A/N: Greetings once Again! This is the LAST chapter in this part and I am SO amazingly grateful and thankful that you all have stuck through with me on this! :D Thank you my Followers, My Favoritors, and My Reviewers! You were my encouragement and my inspiration, and without whom none of this would have happened! (So you only have yourselves to blame) ;)
Anyway, this story is 'M', and the next one will be too. And the guys, much to my woe and their unending joy, do not belong to me, I just like to get them out, dust them off, patch them up, and let my mind play with them. :D So, of course, there is no money made by me from them. THAT all belongs to the wonderful Steven Moffat and the gorgeous Mark Gatiss!
John decided that being unconscious really sounded 'a bit good' at that moment and immediately, action followed thought.
He had no idea of how long he had been unconscious, but when he awoke, he was cold; very cold, and he hurt. Actually, that was a serious understatement. He was in agony. He was in agony and he was beyond freezing going into glacial.
"Sh . . ." he couldn't get his mouth to work and he cleared his throat and groaned. "Sherlock," he tried again in little more than a raspy whisper, his tortured jaws barely able to open enough to let the words out.
"John," his name came from across the room, and slowly John swiveled his aching neck to where the voice had come from. He squinted and saw Sherlock as he sat on the floor against the wall where he had previously been chained. His legs were drawn up to his chest and his arms wrapped tightly around them as if he were holding himself together.
"You . . . okay?" John croaked and Sherlock buried his face in his knees and covered his head with his hands.
"I am no longer under the influence of the drugs," came the muffled answer. "If that's what you mean. I . . . I checked you over . . . after I woke," Sherlock said hesitantly and still not looking up. "There was some damage . . . minimal tearing . . . but the bleeding stopped . . ."
Suddenly, they both heard a noise from one of the speakers and the chuckle that came from it was almost manic. "Oh you have no idea how awesome that was!" The loathed voice of their kidnapper said cheerfully. "I hope you know that I recorded that for posterity! Do you remember it, Sherlock? Do you remember how it felt to invade your friend's body?"
Sherlock merely covered more of his head with his hands, and John looked from the Lunatic's voice to Sherlock.
"Sherlock," John's pain-filled voice shook, and the taller man slowly raised his head though he didn't look at his friend. "I'm cold."
"I can't help that. They took my coat," Sherlock said, his voice flat and monotone, and John shook his head.
"I know. Come here."
"No. Not that again," Sherlock shook his head, and John swallowed as the room blurred, and he squeezed his eyes shut. "I am trying to go into my Mind Palace, John. Do not interrupt me."
John knew that he was losing Sherlock to his own mind and misery, and that was the one thing he could not do. He needed Sherlock to be strong. He needed Sherlock to be the logical one, because that's what he was in their comfortable dynamic. Emotions didn't suit him, and they wouldn't do either of them any good, especially not then. Once more, the cave . . . cell, dammit! Was starting to close in on him, and he couldn't let it.
"This bastard's winning, Sherlock. I'm in shock and barely holding on here and if you take your mind wherever you go when you go, I'll be lost. I can't do this alone. I stood up against the Taliban. You stood up against Moriarty and every damned one of his network for fuck's sake. We can't let a no account little prick like this break us. Now. Come. Here. This damned cave is cold!"
"Cell, John," Sherlock's voice shook with the residual effects of the come down from the drug (at least that's what he tried to convince himself it was) but he stood and slowly, with as much dignity as he could, made his way over to his friend. "It's not a cave, it's a cell," misery-dampened eyes gazed into watery blue ones, and Sherlock gingerly lay himself beside John.
"You keep asking me if I'm going to be all right, and telling me not to go into my mind, but I am not the one doing the retreating right now, you are," it was clear that Sherlock was trying to gain some sort of normalcy, and John was grateful for it. "I should be asking you if you are going to be all right; especially once we get out of here." Sherlock watched as John's eyes closed.
"Eventually. I suppose. Don't blame yourself. There's nothing you could have done. They would have killed us anyway," John said, and Sherlock sighed.
"I think I remember hearing those words somewhere before," he whispered, and for a long while there was silence. Sherlock was sure that John had fallen asleep and he physically started when John spoke again.
"I guess they're done for the night, Murray. You might as well get some sleep before it starts again."
Sherlock turned sharply and his hands clenched into fists and his stomach all but twisted with nausea as he gazed into John's glazed and distant eyes. "Oh no, John. Don't do this to me. I can't handle this right now."
"Don't . . . don't let them touch me again. Stay with me." He closed his eyes and Sherlock leaned his head against the cot, and sighed.
"I won't, John," he said. "I won't let anyone hurt you again; not even me," Sherlock promised and John smiled, then opened his eyes and Sherlock was ensnared by the gaze of absolute faith that John had in him.
"I trust you," John smiled and pressed himself against the solid yet lean muscle of Sherlock's body and was asleep a moment later.
Sherlock didn't know how much more time had passed as he lay vigil over John. He suspected it hadn't been too long when he and John were jolted by the sudden sound of gunfire as it echoed and rolled through what was obviously stone corridors.
John jerked awake with a scream and a wild-eyed stare as his already taut, high-strung nerves shattered. Sherlock jumped up and stood with his fists raised, determined that no one else would hurt his John and that he would die, if he had to, to protect him.
However, as the door to their cell was seemingly blasted open, the Lunatic all but literally flew into the room via the hard sole of an uncharacteristically livid and violent Lestrade's boot, and an additional push from a stone-faced Mycroft.
Sherlock looked at his brother and couldn't decide between being incensed with him or on this extremely rare occasion, glad to see him. However, John was his first priority and he knelt beside him.
"John," he said as he used the same voice he'd spoken to him the first time he'd been caught in the flashback. "It's okay. You need to calm down. It's Lestrade and Mycroft," he paused. "The British Government. They found us. You're safe."
"Safe, Sherlock?" John asked. "That's somewhat debatable," he chuckled exhaustedly and somewhat ruefully.
"Oh good. You're back," Sherlock said, relieved and all but scrubbed his hands over his face as they stared at their rescuers.
"Better late than never, I suppose," Sherlock said to them and gazed at the quivering lump that lay on the floor bleeding from several injuries. "I can see you took care of our problem. There were . . ."
"Guards, yes," Mycroft said. "They are no longer anyone's problem," Mycroft inclined his head at the Lunatic, and Lestrade immediately took off his coat and handed it to Sherlock, who draped it over John. "His computer records are now in our possession, Sherlock," Mycroft said as he removed his own suit jacket and handed that, as well as two small keys to his brother.
With a grimace of disgust, Sherlock tied his brother's coat around his waist, and Mycroft sighed. "That was supposed to go around your shoulders," he said, and Sherlock snorted.
"It would hardly have covered 'the important bits', as John would have said, and you know it. I have no wish to walk around with only my brother's jacket barely covering my arse with half of the British service and Scotland Yard out there leering at me," he bent over the cot and unlocked John's handcuffs and ankles . . . and everyone ignored the way his hands shook as he did so.
"Please, Sherlock," Mycroft frowned and all but rolled his eyes. "Do give me some credit. This was a secret mission, remember? I'd hardly call out the entire Yard or even my own Secret Service as you call them, for this. However, there is a government ambulance with quite competent paramedics on standby . . ."
"No!" John startled those gathered and shook his head. "No one's going to stare at us being wheeled out," he scowled. "With what we've been through there's going to be no weakness. We're going to walk out of here on our own."
"You seem injured, Doctor Watson," Mycroft frowned. "I am not sure that's such a good idea."
"With all due respect, the British Government got us into this mess, and we're walking out," his voice was raspy and hoarse and he closed his eyes, obviously in pain.
"As for me," Sherlock swallowed. "I would appreciate being allowed to look at the records of the last two days myself . . . with no interference, before anyone else does. There's something . . ." he grimaced as John tried to choke back the cry of pain as he brought his arms down from over his head and pulled his legs together. His abused muscles trembled from the effort of trying to move after being restrained for so very long.
"We saw what he made you do," Lestrade said quietly as Sherlock all but pulled John to a sitting position and the doctor choked back another pained cry. "It's how we got the drop on him. He was . . . distracted by it."
"Did anyone else . . ." John whispered, and Mycroft shook his head.
"No. I made sure of it. I have the only copy."
"I want it gone," John scowled as he gazed at Sherlock.
"Evidence," Lestrade protested weakly and John shook his head.
"It will be done," Mycroft nodded though he didn't say when it would be and he hoped no one had caught that little 'slip'. "Now, if you two are ready to leave, I will send my men in here to do the final Clean-up."
"Sherlock," John's voice was suddenly far weaker than previous, and he shook his head as if to clear it. "I really hate to do this, but I need some help to walk. I know I said I didn't want to appear to be weak, but you have to admit, it's been a hell of a couple of days."
Sherlock shook his head. "You would be better with the paramedics, John," he said.
"No!" John suddenly yelled and all but forced himself to stand and reached out for Sherlock's arm to steady himself. However, it was almost with a jerk that Sherlock tried to pull his arm away. John scowled and grasped it with both hands and though he wobbled badly, he stayed upright. "I need you to help me. You need to help me. No one else will know what happened . . ."
"Oh, but everyone will," the Lunatic suddenly re-made his presence known and laughed hysterically. "I'll tell them all. I'll scream it to every one of the Yarders, I'll tell every single prisoner, I'll call a mother fucking press conference and tell them! I'll tell everyone how I made the great Sherlock Holmes, the man who beat Moriarty and all his disciples, rape his little sidekick while high on drugs. They'll all believe me," he turned his lunatic gaze on Sherlock and a grin lit his face. "Especially because of the articles from," he paused. "Before. I'm certain that a Miss Kitty Reilly will be most interested in this."
Sherlock went absolutely white-faced and looked completely nauseated as he glanced at John, then away. He was the personification of horrified shame as he wrapped himself in his arms. His hands clenched so tightly around his upper arms that his fingernails left half-moon shaped indentations in his skin. Everyone in the room saw the clear mental withdrawl into himself and John suddenly saluted Mycroft.
"Sir! Permission to speak! Sir!" John snapped out, and Sherlock shook his head.
"Oh, John, not now," he whispered, but Mycroft looked between John and Sherlock, and Sherlock swallowed, though he didn't meet anyone's eyes.
"Flashback to the war," he explained quietly. "He . . ." He paused, unsure of what to say, but his head fell to his chest in defeat. "He was captured and . . . tortured in a place like this," limply, he waved his arm around the cell. "He's been slipping in and out of them . . . the flashbacks . . . this entire time."
"But I am not military. There is no reason that he should salute me," Mycroft frowned, and the Lunatic giggled.
"But he recognizes you as the oh-so-obviously highest rank. Oh, I love this," he almost sang. "I've driven him crazy. Crazier than me. And I've crushed him," he bobbed his head at Sherlock, who refused to look up or even be baited, which proved exactly how true the Lunatic's word were. He tried to break into a dance, but Lestrade yanked on his cuffs.
"You may speak, Captain," Mycroft finally answered, realizing that John was not going to move until he had said something.
"Sir! Permission to speak with the prisoner! Sir!" John dropped the salute and nodded at the Lunatic.
"Granted," Mycroft raised an eyebrow and with an impressively smart turn on his heel; made
even more impressive by the fact that he wore no shoes and could barely stand on his own, John stood in front of the prisoner.
Suddenly, John let out a short but extremely angry string of words in a language no one understood, and before anyone could move, John's hand was curled into a fist. That fist shot out, and with a resounding crack, punched the Lunatic directly in his chest as hard as he could, precisely over his heart.
A moment later the Lunatic gasped for breath, his face lost all color, and he dropped to the ground obviously, and instantaneously, dead.
"Well," Mycroft said as silence filled the cell. "That was certainly impressive . . . and unexpected. I will have to add yet another to the list for the Clean-up crew now. That will certainly save the taxpayers some money. The Prime Minister will be happy to hear that, I guess."
"And the recordings?" Sherlock asked, still in a hoarse whisper and Mycroft blinked.
"Are now useless. There is no need to give a dead man due process. Poor man tried to escape and died of a heart attack. I am quite sure he will be neither missed nor mourned."
"Not that with John suffering from a flashback we could make much of a case against him anyway. Even if we did go to court," Lestrade put in quietly as he looked at John pityingly.
"Thank you, Sirs," John saluted Mycroft and then Lestrade.
"Murray," John looked at Sherlock. "Would you mind helping me out of here? I don't think I can stand much longer on my own and I won't be seen as weak. I just won't. Not after all we've been through."
It was clear that neither Sherlock nor John actually looked as if they could stand much longer, period, and Sherlock shook his head. "You can't ask me to help you. Not after . . ." he licked his lips. "Surely you'd prefer Lestrade to . . ."
"No, Murray," John shook his head. "We started this mission together, we're going to walk out together. We survived and they thought we wouldn't."
Sherlock gazed forlornly at his brother and the DI. There was no way, as Sherlock, he could even begin to touch John; it was just too painful and brought too many memories to the surface. However, if John believed him to be whoever-the-hell Murray was, it would be all right. Maybe he could pretend to be him too, and get both of them through this.
Gently, he took John's arm in his and avoiding the wrist and the bruises, wrapped his other arm around the smaller man's waist. John leaned into Sherlock's warmth and strength, and together, followed by Mycroft and Lestrade, they limped out of the cell.
They exited through the maze of hallways, past the four guards who had been cleverly disguised as brick walls, but who were then no more than cold, rigid doorstops, and out into the night.
There were surprisingly few cars, and of the ones that were there, Sherlock disinterestedly noted that they were all sleek and black. There was only one unremarkable ambulance visible, and Sherlock and John limped toward it.
It was with displeasure that Mycroft and Lestrade noted that Sherlock separated from John almost immediately, and sat as far away from him as he could. Paramedics swathed both men in comforting orange blankets as they performed their jobs efficiently and quickly. John was helped into the ambulance, lay down on a bed, and Sherlock was sat next to him. The doors closed and the ambulance, with Lestrade following, left the area.
With almost a sigh of defeat, Mycroft turned his mind to the task at hand and gave a few quiet orders to a small number of his people. They opened several body bags and ran into the complex, intent on cleaning up the mess that night's work had provided.
Eventually, everyone left the area, but for one grey-haired, older man. He looked around as if to make sure the area was completely empty, pressed what looked like a Blue Tooth against his ear, and spoke quietly.
"Observable, but ill-favored, change."
End of Part 2