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Trying Times

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Mycroft didn’t fight as he was brought into the institution. It was raining outside. He missed his umbrella, didn’t like the cold water going down the back of his collar. His parents didn’t know what to do with him, so here he was, seventeen years old and too numb from the drugs they’d given him to even be afraid.

The suicide attempt should have been successful. It would have been if Sherlock hadn’t found him. That was his only regret about it, the terrified look on his ten year old brother’s face. Of course that would have been the one day he’d come home early. Sherlock had raged at him even as he wrapped his wrist in a towel and called for help. Called him selfish, called him a few other things too. Mycroft couldn’t argue with any of them. As soon as he was cleared from the hospital he’d been sent straight here.

Part of him wondered if he’d ever see Sherlock or his family again. But it was probably better for all of them if he didn’t.

The orderly accompanying him checked him in, keeping one hand on his elbow as if his charge would try to run. The man flirted a bit with the nurse and she smiled back. Mycroft could see she had a boyfriend already, but he kept his mouth shut and waited.

Finally they passed down through another hallway and two locked doors. Mycroft was delivered to a harsh looking man with a military haircut and a file in his hands that bore Mycroft’s name on it. He bowed his head and waited.

"Mycroft Holmes. Suicide attempt. Age seventeen," he rumbled off. "Very well. You're lucky. There is another boy here, near to your age. He'll be your roommate." He grasped Mycroft's arm and pulled him forward, pushing open a door and dropping him inside. "Watson. Get up!"

John startled awake at the arrivals, sitting up and freezing at the blue eyes watching him. The boy was tall, eyes glazed over from drugs and body loose, but there was still something there. Intelligence. Desperation. Attraction. John pressed those thoughts down, the wrong thoughts and sat still, waiting for them to leave.

"You two are roommates now."

John snapped his head up in shock. "But sir!"

"Was that a question, Watson?"

John shook his head, shifting back on the bed. "N...no sir. Sorry sir."

"Didn't think so. Lights out in thirty." He left, slamming the door and locking it behind him.

John pulled his knees to his chest, swallowing hard as he watched the other boy.

Mycroft could see the other boys fear. He made his way to the other bed and sat down. So they were cruel here. It wasn't anything more than he deserved.

He studied the other boy a long moment. From an abusive home. Possibly queer too. That could be trouble. He looked down and rubbed at his still healing wrist.

John let his gaze fall to the boy’s arm, eyes widening as he saw the bandage wrapped around. He looked back up, feeling the other one watching him watching.

"Mycroft Holmes," he said slowly.

“John. Watson,” John said quietly, ducking his gaze. Hopefully, Mycroft would leave him alone. Wouldn’t be cruel. He’d had enough of that for a lifetime.

“I won’t hurt you,” said Mycroft, sighing and stretching out in the bed. John was attractive, but he didn’t want to hurt anyone else. Sherlock’s terrified eyes still haunted his dreams.

John furrowed his brow and relaxed just slightly, climbing under the blankets and pushing the lightswitch. Mycroft didn’t stir as the lights went out and John curled into a ball, closing his eyes as he listened to the steady breaths on the other side of the room.

Eventually, Mycroft drifted off to troubled sleep. He woke with a start some time later. He took a few breaths and slipped out of bed, going to the barred window and looking out.

John woke with a start at the sound of footsteps, eyes opening to a shadow at the window. He relaxed as he realized it was Mycroft, and he sat up quietly. “We...can go outside. If we’re accompanied.”

“What’s it like here?”

“The man who brought you in is cruel. He’s an angry man and in charge. The others are nice. Once you prove you can be trusted, they let you do some things,” John said, watching him.

“Okay.” Mycroft made his way back to bed. “How long have you been here?”

John hesitated. “Since I was sixteen. Almost two years.”

“I don’t expect to ever leave,” said Mycroft quietly.

“Some people don’t. I tried once,” John said. “They said I was better. But…” He shook his head.

“But?”

“I couldn’t do it,” John admitted. “One person yelled, one person brushed past me the wrong way, and I was back.”

“Panic attacks?”

John nodded. “How did you guess? No one ever guesses. They normally think I’m violent.”

“I’m good at observing people.”

“Why don’t you think you’ll leave?” John asked.

“I can’t leave. I’m queer.”

John started, cursing the small gasp that escaped him as he looked at Mycroft.

Mycroft looked at him. So John was queer too, at least a little bit. He closed his eyes. “I hope that you will not hate me,” he said softly.

“You shouldn’t go around telling people that,” John said, looking away. “You might get...hurt.”

“I always have kept it quiet. I just thought as my roommate you should know.” Mycroft rolled onto his side with his back to John and stared at the wall.

John stayed awake for the rest of the night, watching Mycroft sleep.

Mycroft started awake at the sound of the door being unlocked. He sat up, clothes rumpled and looked to see what would happen.

“Get up,” John whispered, standing at the end of his bed. “They have to count us before breakfast.”

Mycroft nodded and made some effort to smooth his clothes as he stood at the foot of the bed.

“Watson, Holmes,” said a bored looking woman. “Both here. Come out for breakfast.” John glanced at Mycroft and led him out and through the hall to a larger room, sitting down at an empty table.

Mycroft sat across from him and waited patiently, observing the other men, mostly young, as they came in to eat.

“Don’t look at them,” John murmured, stirring his porridge. “Some of them are really bad people. Some of them aren’t but they aren’t right in the head.”

“And we are?” asked Mycroft with a hint of amusement as he picked up his spoon.

“I don’t attack people for looking at me. I don’t think you would either.” John looked up as another man sat down beside them. “That’s Andy,” he told Mycroft. “He doesn’t speak at all, but he won’t bother you.”

Mycroft gave him a nod and kept his head down.

“Here Andy,” John murmured, holding out his half of an orange. “You can give the seeds to Edgar.” Andy nodded, and took it with a small hum. Taking another bite of porridge, John glanced at Mycroft. “A crow. With a bent wing, tends to stay around the gardens.”

“Ah.” He felt a shadow as a big man came to his side, looking down at him.

"Hello, Matthew," John said, biting back a grin as the man began to pet Mycroft's hair. "He likes the color red. Matthew. You're not supposed to do that, remember?"

"Sorry, John," Matthew said, frowning. "Red."

"Yes. That's Mycroft. Say hello."

"Hello."

“Pleased to meet you, Matthew.”

"Heh. He talks funny, John."

"Yes, he does," John said, smiling as Matthew sat down. Andy handed off the orange, now seedless to him. Matthew grinned, and held it up for Mycroft to see.

"Orange."

"Matthew is very good most of the time. You just have to be able to listen to him when he can't quite figure out what words he needs to use." John looked up as a nurse stepped in with another patient, and instinctively shrank back. Andy patted him gently on the hand, looking at Mycroft with raised eyebrows.

“Bad one?” asked Mycroft quietly.

Andy nodded, looking at John whose hands shaking slightly. He took one and turned it so Mycroft could see the scar across John's palm.

Mycroft reached over and traced the scar before pulling his hand back.

"Frank is bad," Matthew said softly. "He hurt John and Lane. John doesn't like him."

“Who is Lane?”

Andy shook his head. "Lane went away after," Matthew said. "He didn't come back."

“I’m sorry.”

"It's fine," John said. "I just...I didn't think they'd bring him back here again."

“I’ll try to avoid him,” promised Mycroft, giving his hand a squeeze.

"You should. Lane...was just like you," John said with knowing eyes.

Mycroft swallowed hard. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

John nodded and stood up, leaving the room. Andy shrugged and pushed his porridge over to Matthew with a low hum.

**

John looked up as Andy stepped into the sitting area, and walked over to him. "Hi Andy."

Andy blinked and tapped at his own shoulder, looking at John.

"It's fine. There's a storm coming though, you're right."

Andy shrugged and held out a strawberry.

John smiled. "Thank you." Andy snatched it back before he could take it, and tugged at his hair, holding the strawberry up. "Mycroft?" John guessed. Andy nodded, handing the strawberry over before frowning and tapping at his cheeks. "I don't understand...oh wait. Is he upset?" John asked.

Andy nodded again and pointed toward John's room.

"You want me to talk to him?"

Andy nodded again, raising his eyebrows. John sighed. "Ok."

Mycroft was perched at the edge of his bed, half looking out the barred window. A letter sat next to him and he rubbed at his eyes, willing himself not to cry and failing. It wouldn't do any good anyway.

John looked in the door, seeing Mycroft staring out the window. He stepped in, biting his lip. "Mycroft?"

Starting, Mycroft curled around himself. He reached over and pushed the letter at John.

John looked at him, but picked up the letter and read. When he finished, he set it down and set a gentle hand on Mycroft's shoulder. "You have a brother?"

“I suppose it’s had now. He’s the one that found me.”

"Oh..." John sat down next to him. "They're wrong, you know."

“No they aren’t. I...I’m damaged. I shouldn't be around him.”

"You're only damaged because other people hurt you," John said. "You're not damaged because of what you are."

“Something is wrong with me. I shouldn’t like boys. I should like girls.”

"Are you hurting anyone?" John asked quietly. "Did you hurt your brother? Or any other children?"

“No. Never.”

"Then there isn't anything wrong with you," John said, staring straight ahead. "Nothing wrong with Lane. Nothing wrong...."

Mycroft raised his head. “With you?”

John met his eyes, but said nothing.

Mycroft looked away. “I’m sorry,” he said softly.

"It's fine. Lane....helped me. Get over a lot of stuff," John said. "I...I'm not broken."

“I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to go to prison and I don’t want anyone to go to prison because of me.”

"I know," John said. He looked at Mycroft carefully, and handed the letter back. "You shouldn't leave that where anyone can see. "

“I should burn it,” he said softly, holding it in trembling hands. But he didn’t want to. It was probably the last thing he’d ever have from his family.

"Don't," John said. "Here." He took it back and stood on the bed, slipping the letter into the air vent. "There, it'll be...safe."

“Thank you.” Mycroft rubbed his face again and schooled his features. “I don’t expect to ever leave.”

"You can't stay here forever," John said gently. "You don't deserve to."

“If I go out again I’ll just kill myself. For real this time. I can’t live with myself. Not with how I am.”

"Mycroft, you can't," John said sharply. "What good will that do? What would your brother think if he found out after he stopped you the first time, you gave up again?" He sighed. "You...can't. Not because you're queer."

“I don’t want to live my life hidden. What am I supposed to do, get married, have a dozen kids, just to prove to the world that I’m not?”

"I don't know," John said, swallowing hard. "I just...I know you can't die. I don't want to lose another friend."

Mycroft looked at him. “I’m sorry,” he said honestly. “I...I used to want to get into politics. I have no idea now. I’ve ruined any chance at changing things.”

"Why? Because they," John said, gesturing to the vent. "Think you're wrong?"

“Someone will dig up that I’ve been here. Nobody would vote for me.”

"That's not true. The working class people would support you. And...I would. People who are hurt, like me." John set a hand over Mycrofts. "You can if you try."

Mycroft looked into his kind eyes. For a moment he had a strong urge to kiss him. Instead he forced himself to look away.

"I'm going outside," John said, standing up. "Andy plays chess, and you'd be welcome to join us. He's tired of having just me to play with."

“Thank you, I will.”

**

John woke to a low moan and sat up. Mycroft was twisted in his blanket, head shaking from side to side. "Mycroft. Wake up." Mycroft gave another moan, and John got up, coming over and shaking him gently. "'Mycroft!"

Mycroft started awake. “I’m sorry,” he said automatically.

"It's fine. Are you okay?"

“Just...a bad dream.”

"Do you want to talk about it?" John asked, sitting on the edge of his bed. "You don't have to."

“It was my brother that found me,” Mycroft said softly. “I can’t forget the look in his eyes.”

"And you saw him?" John asked. "Tonight?"

“I see him most nights,” he admitted. “I wish I could tell him I was sorry.”

"If you write him a letter...would he be able to get it. If someone else sent it?"

“Possibly. He’s very clever.”

"Then I can see if Matthew's mother will send it for us. She visits him on Sundays," John said. "Will you be able to sleep?"

“Thank you. I’ll write a letter and then I will.”

"Goodnight, Mycroft," John said, standing and going back over to his bed.

**

"John! My mum came here!" Matthew said excitedly a few days later.

"Is it Sunday already?" John asked, smiling. "Why don't I bring Mycroft to introduce him?"

"Yes!"

John sighed and got up, leaving the sitting room to find Mycroft.

Mycroft was in his room reading a book. He looked up as John came in. “You look excited.”

"I'm very excited for Matthew. His mother is here. Bring your letter for your brother and come meet her, won't you?"

“Of course.” Mycroft got up, a bit nervous, letter tucked into his pocket.

"She's very nice," John said quietly. "Her name is Emma Hudson." He led Mycroft out, and into the sitting room.

"See? Red," Matthew said, pointing. "Nice red. Mycroft. He reads me books."

“Oh, you’re a tall one,” she smiled warmly at Mycroft.

“I’m very pleased to meet you ma’am.” Mycroft stood awkwardly, uncertain what to say.

"Sit down Mycroft," John said, sitting on a low couch. "Mrs. Hudson, this is Mycroft Holmes. He's my new roommate."

“Matthew’s been telling me about you.”

“He’s a good young man, ma’am.”

"Mycroft tells stories. And draws," Matthew said, pleased that his mother was talking to him. "He's sad though."

John looked at Matthew curiously. "Matthew, where did you hear that?"

"Dog eyes."

"Dog eyes?" John echoed. "Oh...you mean puppy dog eyes. His eyes are sad?" Matthew nodded.

Mycroft bit his lip and looked down. “John suggested that you might be able to help me, Mrs. Hudson.”

She reached out and patted his knee. “What is it, dear?”

“My family wants nothing to do with me. Can you...see that this letter gets delivered to my brother?”

"Oh I see..." Mrs Hudson said as John looked at her carefully. "Yes, of course. Here, I'll take it." She tucked the letter away in her handbag as Matthew looked on in interest.

"Sweets?"

"Of course. Toffee for you, and some chocolate for John And Andy. And now Mycroft as well it seems. Do you have a favourite sweet?" She smiled at him, handing Matthew his candy.

“I’m not picky.”

"Oh, come now, surely you'd like something in particular. Clove rocks?"

John nudged Mycroft with a smile. "Mrs. Hudson is kinda like everyone's mother in here. She doesn't mind."

“I like cakes,” he said quietly.

"Raspberry and chocolate suit?" Mrs. Hudson asked, reaching out and setting a hand on his knee.

“Yes, please.”

"Very well. And Mycroft? The next time I see you dear, I hope you won't have such...dog eyes."

“I’ll try.”

**

As part of treatment, Mycroft was assigned a psychiatrist. He was anxious as he stepped into the man’s office.

"Come in, Mycroft. You don't have to hide in the doorway."

"Good afternoon sir."

"Sit, Mycroft. We have a lot to cover during this first session."

"Of course, sir." Mycroft smoothed his sleeve over the scar.

"Now correct me if any of this is wrong. It says here you're seventeen. Full name Mycroft Edwin Holmes, admitted two weeks ago. Is that all true?"

"Yes sir. Born April 4, 1936."

"Very nice to meet you, Mycroft. My name is Richard Landry. Now, why don't you tell me why you're here?" Richard smiled, setting aside his files and watching Mycroft.

"I attempted to kill myself, sir."

"I know that. I didn't ask what brought you here, I asked why. Why are you here? What do you wish to gain, what drove you to do such a thing?"

Mycroft folded his hands and looked at his lap. "Is what is said here secret, sir?"

"Unless you've committed a crime, or plan to, then yes. I exercise discretion with my patients, and I find betraying confidences will not win me any friends."

Mycroft nodded. "I'm queer."

Richard raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"

"I only like other boys, sir." Mycroft wanted to hide under his chair.

"I see," Richard said quickly, perhaps too quickly. "And have you ever indulged in these...urges?"

"No sir."

"Then you must be wrong, Mycroft. Do you understand? You shouldn't say such things. You may speak to me, but no one else must know," Richard said. "It is illegal."

"I'm well aware of that, sir."

"Then you know you cannot tell anyone. Should not."

"You asked why I tried to kill myself sir. That's why I asked if what we spoke about was confidential."

Richard put his head in his hand. "I am simply trying to protect you, young man. If you must be angry, do not be angry at me."

"My family has already disowned me and dumped me here, what else am I supposed to do? I can't pursue university now. It will be difficult for me to get a job. I may as well simply stay where I can't harm anyone."

"Do you think you will harm someone?" Richard asked, jumping on the chance. "Do you want to harm people?"

"No, sir." He knew he was being stubborn.

"Then why did you attempt suicide?"

Mycroft rolled his eyes. "I saw no point in living," he said moodily.

“Because being queer means you cannot have a life?” Richard asked.

"I've only ever wanted to go into government."

“I think we are done here. Officially, that is.” He stood, and moved to shut the door, locking it.

Mycroft's heart skipped. "Sir?"

“Sorry, Mycroft. I don’t mean to alarm you, but I don’t wish to be interrupted,” Richard said, sitting back down.

Mycroft swallowed and nodded.

“I have two brothers. One who shares my last name, one who does not. You will not be able to find records, nor will you be able to determine who he is on your own. So, I see no problem in telling you that my brother is a government worker. He works in the shadows, and many do not even know he exists. But he, like you is queer. Has a relationship with another man. So government, if you were to know the right people, is not so far out of your reach. What you do need to do, however, is work through the idea that there is no life for you. And you must not tell anyone else. Do you understand?” Richard asked sharply.

"Yes, sir." Mycroft wanted to grasp for hope.

"If you show me growth, I will speak to him," Richard said. "But you must show me you wish to live."

"I can do that."

"Good. Now, we are done here. I will be marking your file. If anyone asks, you will have had difficulty accepting God and decided to take matters into your own hands. In time, we'll record it as resolved."

"I can do that sir."

"Good," Richard stood, shaking Mycroft's hand. "Until next week."

**

John wandered over as Mycroft came out to the gardens. "Was it okay in there?"

“Yes. I have to hide myself, but I may have a second chance.”

"A second chance?" John asked, noticing the faint glimmer of hope in his eyes.

“A way that I can maybe still do what I want to do with my life.”

"That's wonderful. I won't ask anymore, I feel like you shouldn't talk about it where anyone can hear," John said. "But I'm happy for you." He hesitated, then took Mycroft's hand, squeezing it and lingering perhaps a bit too long before releasing him. "Truly."

Mycroft met his eyes. “Perhaps we can talk tonight.”

"I don't know if that is a good idea," John said. "Talking...can be overheard. But yes. Later tonight, when the ward is asleep."

Mycroft nodded. “Let’s play chess.”

**

Latter that night, Mycroft lay awake as the lights went out.

John was lying on his back, staring up at the ceiling as they waited for the shuffling and murmurs outside to stop. He rolled onto his side after about an hour, and met Mycroft’s gaze. “So.”

“May I join you?” asked Mycroft quietly.

“I..what?” John said. “You mean in the bed?”

“Yes.”

John hesitated. “Okay.”

Mycroft slipped across the room and underneath his covers, taking his hand.

John relaxed into the touch, keeping Mycroft’s eyes in sight. He knew that Mycroft wouldn’t hurt him and he allowed that thought to sooth the tension from his mind as their legs brushed against each other.

“I’d like very much to kiss you.”

“Why?” John asked quietly, ignoring the pang of longing in his chest.

“You’re a good man, John.” Mycroft whispered.

“You are too,” John said. “But...if we’re caught..”

“Would you like me to return to my bed?”

John looked at him, and licked his lips. “No,” he murmured, and surged forward, pressing their lips together in an awkward, hard kiss.

Mycroft bit back a moan, wrapping his arms around John.

John pressed closer to him, bringing his hands up to pull at Mycroft’s shoulders.

Mycroft slipped his tongue in John’s mouth, pulling him on top.

John let out a low, guttural groan. “Mycroft. We can’t,” he gasped.

“I want you.” Mycroft nibbled his shoulder, feeling John’s erection

John let out a small sob, dropping his head to Mycroft’s shoulder. “I can’t. You...you’ll get hurt too.”

Mycroft ran his fingers through John’s hair. “What happened?”

“I…” John shook his head. “Lane. He was older, knew things. Answered my questions. I..I kissed him, only once and Frank saw somehow. I thought we were hidden away, but we weren’t. And he attacked us.”

“I’m sorry.” Mycroft kissed him very gently. He gently slid out from underneath John to return to his bed.

John curled on his side, facing away. All thoughts of conversation were forgotten as tears slipped down his cheek, the steady flame of disappointment and guilt burning in his chest and belly.

Mycroft looked at him. With a sigh he went to sit on the edge of John’s bed and rubbed his back. “It wasn’t your fault.”

John choked out another sob at the gentle touch. “I shouldn’t have done it. I knew better.”

“You’re not evil. Neither of us is.”

“I only wanted to thank him,” John said shakily. “It...it wasn’t supposed to be…”

“What happened to him?”

“I don’t know,” John whispered, turning over to look at Mycroft. “He was injured, I was injured. They sent us to different wings, because I was underage. I came back here. He didn’t. I..I don’t even know if he made it out alive. Frank attacked me, and I hit my head. When I came to...Matthew was pulling Frank off Lane. And then the nurses were separating them and I just...I passed out again. There was too much going on.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” said Mycroft again, running fingers through his hair.

“But...I kissed him. I did that to him.”

“If you kissed him, it was because he wanted you to.”

“I shouldn't have. It got him hurt,” John murmured.

“If we do something, it’s because I want to, because I’m willing to take that risk. And I understand you’re not. But if you ever change your mind, I’m right here.” Mycroft leaned down to kiss his cheek, then returned to his own bed.

John rolled back on his side, facing the shadow of Mycroft’s body in the bed across the room. He raised a hand to his cheek, closing his eyes as he let go of a deep breath. “Good night,” he murmured.

“Good night, John.”

Mycroft dozed lightly, not really sleeping, so he was awake in an instant when he heard John cry out. He was on his feet as he saw John try to shield himself from some invisible attacker. “John. John, wake up.”

“No, no, father please,” John cried out, hands in front of his face. “I haven’t!”

"John." Mycroft rubbed his leg. "John you're safe."

John snapped awake, eyes wide as his breath left him in a harsh gasp. “My?” He met the redhead’s gaze and looked away, bowing his head to his knees. “Sorry,” he muttered, rocking slightly. “Sorry. Go..back to sleep, if I woke you.”

“No, I was already awake.” Mycroft sat next to him again and rubbed his back.

“Why were you still awake?” John asked quietly.

“Just having trouble sleeping.”

John sighed, and moved over. “Lie down with me?” he requested. “I know what it’s like. Not being able to sleep.”

Mycroft lay down and curled around him. “Did you want to talk about it?”

“My father,” John said. “He...hurt me.”

“He beat you for who you are?”

“No. He beat me just to beat me. If he had known...I wouldn’t have made it out alive. Even so...I barely did,” John said, sitting up. “Here,” he said shakily, moving his hands to the hem of his shirt and pulling it up. “Let me...show you.”

“Oh, John.” Mycroft ran his fingers over the scar.

“He shot me,” John said, eyes turned up to the ceiling. “No reason why. Just...did.”

Mycroft kissed the torn skin. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine,” John said, closing his eyes and swallowing against the gentle brush of lips. “I used to want to be a doctor. Go into the army and help people there. Now, I can’t even look at a gun without having an attack.”

“Maybe we can help each other.”

John looked at him, meeting Mycroft’s eyes. “My…” he said carefully. “We’re gonna get out of here. Right? You...you’d come with me?”

“Yes. And if I get out of here first, I’m bringing you with me.”

John surprised himself with the laugh that slid past his lips. He leaned in, slowly pressing their lips together again. “Yes.”

**

Things seemed to get a little easier after that. Mycroft did his best to be a model resident. He and John remained close, but limited themselves to only kissing in the dark hours of the night. One afternoon they were awaiting Mrs. Hudson’s weekly visit, when Mycroft sat straight up at the sound of a familiar voice.

“Mycroft?” John asked, seeing him pale. “Are you alright?”

“That sounds like my brother.” He stared at the entrance, waiting.

“Sherlock?” John asked. “How could he be here-” He was interrupted by a gasp from the doorway, a lanky, curly headed ten year old standing there, staring at them. Mrs. Hudson pushed him into the room with a murmured encouragement, and Sherlock stumbled forward, coming over to them with wide eyes.

Mycroft walked over and took Sherlock’s hand, leading him to a seat. “It’s good to see you.”

"Mother and father told me...that you'd died. But then I got your letter."

“They disowned me. I’m sorry. You saved my life, Sherlock.”

"Why would you do that? You scared me!" Sherlock snapped, crossing his arms.

"Sherlock dear, sometimes people can't help hurting themselves, because they hurt too much inside," Mrs. Hudson said soothingly. "It doesn't mean your brother doesn't love you. And I'm sure that he didn't mean to scare you."

"I never meant to hurt you," said Mycroft. "And I'm so sorry for what I did to you.".

Sherlock huffed and turned away, holding himself tight. “I’m glad you aren’t dead,” he whispered.

"Me too." Mycroft reached out to touch him.

Sherlock stiffened at the touch, then relaxed, turning into his brother’s arms, burying his face in his chest. “I want you to come home,” he muttered. “Mother and father will let you back, I know they will.”

"I don't know if I can. But I'm working very hard at getting better." He hugged him.

John pulled Mrs.Hudson aside as the brothers spoke to each other, fixing her with a questioning gaze. She shrugged. “I just brought my nephew in to see his cousin Matthew. Nothing wrong with that, is there?”

John smiled at her. “Thank you. You have no idea what this means to him.”

She smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “It’s nothing dear. Here, I have sweets for you all and I’m sure Matthew is getting impatient.”

John let out a quiet laugh. “Of course.”

Mycroft retreated to his room after Sherlock left. Despite his brother's words he was certain his parents wouldn't forgive him.

John followed him after giving him a few moments alone, concerned for how he’d be reacting to his brother’s presence.

"On the one hand I’m sorry I hurt him. On the other hand I'm glad I met you."

John nodded, and sat down beside him. “It’ll take time. But he knows you’re okay now. And as long as he knows that, he won’t mourn you.”

"Thank you."

“You’re welcome.” John rested his hand over Mycroft’s for a quick moment. “And it’ll pass. You’ll get through this.”

Mycroft gave him a smile and squeezed his hand.

**

A few days later Mycroft was reading a book in his room when suddenly Matthew appeared in his room, looking slightly panicked. He tugged on Mycroft’s arm and he quickly got up to follow him.

“John’s sad,” Matthew said, pulling Mycroft into the gardens. “Andy told Matthew to get Mycroft.”

Mycroft nodded. John was curled up in one corner, pressed against the bushes. Mycroft crouched down. “John.”

Andy moved away as Mycroft crouched down, John letting out a harsh gasp and curling farther into the bushes at Mycroft’s shadow falling over him.

“It’s Mycroft, John. Mycroft.”

“No, no,” John stuttered, chest heaving as tears ran down his face. “Can’t.”

“You’re safe, John.” Mycroft pet his leg, watching him.

“Can’t breathe,” John choked out, eyes wide with fear.

“Yes you can.”

John was shaking hard, and Andy took his arm forcing him to sit up, pressing his head between his knees.

“‘M dying,” John moaned, nails digging into the soft cotton of his trousers. “Hurts”

Mycroft rubbed his back. “One of you get a nurse.”

Andy shook his head.

"The nurses put him in the bad white thing. It helps, but John doesn't like it," Matthew said. "And they put the needle in his arm."

“Okay.” Mycroft shifted to sit next to John and pulled him against his chest. “I’m right here. I’m not going to let you go.”

John clutched at his arms, pressing back against him as he fought for breath, body shuddering.

“That’s right,” murmured Mycroft, breathing for him, keeping a hold of him.

"My," John choked out, body tensed as if a steel rod ran the length of his spine.

“It’s okay, John. I’m not going to leave you.”

John let go of another wracking sob, chest heaving as Mycroft tightened his grip. Mycroft began to rock him gently, murmuring in his ear as the other two watched. John's breathing began to slow, his eyes closing as he drew in deep, controlled breaths. "Okay," John whispered, body relaxing though his hands kept shaking. "I'm okay."

“Good, good. I’m not going anywhere.”

John let a soft noise slip past his lips. "Let go. We can't let anyone see," he whispered, voice pained.

“Okay.” Mycroft carefully let go and moved away from him.

"Thank you," John said, keeping his gaze down. "I...they would have sedated me and put me in solitary."

“I told you I’d take care of you.”

"You shouldn't have too," John muttered. "I shouldn't still be this way."

“You’re afraid, John. That isn’t going to change overnight.”

"I know. I just feel so useless," John admitted. Andy let out a low hum and sat next to him, pulling John's hand to his throat. John sighed and looked at him. "You're not useless, Andy." Another reproachful hum and John lowered his gaze again.

“John if we didn’t all have problems we wouldn't be here.”

"Thank you," John said softly.

"I like you, John," Matthew said, patting his head. "You're not mean, even though you're sad. And you like me and Andy. And you love Mycroft, even though he's taller."

John froze, eyes wide. "Matthew."

Mycroft swallowed. “Matthew you can’t say that. Not out loud.”

"Why not? Mom knows. I told her."

Andy took Matthew's hand, holding a single finger to his lips.

John hesitated. "It's a secret, Matthew. If people know, they'd hurt us. You don't want us to get hurt like Lane and go away, do you?"

Matthew looked at him, with wide eyes. "Why would they do that? It's not nice."

“I know it’s not nice,” said Mycroft. “But it’s the law.”

"What's a law?"

"Remember why you're here, Matthew? Because when people tried to hurt your mom, you hurt them back?" John asked, and Matthew nodded. "But you hurt them too much, and when you hurt them too much, you broke a law. People are afraid that if Mycroft and I love each other, we'd hurt someone."

“It may not make sense, Matthew, but we have to be very very careful,” said Mycroft.

"So. John and Mycroft say be quiet. It's a secret. Be as quiet as Andy."

"Yes, Matthew. As quiet as Andy," John said, letting go of a breath.

"I don't like it," Matthew said, crossing his arms.

"I know," John replied quietly, looking at Mycroft. "I don't either."

“Me either. But if i can get into the job I want, maybe I can work on changing it.”

"Will you be magic?" Matthew asked, looking excited. "Mom read me a magic book once."
Andy snorted, and the rest of them relaxed.

"Mycroft won't be magic, not quite. But if you want, I can tell you a story with magic," John said, a soft smile on his face.

"Yes!"

**

John came into their bedroom later that night, just before lights out was called. Mycroft was already lying down, turned to the window.

"Mycroft," he murmured, sitting on the edge of his bed. "I...what Matthew said earlier...."

Mycroft rolled over and took his hand. “I love you, John. But I know we can’t speak of such things aloud.”

John nodded and leaned down, pressing a kiss to his lips.

Mycroft kissed him back, holding his shoulder gently.

John lay down on the bed, pressing his body along Mycroft's, cupping his face. "How can I want you so much," he mumbled, stroking a thumb over Mycroft's cheekbone.

Mycroft moaned softly. “I want you too. I want to give you all of me. I want to wake up every morning to you in my bed. Come home to you every night.”

John's breath hitched and he pressed closer, feeling Mycroft's hardness pressing against his own. "It sounds amazing," he muttered. "Our home. Our bed."

“Safe. Nobody watching us.” He tangled his fingers in John’s hair.

"Like a dream," John murmured, kissing him again. "An amazing dream."

Mycroft moaned softly against his lips. “I want you so badly.”

"I want you," John said, pressing a kiss to his throat. "Want to see and taste and feel."

“Please,” murmured Mycroft, pushing down his own sleep pants, then John’s. He wrapped a hand around both their cocks, groaning into his mouth.

"Shhh," John cautioned, biting back
his own moan.

“I know.” Mycroft kissed him again, moving his hand, revelling in the pleasure of it

“‘S good. Haven’t before,” John muttered, rocking his hips.

“Neither have I.” Mycroft fumbled and grabbed a shirt. “I’m going to come, John.”

“Do it. I wanna see you,” John gasped, knowing that this would be over quickly for both of them.

Mycroft’s hand flew faster, eyes squeezing shut as he toppled over the edge with a quiet gasp.

John gasped at the warmth spreading between them, his own cock jerking and spurting as he rolled his hips.

Mycroft caught their seed with his shirt, panting and kissing John desperately.

“I love you,” John murmured, kissing him back just as desperately. “Don’t leave me.”

“I won’t, John. Even if I get out I’m taking you with me.”

John curled into him, peppering his chest with kisses. "You won't hurt me. I know you won't."

“Never, John. Never.”

**

It was only a week or so later that Mycroft was declared fit enough to leave. “As soon as I get my own place, get set up, John, I’m coming back here to get you.” Richard was setting him up with his brother as promised.

“I know,” John said, smiling at him. “I’ll miss you.” The plan was to have Mycroft hire John as a house servant and all over handyman, at least on paper. In reality, they’d been granted a house and Mycroft a job due to a letter Mycroft had written to Richard’s brother, detailing his abilities.

“It won’t be long. And I’ll come back to visit Matthew and Andy too.”

“I know,” John repeated. “Go. Get outta here before I decide to keep you with me.”

Mycroft shook his hand and headed out, looking forward to life for the first time in a long time. It was still dangerous, but he knew that he and John would be okay. And hopefully Sherlock could come visit as well. Maybe even one day his parents would accept him back. If not, well, his life was his own.

Chapter Text

John waited in the entrance, meager belongings stowed in a travel case by his side. Andy stood with him, Matthew changing between pouting and excitement as he babbled to a small stuffed bear. John caught Andy’s gaze and gave a hesitant smile. “He’ll come, right?”

Andy nodded, and placed his palm over his heart. John nodded. “I know. Love.” His gaze darted to the drive where a small black car pulled up. “He’s here,” John said, anxiously. “I’ll see you again, right?” Andy nodded and pushed John toward Matthew and the door. “Matthew? I’m leaving now.”

“Bye John. See you later,” Matthew said, nodded and making the bear wave goodbye. “Tell Mycroft hi.”

“Okay, Matthew.” John swallowed hard and grabbed his bag, stepping out to the car.

Mycroft opened the door for him, relieved that John was here, but unable to show it with the driver here. "I'm glad to see you."

“Yes, sir,” John said. “Thank you for offering me employment.”

"I expect you're familiar with your duties, Watson?"

“Yes, Mr. Holmes,” John replied, settling back as the car began to move. He ached to reach out for Mycroft’s hand, but instead comforted himself with a simple brush of fingers on the seat between, just enough to look accidental.

Mycroft ached to touch him as well, but instead he lapsed into silence, looking over some paperwork as they drove.

Finally they pulled up in front of a small but stately home. "Here we are."

“Thank you for the lift, sir,” John said, slipping out with his bag. He allowed Mycroft to lead him into the house. “Are we alone?” he murmured as he shut the door, looking up at Mycroft.

"Just us here. I've missed you."

“Oh, thank god,” John muttered and surged forward, wrapping his arms around Mycroft. He pressed their lips together desperately, flushing at the pained moan that escaped him. “My…”

"John." Mycroft melted in his arms.

“I missed you,” John said, burying his face in Mycroft’s neck. “God, I shouldn’t have missed you this much. It’s only been a month.”

"I know. Everything has changed, but it's not complete without you."

“What needs done?” John asked. “It’s the middle of the day, but all I want to do is hold you for a few hours, make sure I know you’re really real. That I’m not dreaming.”

"I have the afternoon off. Let me show you around and then you can hold me while we talk."

“Yes,” John said, stepping back. “Can I hold your hand though?” he asked, with a silly grin spreading over his face.

“Long as we’re mindful of the windows.” Mycroft leaned in to kiss him again.

"Course," John said, smiling at him. "I can't believe I'm here."

“I’m so glad of it. All the records say I’m eighteen now. My job is...great, really great. I can’t talk much about it, but it’s everything I’ve wanted to do.” He looked at John. “Are...you really going to be okay here? Just...being my servant?”

"Yes," John nodded as they began to walk through the house. "It'll be good for me. To get used to real life again. This way, I control what I do and see. For now any way."

“You’ll be here alone during the day. I don’t have any other housekeeping. I hope it’s not too much for you.”

"I used to keep the house growing up. I don't think it will be."

“If you need any help, let me know. I could have a gardener come in a few times a week or something if you’d like.”

"We'll see. Show me our home, My."

Mycroft smiled and led him deeper into the house. It wasn’t that big, downstairs had a kitchen, formal dining room, study and den. Upstairs were three bedrooms and a music room. There was a servant's room in the attic as well.

"It's perfect," John said, leaving his bags in the servant's room for the sake of appearance. He lay his head on Mycroft's shoulder, and smiled up at him. "Oh. Matthew says hello. Andy as well."

"Are they well?"

“They are, yeah. As well as they could be anyway.” John hesitated. “Mycroft...where will we sleep?”

"I'll show you." He brought him to one of the bedrooms and opened the door. "We're safe here."

John looked around at the fancy furnishings, biting his lip. “It’s really is a bit much, isnt’ it?” he asked. “The bed though...that I like.” He went and sat on the edge of the four poster, smiling as the mattress sank perfectly beneath him. “Oh god, Mycroft, this mattress.”

"It's only been missing you." Mycroft sat next to him.

“Not anymore,” John said, turning and taking his hand. “I was lonely without you at night. Bed was cold.”

"We can stay all night together, now."

John smiled, blinking back emotion. “I...I know. And I can’t wait. Remember what we said? Our bed. Together.”

Mycroft leaned in to kiss him again.

John kissed him back, tugging him closer and laying them down. “You’re amazing,” he murmured. “I love you.”

"I love you, too. I need you." Mycroft ran fingers through his hair.

“Not as much as I need you,” John replied, tucking his face into Mycroft’s neck and kissing his pulse point. “What do you want, My?”

"You. As much as I can."

“Now?” John asked, sliding a hand down to Mycroft’s hip and pressing them together.

Mycroft moaned. "Please."

John rolled them over, straddling Mycroft’s waist. “How far do you want to go? We don’t... have to worry about anyone...interrupting,” he said gently.

"I want to know what it feels like to be taken," breathed Mycroft.

“You want to?” John murmured, rocking his hips. “I just want to hold you.”

"You can hold me for now if you want."

“We can do both,” John said. “Can I undress you?”

Mycroft nodded, watching him, heart beating hard in his chest. The cuts on his wrist had healed, but the scars remained.

John carefully unbuttoned Mycroft’s sleeves and shirt, tugging it off slowly. “You know,” he said, hands ghosting over his stomach to the hem of his undershirt. “We’ve never seen each other. Not like this.” He paused and met Mycroft’s eyes before pushing the shirt off, drinking in the sight of his pale, freckled skin.

Mycroft bit his lip and tried to fight the urge to cover himself. "I'm nothing to look at."

“No,” John murmured. “You’re gorgeous.” He dropped his head down, pressing a kiss over Mycroft’s heart.

Mycroft moaned and ran gentle fingers through John's hair. "You're my miracle."

“You’re ridiculous,” John said, blushing slightly. “Can I?” he asked, setting his hands on Mycroft’s waistband.

"Yes. Please."

John watched his face as he undid Mycroft’s trousers, pulling them and his pants off, leaving Mycroft bare and hard below him. “Oh god…”

Mycroft surged up to kiss him and tugged off John's clothes, needing to see him.

“Is it...you like it?” John asked breathlessly, tugging away. “I’m all right?” His scars weighed on his mind, the mangled skin reminders of an unhappy past.

"Yes. More than."

“You want me…” John groaned, pressing himself against Mycroft again and capturing his lips. He slipped a hesitant hand between Mycroft’s legs, exploring, brushing a dry finger against his rim. “Do you...we need something.”

"I've got something we can use," Mycroft moaned.

“Get it,” John said, forcing himself to pull away so Mycroft could.

Mycroft scrambled to get the jar. He handed it to John and lay back on the bed.

John kissed him again, and smiled. “You’re sure?” he asked, running a hand down Mycroft’s legs, pushing them up so they were bent.

"Never been more sure."

“I love you,” John murmured, pressing a kiss to the curve of Mycroft’s knee and opening the jar. “If...Lane said it might hurt the first time. If it hurts, tell me to stop,” he said, slicking a finger and pressing it against Mycroft. “Just relax.”

Mycroft nodded, moaning as John breached him.

“‘S okay?” John asked, curling his finger gently, leaning his head against Mycroft’s leg.

"Ahh. Good..."

“Tell me when you want more,” John said, marveling at the tight heat of Mycroft’s body.

Mycroft tried to breath, sucking in air and the heady scent of John.

"Breathe, love," John said, curling his finger against his walls. "I've got you."

Mycroft groaned and relaxed, trusting.

"I think it's okay to put another one in now," John said. "Yeah?"

“Please, please,” moaned Mycroft, wanton and needy.

"You sound...God," John said, pressing a second finger in beside the first.

“You feel…” Mycroft gasped again, “amazing.”

"Breathe," John reminded him again, stretching him carefully.

Mycroft sucked in a breath, then another one, trying to relax underneath him.

“Does it hurt?” John asked, concern filtering through his voice. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“No, no good. So..so good….full.” Mycroft was nearly incoherent.

John leaned down, pressing their lips together again, still moving his fingers.

“God,” murmured Mycroft spreading his legs farther apart. “I need you.” He ran his hands down John’s sides.

"Now?" John asked, curling his fingers.

Mycroft gasped and nodded, trembling with need.

John swallowed and pulled his fingers away, slicking his cock slowly. "I'll go slow," he promised, lining himself up with care. Watching Mycroft's eyes, he began to press inside, stretching Mycroft around his cock.

“More,” moaned Mycroft, trying to pull him closer.

John nodded, panting with the effort of not driving into Mycroft. "I am."

Mycroft forced his eyes open and leaned up to kiss John, slipping his tongue into his mouth.

John moaned, hips jerking forward at the slide of their tongues together. "Mycroft," he breathed, sliding a hand over his chest.

“Yours, John. God, I need you.”

"I have you," John promised with a sharp gasp as he bottomed out. "Oh god. Can I move?"

“Yes.” Mycroft’s mind was overloaded with the sensations.

“I won’t last...it feels so good.” John began to rock his hips, breath coming hard.

“Come, John, fill me up.”

“Gonna,” John muttered.

Mycroft squeezed around him.

With a harsh cry of surprise and pleasure, John came, spilling into him.

Mycroft came a few moments later, pulling John close and muffling his cries against his lips.

“Oh god,” John gasped a bit later. “Sorry, I just need to..” He pulled out and kissed Mycroft again, tugging him to his chest after wiggling the cover atop them. “Can we just stay like this then? For a bit? Or do you want to clean up?”

“I don’t want you out of my arms.”

“Okay,” John said quietly, nuzzling into him. “Mycroft?”

“Mm?”

“I love you,” John breathed, closing his eyes with a happy smile.

Mycroft held him a little tighter. “I love you, too.”

**

Over the next weeks they settled into a routine. Mycroft would go to work, sometimes late into the evening, and he’d come home to John and a warm supper and sleep in his lovers arms.

Worried about John being home alone, he brought home an English Bulldog, that quickly became part of the family.

One day, about a fortnight or so after John had moved in, Mycroft came home with a black eye he knew he wouldn’t be able to keep hidden from John.

“Mycroft?” John called out. “Your dinner is-oh my god. What happened?” he gasped, nearly dropping the bowl he was drying.

The dog snuggled against his leg. “Nothing major,” said Mycroft. “Some training at work got out of hand, I’m afraid.”

“Sit...sit down,” John stammered, licking his lips. “I’ll get something for it.” He disappeared into the kitchen, coming out moments later with a tube of cream and a small bag of ice. With shaking hands he knelt on the couch beside Mycroft, smoothing the ointment over his bruised skin.

Mycroft caught a shaking hand. “I’m okay, John. I’m just training for some….other work.”

“You’re hurt,” John said. “I just...I should be able to stop that from happening, but I can’t. Not if it’s your job. And I don’t...I can’t...I don’t want to see you bruised and beaten. Not like I was.”

“I’ve tried not to get hurt in any way you can see.” Mycroft kissed his knuckles. “I promise you, this is nothing like you went through.”

“No. But it looks the same,” John said, pulling his hand away and continuing to apply the cream, avoiding Mycroft’s gaze.

“You know I love you, John.”

John paused. “I...I know.”

“And I never want to upset you.”

“I know,” John said, finally looking at him. “It isn’t you who does.” He brushed a kiss over Mycroft’s lips and stood. “I’ll bring your food in.”

“Thank you.” He gave the dog a pat and encouraged him to follow John.

John smiled hesitantly, and went into the kitchen, Gladstone on his heels.

**

Later that night, they were in their bed, when Mycroft felt John jerk in his sleep. Almost immediately Gladstone started licking John’s face, trying to wake him up. “John, I’m here, you’re safe,” said Mycroft.

John moaned, curling in on himself with a whimper. “N..No. No, please.”

“John, please.” Mycroft ran his hands through John’s hair, feeling the sweat of his brow.

“My….” John moaned. “Don’t. Leave him alone.” He shook his head, batting Mycroft’s hand away. “MY!” He gasped awake, body shaking, eyes immediately darting to Mycroft. He raised a trembling hand, checking on Mycroft, cupping his face. “You’re all right.”

“Right here.” Mycroft kissed him and pulled him into his arms, dog trying to wiggle in between.

“You...they.” John took a deep breathe, petting Gladstone to calm him. “It’s fine. You’re safe.”

“You were dreaming about someone hurting me?”

John nodded. “I used to have nightmares about my father hurting me. Now, it’s a mix. Some nights it’s you, someone threatening you, and there is nothing I can do. Other nights, you’re watching me be hurt. And the nights when you don’t come home, they’re….worse.” He bit his lip. “When you aren’t here, I worry.”

“Does Gladstone help?”

John smiled hesitantly at the dog. “Yes. Quite a bit. When he’s grumpy, he reminds me of you,” he said, quiet laughter in his voice.

Mycroft chuckled and kissed him deeply. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” John said, twining their legs together. “Go back to sleep. We’ll both be here in the morning.

“Yes we will.”

**

“Gladstone! Come!” John called into the yard, watching as the sky darkened quickly. “Looks like rain,” he remarked to the dog, wandering back in the house. He’d managed to finish up the gardening, but his shoulder was aching with the oncoming weather and the exercise. “Mycroft will be home tomorrow,” he continued, feeling slightly foolish, but he smiled as Gladstone barked, curling up in his pet bed by the fire.

The rain was coming down in buckets. But that was the house, Sherlock was sure of it. Shivering and soaked, he tried the front door, but it was locked. He fumbled for his lockpicks, but his hands were a bit numb. Sighing to himself, he knocked instead.

John paused at the knock on the door, heart jumping. No one was due, no one should be coming. He set down his book and raised himself from the couch, stepping hesitantly into the hall and opening the door. “Sherlock?” he gasped. “Come in,” he said, ushering him into the kitchen. “You’re soaked!”

“Brilliant observation,” Sherlock said sarcastically, the tone ruined through his chattering teeth.

John snorted and got him a towel, setting the kettle on the stove. “What are you doing here?” he asked gently, setting out a mug and sugar.

“Home was becoming intolerable.” Sherlock rubbed his face.

John raised his eyebrows, but poured the water, setting the well sugared tea down in front of him. “What about it?”

“I don’t want to live there anymore.”

John sat down with a sigh. “Why not? They take care of you, don’t they?”

“They provide a roof over my head and food.” Sherlock sighed and cupped his hands around the mug. “I miss my brother,” he said quietly.

“I know how that feels,” John muttered. “All right. You can stay here tonight. Mycroft’ll be home tomorrow sometime and we’ll get this all figured out. I’ll go get you some clothes, and set up a spare bedroom.”

“I won’t tell anyone. About you and him.” said Sherlock. “I know it’s illegal.”

John stiffened, thoughts of retiring to the servant’s quarters for the night forgotten. “You know?”

“I know what Mycroft is. He hired you out of the asylum. I don’t think he hired you only because you’re friends.”

John sighed. “You’re right. We’re together. I love your brother.” He hesitated. “Mycroft has his problems. I obviously have my own.” He shook his head and stood. “Drink your tea. There’s food in the fridge if you like.”

“Thank you.” said Sherlock politely. “He’s happier with you.” He got up and got some food, biting his lip. “I think I’m like him.”

“Oh, Sherlock...” John said, pausing on his way out the door. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with us. You know that, right?”

“But it’s illegal. My brother would be ruined if anyone found out.”

“It’s illegal. But sometimes the law is wrong. We’ll talk about it in the morning, all right?” John said. “But really. There is nothing wrong with loving who you love.” He came back over and gave Sherlock a hesitant hug. “You’re all right.” He stood back up and left to fix the bedroom up.

**

John woke at the noise at the door, Gladstone’s ears perking up as he gave a small yip of excitement. John glanced at the dog, and knew that it wasn’t a threat, so he stood and tugged his robe on. He padded down the stairs, stopping with a smile as he saw an exhausted Mycroft setting down his travel bag and hanging his coat and umbrella up. “You’re early.”

“Managed to get an earlier flight.” He leaned in to kiss John.

John stopped him with a single finger. "My...Sherlock is here."

Mycroft blinked. “Where is he?”

"He's sleeping in the guest bedroom. He got caught in the rain, looked completely knackered. He says he doesn't want to live at home any longer." John hesitated. "He says...he thinks he's like us. Queer."

“Christ. They’ll just blame me if they find out.” Mycroft tiredly rubbed his hand across his face. “I’ll go talk to him. Can you put the luggage away?”

"Course, love." John leaned in for a kiss. "If he's sleeping still, let him sleep. I get the feeling he doesn't much." He picked up the bags and left Mycroft to go to Sherlock.

Mycroft went up the stairs and found Sherlock in the guest bedroom.”Found me, I see.”

Sherlock looked at him from the bench by the window. “Yes.” He stood and came over to Mycroft. “You’ll be allowing me to remain here, correct?”

“You know mum and dad are going to be worried sick.”

“I don’t care,” Sherlock snapped, turning away. He threw himself on the bed in a graceless sprawl, facing away from Mycroft.

“What did they do?” Mycroft sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed his back.

“Nothing,” Sherlock muttered, cheeks flushing. “They’ve done nothing. They don’t care for my happiness.”

“Sherlock?”

“They’re sending me away,” Sherlock said, voice muffled in the blankets. “To boarding school. In Sweden.” He sat up quickly. “I can’t go, Mycroft! I can’t leave London!”

Mycroft sighed. “I’ll see what I can do about custody, okay? I know some people now. But will you at least write them and let them know you aren’t at the bottom of the Thames?”

Sherlock flopped down again, hiding his relief. “Fine,” he grumbled.

“You can do it in the morning..” Mycroft ran fingers through his tangled hair. “John said you think you’re like us”

Sherlock nodded. “I don’t...I don’t like girls. They’re irritating and foolish, and they always do this moronic thing when I go by. They...twitter,” Sherlock grouched. “And...I’ve seen the magazines. They do nothing. It’s just...appalling to me. The idea of touching a woman like that.”

“You’re young, but I do understand. It’s important mum and dad don’t know about either of us. It may be hard enough to get custody with my record.”

“They already know about you though,” Sherlock said quietly. “What if...what if I tell them? Will they send me away like you? Then I can come live here.”

“They sent me away because I tried to kill myself, I think. I’m already dead to them.”

Sherlock’s breath hitched. “You won’t do it again, will you? John makes you happy.”

“I have a lot going for me now, Sherlock. I’m glad you stopped me. John, my job. I have a life I never thought I could have.”

“So you won’t,” Sherlock confirmed, nodding his head. “You won’t leave me.”

“No. I am so, so sorry for what I did to you.”

“Good.” Sherlock said. “You should be.”

“Get some sleep, Sherlock. We’ll discuss things in the morning.”

“Fine,” Sherlock muttered, crawling under the covers. Mycroft stood and made his way out the door. “Mycroft?” Sherlock said as his brother hit the light switch. “I did...miss you. Though your prodigious size makes it hard to believe I was unable to see you from home.”

Mycroft rolled his eyes, knowing what Sherlock meant by all of it and headed for his own bedroom.

**

John began to hang Mycroft’s clothes up, each suit going to its own hanger, shoes to the shelf below. He was nearly done when his hand hit upon something cold and hard. His breath caught as he tugged it out, the gun shining dark in the dim light. His head clouded, mind going blank except for the phantom pain shooting through his shoulder, Harry’s screaming in the distance as he sank to his knees.

Mycroft heard John crumple. Cursing, he remembered the weapon he’d had in his luggage, too late. Damn his exhaustion. He hurried to the room, tugged the gun from John’s hand, tossing it into some clothes where it would be hidden, and wrapped John in his arms as he had during his panic attack at the asylum. Gladstone was there in a moment too, licking him and trying to draw him out of it. Mycroft didn’t even notice Sherlock coming to stand in the doorway.

John couldn’t breathe, iron wrapped round and round his lungs. He moaned, feeling Mycroft’s arms around him, trying to still the tremors of his body. “Hurts,” he gasped. “Can’t.”

“You can, John, breathe for me.”

John moaned, nails dragging over Mycroft’s arms, trying to ground himself. “L...l...l” he stuttered, closing his eyes and pressing himself hard against Mycroft. “N..need.”

“What do you need?”

“You,” John choked out. “Tighter. Wrap me up.”

Mycroft nodded and pulled John against himself, arms and legs, his own back to the wall bracing them.

“L..lights,” John said, turning his head into Mycroft’s shoulder. Sherlock hit the lights without being told, and John’s heart slowed as they were plunged into darkness, his breath steadying as he held tight onto Mycroft’s arms.

Gladstone whimpered and pushed against his chest as well, as if trying to force the breath into him.

“That’s it, John.”

John choked, but drew in one breath after another, calming himself. He relaxed, still shaking, into Mycroft's arms, one hand reaching out to stroke Gladstone. "Don't let go," he murmured faintly, barely able to form the words. "My..."

“I’m here. I’m here. And I’m so sorry.”

"Why?" John asked. "A gun? You know...what..." He tightened his grip on Mycroft's arm, fear and anger sweeping through him.

“I forgot it was in my luggage. I’m sorry, John.”

"But what were you doing with it?" John snapped, swallowing back a wave of nausea.

"He's been playing spy," Sherlock said knowingly, voice loud in the dark room. "They're training him for intelligence work."

"A spy?" John said faintly, hands tightening on Mycroft's arms. "Mycroft, you can't," he breathed.

“I’m good at it John, very good. My immediate boss is queer and protecting me so I can’t be blackmailed. I speak a large number of languages, and I’m clever. And I’m careful.” He didn’t question how Sherlock knew.

"What if you get hurt? You were supposed to be doing office work," John snapped, pulling away. He ignored the hurt whine from Gladstone, bile rising in his throat.

“That’s still mostly what I’m doing. Please, don’t hate me.” Mycroft could feel his heart threatening to break.

"What am I supposed to do?" John cried weakly. "If you're hurt, if you die. Will I even know? One day, I'll wake up and you'll be gone and what if you never come back! I won't know!"

He put his head in his hands in frustration, hearing as Sherlock crept away. "Damn you, Mycroft. Damn you for making me love you this much."

Mycroft had tears in his eyes. “You’ll know.” He swallowed hard. “Should I go?” He didn’t want to. John was his world. “Or should I quit my job? We…. we can figure something out.”

"Just don't talk to me right now," John said, knowing he was overreacting, but unable to care. Mycroft reached out and he pulled away. "Don't touch me!" He shook his head, backing away. "I..I..." He turned and ran up the stairs, locking the attic door behind him, throwing himself on the dusty, unused bed with a sob. He tugged the cover over himself with shaking hands, curling into a ball.

Mycroft shook as he climbed into his own bed, feeling the vast emptiness. Gladstone whimpered, then went to scratch at the attic door. Maybe he should quit his job. Yes, he was being cared for and protected right now, but it wouldn’t mean anything if he lost John. He just had to hope they wouldn’t reveal everything if he did walk away. He ran his hands through his hair, trying to think he way out of this.

**

John finally woke after a nightmarish few hours of sleep, heart heavy and sore. He unlocked the door, and went downstairs, finding Mycroft staring out the front window at the rain.

"You're good at it?" he asked hoarsely. "The work they're training you for?"

“One of the best,” said Mycroft softly. “But I’ll walk away if you want me to. You’re more important than all of it.”

"This is how you got that black eye?" John asked, needing confirmation.

“Yes.” He wouldn’t lie.

John bowed his head, hands tight fists at his side. "Are you doing good? Does it make you happy?"

“I’m keeping people safe. And yes. But John…”

John shook his head. "What, My?"

“If you tell me right now to stop, that it puts too much on you. I will.” He turned and faced him. “I love you John Watson. I only want to keep you safe.”

"I know. And that's why I want you to keep doing your job," John said, swallowing hard. He stepped forward, and reached out for Mycroft hesitantly. "I...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have...yelled."

Mycroft folded him into his arms. “It’s understandable. I meant to take it out before you saw it, I was just exhausted when I got home, and then Sherlock…”

"I understand. I..I need to be able to look at a gun without having an attack," John said. "Are you going to have it with you from now on?"

“Only if that’s what you want. Otherwise I’ll keep it hidden away.”

"Just...as long as I know when you have it," John said. "I'll be all right. Where are Sherlock and Gladstone?"

“Still asleep. Since the dog couldn’t get to you, he’s sleeping with Sherlock."

John sighed. "At least he wasn't alone last night. I don't like sleeping by myself when you're not here," he admitted, laying his head on Mycroft's chest.

“I’m glad Gladstone helps.”

"I always wanted a dog," John said with a sigh. "Could have had one. I just refused to bring one into that house. Didn't know what my dad would do to it..."

Mycroft hugged him tightly. “Did your father go to prison for what he did?”

John nodded. "They put him away for attempted murder."

“Good. I wish you’d never gone through all of that. You didn’t deserve any of it.”

“I used to think I did.” John stepped away, taking Mycroft’s hand. “Come on. Tea, breakfast. I think we should have this conversation if we’re having it, sitting down.”

“Okay.” Mycroft followed John into the kitchen. “Are you going to be okay if Sherlock stays here?”

“He’s fine here. I wouldn’t send a child back to an unhappy home,” John said, setting the kettle on the stove and sighing. “Do you want tea or coffee?”

“Tea, please.” Mycroft watched him moving around the kitchen

John set out the two mugs and popped two slices of bread in the toaster. “How much have you figured out by yourself, and how much have I told you?” John asked, opening the fridge for milk.

“About your homelife?”

"Yes," John replied, taking the kettle off as it whistled.

“Not much. Your father was an unstable alcoholic, You’ve got a twin sister.”

John sighed, pouring the water. “My sister is a drunk. My mother is dead, died when we were nine. I feel like I should have told you all this before,” he said regretfully.

“It’s a lot of baggage,” said Mycroft. “It’s understandable.”

“It’s a lot of utter shite,” John said, hands tight on the mugs as he brought them over. “And no one cared until I almost died. He shot me, and I almost bled out on the kitchen floor. I can still hear Harry screaming.”

“I’ve heard you calling her name in your sleep. What happened to her?”

“She’s alive, I assume. But she’s a drunk. Homeless, somewhere in the city. I tried to help her,” John said bitterly. “But I was useless, scared of my own shadow.”

“It’s not your fault.”

"No, it isn't. But that doesn't make me feel any better. He beat her every time he couldn't get to me."

Mycroft squeezed his shoulder, not certain what else he could even say. He’d have to try and find her, for John’s sake.

"Eventually he lost his job. And that was the night he shot me,” John said bitterly. “Came inside. I didn’t do anything, just was sitting there, but he was drunk and angry at the world.”

"And you were the nearest target. You were almost sixteen, yes?"

“Yeah,” John said. He swallowed hard. “And as soon as I was better, they sent me into the ward. Can’t blame them.”

"You aren't broken, John."

John shook his head. “I’m not broken. I’m not wrong. I’m not everything they say I am. But I am...battered and bruised and marked.” He rubbed his shoulder unconsciously. “And it hurts, knowing that. It hurts to panic at loud noises and not be able to breathe if I catch sight of a gun. I don’t like being this way,” he said, reaching out and looking at Mycroft with desperate eyes. “I don’t. I have to get better.”

"What would help you?" Mycroft pulled him into his arms.

"I need to start leaving the house," John said, "doing things. But I can't alone."

"Would you like to take Sherlock to school? Accompanying him places? That won't be looked at oddly."

"Do you think he'd be able to handle me? It's not the best situation."

"We can sit down and talk to him. He's clever, and I'm sure we can find a solution."

"All right." John paused. "My? I love you."

Mycroft kissed him. "Love you, too.”

**

“Sherlock?” John said nervously. “Are you ready to go to the bookstore now?” It was their first trip out, and simply back and forth, but John was pacing, shoulder tingling with phantom pains.

"Yes, John." For once Sherlock was behaving himself, wanting to be good for both John and for Mycroft.

“Okay,” John muttered. “I can do this.” He watched as Sherlock came down the stairs, flouncing out the front door without a care. John hesitated as he went to follow, pausing at the doorstep.

Sherlock turned and gave him a smile.

John smiled back and stepped out, jacket buttoned tightly around him. “All right. You can lead, since we’re walking.”

“It’s not far.” Sherlock talked at him as they walked, pointing out things.

“I know,” John said nervously. “But I have...issues with crowds. And people surrounding me. You saw what...happens.”

“Would it help if I held your hand?” Sherlock was far too old for that, but if it helped.

John hesitated. "It might. Only if you're sure though. And you can't drag on me or anything."

"I'll be careful." Sherlock took his hand.

"Thank you, Sherlock," John said quietly. "Really."

"You make Mycroft happy. That doesn't happen."

"Has he always been so...withdrawn?" John asked.

Sherlock nodded. “He’s never been like other boys. Father tried to make him go out for rugby once. That...ended badly.”

"I can imagine," John said with a faint smile. "What about school? Did he have friends?"

“The other boys beat him up,” said Sherlock quietly. “He never told anyone, but I knew.” Sherlock remembered creeping down the hall late at night, peeking into Mycroft’s room, seeing his brother examining bruises in the mirror, something in his eyes that made Sherlock’s heart ache, even at his young age. “I was the one that found him when he…” Sherlock’s voice hitched a bit.

"Oh, Sherlock." John pulled him to the side, setting his hands on Sherlock's shoulders. "He never meant to hurt you."

Sherlock rubbed his nose. “I know. He said he was glad he didn’t succeed. I just...I had a feeling I should go home early. And then...then Mum and Dad said he’d died in hospital. I thought I’d failed him. Mum and Dad wouldn’t talk about him. Everybody acted like he’d never existed at all. Even took down the family photos. Mum put one back up that she cut him out of.” Sherlock was trying very hard not to cry in public. He was supposed to be here to help John, after all.

"It's fine. He's fine now," John said quietly. "He won't try again. And you didn't fail him." He tugged Sherlock in for a hesitant hug. "And it wasn't your fault," he said. "It really wasn't."

"I know. And he wasn't really dead, I didn't think. But I was so glad when I got the letter." Sherlock hugged him back then stepped back. "Sorry."

"It's all right. If you need to talk, you can come to me," John said. "I can...try to understand."

Sherlock nodded, took a deep breath, and held his hand again.

"Come on then. Bookstore and back," John said, letting Sherlock lead again. "What are you planning on getting, exactly?"

"I wanted to get some books on Jack the Ripper."

John couldn't help but laugh. "Of course you are."

“I like that kinda stuff,” grumbled Sherlock.

“No, it’s good to have interests. Think you’re gonna fight crime one day?”

“Maybe. But I don’t want to be a cop. Because some laws are stupid.”

John sighed. “Yes. They are.”

Sherlock gave him a small smile. “We’re almost there.”

“Good,” John said. “Well, let’s hurry and get your books then, yeah?”

“Yes.”

Sherlock let go of his hand as they approached the bookstore, eager.

John followed him in, sitting on a stool at the side of the door, out of the way of the quiet traffic. He smiled as Sherlock scrambled up a ladder, clearly made only for staff, to hunt through the books set high above the lower shelves, only barely noticing the ebb and flow of customers through the store.

“John?” Harry could hardly believe her eyes as she came into the store to get a book for her girlfriend.

“Ha..Harry?” John said, standing in disbelief, aware of Sherlock watching him. “What...you’re all right. You’re not…”

“Been clean about six months.” She gently pulled him aside. “You’re out?”

“Yes.” John took a deep breath, and set his hand on her wrist. “I...it was bad, but yes. I’m doing better. This is the first time I’ve left the house though.”

“Are you here with someone?”

"Sherlock," John said, pointing. "He's my....boss's brother."

“Babysitting?” asked Harry.

"Don't let him hear you say that," John said with a hesitant smile. "And it's almost the other way around. I'm not very good with groups." He held up his hand, shaking slightly with the strain. "I wasn't lying when I said this was my first trip out of the house."

“Can I take you two out for lunch?”

John hesitated, torn. "I don't..I don't think I can handle a restaurant," he admitted, face burning with shame. "But...will you come to my house?"

“Sure, Johnny. Whatever is best for you.”

John smiled at her in relief. “You’re still the best, Harry.”

“We’ve got a lot to talk about.” She blinked and looked at over at where Sherlock was standing with a bag.

“I’m ready,” said Sherlock.

“Sherlock, this is Harry, my sister.”

“Pleased to meet you,” said Sherlock politely.

“Do you mind if she comes home with us for lunch?”

“Not at all.”

“Thank you, Sherlock,” John said. “All right, if you’re ready let’s go.”

**

John walked up to the house nervously, leading Harry and Sherlock. “So this is it,” he said, opening the gate.

“Wow, this is really nice, John.”

John glanced back at her, pulling out his key to unlock the door. “It isn’t mine. It’s my...boss’s house. He’s a very good man.”

“He must take good care of you,” said Harry, knowingly.

John caught her look and licked his lips nervously. “We’ll talk about it inside,” he said. “I’m the only employee, beside the driver. And he isn’t here.”

“It’s fine, Johnny, you know that.” She touched his arm as they went inside. Sherlock took his bag and vanished upstairs.

“Here. Let’s go have some tea, yeah?” John said, leading her into the kitchen.

Harry followed him in, looking around the plush house. “John...I’ve got a girlfriend. I know about you.”

John paused, turning to face her. “You have...you too?”

Harry nodded, “Bit easier for me. Not so odd for two women to live together.”

“No..it isn’t, is it?” John licked his lips and stepped forward. “I..can I hug you?” he asked faintly, arms outstretched. “I want to hug you.”

Harry pulled him into her arms. “I’ve missed you.”

“God, Harry,” John breathed. “I thought you were dead or worse.”

“I’m sorry. It was easier to run away.”

"If I could have, I would have," John said quietly. "It's fine. I understand. But...what got you sober?"

"I met someone. She...she's good for me. Got me off the streets."

"And My...Mycroft is good for me," John said with a smile. "What's her name?"

"Clara. He must be something to have all this."

"It's a long story," John said. "But if you have time...." Harry nodded, and John smiled. "Let me cook lunch and start dinner, and I'll tell you everything."

**

Hours later, John looked up as the door opened. "That's Mycroft now, and he's early," he said, a smile flitting over his face. "You'll get to meet him," he said to Harry.

"John?" Mycroft called, hanging up his coat and heading for the kitchen.

"I'm in the kitchen," John called back. "And I've had a bit of a surprising day," he said as Mycroft came in. "I...found Harry at the bookstore." He broke out in a grin, Harry an eerie mirror image as she too, smiled.

Mycroft looked between them. "Well if I had any doubts about you being a twin..." He stepped to Harry and offered a hand. "Pleased to meet you."

"The same," Harry replied. "You're taking good care of Johnny here. Thanks. If you don't though..." She shrugged, threat clear.

"Harry..." John said warningly. He held out his hand for Mycroft to take.

Mycroft chuckled softly. “I understand,” he told Harry

John smiled at him, squeezing his hand. "Are you staying for dinner?" he asked Harry.

"No. I'm going to head home to Clara. It was nice to meet you Mycroft. I'll visit again, Johnny."

“Please do,” said Mycroft.

John led her out and after a final hug, went back to Mycroft, sliding his arms around him. "You are, so amazing," John muttered.

“What did I do?”

"You loved me. You encouraged me to leave the house, and when I did I found Harry again. You just...you're the best thing to happen to me." John licked his lips. "It's been...a very good day. After dinner, I want to make it a very good night."

Mycroft shivered. "I'd like that."

John kissed him, cupping his face gently. "Call your brother down for dinner. He hasn't eaten all day."

"All right."

John smiled as Mycroft went to find Sherlock, and began to distribute dinner. He frowned at a knock on the door just as Mycroft came back down with a grumpy Sherlock. “You expecting someone?”

"I'm not. Stay here with John, Sherlock."

He cautiously moved down the hall, blinking at the sight on his door step. "Father."

“Where is he?” Edgar asked, lip curled in a disgusted sneer, as he pushed past.

"Now wait, I didn't give you permission to enter," said Mycroft, grabbing the phone in the hall.

“As if it matters. SHERLOCK. COME HERE BOY. YOU’RE COMING HOME.”

John froze at the shout, chest tightening. “Sherlock-”

“My father.”

“Run. To the attic,” John instructed. “Quickly. Lock the door.”

"Get out of my house," growled Mycroft, hanging up almost as soon as he dialed and attempting to get in front of his father.

Edgar shoved him aside, and burst into the kitchen, glaring around. He locked eyes with John. “And who is this then? Your little whore? Or is it the other way around? You never were a real man.”

John throat constricted, but he forced himself to stand his ground. “S..Sir, I’m the houseman. You need to leave.”

“Pah. I won’t be leaving until I have my son.” `

"He doesn't want to go back," said Mycroft. "And I'm far more than you think I am."

“You’re a fairy. A disgusting queer,” Edgar said and turned, spitting in Mycroft’s face.

A heartbeat passed between them until Mycroft swept his legs, grabbing the front of his shirt and slamming him back against the counter, years of rage boiling up in him.

John stood in shock as Mycroft beat his father, before darting forward. “Mycroft! Stop! You’re only making it worse. My, PLEASE!” He tugged at his shirt, pulling him forcibly off and wrapping him in his arms, holding him back. “Stop!” John swore as Edgar looked up with a grimace.

“You bastard. You should have died,” Edgar said, spitting blood as he tried to stand straight.

"Sir, you're under arrest." Anthea appeared in the kitchen with two burly cops.

“Who the hell is this bitch?” Edgar asked, struggling as he was handcuffed. “You little shit. Fucking pair of qu-” John released Mycroft and slugged Edgar across the face before he could finish his slur, the man slumping in the officers hold.

"I did die, according to you," growled Mycroft, "No matter what that did to Sherlock."

Edgar didn’t respond, just staring with disgust as he was led out. John let out a shaky breath, sinking into a chair and putting his head between his knees. “My..Mycroft. Could you get me a glass of water?” he asked faintly, taking deep breaths in an effort not to panic.

Mycroft grabbed a glass and did as he was asked, shaking himself. "Would a cold shower help?"

"I don't know...maybe? Yes."

Mycroft handed him the glass and lead him up to their bedroom. He fumbled at removing his blood stained suit.

"Let me," John said, hands shaking. "It'll help me calm down. Who was that woman?" He asked, working on Mycroft's buttons.

"She goes by Anthea. She works with me."

"Okay. She knows?" John said, pulling his shirt off and working on his trousers.

"Yes, but I'd trust her with our lives."

"Okay," John repeated. "Shower. Please,"

Mycroft stepped in, turning it on cold, gulping air as he leaned against the wall, scrubbing at his hands.

John stepped in after him, stripped naked, gasping at the shock of cold on his body. "Fuck," he said, letting the water beat down on his head. "Sherlock. We didn't get him out of the attic."

“I’ll get him.” Mycroft kissed John and stepped back out. He pulled on a shirt and trousers, heading up.

John waited for the bathroom door to close before sinking down to sit on the ground, finally allowing the shakes to come. He breathed in and out, oddly calm, waiting for the panic to start, but it wouldn’t come. He reached up, turning the water a bit warmer and watched his hands, waiting for Mycroft to come back or his skin to wrinkle. “Whichever comes first,” he muttered.

**

“Sherlock?” Mycroft knocked on the attic door.

Sherlock immediately unlocked the door, swinging it open. “What. Happened,” he said, spitting the words. “Where’s John? He told me to run. Where’s father?”

For once in his life, Mycroft folded him into his arms. “Father was arrested. I...I hit him.”

“You what?” Sherlock said in disbelief, blinking as he was embraced. “But you never...not even when he…”

“He spat on me. I lost my temper. I’m sorry.”

“No. I’m not angry...I just...you hit him.”

“I wasn’t going to let him take you. And he called John a whore.”

Sherlock shook his head. “John is a good man. Even if he is a moron sometimes.”

“I can be, too. You can go to the kitchen, John and I will be down in a minute.”

“This means I’ll be staying with you now,” Sherlock said.

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“As you should,” Sherlock sniffed, pulling away and flouncing down to the kitchen.

Mycroft smiled and went back to the loo. “John?”

John started, shaking out of his reverie and reaching up to turn the water off. “Yeah. ‘M fine, need a towel though. I’m fine…”

“Really?” Mycroft looked at him.

"I'm not having an attack," John murmured. "I don't understand, but I'm not. I'm fine..."

Mycroft smiled. “I'm glad.” He hugged John and kissed his forehead. “Let’s have supper.”

"Yes. Let's." John smiled at him and allowed himself to be dressed and led down to the kitchen, holding Mycroft's hand the whole way.

Chapter Text

Mycroft Holmes was in no way the young man he’d once been. More than fifty years had passed since he’d met John Watson in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt. Against the odds they’d fallen in love, Mycroft had gotten out and they’d built a life for themselves. To the world John had been his extremely loyal and close servant, at least until many years after it was legal to be themselves and Mycroft was no longer worried about his enemies using John against him.

They’d had their ups and downs as all couples did. John had been committed for panic attacks after his father had tried to kill him and while he got better, he never had fully escaped the nightmares and panic attacks. They’d always had dogs, and they helped, as did the relationship with his sister, who, it had turned out, was gay as well.

So was Mycroft’s brother, Sherlock. He never did settle down with anyone, having little interest in things of the flesh, but he’d had a brilliant career and had retired near Mycroft and John, though he wouldn’t admit he liked being near them.

Now, Mycroft selected a tie from the ones laid out on their bed. He could hear their family and friends downstairs getting ready to celebrate. Civil partnership had been made legal only a few days ago and now, on Christmas, Mycroft and John were binding themselves legally for the eyes of the world. He touched a post of the bed and smiled softly, remembering how much having their bed, together, had meant to them.

“What are you thinking about?” John asked, slipping in quietly, cane tapping as he walked over to Mycroft.

“You aren’t supposed to be in here,” said Mycroft without looking. “Bad form to see the bride.”

“You are not a bride,” John chuckled. “You are my partner. And will be officially very soon.” He set his hand on Mycroft’s lower back. “Close your eyes,” he murmured.

Mycroft did so. “John and Mycroft Watson-Holmes,” he said.

“I love it,” John said, reaching up and guiding Mycroft’s head down for a kiss. He took the tie from Mycroft’s hands, gently knotting it and smoothing it down. “I love you. And I’ll see you downstairs.”

“I love you too.” Mycroft listened to him step back out of the room, followed a moment later by the sound of the latest Gladstone close on his heels.

Opening his eyes again, Mycroft put the rest of the ties away, straightened his suit, and brushed his hair, long gone white, out of his eyes.

There was a knock on the door and Sherlock stepped in without waiting for a response. “Everyone else is ready.”

Mycroft took a breath. “I’m coming.” He looked at Sherlock. “Thank you for being here.”

“I had nothing better to do,” Sherlock sniffed, waving his hand.

“Still, I am glad, and so is John. When I was young I could have never imagined this day happening.”

“I don’t think any of us could have,” Sherlock said. “From being jailed and killed to being able to do this? Disbelief is allowable, brother.”

“I once again feel the need to express my gratitude that you didn’t permit me to end my own life.”

“I still do not know why I came home early that day. But I am glad I did,” Sherlock said, shaking his head. “Come. They’re waiting.”

Mycroft nodded and followed him out and down the stairs. He smiled to see their friends and family. Harry was talking with John. Greg Lestrade was talking with some others that Mycroft had befriended from work, including Anthea. Andy was sipping a drink and watching the crowd, his own son by his side and granddaughters running around the sofa, laughing as Clara tried to tickle them. Matthew had passed away years before, just before his mum, and a picture of the two of them had pride of place on the mantle. Mycroft found himself nearly tearing up, knowing this was all their family, and they were all here for their special day.

Harry said something, and John turned, face lighting up with a brilliant smile as he saw Mycroft. He held out his hand, waiting for Mycroft as Harry moved away, the judge that Mycroft had asked taking her place as people sat down.

Mycroft leaned in and kissed him softly, still reveling that he could do so publicly, even after all this time, then took his arm and led him to their place before the judge.

“Ready to be stuck with me forever?” John whispered, looking up at him, still unable to wipe the grin from his face.

“Always,” Mycroft couldn’t help his answering grin.

“Are you two ready to begin then?” The judge asked with a smile at them. John nodded and squeezed Mycroft’s hand.

Mycroft reflexively straightened his suit coat and nodded. “Yes ma’am.”

The judge began, and John leaned into Mycroft, laying his head on his shoulder.

Mycroft put an arm around him, making his vows, tears pricking at his eyes. Fifty years of waiting for this.

John made his vows as well, swallowing hard and tightening his grip on Mycroft.

The judge pronounced it good and Mycroft folded John in his arms, kissing him deeply, clinging to him. It wasn’t a proper wedding, but it didn’t matter, it was a public declaration.

John buried his face in Mycroft’s chest after they broke apart, just hugging him tightly. “I love you,” he mumbled.

“I love you, too,” said Mycroft, quietly, then louder. “I love you. Always.”

John raised his head and smiled. “I love you, too. Forever.”

“All right, love birds,” Clara chuckled from her seat on the sofa. “Take your champagne and let’s celebrate.”

Mycroft pulled away, refusing to feel embarrassed, and took a glass of champagne, passing it to John before taking his own.

John leaned on his cane as Sherlock came over to him, starting up a conversation about the bees he was currently keeping on the roof of his building.

Harry walked up and smiled at Mycroft. “Happy?” she asked quietly.

“More than I ever thought I’d be. Your brother is the best thing to ever happen to me.”

“I’m glad.” Harry sipped her water. “You’ve done so much for him.”

“I couldn’t have done all I did without him either, Harry.”

“‘M happy you two have each other. Really, Mycroft.” Harry patted him on the back and then went to sit by Clara.

John managed to sneak away from Sherlock, coming over and slipping his hand into Mycroft's, his champagne glass long disposed of, likely still half full. Even now, John rarely drank, the shadow of his father still looming in every bottle and decanter.

“Hello, handsome. Come here often?” he asked, winking as he looked up at Mycroft.

“Well, I do live here,” chuckled Mycroft, kissing him again. “Shall we cut the cake?”

“I think so. The sooner we get them out of here, the sooner I can take you to bed.” John grinned. “And then we can talk about how active we used to be while we sit in our robes and watch the news.”

Mycroft grinned. “I bet we could still find a way to celebrate. Not dead yet.”

“Is that a promise?” John whispered, letting his eyes wander over Mycroft’s body. “You know, I almost missed seeing you in a suit. If cardigans didn't make you so cuddly, I would rebel.”

“I’ll have to wear one more often.”

“Mm, no,” John shook his head. “I saw you in a suit every day for forty years. You're retired. Keep the cardigans, love.”

“If you insist.”

“I do. C’mon. Cake,” John said, chuckling.

Mycroft held John's hand as they walked over to the cake. He took the knife to cut it and put John’s hand over his. “Together.”

John smiled. “Always. Thought we just made that promise?” he said as they cut the cake, taking a slice for themselves and going to sit with it on the sofa. “You know what happens now, right?” John asked.

“Tell me?”

“I'll just show you.” John leaned in as if to steal a kiss, and then smushed cake in Mycroft’s face with a laugh.

Mycroft gasped. He grabbed a handful and threw it at John.

“Not on the sofa!” John laughed, shoving more at him.

Mycroft laughed. “I give, I give.”

“Good.” John leaned in, enjoying the vanilla tinged kiss he got as a reward.

Mycroft could hear the laughter around them. “Come on,” he told John.

“Where are we going?” John asked, a twinkle in his eye.

“I’ve got something for you.” He tugged John to his feet and grabbed a towel to wipe John’s face.

John smiled and let Mycroft tug him out of the room. “What is it?”

“I have a present for you. Well, two.” He handed him a box.

“I thought we weren't going to get each other anything?” John said, sitting down to open it. “Oh, Mycroft! This is lovely…” he pulled out the pocket watch, and slipped it into his pocket. “What's this?” He held up the small velvet bag with a smile.

“Open it.”

John pulled the strings loose, tipping the contents onto his palm. “I..a ring?” He smiled, biting his lip. “Mycroft it's...really? A wedding ring?”

“You have always held my heart, John.”

“Do you have one for yourself though?” John asked softly.

“I took the liberty. I know you don’t like crowds, John.”

“No, I don't. What does that have to do with the rings?”

“I just didn’t think you’d want to go shopping.” He took the matching ring out of his pocket
and placed it in John’s hand.

“Oh.” John smiled and slid it onto his finger. “Now do me.”

Mycroft took the ring and slid it onto John’s finger, admiring the way the gold looked on his worn, old hands.

John twined their fingers together. “Did you ever think we’d be able to do this?” he asked quietly.

“Honestly? No.”

“I'm so happy. And I always wondered if we would be able to.” John stood, stepping into Mycroft’s arms. “I love you.”

Mycroft held him. “I love you, from the moment we met, I think.”

“You know, I remember your eyes most,” John said. “They were so sad, but so, so beautiful.”

Mycroft smiled at him. “You brought light to my life.”

“Kiss me. And then we can go kick the rest of them out of our house, so I can get you all to myself.”

“Yes, sir,” said Mycroft, kissing him gently.

John smiled as he pulled back. “You know...one day, we could be husbands. Not just partners.”

“If and when that happens I will be more than happy to upgrade to that. But you are always mine.”

“I've always been yours,” John corrected. “C’mon. Before Sherlock blows up our home.”

Their guests soon made their way out. Mycroft took John’s hand and led him up to their room. “You’re gorgeous,” he said softly, helping him to a seat and setting the cane aside.

John smiled at him. “You’ve always been the beautiful one. But I think I have my merits,” he chuckled.

“Beautiful eyes, beautiful hair. Least you still have yours.”

“You still have yours. It's just gone white. And your eyes are still there. They just hide behind the reading glasses you always ‘lose’,” John chastised, reaching out and cupping Mycroft’s cheek. “Face it, love. We’re old.”

“At least I got to grow old with you.” Mycroft kissed him and gently pressed him back on the bed.

“It's honestly all I ever wanted once I found you.” John said, watching him.

“You, me, and our bed. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Mycroft curled up on his side and held John, kissing his cheek, smiling softly, hands entwined, looking at their rings.

“I love them,” John said. “My?”

“Yes?”

“Do you have any regrets?”

“About us? Or in general?”

“Either or.”

“I sometimes wish I hadn't tried to end my life. But because of that I met you.”

John nodded and kissed him. “I'm very glad you did meet me. I don't think I could have done what I did without meeting you. Learned what I have, found this much happiness.”

“You're an incredible man and I'm very proud of you.”

“You've done so much, too,” John said. “More than for us, for England.”

Because I've had you here by my side.” Mycroft ran his hand along John’s chest. “Having you to come home to made all the difference.”

“Did it?” John smiled, and propped himself up, kissing Mycroft. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Old, young, and all inbetween. And we never have to hide again, or worry that if one gets sick the other can’t visit. My estate won't be contested if I go first. We can be everything. Publically.”

“That reminds me of something,” John said quietly. “I read it somewhere. Something like…’welcome to the beginning of the end of troubling times.’” He shrugged. “I know whatever it was goes on to say that it doesn't always last, but...I think it's perfect, My. It's us.”
John smiled and kissed Mycroft again. “Now, we might not be young anymore, but the night is. So let's celebrate,” he chuckled, laying back down next to Mycroft and drawing him close.