Not my characters. In response to a "hair petting", one from Blackwood and one from Watson, prompt at .com.

Assess injuries: deep cut on shoulder, still bleeding. Black eye. Mild concussion, mental faculties dulled but not removed. Bruises on stomach and legs, split lip (bleeding also, but very little), exhaustion compounded by sleep deprivation before unsuccessful infiltration of New World Order. Have been injected with some sort of drug, slowing thought further and exacerbating feelings of anxiety and incapacitation.

Emotional state as result: vulnerable, with more subtle anger at being made so.

Position: bound by legs, arms (behind back), and waist to chair, ironically a fairly comfortable and well-upholstered specimen. Gagged thoroughly with both a handkerchief inside the mouth and cloth tied around the outside. Room more akin to the foyer of wealthy home rather than prison cell.

Blackwood enters, inquiries as to my well-being so that he may both smugly reference the beating he no doubt commanded his lackeys to give, and to cackle at the fact that I cannot actually answer him. Says I am lucky he wants me to see his triumph in the next few days, or else things would have not gone so pleasantly.

Dizzy. Aching. I...

"Is that a tear I see, Holmes?"

It's the drug, the weariness, the pain, nothing more. Nothing more. Leave me alone.

Fingers weave through hair. My hair. No right. Stop.

"There's no need to be ashamed, detective. Any man would feel at a loss if he had failed so spectacularly."

Find my eyes shutting, muscles relaxing - no. Stop. This is an ungranted privilege. I can be opposed, even wounded, but oh not patronized, tousled like a sick child.

When a brutal man touches softly, it is only another kind of hurt.

I bite the inside of my cheek (I cannot reach my lip) to avoid being in any way soothed.

Of course I am glad when Watson storms the place, but I wish Lestrade and his men had not seen me being petted like a cat.

A ride to the hospital offered once Blackwood and cronies in custody. Dear Watson declined, said he could take care of me. Satisfied. Would have explained so properly, but speech sluggish and forced.

"Don't worry about talking, old fellow, you can tell the story when it's worn off."

Assistance to the lavatory and bath. Blood and wounds cleaned. Cold compress to the eye to reduce future swelling. Assistance changing into night clothes. Drink of water. Would I like food?

"" Frustration. He can see it.

Lie in bed with warm candlelight, Watson tidying up for the night and extinguishing all lamps. Joins me.

I have had many near misses in my varied career, but Blackwood's mockery of tenderness has disquieted me in a unique fashion. Or maybe it is the drug. But I am trembling a little, despite being adequately blanketed.

Watson curling round. Long, slender fingers through hair, twining and rubbing and gently scratching. Either the symmetry of events has not occurred to him or he is remembering that a vaccine must be analogous to the virus it cures.

I sigh. He hums approvingly.

A hand taking mine, a hand rustling and reassuring. I am falling asleep in the only arms allowed to hold and calm.