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Beauty in the Breakdown

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“And finally there have been reports of pirates off the coast of Nigeria that seem as though they may pose a problem for…”

The conversation drifted out of focus as he sat there, staring at the word he’d written down. It was foolish and entirely unimportant. Cutting out the useless part of the sentence for the crux of the issue, writing them down to in an effort to seem more like everyone else. Yet there was nothing average or normal with the way he merely sat there, eyes staring blankly at one stupid word: Pirates.

After all, there were pirates in the world. People who really did get on a boat and make a living sabotaging various ships for goods and treasures. Clenching his jaw at the phrasing, Mycroft shook his head slightly as he tapped his pen against the paper. They didn’t take treasure. That was nothing more than a little boy’s fantasy. The byproduct of a movie he should’ve never been allowed to watch. Wouldn’t have been allowed to watch if anyone had known the reaction that it would cause. Silly questions about how one becomes a pirate asked during dinner. Was it hard? Would he get a parrot?

It was a ridiculous notion that threatened to make Mycroft smile. Quelling the urge, he looked back towards where Smith or Mathis was talking about the pirates still. They were very dangerous and appeared like they might be quite the issue. Not unlike a rambunctious five year old who swore that he wanted nothing more than to be a pirate. The kind who wore their silly little pirate outfit everywhere until father told them no. Boys who would spend the rest of the week sulking in their room and pretending they hadn’t been crying about it. Those who would cling to Mycroft desperately after receiving the news that father was just protecting him because if everyone knew he was a pirate then they would tell the navy.

Blinking rapidly, Mycroft rubbed at his eye because it stung. Like someone was pricking it. The side effect of being far too tired. Ever since Sherlock leapt off that building, Mycroft had been working twice as hard, it seemed. After all, he had a job to do and honestly, he had come to terms with Sherlock’s death years ago. Back when he was certain that the man would overdose himself into an early grave. The fact that Sherlock was dead didn’t make a difference when it came to his job because it was just Sherlock and he was Mycroft Holmes, the iceman. He was the British Government and the government couldn’t just come to a crashing halt because some idiot jumped off a hospital.

But that didn’t change the fact that that one word seemed to be all he could actually focus on. The room and the people in it didn’t matter in the slightest because there were pirates off the coast of a country Mycroft couldn’t bring himself to care about. Out on a boat out to steal great treasures like gold tin covered chocolate coins and freshly made biscuits mummy and the maids told them not to eat because those were for after dinner. They were always for after dinner, even if the great Captain Sherlock never saw fit to mind such facts.

Even with him standing in the doorway watching his little brother mount a nearby chair to be able to reach the biscuits on the counter, Sherlock couldn’t be bothered to mind the rules. Not when there was a treasure to be had. And even at the responsible age of twelve, Mycroft couldn’t bring himself to play his part in the game. To do as he had always done and enforce the queen’s law, even when the queen was simply mummy and the only one expecting him to play the good guy was Sherlock, who needed an enemy he could trust even back then.

Wiping at his eyes cruelly, Mycroft shook his head and tried to focus on the conversation at hand. The fact that he was in a meeting at Buckingham, for Christ’s sake. He didn’t have time to dwell on the way Sherlock would proudly brandish his ill-gotten treats, meeting Mycroft’s forced look of disapproval with one of joy. How the boy would hand over a biscuit or two as he told him not to tell anyone. And God help, he never did. Instead he would merely clean up all traces of his brother’s deed before leaving the scene as well.

 

It was a laughable concept that no one would understand. The idea that the great detective started off a petty candy thief who fancied himself a master pirate and he, the bloody government itself, helped him out every step of the way. Swallowing hard, Mycroft tried to overcome the tightness of his throat because this wasn’t the place for that. This wasn’t the time and it damn sure didn’t happen to him. He was Mycroft Holmes, the iceman. He was untouchable.

And, resting a hand on his cheek, he realized that he was crying. He was crying and there were voices asking questions. Is everything alright? Is something wrong? Are you ok? Will you read me a story, Mycroft? You do the voices bestest. Grab the one on the top shelf, I’m bored with the blue.

There was a hand on his shoulder and it was too large. Far too heavy for an obnoxious child who spent weeks figuring out what would float only to build himself a makeshift boat. One he proudly took out on the lake only to panic when it started taking on water. Because only Sherlock would take a bloody boat on its maiden voyage without knowing how to swim.

The choked sound that ripped its way from his throat almost matched the one Sherlock had made when Mycroft reached him, keeping his brother from drowning. A funny thought since Mycroft couldn’t save himself. He could only sit there, painfully aware of the various people around him, those truly worried he might be unwell as he cried and coughed and choked on his own broken breathing.

Everything felt tight and narrow and he just wanted his brother. He simply wanted Sherlock to not be dead because Sherlock couldn’t be dead. Sherlock dead meant that he had failed his little brother and it was all his fault.

Trying to steady his breathing, Mycroft found himself coughing even more. Someone was asking if there was anything he needed and all he could do was shake his head frantically, knowing how he must’ve looked. Face red from the tears and his own embarrassment, unable to bring himself to do anything but sit there like a child that couldn’t be soothed. 

But then there was a hand on his shoulder, gently lifting him up, some soothing voice saying that it would alright. Mycroft didn’t want to know who it was, didn’t care. He was simply grateful for them. For getting him out of that room, for those gentle lies about how everything would be fine. When they finally stopped, a pair of arms wrapped around him as the mystery person patted him back in an attempt to comfort; Mycroft let himself cling to the person desperately.

“My brother’s dead,” he choked out miserably, finally calm enough to say that much.

“I know.”

Pressing his face into the person’s shoulder, he nodded and let the tears fall, knowing there was anything he could do to stop them.