Title: What comes after, part 1/6
Summary: A look at what happens after the fall – spoiler for all of series 1 and 2
Betas: Thank so much to the wonderful justbeaqueen10 for her help and comments
Rating: PG-13 for the angst
Wordcount: Just under 12,000 in total
Disclaimer: I make no profit from this and the characters and settings belong to BBC/ACD
Notes: This first chapter looks at John and Mycroft but expect others in later chapters. This story is complete, but I’m going to post a chapter each day or so, so as not to spam you all.
The fourth time Mycroft Holmes knocked on the door of 221B Baker Street John sighed heavily and walked away back up the stairs leaving the door open.
Mycroft appeared framed in the doorway of the flat a few moments later. John turned away from him and stared out of the window. They stayed like that for what felt like hours but was probably only a few moments.
“The rent’s been paid,” John said eventually, turning around.
Mycroft stared impassively at him.
“In full,” John went on. “Until the end of next year.”
Mycroft’s eyebrows rose but otherwise he remained perfectly still and silent.
John huffed in annoyance. “Feeling guilty, Mycroft?” he snapped. “It was you, wasn’t it?” When Mycroft made no sign of answering John’s anger boiled over. “I said, are you feeling guilty about playing a big part in making your little brother jump from a roof and kill himself?”
Mycroft flinched. It was hardly noticeable; a tiny flicker of his eyes, but the reaction surprised John so much that his anger drained away. He was suddenly exhausted.
Mycroft was arranging his umbrella and briefcase and sitting down, clearly trying to gather himself. “Thirsty, actually,” he said, as though John hadn’t mentioned Sherlock at all. “Some tea, perhaps?”
John didn’t have the energy to shout. The reminder of Sherlock and Mycroft’s part in the whole mess made him feel about a hundred. He sank down into a chair opposite Mycroft and sighed. “Get your own damn tea,” he snapped, but he sounded as tired as he felt and Mycroft ignored him.
The next time, Mycroft didn’t ask for tea. He didn’t say anything at all. He just sat silently, staring at the wall while John stared over his shoulder into the kitchen.
The fifth time John gave in and made some tea.
“Thank you,” Mycroft said. His hand didn’t shake as he took the cup. But, John could see how tense his hand was as he grasped the handle. He wondered how much will power it took for Mycroft to stop his hand shaking as he took tea from his dead brother’s flatmate.
John said nothing but sat down opposite him. They sat in silence until the tea was finished and Mycroft rose and left without a word.
When Mycroft appeared again two weeks later it was raining. He carefully folded his umbrella down and placed it next to the door. John made the tea and pretended not to notice Mycroft watching him from the living room.
His presence in the flat was almost overpowering. John couldn’t remember the last time someone had been to visit him. Months maybe. People didn’t seem to like the flat. What Mrs Hudson hadn’t packed away of Sherlock’s things were still strewn around the place. John couldn’t bear to move them and he’d snapped at Mrs Hudson when she mentioned it.
Mycroft look tired and pale when John handed him the tea. He didn’t ask why. He didn’t care about the answer. They drank in silence.
They always drank in silence. John wasn’t sure how many times Mycroft had appeared at his door. He came in and drank his tea and then he left. There was no discernable pattern to when he would turn up. Sometimes it was three times in a week, sometimes a month would pass. It was always at odd times, too. Once it was half passed two in the morning. John didn’t comment on it. He was awake. Mycroft probably knew he wasn’t sleeping.
Mycroft didn’t try and ask questions or give advice. He just sat there and looked over John’s shoulder at the stag’s head. Then he left.
John was too angry with him to speak. He was angry all the time now. At everything. At Sherlock, the police, the press, Sherlock, Mrs Hudson, the general public, Moriarty. Sherlock. The sheer enormity of the injustice of it all took his breath away. He didn’t know where to even begin. So, he pushed it down and carried on. Exactly like his therapist told him not to.
A few weeks later John broke. “Can’t you do something instead of sitting there like some sort of very neat scarecrow?”
Mycroft surveyed him over the brim of his cup. “I can do a great many things, Dr Watson. A great many things. To which particular ‘thing’ were you referring?”
“Clear Sherlock’s name.” It sounded like a demand. It was, he supposed.
To his surprise Mycroft smiled thinly at him. “Oh yes. The matter is, of course, in hand.”
“What? How?” John found he was sitting ramrod straight in his chair. His eyes fixed on Mycroft.
“I don’t run around London swishing my coat and attracting attention to myself.”
John’s nostril’s flared at the dig at Sherlock but he refrained from commenting.
“I am taking my time.”
John edged forward in his seat. “Richard Brook-” he began.
“Is dead,” Mycroft finished. “And so is Moriarty. He won.” Mycroft’s hands smoothed invisible wrinkles in his trousers. “That was his aim all along: for Sherlock to fall.” There was no shake in voice as he said it. Like there was no shake in his hand when he took the tea. “I always doubted that the lie would stand up to prolonged scrutiny. No, there will be a small retraction somewhere on page 14 of the Sun. A quiet clearing of criminal records. Even the hitmen hired to watch you, Mrs Hudson and Detective Lestrade will be taken care of. Eventually.”
John stared at him. Donovan must feel awful. Good.
“Oh, his name will never be completely clear, of course. The majority will continue to believe what they do now.” Mycroft’s mouth twisted into an approximation of a smile. “But, Sherlock will be, as you put it, cleared. I just needed time. Something, as you know, we were in very short supply of a few months ago. Time destroys everything, Dr Watson, even great lies.”
John gripped his cup until his knuckles went white. “Is this your way of asking for forgiveness? Clearing a dead man’s name?”
“No,” Mycroft answered softly. “I wouldn’t hope for that.”
John couldn’t think of an answer.
Mycroft didn’t speak again before he left.
“Do you miss him?” John asked weeks and many cups of tea later. They hadn’t spoken since Mycroft told him about clearing Sherlock’s name, but Mycroft didn’t seem surprised at the question.
“Yes,” Mycroft answered simply. He didn’t wait to finish his tea before he left.
“If this isn’t about making it up to Sherlock, then what is it about?” John placed his cup down and held Mycroft’s eye.
Mycroft stared back levelly. “What do you imagine it is ‘about’?”
“I think,” John said slowly, “you lied. The rent, clearing his name, even coming here to see me: it’s penance.”
Mycroft gave one of his almost-smiles. “And if it is, John? What would you say to that? A man trying to ask forgiveness of the dead?”
John was left without an answer again. But the next time Mycroft came he gave him some Rich Tea biscuits with his tea.
“Did you ever tell my little brother that you loved him?”
Mycroft had never initiated conversation before. It had been months since he first showed up and this was the first time he spoke without being spoken to first.
John choked on his tea.
Mycroft looked calmly at him and put his cup down. “I shall assume that is a no. Pity. I doubt he realised.”
John stared at him but Mycroft didn’t look away. “I...” John wasn’t sure what he wanted him to say. The denial had stuck in his throat. Emotions he hadn’t felt, hadn’t let himself feel, since he visited the grave, rose in his chest. His throat was tight. Eventually he managed, “I think you’re wrong.”
Mycroft picked up his cup again. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
John didn’t ask Mycroft if he thought Sherlock returned his feelings. He couldn’t bear to. He doubted any answer would make him feel better and Mycroft never brought the topic up again.
“Did you want to take anything?” John started, and then felt awkward.
Mycroft looked up from his cup. It was late: past midnight. John wondered if it was the visits, Sherlock or his job that made him look so pale and drawn. He wondered if he looked like that. Maybe that’s why everyone spoke so softly around him.
“Take anything?” Mycroft seemed genuinely perplexed.
“From,” John gestured around, “from the flat.” Mycroft continued to look at him. “Of Sherlock’s,” John finished and wished he hadn’t said anything.
Mycroft’s face became completely blank. John realised he hadn’t seen that expression since before the fall. He was surprised to find how much he disliked it. “I somehow doubt Sherlock would have liked that.”
John shook his head. He was angry again. “Well, he’s dead, so I guess it doesn’t matter much what he would have wanted. Do you want something or not?”
Mycroft put down his cup. “I should get back to the office.”
John felt his face grow hot. He knew it was irrational but he suddenly hated Mycroft’s passive acceptance of his anger. “For God’s sake, Mycroft! Just take something. Surely you’d like something to remember him by. You can’t keep coming here and sitting in his chair. It’s ridiculous. Can’t you see that? You couldn’t stand the sight of either of us before he died and now you can’t get enough.”
John realised he was shouting but Mycroft still wasn’t reacting. “Will you say something? Have some sort of reaction? For Christ sake, just do something.” John started forward, but Mycroft didn’t move. John stopped, not sure what he was doing. He felt his shoulders slump. “Get out.” His voice was quiet.
Mycroft picked up his things and went to the door. “Goodnight, Dr Watson.”
John watched the door shut. He picked up Mycroft’s cup and threw it against the wall.
Mycroft didn’t come back for a long time. John found himself making tea for someone he knew wasn’t coming. For someone he wasn’t sure he wanted to come. His therapist would have a field day.
When he did arrive neither mentioned the last visit. John felt suddenly relaxed when they sat down. He hadn’t really noticed that he wasn’t until he felt the tension leave him.
“You haven’t been returning your friends’ calls,” Mycroft said after a long moment.
John didn’t bother asking how he knew or denying it. “I don’t want to see them. Not yet.”
“And yet you let me in every time I arrive. And you actively dislike me.”
“No doubt that means something terrible about suppressed emotions and trauma in my childhood that I should be telling my therapist about,” he said.
Mycroft laughed. It was an odd sound and it took John a moment to realise why. It was a genuine laugh. Not sarcastic or annoyed. He’d never heard Mycroft laugh before. He didn’t know he could. He smiled in return and suddenly he was laughing too. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d done it. It felt nice.
Mycroft smiled at him when he left. That felt nice too.
He called Stamford the next day. Maybe it was time to leave the flat.
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.