A/N The ultimate (as in the last) chapter, whew! Many delays, mostly due to my erratic internet service. Anyway...

Chapter 22

John awoke in the dark; he could just make out the shadowy form of Sherlock shaking his shoulder. The fan stirred the blue and purple shadows and blew Sherlock's dark locks over his forehead.

"John, get dressed. Ahsan is in trouble with the police. He is at the local station. I'm going there to see what I can do; the message that I received from the front desk is most unclear," said the detective, who smoothed the front of his jacked down.

"Well, I'm coming with you…" began John trying to pull a pair of jeans over his sticky skin.

"No you are not. This could be a trap, John. It smells like a trap," said the taller man.


"I am quite sure that I can handle this, alone. I want you to pack what you need and head south toward Chihuahua. I have placed sufficient funds in your backpack," Sherlock placed his fingers over John's lips to still the protests. "I plan to extract Ahsan, and then catch up to you in a few hours. You must trust no one but me, John, and I need you to follow my instructions exactly."

"No. I won"t. You say it's a trap; well, I won't let you go without me. This is ridiculous," snarled John, pulling his boots on over his socks.

"You are the one they want,John. Once you are caught, the game is over. You must remain free. You will follow my instructions and flee ten minutes after I leave," said Sherlock fiercely.

Sherlock bent down and kissed John hard. His tongue drove in and swept through his lovers mouth. John tried halfheartedly to push away. He knew Sherlock was manipulating him and deliberately short circuiting John's Command and Control functions, yet again. Still, he had to kiss back, pulling in the sexy-pouty lip and biting it gently.

The World's Most Manipulative Consulting Detective bit back hard on John's lip and then rained down gentle teasing kisses along John's neck. He suddenly bit down again and sucked leaving a painful bruise where John's shoulder met his neck. It left the army doctor gasping.

"I estimate that it will take you at least five minutes to find the key to the handcuffs, John. Do as I ask. Escape to Chihuahua and I will come to find you soon," said Sherlock.

John tugged his left arm in vain against the handcuff, pulling the entire bed away from the wall. Sherlock dodged a flying right punch. He ducked in and kissed his hissing and sputtering blogger one last time before running out of the room.

John erupted with one ringing cry of protest, "Sherlock!"

The younger man ignored the curses that followed and rushed down the steps and through the darkened lobby.

Sherlock seriously considered abandoning was the detective's primary concern, and, after all, Mycroft could easily extract Ahsan later. However, John always spouted military maxims like 'leave no man behind'. The detective knew that John would never abandon a friend, and John would never forgive Sherlock if Ahsan, was left behind. Therefore, he had to rescue Ahsan for John.

Within minutes, Sherlock arrived at the local Police station. It took persistent questioning in both Spanish and English before Sherlock could gain any answers. Apparently, the police had arrested Ahsan on suspicion of drug possession. Nevertheless, the police would neither discuss the evidence with Sherlock, nor would they allow him to talk to the young Pakistani-American.

It was clear that Sherlock could accomplish nothing further at the station, and he stormed to the door. Before he could escape, two officers grabbed his arms. Speaking only in Spanish (as if that would confuse him, sneered Sherlock to himself), they confiscated his papers and mobile phone. Just as Sherlock had suspected, this was a trap. Fear for John began to gnaw deep in his chest. Was John safe? Would he be so foolish as to follow after Sherlock? Surely John would follow Sherlock's explicit instructions and flee towards Chihuahua.

Sherlock looked for escape. He noted that the janitor had cigarettes in his back pocket. Sherlock easily pick-pocketed the janitor for matches. Then he started a smoldering fire in the women's room (Why make himself the obvious suspect; let them blame it on the prostitutes who had begun processing a few minutes before Sherlock's arrival.)

Soon the police station was filling with smoke, in the ensuing confusion, Sherlock darted out the door and ran into several officers in front of the station. Each officer held a handgun pointed at Sherlock.

Sherlock uttered empty threats, as the Mexican policemen locked the detective in a dingy, grey interrogation room. In spite of the lingering smoke, the room smelled of old sweat and something even more vile. They left him alone with a steaming cup of some liquid that may once have been coffee.

Next, a two detectives, apparently distant cousins of Anderson, swamped Sherlock with paperwork and endless, pointless questions. They charged him with nothing but still refused to let him leave. He was not allowed to contact anyone, not even the British Embassy.

This was a bit not good. No one knew where he was except John, who was, hopefully, already far away from Juarez. The consulting detective tried to devise a strategy that would allow him to escape, allow him to check on Ahsan, or (and this was distasteful) allow him to contact the British Government.

His fingers drummed nervously on the sticky table top. He desperately craved nicotine; he should have stolen the janitor's cigarettes, when he had the chance.

The hours dragged past. He had not, as yet, been able to formulate a plan of escape. He heard nothing about John Watson. That was good, it probably meant that John had actually followed Sherlock's instructions and fled south.

Unless John was so idiotic that he couldn't find the key. No, John was, indeed, an idiot, but he was still less idiotic than 99% of the human race. He was also more determined and stubborn than any one, other than Sherlock himself. So John would have freed himself one way or another; so John must be free and heading to Chihuahua.

Unless this whole police fiasco was a decoy, and Sherlock had all but delivered John into the hands of kidnappers. Underneath his calm demeanor, Sherlock broke out into a sweat. His agitated fingers danced even faster on top of the table.

He inclined his head when the door opened, and a pretty, dark-haired Mexican Policewoman entered. Two policemen stood guard behind her, with guns drawn. She handed Sherlock another cup of the so-called coffee.

"Està fresco. Beba ahora, por favor," she offered with a smile. Then she exited, locking the door behind her.

Sherlock's head tilted down towards the cup and back towards the door; his eyes narrowed. The disguise did not hide the woman's blue eyes, snub nose, pink complexion or petite frame. The World's Only Consulting Detective had immediately recognized Mary Morstan of the CIA.

He instinctively distrusted Mary Morstan, who may still have personal designs on his John. Therefore, the detective only pretended to sip his coffee. Then he pretended to cough, spilling a good bit of the coffee. There was a note crudely written at the bottom of the cup. No doubt such subterfuge seemed clever to agents of the CIA. The note read:

Extraction-10 minutes MH Krug Brut 1988

Mycroft! Well, not Mycroft personally of course; it wasn't even Mycroft's handwriting. But that was his brother's favorite champagne; no doubt signalling that this note and the messenger were to be trusted.

Yes, somehow, the British Government was aware of Sherlock's detention and would intervene. Well, what took the fat man so long anyway, and why was Morstan of the CIA involved?

Sherlock sat with his leg crossed over his knee, mentally counting down the time. Mycroft's Mexican minions clearly lost track of the time, because it was eleven minutes and 43 seconds before the first explosion occurred. Sherlock ran to the door, but it was still locked.

A second explosion, louder than the first, rocked the station and Sherlock heard people running. They were getting closer; the detective braced himself, ready to fight. The door burst open.

"Move your ass, Holmes!" yelled Mary Morstan. Ahsan, wide-eyed, but apparently uninjured, stood behind the CIA agent with a handgun.

"Are you sure you know how to handle that gun?" Sherlock asked Ahsan.

"Yes, yes of course, don't be so very ridiculous. John Watson gave me the lessons," snapped the younger man.

"Oh my God you two, this isn't the time to argue. To the side door, follow me," said Morstan. She led them past an unlocked gate.

Guns fired ahead of them in the hallway. As they came around the corner they saw two men in police uniform pointing guns down the corridor that led to the lobby and offices. Ahsan raised his gun.

"No, Ahsan, those are our agents," said Mary Morstan. "They'll cover us. Come on!"

Mary led Sherlock and Ahsan to an open fire exit, the bright mid-morning sun streamed in. Outside, tall, black man, wearing the uniform of the Mexican Federal Police, stood by a black van. He held his rifle casually. Sherlock recognized Mitchell of the CIA.

"In the van, hurry," yelled the tall agent.

Sherlock turned and tried to duck down the alley, but Mitchell grabbed him by the back of his jacket. "Holmes, it's too late to go after Watson now." The consulting detective struggled harder and tried to twist around.

"OK, Holmes, take it easy, don't get all panicky. We pretty sure think he's OK, for now at any rate. Just get in the damned van. I'll try to explain everything..."

It took three minutes of cursing and pointless thrashing around before John could force himself to calm down enough to look for the key to the bloody handcuffs. With his left hand cuffed to the bed, John tried searching for the key in his pants pockets, the nightstand, under the pillows and then in his boots. He found the bloody key inside his bloody right boot, under the bloody lining. Stupid, arrogant, son of bitch Sherlock bloody Holmes, the army doctor growled viciously.

John shoved his boot back on and pulled a tee-shirt over his head. He couldn't find his jumper so he grabbed Sherlock's purple shirt and pulled in on over his shirt, ready to run after the love of his life, the stupid know-it-all git.

John jumped when his phone alerted him to a message.

Odd, it was a picture of Sherlock entering the police station. The detective must have just arrived at there. Why the picture? John felt very uneasy as he dug desperately for his handgun at the bottom of his backpack.

With another warning ping, a text message followed .

As you see, my men have your friends in their sights. Come to the lobby. Unarmed and alone. You have five minutes before my friends begin to shoot.

"Shite. Bloody hell," muttered John, trying to call Sherlock.

"Pick up your bloody phone, Sherlock. Pick up. Pick up….No. No, not voice mail." He tried dialing the consulting detective again. Then he tried Ahsan's mobile phone.

John froze, as his phone pinged again.

Another picture showed Sherlock standing in the station, one hand raised in agitation; no doubt, he was arguing with the police. A typical Sherlockinan tantrum appeared to be in full swing. There was no sign of Ahsan.

So what then? Were the police cooperating with the people making these threats?

The phone pinged yet again. John broke out in a cold sweat

You have one minute.

Damn. Bloody fucking hell. He began to hyperventilate. Hell, get a grip on yourself Watson, he thought. What to do? What do I do?

There was no choice. No bloody choice at all. Still, there was one thing he could do. He sent his own text. In his haste, his frantic fingers stumbled over the screen.

Mycroft. Sherlok in popp police custdy? juarez Mexico. extreme danger XXX Possib, from dimitri? potect my loved ones if u want yr stupid wepon. I mean itJw

John dropped his phone on the bed. He ran out the door and clattered down the steps. Victor Trevor was waiting for him with a smile in the dimly lit lobby. John scrawled a note quickly on the wall, before approaching his kidnappers.

Well, Vicky. Big surprise, NOT, thought John, going into soldier mode. John parted his lips in a feral grin, "Hello, Vicky. I see you've been demoted to errand boy. I bet you got in trouble for losing some of your fairy dust. Isn't that what you call it, since you're a fairy and all?" said John, still smiling.

A couple of large men had grabbed John's arms. Only when John was safely restrained, did Victor get close enough to slap John with the butt of his gun. John's head was ringing and his jaw went numb. He still managed to kick the bloody bastard in the shin. He forced himself to smile at Vicky, despite the pain.

"Christ is that the best you can do, Vicky? My poor, old, sickly mum hit harder than that," taunted John. Victor lunged forward to strike the army doctor again, but the Big and Bald guy pushed Victor aside, muttering something unintelligible.

Oh God, that is almost definitely Russian, thought John, with a sinking feeling. Yup, I am well and truly fucked. The two huge men dragged the army doctor out into the sleepy, predawn street. A black car with tinted glass waited in front of the old hotel. And why were the cars always black?

Big and Ugly got in first. John was forced roughly into the car by Big and Bald. But Big and Bald is pretty damn ugly too, thought John, rubbing his shoulder that already protested against the manhandling.

The small blond was squeezed in tightly between the two big and distinctly unfriendly men. Victor was in the front seat.

"I will not tell you anything, if I cannot be assured of my friend's safety," gasped John.

"I don't need to hear your pitiful whinging right now, Little Johnny,' sniggered Victor. "I imagine that you'll tell Dimitri everything he wants to know. He has that way about him," said Trevor chuckling to himself.

The car sped off with the army doctor trapped inside. John had no way of knowing if Sherlock was safe or even if he was alive. Christ, Mycroft had to help the World's Only Consulting Detective. Please God, let Sherlock and Ahsan be all right. I don't care what you do with me, but please let them be all right.\

"No," yelled Sherlock. "I have to find John. Let me go." The furious detective struggled to free himself from Mitchell and one of the other agents. Sherlock's jaw clenched in fury, while the muscles of his neck turned rigid. The traitorous Ahsan had apparently already surrendered to the agents.

"Look we were sent by your brother, Mycroft Holmes. We're here to help you,"," yelled Mitchell. "We don't know who got him, but Watson was abducted three or four hours ago. We're working on it. If you want to help him, then help us. Look we've got to go now. The Mexican Federal Police are willing to turn a blind eye on your escape as a favor to Britain, but we have to move fast before they change their minds. Will you please just get in the van, so we can get the hell out of here and figure out what to do next to help your friend?"

Sherlock froze, as his mind reeled. His pulse and respirations raced. Heart pounding, skin perspiring, stomach cramping, these are all physical signs of panic, thought the detective. But that's impossible. I do not panic. John is lost. John cannot be lost. I told him to escape. He must have escaped, and I cannot be feeling panic.

Mitchell picked up the immobile detective and threw him into the van. The thin man landed on top of Morstan and Ahsan in a tangle of limbs. Morstan muttered a few rather piquant curses under her breath, while Ahsan tried to shove the lanky detective off the petite woman.

Mitchell climbed over all of them to get into the back of the van. He was followed by the last two agents, who scrambled in. Immediately, the vehicle sped off, driven by another unknown minion.

Sherlock's mind continued to fire randomly. I handcuffed John in his room. Was John captured because I tapped him there? John must be hiding. I kissed John, but I didn't tell him that I love him. If John was in danger, he would run or hide. John cannot be lost. Surely, John has to know that I love him. He knows that I'll come after him…

"We have to get John," said Sherlock, trying to control his panting and his thinking.

"Listen to me," insisted Mary, roughly pushing Ahsan back against the seat so that she could look at the detective while she talked, "Just listen, Holmes. Someone dragged Watson out of the Hotel at around 4 am, hours ago. One of our agents got a cleaning person to tell us what she saw. John was met in the lobby by three tall men. One was skinny, but the other two were very big. They were mostly speaking a language that the cleaner didn't recognize. Then the men took John to a black car. He didn't seem to be struggling, but a large man held each of his arms. According to the cleaner, Watson had no obvious injuries other than a cut on his face. Neither his room nor the lobby showed any signs of a struggle. You'll want to see his phone eventually. There's apparently some texts on his phone, that seem to explain why he surrendered to whoever it was that took them."

"One other thing," added Mitchell. "MI6 searched the hotel, they found the word 'Vicky' written on the wall of the staircase with a pen. They also found a pen at the bottom of the stairs. It's being analyzed now, but they've already lifted some prints from the pen. The prints match John Watson."

Victor? Victor Trevor took John? I will kill him. I will kill him painfully. Any harm that John suffers, Victor will suffer twice over.

"Vicky!" spat Ahsan. "I know Vicky. Vicky means Victor Trevor. John Watson calls him Vicky because he's a lowlife drug pusher, and he was very rude to John Watson in Dallas. And, I know some of you too. You are CIA. You are Ms. Mary Morstan and Mr. Mitchell whose first name I do not know. I don't know the other CIA agents."

"Not CIA, at least not right now" said Morstan, pulling off her black wig and shaking out her blond hair.

"Morstan and I have been reassigned to assist MI6," said Mitchell. "We won't work with Jones anymore. We know he's compromised, but we have no proof, yet. These two guys back here are actually MI6, and the driver, he's CIA, like Morstan and I used to be.

"Why are we leaving Juarez? I need to look for John Watson; I need to look for evidence…" said Sherlock.

"I told you," said Mitchell slowly. "You have to leave Mexico now. MI6 has combed the hotel inside and out. They are not complete imbeciles, despite what you might think. And Watson is long gone. A private jet owned by Sergi Kristoff, who just happens to be Dimitri's cousin, took off from the airport of Ciudad Juarez more than three hours ago. I think we can assume that John Watson is over a thousand miles away from here by now. It's anybody's guess where they'll take him."

"I don't guess; I deduce, but I need facts. I need to see John's phone, his notebook, anything that you have," said the detective. He tried to shove all his useless emotions into his Mind Palace. He tried to lock away all his mental images of John (John laughing, John the blushing lover, John the hero running from the Russian Mafia, John naked and looking at Sherlock with lust in his eyes, John a prisoner with a cut on his face, John the soldier shooting at the attackers at the gas station, John sleeping with touseled hair, John leaning against a wall giggling after a chase, John getting shot execution style...)

"I need a laptop now,' continued the detective trying to hide his shaky breath. "I need descriptions of the jet with its tail number. You need to search all the West Coast Airports for the private jet, search north of here. The route via the southern hemisphere would be a large and costly detour. They have to be heading to Asia, and they'll need to stop and refuel. They'll probably stop in California and Alaska but I cannot be sure which airports. We'll need to figure in the jets probable range and the weather conditions. We could use the advice of an experienced pilot."

"You think Dimitri is heading back to Russia…" began Mitchell.

"No, no, no! Try not to be an idiot," snapped Sherlock. "I don't have time for idiots. John is the map that everyone wants. Now, Dimitri has the map. He will obviously take John to Afghanistan. John has said several times that the locations are not marked in any way. They were never mapped by GPS. Dimitri will have to keep John alive, since John will have to personally lead them to each cache."

Ahsan looked up as they crossed the Bridge of the Americas back into El Paso, Texas. "How did you find me and Sherlock Holmes at the police station?"

"John texted Mycroft Holmes. It seems it was the last thing he did before he was taken, by that Victor Trevor fellow," said Morstan.

"Not Victor, we call him Vicky because he is a bloody, little bastard and a low-life drug pusher. Get it bloody right," said Ahsan. "And now you must give Sherlock Holmes the phone of John Watson and the computer that he needs so that he can help us save John Watson."

Almost everyone turned to look at Ahsan. Sherlock narrowed his eyes at the young man.

"What? Sherlock Holmes is the World's Greatest Detective; John Watson has told me this," said Ahsan. "So Sherlock Holmes will find John Watson, and we will help him because you will have orders from the British Government who likes to give orders and doesn't like leg work. I will help because I will one day be a soldier of fortune like John Watson." Ahsan nodded for emphasis, "Oh, and can I call you Mary?" Ahsan added with a brilliant smile for Mary Morstan.

"I need a phone at the very least," demanded Sherlock, glaring at Ahsan. "I need one now."

"Mr. Sherlock Holmes needs a phone," echoed Ahsan. "Please to give me one of yours. Hurry, we have to time for wasting!" Mary dug out her phone and handed it to Ahsan, who handed it to the consulting detective.

Sherlock quickly dialed Mycroft's private number using Morstan's mobile phone.

"Agent Morstan I presume,"said Mycroft tersely.

"Mycroft…" began Sherlock.

"Sherlock! I understand that you have been freed, at no small expense I might add. Your timing is terrible as always, you have interrupted an important meeting with the Mexican ambassador and the assistant of the American ambassador. We are discussing the international incident that you and your friends very nearly precipitated," said Mycroft coldly.

"Dimitri has John," said Sherlock curtly.

"I know, Sherlock," said Mycroft searching for a better response.

"I need to find John," persisted Sherlock, "They will certainly hurt him when he doesn't give them the information that they want. They will be taking him to Afghanistan…"

"Sherlock, I assure you that I am most eager to reacquire Captain Watson, and I am in contact with other governments who are equally concerned," said Mycroft with a sigh.

"You must help me to find John…" said Sherlock.

"No, you may assist us, in locating Captain Watson. You may even be allowed to directly assist in his rescue, but only if you follow my directions," said the British Government speaking more harshly. "You will come home at once. You will work with the agents assigned to this case. You will coöperate with your assigned handlers…"

"I must follow John now!" barked the detective, feeling the panic building again. This was taking too long; this was all going to take too long.

"Sherlock, listen to reason. Kristoff's jet has already been located at LAX, abandoned. We have no idea where they took Captain Watson next. Watson could be somewhere in California or on another private aircraft to Timbuktu, for all we know. Obviously, there is no way to follow him," said Mycroft. "You will come back to London…"

"No, no, no!" shouted Sherlock, more furious than ever with his less than helpful brother "Obviously, they will take him to South Asia to look for the nukes. Obviously, they will head up the West Coast to refuel before crossing the Pacific. The trail must be clear, even to the idiots that you hire. I insist on heading to California and then north up the West Coast. If I am given access to the appropriate data bases, I can determine precisely where they are going. I already asked that all West Coast airports be watched; maybe you could assist in that and stop wasting my time."

"Sherlock, your methods did not keep Dr. Watson safe…"began Mycroft.

Sherlock gasped because Mycroft was indeed correct; he had not kept John safe, still... "And neither did your methods, brother," hissed Sherlock venomously. "Furthermore, you conspired with the CIA to embroil John in this fiasco. You could have simply asked us to find your stupid nukes, and John and I would have been done with this by now. But no, you made this needlessly complicated and inexcusably endangered my John."

"I was merely protecting you, Sherlock," replied Mycroft, with a long-suffering sigh. "This mission was never meant for you. It is too dangerous and…"

"So you send my John on a suicide mission alone, when John and I are supposed to work together. Now that you have bolloxed this up and endangered the life of John Watson, you will assist me. You will let me follow him, my way," demanded Sherlock.

"Your John? Really, Sherlock, sentiment from you? You do remember that sentiment is a liability?" said the British Government, sternly.

"Yes, Mycroft. My John. He is mine. You will never have him and neither will anyone else," yelled Sherlock. He looked around at the others. He needed John right now to deal with his fat, stupid brother.

Sherlock suddenly spotted a potential assistant. He shoved the phone at Ahsan. "Ahsan, deal with this…this person for me. Make sure he provides a private jet for us. We will need to move swiftly. Well go on, Ahsan. You have been listening, make the arrangements."

Nonplussed, Ahsan stared at the pale detective for a moment. Mycroft's tinny voice could be heard issuing instructions from the mobile phone.

"Well, move it along, Ahsan. Time is of the essence," commanded Sherlock."Please," he added grudgingly.

The attractive young man took a deep breath and sat up straight, just like John Watson. He even rubbed the bridge of his nose, like the absent doctor. "OK. Shut up then, Mr. British Government," said Ahsan into the phone.

"Who is this?" demanded the affronted British Government.

"I am Ahsan Guhlam. I am the assistant of Dr. John Watson, who is the assistant and exclusive and permanent partner of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the World's Best Detective and so I am now the temporary assistant of Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Ahsan. "OK. He requires a jet so that he can follow and rescue Dr. John Watson. Otherwise you will miss the ship and it will sail away with your weapons and it will all be on top of your head."

"Very good Ahsan, but it's miss the boat…" murmured Sherlock.

"You shut up, as I am in bargaining now," Ahsan whispered back to the detective.

"What you ask for is impossible," said Mycroft silkily.

"Oh no. John Watson has told me all about what you can do, Mycroft Holmes. So nothing is impossible," said the earnest young negotiator. "Now Mr. Sherlock Holmes needs a jet and funds, in cash, and satellite phones that will not be traceable and two laptops in case one gets damaged and he needs them all the day before yesterday."

"What could Dr. Watson possibly have said about me? I fill a minor post in the British Government," said the British Government.

"Oh yes. He said you'd say that. He knew and now I know that you are the British Government, which is obvious anyway since the CIA is working for you already. I am not so stupid you know," said Ahsan.

Mycroft cleared his throat, a possible sign of weakening, thought Sherlock with a temporary sense of victory. "Nevertheless Mr. Guhlam, I will need to speak to my brother…"

"No. He is done speaking with you. He is busy thinking. That is his job. He does the thinking and he will tell us how to find John Watson," Ahsan took another breath before he continued. "John Watson told me that this might all be happening, and now I have to try to fill his massive shoes and assist and protect Sherlock Holmes until John Watson is back. I have all my instructions. Now stop wasting the time, please. Make your counter offer. I thought you were a diplomat not a time waster."

Mycroft sighed, "Fine. I will consider sending a jet but Sherlock, and you I suppose, must agree to work with Mitchell's team and the handlers I send on the jet. Sherlock must abide by his handler's decisions if it involves his safety or the success of the mission. And the goal must be to secure the weapons."

"He means the jet is already en-route, and find out the names of the handlers," murmured Sherlock. "And no deal that sacrifices John."

"Fine," said Ahsan. "Who? Who are your handlers? And the first goal is to find and save John Watson, and then we can secure your secret weapons."

"John Watson would agree that the safety of the weapons comes first," said Mycroft smugly.

"John Watson is not bargaining. Ahsan Guhlam is negotiating for Sherlock Holmes, and we say his safety is more important. Anyway, how do think to find your secret weapons without John Watson?" said Ahasn triumphantly.

"Fine. Watson and the weapons are equal priority, and my brother will follow his handler's advice," conceded Mycroft.

"Not without we know who are the handlers," said the young negotiator.

"Friends of Sherlock Holmes," said Mycroft with an edge to his voice.

"I don't have any friends," whispered Sherlock.

"Yes you do; you are even much more stubborn than John Watson said. And so is your brother," Ahsan whispered back.

" I heard that," said Mycroft unamused.

"We are still wasting the valuable time. Who are the handlers Mycroft Holmes," demanded Ahsan.

"Gregory Lestrade, an old friend of Sherlock's." said Mycroft. Sherlock made a tsk'ing sound. "And Irene Adler, another old friend. They both have my full confidence, and this is non-negotiable."

"Oh my God! You are the snake in the grass like my friend John Watson warned me. You will be trying to break the exclusive and permanent partnership of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes with The Woman from Hell. Yes, yes I know all about her. No I do not agree…"

"Ahsan, I think I can handle The Woman," said Sherlock relishing the upcoming challenge.

"Oh yes, like you handled Vicky," hissed Ahsan, furiously. "You are maybe an idiot after all. I shall make you sorry if you pull any more Vicky stunts on Captain John Watson, Sherlock Holmes."

"You have changed, Ahsan. You never used to be rude or pushy," said the affronted detective. "And you can be left behind, if you become difficult."

"Oh no, he's coming, with me if necessary," said Mary Morstan. "He obviously has the measure of you and your brother too. Ahsan is definitely an asset to this team. It's impressive how well Johnny trained him, in such a short period of time…"

"And John Watson hates being called Johnny," said Ahsan, turning on the former CIA agent. "He will be called John Watson in front of me. And I can find my way all by myself to where John Watson is going if I have to. He already told us once when he was trying to give you his mental map. I am not so stupid just because I have an accent you know."

"Clearly," huffed the World's Only Consulting Detective. Mary smiled encouragingly at Ahsan.

"If we may conclude our negotiations Mr. Guhlam. I do have matters of state that await," said Mycroft with a superior tone.

"Fine. I will be watching your Fem-fatality Woman most closely. Don't forget the cash, phones and laptops and also I will need a handgun, a Sig Sauer P226 or Walther PPK will be most good. Yes, yes and make that two guns because John Watson will need one when I find him, even if some detective decides to mess with Femininely Fatal Women instead of worrying about war heroes who are brave and loyal and who expected a permanently exclusive relationship." Sherlock rolled his eyes and tilted his head to give Ahsan his patented death glare. The young man, having been prepared by the missing army doctor, ignored the glare.

"Very well, Mr. Guhlam, I believe that we have an agreement," said Mycroft secretly quite pleased that Sherlock would have several trusted handlers to supervise him, including the fierce young negotiator.

"Very well yourself, Mr. Mycroft Holmes. At what time will we find the jet at the El Paso airport?" asked Ahsan.

"Sherlock told you," said the British Government flatly.

"Maybe, maybe not," said Ahsan, in an airy imitation of consulting detective complete with hand movements. Mary and Mitchell both chuckled with appreciation.

"I am told the jet is available now," said Mycroft Holmes. "Your handlers will be in touch with agent Morstan and will meet up with you at LAX or in Anchorage. I look forward to dealing with you again Mr. Guhlam; you show promise. Tell my brother goodbye and good luck."

Sherlock grimaced. "Tell my brother to stop being an insufferable know-it-all. Well, you should have asked for my violin, Ahsan. Unlike my brother, I am not so impressed with your negotiations."

"You should have asked me to ask for the violin. I am not the mind reader, Sherlock Holmes," returned Ahsan. "And you were the one who accepted the handlers when Mycroft Holmes wants to play games with A Fatally Feminine Woman and break John Watson's heart again. John Watson will probably go out an shoot more snakes now, and that will be your stupid fault."

"It's femme fatale," snarled Sherlock. "and I know how to keep my promises, so John will not have to go out and shoot a snake. This is ridiculous. I refuse to discuss snakes. I refuse to discuss this at all. Someone needs to get the phones and laptops before we get to the airport. When will I have access to John's phone? When can I interview the agents who examined the hotel and no doubt missed all the vital clues? Well, Ahsan, since you are the negotiator, please make the appropriate arrangements. In the meantime, I must think so all idiotic conversation must cease."

Idiots. I am surrounded by idiots. As if The Woman could compare to John. Good God, does everyone think that I cannot tell the difference between iron pyrite and gold?* John is so obviously superior to anyone else. John.

John had a cut on his face. Where else has he been hurt? Where will they take him? Will they torture him immediately, or will they wait? It's only a matter of time.

I must find John.

There was a vast emptiness in his chest as he worried about his blogger in the hands of the Russian mafia. This was terrible. It was beyond terrible. He needed his army doctor back safely.

Oh for God's sake, John, thought Sherlock, please just tell them something, anything to gain time. Just give them what ever they want. We can fix things afterward. Please don't be heroic, John. Please just hold on until we find you.

Mycroft returned to his meeting. "My apologies, gentleman. As I am sure you understand, the situation is very fluid at this time and it requires constant supervision"

"Mr. Holmes, you and your brother have allowed Captain Watson to surrender himself to the Russian," began the angry American. "Dimitri will obtain the nukes in no time. Your Captain is probably already talking to protect his precious boyfriend, if not to protect himself…"

"Ambassador, your agent Jones screwed up the mission right from the beginning. Had he been honest, had Captain Watson trusted him, we might have had the nukes in our hands already. It was clearly Jones who fed information straight to Dimitri. He directly contributed to the abduction of Captain Watson, a decorated war hero and a family friend. Clearly, the chances that Captain Watson will survive this fiasco are becoming slim, thanks to American operatives," returned the British Government, "As for Captain Watson revealing any significant information, I am quite certain that he will die before delivering the weapons to an enemy. I suspect that he would even sacrifice his partner, if it meant saving the lives of thousands, although that would surely destroy the Captain in the process."

"Gentlemen, your arguments are pointless. I might complain that my country should have been advised before these men infiltrated Mexico, no?" said the Mexican Ambassador. "Still, it is, as you say, water under the bridge. Let us forget our complaints and arguments. Let us move us forward. Mr. Holmes, I would like to know, what do you suggest?"

"I suggest we locate Captain Watson, and, if possible, reacquire him," said Mycroft. "Failing that, we must be prepared to intercept anyone attempting to remove sensitive materials out of Afghanistan or Pakistan."

"That's a hell of lot of territory to cover. Why don't we just sacrifice the Captain. Shoot his plane out of the sky, then nobody gets the nukes?" said the American.

The Mexican Ambassador shook his head sympathetically, as Mycroft smiled at the stupid man, "To begin with, we do not know where our Captain is, which makes shooting him out of the sky rather difficult even for your military. Secondly, we do not want to sacrifice Captain Watson, because then no one will know where the nukes are until someone accidentally finds them. Unfortunately, that will almost certainly be the Taliban since they know the territory. And I assure you, they are currently combing the country side searching for the weapons, thanks to Jones and his leaks."

"Although it would be difficult personally, I would not hesitate to sacrifice our Captain Watson if I thought it in England's best interest. However, it is clearly not advisable. I have deployed our best people, including a couple of American volunteers,who shall remain nameless given our lack of security to date. One of our teams will find and reacquire Watson. I view this as a delay, not a defeat," said the smarmy British Government.

"And is your brother, the Captain's boyfriend, on one of these teams?" asked the American, wearing a nasty smirk.

The temperature of the room seemed to drop several degrees. "Sherlock Holmes is uniquely qualified to find Captain Watson. In fact, I doubt that we will succeed without his assistance. His hypothetical personal relationship with Watson is irrelevant," said the Iceman. The abrasive American, obviously a political appointee, would have to be recalled almost immediately; Mycroft did not think he could stand any more meetings with the imbecile. The British Government would contact the American Ambassador almost immediately. Thank God the American Ambassador was not an idiot.

"And, given his reputation, who will help to control the younger and famously impetuous Mr. Holmes," asked the Mexican Ambassador, politely yet firmly.

"I have arranged for handlers for my younger brother, and he has agreed to coöperate with them," said Mycroft with a strained smile. "I belive that there is no more for us to do until we get more information. I have a number of phone calls to make, gentleman. Let us all keep in touch with one another, shall we?."

Mycroft watched the two men leave the room, bickering over some trade agreement. The British Government poured himself a glass of brandy. He idly spun a the globe sitting on the sideboard.

Where would Dimitri be most likely to go? Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, Kolkata? The powerful criminal had a power base in each city.

It was time to begin working with the various ambassadors so that forces could be mobilized, once Dimitri shows his hand. Captain Watson really must be reacquired. Aside from the questions of international terrorism and nuclear threats, John Watson had managed to become a necessity for Mycroft's younger brother.

Irene Adler might be able to attract Sherlock away from Captain Watson, but really the possibility was very slim. At best, Mycroft gave her a 10-15% probability of success with his brother, Sherlock. He wasn't even sure if he prefered her over the Captain. Now that she was under Mycroft's thumb, she was very easy to control, which Mycroft greatly desired. And she was probably safer for Sherlock in the long run. Still, the army Captain, however dangerous, had made great strides with Sherlock and at least he was honest...

He spun the globe again and finished his brandy. He rang for his PA, the woman sometimes known as Anthea.

"Please send in the Chinese Ambassador as soon as he arrives," he told the woman who was typing busily on her smart phone. "You have ensured the safety of Mrs. Hudson and Harriet Watson? You have initiated surveillance over the Captain's other friends?"

"Yes, everything is done, sir, as you requested," she replied.

"Excellent," he smiled. Then frowned. "Oh, and don't forget to send some flowers to Mummy; she was very displeased with me. Send a dozen roses. She is siding with Sherlock once again."

The British Government sighed, thinking, 'Mummy always liked Sherlock best.'

Mummy would be very displeased, if Mycroft did not reacquire that army Captain. "Make that two dozen roses, my dear. And before I meet with the Chinese Ambassador, get me first Agent Mitchell and then Detective Inspector Lestrade on the phone. I need to make sure we reacquire that troublesome army doctor as soon as possible."

"Which army doctor?" asked his PA, typing away.

"Why, Doctor John Watson of course."

The End-for now


*Iron pyrite is fool's gold.

My spanish is undoubtedly as poor as my French or Latin. Please excuse my mistakes. Please correct any mistakes via PM or reviews.

This ends My Apologies. The sequel, Into the Fire, should begin in a week or two at the most; I hope. (Please note that my fingers are crossed, because stuff happens.) (Please also note that the title of the sequel is tentative, because I almost always end up disliking the titles of my fics.)

Thank you to everyone who read, followed and favorited My Apologies.

Thanks InuChimera7410, Wicked Winter, darkhearted243, AiLovesS, SamuelE8688, power0girl, Rose O'Sharon, I'm Nova and ruvy91 for reviewing Chapter 21, your reviews and comments mean the world to me.

An extra big THANK YOU to everyone who reviewed my fic, often more than once, because your comments really help me to improve my writing and your encouragement motivates me so very much.

Disclaimer-I do not own the rights to Sherlock or Watson. This fiction is intended purely as light entertainment for myself and like-minded Johnlock shippers.