Chance Encounter

One Shot [un Beta-ed]

By: Sophie Quinn

Twitter: Quinnzical_

Many people commented on the positive influence that John had over Sherlock. Sometimes they said it aloud, sometimes it was whispered once the pair had left the room sharing quiet jokes and faint smiles. Most of the time, however, it was typed in specially cyphered emails addressed to Mycroft Holmes. There were seventy six of the cryptic messages saved in a folder simply marked 'Sherlock', and in between saving the known world and equally plotting to destroy the unnecessary bits, Mycroft would read through them. They were a time line of his brother's downfall, recovery, rise, and ascension to greatness, a catalog of the minuscule events that had defined the younger Holmes.

What people didn't realize was that John's time-line intersected with Sherlock's many years before the day that Mike Stamford introduced them at Bart's. Of course none of the involved parties remembered it, but Mycroft did because Mycroft remembered everything. It helped that he had a tedious habit of recording and filing absolutely every little nuance that related to his dear little brother. He had promised Mummy that he would look after him, after all.

It was August and Sherlock had gone on a binge the day before his twentieth birthday.

Mycroft had stopped asking him why. The answers constantly varied, frequently made no sense and typically were only muttered in the haze of a drug induced high for no other purpose than to make the elder boy "go away, already." Really and truly, the reason why no longer mattered to Mycroft, as there was no reason fathomable that would justify seeing his little brother crouched against a skip in a muddied alley, body trembling and lips a faint shade of blue. Clothing torn, skin purple and red, his wrist bent at a sickly twisted angle where it had been violently broken. Eyes glassy and unresponsive, breath shallow, expression absolutely content. It was jarring and terrifying, and it was the catalyst that threw John Watson and Sherlock Holmes together.

Mycroft had checked his brother into the hospital under an alias, so there was no reason why Dr. Watson, merely an attending medical intern at the time, should have remembered Sherlock. It certainly didn't help that the years between that first encounter and the later introduction had changed them both physically in several ways. One lost weight, one gained it in muscle. One cut his hair cropped short and military, the other let his grow out into unruly curls. One remained slightly too short for his age, the other gave new meaning to the term lanky. But Mycroft remembered, because that's what Mycroft does, and every now and then, thinking about it, amused him.

In between the steady beeping of medical monitors and the gentle whirring of machinery, Mycroft occasionally leaned out of the doorway to his brother's room and shouted abusively at the staff currently working the intensive care unit. An hour earlier, it was because something just didn't seem right about the pattern of beeps and he wanted to ensure that they had their best man checking in on Sherlock. Currently, it was because they had sent the best man they could find that wasn't elbow deep in a bloodied emergency and that best man just wasn't good enough for Mycroft.

"You're too young to be a doctor." He stated simply, narrowing his eyes as he watched the sandy blond check over Sherlock's vitals with careful precision.

"I am an intern." He frowned, a single glance up towards the elder brother revealing his displeasure at not being trusted in his abilities when he had done nothing to make him believe he was anything but completely capable. Mycroft caught a glimpse of his name badge as the intern shifted around the bed, lightly giving a flick to the IV bag.

"Watson..." He started.

"John. You can call me John." He tried to smile, failing miserably beneath the scrutiny of the predatory gaze.

"John.." He said his name slowly, as if trying it out on his tongue for the first time might prove to be painful. "I need to know an approximate recovery time so I may schedule around this little inconvenience."

The phrasing earned Mycroft a sudden glare from the young doctor in training, but his bedside manner remained calm as he continued his last few checks of vitals before starting on unwinding gauze that needed replacing. The snap of latex gloves on his hands was painfully audible. "The contusions and lacerations will heal just fine on their own, his wrist will take longer but it was set properly and will mend with time. The cocaine addiction, however..."

"Yes, yes. I am aware. Rehabilitation can be difficult, once an addict always an addict, monitor frequently, be supportive."

"...has led to a severe malnutrition. If it continues, it will lead to organ failure. If something isn't done to ensure this doesn't happen again, I very much doubt that your friend will live through the next few years."

The trilling of Mycroft's mobile shattered what permeable silence had fallen between them and John's eyes practically rolled out of his head. The one sided conversation carried out into the hall as the elder man wordlessly excused himself and left the intern to focus on his work. "Hell of a friend you've got, mate.."

The response was near whispered, and if John hadn't been watching the bruised features of his patient's face, he would have assumed that he had imagined it entirely. "haven't got friends.."

John frowned again, lightly resting a hand at the other man's shoulder, giving the vaguest of comforting squeezes. He couldn't have been much younger than John himself, though these sorts of things always make people look so much older than they really are. "Rest up. You've had a bit of a rough night."

Steadily, skillfully and silently, John finished changing the bloodied bandages and did one more glance over the various monitoring equipment before he snapped his gloves off and tossed them into the bin. He paused, then, at the faintest of sounds that he could have sworn sounded like a very pathetic, very hesitant 'please'. The beeping increased slightly, a minor jump in the patient's pulse.

"...don't go." The man on the bed managed, eyes still tightly shut and body limp to the world. John watched him for another moment before he let out a slow breath and settled into the arm chair tucked into a corner. His shift had ended an hour ago anyway, and it looked as if the poor beaten sod could use a friend. He closed his eyes without thinking about it, and promptly fell asleep.

Neither would remember the night they shared in silence, one man resting uncomfortably slouched in a badly fabricated arm chair and the other trying to sleep through waves of aches and pains, but Mycroft would. He would remember with startling clarity the exact position that each of them had been in when he finally walked back into the room, and he remembered so very clearly thinking that perhaps the young intern was not such a bad doctor after all. He had a promising future, if his dedication to one broken, strung out junkie said anything about how much he cared for his patients.

Many hospital stays and many doctors had tried in vain to convince Sherlock that he was playing a very dangerous game. Countless therapists, all seeing therapists of their own now, tried to convince him that there was something wrong with him, that he needed help or he would find himself burning in the fire he insisted on playing with. Even Mycroft tried, when casually meddling and picking up the shattered pieces simply wasn't enough anymore. All ignored, all shrugged off, all deleted from his very own mind palace. Until one man offered Sherlock silent friendship and chose to stay at his side when he needed it the most. The final push, the last detox. The clarity in right choices and forgotten bad habits.

Many people commented on the positive influence that John had on Sherlock. Some were said aloud, most were whispered, and many came to Mycroft in the form of cyphered emails. He liked to read through the emails when he had the time, he liked to file away all the information on his dear little brother, carefully cataloging each piece of intelligence that drifted his way. He often thought about the first time that John met Sherlock, and an amused little grin would curl up his lips, drawing a curious glance from Anthea should she be around. Many people liked to talk about what a positive influence John was on Sherlock, only Mycroft knew just how right they all were.