The metal door closed with a loud bang, followed by the sound of steps.
"Nice job you did there, Milo," Angel said with appreciation, talking to a tall and muscular man standing in the corner of the small room.
"Take a few minutes, would you?"
Milo nodded wordlessly, leaving the room. Angel leaned against the wall, crossing his arms on his chest, looking at the man on the floor.
"I'm happy you're holding on so long, Sherlock," he said quietly. Sherlock had his eyes closed but was listening.
"I've spoken to your brother a few days ago. It may be a surprise to you but he's still hesitating to fulfil my requests. But we both know him, so maybe it's not such a surprise. Anyway, I had to push him a little, telling him how you're weeping every night, calling his name out of your nightmares."
"You idiot," Sherlock growled almost inaudibly, keeping his eyes closed. "Now I won't hear the end of it."
"Well, I think it frightened him a bit."
"Of course it did, he probably thinks I'm losing my mind."
"Wow, that would be a tragedy now, wouldn't it?" Angel asked. "You'd rather have your legs cut off than losing your precious mind."
"You bet I would," Sherlock said. He didn't try to move, he knew how much pain it would cause, but his voice sounded strong. It made an impression on Angel, as he was watching him thoughtfully, shaking his head lightly.
"Don't worry I wouldn't let you lose your mind, that would be such a shame. And you should be grateful; I made that up to sway him."
"Thank you so much, Angel, you're a true friend. But nothing can sway my brother once he's decided."
"Don't be nasty, I like your brother. I like him a lot and I've always had. The combination of Mycroft's tremendous intellect and his comical inability to work with his feelings… Which is something you two share, by the way. You're slightly better at it, actually."
"If my brother was there, you'd make him cry by using inability and his name in one sentence."
"Your sarcasm is very amusing," Angel said. "You're much more fun now than years ago… And I'm truly impressed by your endurance."
"Thanks, means a lot," Sherlock replied, breathing heavily. Angel moved closer to him and crouched, not taking his eyes off him.
"On the other hand, Sherlock, I have fairly good memory. And I remember your fear. So I was wondering – is it still there? Do I still frighten you, at least a little bit? Do you sometimes recall our short time together? And what I did to you…"
Angel reached for him, his fingertips touching Sherlock's face lightly. Sherlock looked at him with half-lidded eyes. Angel smiled, drying the blood from his face with his own white handkerchief.
"It's still there, isn't it? Don't be ashamed, Sherlock, even for someone so… inhuman like you, fear is quite natural… And I think you're dealing with it very well."
"I can't wait to push your eyes deep into your skull."
Angel got up, still watching him.
"I certainly hope that won't happen, Sherlock. Now if you excuse me, I have work to do. Milo will take care of you, I heard you get on with each other quite well. What do you think about his knife skills, pretty amazing, aren't they? I'll just have to tell him to leave your face out next time, you're a handsome man, I couldn't bear the fact I destroyed such a good-looking face."
"Can I have a wish, Angel?" Sherlock said, managing to focus on his face.
"Stop telling Mycroft such stupidities, I'd be very grateful."
"Too bad, you should have seen the effect it had on him. You know how he cares. Too much, you would say. Well, he can't help it. He can't get rid of the guilt, as you know. I understand that, I also had a younger brother. Maybe that's why I'm so fond of you."
Angel gave him one last smile before leaving, passing Milo in the door, nodding at him.
"Record it this time, please," he said to him quietly. "I want to hurry things a little and Mycroft is so unbelievably slow. Maybe if he sees my name carved on his beloved little brother's chest, it'll speed him up."
Angel put a hand on Milo's arm.
"And Milo, don't forget our guest is very, very smart, much more than you. Don't let him do anything clever, OK?"
Mycroft was sitting in his room by the table, looking blankly out of the window. He'd been doing it for an hour or so, making absolutely no move. He was back in Britain but not closer to a decision.
How could he save his brother in exchange for letting Angel travel freely over the world killing people? Of course Sherlock was his brother but he wasn't by any means more important than all those people Angel would kill in the nearest future. And considering him, it wouldn't take him long to rebuild his organisation and start his criminal rampage again.
There was a knock on his door, the servant announcing John Watson was there.
"Let him in," Mycroft said. John walked in, standing behind him. Mycroft didn't turn.
"I heard your wife was in the hospital."
"Yes, there were some minor complications," John said. "They want to keep an eye on her until the baby is delivered."
"I'm sure she'll be fine," Mycroft said, feeling the emptiness of those phrases he learned to tell people.
"I was waiting you'd tell me how the meeting went," John said, keeping the anger down evidently.
"As expected," Mycroft said.
"What are you going to do, Mycroft?"
"I can either save my brother and allow numerous people to be murdered or let him die and save them."
Mycroft paused, looking over his shoulder and giving John a cold smile.
"How would you decide?"
John was silent, his eyes dark and full of anxiety.
"One thing is for sure, Mycroft. If you let him die, Molly will flay you alive."
Mycroft snorted in a brief moment of amusement. And right at the moment, he heard the sound that would make his heart beat faster. He saw John froze as they both were looking at the screen of Mycroft's laptop.
You have one new message…