Doubt that I will ever return.
He’s focused intently on his experiment before him, dropping the slightest bit of iodine into his morning milk— not that he had any intention of drinking it, of course. Sherlock wasn’t an idiot. The man was observing colour changes.
"…Go away," he grunts, not even sparing Sherrinford a glance.
The childish command fell upon deaf ears and he moved further inside the chaotic flat, wherein, then he waited. The wish to remain undisturbed while working (if what his brother was doing could, indeed, be called that) was not unknown to him -Sherrinford preferred the same. However, time forced preference behind its omnipotent form and the detective was not impervious to it.
"I will." He lowly stirred the air, "If you’ll listen."
Subject: RE: Kitten
I did not kill it.
Thank you for the gift.
In the weeks that followed, Sherrinford was pleased to find that regular baths and brushes vastly reduced the amount of shedding. He didn’t particularly like removing grey fur from his suits, shockingly enough. Darcy, the cat, did not mind baths -especially when he received treats for behaving, or the attention. The cat was high-maintenance but, well, that fit with his owner.
Darcy trailed behind him everywhere, if he wasn’t napping in the sun, or, if he grew tired of walking, was carried in the crook of Sherrinford’s arm. His human was delightful. Not too loud (the other cats he met complained about small humans screaming and tugging on their ears) and gave him bits of bread on the promise that he was not to tell. Oh, as if Darcy would ever betray their secrets but the sentiment was nice.
Now the unlikely pair sat on a window-seat. It was their favourite -as made obvious by the amount of novels and cat toys littered about. Sherrinford read, sometimes aloud, while Darcy listened and basked in the presence of a warm sun and his human. It was all very enjoyable, really, and Darcy wouldn’t trade it for anything. Not even kitty treats.
On occasion, other humans entered their house. There was a woman who smelled like France, the good parts, she made the doctor smile so Darcy assumed she wasn’t bad. Another woman, older and with warm hugs, dropped by a few times a week with flowers or cans of exotic coffees. Darcy was fairly certain that this woman was his human’s mother. They smelled the same, if one peeled away the scent of cigarettes and flowers. His favourite not-doctor human was the one that looked like his doctor. Oh yes, he fancied this one and not because not-doctor brought him treats. Although, that was a factor. Doctor was always pleased to see him, even if he didn’t show it, and a pleased doctor meant extra scratches.
There were others, of course. A towering man with a son and an umbrella who said things that made Sherrinford roll his eyes or sigh. Ah, and then there was this strange man with a long coat and a haughty attitude. He never stayed long and usually left in a huff after the doctor knocked him off his high tower.
To be perfectly honest, Darcy preferred it when they were alone. He wasn’t anti-social, certainly not, he just liked socializing with someone who understood him completely. And who never stepped on his tail. Yes, alone was the best. Even when doctor was too busy with work to pet him properly. He liked the company. Darcy liked his doctor.
I found this in my garden. After deciding that my dear husband probably wouldn’t allow me to keep it, and that my current cat wouldn’t enjoy it’s company, I thought perhaps you should have it.
Ignoring the suspicious act finding a dully decorated box on the doorstep, Sherrinford brought it inside. He placed in out the kitchen island with the intention of opening it after the coffee finished brewing. It was a dark blend that permeated throughout the house and drifted beyond the open French doors. An older couple walking in the morning light inhaled with twin smiles knowing that their resident doctor was up and ready for the day. They would have to drag him from that stuffy house for dinner. He, however, remained oblivious of their future plans.
Coffee finished and poured into his favourite mug, Sherrinford placed it next to the box and considered it. There was nothing special about today. It was not his birthday or some holiday -his mother would have reminded him, if it was, and he didn’t remember asking anyone for anything.
The whole situation was peculiar. Ah well, his shoulders rolled up in a soft shrug, it didn’t matter. Sherrinford tugged at the silk bow holding the box shut and removed the lid.
He raised a brow and brought the mug to his lips. Well, that was unexpected, he thought as he read the small note. Inside, swathed in blankets and sleeping peacefully, was a kitten. A grey Siamese mix, from the look of things.
Honestly, the doctor did not know how to feel. This…kitten was a responsibility and, really, trusting him with tiny, fragile things wasn’t a great idea. Giovanni was the gentle one, not him. There was no way he could keep this. His lips pulled into a tight frown. Nor could he get rid of it.
Sherrinford sighed and idly scratched the kitten’s ear while texting Ormond to bring him supplies. He would do nothing more than make sure that the thing was comfortable and lived a healthy life. And if he smiled when the kitten began to purr, well, there was no one around to see it.
Hannibal’s keen sight caught that little compulsive twist of his ring, was it subconsciously done or an act the man thought about when something didn’t quite suit him? Well, either way he caught it, like a nervous twitch or a small gesture - tiny in fact towards terms that weren’t quite correct. If Mr Holmes returned for another session, then the terminology itself was befitting.
"I do have an arrange of beverages, I however prefer a glass of wine myself. What can I get you, Mr Holmes?"
He asks with a very slight tip of the corner of his rose red lips, the smallest and lightest of smirks before his expression becomes passive just like his equal within the room.
"Even we professionals have our own therapists, there is nothing wrong with being here. Just remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is just human nature to need someone who will listen, who can be that tether to keep us grounded when we are most vulnerable."
The man replies softly, a soothing tone to his accent. He’s not ashamed to admit that he goes to see a psychiatrist himself, after all - he’s experienced things that he doesn’t always like but has handled in a manner of unhealthy ways.
“Wine, then.” A rare consent but, being here, set him on edge. So, he watched the other as he moved with the deliberate steps of a performer.
The portrait of this man was, at first glance, faultless. A soul drinking in the art would expect nothing less of this example of prestige. Treating the painting as the stars, no one gazed for length. However, the feeling of eyes upon edges lingered for years until they faded into obscurity. Fingers longed to touch, wanting to feel elegance beneath their fingers and see the contrast of canvas.
Doing so would elicit fear. Beneath the gentle strokes of grey waited glass. Reaching beyond the surface brought pain and knowledge. That frames hid frayed edges. Pretty blues concealed the corrosion. The illusion would disintegrate and the artist revealed.
Vulnerable was a beautiful word for ruined, he smiled.
The fault belonged to the dead. To the person who exposed the artist with his own blood and worshipped the painting’s subtle flaws. Willingly harming himself with the sharp edges of defensive cynicism and emotional bluntness, he pressed on until pain morphed into something beautiful. But now, that beauty lie underground, decaying, and the painter was left with two rings. The past became a half-remembered dream.
Ormond’s light smile curved downward as he noticed the look of irritation that crossed Sherrinford’s face. He’d do well not to be late again, that’s for sure, he never really was. Perhaps he shouldn’t have shrugged it off so casually. “No problem, boss, Ainsworth and Lewis-Baker.” He picked up each stack, crossing one over the other to keep them separate, and cleared his throat. “Hehe, usually you got a whole load of papers to keep me busy to begin with, and this ain’t gonna last an hour. Slow work day, or…?”
Ormond’s sentence didn’t conclude as he noticed the lack of attention he was being paid. Sherrinford was busy at work, his eyes scrolling documents on his desk and on his computer, and quips were likely not going to entertain him. It was hard finding a good time to talk to Sherrinford. The two were friends, or at least Ormond thought so, but they rarely had a conversation that didn’t stem from some form of medical procedure controversy or other work related ideas.
"Anything else, sir?" Was much more appropriate. He smiled, and it was a true smile. He liked work, he didn’t understand how anyone couldn’t, and he liked his friendship with Sherrinford. He wouldn’t have it be any other way.
There was seldom a time where Sherrinford didn’t listen to the world around him. That included those within it. Even when he slept, his brain processed the quiet, white noise filling the room. Whether he acknowledged the sounds was different. One could find assurance that their words were never lost and pain knowing that most did not earn a reaction.
A rare smirk tilted his lips. It was, usually, a precursor for something cruel. “Blind as always.” Sherrinford straightened and, with the contemptuous smile in place, reached around his long-term friend. Four, thick manila folders landed in Ormond’s arms. “Learn to observe.” He patted Ormond’s cheek in a condescending fashion –his way of being good-humoured, and returned to straighten his desk. “You can leave now.”
She didn’t need a job. Between the pay she accumulated underneath her former employer and the abhorrent amount of money left to her by her family Miss Jones could finance the next world war and still live lavishly. He would know this, obviously does, because one does not ask such a question if she were not currently dressed in designer fashion not yet to hit the runway.
Unfurling her curled fingers, she breaks their eye contact first, admiring the golden ring on her right finger with a bit of malice. “After the abrupt termination of my previous employment, I find myself in the perplexing position of whether or not to pursue legalities. But the months away from London have cleared my brain and I find this to be a more suitable…arrangement.”
The thought of her, alone, against the eldest and most achieved brother was humorous. Having checked, he knew her name was already wiped clean of all files connecting her to her former position. Opposing them, ah, the Holmes family and their far reaching law in an open tactic would have had her name erased entirely. Nevertheless, the image of a flustered Mycroft destroying the history of someone was, admittedly, entertaining.
Approaching the situation from the obscure was far more appropriate. Especially when the one providing the information could be compelled to her side. Oh, he was well aware of his predilection towards women in need. Blame his mother for his chivalrous acts.
“Undeniably.” He rose from the chair and circle around the desk. The doctor held out a file for her to take. “Report here tomorrow at nine hundred hours and we’ll begin.”
Quentin shifted slightly, looking back out the car’s window and lapsing back into silence. Filling the air with mindless chatter or reassurance that “a few minutes won’t make much difference” certainly wouldn’t do any good, it was better to spend the rest of the ride listening to the rain fall.
The estimated five minutes passed before the two arrived in the oldest’s brother’s drive, and they continued their silence as they trekked through the still-falling rain to the front door. Quentin frowned slightly in irritation as his thick lenses fogged and blurred, and mopped his damped hair out of his face. He paused, then lightly knocked on the door.
Mycroft spent the next few minutes making sure the table looked perfect and setting up a baby monitor nearby, just in case his son woke up and started crying (which, to be honest, probably would happen. Benjamin did have a tendency to cause a fuss at the worst of times). At the knock on the door Mycroft adjusted the layout of the table ever so slightly once more, before going to answer it. As he opened the door he glanced at his watch. Hm. Almost ten past. Later than expected, but no disastrously. The timing wouldn’t affect anything more than Sherrinford’s irritability.
The elder brother made no comment about the time, and instead simply put on a smile and held the door open for the other two. “Good evening. I trust the traffic wasn’t too bad? This weather probably made it a little worse than expected.” He glanced towards his brothers’ wet hair. He would have to lend them an umbrella if the rain continued, he supposed. It wouldn’t be very polite of him the let them walk back to the car without one. “Anyway, do come through to the dining room. The food should be ready soon.”
Entering first, he put up his coat and did as directed while observing the state of the house. He left Quentin to answer their brother. The youngest one was exceedingly better with the polite conversation. Sherrinford did offer a courteous Good evening, Mycroft. It was, perhaps, for the best.
Disregarding the weather and the off timing, his mood was agreeable. The atmosphere was lighter than their usual reunions. The Holmes’ Manor always had his teeth on edge. Too much history there, he supposed.
Mycroft watched carefully, and just a little proudly, as Sherrinford got up to throw the wrapper in bin. He didn’t know many children his age who would do that without prompting. Quick to learn - that’s what Sherrinford was. Well, not just that but also willing. It was a big change from Sherlock, who was quick but stubbornly refused to do pretty much anything you told him to.
Still following that train of thought, Mycroft observed as his brother watched the people walking past. “Don’t stare, Sherrinford.” Mycroft said after quickly finishing off his own ice cream. “When you stare people are more likely to notice you. When you observe people you need to do it quickly in short bursts. Watch, go back to your newspaper or whatever your cover is, then watch again. You’re far less likely to get noticed that way.”
His eyes trailed back to Mycroft to show that he was listening. Adults liked that. Newspaper? His eyebrows knitted together as he frowned. No, there weren’t any of those lying around. He bit the inside of his cheek, thinking, before his feature lit up. He didn’t have a paper but he did have something else that could work.
From inside his jacket pocket, he drew out a small book and flipped it open. There, now he had a cover. He hoped that Jane Austen did not gain any attention. It was small print anyway, no one would notice.
Shifting back and forth from reading the discourtesies of Mr Darcy to the strangers walking past, he practiced. It was rather fun and very difficult not to giggle. A few times he had to press his face into the pages to stifle his laughter. The people didn’t even know he was looking at them! How funny!
Subject line: RE: -