DISCLAIMER: I do not own Sherlock Holmes or any of the affiliated characters or ideas--their creator is the remarkable Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
KS: Halloa! Welcome to the twenty-second chapter of Brother. You know what? I think I put in the intro that the last one was the twentieth again…oops.
Many thanks go to KCS, who read this the final chapter before I posted it to help me polish it off to be the best it can be for your reading enjoyment. I followed her suggestions and redid two parts a bit.
This one starts in Holmes's perspective.
Back at the station, Watson and I dried and warmed ourselves, and we were given tea and sandwiches to replenish our strength. I gave a few particulars to Lestrade when he dropped in to see about us, and in about an hour and a half we were on a train back to London. Part of me was loath to leave the scene of action, but I could not help but return to the Great City. I still felt a dire need to go and be with Mycroft, and Watson had been under enough stress to warrant a good, long rest at home.
"Holmes," Watson said as the train rattled along.
I had been thinking, but I pulled myself out of my reverie to reply.
"I shall try to be more careful in the future." He said.
I furrowed my brow.
"Watson…" I began softly, "I've already told you, it was entirely my fault. I neglected to see that Hughes was a danger to you as well. I should not have let you go out without your revolver, let alone go out alone." My eyes fell to the floor. Again the painful thought of how close I came to losing him ran through my mind.
He was the only one in the world I could trust, besides Mycroft. And soon, he would be the only one…
He was my only friend. And a better friend no one could ask for. I should have been more thoughtful.
"Watson," I started, but when I looked up, he was reclined in his seat, a peaceful smile on his face. The train had rocked him to sleep.
I smiled. I wouldn't wake him until we reached the station. He needed the rest.
Sherlock Holmes and I returned with extreme gratefulness to the comfort and safety of Baker Street. When we arrived I found to no surprise that the place was a complete and utter mess. Holmes did not offer to explain it, nor did he have to—though I could tell as Mrs. Hudson brought us our tea once we had returned that she was greatly displeased about it.
As soon as we arrived I tended more adequately to Holmes's injuries—he had sustained bruised ribs among the other bruises, and he seemed to be catching a cold from our excursion in the rain. While I saw to his battered body, he told me of his brother's condition. My heart sank.
Mycroft was…dying? And Holmes had left him to come rescue me single-handedly.
"Holmes," I said quietly, "Why did you not send the police instead and stay with Mycroft?"
"…Because, Watson, had I done that, they would have killed you before the officials could get inside. Hence, I knew I had to break in to rescue you."
I finished bandaging him up and he stood, going over to the mantelpiece to fetch a much-needed cigarette.
"I'm going to go visit him now," he said. "I cannot imagine what he will say when he sees this." he added, gingerly touching the hideous bruises on his face with a small smile as he looked into the mirror. "He hasn't seen me this bad since the Henderson-Smith counterfeiter case—before your time, I think, Watson."
His face deepened as he turned back around to face me. I could see that he was immensely concerned about his brother. He stared at the carpet thoughtfully, lighting his cigarette and sticking his free hand into his trouser pocket. He then looked up at me.
"Are you feeling up to going? You don't have to if you're still tired." he said.
"Of course," I replied. I knew he wanted me there for support, though he would not say it.
A soft smile touched his face. "Thank you." he said softly.
"Good Lord, Sherlock! What have you done now!?"
Mycroft Holmes was propped up by several pillows in his bed, looking quite pale and worn. He had sat up farther as he saw his brother and I enter, his eyes widening somewhat, but by the look on his face I saw that this was not entirely unexpected.
"I've rescued Watson, Mycroft," Holmes replied, as if his appearance was commonplace.
Indeed, I wondered at how many times Mycroft had to keep Holmes out of trouble when they were lads—surely this lack of concern for his own safety was no new thing. I nearly laughed at the thought. The turn of my friend's face from jesting to sombre kept me from doing so, however.
"Brother, how are you feeling?" Holmes asked.
"Other than having a bit of pain from being injected so many times in the—" Mycroft settled his rising agitation before resuming his statement, "Other than a little soreness, I feel fine, Sherlock."
Holmes did not look convinced.
"Really, Mycroft," he said softly. "How are you?"
Mycroft let a small smile spread across his great face.
"I think you will be happy to know that the pains I've received because of the inoculations weren't in vain," he said. "They say that I shall make a full recovery."
I have never seen such joy sweep over my friend's face in my life. I shall never forget how a tinge of colour rose to his thin, bruised, and sallow cheeks, and how that smile spread so thoroughly across his sharp features, from his face to his eyes.
He quickly stepped across the room over to his older brother, as effusive as I've ever seen him.
"Mycroft, that's—That's wonderful!" he said.
The look of utter happiness and surprise lessened, but the tight smile, dancing eyes, and coloured cheeks still spoke of immense relief.
"Yes, it is." Mycroft said, smiling at both the news and his brother's actions. "I don't know what they would have done at Whitehall without me."
Holmes chuckled at that.
"Indeed." he said. "They would be forced to use their heads, and government officials, as I understand, aren't generally used to that."
It was Mycroft's turn to laugh.
It was a warm scene as the two Holmes brothers conversed. They did not let their full relief and thankfulness show, but one who knew their ways knew it was there.
I was unspeakably relieved at Mycroft's statement. I had recovered Watson, and now my doomed brother had been recovered as well. I could not stand the thought of losing either of them.
"So, Doctor," Mycroft said, looking Watson over. "It seems you fared better than Sherlock, and you were the one captured!"
"Well, Holmes was captured, too, but he managed to free us. It was quite a feat." Watson said admiringly. "He even took a beating just to acquire the necessary piece to cut through the ropes that held us."
I could not bear to tell Watson that he was captured solely to be bait to draw me to Hughes's estate. I had found that out from Hughes's own vile lips before he took me to see him. Watson, if he knew, would never forgive himself, and might try to separate himself from me so as to not endanger me like that again.
I did not want to lose him. So, I would not tell him.
Mycroft looked at me with a slightly raised brow. He had deduced Hughes's reason for capturing Watson, then. I sent a silent facial reply to my brother—and he understood.
Watson did not notice our unspoken discourse, and I was again thankful that he was not as perceptive as I. He was happy that we were safe, and he would remain that way.
Mycroft coughed harshly, but it did not sound nearly as bad as it had when I left a few days ago. He looked up at us with his great grey, watery eyes.
"I am still possibly contagious, Sherlock. And you are not in any condition to be around me, for I perceive you are rather congested yourself." he said.
I cleared my throat lightly. Watson had said I might be catching cold, and I started to think he was right.
"I suppose not." I said with a slight smile. "Come, Watson. I think we could both rather use some rest, and I know brother Mycroft does for sure."
And once again, we set off for Baker Street, to readily await the next adventure we would be thrust into.
One Month Later
Holmes threw the newspaper bitterly across the room with an oath. I looked up, surprised at my companion's strange behaviour.
"What is it, Holmes?" I asked.
Holmes had sunk broodingly into his chair, his chin resting on his fist as he stared into the fire.
"It is Hughes." He replied. "His sentence is only life imprisonment."
I dropped my teacup, which spilt all over the table.
"H-how?" I gasped. "Surely the evidence—"
"The evidence," Holmes sighed, "was mostly destroyed. Gone. After we had made our escape, Hughes's men burned many of his papers. And as I said before, my case was not complete. So with our kidnapping, the loss of the papers, and much money at his back….they could not get a jury to convict him of everything."
He was quiet a moment.
"Many of his men had enough evidence against them to be hung. The rest were sentenced to hard labour."
I could not believe my ears. The man that was so devilish, so evil, would not see the gallows.
"At least, Watson," Holmes began as if to answer my thoughts, "He will rot in gaol. And, for a proud man like Hughes…perhaps that is a fate worse than death."
And that seemed to be the end of the singular Jackson Hughes affair, which very nearly cost us both of our lives.
Little did I know that it wasn't the last time we were destined to hear that name.
KS: There it is, the end!
I dearly hope you enjoyed! I know I had fun reading the reviews! So, review, please! Tell me what you thought of it all!
And if I can get out of this artist's block, I shall have a few illustrations at my DeviantART account!