Characters: Q, Mycroft, Sherlock, Mrs Hudson, John
Warnings/Triggers: some language
Spoilers: The Empty Hearse
Word Count 4,245
Summary: Sherlock Holmes returns. Q helps him get his life back.
Author's notes: Set in the Trio 'verse, filling in the gap between "The Roles We Play" and "Happy Birthday"
First story of 2014! It's AU. I promise I will write something canon. Soon. Just filling in the gap in the verse, here.
Apologies for my Serbian. I did what I could with Professor Google.
Q didn't often go to the Diogenes Club, but whenever he was there, he had a very strong urge to grab a sauce pot and wooden spoon and run around in steel-toed boots banging it while singing “God Save the Queen” at the top of his voice. He didn't like this urge, because it was a very Sherlock side of him he wasn't pleased about possessing.
On this occasion, like all others previously, he resisted the urge, and made it safely to the Stranger's Room without incurring the wrath of the dusty residents in the silent areas. They were very suspicious of anyone under fifty or so. Q felt like enough of a child at work; he didn't like having the wary eyes cast on him here.
“I'm sorry to bring you out in the daylight,” Mycroft said, giving him a critical look. “I hope you weren't blinded by the sun.”
“You know very well I'm working with agents in Russia at the moment,” Q said. “And the time difference requires an unconventional schedule. Don't scold me as though I were back in university and pulling all-nighters.”
“My apologies, I was merely making an observation,” Mycroft said. “Please, sit down. Would you like a drink?”
“It's eight in the morning,” Q said.
“Not for you,” Mycroft replied. “You're twelve hours behind. It's your eight in the evening.”
“I'm fine, thank you,” Q said. “However, I have been up for quite some time, so if we could skip the pleasantries, I would be appreciative. This has always been a room for war. What are we fighting today?”
Mycroft looked uncharacteristically hesitant. Mycroft was always forthright; at least by the time he'd brought Q in. Which was always about three days after Q would have liked to be brought in. He was only ever notified at the last minute, usually, apparently, for his 'own safety'. Which was just a bloody annoying way of saying 'we haven't told you what you need to know, please perform miracles for us'.
“I need to get into Serbia,” Mycroft said.
“Well, that's simple enough,” Q said, reaching for his messenger bag. “Although, you needn't have brought me in. I wasn't being overconfident when I said that programme would get you into any government. You just need to select the country--has it stopped working? I did notice a bug when you try to go into Bonaire, but I couldn't think of any plausible reason anyone would care what Bonaire was doing, so I just left it in. Do--”
“Trevelyan,” Mycroft interrupted. “I need to get into Serbia.”
“Yes, I know,” Q said. “I heard you, and I have my laptop with me so--.”
“No, I need to go to Serbia,” Mycroft said.
“Physically?” Q said. “As in, you, with your feet in Serbia, doing things?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said. “Preferably in a somewhat...subtle fashion.”
Q was so shocked that he dropped his laptop on his foot. “Ow! Fuck!”
“Language,” Mycroft said.
“Pardon,” Q muttered. He bent down and picked up the laptop, checking it over for damage. “Now, I have been on permanent nights, and am perhaps prone to hallucinating, so let me make sure I'm quite clear: you want to go to Serbia...undercover?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said, uncomfortably.
“You do realize that will involve walking?” Q said. “And...movement?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said.
“You'll have to leave England to go to Serbia,” Q explained. “Serbia isn't in England. It's in Serbia.”
“Watch yourself,” Mycroft said.
Q grinned. “I can do it, of course, quite easily. But why? Or am I not permitted to know?”
“You and I share an interest in Serbia,” Mycroft said. “He's in need of some help, and I rather think I'm the only one to give it. I don't believe you're willing to get on a plane, are you?”
Q felt hot fear climb up his spine at the very thought of it. “No, regrettably,” he said. “Unless you want me arriving in the foetal position.”
“Let's consider it Plan B,” Mycroft said.
“Well, I'll need a bit more detail of who you'd like to be and where you'd like to go,” Q said. “But it's certainly doable. Do you even speak Serbian?”
“Da, moj brat,” Mycroft replied, flawlessly. “Naravno, ja govorim srpski. I learned it last night. Passable, do you think? I'm sure you've been hearing a lot of Slavonic languages of late.”
“Da, ali treba da vežbam srpski,” Q said, with a smirk. “You're serious, aren't you? You're going to do this?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said.
“So...is he coming home?” Q asked. That was the only reason he could think of that Mycroft would go to such lengths. “Are you bringing him home?”
“Yes,” Mycroft said. “I am.”
Two weeks later, Q was in the middle of Q-branch when he heard a sound he hadn't heard in two years.
Sherlock's ring tone.
Custom ring tones were a bit obnoxious, of course, but Q found them useful for knowing if he needed to interrupt his work to answer or not. Sherlock had a jazzy film noir detective sting as his, and it filled up a tense Q-branch with itself. Q looked around angrily for the source, only to find it coming from his own pocket. He glared until the minions went back to work, and quickly took out the phone and switched it to vibrate. He also checked the text message.
This isn't where you used to live.
While Q was reading, he received another text message.
When did you get a cat?
So, Sherlock was in his flat. Lovely. Q put the mobile on the desk next to his keyboard, and it vibrated along happily for the next several minutes as Sherlock continued to text.
Your piano is new. What happened to the old one?
Never mind, must have been a fire. Your sheet music smells of smoke.
You've been seeing a musician. Wrote a song for you, how romantic. Sorry it didn't work out.
I'm sure you're over it by now. Six months at least. Really should get rid of the sheet music. Sentiment.
Not good music anyway. Dodged a bullet, there. Wouldn't want to have to listen to that for the rest of your life.
Your cat is staring at me.
Why do you have a cat?
I'm sure I've seen you since its birth. You must have inherited it.
Your automatic feeding system is unique.
I might have broken it.
No, it's fixed now, ignore that.
You've been working a lot of nights lately. Russia?
Where do you keep the food that isn't made of soy?
If it wasn't company policy to have the phone on, Q would have turned it off. He recognized that this was two years worth of deductions and big brotherly bothering compacted into a few minutes of text messages, but it was still highly annoying. Responding would only make things worse. But...
He hit the screencap button on his computer, and took a still of the video feed he was monitoring, then sent an e-mail to Sherlock's phone with it attached.
The respond was prompt.
Threaten the big one's mother. The short one's ready to defect. Promise him safety for his children. The big one has a bad left knee. The short one has asthma.
Q hit his earpiece, connecting to 007 in the field.
“Tell Alyokhin his mother is a whore,” he said. He could see 007's eyes flick curiously to the camera for a moment. “I know. Trust me.”
007 followed the orders, using a rather more...extreme translation of 'whore' than Q was entirely comfortable with. Alyokhin went for his throat.
“Left knee,” Q said.
Alyokhin went down in a howl of pain.
“Excellent,” Q said. “Now, explain politely to Zakharov how much we would like to see that his children are safe and housed in London, in a big house and going to the best schools. Tell him if he cooperates, we will have them on a secure flight to the UK within the hour.”
007 obliged. Zakharov agreed.
“Well done, exfiltration in...fifteen minutes,” Q said. He muted his earpiece. “Someone get on that. Someone find a flight for Zakharov's family--I want it within the hour. Let's honour our promises, shall we?”
“How did you know what to say?” 007 asked.
“It's all very elementary,” Q said. “Get Aloykhin secured. And apologize to him, that was foul language, 007.”
007 smirked into the camera, and followed orders.
Q removed his earpiece and handed it to R.
“What's going on?” she asked.
“I'm going home,” Q said. “I'm expecting company.”
By the time Q arrived home, his flat was in a shambles. He wasn't even aware he possessed that many items to be strewn about, but strewn about they were. The cat trembled on the bed, and made a plaintive noise when Q entered the flat. She was not an affectionate cat, nor did she even bother to acknowledge him on most occasions. She must be quite upset to be reaching out.
“You ought to have grown up with him,” Q replied.
He went down to the lower level of the flat. Sherlock was sat at the island, with a flapjack in his mouth, holding a handful of biscuits, and dipping crackers into hummus.
“Are you pregnant?” Q asked. “Am I going to be an uncle at last?”
Sherlock scowled around the flapjack. “I have been held hostage in Serbia for days and not fed anything remotely useful for keeping my energy up. I'm trying to boost it. I have things to do.”
“Hello,” Q said. “Welcome home.”
Sherlock gave a bit of a smile. “Thank you.” He bit off the flapjack and chewed. “Get things sorted in Moscow?”
“Yes, thank you,” Q said. “Your information was very useful.”
“Are you working on the terrorist attack thing?” Sherlock asked.
“Yes. I helped procure the information,” Q said. “And I have people working on it. I've been trying to go back and forth between the two pressing matters.”
“Ah, hence the 24 hour shifts,” Sherlock said, pointing to the fridge as though that explained everything. “London by day, Russia by night.”
“Evil never sleeps,” Q agreed. “Nor do I. How long can I expect you for? Are we going to have a sleepover?”
“No, I'm stopping in,” Sherlock said. “I'm going to visit John, soon. I can't go back to Baker Street quite yet, and I'd like to keep a low profile in the interim. Mycroft suggested here.”
“Of course he did,” Q said.
“He also suggested we might get a start on the whole 'I'm not dead' paperwork,” Sherlock said.
“'We'?” Q said.
“Mainly you,” Sherlock said. “But you've just finished up in Russia, what else do you have to do?”
“Imminent terrorist attack,” Q said.
“Oh, don't worry,” Sherlock said. “I'll take care of that.”
Q made a cup of tea, which was promptly removed from his hand by Sherlock, who took it to the living room and ensconced himself on the couch. Q quietly reminded himself that Sherlock was Sherlock, and he hadn't had much in the way of proper human contact of late, and had really always been like this, Q was just out of practice, and Mummy would be quite upset if Q killed him for real. He made another cup of tea, and went out to the living room, sitting down at his computer hub.
“So, when was the fire?” Sherlock asked.
“In April,” Q replied.
“Deliberate?” Sherlock said.
“Faulty wiring,” Q said.
Sherlock looked disappointed. “How boring,” he said.
“Sorry,” Q said.
“Did you lose much?” Sherlock asked.
“Almost everything,” Q said.
Sherlock looked very upset. “But what about my violin?” he said.
Q rolled his eyes. “It was moved previous to the fire,” he said. “It's in a storage facility. When I realized how long you were going to be away, I put it somewhere temperature controlled.”
“I hope it's secure,” Sherlock said.
“Yes. It's top of the line security, individually temperature controlled containers, well-monitored,” Q said. “Little elves come by at night and make sure it's polished. And I've quite recovered from my massive loss, thank you.”
“You don't keep things,” Sherlock said. “You've only ever transferred three items from one place to another--your Vernet print, your computers, and your little wooden box of junk. You have all three. Obviously you lost nothing of importance.”
Q found that exceedingly vexing, because it was heartless while also being rather kind in knowing and storing what Q found important. Sherlock looked smug; he knew he'd put Q on the back foot.
“I had to replace my computers,” Q said, weakly.
“With better ones, presumably,” Sherlock said. “Now, stop sitting around trying to invoke sympathy, and bring me back to life.”
“What's in it for me?” Q asked.
“That's entirely the wrong way to approach it,” Sherlock said, putting his feet up on the coffee table. “You should ask yourself 'what will happen if I don't?' and rely on--how old are you now?”
“I'm the same years younger than you as I've always been,” Q replied.
“Right. Well, however old you are, you have experience with me. Use it to guide your choice.”
“And...done!” Q said, an hour later. “Welcome back to existence and tax paying.”
Sherlock had spent the last hour trying to entertain himself, and the current effort was juggling apples. He caught the airborne one and did a little spin. “What took you so long?” he said.
Q wondered precisely how upset Mummy would be if he killed Sherlock. Surely not that upset. Sherlock had been dead for two years, it would have been a sort of trial run for her. She had two spare sons, would she really miss the third one that much?
“What I have just done is six hours worth of work, in one sixth of the time,” Q said.
“You're slipping,” Sherlock said, with a rueful shake of his head. “Do I have access to my bank account again?”
“Oh, did you want your money?” Q said. “We assumed it was free for the taking. We've spent it all in your absence. This flat isn't cheap.” He dodged out of the way of an apple. “Your bank cards will work fine now, and all the money has been transferred back.”
“Do I owe you anything?” Sherlock asked.
“Pardon?” Q said.
“You've done work for me while I was gone,” Sherlock said. “Presumably that cost money. I assumed you would have taken it from my account. So, is there a balance to be paid?”
“Oh,” Q said. “No. I didn't really think...consider it pro bono.”
“I don't want a debt,” Sherlock said. “I don't want to owe you anything.”
Q could see he was serious about that. Sherlock had odd points of honour, but they were firm when he did get them. Q felt it was important not to fight against this one. Sherlock needed to start fresh. Q could respect that, he supposed.
“Before I joined the government, I had an hourly rate for my...services,” Q said. “I'll calculate the amount of time I've spent doing side jobs for you, and transfer it into my account. We'll be even, then. Though, I reserve the right to invoke a favour or two out of this whole thing.”
Sherlock nodded. “That seems reasonable,” he said. He clapped his hands together, the way Mummy did when she wanted a subject change. “Now, time to say hello to John.”
“You know he's moved on,” Q said.
“Yes, Mycroft said that, too, but I don't see how,” Sherlock said. “He didn't do anything before he met me, what on Earth would he have to do while I've been away?”
“Dead,” Q said. “You've been dead.”
“Same thing,” Sherlock said.
“Not to John,” Q said. “Just...be careful.”
“It'll be fun!” Sherlock said, with almost too much confidence. A bit put on, Q suspected. “He'll be happy to see me.”
“He has a split lip and a black eye, and he's alone at Baker Street,” Mycroft reported, via mobile, the next day. “So, I don't think quite the reunion he was planning on. His spirits don't seem to have been dampened. He seems quite confident that John will come round. However, I will deal with that side of things. How is your investigation coming along?”
Q looked out of his office window at the busy little minions slaving away. “We're doing our best,” he said. “But any hint as to a direction to focus on would be appreciated. I've transferred everyone who was dealing with Russia over to London, so there's the full manpower on it now. I hate to say this, but our agents are not as good as Sherlock's Homeless Network.”
“I know,” Mycroft said. “Nor as trustworthy. I'll try to direct the force of the blast in the right direction, but he's quite...cheerful.”
“Ah,” Q said. “Never a good sign.”
“Indeed,” Mycroft said. “Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and entertain him.”
“Good luck,” Q said.
“Thank you,” Mycroft said. “I don't suppose you'd be willing to take a turn?”
“I'd love to,” Q said. “But you know I'm rubbish at Operation.”
Over the next days, Q had very little time to think of how Sherlock might be getting on. He heard bits and bobs of his exploits--something about Molly Hooper, and then John being kidnapped and almost burned alive. Sherlock really did bring the danger right to one's door in a very prompt fashion. It was a sort of gift, Q supposed.
Then Sherlock's ringtone sounded.
Q was in his office, snaking his way through the back door of a security system in hopes of gaining some intel. They were getting desperate enough that he was back to doing the dirty work--which he quite enjoyed. Being the head of things often meant supervising instead of participating. It was juggling balls, instead of being the ball. He liked when he was able to flex his muscles again. He probably shouldn't, considering it meant something dire was going on. But he did.
“Quartermaster,” Q said, into his Bluetooth headset.
“Consulting Detective,” Sherlock replied, in a mocking professional tone.
“I'm at work,” Q said.
“Obviously,” Sherlock said. “You wouldn't dare give me that much fuel for ridicule if you were at home. I have a tip for you. It's Bonfire Night.”
“Yes, Sherlock, I can see the fireworks,” Q said.
“Why do we celebrate Bonfire Night?” Sherlock asked.
“Because of Guy Fawkes,” Q said, impatiently. “I really don't have time for a his--” He stopped and his stomach went quite cold. “Parliament is the target. Is that what you mean?”
“Yes,” Sherlock said. “Now, I'll text you what you need to know in a moment, but before we get to that, I thought I should get it from you directly, so there won't be any misunderstandings: how does one disarm a bomb?”
Two days later, Q pressed the bell for 221B Baker Street, and waited. Mrs Hudson opened the door, and smiled at him, then frowned.
“Mr...Boothroyd?” she said.
Oh. Yes. Bit of explaining to do there. He managed to find his way through a short summary of why he'd felt it necessary to pretend not to be who he was and buy Sherlock's violin from her. She was confused, but understanding, and more annoyed with Sherlock for not mentioning him and making him sneak around than at Q for lying. She offered to give him the money back.
“Oh, no, please,” Q said. “That's quite all right. I've charged Sherlock for it.”
She gave a little, satisfied giggle. “Well, serves him right,” she said. “You go up, dear. He's on his own. Imagine, another one of you lot. Your poor mother.”
Q grinned. He slipped past her and up the stairs to 221B. Sherlock was reading a book. He looked up hopefully, which was a bit sad as he most certainly knew that Q was not John Watson long before he saw him arrive.
“Brought you a present,” Q said, holding up the violin case he was carrying. “Thank you for not letting parliament blow up.”
Sherlock held out his hands and wiggled his fingers for it. “You know what massive explosions do to the traffic,” he said. “It was in my best interest.”
Q brought it to him, and sat down to remove the sheet music from his messenger bag. “Erm, I donated some of your original compositions to a youth musical group,” he said. “But I did make copies, first. I understand the first public performance was well received.”
Sherlock shook his in amusement. “When I taught you how to lie, didn't I tell you less is more?” he said. “You really went much farther than necessary to preserve yourself. The gypsies that abandoned you on the side of the road must have been terrible actors. Any true Holmes would have accomplished the task efficiently.”
“I was not abandoned by gypsies,” Q said, crisply. “I create flawless identities for agents on a daily basis. It's a habit not to do anything by halves. But I shall be better prepared next time you die.”
“As long as you've learned something,” Sherlock said. He removed the violin from the case, and it was almost touching how very glad he was to see it. He ran his fingers over the wood, and examined the bow, and nestled instrument under his chin with a wistful smile. He drew the bow carefully over the strings. “It's out of tune.”
“I specifically directed the elves to keep it in tune,” Q said, with a click of his tongue. “I shall send a strongly-worded letter sur-le-champ.”
Sherlock smirked. He bent his left ear to the F-holes and bowed the A string, then started to tune it, and then tuned the others to each other. He was mid-first song when John arrived on the landing.
“Been a while since I heard that,” John said. “I can't say I've miss--oh, sorry, I didn't realize you had...company.” John peered at Q, confused. “Have we met?”
“No,” Sherlock said.
“Yes,” Q said, at the same time.
“When?” Sherlock demanded.
Q pointed to the violin.
Sherlock turned to John. “You let my violin be sold? I thought I merely had Mrs Hudson to blame. You should have known better. It almost burned!”
John had now added annoyance to his confusion, and Q hoped Sherlock wouldn't poke much more, as John didn't look particularly in the mood for it.
“I'm guessing you're not actually a representative of a youth musical programme,” John said.
“Not precisely, no,” Q said.
“I knew it,” John said. “I knew it. You were too good. Sherlock always says you can tell when the truth is too truthful. Everyone lies about something. But I couldn't make a fuss, because I couldn't find a flaw to point out. I figured you were some sort of super-fan, and I thought, 'fuck it, let him have the thing, it's not like Sherlock is going to miss it'. Who are you, really? You're not a member of the Homeless Network, but clearly you were in on it, like everyone else but me.”
Q could feel the oncoming wrath, and was very much caught in the path of it. He elected to go for the truth. John was loyal--he'd proved himself that.
“I'm his brother,” he said.
“No, you're not,” John said.
“My younger brother,” Sherlock said.
John's face clouded over. “Did you fucking lie about everything?” he asked.
“Technically, I never lied,” Sherlock said. “I simply failed to relay a really quite insignificant fact about my life.”
“There is a whole other one of you and you didn't tell me!” John shouted. “This is a massive part of your life, Sherlock. A whole brother is a big fucking thing. Friends tell each other things like that. Like whole brothers.”
“In Sherlock's defence, and believe me, I hate coming to it,” Q said, politely. “I am a bit need to know. My existence is somewhat dodgy, officially speaking.”
“So, another thing I wasn't trusted to know,” John said.
“Fine! If it means that much to you,” Sherlock said. “John Watson, this is my brother, Trevelyan. He is...somewhat younger than me. Three years, I think. He works for MI-6, and seems to think his name is 'Q'. He has an unhealthy obsession with technology, is a nymphomaniac, plays the piano at a concert level, has developing carpal tunnel from overuse of his computer mouse, and has recently eaten a rather large quantity of high-sugar breakfast cereal. Satisfied?”
“The fact that I occasionally date does not make me an nymphomaniac,” Q objected. He said to John, “I am not a nymphomaniac.”
“He's in denial.”
“I am not in denial!”
“Oh my God,” John said, with a bemused smile. “You really are his brother. There's actually three of you. Three Holmeses. Christ. And that makes Sherlock a middle child.”
“Makes sense, doesn't it?” Q said.
“Nothing makes sense,” John said. “Not lately. But yeah, getting there. You could have just said, you know. Just asked for it. I'd have understood, if you explained. I don't know if you're as bad with sentiment as the other ones, but it makes sense to want something that your brother owned. I wouldn't have questioned it.”
“Dr Watson, at that particular juncture, if I had come to Mrs Hudson and informed her I was Sherlock's previously unmentioned younger brother, would you have believed me?” Q said.
“No,” John admitted. “No, I wouldn't. But it's still mental.”
“Yes,” Q agreed. “But, I'm afraid we all rather are, so...one gets inured a little to it.” He rose. “Pleased to meet you properly, but I should go.” He held out a hand, and John took it, still looking a bit shell-shocked. “Welcome home, Sherlock. I hope not to see you until Christmas.”
“Likewise,” Sherlock said.
Q gave John a smile, and left. He could hear a less-hostile, but still somewhat annoyed John demanding explanations behind him. He put on a little speed.
'Rule Britannia' played on his mobile as he crossed the road to the Tube station.
“Isn't the crisis over, now?” he said. “I thought we could stop being all family-like and communicative.”
“Soon, I promise,” Mycroft said. “How is he?”
“Fine,” Q said.
“And Dr Watson?” Mycroft said.
“He's there,” Q said. “So, that's something.”
“Yes,” Mycroft said. “Quite something.”
“Do you suppose we could go back to normal life, now?” Q said.
“By normal, do you mean the life previous to Sherlock's exploits, or normal by the standard, general definition?” Mycroft asked.
“The former,” Q said. “The latter sounds awful.”
Mycroft chuckled. “Agreed. But I think we could manage the former quite easily.”