|New Fic: "First Words" - Young Mycroft & Sherlock - PG
||[Apr. 1st, 2011|04:58 pm]
(she lives between pages)
Title: First Words
Characters: Young Mycroft & Sherlock
Warnings: Death of a parent
Notes: Written for the most recent round at thegameison_sh. The challenge theme was Older/Younger, and so I wanted to focus on a young Mycroft and the crucial hand he's had in Sherlock's development from day one.
Summary: You curl Sherlock's tiny fingers around your thumb while the adults converse quietly in the far corner of the room, and, sure enough, his eyes focus briefly on yours. It's the first of his many secrets that you'll keep.
Such a frightening child, you hear one of Mummy's nurses say. He doesn't cry.
You don't know if Sherlock made a sound during the delivery, but from what Father had explained of what a Caesarian section is, you would have a hard time believing he didn't. Mummy is fast asleep, damp dark curls plastered to her forehead, and Sherlock is quiet and wide-eyed in her arms.
He doesn't make eye contact, either, whispers the other nurse, and Father frowns.
You curl Sherlock's tiny fingers around your thumb while the adults converse quietly in the far corner of the room, and, sure enough, his eyes focus briefly on yours. It's the first of his many secrets that you'll keep.
Several days later, after the respiratory infection sets in, you anxiously watch the fretful kicks of Sherlock's skinny legs inside the incubator as the doctor slips a needle in his hand. After a minute, you shout Stop! Stop! and bang against the glass as Father tries to restrain you. He's choking! Stop!
You learn the phrase penicillin allergy. It's the first of many times you'll save your brother's life.
In the weeks following, you learn how to feed Sherlock when Mummy hurts too much to do anything but sleep. You correct Father when he holds the bottle at the wrong angle. You learn how to burp Sherlock, soothe his colic, and change his nappies. You learn that your scratchy efforts on the violin you found in the attic somehow lull him to sleep.
Sherlock still won't look at anyone but you, and you still won't tell a soul. He doesn't cry, but he whimpers. Once, he even smiled when you spilled formula down his chin, made a hiccup like a laugh. He stretched out his hand and touched your mouth, and you laughed, too.
Father and the doctor still say there's something wrong. When Sherlock is six months old, you begin to hear terms like partially deaf and autistic and doesn't fit any known profile. You know that Sherlock can hear; he reacts to the sound of your footfalls when you enter the nursery. You do some sneaky reading in Father's study and decide that autism is a possibility, but that it's too early to tell. As for what profile he fits, you know better than they do.
Sherlock is Sherlock.
At eight months, he begins responding to voices and making eye contact with others. It's not that he'd been unable, you conclude; it's that he'd been too busy paying attention to other things. Birdsong and the screech of tyres out the window. The movement of pedestrians in the busy streets of London. Your hands as they sign to him slowly and carefully, just in case.
You borrow a set of alphabet flashcards from your school library and spend your afternoons (assignments are boring; you finish them while your teacher rambles on) showing the flashcards to Sherlock, explaining each letter's sound and function. He watches, clear-eyed and silent, but he never says a thing. He'll touch the cards, even pick them up and study them, but that's it.
You hold him all night when the police ring with news of Father's death in a road accident, shield him from Mummy's sobbing. You swallow your own tears and wonder how much Sherlock really knows. Enough, his restless fingers in your hair seem to say.
Mummy heals just like she healed after the surgery that brought Sherlock into the world, because she's strong. She moves the crib into your bedroom and reads to you both at night.
When the weather is nice, Mummy takes you to the park, where Sherlock tastes everything within reach, but never the same thing twice. You find twigs, a bottle cap, and a sun-bleached bird skull down one of his socks when you put him to bed. He is almost two years old.
Grand-maman comes over a few times a week and helps with Sherlock and the flashcards. He smiles and laughs rarely, but still won't speak. On separate occasions, he arranges the cards to spell NO and WHY, but you can't decide whether or not it's coincidence. His third birthday approaches.
Sherlock's first word, when it finally arrives, takes everyone by surprise.
Mummy and Grand-maman are watching the news on telly, and you're on the floor with Sherlock, patiently reviewing the flashcards. I, you say. J, K, L—
My, Sherlock says, snatching the next card off the pile. Mycroft.
Surprises everyone, that is, except for you.