Characters: Mycroft, Sherlock, Q, Mummy, Father
Word Count 2,557
Summary: Chickenpox strikes the two youngest Holmes brothers—just in time for Mycroft's school break.
Author's notes: Pure kid!fic, rather silly. Just wanted to have some fun with the little'ns and give Mycroft a chance to do something. He always seems to be very peripheral in my stories for this verse.
Set in the Trio 'verse.
Trevelyan is close to three and a half years old in this, making Sherlock somewhere around six, and Mycroft thirteen.
There is, quite randomly, rather massive spoilers for The Scarlet Pimpernel in this. You have been warned.
In the Holmes household there was no such thing as 'light's out'. For a family like theirs, with brains that worked like theirs did, insomnia ran rampant. So, for the Holmes boys, the rules were a bit different than other children. Bedtime meant that you had to be in your room by a certain hour and at least make an effort to sleep. If you couldn't, you were free to do whatever you liked, so long as you remained in your room and didn't bother anyone else.
Thus, when the door to Mycroft's room opened well-past midnight, he was still up and reading quietly. Mycroft's room was far closer to his brothers' room than his parents' room was. If nightmares occurred and he was home, it was easier and 'safer' to get to him than trying to run across the gallery in the semi-dark. Sherlock used to come to him, but he was too old to admit fear now. Trevelyan still fled in his direction, however. Mycroft flicked his eyes up briefly to confirm his suspicions. Definitely Trevelyan's worried face peering around the doorjamb.
“My?” Trevelyan whispered.
“You should be asleep,” Mycroft said.
“I was,” Trevelyan said. “And then I woke up, so now I'm not anymore.”
“Did you have a bad dream?” Mycroft asked.
“No,” Trevelyan said.
“Then go back and try again. You're supposed to stay in your room,” Mycroft said.
Trevelyan fidgeted in the doorway. “If I go back to my room, will you come and look at my skin?” he asked, nervously.
Mycroft frowned, looking up from his book again. “What's wrong with your skin?”
“It's itchy and there are dots,” Trevelyan reported, scratching at his nose.
The dim backlight from the hall made it hard to get a good look. Mycroft gestured for him to come in and moved his lamp around to see better. Trevelyan's lazy eye was pointed toward his nose, as it always did when he was tired, and his skin was indeed covered with little red dots from head to bare feet. Mycroft pressed a hand to his forehead. It was warm.
“Am I dying?” Trevelyan asked, more curious than concerned.
“No, I believe you have chickenpox,” Mycroft said. “Come on and we'll show Mummy.”
He hopped out of bed and took Trevelyan's hand to lead him across the gallery. As he passed by Sherlock's room, the door opened and Sherlock stuck his head out, looking furious.
“I don't feel well!” he complained.
What a lovely start to Mycroft's school break.
“Don't scratch,” Mycroft said.
Sherlock glared at him. “You aren't even looking!”
“That doesn't change the fact that you shouldn't be scratching,” Mycroft said. “You'll scar.”
Sherlock folded his arms across his chest. He was a nightmare when he was ill. He was always extremely annoyed at his body for betraying him. Trevelyan was taking a more relaxed view of illness. He lay on the sofa in a ball and made occasional sad noises until someone asked him if he was all right, and then he informed them he was fine.
“Why aren't you sick?” Sherlock demanded of Mycroft.
“I've already had chickenpox,” Mycroft replied.
“That's not fair!” Sherlock said.
Mycroft quirked an eyebrow at him. “How is it not fair?”
Sherlock looked slightly flummoxed. “I don't know. But...but, it is. I hate you.” He flopped on his back at the other end of the couch dramatically.
Trevelyan made a sad little noise.
Mummy arrived with a tray of soup and tea. Trevelyan made another sad little noise but was ignored, aside from a gentle ruffle of his hair. Sherlock launched himself up to a sitting position again.
“I'm not eating,” he announced.
“All right,” Mummy said.
Sherlock frowned. “I don't want to."
“I'm sure you don't,” Mummy said. “You don't feel well.”
Sherlock once again was lost. He was used to being force-fed; Mycroft imagined he had no idea what to do when his refusal didn't cause a fight.
“Would you like some soup, Mycroft?” Mummy asked, giving him a little wink.
“I would love some soup,” Mycroft said.
“Well, Sherlock doesn't want his, so you can eat it,” Mummy said.
Sherlock erupted at this development because, no matter how much he didn't want something, there was no way he was going to allow Mycroft to have it.
“Well, I suppose I could make a sandwich for Mycroft,” Mummy said, thoughtful and calm in the face of Sherlock's rage. “If you're sure you want it.”
“I don't want it,” Sherlock said. “But I'm ill. I need my strength.”
“Yes, that's very sensible,” Mummy agreed.
She and Mycroft exchanged another wink.
Father came home later that afternoon, by which time Sherlock had finally succumbed to his state and was no longer at war with the world--or at least had called a ceasefire for the moment. Trevelyan's passive-aggression was now just passive. He lay on the couch with a stunned expression on his face, his cheeks bright red with fever and his eye turned right inwards under his little glasses.
Father worked in London for most of the week and took a train down to Lincolnshire at the weekends. Usually, he came down on Friday and went back on Monday, but he'd been delayed this time. He peered into the front room and all hell broke loose as the invalids vied for attention.
“I was informed we were a plague house,” Father said, unmoved by the wails. "I didn't realize it was terminal.”
“Yes, they've been dying all day,” Mycroft agreed, 'regretfully'.
“I'm very ill,” Sherlock declared.
“Me too!” Trevelyan agreed.
“I'm more ill, though,” Sherlock insisted.
Father held up a hand before it escalated, and they both went silent. Mycroft hoped one day to have that ability. Father could bring a whole room to a standstill with just a gesture.
“Who do we blame for infection?” Father asked.
“Mummy thinks the piano tutor probably brought it from another home,” Mycroft said.
“I shall have her executed immediately,” Father said.
“I'm sick, will you read me a story?” Trevelyan asked, hopefully.
Father had the look of a cornered animal, his eyes darting around in search of an escape. “Let me say hello to Mummy,” he said. “And we'll see.”
No one saw him for the rest of the day.
Sherlock and Trevelyan were put up in Mummy and Father's room for the night to be monitored. Mostly for Trevelyan, who was known to have febrile seizures (something Mycroft was the first to discover, in one of the more terrifying moments of his life so far). He went from fine to overheated in moments. Sherlock, of course, refused to be left out. Father didn't come to bed.
Mycroft assumed it wasn't a good night for the invalids, as when he came down in the morning, Father was in the kitchen with the boys and Mummy was still in bed. Breakfast consisted of fried eggs, which was what Father always made when he was in charge of food, no matter what meal he was preparing. Trevelyan had cotton balls taped around the ends of his fingers, which had to be Father's solution to the problem, and was still trying to scratch. Sherlock squirmed in place like a dog with worms.
“Grrrrahhh!” he yelled in frustration.
Father flipped an egg and offered it to Mycroft. “Good morning!” he said, with false cheerfulness. “Mummy's having a lie-in. Isn't that nice?”
Mycroft held in his laughter as best he could and nodded. “She's probably earned it."
“That's not in dispute,” Father said. “Merely her timing.”
“My fingers don't work!” Trevelyan complained, bashing the tips against the island miserably. “I'm itchy. It's yucky! I don't like it!”
“Try to think about something else,” Father suggested.
“I caaaaaan't!” Trevelyan wailed.
Father cracked an egg with feeling and dropped it onto the pan.
“Maybe Father would set you a cipher?” Mycroft said. “Would that help?"
“...maybe,” Trevelyan said.
“I want one too!” Sherlock said. “Me too!”
Father jumped on this solution with alacrity, and Mycroft took over egg frying while Father devised ciphers for Sherlock and Trevelyan to work on.
“Do you want one as well?” Father asked Mycroft.
Mycroft knew he was probably too old for it, but at the same time, did really want one. Father smiled and got another piece of paper to make one up for him.
Father had a talent for judging abilities, and he managed to create ciphers on three different levels that were equally challenging for those who received them. It took all of them about the same time to complete, even though Trevelyan's was a simple substitution cipher and Mycroft's was a stacked cipher in three layers.
“Man is a wingless animal with two feet and flat nails,” was the answer to Mycroft's cipher.
“Plato?” he guessed.
“Spot on,” Father said.
“Mine is...erm...” Trevelyan said, uncertainly. “Hold on, come back to me.”
“Mine says 'a friend to all is a friend to none',” Sherlock announced.
“Aristotle,” Mycroft said.
“I knew that,” Sherlock said, quickly.
They waited a bit longer for Trevelyan, who finally looked enlightened and filled the rest in with his big, careful handwriting.
“'Be as you wish to seem',” he read out, in a halted voice. “Is that right?”
“Perfect,” Father assured him. “Good job.”
“Socrates,” Father added. “And now that we've had our Greek philosophy lesson for this morning, let's go and see if Mummy is awake yet.”
Father was sent out to the chemist in search of lotion and other soothers. Mycroft went with him to escape the house for a bit. It was always best to talk at, rather than with Father, and Mycroft chatted about school and what he'd been up to of late. He could never tell if Father was interested in those sorts of things, but he didn't attempt to quiet him, so he supposed he was at least open to them.
Mummy came running downstairs when they returned home, plucked the bag from Father's hands, and ran back upstairs. Mycroft and Father hid themselves in the library.
By the late afternoon, both Sherlock and Trevelyan had been bathed in porridge oats and covered with a thick layer of calamine lotion. Both things seemed to have helped with the itching, but not their moods. Father took pity on them and agreed to Trevelyan's third request for a story.
Father didn't do voices or put much emotion into his reading, unlike Mummy, who essentially did one-woman plays. He had a very soothing voice, however, which was the lure of being read to by him. Sherlock lay on the sofa and Trevelyan put his pillow on Father's feet and curled up in a ball on the floor.
Today's selection was The Scarlet Pimpernel, and even Mycroft found himself getting a bit sleepy as Father read it out. Sherlock fought against sleep long after Trevelyan was gone but, eventually, they were both snoring softly. Father extracted his feet out from under Trevelyan's head and seemed to consider moving him off the floor, but in the end, just dropped a blanket over him and left the room quietly. Mummy met him on the way in, looking grim and carrying the bottle of lotion like a sword. She spotted Sherlock and Trevelyan and grabbed Father by the shoulders and planted a firm kiss on his lips.
“You are brilliant!” she said, in a loud whisper.
“Yes,” he said, sounding confused. “I know.”
The night seemed to go more smoothly, aside from what sounded like an emergency bath around two in the morning. Father left to go back to work, looking very pleased about it while attempting to look regretful. Mycroft assumed the role of helper, and he and Mummy managed to get through the next two days without too much difficulty. The blisters burst and scabbed over after that and so the itching stopped. Then it was just general malaise, which was still aggravating to two normally busy children.
Mummy and Mycroft took turns reading The Scarlet Pimpernel to them. They were both very enamoured by the action, but less enamoured with the romance.
“Why do they keep talking about Marguerite? I want to know about the Pimpernel!” Sherlock complained. “Skip to the good parts.”
“If I skip, you'll lose the details you'll need to understand the story,” Mycroft said.
“Well, it's obvious that her husband is The Pimpernel,” Sherlock said. “What more do I need to know?”
“You always ruin everything!” Trevelyan complained, kicking at his shin.
“I wouldn't if you were smarter,” Sherlock said. “Skip to the good parts, Mycroft!”
The good parts also inspired a great debate between Sherlock and Trevelyan about how best to rescue someone from a guillotine, and it eventually required Mycroft to figure out how to build a small scale one in order to settle the argument. It was rough, but he got a working one out of some clothes pegs, yarn, and a bit of aluminium foil to stand in for the blade (forgoing Sherlock's suggestion that a real blade would be 'much better'). Trevelyan's Lego men spent most of the next two days being decapitated while attempts were made to prevent it. Then not to prevent it, because decapitation was really a lot more fun than rescue.
Mycroft might have enjoyed this experiment more than he let on.
By the time school break was over, Sherlock and Trevelyan were mostly back to themselves, although still covered with scabs. Mycroft was due to return in the morning, and he had never been more ready to return to school than he was this time. He had no idea how Mummy possibly dealt with his brothers on a daily basis. She even had to do it when they were well, which he imagined was much worse.
He was in bed, reading. Mummy opened the door and peered in, before coming in all the way and sitting on the end of his bed.
“All packed?” she asked.
“Yes,” Mycroft said. “Trevelyan 'helped'.”
“Oh dear,” Mummy said. “He does like to fold things.”
“It's all right, I refolded them properly after he left,” Mycroft said.
She smiled. “Thank you very much for all your help,” she said. “I'm sure it wasn't a fun break for you, but you were a big help.”
“It was no trouble,” Mycroft said.
“That is a lie,” she said. She patted his hand. “And I appreciate it. Are you sure you're all right to take a cab up to the station in the morning? I can drive you.”
“You'll never get Sherlock and Trevelyan into the car,” Mycroft said. “I don't mind. It'll be quieter, anyway.”
“All right,” Mummy said. She patted his hand again. “Good night, dear.”
“Night,” Mycroft said.
She left the room, and he went back to his book, reading for a while longer before he turned out the lights. He wasn't yet asleep when the door to his room opened and a small figure tip-toed up to the side of his bed. His blankets were gently tugged.
“Go back to sleep, Trevelyan,” he said.
The tugging continued. “I had a bad dream,” he whispered.
Mycroft internally sighed and sat up to turn on his light. Trevelyan's pupils contracted sharply in his very wide eyes, his lazy one once again looking to his nose. Mycroft shifted over in his bed and patted the sheets.
“All right,” he said. “Come on. Just until you aren't scared anymore.”
“I'm not scared,” Trevelyan said, even as he climbed up onto the bed.
“Do you want to tell me about your dream?” Mycroft asked.
“No,” Trevelyan said. “Would you tell me a story?”
Mycroft sighed externally now, but softly so Trevelyan couldn't hear. It was his last night at home for the next two months, he supposed he could keep his patience long enough to get Trevelyan back to bed.
He just hoped no one got measles over summer.