Rasul Holmes was waiting by the front door for the return of his son. It was a shame that Mycroft would not be coming back, at least not that night, but one was better than nothing. They had been with that family too long already. He saw a car come into the drive and opened the electric gate just as it was about to approach, giving the impression of effortless timing. He knew how imposing the house could be, when you pushed it. A little boy got out of the car and approached the house, gripping a small suitcase with one hand and a teddy bear in the other. Rasul dealt with the social worker before she even entered the house, pouring out the lavish charm. As soon as the car had left, he turned to the boy.
"This is all your fault." He growled.
"I didn't mean to!" Sherlock was taken aback at the sudden change in demeanour.
"You told the doctor it was me, when Mycroft got hurt. I heard you tell that social worker when she asked."
"It was you." Sherlock pointed out, oblivious to the idea that he might sound rude. Before he knew it, his arm was stuck in his Father's vicelike grip.
"You little brat! You called the ambulance, didn't you! They told me it was a neighbour, but it was you! How many times have I told you not to speak to doctors? I should whip you for that!"
"Please, daddy, don't!" He shuddered and tried to pull away, gripping the bear harder.
"No. I won't." He took a deep, calming breath. "Not tonight, Sherlock. Go and say hello to your mother, and then straight to bed. I don't expect to see you until tomorrow."
"But it's not my bedtime!" Sherlock objected.
"Don't you talk back to me!"
"Yes Daddy, sorry Daddy." Sherlock ran away as soon as his arm was released and, rubbing it vigorously, he went to his mother's bedroom.
"Hello Sherlock" she said stiffly, without looking up from her mirror, carefully applying mascara.
"Hello Mummy.” Sherlock took a few seconds to observe her. She seemed to be applying about the sixth layer of make up to her face. She did that sometimes, just stared into the mirror. Sometimes she would apply make up for hours, sometimes, she’d just stare. These were odd phases, but not frightening ones. Sherlock was almost never afraid of Mummy.
"You cannot imagine the scandal we've had to go through, dear. Everyone thinking that Rasul abused Mycroft! How utterly ridiculous. I've never heard such rubbish. When we get him back though, it might be a different story. Your daddy is so cross with your brother, Sherlock. So am I, when it comes to it, spreading lies around about Rasul, wasting the council's time."
"I..." Sherlock didn't know how to respond. How much did Mummy know? He wasn't supposed to know anything, and Mycroft hated him talking about it. Maybe it would be better to change the subject. He remembered what Lizzie had said about being confident to say nice things to people "I missed you, Mummy."
"Don't be so pathetic, Sherlock, you were hardly away ten minutes." She laughed. Sherlock hung his head and gripped the bear even harder.
"Sorry Mummy" he said, ashamed.
"Go to your room, Sherlock. I'm tired tonight." She hadn't turned away from her mirror during the entire exchange, and she switched now to lipstick, pursing her lips and running the bright red lipstick around her mouth. The little boy standing behind her, desperately trying not to cry, suddenly needed to be held. So he put his arms around his mother. Her lipstick smeared across her cheek, and, for the first time, she turned. She jumped up, pushing her son away with a look of complete disgust. He landed on the floor on his butt. "What the HELL do you think you're doing!"
"I...I was just..."
"Get up, and stop stammering." She ordered, he scrambled to his feet.
"I'm sorry Mummy, I was just trying to-"
"You're going to be in so much trouble, you little worm."
"Please don't Mummy, I'm sorry!"
"Rasul!" She shouted Within seconds, he was standing in the doorway, smiling widely and shaking his head.
"What have you done wrong this time?"
"I-I-I t-tried t-to g-give m-m-m-mummy a h-hug"
"A hug?” Rasul stopped advancing on his son and frowned.
“Why?" The man looked genuinely confused.
"Because I was sad."
"What does that have to do with it?”
"Lizzie hugged me when I was sad. I wanted a hug.” Rasul rolled his eyes.
"Aw poor little baby Sherlock wants a hug?" He mocked, sticking out his bottom lip. "You're meant to be a Holmes, boy. We don't do hugs."
"I'm sorry Daddy" he whispered, still clutching the bear like a life raft, tears sprinting freely down his cheeks.
"Come with me to my study, Sherlock. I'm going to have to make sure you learn your lesson." Sherlock shuddered and stayed where he was. After a few seconds of Rasul standing in front of him, waiting for him to move, he lunged forward and grabbed his son by the ear. "Come, you insolent little boy!" He roared into the child's ear, pulling it towards him so that his toes were only just on the floor. Sherlock felt his ears ring, and a searing pain there as it was pulled upwards.
Rasul led his son by the ear down the stairs and into his study, where he promptly dropped him and let him fall onto the floor. The room was large, with a mahogany desk, red velvet curtains and upholstered chairs. A fire to the left of the window made the room a little stuffy and warm.
"I have been waiting to have you back for a while. Now that Mycroft's not here to save you, we can try to reverse some of the damage. You've been spoiled by your brother and that foster family. But I can fix that."
Rasul grabbed his son's chin roughly, and raised his hand. It began, as most of Mycroft's punishments did, with a slap. Sherlock’s neck snapped sideways with the force of the hit, the skin going red. The five year old burst into tears, his hand going to his cheek, trying not to fall over.
Rasul went bright red. He was not used to tears. Mycroft had stopped crying in front of him when he was four. It had been years since a child had cried when he was hitting them. He pushed his son square in the chest so the boy landed on his back on the floor. Rasul flipped him over with his foot and rested it on the small of his back. He reached to take off his belt. Sherlock shuddered, tears pouring down his scarlet cheeks. He had seen this happen to Mycroft, through cracks in doors, and he knew how painful it looked.