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David

BBC Sherlock

Rating 12 (implicit slash, OMC death)

Blooms84 wrote a fic The Instigator in which Mycroft is a widower. This is a sequel to that, and it may make more sense if you read her story first. Many thanks to Blooms84 for the inspiration and for her betaing.

John

John had discovered far more peculiar things, during his periodic excavations of Sherlock's piles of paper, than the order of service for a funeral. It was only the name that gave him a minor start. David Holmes, who had died in 1989, aged 23, poor sod. Probably a relative of Sherlock's, but might possibly be a case; the surname wasn't that unusual. He'd need to check, so he knew which of forty-seven different files to put it in – how did a man who did so much via the net nevertheless manage to generate so much paperwork? And given that they'd moved into 221B just over a year ago, how come he was turning up stuff that dated so far back?

He asked Sherlock that evening.

"A relative," said Sherlock. "Not sure why I held onto it. Sentimental of me. You can bin it."

And John had known then that he'd touched something, seen something that he shouldn't have done. You had to learn to feel the faint tremors when you associated with a Holmes. Because otherwise you'd never be able to escape the resulting avalanche.

***

So John had hung onto the sheet, and a fortnight later, when he remembered, shown it to the other man who needed to know about nasty Holmes surprises. DI Lestrade, his sort of brother-in-law.

John wasn't actually sure if Greg would be his brother-in-law, even if Sherlock and John did ever end up married. The English language didn't seem to have caught up with snappy terms for boyfriend's brother's civil partner. Greg and he had finally just settled for saying they were outlaws, if anyone asked – which got disdainful looks from both Holmeses. But if there was some mystery attached to David Holmes, Lestrade might be able to shed some light.

***

"Not anyone I've heard of," Lestrade said, and John could almost hear the detective inside him start to fire up. "Mycroft tends to talk about his elderly relatives, mostly. But his father was an only child, so if it's a cousin, it can't be a close one."

"Why would Sherlock keep the funeral service for a distant relative? There's something," said John, "I can tell it. I just don't know what. Who else could he be?"

"Brother," said Lestrade. "Yes, I know, neither Mycroft nor Sherlock have ever mentioned having a brother. And that proves precisely nothing."

"Sister," said John.

"Sister?"

"Again, if anyone's going to have a daughter called David, it would be Mr and Mrs Holmes."

"Even for a daughter, David's not weird enough. It's positively normal alongside 'Sherlock' and 'Mycroft', " Lestrade pointed out. "Besides, the dates don't fit."

"They don't?"

"This bloke or whoever he is, was born in 1966. So was Mycroft. July 1966. If Mycroft had a twin brother or sister, I think even he might have mentioned something about it. "

"Half-brother," said John.

"You've been associating with Sherlock for too long, you just think weird things," Lestrade said. "Same age half-brother?"

"Mr Holmes was a bigamist. Sherlock had a case like that once."

"All I can say is, if Mr Holmes had a second family, I can't see Sherlock attending the funeral of any of them. Well, unless he'd killed the man himself."

"And you complain I have a morbid imagination," John protested. "Look, I'm sorry, I'm making too much of this. You get conspiratorial hanging around Sherlock. There's probably some entirely sensible explanation. Don't bother any more about it, Greg."

***

Greg

He'd had 'David Holmes' checked out, simply because John's instincts were good where Sherlock was concerned. But there was no trace of anyone of that name whose dates of birth and death fitted. He'd left it then, as one of the many puzzles about the Holmeses that no outsider could ever grasp. There were more urgent matters to deal with, like trying to ensure that Sherlock's attempts to prevent Prince William's wedding party being attacked didn't get someone killed. At least no-one royal enough to be missed.

Then the phone call from Melissa Smith came. Someone calling Mycroft at home, when he'd forgotten for once to leave the voicemail on. It rang and rang, till Lestrade ignored what Mycroft always told him about never answering his calls, and announced down the receiver:

"Mycroft Holmes' residence."

"Can I speak to Mr Holmes, please."

"I'm afraid he's not available," he replied, because 'he's currently preventing the Greek army from mutinying' would come under the heading of 'too much information'.

"Can you ask him to phone Melissa Smith, please, as soon as he's free?" She gave him a Manchester number. She sounded middle-aged, upper middle class, and harmless.

He'd told Mycroft when he'd got back and Mycroft had simply raised his eyebrows and sighed. "Sherlock must have given her my number. How tedious." Lestrade didn't say anything. He knew better than to do that when Mycroft was in one of those kind of moods. He kept on overhearing snatches of Mycroft's voicemail in the next few weeks, as he often did, and far too often there was a polite, but determined voice asking Mycroft please to call her back. When it had been nearly a month, he finally asked, "Have you got a stalker?"

"Ms Smith?" said Mycroft. "No, she's a nuisance, but not a stalker. Just an old acquaintance who should definitely be forgot. I'll arrange for my calls to be screened for a while, that should deter her."

And then the call had come through to Scotland Yard.

"Good afternoon," someone said, in the kind of refined and non-panicked voice that he didn't often hear in his callers. "Am I speaking to Gregory Lestrade?"

"Speaking."

"My name's Melissa Smith. You're the...partner of Mycroft Holmes, I believe."

"Yes," said Lestrade, wondering how far he should let this get before putting the phone down.

"I need to talk to him, urgently."

"I'm afraid he doesn't want to talk to you."

"Then please just ask him to tell me where David Smith's ashes were scattered." The line went dead.

***

"Who's David Smith?" he'd asked Mycroft that evening. "The late David Smith. I got a phone call from that woman Melissa Smith this afternoon, asking about him."

"Maybe she needs to have it explained more clearly that she should leave us alone," Mycroft replied. "Though I hoped I had made my lack of interest sufficiently obvious."

"She said she just wants to know where David Smith's ashes are scattered. Her husband, son-"

"Brother, as it happens. But it's far, far too late for her to show any interest in that."

"What is all this about?"

"The past." Mycroft's voice was cold, dismissive. "The long-dead past. And destined, Greg, to stay well and truly buried."

***

"So apart from the raspberry meringue fiasco," John told him when they met at the pub the week after, "the other big news is that Sherlock may have got himself another stalker."

"What is it about him? And what's this one doing?"

"Phoning him all the time. Her name's Melissa Smith."

"She's after Sherlock now?"

"Have you come across her, then?"

"Yes. Did you hear what she wanted to ask Sherlock?"

"I took the call once. She wanted to know about her dead brother. Where his ashes had been scattered."

***

Even put together, they wouldn't claim to be geniuses, so it took them five times as long as Sherlock would have needed for the next bit to twig.

"Can't be anything to do with the Service," Lestrade said at last.

"Why not?" said John, who was on his third pint, which was probably not helping his thought processes.

"Because if it was someone connected to Mycroft's work, they either wouldn't know about Sherlock at all, or they'd know enough to realise that Sherlock's not going to be helpful."

"She might have thought Sherlock would tell her something to spite Mycroft," John pointed out.

"But it was Sherlock who gave her Mycroft's private number in the first place. He did that, but he obviously doesn't want to give her any more information. Has he said anything about who David Smith is?"

"No. When I asked, he told me to ask Mycroft. They're a bloody nuisance aren't they, the Holmeses?"

"Yes. So it's someone who knows, knew, both Mycroft and Sherlock, and a long time ago. Which means... oh, sod it."

"What's up?"

"She didn't get anything from Mycroft, so she moved onto me, and then onto Sherlock. Who's she going to think of trying next?"

"Mrs Holmes, of course. Will she be able to trace her?" asked John.

"Well if she knows her first name, 'Elvira Holmes' isn't exactly hard to track down via the net, is she? We'd better get into contact with her, warn her."

"You'd better get into contact with her," John said, finishing up his pint. "Elvira doesn't like me."

Elvira

Samantha Hart had once asked Elvira whether she didn't find it odd about both her sons having turned out the way they did. In fact, not just odd, but rather queer? She'd replied by saying that at least her sons didn't need to keep the Marie Stopes number handy at all for times for their au pairs.

She could hardly claim to want grandchildren, after the way she'd reacted to becoming a great aunt, so it was no major hardship having sons-in-law, rather than daughters-in-law, to boss. She did wish that darling Sherlock had ended up with someone more entertaining than his boring little soldier. Whereas Mycroft...who would have imagined that dear, dreary Mycroft would have found himself someone like Gregory? It was good to see that he'd inherited her taste in men.

And Gregory was coming along to see her this afternoon. Without Mycroft. Which meant that she could flirt quite a lot more outrageously than normal. Gregory might be gay – such a waste – but he didn't seem to mind.

Except Gregory, when he turned up, started being awfully tedious and wanted to know about David Smith, of all ridiculous things.

"Hasn't Mycroft told you?" she announced, once she'd poured him his tea – he got the decent china, of course. "That's very naughty of him."

"No, he hasn't told me," he replied. "Which is why I'm asking you."

"Oh, but I'm not sure I should tell you," she said, gazing sweetly at him. She wondered how long she should take to be persuaded.

"I don't have time for this," he'd said abruptly. "Look, Elvira, I've very fond of you, but can you please not be childish? There's something serious going on, and I want to know what it is, before it blows up in my face. So who is, was, David Smith?"

He looked cross enough to storm off, so she thought she should indulge him.

"Mycroft's late husband," she announced, smiling.

"What? You're joking!" he said, and then suddenly added. "You must be joking, I know you must. Civil partnerships only came in in 2005. I knew Mycroft by then. He can't have...surely not?"

"Oh, it was far longer ago," she said, "Twenty years or so, I suppose. It hardly seems important any more. Though Mycroft still wears David's ring, doesn't he?"

"You mean the ring on his right hand? Yeah. He told me once he wore it in memory of a friend. I guessed it was a boyfriend, partner who'd died. Didn't like to ask more, thought it might be too painful. I had some pretty rough times myself some years back, a lot of my friends dying young." He was frowning again. She wished he wouldn't, when he had such a nice smile.

"It was his wedding ring. From his first wedding, I mean."

"But that's impossible," he replied. "Literally impossible. They didn't have same-sex marriage twenty years ago, or anything like it. The first country to introduce it was Holland, and that wasn't till 2001."

"If you say so, dear. It's all in the past now." She didn't know sometimes why they called themselves 'gay', they didn't seem to her to have much gaiety.

"Yes, well, it's not, is it? Not for Melissa Smith, anyhow. So, please, Elvira, can you tell me what you know about David Smith?"

***

She couldn't find any photos of David, which was irritating, but she did still have a copy of the beautiful little chalk drawing of him that someone had done in his first year at college. She could quite see why Mycroft had fallen for him. As Gregory looked at it, she found herself wondering what he had looked at that age. Probably just as glamorous, though perhaps not as polished.

"They met at Oxford then?" said Gregory.

"Yes, and it all happened terribly quickly. They were swearing eternal love for one another by the time they came back from their first summer holiday together in Corinth. I suppose one shouldn't be surprised. David was a classicist, and they tend to be like that, I find."

"And what happened then?"

"Well, I presumed it wouldn't last, they'd just grow out of it, but they were terribly serious. In fact, it was just after David's Finals that they got sort of married, which was ridiculously young."

"How do you get sort of married?"

"It was David, of course. He'd found out about some kind of Eastern Orthodox rite of brotherhood, very strange, and somehow persuaded some obscure Serbian priest to use that as a marriage ceremony. You've never seen anything as ludicrous as Mycroft in a wedding crown. Of course, it didn't have any official standing, but it mattered so much to David. He even wanted to change his name by deed poll, but Mycroft wouldn't have that, said the Foreign Office would object."

"David was going to change his name...to David Holmes," Gregory said slowly, as if something had just occurred to him. "But why did the Foreign Office get involved?"

"Because they'd both joined that just after university. Only then there was some ghastly row."

"With the FCO?"

"Yes. I'd always thought they'd be more civilised than that."

"What was the row about?"

She always got a slight thrill when Gregory started interrogating her like this.

"Oh, it was terribly boring, I can't remember. Pensions, or something. And it ended up with Mycroft saying that the FO were a load of bigots, and he somehow got moved sideways into some department that didn't care so much about those things. And he's stayed there ever since. I've never quite understood exactly what he does, though I've always wished he had a little more ambition."

"He's done pretty well for himself."

"Has he? I thought David would make a splendid ambassador, when he'd grown up a bit, and wasn't quite so earnest. But it didn't work like that. The Libyans got him."

"He was killed in Libya?" She'd really got Gregory's attention now, hadn't she?

"No, but they got him. Or possibly the Algerians. Blew up his plane. Mycroft was furious. Well, I was too. But as I say, it was all a long time ago."

"So what happened to his body?"

"I don't know. I think he was cremated. There wasn't that much of him left, unfortunately. I just remember they had the service in some frightfully obscure place in Sussex, and there was a terrible row about something, and the whole Smith family never spoke to us ever again. Not that it was any loss, frankly. David's mother bred cats, and I think his father was a solicitor. Or possibly in the Inland Revenue. I really can't remember."

"Can you remember where David's ashes were scattered?"

"I'm not even sure they were ever scattered. For all I know, Mycroft still has them tucked away in a filing cabinet somewhere. Though I do hope he didn't let Sherlock anywhere near them."

"OK," Gregory said. He had his resigned look on - he tended to wear that one quite a lot, he needed to relax more. "You don't know where he was buried, but he died in, what, 1989?"

"About then, I think. I can't remember exactly. And I'm almost sure it was the Libyans. Somebody Middle Eastern, anyhow. Will you be able to trace him just from that?"

"I'm not sure I can, but I'd lay good odds on Anthea being able to."

***

Anthea

She liked DI Lestrade, but there were limits.

"Can you help me on this, please, Anthea? I need to find out all I can about this guy, and you'll have access to files I can't get at."

"Inspector, you're not my boss. So if you have any requests, I suggest you channel them through Mr Holmes. OK?"

"This isn't work. This is something to fill your free time with. And I know you have lots of free time."

"Oh yeah. But why do you think I should spend my leisure time dealing with your problems?"

"Because the bloke I want to find out about was once not quite married to your boss."

***

She'd had to be extra careful that Mycroft wasn't alerted, but what she found was fascinating, if a little alarming. Mycroft and David had technically been breaking the law for much of the time they'd been together, since they'd both been under 21. She wondered why the FCO hadn't picked up on that. Maybe Mycroft had had the right connections to get away with it. But they wouldn't have had much of a life if they'd both stayed in the diplomatic service, would they? Hard enough to get postings together, let alone to maintain the discretion they'd have needed in a queer-bashing world.

She suspected it was David who'd been so keen on being a diplomat, longed to find a corner of a foreign field that would be technically British. Mycroft, at the first opportunity, had disappeared into a post with a title so suspiciously vague it was almost certainly part of the Service in some way. He hadn't gone with David when he'd gone off for his first overseas posting to Chad. And why on earth Chad? Was David so desperate for exoticism, or had that already been a sign that the FCO weren't keen on him? The people she'd spoken to very discretely who had known him at college all talked of his potential, but she wasn't convinced there had really been much more to him than a pretty face, and a talent for writing hexameters.

She wondered if it would have worked out between them long-term. It was hard for anyone to cope with Mycroft, though Lestrade seemed to be managing quite well. That reminded her. She'd better make sure she updated him on what she'd found.

***

"His plane really got blown up?" Lestrade had said. "I thought Elvira must be making that bit up."

"September 1989. A flight from the Republic of Congo to Paris via Chad was blown up by the Libyans over the Sahara Desert. 170 people died. David Smith was one of them."

"Was he the target?"

"No, the Libyans were annoyed with the French government, it was aimed at them. It was a second Lockerbie, really, only on a slightly smaller scale. And not many Americans or British, so it didn't have the same impact in the news."

"Bloody awful way to go," Lestrade replied.

"Quick."

He grimaced. "Thanks for finding out, anyhow. Did you get anything more recent on David's family?"

"Father's retired, living in Worthing, mother died of heart problems last year, after a long illness. David had one sister, Melissa, three years older than him. She lives in Manchester, recently divorced. Might have been because her husband was fed up with her spending all her weekends down with her mother, but I suspect the real problem was one swimming instructor too many. I wouldn't trust a man in his forties who says he needs to improve his breast stroke."

Lestrade was standing there trying not to call her heartless, she could tell. She didn't see why it was news to him that middle-aged men went for twenty-something women rather than their wives. Well, perhaps because he didn't.

"So Melissa Smith's being having a tough time," Lestrade said slowly. "Might explain why she's getting in touch with Mycroft. Which brings us to the tricky bit. We've tracked David Smith's life, but what about his afterlife?"

"That's easy," she replied, smiling. "I know that bit now. Each year. Mycroft goes down to Wakehurst Place. It's a garden in Sussex, an outpost of Kew Gardens. I knew it was an anniversary, I just didn't know of what before. May 8th, David Smith's birthday. And David's parents lived in Sussex, so Mycroft and David could well have visited Wakehurst Place in their vacations. If you like, I can check with the management of the garden, see if they have records about ash scattering there."

"No, we've got enough information for the moment. Thanks, Anthea."

"You know I'm going to tell Mycroft what you've been doing, don't you?" she said, because he deserved a warning at least. "It's my duty to."

"No you're not," he replied. "Because I'm going to tell him myself now. Whatever Mycroft might do, I don't like keeping secrets from him. I just wanted to know what I was getting myself into first."

***

"I gather that Greg has been investigating the Melissa Smith situation, with your assistance," Mycroft announced a couple of days later. "Under the circumstances, I think..." He paused, and then added: "The thing is, Greg feels rather strongly that I need to meet her, get this matter straightened out once and for all. I presume you have contact information for her."

She nodded.

"If you arrange for us to meet at Wakehurst Place, that would probably be most appropriate."

"Are you sure this is a good move, sir?"

"Greg seems to think it may bring some kind of reconciliation, or closure at least. I suppose I owe that much to the blasted woman."

"Will you be OK? Should DI Lestrade be going with you, as support?"

"I think better not, it might...complicate matters."

"I don't like you going there on your own."

"I hardly think she's going to be dangerous, Anthea."

"No, but it could be unpleasant," she said. He wasn't good in situations like that. 'Emotional legwork', he'd called it once. "I could come," she added, slightly reluctantly, because she didn't enjoy that kind of encounter either, the messiness of it.

"I, I'm not sure." That was something you rarely heard from Mycroft. "I'll have to think about it before I meet Melissa."

Melissa

She'd been told she would be met at Haywards Heath station, and she'd tried to remember what Mycroft looked like, beyond a vague memory of talk and dark and chunky. But it hadn't been him meeting her, but a small, anonymous, middle-aged man.

"I'm John," he said, as they got in the car. "A colleague of Mycroft's. We'll meet Mycroft in the gardens. That is, if you decide you do still want to meet him. Otherwise, I've been told where your brother's ashes were scattered, and I can take you there myself."

She still wasn't sure what to do when they got to Wakehurst Place.

"We could get some coffee, and then go and sit by the lake," the man said. "It's very peaceful there, and there's no hurry."

He was right about how calm it was by the lake; even the ducks were half-asleep in the sun. But she did start to feel guilty after a while, just sitting there.

"I hope you're not getting bored," she said, to the man sitting silently beside her. "And I'm sure Mr Holmes is a very busy man."

"He can wait. It's important to get this right, after so long."

"It's more than twenty years," she said abruptly. "David's been dead for over twenty years."

"Yes."

"I didn't know he was here. I should have asked, but Steve said it didn't matter where he was, and why did I still think of him? He said there was nothing left of him, anyhow."

"Who's Steve?"

"My husband, ex-husband. He never did get on with David. And he said it would upset Mum if I tried to contact Mr Holmes. But Mum's dead and she's got a grave, and David was just blown to smithereens in the desert, and it's not fair!"

"It never is."

"He was 23. Only 23!"

"It's always worse when people die that young," the man, John, said, and she noticed him for the first time. That he was fair-haired, but going a bit grey, and he looked tired, but friendly, warm. "I was out in Afghanistan for a while, and when you see nineteen-year-olds dying, you just want to sit there and howl."

"Is Mike still a spy?" she asked. "Is that why you were in Afghanistan?"

"Mike?"

"I'm sorry," she said. "Mycroft always hated it when I called him Mike and teased him about being a spy. But he was, is, isn't he?"

"Mycroft wasn't in Afghanistan," he said. "And I was an army doctor then, not in Intelligence. But yes, Mycroft's still involved with the Security Service, has been for many years."

"That's what Mum said. That's why she was so angry with him."

"Because Mycroft was doing intelligence work?"

"Yes, and he didn't stop the terrorists. He didn't warn David about the bomb."

"He would have been very junior then, not at a level to know that kind of thing. And you can't always. . . It's very hard to stop terrorists. But sometimes he manages it."

"He does?"

"A bit over a year ago I was nearly killed by a bomber. Mycroft's men saved my life, and probably a lot of other people's as well. He does good work. I know it won't bring David back, but maybe, thanks to Mycroft, there are fewer planes exploding than there would be."

"And he's married now, isn't he?" she said. "Properly married. I looked up the certificate. He's married to a policeman called Gregory."

"Yeah. They got married at the end of last year."

"That's wonderful," she said. "Being married. Well, if it works, it's wonderful."

"I think this will," John replied. "They're...they're good men, both of them. And Greg's very loyal."

"David and Mycroft would have been coming up to their silver jubilee," she said. "They got married a week after Mycroft was 21. Not married, I mean. But it mattered so much to David."

"Mycroft still wears his ring, as well as Greg's. On the other hand, though."

"I think the right hand was something to do with the Orthodox bit. Steve was so angry about that. We were engaged, you see. And he said...he said all kinds of horrible things, that David and Mycroft were just pretending to be married, it wasn't real, it couldn't be. And then David died, and there was this awful row at the funeral."

"What happened?"

"The vicar called him David Holmes, because that was what he wanted, that was who he thought of himself as. That he belonged to Mycroft in every way. But Steve refused to stay because of that, and Mum was crying so much. And it was a lovely service; they had this choir from Oxford, and someone read this poem about David and Jonathan, and, and..." She was starting to cry now.

"It must have been very moving," John said, and then he handed her some tissues. She wondered if he was used to this kind of thing.

"I, I don't know if Mycroft has any other mementos of David," he went on, as she sobbed. "But I'm sure we could arrange copies of photos or anything else if you'd like them. If it would help."

"I'm sorry," she got out eventually.

"It's fine."

"It was so long ago."

"It still hurts. Never quite stops hurting, I expect."

"I want to go and see Mycroft," she said suddenly.

"That's good."

"But I don't know what to say."

"I don't think he does, either," said John. "But it doesn't really matter. It's enough you're both here, with David. We'll need to walk back a bit, it's Bethlehem Wood, near where we parked."

She'd stopped crying by now, but she wasn't sure for how long.

"Can I...is it OK if I go on my own?" she asked, after they'd walked for a while.

"Of course," John replied. "Follow that path off to your left. I'll wait down by the car. Do you need any more tissues?" She hadn't known spies were like this.

She took the packet he offered her, and headed towards the wood. It had a special collection of birch trees, she'd read that in the guide. And they had bluebells in the spring, but they'd be over now. She wondered if they'd been out on David's birthday. Then she saw Mycroft.

He was an incongruous sight, sitting on a bench in his smart suit, with a bit of mud on his polished shoes. He was thinner than she remembered, and he was losing his hair, but she knew him at once. How could she have forgotten that beak of a nose? He looked up as she came towards him, and she realised that there were probably lots of middle-aged women in sensible shoes walking through the gardens today, and he might not recognise her.

"Excuse me," he said, standing up when she got close. "You're not, by any chance..." He ground to a halt.

"Yes," she said, holding out her hand. "I'm Melissa. David Holmes' sister."




Notes: the idea of the wedding ceremony was inspired by John Boswell's research on Byzantine rituals. The poem at David's funeral is Helen Waddell's translation of a Latin poem by Peter Abelard.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
fengirl88
Mar. 3rd, 2011 09:13 am (UTC)
I loved this - the construction, the details, the poignancy of it. and so much kindness and care amongst the characters - just lovely.

outlaws indeed.

I was thinking about David and Jonathan from an early stage but I didn't know that poem.
marysutherland
Mar. 3rd, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
When I was starting working with the idea of these double slash fics (S/J and M/L) it dawned on me that both John and Lestrade are naturally team players, so if they're not competing over Sherlock, their instinct would be not only to be friendly, but to co-operate and help one another out. Linking the David to David and Jonathan only came very late - it just seemed a nice ordinary name for someone to have.

All this started, of course, with your fic 'Quiet Storm', which inspired Bloom84's 'Some Things He Doesn't Need to Know' and then 'The Instigator'. And some of the Eighties stuff from 'Quiet Storm' is now bleeding into the back-story of this Mystrade fic, and a possible follow-up. In particular, I'm haunted by the possibility that if Lestrade was born in 1963 (as Rupert Graves is) and has been out for most of his adult life, that he'd have been in his early 20s at the height of the UK AIDS epidemic, and probably seen a lot of his friends die in that. And that maybe that is part of the reason for his resilience - that nothing subsequently can ever be as bad. (I'd be interested to know if that was a part of his back-story that you had imagined as well).

fengirl88
Mar. 8th, 2011 09:42 am (UTC)
although I know it must be part of Lestrade's story, it's not a part I had thought about much at all - in The Old Bad Songs I was looking further back, to young and illegal Lestrade in the pre-AIDS era, and I think the immediate memory in Quiet Storm is before the height of the epidemic. but you're right that it explains a lot about him.
irisbleufic
Mar. 3rd, 2011 12:00 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, now I want to see the original text of Abelard's poem; I never knew he'd written such a thing!

This is quietly moving in the best of ways <3
marysutherland
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
Abelard's poem
Glad you enjoyed the fic - I wanted to keep it quite quiet and restrained. As for the poem, it took a bit of hunting, but I've finally been able to dig the full text out. Helen Waddell quite often took only part of a poem and translated that, and here she's just done a short section from near the end. In many ways it's a completely different poem from the original, because you can't get the effect of those very short Latin rhyming lines in English, but some of her translations have stuck in my mind ever since I first read them aged 18, so they have their own potency.

Planctus David super Saul et Ionatha [Text from Lorenz Weinrich, 'Peter Abaelard as Musician II', Musical Quarterly (1969) LV (4): 464-486, which also includes one version of the music. There are also some performances of this on the net. I've put the bits Waddell translated in italics]

Dolorum solatium,
laborum remedium
mea michi cithara
nunc, quo maior dolor est
iustiorque meror est,
plus est necessaria.

Strages magna populi,
regis mors et filii,
hostium victoria,
ducum desolatio,
vulgi desperatio
luctu replent omnia.

Amalech invaluit,
Israhel dum corruit;
infidelis iubilat
Philistea,
dum lamentis macerat
se Iudea.

Insultat fidelibus
infidelis populus.
In honorem maximum
plebs adversa,
in derisum omnium
fit divina.

Insultantes inquiunt:
Ecce, de quo garriunt,
qualiter hos prodidit
deus suus,
dum a multis occidit
dis prostratus.

Quem primum his prebuit,
victus rex occubuit.
Talis est electio
dei sui,
talis consecratio
vatis magni.

Saul regum fortissime,
virtus invicta Ionathe,
qui vos nequivit vincere,
permissus est occidere.
Quasi non esset oleo
consecratus dominico,
sceleste manus gladio
iugulatur in prelio.

Plus fratre michi, Ionatha,
in una mecum anima,
que peccata, que scelera
nostra sciderunt viscera.
Expertes montes Gelboe
roris sitis et pluvie,
nec agrorum primicie
vestro succrescant incole.

Ve, ve tibi, madida
tellus cede regia,
qua et te, mi Ionatha,
manus stravit impia!
Ubi christus domini
Israhelque incliti
morte miserabili
sunt cum suis perditi.

Planctum, Sion filie,
super Saul sumite,
largo cuius munere
vos ornabant purpure.
Tu michi, mi Ionatha,
flendus super omnia;
inter cuncta gaudia
perpes erit lacrima.

Heu cur consilio
adquievi pessimo,
ut tibi presidio
non essem in prelio,
vel confossus pariter
morerer feliciter,
cum, quid amor faciat,
maius hoc non habeat,
et me post te vivere
mori sit assidue,
nec ad vitam anima
satis sit dimidia.

Vicem amicicie
vel unam me reddere
oportebat tempore
summe tune angustie,
triumphi participem
vel ruine comitem,
ut te vel eriperem
vel tecum occumberem,
vitam pro te finiens,
quam salvasti tociens,
ut et mors nos iungeret
magis quam disiungeret.


Infausta victoria
potitus interea
quam vana quam brevia
hinc percepi gaudia!
Quam cito durissimus
est secutus nuntius,
quern in suam animam
locutum superbiam,
mortuis, quos nuntiat,
illata mors aggregat,
ut doloris nuntius
doloris sit socius.

[She also translates an end section that not all the manuscripts have:

Do quietem fidibus:
vellem, ut et planctibus
sic possem et fletibus:
laesis pulsu manibus,
raucis planctu vocibus
deficit et spiritus.

2ndskin
Mar. 3rd, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
So lovely. You've taken this to such a tender, but never too sentimental place here, I think. John and Lestrade are very much themselves--the good, practical men--making things right. The Mycroft/Lestrade relationship in the background is so mature and solid. The peek at Sherlock--withdrawn from the emotions, but decent enough to offer a little help to Melissa. And the portrait of Elvira is wonderful--her complicated relationship with Mycroft (not the favorite, clearly). You make her a really well-rounded character--very clearly sharing some Sherlock DNA. But what struck me on first reading, and again this time--Mycroft choosing John to help him and John coming through so perfectly. His little conversation at the end brought the whole thing to another level, I think. And even though Mycroft is his usual In-character circumspect self here--your explanation of the relationship and the rings--very nice--gave him a depth he's sometimes not allowed in fics. So glad to have the poem reference too! I really hope you're putting this over on brother_mine. The Mycroft devotees need it.
marysutherland
Mar. 3rd, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I deliberately wanted to keep this one gentle, but I think lurking in the background is a rather more troubled side of the Mycroft/Lestrade relationship that I am starting thinking about exploring. Mycroft's extreme secretiveness, perhaps a tendency to hold a grudge, to back away from conflicts, make him quite hard for Lestrade to deal with, beyond the very different social backgrounds. We've talked about how Mycroft might react to past Lestrade/Sherlock involvement (which is already hinted at in 'The Instigator'), so I think that would be interesting to play with.

As for Mycroft turning to John, I'd used the idea of him calling on John to deal with awkward encounters with distressed people before, in Holding out for a hero. But I also had in my mind that it might have been Lestrade suggesting John, that if Mycroft wouldn't let him come along, that he wanted to have someone he could trust giving Mycroft support in the 'emotional legwork'.
red_chapel
Mar. 3rd, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
Lovely story, well crafted. Thank you for sharing -- and for introducing me to the poem.
bwblack
Mar. 4th, 2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Sniffles! Really good job imparting the relationship through the eyes of people who weren't Mycroft but giving it enough weight. That's hard to do. I'm really impressed.
marysutherland
Mar. 4th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
I'm fascinated at the moment by partial viewpoints, of how characters don't and can't see the full picture of what's going on. And it just seemed appropriate to have Mycroft, whose life is made up of so many secrets, at the centre of this fic, but without ever being fully known.
shezan
Mar. 10th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)
This works so beautifully as a partial viewpoint. David & Mycroft make me think of Robert Byron, who was such an expert on Byzantine art & history. The reference to the UTA flight strikes a particular chord, because one of my best friend's fiancée was on it. Incidentally, the French investigative magistrate in charge was extremely good about regular briefings for families and relatives and even non-family members as my friend then was. (He's British, she was Italian) so I would expect the Smiths would have been part as well as Mycroft, even if he didn't have his own sources.)
marysutherland
Mar. 11th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC)
I hadn't, in fact, heard about the UTA flight before I wrote the story - I was just looking for a terrorist incident in the right time period. But once I came across it, it's somehow haunting - people disappearing into the desert like that, the terrible randomness of it. And you start to realise how quickly memories fade of even a large-scale attack like that, unless there happens to be a personal connection, as in your case.
lucybun
Mar. 4th, 2011 07:28 am (UTC)
This is a beautiful story, but that's not nearly a good enough word, really. The mystery was incredibly engaging. Your characterizations were spot-on. And it all feels so very real. I think this is my head canon now. This one is going in my mems. Thank you for this.
marysutherland
Mar. 4th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed this. I think I may go back to this Mystrade universe fairly soon, and Blooms84 is already riffing off some of the ideas, so there will be more to come.
warriorbot
Mar. 4th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
So very beautiful. I loved it all, but for some reason this line hooked me hard:

"You had to learn to feel the faint tremors when you associated with a Holmes. Because otherwise you'd never be able to escape the resulting avalanche."



marysutherland
Mar. 4th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
John's look of bemusement at being caught in the crossfire between Sherlock and Mycroft at the end of Pink is wonderful. So it's even more alarming to think that if you marry/partner one of the Holmes brothers, you also acquire the other one as a brother-in-law. It makes signing up for the French Foreign Legion seem a cushy option.
madder_badder
Mar. 4th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
This really is lovely. So many secrets, so many lies. And why DID Sherlock have that programme from the funeral? Hmmmm...
marysutherland
Mar. 6th, 2011 08:59 am (UTC)
I think secrets and lies come naturally with anything involving the Holmeses. I hadn't really worked out why Sherlock kept the order of service - I think I just presumed that like ACD!Sherlock, he tends to accumulate paperwork and never deal with it, and he'd somehow never ended up getting rid of this, mainly from inertia.
r34dinglight
Mar. 4th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
I really like stories that add something new to my headcanon, this piece does that in abundance.Logical details combined with in character voices dolloped onto new twists on setting makes this a total win!

Love that there seems a good chance for reconciliation between Mycroft and at least one members of David's family. In addition to providing a stellar closing line the image of them making peace gave me hope for so many I know who are still dealing with this kind of issue in RL.Thanks!
marysutherland
Mar. 6th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
Funerals can bring out the worst in people - I've never been able to patch up things (despite my efforts) with one relative after the way she behaved at my father's funeral. But I liked the thought not just of Melissa having the courage to do something so many years on, but Mycroft (with large amounts of prodding from Lestrade) being able to respond.
lawless523
Mar. 4th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
This is just lovely. I like the insight into all of them and the backstory you give Mycroft. And I don't generally find Mystrade that believable; they're so different classwise and in personality.
darthhellokitty
Mar. 5th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
This is really lovely - I can't add to what others have said already. A wonderful and very sweet story.
dominomino
Mar. 5th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
I love ths so much. When Melissa adressed herslef as David holmes's sister, I kind of wanted to cry. So much bittersweetness here, which is good and makes me want to re-read this right now.
nothing_to_say
Mar. 6th, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
I am not much of a Mycroft/anyone fic reader, but this story is really lovely in a sad way that I can't help but to add in another comment to say how much I enjoyed it. :)
rusty_armour
Mar. 12th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Sorry! Sorry! I actually read this a couple of days ago, but I'm only getting around to commenting now -- not because of the quality of the story (which is excellent) but because of PMS. *g* Anywaaaaaay, this is a very moving and finely-crafted story. I thought it was clever the way David's identity is slowly revealed as Lestrade manages to uncover more information about him. That scene with Mrs. Holmes is fabulous. I think it's great that she enjoys flirting with Lestrade and, yet, hasn't warmed towards John at all. I also enjoyed seeing Anthea get involved -- once Lestrade was able to convince her. I think it's interesting that despite what Sherlock claims, he's obviously protective of his brother and must have formed some kind of emotional attachment to David if he kept the order of service from the funeral. I also think it's touching that Anthea volunteered to go with Mycroft when he met Melissa, and that John actually acts as a kind of intermediary for Mycroft and Melissa.

I could (and probably should) say so much more because this not only works beautifully with blooms84's The Instigator but is a story that easily stands on its own.
marysutherland
Mar. 15th, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it - I've done a lot of stories from a single person's viewpoint, so it was interesting technically to try and do it from multiple viewpoints, while keeping them all connected together. It's probably my inner Wilkie Collins coming out. You always have to have one comically oblivious narrator in the Wilkie Collins style, and it was fun writing Elvira like that. As for Anthea, I see her as devoted to Mycroft, but not necessarily caring much about anyone else.

There's a further fic I'm currently writing that has a bit more of this story, and in that I have it being Lestrade who gets John to go with Mycroft to Wakehurst Place. A lot of the fics I'm writing at the moment have Mystrade and John/Sherlock, and I imagine John and Lestrade as collaborating together to survive and support the Holmes. (Though I haven't yet had the collaboration go quite so far as Blooms84's suggestion that they practice sex together!)
maigrey_star
Apr. 10th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
Beautiful story! I love the different POV's, I particular love Elvira's, not someone I would think when I hear Mummy but it worked so well.

Your John was marvelous and truly the perfect person for the "emotional legwork" with Melissa.

"The past." Mycroft's voice was cold, dismissive. "The long-dead past. And destined, Greg, to stay well and truly buried."

Greg is incredible loyal and very understanding, I'd have expect to be told by my spouse if they were married before but here he's almost dismissed and yet when he finds out he only thinks of Mycroft. Now that's a good marriage!

Thanks for such a lovely fic ♥
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