Not Wise, But All-Knowing

*Author's Note: This story starts during the episode A Scandal in Belgravia and goes through The Reichenbach Fall and onwards. All of the dialogue for the first three scenes are direct quotes from the show, but after that all dialogue is original. Enjoy!*

Mycroft has never approved of Sherlock's little smoking habit; such a base activity. Why on earth one would risk lung and throat cancer for a slightly calmer mood Mycroft will never understand. It's better than Sherlock's alternative drug habit, though.

Sherlock and Mycroft stand side by side at the end of a long corridor. Round, perfectly spaced fluorescent lamps flicker dully overhead, casting the pair in a dim, blue-tinged light. Every so often, Sherlock takes a drag on his cigarette. Mycroft resists the urge to pull a face. He knows better than to complain, though. Tonight is a risk night. He's sure of it. Just the fact that Sherlock is willing to stand here with Mycroft instead of insulting him and striding off is proof of that, although there are numerous other signs. The slight tremor in Sherlock's hand for one thing, the soft crease in the detective's forehead, the tension between his shoulder-blades. His pain is written all over him. Mycroft wonders what it's like to feel pain like that, pain caused by caring about another human being. All he can do is wonder, though.

"Look at them," intones Sherlock contemplatively, his deep voice echoing eerily off of the endless stark, white walls of the hallway. "They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?" They. Us. In this moment, Mycroft realizes that his little brother doesn't know, doesn't realize the difference between the two brothers standing there next to each other. Sherlock has been told his entire life that he's heartless, that he is a sociopath, and Sherlock has believed it. After all, he has never been able to feel sympathy the way that other people do every day so easily. But just the fact that Sherlock's here, smoking his cigarette to chase away the pain of losing someone shows how different these two men are. Sherlock has friends. Somewhere along the way, Sherlock has learned how to care. The fact that Sherlock became a detective means something, too. No one heartless spends so much time and effort helping people. Sure, Sherlock mostly just sees these cases as puzzles in need of solving, as a way of staving off the boredom for just a little longer, but there are other ways to find puzzles to solve besides helping people get justice.

"All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock," states Mycroft with dramatic slowness. It's a warning, a subtle attempt at shielding his brother from the pain that will inevitably come from all of these relationships Sherlock has somehow managed to form. It's the closest Mycroft himself may ever get to really caring.

Sherlock makes a face at his cigarette, blue eyes flashing with irritation.

"This is low tar," he complains, crushing the thin curl of white paper between his pale fingers. It's obviously not really the cheap cigarette that's bothering him. Mycroft merely ignores the irrelevant comment. He tries again.

"Well, you barely knew her," he points out calmly, turning to face Sherlock now. Eye contact and intimate body language can make points more potent, Mycroft has found. It doesn't seem to work, though. Sherlock still looks troubled. This woman still has some hold over him. Ridiculous. This is why forming relationships with people is such a silly notion. Connections are weaknesses. Sherlock flings his cheap cigarette to the ground and strides off without another word, his raised coat-collar blocking his face from Mycroft's view. Mycroft watches him go for a moment, then looks down at the cigarette butt slowly curling in on itself on the cold, white ground. It's still smoking a little. His brother really is such a messy person. No decorum at all. Mycroft leans down, picking up the slightly warm cigarette and depositing it in the nearest trash can.

For a moment, Mycroft wonders if there really is something wrong with him.

He wonders if this is what it's like to feel lonely. Probably not.

-XXXXXXX-

Mycroft has never really felt guilty before. Irritated, yes, angry at being beaten, yes, but, now Mycroft feels… defeated. Grey eyes bore into him from the opposite armchair, working out what he's done. It takes John a second to realize that Mycroft has put his own brother's life on the line for the sake of his job, takes him a moment to realize Mycroft's betrayal. John may never have liked Mycroft much, but he has always trusted him before this. He had thought that they were on the same side; both looking out for Sherlock. Mycroft had thought so, too. He had made a stupid mistake. He had let his own arrogance get the better of him. Mycroft had always assumed that the only person out there smart enough to fool him was Sherlock. He knows better now. It's too late for that knowledge to be of any use, though. The damage to Sherlock has already been done.

"One big lie, but people will swallow it because the rest of it's true," says John slowly with painful realization. His voice is deceptively calm, but Mycroft can see the rage boiling under the doctor's skin. He supposes he should just be glad that the other man has so much self-control. John makes a hand gesture, starting to point an accusatory finger at Mycroft, but catches himself, bringing his finger to his own lips instead and raising his eyebrows in incredulous anger. Mycroft can see the effort all of this composure is taking John. Somehow, this almost makes Mycroft feel worse. Almost.

John leans forward in his seat, inhaling sharply.

"Moriarty wanted Sherlock destroyed," he states, "and you have given him the perfect ammunition." John smiles then, a thin, angry smile, and something in Mycroft hurts.

"John," he murmurs as the other man gets up to leave, looking imploringly up at the fair-haired man. For a moment, Mycroft doesn't know what else to say. Another first. Words are things which Mycroft has never had a problem manipulating before. Finally, he settles on: "I'm sorry."

John just lets out a short laugh of disbelief, shaking his head at the utter inadequacy of that statement. Suddenly, Mycroft can't bear to look at John anymore. His gaze drops to the floor, his eyes seeking out some pattern in the grain of the wood there. He doesn't know how to deal with this cold, thin feeling blossoming in his chest. His chest feels tight, and a lump is forming in his throat. His heart rate has increased as well. It… hurts.

"Tell him, would you?" he states quietly as John yanks open the door to Mycroft's office and strides off angrily down the corridor. It isn't really a question. He knows John is too angry, too indignant at Mycroft's betrayal to do him this favor, but he says it anyway in the hopes that it will make him feel better. It doesn't. This is what comes of connections. This is what comes of caring, this pain. Sherlock is Mycroft's only family left, really. Sure, that doesn't mean as much to them as it does to normal people, but it is enough to bond them together in a way that Mycroft isn't bonded to anyone else. Mycroft has always felt responsible for his brother, and now he is responsible for his undoing.

Mycroft's iPhone buzzes in his suit pocket and he deftly extracts it, reading the text message splashed across its glowing screen. A foreign dignitary from France needs safe transport into the country by the end of the week. Immediately, Mycroft switches back into work mode, his brain already churning through all of the possible ways to smuggle the man into London without causing a scene. After all, he has already sacrificed the only thing he's ever come close to caring about for his job and his country. He might as well see it through.

-XXXXXXX-

"All lives end. All hearts are broken."

Mycroft isn't sentimental enough to make himself actually go to Sherlock's funeral. It isn't a very large affair, anyways. Most of the people who would have come now think Sherlock was just loon who spent all his time lying to them. In fact, the only people who actually show up and stand there dutifully while the coffin is lowered down into the earth are John and Mrs. Hudson. Mycroft is mildly surprised that the woman who works down in the morgue isn't there. After all, she always seemed quite besotted with Sherlock, but perhaps the lies about Sherlock have made her too angry at the consulting detective to show, too.

Mycroft leans back in his chair, the numerous computer monitors lining the wall before him bathing his face in a pale, blue light. There are three separate cameras around the cemetery that allow him views of Sherlock's funeral, and all three are carefully trained on the two figures dressed all in black standing solemnly by as the workmen throw dirt onto Sherlock's coffin. Mrs. Hudson is prattling away, alternating between praising Sherlock and scolding him. John just stands there, occasionally remembering that he's supposed to be listening and nodding, but mostly just watching blankly as the men throw shovel-full after shovel-full of dirt onto his best friend. John's back is tense, his jaw clenched, and he is holding himself the way he would've back in the military when speaking to someone higher-ranking than himself.

Finally, the workmen are done and Sherlock is buried. Mycroft has other work he needs to get back to. This whole affair has taken up too much of his time already, but something holds him there as Mrs. Hudson pats John consolingly on the back and walks away to give him some privacy, some sense of duty. Traces of the guilt still linger. This is his brother, after all. The polite code of conduct would be to stay at least until the end of the funeral, although, to be fair, the code of conduct probably didn't expect Mycroft to be doing this through high-jacked security cameras.

John just stands there for a moment, his whole body tense as he stares down at the neat, little letters spelling out Sherlock's name across the grey arch of stone marking the detective's grave. Then the doctor looks around, checking to see if anyone is near enough to witness his actions. John tentatively extends a hand, tenderly caressing the cool rock of Sherlock's tombstone only to jerk his hand away guiltily. Mycroft can see why. It is rather embarrassing to show such sentimentality towards a rock. Sherlock is dead. His body now is just that: a body, and this grave is just a convenient storage location for said body. Sherlock isn't really there. He's gone. Forever.

"One more thing," John whispers haltingly to the cold stone. Mycroft presses a few buttons, zooming in one of the cameras as far as it will go on the doctor's face. The carefully maintained expression of calm John has worn all afternoon is cracking around the edges. The muscles around his mouth spasm, and his eyebrow twitches once, scrunching up into a pained frown. "One more miracle, Sherlock, for me: don't be dead. Would you, just for me, just stop it, stop this?" John stands there for a moment, waiting for a reply that can't possibly come, then he turns around and walks away quickly. He doesn't look back. His jaw is set determinedly once more.

Mycroft adjusts the cameras, following the doctor's movements as he strides off across the graveyard. Leaning forward so that his face is mere inches from the monitor, Mycroft examines John's face closely. He wonders if that pain he can see in John's watery grey eyes is how he should be feeling right now. He wonders what that kind of grief might be like.

For the second time, Mycroft ponders if there's something wrong with him that he can't cry like that over the death of his only brother.

-XXXXXXX-

Mycroft glances up from his letter to the Chinese ambassador to quickly press a few buttons, swapping from stealing feed from a security camera outside the door of a Tesco to nabbing feed from a bank's video camera. Most of Mycroft's computer screen is taken up with aforementioned letter, but there's a small window open at the bottom of his second monitor showing live feed of John Watson maneuvering his way tiredly through the throng of commuters on their way home from work. Mycroft isn't exactly sure why he's felt the need to keep tabs on John for the past month and a half, but he thinks it has to do with the expression on John's face when Mycroft told him that he needed to watch over Sherlock. It also probably has to do with the fact that Mycroft still feels a bit… off about failing Sherlock the way he did. The least he can do now is keep an eye on the one person Sherlock cared about most. Mycroft had failed Sherlock. He is not going to fail John. Not that John knows the service Mycroft is doing him. If he had noticed that every camera he walked past swiveled to follow him, he certainly didn't show it, and Mycroft may have been tricked by Moriarty, but he is still confident enough in his abilities to be assured that he can read someone as simple as John accurately.

Mycroft leans forward, studying John's slightly blurry figure in the tiny view screen. Honestly, why couldn't these banks upgrade to HD cameras? It would make Mycroft's life so much easier. This whole thing had started out as just a sense of duty, as a way to relieve the guilt still prickling under Mycroft's skin, but now Mycroft finds himself watching the camera feed out of curiosity. Something about this quiet man made his brother care for him more than anyone else in the world, more so even than for his own family, but so far Mycroft can't see why this short, dirty-blond man is special enough to have become Sherlock's one and only friend. Sure, John is undoubtedly brave, but Mycroft has always found bravery to be so simple-minded. It truly is just the kindest word for stupidity, really. After all, nature invented the instinct for self-preservation for a reason.

John is also incredibly loyal. Even after knowing Sherlock for just a few days he had turned down Mycroft's offer to spy on Sherlock in return for a substantial amount of money. Mycroft knew John could have done with the money, too, and even now that everyone thought Sherlock was a fake, John still wouldn't believe it. Any reporter coming to interview John got nothing but kind words about Sherlock and a not-so-kind request for the reporter to bugger off. But that couldn't be all. Surely Sherlock had met other loyal people in his life before, and he hadn't become friends with them. Sherlock never had friends. Only the one.

Perhaps, considers Mycroft, it just boils down to the simple fact that John was the only person loyal enough and stubborn enough to stay. Sherlock had managed to drive almost everyone else away, but John liked the excitement living with someone as eccentric as Sherlock brought. John misses the war. It's obvious from the way his leg stopped hurting in a moment of action and the way his hands don't tremor at all under duress. Sherlock allowed John that same adrenaline rush. That still doesn't seem like the whole picture to Mycroft, though.

Sometimes Mycroft wonders if he could figure it out if he just sees John in person again, interacts with him the way his brother used to, but Mycroft can tell from his last encounter with John that a visit from him would not be welcome. So instead Mycroft just watches, and cameras keep following John every time he walks down the street. Subtly, of course.

It takes Mycroft a moment to realize that he has accidentally typed John's name into the middle of his sentence about the perceived threat to the Chinese ambassador. He blinks in surprise at the fluorescent screen of his computer for a moment, stunned at this wholly uncharacteristic mistake, then he hurriedly deletes those four little letters from the document. He mustn't let his little side project interfere with his real work.

Mycroft doesn't close the window showing John's surveillance feed, though.

-XXXXXXX-

Mycroft curls and uncurls his fingers around the smooth handle of his umbrella. Not due to nerves, obviously. Just in… anticipation. He knows that doing this is risky, that he will probably just be greeted with a scowl and a door slammed in his face, but his curiosity has gotten the better of him. He knocks.

Twenty seconds later, the door swings open to reveal the worn face of Dr. John Watson. Twenty seconds; he must've been in the kitchen then when Mycroft knocked. Yes, definitely the kitchen. There's a little water darkening the hem of John's sleeve and a tiny clump of soap suds that he's failed to notice clinging to the front of his shirt. He was obviously in the middle of doing the dishes.

"Good evening, John," says Mycroft politely. It's amazing how far basic manners can get you. Probably not far enough to make up for indirectly causing the death of one's best friend, but it can't hurt to try. For a moment John just stands there, frowning slightly at Mycroft. It's not an angry frown, though, just a perplexed one, like someone trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff left to them in their grandmother's will that was precious to her but that clashes with their decor. Then, John sighs and nods, stepping to the side to allow Mycroft enough space to enter the flat.

"Right, well, you might as well come in then," he says tiredly, holding the door open for Mycroft. Mycroft is mildly taken aback at this un-hostile treatment, but he may as well take advantage of John's forgiving mood. He nods a silent thank you and steps past John into the flat. The room looks just as Mycroft remembers it. Piles of books, papers, test tubes, and various other items that had been relevant to some case at some point are strewn about the room, coating almost every surface except for the couch and the arm chair. This obviously Sherlock induced mess and the thin layer of dust coating most of the room's contents tell Mycroft that John hasn't been able to bring himself to put away Sherlock's possessions yet. In fact, the only thing in the room that looks like it's been handled at all recently is the lone cup of cold tea sitting neglected on the coffee table, and even that has obviously been sitting there a while. This shrine to Sherlock's memory coupled with the dark circles shadowing John's eyes make it obvious that John has not been coping well. It's been over two months now since Sherlock died, and John still hasn't been able to move on.

Mycroft finds himself wondering, not for the first time, just how close his brother and John had been.

"You look… well," John says politely, breaking the awkward silence. It's true; John may be a depressed mess, but Mycroft looks just the same as he ever has: all lanky limbs and perfectly pressed suit. Mycroft finds it's always best to look put together. People take a man who stands up straight and wears a suit much more seriously. Appearances, especially in politics, matter, even if you're supposed to represent the more… discreet side of politics.

"Thank you, John," replies Mycroft, dropping his head slightly in gracious acceptance of the compliment. John seems to deem this exchange adequate for polite reintroductions since he turns away from Mycroft then, and sits down heavily on the battered sofa. He lets out a deep, rattling sigh, leaning forward to cradle his forehead in his palms. He looks exhausted to his very bones.

"I thought you would come by sooner," John comments from between his fingers, not bothering to look up to meet Mycroft's eyes. "You've been watching me pretty closely, after all." Mycroft just shrugs, not even a little ashamed at being caught spying. It is his job after all.

"I was not sure that I would be welcome," he admits, leaning slightly on his umbrella as he casually crosses one leg in front of the other. It's hard to go against years of habit of dramatic flourishes.

John nods, thinking.

"That probably would've been true at first," he states bluntly. There's no malice in the words, though, just quiet resolution. "You can sit, you know," the doctor continues. "You don't have to stand there posing all night." An amused smile quirks up the corners of Mycroft's thin lips. John has always had a bit of a flair for one-liners. Usually they were only for Sherlock's ears, though. Mycroft lowers himself into the nearest armchair, crossing his legs and resting one hand on the armrest while the other remains firmly glued to his umbrella. The umbrella spins slowly between Mycroft's twirling fingers. Silence weighs heavily on the room.

"Does it hurt?" John asks quietly just when Mycroft thought the expansive silence would never end. He doesn't need to explain any further. It's obvious what John is asking.

"I spent most of my life looking out for Sherlock," Mycroft replies. "He is… my little brother." John nods, kneading his temple with two fingers as the muscles in his face tighten. It would seem that he is trying not to cry.

"You once told me that you were the closest thing to a friend Sherlock could have," says John contemplatively, looking up at Mycroft from beneath thoughtfully furrowed brows, "but it was really the other way round, wasn't it? He's the only person I've ever seen you worry about who wasn't just part of the job. Even with the whole Irene Adler business. You didn't have to tell him she had gone into witness protection. There was no way lying to him would benefit you. It was just about sparing his feelings." Mycroft just tilts his head sideways a little, examining John's face calculatingly. John is more insightful than he had given him credit for, it seems. Not that Mycroft has ever thought John to be dumb, but, well, he is just an ordinary person, and that comes with so many limitations.

"One must look out for family, mustn't one?" he replies formally. Formality makes things less personal. It's safe.

"I'm sure that was never boring," laughs John, but it sounds more like choked sobs than real laughter.

"No, cleaning up after Sherlock was definitely never boring," agrees Mycroft. "Tiresome, perhaps, but not boring." The umbrella spins a little faster in his hand for a moment, then slows again.

"No one ever really got Sherlock," John comments, staring down at his own lap instead of meeting Mycroft's gaze. He picks absently at a loose thread on his trousers, grey eyes watching his own tan digits tug at the offending strand. "After just a few days of knowing Sherlock, Lestrade told me that even though he'd known Sherlock for five years, I still knew him better. Mrs. Hudson, too, says she could never figure out what was going on in Sherlock's head. I think you're the only person who ever knew him better than me." Now John does look up to catch Mycroft's eye, and Mycroft can see the hope sparking there. He knows what John is leading up to, knows what John is dying to ask him, but he doesn't have the answers John seeks. Sure, he has theories about why Sherlock did what he did, theories all centering around the body the British Secret Service removed from the rooftop Sherlock leapt from, but he doesn't know for certain. He can't give John the closure he wants so badly. He might as well let John get around to actually asking him, though. He's been told it's polite.

"You knew things I'm pretty sure even Sherlock didn't know about himself," says John. This catches Mycroft's interest. He hadn't realized that John had been able to pick up on that. "That whole thing about why Sherlock called Irene Adler 'The Woman' in the end, that was brilliant." John continues. "I didn't even realize Sherlock could feel that way about people. I doubt he realized either, but you figured it out. I was hoping you'd also figured out why he, why…" Here John falters, unable to say the words, as if saying that Sherlock jumped off a building to his death would guarantee its truth.

"I know what he said at the end wasn't true," John presses on, his eyes now desperately boring holes into Mycroft's skull. "I know it wasn't all a lie. I just don't get why he'd try to tell me that. I don't-, I can't understand." Tears well up in John's eyes, and muscles spasm in his jaw as he tries to hold them back. Mycroft recalls a passage from the notes he had… borrowed from John's therapist:

Patient has trouble expressing his feelings. Recommending that he start a blog to help him let them out.

This tendency of John's to restrain his emotions is what had started his whole relationship with Sherlock in the first place. John doesn't write that blog anymore, not now that Sherlock is dead. Mycroft wonders absently if it had helped while he had, or if it had really just been Sherlock's influence on the blog as opposed to the act of writing itself that had healed John.

Mycroft isn't usually one for physical contact, but it seems appropriate now. He rises from the armchair and moves to sit next to John on the couch. Mycroft places a soothing hand on John's shoulder. He expects the doctor to tense up, for the man's military training in what's appropriately masculine to reject the consoling gesture, but instead John just lets out a long exhale, letting himself lean into the comforting touch. It would seem that he really does need the support. Mycroft can feel the tension in John's muscles through the thin fabric of his jumper: mental stress translated into physical.

"I'm afraid I can't help you there," murmurs Mycroft softly. Admitting there's something he doesn't know has never been something he's enjoyed doing. "I cannot be certain why he chose to end his life in such a dramatic manner. Based on my knowledge of my brother's character I can, however, surmise that whatever he did it was to spare you some even worse pain. He really was becoming quite sentimental after all, near the end. Silly of him, really."

"You talk as though you think you're above such sentimentality," comments John, turning slightly so that he can meet Mycroft's eyes once more, "but you're not, you know." Mycroft finds himself frowning at the statement despite himself.

"Don't romanticize me, John," warns Mycroft, his voice low and dark. "You would be sorely disappointed."

"Sherlock once said the same thing to me," says John, seemingly quite unperturbed by Mycroft's interjection. "He told me not to make people into heroes since they don't exist, and if they did exist he certainly wouldn't be one of them. But despite what everyone said, he really was the most… human man I ever met. Sure, he had trouble empathizing with the victims whose cases he took on, but that didn't mean he couldn't feel. It just meant that he took some time to care about people, and even then only a few people. He could, though. He really could. And even if neither us know the specifics, we both know that he- that he died because he cared."

"I don't see-" begins Mycroft, but John cuts him off.

"You're like him, you know," the doctor murmurs, his expression softening slightly. "You just haven't had the same chances to care that he did. But you do, care, I mean. Just look at the way you've been watching over me all this time. Someone who never felt anything wouldn't bother to do that. After all, we both know I'm no threat. The only reason to watch over me is sentimentality, as you've called it. It's the reason you're even here. You're sitting on this sofa because you cared, really and truly cared, about Sherlock Holmes. Sorry to burst your bubble." For a moment, the pair just sit there, staring at each other. Mycroft is painfully aware that his hand is still resting on the other man's shoulder, but he doesn't move it. For once in his life, Mycroft is at a loss for words. There's a lump in his throat, and his mouth suddenly feels dry. Finally, after what feels like forever, Mycroft is able to speak once more.

"I can see why my brother was so fond of you, John," he says quietly. "You really were his one true friend."

"A good enough friend to be one of the reasons he died. Guess that's something we have in common." John blinks rapidly a few times and his tongue pokes out to lap at his dry lips, betraying the soldier's stress at these words. Mycroft's eyes drop to follow the motion.

'The Virgin' Moriarty deemed Sherlock, and rightly so. Sherlock was always too caught up in his own head to tend to the coarser desires of his body. As far as Sherlock was concerned, his body was just a vessel for his brain, and while he couldn't ignore its more basic needs like food, water and occasionally sleep, he most certainly could ignore its more trivial needs like sexual impulses. Mycroft is not his brother, though. He sees no reason why he can't occasionally indulge in his body's more carnal desires. So when he leans forward to press his lips against John's, the action is not as entirely out of character as it might seem.

The doctor's lips are dry and chapped beneath Mycroft's, but as tentative fingers reach up to tangle themselves in Mycroft's dark hair and those lips move tenderly against his own, Mycroft finds that he doesn't mind.

Buried deep in the pocket of Mycroft's suit jacket, Mycroft's cellphone buzzes demandingly; some new political crises, some new issue that could bring the entire country toppling down unless Mycroft deals with it. Uncharacteristically, Mycroft doesn't answer.

-XXXXXXX-

It's almost a month after that first kiss with John that Mycroft's surveillance network finally spots Sherlock in Berlin, Germany. The consulting detective has dyed his hair sandy-blond, but even on the tiny little screen, Mycroft can tell immediately that it's him. He wonders why it's taken him so long to find Sherlock. He wonders how Sherlock pulled this whole thing off. He wonders why.

Part of him is filled with relief and a warm pride at his little brother's cleverness, the rest of him, not that he'd ever admit it, is apprehensive.

Within seconds he's placed Sherlock under round the clock surveillance, priority level three.

That night Mycroft curls himself protectively around John's naked form. John's breathing is deep and regular, and he feels comfortingly warm nestled against Mycroft's body. Mycroft looks down at John's peacefully sleeping face. John isn't beautiful; he still has bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and there are soft creases around his eyes and lips, but Mycroft doesn't care. He isn't so beautiful himself either, despite all of his expensive, Italian suits. A few months ago, this sleeping face made him feel guilty for the first time ever. Grey eyes had stared at Mycroft in accusatory disbelief and it had hurt, if only just a little. Now those grey eyes are all he can think about.

Mycroft isn't naïve enough not to realize that John is still getting over Sherlock, though. Mycroft has never been a romantic. Even now that he has been made to actually care about someone else he can still analyze John clearly and look at the situation pragmatically. It's just who he is. Not even these complicated feelings can change that. Mycroft knows that if Sherlock were to reveal that he is still alive, then Mycroft would never be able to compete. It is only Sherlock's feigned death that allows Mycroft to lie here, gently running the tips of his fingers up and down John's lightly freckled arm. There, under cover of darkness and in the solitude of his own thoughts, Mycroft wishes for Sherlock never to come back. He feels like a bad brother for even thinking it, let alone hoping it, but after giving over Sherlock's secrets to Moriarty, Mycroft was never going to win brother of the year anyways.

Maybe Sherlock won't come back.

Maybe Mycroft will get to hold on to this feeling just a little longer.

*Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed the story! I also hope I managed to capture Mycroft's character well enough. Please comment with any feedback you may have. Thank you for reading! :)*