Word Count: ~3400 words
Summary: You really don't know what the fuss is about. It's just biology. (A companion piece to Introductory’s Equivalence.)
A/N: Dedicated, perhaps obviously, to Intro his-and-or-herself. ♥
Disclaimer: I don't own, I don't make money, all hail the BBC, Godtiss and the Grand Moffat, etc, etc.
Beta: Thanks, veerserif!
You really don't know what all the fuss is about.
It's just biology.
You were born Mycroft Holmes. Mummy never properly explained where the name Mycroft came from, and probably never will. Sherlock, you have found, means something along lines of dark-haired, which is almost as incredibly clever as you are incredibly sarcastic, when you choose to be. When you see your name you are reminded of the word "undercroft," like a crypt. You are your mother's crypt. The birth of her oldest child was the building of a graveyard, or something. You're not sure what to make of that.
You were born a boy and grew up knowing someday you would be a man, and have never found fault with this. There is a strange thing dangling between your legs that is sometimes annoying, sometimes easy to ignore, sometimes painful to ignore and other times you don't want to ignore it. Regardless, you can't imagine what life would be like without it and never try to.
Sherlock was also born a boy (and yes, you always compare yourself to him). These were unimportant facts to you for many years. Male was male, female was female.
When you were perhaps ten, you learned about people who went against the norm and switched from one to the other - you shrugged. Good for them. There were also males who preferred other males, and likewise females, and again, you shrugged, because it was none of your business, and people could do what they like, so long as it didn't go against your wishes, of course.
To be honest, you didn't particularly mind one way or another, and never have. About any of this "sex" business, that is. You're definitely a fan (Sherlock is not) but it doesn't matter to you, you think quietly, who's got which "bits."
You realised when you were twenty, finally, the difference. It wasn't that you were attracted both to men and women. You just didn't see any point in discriminating between them. It was the way a person held themselves, or how they spoke, or maybe how brilliant they were that held your interest, and from there it turned from interest to attraction. Female, male, just unimportant, as long as you were... pleasured, and they were a person you at least slightly liked.
Mummy accepted Sherlock, as usual. It's alright, she told him softly. I suppose I'm sad I won't ever be seeing you bring somebody home, but it's alright. It's okay to be asexual.
(Sherlock brought home John anyway. She was thrilled.)
You, she looked at strangely. Like you were an alien. To her, the idea of gender-is-unremarkable was a concept directly in contradiction with sex-is-a-good-thing. Two ideas that were entirely mismatched. There was no name for it, not that you knew of.
For a long time, you avoided her and hated her for that. But in recent days, you pity her instead.
You had always intended to work in the government, but you had never intended to throw yourself into it. You never intended to be, effectively, one of the five most powerful people on the planet. Possibly the most powerful.
It just sort of happened, in between the running away.
Anthea Westermarck was a breath of fresh air. You don't know how you managed to get her on your team, but suddenly there was this invaluable, smart, sharp-witted young woman who kept your interest and made certain your guard was always up - she couldn't make it fall, but when it slipped, she was always able to hook a finger into place and peel it away from you, bit by bit. All that, and a wicked Blackberry capable of powering the majority of your "reign."
Many times you considered sex with her. Gradually, the absentminded thought of sex turned into absentminded wishes for a relationship. You found yourself imagining not the taste of her tongue dancing with yours but instead the way she would sound reading a story out loud or what it would be like just to hold her hand in yours, for minutes and minutes, just because.
You never acted upon these. It didn't seem quite right. She was interesting, yes, but not as special as you want her to be. You felt like you were waiting for something, and you didn't know what. Maybe you wanted her to make a move? She wouldn’t; it would have to be you. You know her well.
You also know that when you lean in your chair in a certain way she becomes slightly aroused. Her eyes track you incessantly when you enter a room, and her entire body practically vibrates when you step just that extra half-centimetre too near.
Something could happen, but nothing will. You are her boss, not that it really matters (especially since if you ever tried to cross her, she knows the people and words to send your life into ruins). It's just another tiny incentive not to try anything. There is an imaginary line in the sand around her, which you will never cross.
But that, of course, only applied to Anthea Westermarck.
The day you met Anthony Westermarck went like this:
He arrived at the office at the usual time, wearing a crisp suit with shoulders rather than waist. He knocked on your door, and there was something different about the knock - a bit firmer, you thought, but it was still the tappity-tap that only Anthea ever knocked with, and so you were prepared to see your assistant, hardly even looking up over the edge of your paper.
You still wonder if your face betrayed your surprise.
Oh, you'd never cared about gender, but it was still something very solid to you. People were male, or female, or something in between, or neither - but they were always one specific gender, regardless. Yet, even in the way he held himself, angular and tall, his feet shoulder-width and stocky rather than close together and agile... He had entirely changed. You were, without a doubt, looking at a man - a completely new person, exactly the same as another person and like nobody you had ever met before.
Your eyes trailed. His hair was still long, but had been pulled into a low ponytail that was acceptably masculine. You looked at his chest, and saw not the two beautiful curves you were used to, but a broad, mostly-flat space.
He was so incredibly interesting.
It was seeing him completely anew - and this, you knew, was what you had been missing. Perhaps, had you thought it even possible, you would have understood and seen it within Anthea, but this was something brilliantly, outside-of-the-box new.
This was the other Anthea you had wanted to meet all along.
You folded your paper and put it on the desk, not wanting to admit to yourself that you were stalling, pulling yourself together. You rose from your desk and walked around it, meeting his eyes.
Mycroft Holmes, you introduced yourself. I don't believe we've met. And you haven't. Not really. Not yet.
You saw his face (somehow the same, somehow him/her) relax, just a little - he was too professional to allow anything else. He held out a hand. Anthony Westermarck, he said. The pleasure is mine, sir.
He was one of the more feminine-looking men you had ever met, but no more so than your brother, to be honest.
You shook his hand, smiled, and quickly launched into the latest developments regarding Israeli forestry, and how it might be useful in holding control over several companies in Egypt.
He kept up; he always does.
When she is Anthea, you want to unhook her bra and pry away her pants and slowly make love to every sensitive bit of skin you find underneath.
When he is Anthony, you want to...
Well, that, actually.
You weren't one for serious relationships, not for a long time. You always knew you wanted one, but were content with the short-term if no suitable partner could be found.
Your one boyfriend, the one you thought you were going to marry, asked you a question once. What if I woke up tomorrow morning, he said, and I was suddenly a girl?
I imagine you would panic and scream like one, you replied, and I would have to comfort you. You are sometimes practical to the point of being obtuse.
He asked some more questions, and you said, you wouldn't see a difference, it would still be him, just him-as-a-her, or him-inside-a-her.
It wasn't a major point in your eventual separation, but it was just one more thing about you which confused him - confused everybody, it seemed. Bewildered them.
A woman asks if you are bisexual; you answer that you are not, but you do enjoy the company of each. She continues to pester you, because apparently that is not a proper answer, until eventually you silence her by initiating Round Two, and all is forgotten.
That has happened to you too many times to count.
Anybody who dares to comment on Anthony finds themselves delegated to paperwork the entire day. It takes some of them a while to catch on, but eventually everybody realises that this is your most subtle form of punishment, and while nobody was foolish enough to be openly catty, you know you have managed to halt any trace of gossip in its tracks.
Anthea made her way back to you, after a few days, and stayed for a week or so. Then Anthony returned, pleasant as ever. You began to recognise it in her - the days when she wore a skirt and fingered the hem, no doubt tempted to claw at the seams and tear it to bits. She hid it well, but you observe better than she conceals. On those days, you sometimes gave her a lighter workload, if at all possible, and sent her home an hour or two early if you thought you could get away with it.
You were delighted, because slowly those days became fewer and fewer, as she became entirely comfortable switching between. It was awkward at first, for her - you could see her wanting to hate himself, feeling confused and wishing things could just be simple. But they aren't - they're beautifully complicated, and over time, finally, he comes to that conclusion herself.
Then, she never needed to toy with her skirt. Those days, he wore trousers.
You pay attention and notice that his men's clothes are, just by a year or so, outdated. He doesn't have many of them, either. A few months later you ask David, your go-to man for all things finance, if there's room in the budget to give Anthea a bonus - because, oh, does she deserve it. Her official title is Assistant; her unofficial title is the Office Queen. She makes sure that everything runs smoothly, sometimes even beginning to handle emergencies before they happen, or ready with the right words or paper or document before you even say a word.
Anthony comes to work wearing one of the newest suits by Devore; Anthea has a new pair of heels that you can't name but know to be pricey, the best of the best.
Your ever so fanciable assistant looks gorgeous in all that he, she wears.
Sherlock doesn't seem to be a problem, until the day you check on him because John is away for a week and you worry about him, even if you don't particularly like him much of the time.
It is a small relief that Sherlock has not, in fact, turned to drugs in John's absence, as you had thought he might. Your relief is short-lived; even as you notice the absence of needles, you smell the alcohol and see the full glass in Sherlock's hands, the laziness as his eye drifts to meet yours.
Mycroft, he snarls.
Sherlock, you know, is not a happy drunk.
He tries to kick you out, he fails. He knows he is drunk and does not care, he begins to babble, as you clean up and hide away the alcohol in a place he will never find it - amongst John's things. It's not that Sherlock won't know it's there, it's that he won't dare to touch, at least not until John returns.
All the while, Sherlock criticises you - your choice in slaving yourself to the government and the people, your hunger for power (power just makes distraction easy, keeps the boredom at bay, you want to tell him but you don't) and even your choice of clothing. He rattles off all the reasons he hates you, he doesn't understand you,
And that girl you like, he says. Daring to go around calling herself Anthony, an artless transvestite - why does she even bother? It's so easy to see through her. And you fancy her. It's the funniest, most stupid thing I've ever seen.
Anthea has never said anything about Sherlock, and now you know why.
Sherlock, when drunk, is entirely uncensored, and you know this. His sense of self-preservation goes completely, followed quickly by his ability to understand social manners and cues. You know this, but it doesn't stop you from wanting to swing around and bloody your brother's nose at that very instant.
Instead, you go to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Setting it in front of him, you meet his eyes, and then you sit down in the chair opposite Sherlock and his sofa, and stare at him.
It is a little known fact that Sherlock absolutely loathes being stared at, particularly in this calm fashion of yours. He first pouts and quiets, staring back. After a while he looks away, sitting back - you continue to stare. He fidgets, you fold your hands calmly into your lap.
Finally he looks down, recognising the feeling of shame, and begins to drink the water, slowly sobering up.
You tell him, ask him, in a deadly voice, never to do that again. Never to say it. You explain to him that Anthea is not a transvestite, she's a person unlike any other, who doesn't fit into the standard gender box, and he of all people should know that it is fine for Anthony, for anybody, to be different. And you admire him for all that she does.
It doesn't seem to make a difference, not as far as you can tell, but somehow Anthony knows what you have done anyway, and thanks you under his breath the next time you walk past. Maybe it's because you've been watching, now, looking for what you didn't see before. Maybe it's because you're still angry, and maybe Anthony picked up on that.
He knows you so well.
You wonder if he knows that telling Sherlock was the first time you had admitted it out loud, your fascination with him, all of him, and you wonder if there are others outside your range of control who make him feel bad about being whom he is.
Of course there are. People are only human.
There's something almost lovely about the way you have been admiring her from afar, but, as you knew, eventually, it always would be, it's no longer enough. You don't want to scare her, so you approach slowly.
It doesn't work.
Your first move is simply a gesture of affection. You are talking with Anthea in your study, sharing in quiet tones possible procedures, and, in a manner only she might notice is intentional, you brush her wrist - that soft skin, pale and vulnerable, her lifeblood rushing beneath the surface.
You see her flush, only the tiniest bit. She babbles quickly, and escapes; you try not to let your regret and pain show on your face. You know she's attracted to you, but is that enough? What will she do now? Was that a rejection, or merely shock?
The next few hours, for you, are greyscale. She takes the night off; you are alone with your extravagant furniture and a nice scotch, and nobody to share either with.
She arrives the next morning at work. At first, it is as though nothing has happened. Then she slowly begins to stand closer to you, and you see it: she is giving you opportunities. She wants confirmation, she wants this, she is terrified of this and she is playing with the hem of her skirt again.
It makes you want to scream.
You don't know how to say this. She won't believe you if you tell her - it doesn't matter, none of it has ever mattered to you, and if it has, it's only served to make her more wonderful in your eyes. This is a time during which the words won't come.
Some days she is comfortable. But other days, during that time, it's as loud as nails on a chalkboard: she isn't himself. She wants to be himself, but she can't, because she's still waiting for you - and you're not going to give her that, not yet, because you only know of one way to properly make her see.
There are twenty days, three hours and approximately twelve minutes before she gives up on you.
Anthony looks incredible that day. He is more polished than she has been in weeks, and at the same time, colder and closed in on himself, and that's your fault. The top button of his shirt is done, and he always leaves it open.
It takes you half a glass of wine, but finally, you gather enough courage to wrap an arm around his shoulders and pull him close, ever so quickly brushing his lips.
He tries to push you away. You only hold him closer; you tell him, softly, I would not have done this, had I not been fully accepting of all that this entails. You see his astonishment, his acceptance, and counter it with a kiss, a real one this time.
Anthony kisses back, and finally, finally it feels like the world has been righted again.
It's as though you were made for each other - he, she, who is audacious and brilliant enough not to pick one place on the gender spectrum, but to dance around, to a tune entirely different from any other. You, never particularly caring where somebody is on that same spectrum, and always appreciating a person for more than just the physical.
He is handsome. She is beautiful, and it is she that you first take to bed. You wake up, tangled in the sheets, and she is still asleep, breathing softly. When she enters the kitchen for breakfast, wearing her clothes from the previous night, already tapping away at her Blackberry, you smile and kiss her cheek.
She shifts in place, smiling at you in a slightly strained way - and you surprise her, and are immensely proud of yourself for surprising her, because you have a pair of trousers in his size, just in case. You don't have a binder for her chest, but nevertheless, the look on her face is more than enough to make you smile for the rest of the day.
He swaps clothes and changes his posture, and kisses your cheek. Now, he knows you understand.
And if you're not mistaken, he can't stop smiling either.
You really don't know what all the fuss is about.
It's just biology.
The only difficult part, for anybody but especially for the two of you, is sitting in your own skin, happy with who you are.
( Originally posted at http://lizzledpink.dreamwidth.org/17892.h