Hello. This is my first Sherlock fic, so I doubt have any of the voices right, but I just thought I'd do it. Also, I am an American, and know a few Britishisms, but may use them wrong or use an American word where a British one would be more applicable, but there you go! I haven't edited this too much, either, so, uh. Thanks for reading, if you do. It's kind of short.
The Last I Saw You
The first time his mobile rang, John woke coughing. The second time, after several minutes of blinking in heavy darkness, he turned his head and watched it, vibrating like a china plate in an earthquake, as it slid further and further from his already outstretched hand. The third time, he wondered if Sherlock was calling.
John Watson knew desperation and pain. Battlefields were full of it, brimmed with it-the deserts of Afghanistan had rolled with it, stroked the cusps of the shifting sands. He was not, however, used to it in conjunction with the cold and the wet and the damp of wherever he was lying. He thought, maybe, it was a basement.
He could only assume its basement-ness, for by the sterile, blue-tinted light (fourth call-was it Sherlock?), he could see the shadows of unopened boxes and rusting bicycles. It smelled of earth, too, of stale dust and mould. And rain, of course, had it been raining?
He groaned once, shifted his legs, and swallowed deeply when the burning in his muscles awoke along with the rest of him. His leg ached-dear god it ached-and so did the rest of him but nothing seemed damaged. Nothing stung particularly, and he moved every finger and toe to make sure of it. His head pounded, but he guessed it was some sort of Chloroform hangover, for ever since he met Sherlock Holmes, waking up in someone's basement with a headache no longer equaled a wild night. Not like he had done that often-but nonetheless.
"Fuck," he cursed, as he lifted himself off the ground and finally grabbed at the now silent phone. The screen had cracked at some point, glass shards tinkled to the ground, and he cursed as he cut his fingers on them.
"He'll like this, I'm sure," John muttered, hearing his voice and nearly startled by it, by its roughness and alien pitch. The back of his throat began to tingle and thirst flared along his tongue.
Twelve calls. Eleven from Sherlock, one from his sister-Sherlock's were rapid-fire, Harry's was the first call. It looked as if he had been missing since the night...before? The last he remembered Sherlock and he were after some criminal, a kidnapper, maybe, called out to Devon. They had taken up a quaint inn, tracked the kidnapper to a residential district, and Sherlock had been talking to-someone.
"Damn this thing," John cursed again. The remaining glass did not cover enough for actual use-he could not answer, as much as he tried, could only reach the text screen-and he watched as his mobile flashed angrily and died, leaving him in darkness and beneath the realization he had no idea what the place looked like otherwise. Should he explore and risk breaking his legs on any passing object?
"You're the genius," John muttered as he looked up at the void that should have been the ceiling. "This can't be a problem for you."
Inspector Lestrade thought the whole mess to be a problem. He was not a worrier by nature, no, not Lestrade, whose veteran instincts told him to shut off anything extraneous and focus on the problem at hand. Still, with a madman pacing the dining room of a middle-aged store clerk from Devon and muttering expletives interspersed with deductions on places and possibilities, he admitted to worrying a tad. Hands flew through inky black hair, yanking dangerously at curls and flailing back toward his sides, sometimes his forehead, as alabaster fish diving and jumping about a darkling sea. Sherlock Holmes's flesh drew tight around his cheekbones, threw his thin mouth into a scowl, blue eyes glimmering with rage and frustration.
Lestrade had always thought Doctor Watson was a good man for Sherlock, gave him company, created a target outside of his force from Sherlock's acerbic nature, and tidied the man's emotional messes with softly spoken apologies. Sherlock had called him thrice in the last hour without response, throwing the man into an obvious frenzy. Lestrade was not sure what to think of that, and the whole thing was ridiculous, anyway-a grandmother visiting her son wrapped up in a case of kidnappers and blackmailers. The woman's body slumped in an ornately carved chair, blood dripping onto the carpet from the long, thin slice across her throat, and her face flat on the glossy table.
"This is ridiculous," Lestrade grumbled, eyes following Sherlock's rabid movements. "Doctor Watson needs a patrol, not you galloping about the place."
"Oh, don't be stupid, Lestrade. There is little point in exhausting resources when John's situation is currently unknown. It is too soon to act with certainty. He is alive-they won't kill him now. But where would they have taken him?" He hissed that last line, nearly spat it, and turned to the windowpane as he threw open the heavy drapes. Lestrade felt, if the man had been a super villain, he would have had laser vision.
"He might be dead, you know," Lestrade said, not because he wished to, but because he knew someone would have to bring it up. Sherlock did not respond, hummed something unintelligible, and swooped-a veritable bird of prey-onto the woman's body again. "Slit throat, fingernails clean, did not fight, nicest dress, expecting company, door wide open, nothing valuable taken..."
Peter Ellis, John suspected, was the kidnapper's name or the head of the kidnappers or something. He couldn't be sure of it, he couldn't be sure of anything, really, not with his memory as blurry as it was. He had to find away out of...wherever he was. So he stood up, weaving on his unready legs, and delicately stepped into the maw of darkness.
He slammed into a sharp edge, emitted a choked scream, and remained silent, as the pain clouded his vision with white and he waited for any response. After several minutes, he believed no one else was in the room, and he moved onward as cautious as he could manage. In the room, John thought he felt more crates than seemed proper, three bicycles, and not much else. He gave up at after a while, as frustration with his blindness grew, and he could find an exit.
And so he sat, leaning against the hard, slick wall, rubbing his fingers together and wondering what his therapist would think if she knew what he was actually doing with his time. Sherlock would find him, he was sure of it, but he hated to think he would be stuck there for hours on end-he was already chill to the bone and he wasn't wearing a jacket. He had not clue where it had gone.
Sherlock knew where Peter Ellis had gone. Taken a plane out of the country that morning.
"Intelligent man. Left others to take over any further responsibilities. John must have seen him during our interview with his daughter," Sherlock crinkled his nose at Lestrade's bafflement, "outside of the pub, Inspector, spying as we spoke. You seriously did not think he would let it be? John probably was not aware he had seen him, but Ellis would take every precaution. He's no murderer, though. He likes to do things quietly." Sherlock studied the printed email before him, frowned, and tapped his arm twice with a frenzied fervor.
Lestrade knew, as they took a cab outside Devon's city limits and into Dartmoor, that it might be necessary to hold him back. The most intelligent man the world would know, but stupid when he got it into his head that he was to blame. And it was easiest to blame when the kidnappers had accosted and stolen Doctor Watson from under Sherlock's nose. Lestrade thought he could be forgiven there, at least because it had been foggy and at night. Should have been more cautious, though.
"Are you sure Doctor Watson is out here?" Lestrade squinted into the bright sunlight of midday, harsh on the shrubs and hills of the moorland.
"Yes," Sherlock said tautly, brows furrowed resolutely. "Outside of Widecombe. He is not dead."
He'd been hoping for a holiday. Only a quick one-if only to Colchester, then so be it. Not from Sherlock-he did not want to run from Sherlock. The thrill of the chase, the manic glean in his eyes, the man's body strung out as tight as a string on his own violin-John could not, would not, give it up for the world. Not even to satisfy his own need for security.
But then Mr. Sherlock Holmes, world's only consulting detective, had come bounding into the flat, grin as wide as the sky, and he'd given up all hope of broaching it.
What if Sherlock did not come? Even with Sherlock's stunning brilliance, near omniscience, could he find him? John, himself, did not know his current location. His only clue rested in an assumed basement somewhere in Devon-but maybe not even there-in a seemingly empty house without windows in the room. Trapped.
"Shut up," he told himself. Sherlock would come. He always did, perhaps late, when John came scrambling, soaking and sputtering, from the Thames, or after a gunman had chased him through the back alleys of London for far longer than necessary. But he came, at times with London police in tow, at times just him, stark against John's fear or irritation, a Byronic figure bursting from the Hunt. Never a glimmer of worry, only satisfaction, but it was enough that Sherlock Holmes appeared anyway.
A droplet plopped onto his nose. He coughed twice.
When they arrived in the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Lestrade swore Mr. Sherlock Holmes was going to have a hemorrhage. He nearly jumped from cab, forcing Lestrade to pay the high fee, and almost lost the man within moments after. He watched the consulting detective dash down one of the many small hills and stop at a brook, where he looked to check the email once again. Lestrade himself had not seen anything in it other than a piss-angry letter toward an employer (Ellis) that Sherlock had intercepted. Somehow, Sherlock took it as directions.
"So where's he?" Lestrade gasped as he halted at the taller man's side. Sherlock ignored him, typical fare, and glanced wildly about the area. His eyes searched the face of each mousy-colored building, and Lestrade began to feel more confident with the whole thing, when Sherlock's brow scrunched into an unmistakable frown.
"They mention a 'barn' but nothing further. They may have mistaken an abandoned home for one, but that leaves very little description. They would have chosen one far from the main road but could have chosen a particularly hidden one."
"Let's ask around, then," Lestrade proffered.
"There is no time, Lestrade," Sherlock enunciated each word behind gritted teeth, and Lestrade believed that it was the first time he had seen Sherlock Holmes unsure.
John was a soldier. He'd seen men fall before his eyes, had them die in his arms, watched them discharged from duty with eyes as if they already were. Sherlock had helped with that-he didn't really need the cane, hadn't needed it, he was grateful to him, he guessed.
No, he was. And maybe he'd never get to tell him that.
Shivers racked his body, forced his teeth a-chattering, and John knew that a chest cold was unavoidable, pneumonia probable, if he were in this freezing, drowning hell any longer. Time. He did not know the time. He did not know how long he had been down there, whether it was night or day, if it was raining, if he had made up his whole life in a fevered dream and was really lying in a coma somewhere, hospitalized.
"No, that's stupid," John said fiercely or as fierce as he could manage, for every syllable came out stuttered. He pulled his knees to his chest, rested his forehead against them, and cradled his hands against his chest.
If Sherlock never found him, he at least hoped he had been useful to the detective. He thought he had-by sharing rent with skulls and various illegal poisons, chasing down murderers in the middle of the night, buying milk and bread and takeaway.
His heart beat desperately in his chest, a prisoner trying to escape its cage, and told himself to man up. He had to search the place again.
They ran about three houses, two vacated for the joys of a sunny winter day, without snow to hinder and only wetness to consider. Lestrade welcomed his two layers and wondered how Sherlock could stand the single coat, one scarf, and thin pair of gloves.
"Easy. Ignore it," Sherlock responded to his thoughts, sending a jolt through Lestrade's body and forcing him to heave a heavy sigh. He should be used to it by now. They passed the third, saw a woman getting out of her car, and Sherlock determined within seconds that it was inhabited too often to be John's prison. How he knew, Lestrade could not begin to guess, but he trusted the man's brilliant mind.
At the fourth, farther and farther from the Widecombe church and further into the wild moors, Sherlock knocked on the door. Lestrade rebuked him immediately, but the door opened and thereafter a lost Scottish man and his uncle grilled the Dartmoor native on the abandoned sights of the area. He could hear the young woman titter about tourists as she shut her door, having mentioned knowing a few a ways into the moor, pointing in its general direction, and Sherlock took off like a firecracker.
"I'm too old for this," Lestrade said beneath his breath and trundled on after.
Nothing. He bruised his knee-could feel it blossoming-again on the crate to his left, ran his hands along the perspiring stone walls, half-crawled across the floor, feeling for any groove, any change in weight. He wanted a door, a latch, anything. No, what he wanted was light, even if it was only a flicker. Nothing. He fought the tears that pricked, clamped down on his bottom lip until he could taste blood, and leaned against a chunk of cold metal. His right hand brushed a tire, which he knew instinctively by the indentions, and called it a tractor.
If Sherlock were there, he'd tell him the year, the age, the type, who had bought it, what it had last hauled. If Sherlock were there, he'd know where the hell he was.
"It's probably a farmhouse," John said loudly, if only to hear something else besides the sound of dripping water and his own breathing. No rats, so far, and for that John was sincerely grateful. He coughed hoarsely, could feel the wetness in his lungs, despised his helplessness in the face of peril.
"I'm going to die," he said, quieter, and hated that he felt it.
Dartmoor had its charm, but Lestrade did not see it. Thought it was a strange combination of desert and tundra, or at least what he'd seen of them on nature programmes, and kept stubbing his toes on unseen rock. Sherlock, always contrary, glided through the land as if he were skating on ice. At Sherlock's age, Lestrade still would have fallen twice.
What did the doctor see him? Well, beyond his impressive deductions and forcedly polite exterior. He often insulted the ex-soldier more than he complimented him, although he supposed the doctor received more than most, and rather used him than shared space. Doctor Watson was too good a man for him, Lestrade was certain.
He wondered if Sherlock knew this.
"Stop," Sherlock insisted, holding a hand up without turning around. Lestrade did as he was told, only because he saw what Sherlock did, a collapsing farmhouse hidden beneath the shadow of a gleaming, granite tor. It had the same shape as any of the others in Widecombe and obviously abandoned. It did not take a genius to realize it as the perfect place to hide someone.
"John," he heard Sherlock hiss in the silence, and in that moment, began to think that Sherlock did.
John dozed several times. This ruined his sense of time, for he would start, wide-awake, and stare into the oppressive darkness confused and drowsy. He was exhausted from shivering, and the longer he sat, the more he wished to get out. Get out, get out, get out. But there was nowhere to go. Sherlock was not coming. He was going to die there, alone, a path with which Harry had threatened him in several of her drunken rants. These thoughts fuzzily began and ended as drifted in and out of wakefulness. But then he heard a noise.
He wasn't so sure of it, at first. He thought he was dreaming it. And then he heard it again, and louder, and realized it was a pounding on the walls. He shot straight up, ignored his stiff joints, and forgot his blindness as he looked around desperately for its source. Something muffled broke into the silence, and John stumbled toward the sound, to his right, and laid his ear on the wall.
"I'm here!" he screamed. "I'm in here! Please help!" He shouted this several times until his words caught on a cough, and he went tumbling into a fit that burned his lungs. Another mumbled cry and the sound of splintering wood, and something went flying by him. He never saw it though-all he saw was light. Blinding, bright, welcoming light, that left him blinking and straining and grinning like a drunken idiot.
It did not cross his mind, not until that very moment, that his rescuers might not be saviors. But he was blinded, still blinded, and could not run, although he was about to try.
"John!" Sherlock's voice stopped him before he could move. Lestrade's own call followed, but he barely perceived it, for as his eyes adjusted to the light, a vision of dark lines and sharp corners stepped into the room. John coughed over a gasp of relief and then coughed unwillingly again.
"I don't see how you can get kidnapped twice in one week, John. It must stop," Sherlock said abrasively. He could have insulted John's mother in that moment and it would have been music to his ears.
"I wonder if someone has any fault in that..." Lestrade mumbled from the hole in the wall-the door? How had he missed it?-but John could not make him out in the glare.
"Sorry." He was supposed to retort something witty, he knew this, but John's brain had all but frozen, and he was too glad to reproach the currently, very beautiful idiot. Sherlock seemed to frown. John realized his eyes were beginning to hurt, looked away, focused his eyes on the dark a bit, and felt a hand lightly touch his elbow.
"Let's go, John," Sherlock whispered. And so they did.
Doctor Watson trembled like a wet dog on his way out of the abandoned farmhouse. The place was owned by Peter Ellis, according to Sherlock, who had explained this before they broke the door down. The man had apparently used it as a common hiding place for the bodies of victims from families that would not pay. Lestrade found this out the hard way, remaining behind to search the area, when he opened a crate and spied a broken skeleton within.
"Evil bastard," Lestrade muttered to himself as he closed its lid and shuffled out of the house. Onto the local police, where they would have to call in the fuller Devon department, and then he could head home and get a warm cup of coffee.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson were waiting by the road, John coughing all the while, and Sherlock chastising him by way of "stupidity" and "being a doctor." As if Sherlock expected Doctor Watson to ignore the chill as he was certain Sherlock would have done. But the look on his face said enough, and more, perhaps, because Sherlock Holmes had no heart, really. Cared not a whit about anything but his work and maybe John Watson.
"We've got a bit of a walk, Doctor. You think you can make it?" Lestrade greeted, and Sherlock glared, unhappily interrupted, without a thank-you to be had for Lestrade's gracious help.
"Y-Yeah." John smiled thinly.
"Of course he will," Sherlock insisted, and they turned onto the road together.