The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender. -William Booth

Mycroft Holmes couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so apprehensive and excited at the same time.

The sleek black car hurtled through the December night, the interior so silent that the sound of rain lashing against the windows and drumming on the roof was amplified. When thunder exploded overhead, Mycroft actually jumped and clutched his umbrella handle until his knuckles whitened.

A strong hand touched him just above the knee, its fingers moving in soothing circles. "Relax," Gregory Lestrade murmured.

"I'm trying to. It's difficult."

"You're not sure what to expect. That's all."

Mycroft nodded and leaned back against the rich leather seat. It was true- he didn't know for certain what awaited him, and he'd refrained from finding out purely by choice. Because he loved and trusted the man whose leather-clad leg now pressed against his own.

"I think I'm bringing you to New Roissy just in time." Gregory slid an arm around his shoulders and drew him close. "You're as jumpy as hell."

"Talk to me," Mycroft said, closing his eyes. "Tell me more about this place."

His lover chuckled. "So now you want to know, eh?"

"Just enough to give me some hope."

Hope that I can finally learn how to surrender control, before the migraines get worse, my blood pressure increases, and Sherlock-induced stress brings on a heart attack.

He reached for Gregory's left hand and caressed the bronze ring adorning the pinky finger. When he'd first seen it, Mycroft thought the insignia was a coiled serpent. Now he knew it was a bullwhip intersected with a riding crop.

Days into their relationship, he'd deduced that the handsome DI belonged to a secret society. Gregory had volunteered no information about it, and Mycroft chose not to ask. The ring didn't represent any subversive groups he was aware of, and because his razor intellect could always deduce what Lestrade had eaten for lunch and what route he'd taken home, he allowed his lover the odd secret like this one. Little did he suspect that the ring- or to be precise, what it represented- would one day embody his salvation.

"It's a place where everyone will know you're mine, and how much I love you. You'll be told what to do and when. You'll learn to finally let go."

Mycroft laughed shakily. "Would you believe that I can't even imagine myself not being in control at all times?"

"Really? Because that's the situation now, love. Look around you."

Mycroft opened his eyes and took everything in. The car and its unfamiliar driver. The lonely country road, where government surveillance cameras were few and far between.

The handcuffs that secured his wrists.

At that moment the car turned left, into a hedge-lined laneway. Gravel crunched under the tires, and lights beckoned faintly at the end.

"We're here," Gregory said.