Chapter 12: My Kingdom for a Horse
Sherlock was aware that it was early morning, twenty days in captivity, twenty-one starving. He blinked, sleepy, unwilling to realize he was awake. He was lying on his side on the wooden plank, curled up into himself to keep warm. His back was damp from the stray raindrops the drizzling sky brought him. His dazed gaze alighted on the outline of Moriarty.
Despite the early hour, he was fully dressed in an impeccable dark navy Westwood suit, dress shoes, and black tie. His hair was slicked back, showing off his pale face and large, dark eyes. At his feet, luggage was packed, and Sherlock detected movement from somewhere behind him—Moran, no doubt. Moriarty was also holding an umbrella, leaning on it like a cane. "Sherlock," he whispered, "we'll meet again. I promise. I'm not done with you. We'll be seeing each other very soon."
Sherlock drifted out of consciousness again, only awake enough to hear Moriarty whisper to his companion: "is the cab here yet?"
What awoke Sherlock next was the clap of thunder. Surprised, Sherlock started, sitting bolt upright, the chains rattling as he did so, his eyes wide in the dark room. Sherlock scratched at his neck absently and looked around. It was impossible to tell the time, as the sun was obscured by the thunderclouds and his phone had died ages ago (besides, it was in his coat pocket—Sherlock was too weak to bother getting up for a phone), but he guessed it was probably about one in the afternoon. He wasn't quite sure if it was the twenty-first day still, or if he'd slept through and made it to twenty-two, but he was sure he didn't care.
Sherlock yawned, feeling his jaw crack with the effort, and leaned back against the wall. The rain was falling harder now, and it was splattering through both of the windows, making a puddle on one side and dampening his shirt on the other. Sherlock sneezed, then moaned, as the action hurt his broken ribs.
Suddenly, he heard a commotion upstairs. Too funny. How could he possibly be hearing things going on up there? He hadn't heard a peep from the rooms above for the entirety of his capture! Except in a dream. Sherlock frowned, and stayed put.
"Sherlock," whispered a voice.
Sherlock sat up. "Rose?" He questioned, so unsure if things were real that he couldn't trust what he thought was her voice.
"Yes. Over here."
Sherlock looked up and saw her standing before the bars. She had a backpack slung over one shoulder, and was dressed not unlike most respectable young women in London, with the addition of a raincoat. She smiled at him as he wobbled over to the bars to speak with her.
"Where are the others?" He demanded, his eyes flicking back and forth in agitation.
"Jim left early this morning. They all cleared out and left me here. I don't know why." Rose grabbed him through the bars, dared to rest her head under his chin. "I'm scared."
Sherlock blinked, reached a thin hand through the bars. Slowly, he was beginning to see what had happened. Moriarty had figured out Rose felt for the consulting detective, and had put her on his hit list. Rose was no longer safe in London. As a former Black Widow, she'd get little privacy from the press and the police. She needed to get out. At once.
"You need to go, Rose," Sherlock told her, hugging her to his chest, providing comfort he knew she needed. "Get out of London." But his voice was less than affectionate, a demand, and nothing more. The charade was over: he was making it clear he did not feel for her, without speaking it aloud, in order to keep from shocking her further. "Now, if possible. It's not safe. Moriarty's after you."
"I figured," Rose pulled away from him, her smile shaky. Sherlock noted that she was trembling, tears falling from her eyes. He smiled weakly and leaned forward.
"Don't worry," he whispered, "you'll be safe. I promise. He won't find you while I still breathe."
Rose nodded. "Okay. I trust you." There was a loud bang upstairs, which startled the two of them, a not so silent curse following shortly. "I'd better go. I won't be able to get away if they find me." Sherlock was just about to question Rose further about who exactly was upstairs when she kissed him on the cheek.
Momentarily stunned, Sherlock watched her retreating back with a silence he never thought possible: a silence inside his brain. Then, he concentrated on the noise upstairs. But it couldn't be…
"Search everywhere. This has to be the place. Bloody hell, I hope we're not too late." It was Gregory Lestrade! Sherlock would know his voice anywhere! But…it had to be a dream, a trap. Sherlock did not allow himself false hope…but he stayed at the bars, anyway, keeping himself alert.
"I hope so, too. Twenty days. The outlook's not good." John! Sherlock reluctantly let out a sob. Why did his mind torture him with such vivid hallucinations? The consulting detective spun away from the bars in a violent motion and screamed. Yes, he screamed. Screamed, because he thought he was insane. Screamed because he was exhausted and famished. Screamed because, surely, that would be enough to wake him from this horribly sweet dream! Right? Because it was a dream! It had to be a dream! It—
And then, he heard it.
"Sherlock?" John, calling his name lightly.
Sherlock had been reduced to a little, huddled shape on the ground. Curled like a hedgehog; on his knees, back hunched over, arms on the cold, damp stone, head hung, the unruly curls touching the ground, he was sobbing. And he sobbed even more each time he took a breath, simply because the crying hurt his ribs. And oh yes, Sherlock Holmes was crying. You did read that correctly.
Sherlock was broken: that was his only conclusion. Broken like some sort of wind-up toy. Most people would have told him it was all part of being human. Sherlock believed those as one grieving accepts words of sympathy: with emptiness and a cold smile.
"Sherlock!" This shout, very much like the desperate cry uttered when John had saved Sherlock's life the first time, seemed to come more from the heart of the army doctor than his lips. There were many footsteps, going towards the sound, banging of a battering ram against the door to the basement cell.
Sherlock Holmes pulled himself off the floor, the sobs still shaking his body. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair. He retrieved his jacket from the floor and put it on. His starved frame now swam inside it. Sherlock fumbled with the buttons and pulled the chain from between his sleeves. He washed his face of dried blood and grime. Then, he wobbled over to the center of the cell, waiting. Lightning illuminated the room behind him, so the great consulting detective was washed in shadow, the outline of a brilliant, human man, who had finally reached his limit but had done his best to hide it for the sake of…his reputation? Perhaps. Certainly. If Lestrade thought he was weak, he wouldn't respect him anymore. For John? Yes. Absolutely. If John thought for a moment he was suffering, well…Sherlock could imagine a lot of feelings—none of them good—that could be associated with John seeing him suffering. They were emotions that the detective did not wish to detect on his friend's face. Ever. For the rest of his life. (Their lives?)
By this time, the basement door was opened. Eager footsteps ran down the stairs. (Don't slip, Sherlock thought.) A very anxious John Watson collided with the bars and a very relieved consulting detective met him there. "Sherlock," John whispered, his eyes filled with emotion.
"John." The name said so many things. Sherlock smiled. My best friend. I'm so glad you're okay. See, I told you I'd be fine. Please have a look at my ribs; I think they're broken. Please let's have dinner. I'm starving.
"You okay?" John asked, silently assessing Sherlock for medical damage.
Knowing what sort of "okay" John meant, Sherlock replied matter-of-factly. "Got at least two broken ribs, malnourished, but otherwise, yes."
John chuckled. "I missed you, you git."
"As did I." Sherlock replied genuinely.
"When you two lovebirds are done," Lestrade brusquely interrupted, "we might hear a plan to get Sherlock out."
John and Sherlock separated from the bars, but stayed close to each other. Best friends who silently swore they'd never again be separated because of course, no, it wasn't like that between them. What was wrong with two guys just being mates, anyhow?
"Oh, yeah," John sighed, "we don't have a key for it."
"I could probably pick the lock," Sherlock replied, struggling to stay on his feet. With the initial adrenaline draining out of him, he was losing energy rapidly. "Need a burglar's tool, though."
"It looks rusty," Lestrade noted. "Think I could force it with a crowbar?"
Sherlock shrugged. "Lock's deceptive. You could try, though."
It took a moment, but Lestrade was successful. He'd brought a slew of Yardies Sherlock was not familiar with, who were sniffing around the place, looking for clues. "None of them are as good as you, Sherlock," Lestrade said as John cut the chains with a welder, "but they're eager as young scent hounds. They're bound to pick up something."
Sherlock smiled. "Let's hope so. We'll need all we can get to catch Moriarty."
John finished with the chains and stood. "Better?"
Sherlock nodded. "Yes. Thank you, John." He frowned, and then his expression blanked as he passed out. John caught him and sort of propped the taller man up against him.
"He okay?" Lestrade asked.
"He needs medical attention," John replied. "It's probably not all that serious, but he needs to get home."
"He should be going straight to hospital."
"You know how he feels about hospitals."
Sherlock had stirred at the mention of "hospital." "No," he murmured weakly against John's neck. "No…hospital."
"See?" John confirmed.
"Right," Lestrade rubbed his neck. "Well, we'll get you a cab back to Baker Street."
"Thank you," Sherlock croaked before the blackness of fatigue dragged him under once more.
What did it matter? He was going home.
So…? What do you think? You guys ready for the sequel?
What? You thought it was over? Oh, please! I can't end it on such a note as this! There HAS to be more! Although how MUCH more, I still don't know…but we'll see, yes?
Thank you for your reviews! I read every single one and smile! I never thought this would be as popular as it is…
Look for the sequel, Recovering Sherlock very soon! See you on the flip side!-SH