When John shifted slightly in his bed, Mycroft shot around, his face not revealing any traces of emotion. In his fake polite voice he said: "Hello, John. How are you feeling?"
"Dunno. How do you feel after nerve agent poisoning?" John answered with a smirk. He didn't simply want to say fine, because that wasn't true at all, but he didn't feel like elaborating on his health condition to Mycroft either, convinced that he would know about his medical record anyway.
Mycroft's only response to his reply was a raised eyebrow.
"As I have said already, John, I have questions. I assumed you might be well enough by today to be able to answer at least some of them."
"Yeah, I have a couple of them as well, Mycroft."
"If you need my help, I won't go running off," a slightly muffled voice came from the other side of the room. Sherlock had woken up, touchy as ever in the presence of his brother.
Mycroft turned around again to face Sherlock.
"Brother dear. I am very pleased to be able to visit you in this location instead of a cemetery. I hope you are feeling better," he said, his face blank, apart from a fake smile that didn't reach his eyes. However, John was convinced that his words were a genuine reflection of his feelings.
Sherlock responded with the same fake smile.
"I heard you had a hand in my rescue. I thought you'd show up a little earlier that day, though, which would have saved John from the trauma he had to go through."
"No, you didn't, your brain had been put out of action –it didn't work, ergo, you didn't think! Besides,… can't you just say thank you?!" the older Holmes scolded, all traces of a smile, whether true or false, having vanished from his face.
"Oh, I have already, Mycroft, to someone who deserves it."
"Sherlock! Stop this NOW! You are being unfair! I told you that you wouldn't have survived without his help!" John pointed in Mycroft's direction, glaring daggers at Sherlock. "You and your sentiment-is-a-chemical-defect-behaviour! Absolute children, the pair of you!"
Even the lightest banter between Mycroft and Sherlock turned into a skirmish, which blew John's top. Mycroft would never just admit that he did care, and Sherlock would never acknowledge his caring. And yet, John himself had seen otherwise. Once again he wondered if there was a deeper reason to it than just a childish feud, but Sherlock would never talk about these things, let alone Mycroft.
Both, Mycroft and Sherlock were staring at John in annoyed amazement.
"Mycroft, let's get to the questions…," John went on, calmer now, trying to defuse the situation.
"Yes, John. And to let my brother rest a little more, I will start questioning you."
There was a muffled grumble coming from Sherlock's direction, but, he didn't say anything.
"You have already given a brief report that day, however, it was somewhat fragmented. I assume that was due to your agitation concerning my brother. So, please try to recall the events once more and tell me every detail."
With a sigh John started talking and told the most powerful person he had ever known (apart from probably the elderly woman who was watching him from the picture on the wall, although they hadn't met personally) everything he remembered: Sherlock's experiments on the kitchen table when he left for Tesco's, the guy that John had bumped into on his way home, Sherlock's odd behaviour, the petri-dish with the death's head and his assumptions about the courier. John was convinced that Mycroft would use his power to find the errand boy and, if there was anybody else involved, those, too.
Mycroft didn't comment on anything John said, his face remaining deadpan. The doctor's report was accompanied by Sherlock's annoyed grumbling, although he didn't intervene until the point when John started talking about the errand boy. He interrupted his flatmate and, as fast as he was capable, filled them in on his observations on the courier.
"He pretended to be a courier from St. Barts, which, admittedly, he managed quite well – well, that's not too difficult for even the worst of actors. He delivered the petri-dishes with the mould cultures that I had expected. I do remember him looking at me for one second too long, which should have raised my suspicions! Well, it did, …, " Sherlock raised his eyebrows, then frowned, "but from then on I can only recall opening one petri-dish after the other for examination until, when putting it away, I saw the little picture in one of them. I cannot remember anything after that until waking up here a couple of days ago. How ... unpleasant! ... And there are gaps in my memories of even the past few days." Sherlock added between gritted teeth.
"Aftermath of the poisoning," John mumbled to himself.
"Thanks, John, I know that!"
John looked at Sherlock. "Well, I thought you might have forgotten, as you've just mentioned being forgetful about some things," he teased. He hadn't at all intended to offend Sherlock, although he should have known better. His flatmate simply didn't like being told obvious facts himself, but didn't mind doing it to others in a much more irritating manner.
"Don't think, John! Leave that to those who can do better!"
John pursed his lips in expectation of an apology or at least of something that could count as such, since Sherlock never really apologized, but the Consulting Detective only glared at his flatmate.
"Sherlock, that, actually, was…a bit not good!" John stated.
"A bit not good – a bit not good!" Sherlock aped his flatmate. "I don't care about a bit not good!"
John was dumbfounded. If he hadn't been confined to his bed due to the dizziness that befell him on a regular basis, he would have turned on his heels and left the room instantly. That bloody git! Hadn't he just saved Sherlock's life twice? Was this the gratitude Sherlock had talked about a couple of days ago? And hadn't he just said that he thought John had deserved it? Insults, that was how he showed gratitude! Wasn't it possible to have a normal conversation with him?
Calm down! John told himself. It's just nerves.
"Sherlock!" Mycroft snapped with a warning undertone. "We do want to find out who attacked you, don't we? So, behave!"
Sherlock turned his head from Mycroft and John, closing his eyes in annoyance.
"Who was involved in the breeding of the cultures?" Mycroft enquired, forcing himself to speak in a calm voice.
"Mycroft, if you want to find out, just go to Barts and ask! You know where I send my experiments," Sherlock replied briskly without turning his head back, clearly signalling that he wasn't willing to talk to his brother anymore.
The tension in the room was almost tangible. Didn't they all simply want to find out who the culprit was? John wondered if it was his vulnerability that made Sherlock exceptionally irritable. John himself wasn't completely comfortable in Mycroft's care and he could imagine that Sherlock, as much as he despised the display of any weakness, probably tried to hide his true condition and emotions from his brother. However, John and Mycroft were the closest people to Sherlock, and he should have learned by now that he could trust them.
"Sherlock, he wants to HELP!" John reminded him angrily. Not only had he been scared out of his wits seeing his flatmate almost die, but John could easily have fallen victim to the Tabun as well, so he was interested in throwing light on the whole case, too. "Now, be cooperative!"
"Thanks, John, your support is very welcome. You see, brother dear, at least one part of the strange couple you make understands my goodwill," Mycroft added, the first bit almost obsequiously, the second rather coldly.
"Mycroft! We're not a couple! Damn it!" John was furious. Talking with both the Holmes brothers definitely required more patience that he could muster at the moment.
Ignoring Mycroft, John addressed Sherlock, "If you had sent the petri-dishes to Barts, wouldn't it have been Molly who had taken care of your experiments?!" John suddenly felt a pang of worry; he hadn't even wasted a single thought on Molly's welfare so far.
"Ms Hooper hasn't come to any harm, I can reassure you," Mycroft interrupted John's thought. "So, either she had been involved herself, which I assume is highly unlikely due to … well, herself, …or manipulation of the petri-dishes was carried out later." The older of the Holmes scrutinized his younger brother. "Sherlock, have you upset any of London's criminals lately?"
Sherlock shifted in his bed, facing Mycroft he stated bitingly, "As if you wouldn't know! That is my profession, brother dear!"
John sat up in his bed, shaking his head and throwing a pleading glance at the Queen. He couldn't understand why Sherlock and Mycroft had a row about anything and everything. "Boys, this is leading nowhere! If you…" John's voice trailed off when he noticed Sherlock screwing up his face, suddenly writhing in agony.
John was terrified. He jumped from his bed as fast as his dizziness allowed him and crossed the room to Sherlock's bed in a few large strides. In his agitation, he forgot about his own IV, causing the drip stand to almost tumble over, which in turn was only prevented by Mycroft's fast reaction in catching it.
"God, Sherlock, what is it?"
Sherlock's heart monitor set off a cascade of irregular and fast beeps, clear signs of his pain. Sherlock had curled up on his side, facing John and Mycroft, his eyes closed, and protectively covering his head with his arms. He was alternately moaning and holding his breath.
The door flung open and Dr Smith with Nurse Sunny hurried into the room, pushing John aside quite forcefully.
John noticed the brief glance Dr Smith exchanged with Mycroft. Since the latter stood behind John's back, he couldn't see Mycroft's reaction. With the hint of a nod Dr Smith slid his hand into his right pocket and took a syringe from it, which he emptied into one of the IV bags. John watched the scene, completely confused. He was, on the one hand, relieved when only a short time later Sherlock seemed to relax, his heartbeat becoming more regular and slowing down, his tensed body finally slumping. On the other hand he was alarmed by the little exchange of glances and nods.
"What's that?!" John requested. "What did you give him?" Judging from his medical experience there were a couple of substances that could have this effect, however, since the reason for Sherlock's fit wasn't clear, John was speechless that he was being administered any medicine without any further examination or testing! Besides, Sherlock's treatment was a delicate matter anyway, many of the substances dangerous for a body that had been used to drugs once; and a substance with an effect he had just observed, had to be quite strong, most likely somehow neurotoxic.
"John, you have to trust us. I assure you we know best how to take care of Sherlock, don't we?" The last two words were uttered with a creepy smile on Mycroft's face, which made John shudder.
A couple of minutes ago, John hadn't had the slightest doubts about Mycroft's goodwill, but his conviction had been shaken a little.
"You don't give him Diazepam, that much I know, which is, on the one hand, terrible and dangerous for his state of mind, but which is, on the other hand, fine for his body, taking into account that he has a history of drug abuse, but what the fuck is that?" John pointed to the syringe still in the doctor's hand.
"Now, now, John! Such nasty words…"
"You won't tell me anything, so I've got no choice but to tell you how I feel in no uncertain terms! Now tell me!"
"As I said, you have to trust us. We are only acting in his best interests."
"Well, perhaps you can tell me then why I sometimes doubt that."
John was completely confused. From what he had seen the past days he was convinced that Mycroft spoke the truth and was only acting in Sherlock's best interests, and yet he couldn't find an explanation for why he hadn't been given any information as to Sherlock's treatment.
"Dr Smith, I'd like a word with you outside," Mycroft ordered. "I will let you rest now. Good-bye, John." With a last glance his brother's bed, he left the room, followed by the medical team.
Sherlock still lay on his side, seemingly sound asleep, no traces of any suffering. And yet, John knew that his sleep had been induced by a drug that was apparently a secret that he couldn't be trusted with. Why else would Mycroft and this doctor of his refuse to tell him anything about it?