Sherlock squirms, eyes flashing in panic, but it's no use. The cable ties are tighter than any handcuff he's been trapped in before, his shoulder blades squeezed together, a deep ache running down from the top of his spine. He grits his teeth together, settling back on his heels, trying to ignore the painful ache coming from his inner thighs, searching for that peculiar place in his head that will enable him to click out of this, just for one second.
The door handle turns.
Sherlock lies prostrate on the floor, his lips ground into the glossy wood. He squirms again, moaning into the gag that bites into the corners of his mouth. It's sodden with saliva; he's been wearing it for hours now. His black lashes brush up against one another, sticking together momentarily. He's dizzy, and everything hurts. He hasn't given up yet.
He hears the footsteps. There is nothing to be done.
The material lies soft against his skin, brushing it occasionally. He feels humiliated and frustrated, but stays ramrod still, hands flat against his thighs. He couldn't look more tense if he tried. He's been like this for hours. A hand runs through the cascade of chestnut curls that now fall over his shoulders. He shudders despite himself, unable to help the instinctive reaction. And then, the pain comes.
It's just a touch, but it undoes him. He is lost.
He would wrap his arms around himself to shield his body, but he knows what happens when he shows embarrassment, or restraint, or disobedience. He tries to remain calm, his head increasingly fuzzy, and instead he feels a hand ghost over his back, murmured words of approval. He should know better, but it's been so long, and it's so nice not to be hurt.
He can barely breathe. He knows what he needs to do.
Sherlock sits on John's lap, hair pulled into a tumbling pair of pigtails. His dress is ruffled and satin, bunching at the wrists, and he wriggles easily as the thumb eases its way into his body, free hand stroking gently at his belly as he does so.
“Good girl,” says the voice, once so familiar, now expressing mastery. “Wasn't so hard, was it?”
He shakes his head, letting himself be petted, so docile now, thumb deeply rooted in his mouth, as he's been painstakingly taught. He never wants to feel that again.
“Daddy looks after his good girl,” says the voice, and he leans back into him, huffing around his wet, wrinkled digit.
Sherlock was never the kind of person who gave in easily, but some things can break even the best of men.
Lestrade walks up to the house, narrowing his eyes. This is where Moriarty's clues have led him, so long after everything had passed. But what will he find inside?
Sherlock whimpers. He's never whimpered before, not that he can remember. He has always thought of himself as a stoic sort, able to cope with whatever his enemies throw at him. But he's never lost track of time before, never been closeted away in the dark for so long. He leans his head against the wall of the cupboard, licking at the moisture that dribbles down the side at sporadic intervals, trying to make himself comfortable in the confined space. He's beginning to think he may never leave.
Fingers slip down his face, tracing over his stubble. A hand clasps his, a little singe of pain stinging his wrist just for a split second. Adrenalin races through his body, and he loses who he is.
He shivers, the cold air slicing against his skinny frame. He'd always been lean, but the last... however long it had been, had divested any extra flesh from him. Permanently hungry, he never sees the scraps of food he is given arrive – somehow his captors manage to time it during his ever more fitful sleeps. He jumps at the feel of something hard against his ribs, swallowing a deep moan as the tough material reverberates against his skin, over and over.
He looks down at the prone form, dark blue bruises forming all over the body, and knows he's over an invisible line of his own making. There's no going back now. Onwards.
He's never felt more reluctant, and he tells himself he isn't giving in to their demands, but at the nudge to his cheek, he opens his mouth, feeling toes slip inside. The old Sherlock would have analysed the state of the feet, trying to figure out who it was doing this to him, but his brain feels fuzzy, and he's almost grateful for the kindness shown by the cessation of the beatings.
'Good. Suck harder,' says a familiar voice, and Sherlock stills, the realisation slowly beginning to penetrate his brain. He sucks harder for just that one moment, before scrambling back oh-so-messily, hands flailing for the floor, the digits slurping out of his mouth.
'No...' he whimpers.
John comes close to him, grasping him firmly by the shoulders.
'Don't disobey me, Sherlock. This is only the beginning.'
His hand cards through Sherlock's hair, stroking at his cheek with an oh-so-light touch that makes Sherlock squirm in fright.
'Now. Back to it, yes?'
He can't help but laugh when he watches the two of them together. Such clever boys. So undone.
Sherlock doesn't like the cable ties. They squeeze and they squish his flesh, which is why they're such an effective punishment. He just wants to go home, home to Mycroft and Mrs Hudson, home to his violin, home to Lestrade and home to normality.
As he rocks back and forth in the tiny closet, trying to suppress the ache in his backside from whatever the hell had been put there, he doesn't even think he really remembers what normality is any more.
He just wants all the pain to stop.
John finds Sherlock bent over a window in the kitchen, nails scratching at the wood, desperately trying to force it up. Silly, silly. What a stupid escape attempt. The look on Sherlock's face when he sees him is almost enough to make him come there and then.
But that can be for later, and he still wants to ease him in lightly. He needs every inch of Sherlock to be his by the time he finishes, mentally and physically.
But he does have to be punished. And he needs to learn. Now. For once and for all. Afterwards, he spanks him with one of the paddles for two hours, on and off, bent over a chair, hands and ankles tied uncomfortably to the legs.
It's enough. It's more than enough. With that, the beating, the combination of panic, true hunger and fear, he's done more than enough. Sherlock is his.
Just one little pinch, and then he's ready for it all.
Sherlock kneels in front of the mirror, hands trembling as he tries to pull the resistant locks into bunches, as he is told to do every morning. It's not long enough yet, and he can only scrape a few strands into the elastic he's been given. But he keeps trying. He has to do what Daddy wants. He knows what happens when he doesn't manage it. Sometimes, he thinks he can still feel the hard plastic in his mouth, or feel the imprint of the wood on his skin.
John watches him silently, waiting for him to cross the room and sit down his special chair, ready for the next stage of his morning operation. Sherlock's body looks more healthy now he's begun to comply - John doesn't like anything to be out of order, especially not his little girl. He's filling out nicely.
'Are you ready for Daddy to come and inspect you?' he says, and Sherlock nods obediently, his cheeks flushing slightly at the word.
John walks over, kneeling down in front of his little girl, tweaking Sherlock's nipples gently as he does so, watching for any reaction, but only seeing compliance and appreciation.
'Such a good girl for Daddy, aren't you?'
Sherlock nods again, trying to stay as still as possible as John investigates every nook of his body, knuckles shifting against his waist, hand dipping down to cup his balls, hand tugging lightly at his cock. Sherlock groans, humping himself into John's hand, not wanting to but unable to hold back.
'P-please-' he croaks out brokenly, his underused vocal cords barely able to even create the words.
'That's what you have to do when you see Daddy every day,' John murmurs in his ear. 'Daddy needs to know you care. You do, don't you, darling?'
Sherlock nods vehemently.
When he's satisfied with that area, John reaches out to the pile of clothes carefully prepared for Sherlock and slides a pair of ruffled, satiny knickers up his thighs, rubbing at his hips before tugging them fully on.
Suckling at John's cock a few minutes later, fat pearly tears fall down Sherlock's cheeks, but he can't quite remember why.
Even when his mind was sharp and his control absolute, Sherlock doesn't remember John being into this. But the whip slashes to his inner thighs tell a different story, and he bites his lip to stop himself crying out each time he shifts in the tiny cupboard, his eye-patches back on, his hunger absolute.
He almost wants to cry out for his Daddy, to ask him to take him away from this place. But he's still a little stubborn, still clinging on to what makes him who he is, his own person.
Has it been weeks? Months? Years? He can't tell any more.
Daddy. Daddy. Help.
His hair is down to his waist now. Daddy doesn't always want it tied up, sometimes he likes to run his hands through it when they're playing. That's what Daddy calls it, anyway. Daddy likes to play all kind of games with him.
Most of them seem to end with him sitting on Daddy's lap, filled up either with Daddy's finger, Daddy's dick or, if Sherlock misbehaves, something harder and more painful, for longer than he can take. He screamed for hours after that one.
When he's alone in his bed, locked in for the night, Sherlock pulls at his curls, faintly remembering a point when his hair wasn't quite like this, when it was short, and when his body was hard, not so soft and doughy. Or is that something that was the case? Maybe it never was...
He doesn't trust himself any more.
As he falls asleep, Sherlock's thumb finds its way, unbidden, into his mouth.
He squirms in the soft linen, the alien touch of the sheets making it impossible for him to sleep after so long leaning against a hard wall, covered only by a thin, cheap blanket that couldn't stretch over his long limbs.
A rough hand reaches out, squeezing at his waist, moving up to fondle his chest, before moving to his mouth, fingers rubbing at his lips before aggressively prodding them open.
Sherlock sucks obediently at the fingers as they explore his mouth, gazing passively at the dark-haired man who is moving ever-closer, unwavering blue eyes narrowing as he sighs out with exhaustion. This isn't such a bad price to pay to get to sleep in such luxury, he thinks, as the man forces his legs apart.
When the man tries to converse with him later, all he can choke out is his wont to be a good girl for Daddy. It's all he can think of these days. The man laughs, tracing a shape on his chest.
'Oh, you are, my dear. So very, very good. A perfect pet.'
Lestrade stares at the computer screen, thoroughly confused. This... changes everything.
Sherlock has an outfit for every day of the week, and more. Only the best for his little girl.
John watches as he sits placidly on the floor at John's feet, sailor dress splashing against the off-white carpet as he desperately tries to keep himself awake, hands wrapped up safely in the knitted mittens John favours, eyes occasionally fluttering closed with exhaustion as he sucks at the matching dummy firmly bound to his lips with ribbon and leather. John tugs Sherlock to him by the hair, murmuring words that will allow his little girl to rest against his leg. Nothing is done without permission these days.
When Sherlock dreams, he dreams of Lestrade. He reaches out for him across a great void, mouthing words that even he doesn't understand. Lestrade shakes his head and backs away. He's wearing his greatcoat and nothing else, buttoned tightly against his skin, shivering with cold. He's so alone.
Deepest blue for Mondays, sapphire green for Tuesdays. Ochre for Wednesdays, shimmering purple on Thursdays. Fridays are pink, Saturdays egg-yolk yellow and white for Sundays. He thinks.
It's the only way he can keep track of anything.
Soon, though, there are other outfits, and he forgets again.
He unwraps the ginger from its pink casing, fingers trembling. He doesn't understand. Is it for him to eat? He's so hungry.
'Happy birthday, Sherlock,' John says, smirking down at him.
A stinging slap to his cheek soon shuts him up, before he is pushed back against the wall, gangly limbs shoved into the uneven brick, hard fingers squeezing painfully at his scrotum.
'Little girls are seen and not heard, Sherlock,' John hisses, crouching in front of him. 'When are you going to learn?'
He doesn't speak again.
John admires the pattern of bruises on his little girl's thighs as Sherlock crawls across the floor, frilly underwear exposed by the action, his little dress purposefully giving John the best possible view.
John shifts in his chair, feeling his erection swell in his jeans. He knows Sherlock is almost there. There just has to be a catalyst. He catches Sherlock's nervous gaze momentarily as he turns around, but it drops almost immediately into a submissive stare to the floor.
'Such a good girl,' he says, enjoying how afraid Sherlock looks at the words. 'Come to Daddy. Time for another lesson.'
Sherlock doesn't know if this would have happened with anyone else. But it's John, and he never... he never thought he would be capable of something like this.
Sherlock wishes he'd never been born.
Sherlock never forgets the words.
He knows his mouth is a receptacle for Daddy's purposes now. It's not his own any more.
When Daddy's friend threatens to cut out his tongue one night in a fit of anger at something Sherlock doesn't comprehend, he barely even flinches. If Daddy wants to do it, Daddy will.
Luckily, Daddy's friend relents soon after, finding it sufficient to pinion him against the bedsheets for the remainder of the evening, taking out his frustration on the rest of Sherlock's trembling body.
The scratches and bruises take a long time to go away, but Sherlock much prefers this outcome. Plus, he thinks he would probably miss his tongue, if it wasn't there any more.
John looks down at the packages scattered across the kitchen table. He grins, rubbing his wrist absent-mindedly. So many presents for his little girl. So many games to play.
Sherlock mewls in agony, long fingers grasping pointlessly at the air as he is invaded, gulping in oxygen as the fat, greasy plug comes to rest inside his body. He swallows a groan every time it shifts, sitting flush with his virgin skin.
'See, now, that wasn't so hard, was it?'
Sherlock writhes against his restraints, tugging at the tight ropes that bind him to the bed. He wishes so desperately for just one slip by his captors, but they seem to know every trick in the book. He can't even hear them properly or work out where he might be – the foam plugs in his ears muffle everything.
He wants to scream and shout and tell them to let him go, but the rational side of him knows that would accomplish nothing. So he settles for ignoring the words instead, the words that tell him what is to come.
He doesn't think about how uncomfortable he will feel – he doesn't know, for god's sake - until he is dragged back to his little wooden box a few minutes later, earplugs plucked out just before the door closes.
John's fingers tug at the frills of Sherlock's powder blue knickers, hand slipping inside to squeeze at him moments later.
Sherlock wriggles closer to his Daddy in response, moaning into his thumb as thick fingers start to scissor inside of him shortly after, opening him wide for what he knows is not far away.
John plucks at his plumpened cheek, ghosting his hand over the still-slim waist.
'Such a greedy little girl, aren't you?' says his Daddy, as Sherlock squirms, his eyes opening oh-so-wide at each moment of added pressure.
'Don't worry. Daddy will give you what you want. Daddy will always give you what you want.'
One day, Daddy's friends come over to see him. They sit drinking in the garden for hours and hours. Sherlock can't see them from the confined space of his barred bed, where he's been kept longer than usual, but he can hear them laughing and talking, and for some reason, he feels afraid.
Daddy dresses him in red and white that day, tugging thick white tights up his long legs. Soft bootee shoes encase his feet, the ever-present mittens hanging limply from his wrists.
Daddy ties his hair with matching bows and brushes something soft over his lips, before taking him to the mirror, stroking his hair affectionately as Sherlock gazes blankly at the fuzzy reflection, dimly noting that his eyes are damp.
Sherlock doesn't understand why Daddy still does this. It's just him. He doesn't remember any other way.
He scrubs at his skin repetitively, though the stickiness is long gone, some part of him screaming in horror and sanity at what had passed that day.
He's not normally left alone to wash, but Daddy is called away half-way through. The door is locked after him, though. Sherlock knows nothing is left to chance in this house.
He slides into the steaming water, slowly lowering his head into the bubbly murk. It would be so easy just to stay beneath for a while...
This time he dreams of Mycroft, sitting at his desk, typing furiously into his laptop. He needs to see what he's writing. He can't think of anything else.
Sherlock tries to speak, but nothing comes out. He tries again, yelling at his brother, but the only noise he can summon up is that of the gurgling whine of a baby. He tries to reach out to Mycroft, but his hands are curled into fists, and he can't move them, however much he tries.
Mycroft swivels to him, and Sherlock drops to his knees, silently begging for salvation. Mycroft looks down, shaking his head at his foolish brother, and Sherlock flushes with hot embarrassment as he turns away.
Sherlock screams again, and suddenly he's awake, his stolen vocal cords singing in agony. His cotton-clad frame is soaked in sweat, his mattress and nightclothes sodden with urine.
He squirms to one side of the confined space, whimpering to himself in humiliation, squeezing his eyes closed against the evidence of his misbehaviour. He knows he'll be punished for this.
He never expected it to go this far. But he's so pleased that it did.
He scrapes at the floor with his fingernails, trying to find something to hold onto at each strike of the belt, but it's to no avail. His body is wracked with searing pain every few seconds, his mouth plugged with cloth to prevent any noise issuing forth.
He'll do anything to prevent this from happening again. Please.
Later, much later, he willingly takes the dress, quietly sliding it over his hips, fingers trembling as he buttons the gingham material over his inflamed skin. He turns the printed collar down, tugging at the lacy cuffs until they sit properly.
'Sit,' says his once-and-former friend, patting his legs expectantly.
Sherlock lowers himself onto John's knees, forcing himself to stay silent when his burning skin makes painful contact with the fabric of John's trousers.
Sherlock lifts a shaky thumb to his mouth, pushing it inside, sucking gently at it.
He does as he is told, shoving the thumb as far back as he can, nuzzling at it with his tongue, hoping this will suffice.
'There's a good girl.'
He is lost.
Sherlock can't even remember the last time he was allowed to go to the toilet by himself.
He wonders idly whether he'll ever be allowed to again. Probably not. He should be grateful he's even allowed to at all, Daddy tells him. Most little girls don't even get that privilege. It's not as if Sherlock hasn't let him down in the past with regard to that aspect of his behaviour.
He knows he can't be trusted.
He reaches his arms out to Daddy to show his appreciation for how kind he is.
He knows Daddy is pleased when he drags him onto his lap moments later, skirt wafting down around his hips. He only lets out a teeny tiny gulp as he is swiftly filled up.
Sherlock is alone at night. He loves night. He wishes it would last forever.
Daddy's friend comes to see him when Daddy isn't there, which Sherlock likes, because it means the others leave him alone. He doesn't always want to lie in the so-soft bed and touch him, which Sherlock is grateful for.
Mostly he just sits and watches him.
Sometimes he takes Sherlock back to his bedroom to play his own games. Afterwards, he likes to fondle Sherlock's loose curls as he pushes himself to the back of Sherlock's throat, eyes glittering at the tamed detective kneeling at his feet.
The first few times, Sherlock gags and tries to pull away, but now he is proud of how much he can take without feeling sick.
Daddy's friend likes photos, too, although Sherlock doesn't, shying away from the flash almost every time.
Tears trickle down his cheeks as he lies on his front hours later, buttocks lifted into the air, the agonising spanking still reverberating around his shamed muscles. He wishes he could stop crying. After all, he knows how lucky he is.
Sometimes, as the day drags by, he daydreams of being held, not cuddled or petted, but just held. He wonders if this has ever happened to him before. He supposes not. He has always been here, hasn't he?
There's a knock at the door. He puts the needle down.
He clings to the doll as Daddy brushes his hair out, wrapping his arms tightly round her hard, false form, knowing he will do the same later to her matching locks. He calls her Molly, though he doesn't know why. She is the only friend he has.
Daddy slides a white barrette into his stubborn curls, the metal scraping gently against Sherlock's scalp.
When Daddy tells him how pretty he looks, he almost believes it.
Sherlock rubs himself up against Daddy's palm, eyelashes fluttering as his obedient body swells in reaction.
Daddy strokes his hair as Sherlock squirms against the soft flesh of the hand, moaning softly, hoping against hope that Daddy might let him finish today.
'You love Daddy more than anything, don't you?'
Sherlock nods firmly, flicking trusting eyes upwards to meet Daddy's gaze, the bright morning sun streaming in through the window making him blink for just a moment, reminding him of some other home.
'Good girl,' Daddy says, tugging on today's outfit.
The knickers are plain white cotton, with just a small blue bow at the top. Sherlock likes them best. He doesn't know why, but he does.
Please. Please. Please. Save me.
He dreams of real food, of lying in his own bed, of cups of tea and walks in the crisp spring air. He dreams of morning coffee, of kisses without compromise, of walking tall and of his own strength, so long gone.
He wakes to the constraints of the cold little bed, cotton-clad knees pressed uncomfortably against the hard wooden bars that fence him in through the night.
His heart thumps at double-quick speed and he gasps for air around the thick mass that fills his mouth nightly. It takes achingly slow minutes for his breathing to slow, by which point he is once more drenched with his own sweat.
He dozes fitfully until it is time for his day to start.
Panic rises, and he knows another attack is coming on, but he has no one to help him and nowhere to go but here. He must obey.
Lestrade lies in bed, hands locked behind his head, idly rubbing his feet against the duvet as he ponders the situation. He hasn't talked to anyone about this yet. He doesn't quite know how to proceed. But he'll figure it out.
John watches. He doesn't often do this, but every now and again he finds himself drawn to the bedroom, leaning against the wall as he watches the even rise and fall of Sherlock's chest through the wooden slats, his fists curled in against his body, knees drawn up against his long torso.
Sherlock thinks he might wet himself again at the look on John's face the morning after his dream.
He hasn't seen him so angry since – since – since – he. He doesn't want to. He can't.
He starts to snivel, whimpering in anticipation of the anger he already knows is coming.
Sherlock has to be disciplined the first few times John puts him to bed with the dummy in, for pretending he can't breathe properly around it while asleep.
John thinks Sherlock's shrieks are beautiful.
He knows he can.
Or at least, he will.
Daddy says because he's been so good he can play outside. It's only the second time he remembers being in the garden – the first doesn't bear thinking about. It makes him feel pathetically grateful.
After a long talking-to about his behaviour when alone, he is deposited by one of the flower borders.
He sits silently, gazing at the flowers, gently tugging at the soil and grass with his fingers. He feels tense and shivery, not comfortable with the responsibility of it all.
The harsh sun beats down on his now-porcelain skin. He burns.
He dreams of Lestrade again. It's the same dream as before. But it seems that Lestrade might understand him this time. Lestrade reaches out his hand, and tugs Sherlock towards him. Sherlock's coat falls to the floor as he is pulled. He recoils in horror when he realises what he is wearing.
Lestrade smirks at him, patting his knee, mouthing the awful words. Sherlock doesn't have a choice.
Sherlock wakes, the scream on his lips stifled in his throat as he comes to once more, managing to stop his bladder giving way this time. He wishes he could remember his dreams. But he never can.
Sherlock yawns, waking up slowly, stretching his arms out across the luxurious double bed, slowly allowing his eyes to open.
He takes his time getting up, tugging his pyjama bottoms up a bit before heading to the kitchen in search of coffee.
He runs his hands through the mess of darkly coppery curls that make up his hair, leaning against the table as he sips at the scorchingly hot brew, glancing down at the papers that have been thoughtfully left for him as he does so.
He slides down into a chair, starting to thumb through the broadsheets, knowing there's no hurry for anything at all.
It's going to be a beautiful day.
He wakes suddenly, crying out in pain as his skull collides with the top of his night-time prison. He falls back against the thin sheet that covers his mattress, cotton all-in-one slipping against the material.
He. He felt. He thinks he felt happy. He doesn't remember why.
Hiccuping sobs start to form in his throat. He sucks hard at the object in his mouth to distract himself from the bad feelings, squeezing his thighs together, trying not to think about how sad he is, somewhere deep, deep down.
He mustn't give in to them, Daddy says. He must think of happy things. Like Daddy. And cuddles. And the presents Daddy gives him.
His breathing calms, and, thus relieved, he falls back to sleep soon after, mind blank of all that came before.
Sherlock lies on his back, body splayed in front of John, naked apart from knickers and socks.
'You can be so stupid, Sherlock,' John says, slowly lathering after-sun lotion onto the reddened skin underneath him. 'Why didn't you let someone know this was happening? You had every chance.'
Sherlock blinks in hurt, unable to respond for the thumb that permanently resides in his mouth.
John strokes at his calves, continuing to apply the lotion everywhere, slowly moving between Sherlock's thighs.
'I only left you in the garden for half an hour. I can't even trust you with that. You won't let me down again, will you?'
Sherlock shakes his head, grunting softly around his thumb as Daddy pushes his forest-green undergarments aside and thrusts into him moments later.
'Daddy's favourite,' murmurs John, and Sherlock bucks up against him in response, thrilling to the name.
Lestrade finishes his report, emailing it over to his superior. He runs his hands through his salt-and-pepper hair, sighing out tiredly.
Just minutes later, he is called into the corner office to discuss his findings. Are you sure, they ask? I am, he says. I never thought – I really thought it was all over. But it looks like we've been made fools of. Shouldn't let that happen twice.
The phone vibrates. One click, and the message looms large on the screen. Seconds later, it shatters against the marble floor.
He thinks he likes oak trees the best. Or pines. Or maybe weeping willows. He doesn't remember where he saw a weeping willow before, though.
On second thoughts, maybe not weeping willows. They look sad. He mustn't think of sad things.
He thinks about Molly instead.
'We're going to go on a little holiday,' says Daddy, plucking some lint off Sherlock's outfit, drawing him close and pushing him down in one swift move. 'You're going to have to be a very good girl and behave your very best the whole way up there. Can you do that for Daddy?'
Sherlock would nod in response, but his bobbing head is being held in place, so he settles for sucking harder instead, firm hands jerking relentlessly at his loosely-tied hair until Daddy spills into his mouth.
Sherlock drinks it all down like a good girl.
John fondles the thick black plug thoughtfully, before carefully laying it on top of the oversize Winnie the Pooh blanket and the pink, shiny dress with puffed sleeves that he's picked out for Sherlock to wear on the way.
Sherlock whimpers into the dummy as the whip presses against his opening, slowly snaking its way inside, all doubled up. His insides twitch with pain and then, more horribly, arousal. Eventually, when he doesn't think it can go much further, it finally stops, scraping against his prostate with each movement.
Daddy's friend makes him crawl around with it in for hours, barely giving him a moment to rest, throwing insults that Sherlock doesn't even understand at him.
It's only when he's sobbing without the ability to stop, snot dribbling down his chin, the noise pervading even the thick leather that covers his mouth, that he's finally allowed to rest.
Moments later, he is sent to bed, still moaning in agony.
Lestrade's task force get to work straight away. He quivers with irritation in the corner, wishing desperately that he knew the full details without having to resort to all this research and slog, but he bites his lip and waits for the right information.
Sherlock wakes in a disorientated state, sticky with snot and sweat and semen, his buttocks aching from the punishment he underwent the night before. He doesn't like bath-time normally, but he misses it now he is so messy.
He inhales carefully, wishing beyond anything for a big gulp of fresh air, but the hard dummy presses around his mouth, forcing his lips into a wide O-shape, preventing anything but the occasional sniff through his nostrils.
Sherlock brushes his hair out every morning. He is proud that Daddy lets him do it. It takes him longer every day, though, because it just keeps growing and growing and growing.
As Daddy ties his mittens on for the day - the ones that match his eyes - he says he wants Sherlock's hair to grow to his feet. That he is such a pretty little girl, but he is not quite there yet. There's lots left to do to make him perfect.
He squeezes Sherlock's crotch as he says this, and Sherlock eagerly rubs up against the rough hand, well-versed in the correct way to respond by now.
John pushes Sherlock's head beneath the water, holding him there for what feels like a very long moment before bringing him up, watching with pleasure as he dizzily gasps for air.
He rubs the shampoo into Sherlock's ever-lengthening locks, gently massaging it into his scalp. Sherlock gazes up at him meekly, eyes wide, still sucking silently at his wizened thumb, as John taught him to do so long ago. It is very rare that Sherlock is left without something in his mouth.
John feels a rush of adrenalin through his body at the lack of resistance as he pushes Sherlock's long body back underneath. He wonders what it would be like if he kept Sherlock there forever.
Maybe next time.
Lestrade moans in arousal, arching up against the hard body that covers his, pressing his erection against the rounded hip edging tenderly against his own.
'I bloody love you,' he huffs out, reaching his hands up to ruffle the man's hair, a hard kiss received for his kind words.
A slim hand reaches down, tugging at Lestrade's thigh. He moves it willingly, gazing straight into his lover's eyes, waiting with barely-contained anticipation for what he knows comes next.
'Feeling's more than mutual, Greg,' says the man, slowly pushing against him, bright-dark curls falling over his eyes as he moves.
Lestrade wakes, cold come puddling around his thighs, his breath sharp and speedy. Jesus fucking Christ.
Sherlock isn't sure he can walk very well now. Daddy much prefers him on his knees, and it feels like forever since he's been allowed to stand up.
One day, when Daddy is out and the Lady who looks after him has left the kitchen for a moment to fetch something, he feels a twinge of rebellion, and pushes himself up from his chair, having to lean on the table for support.
His calf muscles are so underused that he manages just two wobbly steps before they spasm and he crashes against the floor, long limbs banging onto the tiles, not quite swallowing down a wail of pain.
The hour-long spanking he receives from the Lady, plus the punishment Daddy gives him later on, make him very sure he will not try to stand on his own two feet again.
There isn't much time. Plans need to be put into action, and soon.
Daddy hands Sherlock his Ribena.
It's a reward for being especially good, he says. Sherlock craves rewards.
His cottoned hands slip on the smooth plastic of the cup, but he grasps it eventually, drinking the super-sweet liquid carefully through the dotted holes, savouring every drop.
He likes the picture. It's so happy.
After dinner, Daddy gives him a ripe peach, idly plucking out strands of Sherlock's hair as he watches the juice drip from his chin and onto his hands.
Sherlock thinks he's gone to heaven with two treats in one day and busies himself finishing every bit.
Daddy wipes his little girl's face clean, tightening his pigtails, making sure he is ever so neat and tidy for his visitors.
Later, Sherlock lies inert in bed, legs splayed to relieve the ache in his backside, lost in a happy haze of fructose and artificial sugar. He watches the thin branches from the tree outside bat slowly against the window, hypnotised by the repetitive movement. He dozes.
Sherlock wakes earlier than normal. There are people in his room, taking his clothes out of the wardrobe, neatly packing them into cardboard boxes.
Nobody comes in here. He doesn't understand. He puts his hands up to his eyes, pretending they're not there.
'Holiday today,' says Daddy, hand firmly in the small of his back as he pushes Sherlock's hips upwards.
A fingerful of lube later, and he fills him with something big, twisting it until it settles deep inside of his body, making him keen with a mixture of pain and arousal.
'Shush,' he says. 'Daddy knows best.'
The van heads down the slip road, powering towards its destination. Lestrade worries at his thumbnail, hoping he's made the right call.
'If you make a mess on this journey,' says Daddy, 'you will be in so much trouble. You will not be allowed to eat with us at the table like a big girl any more. I will not trust you to use the toilet again. You will be punished every. Single. Night. Do you understand?'
Sherlock nods immediately, his eyes wide with fear, hands fluttering nervously above his satin-covered crotch.
'Good girl. Now give Daddy a kiss.'
Sherlock crawls forward. He feels a sharp prick against his neck as he moves, finding himself in a dazed puddle on the floor shortly thereafter, pupils dilating fast.
'Car,' orders Daddy, and Sherlock is unceremoniously slung over the Man's shoulders and taken away.
Timing, timing, all about timing. He taps his foot, watching and waiting.
'Moriarty!' roars Lestrade as the door to the house is smashed in and his officers stream inside.
Part of him knows they will find nothing. These birds have already flown the nest.
Lestrade gazes around in confusion at the room. Painted a sickly shade of pink, a few toys are stacked neatly in one corner. A large cot-like bed sits in the corner – it would seem to be too big for a child, but not really big enough for an adult. Curious. There's what looks like a yoga mat on the floor and a mirror by the window, which looks out onto a large garden full of trees and flower beds.
Lestrade rifles through the cupboard drawers quickly, but pretty much everything in the room is gone, bar a few scattered hairbands and ribbons.
He doesn't know what to think.
He is being chased by a slavering hound, its black jaws snapping at his heels, almost ruining the shoes Mycroft forced upon him last Christmas, but never quite managing it. Pity. He speeds over the moor, terrified yet somehow exhilarated, swallowed up by the thrill of it all. He reaches a low stone wall, vaulting over it with relative ease, and the hound finally gives up. He leans on his knees, trying to steady his breath as he comes down from the excitement. This is the life.
Sherlock shudders awake to darkness, disorientation, a throbbing pain in his bottom and an insistent pressure on his bladder. He shifts, realising he is bound tightly to an uncomfortable seat that presses his legs apart. He squirms unhappily, hearing the fabric he is clothed in slosh against the chair, each movement worsening the need to go to the toilet.
He exhales slowly, trying to figure out where he is. Who he is. A car. But he's alone. Where is. Where is. Just for a second, he can't. Where is. Where is.
Where is Daddy? comes unbidden to his mind. And then it all slots back, and the pressure becomes unbearable.
Daddy. Daddy. Need Daddy. Daddy. Need Daddy now. Now now now now now now now now.
John sits inside the cottage, relaxing his weary body into a soft grey armchair. The decision to keep Sherlock sedated for today's journey had been a good one, he thinks.
The Man peers round the door, cocking his head questioningly. When he nods, he steps inside, dumping a wriggling Sherlock unceremoniously onto the floor.
Sherlock looks up at John, looking so utterly desperate that John can't help but smirk in response. 'Not yet, brat,' he says. 'Show Daddy what a good girl you are. Hold it in.'
Sherlock whimpers piteously, every squeeze of his thighs forcing the plug deeper into his poor little body. He knows better than to disobey, now. John could watch him all night. Maybe he will.
Sherlock is desperately grateful when Daddy relents after twenty minutes, allowing him to get to the loo just in time.
When he returns, Daddy tells him that they are staying overnight in a cottage, that they had to leave his bed behind so for tonight he will be allowed to sleep in bed with Daddy.
He flushes as Daddy strokes down his face, telling him how good he's been today, what a special little girl he is. He hopes Daddy will always be like this from now on. It makes him feel all gooey inside.
Sherlock's sleep that night is uneventful.
Body traumatised from the events of the evening, his exhaustion levels are so high that he drops off as soon as John puts him down for the night.
His hands fist slowly against his chest in his sleep. John thinks he is unbelievably beautiful. He will never let his little girl grow up.
Lestrade sits outside the house, watching his colleagues stream over it, wishing he knew what to do now. Everyone expects him to take control, but sometimes he just needs someone else to tell him where to go with an operation.
He misses Sherlock.
A bit late in the day to say it, really, he thinks, but he really does. He can't tell Sally – she'd laugh in his face – and it's not exactly like there's anyone else left who knew the man, at least not like he did, but it's always so nice to have someone to guide and help, to get it right when he can't.
And then there's that dream.
He tries not to think about the dream.
Except a little niggling part of his brain doesn't want to comply.
He wishes Sherlock was alive.
He knows the net is closing in on him. He is not scared. He is amused.
John strokes at his little girl's neck, tugging affectionately at his earlobe.
'Daddy is so proud of how you behaved yesterday for him. If you do well again today, you will get a very nice reward.'
Sherlock gazes up at John, still very sleepy, his eyes only half-open in the pale morning light. He yawns around his night-gag, the movement sucking in the dummy that rests in his mouth, making him hiccough.
John knows it's breaking Sherlock's usual routine, and routine is important for people like his little girl, but he can't help himself. He unbuckles the restraint, pulling Sherlock towards him in the warm bed.
He sighs with relief as Sherlock's hot little mouth swallows him all the way down, expertly sucking and licking until he climaxes, spilling down Sherlock's throat till the brat splutters and some spills over the corners of his mouth. Maybe he won't need breakfast today, John ponders.
Sherlock gazes out of the tinted window as they drive, nose pressed against the window, his long hair stuck to the fast-condensing glass. John wants to laugh at the sight. You'd think he'd never seen a road before. Pathetic.
He reaches back, stroking at the soft velvety fabric he's put his little girl in today, fondling the stretchy Alice band that pushes some of Sherlock's flowing hair away from his face. He loves Sherlock in this material, he thinks. It makes him want to screw him into his seat right this second.
He indulges his behaviour, though, knowing that the tint means nobody can see in and catch sight of his property. Good thing too. He wants a quiet journey.
All semblance of the man Sherlock once was seems to be gone, John thinks, watching him fumble for pieces of chicken and vegetables from his plate at dinner. That's how it should be.
He can't be trusted with a knife and fork, of course. Just in case he tries something. He can have a plastic spoon with his porridge at breakfast, but that's all he's permitted.
John doesn't even want to think about the issue. He doesn't think Sherlock would ever try anything, not really. He's too far gone now. Way too far gone. The man is gone. Only the child remains. Just how he likes it.
He reaches for a wet wipe as the slippery food drops from Sherlock's hand despite his best attempt, dirtying his arm.
'Naughty. Don't be so messy.'
He laughs at Sherlock's sad expression, wiping his face clean, forking a piece of broccoli into the downturned mouth while he's at it.
'I know you can't help it. That's why Daddy's here to help. Now finish it all up, there's a good girl.'
Bags are packed. Ready for the off. Come on, already.
Save me. Save me. Save me. Don't leave me here.
It's four months later when Lestrade finally catches up with Moriarty. He's waiting for him, of course. Moriarty never does anything without premeditation, least of all let himself be caught by the British police.
When Lestrade asks him later why he let himself be taken, Moriarty simply says he got bored. He holds out his hands to the officers to be cuffed, almost flirting with them. Lestrade shudders when he notices a couple of them responding to the attention. He'll have them taken off the case as soon as they get back to the station.
He's surprised when Moriarty lets himself be taken back with no fuss whatsoever. He's put straight into a high security cell at the nearest prison – nobody's taking any chances this time. He's not going to get away again.
Lestrade doesn't really understand why Moriarty is being like this. It just doesn't make sense.
Sherlock gazes out at the lake, pushing slowly at the sandy grit with his shoes, hugging Molly to his body. The icy wind whips across his face and he squirms back against the rocks, putting his warm, covered hands in front of his face until the breeze passes. He is happy to be allowed outside – Daddy never liked it before. He would smile. If he could.
He is grateful for the thick tights that protect his legs and the light blue jacket that keeps his body so warm from the cold. He looks down at his feet, wishing he could take off the matching buckled shoes for a minute. Part of him wants to feel the soft dampness of the sand on his toes. Or his fingers. On anything, really.
But he knows Daddy wouldn't like it. And so.
He wipes the thought from his mind.
He is still.
'I don't get it,' says Lestrade, leaning over the table in the interview suite. 'Why did you let us... take you so easily?'
Moriarty merely smirks at him. It's infuriating.
'Come on, Jim. You could have stayed hidden forever, be honest, couldn't you? Everyone thought you were dead for so many years – why didn't you just let us think we got it wrong?'
Moriarty unfolds his arms, cocking his head at Lestrade.
'Like I said to you before, Detective. Inspector. I. Got. Bored.'
That's not good enough, Lestrade knows. There's more, there has to be. You don't just pop up from the dead without good reason.
But he doesn't think Moriarty will tell him today.
John stares out of the window at the windswept vista, hands wrinkling from the washing up. He scrubs a plate clean, his mind elsewhere. He hopes he made the right decision.
Sherlock dozes against the rocks, the fur-lined cape Daddy gave him keeping him warm in the face of the ever-icier weather. He yawns occasionally, hoping he will be allowed back inside soon. He feels lonely and hungry. He wants to see Daddy.
He sucks dazedly at his thumb as The Man carries him to bed, so exhausted from being outside all day that the minute the wall of warm air inside hits him he is ready to sleep.
He dozes his way through being changed into his nightclothes, reluctantly letting The Man detach his finger from his mouth and deftly replace it with the hated night implement, so much thicker than his day one.
Daddy says it's important. He still doesn't like it. Or understand. But he'll never object. He knows better now.
At some point, Daddy appears. He helps The Man put Sherlock into his new bed. He splays his fingers out inside the hand covers of his new outfit, doing the same for his toes, making sure nothing is tangled, tugging gently at his crotch to ease the fit.
He tugs the detachable hood up around Sherlock's ears, tucking his wavy ponytail to one side. Nothing is left exposed, in this bitter almost-winter.
The bars are locked. The light goes out.
He is being dandled on Mycroft's knee, so very weary, doll clutched in one hand, his hair wild and flowing freely.
Lestrade advances towards him, unzipping his trousers as he moves. He points himself in the direction of Sherlock's torso, voice dark and angry.
As he does so, Mycroft pushes him onto the floor, telling him how disgusting he is, how hugely unworthy of the Holmes name he is.
Lestrade reaches out a hand to him, pulling him close, ignoring the tears that drip relentlessly down Sherlock's cheeks. He tips Sherlock's head back, spewing come all over his face, watching intently as it dribbles downwards, infesting the rest of him.
'Slut,' says the policeman. 'Dirty, filthy whore.'
An exhausted Lestrade stares through the one-way glass at Moriarty, who is finally beginning to look a little tired. He'll get some answers today, he just knows it.
Sherlock sucks at Daddy's perfectly shaped toes, laving between them, making sure he's gone over every spot. He remembers doing this once before. It seems an age ago.
Lestrade is mistaken. It takes another month and a half before Moriarty deigns to start feeding them information. Lestrade may be many things, but he isn't a torturer, and he won't force Moriarty to do anything by violent means.
So he waits. Patiently. Until Moriarty gets sick of being ignored.
It turns out Moriarty wasn't lying when he said he got bored. He really just couldn't be bothered hiding out any more, not getting any attention on all the interesting things he'd been doing.
It still doesn't mean Moriarty's willing to give them that much, but he does tell Lestrade how he faked his own death, and that he shouldn't expect him to stay in prison forever. He's much more clever than that.
'Here's your next clue,' he tells Lestrade one evening, handing him a piece of paper with an address written on it. Lestrade doesn't know where he means by that, but he clutches the piece of paper tightly, resolving to investigate as soon as he can.
It's far too cold to go outside now.
Sherlock watches the snow drift slowly downwards, driving into the ground with constant force, changing the entire landscape.
He is full of cold, but he's not allowed to do anything about it, so Daddy lets him sit next to him on the sofa, blowing his nose every now and again when Sherlock makes a sniffing noise. He's had soup for lunch every day for the past week.
He coughs hoarsely, his throat aching with infection. Daddy pulls him close, tugging the winter clothes down, covering his thighs properly. Sherlock sighs, leaning easily into the embrace.
After speaking with his superiors, Lestrade takes the next flight to Edinburgh. There is no time to lose.
Lestrade shivers in the cold, buttoning up his thick winter coat as he heads to the police station. He's no renegade – the best results come with help.
John chews at his thumbnail, wondering how long he'll have to wait to hear. It's been a little too long for comfort already. He tries to ignore the gnawing worry that something has gone horribly wrong. He's probably being foolish.
Sherlock mewls in pain as the wax divests him of his body hair, teeth grating against the plastic in his mouth.
This happens every... he's not sure. But he knows it happens a lot. Daddy says little girls don't have hair down there. Or anywhere. He wants Sherlock clean, in every way, all the time.
But he hates this. And it's regular. So it's not even like when Daddy's friends hurt him, or when Daddy does it himself. This, this he knows is coming.
Daddy glares down at him.
'Sherlock. Behave yourself.'
He quiets immediately at the angry look, trying to hold in all the sounds as the wax strips move slowly over his body, jerking thin hairs away from his sensitised skin.
He manages it, and is rewarded with a wonderful tingling sensation all over his scalp. Daddy is stroking something metal over his hair. It makes him pant with arousal, which is the effect every time, but he forces himself to relax, knowing he won't be allowed to go any further than this. He has never been. He will never be. His erection wanes of its own accord.
'Clever girl,' Daddy says approvingly.
Another empty house. Another piece of paper.
He sits on Daddy's lap later that night, thrilling at the affection with which Daddy touches him, moaning against the thick fingers that fill his aching mouth, slurping noisily at each digit.
'Such a good little girl,' Daddy whispers, rubbing his hand slowly over Sherlock's chest, nudging him forward until he is ready to be entered, sun-yellow knickers long since discarded on the green sofa. 'Daddy's favourite, aren't you?'
Sherlock clenches around Daddy, clutching vainly at the air.
He isn't sleeping, he knows that much. But he isn't exactly awake. The fever swells within him. He can't climb out.
Sherlock's hair is so very long now, it is beginning to annoy even Daddy, who wanted it this length in the first place. It keeps getting caught in things, and Sherlock knows Daddy is sick of having to pull strands of it out of his mouth whenever he is fed, woken up or put to bed.
One night, Daddy gets so annoyed with it that he leans Sherlock over his knees, relentlessly smacking him until he almost passes out.
Sherlock would shriek in pain. But he can't. Instead, he resorts to silent tears and tiny gurgles of anguish. That'll do.
John watches Sherlock. He knows that he needs to give him antibiotics – the cold isn't getting any better and his breath, even sleeping, is increasingly unstable. Lucky he has a good stock. There are some perks to being a doctor.
They approach carefully. No mistakes this time.
Steam rises. The window is obscured.
He pinches at his skin, enjoying the sensation. He closes his eyes, transported to a wholly different world.
He dreams of Lestrade again, towering over him, telling him how pathetic he is, how he'll never be a real man, that he deserves everything he gets.
Molly stands next to him, but she is full-size and alive, her slim hands clinging onto a huge leather implement that he just knows she is going to force into him, the malign look on her face telling him everything.
He is not wrong.
As she does it, caring nothing for comfort, he screams and screams and screams and screams and
Lestrade didn't really know what to expect when they broke down the front door of the house situated deep in the Scottish Highlands. He just knew that whatever Moriarty led them to would be worth getting.
He certainly didn't expect to see a viciously angry John Watson charge at him with a kitchen knife moments after entering, didn't expect to see his own men have to cuff and gas the doctor to make him settle, and he definitely didn't expect to see what he is staring down at right now.
A squirming, whimpering, frightened – and alive - Sherlock Holmes, clad in a blue all-in-one cotton outfit, breath rasping unhealthily around a giant gag that looks more like a dummy, forcing his lips wide, wide open. His legs press uncomfortably against his body, the acrid tang of urine filling the air.
Lestrade reaches through the bars of the small bed that contains – no, traps – his friend, but Sherlock jerks away in utter terror, breath even less stable than when they entered the room, gurgling against the gag, pupils glazed over, still plainly half asleep.
He backs off, realising that whatever the hell is going on here, Sherlock obviously can't handle him being close by right now.
'Get him out of here,' he barks to his men and women, running his hand over his light-dark locks. 'Now.'
It takes them fifteen minutes to get through the complex lock that has been placed on the too-small bed – this is no fire brigade saw-and-go job.
Throughout, Lestrade watches Sherlock's terrified visage from the other side of the room, trying to comprehend everything that's just happened, trying to understand the way Sherlock looks right now, hair flowing down almost to his hips, tied with tiny bows in neat pigtails.
He isn't responding to his own name. He isn't responding to anything. There's a lump in Lestrade's stomach that just won't go away.
When they finally manage to undo the top bars – they can't get the side ones to open - Lestrade forces himself to stay back as they slowly coax Sherlock from the thin mattress, trying to get him to let them touch him.
He feels embarrassed for Sherlock as nothing works, the phrases issuing from his officers' mouths slowly disintegrating from adult to childish, probably because of the way he looks right now. He so wants to give Sherlock a big, manly hug, to tell him everything will be okay, but he settles instead for barking at his people to treat his friend as an adult, as the person he is, to be professional.
But it makes him shudder when his biggest, burliest officer steps forward to take his turn, and Sherlock immediately lifts his arms, his expression completely changing, softening from terrified into amenable and childlike.
As he does so, one of his officers opens the wardrobe that has sat untouched across from him the entire time they've been there. Lestrade thinks he might be sick.
On the way back to the nearest city, Sherlock won't budge from the side of the burly officer who had lifted him from his bed. When he tried to put him on the ground, earlier, Sherlock's lower limbs had wobbled worryingly and it had been obvious he wouldn't be able to cope, so the officer picks him back up again, telling him it doesn't matter, that he doesn't mind.
Lestrade has him remove Sherlock's gag as soon as feasibly possible, undoing all the thick leather straps that bind it to his face – he has to swallow a groan of anger at the obscene slurping sound it makes as the silicone nipple is finally pulled away from Sherlock's mouth.
Sherlock looks terrified when this happens, his clothed hands reaching out in a vain attempt to clutch it back. When he realises it isn't coming back, despite soft reassurances from the police officer, his hand presses against his lips, repeatedly attempting to put his clothed hand inside and suck on that instead. Lestrade doesn't want him to, but if he must, he must, so he directs his officer to undo the hand covers on Sherlock's outfit. Sherlock's thumb has been firmly lodged inside his mouth ever since.
They wrap him in two large blankets before taking him out to the van, realising immediately how sick he is, his rasping breaths and occasional thick coughs pointing the way to a nasty infection. He needs to see a doctor, and quickly. Lestrade wants to change his outfit, get him out of the wet clothing that still clings to his form, put him in something more... adult. But now is not the time. They need to wait until they can get somewhere proper, get Sherlock some help, figure out what the hell the next step is in a situation like this.
And Lestrade knows that something needs to be done with John Watson. Because he thinks he knows now what has been going on. When the door to the large wardrobe opened, Lestrade's fears had been crystallised. Rows of dresses, all different colours, all different materials. Garish, pastel, patterned, silk, lace, satin. Alice bands, hair clips, bands and bows. Tights of all shades, thick and thin. Piles of woollen mittens. And knickers. Knickers of every kind you could imagine.
He had glanced at cotton-clad Sherlock, still shivering with fear in his little barred bed. Poor bastard.
There are two vans. One contains Watson and the man and woman they had found in the house. That one is going straight to the local police station, where they will be arrested, processed and put in cells to wait until Lestrade has time to interview them. He doesn't relish the thought.
The other is the one he finds himself in, alongside just three of his officers, wending its way to a hospital that they have recommended. Lestrade knows that the first priority is to check Sherlock is okay health-wise, before they can do anything like change his clothes, or figure out where he'll stay tonight. Or what happens tomorrow. Or how they talk to him. If they do. When. He expects that Sherlock will be okay, physically. Mentally, however, is a whole other question. One he already knows the answer to, deep in his heart.
He gazes at his much-missed friend, sitting silently inside the swaddle of dark blankets, so-long hair drifting down over the coarse material, looking so very small.
The only sound Sherlock makes is an occasional hoarse swallow as he takes new air in around his firmly lodged digit. He hasn't made a sound, bar a couple of whimpers, in the last two hours. His eyes are hazy with exhaustion, lids drifting towards each other every few seconds now, but he cannot let himself rest. It's as if he is waiting for something.
He exhales slowly, trying to think about what the next steps will be. He'll try to keep this very quiet, of course. This could cause Sherlock's brother all kinds of trouble, but more importantly, he didn't think Sherlock would want anyone knowing what state he had been found in. Or what had happened to him.
Lestrade knows he only has a vague idea of what Sherlock had been through over the past five years, at least at this moment in time. He also knows he will have to find out every single detail.
'Close your eyes,' murmurs the burly officer, so quietly that Lestrade almost misses it. 'It's okay. We'll look after you. Everything will be okay.'
And as if by magic, Sherlock obeys, eyelids fluttering shut. Just moments later, his even, if unhealthy, breaths shows he has fallen into a light slumber.
The officer smooths his hand over Sherlock's hair, his own tiredness now showing. He catches Lestrade's gaze.
'Do you want to – sit next to him, sir?'
When they reach the hospital, Lestrade asks the police officer to carry Sherlock inside. He feels like he's already jeopardised something by simply sitting next to him. The officer picks him up with ease, tucking his head against his broad chest, cradling him carefully. Sherlock barely moves an inch while this is going on, fast asleep, breath croaking out of the corners of his mouth.
After they have spoken to the hospital staff and brought him to a private room, and when he is put into a hospital bed and woken, it doesn't seem to change much. He doesn't ask any questions or object at all when the friendly nurse gently divests him of the outfit that hurts Lestrade's gut, peeling the material away from his slim figure, replacing it with a hospital gown and a soft blanket to cover him overnight.
He is checked over by a doctor soon after, his blood pressure taken and his temperature measured. He still doesn't object, even when they ask to examine him rectally. After the nurse encourages him to take the prescribed antibiotics, and he does so, Sherlock swiftly slips back into sleep, body curling into itself.
Lestrade watches the entire thing, when he's allowed in the room, from between his fingers, palms pressed so hard against his cheeks he thinks his face might explode. He doesn't know how anyone can suck their thumb for quite so long without making their jaw ache, but Sherlock has done so for six hours now. He expects John Watson can answer that one for him.
'Do you want me to leave, sir?' asks the officer.
Lestrade doesn't know what he wants, now. He thinks about it.
'No. Stay for a while. He seems to like you.'
The officer nods, sitting down near him on the row of seats.
'Why,' says Lestrade, after some consideration, 'do you think he allowed you to pick him up – why did he do what you said in the van? You're the kind of man I'd deploy to frighten a criminal, normally.'
The officer looks embarrassed, not wanting to meet Lestrade's eye.
'Appearances aren't everything,' he says in his soft Scottish burr. 'I know how to deal with victims. How to make them feel safe. After. I guess he reacted to that. Although, I don't think it explains everything. If you know what I mean.'
Lestrade looks at Sherlock and then back at his officer.
'Well. Good. You can help me look after him, then, while we figure this one out.'
Sherlock stirs slightly, legs splaying beneath the sheet, his mouth quirking into an O. Lestrade settles in for a long night of watching and waiting.
Sherlock is in a hazy, drifting dream. A dream that won't end, a dream with endless strangers who look like people he once knew, who ask him to do things he doesn't understand. He can't remember who these people are, and he wishes they would go away, he wishes they would leave him alone, stop the buzzing in his head. He just wants Daddy. He knows Daddy will make everything okay.
The buzzing in Sherlock's head just keeps getting louder. He wishes it would stop, but it won't, no matter how hard he tries. He wants to wake up. He thought he would like having such a quiet dream, where not very much happens, and everyone is kind, but not when it won't end. It's too cruel, too nice to him.
He knows it's not true, he knows soon enough it will be morning and Daddy will be there, unlocking his bed and making sure he is dressed how he likes, to show Daddy how much he loves him. Then it will be time for breakfast, where he will inevitably be teased for making a mess, and then he will sit on Daddy's lap for a while, until Daddy bores of this and sends him away to be cleaned up and put somewhere quiet to play with Molly or one of the other toys he is sometimes allowed.
He has been sucking his thumb for so long now his jaw is starting to feel numb, but he can't stop. He can never stop. Never ever ever. Even if it is a dream, he mustn't disobey Daddy for one second. He knows Daddy will find out if he ever does. He always does. And angry Daddy is awful.
Rule number 1: He must have something in his mouth at all times, he knows this one best of all. He never thought it would be the case, he used to hate it, but he slowly begins to crave something more solid, to think of the hateful leather and plastic, to hope for wakefulness and hardness. He can't cope with the idea of being in trouble. But nobody in this dream would understand, and it's not as if he has the voice to say it any more.
Rule number 2: Good little girls are seen and not heard. And he hasn't been heard, not in a very long time. He has been so very, very good, Daddy told him so. After the first birthday present, when Sherlock was so bad, he hasn't said a word to anyone. He knows his mouth is put to better use keeping Daddy happy, anyway. He thinks he might have forgotten how to speak, at any rate. He doesn't even know what he would say, if he was allowed to.
It is the third day after Sherlock's rescue, and Lestrade is beginning to despair. It is like living in constant deja vu – nothing ever changes. He just sits in bed, staring up placidly at any visitor, thumb still lodged deep in his mouth, only moved when a nurse requests it or when it's time to eat. He'll do that himself, though he can't seem to do it like before, holding the fork awkwardly, as if he's forgotten how to. A psychologist visits, but finds him impenetrable, telling Lestrade he is experiencing some sort of dissociative state, but that he needs to see someone closer to his home.
Home, Lestrade thinks. Where is that for him now?
He looks so vulnerable. Lestrade just wants to gather him up and make it all better, to hear him speak, those reassuringly husky, dulcet tones ringing through the room once more. But instead, all is silence.
When Sherlock sleeps, Lestrade has gravitated towards sitting near him, placing his palm over the one that Sherlock flings out across the mattress. It's the best he can do, at this juncture.
Sitting in the interview room, Lestrade finds he can't get much out of John. It's not a massive surprise, considering what the police doctor has told him of what the doctor's is riddled with. Without his own stash to keep him topped up, he is starting to experience withdrawal, and Lestrade hopes that once this is over, John might open up a bit more. It explains some of what he knows Sherlock has been through, but not all.
When he can, he tries to talk to him, to find out more, but John just smirks at him and tells him he's got nothing to say, that he's not interested, that he should figure it out for himself. It's like talking to Moriarty, Lestrade thinks. He has that same pernicious gleam, the same glee in withholding information, the same mania. Except he knew John before all of this, and John was not this person then. Or was he? Maybe, Lestrade thinks, he never really knew John at all.
He mentions Sherlock time and again, noting the hungry look in John's eyes when he does so, though John never responds verbally. He tries to talk around the subject, but there's only so much fake inanity he can muster, especially when looking straight into the eyes of a man who could treat his friend and colleague in such a way. He wonders whether he will ever get anything from him. The man and woman arrested with him aren't saying much, either. Soon, though, he is going to have to charge them. Someone needs to start talking. Fast.
After a fruitless couple of days, he leaves the station feeling thoroughly wiped out, his back beginning to ache down low after days of questioning and nights of sleeping in a chair by Sherlock's bed. He doesn't care if his officers tease him about it. They won't get away with this.
Sherlock is half asleep in the hospital bed, his breath slowly starting to settle into its usual rhythm, untroubled now by the hacking cough that was a constant when he had first been brought in. He is clothed more appropriately now, in loose briefs and pyjama bottoms, a plain T-shirt swamping his ever-shrinking frame.
Lestrade sits next to the bed, physically propping his eyelids open, a tremendous yawn escaping his mouth moments later. He knows Sherlock can't stay here forever. Eventually, his exhaustion gets the better of him, and he falls asleep, hand stretching out across the bed as he does so.
When he wakes hours later, Sherlock is gazing straight at him, his head lifted from the pillow. Lestrade starts in shock, twisting his body towards the bed. He thinks he sees recognition in his eyes for one glittering moment, and grasps automatically for Sherlock's slim wrist, but it's as if a veil has been cast over his friend's pupils - suddenly the piercing gaze is dull and unseeing once more. He closes his eyes, sliding back down into the bed, his head slipping below the sheets.
'You must keep your thumb out of your mouth if you can, Mr Holmes,' says the nurse gently, her fingers gently extricating the digit from its usual position.
'I know it's really comforting for you, but you could give yourself a nasty infection if you don't take a break from it at some point. And you're not doing your jaw muscles any favours by keeping it in so much.'
Sherlock watches her silently, mouth slack as she shines a light into his throat, checking that all signs of the throat infection have gone.
'Eyes,' she says, and he blinks wide, following each command without question. 'Excellent, thank you. I'm just going to look in your ears.'
He still has not spoken, although he seems aware of his surroundings, and there is no medical reason for his silence, as far as they can tell. The nurse, although she won't admit it to anyone, finds the whole thing faintly creepy. It's not natural, not for a grown man.
She guides her charge from the bed and into the adjacent chair, watching as he pulls long legs up towards his chest, thumb immediately slipping back into place, squirming backwards in an effort to make himself as small as possible.
'I'll come back tomorrow,' she tells him, putting on her best smile. 'Have a nice afternoon.'
He hiccoughs as she leaves the room, strands of hair drifting over his face and into his mouth.
He reeks of loneliness. It's a crying shame.
He wishes for routine, to be told what to do. He can't function without it, any more. He needs to be guided, to be ordered, to know where his day begins and where it ends. Where is his dummy? Where are his clothes? Where is Molly?
His thumb hurts so much. It is white and wrinkled, aching and sore. He is starting to get mouth ulcers in the corner of his mouth where it has resided until recently. He can't stop - he knows that if Daddy was to see him now, he would be so very angry.
He knows, too, that if Daddy was to come to him now, he would smack him for hours for daring to dress in such horrid clothes, made for a person he is not, for people like Daddy and not bad little girls like him. He would be disgusted. He shivers.
Daddy would hurt him so very much, teach him the lesson he knows he needs, after all this time left without guidance. But then he would make it all better, Sherlock knows, and tell him how good he is, and fill him up with his seed, or let him show how much he loves Daddy by suckling him dry. He wants Daddy. He thinks. He thinks.
But Daddy is not here. Only the stranger-man with the sweet smile and the bright eyes. Who does not play with him like Daddy's friend did, but who likes to talk to him about things Sherlock does not understand, and who watches him with gentle care when he thinks nobody else is looking. Sherlock sees.
Sherlock wonders if Daddy has finally become sick of him, and given him to the stranger-man. Something deep inside of him doesn't think that would be such a bad fate.
Lestrade knows he needs to get Sherlock out of the hospital. He's not making any progress and the longer he stays here, the more people he will meet, and the more likely this is to get into the papers. He has managed to keep the entire thing quiet thus far, aided, ironically, by the refusal of everyone involved to reveal anything about what has passed. Sherlock is still, as ever, an enigma.
He has told Sherlock's brother of his sibling's miraculous return to existence – Mycroft, whom Lestrade has never seen flustered, had had to put the phone down and call him back half an hour later, voice still shaky and upset. Mycroft is in the middle of dealing with some important negotiations in Belgium, or he would have come straight to Scotland. As it is, he must wait. Lestrade isn't telling him everything, not yet, not until he understands better, until he has Sherlock in more comfortable surroundings.
Lestrade knows it is killing Mycroft not to be there. If Sherlock could speak, he would get him to call and reassure his brother, but he knows that isn't a possibility – it's been a week now, and Sherlock still hasn't said a word, or barely a sound. He would send him a picture to reassure him, but he thinks both Mycroft and Sherlock would find it unnecessarily humiliating, considering the way Sherlock looks at the moment, with his distressingly long hair and his oral fixation. Lestrade is really beginning to worry about the latter – he doesn't want Sherlock to damage his teeth or fingers. Something needs to be done about that.
Nobody is talking, least of all Sherlock, but he has charged John and his compatriots with kidnap and unlawful imprisonment, and has had them remanded in custody. He knows that if it were to go to trial now, he would not be able to secure a conviction – there is not enough evidence, nobody has confessed to anything and the most important witness of all seems unable to function in normal society at present – but he can't let Sherlock down. He has to do this, and hope that by the time of the trial Sherlock will be able to testify, or maybe somebody's tongue will loosen. He tries not to think about it too much. It's not something he can do anything about at this juncture.
He crouches in front of Sherlock, who winces every time he moves his thumb, still desperately sucking at all times of the day and night, a week on from his rescue.
'Sherlock,' he says, gently placing his hand on the taller man's wrist, his voice deliberately calm and unhurried. 'I'm going to take you back to London tonight. The hospital can't keep you here any longer – there's nothing... physically wrong with you.'
His voice almost breaks on the last sentence, knowing how untrue it is.
'So we're going to travel back, me, you and one of my officers, just to make sure we get back safely, okay? You're going to come and stay with me for a while, just until you're feeling better, and I'll make sure you get to see your brother soon, too. Is that okay with you?'
Sherlock looks at him with a modicum of fear, confusion etched across his features. Lestrade exhales, trying to hide his frustration.
'Alright. Well. We'll set off in a couple of hours. Just try and relax, will you? It's going to be a long drive.'
Sherlock feels a pang of terror deep down in his gut, his sphincter clenching in worry. The word travel only means one thing. He mustn't make a mess. He knows what happens if he makes a mess.
Lestrade kneels in front of Sherlock, trying to put him at ease. He tries to hold the other man's gaze, but it proves easier said than done – Sherlock doesn't like looking anyone in the eye these days. He grasps Sherlock's wrist gently, easing his thumb ever so slowly away from his mouth, knowing he can't let this continue any longer.
They have been back at his flat for less than a day, but it is driving him bonkers, and the doctors – and the one psychologist who managed to see Sherlock - did warn against letting it continue for too long. Hard, though, when dealing with someone in Sherlock's situation.
'You have to stop,' he says softly. 'You're going to do permanent damage if you don't. This is infected, and you know that's not good, not if it gets worse. Please, for me. You have to let us help you.'
He's not even sure Sherlock knows who 'he' is, to be honest. His words make little enough impression as it is. He takes the antiseptic wipes from the support officer, carefully cleaning the digit before he applies thin white gauze, wrapping it gently around the area. Sherlock doesn't object, but looks at him with what might be fear, Lestrade can't really tell.
'You can't put this back in,' Lestrade says, voice more firm than he feels. 'Doctor's orders, okay? That's why you're taking the antibiotics.'
He maintains his light grip on Sherlock's wrist, feeling the tension emanating from his body as he struggles against the urge to put it back in. But he doesn't. Lestrade is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.
He doesn't want to control him – he can only imagine what John did to Sherlock to leave him in this state – but at the same time, some of his behaviours are seriously counter-productive and need to be dealt with. While he's so out of it, Lestrade just needs to help him along a little, he thinks.
Lestrade bites his lip, wanting to shake Sherlock and make him wake up, make him talk, make him be who he was again, that person that he admired so. But he hopes that Sherlock will be that person again, one day. To some extent. His hand ghosts over Sherlock's.
'Thank you,' he murmurs, smiling up at Sherlock, trying to ignore the look of worry on his face. He really doesn't want to have to put anything else in Sherlock's mouth to replace this, not after what they had found him with in the first place. He hopes Sherlock can cope.
Sherlock is without anything in his mouth for the first time in... he can't even remember how long. He is afraid. He wants something. Dummy, to ease the oral ache. Mittens, to stop him doing it at all.
But the stranger-man hasn't given him any of those things, and doesn't want him to use his thumb, and while Daddy isn't here, he doesn't want to anger the person who seems to have replaced him. And who is giving orders. Sherlock is very good about doing what he is told now.
The stranger-man never gets angry, but he looks upset sometimes. Sherlock doesn't really know what to do. He's just doing what Daddy would have wanted. He knows that every time he crawls to the bathroom, the stranger-man looks as if he will cry.
He wishes he could have different clothes – he doesn't feel comfortable in the soft trousers and tops that he has been provided with. He is not used to this. It feels as if someone is trying to wrench at his brain on a daily basis. He just wants to curl up and be looked after, sometimes.
Lestrade sits next to Sherlock on the sofa. It's late at night and the room is almost pitch black. He leans across, kissing him on the cheek, his free hand moving to rub through Sherlock's wavy locks, twirling the strands around his fingers.
'Show Daddy what you're wearing,' he murmurs in his ear, watching Sherlock's muscles twitch in fear.
Sherlock dutifully lifts the floaty skirt, exposing a crotch covered in lacy material that swipes over his shaven skin.
'Good girl,' says Lestrade, smacking cruelly over the sensitive area. 'Come and show Daddy what a little slut you are for him. Quickly.'
And Sherlock does.
Lestrade fucks him until he screams.
Lestrade wakes in a cold rage, panting so much he almost hyperventilates, sweat puddling in his lower back. Fucking hell. No no no. Poor bastard.
Sherlock stands at the base of the funicular, gazing thoughtfully up at the train slowly making its way down towards him. He turns a zloty over in his pocket, exhaling tiredly. This is the third city he's been in in as many months, and the travelling is starting to take its toll, as is the build-up of useless foreign coins in his pockets.
He'd never say it out loud, but he misses London. He misses Mycroft. He misses John and he misses Greg. Mrs Hudson. Even Molly. He wishes he had had time to say goodbye before everything that happened with Moriarty took place, before he spirited himself out of the country and into hiding. Well, a sort of hiding. More a kind of predatory voyeurism, hopefully leading to arrests and less international crime.
He watches as passengers exit the train. The man he is waiting for is there, dressed in a thick black coat, his hair slicked back just a little. They nod at each other, making their way to a local cafe, where Sherlock orders a small coffee. He needs to keep his wits about him. He's been trying to track this man down for a long time. He could hold the key to unravelling the criminal empire Moriarty had built abroad – Sherlock knows he has to be careful.
They talk, and it all seems promising. After about an hour, he starts to feel a little tired, which he knows he shouldn't be, not at this time of day. He uses his usual tricks to wake himself up, but nothing helps. As they talk, the man not seeming to notice anything, Sherlock feels his eyes start to droop, and knows he has been drugged. He slumps in his chair, feeling very wobbly. The man props him up, giving what Sherlock now knows to be a shark's smile as he is joined by another man. This one is tall and dark, clearly the muscle of the pair.
The two men pay the bill, apologising for their 'drunk' friend, working together to manoeuvre Sherlock up and out of the building. Whatever he has been given has made him pliable and weak, unable to fight back in the way he would normally do. They hold him by the waist and the wrist, crossing the tram tracks and bundling him into a car. All too soon, everything goes dark.
When Sherlock first 'dies', John behaves in the way everyone expects. After the funeral, he stays in Baker Street, occasionally visiting the grave and trying to work a little. Things change, though.
And they do for him, when Moriarty pays him a little visit a year and a half after his confrontration with Sherlock on the hospital roof. John feels sick and angry at what he uncovers that day, unbelieving that Moriarty could have survived shooting himself, livid at what Moriarty tells him. He knows he should report Moriarty to the police, but he is such a persuasive force, John decides not to. Not just yet, anyway.
Moriarty starts visiting regularly. Every week. From a starting point of pure fear, John begins to see the merits of the Irishman, and they become friends, he thinks. He still feels sad a great deal of the time but Moriarty starts to help him with that, too. A little here, a little there. He is easily persuaded. It makes him feel. Better. For a time. Moriarty says that Sherlock doesn't deserve a friend like him, but if he wants to have him in his life again, that he should do it on his own terms. John knows he is right. He wonders if that opportunity will ever come his way.
Sherlock lies in bed, uncovered fingers clasping slowly at the soft sheets, feeling pleasantly drowsy at the feel of a thick duvet hugging him. He stares at the exhausted man lying fast asleep on the far end of the bed, body sprawled inelegantly over the covers, still fully clothed. There's a warm feeling in the pit of Sherlock's stomach. He doesn't know what it is. But he thinks it must be good.
The drugs course through Sherlock's system, keeping him immobile, unable to wrest himself from the mobile bed he is strapped into. His mouth is covered with a useless oxygen mask, his vision hazy and unclear. His ankles are hobbled together beneath the sheets.
They have been travelling for what feels like forever. He is trapped, with no way of getting out, and no support system to rescue him as before, in London. In London. It's his own methods, or nothing at all. And right now, it's nothing at all.
Whatever is going on, whoever these people are, he feels a tremendous fool. He is better than this. He knows he is. He supposes that it is the inevitable result of being left alone for so long. Mistakes happen. Even he is not perfect. He just wishes his first mistake had been a little smaller. The doors of the ambulance swing open, and the muscle man from before appears, cocking his head at the drip that keeps the drugs drizzling through his system, a malicious grin on his face.
'Sleep tight,' murmurs his captor sarcastically, as everything fades away. He knows he has no choice in the matter.
The first time he looks down at Sherlock, bound and gagged in a painfully stretched position in front of him, cable ties slicing into his wrists, plugs in his ears keeping him from hearing a word they say, he can't help but feel a twinge of arousal.
Having him on his knees. Suffering for his lies. That, and satisfaction at having him here, really here, close to him, after seething over his deception for months now. He strokes over Sherlock's comatose frame, plucking at the skin along his biceps, pinching cruelly at the man's exposed nipples.
He knows Moriarty is right, and he is grateful that he has recovered Sherlock, and looked after him until now. Sherlock clearly doesn't know his boundaries, if he'd do something like this to John, if he'd leave. He doesn't want him to go away again. He won't let him go away again. He will make sure of it. And Moriarty will help. What to do?
Sherlock lets out a tiny painful huff of breath as he wakes, the ache from his bonds penetrating through the drugged fog of his recent transport from Moriarty's hideaway to here.
His head tips back, a lock of lank hair falling over his eyes, his chin and cheeks covered with the stubbly remnants of a beard that someone has scraped lazily away at. John thinks he looks so very pretty like this. He could watch him forever. He thinks he will. He looks over at Moriarty, who appears to be busy texting some unknown cohort, probably about some nefarious crime scene.
'I think he's just about ready for you,' says Moriarty, glancing up momentarily. 'Get ready, John, won't you?'
Lestrade is bone-tired.
He is immensely grateful for the support work are providing to him at the moment – sending down the support officer from Scotland on a secondment, getting someone else in to support the support officer – ironic, he thinks - so that he can go to work and not worry about how Sherlock will cope alone all day, unable to dress properly or wash or even walk without guidance. But it's still exhausting, and he is still finding it almost impossible to juggle, especially at the moment.
He wishes he didn't have to worry, but considering that every evening after dinner Sherlock sits on the floor of his living room for countless hours until he is sent - no, asked if he wants to go - to bed, immobile and silent apart from the occasional twitch of his hand as he forces himself not to suck, he knows he cannot allow him to be alone. He cannot function.
He is running out of ideas – all he wants is for Sherlock to show some spark of recognition of his situation, for some life to come back into his adult body. To make a start. To make a sound. Lestrade feels dirty every time he washes his friend's hair, every time he swipes the sponge over his skin. He bites his tongue as he helps Sherlock change for bed. He has managed to get Sherlock to start helping him with dressing in the morning, but bed is another matter. He will do it, of course, but it doesn't mean he has to like it.
He opens the front door of his flat, stepping gratefully into the warmth. As he steps into the living room, he hears a word that strikes both thrill and horror into his heart.
Lestrade hurries into the room at the sound of the deep, familiar voice weakly croaking out the vile word, to see his support officer kneeling on the floor next to a prostrate Sherlock, his wide hands stroking soothingly over the other man's back, a look of deep concern on his face.
'What's going on?' Lestrade asks, voice sharp with worry.
'He's asleep, Sir,' says the officer. 'We were watching television, and he just fell asleep. I thought it was okay, he was just curled up against the sofa. And then he started moving about, and mouthing words I couldn't understand. Not making any sound, though. He kept gulping and swallowing, making these noises in his throat, over and over again, and then that just came out. I didn't know what else to do. Glad you're here, if I'm honest. I can't wake him up, Sir.'
Lestrade slides down next to Sherlock, placing his warm hand over the other man's, clasping his fingers lightly.
'It's okay,' he says reassuringly, carefully squeezing at Sherlock's shoulder, watching him flinch from the touch in his sleep, free hand automatically sliding down towards his thigh, body tight with tension. 'It's okay, I'm here. Nobody's going to hurt you, not here, not ever. Come on, please, Sherlock, relax. It'll be alright, I promise. We'll look after you, I promise.'
'Daddy,' whimpers Sherlock, his husky voice barely able to make out the vowels and consonants after so long out of action. 'Daddy, Daddy, please...'
Lestrade looks at his officer. This is awful. They can do nothing else but keep trying to wake him up, stop the nightmare, take him away from whatever is going on inside that battered brain of his. But then, he supposes, he may not speak again. But fuck, it's good to hear him talk.
A trembling, terrified gasp comes from Sherlock's mouth. Silence.
He has a little hit just before he deals with Sherlock. It makes it all easier. Makes him feel excited and jittery. Improves his clarity of thought.
'He needs to know you're in charge,' says Moriarty, clasping his arms in solidarity, and John agrees.
Moriarty has already punished the brat a great deal over the past six months, John knows, making sure he is suitably ready for this part of the process. He doesn't exactly want to do that, not much, anyway.
Obviously he's still immensely pissed off at Sherlock for lying to him, so he does need to be taught lessons on that front. But he has lots of clever ideas. Ideas he always thought about in his head, in his fantasies, but never thought he could really make true. Moriarty's shown him otherwise.
Mainly, John thinks, Sherlock needs to know that he cannot leave him like this, and what the consequences are if he should try to do so. He needs to know his place, now. Can't be trusted to go anywhere any more, can he? He needs to submit. He needs to know Sherlock will never leave again. He is no better than a child.
When a whimpering, dazed Sherlock hears his voice for the first time and realises his predicament, he is horrified, falling back over himself in an attempt to get away. That won't do. He brings him close, touching him affectionately, showing him he cares for him. He does what John wants now, doesn't he know that yet? Children don't get to make their own choices.
'You're disgusting,' he tells Sherlock. 'You walked away, and you didn't come back, and you think it's okay just to carry on living, without even letting me know you were alive? No, Sherlock, no.'
Sherlock wants to reply, but his mouth is still full of John's toes, and he has already been hit once for trying to respond to an earlier statement. He realises now that they are statements, not questions. Sherlock gags as John's toenail scrapes over the roof of his mouth.
He doesn't understand what has happened to John – who is this man? If he didn't know the inflections of his voice so very well, he would blame his enforced blindness and say it couldn't be him. A little part of his heart shatters with every word.
'It's not okay, Sherlock, don't you get that? You can't do that to another person. You'll learn that. In time.'
He thinks Sherlock is beginning to get the idea.
He thinks this might be it. He has to take the chance. He can't take any more of this. He is almost broken. He can feel himself tipping over the edge into submission.
He has never, ever been left unattended or untied or anything like this in all the time he's been trapped in this godforsaken house, and he knows he has to run, run while he can, while that moment of inattention lasts.
He stumbles down the stairs, suppressing a moan at the pain each step causes in his calves and thighs, heading for the kitchen, where he knows there is a door to the outside and a number of windows.
The room is dark. He tries the door. Locked. He tries the windows. Locked. The drawers are bare of cutlery, he can't find anything to help ease open the barrier to freedom.
He starts to panic, his aching body starting to tell him he won't manage it in time, he will be discovered. He scrapes at the window with his bare hands, trying desperately to push it open, to jerk at the wood enough to get even a little leeway.
When he sees John at the door, arms folded, he knows it is too late. Too late. He is done for. The doctor tuts at him, stepping over and grasping his naked body with ease, strong, rough hands squeezing down viciously at his neck until Sherlock's breath catches, and his vision starts to grey.
'So disappointed in you,' he says, shoving Sherlock up against the glass, thumping into his sacrum with his fist, making him wail. He needs to learn, hasn't he told him this enough over the months? He doesn't like being violent to him, but Moriarty has taught him there is a time and a place. 'Untrustworthy little brat, aren't you? Can't trust you one bit.'
He makes him lie on his back in front of him, holding his legs up in the air. He beats the soles of Sherlock's feet with his belt, making him scream in a way that he cannot recall hearing before. He cannot walk away from John, he needs to understand that once and for all. He thinks tonight will do it, judging by the look of utter submission he sees on Sherlock's face by the end of the punishment.
Hours later, Sherlock, exhausted and broken, lies in the soft bed John has put him in for the first time, tears dripping slowly down his face. He will never try and leave him again.
When he is good, he is put in the bed. When he is bad, he is kept in the cupboard. He wants to be in the bed. It is so soft. He craves the feel of the mattress underneath him. He craves the warmth of the room over the freezing coldness. He is allowed to see in the bedroom. He is not in the cupboard. He is unbound in the bed. Not in the cupboard. He starts to try very hard to behave as perfectly as he can. He knows he cannot escape. Better to make the best of a bad situation, he supposes.
John tells him he is a brat, he is a child, no better than a wilful little girl, which is all he is, clearly, considering the way he has behaved. He chides him, spanks him, hurts him, holds him, day after day, week after week, month after month, until Sherlock starts to believe it. He says Sherlock cannot look after himself, that he has clearly shown his incapability, so he will take the responsibility. He will teach him to behave properly, even if his mindset is completely wrong at present. He will look after him.
Sherlock should see him as his daddy, he says. That's what daddies do, after all, they teach their children to behave appropriately, they give them boundaries, they look after them. He is Sherlock's Daddy. No other exists. Has ever existed.
His eyes gleam at Sherlock as he says these things. His palms squeeze and stroke, his fingers grasping at Sherlock's lengthening hair, gathering it into his hands almost affectionately, tutting at the length.
He is a good little girl today, John tells him. He allows him to sleep in the bed that night, giving him a little bowl of softened chocolate as a treat before he is sent up, watching the too-thin man slurp it up eagerly, using his fingers to clean the bowl, desperate for any and all nourishment he is given, accidentally daubing his chin and upper lip as he does so. He likes him messy.
His dazed brain feels desperately pleased. He wants to be good. He really, truly does. It makes everything okay. He has been hurt for so long. No more. He is allowed to eat when he is good. Good is good. He is so hungry, so very hungry. He will try so hard to be right for his Daddy, to be the best little girl for him. That is all that matters. That is all he is. He forgets what came before.
When Sherlock wakes from his stupor, it is not instant. He looks up at Lestrade with unseeing eyes, grasping at his shirt with loose fingers, burying his head in his chest, his breath uneven and distressed still.
Lestrade knows he is not yet properly awake. He has seen this numerous times before. When truly conscious, Sherlock does not come close, he does not behave like this. He stays still and remote, waiting to be told what to do, not presuming anything about being allowed near anyone else. Lestrade thinks John has trained him distressingly well.
He is finally beginning to get somewhere with his questioning of John's accomplices. They have started to tell him about how Sherlock was brought to John in the first place, how Moriarty fits into the puzzle.
But they haven't yet told him about the wardrobe. About the little barred bed they found Sherlock in. About the distressing variety of things found in that house. About why Sherlock is lying on his living room floor, hair long and loose, whimpering, lost in an unknown world of John's creation.
He holds Sherlock for what feels like hours, gently rocking him in his arms, muttering inanities about his working day, until he feels his body shift and tense, and he lets go immediately, watching the man scramble back from his grip, a look of confusion and fear on his face.
'Don't worry,' he says, gesturing to his officer, who has returned with a hot water bottle and a blanket. 'You fell asleep, you had a nightmare, that's all. It's okay. It's alright.'
He gives Sherlock the hot water bottle, draping the blanket carefully over his shoulders as he does so. At the same moment, Sherlock turns his head, gazing up at Lestrade with a look of utter trust that utterly stills him. He slowly reaches a hand out, pressing it against Lestrade's chest, just over his heart, thumb rubbing slowly at the soft fabric that covers it.
Moments later, his eyes dull and his hand drops away. But Lestrade saw it. He is there. There is hope.
Sherlock is doing very well. He almost always does as he is told now. He always calls John Daddy, and says little else, bar yes and thank you. To be fair to him, when he does try to say anything else, he is punished. He certainly never says no. He knows choice is not a word that exists for him any more.
He takes to sucking cock with real ease, John thinks, the glossiness of his lips during often making John want to paint them. So he does.
John is so pleased he did this. He never really thought he'd go this far. But the more time he spends with his little girl, the more he realises the need for a complete re-education. Just telling Sherlock what he did wrong won't do it. He's tried that before. Sherlock needs to become. To be broken down and built up again in the right way.
He's accomplished a huge amount, Moriarty tells him as they sit in the kitchen one evening, drinking beer and eating Bombay mix. He clinks his bottle against John's in a sort of toast, shoving a brand new iPhone over to the man.
Sherlock lies in bed, thrashing about in the too-small space as he dreams of a world he no longer inhabits.
It's an unexpected bonus that Sherlock looks so very pretty in the little blue knickers John thought he'd try him in. And even better in the dresses. Oh god, the dresses. He starts making Sherlock tie his hair in bunches. Best.
Sherlock always squirms so beautifully for his Daddy when he is bouncing on his knee, hole kept ready and waiting through judicious use of various enemas and lubricants. John can't help but fill him up with whatever is to hand, whether that be his fingers or the TV remote. Sherlock didn't enjoy that one much.
Sherlock's knickers are almost always doused in liberal amounts of come and jelly by night-time and he often gets a spanking from John's man or woman for making them so disgustingly wet, usually just after he has had his bath. He still cries a little when this happens, little fists clinging to the bars of his bed as he is paddled, skin rosy-red, cheeks dark with humiliation. John likes to watch.
John starts sourcing more and more new outfits, spending his evenings – after Sherlock is put to bed, of course – clicking around on the internet. He uncovers all sorts of interesting things. He can't decide what he likes best. So he keeps buying. Sherlock looks good in everything. And nothing.
One day, he looks down at Sherlock, sitting on the floor of the playroom, sucking nervously at his thumb as he waits to be taken for his breakfast. He looks gorgeous, John thinks, dressed in a wispy little yellow number that barely touches his thighs, matching ribbons threading through his hair, sun-bright socks pulled halfway up his calves. He watches the floor intently.
John suddenly realises that Sherlock really is just a little girl. He doesn't know why he ever thought Sherlock was a man, not really. It's suddenly clear to him that he has always been masquerading as something he was never capable of maintaining - he simply never had the mental capacity to behave correctly in an adult world. That's why he needs John so very much. He's so glad he caught this in time.
'Come here,' he says, beckoning Sherlock over. Sherlock does as he is told.
His helpers makes sure Sherlock is waxed and shaved every few weeks, his body kept clean and smooth for Daddy at all times. Sherlock hates the sessions, wriggling and whimpering violently at each touch until he receives a vicious beating, but John feels the opposite way. Plus, if Sherlock can't be a competent adult, he can be the best little girl in the world, and little girls certainly don't have stubble or body hair. John will help him along the long road to perfection. He's not quite there yet, but he will be.
Moriarty visits them regularly, checking up on Sherlock's progress, making sure John has everything he needs. He asks for time with him.
John doesn't grudge him being with Sherlock, he just makes sure he isn't in the house when it happens. Moriarty deserves privacy too, after all. His little girl always seems terribly spent, sometimes in pain, after he sees Moriarty, but that's par for the course, really, and he's sure Moriarty's teaching him valuable things.
He should be grateful people want to pay him any attention at all. Brat.
At first he expects to be touched, or to touch, or something along those lines. To be dressed up. To be filled. To be held roughly. But as the weeks go by, turning slowly into the first month, and then the second, he begins to realise that this new person – he doesn't know what to call him – seems to have no interest in that side of things whatsoever.
He supposes he should have been tipped off by the way the man touches him, gingerly, carefully, and the way he dresses him – not like Daddy, not in any of that kind of stuff, just in dull colours and loose trousers and tops, things that are alien to Sherlock now. But he does not object. It is not his place. What others want, they can have.
The man tells Sherlock John is not coming back. Daddy is not coming back. Ever. That he is somewhere safe, somewhere he can never get to Sherlock from again. That he must try and realise that this is the situation now. That he mustn't fret. Please don't cry. Please don't worry. Sherlock's lip wobbles. No more Daddy? He doesn't know how to be, without him.
The man squeezes his hand gently, telling Sherlock he will make sure Sherlock is okay. It might take time, but he will not give up. He looks afraid. Sherlock isn't in any position to stop anyone else from touching him. But he likes the way the man's hand feels in his, each time it has happened. And he doesn't feel scared, not now, not ever, not of this man.
Sherlock squeezes nervously at his pillow, staring blankly into the darkness, curled up on his side. It has taken him months of trying hard for the man to feel comfortable enough to do this, rather than on his back with his legs splayed, as he has been taught.
It is difficult enough not sucking his thumb - sometimes he can forget, and sometimes some part of him wishes desperately for the dummy, imagining it being forced back into his mouth, banging up against the roof of his mouth, being told how good he is.
He snaps out of it, panting into the silence.
No tree bats against the windowpane, which reassures him a little, but he can hear the rustle of leaves in the near distance, a fox's yowl penetrating the night air. His window is open, the room airless with the heat of a late Spring. It frightens him. What if someone tries to get in and take him away again? He cannot take any more change.
He doesn't know why these thoughts rack his brain. He feels terribly confused. He questions everything now. He doesn't know who he is any more. He knows he is commanded by another, now, and he does his best to make him happy. He doesn't demand much, although what he does demand goes against what Daddy asked of him so very long ago.
Sometimes he thinks he remembers the man from somewhere else. He lets Sherlock look him in the eyes and he doesn't tell him off for it. His eyes are beautiful, Sherlock thinks, pressing his own closed in order to remember exactly how the man's look. Big, soft, caring, non-threatening. Beautiful lashes that can entrance with just one bat, not that the man knows this of himself.
The thought soothes him. He sleeps.
He wakes to a blaze of yellow from the hallway, his bedroom door propped ever so slightly open, a figure standing tall in the space left to him. He blinks, vision terribly bleary, gazing up at the outline with some curiosity and not a little fear.
He gropes nervously for his sheet, not quite sure what to do or say. He knows the man said Daddy will not come back. But what if he is wrong? What if this is Daddy, and he is mad about all the things Sherlock has done since he was removed from the house?
The light is turned on. His breath halts. Shakes. It is as if he is the sun, coming out from behind an enormous cloud, and the sky is clear, and the light is bright, and he knows. He knows. Mycroft. Mycroft.
It's not a word either man expects to hear issue from Sherlock's mouth. After Mycroft had finally managed to escape Belgium, he had called Lestrade while on the Eurostar, telling him he would be back in London by the evening, and could he come and see his brother, please?
Lestrade almost wants to balk at the request, knowing how Sherlock still is. It has been months since the original rescue, and although Sherlock has made progress in many ways, starting to walk a few steps, starting to be a little more confident in his behaviours, he is still clearly ensconced in a world that does not reflect his reality, layer upon layer of lies serving to keep him docile and silent on a daily basis.
So he tells Mycroft that of course he can, but that Sherlock will be asleep, that he tires easily. Mycroft sounds worried, agreeing to the conditions. He comes at about ten in the evening, long after Sherlock has shown exhaustion and has curled up in his bed, dropping off shortly after. At least, Lestrade hopes he has. He tries not to look in on Sherlock if he can help it. He wants him to feel confident that he is not imposing himself or his choices on his life, as much as is possible.
Mycroft sits in the living room, sipping tea, listening gravely as Lestrade explains what he knows so far. He tries not to delve too deep into what he is slowly uncovering about Sherlock's life over the past few years, but he tells Mycroft the important facts, explaining that he has been a prisoner for at least three years, that he has been severely maltreated, that he has retreated mentally. He tells him of his wordlessness, of his submission, and Mycroft clicks his tongue, face white with the traumatic revelations.
So it is a surprise to both of them when the thin, croaky voice speaks Mycroft's name. It clearly hurts to speak, but he can tell Sherlock knows exactly whom he speaks to. Mycroft blinks in shock, still in the doorway, before Lestrade, too, recovers himself, giving Mycroft a nudge towards the bed, not quite sure what is going on, wanting to speed over and smother Sherlock, but knowing far better.
He could punch himself in the face for being so obtuse about the whole thing, he thinks, watching Mycroft lower himself to Sherlock's level, extending his hand to Sherlock's. Of course he will remember his brother. At the end of the day, he has only known Lestrade, and others, for a limited amount of time. It's easy to make someone forget recent events, if you know how. Siblings, on the other hand, are significantly harder to erase. He's getting that now.
He watches with slight envy as the taller man squeezes affectionately at his friend's fingers, and Sherlock doesn't fly back in fear, but instead looks up at Mycroft, looking terribly young all of a sudden. Mycroft does not hug him, but just strokes slowly at his hand, squeezing it reassuringly.
Sherlock's eyes are bright with recognition, murmuring his brother's name every now and again, as if it will go away if he doesn't constantly remind himself. He shifts closer, forgetting about the sheet, letting it drop. It is a joyous moment for Lestrade, who has not seen Sherlock behave like this since... forever. It is a turning point, he is sure of it.
He wants to hug Mycroft for hours, he thinks, as they sit together later, drinking wine and beer, Sherlock fast asleep against Mycroft's dark grey coat, snuggled into his brother on Lestrade's sofa, arms loose around his waist. Mycroft holds him tenderly, as if he might break if he let go.
'I'll come again tomorrow,' he tells Lestrade, gently levering a dreaming Sherlock from him, letting him stay on the sofa, a pile of blankets and pillows laid next to him for when he wakes up. Lestrade hopes Sherlock will remember all of this when he wakes.
Warm and sleepy, Sherlock shifts in the thick blankets, not really aware of being shaken from his usual routine yet, still very drowsy. He exhales steadily, lost somewhere inside his own mind, thoughts spilling over each other as one struggles for supremacy over the other. He struggles to the surface, his rational self battling against the blackness that threatens to edge over his vision, pushing hard against the wall that secures the area in front of his eyes, trying to break through into daylight and normality.
Most days he does not succeed, finding his clear mind relegated to somewhere deep down, beating away fruitlessly, begging to be allowed out. It is as if he watches his daily behaviours from some other place, helpless to affect them, unable to speak. When he does manage it, he finds the rest of his psyche is always present, too terrified to speak for fear of the consequences, having to be pushed extra hard to try and make progress for the man.
He just doesn't want to be hurt, not any more.
He lies on the sofa, gazing at the blank television screen, warm and cocooned, comfortable in the bondage of the bedclothes. His brain tries to reassert itself, battling against the feelings of submission, of childishness, of worthlessness. Long strands of hair drifts lightly over his face, tickling at his neck a little bit. He wishes it were shorter. A lot shorter. A flash of fear fills him at the very idea of thinking such a thing. If he stops, Daddy will get mad.
But. Daddy isn't coming back. The man said. He doesn't know what to believe any more. After what feels like at least an hour, the door handle turns, and the man walks in, dressed smartly in a light grey suit that matches his hair. Sherlock think he looks wonderful.
He comes over to Sherlock, kneeling down next to him, holding a cup of tea out towards him. Sherlock can see steam rising from it. He doesn't drink tea, he thinks. He is not allowed anything like that. He can't be trusted with anything hot. He might do something stupid with it. He might drop it. He might hurt someone else with it. He is not allowed. He is not allowed.
The other half of him rises up, pressing against his flesh, making him bite his lip to stop himself from moaning in fear. Eventually, he works up the courage to reach out a shaky hand, looking at the man for reassurance. The man nods, and he takes the mug, managing to steady it in his hand. He wants to please. The man. And himself, he supposes.
'You did so well last night,' says the man, smiling at him, his hand resting near Sherlock's body. 'Do you remember what happened?'
Sherlock tries to think. It all seems a blur. He remembers someone. He was so tired. He thinks he does. He can't quite.
'Your brother,' says the man. 'He came to see you. You did so well, you remembered what he was called.'
Sherlock doesn't remember having a brother. He is alone, isn't he? Daddy doesn't have anyone else. Daddy didn't. Didn't, he thinks, breath catching at the remembered loss.
'Sherlock,' the man says again, 'don't you remember? You must remember.'
He knows the man knows he is perplexed, because he reaches out, twisting his iPhone to face Sherlock, showing him a video of something blurry. He presses play. Suddenly Sherlock's head is pounding, his eyes watering, head full of remembered images, and he is. He thinks. He can't. He remembers. He rises. Mycroft. Greg. Mycroft. Greg. Greg. Greg. This is. He reaches his hand out; he jerks forward, grabbing for the man's lapels, panicking, his brain crystal-clear, his heart throbbing.
'G-Greg? C-Christ. Greg. H-help. Me.'
He feels almost faint at the sound of his name issuing from Sherlock's mouth, allowing the detective to grasp at him, pull at him, do what he needs to do. This is insane. Months of trying so hard, and now this. Incredible.
He knows it was hard-wrung, and he expects Sherlock will clearly lapse back into his horrible silent state shortly after, unable to cope mentally, but he hopes beyond hope this will be the start of a return to normality for his friend, in so many ways. He doesn't know if he hopes too much. But, he thinks, better to hope than not.
'You remember me?' he says softly, staying level with the top of Sherlock's head.
'G-Greg?' Sherlock says, clearly very confused, his voice hoarse and sore from underuse, the need to suck his thumb all but forgotten in the excitement and the desperation of having something so very familiar so close to hand all of a sudden. 'I-I-y-you-'
I'm here, he tells Sherlock, allowing the other man to pull away from him at his own post. What do you want to talk about?
As it turns out, even when he's all there, which a half-thrilled Lestrade is still getting wound up about, it's hard to get Sherlock to talk. For one thing, he's out of the habit, he's still trying to work his way out of a prisoner mentality, to know that it's okay to speak, to make noise, to live his life in the way he wants to. It's too early to expect much more.
It hurts, Sherlock implies, his scratchy voice repeating the two names over and over again, barely able to manage anything else, starting to get nervous the longer he is pressed for information, none of which he will give. He is trapped in a cycle of names, unable to force anything more pertinent out from between his lips.
So Lestrade talks to him instead, ever so softly, coming to sit next to him on the sofa. He attempts to keep it very soothing, knowing how peculiar Sherlock must be feeling, not even trying to comprehend the state of his brain at this point. He talks of calm things, of generalities, trying to avoid any drama. He needs to talk to him properly. Or at least someone does. But that can wait for another day.
John lies in bed, stroking himself idly as he thinks about his little girl. He has brought himself off in this way numerous times since his arrival in the prison, remembering times past, dreaming of times to come. He spurts at the thought of his little girl in front of him, sucking hard, of having the little slut on his lap, jiggling as she is filled with John's seed, of the garden spitroasting given on more than one occasion, of the numerous beatings the brat was given, all completely necessary, of course. It makes his entire body shiver with need just to think about it.
He fists his cock slowly, cycling through all the wonderful outfits, toys and accessories he had bought over the past few years. Bright pink dildos that filled her until she screamed. Hard wooden paddles to keep her in line. Oversized dummies to prepare her mouth. Only the best for his little girl, of course. He wonders how long her hair is now. He hopes it is down to her feet. He groans, squeezing down as he comes, imagining it is her mouth.
He has been kept in prison for months now, waiting for a trial that never seems to be scheduled, hearing snippets of information from his lawyer, who promises he will free him. He knows Sherlock will not be able to testify. He cannot even speak, now, he knows better than that. After his immensely rude response to John's kind gift to celebrate his one-year anniversary, he learnt fast. John swallows down a groan of arousal as he thinks of Sherlock, lying in his cot, wrapped up in his nightclothes as usual, mouth gaping open, squirming all night with the deep itch only a good figging can create.
He had wondered whether he would feel differently once he was no longer subject to the drugs that had been his companion for so long, but it turns out that that is not the case. He feels exactly the same way. Sherlock is nothing more than a naughty little girl who needed a firm hand. And that is exactly what he gave him. He wonders what Sherlock is doing now, whether he is being kept in the right kind of bed, the right kind of clothes, fed the right kind of food, kept in line as he should be. He suspects not. There will be a lot of work to do once Sherlock is returned to him.
He is annoyed at Lestrade, of course. He will be punished, too, once he and Moriarty are free. He will not get away with taking his little girl away from John. He is sure Lestrade is working to take his little girl away from him, but he knows that this will never work. Sherlock will be loyal to his Daddy. Even if he is able to return some semblance of the disgusting person Sherlock was before, the minute he sees his Daddy he will remember his place, John is sure of that.
He listens for the sounds of the other prisoners, waiting until they have died down before he begins to masturbate again. There's very little else to do, these days.
In the morning, Lestrade finds a distraught Sherlock kneeling by the window, staring blindly out at the trees that litter the gardens nearby, mouth agape, fingers clenched over the sill, as if he has been trying to pull it open. It can't be done without a key, Lestrade knows. He doesn't even want to think about all the things that he expects he will begin to find out about Sherlock's time with John over time.
Sherlock's breath comes fast and unsteady, and he is naked, tousled hair so long it creates a sick semblance of modesty over his thin frame. Lestrade thinks this is progress, though – every morning previous to this he has had to help Sherlock out of bed, guiding his every movement. For Sherlock to get up of his own volition is enormous progress, even if it's not for a good reason.
'Good morning,' he says softly, kneeling down next to Sherlock, making sure he stays at his level, not wanting to intimidate him. 'Would you like me to open the window? Do you need some air?'
Sherlock glances around, his frightened gaze softening into something easier, breath slowing until he is no longer shivering with nerves. He nods a little, and Lestrade stands up, going to fetch the key, unlocking the double glazing, pushing it open so that air can flow through the room for the first time since Sherlock's arrival.
Sherlock takes deep, gasping breaths, as if he has never breathed before, and looks up at Lestrade, who quickly perches himself on the end of the bed.
'I'll leave the key in the lock,' he says. 'It's your room, you decide when you want it to be open or not. Does that sound good?'
Sherlock nods weakly.
'Would you like a coffee?' Lestrade asks, grinning at Sherlock, who smiles tentatively back, unused to this softness.
Sherlock swallows, his brain fizzing with confusion, each side of his psyche fighting for prominence. He takes a deep breath. And.
As soon as he says the word, he flinches back, knowing he shouldn't have spoken at all. And that the last time he was given a hot drink he spilt it everywhere. Disrespectful brat. Doesn't matter what you want. It's not about what you want. What Daddy wants. Not you. Good little girls are seen and not heard. Good little girls are seen and not heard. He is not good. He is awful, he is doing exactly what Daddy said he would if he wasn't with him. Reverting to his disgusting previous life. Not acceptable. He needs to make it better.
His mouth works soundlessly, guttural sounds eventually jerking forward from somewhere deep within, until he clasps his hands over his lips for a moment, gulping with fear. He falls to all fours, crawling towards Lestrade, pressing his mouth against his jeans, licking desperately over the zip, clasping it with his teeth, hoping he will be allowed to make it up to this new Daddy. Is that what he is? He thinks he must be.
Firm hands clasp both sides of his head, and he tries to relax his body, knowing what comes next, gut churning with anxiety. But instead of being allowed to suck it better, he is gently manoeuvred away, pulled to his feet, wrapped in warm arms, held, comforted.
'You can speak,' Lestrade says, trying to hide his horror at the response. 'You can, Sherlock, it's okay. You're allowed to do whatever you want, say whatever you want, to say yes, to tell me no. I am your equal, I am not your owner, or your master. You're safe. I promise.'
He loosens his grip a little, tipping Sherlock's head up so that he looks him in the eyes. Sherlock whimpers, but doesn't react, pupils dilated, clearly tipped into a headspace that Lestrade can barely begin to understand.
'I'm never going to make you do anything you don't want to do,' Lestrade murmurs, keeping his gaze steady, his movements slow. 'Like that. You are your own person, Sherlock, you have to believe that. You are an adult. You will have that again. You will have the life you once had. I promise.'
Sherlock blinks, once, twice, his eyes focusing again, faltering breaths gradually easing into a smooth rhythm, looking at Lestrade without fear.
It takes a couple of weeks before Sherlock's muscles are capable of enabling him to walk normally around the flat, before he truly believes he can go to the bathroom alone, he can clean his teeth himself, wash his body alone, and not be punished for doing so.
Years of being kept on all fours have taken their toll on the detective, his wasted calves cramping madly at each attempt, shaking his thin veneer of control with each twinge and ache. Lestrade tries to help, but this is something Sherlock has to believe he can do again by himself, and so he keeps away when Sherlock leaves his bedroom in the morning, a tiny swell of pride throbbing in his chest at each tiny step Sherlock takes.
His hair is still ridiculously long, and Lestrade thinks Sherlock should have it cut short, simply as a symbolic way of moving on from what he has gone through, but he doesn't know how to ask without seeming rude or controlling, so he waits for Sherlock to be ready. That's still a way away, he knows.
Sherlock is still barely able to speak, capable now of saying 'yes, please', of calling Lestrade by his given name, of thanking the support worker who comes daily to make sure he is coping when Lestrade is not there. But that is mostly it, and Lestrade notices he doesn't seem capable of saying no, or of objecting to anything, or of saying yes without having to be grateful for whatever is offered.
Mycroft visits almost daily now that he is back in the country. Lestrade is sure it is helping – after all, Mycroft was the catalyst for Sherlock's mental shift. Sherlock looks thrilled every time his brother walks through the door, practically clinging onto him from start to finish, the most tactile he has been with anyone since his rescue. Lestrade asks Mycroft whether Sherlock should stay with him instead, whether he thinks it is damaging him to be with someone he does not know so well.
'No,' Mycroft says, as they drink together one night, Sherlock dozing contentedly against Mycroft, his body limp and relaxed in the care of his older brother. 'I don't think so. You've been wonderful, Greg, and you're really helping. He's made so much progress with you.'
'But I can't be there all the time,' Lestrade says, exhaling tiredly. 'Work is so busy at the moment. This case is killing me on its own, and it's not like it's my sole workload.'
'Neither can I,' Mycroft points out, fingering the rim of his beer bottle, 'and I can be called away at any moment, possibly abroad – at least if you're stuck working late you're going to be in the city. The support network is all here. Please don't doubt yourself.'
When Sherlock wakes a little later, sleepily rubbing the back of his hand over his eyes, looking across at Lestrade with utter trust, he knows Mycroft is right. They will get there. He knows it.
Sherlock still hazes in and out, he can't quite clutch on to the world that Greg is offering him all of the time, but he tries his best, clinging on for dear life when his brain wants to work, wants to remind him of who he was. Who he is, Greg tells him firmly, as he brews the morning coffee, pouring milk into his bowl of Shreddies, sliding down next to a pyjama-clad Sherlock on the sofa a few minutes later, turning the television on so they can watch BBC Breakfast.
It feels like he is hanging off the edge of a raft, jolting across an endless sea, slowly sinking, only just clinging on by the tips of his fingers. Even when he is with it and able to think clearly, he finds that words are hard to come by. He knows this is not how he was, and indeed, inside his head he can feel the fizz of his brain, just waiting to click back in, whirling with questions, answers, the need to tell, desperate, aching pain, but when it comes to verbalising things, years of clever conditioning overcome the joyous freedom of his new situation. He finds it a huge effort to get even a few words out without expecting a beating, or a figging, or a punishment of some description, even though, rationally, he knows Greg will not hurt him, that he just wants to help.
He finds it easier to respond to simple questions than try to explain what he wants, so mostly he just waits until he is asked for something. It seems easier, too, to wait until decisions are made by other people, than try to press for the acceptance of his own thoughts and opinions.
Walking, too, has been hard to get used to again, after so long crawling, sitting and lying. His muscles are unused to this, seized with agony at each attempt, twingeing as he tries his hardest to get out of bed. He knows how much it means to Greg, though, and continues to work on it until he is able to get to the bathroom on just two feet, not hands and knees.
The first time he goes for a piss on his own, he feels disgustingly proud of himself. It has been too long, he thinks, the thought transporting him to another place, to a dark, sparse room where he is sat on the toilet, knickers pulled to his knees, hands on his legs, his cock tucked between his legs, a soft voice encouraging him to let go, to be a good girl. And he does.
His support worker discovers him on the floor of the bathroom some minutes later, back hard against the bathtub. His head is deep between his legs, breath hitching as he tries to calm himself down. The soft hand on his back does nothing to help, and it is almost an hour later when he is finally able to stumble to his feet and leave the room, almost immediately crashing out on the sofa, the exertion and emotion completely exhausting his weak body.
When he returns late that evening, Lestrade finds him curled up between two cushions, fast asleep inside the blanket his support worker has carefully covered him with, thumb residing just inside his mouth, his breathing steady and relaxed. He doesn't like the oral fixation that Sherlock still favours at stressful times, but he supposes there is little he can do about Sherlock's actions while he sleeps. He knows it is hard enough for the man to cope with this huge change to his life as it is, and he certainly doesn't want to give him any more 'rules' to live by. He's had enough of that over the past few years, he thinks, resting his elbows on his knees, trying to stay positive, his brain fuzzy with sleep deprivation.
While he waits for Sherlock to wake, and while dinner cooks in the oven, Lestrade settles in the nearby armchair, opening up his work laptop, flicking through a number of case updates, eventually settling on the one he really does not want to look at, but knows he must get over and done with.
A digital camera had recently been found in the only residence they know Moriarty has. 1973 photos on the memory card. A good chunk of those of Sherlock. He glances guiltily at his friend as he opens the slideshow, cringing at what he sees on the screen. This cannot be unseen. But he must. He must know.
He is now trying to sit out of the case as much as possible now it is progressing, even though it is one of the hardest things he has ever done. He worries that he might prejudice proceedings, and he is far from unbiased in this matter. So, although he is still advising, and although his colleagues are immensely grateful for his help in solving the case in the first place, he is allowing others to deal with the nitty-gritty. But they have asked him to look at these photos, to give his expert opinion.
He really doesn't want to look at these, to see his friend so debased, but he knows that Sherlock is still struggling to even articulate full sentences at this point, and he must know, he must have some idea of what has gone on, besides what his own fertile imagination is giving him.
So he slowly flicks through the album, swallowing thickly at the sight of Sherlock on his knees, Sherlock screaming, Sherlock dressed in ivory white, ochre, lavender, emerald, his hair bunched, plaited, his mouth wide, his face drenched with come, eyes closed, eyes wide with fear, hands bound. In a few he is clearly posed for the camera, forced to stare straight at it, his lips pursed and reddened, while in many he blinks and shies away from the flash, the next photo invariably of his frightened face, a hand just in shot, holding onto his hair. It is all that he had feared.
When he has taken as much as he can for now, Lestrade pushes the laptop far away, leaving it on the coffee table, exhaling heavily before levering himself to his feet, knowing he must switch off the oven before dinner burns.
He returns five minutes later to see a fully awake Sherlock kneeling in front of the table, staring at the screen of his half-open Toshiba, his fists clenching and unclenching over and over, frozen.
It's not quite like a floodgate opening, but the trauma of that Thursday night seems to have opened up Sherlock's mind, to have convinced him that he needs to talk about what happened, to let Lestrade know so that John and his compatriots can be brought to justice. He still struggles with his words, finding full sentences exhausting after just a few, but slowly Lestrade pieces together the events of the first year and a half, how he had been travelling through Europe on the quiet, had made sure everyone at home thought he was dead to minimise danger to them.
He feels desperately sad for Sherlock as he slowly, haltingly explains how he was finally kidnapped in Prague, drugged by one of Moriarty's men and brought back to England in the back of an ambulance, unable to move, unable to escape, unable to let anyone know he was alive.
He tells Lestrade a little more about his time with Moriarty each time they talk, but he cannot go into too many specifics, and does not seem to want to broach the subject of John. Lestrade knows how hard it must be for him, how scarring, and does not press the topic. He hopes Sherlock will be able to talk about it, in time. He needs to, if they are to put John away for good.
'Moriarty let us find him,' he tells Sherlock one evening, gazing across the kitchen table as Sherlock prods at his food, finally able to use a fork again with the correct grip.
'N-not a surprise,' Sherlock mumbles, forking a piece of lamb into his mouth. 'Too clever. W-won't let you have. Surprise. The. You know, the element. Element of surprise.'
He flushes as he notices Lestrade watching him, but says little. He is still far too polite and obedient, Lestrade thinks. He wants to see some fire, some of the sharp wit of the man who was there before, but it's not like he can just click his fingers and have Sherlock back as he was before, even if he sometimes wishes for it.
'No,' he agrees, pushing his plate away as he finishes. 'You're right about that. Clever, and he knows it, too, and wants to flaunt it.'
They sit in silence for a few more minutes. Finally, just as Lestrade is about to ask if Sherlock is finished, the other man pipes up, looking at Lestrade with something approaching terror, his hands suddenly white, clenching around the table.
'P-please...' Sherlock trails off, exhaling, clearly trying to stem another hyperventilation episode.
Lestrade comes close, resting a reassuring hand on Sherlock's back. He does not flinch away, rather shifting a little, closer, bringing his head up, once more looking him in the eyes.
'Can I – get a haircut, please?' he says all in one rush of sound, sagging back in his chair after asking, trying to suppress the need to run away that he feels so very strongly.
Daddy would kill him if he knew he had asked for this. He would call him a selfish brat and administer a spanking Sherlock would never forget. But this Daddy. No. Greg. Greg. Wants him to have what he wants, wants him to be his own person, even though Daddy would say that was terribly selfish of him, that he doesn't deserve it, that his behaviour as an adult was not good enough to merit decision-making skills, that he must unlearn them.
And he is sick of it tangling and taking hours to brush, of it going everywhere, of having to wear it in a ponytail, or loose. It reminds him of. Being. Daddy's. Dresses. And dildos. And dick in his arse. And oh fucking Christ, he doesn't want to think about that. It makes him want to scream.
Lestrade beams at Sherlock, wide and genuine, voicing his approval, and it is like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. He feels drowned in its warmth, submerged by happiness. He doesn't remember this. Is this new?
In the lull between dinner and bed, he usually visits the bathroom for an extended period, a pattern he finds he cannot break. He always locks the door. It is a privilege he has not been allowed in five years, so he makes the most of it. After he has washed – always a shower, never a bath – he sits in the footwell of the shower, knees drawn up against his chest, fingers rubbing against the soft locks that fall only to the tip of his neck now, making sure they are still short, making sure he is still here. He is so grateful to Greg for cutting it, for helping him, for not making him face the world, not just yet.
Part of him knows that this is only temporary, that this soft, sweet life cannot last, that all good things come to an end, and he presses his head between his thighs, gut wrenching over and over, his breath coming in short, sharp bursts.
He tries to stay awake to a normal, adult hour, to remind himself of who he is, what he is, but his stamina is low, and he invariably slips into sleep at some point, waking on the sofa, blanket carefully arranged over his prone form, the room dark and silent. It makes him jump. But only for a moment.
At these times, he unfolds his body from the soft fabric, padding into the kitchen and pouring himself a glass of water. He feels sick at how much this simple task costs him energy-wise, how much it makes his brain spark, how hard it is to achieve without terror rising through him, forcing him into another panic attack.
But he works and works and works, and eventually manages to suppress the fear, and life here begins to feel almost normal. For him. Now.
One night, Mycroft arrives with car full of boxes full of folded shirts and thin trousers, dark-light socks and nondescript underwear.
“They’re yours,” he says, holding up a dark purple shirt, his eyes fixed on Sherlock, “from Baker Street. When we thought you were. You know. Not with us any more. I took them. I couldn’t get rid of them. A good thing too, as it turns out.”
His steady voice belies the emotional turmoil he has been in for the past few months. Seeing Sherlock again is more than he could ever have hoped for. Every animosity and vicious exchange is forgotten upon each sight of his miraculously reborn sibling, and all that rises in him is love for his brother, hope that he will regain himself, fear that he will not.
He has never seen him like this, so silent and so obedient, a tightness within him that never existed before. He is not thinking the way he did before, he is not that person, not yet. He is trying, Mycroft can see it in the flashes of recollection Sherlock occasionally manages, in the tiny amounts of progress he makes daily.
Everything with Sherlock is considered now, everything is fearful. There’s a worry in his eyes that Mycroft desperately wants to erase, but cannot. And he knows why. Something deep inside of Sherlock does not believe that this is true.
“Help me unpack?” he asks, and Sherlock acquiesces, his hand hovering too near his mouth for comfort.
He dreams of swimming, of his arms stroking through the water, breath steady, body streamlined and swift. He plunges into the darkness of the open water, striking out for the other side, knowing he can make it easily.
As he swims, tendrils rise, tugging at his ankles. He shakes them off, swimming on, guiding himself by the moon that sits thick in the sky. Foolish. They squeeze and burn, pulling him downwards, preventing his progress, sucking him under the water, dragging him down. Always down. Always.
And then he is in the bathtub, John’s hand firm against his chest, spare stroking through his hair, and he cannot breathe, his vision is misting over, mouth full of suds, his chest heaving, legs kicking out. But it is of no use, he is too weak, and he cannot. He cannot regain.
When he wakes, his body is drenched with sweat, the sheets tangled between his thighs and Lestrade is there, crouching next to his bed, eyes full of concern, soft words of worry mangling in Sherlock's dazed brain.
He wants to scream.
Coherency is hard to come by. As is honesty. He wants to talk about it, but when he tries, his throat closes up and he cannot breathe for at least five seconds at a time, his heart popping within his chest, making him heave for air when the moment is past and his pulse is slowing once more. He wants to tell someone what was done to him, explain how he has been hurt, but the hold John has over him is strong, and he is not yet able to loosen the noose from around his neck.
So he sticks to the easy words, mostly. To yes and please, to I will and thank you. Anything else is an effort.
He wants to wank. He really does. Part of him remembers how pleasurable that used to be, so long ago, but years of punishment at any accidental touch, swipes to his backside whenever it even got hard, has left him barely able to manage an erection, least of all to masturbate himself.
When he tries, in the calm of late evening, rain spattering against the nearby window, anxiety rises in his chest, and he sees John in front of him, shaking his head, telling him he isn’t allowed to touch, telling him he will be beaten for this, on the soles of his feet, and he shivers and slumps, tugging the duvet over his head, his face hot and flushed, still silent. Always silent.
He splashes water on his face every morning, hoping that some magic will occur and the terror of being returned will disappear, that he will stop wanting to fall on his knees and suck Greg’s cock whenever he does something nice for him, even though the same thought makes him almost physically sick. He knows he is a paradox. He suspects John has achieved his aim. He will always be John’s good little girl, somewhere deep down. He just can’t help it, not any more.
Sometimes he tries imagining that someone else is there, helping him, warm hand wrapped comfortingly around his cock, stroking him to hardness. Their soft mouth is firm against his skin, breathing his name out, holding him close, and it almost works, he is almost there but then he opens his eyes, and he is limp, aching, angry, drained. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair.
Lestrade has built up quite a picture of what happened between Sherlock and Moriarty. So clever, though, he thinks, watching a twitchy Sherlock make himself a mug of coffee one weekend, how he didn’t do it himself, but put the responsibility onto another person, someone Sherlock had had deep trust and probably love, in some form, for. The betrayal would have been worse, the ache deeper, and he can see in Sherlock’s eyes that there is still something very wrong. That, and his inability to tell Lestrade no.
Admittedly, he manages it when Lestrade suggests they venture outside, just for a short walk down to the river, but he supposes you can’t really call a full blown anxiety attack a casual ‘no’. The actual word itself does not seem to be in Sherlock’s vocabulary any more. It's a scary thought.
This is a new tactic, one best approached when he is most himself.
He thinks of Greg, of all the kindnesses he has shown to him since his rescue. He thinks of Mycroft, of his brotherly love, which he does not remember from before, but is so immensely grateful for now. He thinks and he thinks and he holds onto the warmth that burns somewhere inside of him, just waiting to be freed.
And he sleeps, long and deep, and he does not dream.
A month goes by. And then another one. And another slips away without anything untoward occurring. He begins to believe that maybe, possibly, he might actually be safe again. His brain, fizzing with everything unsaid for so many years, begins to reassert itself in small but significant ways. He learns to query, to do more than simply agree, though an outright ‘no’ is still out of his vocabulary. He stops censoring his footsteps, afraid of being heard, afraid of being somewhere he shouldn’t.
Nowhere is off limits in here, Greg tells him, and he starts to realise that he means it. He notices, too, that his support worker is not there so much, that Greg has made a valiant effort at giving him some actual personal space. The first time he is left alone, it almost invokes the mother of all panic attacks, but just as he is about to head over the verge and lose himself in the wrecked breathing he can feel bubbling up from his diaphragm, something stops him, and he shudders to a halt. He conquers it. He lives.
“You’re doing amazingly,” Greg says, one night, just before he goes to bed, pausing at the door to the living room. “I’m not being patronising. I just want you to know.”
He quirks an eyebrow at Greg, his narrowed eyes letting him know that he doesn’t believe it for a moment. The other man stops for a moment, his mouth gaping open for a second, before he grins widely, and disappears in the direction of the bathroom. Later, Sherlock realises how long it’s been since he even thought like that. He sleeps easily, dark duvet warm against his skin. He does not dream.
He looks fantastic, Lestrade thinks. Almost his old self again. The short hair is the same, which makes all the difference, and he thinks it’s really helping Sherlock, too. He even starts wearing some of his old clothes again, though he asks for some to be replaced. They’re too tight, he tells Lestrade, who sucks in a breath, stopping himself from retorting that the old Sherlock knew that, and liked it. This is not the same person, not quite. He has to be careful, still.
The trial is fast approaching, and he is worried about Sherlock’s ability to testify. He’s made huge strides over recent months, able to speak for himself much more, to make more decisions, but he still hasn’t spoken about the majority of what had happened during his captivity, still hasn’t left Lestrade’s flat. The very idea seems to send him into paroxysms of fear, fits of the shivers occurring almost every time the subject is broached.
“What do you think's stopping you?” he asks one morning, trying to keep his voice low and calm, the best way to stop Sherlock losing his way. “Because, you know, I think it would really help you. Please, Sherlock, we have to find a way of fixing this problem. You always liked being on the move, not cooped up in one location.”
It takes a long time for Sherlock to reply, but eventually he does, eyes fixed on the opposite wall, his eyes a little hazy, voice thick with anxiety.
“I'm not... who I was. And. I'm scared.”
“What of?” Lestrade prompts.
“Trouble. Getting. Into trouble.”
“You’re safe,” Lestrade says, placing his hand on Sherlock’s wrist, thrilled that Sherlock no longer twitches with fear at this movement. “You’re safe. Outside, inside, anywhere. You won’t get into trouble, not any more. Never again. You’re an adult, Sherlock, you can come and go as you please. You’re no one’s – child.”
He uses the word almost without thinking, but the flash in Sherlock’s eyes tells him he shouldn’t have, that he has stepped over a line.
“Child?” he says, lips pursing, his voice still unsteady, not with the sarcastic edge that Lestrade so loved. Loves.
“You-know-“ Lestrade stutters, not quite knowing how to proceed with this one. They have not discussed this. Not yet.
“I know,” Sherlock says eventually, and although his voice is small, he suddenly sounds very firm. “I know. What happened to me. With John. With. Him. That you. You need to know. I. Have to tell you. I know. I have to tell you now.”
He slides down onto the sofa opposite Lestrade, eyes glinting in the morning gloom, knowing this must be said, or forever held. And he will never survive the latter. Lestrade fixes his gaze on Sherlock’s face, and he listens.
‘Spread your legs.’
He parts them.
Fingers tug at the waistband of the thin black trousers he has finally been able to enjoy wearing, drag at the button until it pops free, the material slithering down his thighs seconds later, leaving him bare and humiliated.
‘You’ve forgotten a lot, slut,’ John says, his voice hardening just a little, body pressing up against Sherlock’s, making him groan softly in fear. ‘Haven’t you?’
He nods, a shiver running down his spine. He doesn’t dare speak. He hasn’t forgotten that. Fingers press at his shoulders, and he is sliding, kneeling, trousers pooling around his ankles, and then John’s hand is in his hair, jerking him forward, and all too soon his mouth is full of thick warmth, and he dizzies momentarily, unable to breathe.
‘Good girl,’ murmurs the voice, and he gags, body twitching at the hated name. ‘Glad you haven’t forgotten all your lessons.’
Please, he wants to say, please, I’m past this, please don’t do this. Please leave me alone. I don’t want this. I’m so close to better.
He wants to fight, but when it comes to John, he is frozen, he cannot object. He has been well trained. Too well. And so he submits, making the tiny whimpers he knows John likes to hear, gurgling softly against his erection, hollowing his cheeks carefully, doing what he is told.
He feels sick at how easily it all comes back.
You’ve stolen my identity, he thinks, nauseated, head pressed back against the wall shortly after, thick spools of come dribbling from the corners of his mouth, soaking his chin, his chest, his thighs.
‘Good girl,’ John soothes, stroking over his hair, and Sherlock’s breath falters.
I hate you. I hate you.
‘F-fuck, fuck, fuck, I f-fu-n-no-‘
Gentle hands rest against his wrist, his arm, holding him close, holding him still. Soft words reverberate around his brain, telling him it’s okay, he’s okay, there’s nothing to be afraid of, no one to fear.
Warm breath huffs against his neck, the hand loosens, moving to stroke at his shoulder and he blinks his eyes open, to see a worried Lestrade kneeling next to him on the bed, hands firm on his skin, a look of total exhaustion on his face. He had almost managed to get to sleep when the crying out had begun. No rest for the wicked, he thinks, swallowing down a yawn.
‘It’s okay, Sherlock,’ Lestrade repeats, feeling as if he might pass out at any moment. ‘You were just dreaming. It’s okay. You’re safe.’
Sherlock shudders once, twice. His eyes are blank, his face white with fear.
‘John?’ Lestrade says softly, trying not to react as Sherlock grips at his wrist, practically twisting it off.
Sherlock nods. The tension is slowly abating, but it’s still there. Lestrade wishes he could turn the clock back six years, could make it all better. If only. He almost wishes Sherlock hadn't decided to try and talk to him about his time with John. He had made a good start, but all too soon lost himself, begging for another opportunity another time.
Don't beg for anything, Lestrade had told him. You take things at your own pace.
The window is open. Cool air wafts into the room, and the yowl of a fox from outside seems to bring Sherlock back to himself, back into the room. They stay like that for a while, kneeling and holding, lying and recovering.
‘The first night,’ he ventures eventually, so softly that Lestrade barely hears him at first. ‘The first night. He had kept me in a. Place. For a long time. Put blindfolds on me. Not fed me. I couldn’t think. Couldn’t. Do anything. He made me lick his feet. Made me. Suck his toes. And I didn’t know.’
‘Know what?’ Lestrade says ever so gently, levering himself down next to Sherlock, not releasing his grip, knowing that Sherlock finds it soothing.
‘That it was him. Until he. Said. And then he. Just. And. You know. I know. I know what you found. What he did to me. What. I was. Am.’
Oh, Lestrade knows. They are getting closer.
Days pass without event, growing ever hotter, while nights coalesce into one. Lestrade can’t remember ever being this tired. He’s never worked so hard in his entire life, he thinks, looking at the pile of paperwork that has built up on his desk over the past couple of weeks.
It’s not just the daily grind, which he can’t exactly drop without losing his job, but making sure Sherlock is okay, worrying about his state of mind, hoping he’s alright when he’s not there. Endless late nights spent kneeling next to him on his bed, soothing him, letting him talk it out. For Sherlock has begun to open up, at last, thankfully, giving out little snippets of information nightly, as they sit close, quiet, together, night air washing over their faces, the silence welcome to both of them. He tells Lestrade about the aborted escape, about the relationship between John and Moriarty, and Lestrade begins to hope that there might finally be a realistic prospect of conviction in this case.
‘He wanted my hair long,’ Sherlock says one night, knees drawn up to his chest, unable to look at Lestrade. ‘Like a little girl. Wanted it down to my feet. He made me tie it up. Like a child. B-bunches. Pigtails. Grew it so long. Never thought I'd be allowed to have it short again. Thought I'd be there forever. Until you came.’
He flushes, glancing up at Lestrade momentarily, before looking away, jaw working soundlessly before he continues, slowly detailing the daily humiliations, the punishments, the rewards. Turning him into a toy. Into something he never wanted to be. Lestrade is sure Sherlock isn’t telling him everything, but he’s not sure whether he’s holding it back, or he’s literally just blanked out the memory. He’s so worn out that the nightly confessions feel like a dream, unreal.
‘Can I see Molly, at some point, please, Greg?’ Sherlock asks softly, late one night, surprising Lestrade out of his reverie. It’s not something he expected to hear issue from the detective’s lips. He hasn’t seen anyone since his return, barring himself, Mycroft, and a couple of medical professionals.
‘Molly Hooper?’ he says, thumb rounding over Sherlock’s bicep, watching as the detective slowly relaxes into the motion, setting off an inexplicable lurch of warmth in his stomach. 'The girl from the morgue?'
‘I. It’s. I don’t. I’m sorry,’ Sherlock stutters, colour fading from his cheeks, his momentary confidence eroded by the question. 'She-I don't- you don't-'
‘No need to be sorry,’ Lestrade says automatically, the words ingrained into his brain by this point. ‘Of course you can. Just took me by surprise. We’ll arrange it in the morning. Does that suit?’
Sherlock nods a little, leaning his head back against the pillow, head just touching Lestrade’s arm as he shifts, gazing up at him with something approaching calm. When he finally falls asleep, Lestrade is too tired to move, curling up next to him, asleep within seconds, dressing gown loose around his body.
It's pathetic, he thinks, staring out of the window one morning, that he cannot step outside and enjoy the sunshine. Even when he was with John, he was able to go outside. Before that, he wouldn't have even thought about it. He strode around London - even Europe - without a care in the world. Well, only a few. He presses his nose up against the glass and longs for change. His head hurts.
The road slips past at an alarming rate, but he cannot stop looking, his breath condensing on the glass, nose snub against it. It is the closest he has been to freedom in a long time.
He would never dare try to pull at the door handle, though, and he is firmly strapped into his seat anyway, so he keeps his eyes fixed on the cars that pass by, blearily noting number plates, enjoying watching the hills roll away into the distance. It's a relief after months. Years. Yes, years. Of nothing, of the same, of barely being allowed to see outside of just one house.
The dress is hot and sticky, heavy velvet pooling around his thighs, thick tights flush against his skin. It's so hot. He just wants to strip everything off, to get rid of the clothes that Daddy so adores, but he knows that this will never happen.
'Sit back,' Daddy says from the front seat, and he does so, the tightness of the seatbelt against his chest confirming his confinement. 'Just a few more hours, and we'll be there.'
He settles. What else is there to do?
Lestrade’s flat is situated in a quiet corner of North London, a few roads away from Brondesbury Park. On the day that Sherlock finally coaxes himself out of the front door, it is quiet, half-twilight still. Lestrade, awoken by the peculiarity of not being awoken by the nightly dreams that torment his friend, panics momentarily when he finds the bed bare, sheets thrown back against the mattress.
He realises his panic is premature when he hears a click from outside, the squeak of the communal door, and, leaning out, sees a lithe figure step warily onto the grass, dressing gown dragging in the morning dew. He watches for a little while, wanting to give him space to settle.
When he does eventually venture down, he finds Sherlock sitting on the front wall by the flats, looking out into nothingness, his mind clearly somewhere else.
The electronic meter clicks in its casing nearby. Everything else is quiet. I’m fine, Sherlock tells himself, pressing his palms against the wall to stop the shiver desperate to run through his body. Fine. I will be. I’m trying. Come on, control it. Control yourself.
He hears the front door creak open, the heavy lock click back into place as Greg – for who else would it be – closes it carefully behind him.
‘I’m fine,’ he says, turning his head slightly, watching intently as he walks towards him. ‘You don’t need to be here. I’m fine.’
‘Okay,’ Lestrade says, a sudden gust of wind forcing a shudder from his body, arms wrapping tight around his chest. ‘I’ll just stay, for a bit, if you don’t mind.’
They stay like that for a good ten minutes, one hovering at a respectful distance, brow furrowed, the other silent, still, eyes half-closed.
‘Not really, of course,’ Sherlock eventually says, looking up, a slight smile on his face. ‘Not really okay. You know that. But I’m trying.’
Lestrade exhales slowly, rocking back on his heels, listening, not caring how cold he is becoming.
‘I forgot what this was like,’ Sherlock eventually says, smoothing his hands over the bricks, his voice husky, feeling a touch dehydrated. ‘What being alone was like. Really alone. And free. To sit here. You know? It’s – odd. Stupid. I thought I had succumbed completely. Rescue… futile. Yet here we are. I am. You and I. Alive. Perhaps one of us is a little mentally disturbed. But. Here, nonetheless.’
‘I used to be able to do anything. I had this brain, this magnificent brain. Could solve a case in a minute, make sense of things so easily. But I was arrogant, too. Foolish. Weak. Trusted the wrong person. Never thought about what could happen to me, why building relationships is a good idea. And look what happened.’
‘It’s not your fault,’ Lestrade says, frowning slightly. ‘And you still have everything you had before. Christ, look at what you’re doing right now, look at what you just said. You’re trying. You’re talking, you’re alone, outside, free. I bet you that bastard never expected any of that – he probably thought he’d broken you for good. Look at yourself. You’re strong. He’s the weak one.’
Sherlock isn’t sure he believes that. But later, when he’s back in bed, he thinks about the trial, and for the first time, he doesn’t feel pure, abject terror. And that has to be a good thing.
It’s the evening before the trial. Five more weeks have passed, and although Sherlock’s demeanour is still nowhere near what it was, breaking the barrier of stepping outside has done wonders for his confidence, Lestrade thinks, watching his friend amble slowly through the grass, talking quietly, back straight, coat flapping in the wind. If you didn’t know what he’d been through, he thinks, you wouldn’t have a clue there was anything wrong, not tonight, at any rate.
He looks out over the reservoir for a moment, allowing Sherlock and Mycroft to move on ahead of him. All is quiet. He hopes that tomorrow will not change everything for Sherlock, will not send him back to the unpleasant place he has been in mentally for so long.
Even now – perhaps not at this moment, when all is well – but most of the time, there is a tenseness to Sherlock's frame, a submissive bent to his body language. He doesn’t think he realises it - it’s become almost his natural state.
‘You mustn’t feel that you are alone at all, you know,’ Mycroft says, looking over at his brother as they wander close to the water. ‘You have a lot of support, and a lot of safety catches. Neither of those men will ever come near you again.’
Sherlock exhales deeply, lifting his left hand to swipe his hair back, not wholly convinced of that.
‘I don’t know,’ he says. ‘Two weeks ago I couldn’t have even contemplated leaving Greg’s front garden without a severe panic attack coming on. I still can’t go anywhere without one of you around. I can’t see how I can possibly cope with the next step. With. Seeing him again. That part of me. The strong bit. It’s not there, not any more.’
It’s not true, Lestrade thinks, looking at Sherlock’s back, watching as it hunches ever so slightly. It’s all still there. Beaten down, battered and bruised, but still there.
Sometimes, in the lull between bed and sleep, he finds himself wondering why Lestrade does this. Why he lets him stay in his house, no word of complaint, why he holds him still every panic-stricken night, talks to him in soft phrases, reassures and supports him. He knows he would never have been able to do this for someone else, not before. Not now.
He is aware, and hopes Lestrade realises he is, of the tremendous toll it must be taking on the policeman. His mind is still fractured, confusing, often terrifying, but he finds himself more and more able to think back to how things were before all of this, and he remembers how busy Lestrade was – must be still – and how much energy and effort it must take to cope with him, to come home from long, stressful days to. To him. A whimpering, shivering, desperate wreck of a man.
It has taken the best part of a year, and whilst he is still prone to spiralling out of control, it happens less and less. He has begun to feel settled, human, adult again, and to trust, a feeling he never thought he'd experience again. Lestrade. Greg.
He does not sleep well, waking numerous times throughout the night. In the morning, he feels frazzled, exhausted, nervous, images of the last few years running through his mind like a sick, filthy slideshow.
'I don't think I can do this,' he says after breakfast, standing by the window and gripping the back of the sofa, his body trembling a little with the knowledge of what the day will hold. 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, Greg, I just. I just – can't. All those people. Building. Feel encased. I can't. And he'll be there. I can't.'
Lestrade places his cereal bowl on the coffee table, staring evenly at him, folding his arms over his chest.
'I don't believe you,' he says, and Sherlock twitches. 'I won't push you into going, you know that, but I think you're more than capable of handling it now. You don't even have to do anything today, anyway. They probably won't call you for a while yet. I'll be there, won't I, and so will Andy. We won't let him near you. That'll help, won't it?'
Sherlock swallows thickly, thoughts of John touching him and holding him coming unbidden to his mind, making him squirm with displeasure.
'I – suppose,' he says. The broad smile on Greg's face as he strides over, squeezing Sherlock's shoulders in response, is enough to drive the images from his mind. For now.
‘Will you come?’ Lestrade asks, and he pauses, protracts, nods, a smile sparking almost as soon as the policeman is gone. Of course I’ll bloody come, he thinks, staring after him, fingers lacing behind his back, muscles crackling as he readies for the night ahead. Oh, how he loves this, the chase, the game, the thrill of the start.
‘I need your help,’ Lestrade says, and he walks through the door, frowns at the sight below, fingers tapping against the doorframe. Lestrade always needs his help. He glances back at Anderson, who stands with folded arms, glaring at him, as always. ‘I’ll give you five minutes.’
This one is unusual, he realises, brain clicking into gear, the dirt beneath the man’s nails, the tiny trickle of blood from his lower lip, the dyed hair. It’s not the same, it’s not part of the chain. He tells Lestrade, and Lestrade snaps into focus, believing everything that Sherlock says, despite his own concerns. He knows that when it comes to this part of the process, Sherlock is very rarely wrong.
‘Happy new year,’ Sherlock says, gazing out of the window at the endless rain, clinking his glass against Lestrade’s. It’s been a long night, and both of them expect the other wishes he were elsewhere, but they’ll make the best of it. And so they get drunk together in the corner of a tiny glass-fronted bar somewhere near Bayswater. He might have been tremendously drunk at the time, but he knows he can find it again, if need be.
Lestrade places a hand on his shoulder, gesturing him in, and suddenly everything is black and dank. It takes his eyes a moment to adjust to the dimness inside, but he soon realises what a rabbit warren this place is. ‘We think they were holed up here for a while,’ he suggests, and Sherlock grins at him. Oh, he is learning. He loves working with Lestrade. Though he’d never admit it. Not out loud.
The last thought in his mind, before he steps off the roof, is, peculiarly, not of John, but of Lestrade, standing in front of him, hands in his pockets, laughing. Just laughing. It sticks with him through those terrible few seconds. For a long time afterwards, too.
‘That wasn’t so bad, was it?’ Lestrade says, dropping his hands onto Sherlock’s shoulders as he sits in the kitchen, head buried in his arms. If anyone else tried this, he’s sure he would jump out of his skin, lose control, but from Greg, who has begun to massage the stiffness out of his limbs, it is, instead, strangely soothing. Makes him feel. Happy. ‘Went pretty quickly, really.’
‘I know you’re easing me in, Greg,’ he murmurs, the words barely audible. ‘I’m not stupid. I know it will get harder. Much harder.’
Lestrade stops for a second, thumbs rubbing slowly over the back of Sherlock’s neck, plucking the tension away with each movement. God, that’s. Nice.
‘It will, course it will. And I am, you knew that already. But this is it, this is how it works. Play the game, Sherlock. We’ll put him away. You’ll put him away.’
There’s a warm feeling in his chest. Breathing is suddenly easier. The truth will out.
John has pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Of course he has. So they must try him. Of course they must.
He is completely aware of the expectation that he will not be able to cope with this. Not least from his own mind. Each morning he has to attend the court is an effort, from stepping outside the front door to getting in Mycroft’s car, and arriving at the court is the pinnacle of an already difficult morning.
His evidence is the main factor in determining John’s guilt, so he must be questioned. Five years is a long time. It takes an age to talk through. His voice quivers as he tells them of his kidnap, wavers as he explains, slowly and fitfully, what John did to him, wanted him to be, made him into.
He cannot see John, the screens around the witness box preventing it, but he can almost smell the pity emanating from the jury.
At these times, the urge to slip his thumb into his mouth is almost unconquerable.
He has spent so much time solely with Lestrade, Mycroft and the few who have supported him mentally and physically through the long – and ongoing - recovery period, that seeing anyone else feels completely terrifying. Even sitting in traffic verges on traumatic, memories of the transport north popping into his mind unbidden, having to be forcibly suppressed before he can respond to Mycroft’s concerned query.
But there is so much more control than there used to be, and he finds that as the days wear on, whether he is at court or not, he is more and more capable of discarding the unwanted memories, at least until the night, when he is alone and can bury his head in his pillow, allowing the shiver to take over his body for a few minutes.
During the day, then, he must utilise what he has regained, put a façade of normality on when things are more difficult, and make sure he is not the weak link in this event, which has taken so long to bring to fruition.
Mycroft is terribly clever, he knows, and so is Greg, in a different way. They have made sure an injunction has been granted on the trial, to withhold names, everything. It cannot be reported on. Maybe in the future, but he hopes not, for his own reputation, his own psychological state. So whenever they arrive at the court, there are no reporters, no nasty questions, no embarrassment. Not until they walk into the room, see the clerks, and his stomach roils with fear of what is to come.
He finds himself desperate to deduce what the jury are thinking, but knows he must not, for his own sake.
He sits quietly in the waiting area, suit soft against his skin, his head bowed slightly.
He promises himself he will get through this, he will see justice done. He must not give in, must not lose his composure. He is a man. He is not John’s property. But sometimes, though he never tells Greg or his brother, he thinks it would be easier just to walk over to John, to drop onto all fours and say please, please, I’m so sorry, I’m yours, take me back, please. Daddy.
His mind twists, and all he wants is to crawl over to him, be lifted up, rocked on his lap, feel his fingers plunge inside of him, hear his voice say how well-behaved he is. His brain snaps back, and he feels the urge to vomit, but he does not. He just sits there, staring at his fingers, like a good girl.
The man’s arm holds him close, breath hot against his neck. His dress is rumpled, pulled up against his skin, and all too soon he feels a rough hand against his hip, sliding lower, squeezing at his buttocks. Soon, then, he whimpers and arches, pushing back like a good girl, the expression on the other men’s faces enough to make him fearful of what is about to happen to him.
Do what the nice men want, Daddy says, his expression stern, standing a little way back. You know what happens to naughty little girls.
He squirms, but he cannot move. He is impaled. Daddy tells him to suck, so he does, slurping ever so slowly at the man’s thick, hard penis. He tries not to think about the painful feeling that rises in his bottom with each thrust, concentrating on doing the best job he can for Daddy, even though his body feels like it might break at any point.
Later, Daddy tugs his knickers and his nice white tights back up, uncaring of how wet and sticky they are. Another man lifts him up onto his lap, playing with the ribbons that tumble from his hair, bouncing him gently until he whimpers into his thumb.
This is insane, one of them says. But incredible. Just look what you’ve done to him. Incredible.
Somewhere deep within his psyche, a part of John screams for mercy.
Certainly, when this had all begun, he had no idea it would come to this, but the combination of James Moriarty, of the confusions wrought upon his mind by Sherlock’s actions, of his already faintly unstable mental state and, of course, the drugs, had sent him down a path along which there are few opportunities to return. At the time, he hadn’t wanted to. Not a jot.
To begin with, he was just angry at Sherlock. Depressed. Furious. Missing him terribly. Wanting him back in his life. And then James came, and at first he just wanted to get him away – the man who caused this whole situation – and rage boiled within his belly. But the incessant nature of the attention, and the clever, manipulative ways of the Irishman had eventually had the desired effect. He let him in. And thus his mindset began to change.
Try this, James had said one night, sitting close to him in the pub, slipping him a pill, and suddenly not caring any more about health, about responsibility, he had. And oh, it felt wonderful. More. More. More.
Try some more, he had said, try a variety, and John had acquiesced more easily than he had ever thought he would, the depression sliding away with each capsule, each slip of the needle, knowing all the while that each acceptance was also a loss, in some way. Of who he was. What he was. What he needed to remain, to survive. Try this, said James, and oh, the burning, joyful righteousness it created within him was exquisite.
I know where he is, James had said, one hazy, sparkling night, past the point of no return, his fingers tapping against the marble of the kitchen work surfaces, watching as John examined his hand as if it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen, eyes slightly out of focus, heart skipping a beat at the words.
I know what I think you should do about it. Tell him he can’t walk away from you again. Show him he can’t. Make sure he can’t. Show him who’s in control. Control him. Yes, John had said, his head fizzing, images flashing into his mind. Ideas that were once a joke, but now seemed possible.
In the cold, grim light of the inevitable comedown after, it hadn’t seemed like such a good idea, but once sparked, the idea remained, and without even realising it, John’s slide had begun.
So when Sherlock was returned to him, bruised and battered and not so amenable, the house gifted to him, the lessons needing to be learnt, it wasn’t hard.
It’s just now, lying in his prison cell, hand in his boxer shorts, squeezing at his cock, that a slight part of him whimpers and cries out for salvation from this sickness.
Too late, he knows, his body throbbing with anguish and arousal. Too late.
'I want a case,” he tells Lestrade one October morning, fingers clenched tight around the half-cold coffee he has been too tense to drink. “Get me on a case.'
Lestrade, predictably, is surprised. You shouldn’t be, Sherlock thinks, watching his expression change, you should know me well enough to know that if I’m feeling better, I will want to be working again.
'You said I could get back to what I was. Who I was.'
'Yeah,' Lestrade says, trying not to panic about the idea, 'and you are. But don’t you think it’s a bit soon? With the case going on, and all of that? And where you’re at with everything?'
Sherlock looks down, trying to steady his nerves. You knew he would say that. Breathe.
'Yes. Maybe. But I need something to take my mind off it,' he says, finally steeling himself to meet Lestrade’s eyes. 'I’ll never move on if all I do is sit around in here, trying to stop myself from thinking about – it. His. You. You-“
A warm hand slides across his upper back, and suddenly the stutter in his brain is gone. He leans back slightly.
“Okay. Okay, I get it. I’ll look into it. But you’ve got to take it easy.”
He’s not an idiot. He still can’t leave the house alone. There won’t be any rushing around London. Not yet.
Sherlock allows him an unprecedented amount of access. He is very, very aware of this. Especially now, kneeling over him, hands firm against his skin, massaging the stress and the fear out of the detective, fingers worrying away at his shoulder muscles until they begin to unlock and Sherlock pants out in relief, his toes twitching ever so slightly.
'When this is all over,” Lestrade says, rubbing at the base of Sherlock’s neck, the wax smoothing the way, 'I think you need a nice countryside spa break or something.'
Sherlock smothers a laugh, glancing up at Lestrade, letting him see that he is amused, not startled.
'If anyone else tried to touch me like this,' he says, grinning drowsily, 'I think I’d have a panic attack. Even before, I didn't like being touched very much. But the idea is… interesting.”
He settles back down. Lestrade wants to hug him. He can't. Won't. But he wants to, nonetheless.
He lies on his back, legs spread, thick, rough hands holding his thighs. He tries to call out for help, but cloth fills his mouth, and all that comes out is a tiny whimper.
'Behave,' Daddy says, crouching next to him, gesturing to the man, who thrusts into him. It isn't painful, he's been through this enough times, but he'll never get used to the feeling of being filled like this, no matter how many times it happens.
He gulps in air, but still he feels frozen, cannot move. Daddy kneels over him, fingers prodding at his mouth, cracking his jaw open, readying him for the next step.
The smell of freshly cut grass wafts in through the open window, and his stomach lurches. Sick, sick, sick.
Lestrade is there when he comes to, fingers stuffed into his mouth, sheets twisted around his body, John's name on his lips. It's okay, he says, over and over. The spiral is halted.
It’s one of those endlessly hot days, when nothing moves and the wind doesn’t even stir. He sits in the high grass, dressed in light grey linen trousers and a thin white shirt. The latter is Sherlock’s, the first Lestrade's. You can’t wear those, Greg had said that morning, glancing up from his laptop, and for a moment Sherlock had stiffened, seeing it as a command, fingers clutching at the dark denim in his hand before his brain had clicked into action, pushing the fear away.
‘So what exactly do you suggest I wear, Inspector?’ he had replied, forcing out clipped tones to disguise the nerviness rattling through his body.
‘Something that won’t suffocate your dick, Sherlock?’
He had matched Greg's smirk, though his had been only half-real, but, forced to admit that, sadly, he didn't own anything quite like that, Lestrade had teased him a little more, before eventually offering to lend him a spare pair.
And so they are here, on the back of the Heath, looking distressingly similar. The trousers are a bit too big but very comfortable. Not that anyone can see where they are, in this little haven of a spot, staring down towards London. It’s why Greg had suggested it. Sherlock is grateful for that.
He nods, taking the bottle from Greg’s outstretched hand, sucking down a good mouthful of it. He lies back in the grass a few moments later, gazing up at the clear blue sky, exhaling slowly as his mind clears and his body relaxes.
Crickets chirp somewhere close by. A bicycle bell clinks a few moments later, and a kestrel circles overhead, riding the breeze. He forgets, for one blessed moment, eyes closing, the knowledge of Greg’s proximity enough to let him doze in peace.
He feels safe.
Moriarty wishes it wasn't quite so hot this summer, but, on the whole, he still feels tremendously relaxed about the whole thing. He had wanted a bit of a break from his responsibilities, and this whole situation had come about at just the right time. Not that he’s been able to delegate everything out, of course, but it’s been nice to hand off some of the workload for a while, to run things in a more… directorial fashion.
He had enjoyed having his enemy subjugated, willing, broken, but this is fine too. All's well that ends well, after all. And it's not ending too badly for him, so far.
John, on the other hand... He knows that the trial is being kept very quiet indeed thanks to that irritating brother of Sherlock's, that it won’t be on the news or any of that nonsense. But he has his sources, and he knows exactly what is happening with John.
Not to Sherlock, though. He has gone very quiet. Not that he really cares - he’s done what he needed to do - Sherlock Holmes is no longer a capable opponent. He knows that whatever he has managed to accomplish in terms of rehabilitation, he will never be the same. He is ruined. Forever.
Seeing a psychologist feels ridiculous, somehow. Sherlock Holmes, the great deducer, the man who can analyse anything. Being analysed. Prior to all of this, he thinks he would have been terribly scathing about the idea. But he supposes his brain isn’t quite what it was. Not that it’s changed in itself, exactly, but he is certainly. Shattered. That’s the best way of describing it. Like a broken jug. Repairable. Just. Complicated.
It does help, though it takes a long time for him to be able to talk about any of it. To open himself up to the same scrutiny he previously visited on his clients. He has only spoken with Lestrade up until this point, and has been all too aware of the burden it places on his too-good friend.
Which is why he suggests it, one night, thumb hovering close to his mouth as he waits for Lestrade's response. The look of surprise mingled with momentary relief is the response he had expected, if not necessarily wanted. But the quick hug that comes after is. Warm. Welcome. Loving. Needed.
Lestrade watches Sherlock sleep, thrilling to the sight of him so relaxed, so loose, so calm. He leans back, picking up the book that he had discarded an hour or so earlier, trying not to think about the trial, about the upcoming week. They're so close. So very close. Keep your cool.
‘What do you want?’
He arches a little, fingers rubbing at his scalp, pressing through coarse grey-black hair. There’s warmth against his side, an arm drapes over his hip and he exhales slowly, curling into the body next to him.
The massage continues, and, clinging on, he begins to unwind, begins to let himself go. Finally. Finally. It feels like he has years of exhaustion to work through, months of relentless effort, focus and pain, stress like he’s never experienced before, desperation that he didn’t know would appear in his psyche. He’s so tired.
‘What do you want?’ Sherlock murmurs, lips pressing against his neck, palm hot against his back. ‘What do you want, Inspector? What do you need? A hug? A kiss? Sex? Me?’
He wants to groan a yes, a please, to squeeze his thighs together and come there and then, to show how much he needs him, but Sherlock’s body is firm against his, his cock is soft against his hip and so he tries to relax, to think of other things.
He wonders what the trial’s conclusion was.
He wakes with a start. No alarm. That’s unusual. When he glances over from the bed to the table, he can see that it is long past his normal hour, that he has overslept rather dramatically. He presses himself out of bed with an intense effort. It’s getting harder to get up every day, the workload and the long evenings keeping him in a permanent state of almost-delirium. He is grateful that the trial will be over soon. But then. Then. He tries not to think about it.
The trial. Today. Oh. The dream.
He flushes for a second, sliding his hand over his cock in a vain attempt to undo the erection that has decided to arrive, unwanted and untimely.
It takes him a good forty minutes to shower, dry off and dress for the day. Another half an hour to rouse a sleeping Sherlock, whose placid demeanour in sleep is now at least superficially reflected by the efforts and progress he has made over the months he has been here, in his flat, healing and recovering.
He did not have a nightmare last night. That, in itself, is pretty unusual. Perhaps Sherlock’s subconscious knows what today is, and is determined to help him through it as best it can.
‘Come on,’ he says gruffly, clasping Sherlock’s shoulder gently, watching as he shifts under the sheets, his long body twisting to one side, his smooth jaw jutting forward as he stretches out in his doziness. ‘Time to get up.’
When his eyes finally blink open, they do not look fearful. Just. Tired. Lestrade knows exactly how he feels.
It all feels like somewhat of an anti-climax. He’s not quite sure what he expected – not fire and brimstone, exactly, but, with the combination of therapy and friendship helping him understand and remember just what had been visited upon him, he finds himself wanting similar retribution from the courts, even though he knows this is not the way these things work. An eye for an eye sounds nice in principle, but in practice he knows it would leave him guilt-ridden for the rest of his life. A rape for a rape. Torture upon torture. Indignities beyond reason. Terrifying, nauseating humiliation. Reprogramming.
He swallows thickly, knowing how lucky he is to have regained what he has.
Suffer, he thinks, staring at John that final day, waiting for him to make eye contact. The words ring in his ears. Guilty. Psychotic. Vicious. Cruel. He’s not sure how he’d cope if John looked him in the eye at this point. But he almost wants him to. He needs to move on. Needs this to finish. Six years. Too many years. Wasted time.
He feels icy, heavy, lost. Until Greg, standing close by, catches his gaze, gives him a tiny little nod, and suddenly he releases the breath he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding.
Greg, he thinks, watching him shift on the spot, hands in his pockets. At one time he had thought that was some sort of pseudonym, hadn’t even bothered to find out his name. That would have been an easy task. But he had been lazy, arrogant, hadn’t really cared, had seen him as some sort of extension of Mycroft. Mycroft, whom he had so detested.
They are different people to him now.
When John is sentenced, he finally looks up, staring across at Sherlock, not speaking, just staring. He blinks once, twice, the whites of his eyes traced with red, dark patches staining the skin beneath. He does not speak, but Sherlock shudders and stills at the sight of him, hands locking behind his back to stop his brain sinking into infancy, body stretching tall and straight as the judge speaks of treatment and trauma, recovery and loss.
Lestrade watches both, waiting to see who achieves supremacy, unable to do anything at all, his body stiff with concern.
He cannot stand power games.
He dreams of being fingered. His legs spread and his arms twist and he groans softly as his body starts to throb. He arches up in the air as the air is pushed out of his lungs, arm firm around his waist, fingers stroking over his stomach, making his cock lurch with desperate need. He groans, pushing back into the body behind him, so close, so very close.
Teeth nip against the skin of his neck, plucking gently at the exposed flesh, and for a moment, he cannot breathe, and then he’s coming, no warning, no nothing, spurting into the hand that now twists around his cock, the double stimulation too much for him to take, the fingers sitting comfortably inside of him.
Kisses litter his back, and he is cuddled, tight and loving and wonderful, but no words are exchanged. Oh. This is new.
He stutters awake to the feel of a cold bed, a waning erection and wet sheets. For anyone else he suspects it would be an annoyance, but glee rises through his body. An erection. An actual, real, swelling erection. He looks down at himself, slowly bringing his hand onto his thigh, working up the nerve to touch the wetness, pushing down the worry about the consequences of this happening. He won't be punished for this. He has to keep reminding himself of that fact. It’s still not easy, even though It’s been six months since John’s conviction. It’s taken that long to create a more constant state of calm, to start to live life again. And this, this. This is the first erection he’s achieved. Admittedly, he still hasn’t managed one intentionally - while awake - but this is huge progress, he thinks.
He had made the decision not to talk to Greg about this early on in their friendship, at least to begin with. He hadn't thought people would be interested in that element of his life. But when they leave the flat, head as close into town as Sherlock can manage that day, and Greg’s hand rests on his knee, reassuring and strong, he wonders if he might have the wrong idea about the policeman. He watches Greg on these trips, analyses his body language.
‘I have come to the conclusion,’ he says one night, as he watches Greg work through a huge pile of paperwork, ‘that I should talk to you about something I’ve been struggling with for a while.’
Greg looks up, tired but expectant.
‘I have. Talked to the psychologist. About this,’ he says, already regretting it as the words become harder to articulate. ‘But I wanted you to know. I think. You might. You know.’
Greg looks confused, but he puts his pen down, sliding the laptop lid down. Suddenly, Sherlock wishes he had a stiff drink to hand. Not that he’s had one of those in a very long time.
‘D-John didn’t allow me to get an erection,’ he says slowly, choosing his words carefully. ‘Whatever he did to me, he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t react to it, that even though he sexualised me as much as possible, I didn’t sexualise it myself, I suppose. So he – hurt me. Made sure I wouldn’t react to all the things he forced on me. It’s been more than five years since I last successfully managed to do that.’
It looks very much like Greg had some inkling of this already, Sherlock thinks, a cursory glance at the detective telling him everything he needs to know about his thoughts and responses.
‘You have been so ridiculously supportive,’ he says, reaching out a little, placing his palm against Lestrade’s knee, ‘I just wanted to. You know. Be honest about things. To you. You deserve a better friend than the emotional wreck I have become.’
They sit together companionably for the next hour, Greg’s work forgotten. Sometimes, when this happens, when they are together, Sherlock thinks he may need nothing else. Just Greg, as close as possible, as much as possible. Stay for as long as you need, he had said. He doesn’t know how he’d function without him, not any more.
When the others are sentenced, when the man and the woman are locked away for years on end - though not as many as John, whose issues are far more complex than simply working as accessories to crimes – it is as if something loosens within Sherlock.
He seems so much happier, Lestrade thinks, watching him stride through Kilburn High Street one spring afternoon, phone in hand, coat flapping around in the breeze. He has regained some of, if not all, of his confidence. Perhaps he will never quite manage it. But he suspects he’ll die trying.
Rain clatters against the window – the sky is dark, the trees bend slightly in the breeze and there’s a distinct scent of chili coming from the kitchen, whose windows are terribly fogged up. Lestrade exhales out before carrying on with his clearance, determined to make the flat look presentable before he has anyone new round – especially at this time of the year.
Sherlock is distracted, his arms folded as he stares out of the window. Lestrade suspects he is recalling a not so pleasant memory. He steps over, running his hand down Sherlock’s back, watching in wonder as Sherlock wriggles, making a tiny noise of contentment at the touch, leaning back into it. A year ago, he would have flinched and shouted out. Perhaps he still would, but beggars can’t be choosers.
‘People coming over tonight,’ he murmurs, squeezing Sherlock’s arm. ‘Still okay with that?'
Sherlock nods, mouth set in a firm line. Lestrade is one thing. Anyone else is another.
Every now and again, when he is bleary and half-awake, having slept late or having imbibed too much the night before, he looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognise the face he sees there. He slides, brain suddenly knowing that his hair should be longer, dragged and separated and bound, his lips coated in gloss, mouth full of something, anything, body swathed in silk and satin. But instead his skin is bare, mouth empty, hair shorn and eyes – something undefinable. The slips startle him – he never expects them, they come out of the blue and are, he finds, a touch frightening. They encroach on his clothes and his routine, leaving him shaky and unsettled.
To begin with, someone is around to talk to when these things happen, but as normal life resumes after the trial, he presses an anxious Lestrade into not worrying about him quite so much, watching him return to a normal routine. He does not argue as the support worker’s visits decrease in frequency, although he still sees the therapist regularly. Even that is not an easy encounter. He struggles to talk, to explain, fumbling for words, frequently parched, always stiff and tense at these times, sometimes drowning in upset and remembered trauma. He doesn’t know how else to be, any more.
The first time he sees Molly again it is as if a warm flush fills his entire body and then sinks away just as fast as it came. She looks at him with limpid, trusting eyes, her small body tight with fear as he approaches her seat – she still thinks he is the person he was before, he realises. But he is looser now, in some ways. And he always appreciated her, he says, later, when they sit together in a quiet coffee shop, alone and unobserved, he with coffee, she with tea. What happened to you, she asks, where did you go?
He realises that this meeting, facilitated by Lestrade, is exactly what it is – Lestrade has left it completely up to him to reveal as much or as little as he would like. A dangerous ploy, he thinks, fingers plucking at the remnants of Molly’s chocolate muffin, but very Lestrade. And, although it forces him to confront his history all over again, he thinks, appreciated. He had said he wanted more control over his own life, to try and ease back into normalcy. And though Lestrade had had to accompany him here before shooting off to work – a severe case of the jitters necessitating this – he had sat on his own for a good fifteen minutes before she had turned up. And nothing had happened, no kidnapping had occurred, no commands had been given, no one had died. It had felt. Good.
He tells her a version of the truth – kidnapping and torture, but not at the hands of whom. He saves the truth for another time and another place, not giving all the details but just enough for her to understand the reason he flinches at accidental touches, why being in any public place makes him shudder, even if he is comfortable and happy. Baby steps. But he wants to tell her, wants to explain, that first time. She is too good, trusting and loving to reveal his secrets, however horrific, he knows, his mind flicking back to the doll, knowing why he drowsily named it what he did.
Sometimes, when all is quiet and he is alone with his own thoughts, he wishes for it. Something to hold. Someone to listen. He expects the police have it in an evidence room somewhere. But that takes him back to John again, to his games and his actions. A girl, he thinks, tugging at a strand of his hair. A girl. Why me? He does not think he will ever quite know the answer.
He reaches up to his scalp, imagining the presence of a barrette in his soft curls, suddenly feeling the soft shimmer of the knickers John favoured skimming along his thigh. He reaches his hand up, sliding his thumb into his mouth, and sits there for a moment, before he jerks out of the moment, ripping his finger from his lips, letting out a hiss of anger and frustration. What has John done to his mind?
Mrs Hudson reacts much as Molly did, with ecstatic pleasure at his continued existence, a thousand questions tripping over her tongue, and with a hug that, even in his nervous state, Sherlock cannot refuse. It is Mrs Hudson, he reasons, allowing her to hold him, leaning back into it just a touch, his arms hanging loosely around her body. He has missed her dreadfully. But he does not think he can ever return to 221B. Not that the rooms are his, now.
All that remains is in his room at Lestrade’s, in the boxes that still hold remnants of his past, in the clothes that Mycroft brought to him all those months ago.
‘You feel cold, dear,’ Mrs Hudson says, kissing his cheek. He blinks, looking down at her, drawing his arms back around his body, shifting his weight, hoping that this encounter will draw to a close soon.
He misses Greg.
Mycroft picks him up, takes him for dinner at a favourite haunt. It is quiet and discreet, and they eat in silence. Sherlock eats little. He never has been one for large portions, but his appetite has certainly never been quite the same since his imprisonment. He smiles at Sherlock as he orders dessert, pressing his fingers against the table to suppress the small tremor that runs through him from the effort of controlling his nerves. But it works, and the man goes away, returning five minutes later with sorbet and sticky, sweet cake.
‘Leaps and bounds, Sherlock,’ he says, knocking his glass gently against Sherlock’s. ‘Didn’t I tell you?’
Sherlock nods, sipping the glass of wine favoured by his brother. He has exhausted his vocabulary for the day.
There is a warmth in his belly each time he sees Greg walk through the door, each time he slides down next to him on the sofa, his soft jumper rubbing against his wrists as he presses close to him, giving the only hug that Sherlock will return or tolerate for more than a few moments.
It is more than he could ever have hoped for. More than he had ever experienced before. But it feels right, and so he accepts it, uses it, holds onto the burn of emotions that wash through him each day.
‘Has anyone ever told you that the shade of 'cauliflower' doesn't suit you, Lestrade?’ he says, the jibe making Greg laugh and turn to face him, ever so slightly insulted.
He grows in confidence.
He stands on the bridge, watching the trains judder past, turning his face up to the rain that drips steadily from the sky. It is early November, dark early, and the first time he has felt confident enough to truly stride the streets alone, to stay out for more than a few minutes by himself. He presses his toe against the wall, leaning forward to watch the next one pass, and suddenly something sparks in his brain, and he just knows. The Laverstock case. He turns on his heel, picking up speed as he heads towards the train station, all negative thoughts forgotten. For now.
When they host Mycroft, Molly and his support worker for dinner one night, he finds that he is capable of getting through it without too much effort, that, after a while, he is able to compartmentalise in a way he hasn’t been able to previously. They eat and talk - well, the others talk - and he interjects only occasionally, though when he does speak, he finds himself able to analyse and even make one or two faintly withering remarks.
Watching them eat and chatter, sitting at the table in the thin grey shirt and black trousers that he favours, able to use his fork and knife like any normal human being, he can almost forget. Almost.
‘Was that okay?’ Lestrade asks as they stand near in the kitchen after everyone has gone, gruff voice low against Sherlock’s ear as they load the dishwasher, soft tones of late night talk shows washing over them from the radio nearby. 'You didn't feel overwhelmed?'
Sherlock shakes his head, knuckle nudging against Lestrade’s hip. Something clicks in his brain, and suddenly he lets his index finger slide over Lestrade’s belt, gently tugging at it until it pops out just a touch, brown leather creasing as it is pulled away from his body. This is not the reaction of a victim, he tells himself, trying to transmit the thoughts to Lestrade with just a glance, trying to explain without having to vocalise it. I am doing this for myself. Not for anyone else.
Funny, he thinks, I used to be so good at talking out loud. Not so much, not now.
Lestrade looks at him, and suddenly Sherlock feels as if he is being rent in two, that Lestrade must be able to see down to the core of his soul, must know everything about it. Must. Be his.
He touches the back of his hand to Lestrade’s waist, a small smirk coming over his face as the detective jumps slightly at the motion, twisting his body towards him. He cannot give anything else, but it is enough. A start. He is in no hurry.
Yes, he thinks, hunger and love and excitement rising in his chest as Lestrade's fingers curl over his own, hoping for one uninterrupted evening with no slips, no shudders, no stiffening. I survive.