Some Holmes family goodness. Enjoy.
The years hadn't changed so much that he actually felt comfortable visiting his brother's flat. No, he still very much preferred setting the tone for their conversations by hosting them in an abandoned warehouse or maintaining the power balance by placing them on either side of an imposing desk.
On his own turf, Sherlock was prone to distractions (more than usual), and Mycroft disliked his tendency to sidestep any conversation he found uninteresting. But at times matters could only be discussed in person, and so Mycroft (in true big brother fashion) had shouldered the responsibility of reaching out.
His car dropped him off a short ways from the flat he sought, and he paused a moment to close his umbrella and collect this thoughts under the awning of Speedy's. He pushed into the hall and found himself face to face with the building's tenacious landlady. Her hands were empty save a single garbage sack, thus eliminating one potential source of the uproarious noise that had begun an assault on Mycroft's ears the moment the door was opened.
"Mrs. Hudson," he greeted politely, noting in her cool stare which Holmes boy would forever be her favorite. The muffled shouting was definitely coming from above him, a fact that contained no comfort given the identity of the upstairs tenant. "What in heaven's name is that noise? Does Sherlock have a client?"
The older woman sniffed knowingly. "He's always got several, hasn't he? But that's not work; that's play."
As if to punctuate that remark, Mycroft made out his sister-in-law's voice in the ruckus above. He was not a man given over to blushing, but he felt his eyebrows ascend. Good heavens, they already have three children. He eyed the door he'd just entered through. Another reason he most definitely preferred meeting with Sherlock on a schedule.
Mrs. Hudson seemed to cotton on to his unspoken thoughts because she cuffed him lightly on the shoulder with her garbage-free hand. "Oh, it's not that. The children are up there, too. They're having a family do."
More comforted than he would care to admit, Mycroft nodded his thanks and made his way up the stairs to his brother's home. He paused on the landing where the din was loudest. A knock wasn't likely to be heard in all of that chaos. With only mild trepidation, Mycroft let himself into the flat.
He'd meant to make his presence immediately known, but the view from the entryway transfixed him as soon as he was inside.
The living room of 221B had been torn asunder and reassembled to quarter what appeared to be two opposing armies. Not soldiers, Mycroft corrected himself almost immediately, a smile coming to him with the familiarity of it. Pirates.
The cast was changed, but it was a game he certainly recognized. This iteration appeared to be children versus grown-ups, with the exception of his youngest nephew who stayed close yet to his mother.
Sherlock was standing atop his favorite chair - setting a horrendous example and brandishing a plastic sword. He had a tricornered hat perched jauntily on his head, smashing down unruly curls.
The settee on the far side of the room had been remade into an equally worthy vessel, and the twins were seated on his beside a stack of pillows. These were being used as ammunition and lobbed across the room at their parents. The familiar throw pillow from Dr. Watson's chair sported the Union Jack, and as such it had been raised up beside the bedsheet mainsail.
However, given the apparent direness of the battle, Mycroft was not convinced that it wouldn't end up as canon fodder.
Will and Della were dressed out in full pirate gear (both modeled an eyepatch), but it was clear that the pair of them were currently serving as the long arm of justice - tracking down such dastardly pirates as their father and mother.
Molly had claimed a spot on the coffee table prow of her pirate ship. She had a bandana tied around her long locks, and the look wasn't far outside her usual eclectic style. Her youngest son was crouched next to her, but instead of a pirate makeover, Teddy sported oversized costume ears. The spirited barking he was adding to the melee confirmed his identity as ship's dog.
"Bring us about to port," Will commanded, and his sister tugged on the makeshift rudder (which appeared to be creatively comprised of a book end and a coat hanger).
Della added her own order to the fray. "Surrender, you scurvy pirates!" The insult was hackneyed, but Mycroft didn't doubt that his niece could likely define and diagnose that particular ailment. "We'll see you put in prison!"
"Nay!" Sherlock bellowed, flourishing his saber. "Tis a day of glory, not defeat. My pirate lads be stalwart and courageous. We welcome death before a cage."
Mycroft gave in to the eye roll at his brother's theatrics. In a different life, Sherlock could have made for a compelling actor. Though he hated to think what that profession would have done to his narcissism.
The navy was creeping up on the pirates now. Giving up on the pillow barrage, they had forged the couch cushions into a gangway and were invading the pirate vessel. Each of the twins carried a pillow weapon (Will's being the former flag). Teddy scuppered circles around his older siblings, stumbling frequently into the "water" while Will and Della were careful to balance within the confines of the "ship."
His high-pitched barks were interpreted by Molly. "Aye, you'd do right to be afraid," she told her attackers. Like Sherlock, she adopted the pirate parlance and intonation, but there was no disguising the smile in her voice.
The pretend puppy halted beside her, and Molly ruffled his ears and his curls. "This is my seafaring canine, and many a sailor has died from the Black Spot."
The joke was absolutely appalling, but the look Sherlock broke character to turn toward his wife was nothing short of adoration.
Feeling the intruder, Mycroft purposely loudened his footsteps as he entered the living room. He let his umbrella rest on the ground while he took in the scene for what he hoped was a convincing first time.
There were cries of "Uncle Mycroft" - far more enthusiastic than he'd have ever imagined before finding himself with a niece and nephews. His family was actually happy to see him, and entertaining that thought roundly undid his reputation as the Ice Man.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed in silent query, but of course none of Sherlock's queries ever stayed silent for long. "Come round for tea, big brother?" It was hardly the real question, but it did the job well enough.
"I'm afraid my presence is more business related than that."
Molly had stood from her seat at the coffee table and made for the kitchen, propping Teddy up on wobbly legs. "Best discussed over tea, surely," she said brightly. "I'll put the kettle on and you can talk it out when it's ready." His sister-in-law gave him a small smile, lips closed around a laugh. "You can take my spot until I get back."
"Please, Uncle Mycroft?"
He was about to decline, but the combined effort of Molly Holmes and her dimpled children had him acquiescing. He'd never used to be so easily manipulated, but he had to admit to a fondness for Sherlock's spunky wife that made it difficult to refuse her anything.
Sherlock's clear eyes twinkled as Mycroft made his way over to the group, electing to sit rather than stand in his chair (as was sensible). "Oh, that's not your Uncle Mycroft," he told his children, reassuming his character voice. "That be the scourge of seven seas, the most dastardly of pirates I've ever encountered on sea or on land."
It seemed hardly a flattering introduction, but given Sherlock's eternal love for piracy, perhaps it was intended as complimentary. Regardless, it was distinctive of his brother.
Della and Will exchanged a look and said together, "Blackbeard."
It would seem that he'd featured in their play before, or at least Blackbeard had. This character was plenty famed in story and song, but to Mycroft the name held a different meaning. It was a nickname long unused, the sound of untarnished youth.
"Tell us a pirate tale?" Will asked.
Mycroft sniffed distractedly (because of the absurdity of that thought, he told himself). "Oh, I don't know. This business is actually rather pressing."
Sherlock dropped the act so that he could say flippantly, "Can't have been that important. You loitered in the hall five minutes before coming in."
Mycroft was truthfully relieved Sherlock hadn't been oblivious to his entrance. There were plenty of people who relied on his brother's vigilance and observations - more than ever now. This was Sherlock's way of reassuring him.
"Just one story, Uncle Mycroft?" Della asked.
He smiled at the girl, a little stiffly, but the discomfort was in a face still unaccustomed and not a heart unwilling. He cast his mind out for a suitable pirate story. One that made no mention of red beards or east winds. Sherlock and Molly did not shelter their children from reality, but there were certainly times when such harshness should be avoided.
In truth, it was not difficult to find one such memory. The game was, after all, familiar to him as a participant as well as a watcher. For once, long before Victor Trevor, he had been Sherlock's first mate. The very first.
"Have you ever heard of how Yellowbeard first became a pirate?" he asked his smallest audience members. The three children shook their heads and snuck wide-eyed glances at their father.
Sherlock's own look was quizzical, no doubt searching his Mind Palace for the story Mycroft was invoking. "It's possible that he's forgotten," he said, and the subtle dig was just as likely fact. "He was younger than the pair of you by at least a year." He nodded at Teddy, who was curled up nearly on top of his Italian loafers. "But older than you by a mite.
"He started out - as so many pirates do - with the discovery of a treasure map. It was followed almost immediately by his first act of piracy, because the map belonged to me."
It was a cartography lesson he'd done for school that had somehow found its way onto their seashore holiday. It had just enough passing resemblance to their new surroundings - what with renderings of water and rocks and trees - that Sherlock had been enthralled, and thoroughly convinced that he had found a map to treasures long buried.
When Mycroft had caught him mid-theft, he'd explained the facts of the map, but five year old Sherlock's imagination was always a formidable rival to his brother's intellect.
"I caught him straight away; he was then less skilled in the art of theft. He was determined to hunt down the treasure, and I insisted on going with him, as it was my map." And as he was sure that Sherlock would find himself wandering off a cliff if unsupervised. "He led the way through forested glens and rocky coastlines, following the map to its end."
Out of the corner of his eye, Mycroft saw that Molly had left the kitchen and was listening to his tale. She leaned up to say something softly to his brother that made Sherlock smile and tighten his hold on her waist.
"Did you find the treasure, Uncle Mycroft?" William asked.
"Yes," he said, still surprised by it. "We explored for the better part of the day, and we were crawling about the beach's boulders when he found it." His audience was captive, and Mycroft secretly savored the fact that he was the one to bring them joy through this story. "It was an old spyglass, wedged in a craggy spot. The slide was hopelessly rusted, but somehow the lens had gone un-cracked. The young Yellowbeard was ecstatic. It was his first real pirate adventure, his first real treasure."
He smiled, enjoying the image of the pirate clad family. "There would be many to follow."
Sherlock's pirate love affair had been sparked on that afternoon, and Mycroft had supplied him with plenty of other treasure maps over the years. And though Sherlock had gone on to recruit other first mates, Mycroft had always stayed just near enough to keep an eye on his little brother. Close enough that he might see the joy that lit his face when life's treasures were uncovered.
"That was an excellent story," Della told him matter-of-factly.
"Yes," Sherlock agreed, handing him a steaming teacup. "Thank you for telling it, Blackbeard."
My Holmes Family Headcanon features Sherlock and Molly's twin children, Will and Della (age 6 in this story) and their younger brother, Teddy (age 2).
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