Sherlock lay in his hospital bed, testing himself by making deductions based merely on the footsteps in the hall. That entertainment was beginning to pall rapidly when he detected the sound of an umbrella tapping alongside footsteps that he knew well. Instantly, he turned his head away from the door and feigned sleep.

Mycroft paused momentarily in the doorway, observing his younger brother closely, then moved to the only chair in the room and lowered himself into it. "You are aware, of course, that the night nurse is diabetic?"

Sherlock gave up and answered, without opening his eyes, however. "Therefore you bribed your way in with flowers and not chocolates."

"You look considerably better than you did the last time I was here," said Mycroft, standing his umbrella against the wall. "Not nearly as pale."

"I don't remember you being here before." Sherlock eased his position slightly and finally opened his eyes to look at his brother. "Unconscious?"

"Extremely," was the response. Mycroft cast a quick, thorough glance around the room before speaking again. "Can I bring you anything? Take a message to anyone?"

Sherlock snorted. "My laptop?" he suggested drily.

To his surprise, Mycroft nodded briefly. "I'll see what I can do." He took his phone from his pocket and sent a brief text, then looked at Sherlock. "It may not be possible, even for me, but we'll see in a few minutes. Meanwhile," he re-pocketed his phone and eyed his brother sternly, "I understand you are unable to provide the police with a description of your assailant. Other than that he was a stocky, left-handed, six-foot-tall Asian with incipient arthritis and a background in archaeology, that is."

"What do you expect?" said Sherlock wearily. "He was wearing a balaclava and I had only an instant to observe him before being shot."

"Oh, I wasn't a bit surprised by the description. I consider it admirable." Mycroft cocked an ear to the hallway, then said, "Ah, just the cardiac patient wanting a bedpan. No, I wasn't at all disappointed or concerned after hearing that description."

Sherlock looked at him warily but said nothing.

Mycroft leaned back in the uncomfortable plastic chair, then straightened again, sighing and resigned to discomfort. "I could come to only one conclusion and I assume that Mrs. Watson will not be shooting at you again."

The younger Holmes brother closed his eyes again briefly. "It was obvious, wasn't it? Fortunately, not so obvious to the police, though." He took a deep breath, winced at the pain, then let it out again, slowly. "I'm going to insist that you do nothing, Mycroft. I will deal with the situation." He raised his head slightly to glare at his brother and repeated himself with emphasis. "I will deal with it."

"As you wish." Another pause while a nurse strode briskly down the hallway. Then, "If you'd like some assistance, of course, or need any additional information -"

"No," said Sherlock firmly and distinctly. "Not necessary."

"Well, then, it only remains for me to wish you a speedy recovery." Mycroft reached for his umbrella.

"Oh, no." Sherlock extended a hand to stop him from rising. "You have to promise me this stays confidential. No one is to hear of this, and it's not to be included in any of your files."

Mycroft stood, shaking his pants legs down and checking for any stray creases he might have acquired. "Confidential? You have mistaken me for a priest or a lawyer, Sherlock."

Sherlock looked at him grimly and the two mens' eyes locked.

After a few seconds, the older Holmes sighed again and rested the ferrule of his umbrella on the floor in front of him. He leaned on the handle and smiled at his younger sibling. "You protect John, at whatever cost, but you deny me the same right when it comes to yourself. Not very logical, little brother." Suddenly, he straightened up, frowning. "Oh, but I have been obtuse. Of course. John doesn't know yet. And you thought I might mention it to him?"

The man in the hospital bed had begun to look tired and pained, so Mycroft reached for the button that would summon a nurse.

Sherlock slapped his hand away and said, "He'll know when I tell him. Which will be soon. Mycroft, I will neither identify her nor testify against her, so there's no point in any of this."

Holmes the elder nodded reluctantly. "Agreed. Once again, I bow to your will. There is, however, one thing I want to say."

His brother raised his eyebrows interrogatively, but the sound of hasty steps distracted both men.

A muscular individual in a black suit walked briskly to the door of the room, looked up and down the hallway in a surreptitious manner, then handed in a large flat box. Mycroft accepted the package, nodded dismissal, and the man disappeared.

"This, I believe, is your get-well-soon present," he said. "Where will you hide it?"

Sherlock grinned at him and took the box carefully in his hands. "Sometimes, brother, I do envy you your minions. For now," he peeped into the box, "it will stay right here with me. Later . . . I believe the locker behind the door will do. No one has checked it since I've been here."

"Then, get your rest and heal quickly. Oh, and . . ." Mycroft checked his watch and stepped toward the door, "brother mine, you know the difference between deducting and deduction, at least by definition."

Sherlock stopped gloating over his laptop to look at Mycroft with a slightly puzzled expression.

Speaking slowly, Mycroft said, "This isn't a case of deducting anyone. Not Mary from John. And . . ." his voice slowed even more, "not you from . . . the world. Deduction is fine, if it's drawing conclusions. If it's subtracting you, I won't have it."

Both men remained motionless for a moment longer, then Sherlock's email program pinged loudly.

"And I think that alert should be set on low," remarked Mycroft, turning towards the door.