Disclaimer: Hang, on wait – no. False alarm; no owning here.
AN: *mouth falls open* Fifty five reviews for three chapters! I love you all; your reviews cheer me up endlessly and I was truly amazed at the response to BANG, I hope you all enjoy this as much. :) I was going to do a dedication, but the list of people who deserved it became so long that I'll just have to say it is dedicated to you all.
John is groggy when he wakes, and for a moment thinks he is still in the hospital, before it strikes him that hospitals are generally not this cold, and they usually have beds. The room he's in is dark, but that is as likely to be the lack of windows as it is to mean that it's night, and the floor is hard; he can see no looming shapes which might be furniture, and hear no else in the room. He has no idea how long he has been here.
Getting gingerly to his feet – swearing loudly when he accidentally uses his broken wrist to help push himself up and slumping back down, clutching it and breathing hard through gritted teeth, fighting back nausea, he suddenly remembers.
A figure at the end of the hospital bed; a needle in the dark.
He doesn't need anything more than this to know what happened, and why is a question he would feel laughably foolish for even considering; where is his next priority. Being much more careful to use his right hand, his good one, to push himself to his feet and gently cradling the left one, which still throbs sickeningly, against his chest, he stands, but he has barely taken two steps before the sheer disorientation of being in almost complete darkness makes him stumble – he instinctively reaches out and feels a rough wall under his fingertips. Keeping his hand trailing along it to maintain balance, he shuffles forwards.
He doesn't like walking through a room of unknown size and content with a broken wrist, a drug-slowed mind and a complete lack of any illumination, but there is no other way to explore his surroundings than touch; the only smell to reach his nostrils is dust and somewhat stale air, the only sound is a steady dripping as if from a tap not turned tightly enough. The only thing he sees is darkness.
He would think nothing of wandering his bedroom with the light turned off (though he might be more dubious to do so in the living area of the flat, in case he inadvertently stumbles across some experiment of Sherlock's), but here the darkness is like a living thing, breathing heavily down his neck and surrounding him, pressing in from all sides. He's not sure if the paranoia he feels is justified or not; is it simply a reaction to the darkness, some child like fear of the unknown, or is it because he knows perfectly well that Moriarty probably has ten men ready to shoot him should he make the slightest wrong move?
Probably a combination.
Living in London, he has grown accustomed to a constant low level of light; complete darkness is near impossible in a city, but it was different in Afghanistan. Gradually the old instincts come back to him though, and he finds his steps becoming more confident, keeping his hand on the wall but reaching it out in front of him so he'll have some idea of when he reaches a corner before he walks straight into another wall.
He comes to the other side of the room quickly and turns on the spot, running his fingers lightly over what feels like uneven, peeling wallpaper, searching for a door without knowing why; even if he finds one he knows it will be locked so securely that it would be impossible to escape, but it gives him the illusion of a goal, so he continues.
He reaches something like a seam in the wall and runs his hand down and across until he reaches the point where the handle should be. He tries it, and is unsurprised to find it locked; he half expects to hear Moriarty laughing in his ear at his idiocy for even trying.
The echoing silence is almost worse.
Sherlock grips the paper so hard his fingers go white in an effort to stop them shaking, quickly shutting out the panic that threatens to surface. It is not useful to him; a hindrance and weakness, and he packages it into the back of his mind along with the less obvious, squirming feeling of guilt. He allows the anger to stay though; he can use it, and forces himself to focus on the note with as much cool detachment as he can muster.
Immediately his mind is racing with theories, picked up and disregarded so quickly most do not even develop enough to explain aloud. He can only assume John has been abducted, and if this is the case then the abductor must have either been a member of hospital staff or suitably disguised to pass as one in order to get into and out of John's room without arousing suspicion.
There is also the problem of how they managed to get John to leave; threatening him seems the most obvious answer, but it would surely be difficult to maintain it long enough to get him away from prying eyes, without being noticed? Surely then he was incapacitated. Either there must have been a struggle, which would have drawn attention, or a sedative was used.
The anger increases slightly. Sherlock uses it to fuel his thoughts, channelling it into his theorising.
A sedative, then; this also points to involvement of hospital staff and would explain how Moriarty might receive medical attention without being discovered. It fits. He will have to ask Lestrade about the pharmacy break-ins, because a lack of them will support his theory.
He needs to see John's room.
He's not allowed to move.
He has better things to do with his time than follow pointless instructions.
It's painful just to sit up, but he ignores the protestations of his body as best he can and moves stiffly until he is sat sideways on the bed with his feet on the floor. He stops, taking deep breaths to recover from the activity and prepare himself for standing; his ribs and abdomen scream at him to just lay back down but he pays them no attention, pulling the cumbersome wires and tubes away from himself and barely seeming to notice the blood that runs down his hand when he inexpertly removes the IV.
Irritated by the inconvenience, he looks around for something to clamp over it in an effort to stop the flow. He spots a box of tissues on the side table and grabs a handful, pressing them firmly on the back of his hand.
Walking is a slow process; he has to focus just to put one foot in front of the other without collapsing but he concentrates on the door and forces himself forwards.
John loses track of the time he spends kicking the door and screaming obscenities at it, screaming for Moriarty, screaming for Sherlock, screaming for anything beyond this dark, empty room, his inescapable prison; he shouts until his throat is sore and his voice is so hoarse he can barely speak, he kicks until his whole leg throbs and he has to sink to the ground, so exhausted he can't even stand without swaying. Anger courses through him, stronger than he thought it possible to feel, pounding in his head and making him want to continue shouting and lashing out until he is answered, until Moriarty himself shows up and John can vent his fury on the cause.
Utterly spent, he leans against the wall and buries his head in his hands, gripping his hair to stop himself hitting something...
He isn't aware of falling asleep, but he is woken by Moriarty's voice.
'Boo,' he whispers in John's ear; immediately he is sitting bolt upright, instinctively scrambling away from the sound. Moriarty is crouched beside him, grinning, but his eyes are as cold as ever. The door is closed; the light is coming from a single bulb hanging in the centre of the room.
'Do you like the accommodation?' Moriarty asks cheerily, 'It's a little sparse for my liking, but I'm sure you'll make do.'
'You son of a –'
'Ah ah ah, Doctor Watson,' Moriarty warns as John lunges for him, 'my friends may not take kindly to that.' Glancing up, John sees two suited men, both much larger than either he or the consulting criminal, flanking their boss like bodyguards with handguns trained on John's chest, aimed directly at his heart. John freezes. 'Good,' says Moriarty, 'you know you have to do as I say, now John, or I won't be happy. I won't be happy at all.'
'How did you get out?' John spits at him, noticing with satisfaction that a nasty cut runs through Moriarty's left eyebrow and when he stands, taking several calm steps back from John, who daren't move from the floor, he favours his left leg. He at least did not escape the explosion unharmed, though thinking of Sherlock, pale, unconscious and covered in blood, this is not much comfort.
'Now, now, John, I don't want to spill the beans too early on, do I? We've got a lot of time together yet, I'd rather keep some things a mystery right now, hmm?'
'Sherlock will figure this out, he'll find you.'
'No doubt he will, when I want him to,' Moriarty says lightly, sounding rather bored by the conversation now. 'But not until then.' He pauses and cocks his head to one side, studying John like a curious child. 'I could kill you now, of course. One little nod...' he flicks his head towards the gunman on his left, and John sees the man's hand tighten on the weapon, 'and it's all over...imagine how entertaining it would be to see how Sherlock would react to that!' He stops again, and John can't help but feel it's for effect as much as anything; he's enjoying his dramatic threats, watching John squirm under his gaze, unable to move.
John's eyes dart between the guns pointed at him and Moriarty's face; fear has replaced anger now. He knows Moriarty wouldn't hesitate to kill him, and he knows there isn't the slightest chance of escape. He swallows, trying to force his heart to beat slower; it's trembling erratically in his chest and it's all he can do to stop himself shaking. It's no good having military training if he knows he would have no chance to use it.
'But then you see, I wouldn't get to see him react to this, and it's going to be so much fun. He won't like having a puzzle he can't solve, he definitely won't. You'll be here...and there's not a thing he can do about it.'
The hospital is quiet, which relieves Sherlock because he doesn't need overly anxious nurses or irate doctors ordering him back to his bed. He's managing to block out most of the pain by focusing on the task at hand; he's grown accustomed to ignoring the unnecessary, and he doesn't need the distraction of his own physical weakness getting in his way.
Nonetheless, the journey is slow and he has to stop more than once to catch his breath and reinforce his blockade against the pain, which is growing stronger the longer he is away from the morphine drip.
By the time he reaches John's room he has only seen two nurses, but both were too busy attempting to calm a hysterical woman down to notice him pass. He pushes open the door.
The place is spotless. Moriarty's accomplice has left not a single mark to betray his presence, and every sign of John has been erased as well; for a moment he thinks he has the wrong room, but he knows that Moriarty has done this deliberately. He has covered his tracks completely, knowing how it would infuriate Sherlock not to be able to see anything.
But everyone makes mistakes, Sherlock reminds himself. Even Moriarty will eventually.
'Sir?' The voice of a young woman calls, but Sherlock ignores it, pulling open the draw of John's bedside table and finding it empty. 'Sir, you need to come with me.'
'I'm busy,' he says without looking at her, instead scanning every inch of the room in search of something, anything, to tell him that either John or his abductor were ever in it, but he finds none; the room is completely clean.
'Sir, please sit down.' She sounds worried.
'I'm fine,' he tells her, 'I'm busy.' He throws back the sheets of the bed, hoping for another note from Moriarty but there is nothing – he shouts out in frustration, grabbing at his own hair as he paces, ignoring the steadily increasing pain in his abdomen.
'Mr Holmes, you need to sit down right now.' The voice is deeper and more authoritative than the nurse's, but no more effective. The doctor comes forwards and places a hand on Sherlock's arm; the detective shrugs it away. 'Sir, sit down; you've split your stitches, you need to stop moving around, now.'
Surprised, Sherlock looks down, and notices for the first time the dark red stain spreading steadily across his hospital gown. He automatically presses a hand to the wound in a vain attempt to stem the flow; he feels suddenly dizzy and stumbles, his vision blurry.