Wonderful, just wonderful.
The doctor was soaked through when he entered the tube. When he finally reached Baker Street, his mood was terrible. There were no lights on in the flat, that meant Sherlock was asleep or simply too lazy to switch them on, waiting for him to come home and do it. Watson was hungry; he also was sure his flat mate hadn’t thought about cooking dinner. Tesco was just a couple of blocks away but Watson was too tired and the rain was falling hard right now.
I’ll just go out to a Chinese restaurant. Or something.
At first, he didn’t notice the expensive black car approaching him. Then, realizing what it meant, the former army doctor sighed loudly and opened the back door. Nobody was inside but the driver informed him that Mr. Holmes had requested his presence and he was going to take him to his house.
“Please, bring your medical bag with you, doctor.” The driver added.
John climbed in the car in silence. He was used to Mycroft’s methods but this was really strange, even for Mr. British Government. Why should he require *John’s* help. It could only mean one thing: Sherlock.
Mycroft was as cold as an iceberg. Caring is not an advantage he used to say, but when it came to his little brother some of the ice surrounding his heart melted. Whenever Sherlock was sick or injured, the elder Holmes would spend enough money to get him a private room in the best hospital in the city or the best care.
He had been the one to save his little brother from an accidental overdose more than once and he had helped him detox. He was always “protective” towards Sherlock, even if he would never admit it in public.
And Sherlock, well Sherlock was the most irritating, stubborn, egotistic man at heart that John had never met. He was a genius with a permanent bad mood. He had no consideration towards other people, he had no “conscience”. He lived for his work. And if he was difficult to stand while he was working, when he was “bored” he became a real pain in the arse.
Despite all those facts, John cared for him. As Mycroft did.
The British Government Officer’s visits to Baker Street were frequent. Usually Sherlock got mad at his brother, claiming he didn’t need a baby sitter and especially that he didn’t need his brother to check on him because he was a grown man, and other similar arguments. His words to Mycroft were always sharp and made to hurt, but the elder Holmes didn’t seem to care. In fact, no matter what the detective did or said, Mycroft was always present when he was needed.
Watson knew something was wrong with his friend but he didn’t know what the detective had been working on recently because he had been very busy with his own work, and Sherlock hadn’t specifically asked for his help this time. The fact that Sherlock was at Mycroft’s house told John he was not in imminent danger, otherwise Mycroft wouldn’t have asked him to take his medical bag and the driver would have taken him to the hospital instead.
God, what has he gotten into this time?
Minutes later the car stopped in front of Mycroft’s house. John climbed out and was met by the elder Holmes in person. He seemed the same as always but when the doctor shook hands with him he was surprised to notice Mycroft’s hand was slightly damp.
“Thank you for coming, doctor. Please, come in,” Mycroft stated politely.
“Where is he?” Watson asked, ignoring the pleasantries.
“Asleep, on my couch. I think he’s running a fever,” the elder Holmes explained.
Sherlock was in fact slumped on a very expensive leather couch; he was wearing all of his clothes (coat, scarf, suit, purple shirt, socks and shoes) and he was completely soaked through. Little puddles of water were already forming under the couch. Sherlock’s curly dark hair was plastered to his head; he didn’t appear to be particularly in discomfort, he seemed fine except for his flushed face, signalling he was actually running a fever. His long arms were holding a cushion, like a child with his teddy bear.
“And exactly how long has he been in such a state?” the doctor asked, anger making his words sharper than the usual.
“I found him this way when I came home, that was exactly 30 minutes ago.”
“You could have undressed him and put him in dry clothes at least. That doesn’t require medical practice, it’s just good sense,” John muttered to himself.
Mycroft arched his eyebrow at the remark but remained silent and tense.
“I tried to but he’s not really cooperating right now.”
“Is he high on something?” the doctor asked, starting his physical examination on a peaceful Sherlock.
“Not as far as I know.”
“And exactly how do you know about it?”
Mycroft crossed his arms over his chest, unconsciously trying to appear more intimidating.
“I’m not sure I can discuss the subject with you, doctor. I’m sorry. It’s a matter of …”
“National security!” John finished the sentence with an annoyed tone. “For God’s sake, Mycroft, I’ve barely been able to breathe this week, I haven’t seen Sherlock at all except for a couple of times when I intercepted him going out while I was coming back home. If you have any clue about what happened to him I need to know. So speak!”
The elder Holmes simply shrugged his shoulders in reply. He wasn’t surprised by John’s outburst and wasn’t going to give in easily. But the doctor was right; he owed him an explanation.
“Well, all I can say is Sherlock was working for me, undercover. I suspect he pushed himself into exhaustion, probably hasn’t eaten or slept for many days. He was here to tell me the results of his investigations.”
“That’s all you have to say?”
“Yes, doctor. You don’t need to know the details of my brother’s work to determine his state of health.”
Calm down, John. This is not the time to argue with Mycroft. Sherlock needs you.
“Alright. Let me check a few other things,” the doctor replied more politely than he would have liked to.
After a few minutes, he was done. He put all his instruments back in his bag, conscious that the elder Holmes was watching him and waiting for his verdict.
“I think you’re right, he probably hasn’t slept or eaten since the beginning of your undercover assignment. And he is running a fever, but his temperature is just slightly elevated due to the fatigue. I’m assuming he will be fine in a couple of days, provided he takes care of himself properly. Now, since you already knew this from the beginning, care to tell me why the hell you did it? Scaring me to death by making me come here?”
The man in the suit didn’t lose his composure.
“I thought he would have been happy to see a familiar face when he woke up.”
“No, no, no. I’m not buying it. There’s something more than that. Otherwise you would have just dumped Sherlock in front of our door in Baker Street for me to find as soon as I came home.”
Mycroft narrowed his eyes but didn’t reply.
“You owe me an explanation!”
The older Holmes cleared his throat.
“I wasn’t sure he was clean,” he explained finally.
“I thought there was the possibility he was high on something. I lost contact with him 2 days ago and I didn’t know where he was or if he was alright. Until I found him on my couch. That’s why I called you! Now you know the whole story,” Mycroft stated matter of factly.
John was furious.
“You… you send him on some suicide mission, undercover, then lose contact with him for two whole days, you assumed he was high on something and when you finally found him you didn’t call for an ambulance or take him to a hospital! You called me to patch him up, in order not to be involved or to be called to give an explanation, just in case. You’re going to kill him one day, Mycroft!”
The elder Holmes appeared disappointed.
“This is not the place to discuss such issues, doctor. Perhaps…”
He couldn’t finish the sentence because Sherlock shifted on the couch, muttering something in his sleep.
Both men realized the argument could wait and gave their attention to the sleeping younger man.
“Alright, first thing first. We must put him in dry clothes. You hold him up while I take care of undressing him,” John ordered.
Mycroft knelt in front of the couch, trying to take the cushion out of Sherlock’s grasp. The detective was completely unresponsive; it took a while but Mycroft was able to prop him in a seated position, holding him up with his own body and resting Sherlock’s head on his right shoulder. Watson efficiently stripped him to his underwear; Sherlock’s skin was icy to the touch. John could feel he was already shivering.
Together they hauled the limp detective to his feet; Mycroft held him up while John dressed him in soft pyjama pants and a cotton shirt. They then eased Sherlock onto the expensive carpet. To John’s surprise, the elder Holmes sat down beside him and cradled the curly head in his lap, gently stroking his brother’s hair and face.
“I care for my brother, Doctor Watson. Don’t let my behaviour fool you. But you have to understand he is always in danger because of me and my position. That’s the reason I asked you to look after him.”
John nodded. Mycroft looked almost human now, strangely exposed. The blonde didn’t know how to behave now so he went back to Doctor mode.
“Is there a place where he can properly rest?” he asked.
“We’ll take him to his room. Down the corridor, last door on the right. There are clean sheets on the bed. Take a blanket from the closet. He can stay here for as long as he wants.”
John nodded and made a move to help Mycroft with his precious burden.
“I’ll carry him,” Mycroft stated.
Watson watched in amusement as the Iceman carried his brother in his arms like a spouse, walked slowly along the corridor and finally deposited the sleeping detective on the soft mattress. He covered him with the blanket and made sure he was comfortable. He also encouraged him to drink some water and to swallow the antibiotic pill the doctor gave him. He then ran his hand through the curly hair, enjoying the moment.
“You’re free to stay if you like, doctor. I’m sure Sherlock will find your presence more comforting than mine when he wakes up. And, by the way, what you have just witnessed tonight has never happened.”