If it weren't for the fact that it was John lolling in the chair, Sherlock would have been rolling his eyes and protesting the cliché before him.
He had received a text with a link in it and opened said link on John's laptop. There had been a scrolling text along the bottom of the webpage that simply said:
'Do what I say or watch him die'
John had been sitting in the centre of the screen, on a simple wooden dining chair – the type with a high back and wooden arms. It was probably upholstered, definitely part of a set. Moriarty was standing behind him, leaning one arm on the back and using his free hand to stroke John's hair. Sherlock instantly wanted to wash that hair, along with the rest of John.
Putting that aside, of more concern was the rolled up sleeve and the obvious needle mark on John's pristine arm. His doctor was drugged and fighting it, but disoriented and uncoordinated.
The scrolling text changed as Moriarty pulled a phone out of his pocket. It was John's phone – that would have to be carefully cleaned as well once Sherlock got him back: and he would get him back.
Sherlock's phone rang and he pulled it from his pocket, answering it quickly and holding it to his ear. He could hear John moaning slightly, a sound that made his stomach tight and hot. Moriarty giggled.
"He did well to push you both in the pool, your pet," he smarmed, "Although I'm guessing he didn't replace that gorgeous shirt he ruined with the chlorine. Then again he probably couldn't afford to replace it – from the look of the rags he's wearing you'd be lucky to get a t-shirt from ASDA."
"Let him go, Moriarty," Sherlock had perfect control of his voice, managing to sound the epitome of bored, "Cliché aside, I want a cup of tea and John makes a passable one."
The scroll text down the bottom changed to a question and Sherlock frowned.
"Now, now, dear," Moriarty smarmed, planting a kiss on John's head, "I've got something interesting planned, I promise. You know, I've been watching you and your little pet and come to a conclusion. He doesn't know what you want. The man is barely competent as a doctor: as a detective he's useless."
Sherlock gritted his teeth. He didn't believe in a higher power, but if he did now was the time that he would be praying that Moriarty of all people hadn't noticed that Sherlock Holmes, the great brain, had a crush the size of the planet on his flatmate.
"So, I'm giving you a present," Moriarty continued blithely, "There is only me and John here – our little feed is being managed remotely and he can't hear us. Therefore it's you and me… and your little pet, who is a little under the weather at the moment. He's had a rather interesting cocktail of drugs that has a wonderful side effect. It interrupts his control of his body and makes him inclined to tell the truth. Consider this a present. He'll tell you the complete truth."
"What makes you think that I don't know the truth already?" Sherlock had a harder time keeping his voice easy now. It was appalling but true – he did have feelings for John and he hadn't even tried to deduce if those feelings were returned. If they weren't it would be the end of his relationship with John – there was no way he could remain in the presence of someone he loved who didn't love him in return.
"Don't be silly, dear," Moriarty pouted, "You're boring when you're silly. If you bore me, I will have to take that boredom out on your pet."
Sherlock remained silent, fighting his impulses. There was no way to tell where the mastermind was, and no way to tell outsiders that he had a situation without alerting Moriarty that he was doing so.
"Now, I believe there is a question at the bottom of your screen, Sherlock, so that is the first question you will ask. Johnny boy here will answer you, if he knows what's good for him," Moriarty giggled and manipulated the phone for a moment before holding it flat near John's ear.
"Hello John," Sherlock watched his flatmate jerk to a semblance of awareness at the sound of his voice, "Who is your best friend?"
John frowned and mumbled something that neither Sherlock nor Moriarty could hear.
"Speak up pet," Moriarty cooed, "Or I'll cut off a finger."
All of a sudden there was a pair of clippers in his hand, waved carelessly for emphasis. John grunted and leaned his head drunkenly on the back of the chair, staring fuzzily into the camera.
"Lestrade," the slurred voice was clearer that Sherlock had expected. Sherlock cringed for a moment, wondering why the mundane Lestrade was considered so highly compared to his more interesting self. Lestrade wasn't as smart, or as capable as Sherlock and didn't have the same style either. He only had a moment to reflect though, as the next question was already scrolling across the screen.
"What is annoying about Baker Street?" Sherlock read aloud, "Oh come on! Really! That isn't even proper grammar!"
"Never-the-less, my dear, the question must be asked," Moriarty cooed, waving the clippers and pocketing them, "Come along pet, tell Sherlock what it is about Baker Street that really annoys you."
"The body parts, the mess, the noise," John recited in a drone, his glazed eyes wandering away from the camera, "The experiments, the shooting at the wall…"
"Yes yes, we get the point," Moriarty looked bored, while Sherlock spent a few moments presenting a bored face to the screen. Sherlock had never claimed to be the tidiest or quietest flatmate in the country. He'd thought that John had accepted that part of him – his doctor had complained of course, but never in a way that indicated that he couldn't stand it any more. Sherlock had attempted to curtail the worst of those things that had irked John the most and John had seemed to notice and appreciate the effort. A new question scrolled past and Sherlock took a deep breath. This was unexpectedly painful – Sherlock had never expected Moriarty's questions to have any real effect.
"But now we come to the real questions," Moriarty rubbed his hands together, and Sherlock grit his teeth.
"Do I irritate you?" he asked his heart heavy. John peeled his eyes open and managed a muzzy sort of grin at the camera.
"Not as much as he does," the drunken gesture towards Moriarty was endearing but didn't do much to take away the sting of a positive response. Not one to waste an opportunity, Sherlock laughed. It was a little hollow to his ears, but the criminal he was watching wouldn't know the difference.
"Watch it puppy or I'll neuter you!" Moriarty snapped, "Ask the next question Sherlock, or he'll pay."
"Would you ever call me your best friend?" Sherlock felt the question turn to ash on his tongue. He already knew the answer was no. This morning he'd woken with hope – faint though it was – in his heart. Now it was gone, forever dashed.
"No Sherlock," John said it gently as if he was aware, through the drugs, that he was breaking Sherlock's so called heart. If he had a choice, the consulting detective would remove the useless organ from his chest. Moriarty had threatened to burn the heart out of him and now it seemed he'd succeeded. Moriarty laughed, clapping his hands in delight. A new question was already was already scrolling across the screen and Sherlock swallowed, bitter acid coating his tongue.
"Do you love me?" he asked his voice flat. This was the question that would destroy them both – there was no way that he could continue to associate with John, knowing for certain that his love was not returned.
On the screen John shook his head, drooping on the chair. Moriarty tutted under his breath and leaned closer, the clippers appearing once more in his hand. He reached down, snagging a lax hand and opening the clippers.
"You will answer pet. I guarantee it. For the answer to this question I'm even willing to get my hands dirty."
In a flash, John was out of the chair and the clippers were protruding from Moriarty's neck. As blood fanned through the air, John shoved the flailing man into the chair he'd been occupying. The phone clattered to the floor, but that didn't prevent the next words from John coming clearly over the still open line.
"They trained me well in the army – resistance to drug interrogation as well as other things. You got too close and too confident, something that I don't think you'll live to learn from. Sherlock, to answer your question: of course I love you. See you soon."
And before Sherlock could respond he was hurrying out of the shot, leaving Moriarty's twitching and trembling corpse to bleed out in the chair.
Sherlock closed the link down and shut the computer. For a moment he was frozen in his chair, then he fidgeted and then he was up, fussing about the flat, tidying away the piles of paper – or at least storing them in the same closet that John kept the vacuum cleaner and the cleaning supplies in. The experiments on the kitchen table were put away, or at least tidied up. Sherlock put the kettle on for tea, then turned it off again, running his hands through his hair.
He had no idea how far away John was, or how long it would take him to return to Baker Street, or even what condition he'd be in when he got ….
The front door opened and closed and Sherlock leapt to the door. John was at the bottom of the stairs, listing to one side. As he watched the doctor sucked in a shaky breath and gripped the banister, taking the first step with a lurching gait; moving with dogged determination. Sherlock didn't wait for him, dashing down the stairs and catching the other man around the waist. John swayed to a halt, resting his forehead against Sherlock's chest with a tired sigh.
"John," Sherlock wasn't sure what to say and John was in no shape to help him out. Army training or not, the drugs had taken their toll, not to mention whatever Moriarty had done to him during the abduction. Remembering his intention to see John washed clean of Moriarty's touch, Sherlock took as much of his flatmates weight as possible, almost carrying him up the stairs.
"John, do you know where you were taken? We need to ensure that you aren't tied to Moriarty's death," Sherlock propped John against the bathroom door. John lolled there, exhausted. He looked up at Sherlock with empty eyes for a moment before sucking in a breath and reciting the address in a monotone.
"I know you are tired," Sherlock said quietly, and John snorted. He pushed away from Sherlock, the loss of contact almost painful to the thin genius.
"Exhausted," he interrupted, "And I want to wash that mans prints off. Do whatever you have to do, Sherlock. I'll manage here."
He turned away, into the bathroom, while Sherlock fished his phone out of his pocket and began texting orders to his networks. He'd go to gaol himself before he allowed John to be accused of Moriarty's murder. It took an entire six minutes and forty-two seconds to ensure that John was safe from the law and the remnants of Moriarty's empire and then Sherlock was in the bathroom too, stripping off his suit jacket. He stepped straight into the water from the shower and took the soap from fumbling fingers, working up a lather and smoothing his hands over warm skin. John was still too drugged to really object, standing passively under Sherlock's touch.
"I meant it Sherlock. I love you," John murmured, "I'm sorry if that's not what you want."
"It's everything I've ever wanted," Sherlock replied, sensing that now was not the time to hide his heart from others. John may have been fighting the drugs, but he was still vulnerable. Sherlock knew just enough about relationships to know that if he didn't place them on an even footing now, this thing would be over before it ever started.
"John, I never dared to hope that you'd love me, despite my faults," Sherlock continued, "I'll try harder to…"
"Shut up, Sherlock," John interrupted once more, an exhausted scowl on his face, "I don't want you to change. Just because the flat is a disaster four days out of seven, there's a noise pollution problem every other four a.m., you don't eat enough, barely sleep and can't cook, doesn't mean that I can't love you. I don't love you in spite of who you are either. I love you, full stop."
Sherlock bent his head and kissed John's forehead, earning a tired huff. Judging that John was clean enough to sleep off the last of the drugs, Sherlock shut off the water, got them out of the shower, stripped himself off and dried them both before bringing them both into John's room – knowing that his own was too chaotic for John to deal with – pulling John's blankets back and settling the smaller man onto his mattress.
He hesitated for a moment until John reached out a hand and yanked him into the bed.
"I need to sleep," John muttered, draping himself over Sherlock and shoving until the taller mans limbs were arranged to his satisfaction, "And I'll probably wake up hung over. But when I'm back to normal you and me are going to get this relationship started properly."
"You and I," Sherlock corrected, which earned him a slightly impatient huff just as John gave in and passed out. Sherlock waited for a moment and then wrapped his arms around his heart carefully. This day had ended so much better than he had hoped.
Disclaimer – characters and settings as depicted in BBC series not mine. No money being made. Plot is mine.
AN – I don't know where that came from, but there it is! Stand alone from all other stories.