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The cracks in our foundation

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When Sherlock was little, he remembered how people always said fat people were friendly and jovial and how ironic he found that particular saying as Mycroft, at his heaviest, never was any of those two things.

Mycroft was actually a bit frightening and Sherlock resented the way he always made him feel so intimidated.

Mycroft nowadays still has too much softness on his body where Sherlock is hard and firm, but he isn’t as heavy physically anymore.
He is still intimidating though and there is always a threat of consequences around him that makes Sherlock want to push back in every way that he can when they see each other or if his brother’s name comes up on the screen of his phone.

It makes his skin itch and a knot forms inside of him with supressed feelings of conflicting emotions. It is shame combined with lust, the wish to rebel as well as succumb, everything he feels regarding his brother is always conflicting and that’s what makes it so difficult.

Other people are usually put in neat little boxes where Sherlock has categorised them and he behaves according to the label on the box. Usually it’s very simple as the labels almost always says they’re stupid and not worthy of his time. Mycroft does not have a box. It makes it difficult to know how to behave.

When Sherlock begins University, he at first wishes for Mycroft to be there.
He is used to the regulations his brother has made him. They spend so much time together that it becomes difficult to know how to act when he isn’t there.

They have sex and then Sherlock lies next to him, curled up in his brother’s bed at night while Mycroft sleeps heavily. There is mostly a hand placed on some body part of Sherlock’s, a claiming hand. If he was to remove it, there would be consequences.

But Sherlock can’t sleep with someone that close to him. His mind races all the time, searching for stimulation, anything but sleep, especially when there is another body next to him that he could explore, experiment on, calculate and estimate. He can count the freckles on his brother’s skin, time the duration between inhale and exhale, feel the texture of Mycroft's hair beneath his fingers.

He could also try infiltrating that great mind that is currently switched off and closed to the world. Because Mycroft is a person who, despite his heavy state of sleep, sooner or later always goes into dream mode. His face begins to twitch a little, you can tell that his eyes are fluttering behind the lids and sometimes he grabs a firmer hold of whatever body part he has put his hand on, intensifies the grip, the fingers strengthening their hold as if seeking reassurance and Sherlock tries to figure out what sort of pictures his brother is seeing inside his head at that moment. He has some idea when Mycroft’s calls his name in his sleep, always with fear combined with anger in his voice, afraid to lose hold of his grip.

When Sherlock asks him about it afterwards Mycroft says that he can’t remember but Sherlock can tell it’s lie, and he feels betrayed that his brother won’t tell him despite the fact that there are many things Mycroft doesn’t tell him.

They don’t really talk about the things that they perhaps should talk about. Sherlock isn’t sure that actually he wants to, he has grown used to the stipulations Mycroft has made him and it makes him feel safe for a little while.

It’s when circumstances change that everything goes to pieces.

Sherlock goes off to Uni and he doesn’t know how to behave at first because he doesn’t know how to live by the rules when Mycroft isn’t there to remind him of them. He has memories of being able to make his own decisions earlier in life and there is a longing of going back to that. He knows he could if he really wanted to, he was younger back then and still managed to do it, so it shouldn’t really be a problem now.

But somehow it is.

It’s like he has an invisible bond, a leash Mycroft has tethered him to, and he has forgotten how to be without it. Because he knows that he really isn’t as free as he might think.

Mycroft’s presence looms over him for the first couple of weeks and has an impact on everything he does, from the way he tackles his studies to the more mundane things like trying to sleep, eat and behave.

Those things have always been somewhat of a struggle for him. Food holds no interest to him, but he knows that it is important to Mycroft, more than important, it’s what nourishes him, makes him remain big and imposing. Mycroft delights in intake of food when Sherlock finds it more like a chore, it’s something that separates them in their daily life.

The same goes for sleep.
Mycroft is a heavy sleeper, he doesn’t wake up when Sherlock prods and touches his body, which is lucky because Sherlock would probably go mad if he couldn’t occupy his mind with investigations while he is forced to lie next to his brother at night.
Sherlock only sleeps when his body no longer can take the insomnia, when it comes to a crashing halt. But even then, he wakes easily and is just as restless in sleep as he is when awake.

Then there is the behaving part.
It has been ingrained in him since childhood that he is the one who doesn’t behave. Apparently that wasn’t a problem for him during his early years, even if Mycroft certainly threw his weight around even back then. He tried reigning his little brother in, but he was too young to pull it off, lacked the authority he later gained. He was just a fat kid with a stern-looking face, and he was never any fun.

There was always a lot of “Be careful!” “Don’t touch that!” “I’m telling mother!” with Mycroft and Sherlock did the opposite just to spite him sometimes, because he couldn’t understand this incessant wish to keep things in order when causing havoc could be so much more fun.

Then Mycroft grows out of his short-lived childhood phase and becomes this frightening presence instead, that Sherlock begins to fear a little bit as well as he also feels limited around Mycroft.

Mycroft is suddenly much bigger in every sense of the word and oozes confidence with every breath he takes. He is always right, he knows everything, and he constantly feels the need to lecture, inform, berate and dictate.

It is stifling and Sherlock tries to kick back but never has the tools to overpower him.

This is Mycroft at his heaviest and for a while Sherlock thinks that his brother’s power is contained in the flesh he is carrying, the larger he becomes, the more intimidating he is. But that is his younger version’s childish theory, the Sherlock of today knows that Mycroft doesn’t need any extra weight to intimidate anyone.
He controls all and every room he enters.

When Sherlock becomes a teenager, things shifts again in their relationship.
Mycroft is on the cusp of an adulthood he has mentally already entered, and he isn’t around as much anymore.

When they do meet, the air is charged with something new and hazardous.

When Sherlock, at sixteen eventually figures it out, he tries making his first true effort of switching the positions in their dynamic.
He figures that this new information he has gained will work in his favour, that he can now the be the one with all the power in his hands, but even if it initially feels like he does hold the reins for a little while, with Mycroft’s eyes growing soft and desperate when Sherlock kneels in front of him and unbuttons his trousers, that feeling doesn’t linger for long.

It is only in that first hesitant phase when Mycroft is terribly guilt-ridden about the whole thing and Sherlock is apparently “so young” “too innocent” and what they do is “awfully wrong” and “against every rule”, that Sherlock finally earns a little glimpse of what power can really feel like.

He can bring Mycroft to the verge of collapse, both physically and mentally and it feels great, it does things to his own body that hasn’t been experienced previously and he marvels at the simplicity of it all. If he had known how easily he could have mastered his brother, he would have done it earlier.

But it is delusional to think that such a dynamic can last.

Sherlock is too inexperienced with power plays while Mycroft does those things for a living. So, when the initial phase of guilt dies down, and Sherlock no longer is such an innocent ingenue that Mycroft has ruined by succumbing to his lustful desires, the balance switches back, and quite brutally at that.

Sherlock had perhaps grown a bit too cocky for his own good when he gained his new upper hand and of course he manages to fuck it all up by unleashing yet another unknown variable in his older brother’s personality when jealousy raises it’s ugly head and claims Mycroft by full force.

It wasn’t really Sherlock’s intention from the beginning but his actions still cause that result and with jealousy, anger comes close in tow and with anger unleashed, Mycroft takes back the control of their relationship.

After that, Mycroft doesn’t let go.

Sherlock grows used to how things are and acclimatizes himself to the new rules, they even make him feel comfortable for a while and he doesn’t know how to be without Mycroft’s restrictions until University happens and he slowly begins to thaw, like he has been preserved in ice for a very long time, and he tests his limits to see how far they reach.

It is daunting at first and he almost resents Mycroft for leaving him in limbo like this, he doesn’t know what do and how to make the uncertainness go away. Sherlock doesn’t like to feel uncertain; he needs restrictions, he needs to feel like he isn’t freefalling because that is what he used to feel when he was younger and back then Mycroft was always so displeased with everything he did.

But eventually, he begins to realise that Mycroft isn’t here anymore to throw judgement and accusations at him. He isn’t here to take care of him, control him, smother him. He isn’t there to fuck him either, hold him tight, caress him when his mind raises uncontrollably from all the stimuli it’s trying to process. Mycroft isn’t here period.

So Sherlock casts off the invisible shackles his brother has tethered him to. And then he makes a run for it.

He runs straight into the arms of Victor Trevor who is more than happy to close them around Sherlock’s tight body at night and in the beginning it’s even at bit exhilarating, this new person that he gets to explore, the other voice that doesn’t talk to him like Mycroft does. It’s not necessarily a good thing, it’s just different and as everything else is different in Sherlock life now, why not this as well?

Then Mycroft comes for a visit, in the middle of first term.

The leaves around the yard that Sherlock crosses to get to class has grown brown and crunch beneath his shoes as he runs over them, out of breath because he forgot about the time when he was with Victor and now, he’s late.

And yet, suddenly time stand still because he sees a familiar figure stepping out of the door in front of him, umbrella in hand against the threat of rain that constantly hovers over them in this intersection between autumn and winter, a grey wool coat to shield him from the cold, combined with expensive-looking gloves and a glint of anticipation in his steely blue eyes. Everything about Mycroft is steely these days and still Sherlock always manages to soften the corners of that silhouette a little bit, simply by being there.

And when he sees Mycroft, he feels something punch him straight in the solar plexus, he loses breath completely for a second, he can literary not breathe while he feels his legs come to a stuttering halt a few feet away from his brother.

All his newly acquired independence abandons him and he doesn’t know what to do because somewhere along the line, when he began rebuilding himself with Victor, he has forgotten the rules Mycroft has given him and he doesn’t know if he will be able to retrieve them from memory.

He decides to not tell Mycroft about Victor and for as long as Mycroft stays, which is the whole weekend, he avoids every place where they might risk running into him and he switches his phone off and he disappears into the world that consists of only him and Mycroft.

At first it feels comforting, like he has been thrown a life raft after having stayed in foreign waters for far too long. But soon enough this feeling dissipates, and he begins to resent Mycroft’s tone and condescending mannerism when he questions Sherlock about his studies, if he eats and sleeps as he should, if he has made any friends and so forth.

Sherlock can have friends if he chooses to, because they both know he is uncapable of it. The question is a mere formality, Mycroft doesn’t expect Sherlock to say yes.

For a second he contemplates if he should mention Victor, even if he hardly qualifies as a friend. Friends don’t sleep with each other or share the shower or run their hands through silky curls or planes of naked skin. Even Sherlock knows this despite his limited experience of friendships.

But then he decides against it. He doesn’t need to see Mycroft’s eyes go black.

The visit isn’t all bad. They have sex and Mycroft treats him to a concert in the new musical hall that Sherlock has not yet made the time or effort to seek out on his own. While listening to the music they sit in the dark and Mycroft lets his hand wander up his brother’s thigh, then unzips his own trousers and places Sherlock’s fingers against his crotch. In the interim they have sex in one of the bathroom stalls and Mycroft looks almost young when he steps out afterwards, a smile playing on his lips. A smile of contentment.

Sherlock smiles as well but feels a bit exhausted. He’s still looking for those rules inside his head that Mycroft has tried ingraining in him, but so far he has come up wanting.

When Mycroft leaves, there is a moment when he circles both of his little brother’s wrist with his firm hands and leans into him while he whispers:

“Don’t forget that your mine, Sherlock.”

It’s menacing despite the silkiness in the tone and Sherlock actually breaks free from the hold but refrains from saying anything scathing. It’s on the tip of his tongue, it feels familiar although he hasn’t done it in a long time, but nothing comes out and then Mycroft leaves.

“See you at Christmas,” he says while walking away and manages to make it sound more like a threat than a subject of joy. although it’s unclear if he really meant to do that.

Then he’s gone and Sherlock puts his phone back on and sees 22 missed calls from Victor as well as 17 texts. He deletes them and pretends that he does know Mycroft’s rules after all, that he only needed a reminder.

But then times goes by and Mycroft’s absence is again making it difficult for Sherlock to adjust to stipulations that seem fruitless when the originator isn’t there to make sure that he follows them. Victor is there though, and Mycroft isn’t, and Sherlock feels conflicted once more.

Things with Victor are light and effortless because he isn’t about mind games, he marvels at what Sherlock says, and thinks he is the smartest person he has ever met.

It’s a new experience and Sherlock allows himself to bask in the admiration. It is different from what Mycroft sees in him. Sherlock actually doesn’t now what his brother sees in him beyond the obvious feeling of possession, and that doesn’t really do anything for Sherlock does it?
Mycroft will always have the advantage of seven years, more experience and a sharper mind than him.
With Victor, Sherlock gets to feel superior.

By Christmas though, the novelty is threatening to fade because Victor is just an ordinary young man and doesn’t offer anything to stimulate Sherlock’s intelligence with.
He studies economy in his final year and likes to play football occasionally, prefers his chips without vinegar and opts for looking at the telly instead of reading books. He is slightly near-sighted but refuses to wear glasses, his hair parts to the left and he buys his underwear at Marks and Spencer. He has had many lovers before Sherlock, but no boyfriend. He used to party a lot during his first year at Uni but doesn’t do that anymore. He is an only child to a widower, makes friends easily but loses them again just as quickly without caring too much about what that says about him. As Sherlock is no expert, he doesn’t care either.

Victor has a scar on his left foot from a wound attained in early childhood, he has a few moles on his back and dark chest hair that is much coarser than Mycroft’s. He shaves in the evening instead of the morning and is allergic to eggs.
He once stole a bicycle and then dumped it in a brook when he was done with it, the reasons for the theft are still unclear though and that bit actually bothers Sherlock more than the actual theft itself.
He can speak a little French and kissed his first girl at thirteen, has a subscription to World Soccer Magazine despite never doing more than quickly paging through it and he is hopeless at chess but can manage acceptably at scrabble.

Most importantly, he doesn’t have any rules and he thinks Sherlock’s “quirks” as he calls them, are adorable. No one has ever liked Sherlock for his faults and the feeling is quite invigorating.

When the first snow falls in December and there are three weeks left until Christmas break, Sherlock begins to feel restless though. Because he now knows everything there is to know about Victor Trevor and shouldn’t there be something more to it?

That’s when he’s first introduced to drugs and his whole world blows up in a crescendo of stimulating sensations, more so than he ever could have hoped for. More than anything that he has ever experienced before.

It isn’t Victor who gives him this first taste, it’s one of those friends of Victor’s that won’t last until January, and for the first time that’s actually a shame according to Sherlock, because despite his other deplorable traits, the man is a provider of Sherlock's newest love interest and that is all that matters to him right now.

When Mycroft calls on Christmas week to ask about what train he plans to take home or if he should send for a car for him, Sherlock declares that he isn’t planning to come home over the holidays.

He can hear himself say it and he can hear the silence on the other end of the line, and he marvels at what he has just done for a whole of ten seconds before Mycroft regains his stance and declares that he will come himself and collect Sherlock in two days. Before Sherlock has the chance to protest, the call ends and he feels at loss at what to do.

When he arrives from the library two days later, snow on his shoulders, feet still cold from not wearing more sensible shoes, Mycroft is sitting on his bed, a suitcase packed next to him and a stern expression on his face. He is clearly displeased but doesn’t say anything, merely rises from his position, takes the suitcase in his hand and walks to the door, expecting Sherlock to follow.
When he doesn’t, Mycroft, without turning his head, declares that the traffic will be a nightmare and that they should get going or they’ll be stuck for hours. The tone of annoyance is evident and like recognising familiarity in his backbone, Sherlock follows him out to the car and away from school.
He doesn’t even remember to bring his phone and as he sits in the car looking out through the window at the landscape passing by, putting more and more distance between his new self and his old one that he is being driven towards, he knows that Victor will wonder where he is and worry. To his surprise he finds that he does care about that and promises to try and phone him upon arrival from the landline.

Back at home, Mycroft thinks that things can be picked up where they were left off, but Sherlock finds that his new shape doesn’t fit into old patterns anymore, he can’t change back into what he was before Mycroft left him to his own devises at school.

It claws at the back of throat to say something about it, his skin it is itching and his body is longing for that new hit of chemicals it was just beginning to get used to. As the memory of that hit is attached to Victor, he misses him as well and when evening comes and Mycroft expects him to join him in his bed, Sherlock finds that he can’t.

So, he stays in his own room, hunched over his desk with a book open in front of him, turning the pages while devouring the content as if it is keeping him from going to his brother. He knows that Mycroft will seek him out eventually, but the clock turns midnight, and no one comes.
He can’t tell if he’s disappointed or relieved but settles for relieved and decides to sneak downstairs and phone Victor instead, to tell him where he is.

As expected, Victor is asleep but picks up with a sleep-muddled voice tainted with worry as if he was expecting it to be Sherlock. They talk for a while; Sherlock says something derogatory about older brother’s acting like dictators and it feels new and familiar at the same time.

He used to insult Mycroft years ago, even when he feared him a little, and back then nothing actually happened when he did it, he just felt a little better at first but then infinitely worse again because it didn’t change anything and his brother still looked at him like the nuisance of a child that had to be lectured and reprimanded at all times.

He also used to insult Mycroft after they had initiated their sexual relationship but before Mycroft had managed to gain the upper hand. It didn’t make Sherlock feel that great back then either, because Mycroft actually looked hurt and Sherlock regretted his words almost immediately and made up for them afterwards by sucking his brother off in his room after their parents had gone to bed. He still doesn’t know if Mycroft forgave him though

Then he did it that final time, the king of all insults apparently, when Mycroft was all jealous and irrational and it earned him a hard slap across his cheek. After that, he hasn’t said anything derogatory about his brother, neither to his face or to others. Not so much because of the slap even if it did sting at the time, but because after he had done it, Mycroft regained control and he hasn’t lost it since.

That Sherlock now dares to call Mycroft a dictator to Victor, unleashes something inside him and he knows for certain that things has changed irreversibly between them. Mycroft’s hold is beginning to slip and as Sherlock has already decided that best thing that has happened to him recently is that insatiable feeling of narcotics rushing through his sinuses like fast cars on a race track, he decides that everything is as it should be and Mycroft will not be able to turn things back.

He doesn’t tell his brother anything about this though. It’s still too fragile, he can’t risk losing control over himself now that he has just regained it. So he decides to keep Victor and subsequently the drugs a secret and just act like normal. Or as normal as he can without actually losing himself to Mycroft again.

The next morning, he behaves like he is striving to be a good boy. He eats breakfast with the family, gets dressed for the obligatory Christmas lunch with a few relatives, they listen to the Queen’s speech in the afternoon because it is tradition and then he goes to church with their parents while he feels Mycroft’s scrutinizing gaze follow him all day, assessing and trying to probe without actually doing so verbally.

Sherlock makes sure to keep out of situations where he risks ending up alone with his brother and when uncle Arthur, as per usual, gets too drunk to drive home and needs to stay the night and the usual question about sleeping arrangements flows to the surface, Sherlock, to everyone’s surprise, offers Arthur his bed while he will take the couch in the living room along with the two Alsatians Arthur brought with him. Two full-grown dogs of 80 pounds each is bound to keep Mycroft firmly in his own bedroom.

When everyone else is asleep, Sherlock sneaks over to the phone in the hall and makes a call to Victor to wish him a happy Christmas.

Victor sends a kiss through the phone and Sherlock feels embarrassed on his account because kisses without actual contact are futile, but he refrains from saying it out loud. But he also doesn’t return the kiss when prompted to do so and Victor sounds hurt even if Sherlock can’t tell for sure because he can’t see Victor’s face. Sherlock hates speaking on the phone because of those small details where he feels out of his depth, he can’t deduce by hearing alone.

When they end the call, Victor is decidedly grumpy though. Maybe Sherlock’s obstinacy regarding Mycroft is rubbing off towards Victor as well. Maybe he doesn’t really want anyone right now. Maybe he should just be alone.

But no, that’s wrong. He does want something, and he lies next to the sleeping dogs all night craving it, trying to keep himself under control while staring out into the darkness around him while he wishes for Christmas to be over.