Original Story Title: A Most Uncomfortable Parallel
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/311821
Original Story Pairings: Gen. Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Harry Watson.
Original Story Rating: Teen and up audience.
Original Story Warnings: Drug and alcohol abuse
Remix Story Title: I kept the right ones out
Remix Author: andrea_deer
Remix Beta: frayer
Remix Britpicker: frayer
Remix Story Pairings: Gen. Mycroft Holmes, John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, mentions of Harry and Clara.
Remix Story Rating: PG13
Remix Story Warnings: Contains drug and alcohol abuse.
"I kept the right ones out"
The Holmes brothers might seem similar, but only because of how different they are from everybody else.
All of their similarities start from how they see the world. Their observational skills and their ability to deduce separate them from ordinary people and unite them. The difference between them is best exhibited in how they avoid the dullness of knowing everything.
Mycroft was always calmer and more sedate. He’d see how things were, and then gently manipulate them till they were as he preferred.
Sherlock was a frantic, manic ball of energy. He needed something new every second; he threw away the things that had fascinated him a moment ago, as he moved on to whatever had interested him next. Sherlock only sought knowledge for its own sake, not for its uses.
Sherlock was four when he realized that, to learn as much as you could about something, you needed to cut it, rip it, tear it, open. That's where the real secrets would lie.
Mycroft picked up the clock Sherlock had left open on the floor, cogs falling out, but nothing broken beyond repair. Mycroft took to repairing things after Sherlock had ripped them open.
Then he started making them better. Sherlock had to break them again to find out what had changed. It kept them busy for a while, and Mummy was almost proud. Mycroft tried hard not to mention how much of a nuisance Sherlock was. Sherlock complained about his brother not being able to put together the frogs he ripped open as well.
Mummy explained death to Sherlock, and warned Mycroft to watch out for his little brother more carefully.
" What on earth do you pay the au pair and the nanny for, if not that?."
"They’re not his family."
"I'd rather have them as my family than Mycroft!"
"I'd rather have you as their family as well."
"That's enough boys! Mycroft, you should know better."
He did. It was expected of him to always know better. One of the curses of being a gifted child, he’d assumed, until he realized no one expected Sherlock to know better. Mycroft simply had to watch out for both of them--sometimes he hated being an older brother.
Mycroft has always believed that his people skills were immeasurably improved by growing up with Sherlock. If someone you considered weaker and stupider- a child half your age, deduced everything about your first kiss in front of your whole family, as a party trick, then you might have a much better understanding of how other people may see your own deductions.
If there was anything that annoyed and frustrated Mycroft more than Sherlock showing off his intelligence, it was Sherlock playing stupid.
They sat together by the family table, pieces of their mother’s birthday cake in front of them, only three plates this year. Mummy noticed Sherlock's shaking hands and glassy eyes, and excused herself so she wouldn't cry in front of them.
"You're ruining your life."
"You're ruining your diet."
Mycroft tossed the small fork on the table and glared, frustrated, at his brother, who looked back, vaguely amused. His irises blown wider than was natural, even for the soft light in the room.
He was looking for a fight; it seemed all of his actions these days were self-destructive in one way or another. Mycroft's gaze softened with worry and Sherlock's smirk turned into a snarl.
Sherlock’s first drug experiments were with the opiates and cannaboids. His mind turned lazy, slow, smooth thoughts. He lost track of them too quickly and ended up grasping at nothing, as always when the machine of his mind had nothing to focus on. It was dreadful.
The stimulants were far more interesting. Noticing details, thoughts jumping to conclusions, and rush of getting the right answer. The most amazing feelings Sherlock had ever known, now heightened thanks to just a small amount of those marvelous chemicals.
One sent his mind racing, seeing everything anew; the other soothing him into a hazy dose.
Cocaine and heroin marked out day and night for Sherlock Holmes.
"I worry about you. You need help, Sherlock, you have to accept that."
"You need to stop forcing it on me."
Sherlock was a child when Mycroft was a teenager, by the time Sherlock entered puberty, Mycroft was trying to forget it. Whilst Sherlock slipped into a drug habit, Mycroft was settling himself in secure life of success he’d fought for so long. He watched as Sherlock throw away the possibilities offered to him and could do nothing but worry.
"Are you taking care of your brother?" Mummy had asked.
John stayed in contact with his sister. Their relationship was far from perfect, she frustrated him and their personalities clashed, but she was his sister, and they did love each other.
He answered every other message, making sure staying in touch did not turn into an attempt to closeness. They got along just fine if they didn't have to see each other too often.
Sometimes he missed her, and gave in to the urge to text her; sometimes he forced himself to call her, but he hated doing so. He aimed at a time when she was just leaving her job, and hoped he would catch her before she managed to get her ‘crafty pint on the way home’ and her ‘stiff one for the road’, and the bottle of wine to have with dinner had not yet been opened. In the back of his mind he’d be juggling the variables which should tell him, when he could call his sister to catch her sober. Whenever he realized what he was doing, he stopped immediately, because he knew it was pointless. She’d be drunk; he’d be disappointed.
"For God's sake, Harry, it's not even noon yet!" he groaned once, after he’d called her, aiming for her lunch break and forgetting it was actually Saturday.
He was tired and needed to catch up on his sleep. He’d just finished another case with Sherlock, and he just wanted to get the regular phonecall done, before he could crash. His tiredness only fueled his irritation and didn’t allow him to stay quiet.
"So how come you're already drunk?"
"What? John, you're paranoid, you know that? I'm fine."
It takes far shorter acquaintance than they had to be able to tell over the phone how drunk the other person is. John fought hard not to tell that to his sister. He didn't have the strength for another fight.
"Listen, Clara's back from shops, we're about to make some lunch. I'll talk to you later, okay?" she changed the topic quickly and managed to stop himself from saying that, after so many years, it was also blatantly obvious when she was lying.
"Fine," he only replied, and took a quick calming breath. "I'll ring you next week."
Once he made a mistake of calling on Friday night, forgetting she actually mentioned a night out with friends. She’d actually asked him to come with her, because his life was obviously dull and he needed more company.
He barely understood her mumbled words.
On Monday afternoon, just as he was walking out of the clinic, he got a text from an unknown number. "She's sober and feels guilty. You should call her now. MH."
He blinked shocked in one moment and dialed in the next.
"You have my sister under surveillance?"
"Ah, good afternoon, John," said Mycroft politely. "Yes, it seemed sensible."
"Sensible..." John breathed for a moment, trying to wield his frustration.
Mycroft spoke before John managed to find the words for his accusations.
"John, I have the capability to watch over the most securely guarded people in the country, and yet I was never able to keep an eye on my sibling as much as I'd like to"
The silence stretched on for a moment while John considered Mycroft's words; the sudden and not entirely comfortable feeling of understanding between them.
"Yes, yes, okay, so, uhm, you’ll keep an eye on my sister?"
"It only seems fair," replied Holmes with vague amusement.
"I must be insane to still be living here. JW."
"I read your blog, you are insane. HW."
"Must be genetic. JW."
"Ha. Ha. Ha. Want to run from your crazy bff for a pint with me? HW."
"No need to sulk, ‘no’ would be fine. You need to get out more. HW."
John avoided Harry, telling himself the flat needed cleaning urgently, and spending far longer scrubbing the bathtub than was entirely necessary. By the time he was done it was too late to call, he told himself.
The next day, Sherlock disappeared somewhere with both of their phones. John didn't even pretend he was angry. Though he worried about his flatmate, he was a little relieved for the lack of his cellphone and ability to call his sister.
"You were called to collect your sister from the pub"
"Not an especially brilliant deduction, I reek of that place."
"You're angry and frustrated," stated Sherlock, and John just sighed tiredly, long ago used to the fact that there was no escaping Sherlock's deductions when there was no crime to capture detective’s attention. "Why do you still go to help her whenever she calls for you, if you don't care about her?"
"I do care, she's my sister."
"You said you don't like her."
"Those are two very different things."
In the vain hope that the black car waiting by the curb, a few feet from the exit to the surgery, did not contain Mycroft Holmes, John tried to walk past it. The backdoor opened as he was about to walk past it.
"Good afternoon, John."
John sighed and rolled his eyes exaggeratedly to make sure he let it show how ridiculous he found it. He got in the car though, sliding on the seat next to Mycroft.
"Good afternoon. Why am I being kidnapped this time?"
"Rather delicate affair in German embassy, I'm afraid. It took longer than I’d hoped and it seemed more efficient to have a short chat with you on my way to another meeting."
"Efficient is one way to put it," murmured John, looking out of the window, trying to judge the direction they were heading. "Is 'on a way' implying you’ll just leave me on the other side of London again to make it more of a challenge for me?"
Mycroft offered him the small smile he usually wore when John refused to behave seriously enough for his liking. It was just polite enough to not be called annoyed.
"I'm sure we can go by Baker Street on our way, John; I think it would be better if you went home sooner rather than later."
"What? Why? Has something happened to Sherlock?"
A whole range of scenarios John's mind could come up within few seconds of Mycroft's silence was appalling. Half of them already happened once or twice.
"My brother seemed fine, when he came back home, though slightly moved. Yesterday evening he went to meet your sister."
"Harry? Why on Earth would he do that?"
"It appears she called you for assistance after drowning her sorrows after her wife left her again, and Sherlock answered your phone and decided to accompany her."
John stared ahead, trying to follow Sherlock's logic in this. For a man who claimed to be ruled by his enormous logical brain, he often seemed to act completely crazily.
"I assume he wanted to meet her and gather some information about her due to her relationship to you," offered Mycroft, though John noticed he was also unsure of this deduction. "He accompanied her on her trip home from the pub and stayed with her till morning, when he walked to Baker Street, probably to avoid meeting with you before you left for work."
"You said I'd better come home earlier, is he okay? As annoying as my sister can be, I doubt she actually was that horrible to him, I mean..."
"As I said, John, he seemed... agitated. In my experience, it's usually unwise to leave him in such state for long."
The car stopped at 221B just as Mycroft finished his sentence, and John was once again too preoccupied to finally ask him whether or not he actually timed his speeches to sound more dramatic. He nodded at him and offered a short thank you, before getting out of the car. Mycroft stopped him before he managed to rush into to the flat.
"I would appreciate it if you'd inform me that he is, in fact, alright, or call for any assistance you may need if he is not."
John looked back at him, catching his worry, tangled with frustration. A look of someone who keeps on trying to help and doubts they’ll ever be allowed to.
"Of course, Mycroft; I will."
He managed not to run to the flat, but still took the stairs two at a time and called for Sherlock before he’d even opened the door. The consulting detective lay on the couch; when he noticed John standing in the doorway he looked up at him with bloodshot eyes for a second, before shutting them back tightly as if in pain.
"I'm fine," snapped Sherlock, his voice a thick growl.
"Okay," John nodded, sitting in his chair.
"Is Harry alright?"
Sherlock opened his eyes again to glare at him in confusion, before closing them back with disgust either from his obvious nausea or his slowness at reaching a conclusion..
"He was worried about you."
John smiled slightly at Sherlock’s tired attempt at an angry look.
"Harry's fine," snapped Sherlock instead. "Her wife left her. Again. You may want to call her after she’s had the time to sober up."
"Yeah," nodded John. "I probably will. You sure you're fine?"
The light smile turned Sherlock's lips an inch. "I'm great."
John smiled in reply, though his friend could not see him. He stood up and went to put the kettle on, taking his jacket off on the way.
"Yes, you are."
"I'm clean," mumbled Sherlock and John entering the kitchen barely heard it.
He stood in the kitchen's entry, looking back at the curled figure, slightly shocked. He licked his lips nervously. It was good to hear it, obviously, even if it didn't mean that much yet. It’s easy to get clean, even for an addict. Relatively easy if compared with actually staying clean. Getting clean is just good effort, which is always welcome, obviously, but doesn’t always last. Still it was good. It was very, very good.
"That is pretty great, actually," John replied finally.
Sherlock smiled proudly, not bothering to open his eyes.
"We’re fine. He says he’s clean. JW."
"Thank you, John. MH"
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