"Sherlock," Mycroft responded to his brother in the same way.
If any stranger had witnessed this they wouldn't have had any clue as to the bonds that were tying these two men. They appeared to be distant acquaintances rather than siblings.
Sherlock was standing with his back to the window. He had felt the urge to lie down on the sofa, but had decided against it as it might have given the impression that he had rested himself on a psychiatrist's couch. Also, the sleeves of his dressing gown covered the gauze bandage on his wrist better when he kept his arms by his side. He had to be careful not to gesticulate too much while talking, which would demand a lot of concentration. Mycroft was almost as good an observer as he was himself, so it would be a tough task to hide the annoying result of his moment of mental derangement from his brother. Why do I have to, though? Sherlock wondered in a very distant part of his subconscious. Because we can't handle emotions and what comes with them, was the bitter answer the back of his brain gave him.
Sherlock watched Mycroft attentively. The man in the ever-flawless three piece suit with the umbrella in his hand was standing seemingly indecisively in the living room, watching his brother quizzically.
"Now, …", he remarked, but let the sentence trail off.
"John forced me to text you." Sherlock explained.
Mycroft raised an eyebrow. "Loyal John, yes. I should have known that it wasn't you in the first place who wanted to talk to me."
"What made you think I wanted to talk?" Sherlock asked, instantly condemning the stupidity of this remark.
Now Mycroft raised both his eyebrows in astonishment.
"The text saying – quote – Let's talk. – unquote - was sent from your mobile; and as in most cases the sender of a text is also its author and expresses their wish, I concluded that at least you consented to sending me the text," he explained mockingly.
This talk was as stupid as the idea of talking with Mycroft generally was. Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"John thinks it might help."
"I know, Sherlock, he paid me a visit earlier today, insisting that I should tell you what had happened during your abduction. I have already informed him that I'm not willing to tell him or you any of the details; and this is no matter of negotiation."
"But I need to know what happened!" Sherlock burst out, immediately regretting laying himself bare.
"There we go, little brother," Mycroft stated, his voice almost sounding satisfied. "It's not only John who wants you to talk with me, is it?"
Sherlock was watching his bare feet with a lot of interest, trying to think of a way out of this awkward situation. Yes, Mycroft was right, but it was so difficult to tell him so. That meant losing a point in a game of superiority that they weren't really aware of playing. If Sherlock had had another option he would have gone for it without hesitation. Everything was better than asking his brother for help. However, this time it seemed that he was completely dependent on him.
"Let's get this over with," he mumbled to himself, then raised his head, looking straight into his brother's expectant face.
"I have nightmares, Mycroft, and I want to get rid of them. They're killing me," he admitted sheepishly, however, the edginess in his voice clearly perceptible. This was giving in, something that he despised so much. He told himself that he didn't have a choice.
"The answer to the question you're surely about to ask is still 'no' and will stay 'no'. Nightmares won't kill you, they just need some time to go away."
Sherlock was glaring at his brother. Neither of them had moved so far.
"Then at least you and Tobias could have done it properly! If you had known your business, you would have deleted the accompanying emotions, too! I'd rather have died than being … controlled …by chemicals in my body that I can't get under control myself!" Sherlock spat in fury, gesticulating wildly without noticing that he was revealing the white fabric around his wrist.
Mycroft made a couple of long, quick strides towards his brother, throwing his umbrella on the floor angrily – something Sherlock had never witnessed before – and gripping his arm so fast and tight that the younger man wasn't able to wrest himself from the grasp. His arm was forced up so that the sleeve slid down and revealed the dressing.
Holding Sherlock's arm firmly, presenting it to both of them like a piece of evidence, Mycroft looked alternatingly between his brother's face and his wrist without saying a word.
Sherlock felt ashamed. This had been the last thing he had wanted to happen. Of course, it was just a dressing around his wrist, the reason for it wasn't immediately obvious, but Mycroft wasn't stupid.
"You did mean literally that they're killing you," he stated quietly without letting go of Sherlock.
The younger man didn't respond, but averted his gaze from his brother. In an attempt not to be forced to look at his wrist, he bent his head and focused his look on the scattered papers on the desk to his right. They couldn't help him out of this, unfortunately.
Very slowly Mycroft loosened his tight grip, but before letting go of the arm completely, he held it a split-second longer than necessary in almost a soft touch. Sherlock wasn't sure if that had just been a misperception; probably he wanted it to be one rather than being shown that his emotionless brother was moved by his weakness.
"I…, it wasn't… it's not…," Sherlock stuttered in order to explain to his brother that he hadn't attempted suicide, that it had just been an accident; but admitting that the emotions were so bad that he had wanted to deaden them by cutting himself wasn't much better than letting Mycroft believe he had tried to kill himself.
Mycroft had turned away from Sherlock, hesitating.
"I didn't have a choice, Sherlock, you must understand that," he said slowly without looking at the younger man, "and I don't have one now."
"Why? What in the world can hinder you from telling me what had happened in my life?! You keep making decisions about my life, my memories! I am grown up, Mycroft, an adult! I can decide myself what's good for me and what isn't! And right now I am very convinced that the best thing for me would be if you told me what had happened during my abduction to be able to delete the emotions alongside the memories myself properly; and afterwards it would be best for me if you left my flat and went to hell!"
On the last word Sherlock turned around determinedly, facing the window, his arms folded in front of his chest. When he glanced down he saw the white bandage making a strong contrast to his dark dressing gown. Although it was just a piece of cloth it was mocking him.
Bloody thing! Sherlock cursed inwardly and forcefully tried to get rid of it by tearing it from his wrist. When the dressing was loose the dark red blood-soaked gauze patch that had covered the wound fell to the floor and droplets of blood welled from the cut in the arm. Sherlock fidgeted with the rest of the bandage and in a swirl-around thrust it at Mycroft.
"Look at this! This is what the nightmares and the emotions do to me! Look at it, Mycroft!" the furious man shouted, holding up his wrist, the inside turned to his brother, the red cut distinctly visible. It wasn't clearly distinguishable, though, if it was fury or desperation that made Sherlock's voice tremble.
The older Holmes sighed deeply, then with heavy movements he slowly turned around. It seemed as if he was carrying a burden that threatened to bury him under its weight.
With a shock Sherlock realized that Mycroft's eyes were glistening with tears. He hadn't expected anything like that and he definitely didn't want to see it. He could cope with the resentment that accompanied each of their encounters, he could cope with Mycroft and him playing their little mean games that were part of their petty feud, he could also cope with Mycroft spying on him, trying to intimidate him or John, with Mycroft being absent entirely, but he wasn't at all prepared for Mycroft crying.
The revelation of his brother's emotions stopped Sherlock short. He didn't have any words, not even a snide remark.
Mycroft's mouth formed a choked "No", which was accompanied by a single tear running from his eye. He quickly averted his face from Sherlock, retrieved his umbrella from the floor and almost fled from the flat.
After Sherlock heard the front door being closed cautiously, he let escape a breath that he hadn't been aware of holding. Thoughts were welling up in his brain and he had difficulties in handling them, ordering them by importance, forgetting the least important. He was simply overwhelmed by thoughts and couldn't concentrate on a single one. He was exhausted, mentally and physically, but he had to do something, otherwise he would go mad before long, of that he was convinced.
Text John. Yes, that was a good idea. Concentrate on an easy task.
The detective pulled his mobile from the pocket of his dressing gown. Only then did he realize that his hand was already covered in blood, the wound of the cut with the extremely sharp blade of a scalpel not having closed enough to stay dry without the protective dressing. He didn't care. He wiped his hand at his silk dressing gown carelessly and typed a text to John.
Still alive. SH
After just an instant, there was the bing of the incoming text alert.
Really or barely? JW
What was the expected answer to that question, Sherlock wondered.
Don't know. SH
As much as I usually want to have you admit that you don't know everything, it's not really a good answer to THAT question. JW
Did you talk? JW
Not good, then. He didn't tell you anything. JW
What did he say? JW
Assuming that the question to the answer NO was if he would tell you everything, I'm sorry. JW
Does that help? SH
No. You want me to come? JW
Bring Chinese take-away. SH
YES can be a difficult word, can't it? Two meals a day? Trying to break a record? JW
So, fried noodles for you? JW
No. And yes, I want you to come. SH
On my way. JW
Sherlock put the mobile back into the pocket. Texting John had calmed him a tiny bit and he had to admit to himself that the company of his flatmate was exactly what he needed now – and he needed someone to put a new dressing on his wrist. The bleeding was annoying and he already regretted having wiped his wrist at the soft silk garment. It would need a very good dry cleaner to get it out.
This was a very unimportant
thought, Sherlock realized. So at least, he could think a little straight
again. He gave in to what he had wanted to do when Mycroft came and curled up
on the sofa, falling asleep right away.