Title: Of Fortune
Characters: Sherlock, Mycroft
Summary: Mycroft gives a lesson about fortune cookies.
Note: Written for delirainahope you had a very happy birthday! And many thanks to krazykoodles for beta reading/Britpicking. :)
Sherlock never went to West End to see a play for the play itself. In most cases, he tagged along with Mummy or Mycroft in attendance because he could not be trusted to be left at home, even with Mrs. Livingston watching him. (At the age of thirteen, he was, all things considered, the terrible two multiplied by six and a half.) He didn't really mind the whole theatre thing, though, because it was a prime opportunity to watch all different sorts of people and their secrets.
It was a wonderfully absorbing game, if somewhat socially inconvenient. Mummy would never hear of how the stately old lady in the upstairs box was wearing a fake heirloom emerald brooch, but at least Mycroft would. Sometimes his elder brother would even discuss the merits of his observations with him, leading Sherlock to question just how much time Mycroft actually did spend watching the play itself.
"Enough," was always the answer, said in a tone that was difficult to argue with.
Those conversations would take place in one of Mycroft's favourite restaurants in Chinatown, right off Leicester Square, because Sherlock always got hungry after a good round of people-watching at night. Sherlock didn't tell on his brother for eating his share of the dessert because 1) Mycroft was paying, and 2) he preferred the fortune cookies to rice pudding, so it really worked out for both parties involved. Sherlock enjoyed the crunchy texture of those cookies, the way they smashed against his teeth. And there were the little slips, the fortune sayings, like the one he was playing with at this moment.
"Your great attention to detail is both a blessing and a curse," he pronounced, eying the paper suspiciously. "Mycroft, don't tell me there are people who actually believe in this rubbish. Surely there must be limits to mass idiocy."
"Sherlock," Mycroft reached for the second serving of rice pudding. "Remember what Mummy said. No talking while you're chewing food in your mouth."
He grinned unrepentantly but finished chewing all the same, twirling the cheap little sliver of paper around his fingers. Mycroft was silent. A huge portrait of some Chinese man looked down on them from the otherwise sparse wall with a benevolent half-smile.
"The fellow doesn't look the restaurant type," said Sherlock.
"That's because he's not," Mycroft replied, raising a finger. "You are gazing upon the austere visage of none other than Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the first leader of Red China."
"Oh," he said, losing all interest. "I suppose they'll try to make me to remember all that in Winchester come September."
Mycroft gave him a look: "I find a certain degree of cultural knowledge to be exceedingly useful."
But of course Mycroft would. His brother was always the patient one who approached people, who didn't mind waiting for them, listening to them. Sherlock couldn't do it and in a way he was glad he didn't have to. He knew Mycroft did. Father had seen to that.
Something akin to sullenness must have shown up on his face, because Mycroft suddenly smiled and crooked his head slightly. In the next moment he produced a fountain pen and a small paper pad from his pockets, and then wrote something down in Winchester-trained Copperplate.
Sherlock, what do you make of that man in gray by the far side window?
He glanced at the man, took the pad and wrote in his decidedly non-Copperplate hand: Recently married, obviously. To a wealthy bride. Though he wore a brand-new Rolex, the man still only asked for a single dish and ordered tap water.
A nod. Her parents do not approve, as they believe he's after her money. And Mycroft pushed the paper back to him.
But the said paranoia is not quite justified in this case. Or he would not still be working the night shift at that Kowloon Food Factory from two blocks down. Sherlock had passed by there on one of Mycroft's Asian confectionery shopping excursions. A honeymoon soon. Probably Malaysia or Thailand. Maybe Southern China.
Southern China? The length of the question mark at the end indicated a certain degree of surprise. Sherlock grinned and turned to a new page.
I know he's not looking at that section of the travel ads, but it's possible, since he's from there and his parents most likely live there still.
Mycroft arched an eyebrow. Our happy groom has been living outside of China for many years.
Sherlock threw his brother a questioning look. Mycroft smiled and began on yet another page: He's eating his fortune cookie, which is in fact entirely foreign to the people in China. I have it on good authority that no 'real' Chinese person actually consumes them.
"I see," he said out loud and decided he wanted the rest of Mycroft's rice pudding, so he reached over and took it. "And if I may ask, what good authority might this be?"
"A jolly fellow named T. D. Lau. He sometimes sits right next to me in the JCR Pantry at Balliol."
Sherlock wrinkled his nose and scraped at the bottom of the dessert cup for one last half-spoon. "I see. What else did he tell you?"
"Aside from his heartbreaks and dreams? Plenty of things about Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Fascinating."
Sherlock hummed non-commitally and finished the food. He tried to draw a mental picture of the said T. D. Lau talking with his brother over a plate of eggs benedict, coming up short other than a distinct South Asian accent. He didn't like the bloke even without meeting him face to face, though that was hardly unusual for Sherlock.
"Oh, and one last thing about these little devils," Mycroft leaned back and waved towards the now-empty little plastic wrappings. "I can predict what's written in them. I figured it out."
If it was anybody else, he would have immediately countered with "you are lying", or at the very least "you can't expect me to believe that." But this was different. This was Mycroft.
So he only asked: "When?"
"Last year, Michaelmas."
Sherlock thought about it for a little while. "I have six years to figure it out for myself, then." It was an eminently useless skill, but the thrill was in the chase.
"I'd like to think, my dear boy," and Mycroft got out his wallet for the bill, "that you have all the time in the world."