[fic] Fratres for Violin and Piano

Title: Fratres for Violin and Piano
Fandom: Sherlock
Word Count: 2622
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft Holmes, John Watson is just along for the ride
Warnings: Musical catfighting    
Summary: Every year, the Holmes boys pick a duet to play for Mummy. She'd always hoped it would help them get along better. This is, sadly, not the case, but John can see why she does it.
A/N: I was listening to Arvo Part's Fratres for Violin and Piano, and then I suddenly realized, duh, what "fratres" meant, and then, um. This happened.
 
Just imagine that duet ramped up to 11 for this. >XD;;;
 
--
 
John knew better than to even wonder why when the black car pulled up to him and Sherlock as they were walking home from the nice little Thai place that had just opened.

"Just get in the car," he said with a sigh when Sherlock made the sour lemon face he saved only for everything Mycroft related. Sherlock gave him the sour lemon face, and John gave Sherlock an exasperated look back. "Or would you rather go home and find him sitting in our living room? He's as good as picking locks as you are, remember?"

Sherlock heaved himself as dramatically as he could into the car, and John elected to get in like a normal human being.

He smiled at Anthea, who never looked up from her Blackberry, and then just sighed.

He wished he'd ordered that pint of Singha at the restaurant like he'd be thinking about, because it looked like it was going to be a very long night.

--

"Wait, where are we?" John said when the car stopped and the door opened.

Sherlock's foul temper had gotten worse and worse as they rode, and John had long since given up on either distracting him or talking to him, and just slumped into the seat, wondering where on earth they could be going that would make Sherlock look that much like a thundercloud.

John really had not been expecting them to pull up to a rather nice building of flats.

"We're at Mycroft's," Sherlock said, like every word tasted foul, and John's eyes went a little wide.

"You know the way," Anthea said to Sherlock, still not looking up from her phone. "And I wouldn't advise trying to make a break for it."

Sherlock didn't dignify that with a response, just slammed his door shut as hard as he could after he got out.

"Let's just get this over with," John said, and got Sherlock's teeth bared at him in response.

Oh yeah. Long night.

--

Mycroft's flat was...far less, well, everything, than John had been expecting. He'd been figuring Mycroft living in some giant stuffy mansion or something, not...a rather small, understated flat (albeit in a very posh neighborhood).
 
"I am rarely home, Dr Watson," Mycroft said to whatever expression John had on his face. "It is mainly a place to sleep and change clothes."
 
"And stuff your face," Sherlock said peevishly, glaring at Mycroft's kitchen. Mycroft's very nice kitchen. John felt both a stab of jealously over a tidy kitchen that wasn't doubling as a chemistry lab and a tension headache coming, and really wished he'd not been there when Mycroft's car had driven up.
 
A muscle in Mycroft's jaw tensed, the one that only seemed to do that when Sherlock was around.
 
"Shall we get this over with?" Mycroft said, and his voice was a practiced polite, but John could well enough hear the irritation under it.
 
"I don't have my--" Sherlock started, when there was a knock on the door.
 
"John, if you would be so kind," Mycroft said, and Sherlock looked affronted - John wasn't sure if it was at being interrupted or at Mycroft ordering John around (although John suspected it was more a territorial thing than anything - the only one who could order John around was Sherlock, or something, God only knew.)
 
"Yeah, sure," he said, giving up. He went over to the door, and a rather beefy man holding what looked like Sherlock's violin case was standing on the other side of the door.

John took it, feeling even more confused than he had been before he'd opened the door. He closed the door and went back into Mycroft's living room. Sherlock's eyes locked on the violin case and he whirled on Mycroft angrily.

"You--you let someone handle my violin!" he all but howled, clearly in a right strop, and John felt the urge to groan, because he knew that one was going to last. Sherlock in general didn't seem to grasp the concept of "ownership," but when he did, when it was something that he considered his, bloody wolves didn't have anything on Sherlock being territorial over it. Hell, honey badgers didn't have anything on Sherlock, so he could only imagine the snit fit Sherlock was going to throw over someone but him touching his violin.
 
"Yes, yes, someone touched your baby.  Someone who has played violin since he was five and knew to treat it with the proper respect, because they would calmly defenestrate someone who mishandled theirs.  Now, can we please get on with this so we can finish and you can leave? I do have matters to attend and little time."
 
Sherlock made a rude noise as he all but snatched the case out of John's hands, and John slumped into the (really rather nice) chair, wondering why he had also been dragged into this madness. They didn't exactly need him there, after all.
 
"We should only need to do this once or twice and then it will be fine for seeing Mummy," Mycroft said tightly, and that got John's attention.  What on earth--?
 
"Fine!" Sherlock groused, and took his bow out from the case and began to tighten it, grumbling about not understanding why she made them do this every year.

Wait, John thought. 'Mummy' what?
 
"Excellent," Mycroft said blandly, a perfect little politician's smile on his face, and Sherlock answered it with a snarl.
 
"Alas, this is not as nice as the one at home, but it will do for practice," Mycroft said to no one in particular, and lifted the dust case off an upright piano, and suddenly it all made sense.  Sort of.

Why am I here again...? John wondered.

Mycroft's hand lingered on the top of the piano for a moment and he sighed so slightly John almost wondered if he'd imagined it. "I so rarely have the time anymore," he said, directing it at John, for some reason.  "A grand piano would be wasted here and would take up space."
 
John had no idea how really to respond. As far as he was concerned, a piano was a piano was a piano (though the one Mycroft had looked like a rather nice one, actually), but then again, he wasn't any kind of musician. He could play iTunes, and that was about that.
 
"John, if you would be so kind as to turn the pages for me," Mycroft said. "I'll nod when the page needs to go."

And that was when John realised both why he'd been dragged into this madness and that presumption of demands being met was a family trait both brothers shared.
 
Sherlock let out a disgusted snort. "Too lazy to memorise it?"
 
"Even concert pianists have page turners for this piece, Sherlock. And I have been busy. It will be memorised before we play for Mummy, rest assured."
 
"Is that why you dumped this piece on me, so all you have to do is plunk a few chords, you lazy git?" Sherlock said angrily. "Can't even be arsed to sit on your arse now?"
 
"Unlike some of us running around the city playing games, some of us have jobs and responsibilities that must be attended do.  And come now Sherlock," Mycroft said, his voice suddenly going sweet and the smile he gave his brother was all teeth, "I know how you do so love showing off."
 
Sherlock's response was to grip his bow tightly, his knuckles going white for a moment, before he relaxed his hand and let it slip into bowing position, then he snapped, "John, turn the git's pages," and raised his bow. Then Sherlock began suddenly playing what almost seemed maniacal, barely even music and more a concentrated attack on the strings and jumping runs that were too broad and too fast to sound right.
 
Mycroft narrowed his eyes slightly at Sherlock, and John had no idea how to interpret that.
 
Sherlock went on, getting louder and angrier, and then Mycroft slammed his hands down on the keys and Sherlock stopped short. John had just enough time to wonder if they were about to get into a row when Sherlock plucked his strings dramatically and Mycroft thundered out another set of chords, and John realised it was part of the duet, that they were actually playing, which probably meant he ought to go over to turn the pages.

It was the whole reason he'd been dragged along, after all, and he figured he'd at least keep them from committing some kind of fratricide.
 
As Mycroft's part of the duet took over, the song became gentler, calmer, and Sherlock joined in with soft, floating pianissimo high notes, held out so long it took full strokes of the bow to complete them, and when Sherlock had the melody again, Sherlock closed his eyes and let the violin gently sing while Mycroft accompanied.
 
But wait, it wasn't quite accompanying anymore, John realised - the piano part was more prodding the violin along from behind it, moments of insistent loudness that made Sherlock keep to Mycroft's pace, and something about the way Mycroft was playing sounded really kind of, well, smug, about it and right around when John realised that, it was as if the music did, too, and Sherlock's violin part, and Sherlock, suddenly got what sounded like angry, back to the wild and frantic from before, with Mycroft's occasional chords more forceful.
 
It was like they were fighting for control of the music.  It was the damnedest thing John had ever seen or heard.
 
Then it turned...beautiful. The music stopped fighting, as if the two parts had finally found a way to let each other be, and then...they were back to fighting again, both of them playing forcefully and insistent on their part being louder; Mycroft's steadily thundered chords and Sherlock's leaps from low strings to high and grinding against multiple strings at once that managed to match and meld into each other for all they tried to outdo the other.

The music calmed down, less like an argument and more like getting along.

They both closed their eyes at the same time, and John knew they had no idea they had done it, especially since Sherlock turned away slightly, and Mycroft's eyes opened to look at the music again.

They were playing at a whisper now, playing soft, mournful notes in unison.  Sherlock's fingers were so far up on the fingerboard as he played the high notes his palm was brushing against the shoulder of the violin.  They played together now, quiet and restrained, eyes closed again.

Sherlock's bow hung in the air even after his last pizzicato notes died, and Mycroft left his fingers in place as his last, low note resonated out before slowly raising them.

There was a calm, tranquil silence, unlike anything John had ever seen around the two of them together.

Sherlock lowered his violin and bow, and Mycroft took his hands from the piano, and the moment was gone in the span of time it took for both their postures to change.

John felt its absence like an ache.

"Once more, then, shall we?" Mycroft said, looking at Sherlock cooly. "That should do it before we have to play for Mummy next week." He turned slightly to John and smiled politely. "Thank you for before. Please, feel free to sit and make yourself comfortable. I shan't need your page turning this time." There was a faintly self-satisfied tone in his voice that was so much like Sherlock's it was vaguely creepy. Sherlock and Mycroft were so unalike in almost every way personality-wise that little likenesses stood out all the more. Those were the times it really was clear that they were brothers, and that wasn't necessarily a good thing, given the traits they shared. "I've memorised it."

John gaped at him, but Sherlock snorted. "Hardly a challenge, that. It's what, three chords? Your laziness knows no bounds."
 
Mycroft ignored him. "Let's begin, then. And this time, if you would mind the dynamics? It is supposed to be pianissimo at the beginning. Not that uncouth, brash noise you began with," Mycroft said with a faint moue of distaste on his lips.

"I'll play it as I wish, Mycroft," Sherlock snapped, each word carefully spat out and articulated in the way Sherlock had when he was in a right strop, and John bit back the urge to groan or bang his head against something solid. "It's called 'interpretation' and 'artistic license'."

"Funny, I always thought what you did was called a 'temper tantrum'," Mycroft said with a slick smile, and Sherlock responded by sticking his violin under his chin and bearing down hard on the strings.

Mycroft retaliated by slamming his hands down harder on the keys when his entrance came, the sound resonating out longer than before because it seemed like Mycroft was all but stomping on the sustaining pedal.

John half expected Sherlock's string to break from the force of his pizzicato.

The end of the duet, however, was the same. That one moment of stillness and tranquility when the two of them managed to be completely on the same wavelength, before they broke it by being who they were.

John could understand why their mother would ask for this, every year.

"Are we done? Can I leave?" Sherlock snarled as he roughly opened his case.

Mycroft eyes flashed in annoyance before his smile came back. "Yes to both questions. Shall I have a car--?" he began, before Sherlock cut him off with a barked, "NO."

Sherlock packed his violin faster than normal, but with no less care, and slammed the case shut loudly. "John," he snapped, grabbing the case and stomping towards the front door.

"Yeah, uh, break a leg when you play for your mum," John said.

"JOHN!" Sherlock roared from the open door.

"Thank you," Mycroft said with a smile John almost thought was genuine. He nodded towards the door, and John quickly headed out after Sherlock before the man got himself hit by a car in his temper.

 --
  
Sherlock was all but stomping down the street, and John had to almost jog to keep up. Luckily, the walk seemed to do Sherlock good the further they got from Mycroft's flat and the closer to their own, and he slowed down, even as he kept grumbling occasionally under his breath.

It was a long walk, but a nice night, and John found himself thinking back to the duet they had played, and the stillness after the rage.
 
"What was the name of that piece you played?" John asked, when Sherlock was back to his normal pace and no longer gripping the handle of his violin case so tightly his knuckles were white. He was still in a snit, but the edge was definitely gone, and something about the way he held the case now made John think Sherlock wanted to play again.
 
"Arvo Part's 'Fratres for Violin and Piano'," Sherlock said, and John bit back a smile.
 
He'd had enough Latin to know what that one meant, and knew his Holmeses enough to know that yeah, that one fit - fit these brothers, at least.

"I'm making him play something by Schoenburg next year," Sherlock grumbled to himself.  "He hates Schoenburg."

John bit the inside of his cheek to stop from grinning.

--

Later that night, John went searching Youtube for Fratres, and not a single one he found had sounded anything like the musical fight the Holmes brothers had managed, and yeah, that sounded about right.

He closed the browser and pulled off his headphones and shook his head with a lopsided grin.  He'd stick with what he'd heard live, then.

He rather liked that the best.
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