Mycroft had long suspected that if it were not for Sherlock Holmes, he would be a naturally deep sleeper. All the signs were there – his love of comfortable furniture, and of sitting around in the same place for hours on end. But after years of living in a house where explosions and violin screeching at odd hours were almost daily occurrences, Mycroft's sleep was now permanently balanced on a razor's edge, liable to tip into wakefulness at the slightest provocation. It hadn't even helped when Sherlock moved out, because then it just meant he was listening for his phone ringing rather than the creaking of floorboards. What made the whole thing even more unfair was that Sherlock could sleep like the dead, anywhere and at any time he chose. It was just another item to add to Mycroft's "Evidence That My Little Brother Is Essentially The Devil Incarnate" list.
Anyway. The upshot of these years of being trained into Sherlock-Awareness meant that tonight all Mycroft needed to hear was the click of his front door being opened before he was fully awake and wrestling himself out of bed. He stood up and pressed his ear to his bedroom door while he tied his dressing gown around him. He knew every creak and squeak of every floorboard in the house, so he was well aware before he even left the bedroom that his surprise guest was in the kitchen.
He padded through the dark house to the lit up kitchen. Inside he saw the offending article perched on one of the counters, thumping his heels on the side and digging into a stolen carton of ice cream with a spoon. Mycroft hesitated in the dark outside the doorway for a moment, wondering if he could get away with tip-toeing up to bed and pretending he'd heard nothing, but the damage had been done – the before-mentioned offending article favoured him with an especially venomous glare.
"Mycroft, stop lurking in the shadows like the blood-sucking bat you are, and come and have some ice cream."
Mycroft sighed and resigned himself to a night of lost sleep. He stepped into the kitchen. "I'm on a diet," he said.
Sherlock snorted and dug more viciously into the carton. "Well it certainly doesn't show."
A hundred smart retorts flashed through Mycroft's brain in half a second, but he rejected them all. There was a straining around the eyes that told him Sherlock had some pressing worry on his mind. Hadn't something important been going on in his life today? More important than usual, that is. Oh yes, of course. The wedding.
"It didn't go well then?" he asked, and then, at Sherlock's frown, elaborated. "The best man speech, I mean."
"Oh," Sherlock said, as if he'd completely forgotten it after the weeks and weeks of fussing that had preceded the task. "No, I was a complete success actually. I even solved a murder. Well, a potential murder."
Mycroft rubbed his eyes wearily. He couldn't even be surprised about this kind of thing anymore. "Then if that is the case," he said. "Why have I woken up to find the contents of my freezer being abused by an unwelcome intruder?"
"Not an intruder," Sherlock retorted through a mouthful of ice cream. "Have a key."
Mycroft opened his mouth to patiently explain that visiting at three o'clock in the morning was intruding, key or not, but then Sherlock waved the carton in his face. "This is coffee ice cream," he pointed out.
"Yes," replied Mycroft slowly. "And?"
Sherlock smirked at him. "You don't like coffee ice cream. I do. Ergo, you bought this for me. So I can't be intruding if I'm merely coming to claim what is mine."
Even Mycroft Holmes, British Government or no, had to admit when he was beaten. He sighed and went to the freezer where he pulled out a tub of apricot sorbet, then joined Sherlock side by side on the counter, spoon in hand.
For a while there was silence, broken only by the scraping of spoons against cartons and thoughtful slurping sounds. Then Sherlock said suddenly, "She's pregnant."
Mycroft swallowed a mouthful of sorbet before responding. "I see."
"So you were right," Sherlock said, a bitter tinge on the end of the sentence. "Things will change."
There was another, more thorny silence. Then Sherlock added simply, "I've lost him after all."
Mycroft thought about this. "Rubbish," he decided.
Sherlock tensed beside him. "But you said – "
"I know what I said," Mycroft interrupted. "But I'd forgotten."
"That you," Mycroft said, "Are you."
There was another silence, which was a little less difficult than the previous one.
"Normally," Mycroft said, "This is what happens. Friends get married and move apart from each other. That's just what happens. Normally. But then 'normal' has never really applied to you, has it?"
"Humph," said Sherlock to his carton.
"Sherlock," Mycroft said a bit more firmly. "You vanished for two years. You made him grieve for two years. You lied for two years, Sherlock, and he still welcomed you back with open arms. He can't help but want to be around you, no matter what has happened. Do you really think that this new part of his life is going to change him that much?"
Sherlock paused. "It was more like open fists," he said, but the tightness around his eyes had lessened considerably.
Mycroft sighed and dug into his sorbet. "The thought of you is very difficult to get out of one's head, Sherlock," he said, and added to himself years and years of lost sleep can more than account for that.
The final silence was practically cheerful in its feel. Sherlock reached over and dug his spoon into Mycroft's sorbet. Mycroft snatched it away. "You've got your own," he snapped.
Sherlock pouted. "But I want yours."
"You're a brat," Mycroft told him, but he let Sherlock steal some sorbet anyway.