Characters: Q, Mummy, Mycroft, Sherlock
Warnings/Triggers: brief disarming of bombs, some discussion of a dead parent, oblique references to past drug use
Spoilers: The Reichenbach Fall
Word Count 6,013
Summary: The Quartermaster, The British Government and the Deadman Walking come home for Christmas with their mother.
Author's notes: This ended up being both longer and more bittersweet than I was expecting. I wouldn't call it angsty, but there's a few semi-sad moments in it. It is a complete, stand alone story, but I may write another part of it. I'm not sure if the second part is fully needed, so we'll see how it goes.
Set in the Trio 'verse.
Since the children had grown up and moved out, the Holmes family's Christmas dinner rarely happened on Christmas day. Or near Christmas day. Trying to get all four of them in one place at one time was nigh on impossible. Someone always had something they couldn't break. It tended to float around the calendar like a moveable feast. Sometimes it settled close to Sherlock's birthday, killing two birds with one stone. Other times it slipped off into March or April. Once, they did it in July.
It had become even harder since Q was promoted to his current position. The government could easily get by without its Shadow Leader or its Quartermaster, but losing both of them, even for a day, made people nervous. And if Sherlock had a case, there was no hope of getting him away from it. He was still legally dead this year, as well, which made things rather more difficult.
Mummy tended to put her foot down at some point and announce a date, on which it was expected everyone would get there, hell or high water.
The previous year, Christmas had been essentially cancelled. All of them were lying low until it was clear how deep Moriarty's spying and plans had gone in regards to them. It was simply safer to avoid getting together and Mummy had done individual visits to Q and Mycroft rather than a group affair. It also felt a bit rude to do it without Sherlock.
This year, things had died down enough that they felt it was safe to proceed and that Sherlock might be able to get into the country to join them without it being too dangerous for him.
Mummy had selected January 15th. She was optimistic that Sherlock would attend, dead or not. He would find a way to get there. Q was less convinced.
The wintry, winding roads to the house were more harrowing than he remembered from when he was younger and stupid and trying to bother Mycroft by zooming around them. He was relieved when he got out of the hired car that all the pieces were still there.
He grabbed his things and walked around to the back of the house, entering the kitchen through the French doors. The smell of food hit him in the face, making his stomach growl in a way it rarely did. He didn't care much for food one way or the other—he certainly didn't have Mycroft's palate—but there was something about Christmas dinner that made him hungry.
Mummy sat at the island amid a pile of cookbooks, recipes, and ingredients. Whatever project she worked on spread out from her like a blast zone.
“Hello!” she greeted him. She brushed her hands on her pinny before wrapping him in a warm hug and kissing his cheeks. She pushed him back to arm's length and he stood for inspection. Her eyes went up and down, then crinkled at the corners with a smile. Apparently, he'd passed. She brushed the lipstick from his cheek with her thumb. “Mycroft rang. He was going to take the next train out, but he's been delayed, so he's planning on the one after that. Which means he should be on the one after that. You'll have time for a nap if you'd like.”
Q didn't bother to try and deny how long he'd been awake for. It was like trying to deny murder with a bloody knife in your hand. The evidence was all there for her and irrefutable. “All right,” he said, as a dodge. Then he changed the subject, “I brought you a new router.”
“I don't need a new router,” she said.
“This one is faster,” he explained.
“The one I have is fast enough,” she said.
“But...it's better,” he said, confused.
She gave him the smile that meant she thought he was being adorable; a sort of amused affection. “It's very thoughtful, thank you.”
“Do you need help?” he asked, glancing around at the mess. He knew it was organized chaos, but it just looked like regular chaos.
“No, I think I have everything under control, thank you,” she said. “I'm making you a little pie for your main, with squash and spinach and...” she glanced down at her recipe. “Barley. Is that all right?”
“Sounds lovely,” he said.
His vegetarianism was less a moral choice than a result of Sherlock's gleeful discussion of abattoirs when he was little and he could occasionally get meat into him if it was hidden, or he really needed the iron, or he just tried not to think too hard. Mummy always accommodated his preferences, though. He didn't feel bad; he thought she enjoyed the challenge.
She gave him a searching look. “Any word from Sherlock?”
“No. I'm sorry, “ Q said. “I sent the message out, but I haven't received a response.”
“It's not your fault,” she said. “I'm sure he can't easily communicate, doing what he's doing. We'll prepare for him and he'll come if he can.”
Q smiled and nodded. He hoped she wouldn't be too disappointed.
He went to the front room to install the router. The house was decorated up for Christmas, which wasn't always the case when they celebrated. Christmas trees in January weren't too ridiculous, but in July they were a bit silly. She'd broken the rule about keeping it up past Twelfth Night, which was also Sherlock's birthday. When Q was little, he assumed that Twelfth Night was simply another word for 'Sherlock's birthday', as though he got a special name for his because that's the sort of thing he'd do. It didn't even seem odd that Shakespeare had written a play about it.
He paused to admire the familiar decorations. There were the usual three large boxes under the tree, one for each child. Putting everything in one box helped prevent guessing before presents were opened.
He went over to the desk where Mummy's PC was and installed the new router, testing to make sure it was working correctly. Afterwards, he looked around for something to occupy himself. He decided that having a nap wasn't a bad idea. Family gatherings could be tiring, even when they went well. And if Sherlock did show up, Q would have to help play mediator, which required a good deal of energy. He went up to his old room, which was clean and tidy and had fresh sheets on the bed in preparation for him.
When he woke up a few hours later, a snowstorm had blown in; the sort that were uncommon when he was a child but had become more frequent of later years, especially outside of London. Mycroft would have a lovely drive from the station if he hadn't arrived yet.
The smells from the kitchen were even more enticing when Q returned. The chaos was a little less chaotic and Mummy had the crossword puzzles from various newspapers spread out in front of her, working on all of them at the same time.
“Mycroft is in transit,” she said. “He should be on the road, now.” She looked out the window fretfully.
“Mr Silver will be driving,” Q said. “I have been present in the car with him in much worse conditions than this. They'll be fine.”
Mummy didn't look reassured. She had her mobile by her hand, as though having it nearby would somehow prevent it from ringing with bad news.
“'Tasty',” she said. “Five letters. Ends in D.”
Q cast through his vocabulary. “Er...come back to me.”
She moved onwards, filling in words between moving food in and out of the ovens or adding ingredients to something. Q took the rest of the newspapers to the breakfast nook to read through. His mobile rang, the ring tone he'd assigned to Q-branch sounding.
“I told you to ring on pain of death,” he answered it.
“007 has a bomb strapped to his leg,” R said. “We could help and it would probably be fine, or you can help and it will definitely be fine.”
“Patch my tablet through,” Q said, looking quickly around for where he'd left it.
Mummy pointed to his bag in the corner. He pulled it out and set it up on the table.
“I'm on holiday, 007, this is inconvenient,” he said.
Bond's laugh made the sound wave on the screen jiggle up and down. “It wasn't by choice.”
“How much time?” Q asked.
“Three minutes,” Bond said.
“Oh, well, no worries, that's ages,” Q said, brightly. “Tell me what you're looking at and what tools you have to work with.”
Bond explained the set-up and Q ran it through databases for something similar. It didn't come up perfectly with anything they'd encountered before. Q would have to work blind. He was grateful he'd installed the new router. This was no time to buffer.
Mummy helpfully passed over an egg timer for Q to monitor how much time he had left and sat quietly at the island, her clasped hands the only sign that she was anxious.
“Cut the blue wire,” Q said, with 45 seconds to spare. He waited. “Have you blown up?”
“No,” Bond said.
“Excellent. Now, hold the yellow and red wires together and cut them simultaneously,” Q said. “I suggest you hold the cutters from above so that you don't snip one before the other.”
“Done,” Bond said.
“Now, to be perfectly honest, I can think of three ways for doing the next part, but all of them involve you not having a leg when I'm done,” Q said. “So, I'm going out on a bit of a limb—apologies for the pun—to work around that. I can guarantee you life if you're willing to lose your leg, however.”
“I'll take the risk,” Bond said. “Ten seconds. What do I do?”
“Pour water on the timer,” Q said. “And pray to your God.”
He waited. The egg timer dinged cheerfully. There was no blast.
“Still in one piece?” Q asked.
“More or less,” Bond said. “A bit wet, though.”
“Get a towel,” Q advised. “I'll leave it to the Acting Quartermaster to extract you.”
“Thank you,” Bond said. “Enjoy your holiday.”
Q disconnected and let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. Mummy did the same.
“You handled that very well, Trevelyan,” she said, as though he'd merely brought home a good report card.
“Thank you,” he said. “Sapid.”
“Pardon?” Mummy said.
“Sapid is a five-letter word for tasty.”
Mycroft blew-in an hour later looking harassed and irritable. Which was how he always looked, but now with added red cheeks from the cold. Mummy refused to let Mr Silver back on the road until the storm had calmed down and so tea was served to everyone.
Mummy drew the very laconic Mr Silver into a halted but polite conversation and Q and Mycroft had a conversation of their own, entirely by eyebrow raises. It was skill honed over many years and frequently used by two brothers to discuss the other while he wasn't looking.
'Heard from Sherlock?' Mycroft's eyebrows asked.
'No. You?' Q replied.
'Is she okay?'
'There's still time.'
'I suppose so.'
The storm lessened and Mr Silver beat a quick exit, leaving the family on their own. Mummy switched from tea to wine, and Q accepted a glass even though he didn't normally drink wine. Really only at family gatherings. MI-6's shrink would have a field day with that.
Mycroft received his inspection along with his glass and a proper greeting. He did not earn such a glowing report as Q; he got a stern look instead of a smile and an enquiry into the state of his blood pressure. Mycroft assured her it was within acceptable ranges, which was a lie and everyone knew it.
“You will relax, Mycroft,” Mummy ordered. “And you will not leave this house until you are relaxed.”
“Yes, Mummy,” Mycroft said.
He slipped into the nook next to Q and sipped at his wine, alternating between relaxing his shoulders and tensing up until a stern look from Mummy made him attempt to relax again.
“How has your day been?” he asked Q.
“Oh, you know, unquiet quiet carriage, bad roads, disarming of bombs,” Q said. “The usual. How about you?”
“The usual,” Mycroft agreed. “It's as if they know I want to leave and plan to prevent it in every possible way.”
“You could simply go AWOL,” Q said.
“That would be nice,” Mycroft said.
“You don't even have a tracking dot,” Q said, looking down at his arm where his had been implanted. “You could really disappear.”
“We both know you could have that disabled in a moment,” Mycroft said.
Q grinned. “I don't know what you mean.”
Mycroft smiled. He looked a bit more relaxed now. This was really the only environment Q ever saw him relaxed. He couldn't remember a time when Mycroft wasn't tense, really. Not since Father's death, anyway.
Mummy declared that all the food was ready or could be made ready without her being present, and so they all retired to the music room. Q supposed that in most families, spending time with each other meant chatting and visiting, but in his family, it mostly involved sitting together in the same room and doing one's own thing, with the occasional conversation cropping up here and there.
Mummy set in to work on a sketch for her latest painting. Mycroft put himself on the settee with the newspapers. Q sat down at the piano and played.
Q didn't often experience nostalgia, but, sitting there in such a familiar setting made him very aware of the absences and he had a sudden fierce longing for when he was little and everyone was both alive and legally alive, and Christmas happened on Christmas, and things weren't as complicated.
This was why he didn't drink wine. It made him sentimental.
As the evening rolled onwards, it became apparent that all the food was ready and Mummy was waiting on Sherlock. Q and Mycroft had another conversation with their eyebrows wherein they discussed how long they could realistically wait. They both concluded they'd give it a bit longer before bringing it up. Mycroft set up the chess table and they played a game, and then other game, and then a tie-breaker.
At 6:03pm, the French doors opened and an abominable snowman stepped through.
“Sherlock!” Mummy exclaimed, happily.
He was dusted with snow, and reeked of fish, and looked homeless, but it was undoubtedly Sherlock.
“You're just in time for dinner,” Mummy said. She stepped forward with arms outstretched but didn't quite make it to him before she reconsidered. “After you have a shower.”
Sherlock's post-shower inspection was the longest and most thorough of the three of them—and the most disapproving. Mummy hmmmed and frowned and fussed, poking him in the ribs, tutting at a bruise on his arm, and attempting to do something with his hair that was long enough to form ringlets while it was wet.
“I am perfectly fine,” Sherlock kept saying.
Mummy finally just wrapped him in a hug that lasted for several long seconds, until Sherlock actually looked at his watch behind her back.
“It's so nice to see you,” Mummy said. She stepped back and sniffed, then hurried off to the kitchen with the excuse of setting out the food.
“Fish trawler?” Mycroft guessed, giving Sherlock a scrutinizing look.
“From Norway,” Sherlock agreed. “I came into New Holland and hired a car.” He looked to Trevelyan. “Nice message.”
“Did you like the code?” Trevelyan said. “I thought you'd like the code.”
“Based on the phrase 'happy Christmas clotpole',” Sherlock said. “Yes, it was very touching.”
Trevelyan grinned. “It was a sort of tribute to the busy work Father used to give us,“
“I gathered,” Sherlock said.
“How far did you walk?” Mycroft asked.
Sherlock pointed vaguely behind him. “Just through the woods a bit and across the speedwell field,” he said. “I parked in the clearing. I thought I'd be less conspicuous on foot.”
“How on Earth did you get a car into the clearing?” Mycroft asked.
“Carefully,” Sherlock said. “Stop asking me questions.”
Mycroft put his hands up in a peaceful gesture. “I'll go and see if Mummy needs help.”
He shot Q a look that said 'he likes you more than me, find things out'. Q shrugged the implication that it was going to be difficult, but he'd try. Sherlock sat down on the piano bench and hit a few keys.
“Mummy will be pleased you made it,” Q said.
“I know,” Sherlock said.
“I hope it wasn't too difficult to get here,” Q tried.
“No more difficult than it is to get anywhere,” Sherlock said.
Q decided to forgo subtlety. “Are you okay?”
Sherlock looked over in surprise, as though he wasn't anticipating the question. “Yes,” he said. “Why?”
“Because it wouldn't be good if you weren’t?” Q said, uncertainly.
“Oh,” Sherlock said. “Yes. All right. No, I'm fine. Healthy. Sane. Not dead. Fine.”
“How did New York go?” Q asked.
“Very well,” Sherlock said. He looked down at the keys while he played a one-handed song. “I think I'm almost done.”
“Do you mean...you could come home?” Q said.
“Yes. In the next few months, possibly,” Sherlock said. He looked over quickly. “Don't tell anyone, I don't want to get hopes up.”
Q nodded and mentally tamped down on his hopes. “All right. Have you thought about how you're going to...?”
“No,” Sherlock said.
“I'll help,” Q said. “When you're ready, let me know. I'll make you appear again.”
Sherlock nodded his thanks. He focused on the piano, managing a simple tune with both hands. Sherlock had given up piano in favour of only violin and his skill level wasn't nearly as advanced as Q's. He frowned as he hit a wrong key. Q hit the right one on the other end of the piano. Sherlock corrected himself with a little huff of annoyance.
Ting. Ting. Ting
Sherlock's playing came to a halt.
“Did she just dinner bell us?” Q asked.
“I believe we've been dinner belled,” Sherlock said. “Has someone done something important?”
Mummy only used the dinner bell on very special occasions.
“Prodigal son returns,” Q said. “I suppose that's important enough.”
When things became bad at family gatherings, it always happened at dinner, when the actual consumption of food was taking place. Sherlock's dislike of eating left his mouth unoccupied, and his dislike of boredom made his mouth say things to antagonize Mycroft, and, less often, Q. It was a slow escalation, with Mycroft managing to take the high ground through most of the meal, but ultimately losing his patience by pudding. Then Mummy and Q would start a desperate conversation with each other in order to deescalate the situation.
Q himself didn't know the full details of how Sherlock and Mycroft fell out with one another. It seemed to start shortly after Father's death when Sherlock really began testing his limits and Mycroft overstepped his bounds as head of the family. Q accepted Mycroft's role as pseudo-father more easily, perhaps because he was younger. And Mycroft did take on the duties that a father would. He taught him how to shave, how to drive, picked him up from jail or the pub or France when he did stupid things. He was annoying, of course, and psychopathic when it came to keeping an eye on them, but he meant well. Q could see that he meant well. He wasn't sure if Sherlock could.
Thankfully, the animosity seemed to have reached its zenith around the time Sherlock went into rehab and had been on the decline since. Which didn't mean that it was in any way an amicable relationship, but at least they could sit in the same room together again.
Perhaps because it had been a while since they'd seen each other, the jibes were kept to a minimum, and Sherlock spent most of the meal behaving like a normal person and catching up with everyone, as though he were actually interested in what they were doing. It was probably more because he genuinely hated to be out of the loop or be the only one in a room who didn't know something.
In fact, Q noticed that Sherlock said very little, comparatively, over dinner. He ate the minimum amount of food that would keep Mummy from complaining and added his sarcasm here and there, but it was almost as though he was a bit disconnected. Maybe he wasn't used to be sociable anymore, after so much time on his own. Or maybe he'd fell out of step of the rest of them. It was odd because Q never really felt like Sherlock was in step in the first place. Sherlock was the least interested in family matters of all of them, but Q could clearly feel where he should be contributing and he wasn't. He could hear the lulls in the rhythm of the conversation where his voice should come in and he'd miss his cue or be a beat behind or ignore it altogether.
It was a bit sad.
After dinner, Q went to the kitchen to get the tea. Sherlock arrived a few minutes later with a packet of fags and a lighter in hand. He opened the French doors and leaned against the frame to blow the smoke out of the house.
“I thought you'd quit?” Q said. He hunched himself into his cardy to combat the chill from outside.
“I started again,” Sherlock said, around the fag. He offered the packet to Q with a raised eyebrow.
“No, thank you,” Q said. “I have quit. Mostly. It's too far of a bloody walk to get out of MI-6 for a break, and by the time I got out someone always called me back in. And I only ever want to smoke there, anyway, so there's no point in keeping the habit. What happened to the patches?”
“They stopped working,” Sherlock said. “And if I put any more on at a time, I was looking at nicotine poisoning. This is safer.”
“I tried the patches, but apparently they made me behave 'erratically',” Q said. “The minions intervened.”
“What did you do?” Sherlock asked.
“Showed concerned for another person's well-being,” Q said.
“Oh, yes, definitely not good for you,” Sherlock said.
“They did seem rather alarmed,” Q agreed. “And besides, it's not the nicotine I need, it's the physical act of smoking.”
“I need the nicotine,” Sherlock said, taking a long drag and blowing a smoke ring out.
The kettle boiled and Q prepared the tea according to everyone's specifications. Sherlock stubbed out his fag and tossed it into the snow outside. He left Q on his own to get the four mugs to the dining room, whereupon Q discovered that everyone had moved to the front room. He reorganized and made it without spilling.
“We thought we'd do presents before pudding,” Mummy explained.
Q went back to the kitchen to get his present. The brothers used a complicated barter system of favours as presents and hadn't bought physical ones for each other in years. Mycroft handed Sherlock and Q their boxes, then retrieved his own. Mummy always waited until they were finished before she opened hers so she could see all the reactions.
She was extremely careful that everyone had the exact same number of items totalling the exact same amount of money. Any inadvertent disparity would induce cries of favouritism. So, while each box was tailored to individual tastes, it was packed so that everyone had the same number of small presents, medium-sized presents, and one large present.
Q liked to dig through his box, getting everything out to see what he had and then going back more thoroughly to admire. Sherlock took one thing out at a time and thoroughly examined it, then put it aside to move on to the next. Mycroft fell somewhere in between, pausing to admire and then moving on.
Soon all three of them had little piles growing beside them. Gift vouchers always came first—clothes, books, and then something more specific for each of them. Then the practical things: thumb drives and tablet styli for Q, pen refills and collar stiffeners for Mycroft, microscope slides and blank sheet music for Sherlock.
“I wasn't sure what to do for you, Sherlock,” Mummy said. “I thought of trying to give you helpful things, but since I don't know what you're doing, I didn't know what might be useful. I didn't want to bog you down, either. So, I've just bought what I would have bought normally, and you can leave everything you don't need here for when you come home again.”
“That's fine,” Sherlock said.
“I have some the things from your flat,” Mummy added. “Your Mrs Hudson made sure your more personal items got to me. She didn't feel comfortable disposing of them herself. I have your little wooden box and some of your bric-à-brac and photos.”
Sherlock nodded and delved deeper into his box.
The fun things came next. Sheet music for Sherlock and Q and a sketchbook and pencils for Mycroft (a not so subtle hint on Mummy's part that she thought his blood pressure would be better if he went back to drawing). Sherlock received a Swiss Army ring with tiny tools that fit neatly in it. It went directly onto his finger and did not move from there for the rest of the evening. Q had a bracelet that could be used to charge his devices. Mycroft received a set of whiskey stones. Everyone had a new pair of buttery leather gloves and Mycroft and Q had new cufflinks. Sherlock had a new belt.
Q lost track of everyone else's things as he continued to delve through his own box. Finally, everything was out, except for a picture frame at the very bottom. It was wrapped in bubble wrap so as not to be crushed by the items above it. Q pulled it out and unwrapped it. Sherlock noticed and went searching to see if he had one too. He did. So did Mycroft.
“I was going through the attic and I found some of Grand-maman's photos,” Mummy explained. “It seemed a shame to have them sit around, so I've chosen one for each of you. I'm working on organizing the rest and putting them into some sort of book or display.”
Q hadn't seen many of his grandmother's photos. He remembered her with her camera: lying or sitting perfectly still for ages to capture just the right millisecond of time. She had an excellent eye for detail. That was before the time of instant results, though, and she would have developed them much later. He'd probably forgot about them by then.
Q's photo was of the view from the beach house in Nice, looking out toward the water. A wave was coming in and in the process of wiping away a set of small footprints along the shore.
“Those are your feet, Trevelyan,” Mummy said. “That's where you learned to walk.”
Sherlock leaned over to get a look at Q's photo and Q could see his. It was of a tree near the house, where Sherlock's treehouse had been when they were little. The photo had been taken near the end of autumn, when the leaves were half gone, leaving an unobscured view of the platform. A Jolly Roger blew limply in a gentle breeze.
Mycroft's photo was of a hummingbird in mid-flight. Q wasn't sure what the significance of it was, but from the wistful half-smile on his face, it obviously had some meaning for him.
“Thank you, Mummy, it's very thoughtful,” he said.
Sherlock and Trevelyan echoed the thought. Well, Trevelyan did. Sherlock sort of grunted in an approving fashion.
They waited for Sherlock to finish going through his box, then moved on to Mummy's presents. She was extremely easy to shop for as she had a myriad of hobbies and interests, and if something to match those couldn't be found, she was equally delighted to find something new to learn about. She was always doing something, and Q supposed it was by necessity now that the children had all moved out. She travelled a lot and lived in France for part of the year, but it was a big house to be in on your own in even part of the time. She didn't seem to be lonely, though.
She hadn't dated at all since Father's death, which was over twenty years ago now. Q wasn't sure if she was really that attached to him or if she was simply content to be by herself. He'd never been in the sort of love that would warrant spending a life together; he had no frame of reference for what it would be like to lose that person. Perhaps there was no way to move on from it.
Or maybe she just realized how hard it would be to find a man willing to withstand the scrutiny her sons would put him under.
Mummy opened her presents and cooed equally over all of them. Sherlock gave her a bracelet he had probably grabbed his last minute from some sort of market he was passing through. It was made out of broken china and it suited Mummy's love of unusual jewellery. She put it right on her wrist. Q had built her a better case for carrying her art and supplies around with her—none of the ones on the market did the job well enough, so he examined them and improved. Mycroft gave her season passes to both the LSO and the Orchestre de France, which was fairly standard for him. He always gave experiences over physical objects.
That was about as much family time as any of them, including Mummy, could stand, and once pudding was served, they broke off to do their own things. Mycroft flicked on the rolling news on the telly and watched while he sketched in his new book. Q put his earphones in and put on some music to listen to while he checked his e-mails. Sherlock went out for another cigarette, undeterred by Mummy's stern gaze.
“I suppose he must be very stressed,” she said after he'd left. “But he was doing so well.”
“It's a better outlet than some other vices he could have chosen to take up again,” Mycroft said.
“Yes, that's true,” Mummy said.
“At least it will kill him slowly,” Q offered.
Mummy gave him a withering look, and he was fairly certain his face melted slightly under the force of it. “That is not helpful, Trevelyan.”
Q turned his music up louder and hid behind his tablet.
Mummy went to do some work on a jigsaw puzzle she had on the go. She coerced Sherlock over to help when he returned and Q could see her doing a full interrogation on him, while he looked increasingly desperate for escape. He tried to eyebrow convo Q for a distraction, but Q just looked confused and shrugged to imply he couldn't possibly understand what he was indicating.
He would probably pay for that later, but it was entertaining for now.
Finally, she let Sherlock go and he went to a corner and read a new book he'd been given, placing himself to be blocked by the Christmas tree. They carried on like this for the next few hours, before Mycroft looked at his watch and waved to get Q's attention.
“You should catch the next train,” he said. “And I'll take the last one out. You'll have to leave soon. I'll borrow Mummy's car and drive myself.”
“Oh, yes, I forgot you two can't share transportation,” Sherlock said. “I'm sure the world would devolve into some sort of dystopian anarchy if you were to be killed in the same accident.”
“Sherlock,” Mummy said, in warning. She looked out the window. “You should check the trains, Trevelyan, you know how it is when there's snow.”
Q navigated to the Nation Rail website. A huge list of 'cancelled' and 'delayed' flashed prominently on the screen.
“I don't believe we're going anywhere tonight,” he said. “I'm booked off until tomorrow afternoon. Can London spare you?”
“I suppose they'll have to,” Mycroft said.
“Your beds are all made up,” Mummy said. “I thought this might happen when I saw the weather this morning. You're welcome to stay for as long as you need. Sherlock, were you planning on... er... visiting for long?”
“I can stay the night,” Sherlock said.
Mummy looked so pleased with the results that Q wondered if she hadn't chosen the date of their celebration based on the weather. He supposed she couldn't have known that far in advance, but rather like with Sherlock, Q found it very easy to believe she had superpowers. He might even believe she'd conjured up the storm herself.
None of them was prone to going to bed early, and it was well past two in the morning before anyone made a move. Mummy turned out the lights on the Christmas tree and Q and Mycroft made sure all the doors were locked, then went upstairs, Sherlock trailing behind them.
It was a bit of deja-vu going to bed. It had been years since all three of them slept under the same roof, but they fell into their old habits easily. Q and Sherlock fought over who was going to use their shared loo first, prompting Mycroft to come back out of his room to tell them to grow-up.
“Sherlock, you've already had a shower, let Trevelyan go first,” he ordered.
Sherlock mimicked him silently, making Q laugh and Mycroft sigh and retreat, which made Sherlock laugh.
“You can't use the excuse of being older anymore,” Q said.
“Yes, I can, it's not as though you've somehow lapped me in age,” Sherlock said.
“I meant, surely we've grown-up enough that you no longer have to exert your authority over me,” Q said.
Sherlock pointed sternly at him. “I can promise you that I will never stop exerting my authority over you.”
“Well, I suppose it's rather comforting to have something so consistent in my life,” Q said.
He backed off and let Sherlock have the loo first, for old time's sake. Then he showered and put on his pyjamas. All of them had least one set of clothes stored away, as the house was designated 'safe' and could be used as a place of refuge in the event of emergencies. He climbed into bed, and brought a book up on his tablet to read.
Mummy knocked and stuck her head in a short while later.
“Do you have everything you need, dear?” she asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Q said.
“All right, have a good sleep,” she said. “Happy Christmas. I love you.”
“Likewise,” Q said.
She closed the door and he could hear her padding down the hallway and her muffled voice checking on Sherlock, then her even more muffled voice checking on Mycroft, and finally her bedroom door close. All sounds he knew from childhood and hadn't realized he could still recognize.
He found himself more sleepy than he usually was, especially considering he'd already had a nap that day. It wasn't quite sleepiness, he realized. It was relaxation. He was relaxed. It had been a long time since that happened.
And even though there were still absences, and tomorrow Sherlock would still be legally dead, and Q would return to disarming bombs and Mycroft would go back to ruling the world, for the moment at least, things were simple.
And that's all he wanted really, or could stand. Simple wasn't for him. But every once in a while, it was nice to have a moment.