A/N: TW for noncon and attempted sexual assault.

No one has managed to intrigue Ian Adler as much as Sherlock Holmes, but the client bound to the bed comes close.

Ian watches as the raven-haired man shifts on the mattress, skin luminous against the dark sheets. Lean but well-developed muscles strain against the cuffs that bind his wrists and ankles to the bed's iron frame. His cock, which is pierced, lies red and dripping against his flat belly.

"Comfortable, Mr. Brook?"

The man has a leather bit between his teeth, so he can only nod in reply.

"Yes? Then I'm clearly not doing my job."

After rolling up the sleeves of his black silk shirt, Ian selects a long leather cord from the array of implements on the bedside table. Seeing the curiosity in the man's stare, he winks.

"This cord doesn't look as formidable as the rest of the toys in my arsenal, does it? But you'll be pleasantly surprised by what it can do."

He threads it through the metal ring in Brook's collar and ties a knot. Then, with a wicked smile, he attaches the other end to the man's cock, running the cord through the circular Prince Albert piercing before wrapping it several times below the head. His fingers, long and sleek in tight leather gloves, are instantly covered with pre-ejaculate.

"Now you've gotten me dirty, Mr. Brook." When he finishes tying the knot directly over the sensitive spot beneath the glans, Ian wipes his glove clean on the man's lips. "I'm afraid that means punishment."

The gaze that meets his own as he picks up the riding crop is full of apprehension as well as excitement. There's even a trace of defiance, which Ian loves. Running the crop's tip along one cheekbone, he croons, "Look at that face. So angelic. But you've also got a touch of hellfire in you, don't you? I see it in your eyes."

Brook stills, and for a split second Ian does see something in those boyish features that makes him uneasy. He quickly collects himself.

"You're allowed to beg for mercy as best you can," he says just before bringing the crop down on one sweaty nipple.

The impact is loud but the man's muffled cry is louder. He arches his back, a movement that draws the collar further up his neck and causes the cord to tighten, yanking on his cock and stimulating its sweet spot. The resulting flash of pain and pleasure makes him struggle more, which in turn intensifies the torture. Ian knows what he is doing: there will be no penile damage, but for a few days this client won't be able do up his zip or even take a piss without feeling -and remembering- the Man's handiwork.

Ian runs the crop tip slowly to the other nipple. "When you told me you were an actor, I visited your website. You're very good. But the problem with actors is that you're never sure whether or not they're assuming a role with you."

Brook, who'd been watching the crop's progress, looks up at him, startled.

"Oh, I'm not judging. Putting on a facade must be second nature to you by now. It just means I'll have to work a little harder to meet the real Richard Brook. And I'm delighted to accept the challenge."

He strikes again, harder this time. The young man screams and resumes his thrashing, blissfully suspended in that surreal zone between pain and pleasure.

An hour later, the small room in Ian's townhouse smells of sweat, damp leather, hot wax, and cooling semen. Richard Brook, his skin pink with crop welts and light wax burns, lies bonelessly on the bed, lips parted in a dreamy smile as he basks in the hormones. When Ian removes the gag, he licks his lips and drawls, "That was fucking fantastic. Worth every penny."

"I'm glad I met your expectations." Ian peels off the latex gloves he'd worn for the prostate massage before undoing the restraints. "My assistant will see to you now. Misty!"

When the party in question- a part-time sub who is covering for his regular valet tonight- fails to appear, the Man frowns and approaches the doorway.


"There was just one thing you failed to do, Mr. Adler," Brook says.

Ian turns around.

"You didn't meet the real Richard Brook. Because he doesn't exist." The man raises himself onto his elbows and gives a taunting little wave. "Jim Moriarty. Hi."

The Man tenses. "What's going on here?"

Brook / Moriarty's face instantly loses its fucked-out languor and assumes a cunning expression.

"Seb, darling, he's all yours."

The floorboards behind Ian creak, but before he can turn around or pull the knife from his belt, something heavy slams into the back of his head. His last conscious thought before blacking out is I did see hellfire in those eyes.

He regains consciousness as they position him on a chair, one holding him upright while the other pulls his arms back. When he feels rope being wound around his wrists, Ian stays unresponsive but tightens his muscles there. He's been tied up before –and not always under erotic circumstances – and knows that once he relaxes, there will be just enough slack in the rope to let him reach the knot. Then he can-

Pain shoots through his wrists as thumbs descend cruelly onto the pressure points. He gasps and his eyes fly open.

"Now, now, Mr. Adler. Not fair to cheat," says the man who now calls himself Jim Moriarty. "I know that trick. Used it myself a few times."

The hands leave his wrists, which are now painfully secured. Then Moriarty strolls around to face him.

"All right," he chirps. "Question and answer time."

He's wearing a light grey Westwood suit, covering Ian's handiwork. Although he looks like the angelic and boyish Richard Brook, Jim Moriarty has the smile of a hyena and eyes of a snake. A fallen angel. Lucifer in the flesh.

"First, a proper introduction is in order, don't you think? I'm James Moriarty, although you can call me Jim. And this is Sebastian Moran."

The man behind Ian goes to join his boss. Moran is a husky six-footer with blond hair cut military style. While Moriarty is sleek and dapper, Moran is all hard edges and thick muscle: his sleeveless shirt shows off bulging biceps, one of which has an exotic tattoo, and tight jeans cling to his solid legs. A long scar bisects his left eyebrow at the outer edge, branding him as a man who is not afraid of danger.

Ian sits up straighter, swallowing back a groan as his head throbs in protest. He wonders about Misty, and whether he should worry about her.

Or grieve.

"Where's my assistant?"

Moran snorts. "Tied up in a closet beneath the stairs. She was still breathing when I left her."

"You won't be that lucky if I get my hands around your neck. What do you both want?"

Moriarty laughs at the threat, but Moran reddens. "Watch it, fuckboy."

His boss touches his massive shoulder. "Seb, please. Mr. Adler's just being a gentleman."

"Gentleman, my arse. This ponce hasn't been a gentleman since he took his first pound for a pounding."

"I beg to differ." Moriarty steps closer to Ian, regarding the Man with real admiration. "He's an artist. A true artist. He doesn't beat people: he changes the world for them. Isn't that right?"

Ian says nothing. He tries to rotate his wrists in their bindings, but these two have done their work well.

Moriarty reaches out and strokes his cheek. "Your clients are powerful people, aren't they?" he croons, managing to sound both mocking and sympathetic at the same time. "Their words can make or break careers. Their decisions change lives. They have everything money and influence can obtain. Which does not always include peace of mind. For that, they go to you."

His hand drifts lower, to Ian's jaw line.

"They pay you to reduce them to flesh and blood and tears and let them be human again for a few hours. Inside this house, the pressures and annoyances of the outside world go away." A pause as his fingers glide down to Ian's throat. "That's what you give Sherlock Holmes every time he comes to you, isn't it? Peace. And distraction."

This isn't the first time Ian has been asked about someone he's dominated. Journalists ring his doorbell on a routine basis, hungry for details about his illustrious clientele. As he meets Moriarty's gaze, his expression has a practiced indifference that conceals his apprehension.

This is about Sherlock. They must want information about him.

"I have no idea who you're talking about," he says.

"Yes, you do. And even if I didn't have photos of him coming here at all hours, your pulse tells me I'm right." His forefinger massages the flesh over Ian's carotid artery. "When I said his name, your heart beat faster. You're not just a bit of rough for him, are you? You're lovers."

Ian jerks back, not wanting Moriarty to see into his soul next. Irritation and worry are now slowly being replaced by fear. These two clearly have an agenda that goes far beyond what he originally expected: robbery, brutalisation, maybe even rape. Horrible as these prospects are, he could survive them. He's experienced them all before, during those days when he was working the fetish clubs to survive. Jim Moriarty is a new threat, and one Ian hopes he can stand up to. For Sherlock's sake as well as his own.

"I can't help you. And do stop touching me."

Moran cracks his knuckles. "Jim, let me take over."

Moriarty steps back and regards his prisoner with something like regret. "You think we want information about Sherlock, don't you? You're wrong, Ian. I already know everything about him. No, I need you to help me burn the heart out of him at last."

He takes a digital camera out of his pocket, places it on the mantle with the lens facing Ian, and turns it on.

"I'm glad we had some playtime together, Ian. It wasn't originally part of the plan, but I was rather curious about what Sherlock sees in you. And now that I know, I truly regret being your last client. All right then, Seb. Proceed."

Moran's fingers dig into his hair, yanking his head back so that a thick length of fabric can be fitted between his teeth. The pain in his battered skull is excruciating, but Ian refuses to give these men the satisfaction of hearing him cry out.

He's not afraid to suffer. He's been doing it most of his life: anti-Semitic taunts from his classmates, curses and blows from roving gangs of gay-bashers, severe 'training' at the hands of so-called Doms who merely wanted a fresh young body to abuse. But Ian is afraid of how Sherlock will react when he sees the video. He glances at the camera on the mantle, its silent eye recording everything for Sherlock's future torment.

I've always represented safety to him. I make the demons go away. Moriarty wants to shatter that for him, show him that safety is an illusion. Only darkness is real.

He knows how Sherlock will handle that message: seek oblivion in the cocaine needle or some other instrument of destruction. Moriarty knows it too. That's why all of this is happening.

And there's nothing he can do to stop it.

He glares up at Moran, who has circled to face him again. His lips pull back from his teeth and his eyes shoot daggers.

"Christ, Jim," the blond man snorts. "Look at him. You'd swear that he was the one with the upper hand."

Moriarty doesn't reply, but a strange grin splits his face. It's an eerie mix of admiration and disdain.

"Is he, Seb?"

Moran reddens. "Fuck, no," he snaps just before backhanding Ian with such force that the man's head jerks back and blood dribbles from one nostril. Ian shivers through the pain and takes several deep breaths through his nose, fighting to stay conscious.

Moran hits him again, this time in the stomach. Ian huffs through his nose as nausea burns in his gut. He starts to disassociate, an old trick that he learned in Israel, where his parents died and he walked through hell to avenge them. When he feels his shirt being torn open, he doesn't see Moran: he sees lush trees, cool lakes, and other balms that his mind conjures to protect him during these final moments.

But the hand that touches his clammy chest is not violent. Fingers trace gentle circles around his nipples, which harden with traitorous pleasure and draw him back into himself.

"You know, Jim, Holmes has really got himself something here," Moran says. "You already got a taste- mind if I have a go?"

"If you must," Moriarty says in a strange voice.

Moran straddles Ian, lowering his firm buttocks onto the Man's thighs. He leans forward and gently, sensuously grinds his hardening crotch against that of his prisoner. Ian shifts on the chair, trying to lessen the intensity of the contact, but it's too late: the friction sends blood rushing to his cock. Growling, Ian arches his back and tries to buck his tormentor off, but Seb braces his meaty hands against the wall behind them and massages their erections together with a terrible –and delicious- slowness. It's only through a supreme exercise of restraint that Ian doesn't cant his hips and make the contact perfect.

"Your heart's going faster than a machine gun," Moran breathes against his neck. "Do I scare you, Adler?"

Ian shakes his head, but the movement turns jerky when Moran's hand slides between his legs. The massage that follows is tortuous: slow, thorough, and with only enough pressure to inflame him further.

"Maybe you're not afraid, but you're sure as fuck turned on."

Moriarty approaches slowly, head cocked. He manages to look fascinated and repulsed at the same time. "Seb, you are a positive degenerate," he says.


A twisted smile. "Always."

Moran laughs and looks over one beefy shoulder, toward the camera. "See this, Holmes?" he taunts as he squeezes Ian's cock, which is now painfully hard. His other hand roams over his victim's chest in broad, possessive circles. "I'm going to kill your little rent boy and he knows it, yet he's ready to come for me. He's hard for his own fucking executioner! What makes you think YOU were anything special to him?"

When Moran turns around, Ian butts him in the face, sending him tumbling off the chair. As the husky six-footer springs to his feet, nose dripping blood and murder in his eyes, Ian faces the camera and wills Sherlock to understand this final message.

You are special to me.

Moran now has a knife in his fist. Moriarty's tongue darts across his lower lip.

Special enough to die painfully for.

His head is yanked back, exposing his throat. He closes his eyes and returns to the trees and lakes.

A hoarse shout calls him back.


Ian barely recognizes Misty. Her attractive face is marred by a bruised jawline and a scowl that would have done a street fighter proud. She also grips the handgun with unusual confidence for a cosmetology student, wrists bloody from where she's slipped her bonds.

Like Richard Brook, she's obviously not who she claimed to be.

"Drop the knife," she orders. "And raise your hands. This house is surrounded."

Ian feels the fingers slide out of his hair, and seizes his opportunity: planting his feet on the floor, he rises into a semi-crouch, chair pressed against his back, and slams into Moran shoulder-first, knocking the other man down. The impact throws him off balance and he falls too, landing on his left arm with such force that something snaps.

The room suddenly explodes in activity. Armed men in dark suits pour though the doorway, surrounding Moriarty and hauling the groaning Moran off the floor. Ian knows that severe pain makes one delirious, so he's not sure if he's really seeing Sherlock lunge past Misty into the room. When knees thud softly against the floorboards behind him and a gloved hand grasps his shoulder, he relaxes and believes.

"It's all right. You're all right." Sherlock's voice has a noticeable waver as he tackles the ropes biting into Ian's wrists.

"Yes, both of you are," Moriarty agrees, sounding chipper for someone with automatic weaponry aimed at his skull. "For now. But safety, like happiness, is an illusion, Sherlock. There's no place where I can't find you and play."

The detective's fingers pause. Ian knows that he is giving his longtime tormentor a glare that threatens more than words ever could.

"This isn't over, Sherlock. Trust me on that. And Mr. Adler: I meant what I said. You were worth every penny. Perhaps there'll be a next time for us too?"

Sherlock doesn't wants to reassure him, but the gag still seals his lips and he can't really think of anything to say before the pain in his broken arm becomes too much and darkness sets in.

Sherlock tells him everything afterward, when they're alone in his guarded hospital room.

"The girl- your assistant - works for Mycroft. He planted her in your house to keep an eye on what you -we- were doing. When she freed herself, she alerted him before going to your rescue. I was in his office when he took the call."

"She did endure corporal punishment rather well for someone supposedly new to the scene." Ian shifts on the bed, wincing as his arm throbs in its cast. His other hand is tethered to an IV line, making movement difficult. "I haven't decided yet whether I'm relieved or annoyed that your brother is so interfering. For now I'm inclined toward the former."

Sherlock lowers his eyes. "I saw what they tried to do to you."

Of course. The camera.

"Forgive me if I have no interest in watching it myself." Ian blinks rapidly to chase away the memories that tumble to the fore. He has enough nightmares to keep at bay as it is. "I assume that as guests of the British government, Mr. Moriarty and Mr. Moran are even less comfortable than I am right now?"

Sherlock's expression turns grim. "They escaped. Two hours ago, while you were in surgery. The van bringing them to a containment centre was ambushed." He steps back and begins to pace, hands tightening into fists. "I think it only fair to warn you that they will try again. Moran's a relative newcomer, but Moriarty has been engaging me in this… contest… for nearly two years. People have been compromised, injured, even murdered. And now you appear to have engaged his attention."

Ian recalls Moriarty's promise.

And Mr. Adler: I meant what I said. You were worth every penny. Perhaps there'll be a next time for us too.

He's never been hunted before. Confronted, yes, by irate spouses and romantic partners, but this is different. Like a cat, Moriarty prefers to torment his prey before putting it out of its misery. Being tied to a chair, slapped about, and molested was only the beginning, Ian realises. But he also realises something else.

Sherlock stops pacing. "It's not too late for you. If our association stops, Moriarty might-"

Ian sits up straight, ignoring the way his broken arm aches in protest, and gestures for him to perch on the edge of the bed. "Look at me. Now."

The commanding undertone strikes home: the detective obeys. His expression is solemn but apprehensive.

"I don't think that either of us wants to end our association," Ian says. "Wouldn't you agree?"

Sherlock appears to have difficulty swallowing. "Yes," he finally manages. "At least I find the prospect rather distressing."

"You watched the video: they planned to assault and then murder me. Despite my… physical… responses to Moran's groping, I was afraid. No, make that terrified. But this is not the first time my life has been threatened because of what I am or who I know." Ian reaches out with his good hand, dragging the IV tubing across the blanket, and closes his fingers firmly around Sherlock's wrist. "Would you like to hear a secret?"

The other man nods.

"I don't chase danger like you do, Sherlock, but I don't run from it either. Sometimes it nearly gets me killed, like it did today. But that's a risk I'm willing to take for someone as important to me as you are." His grip tightens. "Do you understand?"

Sherlock lowers his head. "Yes, Sir."

That answer and its accompanying honorific indicate what he needs right now: to feel as safe as he usually does when they're together. Ian lies back down and pulls him forward, stern mask hiding the protective affection that warms his blood.

"Lie down with me."

"Oh, yes, Sir," Sherlock breathes as he stretches out on the bed. When Ian rolls onto his side Sherlock follows suit, pressing his back against the Man's chest.

"Now I want you to sleep, because you're clearly exhausted. And if you're thinking about resisting, remember that I still have one good arm to punish you with."

Sherlock smiles and nods. "Yes, Sir," he mumbles, succumbing to exhaustion. When Ian's bandaged arm drapes across his chest, holding him closer and restricting his movement, he sighs and closes his eyes.

"I'm sorry this happened to you, Sir," he whispers.

Ian's lips touch his cheek. "Save your pity for Moriarty and Moran. They'll need it."