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Undoing Fate

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“Oh, is that your name?” Jim glanced from Mycroft over to the two men. “He’s never actually told me.”

Mycroft pressed his fingertips to his forehead, but didn’t say anything. There was nothing he could say that Sherlock would believe, but if he kept silent, Sherlock would hopefully come up with some kind of explanation on his own.

“What are you talking about?” John asked Jim, looking perplexed. “You’ve known Mycroft longer than I have.”

“This man isn’t Mycroft,” Sherlock said, looking slightly unsettled. His eyes scanned Mycroft’s face and body, occasionally stopping to focus on a particular area for a moment before continuing onward.

John laughed. “What are you talking about?” he asked, gesturing at Mycroft. “It’s obviously--”

“He isn’t Mycroft!” Sherlock said sharply, now visibly disturbed.

“Of course he is.” John glanced at Mycroft. “Right?”

Mycroft only sighed. He glared at Jim, who held up his hands innocently in response.

“Right?” John repeated, starting to look mildly confused himself.

“It’s not Mycroft,” Sherlock repeated, taking a few steps forward. He pointed down at Mycroft’s stomach. “He’s too thin. We saw Mycroft only last month, and there is no way my brother could have lost that much weight in such a short period of time.”

John shrugged. “It’s not impossible.”

Sherlock waved a hand irritably. “That’s not the only thing that’s wrong with him.” He pointed a finger at Mycroft’s cheek. “The lines on his face are different.”

John squinted at Mycroft’s face. “Different how?”

“They’re...” Sherlock made a frustrated noise. “Some of them are deeper. Others aren’t deep enough.”

“And from that you can definitively conclude this isn’t Mycroft?” John replied, skepticism clear in his tone.

“Yes. Look, I’ll prove it,” Sherlock said. He turned back to Mycroft. “Take off your jacket.”

“Sherlock--” John began, looking somewhat uncomfortable.

“It’s all right, John,” Mycroft replied, getting to his feet.

Sherlock took a step back, visibly wary. “How do you know his name?”

Mycroft didn’t reply. He removed his jacket and silently handed it to Sherlock, then sat back down.

Jim clucked his tongue. “Why don’t you ever listen to me when I want you to take your clothes off?”

Mycroft rolled his eyes. Sherlock gave Jim a disgusted look, then took hold of Mycroft’s arm, pushing up the sleeve.

“What are you doing?” John asked.

“Mycroft has a mark on his left arm, from--” Sherlock stopped, staring at the thick, wide scar running up the side of Mycroft’s arm. He poked at the scar several times, as though not entirely believing it was real, then swallowed. “From an injury he received rescuing me from a tree when I was five.”

“Which he has,” John said, sounding like he was starting to lose his patience. “Because he’s Mycroft.”

Sherlock dropped Mycroft’s arm, then shoved the jacket back into his arms. Mycroft pulled his sleeve back down, setting the jacket down in his lap.

Sherlock pulled out his mobile and held it to his ear.

“What are you doing?” John asked.

“I’m calling--” Sherlock cut off, then smiled broadly, speaking into the phone. “Mycroft! It’s great to hear your voice. Here, say something to John.” He held up the phone to John’s ear.

“Mycroft?” John asked, sounding utterly bewildered. There was a short silence, broken only by the muffled sound of the other Mycroft’s voice coming from the phone. John blinked in surprise. “Wait, that’s really--!”

Sherlock pulled the phone back and pressed it against his ear. “That’s all I needed... No, everything is fine... It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing. Bye!” He pressed a button, then shoved the phone back in his pocket.

Mycroft pinched the bridge of his nose, imagining what his reaction would have been if he had received a call like that from Sherlock.

Sure enough, Sherlock’s phone rang a few seconds later.

Sherlock put a hand in his pocket and silenced it without looking. He gave Mycroft a smug smile. “Now that we’ve established that you aren’t Mycroft, I think it’s time you told us who you really are.”

“I don’t see how that follows,” Mycroft replied mildly.

Sherlock’s face lost some of its smugness. “What do you mean? I’ve proven you aren’t Mycroft.”

“I never claimed that I was,” Mycroft replied. “Jim has told me I bear a strong resemblance to your brother, but that’s hardly a crime, is it? It certainly doesn’t put me under any obligation to tell you anything about myself.”

Sherlock stood up straight, face filling with outrage. “But you-- but he--!”

Jim snickered. “You’re never going to get anything out of him that way. I’ve known him for years, and he’s never willingly told me anything.”

Sherlock’s head snapped in his direction. “What do you mean you’ve known him for--” Sherlock cut off, eyes going wide in shock. He stared ahead of him, unseeing, lost in his own mind. “...committed by a man who isn’t Mycroft, but looks just like Mycroft,” he muttered, tone full of utter disbelief.

“Sherlock?” John asked, waving a hand in front of his face.

Sherlock shoved his hand away, turning to Jim. “No. You were making it up. You had to be.”

“I told you,” Jim complained. “I told you exactly who did it and you didn’t believe me.”

“I didn’t believe you because your explanation was ridiculous,” Sherlock replied, pacing back and forth. “It still is ridiculous. Why did you commit that first theft? Why?

“If you intend to accuse me of having committed a crime, I do hope you have evidence to support your accusation,” Mycroft replied.

Jim laughed. “Oh, no. He never has actual evidence when he comes here.”

Sherlock gritted his teeth, seething at the both of them. “You won’t get away with this. Either of you. I’ll find something--”

“Even if you do find something, the statute of limitations on that simple act of vandalism has long since passed,” Mycroft replied.

Sherlock turned away, looking ready to break something.

John cleared his throat. “Maybe we should go,” he said. “These two are obviously busy with something, and--”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Sherlock said, crossing his arms. “At least tell me who you are.”

“No,” Mycroft replied, keeping a smirk from his face only with extreme effort. He knew he was enjoying himself more than he really should be, but he couldn’t entirely help it. He’d never imagined he would actually be able to speak to Sherlock again, let alone have the opportunity to tease him with an unsolvable puzzle. It almost made the inevitable problems their interaction would cause seem worth it.

Sherlock fumed silently for a moment, then walked right over to Mycroft and yanked a hair from his head.

Mycroft winced, rubbing his head. He didn’t ask why Sherlock had done it; the answer was obvious to him.

It wasn’t so obvious to John, however. “Sherlock! What are you doing?”

Sherlock took a piece of paper from Jim’s desk and wrapped the hair in it, marking the paper with an ‘X’. He then plucked out one of his own hairs and wrapped it in another piece of paper, marking that one with an ‘S’. He handed both of the folded pieces of paper to John. “Go to Barts and ask Molly to compare these against Mycroft’s DNA. Tell her I need it done as soon as possible.”

“How am I supposed to get Mycroft’s DNA?” John asked.

“I have a sample in my room. It’s labeled.”

“Why do you have a sample of Mycroft’s--”

“Just do it, John.”

John glanced from Sherlock to Mycroft, then to Jim. “Will the three of you be all right while I’m gone?”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll have tons of fun!” Jim replied cheerfully.

John didn’t seem reassured, but he nodded anyway. “Right. I’ll just be going, then.” He left the room, closing the door behind him.

“I really don’t know what you hope to accomplish with this,” Mycroft said.

“I intend to find out who you are,” Sherlock replied, sitting down across from the two men.

Mycroft turned to Jim. “Are you certain this is how you wish to spend the one day out of the year you get to see me?”

Jim tilted his head. “You don’t seriously still intend on leaving tomorrow morning, do you?”

Sherlock glared from Jim to Mycroft. “What do you mean, ‘leave’? You can’t leave before I know who you are.”

“Oh, but I can,” Mycroft replied, giving him a friendly smile.

Sherlock opened his mouth to protest, but Jim spoke first. “Threaten to go on a crime spree.”

Mycroft hid his face in his hands.

Sherlock turned toward Jim. “What?”

“Say you’ll go on a crime spree with me if he leaves,” Jim elaborated.

Sherlock turned up his nose. “I’m not going on a crime spree with you,” he declared.

Jim rolled his eyes. “Then threaten to go on a crime spree of your own. It doesn’t really matter.”

“Why would he care if I--” Sherlock eyed Mycroft’s face.

Mycroft quickly dropped his hands, giving Sherlock his most indifferent look. However, it was far too late.

“You would care if I went on a crime spree, wouldn’t you?” Sherlock said. “Interesting.” He smirked at Mycroft. “Fine. Tell me who you are, or I’ll turn to a life of crime.”

“No,” Mycroft replied. He held up a hand to stop Sherlock from interrupting. “I won’t tell you who I am. However, I will stay longer than I had initially planned.”

“How much longer?” Jim asked, clapping his hands together with glee.

“Indefinitely,” Mycroft replied. “It looks like I will be imposing on your hospitality somewhat longer than expected.”

“He’s staying with you?” Sherlock asked, an expression of horror covering his face.

“He lives with me,” Jim replied, looking very smug indeed.

Mycroft nearly spoke up to say that he didn’t live with Jim, but he quickly realized that for all intents and purposes, he did live with the man. All of his worldly belongings were currently in his room in Jim’s flat. He also had no particular intention of arranging for somewhere else to live now that his stay had been extended; he wasn’t one for putting in extra effort without a good reason.

Sherlock’s face took on a look of mild disgust. “Please tell me you two aren’t... ugh...” He shuddered.

“Not yet,” Jim replied, giving Mycroft a flirtatious smile.

Mycroft didn’t bother to correct him. “Did you have anything planned for the rest of the day?” he asked instead.

“Well,” Jim began, “I was planning to take you to the planetarium.”

“The planetarium you broke into a month ago?” Sherlock interrupted.

“Oh, don’t be silly, Sherlock,” Jim replied. “Why would I need to break into the planetarium when I’m allowed in whenever I like?”

“To commit a theft and leave me an impossible puzzle to solve,” Sherlock replied, glaring at him.

“Please. You always think I’m responsible for every difficulty that comes your way.” Jim paused. “And really, that puzzle was only ‘impossible to solve’ for someone completely lacking a basic knowledge of the solar system.”

Sherlock’s face twitched. “Useless information.”

In the end, Jim did take Mycroft to the planetarium. Sherlock followed them there, hovering around while Jim showed Mycroft the children’s exhibit he’d been a part of creating. Jim’s face was plastered all over the room, and several areas of the exhibit featured videos of Jim explaining the concepts in simple, entertaining terms.

Jim also apparently had a hand in creating the interactive puzzles scattered about the room. “Science is boring if you don’t get to do anything.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and made irritated noises every time someone asked Jim for a photo or an autograph.

Afterwards, Jim brought him to the part of the building where the theft had occurred a month earlier, a section of the planetarium dedicated to historical astronomical artifacts. “I had nothing to do with it, of course. But from what I heard, the theft occurred just after midnight. All of the pieces along that wall were taken.” Jim gestured toward the north wall.

“I see they’ve been returned,” Mycroft replied.

“Recovered,” Sherlock corrected. “I recovered them from hidden locations all over London.”

“Oh?” Mycroft replied. He smiled, knowing that Sherlock would never be able to resist an opportunity to show off, no matter who the audience happened to be.

Indeed, Sherlock immediately began an explanation of the message that had been left at the crime scene, and how the locations of the missing items had each related to one of the planets of the solar system. “The ninth one was almost impossible to find. The location was matched with an obscure celestial body instead of a real planet.”

“For the last time: Pluto isn’t obscure,” Jim replied. “Children know about Pluto.”

“It isn’t on the official list of planets,” Sherlock retorted.

Sherlock followed them to dinner after the planetarium, forcing Jim to ask the restaurant for a third chair to be added to their table.

“Are you going to invite yourself along on all of our dates?” Jim asked him. “Because while I might be up for that sort of thing, I don’t think he is.”

“This isn’t a date,” Sherlock answered, scowling at him.

“Well, obviously, it isn’t one now,” Jim said.

Sherlock and Jim spent most of dinner bickering, while Mycroft enjoyed his food quietly. Toward the end of the meal, Sherlock’s phone vibrated in his pocket.

“You’ll have to go outside to answer that,” Jim said with a smirk.

“I don’t have to do anything,” Sherlock replied, putting the phone to his ear. “John.” He paused, listening. “I see. Interesting. I’ll see you back at the flat.” He hung up, putting the phone back in his pocket, then looked at Mycroft intently. “Your DNA is a perfect match for Mycroft’s, and both of yours are a familial match for mine.”

“Is that so?” Mycroft asked, taking a sip of wine.

“Yes,” Sherlock replied. “But then, you already knew that.”

“What makes you so certain of that?”

“You committed those thefts all those years ago just to leave me a message,” Sherlock replied. “Obviously, you already knew I was your brother, and that’s why you were trying to communicate with me. Nothing else makes sense.”

“I haven’t admitted to committing any thefts,” Mycroft pointed out, hoping to sidetrack him.

But Sherlock didn’t take the bait. “Does Mycroft know about you? Why weren’t you raised with us?”

Mycroft sighed. He’d spent a large amount of the day trying to come up with something plausible to tell Sherlock -- or better yet, to arrange for Sherlock to deduce on his own -- but he’d been unable to come up with anything that could survive the inevitable scrutiny of his other self. “As far as I know, your brother is unaware of my existence. And I would prefer not to talk about my past.”

“You can’t just refuse to tell me anything,” Sherlock said sharply. “What’s your name? Where did you grow up? It can’t have been very far from us, and you clearly went to a similar school... You were educated to at least the same level as Mycroft, and you did it within the same period, but somehow never encountered him in all that time.”

“I kept a low profile.”

“Why didn’t you contact me directly?” Sherlock asked. He swallowed. “Was the message you left a test of some kind, a test that I had to pass before I could see you?”

“I saw no reason to interfere in your life,” Mycroft replied, hoping to avoid the issue of the message he’d left entirely. “Even if you’d wanted to see me, I wouldn’t have been able to stay for long.”

“What do you mean ‘if I’d wanted to see you’? Obviously, I’d have wanted to see you.”

“Oh? How often do you bother to see the brother you grew up with?” Mycroft asked, unable to completely keep the bitterness he felt from bleeding into his tone. “Willingly, on your own terms?”

“That’s completely different,” Sherlock replied, voice heated. “Mycroft is boring. Mycroft has never committed a crime in his life, and he would never vandalize a museum just to leave me a message.”

Jim burst out laughing.

“What? What’s so funny?” Sherlock demanded, face bearing the hurt, paranoid look it always did when he feared someone was having a laugh at his expense.

“Nothing,” Jim replied, pressing a napkin to his mouth. He snickered a few more times before mostly managing to hold his mouth still. “Really, it’s nothing.”

Sherlock glared at him, then turned back to Mycroft. “You gave me an escape from the mind-numbing boredom of everything Mycroft tried to force on me.”

Mycroft winced. “I’m sure he had only your best interests at heart.”

“More like his best interests,” Sherlock muttered.

“Yes. Well,” Mycroft glanced at his ‘watch’. “It’s getting rather late. Perhaps we should continue this another time.”

Sherlock sat up straight. “Where do you intend to go?”

“Home,” Mycroft replied, ignoring the grin the word elicited from Jim. “Today has been very tiring.”

“Where exactly do the two of you live?” Sherlock asked.

“Don’t answer that,” Jim said quickly. “If you tell him where we live, he’ll never leave us alone.”

Mycroft shrugged at Sherlock.

Sherlock glared at the both of them. “Fine. If you won’t tell me where you live, at least give me your phone number.”

“I’m afraid I don’t have a phone,” Mycroft replied.

“What do you mean you don’t have a--” Sherlock’s eyes roamed over Mycroft’s body, clearly searching for a phone he could yank from a pocket to disprove Mycroft’s statement. There was, of course, nothing to find.

“I could always get you one,” Jim said helpfully, gently stroking Mycroft’s hand on top of the table. “Now that you’ll be staying longer.”

Sherlock made a face. “Stop flirting with my brother. It’s disgusting.”

“I don’t see how you have the right to complain. It’s only because of me that you even got to meet him,” Jim said. “You should be a little more grateful.”

Sherlock ignored him. “When will I see you again?”

“I don’t know,” Mycroft replied, internally marveling at having Sherlock desperate to see him for once in their adult lives. “Don’t you have cases to attend to?”

“Nothing currently,” Sherlock replied. “What about tomorrow?”

“What about it?”

“Can I see you tomorrow?” Sherlock said, through gritted teeth.

“No,” Jim replied, before Mycroft could say anything.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” Sherlock asked. “I was asking him, not you.”

“I was supposed to spend all of today with him, before you got in the way,” Jim answered. “I’m still owed a full day with him.”

“Fine,” Sherlock replied. “You can have him tomorrow, but I get him the day after that. A full day without you.”

“Fine by me,” Jim agreed.

Mycroft considered speaking up on his own behalf, but found that he didn’t have much of a stake in the matter one way or the other. It wasn’t as though he had anything else to do with himself, and it was actually somewhat flattering to watch the two fighting over who would get to spend time with him.

For the next few minutes, Sherlock and Jim fought tooth and nail over who would get to see Mycroft and when over the next two weeks. Sherlock unsuccessfully tried to claim the time Mycroft would spend sleeping in Jim’s flat as time spent with Jim to get more days in his favor. Jim spent most of the time trying to fit his time with Mycroft around his work and appearance schedule, as well as get Mycroft to himself on New Year’s Eve.

In the end, the two worked out an extremely elaborate schedule involving Mycroft spending multiple half-days with each of them, attending John’s New Year’s Eve party with Jim, and sleeping at 221b instead of Jim’s flat for five of the next fourteen days.

“Shouldn’t you ask John’s opinion before agreeing to let me sleep at your flat for several days?” Mycroft asked, more to remind Sherlock of his manners than out of any hope of it actually occurring.

“John won’t mind,” Sherlock replied, waving a hand dismissively.

And with that, dinner came to an end. After a certain amount of effort to ensure Sherlock wasn’t following them, Jim brought Mycroft home to the flat. Jim stretched his arms, then collapsed on the sofa.

Mycroft stood nearby, arms crossed.

Jim rolled his eyes. “Oh, please tell me you aren’t still annoyed that I arranged for Sherlock to see you.”

“It was very unwise,” Mycroft replied. “Now that Sherlock knows, his brother is certain to learn of it as well.”

“So, what?” Jim asked. “What exactly do you think he’ll do?”

Mycroft had no idea. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what his own mindset would be upon learning he had an ‘identical twin’ he’d never known about, especially one who was showing interest in Sherlock. “A man who looks just like him is an obvious security threat.”

Jim laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. If he hauls you away to a secret prison somewhere, I’ll just break you out again.” He paused, looking thoughtful. “You know, Sherlock would probably even help me do it.”

Mycroft rubbed his face. “Yes. Well, hopefully it won’t come to that.”

~*~*~*~*~

The next ten days were some of the busiest of Mycroft’s life, international crises and time travel preparations included.

Jim had given him a key to the flat, which Mycroft had accepted entirely for practicality’s sake. When Sherlock had found out, he’d forced a key to 221b on Mycroft as well. Mycroft had barely been able to hold back his laughter at Sherlock’s eagerness to allow him access to his flat, given the measures Sherlock taken to keep him out during the original timeline.

Sherlock still hadn’t figured out anything about him, despite asking him endless questions about his past. Mycroft always turned the questions back on him, knowing that if he could get Sherlock talking about a previous case he’d worked on, he would be distracted for some time.

Mycroft was coming to enjoy listening to Sherlock prattle on about the deductions he’d made, even though he himself could see them coming well before Sherlock actually got to them. He couldn’t help but appreciate Sherlock’s excitement, however. He was so alive when he spoke about his work.

John was still bewildered by his existence, but was as convinced of the brother story as Sherlock was, once he truly accepted that Mycroft was not the Mycroft he knew. He still accidentally referred to Mycroft by name every time Mycroft was with Sherlock, a problem not aided by Mycroft’s continued refusal to give another name for him to use.

While Jim focused on taking Mycroft on ‘dates’, Sherlock generally brought him to crime scenes. Their first day together, it was scenes of previous crimes he’d already solved, but on the second day, Sherlock received an actual case and dragged Mycroft right along with him and John when they went to solve it.

Lestrade had been confused at first, and even after Sherlock’s explanation had seemed to continue believing that Mycroft was the Mycroft Holmes who periodically demanded information about Sherlock. He hadn’t protested his presence at the crime scene, however.

Jim tried to kiss Mycroft at the New Year’s Eve party, but was only able to get a peck on the cheek.

It was the end of the first week of January when Mycroft’s other self finally made his move. Given how much time Mycroft was spending with Sherlock -- including several nights spent at his flat -- Mycroft was surprised it took even that long.

Mycroft was riding to the scene of Sherlock’s most recent case when the cab he was in unexpectedly went off course. He quickly realized that he was being taken in the direction of a warehouse he was quite familiar with from his previous life. He could have said something or attempted to stop the cab, but he didn’t bother. Putting off the inevitable encounter with his other self would only make the man more paranoid and suspicious than he undoubtedly was already.

He walked into the warehouse immediately upon arrival, without any prompting from anyone. There was a table with two chairs in the middle of the room; Mycroft chose the chair with a view of the door.

His other self didn’t force him to wait long, striding into the room less than a minute later. He set a stack of files down on the table, then sat down across from Mycroft and smiled.

Mycroft cringed mentally at how silly he looked with that smile on his face. He didn’t smile back.

“I have to admit, you had me quite puzzled at first.”

Mycroft raised an eyebrow at him. “Only ‘at first’?”

Other Mycroft raised an eyebrow right back at him. “Yes. I took the time to have you thoroughly investigated.” He spread the files over the table. “James Moriarty appears to be your only connection in the entire world prior to ten days ago. You’ve only ever been seen with him. You appear to have lived with him for several years.” He paused, apparently waiting for Mycroft to say something.

Mycroft remained quiet. He wanted to see where this was leading.

“He even bought the fine clothes you’re currently wearing, as well as your shoes and mobile phone. In fact, I think we can reasonably say that he purchased everything currently on your person...” A smug smile slowly covered Other Mycroft’s face. “...everything but for that watch of yours, of course. A very unusual piece, that.”

Mycroft grimaced, knowing he’d been caught. “Oh?”

“Yes. It doesn’t match any watch made by any manufacturer in the entire world,” Other Mycroft replied. “It does, however...” Other Mycroft opened one of the files, holding up a schematic that looked identical to the ‘watch’ on Mycroft’s arm. “...look very much like this device.”

Mycroft looked the paper over for far longer than he strictly needed to. “I suppose it does,” he replied.

Other Mycroft set the paper back in the file, then held out his hand. “You understand that I’ll need to be taking that from you, I hope.”

“Shouldn’t you have done that earlier?” Mycroft asked. “I could easily use it to escape right now.”

Other Mycroft held up his hands. “If you use it to go forward, I will simply have this place guarded until you appear again. If you use it to go backward, you will disappear off into another universe and cease to be my problem any longer.”

“And if I do as you ask?”

Other Mycroft pushed another file toward him. “Then you will have the privilege of being officially recognized as a member of our family under your new identity.”

Mycroft opened the file to find various identity documents, including a birth certificate and ‘life history’ explaining the tragic circumstances of his separation from his family.

“You will receive enough money each month to remain comfortable,” Other Mycroft added. “You will also have the opportunity to work for me, should that interest you.”

Mycroft couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of working for himself. At least he could be assured his boss wouldn’t be a complete idiot, for once in his career. He closed the file and tapped his fingers against the edge, considering his prospects.

The universe he was in seemed stable. Jim and Sherlock were both alive and well. Keeping the device was always desirable, but not if he had to escape to another universe to do it. He couldn’t entirely bear the thought of suddenly abandoning either Jim or Sherlock without explanation at this point.

He took the ‘watch’ off of his wrist and held it out to his other self.

Other Mycroft took it and placed it in one of the inner pockets of his jacket. He gathered up all but the file he’d given Mycroft, resting a hand on top of the stack. He took a deep breath. “There’s just one more thing before I let you go...”

“Yes?”

Other Mycroft swallowed. “Why?”

Mycroft didn’t need to ask what he was referring to. “He died.”

Other Mycroft pursed his lips, nodding like he’d already expected that answer. “How?”

“Does it matter?” Mycroft replied. “It won’t happen now.”

“I suppose not.” Other Mycroft frowned. “But I can’t help but wonder why you had to go back so far into the past. Was that simply the deal you made with James Moriarty? To make his counterpart’s childhood easier in exchange for the device?”

“Yes,” Mycroft replied, having no desire to explain Jim’s relationship to Sherlock’s death. “However, after I made the change, there were unforeseen consequences forcing me to intervene in Sherlock’s early life as well.”

“The smallest of actions can cause such large ripples,” Other Mycroft replied. He stood, gathering the stack of files in his arms. “I think we can be agreed that Sherlock is never to learn the truth of this?”

“Naturally,” Mycroft replied.

Other Mycroft walked over to the doorway. “You’re free to go,” he said. “Your driver will take you wherever you wish to go, but I would suggest you secure that file before going to Sherlock.” And with that, he made his exit.

Mycroft waited a moment, then made his way back outside to the cab.

~*~*~*~*~

Mycroft headed back to the flat to drop off the file, reading over his manufactured history in the cab on the way over. It was thorough but boring, details laid out in a way that would satisfy all but the most intense scrutiny.

Afterwards, he joined Sherlock at the crime scene. Sherlock promptly deduced from his shoes that he’d been in a warehouse with the other Mycroft and demanded details about what had happened.

Mycroft declined to give them, to Sherlock’s irritation.

He did tell Jim the whole thing later that evening, however.

Over the next few days, Mycroft continued to go along with the schedule Sherlock and Jim had set up for him, but he ended up taking the job his other self had offered in the hope of preventing the two of them from completely monopolizing his time in the future.

This only resulted in Sherlock tracking him down at his office on his first day of work.

“Sherrinford?” Sherlock scoffed. “Your name is ‘Sherrinford’?”

“That’s what it says on my birth certificate,” Mycroft replied.

“That’s not an answer!” Sherlock replied. “And that birth certificate didn’t exist two weeks ago. I checked.”

“There must have been some sort of oversight,” Mycroft said.

“You mean, the same sort of oversight that would allow you to live with our uncle for eighteen years without anyone knowing about it?” Sherlock asked. “Including his staff?”

“Our dear uncle knew about it,” Mycroft replied. “As did Mummy.”

“Pity neither of them are around to confirm this,” Sherlock said.

“Indeed,” Mycroft replied. “It’s quite fortunate that our uncle kept such thorough records.”

“I’ll find out the truth,” Sherlock sputtered. “You and Mycroft can’t keep it from me forever.”

“I really don’t know what you mean.”

Sherlock made a loud, frustrated sound, then turned around and stormed out the door.

For a short while, Mycroft wondered if he’d pushed Sherlock a bit too far, if he would once again be relegated to the position of the disliked brother Sherlock never visited. But he needn’t have worried. Sherlock was back the next day with more questions, determined to solve the mystery of his impossible brother.

Sherlock’s interest didn’t wane in the slightest over the next few months. Whenever he was between cases, he spent the majority of his time pestering Mycroft.

Mycroft took to asking for his assistance with various work-related matters that he was too lazy to attend to himself. He wasn’t terribly surprised when Sherlock refused, initially; Sherlock had always been reluctant to even take on the most interesting cases he’d provided for him. Most of what he was currently asking for help with wasn’t even all that interesting.

However, when Sherlock learned that Jim eagerly helped him with any number of his cases, his attitude changed completely. The two became fiercely competitive, each intent on being the one to solve the problem first.

John adapted to Mycroft’s presence in Sherlock’s life fairly quickly once he had an official name to call him by. He accepted the story about baby ‘Sherrinford’ being sent to live with an uncle far more readily than Sherlock, and he often tried to dissuade Sherlock from further investigating the ‘conspiracy’.

Mycroft didn’t spend much time around his other self. They worked in the same building, but their offices were on different floors. Other Mycroft typically sent one of his assistants to talk to Mycroft about work-related matters; they only spoke in person about things family-related. There was a sadness in his other self’s face that grew every time Mycroft mentioned Sherlock coming to visit him.

Knowing exactly how his other self must feel, Mycroft tried to encourage Sherlock to at least talk to him when he came to the building. Sherlock nearly always refused.

It was only when Sherlock became convinced, through a bit nudging from Mycroft, that Other Mycroft had spent their childhood protecting him from involvement in the family ‘conspiracy’ that Sherlock started showing hints of interest in Other Mycroft. It helped that Mycroft had been able to lead Sherlock to very real evidence that their mother had been ready to send Sherlock away at the tender age of seven after he’d revealed their father’s affair, a plan halted only by young Mycroft’s frantic intervention.

Sherlock didn’t completely reverse his opinion about Other Mycroft, but he was notably less hostile to him from then on.

Jim continued to take Mycroft on ‘dates’ several times a week. Mycroft went along without objection. He refused to call what they were doing ‘dating’ himself, but he didn’t bother to correct other people when they called it that. He also didn’t bother to correct Jim’s coworkers when they referred to him as Jim’s ‘boyfriend’; he didn’t feel like having to explain why he continually allowed Jim to hold his hand wherever they went, particularly now that he no longer had an explanation that he found truly satisfying himself.

It was only when Jim went on a business trip to America for two weeks that he realized how much he’d come to enjoy the time they spent together, and how much he missed it when he couldn’t have it. He missed their dinners. He missed having Jim sit too close to him on the sofa when he read before bed. He missed Jim’s overly long hugs before they left for work each day.

He even missed the increasingly more implausible excuses Jim came up with for interrupting his shower each morning.

So, when Jim arrived home that morning at the end of his trip and hugged Mycroft harder than he had in all the years they’d known each other, Mycroft couldn’t help but return the hug with the same ferocity. He squeezed Jim against his chest, resting his cheek against the top of Jim’s head.

They stayed that way for a few minutes before Jim pulled back, face slightly flushed. He grabbed hold of Mycroft’s collar, looking up at him with large, dark pupils. When Mycroft didn’t push him away, he pressed their lips together, a pleased sigh escaping from his mouth as he did so.

Mycroft returned the kiss, running a hand over Jim’s cheek and twining his fingers in Jim’s hair. Jim moaned into his mouth, then set about turning the relatively chaste kiss into a lewd tangle of tongues.

It was far sloppier than Mycroft’s usual taste, but the enthusiasm more than made up for the lack of subtlety.

After a long moment, they separated, both breathing heavily.

Jim wiped his reddened mouth. “Wow,” he said softly. He blinked a few times, then grinned at Mycroft. “I knew you would give in if I waited long enough.”

Mycroft cleared his throat. “I have to get to work.”

“What? No,” Jim groaned. “You can’t go to work now.”

“If I don’t leave now, I’ll be late,” Mycroft said firmly. “And I do hate to be late.”

Jim looked ready to protest for a moment, but he didn’t. He put a finger to his mouth, a mischievous smile covering his face. “All right,” he replied. “I’ll be right here when you get back.”

It was obvious Jim was up to something. Mycroft couldn’t even begin to imagine what the flat would look like when he would return that evening, or what sort of strange seduction plan Jim would have undoubtedly come up with in the meantime.

He found himself looking forward to it.