"Let me help you"
Type of story: One-Shot
The whole situation shouldn't have surprised John as much as it did.
He's known the older Holmes brother nearly as long as the younger one. He should know what to expect from him.
But he didn't.
He didn't expect him to do what he did in that abandoned warehouse, didn't expect him to be the brother that got shot at and pierced by bullets.
And yet, in hindsight, he should have.
Should have known he wouldn't allow anyone else to take the hit, especially not him and Sherlock.
He's the elder brother, he's the one that makes sacrifices, that makes things right.
Ah, but right by who?
By Sherlock, by John, by , the list goes on...
But never himself.
In Mycroft's mind he's the only acceptable causality.
He can be beat, he can be tortured, he can be broken beyond repair…
As long as those he loves stay safe.
Hell, John was half convinced (now fully after what happened) that the man would lay down his very life, if it meant everyone in Sherlock's circle of friends gets to live.
And that mentality… was not something one should have.
Because your first priority should be you, and your own happiness.
And Mycroft… Mycroft didn't seem to care about any of that...
"Do you think your brother might hate himself?" John suddenly asked from the kitchen.
"...What?" Sherlock pokes his head through the door.
Well… he might as well ask the big question.
"Does Mycroft have depression?" The doctor placed the plate he was wiping on the counter and looked at his friend. "Like… in your opinion."
The Detective just… stared at him for a long time, before fully stepping into the kitchen.
"Why? What brought this up?"
"Well…" John sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Mostly just his recent actions, though I can't say the thought didn't occur to me beforehand."
Sherlock just stared at him, unblinking, which the doctor came to recognize as him being lost in thought.
"I… don't think he does." The Detective answered thought he didn't sound convinced.
"Yeah you see, that's the problem." John said. "No one ever thinks about whether or not he needs help, because everyone automatically assumes he can take care of himself. He saves everybody but who saves him?"
"Mycroft doesn't need saving, he's the British Government."
"You see, that's exactly what I'm talking about!" The doctor pointed at the detective. "This label makes us forget he's just as human as the rest of us."
At that Sherlock just looked at him.
John sighed and rubbed his temples.
"Look, Sherlock, what happened three weeks ago... makes no sense to me. He... could have avoided the sniper, could have notified us... anything!"
"But he didn't." The Detective whispered.
"Preferring to be shot instead!" John threw his hands in the air. "Tell me does this sound normal? Does this sound like something a rational human being would do?"
Sherlock didn't answer.
They both knew it didn't.
"I don't pretend to know what's going on in that head of his," The Doctor said. "But whatever it is, it's more than a bit not good." He then pointed at his best friend.
"And you should do something about it."
Sherlock looks at him alarmed.
"Because he's your brother and something is definitely wrong with him." Watson couldn't believe he had to explain this after all this time.
"He wouldn't listen to me." The Detective says with a disgusted frown on his face.
"You're the only one he would listen to!" God! Why didn't he see this?
"I'm telling you, he wouldn't." Sherlock was adamant however. "He never does."
"Because you never try!" John explodes. "All you do is insult and, and fight him whenever he's trying to talk with you about anything!"
He may not have noticed it a few years ago when they first met, but he definitely did now.
That he, as well as everyone associated with Sherlock, were unfair to the elder Holmes brother since their view of him was shaped by what the detective told them about him, and not by their own observations.
Observations that could possibly go against classifying him as the archenemy Sherlock makes him up to be, if they spent any amount of time with him and didn't fall for the younger Holmes poisoning the well.
Unfortunately they were all gullible goldfishes that cannot think for themselves, even if contradictory evidence was spitting them right in the face.
Because if Mycroft really was the famed Iceman then he would have let Sherlock die a long time ago, and certainly wouldn't have allowed himself to care enough about him to make him his most targeted weakness.
Literally everyone, from Irene to Magnussen, know how much he values his brother, and have used that knowledge against him on so many occasions, that John was honestly surprised Mycroft didn't die of a heart attack four years ago.
"It's his fault our relationship is this way." The Detective said, sounding like the petulant child that he is.
"Sherlock it shouldn't matter whose fault it was! Not when your brother might be low-key suicidal!" John was very close to losing his patience right now. "Don't you think your brother's health takes precedence over a petty squabble?"
The silence told him more than words ever could.
"You shouldn't be up yet."
'And You shouldn't be here' He wants to say.
But doesn't, opting instead for:
"I don't recall ever asking you for your opinion, Doctor Watson." He stated voice flat, as he continued to button up his suit jacket, completely covering up his bandage covered torso.
It's been three weeks since the fateful incident in the warehouse, and Mycroft, sick of laying around and doing nothing for the sake of "recovery", decided enough is enough.
He was going back to work.
"That doesn't make it any less true." The blonde argued from the door.
"What do you want Watson?" The elder Holmes was at wits end, losing his patience a lot quicker than he otherwise would have.
"..." John was quiet for a minute, as if thinking of what to say. "You shouldn't be out of bed."
Mycroft grit his teeth from both annoyance and the pain that managed to slip through despite the various painkillers he was pumped with several minutes ago.
"I have a duty to take care of."
"I understand that." No he bloody didn't. He couldn't even comprehend the sheer magnitude of Mycroft's responsibilities.
There are days when they extend past the kingdom's borders to another one or two, and sometimes, rarely but still too often for his taste, the entire world is thrust upon his aching shoulders. On those days he forgets how to sleep, how to eat properly, and only gets through them thanks to Anthea forcing biscuits down his throat.
After such a period she then drugs his tea which makes him sleep for two days straight to prevent him from going to work the next day, something Mycroft was very cross about the first two times it happened ("What if something happened when I was gone?!" "The Government would actually have to pull its weight for once?") but then realized that, without this recovery, he would be hospitalized or otherwise indisposed for much longer, and drank the tea without much of a huff.
He hated those days with a passion of a thousand red suns, and wouldn't wish them on his greatest enemy.
But it's something he has to do. There was no getting around it.
It's is a cross Mycroft must bare alone, even if, deep down, he wished it didn't have to be this way.
But alas, reality does not bow to the whims of even the most powerful of men.
"But there is another duty you're neglecting." Watson's voice brings him back from pondering, and he looks at the soldier.
"The duty to yourself." John hisses out.
"There are things that are more important than the needs of one man, Doctor Watson."
"John. We've known each other for years now, Hell you took a bullet for me. You're allowed to call me John for Christ's sake."
Mycroft blinked, momentarily thrown off by the sudden outburst.
"Regardless." He continues, looking away from the blonde doctor. "My needs can wait,
the rest of the world cannot."
"When was the last time you thought of yourself for once?" John suddenly asks.
It throws him off guard again, and he blames it on the meds because it's impossible that this happened two times in a row.
"Went to the cinema for a movie you wanted to see?" He doesn't get to say anything because the blonde just keeps. On. Going. "Stayed home and read a book? Gone out with a colleague, because we both know you don't have friends, for pizza or beer? Found a hobby? Painted something for fun?" He hoped John didn't notice how that one made him flinch. "Anything that didn't involve your work?"
Mycroft could lie like he always did when confronted in such a manner.
He should lie.
But he remembered what happened during the incident from three weeks ago.
"...that is none of your business." So he avoids it. Standing up and trying to ignore the pain of stitches pulling at his skin.
"This conversation is over." Trying to ignore how he's running away.
"...I never took you for a coward."
There it is again.
That strange phenomenon that he, for the love of everything that is holy, cannot explain.
The way John could see right past his defenses, and cuts straight to what he's trying to hide.
It scared him.
It scared him more than nearly anything else on this planet, and by God, he has no idea how to deal with it.
"I'm not running."
He should have ignored John and kept on going.
Yet the childish words came tumbling out anyway.
"That's denial talking and we both know it." He sounds closer now, his voice calm and soft as if he's talking to a wounded animal.
"It remains none of your business."
Now walk away and don't look back.
He wants to.
He really does.
But he can't.
His pride won't let him move.
"Why are you doing this?" Mycroft asks, eyes looking at the door before him and avoiding the smaller man. "We were never… friends."
"I'm a doctor." John answers and the elder Holmes feels a hand on his arm. "If I see someone hurting, I try to help. It's kind of my job."
"I'm not hurting." Mycroft said, still not looking at Watson. "I'm perfectly fine."
"Says the man who got shot not too long ago." The doctor snorts.
"...given the circumstances, of course." The red haired man quickly amended, his hand automatically moving to his itching wound. "Really Doc-John. I am alright, you need not worry about me."
"Well… here's where you're wrong." This actually made Mycroft look at the doctor.
"Because… if I won't worry, who will?"
The elder Holmes had no answer for that.
Because why would someone worry about the one person whose job is worrying about everyone else?
"Everyone automatically assumes you can take care of yourself because… well… you're Mycroft Holmes, The British Government personified. What could possibly hurt you?" He's doing it again, Mycroft thought as he watched the smaller man wearily. It's like he sees right through me. "This title Sherlock bestowed upon you gives you an air of immortality that honestly makes you seem... almost inhuman."
Mycroft stayed silent, finally looking away.
"It's so easy, you know, too easy, to pretend like you're a higher power, a force of nature watching over us. Keeping us safe." John smiles sadly. "It's… rather sobering, seeing you hurt, watching your blood leak onto the pavement, as if was that of any other man. I think that's what made Sherlock stare at you three weeks ago, you know? The sight of you not being as unbreakable as you make yourself out to be, as you make us believe you to be."
The elder Holmes had no idea what to say to all this, his seemingly endless supply of tricks and deceptions having finally run dry.
"My stitches hurt." He says after a while, hoping this will somehow make the doctor leave so he can go back to work continue to ignore his problems run rest.
That's a lie.
Those are the only things that don't ache right now.
He doesn't want to delve in to what any of this means.
"That's okay." John says as if he, once again, knew the elder Holmes wasn't being honest with him. "Take your time."
Mycroft sighed wearily, his shoulders slumping just a bit.
He doesn't want to confront them.
The feelings that have been festering ever since Sherlock was born, boiling and sizzling like hot oil that never seems to lessen in its heat, burning and burning and burning.
The same feelings he thought he cleverly hid away in the deepest recesses of his mind, where he doesn't have to remember that they exist.
That, despite his best efforts, he's no less human than the rest of the population.
But... like all things kept hidden too long... they began to bleed their way back into his life.
He doesn't want to confront them.
But... It seems he will be forced to, anyway.
"I was always taught to put others first." He said into the room as if that explained everything, which, if he were to be honest for once in his life, it did in a way.
Everything had to start somewhere.
For as long as he can remember, it was always 'Take care of them, Mycroft', 'Keep them safe, Mycroft', 'They're your responsibility, Mycroft', 'You're the eldest, Mycroft, they need you to watch over them', and 'I'm sorry Mycroft but I can't help you now, your brother needs me more', 'You're big enough, figure it out on your own', 'You're not a boy anymore, walk it off, Mycroft.'
He was the eldest, he was always expected to take care of himself just fine.
He wasn't allowed to cry for help, no matter how hard the task was or how sick he got.
He's the Big Brother, the Head of the Family.
He should act like it.
"Yes..." For a second he forgot the doctor was still there with him, so lost was he in the words that made him what he is today. "But this time if you don't take care of you, there won't be a you to take care of others."
"Maybe there shouldn't be." The whisper came out soft-spoken and yet so full of self-loathing. "For all the good it did in the end."
"Don't think like that. Never think like that." John stressed. "Don't ever think any of us would be better off without you, you're the reason we're still alive."
Mycroft let out a humorless laugh.
"Please doctor don't flatter me, it doesn't suit you." He shook his head. "You of all people should know why those words ring hollow."
"Sherlock's enemies are not your fault." John stated. "They come with both his job and terrible character, it's not surprising that some would try to take a stab at him, honestly."
The older Holmes huffed out a breathless chuckle and shook his head.
Oh if only you knew, Doctor. He thought, smiling ruefully.
Moriarty grins behind the glass, sharp pointy teeth gleaming white in the light despite his lip being red.
He's tied to a chair, beaten and bloodied, captured by his greatest enemy.
Mycroft should be in control.
And yet he's still smiling.
But he's not.
'I have you right where I want you, Mr. Holmes.'
The die has been cast.
Mycroft gives in.
Magnussen smile looks like a particularly ugly sneer from where he was seated on the opposite side of the table.
He should be paying attention to what was being said, but he's not.
Instead Magnussen is looking right at Mycroft.
His eyes shining with an unnatural yellow light that makes him seem like a hungry predator that just spotted his next meal.
Aiming for something he cannot have, or so Mycroft liked to think.
The elder Holmes meets those eyes with his own, filled with icy indifference. Cold and calculating, almost challenging in a way.
'Go ahead.' The blue orbs dared, so sure he was of his genius. 'Try and take me down.'
Mycroft is a mountain.
And mountains bow to no man.
He doesn't expect Magnussen to actually do it.
Doesn't expect him to be this cunning, this deceptive, this frighteningly manipulative.
Doesn't expect him to go after Sherlock.
Mountains do not bow.
But they sure do crumble.
If only you knew.
"Regardless of who's fault it was," The elder Holmes brother sighed. "They never should have gotten this close."
"You really are trying to become a martyr, aren't you?"
A humorless laugh escaped Mycroft's throat.
"And what if I am?"
"That's not healthy, Mycroft."
"No." He agreed, a small smile gracing his lips. "But better me than someone else."
"You can't mean that."
"Can't I?" Mycroft finally turned to look at the doctor, his blue eyes burning with an inner flame that wasn't there before. "I've spent my whole life trying to protect what's dear to me, but I didn't actually prevent anything." He growled, hands curled into fists. "I couldn't stop Moriarty from pulling Sherlock into his sick game, I couldn't catch Magnussen before he got powerful enough to pose a real threat, despite my best efforts, these. Things. Still. Happened."
John looked at him, eyes wide as if seeing him for the first time.
"How can I hope to protect my entire nation when I can't even stop one man from trying to kill himself?"
It truly was a disturbing sight, seeing the Immortal Iceman melting into a normal man with an impossible load on his back.
Because that's what he was.
A normal man who refused to ask for help.
Refused to look weak.
Because someone has to be the rock everyone leans on.
And, in hindsight, John should have realized what the problem was years ago, and it was truly a dent to his observation skills that he only just understood it now.
That behind every God stood a boy who was never told 'it's okay to be weak'.
AN: Not sure what I'm trying to accomplish with this two-shot. In all honesty, I just want those two to be friends.