Title:Needles and Thread
Characters: Sherlock, Mycroft.
Rated:
T
WARNINGS:
contains lots of angst, drug use, implied violence, and a dark past. So dark!fic I suppose.
Summary: It's not that he doesn't feel. It's that he doesn't want to. Post-Reichenbach. Sherlock travels the world in search of the Network. But old habits die hard without support.

A/N: In this universe, "Henry" can also stand for "Henrietta." I originally picked a man's name because it's common in fic such as this depicting loss that it's a woman, and I didn't want that assumption made. Nor did I want the assumption that Sherlock can be categorized sexually. Also don't want the assumption for this particular fic that they may have been romantically involved. That may very well be true. But Sherlock never does the expected.

You can review of how you would like the relationship.

I'm pandering to a wide audience even though I don't own two bits of this - it belongs to Mofftiss and the Queen Beeb. I am so relieved that they would rightfully sue CBS that I am writing celebratory fic.

0~0~0~0

Damn, he was tired.

Well, not exactly tired to the point that he needed to close his eyes, though that would be welcome if it weren't for what needed to be done. The case - the case wasn't done. But he didn't particularly feel like using his muscles or moving his feet. He was slumped against the brick wall.

He couldn't sleep. He never slept while cracking a case. Not because there were not times he did not want to, rather his mind raced and insisted facts regurgitated, making sure he hadn't missed anything. Constant with numbers, calculations, observations, deductions.

He threw the plastic cup across the alley, neither aiming nor carelessly. It lazily bounced once, then rolled back towards his direction.

Laws of bloody physics.

He tugged at a lock of his hair in a demeanor that might be described as nervousness, only it seemed to also be absent-minded.

In this particular state he was in, passerby were likely to avoid him.

His cerulean eyes seemed tinged in red from the burst blood vessels. He had the dark rings around under his eyes that indicated sleeplessness, a blot against his pale skin. Paler than normal. Dark curls unwashed and unshaven, appearing even a little dirty. Cheekbones protruded indicating he hadn't had a proper meal in perhaps a week.

All observations would lead to the deduction that he was a crazed addict. Which perhaps was true, but it didn't matter. He had tracked a fifth associate - this time in India's slums.

The police would eventually find the rotting corpse with his brains scattered somewhere amongst the trash.

This associate had proved to be extremely unhelpful and why he hadn't been promoted to Moran's status was quite beyond Sherlock. His loyalty to the psychopath was amazing, to the point that he didn't shudder when he pointed the gun to his temple. Didn't sob or beg for mercy. Appeared unfazed by his cutting insults.

Fed up with his lack of sleep and in one of his dark moods, Sherlock had pulled the trigger. The leads had run out - he wasn't sure where the next contact would be. There was more, this associate - who cared what his name was? - had been stubbornly tight-lipped about.

Even when Sherlock threatened to cut out his tongue and feed it the slum dogs.

After finishing off this last assassin, he was in even a darker mood than before - he traded the violin he'd purchased in Rome on a whim, and what last notes he had on his person for a motherload from one of his contacts.

He was thirsty, hungry - one day wishing to clear his head, the next wishing he could be helped to think.

The concoction did nothing - it only made - whatever he could call it - a mood? Worse.

His teeth felt out of place inside his head as it throbbed with information, with facts, with memories he had no desire to resurface.

I will make you burn.

John. Mrs. Hudson. Lestrade. Weakness for the innocent, that didn't deserve to die.

The DNA results.

We're sorry, Mr. Holmes. We know he was an associate of yours.

Associate. Insinuating acquaintence when they'd been so much more than just passers on the street.

He rubbed his bloodshot eyes, trying to erase the pictures the voices surfaced.

The blast zone - white hot in flame.

Parts dismembered and singed beyond recognition instantaneously.

The fine mouth and jawline broken into tiny peices from the sheer force.

SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP

"You're a genius, Sherlock. Stop frying your brain cells and put them towards something useful. You have skill for this - don't just throw it away and regret what you gave up for the sake of a moment of a pleasure that you know you won't get again."

A pharmacy tech.

Smiling at him in that uncanny way. A private dig that only they would understand.

The connection of a confidant. Someone who would die before they told his dark, painful secrets.

But the tech did die. Lots of people die that don't "deserve to".

He wasn't going to think about that. Not now. Henry had been dead for nearly ten years.

Eight years. Eight months. Sixteen days. Five hours. Twenty-six minutes. Greenwich Time anyway.

Somewhere part of his subconscious had kept count.

He stared at the mobile clenched in his fist, the blood to his hand reduced because of the grip.

Goodbye. - JW.

He stared at it for a moment. Even though it was from months ago. Flung the phone away from him, watching it shatter and yet still stay held together by a single thread. The temptation was strong to text back.

I'm still here - SH

But the plan - the imperfect plan that should have been bloody fucking over months ago still had to be implemented. He knew it would take a proper year - it was going on two.

He found that his vision was blurry for some reason and he was rubbing his eyes again

When he took his hands from his pupils, he stiffened. Someone was standing in the alley. Watching him.

He reached for his pistol but found that he was sluggish - and the figure stood in front of him by the time he turned off the safety.

The silouette stood against the blinding heat of the sunlight, holding his umbrella in what was supposed to be sophisticated but came off as incredibly awkward manner. Last bloody person in the world he wanted to see right now.

Sherlock looked down, angry, pistol still in his hand. "What in hell you want, Mycroft?"

The older brother tsked. "Look what a mess you've made, dear brother. Mummy will not be pleased."

Sherlock coughed in annoyance. "Mummy's been dead for years, Mycroft - I think she'll be quite deaf and uncaring about me." She never cared before, she certainly won't now. The thought came unbidden before he had thought out his remark. He usually did not dwell on such things. Wasted emotion on the past was wasted energy. Wasted energy was wasted brain cells. Brain cells that should be occupied with solving who had been in the Network, not crying like a schoolboy.

If Sherlock had been paying attention though, he would have seen concern across his brother's features. Perhaps shame as well.

Sod Mummy! His brain wanted to say, but he clenched his jaw against the words. This concoction had worked before, why didn't it work now? The circumstances must not be right. Oh, he had taken burbon before the drug the first time.

But last time he'd had alcohol his head throbbed so wildly he thought his brains would burst from his skull if he didn't know better, and he'd retched so violently he was quite sure his insides were raw.

Sherlock mustered a smirk, hiding what feelings were tumbling around in his head, trying to ignore them. "As to the mess, I would say the body in the alley is quite a mess, yes. Doubt they could identify it with their minimal resources."

Mycroft hummed absently. "And when have you eaten last?"

"Yesterday. Four. Local time. Foster's Deli." Before the game of blackjack, before he'd won quite a bit of money - before he'd gotten the motherload from one of his contacts and paid extra for anonymity. He must have misunderstood the need.

He wished his stomache would cooperate and quit berating him to feed it.

"That's what I thought," Mycroft said, an awkward attempt at sounding like gentle reproving. "Come along, brother, there is things we must discuss."

"What if I say no?"

"Now, Sherlock, don't be like that. I promised Mummy I would look after you. I aim to keep that promise, though you have cost me time and resources. And a bit of grief."

He laughed, sounding strangely maniacal. "You really thought I was dead? Must have been a brilliant trick."

Mycroft didn't answer that at first, then avoided it completely. "I will have my people get something for that stomache of yours. It would also appear you may need more resources."

"Whatever are you talking about?" He knew full well what was happening. Mycroft was offering help because he knew there were no other leads to follow, but he would rather watch his brother squirm a little.

"Moriarty's network. I believe I have cleared my own organizations - had to after you just up and offed yourself like that." He seemed mildly angry.

Intriguing that his brother might actually care if he had shattered his brains against pavement. He hadn't expressed such feelings before. He chucked a rock against a bin to avoid Mycroft peering at him so intently - knowing what was going on. The rock clinked disappointingly, instead of the bang he had hoped for. "Oh please. Don't pretend you care. It's not becoming for your political future."

"It may not be becoming but you are my brother. Now, my people are going to put you in my car. We are going to one of my locations where you will have food if you choose to eat - and" he waved his umbrella in a disgusted motion, "we'll be clearing whatever you have strung yourself up on out of your system."

He stiffened. He was not fond of pain - and this particular go round would be - it had been weeks since he had properly allowed himself to think. Thinking was painful.

Thinking brought back comparisons - though even the drugs had seemed to intensify those thoughts.

He shook his head at his brother as "his people" helped him out of the proverbial gutter, and into the fancy car with its leather seats, and the damned smiling man sitting across from him.

Mycroft knew his buttons. He knew that Sherlock - at this moment, would be squirming in his own skin. Already clammy and wild-eyed from coming off the "high" - though why they called it that, he never knew.

He stared out the window at the dirty streets, focusing his brain intently on observation rather than his crawling skin, need for a shower and a cuppa and proper food, and the shame that threatened its way into his brain. It was strange he had not felt this way in quite a long time. Or even hinted that he might admit it.

John walking into 221B.

Inhale deeply. Better.

"Sherlock, what are you doing?"

"Nicotine patches, they help me think. Pity they banned smoking in the city, these things are rubbish."

What would John think?

Oh right, John thought he was dead. Probably wouldn't care along with everyone else.

Mycroft was only keeping a promise. A duty. It wasn't because he cared.

The Holmes family was famous for being incapable of such feelings.

A/N: I am sorry I know that wasn't exactly what happened in the flashback in "Study in Pink". I will be back to edit once I have re-watched it.

Please review and let me know if this should be continued or a standalone. I would greatly appreciate reviews, I will even give you proverbial cookies.