"What do you mean, vanished?" hissed Mycroft, his icy eyes vivisecting Dr. Jamerson.
The man stared at him in something akin to trepidation.
"I mean, he's gone. No one knows where."
Mycroft slammed his fist on the doctor's desk, appearing every inch a vengeful god. "How did this even happen? Good God, man! Don't you have measures in place to prevent this sort of thing? I mean, he. . . he couldn't have walked out by himself. Not in the state he was in. Someone must have. . ."
Dr. Jamerson sighed. "I swear, no one has any idea. The cameras in his ward were offline for five minutes at the most. He was there, and then he was gone."
"That is unacceptable!" fumed Mycroft.
"I agree, and I will take full respons -"
"Damn right you will," spat Mycroft. "And believe you me, if anything has happened to him, anything at all, you will never work another day in your life."
The first thing Sherlock noticed was the smell. Musty, damp. Old basement, perhaps.
He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the half-light. He appeared to be in an old operating room, judging by the cabinets against the wall and the half-decayed linoleum that clung to the floor in patches like leprous skin.
He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. But whatever he'd been given, it was potent.
This must be what being normal feels like, he mused. Everything's so slow.
"You're awake," crooned a soft voice from behind him. "Good. I was beginning to worry I'd given you too much."
"Who. . . Who are you?" he rasped.
The voice chuckled. "Only a cog in the machine, I'm afraid. Just like you."
The pale-haired man leaned over his face. He looked even stranger upside down, like the subject of a surrealist painting. His green eyes flashed in amusement as Sherlock tried to head butt him, choking abruptly on his neck restraints.
"You really are an amazing creature, Mr. Holmes," crooned Dr. Lewis. "Anyone else would have lost the will to fight long ago. It's such a shame we've had to break you. You are a lovely one. . ."
He stroked Sherlock's cheek with the feathery tips of his pale, bony fingers.
"Leave me alone!" snarled Sherlock. "Please. . ."
The man shook his head, smirking slightly.
"I'm afraid I can't do that. I have my orders. And you're hardly finished yet, my little creature."
He leaned over again, biting at Sherlock's lower lip. The young man whimpered slightly at the contact, his mind racing.
"You will be the loveliest present when we're done," murmured Dr. Lewis, reaching a hand down to caress him.
Then he pulled away, vanishing from sight.
Sherlock gasped, a single tear breaking free from his bloodshot eye and flowing in feather-tickles down the bridge of his nose.
I was supposed to be safe.
The phone call startled Mycroft out of a deep sleep. He moaned angrily, nearly knocking the phone to the floor in his clumsy grappling.
"Hello?" he groaned, willing himself awake.
"Holmes? It's Detective Sergeant Peters."
"Peters?" Mycroft yawned. "When did you get promoted?"
"Last week, sir. It wasn't in the papers or anything. Lestrade finally made Inspector."
Who the hell is Lestrade?
"Anyways, sir, that's not why I'm calling. There's been a murder."
No. No, please. Not Sherlock.
"And. . . And why are you calling me?" he asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
"DI Lestrade thinks you'll be able to help identify the remains, sir. Says you know. . .er. . .knew him."
Oh, God, no.
"I'll be right there."
The body, or what was left of it, lay on the cold slab of the mortuary. Mycroft did not have a weak stomach, but even he had to turn away from the sight at first.
The man in question had been eviscerated, his intestines coiled about his neck, leaving his abdominal cavity mostly bare. There was an object shoved in his mouth that Mycroft identified with a new wave of nausea as the man's scrotum. The rest of his genitals were missing.
Even with this brutal mutilation, Mycroft could clearly identify the aquiline nose, the austere brow, the slender cheekbones.
The man he'd been hunting. The one who had tortured countless young women, and Sherlock most recently. The face of evil, in his honest opinion. And a man whose breath should have been stopped a long time ago.
"Where was he found?" Mycroft managed.
"Down the Tube. Curious thing. He was pinned to a service tunnel wall with railway spikes. Them's what did a number on his hands," added the coroner, smiling grimly. "Someone didn't like your friend here much."
Mycroft nodded. "He's not my friend. He's my former employer."
And he deserved everything he had coming to him.
He smiled slightly.
At least someone made him pay for what he'd done. Now perhaps we can start again.
"One other thing, sir."
"Hmm?" He stared up at Peters, his reverie broken.
"This was found in his shirt pocket."
He handed Mycroft a note, written hastily on Rhylstone's personal stationary. He paled as he read it through the evidence bag.
Happy Anniversary, Mycroft dear.
He stared at the note in shock.
"Well, creature," crooned Dr. Lewis as he leaned over Sherlock's torso, scalpel in hand, "I think it's time we get to know each other better, don't you?"
Sherlock shuddered, steeling himself against the pain that would surely follow.
Mycroft. Please. Help me.
"Mmm. . ." mused the doctor, his eyes narrowing. "You still think your brother will save you, don't you?"
Sherlock stared up at him, his storm eyes fierce. "I trust him. He will come for me. He always does."
The doctor clicked his tongue, casting a look of pity at the boy as he gently cut into the tender flesh of his collar.
Sherlock barely repressed a cry of agony as he curved the scalpel around his collarbone, drawing necklaces of blood.
"Don't you understand? This is all his fault. You wouldn't be in pain if not for him. He did this to you."
No. No, that's a lie. Mycroft, please.
He was no longer so sure.