The air is thick with buzzing insects and the hot, close scent of summer hangs heavy between them. Sherlock is stretched out face down, as is his wont, long nose almost dipping into the water of a pale, grubby tray swimming with pond life. A diving beetle larvae squirms fretfully in its pebbled shell, and several skeletal pond skaters jerk back and forth across the surface. A net lies beside him, dripping water and weed onto Mycroft’s neat pile of clothing. He bites his lip, sketching out the haphazard meanderings of a whirligig beetle as it skitters about the tray.
Mycroft watches him from where he lies on the grass.
“The latin name?”
“Gyrinus natator,” says Mycroft, stretching his hands above his head as Sherlock transcribes in spidery writing.
Movement path of Gyrinus natator within closed environment.
The sun on Mycroft’s skin has moisture beading on his upper lip, and he stands, nude, to step back into the cool dark water of the pond.
“Dytiscus marginalis will bite your toes,” says Sherlock.
“Not if I’m quick,” says Mycroft, slipping under the surface. He stays for as long as he can bear, opening his eyes to the algal light that filters through. Specks of flora and fauna float blurrily past. He opens his mouth a little, tasting the odd, earthy flavour of the water.
He surfaces with a wet gasp and pulls himself onto the grassy bank to sprawl supine in the shade of an alder. The water on his skin evaporates quickly in the sun-warmed air, and the delicate skritch-skritch of Sherlock’s soft graphite pencil draws his ear. He stills obligingly.
“Will you let me see, when it’s finished?”
“It’s for you,” his brother says shortly.
He lets his eyes slip closed, listens to the humming of damselflies and the shifting and scratching of Sherlock’s drawing. In the periphery of his senses he hears as Sherlock moves toward him and slips down on the grass. He slides their feet together as he holds his drawing above Mycroft’s face, blocking the glare of the sun.
The likeness is quite astonishing, and Mycroft traces his finger gently over the pencil-curve of his own hip, careful not to smudge. He is rendered in just a few deft, unwavering marks – the prominent line of his nose in profile, the odd arch of his turned foot, the dark smudge of a nipple. There’s no hesitation, as if Sherlock knows his body as well as he does his own. In the bottom corner of the paper, it says Mycroft in a simple cursive.
“Thank you,” he says, glancing up where Sherlock is gazing at him with serious pale eyes. He brings his hand up and draws his thumb gently over Sherlock’s plush lower lip.
It’s perfectly natural, then, that Sherlock should lean down, that they should press their mouths together as soft as the breeze that gently ruffles at them where they lie tangled in the grass. Sherlock licks the taste of pond water from Mycroft’s lips, and Mycroft lets his eyes flutter almost closed as he opens his mouth and they move a little against each other.
Sherlock falls away and lies beside him after a little while, head tipped back, eyes closed against the glare of the sun. Mycroft turns his head to the side to study his brother’s face; his pale eyelashes creating spidery shadows over his cheekbones, sharp features softened by the bright light. He feels an odd tightening in his chest as Sherlock’s hand shifts tentative, soft and warm down the delicate pale skin of his inner arm to slide their fingers together. They stay like that until the sun is low in the sky and their noses are pink and peeling.
In his office, he unlocks the little desk drawer that houses the soft piece of paper, long worn thin from handling. He touches his finger lightly to it, and the taste of algal water on Sherlock's mouth clings in his throat.