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JWP fic: In D Minor [gen] Watson, Mycroft

Title: In D Minor
Characters: John Watson, Mycroft Holmes
Length: 880 words
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes July Writing Prompt #10: Musical prompt: Chaconne for violin alone (J. S. Bach, Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004). Unbeta'd.
Summary: Sherlock playing the violin at all hours was nothing new. Sherlock playing for twelve hours straight, though, was a bit of a stretch.

The sound of the violin trailed off into silence. John turned over in his bed and breathed a sigh of relief. Sherlock playing the violin at all hours was nothing new. Sherlock playing for twelve hours straight, though, was a bit of a stretch. Sherlock had been off ever since his confrontation with Moriarty at the pool last week. He'd spent all day, every day staring at that bloody wall of evidence.

So when John asked, for the fourth time that afternoon, if Sherlock wanted some tea, and Sherlock turned to look at him, really looked at him for just a second before getting up and stumbling across the room for his violin, John had thought perhaps he'd finally come out the other side of things. And what emerged from the violin wasn't the scribbling, yowling mess Sherlock claimed helped him think; he started playing real music this time. Well, bits of it, anyway, stopping and starting, repeating some parts over and over before switching to another.

For the first few hours John had been relieved. Then it was annoying. John went out to get a bite to eat and brought some Vietnamese soup home for Sherlock. When Sherlock showed no sign of stopping, John called Lestrade, and met him for a drink down at the Red Lion. When he came back, Sherlock was still playing, and that's when John started to worry. Sherlock's hands were well-calloused, but this was extreme. John had demanded that Sherlock give it a break, before he injured himself. Sherlock gave no sign of hearing him, and John went to bed.

Now, hours later, Sherlock had finally stopped. John sat up in bed. Sherlock would need medical attention; his fingertips must be wrecked by now.

With a low, pained, vibrating note, the violin began again. This bit was familiar. In fact, they all were. It had taken John a while to realize it, but Sherlock had been playing the same song all day long.

John groaned and reached for his phone. Peering at the screen in the dark, he pulled up a contact that Sherlock had re-named, 'Do Not Answer'.

The phone rang four times before someone picked up. "Doctor Watson," Mycroft said, his usual plummy voice sleep-fogged. John felt a moment's satisfaction at interrupting someone else's sleep. "How may I be of assistance?"

"Sherlock's been playing the violin for twelve hours straight," John said. "Is that normal? Well, I mean, normal for him?"

There was a pause. "My brother took up the violin at the age of six. Rather late, actually, by some standards. He practiced obsessively from the ages of eight to ten. Mummy was very proud of his gift, but never pressured him. I believe that Sherlock was driven by the need to create music that matched the perfection of what he could hear in his own mind. At the age of ten he auditioned for a place at the Menuhin School. He had refused to attend any other lessons for a month before-hand, rehearsing his two audition pieces with a fanatical dedication."

There was a moment of silence. John heard some shuffling. Mycroft took a drink and swallowed.

"Sherlock's performance on the day was exquisite, but he made a minor technical error a few minutes into the second piece. He paused, then continued, visibly frustrated. Sherlock made three more errors, and then stopped entirely. The Director of Admissions told him to start again from the beginning. Sherlock replied, if he couldn't play it properly, there was no point in trying. And although I am aware that he has continued to play the violin, Sherlock has not, since that day, played anything other than those appalling screeches in my presence. May I ask, Doctor Watson, what my brother is playing?"

John had no idea what it was called, but he listened for a moment and then joined in, humming along with the song that he might never get out of his head again at this rate.

"Bach's Chaconne," Mycroft said softly. "It was Sherlock's second audition piece. You may not have had the opportunity to notice this about my brother, but he does not take well to failure."

"Right," John said. "I don't suppose he's had much chance to practice. I'd better take that violin away before he decides to smash it."

"That would be for the best," Mycroft agreed. "Is … there any chance you might leave the line open for a short time before you do?"

John hesitated, caught between the sorrow in Mycroft Holmes' voice and the knowledge that Sherlock didn't want his brother to hear his violin. Whether he was willing to play in front of John because he trusted him enough to be comfortable playing where John would hear, or because Sherlock didn't care what he thought of the music; it didn't matter.

"My apologies," Mycroft said smoothly, before John could answer. "I shouldn't have asked. Do feel free to call at any time, Doctor Watson."

"Night," John responded automatically as the phone disconnected. The violin stopped and then started again on the same bit, a little slower this time. John stood up and got dressed, preparing himself to do whatever it took to get that damned violin out of Sherlock's hands and get the man to bed.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:26 am (UTC)
Oh this was interesting! There's so many different and fascinating stories of what lurks beneath the surface of Sherlock's violin playing and you've just created another one. Thanks for writing and sharing this with us.
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading - and what a perfect icon!
Jul. 11th, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, very nice. I like how in so few words you still manage to touch on things in Sherlock's character and childhood and his relationship with Mycroft.
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's a tangled mess, isn't it?
Jul. 11th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea of a backstory to Sherlock and his violin!
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, donutsweeper!
Jul. 11th, 2013 02:08 pm (UTC)
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC)
Lovely dynamic between the brothers. Poor John wouldn't want to get caught in the middle of that mess.
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC)
Ooof, definitely not. Thanks for the comment, captain!
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
I like how you have Sherlock working through one perceived failure through the medium of a different, long-past failure.
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
*beams* I wasn't sure if that was coming through, and I am delighted that you picked up on it!
Jul. 11th, 2013 04:53 pm (UTC)
Oh yes! It comes through beautifully, IMO. :-D
Jul. 11th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
(sorry to make this comment as much as about Elementary as your piece, hope you don't mind) I was struck in reading your story by realizing how Joan Watson doesn't (yet?) have anyone to call who knows Holmes better than she does.

loved the "Do Not Answer" label for Mycroft's number, and a glimpse into what he's missed (both in terms of yearning and in terms of not being present) about his brother. And Watson getting a clearer view of both of them.
Jul. 11th, 2013 10:14 pm (UTC)
No problem! Yes, I think you're right about Joan. Even when she went looking for someone in Sherlock's life who could help, she couldn't find anyone.

Thanks so much for calling out the details that you liked best, I adore that type of comment.
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC)
I hope we see Alistair again, as well as Ms Hudson, both for their characters specifically and also for backstory purposes... and ITA re: details in comments.
Jul. 11th, 2013 07:28 pm (UTC)
That was incredibly well thought out. Loved the little bits we're learning and man to my fingers sympathy ache for Sherlock!
Jul. 11th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
That was incredibly well thought out.
Very generous, but since I wrote this in an hour, I think my Muse should get the credit, not me! Thanks, arwen!
Jul. 12th, 2013 10:29 am (UTC)
Oh! that was deliciously sad, and most intriguing the way you led is into thinking Sherlock was frustrated over a case when really he was frustrated at his ten year old self.

The Bach Partita no 2 is thought difficult enough by professional musicians, so Mycroft's comment about 'not taking well to failure' is truly justified!

A lovely, lovely piece; thank you.
Jul. 12th, 2013 11:09 am (UTC)
I would say that Sherlock is deeply frustrated by the case, which leads him into the other. It's a rather common problem with very bright kids. They can be brutally unforgiving of their own imperfections.

Thank you so much for the comment!
Jul. 13th, 2013 09:15 am (UTC)
Now I feel sorry for John, which is normal, sorry for Sherlock, which is almost as normal, and Mycroft, which is unusual, all at the same time.
Powerful fic, and very well done!
Jul. 15th, 2013 07:48 am (UTC)
I feel quite pleased with myself, to have made you feel for each of the characters. Thank you for the comment!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )