John opened his eyes, looking up at the ceiling. Did he hear the bell? He definitely shouldn't have, for it was 2 am in the morning. But then he heard it again. He got up slowly, doing his best not to wake up Mary. Then he stumbled upon his blanket and fell on the floor.
"Don't try to be quiet, darling," Mary said, completely awake. "I can't look at you hurting yourself."
"Thanks," John muttered.
"Who could it be at this time?"
"I have no idea. You better stay here."
"Of course," Mary said, getting up and following him despite his objections. They stayed in the hallway and John looked into the peephole.
"Who's there?" he asked, frowning.
"Good morning, John."
John raised his eyebrows.
"Mycroft? What are you doing here, for god's sake?"
"I thought we could have a cup of tea together and a little bit of chat…"
"It's two pm!"
"I have something to discuss with you," Mycroft said. "Something to discuss in privacy, if possible."
John looked at Mary and she shrugged, saying: "It's definitely important, John. He wouldn't be there otherwise."
"You should listen to her; we all know she's smarter than you…" Mycroft remarked.
"Oh, be quiet," John said and opened the door. Mycroft was alone when he walked in, greeting them with his usual smooth smile.
"I'll make the tea," Mary decided, putting a dressing coat up. John followed Mycroft into their living room, where he had already been sitting on the sofa.
"So what's this all about again?" John asked, crossing his arms on his chest. "I have nothing against casual visits, you know, but it's a bit bizarre when it's in the middle of a night."
"Sherlock's disappeared," Mycroft said. John wasn't surprised.
"He only disappears when he wants to. Haven't you two had a fight or something?"
"We have," Mycroft admitted, "but that's not it. I haven't heard of him for a month."
"So haven't I," John said. "And I still think it's only because he felt like vanishing for some time."
"That's what I thought too," Mycroft said. "Until I received a very specific video recording."
John didn't know why the image of Sherlock dancing to an ABBA song popped up in his head. He dismissed it instantly.
"Well, what was the video about?" he asked patiently, finding Mycroft's habit of pausing after every sentence very annoying at the moment. Mycroft was silent for a couple of seconds and then he leaned forward and opened his laptop. John sat down next to him, looking at the screen and rubbing his eyes.
"Hello, Mr Holmes…"
John straightened up. The voice was inhuman, electronic. The blank screen went white and suddenly, it changed into a room. Only an empty corner of the room was visible.
"Wondering where your brother is?" the voice spoke again. The image trembled as somebody picked the camera up.
"I would like to assure you he's well taken care of."
John started feeling quite bad about it and his suspicion turned out to be right when the camera revealed a man with a black bag on his head.
"As I said, your brother is doing fine…"
John was praying it wasn't him. He wished it to be a really stupid joke.
"He thought he had the upper hand. He's really very overconfident but I guess it's running in the family."
"No way," Mycroft muttered inaudibly. The camera zoomed at the man then and someone's hand appeared, taking the bag off his head.
"Oh no…" John breathed out. It was Sherlock; there were no doubts about it. He looked like he hadn't slept in ages but had that smile on his lips, almost as if he was enjoying it in a way.
"Hi, brother," he said. He narrowed his eyes, pretending to be able to see him.
"Could you stop rubbing your chin, please?"
John looked at Mycroft and he gave him a bitter smirk.
"I stopped it when I saw it the first time, John."
"Oh…" John looked back at the screen.
"My kind abductor wanted me to say hello to you," Sherlock continued. "He says if I try to reveal my location in any way, he will cut my head off. But except for that he's a good man. I have this nice room and I finally have some time for myself."
Mycroft shook his head.
"So foolish…" he said to himself.
"I have an idea he wants something from you," Sherlock said. "Most probably in exchange for my life. I'm quite curious how you'll decide, brother."
Sherlock winked into the camera and John rubbed his eyes.
"That's typical," John said. "We're going to worry here while he would be enjoying the thrill of mortal danger."
"As usual," Mycroft remarked. The electronic voice spoke.
"Now you can believe me your brother is alive and in my care. He seems to be enjoying it a lot, don't you think?"
Someone punched Sherlock in the face at the moment. John jumped up on the sofa.
"Don't worry, he's doing that all the time," Sherlock said and was punched again, this time it left a torn lip and a bloody rivulet was trickling down his chin.
"Oh my god," Mary said when she returned with the tea tray.
"Stop it, you bastard," John growled. They put the bag back on Sherlock's head.
"You know what to do, Mr Holmes," the voice said. "Wait for my next message."
And the recording ended.
"So you've seen it," Mycroft said, closing the laptop and taking a cup of tea.
"Thank you, Mary," he said. John was staring at him.
"We must get him out!" he said loudly. "Right now!"
"Excellent idea," Mycroft said. "But I'm afraid they will never let him go alive. They know who he is and by this point he knows everything about them. Letting him go would be like giving me a detailed description of them and their plans."
Mycroft put the cup on the table, looking John in the eyes and giving him a smile.
"Whatever I do, John, he dies anyway."