Mycroft never really trusted his memory of events during the full moon. As the brain changed its shape, so did it change its function; his memories as a wolf must be filtered through his human understanding, and vice versa. Therefore, his memories were interpretations, and not strictly true.
But there was no doubt that this interpretation was accurate: there had been another wolf.
He pulled his dressing gown, left on a chair in the garden, on over his bare skin; years had passed since the nights of locking himself in. The bites and scratches from the fight had healed, and he was fiercely glad of that as he punched in the code to let himself in the house. It would send an alert to Anthea, his current PA and minder, although she got unbelievably testy when he used the latter term. Mycroft had a suspicion she thought it impolite.
Lycanthropy wasn’t terribly common; however, it was not unheard of, and Mycroft had had no compunctions about revealing his condition when he was in a position to ensure his own safety. He was, after all, the only individual in all the world who could fill the position he’d created within the British government, and if he happened to spend a few nights as a wolf, well. The Powers that Be were willing to let it slide, now that he was pulling their strings.
Another wolf. Mycroft could vaguely remember pale fur, paler than his own, which meant little, considering his own fur was black. Slightly smaller stature, but then, he was aware that he was a bit on the large side, for a wolf. He struggled to piece his scent-related observations together: male, very male, almost aggressively so--an impression born out when they fought. Older than him, but less creative; Mycroft’s weight and ability to weave human tricks into his attack had allowed him to knock the other wolf down repeatedly, but he’d gotten up again and again. Determined. Dogged, Mycroft thought, and smiled.
He shivered in the cool, still sitting room. He’d had the other wolf on his back, holding him down, snarling, those lovely gnashing teeth; he’d braced his feet and bit, and bit, drawing blood only the once, and the other wolf had heaved himself upright, eyes rolling with anger. Long tail straight out, hackles high. He’d done the same, moving closer with steady, slow deliberation--
Mycroft blinked down at himself, mildly surprised to find that he was aroused.
The second night of the full moon, Mycroft was on a mission. That was how he remembered it. Urgency, flowing through his body, the streets unwinding beneath his paws, every scent, every scratch, every last mark of the other wolf screaming out to him, declaring the city his own, pounding like a drum, mine mine mine--
He heard him around the corner and leapt wide, heart pounding with vicious joy for the attempted trap. He was smart after all; Mycroft whirled around to see his claws flashing out and there was bright, terrible pain as he slashed at Mycroft’s nose. Mycroft got him down, held him down again, but he couldn’t get a good grip, couldn’t hold with his teeth, because he couldn’t breathe; oh, clever, clever.
He’d whined, startling the wolf beneath him; the wolf kicked out and tried to stand up, but Mycroft lay on him heavily and whined again, licking at his own sore nose. When the wolf managed to work his body around enough to face Mycroft, Mycroft mouthed his muzzle, baring his teeth and clamping down briefly when the wolf tried to wriggle out from under him again.
He remembered the tension leaking out of his own body, and the other wolf following his lead, emitting a short, sharp whine before staring at him. Mycroft stood carefully, taking care not to stand over the other, and licked again at his wound. He didn’t know a word for the feeling he’d had when the other wolf licked his nose; he’d liked it, but “like” wasn’t strong enough.
They settled there, in the dark, cool alley. It was the other wolf’s place; he’d marked it for years. It wasn’t his den, but it was his place. Mycroft respected that, if only for the length of time he’d put into it.
He’d never known he was lonely. Pushing his nose insistently into the side of his--what? friend?--Mycroft had a sense of... well. Again, words were difficult. Peace, perhaps. That the moment, that the actions they were taking, were good. He hadn’t felt such warmth and ease since he was young, curled up around a young Sherlock, grimacing every time his brother had pulled on his ears. But even that hadn’t been as right, as pure, because Sherlock was human, and not a wolf.
And oh, how he knew it. Sherlock had loved him, loved his secret, until he was fourteen and impossibly egocentric and angry, no longer willing to accept that his brother was a genetic throwback and that he was normal. For the given value of normal.
Their mother, consoling Sherlock, had said, “But you are perfect, darling. You’re human. Like your father, and like me.”
How very alone he had been.
Mycroft sat out in the garden until the sun rose.
The third night, there had been a new trail.
Mycroft had trusted himself to roam London for less than a year. Previously, he’d spent the full moon at the family estate, but had become increasingly unsatisfied. It was his, his home and his territory, but he no longer wanted it. That was the human part of him, of course. He wanted London. He’d had no idea that another wolf had already claimed a good deal of it.
He followed the trail along the river, down dark streets and up over rooftops, wanting to bite and scratch and rip at marks that were so new, so close, he was so close, barely keeping ahead of Mycroft now, his clever friend. There were no more markings, only his scent in the clear air, hanging bright and thick, leading him on. Pavement cool and unforgiving under his paws. He leapt over a dustbin and paused, listening to the sounds of people, humans on the busy street, filtering into the alley.
He was out there, Mycroft realised, and whined, low and unhappy. He didn’t like this.
Edging closer to the street, he could smell him, ridiculously close. Claws loud on metal and there he was, head tilted in a strangely human way, looking at the alley with his long tongue hanging out. Sitting next to a homeless man with a sign; oh, clever wolf, pretending to be a dog. Mycroft whined again and barked, high and sharp. It was a disguise he was simply too large to attempt.
A woman stopped, scratched at the wolf’s ears; Mycroft’s hackles rose and he growled, pawing at the ground helplessly. When the wolf licked her hand companionably, Mycroft whined and made a short lunge, stopping short of leaving the alley.
At last, the wolf shook himself and trotted back across the street, panting amiably at the humans that passed. Mycroft waited until he was close before backing further into the safety of the alley, whining again when it seemed the other wolf was hesitating to follow. When he judged them quite safe from human interference, he shouldered the wolf roughly and licked at his face, nuzzled him, pushed him into the wall and down onto the ground to rub himself all over him, to know that he was there, and safe.
The other wolf took it stoically at first, then pushed him with his nose and tried to wriggle away. Mycroft barked and pushed him down again, and they wrestled, tumbling over each other and nuzzling, until the other wolf did manage to get up and start running, leading Mycroft on another race across the city, sticking to the darker, safer routes again.
Mycroft fully intended to refrain from thinking about it, about him, when he returned again to his house and to human form. That was something for which he could wait; the easy companionship, the sweet chase. It was adrenalin, only adrenalin, that had his heart racing and his breath quick, his skin aching for even the slightest touch.
He would be himself again in the morning.
“Last month’s report, sir,” Anthea said, handing over the paper file. Mycroft detested reading things off screens. He knew he was old-fashioned, and found pleasure in it.
“Out late again,” he observed. Six months now, chasing and playing with his clever grey wolf. “Perhaps we should deem it the new norm.”
“Any particular reason your habits have changed, sir?”
Mycroft considered her, briefly. Anthea was perhaps the closest he had to a friend in his human life; she kept his secrets, showed that she found it repugnant when ordered to release even slightly negative information about Mycroft--no matter what the reason, and was genuinely concerned for his health and well-being. She’d passed every test he’d devised for her.
“I am becoming increasingly comfortable with London,” he said lightly. “Send that along, won’t you? And the car around.”
Sherlock had been involved in yet another unauthorised entry; Mycroft had gotten quite skilled at getting charges dropped. Just a quick chat with the Deputy Commissioner and, if the victim was particularly recalcitrant, another ASBO for his dear brother.
His visit to New Scotland Yard was short and amiable, and he decided, feeling just a bit mischievous, to check on Sherlock, who was sitting in his DI’s office now. Probably baiting the poor man; Mycroft had never had the pleasure of meeting Gregory Lestrade, but he had seen him at a few crime scenes, most notably the one after the murderous cabbie was mysteriously shot. He often looked as Mycroft had felt when young Sherlock was tugging on his ears. The sense memory made Mycroft twitch his head slightly, as if knocking small hands away.
The human sense of smell, of course, was nothing compared to a wolf’s, and Mycroft could be forgiven for not noticing anything until the door to the office had opened, and Sherlock had swept away, stiff as a board and pulling John along behind him. Mycroft, caught just in the moment of calling out to his brother, was frozen.
“You all right? Sir?” Lestrade said, and touched Mycroft’s arm, just above where the handle of his umbrella hung round his wrist.
That close, both of their nostrils flared, and when Mycroft managed to open his eyes--when had they shut?--Lestrade was staring at him, dark eyes wide with shock, mouth open just enough that Mycroft could see the gleam of light on his teeth.
His first instinct was to lean forward and lick those teeth, press lips to lips and to hell with anything else--and, his first instinct having guided him safely through his political career for so long, Mycroft did in fact begin to move, so slightly that no one in the world could have seen it, but Lestrade felt it. Felt it, and spooked.
“Cheers,” he said in a slightly strangled tone and disappeared into his office before Mycroft could so much as blink. The door slammed shut behind him, and then his body fell against it heavily. Unaware of anything else, Mycroft put his hand out to touch the door, imagined the body heat seeping through.
Then sense caught up with senses, and he left the Yard quickly.