"Please, let me through! Please, he's my friend!" he choked, trying to push through the crowd that would not move. His vision blurred, his head ached, and none of it mattered, because Sherlock, Sherlock was bleeding on the ground.
Reaching around people, he touched fingertips to Sherlock's wrist, holding, waiting, praying for a pulse. Nothing. His world came crashing down, and he staggered back, his fingers wet with Sherlock's blood.
Everything went white. He could hear voices, and was aware of motion, but no sensation pierced the shroud that surrounded him. All he was aware of was the ache in his chest, the pain. Sherlock's dead, he's dead! It repeated in his head, over and over.
When he came to himself again, he was sitting inside an ambulance. The tech was removing a blood pressure cuff from his arm before placing an orange shock blanket around his shoulders. The color made him think of Sherlock…he strangled the thought before it could form, as his vision greyed around the edges.
He turned, slowly, seeing a uniform outside the ambulance.
"Yes," he said, slowly, his voice hoarse as if he'd been shouting.
"Doctor Watson, I've been ordered to bring you down to the station for questioning. Superintendent's orders, sir."
"Very well," said John, standing, swaying a little in place. "Sergeant Baker, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir," said the embarrassed Yarder, carefully not meeting John's eyes. He steadied John's arm as he stepped down from the ambulance, before sheepishly holding up a pair of handcuffs.
"Am I under arrest, then?" John asked.
"Orders, sir," said the Sergeant.
Without a word, John turned and faced the ambulance so that he could be cuffed. Baker was careful of his injured shoulder, for a mercy. He was helped into a car, before being driven to Scotland Yard.
The interrogation room was shiny and metal, all hard angles and reflective surfaces that showed all too clearly the lines of pain and exhaustion on his face. He sat, trying very hard not to think of anything. His head ached from where he'd been hit by the bicycle messenger, his shoulder was beginning to throb from being restrained, and his leg had already started to ache. Even without standing, he knew that his limp was back, psychosomatic or no.
John hadn't seen Greg since his arrest. He rather expected that meant that the Detective Inspector was in hot water of his own. He felt a moment's sadness for that, before the other, larger pain came rushing back. The interrogations would start soon, he knew. It was very likely he would be charged with Sherlock's alleged crimes.
Mycroft hated legwork. The reason for obtaining his current position was, in part, so that he could avoid doing his own. He had very capable assistants, minions, people who were loyal to him. But, for this, only he and Anthea could know. For the rest, he was playing the role of a Holmes who had just been informed of the suicide of his little brother.
Open grief was not something he would indulge in, but arrangements had to be made. His staff would take care of most of them; he and Anthea would handle the ones that needed to be kept secret.
"Mr. Holmes," Anthea said, looking up from her ubiquitous Blackberry. "John Watson has been taken into custody. The Chief Superintendent is having paperwork drawn up to charge him as complicit in Sherlock's arresting charges, as well as aiding a fugitive. Shall I have him released?"
"Not just yet, I think," Mycroft said. "He's safe enough there for the moment. Just have the paperwork delayed for a few hours until we can collect him."
Mycroft waited in his office for Sherlock. He knew that his little brother would easily manage to reach him without being seen.
"Where's John?" were the first words from Sherlock's lips.
"Being held at Scotland Yard," he answered, not looking up from his paperwork.
"Mycroft! You have to get him out of there."
Sherlock glared. "Our bargain was that you would see to John's safety."
"He would be perfectly safe in a holding cell, Sherlock."
"Damn you, get him out!"
"When we're finished here, it's my first stop, I promise you. I want to make certain you understand my price for helping you with this."
"What do you want, Mycroft?"
"You will take this phone, check in regularly. As far as anyone in my office will be aware, you are on private assignment, answering only to me. I have analysts working on Moriarty's network, you will work with them. As Doctor Watson cannot join you, I require you to keep yourself safe and not work entirely alone."
"And you'll keep John safe?"
"To the best of my ability."
A look was shared between brothers, more communicative than mere words. Sherlock picked up the phone and left the same way he'd entered.
When Mycroft emerged from his office, Anthea flanked him. "Doctor Watson?"
They were met at the station by the Chief Superintendent himself.
"I am certain that you have every intention of placing Doctor John Watson under arrest, I assure you that will not be possible. Doctor Watson is of immeasurable use to Her Majesty's government, and will be released upon my own recognizance. At once."
"Look 'ere, 'oo do you think you are?"
Mycroft merely continued walking towards the holding cells where John was being kept, allowing Anthea to explain the facts of life to the befuddled Chief.
"Doctor Watson," Mycroft said, standing outside the holding cell, tall, elegant, leaning slightly on his umbrella.
The man sitting on the floor of the cell did not look up. His arms were wrapped around his legs, and he was resting his head against his knees.
"John," said Mycroft, gently, and the tawny head lifted.
"Mycroft?" he said, and Mycroft was alarmed to see how cloudy the man's normally sharp gaze was.
"John, are you injured?" he asked, his gaze sweeping over John in one of those Holmesian glances that observed everything.
"Bike messenger clipped me. I'm all right."
"I sincerely doubt that," said Mycroft, "You have a mild concussion, at the very least. Let's get you out of here, shall we?"
"You fixed it with the Yard?"
"Of course," he said.
"Mycroft," he said, "I'm sorry… I couldn't stop it."
"No," said Mycroft gently. "I don't imagine that anyone could stop him once his mind was made up."
"I can find my own way home, if you'd rather…" said John, hesitantly, still not meeting Mycroft's eyes.
"You are coming home with me," said Mycroft. "You are family, are you not?"
The shattered look in John's eyes as he met Mycroft's gaze was enough to make Mycroft doubt his brother's plan. He didn't know if anyone was strong enough to hold that much pain without breaking.
"Come, John," he said, gently. "Let's get you out of here."
John wasn't really aware of where they were going, but was surprised when Mycroft's car pulled up in front of a private residence.
"Where are we?" he asked.
"My home," said Mycroft. "My physician is waiting to examine you. And, I thought, that Baker Street might be too much tonight."
"But, Mrs. Hudson, someone has to tell her…" John said, urgently.
"Taken care of," he said, "She's staying with her sister for a few days."
"Bart's," said Mycroft, softly.
"Another technician will be taking care of Sherlock," said Mycroft. "Come inside, John, everyone is safe, we need to take care of you."
John stood up, only to have his bad leg nearly buckle. Mycroft's hand was on his elbow, steadying him until he got his balance. He couldn't meet Mycroft's eyes, but the older man just helped him inside the house.
Within moments, he was settled on a sofa in a comfortable sitting room, a cup of tea in his hands, while an elderly physician tutted over his head wound. His eyes grew heavy, and the cup was removed from his hands.
"Mycroft?" he said, sounding lost.
"It's all right, John," said a warm voice. "Sleep for now."
John slipped sideways, and Mycroft's physician caught him and eased him down. Briskly, the two men unfolded a blanket with a practiced snap before covering the sleeping man.
"Well done with the tea, Mycroft," said the physician, his eyes twinkling over a beaky nose.
"Is he all right?" said Mycroft, gathering up the drugged tea.
"He will be," said the physician, an oddly determined note in his baritone voice. Straightening, he was very tall indeed.
"Are you certain?"
"I am. John can survive anything."
"The limp is back."
The physician flinched. "I know."
"I'll do what I can," said Mycroft, resignedly. "You should be gone before he wakes."
Nodding, the physician gathered his things, hailed a cab at the end of the drive, and was gone.
John slept deeply, untroubled by nightmares. When he woke, disoriented by the long rest, he felt a moment's surprise at that.
"How are you today, John?" Mycroft said, handing him a cup of tea when he looked up.
"Better, thank you, Mycroft," said John, though his voice was still full of pain.
"Good," he said, sipping at his own cup.
"Look, Mycroft," said John, "I'm sorry about what I said before."
"No, don't apologize," said Mycroft. "It was true, what you said. I was not as careful with my brother as I should have been."
"And what did I do?" said John, putting his face in his hands, "I let him out of my sight where that bastard could get to him."
"Moriarty is dead," said Mycroft.
"How?" said John, looking up in shock.
"We're not certain. He was found shot dead on that rooftop."
"Do you think it was Sherlock?"
"Perhaps, but if Moriarty was eliminated, why jump? If Sherlock jumped, who would shoot Moriarty, and why?"
"What happens next then?"
"My brother is dead," said Mycroft, a strange resolution in his voice, normally emotionless. "I find that I am not peaceful, allowing the organization of the man responsible to continue to exist. I will dismantle it, piece by piece, until nothing is left but ashes."
John blinked, unaccustomed to hearing Mycroft speak with such vehemence.
"I could use your help," said Mycroft.