When John had entered the kitchen earlier, seeing Sherlock on the floor with the scalpel in his hand, he had been on the verge of a panic. John felt that death had been hanging over them lately like a sword of Damocles. However, this time, unlike the other times, it would have been self-inflicted, the very belated outcome of cruelties done to a boy. John wondered if, back when Sherlock had been ten and abducted, Mycroft had done the right thing. The doctor asked himself if anybody had the right to intrude on the memories of another person, brother or not, and amend or even delete them. Weren't memories the only property nobody else should ever have access to but the owner himself? If John had been there back then, what would he have done? As a youth? He didn't know. He wouldn't have had the ability or the means to do anything anyway. As a doctor? As such, he was bound to an oath to only act in the patient's best interest, but had the deletion of the memories been an act of best interest or rather of helplessness? If John were to make a decision today he definitely would decide against it, because his code of conduct wouldn't allow such a thing. However, he had to admit that Mycroft probably really hadn't had much of a choice; he had said that Sherlock had been dying.
Either way, John knew one thing for sure: the brothers had to work together to overcome both their traumas for he was convinced that the abduction and what had happened afterwards wasn't only Sherlock's trauma but Mycroft's as well and John would do what he was able to to support them, probably by forcing them to help one another.
After Sherlock had re-emerged from the bath, a little colour had come back to his cheeks; not that they were rosy, but the deathly paleness had subsided at least a bit. John forced him to sit down at the table and have a cup of coffee as well as some scrambled eggs. As usual the thin man didn't eat with much appetite, but at least he did eat without complaint.
John joined Sherlock, not because he was hungry – he was actually far from it, his stomach churning over Sherlock's mental condition -,but because he wanted to serve as a model. He thought about how to open the conversation carefully, in order not to upset Sherlock again and risk a resumption of the behaviour that he had shown the last days, and, therefore, put him in danger of another suicide attempt –whether it had been accidental or not.
Sherlock chewed thoughtfully. "They didn't do it properly."
John stopped bringing the fork to his already open mouth, frowning. "Uhm, what? Who?" He put the fork down on his plate.
Displaying a tiny little bit of his old self, Sherlock gave John an annoyed glance.
"Tobias and Mycroft. They didn't do the deletions properly. Amateurishly, rather."
"Oh, Sherlock!" John leaned back on his chair. "Keep in mind that they didn't have any experience; not with deleting memories from anybody else but themselves, let alone from a child, a dying child! They saved your life and I think you should be a bit more grateful despite what you're going through right now. It had worked for quite a long time, don't forget that. How could they have known that some twenty years later you'd have to deal with it again? Not that I knew anything about mind palaces and intentional saving and deletion of data and whatsoever, but I reckon they did a fabulous job compared to the rest of your family. "
Sherlock stared at the fork in his hand, saying nothing. He suddenly stood from his chair, almost knocking it over and started pacing the room, clutching to the fork in his hand, his silk dark blue dressing gown swirling around him. All of a sudden he stopped at the table and stabbed the cutlery into the rest of the scrambled eggs as if it was a knife skewered into an enemy.
John jumped at the fierce gesture.
"Sherlock, sit down. I can imagine that you want to blame somebody for your … emotional state, but stay fair. If there is anybody to blame, then it's your abductor – or if you want someone from the family, maybe your grandfather. Definitely neither your brother nor his friend Tobias."
The Consulting Detective glared at his flatmate, grabbed the back of his chair, turned it around and let himself fall on it, facing away from John. After no more than just a few seconds, however, he resumed his impatient pacing. John watched him with a frown when he stopped at the window for a while, seeming to look outside, then raising his hands slowly and scrutinizing them, his gaze finally resting on the dressing that was covering the cut in his wrist.
He turned around to John, letting his arms drop.
"What can I do to make it go away?" he asked miserably.
John had been worried by Sherlock's behaviour, fearing he would shut himself off, therefore, he was baffled by the question that sounded like a little child asking his parents to make the monsters in the cupboard disappear. Obviously, what monsters in the closet were for a child, emotions were for Sherlock – something unwanted and scary. John sighed.
"I know this isn't the answer you want to hear, Sherlock, but- I don't know."
"But you're a doctor, John!" the tall man ranted.
"Yes, mate, and you have pointed out to me that you can't be treated like any patient; plus, you mustn't forget that I had to go to one myself, because psychiatrists are trained to deal with traumas in the first place, which I'm not. So what do you expect me to do?"
"You didn't tell your therapist anything, so what use was there in going to a specialist, eh? Go to Mycroft, find out what had happened and then tell me!"
John choked on the sip of coffee that he was just taking. "Not seriously." He put the mug down. "Listen, as much as I want to help you, your brother has made it very clear that he won't tell me anything. The only person who might be able to convince him otherwise is you!"
"He wouldn't want to see me."
"For goodness sake! Despite those magnificent brains of yours, you are clots – both of you! I'm quite fed up with you and Mycroft telling me that the respective other doesn't want to talk! This is kindergarten and I'm the one left to grass to the other one, aren't I? Just to make it clear: either you or I will send a text to Mycroft asking him to pay you a visit. And then you talk!"
Sherlock stared at his flatmate with a mixture of disbelief and annoyance for a long time, making John almost feel uncomfortable. It seemed as if the thinking processes in Sherlock's brain were slowed down when it came to contemplating himself and Mycroft. Yet suddenly he came to life, pulled out his mobile, forcefully typed a text into it and with a distinct and exaggerated movement pushed the send-button.
"Satisfied?" he asked mockingly.
"This is not about me, Sherlock. You said you needed to know more, Mycroft refuses to tell me anything, so what other way is there? Remember, he does care about you a lot. The two of you will find a way, I'm sure."
Sherlock's only response was a grunt.
The scrambled eggs on John's plate had gone cold, but as he hadn't been hungry anyway, he didn't mind. He got up from the chair and cleared the table. Sherlock was standing at the window again, watching the bustle outside 221B.
Without the slightest hint of surprise in his voice he remarked: "And there he is."
John, however, hadn't expected Mycroft so soon. The hint of a panicky feeling shot through his stomach. What should he do? Should he stay and listen to all that Mycroft had to say, knowing that he would almost certainly regret the additional knowledge later on? He was convinced that it would be hard to go back to normality with the knowledge of the cruel deeds that had been done to his flatmate and best friend. No, this was between Sherlock and Mycroft and should stay that way. If Sherlock decided otherwise later, so be it, but for the time being it would probably be better to leave the two to themselves, because as much as Sherlock trusted him, Mycroft probably didn't and he didn't want to be an obstacle in the long journey to the truth. He put the dishes in the sink - they would have to wait to be rinsed – and took his jacket from the hook.
"I'd better leave you alone - good luck. And don't get yourselves hurt or killed. Neither by words nor by deeds! Understood?"
Sherlock gave John a wry smile. He was uncomfortable, that was obvious, but he didn't try to make John stay. He hoped that a talk between the Holmes brothers could bring at least some improvement.
The ex-army man went down the stairs. In the hallway he met the older Holmes.
"I'm not going to reveal anything to him," Mycroft said determinedly without greeting John, his appearance reflecting the familiar aloofness.
John stepped in Mycroft's way, angrily pointing a finger at his chest and opening his mouth in preparation of a rant. Only the echo of Sherlock's begging not to tell Mycroft anything prevented him from bursting out that he should bloody rid himself of his pride and ridiculous oath. John was angry that Mycroft had let it get that far, raising all the destructive emotions in Sherlock but then neglecting him and refusing him the necessary support to get rid of them again.
John shook his head in resignation and let his finger drop, but locked eyes with the older Holmes, hissing sharply, "Help your brother, he needs you!" Then he stepped out of his way, passing him with a slight nod of his head. He hoped that the Holmes brothers wouldn't be too stubborn to have a proper and hopefully somehow healing talk. The doctor was aware of the fact that generally in a normal patient, psychiatric rehabilitation would take years, but he didn't know how Sherlock would react, what he would do. The only thing he was sure of was that he didn't have any other idea to help the detective out of his misery.
When he closed the door behind
him, John realised that Mycroft must have hesitated, because only then did he
hear his steps on the stairs.