It was pouring. The rain fell against the window, the sounds of the storm knocking on the roof, and the fireplace burnt inside the room, making the shadows dance on the walls. The darkness outside was fierce, thick and the storm showed no signs of calming down. To Mycroft, it was soothing.
The leather chair was comfortable and the rain was like a lullaby for his busy mind. He had been going through some papers for school, deciding his future. It had been easy, with good grades he would be able to get into any University of his choice and the stern look on his father's face at his choice still made him smile. He was not there to please his father, but to please himself. It was his future at stake and whatever his father might say he would not give up on pursuing his own dreams.
He put the pen down, his wrist aching from the effort of writing for hours. He sat back and looked outside the window, even thought it was impossible to see anything. His parents had gone out for the evening and he had been left alone.
A big lightning illuminated the room and a few seconds after the thunder began, loud and firm. Mycroft liked nights like this, despite the fierce storm, it gave him a feeling of safety and cosiness. A reason not to go outside, to curl up on the couch and do what he enjoyed the most: think, imagine, planning.
He heard a knock on the door and right after it opened bit by bit, a tiny head peering inside, looking for him. Mycroft smiled, knowing exactly who that was.
"Hello there." He greeted.
Sherlock opened the door completely this time and smiled, entering the room.
"Have you finished your essay?" he asked, approaching Mycroft's chair.
"Yes, I have. I still have to re-read it though, but that can wait. And weren't you supposed to be in bed already?"
His little brother was still wearing his day clothes, his hair a curly mess.
"Yes, I was going to bed but I decided to come and check if you were alright. I was afraid the thunder might have scared you."
Mycroft supressed a smile. Sherlock would never admit to be afraid himself, but he would find a way to make his brother understand without feeling embarrassed. And Mycroft complied and agreed with the game, playing along.
"Actually," he said. "I was a bit afraid. I was about to go and look for you, but here you are. Thank you."
Sherlock smiled, hands behind his back, pleased.
"Would you like me to stay here for a while?"
"If you would be so kind." Mycroft asaid.
Sherlock removed his hands from behind his back and drew out a book. It was a pirate's story. He waved with the book in front of Mycroft.
"I can read it for you, if you want."
Mycroft nodded and patted his own lap, an invitation, and Sherlock climbed up his legs and sat down, curling up against his brother. The thunder outside roared more fervently and Sherlock shook, alarmed. He disguised it by pretending he was finding a comfortable position on his brother's lap. Then, he said:
"I read somewhere that after the lightning you can count the seconds until the thunderclap. Then, you divide it by five and you will know how far in miles the thunder is. So next time you are scared you can also do that."
He had explained very well his technique and Mycroft took the chance.
"Oh, really? How close was it this last time?"
"3.6 miles." Sherlock answered, promptly. And then, realising his fault he added. "Not that I was scared or anything, I was just counting to come and tell you."
Mycroft smiled this time and tried to soften his brother's hair with his hand.
"Okay, let us hear that story, then."
The sound of yet another thunderclap resounded through the house and Sherlock curled up a bit more.
"You know what?" Mycroft said. "Maybe I can read for you. I need some distraction, the storm is really scaring me now. I'm glad you are here with me."
Sherlock nodded and smiled at his brother, a bit more relaxed, proud of taking care of the older of the two. Like a pirate, he was very, very brave.
Mycroft opened the book and started reading at slow pace, giving the different characters the right intonation. His voice was soothing and the sounds of the storm started to blur on Sherlock's distracted mind. Mycroft read the story of adventures at sea and brave captains and Sherlock's rhythmic respiration set the pace. When Mycroft closed the book, Sherlock was sleeping peacefully against his chest.
Mycroft could have gotten up and put him to bed; change Sherlock into his pyjamas and wish him goodnight. But his little brother was growing too fast and his legs could barely fit his bed and clothes. For now, he still listened to the stories, but soon he would grow up to stop believing in fairy tales, to stop believing he could actually become a pirate, if he wanted to. Time was escaping quickly though Mycroft fingers. So, instead, he just let his brother sleep and he rocked him back and forth, biding his time.
In his world of loneliness, Sherlock was still the one who actually cared and listened, the one who genuinely loved him, without asking for anything else but love in return. Time would end, eventually. But Mycroft's memories, no one could take them away. And the sight of his little brother in a deep slumber, curled up against his chest on a stormy night, was one he would keep forever.