"Mr Holmes, it's unbelievable how lucky your brother was, and how much Doctor Watson and he clung to their lives. Although we didn't have much hope for Dr Watson, he has made it so far. We had to fight with the blood pressure drops and two more cardiac arrests, but he's alive for now and we were able to stop the haemorrhage. It seems that his soul wants to stay on earth, but his body isn't really convinced of it. The internal bleeding could have killed him easily, but it didn't, which is quite a wonder considering its severity."
Mycroft stared at the doctor disbelievingly, his words sinking in only slowly. A veil of worry had blurred his perception and had led him to misinterpret the doctor's slight shake of the head. John was alive! He sighed, closing his eyes in relief. He was surprised about the extent to which emotions were able to influence one's thoughts. He needed to resume his objective thinking to be able to work decently.
"I'm... glad", he managed to say. "What about his other injuries, the leg?"
"Well, there is an open multiple fracture of the tibia and fibula of the left leg. We had to fixate it externally. We hope that there won't be any complications that could result in a limp."
Mycroft snorted, which evoked a puzzled look in the doctor.
"My apologies. This, however, holds a kind of paradoxical humour. I suppose you have not read Dr Watson's entire medical record. Otherwise you would know that he had had a limp already, even though it was psychosomatic. I imagine he would be able to live with it as he is used to it – somehow."
The doctor raised his eyebrows in reaction to the slightly cruel humour of his opposite number, but didn't comment on it. He cleared his throat and went on.
"Erm, yes. The leg isn't the worst of the problems. As I said, he suffered from severe internal bleeding from a spleen rupture and, what is worse, a rupture of the liver. We had to remove a part of the liver, but were able to keep the spleen since not the entire blood circulation was interrupted. Dr Watson is a trained military man, which may have saved his life. He knew how to fall and did so instinctively, therefore, he only suffers from a severe concussion instead of a fractured skull. He's bruised all over and there is a serious contusion of his left shoulder, but it's not broken."
"Good – that's good. Are there any complications to be expected from the organ damage?"
"Internal bleeding is always a dangerous thing and sepsis is a comparatively common complication. We're closely monitoring the spleen and liver functions and can only hope that they don't fail. He's administered antibiotics in high doses, but that's pretty much all we can do right now besides waiting."
Mycroft nodded his understanding. "Where is he?"
"We'll bring him in here soon. He'll also be sedated for a couple of days to reinforce the healing."
"I see", the older Holmes replied. He felt awkward. He wasn't used to dealing with people who were completely helpless and unresponsive and even though there had been those moments of sentiment, he fought against being pushed into a nursing role for both Sherlock and John. He would take care of them as well as he could, but there were other people who would be much better in the nursing role. John would call them his friends – and even Sherlock had done so lately, so he would inform Mrs Hudson, Molly Hooper and DI Lestrade – and, if necessary, Harriet Watson. He wasn't all that sure about the latter. She had been under surveillance for quite a time now, and all they had found out about her was that apparently after she and her partner had split up, she spent most of her day drinking in different shabby pubs before staggering home in the late evenings, many a times too drunk to get the key into the lock of her tiny and run-down flat. He knew that John and Harriet didn't have the closest relationship – and that was pretty much an understatement – but in the event that John wouldn't survive this, it was his duty to call her and to bring her here. He would only call her, though, when things became serious as he was convinced that her absence would be of a bigger help than her presence.
Only moments later the door to the ICU opened again and another hospital bed was rolled in. This was the second time Mycroft had both his brother and John in the same hospital room, unconscious. However, last time, after the Tabun poisoning, both their conditions had been more stable and the immediate danger had mostly been over. Seeing the two flatmates by each other's sides, deathly pale, surgical wounds spread over their bodies, attached to all the intensive care apparatus including ventilation, was a really distressing sight, even for Mycroft. The lizarov-apparatus, that fixated John's fractured bones externally, stuck out from a ridiculously swollen leg, the shiny metal contrasting with the disinfectant-red skin in a rather revolting way. Mycroft felt unsure about whether he should step up to John, but after some seconds of indecisive contemplation he pulled himself together, walked over to the ex-army man's bed and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"You'll make it, John. Don't give up." He hesitatingly and gingerly patted the warm skin once, then turned to leave and call the others.
When he left the mansion that accommodated the hospital, night had already given way to bright daylight. After the constant rain of the past days the rays of sunshine that broke through the grey gave a little warmth that finally gave proof of the delayed spring. The ground was still wet from the rain, which made it sparkle from the sunlight here and there. Mycroft pulled his silver pocket watch from the vest of his three-piece suit, a movement that was as natural as walking to him, and was surprised that it was already after midday. The operations had taken an incredibly long time. He felt the fatigue settling in his brain, but as much as he longed for a rest right now, he couldn't give in to it as there were numerous duties to be fulfilled.
His black limousine had been waiting for him and drove up to the entrance now in order to pick him up. He waited until the chauffeur had opened the back door for him, however, only to take his umbrella that had been leaning against the back seat.
"Pick me up in half an hour. I want to walk a bit."
There was no need to tell his driver where he was supposed to meet his employer, he would find him.
Mycroft had instructed the hospital staff to inform him instantly of any changes to the men's conditions, but before he was able to call their friends, he needed to get some fresh air. It wasn't typical of him to hesitate before telling somebody unpleasant facts, but this was just different. He had to clear his mind of the emotions that had simply overwhelmed him since last night. So he walked slowly down the street, his umbrella clicking a lackadaisical rhythm on the pavement.
After walking for a while Mycroft sat down on a bench by a tree, fishing his phone from his pocket and simply staring at it. It would be hard for the old lady that was Sherlock's landlady and for a particular reason even a grandmotherly figure for his brother, to hear that "her boys", as he had heard her call the two men, had been severely injured and were still in danger of losing their lives. He would send her one of his agents to check on her and to pick her up.
Mycroft wasn't convinced that Lestrade was actually a friend of Sherlock's, but he had to have a word with him about the assault anyway. There had to be something special about Lestrade, though, since Sherlock spent a fair amount of time with the DI, solving crimes for him. His brother wouldn't bother wasting time sitting in his office and waiting to be filled in on a case by a rather slow-minded policeman, if there wasn't any trace of friendship. Plus, he had to admit that the DI took Sherlock's antics better than most other people did, apart from those he was about to call or were sharing Sherlock's fate.
Molly Hooper would most likely take it worst and would make a big fuss. When he had met her weeks ago to question her about the source of the poisoned petri-dish and had told her the white lie of Sherlock and John lying low with a Noro infection due to a petri-dish that had been delivered by an errand boy from Barts, she had been running around in her laboratory like a headless chicken, stuttering and asking him over and over if she could do anything, before she had finally calmed down a bit and managed to talk to him without her tongue slipping in every second sentence.
Only when the black car pulled up to Mycroft, did he eventually dial Mrs Hudson's number.
"Mrs Hudson? This is Mycroft Holmes speaking."
"Are you with me?" Mycroft probed.
"What happened? Good God, Mr Holmes, it can only mean bad news when you call me - and you sound... worried!" she finally replied.
He hadn't been aware of the fact that he did sound worried – he had only introduced the talk, not even said anything further -, but in the light of what he was going to tell the old woman there was no need to lie to her about his feelings. So he told her what had happened without hiding his sorrow. Apart from a couple of exclamations of the "Good Lord"- kind she remained relatively calm, although her voice became a little hoarse. Stifled tears, Mycroft thought.
Lestrade's reaction was rather professional. Mycroft had the impression that he simply was too much of a professional to let his emotions get the better of him. The silent pause after the description of the incident, however, had shown him that the DI was indeed also shocked.
Molly Hooper's reaction, however, was completely unexpected to Mycroft for he had been prepared to find her quite agitated. As opposed to last time, she was all composed and just wanted to know if she could be of any help. Only the fact that her questions and answers were rather whispered than spoken in a normal tone hinted on the turmoil in her. Mycroft didn't know her so well. She was a bit of a mouse both in her behaviour and her appearance, but he wasn't actually able to judge her; however, what he had to bear in mind was the fact that she was used to seeing injured people – although the ones that she saw were mostly beyond the line of immediate danger and would be cut up by her anyway. Therefore, she had to be a bit of a tough cookie as well. She was apparently a bit like John Watson: the more stress one put on her, the calmer she got - or his words simply hadn't sunk in so far.
After the calls, Mycroft felt
less relieved to have other people in charge of nursing Sherlock and John than
he had expected. Strangely enough, he felt somewhat drawn back to the hospital,
but for the sake of England, he had to go back to his office to at least
delegate the most pressing businesses. And yet, for the first time in his
entire life, he made a decision that simply came from the bottom of his heart
and wasn't influenced by reason. In fact, it was entirely against reason as he
hadn't been available for more than twelve hours now, which usually was
unimaginable. This time, however, England had to survive without him for
another couple of hours. He would stay at least so long until the three persons
he was awaiting had arrived and he had talked to his brother and John's friends