The call had come at two in the morning the night after the Bolivia incident when Mycroft had been dead the world and finally asleep for the first time in three days. He had very nearly not answered the phone, very nearly let it go to voicemail to be checked in the early afternoon when he finally awoke and had the capacity to deal with whatever ridiculous crisis was being thrown his way this time. But something had stirred in him, something that defied the careful logic that ruled his life and told him in no uncertain terms that yes, he needed to drag himself out of bed to answer this call. And when he blearily picked up the phone on the very last ring and a calm but dispassionate voice told him that Sherlock was in the hospital, he could not have been more grateful that he had listened.
Sherlock was sleeping now, although sleeping was probably not the right term for it. Sherlock was sedated now, his abused and broken body finally resting itself in a forced attempt to repair at least some of the damage that had been purposefully done to it. The sight of his baby brother lying there, paler than the sheets he rested on and so thin as to be nearly skeletal, sent a stab of pain through a heart gone numb with fear. He had half expected Sherlock to be dead, despite the reassurances of the hospital staff, but somehow seeing him like this hurt even more. His brother, the little brother he had nursed through scraped knees and nightmares and childish fears while their parents had left them to their own devices, was lying strung out and half-dead from a cocaine overdose.
With a sigh that went down to his very soul, Mycoft settled himself into the chair next to Sherlock’s bed and prepared for a long night. He had brought a book to pass the time that he opened now, a book that he would read diligently and carefully all while not taking in a single word. He needed something to do besides stare at the hollow shadows under Sherlock’s cheekbones, or count out how many meals he had missed, or calculate exactly how much cocaine it had taken to get him into this state. Those were all things he would do anyway, but a distraction was always nice. But after several long minutes of distracted staring at a page he was not comprehending, with an unconscious motion that had not been used in almost two decades Mycroft reached out to take Sherlock’s hand and clasp it firmly in his own.
Sherlock would not thank him for this when he awoke. In fact, Sherlock would likely pull away in disgust the moment his head was clear enough of the sedatives to realize what was going on, lip curling in disdain as his eyes narrowed in suspicious anger. He had not willingly touched Mycroft in nearly fifteen years, not since a frightened nine year old Sherlock bravely trying to hide his unhappiness had clung to his brother’s hand as he left for Uni, eyes wide with sadness and betrayal. Sherlock had still not forgiven Mycroft for leaving him alone in that empty house, alone with their parents and the silence and the overwhelming coldness of their lives, and he likely never would. That Mycroft still had not forgiven himself was something that Sherlock never needed to find out.
But even if Sherlock would not forgive the liberty that Mycroft took now, he still took it while he had the chance. Grasping his brother’s bony and emaciated hand in his own, Mycroft could almost pretend that he was eight years old once more and holding up a chubby and angelic Sherlock as he took his first uncertain steps. Or perhaps he was twelve, cuddling a terrified little boy against his body in the night as he tried to quell the nightmares that shook him and whispered empty nonsense to send him to sleep once more. Or better yet fourteen, grabbing Sherlock by the hand and running wild and free through the gardens of their country estate, running from overbearing parents and exams and the weight of the world to simply be a boy again for half an hour. Anything was better than being thirty two, and holding Sherlock’s hand after he had been hospitalized for a cocaine habit he flaunted in his brother’s face to hurt him and stubbornly refused all help to recover from.
So no, Sherlock would not thank him for this when he awoke. But that was why Mycroft intended to be out of this room long before Sherlock’s first stirrings of consciousness, why he would not tell his little brother that he had been here, why he would not force his help upon the man who so desperately needed it. He had lost his baby brother long ago, and there was no changing the past. But for a few hours at least, in a hospital in the dead of night when no one was around, he could pretend that Sherlock still loved him in return. And for those few hours, Mycroft could even pretend that he believed it.