When Mycroft finally got back into Lizzie's car, he was shattered. John and Sherlock bombarded him with questions which he answered patiently, a numb feeling spreading through his body. He wasn't watching where they were driving, which was unusual for him. He always made sure he wasn't being taken somewhere he didn't know. Before he was aware of it, they had pulled up outside a large department store.
"What are we doing here?" He asked, not moving to get out of the car.
"Getting you boys some new clothes." Lizzie smiled encouragingly.
"Oh. Yeah. I forgot." Mycroft stepped out of the car, grabbed his backpack and slung it over his shoulder before crossing his arms across his chest.
"Mycroft, we're getting new clothes!" Sherlock grinned from ear to ear. "Lizzie says I can get whatever I want, even if all we buy are tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts!"
"Lizzie says that the government gives her some money to buy us clothes, so you don't have to worry about that. Wanna know how I knew you were worried about the money? Do ya?"
"Tell me." Mycroft wasn't listening to Sherlock as the younger boy explained his deduction in excruciating detail. By the time they reached the door to the shop, Sherlock had gone quiet. The department store was huge. Different shop fronts kept going for what seemed like miles in every direction, each with a different set of bright colours in the window.
"Okay, remember, Sherlock, John, you both stay close. Mycroft, if you want, you can go round by yourself and find us later to pay. Or you can stick with us. Totally your choice." Sherlock looked up expectantly at his brother.
"If it's okay, I'd rather go on my own," Mycroft wilted slightly under Sherlock's disappointed gaze.
"Of course! Okay then, meet us back here in forty minutes. Make sure you collect everything you need: underwear, tops, trousers, pyjamas, toiletries. Anything you'd like to decorate your room with. We'll count up the money afterwards. Are you okay with that?"
"Yeah. That's fine," Mycroft said stiffly before turning away, walking at random towards one of the shops. He turned and watched the others disappear into a pharmacy.
He was exhausted. His whole body ached. He picked up a basket and walked through the racks of clothing, occasionally flipping through and finding something in his size. He kept a running cost total. He'd looked up how much foster careers were given to buy clothing, and it wasn't all that much. He was determined to come in well under budget so there wouldn't be any awkward moments with Lizzie. He threw a pack of underwear and some socks into the basket and took the basket over to the checkout.
"Please can you keep these for me, while I go and find… the person who's going to pay for them?" He asked the man behind the till politely.
"Sure. You've got about thirty minutes before we put it all back out, so don't be too long."
"Thanks." Mycroft turned away and exited the shop. The cloud of darkness, which had lifted during the brief conversation, returned, and his skin crawled. He was just so tired. Without conscious thought, he found himself outside a camping supply store. In the window display, there was a small selection of knives. Mycroft checked his bag. His wallet was still there. He knew he had some cash left over. He didn't quite know what he wanted it for, but it seemed vitally important that he should have that knife.
They hardly even looked suspicious when they asked him to confirm his age. He looked old for twelve, even though he wasn't all that tall. He was stocky, and his face had an air of age. They shrugged when he told them he'd left his identification at home, and that he was, in fact, sixteen. He paid for the knife. It was a flip knife, with one blade about an inch and a half long. It was sharp, and that mattered. Mycroft held it reverently. It had power. It would all be okay now.