Marill: I had a lot of debate with myself over posting this here. I posted it anonymous on livejournal and was going to leave it at that, but it was fairly well-received. It is my first time writing a major traumatic abuse fic, and I treated it as a sort of therapeutic experience for myself. That said, there are major triggers within, including rape flashbacks, torture and general nastiness on the part of the villains. If you can't handle these issues, you may want to skip this one.

/

John's phone buzzed in three long dins. It was a message from Sherlock, which was odd because Sherlock normally blocked out his number whenever texting. John was relieved regardless, as his flat mate had been missing for three days. Lestrade and Mycroft had both assured him that it wasn't time to call for a search party until Sherlock had been missing at least a week. That he would turn up, and laugh at John's worrying.

The text was simple: 68 Park End St. John figured in his head that the address was about eighteen blocks away from the Thai restaurant he was sitting in, so he promptly paid his bill and went outside for a cab.

*~*

It was a cheery little yellow house that matched the address. John tried calling Sherlock to see if the detective would meet him out front, but it rang straight to voicemail. Against his social instincts, John pushed open the unlocked front door of the house and went inside.

The entire first floor of the home was deserted. There was no furniture, no carpet, nothing on the walls. And no Sherlock.

John climbed the stairs to the second floor of the house, which contained only a single hallway with a closed door at the end.

"Sherlock?" John called out. He didn't feel right snooping around the empty house like this, but knew that his friend would have a good reason for summoning him. Or perhaps Sherlock just expected for John to have the charger for his dead mobile.

Slowly, quietly, John opened the door. At first he thought that what he saw was a design on a bedspread, there was so much bright coloring. But even in the dim light, John could tell that whatever it was, it was shaking. The unmistakable sound of stifled moaning was cutting harshly through the otherwise silent room.

Panic flared up John's spine and set his hands to trembling. He groped in the darkness for the light switch and found it quickly enough. As soon as he turned around to face the bed, he wished he hadn't found the lights.

He wasn't sure if he mouthed the words or if he actually said, "Oh god." His hearing seemed to fade out for a few horrific moments.

It was Sherlock, there was no mistaking that. Even amongst the chaotic disarray of cloth, tape, leather and blood, John knew instantly that the quivering, sobbing figure bound to the bed was his flat mate. John was briefly sidetracked by the tacky neon writing on the wall above the bed, which read, in cheerful handwriting, "Happy birthday, John! Sorry I played with your present before you could have a go. Enjoy! Yours forever, M."

Battling the sickening thoughts of what had occurred in that room over the last three days, John was across the room in two seconds, his hands hovering above Sherlock's body, unsure what to do first. Sherlock was blindfolded with black electrical tape covering his eyes and wrapped all the way around the back of his head. His favorite scarf, the only article of Sherlock's clothing that still remained on his body, had been used as a gag, forced roughly into the detective's mouth, if the blood splattered on his cheeks was any indication. Sherlock's wrists were clamped into leather restraints that were attached over and behind his head onto the bed frame. His legs were not similarly restrained, but they needn't be, as Watson realized with a hot flash of anger that Sherlock's right leg was badly broken. His clinician's eye determined that the cause was blunt force, probably from a baseball bat or billy club.

The rest of the appalling details, John saved for a later examination. Sherlock had begun whimpering more frequently when John approached the bed and suddenly he was hyperventilating and twisting in his restraints.

"Sherlock," John whispered. "It's okay. I'm here. You're going to be fine. He's not coming back." And if he does, I'll tear his face off John said to himself. He gently placed a hand on Sherlock's shoulder, trying to calm him.

Sherlock reacted violently, screaming around the gag in abject terror. His left leg thrashed against the bed and he tugged at his wrists, causing the bed frame to shake with his motions.

John nearly lost his control then. He felt like fainting or crying or running out of the room. But he couldn't. Sherlock needed him.

"God," John muttered. "I've got to get you out of here…"

Sherlock was trying to talk, his words coming out as senseless garbling. John immediately began untying the gag. Once it was undone, he tucked Sherlock's beloved scarf into his own coat pocket and removed the gritty handkerchief that the scarf had held in place inside Sherlock's mouth. As soon as it was gone, John could make out what Sherlock had been saying. "No more, no more, no more, I want to die, please just kill me…"

Sherlock continued in this vein of thoughts as John struggled to untie his wrists. "You're going to be okay, Sherlock. I'm here. John is here. I've got you. I won't leave you. I won't let anyone touch you at all." Sherlock didn't seem to hear the doctor's pleading voice; he just kept up his despondent litany. Finally, John managed to unfasten Sherlock's wrists from the vile leather restraints. He carefully eased Sherlock's arms down to the bed, one at a time, cringing at his friend's yelps of pain from the cramped muscles suddenly moving.

"John," Sherlock moaned. "Please help me…"

John's eyes stung when he heard the broken, impossibly small voice of his normally unshakable friend. "I'm here, Sherlock," he reminded him. "I'm going to help you. It's going to be all right."

John knew it was a lie. He knew that nothing about this situation was or would ever be "all right." Sherlock had been kept bound like that for days, gagged, blindfolded, tormented, traumatized. He was severely beaten, with broken ribs and a fractured cheek added to his broken leg. There was blood on the mattress between Sherlock's legs, and as hard as he tried, John could not fail to notice what that meant.

John did what he thought would be best for his injured and abused friend: he called for an ambulance.

"Sherlock," John said, softly, placing a hand on the side of his friend's face. "The paramedics will be here soon. Just hold on."

Sherlock still hadn't responded to John's presence, but he no longer flinched away from touch. He mumbled incoherent pleads and apologies, shivering with cold and misery. John wished that the bloody bed at least had a blanket so he could cover up Sherlock in the chilly room.

John stoically continued his examination, deciding that the more information he could impart to the paramedics, the better. He considered removing the gunky tape from Sherlock's eyes, but couldn't bear the thought of pulling at Sherlock's sensitive skin like that. Watson felt his friend's head, palpating it lightly to check for skull fractures or bleeding injuries. As he moved his hands over the sweat-soaked head, he gently ran fingers through Sherlock's dirty hair, trying to soothe and calm with his touch as much as he was trying to check for abnormalities.

Finding no serious injuries there, the doctor moved down to Sherlock's waist, feeling the sharp protruding hip bones that spoke of a couple of days of starvation. That's when he heard an awful noise.

John's head snapped back in disbelief for all of two seconds before he placed his hand gently at the side of Sherlock's left leg. Slowly, with intention that he hoped was obvious to Sherlock, John slowly lifted Sherlock's leg to check what was going on underneath him.

Sherlock immediately stiffened as his leg was lifted. "P-please, sir," he said with trembling lips. "Please p-put your c-cock in my mouth…"

John ignored it. Had to. He would think about the many ways he'd like to slowly kill Jim Moriarty later, when John was alone and Holmes wasn't crying and shaking beneath him. John pushed Sherlock's leg further up so that he would have more access to whatever was causing the buzzing noise. The humming got louder all of a sudden, mechanical and relentless.

"Jesus," John cursed. Someone had cruelly shoved a vibrating sex toy up Sherlock's rear and left it there, turned on. John was suddenly afraid that he might have to reach down and pull the thing out himself. He didn't want the paramedics doing something so undignified to the already humiliated and abused man. At the same time, John didn't want to move Sherlock onto his side to do the job, for fear of causing more pain to the broken leg.

"Sherlock," John whispered, placing a hand on the side of his friend's neck. Sherlock stopped his involuntary begging and stilled. "There," John said, encouraging him. "You're doing great. Can you just talk to me for a bit? I need to ask you a few questions."

Sherlock was silent for a very long moment. His voice broke when he tentatively asked, "John?"

A great sigh went through John's body at the spark of recognition in his friend's shuddering voice. "Yes, Sherlock, it's John. I'm here. You're safe. The ambulance is on its way."

"John, I want to get out of here," Sherlock said immediately. He lifted his chest and shoulders off the bed, unable to even lift his own head from exhaustion. He slumped back onto the mattress, defeated. "John, please, please…I want to go home…"

"We're going to the hospital," John said, firmly. "I can't set your broken leg by myself-"

Sherlock shook his head violently on the bed. "I can't see," he growled. "I want this tape off of my face!" He began to tear ferally at the black tape on his eyes, pulling out lashes and snatches of his eyebrows in his haste. John sat back, not daring to deny Sherlock the ability to see around him. When Sherlock had succeeded, he sank further into the bed, seemingly done-in by the small activity. Suddenly, his eyes dilated and he bore the most terrified face John had ever seen on him. "Wh-what do I…John, I feel something…I don't…oh god, oh god, oh my god, oh god…" Sherlock deteriorated into gasps and frantic curses, reaching a quaking hand toward his hip.

"Shh," John said, quickly, catching Sherlock's hand in his. "It's alright." It was anything but. "I'll take care of it, just…" Just let me undo the last three days. "Just try to roll onto your side for me, Sherlock."

Sherlock swallowed and allowed John to push him over on his right side. His left leg was carefully placed over his right, allowing both legs to rest on the firm mattress. Sherlock shuddered as the movement irritated every part of him.

John shuddered for a different, angrier reason. In the dip between Sherlock's lower back and his arse, a word had been cut into him with what was likely a small penknife. "Fuckhole," it said, and underneath the vulgar word was a downward arrow. John was very close to letting out a string of violent curses when he heard sirens in the distance. He needed to get the object out of Sherlock before the paramedics arrived.

John sucked in a harsh, deep breath. "Sherlock, I'm going to try to remove it now. Please don't tense up. It'll be a lot less painful if you just relax." Sherlock didn't respond, he simply slumped bonelessly on the bed. John tried to work quickly but gently. He spread Holmes' cheeks with one hand, the other hand rubbing circles in the middle of Sherlock's back. He could see the black, plastic object's base, poking out of Sherlock's entrance. John's second hand joined his first at the site of the intrusion.

"Stop," Sherlock said suddenly, clenching. "I don't want you to touch me."

"Sherlock, either I have to do it now, or the paramedics are going to do it when they get here," John replied, frankly.

Sherlock gasped out a sob as he forced his face into the mattress, his muscles relaxing once again. John quickly latched his fingers onto the intrusive sex toy and pulled, feeling the vibrations in his fingers. Sherlock moaned in pain as it began to slide out. "Just relax," John pleaded. "Relax, it'll be over soon…" The diletto widened in the middle, causing Sherlock to gasp as the widest part of it breached him. After that, John easily removed it and switched it off before tossing it into a corner of the room hatefully.

Sherlock was whimpering and crying by then, and John laid down beside him, cradling him with his left arm. He murmured comforting words into his friend's ear as they heard the paramedics open the downstairs door and start up the stairs.