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Five Times The Holmes Brothers Didn’t Say 'I Love You' And One Time They Did

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Come Dance With Me

“Um… Mycroft?” He could hear how shivery his voice sounded. Pull yourself together, idiot!

Mycroft, who had been focused on a report, looked up and his eyes were mildly suspicious. “Yes, Sherlock?” What is on his mind? He's been pacing around the room for five minutes now.

Mycroft was visiting his parents and his brother for Mummy's birthday, staying over for a few days because he hadn't been here for ages. And he still needed to do some work. He never had any true holidays.

Sherlock cleared his throat. “I wondered… There is a dance… at school… in two weeks.” Why were the words so heavy on his tongue? Oh yeah, because this was horrible… A horribly stupid idea.

“I did teach you to dance.” And what a mistake that had been… Not that Sherlock would have been untalented, quite the opposite. They had simply come too close, he and his sixteen-year-old brother… It had been so difficult to keep a straight face and not touch his groin because then it would have got really embarrassing…

“Yes. Thanks again. I… I'll have to… I need to go there with somebody.” If his heart beat just a little bit faster, it would probably explode in his chest. But he knew on the outside nothing was visible of his anxiety. Another thing he had learned from his brother, Mr Cool-And-Untouchable. He hadn't always been like this. He had been chubby and shy and cuddly long ago. Now he was none of it.

Mycroft's face darkened for a moment. Yes. Of course he would have to do that. A silly girl in all probability. And now he wanted to hear from Mycroft how he should invite someone? Mycroft had never gone to a dance in his own school time. And he only danced these days when there was an official gathering he couldn’t ignore. And each and every one of them was hateful…

“I…” Sherlock cleared his throat. “I wondered… It's at the weekend and…”

No. He can't be about to say that! Mycroft felt his throat get completely dry.

“Would… Would you go with me?” There – he had said it! Sherlock tried to look as if this had been a completely casual question.

“You… What?!” Mycroft feared he would suffer a heart-attack any moment.

You stupid idiot! He hates the idea! What did you think? That he seriously fancies you? Sherlock felt like crying and running away or head first against the wall. “It was just an idea,” he mumbled. “Don't want to ask some girl…” I don't want to ask anyone but you.

“But you should. It's expected. You could ask a boy out too of course but…” I would hate it. Hate to imagine you dancing with someone else. How silly this was. Sherlock would inevitably end up with someone else… No matter how boring and stupid and unworthy – everybody would be more suitable than his own brother.

But not you, all right. Sherlock was feeling so tired all at once. He nodded. “I'll go to bed now. Good night.” And I will cry myself to sleep… with my face buried into the pillow so nobody can hear me… I love you and you will never understand.

“Good night, Sherlock.” I would have loved to go there with you at my arm, showing off my beautiful little brother and dancing with you until the lights go out. But I can't give my feelings for you away. Even if you, God forbid, share them. I love you but it can never be.

The Drug Days

“My God, Sherlock! This can't go on and I won't allow it!” Again. Almost an overdose. How many more times! The boy was twenty and his life was a mess.

Sherlock backed away from the fury in his brother's voice and face. “Didn’t mean to…” he mumbled weakly.

“Didn’t mean what? You took cocaine and meth, Sherlock. You are damn lucky we're having this conversation!”

Not literally though, Sherlock thought, grimacing… But still – Mycroft had come.

He doesn’t do it so I hurry to his hospital bed, does he? He can't be so stupid! “I've had enough, Sherlock. You're going to rehab.”

“No, I absolutely won't! I'm not an addict, I'm just a u…”

“Be quiet! I can't hear it anymore!” And I can't see you like this anymore. Pale and fragile and half-dead. I will save you if you want that or not!

“I can control it!” Sherlock yelled, sounding rather hysterical to his own ears. In fact he hardly remembered how he had ended up in this nasty house, taking a mixture only a complete idiot would consider.

“No you can't. Nobody can control you.” I certainly can't. But how was he supposed to do that? He was covered in work!

“I've made a list!”

“Oh, yes, great. And they’ve almost found you too late.” And what then, little brother? How am I supposed to go on in a world without you? I thought writing this damn list would keep you from actually taking this damn stuff!

“You said I should make a list.” Only his brother made him ever sound so silly…

“And I said you should stop taking drugs altogether! You don't listen! You don't think! You're worse than any goldfish out there!” I want to take you and shake you and make you understand, and I want to kiss you and love you and I can't and one day I'll come here and you'll lie there still and lifeless and that cannot happen.

“I hate you,” Sherlock said without even thinking, and the words seemed to burn into his soul with their coldness. I hate to love you and know you don't love me back.

A shadow fell over his brother's grim face before he answered, “You seem to hate everything and everybody, Sherlock, so I'm not surprised. I have arranged a week in a very discreet hospital for you and I do hope you will come out there a sober man.” The cruel sentence had hit him like a blow but he didn’t show it. And in the end it was for the better. Sherlock should rather hate than love him in this same insane way Mycroft loved him…

Who cares if I'm sober or not? You don't… Sherlock didn’t say anything anymore, sagging into the pillows with his eyes closed, surrounded by hopelessness, pain and the wish he had managed to kill himself this time.

Mycroft stood there, watching him for several minutes, his heart cramping in sympathy and the overwhelming wish to hurry to his brother's side and press him against his chest. I love you, Sherlock. Can't you see that you're killing us both with your reckless treatment of your own health? How can you believe I don't care for you?

“I will visit you in the facility,” he finally said, his voice sounding surprisingly calm and normal.

“Don't bother.” Sherlock's heart was feeling as if it had been in the centre of an explosion of glass and his voice sounded as if he had gurgled with splinters…

“As you wish.” Mycroft stalked out of the room with a very straight back, only to slump as soon as he had closed the door between himself and this complicated, desirable menace that was his little brother and the man he would love forever.

After The Pill-Game

The adrenaline rush had finally vanished. He had survived the game with the cabbie. Thanks to his new friend… It felt strange. Being happy. A bit.

Sherlock turned to the man who had just killed someone for him and seemed to be completely calm about it. “Dinner?”

“Starving.”

Sherlock nodded. “End of Baker Street, there’s a good Chinese stays open ’til two. You can always tell a good Chinese by examining the bottom third of the door handle.”

Mycroft got out of the car, taking in the sight. Sherlock and his new best friend. He was trying hard to maintain his calm demeanour when all he wanted to do was shaking Sherlock and yelling at him to not risk his life like this ever again. But then – John Watson, the brave little doctor/ex-soldier, had been there to save him…

Sherlock turned when John said, “Sherlock. That’s him. That’s the man I was talking to you about.”

“I know exactly who that is.” What is he doing here? Sure, Lestrade informed him about what was going on. Damn spy… Now he will lord over me again.

Mycroft smiled, hoping it looked natural. Well – actually he never really smiled so he had no idea how it felt when it was natural… Like with all the goldfish he had to spend time with, it was merely a baring of teeth. “So, another case cracked. How very public spirited... though that’s never really your motivation, is it?” You do it to numb yourself. And to piss me off, if I was inclined to use such a language…

“What are you doing here?” Why can't you leave me alone? Why can't you be mine… He had to forget this. How many years more did he want to pine over the one man he could never have? Sherlock knew the answer…

“As ever, I’m concerned about you,” Mycroft said, and he wondered why in the next second. Sherlock didn’t care about his concern. Why had he even come? Lestrade had told him Sherlock had been left unharmed. But he had to see with his own eyes. As usual.

“Yes, I’ve been hearing about your ‘concern.’” Kidnapping John. Why had he done that?

“Always so aggressive. Did it never occur to you that you and I belong on the same side?” What the hell is wrong with me? I'm begging for his rejection!

“Oddly enough, no!” You and me on the same side? Since when? It was always you, the perfect son, the perfect citizen, the perfect man on this side – and me, the failure, the loose cannon, the loser on the other side.

And then Mycroft had the nerve to bring up Mummy, who was indeed terrified by their estrangement, but probably even more by Sherlock's behaviour. She had long stopped asking why he did it. Their parents had never understood either of them. Mummy was a genius, too, but a very well-functioning one. Well, so was Mycroft, but in a darker manner.

“Putting on weight again?” Sherlock asked his brother, knowing how stupid it was. He clearly hadn't. He looked great…

Mycroft didn’t show his hurt. “Losing it, in fact.” He will never stop mocking me. Can't he see how worried I am? Does he really not know how much this night has scared me?

John Watson had clearly not seen this coming. “He’s your brother?!” he asked Sherlock in amazement, and Mycroft wondered why he hadn't simply told the doctor that he was so closely related to Sherlock instead of telling him he was his enemy. But he was, wasn't he?

“Of course he’s my brother.” The one and only. In so many ways.

“So he’s not...”

“Not what?” Sherlock looked at John. So did Mycroft.

“I dunno – criminal mastermind?” John grimaced about his own stupid words.

No. Just the man who broke my heart again and again. “Close enough,” Sherlock spat out.

“For goodness’ sake. I occupy a minor position in the British government.”

“He is the British government, when he’s not too busy being the British Secret Service or the CIA on a freelance basis.” My brother, the smartest man in England. Perhaps in the whole world.

Mycroft sighed. Only Sherlock could put praise in such a nasty tone.

“Good evening, Mycroft. Try not to start a war before I get home. You know what it does for the traffic.” I love you, brother mine. I wish it had been you who saved me.

Mycroft watched him and the doctor leave together. I love you, Sherlock. I wish I had saved you.

Before The Fall

“Everything is ready?” Mycroft was leaning against his desk, looking down on his brother in the visitor's chair.

Sherlock nodded. “I guess so. We've got the body. Everything is in place.” He was nervous, of course he was. He was about to face his nemesis for real this time. And he was relying on so many people playing their roles well.

They had schemed and discussed this for months now, he and Mycroft. Had lured Moriarty into a trap. Had made him believe he had Sherlock at the balls while in fact it was the other way around.

Mycroft rubbed his nose. Thirteen possibilities. Had they really taken everything into account? Would there be a surprise in the end? Moriarty would target Sherlock's friends; there was not much doubt about that. He had done so before with kidnapping John Watson and threatening to blow him up. He would do it again. John, Mrs Hudson, Greg Lestrade. Not him, Mycroft, of course. Not only because he was way too powerful but because the consulting criminal knew he meant nothing to Sherlock. And of course he didn’t.

It had been a surprise that Sherlock had come to him for help but that didn’t mean anything. He had simply needed Mycroft's resources, and he would go on needing them. Moriarty had a vast network. Even if they were able to take him out, there were others waiting to fill in the blank. So Sherlock would have to go undercover. If there was no miracle about to happen, he would have to fake his death and disappear for months, if not years.

How was Mycroft to go on living without him at least in the same city? It had been so surprisingly nice to work on this case together. At least for him. And Sherlock… He had been a lot less nasty. Just because he needed him for this task? Or had he finally started to like him? It was hard to believe…

Mycroft had been so helpful. So… clever. But more than that. It had been a challenge to keep up with him. And Sherlock loved him more than ever. And now? He would probably have to go away for a long time. Would Mycroft find someone until he was back? The thought made him sick.

Would Sherlock really be able to let Doctor Watson believe he was dead if it really came to this? Mycroft had feared they would get together but it hadn't happened. And probably it wouldn’t. But Sherlock loved him for sure… He hoped John would turn to someone else while Sherlock was away.

Sherlock got up. “I've got to go.” Time to play the biggest game of his life.

“Be careful.” Don't let anything happen to you, little brother. I love you.

“I'll try my best. Thanks for everything.” I love you, big brother.

Mycroft tried to not show his worry and heartbreak. “I'll be awaiting your instructions.”

Sherlock nodded. “We've thought of everything.”

“I really do hope so.”

“We're the Holmes brothers. We don't make mistakes.” Biggest joke of my life…

Mycroft was surprised about Sherlock's teasing tone. He smiled. “Of course we don't. Take care.” And he had never meant anything more seriously. He would have died for embracing Sherlock. But that was out of the question.

Sherlock left, feeling Mycroft's stare at his back. He didn’t want to go. He wanted to turn around and tell his brother how much he had enjoyed these past weeks with preparing his final step in the war with Jim Moriarty. But he didn’t. He left because he had to.

Two hours later Jim Moriarty was dead and Sherlock on the run. And Mycroft had started hoping desperately he would come back in one piece.

After The Shot

“How could you…”

Sherlock was slumped on the floor. The helicopter had gone silent, the armed policemen had retreated. John looked numb and shaken, leaning against the glass door.

And his brother was furious…

“There was no other way.” Sherlock's voice was quiet but steady. Everything had gone wrong. He had made the stupidest mistake of his life. But he didn’t think he was to take all the blame. “I told you to go after Magnussen. He wouldn’t be dead if you had done it.”

“Oh great, blame it on me. I didn’t shoot him! I didn’t try to betray the country!” His head was still hammering from the adrenaline and the fear someone could shoot his brother. How ashamed he had felt when he had woken up, dizzy and disoriented, realising that Sherlock had drugged him and stolen his laptop to sell it to this bastard Magnussen. And all for bloody John Watson and his worthless wife.

'Your loss would break my heart', he had told him. The drugs had made him say it. It was the truth of course but he wouldn’t have ever said it in a sober state of mind.

And Sherlock had reacted in his usual nasty way. 'What the hell am I supposed to say to that?' Nothing, Sherlock. Clearly nothing…

Sherlock was biting his bottom lip. He wasn’t proud of anything that had happened today. He had checked Mycroft's pulse after he had got unconscious. How soft his skin had been. How ironic that he had really touched his brother for the first time now that he had been drugged out…

He looked over to John, who would go back to Mary now. He liked her, he really did. John and Mary deserved to be happy. He didn’t. He had hurt his brother. Drugged his old parents for God's sake. What had he been thinking?

“You know I can't just let you get away with this.” What had Sherlock thought?! That he would snap his fingers and it would be made undone? Mycroft couldn’t and wouldn’t get him off the hook like this. Not after what he had done… His thoughts inevitably moved to his other sibling, contained on a prison island. He had never seen this coming – Sherlock being on the loose like this, resembling his sister after all.

“I know,” Sherlock mumbled. Would destroy your reputation as the Iceman. But he knew that wasn't fair. He had shot a man in the head, surrounded by witnesses, after bringing himself into this situation. Mycroft had helped him so many times. He was old enough to not being helped anymore…

“I will talk to Lady Smallwood. You might remember what I told you about their plans with you.” This mission. It was the only way out. Of course Sherlock would not die after six months. He would never let that happen. He would get him out.

But of course he wouldn’t tell him.

Sherlock nodded. “Death mission or prison. What a choice…”

“You've made your choice.” Mycroft looked at John Watson, who hadn't said anything in the past few minutes. Sherlock had chosen John over his own well-being. The silly boy.

Sherlock got up. “Well then. Do your worst.” I love you, big brother. And I'm sorry for what I did to you. I understand that you don't want me here anymore.

God, Sherlock. I love you. And you keep destroying your life for all the wrong reasons. And I will save you. Somehow I will.

After Sherrinford

“You're sure you're okay?”

Mycroft forced a smile onto his face. “I'm fine, Mr Lestrade.” Sherlock had sent him to look after him. He should have felt offended by this gesture but he really didn’t. In fact he found it rather touching.

“Greg, please. I could keep you company if you want.”

Mycroft respected the grey-haired detective inspector; he had always been a good influence for Sherlock, as far as this was possible. But he didn’t have the slightest interest in getting to know him better, if that was on his mind at all. “I'll manage. It was very nice of you to drop by.”

Lestrade nodded and offered him his hand. “Sherlock will be pleased to hear that you're well.”

The strange thing was – Mycroft believed him.

When he was alone, he poured himself a strong drink. He had never needed one more than tonight.

He had sorted out the prison when the police had freed him out of Eurus' cell. Had called in substitutes for the compromised guards. Had reported to Lady Smallwood and the PM via video call. The conversations had not been exactly cheerful. He had waited for Eurus to return to the prison, and he had watched her being locked away, and this time there wouldn’t be any mistakes in containing her.

People had died in front of his eyes. The stupid governor who had disregarded his orders and thought he could examine the most dangerous woman this prison had ever contained without getting drawn into her games. His wife, an innocent victim of her husband's shenanigans. The Garridebs – two innocent men, one guilty one.

And then this strange phone call with Miss Hooper, who had forced Sherlock to confess his love for her. Sherlock had clearly not meant it but this woman had at least heard once what she had always wanted to hear. The poor, boring girl.

He downed his drink. He wasn’t proud of himself in the least tonight. He had messed things up big time. He hadn't believed Sherlock and Doctor Watson that they had met Eurus. He had brought them there, endangering their lives. He had not been able to shoot someone even if someone else's life depended on it. And he was a man who despised a perfectly decent woman, boring or not. And who was he to even judge her? He didn’t know her at all. In fact she had proven to be much cleverer than he was – she had made his sentiment-despising brother tell her he loved her.

How often had he dreamt of hearing these words from him. But why would Sherlock say it?

After helping himself to another whiskey, his mind wandered off to a day so long ago when Sherlock had asked him to go to this dance with him. What if he had done that? What would have happened? But he had turned him down and everything had gone down the hill from then on.

Until tonight.

Sherlock had pointed the gun at him just as Mycroft had requested him to do it. But he hadn't fired. He had smiled at him. He had looked… as if he felt something for him. Respect at least. Affection, perhaps. And then he had turned the bloody gun against himself and Mycroft's heart had stopped beating or so it had felt.

Sherlock had made a clear statement. He wouldn’t kill Doctor Watson, who had been violent against him not long ago – and Mycroft would have told him a thing or two about that if Sherlock hadn't forgiven him so quickly. But Sherlock also wouldn’t kill him, his brother, who was after all responsible for them getting into this situation.

Sherlock would have rather killed himself than shooting him. That was the bottom line. Mycroft closed his eyes. He would give him a few days and then he would go and talk to him. He had no idea what he would tell him but he knew a line had been crossed. The past had been left behind. He had never really been Sherlock's archenemy but now they had a chance to really make an effort. To be what exactly? He didn’t dare think about it. More than enemies. Something better. Something much better.

And then he heard a noise at the front door and knew this conversation wouldn’t happen in a few days.

*****

Sherlock looked at his brother for a long moment, and Mycroft returned his gaze.

“Didn’t trust your DI in bringing me to bed?” Mycroft broke the silence eventually, and Sherlock was surprised about the mild tease in his voice.

“He didn’t manage as I can see,” he retorted. “Can I have a drink as well?”

“Suit yourself.” Sherlock looked horribly tired. Why had he come here? “Do you want to stay? Until your flat doesn’t resemble a war zone anymore?”

Sherlock was stunned. “Well. I would, if you don't mind.” John had offered his guest room of course but there was so much more space in Mycroft's house. Yeah, that's the reason!

It had been a completely spontaneous idea and Mycroft was deeply astonished that Sherlock had accepted his offer. “Not at all.”

Sherlock nodded and sat down in the armchair opposite of his one. “Cheers. On surviving the most remarkable night of our lives.”

“Yes. A toast on that.” Mycroft downed his second drink. “She's back in her cell. And I've put all possible security in motion.”

“I figured. Listen… I'd like to visit her. I mean… What she did was horrible but… I would like to try to make a connection.”

Mycroft didn’t like the idea. He didn’t like it at all. But he nodded. “If you think it makes sense. She didn’t seem to be very responsive when she came back.”

“I know. But still. Perhaps we can play the violin together again.”

“Sure. But every meeting will be thoroughly monitored.”

“It better be.”

Yeah. Not like her meeting with Jim Moriarty. What had he been thinking? He had been so naïve. So smug. Thought he had everything under control… While she had been in control in fact.

“It wasn't your fault.” Sherlock knew he had to tell him. It was obvious that his brother was riding on a wave of guilt.

Mycroft smiled but it was a sad smile. “I appreciate you saying this. We both know it was though. I'm… so glad you… weren’t harmed, Sherlock. I would have never forgiven myself.” Sentiment. This night was a threat of sentiment.

Sherlock nodded. “I hope you didn’t really think I'd fire at you.”

“I did… And you should have.”

“Ah, come on. Guilt doesn’t suit you, Mycroft. I want the Iceman back.” In fact I want you. Iceman, guilty-feeling, smug, arrogant, cute… I love all your sides…

Mycroft caught himself chuckling. “The Iceman, yes. He will have his arse kicked by our parents…”

Sherlock laughed out loud. He had never heard Mycroft talking like this. One more side to love! “I bet they will. I'll join you when you tell them.”

“So you can laugh about me being torn to shreds?” Mycroft winked at him. Suddenly he was feeling so light. He shouldn’t be, after all that had happened. But he was.

“Just so. Don't see that every day.”

They smiled at one another, and for a long moment neither of them said a word. Then Mycroft got up. “I guess I'd better show you your room. It's late.”

“Rather early, I'd say. Let me just text John that I won't come back to his place.”

“How is he?”

“Oh, fine. He's not so easy to shock.”

“After living with you for so long, he really can't be.”

Sherlock grinned. “So be aware that the same will happen to you now that you're sharing your house with me.”

Mycroft's hand seemed to rise by itself and put itself onto Sherlock's shoulder. “You can stay as long as you want, little brother. I'm… so happy you're okay.” And suddenly and to his deepest embarrassment his eyes got wet. “I couldn’t be without you.”

Sherlock felt as if he had been punched in the gut. Mycroft was crying? About him? “I'm fine, brother mine. It will all be fine.” Not for the people who had died tonight of course. Not for the ones they were leaving behind. But it had been Eurus' fault, not Mycroft's. His brother had done his best. He had done all he could to protect their sister – and to protect the world from her. It hadn't really worked in the end but it had worked for many years.

Mycroft nodded and sobbed, feeling like a little boy who had done something nasty and had just been redeemed, and then he winced when he was pulled into a firm embrace.

Sherlock rubbed his brother's back. “It's all right. It's all right to have emotions, Mycroft. We all have them.”

“Do tell.” Mycroft searched for his handkerchief to wipe his face and blow his nose. “You've always been the more practical one. And tonight you were definitely the smart one.”

“Oh, that's high praise from the self-proclaimed smart one.” Sherlock smiled at him and Mycroft felt his heart melt.

“Oh Sherlock. I…” He broke off, and then he saw Sherlock's eyes widen. He had stopped himself from speaking it out but Sherlock had deduced it nonetheless.

“Mycroft…”

“I'm sorry, brother mine. I'm awfully sentimental tonight.”

Sherlock grabbed his elbow. “Is it true?”

“Is what true?” Where was a way out of this? Mycroft felt cold all at once. Sherlock had seen it. Heard it. Deduced it. His feelings…

“You know what I mean! Do you… love me?” Sherlock hardly got the words over his lips but he was sure Mycroft had been about to speak them out. And he wasn’t talking about brotherly love.

Mycroft felt his pulse race. But then he saw, finally saw the expression in Sherlock's eyes. There was no disgust. No contempt. It was hope. “And what if I do?” he settled for nonetheless.

“Then we are both officially the biggest idiots in history,” Sherlock said dryly. His heart was beating too fast. He was starting to sweat. But on the outside, he had to appear rather calm.

“What?” That had not been the answer Mycroft had expected. “Why are you saying that?”

“Because then we've hidden it from each other forever.” Memories were whirling through his mind, connections were made that should have been made ages ago…

“That means you love me too?” He wondered why he asked Sherlock that. He had seen it in his eyes tonight.

“Yes, Mycroft. That's exactly what it means. I love you.” He was saying this for the third time in this night but in opposite to the two times before, he meant it.

“My God. I'm so sorry, Sherlock.” And Mycroft pulled him in, and their lips pressed against each other in a first clumsy kiss. “I love you,” he whispered, thinking of that day when Sherlock had shyly asked him to accompany him to the school dance. “I love you,” he said louder after the next, not-so-clumsy kiss, when he recalled visiting Sherlock in the hospital. And he continued to say it after every locking of their lips, covering all the moments when he had wanted to say it but had never done it and he knew he would never get tired of saying or hearing it.

And Sherlock? Sherlock had stopped thinking. He was too busy keeping himself on his feet because his knees had turned into jelly as his biggest wish had come true.