Disclaimer: All original characters and such belong to the BBC.

Summary: Mycroft has always been the responsible one. But now Sherlock is responsible for his brother's life and the clock is running out.

Chronology: Sometime pre-Reichenbach

Pairings: None

Rating: T to be safe

Author's Note: This was a prompt from the wonderful Starkreactor, who wanted to see what someone could do with the idea of Mycroft being the one hurt and Sherlock having to step in to save him. Very much a flash project, so please excuse any mistakes with first aid and such.

When The Bough Breaks

Sherlock Holmes was completely out of his depth.

Well, perhaps not completely. He had knowledge of nearly everything, including some pertaining to this situation. But not nearly enough. Not when Mycroft had somehow found him while he was working undercover in a small French village, and, upon catching up to his younger brother, had almost immediately taken a bullet meant for Sherlock. And now he was laying on the ground looking un-Mycroft-like, shock etched into his features and blood oozing from a wound in his chest.

They had been arguing. Sherlock told him to go home and Mycroft refused. They hadn't gotten to the point in the conversation where his brother explained why he'd shown up at all, or how he'd gotten there, when it happened. In the moment when the assailant stepped from behind the tree and fired and Sherlock watched his brother fall, Sherlock had been in control. His thoughts worked overtime and instinct and training immediately made him go for the gun John had convinced him to acquire and he fired back and watched the assailant drop. But the second the moment ended, he was lost. He turned and Mycroft was staring up at him, his eyes begging for help. He couldn't seem to form words.

Sherlock did a quick survey of the surrounding area, checking for anyone else with or without a gun, and then dropped to his knees beside his sibling. His hands sought out the wound. "Mycroft," he said, just above a whisper.

Mycroft didn't respond, just pleaded with his eyes.

Sherlock's eyes darted around the surrounding field, desperately seeking the small shed he'd passed earlier. He found it just beyond a stand of trees and turned back to his brother, trying to ascertain just how fast blood was blooming like a big ugly flower across his white shirt. "Mycroft!" he said, sharp and urgent. His brother's eyes had begun to flutter shut and for perhaps only the second time in his life, Sherlock felt real fear. It radiated through his chest and lit up the nerves in his limbs.

Calling upon every scrap of medical knowledge he'd ever absorbed, Sherlock calculated the risk of moving Mycroft versus trying to treat his wounds out in the open. He deemed the first to be much safer, and wrapped his arms under his brother's and began to half-drag, half-carry him to the shed. He knew he had to keep him conscious, and he tried to keep talking to him, but for some reason the only thing that came out of his mouth was his brother's name, over and over again.

The shed was impossibly tiny and not terribly clean, but it had the kind of cover that at least gave him a minor tactical advantage. With some sense of safety, Sherlock turned his full attention to the wound. Small caliber bullet, high up on the chest. Shouldn't have hit the heart, shouldn't be deadly. But he was fully aware of the tangle of veins and nerves and flesh and bone, so easily damaged and destroyed. He was also fully aware of how far they were from decent medical care, and that it seemed like for once, his brother didn't have his network of people. Mycroft's eyes were shut.

"Mycroft! You need to remain conscious!" He gently shook his brother's good shoulder with one hand, using the other to stem the flow of blood from the wound. He looked around, almost frantic despite himself, looking for something to stop it up. Finding nothing, he awkwardly tugged off his jacket and then his shirt, alternating using his hands to keep pressure on the hole the bullet had left.


There was still no response. Sherlock felt for a pulse on his neck, and found one. A weak one that wasn't entirely regular. "Please Mycroft," he said, much quieter. This had never been his job. Mycroft had always, always, been the one put together and in charge, orchestrating everyone else's lives often to the point of irritation. That smug little grin had been the bane of his existence since he was a child. And yet now he'd give almost anything to see it again.

Sherlock ripped one of the sleeves off his own shirt using his free hand and his teeth. He wished he'd let John come with him, then instantaneously wondered if he still would've ended up with this set of circumstances: someone he cared about dying in front of him while he dashed through his mind palace, looking for the right pieces of information that would make a whole puzzle and show him how to fix this. The early spring evening was fairly warm, but he shivered regardless and shrugged back into what was left of his shirt. His jacket he tucked around Mycroft.

He carefully fished for the bullet inside the wound, knowing there was likely a fifty-fifty chance between the object's removal helping the situation or making it catastrophically worse, and admitted to himself that he really did care about his brother. Sherlock had never considered the term arch-enemy in regards to the two of them to be an exaggeration, and their childhood interactions could scarcely be termed any more pleasant than they were now. And yet there were moments, he thought as his fingers touched the small metal object buried in his brother's chest and he silently counted to three and eased it out to the surface. The wound bled more, but it was not the raging fountain of blood that Sherlock had feared. There were moments, he thought again as he quickly slipped the bullet in his pocket for evidence and folded up the sleeve he'd torn from his shirt and pressed it against the wound. Some few, select moments that had threatened to upset the enemy balance between them. While he considered John his one friend, a close and understanding friend, there were things even such a committed and caring man couldn't ever comprehend about the way Sherlock's world worked. For all their fights and snide comments, he and Mycroft had grown up in the same space and worked out how to deal with a world that didn't understand and often didn't appreciate them for the sharp, logical way their minds were inclined to work—the way that made their interactions with others sometimes stilted and strange as they tried to emulate or completely ignored the reactions and emotions everyone else deemed normal.

The cloth had turned red and warm with blood, but it seemed to have finally stopped the bleeding. "Mycroft?"

His brother's eyes stayed closed. Sherlock checked his pulse and found it the slightest bit stronger. The pale shade of Mycroft's skin, though, bothered him. With the initial crisis passed, he finally checked the pockets of his brother's jacket. Miraculously, there was a phone. But no bars of service blinked into being. Sherlock let a frustrated and secretly nervous sigh escape him. "Wake up," he said.

The light had begun to fade from the sky and filtered through the cracks of the wooden slats of the walls of the shed only weakly.

"Mycroft, don't make me order you."

His brother's chest continued to slowly rise and fall, but otherwise there was no response. Sherlock sat next to him, one hand still pressing down on the fabric covering the injury. As the last of the light faded from the day, he slowly let himself sink to the floor, one arm still protectively draped over his brother as he let himself succumb to sleep. He had no plan and no backup, just the insistent fact that somehow he had to fix this.

The break of dawn would have passed without Sherlock's notice if it hadn't also brought a clatter of vehicles and loud voices. Roused so suddenly from sleep, he pulled the gun and aimed it at the door on instinct, placing his body between Mycroft and whatever forces were gathering outside. The hazy fog of sleep still clouding over him, Sherlock somehow managed to take in the fact that Myrcroft's pulse was at least the same as it had been the night before. He tried to shake the stiffness from his limbs as he heard the people outside getting closer.

The door crashed open and Sherlock used every bit of coherence he had left in order to not shoot John Watson.

"Sherlock!" John said.

Sherlock couldn't form a sentence other than, "He's hurt." He gestured at his brother.

John nodded and waved at someone out of sight.

"I…" Sherlock began.

John knelt by the two of them, checking Mycroft's vitals. A second later, he nodded at his partner with a small smile. "He should be okay."

The detective didn't bother to hide his relief.

"You did good," John said.

Sherlock nodded and watched with gratitude as Mycroft began to stir.