Sherlock suddenly shut the lid of the laptop, swung his legs out of the bed, got up and ran out of the room, leaving a stunned John behind.
"Sherlock, what are you doing?" he yelled, knowing that his flatmate had got up far too fast.
"Nowhere…," John finished the sentence drily. "Sherlock!" He got up from the chair hastily and as quickly as possible followed the Consulting Detective, only to find him a few steps away down the hallway, lying unconscious on the floor.
"That was – predictable," John muttered. He wasn't really worried, as after such a blood loss and a couple of days of bed confinement, getting up that fast naturally resulted in orthostatic hypotension and in fainting.
After quickly getting some blankets and cushions, he rolled the unconscious man on his back, wrapped him in a blanket and lay his legs up onto the cushions to get the blood flowing from them into his head.
John knelt down at Sherlock's side and gently slapped his cheeks.
"Ok, Mr. Runaway, wake up!"
It took a couple of minutes until Sherlock's eyes fluttered open.
"I told you about the close acquaintance you'd make with the floor if you rushed up like that," John remarked with amusement.
Sherlock grumbled, blinking his eyes.
"Still dizzy? Stay put, it'll go away."
"Guess, no other choice," he murmured, closing his eyes again.
He stayed like that for some more minutes, John still by his side. Then he opened his eyes, looking at his flatmate determinedly.
"I have to get up, so be a friend and help me."
"Does that imply that, as your doctor, I wouldn't help you?"
"You might want me to go back to bed."
"As your friend I actually want you to do that, as your doctor I order you to do it instantly!"
"I really have to talk to my dear brother," Sherlock said scornfully, trying to sit up and kicking away the cushions.
John reacted quickly and pushed the Consulting Detective back down on the floor, leaning all his weight on him. "Stay there! And now tell me why you suddenly feel the need for a family visit. You know, I did have a look at the documents, too, but I didn't see anything, so fill me in!"
Sherlock struggled to free himself of John's weight, but had to realize that he was too weak and John too strong. So he finally gave in, sighing in deep annoyance.
"I assumed you read the papers, but, as always, you didn't really look at them," he stated caustically.
John slightly let go of Sherlock for a split-second, but then let his full weight push him down again immediately, causing the man on the floor to hiss in pain.
"You're hurting me!" Sherlock complained.
"So are you; so think about what you're saying!" John replied angrily. He really didn't feel like being insulted by his flatmate. He was tired, exhausted and sick of being in a constant state of stress.
"Ok, ok, let go of me!"
John shifted a bit, taking away some of his weight from Sherlock, looking at him expectantly.
"My family was- or is- involved in some dirty business and Mycroft knows about it!" he stated bitterly.
"What do you mean? The Tabun testing?"
"Exactly. There are watermarks of family coats of arms on the papers. You can hardly see them in the photographs. However, there is one that I know very well and would recognize from the tiniest of traces – "
"Yours!" John exclaimed, letting out a puff of air.
"Oh, wow, so you think…. Well, what do you think?"
"I think that my sod of a brother is hiding something from me and that I really want to get up and question him about it!"
John felt Sherlock's anger and yet knew that the younger Holmes' condition simply didn't allow him to go anywhere.
"You're not going to make it, so I suggest we bring your brother here. However, as he has just stolen some documents from me, I reckon, he won't really want to pay us a visit at the moment."
"He will," Sherlock replied viciously, "and you'll make him."
"Will I? So, what's your scheme?" John asked, slightly confused by the fact that the Holmes family might actually have been involved in a war crime. He wondered how Sherlock felt at the moment. It couldn't be all the same to him, as it was his family; and in fact he was fuming, his glance revealing something dangerous that John had never seen before.
"Let's just pretend that the drug he gave me wasn't actually as harmless as he kept insisting."
"Well, I must say that doesn't really sound like a lie. I still consider it risky. And I am convinced that your nosebleed may have been caused by it."
"That's not important, John."
"Hang on, let me just get this right: You've just found out that your family and maybe your brother have something to do with the testing of weapons of mass destruction on innocent people, and you are still not worried about Mycroft testing drugs on you? You still trust your brother in that?"
"I do. Although Mycroft is the second most dangerous man I know and he has the means and the people to develop and test any vicious drug, weapon, whatsoever, he wouldn't conduct lethal experiments on innocent people and he definitely wouldn't get involved in any business as dirty as that. As you might have noticed, he has strong moral principles."
"Some people might understand that. I don't. You despise your brother, at least you keep telling me so, but you deny some rather obvious facts, don't you?"
"I don't expect you to understand, just accept it. Plus, I'm not denying facts, I can simply judge them better than you! You know as well as I do that there are better weapons than this nerve agent that doesn't even work reliably, so why should Mycroft have anything to do with its testing? Nevertheless, he knows something about it and there must be a reason why he thinks he has the right to access my brain and delete my memories! If my family are involved in a war crime, why am I not supposed to know?"
"Dunno. Whatever it is; it's your family, so I reckon, you know better anyway. I'm out of my depth."
"Yes…" Sherlock noticed the dangerous look on John's face and skipped the rest of what he wanted to say.
"Right then. Let's pretend you are suffering from some nasty after-effect of the drug Mycroft gave you. I suggest you just stay where you are. You're as white as a sheet anyway, so that makes it easy to pretend something has happened to you."
Sherlock made a grumbling sound. "Then call him."
"I don't have to. I just have to walk down the street a few metres and tell the doctor waiting in the car that you're not well. He'll be here instantly and I assume your brother will, too."
"Oh; so there is a post out there?"
"Yup, just in case. One of the prerequisites that I had to accept to be allowed to take care of you here."
"Big brother is watching you."
John was taken aback and shot a surprised glance at Sherlock. Had he just been joking about his brother? John had been convinced so far that his flatmate was highly ignorant in the field of literature, considering books that didn't hold any specific factual information generally useless and not worth reading.
"Well, England isn't quite Oceania, but I guess, that hits the nail on the head."
"Eh?" Sherlock gave John an uncomprehending look. So his reference to one of the most important works of utopian literature had just been accidentally. He had meant it literally.
"Forget it… - Sherlock, what I really don't get is why Mycroft is standing by whenever you are in danger? On the one hand it looks like he cares about you, but on the other hand he took the risk of killing you with that bloody drug! He manipulates your mind to hide something dreadful that has to do with your family or maybe even himself. I can't rid myself of the feeling that your brother is a damn good actor and just pretending to care for you. I'm scared of him, Sherlock, I really am! Damn it!"
"Oh, John, calm down," Sherlock looked up the slightly trembling doctor. His fists were clenched, his face red in excitement. "I'm pretty sure he won't torture us or make us disappear somehow. So get him here!"
The ex-army man pursed his lips, straightened his shoulders and went into the direction of the staircase determinedly. He was completely confused. None of it made sense. He had witnessed that the usually calm and collected personification of the British Government seemed to have lost his composure, but John had always had this nagging feeling that there was something about Mycroft that didn't convince him of his apparent brotherly care and desire to act in Sherlock's best interest. The man had two facets of personality, of that John was sure, but he wasn't at all sure what these facets were.
John walked down the stairs mechanically; then remembered that he had to act. So he stormed out of the front door towards the black limousine, waving his arms furiously. The back door of the car opened immediately and a man in a black suit emerged from it, holding a mobile phone to his ear.
"What's happened, Dr Watson?" he asked while grabbing a large black case from the back seat of the car and moving into John's direction.
"I'm not sure; he was perfectly fine, but suddenly fainted and is still unconscious. I cannot wake him, his pulse is elevated, didn't have time to check on blood pressure, though - there are signs of cerebral haemorrhage. We might have to take him to a clinic, if there's still enough time. Get Mycroft here, just in case…"
"He's on his way."
"Alright, then hurry up."
They hadn't actually talked about what they were going to pretend, but John was sure that Sherlock would keep pretending to be unconscious until Mycroft was there. They only had to ensure that Mycroft's doctor wouldn't recognize the false alarm, or, if he did, that he wouldn't tell his boss about it.
The two men ran back to 221B and up the stairs into the flat. Sherlock was lying on the floor of the hallway to his bedroom, just as John had left him there. Admittedly, it really didn't need much imagination to think that he might be in immediate life-threatening danger. He was incredibly pale and hollow-cheeked and John felt a sudden and very real pang of worry.
Mycroft's doctor crouched down beside Sherlock and examined the apparently unconscious man. When he checked on his pupils, John suddenly noticed that Sherlock wasn't acting – he was out cold.
"Getting the oxygen," John remarked and quickly went into Sherlock's room to retrieve the breathing aid. Most likely the reason for Sherlock passing out on the floor was that he had just got too little oxygen after the unusual exertion of getting up too fast and running around. And yet, he was beginning to worry that he might be wrong or that there was something that he hadn't noticed.
In fact, he was also worried about what would happen if Sherlock didn't wake up soon. Both the doctor and Mycroft himself would think him completely incompetent and an idiot for suggesting that Sherlock might be suffering from a cerebral haemorrhage! There were no real signs for it apart from the unconsciousness and he would have trouble explaining.
When John returned with the oxygen flask, the man in black was busy with preparing an IV.
Alright, mate, if you don't want another IV then wake up now, John thought.
He covered Sherlock's mouth and nose with the breathing mask and adjusted the oxygen flow when suddenly Mycroft stood in the hallway, smiling.
"So you found out," he said drily.
"Erm, Mycroft, I don't know what you're talking about but your brother's unconscious again, as you can see, and I…"
"You don't have to keep acting. Sherlock, get up."
"He can't, Mycroft, he's unconscious! And why do you bloody think we're acting?" John yelled. He stared at Mycroft, feeling extremely uneasy. It suddenly crossed his mind that Sherlock had been right about big brother watching them. Of course - they were dealing with Mycroft! Not only had he taken the documents, but apparently he had also installed cameras somewhere while he, John, had been too absorbed in treating Sherlock and worrying about him. So he had watched everything that had taken place in the flat and drawn his own conclusions, if he hadn't simply overheard them as well. And yet, he had apparently missed out his brother fainting.
Mycroft didn't say anything, but just gave John a vicious smirk, tilting his head slightly. His superiority was literally streaming from him, soaking everything around him in intimidation.
"He is unconscious," John added weakly, noticing that Mycroft's doctor nodded in the older Holmes's direction.
Mycroft's eyes flickered in his brother's direction, and John suspected he could see just a trace of concern in the older man's expression – an emotion that was just as quickly masked.
"Nothing, though, that cannot be cured with some more oxygen," the medical man stated.
John stood up from his kneeling position and sighed deeply.
"Alright, Mycroft, then once and for all, let's talk straight."
"This is, in fact, none of your business, John. It's something that my brother and I will talk about when he's woken up, but I will not discuss this with anybody outside my family."
"He is my family."
Both John and Mycroft shot around in the direction from which those muffled words had come.
Sherlock had his eyes open, the oxygen mask still on his face, and was watching the two men.
"Repeat that," Mycroft spat disdainfully.
"Yeah, repeat that," John mumbled quietly to himself, shaking his head in disbelief of what he had just witnessed.
Sherlock took away the breathing mask and supported his abdomen with his arms to get into a half-sitting position.
"You understood what I said!" he hissed dangerously.
Mycroft's unpleasant smile broadened.
"I thought that Dr Watson might have some influence on you, but I really hadn't expected that he would turn you of all people in the world into a family man." The last two words dripped with sarcasm.
John had watched the scene, stunned. He raised his arms calmingly. "Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT! – Sherlock, if you want me to stay, I'll stay, if not, I'll go."
"Stay," he ordered, having locked eyes with his brother. Anyone who would dare to step between them would instantly drop dead because of the daggers they were glaring.
The situation was so awkward that in fact John felt a strong urge to run away from the two Holmes brothers, but he resisted it and threw a quick glance at the doctor in black, who apparently felt as uneasy as John. However, he would never dare to say a word if he didn't want to lose his job, his reputation and his chance to ever get another occupation. Mycroft nodded slightly and the man left, rather fled. He had literally escaped Circus Maxiumus, the lions circling each other, waiting for the moment to tear apart each other if not the bait. John felt like the latter, although he knew that he wasn't the target of the two, he would just be the victim of a displacement activity. If they were animals, Sherlock would be the loser because he was already on the ground, but it really didn't look like that at the moment. In fact, Mycroft averted his gaze, turned around and walked into the living-room.
"Well then, so be it."