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(Sepia)Toned Love

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On a rare evening off, no case files to look over or Sherlock to chase, Greg pawed through Mycroft's music. Hidden tastefully in a lacquered cabinet beside the state-of-the-art entertainment centre was the tower of glossy cases. (Mycroft had little use for it but Anthea insisted; she was a fan of 90s cheesy girl pop when pulling all-nighters on paperwork. They would compromise and alternate between Beethoven and Billie Piper, Spice Girls and Strauss.) Greg's fingers skimmed the edges of the cases, playing down the spines with an intimacy borne of too many nights waiting, never quite stood up but often enough time alone to ensure his choice of evening's entertainment. Mycroft always more than made up for it.

Stopping two thirds down, Greg's finger tips rested lightly on one of the plain jewel cases. Nothing on the spine, no cover when drawn out, just a silver CD with a string of marker pen numbers, written in a precise hand across the cases's front, that meant nothing to him.

~~~

When Mycroft and Sherlock had been younger, and closer than most brothers, they had their own language. A code: like twins. Numbers and letters interchanged with an ease and rapidity even Mummy couldn't follow.

~~~

Mycroft thought Greg was unaware of them. He'd never played them, nor even opened a case. Hidden in plain sight, as if there was no additional meaning to these disks, just mixed in carelessly with a meticulously non-alphabetised collection. That was Greg's first clue that there was something special about Mycroft's CDs: organisation was his life, to have such disorder required a reason. The blank CD cases were the only anomalies Greg could find.

~~~

For hours thirteen year old Mycroft sat with his younger brother, retracing letters and numbers in as many different styles as the boy could manage.

'If I can mask my hand-writing then maybe I can be a spy. You're going to be a spy, aren't you, 'Rof? Then we can be spies together and save the world.'

'I think you've been bullying Mrs. Williams into reading you more Ian Flemming. Mummy said you weren't to do that any more, Sherlock. But I suppose we could be spies, as long as you manage your three 'R's by dinner. We can't be spies with only one way to write an 'R'.'

~~~

Greg knows there must be a sentimental attachment, for Mycroft to have kept the cases. As proper as he may be, if there really was something to be hidden Mycroft would have changed the cases. Greg also knows where the ticket from their one and only date to an albeit empty and security swept cinema is, tucked in Mycroft's Thursday wallet. Tuesday's keys have the novelty umbrella key chain, purchased on a whim. Tuesday was always a more relaxed day for Mycroft. At any rate, Greg knows no matter the denial and Ice Man exterior, Mycroft is actually sentimental, holding on to tokens for fear the memories will turn out lies, fantasies, forgeries. Instead he always keeps something tangible, just to be certain. Some things need to be held on to.

Today something felt different. Nothing had happened; no major life changing events. It just felt as if it were no longer an invasion of privacy to slip out the unmarked CD and listen. To appreciate this part of Mycroft. After all, he could be certain it wasn't state secrets Mycroft would have to kill him for listening to (their own running joke about la petit mort, aside). Mycroft keeps those much better hidden.

As the strains of a violin start up Greg smiles. Brushing his hand across the stereo's casing he moves to sink down into the sofa; nestled among the cushions, scotch within reach, he exhales and listens to his lover's sentimental attachment with a knowing smile.

~~~

'Mycroft,' Sherlock spits with derision, 'why must you be such a bore. Philosophy, of all things. You're not even studying anything useful, filling your brain with pointless information.'

'If you're bored, Sherlock, you could always play your violin for me while I study,' his tone is blasé, not even bothering to look as it's the fourth time this week for the philosophy argument.

With a guttural sound of disgust Sherlock spins on his heel and flounces out of the room. Even age eleven he has the movement perfected.

~~~

The next morning found the first tape, now converted to CD with the handwriting carefully imitated, resting atop of Mycroft's copy of Nietzsche.

Now he has a small collection. One found in among his shirts when unpacking at university, another accompanied his father's funeral programme, a third, a plea, with a bag of white powder two days before rehab. The fourth upon recovery, then another for John's arrival in their lives.

Greg is listening to the sixth and Mycroft smiles to hear it playing, stopping in the door way to watch his lover in relaxation, a rare treat.

The sixth appeared the day Greg arrived at a crime scene wearing one of Mycroft's ties, an accident in a darkened room met with brotherly approval, expressed in the only way he knew how.