|Dulce et Decorum est Pro Fratre Vivere
Author: thequeergiraffe PM
I just can't get enough of Mycroft, apparently. Short series in which Mycroft discusses growing up and tending his brother. Rated for future language, content, and possible smut- not of the Mylock variety, though there may be some incestual undertones.Rated: Fiction M - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Mycroft H. & Sherlock H. - Chapters: 7 - Words: 16,428 - Reviews: 30 - Favs: 21 - Follows: 19 - Updated: 06-04-12 - Published: 04-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8066756
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The Iceman Cometh
I was twenty-eight when I took my first life.
Not directly, of course; by that time I had quite finished with "legwork", and I'd never had need to do more than incapacitate during my more hands-on stint. In fact, my first death sentence was delivered via memorandum, dispatched just before lunch and nearly forgotten by tea time.
This was the same year I founded the Diogenes, my little silent club that swiftly became one of the most elite establishments in England entire, much less London. The idea came to me rather all of a sudden; I was, in an odd moment of fancy, contemplating my school days and the quiet boys that sat with me at luncheon, when I decided it would be quite easy to recreate such a thing in a more modern context. And while the fellows at school had done wonders for my comfort and happiness at the time, I thought I could get rather more use out of the current batch of eager men that recognized in me some form of authority that was only partway official. It felt very much like all of my childhood dreams had become a reality, minus two concessions: I had realized at this point that Sherlock would never be the man I'd hoped, my perfect match in intelligence, drive, and cunning; and because my father had long since been cremated, I could never show him what I'd done with my life and see the sparkle of approval in his eyes.
However, I'm not particularly prone to sentiment (and yet, and yet reader, I labour over this account). Nor have I ever denied myself the pleasure of a thing wanted now. I am not the dog of legend, peering into the river and seeing another dog with a bone that could be mine as well, only to unhinge my jaw and lose everything. My brother might, at times, think me greedy, but I could argue the opposite; I have only ever wanted the things I knew I could have.
But, let us get back to the narrative.
At this time, Sherlock was at university. I had called him once to discuss his plans for the future, not at all surprised to find he had none whatsoever ("And are you still holding out for a life of sea-faring debauchery?" I'd asked teasingly, though Sherlock seemed none too thrilled at the joke) and was merely taking whatever courses suited him, attending them as he pleased, and barely passing anything at all. Likewise, his classmates found him intolerable, his dorm-mate had vacated the room almost immediately, and his professors regularly threw him out of class for making inappropriate comments or repeatedly correcting them during lecture. I knew he was being intentionally insufferable, but all thoughts of punishment flew from my mind as he said, reticently, "Oh, but Mycroft, there is this boy…"
"This boy" turned out to be a young man by the name of Victor Trevor. I disliked him instantaneously. Victor was a worthless lout, a drug fiend, and a far sight too weak and impudent to be influencing my brother's behaviour at such a critical developmental stage. I flicked through video feed and found myself sneering at his face; the young man was none too pretty, far better suited to sport than to, say, fashion. He had a very square set to him: square jaw, square shoulders, squared-off look in his black eyes. I found the entire circumstance to be unacceptable. Pondering the possibility that it might already be too late, I pulled the necessary strings and had an unbeatable offer open for young Mr. Trevor on the opposite side of the country. I did not find it very astonishing when he accepted at once and I was very glad to wash my hands of the matter.
Two days after Victor's departure, my (most recent) secretary entered my office with a slightly nervous air. "Mr. Holmes, sir," she said, hesitantly.
I looked up at her with complete placidity. "Yes?"
"I-I'm to give you a message, sir," she said, clearly uncomfortable. "From your brother."
Sitting up a lighter straighter, I waved her in towards me. "Very well, Miss Rosenthal. What is the message?"
"Sir," she said, swallowing anxiously, "I know you strongly prefer that I memorize all messages as they're received and deliver them orally. However, sir, I found the younger Mr. Holmes' message to be…quite indecipherable, sir, and thus difficult to commit to memory."
"And so you've written it down, I presume."
I put out my hand, and Miss Rosenthal placed a small slip of paper in my waiting palm. "It's in code, sir," Miss Rosenthal said rather unnecessarily. "Mr. Sherlock Holmes said you would know the key."
"Yes, thank you," I snipped, shooing her away. I needed a better secretary; no, I decided then and there I wanted a personal assistant, instead, in addition to the usual secretary and waitstaff in my employ. Pocketing the slip, I hummed to myself and contemplated what traits I would like for my newest employee.
Taking my lunch at the Diogenes club, I pulled the slip from my pocket and puzzled over it as I ate. It was true that the message was in code, but it was not true that I was aware of the key. Still, the code was easy enough to crack, simple transposing and shifting. I had the thing beat by the second course. Any thrill of pleasure I might have received from playing Sherlock's little game was washed away in the wake of his message, however, which I scratched out in its entirety even though it was unnecessary to do so.
Stay out of my life, the slip said, in my own neat handwriting. I balled it up in my fist and sent it away with the dirty dishes.
I was too late, of course, and perhaps too rash. Victor had left an impression. Sherlock was far too intelligent to make this immediately obvious, of course, and so I was not aware of the issue until much later than I found acceptable. He was very careful, initially, and very clever. But eventually he began to give into his whims more often, and more clumsily, and I realized as I watched him one afternoon on campus security that he was thinner and paler than usual, his hands flitting and dancing beside him even more strangely than usual. I watched the feed for several long moments, watched Sherlock do his nasty little deal with a young man in a hooded jacket, watched my brother's shoulders sag with relief as he pocketed his tiny purchase.
By my estimation, Sherlock was nineteen when he began using cocaine. I felt almost entirely at fault.
I did everything in my power to make it stop, or so I felt at the time. I cut off Sherlock's access to his bank account, sending one of my employees to his dorm room once a week to enquire about his needs instead. Generally he only snarled and threw things, but once in awhile he allowed my assistant to buy him small things, soap or pens or whatever else he needed at the time. With only very minor difficulty, I arranged for three meals to be brought to his room each day. I have no reason to believe those meals were ever touched, but I did attempt to feed him, at least. I sent him information on rehabilitation centres; I had each and every drug dealer I spotted him with arrested at once; I tracked his movements on CCTV and campus cameras obsessively.
It didn't matter. Somehow he was stilling purchasing the damned drug, still (to my absolute horror) injecting it into his bloodstream. There was only one move remaining to me, in my opinion, and though it was a very dirty move indeed, I found it quite necessary.
Sherlock's room was a strange sight. One half (the half vacated by his previous dorm-mate) was an unholy mess of papers and forgotten experiments, broken bits of refuse and seemingly random detritus. The other half was pristine, the bed neatly made and the clothes organized. I was glad to see the bespoke suits I sent him (one new one each month, each perfectly fitted to his measurements at the time) were all neatly pressed and hung in the open bureau.
I stood near the doorway, watching Sherlock rummage through the rubbish on the filthy half of the room. He eventually procured a package of cheap, pre-rolled cigarettes (one of which he offered me, and which I declined with a small crinkle of my nose) and a flip-top lighter. He sat on the edge of the bed and lit his cigarette, still ethereal and handsome for all that he was putting his body to waste.
"You know why I'm here," I said, leaning on the umbrella I'd brought with me due to the light drizzle outside.
Sherlock hummed and smoked. "I suppose you've found it all quite irritating," he said after a moment. "Your lack of control over me, I mean."
I laughed humorlessly. "No, what I have found irritating, darling brother, is your complete lack of interest in self-preservation. You're no idiot. Why defile yourself with that filth you insist on putting into your body?"
"Defile myself," Sherlock said, smiling a bit distantly. "Is that why you sent Victor away?" He looked up at me, his eyes bright and dangerous. "Worried I was going to 'defile myself' with him as well?"
"Haven't you already?"
"You know I didn't." Stubbing out his cigarette in a soiled ashtray, Sherlock stood and went to the window, the paltry light of the afternoon making his cheeks look hollow and frightening. "But I would have. Couldn't have that, could you?"
Clearing my throat, I looked away and said, "It is none of my business with whom you trade seminal fluid, but I will not have you befriending a man of such low quality as Victor Trevor. Nor will I allow this childish idiocy to continue, Sherlock. The drug use must stop. Immediately."
"Or?" Sherlock looked at me sharply.
"Or I tell Mummy. I'll show her video. For God's sake, if I must drag you to the house and tear up your shirtsleeves so that she may see the injection sights herself, I'll do so." I was a little breathless, then, almost dizzy in my anger. "But she will know, Sherlock, and it will break her heart."
For a moment Sherlock looked so much like the child I'd loved and held and essentially raised that I almost crossed over to him and pulled him into my arms. But then his face closed off, and he said dully, "Mummy will never forgive you. She'll consider it your fault."
"I'm willing to take that risk." I brought myself to my full height. "I'll give you one month, Sherlock. One month. And should this disgusting habit of yours persist beyond that point, I will not hesitate to bring it to Mummy's attention."
I spent that month watching whatever video I could access with an even more obsessive air than usual, and what I saw was both pleasing and a little surprising. Sherlock didn't make any more of his ridiculous purchases, and while he looked quite sickly and frail, he began attending his classes and pacing around the campus, chain-smoking and drinking coffee with such vigor one might have thought him American. But no more drugs. That, I thought, was over.
Sherlock graduated without incident, leaving Oxford with a degree in chemistry and no more interest in his future than when he'd arrived. I set up for him to take a very nice flat in London, near enough to my own that I could stop by regularly without much effort but far enough away that he wouldn't feel as though I were trying to rein him in. At that point I believed he could be trusted with his own well-being, to some extent. I tried to help him in starting a career but the boy (man, I should say, for he was twenty-two by then and had long since shed any of the boyishness of youth) was steadfast in his refusal to work properly. "Nine to five nonsense," he said dismissively, surrounding himself with newspaper and experimentations in his flat. I let him alone. If he was happy to play scientist, I was happy to allow it.
For three years, this arrangement worked acceptably. I had begun to ingratiate myself to the lesser-known world powers, at that point, and my reach was beginning to extend beyond England's shores. I could never, and will never, write of all the things in which I found myself involved, but to say that the world runs in a more carefully controlled way than most people could possibly imagine would not be untrue. My eyes were newly open. I thought I had had power in my twenties, but I discovered quite quickly that nothing could have been further from the truth. This, my new work, this was power. Saying I enjoyed it would be a grievous understatement. But it was exhausting, time-consuming work, especially in those early days. I left Sherlock almost entirely to his own devices. To this day I'm still not entirely sure what he did to fill his time, though I suspect he spent it learning foreign languages, amassing his homeless network, and building several aliases. That I was doing nearly an identical thing, only at a global scale, has not escaped my attention nor my amusement.
But for a time, things were going rather well for us. Sherlock had his work, I had mine, and we both found time to visit Mummy on occasion, to meet once in awhile for lunches (where Sherlock would jitter his foot and smoke and treat me poorly, and I would be stiffly polite and slightly condescending, as was our wont) and sometimes merely for walks in the city (where Sherlock would quietly rumble his observations in my ear, and I would listen to him silently and ignore the painful swelling in my chest, as was our wont). For a time, we were as happy as any pair of Holmes' could have been.
And then, when I was thirty-five, Mummy died.