Spoilers for 2010 BBC Sherlock – the entire season.
It seems everyone under the sun is writing a post-The Great Game fan fiction and I don't want to be left out in the cold!
Here is my version of events set right after the cliffhanger end of The Great Game.
Thank you to Sundae Girl for the beta!
Disclaimer: The BBC owns this version of Sherlock Holmes and its characters. I'm just playing in Steven Moffat's pool. Get it? Pool? Terrible, terrible pun…
A Protective Streak
Icy fear gripped John Watson. They were safe. Moriarty left. The snipers left. Everyone left. Sherlock secured the outer area of the pool, John made a silly joke and they laughed. They were just laughing…
Then he was back. John couldn't remember what Moriarty said, the adrenaline that had dissipated so quickly he'd sunk to his knees, now replaced by a fresh, cold supply.
His heart pounded in his ears.
Sherlock had his gun again.
He'd never put it away. He was just scratching his head with it. John hadn't even had time to reprimand him for such a careless move.
Moriarty was back.
The red dots were back.
Death taunting them was back.
But Sherlock wasn't pointing the gun at Moriarty. With a quick, measured glance at John, he'd turned around and lowered the weapon, aiming it at the bomb. The bomb Sherlock had torn off John's back and slid across the floor.
Moriarty stood there, smiling. His hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his heels like he hadn't a care in the world.
Maybe he hadn't. A true madman.
There was Sherlock, unflappable. Sporting his own collection of red dots as though his shirt had contracted chicken pox. He didn't look at them. He was as steady as Moriarty. More so. Moriarty was daring and wiggly while Sherlock just stood there aiming at the bomb.
If he shot Moriarty, the snipers would take them both out.
If he shot the bomb, the building would fall on them.
If he did nothing, the snipers would take them out.
What could they do?
John was at a complete loss. He had no gun, no bomb, no snipers at his disposal, not even a phone. He felt more trapped than moments ago when that bomb was strapped to his chest.
John Watson had no leverage. He was at the mercy of two madmen.
And then Sherlock cocked his head to the side. Just when Moriarty looked at John, John looked at Sherlock and Sherlock tilted his head half an inch.
It was enough.
When you face death, at an alarming frequency, with the man you live with, you can speak volumes with a barely perceptible raised eyebrow or slight curl of the lip.
Sherlock meant to shoot the bomb and they were to jump into the safety of the water.
That might work if the building wouldn't fall on top of them.
John shot back his own message with slightly widened eyes: No way.
Moriarty laughed, flinging his head back with all the drama of a bored Sherlock. That's when John realized he wasn't at ease, lackadaisical, rocking on his heels, hands in pockets. He was slowly inching toward the door.
If Moriarty got out that door, the snipers would kill them before Sherlock's finger could squeeze the trigger.
John glanced at the pool.
He licked his dry lips.
The blood pounded through his head.
They had no choice.
They couldn't let Moriarty get away.
He was mad.
He would kill again.
No matter the cost, they were the only ones in the world who could stop him. Now. They both knew it. He sensed that Moriarty knew it, too.
There was no choice in the matter.
Sherlock was going to blow them up.
And then he did.
Sherlock was ready.
The game had come to an end.
His heart pounded in his chest but he showed no outward appearance of nerves.
It wouldn't do.
It was unnecessary.
This was a logic puzzle and nothing more. Survival instinct need not apply, he had it all worked out. He and John could make it to the pool. The bomb was between Moriarty and the water, there was no out for him. Sherlock wouldn't have told John the odds he calculated concerning their own survival. Suffice it to say, they had a chance. Doing nothing was certain death. Moriarty meant to kill them, here and now. He came back to do it.
Sherlock would go under his own terms.
He wasn't about to change the habit of a lifetime now.
He also knew John was apprehensive about being buried under water.
People could last for days under rubble, it has happened.
But under water? Minutes at most.
It wasn't a pleasant thought and he wouldn't let John dwell on it.
He pulled the trigger and John was barreling into him as the detonation of the bomb rocked the building and cracked through the air, swallowing the sound of multiple gunshots.
But what hurt?
It was burning.
What was burning?
Had he taken the force of the blast? He had been facing the bomb.
No, he didn't feel ripped apart.
Had he been hit by a sniper bullet?
No, he didn't feel as though he was leaking blood.
But he was wet.
His chest still hurt.
Did something slam into it? Part of the roof?
It was lack-of-oxygen-burning.
He wasn't breathing.
But he was thinking.
Was that normal?
His limbs floated around him.
He was underwater.
Perhaps survival instinct was a welcome companion after all.
He kicked up.
Was it up?
His head broke the surface of the water.
Sherlock hauled his weakened body out of the damaged swimming pool and managed to get to his feet.
Gasping for air, he took in the room. The building was a wreck. It no longer looked like a pool. It was a bunch of concrete slabs and steel beams crisscrossed in a jumbled fashion. He could hardly see through the smoke and dust and realized he could barely breathe any better up here than under the water. He dropped to his knees, his body compelling him to conserve strength.
Then it clicked.
Where was he?
Sherlock forced his head up.
His blood ran cold in that impossibly hot shell of a room.
The pool was covered in concrete and beams, plaster and tile. Every part of the water was blocked but the little patch he'd miraculously emerged from.
A gray mist swirled in front of his eyes and he waved the dust and smoke away but there was nothing there.
His knees buckled and the next thing he remembered, he was lying on his side, a horrible buzzing in his ear.
Something was wrong. He hadn't catalogued any injuries but he deduced he had them.
The blood on his hand gave at least one away. He traced it to a cut on his head. Good. Head wounds bled profusely. The severity of the injury could not be established by the amount of blood present. John would know better. It was probably nothing but a cut. He began to feel pain. He had many cuts and bruises.
He couldn't move; he was surrounded. The destruction of the bomb created a number of caves and caverns made of destroyed remnants of the building. He was surrounded by the wreckage. John could be in any one of them. Or under…
He saw movement out of the corner of his eye but his blurry brain recognized the danger before his voice could call for help.
Five men crawled through the rubble. Sherlock wedged himself deeper into a crevice made by intersecting slabs of concrete, careful not to move while they faced in his direction.
They were armed to the teeth and shouting frantically where the corner door used to be.
Sherlock heard no sound.
He tapped a long, white finger on a steel beam next to him. He heard nothing.
Temporary deafness caused by close proximity to the blast.
He hoped it was temporary.
He tried to calculate the odds but his brain kept sending back the answer: hairless cat.
That wasn't a good sign.
The five men, mouths flapping constantly, focused their search on the one corner, treading on slabs, climbing all over the rubble.
Rescue teams would never do that.
Rescue teams didn't carry automatic weapons.
These were the snipers with the dancing dots.
And they were searching for Moriarty.
A cold blackness overcame him, his last thought was the hope that he'd hidden himself well enough and that John wasn't…
John felt nothing but the cold depths of the hot water. Which made no sense. What did make sense was the need for air. He'd tumbled into Sherlock, sending him into the pool but miscalculated the trajectory and fallen short of the water himself. He'd scrambled and launched himself a second time and felt the heat and the blast before hitting the water.
Then everything hit him.
Chunks of ceiling and plaster and spikes careened through the water, searching for him. He was sure to be cut by metal or slammed by debris.
He was spared in Afghanistan to be killed in a darkened swimming pool. His death certificate would read 'Speared by towel bar'.
One name kept entering his thoughts: Sherlock. But he couldn't concentrate on helping him until he sorted this mess out. First things first: air. He needed some and he needed it now.
He swam up; it had to be up, right? It was dark and confusing. The top of his head bumped against something. Okay, not up. He went sideways to his previous direction. Concrete. He went in the opposite direction; blocked.
Panic and lack of air squeezed his terrified brain but he forced himself to think. He was a soldier. He was a doctor. Training prepared him for those moments when you think or die.
He went limp and let his body float up.
But again, there was no surface, just concrete. He scraped his fingers against it. He clawed and struggled, swimming for his life and just as his lungs demanded air and was about to suck in the deadly water, he broke the surface and inhaled plaster.
He knew the taste.
The wonderful taste of plaster mixed with evil chlorine from his lips; his treacherous lungs gasping in copious amounts of the poisonous air.
He scanned his surroundings but all he saw was darkness. Pushing against the slabs trapping him in the water, he ignored the ache in his shoulder. The slabs wouldn't shift. He couldn't see for the darkness and felt his way around. He was shut up on all sides.
All of a sudden he screamed. He screamed for all he was worth but the cocoon of concrete soaked up his voice as though hungry for more.
He wasn't saved after all.
He'd found an air pocket. How long before his greedy lungs robbed the area of precious oxygen? How long before a search and rescue team would be scrambled? How long before they would find him? How long had it been?
What could he do? Try to dive and search for an open area in which to scramble out of the pool? What if the entire pool was covered? What if this air pocket was the only one available? What if he searched for another and came up empty – could he find his way back to his one? In the dark? In the confusion? In time?
If this was his fate…what of Sherlock?
Had John failed him?
They were out of tea. He forgot to tell John to pick some up on his way out. Ugh! He hadn't forgotten, he'd offered to pick up something. And beans. John had clearly asked for beans. Sherlock just wanted him out of the way and didn't want him coming back before he left for the pool. He never actually meant to do any shopping.
John should pick up the tea. Sherlock had to do all the domestic stuff. Reminding John to pick up beans so John could make dinner for them, reminding John to pick up cleaning supplies so John could scrub down the kitchen after Sherlock's latest experiments, reminding John to pick up some wallpaper paste so John could fix the living room - it took up too much space in his brain. Space reserved for solving complex puzzles.
Plus, all that nonsense was boring.
The sofa was lumpy. Sharp. Had he fallen asleep without the cushions again?
He opened his eyes. It hurt. They were crusted at the edges and his eyes burned. The air had gone bad.
He heard a voice.
He wasn't at the flat.
Wait – he could hear a voice. That was good!
Except he couldn't make out words. And the voices were getting closer. The voices attached to sniper rifles. They were urgent and frantic. Had they found Moriarty? Were they searching for him now? Searching for him. To kill him. To kill John. He had to stop them, he had to. It was the only thing he had left.
A hand touched his wrist. He'd been careless. His hand must have rolled out of his hiding space, exposing him. He couldn't see with his stinging eyes and his hearing was muffled, that ringing drowning out everything but the odd string of words here or there. Forceful fingers clutched his wrist, hard.
"I've got him. He's trapped!"
Sherlock Holmes was not trapped. He'd lodged himself in and could just as easily leap out.
Well, perhaps not leap.
He could barely force his fingers to move. The hand of the sniper tightened its grip and Sherlock gathered every ounce of strength he possessed. He shifted his body to the correct angle and threw a punch that caught his target by surprise. The man released his wrist with a cry and fell back. He heard the satisfying creaks of rubble as the sniper fell hard.
He scrabbled out of his hole and threw himself on the man and took his gun. He swung it around to the others but couldn't see. He aimed high, meaning to spray the area and scare them so he could assess the situation and bolt. He didn't want to hurt John.
A voice called out. "Oh my god!"
But he couldn't follow through. He couldn't see and he couldn't make his fingers work; he couldn't pull the trigger. There was only one thing for it – he ran with all his might.
Shouts of surprise followed him. He made out a quick, "Stop him!" He stumbled. His ears buzzed and sound began to fade even further into the background. "Hurt…Sherlock!"
He recognized the voice but he had trouble placing it. He racked his muddled brain. It wasn't a sniper. It was Moriarty. He used his first name tauntingly.
They were going to kill him. He had to get out of there. Again, his legs buckled as he desperately made his way through the wreckage. His knee scraped against a sharp edge. He gasped in agony.
His brain refused to process what his five senses were exposed to. The only awareness he had was of pain and panic and helplessness. A light feeling in his knees took him down as though he was falling in the water again.
"Where are they?" Lestrade stormed up to the thin man in the impeccable suit. "You're the one that arranged all this?" He pointed to the search and rescue people climbing into the remains of the building.
The man moved his unopened umbrella to his left hand and offered his right. "Mycroft Holmes. I don't know where they are."
Lestrade knew who he was. "But you know they're here?"
"Somewhere in there."
Lestrade studied Sherlock's brother. On closer examination, his suit was not impeccable. It wasn't even clean, it was covered in a light dust and his thin face was smudged. He'd been described to him before; sophisticated, unmoved, more emotionless and uninvolved than Sherlock himself. Either these were exaggerations or Mycroft Holmes was worried and unaccustomed to the feeling.
"I'm going back in."
"Wait." Lestrade grabbed his sleeve. Mycroft Holmes focused on him again. His eyes were dark, his expression harsh but Lestrade could see the weariness. "Fill me in. Let me help."
"Sherlock set up a meeting with the bomber and Dr. Watson is never far behind him. He missed a date without calling and no one can reach him. Ergo, they are both inside."
"He did what?"
The eyes blazed under the cool exterior. "It doesn't matter at the moment."
Lestrade examined the mess again then looked back at Mycroft Holmes. He was about to say something but stopped.
The man's face contorted into a grimace of pure frustration. "We have two search and rescue teams and an ambulance here but they're all useless if we don't find them in time!" He blinked and the passionless expression set back in place. He focused on Lestrade and raised his head at a haughty angle. Lestrade got the impression he used that many times in his government dealings. "We just got here." His voice was level. "I called you in because of your connection with my brother."
Connection? He meant friendship, Lestrade thought. Mycroft Holmes was detached but knew Lestrade wasn't. Which meant Mycroft Holmes wasn't. His jaw was set hard against the clear night sky but his body slumped. Every mask the man wore was slipping.
"Search and rescue can handle this, of course." Mycroft Holmes gave the demolished building one of those haughty gazes. "I come out to observe sometimes. Make sure things are running efficiently."
"You don't have to keep up appearances with me. He's your brother."
His head snapped back down and he fixed him with a piercing stare. "I'm doing no such thing, Inspector. My brother is always getting into trouble. Self-induced, self-inflicted or asked for. He runs the gamut. I'm quite used to it." He picked a fleck of dirt off his suit coat, unconcerned.
"Okay, Mr Holmes."
"You may refer to me as Mycroft lest things get confusing. Please don't think me rude, Inspector but I'm ending this conversation."
Lestrade followed him into the rubble. It was horrible from the inside. Chunks of concrete, broken tiles and twisted metal mingled with pieces of floor and ceiling. Exposed wires snaked in and out of bits of plastic and plaster. To think there were people trapped somewhere under this wreckage. Good people. Friends. The smell was unbearable. The air was thick with smoke and particles and he started coughing, gagging.
Mycroft examined the debris with a practiced though worried eye. He froze.
"What is it?" Lestrade followed his line of sight but saw nothing. He turned back and that's when he caught something out of the corner of his eye.
Mycroft made a beeline for a particular spot, climbing over debris as though it were level ground. Suddenly, he dropped. "Here! He's over here!"
"Where?" One of the people on the search team asked, the others glancing over.
Lestrade pointed at one man to follow, the others to keep searching. They made their way to Mycroft. "Who is it?" He peered past Mycroft and saw a body. He wore a dirty suit, tall and lean, topped by a familiar mop of dark, curly hair. He wasn't moving. A pale hand, barely visible in the thick air, dangled on top of a crushed stone.
Mycroft reached over and pressed trembling fingers against the wrist. He stopped breathing. A few seconds later, Mycroft sagged in relief. He closed a hand around the wrist as he maneuvered his own body over the rubble to get closer to the covered opening. He tripped and grasped Sherlock's wrist tightly, as if he would lose him if he let go. "I've got him. He's trapped!"
Sherlock's scraped, pale fingers twitched.
"He's alive," Lestrade whispered.
"Of course he is." Mycroft clutched his brother even tighter. "He's moving."
Suddenly, Sherlock threw a fist and punched his brother on the jaw.
Mycroft let him go and slipped backwards off the mountain of rubble with a cry and a crack.
Sherlock shot out of the little hole and pounced on Mycroft, snatching his umbrella and swinging it around to point at the search and rescue team.
Lestrade was slow to react. He didn't know what to do. Sherlock's face and hair were covered in a white powder, trickles of blood splotching his pale skin. His damp clothes were torn, ripped to shreds in some places, and wet strands of curly hair plastered against his forehead. He was shaking as if cold, looking half-wet, half-dry but Lestrade attributed it to shock. The cut on his forehead and bruise on his face hinted at a head injury. It was the eyes that confirmed it. They were heavily-lidded but even in the dim lighting he could see nothing but bloodshot, rapidly blinking, dull eyes.
There was always a fire in those eyes; arrogance, pride, excitement. Even when Sherlock was bored, the hint of some sinister act he was about to commit shone in his eyes. Now they registered fear and confusion. There was no hint of recognition. "Oh my god," Lestrade uttered.
Sherlock's fingers were twisting the umbrella, pointing it above their heads. With a frustrated grunt, he threw it down and turned to run.
"Stop him!" Lestrade climbed over rubble but the team was slow. They didn't know who might lie beneath what part.
"He'll hurt himself! Sherlock, stop!"
Sherlock pitched to the side as though one leg was caught. He tried to right himself. He clawed at the wreckage and pulled himself forward but he cried out in pain. Then he sagged, his knees sunk into the debris, his upper body slumped forward and his arms fell in front of him. He didn't move after that.
Lestrade was about to leap across to him but a groan made him stop. Two of the team was almost on top of Sherlock. They would take care of the unconscious Holmes; he forced himself to concentrate on the groaning one. He moved a few steps forward and knelt down. "Mycroft?" He lay on his side, slowly twisting onto his back. Lestrade placed a hand on his elbow.
Mycroft groaned in response.
"Hey, are you all right?" It was a stupid question, one of the stupidest the human race came up with, but a necessary one. He was dazed. The question was a source of focus.
"Go after him." Mycroft's voice was raw and soft.
"He's being taken care of. Are you all right?"
Mycroft opened his eyes and brought a hand to his chin. "What a stupid question."
"Yes, I know. Did he hit you hard?"
"No," he said indignantly, struggling to sit up.
Lestrade put his hands on his back and helped him stand.
"Thank you, Inspector. I'm quite all right." He brushed his suit down as if it wasn't covered in a thick layer of grime and stepped over to his umbrella and picked it up. He was disheveled; his hair out of place, a red welt was forming on the left side of his jaw and his umbrella was snapped in two places. Yet he looked for all the world as though he were going for a dignified stroll through the park. He used the excuse of massaging his jaw to glance over at his brother, as if an excuse was needed. "He'll be sorry he missed that."
"Punching me. He's out of his mind, poor man. Must have thought I was one of the bomber's men."
"One of the snipers?"
Lestrade nodded toward the team by the corner. "He's your brother."
Mycroft flashed him a look that stated, very clearly, you're an idiot. "Yes, I know, Lestrade. Perhaps you'd better step outside for some fresh air."
Lestrade sighed. "I meant you should go to him."
"There is no need. He's in good hands." Mycroft picked at his suit again and smoothed his hair. He kept staring at the activity surrounding his brother.
The two search and rescue members finished examining Sherlock and carefully set about picking him up. Lestrade hoped that meant he didn't have any broken bones or ribs, though that cut and bruise on his face and forehead didn't bode well. Not with the confusion he displayed.
"Stop." Mycroft pushed past him. "No, no, no. That's not how you raise an unconscious man. You must support his head. Move. Let me." He replaced one of the team and looped his hand around Sherlock's waist, draping a limp arm over his shoulder. "You. Go help find John Watson and be quick about it. Any time he has is running out."
Mycroft adjusted his hold on Sherlock and sent the second man to the same task. "Go. Sherlock's found. I'll take him outside. Locate Dr. Watson and so help me he better be alive."
And with that threat, for it was a threat, he half-carried, half-dragged his brother from the shambles.
Mycroft waited impatiently as the paramedics cleaned Sherlock up. They bandaged him, took all sorts of readings and wrapped him in a hideous blanket. He believed the exact shade was called Revolting Orange, ensuring no one would steal it.
One of the paramedics tried to address Mycroft's jaw but he waved him away. His mouth was still a bit numb from the dentist. The pain would be ten times worse for the assault when it wore off but he would deal with that when it happened. He forbade them from administering any drugs to Sherlock. Then they argued for a total of seven seconds as to his brother's destination. He won, of course and they were well on their way to 221B Baker Street before Sherlock began to stir. His head lolled to the side and he fell asleep on Mycroft's shoulder in the backseat.
He had cuts and bruises, lacerations and a concussion and he was in shock. He looked much worse than his injuries would indicate but the man ate so little and barely slept when on a case. His recovery would be hampered by the mistreatment of his body. Drugs would only worsen the recovery time, not help it. And Sherlock would never forgive him if he let drugs into his system.
This had been a particularly grueling investigation and Sherlock even managed to find the Bruce-Partington plans in between handling the bomb threats. The bomb puzzles. In truth, it was a miracle. Mycroft had glanced out the window as his driver took them from the bombsite. He refused to think about John Watson. If only one man was allowed to live through that…It wasn't the first time he'd have been accused of selfishness and it wouldn't be the last.
They pulled up to the familiar dwelling. Even though Sherlock had only recently moved in, Mycroft was quite used to the street. He'd kept an eye on Mrs Hudson for years and made sure she was comfortable and safe.
Wordlessly, the driver helped Mycroft carry Sherlock up to the flat, one step at a time. It was slow work and they made sure not to aggravate the injuries or wake him. Mycroft would do that when Sherlock was safe in bed and could promptly fall back asleep. Not when he could put up a fight in confusion and throw him or his driver down the stairs.
They held onto Sherlock tightly. Mycroft never remembered how thin his brother was until they were in this situation. Standing tall and arrogant, Sherlock never seemed vulnerable or frail. But when limp and lifeless, resembling a rag doll…
They brought him up the steps and Sherlock's head rested on Mycroft's shoulder as he got the key and unlocked the door. The flat was warm and he was glad he sent the men to fix the windows tonight. Sherlock may have declined a knighthood, again, but he couldn't object to replacing blown out windows in this cold weather.
They shuffled an unresponsive Sherlock to his bedroom. Mycroft removed the blanket. Gently, they deposited the lanky man on the bed. Mycroft held him in a sitting position, Sherlock's arms dangling in front of him. The clothing made him a dismal figure. That was it. After he got him into fresh pyjamas, he might resemble the more normal, lively Sherlock.
Mycroft steeled himself for the daunting task ahead. It was of a private nature. Nothing said 'vulnerable' more than changing someone's clothes for them. "Thank you, Mr Rickston. You may return to your normal duties." Mycroft was tired. Drained. He never liked to think of his brother as a burden per se but he took a lot of energy. Mycroft sighed.
The driver brought his eyes down to meet Mycroft's for the first time. And then he pulled the covers off the bed and drew out a pair of pyjamas.
Mycroft unbuttoned Sherlock's torn suit coat and the other man drew it off him. Mycroft's fingers fumbled as he unbuttoned Sherlock's shirt, exposing purple bruises, red scratches, bandages and pale skin.
The driver fluffed out the pyjamas.
Mycroft was glad of the help. Sherlock stirred throughout the process and flapped his limbs a few times but he didn't put up a struggle or awaken. They tucked his legs under the covers.
"Thank you, Mr Rickston. You may go."
The driver regarded him for a few seconds. "We drew lots, Sir. To drive you there tonight." At the look Mycroft gave him, he added, "I won, Sir."
Mycroft maintained his composure as usual. The driver set a small suitcase next to the dresser and departed, closing the flat door softly behind him. Mycroft checked the case. Inside, there was a change of clothes and a new umbrella. He brought a shaky hand to his head and wiped the sweat away. This evening had been terribly unusual. Awkward.
It'd been a while since Sherlock was like this. Unconscious – not injured.
Mycroft was used to hiding his help. No one knew the number of times he sat at his brother's bedside at the rehab hospitals; not even Sherlock knew. He used to check his IV and harass the staff but he paid them well and they kept to themselves and kept the confidences. He used to hold his hand. Push the sweaty strands of hair off his face. Sherlock needed a brother then; whether he knew it or not.
But this was different. He wasn't…sick. He wasn't detoxing. He wasn't slipping away. He didn't need a brother now and somehow, brushing the matted hair from his ashen face didn't seem appropriate.
Sherlock was a man who'd been injured trying to stop a homicidal maniac. While he could have chosen a dozen better ways to do so, his heart was in the right place. His brain wasn't. He was arrogant. Mycroft knew that without knowing the whole story. The website told him that much. 'The pool. Midnight'. Aside from Carl Powers' murderer, Mycroft would be the only one to know which pool.
He remembered Carl Powers; the boy Sherlock raised a fuss about. No one listened to him. Mycroft did. He told him never to give up even when no one took notice. This was before their petty feud. Twenty years later and Sherlock solved the death. Sherlock had listened to him; he never gave up. He based his whole career on not giving up. Part of Sherlock's brilliance was the fact he didn't think himself capable of losing. He didn't waste time worrying about his gifts – he simply used them.
None of that mattered now. Sherlock was hurt. But he was here. Safe.
Mycroft couldn't stand looking at that pasty face with the dark curls lying over it. No one was around. He reached over and pushed the curls to the side.
Sherlock reacted to his touch. "Hmmm…"
"No, Sherlock. It's Mycroft."
Sherlock's eyes were clamped shut but he still managed to furrow his brow. "My…Mycroft…What happened?"
His words were slurred, his breathing sluggish. Mycroft did not like that. "You were blown up, Sherlock."
"Oh…Right…I can't…can't see."
"Your eyes are closed."
"Hmmm…" He moved his head again but didn't open his eyes. "You think…yer…so smart."
"You're at home."
Mycroft watched him. His voice grew softer, lighter before he stopped altogether. He thought Sherlock had fallen asleep but his lips moved again. "Are…you…s-spying…on…m-me?"
Mycroft didn't know when 'protective' turned to 'spying' in Sherlock's mind but it was around the time the feud started. When Sherlock was old enough, smart enough, they'd had a friendly rivalry. Healthy competitiveness. One-upping each other. It made them both better men. It had been fun. It had staved off the crushing boredom he felt before his brother was born but Sherlock…Sherlock became self-destructive. The fun relationship of the brothers became one of caregiver and victim. Unwanted caregiver and rather pathetic victim. How pedestrian.
Resentment was born, on both sides.
Sherlock was selfish to partake of those activities. So utterly selfish. He made Mycroft feel as alone as Sherlock whined he felt. Somehow, somewhere along the way the brothers lost each other and so, the only men on earth who understood what it was like to have these brains. These unending minds. The cravings. The hunger for fuel, for puzzles, for distraction. Mycroft created his job in the government and now people referred to him as the government. Sherlock thoughtlessly imploded in on himself. He'd been no use to anyone.
But he was clean now. He was even nearly off the nicotine patches.
Sherlock stirred again. "J-john?"
Dr John Watson was the last influence Sherlock needed to turn everything around and make his life worth something. From the moment his hand didn't shake when any other man might concentrate on not wetting himself, Mycroft knew John Watson would give his brother a run for his money.
"That is correct." Indeed. Mycroft's lips twitched. The moment he became a brother, everything changed. Sherlock brought out that protective streak in people. He saw it come out immediately in John Watson. Mycroft ended up turning it into a career. First he reveled in protecting his baby brother and eventually it grew – shifted – to whole nations of people.
Not that it was all daisies and teddy bears. Not by a long shot. But it was born of this need to protect. To keep people safe.
And now he was back to where it began. Keeping Sherlock safe was more important than the rest of the world.
Something was bothering Sherlock. He wasn't sleeping and wouldn't heal if he didn't get this off his chest. Mycroft sighed and kept his voice light. "Yes, Sherlock?"
"Yes, I'm here."
Mycroft stared at him. What had Sherlock done? It crossed his mind this might be a private conversation but Sherlock was delirious and wouldn't remember any of it anyway. If something was so important it couldn't wait, it was interrupting his rest, then he needed to be rid of it. He waited for his brother to continue.
"About the bomb?"
"I shot…it. I…blew…us…up."
Well, now, that was unexpected news. "It's okay, Sherlock."
Ah-ha. The good doctor was the fifth pip. That was not good news. Not at all. "It's not your fault."
Sherlock turned his head again, in agitation. "Course not."
Same old Sherlock, even unconscious. Was he done or was there more?
"I didn't think…really…I didn't…"
Mycroft had no idea what he was referring to. Sherlock never 'didn't think'. When he was young, he would climb into Mycroft's bed in the middle of the night due to a nightmare. The dreams themselves didn't frighten the child, he was disturbed by the idea of dreams. Who was at the helm? Who took over his thoughts? What if he couldn't gain back the control of his brain in the morning?
"I was…I was…pro…cess…processsss…."
"Processing what, Sherlock?"
"I saw your face, John."
He was getting stronger. He even blinked a few times. He was getting frantic, his frustration giving him strength. "My face?"
"I didn't think…you couldn't…" His eyes slid shut again. "I never thought it was you."
"What was me?" Mycroft spoke softly. He didn't want Sherlock to wake up talking to John and Mycroft was there. Especially since John's condition was still not ascertained. Wait – where was his phone?
"I was talking…to the bommer…somewhere…then…you wallllked…in…I didn't…see….the…wires." Sherlock sunk deeper into the pillow, his strength failing him. Yet he continued. "I processssed every…conceivable…sit…sit…u…"
Sherlock didn't respond. So he told the bomber to meet him at the pool, he spoke to thin air, to the bomber, then John appeared. For a split second, Sherlock must have entertained the thought that John Watson was the bomber. Sherlock must have shown some sign of feeling betrayed or it wouldn't be bothering him now.
If Sherlock was fully conscious, Mycroft couldn't see him having this conversation with John Watson. Was it one they would have to have? If John Watson was still alive – would he feel betrayed at Sherlock's passing thought? Sherlock had been betrayed many times in his life; a much different life to what John Watson had experienced. Dr Watson was a soldier. He needed to rely on strangers in the heat of battle but those strangers were trained just like him. On the same side, just like him. There was no room for the thought of betrayal on the battlefield. But it was different in London. There was a reason Sherlock set himself up as a consulting detective, creating the job from thin air. He didn't play well with others. Would John Watson realize that? Would he accept it?
Now back in England, setting up as a doctor again, strapped to a bomb to threaten and control Sherlock – and Sherlock thought he was behind the murders. Did John recognize Sherlock's apprehension? Did he see the flash of betrayal for the split second before it was vanquished by logic? It wouldn't have been logic but faith. Loyalty even. Sherlock Holmes trusted John Watson almost from the moment he met him. It was as strange as John Watson's instantaneous need to protect him. Could that slip ruin them?
Mycroft would guess yes, if Sherlock's delirious behavior was anything to judge by.
They'd already been through so much together but they'd only known each other for such a short period of time. What would become of them?
Why didn't he have word? The waiting was agonizing, though better than confirmation of the worst news. He checked his phone. It had been on silent. He swore to himself and checked his messages. One after another about the search teams efforts concerning John Watson. It was painfully slow to get through them. He wanted to skip to the last one but was afraid he'd be unable to handle it without the preparation of the others…just in case the worst had happened.
His own eyes felt heavy as his own adrenaline left his bloodstream. He shut his phone. He slid forward in the chair, resting his hands on the handle of the new umbrella. When did he pull that out? He watched his brother in a restless sleep. Sherlock lay there, naive of the cruel world, of the worry. His breathing was quick and uneven but his gray face was tranquil. Still.
The weak voice made him jump. He didn't remember resting his head on the mattress. He didn't remember falling asleep. Sherlock still refused to open his eyes. Had he dreamt Sherlock calling for him?
He clutched his brother's limp hand. "I'm here."
Sherlock's bruised fingers tightened around his hand and Sherlock's breathing relaxed a little. He sounded sleepier than ever. "Weere'ssss…Johnnn."
Mycroft smiled. He would get to tell Sherlock more than once as he doubted he would remember asking when he awoke in the morning. "He'll be home soon."
"Tell himmm…telll…pick up…sommme tea…"
Mad bombers. Blown up buildings. A destroyed pool. Punching brothers who'd just had root canals. Betrayal of best friends. And now Sherlock decided to be domestic?
Mycroft sat back in his chair, still holding on to his brother, and laughed heartily.
Author's Note: I hope you liked my little addition to the Post-The Great Game family of fan fiction! I've enjoyed reading so many of yours and could not resist adding my own to the vast awesomeness of the hurt/comfort stories. I can't wait for the BBC's premiere of Season Two - which will send all of our stories to AU! (It will in no way detract from our enjoyment, I suspect.)