Title: The Case of the Suicidal Brother
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Pairings/Characters: Sherlock/Mycroft brotherly love. No incest! Oh, and Sherlock/John friendship to a lesser degree. Also 'Anthea' makes an appearance! Because she's awesome.
Warnings: TRIGGER WARNING: suspected drug abuse, suspected suicide by drug abuse, swearing.
Spoilers: The usual.
Summary: Mycroft is suspected of trying to kill himself by drug overdose. Sherlock refuses to believe this - Mycroft just isn't the type. …Is he?
John is used to the Holmes' bickering - in so far as you can be used to two men who seem to have half of any conversation with their minds so that normal people can barely understand what they're even arguing about - but even with his usual difficulties, he can tell this argument isn't quite going the way the rest have.
Oh, it has started typically enough, with Mycroft half-persuading and half-threatening Sherlock into taking up a certain case, and Sherlock point-blank refusing to, but instead of it skittering into trivial insults ("How's the diet?" "Fine.") Mycroft has just seemed to get…infuriated.
It is…weird. John has seen Mycroft get a little snappy, usually when Sherlock is properly acting like a spoilt child, but he's never seen him full-out temperamental before. He is sitting strangely too, perched on the edge of John's chair, and he keeps fiddling with his tie and running his hand along his brow. Even from the other side of the room, John can feel the discomfort pouring off of him, replacing his usually calm demeanour.
"Aren't you getting tired of wasting your life yet?" he is practically snarling in Sherlock's direction. "Or do you just enjoy being an unreasonable little tit?"
Sherlock plucks at his violin, apparently unaffected, but John practically has a PhD in Sherlock Holmes Studies now, and the slight twitch at the sides of his mouth doesn't go entirely unnoticed.
"Anyone want some tea?" he asks to try and break the tension, but is, as per-usual, completely ignored. He goes into the kitchen and turns the kettle on anyway, listening to the rest of the conversation going on in the living room.
"Just because I don't try and run people's lives like some people think it's acceptable to do - "
"How is your credit card bill, Sherlock?"
"I don't need your interference - "
"And I don't need your whiny self-obsessed - "
"Then maybe you should stop invading my house and do your own bloody legwork!"
"Mummy wouldn't - "
"Bribery doesn't - "
"Are you going to take the case or not?"
Mycroft stands up so suddenly and ominously that John thinks for half a second that he is actually going to hit Sherlock, and apparently Sherlock does too because he shifts half an inch back on his chair in pre-emptive self-defence, but Mycroft makes no other move towards him.
"Now you listen to me, you ungrateful little brat," John hears him hiss in a very un-Mycroft-like voice, all full of fury and emotion. "At some point you're going to realise just how well you've been treated by all of us and just how badly you've repaid us in turn, and when you do I'm going to demand payment." He strides towards the door, opening it with perhaps a little more force than it really needs. "Until then," he snaps, "You can sort out your own bills. And I'm telling Mummy that it was you who made Mrs Lawson stop coming to the Christmas parties."
And with that he sweeps out of the flat.
John hands a fresh cup of tea to Sherlock, who takes it silently.
"Bit harsher than usual, wasn't he?" John tries to say offhandedly.
Sherlock scowls. "No," he says, but John can see the faint tremor in his fingers when he picks up his violin again.
He sips his own tea and says nothing.
Sherlock says nothing to John, but when John borrows his phone later that day, he sees a number of messages that have been sent to Mycroft, none of them replied to.
It's early the next day, when they're at a crime scene and Sherlock is bent over a fresh corpse, that Lestrade interrupts them, brow furrowed under his silver hair worriedly.
"Hey Sherlock," he says, waving Sherlock's phone in the air. "Got a call for you."
"Busy," Sherlock says, scraping under the corpse's fingernails.
"It's about your brother."
Sherlock's shoulders tighten almost imperceptibly, but John observes it regardless. "Very busy."
Lestrade shifts from foot to foot, apparently uneasy about saying it front of the team, but comes out with it anyway. "He's in hospital, Sherlock."
Sherlock turns his head, successfully diverted.
Sherlock plays unconcerned very well, lounging in the taxi seat as if the driver can take all the time in the world for all he cares, but John is a human and a Sherlock-specialist, and he sees the tight line of the jaw and the slight distance in the eyes as clearly as if Sherlock were screaming and shouting in panic.
Mycroft is at a very select, private hospital, which doesn't surprise John one bit. His diagnosis does, though.
"Sorry," he says, "Drug overdose?"
The doctor nods, grim-faced. "Apparently suicidal, although no note has been found and Mr Holmes is still unconscious."
John snorts. Sherlock says, "That's ridiculous," in a very calm voice.
"We found over 750mg of cocaine and heroin in his system," the doctor says just as calmly. "For a hardcore addict, that would not necessarily constitute an overdose, but it is obvious your brother has not taken either drug before now, thus signalling to us a suicide attempt. He was found just in time though, and should recover soon. Would you like to see him?"
When Mycroft was thirteen, he was very ill for quite a long time. Sherlock was too young to know what exactly was wrong with him, but he has always remembered how colourless Mycroft looked, how ghostly and how unfocused, as if he was only just in the world. Mycroft recovered easily, but the image has stayed with Sherlock.
He looks the same now, lying in the hospital bed in his private room, machines whirring beside and around him. He is as pale as a corpse.
Sherlock sits down in the seat beside the bed. John hovers for a bit, then takes place in the other seat on the other side of the bed.
Sherlock inspects Mycroft's face. Mycroft always did look older when he was asleep; paradoxically more tired even as he was resting.
"Why d'you think he did it?" John says after a while.
Sherlock sets his jaw. "He didn't. He wouldn't do this sort of thing."
John rubs his chin, glancing sidelong at Sherlock. "He's got track marks all up his arm, Sherlock. And no sign of force or coercion on him. I've read the notes, the drugs were definitely self-administered."
Sherlock looks at the track marks, darkly patterned up Mycroft's white arm. He carefully touches one, a pale finger against pale skin, and watches his finger glide gently up Mycroft's forearm.
"He wouldn't do this," he whispers again.
John leaves to talk with the doctors and find some sort of coffee. Sherlock pillows his head on his arms and looks at Mycroft. It is silent, apart from the constant beeping of the machines, and Sherlock looks at Mycroft as if he is trying to unravel his latest mystery, and Mycroft stays still and ghostly.
Finally Sherlock says aloud, "What happened to you?"
Only the machines make any reply.
"You have to admit, it makes a sort of sense," John says, when he comes back with the coffee. "The way he was acting yesterday, for instance."
Sherlock still has his head in his arms and his voice is muffled when he says, "He's not like this."
"Maybe it was stress," John suggests, as kindly as he can. "You know he keeps everything close to the chest. Maybe it got too much."
"Things don't get too much for Mycroft." Sherlock casts his eyes over Mycroft's still, pale face again. His lips are practically colourless. A sudden lump starts forming in Sherlock's throat.
John presses the coffee into Sherlock's hands. "Drink up. You'll feel better."
Sherlock drinks to force the lump back down.
"You're not meant to do this," Sherlock calmly informs the still unconscious Mycroft late that night, when John has gone back home to give Sherlock some time alone. "I'm meant to be the out of control one. Not you."
He looks at the track marks again. He wonders if he has been thinking of Mycroft as some kind of god, as some being that is all-powerful, that is never wrong, that is never weak, and this is why such a revelation is so discomforting to him. Not because the situation is wrong, but because Sherlock is wrong. He wonders if he would have noticed anything amiss, if he had not been idolising his older brother. He wonders if this is partly his fault.
Mycroft would call that last thought a perfect example of Sherlock's self-obsession. Sherlock curls his fingers around Mycroft's. Here, in the silence and emptiness of the room, there is no one to see.
"There's got to be something wrong," he says.
Sherlock is awoken from a light doze when the door opens a bit later. He looks up to see 'Anthea' hesitating in the room.
"Doctor Watson said you were here," she says. She doesn't have her Blackberry in her hands for once, and she is looking at Mycroft as if she has never seen him before.
Sherlock briefly follows her gaze, scans Mycroft to make sure nothing has changed since he fell asleep, then looks back at her.
"You were looking for me."
'Anthea' tears her eyes away from her unconscious boss. "Yes, I thought - I said it to others, but no one really - thought about it - but I thought you might."
Sherlock feels his pulse quicken. "What is it?" he says, still calm, as calm as Mycroft would be in this situation.
'Anthea' bites her lip worriedly. "I found him," she says. "I was the one who found him. He was lying on the bed, he was unconscious, but that wasn't the - his door was unlocked, Mr Holmes."
Sherlock blinks. "Unlocked?" In all the years Sherlock has known Mycroft, Mycroft has never felt comfortable unless his door is locked.
'Anthea' nods. "Yes, his front door. Not open or forced, but unlocked. He never leaves his door unlocked. Ever…it's the first thing he does when he gets in, he locks the door behind him. I used to tease him about being paranoid - " She cuts herself off, biting her lip harder.
Sherlock says, slowly, thoughtfully, "If he was going to commit suicide, he wouldn't leave his door unlocked - the chance of being found and revived - "
"That's what I thought." 'Anthea' meets his eyes earnestly.
"Someone must have unlocked it," says Sherlock, mind working at a thousand miles an hour. "Unlocked it and drugged him - "
"How could they do that without him struggling?" Anthea asks, but Sherlock's eyes are shining, shining like they do when they have realised something.
"Because he was already drugged," he says.
"This is making no sense," John says when Sherlock comes back all awhirl and wakes him up at four in the morning.
"But it does," protests Sherlock, thrusting a cup of tea at John, who rubs his eyes and takes his seat. "It completely explains his actions yesterday. They drugged him - perhaps with the same drug, perhaps with something else, but it was such a small amount or so similar to the other drugs in his system that it was missed by the scans. But whatever it was was enough to eventually make him so defenceless that someone could pick the lock of his flat and inject him with the drugs, making it look exactly like he'd done it himself."
"Why?" John asks. "But why would they do that?"
"Either to kill him or to simply discredit him, both would be just as detrimental to his work." Sherlock is pacing back and forth, ruffling his hair, and he feels more alive than he has in days. "It explains it all - Mycroft is an absolute nightmare to everyone when he's feeling under the weather - the drugs must have been just affecting him when he came to visit - I knew he couldn't have done it, there would be no reason to - "
"All right, all right," John protests. "Right, let's just calm down a sec shall we? And sit down for God's sake, you're making me dizzy."
It's a mark of just how much Sherlock is out of it that he promptly obeys John. John ruffles through his hair; thinks this through.
"Where's the evidence?" he asks finally. "Sherlock, this sounds preposterous, even if it's right, no one's going to believe this without evidence - "
Sherlock grins and waves his phone at John. "That's where Lestrade and his fine forensics team come in handy."
Two mornings later, when Sherlock comes into Mycroft's private room, the man himself is sitting up in bed, flicking through a sheaf of papers which 'Anthea' is handing him. His face is full of colour, movements as crisp and economic as ever, and the relief warms Sherlock to his very toes.
When he opens the door, he not only gets a glance away from her Blackberry from 'Anthea' but also a glowing smile; apparently he is her new favourite person by saving her boss. He files this away in his head as useful.
Mycroft does not smile when he looks up and sees Sherlock, but his eyes crinkle at the corners just slightly, and Sherlock knows this to be better than a smile any day.
"Did the information help?" Sherlock asks. Lestrade and his team found DNA from a couple of suspects, but only Mycroft can work out who they're working for and what this person wanted (and what they now deserve).
Mycroft nods, flicks through some of the papers. "I did have my eye on the man for a while, but I didn't think he would stoop so low." He examines one paper and frowns. "More fool me."
The lump returns to Sherlock's throat when he says, "Did he want you dead?"
Mycroft shakes his head. "Unlikely. He left the door unlocked, after all, so that I could be found. But he will not succeed in discrediting me, especially now his man is suspected." He smiles; a sharp smile, like a knife, which spells trouble for whoever is involved.
'Anthea's phone beeps. She glances at Mycroft, who nods graciously at her, and then exits, giving Sherlock an extra smile on the way out.
Sherlock takes her vacated seat and places his hands on the edge of the bed, forcing the lump back down again. There is a brief silence.
"John tells me you never accepted the possibility of my suicide," Mycroft says finally, breaking the silence.
Sherlock shrugs, reminding himself to tell John to shut the hell up next time. He doesn't mention those few scant hours where he doubted himself. There is no point. He was right in the end.
He fiddles with the sheets on the edge of the bed. After a moment, one of Mycroft's hands - full of colour now, thankfully full of colour - slips forward and covers Sherlock's, squeezing his fingers gently. Sherlock takes this for the gesture that it is and puts his head on the bed, silently celebrating the return of his god-like brother.
Their next meeting at 221b is strange once more, but this time it is because they are practically being nice to each other (well, nice for them, anyway). They even respond to John's offer of a cup of tea.
John thinks wonders will never cease.
Author's Note: I freely admit a woeful lack of knowledge concerning drug abuse and overdoses - I have done my best to research what I can, but to be honest, if there is anything amiss, you'll have to blame it on artistic license…I hope you enjoyed the story anyway :).