Characters:Dora, Sherlock, Q, Mycroft, John (briefly)
Warnings/Triggers: some mentions/discussions of a dead parent/husband
Spoilers: The Reichenbach Fall
Word Count 4,993
Summary: One year, four birthday celebrations.
Author's notes: Set in the Trio 'verse.
Set Post-Return, which I am trying to write but finding it hard to do without actual knowledge of what did and will happen. I hope to fill in the gap at some point.
If someone could explain to Dora Holmes why that, in this age of man carrying around phones with him as though it were necessary to his continued existence, her middle son could not answer his, she would be very grateful. She didn't want to accuse Sherlock of blocking or screening her calls. She didn't think he disliked speaking to her that much. She understood that while his was working, her calls could be considered nonessential distractions. She simply wished that she didn't have to ring ten times in order to get him to answer once.
At least it had been answered this time.
“Er, Sherlock's Holmes' phone,” John said, uncertainly.
“Hello, John, it's Sherlock's mother,” Dora said. “Is he available?”
“Oh, hey Mrs Holmes,” John said. “He's actually got his hands tied behind his back at the moment. May I take a message?”
“Case or experiment?” Dora asked.
“Experiment,” John replied.
“Very well, please inform him that I know it cannot possibly take him longer than ten minutes to escape, and I expect him to ring me directly afterwards,” she said.
“All right, I'll tell him,” John said. There was a muffled sound on his end of the line. “He wants to know what happens if he has to dislocate his shoulder.”
“Then he may have twenty minutes to ring me back,” Dora said.
“My birthday?” Sherlock said, vaguely.
“Yes, Sherlock, your birthday,” Dora said. “Put down your pipette for a moment, please.”
There was a tinkle of glass. “Yes, what about my birthday?” Sherlock asked.
“I'd like to acknowledge it in some way,” Dora said. “If I came to London, could we meet?”
“I suppose so,” Sherlock said. “If I'm not busy.”
“I won't expect you to give up a case,” Dora assured him. “I know you don't like to eat, so perhaps we could go to a concert or meet for tea.”
“When's my birthday?” Sherlock asked.
“January 6th, dear,” Dora said.
Taptaptaptaptap went computer keys.
“There's an evening of Russian composers on the 4th,” Sherlock said. “Which will be awful...and Mendelssohn and Schubert on the 7th. Dearborn is conducting. Symphony No.4, Violin Concerto in D Minor and Symphony No.3.”
“I'll get us tickets for that,” Dora said.
Much to her great surprise, Sherlock was not only available on the day, he was on time—early, even. So early, he met her outside the hall, instead of sneaking in once the lights went down.
“It's so nice to see you,” Dora said, as he slumped to get her kisses. “You shouldn't have got your haircut for me, Sherlock.”
He sighed. “If I don't get it cut, you tell me I need to cut it; if I do, you tell me I shouldn't have,” he said.
Dora smiled. “One of the great joys of motherhood is being contrary,” she said. “It looks very nice. It's really lovely to see you out in the open again.”
“One of the great joys of being alive,” Sherlock said.
He opened the door of the hall for her. He dropped it closed on the woman behind them. She supposed it was nice that he was exhibiting some manners. She had her coat checked, but he preferred to keep his with him. She feared she would have to attend a funeral for that coat on the day it finally slipped off its mortal coil. It was starting to look a bit tatty, and they didn't make the style any longer—she'd checked.
“That man needs to be more discreet in his affairs,” Sherlock said, when she returned. “Anyone could see him with his mistress here.”
Dora followed his gaze. “She's just recently told him she's pregnant, perhaps he wants to be discovered,” she said. “He wants out but isn't brave enough to start the confrontation himself.”
“Or he's hoping to be discovered so his wife will scare her off,” Sherlock agreed. “Do you want to sit down? It's too crowded here.”
Dora assented to this. Neither she nor Sherlock enjoyed crowds of people. Too much information coming in at once for Sherlock, who had honed his observation skills to such a fine point that he couldn't turn them off. She saw what she wanted, but could ignore the information if necessary. She simply didn't like being amidst so much perfume.
They were among the first people in the theatre. It was cool and pleasant in there. She rather liked the smell of the theatre. Sherlock was more relaxed without so much to see and observe. He busied himself with studying the less overwhelming subject of decor.
“How is John?” Dora asked, once they were settled in their box. She always purchased box tickets for Sherlock. He didn't do well with people surrounding him.
“Fine,” Sherlock said.
“Has he adapted well to your return?” Dora said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said.
“Was it difficult?” Dora said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “But it's fine now. I don't think it was unreasonable, his reaction. I expected as much. John is very loyal. Stupidly so. He took some time to not think of what I did as being disloyal.”
“Quite the opposite,” Dora noted.
“Indeed,” Sherlock said. “But for John, disloyalty is the worst sin. Everyone has the value that they cherish the most. John doesn't betray people. I betrayed him. I've had to earn the trust back.”
How uncharacteristically insightful. Dora wondered if John knew how much of a change he'd wrought in Sherlock. All for the best, really. She suspected he'd done much the same for John.
“But it was worth it,” she said.
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “It was.”
“And how is Mrs Hudson?” Dora went on, quite pleased to find him in a talkative mood.
“Fine,” Sherlock said. “I don't seem to have lost her trust. She still seems to be under the impression that I'm a good man at heart.”
“Hmm,” Dora said. “I love you, but I do think that might be a bit of an exaggeration.”
Sherlock chuckled. “Yes,” he agreed. “A bit.”
The concert was excellent. Sherlock conducted it from start to finish; always a sign that he was enjoying himself. Dora found it interesting that her children had the artist and the scientist in them; a mix of herself and Siger. Duelling influences. Even Mycroft, who was so much more like his father than either of his brothers, had a touch of the artist. She was pleased. She had thought that if Siger had had a bit more of an outlet, he might not have gone so early to his grave. Codes were an art unto themselves, but not one prone to soothing the soul. Of course, Siger had always been so reluctant to admit to possessing a soul to be soothed.
“That was far better than I expected,” Sherlock announced, as the house lights came up.
“I'm glad you enjoyed it,” Dora said. “Let's wait for the masses to file out before we leave. We can do your present.”
Shopping for her boys was a challenge Dora relished. They were difficult to buy for—they had the money to purchase what they needed for themselves, and tended to purchase what they wanted as well. She had to find things they didn't know they wanted or needed. She'd learned to keep her eyes out constantly, and pick up what she found the moment she set sight on it.
For Sherlock, she had found a flat multi-tool, which would easily fit in a pocket or wallet.
“I thought it might be more discreet than the one you carry around now,” she explained. “And there's no blade, so it's TSA compliant if you need to travel.”
She could tell Sherlock was pleased because he started playing with it right away. She'd also got him a book about how to use everyday items in unusual ways. He leafed through that as well. Two palpable hits.
“Now, you've filled your end of the bargain,” she said. “So, anything after this is purely optional. Do you have time for tea?”
Sherlock turned on his phone—another sign that he was enjoying himself. If it wasn't a good concert, he would have left it on. “I don't have any messages,” he said. “Let's go.”
Oh my, he really was in a good mood.
Sherlock's phone directed them to a nearby, well-reviewed café. Dora made the rather rookie mistake of allowing him to order, and thus had to intervene when she saw him winding up to lose his temper with the, unfortunately somewhat nervous, barista.
“Go and sit down, Sherlock,” Dora said, firmly. “Hello, my apologies, I realize he speaks very fast. We'd like one chai with milk and two sugars, one dark roast coffee with two sugars, and a pain au chocolate.” She noticed a lone mince pie, and added that as well. Sherlock would occasionally eat mince pies were they available.
“There we go,” Dora said, when she came to the table with their items. “You just need to have a bit of patience, Sherlot.”
“Don't call me 'Sherlot', you only do that when you're trying to make me feel bad about myself,” Sherlock complained. “She was working very slowly.”
“She's been here a week, that's plenty of time to have learned how to pour a coffee urn,” Sherlock insisted. “And I'm not eating that.”
“Then I will,” Dora said, unmoved. “You don't deserve it anyway.”
Sherlock sighed, but his eyes were amused, and he took the pie and bit into it. “It's your fault for making me come,” he said.
“I gave you the option of not coming,” Dora replied. “But yes, I agree it was poor planning on my part. I don't know why I thought you could sit and eat properly. It's not as though you're a grown man.”
“I thought people were supposed to be treated kindly on their birthdays,” Sherlock said.
“Your birthday was yesterday,” Dora said. “And don't speak with your mouth full.”
date: Wed, May 29th at 8:03PM
subject: June 18th
I will be in London for a few days around your birthday, before I leave for Nice. Please let me know if there's anything you would like do to during this time period. If you'd like to go to the opera or out for lunch, I will make reservations.
I hope you're well,
date: Fri, June 7th at 3:03AM
subject: RE: June 18th
Sorry for delay in responding. Will take time off @ some point during your visit. Will let you know. London opera rubbish right now. Lunch @ Laissez- Faire, maybe.
I'm fine, thank you.
Dora had a rule never to wait more than twenty minutes for someone who was late. It was one she'd decided on while dating her husband. If Siger was able to get to her, he would do it within twenty minutes of the appointed time. If he wasn't there in that time, it was best to ring and see if he had forgot or been delayed by something important.
She selected Trevelyan from her contact list. He answered on the first ring.
“I know, I'm sorry, I put my alarm on, but I slept through it,” Trevelyan said, sounding out of breath. “I took the day off, and I was going to have a lie in, but I've over-lied in and I need to shower first but then—”
“Trevelyan,” Dora cut him off. “Would it be easier if I brought the food to you?”
“Oh,” Trevelyan said, sounding as though the thought had never occurred to him before. “Erm. Yes, actually. It might be. Do you mind?”
“Not at all,” Dora said. “It's your day, we should be doing what you find enjoyable. Which isn't making you stressed. Tell me what you'd like, and I'll bring it.”
Trevelyan gave her his order, and she requested that the chef make it to go. It wasn't a common practice in this establishment, but Dora was very talented at convincing someone something was a good idea. She was soon bestowed with two meals and dessert, easily portable. She left a proper tip for them.
She made her way to Trevelyan's flat, and gave a very tentative knock on the door. When she wasn't immediately electrocuted or shot, she gave a more forceful knock. She could faintly see the wiring for his security system, and she didn't want to anger it and have it attack.
A series of beeps and clicks sounded from the opposite side of the door, and then Trevelyan opened it. His hair was still wet from the shower, and he smelled of his aftershave, but he was dressed, though barefoot.
“Hello, I'm really very sorry,” he said. “I swear I planned it out very well.”
“I know, dear, don't worry,” Dora said. “I'm not offended.” She bent forward to kiss his cheeks.
“Come in,” Trevelyan said, stepping back. “I'm sorry about the mess.”
Trevelyan's definition of mess was quite different from Dora's. He and Mycroft had both inherited Siger's love of keeping things in their place. Dora and Sherlock's spaces were assembled to look like the insides of their brains —busy, but not disorganized. Trevelyan's worse offence was the myriad of mugs on various surfaces, and a pair of shoes at the end of his unmade bed.
“I shan't judge,” Dora promised. “You weren't expecting me, after all.” She looked around at the space. “This is quite nice, Trevelyan. I see why you were pleased to be assigned to it. Where's the cat?”
“Oh, somewhere,” Trevelyan said. “I feed it and keep it alive, it ignores me. We're both very happy with the arrangement.”
The sleeping area was open to view, with a small loo next to it. Trevelyan led her down a set of stairs into an open living and dining area.
There was a small island in the kitchen area, and two place settings had been laid in preparation for her. She put her bags on the work surface, and began to serve out what she had brought. They had stayed comfortably warm and didn't need reheating.
“How is work going?” she asked, once they were settled.
“Fine,” Trevelyan said. “Very well, actually. I've been working on implementing a new system of processing information. We're in Alpha testing now, so it will be a while before it's fully integrated.”
“I'm glad you're still getting a chance to work on your own projects,” Dora said. “Sometimes when you get promoted, it's all looking over others' work. Your father always resisted being made head of his department for that reason.”
“I don't get to do as much as I used to,” Trevelyan said. “But I enjoy what I am doing, so it all balances out. Do you suppose Father would have retired by now?”
“Oh, I don't think so,” Dora said, with a smile. “I don't think he was the retiring kind.”
Trevelyan chewed, thoughtfully. “I've been running into him a lot lately,” he said. “His work. For some reason, I seem to keep bumping into his procedures and ideas.”
“It's nice to think he left a legacy,” Dora said. “You're carrying it on, too, which I think he would like.”
She always thought it was a shame that Siger had the shortest amount of time with the son most interested in his line of work. One of the many tragedies of his dying so young.
Trevelyan looked pleased with her words. “How have you been?” he asked, politely.
“Very well,” Dora said.
“Don't you get bored out there by yourself?” Trevelyan asked, as though Lincolnshire were the other side of the world.
“Not at all,” Dora said. “I can't think of a single moment I've not found something to do to occupy myself.”
“Do you think it's odd we're all so solitary?” Trevelyan asked.
“I think it's an excellent skill to enjoy one's own company,” Dora said. “So long as one can still be sociable if required. Have you been seeing anyone, lately?”
Trevelyan was the only child who had ever really dated anyone. Sherlock seemed to have no interest whatsoever in either sex, and while Mycroft might have the interest, never desired to pursue it.
“Oh, no, no time at all for that,” Trevelyan said. “No one interesting enough for me to make time, either. I do hope you aren't counting on grandchildren.”
“No,” Dora said. “And I can honestly say that I should be thrilled to have some, but entirely content without any. You boys have made an lasting impression on the world. I think you'll be remembered without children to pass your names along.”
Trevelyan grinned. “A lasting impression is a very polite way to put it,” he said. “More like writing our names in big, capital letters and blinking lights wherever we go.”
“Yes,” Dora agreed. “As you should.”
Dora had bought a packet of birthday candles on her way over, and stuck a few in Trevelyan's crêpe cake for him to blow out after they were finished their lunch.
“You're missing about thirty,” he said.
“I shouldn't want to set off your smoke alarm,” Dora said. “You've had quite enough fire of late.”
“True,” Trevelyan agreed.
He blew out the candles with a huff of breath, and plucked them out to tackle the dessert, which was full of so much sugar, that Dora, who considered herself to have an impressive sweet tooth, felt a bit sick looking at it. She ate her meringue instead, and moved over to the piano when she was finished.
“Not quite seasoned yet,” she remarked, as she tried out a tune. “It sounds a bit dull.”
“I haven't given it the attention it needs,” Trevelyan said. “It will probably take a few more months before it brightens up properly. It was double-striking, but I had that fixed.”
He came over to sit next to her at the piano, and picked up the song she was playing to duet with her. They played until she lost the song, which was a common occurrence when she played piano. There always seemed to come a point when she was playing so perfectly that her fingers felt compelled to lose their place. She was better with bowed instruments.
“I'm glad you've kept up the skill,” Dora said. “You play very well.”
“It's all the typing I do,” Trevelyan said. “It keeps my fingers nimble.”
“I've always thought your piano skills were what made you so proficient on the keyboard,” Dora said.
“Hmm, rather chicken and egg, isn't it?” Trevelyan said. He finished his song with a flourish.
“In your case, the piano came first,” Dora said. “Would you like your present?”
“Yes, please,” Trevelyan said, with mock boyish excitement.
Dora retrieved it from her handbag, and let him open it while she brought up the second part on her phone. Cufflinks were always a good choice for Trevelyan; he collected them and she enjoyed finding unique pairs for him.
“They're made with slices of meteorites,” she explained, as he admired them.
“Perhaps I'll mutate and get special powers,” he said.
“I'm afraid I specified non-radioactive slices,” Dora said.
“Drat,” Trevelyan said. “Another hiccup in my great plans to be a superhero.”
“Stop being facetious and hold up your phone,” Dora said. “I believe I remember how to do this.” She bumped her mobile to his, and the file transferred. “There, that's your book.”
“Oh, excellent, thank you,” Trevelyan said. He opened the file and glanced at it. “It looks good.”
“It doesn't feel as personal to just fling it at you,” Dora said.
Trevelyan smiled. “Technology marches on.”
“Yes, I blame you for that,” Dora said, raising her eyebrows.
Trevelyan nodded. “As you should.”
Dora flexed her fingers, and took up her brush again to daub some blue paint on the canvas in front of her. They were starting to seize up, but she was in a very good flow now and didn't want to interrupt due to something as simple as arthritis. She'd have to stop soon, but not yet.
She heard the sound of the door opening and closing in the beach house behind her, then keys being dropped in the dish and a jacket removed.
Footsteps across the wood floors, and then the screen door to the patio sliding open.
“Hello, dear,” she said. “Happy birthday.”
“Thank you,” Mycroft said.
Mycroft could be counted on to arrive in Nice every year on the 21st of August. She wasn't sure what compelled him—he who hated any unnecessary movement—to get on a two hour flight to spend the day there and then fly home again. Perhaps he liked the chance to be the sole centre of her attention, or perhaps even Mycroft Holmes needed a day's holiday once a year. She'd often offered to come to him, but he always insisted on coming to her.
“45 years ago at this very moment, I was sweating myself to death bringing you into the world,” Dora said, glancing down at her watch.
“You always recount that as though it were my fault,” Mycroft said.
“The air conditioning was repaired by the next day, you might have waited,” Dora replied. “Sherlock waited for the snow to stop falling before he decided to come.”
“The only time he ever waited for anything in his life, and his life hadn't even begun yet,” Mycroft said. He stepped over to look at her painting, dropping a kiss to her cheek. “Why do you always paint England when you're in France and France when you're in England?”
Dora was pleased her landscape was recognizable. “Because I can't see them to compare the imperfections,” she said. “I can just paint what's in my mind.”
“Ah,” Mycroft said. “Rather like Grand-maman's theory that you can't see something by looking at it.”
“I've always suspected that was a mistranslation on her part,” Dora said.
“I thought it was meant to be philosophical,” Mycroft said.
“Isn't Philosophy just mistranslated Greek?” Dora asked.
Mycroft chuckled. “Yes, I suppose so,” he said.
He placed himself in one of the deck chairs, in the shade of the awning. Dora tanned; Mycroft burned. She finished off her sky and left that layer to dry, putting her hands out in the warmth of a sunbeam to loosen them up.
“You really should take something for the pain,” Mycroft said.
“I don't want to get started on medication,” Dora said. “It's a slippery slope. I'm in fine fettle, and I shan't complain about a few stiff fingers. I'm not in bad shape for my age.”
“Paracetamol is not medication,” Mycroft said.
“Mycroft Holmes, who is the parent here?” Dora said. “Do not presume to lecture me.”
Mycroft smiled, and held up his hands in surrender. “My apologies,” he said.
“Is there anything you'd like to be doing today?” Dora said. “We could go to the Musee des Beaux Arts, or out for lunch.” She could see neither idea appealed to him. “Or, it's a beautiful day. We could just sit and enjoy it.”
“That sounds perfect,” Mycroft said.
Dora went in and made lunch at the appropriate hour. Mycroft had become very health conscious since Siger's death, and she tried to accommodate that without it being boring for him. She prepared a nice salad, and brought it out to the deck to eat at the table under the umbrella. She'd also made lime souffle with xylitol, and that would fit his diet for dessert.
He'd been very quiet all morning, simply reading the book she'd given him as his present. It was not how she would have wished to spend her own birthday, but it was not her own birthday, and therefore she hoped he was doing what he enjoyed. Even if that was sitting in a deck chair, reading all 2,133 pages of Atlee.
He had a shell in his hand when she returned. “Wentletrap,” he said, showing it to her. “I found it on the steps. I think that's right. I used to know them all, but I'm a bit rusty.”
Dora examined the shell. “Yes, I believe you're right,” she said. “It was Grandfather who liked to collect them, and I'm afraid I wasn't as keen a student as you. Do you remember going out with him after the tides?”
“Vaguely,” Mycroft said. “It was before Sherlock was born.”
“I didn't realize we measured time by his birth,” Dora said.
Mycroft laughed. “I don't know why, but I seem to associate Sherlock being born and Grandfather's car accident happening at the same time, but I don't know if they were that close together,” he said. “He wouldn't have been taking me out after Sherlock was born, is what I meant. He would have been using his cane, and I don't remember him being able to walk for long distances after that.”
“It was only few months between them,” Dora said. “I can see why you might have linked them. You used to take the boys out to collect things, as well.”
“I do remember that,” Mycroft said. “You and Father used to send us out after dinner, so you could have a drink and get a moment without us.”
“Oh, we weren't very subtle, were we?” Dora said, with a laugh. “I thought you enjoyed yourselves, though.”
“We did,” Mycroft said. “Many adventures.” He nodded to the paperweight she'd given him; something she'd found in a little shop in Italy when she passed through earlier in the year. “It reminds me of the sea glass we used to find.”
“I know,” Dora said. “That's why I chose it.”
September 30th dawned rather grey in London, and she thought it was a brutal welcome home from the sunny warmth of Nice. She never cared much for London, and she found it rather annoying that her sons were so very much attached to it. None of them had inherited her wanderlust. Mycroft would rather stay in a chair; poor Trevelyan was aviaphobic. Sherlock came the closest, and even he became antsy when he was too far away from his cases.
Oh well, she really spent very little time in London during the year. A few days visiting the boys; and a week or two around the months she spent in Nice. Not really torture.
She found an e-mail from Trevelyan waiting for her when she logged on, wishing her a happy birthday. It was sent at 2:37AM. Later that morning, the usual bouquet of flowers from Mycroft was delivered. She put them in a cut glass vase. No word from Sherlock, but she was neither expecting it nor disappointed by its lack. Sherlock didn't log birthdays, but he remembered other, more important things, and since he felt that he would somehow run out of room in his brain, she could forgive him for not remembering the anniversary of her birth.
She busied herself in the townhouse in the afternoon, and at tea time, the door opened downstairs and Trevelyan bellowed up an announcement that he was there. She'd just set him up with a cup of tea and slice of lemon cake when Mycroft arrived. Not ten minutes later, Sherlock galloped up the stairs to join them.
One son on her birthday wasn't uncommon. Two rarer. All three was almost unheard of, and she found herself staring in bewilderment as Sherlock poured himself a cup of tea and kicked Trevelyan out of the armchair he preferred.
“Did you plan this?” she asked.
“Oh, Good Lord, no,” Mycroft said. “We only coordinate for war, Mummy, you know that.”
She looked at them suspiciously. “Is one of you dying? Has something happened? Who told Sherlock it was my birthday?”
“My fault,” Trevelyan said. “We were e-mailing about a case this morning, and I mentioned it.”
“It hasn't left my short-term memory yet,” Sherlock said, somewhat defensively. “I won't remember it by next week.”
“I know, dear,” Dora said.
“It's all right, Mummy,” Mycroft said. “Please, sit down and don't worry yourself. No bad news. We just all seemed to have had the same idea. Not entirely impossible, I don't think.”
“Did you bring a present?” Dora asked Sherlock.
“No,” he said.
“Oh, thank God,” Dora said. “You had me quite worried.”
Tea went as smoothly as could be expected; Mycroft and Sherlock's sniping more passive-aggressive than malicious. They did seem to be mellowing with age. She was pleased. She worried that Trevelyan would have to separate them when she was gone and they were old and grey. She'd like to think they'd all be able to rely on each other, even if she wasn't there to encourage them in it.
“Perhaps you could play for me, Sherlock?” Dora suggested, when things began to escalate. “I've just restored the violin that we've had here for ages, it could use a work out.”
“I'm not warmed-up,” Sherlock said.
“I'm sure you'll be fine,” Dora said. “You could consider it a present. It is my birthday.”
Sherlock agreed with false reluctance, and gave the violin a critical look over before taking up the bow.
“Requests?” he said.
“You choose,” she said.
He chose something he must have written himself, as Dora didn't recognize it and it had his flare to it. Melodic, but a bit dischordant as well, and raw because he usually lost interest in it before he could fully smooth it out. Which somehow made it more natural and emotional.
“That was lovely, Sherlock, thank you,” she said, with a warm round of applause when he was finished.
He took a bow, and returned to his seat.
“I suppose it's my turn?” Trevelyan said.
“I would be delighted,” Dora replied.
He played Dvorák’s Largo from the From The New World Symphony, which was Dora's favourite piece of music. She'd had it played at her wedding, and sometimes sang the words put to it by William Arms Fisher as a lullaby.
“You'll have to play now,” Mycroft said to her, when Trevelyan was done.
“And what are you going to contribute to the concert?” Sherlock asked, as Dora got up to retrieve her viola.
“Enthusiastic approval,” Mycroft replied. “Someone has to be here to admire you all. Where would you be without constant praise, Sherlock?”
“Ahem,” Dora said, pointedly.
Sherlock pouted. Mycroft hid his smile. Trevelyan rolled his eyes. She played a little Bach. Trevelyan received a phone call part way through, and did a pantomime in the hallway, indicating he had to go and was sorry about it. She smiled her goodbye and thank you.
Mycroft's phone rang shortly after, and he too fled. She wondered if the same emergency affected them both.
“I hope it wasn't my playing that drove them off,” Dora joked, when she'd brought the song to a close.
“I'm the least likely to politely endure bad music, and I'm still here,” Sherlock replied.
Rather a compliment indeed. She hounded him until he consented to play a duet with her, and then he was gone as well, with a text message about a case.
She smiled after him, and poured herself another cup of tea, settling down with the book Mycroft had brought her and a slice of cake. All in all, quite the best start to her 68th year on the planet that she might have hoped for.