When he was six years old Mycroft told him the only thing for him was the government. They were sitting in the drawing room, and Mycroft was not at school (probably for the summer, though he can’t recall if that’s right). He turned to him and told him about the wonderful things a mind like his could accomplish for queen and country. He told him that being a pirate- a vagrant or a thief, or whatever he imagined his brother truly meant by ‘pirate’, though he did believe the eyepatch gave him a certain je ne sais quoi- was not nearly as rewarding as being wholly and solely responsible for protecting millions of people from being blown up or wared upon or poisoned. Mycroft always did talk in the dramatic, and his grandiose plans for the both of them were no different.
Mycroft had so many plans.
The funny thing about memory is he didn’t file that particular conversation, and yet it lingers. He didn’t take the relevant information and store it away. He even, on occasion, tried to place it in a room so far down in the dungeons of his palace that it was impossible to retrieve.
It always came back to haunt him, usually when he was high, sometimes in his dreams. Never when working.
When he graduated Cambridge, two years after he started, Mycroft was so sure he’d take up his offer. So sure. Practically had business cards printed. And had been so scathing when he’d walked away from it. Philosophy, Anatomy, Chemistry. These were the subjects he chose to fill his mind with. The number for mole (six point oh two times ten to the power twenty three), the atomic weight of Boron (ten) the correct name for the bones in one’s fingers (phalanges, metacarpals, carpals), the reason for love (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, not the heart, never the heart).
Oh brother, my brother, how bitterly disappointed thou art with me. My ways are not your ways. Ours is not to question. Here have some cake.
Mycroft had watched from the sidelines after that, giving his opinion with or without warrant, which was infinitely worse than him sharing his many plans, because opinions suggest he gave up on convincing his brother otherwise, and that hurt. He had watched- observed, more like it- as his brother took on a role he was destined to fill, though on a much smaller and certainly less noble scale. He watched as his brother became a smaller, less significant version of himself, who found solace and amusement in illegal substances and the occasional triple homicide, provided the murder had a twist and the drugs were of the highest quality.
John had disagreed on the nobility side of things, when consulted. His sentimental heart believed that what his flatmate was doing for the every-man, regardless of his reasons for doing it, was far more noble, if only because he was one of those lucky ones who had firsthand knowledge of what it was like to be pulled from the wreckage by that maniacal brain.
John’s view had always been tainted, though Mycroft found it relieving to no longer be the only one looking out for Holmes the Younger.
He finally found his footing, ironically, when his undoing showed up. Just as brilliant, twice as fierce and genuinely mad enough to throw caution to the wind in every way. A true madman. A brilliant mind; a mind just like the brothers. A mind without emotion. A mind that could break them all, and very nearly did. Mycroft had been concerned, of course, but was distracted by the bigger picture, as he was wont to be (and had been since the day he mistook ‘pirate’ for ‘criminal’). His view from on high was vastly different to that of ground level; his inability to see things on a grand scale a weakness rather than strength (for the first time, admittedly), and in his quest he forgot the first rule ever taught to him by Mother.
You look after him, Mycroft. You make sure you take care of each other. You two are all each other will have one day.
He walks now with purpose. With resoluteness. With a deliberately altered gait. He walks into the small and cosy looking flat, takes the stairs two at a time, gracefully, and feels nothing when he snaps the neck of the man sitting on the couch. No blood, no noise, just the beginnings of a question, a loud click, and then nothing. He feels nothing. It’s hard to recall a time when he would have felt even the slightest hint of a shadow of something.
A would-be assassin of children or criminals or John, though probably someone much more important to the operation because this guy was good- close to the best. A man with far too much blood on his hands and a moral compass off-kilter- enough to allow himself to be hired for a steady price. For Moran’s price.
He walks out of the flat with that uneven gait and his hoody low over his eyes, his hands in the pockets of baggy jeans and his sunglasses on. He walks down the street, turns the corner, and stops. He stops and stares right at the lens of one of the many CCTV cameras littered around this city. He stands there, eyes locked, and waits for the camera to move and a car to pull up.
He holds his breath and counts to ten- you’ve finally done it brother I am working with you now and for you. I am living in your shadows.
The moment never comes, and he knows that he’s finally done it.
Mycroft can’t see him.
Mycroft isn’t even looking.
It’s hard to recognise yourself in a crowd.