[identity profile] spacemutineer.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] acdholmesfest
Title: A Casual Reflection on the Probability of Coincidence
Recipient: [livejournal.com profile] thesmallhobbit
Author: [livejournal.com profile] mainecoon76
Rating: G
Characters/pairings: Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Warnings: none
Betaed by and discussed with [livejournal.com profile] mrs_sweetpeach, who literally saved this fic. Thank you so much!
Summary: Mycroft Holmes ponders his own relationship with his sibling, the wonder that is John Watson, and the fact that, in spite of evidence that points to the contrary, the universe may not be unkind after all.

An eternal conundrum of our existence, one of the few I have been unable to grasp despite the continuous, if idle, investment of brainpower on the matter, concerns the assumed existence of a higher power. I myself have been highly dubious of the matter for as long as my logical mind has outgrown the blissful naiveté of youth. My brother, in what he believes to be a logical argument but is in fact no more than a sign of his poorly concealed romantic streak, claims that the mere existence of beauty can be taken as satisfactory proof. He chooses to neglect that according to general knowledge beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and all too often serves quite a prosaic purpose after all, generally a reproductive one.

I am, however, not conceited enough to state my private opinion as indisputable fact. Like all hypotheses it can only be accepted until proven otherwise, and it happens at times that new evidence emerges which seems insignificant until its weight tips the scales into a new direction

When Sherlock first introduced me to his friend and associate Dr John Watson - retired army surgeon, excellent gunman, socially adept, a decent fellow if prone to gambling and versatile in the matters of the flesh - I was mildly impressed by my new acquaintance yet gravely unsettled for my brother's sake. Sherlock, at the time, had been lodging with the man for several years, and even though we may not cultivate the most frequent social interaction, I needed no intimate knowledge of his situation to see that he was utterly besotted. It was equally obvious that Watson had not an inkling of the fact, which I considered a legitimate reason to question his intelligence. The doctor was clearly fond of my brother and would surely not be averse to an exploration of carnal pleasures, if his decent nature allowed it; yet, after a thorough analysis of probabilities, I decided that his tendencies toward the fairer sex would very likely lead to his eventual departure in favour of marriage, especially if he was not encouraged to consider the alternatives.

I may have been called unsociable on one or two occasions, but there remains one person in the world whose well-being matters deeply to me, and I had no interest in seeing his heart broken.

"I do not see how this is any of your concern," Sherlock informed me later that same evening while we were having a brandy in the guest room of my club. My brother leaned back in his chair with the most nonchalant expression he could muster. It would have fooled anyone but me.

"It does not concern me in the slightest," I agreed pleasantly. "If it did, you would have known a good deal earlier, my dear boy."

"Then I do not see why we need to converse on this matter."

"We do not," I conceded, casually turning the snifter in my hands and watching him through half-closed eyes. My brother is not easily provoked unless one possesses a very intimate knowledge on how to proceed. To this day I believe the doctor and I are the only ones who are versed in the art. In this particular instance I merely had to wait a few minutes before he gave me an icy glare and lit a cigarette.

"What, pray tell," he demanded in the particular cutting tone he only uses in the rare instances of genuine frustration, "is it you want from me, Mycroft?"

"I am surprised that I need to spell it out." I seriously doubted that there was truly a need for it. Sherlock was being deliberately obtuse. "I want you to be careful."

"We cannot all withdraw from the world and regard it as merely a puzzle for the inquiring mind."

"I could not make you do that even if I wanted to. But you are treading on thin ice, Sherlock. I do not wish to see you come to harm."

It was as blatant a confession as he would ever hear from me, and his eyes widened slightly at this drastic measure. Yet in this particular instance I considered it entirely justified. There was no need to remind him of the last time his romantic tendencies had led him too deeply into a commitment that very nearly ruined both him and the young man in question. I had been able to silence the matter at the time, though it had involved Mr Trevor's relocation to Northern India, but Sherlock had not taken well to the inevitable termination of their relationship. I had no wish to ever again see my vibrant brother to descent into indifferent lethargy in which the only alternation of his mood was brought about by the excessive use of artificial stimulants.

Sherlock and I have never required many words to understand each other's meaning. My brother's lips thinned and he avoided my eyes, intently watching the delicate curl of his cigarette smoke instead.

"Watson will never do me harm."

"Not intentionally."

"Not ever, lest some harm should befall him."

It seemed that the evening was meant for blatant declarations.

"I am aware of his assets," I remarked as gently as I could muster. "But he is more traditional of values than you could ever be. There is the possibility of marriage to consider."

Sherlock threw the half-smoked stub of his cigarette into the grate with a movement that was both practiced and casually elegant. I honestly cannot tell where he acquired his flair for the dramatic.

"Though this particular issue might be avoided if you informed him of your intentions."

He did not grace me with an answer.

"I would rather see you abstain altogether," I informed him, "but I can tell it is already too late for you to escape unharmed. He would most likely be accommodating."

"I know."


"I will not ruin him."

"I trust you to be more careful than you once were."

"It does not matter. I will not take the risk."

"Then he will leave."

"Eventually, yes." He shrugged, and though surely he knew that I could see through his air of calm indifference with ease, it probably would have deceived anyone else. "It would be selfish of me to prevent it."

I watched him for a while, and though his words were not suitable to reassure me in the slightest, I realized that the matter was out of my hands. He knew as well as I that love was not a concept meant for the likes of us, but it has always been easier to bear for me, for I have never felt the pull of the flesh, nor experienced the urge to align myself to another soul with all my being. I feared that my brother, being given to far more dangerous proclivities, may have been doomed from the start.

It is an eternal curse of a mind like mine to see the depravity of human nature, and while Sherlock revels in the challenge of opposing it with everything his higher-than-average abilities have to offer him, I have grown weary of it. I can see the workings of the world over the extension of an empire and beyond. I can tell how the tax development in South America influences the political situation in India, I know of virtually any intimate affair in the so-called higher circles that may have direct influence my area of expertise, and I perceive the rising threat that evolves from the development of increasingly destructive weapons. It is not my place to move the chess pieces, but I can tell at any time where they are stationed.

I am the most unlikely man imaginable to save a soul, even the one that is dearest to my own, and it is not for a lack of trying. Yet in a strange way that I must confess is quite beyond my understanding, others seem to have succeeded where I could not. Sherlock is quite capable of looking after himself, but I never imagined him to form close attachments, even to mellow to the point of allowing a friendship. He has always been a queer fellow, and I have not known the world to be fond of such men, which is a lesson my brother learned the hard way at an early age and has taken to heart ever since. But I must acknowledge that despite all this, he was fortunate enough to meet the one man who loves him unconditionally, no matter whether or not carnal pleasures are involved.

Watson did marry, as we had both predicted. What came as a surprise to me was that he did not abandon Sherlock in the process. The doctor remained steadfast at my brother's side, partaking in his adventures and lightening his moods. He forgave the infliction of grief and deceit, and eventually he and Sherlock came to be the intimate companions I am sure they will be known as through the ages.

There are others too, now that my brother will allow them near. I can see the twinkle in his eyes when he engages in friendly banter with Inspector Lestrade. He holds great affection for his landlady. Even Watson's wife spoke to me of friendship when we were introduced at my brother's memorial following the Reichenbach affair, and I happen to know that Sherlock was genuinely grieved by her death. Most would call it luck that Sherlock happened to come across these decent people who offer him love and friendship, who not only acknowledge his uniqueness but cherish it. For a man so consciously misanthropic as I admit myself to be, it defies comprehension, for I would have estimated the probability as barely existent. Yet it is one of the few things in life for which I am truly grateful, even if as yet I cannot be sure whether or not there is a power to be grateful towards.

I have to disagree with Sherlock on the matter of beauty. Surely the fact that a rose may be pleasing to the eye is in no way an indication of the benevolence of Providence. Goodness and decency, though, and the strange ways in which love and affection can lighten the hearts of men even like my brother - now these are facts that, in due time, may ultimately be able to convince me.

Date: 2015-05-02 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thesmallhobbit.livejournal.com
Aw, this is lovely. I really like this study in their relationships.

Date: 2015-06-08 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
Thank you so much! I must admit I nearly despaired over this fic. Initially it was almost twice as long, contained a conversation with Mary Watson, and felt... well, just wrong, pointless and incomplete. Glad it turned out all right after all.

Date: 2015-05-02 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rachelindeed.livejournal.com
A beautiful piece. I love its celebration of the many shades of love and acceptance that contribute to a person's happiness, and to the goodness that inspires existential hope in a deeply imperfect world. I am very sorry, though, for Sherlock's griefs. Thanks so much for sharing this. :)
Edited Date: 2015-05-02 05:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-06-08 02:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
Beautifully put, thank you! We're so often focusing only on romantic love, which is a wonderful thing but there are so many other forms of love that are no less meaningful.

Date: 2015-05-02 05:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tripleransom.livejournal.com
I love the dryness and the little hint of distaste here: "...beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and all too often serves quite a prosaic purpose after all, generally a reproductive one."

The nod to the rose speech is very well done also. We don't get enough fics in Mycroft's voice, so thank you for adding to the total.

Date: 2015-06-08 02:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
*g* I picture Mycroft as one of the dryest men of his age, and also as harbouring a certain distaste for the world in general... which is something he is just beginning to question here.

Date: 2015-05-02 06:04 pm (UTC)
ext_3554: dream wolf (Default)
From: [identity profile] keerawa.livejournal.com
The voice in this piece is perfect, which is high praise since Mycroft is such an unusual and distant narrator. The fact that both Mycroft and Sherlock are men set apart, something that Mycroft accepts but that will always be painful to Sherlock, really came through. And those hints about Sherlock's past with Victor Trevor - ouch.

There was line after line that I copied, thinking, 'Yes, this is the best one, the one I'll comment on,' only to replace it a few moments later by an even better quote from the next paragraph. Here is my final choice:

Sherlock threw the half-smoked stub of his cigarette into the grate with a movement that was both practiced and casually elegant. I honestly cannot tell where he acquired his flair for the dramatic.
I love how this evokes Sherlock's physicality and Mycroft's quiet affection for him.

Date: 2015-06-08 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
The fact that both Mycroft and Sherlock are men set apart, something that Mycroft accepts but that will always be painful to Sherlock

Yes, that is precisely what I was trying to convey, glad it worked. I love Mycroft very much (although I must admit his voice gave me a headache), and I like to think that both brothers love each other very deeply, even if it is probably a topic they never ever approach.

Date: 2015-05-02 10:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jcporter1.livejournal.com
Watson's steadfastness is the key to Holmes ability to see beauty in the world.

Date: 2015-06-08 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
Exactly! :)

Date: 2015-05-02 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saki101.livejournal.com
What a wonderful study of the workings of Mycroft's heart and mind. I think that Mycroft may be deceiving himself. There seems to beat the heart of a romantic beneath his abstract and apparently disinterested ruminations.

Date: 2015-06-08 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
*g* Abstract and apparently disinterested, exactly. He is so used to observing the world from a meta-perspective that he doesn't really know how to deal with mundane emotions like worry or love. That doesn't mean they aren't there. Thank you!

Date: 2015-05-03 12:11 am (UTC)
hardboiledbaby: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hardboiledbaby
Oh, wow. Anon, you had me hooked from the first paragraph, and held me in thrall to the end. Pitch-perfect Mycroft. Love this, thank you so much

Date: 2015-06-08 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mainecoon76.livejournal.com
Glad it worked for you! Thank you! :)

Date: 2015-05-03 08:16 pm (UTC)
ext_1620665: knight on horseback (Default)
From: [identity profile] scfrankles.livejournal.com
I'm rather touched by the feeling of melancholy running through the story - melancholy relating to Mycroft rather than Sherlock. Sherlock engages with the world and suffers for it. But he also reaps the rewards of gaining an intimate companion, and having several people who care about him. Mycroft remains detached, and has neither pain nor reward. You get the feeling that he perhaps regrets he isn't more like his brother.

I so admire the subtle way you have Mycroft express himself. It's an intriguing look into a complex mind. And that's a brilliant concluding paragraph.

Sunday, May 3

Date: 2015-05-03 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com
User [livejournal.com profile] marta_bee referenced to your post from Sunday, May 3 (http://holmesian-news.livejournal.com/439914.html) saying: [...] (PG | ACD) Fic for the smallhobbit: A Casual Reflection on the Probability of Coincidence [...]

Date: 2015-05-04 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gardnerhill.livejournal.com
A beautiful study of love - Holmes and Watson for each other, and Mycroft for his strange and very dear little brother.

Date: 2015-05-06 07:23 am (UTC)
hagstrom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hagstrom
I think you captured his voice perfectly and I love how everything turned out great for Everyone in the end. Greatly done!

Date: 2015-05-28 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stellinia.livejournal.com
I always love discussions between Sherlock and Mycroft, no matter what the verse. The contrast between Mycroft's casual use of his own genius and Sherlock's more dramatic show is a real treat, and you showcase it just right here. And I just love Mycroft, so overall, I really enjoyed this, thank you :)

Date: 2015-05-30 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] garonne.livejournal.com
We know so little about Mycroft that there's a lot of room for interpretation, but reading this fic I was convinced that this was exactly how he must be. Everything rang true -- his own voice, his interactions with his brother, Holmes and Watson's relationship as viewed through Mycroft's eyes... Brilliant!
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