Unovis (unovis) wrote in sherlock_remix,
Unovis
unovis
sherlock_remix

For penombrelilas: “La condition humaine”

Original Author: crookedspoon (penombrelilas)
Original Story Title: La trahison des images
Original Story Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1384831
Original Story Pairings: Mycroft Holmes/Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Original Story Rating: Teen
Original Story Warnings/Content Notes: Alternate Universe, Sibling Incest, Implied Sexual Content
Remix Author: Neurotoxia
Remix Story Title: La condition humaine
Remix Story Pairings: Mycroft Holmes/Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson (implied)
Remix Story Rating: Mature
Remix Story Warnings/Content Notes: Alternate Universe — Tattoo Parlour, Tattoo!lock, Caning, Sibling Incest, First Person Narrator, Stream of Consciousness
Remix Story Beta: Divine Squishy, K.
Remix Story Britpicker: N/A
Summary: His mind gallery is descending into chaos and it’s starting to affect the work. To sort it, Sherlock needs either drugs or pain — Mycroft won’t condone the one, so he has to provide the other.




Client buzzes in the background, droning on and on about his life. The wife, or something equally uninteresting. Usually I ignore these things, make grunting noises that could be interpreted however the client wishes. I don’t care. They can say whatever they want, as long as they let me do my job.

Machine moves in a straight line. Almost slip because my hand muscles twitch. I have better control than that. Normally. The last days were restless, more so the nights. Haven’t slept for some time and lived mostly on caffeine. Might explain the muscle spasms. John is staring a hole in my head, likely noticed the tension. I bet he’ll force me to eat tonight if I don’t come up with a good reason not to.

I might get him to pass me a cup of tea. I like it when his fingers brush mine, for some reason.

A headache creeps its way up my neck, brewing up a storm. There’s already chaos in my mind gallery — I have no use for a headache. I can’t see the structure anymore: everything is jumbled and upturned. My neck muscles cramp, making their protest against the tension in my body known. Ignore. The body is just a canvas.

Client is still droning in the background. Can’t ignore him anymore, the chatter rings in my ears, building the symphony for the miniature Jackson Pollock splattering the inside of my cranium in fuchsia and apple green. Garish. Offensive. Grit my teeth and wish for some heroin to slow it all down. Morphine is acceptable, too. Contemplate sniffing on the disinfectant John uses for the piercing room. Won’t have the desired effect, so I discard the idea.

I could easily get opiates, my old contacts are still out and about in London. John wouldn’t like it, though; doctorly concern and a family-born dislike of substance abuse turn him into a blood hound. Encouraged by bloody Mycroft, John is almost impossible to fool. Mycroft commands where to look and John goes sniffing. I act as if I don’t notice that John disturbs my colour index whenever he rifles through my things.

Mind takes to correcting client’s grammar, atrocious to the extreme. Wish for an instrument to puncture my eardrums. Tattoo needle seems like a good choice.

Have lost track of the line. I can’t work like this.

Machine down, gloves off, tell client to get lost. Don’t even want his money (no amount of money is going to give me back two hours of time and the brain cells that succumbed to the idiocy in the room). John is not amused. Thinks I shouldn’t have thrown him out. Natters about bills he doesn’t have to pay in the first place. I tune him out.

My skin feels too tight. I need something to focus on. Art always helps until it doesn’t anymore. Nothing looks right. Have tried different approaches on canvas and paper. The night session didn’t yield any results other than newspaper cutouts glued to my fingertips with PVA and a rather disturbed Mrs Hudson in the morning upon seeing the cacophony in red, black and newspaper print. Can’t begrudge her reaction, piece was awful. Burnt it in the fireplace before John woke up.

Drawing; barely even notice I’m doing it. Shunga again. Been doing that quite a bit, lately. Sneaked one into an annoying client’s leg tattoo two days ago. Wondering when he’ll notice the phallic langoustine. Where did I put the pencil? Ah, behind the right ear. I feel John’s intrigue — he’s probably already wondering if he’s seeing things. Won’t correct him, too much fun to witness. Yes, John, that is a disguised penis. I can see him blaming a lack of sexual activity. Would like to help with that sometime.

Drawing is rubbish, why am I drawing? Tempted to set fire to every piece of paper in the studio. Neither John nor the fire department would appreciate it, though. That last time in Montague Street had got a bit out of control. Interesting how turpentine reacts with fire. Mycroft didn’t share my enthusiasm. Boring. But you have to be, as a government official. My brother wears a thin coat of mundane over himself, like painting taupe grey over spanish red. I want to take a fine razor blade and do an etching on him. Mycroft wouldn’t appreciate it, he rather likes the dull outward appearance. Unassuming, underestimated, unremarkable. What sounds like hell to me is a weapon of choice for Mycroft.

John doesn’t want to throw out the discarded pieces (all rubbish, no need to cling to them), thinks I need to show my art to the public. Sounding like Mycroft again; does my brother pay him to say these things? Exhibitions are trite and uninspiring. I have no interest in selling my art to the snobbish circle of solicitors, government officials and CEOs my brother surrounds himself with. If Mycroft didn’t insist on sticking me in long-sleeved silk shirts for his little events, they would look at me like a circus attraction. Been contemplating getting a neck or hand tattoo just to rankle Mycroft.

John thinks the world needs to see my work. Feel reluctantly flattered, but must nip it in the bud. Reiterate my refusal over my volume on Banksy’s art. Why did I look at that again? I don’t remember. This is getting ridiculous. Reminds me that I once had a phase where I put my art on London’s walls. Mycroft wasn’t too amused when the second ASBO came my way. I should give street art another shot. The thrill of nearly getting caught might solve the prob—

John. Crowding my personal space. Disinfectant, tea. Davidoff’s Hot Water (red basil, absinthe, patchouli, pimento) — classic, yet spicy: a summary of John Watson. Although he smells quite delectable even without the cologne. Words only reach me as an afterthought. Too occupied with the smell and proximity. Find two grey hairs on John’s head I hadn’t seen before. Must remember to add them to the portrait I am currently painting in my bedroom (and which John doesn’t know exists). Right, what was he saying? Something about all customers scared away. Sounds fine to me. Customers are annoying. Form half-serious reply about scamming Mycroft to get money. Should steal his credit card again sometime. I need new oil paint. Always feels better when I don’t have to pay for it myself and Mycroft doesn’t know he’s doing it.

“Oh, will I?”

The voice cuts sharp as a razor and yet feels like honey running down my spine. I haven’t seen or heard from Mycroft in weeks (overthrowing some foreign government or something equally dull and ridiculous). I never know whether to be annoyed or relieved at his presence. Like a cut to the skin — irritating, but makes you feel alive. I was always fascinated by the delicacy of the human condition. So easily destroyed with simple tools. Mycroft has the power to take me apart, to my great pleasure and displeasure. Never know which side I end up on. Today, probably more displeasure. His face already gets my hackles up.

Mycroft's lost a couple of pounds, unlikely that his trip abroad had been to France then. From there, he normally returns heavier. Could never resist French cuisine, much less French patisserie. I spent a rather large part of my youth eating lavish desserts in front of him whenever he went on a diet. It always riled him to watch me eat Pear Tarte Tartin (which I don't even like, but sacrifices have to be made. It's Mycroft's favourite.) Mummy wasn't amused by that. But her sense of humour has always been questionable.

Lost track of original thought again. This is really getting irritating. Mycroft and his trip, yes. He hasn't gained enough to have been in France. Might make a comment on his weight anyway just to trip him up. It's one of his few insecurities. Have to make the most of it.

Mycroft can't keep the look of disdain from surfacing whenever he enters my studio. On a level with entering the sewers for him. Should snap a pair of gloves into his stupid face. What does the pompous git even want? Can't be that time of the month again, can it? Should consult a calendar now and then. What month is it? I lost track after Febuary.

At least Mycroft is in a mood to fight. Good. Trading non-verbal blows with him is a favourite pastime of mine. Actual fights with him are predictable. Mycroft hasn't been a challenge since I got the 8th Kyû in Judo (1986). At least middle-age hasn't atrophied his brain yet.

So it is that time of the month. God, no. Yet another outing, once more to be herded through a sterile art gallery that would force me to interact with my brother's circles. Can't hope for an art auction, though I'm not sure I could actually sit through one. It would certainly be preferable to a gallery. Mycroft's choices are always so boring. The thought of sipping champagne with my brother's posh acquaintances makes me again want to lobotomise myself with the needle. Would bring me closer to their level at least.

Still, even Mycroft's little trips are better than random drug screenings, support groups and rehabilitation — which is what Mycroft threatened me with so I’d subject myself to his whims. Didn’t need to think about it very long (brief contemplation to move to a different continent again aside).

Mycroft doesn't hesitate when my comments are getting sharper, skirting the line of just obscure enough to keep John from having an epiphany. He lobbs the innuendo back across the court, pushing it just a little bit further, tempting me to take it yet a step beyond. It seems Mycroft feels daring today. At least he isn't being dull and proper. John keeps staring in bewilderment and confused arousal. In fact, if he wasn't so convinced that he's had too little sexual activity lately and thus thinks he started hearing and seeing innuendo where there isn’t any, he'd be less doubtful of the conversation's contents. Find myself reluctant to clue him in. It is about more than my awareness that most people have trouble with the sort of arrangement Mycroft and I have. Not enough data.

Unlikely Mycroft will let me weasle out of that. If only I could deduce whether he has any plans for after whatever excursion he will propose. Mycroft is carefully blank on the matter, doesn't want me to know ahead of time. Makes things marginally more interesting.

Homoerotic prints from Japan (been waiting for years to get my hands on decent originals. People in Kyoto were reluctant to sell and security in museums too tight) seems to be the maximum of innuendo John can stomach for today. Should eat a banana in front of him sometime -- or would that be too obvious? — it never fails to irritate Mycroft. Though that might be because I used to turn it into a blatant display of my tongue piercing. That, I should get done again. John would appreciate and Mycroft hate it (and hate the fact that he’d find it arousing) — two birds with one stone, as they say.

Mycroft is not to be deterred. Doubt I can escape on the way between the studio and the car. Maybe I shouldn't have chased away all the customers; it would have given me at least some time to prepare. Though, more hours with insipid idiots like today? No, even Mycroft's company is better than that (Don't let him know that).

John is obviously surprised that I don't put up more resistance to going out with Mycroft. Might have to fill in some details for him. Not today though, even if take away with John and a stupid film sound more tempting than Mycroft parading me around a gallery or sponsorship event at a museum. Secretly hoping that my brother will never try to take me to a charity event again. Last one nearly got me a lifetime ban from the Tate Modern. Intervention from Mycroft prevented that, but it cost me a painting for the Premier Minister's wife's library. I'd rather not do that again.

As soon as I step outside, I want to scramble back into the studio and hide on the sofa.

Too many impressions beating down on me.

Smell of diesel exhaust from a passing car. Aroma of coffee beans roasting at the café across the street. Air low on humidity due to the lack of rain for two weeks. Buzz of heavy traffic carrying over from Marylebone Road. Children screaming in Regent’s Park. Passing tourists speaking in rapid Cantonese, brush against me on narrow pavement. The brief contact feels like an electric shock.

Skull feels like it’s about to burst. Grab Mycroft’s sleeve. Emergency. Will beg if necessary.

“Let’s not.” All I say. Mycroft no doubt understands it for the plea it is.

Can’t bear the idea of an evening in polite company. I need to sort my mind, wade through the chaos. Also obvious that I’ll need Mycroft’s help. Either that or a syringe full of heroin to make the inside of my skull stop hammering from the onslaught.

It’s one of those rare times I’m grateful Mycroft knows me as well as he does. He’s the only one who understands what it’s like if your brain runs faster than the world around you. Others can’t even begin to imagine.

Watch him assess the situation, read the signs of discomfort on my face. Estimates whether I’m being serious or just acting to get off the hook. (Should consider being offended but I did try this as a trick on him a couple of times. Mycroft knows not to trust me too much. The feeling is mutual.)

Not entirely sure whether to bank on Mycroft's acquiescence. He doesn't give in just like that. My brother only accommodates when it serves his own purposes.

He holds the door of the car open with that damnable look of expectation. I still contemplate bailing and disappearing for a few days. Not the first time I'd do it. Though Mycroft might have one of his lemmings on standby just for that kind of occurrence. Escaping them should be possible — they may have brute force, but I have the intelligence.

Disappearing for a couple of days would surely anger John. Or worry him and he'd turn angry upon my return. John's been irritated with me quite a bit lately. Maybe not the best course of action.

"Fine!"

Throwing myself into the leather backseats with all the annoyance I can muster. Mycroft speaks to the driver. Change of plans then, or the driver would know where to go already. The door closes and I feel trapped.

Cataloguing the colours of the passing buildings, objects and people outside. Cornflower blue blouse on woman who should rather be wearing mint green. Terracotta front on a mid-terrace — owners obviously wish they were living in the Mediterranean instead of England. Passing car has been painted chartreuse; shoddy job layering the paint properly. I once spent two weeks at a paintshop posing as a potential apprentice to learn how to paint cars. Afterwards, I painted Mycroft's favourite car aureolin yellow in a cloak-and-dagger operation in the dead of the night. He hadn't been very amused — wish I'd taken a picture of his face when his driver came running from the parking garage with an expression of dread. Greatly enjoyed myself watching from the tree next to the front door.

Mycroft interrupts my train of thought with inane questions about Mrs Hudson and John. Is he attempting small talk now? Good lord. Has surrounding himself with idiots finally turned my brother into one of them?

Asks about awareness of my surroundings. Back to treating me like a child again. How long exactly does he plan on punishing me for the drugs? Probably until I'm turning grey; my brother loves to feel superior.

"This is about last time, isn't it? I bail on you once and you have to punish me by being an arse about it. You know what? Stop the car, I'm leaving," I hiss.

Mycroft has the audacity to look completely unperturbed and tries to placate me. The only reason I don't jump from the moving car is because hiding around St James' Park is a nuisance. Too much CCTV to avoid. Too many people getting in my way. We're almost at Mycroft's house anyway. Can still run if needed.

Wrench open the door as soon as the car slows. Not even locked. Mycroft is getting careless. As if I wouldn't jump off at 30 mph if properly motivated. Don't react to Mycroft calling after me, his problem if he can't get out fast enough. Assume he thinks I'm running off. Changed my mind, I'm staying. For the moment.

Let myself into Mycroft's place with keys that technically aren't mine. Can't help it if he leaves them lying around. You never know when a set of keys to the house of the British government might come in handy. I might have to asphyxiate him at some point in the future and would rather not have to dodge the security systems first.

Disable his alarm. Code is dreadfully easy: his wedding day. Mycroft would probably have chosen a random number changed regularly if it was only him using the keypad. He isn't stupid enough to choose a code based on sentimental value. No, it's so that his dear wife can remember when she's coming over to Mycroft's Westminster property. Always wondered how she managed a PhD without the ability to remember a random string of numbers.

She received a doctorate in intellectual property law, Sherlock, not mathematics, Mycroft sighs in my head. Bad justification. I'm not a mathematician either and I can recite the first 89 digits of pi by heart.

I see she's been by; doubtful that Mycroft would buy an arrangement of daffodils himself to decorate the hall. The family home in Belgravia always looks like a branch of a flower shop with elaborate and minimalist arrangements placed on any available surface. Her favourite hobby. Or at least it looked like a flower shop when I last visited. Has been quite some time ago. I make it a point not to visit.

Watch Mycroft trace the inside of a daffodil with a thoughtful expression on his face. Feels like he's tracing Victoria's body with his fingers. Best steer away from such images or my distaste for Mycroft's marriage will come up again.

Derail conversation to childhood and Mummy's penchant for seasonal decorations. Bad idea. Not the most pleasant time of my life.

Abandon a puzzled Mycroft in the hall. Kitchen seems a far better idea. Added bonus of stopping Mycroft's interrogation on my thoughts. Don't want him inside my head. He has far too much insight as it is.

Ever the dutiful wife, Victoria even left dinner for Mycroft on the marble worktop. How very thoughtful. Vegetable curry from the looks of it. Cauliflower, chick peas, tomatoes at first glance. Take the fork that’s set beside the plate and dig through the contents further. Courgette, potatoes and aubergine appear in the thick sauce, bedded on Jasmine rice. Stomach rumbles. Bloody thing. I had Lebanese takeaway two days ago, expected it to last me another twelve hours at least.

Take a forkful. Garlic, pepper, turmeric, ginger and cumin. Hint of cinnamon. Subtle heat of cayenne pepper. Not awful to eat. Would eating the curry be treated as a compliment for her cooking? Would Mycroft be proud that her food made me consume nourishment? Can't have that. I'm full anyway.

Take a stab at his diet and his inability to coax me into eating as a child. Like to point out his weak spots — he tends to forget he has any. John also likes to point out that I don't eat enough. But John is a doctor, he does these things. Compulsory caretaker; has to feel needed. Mycroft merely needs to reassess his idea of being the alpha dog: providing the pack with food and express his dominance. So obvious.

"We worry about your health."

Of course. The same old song.

"Isn't that always your excuse?" I slide my fingers down the lapels of Mycroft's jacket. High thread count wool. The colour of charcoal. He should stick to lighter shades; makes his complexion less ashen. "As if that would justify your conditioning of me."

He doesn't understand; he never does! To him, I'm nothing more than a trained monkey, taken out to perform tricks whenever Mycroft pleases. And when I don't perform, I'm inconvenient. Always wants me to cower and grovel for scraps of his attention. Sit. Roll over. Beg. Good boy.

"Maybe you've been over this, talking at me. Have you ever considered waiting for another's reply? Maybe Victoria rolls over at a word from you, brainless, subservient bitch that she is, but I'm not—"

Smack. A sharp burn on my cheek. The noise in my head dies.

Mycroft hit me. He hasn't hit me out of anger in years. Trying to work the kink out of my jaw. I'm sure my cheek burns a bright red. Mycroft looks about ready to clip me once more if I say another word.

He really is angry. Finally, some actual emotion under the veneer of feigned patience and superiority. The confirmation that he's still human in my presence.

My body acts out of its own accord; mind and rational thought shutting down — the noise in my head is reduced to a muffled drone at the back of my skull. First time in weeks I feel relief. I need it to die down completely, need to recover and restructure the broken bits and torn canvases in my mind gallery.

Clothing is torn off, teeth graze the sensitive skin on my neck, the delicious pull of Mycroft's fingers twisting in my hair. Stumble backwards, herded out of the kitchen and into the hall by Mycroft. It's a well-known path. The length of two handwoven Persian rugs down the hall, shoved to the left through double-doors made from oak more than a century old. The brass of the handle digs into my hipbone for the moment it takes me to turn it.

Mycroft's home office. The private realm. No one allowed in, except the cleaners once a week. Entrance only with explicit invitation. Mycroft's hands in my hair are a very explicit invitation.

In this office, Mycroft indulges in his bad habits and dirty secrets: cigarettes, Turkish coffee tam şekerli and Sherlock. While the first two occasionally happen outside the office as well, I am confined to the inside. Not the kind of indulgence one shares with the public. Even if you wouldn't happen to be married with two children. (Though it was the outside world's fault the wife and children were necessary in the first place. Am usually unconcerned with Victoria and the offspring though. They're a front — the real Mycroft lives inside this office. Victoria however likes to pretend she understands the workings of her husband's mind. Amusing on good days, irritating on bad ones.)

"What happened to the ceiling?" I ask as I look up, head pulled back by the force of Mycroft's grip.

"I've had it repainted. Did you think I'd be keeping it?" Mycroft hisses in my ear and crowds me against the monstrosity he calls desk.

My last visit was revenge for Mycroft taking the liberty to sign me up as a member of some fine arts society. Mycroft was out of town and I used the three days of his absence to paint the ceiling in a rendition of the Sistine Chapel. Just that I replaced the face of every cherub, angel and saint with Mycroft's.

I take it tonight will be punishment for that, too. Adrenaline shoots up noticeably.

Mycroft presses me down on the surface, nearly bends my spine in half. A firm hand keeps my ribcage on the desk and restricts my breathing just a little bit.

"I give you only one choice tonight and you best choose wisely: sjambok or cane?" Mycroft says in a low pitch that sounds downright dangerous. Goosebumps raise on my arms.

The decision is spur of the moment, impulse shooting past rational thought: "Cane."

Swallow past the lump in my throat as Mycroft's eyes light up and a near imperceptible smirk creeps onto his face.

"Well chosen," he murmurs and traces the side of my jaw with his index finger. "Now undress. Fold up your clothes and bend over the desk, hands flat on the top. And don't even think about lifting a finger from there."

I know I won't get to touch him tonight. Not until he's finished with me. Can't be arsed to care. Mycroft pulls me up by the collar of my shirt, then takes a step back.

Elevated heart rate, shallow breath. Nerve ends tingle, make it hard to properly unbutton my shirt. Can't rush, Mycroft won't approve if my clothing is untidy or too rumpled. Get everything off eventually. Trousers and shirt neatly folded, pants and rolled up socks on top. Placed on one of the chintz chairs in front of the desk. Shoes under the seat, aligned vertically. My brother is OCD, he will appreciate the neat angles.

Bend myself over the mahogany desk, the cool touch of the polished wood runs a shiver over my skin. Put my hands flat in front of me as instructed. Note the different texture of wood to the leather of his desk pad under my fingertips.

"I see you're eager," Mycroft says as he walks over from the cabinet where he keeps his favourite weapons (or toys, depending on his mood). "Remember this is a punishment, Sherlock."

Judging by the rustling of fabric, Mycroft hasn't even removed his jacket. He means business then.

Mycroft traces the cane down my spine, enveloping every vertebrae in a mock caress. My back muscles tense in anticipation, blood rushes in my ears. The cane wanders to the left and right, following the lines of the koi and water. I can see his frown before my eyes. He can't stand the backpiece, but knows my stipulation: no damage to the tattoos.

Mycroft leans over me, close enough that I can feel the fine wool of his jacket against my back. "I expect you to count. If you lose count, you may ask once for the correct number. Any other mistakes and I will add another five strokes," he murmurs in my left ear and presses his hand against the back of my neck.

"Yes, Mycroft," I whisper back, suddenly hoarse.

Time seems to halt in the brief span between Mycroft drawing the cane back and hearing it swirr through the air.

Smack. The noise in my head suddenly dies. Lights go out, black curtain drawn across the mind gallery. Closed for renovation. All that's left is blood pumping in my ears, the sting on my left thigh, the adrenalin coursing through my system.

"One."

Smack. Right thigh.

"Two."

After five, everything becomes hazy. Body feels liquid, mind floats above the water, drifting without direction — unhurried, unconcerned. A vague burning sensation spreads across my thighs, my back, my upper arms.

I lose all sense of time. Caught up in the burning on my back and the feeling of being suspended in time. Can’t tell if minutes or hours have passed. My mouth recites numbers without conscious input from my brain.

A hand cards through my hair. Almost gentle; at odds with the firm grips from before. Mycroft? The hand disappears for a moment; I silently mourn the loss of the tender pressure on my scalp. There’s more movement, the sound of a bowl set on a table.

Warm, wet cloth carefully trailed over my forehead and back. Sensitive nerves and muscles twitch in protest, expecting pain and finding careful pressure. Mycroft is speaking, I think. Sounds as if I’m submerged in water and he’s calling from above the surface. The words barely sink in.

Register someone (Mycroft) pulling me by the elbow, away from the hard desk. Steered through the room, placed onto another, softer surface. Roll on my side, press face against the soft velvet of the divan.

The noise is still gone. Everything is still dark. Feel cold; it’s as if coldness is starting to seep into my bones, clamp at my heart.

I’m being rearranged, my head carefully lifted from the cushioning and placed on something not quite as soft, but so much warmer. Press forward, looking for more of the warmth. Soft wool of Mycroft’s suit on my cheek, leather of his belt against my nose, the silk of his shirt against my forehead. Removed his jacket after all. He smells of sandalwood and Cuban cigars. (Must have entertained a politician earlier today, my mind supplies unbidden.) Familiar, soothing.

His fingers trace circles across the skin of my back, a sharp sting when he passes the worst of the welts. Antiseptic ointment. The sting is not enough to chase away the floating sensation, reminiscent of the oblivion only narcotics used to bring before. Not quite as thorough, but nearly enough.

Enjoy the caress along my arms and face. Approaching slumber almost overtakes me, I’m not averse to staying like this for another while.

Mycroft isn’t amenable. Nudges me awake. Can’t find it in me to be irritated. His face comes into focus and I’m irrationally glad to see it. Want to get closer to it.

Muscles bite and scream at the movement, but I feel the need to touch Mycroft’s skin. Face and neck smooth from a recent shave. He’s been to the barber just before he came to visit, the smell of shaving cream still perceptible.

I steal a rare kiss. Mycroft doesn’t seem to mind.

Somehow, I get dressed and find myself in the backseat of a car. Mycroft’s doing, if I had to guess. Can’t remember anything beyond Mycroft getting up to retrieve my shirt and trousers from the chair.

Press myself into Mycroft’s side, relieved that he lets me. My mind is slowly coming back online, creeping out of the darkness inch by inch. The steady presence of my brother’s body protects the shy approach of logic and creativity, careful not to be scared off again by the previous mayhem.

The colours return. Not the screaming neon of fuchsia or the alarming red of blood. The gentle yellow of jasmine. The warm glow of tangerine. Calming shades of periwinkle blue. The return of the colours makes me aware of how much their absence upset the balance in my mind gallery.

Everything remains muted. Coming from a distance. Head wrapped in cotton wool, protecting the delicate state of my mind from the outside. Vaguely realise the car coming to a halt and the door opening to cool night air.

221B. Seventeen steps suddenly seem like an impossible obstacle. Mycroft behind me somewhere, nudging me onwards. Don’t know why he’s coming upstairs; don’t care either. John is a passing blur. Stumble into the bedroom somehow. Lock door. Flop on bed.

Mind keeps whirring. Unravelling lost patterns. Reassembling itself. Rebuilding structure. Rearranging the contents measured to the golden ratio.

For once, I crave sleep. Close my eyes.

Silence at last.


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Tags: challenge: round four, fanwork: fic, neurotoxia, pairing: john/sherlock, pairing: mycroft/sherlock, penombrelilas, verse: bbc, warnings apply
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