Sherlock bends down to examine a large anthill, peering through his magnifying glass. Unlike most children, he was not interested in subjecting the poor creatures to a slow, painful death…yet. Perhaps later. He did have a rather interesting experiment going on with the neighbor's cat, a stuffed bird, a bell and three buckets of pig fat. So he'd have to be content to examine them quietly for now. His curls were damp and limp with sweat, sticking to the back of his neck in the midsummer heat and obscured his view. Sherlock brushes them away impatiently. "Hey, freak." He pauses, watching shadows dance over the anthill. "Hey, freak, I'm talking to you."

"I know." Sherlock says calmly. "I'm waiting for you to say something interesting."

Johnson sneers. "The only thing you find interesting is dead."

"Even those who have stopped breathing are better conversationalists then you are." He comments offhandedly.

The bully takes a moment to process the words. Unfortunately for Sherlock, Johnson wasn't your average playground bully. While he wasn't a genius, he was certainly smarter than most and was able to tell when he was being insulted. His face screwed up in anger. "Whatever freak, you're so pathetic; I'm not going to bother wasting my breath on insulting you."

"I doubt you could insult me if you tried."

He's prepared to walk away, to slink back to the safety of the swing set, surrounded by people who could sympathize. Yes Sherlock was a freak. Of course he wasn't stupid, but a hand clasps down on the back of his jersey. "Are you going to let the freak talk to you like that?" Johnson looks up into his older brother's eyes. Gordon Johnson was ten years old, a whopping four years their senior, and the very definition of bully. He denounced his little brother every chance he got, even going as far as demanding that the other children call him by his last name, insisting that he didn't deserve a first.

"And the cavalry has arrived." Sherlock mumbles. He frowns suddenly and stands, realizing that they're not going to leave. He draws himself up to full height, still a foot shorter than Gordon and holds his magnifying glass out like a sword.

"Well, Johnson?" Gordon breaths, smelling of bubblegum and spoiled milk. "Are you going to let the freak talk to you like that, Petey?" He swallows a gob of dried spit as he's pushed forward, Sherlock's glass still trained on him like an arrow. His knees shake and he coughs, tasting sand and grit. He is given a suspicious look. Petey backs down at the piercing blue gaze. Gordon makes a noise at the back of his throat. "Idiot!" He steps forward and pushes his brother to the side, cracking his knuckles and toes, curling them in his faded blue sandals. Sherlock vaguely hopes he'll get arthritis before his magnifying glass is snatched away and tosses over the bully's shoulder. As he opens his mouth to protest, hands, boney and sticky, reach out.

His eyes widen as he topples back into his beloved anthill, mouth opening and closing in a silent yell for help. There is a moment, that dreaded pause where they take everything in, before Sherlock can breathe. The boy screams in pain as ants crawl up the legs of his trousers, trying to bite through the material. Petey takes a step back before fleeing, prompting the other children to do the same. Years later, Sherlock will look back on this scene with embarrassment, wondering why he didn't do the logical thing and get up, but for now, the six-year old writhes on the ground, screaming nonsense before one word makes its way out his raw throat. "MYCROFT!"

An umbrella, steel frame, ivory handle, flashes out and smashes against the back of Gordon's knees. He goes down with a strangled "Kreeeynah!". It is brought down again with the fury of a worried sibling, the same fury John Watson will later use to beat up his sister's first boyfriend. Mycroft Holmes stands there with his lips pursed, fury shining in his eyes. He jabs the ferrule of his umbrella into the hand that quivers out towards his brother's magnifying glass and twists, listening to the sickening crack with a sense of satisfaction before kicking the body away. He turns his attention to his little brother, crawling with ants. He resists the urge to vomit as he peels him off the hill and strips him of his clothing, balancing the crying Sherlock on a wooden bench. He brushes off the ants with sweeping strokes, kissing the wounded flesh quickly. Mycroft scrapes the remaining insects out Sherlock's curly hair and covers him in his thin jacket, buttoning it up. For the first time, he notices how round Sherlock is. His cheeks are smooth circles, expanding with each breath and his stomach has tiny love handles around the hips. His thighs tamper out into pudgy calves and small, curled feet, only marred by ant bites. He wonders with a sickening dizziness how someone could do this to a child, to Sherlock.

He couldn't help being different and it was no reason to bully him yet these little brats almost killed his little brother! Sherlock lets out a soft whimper. "Shh," he soothes, "It's going to be okay, Sherlock."

"Mycroft." The boy whispers. "It hurts."

"I know." He holds him tighter. His brother squeals and Mycroft hastily lets go, keeping him upright by the lightest grip on his thighs. "We'll you some painkillers when we get home."

"Morphine?" Sherlock asks hopefully, "it hurts very badly."

"We'll see Mummy and she'll decide, okay?"

"Okay. Can I have some ice cream too?"

"Of course."

"Hey 'Croft?"

"Yes, Sherlock?"

"How did you know I was in trouble?"

"Brother's intuition, 'Lock. I always know when you get in trouble and I'll always be there to help you." He expects protests, the usual "I'm not a baby!" argument but if anything, Sherlock relaxes further.



What he didn't bother to tell his brother he had bugged the playground with meathead ninth graders, who were more than happy to spy on his brother's play place and come get him from his perch in the library at a moment's notice for a few bags of crisps. It would ruin the moment. Besides, that was a story for another day. Mycroft begins to whistle a tune, a bit dirty for his tastes but it always cheers his brother up, and twirls his trusty umbrella from the tip of his finger, wondering how to explain the new crack to Mummy. She did so hate it when he ruined his things. Meanwhile, the angry ants begin their descent on another victim, biting into the soft flesh of Gordon Johnson as he lays face-down in the remains of their home.