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Title: Transfusion (the motivational toxicity remix)
Characters: Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Length: 3000 words
Alternate Link: AO3
Warnings, kinks & contents: Vampire AU [SPOILER WARNINGS]The fact there are no warnings is a spoiler for this story.
Thanks to: My betas and brit-pickers, innie_darling and panther_kitten
Author's Notes: A remix of winter_hermit's fantastic story, Transfusion, written for the 2013 sherlock_remix challenge. While this story can certainly stand alone, I recommend starting with her scorching hot PWP, and then returning here to see what John had missed about his situation. 'Motivational toxicity' is a term for how the brain's natural reward system is compromised by addiction.
Summary: The first decade is the most dangerous.

Tonight's events were inevitable, really, given Sherlock's nature. The only truly surprising thing about it was that Mycroft found himself sincerely worried, not just for his brother, but for Doctor Watson as well.

Watson had originally reminded Mycroft of one of his operatives. He had the under-stated martial prowess, displayed obvious loyalty to Queen and Country, and was broken in the most useful of ways. But when Mycroft had applied pressure, in the form of threats and bribes and orders snapped in a tone precisely calculated to make any good soldier instinctively obey, John Watson had smiled, shrugged, and defied him before limping calmly away.

Intriguing. Sherlock, however, was more than intrigued. Within a day John Watson had praised Sherlock's brilliance, figuratively rapped him on the nose for his lack of social graces, and shot a man to save his life. Sherlock was positively captivated. Mycroft had failed to predict just how very dangerous the situation would – must – become. He could only assume a certain wilful blindness on his own part. Mycroft had come to admire the good doctor, and Sherlock had come alive, in his presence, in a way Mycroft had not seen since his brother was a young boy.

That was the root of the problem, really. Because no one who had ever met Sherlock Holmes could possibly describe him as a man of moderation. Sherlock considered ordinary pleasures beneath his notice, but pursued the few activities he considered worthwhile with a fervour that rather terrified Mycroft in its potential for disaster. He'd always been that way, ever since the blustery day in 1979 when Mummy had summoned Mycroft to the estate and presented him with a squalling infant – his brother in body, and one day, God willing, in blood as well.

Mummy had spoilt her long-anticipated child rotten, and it showed. The statements from Mycroft's stolen credit cards testified that Sherlock's sheets were indeed 800 thread count Egyptian cotton, his suits Spencer and Hart, and his coat the finest Irish wool tweed. Sherlock had always been a picky eater. When he deigned to eat, he chose exotically spiced dishes from the Orient, Italian meals designed to entice his palate by a petty criminal turned-chef, or Mrs Hudson's scones. They were apparently a buttery delight, and one that Sherlock took a childish pleasure in enjoying in front of Mycroft.

Sherlock had experimented briefly with sexuality at university. His few encounters must have been uninspiring; Sherlock had declared the entire thing a waste of time. Mycroft had thought, at the time, that it was for the best. Sherlock had the looks to attract the attention of anyone he might desire, but he'd none of the skills necessary to keep them, and the Holmes bloodline had always been notoriously possessive about those they claimed as their own. Now Mycroft realized he ought to have arranged a greater breadth of experience for Sherlock. A string of lovers would have left Sherlock better prepared to understand and manage his reactions to Doctor Watson.

Mycroft preferred not to think about the five-year span in which Sherlock had indulged certain, more illicit, appetites. Sherlock's current obsession with crime-solving, although ridiculous, was a vast improvement.

It was all a part of the same behavioural pattern. Sherlock was a creature of extremes. Feast or famine; all or nothing.

So when Sherlock finally, in order to slip Moriarty's noose, agreed to the Turning, Mycroft's relief had been tempered with concern. The British government had already covered-up a dozen minor massacres by over-eager young sanguinarians in the past decade. There were limits to how many 'gang wars' even the most gullible Daily News reader might accept before demanding action over the murder rate.

Luckily, Sherlock had pursued the web of Moriarty's organization beyond the borders of England to the far-flung corners of the globe. Mycroft's expectations were confounded; not the slightest hint of spree killings in Kuala Lumpur, mass graves in Columbia, or blood-thirsty spirits stalking the ruins of Uzbekistan had crossed his desk during the three years Sherlock was away.

When Sherlock finally returned to London, Mycroft complimented his pale, tired-eyed brother on his surprising self-control.

"Bagged blood is insipid," Sherlock replied, "but it's far better than the wretched taste of blood straight from the vein. I've no idea why some vampires," Sherlock sneered, showing a hint of fang, "are so enthused about drinking it. I certainly wasn't about to draw attention to my continued existence by slaughtering humans just to swill it down."

The existence of sanguinarians and other Übermenschen was a closely guarded secret. John Watson did not possess the necessary clearance, and so Mycroft had urged Sherlock to conceal his newly inhuman biology from the man. It should have been simple enough to convince Sherlock's erstwhile-flat mate that Sherlock had staged his death, rather than returned from beyond the grave.

Sherlock had refused. "Clear him as my companion," he had insisted. "John is a doctor. He apparently had time to check my pulse after my body hit the pavement, before your useless minions intervened. Besides, he's not a complete idiot. He would eventually pick up on any one of a hundred clues to my nature, living in close quarters. If I leave him to discover it on his own, John won't stay. Humans do still possess some natural fear of predators, no matter how much 'paranormal romance' rubbish your Ministry of Information publishes."

That's certainly not how companions were selected in the modern era, but Mycroft agreed. He remembered thinking that sometimes one simply must allow a child reach to reach out and touch that dancing candle-flame, in order to learn the lesson. Mycroft should have seen that relying on a grieving Watson to react sensibly to the danger Sherlock presented was like expecting petrol to put out a fire.

He had been blind and fatuous, and now Sherlock and Watson might both pay the price for it.

Sherlock had shadowed Doctor Watson for a few nights before following him up the stairs into 221B Baker Street. Sherlock sent for his things the next night and moved back into the flat, and John Watson's life, seemingly without incident.

Mycroft had dropped by to check on Sherlock a week later. Watson, who appeared rather pale and exhausted, invited Mycroft in and offered him a cup of tea before shuffling off to bed. Sherlock, pointedly ignoring him, picked up his violin and began screeching away on it. Mycroft, wincing, settled into John's chair and did his best to ignore the dissonant sounds. Sherlock looked well; the colour in his cheeks indicated a recent and healthy intake of fresh blood. Over the next hour, the sounds of the violin drifted into a Klein lullaby, through a selection of technically demanding adaptations of works by Bach, and then into an unfamiliar piece likely of Sherlock's own invention, contemplative and wistful. With a sigh, Sherlock returned the violin to its case.

"So, how does John taste?" Mycroft murmured into the silence.

"Sad," Sherlock answered absently. He trailed off, as if he had lost the power of speech whilst recalling the exact flavour of Watson's blood.

Mycroft noted the sudden dilation of Sherlock's pupils as he licked his lips. These were signs of parasympathetic activity in both humans and sanguinarians. Salivation. Digestion. Arousal. That was worrying. Sherlock couldn't possibly be hungry. He just – wanted. Mycroft discreetly scented the air, searching for any evidence of intimacy between Sherlock and his doctor, beyond the bite. No. They had not. Perfectly obvious, given that he'd seen John Watson alive and relatively well just an hour ago.

"Complex and lovely and sad," Sherlock finally continued breathlessly. He seemed to realize how much he'd given away. Sherlock glared at Mycroft before throwing himself onto the couch and turning away to bury his face in the cushions. "How is that even possible," he muttered in a plausibly deniable demand for information.

"Human emotion is mostly biochemistry. It makes sense that it would be perceptible in their blood," Mycroft deflected. In his long-ago youth, Mycroft had sometimes hunted prey across the moors for hours in order to enjoy the sharp tang of adrenaline and terror in their blood. One of his quarry had spread the tale in a hair-raising ghost story that might still be heard around the hearth in certain Yorkshire hamlets. But he'd never had senses acute enough to taste the subtler emotions, which might lead him to crave one human's blood over another's.

Mummy could, of course. These days she kept the manor house in Surrey staffed with many companions; sleek, cheerful humans of all ages, races, and body types eager to accommodate her desires. Her early decades, however, had been rather traumatic for her, her chosen companions, and the surrounding villages. There were no tales told of Mummy's youthful indiscretions. The propagation of such stories, after all, required surviving witnesses. It was decidedly unfortunate that Sherlock took after her.

Mycroft should have acted then, but he was well aware that any intervention on his part would be unwelcome, and possibly even counter-productive, given his brother's probable reaction. He merely had his assistant add a syringe of Mircera, designed to stimulate red blood cell production, to the next of his brother's weekly bagged blood shipments, and hoped that Doctor Watson would take it for the warning it was.

In the month that followed, Mycroft grew complacent. Mummy must have shared the brutal details of her youth with Sherlock, as she had with Mycroft. With such a clear warning, Sherlock surely would not put both himself and his precious doctor at risk. Surely not.

Mycroft cursed himself again for a fool. He knew his brother. He knew his strengths, and he certainly knew his weaknesses, and he should have seen this coming.

Because tonight Mycroft had received an emergency alert from Hastings, the young man responsible for evening surveillance of his brother, suggesting that Mycroft review the CCTV recording outside of Baker Street from fifteen minutes earlier. Mycroft logged onto his laptop and waited impatiently for the encrypted connection to allow him access to the footage.

He leant in closer to the screen as his brother and Doctor Watson stumbled out of a taxi. Sherlock appeared drunk on adrenaline and his own cleverness. Watson was flushed with the thrill of the chase. Mycroft was sated from an earlier feeding, but even on the grainy CCTV footage he could see the rapid pulse at Watson's throat as he laughed, and licked his lips.

Watson paid the cab driver as Sherlock loomed possessively over him, scenting the doctor before rushing with inhuman speed to unlock the door. Watson jogged up the stairs, and was hauled inside by Sherlock before the door slammed shut, cutting off Mycroft's view. Mycroft switched to the camera across the street for a view of the flat. The curtains were closed, and Sherlock had destroyed the interior cameras again. Mycroft watched as a single light flickered on in the flat. Fluorescent rather than incandescent – they must be in the kitchen. He fast-forwarded to reach the present, looking for any event that would have led Hastings to contact him. It was possible there would be no visual evidence. Was there a scream? A gun shot? Mycroft should have confiscated Watson's weapon, but it always seemed more likely to be used in Sherlock's defence than against him.

Seven minutes after they entered the flat, the light went on in Watson's bedroom upstairs. Not the lamp that he used whilst getting ready for bed, or night-time reading when he wished to escape Sherlock's presence, but the bright over-head light that he habitually avoided. And while Sherlock had excellent night vision, young sanguinarians were greedy for every possible sensory detail when indulging their appetites.

Mycroft would need to commend Hastings for his initiative. He checked the time-stamp, and his watch. Even so, twelve minutes had passed since Sherlock entered Watson's bedroom, and that meant that it was far too late for Mycroft to alter what may have occurred.

Mycroft fast-forwarded again until he reached the present. The bedroom light flicked off. Mycroft stared at the screen as the seconds ticked by in real time, body settling into an instinctive breathless stillness as he waited.

His mobile trilled. The sound cut off before he could dig it out of his jacket pocket, leaving Mycroft staring at a record of an incoming call from Sherlock. He immediately returned the call, only to have it ring through to Sherlock's voice message.

Mycroft closed his eyes and took a moment to compose a carefully worded text message.

Is the good doctor well? - MH

Mycroft sincerely hoped that his fears were unfounded, and not only because of Sherlock's likely disastrous response to Watson's death in his embrace. Mycroft had come to value John Watson, a truly good man who made Sherlock happy, something Mycroft would have never even dreamt of for his brother.

PISS OFF – SH

Inconclusive. Following the contingency plan Mycroft had put in place a month ago, a specially-trained assault team and a clean-up crew deployed a few streets away, just outside the limits of Sherlock's senses. Mycroft did not order them in. Not yet. Sherlock would not respond well if their particular assistance was not required. And patience had never been Sherlock's strong suit. Mycroft could easily wait him out.

Less than five minutes passed before Mycroft's mobile signalled another text alert.

If necessary, would it be possible for you to relocate John with a new identity, somewhere I could not find him? – SH

Mycroft considered. His brother was exceptionally intelligent and motivated. It would be difficult, especially considering that Watson would not leave of his own volition and yet would need to be kept somewhere, happy and healthy. Possible, though, with Mycroft's resources … yes. Many things were possible.

Seven years ago, Mycroft had found his brother near-dead of an over-dose in a grimy squat, his system too ravaged to accept Mycroft's frantic, ill-considered attempt to Turn him. It was after Sherlock's third stint in rehab, when both threats of imprisonment and Detective Lestrade's offer of police work had proven useless before the power of Sherlock's addiction, and Mycroft had discovered that while it was impossible for even the British government to cut off the supply of cocaine to London, it was, just barely, possible to ensure that the highest quality product was temporarily diverted to other ports.

Mycroft's gamble had paid off; Sherlock was enough of a purist to reject the dregs of cocaine that were all that was available that summer, and after a fourth stay in a rehabilitation clinic Sherlock stayed clean. As horrific as it had been, Sherlock had needed to 'hit bottom', as it were, before Mycroft could help him find a way out.

This might serve a similar function. Sherlock's fascination with his doctor had led him to accept the Turning, and now he was handing him over. Mycroft could keep John Watson for as long as necessary, providing Sherlock with regular information on his condition, without anything that would allow him to find the doctor prematurely. Sherlock would have time to learn self-control. And Mycroft would have the perfect leverage, exactly what he needed to keep his brother safe through this most vulnerable first decade of life after the Turning.

If necessary, yes. When? – MH

Soon. Tomorrow night. – SH

Mycroft began making arrangements. A strike team, a safe house, no, three safe houses for the first night, and then a series of flights, all of which would be decoys –

His mobile chimed another text alert.

Correction: Tomorrow before sunset. – SH

Mycroft easily modified his plans to accommodate the change. He considered an expression of regret, to acknowledge that this was the second time Sherlock had sacrificed his own happiness for John's safety. But Sherlock would neither expect nor appreciate an expression of sentiment.

Understood. - MH

Mycroft pictured his brother curled around John in that upstairs bedroom, surrounded by his lover's scent, listening to his steady heartbeat and breathing, savouring these last hours together. No. That would be too much temptation for him. Sherlock would not put himself in the position of having to fight off the urge to reach out and take every precious drop of blood, knowing that John, pleasured and half-asleep and in this moment entirely his, would not resist. Mycroft hissed at the thought, nails digging into the oak table. He would not lose them both to his brother's self-destructive cravings.

Mycroft called Hastings. "Is he playing the violin?" Mycroft demanded. It was the only way Sherlock might effectively distract himself. If he wasn't, if Sherlock was still in that bedroom, Mycroft would send in the assault team now, and damn the consequences.

"Yes. You want to hear it?"

Mycroft murmured his agreement, and took a few deep, mindful breaths to relax his body from its instinctive threat-response.

Hastings finished setting up the directional mike, and through his mobile's tinny speakers Mycroft listened to his brother's violin sing its goodbye to John through the remaining hours of the night. It was beautiful, but Mycroft's responsibility was to the man who had inspired it, and he forced his mind back to the arrangements for wrenching John from his brother's grasp; there would be time enough to admire Sherlock's composition once John was safe.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cleflink
Jun. 25th, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
AUGH, what a brutal ending (especially in comparison to the original). God, my heart is just breaking. Poor John!

I love the idea of Mycroft having been the one to Turn Sherlock and it's fascinating to see the progression of Sherlock and John's relationship from Mycroft's POV. The clinical element to his narration makes for a very different take on events.

I hope Sherlock and John caen be together again soon. *pets both of them*
keerawa
Jun. 25th, 2013 10:19 pm (UTC)
I'm ... sorry? (No, no I'm not.) Poor John indeed. When I read Winter's original story, John's certainty at the end, that Sherlock would be there when he woke up, rang into the narrative silence in a way that made me very uneasy. And then I had to figure out why.

'Clinical' is a good way of describing Mycroft's voice. He is legitimately worried for the both of them, but Mycroft has an emotional distance that I find interesting.

There will be a happy ending for John and Sherlock! Mycroft will ensure it.

Thank you for the feedback, cleflink!

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )