A/N: Sorry but this is really a PWP because I felt the need to inflict a little hurt on everybody's favourite DI.
It's also NOT S2 compliant but apart from that….I just have to thank Dr. D for all her help with this in its many, many different formats. Jelly babies for her and this for you.
Promises & Pie Crusts:
'Jim Moriarty sends his love.'
'Yes, he's been in touch. Seems desperate for my attention. Which I'm sure can be arranged.'
After 24 hours of unanswered texts to Mycroft Holmes, Jim Moriarty's patience was wearing thin. He wanted Mycroft's attention and if being polite didn't get it then he would have to be…inventive.
He reached for his phone, checked that he hadn't missed any communication from the 'minor government official' and when there was still nothing he shook his head and called an 'associate.'
"I need to send a message." he said without the need for introduction.
Moriarty thought for just a second, "No, if this goes right then I have other plans for him. The boyfriend I think."
"No problem. I'll call you when we have him."
Mycroft Holmes was tiring of the endless texts and calls from Jim Moriarty. He would talk to him when he was good and ready to and not before. First Mycroft needed to be sure he had all the facts about Moriarty at his disposal, because only then could he have any chance of working out why this man was so keen for his attention.
His phoned buzzed and with a sigh he stroked the screen and read the brief text:
Open the picture
Mycroft paused for a second, wondering if he did as the text told him would he be setting himself onto a path for which he wasn't yet quite ready. His finger hovered over the delete key and then the phone buzzed again.
Don't delete this.
You really need to see it.
With a resigned shake of his head Mycroft opened the attached picture and almost dropped the phone.
The picture showed Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade's warrant card, smeared with what he was certain was blood, and accompanied by the terse message:
Talk to me
Mycroft hadn't had time to formulate a reply when he received yet another text; it gave him an internet address and told him to log on in precisely 5 minutes.
4 minutes and 59 seconds later Mycroft was sat behind his desk and logged on. He had no doubt that he was to be watched as well as to watch and so he had a china cup of tea by his side and gave the outward impression of a man with no cares in the world.
The blank screen that faced him pulsed once and came to life. In the foreground James Moriarty sat in a pose that almost exactly replicated that of Mycroft except that, just behind him, on his knees with his hands restrained behind his back, was Detective Inspector Lestrade. A well-muscled dangerous looking man stood beside Lestrade, a gun held loosely but competently in his hand, preventing any thoughts the Inspector might have had about escape or retribution.
The detective's jacket was missing and his shirt was torn and bloodstained. When he raised his head to look toward the camera the slight grimace that flashed briefly over his features told Mycroft that he had other injuries apart from just the blood at his hairline and the bruise that marred his jaw.
"Mycroft, at last. You don't mind if I call you Mycroft do you? Only after all the attention I have been giving to your brother recently I feel as if I know you as well."
Many years of repressed emotions and a talent for hiding the truth allowed Mycroft to keep his face a mask of studied indifference as he waited for Moriarty to make his demands known.
"Mr James Moriarty," Mycroft acknowledged. "I assume that any attempt to trace you will meet with failure?"
"Of course," Moriarty replied a slow reptilian smile crossing his features. "Your best man was most accommodating."
Mycroft knew that Moriarty was just showing him that as far as he was concerned whatever he wanted he could get. Loyalty and position could be bought. He picked up his gold Mont Blanc pen and wrote two words on a pad beside him. When this was over the whole of the IT security division would be 'reassigned'.
He also knew that locked away in a secret room that only he and Anthea knew about, an even better IT hacker was already at work tracing the IP address. He hoped she was as good as her price implied and that she could find Moriarty before Mycroft had to give him something he didn't really want to or worse still that Gregory Lestrade got seriously hurt.
Moriarty stood up and walked over to Lestrade, he placed a hand on the detective's head. "It seems as if you have something that I want and," casually, almost lovingly, he carded his fingers through the short grey strands, "I have something that you want."
Lestrade jerked his head away in disgust – there was no way he wanted that creep anywhere near him let alone touching him.
"Quid Pro Quo, Mycroft. Give me what I want and I'll let you have your boyfriend back unharmed," he brushed his thumb along the darkening bruise on Lestrade's jaw. "Well mostly unharmed, I'm afraid he was quite…obstinate…"
"Fuck off," Lestrade growled trying to twist away from what had now become a quite painful grip on his bruised skin. "If you let me up I'll show you how obstinate I can be." The grip turned swiftly into an open handed slap that although it was more sound than substance still stung.
"Quiet Inspector or…," the threat was implicit in the tone of Moriarty's voice and underscored by the pressure of the gun the thug beside him was holding being pressed into his side.
"Detective Inspector Lestrade is not my boyfriend," Mycroft said evenly his voice not betraying the guilt he felt at the denial. "And I cannot imagine what you think I have that would be of interest to a..." he made a show of flicking open a plain brown file and studying the contents even though he knew every word in the file off by heart, "...consulting criminal."
"Well every 'consulting detective' needs a 'consulting criminal' otherwise we would both find life far too boring and you know what happens when we get bored."
"You people and your quaint little categories," Mycroft injected a suitable level of disgust into his tone before sipping from his tea.
"That is as may be Mycroft but I think it is time we got down to business, don't you?"
Mycroft sighed and looked disinterestedly at the screen. "What do you want?"
"I would have thought that was obvious, even to you," the retort was laced with derision.
Although inside he bristled at the insinuation Mycroft knew he had to play the long game and give nothing away.
"Maybe you should enlighten me."
Moriarty turned away from the fierce blazing anger that was obvious in Lestrade's eyes and came close to his camera. Once his face filled the screen he spoke.
"I want Sherlock."
"I am not my brother's keeper."
"No STUPID I don't want him, if I wanted him then I would have him and I wouldn't need you. I want to know about him."
"I doubt there is anything I could tell you about my brother that you do not already know."
"I think that maybe you should think a little harder Mycroft," Moriarty flashed a glance in Lestrade's direction. "Or do you need a little persuasion?"
Lestrade stole a glance at Mycroft. They had talked about what they would do in circumstances such as these knowing that even though they did their utmost to keep their relationship out of the realms of public knowledge they were each still a potential liability for the other.
Lestrade recalled their, heated 'conversation' on the subject:
"My, we have to talk about this."
"No, Gregory," Mycroft only called him Gregory when he was annoyed or irritated….or occasionally when they were at the height of their passion and he came buried deep inside his lover... "I can look after us."
"Mycroft, for Christ's sake, be realistic. You are this nation's secret keeper and one day somebody somewhere will want to know those secrets and they won't care how they get them."
"I am never alone," Mycroft sighed, a little sadly. They both knew that even in the depths of night as they slept in each other's arms a team of highly trained and deadly agents were only seconds away. They might not be watching but they were waiting, waiting for the one sound that was out of place.
"But I am My, I have a job to do as well and I can't do that with your people constantly looking over my shoulder," he paused and then came the truth. "They won't hesitate to use me to get to you."
"I will not let that happen."
Greg grabbed him by the arms in a punishing grip, he saw the flash of …fear…pain…on Mycroft's face and almost backed down but he knew that he had to make his position clear.
"Listen My, I love you and I know you love me but you have to promise me that if….when …this happens that you won't tell them anything no matter what they threaten, no matter what they do," Mycroft open his mouth to protest and Greg broke his grip to hold up his hand and silence the protest before it started. "Mycroft Holmes you and what you know, what you do, are vital to this country. You are unique, in so many ways." He smiled and swept in to place a kiss on Mycroft's lips. "And I'm just a DI, one of many and easily replaced."
"You know I do not think of you like that," Mycroft told him forcefully.
"But you will have to. You have to promise me My, here and now that no matter what happens you won't let them use me against you."
"I do not know if I can do that Gregory."
Greg knew that if he didn't get this agreement, this promise from Mycroft, then as much as he loved the man he would have to walk away. He couldn't ever allow their feelings for each other to compromise something so much greater.
"Please Mycroft, promise this or…," he knew that Mycroft would understand.
Mycroft broke free of Greg's grasp and walked a few steps away. Greg could read his dilemma in the way he walked, the way he held himself and he hated himself for forcing Mycroft into this position, but ultimately he knew he had no choice.
After a few minutes of agonising silence Mycroft squared his shoulders and faced Greg.
"Very well Gregory I will, reluctantly, agree to what you have asked of me. Should, and I stress the word, should, we ever find ourselves in this unfortunate situation I will not allow our relationship to be used against me."
"Is my word not good enough for you now Gregory?" Mycroft asked not bothering to hide the hurt in his voice.
"Of course it is. Thank you," Greg told him as he once again swept in to kiss him, this time with a possessive passion that neither of them could ignore.
Mycroft saw the hard set of Lestrade's face and knew that he was thinking about the promise he had made to him. Now, much against what he had ever thought possible, he was going to be forced to make good on that promise. Mycroft Holmes was nothing if not a man of his word, always.
"No, I do not think there is anything I can tell you about Sherlock."
Moriarty was quietly pleased that Mycroft wasn't cooperating; he found it so boring when people just gave him what he wanted. He thrived on the challenge as much as Sherlock did, that was what made him, in his mind, nearly his equal.
"Very well," he said as he leant forward and turned off the video feed but left the audio feed running.
The second his screen went blank Mycroft punched a key on his computer which brought up a second window showing him the room where his hacker was hard at work.
'Progress?' he typed. He tried not to imagine what was happening as he heard the sounds of flesh impacting with flesh.
'He's good' was the terse reply.
There was another sound, which he identified as a body hitting the floor. 'But you can find him?'
'I need time' it was neither a confirmation nor a denial.
A stifled pain-filled groan from Lestrade followed the sound of something solid hitting something soft. Mycroft flinched at the sound.
'Two maybe three hours and even then… he's got firewalls and proxy addresses and…'
Then there came a sound which could not be mistaken…a gunshot…accompanied by a curse from Lestrade.
'Find him' Mycroft typed and broke the connection.
The silence that followed the gunshot seemed to Mycroft to last for an eternity. It threatened to undo his promise.
But that promise was inviolable.
So with a deeper regret than he had ever thought possible he steeled his face into a mask of unfeeling indifference just as his screen flickered back into life.
"Sorry about that Mycroft," Moriarty's voice sounded anything but contrite. "Just had a little business to attend to, I'm sure you understand."
Behind him Mycroft watched as Moriarty's henchman hauled Lestrade back to his knees. The detective was now bleeding from his nose and lip and the left arm of his shirt was soaked with blood where the bullet had dug a furrow through his flesh. What Mycroft couldn't see was the angry red welt on Lestrade's side where a blow from his own baton had broken at least one rib.
"Of course," Mycroft replied trying to focus on Moriarty and not on the pained expression that Lestrade was unable to hide as he was forced back to his knees.
For Lestrade, being pulled up off the floor set his head spinning and left him gasping for air against a broken rib that flared with pain every time he tried to drag in a breath. Under the red hot throbbing of the bullet's track his arm felt numb and heavy and blood seemed to pulse from the wound with every beat of his heart.
He'd never been shot before and even though the bullet had only passed through the fleshy part of his arm he was still surprised by just how much it hurt. He'd been in plenty of fights before, both on and off his time on the force, and he knew what to expect from them but this was something new, something unexpected and he couldn't keep the shock from his face.
Once his vision and his breathing settled Lestrade could see Mycroft on the screen in the near distance. When he saw the way Mycroft looked he knew why he had earned the nickname of 'The Iceman'. His demeanour was unflustered, uncaring… impassive and Lestrade knew that he had to be the same. He would be no good to Mycroft if he allowed him to see him in pain and so, with an inner reserve that had served him well in the past, Gregory Lestrade found a way to push the agony of his injuries aside and present a face to Mycroft that lied 'I'm OK.'.
Moriarty saw the brief exchange of looks that passed between Mycroft and Lestrade and knew exactly what was going on. They would pretend that whatever happened they didn't care about each other and try to hold out long enough for Mycroft to affect a rescue/capture. Moriarty was enough of a student of human nature to know that everybody, even the 'great' Mycroft Holmes had their breaking point. All he had to do was find it before Mycroft was able to find him.
"So Mycroft, tell me about Sherlock. What was he like as a child?"
"Do you have any siblings?" Mycroft asked. "I suspect not, because if you did you would not have to ask that question."
Moriarty chose not to answer, knowing that eventually Mycroft would be forced to tell him something. His wait wasn't long before with a resigned sigh Mycroft spoke again.
"We did not share a childhood," Mycroft told him mostly truthfully. By the time Sherlock had become interesting to know, Mycroft had been away at boarding school and from then until many years later their paths had only crossed at given points in time.
"You're brothers; I don't believe that you don't know him," Moriarty glanced at his henchman and gave him the slightest of nods. "Was he as smart as you Mycroft? Who's the brightest spark of the Holmes boys?"
"Sherlock and I chose different paths," Mycroft told him as he found his eyes drawn to what was being done to Lestrade in the background.
Moriarty's man had taken a knife to Lestrade's shirt cutting it free from his body.
"Bastard," Lestrade snarled. "I liked that shirt, just about got it worn in right."
The bruises and welts on Lestrade's body told Mycroft just how he had fought against what had been done to him. He also knew that Moriarty had to have some hidden agenda and he had to try and stop that.
No matter the cost…
As he watched a vicious blow land on an already damaged part of Lestrade's body and knew immediately from the wheezing struggle for breath that followed it, the target had been a broken rib, he found it difficult not to give Moriarty what he wanted. His choices were unacceptable whichever way he looked at them, and not for the first time he found himself in the unenviable position of having to choose the lesser of several evils. All he could do was hope that once this was all over Greg would remember their promises to each other and understand why he had no choice.
"I really cannot tell you anything about Sherlock that you do not already know," Mycroft told him. "And I do not see why you would think that what you are doing to Inspector Lestrade would change that fact."
Lestrade found his breath taken from him by one simple, but effective, punch to his broken rib. The pain flared in his side, his breathing became a series of short agonized gasps. His eyes narrowed and tight lines of pain showed on his face as he tried to settle into a pattern of breathing that didn't hurt …so much.
He shifted on his knees until he found a place that minimised the aching from his ribs. Testing the restraints that bound his hands he was unsurprised to find them as unmoving as they had been the last time he'd tried them. The pain of the tight restraints and the ache in his shoulders had long since ceased to have any relevance, subsumed as they had been by a myriad of far greater agonies.
'Come on My …' he thought as another punch to his already bruised body took away all but his most basic survival instinct.
There were precious few things that would distract Mycroft Holmes from his cause, that was one of the reasons he was so valued by the British Government, but now he was glad that Moriarty couldn't see the way that, as he watched Lestrade buckle under another blow, one hand balled into a fist gripping the immaculate cut of his suit trousers below the desk.
"Did he have friends at school….play mates…?" Moriarty asked over the sound of fists hitting flesh and the gasping struggle for breath.
"Sherlock?" Mycroft asked with a suitable degree of incredulity. "No…I believe he did not find it easy to make friends."
Mycroft didn't like to admit that he too could count his true 'friends' on the fingers of one hand. Yet somehow – against all the odds – they had both found somebody who loved them for what they were.
Another vicious punch to Lestrade's side and despite all his efforts, all the promises he had made to himself, he just couldn't stop the cursing groan of agony that spilled from his lips. White spots of pain danced behind his eyes, threatening to take his consciousness. He could hear his tortured breathing in his ears; taste the blood of something 'not good' in his mouth. He swayed where he knelt and was only kept from collapsing to the floor by a firm grip on his shoulder.
"Really Mycroft," Moriarty said, raising his hand to stop the punishment Lestrade was enduring. "There must be something you can tell me." He looked at the kneeling DI, gasping for breath, blood on his lips and a grey pallor tingeing his skin. "Before it's too late."
"I really do not know what you mean," Mycroft told him feeling the sharp cut of his own nails in the palm of his hand. "I have told you that there is nothing I can tell you that will help you and I do not like having to repeat myself, therefore, I think this conversation is at an end."
Mycroft was pleased that his voice held firm and clear and that when he picked the file from his desk his hands weren't shaking. He knew that Moriarty didn't buy his act but he had to maintain the pretence just a little longer.
Moriarty wasn't fooled when he looked at the screen, which now showed Mycroft reading a file and sipping at his tea seemingly oblivious, or at least uncaring, of the events unfolding around him.
He turned to Lestrade; maybe there was something the detective could tell him. Yes, he was bleeding and bruised and he would have to be careful, too much and Lestrade would cease to be a lever he could use against Mycroft and yet just a little more might get one of them to crack.
Who would crumble first – the Detective Inspector or the British Government?
"Now then Detective Inspector, why don't YOU tell me about Sherlock Holmes?"
"And why don't you just piss right off?" Lestrade answered unblinking, his voice steady despite his injuries.
"Don't try my patience Gregory."
"It's Lestrade or Inspector to you," his voice was ice. Only Mycroft, or his mother, was allowed to call him Gregory and that was NEVER going to change. "And I have nothing to tell you about Sherlock Holmes, not now, not ever."
"If you really believe that Gregory, then you are a bigger fool than I thought, and you're not a fool are you? If you were then Sherlock wouldn't bother with you, so you must have some worth. Let's find out what it is."
"You can try, go ahead do your worst, I have nothing more to say," Lestrade felt far less bullish than he sounded.
Moriarty lowered his voice to little more than a whisper. "I don't really care what you have to say, I just want to hear you scream."
Moriarty's man pressed his thumb into the groove the bullet had cut in the detective's bicep. Lestrade bit back the curse that threatened to escape his lips as he squirmed under the assault, fighting to keep the pain from becoming all he could think about.
"Good, very good Gregory but how much can you take, how long before you tell me what I want to know, how long before your boyfriend over there begs me to stop?"
"Not my boyfriend," Lestrade ground out as the pressure on his wound increased. "And I've told you it's Lestrade to you, you sick fucker."
Another spike of pain in his arm, another breath sucked through his teeth.
"Untie me and then try that," he said in a voice laced with a menace he didn't feel as he failed to suppress the shake that flooded his limbs.
"What will you do Inspector? Would you break your rules to get to me?" Moriarty asked as yet again the fingers dug mercilessly into the bullet's tract, punishing the raw exposed flesh.
"Tell me about Sherlock and I'll stop," Moriarty spoke to Lestrade but the words were also meant for Mycroft.
"No," Lestrade told him defiantly.
Lestrade was now in a personal battle of wills with Moriarty's accomplice. The rules he had sworn to uphold were no longer valid, he would do whatever he had to and when this was over he would take the man down, by the most ruthless means he could and then he'd take down Moriarty too, he'd give the smart arse Quid Pro Quo.
Moriarty's accomplice wiped the blood from his hand on Lestrade's back as he turned his attention from the wound in his arm to the detective's police issue baton which lay nearby. Lestrade's torso was a testament to the pain it could inflict, the bones it could break. Picking up the baton he swung it in an arc that ended only when it impacted hard in Lestrade's kidneys. The pain was unimaginable, rocking him where he knelt…and Lestrade couldn't stop the sound that spilled from his lips. It was part curse, part plea, all pain.
The sound made Mycroft's blood run cold. He could see the sweat on Greg's face as he fought through what was being done to him, he could see the fresh blood on his arm, the tremors that wracked his body and wanted nothing more than to tell Moriarty…anything…everything he wanted to know.
"What do you want from me?" Mycroft asked.
"Ah…so you're ready to talk now? I had hoped to have some more time to get to know your …pet…better."
"I have already told you…"
Moriarty waved a hand, "Yes…'he's not your boyfriend'…but we all know that isn't true so why don't you just drop the pretence Mycroft? Tell me something about Sherlock that only a brother could know."
"He always wanted to be a pirate."
"I said - something – only - a – brother – would – know," each word was spoken carefully and accompanied by a further punishing blow from the baton.
Lestrade had had just about enough of being poked, prodded and punched and his anger was suddenly all consuming and his adrenaline running high. He was injured and outnumbered but he didn't care – if he didn't act then he feared that Mycroft would say something that would turn out to be so damaging there would be no way back for any of them. With strength that he was sure he shouldn't have Lestrade launched himself firstly at the man at his side, taking his breath from him with the sudden and vicious application of his shoulder and head to his stomach and then he pushed from his knees hoping to reach Moriarty.
He almost made it too, but ultimately his injuries made him just a fraction too slow. The grunt of exertion as he launched himself through his pain towards Moriarty gave his protagonist just enough time to spin round, pick up the discarded gun and step away from his oncoming form. Lestrade barely had time to realise his efforts had all been in vain before the gun, swung in a short but vicious arc, hit him solidly on his temple and he was unconscious before he even hit the floor.
Moriarty's anger was more at his employee's incompetence than at Lestrade's actions, he had known that sooner or later the detective would try something. With a calming breath and a quirk of his head he reached over and slammed down the lid of the laptop cutting off all links between him and Mycroft.
It took Mycroft at least a full minute of staring at the blank screen before he had wrestled all of his anger and helplessness, all of his fear for Lestrade, under control. He allowed himself the necessity of a large malt whisky before he headed for the door to his office.
Anthea had, of course, been allowed access to what Mycroft had seen and she was ready with a full report of all that was being done to find Lestrade.
The news was bleak; the usual surveillance techniques had failed to find any trace of the DI. Wherever he had been taken from had been, no doubt deliberately, chosen to be off Mycroft's extensive radar. His network of informants and operatives were scouring London and yet they could find nothing. Nobody had seen or heard anything, finding one man in a city of several million was never easy and Moriarty had the resources to make it all but impossible.
"We'll keep looking, I'm sure that we'll find him soon enough," Anthea said, knowing how worried her employer was despite his impassive demeanour.
"The extraction team is ready?" he asked.
"Fully armed and authorised and on a two minute standby."
He nodded his appreciation to Anthea, straightened his suit, took the fresh cup of tea she offered, turned on his heel and headed back into his office. He couldn't afford to not be there when Moriarty resumed contact.
He then turned his attention to his expensive and allegedly very good hacker, her report was only slightly more hopeful than previously but she still refused to be drawn on whether or not she could find Moriarty. He offered her an extra bonus if she found him quickly and the veiled but very real threat of never being able to find gainful employment anywhere if she didn't. Greed and fear, Mycroft had found, where both powerful motivators.
Mycroft was used to waiting; it was a part of what he did every day, waiting for decisions, waiting for outcomes that he already knew and yet waiting for James Moriarty to make his next move was one of the hardest things he had ever had to endure. He hated to be so impotent, he was used to being in charge, to be dictating the course of events and yet now he was helpless, reliant on the efforts of others, people beyond his control. It was a new experience and one that he wasn't enjoying.
Much as he tried to be rational and to analyse the situation for what it was, he found that his thoughts kept drifting back to what he had seen, what had been done to the one man who loved him, without question, for who and what he was. Having Gregory Lestrade in his life was, he knew, the best thing that had or was ever likely to happen to him. Before he had met Lestrade, Mycroft had always believed that caring was not an advantage, that feelings for others just clouded the important things he had to deal with and now, as his screen flickered back into life, he once again wished with all his heart that he still believed that.
Moriarty's voice was hard edged and business-like. "Time's up Mycroft. Give me what I what I want."
"And why would I do that?" Mycroft responded brusquely.
"I'd have thought that was obvious, but if I have to spell it out."
The camera pulled back to show Gregory Lestrade bound to a chair, he was semi-conscious, his head lolling against his chest. The bullet wound on his arm had been crudely bandaged although blood had seeped through the fabric. A hand fisted in his sweat dampened hair and pulled his head up, his eyes were dulled with pain and he grunted through dry, cracked lips at the movement. The small round burns that were clearly visible against his pale skin were the most obvious evidence of further torture.
Inwardly Mycroft cringed, his stomach balling into a tight knot of hatred for what Moriarty had done to Lestrade. When this was over, when he had Moriarty he would show him what happened to those who cross Mycroft Holmes. He hoped that Lestrade could still understand why he had to continue to hold back from giving Moriarty what he wanted certain as he was that every minute brought him closer to finding Lestrade whilst he was still alive.
"I still fail to see why you continue to insist that the presence of Inspector Lestrade would be of any consequence to me."
"Come on Mycroft don't you think that this pathetic charade has gone on for long enough?" he signalled with a nod for the thug to release Lestrade. "I mean, look at him, how much more of my 'hospitality' do you think he can take? I have infinite patience but I don't think that dear Gregory has infinite time, do you?"
Lestrade was tired, he was sore, bruised, burnt and almost broken but, as his vision cleared and he saw the resolute look on Mycroft's face, he knew that he could hold on just a little longer. He could take just a little more pain if it meant that when this was all over Mycroft had Moriarty and Moriarty had nothing. With a burning determination in his eyes he turned his attention to Moriarty.
"Try me," he taunted. "In the end I'll be the one walking away from here, not you, you sad fucking excuse for a criminal."
A punch to the side of his head rattled his teeth and he yet again could feel the taste of blood in his mouth. "That the best you've got?" he asked twisting as far as the restraints that held him would allow. "My niece hits harder than that and she's only six."
The man at his side showed Lestrade that he could in fact hit harder, a lot harder. The blow reopened an old cut leaving Lestrade once more bloodied.
"Na, you still hit like a girl. Let me up and I'll show you how it's done." Lestrade told him, inwardly bracing himself for another blow.
"Enough!" Moriarty commanded and begrudgingly the man at Lestrade's side dropped his fist.
"I haven't finished with you copper," he told him in a low whisper as he took as step back, cracked his knuckles and waited for his boss's next instruction.
"Can't wait," Lestrade told him before he turned his attention back to Moriarty. "Hasn't it got through yet, I'm not going to tell you anything and nor is the lanky posh git over there." He gesticulated to Mycroft with his head, the movement sending a sprinkling of blood over Moriarty's clothing. "So why don't you just let me go then I can arrest your sorry arse and call it a good day's work. What do you say?"
Moriarty looked down distastefully at his blood splattered suit. "Ozwald Boateng," he said by way of explanation as he plucked the damaged fabric between his thumb and fingers. " Ruined by a badly dressed, low life policeman, do you know how long the waiting list for his suits is?"
"Gee, I'm sorry," Lestrade's voice was anything but contrite. "Still, you won't need another one where you're going."
"You seem awfully confident of my demise, for a man in your predicament," he said as he shrugged off his suit jacket and tossed it to one side. Normally Moriarty let others enact his predilection for violence but in special cases he wasn't above getting his hands dirty and Lestrade had just become a special case.
Opening a desk drawer he withdrew a knife and ran his finger carefully along its hard glistening edge. A thin trickle of blood seeped from his finger, he suckled it in delight.
"Oohh….that's… sharp," he drew out the word – the emphasis was unnecessary but he did like the dramatic. He twisted the knife point against his finger tip as he spoke; the sharp point of pain excited him. "Hold him," he told his accomplice.
He dragged the point of the blade down Lestrade's torso, not hard enough to do more than raise a faint red mark on his skin but the message was clear to everyone. Lestrade couldn't have flinched even if he had wanted to and could do no more than hope that the fear that coiled inside him didn't show in his face as he held Moriarty's gaze.
"I'm not scared of you," Lestrade lied.
"But you should be Gregory."
"Call me that again and…."
"And what?" the question was punctuated by the carefully deliberate movement of the knife along the line of Lestrade's rib. Blood welled in the cut then spilled down his skin. Moriarty saw the twitch of the muscle as Lestrade tried to pull away, heard the intake of breath and smiled. He loved it when his victims thought they were brave.
Bravery was overrated; bravery was often just stupidity wrapped in machismo.
He gently dragged the bloody blade across Lestrade's chest; although the touch was feather light with just a small increase in pressure it could puncture the skin, tear into organs….kill. The blade now rested above the bruised misshapen broken rib.
"Come on one of you tell me something, make this stop," Moriarty said as he placed one hand against Lestrade's chest and applied pressure to the broken bones and the blade simultaneously. Moriarty drew another thin line with the blade, not deep enough to do much damage but deep enough to hurt like hell. Blood followed the track of the blade, a bright line of crimson against Lestrade's pale skin.
"Fuck you," Lestrade ground out over the pain. He was staring resolutely at the image of Mycroft, the muscles of his neck bunched tight against what was being done to him, his right hand unconsciously clenching at the arm of the chair as he fought down the urge to scream, or worse….talk.
As Moriarty made a show of choosing his next point of attack Mycroft knew that there came a time in every situation when it was time to give…just a little…to get the result you wanted. The result Mycroft wanted was to have Greg Lestrade back, alive and the time was now.
"I think it is time we negotiated," he said unwilling to let Moriarty continue.
Moriarty pressed the blade tip into Lestrade's shoulder, drawing blood. "Negotiate? I don't think you are in a position to negotiate do you Mycroft?" The blade pushed deeper, the blood pooled against the blade, held for a moment by the sharp steel before it trickled down Lestrade's body. "I think you should just tell me what I want to know and I'm sure that the Inspector does too, don't you Gregory?"
The blade twisted and Lestrade's eyes fluttered closed as he felt his world spiralling out of control, the pain spiked pulling the strands of darkness at the edge of his consciousness closer. He wanted nothing more than to accept the peaceful embrace of nothingness and yet the stubbornness at his core wouldn't let him. He needed to stay conscious for Mycroft so he didn't have to say or do anything, not because of him.
"I have already told you, I do not know Sherlock nearly as well as you think I do. He is an…enigma…even to me," Mycroft said, his voice betraying nothing.
"I'm certain that you'll think of something," Moriarty twisted the knife again and Lestrade's face creased with the fresh wave of pain that took him by surprise. "Something more…interesting."
Mycroft's mind was whirling as he shuffled through his memories of Sherlock as a child, a teenager, a young man, for something that would be enough for Moriarty. Everything he came up with seemed so trivial and he knew that trivial wouldn't be enough.
He could only think of one thing that might, might just be enough but before he was prepared to tell Moriarty anything he needed to get a reassurance that when this was all over Moriarty wouldn't just kill Lestrade anyway.
"I do believe you said this was a case of Quid Pro Quo James and I assume that you are a man of your word?"
"I need, expect, a reassurance from you before I will tell you anything about my brother."
"Once you have what you want you will let Inspector Lestrade go without any further…incident."
"That depends on what you tell me."
"No it does not. I will tell you something about Sherlock once and only once you have given me your word that nothing further will happen to Lestrade."
"I'm sure you don't call him Lestrade when you are alone, so why don't you call him Gregory and I'll think about your offer."
Mycroft didn't want to acquiesce to Moriarty; Greg's name was something that until today had been scared, something between the two of them, but he also recognised the fact that if he let his sentimentality get the better of him he would appear weak and that would be the death of Greg. He couldn't let that happen, he would lose the sanctity of his name to save him.
"Gregory?" Mycroft didn't really know what to say. It seemed pointless to ask him how he was and he couldn't, didn't want to offer him false hope that his ordeal might be almost over when Moriarty could be so unpredictable.
"Mycroft," Lestrade's voice was harsh as he tried not to give any indication of how much every word hurt. "You don't have to tell him anything on my account." His breath came in short gasps as Moriarty toyed with the knife. "Just promise me one thing."
"Once this is over you'll let me have five minutes alone with both of these...gentlemen."
"Very bold of you Gregory, stupid but bold," Moriarty pulled the blade free with a single movement that caused Lestrade to curse under his breath. "But you were getting boring anyway." He placed the knife down. "So Mycroft, tell me about Sherlock and I promise not to hurt your precious policeman any more."
Lestrade knew the 'I' meant nothing. Moriarty might keep to the literal interpretation of his word but he also had plenty of others in his employ that would be more than grateful for the opportunity to get their hands on a member of New Scotland Yard. Starting, Lestrade had little doubt, with the thug who held him where he sat.
"Very well," Mycroft almost sighed in resignation but resignation was not in his nature so he set his mind to the task at hand. "He got sent down from Oxford in his second year."
Only a VERY good investigator would be able to find that out. The Holmes family had done their utmost to hide the information. They had made substantial donations to the college involved and been given all sorts of assurances but somewhere the evidence still existed and that was how Mycroft rationalised the seemingly small betrayal of his brother.
Mycroft had Moriarty's attention now and the 'consulting criminal' spun away from Lestrade and gave the screen his full attention. He tapped a button on his computer.
"That's more like it. So tell me what did your little brother do?"
"Mycroft! " Lestrade's sharp admonishment left the 'don't you dare' unsaid.
"Shut up Inspector, I'm trying to have a conversation here," Moriarty didn't turn away from Mycroft.
"I suggest you do what he asks Gregory," Mycroft told him, his tone as flat and impassive as he could make it. "There was …shall we say… an incident involving the disappearance of some body parts from the medical school and their subsequent reappearance in the Dean's rooms."
"Quite the practical joker then our Sherlock, although that hardly seems a good reason to expel him."
Even through the impartiality of the computer screen Mycroft could feel the full force of Greg Lestrade's fury. Although he could rationalise his words and actions to himself (no matter how tenuous that rationalisation might be) he knew that right now he couldn't make Greg understand why he was doing what he was.
"Indeed not," Mycroft added. "Each body part had been subjected to an experiment, the results of which and how they pertained to the private lives of some of the college's foremost scholars and benefactors, was explicitly explained in a note pinned to each part."
"Oh….I….like that," Moriarty exclaimed. "That, that I can use."
Moriarty finally had the first useful piece of information about Sherlock, the first chink in his seemingly impenetrable armour. He knew that it wouldn't be enough for him to simply kill Sherlock, that would be far too pedestrian and boring. He had to burn him, to destroy him, to take apart the rapidly growing legend and expose him as not just a normal man but as a fraud. He wanted the public to turn against him – to believe that he was just a fantasist who took them all in. His eventual fall from the pedestal of idolatry the 'ordinary people' had put him on would be spectacular!
Deep in the heart of Mycroft's empire his hacker sat quietly making no attempt to trace the video feed, just as she had done from the outset. She didn't need to; she knew exactly where Moriarty was and where he would be when she finally told Mycroft that she had found him.
The disposable, untraceable mobile phone on the desk pinged quietly indicating the arrival of a text message. She reached out and thumbed the keys.
The message was unsigned and consisted of one word: Now
She knew who it was from and what it meant. Mycroft Holmes had paid her well, offered her more money than she could ever need, a job for life, but Jim Moriarty had matched him and then taken her to his bed. She fell helplessly in love with him, his ideas, his visions, his power and his lies, especially the one he told her.
She waited the required time, reached for her pass and headed upstairs. In under a minute she was outside Mycroft's door. Mycroft had to call on all his diplomatic skills to keep his face impassive when he saw the hacker rush in, he couldn't let Moriarty know what he expected to be told - not if he hoped to both catch him and free Greg alive.
"I assume that information will be sufficient for your needs," it wasn't really a question.
"It's not a bad start," Moriarty replied insincerely. "But I think I'll need more."
"I believe we had an agreement and I would not have taken you for a man who went back on his word."
"Oh, Mycroft, I thought you were smarter than that."
"I told you that if you told me about Sherlock then I wouldn't hurt him," he indicted to Lestrade with a sweep of his hand. "But what I didn't say is that I wouldn't let him BE hurt."
The heavy set man standing to the side of Lestrade moved into view allowing Mycroft the full benefit of being able to watch as he grabbed Lestrade's left hand and brutally snapped his little finger.
"Anything more to tell me?" Moriarty asked as his man stepped round and took a hold of the little finger of Lestrade's right hand.
"I need some time," Mycroft told him, ashamed, full of self-remorse that he had actually believed what Moriarty had told him. Lies, half-truths, deceit, negotiations and bargaining were his life and now when it mattered most his instincts had failed him.
Moriarty made a show of looking at his watch, calculating just when Mycroft would get the news of his 'discovery' and how much longer he had before he had to leave.
"Because I feel sorry for a poor fool like you Mycroft I will give you…oh…3 minutes to find me something else about your brother before it becomes more than just another broken finger."
"Thank you," Mycroft said as he cut off the connection to Moriarty. He turned his attention to the hacker. "I assume you have some news for me?"
"I think I've found him."
"Well I've traced the signal as far as I can and I have it down to a 1 mile area. I can't do better than that."
'1 mile – in the time it could take to search that area Greg could be dead,' Mycroft thought. "Where is he?"
The hacker placed her tablet computer on the desk and pulled up a map. The area was a mixture of densely populated streets thinning out into semi-rural countryside around 50 miles South East of London. It would take his team around 30 minutes to get there and then maybe another 30 to search all the possible locations. He picked up the phone and punched a number.
"I have the location and will meet you in two minutes." Not waiting for a reply he picked up the tablet. "Thank you," he said as he passed the hacker at a run.
The suited figure of Mycroft Holmes sprang into the back of the truck with an athletic ease that belied both his dress and his position. The men inside barely glanced at their strange new companion as he passed the tablet to their commander and fell into a hushed discussion with him.
There were only a very few people who knew that not only was Mycroft Holmes a skilled negotiator and the very heart of the British Government but that he was also a highly trained field operative. Although it had been a long time since he had been on operational duty he kept up with his marksmanship and when he could worked out with an ex special forces instructor. The gun in his hand felt familiar and comfortable and, as the trucks spun away, Mycroft felt a surge of adrenaline that he hadn't realised he'd missed so badly.
"I want him alive," Mycroft told Major Andrew Lasseter.
"We'll try Mycroft, but you know how it is, if he makes a move against my men then he's fair game."
"Major, I have some, shall we call it, unfinished business with Moriarty that requires him to be alive, although not necessarily uninjured. Does that help?"
"Can't promise anything but we'll do our best. I assume you are coming with us?"
"Then put this on," Lasseter passed Mycroft a bullet proof vest. "And try not to get yourself killed, the paperwork would be a bloody nightmare!"
Andy Lasseter had no real reservation about allowing Mycroft to be part of his operation. They had known each other for many years and had been in several tight situations before; he knew that Mycroft was more than capable of holding his own in whatever circumstances they found themselves.
The rest of the journey was completed in silence, each man knew his role, words were unnecessary. Within half an hour they had reached the perimeter of the area, and as Mycroft followed the soldiers out into the streets, all he could do was hope that they would be in time to save Lestrade.
It was when Lestrade's second finger was broken that he finally lost his battle with consciousness and allowed himself to succumb to the blissfully pain free darkness.
"Bollocks, he's passed out the bloody wuss," Moriarty's accomplice declared as he pulled Lestrade's head back and spat on his face. "Still this'll still hurt like fuck when he wakes up." His words were accompanied by a vicious blow that broke the helpless man's nose.
"Stop," Moriarty ordered glancing at his watch. "Unless you want to spend the rest of your life in a prison, or worse, I think it's time we left. I'm sure Holmes is on his way and I for one don't intend to be here when he arrives." He looked at Lestrade, bound, bleeding and unconscious. "I hope he appreciates the present we've left for him, if he's lucky he'll still be alive when he finds him."
"I could make sure he's not, always wanted to do a copper."
Moriarty thought for a moment, he had nothing against Mycroft personally, it was his interfering younger brother who really irked him, but to take something from either of the Holmes brothers did have a certain degree of satisfaction to it.
"I'm leaving in five minutes and I won't wait."
"No problem, I'll be there," he reached for the discarded knife. "Now then Inspector, time to wake up."
Lestrade's return to consciousness was swift and unpleasant as the cold water that soaked him also stung in every cut and scratch that marked his skin. He forced open eyes that were too tired, blinked through the damp pink haze caused by the blood and water that mingled on his face and was greeted with the sight of Moriarty's man wielding the knife. He really didn't have the strength or the will to keep on fighting; he hurt too much, far, far too much. He had tried, tried to be strong, tried to be brave and all he'd got for his troubles were broken bones, his chest sliced open and the knowledge that, despite all his promises, Mycroft had given up a piece of Sherlock in an attempt to save him.
An ultimately futile attempt Lestrade thought as the man swung the knife in a wide arc, getting closer with each pass, he knew with one look at the man's face that he meant to kill him and without Moriarty to stop him, he would no doubt complete his task with relish.
"You may not have screamed for him but you will for me, if it's the last thing you do, which it will be," his tone barely disguised the pleasure he felt.
Lestrade didn't really have the energy to waste on defiance, but he'd always hoped he'd die well…no…he'd always hoped he would die old and loved and to have that taken from him sparked his one last stand.
"Don't bet on it I'm a stubborn bastard."
The man swept in and much to Lestrade's amazement, instead of administering the coup de grace that would end his life, he slit through the narrow plastic cable ties that had held the detective firmly in the chair and then took a step back.
Painfully, Lestrade moved his wrists and ankles; the plastic had dug deep, chaffing away the fragile skin when he had fought against what was being done to him, leaving bloodied, angry red marks in their wake. His muscles were stiff and unresponsive after such a long period of immobility and as his hesitant actions freed his blood to flow again he was caught by the painful onset of cramps and pins and needles that made him wince.
When he had been unable to he had wanted nothing more than to get to his feet and defend himself and now that he was free he didn't think he had the strength to stand let alone mount any sort of defence. Especially when it seemed that the most likely outcome of his efforts would be for him to fall back to the floor….dead or dying.
"I won't ask again. Now get up and face me like the man you kept telling me you were."
"I'll kill you were you are."
"Go on then, make me die, there's nothing else you can make me do."
The man hefted the knife into his right hand and grabbed Lestrade's left arm in a punishing grip right over the bloodstained bandage that covered the gunshot wound. With no finesse, he used his considerable bulk to haul Lestrade to his feet and hold him steady as the detective swayed against him.
"Any last words copper?" he asked as he pushed Lestrade away, and pulled back his arm, the knife blade glinting.
There was the distant sound of boots, and then voices – clipped - no wasted words.
"You're nicked," Lestrade told him, a smile breaking on his battered features. He knew for certain that the men he could hear approaching were sent by Mycroft.
There was a sudden silence. A dark shadow filled the doorway, gun raised in a steady hand, eyes unblinking as he focused on his target. The thug spun around frantically, looking for an alternative way out.
"Nowhere to go," Lestrade told him. "Might as well just give yourself up."
"Never," the thug railed as he once more faced Lestrade. "And if I'm going…," he lunged at the detective and was stopped a foot short by a double tap to the back of his head.
And then the room was full, clinical soldiers securing the area, checking, unnecessarily, if the man was dead. Lestrade stood breathing heavily in the midst of it all until the activity stopped and a soldier approached him and cast an experienced eye over him. "Get me a medic."
He reached out a hand to steady Lestrade who, now that the last of his adrenaline was fading, threatened to drop where he stood. "Steady Sir," he swung his gun out of the way and carefully helped Lestrade back to the chair that he had not so long ago been bound to. "Help is on its way."
"Thanks," Lestrade mumbled as he slumped back into the chair, almost too exhausted to do more than just breathe. He wanted nothing more than to close his eyes and wake up when he felt better…in about a year or two.
The soldier stepped away and tapped his intercom, "Greyhound One this is Greyhound Five, we have located target. The area has been secured, one fatality and no sign of Moriarty. Repeat no sign of Moriarty," he listened for a moment to the voice in his ear. "Message received and understood Greyhound One; Greyhound Five out."
"Won't be long," he told Lestrade, who raised a weary hand in response.
Without the need to fight to stay alive Lestrade allowed his eyes to drift shut as pain once more flooded through him. He longed for the pain free embrace of whatever the medic would give him.
A gentle hand on his arm failed to raise a response – he had nothing, nothing left to give.
"Gregory," Mycroft's voice held nothing of his inner fury. This was not the time for anger; this was the time for Gregory Lestrade. "Can you hear me Gregory?"
Lestrade was sure that he must be hearing things – he had thought he heard Mycroft but there was no way that could be right. Mycroft Holmes did 'stuff' for the Government – hell, he probably was the Government – sat behind a desk, in an expensive suit and handmade shoes, and doing…'stuff'. What Lestrade was pretty sure he didn't do was operational activity – that just DIDN'T make sense.
A hand reached up and brushed the hair from his forehead in a gesture that was as familiar as it was precious. Mycroft…the touch, the gesture, were all pure Mycroft bloody Holmes and Lestrade dug deep and made once last concerted effort to open his eyes.
"Hello," Mycroft said as Lestrade's eyes found their focus.
"Myc.." the voice was hardly more than a cracked whisper and the effort made him cough, a wheezing wet cough that flecked his lips with blood. Lestrade tried for more words, his chest heaving with the effort "'re here."
"Yes, I am, where else would I be?"
Lestrade could have thought of a hundred places that Mycroft Holmes could have been and not one of them involved him wearing a flak jacket with a tie! When he saw Mycroft hand the semi-automatic pistol he had been carrying to one of the nearby soldiers he thought it must be the pain causing delirium and an unconscious giggle spilled from his lips.
"Gregory?" Mycroft's concern for Lestrade's condition was now becoming obvious in his tone.
"'s ok…," Lestrade frowned. "Just hurts a bit."
A soldier carrying a field medical kit had arrived and was now at Lestrade's side a hypodermic in his hand. "This will make it better Sir," he told Lestrade as he jabbed the needle into his upper arm.
The morphine didn't take long to have an effect on Lestrade and as he felt himself falling into oblivion his last memory was of Mycroft straightening his tie and brushing dust from his suit trousers as if this was just another day in the office. Which for all he really knew it might have been!
After 48 hours in a medically induced coma Lestrade came slowly awake to find Mycroft sat beside his bed, tapping away on his phone.
"Hey," he croaked quietly. "Less of the noise."
At the sound of Lestrade's voice Mycroft immediately pocketed the phone and hurried to sit on the edge of his lover's bed.
It wasn't until he saw Greg open his eyes and force a smile to crease his battered face that Mycroft realised just how much this man meant to him and how relieved he was that he was going to be alright. "Sorry," he said his own voice showing just an edge of the emotion he felt. An emotion that he had been brought up not to show. "How are you feeling, do you want a Doctor?"
"I'm…." Lestrade closed his eyes, took a shallow breath and felt his body in his mind. Despite the drugs he still hurt, in SO many places, but as he felt Mycroft take his hand he knew that eventually the pain would pass. "…sore. But," he squeezed Mycroft's hand and opened his eyes, "with you here I'll be fine."
"I'll always be here Gregory you know that."
"Yeah I know," Lestrade shifted where he lay and grimaced at the pull on his stiches and the ache that spiked briefly, reminding him of what he had endured.
"Tell me you got him."
Mycroft shifted uncomfortably where he sat and dropped Lestrade's hand from his own. He straightened the knot in his tie and tugged at his shirt cuff.
"Well….in circumstances such as this..."
"Mycroft…"Lestrade's attempt to raise his voice just left him breathless and it was almost a minute before he could speak again, a minute during which he noticed that Mycroft picked at imaginary dust and couldn't hold his eyes. He knew what that meant. "You let him go?" he asked incredulously.
"No, well yes, but in our defence we never actually had him to let go."
"Mycroft Holmes you should be grateful that I'm not well because if I were then I would…."
"We….I…will get him Gregory. I promise you that," he bent low and kissed Lestrade. "For now you just concentrate on getting better and leave Mr James Moriarty to me."
Lestrade's eyes were closing again as the lull of healing sleep overtook him and as he drifted away his last thought were of what he would do to Moriarty if he ever laid hands on him.