Title: The Nature of Scorpions
Also at: AO3
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Word count: 2,200
Warnings/contents: sibling incest, dub-con elements, unhappy endings
Notes: Inspired by, although not derivative of, peeveee's White Blindness. The title refers to the well-known fable.
Summary: Sherlock never asks his brother why. Why he does this to himself, or to Sherlock. They’re long past such questions.
The Nature of Scorpions
It only takes a coded phone call, and once again he’s back in this abhorrent place, the rooms Mycroft keeps above the Diogenes. Such convenience; a short walk from Downing Street, and only a 10-minute cab ride from Baker Street if the traffic is flowing well. Sherlock scowls, showing his displeasure at such convenience. Mycroft greets him coolly from across the room, his jacket, waistcoat and tie already off, shirt sleeves rolled up. As though he anticipates the bourgeois equivalent of hard labour ahead. In this, perhaps, he is not far mistaken.
The space is essentially a large bedsit, and Sherlock finds it palatial but charmless, deliberately so. There is the obligatory wood panelling, a handful of small ornaments scattered about, and two garish oil paintings – all clearly chosen by appointment, and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to Mycroft’s personal tastes. Sherlock reserves his greatest admiration for the excruciatingly dull still-life of overblown fruit that hangs on the side wall. The first time he saw it, he expected its taunting monstrosity to be gone within a week; surely even Mycroft had his limits. However, years later, it’s still there. It’s taught him not to underestimate his brother’s capacity for wilful bloody-mindedness.
“Take off your coat,” Mycroft says, and turns away as though he expects his order to be obeyed without question. He’s busy with the decanter in the corner, pouring claret into a lead crystal glass, staining it deep red. He takes it by the stem and holds it up to his nose, breathing deep, not drinking, and then turns back. Sherlock hasn’t moved. He never likes to let Mycroft forget that he’s here on sufferance, and sometimes he even puts up a show of resistance, aiming to delay the inevitable a little longer. On the surface it might look like a game, but he’s never been more serious in his life.
Mycroft frowns, and takes a deep, steadying sip of his drink before setting it back on the table. He takes two steps towards Sherlock and then stops, staring him down. Sherlock feels the force of his brother’s will strike him like a physical blow. He tilts his chin up, sets his jaw, resisting the urge to fold his arms like a child.
“Well, Sherlock?” Mycroft says, in that dangerously soft voice, velvet edged with bladed steel.
“I was in the middle of something,” Sherlock snaps, and if he sounds petulant, so be it.
“You don’t have a case. I would have known.”
“You don’t know everything, Mycroft.”
Mycroft merely tilts his head, raises his eyebrows. His mouth is drawn into a tight, thin line, and the light from the tasteless six-bulb chandelier dapples his shoulders and sleeves. The heavy damask curtains behind him are, of course, drawn firmly shut. Sherlock finally pulls off his coat in sharp, resentful tugs, and holds it up theatrically in one hand before dropping it on the floor beside him. He folds his arms after all.
“Oh, so I’ve interrupted some vital experiment, is that it?”
“Actually, I was intending to have lunch. With John,” Sherlock adds, digging in his heels. He was about to do no such thing, but he’s aware of Mycroft’s latent jealousies, and has no compunctions using them as ammunition when it suits.
“How lovely,” Mycroft says. “And yet you do me the honour.”
“You wouldn’t have deemed it sufficient excuse.” Sherlock invests the complaint with as much sarcasm as he can manage, and Mycroft smiles in a way that makes Sherlock wish he could slam him up against one of his pretentiously wood-panelled walls.
“At least your judgment is improving.”
Sherlock stands his ground but says nothing. He knows, by now, the penalty for deliberate non-compliance with one of Mycroft’s summons. No money, no access, no information, and worst of all, no interesting cases. Despite Sherlock’s general lack of respect for the British Government, especially as embodied by his infuriating brother, it’s proven a reliably consistent source of intrigue complicated enough to satisfy even him.
Still, Sherlock never could resist pushing the boundaries. He’d held out for as long as three months, once – forcing Mycroft into such an amusing flurry of distasteful activity – before conceding with a request for classified data and an insincere apology. Mycroft had forgiven him, but on that occasion the crop had been called into play for his sins, and Sherlock had suffered the effects for days afterwards. Thankfully that was before John had been around to notice. He hasn’t stepped significantly out of line since, but that doesn’t mean he should have to put up with Mycroft’s smug pronouncements about his judgement.
“Pity I can’t say the same for yours.”
Mycroft sighs almost imperceptibly, and Sherlock sees it then in the twist in his brother’s mouth, the flicker of his eyes. It might pass unnoticed by anyone else, but Sherlock knows his brother’s weaknesses as intimately as his passions. The guilt that mixes with desire; the closed fist that hides a caress. Mycroft doesn’t demand this from him very often, the intervals varying from a few days to as long as weeks, and Sherlock wonders how much it costs Mycroft each time in self-respect. He has no intention of making it any easier for him, of course, but he wonders.
“Shoes, scarf, and go kneel,” Mycroft says, without further attempt at chit-chat, and makes a sharp gesture with his hand that directs Sherlock over to the bed, which is hard up against the far wall. It’s a standard double that at first glance could have come out of any well-mannered hotel room – crisp white cotton quilt on white sheets, plumped-up white pillows – but the discreetly textured patterning woven into the fabric is the one thing in the room that betrays Mycroft’s sensibilities. Sherlock has never commented on this fact, but holds it in reserve like a switchblade.
Mycroft settles himself firmly on the end of the bed, his legs apart, and Sherlock wrinkles his nose, but divests himself as ordered and walks over to stand between them. Another impatient jerk of Mycroft’s head and he kneels down reluctantly, sitting back on his his haunches, his shins pressing into the deep grey-blue pile of the carpet. This close, he can smell musk mixed with the light cedar traces of Mycroft’s cologne, see the weave on his brother’s finely-woven trousers where they gather and bunch in front of him. Mycroft unbuckles and unzips roughly, looking off to the side, avoiding Sherlock’s gaze. His cock is still mostly flaccid, the soft ginger tangle of his pubic hair suggesting a vulnerability out of keeping with the grim lines of his expression.
Sherlock sits and stares up at him until Mycroft is forced to glance down into his face. The entire comportment of Sherlock’s body radiates disdain, and he treasures the way Mycroft quickly looks away again. Only then does Sherlock set to work, taking his brother’s cock in hand, bringing his mouth down upon it as Mycroft jerks in response, as the muscles of his thighs flex and clench, as one hand fists upon those cool white sheets. This, too, is a battle of wills – if he’s particularly good, or Mycroft particularly weak, it might even end here. Long, slow licks up the shaft, the flick of his tongue against the frenulum, the slide of his fingers against the base. Mycroft groans and his other hand tightens in Sherlock’s hair, not quite pulling at it, but the pads of his fingers press down hard against Sherlock’s skull. His heated breath, claret and coffee, fills the air around Sherlock as he sucks and swallows. Another stifled groan and then Mycroft is pushing Sherlock away, even as Sherlock stays bent forward, his head bobbing, deliberately ignoring him.
“Stop it,” Mycroft says, his voice hard again, and Sherlock pulls off, wipes his mouth with his sleeve in an insulting, provocative gesture. He wishes he could tell Mycroft how humbled he looks with his cock stiff and slick, his face flushed, the traces of sweat glinting along his hairline. The way his body’s betrayal effortlessly undermines every ounce of his authority. Yet Sherlock only looks, and thinks, and says nothing.
“Up on the bed. On your hands and knees.”
Sherlock complies as sluggishly as he dares, signalling bored insolence with every movement. Right now he has Mycroft at a serious disadvantage, and he makes the most of it. His knees crackle in protest as he rises to his feet, and he clambers leisurely onto the bed, flipping himself onto his back. He lies there a moment and studies the bowed curve of Mycroft’s spine before unfastening his own trousers, pushing his underwear down to his knees. Mycroft hasn’t even bothered to turn around, which Sherlock resents even as he drags himself into position.
“I haven’t got all day, you know.” The irritation in his voice finally spurs Mycroft into action. Sherlock automatically shifts his weight on the bed as it lifts up slightly, and shuffles back towards the edge as Mycroft opens a nearby drawer. He watches Mycroft from over his shoulder as Mycroft pushes up his shirt tails and begins to prep him without a word.
Both of them remain almost fully dressed, and no one could mistake this for love, or even affection, but Sherlock is still pliant under Mycroft’s fingers, and his body stretches to accommodate Mycroft’s without complaint. He notes, dispassionately, the way his cock stirs and fills in automatic response to the stimulation of having Mycroft deep inside him. The way his breathing quickens and his skin tingles traitorously as Mycroft sets up an insistent rhythm. However, he makes no move towards himself, nor does Mycroft attempt to touch him. Don’t, he’d snapped once, after one of his periodic rebellions, and whatever his other demands might be, Mycroft has not tried since. Sherlock braces himself firmly in position and traces the patterns in the sheets with his eyes as he listens to the shifting tenor of Mycroft’s breathing, the slap of Mycroft’s flesh against his, steadied by the press of Mycroft’s hands into his hips.
It doesn’t take long by the clock, but in his head eons glide past before Mycroft’s movements quicken and become rougher, erratic, and he begins making the small, harsh sounds in his throat, the ones he’s helpless to control. At last Sherlock feels the throb and pulse of Mycroft’s orgasm inside him, waits several heartbeats, and then goes down onto his elbows as Mycroft curves over him, still drawing in deep shudders of breath. For a moment Mycroft rests his cheek on Sherlock’s back, warm and damp through his shirt, and then withdraws. Sherlock turns away and onto his side as Mycroft lies down behind him in a parody of intimacy. They do not touch.
“Sherlock,” Mycroft says quietly, as though by way of apology, and leans over to kiss him softly on the neck, just below the ear. Sherlock tries not to react. As though such a gesture means anything, given what takes place between them. However, Sherlock never asks his brother why. Why he does this to himself, or to Sherlock. They’re long past such questions. He merely waits until Mycroft shifts and turns away, which is the signal that it’s over. It means that he can get up, wipe himself off with a convenient flannel, pull himself and his clothes together in the humid, stifling silence, and leave. Until next time.
Safely back at Baker Street, he goes straight back to his microscope and test tubes. When John returns that evening – “God, did you even leave the flat today?” – he waves a dismissive hand in the air and listens to John moan about his latest girlfriend over a dinner Sherlock doesn’t eat. John doesn’t need to know about Mycroft, and Sherlock will never tell him. However, it isn’t something Sherlock thinks of as a secret, not really. His unholy arrangement with Mycroft is merely something he doesn’t speak of, for all the most practical of reasons.
The secrets Sherlock keeps are altogether different.
That he craves Mycroft’s touch more than any drug; that his pulse quickens and his fingers tremble in anticipation whenever he receives a summons from him. That his periodic rebellions arise from the terror of showing too much. That he willingly accepts punishment for such weakness.
That he cherishes the weary lines in Mycroft’s face, carved there from obsession and self-disgust; wanting only to etch them ever deeper, as living proof of his brother’s desire.
That he denies his own gratification in favour of Mycroft’s pain; the perverse joy he finds in this a mirror to the sweet-sharp pleasure his brother must feel in using Sherlock, as he believes, against his will.
That on empty nights he lies awake with his hand curled around his cock, imagining Mycroft inside him, on top of him, for once able to see the naked longing in his face, to echo it wordlessly with his own. Letting Mycroft’s mouth press against his in a way it hasn’t done for years. Groaning as the pleasure builds and blossoms back and forth between them, shameless, fearless.
That Mycroft’s name is on his lips when he comes.
He doesn’t ask himself why, either. He only scowls and sneers, diverts and deceives, preserves his own precious illusions of control. This, this, is the treachery he hides safe within his heart, that he will never entrust to anyone.
To Mycroft, least of all.