“Cheers,” Greg said, as John appeared from inside the pub, a pint in each hand. He lifted his glass in salute as the other man sat down and they drank in silence for several minutes enjoying the late summer afternoon sunshine.
“So,” John said eventually, “when was he due back?”
“Two weeks ago last Wednesday,” the DI replied, playing with the beer mat lying on the picnic bench. “He was only supposed to be gone six days,” he added sounding more than a little maudlin, even to himself.
“Ouch, and I complain when Sherlock disappears for a couple of days at a time.” John commiserated.
“That’s different - Sherlock could be in all sorts of trouble. Mycroft’s stuck in an office somewhere,” he was trying to be flippant but was fairly certain he wasn’t entirely successful. Realistically they both knew that though the elder Holmes was less likely to jump from roof tops and hare across duel-carriage ways after suspects, his position netted him his own sort of danger.
“Yes, an office in an undisclosed area of the middle east, where he is in all likelihood trying to stop another war.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” he said drinking deeply, “to be fair, he has sent me the occasional text or at least Anthea has.”
“Well that’s a start,” John said, frowning and reaching for his phone.
“Do I want to know what the great detective is up to?“ Greg asked, suspecting he didn’t really.
“Your guess is as good as mine, all I know is that it expressly didn’t involve me. Which,” John continued, with a smile, “is actually a bit of a relief. There is such a thing as too much Sherlock.”
“You‘ll find no argument from me on that front,“ Greg said, smile tugging at his lips, “besides it’s good to get a chance to catch up with you without the constant bickering.“
“It is - next time we should resurrect Bond and beer.”
“Yeah, that was good.”
“Until we decided to try and convert the Holmes’ brothers.” John added with a grin.
“In retrospect that was pretty much doomed to fail,” Greg admitted, smiling at the memory, even if it had been a bit of a disaster in terms of convincing anyone of anything. Sherlock hadn’t stopped ranting about improbable plots and how thick the villains were (escalating to the point where the exposition of the dastardly plot allowed Bond to escape) while Mycroft had simply made disparaging noises from behind his files, refusing to be drawn out despite their allocating the evening as a ‘work free zone’.
“I think maybe it was maybe a little too close to home for M, for Mycroft,” he corrected himself, his mood suddenly dropping again.
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” John empathised before continuing much more brightly, “that was a stroke of genius when we realised that you were dating M though, maybe even M+.”
“I know, the name kind of stuck… I mean, I can’t think of him as a Myc and I’m not about to call him Croft.” John snorted.
“They’re not really easy names to contract are they? I did try Lock once but not going to make that mistake again.” This time it was Greg’s turn to snort into the dregs of his pint.
He was still revelling in what the look on Sherlock’s face would have been when his phone vibrated and lit up on the table next to him and ‘A’ flashed on the screen. Picking it up, he opened the message and frowned.
‘Don’t order another.’
“Something interesting?” John asked, making him realise that he‘d been staring at his phone.
“Anthea. She’s suggesting that we don’t order another pint.”
“Oh, does she often send you instructions.”
“Sometimes information, occasional requests or suggestions but she’s not usually that specific when they’re on the other side of the world.”
“Which leads us to conclude…?” said a familiar and well cultured voice from behind him. He could feel the smile spread across his face even before he turned to see Mycroft standing there but the lightness in his chest didn‘t last.
“Mycroft?” he asked, his smile fading as his eyes roamed over his partner’s haggard form propped up with his umbrella.
“I really must have a word with Anthea, I had intended on surprising you.“ the other man said, making a valiant attempt at keeping his tone light, but Greg could almost feel the exhaustion that was seeping from his every pore.
“Have a seat,“ John suggested in a tone that gave the distinct impression that the GP was seeing the same signs as he was.
“I’m afraid I can’t stay, I need to get into the office but when Anthea informed me that you were here and we were going to be passing I couldn’t resist the opportunity to say hello.” Greg was momentarily disarmed as Mycroft lent over and kissed him gently on the cheek. Never one for public displays of affection, this and the gentle squeeze of his shoulder was the equivalent of being ravished senseless by the civil servant. He wasn’t about to be distracted though,
“It’s three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon Mycroft, and by the look of you, you’ve been working yourself ragged for the best part of a month - there’s no way you should be anywhere near your office today.”
“Or tomorrow,” John added sedately from where he was sitting, quietly observing proceedings.
“Please don’t be difficult Gregory,” the other man almost sighed, lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. The pleading nature of his tone and the distracted nature of the gesture from someone who was usually so controlled and poised, sent another pang of concern through him. He had seen Mycroft tired before but this was more than that, he was pale as a ghost and unless he was wearing one of the old suits from the back of the wardrobe that he kept ‘just in case’ he put three-stone on overnight and couldn’t make it to his tailor, he’d lost far more weight than he had to spare.
“Just sit down, Mycroft,” he said quietly, “before you fall down. Please?” Mycroft frowned but did perch on the chair that John had pulled up.
“I do understand that I was away longer than anticipated and that I’ve not been in touch as often as I might have been but…”
“This has got nothing to do with that M,” he said, looking at him seriously, “I’ve missed you, of course I have, and I always want you to come straight home with me when you’ve been away but that’s not the point. I don’t know what you’ve been up to but you look dead on your feet, like there’s nowhere you ought to be on your way to except bed. Possibly via a good meal, before you fade away to nothing.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Gregory, I assure you I’m fine and unfortunately the rest of the world has continued to turn while my attention has been directed elsewhere, so the sooner I’m able to get back to my desk the better.”
“When was the last time you slept?” John asked calmly, seeming to ignore everything that had just been said.
“Really John, don’t be so tedious. I have already said that I am quite well.”
“And neither of us are buying it,” the doctor said quietly.
Greg watched as Mycroft closed his eyes for a moment, as though gathering his thoughts and resources for another round of protests.
“Perhaps,” he began, “I might be more accurate in saying that I have been a little stretched but unfortunately events have not allowed me as much rest as I might normally have wished for, but I’m sure things will settle down shortly.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” John pointed out.
“And I have no intention of doing so,” Mycroft snapped, but as soon as his anger seemed to peak it faded away again, as though he simply couldn’t maintain it.
“Do you have to be so bloody stubborn?” Greg snapped back at him, “We’re only asking because we care and quite frankly, you look appalling.”
“Enough,” Mycroft said, collecting himself as though to leave, “I can assure you that I will make every effort to improve my appearance before I see you next.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” he replied automatically, reaching out to place his hand on Mycroft’s arm and taking a deep breath to try and calm down, “I know how important your work is, but can you honestly say you’re fit to be dealing with the kind of issues that cross your desk at the moment?” Greg hoped that logic would prevail - it was rare that his partner became roused to the kind of emotional outbursts he’d exhibited tonight but that was just another sign of the kind of state he was in.
There was a long moment’s silence where he held the other man’s gaze. It was eventually broken when three phones sounded simultaneously. His own was still in his hand and he lifted it to see what he suspected - that there was another message from A,
‘Appointments cancelled. Car outside the gate & basic medical supplies have been sent to the flat.’
The detective inspector looked up to see both John and Mycroft had read their own messages (presumably the same as his own) and saw the doctor’s mouth twitch into a momentary smile.
“It looks like we’re not the only one’s who are concerned.”
“I… really…” Mycroft blustered.
“Don’t be angry,” Greg said softly, “you know that she’s got your best interests at heart . She’s loyal to a fault.”
“I… I suppose it’s too late to capitulate with my dignity intact?”
“Never, “Greg replied with a smile, squeezing the arm in his grasp gently.
“Well in that case, I suddenly find that I want nothing more in the world than to be at home. Asleep. With you.”
“Done,” he said, leaning over and pecking him on the forehead, “but I’d like John to take a look at you first though. If that’s alright?” he looked across to the table at the other man.
“Course.” John agreed and Mycroft waved a listless and dismissive hand.
“Right, come on then,” he continued, “let’s get you home.” Standing, he placed a hand under the other man’s elbow to help him stand but watched as he seemed to reel as he straightened up. Obviously sensing that he was being watched however he seemed to shrug the unsteadiness away and offered Greg a half smile.
This is my first foray into Sherlock, though I'm an old school fic-er. I hope you've enjoyed this and I'm hoping to post the next chapter up in the near future (John's pov).
Always love to hear what you think :)
The journey home has never seemed longer.
Glad you're enjoying so far - hope you like this too...
John’s medical instincts had kicked in as soon as Mycroft had stepped far enough out of the sun that he could actually see him. Visual triage was a skill that was at least as useful in general practice as it had been when he was on the front line and within seconds he was usually able to determine whether a patient was ‘probably fine’, ‘under the weather’ or ‘in need of medical intervention’. In addition to these fairly standard initial conclusions, his experience with Sherlock had dramatically increased the regularity with which the category ‘likely to end up face down on the floor as soon as I stop long enough’ was applicable. It was becoming apparent however, that this was a familial tendency. He pulled up a chair as he watched Greg’s reaction to his partner, letting the two of them push back and forth, only interrupting when he thought he might be able to prompt a real answer from the elder Holmes. In the mean time he catalogued signs and symptoms; changing skin tone from pale to translucent, the small muscle twitching next to his left eye, the unmistakable look of recent and drastic weight loss and the way that the usually unflappable Holmes’ hand trembled as he checked his phone.
The eventual acknowledgement by Mycroft, that perhaps going straight back to work wasn’t the best idea, was a relief as John didn’t like to think what the retribution might have been like if he had to knock him out and carry him home. As the three of them made their way through the tables and towards the pavement however, it became increasingly obvious that now the civil servant dropped his charade, his physical condition was taking it’s toll quickly.
Greg had to steady Mycroft’s arm as he stumbled over an uneven paving stone and as they waited to step out into the throng of Saturday afternoon pedestrians, John noticed him blinking deliberately as though trying to clear his vision. John moved so that he was in a better position to catch, just in case. Anthea was standing next to the familiar government car just a few metres down the road and for once, her gaze was not fixed on the blackberry in her hands but rather she watched their progress carefully, opening the door when they neared.
“I really would have been quite fine my dear,” Mycroft began unconvincingly, until Greg cleared his throat, “but thank for your concern.” The look he received in return was akin to that of a mother attempting to be strict with an incorrigible but well loved child.
“In you get,” Greg said gently, sliding into the seat after him. Just as John went to follow though, Anthea caught his arm,
“If there’s anything you need that I haven’t provided just let me know and I’ll have it with you with all possible haste.”
“Thanks, “ he said, confident that he would find enough supplies to keep a field hospital going for weeks, when they reached Pall Mall.
They followed the other two men into the car, settling into the seats opposite and soon they were pulling out into the afternoon traffic. It would take a good twenty minutes to get back to their home at this time of day and he wondered for a moment how best to go about this. Mycroft’s colour was still shocking, he was breathing shallowly, there was sweat visible on his brow and he was pulling listlessly at his tie, despite the fact that John could have stuck several fingers inside the fastened collar of his shirt.
“Here, let me,” Greg said leaning over and untying the offending article and opening the top button of his shirt. Anthea produced a bottle of water and opening the top handed it over to her boss.
“Small sips,” John instructed. “Bearing in mind that I deal with Sherlock on a regular basis and that I only have your best interests in mind, can you tell me when was the last time you ate or slept?” Mycroft gave him something that might have been an attempt at a withering look but he came off looking more like a petulant child.
“It must have been three, maybe four days since I got my full five hours,” he admitted a little sheepishly after a moment, his eyes flicking to his left where Greg was sitting, a gentle hand resting on his knee. The DI frowned a little but didn’t say anything.
“Actually,” Anthea piped up from her corner, not stopping her typing, “over the last 24 days there were only six occasions when you were in your room for the whole of the five hours you were scheduled to sleep, the last of which was eight days ago. Of the other eighteen days, there were seven when you had less than two hours and three when you were in your room for less than an hour, the last of which of which occurred during the last week of your stay.”
Even accounting for the natural Holmes aptitude for surviving on less sleep than the average individual, that was bad. Although Sherlock would often go for days without sleep, he’d always make up for it afterward.
“Oh, M…” Greg sighed, squeezing his shoulder.
“It really was necessary,” Mycroft said quietly, his eyes drifting shut.
“Dizzy?” John asked, watching as the other man lent back against the headrest.
“A little,” came the quiet reply and John unfastened his seatbelt, going to kneel in front of his patient. Taking hold of the other man’s wrist he looked at his watch to better gage the pulse.
“Nauseous?” he asked as the car gently rounded a corner and Mycroft swallowed purposefully.
“Hmmm…” John glanced around thee back of the car for an appropriate receptacle when Anthea held out an aeroplane sick bag. When he raised a questioning eyebrow she simply shrugged and said,
“I had a feeling it might come in handy.” John, not hugely surprised by this foresight, opened up the bag and held it out towards the other man.
“I have not been sick in public for over twenty years John and I don’t intend that to change today.”
“Just in case,” he urged, knowing from experience that willpower could only take you so far. Mycroft did accept the bag and clutched it with trembling hands for several minutes before loosing the battle and lifting it to his mouth as he started to retch.
“Easy M,” Greg encouraged, rubbing soothing circles on his partner’s back. There didn’t seem to be much more than the few mouthfuls of water and some stomach acid to come up but that didn’t mean it was any less unpleasant.
“Shall I get them to stop?” Anthea asked him quietly and John shook his head.
“No, best just to get him home soon as, I think.” The pulse beneath his fingertips was far from steady and if he was any judge, his BP was rock bottom as well. He was confident that it was all down to exhaustion, lack f proper nutrition and probably dehydration as well, but the strain that all of this would be putting on the younger man’s heart was concerning.
When the fit seemed to pass, John took the bag, and sealing the top, deposited it out of the way.
“I’m sorry,” Mycroft apologised quietly, his head resting against Greg’s shoulder, eyes closed again and looking the picture of misery.
“Shhhh….” the DI encouraged, wrapping an arm around his shoulder and looking across at John concernedly.
“Not to worry,” the doctor said lightly, “happens to the best of us. Once we‘ve got you into bed and you‘ve had some rest I‘m sure you‘ll feel better.” Mycroft didn’t look convinced but John knew that sleep was the best thing for him, even if it wasn’t the only thing that he was needing. Gently pinching the skin at the back of his hand, his suspicions were confirmed that he was dehydrated as well and that was a problem that the recent bout of vomiting certainly wouldn’t have helped.
A few minutes later, when John had sat back up on his seat and it looked like Mycroft had drifted off, the civil servant sat up suddenly, blinking heavily.
“I need to see the Foreign Secretary,” he said abruptly, looking towards Anthea.
“He’ll receive the debriefing we discussed on the plane within the hour Sir,” she said a little hestantly.
“This has nothing directly to do with that situation,” he said frowning, as though he was struggling to trace his own thought process. “There was something in the news last week about the new national curriculum and today’s papers were discussing the foreign language proposal…” he drifted off for just a second, “someone’s bound to use it as leverage in the run up to the discussions of article 14 and no-doubt James will react inappropriately and…” This made no sense to John and he wondered if maybe confusion was setting in but it seemed that Anthea was fallowing him completely.
“Of course sir, I’ll get someone to pay him a visit before he goes to church tomorrow morning.”
“No, it’ll need to be me… it’s been a delicate situation for months and there are a ridiculous number of possible implications should he take it in his head to say the wrong thing. Heaven knows Europe is a powder keg at the moment.”
John watched this all play out in front of him from the way that the elder Holmes slipped into his familiar persona and the frown that deepened on Greg’s face as his partner pulled away and straightened up.
“How about I arrange a phone call Sir?” Anthea suggested, still sounding a little reluctant and glancing sideways at John. Mycroft looked like he was going to protest for a moment before Greg squeezed his thigh gently and he backed down.
“Does it need to be tonight?” the policeman asked quietly and intently.
“It’s probably for the best if it is.”
“It’s just past half three now,” John said cheeking his watch, “How about we schedule the call for late on this evening? Say ten o’clock? That way you can get some sleep, eat something, take your call and then go back to bed?” It wasn’t an ideal situation from anyone’s point of view but he wouldn’t have been keen to let him sleep through without getting some nutrition into him. There was a momentary pause as all the parties considered the proposition.
“That would be acceptable,” Mycroft said eventually.
“I’ll warn his office that he should expect the call and I’ll wake you at nine thirty,” Anthea said decisively, turning back to her blackberry and her thumbs speeding away.
Seemingly as a gesture of reconciliation, Greg shifted in his seat & raised his arm allowing the civil servant to slump back in to the position he was resting in previously.
“Do you think you could manage some more water?” John asked, once things had settled back down again and Greg retrieved the bottle from the seat next to him. The other man’s frown was a fairly good indication that his stomach hadn’t settled so much as been cowed into submission.
“Will it wait until I’m at least in the vicinity of my own convenience?”
“We appear to have hit some traffic,” Anthea said, “our revised ETA is about another fifteen minutes.”
“I’d really like to start getting you re-hydrated before you fall asleep,” John said quietly and professionally, “it might mean we can avoid having to set up and IV,” he added knowing this might help convince him.
“Please?” Greg asked, holding up the bottle.
“Very well,” Mycroft agreed resignedly. “You wouldn’t happen to have another of those delightful bags would you Anthea?” She produced one, which John took and shook out just in case.
“Just a little at a time,” he reminded and Mycroft nodded doing as instructed, taking small sips, just enough to wet his lips, but it was better than nothing. “Any other symptoms in addition to the nausea and dizziness,” John asked after a few minutes, when it seemed as though the act of holding the water bottle was becoming increasingly challenging.
“Really, I’m just tired John…”
“He’s requested over the counter analgesics on a regular basis for the last several days,” Anthea added.
“My head has been a little sore.”
“I can’t remember the last time you took anything stronger than vitamin c,” Greg pointed out, frowning again.
“More than a little sore then. Please, I’ve agreed to take some time to sleep…” he was almost pleading again now, the bottle hanging limply from his hand, his elbows resting on his knees, his forehead resting in his other hand.
“I promise, once we’ve made sure there’s nothing more sinister going on and that you’re not in immediate danger I’ll leave you be Mycroft, but at the moment I‘m not convinced.” There was another moment’s tense silence and Greg looked at him as he sat forward resting his hand on the other man’s back.
“I… my head is throbbing, there seems to be something wrong with my internal thermostat and I can’t seem to get my muscles to co-operate.”
“That’s all to be expected given everything, no pain elsewhere?”
“No. Do you have… “ He held his hand out towards John and the doctor handed over the bag and watched the other man swallowing convulsively.
“Gregory…” he almost whimpered.
“Shhh love, we’re almost there,” and as though on cue, the car pulled up to the curb.
“Just… Just let me…” Mycroft mumbled.
Anthea opened the door, and exited the car, John followed her allowing the two men a moment of privacy and the civil servant a chance to compose himself.
After a few minutes, Greg stepped out of the car before leaning back in to help ease Mycroft out. It took two attempts to get him upright, even with an arm slung over Greg’s shoulder though, he slumped back against the car.
“Just a second…”
“This is ridiculous,” Greg sighed, “Mycroft, put your other arm around my neck, that’s it, hold on,” he urged, effectively moving the other mans limbs into place before bending a little and sweeping him up into his arms.
John knew that Greg was understatedly well muscled, and he didn’t seem particularly bothered by the additional weight, though he did pause when Mycroft nestled his head in the crook of his neck. Glancing back at John, he crossed the pavement quickly climbing the steps up to the door Anthea was holding open for them.
“Straight upstairs?” he asked when the door was closed.
“Yeah, take him up to your bedroom. I’m right behind you.”
“Dr Watson?” Anthea said just as he put his foot on the first tread, he turned to see her holding out his own medical case.
“Like I said, if there’s anything you need…” she held his gaze for several moments before continuing, “I’ll be in the study.” And with that she disappeared, leaving John to consider the fact that Mycroft inspired people to show their affection in variety of different fashions.
By the time he got upstairs and spotted the half open door, Greg had already settled his partner down on top of the covers.
“Still with us Mycroft?” he asked, and the other man opened his eyes, looking up at him blearily. “Good, let’s get you out of that suit shall we?”
“One step ahead,” Greg said, closing a drawer and holding out some striped cotton pyjamas.
It took several minutes for them to negotiate the many layers of tailoring that Mycroft was wearing and throughout the process the elder Holmes’ was pliant and mostly silent.
“Why don’t you go put the kettle on,” John suggested to Greg once they had him settled up against a bank of pillows. The DI looked at him momentarily outraged that he was being asked to leave, his concern obviously getting the better of him, before he realised why it might be helpful for them to have a little privacy.
“Sure, I’ll be back in a flash M,” he added leaning down and placing a chaste kiss on his partner’s clammy forehead.
“Right,” John said, perching on the side of the bed and waiting for Mycroft to turn to look at him, “lets have a proper look at you shall we? And then I can leave you two lovebirds alone.” He rummaged around in his own case for his faithful stethoscope, thermometer and bp cuff, all the while taking stock of the myriad of supplies that had been placed around the room ranging from emesis bowls (one of which had already been placed on the bedside cabinet - just in case), a well stocked drug cabinet and a defibrillator. Shaking free the momentarily disconcerting thought of having to use it, he set about taking some more specific readings.
“Well your temperature’s a little elevated but that’s to be expected and your lungs are clear which is good. I am concerned about your blood pressure though, so I’m going to start a drip and hopefully once we get some fluids into you, it’ll bounce back.” Mycroft grimaced enough to at least indicate he was listening and not entirely enamoured with the idea. “Enough of that,” John chided lightly, “I’ll have you know that I’m really pretty good at this. You won‘t even know it‘s there.” He started routing out what it was he would need, finding a stand and setting it up next to the bed. It was the change in his patients’ breathing that John spotted as he was hanging the re-hydration solution up, and managed to get the cardboard basin in front of the other man’s chin just before he vomited up the small amount of fluid he’d managed to consume since the last bout.
John had developed a fairly thick hide when it came to empathy - especially after working as a GP. It wasn’t that he ever liked to see people in pain or distress but he couldn’t help thinking how much worse off they could be, having said that however, he really did feel for the elder Holmes brother. He might not know him so well as he knew Sherlock but he did know him well enough to tell just how wretched he must feel to beg him to make it stop. Dry heaving was often worse than actually being sick and certainly wouldn’t be helping his headache any, so as it became clear that this spell wasn’t going to end quickly, John pulled open one of the drawers of the nearby drug cabinet.
“I’m going to give you an injection Mycroft,” he said, pulling up a reasonably generous dose of anti-emetic given the other man’s low body weight. Helping him onto his side, he pulled down the waist band of his pyjamas and carefully swabbed the area of skin. “It shouldn’t take long to kick in,” he continued, settling him back against the pillows. He looked utterly wrung out but when John moved to take away the basin, he was still clutching it fearfully. “I’ll just give you a fresh one,” he reassured though, given that the retching had already seemed to ease he was fairly certain it wouldn’t be necessary.
“We’ll just get you hooked up here and then you should be able to get some sleep…” he was just chatting for the sake of it now, as he inserted the cannula, hooked up the line and secured everything with tape.
“Gregory?” Mycroft mumbled, trying to sit up properly. John automatically put a restraining hand on his shoulder before following his gaze to the door where Greg was peering in.
“Hey, mind if I come in?” he asked, “I brought you tea.”
“Of course you can,” John replied with a reassuring smile. Starting the IV, he crossed the floor to take the mug. “Mmmm thanks,” he sighed, but the DI’s attention was already back on his partner.
“Oh, Love,” Greg said, sitting down next to Mycroft and trying to comfort the obviously distressed man.
“Gregory,” was the only response he got as the older man lent into the one armed embrace, once again burying his face in the other man’s neck.
Greg looked up at him, a questioning frown firmly set between his brows as he stroked the other man’s arm and whispered reassuring nonsense.
“I’ve given him something for the nausea,” he said quietly, gathering up his detritus, “so hopefully that’ll help him settle. I’ll give you some privacy but I’m only down the hall and I’ll be back in an hour or so to see how you’re doing.” And with that, he left them alone.
Organisation and supplies - check.
Anthea watched Dr Watson climb the stairs before turning away and heading towards the study. She loved her blackberry but the kind of work she needed to do now would be much easier on a proper screen. It took her approximately fifteen minutes to rearrange all the appointments that had been scheduled for the next thirty-six hours and then another fifteen to triage the documents that had come into Mr Holmes’ inbox since she had last checked while waiting in the car. Everything that got as far as the inbox was important, it was just a question of degree, but she managed to either answer the questions, ship the decision to another department or shelve the issue for attention at a later date. Once this was done however she found herself at a bit of a loss.
Before they had even taken off that morning she had known that she was going to need to handle her superior carefully if she was to stop him working until he collapsed. When they had arrived and Mr Holmes had instructed that they go straight to his office, she had known that she would need to take drastic steps. It hadn’t taken much to find where DI Lestrade was or to insure that they passed so close as to make it more than feasible that they stop on the way. The fact that Mr Holmes hadn’t seemed to realise that they shouldn’t have been anywhere near this particular public house on the way from City airport to his Whitehall office, just added to her concern. Once he was out of the car, she was relying on his partner to do the rest, but was confident that once the detective had seen him, there was no way he would let him go anywhere but home. It was simple good fortune that when the report on DI Lestrade’s whereabouts had come back, he happened to be socialising with Dr Watson and she was sure enough that the doctor would be coming back with them that she sent a request for basic medical supplies to be sent to the flat.
When there was still no sign of them after several minutes she sent a text to all three of them, hoping to help Mr Holmes realise that it was time to stop. Another minute and she opened the door and stepped onto the pavement scanning the Saturday afternoon crowds and watched the exit to the beer garden for them to appear. When she first spotted the unlikely group, she was once again struck by just how awful her employer looked but also by the way in which he was allowing the policeman to support him. Dr Watson looked every bit the medic and the soldier, his solid presence remarkably reassuring even from this distance and as soon as she saw Mr Holmes up close, she was even more relieved that they had the doctor with them. The journey was uncomfortable for many reasons, not least of all because she was acutely aware of how much it was costing her hugely private boss to be so vulnerable in front of anyone at all. So she did the only thing she could, provided what supplies she had in her reach and what information she considered to be necessary to expedite a resolution to the situation.
Now, with Mr Holmes’ wellbeing in the hands of someone else for the time being, she was left wondering what else she could do. She had heard the detective inspector come down the stairs while she was working, presumably because Dr Watson had forced him to. So when she entered the kitchen, intending to inventory the cupboards and fridge to check what she should have delivered, she was not particularly surprised to find the flat’s other inhabitant watching the kettle boil.
“Tea?” he asked, turning and offering her a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.
“Please, thank you sir,” she said, hanging back near the solid oak kitchen table.
“I’ve told you before Anthea, I’m not your boss, Greg’s just fine.”
“Sorry, Greg,” she said, locking her phone and pulling out a seat. She didn’t normally make herself at home here, but suddenly her entire body felt like it was filled with lead. Greg placed a mug down in front of her and she looked up to try and read his face.
“You look knackered,” he said, sitting down next to her, “you should try and get some sleep before this evening. There’s a guest room made up already.”
“I… thank you,” she settled for.
“No problem. I…” he paused, “I want you to know how much I appreciate what you do to look after him when I can’t be there,” he said, toying with his own mug. “He’s an obstinate sod at the best of time and he’s not great at acknowledging he’s human never mind fallible, so I appreciate the effort you go to, to look after him. And so does Mycroft.”
It wasn’t often gratitude was vocalised in the sort of circles she travelled in, and though she was in no doubt that most of the time her employer appreciated her dedication, it wasn’t the sort of thing he was likely to bring up. She stared at her mug, suppressing her blush and wondering what she was supposed to say to that. In the end she was given a stay of execution when he continued, “I had better take John up his tea. Have some toast or something and then go to bed - the second door on the right. There are towels out for you.”
“Just let me know if there’s anything…” she began.
“I know. Sleep - or I’ll send John after you too.” His look was chiding but his tone gentle.
“Yes, sir,” Anthea said with a half smile to his retreating back. Once she was alone, she took a moment to simply relish the quiet before she stood back up and started opening cupboard doors.
When Dr Watson came down the stairs, she was just about to send the shopping list to one of her assistants, along with a request for some clean clothes.
“He should be able to rest now,” he offered, without her asking anything, “I’m giving him IV fluids and we’ll review where we stand when that’s done.”
“I can get any tests you need done rushed through our labs,” she said, just in case.
“I think we’ll be fine, but it might be worth getting a reading on his electrolytes if he hasn’t bounced back by the time he wakes up.”
“Ok, well just let me know and I’ll make sure I have a courier ready.” There was a small voice in her head that sounded remarkably like Mr Holmes, pointing out she was talking more than was necessary or even prudent but things seemed different today and lots of the rules they normally abided by had been put aside. “I’m ordering some food, I’ve got all of Mr Holmes favourites and some staples but is there anything else I should have sent?”
“Clear broth, soup, cream crackers and ginger beer, actually you might want to make that ginger tea, this is Mycroft after all.” She nodded and he continued, “Are you going to get some sleep?”
“Yes, Dr Watson, just as soon as I get done here.”
“Good, is there any food in this place now?”
“There’s some bread I think - the deliveries shouldn’t be long and if there’s anything that you want…”
“I know Anthea… you’re the woman to get it. What I meant was that you should eat something before you go to bed, I’m sure you’ve had a pretty gruelling month too.”
“Nothing I can’t handle, doctor.”
“Oh, I’m certain of that. I’m going to put some toast on.”
She ate the toast, had a bath, was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow and it wasn’t until the alarm on her blackberry went off at nine o’clock that she realised how much she had needed the rest. A fresh suit had been hung on the back of the door and she dressed quickly before heading downstairs, checking the inbox as she went. She had meant to head to the study but when she reached the bottom of the stairs, there was a particularly appealing smell coming from the kitchen.
“I really shouldn’t be surprised that when you send out for shopping, an assistant arrives with bags from no less than six different shops and enough provisions to feed a regiment.” Dr Watson said, from where he stood in front of the hob.
“I wanted to make sure that if he wanted something it was already here,”
“Well, we’ll have to start simply but yes, the ridiculous diets are going to have to go out the window until he’s back at a healthy weight.”
“Yes, well of all the regimes I’ve been present through, the ‘no appetite due to high stress and exhaustion’ is my least favourite.” This earned her a smile. “I’ll speak to a nutritionist though, can you give me an idea of how much he’ll need to gain?”
“I’d give it the rest of the week to see what happens first, as long as he’s eating well then it might not need to be too drastic.” She nodded, pulling up the Foreign Secretary’s file and sending it to the printer in the study. Normally she wouldn’t bother providing Mr Holmes with any kind of preparation materials for this sort of call, but today she thought it might be better to be safe than sorry.
She was just replying to an another ridiculous request from an irrationally paranoid private secretary when Greg wandered back into the room.
“He’s awake already and wants to talk to you.” She checked the time on her phone before looking up, it was only twenty past nine.
“How is he?” the doctor asked, stirring the soup on the stove.
“He says he’s feeling better, he was all for getting dressed and coming down to his study but I told him to make it to the bathroom and back first.”
“How did that work out for him?”
“He made it to the edge of the bed but that was about it.”
“I’m surprised he managed that, do you know what woke him?”
“No, but he’s not exactly the best sleeper I know.”
“Hmmm, I’d have thought he was exhausted enough that he’d need wakening tonight, but never mind.”
“I’ll go up now if he’s expecting me,” Anthea said, “looking up from her phone.”
“We’ll bring some soup up in a minute,” John said, “try not to let him get too excited?” he added wryly.
Thanks for all your kudos, hope you're still enjoying and do let me know!
Mycroft does not take well to being handled.
Mycroft watched Gregory leave the bedroom and felt himself deflate. He knew he’d snapped at the other man, when all he’d done was show, what he suspected, was reasonable concern and now that he’d gone all he wanted was for him to come back. Sighing, he lent back into the pillows, closing his eyes and wishing he could entirely block out the fact that everything in his body was aching. He must have drifted off as he was startled awake again by Anthea’s familiar knock at the open door.
“I brought you some background,” she said efficiently, entering the room and crossing to stand next to the bed, “the Minister’s office has been told to expect your call at ten pm. Is there anything I can get you?” she asked, uncharacteristically - usually she just provided for his needs or waited for his requests. It was just something else that was different and it was just another irritation.
“No thank you, and you needn’t have provided the file - I’m quite as capable of holding this conversation as I am normally, even if Gregory is insisting I do it from here.”
“Gregory,” Dr Watson began, coming through the door bearing a tray, “has just the right idea. You’re going to eat some soup, make this call and then go back to sleep. Here, take this a minute,” he instructed handing the detective the tray, “let’s take a look at your IV shall we.” The smaller man was all doctor, and certainly in charge, and that too set him on edge.
“Certainly, as long as you remove it.”
“I’ll let you know when I think you’re ready for it to come out. At the moment, I still think you’re dehydrated. Soup, water, ginger tea and then we’ll talk about it again.”
Mycroft’s stomach turned as he tried to maintain eye contact, strongly suggesting to him that eating should probably wait until after the phone call.
“If it’s all the same, I’d rather go to the bathroom, wash my face and brush my teeth.”
“M,” Gregory began, sitting on the other side of the bed and balancing the tea tray on his knee, “please, you need to eat something.”
“And I will, but what I need to do now, is go to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth and then phone the foreign secretary to stop Europe from imploding in the next forty-eight hours.” They looked at each other for a long moment, neither blinking, before their peace broker stepped in again.
“Greg will help you to freshen up, and then you will eat crackers and drink ginger tea then and only then I will let Anthea give you the phone.” This was Captain John Watson and Mycroft noted absently that he could understand why he had been such a successful officer.
“Deal,” Gregory said. Mycroft considered his options before nodding tersely.
It took far more assistance than he was comfortable with to get across the stretch of carpet and into the en-suite and by the time he got there, he wanted nothing more than to be back beneath his covers and to be able to ignore the world for another forty-eight hours. He did his best not to let this show however and instead, he focussed on the task at hand. Once he’d performed the necessary ablutions he found that he was at least more awake, if not exactly rejuvenated by the time he made it back to bed.
“Thank you, “ he managed, as Gregory placed a chaste kiss on his forehead, “I’m sorry I…”
“It’s ok, I love you - even when you’re being unreasonable,” the other man said with a gentle smile.
“Right,” John interrupted the moment, “cracker first to work the minty freshness out before you try the tea.” He was all business again, and he glanced at the clock to find it was still only nine forty-five.
Fourteen minutes, two dry crackers and half a cup of tea later, Mycroft was still undecided as to whether it had been a good idea to try and put anything inside his stomach, he was however, determined to maintain his reputation for precise timing however so it was now or never.
“If I could have a little privacy?” he requested, taking the folio and fountain pen from Anthea before accepting the phone.
“I’ll leave the IV out just now, but it is going to have to go back in,” John warned with a pointed look.
“Whatever you say doctor,” he said mildly, checking that the correct number had been inputted, which of course it had. Once he was alone, Anthea pulling the door closed and no doubt setting up camp outside just in case he should need her, he hit the call button and gathered his resources for what he hoped would be a short conversation.
Half an hour later, he was fairly confident he had avoided disaster but he couldn’t really remember. He’d struggled to follow the last five minutes of the conversation, not least of all because he’d had to put the minister on hold for the ten minutes prior to that so that he could throw up the two crackers and the half a cup of ginger tea into one of those delightful cardboard basins. Thankfully, it was far from unknown for him to put members of the cabinet on hold, usually while he dealt with more urgent matters, but just occasionally to teach them a lesson. As soon as he had hung up, the door opened and he watched detachedly as Anthea had quietly entered the room, removed the notepad (only ever used for doodling as actual note taking was entirely too risky), the pen and the phone from his limp hands. He watched her, noting the fact that she had a bluetooth earpiece in and had probably been listening to the whole conversation but before the thought had progressed any further John and Greg had both returned. He blinked, trying to focus on Gregory’s face in front of him, but suddenly the other man’s features seemed indistinct and he was struggling to keep his head upright.
“… head down…” he heard someone else saying before a gentle hand on the back of his neck was pushing him down until his forehead rested on his bent knees. Someone was moving his arm, at least he was fairly convinced that he wasn’t moving himself, and then there was a pinch in his inner elbow. “… check his electrolytes and get a…” Try as he might to follow what was going on though, he couldn’t seem to focus and the grey at the edges of his vision was getting harder to fight.
The next thing he was really aware of, was an infuriating itch in the crook of his left elbow. It took several attempts to get his right arm to co-operate and when he did it felt like a sack full of wet porridge.
“Hey, don’t do that M,” Greg whispered sleepily from right beside him and he was suddenly aware of more than the itch, also the light seeping through his eyelids, the heavy weight of Egyptian cotton sheets and the warmth seeping from where his partner’s body was curled next to him.
“I’m not sure exactly what that meant,” Greg said and Mycroft could hear the smile in his voice, “but I’m glad you’re alive.”
“Me too,” he managed, his mouth seeming to stick to the words as he tried to force them out. “Wha… what happened?”
“Well, you put another incompetent politician in his place and then promptly passed out on us.”
“Oh…” was all he could think to say to that.
“How do you feel?”
“Tired…” he said, the only discernable thing that he could name.
“I’m not surprised,” there was a gentle hand brushing his hair off his forehead, “but it’s ok, you can sleep all you want. Soon.” Mycroft felt himself frown.
“Time?” he asked.
“Morning,” came the unhelpful reply.
“Time?” he asked again.
“A little after eight,”
“Good grief,” he forced his eyelids open, only to shut them again when the light resulted in the most excruciating pain lancing through his head.
“Just lay there, I’m going to go get John.” There was a kiss placed on his lips, and he smiled in spite of himself.
John’s hands were gentle but somehow his touch still felt invasive on his hypersensitive skin, and he struggled not to withdraw from it. Gregory had been good enough to close the wooden shutters behind the curtains which had left the room in almost complete darkness but at least that was allowing his eyes to adjust even if it felt like the inside of his eyelids were made from sandpaper.
“How’s the nausea?” the doctor asked, perched on the edge of the bed. Mycroft thought about this for a moment.
“Gone. Possibly,” he added.
“That’s good. Your readings are much better and seem to be steady even if your temperature is up a little further, but Greg can keep an eye on that. The good news is that if you manage to keep some breakfast down I’m going to take out the IV line and leave the two of you alone.”
“It’s not that we don’t like you John,” Gregory said with a gentle chuckle.
“Oh, not to worry, as much as your place is great - I miss Baker Street. Besides, I’ve had thirty-two text messages from Sherlock in the last hour, so I’m guessing he’s done with whatever it was he was up to and is ready to talk at me.”
“Good luck,” the policeman said, or at least tried to around a yawn.
“Indeed, I’m not sure I could live with him any longer, it was challenging enough when we were children.” Mycroft agreed as he watched Gregory pull a sweater on over his t-shirt and pyjama bottoms.
“Well I better go and find us some breakfast then,” he said when his head reappeared, “Anthea has stocked the larder but I sent her home last night.”
“Good, that’s good,” Mycroft said, his thoughts turning towards his diary and the appointments he knew he really couldn’t postpone. If he wrote of the rest of the day, he would need to push back his Whitehall meetings so that he could be briefed his head spun at thought of everything he was missing.
“Don’t,” John said, snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Don’t start thinking about work,” he expanded, continuing to sort his equipment back into his bag.
“I can assure you…”
“I can read you like a book Mycroft, and that’s exactly what you were doing,” he said, closing the catches with a definite click before turning to look at him sternly. “You’re an adult and more than capable of making your own decisions but you need to listen to what your body is telling you rather than just overruling it with your sense of duty and sheer determination. Greg’s already taken the time off and Anthea is perfectly capable of fielding for you. I guarantee if you go back to work and your usual schedule in the next week you’re going to end up flat on your back again before you can say cabinet reshuffle.”
“Really John,” he tried to protest, but the fact that he couldn’t even sit upright without a bank of pillows to support him and was still in bed, in the dark, at nine o’clock in the morning all conspired against him.
“Take the time now, or next time it’ll take you at least twice as long to get up off the mat.” Mycroft swallowed the instinct to retort, he respected John Watson and deep down he realised that he was correct.
“I… I will do my best to follow your advice, doctor.”
“Excellent - any chance you could encourage your brother to do the same?”
“I may wield considerable influence but not even I would claim to have that sort of power.” John smiled at this, and almost on cue, John’s phone buzzed several time in quick succession.
“I thought I’d distracted him,” the doctor said with a dramatic sigh, lifting the device and shaking his head as he scrolled through the messages.
“If you need to leave…”
“Sherlock can cope for another half an hour,”
“I come baring toast,” Gregory announced, re-entering the room and using his foot to swing the door to again.
“Excellent,” John declared, “I’m going to phone himself and make sure he hasn’t decided to experiment with anything more dangerous than usual. Take it slowly but see if you can managed a whole slice and a full cup of tea.”
Mycroft nodded and tried not to look like he was being walked to his death as Gregory set a plate and teacup down on the bedside table.
“You’re looking a bit better,” he said, brushing the stray locks off his forehead in an act of tenderness more frequent in the last twenty-four hours than the rest of their relationship put together. Rather than be irritated however, he felt a warmth rise in his chest and lent into the touch. “How’s your head.”
“Better,” he said, relishing the moment before opening his eyes and making a decision, “would you be good enough to contact Anthea while I eat? Ask her to clear my schedule until next week and not to contact me unless it truly is essential. I‘ll check in with her on Wednesday and we‘ll take it from there.”
“Course,” Gregory said with a true smile. Mycroft easily accepted the kiss that was placed on his lips, as the other man slipped a hand behind his neck helping to support his head as he lent into it. There were, Mycroft realised, far worse things than a week of rest and recuperation.
Thank you for all your support and I hope you have enjoyed what I've posted so far. I'm fairly certain that all that's left is a epilogue which includes the sceene that prompted me to write this to begin with. As ever, I love to hear what you think.
A Thursday afternoon.
Gregory looked up from his paperwork as one of his favourite scenes in the film approached but was surprised at the soft chuckle that came from the other end of the sofa. Mycroft was still sitting with his legs propped up on a stool, laptop on his knees, typing steadily away but obviously he had been listening more closely than he claimed.
“Can I help you Gregory?” the civil servant asked, pausing and turning to look at him over his glasses. Greg continued to look at him, relishing the sparkle that was returning to the still shadowed eyes.
“Just admiring the view,” he said with a smile, he was still far too skinny for his liking and sleeping almost twelve hours a day but it was so much of an improvement that he was happy to take what he could get.
“Well get back to your film and let me get on with this,” the other man said, in mock scolding.
“Uhhu, cause you’re not watching it at all.”
“No Gregory, I’m doing a little light report writing.”
“Oh, of course you are,” Greg said, playing along quite happily, “I’m going to put the kettle on.”
“Tea please,” Mycroft said, returning his attention to the computer screen. Greg collected his mug and the other man’s tea cup and the pot from the table and headed through to the kitchen.
In the four days since Sunday the two of them had spent more time alone together than they ever had before and he for one had relished every moment of it. For most of the first forty-eight hours Mycroft had done little but sleep but even the opportunity to see him resting was such a rare treat that he had spent hours just watching the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Opening the cupboard that housed the tea cadies, he selected an afternoon earl grey and reached for fresh cups. The sound of footsteps behind him prompted him to turn around and he smiled at Mycroft standing there in cords, a lambs wool sweater and his slippers, glasses hanging from his right hand.
“Can I help you, M?” he asked, “was I taking too long?”
“Just thought I’d offer you a hand,” came the casual reply, but Greg had to force himself not smile as Mycroft sauntered up to one of the cupboards and pulled out a packet of Rich Teas. He’d been slightly sceptical when amongst all the wholesome foods that Anthea had had delivered there had been six packets of these particular biscuits, but the first time that his partner had wondered into the kitchen looking for something other than dry toast and broth that was what he had settled on. They obviously weren’t a substitute for well balanced meals and Greg was certainly making sure that there were plenty of those to be had, but he got so much pleasure from seeing M eat something just because he enjoyed it.
“Come on,” he said, collecting up the tea things, “I didn’t pause the film and there’s a good bit coming up.”
“I paused it,” Mycroft replied lightly.
“Is that right?”
“I thought it was a simple way of avoiding having to listen to you complain about missing one of your many favourite bits of James Bond.”
“Many favourite bits of James Bond?”
“Well you do seem unnaturally attracted to him…” the other man said innocently, accepting the cup Greg handed him and dunking a biscuit in his tea, timing the move to his mouth to perfection. He knew Mycroft was winding him up but he was entirely happy to play along.
“Actually, I think I prefer his superior.”
“Is that, right?”
“Hmmm, I’m all about M,”
“Is that right? There is certainly something to said for Dame Judy Dench, even more so in person.”
“I’m certain that there is, but for the most part I like my crushes a little less female.”
“Well I certainly can’t complain about that,” he said, reaching for the remote control and hitting play.
“Come here you,” Greg requested holding his arms out and leaning back into the corner. Mycroft shut his laptop and placed it on the coffee table before shifting his teacup, the teapot and his packet of biscuits further up the table so that they’d be in easy reach before shuffling up and leaning back against Greg’s chest. It took some rearranging, but soon they were settled comfortably his arm wrapped around his partner’s waist and the other man’s head resting on his shoulder.
“We should do this more often,” Mycroft mumbled sleepily as the credits rolled, turning and curling in so that his head rested under Greg’s chin.
“What? Watch James Bond?”
“Maybe,” Mycroft replied, “Just the two of us getting to relax, to fall asleep on the sofa, eat an entire packet of biscuits and drink copious amounts of tea.” Greg chuckled, enjoying the weight against his chest.
“I agree entirely, I think I may have developed a thing for you lying on top of me and eating biscuits.” Mycroft slapped his chest.
“You wont say that when I’m twenty stone and squashing you entirely.”
“I love you now and I’ll love you when you weigh more than the average twelve year old, and I would love you if you weighed twenty-five stone.”
“Is that right,” Mycroft said in an entirely unconvinced monotone.
“Absolutely,” he reiterated seriously, shifting so that he could look the other man in the eye, “I mean, I’d be concerned about your life expectancy but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love you.”
“From the man who chases criminals for a living in a profession that has a life expectancy significantly lower than the civil service.
“How about we strike a deal, I’ll try not to get shot, or drink myself into an early grave, and you’ll never work yourself so hard you frighten me as much as you did at the weekend.”
“And we’ll try and do this one afternoon every now and again.”
“Agreed,” he said gently, carding his hand through the soft hair at the back of Mycroft’s head.
“Hmmm,” the other man sighed gently, settling back on to his chest. Greg could tell barely minutes later when he fell asleep, his breathing changing and his frame relaxing further into his. It was just another sign that there was still some way to go before Mycroft was back at fighting fit, but it was only Thursday and the schedule was still clear till Monday. So Greg simply settled down and reached for the remote, increasingly appreciative of digital technology as he searched the menus for another 007 to keep him entertained until he too slipped under Morpheus’ spell.
Well that's it folks, hope you've enjoyed it! Thanks for the Kudos it makes all the difference.