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At 6AM the doorbell rings and Sherlock double checks no one is immediately outside before opening the door to see a box. He brings it inside and inspects it, leaning over the table to do so. It's for John, the feminine handwriting from the envelope spells out his name in cursive. The handwriting is familiar. Moriarty. Sherlock stands fully and glances in the direction John is sleeping. He shifts before turning back to the package and opening it.

John's phone is inside. Sherlock lifts it as it beeps twice, the signal for a low battery. He sits as he opens the new messages.

Thought I'd return this

See you again soon

Sherlock hits delete as he remembers John jerking in bed. He makes his way up the stairs quietly and pushes open the door to John's room gently. When he spots the pile of clothes and possessions in the corner he buries the phone with them. Sherlock stares at the pile longer than he needs to; the one spot of chaos here tells Sherlock more than John ever would.

He wants to apologize, but he's not sorry. He's not sorry Moriarty is involved because it's made his life interesting. He's not sorry John is involved because John has given him purpose. He is sorry Moriarty hurt John, but that is purely a circumstance of the first two situations he would not trade. He is not sorry it's not him, because his self-perseverance wouldn't allow it. John would die for Sherlock, he's already offered, but Sherlock doesn't think he is at that level.

He is sorry that this is still happening. He is sorry John has had to suffer this much.

Moriarty shifts as he listens to the others plea, not because he was uncomfortable but because he knew it would make the other nervous. It was well known that Moriarty would not help human traffickers with that, but this man wanted help smuggling drugs. He was a trafficker though, and Moriarty could feel Jim's displeasure like a burning in his veins. The man finishes his practiced speech with a smile and Moriarty's guard tilted his head in curiosity.

"You know I don't help your kind." Moriarty speaks as he uncrosses his legs. "The defenseless? How boring."

"I'm not asking for help with that."

"No," he cedes. "You seem to have all of that under control." He drags out the last part as he moves his head.

"You know what, I don't need this." The man stands and Moriarty follows him with his eyes. "I just need help with the drugs and if you don't want to help me I'll leave."

Jim is furious and Moriarty looks away as he tries to control the sudden surge of strength from the other. It's been happening more often recently, way too often for Moriarty's liking. The thoughts were shockingly violent. The man let out a relieved sigh,

"That's it? Are you thinking about how to help me?"

"No," Jim screams it but it comes out as a low but held word. "I'm thinking about how to hurt you." Jim says calmly before tilting his head. The trafficker pales because he's seen crazy people, but this man seems to have lost his psychotic edge all of a sudden, and the one talking about hurting him seems to be a calm reasonable man. He takes two steps back before running and miraculously isn't stopped and killed. He'll disband that ring first thing tomorrow, if he lived that long.

Moriarty takes his body back as the guard is looking away and growls out. He stands roughly and walks out of the room, knocking over a table as he does so. What is happening to him? To this? He feels that Jim has gotten quiet again and narrows his eyes. What has changed so drastically?

"John Watson." He growls out as he continues walking and Moran tilts his head.

"Get him, when?"

"Yesterday." Moriarty gets in the car and Moran nods. It's only been a few days since he kidnapped Watson but he wasn't one to question orders.

Apparently Jim found a reason to fight, or strength, or both, and apparently it was Johnny boy.

Sherlock says nothing when John comes down the stairs the next day, but he notices that his phone and keys are on his person. John starts the kettle and Sherlock remains silent. The box from Moriarty had been destroyed and taken far from here already so John would find no evidence of that. John doesn't say anything to him either, not even when he puts the second teacup in front of him. Sherlock drinks it slowly, before vanishing into his mind palace. John is typing away on his laptop.

"East." Sherlock says before jerking slightly. "John, I know who the killer is!" Sherlock stands before looking around. "John?" He frowns before he hears the toilet flush and the water ruing from the faucet. He turns towards the hallway and John smiles.

"Back, ey?" John turns towards the couch before Sherlock stops him.

"I know who did it."

"So should I phone Lestrade?" John asks with a small smile that caused one to form on Sherlock's face.

"There isn't time to phone the police!" he exclaims before turning towards the door.

"You better get dressed quickly then, otherwise I'll catch them without you." John says and Sherlock pauses to stare at John. John's smile gets slightly smaller and Sherlock takes a breath.

"You were making a joke." Sherlock states before turning and heading into his room. John shakes his head.

"Will I need my gun?" John takes the silence as a yes.

John wakes up in bed, but it's not his, and he groans as he realizes that. He looks around; confused, groggily, stumbling. He's been drugged for sure and is back at Moriarty's. He can't remember what happened. He needs to pee, so he finds a bathroom before walking down the main hall into the room. His phone is gone and he feels like his gun is missing too. Why would he have had his gun on him? Oh God, Sherlock. He uses the wall to prop himself as he notices he is alone in the apartment.

Moriarty storms in less than a minute later. John takes a step forward

"What happened to Sherlock?" He demands but Moriarty doesn't answer. The only thing he is aware of in anger. Moriarty pushes him back. John has been Jim's strength. How dare Johnny boy be anything! John hits the wall and Moriarty wraps a hand around John's throat. Jim's protesting. Jim always protests Moriarty using violence. John tries to bat it away but he's as dangerous as a kitten right now. He has no strength and Moriarty seems very ready to take advantage of that, except he can feel his hold weakening.

"What are you doing to me?" Moriarty yells even as he hears Jim's laugh in his head. Destruction. John narrows his eyes as he grabs Moriarty's wrist but he still can't move it off.

"What?" John can't believe this. John wasn't doing anything. "You nutter!" He's not even a willing participant in these visits! "What are you doing to me, and for that matter, why am I here?" John shouts it back and wonders if this is the straw that will get him killed.

John and Moriarty stare at each other for a few moments, both of them unmoving, but John watches as a transformation-because there is no other word for it- occurs. The hand on his throat pulls back as the lines on Moriarty's face seem to become softer. John takes a risk in pulling down at the wrist and it comes down willingly. It's slow and strangely intimate, John thinks, a completely different person. He blinks a few times to try to get the dizziness to go away. Jim lowers his head slightly.

"Mr. Moriarty," John starts and Jim looks up again.

"Jim." He corrects as he pulls his hand back from John's grip.

"Jim," John restarts and Jim takes a step back. It feels like John can breathe again. "Where is Sherlock? Why am I here?" There is a soft tug at the corners of Jim's lips.

"He's safe; safer than you are. To bother Sherlock of course." He answers and John has the urge to yell 'lair' but he doesn't. Jim takes a step back before retreating to the other side of the table. John leans against the wall and watches Jim loosen his tie and unbutton the first button on his shirt.

"I'm sorry." John barely hears it but his eyes widen and his jaw drops a bit as he braves standing on his own again.

"What?" because he had to have heard wrong.

"I said sorry, that was," he tilts his head back and forth, "uncalled for." Jim says it so calmly and sincerely that John can't help but to get angry and start an overlapping argument.

"Oh, but wrapping me up in semtex-"


"and kidnapping me-"

"-once again necessary-"

"all three times-necessary?" John pauses as Jim's words sink in. "How is this," and he gestures around, which he shouldn't have because his legs almost gives out, "necessary for anything?"

"I told you," Jim hisses and John shakes his head, "It's for Sherlock."

"Bullshit." John spits. Jim opens his mouth in mock appall "Except for this time, I am never gone long enough for Sherlock to notice. You aren't using me as bait or a prize in your, whatever it is." John finishes lamely. Jim watches and knows that's not quite it. He can feel Moriarty clawing at him from inside but the longer John is here the more Jim is reminded of John standing up to Moriarty and the more he feels like he can too.

"And?" he prompts and John looks away before resting his hands on the other side of the table for balance.

"You didn't have to be a trigger." John's voice is soft and Jim knows that's not true. All dangerous weapons have triggers and you need to apply force to test them.

"Necessary." Jim stresses the syllables, the argument and Moriarty making him irritable. Jim tries to silence the other and temporarily succeeds.

"Why?" Jim wonders what Sherlock does to John that he is so resigned about things like this.

"A test."

"A test!" Not anger yet, but definite annoyance. He's been tested on before, by Sherlock no doubt. Yes a test. Moriarty wanted to see just what John was made of. John snorts in disbelief. "A bloody test," and there is the anger. "Did I pass?" That's an odd question to ask. Moriarty thought John proved himself interesting so yes. Jim, however, was testing something else. Is John Watson strong enough to survive Moriarty; he wasn't.

"No." Jim answers. John had nightmares, he harmed Sherlock. He let Jim and Moriarty live. "You failed." He says softly. John wasn't strong enough. "You failed." He repeats firmly, sounding disappointed. John just shakes his head.

"So why am I here?" John asks and Jim thinks it's because, maybe, they could be strong enough together.

"You're interesting," Jim's says instead as John purses his lips in confusion.

"Me?" John takes a step back before shaking his head letting out a laugh and coming back to the table. "Why me?"

John changed the plan.

"I wanted a live in one," Jim lies, "to try and figure out why Sherlock keeps you around." John laughs and Jim is startled because it's like Moriarty's laugh. It was dark and knowing and not at all joyous. Jim can feel himself stiffen as Moriarty stirs.

"Next time you try to lie to me, try harder." John turns and walks away before sitting on the couch across from the cage. Moriarty's interest peaks as they both watch him. Jim feels a rush going everywhere but his head.

This is why you pull the trigger.