Disclaimer: I don't own any of it.
Summary: Sherlock is 20 years old and a drug addict. Mycroft is 27 and a successful young politician. When Sherlock is arrested, Mycroft comes to his aid and the two of them are forced to share prison cell for one night. Can they overcome their differences and find some common ground?
With Such A Wistful Eye
Mycroft paced impatiently up and down the front desk of a grubby London police station. He consulted his watch, gave an annoyed sigh and gazed into the hallway leading to the inner chambers of the station. In the atrium behind him several constables guarded a few drunkards waiting to be booked in, who were, in Mycroft's opinion, too inebriated to cause much damage anyway. It was almost eleven o'clock at night and it was quiet. At last, the desk sergeant returned and took up residence behind the counter again.
"I'm sorry, Mr Holmes, I'm afraid we cannot let you see your brother right now. He has been arraigned this afternoon, but you won't be able to post bail until tomorrow morning."
"You don't understand," Mycroft said coldly, for what felt like the thousandth time. "My brother has an addiction. He's going through withdrawal. He needs medical care, a facility that can handle him and professionals that are equipped to deal with this situation."
The sergeant bristled slightly at the word 'professionals'. "I can assure you that we are more than capable. Now, sir, I'm going to have to ask you to depart."
Mycroft was suddenly aware of the eerie silence that seemed to descend over the hallway. Even the drunkards held their tongue. One of the constables got to his feet. Mycroft made an attempt to made himself broader than he really was. His length was intimidating, his overall physique less so. Being a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy politician was hard work and he was skinny and not at his most healthy. "I'm not leaving here without my brother and I demand that you show me where he's kept."
The sergeant had the audacity to chuckle. "With all due respect, sir, you are not the one giving the orders around here."
"Believe me, I have more than enough power to make sure you never get that promotion you so desperately crave. Money is tight, isn't it? You've got two, no, three young children at home and a wife that's leaving you. So yes, it's logical you want to assert your authority on the only area in your life you have control over, namely your job, but I don't have time for your petty power plays, so I suggest you give up and comply with my, in your words, orders."
The officer gasped, his surprise quickly being overtaken by anger. To his satisfaction, Mycroft saw a vein throbbing at his temple. It had been years since he'd purposefully voiced one of his deductions and for the first time since then, he experienced the full joy of its devastating effects. It was no wonder that this was Sherlock's favourite part.
"Are you threatening me?" The sergeant demanded red-faced. "My kids, my wife, how do you-" He swallowed his words, not quite ready to concede that Mycroft had been correct in every aspect. "How dare you bring them into this! They're my family, they're none of your business."
Mycroft smiled coolly. "And you're holding my family in a cell downstairs. I believe we're more or less equal, don't you think?"
When he reconsidered the matter a few days later, the outcome seemed fairly inevitable. Still, at the time, Mycroft couldn't help but feel a slight pang of surprise and annoyance as he was forcefully slammed against the counter and cold handcuffs bound his wrists behind his back. Thirty minutes later, he'd been booked. His jacket, tie and shoelaces had been removed. He'd been stripped off his armour and marched downstairs by one of the constables, who'd been following the exchange between Mycroft and the sergeant from a distance. He led his detainee down to the holding cells, which were, in Mycroft's opinion, touchingly old-fashioned with their iron bars and wooden bed. The constable brought him all the way to the very last cell, where Mycroft could see a huddled figure crouched in the corner. He opened the door, took a moment to remove Mycroft's handcuffs, before pushing him roughly inside.
"Well, you've finally got your wish, sir," The emphasis on the last word was dripping with contempt. "Enjoy your night with your brother."
Sherlock slowly lifted his head from his arms where it had been resting, while Mycroft disdainfully considered the filthy floor before settling himself precariously upon the wooden bed in the corner. He cleared his throat. "Sherlock." An awkward silence followed. "How are you?"
Sherlock's expression of surprise had quickly morphed into contempt. He drew his knees further up to his chest. "Mycroft." He almost spat the name. "What in God's name are you doing here?
"I came to see you, brother mine," Mycroft answered, his tone falsely amicable. "Due to an unfortunate disagreement between the desk sergeant and myself, I have been offered a stay for the duration of this night."
"You got arrested," Sherlock concluded, somewhat smug.
"Yes, Sherlock," Mycroft replied wearily, "I got arrested."
His brother hid his hands within his sleeves and Mycroft could tell his was shivering. The cold, however, was not capable of erasing the mocking smile from his lips. "What would mummy say?"
"I am quite certain that she would direct her attention to her youngest son's dangerous drug habit and overlook any transgressions on my part," Mycroft snapped back.
Sherlock's eyes darkened and his voice became hard. "Why are you here?"
"I've told you."
"No. You've told me why you are staying here. You've failed to mention why you felt the need to turn up in the first place."
"My team had informed me of your arrest. Seeing your …" he hesitated for a moment while searching for a euphemism, "situation, I figured it would not be long before you went into withdrawal. I wanted to offer you the opportunity to undergo the process in more favourable surroundings."
"An expensive rehab centre, far away from London, to ensure I don't ruin the reputation of Mr Mycroft Holmes, the politician? Thank you kindly for the offer, but I think I have to decline."
Mycroft slowly got up from the bed. Without his suit jacket, tie and shoe laces – all had been removed on orders of the petty sergeant -, he struck a less impressive figure than was normally the case, but the height difference still made Sherlock gaze up at from the floor. Mycroft loomed over him and studied his brother. "You've been here for twelve hours. You must have been fairly desperate for cocaine, seeing as you were fooled into buying it from an undercover officer without deducing his deception. So withdrawal will have set in soon after you were delivered here. With you, stage one is usually demarcated by sweating and being more belligerent than usual. Obviously, this phase has long since passed, seeing as you're wearing all your clothes and are desperately trying to keep warm. Next would've been the vomiting. Currently, however, you are the furthest away from the toilet you can be, so you don't think you'll be needing it in the near future and you are probably disgusted by your close contact with it throughout the day. You've hidden your hands inside your jacket, probably to hide them from me and therefore I must conclude that they're shaking. This demarcates stage three. Chills, followed by cold, fatigue and paranoia. That's where you are now."
"Congratulations," Sherlock told him hatefully. "Though I'd be more impressed if you had deduced this from outside this building and subsequently been able to get me out of here."
"Alas, we don't live in a perfect world."
Sherlock let the matter rest, but only for a few seconds. His eyes narrowed. "But why would you care about my withdrawal? I thought you would've reasoned the bars would prevent any unwanted actions from my side. Also, the last time we met, you made it clear that you wanted nothing to do with me anymore. Therefore, it stands to reason that you would only come to my aid for a reason that pertained to the both of us. Tell me."
Mycroft sighed. "I fear that you are already in the grasp of the paranoia that marks the third stage, little brother. I merely wished to make you more comfortable. No ulterior motives on my part."
"There are always ulterior motives on your part," Sherlock countered quickly. "But, seeing as you're not willing to divulge it, it must concern something that is primarily your experience. Now what would draw you out into the night to rescue me from a filthy prison cell? It can only be guilt. What are you feeling guilty about, Mycroft?"
Mycroft entered his father's library with careful tread. Being allowed in here was a privilege that he had recently been granted on his twelfth birthday. The rules were clear. He was permitted to borrow all the books he could reach, if he returned them to their rightful place unscathed when he'd finished with them. He was not allowed to touch anything else, especially not in the vicinity of his father's desk.
The library was deserted. Mother was down in the kitchens, father was having his tea in the parlour. Sherlock was in the garden, sulking because Mycroft had promised to play with him and then changed his mind in favour of reading. Mycroft felt slightly guilty when he thought back to his brother's pout. Sherlock had been unwilling to listen to his excuses about homework and school, and had stomped out of the house, while Mycroft had retired to his own room to read.
Upon entering the library, Mycroft realized he'd been mistaken. Sherlock had stomped away, but hadn't immediately exited the house. Before doing so, he'd visited the library. Mycroft slowly approached his father's desk, feeling the despair rise in him as he surveyed the wreckage. Ink was everywhere. It covered the books, the papers and mingled with shards of shattered glass that littered the remaining surfaces. Sherlock's revenge.
He'd barely grasped the scale of the destruction when he heard heavy footsteps on the stairs. His father's tread was unmistakable. For a second, he saw Sherlock's disappointed and angry face in front of his mind's eye. Then he made a decision. He threw the book he'd wanted to return onto the wreckage. The ensuing noise immediately brought his father into the room.
He whirled around. "Father! I'm sorry, I couldn't help it! I was just looking and I dropped my book."
His father's eyes roamed across his desk, taking in the chaos. Two steps brought him right in front of Mycroft, who tried his hardest not to cower. The noise as he backhanded his son across the face echoed around the library. Mycroft tasted blood.
"Don't ever let me see you in here again, do you hear me?"
"I'm sorry, I really am!"
"Fine, don't tell me," Sherlock snapped. "I'll guess it before the night's over."
"You do that," Mycroft replied. "I have many things to feel guilty about, but they were not among my immediate reasons for coming here tonight."
"Then what was it?"
"Hasn't the thought ever crossed your mind that it was sentiment, Sherlock?"
Sherlock snorted, before replying sarcastically: "Oddly enough, no, it hasn't! Because you don't do sentiment, Mycroft. Caring is not an advantage. Remember?"
They lapsed into silence. Sherlock was the one to break it. He cleared his throat, a gesture of uncertainty that Mycroft was not used to hearing from him. "Did they frisk you, before putting you in here?"
"Of course they did."
"So you don't have…" his brother hesitated. "You don't have anything with you?"
Mycroft immediately understood what he meant. It must have been humiliating for Sherlock to ask and suddenly, his annoyance evaporated and his heart went out to him. "I'm sorry, I don't." It felt odd to apologize for not indulging his brother's drug habit.
Sherlock briefly shook his head. "Of course you don't." It was meant to sound contemptuous, but Mycroft only heard the edge of desperation.
The police station was ancient, dark and damp. Sherlock was still shivering and Mycroft noticed chills running through his own spine. When he heard the approaching of a guard, he quickly jumped to his feet, determined not to be completely useless. "Sir, excuse me, sir!"
Sherlock watched him from the shaded corner of the cell as Mycroft approached the bars and curled his hands around them. The guard came to the door and to his dismay, Mycroft noticed it was the desk sergeant he'd insulted upstairs. He made an effort to put on his most winning smile. "Sir, I was wondering if we might trouble you for a few extra blankets. It's rather cold down here."
"Is it now?" The sergeant replied in a neutral tone of voice. He came right up to the bars and for a moment, Mycroft played with the thought of reaching out to grab his gun or stick. Perhaps the sergeant read his mind, perhaps he'd just come down here to gloat and saw now the perfect opportunity to exact his revenge in a more painful manner. "You don't threaten my family," he hissed, before he made a fist, threw his hand back and punched Mycroft right in the solar plexus.
Mycroft doubled over in pain immediately, his head colliding with the iron bars before he fell onto the floor, completely breathless. The sergeant stared down at him for a few seconds, before bidding them a goodnight and deserting the hallway once more. Mycroft gasped for air, but nothing seemed to happen. He struggled uselessly for his next breath, but to no avail and the panic set in almost immediately. His heart rate doubled and the blood was pounding in his ears. He felt as if he'd lose consciousness within seconds now.
Then, suddenly, Sherlock was there, on his knees besides Mycroft. He turned his brother onto his back and clasped his face between his two hands. "Calm down." His voice was authoritative and steady. "Mycroft. Calm. Down. Relax your muscles and you'll be able to breathe. Slowly. Small breaths. There you go."
Glorious air flooded Mycroft's lungs and he allowed himself to rest on the concrete for a moment, while Sherlock's hands palpated his forehead, declaring finally he wasn't bleeding. As Mycroft calmed down and regained his composure, Sherlock slid back across the floor a few feet to put some distance between the two of them and leaned against the bed, while Mycroft slowly sat up against the bars across from him.
"You're an idiot," Sherlock told him viciously, using his only way to show concern. "Are you really that naïve, approaching a guard you managed to insult earlier this evening? I fear for the British government with you at the helm."
Mycroft carefully touched the spot where the guard had punched him. He suppressed the urge to unbutton his shirt to check for a bruise. It had been over a decade since he'd been involved in a fight of any sort, though honesty bid him to admit that this hadn't been a fight as much as an attack. "You're freezing," he said curtly. "I thought we might have been able to get some more blankets. Anyway, I didn't notice it was the same man until it was too late."
"And yet you still stood at the bars and allowed him to hit you."
"I didn't allow him to hit me. And I make no apologies for the fact that I'm not as street-smart as you evidently are."
Sherlock shrugged. "There are many kinds of intelligence, Mycroft."
"Yes, and you are wasting most of yours!" Mycroft suddenly felt the absurd urge to draw Sherlock into a fight with him. As if getting beaten by a guard had somehow awakened his aggressive spirit and he wanted to spar, whether it was physically or verbally.
Sherlock didn't take the bait. He knew Mycroft almost as well as Mycroft knew him and he didn't want to give his brother the satisfaction. So Mycroft went on, determined to get his response. "You're twenty years old. You should be at University. Instead, you frequent drug dealers and destroy yourself with whatever opiates you can get your hands on. Remember how you told me about your mind? You were four years old and you said it was like a palace. Right now, you're ruining it. If you go on for a few more years, you soon will have nothing left but a shack."
"I was four years old and I told you that my mind was like a palace," Sherlock said softly, not looking his brother in the eye. "You were eleven and said yours was like a castle. You'd managed the organize and fortify it. You knew all the tricks and you could blend in with whomever you liked. I was the freak and I needed you to tell me how to structure my palace." Suddenly, he lifted his head and his eyes seemed to blaze. "I needed you, Mycroft, and you left me without as much as a goodbye. So don't tell me how I'm ruining my life. It's none of your damn business."
It was 5:30 in the morning and Mycroft silently crept into his brother's room. His suitcases were downstairs, the car ready and everything was prepared for him to leave for Eaton. He was twelve years old and his brother had just turned six. Sherlock was still sleeping. He hadn't reacted well to the news that Mycroft was leaving and had spent most of the previous evening either sulking in his room, clinging to his brother or shouting at his parents. It had been well past midnight when he'd finally been persuaded to sleep.
The change that came over his brother when his conscious mind had shut down had always seemed remarkable to Mycroft. While the six-year-old was wild and lively every waking second, he became gentle, soft and tiny in sleep. Mycroft reached out to brush a stray curl back from his forehead. He leaned over him: "Sherlock. Sher!"
Slowly, the blue eyes blinked to life. "My?"
"I have to go now, okay? I have to go to school. But I'll be back soon, I promise you that. And I'll write to you as much as I can."
Sherlock had only awoken partly and Mycroft was sure he didn't fully comprehend what he was hearing. "'kay," he replied softly, curling his hand around the tip of his blanket.
Mycroft hesitated for a moment. He knew that whatever happened in the six minutes before a person fell asleep, the conscious mind wouldn't able to recall. It was why people could answer phone calls in the middle of the night and not remember it the next morning. Allowing Sherlock to drop off again would mean he forgot their goodbye.
Sherlock stared up at him, his expression open and trusting. "Go back to sleep, Sher," Mycroft whispered. He ran another hand through the dark curls. Sherlock's eyes closed almost immediately and Mycroft saw him fade back to his dreams. "Be good, okay? For me."
"I'm sorry. You are correct," Mycroft told him heavily. He suddenly didn't want to fight anymore. "I have no right to tell you what to with your life. I just wish I did."
"We were lonely before you left for Eaton," Sherlock said. "And that was acceptable, that was fine, because we were lonely together. But then you left and you made friends and when you came back, I was lonely and alone in that. You didn't even say goodbye."
Mycroft's smile was painful. "I never meant for you to be lonely. I was a child, Sherlock. I didn't know. But you are wrong about one thing. I did say goodbye. But I'm afraid I did so while you were half-asleep early in the morning and it faded from your memory."
"You know I'm not. Six minutes."
"Six minutes," Sherlock repeated, sounding almost enchanted, and he looked at Mycroft again, really looked at him, for once without anger or resentment. "You explained that to me in your first letter home. It was the sort of thing you knew I liked. But you never mentioned you'd come to say goodbye! Why didn't you tell me?"
"There are many things for which you're perfectly allowed to resent me," Mycroft replied calmly. "The fact that this small event is not one of them is immaterial. It's as good a reason as any and I've given you plenty."
Sherlock gave a small shake of his head, but didn't comment. At last, he remarked: "Perhaps I should refrain from calling you my archenemy."
Mycroft smiled. "Please don't. I consider it an honorary title."
The ensuing silence lasted several moments. Sherlock leaned his head back against the thin and worn mattress on the bed. He still sat with his knees drawn up to his chest and his arms enveloping his legs. Mycroft could see he trembled ever so slightly, then draw a shuddering breath. Sherlock tried to get up, but his legs wouldn't support him and he dropped back onto the floor. Mycroft saw how his resolve was crumbling fast now. "I can't do this, My. I need a fix. I can't … I can't be locked in here." His gaze turned feverish all of a sudden. "You've got to help me. You've got to get me something."
"I can't, Sherlock." He refrained from showing any emotion. Pity would not be well-received.
Sherlock laced his hands together, pressed them to his lips and attempted to warm them by blowing on them. "You're useless."
"I know," Mycroft accepted the insult calmly, knowing that Sherlock's mood changed rapidly in these situations and getting angry at him wasn't going to help matters. "Why don't you lie down on the bed?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Too cold. Can't move."
Mycroft understood. Even moving or stretching out fully to lie down comfortably would be unbearable in his current condition. The exhaustion had already advanced so much that Sherlock would barely be able to get up. Once more, he mentally cursed the desk sergeant for his cruelty in not providing them with extra blankets.
Mycroft slowly got up the floor, wincing as the movement jarred his still tender chest. He knelt down next to his brother and grasping him under his armpits, lifted his skinny frame unto the bed.
"Mycroft, I told you…"
Mycroft shushed him. He gently pushed his brother down and made him lie on his side. Then he crawled over him and went to lie behind him. Looping one arm around his brother's chest, he drew him close to his own body, warming the both of them by their contact. Sherlock was ice-cold under his touch.
"Sherlock," Mycroft said wearily. "You're freezing, I'm here and there's no-one else to witness your embarrassment. Just go to sleep. They'll let us out in the morning."
Silence. He felt his brother slowly and reluctantly relax against him. Then, petulantly: "If you tell mummy about this, I'm denying it."
Mycroft sighed. "Go to sleep, Sherlock."
They spent several hours fitfully dozing in the cell. Mycroft slept lightly, waking every time as Sherlock as much as stirred. Sherlock slept slightly deeper, the withdrawal having exhausted him. It must have been around six in the morning when Sherlock seemed to wake fully. He lay completely still for a moment, then immediately disentangled himself from his brother's embrace. He stood up, loomed over the bed, while Mycroft slowly turned on his back and blinked up at him.
"I've figured it out," Sherlock said. His voice was oddly calm.
"Why you came here last night."
Mycroft wearily got up. "Sherlock, not that again. Give it up. I came here because you're my brother. End of story."
"No, you didn't. You felt guilty. You came here to get me out, because you didn't want me in. You allowed the guard to punch you, because you felt guilty and suffering for helping me would give you some sort of absolution. Now why would you feel guilty? It wasn't because of something that happened in our childhood. No, this is fresh guilt, not an old wound that suddenly played up. Therefore, you were involved last night in all this." Sherlock paced up and down the cell now. "I know the place where I go to get my drugs is safe. That's why I wasn't on my guard. No undercover officer has ever been sighted there, the homeless told me as much. Yet last night, I was arrested by one and you suddenly became involved in my life again. You sent him. Not to get me arrested, no, that would be a later plan. For now, you probably just wanted to scare me. You counted on me identifying the cop and realizing that it wasn't safe. I'd have to find a new dealer and you'd pull the same trick, until eventually, I realized that it wasn't convenient to sustain my habit and I'd come crying to you. 'Oh, big brother, please help me kick my habit'. And you'd swoop in and be the saviour." His eyes narrowed. "But it didn't play out that way, did it? I was arrested and that wasn't part of your little plan. So you came here to control the damage. And you managed to screw that up too."
"I am done listening to you," Sherlock interrupted coolly. He strode to the other side of the cell and sat in the corner, purposefully looking away from his brother.
"I won't apologize for trying to get you clean," Mycroft told him. "What happened just proves how much you need it. You'd have been able to recognize an undercover officer when you were twelve."
"He was good at what he did," Sherlock muttered petulantly, apparently having forgotten his resolve of ignoring Mycroft.
"You are good at what you do," Mycroft countered. "At least, you could be, if you tried."
"I'm not you, Mycroft."
"I'm not asking you to be. No-one is. Just don't let yourself down like this."
"You sound like a greeting card."
Mycroft sighed in annoyance. "Fine. Dismiss me. But I will continue to make it difficult for you to sustain this habit. It stops, Sherlock."
"It stops when I want it to."
The remaining two hours were spent in icy silence and Mycroft was relieved to hear footsteps coming down the hallway and even more relieved to see it wasn't the desk sergeant with whom he was on less than amicable terms at the moment. Instead, Detective Inspector Lestrade stood in front of the cell door. Even Sherlock got to his feet.
"Mr and Mr Holmes. Morning," Lestrade said, cup of hot coffee in his hand, looking annoyingly and smugly rested. "Now I remember locking one of you up last night," he looked pointedly at Sherlock, "but I was surprised to hear that we'd become the host to both of you in my absence. Congratulations, your boss," he indicated Mycroft this time, "has posted bail for the two of you."
Mycroft wasn't surprised to hear that. He knew his superior would come through and it would probably not take long for him to convince the powers that be to drop the charges.
Lestrade beckoned a constable, who'd followed him silently and now presented the keys. He opened the door and Sherlock was the first to go through it. "Follow Constable Henderson," Lestrade told him. "He will return your belongings to you."
Mycroft stepped out of the cell as well. Sherlock was almost out of sighed already, in a hurry to get away from his brother and not once looking back. Mycroft offered his hand to Lestrade. "Inspector Lestrade, thank you. I am much obliged to you for your help last night. I apologize for making a nuisance out of myself."
Lestrade didn't take his hand. "When you gave me the tip several days ago, I was unaware you'd sent me to arrest your brother."
Mycroft lowered his hand. "And that would've changed your response? Do familial relations always play a part in your decision to arrest someone?"
"I have a younger brother," Lestrade said coldly. "And yes, he's a git sometimes. But that doesn't mean I can arrest him and force him into whatever I want him to do."
"You are unfamiliar with the situation," Mycroft told him, his voice like steel. "My brother is an addict. He needs to be saved and half measures won't accomplish that."
"I know enough." Lestrade pointed at the security camera's in the roof. "I've seen the way he looks at you when you don't see it. He admires you, even though he'd never admit it. You want to protect your brother. Here's a tip: ask him to stop. Don't order him. Find him, but do it without your men or the police. Offer him your hand, but don't use it to handcuff him."
Mycroft started to feel oddly chastened. "I shall take your suggestions under advisement," he replied stiffly. "Now, I believe I was free to go?"
"You are. But I warn you, Mr Holmes, if you ever use my police force to settle your own disputes again, I will make sure that both you and Sherlock will regret it."
"Good," Lestrade said in a more cheerful tone. "Follow me and I'll return your affects to you."
When Mycroft exited the police station fifteen minutes later, Sherlock was nowhere in sight. He decided to return to his apartment for the moment to call his boss to thank him for getting them out. He also reckoned he had some explaining to do. The money for both their bail sums was easily repaid, but forgiveness and trust was much harder to earn back. A politician's private life had to be conducted with discretion and Mycroft knew he hadn't quite accomplished that in the last twenty-four hours.
It was evening and Mycroft wasn't resting easily. Several times, his fingers had crawled into the direction of the phone, intent on ordering a surveillance team to find his brother, but he managed to stay his hand. With every passing minutes, he increasingly felt he was too late now and that Sherlock would have found a willing dealer to supply him with what he needed.
At ten o'clock, he decided Lestrade had been right. During the last twenty-four hours, he'd argued with the police, been arrested, locked up and punched by a guard. It was a day of firsts all around and he might as well add to that.
He left his house without a weapon or back-up. There were numerous areas in the city Sherlock could go to for drugs, but Mycroft knew him better than any other and after having been busted at his usual spot, Sherlock would've reasoned that that exact location would be the safest and most unexpected place to be. Mycroft took his car and drove to the remote area of the dockyards his brother frequented. His surveillance team had brought him here once before when they'd been picking Sherlock up after an overdose. Another failed rehab attempt had followed. This time, Mycroft was determined not to let the both of them down.
He parked his car and started to search the area on foot. There were no people on the street and Mycroft wasn't sure whether that made him safer or an easy target. It didn't take long for him to find Sherlock. It never had, he remembered. When they were children, his mother often complained about the fact that Sherlock had hidden himself somewhere in their large manor and it had usually fallen to Mycroft to find him. Mycroft had almost always managed it very quickly, up to the point that their mother had jokingly asked him whether there was a magnetic force pulling them together. Perhaps there was.
Sherlock was sitting on the cold and filthy floor, his back leaning against an empty shipyard container. Mycroft approached him slowly and Sherlock looked up to glare at him.
"Here to take me away again?" He peered into the darkness behind Mycroft. "Got your team behind the corner to shove me into a van and cart me off to the nearest centre?"
"No," Mycroft replied softly. He walked towards his brother and settled himself on the same ground next to his brother, not caring whether he ruined his suit by doing so. "I came alone."
Silence. Sherlock didn't look at him. Then, at last, he said: "I didn't get any." He made a sound halfway between a laugh and a sob. "Don't know why."
"I'm glad you didn't."
"I know you are."
"Sherlock," Mycroft began carefully. "I'm going to offer you my help once more. Offer it, mind you. It'll be your decision and this time, it will be done with you and not to you. I'm not going to ask you to do it for me or for mummy. It's your decision, your call and if you choose to walk away, I'll let you." Sherlock turned to look at him. Mycroft continued gently: "Do you want to stop using, brother mine?"
"I … I …" Sherlock wasn't able to form the words and fell silent.
"Give yourself a moment to think it over," Mycroft said. "I'll be in my car, parked right around the corner. Find me, if you're sure you want it. If you decide not to right now, my door will still be open for you in the future. But I won't hunt you down again. You have my word."
Sherlock didn't answer him and Mycroft went back to his vehicle. The night was cold, his clothes were dirty and he'd just thrown out his last life vest. He sat behind the wheel of his car and wondered how long he could allow himself to wait with the hope of a good outcome. It was a question he had no answer to. In the end, the illuminated clock on his dashboard told him it had been exactly twenty-seven minutes.
Then the car door opened and Sherlock settled himself in the passenger seat. Mycroft turned the engine on and without speaking a word, drove the both of them away from the docks towards home.
A/N: Any comment you have, is much appreciated!