The two remain silent, unsure of what words could ever do justice to what needed to be expressed. The Holmes brothers never did express feelings openly with one another anyways; no feelings except that of exasperation and great annoyance.

There's no annoyance now. Well, Sherlock might be annoyed that Mycroft hadn't left him to die in peace, the elder supposes, but if it's true then the younger does not show it. He doesn't show much of anything, really. There's a strange blankness in his normally piercing eyes and if the machine he is hooked to hadn't been beeping, Mycroft would have sworn that his brother is already gone.

Perhaps, he is. Perhaps he's already on his way to joining his companion, John.

Moriarty was lucky to have perished in the explosion. If he hadn't, Mycroft would have seen to it personally that the bastard died slowly, and painfully. He'd have watched the life drain from the wretched man with cold indifference, perhaps chuckling if his victim dared to beg for mercy.

But no, Moriarty had perished, as had John, and soon, so would Sherlock.

John hadn't died slowly, but it hadn't been quick either. Mycroft swallowed the lump in his throat that formed from the memory. He had reached the scene just as the paramedics were pulling his brother away from the body. Sherlock had held tight to the lifeless form, and had to be pried off. Once they had separated the body from the pale man's vice like grip, he'd been quiet and withdrawn, and didn't fight the paramedics that rushed him into an ambulance.

Shrapnel from the explosion had been embedded near John's heart; not enough for instant death, but enough to have secured his spot among the dead. From the blood that had coated Sherlock's hands, face and soaked into the white fabric of his shirt, it appeared as though he had held the doctor until John left for good. It seemed as though he hadn't noticed the shrapnel that pierced his own stomach, causing him to slowly bleed out. By the time help came, it was too late to save John, and that meant it was too late for Sherlock.

The moment the shrapnel had nearly taken John's heart, it took Sherlock's instead.

Mycroft would never forget the scene.

Now, in the oddly bright hospital room, his younger brother lay motionless in the bed, his only movement being the slow and shallow rising and falling of his chest; he was waiting. Dressed in a white hospital gown, Sherlock's ivory skin blended in and the lack of colour made the various gashes stand out far more.

The dark curls that framed his face somehow seemed darker. They reminded the elder of their father; Sherlock had inherited his hair, along with his stubbornness. Mycroft shook his head. His brother lay dying, yet his thoughts jumped to their genetics. Strange how grief affected the mind.

Mycroft didn't need the machines to know that his only remaining family member was growing weaker by the moment. Blood loss, the doctors claimed, from internal injuries, nothing could be done.

Mycroft knew better. They had no idea why he is dying. Mycroft knew.

Sherlock just didn't want to live. His closest friend, the only person he truly called friend, was gone, and he undoubtedly blamed himself.

Mycroft could have said otherwise, could have forced the doctors to keep Sherlock alive. Drugs, machines, blood transfusions, organ replacements... He could have any of it available to his brother in an instant.

There is no point.

Contrary to what his brother may have believed, he cared. Mycroft's always cared. Unfortunately, he'd never learned how to show it, so he's always done so in the ways that he could. Keeping Sherlock under surveillance, making sure he had cases to work on, and so on.

He sniffs. Lot of good the surveillance had turned out to be.

He clears his throat audibly, breaking the silence and causing Sherlock to turn his eyes. "Moriarty's dead," he announces precisely.

Sherlock manages a tiny nod. His eyes are glazed from the painkillers; Mycroft's thankful that at least he'll die without suffering, and he'll be high on a drug that the elder suspects his baby brother is no stranger to. "I know."

Mycroft nods, clearing his throat again. "Right. I... I'll see to it that you get a state funeral."

Sherlock's eyes narrow. "Don't you dare." He shifts and looks up at the ceiling. "Just bury me next to Mum and Dad. And get John the plot beside me; I might get bored otherwise."

"I don't think you realize the extent of what you and John have done. You're a hero, Sherlock, and—" He stops, noticing that his brother has broken into a fit of bitter laughter. "What, may I ask, is so funny?"

"John and I had a discussion," Sherlock answers once he has calmed, "and I told him that there were no such things as heroes. I'm certainly not one."

Mycroft scoffs. "Now, really..."

"I went after him because I was bored, Mycroft, not because I wanted to help humanity. John paid for that," Sherlock's eyes remain empty voids. "If there is a hero, it is him."

"Fair enough," Mycroft agrees. He looks down to the floor. "However, I saw from the blood patterns on your clothing that you tried to administer aid to him. There were also tiny droplets of water on John's shirt..."

"We were at a pool, Mycroft."

"No, no, it wasn't pool water. You tried to save his life, and cried when you realized you couldn't. That does make you a hero, Sherlock. You finally cared about someone besides yourself," when Mycroft looks back up, Sherlock can see that he is not the only one who will shed tears that day. "I knew you could. You are not as cold as you would like to believe."

Sherlock lowers his eyes. "Neither are you." He swallows, knowing his time is growing shorter. He can almost swear that he hears John calling his name. "I suppose..." He stops, taking a breath. "I suppose this is goodbye."

"Yes, I suppose it is," Mycroft answers.

"This time you won't be able to chase after me."

"No, I'm afraid not, not for some time. I can't afford to leave the office very long, you see. There is some pressing business these days. I'll have to cover up a nasty showdown at some pool... gas leak, likely," he declares, and his brother laughs quietly. "I believe people normally hug goodbye when they will be separated for some time."

"If we must," Sherlock answers.

The resulting embrace is awkward, Mycroft leaning down to hug Sherlock gently while doing his best to avoid the dying man's wound. He is surprised when Sherlock holds him tight and his fingers clench the jacket of Mycroft's suit. The elder strokes his brother's curls soothingly, pressing his face against them as he lets his tears fall.

It is the first time in either memory that they have ever hugged.

When they pull apart, both resume composure and ignore the other's tears.

"Give my regards to Mum and Dad, and John, of course," Mycroft says, sitting back down in his chair and ignoring the burning in his eyes.

"I'll see if I can find the time to," Sherlock answers flatly.

Mycroft takes his hand, and Sherlock squeezes back in unspoken thanks.

They stay like this until the beeping stops, and he is left as the last remaining Holmes.