Notes: Not sure where such a dark and angsty fic came from but here it is.
Warnings: Possible triggers for sexual assault (non-explicit). Angst. H/C.
Asexual!Sherlock/Straight!John (platonic romance, established relationship).
Bless You and Keep You
Sherlock wakes up without any idea where he is. It's dark and damp and empty. His wrists are bound above his head; he's hanging by them, his feet only a few inches off the ground. He can hear water dripping from somewhere nearby. He's alone, as far as he can tell. And he hurts. He cannot tell what damage has been done to his body with specificity, not while he hangs in this position, but his ribs ache and his head and his face and his shoulders. He vaguely remembers the beating and the knock-out, after a few minutes. He can't feel the weight of his mobile in his pocket, which means his captors have it. Or threw it away. He has no idea how long he's been out, how long he's been gone, but John must know something's wrong by now. Must be worried. Sherlock just hopes that he notifies Lestrade and the police; trying to find him alone would not be a good idea.
The woman—Alexie Varnham, an American wanted for multiple international murders and working with terrorists, selling confidential government information—steps forward into his sight, out of the pitch blackness and into the miniscule light shining from somewhere above him. She is cool and self-satisfied, faintly smiling at him as she looks into his face, reaches up and touches his forehead with her thumb, wiping at blood or dirt.
"I was starting to get bored waiting," she says.
"What do you want?" says Sherlock, too disoriented and tired to be witty. He finds it hurts his lungs to speak.
"You. Off the streets. Out of my way." She runs her hand down the right side of his face, cupping it under his jaw. "God, you're pretty. I feel like I've caught some kind of gorgeous, endangered animal." She moves her hand down his chest and presses it there.
Sherlock glances at her a little, his eyes half-lidded, his breathing audible with strain.
"Such a shame I have to kill you," she says. "You could be an invaluable asset. But I know you won't cooperate. Never have with people like me."
"What do you know?"
"I know everything, sweetheart. You've got an impressive record."
She perches her hands on her hips and looks him over. He mostly stays his eyes to the ground. The burning in his shoulders and his arms rapidly becomes more and more acute. He can feel the swelling in his face and in the back of his skull; concussion likely, bruising certain. His hands are tingling with numbness, all the blood rushed out of them and the circulation compromised at his wrists.
"Well," he says. "What are you waiting for?"
"I wanted some time alone with you. I would expect you're far more interesting company in a chat than a fight."
Sherlock blinks lamely, his brain attempting to think of a solution, a way out, but too exhausted and distracted by pain to properly begin. She begins to pace around the small lit space around him, arms crossed.
"My sources tell me you have a very unusual relationship with Dr. Watson. You live together, he follows you around on cases more often than not…. In the privacy of your residence, you're surprisingly intimate. Sleep in the same bed…. But as far as anyone can tell, you aren't having sex with him. Never even slip him a little tongue either. Tell me, Mr. Holmes: what's all that about, hm?"
Sherlock coughs. "None of your bloody business."
She stops and smiles at him. "Are you in love with him? I think you are. And from what I can tell—the way he's rushing to find you right now as we speak—I think the feeling is mutual."
Sherlock almost sighs, his body sagging. He rests his face against his right arm and shuts his eyes.
"You've never had any sexual entanglements. Not in your whole life. And along comes John Watson and you don't seem to make an exception for him…. Nor he to you, considering his long and accomplished history of exploits with women." Alexie steps up to Sherlock, looking into his face, touching his exposed left side. "So what the hell are you doing together?"
He doesn't acknowledge her, doesn't open his eyes. For the first time in years, he feels as if this is it; he's going to die here. Alone. John might never find his body, won't have closure, won't get that life in the country he talked about wanting. He'll blame himself.
A tear slips from Sherlock's left eye, down the side of his nose and around his mouth. He doesn't feel it, but Alexie sees. She traces the wet track with her thumb.
"You're not nearly as cold as you want everyone to believe," she says. "A freak, sure. But not inhuman."
John was the first person who made Sherlock feel like something other than a freak. By the time they first met, he had come to believe everyone who had ever called him that, seeing his differences from them as empirical evidence. As far as he was concerned, he was the only asexual man in all of England, maybe the world. That's how it felt, anyway. He was certainly the only Sherlock Holmes—unique even in his kind of genius and his work. He told himself he was a sociopath, a barely contained monstrosity, useless to people beyond his intelligence and his ability to solve crimes. Loneliness grew on him, slipped out of his awareness like chronic mild pain. Irrelevant. Irrelevant until John took it away.
Alexie's hand travels down to the waistband of his trousers, touching lightly, suggestively. Sherlock doesn't move or look.
"Sherlock Holmes shouldn't die a virgin," she says, undoing his belt.
She unbuttons his trousers, slides her hand beneath his shirt and touches his hip. His body shudders, not with desire. He isn't going to fight; there's no point. But he cannot believe he has to endure this too, before she has him killed. He feels his face grow hot with humiliation. Alexie leans in and mouths his neck; he strains away only a little, knowing she'll have her way no matter what he does. Her hand moves around to his back, sliding up beneath his shirt. Her other hand sneaks into his trousers, stroking his right thigh.
A few more tears snake down his face. He can't stop them. All he smells is Alexie's too-strong perfume, feels her fingernails scratching at his back lightly. She moves her mouth to his collarbone and scrapes at it with her teeth. He keeps half his face hidden in his arm.
There is the loud crack of a gunshot and Alexie falters, body jerking against Sherlock's. He can feel her hot breath against his bare neck. She's leaning all her weight on him. Another gunshot, her body twitching before slowly dropping, falling away from him.
For a moment, Sherlock hangs there, looking down at her corpse and barely breathing.
John steps out of the shadows, swoops onto him, and Sherlock would collapse if he were on his feet. His whole body slackens, the tension dissipated, and his mouth opens with an exhale.
John's touching him with both hands, frenzied with energy, saying, "Oh, my God. Are you all right? Sherlock? Tell me you're all right."
He drags a chair over from somewhere to Sherlock's right, the legs scraping the floor loudly, and he stands on it to cut the thick rope by which Sherlock hangs.
"Damn it, Sherlock, say something. Anything. Please."
He struggles to keep Sherlock upright once the rope snaps and the taller man drops onto buckled knees. John maneuvers them both, gets down from the chair, kicks it away, finds himself on the floor and pulls Sherlock away from Alexie's corpse as much as Sherlock will help him get away with. The pain everywhere in Sherlock's body just spiked with the release of his arms and he's still leaking tears against his will and John's here, warm and solid and smelling the way he always does. Sherlock almost sobs out loud with relief, as John cradles him in his lap.
"Are you all right?" John says, looking at him, trying to search the side of Sherlock's face he can see. The other side is buried in John's shoulder. Sherlock grips the opposite one with his hand. John holds him tighter. "Bloody hell, Sherlock. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I didn't get here sooner."
John's voice is rough and breaking and Sherlock wants to tell him he has nothing to be sorry for but can't bring himself to speak. John begins to rock him a little, probably doesn't even realize he's doing it.
"You're all right. You're all right now," he says. "I've got you. I won't let anyone near you."
John's holding him close, so close and tight, and Sherlock thinks this is what shock must feel like…. Hollow and numb when there should be something, anything, pain or pleasure. All he can do is sag against John and breathe and let John do what he wants.
It isn't until John turns his face against Sherlock's and kisses his forehead that Sherlock feels John crying. That can't be right, he thinks. Why is John crying?
"Sherlock, are you all right?" John whispers, hand on Sherlock's face, caressing. "Won't you tell me? Please."
He gives a shuddering breath, forehead pressed to Sherlock's and hand over Sherlock's bruised and bloody cheek, eyes closed and face wet.
"Thank you," Sherlock says, without knowing how he found his voice. And John almost chuckles in response but it isn't a happy sound. His thumb strokes over Sherlock's cheek.
"What did she do?"
John whispers it, and Sherlock can hear the fear in his voice, a bottomless and unspeakable terror. He needs to know but he doesn't want to hear it.
"Nothing," Sherlock says. "Nothing."
"You're being honest?"
John curls his fingers into Sherlock's scalp, gripping at curls, and squeezes his eyes shut.
"Take me home," says Sherlock.
John nods against him. He moves after a few moments, lifting Sherlock up on his feet, draping Sherlock's arm around his shoulders and supporting him with his own arm around Sherlock's back. The more they move through the darkness outside of the room, the more clearly they can hear police sirens in the distance.
John won't take him straight home. They sit together in back of one of the ambulances, as the police swarm the area and the building. The bodies of Alexie Varnham and her henchmen are wheeled out in bags on gurneys, and Sherlock realizes that John must've killed them all. John keeps his arm around Sherlock's back, and Sherlock's now notices the bruising in his hands and his face and the cut on his cheekbone. He wants to tell John he's an idiot; any one of those dead men could've killed him. But he knows it's a futile argument to start.
When Lestrade finally comes around, Sherlock could weep again; he just wants to go home already.
"Varnham and five of her colleagues. No small victory," says Lestrade. He eyes John. "No need to get too specific in the police report, I think. Considering their terrorist status, this is a government matter."
In other words, Mycroft will keep Sherlock and John out of it.
"Are you two okay?"
"He's going to need A&E for his injuries," John says of Sherlock. "But I think he'll be fine, all things considered."
Lestrade nods. Sherlock doesn't bother protesting the hospital; if he goes along, at least he'll get prescription painkillers out of it.
"We can discuss this when you're in better shape, then," says Lestrade. "Call me tomorrow, John, and let me know how he is."
John nods, and Lestrade leaves them.
When the paramedics return to bring them to the hospital, Sherlock lies down on the gurney in the back of the ambulance, his head throbbing, and John sits beside him, stroking his curls back from his face.
"I'm not a freak, John," Sherlock says on the ride over, his eyes closed.
John smiles at him. "No, you're not," he says softly.
"You might be one. For all this."
John leans over and kisses Sherlock's forehead. "That's okay."