Disclaimer: Sherlock, along with its characters, location, etc. are the property of BBC and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I do not own them, though I definitely wouldn’t mind being on a first name basis with Benedict Cumberbatch.
Pretending to be Okay
Mycroft didn’t know how long he had been held hostage. He was only dimly aware of his surroundings, too drugged up to rely on his inner clock to tell him how long it had been. Mycroft estimated it had been about four days, simply because of how many cuts, gashes, and bruises that he could feel littering his body.
He was strung up from the ceiling, elbows and shoulders aching from being held up for so long. He calves ached too, because they had pulled his hands up just far enough to make Mycroft stand on his toes.
Mycroft felt blood seeping out from under his dirty, tattered shirt. His vest, jacket, and tie had long been discarded by his kidnappers. He stood in the room barefoot, in his suit trousers and his button-down shirt, which was untucked and buttoned incorrectly. They had to unbutton it quite often, in order to torture him into submission.
Mycroft was holding out as best he could, dimly wondering if his baby brother had been put on the case instantly, or if the Secret Service had tried to find him first. Mycroft used the last of his strength to try to deduce who had taken him, and how long it would take Sherlock to find him.
Mycroft felt the bottom of his shirt tickle his belly, and he snapped out of his deductions long before he could figure out what was happening. He blinked as he registered that the door had been kicked open, and two of his tortures were standing in front of him.
Mycroft suppressed a whine as the shorter man unbuttoned his shirt and tied it around his cuffed wrists. Mycroft braced himself as the taller man reached for a riding crop. He just barely stopped himself from screaming as it made contact with his already bruised and beaten skin. He felt the man hit him a few more times before reaching for a thick metal pipe and swinging it into Mycroft’s ribs.
This time Mycroft was unable to suppress his scream as he felt several ribs crack under the attack. He found himself fighting for breath and he was beaten harder. He felt the pipe make contact with his spine at an alarming speed, and forced himself to squirm against the unholy amount of pain he was in just to make sure that he wasn’t paralyzed.
Mycroft found himself hoping that Sherlock would find him soon, because he didn’t know how much longer he could survive.
The smaller torturer, tired of watching the taller one have all of the fun, reaching for a long, sharp hunting knife. He caressed the blade for a moment before swiping it across Mycroft’s chest, leaving Mycroft gasping for air. It wasn’t dangerously deep, but the sting of the blade and the shock of warm blood trickling down his skin sent Mycroft into a breathless gasp. The man swiped the knife across his skin a few more times, making Mycroft whimper as every pain receptor in his brain screamed for relief.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the taller man started packing up his things. Just when Mycroft thought he was going to get some relief, if only for a moment, the smaller man did something entirely unexpected.
He sprung forward and plunged his knife into Mycroft’s left shoulder, severing the muscles that held his arm to his torso.
Mycroft screamed in agony, unable to muster the strength to hide behind his usual façade of indifference. That sort of injury would be excruciating by itself, but having his arm yanked above his head, supporting most of his weight…
Mycroft’s brain shut down almost instantly, and he was unconscious before his torturers even left the room. His body simply could not handle the amount of abuse it was enduring.
If Mycroft had been awake, he would have found himself praying (yes, praying) to any possible deity who would listen. If Sherlock didn’t find him soon, within the next day or so, he would die right here in this sterile, bleached room that was too bright for Mycroft’s sensitive eyes.
Alas, Mycroft was floating away in blissful unconsciousness. He would stay that way for eight full hours before being forcefully awakened for another round of excruciating, agonizing torture.
Mycroft could hardly keep his head from lolling on his chest two days later, which was why he found himself more relived that he had ever, ever been when Sherlock busted down the door to his prison.
If Mycroft had been his usual alert, calculating self, he would have noticed the flash of fury in Sherlock’s eyes as he took in his brother’s state. Sherlock was about to run from the room and find Mycroft’s torturers when a Secret Service agent unlocked the cuffs holding Mycroft up, causing the eldest Holmes to collapse into his baby brother in a heap.
Sherlock yelled for paramedics as he assessed his brother’s condition further. He quickly unbuttoned his brother’s shirt, wincing as he noticed the stab mark through Mycroft’s shoulder. Sherlock knew without a doubt that the knife had sliced through the muscles holding Mycroft’s shoulder together like butter, and Mycroft would need extensive physical therapy if he was ever going to be able to use that arm properly again.
Mycroft had quickly fallen unconscious again as soon as he had fallen into Sherlock’s arms, meaning Sherlock could assess the wounds without causing his brother harm. He let his fingers ghost over the slashes across Mycroft’s chest. He yelled for paramedics again, brushing Mycroft’s sweaty hair back from his face.
The paramedics arrived, lifting Mycroft from Sherlock’s arms onto a gurney. Sherlock nearly fell over when his brother’s shirt fell from his arms and he saw the injuries littered across his back.
Sherlock sniffed and pushed past all of the Secret Service agents on the way out of the compound, shoving himself into the back of the ambulance so he could ride with his brother. He texted Lestrade, who had worked the case, and asked him to make sure things were taken care of. Lestrade, of course, promised.
As soon as the ambulance pulled up to the bay, Sherlock was practically pushed out of the vehicle as Mycroft was handed off to the emergency room nurses. Sherlock tried to follow, but was denied access to the surgical wing. He sunk down into a chair and steepled his fingers. He had been so bloody worried when Mycroft had gone missing. He felt energy drain from his body as he slowly realized that there was simply nothing else he could do. The rest was up to Mycroft and his doctors.
The kidnappers had set up the clues like a game of Cluedo, which meant that John’s help had been invaluable during the investigation, as Sherlock still didn’t understand the concept of the game. Sherlock shot John a quick text, thanking him for his help and informing him that he would be staying with Mycroft for a while.
He spent the rest of his wait avoiding any and all thoughts about what would have happened if Mycroft had died…
After five hours, a surgeon walked out of the double doors leading to the operation rooms, calling out for family of Mycroft Holmes. Sherlock was at the doctor’s side in a second. He explained the severity of Mycroft’s wounds, and how they had fixed him up the best they could.
“Most of his injuries were surface wounds, so they should heal just fine. But he has four broken ribs and that stab mark through his shoulder… he may never be able to use his left arm again.” The doctor stated, sympathy in his eyes.
Sherlock gulped down air as he tried to avoid the prospect of a partially paralyzed Mycroft. “When can I see him?” he forced out.
“He’s being settled in his room right now. I can lead you there.” The doctor said politely, turning around and leading Sherlock through the double doors, his hands clasped behind his back.
Sherlock muttered a quiet but polite “thank you” and hurried after the doctor, secretly wishing that he would walk faster.
When they reached the room, which was naturally surrounded by about fifteen Secret Service agents, uniformed and plainclothes, Sherlock had to take a moment to steel himself before entering.
He had taken a complete inventory of Mycroft’s wounds when he had been holding him waiting for the paramedics, but seeing Mycroft like this, laid out in a hospital bed like a corpse, made Sherlock choke on air.
Sherlock forced himself to move forward, gingerly sinking into the chair next to Mycroft’s bed. After a moment, he reached out and lightly grasped his brother’s hand, smiling tightly when he felt a pulse. Weak, but steady.
Sherlock didn’t know how long he sat there before his body forced him to succumb to sleep, which he had been abstaining from since he first got the case. He wasn’t sure how long he slept, just that the relief from finding Mycroft alive was enough to knock him out and keep him asleep, for once, without any dreams.
Mycroft wasn’t sure how long he had been unconscious when he awoke in a daze. He felt that he was lying in a bed, and he felt a firm grip on his hand. Everything else was far from his reach as he fought to remain conscious. Mycroft blinked the blurriness from his eyes and looked down, smiling when he said his brother slumped over, his head resting on the bed. He smiled at the warm, comforting pressure that Sherlock’s hand was exerting on his own.
Mycroft could not help but gently squeeze the hand encased in his own, which caused Sherlock to stir and wake, yawning and scratching his head. His hand did not leave Mycroft’s.
It took Sherlock a moment to adjust to his surroundings, but when he did, Mycroft saw him swallow a sob.
“Thank God you’re alive, Mycroft.” They both pretended not to hear the catch in Sherlock’s voice. “I was so worried that I wouldn’t find you in time.”
“I’m alright, brother mine.” Mycroft whispered. He wanted to reach over and pat Sherlock’s head, where his curls were frizzy from being unwashed and not styled, but he found that he could not move his left arm.
“Yeah, that’s not going to work for a while. They… um… well, the muscles in your shoulder were severed. It’ll take months, maybe even years of extensive physical therapy to regain use of that arm. It may not ever happen.” Sherlock explained, an apologetic look on his face. “I’m so sorry, Mycroft.” He muttered, squeezing his hand.
“It’s quite alright, brother dear. I am right-handed anyway.” Mycroft dismissed the injury as if it were nothing, but inside he was in complete, utter turmoil. He could hardly contain the sob that tried to escape his throat at the thought of never being able to use his left arm again.
“Mycroft, you don’t have to pretend to be okay in front of me.” Sherlock whispered. “I know you’re not alright.”
“Perhaps not.” Mycroft conceded with a watery smile. “Thank you for finding me, Sherlock.” He whispered.
“Always, brother mine.” Sherlock replied quickly. Mycroft could tell he wasn’t lying. “I will be there with you as you recover. I promise.”
“You don’t have to…”
“I want to.” Sherlock patted Mycroft’s arm clumsily, unused to being this close with him. Mycroft knew that Sherlock loved him, and he loved Sherlock. They were just unused to showing it.
“Alright, Sherlock.” Mycroft found it hard to talk around the lump in his throat, so they lapsed into silence.
It had been four weeks since Mycroft was kidnapped and tortured. Most of the superficial wounds had healed (leaving some nasty scars), but Mycroft’s ribs were still tender and his arm would still not move.
At the moment, Mycroft was attempting to sleep. His efforts worked until about two hours in, when he entered his first REM cycle. All of a sudden, Mycroft was overwhelmed by the horrifying memories of his kidnapping and torture, and he woke with a scream and sob wrapped up in one.
He had jostled his broken ribs in the process of waking up, which made him hurt even more.
He hoped that he hadn’t woken Sherlock, but sure enough, he heard soft footsteps outside his bedroom door only a few moments later. Sherlock knocked politely, and Mycroft adjusted his sitting position so his ribs didn’t hurt as much before calling for his brother to enter.
Sherlock didn’t say anything, just like he didn’t say anything any other night. He quietly padded into the room, leaving the door slightly ajar, knowing that Mycroft had always felt claustrophobic after nightmares.
Mycroft noticed Sherlock noticing that he was in pain. Without saying a word, Sherlock lifted Mycroft’s t-shirt and carefully unwrapped the gauze that was stretched tightly around his ribs. Mycroft let out a controlled breath as the gauze released the tension on his ribs. He could not stay unwrapped for long, but the feeling was blissful for a moment.
“Thank you, brother.” Mycroft said, for the umpteenth time since Sherlock had brought him home from the hospital and refused to leave until he was better.
Sherlock gently sat beside Mycroft on the bed, being careful not to jostle his ribs. “Are you alright?” Sherlock asked quietly. This was their routine: Mycroft would wake from a nightmare, in both physical and emotional pain, and Sherlock would come and take care of him. He would even go so far as to pretend the nightmares didn’t happen, if that was what Mycroft needed.
Tonight, though, Mycroft found that he could not bring himself to be anything less than honest.
“No, Sherlock.” He turned, looking his brother in the eyes for maybe the first time since Sherlock had (temporarily) moved in. He had been so embarrassed the whole time, grateful for Sherlock’s help but mortified that he needed it. Now, he needed to look Sherlock in the eyes and be honest about his feelings, no matter how hard it was. “I don’t know how to recover from this.” Mycroft turned and looked at the floor, his voice cracking.
“I’m here for you, Mycroft, whatever you need.” Sherlock carefully, so carefully wrapped his arm around Mycroft’s shoulders, clearly being mindful of his ribs. Mycroft gently leaned into the embrace, needing the contact with his beloved baby brother. He would normally scoff and shout and refuse if Sherlock tried to hug him, but he found that he needed that hug desperately. He clung to Sherlock’s dressing gown with his good hand, trying to force his tears back into his ducts but failing completely.
Sherlock froze when the first sob left Mycroft’s throat, but soon recovered. He traced circles on his big brother’s back with one hand, using the other to guide Mycroft’s partially paralyzed arm to his own back and holding it there. Mycroft let out another sob and buried his face deeper into Sherlock’s chest.
“I’m here, Mycroft, I’m here…” Sherlock muttered. Mycroft felt a tear hit the top of his head and started to cry even harder. He had always known that Sherlock loved him, but to have his cool and collected little brother crying because he was injured was something that Mycroft was quite unprepared for.
They stayed in Mycroft’s bedroom, embracing, for a long time. When he finally calmed down enough to pull away, Mycroft straightened gingerly and wiped at the tear tracks on his face. He felt better, but embarrassed.
“Sherlock, I’m sorry, I…” he started to apologize.
“Shut up, Mycroft.” Sherlock rasped out. He stood and walked over to the first aid kit on the end table (there was one in every room in the house), grabbing the gauze and moving back over to his brother.
Sherlock carefully lifted Mycroft’s shirt above his head, and then wrapped the gauze tightly but gently around his healing ribs. When he was done, he taped it off and slowly lowered Mycroft’s shirt back down.
“Thank you, Sherlock.” Mycroft said quietly, making eye contact once again.
“Always, brother mine. Always.” Sherlock muttered. “Will you be okay?” he asked quietly.
For once, Mycroft was sure that he would be okay. “Yes, I think I will be, Sherlock. Will you?”
Sherlock nodded and helped lower Mycroft back down onto the bed before backing out of the room. He took a final look at his big brother before padding off to the guest room, leaving the door open just how Mycroft liked it.
Mycroft smiled and closed his eyes, feeling safer with Sherlock in his house than he ever did when there were Secret Service agents in every nook and cranny of where he worked.
Mycroft drifted off to sleep, peaceful for the first time since before the attack. He did not have nightmares.