AN: Hey there! This is the next story in my Sherlock whump series, the first being 'Strangulation,' though you don't need to read them in order. Again, this story was inspired by Series 1, Episode 2, 'The Blind Banker' and the interesting interaction between Sebastian and Sherlock. In case you don't quite remember, Sebastian was the banker who hired Sherlock to investigate the break in that set off the investigation; he emailed Sherlock on the pretext of asking an old friend for help, and was willing to pay handsomely for our favorite detective's advice. Here are quotes from the episode (which belong to Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and the BBC and NOT to me) which you might like to read to see where I'm coming from:

Sebastian: "Sherlock Holmes!"

Sherlock: "Sebastian."

Sebastian: "How are you buddy? Eight years since I last… clapped eyes on you."

Sherlock: "This is my friend John Watson."

Sebastian: "Friend?"

John: "Colleague."


Sebastian: "Right, you're doing that thing. We were at uni together, this guy here had a trick he used to do-"

Sherlock: "It's not a trick."

Sebastian: "He'd look at you and tell you your whole life story."

John: "Yes, I've seen him do it."

Sebastian: "Put the wind up everybody. We hated him. Come down to breakfast in the formal hall and this Freak would know who you'd been shagging the previous night."

Sherlock: "I simply observed."


Sherlock: "They've got it wrong Sebastian, he was murdered."

Sebastian: "Well, I'm afraid they don't see it like that-"

Sherlock: "Seb."

Sebastian: "And neither does my boss. I hired you to do a job. Don't get sidetracked."

John:"I thought bankers were all supposed to be heartless bastards."

This is going to be full of a lot of angst, hurt and comfort, friendship, light John/Sherlock and a bit of growing up for the younger Holmes. The story is RATED for some STRONG LANGUAGE and VIOLENCE.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own Sherlock Holmes; the original idea belongs to Arthur Conan Doyle and the re-make I'm playing with belongs to the BBC, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. All original ideas, storylines and characters are mine, so do not steal.

Hope you enjoy it!

"Seb!" John's voice, raised and incredulous, rang loudly in the living room of 221b. Sherlock glanced up from his experiments, frowning at the doctor who'd turned to look at him.

"Sebastian, when we were trying to convince him Van Coon's death wasn't suicide, you called him Seb."

Sherlock flushed a little. Of course he knew why this was relevant, and from the sounds of it, John had realized it too, but he'd been rather hoping his friend (colleague, an irritating thought corrected him in John's voice) wouldn't have picked up on it. Trying for an air of nonchalance, and staring very hard at the thumb he was incising, Sherlock replied, "yes, and?"

John stood, moving so he was standing right next to his friend, his shadow falling over the dismembered thumb, his aftershave filling Sherlock's nostrils. Clearing his throat a little and setting down his scalpel, Sherlock straightened, taking advantage of his height to look down at the little doctor. John met his gaze, his dark blue eyes holding an oddly determined light. For the first time, Sherlock experienced what it was like to be analysed by someone other than his brother. It was even less pleasant than he thought it would be.

"Sebastian wasn't your friend." Sherlock smiled a little, exhaling, ignoring the faint pain in his chest. "He wasn't because he was an asshole," Sherlock chuckled, "and because, before you met me, as I am told by everybody, you didn't have friends." Sherlock nodded again, ignoring that pain, again, and opened his mouth to make some witty comment about deduction, but John beat him to the punch. "But Sherlock, strangers, or acquaintances, they don't call each other by nicknames. Certainly not when they need something. And you called him 'Seb'. Like a friend would. So…would you please explain? Because although the obvious explanation is that he was your, well, your friend, I've a funny feeling I've not got all the facts."

There was a strange expression on John's face now, it took Sherlock a few moments to place it. Concern. The detective felt a little ill. This was hardly a path he'd ever planned on looking back on and he didn't feel that John would back down quickly. God he hated these sorts of conversations. At least Mycroft had the courtesy of being open about how much he disliked them. John seemed almost…interested.

"Well, it's irrelevant now John. Life goes on and all that. There'll be work to do before long and I can't go getting distracted." It was a shot in the dark. Sherlock knew John wasn't letting this go, and John knew he knew it.

So instead of making some exasperated comment about the importance of social interaction, John gestured for Sherlock to follow him to the lounge with a small smile. "Well, we've not got any work right now. It's the perfect time for distraction. And I think this is important. Humor me."

Sherlock sat in his usual chair with the distinct feeling of being a deer trapped in headlights. John leaned back, folding his arms, and titled his head to the side, still smiling at his friend with that gentle expression. Sherlock resisted the urge to shudder. "I suppose you'll want me to start from the beginning?"

John inclined his head in that soldier's way of his, gave a gesture with his hand. "Sure."

"Well, you'll have heard Sebastian mention we were at university together. I…was hardly the most popular student. Not that I cared, of course. I've never been particularly concerned with other's opinions, and this was no change. I confess I was somewhat…disappointed that the gifted and talented I'd been looking forward to meeting since Mycroft had started homeschooling me were…not quite as gifted, or talented, or…well, kind, as I'd hoped.

"I was a freak, just as I had been everywhere else. But then, it wasn't entirely new. And I had my studies, new ideas, though they quickly grew old, I could normally find something different to learn; the copyright library was my haven, and if I wasn't there I was in my room or the labs, reading, writing and experimenting. I made a quite elementary mistake, however. You see, in my first few weeks I'd deduced," John blinked, he'd never heard his friend refer to his extradordinary ability with such bitterness, " my way out of any hopes of a relationship, platonic or otherwise with just about anyone in my university. I was lonely, therefore, but loneliness wouldn't kill me. The problem was that as little as I needed to, I did occasionally need to eat. Sebastian mentioned us going to breakfast. Once word got out about my deductions, people started coming to me with requests, you can imagine: 'Is my boyfriend/girlfriend cheating on me/ Did such and such steal from me/ What's going on with this person, etc etc. Mostly I ignored them, much as I do now. But…my burlier clientele were a little more difficult to deal with.

"You see, inevitably, I would get a beating if I co-operated with them, because I could rarely bear anything other than bad news, and I would be beaten if I didn't co-operate. My nose was broken, teeth were punched out, ribs, wrist, knee cap, shin, on a particularly brutal occasion. Plenty of bruises. I took to wearing turtle neck jumpers, and continued to spend most of my time in my room. I also took to avoiding meals, literally locking myself into my room. And even then, occasionally it wasn't quite enough They'd come at midnight, with cricket bats and hockey sticks and fists. It was all quite ridiculous." Sherlock, whose voice had become lower and quieter and more bitter with each mention of what he'd been through, suddenly scowled, forcibly bringing himself out of it with self deprecating humor. John raised his eyebrows, his knuckles white and jaw tense with concern and anger on his friend's behalf, but he said nothing.

"It's irrelevant. Sorry John, tangent. Anyway. One day, one particularly well built, pig headed boy by the name of Mike Yarlett broke into my room at 2 O'clock in the morning. He didn't have any friends with him. Just a knife. He wanted to know whether his girlfriend had been cheating on him. Well, he had a face like the back end of a horse and she was one of the most promiscuous women I'd ever met. I'd known for a long time the answer to this question. My dilemma was what to do. Tell him the truth, he'd be enraged. Tell him I didn't know, he'd know I was lying considering my stupid, arrogant display in the first few weeks. So I was left to my last option. Lie, and buy my time to prepare before he found out the truth. So I did.

"Naturally, it was not that simple. As it turned out, he found out later that day that I had lied when she sent a particularly explicit message to his phone addressed to another. I was unaware of this, and while I was shaken by the events of the night, such practice was not uncommon, and I believed I had a day or two to myself. Having been discovered unconscious a week previous from malnutrition, I was obliged to attend every meal. I knew I would see him. I did not expect him to grab me by the hair and drag me out of the college to a nice little back alley where he proceeded to beat me. I did try and fight back, but if you bear in mind the malnutrition and the fact that I was not particularly sporting, while he was taller than me, more muscular, in perfect condition being a sportsman and fuelled by rage, then it's clear he had the advantage. By the time he pulled his knife, he'd cracked three ribs, broken one, dislocated my left arm, broken the fingers of my right hand, broken my nose, given me concussion and shattered my ankle. He then proceeded to stab me repeatedly, before carving a quick signature on my chest." Sherlock's hand moved of it's own accord to a point just above halfway where John could only assume the 'signature' still lay. Sherlock took a deep breath. His voice had remained steady throughout his unflinching narrative, but there was something, something deeply bothered by what he was saying in his eyes and the pallor of his skin.

"After that he left me to die. Well, that sounds dramatic. I was able to call for an ambulance after passing out once or twice. It was a chilly night, and I had begun to suffer the onset of hypothermia, but they got there, took me to the hospital, and within a few months I was good as new." Sherlock's voice was forcibly light, and John in return forced himself to be calm, trying not to imagine the manifold ways in which he wanted to kill Mike Yarlett.

He paused, unsure if he ought to interrupt, but Sherlock had already caught his look, and he gave a small nod. "So, his…signature?" John felt a little sick at having to say it. Sherlock said nothing for a moment, simply studied his friend with those brilliant, slate and rain and quicksilver eyes.

He unbuttoned his shirt efficiently, exposing the scars on his chest. Scars forming a word, which shouted mockery in faint pink tissue over the astonishing white of Sherlock's skin. John bit down on the inside of his cheek. Sherlock was staring at the ceiling, and he continued to do so when John stood, moving over and hesitantly reaching out to trace the air above the letters.


John swallowed, trying not to be distracted by Sherlock's lean, lithe, beautiful torso, even marred as it was by Yarlett's signature (he was straight remember, straight, very, very….). "So, every time Sally says - ?"

Sherlock dropped his head back down to meet his friend's horrified gaze. "Oh, she doesn't know. And it's not a new wound. People call me this all the time." He said it with a studied apathy that John realized quite abruptly was utterly fabricated.

Without really thinking about it, thinking that this was Sherlock and he was half dressed (so maybe he did consider that) and that maybe this wasn't what the detective wanted or needed right now, John threw his arms around his friend, burying his face in his shoulder. Because damnit, he needed it. After a stiff, awkward moment Sherlock patted John's back like a small child, unsure exactly what to do and imitating what they'd seen their parents do in similar situations.

"John, are you alright? I, uh, I wasn't quite finished. I don't have to – "

John leapt away like he'd been burned, blinking quickly. "Nope! I want to hear all of it. Go on, please. But, just before you do, Sherlock." Impulsively John took Sherlock's hand, holding it tightly. "Before you do, Sherlock, you are not a 'freak'. " Sherlock opened his mouth to object but John gave him a stern look and continued. "No. You're not. You're odd, sure. You have a weird obsession with body parts and serial killers, which isn't quite run of the mill. Doesn't make you a freak. You don't eat or sleep for days on end and you have a pet skull. You are able to deduce almost everything about a person from something ridiculous, like their collar or their watch or their eyebrows. Which, excepting your brother, and he doesn't count, is utterly unique. Doesn't make you a freak. You have…trouble empathizing with others, and socializing, and you don't always get emotions. But you have them. I'm sure of that. And you, Sherlock Holmes, are a genius. Not a freak. A genius." John squeezed Sherlock's hand, and the black haired detective simply stared at him, eyes dancing over his features, thin lips curled unconsciously in a soft, soft smile, eyebrows nearly reaching his hairline. He let go of John's hand, but not before hesitantly brushing his thumb over the other man's knuckles in a remarkably affectionate gesture.

He cleared his throat as a flush made its way over his cheekbones, and John smiled a little, glancing away and moving back to his customary chair.

"No one's ever said that to me before. Thankyou." For a moment, silence, warm and reassuring from John, simply astonished from Sherlock, hung gently in the air. Then Sherlock cleared his throat, sitting up and doing up his shirt. "Ah, anyway. It wasn't long before Mycroft found out. He came to visit, bought me my scarf. Said something about this being bad for his reputation. The next thing I knew, Mike Yarlett was jailed for life in a particularly unsavory Indian prison." Sherlock took a deep breath, frowning a little, dexterous, slender fingers fiddling with a button on his shirt.

"I disliked the boy. Obviously. But. Well, Mycroft has always been colder than me. I couldn't quite believe that he had lost his life, because really, he had, and much more, because of me. I felt oddly…burdened by it. Dirty. Every morning in hospital after I found out I'd wake up and see his face, ugly and angry and desperate. I'd imagine his cell, and the heat, and the smell and the hopelessness. I felt as if I'd been involved in a murder and it was distinctly uncomfortable. It was not the death that bothered me so much, I imagine you know me better than that. But the disproportion of the thing, the gross miscarriage of justice I felt so intimately involved with. Breaking rules, bending them I can deal with. I enjoy it. But this…this was wrong. So I resolved not to let it happen again. Or at least, if it did, not to let Mycroft find out.

"So at last we come to Sebastian's part in the story. My apologies for having taken so long to get there. You have to understand though, I had to find a way to make the beatings stop. Not for my own sake, I'm sure I would have figured out some way to survive. No, because every time there was a chance Mycroft would find out, and I didn't want him getting involved. I suppose I was protecting my bullies, though at the time it didn't look like that. More like a way of manipulating those around me to suit a picture of the world I was happy with. There was no way I personally could diffuse the hatred around me, it would only add fuel to the fire. So instead I began to deduce who would have enough social weight to at least re-direct it, dilute it a little. I had four candidates, one of them being Sebastian. It wasn't long before I got the dirt I needed on him. Not only was he having two separate affairs, he also regularly paid a girl two years below us for the, ah, use of her body. I collected enough evidence – pictures, a phone with incriminating texts he thought he'd lost, even DNA samples, and one day I confronted him.

"My proposition was really very simple. In exchange for my keeping my discoveries quiet, he would be my…friend. Nominally anyway. He would use his social abilities and his money to keep me relatively safe, defend me, allow me to sit next to him in meals…and I would say nothing about his crimes. He agreed, of course, as it turned out, he had far more to hide than I had known yet, including blackmailing one of the professors. Though it was obvious his task was somewhat distasteful to him, he took to it like a fish to water. He was a brilliant actor, and within a very short amount of time: 8 days as I recall, the beatings had stopped entirely. I was able to attend every meal, and instead of simply eating as fast as I could, I was invited into conversation. I still tried to say very little, more than aware of how inflammatory my observations could be. Naturally, he didn't refrain from the odd insult, stab below the belt, but honestly, I did consider him a friend, in my own way. You see John, you have to bear in mind that Mycroft had homeschooled me since primary, and I had never really had any social skills. Still don't I suppose. I didn't know what a friend was. Well, in theory, but not practice. Sebastian was the closest I'd ever had."

John frowned, thinking of the way Sebastian had spoken to them, the way he'd so casually tried to humiliate the detective, the way he'd talked about their peers' hatred of him with a chuckle, as though the persecution Sherlock had suffered was nothing more than he'd deserved. Mulling this over in his mind, combined with the new information he was being given, he listened quietly as Sherlock continued.

"However. It wasn't long before Sebastian figured out who held the real power in our 'friendship.' My peers were not as brilliant as I'd hoped, but neither were they stupid, and Sebastian was no exception. My blackmail, though on the surface a significant weapon, in fact held very little substance in the face of Sebastian's ever growing list of connections, and his money. On the other hand, he became aware of how utterly dependent I was on him and his support. Should he withdraw his hand, he had very little to lose in reality. To me, our arrangement was everything.

"He began to see me differently. Not as a threat but a, well, a commodity I suppose. Something to be bargained, to make money from. Something in demand, because I was, still, though Sebastian had largely dealt with my problems, people still wanted me to solve their problems. People are so paranoid, and if there was some way for them to validate or destroy those nagging suspicions, those niggling feelings bestowed on them by the senses they ignored and the half decent minds they barely used, well, apparently it was irresistible. Sebastian explained his plan to me, and as I saw it, I had little choice other than to comply without involving Mycroft. Sebastian began to…rent me out. Not like that," Sherlock added this hastily, seeing the look of horror and disgust on John's face. "No no not like that. Don't worry, I don't think any of our clients were ever particularly interested in my body. I don't believe most even saw me as human. It's fair enough. I'd always found humanity so tedious. I hope they didn't think I was human. Sebastian charged 20 pounds for a beating lasting 10 minutes with no major fractures. The least he'd charge for my deductive skills was 40 quid. The more complex the case, the more expensive. Damaging….me, added ten pounds per set of wounds. The most we ever made in one go was 140 pounds. After I'd done, I would go back to Sebastian's room. He'd give me 10% of the money, attend to my wounds as best as he could and give me a pint of beer. I'd thank him, before returning to my room." Sherlock's steady, deep voice trailed off a little on catching John's frankly disgusted, miserable expression, then the detective's silver-slate eyes danced away, focusing on his skull as he continued, speeding up a little in an effort to finish more quickly.

"Naturally, my skills were at his whim for his personal use. I ran errands for him, did his work occasionally, once or twice had to steal for him. But considering the chaos that had been the majority of my first year, I didn't consider it all that bad, and in time Sebastian would settle for a drink with me, or a cigarette. He got me a card for my birthday, the first time someone outside my family had done so. Unnecessary sentiment, but oddly pleasant. He'd laugh at my jokes, listen to my ideas. I doubt he understood most of them, but I began to appreciate Mycroft's bizarre obsession with people. They weren't so bad, when they weren't pulverizing you or humiliating you. I started to call him 'Seb', like I'd heard others do, without really thinking about it. With this fledgling…acclimatization to Sebastian in my life however, came a sort of discomfort when he continued to rent me out, let people pay him for my beatings. I was not really angry about it. I hadn't expected much better. But…oddly enough, he became reluctant too. More stringent about how much he charged for my wounds. More particular about his clients. He started sharing more of the profits with me. I think it was his guilt, or something like it. I can't understand why, I'd not done anything for him, our 'friendship' had stemmed from my blackmail.

"It couldn't last. Businesses as lucrative as that with as little legitimacy rarely can. A client came to Sebastian's door, one he couldn't turn away, a man called Roger Harding. He wanted to know who'd been cheating on his wife, and he paid extra in order to be allowed to rough me up a little if he thought I was lying. Sebastian couldn't turn him away, Roger was a lecturer and promised to kick up quite a fuss in the university about our little operation. The problem was that we both knew the other man who Roger's wife had been seeing was Sebastian. Oddly enough though, just before the time I was set to be meeting Roger, Sebastian sat down and made me a cup of tea, and he looked me in the eye and told me that he wouldn't make me lie. He wouldn't hold it against me. It was my decision. I'm not sure if he was deliberately manipulating me or not, but after that, well, I could do little else but lie, knowing what Roger would do should he discover the truth.

"That was the second time I was hospitalized for a major length of time since I'd started university. No knife this time. Just a lot of broken bones and a punctured lung. Sebastian came to visit me. He bought me a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of wine for us to share once I'd recovered a little. Mycroft came, and I had to beg him to leave Harding be. He didn't know the sort of trouble it would cause. Eventually, he agreed, on the condition that I would leave university. Clearly, it wasn't working out. Mycroft's people (he had minions by then) had already moved my things out. So when I was discharged from the hospital, I collected my things and got in a cab, heading for the motel outside town Mycroft had booked me into until I found somewhere a little more permanent. Just before we headed off I asked to go back to my college. I left the wine in Sebastian's pigeon hole, with a note saying I'd taken the cigarettes, and thankyou. I didn't see, or hear from him until his email about this break in. I suppose I'm not very surprised he was unconcerned. He'd always been rather shallow when it came to emotional attachments. And obviously, he didn't need anyone in his office finding about the true nature of our past relationship. He knew me and my cases well enough to know this would interest me. That was all he needed. I believe that's everything you could have possibly wanted to know, though the why defeats me." Sherlock cleared his throat, jumping out of his chair and putting something in the microwave before putting on the kettle.

For a few moments, John simply sat there, faintly shell shocked. Eventually he found his voice, though it was hoarse. "So when you called me your friend, and I said colleague…"

"I don't think he'd have considered the beatings to have been involved, but yes, I imagine he thought we had a similar arrangement to the one I'd had with him. It's a shame actually, I'd had the strangest urge to prove him wrong. Not that it matters now, tea?" Sherlock's voice was as impassive as ever. John wanted to scream and cry and punch something and be sick all at once.

He was angry, and upset about the way Sherlock had been used. About the way Sebastian had used him so thoroughly and distorted his perceptions of friendship, possibly forever. More than that, he felt guilty at having confused Sherlock all over again, not having stood up for him in front of his bully, not having done enough…After a moment, he stood, moving to the kitchen. Sherlock had made him a cup of tea anyway, which he gestured to on hearing John's footsteps draw near, not bothering to pass it to him, pre-occupied as he was with whatever was in the microwave.

John ignored the tea, moving a little closer and clearing his throat. After a moment, Sherlock turned away from the bowl in the microwave and gave him a look of exasperated irritation. "Yes?"

John didn't have the heart to be annoyed in return. "Sherlock, listen, this is important."

The detective frowned at him, mouth pursing as his eyes flickered over the Doctor's face, instantly on alert. John shook his head, trying to allay the wild suspicions he knew had already begun to fly through Sherlock's mind.

"No, not it's not to do with a case or anything like that. It's just, what you just told me-"

"Oh, that." Sherlock looked distinctly uncomfortable, crossing his arms like a child who didn't want a topic to be broached.

"Sherlock, Sebastian wasn't your friend." Hurt and confusion danced over Sherlock's face all too apparently, and John felt an ache in his heart for his friend. Brilliant as he was in most areas, in social matters he was still very much a child. John was consumed with the overwhelming urge to protect him, to help him. If he gave himself a moment, he'd probably realize it went deeper even than that, but right now, he was not important, Sherlock was. "Sebastian may have been the closest thing you had…and God, Sherlock I'm sorry for that, because you didn't deserve it. Everyone deserves friends. And maybe you don't need people as much as the rest of us, or tell yourself you don't, but you did and you do need someone, and I wish I'd found you sooner. Listen, I'm your friend, ok? And yeah, I'll get annoyed with you from time to time, but I care about you. I enjoy your company. I would rather be hurt myself than let you get hurt, because it upsets me. I certainly wouldn't accept money from someone so they could beat you. I would never use you, like he did. I'm your equal." He grinned a little at Sherlock's barely concealed scoff. "Ok, ok, maybe not on a deductive level, but I don't consider you any less human than I am. I think you're funny. I think you're brilliant. I think you're completely mad sometimes, and I think you're a bit more vulnerable than you'd like people to think. I like you, and I've got your back, ok? Just like you've got mine. Friendship…well it's kind of complicated to explain, and I guess our friendship is a little unusual in itself, but, basically…friendship is about looking out for each other, about caring what happens and sticking up for each other. Not because of blackmail or money or convenience, but because you care for and respect that person, and you know they care for and respect you in return. Do you…do you understand?" The words felt alien in John's mouth addressed to Sherlock, but he felt they were necessary considering the puzzled expression the detective was giving him, as though he'd just presented him with a particularly complex crime.

After a minute or so, Sherlock nodded slowly. Then he tilted his head to the side, studying the slightly smaller man before him, with his military haircut and his kind eyes and the tan that hadn't quite faded. "We're…friends?"

John nodded, smiling. "I hope so."

"Good." Sherlock still seemed a little stunned, and he shifted awkwardly from one foot to another. "That's good, ah-" He was saved by the proverbial bell from any more display of sentiment when the microwave behind him beeped. Quickly he turned to it, taking out a bowl of something that looked suspiciously like blood, and John rolled his eyes, picking up his paper and going back to the lounge.

Later, after Sherlock had rushed out in a madcap whirlwind of scarf and coat and bowl of congealed blood shouting something about Bart's, John received a text.

He put down the knife he'd been about to butter his sandwich with, glancing about for his coat in case it was Sherlock and he was needed. To his surprise, it was Mycroft.

John. Just watched conversation about Sebastian etc. Surprised Sherlock hasn't taken out our latest surveillance yet. Was not aware of full situation. Will not do or say anything, though trust you will discuss the issue with a certain banker. I do not want to see my little brother in that state again. Please help him heal.

-Mycroft Holmes

Attached was a picture, clearly taken not long after Harding's attack. Sherlock was in a hospital bed. He was thinner than he was now, which John hadn't thought possible, and his pale skin was marred by black and purple bruises, occasionally obscured by swathes of cotton bandages. An oxygen mask was set over his nose and mouth, and he was hooked up to an iv and a heart monitor. Next to his bed, though it was hard to make out, John could just see a bottle of wine and a packet of cigarettes. He took a deep breath. Then he grabbed his coat, slipped his phone in his pocket, and told Mrs. Hudson he'd be back in a few hours.

The next day, Sebastian came into work as immaculate as ever, suit expensive and freshly cleaned, hair gelled and combed, shoes shined...

Immaculate that is, expecting for the swelling black bruise that was squeezing his left eye shut, the blue and purple split lip, and the broken nose, taped and still dribbling a small amount of blood.

He brushed off the semi-concerned niceties of his colleagues and made his way to his office, checking the accounts and his emails. After a few minutes his secretary came again, a deliciously curvy girl who he'd hired for the added bonus of her exceptionally sharp mind.

"Sir, are you alright? It's just…it looks like you took quite a beating yesterday. Would you like to me to call the police?"

Sebastian smiled a little, though it hurt. "I doubt it would do much good, I've managed to make an enemy of the British government. Plus a Detective Inspector whose most likely to take the case, though apparently it's not in his division, or so I'm told. Then there's the world's only consulting detective whose wellbeing I managed to endanger, and last but not least, a former army doctor with an exceptional right hook."

Molly, his secretary, blinked at him once, torn between disbelief and simple confusion. In the end she scrapped both, nodding and turning on her heel. "Yes sir."

Sebastian chuckled a little to himself, then opened a draw in his desk. An empty bottle of cheap red wine lay there, rather conspicuous among his papers and stationary. Taped to it was a note scrawled in a lazy script. His eyes clouded as he regarded it, before he took out both bottle and note, throwing them in the bin.

"About time you got a real friend buddy."

Hope you liked it. Please do drop me a line with some feedback, and watch out for the next story in the whump series, Brother Ice (it will be rated M.)

Thankyou for reading!