-WARNING: Adult themes. Abuse triggers. Tread lightly-
The Broken Consulting Detective
His face was still, the bruises swollen on his cheeks despite the ice that had been applied to them. His youth showed when he slept, peace in his features that was never present when he was awake.
I'd stayed with him since it happened, sitting right beside him in the bed, letting him curl against my chest, waking him from nightmares that turned that vast memory palace black and made him cry in his sleep. It wasn't fair. Sleep was supposed to be such a pure thing, something that let his constantly working mind rest for a moment. Just awhile.
That while, actually, was three days now. Three days of sleep that he desperately needed. I woke him only to get some food in him, or in yesterday's case shower. Coaxing him awake always made my chest hurt. His crystalline eyes stayed bloodshot no matter the amount of rest he'd had, always so confused and…and terrified in those brief flashes before he recognized me. I held him, kissing his temples to keep him roused, talking to him, telling him what was about to happen. He didn't say anything back. He hadn't since I found him, save one word when he laid those same bright eyes dulled with pain and fiery with fever on me.
I got him into the shower, climbing in with him to wash his hair and the rest of him as gently as I could muster. He curled his arms to his chest, resting his cheek on mine, giving no reaction beyond a quiet sigh to show he wasn't afraid.
"I've got you, Sherlock," I said, voice light. "It's alright, I'm here." I got him dried off and back in bed, only having to wait ten minutes or so before he was lying against my chest again, nuzzling his nose into my sweater, closing his eyes again.
I think his mind wasn't letting him stay awake. I don't think it could handle the conscious thoughts that would no doubt haunt him the moment he stayed alert and lucid. Yes, the painkillers I was administering did keep him under for short periods of time, but this…this was his body's defense against trauma. I dreaded the day he came out of it.
And the nightmares. Lord, the nightmares. They came at any given time of day. He screamed and writhed and cried, never begging for mercy, but begging for me.
"JOHN! HELP ME! PLEASE, JOHN, DON'T LET HIM HURT ME ANYMORE! JOOOOHHHHNNNNN!"
I would finally bring him back to me, back to the safety of our flat, give him tea from Mrs. Hudson and rock him, letting him tremble against me, whimpering into my neck while he was curled in my lap like a small child. He mumbled and cried incoherently; the world's greatest consulting detective reduced to this, his mind not broken, just shut down for awhile.
It took another three days for him to stay awake for a full eight hours, in which he stared at the wall or out the window, never moving much, still not speaking.
I talked to him, though. Told him about the strange goings-ons in the paper, seeing if it piqued his interest. He still didn't bother with an answer.
On day twelve, he looked at me.
I took out some of the stitches that were ready, checking the ones that needed a little while longer, looking over the bandages, watching his face for signs of pain. He rarely showed any. "Are you going to talk to me some time soon?" He looked at me, recognition and even cognition of what I said in his eyes. I just looked at him, waiting very patiently for…for something. He looked at me, swallowing, pursing his lips a little, looking nervous. "You don't know?" I urged. He continued staring, still nervous, stagnant tears suddenly springing into his eyes. "Sherlock? Hey, shh, it's alright," I hugged him, smoothing his hair. "Shh, it's perfectly alright. You don't have to tell me anything, alright?" I said calmly. "Whenever you're ready is just fine." He nodded against my chest, sniffling.
What they must have done to him, I thought. What in God's name did they really do to break him like this? My Sherlock, my strong, witty, never-bothered-no-matter-the-horror-Sherlock was the same man as the one sobbing in my arms.
"It'll get better, Sherlock," I promised. "Just give it some time. You talk to me when you're ready, alright?"
On day twenty-three, I got a smirk.
I sat down at the edge of the bed, him staring out the window in the chair across from me, receded so far into his own hellish memories he didn't notice I was there.
I sat and read for a bit, rustling the paper to bring him back gently. He blinked, all the response he'd ever give in these recent weeks.
"Missing person," I began. "'Amelia Andrews, eighteen. Last seen three days ago speaking with her boyfriend that same night.'" I paused, letting him register what I'd said, letting it sink in. "What do you think happened?" He said nothing. I didn't really expect him to. I kept my pleasant smile, being patient. "Well, I think the boyfriend kidnapped her." I didn't, not really, I was baiting him. And I was rewarded. I saw it. A smirk. A small, faint little smirk at the corners of his mouth, the same slightly condescending look in his eyes that proved he knew better than me sparking if only for a moment.
He was still in there.
A few things happened on day thirty-four.
I'd fallen asleep in my chair in the living room by accident, laptop humming softly in my lap.
"John." The softest whisper probably ever uttered. However, the sound of his voice roused me instantly. He looked at me, eyes shifting around the room, meek and afraid, so afraid that someone would hurt him.
"You spoke," I smiled, trying to reinforce the good things. He said nothing, eyes still flicking from me to the room around him. "It's alright. Nothing's going to hurt you here, Sherlock. It's okay." I moved the computer onto the floor, folding it closed. The moment it was gone he was crawling in my lap, folding himself in a size I didn't know was possible, burying his face in my neck. "Nightmares wake you?" He nodded again. I smoothed his hair, kissing the top of his head. "Sherlock, I…I honestly have no idea what to do. I don't know if I'm helping you or—" He pressed his fingers to my lips, shaking his head. "What?" I said. He just looked at me, shaking his head again. "Am I helping?" He hugged me, confirming what I thought. That, and he wanted to be held.
"I love you," I whispered. "I still love you, Sherlock." Hoping for no tears was wishful thinking. I felt a few silent ones creep to my neck from his eyes, his lashes clinging together with the wetness. "It'll be okay. Just give it time. It'll be alright."
He didn't speak again. Not for a long time.
By day forty-six, I needed a little help.
"How is he?" I looked across the table at Mycroft.
"Better," I nodded.
"'Better'?" He scoffed. "Define, better."
"He's better than he was when I found him," I said, sighing, exasperated. "But…he won't speak. He only eats if I tell him to, he only moves if I ask him to. I just…I don't know what more I can do to get him back. He's still not…not Sherlock. I'll get glimpses of him every now and then but for the most part he's just…"
"Doesn't sound much different from how he is normally," he chuckled, hiding his own sadness about the ordeal.
"Mycroft, he's trapped in his mind, not the way he normally is, it's different now. He's being tortured with memories. And he remembers the smallest details of every single one. He's lost and I found him, but I don't know how to get him back quick enough to…to save him."
There was a pause, me looking at my tea, him trying to read my face. "I think I can help," he said quietly. "It's a long-shot, but it might work." He held out his hand, a worn, extremely battered book in his hands.
"Treasure Island?" I said, skeptical. He nodded and stood, tapping his umbrella on the floor.
"I told you what he wanted to be when he was young, didn't I?" He smirked. "I spent a better part of my childhood reading that to him. He could read by the time he was nearly three, but there was something about being read to…" He stared off, lost in sentiment for a moment. He cleared his throat. "Just sit down somewhere and start reading. You'll see." He turned and left without another word, that same girl lost in her phone as she followed him out.
He was screaming when I got home, tearing away from a frantic Mrs. Hudson, begging for me to free him from the prison of his mind. His face was red, choking on sobs, on my name, on his own breath. It took hours, not to wake him, but to convince him everything was alright, that he was safe and everything was okay.
He whispered incoherently all night. I rocked him, got him showered and in clean clothes, changed the sheets that were caked with blood and tears from his frenzy and thanked Mrs. Hudson a thousand times over for her patience and trying to help him.
"Bring him back, John," she said softly, smiling sadly. "I think you're the only one that can."
I held him, rocking him, kissing him, watching to make sure his nose didn't start bleeding again from stress. "Stay with me, Sherlock. It's alright. He can't hurt you anymore. Shh…"
He kept his eyes closed, mumbling incoherently into the night, eyes shut tight, hands over his ears. I ran my fingers through his curls, still not knowing what in God's name I could do to help him.
Day fifty I sat down on the bed, him in that same chair watching raindrops streak the windows, the book in my hands. I opened to the first page, cleared my throat, and started to read.
"Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentleman having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island…" I peered over at him, seeing if he'd registered it yet. He wasn't looking at me, but his head was cocked toward my voice, listening. "I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow…"
I kept reading. Slowly, he turned to face me, and even slower still, he sat beside me.
By that evening we were halfway done, resting against the pillows with his head on my chest. He smiled and even laughed once in awhile. I glanced at him every now and again, watching his face and his eyes, eyes that were becoming more focused, filling once more with that life I'd been looking for for almost two months now. My Sherlock.
At about midnight I sighed, rubbing my tired eyes, closing the book. He touched my arm, leaning up to kiss my cheek. "One more?" He asked quietly. I looked at him, exhausted, but smiling. He smiled back, just a little, pleading a little with those beautiful, sparkling blue pools.
"One more," I nodded.
Day fifty-three I woke to the sound of a violin singing in the next room.
It was as if someone had turned a light on, finding me in a darkness I had been unable to escape, the darkest of places my mind had cast me into. I was visited in that constant cold, unforgiving black by the only person I could trust would care for me. John. Of course it was John, I would accept comfort from no one else.
And it was when that light was turned on I truly, truly saw his face. His smiling face and gentle hands that loved me so much. If there was ever a shadow of a doubt about his feelings for me, they'd been utterly obliterated in this instance.
The only thing besides John's comforts that broke through was the memories of what was done to me.
"Come on, you and I both know you want it this way."
I remember the pain, the humiliation, the shame, the horrible violation, and every other tiny detail that my cursed senses were forced to take in.
"I'm surprised your doctor didn't take care of this already."
I didn't beg him for anything. I'd rather die before that happened. Any pleas or cries for mercy were for John and God if he was in fact listening. I know he knew that.
I will have to say his plan worked, to incapacitate me, render me useless, break me. I was broken, and I would have remained that way without John.
I would have to remember to tell Mrs. Hudson I was sorry for all the trouble. I'm sure explaining the noises to passerby and the café attendants was quite a chore.
My throat still hurts from screaming, my head aching from the relief of the constant throbbing it had gone through for the past few months. My joints ache and my eyes have been bloodshot for what I can assume has been a long time. The scars are set and deep, there to remind me and haunt me for the rest of my life.
His face was the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning, sun on his sleeping features, my face in his sweater. The light I needed to come out of the fog. I smiled, looking at his sweet face caught in a few rays of the early morning sun. I carefully eased myself out of his arms, trying not to tremble from the nightmares I'd just escaped from and keep him in that peaceful sleep away from the hell I'd created for him. I kissed his forehead, tugging the blanket over his shoulder and leaving the room.
I looked around a world I'd been absent from for so long, touching fabrics of the furniture, peering out the windows to see if London was still the gray, bustling place it had been. It was. My eyes finally came to a halt on an old friend.
The violin felt so familiar in my hands. I ran my fingers over the strings before putting the instrument into place, the bow flowing so freely it was as if I'd never left it.
I submitted to the music, letting my mind rest and focus totally on it, clearing it, giving me a moment's peace, just as it always had. I let instinct take over, causing my fingers to run rampant and burn against the friction, the bowstrings starting to fray the more intense the piece was growing, a piece strictly coming from absolutely nowhere; straight from an unconscious mind I wasn't about to fight.
I didn't notice John was there until I stopped.
His eyes were closed as he played, fingers moving rapidly, spinning notes into a song that I knew could only come from him. It was dark, sad…agonized with an underlying layer of hope. The smallest flicker of light. How he could tie all of that together was beyond me, but I wasn't about to stop him.
I watched him, peaceful and elegant, his thin fingers roaming deftly over the instrument, the world blocked out and gone as long as he was playing. I watched a tear slip from under his closed lid to his cheek. A measure later, the music changed entirely.
Now instead of the slow sadness there was anger, loud, intense fire that only boils deep inside of you. Fire itself blazed from his fingertips, filling the room, igniting fury in me that I hadn't noticed until now. The hope had turned to fight, igniting senses and burning anything that got in its way. It was drive, passion, and hatred.
It changed again. Slow, gentle notes flowed from his fingers, washing over the smoldering fire from before like a cool spring over a stone. I watched his shoulders relax, his breathing regulated and his features smooth from the previous anger. I wasn't sure of the emotion this was emitting, but it made me want to kiss him.
When he stopped his breath was shaking, fingers sore from lack of use as he gently set it down, facing away from me, his hands on either side of the music stand. I waited for him to move, to calm himself, to see what he would do next.
He turned, sensing I was there, recognition and a level of longing in his eyes. I had about three seconds before he was hugging me, clinging to me with a white-knuckled grip.
"John," he whispered.
"Thank you," he said, face in my neck, "for everything. And I, I'm sorry for putting you through—"
"Stop," I said firmly, tone soft. I looked up at him, smiling gently. "Don't apologize for something you didn't do." I touched his cheek, combing through his hair, so happy that he could really see me for the first time in ages.
"You saved my life," he said, voice wavering.
"What else was I supposed to do?" I chuckled. He smiled.
"I think having me institutionalized would have been easier." I shook my head.
"I knew you were in there."
He kissed me, hard and deep, holding my face as if I'd disappear on the spot. "I want you to know what happened," he said. I felt my heart clench, seeing how broken and pained he was at the thought of it.
"You don't have to do that. You don't owe me anything, Sherlock," I assured. He shook his head.
"After everything I put you through—"
"Stop it." Now I was kissing him, wishing he'd understand that he was never a burden to me, and he never would be.
"I want to tell you," he breathed. "I have to tell someone, John, or I'll…I'll die." I stroked his cheek, tracing those sharp cheekbones and feeling his eyes look into me instead of at me.
"All right," I nodded. "All right, if that's what you need."
I told him everything, spilling secrets and memories I never thought I'd utter to a live human being. I tried to stop when he started crying, but he wouldn't hear of it.
"I'm fine," he assured, holding my hand but not meeting my gaze. "I'm fine. Keep going, darling."
He called me darling.
I keep going, the words gushing out without censorship, without any sort of knowledge of what I'm actually saying, just knowing it's all the truth. Emotions slip into the phrases. Tears choke my words every now and then, sneaking up on me and escaping without my consent.
"…and then I opened my eyes, looking at you, bloody, broken and disgusting…thanking God you finally heard me. You untied me, covered me, whispered things to ease my pain. And all I could think was how I didn't want you touching me because of how absolutely filthy I am."
He thrust his hand out, grabbing my shoulder and yanking me toward him, off the couch and onto my knees in front of him and wrapped his arms around me so tight it was nearly suffocating. He sobbed, hard, kissing my cheek and my hair. I held him back, my lips quivering, tears forming rivers on my face. We said nothing, simply holding each other and crying.
"He can't have you," he gulped, shaking his head, holding me impossibly tighter. "That bastard can't have you. He can try to take you all he wants, but I won't let him." I shut my eyes.
Moriarty already did, John.
A dark part of my mind couldn't help but wonder what the title of this story would be on John's blog.
Not the Virgin Anymore seemed to be the most fitting.