The worst night terror John ever had, occurred when he was 14. He and his family lived in a small, quiet town, 60 kilometers away the center of the demanding city that was London. It was nestled around a wooded area, but one could hardly call it a forest. It was heavily trailed and tracked, its the trees for the most part thinned and bushes kept neatly clipped and tamed by the town workers.
John would cut through the woods occasionally on his way home from school, watching the birds skitter through the canopy of leaves, sunlight filtering through in soft beams. Even during the winter months, when darkness crept through before suppertime, the forest was an unnaturally warm, comfortable place. He held no ill feelings there, entirely at ease with his familiarity through its paths.
But one night when he was 14, he started to drift to sleep when he jolted with a start from the cold. Bitter cold, wracking his body with shivers. John had opened his eyes, and saw stars, peaking through a familiar canopy.
John had sat up immediately, panic sharp and acrid, catching wildly in his throat. Damp leaves clung to his sweatpants and the back of his t-shirt, and with a twist he was on hands and knees, pushing himself up off the forest floor.
He tried to orient himself, I'm dreaming, he thought, trying to calm himself, for there was no other explanation. But cold sweat clung to his hair, bare feet slipping on slick vegetation and when he took a step, pain shot through his foot, having stepped on a sharp stick, which nearly knocked him back to where he was laying.
By the light of the moon, he could see a large rock, in the shape of a deformed dog, and sticks and thorns suddenly littered the ground. John steeled himself and picked a direction, cautiously, stepping carefully around sticks and other harmful looking obstacles.
He walked for what felt like hours. He knew these woods, every large boulder and fallen tree etched into his mind from years of familiarity and yet, he walked for hours not able to find the way out. He kept his pace even and in a straight line, course correcting when he had to take a detour.
He slowly wracked himself up into a panic, and he stared to run, veering in different directions to avoid big thicks of bushes and collapsed trees. He paid close attention to where he stepped, but not enough to where his feet lead and suddenly, with sudden despair he hadn't ever experienced before in his young life, he let out a cry as he came upon the rock.
The same deformed, dog shaped rock from when he woke up. He was not a meter from where he first began.
His brain had supplied frantically, that this wasn't a dream. He was lost, having slipped out his front door and sleepwalked to the woods and here he stood. Perhaps there was some space-bending, other-wordly element leading him, it wasn't beyond his imagination at this point. He even started to doubt these were even his woods anymore.
He looked up into the trees, at the atypical clarity in the midnight sky and picked the brightest star. He kept an eye on it, and began to walk again, following it.
And soon, things started to look more familiar. He came upon a trench, just along a paved road, and he knew he had made it out of the woods. His feet ached, but he was so deliriously happy to be so close to home he broke out into a jog. He let out a sob and broke out into a run as he recognized the roof of his house, just beyond the block.
He just wanted to be home.
He was already deciding in his mind that he wouldn't say anything to anyone, because he didn't even know what to say. He would quietly get back inside the house, clean up, and climb back into bed. But his heart suddenly sunk, as he rounded the corner and his house came fully into view.
Every light in the house was on.
He knew his parents were up, and he knew he would have to explain where he'd been, and he didn't even know where to start. His run turned into an apprehensive jog, which turned back into a cautious walk. He saw his mother's silhouette through the curtains and he was wracked with worry on where he would even begin to explain.
He walked up to the couple of steps to the porch. He put his hand on the doorknob.
When pressure wrapped around him and pulled him back.
The feeling of being so close to being home, to being safe and then being physically pulled away filled John with a horror that was beyond description.
John was screaming. He drew in a frantic breath, barely registering how his throat stung, sucking in hysterical gulps of air. Moments later his mother burst through the bedroom door, hands flailing at the light switch.
He was in his room. It had been a dream. The most horrifying, lucid dream he had ever experienced. His mother was fraught with worry, settling on his bed her warm, considerate hands brushed his damp hair from his brow. He clung to her and cried and she stroked his back and murmured, what she said he didn't know, his heart was hammering too loud in his ears.
His screaming must have been so horrific, even Harry hadn't mentioned it, deciding on giving him a wide berth in the morning and keeping her mouth shut, her soft brown eyes giving him darts of worry.
They never spoke of it and he never told anyone what had happened. After his mother had left and quietly shut his door, John laid back, blinking away tears.
He tried to ignore the damp leaves in his bed.
And now John woke, body baking with heat and dripping with sweat, breathing in the petrichor heavy in the atmosphere. He opened his eyes. He was standing on Baker St. Mist floated in the air. A streetlamp flickered once…twice, before dying, plunging the street into darkness.
Before him was 221 B.
All the lights were on.
Sherlock was home. He was in there, right now, waiting for John to come home. To turn the knob and make it inside, safe.
John didn't hesitate, he broke out into a sprint.
"Sherlock!" He screamed up at the flat, and he forced a terrified glance behind him, but only darkness lived there.
He crossed the street, running up the few steps to the doorstep he grabbed the handle.
He was going to make it, he was nearly home.
He pushed, but it didn't budge. He slammed his body into the hard wood of the door but it stood solid. He felt a prickle on the back of his neck. He flinched and spun, but nothing was there, but the buzzing feeling on his neck increased. Bringing a fist on the door he pounded, "Sherlock! Mrs. Hudson! Someone open the door!"
John nearly collapsed at the voice, tears threatened the corner of his eyes. "Sherlock!"
He could hear Sherlock inside, could hear well-worn shoes on the wooden steps, stumbling them two at a time.
Moriarty is coming. Hurry!
John was frantic, "Sherlock! Open the door please, God!" John felt his familiar, hysterical laughter creeping, the fear nearing crippling.
"John! Where are you?" Impossible, Sherlock sounded even further away.
"I'm outside! I'm right here please!" John dared another glance, the darkness was gaining. "He's going to take me back, Sherlock please! Open the door!"
"Who John!?" The voice was dimmer, fading.
Moriarty. Jim Moriarty.
"Moriarty! Jim Mor-"
To his horror, John felt an arm clasp around his chest and yank him off the stoop. He seized, body involuntarily going rigid as the breath was solidly yanked from his body. He barely managed to cry out before the street tilted, his vision blurred, and golden halos dance before the lights around 221 B Baker, before they too, winked out.
Jim circled and seethed around the bed where John now rested, holding back the snarl the wanted to rip through his throat. The good doctor had begun to thrash in his sleep, steeped in the holdings of a nightmare, not unusual and frankly expected of him given his fever and current physical state.
What Jim had not expected though, was the cries for Sherlock and then, Jim's name sprang from John's lips, frightened and urgent and Jim had lashed out in sudden fury. He gripped John's shirt and yanked hard, the doctor's eyes springing open, hands weakly grappling his arms with fighting instinct.
"You do not call him!" He growled, releasing John back into the bed and John had collapsed back into the bed, eyes glazed and fevered.
The Alpha had been concerned about the possibility of a lingering connection. It was frail and tenuous at best, but it held enough power at the moment to cross and call over. He would have to crush it.
John's neck wound had nearly healed, lines shiny and pink in raked points along his neckline. Only 6 hours had passed from being brought into their dwelling, and already his soldier was healing faster than most in his pack ever had.
He ran a hand along John's shoulder, taking in the baking heat of his skin, the flushed, half lidded eyes and sweat-laced hairline.
He determined it was time.
He stalked over to a sleek, ebony cabinet in the corner of the room. With one hand he pulled open a cabinet and with the other, he pulled out a slick, silver collar. He smoothed his fingers over the surface, taking in the polished, unblemished texture. It had no buckles or snaps. Instead, it clicked together more like a handcuff than a conventional collar. It locked with an internal mechanism, ensuring an even, unbreakable coil, removable only with a small, intricate key.
"Time to wake up Johnny." He spoke, as he walked back over to the doctor.
John stirred, eyes beginning to focus and clear. Nearly six hours rested and healed, it was only a matter of time before he began to fight back or attempt an escape. Oh no, John was not fully broken in yet.
With a swift movement, he swung the collar around John's neck, quick enough for John to barely register the movement, before it settled around his throat and hitched together with a soft snick.
Moriarty dug a finger into the space between the collar and John's pale, blood flecked throat. Barely enough space for a fit, but a fit none the less. He smiled as he pulled away and it spread into a grin when dawning realization gripped John's eyes.
John reached up, fingers curling around the band, circling around it, giving one full tug in vain.
"Ah-ah, Johnny boy. You're going to need that for the time being. Until you're properly house broken that is." Jim grinned as he stepped off the bed with a light, leisurely step, circling around the bed in a predatory stalk. "That's titanium John, much stronger than steel, like our older collars were. Well, I say 'our' but I suppose that was before your time with us, hm?"
"Just… what the hell do you want, Jim?" John asked weakly, shifting up in the bed. His arms shook, barely holding his own weight, but his strength was returning, eyes narrowing. Jim took an exaggerated breath.
"Well, YOU! Of course! …and I have you now. And with you, I'll gain everything I could want and more. I'll gain a pack, gain a fine soldier and watch Sherlock Holmes fail and burn, oh this will be like Christmas John, Christmas and I have you to thank!" He bared teeth in a smile and clapped a hand enthusiastically against the bedpost, barely containing his joy.
John shook his head, with enough calmness that Jim stood still, observing him sharply. John's hand still dancing along the length of his newly acquired collar.
"If Sherlock's after you… I don't think you understand how dead you are, Mr. Moriarty."
The Alpha struck like a cobra, practiced aim and fury and John found himself wrenched up and off the bed, sprawled on his back, half on hardwood, half on plush rug, as Jim stood above him, shaking in barely contained rage.
Moriarty's lips were peeled back in a snarl, all white incisors and intimidation. "You'll obey me John. You'll submit and obey like a good dog does. And once you're mine, mine completely, Sherlock will give up anything to get you back, even if that means relinquishing power."
"I'm not a bloody dog, you get this fucking thing off—" John twisted, struggling with his sapped strength and Jim jolted once with realization, before tilting his head back in crackling laughter.
"Oh Johnny! Oh what a thick boy you are." He wiped his eyes in an exaggerated gesture, shaking his head like one would sympathize with a daft child. "What, exactly, do you think you are? Don't you realize what that collar does? Or should I say, doesn't, do? It doesn't allow shift, John. It doesn't break, it doesn't bend, if a change were to erupt it would crush your very throat… Oh John…Don't you hear it? Don't you hear your Beast's voice, hear it crying out and beckoning for you?"
John's eyes widened, and as he shook his head Jim's head only nodded faster, mocking.
"No… No I'm… I'm not like…" Jim could see the white horror that began to grip the doctor's soul and he wanted to lift his head and howl in the ecstasy of it. Glorious, terrible realization and he had seats, front and center.
"Yes John. You're like me but created, not born. Created in our likeness, from man to wolf and do you know what that means?"
"You're lying!" John cried out suddenly, a strangled noise catching in his throat. His mind was fogged, white noise permeated his skull. He was going to throw up, pass out, wake up from this nightmare. Any moment another arm would snatch out and he would startle awake.
Jim leaned low and moved to touch John's hair but the doctor recoiled, biting back a snarl that threatened. He slowly moved his hand away, instead settling on smoothing down his slacks along his thighs, crouched low next to John. "I think Moran was right about you, I bet you are a biter hm John? You fight dirty don't you? I must say, that's a quality one could use to their advantage in a soldier, if focused correctly."
"M-Moran?" John shifted, propping himself up on an elbow, pulling away with as much strength as his body would muster for him. Anything, to get away from the mad man in front of him.
Jim's eyebrows lifted. "Yes! Yes Moran John, or Seb as he now prefers. Moran sounds too official perhaps, too-military."
"He... He was -that's not possible." John's mouth gaped comically as Jim chuckled, and continued.
"Part of your squad, yes? Does he seem familiar now John? I must say I do believe he was quite put off that you didn't recognize him. He was quite broken when he was brought to me, as half-breeds tend to be. And I patched him back together... as I would have you as well. Only you weren't brought to me, John. You were both dragged away but only you managed to murder my combatant. Went scamping back to your camp like the good little soldier you were. But my fangs, my pack's fangs, had claimed you. And imagine my surprise John, when Seb went into some seedy, nondescript pub and scented you. Scented you with a Holmes." Jim spat out the word with disgust, fingers raking along his legs, agitated.
"Well, I couldn't just not see for myself. Had him track you down...I made an appointment at your clinic and-" Jim clapped his hands, causing John to jump, nerves skittering along the hairs of his neck. "-There you were! Smothered in a Holmes' scent! I saw the beginnings of an opportunity, John. One I just had to sink my teeth into."
"Why are you telling me all this?" John asked cautiously, his brain trying and failing to process all the information being forced upon him.
The smile fell from Jim's face. "Because you're mine, John. My soldier now. Do you think that you're not? Do you think you won't break?"
John was frozen under Jim's hard stare, all brief levity gone from the Alpha's face.
"I'm going to chain you." Jim started, matter of fact. "I'm going to chain you to a room, four stories down, where there are no windows, no lights, no hope for escape. I'll give you a single bowl of water, which you'll lap at like a dog after a few days. I'll starve you. Deprive you of sleep, of comfort, of hope."
He was grinning now, and cold dread began to fill John up. "And one night, when your sanity is sapped and your Beast is cracking and shifting under your skin… I'll bring in a child. I'll lock them in with you, all riddled with their soft skin and baby fat...And your Beast won't take it anymore John, not then. You'll break, you'll want to feast but you can't… that collar around your neck prevents the shift, and just when I feel you truly brimming with madness…" Jim's lips curled in a mock smile.
"I'll release you, and watch you feed."