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The cracks in our foundation

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When Sherlock was little, he remembered how people always said fat people were friendly and jovial and how ironic he found that particular saying as Mycroft, at his heaviest, never was any of those two things.

Mycroft was actually a bit frightening and Sherlock resented the way he always made him feel so intimidated.

Mycroft nowadays still has too much softness on his body where Sherlock is hard and firm, but he isn’t as heavy physically anymore.
He is still intimidating though and there is always a threat of consequences around him that makes Sherlock want to push back in every way that he can when they see each other or if his brother’s name comes up on the screen of his phone.

It makes his skin itch and a knot forms inside of him with supressed feelings of conflicting emotions. It is shame combined with lust, the wish to rebel as well as succumb, everything he feels regarding his brother is always conflicting and that’s what makes it so difficult.

Other people are usually put in neat little boxes where Sherlock has categorised them and he behaves according to the label on the box. Usually it’s very simple as the labels almost always says they’re stupid and not worthy of his time. Mycroft does not have a box. It makes it difficult to know how to behave.

When Sherlock begins University, he at first wishes for Mycroft to be there.
He is used to the regulations his brother has made him. They spend so much time together that it becomes difficult to know how to act when he isn’t there.

They have sex and then Sherlock lies next to him, curled up in his brother’s bed at night while Mycroft sleeps heavily. There is mostly a hand placed on some body part of Sherlock’s, a claiming hand. If he was to remove it, there would be consequences.

But Sherlock can’t sleep with someone that close to him. His mind races all the time, searching for stimulation, anything but sleep, especially when there is another body next to him that he could explore, experiment on, calculate and estimate. He can count the freckles on his brother’s skin, time the duration between inhale and exhale, feel the texture of Mycroft's hair beneath his fingers.

He could also try infiltrating that great mind that is currently switched off and closed to the world. Because Mycroft is a person who, despite his heavy state of sleep, sooner or later always goes into dream mode. His face begins to twitch a little, you can tell that his eyes are fluttering behind the lids and sometimes he grabs a firmer hold of whatever body part he has put his hand on, intensifies the grip, the fingers strengthening their hold as if seeking reassurance and Sherlock tries to figure out what sort of pictures his brother is seeing inside his head at that moment. He has some idea when Mycroft’s calls his name in his sleep, always with fear combined with anger in his voice, afraid to lose hold of his grip.

When Sherlock asks him about it afterwards Mycroft says that he can’t remember but Sherlock can tell it’s lie, and he feels betrayed that his brother won’t tell him despite the fact that there are many things Mycroft doesn’t tell him.

They don’t really talk about the things that they perhaps should talk about. Sherlock isn’t sure that actually he wants to, he has grown used to the stipulations Mycroft has made him and it makes him feel safe for a little while.

It’s when circumstances change that everything goes to pieces.

Sherlock goes off to Uni and he doesn’t know how to behave at first because he doesn’t know how to live by the rules when Mycroft isn’t there to remind him of them. He has memories of being able to make his own decisions earlier in life and there is a longing of going back to that. He knows he could if he really wanted to, he was younger back then and still managed to do it, so it shouldn’t really be a problem now.

But somehow it is.

It’s like he has an invisible bond, a leash Mycroft has tethered him to, and he has forgotten how to be without it. Because he knows that he really isn’t as free as he might think.

Mycroft’s presence looms over him for the first couple of weeks and has an impact on everything he does, from the way he tackles his studies to the more mundane things like trying to sleep, eat and behave.

Those things have always been somewhat of a struggle for him. Food holds no interest to him, but he knows that it is important to Mycroft, more than important, it’s what nourishes him, makes him remain big and imposing. Mycroft delights in intake of food when Sherlock finds it more like a chore, it’s something that separates them in their daily life.

The same goes for sleep.
Mycroft is a heavy sleeper, he doesn’t wake up when Sherlock prods and touches his body, which is lucky because Sherlock would probably go mad if he couldn’t occupy his mind with investigations while he is forced to lie next to his brother at night.
Sherlock only sleeps when his body no longer can take the insomnia, when it comes to a crashing halt. But even then, he wakes easily and is just as restless in sleep as he is when awake.

Then there is the behaving part.
It has been ingrained in him since childhood that he is the one who doesn’t behave. Apparently that wasn’t a problem for him during his early years, even if Mycroft certainly threw his weight around even back then. He tried reigning his little brother in, but he was too young to pull it off, lacked the authority he later gained. He was just a fat kid with a stern-looking face, and he was never any fun.

There was always a lot of “Be careful!” “Don’t touch that!” “I’m telling mother!” with Mycroft and Sherlock did the opposite just to spite him sometimes, because he couldn’t understand this incessant wish to keep things in order when causing havoc could be so much more fun.

Then Mycroft grows out of his short-lived childhood phase and becomes this frightening presence instead, that Sherlock begins to fear a little bit as well as he also feels limited around Mycroft.

Mycroft is suddenly much bigger in every sense of the word and oozes confidence with every breath he takes. He is always right, he knows everything, and he constantly feels the need to lecture, inform, berate and dictate.

It is stifling and Sherlock tries to kick back but never has the tools to overpower him.

This is Mycroft at his heaviest and for a while Sherlock thinks that his brother’s power is contained in the flesh he is carrying, the larger he becomes, the more intimidating he is. But that is his younger version’s childish theory, the Sherlock of today knows that Mycroft doesn’t need any extra weight to intimidate anyone.
He controls all and every room he enters.

When Sherlock becomes a teenager, things shifts again in their relationship.
Mycroft is on the cusp of an adulthood he has mentally already entered, and he isn’t around as much anymore.

When they do meet, the air is charged with something new and hazardous.

When Sherlock, at sixteen eventually figures it out, he tries making his first true effort of switching the positions in their dynamic.
He figures that this new information he has gained will work in his favour, that he can now the be the one with all the power in his hands, but even if it initially feels like he does hold the reins for a little while, with Mycroft’s eyes growing soft and desperate when Sherlock kneels in front of him and unbuttons his trousers, that feeling doesn’t linger for long.

It is only in that first hesitant phase when Mycroft is terribly guilt-ridden about the whole thing and Sherlock is apparently “so young” “too innocent” and what they do is “awfully wrong” and “against every rule”, that Sherlock finally earns a little glimpse of what power can really feel like.

He can bring Mycroft to the verge of collapse, both physically and mentally and it feels great, it does things to his own body that hasn’t been experienced previously and he marvels at the simplicity of it all. If he had known how easily he could have mastered his brother, he would have done it earlier.

But it is delusional to think that such a dynamic can last.

Sherlock is too inexperienced with power plays while Mycroft does those things for a living. So, when the initial phase of guilt dies down, and Sherlock no longer is such an innocent ingenue that Mycroft has ruined by succumbing to his lustful desires, the balance switches back, and quite brutally at that.

Sherlock had perhaps grown a bit too cocky for his own good when he gained his new upper hand and of course he manages to fuck it all up by unleashing yet another unknown variable in his older brother’s personality when jealousy raises it’s ugly head and claims Mycroft by full force.

It wasn’t really Sherlock’s intention from the beginning but his actions still cause that result and with jealousy, anger comes close in tow and with anger unleashed, Mycroft takes back the control of their relationship.

After that, Mycroft doesn’t let go.

Sherlock grows used to how things are and acclimatizes himself to the new rules, they even make him feel comfortable for a while and he doesn’t know how to be without Mycroft’s restrictions until University happens and he slowly begins to thaw, like he has been preserved in ice for a very long time, and he tests his limits to see how far they reach.

It is daunting at first and he almost resents Mycroft for leaving him in limbo like this, he doesn’t know what do and how to make the uncertainness go away. Sherlock doesn’t like to feel uncertain; he needs restrictions, he needs to feel like he isn’t freefalling because that is what he used to feel when he was younger and back then Mycroft was always so displeased with everything he did.

But eventually, he begins to realise that Mycroft isn’t here anymore to throw judgement and accusations at him. He isn’t here to take care of him, control him, smother him. He isn’t there to fuck him either, hold him tight, caress him when his mind raises uncontrollably from all the stimuli it’s trying to process. Mycroft isn’t here period.

So Sherlock casts off the invisible shackles his brother has tethered him to. And then he makes a run for it.

He runs straight into the arms of Victor Trevor who is more than happy to close them around Sherlock’s tight body at night and in the beginning it’s even at bit exhilarating, this new person that he gets to explore, the other voice that doesn’t talk to him like Mycroft does. It’s not necessarily a good thing, it’s just different and as everything else is different in Sherlock life now, why not this as well?

Then Mycroft comes for a visit, in the middle of first term.

The leaves around the yard that Sherlock crosses to get to class has grown brown and crunch beneath his shoes as he runs over them, out of breath because he forgot about the time when he was with Victor and now, he’s late.

And yet, suddenly time stand still because he sees a familiar figure stepping out of the door in front of him, umbrella in hand against the threat of rain that constantly hovers over them in this intersection between autumn and winter, a grey wool coat to shield him from the cold, combined with expensive-looking gloves and a glint of anticipation in his steely blue eyes. Everything about Mycroft is steely these days and still Sherlock always manages to soften the corners of that silhouette a little bit, simply by being there.

And when he sees Mycroft, he feels something punch him straight in the solar plexus, he loses breath completely for a second, he can literary not breathe while he feels his legs come to a stuttering halt a few feet away from his brother.

All his newly acquired independence abandons him and he doesn’t know what to do because somewhere along the line, when he began rebuilding himself with Victor, he has forgotten the rules Mycroft has given him and he doesn’t know if he will be able to retrieve them from memory.

He decides to not tell Mycroft about Victor and for as long as Mycroft stays, which is the whole weekend, he avoids every place where they might risk running into him and he switches his phone off and he disappears into the world that consists of only him and Mycroft.

At first it feels comforting, like he has been thrown a life raft after having stayed in foreign waters for far too long. But soon enough this feeling dissipates, and he begins to resent Mycroft’s tone and condescending mannerism when he questions Sherlock about his studies, if he eats and sleeps as he should, if he has made any friends and so forth.

Sherlock can have friends if he chooses to, because they both know he is uncapable of it. The question is a mere formality, Mycroft doesn’t expect Sherlock to say yes.

For a second he contemplates if he should mention Victor, even if he hardly qualifies as a friend. Friends don’t sleep with each other or share the shower or run their hands through silky curls or planes of naked skin. Even Sherlock knows this despite his limited experience of friendships.

But then he decides against it. He doesn’t need to see Mycroft’s eyes go black.

The visit isn’t all bad. They have sex and Mycroft treats him to a concert in the new musical hall that Sherlock has not yet made the time or effort to seek out on his own. While listening to the music they sit in the dark and Mycroft lets his hand wander up his brother’s thigh, then unzips his own trousers and places Sherlock’s fingers against his crotch. In the interim they have sex in one of the bathroom stalls and Mycroft looks almost young when he steps out afterwards, a smile playing on his lips. A smile of contentment.

Sherlock smiles as well but feels a bit exhausted. He’s still looking for those rules inside his head that Mycroft has tried ingraining in him, but so far he has come up wanting.

When Mycroft leaves, there is a moment when he circles both of his little brother’s wrist with his firm hands and leans into him while he whispers:

“Don’t forget that your mine, Sherlock.”

It’s menacing despite the silkiness in the tone and Sherlock actually breaks free from the hold but refrains from saying anything scathing. It’s on the tip of his tongue, it feels familiar although he hasn’t done it in a long time, but nothing comes out and then Mycroft leaves.

“See you at Christmas,” he says while walking away and manages to make it sound more like a threat than a subject of joy. although it’s unclear if he really meant to do that.

Then he’s gone and Sherlock puts his phone back on and sees 22 missed calls from Victor as well as 17 texts. He deletes them and pretends that he does know Mycroft’s rules after all, that he only needed a reminder.

But then times goes by and Mycroft’s absence is again making it difficult for Sherlock to adjust to stipulations that seem fruitless when the originator isn’t there to make sure that he follows them. Victor is there though, and Mycroft isn’t, and Sherlock feels conflicted once more.

Things with Victor are light and effortless because he isn’t about mind games, he marvels at what Sherlock says, and thinks he is the smartest person he has ever met.

It’s a new experience and Sherlock allows himself to bask in the admiration. It is different from what Mycroft sees in him. Sherlock actually doesn’t now what his brother sees in him beyond the obvious feeling of possession, and that doesn’t really do anything for Sherlock does it?
Mycroft will always have the advantage of seven years, more experience and a sharper mind than him.
With Victor, Sherlock gets to feel superior.

By Christmas though, the novelty is threatening to fade because Victor is just an ordinary young man and doesn’t offer anything to stimulate Sherlock’s intelligence with.
He studies economy in his final year and likes to play football occasionally, prefers his chips without vinegar and opts for looking at the telly instead of reading books. He is slightly near-sighted but refuses to wear glasses, his hair parts to the left and he buys his underwear at Marks and Spencer. He has had many lovers before Sherlock, but no boyfriend. He used to party a lot during his first year at Uni but doesn’t do that anymore. He is an only child to a widower, makes friends easily but loses them again just as quickly without caring too much about what that says about him. As Sherlock is no expert, he doesn’t care either.

Victor has a scar on his left foot from a wound attained in early childhood, he has a few moles on his back and dark chest hair that is much coarser than Mycroft’s. He shaves in the evening instead of the morning and is allergic to eggs.
He once stole a bicycle and then dumped it in a brook when he was done with it, the reasons for the theft are still unclear though and that bit actually bothers Sherlock more than the actual theft itself.
He can speak a little French and kissed his first girl at thirteen, has a subscription to World Soccer Magazine despite never doing more than quickly paging through it and he is hopeless at chess but can manage acceptably at scrabble.

Most importantly, he doesn’t have any rules and he thinks Sherlock’s “quirks” as he calls them, are adorable. No one has ever liked Sherlock for his faults and the feeling is quite invigorating.

When the first snow falls in December and there are three weeks left until Christmas break, Sherlock begins to feel restless though. Because he now knows everything there is to know about Victor Trevor and shouldn’t there be something more to it?

That’s when he’s first introduced to drugs and his whole world blows up in a crescendo of stimulating sensations, more so than he ever could have hoped for. More than anything that he has ever experienced before.

It isn’t Victor who gives him this first taste, it’s one of those friends of Victor’s that won’t last until January, and for the first time that’s actually a shame according to Sherlock, because despite his other deplorable traits, the man is a provider of Sherlock's newest love interest and that is all that matters to him right now.

When Mycroft calls on Christmas week to ask about what train he plans to take home or if he should send for a car for him, Sherlock declares that he isn’t planning to come home over the holidays.

He can hear himself say it and he can hear the silence on the other end of the line, and he marvels at what he has just done for a whole of ten seconds before Mycroft regains his stance and declares that he will come himself and collect Sherlock in two days. Before Sherlock has the chance to protest, the call ends and he feels at loss at what to do.

When he arrives from the library two days later, snow on his shoulders, feet still cold from not wearing more sensible shoes, Mycroft is sitting on his bed, a suitcase packed next to him and a stern expression on his face. He is clearly displeased but doesn’t say anything, merely rises from his position, takes the suitcase in his hand and walks to the door, expecting Sherlock to follow.
When he doesn’t, Mycroft, without turning his head, declares that the traffic will be a nightmare and that they should get going or they’ll be stuck for hours. The tone of annoyance is evident and like recognising familiarity in his backbone, Sherlock follows him out to the car and away from school.
He doesn’t even remember to bring his phone and as he sits in the car looking out through the window at the landscape passing by, putting more and more distance between his new self and his old one that he is being driven towards, he knows that Victor will wonder where he is and worry. To his surprise he finds that he does care about that and promises to try and phone him upon arrival from the landline.

Back at home, Mycroft thinks that things can be picked up where they were left off, but Sherlock finds that his new shape doesn’t fit into old patterns anymore, he can’t change back into what he was before Mycroft left him to his own devises at school.

It claws at the back of throat to say something about it, his skin it is itching and his body is longing for that new hit of chemicals it was just beginning to get used to. As the memory of that hit is attached to Victor, he misses him as well and when evening comes and Mycroft expects him to join him in his bed, Sherlock finds that he can’t.

So, he stays in his own room, hunched over his desk with a book open in front of him, turning the pages while devouring the content as if it is keeping him from going to his brother. He knows that Mycroft will seek him out eventually, but the clock turns midnight, and no one comes.
He can’t tell if he’s disappointed or relieved but settles for relieved and decides to sneak downstairs and phone Victor instead, to tell him where he is.

As expected, Victor is asleep but picks up with a sleep-muddled voice tainted with worry as if he was expecting it to be Sherlock. They talk for a while; Sherlock says something derogatory about older brother’s acting like dictators and it feels new and familiar at the same time.

He used to insult Mycroft years ago, even when he feared him a little, and back then nothing actually happened when he did it, he just felt a little better at first but then infinitely worse again because it didn’t change anything and his brother still looked at him like the nuisance of a child that had to be lectured and reprimanded at all times.

He also used to insult Mycroft after they had initiated their sexual relationship but before Mycroft had managed to gain the upper hand. It didn’t make Sherlock feel that great back then either, because Mycroft actually looked hurt and Sherlock regretted his words almost immediately and made up for them afterwards by sucking his brother off in his room after their parents had gone to bed. He still doesn’t know if Mycroft forgave him though

Then he did it that final time, the king of all insults apparently, when Mycroft was all jealous and irrational and it earned him a hard slap across his cheek. After that, he hasn’t said anything derogatory about his brother, neither to his face or to others. Not so much because of the slap even if it did sting at the time, but because after he had done it, Mycroft regained control and he hasn’t lost it since.

That Sherlock now dares to call Mycroft a dictator to Victor, unleashes something inside him and he knows for certain that things has changed irreversibly between them. Mycroft’s hold is beginning to slip and as Sherlock has already decided that best thing that has happened to him recently is that insatiable feeling of narcotics rushing through his sinuses like fast cars on a race track, he decides that everything is as it should be and Mycroft will not be able to turn things back.

He doesn’t tell his brother anything about this though. It’s still too fragile, he can’t risk losing control over himself now that he has just regained it. So he decides to keep Victor and subsequently the drugs a secret and just act like normal. Or as normal as he can without actually losing himself to Mycroft again.

The next morning, he behaves like he is striving to be a good boy. He eats breakfast with the family, gets dressed for the obligatory Christmas lunch with a few relatives, they listen to the Queen’s speech in the afternoon because it is tradition and then he goes to church with their parents while he feels Mycroft’s scrutinizing gaze follow him all day, assessing and trying to probe without actually doing so verbally.

Sherlock makes sure to keep out of situations where he risks ending up alone with his brother and when uncle Arthur, as per usual, gets too drunk to drive home and needs to stay the night and the usual question about sleeping arrangements flows to the surface, Sherlock, to everyone’s surprise, offers Arthur his bed while he will take the couch in the living room along with the two Alsatians Arthur brought with him. Two full-grown dogs of 80 pounds each is bound to keep Mycroft firmly in his own bedroom.

When everyone else is asleep, Sherlock sneaks over to the phone in the hall and makes a call to Victor to wish him a happy Christmas.

Victor sends a kiss through the phone and Sherlock feels embarrassed on his account because kisses without actual contact are futile, but he refrains from saying it out loud. But he also doesn’t return the kiss when prompted to do so and Victor sounds hurt even if Sherlock can’t tell for sure because he can’t see Victor’s face. Sherlock hates speaking on the phone because of those small details where he feels out of his depth, he can’t deduce by hearing alone.

When they end the call, Victor is decidedly grumpy though. Maybe Sherlock’s obstinacy regarding Mycroft is rubbing off towards Victor as well. Maybe he doesn’t really want anyone right now. Maybe he should just be alone.

But no, that’s wrong. He does want something, and he lies next to the sleeping dogs all night craving it, trying to keep himself under control while staring out into the darkness around him while he wishes for Christmas to be over.

Chapter Text

On Christmas Day Mycroft finally makes a move when Sherlock is sitting by the Christmas tree, being tasked with distributing the gifts.
He suddenly feels the presence of someone kneeling down beside him on the floor and he knows it’s not one of the dogs. He can hear Mycroft speaking to their mother about a gift he wonders if he has accidentally misplaced while he presses closer to Sherlock’s body, the heat from him emanating through the suit Mycroft insists on wearing despite being home with the family. Then he turns his head, pretending to be looking for the misplaced gift while his lips whisper against the skin on Sherlock’s face. Mycroft’s breath smells like brandy and supressed anger and it takes all of Sherlock’s resolve not to yield to it.

“What game are you playing, little brother?”

And then he feels something being pressed inside his hand before Mycroft retreats, shaking his head, turned towards their mother once more.

“I must have left it at the office. It’s was just a little something, nothing important. I ‘ll have it sent to you when I get back to work.”

Sherlock looks down at his hand although he can already feel that it is a piece of paper. As he manages to take a look at it while everyone else is busy providing themselves with mince pies and Turkish delight, he can sense himself stiffening as he reads the one neatly written-down line in Mycroft’s distinguishable handwriting.

My room after bedtime. Explanations are in order.

He doesn’t know what exactly he’s going to say, just that he needs to get out of giving any explanations. He fears Mycroft’s reaction as well as his own crumbling resolve if he is forced to meet with his brother in his room.
He can’t go back. Not now when he has found this other thing that he craves.

Mycroft will not accept it of course, although it is difficult to say if Victor or the drugs will anger him more.
Probably Victor.
Because drugs are drugs, but sleeping with someone else, that’s treachery.

It will bring Mycroft right over the edge of his carefully maintained control; it will cause him to lose all resolve and hell will rain down on Sherlock for his betrayal.

Maybe he deserves it, most likely he does, but the problem is not the immediate reaction from his brother but the actions that it will lead to afterwards.
Because Mycroft has never been good at accepting defeat. He takes back what he considers rightfully his and he never ever lets go.

With a shudder, Sherlock throws the piece of paper into the fire when no one but Mycroft is looking. Because Mycroft is always looking now and the clock on the mantel is ticking away the time before their confrontation with steadfast reliability.

But to Sherlock’s enormous luck and to his brother’s obvious chagrin, a call is being made from London after ten o’clock and the voice on the other end demands that Mycroft’s presence is needed with outmost urgency. The matter can not be discussed over the phone, but the tone of voice indicates that something very important has happened that requires his immediate attention and can’t wait until tomorrow.

So Mycroft needs to pack his bag and leave in the middle of the festivities, their mother hovering around him with worry on her features while Mycroft looks like he has swallowed a lemon, giving his brother a look that says they are in dire need of a conversation and Sherlock manages to meet his brother’s eyes with that innocent look that used to drive Mycroft wild with want but now makes him narrow his eyes suspiciously insted because of the inconsistency in Sherlock’s behaviour.

Of course they can talk. Eventually. When Sherlock has managed to put some well-needed distance and a gram of Cocaine through his system, then he will be ready for whatever questions his brother might have.

Less than an hour after Mycroft’s departure, the phone rings again.
Sherlock who has retreated to his own room now that he doesn’t have to fear Mycroft wanting to come and talk to him, can hear his mother shouting that the call is for him. For a second he fears that it is going to be Mycroft, but the time to fret about that possibility is over in a second as she adds that it is someone named Victor on the line.

As he hesitantly puts the receiver to his ear and says hello, he can see his mother in the corner of his eyes lingering in the doorway out of curiosity because this might well have been the first time someone outside their family circle has called and asked after him in particular.
When he gives her a glare, she vanishes of course but he can still hear her whispering in the living room with the others as he says hello into the receiver.

“Did you like my present?” he can hear Victor snicker and Sherlock, for the first time since meeting Victor, can’t manage to grasp what he actually means.

“What present?” he says in a tone that to his own ears sounds almost dumb.

“It was me. Who pulled that prank on your brother, ordered him to leave for London.”

It goes quiet for a second while Sherlock tries to wrap his head around what it is that he’s hearing, a new experience in itself as things normally seem quite clear to him, especially things that other people tell him. It usually doesn’t require this much brainwork.

As if sensing his befuddlement, Victor continues to talk.

“Well, you said just the other day what a dictator he is, more or less kidnapping you, even though you had made it quite clear that you weren’t coming home for Christmas. I just figured he needed a little taste of his own medicine.”

Before Sherlock manages to say anything in reply, Victor continues, obviously high with glee over his own cleverness and for a second Sherlock wonders if this is how others perceive him when he considers himself exceptionally smart. If so, he might well have to revise that behaviour as it makes the listener feel doubly stupid for not managing to join in on the excitement and if he feels stupid, just imagine what ordinary people might feel.

“Look, it was just a bit of fun at his expense, he’ll get over it. But just imagine his face when he comes rushing to his office and the place is abandoned and closed over the holidays. Almost wish I could have been there to see it myself.”

Sherlock knows that Mycroft’s office never truly closes for anything, holiday or not, but his brother will be surprised none the less. He, unlike Victor, can actually picture Mycroft’s puzzled face inside his head and involuntarily it causes him to let out a giggle he didn’t expect himself capable of.
This naturally spurs Victor on, and he joins in at the sound of it.

“Think of it as a little foretaste of my actual Christmas gift for you. It’s waiting for your return right here, in my room at Uni. What do you say to cutting your visit a little short and come back tomorrow? I could meet you up at the station. This place is virtually deserted over the holidays, we can do whatever we want.”

That last part is said with a purr and sets a jolt of excitement through Sherlock’s spine although he is certain that Victor is referring to sex while he is rather thinking of a tantalising white powder that has been calling his name for the last couple of days now. It doesn’t matter, both their wishes can come true. So, he agrees to Victor’s offer and ends the call.

As he returns to University the next day, he decides to ditch his old phone and buy a new one as soon as the shops open again. This action will have to represent new beginnings and farewell to old ties.

As Victor a few hours later asks if he wants to move in with him for the remaining of the term, he says yes with that same bold resolve, somehow thinking that a new phone and a new address will keep his past from finding him. A voice at the back of his head says he’s being irrational, that none of this actually changes anything, but by now, fuelled with cocaine and sex with his boyfriend, Sherlock doesn’t care.

By New Year’s Eve he has learned to live with these new resolutions and even if he hasn’t voiced them out loud to anyone else, it is easy to forget past promises when new ones are so infinitely more exiting.

Naturally it doesn’t take long for Mycroft to make an appearance and despite more or less expecting it, Sherlock isn’t nearly as prepared as he would have hoped when the moment finally comes, two weeks into January.

Mycroft is sitting on the bed in Victor’s room one day when Sherlock arrives from class early.
How his brother has managed to find out about Sherlock new living arrangements and then gained entrance is debatable but not very surprising. When he truly wants something, Mycroft has always been crafty.

Sherlock can immediately tell that his brother has searched through the room, it is not in the same state as when he left it this morning, even if Mycroft hasn’t made an obvious mess of things.

He grinds to a halt when he sees his brother on the bed, then he composes himself and carefully closes the door behind him before turning to face Mycroft.

He looks eerily calm which isn’t a good sign to those who know what to look for. Sherlock who knows Mycroft better than anyone else, sees exactly what’s boiling just beneath the surface of that calm exterior, but stubbornly he chooses to ignore those tells and tries playing for casual indifference himself, as if there is nothing unusual about Mycroft showing up here in the middle of the afternoon on a regular weekday.
What he can gain from that kind of play acting is beyond even his own imagination, but his mind is raising at 300 miles/hour right now and he can’t think straight for the life of him as his pulse begins to quicken and panic is being tampered down feverishly. When Mycroft opens his mouth to speak, Sherlock is almost ready to jump out of his own skin.

“It took quite some time to find you, Sherlock. If you had bothered to tell us in advance that you’ve moved out of your old quarters, it would have been easier of course. But since your old phone no longer seems to be functioning, I can understand the difficulty of making that call. Although I do suspect you have a new phone by now?”

It is all said in calm tone of voice while he fixates Sherlock with his eyes.
There are some new lines around his eyes, as if he hasn’t slept very well lately. That is probably an accurate assumption since finding out that Sherlock is no longer within his reach must have caused Mycroft many sleepless nights, fretting about with his own jealous imaginations.
An echo of those screams he sometimes elicited in his sleep comes to mind.

There is a fleeting silence between them where they just stare at each other before Mycroft begins to talk again.

“And how long has this,” he indicates with his hand the room they’re being in, as if it was a dungeon of utter debauchery, “...been going on then? Since before Christmas? Earlier? The whole autumn term perhaps?”

Sherlock manages to straighten himself before walking over to one of the tables by the tv where he relieves himself from his books. He makes sure to take his time before facing Mycroft again.

He wonders what his brother has found out while searching the place. Luckily nothing about the drugs at least. Sherlock doesn’t have anything at home because Victor doesn’t like it and besides, it’s mostly for recreational use anyway, not for taking on any given Tuesday.

But there are other more incriminating things for Mycroft to have discovered.
Condoms, that bottle of massage oil, the fact that they share the same underwear drawer, all those little details that screams relationship loud and clear. It is all so obvious when knowing what to look for, it’s not even difficult to make the connection and why should it be?
He does share a living with Victor now and the only wrong he has done is perhaps to have omitted this fact to Mycroft.

Well, that can quickly be remedied. No harm done, right?

“I moved in after Christmas, so it’s quite new...” he begins, but is immediately cut off by Mycroft’s scathing tone.

“Oh, I think not, little brother. Evidence suggests that this must have been going on for far longer than just a couple of weeks.”

There is a second when he seems to contemplate how to continue, but Sherlock knows him. Mycroft never waivers, he always knows what to say.
When he goes on, his tone is light as a feather.

“Remember how we used to play deductions when we were younger?”

This is Mycroft’s forte. Sherlock is already thrown off by the departure from topic. Or to him it seems like a departure, but in a minute or two Mycroft will undoubtedly have tied it all together in a neat little bow around Sherlock’s fragile neck.

“The part about proving your theories was never your favourite element of the game though, not even back then. Which perhaps isn’t all that surprising as you missed the mark more often than not while trying to prove your point. Evidence meant that it could be cemented as facts and you didn’t like that you had to convince me of your theories before I could accept what you said as the truth. Remember?”

Sherlock does actually remember this. He had loved that game, could still actually see the charm of it, but Mycroft always managed to ruin the fun by wanting him to prove his solutions. Why did that matter when they both knew he was right anyway?

“Just like back then, you’re sloppy if your trying to convince me of a truth that doesn’t match the evidence I see before me. I must admit that I neglected to keep attention to your activities these past couple of months and that blame lies partly on me. But I never imagined that I had to keep such close scrutiny as I was under the impression that our arrangement was to both our liking. You have never given me any indication of feeling any different. Am I correct?”

“Yes...” Sherlock reluctantly agrees.

He keeps wondering if there is a risk that Victor is going to be walking in at any moment. He really would prefer to keep him out of this. Mycroft, in the centre of a hurricane, is nothing Sherlock wishes to subject to anyone.

“And yet, here we are,” Mycroft continues, ”In a room you seem to be sharing with another student no less. Victor apparently.”

Another pause and Sherlock can actually feel how he is bracing himself. If Mycroft has a name, then any hopes of keeping Victor out this are pretty much ruined.

“Although that particular detail wasn’t too difficult to ascertain as our mother told me than you received a call on Christmas Day, less than an hour after I had left, from someone named Victor. Imagine my surprise when finding out that the number this Victor called from was the same that was used by the person who demanded my presence back in London the very same evening. And then, as the final clue that this Victor is someone who most certainly is the answer to many of my ever-growing list of questions, I, after realising that your old phone is no longer in use and the housemaster at your old lodgings tells me that you abandoned your old room several weeks ago, then find out that your new address is the same as one Victor Trevor, final year student in Economy and also, apparently, according to sources, someone you have frequently been seen in the company of for months on end.“

Sherlock narrows his eyes at this. What sources?

As if able to read his thoughts as easily as a book, Mycroft gives a disappointed look, as if it offends him that Sherlock isn’t able to deduce this by himself, despite not even raising the question vocally, merely thinking it.

“Sources are everyone who, for a sum of money, are willing to divulge any information I demand. Naturally that means that almost everyone is willing to sell whatever knowledge they possess that might be of use to me.”

“How can you know that they’re telling the truth?” Sherlock fruitlessly tries to grasp at straws as he sees his existence crumbling beneath his feet. “Anyone can claim anything with the temptation of money being waived in their faces?”

Mycroft actually tuts at this.

“Yes, but fortunately for me, much intel wasn’t required to put this little puzzle together quite easily anyway. Especially considering that you provided some prominent pieces yourself. Your behaviour at Christmas to begin with, and the fact that you at first didn’t even want to come home at all, it’s all there, staring us straight in the eye. All I had to do was to find the mysterious Victor and work my way from him. And then of course, as if confirming all my suspicions by some twisted turn of fate, here you come, waltzing through the door like you belong here. In your opinion maybe you do. I expected to meet with Victor but apparently I found you instead.”

This is dangerous territory now.

Mycroft has laid it all out in front of them and even if he knows the most significant parts already, that Sherlock has lied to him and that he has apparently replaced Mycroft with someone else, someone younger and not related, someone who is fit, considered traditionally handsome, who is older than Sherlock but not too old, soon done with his university studies and therefore, hopefully, a responsible citizen who can earn his own income by summer, Mycroft still doesn’t know the finer details in this whole affair.

And Sherlock knows that his brother will most certainly want them before he unleashes his rage upon them all.

On paper Victor Trevor seems to be a very good boyfriend and does actual pose a real threat to Mycroft, and that is probably the very reason why Mycroft now looks like a viper ready to attack. Faced with the damning evidence he has no other way to go about this. Because giving up Sherlock willingly is simply not going to happen.

Sherlock wishes that he could take something to smoothen the edges of the situation that he is staring straight at right now, just something that could make him navigate through it all a little better.

He has already procured his own dealer for those weekends when he and Victor go out and he needs to alleviate boredom. No that Victor no longer is enough and nothing but Cocaine can make him feel better about himself. It’s not as if he really needs it but he craves it in a way he hasn’t done since trying to get Mycroft to have sex with for the first time when he was 16. It’s that same longing for something exciting to happen.

It’s still just during the weekends but there have been three weekends in a row now. Is that to be considered a habit?

He used to have sex with Mycroft every weekend before university, when Mycroft came home from London. Was that a habit as well?

He is beginning to feel like he is unravelling by the seams now, for some reason there is even sweat coming out through his armpits and that never used to happen before.

At least Mycroft doesn’t know about the drugs. As long as he doesn’t know about them, everything can still be fine.

He can do this, he can turn it all around. Play the victim, do something, just get Mycroft out of here before Victor arrives and ruins everything permanently.
This should really be the moment where he either apologises, or just breaks it off with Mycroft once and for all. Mycroft knows him too well to fall for any insincere apology and he can’t do the real deal when he feels like this.

It’s not as if any of this was even meant to happen anyway. Mycroft left him to his own devises and the leash he had until previously been tethered to, became too lose to contain someone who perhaps actually needed to be contained, as much as he despises that idea.

He can’t explain all of this to Mycroft though, he just needs to get it all over and done with.

So after mentally bracing himself for the onslaught, he unleashed the hell he knows will pierce through his brother like fire. He needs to bring what remains of their relationship, every little scrap of it, to ruination, make Mycroft cut off all contact, bury whatever feelings he still harbours for Sherlock so deep down that they will never again be retrieved.

When he is finished and the whole deception now lies exposed between them, raw and bleeding, sharp as knives in every carefully depicted detail, Mycroft looks like stone, all white in the face, lips pressed tightly together and eyes just staring at Sherlock as if he has just stabbed him straight through his heart.

In a sense he has, he supposes. This is the killing of their relationship and even if he has had the time to see it dissolve over the course of many months, he has never even looked upon it as the end of anything really, because he has had Victor to entertain him, to keep him focused when everything around him felt like navigating a sinking ship.

He knows it’s far crueller what Mycroft is now being subjected to and for this very reason he wishes to reach out his hand, wipe away all the pain and just curl up next to his brother’s feet, perhaps even offer up that apology he thought about earlier. But he knows it is not going to happen.

So instead he walks over to the door and opens it.

“Now you know,” he says tonelessly while holding the door open for his brother to leave through.

Chapter Text

That Mycroft does actually leave speaks volumes of the shock he must be in and Sherlock goes straight to his dealer and buys more than double his usual portion.
He can’t stand to feel anything right now and takes as much he dares without risking to overdose. He isn’t actually stupid nor suicidal, he just needs to not feel.

He isn’t naïve to believe that this is all over.

He knows from experience that Mycroft will retaliate eventually but for now, he can't do more than trying to stay numb towards everything.

Somehow Sherlock expects Victor Trevor to wear the brunt of this although he really hasn’t done more than dared to be Sherlock’s boyfriend. But Mycroft isn’t logical when he is angry, he lashes out at everyone that has dared to hurt him and in this case it should be Victor, although Sherlock is actually the one that has hurt him the most.
Sherlock knows this but tries to not think about it and instead he waits.

He wonders if he should perhaps warn Victor of what’s coming but can’t come up with a good enough explanation for his brother acting like a scorned lover so he refrains from doing so. He can’t exactly tell anyone that he used to suck his older brother off in his old bedroom while their parents slept in the next room. That they had sex in the toilet stalls of the music hall he and Victor attended in early January. That Mycroft once pounded into him so hard in the boat house at uncle Arthur’s that Sherlock actually hit his head to the wall and passed out. Many memories, one darker and more twisted than the next and Sherlock remembers those night he felt Mycroft’s hand rest possessively on him while he slept. He will probably never be loved like that by anyone again.

Somehow he thinks they can never go back to what they had and he doesn’t know if he will miss it or if he feels joy that it’s over, all he knows is that he can’t talk to anyone about it, so he takes more coke and keeps quiet. Maybe it’s better this way, Victor doesn’t need to walk around constantly worrying like Sherlock does. No need for them both to endlessly be looking around the shoulder.

Then, one day, Victor is gone.

At first it isn’t that noticeable because Sherlock doesn’t pay that much attention to Victor anymore even if they are still living together.

Sherlock is far more occupied with trying to chase down that wonderful rush he felt when first trying Cocaine but regrettably that feeling is much more fleeting these days and he has to strengthen the dose a little, sometimes mixing it with the intake of something else to achieve the same effect.
It’s no longer a question of this still being only recreational use and even if he doesn’t like to put the word “addict” into his mouth, his own brain supplies him with the epitaph when his thoughts whirl around inside of him, trying to chase down some much needed rest.

So when Victor isn’t seen that first day, Sherlock doesn’t think about it that much.

He does notice it of course, he isn’t that far gone, but does he care where he is? No.

But then the next day turns out the same and even if Victor’s things are still there, something is definitely off.

Sherlock tries to remember if they might have argued about something and if this might be the reason for Victor’s absence, but try as he might, he can’t remember if that is the case. He should remember if there has been some shouting during the past couple of days, when Victor is upset he always shouts, but Sherlock is fairly certain that this has not happened.

Something he does notice though, is that someone has begun to follow him around campus.
At first, it’s just a feeling and he can’t be certain if he is imagining it or if it is truly happening. ¨

He goes home an reads up on side effects from drug abuse and it is the first time that he touches on the subject that he might actually be in trouble somehow. He knows that the turning point where he could still have stopped using all together has now truly passed and even if it isn’t as bad as him needing something every day, he will get there soon enough, if he continues to keep this pace.

It turns out that he isn’t imagining things though.

One day he comes home, and he immediately notices that someone has been there. As far as he can tell, nothing is actually is missing but there are small telling signs of intrusion and he wishes Victor could simply come back from wherever he is hiding and help him out.

He hasn’t forgotten about Mycroft and the notion that this is somehow connected to him, naturally occurs. But a call to their parents tells him that his brother is off on some business on the other side if the Atlantic and won’t be home for next couple of months.

Months?

He feels suspicious about this piece of information at first and considers the fact that no revenge has yet been inflicted upon him. He can’t tell if the same applies to Victor as he is clearly missing under very mysterious circumstances, but when he calls Mycroft’s office to check if his brother truly is out of the country as their parents claim, he is told that this information is correct but if he wants to leave a message to be forwarded, that can be arranged and they will make sure that Mycroft gets it.

Sherlock hangs up without leaving any message. What is he going to say anyway?

Excuse me but my boyfriend that I cheated on you with is now missing and I have developed a spiralling drug problem as well, but what I really want to know is if you have started any revenge plans against me yet or if I’m just to sit patiently back and wait for it?

He snorts at this and writes Mycroft off as the reason for his new misfortunes. Apparently, you can’t blame overbearing older brothers for everything.

The feeling of being observed does not disappear though and as January turns to February and suddenly jumps all the way to March with everything remaining at a standstill, no Victor in sight but the increasing feeling that he is constantly being followed, Sherlock begins to unravel.

The strange thing is that no one else seems to miss Victor.
He was supposed to graduate in June but neither classmates nor professors know anything about his whereabouts but do not seem overly concerned about it either. Apparently students do that sometimes, simply disappear. Well, not literary. They simply drop out. It can be because they feel the pressure of keeping up grades or because they are failing their courses, some leave because they get dumped by a girlfriend or boyfriend, sometimes it is because of family problems, none of this is unheard of.

But Sherlock doesn’t think that any of this applies to Victor.
Victor isn’t failing any of his classes, he hasn’t been dumped and what sort of family issues can he have with only one relative left alive? Granted, Sherlock has not met Victor’s dad, but from what he has heard, the man seems as harmless and distant as most parents.

As Sherlock lies in their bed at night and stares out into the darkness, he is beginning to suspect that he might be about to lose his mind. It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

He blames the drugs but can’t find the strength to give them up and actually strengthens the dose even a little further. By now it’s no longer a question of chasing any highs, he just wants to switch his mind and body off for a little while. To feel numb.

One day, as he knocks on the door to his trusted dealer, he is reached by the news that the guy has died.

Sherlock’s first impulse is to feel sorry for himself.

How is he now supposed to get his hands on anything to sustain him through his cravings? He has no idea where to find a new dealer, he has not bothered with making friends here besides Victor and it’s not something you can simply ask people about either.

The girl who informs him of the news is about to go back into her own room when he snaps out of his self-wallowing momentarily and asks if she knows what the man died of.

“Suicide apparently. He hanged himself with the shower curtain.”

This actually piques his interest for a second and as she closes the door to her room again, he picks the locks to his old dealers’ room and sneaks inside.

The thrill of doing something illicit rushes though him and for a short moment he actually forgets that he needs to find someone to help him with the procuring of drugs, by now he doesn’t care if it’s cocaine as long as something can help him get rid of the mounting anxiety he has developed recently.

He doesn’t really now what he’s looking for but the feeling of being where he shouldn’t be, sends a jolt of excitement through him.

And it suddenly hits him that he hasn't felt like this since he was still with Mycroft.
This time last year they were still keeping up their secret relationship, under their clueless parents’ noses. That had been a huge part of the fun in Sherlock’s opinion.

He finds himself wondering what Mycroft is doing right now and isn’t that surprising. Because what he should do regarding Mycroft is to fear him, worry about his revenge.

He shakes his head to rid himself of that reminder.
In all probability his brother is doing something utterly boring and work-related right now and Sherlock shouldn’t waste time wondering about it.
However unlikely it does sound, maybe Mycroft isn’t plotting anything against him at all. Maybe he simply figured Sherlock was too much of a hassle, maybe his pride prevents him from doing anything that means that he has to get in contact with Sherlock again.
It doesn’t sound like the Mycroft he grew up with, or the one that held him firmly to prevent him from moving away when Mycroft forced his cock down his throat. But who knows? So far things have been eerily quiet.

“I can see why you do hate me sometimes, Sherlock I really do. But I’ll never leave you, you know. You will always be mine.”

Sherlock doesn't know if that's true. He has never contemplated that he would actually hate Mycroft occasionally. He is fairly certain that he doesn't. But on the other hand, Mycroft is seldom wrong. Maybe he knows something about Sherlock that he doesn't know about himself.

Ridding himself from thoughts that will only continue to mess him up, he opens the door to the small bathroom and takes in the scene of the supposed suicide.

It doesn’t take long to realise that whoever claims that the man took his own life by hanging himself with the shower curtain is clearly delusional or lying.
Because despite there being clear evidence of a shower curtain once being attached around the small bath tub, now torn down by whoever took care of cleaning up the scene of death afterwards, it’s clear from the sealant’s very neat appearance that is was applied very recently, no more than a week ago and who would make the effort of putting up a whole rack with a shower curtain just to use is as a tool in a suicide when there are so many more easily available methods of taking your own life?
Someone who’s suicidal wouldn’t have the energy to go about it in this complicated matter, especially as he had drugs available in sufficient amount to kill himself quite effortlessly.

Sherlock doesn’t really know what he is supposed to do with this information though.
His experience with the police force is not a fond one, the memory of Carl Powers still stinging a little at the back of his mind.

He has made an interesting observation and why anyone would lie about a suicide is an interesting question. Most likely the man was murdered and then hung up as some sort of cautionary message or warning. That the police only needed to see him hang there and then rule it out as suicide does not surprise him at all. In his opinion, the police are lazy imbeciles that opts for the easy solution instead of bothering to investigate things thoroughly.

Even if he knows that everything must have been disposed of, and the police has searched the place on account of the illegal activities of the deceased, he can’t help but look through what remains in the room before giving up his search and head back home.

As he walks over the yard, he feels like he’s being watched again and this time there is actually a man hanging around that looks like he is trying too hard to appear casual, like he belongs there when he clearly does not.

All the other times when he feels like he’s being watched, Sherlock ignores it and continues on his way, but today he has absolutely nothing waiting for him back home.
No Victor. No Cocaine. Not so much as a measly little pill to stave off the beehive that is currently increasing in intensity inside his head.

Therefor he swivels around instead and stalks up to the man that at first pretends that he doesn’t notice him but then, as he realises that he has been caught out, watches Sherlock cautiously until they’re standing in front of each other.

Sherlock lets his eyes roam the other man’s appearance.

He is older than he tries to pull off, so casually dressed it practically screams disguise and he is wearing a pair of shoes that are made to look scruffy but upon closer inspection can’t be older than a week or two.

“Are you following me?” Sherlock cuts straight to the point. It does seem a little strange if the answer would be yes and he is fully aware that almost all of the drugs he has consumed lately state paranoia as a side effect, but still, he has nothing to lose by asking.

Naturally the man declines that he is doing anything of the sort.

“Then why are you hanging about here for?” Sherlock insists.

The man shrugs and tries to pull off a combination of indifference and toughness, but fails miserably at both. He simply comes off as insecure.

“What, I can’t hang about wherever I want? It’s public property, this.”

Good, lord. One of those idiots who thinks university areas mean public property as in, allowed to just loiter about despite sticking out like a sore thumb if you have no actual business being here.

Sherlock is about to turn around and leave as the man continues to speak, a slightly more hesitant tone in his voice now.

“Hey, I heard something about a bloke dying here about a week ago.”

Sherlock narrows his eyes as he looks at the man.

“Where did you hear that?”

The man shrugs but still seems nervous. Why is that?

Sherlock tries to concentrate but the beginnings of a headache is making it difficult. He really should do something about that, but he doesn’t know what. He literary has nothing left.

“It’s just something I picked up. I don’t know. I just wondered, that’s all.”

This seems awfully strange.

Sherlock is trying to concentrate, giving the man a second scrutiny. He is obviously nervous but still brave enough to ask something like that. How would he even know of the drug dealer’s “suicide”? Has it been in the papers?

That’s actually likely if the police have been there to investigate, but Sherlock has stopped reading the papers, all he does is take drugs and look for Victor. And now he can’t even do that because his stupid dealer pissed off the wrong person and ended up dead, consequently leaving Sherlock to fend for himself.
Seems like everyone does that these days.

No! No wallowing!

He shakes his head viciously and the other man actually steps back a few paces, a clear frown on his face now.

“Hey, you okay, mate?”

“None of your business!” Sherlock hisses because shaking your head while feeling abstinence kicking in is clearly not a good idea. The pain multiplies brutally.

The other man is eying him suspiciously for a second before a glint of recognition changes his features into shrewdness.

“I think I know what’s wrong with you.”

“Oh, you do, do you? That’s good to know even if I highly doubt that you have even an inkling of knowledge about what’s really bothering me.”

Sherlock closes his eyes at the pain, he shouldn’t be wasting his time with this imbecile.

What he should do is to go home and try sleeping th epain off sufficiently so he later can go out and search for a solution to his predicament.
A voice inside his head is already informing him of the futility of trying to sleep off the symptoms of abstinence, but he can’t be bothered to listen.
Besides, he has no better options at hand.

Unfortunately, the idiot in front of him is still insisting that he pays attention to him.

“Oh, I recognise those signs anywhere. I have been looking at people like you for the past ten years.”

“People like me?” The incredulity of that statement actually makes him sneer. Who does this idiot think he is?

“Druggies.”

Despite having come to this conclusion a long time ago on his own, it still does feel like a slap in the face to hear someone say it out loud.
At least it’s this inconsequential creature that matters nothing to him who says it. Sherlock can’t even begin to imagine hearing it from Victor’s lips. Or Mycroft’s.
Not that hearing anything from either of them seems very likely at the moment.

And there it is again, that self-pitying voice that he is beginning to detest by now but that he doesn’t seem to be able to switch off.

“You brought this on yourself “ he hears another voice say inside his head and this time it’s definitely his older brother’s condescending tone.
“You should never have strayed from my hold. Look at you now. Lonely, miserable, abandoned by those who used to love you. Who would want you now? Pathetic."

And he actually feels it. He is pathetic.
How could he manage to bring his life to utter ruination in less than a year? He, who is always priding himself about how clever he is.
It’s mind-blowing when you think about it.

Well, better not do that then.

While he is having the beginnings of a meltdown, the other man is still talking apparently but Sherlock hasn’t been listening, not until a few recognisable words hang unanswered between them and he picks them up and scrutinizes them to see if he is really getting this straight or if it is just another delusion playing tricks with his fragile psyche.

“45 per gram,” the man says.

So this is apparently what he thought it sounded like.

45 pounds.
He has 50 crumpled up inside his pocket, he was after all off to see his dealer earlier. This amounts to the same result, he’ll get what he wants and he will pay for the privilege, just to someone new. Someone he doesn’t know anything about.

But right no he doesn’t care. All he wants is to grab that bag and make it home, inject it into the first available vein in his body, as he has begun doing when the nose bleeds started to bee a little much and ruined too many shirts.

As a chemist, it isn’t difficult to attain the right equipment for injections. Too bad the same can’t be said about the actual product.

They make the exchange and Sherlock feels like he’s snatching the bag from the other man’s fingers like Gollum is snatching that ring in the book his father used to read to him when he was little. Mycroft always said that book was nonsensical from beginning to end but Sherlock remembers that he actually used to like it back then. He can’t remember the title now, but he might look it up when he’s feeling a little better.

And when might that be? Does an addict actually get to feel better eventually, little brother?

He is still trying to block out that voice until he reaches his rooms.

As he unlocks the door and stumbles inside, he gets that feeling again of being watched, but this time he doesn’t have the time to investigate if that feeling holds up to scrutiny, he just heads straight for the kit that he now has lying out in the open on the kitchen table. V
ictor is not going to see it anyway as he is no longer here. And no one else has any business coming into his room, so the necessity of hiding his habits is not important anymore.

When the effect starts to kick in, he is already lying down on the bed he used to share with Victor, letting his eyes beginning to close around the room in front of him.
Just as his lids are falling down for the last time, exhaustion weighing his body down like a heavy wet blanket, he catches sight of something that he hasn’t noticed before but maybe has been there unbeknownst to him for a long time. It says something about his state of mind recently that he doesn’t notice this detail until now.

At the far end corner of the curtain rack above the window, that little knob that is there to prevent the curtains from gliding off, it is missing.

Then he remembers that Victor never bothered to put any curtains up in the first place, because what guy in his twenties cares about the windows having any curtains or not.

So the knob to the right is not so much missing as the knob on the left that is actually there, is the detail that makes him realise that the reason why he has felt like someone has been watching him for several weeks now, actually isn’t a figment of his drug-induced imaginations but actually the truth.

Because the knob that has caught his attention seconds before he loses consciousness, is a cleverly disguised surveillance camera, and from where it is positioned discretely above the window, it has the advantage of seeing the full view of the room.

Then the drugs take possession of his consciousness and he fades into darkness.

Chapter Text

As he wakes up after what feels like an eternity the camera is not the first thing that comes to mind as he is trying to open his eyes, the light around him too bright, making it difficult to see anything.

When he finally manages to squint through it, he feels like he is about to throw up, his body heaving from a strong wave of nausea and he closes his eyes again in an attempt to tamper it down.

He thinks that he can feel a hand being put on his forehead, but he isn’t certain. His body does not feel like it belongs to him anymore.

Then he loses consciousness again.

The next time he wakes up, it is easier to open his eyes, but his mind is still foggy.

It actually takes him a full minute to focus on his surroundings and come to the conclusion that he is no longer in his and Victor’s room but in a completely different place.

This is a much larger room but it doesn’t consist of much more than the bed he’s lying in and a monitoring machine that is attached to his body, as well an I.V bag of what he assumes is saline but could also be pain medication.

In the far corner a wing backed chair is placed, and in it, his brother sits, one leg crossed over the other, a file of documents in his hands that he has lowered now as Sherlock is stirring in the bed and has caught his attention.

Sherlock is narrowing his eyes to be able to see him better and takes in the image of Mycroft with as much observational skills he manages to muster up when it feels like he has been hit by a train and left for dead on the tracks. So no pain medication in that I.V bag then.

Mycroft looks worn.

He is still in his late twenties but looks like 45 right now.
The hair is combed down but not by a comb but with the aid of his hands and naturally it doesn’t come out looking impeccable as it usually does. Sherlock knows that the thinning hair is one of those sensitive subjects, along with the weight issue, that can really drill a hole through the carefully crafted armour that his brother has built for himself.

Looking at him, you would never be able to guess it though.
Mycroft is always impenetrable, like a fort of steel, larger than anyone else, a sense of doom on the horizon. And at the same time, he’s Sherlock’s older brother.

At times it hasn’t felt like it.

Mycroft has been many things to Sherlock: lover, carer, tormentor, teacher, punisher, sometimes just a looming presence in the distance, sometimes a frightening authority breathing down his neck, occasionally wrathful, jealous, possessive, all-consuming and vicious, but just as well enigmatic, fascinating, unbreakable, captivating and the most interesting person Sherlock has ever met while equally boring the next second.

He has been all of those things and it isn’t a wonder that Sherlock never has managed to put him in one of those boxes with the label on it that tells him how he should behave towards him. There are no right answers with Mycroft, only more layers to reveal.

Right now, he looks broken and a pang of guilt curses through Sherlock although he doesn’t know why. He can guess though. Because if he has managed to spin out of control these past couple of months, what has Mycroft been doing? Not taking care of himself apparently.

And by seeing that, he can add yet another layer to the ever-growing catalogue of knowledge that he has on Mycroft in an effort to one day be able to put together the puzzle that his brother consists of.

Misery.

He does know that Mycroft worries and frets about him , Sherlock seems to be the only person who can elicit that reaction in his brother. But Sherlock has never realised that he would be able to bring actual misery to someone like Mycroft. But now it is very clear that he has.

They look at each other and Sherlock is wondering what he might look like to Mycroft right now.

He remembers his brother’s unmistakable voice inside his head when he asked who possibly would want Sherlock now and he wonders if this actually is the case.

Mycroft lusted after him for so long, but would he still want him as he is now?
Probably not. As he has never understood why Mycroft wanted him in the first place, he can’t answer that question properly though.

He tries to get up but the monitor starts beeping insistently and Mycroft immediately rises from his chair and walks over to him. He reaches out a hand and pushes Sherlock back against the pillow.

“Rest now. You’ve detoxed under rather comfortable circumstances so far, but the doctor tells me that the difficulties are hardly over yet, so you’ll likely need your strength. Rest while you can.“

“Am I just to lie here and wait for the unpleasantness to begin?”

Sherlock can hear that he sounds whiny but he doesn’t care. There is too much information to process to care about what his voice sounds like.

“You never were blessed with a lot of patience,” Mycroft murmurs. Then he returns to his chair and sits down, picks up his documents and turns his attention to them instead of Sherlock.

“So what? I’m just supposed to lie here?”

“Seems like it.”

“Why am I here? How did I get here anyway? What is this place?”

Mycroft flicks the pages of his folder, but he isn’t reading, Sherlock can tell. He isn’t as accomplished in acting as Sherlock is, he is good at hiding what he truly feels but Sherlock has had years of practice reading him.

“I know you’re not reading.”

Mycroft sighs and puts his papers down in his lap. But he doesn’t raise his eyes to look at Sherlock when he speaks, he looks down on his hands instead.

“You’re here because you decided to take a crash course in drug abuse, heading straight for destruction, fast. You’re in my home at the moment after having spent a week in a private clinic. You will be brought to a rehab facility as soon as you’re strong enough to leave that bed. And how you got here can wait for another time.”

Sherlock looks around the room in bewilderment. Then he whips his head towards Mycroft again but has to scrunch his face in agony at the pain that sears through his head from the movement. Maybe not a good idea to be so active just yet.

“This isn’t your home. I’ve seen your home, and this is not it. You live in a two-bedroom apartment close to your office and although I can’t be certain of the distance to your workplace, this is decidedly not one of the bedrooms I spent the night in whenever I visited you.”

It so miniscule that anyone but Sherlock would have missed it, it’s more like a twitch than anything else, but at the mention of him spending the night with Mycroft, there is a reaction, however small. It almost looks like pain. Then Mycroft’s face hardens and he resolutely brings his documents up again. This time he actually does read.

Suddenly Sherlock feels anger flare inside him.

This is so typically Mycroft. He is the one deciding that Sherlock needs help and that he is the one who’s going to provide it. Sherlock has no say in this at all. And how did he even get here? There is a reason why Mycroft omits to answer that question.

So he lashes out with the last of his reserves.

“I didn’t ask to be here. I was coping just fine, you kow. You should have just left me where I was, I have things I need to figure out.”

No reaction.

“Where is Victor?”

Mycroft turns another page, still reading. He is obviously ignoring Sherlock now.

“You can’t just force me to go to rehab! Maybe I want to continue with the drugs. Maybe I like how they make me feel. I’m an adult and you can’t keep me here against my will.”

Mycroft sighs but doesn’t look up.

“When you start acting like an adult, you’ll be treated as one,” he says grimly.

“And you get do decide that, do you?”

“Yes.”

Sherlock is beginning to feel a pulsating rage inside of him now and the monitor starts beeping again. He doesn’t care but Mycroft casts a quick glance at it.

“If you cause too much trouble, we will sedate you again.”

“Oh, we will? Who are we if I may ask? You and what doctor? Because I don’t see anyone here but you, and you certainly didn’t go to any medical school.”

“I have a team on standby. And I’m quite capable on sedating you on my own if I need to. I would prefer not to, it will drag this out longer than necessary, but if you insist on causing havoc as soon as you wake up, you leave me no choice.”

The threat is like holding up a red flag, Sherlock can’t handle it, he just needs to keep on pushing, Mycroft has always had that effect on him.

“Do our parents know about this?”

“When have they ever known anything?”

“But you must have told them something? People don’t just disappear. Or, wait, some people actually do. Which brings me back to Victor again. Do you know where he is?”

Mycroft purses his lips in disapproval.

“Why would I bother to keep track of your discarded lover?”

Sherlock can’t help but raise his eyebrows at that phrasing.

Discarded? Hardly. He just vanished. That’s not my fault.”

“No, it’s never your fault, is it Sherlock? How long did it take you to realise that he was gone anyway? A full day? Two? If that’s not discarded, then I don’t know how to better describe it. And for something as fickle as that, you decided to go behind my back and throw away everything we had. If it wasn’t so heart-breaking, I would almost find it pathetic.”

“If you hadn’t left to begin with...”

But Mycroft interrupts him by rising from his chair. He is on the verge of anger himself now.

“Things will be very different from now on, I assure you, “ he says while walking over to the alarm button, pushing it before Sherlock’s brain manages to realise what it is his brother is doing. “You see, Sherlock. I actually thought I could leave you to your devices without you beginning to whore yourself out to the first available male as soon as my back was turned. So this is a lesson for the both of I guess.”

The door opens and a man in a white lab coat step inside. Before Sherlock has the change to say anything Mycroft gestures towards the bed.

“Sedate him.”

“No, wait!”

Sherlock feels the previous anger being pushed away to make room for fear instead. He doesn’t want to wake up the next time and find himself locked up in rehab. Not that he has any idea what that experience will be like but if it is depriving him of the thing his whole body aches for right now, he’s pretty sure he won’t endure it.

He isn’t sure what exactly it is that he wants but he certainly doesn’t want Mycroft making any decisions for him.

The man in the lab coat doesn’t hesitate though. He clearly knows who is in charge.

He steps up and swiftly fills up a syringe from a small vial and then injects Sherlock’s arms with it. As Sherlock is unable to move properly, he can’t put up much of a fight and the whole procedure is over in less than twenty seconds.

Suddenly, a thought hits him and he berates himself for not realising this sooner. Maybe the drugs are actually making him slower, even if it most likely the sedatives as well as the symptoms of withdrawal that are running havoc with his synapses.

“That drug dealer I met before ending up in this compulsory detox situation, he was you man, wasn’t he?”

Mycroft isn’t looking at him, he’s looking at the man in the white coat who is scribbling something down on a chart.

“And what I injected was not what I thought I had bought. It was tampered with. I remember feeling very sleepy, more so than how I usually feel after taking anything, even taking into account that I was already beginning to suffer some slight withdrawal symptoms.”

The man leaves and Mycroft is about to follow him, picking up his documents first.

“I don’t know if it is alarming that it took you this long to figure it out, but I suppose it’s better than not coming to this conclusion at all," he says.

Sherlock is fighting the sedation that is now threatening to overpower him. He can feel it overtake his limbs and he knows that soon he will be unconscious once more.

But he needs to say this as he doesn’t know what he will wake up to next. Maybe this will be the last time he sees Mycroft.

“I saw the camera. You’ve been watching me for weeks, if not months.”

He tries working himself up into a agitated state to stave off the sleepiness as he sees the pieces align themselves into a pattern he feels very stupid for not having spotted earlier.

That time when he came home and the flat had been in a different state from how he left it. That’s probably when the surveillance started.

Victor had already disappeared by then so there was no one to observe but him. Him in different states of influence and sometimes worrying about Victor’s whereabouts. He can’t remember details but assumes that whoever watched him didn’t exactly find it thrilling. Unless it was Mycroft himself.

And as that thought hits him, he knows it must have been.

“You can’t do this, Mycroft! This is kidnapping!. Filming others without them knowing is also a crime. You can’t keep me locked up forever.”

Over by the door, ready to leave, his document held under his arm, Mycroft speaks, not turning around to face him.

“Oh, I don’t intend to keep you locked up and chained to a bed infinitely, little brother, although the idea has it’s merits. You’ll see eventually. Now if you excuse me, duty calls. I wish you the best of luck in the next couple of weeks and I keep my fingers crossed that you make it through without too much discomfort.”

Then he is gone.

Sherlock tries to scream his name, calling him back.

He needs to get out of here and he doesn’t think he might be above begging if it means Mycroft unleashes him. But as he hears his voice coming out more like a slur than an actual scream, he realises the futility of it all. No one can hear him anyway.

Chapter Text

Rehab is exactly as awful as he imagines it but time has a strange way of both crawling slowly as well as rushing in the blink of an eye by when he is locked up in there and one day he is back in the world of the living, sitting on his own bed in his childhood home, pristinely arranged with clean and wrinkle-free clothes he would never pick out for himself but has apparently decided to put on because they are what he was offered when being discharged.

His curls are tamed as well and his skin is not as pale as it was a few weeks ago. He remembers looking like a wraith and a part of him misses that image, he was more in control of himself than he is now, despite all the drugs pumping through his veins back then.

This is more like a disguise he hasn't chosen for himself and doesn't know how to propely pull off.

Apparently the term and his first year of university is over, so he is here, spending the holiday with his family. It’s quite distasteful, he just wishes he knew how to voice it out loud. But Mycroft is here as well, and Sherlock keeps his mouth shut because he can’t go back to captivity. He just can’t.
And he fears criticizing anything while he still doesn’t know what Mycroft is up to.

His brother doesn’t show up in person when he is discharged, he merely sends a black car and two gorillas in black suits to transport Sherlock to their parents’ house, and as Sherlock steps out of the car upon arrival, the first person he is greeted by is his mother as she comes rushing down the small pathway, squealing his name, arms outstretched to embrace him, showering him with kisses he never asked for but he suppose is better than a lot of other things.

As she starts speaking, he realises that she doesn’t have a clue about where he has spent the past couple of weeks. She apparently thinks he has been at university all a long and isn’t that telling, because when was she ever able to see anything even if things were on display right under her nose?

Sherlock remembers Mycroft fucking him against the wall opposite their parents’ bedroom while moaning his name, he also remembers all those dinners when they touched each other under the table while she nattered on about some inane subject that no one was listening to, or how they used to meet in that little forest behind the house, Mycroft pressing Sherlock’s body against the trunk of a tree while pounding into him despite the risk of anyone walking by or even worse, looking out the window of their house, Sherlock knows that they would have easily been spotted from the top floor.

All those opportunities for exposure and not even once did she see anything. The woman is clearly an idiot or has chosen to supress any suspicions she might harbour deep inside of her. Sherlock doesn't know her well enough to figure out which alternative is the correct one and it doesn't really matter as the result remains the same.

Beyond the greetings, the squealing, the kissing and the hugging, she informs him of some astonishing news, if her tone of voice is to be believed.

Mycroft has brought a girl with him. Or more correctly, a girlfriend as his mother says with a wink and a knowing smile.

Sherlock doesn’t know how to process this piece of information at first, but on the other hand he doesn’t have to, because less than a minute later he is confronted with this unexpected individual as they cross the lawn and a young woman, in her mid to late-twenties, rises from one of the wicker chairs at the same time as Mycroft, who has been sitting with his back against them, slowly turns while the distance closes between them.

Sherlock can’t help but immediately put on that lazersharp scrutiny to try and assess who this woman actually is, in that way that his mind always does whether he likes it or not. Ever since learning this skill, he can’t switch it off, the only thing he can decide for himself is if he is going to voice what he sees or not.

The word best used to describe her is bland.

She wears a beige linen dress that looks prim and proper, cut across the calves, making them look thicker than they are. She is accessorising this boring outfit with a set of classic pearl earrings as well as a necklace, the hair cut in a bob, a shade darker than sand and her shoes have sensible heels - it's all and all a very conservative and proper look not usually seen in women of her age, but then she seems to strive for a more mature impression than usual, just like Mycroft always used to do with his suits that made him look older than his actual years.

She looks like a real bore and when she offers her hand for him to shake and Mycroft looks at him over her shoulder, introducing her as Cressida, Sherlock immediately realises that this is an arrangement, nothing else. It’s not a girlfriend in the proper sense that their mother thinks, it just something Mycroft has apparently decided to introduce as a ploy for some reason.

How dull.

Cressida actually looks what Mycroft would choose in a pretend girlfriend if he was inclined to go shopping for a potential wife. Not too remarkable, she won’t catch anyone’s eye or evoke envy, and Mycroft is all about blending in and fitting the part, he would never go for a woman who shows too much skin, cleavage or thigh.
She has some knowledge of how to dress for the type of events that people in Mycroft’s circle would entertain themselves with, she could be equally suited for a garden party as a more formal gathering, she will always go for the prudent and conservative choice and she is what their mother would love to see in a future daughter in law.

She is everything that Sherlock isn't.

More than anything else, she seems sensible, at least when it comes to appearance although she can’t be as proper as she seems if she has agreed to go along with this ploy.

But then, when Sherlock’s zooms in on her a little bit more closely, he suddenly realises that she probably doesn’t know that this is an arrangement. There is something in her eyes that gives off the need to please and she wouldn’t bother with that if she knew this was just for pretend.

They shake hands and she looks at him with a combination of politeness and something close to imploring. He wonders what Mycroft has said about him or if their parents have given her a warning about his prickliness. Maybe she just wants to be liked.

He can sense Mycroft’s eyes on him but as they haven’t talked since he ended up in rehab, he doesn’t know what to do or say. Luckily, Mycroft takes the lead, offering his hand as well, as if greeting a distant relative and Sherlock allows their hands to touch briefly, while he can hear his brother say the expected welcoming phrases.

When he doesn’t answer, Mycroft’s hand takes his in a firmer grip, indicating that he expects a reply and Sherlock delivers one, despite feeling like he would rather bite his own tongue than speak.

“Cressida is staying for the weekend with Mycroft. And we’re all so delighted to make her acquaintance. Aren’t we dear?”

Their mother turns to look at her youngest son and he nods because Mycroft is still holding his hand in that firm grip. Then he suddenly lets go and turns to seat himself back in his chair. Sherlock is dismissed apparently.

The fact that Mycroft doesn’t contradict their mother confirms that this is all a sham. Had this been someone his brother truly cared for, he would have told her politely but firmly to not make assumptions.

Sherlock decides to excuse himself and go up to his room, claiming that he needs to unpack. The fact that he doesn’t have anything with him to actually unpack should be apparent, but as with everything else around here, it isn’t, and he is easily excused after promising to join them for tea in an hour.

Now he sits on his bed, wondering what to do.

Is he expected to play a part in some elaborate scheme or should he just focus on behaving for now?

Mycroft has given him no instructions and currently he is trapped in this new scenario with an unexpected player involved and how is he supposed to react to such a move from Mycroft when he doesn’t know what is expected of him?

Is it some sort of revenge because of Sherlock's involvement with Victor? Should he pretend to be jealous?
But why would he when he knows that this thing with Cressida is all fake?

Or is this a more permanent thing, something Mycroft actually considers taking all the way to the altar? Maybe his career has finally demanded some sort of commitment from him, to act more normal, project the image of family man and husband instead of the lonely bachelor who never dates or even gives off the slightest hint of a love life. Who knows what these government bores demand of their colleagues.

Mycroft should be able to deduce that Sherlock knows that his girlfriend isn’t the real deal though. But without any expressed instructions, all Sherlock can do is try going with the flow and see what happens. The only thing he does know is that he isn’t going to rock the boat by being difficult, not now. He simply can’t risk Mycroft locking him up again.

He knows their mother in particular has always worried about her oldest not having found someone yet, approaching 30 in a few years. She doesn’t know that Mycroft is gay or whatever sexual category you fall into when you lust after your much younger brother. Mycroft has never before bothered with keeping up any appearances regarding his preferences, he has never brought anyone home to their parents, neither boy nor girl, so why start now?

At least they know Sherlock is gay. He announced it rather spectacularly in his early teens by flipping through his father’s copy of Razzle in the kitchen during an Easter holiday and then loudly declaring that naked women were not his thing. He also suspects they sort of guessed regarding Victor when he called at Christmas, even if they never met him.

So Sherlock won’t have to bring home a fake girlfriend to keep up any appearances. He will probably never bring anyone home anyway but it’s good to know that he won’t be forced to stand next to someone like Cressida and pretend that he likes a person who has the same entertainment value as a pack of gum.

He wonders if Mycroft sleeps with her as a part of the act but then considers this not being very likely, Mycroft has rules about decorum after all and he would never take advantage of a woman like that. He will probably keep it to a minimum of physical contact and she seems like someone who isn’t assertive enough to force the situation into something more intimate. If she even wishes to be intimate that is.

Sherlock thinks Mycroft screams gay just by being his usual self, but most people are not as observant. He wonders how much Cressida actually knows about her alleged boyfriend.

As the clock strikes four downstairs, he rises from the bed and takes a look at himself in the mirror to see what others are seeing when looking at him. Does he look any different or can he go downstairs and pretend that none of what he has been through ever happened?

Mycroft has not been knocking on his door and for a swift second he considers the option that Mycroft might actually have decided to cut the leash.
He feels a little bit like he did when he first arrived at university all those months ago and didn’t know what Mycroft expected of him. But back then, they were still intimate with each other, in a relationship of sorts, however illicit the nature of that relationship was.

He hasn’t been with Mycroft since that concert when they had sex in one of the bathroom stalls, which seems like ages ago, in reality almost eight months have passed by. This time last year Sherlock slept in Mycroft’s bedroom during the summer holiday but that isn’t likely to happen this year. Especially not with Cressida around.

And didn’t their mother mention that the happy couple would only be visiting over the weekend?

Does that mean Sherlock is left to his own devices for the rest of the summer? A flutter of hope makes its presence known inside of him.

But there is no use analysing events in advance. He decides to give Mycroft the weekend to make a point, if he has one. If Mycroft and his girlfriend leave without giving him any clues to whatever game Mycroft is playing, Sherlock will head straight out of here. Far away and fast.

Perhaps he should actually try looking for Victor more seriously, put some effort into it. Or maybe he should just reacquaint himself with sweet lady White that he has missed most of all during these past couple of weeks. How anyone ever manages to stay clean after rehab is beyond him, all it did was to prevent him from using while he was there, but the urge is still very much alive and the longer he is tasting this new freedom, the more likely it is that he will do his outmost to get his hands on something to make his existence more bearable. And cocaine was always his most precious drug of choice.

Running his fingers through his hair while looking himself in the mirror, he practices a few faces he can use while enduring the weekend he has in front of him. It never takes much to fool their parents that everything is alright. But his mind has already began to wander to what his possibilities will be when Mycroft leaves.

If his older brother wants to play happy couple with that bland specimen of a human being, by all means, do that. See if he cares. Sherlock has more important things to do. He’s going to find Victor and he’s going to get high, not necessarily in that order. Then he’s going to do whatever he wants, and his older brother isn’t going to do be able to stop him once Sherlock has put some well needed distance between them.

With a new self-confidence in his step, he turns from the mirror, prepares himself to play the part he has chosen for himself, the youngest son back from university after his first year away from home, still all innocence and untarnished as far as his parents are concerned. It won’t be that difficult, he did pull it off quite well during Christmas and they never noticed a thing.

Mycroft on the other hand, he knew something was wrong back then, he just didn’t realise what it was. Now he does, but he is busy with own play acting at the moment, taking care of Cressida, so he won’t be a problem.

Sherlock won’t be the main attraction this weekend anyway, not when big brother has brought home potential marriage material. He can practically see their mother doing the calculations herself in her head, planning the appropriate moment for an engagement and the amount of time between engagement and the actual wedding. She seemed almost giddy with excitement out there in the garden earlier and that suits Sherlock just fine, it keeps some of the pressure off him.

He walks down the hall towards the stairs, deeply occupied by his own thoughts, when suddenly he stumbles against something hard across his ankle when passing the door to the guest room and quite gracelessly he crashes to the floor in an ungainly heap of limbs.

As he blinks to regain focus of sight, he registers a pair of nicely polished Oxfords as well as the tip of an umbrella in front of him, most likely the cause for his stumble to the floor.

The shoes are new to him, but the umbrella is not. He gave it himself as a Christmas gift six months ago and there is probably some significance for the recipient using it now, as it can’t possibly be because of the weather. It’s the middle of July and still quite sunny, even if it’s nothing like last year’s soaring temperatures.

His brother must have been waiting for him to pass by and then held out the umbrella for him to stumble upon when passing. They used to do things like that when they were younger, still only children. Well, mostly it was Sherlock who did it and Mycroft who took a tumble. It was more fun back then, now it simply feels degrading.

Stubbornly Sherlock stares at the shoes without raising his head to meet his brother’s eyes. Instead Mycroft does it for him by using the tip of the umbrella to put under his chin and force his head to bend backwards until their eyes connect.

Sherlock stares at his face which is stern and determined. This is probably the face Mycroft uses when trying to throw his weight around at work, intimidating people. It is quite the sight.

“Whatever your little head has conjured up while sitting in your room all afternoon, I can assure you that none of those ideas will be turned into reality. I did promise you to be more attentive this time around, did I not?”

When Sherlock doesn’t reply, just stares at him, still in shock about this sudden turn of events, Mycroft reaches down and takes his arm in a firm hold and drags him up to his feet. When Sherlock has managed to stand up reasonably well and find his balance, Mycroft closes the distance between them by tugging the arm so he can speak in a more quiet tone and still be heard perfectly well.

“From now on, rest assured that you don’t so much as breathe without me knowing about it. If you think that you’re going to pick up where you left off with your deplorable habits and in the company of that wretched Trevor boy, you can wipe those ideas from your mind this instant. And don’t try to deny that you weren’t considering that option, it was quite visible in your features just a few seconds ago.”

Sherlock opens his mouth to say something, deny the accusation, make some sort of protestation, but as he sees Mycroft narrow his eyes, he knows it would be futile to even attempt to do so. Just as he should have realised that things were not going to go as smoothly as he had foolishly hoped.

The hand that is still holding his arm in a firm grip, has not yet released him. It’s going to bruise, he can feel it, it actually hurts a bit even if he tries to ignore the pain.

“This summer will all about bringing you to heel, Sherlock. Because I need you to be able and ready by fall.”

Sherlock raises his eyebrows in question but doesn’t actually say anything, he is pretty sure he isn’t allowed to speak right now.

The familiar pang of his older brother lording his influence over him again hits him like a familiar ache while he also recognises a tingle at the bottom of his abdomen, a combination of anticipation as well as dread. Right now it’s more dread than anticipation because this version Mycroft is much more stern and vindictive than what the old Mycroft used to be. Sherlock can’t even be sure what it is that this new Mycroft wants with him, more than execute control. But he will probably soon find out.

“You are going to go downstairs and drink tea with the rest of us and I expect you to behave like a good little boy and not like the tart that I know you to be. For every time you break one of my rules, there will be consequences, and as I was too lenient with you before, I will be much harder on you from now on. Have I made myself clear?”

It’s so tempting, it really is, to just shake his head and say no. Just because his instinct tells him to defy this and because a part of him is curious about what Mycroft will actually do to him if he disobeys. He is not willing to follow any stupid rules, he is not prepared to behave like some puppet for Mycroft to order about as he pleases, he is not going to do as he’s told.

But before he has the change to express even an inkling of all these protestations threatening to spill out of his mouth, Mycroft’s hand, the one not holding the umbrella, laches out like a cobra and takes a firm grip of his jaw, pressing it threateningly as he hisses.

“Don’t force me to repeat myself.”

And Sherlock feels himself nod despite not wanting to, because his instinct tells him that his brother isn’t bluffing, there will actually be serious consequences if he doesn’t comply.

He feels the tip of Mycroft’s fingers dig into his skin while they stare at each other in silence.

Then Mycroft releases him and takes a few steps back.

He nudges towards the stairs with his head, beckoning Sherlock to move forward.

“After you,” he says, his voice sounding close to normal once again, the umbrella no longer a weapon in his hand but simply a normal accessory dangling from his right wrist. The mask of normality is back up, actual stillness occupying his features and Sherlock forces himself not to shudder as he passes him on his way down the stairs.

Chapter Text

Cressida is actually more than just a dullard; she is plain awful.

Sherlock can barely contain his tea when forced to listen to her, although everyone else at the table seem charmed enough. Mycroft shoot him daggers over the rim of his cup, but Sherlock is too tired to care, he just sits there listening to the others talk, tuning out the words and pretends to sip his tea although the level of liquid hardly changes.

He thinks about how he is going to get out of this predicament, especially as he doesn’t know what Mycroft is actually asking of him.

Able and ready by fall, what does that even mean? Ready for what?

Sherlock assumes he is going back to university, even if that idea repels him somewhat. He has nothing waiting for him there, not if he can’t take coke and Victor isn’t there anymore. The classes he was taking were hardly up to par and everyone else were idiots. He can’t stand the idea of returning to his old existence when he has no idea what he is supposed to do there.

What did he do with his time before things started to go straight to hell?

He should really not consider that question as it most likely involved fucking Mycroft in different positions and he is hardly going to continue doing that again, not now when there is literal warfare going on between them.

Besides, Mycroft has Cressida now, he can very well sleep in the bed of his own making as far Sherlock’s concerned.

Cressida’s presence does surprisingly sting a little bit, even if he knows its all a sham. Why her for God’s sake?

On the other hand, Mycroft probably thought the same regarding Victor. and that situation, unlike the one with Cressida, was actually real. Victor and Sherlock had sex and lived together and did all those things he and Mycroft never could because their liaison was to be kept in the shadows, a secret never to be revealed.

It had been so much easier with Victor, he had been able to follow his impulse and do everything he wanted whenever he wanted it, without thinking about consequences.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He is suffering the consequences right now as a matter of fact.

But still, it was a couple of liberating months before it all came crashing down around his ears. And for the umptieth time he wonders what ever happened to Victor. Where is he? Did he simply leave or did Mycroft somehow arrange for it to happen?

It sounds ridiculous but on the other hand, this is Mycroft after all, if anyone could pull it off, it would be him. Sherlock can’t help but wonder if he will even know the answer to that question.

The rest of the weekend just trudges on, nothing really happens and Sherlock wonders once again what it is his brother has planned for him. There was talk about rules but so far nothing else has come forth and when the “happy” couple say farewell on Sunday afternoon in front of the car taking them back to London, Sherlock is honestly perplexed. Is he supposed to just stay here? Without the physical threat of his brother, what’s to prevent him from just leaving the minute he knows Mycroft has put enough distance between them?

The answer comes to him as he, after refusing dinner with his parents, retreats to his room, seriously thinking about leaving now. He has nowhere to go but staying here isn’t exactly inspirational either and if he just looks at the world without limitations, he might figure something out.

He has some change still rattling in an old piggybank tucked away in the closet, enough for a train ticket out of here and then perhaps other entertainments as well.

This idea perks him up a bit and he is just about to pick some old clothes out from his drawer when there is a soft knock on the door followed by his mother’s voice.

“Sherlock, dear, I forgot to give this to you earlier, but it made itself noticed by going off just now, so please open up. It’s Mycroft. He wishes to speak with you.”

Frowning, he opens the door to see his mother standing in the hall with a cell phone outstretched in her hand.

Before he gets the chance to say anything, she pushes it towards him and stage whispers, despite the fact that Mycroft will likely still hear it:

“He’s in a bit of mood and demands to speak to you. Maybe something to do with Cressida? Do try to see if you can conjure it out of him, dear.”

Frowning even deeper he takes the phone and then closes the door in his mother’s face. Mycroft can hardly fault him for rude behaviour, whatever it is he wants to communicate, it not likely that he wants it to be in her presence.

As he turns his back against the door he decides to try out a theory that has been quietly buzzing at the back of his mind for the past two days, connected to what he now knows of Mycroft’s way of conducting things and, if correct, would give him the answer to what it is Mycroft has in mind for their continuing interaction.

He raises the phone to his ear but doesn’t say anything, just waits.

And sure enough, Mycroft begins to speak the second after.

“Ah, you figured it out then. Good boy. You apparently didn’t ruin all your brain cells with that nasty stuff you insisted on injecting into your blood stream.”

Sherlock sighs and lets his eyes roam the room. Despite being right, he rather wishes he had been wrong.

“So where is it? Or are there more than one this time?”

“I’m hardly going to tell you, am I? Why reveal my upper hand when not strictly necessary? Not everyone is as foolish as your former paramour.”

Sherlock snarls at the mention of Victor.

“He is only former because you made him to be!”

“How would you know? Maybe he just tired of you and left? That does happen you know, in the real world, between normal people. I know you’re unaccustomed to the way others conduct their lives but let me assure you, people leave for the silliest of reasons, and you are quite the handful, Sherlock. Take it from an expert on the topic.”

Sherlock shakes his head at this.

“If you expect me to believe that he just disappeared from one day to the next, simply leaving his flat, his things, not attending classes, not informing anyone of his whereabouts because that would have been easier than to just say that he wanted to end things with me, then you’re more delusional than I ever gave you credit for.”

“Maybe he got a better deal?”

Despite this piece of information feeling like a slap to his face, Sherlock just continues to hit back ferociously.

“Maybe you should consider the fact that bribing people to cease romantic affairs with your family members is not done in this century, its positively reeks archaic. But then I guess you never were in tune with the modern ages, Mycroft. Your whole persona screams of values and standards influenced from times long passed and gone, the only modernism you actually enjoy are the surveillance equipment that aids your deranged need for control and hunger for power. If it was up to you, we would all still be living in some stuffy Victorian age where anything untoward happens behind closed curtains and the man of the house has all the power, feelings are to be supressed in the presence of others and a three piece suit along with a walking cane is all the rage. “

He stops, because the idea that Victor has actually been paid to leave by Mycroft suddenly hits him hard, even if he can’t be sure that it’s actually true. The fact that he can’t see Mycroft’s face limits his deductive powers, his brother is far too advanced in the manipulative game to reveal anything with just the tone of his voice.

But if it is true, it tells him something he didn’t expect, both about Victor, but of Mycroft as well. This matter of dealing with the issue of him cheating feels positively degrading, as if he is a commodity to be sold and discarded without a second thought. For something as measly as a sum of money. Or whatever it was that wetted Victor’s appetite more than Sherlock’s company.

And for Mycroft to use that sort of method.... He would rather have seen it be something else, something not making him feel cheap.

He sits down on the bed and waits.

He can’t be bothered to play games anymore. He’s tired from his time in rehab, from all the recent events of the past months, tired of being kept in the dark about his own existence. Whatever it is that Mycroft wants, he needs to spit it out now. Sherlock is done with the baiting.

From whatever source of surveillance Mycroft is looking at him from, he seems to get the message, because he changes the topic.

“Accepting the situation is a good first step of mending things between us and I’m glad that you seem to realise that, little brother. It can naturally not erase the pain you have caused, but as those actions are now part of a past that will never again become a reality, I’m generously willing to let the matter go and instead look ahead at what’s to come. But make no mistake about the anger I still hold for you, putting us both trough the ordeal of these past months. That you are mine and mine alone should never come as a subject of debate to you. Ever again.”

Sherlock feels tempted to argue but refrains from doing so. Better to keep quiet and wait for whatever point his brother is trying to make. There is a time and place for every rebellion, now is hardly appropriate timing.

Mycroft drones on.

“This is the first step in your redemption towards me and once I decide that you have rightfully redeemed yourself, we can talk about the future. For now, your time belongs to me.”

Sherlock wonders what Mycroft has done with Cressida while he is having this conversation. She can hardly be sitting next to him listening to all of this.
Is she stuffed away in a drawer somewhere, to be pulled out whenever Mycroft needs a girlfriend to parade around?

He has a difficult time wrapping his head around the fact that Mycroft is even going through with this a farce. It diminishes Sherlock’s regard for him that he would actually stoop so low. But to each their own supposedly.

He turns his attention back to what it is his brother is trying to convey over the phone.

“And what is it that you want me to do, as you put it, to redeem myself? Go down on my knees and flagellate myself with a whip like some catholic monk perhaps?”

There is a sound that almost sounds like a supressed chuckle coming from Mycroft. It is surprisingly pleasing to hear, Sherlock hasn’t hard that sound in ages.

“That idea actually has its merits.,“ Mycroft finally offers.

“Yes, I assumed it would appeal to your fondness of corporal punishment, brother."

It becomes quiet for a few seconds, as if both have suddenly been reminded of something that used to be natural between them, this banter that is still on the fun side of snark, not vicious like their tone has turned into lately, just this very familiar ping-pong session of throwing verbal balls across the net and returning them with equal easiness.

There is suddenly a pang of sadness inside Sherlock’s chest when he realises this. Whatever happened to that bond they used to share?

He is just about to open his mouth to voice this question out loud when Mycroft has apparently steeled himself again and gone back to retaliation mode. The moment has passed.

“Put the phone on speaker. Then take your clothes off and stand on your knees.”

Sherlock remains seated without moving.

“And if I don’t?” he asks.

“Then I’m telling our parents where you have been for the past weeks. What you have been doing since last autumn. I’ll tell them everything.”

Sherlock contemplates this.

Is that all?

Sure, it won’t be pleasant, but he hardly cares what they think?

Naturally this idea has already crossed Mycroft’s mind.

“You think it won’t be that bad if they find out. But contemplate for a second what our mother is like when sufficiently worked up into a frenzy. If you think me sending you to rehab was the worst thing that could have ever happened to you, then realise this: she will never give you a moments peace for as long as you live if she finds out how you have been entertaining yourselves for these past couple of months. It will be utter hell. And I will happily offer her my help with keeping track of you with everything I have at my disposal. Just consider that scenario for a second, Sherlock, really give it some serious thought. Because you will never be able to so much as blink without her knowing about it and there will be no end to her preaching in your ear until you positively can’t take it anymore.”

“I thought all of that was your department.”

“It is, but as you chose to disobey me, there will be two people in your life micromanaging every move you make till you draw your last breath. You will be begging for it to be just me by the end of the first day.”

Sherlock snorts in disagreement.

“You can hardly want that yourself? More scrutiny of me will mean more scrutiny of you. She’s going to be scared that you’re hiding things from her as well. And strictly speaking, you are.”

But Mycroft remains unphased.

“I have too much at my disposal to let that affect me. Our parents will be presented with whatever image I choose to project to them. You on the other hand, are totally on you own in this mess, without any resources at your disposal. I have all the sordid details on record, ready to be exposed if you force my hand.”

Realising that he has run out of argument for now, however much that fact grates on him, Sherlock concedes temporary defeat. Unwillingly he raises his hands and begins to undress.

Then he positions himself on the bed and arches an eyebrow before pushing the button on the phone to speaker mode.

“Now what?”

“You touch yourself, stroke yourself to the brink of completion but do not come until my expressed order.”

“And what is your part in all of this? Watching me like some dirty old man, wanking to the image from your camera?”

But Mycroft doesn’t reply and when nothing more happens, Sherlock slowly begins to move his hands across his body, first almost routinely, he is hardly aroused and this feel too much like a power struggle to make him get in the right mood for any satisfaction. But as he begins to stroke his flaccid penis, it does make a little twitch of interest despite his indifference to all of this.

Mycroft orders him to proceed over the phone.

“Penetrate yourself as well. I know what kind of pleasures you like, I taught you most of them after all. “

Sherlock makes a negative shrug with his shoulders while continuing to stroke himself half-heartedly.

“I don’t have any lubricant.”

“Hardly my problem. It actually suits me fine, the uncomfortableness will remind you of your previous actions and the hurt they caused me.”

“Great...” Sherlock mumbles but still parts his legs to gain better access. Then he tries to insert the first finger.

His whole body rejects this idea instantly, his muscles tensing up and making it even more difficult to succeed. It actually stings a little.

“All the way inside,” his brother’s voice orders him over the phone. “The other hand should continue stimulating your cock.”

Sherlock does as he is told and it actually does help. The pleasure he derives from stroking his cook helps him relax sufficiently to manage to insert the first finger eventually, and as he, quite by accident, manages to hit just the right spot against his prostate, a jolt of pure arousal curses through him and his cock stiffens even more, growing hard between his skilful hand movements.

“Faster.”

He increases the speed while simultaneously trying to insert another finger, the first still inside, touching that same spot that continues to send shivers of pure satisfaction, pooling through him, making his muscle spasm.

He is hit with the realisation that it has been far to long since he enjoyed any sexual activities, both alone and with others. Somewhere along the line the drugs replaced that craving and his body is eagerly chasing this old familiar sensation now, just as ardently as it used to crave the drugs. Funny how quickly things can be forgotten, when being replaced by something you think is far superior but in reality brings you nothing more than pain and heartache.

While continuing to penetrate his body while stroking his cock, he forgets the circumstances for him standing on his bed pleasuring himself, just letting himself fall into the overwhelming sensation of satisfaction, closing his eyes, shutting the surroundings out while pumping his fist up and down his rock-hard cock while hitting the prostate with his two fingers, alternating with each movements so he doesn’t go without a second of pure delight.
He finds a rhythm that works like tandem and then lets go of all inhibitions, allows himself to moan while his fingers continue to transform his body to a boneless piece of sexual want, ready to push himself across the edge any second now, towards orgasm. He opens his mouth to let out the beginnings of a moan so tinged with pure arousal that it will sound positively scandalous, when suddenly the illusion is broken by Mycroft’s voice shattering his rhythm, bringing him back to reality.

“And now stop. “

Sherlock snaps his eyes open in anger.

“But I was just about...” he begins but is interrupted by Mycroft.

“About to come? Yes, I can see that. But as I told you earlier, you don’t get to come until my expressed order for you to do so. And I am not in the mood to incline you that wish. So remove your hands. Now. “¨

Reluctantly, an actual whimper of disappointment escaping his lips, he removes his hand from his penetrated hole while releasing his aching cock. It actually feels quite tortuous, being brought this close to the cusp of orgasm, just to be declined that final release. His whole body tingles and the wish for his hands to just return and finish off what they were about to do, is overwhelming. But Mycroft is relentless.

“Put your clothes back on. Then wash your hands and put the phone in your pocket. After that, you join our parents at the dinner table, like a good boy. I believe our mother said something about a Sunday roast.”

Sherlock actually widens his eyes at this. How the hell is he going to get his cock inside his pants, not to mention his rather tight trousers? And then go down to join his parents at the dinner table?

It will be pure agony. Which is of course what his brother must want for him to feel, anything to get back at him, make him pay.

“Fine,” he grumbles and rather harshly grabs hold of his cock and painfully pushes it inside the restraints of his underwear before bending down to pick up the rest of his discarded clothes.

While he pulls his shirt on Mycroft’s voice is heard in the background.

“Keep that phone on you wherever you go and pick up as soon as it rings. Like I told you, your time is mine now and you do as I tell you from now on. Understood?”
Sherlock merely grits his teeth but still manages a curt nod before Mycroft ends the call by wishing him a pleasant dinner and then hangs up.

Sherlock stares at the phone, the urge to smash it against the wall being overwhelming. But he knows his brother is still watching from somewhere inside the room, so despite the desire to show his dissatisfaction, he refrains from doing anything other than what his brother has ordered him to do.

He goes into the ensuite bathroom and washes his hands clean, watches his face for a second in the bathroom mirror. His expression is absolutely feral.

Then he puts the phone in his pocket like he was told to do, before drawing a hand across his face, steeling himself for the rest. His erection is still pressing insistently against the fabric and it is tempting to touch himself, just to ease some of the tension a little bit. But he knows he isn’t allowed.

So instead he heads for the door, walks through it and continues down the stairs to join his parents at the dinner table. If his mother looks surprised by his arrival, she doesn’t say anything, but merely offers him a plate and begins to serve him a thick slice of Sunday roast with a huge helping of gravy on top.

With every bite it feels like bile threating to come out of his mouth, but he politely finishes the whole helping in silence.

Just like a good boy.

Chapter Text

The terrible realisation hits him later than expected, that this is his world now, with Mycroft calling him at every hour of the day, in the middle of the night, in the morning before breakfast, sometimes even during dinner, forcing him to make some idiotic excuse to their parents for leaving so abruptly.

The excuse is based on the now firmly cemented idea that Mycroft and Cressida are having some sort of problem in their relationship and Mycroft has no one to turn to but his brother in his hour of need.

That this, frankly asinine lie, actually manages to fool their parents tells more about them and their absolute cluelessness than anything else. Why Mycroft would ever call his little brother to pour his heart out regarding anything is beyond him, it should be beyond them all, but for some reason their parents, or their mother at least, just laps it up, gives her youngest an encouraging pat on the arm as he leaves and whispers to him to send her love to his brother.

He can’t tell what’s worse. The fact that he has to keep this façade going, acting the caring brother he has never once displayed in the past. Or what Mycroft forces him to do while their parents sit cluelessly awaiting his return.

Because naturally the sexual torment continues.

He is ordered to do different things to himself, most of them pleasurable, some of them not, and never once is he allowed to feel like he is the ruler of his own body, it belongs to Mycroft now and he can do with it whatever he pleases, without even being present himself.

After a few weeks of this, it slowly begins to break him down.

With the threat of the phone ringing at any given moment, the realisation that Mycroft can see him through a camera in his room without him having the ability to hide away anywhere, the lies about Cressida and the loss of control over himself, chips away at his sanity and he stops sleeping, stops eating, he just sits on his bed in the end, waiting for the phone to call.

At least he now knows why Mycroft put on that show with Cressida.
She was just a means to an end, she is probably long gone by now, payed for and happily doing something else with her time.

He has to admit she pulled off a formidable performance, he actually thought for a second that she might be interested in having a go as the trophy wife of his brother. He should have known that Mycroft wouldn’t go down that road though. Mycroft doesn’t care about conventionality in that regard. He just wants Sherlock at his beck and call, and he has that now.

There was always a sense of control when it came to their relationship, even before it all derailed this spectacularly. But to be forced to lie next to his brother every night, a hand possessively thrown over him while his brother slept, that was relatively tame compared to this.

The Mycroft from a year ago was, despite his peculiarities regarding possessiveness, a very caring older brother. Challenging for sure, demanding, sometimes rough in their sexual activities but never stepping out of line, the love he felt for Sherlock was always running like an undercurrent in everything that they did.

This new Mycroft is like a wounded animal with only revenge on his mind. There are probably some scraps of sentiment left at the bottom of the barrel, but between that and the frankly tortuous long-drawn method of showcasing his power over Sherlock, it’s hard to tell.

At least Sherlock manages to adapt to the situation as it becomes normality, and he finds it easier to just go along with whatever it is that his brother demands of him. He shuts off completely, he doesn’t feel anything anymore, doesn’t think about anything but the phone, and in the end, it becomes easy turning into a machine.

He doesn’t even notice the weeks passing by. One day it’s autumn again, the flowers in the garden begin to wither and the air is slightly chillier. The rain hits his window the day when the phone rings and his brother doesn’t execute a new order that requires him to take his clothes off.

“You’re returning to school. A room has been arranged for you, it’s closer to the actual university, and you have been given the opportunity to take the exams you missed last spring. Pass them and you can enrol within two weeks. I expect you to study until then, whatever you need to do to make up for the time lost and pass with flying colours.”

His old self would have put up something resembling a protestation, but he can’t be bothered.
He has no desire returning to school, but he has no desire remaining here either. At least it will be a change of scenery. But there will also be a lot of ghost buried in that place, ready to rear their ugly heads at his return.

He hasn’t really contemplated the issue of Victor that much, but the drugs and the craving for them still plagues his thoughts rather frequently and this new arrangement with Mycroft hardly manages to ease that longing much.

But as he has no choice in the matter and it will bring him some variety to his otherwise trying existence, he does as he is told regarding the studying.
In reality he doesn’t require to do much of it, the classes he was taking were well beneath his level of knowledge, he doesn’t exactly need to cram to know that he will pass.

But as he knows Mycroft is watching him, he pretends to read, while slipping inside his own mind to give himself a well-deserved pause. The trouble is of course the issue that has always been his biggest problem.

His boredom.

Without anything to properly occupy his mind, he becomes restless, which is partly the cause for this mess in the first place. If he hadn’t been so utterly bored last year, he would not have let himself be entertained by the novelty Victor provided, and he would not have been tempted by the drugs if he hadn’t grown bored of Victor as well, and he most certainly would not have played this game with Mycroft, causing him to end up in even more dire circumstances than before.

Boredom is a danger far greater than most other things to someone like Sherlock, causing destruction in its wake when he allows himself to fall victim to its devastating effect.

He used to entertain himself with chemistry, music, science and trying to solve old historical crime mysteries, in lack of any actual crimes for him to solve. Those things used to keep him busy for an acceptable duration of time. Now, he has none of these pastime interests at his disposal.

Its very trying not to long for the break drugs used to provide him with when his brain is threatening to start chewing on itself in a desperate attempt at stimulation, and he bites his nail until his fingers bleed just to let the pain distract him from thinking too much.

On the day before his exam Mycroft calls to inform him that a car is picking him up and will escort him back to the university. It will remain there until he is done. Then it is going to take him back.

The old Sherlock would have asked why he simply couldn’t take the train, but the new Sherlock knows the answer to that question. Mycroft doesn’t trust him and is unwilling to release control even for a few measly hours. He doesn’t realise that Sherlock is no longer able to run, even if given the opportunity.

The exams go as expected and he is taken home by the car as soon a he is finished.

Mycroft calls him the minute he steps inside his own room and after the initial questions about the exam, he is ordered to undress and pleasure himself, this time for what feels like ages, Mycroft bringing him to the edge on several occasions just to force him to stop at the very last second, then starting all over again with a different tactic, a new body part but with the same purpose and outcome.

His whole body is drenched in sweat when Mycroft finally release him.

His brother’s voice is somewhat strained as he ends the call. He is probably hard as a rock as well and will have the luxury of relieving himself while Sherlock can’t.

He steps inside the shower and lets cold water spray him until everything withers, then for an additional couple of minutes just to feel his body go numb from the cold. It matches his state of mind to be able to turn off his body as well as his brain.

As the last of the roses in the garden shivers and dies, he says goodbye to their parents and leave, going back to university for the second time, as emptyhanded as he came, just the phone in his pocket and the clothes on his back. He knows Mycroft will have arranged his new rooms with whatever he needs anyway.

He hardly needs to wonder if his new home will be suitable equipped with surveillance paraphernalia, this is Mycroft, so of course it will be. And as if to prove a point, his brother calls when he is settled in, the same routine, just new surroundings.

Sherlock doesn’t care, he does what he is told to do and then goes to bed straight afterwards, staring into the darkness of the room, trying not to think.

He considers the fact that Mycroft probably gets off on this. He has heard signs off it on his brother’s voice, and even if he probably doesn’t wank to his image on the camera while Sherlock is still performing, Mycroft most likely does it as soon as the phone is disconnected.

Sherlock imagines his older brother, the mighty and powerful Mycroft Holmes, always impeccably dressed and stern, sitting in his office, the door locked, people outside oblivious to his actions, wanking off to the image of his younger brother putting on a show for him. He probably has a box of tissues ready in a desk drawer, carefully avoiding any stains to ruin his suit. Mycroft, forever practical, never a hair out of place. Sherlock wishes he could see him doing this, wishes he could rumple his clothes, brush his fingers through his thinning hair, just present him with signs of his own debauchery so others could see. He used to like doing that to Mycroft in the past, relishing in the annoynce it caused him. Will Sherlock ever be given that opportunity again? They have not physically met for months now.

Somethig he also contemplates is how long this arrangement is going to last. A year, Two? For as long as Sherlock is young and beautiful? Forever?

It seems unlikely, but at the same time Mycroft is resolute as well as vindictive, he could very well try keeping some semblance of this arrangement going for an eternity.

The most uncertain part of it all is Sherlock himself. How is he going to cope doing this now that he no longer is sheltered under the rood of their ignorant parents?

This is a big school, hundreds of students as well as staff, teachers, other people hanging around for different purposes. Surely someone will realise something is going on, perhaps even catch him in the act, something? You can’t keep a thing like this going under the noses of this many people.

But a part of him knows that it is perfectly doable, especially if done by someone like Mycroft who has every resource at his disposal to pull it off.

Better to not think about it, just keep things going without contemplating it too much, because if actually anchoring the idea to his mind that this is an arrangement that could go on forever, he is afraid that he will lose it completely. As it is now, he is holding on to the cracks of the foundation that remains of his sanity and he can feel his fingers beginning to slip just the tiniest bit for every day that passes, but he isn’t willing to let go just yet.

He begins to grow paranoid as time passes, because even if he knows that Mycroft can’t possibly have the whole place under surveillance, he remembers that feeling of being observed that he felt through most of last term. He also remembers that drug dealer who handed him the tainted powder that got him to fall asleep and allowed Mycroft to pick him up and bring him back into his clutches.

He keeps wondering if the old drug dealer, the one with the supposed suicide, actually died because of a disagreement with a rival or if his brother somehow arranged for it to happen, as revenge for supplying his little brother with drugs.

He would never have thought it back then, but his opinion of Mycroft has changed over the passing months, the more he thinks about it, the more certain he becomes.

Would Mycroft be willing to kill for him? Quite possibly.
And the fact that he knows that the drug dealer did not commit suicide is highly suspicious under the circumstances.

He tries figuring out how he feels about this new revelation if it should turn out to be true, but to his surprise he can’t say he feels bad about it.

Perhaps he is as depraved as Mycroft himself?

Two brothers without any scruples whatsoever between them, surely that is also the reason why they began sleeping together in the first place, because Sherlock lacked any sort of shame on the subject of seducing his brother and Mycroft just couldn’t resist him?

Bluntly put, Sherlock has aided in the building of the Mycroft he is now suffering under himself. Mycroft of the past was cold and calculating but he would never had dared to so much as put a finger on Sherlock if he hadn’t seductively taunted him to do so.

They both played a high-risk game back then, with Sherlock eventually growing too cocky, and look at where it has landed him. If he wasn’t so numb nowadays, he would berate himself for playing with fire. As it is now, he can’t be bothered to care.

The days keep passing while he studies like a good boy, takes the calls his brother makes and plays the violin that Mycroft has brought along with a new wardrobe, books and a computer. The computer is hardly private of course, it’s to be used for schoolwork, and it holds no true joy to him, so he settles for the violin.

He doesn’t really interact with anyone besides Mycroft on the phone, and that’s hardly interacting, he is doing what he’s told and then Mycroft hangs up, leaving him to wait for the next call.

But then one day something unexpected happens.

Victor returns.

At first it’s so unexpected Sherlock doesn’t know what to do.

It’s on his way leaving a café he frequents to buy coffee before attending morning class and as he turns with the still warm Styrofoam cup of passable beverage in his hand, someone is standing in his path.

As he raises his head in annoyance to sneer at whatever idiot who is blocking his exit, he feels his body going completely cold from shock.

And as that initial feeling dissipates, his second reaction is that he wants to flee.

But Victor just stand there, like a road block, preventing him from escaping, his eyes searching Sherlock’s, actually imploring him to stay without saying it out loud, and that’s when the need to leave is replaced by anger, quickly followed by actual fear that Mycroft is going to get wind of this and come storming all the way from London like a raging bull.

It’s not Sherlock’s fault that Victor is standing here like a spectre in the early morning light, Sherlock didn’t conjure him back, but Mycroft might not realise this and rage against logic is always the winner when it comes to his brother.

Victor recognises his nervousness and there is a hint of understanding in his eyes, as if he knows exactly what Sherlock is thinking.
So instead of saying anything, he just slips him a small note that he presses against his palm, before moving so Sherlock can pass, rush out the door, his heart pounding wildly in his heart as he clutches the note in his hand, hurrying towards class, like he had intended to do in the first place.

He doesn’t even take a sip of his coffee, his thoughts whirling like an avalanche inside his head, his eyes darting around everywhere to see if anyone is observing him.

But everything looks the same, he isn’t approached by anyone and even if he can hardly believe it, there is a chance that this encounter never happened as far as Mycroft is concerned.

It was so brief, less than 60 seconds, then over, Sherlock might actually question if it even happened if it not for the note still burning against his skin as he enters class and slumps down in his seat. His heart is pounding like a frightened bird in a cage, while trying to regain control of himself.

He doesn’t dare to unfold the note until fifteen minutes has passed of the lecture, he does it discreetly, pretending to flip through his notebook, no one looking at him will be able to see what it is that he is doing.

I need to see you. Please, we need to talk. West Road Concert hall, tonight at seven. They’re doing Rachmaninov. I have tickets.

Sherlock actually snorts at this before crumpling the note in anger. Victor can go to hell.

And he firmly believes these words for the duration of the day, anger fighting for dominance when curiosity and actual longing tries to take precedence over his feelings. Fear and worry about Mycroft finding out is of course also at the back of his mind as he sits through his classes, contemplating the note. He can’t even imagine what Mycroft will do if he finds out about this.

But so destructive is his mind set that when afternoon begins to slip into evening, he begins to contemplate how he would go about it if he decided to give Victor the opportunity to explain himself.

Going to a concert isn’t unheard of. Rachmaninov is a plausible cause for attending and Mycroft would not question it necessarily, even if Sherlock hasn’t attended any concerts in a long time.

The difficulty is of course that Sherlock has no idea of the width of Mycroft’s surveillance. If realising that Victor is there, it’s going to blow up in his face spectacularly. And what is it even that he wants to accomplish by seeing Victor again? What’s the point? The man sold him out and left him to fend for himself. That can not be forgiven.

But still, the promise of excitement, to do something under his brother’s formidable nose, is too tempting to resist and as the clock draws close to seven, he decides to go for it, just make a try. So he puts his jacket on and leaves.

He doesn’t get very far before the phone begins to ring.

His brother’s voice sounds suspicious when he asks where Sherlock is headed at this time of the evening.

As casually as he can possible manage, Sherlock tells him the truth, that he is attending a concert, that he needs something to occupy his mind or he risks going mental.

There is a silence while Mycroft contemplates this and Sherlock is almost prepared to walk straight back home as the silence stretches on. But then Mycroft concedes that this might actually do him so good and allows it.

“But straight back home afterwards. And next time, inform me in advance. I don’t like surprises. And if I call, telling you to return, you need to obey my order.”

Sherlock agrees and the call is ended.

As he approaches the concert hall, the same one his brother took him to last autumn, he can feel himself shiver from the coldness of the evening air, as well as with anticipation of what the next few hours will bring.

Chapter Text

That saying that you can never move backwards and expect to find everything to be as you left it, holds some truth to it.

Running into Victor might have jolted a longing in him for something he has missed, but it isn’t Victor himself that he misses. Victor is simply a catalyst and meeting him in the concert hall forces Sherlock to realise this instantly.

It feels like putting on a shirt you have outgrown, it stretches in all the wrong places, feels uncomfortable and makes you wonder why you ever thought this was a good look.

All those small things that annoyed him to some extent even back then, are now magnified and quickly become positively unbearable. The sound of Victor’s nervous giggle, the way his eyes have a tendency to survey his surroundings as if expecting a threat lurking behind every corner, the way he almost grovels at Sherlock’s feet for a second chance, it is all very off-putting and Sherlock begins to consider that coming here has been a huge mistake.

Until the topic that hangs menacingly over their heads is finally brought to the surface and pulled out into the light of exposure.

Mycroft.

Victor is eager to explain himself.

“He threatened me. Basically said that if I didn’t just take his money and made myself scarce, bad things would happen to me. And not only to me but to my dad as well. I know it sounds silly, like a villain from a bad movie, but at the time I really believed him. He had me kidnapped for fuck’s sake! Tied me up in a chair and everything. Told me that no one would so much as raise a finger if I tried telling anyone about this, not the police, not the school, no one. And you know what, he was right! I went straight to the police station to file a report after I was released, and it ended up with me behind bars instead of him, spending the night in a holding cell for being under influence! When I was discharged the next morning, two men in grey suits waited for me, ready to take me to the first available train out of Cambridge. I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to you or even gather any of my belongings, I was simply handed an envelope with cash, a new student ID to a university in Scotland and a train ticket connecting to Aberdeen once I reached London. Then they just put me on the train and left. And once I reached London, the same thing happened all over again. Two new grey suits who escorted me to the second train. The only thing they said was that if I even considered getting off at another station, they would find out and come for me. I know it sounds as if I’m crazy, but I had no choice, Sherlock, I swear it! I was actually scared!”

Sherlock knows Mycroft is fully capable to pull off something like this, it would hardly even be particularly difficult. And yet Sherlock doesn’t know who he is more disappointed with, his brother or this grovelling mess standing in front of him, tears in his eyes, a quiver to his voice, words coming out of him like an outpour.

To Sherlock Victor feels surprisingly pathetic despite knowing just how menacing Mycroft can actually be. He doesn’t doubt that Mycroft must have been deadly serious when threatening Victor, he knows how his brother behaves after all, when scorned.

And yet, standing on the side of the onlooker instead of being the victim, he can’t help but think that Victor looks very pathetic in his obvious misery.

Sherlock looks at the man he sought comfort in a year ago, the one he chose as a replacement of his brother in bed, the true cause for their current rift and his own tortuous predicament.

He knows it is unfair to put the blame on Victor when in reality it is no one but himself who is responsible for this mess. But still, he looks at Victor and wonders why he ever chose his company in the first place. The appeal is long gone, and left is this mess of person who for some reason has decided to return and subsequently puts them both in danger just by showing up.

Because if Mycroft finds out that they are meeting like this, Sherlock can’t even begin to imagine what will happen to either of them.

Meanwhile Victor stares at him deploringly but doesn’t say anything. Then he grabs Sherlock by the arms, causing him to freeze on the spot, forcing them to lock eyes instead of speaking. As if communicating without words was ever a thing they used to do.

But maybe it was?

Sherlock can’t actually remember. It feels like there is lot he doesn’t remember when it comes to Victor and the relationship they once shared. It has all become so inconsequential now.

He can’t even remember why he ever found this to be an appealing substitute for the loneliness he used to suffer from before meeting Victor. When he was still reeling from the void Mycroft had left him in when he went back to London and Sherlock went off to university.

He can’t remember any of this and yet he experienced it twelve months ago and knows the aftermath of those actions every time the phone rings and Mycroft orders him to take his clothes off.

So it isn’t just a figment of some deluded imagination. Victor lived through it as well. And Mycroft too.

He manages to break free from Victor’s hold, suddenly aware of the people around them, beginning to move towards their seats. The concert is soon about to begin and even if it would be nice to just go looking for his seat and then sit in the darkness, letting Rachmaninov wash over him, no more words to be spoken, out of reach from both Mycroft as well as Victor’s pleading eyes, he doesn’t know if he can actually do that, sit immovable among strangers, when Victor has just dropped this veritable bomb in his lap.

So instead he turns the other way and heads for the rest room where the cubicles are helpfully abandoned from other concertgoers, prying ears as well as curious eyes.

He has no idea what sort of surveillance Mycroft has on him and planting a spy among a huge crowd like this would be child’s play, but if that is the case, Sherlock would already have been exposed the second he met up with Victor on the stairs outside, not to mention when standing in the middle of the foyer talking, fully visible for anyone wanting to observe them. They haven’t bothered to hide themselves over the past twenty minutes and Mycroft has not descended upon them like a vengeful Valkyrie, so Sherlock assumes they are actually safe, and his brother remains unaware of this meeting. For now.

Victor, like an idiot, comes to the wrong conclusion when Sherlock drags him into the empty restroom, and like a simpleton he grabs Sherlock’s face with both hands while pushing his head forward to engage in a passionate kiss.

Caught off guard, Sherlock splutters and pushes him off fiercely while backing away.

His back touches the tiles of the wall behind him and he can’t help but feel trapped by this position. In an attempt to remove himself from the feeling of entrapment, he swivels to the left and circles Victor’s perplexed form so they end up in a reverse position, with Victor against the wall instead and himself closer to the exit, ready to make a swift escape if necessary.

“If my brother scared you so much, why are you suddenly back, despite knowing all the risks involved?” he hisses and Victors eyes turn soft and maudlin.

It’s like looking at a textbook case for a someone trying to imitate a person who is overemotional as well as self-pitying. It almost laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that Sherlock knows it’s how Victor truly feels.

Mycroft would positively hate this blatant display of such sentiment; no wonder Victor was a hard pill for his brother to swallow.

Sherlock secretly wonders what exactly Mycroft thought when facing Victor tied to a chair in whatever abandoned location he had opted to use for his kidnapping.

Had he been tempted to do more than simply threaten Victor? Did his fingers itch to deliver some physical harm to his victim? Had he mentioned the true reason for doing what he did? Claiming that Sherlock was his, that Victor had taken something he wasn’t even allowed to touch, or had he simply gone for the worried big brother routine where he pretended not to accept his little brother’s choice in company?

It seems more likely that he would go for the third option, but with Mycroft, one never knows. That’s the intriguing part about him, the reason Sherlock was drawn to him in the first place.

But at the same time Mycroft is also boringly conventional as well, and to risk the exposure of any intimate information doesn’t sound like something he would do.
On the other hand, a few months ago there were a lot of things Sherlock never imagined his brother would be willing to do.

This new vengeful Mycroft is more of a mystery than the old one, his actions irritatingly unpredictable.

Sherlock assumes he could ask Victor himself if he really wants to know what Mycroft gave as his explanation for threating Shrelock's boyfriend, but that’s an unnecessary risk that could potentially reveal what should remain hidden.

So instead he waits for the maudlin mess in front of him to gather himself enough to be able to answer the question Sherlock ponders most of all.

“I simply missed you too much. I just couldn’t live with the knowledge that I was never going to see you again or not be allowed to explain my hasty departure. I mean, you must have wondered about my whereabouts? Worried as well, I assume. I understand your anger, I would have been angry too if the roles had been reversed. You must have thought that I simply abandoned you from one day to the next.”

When Sherlock neither confirms this nor denies it, Victor continues, sensing Sherlock’s displeasure and eagerly trying to turn the situation.

“I finished my degree and I now work at a firm in London. I even have my own flat, a new life, better opportunities to fend for myself. And I haven’t actually heard so much as a word since those grey-suited men put me on that train to Aberdeen. As tme went by and my longing for you became unbearable, I decided to just go for it and reach out again. I even tested the waters a little before finally daring to make proper contact with you. I came here during the summer, using an alias. I even used a disguise if you can believe it!”

Victors laughs at the memory of this, as if it was a particularly entertaining ruse he had pulled off, despite having met Mycroft and actually experienced the seriousness of his threats.

But perhaps the coin hasn’t fully dropped regarding that knowledge. Victor did after all not suffer any more harm than a night spent in a holding cell and being whisked off to another part of the country.

Victor still has no idea what Mycroft is truly capable of, if properly provoked.

“Officially that’s what I am doing now as well, trying to sneak by under an alias," Victor continues. "I live with two so called “mates” while here for a few days. They are unemployed actors and know me only as Hugh Scott. I pay them using only cash, and they pretend that they have known me for years. Your brother has no idea that Hugh Scott is the same person as Victor Trevor and so far, it seems to be working. Nothing has happened to catch his attention, and I think that he might actually either have forgotten about me or decided that his point was made back then and I no longer pose threat.”

Sherlock can’t help but let out an amused snort at this theory, despite the seriousness if they are to be discovered in each other’s company.

“Mycroft forgetting things?” he says as if unable to believe what he’s hearing. “That has never happened for as long as I have known him. Believe me, you are certainly not forgotten. “

But Victor just shrugs and smiles, clearly not listening to the point Sherlock is trying to make.

“Well, he has at least not done anything to indicate that I have broken his rules. I haven’t heard so much as a beep from him or any of his lackeys.”

But Sherlock remains sceptical.

“That doesn’t mean anything. The only reason he hasn’t reached out yet must be because you have somehow managed to fly under his radar with your stupid alias, however unlikely that idea seems. But still, it is the only plausible explanation. But don’t count on being so lucky for long.“

Victor scrutinises him, a question apparently on his tongue regarding Sherlock’s knowledge of his brother’s methods, but then he apparently changes his mind and goes back to the more pressing matter of his own return and the eventuality of a reconciliation between them.

As if that was still an available option.

“Granted, your brother came off as pretty frightening. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like growing up with someone like him. But I think it was more a way of trying to intimidate me than anything truly sinister. I was a clueless student back then, I had no idea how to tackle the situation properly. I’m not as hapless anymore. “

Sherlock rolls his eyes at this.

“It was only a few months ago, not exactly years, Victor. How quickly does a person mature in that short amount of time? Besides, if you came here using a disguise, it tells me that you’re still weary of his actions.”

“I said I had matured, not that I had turned stupid. I’m not risking him coming after me without at least trying to take precautions first. But if looking at it from another perspective, this if rather fun isn’t it? Playing a little hide and seek with your overprotecting big brother? Using disguises, meeting in places where he isn’t likely to find out about it? I find it quite thrilling!”

Victors steps forward and snakes an arm around Sherlock waist but this time he at least doesn’t attempt to kiss him.

“Look. I realise that all of this makes no sense and that you’re probably still upset with me leaving the way I did. I had no choice, bit still. I get it. Especially as I also took his money. But I intend to make up for it, even if it will take me an eternity to convince you.”

Sherlock mentally winces at the phrasing.

Victor always was too romantically inclined for his taste. And now, when he no longer looks at the other man as someone here to save him from his boredom and from Mycroft’s clutches, the words ring false in his ears. He isn’t even certain Victor knows what he is actually saying, he is probably just caught up in the moment and too proud about his own clever stunt.

But then Sherlock remembers the other reason he hanged on for so long to Victor before it all came crashing down.

It wasn’t all about the company.

Victor was an excellent provider of something he stills longs for with far more desire than anything else that can keep his mind occupied.

And while Victor dares to display a hesitant smile on his lips while letting his hands move from Sherlock’s waist up to his back, growing bolder the longer he is allowed to do this without Sherlock protesting, Sherlock’s thoughts are already trying to work out if Victor coming here might actually be a blessing in disguise instead of a threat on the horizon.

He realises that the stakes are infinitely higher now. If Mycroft finds out he doesn’t even dare think about the consequences.

But at the same time, this presents such an irresistible opportunity that he can’t see himself just walking away now that the prospect has been presented to him.

As Victor put it, it all feels quite thrilling when really contemplating it.

He won’t consider engaging in anything sexual with Victor again. That idea actually repels him for some reason and it won’t be done.

But if he manages to keep Victor hanging in a leash for a little while, making him believe that Sherlock will eventually accept his advances, he could in the meantime enjoy the other pleasantries he will demand Victor to provide him with.

A part of him wonders when he became this morally manipulative, caring nothing for the feelings of others and only seeing his own benefits in every arrangement.
But then he pushes these thoughts aside. He did learn from the master after all.

And if Mycroft wouldn’t have jealousy clouding his judgement regarding this particular situation, Sherlock is sure his older brother would actually be somewhat proud of him. Mycroft has after all always tried to hammer in the message of not getting too involved emotionally but instead remaining the calm observer, scheming in the shadows.

Sherlock has never been particularly good at following this advice or even recognising the value of it.

But, now, with Victor Trevor having his fingers trail along the vertebrae of Sherlock’s spine and the temptation of breaking the wheel of status quo that Mycroft has created for him, he realises what opportunities can be made out of this unexpected situation, if he just plays it very skilfully and manages to pull it off without his brother finding out.

The thrill of excitement, the same that hit him when he decided to meet with Victor in the first place, makes itself know once more and it takes less than a few seconds to come to a decision.

He is going to give this a try.

It’s far better than the option, remaining the perpetual slave to his brother’s whims in a never-ending torture experiment. If he is going to run the risk of getting caught, at least he will go down in flames and not die the slow death of monotony.

What he needs to do is to plan this very carefully though and he can hardly do that with Victor pawing all over him, growing bolder by the minute. So instead he puts up a deterring hand against Victor’s chest to prevent him from going any further, but at the same time not putting up too much of a resistance. He doesn’t want to make Victor believe he is totally dismissed after all.

Then he tilts his head to the side in that way that he knows people find endearing as well as a bit coquettish.

“You know, I was under the impression that I was going to attend a concert. I believe you told me you had tickets. So I actually intend to do that.”

And with those words he reaches inside the front pocket of Victor’s jacket where he has seen two tickets sticking out, and he snatches them both out before Victor has the time to react.

Then he waves them in front of Victor’s nose teasingly.

“This has all been very interesting and informative, not to mention quite baffling. I actually think I’ll need some time to myself to process it all. Therefore, I intend to sneak inside before they close the doors, and take advantage of your generosity to listen to some music. In the meantime, you can go home to your hired “mates” and await my call. Unlike you, I have no intention of leave you hanging in uncertainty. “

And with that he turns on his heels and leaves, Victor left behind as if slapped in the face without warning, surprise written all over his features.

Sherlock can hear him call out his name and order him to wait as the door slams shut behind his back and he takes the steps two at the time to put further distance between them.

As he rushes to reach the doors to the venue, he doesn’t look back, his heart hammering in his chest as he makes his way to his seat and slumps down into it just as the light in the auditorium fades and the pianist of the evening walk out on the stage.

In the intermission, fifty minutes later, he wonders if he will be faced with Mycroft calling or Victor waiting for him out in the foyer, but none of this happens and he can actually enjoy the rest of the concert in peace while contemplating this new situation and how he is going to pull it off under Mycroft’s distrustful and watching eyes as well as fooling Victor to do his dirty bidding without getting anything for his troubles.

It is quite the intricate puzzle to ponder, but he hasn’t enjoyed himself this much in months.

Chapter Text

The phone goes off as he is about work his way out from the crowd departing the concert hall.

When Sherlock manages to pick up, Mycroft is unusually brusque in his tone, so most likely he doesn’t really have the time to spare but has still insisted on making the call.

He simply orders for Sherlock to go straight home and seems about to end the call when Sherlock ventures to breach the question how Mycroft actually knows that the concert is over.

“I made a time estimation,” is the first answer, but as if noticing that Sherlock isn’t convinced by this, despite not (probably) being able to see him, he comes with a second answer a moment later after a pointed silence.

“I calculated it by searching the website of the concert venue to get the name of the performer, then gathered information about him and other performances he has made in recent time, adding the difficulty of the particular piece he performed tonight as well as the probable size of the crowd on a place like this, being a well-renowned university city but also being a normal weekday when most people have other obligations, then adding the popularity of the composer versus the age demography of those likely to attend, estimating the time for departing an auditorium in regard to the number of people I came up with versus the size of the place. I’d say my ambition was to not make the call while you were still sitting in your seat, but also not leaving you with enough of a time span to wander off on your own afterwards.”

“That sounds like (obsessively needy, paranoid) ....extensive research,” Sherlock mumbles.

“Having you is a full-time occupation of its own.”

“You could always quit.”

There is a silence on the other end before Mycroft answers.

“No. I really couldn’t” he finally says before hanging up.

There is no additional call later that evening, so Sherlock goes to bed, aware that Mycroft could be watching at any moment but just as well being busy with other things. His voice sounded pressed for time, most likely he was doing something work-related but still insisted on making the call, ordering him to go straight back home.

This thought sends an unexpected thrill of satisfaction through his body. Mycroft’s work is his life, and yet, if he made the time to interrupt it just to check in on Sherlock, that’s a sign of significance, if there ever was one, that Sherlock still seems to matter to him as something beyond being a toy to be played with and exploited.

It speaks of a need.

And as if confirming this theory, the phone goes off in the middle of the night.

This doesn’t happen that often. Mycroft is not, like Sherlock is, a nocturnal creature. He likes to sleep, when given the opportunity he takes it.

But it has happened a few times in the past that he has made the call in the early hours of the morning and those moments don’t really differ from the others, neither in length of time nor what is demanded of Sherlock.

Sherlock has sometimes wondered if these calls happen because his brother is awake for some specific reason and might just want to check in on his captive, or if he has woken in the middle of the night from a worried dream and might simply need some sort of relief.

Without sufficient data it’s impossible to tell. But given the history of Mycroft sleeping with his hand possessively thrown over Sherlock’s body and still waking up all sweaty, horror in his eyes from some unspeakable nightmare, it is a good guess that he still suffers from those.

This time it’s 02:35 when the call comes, and Sherlock is hunched over his desk looking at a few slides through the microscope he has managed to procure from the science lab.

He is fully absorbed in this activity but still stiffens at the sound of the phone going off, the way he always does, his body going rigid, his hands stopping in mid-air, before the frozen position is jolted into action and he reaches for the object that represents his captivity and that keeps him at his brother’s beck and call.

The procedure this time is intricate in its details and leave him panting for air as well as pent-up lust with no opportunity for release.

But a huge difference is that now he has managed to stay focused with his newly developed plan brewing at the back of his mind while performing whatever Mycroft is demanding of him over the phone.

It helps somewhat even if the physical sensation doesn’t lessen just because his mind is engaged with something else.

That is usually his surviving mechanism anyway, focusing on something other than his brother’s voice giving him orders and performing them to his satisfaction.

But closing his brain off completely or having it buzz with eager anticipation are two completely different states and he can’t tell which gives him more aid in getting through the call. At least the anticipation helps him to segue on to the topic of his cunning plan instead of just retreating back to the bed, staring out into nothingness as he usually does.

There is a moment when Sherlock wonders if his brother is actually fondling himself while giving his instructions, there is a hitch to his voice that would indicate it, but nothing else happens and then Sherlock is brought to the edge of release as per usual and the game ends.

This usually means that Mycroft is about to terminate the call, he seldom lingers on when the mission is over and done with, most likely hurrying off to satisfy himself or simply to go on doing whatever he was doing before deciding to make the call.

So it’s now or never, if Sherlock is going to say anything.

“Guess who I ran into last night,” he says as casually as possible without rousing suspicion.

There is strained sigh at the other end. Clearly aroused then and annoyed that Sherlock has managed to prolong the farewell process by talking. By asking a question no less, that requires Mycroft’s participation.

“You know I hate guessing games, Sherlock,” he drawls with infinite disdain dripping at every syllable.

But Sherlock isn’t deterred.

“Considering the very limited number of people I know and would bother to mention having run into, I wouldn’t call it much of a guessing game.”

This is bordering on disobedience and for a moment a silence stretches between them that would indicate that Mycroft is either considering the information he has just been given or that he is stunned by Sherlock’s insubordination and tries to come up with a way to tackle that streak of his brother’s rebelliousness down.

Apparently it is the former option, because when he does finally speak, Mycroft’s voice is cold and hard.

“Victor Trevor,” he says and it is more a statement than an actual question.

“The one and only,” Sherlock confirms.

Another prolonged silence begins but before Mycroft has the change to go all nuclear with this piece of news, Sherlock intervenes by talking himself.

“Apparently he is here visiting some friends of his. Has been on several occasions, both over the summer as well as during the fall. Not even once did he consider come looking for me or getting in contact. That we ran into each other last night was an unexpected coincidence. A very unpleasant one for him if I am to go by the way his whole body froze and he tried to look away as if not seeing me at first.”

He pauses to let this piece sink in before continuing.

“He was quite displeased I would say, and it makes me wonder if that was due to something you did or something I did. Considering the way he very reluctantly spoke to me before mumbling something about needing to go join his friends, clearly not wanting to spend so much as another second in my presence, I would be inclined to believe it was because of me.”

This is bound to cause seeds of confusion to grow inside Mycroft’s head right now.

The presence of Victor Trevor in close vicinity of Sherlock is one unpleasant angle he must be considering, but Victor’s discomfort with seeing his former boyfriend, combined with Sherlock’s openness about telling Mycroft about it, as well as the the added bonus of Sherlock admitting that Victor’s uneasiness could actually be on account of him rather than Mycroft’s threats, is a situation never before experienced by either of them.

Sherlock is seldom this candid with information, especially information that reveals him to be anything less than the fabulous creature he considers himself to be.

It is practically unheard of.

Unless someone has been forcing him to see the folly of his ways over the past couple of months, rendered him capable of admitting that he is to blame for the whole situation they are now all trapped in, for as long as Mycroft feels the need to remind him of this and punish him for it.

Sherlock has actually considered the idea that he should be repentant and feel something more than just sorry for himself, but so far, he isn’t convinced that this has occurred.

Most likely he is unsalvageable.

But to Mycroft, with his compromised glasses of sentiment that he uses to look at anything regarding his brother, this has perhaps not yet been realised.

He doesn’t see the extent of Sherlock’s corruption and inability to be remorseful. He probably thinks that if sufficiently punished, Sherlock will eventually be sorry for his actions and take responsibility.

And this could very well be that time if going by the type of information Sherlock is feeding him with.

But Mycroft is also a suspicious man by nature and does not accept anything at face value alone when presented to him.

And Victor is a sensitive subject, still very much a sore issue between them despite having been gone from Sherlock’s side for a long time now. Mycroft might just as well dismiss all of this and turn straight to anger instead, hissing threats in Sherlock’s ear while vowing to let hell fire rain down over Victor’s head.

The silence that is stretching between them grows even longer as Mycroft seems to consider this piece of news from all angles, most likely staring at Sherlock on his surveillance screen at the same time, trying to assess what he should be doing next.

Then he returns, voice still steely and cold.

“Well, that should tell you that he never was a person worthy of your time.”

It’s surprisingly the nicest thing Mycroft has said to him in ages and it catches Sherlock off guard for a second because it’s so very unexpected.

Mycroft as a rule doesn’t give compliments. According to him they are usually hollow expressions often unrelated to the truth and serve no other purpose than to flatter a person that doesn’t really need it.

But with that being said, it isn’t totally unheard of for him to have complimented Sherlock occasionally in the past, especially about some physical attribute that is out of Sherlock's own control but still feels rather nice to hear.

Mycroft doesn’t give him praise for other things, like his personality, his intelligence or his craftiness, things that in reality are more the essence of him rather than the silky curls on his head or his firmly shaped body.

But maybe it’s because Mycroft doesn’t envy him those attributes as he has the same traits himself, far more developed than Sherlock’s and therefore no reason to compliment as they are subpar to his own.

Instead he appreciates the aesthetic beauty Sherlock represents that Mycroft isn’t blessed with to the same extent, so occasionally he makes an off-hand remark about his little brother’s appearance in an admiring tone.

Maybe that’s all those occurrences mean to someone like Mycroft, an expression of envy wrapped in the disguise of a compliment. It’s yet another one of the myriads of subjects they never really talk about.

What Mycroft says about Victor not being worthy of Sherlock’s time is not a compliment per se, it could just as well indicate a “I told you so!” element to it, as well as pointing out the foolishness of Sherlock ever putting his trust and love in Victor in the first place.

But at the same time, it is far more kind than anything Mycroft has said to him for a very long time. It has the promise of Mycroft perhaps beginning to waiver in his decision to continue with this power play for much longer, it has the promise of Mycroft even actually nurturing the idea of forgiving him.

So instead of most likely ruin the delicate moment that hangs between them, Sherlock doesn’t reply to this, but instead waits for the moment to pass. He has plenty of time to contemplate this later.

Instead he acts as if he hasn’t heard Mycroft’s words and keeps his tone of voice steady when speaking.

“Anyway, I just wanted to let you know. That he is here. But he isn’t with me. And he never will be again, if last night was any indication.”

“Do you wish that he would?” There is a sharpness to Mycroft’s voice and Sherlock can practically see him narrow his eyes in hostility.

“No.”

“Good.”

Then Mycroft ends the call.

The first bait has been laid, the issue of Victor’s apparent presence here explained without rousing a deadly missile attack from his brother.

However lucky Victor has managed to be until now, it would never have lasted. Victor isn’t particularly skilful in the art of flying under the radar of someone with Mycroft’s resources, and it is better if Victor’s presence is explained this way rather than Mycroft finding out on his own.

There is still the possibility that Mycroft will reach out to Victor and threaten him for returning, that aspect is out of Sherlock’s hands, but perhaps Mycroft will let buried dogs remain where they are, as long as Sherlock continues to show no interest in his old lover and keeps doing what Mycroft tells him to do.

Sherlock feels like he is actually off to good start.

And yet, he can’t help but feel less happy about it than he had initially foreseen.

It might be Mycroft’s unexpected choice of words when talking about Victor not being worthy of Sherlock’s time, and yet Sherlock should not allow himself to be tricked into fooling himself that Mycroft is perhaps growing soft for some reason. Sherlock is after all sitting naked on his bed with a fading erection, goosebumps appearing on account of the chilly air of the early morning hour, played like a marionette for his brother’s pleasure while constantly under his watchful eye.

Mycroft isn’t going soft, it’s Sherlock who is growing used to this. And he needs to remember this if he is ever going to be able to pull his scheme off.

Confident in the knowledge that he has nothing to feel bad about, that this is just him rebelling against a self-appointed tyrant, he puts his nightgown on and gets back to his desk to finish working with the slides.

The clock on his phone says it’s now 03:20 and outside it has started to rain.

**********

After waiting for almost a week, nothing out of the ordinary happening, just the usual content of schoolwork and the phone calls from Mycroft that come at all hours of the day, it feels like he should try finding out if his plan is going to fly or if it will crash and burn at the first attempt.

Mycroft hasn’t made any indications regarding Victor and his continuing existence to live and prosper.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that some threat hasn’t been made, Sherlock is hardly privy to such information as Mycroft sticks strictly to his routine when calling, even if the number of times when he is beginning to sound slightly out of breath himself, has increased.

It’s probably wearing him down as well, this arrangement.

Sherlock can’t even see the point of it anymore, he has been sufficiently punished now and what sort off pleasure can Mycroft possibly get out of this, if he has to finish every session by masturbating as soon as the call is ended?

That can’t be very beneficial for anyone, not to mention very unpractical. Just imagine the amount of tissues and handkerchiefs required for this purpose.
He almost snickers at the notion of Mycroft hot and bothered at his office, suddenly realising that he has run out of tissues to wipe himself clean with.

Well, serves him right if that was to happen, no one told him to keep this personal vendetta going for as long as it has!

As he can’t be sure what, if anything, Mycroft has decided to do about Victor, he decides to take his problem-solving skills to the test by figuring out where Victor is currently residing and then send him a message without Mycroft noticing.

Victor mentioned having a new life in London as well as working there, so Sherlock uses the computer in the public library to look him up.

Apparently there are fifteen men by the same name residing in London at the moment but luckily for Sherlock some further searches lands him on the company website of Dent, Livingston and Matheson Inc. that have pictures of their employees and Victor, hair nicely parted to the left, a white shirt and a confident smile, stares back at him from the screen.

There is phone number as well as an e-mail address to reach him through. But using any these where it could be easily traced back to him feels too risky, especially as he has no idea what Mycroft’s intentions are regarding Victor.

So instead he memorises the number, scribbles it down on a piece of paper along with a message, while sitting in class during the afternoon.

Then, as class is later dismissed, he intentionally bumps into the quiet girl with the glasses and the hunched body language that he knows has been sitting at the back of the class doodling Sherlock’s surname combined with her own first name since the beginning of term like an adolescent teenager.

He apologises profusely for his clumsiness and then pretends that his phone must have stopped working from the fall it took to the floor when he bumped into her.

She is barely articulate in her efforts to communicate how sorry she is about this, despite the fault being entirely his and they both know it. It wouldn’t surprise him if she somehow manages to convince herself into believing that she was the one who caused them to collide and there is a mixture of apologies, stammering sentences that die out without ending and some other incoherent combination of words that he doesn’t even make the effort to decipher.

The result is that she is very eager to somehow make amends while he tries to act like no harm is done.

Except....Well, there is that text of a rather urgent nature that he was about to send, but now....

He looks down on his phone that in reality is working perfectly fine and is simply turned off, his fingers covering the screen so she can’t properly see it, trying to bring it back to life without succeeding.

Time is of essence as Mycroft has strictly forbidden him to turn the phone off under any circumstances, but if this is done quickly he might actually pull it off without his brother noticing.

If not, he is sure Mycroft is perfectly willing to spice up the already extensive routine of torture by adding yet another feature for him to endure.

Naturally Stammering girl, as he began calling her when planning this, offers him to use her phone but alas, he is in a hurry, already running late...could she possible send it for him?

Practically stumbling over her own feet in her eagerness to be of assistance, she accepts and he presses his note in her sweaty hand before rewarding her with what passes as his best effort of a warm smile while in reality feeling nothing but indifference as he excuses himself and dashes off, pressing the start button of his phone to turn it back on again, fervently hoping that Mycroft hasn’t tried reaching him while it was switched off.

Without turning around to check for himself, he knows that Stammering girl is doing exactly what he has told her to do. Probably with an insipid grin on her face.
Normal people, how do they get by on an everyday basis if fooled this easily?

Mycroft could probably tell him all about it if he was to ask him, he has built his whole career around that standpoint after all.

Estimating the time it will take Victor to figure out who it is that has tried to reach him by decoding the message, putting into account that Victor might not check his work phone every day if not actually being at work, and then the preparations being made for them to actually meet, he is willing to give this first attempt three days before moving on to a new effort.

But as he walks into class the next day, Stammering girl is already waving at him from her seat at the back of the room, a newly developed happiness on her features as well as an eagerness that tells him that a result has come to fruition much faster than expected.

Someone is eager then, he muses as he makes his way over to her seat to see what sort message Victor has sent him, while smiling indulgently towards her, giving her the opportunity the smell his after shave while leaning up close, reading what it says on her screen.

An there it is again, that tingle of anticipation, the feeling he has actually been longing for ever since first experiencing it.

This has the promise of becoming awfully entertaining and he tells himself to get used to this feeling, he expects to experience it more frequently from now on.

Chapter Text

It turns out, flying under the radar, is easier than he would have expected when he has found a way to do it. And to his surprise, Mycroft doesn’t seem to suspect a thing.

He asks Victor if he has been contacted by anyone or experienced anything suspicious since they started seeing each other, but Victor assures him that he hasn’t, and they scratch their heads a little at that, because it seem unexpected, but then they adjust to Mycroft perhaps not being as omnipotent as he pretends to be, and move on. T

hey did after all manage to pull the wool over big brother’s eyes a year ago as well, he didn’t find out about their relationship until Sherlock made it abundantly clear what he was up to.

Mycroft continues to call almost every day.

He asks some pointed questions occasionally about what Sherlock has been doing if he hasn’t been at home when he is supposted to be, but otherwise, nothing is out of the ordinary and his focus seems to be on continuing with his game of humiliation.

But the whole thing is beginning to lose it’s effect now. Sherlock manages to zoom out long enough to not bother about being abused, the physical aches he suffers become meaningless, he uses most of his time thinking about other things.

This new game with Victor, meeting in clandestine places, under disguise, passing messages in the most imaginative ways possible, keeps his interest going for four whole weeks before it all comes to a screeching end.

Keeping Victor’s wandering hands at bay is bothersome in itself, but as the allure of some much sought-after white powder, dangling in front of Sherlock’s eyes like a treat he has to earn, things escalate and when both their patience snaps at the same time, Sherlock finds himself in yet another lockdown, as if the one he is currently having with Mycroft isn’t enough.

Victor isn’t willing to provide anything unless Sherlock is willing to allow him to touch, caress and taste his body.

The game they have been playing up until that moment falls to pieces immediately when it seems that Victor isn’t as stupid as Sherlock thought, and can recognise a trap when he sees one.

“I lived with you after all, Sherlock, I know your craving for illicit substances better than most. I didn’t put myself at risk to provide you with drugs if I’m not getting anything in return. I had naturally hoped that a spark of our former flame might have been strong enough to be reignited, but I guess I was wrong. But if I can’t have your love, at least I can have your body.”

Sherlock snorts at this frankly moronic assumption.

“Why would I agree to that?”

Victor allows a smile to play on his lips, he is annoyingly confident although the reason for it escapes Sherlock at the moment.

“Because you seem to think that I am your new go-to source for drugs, and I might be, but it’s going to come with a price tag.”

Sherlock groans because why must everyone suddenly be so difficult and demanding?

Victor takes a grip of his jaw and tilts his head close enough for his breath to ghost over his face.

“You’re quite the little cock-tease you know. But if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past year, it’s this: you and your brother are the looniest people to walk in a pair of shoes, but I won’t let the two of you dictate what I should and shouldn’t do. One of you is enough and in all honestly, he is the scary one, whereas you can be a handful but at least I won’t end up in a ditch by talking to you.”

Don’t say that, Sherlock dryly mutters but doesn’t voice out loud while he recoils from Victor’s grip and takes a few steps back.

“And it wouldn’t bother you to trade drugs for sex?" he says instead. "Sex you used to get for free but is now not going to pay for?”

He want this to sting, but Victor remains undisturbed.

“At least you’re being honest about it now. I would rather get something than nothing, and if a line here and some pills there is what’s going to provide your body beneath my touch, so be it. It’s not the end of the world you know, it’s a good deal. I could be very cross with you from keeping me lingering for four bloody weeks, coming here every other day, keeping this cloke and dagger operation going just because your loony of a brother can’t find out about us. But I ‘m not cross. Not yet, Because I know you, Sherlock and I know you’re worth the trouble. To some extent...”

“It’s more for your effort than mine that were going through all the precautions you know,” Sherlock begins but is immediately cut off by Victor who rolls his eyes.

“And now we’re back to lying again apparently," he says dryly. "Don’t try to fool me, Sherlock. You wouldn’t bother with any of this if it didn’t worry you as well. I don’t know what sort of twisted hold your brother has on you, but I know you well enough to realise that you’re just as scared of attracting his attention as I used to be.”

Used to be? Past tense?”

“Well, like I said that evening at the concert hall, I think he has moved on, or perhaps I have grown up sufficiently to no longer feel intimidated by older brothers unwilling to let people date their younger siblings. It’s all very old-fashioned anyway, I don’t know why he even cares so much. ”

Because it used to be him sticking his cock in every orifice of my body and he is very jealous of anyone else trying to supplant him in that role. Even if he apparently is never going to be doing it himself ever again.

He doesn’t say this out loud of course, he isn’t sure Victor would even believe him.

But Victor is right about one thing.

It is probably Sherlock who is the most frightened one out of the two of them.

Victor might be clever in some aspect, like not letting Sherlock take advantage of his libido just to get his hands on drugs without some sort of offer in return. But he is apparently still clueless to what Mycroft is actually capable of doing if thoroughly provoked. Despite having experienced it to some extent. Memory seems to be a short-lived thing.

Sherlock on the other is still reeling from the experience, even if he has to agree that what he is doing right now, playing with fire along with Victor who is gladly supplying the matches, could indicate that Mycroft’s lesson hasn’t been particularly successful.

But Sherlock knows he has this weakness, this difficulty in saying no when an opportunity is staring him straight in the face, and for now, the promise of chemical stimulation plunged into his blood stream with the aid of a needle, is singing with a louder voice than whatever common sense he ever possessed.

“And what is it you want from me exactly?” he finally sighs, aware of the time running out. He needs to get going before Mycroft grows suspicions and begins to look more closely at his activities. Or that dreaded phone goes off and reveals everything to Victor’s, no doubt baffled ears.

Victor doesn’t push when he senses how agitated Sherlock is becoming. Instead he keeps his calm exterior and tone of voice. He’s talking like he would be if addressing a spooked horse.

“As much as you willing to give me. The more you give, the more generous I become. Keep that in mind and I’m sure we can come to an arrangement, sweetie.”

Sherlock actually grinds his teeth in chagrin.

Damn it! This wasn’t how things were supposed to go.

He doesn’t know how far he is willing to go sexually with Victor, preferably nowhere at all, but this is his only chance. He can’t go looking for a dealer, not anymore. Victor is, however ironic that may sound, his best option. Victor will provide good stuff as well as safe products. He won’t tell anyone about it and he won’t put any judgement into it, won’t go telling Mycroft and he knows Sherlock well enough to know what he likes.

It’s just that tiny detail of payment that unfortunately makes it all so much more difficult.

But it really shouldn't be such a hardship. He has slept with Victor on numerous occasions, it's far better to do it with him than with a stranger. But how come it doesn't it feel like it? Why is he so averse to the very thought of Victor coming anywhere near him?

“I’ll think it over and get back to you," he finally says and turns his back to stride out of the small nook above the library where they have met this time around, a well hidden place shrouded in obscurity, the place where those looking for outdated maps of agricultural landscapes in Devon come to take their pick.

There’s hardly a screaming need for that, so they have remained undisturbed for the whole duration of time their meeting has lasted.

Observing the state of the place while out scouring for locations, Sherlock knows it will remain unvisited long after they both have left. That's good to keep in mind for future reference, but hardly the place to engage in any sexual activities. Unless Victor has turned into a more quiet participant than he used to be.

“You do that, Sherlock” he hears Victors soft-spoken voice from behind his back as he leaves, but he resists the temptation to turn to glare at him despite the strong urge to do so.

Damn Victor and his demands, he thinks as he steps out of the reading hall and then continues down the stairs towards the exit.

As he crosses the courtyard, still in a huff, large flakes of snow begin to fall and he burrows himself deeper into his scarf and coat.

In his pocket, Mycroft’s phone begins to ring and Sherlock mumbles into the receiver that he is on his way home and will be ready and available in fifteen minutes tops.

*

He never gets the chance to consider what to do about Victor more closely, because as he finally reaches his room, hands cold and his curls damp from the snow, someone is waiting for him as he opens the door.

It’s Mycroft, sitting on the bed, impeccably dressed in a chequered suit, a warm winter coat and gloves forming around the handle of a distinguished chestnut coloured umbrella, still damp from the weather outside.

So, he hasn’t been here for long then.

As Sherlock opens the door to hurry inside, their eyes lock instantly and Sherlock freezes, his hand still on the doorknob, halfway inside, but not fully yet.

It feels like his heart is actually stopping as he stares into Mycroft’s cold blue eyes that at staring right back at him. Because the look in those eyes tell him everything.

Mycroft knows.

Chapter Text

For a brief second Sherlock considers just turning around and walking out again, run as fast as he can and not look back.

But deep down he knows it’s futile.

He has nowhere to go and will not get very far.

Being someone who abhors physical strains himself, Mycroft uses the aid of long-reaching arms by employing others to do the metaphorical chasing of him. Sherlock wouldn’t even last a day.

Besides, this looks awfully staged anyway, Mycroft has not simply showed up here without making preparations for whatever eventuality Sherlock might be subjected to.

To test that theory, he turns and reaches for the door handle, throwing it open with full force. And as expected, he is faced with the solid form of two men in grey suits preventing his escape, not moving a muscle, just standing there staring into the space behind him, waiting for him to make a move.

He realises the pointlessness in even trying to provoke a reaction, so instead he just bangs the door shut in their faces and turns to face danger in the form of his silently waiting brother instead.

“So, here we are again. You versus me. I must say I appreciate the novelty of actually having you in the room for once, as it was growing quite dull communicating only by phone.”

Mycroft remains quiet but Sherlock can tell that angers is running through every pore of his body right now, the white knuckles around the handle of his umbrella being a clear indicator of this, despite his face not moving so much as a muscle.

Sherlock saunters up to him but stops a short distance away, just out of reach if his brother suddenly decides to put that umbrella to good use. He has come to expect almost anything by now.

“I told Victor that flying under your radar would prove to be almost impossible. I partly blame myself for pretending that it could be done. I seldom fall victim to wishful thinking, but the mind-numbing monotony that my life has turned into as of late, must have made me susceptible to such weakness.”

When Mycroft still doesn’t rise to the bait, he loses his patience.

“Oh come on! I know you’re just itching to lash out. You did after all do nothing but crow about the repercussions that you would hail upon me if I disobeyed your orders. So here it is, your chance to put words into action and prove it. “

He begins the pace the room, throwing his arms up in the air while continuing to talk. He can feel frustration pulsating with every movement he makes. He knows how futile it is to waste time explaining himself, and yet, he can’t resist the temptation to try it anyway.

“For your information, it isn’t what it looks like, not this time. Not that you would care to believe me of course, you never do. But if there is still someone willing to listen inside that stone-cold façade you present to the world, he reached out to me!”

Mycroft remains motionless. He resembles a statue more than a human being. Sherlock gives him a quick from the corner of his eye as he passes, before continuing to talk.

“I never asked him to come looking for me, and I haven’t given into any of his wishes. No once!”

This finally earns him a reaction, not overtly visible , but at least Mycroft’s lips are moving even if the rest of his face is still closed off.

“Then what, pray tell me, have you been doing, while sneaking around like a traitorous couple, thinking that I wouldn’t notice? How long has it been going on?”

Sherlock throws his arms up in the air in exasperation.

“We haven’t done anything really. Just talking and...”

Liar!

Despite knowing Mycroft and being fully aware what overwhelming rage that simmers beneath the surface of his seemingly frosty exterior, Sherlock can’t help but flinch at the force of this outburst. He completely loses his ability to pick up the thread of conversation to continue, he just stares at Mycroft who stares right back, his eyes alight with absolute fury.

Seeing this, Sherlock suddenly grows angry himself.

“You always twist every situation, so it suits your purposes. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not because you have already decided what everything looks like, based on your own perception of reality tainted by your infernal jealousy. It’s quite ridiculous, not to mention delusional, but there is no point trying to change your mind or make you see reason. You simply lack the ability to acknowledge that there are things you don’t know everything about.”

This results in Mycroft rising from the bed and stepping up to his younger brother, invading his personal space. Involuntarily Sherlock takes a few steps back, thrown by the unexpectedness of the movement.

“The only one delusional in this room is you, Sherlock. If you even for second want me to believe that Victor Trevor has suddenly made a reappearance in your life and that he hasn’t so much as made an attempt to pick up where the two of you left off, you must take me for a fool. Given the knowledge I have regarding your history with him, it is frankly ludicrous that you would have me believe a single word of it.”

Like a snake lashing out, he suddenly grabs a hold of Sherlock’s arm and drags his whole body towards him.

“Show me your arms,” he demands and it feels like a slap to the face as Sherlock, despite having wished for the plunge of a needle in his arm for a long time now, didn’t consider the fact that Mycroft still views him as an unreliable junkie. He has no fresh track marks to show, haven’t had them for a while, and yet, Mycroft apparently believes otherwise.

“No.”

He tries to wrestle his arm away from Mycroft’s vicelike grip, and when not succeeding, he delivers a well-aimed kick to his brother’s shin instead, to force him to release his arm.

This earns him a forceful blow with the umbrella over his thigh and he actually howl out in pain. That howl is nothing compared to the absolute venom coming from Mycroft’s mouth next.

“You conniving little slut. I had secretly wished for you to have learned your lesson during these past couple of months, but it seems that stripes once earned never fully vanishes however much one tries to erase them.”

Sherlock, still having his fingers clinging to the spot on his thigh where the umbrella hit him, immediately retaliates.

“That thing you call "teaching me a lesson" was all about you taking the opportunity to torture me under the excuse of lecturing your weak little brother, the unfaithful little junkie who dared to choose someone else’s cock but yours to entertain himself with. Isn’t that how you look upon this whole experience? No matter that I have earned my repentance long ago, you still treat me like I am no more worthy than a treacherous whore that keeps needing to be taught his place, not even deserving to have a life of his own, but safer to keep under constant surveillance unless he goes off whoring again at the first opportunity presenting itself.”

Mycroft rewards him with a nasty grin, showing his teeth.

“Not certain that I could have summarized the situation more accurately than you managed yourself. Spot on, I’d say!”

And as if pushing a button, all the built-up pressure that has been piling up inside of him for a long time now, so far back as a year, Sherlock finally, and quite unexpectedly, becomes to one who ends up losing whatever remains of his composure, putting all his might behind the deliverance as he gives his brother a forceful punch straight to his jaw.

There is a crunching sound accompanying this movement, but as Sherlock is still looking at the spot where his fist connected to Mycroft’s face, his older brother isn’t stunned into immobility but instead launches himself at Sherlock with full impact and they both stumble to the floor in a heap of arms and legs kicking and tearing at each other.

Sherlock manages to bite Mycroft in the shoulder while Mycroft forces the air out of Sherlock’s lungs by throwing himself with all his might across his brother’s ribcage. Scratches, kicks, punches and bites, it all becomes a bit of blur, the only consistency being the pain they both suffer through.

The fight doesn’t last for long, despite its vicious nature.

Mycroft is both heavier and taller, he has his umbrella as a weapon and a couple of well-aimed hits against Sherlock’s smaller frame earns him the upper hand quickly enough.

As they fall apart, Mycroft panting, but in full control, Sherlock is far worse for wear, his shirt more or less in shreds, bleeding a little from a few scratches.

He feels like he has finally reached the end of his tether.

Despite this hardly being the most brutal fight he has ever been a part of, the emotional impact is so much worse than anything he has previously experienced. It feels like every stroke and punch that is delivered between them is at the same time ripping to shreds whatever is left of their relationship, not only as a couple, but as brothers as well. Once this night is over there is bound to be nothing left to mend between them.

And to his surprise, this realisation actually saddens him, hurting far more than any of the physical injuries he has been inflicted with.

The idea of what they have become has hit him once previously, on that day when Mycroft began this game of calling him on the phone to humiliate him. The situation had seemed rather bleak already back then, but now, there is without a doubt a chasm so wide it seems impossible to bridge ever again.

And despite feeling like all of this should be obvious to see, not just by him, but by Mycroft as well, it apparently isn’t. Because Mycroft is black in the eyes from smouldering rage and without hesitation he delivers one final kick to Sherlock’s side to keep him down on floor.

Then he begins to unbuckle his belt.

With rising horror Sherlock realises what’s about to happen but another part of him has difficulty scrapping up the energy to care or do anything about it.

His entire body aches by now and Mycroft actually doesn’t look that comfortable either, a huge blue welt about to form beneath his left eye.

But he is still trapped in that uncontrollable rage that blinds him to anything else, and as the belt has come off in one fluid motion, the ending of it, the one with buckle of metal attached, swings through the air and hits Sherlock across his upper arm, tearing a huge gash across his delicate skin.

Blood immediately begins to flow and this momentarily stops Mycroft in his tracks. He never felt very comfortable at the sight of actual blood, being the more squeamish out of the two. The belt is still hanging from his hand but he doesn’t raise it to deliver the next blow just yet.

Sherlock lets his head fall down between his shoulders, feeling like a defeated animal, no fight left in him, just ready to surrender to whatever fate awaits him.

He thinks about the pointlessness of it all, about the times Mycroft has forced him to bring himself to the brink of completion just to deny him the pleasure of release, only to humiliate him. He thinks about the hurt expression in Mycroft’s eyes when he told him about Victor Trevor for the first time. He thinks about the past summer, about Cressida and Mycroft standing above his body in the hallway of their parent’s home, threatening him. He thinks about the relief of drugs pumping through his veins, giving him reprieve from this vicious circle of guilt, lies and deceit. He thinks about Mycroft’s possessive hand on his body when they used to share his bed, and how wishes he could have that hand back, to have all of this made undone. Just go back to the way things were before, when nothing had yet torn them apart.
One glance at both of their appearances is enough to confirm what a literal mess this has become.

While raising his head to look at his brother, Sherlock finally speaks the words he realises he should have said a long time ago.

“I’m so very tired of this game, Mycroft. I think you need to cut me lose. For your own benefit as well as mine. Because I’m not sure I can take any more of it. Literary. And I’m not sure you can either.”

He can actually see something breaking inside his brother, deep inside his eyes, the fire that raged just a second earlier dies down, like flames doused by a bucket of cold unrelenting reality.

Mycroft’s arm lowers and the belt slips out of his fingers and falls to the floor.

His eyes seem impossibly deep and Sherlock actually can’t decipher what he’s thinking. When he does finally decide to speak, the words are very unexpected.

“You and I, we are not like everyone else. It is not in our nature to wallow in the quicksand of feelings that normal people choose to allow themselves to be dictated by. That’s because we made the decision long ago that we were not going to be victims to such vulnerability. And yet, here we are, fighting it out as if wanting to draw out the very last drop of blood from the other’s bleeding body.”

He seems to wince a little as his eyes fall on the bleeding arm of his little brother, proving his point, before he continues to speak.

“You hurt me like no one else has ever managed to do and most likely you will keep that privilege for as long as one of us is still breathing. You have caused me an infinite amount of pain over this past year and my immediate instinct was to retaliate in the same fashion, causing you to hurt as much as I had. This has unfortunately only resulted in both of us falling even deeper down the well of utter despair, becoming victims to the very thing we promised ourselves never to be. “

Sherlock stares at his brother, really looks at him in a way he hasn’t for a very long time, peeling of the layers of the impenetrable persona that is Mycroft Holmes, the man he present to the world, to Sherlock as well, the one he has been more or less throughout their whole lives.

He is the one in constant control, the one who never waivers. He who can grow infinitely angry, jealous, possessive and even dangerous but still always keeps command of the situation, who knows the next step even before anyone else has realised what’s going on. It used to irritate Sherlock immensely while growing up, his main goal was always to rattle his brother’s cage to the best of his ability.

This insufferable, oppressive, over-bearing tormentor of an older brother. The one who at the same time has loved him like no one else has, with a never flickering steadfastness, always holding on to that feeling despite everything Sherlock has put him through.

Not without showing his displeasure of course, not without punishing Sherlock for his actions, retaliating as well as he could, but still never willing to just let go and simply leave Sherlock to his own devices, letting him drown in the quagmire of his own making.

It has been Mycroft’s hand that has reached out to keep his brother’s head above the surface and to Sherlock’s utter surprise, it has never been evident to him until this very moment that this has always been the case. Mycroft’s hand has never been willing to let go, not so much from a sense of possessiveness as out of true genuine care.

While coming to this surprising realisation, Sherlock can hear Mycroft clearing his voice before continuing to talk.

“I think you might be right in that we can’t continue down this path that we have paved for ourselves. It will ruin us, far more than what I initially thought embarking on our relationship in the first place would ever do. I always feared that by succumbing to my urges, letting myself fall prey to your tricks of allurement all those years ago, it would lead to the destruction of us. I always saw what we did as a weakness that should never have been succumbed to. That such a step would in the end ruin everything irredeemably and that the line should never have been crossed. But I realise now that it wasn’t the love we allowed ourselves to feel for each other, that destroyed us. It was the hate that began to fester when our relationship became challenged. Too much resentment, anger, jealousy and pettiness. Those are the destructive elements of this relationship, not what we initially had.”

There is a sadness to his voice as he speaks and Sherlock can fathom the accuracy of his words, astonished that neither of them has realised this until now, when it all sound so perfectly clear when hearing Mycroft say it out loud.

“I should never have just left you to your own devises last year, thinking that you would be alright on your own in a place like this. I have known you your whole life and I know what kind of person you are, left with only yourself as company has always been a sure pathway leading straight to disaster.”

Sherlock opens his mouth to protest at this jab of his character, but Mycroft doesn’t notice, so he shuts his mouth again and lets his brother finish the point he is trying to make.

“I just thought that our co-dependency was something that needed to be lessened, that it wasn’t conductive to any of us to be so needed by the other. I wanted to prove, perhaps more to myself than anyone else, that we still were functioning individuals despite our bond, that we could be apart and still thrive, find each other when necessary but not be victims to our feelings of need. I was wrong. We were never victims before, we became victims when we tried changing the nature of what we are.”

They fall silent as they both contemplate these words.

It feels like the end of something, but unlike the sense of doom that has been hanging over their heads for the past couple of months, this has an entirely different feeling of finality to it.

Not necessarily a bad thing as would otherwise be expected when considering the nature of their appearances, torn clothes, bruises beginning to blossom, scratches on their skins.

No, for the first time in a long time, there is a flickering of something resembling a resolution between them.

Everything is out in the open now.

Their constant inability to ever talk about the things that has been simmering beneath the surface of their relationship for ages, long before they even became lovers. All those years of growing up together with the trials and tribulations of not being like everyone else, the seven year age gap, as well as fear, bitterness and envy that sibling rivalry sometimes has the unfortune to consist of.

It’s all out there now, tangible for them to reach out and address if they want to. For a few precious moments.

This isn’t a state that will last, this openness between them. Soon enough that door of honesty will begin to close again and if they don’t grab the opportunity now, it will perhaps forever be too late.

So, by keeping in mind that Mycroft was the one who dared to open up the door in the first place, Sherlock decides that he should be the one to make sure that it doesn’t slam shut in their faces without coming to a resolution.

“I never wanted to it to be like this between us.” He begins. “I just felt so lost and alone when I first came here. I was used to having you around and then you suddenly disappeared, and I had no idea what to do. I realise that I probably recognised your wish for more independency, and I guess a part of me resented you for it. That your life just continued like before while I was left struggling. Victor was never a plan, but when the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate to grab it.”

He stops to see what sort of impact his words are having.

The very name of Victor is a risk, threatening to ignite that jealous fire again. But Mycroft remains quiet, listening to what he has to say.

Sherlock recognises this as a rare opportunity for him to have his say without interruption, and he intends to make the most of it. Admitting to feeling lost and alone is normally not something he would willing admit to, not even to himself, but Mycroft deserves the closest thing Sherlock can offer him in regard to giving an explanation of his part in all of this.

“At first it felt good, despite being really awful at the same time. I knew how you would react if finding out, and I did my best to hide it, so of course I knew I was threading deep waters. But I couldn’t stop it, as it was the only interesting thing happening in my life back then. And it actually worked for a while, he kept me sufficiently entertained and I could stave off whatever negative thoughts that were threatening to overcome me. But then he grew boring as well and I began to tire of his company. It could all have ended there, him and me breaking up and you being none the wiser. But instead, the drugs made their appearance at just that exact moment and things took a different turn.”

He stops to gather his thoughts, because the subject of drugs is still very sensible and current, he isn’t as comfortable talking about them as he is talking about all the rest, mainly because he still misses the feeling of taking them and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

It has nothing to do with Mycroft and what they have between them, it’s a thing of his own, so there is no need to probe deeper into that subject, even if it plays a large part in both past and current events, especially regarding the resurfacing of Victor into Sherlock life and his willingness to keep him there, at the expense of fooling Mycroft.

Agitated for feeling unable to express exactly what it is that he wants to say, he makes a shrug of his shoulders while meeting Mycroft’s eyes stubbornly.

“This isn’t exactly what I thought I was going to say. I’m not even sure if I know where I am going with any of this, it all sound ridiculously vague and inconclusive, which I know you normally detest as much as I do. But if you just bear with me for a moment longer this outpour will be over soon enough. I guess I just wanted to say that I regret how things became between us. None of us are blameless in this of course, we just had different ways of inflicting pain and nothing can truly ever become undone, but at least our regrets can be acknowledged.”

He reaches out to touch his arm where the gash from the belt has now began to sting quite viciously, a trickle of blood still running down his radius.

“Speaking of pain...” he mutters under his breath and reaches for a piece of his torn shirt lying on the floor, using it to prevent the bleeding from going any further.

Mycroft steps over to him, but instead of towering above him like he always does, his preferable method of inflicting the sense of control, so ingrained in his backbone the he probably doesn’t even reflect upon it anymore, he instead hunches down so he comes face to face with his little brother.

Then he reaches out and puts his hand over Sherlock’s fingers pressing on the wound. Just enough pressure to reassure that his intentions are helpful and nothing else.

“Does it hurt much?” he asks and Sherlock shakes his head.

“Not that much, no. More sting than actual pain. But your aim was quite impressive, I’ll probably be feeling it for a week or two whenever I try making use of my arm.”

There is the hint of a smile on his face and Mycroft, while not blatantly returning it, responds by nodding in an affirmative way that makes Sherlock feel like there might be an opening left for the two of them. If they just thread very lightly and not look back.

He nods towards the bite mark on Mycroft’s shoulder, glaringly red and angry through the rip of his shirt.

“You should disinfect that. There are 600 different types of bacteria in the human mouth alone and up to millions of them in the whole of the oral cavity. “

Mycroft rolls his eyes at this, but more affectionately than anything else.

“How very you to keep knowledge of that sort of information.”

“It’s what I do, acknowledging the important things.” Sherlock’s smile grows a little wider but then he frowns and the smile falters slightly.

“Does it hurt terribly? I’m told from a reliable source that my biting technique tends to be quite effective.”

“Considering that I am the very source you’re referring to; I am inclined to agree with that statement. This might very well have been one of your most painful ones. But....”

He reaches out and tilts his brother’s face so they can look at each other more closely, his eyes searching for something in Sherlock’s features, and when satisfied that he has found it, a touch of softness flickers for a second across his own face, there for a second, gone the next, as if never having been there in the first place.

If not for the fact that Sherlock now knows better than to doubt its existence.

“....if this is the price of a lesson thoroughly learned, I’ll accept that pain and move on. A decision I hope you are willing to share with me, brother mine.”

It isn’t phrased as a question, it is an order he is making. But for once, his brother’s demand doesn’t seem like such a chore to obey, and with a small nod of his head, Sherlock accept the agreement.

The door to their shared willingness to be honest with each other is soon about to close once more, the moment having passed. But for the first time in what feels like forever, Sherlock feels completely at ease, both with himself and the situation.

So he closes his eyes and leans against his brother’s solid form for stability, indulging in the feeling of resolve, secure in the knowledge that the next time he opens his eyes, none of this: past actions and regrets, the war they have just put an end to, will ever be mentioned again. Deep down, he never thought it could be achievable, wounds too deep and words unable to take back, he had long ago accepted the possibility of there being a point of no return for them.

For once in his life, he is glad that he was wrong.

Chapter Text

Steps echo against the pavement behind his back but this is London after all, people are always moving about, despite the lateness of the hour. It’s never completely quiet and he no longer turns in panic at the sound of unexpected noises, the way he used to.

He searches for his keys, frustrated with himself for not being able to locate them and silently he curses when he realises that he might have left them at his office. Or even worse, at the back of the cab taking him home.

The whole day has proven to be spectacularly awful and this is apparently just the icing on the cake.

He has not heard a word from Sherlock in over a week now and he is sorely tempted to forego all agreed-upon protocols and simply call him. He doesn’t have an actual number, but he knows Sherlock has a phone and Victor has the address to the flat where he lives, things could be arranged if he really wants to.

They haven’t been in touch since Victor gave him the ultimatum, but he remembers the hunger in Sherlock’s eyes, he recognises that look, it’s the one telling him that he will get what he wants in the end, despite whatever qualms Sherlock might have. Therefore, it is very surprising that Victor hasn’t heard anything yet, he honestly didn’t think Sherlock had it in him to refuse temptation for this long.

Would it really be so terrible to have sex with Victor anyway? He’s almost hurt when he thinks about it.

He can understand that Sherlock might have felt betrayed by him when he just left without so much as a word, however unwillingly that was. But Sherlock isn’t a person who normally holds on to grudges and, in the beginning, it had seemed as if he was genuinely happy to meet again after being separated. Victor certainly was. Still is.

Sherlock is the kind of boyfriend you’ll only ever experience once in a lifetime, the one that will make all future partners pale in comparison to the memory of him, and Victor is planning to make the most of this experience before moving on.

Sherlock isn’t marriage material, not in any sense of the word, more like the wild lover from your past that you secretly think about when sleeping with the one you actually end up marrying, the incomparable one that you might long for but know, deep down, was too untameable for you to put a ring on their finger. Victor will always cherish their time together, even in many years from now.

He sighs as he admits that the lock isn’t going to mysteriously open itself up without a key and he realises that he will either have to call the cab company and ask if he perhaps left it behind on his way here, or call the office and hope that someone is still there to check if his keys are still lying on his desk.

He is just about to turn, his hands reaching for his phone in his pocket, when he feels something hard pressing against the area between his shoulder blades.

Frowning, his brain is trying to catch up to what it is that he’s feeling, what that hard object might be, and an idea immediately begins to manifest.

Is he being robbed? Is this one of those knife-wielding, gun-toting criminals that you read about in the paper that apparently are infesting the whole city these days but that he for some reason has never realised could ever be targeting him? It’s what you only read about after all, but never experience yourself.

Until you actually do.

But before he has the chance to come to any further conclusions, a voice is speaking close to his ear in a low whisper he would recognise anywhere, and whatever armed robber he initially thought he was endangered by, would be a far preferable alternative right now, instead of the person actually standing behind his back.

“No need to try making a run for it, Mr Trevor. You won’t get very far.”

Victor tries to regain his voice but finds it to be impossible. What he manages to come up with are only unintelligible sounds from deep down his throat, sounding more like a frightened animal than an actual human being. He is surprisingly unable to utter a single word.

“You’re not making much sense verbally I’m afraid. But it doesn’t matter. I’m not particularly inclined to have a conversation anyway. Just follow my orders and remain silent and none of us have to bother with deciphering whatever guttural sounds your trying to produce.”

Victor shuts his mouth and abandons all pretence of saying anything.

He knows better than to disobey.

He remembers the last time, that thing he never told Sherlock about but still serves as a constant reminder every time he looks himself in the mirror, his chest undressed. It’s only a scar, pink, fading into white, but the pain, the fright in his scream when he acquired it, it still echoes inside his head whenever thinking back on that day.

He never realised that the well-dressed gentleman in front of him, with eyes cold as glaciers and the thin mouth in a grim line of determination, could be capable of such a deed, and yet he had experienced it and was still occasionally feeling the paralyzing numbness of fear whenever he thought about it. Like a cobra striking out, fangs pressing into his soft flesh. He would never ever forget.

“You seem to be struggling a little with your lock. Good thing such trivialities doesn’t prevent us from still continuing with our plan. Here, use this.”

Somethings is being nudged against his arm and he turns his head to look down on something being held towards him, meant for him to take.

It looks like some sort of key and as the nudging continues, this time more firmly, he takes it in his hand.

“Now, lock up, please.”

He inserts the key and to his surprise he can hear the familiar click of the lock giving way and offering him entrance. Although why he should feel surprised is beyond him. Of course, this man would be in possession of some sort of skeleton key or lock picking-device to gain him entrance to wherever he wants.

“Now, why don’t you invite me to your humble abode, Mr Trevor and save us both the unpleasantness of standing out here in the evening cold like two ruffians, exposing ourselves to all kinds of dangerous elements lurking in the shadows. One should be more careful, I find. London is far from a safe place, never was, never will be. “

Victor finally finds himself able to form his lips into words again.

“I think you might be the most dangerous thing for me right now, Mr Holmes.”

“Indeed. But none the less, I advise you to enter, Mr Trevor. What we are about to do will need the shelter of privacy.”

“And what is that exactly?” Victor can’t help but notice a quiver of actual fear colour his voice.

“Nothing for you to worry about. It will be over soon enough.”

They enter the dark hallway but instead of turning the light on, they just continue, led by the still unidentified thing pressing firmly against Victor’s back.

Once inside, the door closing behind them, Victor gains a modicum of resistance.

“You can’t harm me and get away with it. You’ll get caught. I won’t keep quiet like the last time. And this is London, not some local police for you to have bribed into silence” he tries as they walk forward into his dark empty flat. Actual panic is beginning to rise though and the urge to just try to make a run for it is tempting, but there is nowhere to go but further into the flat.

He is trapped.

“I’m not the one who is going to harm you. You are going to be doing all the work yourself. And don’t think about running, Mr Trevor. This taser that I’m currently pressing against your back is going to paralyse you if try to make any attempts. It will only make things more difficult for both of us and will gain you nothing. I have no intention of chasing you after all.”

They pass the living room and he can see the leftovers from breakfast still on the coffee table in front of the telly where he sat and watched the news this morning. It feels like seeing something familiar taken out of its current context, like he is watching a photo of his home flash by without actually being in it. All of the familiar items, those that make this place uniquely his, things he sees and uses every day, now suddenly seem distant and unapproachable.

He used to nurture the idea of taking Sherlock here eventually. Perhaps even live here one day. It was silly fantasies of course; they were in no such state in their relationship at the moment to warrant illusions like that. But still, he did think about it. He allowed himself to dream.

He thinks about Sherlock.

Those black glossy curls spread out against a white pillow, that little smirk that drives Victor crazy, makes him want to kiss it straight off his face, those catlike eyes that pierces right through you, sees everything, knows everything, narrowing into small glittering slits when he is about to come, the lips departing, just a little, to let out a loud gasp of pleasure. This picture is forever etched into Victor’s retinas, never mind that he might never again experience any of it, he will always cherish that image and not even Mycroft Holmes with his menacing presence and the taser pressed between his shoulder blades, can take it away from him.

As if the other man is sensing what Victor is thinking about, he feels a firm shove against his back and he stumbles forward, towards the bathroom.

“Sherlock...,” Victor begins, as he is already on the subject anyway and there is nothing left for him to lose. He has the distinct feeling that he will not leave this flat alive. “...He will find out about this. Eventually. He will wonder about my absence and come searching for me.”

“He didn’t the last time.”

Victor shakes his head. He knows he is right in this, whatever the other man is trying to claim.

“This time it’s different. He will come looking and when he finds out...”

“He will see what will be presented to him. But you are right. He will probably suspect. He did with the other one after all. But I wasn’t present for that one personally, and other people are never as efficient as when you do things yourself. You should feel flattered, Mr Trevor, that I took it upon myself to come here in person for you. It will be much better arranged this time.”

Victor’s eyes go wide in shock and he tries to twist his head to face his assailant, but a resolute shove prevents him from succeeding.

Other? What other?”

“Just a nasty man who used to provide my brother with drugs. I think you might have known him? Allegedly killed himself in his bathroom last spring. No loss for anyone really, except for those in use of his favours of course.”

A cold sensation runs down Victor’s spine when he realises the impact of this information. It must have happened after he left for Scotland, as he hasn’t heard anything about it until now. He knows exactly who the man being referred to is.

Allegedly killed himself?” he finally asks, when once again regaining his ability to speak.

“It’s what the police report said. He was found hanging from the shower curtain. Sherlock claims suicide to be unlikely, but you know how he is, always one for the drama, trying to look for more sinister reasons.“

They are now standing in front of the closed door leading to Victor’s bathroom and actual horror is washing over him with uncontrollable force as he realises why he is being told any of this.

“No...,” he begins to beg and presses his feet firmly against the floor, preventing him from moving any closer. But it’s futile, a child’s wishful thinking that by struggling against something it will result in not happening. The small but still logical part of his brain knows otherwise.

“I’m afraid it’s a little late for begging, Mr Trevor. I did warn you before, after all. Stay away from my brother or face the consequences of my anger.”

“Please..” There is an actual sob coming from him now, but he doesn’t care. He can’t control it. He is positively paralysed with fear.

An arm reaches out from behind him. A gloved hand, black leather, firm in its movements, like a snake curling around the handle, silently letting the door open to gain them entry. A gaping hole presents itself as the darkness of the bathroom in front of them turns into a pit of doom. Once they enter it will be the end of it.

He feels the firm push against his shoulder blades while the gloved hand recoils behind him where he can no longer see it.

This is so beyond anything he could have ever imagined, despite the panic, he has a difficult time to wrap his head around what’s actually going on. It’s like he is no longer present here in person, he is watching this like one would watch a terribly nerve-wracking horror movie on the telly, frozen in place from fear but unable to tear his eyes away from the screen.

This isn’t happening, this isn’t real.

But then the cold familiar voice that has haunted his dreams for months on end, shatters the illusion and his mind catches up with the realisation that this is all very much happening to him and that there is nothing for him to do that can change the course of events. It’s all too terribly late.

“Please enter the bathroom, Mr Trevor. It will all be over soon enough.”

And with a firm push to his back, he stumbles across the threshold.