycroft. Even Mummy told him to go away whenever he tried to get near her, especially when she was holding the baby.
Mycroft’s cup of yoghurt was tipping precariously as Mycroft peered at the screaming face of his baby brother. His baby brother had been screaming almost constantly since arriving home. Apparently now, from what Mycroft had overheard, the baby had stopped eating. The nanny had been called away to speak with the pediatrician on the phone about the situation.
Mycroft studied his baby brother closely. As far as he could tell, his baby brother was going to look more like his father’s side of the family. The baby was named Sherlock, which Mycroft thought was dumb because the name meant “with fair hair” or “with cropped hair” and the baby had neither. His hair was dark and no one had cropped it, although it was curling. Mycroft assumed it was a family name like his own.
Mycroft leaned in closer to try and get a better look. The cup he held tipped further and the yoghurt oozed out over his fingers and dribbled onto the baby’s face and hair. Mycroft had a moment of panic. He grabbed a baby wipe from the nearby box and began dabbing at the mess trying very hard not to actually touch the baby, but to hide the evidence of his mistake. Mycroft used his other hand to try and hold the baby’s face still. His yoghurt covered finger ended up in the baby’s mouth.
And his baby brother stopped crying.
The baby began sucking the yoghurt from Mycroft’s finger. Now thoroughly panicked, Mycroft pulled his finger out of his baby brother’s mouth. The baby began screaming again. Mycroft looked at the door in terror. He stuck another yoghurt sticky finger into the baby’s mouth and once again, the baby stopped crying and began sucking the finger.
Mycroft stared at the baby for several moments. He cleaned the rest of the yoghurt off the baby’s face. The baby was sucking hard, but the yoghurt was gone from the finger in his mouth. He began to fuss. Maybe if Mycroft could make the baby stop crying for awhile, Mummy would notice him again.
Mycroft looked around and spotted the bottle of breast milk the nanny had set down before going to the phone. Next to it was the remains of the yoghurt cup. Mycroft dipped the nibble of the bottle into the yoghurt and then pulled his finger out of his baby brother’s mouth. As the baby sucked in a lungful of air in anticipation of a mighty wail, Mycroft put the nibble into the baby’s mouth. The baby’s brow creased in displeasure for a moment, then he began to suck on the nibble. After a moment, the baby’s brow smoothed and he continued to suck.
After a few moments, Mycroft became uncomfortable in the rather awkward position he held standing on the crib edge and leaning over. He looked over his shoulder at the door, but no one was coming. The voice of the nanny could be heard still talking to someone on the phone.
Mycroft removed the bottle from the baby’s mouth. The baby flailed his little arms and kicked his feet. He fussed.
“Just a minute. Be patient.”
The baby fussed more and made something like a raspberry sound in reply. Mycroft pulled the nanny’s rocker closer to the crib. He released the side rail of the crib as he’d seen the nanny do. Then very carefully he placed his one hand under the baby’s head and the other arm around the baby’s body, just as he’d seen Nanny and his mother and his father do and lifted his baby brother into his arms.
The baby weighed no more than the labrador puppy his friend Tommy had gotten for his birthday in November. In fact, his baby brother seemed to weigh less. Mycroft sat in the rocker. The baby was screwing his face up to start another scream.
“Give me a moment,” he told the baby as he adjusted his hold so that he could use one arm to cradle the baby. The baby closed his mouth and stared up at Mycroft with a grumpy expression.
Mycroft dipped the nibble of the bottle once again into the yoghurt and then brushed it against the baby’s lips. The baby immediately took the nibble into his mouth and began to feed. Then he clamped his tiny hand over Mycroft’s hand holding the bottle and held it there. Mycroft froze.
Mycroft stared down at his baby brother. Something was happening inside him. He felt all soft and warm and protective. Just like he did when he’d held Tommy’s puppy, only more so. Much more so. Because. Because. Well, Mycroft couldn’t quite explain it but he felt an ineffable (which was a word he knew because he’d looked it up after the vicar had used it in the Christmas eve sermon and he thought it was a very good word), an ineffable connection to the baby. His baby brother. His baby brother. His baby brother. Sherlock.
“Mycroft! What have you done?”
Mycroft jumped at the sound of the nanny’s voice. His hand jerked pulling the bottle from Sherlock’s mouth, whereupon Sherlock let out a shriek of dissatisfaction.
Mummy appeared at that moment and asked, “What’s all the shouting?”
The nanny was the one who jumped now. “My—Mycroft took Sherlock out of his crib without permission.”
“Is that true, Mycroft?”
“Yes, Mummy.” Even if Mycroft wasn’t sitting there with Sherlock on his lap, there was never any point in lying to Mummy. She always knew. “But he was hungry and I was just feeding him.”
“Don’t lie!” the nanny said sharply. “I’ve already tried to feed him. He won’t eat it.”
Mycroft looked pleadingly at his mother. “But I’m not lying.”
Sherlock continued to wail throughout the exchange. He’d now resorted to flailing with tiny fists and legs. Mummy looked at the baby with more disdain than Mycroft had ever seen her display before. Even more than when she’d had to have to the wife of the new parliament representative to tea. The new parliament representative was Labour. Mycroft didn’t know exactly what that meant, but judging from the conversation he’d overheard between Mummy and Daddy it was something truly awful. Mummy only had the woman over because she thought it would be of… Here he paused in thought to get the phrase correct in his mind. …expedient political strategy. Yes, that’s what Mummy had called it when she was talking with his father.
“Show me,” his mother said.
Mycroft once more dipped the nibble into the yoghurt. The nanny started to object but a quelling look from Mummy stopped her. Mycroft then placed the nibble into Sherlock’s gaping mouth. Sherlock went rigid for a moment and then began sucking the nibble contentedly and relaxed.
“Oh, that’s wonderful! Give him to me,” said the nanny. She moved quickly to where Mycroft sat and before he could protest, she scooped Sherlock and the bottle from him and cradled Shrlock in her own arms. The nanny hesitantly dipped the bottle into the yoghurt and put into Sherlock’s mouth. Sherlock took one suck, stopped, frowned and then promptly started howling. The nanny looked nonplussed. She gazed questioningly at Mummy. Mummy said, “Give him back to Mycroft.”
An awkward transfer was made, but the moment Mycroft offered Sherlock the bottle, he took it and settled down. The nanny looked nervously at Mummy.
Mummy studied the two boys. “Well, that problem seems to be solved. I assume I’ll get some sleep tonight. Well done, Mycroft. From now on you’ll take care of your brother when your needed.”
And then Mummy smiled at him.
Mummy hadn’t smiled at him in a long, long time. Not since she’d gotten so swollen she couldn’t fit into any of her prettiest clothes. She hadn’t even noticed that he’d stopped trying on her shoes and always wore the boring, black, lace-ups that looked like his father’s.
After Mummy left, nanny told him that he had to sit there until Sherlock had finished the bottle. But she didn’t have to tell him that. He wasn’t planning to move.
When Sherlock finished the bottle, he yawned and made small smacking movements with his lips. His eyes closed and he sighed. Mycroft decided Sherlock was not so ugly when he slept.
“Did you burp him?” the nanny ask.
“You have to put him up on your shoulder so that his tummy is pressed against your shoulder and rub or pat his back.”
Mycroft did as instructed. At first Sherlock squirmed, but as Mycroft stopped patting and started rubbing Sherlock relaxed against him. Sherlock felt warm and soft and even more fragile than Tommy’s puppy. After a few minutes, Mycroft’s arm was getting tired and he was just about to ask nanny how much longer when Sherlock let out an unmistakable burp.
Mycroft smiled and held Sherlock out slightly so he could look at his baby brother. Sherlock held a surprised look on his face as if startled by the burp. Mycroft chuckled.
“I think you might be almost as good as a puppy and someday you will be big enough to play with. I’m going to take care of you,” Mycroft told Sherlock.
Sherlock blinked once.
And then promptly spit up all over Mycroft’s lap