Yes, I know, I should be finishing "Permanent". But this is more fun! This idea wouldn't leave me alone, so I decided to just get it out.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything
Thanks to my awesome beta, Gryphon31, for reviewing this while severely sleep deprived!
Reichenbach spoilers, and one less-than-polite word. So beware.
Sherlock was five years old when he asked his brother to teach him Morse Code.
"Why?" Mycroft had questioned, raising an eyebrow. He was curious as to how the little boy had even heard of it, let alone decided it was worth learning.
"I read about it in my book. You can use it to send people messages without talking! It would be cool!" Sherlock exclaimed, his young face alight with excitement. Taking in his brother's dubious look, he quickly added "and...you know...useful."
Mycroft's expression did not change. "Knowing Morse Code is only useful when there are others around who understand it as well, Sherlock. Considering that very few people do know it, learning it seems a bit impractical, don't you think?"
Sherlock crossed his arms, not answering, so Mycroft continued. "I don't even know Morse Code. So I could hardly teach you anyhow."
With a huff of annoyance, Sherlock turned away. "Fine." He muttered. "Was just asking." Mycroft rolled his eyes as his brother sighed theatrically and threw himself into an armchair to pout. Watching the boy curl up, his lower lip protruding stubbornly, the eldest felt his resolve weaken. Sherlock really was bored often. It wouldn't hurt to give him something else to occupy himself with. Mummy would have a fit if she caught him dissecting dead animals again.
"Alright." Mycroft declared. Sherlock's head popped up, his unruly black curls bouncing from the quick movement.
"Really?" The child's voice was hopeful, and his gloomy facade brightened instantly. A warm smile spread unbidden across Mycroft's face.
"I don't see why not. We'll learn together," He said decisively, holding out a hand to his brother, "alright?"
With a grin, Sherlock leapt up, grasping Mycroft's larger hand tightly.
"Wait, My! You're doing it too fast! I can't keep up!" Sherlock whined irritably. They were in a secluded corner of the library, various books on Morse Code spread out on the table between them.
"You're just thinking too slow, Sherlock. Focus." Mycroft reprimanded. His brother was eager to learn, but the boy was squirming in his seat and eyeing the library's other occupants, clearly not devoting all of his attention to Mycroft's tutelage.
"I am!" Sherlock snapped, his face scrunching up in obvious concentration. Chuckling, Mycroft gently replied. "Alright. Let's try again then."
Slowing his speed slightly, he tapped his finger on the table again, using a series of long and short beats to spell out Can you understand me?
Sherlock's brow furrowed even further, as he began tapping a message in return. Yes, I can undersland you.
Mycroft fought another chuckle, knowing it would irritate his little brother. The boy despised failing at something, especially when Mycroft succeeded. "Well done, Sherlock. Try "T" again for me please?"
Understanding the subtle correction, Sherlock quickly tapped out the entire message again with a scowl, making sure to fix his error. Smiling at his brother's triumph, Mycroft decided they were done for the day.
"Excellent work, brother." Sherlock smiled brightly at the praise, and began collecting their books. Standing, Mycroft tapped one more message out on the worn table. I'm very proud of you.
Mycroft walked through the gates to his school, dragging a reluctant Sherlock behind him. It was the boy's first day, and he had been uncharacteristically quiet all the way to the building. Glancing down at his brother, he found that the boy's discomfort was unmistakable. Sherlock's face, paler than usual, was shocked and weary. His eyes darted around the schoolyard, nervously taking in all of his new peers. As a few boys dashed past, laughing boisterously, Sherlock shrunk away, pressing himself as close to Mycroft as possible.
Mycroft sighed. He has suspected that this would be a difficult adjustment for his brother. School had come as a shock to him as well. It was there that children like the Holmes boys discovered just how different they were from their peers. Their intelligence set them apart, and children could be so cruel to those who were unique. Eyeing Sherlock's classmates, Mycroft could do little other than hope that his brother could find a friend among them.
Placing a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder, he directed Sherlock to his classroom. Sherlock stopped outside the door and looked up at his brother, his eyes communicating both his need for comfort and his embarrassment about that fact. Smiling gently, Mycroft squeezed his brother's shoulder and began tapping a message. Be yourself. It will be alright.
Visibly reassured, Sherlock smiled slightly and entered his room. Mycroft turned and headed towards his own class, knowing he would spend the entire day worrying.
The Holmes brothers' rooms were separated only by a thin wall, which both of their beds were pressed against. Most nights, this didn't bother Mycroft at all. The boy was usually fast asleep by the time he fell into bed. Sherlock didn't snore or speak in his sleep, so it had never bothered him.
One night, however, Mycroft lay awake, staring at the ceiling. Through the wall beside him, he could hear Sherlock tossing and turning. The boy was whimpering and shifting restlessly in his sleep, obviously having a nightmare.
Torn between pity for his brother's suffering and irritation at being kept awake by it, Mycroft sighed. He was just beginning to debate the merits of leaving his warm bed to go to his brother when the noise suddenly stopped.
Sighing again, this time in relief, Mycroft turned over and closed his eyes. Just as sleep was about to claim him, however, a light tapping on the wall disturbed him. Fighting the urge to groan, he struggled for a moment to decipher the message through his sleepy mind. SOS.
Turning swiftly back to the wall, Mycroft began tapping his reply. All is well. You are safe. I am here. He repeated this message a few times, until his hand began to ache. Pressing his ear to the wall, he listened for any more signs of distress from his brother. Hearing none, Mycroft once again allowed himself to relax, slipping into a sleep as peaceful as the one he'd helped Sherlock achieve.
Mycroft was curled up on the couch reading when Sherlock stormed in. Slamming the door, angrily tossing his book-bag aside and wrenching off his coat, he stalked across the room and threw himself into his favorite armchair. Used to his brother's theatrics, Mycroft did not lift his eyes from his book.
"Difficult day?" he asked lightly, his slight amusement leaking into his tone. His amusement faded quickly, however, when he received a quiet sniffle in reply.
His head snapped up, and he quickly took in Sherlock's distressed appearance. The boy was curled around himself, eyes glazed over as he stubbornly fought against the tears filling them. As the details revealed what had happened, Mycroft's heart ached for his brother. He could practically hear the other children's cruel words. "Freak!" "Creep!" "Loser!" They'd laughed at him, shoved him, ridiculed him.
For a moment, Mycroft was at a loss. He wanted nothing more than to gather his brother close to him and comfort him, but that would have mortified Sherlock. The boy had never been one for physical comfort; it unsettled him and would damage his already hurt pride. Instead, Mycroft returned to him book. Holding the novel with one hand, he let the other rest of the coffee table beside him, his finger tapping out the familiar beats of their code.
You are brilliant. You are special. You are wonderful. Never let anyone convince you otherwise.
Mycroft suppressed a sigh at the silence on the other end of the line. Sherlock had done little but sulk since Mycroft had left for University, and it had put a great strain on their relationship. He called his brother often, but they were both surprised to find they had little to say to each other.
Their lives differed so greatly now, they had little in common. It pained Mycroft, feeling his brother slip away from him, but he knew there was nothing he could do. Life would change their relationship, and he had no control over it.
Still, he grew frustrated with Sherlock's lack of effort. He had spent the last half hour struggling to keep a conversation going, and had received single syllables in response. Tired of the silence, and thinking perhaps none of it was worth the effort anymore, Mycroft opened his mouth to end the call.
Just as he did, he was interrupted by a few seconds of quick tapping. I miss you, My.
A rueful smile on his face, Mycroft lifted his hand and tapped out his reply. I miss you, too.
Promising to call again in a few days, Mycroft hung up. He would never give up on Sherlock.
"I hate you!" Sherlock groaned, before once again retching into the toilet. He was detoxing, and it was far from a pretty sight.
Mycroft hovered in the door, unsure of what to do. He had watched Sherlock destroy his body and mind for two years with drugs. It had taken a nearly fatal overdose for him to realize that enough was enough. After that, it had taken him mere minutes to arrange the details. All of Sherlock's dealers had mysteriously disappeared, Sherlock had been taken against his will to Mycroft's flat, and Mycroft himself had been given a month's leave from work to look after his wayward sibling.
He had been so sure of his decision, and everything had been so simple until now. Now, he was helpless as Sherlock shook in agony, spewing hateful words at him between heaves. Perhaps forcing his brother to quit cold turkey was not the wisest decision. He was so horrified by Sherlock's overdose, he had not been thinking logically. All he had thought of was getting that wretched poison out of his brother as soon as possible.
Standing a bit straighter, Mycroft decided that, for better or worse, he was committed. It would most likely be a long and difficult process for both of them. Sherlock may never get over his current resentment, but that didn't matter anymore. Sherlock could resent him all he liked, so long as he was healthy.
As Sherlock's body was once again wracked with nausea, and he heaved and shook, Mycroft moved to kneel beside him. The tile was cold and hard against his knees, but Mycroft remained, his hand warm on his brother's trembling back. Forcing himself to ignore the horrid sounds of Sherlock's retching, he began tapping against the younger man's spine, unsure if his message would be received. I am only doing this because I care about you.
There was a pause, as Sherlock finished emptying his stomach. Resting his sweating cheek against the cool porcelain, his weak hand slowly tapped a reply. I know.
Making himself comfortable in John's chair, Mycroft forced back a smirk. Across the room, Sherlock was sniping at him about some silly thing or another. This was a familiar routine for the brothers now. Mycroft made a habit of invading Sherlock's privacy, and Sherlock was always sure to give him hell for it.
Beside the lanky detective, John was trying to calm to flatmate, clearly unnerved by the harsh words. He didn't understand, he couldn't. There was no true venom behind their words; it was merely a game. They were both acutely uncomfortable with displays of affection, and far too proud to admit such. Instead, they bickered endlessly, both reveling in the opportunity to sharpen their wits against a worthy opponent.
As he accepted his brother's insults and flung them back with ease, he couldn't help but observe the effect John Watson had on his brother. Sherlock's danger nights had become practically non-existent, and he seemed so much more confident. He had finally found a friend, someone besides his brother who accepted him as he was and enjoyed his presence. He had been right; John Watson would be the making of his brother.
Meeting Sherlock's bright eyes across the room, Mycroft tapped lightly on the handle of his ever-present umbrella. How are you?
Not pausing in his tirade, Sherlock tapped a reply against his leg. Happy.
This time, Mycroft was unable to contain his grin. I am glad.
There had been silence in Mycroft's flat for over an hour now. The only sound was the clacking of keys on Mycroft's phone as he made arrangements. Helping his brother fake his death was surprisingly more difficult than he had suspected. Sherlock was determined to destroy what remained of Moriarty's crime circle personally, and he would require transportation, shelter, supplies, and protection. Then, of course, there was the matter that if even one person recognized him, John, Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson would be in danger and Sherlock's great ruse would have all been for nothing.
Setting aside his phone for the moment, Mycroft regarded his quiet brother. He looked so worn and weary. His eyes stared without seeing at the wall opposite him. In the course of a day, the young detective had lost so much. His reputation, his home, his friends, even his identity, all gone. The man across from him was merely a shell of the one Mycroft had grinned at in Baker Street two short years ago.
Guilt overwhelmed Mycroft. It was his fault, all of it. He had been a fool, and had played right into Moriarty's game. Thinking he was saving the world, he had given Moriarty the key to destroying his brother. Despite being one of the most brilliant men alive, he felt like the most wretched idiot on the planet.
Lost in his guilt and remorse, Mycroft did the only thing he could think of, picking up his teacup from the table and knocking his finger sharply against it. I am so sorry, Sherlock.
For a moment, Sherlock didn't move, didn't respond at all. His face remained stony, his eyes unfocused. Just as Mycroft was beginning to think his brother hadn't heard him, the younger man turned to face him. His face remained pained, but his eyes had warmed just the slightest bit. A look of understanding crossed his features, followed by a rueful smile, and then the sound of tapping could be heard once again. I forgive you.