Good Old Fashioned Nightmare

by cherielynn503

Summary

"Fucking Mycroft!" he swore to himself. John decided he'd had enough cloak and dagger to last him a long time. He only wanted a sandwich, a cuppa and a nice walk to the shops. He wanted to linger over the too many brands in the tea aisle, pick up a bunch of bananas and decide what to cook for dinner. Was it too much to ask for one day of normalcy?

John Watson is a broken solider invalided home from Afghanistan when he meets charismatic Sherlock Holmes. He spends two years solving crimes and building a professional relationship with his flat mate until James Moriarty enters the picture. While battling the powerful Moriarty, Sherlock realizes he has intense romantic feelings for his partner and goes to great lengths to keep John safe. The more Sherlock tries to control the ex-solider, the more he feels trapped.

John wants to leave Baker St. to gain some gain some perspective and independence from the detective and this drives Sherlock into a panic. Asexual Sherlock has now finds himself in love with John Watson! With Moriarty playing deadly games with John's life, Sherlock can't concentrate on solving the case. He needs to keep John safe; but, he needs his brother's help to possess John forever. The brothers decide to place a special collar on him to control his every move. Solider John, however, has other ideas.

Pre-Reichenbach Fall AU

Part One: Good Old Fashioned Nightmare

John sat at the café table in the sunshine. He was only a few streets away from Baker St. but it felt like he'd just escaped from prison. He'd been cooped up the flat for the past three months working with Sherlock. He'd been sorting through data, videos and files looking for anything that would implicate Moriarty or break his insidious web.

John had picked up a newspaper on his way to the café from the corner market and spent some time catching up on the London news. He'd been so engrossed in all things Moriarty, he'd been out of it for a while now, and it felt good to reestablish connections to the pulsing beat of the city. No matter how dire things were in Sherlock's world, he had to take a break for a while. A young couple sat down at the table next to him and he nodded companionably to them, "Morning," he chirped happily. It felt good to be out. He deserved this. He thought back over the past three exhausting months and felt relief once again for the reason he was out now among his fellow Londoners.

After Moriarty had kidnapped him and strapped him into an explosive vest at the pool, Sherlock had become extremely possessive of John and wouldn't let him out of his sight. Even though they'd been living and working together agreeably for almost two years, John knew the stakes were higher now.

John felt an intense kinship with Sherlock and followed him loyally. He would do anything for the man. He could even admit to feeling physical attraction bubbling up at odd times during some of their mad dashes through the city although he'd never acted on it. Working together had always been enough. They lived in close quarters and shared everything two people could share minus the physical intimacy. But, he'd gone to great lengths to convince himself he wasn't gay and that Sherlock wasn't interested if he were. They didn't do romance; they solved crimes and saved each other in so many other ways. John couldn't imagine his life without Sherlock.

However, after his near brush with Moriarty's death attempt at the pool, Sherlock's personality shifted. He had thrown himself into his pursuit to punish the criminal mastermind with a fierceness John hadn't known he'd possessed. And, since he'd already seen Sherlock madly chasing criminals all over the country, that was saying something.

At first, Sherlock believed Moriarty's men would attack them in the streets of London, so he limited both their outdoor ventures to only those times necessary for survival. The Great Game consumed them. Although, John did suspect that Sherlock secretly disappeared in the dead of night when he slept, and would creep back into the flat before he awoke in the morning. Then, Sherlock stopped taking any cases or work that he didn't believe would help him solve the Moriarty mystery. He even accompanied John to Tesco for shopping trips and paid for cabs so John wouldn't have to walk exposed on the sidewalk. He kept a nervous watch the entire time.

"I think we should have our groceries delivered from now on, John. I'll get one of Mycroft's lackeys to do it," Sherlock had said on their last shopping trip. He'd walked so close to John their shoulders touched. In what John assumed was an unconscious protective gesture, he'd even wrapped his long arm around John's shoulders when they crossed the street after being dropped off by the cab.

"I think I can manage not to get kidnapped getting the groceries, Sherlock," he'd quipped and instantly regretted it when he saw a flash of hurt cross Sherlock's face. It had been replaced with a hard look of determination. He simply gripped John tighter and hurried them on.

"Just for now, John. He will not get to you again," Sherlock said heatedly. And John felt a curious mix of warmth and dread at this new level of Sherlock's protectiveness.

After that last shopping trip, he'd kept John so claustrophobically close, he had begun to quietly scheme ways to get some space away from the man. He could never carry out any of them because Sherlock kept one step ahead of him and thwarted every plan to get some time away from the flat. He always had an excellent reason why John should stay put. Sherlock loomed near him perpetually. Even when he went to the bathroom to shower and take a piss, he sensed Sherlock hovering in the hallway. He found himself longing for his hectic shifts at the surgery. He hadn't gone on a date with a woman or even his mates in so long he almost forgot what it was like to just revel in the freedom of being away from the flat and out in real world.

John remembered the last morning three months ago when he'd tried to go to work at the clinic.

"You are not leaving Baker Street again until it's safe," Sherlock stated in his dark baritone when he saw John heading for the front door, keys in hand. He'd quickly jumped in front of him and physically blocked his way. "You can't. He'll kidnap you again or kill you. I couldn't bear to lose you." He'd been so fierce and sad about it that John had simply caved in.

Sherlock had forbidden him to go in to the clinic, and he'd kept having to call in sick or find some other excuse until he finally broke down and asked for a formal leave of absence. He had some savings, enough to last for about six months if he were careful. If this kept up, they would have to rely on Sherlock's erratic income (or possibly Mycroft) more often if he could not leave the flat for work.

Sherlock had been so relieved; he hugged John tightly startling an "Ugg, from him in the process. John remembered he'd held the embrace a bit longer than a flat mate's embrace should have lasted and let go finally with a satisfied look in his eyes.

"Thank you," he said and bounded back into the kitchen to crouch over his laptop.

John's employers had granted him a leave of absence, grudgingly, and he'd been relieved he might still be able to go back to work when this overprotective phase of Sherlock's finally ended. It would all work out, he'd hoped. In retrospect, John should not have ignored all those red flags.

During those intense months, Sherlock's unconscious touching had increased until John thought nothing of sitting on the couch typing away on his blog to find Sherlock sitting so close their thighs brushed. Sherlock had a nearly psychic ability to know when he was about to fix a cup of tea and when to hand John a mug down from the cupboard. He even passed him towels when he needed to dry the dishes.

"Thanks, Sherlock" he usually muttered both pleased and disturbed at this new level of helpfulness. He'd never been the focus of this much of Sherlock's attention before. At first he'd been a little giddy and even blushingly flattered by it.

"Of course, John," Sherlock always said sometimes letting his gaze linger a little too long. He'd even caught Sherlock hiding a small smirk at John's blushes. Other times, he let his long fingers graze over John's in a suggestive way as he handed him things. But, then Sherlock would turn back to whatever experiment he was working on and John brushed it off to Sherlock being Sherlock. But as the moments increased, John couldn't help but worry that Sherlock wanted something more from him, more than his total allegiance, respect and companionship. He didn't know what else he had to offer. Things had continued on in this way during what John had dubbed his "time in Baker Street solitary." They threw themselves into their work and John let it go. He always let it go when it came to Sherlock.

However, John grew weary of the monotony, of life grounded in the flat and research, and he sometimes daydreamed about packing a bag and leaving this whole mad way of life behind. Then, he stopped and remembered his existence before he met Sherlock Holmes and thanked whatever gods that had granted him a life with this crazy man. Things would get better. They'd solve the Moriarty dilemma, as Sherlock called it. He just had to have faith.

While John's common sense knew this new phase would eventually iron itself out in time, deep down, he began to suspect there might not be an end to Sherlock's new level of possessiveness. John wondered how far he'd let Sherlock go if he wanted to push him into a physical relationship. What would he surrender of himself to keep Sherlock happy? They danced around their attraction uneasily and John still didn't know for sure. The conflicting messages in his own body unsettled him. He only hoped things would get back to normal soon before he did something to resolve his inner conflict that he might regret. Like, leave.

At the café, John sipped his tea and ate his chicken salad sandwich contentedly. It just felt so good being out in the late spring sunshine and he reveled in it. Today, he'd finally managed to slip out from the flat after Sherlock had crashed last night. The detective had been awake nearly three days. He'd been out chasing a lead on Moriarty he thought might bring him to justice in the very near future. On the third day, he'd finally drug himself home looking like a bedraggled wolf, unshaven, un-showered and fierce. During his absence, John had been so worried about Sherlock he'd tried calling Mycroft for information only to be politely rebuffed. "We have eyes on him, John. Don't worry," Mycroft patiently told him over the phone. "He's doing important work."

It was no secret that Mycroft wanted him in MI6. So far, Sherlock had resisted his brother's pull for years opting instead to fulfill his crime solving whims by being the world's only consulting detective. After John had joined him two years ago, their work together had always been more than enough. Then, the siren call of hunting the ultimate villain sucked Sherlock in. Moriarty fascinated Sherlock. The chase consumed him and John felt pushed aside for a far more interesting challenge. If it weren't for Sherlock's daily insistence that he needed John's help, he might have left him to it months ago.

Last night, Sherlock had returned in his present state and finally given into sleep. Just before crashing, he'd given John a stern warning to finish compiling the notes and files he'd left for him on the table and not to leave the flat for any reason. Then, he shut the door and left John to wonder where he'd been. The old feelings of being a third wheel resurfaced. This wasn't what he'd signed up for when he'd agreed to help Sherlock hunt down Moriarty. This wouldn't do. John felt torn by his desire to be there for Sherlock, and his desire to break away to pursue another kind of challenge, a normal life.

After breakfast that morning, John sat down to another tedious, yet essential task, and dreamt of simply taking a walk in the park. He heard no sound from Sherlock's room, and at ten o'clock when he'd just finished his work, he heard a ring at the bell. John sighed; Mrs. Hudson was away, and he'd have to go downstairs to see who it was.

Sherlock had triple locked the front door to 221. He had incorporated stern protocols for allowing anyone into Baker St these days, so John peered out the eyehole to see who it was. Mycroft stood gazing serenely back into the fishbowl lens. Just what he needed, another Holmes brother to give him a lecture or more bad news about their already dire situation.

He unlocked the door and let the man with the brolly into the hallway. "Mycroft," he simply stated when he stepped over the threshold.

"I see my brother is still lazing about in bed," Mycroft replied with an insufferable smirk, twirling his umbrella on its tip. As usual, he sported a three-piece, caramel colored, bespoke suit that probably cost more than John made in a month.

"Yes," John said. "But, you knew that, or you wouldn't be here." The last time Mycroft had visited the flat, Sherlock threw him out after a bitter fight over the best use of resources to track down and catch Moriarty in his most recent, illegal venture.

"You're right. I wanted to speak to you, John," Mycroft said leveling his intense state at the doctor.

"Tea?" John offered keeping his tone neutral. Speaking to Mycroft always unsettled him, put him on edge. Ever since that first awkward kidnapping, John had seen him as a larger than life figure, capable of omniscient wonders with the power of the British government at his back. Sherlock's contempt for his brother, however, had always helped John put the man in a more realistic perspective. It helped to see him as Sherlock's overbearing big brother and less of a metaphorically speaking,"Big Brother." But, if Sherlock knew Mycroft lurked anywhere in Baker Street, he'd come charging down the steps in a rage. John wanted to avoid that if possible.

"No, we'd better just speak here in the hallway, if you don't mind," He said just as neutrally. "I'd like you to know that your hard work has paid off. Both of you deserve commendation. We've taken James Moriarty into custody."

John gaped at him. "Really? That's brilliant! How did you finally get him?" This was remarkable news. Thoughts of relief washed through John as he realized the Sherlock's iron grip might loosen.

Mycroft smiled at him. "Really John, that's classified," Mycroft replied turning his head haughtily up to looked at the aged ceiling of the front foyer.

"Oh right," John said letting some anger creep into his voice. "We've just been killing ourselves for the last THREE MONTHS trying to help you bring him down, and you can't give us a hint? Will you tell Sherlock?"

"Hmmmm. I will tell him the particular details in due time, but you may inform him that his deductions last night helped us to get a monster locked up." Mycroft looked at him pointedly. "I know he's been keeping you under house arrest and that you've been extremely patient with him in this regard," Mycroft stared down at him from his height and John couldn't help but feel like a child who's been called into the headmaster's office.

"Yeah, well…. He's been so worried about our, uh my safety. I know he insists it's to protect me, but I've been itching to get on with my life again," John said looking pointedly at the floor. He licked his lips, unconsciously worried about speaking these thoughts out loud. He didn't want either of the Holmses to think him ungrateful for all they had both done to protect him over the past few months. But, his life and desires mattered! He would not be brushed aside like an unpaid intern or sidekick who made the tea and offered moral support to the superheroes.

"John," Mycroft began reading the discontent in John's expression. "We still have Moriarty's network to dismantle, and I'm afraid Sherlock is instrumental in taking it down. He's the only one we've got who knows how the man thinks. We're so close to getting all of it, John."

His hopes for freedom faded. John nodded and squared his shoulders. "I know what we're in for. I'm ready to help all I can, but I'm not sure I can do this…. level of intense togetherness anymore. I need some space. Now that Moriarty's locked up, I want to tell Sherlock that I'm going back to work at the clinic. He's just going to have to accept it." John stopped for a moment to rub his hand fitfully along the back of his and neck and to gauge the impact of his words on Mycroft.

He saw only a level gaze and what may be the beginnings of concern. A disturbing feeling began to creep up on him that he might be entering dangerous territory here, but John continued resolutely, "Now that you've got Moriarty in custody, I'm telling Sherlock I need some part of my life back. I haven't said anything yet, but I want to look at another flat nearby. I'd still help with cases when I could," he said quickly noticing the small widening of Mycroft's eyes at his mention of moving out.

"I see," Mycroft said looking down his long nose at him. John saw an almost predatory gleam now in those eyes. "You've given this some thought, I see. I have to say I hoped you had more stamina, Captain Watson."

John bristled at that. "I'm willing to keep fighting against whatever comes next. I'm all in, Mycroft. I don't intend to give up. But, I've got to separate from him a little. He's….so protective now. I can't breathe."

Mycroft leaned in close to John's ear and said, "I've never seen Sherlock take to anyone as he has with you. He's better in every way. He wouldn't want you to leave Baker Street. You calm him, make him far more productive and focused that he has ever been. You don't know how valuable you are to him and essentially to me."

"Uh, I get that. I do." John said taking a step back. He didn't like this particular turn in the conversation. "But, things are going to change, Mycroft, whether he wants it or not." John got the impression that if Mycroft had his way, he'd indenture John to Sherlock Holmes for the rest of his life.

Mycroft continued to stare steadily at him a moment longer, then seemed to come to a decision, "John, I'm sure your continued efforts and work with my brother will benefit all of us. In whatever capacity that happens to be," Mycroft said reassuringly with an artful brightness John didn't care for at all. "Well, thank you for the offer of tea, but I am in the middle of well…..best not to say." He turned on his heel and strode out of the front door and into an awaiting black sedan that magically appeared at the curb.

John sighed. The proverbial cat was out of the bag, and now his the feelings he'd been suppressing were out in the open. Then, he chuckled at the absurdity the direction his life had taken, and shook his head. Sherlock's talent of solving the unsolvable made him unique in John's mind. But, he often felt out of his depth when it came to this unexplainable relationship he had with the detective. He'd never be as valuable or as brilliant as Sherlock, and what his mad, flat mate did every day mattered in this world. Despite his rudeness, social ineptitude and complete lack of personal boundaries, John would do anything to continue working with the brilliant man. The only one of his kind, John reminded himself. However, no matter what the Holmes brothers said or how dire the consequences were to Queen and country, he'd decided enough was enough, and he'd reclaim some part of his personal life back. He couldn't just let Sherlock absorb him. On that thought, he made his way back upstairs.

When John entered the flat, he wanted to rush in and tell Sherlock the good news about Moriarty's capture so badly that he'd almost woken him up. He had no idea when the man had bedded down for the night, but, he usually needed every wink, so John sat down in front of the TV and waited. At noon, he got up to make some food and decided he could afford to slip away and treat himself out to lunch. He knew Sherlock's strict edicts about leaving, but surely they could breathe a little easier now that they had Moriarty locked up. He felt a bit guilty going behind his friend's back, but Sherlock might still be in a protective strop, so he'd better get out while he could. Besides, now was as good a time as any to assert his independence from this ridiculous situation in which he had found himself. He might even do some much-needed shopping, and when he came back safe, maybe Sherlock might lighten up and loosen the leash. He would be back before Sherlock woke up, so he took a light jacket and set off to a nearby café.

Sherlock did wake up a little after noon with a fuzzy head and an intense need to urinate. He stumbled into the bathroom. He'd slept almost eight hours; and, even though his body needed the rest, he still felt leaden when he had that much sleep. He peered at his reflection in the mirror and noted his wild hair, bloodshot eyes, and sleep-lined face. He needed a shower.

Freshly washed and shaved, he emerged from the bathroom dressed only in a towel slung around his slender hips. "John!" he called. "I need tea!"

He padded into the bedroom and changed into one of his best suits noting the distinct lack of fresh shirts. He wondered for a moment at the diminished selection of clean laundry then realized that he hadn't allowed either of them to leave the flat for any reason. Reality, he grumbled, had a way of pushing into Sherlock's world in the most annoying ways. He sighed and realized he might not be able to convince John to remain "locked up" at Baker Street for much longer. It occurred to him, drastic measures might in order.

He didn't know what he would have done if he'd lost John at the pool that night three months ago. He had feelings for the doctor. No one, not even the master criminal Moriarty, fascinated Sherlock like John. Such an ordinary human shell on the outside held a deceptively complex human being inside. He found the man fascinating on so many levels. John belonged to him as surely as he belonged to the doctor. His world now revolved around keeping his best friend safe. Sherlock wouldn't deny the thrill of this latest chase. But, when the spider tried to bite his John, the game changed. No one touched John!

He'd finally had to admit he'd been harboring deep feelings for his flat mate for a while. Love hovered somewhere just out of his reach. He knew what it meant. He knew the mechanics of it as he'd seen the messy results in other people's lives. To him, sentiment often resulted in the very crimes he often got called in to solve. He was, however, intimately acquainted with desire. He desired John. He wasn't sure if that meant he loved the doctor, but he wanted all of John, and he wanted him for the rest of his life, however long that might be

He often watched John. His ridiculous jumpers, his solid, fit physique and his never ending gentleness combined in a way that made Sherlock want to watch him all the time. He'd never get tired of his friend and imagined a thousand ways he might map out all there was to know about Dr. John Watson. He thought it might take the rest of his life. It wasn't until he almost lost the man that he realized he couldn't take any more chances with John's life. He'd protect him at any cost.

He put the finishing touches on his dark curls. Then, he went out into the living room to face the new day and drink the tea he knew would be waiting for him.

"John, I hope you've finished with those files because…." John wasn't in the kitchen, nor was he in the living room or bathroom. Sherlock frowned and listened for the sounds of John. Normally, he could hear the doctor even if he were lying quietly in his room. His attuned senses knew where John was at any moment, and now his senses screamed John wasn't home! Sleep always made him groggy; he should have stayed awake.

He made a quick dash up the stairs to check John's room just in case and found it as empty as he knew it would be. He skittered down seventeen steps to the front hallway and noted Mrs. Hudson's locked flat. Empty. She had been visiting her sister for the past week. John wasn't here. Inconceivable! He knew better than to leave the flat voluntarily. Sherlock had been explicit! For his protection, John could not leave Baker Street.

Sherlock stilled, willing himself to calm down and figure out his next plan of action. His whirring brain automatically considered the one hundred ways John could be in danger, but he needed to stop and logically plan out his next move. He sent a text to Mycroft.

John not in flat. Need help locating him. SH

He waited a few panicked moments for a reply and mercifully received:

John sitting in front of a café on Marylebone St. having tea. Do not panic. MH

Why did he leave? SH

I told him I have Moriarty in custody. MH

Do you? SH

Yes. MH

Come to Baker Street. We need to talk. SH

For the second time that day, Mycroft's black sedan pulled up to the curb and deposited the ginger-haired, British government official at the doorstep of 221b Baker Street.

Before he even had time to ring the bell, Sherlock jerked open the front door and almost drug him into the hallway. This time, Sherlock ran up the steps with his older brother following at a much slower, sedate pace.

"I can't have him leaving me again," Sherlock shouted as soon as they reached the living room.

"Calm yourself, Brother." Mycroft soothed. "Tell me what is wrong."

"We still have so much more of Moriarty's web to bring down. He's everywhere! The more I look into his influence, the more I find. I can't lose John to him. He means too much to me. I don't care if you have the wretched spider locked up. You and I both know he's just as dangerous in prison as out. He'll get to him again. He'll send others after him. I'll lose him."

Mycroft sat stiff-back and calmly watched his brother during his outburst. He'd already made up his mind while conversing with John earlier that he'd have to do something inventive to keep Dr. Watson's positive influence in his brother's life. Now, Sherlock's behavior and John's earlier confession about wanting to leave only solidified his decision.

During this tirade, Sherlock paced back and forth in front of the fireplace. He eventually ran out of steam after a few minutes and sat down to put his face in his hands. "He has no idea how much danger he's in just sitting out on the street in broad daylight."

"I know. I do have him under surveillance," Mycroft said calmly. "Moriarty will go to great lengths to burn you. But, John has a right to live his life as he chooses."

"Does he? Do you know how much he means to me?" Sherlock asked. He couldn't think straight and could only look desperately at Mycroft. This was as honest as he'd been with anyone since he was a child. Even though he fought bitterly with his brother, Myc might be the only person in the world he trusted to tell the deepest secrets of his heart.

"Have you told him how much he means to you?" Mycroft asked.

Sherlock looked through his fingers and groaned the word, "No! I can't seem to tell him. I don't want to frighten him away. He keeps saying he's not gay! He hooks up with new women even though I try to break them up. Every time he goes out on a date, I seethe with jealousy. I can't help it. I want him. I need him. I want to," here swallowed what he'd been about to say. But, Mycroft read his wretched desires anyway. Sherlock looked helplessly at his brother. "He keeps me grounded. I can't lose him. In one way or another, he has helped me solve every case since he's been with me. He's my conductor of light. I don't know how to do it without him." He moaned putting his head back into his hands.

"I know," Mycroft stated again softly. "We've been aware of his influence on you for some time. "I also know you love him."

Sherlock jerked his head up quickly. "I… I don't."

"Don't lie to yourself or to me. I know you love him. That's why he's got so much influence over you. Sentiment, Sherlock. I warned you how much it could interfere…"

"Sentiment! How ridiculous, Mycroft. Nothing you've ever said or done could have prepared me for what I feel for John Watson!" Sherlock nearly screamed at him through clenched teeth. "It's overwhelming. I can't live or work without him. I won't! Without him near me at ALL times, I can't function. Now he's…..gone! What if I've driven him away for good? What if he never wants to come back?"

For the third time in the conversation Mycroft said, "I know, Sherlock."

"Well, if you know, what am I supposed to do about it?" He was snarling now, nearly feral with the intensity of his feelings. For all their bickering and endless competition, Mycroft felt an overpowering urge to comfort his brother. He wanted to wrap his dear Sherlock in his arms and stroke his hair like he used to when he was a child. He dearly loved his brother and it broke his heart, yes the Iceman had a heart, to see him in such pain.

Mycroft said gently, "If you listen, I will tell you."

The black sedan pulled up next to the little table at the café where John had just finished his second cup of excellent tea. He'd decided to treat himself to another cup as he'd enjoyed the first so much. He caught the movement of the sleek car as it whispered to a stop next to him.

"Fucking Mycroft!" he swore to himself. John decided he'd had enough cloak and dagger to last him a long time. He only wanted a sandwich, a cuppa and a nice walk to the shops. He wanted to linger over the too many brands in the tea aisle, pick up a bunch of bananas and decide what to cook for dinner. Was it too much to ask for one day of normalcy?

A tall, muscular man in a dark suit and sunglasses stepped out of the passenger door and into the street. He touched his ear for a moment as if listening. John goggled at him. He looked like he sported an eight-pack under his Brooks Brothers suit and arms that could crush alligators. Why did Mycroft need that kind of muscle? The man finished listening to his earpiece and then shut the car door. He locked his mirrored gaze directly onto John. Behind him, another, equally bulky agent got out, and together they made their way determinedly to John's table. John stood in alarm as the two walking suits (he could only think of them as well-dressed goons) soon flanked either side of him. They both pressed themselves into his personal space. He felt like part of a John sandwich.

"John Watson. Come with us," the first one said, and John could only laugh at the absurdity of the situation. It was as clichéd as it got. He was being abducted by the Men in Black, and he could only assume he was about to be ushered into a government sedan and taken to God knew where. Mycroft's obvious involvement aside, John's heart thumped in his throat as they forcefully grabbed him by the elbow's and frog-marched him to the awaiting car. The second man in the dark suit left a twenty to cover John's tab. At least they tipped well, John thought and felt another absurd giggle well up.

The man behind his elbow, Goon one, manhandled him into the backseat of the sleek car and motioned for him to slide over. Mycroft, as expected, sat near the window and once again John nestled in between two grown men. The other goon slid behind the wheel and the car soundlessly slipped into traffic.

"Did you need to kidnap me this time?" John asked evenly. "We just spoke to each other this morning. And, I thought we had a very pleasant conversation." Goon two turned to look at him, and John could make out no expression behind the Foster Grants.

"We are heading to another location where you and I need to discuss another an important matter, John," Mycroft said keeping his voice light, his eyes averted.

"And you can't tell me now? What? Your boys here can't know?" John pressed trying to keep his anger from rising to the surface.

"Oh, I trust these men implicitly. We just need some space for our conversation, John," Mycroft answered. "Now, let's enjoy the rest of the ride in silence, shall we?"

Both of John's eyebrows shot up into his fringe. "Now you're telling me to shut the hell up and just wait until we get there. Where, Mycroft?" John looked at Mycroft's impassive face and suddenly felt a real chill run up his spine. For all the joking about the Iceman being THE British Government, John often wondered if he'd ever get to see this side of Sherlock's very powerful brother. Suddenly, it didn't seem so funny. What the hell was happening now? he wondered.

Mycroft didn't answer; the two Goons stared straight ahead, and John felt the bright, normal day he'd started the morning with, slipping further and further away. He sighed heavily and sat back to await his fate. He paid his taxes and enjoyed the freedom of British citizenship. Ultimately, he figured, Mycroft could only go so far with this.

Twenty minutes later, they arrived at Mycroft's posh club, The Diogenes. They pulled around to the back entrance and parked near a side door. Goon one exited and ushered John out of the car and into a discreet hallway leading into a suite of rooms decadently appointed with plush sofas and Queen Anne furniture. Until he needed to panic or try to flee, he'd just go along with the flow and let Mycroft have his dramatic little conversation with him. God only knew what he was in store for now.

The two suits positioned themselves firmly on either side of the only door in the room, and Mycroft gestured for John to sit on one of the sofas across from him. "Tea?" he asked echoing John's earlier offer.

"No thanks," John said. "Just finished a cup." He still felt the sting from Mycroft's clear refusal to speak to him in the car. The bastard could stick his niceties up his arse. "Get on with it, Mycroft."

"Very well, John," Mycroft began after clearing his throat. "I am hereby informing you that you have been commissioned to perform a very important role for our government."

John's brows furrowed, "What are you talking about, Mycroft?" The ornate room suddenly felt too warm, too bright. Mycroft's behavior, normally pompous and stiff, now bordered on scarily formal. John felt like he'd been placed on trial and was now being sentenced for some crime he didn't know he'd committed.

"If you could refrain from speaking until I have finished…." he held up his hand imperiously. "You have been commissioned by the highest authority, I might add, to assist this nation in a vital mission. This mission consists of you providing certain services to one of the country's most important assets in the hopes of keeping him productive in the fight against the enemies of our country."

Mycroft paused for a moment and John took advantage to interject, "You mean Sherlock, don't you? Mycroft, you don't need all this official pompery. I've been willingly helping your brother for almost two years now. I've been cooped up like a dog in a kennel at Baker Street for nearly three months, and I'm not about to abandon Sherlock any time soon. What the hell is this?"

"John, I'm afraid this is an official request and must be given all due Pomp, as you put it. I'd like to read this to you; he held up an official looking document with what looked like a royal seal. As a member of her Majesty's Army, you are expected to perform the duties laid out in this degree."

"I've been formally discharged and invalided. I'm not in Her Majesty's Army any more. That has no power over…"

Mycroft made a small movement with his hand, and Goon One came to stand behind John's couch. "If he speaks again, gag him," Mycroft commanded.

John looked at the man who nodded and produced a black-leather, ball gag from inside his suit jacket pocket held it out like a limp flag. John's face snapped back to Mycroft who merely widened his eyes a bit and looked at him with an expression of, "Well what did you expect?"

John decided to panic. He sprang up intending to get away, escape out the door, but the well-muscled goon placed both hands on his shoulders and pressed down. He plopped back down on the cushion while Goon two joined the party and in less than five seconds, they had the ball gag in his mouth and buckled behind his head. John screamed in fury and thrashed on the sofa, but the two powerful men held him in place until he spent his energy and quieted down. Mycroft looked on with the same cool expression he had in the car and John finally stilled, breathing heavily and glaring daggers at him.

"You have been charged with the task of keeping my brother company while he works on critical missions and cases for this country. Your task will be no different from what you have been doing already except for a few minor, ah, shall we say adjustments?"

John continued to glare. What adjustments he wondered? Could this get any weirder?

"Sherlock has developed a personal attachment to you, John. No doubt you've probably noticed his increasing closeness to you physically? His unwillingness to let you out of his sight is part of this as well. He's in love with you."

Love? John felt his world spin on its axis. He'd suspected something but to hear it spelled out so baldly. Sherlock was in love with him? He sat back on the sofa and closed his eyes. Things like this did not happen to him. In fact, before he'd met either of these madmen, his life had been predictable, average and even boring. Now, he had no way to describe this turn of events. Only in the Holmes' universe would this be an acceptable way to declare love for someone. Then John saw it, all the lingering looks, the touches, the over protectiveness. It had been obvious, but John hadn't been willing to make that leap. Despite the freefall Mycroft's revelation had left him in, he felt an interesting pressure building in his chest. He loved Sherlock too; he knew that. But, he didn't think it stretched as far as a physical romance. He'd give his life for the man if that's what it took. That's why he'd stayed during his enforced, home confinement, and that's why he'd never leave the fantastical git. He'd always known it at some level. They'd never had a conventional friendship or partnership. But love! Romantic love.

He opened his eyes and pointed angrily to the gag. Mycroft sighed and motioned for one of the suits to remove it. He did, and John worked his jaw back and forth. He took a deep breath and tried to face Mycroft calmly. "So what does this have to do with your ridiculous commission?"

"You can't leave him," Mycroft said quietly. "As long as he needs you, you must stay with him and give your full support to help him with his work."

"I already do that!" John said growling in frustration. "What more do you want from me?"

"We want you to have a physical relationship with him."

"What?" John asked. "You mean sex, with Sherlock Holmes? Does he do sex?"

"I assure you, he does. It was quite a few years ago, but he used to be quite adept at picking up men in his previous life as a drug-addled university student. He had lots of ways to provide for his addictions…."

John closed his eyes again. He felt another agonizing twist in his chest at Mycroft's words about Sherlock's past. Yes, he knew about the danger nights but hadn't wanted to dig into that part of his life too deeply for fear of what he'd find.

"I assure you he is clean now. No lingering effects, no STD's if you're wondering. You've been tested too, John. You are also clean."

"How? Oh, never mind." He didn't want to know how Mycroft or Sherlock had got a hold of his blood. It didn't matter now, did it?

"I don't believe the army has the power to force me to stay with your brother and have a physical relationship with him. I'm sure that isn't covered in the standard duties of an army solider."

"You've been unofficially reinstated and placed on a special mission vital to the well-being our country. Sherlock must continue to work on dismantling Moriarty's empire. We are fighting a battle with him and John, he's winning. He's expanded into weapons, war and espionage. Without Sherlock to fight against him, we may soon all be under his ever expanding empire. We need you to keep Sherlock focused and working on this, and he can't do it without you. If he loves you and wants to keep you at his side, then you must do what you can to provide any and all support. I know it's a lot to ask, but you have to help him."

John didn't think Mycroft would need the gag again. He couldn't think of a thing to say at this point.

Mycroft motioned again, and the goon who had been holding the gag stepped forward. John could see he had a small, wooden box in his hands. He handed the box to Mycroft, who carefully opened it and revealed the contents to John.

Inside, lay a leather collar. John gaped at it. "Oh no, no, no. You are not putting a collar on me! He forgot himself again and tried to rise from the couch. The goons were ready for him this time and gripped him a bit too hard around the upper arms. They forced him to kneel on the carpet in front of the sofa and held him in place. Mycroft came forward and sat next to him. "I'm going to put this on you now, John."

John struggled as best he could, but he heard the soft click as the collar's electronic clasp slid home. It fit loosely, but not uncomfortably around his neck. It felt butter smooth on his skin and very lightweight.

"I must warn you that once this collar activates, it will never come off of you, John. I'm the only one with the power to remove it. These metal fibers under the leather can't be cut. This collar will be a part of you for as long as we deem it necessary to the completion of your mission. It's been fitted with very tiny explosives that will detonate if you try to forcibly remove it. The charges will be just powerful enough to blow apart the arteries in your neck causing you to bleed out in a matter of minutes. "

"What the fuck! Why did you put this on me?" John continued to thrash against the two men holding him. So far they had been intent to keep him from hurting himself but when John tried to reach out for Mycroft, one of them slapped him hard on the side of the head.

"Settle down, John. I don't want you to be hurt. But, you can't fight this. Finding and eliminating Moriarty's web has become too important. I want you to know this isn't permanent. When you complete your mission, I'll remove the collar, John. You'll be a free man again. "

"I'm going to make sure you pay for this Mycroft! You cannot do this to me. Sherlock will be furious," John shouted at him from his prone position on the floor.

"Sherlock already knows about the collar, John. He'll be waiting for you at Baker Street. You belong to him for now."

John blinked back tears. Was Sherlock in on this? He wanted John to do his bidding? "I'll just run away," he fumed. "I'll leave the country, and you both can rot in hell!"

"Take a look at this, John," Mycroft said gently. He held a tablet in his hands and on it he saw various photos. Mycroft's fingers selected one of a blonde haired woman, Harriet, his sister, and enlarged it. It was recent, and John immediately slumped into the couch. "Oh my god, you can't be serious. You're threatening my family?"

Mycroft then selected a photo of a smiling older couple, John's parents. "If you fight this, they will suffer. Besides, the collar has a tracking chip embedded in it as well. We have permission to use whatever means we need to ensure your cooperation in this matter. You will give Sherlock what he needs, or we will be forced to use methods we'd rather not. Think of it as your civic duty."

John felt sick. He'd trusted Mycroft on so many occasions. He couldn't believe the man he'd worked so closely with for years capable of really doing this to him. But, he had to admit he had only actually seen the outside edges of how powerful the British Official was. He tugged on his collar then immediately let go, fearful of triggering the explosives. "So, you'll just blow my head off if I don't do you want? Kill my family?"

"Yes, John. That's how this works."

"You fucking bastard," he gritted out. "How sensitive is this thing?"

"It will only trigger on my command. Don't give me a reason, John," Mycroft admonished. Things don't have to change that much for now. I want you to start slow."

"Tell me, what am I supposed to do?" he finally croaked.

For now, Mycroft held all the cards and John would simply have to play along. He'd get his chance to get free. Fuck this whole situation. If he didn't actually care about Sherlock, he'd be much more furious about what Mycroft wanted him to do. At some deep level, he could see the logic behind it all. But, John kept waiting for the punchline of the sick joke his two most trusted friends seemed to be playing on him. He couldn't even think about sex with his best friend as an actual possibility. Perhaps Sherlock didn't want that from him?

"He does want a physical relationship with you," Mycroft said reading his mind.

John groaned aloud. "I don't know if I can, Mycroft. I'm not..."

"Don't tell me you're not gay, John. I know exactly what you are, even if you don't know yourself, and I'll tell you how to seduce my brother. You will need to follow my instructions to the letter. If you don't, I'll start with your mother…."

The car dropped John off in front of Baker Street. He stood in front of an apartment that up till now, he'd come to see as a haven. Could he do this? Would he still be able to look at Sherlock as a lover? The collar itched. John sighed and opened the door. He walked up the seventeen steps to 221B. Sherlock, beautiful, graceful and utterly engrossed in playing his violin, heard his footsteps and turned away from the window. He set down the instrument and the bow and opened his arms. "Welcome home, John," he said and smiled.

Chapter 2

Warning: Non-Con elements in this chapter.

John stood on the threshold a moment before he crossed into the room. Now that he stood in front of Sherlock a whole wave of insecurities rose to the surface of his thoughts.

"Sherlock," he began unevenly. Did the man just expect him to fall into his waiting arms?

"Come here, John. I just want to welcome you home," he said letting his smile slip a bit.

John felt his heart constrict at that and then forced any sympathy for Sherlock deep underground. Mycroft's instructions had been explicit. He could not retaliate with anger. He could not argue or blow up at the detective about the situation. He simply had to follow Sherlock's lead. Whatever Sherlock wanted from him, he would have to comply. Mycroft assured him that he would not be harmed in his brother's sexual pursuit. But, he would be watching John's progress. If he didn't see a happy Sherlock, John's family would suffer the consequences.

He couldn't forget he was being forced into slavery. Best friend or not, this betrayal rocked his entire world. John had no idea how to fix things, but after seeing Sherlock's small, bright smile, he had to try. Maybe he could salvage this fuckery. It was either that or lose himself to a growing urge to rage him. Right now, he didn't know whether he felt more hatred or sorry for a Sherlock Holmes who did not know how to deal with his own passions. He was at a loss to define how messed up a family and country had to be to allow these kinds of concessions to a mad genius whose one talent might save them from a villainous criminal.

Remembering Mycroft's instructions, John willed himself forward and into Sherlock's embrace. It felt surprisingly good to be held after the day he'd had, and he relaxed into it for a moment. The familiarity of Baker Street washed over him and he had the surreal experience of feeling the rightness of being here with Sherlock and the wrongness of his relationship. He couldn't reconcile what Mycroft expected of him and the actual man standing in front of him. Sherlock didn't have feelings for other people, and that foundational truth had sustained John for the past two years.

If it weren't for the constant reminder of the collar around his neck, John would have thought he'd just had an awful nightmare this morning, and things would just continue on as they had been. But, things were not the same, and John had reorganize his world view to accommodate a reality where the British Government now held the reins of his life.

"So, you're staying, then," Sherlock stated when he stepped back.

"It would seem….I've been given to understand," John stammered. He couldn't get the words to form. John still hoped that Sherlock might just laugh, hook his finger in the collar and take it off. Then, this whole, unreal episode could fade away into nothing. Given enough time, John would even see the humor in it.

"Ah, the collar," Sherlock looked down at his feet a moment then back up. He met John's wounded, blue eyes with his piercing green-grey gaze and his face changed, hardened. "This is good, John."

"How is this good, Sherlock? I'm your…..what? Prisoner?" He'd been told not to refer to the physical relationship until he'd prepared Sherlock to accept it. But, it clanged foremost in his thoughts. He wanted to get it out in the open, address it in black and white, and set it down in some agreed upon contract. He would have a very hard time staying within the parameters of Mycroft's stipulations. "You're okay with this?"

Sherlock blinked, and his face smoothed out into a neutral expression. "Yes," he said. "I am. I'm doing this for your own good. I won't have you take any more chances. You may not leave the flat until it is safe. But no, you are not my prisoner. As soon as we can, we're going back out on cases. You have free reign here at Baker Street but don't go out unless I am with you. Do you understand?"

John expected this at least and a little of the anger at his new situation slipped into his voice. "Yes, I understand. Anything else?" He wanted to add a sarcastic, "Master" but thought better of it. Who knew what the parameters of this new relationship might entail and there was no way he was going to start calling the git, "Master." Looking into Sherlock's mercurial eyes, he saw them widen for the briefest of moments in what? Alarm? Panic? Then, they narrowed and Sherlock's face adopted a neutral mask again.

"I've finished the files you wanted," he continued in a more neutral manner. "Do you need any more help?" John asked trying not to grind his teeth together. He felt it would be better to just dive back into the work. It might help to drive the insane feeling of wrong this conversation made him feel. But, suddenly he couldn't look at Sherlock. The strangeness of having an explosive collar, Mycroft's threats against his family and his growing awareness that he been sold into actual servitude (real or made up by Mycroft) suddenly left him feeling panicked. He wanted more than anything to be able to leave the flat and walk and walk until he could make sense of the past few hours. His chest felt tight, and he couldn't take in enough air. He began breathing in sharp gasps, and the world began to spin.

"Calm down, John!" Sherlock said, suddenly at his side. He guided him to his chair and sat him in it. He still had his coat on, and he felt it being gently removed. "Take deep breaths, I'm here." Sherlock crouched next to him and began rubbing small circles on his back and shoulders. It helped him regain his composure and for a brief moment, John enjoyed having his back rubbed by his friend's strong hands. He calmed down. Then, the present came crashing back, and he wanted to jerk forward and away him.

These warring emotions just might kill him. His breathing evened out, and he steeled himself to look up at Sherlock's anxious face. "I need to… I have to get out! Please, Sherlock just let me go out for a while." He wanted to see Harriet and his parents. "I'll come back. I always do."

"No. You're not leaving," Sherlock said firmly and pulled John into another embrace. His hands splayed across John's back. His voice dipped into a low, sensual register, "I can help you calm down if you want me to."

This was it, John thought registering the intend behind the words. Thoughts of what Mycroft explained earlier flashed through his brain. The elder Holmes had wanted him to go slowly with his brother. "It might take days or even weeks before Sherlock wants anything physical from you," he cautioned during his instructions. "Let him initiate. Let him move at his own pace, Dr. Watson," Mycroft had advised him. You are more experienced with relationships than he is. He may need some coaching to be able to express himself physically."

Sherlock's hands moved further down his back. It appeared Sherlock needed no coaching whatsoever. Things were happening much faster than Mycroft had expected. How had a man who noticed everything, managed to overlook his own brother's infatuation with his flat mate? John's breath hitched in his chest again and Sherlock's hands faltered, stopped. Then, he felt a long, lithe body press even further into his space in the chair and warm air huffed in his ear as Sherlock said, "I want you, John," in a low, lust-filled growl.

"Sherlock, I… We need to talk about this. Us," John said rising up out of the chair. Sherlock gracefully stood as well and John once again found himself fully embraced by the detective. He allowed the hug for a moment longer and then stepped away. He looked into Sherlock's face and realized two things at once. His asexual flat mate had vanished and a passion fueled stranger had taken over. John saw arousal and naked need gleaming from those eyes. He also discovered to his amazement, that he felt a stirring in his own cock answering Sherlock's possessive desires. No, his brain shouted at him. Do not do this now. He had to fight this. He would not be taken so easily.

"I've wanted this since I first saw you, John. I just didn't understand it. I never felt this for anyone," Sherlock said sliding his free hand around to the front of John's trousers, fingers finding and brushing over the bulge. Shame crept over him at how easily Sherlock's touches aroused him. Sherlock saw his blush and smiled hungrily. He hugged him close again. To his infinite surprise, John felt a hard length press into his belly. Sherlock Holmes had an erection, an erection he had caused, and it now lie flush against his midsection. Only hours ago, John remembered thinking, the world's only consulting detective didn't have "those" feelings for anyone. He wasn't ready to be physically intimate with his best mate. Despite his developing hard on, he needed to slow things down. Anxiety made his heart speed back up and his breathing quicken. Knowing Sherlock, he'd read these as signs of arousal, so he tried to calm himself. No matter what the Holmes brothers wanted from him, he wasn't ready for physical intimacy yet.

"I need to lie down upstairs, Sherlock. I have to process all of this." He had no idea how he might put Sherlock off, but he intended to do it as long as he could.

"You could lie down in my room," Sherlock suggested, leaning further into John. His voice rumbled even lower, and he murmured, "It's closer."

John tore himself away from this new, seductive version of Sherlock and tried moving toward the stairs to his room. Before he got more than a few steps, a strong hand reached out and clasped around John's wrist pulling him right back into Sherlock's sphere. "I think I'll have to insist, John."

Chapter 3

How had he come to this so fast? Sherlock led him into his darkened room. Outside, the sun began its descent behind the horizon and London prepared for night. John could hear the normal sounds of moving cars, honking horns and wailing sirens in the distance. Life moved along just like it always did on Baker Street, but for John, life would never be the same.

"Lie down," Sherlock told him. "Get comfortable."

Sherlock took off his jacket and removed his shoes. He unbuttoned his shirt, the tight, white one, and laid his clothes in a neat pile on the floor near his bed. He stretched out his hand to help John do the same but John shot him a look, and he pulled it back with a small smirk.

"I can undress myself," he said evenly. "I don't suppose you got enough sleep earlier." He asked hoping Sherlock might just want to lie down with him and let him adjust to this slowly.

"I'm fine, John really," Sherlock chuckled darkly. John saw glimmerings of real lust in his friend's eye. When before there had been hesitancy, now the look Sherlock gave him suggested heat and want.

Mycroft's words echoed in his mind as he thought about his next move. "Make sure he sees you want him as well. Give him what he wants. Make him feel like you want this as much as he does."

"But, I don't want this, Mycroft! I'm his best friend. I have felt...things for him briefly, but I don't see this working out in the way you and he seem to want it to. I have a crush on a nurse at the clinic for god's sake!" John felt panic rising in him. Part of him had always wanted to see what made Sherlock tick sexually. Of course, he'd been curious about his sexual tastes. Sherlock's physical beauty granted him a special kind of attention from both sexes until he opened his mouth and drove away any real interest in him. John had suspected the woman, Irene played largely in his fantasies until Mycroft told him otherwise.

"You've stuck by him through countless adventures, and you put up with many, many of his ridiculous experiments. You already are together. I don't think either one of us expects you to change your feelings for women. But he's let you in. As far as I know, you are the only person he's let this close, ever. We've commissioned you for this because you are uniquely qualified to do it."

"I'll help you, I'll do this if you keep my family out of it," John said feeling like he needed to get some part of this fucked up situation under his control. "I'll do this for you; I'll even act as if I like it if you assure me they are out of it. I'll need some guarantee you won't harm them."

John could see he'd struck a nerve with the man. Mycroft seemed to think about it and nodded. "You have my assurances that if you perform your duties as Sherlock, and I see fit, I'll keep them out of it. But John, the collar stays on."

John blew out a sigh of relief and finally bowed to the inevitable. He'd do this but if his family weren't part of the equation, maybe he could get out of this a different way.

Back in the present moment, John couldn't help but stare at the long, pale expanse of Sherlock's chest. He'd seen it before of course, many times, but this time he'd have to run his hands across it, caress it. The thought didn't immediately repulse him, but he found it nearly impossible to take the gigantic step forward and treat Sherlock as a lover. He'd touched men before. He'd had two distinct, sexual encounters with "blokes" in his past, one in med school and one in the army. They'd both been brief but intense moments in John's life. And, while he enjoyed and didn't regret either one, he'd decided he liked the idea of finding the right woman to have a family with someday. Being with a man didn't fit in with John's life plan, but then he'd never planned to meet and live with Sherlock Holmes.

He also didn't want to cower on his side of the bed and wait to be touched like some shrinking violet. Maybe the solution might lie in just completing the act. After all, most sexual relationships ran their course from hot to cool over the course of time. His salvation might lie in the probability that Sherlock would soon tire of him, grow bored and cast him aside like an old toy. He'd certainly done it with so many other things he'd once found fascinating. The longer he drug this out, the longer he'd be stuck in the collar. Demystifying the sex might be the way out of this mess.

Removing his jumper and shirt, John pulled back the duvet and began to climb into bed. "Trousers, too," Sherlock rumbled at him shucking his expensive bottoms before pulling back his side of the covers. A pair of black, silk boxers clung to his long, lean thighs barely covering a bulge John didn't want to look at too closely. The very act of undressing in front of another person caused his dick to betray him, and he felt it harden again involuntarily. Was there some part of this he found exciting? Sherlock flicked a brief glance at his crotch. Of course he noticed everything, John thought. He'd never been able to hide anything from him.

In nothing but his pants, John complied and got under the blanket. Sherlock joined him and pressed the whole length of his body up against his. He nosed into John's neck, wrapped his arms tightly around his abdomen, and pulled him in.

"I'm not sorry, John," Sherlock said in his ear.

"About what?" John asked staring up at the dark ceiling and concentrating on pulling air in and out of his lungs. Sherlock had begun giving him small kisses on his neck. It took him a moment to realize the warm, fluttery feelings were kisses, and when he did, a powerful pain punched through his stomach. Sherlock was kissing him! It wasn't a joke, nor was it going to stop just because he wanted it to.

"About taking you like this, under these circumstances. I've wanted you for so long," Sherlock spoke low in his ear. He began moving his long-fingered hand is slow circles over John's belly and chest. It felt both warm and frightening. "Mycroft told me. You wanted to move out, and I can't let you do that."

"I won't move out, Sherlock," John tried. "I'll stay right here, with you. Just give me more time to adjust to this first." It was a ploy, a stall for time, but he felt that he might be able to do this whole thing if they took it slower.

"You're doing fine. I've got you. I won't hurt you, John. Unless you fight me," Sherlock said moving his hand further up John's chest gently brushing over his nipples and up to his neck. His hand gripped around John's throat and pressed itself over the collar just tight enough to barely constrict the airflow.

"Sherlock," John groaned. "Be careful, I can't…" His thoughts raced over possible ways he could break free if Sherlock went too far. He'd hoped for gentle lovemaking, but he sensed something much more demanding in the wind.

"Shhhh, John. I will be careful, always of you. You're mine now, and I won't ever get tired of you. This is my insurance now." He lifted his hand up and ran his fingertips over the collar. "You'll stay here because I need you and you need me. We're perfect for each other. If you leave, Mycroft will send his signal and blow this up."

He said it with real regret is his voice, a deep sadness that spoke of heartbreak and loss.

John felt his anger get the better of his common sense, "I wasn't going to stop working with you, idiot." John knew this was the wrong direction to go in, but he couldn't help gritting out, "I just wanted to get some of my life back. I think I knew you were getting too possessive, and now I see I should have listened to that voice telling me to put some distance between us." If he'd had the smallest hint of what was in store for him, he'd have fled from Baker Street that morning as far as he could.

Sherlock accepted all of this while still holding John close to him. "You've always been a fighter, John. You've just been fighting the wrong things. Let me show you how should be between us," Sherlock said and resumed kissing his neck. His hands moved down to John's inner thighs. He gently brushed his fingertips up and down the inside of his legs avoiding touching his dick. Blood rushed to fill him out and make him unabashedly hard. His body had no problem responding even when his mind screamed out, "NO!"

"Mycroft knew," Sherlock murmured into his neck as he continued to stroke his thighs. "He saw I needed you, and he saw a way to give me what I needed. He's always provided; I've just never really appreciated his support. But now, I do."

John's heart froze as he listened to Sherlock's confession. He might be well and truly fucked. Sally Donovan had warned him that one day there would be a body and Sherlock Holmes would have been the one who put it there. At the time, he had scoffed, laughed and felt secure in the knowledge of Sherlock's essential goodness and humanity, but now he felt he should have paid more attention to her warning.

"You've never needed him before. You don't need him now. Take this bloody thing off me and let's try a relationship the right way," John whispered turning his head into Sherlock's curls. He brought his hand up to the sharp cheekbones and ran his fingers gently across Sherlock's cheek. "I can forgive you this, I promise. I'll stay with you, and we can try this thing together." He needed to say anything to get Sherlock to back off for now, to wait.

"I know you'll stay, John. I've made a bargain with the devil, and I intend to keep up my end. I've sold my soul to Mycroft, and I expect to reap the one and only benefit I'll get from it." Sherlock's eyes glittered as he pushed his face into John's hand.

"What do you mean you sold your soul? Sherlock?" John began to see the glimmer of hope in what Sherlock was telling him.

"I own you because Mycroft now owns me. I've promised to work for him exclusively until Moriarty's web is cut down. You'll help me of course, but I've got to do all of his cases before I can do anything on my own."

John couldn't believe Sherlock had put himself in this position just to have this power over him. There must be a way to use this. How could he be worth so much?

"You are worth it, John," Sherlock said reading his face. "I will always want you near me." Sherlock moved closer and brushed his lips over John's collar and placed his mouth firmly just under his chin and swiftly sucked deep leaving a purple bruise. First blood.

John inhaled sharply. Sherlock tightened his embrace moving his mouth over John's. He kissed him softly at first then more insistently. He claimed John's mouth until he'd worked a small moan from him. As surreal as it all was, the man knew how to wring pleasure from him. He took it with no quarter, no mercy.

John rolled over on his side to face Sherlock and thought about pulling away, fighting back. The moment had come. He wanted to shove Sherlock away forcefully and involuntarily moved his hands up to the pale chest where Sherlock caught them and held them fast.

"Don't fight me," Sherlock growled. "I love you."

It took the fight out of him to hear Sherlock speak those words, actually say them. "I love you." He was well and truly fucked. And then John remembered the pistol in the box under his bed upstairs.

Chapter 4

Warning: Serious Non-Con in this chapter.

John ran through several scenarios in his mind where he might convince Sherlock to let him go up to his room. If he could only get his gun, he'd put it right to Sherlock's temple and demand the man remove the collar. Mycroft confided that he held the only "key" to unlocking the devious device around his neck but knew Sherlock would never allow Mycroft all the control over John without keeping some of it himself. If anyone could remove this thing without blowing his veins apart, it would be clever Sherlock. John knew it would only be a matter of the right motivation. He'd have to figure out what that motivation might be.

Sherlock slipped his hands down to John's wrists and held fast. He placed both of them in one hand, he'd always been deceptively strong, and reached behind his back for something. John caught a metallic glitter just before Sherlock snapped a pair of what could only be a pair Lestrade's stolen handcuffs around his left wrist securing the other to the metal bedframe. Caught, John thrashed away from Sherlock. He jerked his injured shoulder trying to test the strength of the bond, but it held him securely. He put up his free hand up warningly but Sherlock caught it up in both of his hands and brought it to his lips. He kissed John's open palm holding it tightly secure; then, he licked a stripe from his wrist to the crook of his elbow ending in a gentle kiss. The act sent an unwanted wave of pleasure straight to his belly. He couldn't like this, no way. He wasn't supposed to.

"Please, let's slow this down a bit," John pleaded trying to pull his free hand from Sherlock's grip. Sherlock looked up at him with those ice green, beautiful eyes, and held his gaze for a long moment.

"I don't think you want that, do you, John?" Sherlock asked and cast a pointed look at the bulge in John's underwear. "You seem to find this arousing."

Sherlock's ardor continued to surprise him. Up until this moment, John had no idea what Sherlock might want. Apparently, he'd underestimated Sherlock's sexual experience and even mistakenly entertained the idea he had none at all. Either he'd been doing some serious research lately, or he really had experimented at uni. John had no defense against this relentless onslaught.

"Lie back down. I've got another pair of handcuffs, and I know your shoulder already hurts," he threatened. "I'll go as slow as you need, John."

John kept the glowing thought of his gun sitting quietly under his bed in his mind, took a calming breath and stilled himself to stretch back out on the mattress. Sherlock immediately plastered himself back against his side and resumed tracing his long fingers up and down John's body. It had grown cold in the room, and John broke out in sudden goose bumps. Sherlock's gentle brushes over them sent tiny electric shocks throughout his system.

"Mmmm….I want to touch all of you. I want to taste every inch of your skin," Sherlock murmured. "Let me."

"No," John said. "I won't let you have any of this. You'll have to take it from me. Is that what you want?" Sherlock stopped his caresses and looked at him with a searing intensity he usually reserved for examining corpses. It unnerved John to have that look rake over him, and he almost closed his eyes to escape from it. Sherlock narrowed his gaze for a moment, and John wondered if he might reconsider.

"Give in," Sherlock demanded in a low whisper keeping his voice deceptively gentle.

"Sherlock, I won't," John said setting his jaw firmly and wriggling back up against the headboard. "Get off me."

"You'll be begging me to take you before we're through," Sherlock said moving closer. " I've got such plans for you, John."

Then, John did close his eyes, and Sherlock began his work in earnest.

Sherlock had been serious about taking it slow with John. He'd covered John in tender kisses that eventually turned into nips. While he'd done most of the kissing, licking and sucking, he had not demanded anything at all of John beyond a few lingering kisses.

"Lie still," Sherlock had commanded. "I want to see all of you, touch you. We have all the time we need to get to know each other's pleasures."

When John tried squirming away, he'd placed a second cuff on him as promised and secured it next to his other wrist above John's head. He then tied John's ankles wide apart to the bottom of the bed with short pieces of rope he'd produced from his closet. "This is so you don't move when I examine the rest of you."

John tried to hold as still as he could during Sherlock's tasting experiment. When he got to his sensitive lower stomach, Sherlock hooked his fingers in John's pants and slid them down his legs as far as they would go, freeing his cock.

John continued to concentrate on breathing as he lie face up on the bed and found a small patch on the ceiling to stare at as his flat mate resumed nibbling and licking gently up and down his thighs.

He finally turned on a small bedside lamp when the room grew totally dark. So far, Sherlock had deliberately avoided touching his hard length, and it wept precome onto his stomach in a messy little puddle. John couldn't remember a time when he been harder. He desperately needed to be touched, but he didn't want to give in and beg. John steeled himself to feel the heat from either Sherlock's hand or mouth on him but when neither happened, it nearly drove him mad with anticipation. He found himself being pushed to an extreme edge of desire with all the caressing, and without meaning to, John bucked up into the air when Sherlock sucked a large bruise on his inner thigh. God, that felt fantastic.

Sherlock laughed low and smug and sucked another bruise on the opposite thigh. As he did it, his face brushed along John's shaft and over his balls in a way that forced out a low moan from him. That this madman could draw out these shameful sounds and feelings of desire in him made John frantic to fight him even more. But, the more he struggled, he harder it became to deny he wanted Sherlock to give him some release.

"Just ask me, John. I'd love nothing more than to find out how you taste. I want you to want me. Beg me and I'll give you whatever you ask me for," Sherlock said.

He wanted Sherlock's mouth encased around his dick, and he also wanted to drive his knee into that soft, sensuous mouth until it bled. How could he want them both at once? The paradox of these warring emotions made the room spin. The urge to give in pulsed in his mind becoming stronger and stronger. He heard his ears speak the words before his brain could stop himself, "Sherlock please…"

"Yes, John?" Sherlock rose up from his thighs and spoke directly into his ear.

"Please, your mouth. I need. Suck me!" he finally pleaded. "Just get me off. I can't take this anymore."

"Of course. I'd love to make you come," he said, and John felt a warm, wet heat wrap around his cock. He drifted up on the sensation of lips, tongue, teeth and a pleasure so profound, he knew he would measure all other blowjobs he'd ever receive in the future by this one. In a few short seconds, his orgasm ripped through him and left him gasping in his bonds, straining to tease out the last few rippling aftershocks of sensation. Sherlock had pulled off a second before he'd come and he could feel warm liquid lying in long stripes on his chest.

Sherlock reared up on his knees above John. He smeared a hand through the streaks of come, reached into his boxers and gripped his shaft. He pumped himself hard and arched his back as his pleasure grew. Shortly after, Sherlock groaned and shot his come over John's chest to mix and mingle together. He huffed out a long breath of air and stretched himself back against John.

"That's enough to be getting on with, I think," Sherlock said sleepily. "Goodnight, John," he murmured nuzzling back against his neck and draped one arm possessively around John's belly. "I'm tired," he said and closed his eyes looking for all the world like a sleepy little boy who'd had a rough day. John's relief nearly overwhelmed him as he realized their session was at an end. He'd escaped actual sex, but John wondered if Sherlock was going to keep him tied up all night. He waited as long as he could to see if Sherlock would wake up and finally drifted off to sleep himself hoping he'd be able to rub the feeling back into his limbs in the morning.

John opened his eyes slowly, the pale light of morning had crept in while he'd slept. Sometime during the night, Sherlock had removed his restraints and pulled the duvet over his sleeping form. Every part of him ached from last night's activities. He gingerly pulled back the covers to reveal his torso and chest covered in dried come. He ran a hand over himself and winced as it came away covered in a flaking mess. Some bruises, nips and "love bites" covered his stomach, chest, and even his arms. Sherlock had been serious about wanting to taste every part of his skin.

He hobbled his way into the bathroom. He could hear Sherlock puttering around in the kitchen so John turned on the shower to as hot as he could stand it and got in. He numbly washed away the physical evidence of previous night. The hot water felt good on his sore back and shoulder. He leaned his forehead against the shower tiles and tried to make sense of the previous night.

John steeled himself to face Sherlock and went into the kitchen.

"Good morning, John," Sherlock said looking up from his laptop. He'd actually made tea for himself. "I've made you a cup. I heard you in the shower just now so it should be just right." He nodded in the direction of the mug and then focused his gaze back onto his laptop. Except for the unprecedented cup of tea waiting for him this morning, it could have been like the hundreds of other mornings he and Sherlock had spent during the last two years.

John crossed the kitchen and picked up the waiting tea. He'd drink the stuff and head up to his room. His gun waited patiently for him to load it, bring it down and point it directly at the curly head of his flat mate. He didn't want to spike Sherlock's suspicion too soon, so he quietly stood at the counter and drank his tea. Sherlock had made it perfectly the way he liked it. Of course, he had.

"There's biscuits in the cupboard, too if you'd like."

John blinked at him blandly. "Biscuits, yeah thanks," he said evenly. "Thanks." Unbelievable, John thought. Sherlock sat at his computer just like every other morning of their life together and acted as if the entire Earth hadn't opened up and swallowed him the night before. He rubbed his sore shoulder.

Sherlock noticed and stood up suddenly. He turned John around and began massaging his neck, "I can work that out for you," he offered.

John stepped forward involuntarily and said, "NO, no thanks. I'll manage." He couldn't bear the thought of Sherlock's hands touching him anymore. "I have to change clothes," he croaked out and headed up the stairs.

As he crossed the living room, he felt a sudden rush of elation. Sherlock wasn't stopping him! He just needed to get up the stairs, under the bed and back down with his gun. Keep your head down, he thought, and he'll never know. He made it halfway up the stairs when heard a noise directly behind him. It was a noise he'd know even in the darkest of night, the sound of a gun's slide being pulled back to allow a bullet into the firing chamber. "I hope you didn't have plans to retrieve this while you up there," Sherlock drawled pleasantly. John turned around and saw he had pointed the gun directly at his chest.

John stopped, terrified. He knew. He bastard always fucking, knew! The air disappeared suddenly, and he couldn't draw a real breath. "Sherlock," he managed to say after dragging in one jagged breath. "That's not a toy. Please, Sherlock, put it away."

"All right," he said with a slow, knowing smile and dropped his arm holding up the weapon. "I'll just lock it up safe, shall I? Go ahead, go change."

John sighed out a long, shuddery breath and continued up the stairs to his room.

Chapter 5

It was time to set a trap, John thought grimly as he pulled fresh clothes out of his closet and put them on. There was no more denying it to himself. His best friend and trusted partner had changed into a man he didn't know anymore. A keening sadness descended as the truth of it swept over him. Sally's dire warning to stay away from Sherlock Holmes rolled hauntingly around in his memory. Other indications surfaced as well. Only a few months ago, Lestrade had given him his personal number and urged him to call if Sherlock got too overbearing in his behavior. He'd seen the writing on the wall, it seemed, long before John even knew there was a problem. "Okay," John had told him believing he'd never really need to use it. John just hadn't wanted to see. The thrill of the chase meant too much to him, and he just assumed that he'd have to put up with Sherlock's odd ways if he wanted to work with the man.

Sherlock's growing obsession with him might have been triggered by his near brush with death at the hands of Moriarty. Somewhere in their mad battle, the two geniuses decided to use John as a pawn in their escalating bid for dominance. Moriarty's genius lie in the fact that he knew exactly how to hurt Sherlock. He just had to threaten John. This whole situation, the collar, Mycroft's interference came from the idea that Sherlock thought he might soon hold John's lifeless body in his arms. He didn't think he could protect him any other way than to keep him locked up in the flat.

John sighed as he realized Sherlock didn't know how to ask for what he needed or wanted in a normal way. If he felt John might drift away from him, he might just take the intimacy he desperately needed before that happened. The horrible thing was, if Sherlock had just expressed his romantic feelings months earlier, been open and asked him out, John probably would have said yes. In fact, he knew he would have. This whole situation could have gone in an entirely different direction.

He still didn't want to destroy Sherlock, even after being forced to submit to him last night. Sherlock did good things for people. He helped humanity in his insane way. That used to make it all worthwhile, but, John couldn't do this anymore. Collar be damned, Sherlock's unhealthy reliance on him had to stop. He'd crossed over a dark line. There was no place else to go in John's mind except for total submission on his part. How could he live with himself if he gave it all up to Sherlock?

Somehow he suspected the Devil would eventually get his due. He couldn't expect to thwart so much evil in the world without any repercussions. He'd have to pay a price for all the near misses, the danger, and excitement he'd had in his life over the past few years. They'd danced too close to the edge too many times for it to all just work out fine. Now, he had to get out of the Holmes' grip before he lost his will entirely. He knew what would have to happen next.

He'd spent years in the army and had learned the art of survival. He needed a way to catch Sherlock in a firm hold, put a sharp object to his throat and force him to take off the collar. But, he'd need a distraction first.

He sat on his bed and thought about what was at his disposal in the flat. Sherlock had cleaned all the sharp objects out of his room; he'd checked all his hiding spots, and left him with nothing sharper than a pen. Surprisingly, Sherlock's thin frame held a great deal of strength. Besting him in hand to hand combat would be tricky. He'd also have to overpower him away from Mycroft's cameras. John was sure all the main rooms of the flat were bugged and under video surveillance. Bathroom then? It may be his only hope. Mrs. Hudson's flat might also be another option, but luring him down there might prove problematic.

John pondered fitfully. All his standard military options were out of reach at the moment but what if he found another way? Sherlock made it a point never to cook meals or anything else that wasn't necessary to performing an experiment, so John knew the contents of the kitchen cupboards better than his flat mate. Sherlock, an exceptional chemist, and would have cleared out any dangerous chemicals from the flat, but John knew some basic chemistry himself, and there might be one innocuous ingredient Sherlock had overlooked. Corn flour.

Lying innocently at the back of the cupboard next to the baking soda and sugar, John kept a small bag of corn flour for breading meats.

He knew from high school chemistry that ordinary flour could be explosive under the right conditions. All the ingredients he'd need to make a flash bomb lie in the kitchen cupboards. He'd need a tightly sealed metal can, a candle and a small bellows or pump, and he'd have a handy distraction that just might startle Sherlock and give him the upper hand he'd need to take him down. In his med kit, he had a blood pressure cuff. If he cut off the small rubber bulb, it might give him just enough of a puff to do the job.

Sherlock had to have the detonator for the collar somewhere, but would he keep it on him? Perhaps he might, but John suspected he wouldn't want to trigger it accidently. He'd have it hidden somewhere close. But where? After he found out, he'd just need a sharp object to press against Sherlock's long, pale throat that would provide enough menace to get him to unlock the collar's clasp.

John wanted to put his idea into action as soon as possible, but he'd have to play this one closer than his previous plan with the gun. How did you outsmart a genius? The answer, you didn't. But, Sherlock had some gaping holes in his knowledge. Sherlock's habit of deleting information he no longer had a use for could be John's saving grace. Cooking had never held any great importance in Sherlock's mind so John suspected the flour would still be sitting safely in its place.

Once again, he prepared himself and put on a neutral face. He had an idea that might help him get the ingredients for his flash bomb. He'd go on the offense and seduce Sherlock himself. That just might catch him off guard and allow him to gain his confidence and earn him a bit of freedom. Hope once again sprung in him as he descended the stairs into the central part of the flat.

"Sherlock, would you like some breakfast?" John asked innocuously. He'd need access to the items in the cupboard, but wanted a reason to go poking around in them first.

"No, just some more tea if you don't mind," Sherlock said giving John a long look. "But you should make yourself something." John nodded. Sherlock had positioned himself on the other side of the table facing John so he could watch him work. John could tell by the tenseness in his shoulders; he'd be keeping a close eye on him.

He decided to make an omelet. John opened the refrigerator first getting eggs, cheese and other items. Then, he opened up some random cupboards in search of spices and saw that yes indeed, the flour sat behind the sugar.

John pushed aside the flour bag and grabbed some oregano for the eggs; he liked them spicy, and it felt over half full. Excellent! Now he just needed to find a small candle and a tin can. He flicked the coca tin with his fingernail, and he came back a "thunk" instead of a "plink". Damn, when had they stopped putting coca in tins and starting using cardboard? The can had to be air tight, and a cardboard container just wouldn't produce the flash he'd need. He almost despaired of finding one when he spied the expensive tea Sherlock liked. It came in a square metal box with the Tower of London printed on the side. Thank God for Sherlock's pretentious tastes! He pulled the tin out and set it on the counter within easy reach. He'd need it for when he'd got the rest of the items together.

The eggs finished cooking, and John rooted around in a drawer for a fork. He thought briefly about just using it for his plan, but their cutlery was far too dull. All the sharp kitchen knives had been removed, John had suspected they would be and hadn't commented, but Sherlock had left the pizza cutter lurking in the back. John had cut himself once before when cleaning the thing and knew how sharp it was. Once again, Sherlock's lack of common knowledge about kitchen gadgets might work in John's favor. He quickly pulled the pizza cutter forward in the drawer for easy access.

These small actions made him feel so much better about his chances for escape. He sat down across from Sherlock at the kitchen table and ate his eggs. John even managed to produce a chagrined smile that earned him a quick, surprised glance from Sherlock.

"I guess you know me better than I thought," John said managing a chuckle. "You've taken all the knives, my gun and even the poker from the fireplace." Here John turned his head to check on the last, and sure enough he didn't see the poker in its usual place. I haven't turned into your enemy overnight, Sherlock."

"I don't think you have," Sherlock said warily. "I'm taking precautions, John. Until you adjust to the new situation."

John took another bite of eggs and laughed again. He'd adjust all right; only Sherlock had no idea what those adjustments might entail.

"Why didn't you tell me how you felt before?" John couldn't help asking. "Why wait until I wanted to leave?"
Sherlock reached out across the table and plucked at John's sleeve tentatively and said, "The more I tried to hold on to you, the more I could see you pulling away."

"That's usually how it works, Sherlock. You might find the opposite to be true if you tried it out."

"It's too late for us, John. You're already plotting your escape."

John gripped Sherlock's hand in his. "I'm not going anywhere! I might have needed some room, but I had no intention of ever leaving you. You had me hooked from the first case." John got up from the table and pulled Sherlock toward him. Tentatively, the man stood and came willingly into John's embrace even allowing him to stroke his back.

"You know, I've loved you in my own way for years, Sherlock," John said into his chest. I'd have done anything for you, even given my life if necessary.

"John," Sherlock said sighing heavily. "I...

John cut him off with a kiss. He pushed his way into Sherlock's mouth with his, licking past lips and teeth and deepening the kiss as much as he could. Sherlock's surprise quickly turned ardent, and he returned the kiss willingly. John knew they were under full observation by Mycroft's cameras, and he intended to put on a brilliant show. If Sherlock suspected John's motives, he didn't let it interfere with his enjoyment of the kiss. He reached his long arms up and cupped John's head with one and John's ass with the other.

John allowed the kiss to heat up and moved his legs apart to allow Sherlock access to his already hardening cock. Sherlock moaned as he felt John's excitement and he pulled him closer. Kissing down his neck and into the opening of his shirt, Sherlock smiled at John's evident willingness to participate. John wasn't sure if he was fooling him at all, but he couldn't back out now. This plan had its obvious flaws but somehow, seducing Sherlock seemed like the right course of action. And the sensation of Sherlock's hands running along his chest, unbuttoning his shirt and pulling up his vest blocked his remaining reservations.

John let his hands do the same to Sherlock's shirt and trousers. He allowed himself to fall into the intensity of the moment, he told himself, so he could convince Sherlock (and Mycroft) that he'd given in and accepted his fate. Soon, Sherlock would let his guard down and John would make his move. John just hoped that by the time it happened, he still would still be able to do what needed to be done.

Chapter 6

John's head nestled on Sherlock's shoulder as they rested from their exertions. They'd had sex, and John had bottomed. Sherlock had been gentle, tenderly working John open and going slow. Once they'd established a steady rhythm, Sherlock came into John with a low cry and considerately reached around to finish him off. John kept the pace light and hummed and moaned in all the right places. He hoped it would convince Sherlock, at least, to drop his guard.

Sherlock kissed him contentedly afterward, but seemed to find sex a somnambulant as he dropped into a doze directly after. Who would have known all it took to get Sherlock Holmes to sleep was a good shag. So, seducing him had been the right move. John tested the depth of the detective's slumber by picking up Sherlock's wrist and placing it back on his chest. He murmured a bit but didn't wake up.

John carefully got out of bed and tiptoed into the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror, noted the black collar around his neck and thought fiercely about how much he needed it off, now. The thought of it hanging over him like the sword of Damocles, waiting to blow his head off if he made the wrong move, made him furious at Sherlock all over again. It had to go.

For the second time that day, he washed himself off as best as he could. If Sherlock woke now, he'd just see him washing up. He dressed back in jeans and a jumper.

He went into the kitchen and set to work. First, he'd need to pierce a small hole into the tea tin big enough to thread the small hose from the blood pressure bulb into. Turning his back to the center of the kitchen, and possibly cameras, he dropped the tea tin into the front of his jumper. It made a bit of a bulge, but he could hide it with his arm in case Mycroft's people were paying attention.

Mentally, we went over the steps needed to make the simple, booby trap. He just had to place a small stub of candle on the bottom of the tin and drop a little pile of flour near it. Pressurized flour particles were highly flammable. He'd need a puff of air to blow a small amount of flour into the burning flame of a candle and he'd have a bright, burst of flame. Of course, he'd have to light the candle somehow without Sherlock noticing and leave the little bomb in a place where he might lean over without realizing and- Well, that was a hell of a lot of if's, John thought.

He'd last left the medical kit upstairs, so he made his way back to his room. He picked up the pen from his desk and slid it into his front pocket. The med kit nestled in the wardrobe under some boots, so he hooked a finger through it and slid in fully dressed under the covers. He hoped, if anyone were watching, it would look like he just wanted a nap. He rolled over onto his side and under the blanket he used the little pair of trauma scissors he found in the kit, another gap in Sherlock's mind palace, to punch a hole in the tea tin. It was hard work as the scissors didn't have a sharp tip and John had to rely on sheer strength to do the job. He drove the pen in the hole he'd made to round it out and make it big enough for the small hose to fit. He then cut the bulb from the blood pressure cuff and threaded it into the tin. He had a little bellows. Halfway there!

He lay in bed a bit longer to keep up the ruse of resting. When he thought he'd been there long enough, he tucked the tea packets and tin back into his jumper and went back downstairs. When he got to the kitchen, Sherlock was again sitting in front of the computer but back in his usual spot facing away from the counter. John took it as a sign of trust. Without hesitation, he went to the cupboard and pretended to pull down the tea. He set the electric kettle boiling and with his back to Sherlock, pulled the modified tin and tea packets from under his jumper and put them on the counter. Sherlock said nothing, so John assumed his attention was on his laptop, and he hadn't seen.

Candles wouldn't be a problem as they sometimes lost power and kept a supply in one of the kitchen drawers. Matches too.

Sherlock hummed a bit to himself as he surfed the web until they both were startled by a buzzing from Sherlock's phone. Lestrade's name popped up on the window, and Sherlock swiftly snatched it up to answer.

He paused a moment listening to a voice on the other end and snapped to attention, "You what?" he bellowed to John's surprise. "You idiots! He yelled again. You're going to let him go?"

Sherlock paused again, and John knew exactly who "him" was. Moriarty. "Of course he's got an alibi, the pays people by the hundreds to provide him with credible alibis. I'm coming to the Yard! Hold him until I get there. I need to speak to him… Yes! I'll be there in twenty minutes," he ended the call and turned to John who looked at him with inquiry. The hopeful little bomb sat on the counter behind him with its tiny little hole turned away from Sherlock. John had tucked the small bellows inside the tin until he could finalize his trap.

"So we're going to the Yard?" he asked letting a tiny trill of hope shoot through him.

"You're not ready to out yet. I'm afraid I'll have to restrain you while I'm away, John," Sherlock said moving quickly around the kitchen and gathering up his gloves, coat, and phone. "Come into our bedroom," he said grabbing John by the upper arm and ushering him into the tousled bed. The term "our bedroom" hadn't escaped John's notice.

"Lie face down, John," he said motioning for him to comply.

"Sherlock, I'm not…"

"Now, John," Sherlock said sharply. "I've got to get to Scotland Yard before they release him!" Sherlock produced a set of padded leather cuffs from his closet. Where did he keep getting all this stuff from? John wondered. How long had he been preparing for this?

"I'll be back soon," he said softening his voice as he trussed John up to the bed securing his wrists behind his back, a tad uncomfortably, and his ankles spread wide to the foot of the bed. He finally hooked a collapsible "D" ring to the collar and secured a bit of rope through it and tying it to the head of the bed. The whole effect didn't allow for much movement, or he'd choke. He tested the cuffs and ankle restraints and found them tightly secured. Sherlock had tied them in a way he wouldn't be getting free from anytime soon. As long as he stayed on his belly, he'd be comfortable enough.

John sighed. He'd been so close to completing his trap. He'd just have to wait this out and try again when Sherlock returned. "Hurry back," he said weakly. "Otherwise I'll piss the bed."

Sherlock ran a distracted hand through John's hair and left the room. "Soon, John," he said and left him alone with his thoughts.

Chapter 7

An hour later John woke up from a doze; he'd been asleep about an hour. He'd been awakened by a strange noise in the flat. He tugged on his bonds and found himself still tied up. Fuck me, he thought to himself and hoped Sherlock had returned. The short hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. An unfamiliar creak sounded in the hall. Someone lurked just outside the bedroom door, and John tried craning his neck around to see. The rope on his collar prevented him from getting too far around, and he swore softly.

"Who's there?" he shouted. "Sherlock?"

"No honey, not Sherlock," came a soft, male voice that send a sharp spike of fear into his brain. "But I do like thissssss…" the voice purred softly and a person he hoped never to see again entered the bedroom.

Shit, John thought. How did Moriarty get in? Mere locks wouldn't hold a man like him. Where was Sherlock? "Sherlock," John called desperately.

"Shhhh. He's not here. It's just us ducks," he continued stalking into the room like a cat. John felt the bed dip from the weight of someone sitting next to him. He felt a warm hand slide on his back and across his shoulders. "Oooo, all trussed up and ready, I see."

John sighed in utter frustration at his situation; he'd had had it with these two. "What do you want?" he said irritably, knowing it might anger the man and not caring anymore. "Sherlock's not at home presently," he gritted out. "As you probably know. I'm indisposed….and you shouldn't be here," he said trying for bravado. He didn't want the master criminal to know just how much he despised being so helpless in front of him.

"Oh, Johnny Boy," he said soothingly. "I've been released from that ghastly jail cell and provided a little delay in Sherlock's return trip in order for us to get to know each other a bit better. I have to admit, this is lovely," he said stroking lower on John's back and guiding his hand over his clothed ass. He gave it a little pat.

"I can't say I'm surprised," he lilted in his Irish drawl. "I always knew Sherly preferred the less ordinary, preferred you, Johnny. Hmmm, I guess he isn't on the side of the angels. Bit of a devil too, I see," he said running a finger under John's collar. "Well, this is more than it seems. Oh, I see…. How delightful. He's got you at a bit of a disadvantage." He giggled. "I've used something like this before on a few of my own pets. It's very effective. Well, except the one time it didn't provide enough motivation-Got blood all over one of my best Westwoods. Did big brother give it to him?"

John huffed in response.

"Yes, I suppose he did," Moriarty continued while running his hands along the back of John's thighs. "I wondered if you too were, intimate, and if not what was taking you sooooo long."

"Get out while you can, Moriarty," John spat out. "He'll be here, and if sees you touching me, he'll kill you."

"Oh, I don't doubt he'll try," he said. "I'd like to untie you, darling. Be a dear and don't try anything you'll regret. I'm armed and won't hesitate to put a bullet in your pretty little head." He unbuckled the cuffs and untied the ropes from the bed. When freed, John turned around and sat up facing the only man he feared more than the Holmes brothers.

"Get up. Let's have some tea and wait for Sherlock to come home, Johnny," he said keeping the gun leveled squarely at him.

John got up, and they made their way into the kitchen. "Go on, I'd like some of that please," he indicated the tin on the counter.

John reheated the water from earlier. Fortunately, he'd placed the tea packets next the tin and could easily access them. For a moment, John wondered if Moriarty knew about his trap. John held no doubts he'd be able to sense something off as quickly as Sherlock could. But, he just stood and watched John.

Tea prepared, John placed everything on an old tray and brought it to the table.

"No, in here," Moriarty said nodding toward the living room. "Have a seat and enjoy your tea, John." He eyed John steadily until he picked up his teacup. He moved closer to John and brought up the gun to rest directly against his temple. John felt the cup shake in his hand uneasily.

"Don't worry. He'll be here in…" and they both heard the front door open and footsteps ascending the stairs, "about ten seconds."

The door to the flat banged open and Sherlock entered. He stopped at the threshold and took in the sight of John sitting in his chair with a cup of tea in his hand and Moriarty standing next to him with a gun to his head.

"Welcome home, Sherlock," Moriarty said with a grin.

Chapter 8

"You!" Sherlock said narrowing his eyes at their unwelcome visitor then turned his attention to John. "All right?" he asked with real concern.

"Yeah, just got a gun to my head," John returned trying to keep his voice calm. The second he heard Sherlock's footfalls on the stairs, his head had begun to buzz. The overwhelming stress of the last few moments had sent waves of adrenaline through his system. He assessed his chances of being able to twist the gun out of Moriarty's grasp before he could pull the trigger and decided against it when he shifted his eyes to the left and saw the man's white knuckled grip. He'd wait just a bit then.

Sherlock seemed to reach a decision, shifted his face into a neutral mask, and entered the sitting room. He walked to his violin case, stroked along the edge and opened the case nonchalantly as if he'd intended to do that simple activity all along. "Tea, I see?" he said taking out the instrument and plucking at the strings.

"I can make you some, if you'd like," John offered hoping to get out from in front of a loaded gun.

"Yes, I'd love some," Sherlock said as if they were all gathered there to simply pass the time.

Moriarty, for a wonder, nodded in agreement. "Go ahead, Johnny boy. Sherlock and I have business to discuss. Don't do anything rash, just tea."

John stood, picked up the tea tray and walked toward the kitchen. On his way, he passed by Sherlock and the man locked eyes with him. There was an expression he couldn't read there almost resignation mixed with fierce protectiveness.

John had no idea what outcome to expect from this showdown. He shook his head and went back to the kettle. He could measure his life in cups of hot, brown liquid. His trap sat mocking him. What good would it do him to set it off now? He had not one, but two smarmy bastards who wanted to control him. This was his life in yin-yang stereo, one good, one evil, both making his life miserable.

"I love what you've done with John," Moriarty began. "He's so compliant. And that collar suits him."

"Don't talk about John. The collar's your fault," Sherlock said coming up close, almost brushing noses with his enemy. He held his violin up at an angle almost as if he intended to brain the man.

"Oh!" he cooed. "My fault. Okay, your lover's spat is all my fault. You know, I could take him off your hands, Sherlock. I do see some potential there…"

Sherlock growled, "Leave him out of this…"

John stopped listening to the two idiots in the sitting room. The buzzing in his head had grown louder as he fixed the new cups of tea and placed them on the tray. He suddenly saw a chance to set his trap. The moment of truth had come. Once he did this, however, his comfortable life with Sherlock would never be the same. Could he give it all up? He decided he could.

Tea. The ubiquitous liquid of his life offered the answer. He would simply have to put the tin in the middle of the tea things on the tray, and cover the little bulb-bellows with a paper napkin. He'd push down on the napkin, and a bright-hot flash of fire might be enough to surprise Moriarty so John could knock the gun from his hand. Both of these men had counted him out of the equation. Good old John, forever making tea, thinking only non-threatening submissive thoughts. Well, his time had come to take his life back.

Swiftly he pulled open the drawers with the candles and matches. He found a short stubby candle and held the bottom to the hot base of the electric kettle for a moment. The wax softened. He pulled the lid off the tea tin and squished the melted butt of the candle into the bottom. While the two masterminds continued their titanic struggle in the living room, he grabbed the bag of flour from the cupboard, reached in and grabbed a large handful.

He risked a quick look in the direction of two biggest arseholes he had the misfortune to know and found them staring daggers at each other. John closed his eyes and inhaled evenly. Clearly, they deserved each other, he realized. How had he not seen it before? They were two halves of a whole being. Sherlock needed to understand the great wrong he'd done to John by allowing Mycroft to put the collar on him and control him. He'd never known anyone as wonderful and maddening as Sherlock Holmes. However now, the madness had consumed him. John had no idea how to resurrect their broken friendship and bring it back to the functional realm they'd once shared. He didn't think they could fix it. Sherlock had to understand just how wrong he'd been to use the collar to control him. John considered how that understanding might come about and then, he had an idea.

He piled the flour as best he could next to the candle in an unsteady pyramid careful not to cover the wick or get it too near the candle. It wouldn't do to set the effect off too soon. He hoped it would produce a big enough flash to startle Moriarty. He'd last seen this trick performed by Mr. Rodwick, his chemistry teacher in secondary school. The whole class had been impressed at how combustible flour could be and the lesson had stayed with him. Bless his ordinary mind for liking and remembering the big, loud bang.

He threaded the little hose into the hole he'd painstakingly drilled. He set the tin in the middle of the tray and lit the candle. The tin didn't look too out of place there. He hoped the smell of the sulfur match wouldn't waft over to the two men in the sitting room and cause them to shift their attention to what he was doing. He exhaled quickly and popped the lid on tight; his trap was set. Showtime.

He carefully balanced the tray in front of him and walked into the sitting room. He focused every bit of his attention on keeping it level in his hands. He didn't want to upset the little pile of flour into the open flame of the candle. If either one of the two "geniuses" had looked at his sweating brow, they'd have suspected him instantly. But in their pride, they forgot he existed. Their mistake.

When he arrived with the tea, they both looked at him perplexed, uncomprehending and curious as to why he had interrupted.

"One lump or two?" John asked sweetly and thrust the tray he'd been holding in one hand in front of Moriarty's face. In the brief second before John's other fist smashed down on the little-hidden bulb, the criminal's eyes widened, and then the flash of fire went off. It blossomed bright and hot and far better than John could have hoped it would.

James Moriarty yelped and flung his hands up to shield his face. John struck without hesitation. He dropped the tray into Moriarty's chest, and hot tea spattered everywhere. John had eyes only for the gun. Using a move he'd often used before to disarm a gunman, he knocked the weapon up and heard a sharp retort as it fired over Sherlock's head. Then, he simply snatched out of his hand. The gun was his.

"Don't move, either of you," John shouted amazed it had all worked out so well.

"Good work, John," Sherlock said grinning. "Now give me the gun and we can get this sorted."

Without missing a beat, he placed the barrel against Moriarty's temple. Unlike the criminal, he decided he didn't want to play anymore. "You've seen these collars before, how do I get this fucking thing off?" John demanded.

Moriarty's eyes darted to Sherlock and John quickly stepped back to he could cover both men at once.

John checked the gun and made sure another bullet had been chambered. "It's loaded. I know how to handle a gun, and I'll shoot you both if you don't take this collar off of me now."

Sherlock stared at him. "Mycroft will send the signal, John. Give me the gun."

John felt his precious opportunity slipping away. "Jim," he said appealing directly to Sherlock's nemesis. "Unlock this collar and I'll give it to you," John said shifting his eyes toward Sherlock.

"Why would I want - Oh!" he said. "Interesting. You're much cleverer than I gave you credit for, Johnny Boy. The key is in his violin case."

"No," Sherlock yelled, fear and betrayal evident in his voice. "Stop, John." He held up both hands beseechingly. "I did it to protect you."

"And now I'm going to show you how it feels," John countered moving to the violin case and feeling around in the lining. In the corner under Sherlock's cleaning cloth, he felt a little lump. Moriarty observational skills were as impressive as Sherlock's. He tore open the silk lining and found an electronic key with a series of colored buttons. He had no idea which one blew the charges and which one released the clasp.

"Careful John," Moriarty said in a low voice. One wrong push and you'll be sporting a vile new necktie. Bring it here and I'll show you which one releases the collar."

"How do I know you won't blow them yourself?" John asked panic blooming hotly now.

"John, you've only got a few more seconds," he said dropping the ridiculous lilt and calmly holding out his hand. "I'll bet big brother is watching right now and trying to decide your fate. Besides, I know exactly what to do with your little collar, don't I Sherlock?"

That decided it; he'd have to trust him. John tossed him the key and steeled himself for a blast. He heard a click and the collar's clasp unlatched. He pulled it free and threw it away toward the kitchen. It felt wonderful to be free of it, and John's knees almost buckled in relief.

He walked over to Sherlock and used the butt of the gun to pistol whip him unconscious. Sherlock slumped to the floor, and John took a moment to check his pulse. No permanent damage, he noticed. Good, he hadn't wanted to kill him.

He then forced Moriarty into the bedroom and found Sherlock's cuffs.

"I'll let you in on a little secret, Johnny Boy," Moriarty said as John secured him much the way Sherlock had him trussed up earlier. "I've got big brother's cameras on a loop. He's still thinks you're wriggling around in Sherlock's bed. Just thought you'd like to know."

John wasn't sure he could trust this information, but something inside him thought Moriarty would have done exactly that.

"I'm going to tie up Sherlock," he said. "Then, I'm going to put the collar around his neck. I'll come back in a minute and untie you enough so you can work your way loose but still give me time to get away. Then, you can have him at your beck and call. Torture him all you like. He's yours." He set the key on the table beside the bed. John felt no pity for Sherlock. Mycroft would probably rescue him before long.

John dug into Moriarty's jacket and pulled out his wallet. It held about 600 pounds in hundreds and twenties which John grabbed and stuffed into his front pocket. The bloody rich git, John thought fleetingly. He'd need cash for the next phase of his plan, and it wasn't like the man would miss it. He had some money stashed away under the floorboards in his room as well. He finished tying Moriarty up and stuffed one of Sherlock's socks into his mouth. "You two will be very happy together," John said and ran up to his room to pack a getaway bag.

He quickly stuffed in a few changes of clothes. Other than his Sig, he wouldn't miss much from 221 B Baker Street. Since he'd never find where Sherlock hid his gun, he decided to keep the one he'd taken from Moriarty. It'd do in a pinch.

On his way back downstairs, he stopped to tie up Sherlock as promised. He located the collar and stifled a shudder at having to touch it again. He slipped around the long, pale neck and until he heard it click. Too bad he wasn't awake to hear that sound.

He'd found Lestrade's handcuffs and made short work of securing his former best friend, lover and worst nightmare to his favorite chair. Then, he went in and loosened Moriarty's bonds just enough to give him time to get away. He didn't stay to chat. It was time to leave.

"Goodbye you idiot," John said fondly as he stepped past Sherlock, who moaned a little as he tried to regain consciousness. "I'll never forget you. But, I hope you do forget me. And, I hope Moriarty teaches you a little humility. Good luck, Sherlock," he said and patted his groggy head.

John left Baker Street and didn't look back once as he made his way down the seventeen steps and onto the street. He hailed a cab and for once seemed to have Sherlock's magic gift to make them stop at will. He got in and asked to go to downtown London. From there, he'd hide from Mycroft's incessant CCTV cameras: he knew all the right hiding spots from working on cases with Sherlock. He had an unsavory, old Army friend who could get him some new traveling papers. Perhaps he could hop on a cargo ship heading out to Europe and from there migrate to somewhere far away from evil geniuses. America had always sounded sweet, perhaps Oregon. He'd heard it had mountains with snow all year round and green, green forests that hadn't been touched by man since the dawn of time. Yep, that sounded excellent.