Title: For Thou Art With Me
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: It is a normal day. Boring, routine. Right up until John Watson walks out the door and off the face of the earth.
AN: I love this show more than rainbows. And Martin Freeman…oh, Martin Freeman. I wish I could keep him in my living room to say snarky things to visitors.
It's a Thursday. Sherlock knows this not because he cares, but rather because John is knocking things over more than usual. His flat mate is ricocheting around the kitchen, swearing beneath his breath. "If you make any more of a fuss," Sherlock says testily from where he is sitting and paging through a book, "I shall have to assume that someone is attempting to murder you."
A cupboard slams. John swears. Mutters something about consulting detectives and attitude problems. "Sorry," John answers then, voice slightly tenser than usual. "It's just –"
"Yes, John, it's Thursday, and you could never get the hang of Thursdays, as you say almost every Thursday," Sherlock tosses the book over his shoulder – boring – and picks up another, "And is stupid, even by your standards. I know you have a plethora of psychological idiosyncrasies, but do try to at least be logical about them."
"Its not illogical. Bad things happen on Thursdays," John answers, "Clara left Harry on a Thursday. I was shot on a Thursday. I got kidnapped by circus performers on a Thursday. Moriarty cropped up on a Thursday."
"We were introduced on a Thursday," Sherlock muses aloud. "Which makes your point in –"
John snorts and cuts Sherlock off, "Yes, because clearly your acquaintance has made my life an effortless wave of joy."
"You are insinuating that I am a part of your irrational insistence that a day is out to get you," Sherlock says, "But I refuse to have any part of it."
John laughs quietly, and the noise in the kitchen lessens slightly. It is just enough for Sherlock to discard his current book – excruciatingly boring – and take up a new one. The smell of burning toast rises from the kitchen, followed by an almost inaudible cuss. Sherlock smiles slightly behind the book. Nearly an hour passes. And then…
"I'm off to the store," John calls, seeming to give up his crusade in the kitchen. "Do you need anything?"
Sherlock is silent, and doesn't give him an answer. However, John has apparently grown used to this, and simply asked as something of a formality. Sherlock listens as John exits down the stairs and smiles slightly when his flatmate trips over the last step. It is a normal day. Boring, routine.
Right up until John Watson walks out the door and off the face of the earth.
Not even a quarter of an hour passes before Sherlock is texting John, for he found himself designing an experiment that quite desperately needed eggs in order to work. Minutes pass, and there is no answer. So Sherlock texts him again, again, and then once more. It isn't until fifteen minutes pass that Sherlock finds himself becoming concerned. John would call him worried, but that is ludicrous. But Sherlock's mind keeps being irresistibly pulled back to the night of Moriarty's twisted game. What if John has gotten himself into trouble once more? It did seem to happen with startling regularity for someone so apparently normal as John.
Sherlock sends a text to Mycroft. Perhaps his brother dearest has taken it upon himself to kidnap John once more.
Not a second later, and he has his answer. Mycroft is not involved.
Sherlock sends one last text to John. When there is no answer – and because John always answers – he runs out the door and towards the market. He is roughly half of the way there when he stops, and then skids backwards a few steps.
John's phone lays discarded by an alleyway.
Sherlock picks it up, and scans around him. There is nothing out of place, only a simple London street. He turns his attentions to John's phone. The screen lights with a window – You have 10 new messages. Sherlock reads through them – all are from him.
Need eggs. Urgently. Expect reply.
What part of urgent is not getting through your brain?
You are ignoring me to make a point.
It won't work.
You are juvenile, I am done with you. Eggs!
Beginning to suspect foul play. Answer Y/N
Mycroft involved? Answer Y/N
Texted Mycroft, assures me it isn't him. Demand an answer.
John, answer now.
If still no answer in ten minutes, assuming you're in danger.
En route to grocery.
Sherlock grips the phone tightly enough to turn his knuckles white. Then he pulls out his own mobile phone, and first texts Mycroft and then Lestrade. Then, he pockets both phones and walks to the deli across the street. If anyone saw something, it would be the patrons of that deli.
Four days pass.
The only new evidence to emerge is a video clip from a traffic camera: John walks. Three men burst from the alley as a vehicle – black, with no plates or discernable features –and they grab a hold of John. They vanish into the car as quickly as they appear. It is perfectly choreographed, masterful. Sherlock would've been impressed had it not been for the fact that they took John away.
He has watched the clip two hundred and twenty-seven times. He knows that there is no more data to be gleaned from it, but still. He cannot look away. It is all he has. The people in the deli had either not seen anything or had been compensated well enough to have "not seen anything". Sherlock felt his skin crawling.
Lestrade kept insisting a ransom would be demanded. Mycroft kept sighing and saying things about patience. Sherlock suspects that Anderson and Donovan had been warned to simply to stay out of his way.
His network of the destitute and homeless comes up with nothing. No matter where he looks, that is all that Sherlock can find. Nothing, nothing, everywhere he turns he is confronted with nothing.
Sherlock watches the video for the two hundred and twenty-eighth time.
He can't sit still anymore.
At five o'clock Monday afternoon, Sherlock returns to the alley for the third time. When he arrives, he stands and stares into it. At some point, the sun sets and the street lights flicker fuzzily on. Later, in the east, the sky lightens slightly and the lights sink into exhausted darkness.
Lestrade is behind him. Sherlock can see him, just within his peripheral vision. "Inspector," Sherlock mutters. "I trust you have more news of nothing for me?"
"Have you been here all night?" Lestrade asks. He shifts his weight, pulling his coat tightly closed against the chill.
Sherlock shifts from foot to foot. "Is it morning?"
"Six o'clock, yeah."
"Then yes, I have been," he says. Suddenly he feels weary, a terrible weight intensifying around his shoulders. Again, his eyes sweep the alleyway. His hand tightens spasmodically on John's mobile, his thumb skimming across the engraving on its back. The thought he's been pushing away all night becomes clear – there is nothing else here.
Lestrade is rambling on in the background. He's saying things about eating, and sleeping, and how this isn't very healthy of him to be doing.
Sherlock turns to face him, unmovable and stony. "And I suppose that my sleeping would assist John, would it? I suppose I shall locate him using my dreams to access some astral plane to reach out and find him. Is that what you're saying, Inspector?"
"Of course it isn't. But what do you think Doctor Watson would say if he were here? Do you -"
"Doctor Watson is not here, Lestrade. That is why I am doing this! I will not stop until I see him safe, do you understand?" Sherlock feels something within his chest snap–is this desperation? he wonders and brushes the thought aside – and Lestrade looks nothing short of shocked. "I will do everything that is within my power to find him. If that means not sleeping or eating, so be it. I have done far more for far less."
"I will raze London to the ground if it will see John returned to me," Sherlock says, and is almost as shocked as Lestrade to find that he means it, "And I will not lose a moment's sleep for it."
Lestrade has no response as Sherlock pushes past him and out of the alley. Then again, Sherlock didn't really expect him to. After all, it is morning now.
It has been five days.
Another five days pass. And then another.
On the sixteenth day, Sherlock's phone beeps. He steadfastly ignores it, continuing to walk swiftly through the shadowed streets of London, desperate for anything. A shadow, a footprint, something that would whisper to him that John has been here. The phone beeps again, then once more, before Sherlock feels that it merits a glance.
After that glance, he turns on his heel and sprints for the hospital.
Two of the texts are from Lestrade; the other, Mycroft. He has missed calls from the both of them.
John Watson has been found.
In the end, it wasn't one of the Holmes brothers to find him. It wasn't Lestrade, it wasn't Donnovon, it wasn't Sherlock's network of homeless Londoners. It was a bunch of teenagers, loitering by the Thames and smoking pot, who had stumbled across a figure in the dark. They'd called it in as a dead body, yelling into the phone that they'd found a body, lying on the banks of the river. Halfway through the call, said body's eyes had drifted open, at which point they began screaming about zombies to the 999 operator.
When the paramedics arrived on the scene, John Watson lay alone and abandoned in the cold, unconscious, unresponsive, and bleeding into the mud.
The high teens had vanished.
When Sherlock arrives at the hospital, Lestrade and Mycroft are already there.
"Where?" Sherlock says, barely through the door. Mycroft tells him they've already brought John into surgery (and Sherlock's heart seems to stop at the word). Lestrade tells him about the kids who found him on the freezing riverbank. Sherlock says nothing to either of them, but rather pushes past towards the doors that lead to the operating room. A man calmly stopped Sherlock. He calmly tells the detective that he's not allowed in the back. He calmly tries to guide Sherlock over to a chair.
Sherlock calmly punches him in the nose.
As he walks through the doors, he can hear Lestrade trying to conduct damage control. The DI is also yelling at Sherlock to come back. Mycroft, however, just follows Sherlock into the back hall.
"Sherlock," Mycroft says, "You must –"
"John is here, Mycroft," Sherlock says, "And I will go to him."
Mycroft doesn't say anything more to try and dissuade him. Only guides Sherlock to the appropriate operating room. It has an apparatus, where medical students can observe surgery. Sherlock walks in. He takes one look down at the scene before him, of the surgeon and nurses conducting what is a routine day for them. He takes one look at all of the blood, John's blood, and turns on his heel and marches back the way he came.
Mycroft remains silenet, and follows him out.
After waiting for two hours, they take John from surgery and bring him to a room. Sherlock is allowed in fifteen minutes after that.
Sherlock hesitates in the doorway to John's room, stares at his friend. John is so small, having lost an alarming amount of weight. He is covered in bandages and bruises. The small bit of skin on his face not mottled with purple and blue is terribly pale. John is so still. Sherlock can't stop staring, can't stop seeing the blood from the operating room. So he simply watches John.
Thirty seconds more of that and he walks to the foot of John's bed and picks up his chart. It is nauseating. Every time that Sherlock skims his eyes over the next injury, his eyes jump to the figure on the bed before him, cataloguing everything. His mind reenacts every blow, every cut, every strike as if it is playing out before him.
John's wrists are wrapped, rubbed raw from rope that kept him bound. John had fought, but Sherlock wouldn't have needed the chart to tell him that. Bruises everywhere, broken bones as well. Not one of John's ribs escaped unscathed. His right arm is wrapped in a cast and strapped to his chest. The chart helpfully supplies that the shoulder had been dislocated and the arm snapped in two places. I bloody well match now, don't I, John's voice says, flitting through Sherlock's head as clear as if he were speaking.
The list continues – lacerations on chest, back, legs, hands. While all the slices and marks on his chest, legs, and hands are clean and straight, suggesting a knife, the marks on his back are more congruent to being whipped. Internal bleeding. Bruises everywhere. One molar missing.
Severely dehydrated and extremely malnourished. John's captors hadn't fed him, barely allowed him to drink.
Sherlock puts the chart back down.
Then he sits. Thinks. Waits. Listens to the beeping of the heart monitor. It is the most annoyingly beautiful noise that Sherlock has ever heard.
One hour later, and John suddenly slams back into consciousness. It happens so quickly that it takes Sherlock by surprise. There is a sudden gasp from the bed beside him, and John's eyes are wide open. He begins to move slightly, and Sherlock, fearing that the doctor may injure himself, moves closer and hits the call button to summon a nurse.
The nurse is there barely a second later. She takes one look at John, who's teeth are grinding together and who's breathing is ragged, and tells Sherlock she'll be back in a tick, in just a moment.
John locks his gaze up at Sherlock and struggles weakly, and it is less a matter of holding him still then it is simply Sherlock setting his hands on his shoulders. John moans, and Sherlock bends his head closer so that he may hear. "…God…tell you nothing," John hisses, his voice reduced to a wavering croak, one hand gripping Sherlock's arm with all the strength of a newborn. The words unleash something icy and scorching within Sherlock's belly, a screaming need to find the bastards that dared to touch his John, who had the gall to abandon him like a pile of garbage by the river, a calm voice whispering the things he'd to them upon discovering their location. The nurse returns to the bedside, a syringe in hand. She calmly injects the painkillers into the IV line. The effect is instantaneous.
John's hand drops from where he clung weakly to Sherlock's arm. His eyes roll back and his breathing evens. The sight of him lying there, broken and bruised and so, so pale causes Sherlock to back away from the bed and gaze out the window. He doesn't look back at John for quite some time. Any other person's heart would've been broken by the sight. But Sherlock's heart was ripped violently from his chest days ago, kept in the dark and beaten mercilessly by a nameless enemy. It can't break anymore than it already has.
Mycroft appears and watches motionless from the door.
"I require the use of your computer," Sherlock says. He rests his head against the glass window pane. Shuts his eyes. Pretends none of it matters whatsoever, even though he knows nothing has ever quite mattered more. "I suspect I will be here for some time, and will require something with which to pass it with."
Mycroft simply nods. "Whatever you need."
He opens his eyes. Observes how the heat of his breath has melted the frost on the outside of the glass. "Of course, Mycroft, whatever I need," he parrots back. His throat feels raw. Mycroft can't get him what he needs, not this time.
It is another seven hours before John lurches from unconsciousness once more. Its quieter than the first time, more gradual. Sherlock watches John's fingers twitch and his eyelids flutter before opening. The doctor's eyes twitch about the room, unable or unwilling to focus, until John once again fixes on Sherlock's face.
Sherlock is struck by the need to say something, anything.
"John," he says, and stops, completely lost and without the slightest as to where to go next. "I…John, I -"
"There was a barn," John says. His voice is worn to the point of a whisper, small and harsh. "And a cow. Could hear a motorway not too...too far off. I was unconscious for the…beginning of the drive, but we crossed at least one set of train tr…tracks. They were wearing – "
Sherlock puts a hand on John's head. "Shush, John," Sherlock says, and it almost kills him. But John's clearly fighting to stay awake, and it makes Sherlock's throat constrict uncomfortably to hear the doctor slurring through the data. "Later. You can tell me later. Rest, now. Just rest."
John frowns, and he opens his mouth to argue.
"I will find them, I swear it," Sherlock says. "But you must rest. Please. For me?"
That does it. John stares at him for a few moments longer before nodding, and closing his eyes. Sherlock lets out a shaky breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. But then John opens his eyes once more, and the look on his face – that determined look that is just so John – makes it very clear that Sherlock has lost this battle He has to bend down to hear once again, and with a jolt he is reminded of the last time John woke.
"Didn't…didn't tell them anything," John mutters, barely above a sigh. He stares intently up at Sherlock. His eyes are glassy, and Sherlock can't look away. "Swear…not a thing."
"I know, John," Sherlock says. "I know. Now will you please go to sleep?"
And John does, but Sherlock knows that it is less to do with his requesting of it and more to do with the fact John has absolutely no energy left in him. Sherlock sits back in the chair, his hand moving to rest on John's forearm. He knows that at some point in the future, he's going to have to have a chat with John about moronic acts of staggering loyalty, and how sometimes to just tell his kidnappers what they want to fucking know, because it would probably make many things easier in the long run. He also knows that John will not listen; John will allow himself to die, will be tortured and hurt and broken before speaking against Sherlock. (And it is that thought that makes Sherlock question the populace's insistence on emotion once again, because terror is an emotion and it hurts.)
Sherlock pushes the thoughts away, but doesn't delete them. Its data he will need to analyze later on, just not now. He moves his hand to John's wrist, feeling the steady thumping of John's pulse. It's more comforting than a lullaby. His vision slides out of focus and his eyes shut.