January 15, 2011. 10:04 AM

"John, please, listen. John! John, tell me what's going on?"

Sherlock's increasingly frantic, though hissing voice eventually breaks through the image of Eddie Malcovitch standing over him with a nail-embedded board, and John gives a shuddering gasp.

"Sh...Sherlock?" He questions, still breathing hard. Sherlock is crouched in front of him, as if he could actually see him, although he probably just followed the sounds of his gasps from whenever John had collapsed to the snowy ground. Sherlock's face is ashen, eyes openly concerned, but he's making an effort to appear normal. His phone is held to his ear to mask conversation. A clever idea, John absently thinks.

"John, what was that?" He sounds shaken. John clears his throat, rubbing his eyes, and trying to pull himself together.

"Another flashback. Much clearer this time."

"What did you see?"

John can see that Sherlock is getting weird looks from Lestrade and Donovan further down the alley, but Sherlock obviously doesn't care, so why should he?

"The man, I know the man who took me."

"Who was it, John?" Sherlock's question is anxious, and too loud.

"Keep your voice down. It was Eddie Malcovitch. One of the ones who went missing, but he was the one taking them. He said to me last night that they wouldn't last long. We fought. Sherlock, he got me pretty badly with a nail embedded board. If I didn't get some pressure on that gouge…I may well be in big trouble by now."

Sherlock's gaze had darkened.

"Where did he take you?"

John shakes his head, and then remembers that Sherlock can't actually see him, good as he may be at guessing where to look based on where his speech is coming from.

"I didn't see that far. I'm pretty sure I was unconscious by then." His brain helpfully adds at least to the word unconscious, and he tamps it down. He does not want the disturbing thought that he might be dead, and Sherlock doesn't need that distraction either. John saw his face when he told him about his potential injuries.

Sherlock stands then, and starts walking back towards their flat, leaving Lestrade and company looking after him bemusedly.

"Coming?" He mouths to John. John stands and catches up—easier now than it had been when his legs were corporal.

"Of course."


He feels like a block of ice…Sherlock, please…


January 15, 2011. 10:34 AM

Sherlock managed to get Eddie Malcovitch's mother to let them into her son's bedroom, citing a further police investigation, and showing Lestrade's nicked ID tag. John usually would have taken issue with this, but under the circumstances he felt it could be justified.

Sherlock storms through Eddie's personal things, searching for anything that could be tied to his crimes. Unfortunately, to John standing in the middle of the room, the place looks absolutely normal. He could see himself living here.

In fact…

John tilts his head thoughtfully, and bends down to the underside of the bed, and yep—there it is.

"Sherlock," Sherlock jerks up, and heads in the direction of his voice. "Look under the edge of the bed." The detective bends down, and pulls out a tattered black journal. It looked familiar.

"I have one just like it. We all bought one together in Afghanistan."

John could see Sherlock dying to ask questions, like 'if you were all such great friends, why is one killing all the others?' but there just wasn't time. He flipped open the covers, and stares down at the symbols that line the page uncomprehendingly.

"It's Farsi. These are a string of numbers that make up the code we all used together. The book we went out of changed, but it was always marked by the top cipher and the bible."

Sherlock stares up at where John's voice is coming from, a smile quirking the corner of his mouth.

"Reminds you of that Blind Banker case, doesn't it?" John says, and Sherlock grins further, before jumping up to find a Bible.

Sherlock then lays out the cipher journal on the table, and opens the Bible.

"Tell me the numbers." He orders, and John runs his finger down the page.

"Okay, first one. 109-8-3."

Sherlock fingers fly through the worn Bible, before looking up.

"Lord."

"Write it down."

Sherlock tears out the back page of the holy book, before digging out a pen from some inner pocket, ignoring John's exclamation.

"What?" John just shakes his head.

"Alright, next numbers. 82-8-1."

Sherlock scribbles down 'of'. John goes on.

"31-6-6."

'The' is added to the list.

"1-41-42."

Sherlock pauses.

"That doesn't work. Are you sure?"

John peers over Sherlock's shoulder at the Bible, and sure enough, there aren't enough lines to account for that. He checks his translation, but no, that was correct. Then he remembers them doing something different for words that were hard to find.

"Try it as a reference. Genesis 41:42." Sherlock goes there, and reads out the verse. One word sticks out.

"And Pharaoh took off his ring. Ring, it's got to be that. Then it's Lord of the Rings." Sherlock looks up towards him.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, that was one of the books we'd use."

Sherlock puts down that word, gestures for the next one.

"Okay, 6-16-6."

Sherlock flips the pages.

"Return."

John knows which book know, and scans the room. Sure enough a copy of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy adorns the book case.

"Sherlock, it's that one. Lord of the Rings, Return of the King." John chuckles. "It was my favorite."

"Yes, well, if we hurry it might just save your life." Sherlock grabs the book, and opens it. "Numbers?"

John reads them out.

They end up with this phrase.

'I will hide them underground, in the cold and dark, where nobody can find them, until they are dead. Lambas Palace and Upper Marsh.'

"Sherlock, that's an address. Lambeth Palace and Upper Marsh. It's got to be. We've got an address!"

Sherlock is already dialing out Lestrade's number.


Coldcoldcoldcold….


January 15, 2011. 10: 47 AM

Sherlock and John can hear the ambulances tailing them, but the handful of cash Sherlock shoves at the cab driver ensures that they get there first. It's a wide street, with cars rushing past.

Sherlock is impatient when he realizes that they'll need to wait for the police to get here to close off the road. John's sure that they are close, there's some feeling inside him, a tug to go back where he belongs.

Sherlock watches the street, and his eyes catch on a manhole that looks as if it's been moved recently. He sees a break in traffic, and heads out resolutely.

"Sherlock! There are cars coming." Sherlock ignores him, pulling out his phone, and snapping a photo of the loose manhole covering. "Sherlock come on, get out the way."

John would dearly like to not see his friend smeared over the concrete. Luckily, Lestrade arrives, and the area is quickly cordoned off.

Various hands grab hold of the cover, including Sherlock's which John is mildly touched to see, and pull hard. The metal plate slides and snow bits fall into the hole. At the bottom, barely to be seen, are three crumpled bodies.

Lestrade yells, moving people into action. Ambulance technicians scuttle around, and officers follow their orders and keep the public away. Sherlock Holmes sits staring down into the hole, gripping the edge with white knuckles. John wants to grab his shoulder, but he knows that Sherlock won't feel it, since, insanely his body is down in that pit. Instead he murmurs to Sherlock, causing him to stiffen.

"Sherlock, it'll be all right. I'm just down there. They'll get me out, and everything will be okay."

"Sherlock, you've got to get out of the way." Lestrade unknowingly cuts into the conversation. He's leading a team of EMTs over, and Sherlock scrambles back to make room for them.

After a moment's climbing and rigging up jury-harnesses, there are people down in the hole, checking on the status of each body.

Lestrade's radio crackles and Sherlock listens intently.

"All three dead sir." The man pronounces, and Sherlock freezes, face pale. John hears the words, but doesn't comprehend them, feeling a chill in his stomach. How...can he be dead…he's here.

Lestrade's got his eyes closed, when suddenly the radio crackles again.

"Hold on, sir. One's still alive. Barely, but he's still with us."

John feels dizzy and sits down hard next to where Sherlock is crouching. He still hasn't moved, but his eyes have slid closed. Lestrade thanks the man, and they wait in tense silence as the alive one is strapped down to a board, and brought up. John feels like crying in relief as he sees familiar looking sandy hair, and a very muddy cream jumper. It's him. He's alive!

"Sherlock, did you see? It's me, I'm alive!" Sherlock lets out a noisy breath, and follows the stretcher to the ambulance.


January 15, 2011. 12:24 PM

The hospital was noisy, and distracting. Sherlock had been following a wheeled stretcher, eyes never leaving the still figure on the bed, for as far as they'd let him go. He was now pacing the waiting room.

John's voice had followed him into the hospital, and was still here. Sherlock got the feeling he was pacing with him.

"Why am I still out here?" John was musing. "Should I go back into my body now that I'm being taken care of?"

Sherlock shrugs, trying not to be too conspicuous as he answers in a murmur.

"I dunno. Maybe you have to wake up first?"

John sighs. "Maybe I'm just ready to be done with this whole thing, and have everything back to normal."

Sherlock nods emphatically. Just then his phone rings. Mycroft's name shows on the screen, and he makes a face.

"We found him, brother, no thanks to you." Sherlock sneers. Mycroft's voice sounds tinny in his ear.

"I'm aware of that. I simply thought you'd like to know that this Eddie Malcovitch won't be bothering you any longer."

Sherlock raises his eyebrow.

"What did you do?" He asks.

"Oh, nothing he won't survive—"

"Unfortunately."

"Quite. But, needless to say, he won't be in a position to cause any more…trouble"

Sherlock feels a rather foreign surge of gratitude towards his brother.

"Thank you." He says quietly.

"Hah, then perhaps you can oblige me by taking the next few cases I indulge you with?"

All good feeling towards Mycroft vanishes, and Sherlock rolls his eyes.

"Goodbye Mycroft." He ends the call, and then looks around.

"Did you hear? Eddie Malcovitch has been taken care of." Sherlock says very quietly. It wouldn't do to have some well-meaning nurse check him in for a psych evaluation.

John's voice comes from behind him, cause his to spin around.

"I heard, Sherlock. That's good news."

"You don't sound happy."

There's an exhalation. "I'm just tired of being this way. I want to get back in my body."

Sherlock frowns.

At that moment, a doctor wearing an extremely neutral expression comes around the corner and heads towards Sherlock.

"You came in with John Watson?" He asks, and Sherlock nods.

"Sherlock Holmes. I should be on the form as next of kin."

The doctor nods.

"His condition is rough. He was severely hypothermic when he was brought in, not to mention a broken collar bone, concussion, bruises, and severe lacerations over much of his body. Frankly, it's amazing he survived as long as he did, even though he hadn't been down that hole as long as the other men were." Sherlock is feeling sick to his stomach, and he doesn't even want to think about how John is feeling with all this happening to him.

"We've warmed him up, set the bones, and stitched the cuts, the worst being a deep gash in his right thigh. He'll probably need PT in order to gain full use of it back. Right now, though, it's the concussion that worries us. There's minimal bleeding and swelling, but he's non-responsive. We can only wait for him to wake up.

John whispers somewhere behind him. "I'm in coma because I'm still out here…"


January 15, 2011. 3:47 PM

It was a strange feeling to sit beside one's own bedside. John looks down at…himself…though he could hardly recognize the lump of purple and blue flesh as his own body. He is breathing with a ventilator, and the monitors send out a steady beat. But himself, his conscious thoughts still are outside the body, in this incorporeal form, sitting in chair beside Sherlock.

"How does it feel?" Sherlock asks suddenly. John knows that these periodic questions are Sherlock's way of making sure he's still there, and not flown off into some afterlife, soon to be followed by the flat line of the body on the bed. John obliges with the same answer he gave him ninety minutes ago.

"Weird."

Sherlock nods, and stares again at the John on the bed. John looks too. He really looks awful. There is a great red gash stitched down his cheek, and bandages can be seen peeking up from under the hospital gown, showing where the gashes reach across his chest and side. He's been given anitbiotics, but the blood tests have already shown a rise in white blood cells, indicating an impending infection. They're on the look out for a fever now.

John swallows, and turns again towards Sherlock's white face.

Sherlock speaks again.

"What happened with your team in Afghanistan?" John bows his head. This was one question Sherlock hadn't asked, not since their spat before all of this mess. John was still ashamed of his part in that travesty, but he knew that Sherlock deserved to hear the truth.

"We were assigned as a team together because we were friends before. The four of us, Hugo, Dan, Eddie, and me…used to call us the four Musketeers. Then, about six months before I was shot, there was a journalist assigned to our regiment."

"A women." It was not a question. John smiled wistfully.

"She was gorgeous. Red hair, a fiery attitude, and fearless under fire. She'd do anything to get her story. Everyone in the camp was in love with her. He name was Lisa. Eddie and I both had it bad for her. We even fought over it, but in the end, she picked me."

John brushes his fingers over his lips at the memories.

"Eddie took that terribly. By this time, we were training as a special ops team, the four of us, and things were tense between me and him. Then…"

John broke off, and Sherlock frowns, moving his eyes from the John in the bed, to where the John who's speaking is sitting. "What happened?"

"Lisa was kidnapped, right under our noses by the Afghani soldiers. Our team was sent out after her. We found the trail, and followed it, right into their camp. We found her, beaten, but alive. I was never so happy."

John wipes his face, and continues. "We were sneaking out then, and then…all hell broke loose. The enemy soldiers discovered us, and began firing. I ducked down, dragging Lisa with me, but we couldn't move fast enough with her injuries. Then grenades were flying, some from us, some from them, and I lost hold of her. Next thing I know, there's an explosion, and I'm flying back, holding….holding her hand, but nothing else. She'd been blown apart by someone's bomb. For all I know, it could have been mine."

Sherlock reaches a hand, like he wants to grip John's shoulder in comfort, but then lets it fall back to his lap. John continues with difficulty.

"Eddie blamed me entirely. Said that if it had been him holding onto her, he wouldn't have lost her…I guess he never let go of that."

Sherlock doesn't know what to say, so he settles on bowing his head. Some kind of remembrance for the dead woman his friend had loved.


January 16, 2011 6: 45 AM

It isn't until the next day that John feels himself being pulled, as if he's sliding out of focus. He's being tugged towards the bed, past Sherlock, whose head is down on the covers, finally asleep (though not for lack of trying to stay awake) and into the form on the bed. There's a moment of black stillness and then…pain…

He is swimming up through the blackness, with new and intense pain beating in on him from all sides. His back, sides, legs, arms, face….each one has its own distinct kind of pain. He twitches, furrows his brow, and he tugs his eyes open.

Immediately the light blinds him, which makes no sense because he knows its dark in the room. He was just out there. Yet, his eyes are watering from the brightness, so he blinks rapidly, trying to clear them. His efforts bring the room and its sole occupant into focus. Sherlock is sitting up now, staring at him with wide eyes, and it was such a good feeling to see his eyes looking back at him. Sherlock could actually see him. He tries to smile and ends up only lifting one corner of his mouth. It seems it was enough, however, for Sherlock breaks into the widest grin he's ever seen on the detective's face.

John wiggles the fingers on the hand closest to Sherlock, and gosh it hurts, but then Sherlock lays his hand over it, gripping gently. John returns the grip as best he can, and again meets the eyes of his friend.

Sherlock then leans in, and whispers.

"Good to see you."