It was three in the morning when the knock sounded off at the door, waking Doctor John Watson from his drunken slumber. He was laying horizontally on the couch, his face smooshed down into the pillows when he heard it. At first, he thought he was imagining things, but then it happened again, much harsher than the first time, and he pushed himself into a sit, blinking away the sleep in his eyes.
John stood with a groan, his bones, and muscles sore from the couch, and he waddled over to the front door of his new flat, sniffing and rubbing his face. Upon opening the door, he noticed three things. 1.) It was raining. 2.) It was still nighttime, and 3.) Mycroft Holmes stood at the door, a man he hadn’t seen since Sherlock…
“Hello, Dr. Watson.” Mycroft smiled a not smile, his umbrella held above his head as the rain poured onto the illuminated streets outside. A sleek, black car sat out at the curb, waiting patiently.
“Jesus…” John muttered, checking his watch. 3 AM. Nice . “It’s… three in the morning, Mycroft, what could you possibly want now?” He blinked up at the elder Holmes brother, still trying to blink the sleep from his eyes.
“I see you’ve been sleeping on the couch… afraid to sleep alone, still, Dr. Watson?”
“Okay. See you.” John began to shut the door, but Mycroft stopped it with a fancy shoe, his eyebrows raising. He tsked, and John groaned. “What? What do you need?”
“I need you to come with me, Doctor. I’d say it’s important, but why else would I be here?” He hums, and John purses his lips. “Pack a bag, too. It might be a while.” With that, he walked off the front step and back to the car, sliding into the back and waiting. John stared forward, trying to not let his thoughts get ahead of him, and he turned to go do as Mycroft said.
Once inside the sleek, black car, with a duffle bag next to him, John waited patiently as Mycroft began to pull out file after file. The air was heavy with anticipation, and John cracked his knuckles while he waited for Mycroft to begin.
“So,” Mycroft broke the silence that hung heavy in the car, and John looked up at him, sucking in a breath. “I suppose I should start with the obvious, which is: Sherlock is alive.” He flipped through another file, not looking up from the papers. John stared at him, eyes wide. “He’s been alive. We faked the suicide, and from there he went on an underground mission to break apart the web that Moriarty wove.” He finally looked up from the papers, smiling another not smile at John, who blinked in disbelief. After John said nothing, Mycroft continued on, passing over a file.
“He got kidnapped about a year ago. Taken hostage, rather. He’d been in hell ever since, getting information for us… Up until last night.” Mycroft gestured to the file, eyebrows raising. “We finally located him and busted him out, where he remains in stable, but critical condition.” John looked down at the file, which remained unopened, and then he looked back up at Mycroft, who simply smiled at him.
“Okay,” John blinked a few more times before rubbing his eyes. “Okay, wait. Wait. You’re telling me… you’re telling me that Sherlock Holmes is alive ? And you expect me to be okay with this?”
“I thought you’d be pleased,” Mycroft tipped his head, and John threw the file back into his lap.
“ Pleased? Mycroft, I’m pissed! I’m fucking livid!” John yelled. Mycroft kept a blank expression, eyebrows raised slightly. “He’s- I- We mourned him, Mycroft! He broke my heart into a million pieces and you’re telling me he’s alive?! ”
“-I don’t want to bloody hear it!” John roared in the back of the car, and Mycroft made a face, shushing him softly.
“I understand you’re upset, but it’s his dy-”
“-If you say his dying wish… I swear.” John growled. “If you’re taking me to the love of my bloody life, just to tell me that I get to watch him die all over again, then you’re out of your bloody mind!”
“He wants to see you, John,” Mycroft said calmly. “Only you, no one else. He won’t speak, he won’t eat. We’ve had him for…” He glanced at the watch on his wrist. “Fifteen hours and he’s trying to give up already. It’s either you or death, in his eyes.” Mycroft was cool and calm during this ordeal, and John sniffed, looking out the window of the car, ending the conversation.
It was an hour’s car drive to the airport, and from there it was a 1 hour and 30-minute flight from London to Frankfurt, Germany. When they landed, they got into another car for three hours before arriving at a Maximum Security Military Base.
Upon arriving at the Military Base, John anxiously watched out the window of the car as they drove down a dark tunnel. Mycroft was on his phone, sending out a few text messages before pocketing the device and turning to gaze out the window as well. Once the car was parked, the two got out of the car, John marching next to Mycroft. His knees felt weak and his arms felt heavy.
They reached the inside of the base and passed through many different areas before finally arriving at the hospital inside the base, which all seemed to be underground. John stayed close to Mycroft, watching as military men and women marched around the base, taking and giving orders. Mycroft had lead John to a door, which was shut with the lights off inside, except for the glow of medical equipment. John readied himself, and Mycroft opened the door quietly, both of them stepping inside.
“Brother, dear,” Mycroft said in a hushed tone, closing the door behind John. The room was dark and cool, and in the bed lay a broken Sherlock, slightly propped up in the hospital bed. Surrounding him were IVs and drains. A mask sat over his mouth, and John could make out the stubble growing on his chin. He was shirtless, bandaged from the shoulders down, and John felt his heart break in half. Sherlock’s hair was long- much longer than John had ever seen it, and Mycroft sighed as they approached the bed. John perched in a chair next to the bed, reaching out to gently brush his fingers over Sherlock’s hand.
“Critical, you said?” John whispered to Mycroft, who nodded solemnly. John nodded back, running his thumb over Sherlock’s knuckles. Sherlock was quiet and unmoving, the heart monitor beeping steadily as he slept. “Is he on any sort of-”
“-Morphine, yes. Don’t worry, it’s controlled.” Mycroft replied, voice soft, and John nodded. Mycroft eventually excused himself from the room and John leaned over the bed to brush Sherlock’s unruly hair out of his face.
“What have they done to you?” John murmured to Sherlock, who snored in response. “What have they done?”
Waking up to a face full of a hospital bed is a very confusing thing, especially when you don’t remember going to sleep. That’s exactly what John Watson did, his bach aching from the position he slept in. When he finally woke up enough to remember the night previous, he sat straight up in his chair, eyes wide.
Sherlock Holmes was alive, and if his brain wasn’t playing tricks on him, then Sherlock was sitting right next to him. Except, it wasn’t really Sherlock. It was a ghost of the man John once knew. This man sitting in the hospital bed was thin, much more thin than usual, and his hair was long and scraggly. He had the beginnings of a beard growing around his mouth and on his chin, and he was hooked to all sorts of drains and drips and things that kept him alive. John felt himself shudder as he reached out to take his friend’s hand.
“Oh, Sherlock…” He sighed, reaching forward with his free hand to brush the scraggly hair out of his face. He still remained propped up in the hospital bed, his mouth open from the slack in his jaw. He snored in response, and John smiled to himself, tears pricking the back of his eyes. His best friend, the love of his life, was alive. He was alive and everything was going to be okay.
Sherlock’s hand gripped onto John’s very suddenly, and John looked down at their hands before looking back to Sherlock. He brushed his hair from his face once more.
“I’m right here, Sherlock.”
Sherlock grunted, his brow knitting together as he began to pant, the mask growing foggy from his hot breath. His chest began to heave, and John stood as Sherlock began to wake up, tears flowing from his eyes. He let out a broken sob, and John gripped onto his hand, awkwardly hovering over the bed.
“I’m right here,” John repeated himself. “You’re safe, Sherlock, you’re safe.” He reached out to brush his hair back again, but Sherlock’s hand met John’s wrist, his grey eyes wide in fear. John stared back at him, eyes wide as well. The grip on his hand was strong, and John felt himself wince as Sherlock began to twist his wrist away. No words came out of the detective’s mouth.
“Sherlock!” John yelped as Sherlock’s nails dug into his skin. “It’s- Hey! Hey,” John grabbed Sherlock’s face with his free hand, giving him a good shake. Sherlock blinked. “It’s me! It’s me!” The grip loosened and Sherlock blinked again, the mask foggy from his hot breath. “It’s me,” John repeated, and Sherlock let go of him, hands shaking. His cheeks were wet with tears, and he watched John carefully. “It’s alright, now,” John said, rubbing at where Sherlock had a hold of before sitting back down. Sherlock didn’t take his eyes off of him.
A knock sounded at the door, and Mycroft entered the room, a tray of food in hand. He smiled sweetly at Sherlock, who stared at him with wide eyes.
“Brother, dearest,” Mycroft cooed- actually cooed , and John blinked. What world was he in where Mycroft Holmes coos ? “I’ve brought you a childhood favorite.” He holds the tray up, and Sherlock continues to breathe heavily, his hand snaking its way back into John’s. “Peanut Butter and Jelly. No crust.” He smiled again, and Sherlock blinked. John bit back a laugh.
The great Sherlock Holmes didn’t like the crust on his sandwiches.
Mycroft set the tray on the table and smiled softly, gently tucking the blanket up around Sherlock’s waist. John watched, in awe, as Mycroft took care of his brother. It was like there was never any old childhood fights, any childhood arguments that drove the two apart.
“Doctor Watson,” Mycroft said as he brushed back Sherlock’s long hair and sighed. “We’ve got quite a busy day today… tests, haircuts, wash-ups.” He eyed the doctor before uncovering Sherlock’s food and smiling at his brother once again. “We ran some tests yesterday, once Sherlock arrived here… He has a minor TBI, as well as some major injuries- hence the bandages.” He gestured to the bandages around Sherlock’s chest and abdomen, and John looked over Sherlock, eyebrows raising.
“We also believe he’s traumatized to the point of no return, Doctor Watson. He has, uncharacteristically, not spoken a word since he arrived, has clung to me like a child would his mother, and lashed out at our doctors here at the base.”
“Yeah, that’s… very uncharacteristic of him.” John nodded, looking up at the elder Holmes brother.
“We want to approach this like you would a scared child, John. We don’t know what he’s endured for the past year, only that it was hell .” Mycroft sniffed, with his eyes on John but his hand on Sherlock’s shoulder. “What might we deduce from all of this?”
“... PTSD?” John squinted, and Mycroft smiled another not smile.
“ Bingo. ” He hummed. “Be careful with him, Doctor Watson… this is not the man you grew to love.” Mycroft turned and left the room, leaving John with Sherlock once again.
After a slightly unsuccessful lunch, two nurses came into the room with an IV, both of them smiling sweetly. Sherlock eyed the both of them, then the drip. John looked at Sherlock, then back to the nurses.
“And what’s this about?”
“Mycroft’s orders,” One nurse said. “Sedate Mr. Holmes until we’re done with everything.” She said, and the other nurse carefully approached Sherlock’s side. Sherlock glared at her, his body leaning towards John. She smiled sweetly and took his arm, carefully wiping down the inside of his elbow with a wet cloth.
“Now, hold on.” John stood, watching the nurses. “He wants you to sedate him? Why?”
“He’s violent, Doctor Watson.” The other nurse spoke, her gloved hand running over Sherlock’s pale skin. Sherlock’s eyes fluttered. “Now, love. Quick pinch.” She stuck the needle into Sherlock’s arm, causing him to jump slightly. “I know, oh, I know.” She cooed as she adjusted so the sedation was entering Sherlock. Within minutes, he became groggy.
The two nurses began to remove his bandages once they proved that he wasn’t going to lash out, and John watched curiously as they undid him, revealing the horrible wounds that ran down his back. He’d been flogged. John felt tears prick the back of his eyes as he looked over Sherlock’s broken and bruised body, the detective’s head hanging loosely as he drooled and groaned.
Once they changed his bandages, they propped him back against the bed, wiped the drool from his face and began to sheer the detective’s hair. John watched as they cut his hair, gently moving his head around as they did so. Sherlock didn’t react, didn’t flinch, didn’t do much of anything besides sit in the bed. John patted his arm as they finished up by shaving his beard.
Sherlock’s face was thin, his black hair an unruly mess even though it was now short. Everything felt wrong and out of place, and as the nurses removed the drip from Sherlock’s arm, John felt himself getting sick. He quickly excused himself and ran out of the room to the nearest bathroom.