Sherlock was pacing back and forth in a most distracting fashion, muffled against the cold, chewing on a gloved thumb. When Mycroft spoke, he sighed and shook his head impatiently. His hair was too long, as usual; needed a cut. Mycroft added the issue to his mental file of points to be raised when leverage was had. "I've never kept track."
"Tension at home with the new flatmate?"
"Oh, what do you care?"
"I care about everything to do with you, dear boy. You know that quite well." Mycroft laid down his pen and leaned back in his chair. "I could tell you things about John Watson--"
"Stop," Sherlock said through his teeth, pressing his palms against his temples. "Just stop."
Well. Not that he'd had much doubt, anyway, but the path of greatest probability wasn't always the correct one. A thought Sherlock had always resisted, though he really shouldn't have. What was less probable than their family?
"Well, have a seat," he said, indicating the corner of his desk. Sherlock moved to it with the exaggerated dignity of the drunk, placing each foot with care and a certain fear that the ground might not be where he thought it was. But he was not, Mycroft noted, intoxicated. Mycroft would never have allowed that.
Sherlock looked back down over his shoulder at him. He was already breathing faster, and staring at Mycroft as though he were some superior form of predator. The long white stretch of his throat above his scarf was magnificent in the gleam of the moonlight.
Like Mummy's, Mycroft thought, and wished he hadn't. He got to his feet and circled round the far side of the desk. Sherlock didn't follow him with his eyes, but his posture said that he was acutely aware of Mycroft's position at every second.
"Do try to relax," he said, and cupped the back of Sherlock's neck with one hand. Sherlock shivered, all over, and Mycroft began patiently unwinding his scarf, noticing as he did that Sherlock had been down the pub last night, and hadn't enjoyed it. Sherlock wore so many layers, but it wasn't to protect himself from touch. It was to draw attention to what he wouldn't allow to be seen; and if he happened to smother himself up inside them, well...
He lay the scarf on the desk and began on the gloves, catching each of Sherlock's elusive hands in turn and pinching fingertip after fingertip until he could draw the leather off. He hummed absently as he did, some turn-of-the-century Viennese operetta, and watched the pulse in Sherlock's neck slowly subside.
Finally, he pushed down the coat and tugged each of Sherlock's arms free from its sleeve.
"There, now," he said. "Better, isn't it?"
He sat next to Sherlock, some little space between their thighs, and slid his hand down his back, slowly, deliberately. The shirt was a lustrous cotton--the name of the tailor popped into his mind. Sherlock must have exceeded his budget considerably these past few months, come to think of it. He let himself enjoy the feeling as he moved his hand up and ran his fingertips along Sherlock's far shoulder. For all that Sherlock professed bohemianism, in the end his vanity was unappeasable.
Sherlock's eyes were half-closed. He seemed to be concentrating on his own breathing.
"Sherlock," he said chidingly, "Speak to me."
It had always had to be like this, from the very first time, when Sherlock had come home for the long vac looking drawn and furtive, like a fugitive fleeing the Counter-Reformation. Lurking around in the most obvious fashion. Up all night, playing the violin with a roughness in his tone that his tutors had certainly not given him. Rude to half the county, especially the half with marriageable daughters. Mycroft had finally cornered him in the library.
"Is it a girl?" he'd asked. A pause, and a blank, desperate stare from Sherlock. "A boy?" Still no answer. "Both?"
"All of it," Sherlock had ground out, wringing his hands together.
Impossible not to understand, to see it all at once. "I can help you," Mycroft had said, very carefully, and mustered all his calmness to Sherlock's fevered gaze. "I know what to do. If you'll let me."
Even then, he'd known there were certain forms which were indispensible, if they were to manage this. And so he waited now as he'd waited then, until Sherlock murmured hoarsely, "Please."
"All right," he said. Mycroft angled Sherlock a little towards him and curled his fingers lightly around the outline of his cock in his pants. Sherlock swallowed, loud enough to be heard, and turned his forehead against Mycroft's shoulder.
"Please," he said again, unnecessarily, and Mycroft silently revised upwards his estimation of John Watson. He undid Sherlock's trousers with his free hand and found the waiting hardness. Sherlock's hips squirmed as Mycroft closed his fingers round him.
It was easy to fall into the rhythm of stroking Sherlock. He'd done it often enough that it was little less familiar than dealing with himself. Sherlock required a steady hand, and a firm one. Something Mycroft was perfectly capable of providing. He felt such a lovely clarity as his clever, wayward little brother breathed harshly into his sleeve, his narrow chest hitching when Mycroft drew his thumb over the head.
Sherlock thought that choosing this venue was a form of defiance, or perhaps a dare. To see if he could behave so outrageously as to put himself beyond the pale, or to demand a risk that Mycroft would not be willing to run for him. As he watched their ghostly, blurred reflections in the window across the room, Mycroft wondered what it would be like if the answer were "yes." His mind refused to entertain the thought.
In fact, it was entirely safe in the office. Or, at least as safe as any room could be with both of them in it.
He bent his head over Sherlock's and said against the tangle of curls, "I am not your enemy, Sherlock."
Sherlock didn't answer. He never did, during these times; his attention was focused, vise-like, on sensation ordinarily unavailable to him. Mycroft wasn't even sure if he was conscious at the time of hearing Mycroft's voice. But the opportunity could not be neglected.
"You tell yourself that we're very different, but you know it's not so. Who else could even begin to understand this?" Could understand why it was easier for Sherlock to come to him for this than to gratify his needs the way that most of humanity did it? Could understand why Mycroft couldn't refuse him?
Anyway, he thought, with a little thrill of fierceness that surprised him, no one else deserved it, this view of Sherlock abandoned and sobbing for breath, one hand now gripping Mycroft's jacket, the other splayed wide on his knee. It was far too fine and rare a thing. Wasted on anyone who was blind as the rest of the world was blind.
Greedy, Mycroft, he could hear Father chiding him as he savored the scent of damp wool and nicotine.
"It will be so much easier for you when you finally accept it," he said softly. Promised, really; Sherlock might not trust him, but he could rely on him. Always. Wasn't this proof enough?
It never, by the clock, took very long. Sherlock would never have come to him if he weren't already on hair-trigger. A soft, broken sound in the back of Sherlock's throat, and in the glass Mycroft saw his face open up, eyes and mouth expanding with astonishment at the mystery of it all. Like a supernova seen very far away, light from a dying star he would never reach.
Mycroft rubbed his fingertips lightly over Sherlock's collarbone as he came down, liking the feel of the quiver of life in the base of his throat. After a minute, Sherlock let him go and sat up, swallowing. Mycroft drew a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it over--so typical of him to come without his own. Sherlock attended to matters, looking fixedly downward. Mycroft studied him as he recomposed his surfaces, the flush in his cheeks already starting to fade. He considered saying something about the hair, but settled for reaching out and brushing it off Sherlock's forehead.
Sherlock, surprisingly, tolerated it, and Mycroft let his fingers linger for a moment. Just a moment.
If Sherlock should ever offer to reciprocate, Mycroft would probably go home and shoot himself.
"I have cases to attend to," he said finally, drawing up the collar of his greatcoat.
Mycroft nodded. "Of course. Give my regards to your flatmate."
Amazing, it was amazing to think that Sherlock would go home to him and the poor sod wouldn't be able to tell anything of it: neither the evening's events nor the reason behind them. But perhaps it was a blessing. He often thought it was, for the grey masses rushing past him in the street. If they could see, how could they bear it?
"Oh, if past history is any indication, you'll be giving them yourself, soon enough."
Mycroft smiled. "I do worry."
Sherlock rested his gloved hand on the doorknob. "You shouldn't."
"But I will."
They should have never asked him to look after Sherlock if they didn't want him to do everything in his power.
"I know." Sherlock looked at him, and for just an instant, Mycroft saw a flash of that earnest, terrified eighteen-year-old, who'd huddled on the floor afterwards and wept from sheer relief. "You've always had the most absurd hobbies."