Characters: Q, Mycroft, Mummy
Warnings/Triggers: someone losing a home to a fire, brief vomiting, references to and discussion of a dead parent
Spoilers:The Reichenbach Fall, Skyfall
Word Count 5,868
Summary: Q finds himself temporarily homeless, and is taken in by his big brother.
Author's notes: I really struggled to get Mycroft and Q to have a story to themselves, and then once I got going...I couldn't stop. So, this is quite long. More of a character study than anything. I hope it's okay.
Makes references to "Simple Things", set between that and "Most of the Time". Trio 'verse stories.
Hey look, no ships!
Q had most of the functions in his flat linked into an app on his phone. He could turn the lights on and off, change the temperature, unlock his security system, all with a touch of a button. It was also programmed to send an alert if a door or window was opened or someone failed to pass his security systems.
Or if the smoke detector went off.
He was very deep into a harrowing extraction when his mobile beeped the alert, and he could only regard it with mild puzzlement, and back-up his hard drives to a secure cloud (another function of the app). Then he put it from his mind, and forgot about it completely. It wasn't until much later, when the rolling news that was constantly played on a screen in the corner of his office had a very clear picture of his block of flats on it that he realized the full impact of what had gone on. There was some mobile footage from a bystander of flames licking out of the windows. Then some footage of the fire trucks arriving. Then a live view of badly damaged building. The chrono on the bottom of the screen said there were no injuries. That was good. But Q could see the windows of his flat in the background of the shot, and they were shattered and covered in soot. That was not good.
He removed his mobile from his pocket and brought up the contacts, selecting 'BG' from the list.
“Mycroft?” he said, when The British Government answered. “I may need somewhere to stay.”
“I'm afraid the townhouse is being let out,” Mycroft said. He gestured for his assistant to come in to the room. “It won't be empty for another few weeks.”
“I didn't know we let out the townhouse,” Trevelyan said.
“We do. It stands empty most of the year, and as we own it, it seemed a good venture,” Mycroft said. He scanned over the documents his assistant had placed on his desk, pointing to one and shaking his head. She took it away.
“Does that mean someone is using my piano?” Trevelyan asked, sounding disgruntled.
“I've no idea. But as you have at least three other 'your pianos', I think you could share,” Mycroft said.
“Two,” Trevelyan said, sadly. “I don't think the one in my flat is alive anymore.”
“Then we will find you a new one,” Mycroft said. He signed another document and his assistant took it away. “Now, as I said, the townhouse is empty. I may be able to find you a temporary flat, but at the very least it will take a few days. You're welcome to stay in the Penthouse in the meantime.”
“Aren't you living in the Penthouse?” Trevelyan said.
“It takes up almost the entire floor of the building, I'm sure we won't be stepping on each other's toes,” Mycroft said. He signed another document, adding a caveat to the bottom of it.
“I suppose so,” Trevelyan said, sounding sceptical.
“Baker Street is empty for the moment,” Mycroft said, dryly. “You could always see if Mrs Hudson would put you up.”
“The Penthouse will be fine,” Trevelyan said.
“Very well. Move yourself in whenever you're ready,” Mycroft said. “I'll see you at home later on.”
“I don't have a home,” Trevelyan said.
“Then we will find you a new one.”
It had been a long time since Q and Mycroft lived in the same place. In fact, Q had never been alive during a time when Mycroft was living at home. He was already away at public school by the time Q was born, and gone off to uni when Q was seven. He'd spent much more time under the same roof as Sherlock than he had with Mycroft.
It was really a wonder he was as well-adjusted as he was, considering.
Q used to stay in the Penthouse when he came up on breaks from uni, but he hadn't been in it in years. It was an odd, eccentric space, well-suited to Mummy and Sherlock's more eclectic tastes, but Q found it a bit too angular for him. He preferred clean lines and simplicity. All the polygonal rooms made it feel like he was living in some sort of cubist painting. Mycroft had the master bedroom, which was fine. It left the least angular bedroom for Q to inhabit. He put what little he had brought with him away, and went out to the living room with the emergency laptop he'd purchased, connecting it to the Penthouse WiFi and retrieving his data from the cloud.
He didn't consider himself very materialistic, and there were maybe two or three items in the whole of his flat he would consider irreplacable. It was an MI-6 assigned abode, and had come pre-decorated, so the furniture wasn't his anyway. His computers were expensive, but not so unique that he couldn't eventually set himself up with something better. His photos, books, and music had all been digitized ages ago, and were safely nestled in the cloud. He knew none of his neighbours names, so he wouldn't miss them. He wasn't sure why he felt sad.
He tried to shake it off and be productive, setting about ordering what he would need from the Internet. Some generic clothes and chargers for his devices, his favourite brand of tea, some proper food, as Mycroft seemed to have nothing stocked that wasn't cardboard flavoured. Enough to get him through a few days, until he could sort himself out properly.
His phone rang, Dvorak's 'Largo' playing out. Mummy. Q winced as he put the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” he said.
“I saw your flat on the news,” she said. “I assumed someone would have rung me by now if you were hurt, so I'm ringing to make sure you are copacetic and to see if you need anything.”
Q always appreciated how to the point Mummy was. 'Here is why I am concerned, an itemized list'. “I'm fine,” he said. “Mycroft has put me up at the Penthouse. I wasn't home when it happened.”
“It wasn't arson, then?” Mummy said.
“Oh, no,” Q said. “No, just an accident, I believe. Certainly not directed at me. It was very poorly planned if it was.”
“Is there anything you need me to send for you, or do?” Mummy asked.
“Not that I can think of,” Q said. “Thank you.”
Mummy a quiet noise in the back of her throat, colloquially known as 'murmaling' among her sons. “All right. Please ring if you need anything. I'm sorry this happened, Trevelyan.”
“I'll be fine,” Q said.
“I believe he's all right,” Mycroft said, cradling his phone between his shoulder and ear as he typed. “I haven't seen him in person yet. I'll be going home shortly.”
“Trevelyan isn't very attached to his things, but he does like them where he puts them,” Mummy said. “He said he didn't think it was an attack. Are we sure?”
What a stressful life his mother must lead to jump to arson as a possibility straight off, Mycroft thought. Though, considering her middle son was technically dead and God knew where, he supposed she might have reason to fear the worst.
“The report has not been filed yet,” Mycroft said. “I'll be examining it when it is. Preliminary findings suggest it originated in his neighbour's flat. Probably faulty wiring. I really don't think we have to be concerned in that area, Mummy, and I will let you know if we do.”
Mummy murmaled. “Will you be all right living together?” she asked.
“It's only temporary,” Mycroft said. “We'll manage fine. Really, please stop worrying. Of all possible outcomes, this is really the best.”
“You're right,” Mummy said. “I'm just concerned about him. Trevelyan has been under a lot of stress lately. With his old mentor dying so suddenly and having to replace him, and his boss dying—and I'm sure he still believes that to be partially his fault—, and...the other thing. He has had the worst luck. Mind him.”
“Of course I will,” Mycroft said.
Mummy seemed placated and rang off. Mycroft finished the e-mails he was working on, and then collected his things to go home. A concerto was being played on the living room piano when he entered. Lizts 'La Campanella', he thought. His mother's love in music had been instilled in him as a child, but, unfortunately, not her patience to pursue an instrument. Sherlock and Trevelyan had the obsessive personalities to become great musicians. Mycroft preferred less frustrating hobbies.
He didn't often see his brother in person, quite rarely considering they lived in the same city and moved in a similar circles. Most of their communication came in the form of e-mail or text or phone calls. Even those were usually business. Occasionally, they carried on a brief correspondence of a more personal nature, which reminded Mycroft of Trevelyan's letters to him at school when he was learning to write. Very brief and to the point; one or two sentences that took up the whole page in wobbly, childish handwriting. 'I have glassis. I don't like them'. Or 'I am a pirat. Sherlock is meen.' Now it was more often, 'I told them they wouldn't get Hawkins' wheelchair into the new Q-branch. What am I suppose to do, carry her over my shoulder?' or 'Don't go to the new Traviata production. It's deplorable.'
“Your Wifi is slow as the second coming,” Trevelyan announced, as Mycroft entered the room. “What are you using?”
“Whatever you told me to use the last time I asked,” Mycroft said. “Six months ago.”
“Oh. Well, you'll need to upgrade again,” Trevelyan said.
“I think I can survive with the speed it is now,” Mycroft said. “I'm not sure if one can go faster than instantly.”
“One can,” Trevelyan said. “If one tries.”
He stopped playing and spun around on the bench. Mycroft hadn't seen him since Christmas. He was often struck by how old his brothers were getting. He understood that time passed, but he didn't felt like it passed for him. He didn't feel like he was getting older, but obviously he was, because Trevelyan was in his thirties now. Good Lord.
“Make whatever modifications you need to,” Mycroft said. “Just keep in mind that I'm the one paying the fees.”
“I don't know if you've noticed, but we're quite rich,” Trevelyan said, in a mock conspiratory fashion.
“And let's stay that way,” Mycroft said.
Q quite happily spent a good deal of money getting himself new equipment. He liked to stay on top of technology, but the limitations of his trust fund meant that he had to be quite prudent in not upgrading until it was wise. Or a little bit wise. Or he couldn't take it any more.
In the meantime, he only had his laptop and tablet to work with, and Mycroft's PC, which was so laden with security that Q, who had designed it, got annoyed with himself for having devised it.
Mycroft largely ignored him, which was perfect. Q stayed in his part of the flat and Mycroft stayed in his, and they spent a pleasant afternoon not seeing each other. He had feared being hovered over and coddled. He really was fine.
Well, he was a bit tired. And sometimes had a stab of an odd feeling of being out of place. And he wished there was work to be done to distract him, but Q -branch was unnaturally quite. But other than that, he was fine.
Except for the shadow creeping into his vision. He blinked hard to make it go away, but it didn't. He sighed and pulled out some aspirin from his messenger bag and swallowed it down.
He'd started getting migraines shortly after his father's death. Perhaps it was the stress of it, or the stress of it being his first year at Harrow, or the fact that he was careening toward puberty and his hormones were running mad. Maybe a combination of all three. They had plagued him throughout his teens, but largely disappeared when he entered his twenties. He still got them occasionally, usually when very stressful things were happening or his irregular schedule was even more irregular than usual.
He'd hoped catching the aura would prevent the migraine from manifesting itself, but he always hoped that and it never did. He worked around the big black hole in his vision, and ignored the olfactory hallucination of cigarette smoke. However, it was quite hard to work around his sudden inability to remember how to open his e-mail client. He accepted that he was going to have to deal with it.
He closed down the laptop and lifted his head. Not a good move. The world went spinning like a top, not just around and around but tilted on a corner and end over end like dice. He breathed deeply in and out and slowly got up to get to bed. He went right into the wall with a loud crash, and grabbed hold of his chair for dear life.
“Mycroft?” he yelled.
Mycroft's first encounter with Trevelyan's migraines happened when he came home for Christmas one year when Trevelyan was about fifteen, and he'd suddenly went pale as death and started tottering around the room and everyone—including Sherlock—seemed to know what to do, but Mycroft didn't.
They were easy to recognize now. He pried Trevelyan way from the chair he was clinging to, and helped him to bed.
“What do you need?” he asked.
“Don't yell,” Trevelyan said, irritably.
“My apologies,” Mycroft whispered. “Do you need painkillers?”
“I've taken aspirin,” Trevelyan mumbled.
“Do you want some hyoscine?” Mycroft asked.
“Erm...yes,” Trevelyan said.
Mycroft brought him some. Trevelyan swallowed it while largely missing his mouth with the water. Mycroft helped him with his shoes, and put the covers over him once he was lying down. He closed the curtains, Trevelyan groaning at the screech of them on the rod.
“Just sleep it off,” Mycroft said. “There's nothing you need to be doing.”
“Work,” Trevelyan said.
“I'll let them know you aren't available,” Mycroft said.
“Text with my phone,” Trevelyan said. “I won't have my brother ringing in ill for me.”
“Yes, that's reasonable,” Mycroft agreed. “Now go to sleep.”
“I miss my flat,” Trevelyan muttered, sadly.
“I know. We'll correct the problem when you wake up.”
Mycroft quietly left the room, keeping the door open a crack in case Trevelyan needed to shout for him. His migraines were violent, but not long in duration. Usually around eight hours precisely. He selected 'R' from the contact list and sent a quick text, trying to sound as much like his brother as possible. R replied instantly, so fast that Mycroft wondered how her fingers moved at such speed. It was fine, it was quiet there. She'd ring if there was an emergency.
Mycroft went to his office, and continued his Skype meeting with a cabinet minister, apologizing for the interruption. The cabinet minister was very obliging, and they concluded their business within the hour. Then Mycroft settled in with a large proposed law to review. A lot of words with not a lot to say. A good three hours worth of reading, especially if one was paying attention. Which Mycroft always was.
He was pulled out of it by the sound of gagging, and hurried in to check on Trevelyan, who was clinging to the bin for dear life. Apparently the hyoscine had been ineffective. There was little to do but wait for the vomiting to end.
“I hate this,” Trevelyan said. “I want to die.”
“Not today,” Mycroft said, holding out his water to rinse and spit. “Only one dead brother at a time, if you please.”
“I hate you,” Trevelyan said. “I hate my life. This is rubbish. I want to go home.”
“I'll get you some mouthwash,” Mycroft said, patiently.
Q woke up with a sour taste in his mouth trying to pass itself off as minty. He opened one eye and then the other, and that went very well. He lifted his head and the world stayed put. He sat up, and it continued to behave itself. The pounding pain and vertigo were gone. Now he was left with the exhausted, hungover feeling, the shakey knees, and the inexplicable craving for Roast Beef-flavour Monster Munch.
He reached for his mobile on his bedside table and checked for messages. There were no e-mails from Q-branch, which Q found very vexing. He knew he should be pleased that they were capable of getting on without him, but he just felt annoyed that they were capable of getting on without him.
He got up and found a note from Mycroft on the back of his door.
Gone to a meeting. Asked concierge to look in on you. Ring him if you need anything. Deliveries for you in the living room.
Q went to the living room to see what had been delivered. Some of it looked to be Mycroft's work, as Q hadn't ordered it. Mostly toiletries. It was slightly disconcerting that they were all the brands that Q preferred, but he convinced himself this was not due to spying, merely Mycroft's ability to smell him and identify his brand of soap. The aftershave, at least, was no mystery at all. It was the same one he'd used his whole life; the one he'd been given to use when Mycroft taught him how to shave.
The rest was Q's grocery order, and, unfortunately, he hadn't had the forethought to include Monster Munch, Roast Beef-flavoured or otherwise.
He wondered if that qualified as enough of an emergency to ring the concierge about.
Mycroft hadn't received any bad news from the Penthouse, and so assumed that Trevelyan had survived his headache. It was quite late at night when he returned home, and he entered quietly in case Trevelyan was resting. He doubted that he would be, and, indeed, he was sat at the island in the kitchen when Mycroft entered. He was eating what looked to be a mixture of Curiously Cinnamon and Curiously Strawberry cereal out of a small mixing bowl, and there were two empty packets of Monster Munch in the bin.
“You do realize you're no longer in university?” Mycroft said.
“The PhD behind my name would suggest that,” Trevelyan agreed. “However, it also suggests that I'm a grown-up, and therefore can do what I like.”
“Touché,” Mycroft said. He got out an apple from the fridge and sat down at the island to peel it. “But perhaps you should use your prerogative to make more sensible choices than eating children's cereal in the middle of the night in your pyjamas.”
“When you put it like that, it does seems a bit juvenile,” Trevelyan said. “I just want to finish this programme. Then I'll lie down for a bit.”
“I'm assuming your headache is gone,” Mycroft said.
“Yes,” Trevelyan said. “Sorry about that.”
“I doubt you intended to do it,” Mycroft said.
“It hasn't happened for a while,” Trevelyan said.
“I think your experiences of the last twenty-four hours would be reason enough to bring one on,” Mycroft said. “Father always had his when things were unsettled.”
“I know he had them, because everyone tells me he had them,” Trevelyan said. “But I don't remember actually seeing one.”
“Do you remember he used to fill the sink up with ice water and stick his hands in?” Mycroft asked.
“No. Oh, wait, I think...” Trevelyan said. “Yes, I think I saw him do it once.”
“That was how he dealt with it,” Mycroft said.
“Mummy told me to do that when I first started getting them,” Trevelyan said. “But it didn't work for me.”
“He had more pain and less vertigo,” Mycroft said. “I don't think they were ever quite as severe as the ones you experience.”
“Did you or Sherlock ever get them?” Trevelyan asked.
“I didn't,” Mycroft said. “And the way Sherlock goes on when he's ill, I'm sure we would have heard about it. I'm afraid you're the only one who inherited it.”
“I suppose there are worse things to inherit,” Trevelyan said.
Mycroft, who had the unfortunate combination of Mummy's appetite and Father's metabolism, agreed. However, being fair, Mycroft supposed that having something that could be controlled with an, albeit strict, diet was easier than having something that struck suddenly and left you helpless.
Perhaps they all had their burdens to bear.
“Did you know Father used to work with the old M?” Trevelyan said. “She mentioned that she knew the man who had invented the deciphering procedure we were working with, once. It was one of Father's.”
“I imagine they would have crossed paths,” Mycroft said. “Same vintage; similar jobs. It's not surprising.”
“She said he was a clever bastard,” Trevelyan said, with a grin.
“Yes, well, we've all inherited that,” Mycroft said.
Q and Mycroft didn't often sit around and chat without something looming over them or it being business or peril-related. Mycroft had been the go-to person when he was younger, even more so than Mummy because she would be upset or worried, and Mycroft wouldn't. Mycroft just listened and dealt with the problem, if there was a way to deal with it. And sometimes even if there wasn't, which was often quite annoying. Q was surprised that they had anything to chat about, now, but the conversation flowed easily. Eventually it circled back to Sherlock, as it tended to do. Sherlock was a touch point— when all other conversation failed, one could always bond over the fact that they were both his brother.
“He sometimes leaves messages on disused forums around the Internet,” Q said. “If he needs information, or me to smooth the way for him. We use some of Father's ciphers from when we were children. It's all very Da Vinci Code, only with far greater writing.”
“I'm surprised he's managed to keep himself dead for this long,” Mycroft said. “He's not particularly known for his ability to avoid attracting attention. I would have thought he'd have grown tired of being unfawned over by now.”
“I'm not sure if I could do what he's doing,” Q said. “I'd like to think if I was put in that position, I'd do the selfless thing. I don't know if I would.”
“Sherlock has always been the hero of his own novel,” Mycroft said. “Even when he was little, and pretending to be a pirate. It's no different now. He's pretending to be a hero.”
“I suppose that means I'm still the sidekick,” Q said.
“And I'm still the villain,” Mycroft said, with a smile.
“You do fit the role rather well,” Q pointed out.
“I know,” Mycroft said. “But I'm afraid I don't know how to stop.”
Or he was afraid to stop, Q thought. He hadn't been nearly so controlling when they were younger. Father's death triggered that. Maybe a need to prevent something bad from happening again. Then he and Sherlock fell out, for reasons Q never quite knew, and Mycroft seemed to clamp down extra hard in an attempt to keep the family together.
“You could start by disabling some of your cameras,” Q suggested.
“I don't have as many as you seem to think I do,” Mycroft said. “My ability to notice things does not mean I spend hours staring at you. Merely that I can see what you've been up to.”
“Yes, and that's annoying,” Q complained. “It's intolerable!”
“It can't be helped,” Mycroft said. “Can you look at a code and not instantly know what it does? Wilfully not know what it does?”
“No,” Q admitted. “It's just like...reading words on a page, I suppose. I can't help but see them.”
“Precisely,” Mycroft said. “You're lucky, in some ways, that your observational skills went in a different direction. It's not the easy way to live one's life.”
“It's not particularly easy to know how to take down the world with a touch of a button and not do it, either,” Q said.
“I know,” Mycroft said, with a smirk. “Why do you think I steered you towards a career where you could do that with impunity?”
Q's mobile trilled a text alert from Q-branch. He flicked it open with his thumb. “Speaking of which,” he said. “I must run. My services are required.”
“Have fun,” Mycroft said.
“Thank you. Goodnight.”
Over the next few days, Mycroft saw very little of Trevelyan. He had gone to work in the morning before Mycroft woke up, and their work schedules and general habits meant that they were in and out of the flat at opposite times and awake and asleep at opposite times. When they were there together, it was big enough that they didn't have to occupy the same space. Trevelyan was a discreet house guest; he left no traces of his presence, aside from the junk food in the kitchen and the mess of sheet music on the piano. It was like not having a house guest at all.
Mycroft's search for a flat was unsuccessful. MI-6 preferred their operatives in assigned flats for security reasons. Mycroft had no issues with this, but at the moment no flats were available that were suitable for Trevelyan. He travelled light, but his computer hub needed to be housed and most of what was available at the moment were studio flats, and they would require Trevelyan to make a choice between having his computers or having a bed. And Mycroft knew which one Trevelyan would choose, as he'd done it before. He'd slept on a small futon on the floor of his bedsit for his first two years of living in London, burning his feet on the radiator when he kicked it in his sleep. He used his trust fund allowance on technology, and refused Mycroft's offer to help with the rent at a bigger place.
They would just have to wait until something was made available.
“They're allowing us back in the flats,” Trevelyan said, on one of the rare occasions they were in the living room together. “Not to live, of course, but to see what can be salvaged. I'm going later today.”
“Would you like me to come with you?” Mycroft asked.
“No,” Trevelyan said, unconvincingly. “You don't have to do that.”
Mycroft played the villain card. “I'll come,” he said, in a firm voice.
“Fine,” Trevelyan said, with a roll of his eyes.
Trevelyan's former block of flats had been converted from a disused factory. This served it well in withstanding the flames. It was mostly brick. The stairs and floors were all mostly intact, even if the contents of the flats weren't. Trevelyan's flat had suffered some of the worst damage. It had been next to the place of origin. Black soot covered the walls and it smelled horrific. Mycroft had never been in it before it had burned, so he couldn't accurately say what had been destroyed. Some sort of metal blob that might have been a wall sculpture was melted and warped in the main hallway. No, perhaps it was designed that way. Trevelyan went right for his computer room.
“I might be able to use some of the parts,” he said, thoughtfully. “I'll come back and take them apart.”
“All right,” Mycroft agreed.
Trevelyan skimmed past the lavatory and on into the living room/kitchen/bedroom area. The damage was less severe here, though still quite extensive. The baby grand was mostly intact; enough for Trevelyan to play a few sour notes on it.
“We could perhaps have that restored,” Mycroft said.
“It will be cheaper to buy a new one,” Trevelyan said. He opened the stool and removed the sheet music—a bit singed, but legible. “Don't worry about it.” He stuffed the sheet music in a suitcase he'd brought, and looked over to the mezzanine above the kitchen, where his bed was housed. “It will hold, but the stairs won't.”
“Do you need to get up there?” Mycroft asked.
“Yes,” Trevelyan said.
Mycroft looked around for something sturdy enough to support him. There wasn't much that wouldn't collapse under his weight, or was tall enough to allow him access.
“Use the bench,” Mycroft said. “It will get you high enough to get purchase. I'll boost you the rest of the way. Like when you used to climb the rock at the beach house.”
“I was seven, Mycroft, I do think I might have become slightly heavier,” Trevelyan said.
“So have I,” Mycroft pointed out.
“Actually, I think you might be less,” Trevelyan said.
“We'll be fine,” Mycroft said.
Trevelyan moved the piano bench over, and Mycroft grabbed his ankles and shoved him high enough to scrabble up. He was only up there for a few moments. He evidently knew what he wanted.
“Catch,” he said.
A box was thrown down. It landed in Mycroft's hands with a jangle. Trevelyan's cufflink collection. There would be some of Father's in there; Mycroft and Trevelyan had divided them between the two of them. Sherlock didn't wear cuff links, and didn't want any of them. Grandmere's photograph came next, the one Trevelyan had received from Mummy at Christmas. The frame was slightly warped, but the photo was unharmed. Trevelyan followed it down.
“That's all?” Mycroft said, as he packed those two objects into the suitcase.
“Yes,” Trevelyan said. “My clothes smell awful; I won't get the smoke out. That's all I want, other than my hard drives. I'll see what I can do with them.”
It seemed an odd, somewhat sad life to only have so little out of a whole flat that meant enough to be saved. Mycroft didn't know what he would save out of his own flat, but surely more than that. He was grateful that he so far hadn't had to choose.
Trevelyan returned to the computer room and pulled some tools from his bag, sitting amongst the rubble and removing the casings. He eyed each piece of hardware critically, and put a few in the suitcase, the rest tossed aside.
“It's not much,” Mycroft noted, as they left.
“I haven't lost anything I regret,” Trevelyan said. “Are you going back to the flat?”
“I am,” Mycroft said.
“Take this,” Trevelyan said, handing him the suitcase. “I have to go to work.” He turned to go, and then turned back to mumble, “thank you for coming with me.”
“You're welcome,” Mycroft said, to his back.
Q had assumed he'd only be homeless for a few days, but it was bordering on two weeks before he had a glimmer of hope of getting out of the Penthouse. Not that it was as bad as he was expecting. It was quite fine, really. He'd always felt a bit in the way with Mycroft, when they were younger. A bit superflous to requirements; just another brother needing attention. He didn't feel that way this time, though. Maybe he'd grown-up enough now that ten years wasn't as big a gap. He would still be pleased to be on his own and self-sufficient again, however.
“Excellent news!” he said, when he found Mycroft up late in his office. “An agent has been killed!”
Mycroft turned in his chair to raise an eyebrow.
“Yes, I admit that sounds worse than it did in my head,” Q said. “It just means a flat might be available soon.”
“How exactly did this man die?” Mycroft asked.
“Are you suggesting I might assassinate someone over realty?” Q said.
“In London, I doubt you'd be the first,” Mycroft said.
“He was killed on a mission. Not in my bailiwick at all, done behind my back, serves them right,” Q replied. “It does, however, leave a flat free. It will take a few days to clear out, and it may come with a cat, but it looks quite promising.”
“It may come with a cat?” Mycroft echoed.
“Yes. The agent owned a cat. No one has been able to find it,” Q said. “I've agreed to look after it should it reappear.”
“You must be desperate,” Mycroft said.
“Quite,” Q agreed.
It was another week before the flat was deemed acceptable for Q to move in. There was a process to dealing with the effects of killed agents, and any sensitive material had to be removed. The flat came furnished, and Q liked it immensely. It was much more roomy and airy than his old flat, with good, solid shapes and high ceilings and a quite industrial, modern feel to it.
It did not take long to move in. Mycroft didn't even force his services on Q to do it. It took an hour, and forty-five minutes of that was setting up his computer hub. The rest was putting clothes and food away, and finding a spot for Grandmere's photo. And the fire extinguisher painted in a union flag that Q-branch had bestowed, thinking it very amusing. He hadn't mentioned any of his affairs to them, but they were all hackers and spies. He supposed it wasn't surprising that news may have reached them or they have reached it.
Mummy sent a pot plant as a flat-warming present. She insisted it would practically take care of itself, just needed a bit of watering once in a while. She thought he needed more greenery in his life, since he didn't get outdoors very often. He put it on his computer desk.
He befriended the cat, who liked opera music, and had emerged to the "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves". She was extremely antisocial, and Q decided they could live together comfortably. He'd renamed her Fenena (from the inexplicable 'Smiley' she came with), but largely thought of her as 'The Cat'.
He was two weeks settled now, and feeling quite at home.
One of his computer screens beeped an alert. A box popped open to inform him that The British Government was typing. Q waited, impatiently, until the message appeared. He hadn't spoken to Mycroft since he'd moved out of the Penthouse. They'd returned to their normal routine of a scattered e-mail here and there. A much more comfortable way of doing things.
I received my bills today. How exactly did you use that much bandwidth?
Send it to me, I will pay in full.
Some of it is mine, I'm sure. We'll split evenly and consider the matter closed. How is your new abode treating you?
Very well. Thank you for the Vernet print.
I noticed yours had been damaged. Thank you for the Macallan.
I thought I should provide some compensation for my stay.
You weren't any trouble, bandwidth aside. Is there anything you need, now that you're settled?
You've done enough. You can turn off your big brother switch now, I assure you.
I'm afraid it doesn't come with an off switch.
Talk to S. He's found a newer model. Isn't it past your bedtime?
I'm just on my way. I'll speak to you soon.
Joy. Good night.
Mycroft closed the chat box, and went through the complicated routine of securing and shutting down his PC. Trevelyan was very thorough in his security measures.
Having Trevelyan properly settled was a load off his mind. He could really only deal with one brother in crisis at a time. Sherlock had had more than his share of crises in the past, and Mycroft didn't begrudge his youngest brother a crisis of his own. Trevelyan was very self-sufficient, very much to himself. Sherlock attracted the attention; Trevelyan stayed quietly in his shadow. On his somewhat cynical days, Mycroft wished he could combine the two and get someone less attention seeking and less introverted. On his rare sentimental days, he liked them as they were. Most days, he fell somewhere in between.
He felt that two weeks was long enough to discover any potential problems with Trevelyan's new flat, and so he mentally crossed that off of his list of things to consider. Trevelyan would go back to being the little brother quietly providing support and assistance to the family, and Mycroft would go back to being the big brother who interfered and bothered and knew too much. They all had their roles to play, and that was his.
And even if it wasn't the greatest one, in the grand scheme of things, he supposed it wasn't the worst, either.