Sherlock was crying. He was sitting on the sofa in the Watson's living room, his legs too short to touch the ground. His dark hair seemed deflated, the curls flattened. His usually keen, grey eyes were swollen and red rimmed. He was alone. Mycroft had deserted him. It hurt so badly inside, his chest crawling with guilt and horror and despair. It had been his fault. That was what father had shouted at him, when the Watson's called him. Father had yelled at him, calling him names over the phone, which Sherlock could hear despite the fact that the phone hadn't been on speaker. Kevin had hung up when Sherlock started crying. He had cried a lot the last two days. Lizzie came into the room, trying to look less miserable than she felt.
"Would you like to visit him today?" She asked.
"Yes" Sherlock murmured. He stood up, going to his foster mother. She put an arm around him, and he leaned his head on her chest. They had bonded over the last day and a half while Mycroft had been in hospital. Sherlock had had to donate blood. There wasn't anyone his blood type in their banks. Lizzie had held his hand tightly as they took the blood, and she’d carried him back out to the car afterwards.
They got into the car and drove in silence to the hospital, Lizzie reaching over occasionally to touch Sherlock's knee.
"Remember, Mycroft still isn't very well. He's still a bit sad, and he might not want to talk to us. If he doesn't, we'll have to leave. It needs to be his choice."
“I understand.” There was silence for a few minutes. “Why did he do it?"
"I don't know. Your brother was very sad, Sherlock. A lot of bad things happened to him, things he protected you from."
"But we're not with Daddy anymore. He doesn’t need to be sad any more.”
"I know it seems like that, but it's much more complicated. People are very complicated things, Sherlock. We can't solve them."
"I don't like people."
"What makes you say that?"
"They're unexpected. And they do bad things. And they're noisy” Sherlock pouted.
"I know. Keep trying, you'll get the hang of it" Lizzie chuckled as they pulled into the hospital car park. Sherlock got out of the car and walked towards the hospital, his hands in his coat pockets, his long, multicoloured scarf dangling around his neck. They knocked on the door to Mycroft's room, and he called to let them inside. Sherlock stepped forward carefully, biting his lip.
"It's okay Sherlock. Nothing bad's going to happen." Mycroft tried to smile, but it obviously didn't work, because Sherlock looked more worried than before.
"Are you all better now, Croft?"
"Yeah Lock, all better." Mycroft croaked.
"You were going to leave me" Sherlock said, accusingly.
"You would have been fine. The Watson's would have looked after you, right Lizzie?"
"Of course we would have. But let's not talk about this any more, okay?” Lizzie gave Sherlock a boost onto the bed, sat down in the visitors chair and got out her book, giving the boys a semblance of privacy. Sherlock carefully navigated his way under the IV line and lay down by Mycroft’s side, his ear resting above his brother’s heart. They lay there for a while until Sherlock started crying.
“Hey, it’s okay Lockie, don’t cry.”
“You were going to leave me! I would have been all by myself. You have to promise not to leave.”
“I… I wasn’t trying to leave you.”
“Yes, you were.”
“No! No, Sherlock, I wasn’t. You don’t understand. I don’t want you to understand. But it wasn’t anything to do with you. I love you.”
“Promise not to leave.” Sherlock whispered, clutching at his brother’s hospital gown, avoiding looking at the bandage wrapped around his arm.
“Sherlock… I…” Mycroft didn’t want to promise that. He valued his promises. “I promise that I will always love you.”
“That’s not the same” Sherlock’s tears escalated, and Lizzie moved to stand. Mycroft looked imploringly at her, asking to be allowed to deal with it himself. She sat down. Mycroft stroked his brother’s hair gently until the little boy had calmed down.
“I promise I won’t do this again. Look at me” Mycroft took hold of his brother’s chin and made him make eye contact, something neither boy was comfortable with. “I promise.”
Sherlock seemed to accept it, and buried his head in Mycroft’s chest again. They lay like that for almost an hour, Lizzie steadily turning the pages of her book but not really reading, Mycroft staring out the window and not seeing, and Sherlock, sniffling but not really crying.
“Mycroft, I'm going to take Sherlock to the play room, and then I'll be back, okay?"
"Yeah" he muttered. He knew what was coming. Sherlock slid off the bed with a final squeeze, and left the room with Lizzie. Mycroft rolled over, pulling the sheet up to his neck. He was going to be in so much trouble. He’d screwed up so badly. At least she wasn't as strong as his father. It wouldn't hurt as bad. He shook slightly, dreading his inevitable return to pain.
When Lizzie came back in, he flinched away from her.
"Mycroft? Are you all right?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you mad. I didn't mean to not die." His eyes were tight shut, his hands shaking violently, gripping the covers for support.
"Mycroft, I'm not going to hurt you." She said softly, gently stroking his hair. He flinched away, but she kept running her fingers through. "You have nothing to be sorry for."
"I'm sorry.” He repeated at a whisper.
"Mycroft. Mycroft, don't worry, no one's ever going to hurt you again, I promise."
"But... but..." he rolled over and looked her over, his eyes wide with fear and dread of more pain "I did a bad thing, Lizzie. It was really bad. It was stupid. I shouldn’t have done it.”
"You're right, you shouldn't have done it. I understand why you did, but there is no reason to stop fighting, Mycroft. I know it's been really, really difficult for you. But I have absolute faith that you will get through it. Don't worry. You just concentrate on getting better, and we'll take it from there, okay? You just go back to sleep." She stroked his hair for ages, until she felt his gentle breathing slow down and turn into tiny snores. She leant over and kissed the top of his head. It was time to go home.