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Quid Pro Quo

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Sherlock swims – a sea of blurry white ripples and attenuated white noise, white gloved hands floating above him, around him, tubes like tangled plastic weed. Mycroft appears like a dream, fuzzy at the edges, but faraway, out of his reach. He sinks to the abyssal, and everything is black.

 Sherlock surfaces on some stratum of semi-consciousness, and Mycroft isn't a dream anymore, though still painfully out of reach. He looks lost in thought, eyes gleaming like sea-glass. Sherlock knows that look, rare as it is. Mycroft is seldom so angry, but he seems the verge of subsonic combustion, conflagrating the whole world, knuckles white on the umbrella's curved handle, grinding the ferrule into the floor so hard that Sherlock fancies he can feel it starting to give away.

"Mycroft", he says, tongue thick and dry. Mycroft doesn't start, starting being far too plebeian, of course, but he straightens where he stands beside the window, bathed in pale light like some sort of fierce angelic vision.

How absurd.

Mycroft ceases the abuse of his beloved umbrella – turns to Sherlock, eyes soft. More absurdity ? Sherlock feels far too weak to feel this appalled. "What do you want?"

He quirks his head in that way of his, smiles in that way of his, and strolls towards him, lightly swinging his brolly in that way of his that makes Sherlock want to punch him or kiss him or both simultaneously. Infuriating. He rounds the bed. Sherlock follows him with his eyes.

"Just here to see if you were still alive." Mycroft cups his cheek, hand warm and open, and Sherlock can't but reach up and curl his fingers around his brother's.

"Why? Come to finish me off?"

Mycroft graces him with a sardonic smile, negates it with a caress. "If that were the case, Sherlock, you'd be long dead."

"Mmm, supercilious as ever." Sherlock lifts the warmth off his face and tugs until Mycroft's hip is pressed into the mattress, twining fingers together on his chest. He's considering pulling Mycroft into bed, although shifting might hurt and the bed is far too small, when Mycroft speaks –

"I've informed our parents, of course."

And Sherlock is already scowling on the second word, trying to free his hand of Mycroft. Abhorrent Mycroft. Always running off to tell Mummy and Daddy. Always gripping tight while Sherlock's trying to shake him off.

"Oh, my baby brother, don't be that way." Mycroft is every bit patronising, much to Sherlock's intense displeasure. "It's only my duty to notify them of your near death encounters, just in case you do die. Mummy would be absolutely monstrous if I didn't."

"She'll be absolutely monstrous anyway", Sherlock grumbles blackly. Mycroft smiles, excruciatingly pesky, and Sherlock wants to fling him out the nearest window, umbrella and all.

"She might not be, you know. Mummy's used to aberrant behaviour from you, Sherlock. She expects it."

"I wouldn't classify getting shot as aberrant behaviour, Mycroft."

"No", Mycroft's smirk widens. "What about burglary?"

The urge to kick passes. Mycroft eventually withdraws to abandon his umbrella against the night stand and draw up a chair, Sherlock's glower following him still, albeit halfheartedly, because as maddening as his brother is, proximity is a different matter altogether and Sherlock has been longing for it. And although Sherlock would never admit it, Mycroft, with his preternatural ability to mind-read, seems to know. He leans over Sherlock, brushes away sweaty curls.

"Your propensity for self-slaughter is exhausting, Sherlock."

"I don't – ", Mycroft kisses him silent, strokes his hair, and Sherlock is swimming again, in something very different from morphine, although perhaps, not quite that different. He forgets the rest of his sentence, so he strokes down Mycroft's neck instead, warm and beating with the rush of blood under his fingers.

"I told you not to get involved."

"I'm not involved", Sherlock murmurs against his brother's mouth.

"You're always involved. You could write a book on being involved, a nice addition to your corpus. Eponymous, of course. Your vanity knows no bounds."

"Pot-kettle, My."

Above him, Mycroft stills, and below Mycroft, Sherlock stills. They've been here before – Sherlock has been here before, this sterile place with these sterile sheets and the tubes and the walls as though the world was suddenly void of colour.  Mycroft's been here too – angry, anxious, affectionate – and they've both clung to each other before, just like this, bickering the whole time and aching for proximity.

Sherlock hasn't called his brother 'My' since.

Long fingers resume carding through his hair, time resumes ticking. Something seizes him, crawling past his stomach and into his lungs, and he feels as though he might die from it. He takes a short breath, a sharp breath. It stings.

"She shot me, My", it says. The sting in his chest says. "She shot me."

Mycroft's mouth tilts, mirroring his own perhaps, because his mouth feels odd and out of his control. It's unbearable that they're here because of her. Because of Mary Watson.

"I didn't think she would."

"I know."

"I didn't."

"I know."

Sherlock huffs, because something's seized him, crawled into his lungs and he feels as though he can't exhale it, and his big-brother, the mind-reader, the prestidigitator, knows. He can't bear to look at Mycroft any longer, so he looks away, at the flowers at the end of the room. Vaguely, it occurs to him that it may be the only reason why people bring flowers to hospitals: so they might have a bit of colour.

Besides blood of course.

Mycroft stops stroking.

"I've ruined their marriage", Sherlock muses, still eyeing the flowers. There were flowers at the wedding. "I ought to fix it."

Mycroft's hand tightens briefly in his hair. "I ought to have her incarcerated."

He wears his anger like his suit, sleek and dark, sharp and pressed, and there's something about it that pleases Sherlock. It's that same anger, however, that worries Sherlock. It's familiar, and he tells himself it's unnecessary, Mycroft's precaution stretches all the way around the cosmos and back, but it is people like these Sherlock is afraid of. People like Mary Watson, who slide in through skylights and windows and cracks on the wall and slide out, sleek and dark, slippery with blood, and Sherlock will have nothing then.

"Prisons don't contain assassins like these, Mycroft. They never have."

Mycroft makes a sound of disagreement. Sherlock stares at the flowers, unseeing, until Mycroft's hand tips his chin and he can't look away from his brother's face, couldn't have even if Mycroft wasn't holding him that way.

"Shut up, Mycroft", he orders, and moves away, because his brother doesn't have to force him to look. Sherlock will look anyway.

"Don't go back to the flat."

"I said shut up."

He frowns, as though Sherlock's the one being unreasonable.

"Stay with me for a while."

"What, at the abattoir?"

"I promise not to kill you."

"You might. You might snap and eat everything in sight one of these days, and I'll just happen to be there."

Mycroft blinks. "So morbid, Sherlock."

"And don't even think about coming to say with me. You and your minions, making me a metic in my own flat."

 "Cave."

"My cave. Mine."

 The mattress dips under him; Mycroft is warm against his leg, tracing his ankle, rubbing at his feet, at his leg, tracing light patterns. A heady hellfire rips through his veins like a narcotic.

"Bribing me with sex?"

"Why? Are you going to take it?"

Sherlock contemplates it. "I want your mouth", he decides. 

Mycroft looks amused, one hand sliding up the hideous hospital gown. "So demanding. This puts you at a double advantage, I'm sure you realise."

"I don't want to live with you. You want me to live with you. I want your mouth. Quid pro quo, brother mine."

An indulgent whisper of clothing sounds  as Mycroft scoots up, tutting when Sherlock grabs his hands and pulls because they tease, travelling too slowly, when Sherlock is ready, hellfire in his veins, and spreading his legs just so for his brother.

"Sherlock", Mycroft says, too uncertain, and too late.

"I could confront an assassin a week after. I can handle an orgasm, Mycroft."

"John's outside."

"He won't interrupt us. I know you've made sure of that. I know you."

"Mummy could arrive any minute."

Sherlock reaches down, curls his fingers around Mycroft's, tugs a little harder, breathes a little faster. "Are you feeling a bit of déjà vu?"

"Filthy boy."

There's reminiscence in the lascivious curve of Mycroft's smirk, and Sherlock closes his eyes back to the sweltering summer in the garden behind the kitchen, Mycroft cornered against the tree with his pants yanked down and his head thrown back, hands in Sherlock's hair. Right there, where someone could appear at the kitchen window, any moment, and just see.

Mycroft closes his mouth around him without caveat, and something unwinds too quickly in Sherlock's gut – it makes him gasp and choke, listen to his own atonal groans. He's swimming again, a sybaritic sea of velvety heat, and he's grasping for Mycroft, holding him right where he wants him, and wanting more. Wanting to pull his brother closer, into him, to contain him. Mycroft hums around him, as though he knows – Mycroft always knows – and Sherlock exhales.

Maybe he won't die of it after all.

For a moment it's a morass of licking and shivering and pressing of mouths to whatever parts they can find. Sherlock smells like sex. Mycroft tastes like sex. He kisses Sherlock's temple. It feels like worship.

"I'm going to sleep now", Sherlock murmurs, and shoves lightly at his brother's chest. His eyelids are drooping insistently. "Go away."

Light covers replace Mycroft's warmth, and Mycroft lingers for too long, tucking them around him. It's strange; they've done a lot of things, and they've never done this before.

"And I  am going to set your homeless epigone – what was it you called him?"

"Billy."

"Yes, him. I'm going to seize the opportunity and set him on to your wasteland, move a few of your things into my place while you're still incapacitated. Less fuss."

Sherlock cracks one eye open, stares at the hand and the umbrella.

"Why him?"

"You know how I like getting to know all your friends, Sherlock. They're all so terribly lovely."

Sherlock sighs. Closes his eyes.

"I can't summon the energy to throttle you, but know that I'm doing it in my mind."

"Hmm. I rather like you this way."

"Carpe diem, then. Go."

"Full of your Latin today. They don't make you sound any less stupid, Sherlock."

"Go."

Mycroft brushes a last kiss to his brow. Sherlock listens to him leave, and John arrives not a minute later.

Right on Mycroft's schedule.