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Happier

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Walking down 29th and park
I saw you in another's arms
Only a month we've been apart
You look happier

 

His fridge needs to be filled. That’s the excuse he’s operating on for abandoning his work early if anyone chooses to ask. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’d spotted you on CCTV, your h/c hair flowing as you walked arm in arm with another man. His reason for being outside, and for actually walking for once rather than being in the confines of one of his usual black work cars is nothing to do with the fact that he couldn't see your face as clearly as he wanted to from the footage. Nothing to do with the fact that he wants to see your face up close and study you properly. But by the time he gets there you are no longer in the street, but in the park. The man you are with might as well be a sketch to him. His brown hair no more than a few clumsy lines against the background of greenery beneath the dull London sky. His broad chest covered by a tight-fitting white top, the sleeves up just enough to reveal part of a Chinese dragon tattoo no more than a cloud upon the horizon. His drainpipe jeans a signal of rain. All Mycroft can focus on is you. The rosy tinge to your cheeks as you, in your stripy purple and brown scarf, short dark coat and maroon jumper and jeans stand there in the man’s arms. It hits him then as he sees the sparkle in your eyes that you look happier than you’d ever done with him.

 

Saw you walk inside a bar
He said something to make you laugh
I saw that both your smiles were twice as wide as ours
Yeah you look happier, you do

 

Mycroft’s not stalking you, he swears he isn't. At least he would if you or anyone else dared imply that he’d been frequently spotted in the same places as you. He’s just on some important official government business, which happens to be taking place at night and that of course no one else could do. That’s the reason for him being outside a bar he wouldn't usually be caught dead around otherwise. It’s nothing to do with the fact that he’d just watched you from across the street as you walked into said bar with your new lover. Your new partner had said something to make you laugh. Mycroft’s mind had instantly gone to what he might have said himself had you convinced him to come here. Probably something sarcastic about the neon lighting and how the place had dirty glasses. Would that have made you laugh or frown? Once he’d have felt sure that your lips would have twitched up into a smile because of it, but now he’s not so sure. He doubts that he’d have been able to make you laugh with anything he’d had to say. It’s probably not a winning sign either that he’d have had to be pressured by you into coming to a place like this. He realizes then that he’d never really taken into account what you wanted to do. He’d just assumed that you were happy enough to follow his lead. He moves off again, the beaming look that had been on your face as you’d glanced up at your new partner etched into his mind. He definitely doesn’t stop to smoke around the corner.

 

Ain't nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain't nobody love you like I do
Promise that I will not take it personal baby
If you're moving on with someone new

 

Mycroft tries not to follow you in person, via CCTV or through your social media accounts he really does. Tries not to be irked by the fact that on ‘Facebook’ you’ve put: Not single as your status with a winking face. He tries not to stay up late until the early hours of the morning brooding about you moving on so quickly. He can’t blame you. He really can’t. Not after all that he’d hurt you. He remembers the way that he’d worked really hard to get you to be his, taking you out to nice restaurants, turning up unexpectedly at 221C, the flat where you live, with flowers or a bottle of wine. But as soon as the prize had been won and you were installed in his home like a new painting he’d taken you for granted, stopped responding to your texts as soon as he got them, left abruptly for work trips without even telling you until it was too late, leaving you with an unexpected amount of dinner and an aching heart when you’d heard that he’d gone off again and wouldn't be coming home that night. Mycroft isn't being remarkably self-aware here, oh no. You’d told him all that, made him realize just how left out you were feeling and how he’d made you feel like now you were his girlfriend you were just supposed to fit neatly into his life and not disrupt anything else. Yes, you’d made him see all that when you’d finally had enough, tears streaming down your face as you’d yelled, when he’d asked you why you hadn’t said anything sooner, that you’d tried to drop hints and talk to him about how you felt. Then you’d left, pulling your things in a case behind you. Mycroft, being the oblivious berk he was when it came to relationships hadn’t seen it at all until it was too late. No, he’s had his chance. No matter how he might feel he really can’t blame you for leaving or for starting afresh. It had clearly been the right thing for you to do. Especially when you look so happy now.

 

Cause baby you look happier, you do
My friends told me one day I'll feel it too
And until then I'll smile to hide the truth
But I know I was happier with you

 

All the people he hates and even the ones he doesn’t have been offering him sage words of comfort. Sherlock, apparently believing that he was breaking the news, had texted him with word that you are with someone new.

 

“Too late brother dear,” had been what Mycroft had said when he’d received it. That had been three days after he’d seen you in the park.

 

John, the next time Mycroft had called at 221B, had said, with a bit of a forced grimace that he was sorry for what was going on and commented that it must be difficult. He’d tried to get Sherlock to break the news face to face he’d said. Mycroft had worn a grim expression that questioned why he’d even chosen to come around and told him not to worry. He was sure John’s little doctor brain couldn't even contemplate the scale of his depression.

 

“Yes, plenty more fish in the sea,” Sherlock had crowed behind him. Mycroft hadn’t even graced his brother with a look at that.

 

He’d been further embarrassed when Molly had stammered something out the next time he’d seen her and when even Gregory’s chocolate eyes had softened with something. God, did everyone have a view on how he was supposedly feeling?

 

In the opinion of Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock’s insufferable landlady, it was obviously his fault that the break up with you had occurred in the first place and she seemed pleased that you weren’t moping about and that you were getting on with your life. He supposes that, that’s what he should be doing to, though it’s easier said than done.

 

Only he knows how he’s really feeling. Guilt of course for not noticing your woes sooner and not having done anything about it. Hurt from being reminded of the blasted thing everyday, whether it’s through seeing you in person or on CCTV-sometimes he does accidentally come across you-from everybody’s words or pitying stares-it is them that he struggles with the most-or from his own mind steering him in that direction, prickling with thoughts of you. Hurt too from you having moved on so quickly. But the most overwhelming thing he feels is sadness. He hasn’t felt this sad in years and had hoped to never again.

 

Sat in the corner of the room
Everything's reminding me of you
Nursing an empty bottle and telling myself you're happier
Aren't you?

 

It’s another night of pretending that he’s not thinking of you, but rather a problem at work, an annoying trifle perhaps. Fed up of seeing the empty spaces at home that used to be filled up with your possessions he’s doing his thought in public for once. Or sort of public. At the Diogenes Club. But he can’t even get away from you here. You've followed him inside, ignoring the ‘No Women’ rule and jumping into his mind. Now he’s remembering how you’d once made him smile by trying to set up your own Diogenes Club for him at home one time. You’d arranged the sitting room chairs just so, put out a decanter of scotch out for him ready and even had a newspaper on the side table for him. The fact that you’d done that should have set warning bells off, but at the time he’d just seen it as you being sweet and not understanding that he’d needed his own space away from home. Now the memory pains him. He should have humoured you and spent more time with you. He sees that now. In the present everyone and everything is still and silent. There is not even a flutter from the turning of a page. He can just sit there with a decanter of scotch on the side table, his glass half-empty as he wallows and thinks of you. If he closes his eyes then he can pretend that no one knows what he’s thinking about even more. But that has the unpleasant side effect of seeing your cheerful face as you’d strolled along with your new partner. Oddly enough he sees your face as if it had been turned towards him, even though he knows that he’d only been able to see the side of it. This time he can see your e/c eyes and smiling mouth full on. But for the first time your expression fades and grows tenser, as if you have caught him looking at you in reality and you’re growing more defensive. You are happier aren't you? You hadn’t become more upbeat around your partner and tried to be more optimistic inside yourself just because you’d somehow noticed him in the vicinity without him knowing had you? Your laugh hadn’t been forced? You’re not trying to heal a broken heart because yours is already mended isn't it?

 

Ain't nobody hurt you like I hurt you
But ain't nobody need you like I do
I know that there's others that deserve you
But my darling I am still in love with you

 

Mycroft sighs. Some of the elderly, white gentlemen look at him as if he’s just blown a hurricane through the room. He finishes off his scotch and gets up and leaves. He’s still struggling with it all as he gets home and prepares for bed. He reminds himself as he brushes his teeth somewhat vigorously as he stands there in his white t-shirt and light red boxer shorts of how much he’d hurt you. Even if he has doubts about your happiness he has no right to judge. No right to run up to you and tell you how to live your life. That wouldn't make you think him changed. You’d probably just think him jealous. Probably push him away and move on quickly. As he’s reminded of how angry your face can look he’s taken back to the night you’d left him and it’s like all the pain he’s been feeling ever since bursts right out of him. His green toothbrush clatters down into the sink, he swallows the remainder of the toothpaste that’s in his mouth and he has to clutch onto the edge of the sink hard. He’s let you, let himself down, but he still loves you and he’d do anything to be more than enough for you right now.

 

But I guess you look happier, you do
My friends told me one day I'll feel it too
I could try to smile to hide the truth
But I know I was happier with you

 

He can’t cover the truth of how he feels from his face after that night. Not that he’s probably done a great job of that so far. He goes around grim faced, working through the motions of his day.

 

Baby you look happier, you do
I knew one day you'd fall for someone new
But if he breaks your heart like lovers do
Just know that I'll be waiting here for you

 

The fact that he still loves you and can admit that now doesn’t change the problem though. You’re still with someone else. Your new man. He sees you in the supermarket together one day. He’s rather surprised to see you in that one because it’s where you used to shop when you were dating him and he’s sure that your new partner’s generosity doesn’t extend to him telling you to take his card and buy the most high-end products that you can find. Now you’re laughing in the cake aisle, picking out decorations with whatever his name is and joking around. You would have never have even had the chance to do that if you were still with him. You’d always gone shopping alone then. As he watches you from behind the end of the shelf, creeping there with his basket and you’re so full of life, so vibrant, your voice turning into a laugh as you get excited and your new partner holds up the decorations so high that you can’t reach them Mycroft makes the realization that he’d always known this day was going to come. Always known really that you’d move on, find someone new ever since the moment that you’d broke up with him. It was inevitable. How could someone so vivacious stay single? It was the timing that had thrown him he realizes. Some silly part of him had thought that just because he was still miserable you would be too. But that’s not how its worked and he needs to back off now. Needs to try and get on with his own life, no matter how hard that might be. Slowly, and a little sadly, he looks down at the limp fruit that he’s collected in his basket in an attempt to stay healthy. All he wants right now is cake, but you’re in the cake aisle laughing with your new partner. He puts the basket to the floor and walks out.

 

Unbeknownst to him you’ll go past it a few moments later. You won’t make the connection that it used to be Mycroft’s because of the fruit.