Characters: Sherlock, John, Q, Mycroft, Mrs Hudson
Warnings/Triggers: body parts being mangled for science, some mention of PTSD, and discussion of war and death
Word Count 3,722
Summary: Sherlock's little brother pays an unexpected visit to Baker Street, and, much to John's surprise, it turns out that Sherlock isn't that bad an older brother.
Author's notes: Apparently it's that time when all the stories I've been working on get finished at the same time. Apologies for the spam.
Despite the trigger warnings, this is largely hurt/comfort fluff.
Set in the Trio 'verse.
Sherlock bolted the moment the witness started to cry, leaving me to deal with her. Sherlock can't handle feelings or emotions; he won't hold hands or pat backs or listen to sad stories. He has better things to do and
The doorbell rang, interrupting John's typing.
“Door,” Sherlock said, from the kitchen.
“Last time I checked, you had legs,” John replied.
“I'm busy,” Sherlock said.
“Me too,” John said.
Sherlock leaned over in his chair to peer through the door at him. “You're blogging, that hardly counts as busy.”
“You're chopping up fingers,” John said. “At least what I'm doing is profitable.”
“I'm not chopping, I'm julienning,” Sherlock replied.
“It could be a murder,” John said. “There could be a murder walking away right now.”
“Murders cannot walk,” Sherlock said. “It is one of their most defining traits.”
The doorbell rang again.
John sighed and went down to answer it, waving off Mrs Hudson, who was on her way to get it herself. He opened the door and found a young man there. He looked familiar, but it took John a moment to identify him.
“Trevelyan,” he said. “Hey.”
Trevelyan Holmes was Sherlock's younger brother, and it was only after Sherlock had come back to life that John was aware he existed. Amongst all the madness of that time, a third Holmes brother was the least shocking thing to discover.
John had only encountered him twice—both times briefly--and Trevelyan remained somewhat of a mystery to John. He worked for the government in some sort of hush-hush job, and John had the impression he might not even officially exist. Other than that, all John really knew was that his brand of genius seemed to be technological. Also that he sometimes went by 'Q' (or Queue?), but Sherlock rolled his eyes whenever anyone called him that, so John stuck with 'Trevelyan'.
“Am I bothering you?” Trevelyan asked. He looked around nervously, as though he suspected he was being followed. “I...”
“Come in,” John said, stepping back. “You okay?”
Trevelyan didn't answer. He just went to the stairs and climbed them. John looked around outside to see if he could spot any trouble, but nothing looked out of place. He closed the door and made sure it was locked before he followed Trevelyan up to the first floor.
Sherlock had got out of the chair he'd been in since breakfast and was staring at Trevelyan with what John highly suspected was concern. John didn't know Trevelyan well enough to see if he was acting strangely. He had his arms hugged tightly to his chest and an almost blank look on his face.
“Do you want me give you some privacy?” John asked.
“No, thank you,” Trevelyan said. “I just wanted to go somewhere where I didn't have cameras staring at me.”
“You came to the wrong place,” Sherlock replied. “Mycroft has eyes everywhere, you know that.”
“Oh, well, those cameras are family,” Trevelyan said, with a small smile.
“Do you want a cuppa?” John asked.
Trevelyan nodded. Sherlock poked him in the arm and gestured with his head to the living room. Trevelyan went in and sat down in Sherlock's chair, putting his bag on the floor and pulling his knees up to his chest. It was a pose John had seen Sherlock in before, and he thought of it as a bad sign—a sign Sherlock was overwhelmed by something and needed to protect himself from it, whether it was emotion, or a case gone wrong, or just his own mind running mad.
“I thought you outgrew your migraines,” Sherlock said, sitting down on the coffee table.
“Pardon?” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock pointed to the bag on the floor. “You've bought a bottle of water, but you've only taken one sip,” he replied. “If you'd bought it because you were thirsty, you would have drunk it. You didn't buy it within the last few minutes—it's warmed enough for the condensation to dissipate. You've had time to drink, but you didn't. You bought it to take pills. You aren't on any medication, so it must be painkillers. You haven't been injured, therefore it's a headache, and you wouldn't take anything unless it were a migraine. I thought you outgrew them.”
“I still get them occasionally,” Trevelyan replied.
“Because you're stressed,” Sherlock said.
“Yes,” Trevelyan said.
“Are you stressed because you aren't sleeping, or are you not sleeping because you're stressed?” Sherlock asked. “It's been, what? Five days?”
“Please, Sherlock, I didn't come here to be deduced,” Trevelyan said.
“Yes, you did,” Sherlock replied, dismissively.
In the kitchen, John quietly switched out Trevelyan's tea bag for a decaf version. He'd found it useful to have a box on hand for het-up clients.
“What do you take, Trev?” John asked.
“Three sugars, please,” Trevelyan said.
Same as Sherlock. John let the tea brew for a bit.
“Do you want something to eat?” John asked.
Trevelyan gave him a classic Holmes Gallic shrug. John looked to Sherlock, who tilted his head almost imperceptibly in a nod. John put some bread in the hob top toaster, monitoring it to make sure it didn't burn.
“Rule Britannia” began playing as John carried the food out to the living room. Trevelyan pulled his phone from his pocket and hit the ignore button on the call.
“Mycroft?” John guessed.
“Yes. It's the fifth call in an hour,” Trevelyan said. He took the tea and toast from John. “Thank you.”
John moved backwards to sit down in the other armchair. “Why don't you just turn the phone off?”
“It's against company policy,” Trevelyan said. “I have to be available in the event of an emergency.”
Sherlock's phone rang. He retrieved it and turned it off with a flourish. Trevelyan smiled, but it quickly turned to a frown as he sipped his tea.
“This is decaf,” he murmured.
“All we have,” John lied. “Sorry.”
Trevelyan continued to sip. John could see what Sherlock had picked up on now that he was able to get a good look. There were dark circles under his eyes, and he looked glazed over. His cheeks were hollowed out—though John wasn't sure if that might not just be the Holmes cheekbones. He had a ring on one of his middle fingers and used his thumb to repeatedly spin a section that rotated on the outside, a sort of nervous fidget.
“If I wanted to be stared at, I would have stayed at work,” he said. “All I want is to sit somewhere quietly and be ignored for a little while. Go back to what you were doing. I'm not here. You haven't seen me.”
Sherlock stood up and returned to the kitchen. John went back to his blogging. His mobile began to ring, and Mycroft's number displayed on the screen. John hit the ignore button. Trevelyan gave him a grateful nod.
Then the landline rang.
Everyone in the flat stared at it as though it were a mythical creature. John hadn't heard it ring since the few first few months of living there. Sherlock had scared off all the cold callers by then and pretty much everyone else knew to use their mobiles.
“He's getting desperate,” Sherlock said. “What did you do?”
Trevelyan shook his head.
The phone rang out. Everyone went back to what they were doing. Five minutes later, Mrs Hudson called up the stairs.
“Sherlock? Your brother is on my phone,” she said.
“Tell him to sod off!” Sherlock called back.
“That's not nice, Sherlock,” Mrs Hudson said.
John stepped in before Sherlock could reply. “I'll see if I can get him off your back,” he said. “Maybe if someone actually speaks to him, he'll go away. Otherwise, we'll be invaded next.”
He went down to the ground floor and took the portable receiver from Mrs Hudson.
“What's going on, Mycroft?” he asked.
“I am trying to reach my brother,” Mycroft said.
“Which one?” John said.
“The younger,” Mycroft said. “Would you give the phone to him, please?”
“He doesn't want to talk,” John said.
Mycroft sighed. “I simply wish to know that he's all right,” he said. “He's had a rough week. It's unlike him to leave work. I am concerned about him. I don't want to interrogate him, I just want to ascertain his state of mind.”
John sat down on the stairs. “Why?”
“It's confidential,” Mycroft said.
“I think you know I'm trustworthy by now,” John said. “And I'm your best hope of convincing him to talk to you.”
There was a long period of silence before Mycroft replied. “A young woman in Trevelyan's office went missing five days ago,” he said. “They found her body this afternoon. It was upsetting to him.”
“Were they close?” John asked.
“As close as we tend to get to people, yourself excepting,” Mycroft said. “Which isn't very close, but close enough to feel her loss. I believe Trevelyan blames himself.”
“What happened?” John said.
“That is confidential,” Mycroft said. “Suffice it to say that he recommended her for a job that didn't end well. It wasn't his fault—there were circumstances beyond his control—but, well, none of us deal well with failure.”
“So, what are we looking at? A danger night?” John said.
“Trevelyan lacks Sherlock's self-destructive tendencies,” Mycroft said. “I have no worries in that area. I'm more concerned about his physical health. He didn't get much sleep or food while he was trying to locate her. He can get very crippling migraines.”
“Well, he's with a doctor,” John said. “I'll watch out for him. I think he's okay here, and he can stay as long as he likes. I won't let him go if I think he's badly off. “
“Thank you,” Mycroft said. “Would you let him know I'm trying to speak him as family and not a colleague? I have no intentions of scolding him.”
“I can do that,” John said. “But maybe you should stop hounding him.”
“Perhaps,” Mycroft said.
He rang off. John took out his notebook and pen and scribbled the situation in point form, ripping the paper out and passing it quietly to Sherlock in the kitchen when he got back upstairs.
“He's going to leave you alone,” John told Trevelyan. “But he's worried about you.”
Trevelyan nodded. “Have you ever had him worry about you?” he asked. “It's exhausting.”
“I'll bet,” John said.
“He told you what happened,” Trevelyan said.
“Not really,” John said. “But, you can tell me, if you want.”
“I do not.”
John left it alone. Trevelyan sat quietly sipping his tea and nibbling at the toast, while Sherlock chopped fingers and John tried to work on his blog entry again.
“How do you get anything done?” Trevelyan asked, after John had been typing for a while. “It must take you ages to hunt and peck out your stories. It makes me annoyed just listening to you. It must drive you mad, Sherlock.”
“Hmmm?” Sherlock said, looking up from his microscope in confusion. “What?”
“Never mind,” Trevelyan said. “I believe you just answered my question.”
“I'm not that bad,” John said. “I think I do well enough considering I didn't have a PC until uni. We couldn't afford it.”
“Father was very interested in technology,” Trevelyan said. “We had one of the first Apple Macs in England. I think I was two when we got it. I used to sit on his lap and watch him work.”
John had never heard much about Sherlock's father. He didn't like to talk about his family in general, but his father was even more off limits. John only knew that he'd died when Sherlock was young, and his impression was that it had been very sudden.
“So, you come by being a tech boffin honestly, then,” John said.
“I suppose so,” Trevelyan said. “I never had the inclination to do Mycroft and Sherlock's mind-reader routine, so I had to find some area in which to distinguish myself.”
“He observes, he just can't deduce,” Sherlock said, from the kitchen.
“I don't want to deduce,” Trevelyan corrected. “I've grown up with two siblings knowing every move I make. I understand how annoying it is. I have no desire to inflict it on the world. You yourself warned me that you can't turn it off once you start.”
“Well, what's the pointing of looking if you aren't going to do anything with it?” Sherlock said. “That just makes you normal.”
“Sherlock, no one has been normal in our family in several generations,” Trevelyan said. “I think I can find other ways of being heteroclite.”
“Using heteroclite in a sentence is probably a good start,” John noted.
“Trevelyan used to read the dictionary,” Sherlock shared.
“You shoved it at me when I was four and bothering you and told me if I learnt all the words starting with 'X' you'd play with me,” Trevelyan said.
Sherlock chuckled. “I'd forgotten about that. You did make a good effort if I recall.”
“All the way up to xerophthalmia,” Q said. “Then Mycroft came home on school break and took pity on me. I did continue to read it, though. I felt very off-centre with such a thorough knowledge of X, and I wanted to balance it out.”
“You were wonderfully gullible,” Sherlock said, in sort of nostalgic voice. “It was very trying when you stopped doing what I told you.”
“Much safer for me, though,” Trevelyan said.
“Hmmm,” Sherlock said.
John found it amazing to see them communicating so easily. He was used to having to mediate between Holmes brothers, but Sherlock and Trevelyan seemed to get along quite well. It was all the more mystifying why Sherlock hadn't spoken about him before—and why Mycroft and Sherlock were so at odds. Sherlock seemed almost...brotherly with Trevelyan. It was a strange concept.
In the kitchen, Sherlock put the fingers on a tray and stuck them in the freezer, retrieving a tray already in there.
“Here's some I prepared earlier,” John muttered to himself, making Trevelyan chuckle.
“If you're going to sit there, you might as well be useful,” Sherlock said. “Lestrade's hiding files from me. Get me into Scotland Yard. They've changed their encryption, and I don't have time to figure it out.”
“Meaning you can't,” Trevelyan said, under his breath.
He reached over and took Sherlock's laptop from the desk, resting it on his knees as he worked. There was a content quiet in the flat, broken by John's slow typing and Trevelyan's lightspeed typing. And Sherlock's knife cutting through frozen digits. Trevelyan kept closing one eye and then the other while he worked, and John wondered if that was a nervous habit or something he should be worried about.
“You okay?” he asked, after a while.
“I have a scotoma in my eyes, and it's quite vexing,” Trevelyan said. “Migraine aura. Nothing unusual.”
“Oh,” John said. Migraines did all manner of havoc on people; a black spot in his vision wasn't anything to be concerned about. “You need to lie down?”
“I'm fine,” Trevelyan said. “Thank you.” His rapid typing stopped for a microsecond before continuing. “You were in the army. A captain. You must have had people serving under you.”
“Yeah,” John said. “Well, I was second-in-command, but I gave orders.”
“You lost people, I presume,” Trevelyan said. “People of whom you were in charge.”
“Yeah. Several,” John said, a bit tightly.
For a long moment, John thought that was going to be the end of the conversation, but Trevelyan picked it up again.
“What's the...protocol?” he asked. “How do you...respond? Are you—did you write their families or...”
John closed down his laptop and leaned back in his seat. “I did a couple of times,” he said. “If they were people I knew well. If I felt I had something to say.”
Sherlock came out of the kitchen and sat quietly in John's chair, a case file in his lap that he was very much pretending to read. Trevelyan's eyes flicked over a few times, but he kept his focus on John.
“Was it ever your fault?” he asked.
“Yes,” John said. He felt his hand start to clench and stretched it wide to ensure it didn't. “Maybe not directly my fault. I gave orders—to get patients or supplies. They didn't come back. Landmines or IEDS or suicide attacks. Things you can't predict. Could you have predicted what happened to your colleague?”
“I should have been able to,” Trevelyan said. “It's my job. I told them that she was the only one to do it properly. She was the only one clever enough to follow out my plans. They changed my plans. If they had done what I laid out, very clearly—” he stopped and reigned in his anger, his fingers clenching around the laptop.
Sherlock stirred in his seat. “Why did you let them change it?”
“I didn't have control over it,” Trevelyan replied, defensively.
“You should have known it would go badly,” Sherlock pressed.
John opened his mouth to object before he realized what Sherlock was doing.
Trevelyan's cheeks flushed. “I didn't know they'd changed it until after she went missing.”
“But you couldn't find her?” Sherlock said, mocking. “You?”
“I did everything I could! She'd already been missing for hours before anyone told me. The trail was cold.”
“You're better than that,” Sherlock said.
“It wasn't my—” Trevelyan stopped short and groaned. “That's not clever, Sherlock.”
“Yes, it is,” Sherlock said, smugly.
Trevelyan conceded the point with a gentlemanly bow of his head. He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. “I don't often get along with people,” he said. “But I liked her.”
“I'm sorry,” John said.
“Did writing to their families make you feel better?” Trevelyan asked.
“No. But it made them feel better,” John said. “And it wasn't about me.”
Trevelyan absorbed this, his fingers working at the keys of the laptop without him really looking. He finished with a 'ta-da' motion and held the laptop out to Sherlock.
“I've written you a programme,” he said. “It will analyze the encryption and tell you the best way to overcome it. It will only work on that server, however. Mycroft would kill me if I gave you something to break into anywhere.”
Sherlock took the laptop eagerly and settled himself into the chair to look over the files.
“You're welcome,” Trevelyan said.
“Mmm,” Sherlock grunted.
Trevelyan looked resigned to that response. “May I have another cup of tea?” he asked John.
“Sure,” John said.
He went to make it, skirting around the melting fingers on the table. He took a moment to take a few breaths in and out. He'd come to a place, with Ella's help, where he was able to speak about the soldier part of his life relatively calmly. He just didn't like it. He concentrated on the tea and settled himself down.
Sherlock and Trevelyan's voices murmured, but John couldn't hear, and he suspected he wasn't meant to. He didn't strain to eavesdrop. When he returned, Trevelyan had a tablet and stylus out on his knees, and he was writing rapidly. John put the tea on the arm of the chair, and Trevelyan muttered a thank you, not pausing in his writing.
He wrote for quite a while. A few sniffs came from his direction at one point, and both Sherlock and John ignored them. Finally, Trevelyan put the stylus away and gave Sherlock a bozz-eyed look.
“I'm afraid I'm going to need to lie down,” he said.
“I know,” Sherlock said, with a sigh. He got up and gestured down the hallway. “Go to my room.”
Trevelyan stood unsteadily and weaved his way toward Sherlock's bedroom, his body tilted to the right as though he were compensating for a slope in the floor, and his arms held out like a toddler. Sherlock seemed well-versed in dealing with this, poking him if he wandered too far from the path. John followed to see if he could help.
“Vestibular?” John guessed as Trevelyan paused to grab hold of a chair in the kitchen.
“Yes, quite severe,” Sherlock replied. “They were common when he was a teenager, but he's mostly grown-out of them. Father had them, too.”
Trevelyan staggered onwards and tilted to the other side, far enough that Sherlock had to grab his shoulder and push him back upright.
“This is like the time you got pissed and rang me from the pub to pick you up,” Sherlock said, rather cheerfully. “And you kept stopping to cling to lampposts.”
“The only time I got pissed,” Trevelyan said. “That was the worst night of my life. All you did was laugh at me.”
Sherlock laughed now, apparently remembering.
“When I'm not longer vertiginous, please remind me to punch him,” Trevelyan requested.
“Roger,” John agreed.
Trevelyan moved to Sherlock's bed and sat down. John closed the curtains to block out the streetlights and keep the room nice and dark. Sherlock stood with his hands in his pockets, watching with a bored expression while Trevelyan struggled with his shoes. Sherlock stepped on the toe of one, which John thought was unnecessarily cruel until Trevelyan pulled his foot out of the shoe, and John realized Sherlock was helping. They repeated with the other shoe, then Trevelyan fumbled with getting his cufflinks—silver 'Q's—out. He managed on his own and put them on the bedside table. He curled up in a ball and closed his eyes.
“Anything else I can do?” John asked. “Are you okay for analgesics? I have ketoprofen and naproxen.”
“I've taken aspirin,” Trevelyan said, sounding a bit mumbly. “I just want to sleep. I hope I can sleep...”
“You've done everything you can,” Sherlock said, in a surprisingly gentle voice. “Stop being ridiculous.”
“Mmm,” Trevelyan grunted.
Sherlock purposefully moved the bin next to the bed and left the room.
“Yell if you need anything,” John said.
“'Kay,” Trevelyan said, very sleepy now.
His breathing evened out before John closed the door. Sherlock had already planted himself in front of his sliced fingers.
“Will he be okay?” John asked.
“He'll be fine. They've always been severe but not long-lasting. He should be fine by morning.”
John nodded. He returned to his blog entry, which was a mess. He'd been interrupted so often that paragraphs didn't flow together, and he seemed to have transcribed bits of the conversation going on around him. He made an executive decision to erase everything he'd written since Trevelyan arrived and start over.
“Sherlock?” he said, while he worked.
“Hmm?” Sherlock said.
“You're not a rubbish big brother,” John said, a bit mystified.
Sherlock gave him a mock insulted look. “You take that back.”
John grinned. “Why aren't you a rubbish big brother?”
“That is an extremely stupid question,” Sherlock said.
“Give me a stupid answer then,” John said.
Sherlock twitched in place like a child having a tantrum and huffed a little. “I have a big brother,” he said, finally. “And in my effort to be the precise opposite of him, I seem to somehow have become 'good' at it. It wasn't my intent.”
“If it makes you feel any better, you're a rubbish little brother,” John said.
“Thank you,” Sherlock replied, with a modest bow. “I do my best.”
John shook his head. He read over what he had left of the blog entry.
...Sherlock bolted the moment the witness started to cry, leaving me to deal with her. Sherlock can't handle feelings or emotions; he won't hold hands or pat backs or listen to sad stories.
He stared at the screen, feeling this wasn't accurate. He typed again.
At least, most of time.