A/N: Hi everyone! I'm covered in black paint! Just thought you might like to know.

I've been a bit AWOL on this site for a while--I haven't been reading/reviewing as often as I usually do (sorry!) I've been busy painting a room entirely black. It's way, way, way too much fun, and I'm convinced that I got more paint on myself than on the walls. But I'm working with my director, who is also my English teacher, which means we have some great literary discussions, which is partly where some of the ideas for this came from. And we're just about finished, which means I'll be back to my usual R&R-ing :)

Anyway. This is the prologue, and it started out as a one shot. Which is why it reads like a one shot. But it turned into something bigger, so there is more to come. :)


What bothered Mycroft the most was that he felt so little.

Perhaps it was just delayed, he told himself. Perhaps he was in denial. But he knew that wasn't true. He wasn't in denial, but he wasn't in a state of shock, either. He was just... accepting.

Sherlock was dead. Doctor Watson had come by in person, looking absolutely dreadful, unshaven and with dark circles under his slightly red eyes. He hadn't been sleeping. He'd told Mycroft the news, in halting words, as if terrified that Mycroft would deny it or collapse in a fit of emotion. Mycroft felt somewhere that he should have--Sherlock was his brother, after all--but he had never been one for showing emotion and in any case the Doctor didn't look up to supporting anyone, emotionally or physically. He was the one that needed support. And besides... Mycroft did not feel shocked. He did not feel anything, really--he was saddened, but there was no acute feeling of loss.

It was as if he had been expecting such a development.

Which, to be perfectly honest, he had been, though he'd done his best to be optomistic about the whole thing. He lacked feeling because he had already known, somehow, that he would lose his brother.

He sat alone in his office at Whitehall, not paying much attention to what he was doing; instead brooding on his emotions. Like his brother, he had not been one for showing much feeling, but he had not shunned it as Sherlock had. But now, surely some sort of display of feeling was called for.

Somehow, he could not conjure it. Sherlock was gone, and he had already accepted that, even before he and the Doctor had left for the continent. They had both known that it was unlikely he would make it out of the business alive.

And so he mourned his brother, in quiet acceptance--but it bothered him, that he felt so little.

His secretary slipped into his office noiselessly. The whole staff knew of the death of his brother, and were acting deucedly cautious as a result, speaking in hushed tones around him, as though loud noises would remind him of Sherlock. (Upon reflection, Mycroft realized that this was not so ridiculous an assumption). The woman dropped an envelope on his desk and froze as she met his eyes. After a moment she bobbed her head jerkily and exited rather more quickly than she had come.

Everyone was on edge with the death of Sherlock Holmes.

Mycroft sighed heavily. He would save the brooding on his emotions in connection with his brother for another time. He picked up the envelope and read its contents.

He read it again.

Bloody hell.

He crumpled the note in his hand, then smoothed it out and read it again before crumpling it once more. Of all the...

He hadn't been feeling much before, but he was now. He was furious. He threw the note across the room. Crumpled as it was, the message could still be read from where he sat.

NOT DEAD. REQUIRE FUNDS. SAY NOTHING. SHERLOCK.

Not dead. Sherlock was alive.

Not for long, brother mine, Mycroft thought to himself. Not for long. He did not bother to question its validity--anyone trying to play a prank on him would no doubt have sent a heartfelt letter; sending sentence fragments to declare that he remained in the land of the living to his only brother had Sherlock written all over it.

Mycroft was glad that Moriarty had not killed Sherlock, as it would have deprived him of the opportunity to do it himself. Once he was through with him, his brother would just wish he was at the bottom of a waterfall...

But he was alive. Eventually Mycroft would allow the relief flowing from that simple statement to wash over him fully, but not now. For now he would just enjoy being angry at his infuriating younger brother.


A/N: More coming! once I edit it...