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fic: Intelligence

Title: Intelligence
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Pairing/Characters: Sherlock/John established relationship; Mycroft, John, OMCs, Mummy
Rating: R for themes
Warnings: Implied Sexual Abuse; Implied Incest; Traumatic Memory
Wordcount: ~2200
Disclaimer: They're still not mine.
Summary: As he'd said to John Watson when they first met, he worries about Sherlock. Constantly. 
Fifth in the series that begins with Invasion, Reconnaissance, Reveille and Ambush.
A/N: Thanks again to blooms84 , ginbitch and kalypso_v for beta and cheerleading; to shefa for encouraging comments on previous stories in the series; and to marysutherland for many useful discussions about where this is all heading.



Intelligence


John Watson seems constrained, holding himself in check, Mycroft thinks. The sense of control is palpable, but there's also a feeling of anger, something violent and explosive not very far below the surface.

The man's not armed, of course; he wouldn't have got past security if he had been. But Mycroft's seen the files, so he knows what John can do in unarmed combat. What he'd be able to do to him before Anthea could even make it through the door. He begins to wonder if it was a mistake to see John alone.

He'd assumed John's evident attachment to Sherlock would stop him from doing anything – regrettable. Anything that would put him behind bars, separate him from Sherlock. But if something has gone badly wrong with Sherlock – as it well might – that brake can't be relied on to work any more.

“What can I do for you, John?” he asks. Trying to sound calm, in control. Trying to ignore the look of disgust that crosses Watson's face when he uses his first name. Perhaps the informality was a mistake. It usually is, in Mycroft's experience. Even though convention dictates that calling your brother's partner Dr Watson constitutes a slight in itself.

“Is my brother–”

It shouldn't be this difficult to ask if Sherlock's drug habit has returned, should it? Which would surely be the obvious explanation of John's request for an interview.

He tries again: “Has Sherlock – done something to give you cause for concern?”

There's a long pause before John says, heavily, “In a way. Though it's not what he's done that I'm here about.”

Mycroft feels a prickle of sweat, sudden and sharp in his armpits. The expression on John's face is frankly unnerving. Heaven knows what Sherlock has been fabricating now.

“I do assure you, Dr Watson,” he says, in his most reasonable voice, “that whatever Sherlock may have told you to the contrary, my actions have always been prompted only by concern for his welfare.”

It's quite a tally, over the years. Making the minor drugs charges go away; making sure they never became major ones. Organizing one detoxification clinic stay after another and watching them all fail, because as Sherlock rightly said, there is always someone who will give you what you want, even in a place like that, if you're willing to pay the price for it. All that furious ingratitude and blame, as if it was his fault Sherlock had taken to drugs in the first place. Trying to find a way to keep him safe, keep him out of trouble, as he'd promised Mummy he always would.

As he'd said to John Watson when they first met, he worries about Sherlock. Constantly.

Or he used to. Since John's advent, he'd almost begun to believe that perhaps he could afford to relax his perpetual vigilance. Sherlock hadn't given up his dangerous pursuits, but there had seemed to be a blessed core of stability in his life now, in the form of this man.

This man currently looking at him as if he'd like to rip out Mycroft's entrails and strangle him with them.

He should have known it wasn't safe to stop worrying about Sherlock. Even for a moment.

The silence in the room goes on for a very long time. John looks as if he doesn't trust himself to speak, as if speaking might unleash whatever violence he's trying so hard to keep under control.

Mycroft tries another tack: “I take it Sherlock doesn't know you're here?”

The message had indicated it was a private matter, so he's surprised when John grins unpleasantly and says “Oh, he does now.”

Mycroft hadn't even been thinking of using Sherlock's ignorance to exert pressure on John – how could he, when he still has no idea what the visit is about? But there is no point in feeling aggrieved about that trivial misunderstanding when the man is clearly labouring under a much more dangerous misapprehension.

“Good, good,” he says, aware that it probably isn't the right thing to say; but then he has no notion what the right thing is in the circumstances.

John takes a deep breath and says something so unexpected Mycroft wonders for a moment if he's misheard.

“I think Sherlock was sexually abused as a child. And I think you know something about it.”



Sexually abused. Is that what they're calling it these days? Mycroft grimaces.

A voice from the past echoes in his head: Have a word with your brother, Holmes, there's a good chap. Wilson tells me he's this close to becoming the house tart, and he's a bit young for that. Jamieson, the housemaster at his old school. Mycroft had just about managed not to call him Sir while agreeing to talk to Sherlock; he'd had a sinking feeling about the whole business that was more than justified in the event.

Sherlock at thirteen, Mycroft at twenty. Sherlock dazzlingly beautiful, unscarred by the onset of puberty; Mycroft at his heaviest, awkward, undesirable, or so he'd thought till he met Frank. He'd been nervous about bringing Frank home with him for the vacation, and rightly so.

Mummy had been no problem; well, Mummy didn't really care, as Mycroft had known for some time. No point in grieving about that. But Sherlock had been – altogether too interested. Getting any privacy was almost impossible, given his apparently unerring instinct for the worst moment to burst in on the two of them. Mood successfully ruined, he'd retreat, giggling madly. And his ability to find excuses to lean over Frank or lunge across him, reaching for something he could perfectly well have got up to fetch, or just asked for, also seemed to be limitless.

Mycroft had tried to tackle him about Jamieson's warning. And that had gone about as badly as it possibly could.

“Silly old fart,” Sherlock had said, “what business is it of his?”

“Really, Sherlock,” Mycroft protested, “he's your housemaster and you're thirteen, of course it's his business.”

“It's no worse than what you're doing with Frank,” Sherlock said slyly. “Which is illegal, isn't it? What's the difference?”

No good telling Sherlock that the law was – in this respect at least – an ass.

“Sherlock, I'm only concerned for your welfare,” he said feebly. “You know I promised Mummy I'd always look after you.”

Why that should provoke Sherlock to blazing fury Mycroft didn't know.

“If you drag Mummy into this I'll tell about you and Frank.”

“Mummy knows, Sherlock.”

“Not Mummy,” Sherlock said contemptuously. “I'll tell the police. Anonymously.”

“I'm nearly twenty-one, they won't be interested.” Hearing his voice shake, just the same.

“Then I'll tell them Frank did things to me,” Sherlock said. “They'll be interested in that all right. I could make it quite plausible, you know.”

Mycroft knew. From what Jamieson had said, Sherlock wasn't just on the verge of becoming the house tart. His reputation was raising eyebrows all over the school that usually stayed put.

A lesson Mycroft learned early: recognizing defeat when it was staring you in the face. He'd retreated in some disarray and left Sherlock to his own devices.



“Thirteen isn't exactly childhood, is it?” he says. “And I do assure you that Sherlock at thirteen was more than capable of looking out for himself.”

Watson's face darkens and his fists clench.

“Thirteen? That's not what it sounded like to me.” Then, surprisingly, he says “I don't want to. I don't want to. Leave me alone or I'll tell.”

Mycroft stares at him, nonplussed.

“Ring any bells, Mycroft?” John says harshly. “I thought it might.”

Dear God. Mycroft's stomach lurches. He thinks he might be about to be sick, wills himself to breathe deeply until the impulse passes.

“You think that I–”

He can't finish the sentence. It's just as well he's already sitting down. He presses his handkerchief against his mouth as another wave of nausea hits him.

John is staring at him, cold and hard. The stare of a man expecting to be lied to now, looking for the signs of it.

“In answer to your implied question,” Mycroft says with an effort, “no. No, I did not abuse my brother. Sexually or in any other way.”

It feels like hours, but it can only be minutes. Watson's gaze fixed on him, searching, unrelenting. The silence presses down like a weight on the back of Mycroft's neck till he longs to bury his face in his hands. He daren't do that, of course; it would look like guilt. And he's not going to give this man any encouragement to go on thinking what he's clearly already been thinking for days.

He's not sure what his face is showing, but clearly something must have got through to Watson. Because he looks as if the ground's just given way beneath his feet, or as if he's tried to sit on a chair that isn't there. Mycroft tries not to think about what that look means, about why Watson had obviously been so sure he was the one who'd abused Sherlock. The sequence of thoughts is so clear that Watson might as well be shouting: It wasn't you? Not you – fuck – who then? He looks baffled, punch-drunk; obviously keyed himself up for this confrontation and now it's all still unresolved.

“What made you think–” Another sentence Mycroft can't finish. His voice sounds rusty. He tries again: “What happened?”

At first he thinks there's not going to be an answer. The look on Watson's face now is one Mycroft's seen before, though not often. Caused it, too, when he had to, when his duty demanded it, though he wouldn't sleep well afterwards. Not by his own actions, of course; but he'd given the orders just the same.

Watson's voice when he speaks matches his face; the words sound as if they're being torn out of him.

“We were – in bed – and I did something that – must have triggered it. A sort of fugue state,” he says. “He said – those words, but it wasn't his voice, it was – a boy's voice, a child's voice. I couldn't make him hear me.”

His knuckles are white and he's shaking.

“I thought – I thought I'd lost him. He was like that for a long time.”

“Did he say anything?” Mycroft asks. “Afterwards, I mean.”

John shakes his head. “He didn't remember any of it. He – he didn't believe me at first when I told him about it.”

Mycroft doesn't touch people. And it certainly wouldn't be a good idea to touch John Watson right now. But the impulse is surprisingly strong. Something must show in his face because John scowls.

Better not to say anything, Mycroft thinks. He waits. He's good at waiting.

He watches John's expression change from Don't you dare pity me to something more difficult to read.

“What I want from you–” John says eventually.

“Name it,” Mycroft says.

John gives him a long look, gauging whether he means it. Obviously decides he does.

“Everyone it might have been. Everyone who could have had that kind of access to him. Names and addresses.” He stops again, looks Mycroft right in the eye and says “And then I need you to look the other way.”

Mycroft swallows hard. “I think I can do better than that,” he says.

John looks grimmer even than before, a thing Mycroft would have said wasn't possible. “That won't be necessary,” he says.

“Nevertheless,” Mycroft says. “I couldn't just – stand back.”

Watson tries to stare him down but this time Mycroft's not budging.

“I promised our mother, you see,” Mycroft says. “She made me promise I would – always look after him.”

Didn't do a very good job, did you? He doesn't say it but it hangs in the air between them.

“When was that?” John's voice is flat, neutral; Mycroft gets that sense of violence held in check again.

“After our father's funeral,” Mycroft says. “I was fifteen, and Sherlock was eight.”

John's head jerks back as if he's been punched.

“Sherlock was eight?”

It means something to him, something Mycroft doesn't know yet and is suddenly afraid to know.

“What did your father die of?” John asks.

The answer to that question is buried so long and so deep Mycroft hadn't expected ever to need it again.

Just try to forget about it now, darling. Promise me. Doesn't do any good to dwell on these things.

The other promise he'd made that day, and done his best to keep.

Now he says “It was a shooting accident. I was away at school, had to come home for the funeral. They wouldn't let me see him.”

John's staring at him, he knows that, but Mycroft can't really see his face properly.

“Where was Sherlock?”

“At home,” Mycroft says. He feels cold and dizzy; there's a ringing in his ears.

“Were there – witnesses?” John asks.

“To the accident? They said not,” Mycroft says. “Sherlock–”

“Sherlock what?” John says tightly.

“Sherlock found him,” Mycroft says. “That's what Mummy said.”

They sit there in silence for a while. He's not sure what John's thinking, but the thought in his own mind is one he hasn't allowed himself to contemplate for over twenty years.

***

Links to all parts of this now complete series are here:

Invasion;
Reconnaissance
;
Reveille
Ambush
;
Intelligence
;
Mosaic
;
Minefield
;
Incendiary;
Ceasefire

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
quroiui
Mar. 26th, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Again!
D:>

This is all very well written.
fengirl88
Mar. 26th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Again!
thank you again! I'm working on the next part now...
defenestratorrr
Mar. 26th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Again!
SECONDED. AGAIN. OHNOES.
fengirl88
Mar. 26th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Again!
thank you again!
(Deleted comment)
fengirl88
Mar. 26th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
thank you - I'm very glad you do. it's been tough going but I think it's heading in the right direction now.
(no subject) - shehasathree - Mar. 27th, 2011 07:26 am (UTC) - Expand
fengirl88
Mar. 27th, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)
thank you very much - I'm very glad you are. there aren't really any good possibilities with something like this, but I agree that Mycroft would have been the most difficult one to deal with.
rusty_armour
Mar. 27th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Wow. You've practically left me speechless. Give me a minute. My mind is still processing what I just read.

I know I sound like a broken record, but you write emotions so incredibly well: John's fury, Mycroft's horror. This confrontation scene is simply excellent, especially as yet another bombshell has been dropped. Actually, more than one. Holy crap! Talk about super angst! I can only imagine what this is going to do to Sherlock!
fengirl88
Mar. 27th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
thank you so much - I'm really delighted with this comment, and very grateful for the encouragement. *glows*
this was a tricky scene to write, so I'm very glad you thought it worked.
lorelei76
Mar. 27th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
Oh god. This is seriously one of the most terrible things I've read - I mean not terrible, like badly written (it's not; it's staggeringly good), but that it's one of the most spine chilling, terrifying, jesus-god-I'm-gonna-be-sick kind of terrible. The emotions, the guilt, the horror, the utter fury - it's almost too much, seriously.

My hands are (no joke) ice cold right now, and my stomach is roiling, I'm so very affected by this.
fengirl88
Mar. 27th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
thank you for reading and commenting - I'm very grateful. I was really shocked when I got the original idea for Invasion, but it refused to go away, and then it refused to stay a oneshot. it's been the hardest thing to write and I know it is hard to read as well.
darthhellokitty
Mar. 28th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
I'm so very glad it isn't Mycroft (and I absolutely believe him).

Sherlock being so... inappropriate? ...at 13 makes more sense to him now, I suspect.

God, I love Mycroft and John's immediate agreement on something needing to be done, with obvious implications as to WHAT KIND OF THING. Those two together would be BAMFs for true justice.

I'm getting an idea of what could have happened as far as that shooting accident...

And now I'm right up to date reading this, and rely on you to write some more IMMEDIATELY.
fengirl88
Mar. 28th, 2011 09:57 am (UTC)
thank you very much. yes, I believe Mycroft, too - though when I wrote Invasion I seriously thought it might be him, and it took a long time to work out the direction of the story once it stopped being a oneshot.

the next part is being beta read, and the part after that is in progress, so I hope there will be more soon.
marysutherland
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say how well this worked. When you discussed the scene with me originally, I was imaging it as John's POV, but it's much more effective from Mycroft's POV, because it allows you to bring in all sorts of other complications, and very rapidly and cleverly sketch how Mycroft's own preoccupations might have blinded him to what was going on. I also found it interesting how Mycroft keeps switching between levels of formality for John, even in his own mind: a sign of his agitation? John's quiet statement about needing Mycroft to look the other way is good, and the suspense left at the end – is Sherlock a killer? – is staggering.
fengirl88
Mar. 29th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
thank you very much indeed - I'm really pleased you thought it worked. yes, I think the switching is a sign of agitation but also uncertainty about what their relationship is and what he's feeling towards John in this scene. the ending is less explicit about what Mycroft imagines than it was in draft - which is ginbitch's doing.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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