Note: I own nothing but my own plot, everything else is the BBC's and Arthur Conan Doyle's. I just like to play here. Not beta'd or Brit-picked.
John and Sherlock hurried down the hall, dodging doctors and nurses as they went.
Well, John did. Sherlock looked as if he were doing anything but hurrying. He certainly wasn't paying any attention to the people in his way as his long legs ate up the tile floor as he strode along, singularly focused on getting down the corridor to the correct room while John tagged along behind.
It was only right, though. It wasn't his brother in a hospital bed.
They'd gotten the call half an hour ago, telling them that Mycroft had been attacked. If John had ever had any real doubt as to how Sherlock felt about his brother, they were settled then, when he saw the way his already pale face had faded even lighter, the way the hand holding the phone had fallen away from his ear. It was obvious in the speed with which he had grabbed his coat and rushed out the door without a word to John until they were in the car waiting at the curb.
No, any medical personnel on this hall needed only to take a look at Sherlock's face and know that they had best get out of his way.
John wished he knew more details. What kind of attack had it been? How badly injured was Mycroft?
And—just as important—how was this going to affect the man's little brother, who did nothing but complain and argue and tease him? Glancing up at Sherlock's face as they swept their way down the corridor, John wondered.
The good news was that, when they arrived at the hospital, Mycroft had already been given a room. He wasn't in surgery, not in intensive care. Just in a normal room which meant non-life-threatening injuries, which was encouraging (or so John told himself). He wondered if he would have a chance to look at his chart when they got there, if Mycroft would let him. The man freely gave him access to Sherlock's medical records when necessary, but his own? John wasn't his doctor, and Mycroft was even more private than Sherlock.
Coming to a halt at the correct door, Sherlock paused and took a deep breath before pushing it open, John right behind him.
Mycroft was awake, which was encouraging. He was paler than usual and sporting a bandage on his head, but seemed largely unhurt, and John could see some of the tension drain away from Sherlock's shoulders.
"Mycroft," he said. "What happened?"
John saw Mycroft's eyes widen. "Sherlock?" he breathed, as if seeing a ghost.
"Yes, of course," Sherlock said. "You're looking disgustingly well. If you're going to drag us here in the middle of the night like this, you could at least make it worth my while, brother."
John hid a smile at the relief in Sherlock's voice. He could fool himself all he wanted, but Sherlock had been worried. John glanced at Mycroft, expecting to see him deducing the same thing from Sherlock's harsh manner, seeing by his fast breathing how quickly he had rushed over, or something.
The expression on Mycroft's face, though, was worrying John a bit. He had never seen the man look so out of his depth, as if the world had somehow shifted on its axis and thrown him off balance. He was frankly staring at Sherlock, eyes skimming everything from the hair to the coat to his newly-polished shoes.
He looked like he couldn't believe his eyes.
"Would you mind if I looked at your chart, Mycroft?" John asked, reaching for the chart at the foot of the bed.
The wide eyes turned toward him, flicking over him before turning back to Sherlock as he said, "Of course, doctor. I apologize for whatever my brother said to get you out so late."
"Nothing I'm not used to," John said, eyes on the chart. "I'm just glad to see you looking reasonably well."
"Yes, John was worried." Sherlock's voice was sharp, but John glanced up to meet Mycroft's eyes, expecting to see the man acknowledging that this was going to be as close as they got to Sherlock admitting that he had been worried.
Instead, Mycroft's forehead had wrinkled and he was looking at John again as if trying to solve a puzzle. Odd. John looked back to the chart and … oh.
He looked back at the man in the bed who was again staring at Sherlock as if he couldn't believe the evidence of his own eyes. "You … you look well, Sherlock."
Sherlock lifted one eyebrow. "Same as usual, Mycroft, though yesterday's case did keep us out later than usual. Nothing taxing, though. Not like being mugged outside one's home … and really, brother, how did that happen?"
"I'm not sure," said Mycroft, his voice hesitant.
Sherlock's eyes narrowed. "Ah, the head injury. That can obscure the memory around the event, I suppose. I'll take a look at the CCTV footage when I get home, see if there's anything there. It takes a certain amount of audacity to attack the British Government, after all."
"You'll check the footage…? Not that I don't appreciate the concern, but isn't that something the police should handle?"
"Oh, please," scoffed Sherlock, waving a casual hand in the air. "As if Lestrade would keep me from getting involved? He wouldn't dare—not after we caught him a serial killer just the other day."
"You … what?"
Sherlock was staring now. "Whatever is the matter with you, Mycroft? You haven't insulted me once and you're barely following the conversation."
John cleared his throat. "I think I can answer that question for you, Sherlock. Mycroft? What's the date?"
"And the year?
"I'm told it's 2011."
John nodded. "When do you think it is?"
"10th January 2006."
To his left, Sherlock actually staggered, and John reached out and caught his elbow and helped him to the hard, plastic chair against the wall. He bent to look at Sherlock's eyes, taking in the respiration, the colour of his skin before taking the cup of water off Mycroft's bedside table and holding it for Sherlock. "Drink this. Or I could go try to find an orange blanket, if you prefer?"
A tiny crease at his lips as Sherlock sipped the water and John turned back to Mycroft. "That means you don't remember me, then. I'm Dr John Watson, Sherlock's friend, flatmate and, well, assistant, I suppose."
"Colleague," Sherlock corrected, clutching at the perspiring plastic cup. "Partner. Blogger."
John flashed him a smile and then turned back to Mycroft. "I've known the both of you for about a year now. In fact, you kidnapped me the night I went to check out the flat-share Sherlock was offering. Checking up on my intentions, I suppose."
"Offering you a bribe to spy on me," muttered Sherlock.
"Which I refused," John said with a smile. "Along with the threats. Then I went back to the flat where Sherlock promptly cured my psychosomatic limp—a leftover from Afghanistan, I was in the RAMC—and solved a series of murders. I moved in that night and we've been flatmates ever since."
"Friends," Sherlock said, "And you forgot to tell him the part where you saved my life."
"Who keeps track?" John shrugged. "You've saved mine, I've saved yours. We're drifting from the point."
"You had a point?"
John just rolled his eyes. "Introducing myself to your brother … again. I know he's got a super Holmes brain like you do and can probably read my military service in my hair or something—he already spotted that I'm a doctor—but he still looks pretty surprised by you, Sherlock. 2006, you said, Mycroft? So … when Sherlock was still doing drugs?"
Mycroft just nodded, looking if anything even more surprised than before John had started. Sherlock's voice came from behind him. "Of course he's surprised, John. He's never seen anybody able to get along with me before. That on top of seeing me no longer an addict has to have been a bit of a shock."
"I'd imagine the headache doesn't help," John said, eyes on Mycroft's face. "Any double vision? Blurriness? Dizziness?"
"Oh, please, call me John, Mycroft. I'm certainly not going to start calling you Mr Holmes again at this late date. Sherlock? You doing okay?"
Sherlock had leaned back in his chair now, examining his brother. "What do you remember?"
"January 10th, 2006," Mycroft said, his voice tentative, vulnerable in a way John had never heard.
"Ah," was all Sherlock said, but the look the brothers shared was telling. He rose smoothly to his feet and pulled off his coat, and then his jacket, dumping them both on the chair as he unbuttoned his cuffs and pushed up his shirt sleeves. He approached the bed and showed his arms to Mycroft. "See? I'm clean. I have been for over four years now. After that overdose, you checked me into a rehab facility … again … only this time, after I got out, I started consulting with Scotland Yard, helping them on cases. John? A card?"
John nodded and reached into his own pocket, pulling out one of the business cards Sherlock insisted he carry. They were simple, just saying "Sherlock Holmes. Consulting Detective," with a phone number, but it was proof that Sherlock was telling the truth.
Mycroft studied it for a moment. "And Doctor Wats… I mean, John … is your … friend?"
John almost smiled at the disbelief in the man's voice. "Friend, definitely," Sherlock said. "Believe me, nobody was more surprised than I. I needed a flatmate to help with the rent because you hadn't released my trust fund, but it turned out to be … serendipitous."
John's eyebrows rose. That was unexpectedly … flattering. "I could say the same, of course—except for the trust fund part. Living with Sherlock has been good for me, too."
Mycroft was looking at him now in that analysing way of his, except this time, it was as if John were a mystery he couldn't solve. "You really are his friend?"
John nodded. "Absolutely. He's stubborn and frustrating and difficult but also brilliant and amazing and my best friend. And you often have this exact look on your face when you come visit—totally perplexed as to why it works, and I can't answer that except to tell you that it does."
Mycroft gave a thoughtful nod, still looking perplexed, but less concerned. "I worry."
"I know. Constantly. You told me when we first met," he said with a smile, a part of him enjoying seeing the unflappable Mycroft Holmes at a loss. . It said so much about the relationship between the two brothers, that Mycroft's first concerns were of Sherlock's well-being, rather than his own. "But what about you, Mycroft? You must have questions about your own life?"
Sherlock had pulled his jacket back on my now and said, "Don't be silly, John. Mycroft doesn't have a life. He just works … and spies on me. Nothing has changed in five years, except perhaps the quality of his surveillance equipment."
The words were cold, perhaps, but there was a bit of fondness in the tone—along with the usual frustration.
"Sherlock, be nice," John told him.
"No, John, it's perfectly all right," Mycroft said, sounding more like himself than he had this entire time. "I'd be more surprised if things had changed … though I do wonder what my job title is these days."
"I'm not much help there," John told him. "Sherlock introduced you as being the British Government, which isn't exactly a job title I learned in school. Frankly, though, I'm surprised Anthea isn't here."
"Yeah, don't worry if you don't recognize that name," John said. "She's your PA, or something, and that's the name she used when we met—I've never learned her real name. Actually, now I think about it, it's been a while since I've seen her at all…"
Sherlock was looking out at the hall. "It does seem odd that none of Mycroft's usual entourage is here." He spun back to look at his brother. "How did you get here? Were you conscious? Were you found by a passer-by, or by one of your security people?"
Mycroft's brow creased. "I don't know. I was unconscious when I was brought in, but don't know by whom."
"I was told you were mugged … but you still have your phone? That's strange, isn't it?" Sherlock pulled his own phone out of his pocket. "Lestrade? My brother is in hospital and I need to see the police report. Yes, tonight, in the last two or three hours. No, he's fine … more or less."
John just shook his head. The famous Sherlock Tact at its best, he thought, as he watched Mycroft watching Sherlock. It was as if he couldn't get enough of seeing Sherlock well and alert and competent. John supposed that if Mycroft's last memory was of a strung-out, over-dosed Sherlock, seeing him now would be a relief. Knowing how much Sherlock required the proof of his own senses, John wondered if there was anything else that would have immediately convinced Mycroft of five years having passed other than Sherlock's current state of well-being. ('Well' being a comparative term, of course, since John never could get him to eat or sleep as much as he should need.)
Sherlock was still on the phone with Lestrade when the doctor came in to check on Mycroft. "Oh, hello. Are you family?"
"He is," John said, pointing at Sherlock. "I'm John Watson."
"Doctor," corrected Sherlock, still listening on the phone.
"Right, Doctor John Watson, friend," John corrected himself with a smile. "For some reason, he gets snippy when I leave that out."
"Doctor Andrews," the other man said. "How are you doing, Mr Holmes?"
"You tell me," said Mycroft and John almost smiled, flashing back to their first meeting. He had used exactly that tone—challenging rather than that of a person looking for information.
The doctor blinked. "Right. Well, I see no worrisome physical damage. You have a concussion, of course, and there is some swelling behind the ear, but physiologically, I'm not concerned. You'll have a headache for a day or two, but then should be fine." He glanced down at the chart. "More worrying is the amnesia. Losing a certain amount of time surrounding a traumatic event is uncommon—a few hours, even as much as a day—but five years … that's unusual."
"That's Mycroft for you," said Sherlock, done with his call. "And he accuses me of being dramatic."
"Yes, well," the doctor gave a small cough. "For the moment, there's nothing to be overly concerned with. It's possible that the memories will return on their own as soon as the swelling goes down. We'd like to keep you overnight for observation, Mr Holmes, but you should be fine to go home tomorrow … assuming there's someone to keep an eye on you?"
"Yes, me," said John firmly, and as both Holmeses looked at him with surprise, added, "Of course I'm not going to let you go home alone, Mycroft. You shouldn't be alone just yet, and unless you can name someone better equipped—or unless Sherlock wants to do this—it's my pleasure to help you out."
He was almost amused at the matching appalled looks on both Mycroft and Sherlock's faces, but he just turned back to the doctor. "Go on."
The next morning, Mycroft sat on the edge of his bed, waiting for the final paperwork before he could leave. He still had a headache, but otherwise felt much like he usually did. For that matter, a headache was not unusual for him, either. He often felt like his entire life was one headache after another … and clearly that had not changed in five years.
Five years. How was that even possible? He was used to his brain acting like an efficient machine, a super-computer, if you will, and the idea that he had experienced a … system crash of this magnitude was worrying.
Even more curious was the 'restore point' his brain had chosen. He knew enough of medicine to understand that the brain could block traumatic memories, and the idea of not being able to remember the attack itself frankly irritated enough on its own, but he could have accepted that, he felt. Even the loss of several hours surrounding the event would be a loss with which he could deal. But five years? Why would his formidable brain opt to erase so much?
It was particularly curious when he thought about what he remembered of 2006. His career was going well, but more of his concentration than he liked to admit was spent fretting over Sherlock—his drug use, his living conditions, his future. If he even had a future.
Seeing his brother walk into the room last night had been a shock. He had been expecting—assuming Sherlock had roused himself from his drug-induced haze enough to bother coming at all—a red-eyed, painfully-thin wreck of a little brother. His last memory of Sherlock … he had been beyond acidic in his comments toward Mycroft and had barely been able to sit upright in his hospital bed.
Really, he had had very little hope Sherlock would come at all last night.
His shock, therefore, at the sight of Sherlock was understandable. Clean (in all senses). Healthy. Well-dressed. Capable. Commanding. Brilliant. All the things he had always known Sherlock could be but had despaired of seeing. If anything had been going to convince him of a five year gap in his memory, it was this.
Sherlock hadn't stayed long last night. He had swept from the room shortly after the doctor had left, dragging his friend with him. (His friend. If Mycroft hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he never would have believed it.) No, Sherlock had given Mycroft one more, sharp look and then nodded and said something about seeing the scene for himself and that he would be back in the morning, and he'd been gone. John had given an apologetic smile that was clearly all-too-well practiced and followed, leaving Mycroft with his thoughts.
Well, such as they were. He had plenty of questions, but not enough answers. His weary brain cycled between wondering at Sherlock, wondering how the (five-year old) problems at work had been resolved, and wondering about this attack. Had it been personal? Had it been random? Did he really have a security detail these days, and if so, where had they been? How had he gotten to the hospital?
Mycroft tried using his phone to learn some of these answers, but it was an exercise in patience. First he needed to figure out his current password, and then, well, there was the phone itself—so much more advanced than what he was used to. The bigger, clearer screen was a blessing, but the touch-screen technology for typing was nothing but a frustration.
He did try calling Mummy to let her know he was all right, but there was no answer. He would have to ask Sherlock about that later. Why the woman refused to use a mobile phone was beyond him.
So here he sat with a rare moment of having nothing to do and … there was nothing he could do. He'd long since finished the paper he'd begged from one of the nurses and was starting to feel desperate enough to fill in the crossword.
He was saved from that by the unexpected appearance of Sherlock, carrying two take-away cups. He handed one to Mycroft with a nod. "You're looking better this morning. More color, less confusion, and your lips are doing that pursing thing that makes you look annoyed, so things are getting back to normal."
Mycroft couldn't resist a sneer as he pulled the lid off the drink and took a sip. God, it was awful. "What is this?" he asked, unable to keep the disgust out of his voice.
"A hazelnut latte, of course," Sherlock told him, looking surprised.
"Why would you bring me … this? I hate hazelnut."
"But…" A fleeting look of hurt crossed his brother's face. "You started drinking these over four years ago. The clinic you checked me into to get clean … they served these and you got in the habit of drinking them whenever you visited, which was far too often, as I told you—frequently. But, if you don't want it…"
Mycroft felt a moment's remorse. "No, no. I'll drink it. Thank you."
Sherlock smiled, relief clear as the lines of his forehead smoothed. "I brought you some of the shortbread you like, too."
At least those he remembered, Mycroft thought, opening the package. Anything was better than the cardboard and glue served for breakfast here. Next time he required hospitalization he really must make sure to be brought somewhere with a better catering staff.
They sat in unusually amicable silence for a time, while Mycroft tried to hide the flavour of his appalling beverage with the biscuits and Sherlock sipped at his tea. "Where's John this morning?" Mycroft finally asked.
"Oh, out," Sherlock said with a careless wave. "You'll be glad to know, incidentally, that your house is still secure. I haven't been able to find any sign of theft or any kind of security breach at your home or your office. Your wallet and phone appear to be intact, and so I have been unable to ascertain the point of your mugging—always barring the urge to hit you over the head, an urge with which I naturally can sympathize."
"Naturally. It hardly seems vindictive enough, though, if someone—other than you—wished to cause me harm."
"I agree. So, either you had something else about your person that was taken but which you cannot remember, this was a remarkably insipid attempt at hurting you, or it was a delaying tactic. I spoke with your assistant and she said there was nothing unusually pressing going on, but refused to go into more detail because of security." Sherlock reached for one of the biscuits, then said, "You're officially on sick leave for at least a few days, by the way, though your PA sounded a bit frantic at the thought."
Mycroft smiled. He didn't know what his current job was, but the idea that they would panic without him was … reassuring. "It's not like I remember my security passcodes right now, anyway."
"That's all right, brother. I know them," Sherlock told him with an evil smile as he stood up. "Come on, let's get you out of here."
"You're coming with me?"
Sherlock nodded. "John insisted. Come along. Paperwork's been sorted."
Mycroft thankfully abandoned his disgusting latte and followed Sherlock down the hallway. "So … John?"
"Former RAMC Captain, invalided home by a shot to the shoulder. Currently does some locum work at a local surgery to keep his hand in, but otherwise helps me."
Mycroft felt staggered at the idea of Sherlock accepting help from anyone, remembering countless arguments on exactly that topic, in fact. Sherlock must have read that on his face, because he said, "Yes, but he's not intrusive about it, and he's actually useful, even if he has an annoying habit of nagging me to eat and sleep."
"You said he saved your life?"
An almost feral grin spread on Sherlock's face, startling Mycroft. Sherlock had smiled more in the last 24 hours than he could remember seeing in the last ten years … or what he could remember of them. "The first night, after you kidnapped and tried to bribe him. He shot a serial killer cabbie to protect me."
"Shot… he has a gun?" The thought of Sherlock living in a flat where there was a gun was horrifying.
"Not … officially," Sherlock said with some discretion as they wove their way past assorted medical staff. "It's come in handy, though."
Mycroft was speechless. What kind of maverick was Sherlock living with? An army doctor who had been shot? That alone … he couldn't remember the last time that had happened. Medical staff was kept carefully behind the lines so that was almost impossible. And … he was spending his time following Sherlock around instead of working as a doctor? How had he let this happen? Mycroft obviously was still keeping an eye on Sherlock if he'd 'kidnapped' his friend, but this Dr Watson sounded like a terrible influence … though knowing he tried to get Sherlock to eat was … comforting.
They were out of the hospital now, and in a taxi. (Mycroft couldn't remember the last time he'd travelled in anything other than his own car, and wondered where it was.)
The route was familiar, though, London's streets mapping the same way home they always had, even if signs and colours were different than what he remembered from yesterday … or, well, five years ago. Sherlock didn't speak in the car, but Mycroft felt him glancing over, and knew he was taking in everything he could about his current physical (and mental) state. Other than the lump on his head, though, he felt surprisingly well. A little bruised, perhaps, from when he fell, but nothing particularly inconvenient.
At the house, Sherlock punched in a security code and opened the door, not that Mycroft was surprised. Sherlock had always been able to break in when he needed to, and he would have been frankly amazed if he had found a security system able to keep his brother out. He felt a moment's trepidation as he realized that he himself would be unable to crack this system. He'd lost five years' worth of technological advances. Five years of political scandals and manoeuvrings. Five years.
It was still unfathomable.
He saw Sherlock watching him and felt unusually cared for when he led him back to the kitchen. "You're pale. You're just now realizing the magnitude of your affliction. You need tea," he said as he filled the kettle and pulled out a reassuringly familiar teapot and a tin of his preferred Assam blend.
While he prepared the tea, Sherlock began to speak. "You were attacked here, outside the front door at 10:37 last night, as you arrived home from work. Your driver had already returned to the driver's seat when it happened, so your attacker had a few moments between hitting you on the head and when he had to run. Your driver reports that he saw the man rummaging in your pockets, so I conjecture that he took something from you—something small, like a flash drive, because your driver didn't see anything obvious. Your briefcase, keys, wallet, and phone are all intact and accounted for. A single blow to the head couldn't have been expected to slow you up for more than a few minutes, so whoever it was didn't need a lot of time."
He poured steaming water into the pot to warm it, and then spooned in the loose tea. "If the point had been to hurt you, there would have been more than one blow—or something more vicious, like a knife. One hit to the head, though … you could have been on your feet again within moments, and there's no guarantee that you would have been held overnight at hospital, so he either took something off you then, quickly, or needed you to be distracted while he or his confederates did something elsewhere."
Mycroft nodded, his head suddenly pounding. "A quick cosh-and-grab seems most likely, though I've no idea what it could be. Short of going into the office to see what I've been working on, it's impossible to say."
"Unless we get your memory back," Sherlock said, putting a cup of tea in front of him. Mycroft sipped it carefully, eyebrows raised at the sweetness. "You need it for shock, and it's not like your diet is working, anyway."
The familiar biting tone of Sherlock's teasing was a comfort, somehow, and so Mycroft sipped, relishing the taste of his sweet tea. He had stopped using sugar years ago, trying to get rid of the weight he'd put on while Sherlock was …
The cup landed in the saucer with a genteel clashing sound as Mycroft realized … he had remembered that, but just barely, like recognizing a voice but having the speaker's name just outside your mental reach. He floundered, trying to touch it, secure it, but it was already gone, a fleeting will-o-wisp already dissipating in the dark.
"You remembered something." Sherlock's voice was gentle.
"I stopped using sugar in my tea when you were in rehab?"
A tiny quirk to the lips as Sherlock said, "That you remember, but not the hazelnut lattes?"
"Thank heaven for that, Sherlock. That was disgusting. I simply cannot believe I would have started drinking those."
"I'm not saying I approved of it, Mycroft. I've always found them revolting. You're the one who developed a taste for them."
"Well, consider me cured of that, at least," Mycroft told him with a small shudder as he sipped at his tea. (Sweet, hot, perfect … bliss.) "Tell me more about John."
Sherlock looked almost amused. "You're more concerned about me than you are about yourself. That's illogical, Mycroft."
Wearily, Mycroft just shook his head. "No more than any other time in our lives, Sherlock. You've always been my responsibility, always been up to me to watch you. Hasn't changed. Never will."
Sherlock carefully reached over and took his cup from his fingers and then rose to his feet to come around the table to take Mycroft's arm. "Come on."
"What? But, my tea…" It had tasted so good, too, Mycroft thought.
"I'll make you more. Or better yet, you can ask John later. He makes better tea even than Mrs Hilary did. Right now, though, you're exhausted."
He was, too, though it made no sense. He hadn't done anything but ride home from the hospital and have a few sips of tea. Why was he so tired? But he couldn't bring himself to argue as Sherlock guided him down the hall and removed his jacket, then helped him lie down on the couch. He pulled off his shoes and covered him with the knitted afghan their grandmother had made. "Take a nap now. It's going to be fine, My."
Later, Mycroft couldn't remember if the feel of Sherlock's lips on his forehead had been his imagination or not.