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Winter Preserve

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"You've been slipping."

Sherlock could tell immediately that his brother was drunk. Unless a fairy had replaced Mycroft in the night, Sherlock knew the bottle on the sideboard was the untouched one he had last seen in Mycroft's cabinet over two years earlier and a lifetime ago. It was half empty now and by the state of Mycroft's waistcoat that had creased and bunched around his shoulders as he had wilted into the chair, and Mycroft's pupils when he lazily tracked Sherlock across the room, he had indulged by a rare amount.

Sherlock sighed internally. He poured himself a glass of ice water from the pitcher on the sideboard.

"Well," he said. "You wanted to see me."

Mycroft didn't rouse from his contemplative stupor. He had sunk far enough into the chair that he could rest his elbow on the low arm and still place his chin in his hand.

Sherlock reclined on the velvet chaise lounge that Mycroft had arranged at an angle to his regular seat beside fireplace, a typically whimsical and old-fashioned piece that Mycroft had picked up somewhere not long after Sherlock first met John. He turned and bent his legs along the long seat, wrapping his coat around himself as he stared into the cold, spotless firebox.

"Are you okay?"

Sherlock's chin rose out of his collar. "What?" he asked incredulously.

"Are you okay, Sherlock," Mycroft enunciated slowly.

"Of course I am, you drunk sap." Sherlock curled deeper into his coat.

Mycroft looked disappointed and terrifically sad to hear it. His eyes were practically shining with emotion in the low light.

"What?" Sherlock asked sharply, shifting irritably.

Mycroft pushed himself further up in his seat with some difficulty, his usual disciplined elegance washed away somewhere, and gathered some loftiness. "Here. Come."

Sherlock just looked at him.

"You've got to be joking," he muttered when Mycroft went so far as to pat his lap lightly in invitation as if Sherlock were just a small dog waiting for permission. Mycroft continued to stare at him expectantly.

"There isn't room," Sherlock added

He watched warily when Mycroft stood up and swayed briefly on his feet before crossing the short distance to Sherlock's seat on the facing chaise lounge. Sherlock had to pull his feet out of the way when Mycroft turned and fairly collapsed on the couch. He glowered over his bent knees while Mycroft struggled out of his waistcoat, watched him drop it to the shadowed floor before Mycroft was leaning half against Sherlock's knees and half against the swooping back of the couch, mussed and red-cheeked.

"Move over."

Sherlock moved until Mycroft could lie on his side with his head resting on Sherlock's chest, one of Sherlock's legs bent between Mycroft's back and the angled back of the couch and the opposite foot resting on the floor. Once he was settled, Sherlock patted Mycroft's shoulder before resting his hands on the neutral territory of his own knees. The feeling of Mycroft's body pressing him uncomfortably into the couch, his warmth and smell were both unexpected and uncannily familiar. Sherlock was uneasy to find that the mild scents of Mycroft's sweat and hair product were intimately known to him although it had been years since he had last been so close to his brother.

"Sherlock?"

Sherlock hummed. He opened his eyes and lifted his head from the stuffed upholstery when Mycroft didn't elaborate, peering down at what he could see of his brother's face. A slow exhale warmed Sherlock's palm when he raised his hand to hover in front of Mycroft's nose and mouth. He looked closer and saw Mycroft's eyelids were closed in sleep.

Moving carefully until he was resting at a more comfortable angle with Mycroft's ear pressed to his shoulder, Sherlock rested his head back again and raised his eyes to study the meaningless pattern of moonlight tracery on the ceiling. His coat was bunching up under his back. Sherlock considered sliding out from under Mycroft and leaving him to sleep it off, but a complicated, uncertain emotion stirring in his chest made him reluctant to move. He placed his arm around his brother's waist and sighed when he stirred and turned his face further into Sherlock's neck under his coat collar.

"Goodnight, brother dear," he half-ironically whispered into Mycroft's hair.