The governments of the world were held together by a fragile thread.
Nobody knew this better than Mycroft Holmes.
After The Pulse, came The Collapse. He should have expected it, that the people would blame the government for their trouble, the lack of technology, the money rendered nearly worthless, their cities burned by radicals, sometimes themselves.
There was the day he knew his assets would be seized, and any transfer would have been considered suspicious. They were all being watched, even the 'minor' official that he was. He did at least have the clarity to have all the accounts in his name, and he hoped his brother was just as wise.
He burns all of his records in the fireplace, even though most of them are useless now.
Along with his mobile. The fire burns brighter and spreads, taking with it the family heirlooms. Things, material things, that will never be replaced.
Sentiment, Sherlock would have said.
He leaned on his brolly, walking out of the mansion for what he believed was the last time.
They'd burn it within the week out of spite, and somehow it felt better if he was rid of things himself.
He'd save them the trouble, turn himself in. Sherlock would never forgive him if he ended up dead. They could have the assets, they could have everything - if only they would not go after his brother, Sherlock. As long as Sherlock stayed free.
Play his cards right, hopefully they would be kind to him. Mycroft could not be more wrong.
Someone in one of the trucks from those that call themselves The Resistance see the expensive suit he's wearing and bother to pick him up. The Prime Minister had already had as public an execution as possible, and god knows what had happened to the Royals. He had cut off all communication.
He knows better than to fight them but he's roughed up anyway, simply because the commoners are angry and want someone to blame for their trouble.
The soft-spoken man with the three-piece is an easy target, though it's only a few punches and tearing at the brand-name suit.
It could be worse.
In fact it will get much worse, but just how badly, he has no idea.
Once his papers are stamped, he's ordered to remove the torn clothing that's left, his pocketwatch that Father gave to him, the brolly Sherlock bought him as a going-away present - and he's given a dark brown tunic to indicate his status. He has no collar yet, that is detirmined by whoever might purchase him. The slave laws are being written by those who the people have elected might suit them better.
But Mycroft knows people - if he knows anything at all. They'll rebel, turn against their leaders once their conditions have not changed.
He is branded, by a number he does not choose; transported to where he is not to know. Likely to be shipped off to the desert - where most of the refugees were headed, the cities were too much of a hotbed, the deteriorating power plants approaching dangerous levels of radiation.
Already the new slaves and their new masters alike were sickening - radiation poisoning. As he's bound and shipped off in the cargo hold of a plane with the others, though some of them have chosen this life to simply be fed, he has alot of time - time that is normally occupied with his Work, to think.
"He's getting you some water, Mummy, shall I..."
"He...can't S'all...alright. Don'-don't wan' h-him to see..."
"Alright, Mummy, shh. Try not to talk. Save your strength. " Don't die, Mother. Please don't die.
"Promise me...promise me one th-thing baby."
"Anything." I'll promise you the world. Get better please, even though I know it's hopeless. For me, mostly for Sherlock. He needs you. He's always needed you more than I ever did.
"You'll. You'll look af-after him. W-won't you? He n-needs s-somone My...croft. Dif...ferent. Al..ways ha...has been."
Her breathing becomes shallower, and he can feel - if not smell that the end is close now. Oh, Mummy...
"I promise, Mummy. I'll look after him, you'll see."
"You kn-know I-I support y-you if-if you want...the Ministry. But, not like y-your fa-father, you'll be...good at whatever you...do. My."
The blue eyes widen briefly as though seized by something and she turns to the door, a bright, peaceful smile on her face. Then there's a last shuddering breath, and she is gone. Mycroft doesn't know where he's going to begin with twelve-year-old Sherlock.
"Look, Mummy, I've brought your..."
Mycroft looks up to face his brother, watching as Sherlock drops the glass, eyes wide with shock, and it shatters into thousands of peices, sloshing water on the floor. Cold.
"Mummy, no! Don't you-you promised!"
And now, Mycroft has one of his own to keep.
He would keep that promise. Even if it cost him.
No begging to come rescue him. He wouldn't expect that. Sherlock didn't know. Probably wouldn't care even if he did know. Wouldn't be aware until it was too late and he was shipped off to wherever they were sending him. To whoever chose to purchase him.
It couldn't be good. Not for My - no he wasn't that anymore, was he? A number.
"You're numbers, now. Slaves. You have nothing, no career, no past, no family that bothers to want you - or, if you're so lucky, they've already been sold."
It's hot in the airport hanger. Sweat dribbles off the thirsty slaves, but they're not given water. Desert. As he'd thought. Kandahar? Oman? He doesn't think it matters now.
The woman who used to have fur coats and a pet cheetah is whimpering, shuddering. She won't last long.
The demand will either disappate as the slaves die from heat exhaustion or being overworked, or - they will simply find others willing to sell themselves for a roof and a meal.
They're crowded into a broad cage of some sort, barely sheltered from the heat.
He rubs the fresh mark on his arm, still inflamed. Still healing.
That is your name. You're a number, just a number. Nothing more. Nothing less.
His hand drops, the chains clinking around his wrists.
The others are crowded around the door, peering out. Afraid.
Someone begs for water.
He's afraid too, though he'd never admit it.
What wasn't fried in 'The Pulse', or what's considered to be worth something. Anything to trade.
It's rather hot today, considering the cities had been destroyed, abandoned, the survivors have now taken refuge in the desert, in the mountains.
He's not really looked at with appreciation. Middle-aged, not really suited for hard labor yet.
In not exactly ample conditions, so he looks far from his best.
Hadn't had 'proper food' since...probably since he'd first found himself in this predicament.
And he was thirsty... terribly thirsty.
He'd forgotten to focus on how dirty he felt. How alone.
He'd already calculated his injuries. Nothing major, really. Nothing that was life-threatening if left untreated.
Bruises would heal, cuts would scar over. Ribs would fuse. Scrapes would mend.
Where were they taking him?
The only thing he couldn't gather from any evidence.
Who would want a half-starved, middle-aged slave anyway? Would they be kind to him? Feed him occassionally?
His head bows as someone rattles the bars of their prison with a detached interest.
Would Sherlock be alright?
Oh please, Sherlock be alright. Stay away. Stay hidden.
"Hey, Slave. 1-8-9-3. Come over here."
Slave. No free will.
The word still tastes bitter in his mouth.
Owned. Not free.
Chapter 2: Two
Someone's banging against the cell.
Unlocking the door. "He's not really fit for manual labor. Not the right age. The right height." The tone is dark and low, unnerving.
Eyes scan him over, but he focuses on the scrape on his knee. It really looks worse than it feels. Trying to appear humble. That he is no threat. Sherlock has to stay free.
"You could use him for an example..." Upperclass. Another possible buyer. How did he escape? Probably sold his assets. A conniver then. Experimental. Probably cruel. It would be just his luck. Animal. Or worse. "Or for other things."
He doesn't particularly like the tone, though he can't see the man's eyes, he can tell the expression. The lazy way it's said by the slippery strange voice makes his skin crawl, almost shiver. He's had people like this carted off to prison for their crimes. He's touching him now. Arms. Legs. Specifically feeling his thighs mostly. Like a Kennel Club breed, only with far less gentleness. Feeling no muscle. Traces his finger against the flaming bruise on his rib. Nearly to a sensual degree, that confirms the frightened flutter near his heart. He can't help a brief stiffening of the muscle in his arm. A defensive, vulnerable reaction.
"Yes, of course. 20 lira." A hard drive, several phones.
"He's worth 30 if he's worth - a working one goes for 50!" Monitors, a telly perhaps. Radio, even though little works out this far in the remote land.
"25, please don't waste my time." There's an annoyance, a wrinkling of the nose. "Price is most likely going to go down anyway. Nobody's going to by a working one for 50 - the sales will run out." The man's quick-tempered. Stingy with what he has. Probably should prepare to not be fed much.
"Done." Keys jingles into grubby hands and he's hauled off. Blindfolded. Made to walk behind his new Master's car.
Struck for stumbling when the hot sand blisters his feet, only serves to make him more thirsty. He's told to go inside the hut. At least it's damp and cool. The rug under his blistered feet is plush, almost too plush.
He waits. If he can see, if the blindfold's taken off, he might be able to see a way out. To escape. If that were possible. But the blindfold's not taken off. Instead someone's in the room, he turns, trying to seem expectant, submissive. He's struck, told not to move unless instructed.
He's taught the rules.
Not to speak unless spoken to. Not to object to any order given. Not to eat unless the Master has. Not to drink unless the Master has done so. Not try to run away unless he wants punishment. And above all. Submit. Someone violently shoves him to the floor. He has yet to learn just the intricacies of this word. Of the example that he's going to make.
"It's best to break in the new ones. Before they learn bad habits. Besides. You're not good for much else, are you? 1-8-9-3."
He struggles, a burning sensation that he knows just exactly what the unspoken rule is.
Your body is your Master's. The only thing you have truly, that is yours, is your number. Everything else is Master's, and Master's alone.
And then his Master educates him. Makes sure he's beaten whenever he speaks "out of turn". Or he is just the example for the rest of them. Not good for much else.
He lasts nearly five months, before he can barely move throughout the flat to attend to his duties, and he is simply a limp, bony frame - something his Master finds useless.
He's carted off to be sold. Again.
Sitting in the slaves' cage - in the heat, he shifts again, judging the raw place on his backside, wincing when he hears footsteps. Please New Master, show mercy.
Chapter 3: Three
Inspector Lestrade really didn’t understand the point of having them.
You hired people to help around the fields or the house if you wanted. What was the need to have those you didn’t have to pay? Oh, he’d had it explained.
Punishment. Paying off a debt. But that didn’t mean he approved of it. He was simply curious. He used to be a cadet before getting this position, he is trying to settle into the proper position of authority. It seems there are several new, unwritten laws and one of them is he should own a slave.
At first glance, he could tell it wasn’t customary to treat them very well. How did their owners expect to make a profit if they weren’t well fed and healthy?
His housekeeper had said she couldn’t do all the work alone anymore. He didn’t like coming here, coddling to a practice he didn’t approve of. But he’s the Inspector. It’s expected. In fact encouraged, to show his status. He looks them over, evaluating. He can’t help but notice the one in the corner.
Not huddled, or standing around looking wide-eyed and fearful. This one’s blindfolded. Used to sensory depravation.
Those chains are far too tight for him…in fact he looks nearly starved. A strange sense of pity - unlike any other as he’s seen these poor wretches nearly overtakes him without warning.
He knocks his cane against the bars. The slaves scurry off into the corner but the strange one with the graying hair doesn’t move. Just sits there as though waiting for something. He has several nasty bruises - a layer - some half healed - some where the skin has broken a little. He doesn’t seem to give any indication that he knows the Inspector is watching, or if he does know, he's waiting for - the Inspector doesn't want to think about it.
“Can I help you Inspector sir?“ one of the guards. He never does like them - they’re always offering him platitudes as if they expected to be as ill-treated as the slaves themselves.
His eyes don’t leave the figure behind the bars. “Yes. I think you can. That one.“ He points to the slave in the corner.
“Which one, sir?“
“1-8-9-3, how much?”
The guard shakes his head. “You sure you want him, sir? They’re going to auction him off later… not really going to fetch the price his master wants anyway.” “Well if his master didn’t beat him, than I reckon he would fetch a fair price. How much does he want?”
“You’re not going to fetch 10 for him at auction, I’ll guarantee it - no one wants to give up the last of the electronic equipment for that, really Marco, I would expect you would know better than that.”
“Yes Inspector sir.”
“Now, I’ll take him off your hands for fifteen. If his master wants a higher price, you can send him to me.”
“Ah, Inspector,” the lilthe little man, himself. Anderson was gaining a reputation for working his slaves to death; rumors were of the depravity within his household, but there was never enough proof, and no slave wanted to risk their life that way - least of which the Inspector wasn't really supposed to take their testimony to heart.
“Anderson. Good day to you.”
“A fine day to you, Inspector, are you in search of a some extra help around the place.”
“It would seem that would be the case, yes.”
“Ah well, I have a fine young one over here - unbroken still - but he’ll learn.”
The Inspector shakes his head. “No, that one, Anderson - how much for him?”
“Him? He’s not worth what he eats,” The way Anderson's lip curls in scorn and the way the slave hunches over slightly makes the Inspector's skin prickle.
“Than that shouldn’t be much considering from the looks of him that he doesn’t eat much anyway,” replied the Inspector in a seething tone.
“Anderson, I know that my predecessor Sir Hooper perhaps was lenient on the owner population. The corporation doesn’t particularly like that sort; now that I’m in charge if I find any neglected property on your watch then you - most assuredly sir, will find yourself in the same, sorry predicament as the wealthy are now. Now. Anderson. How much for him?”
“I - I’ll let you have him for 20?”
“Fifteen, considering what it’s going to cost me to nurse him back to health.” He doesn’t see the slave’s head angle to the side as he presses his money into Anderson’s hands, afterwards wiping them on a handkerchief which he discards without thought. Filthy Anderson.
“Alright, Marco - I’ve paid for him - now bring him out, please?” His harsh tone drops to a more pleasant lilt.
Marco enters the cell and pulls on the slave's collar, “Come 1893, up with you.”
“Oi, be careful with him!”
“Yes, sir Inspector.” It’s only when he’s properly in the blinding sunlight that the new Inspector Lestrade really sees the bruises on his new slave. He is positively furious.
The Inspector locks his jaw.
The slave hears the clicking, grating noise.
New Master isn't pleased. He'll probably take the rage out at him. There's the slightest of trembles in the limbs, despite the heat, but Lestrade doesn't notice, and the guard pays no attention.
That's fine. He's used to that from his Masters by now. New Master touches his arm, there's a burst blood vessel just there, just above his number, and the poor slave tries not to flinch. Someone's cutting off the blindfold from the back of his head, where it is hopelessly knotted, and he keeps his head bent, not necessarily to the bright sunlight that is quite searing even with him looking away. The awful dirty cloth falls away, and his eyes adjust, though at first he can only see bright, white spots instead of the sandy gravel. His Master's knelt, staring up at him kindly. He flinches back.
Mustn't be kind to Slave, Master.
"It's alright," he says, his tone non-threatening. He does stand up though, as though to calm a frightened creature. "It's going to be alright now."
"Want us to cart him home for you, sir?" It's Marco - the guard speaking.
"I don't think that's necessary." The Inspector's voice is clipped, harsh.
"You will, however, loose the poor fool."
"He's not likely to run in the condition he's in - considering from his injuries he knows the punishment for escaping." The Inspector's tone is harsher than he means it to be, but the Slave isn't being addressed. He can't calculate what sort of Master this new one is going to be. He shouldn't hope for kindness. Not now. He can tell that his New Master must be disgusted with him.
Inspector Lestrade isn't pleased by what he sees, and it has nothing to do with the slave's fault. Though he doesn't seem to know that. He's seen the broken fingers, the lash marks, the bruises, the signs his chains have been far too tight. The signs he hasn't been allowed to bathe. The slight scent sours in his nose, he might look disgusted that another person would be treated like this. Lestrade's used to the dead, being a cadet, on occasion, this only sickens him because the person - somewhere in there - is still breathing. "Marco?" He addresses, more harshly then he means to.
"I want Anderson, have him summoned please."
"Yes, sir. He'll ask why."
"Don't need a reason." He says in a cold tone, "now off with you!"
He then turns to his slave. "You can look up, can't you? He didn't break your neck, did he?" Slowly, the man that had once gained respect of kings shifts his eyes upward to his Master. The Inspector winces when he sees the genuine fear in the slave's eyes - clearly looking up is a considered taboo, because his gaze shifts downward rather quickly, though he still keeps his head up.
The Inspector shifts uncomfortably, offering his hand. "Come with me?" It's clear after a moment the slave isn't going to take it. Isn't sure how. The Inspector turns, sighing, then begins to walk down the street toward home. The slave follows obediently. He wonders how this Master plans to break him in, and he can't help a shiver despite the heat. Owned. Not free.
Chapter 4: Four
1-8-9-3 shuffles into the house that he's been instructed to enter.
The carpet's plush, the decor somewhat ambient as compared to his old Master's. It's not rich, obviously - no harsh golds, burgandys or purples, simply soft greys and browns - like outdoors.
Knees bruising on the floor, pain receptors firing, nothing but exploding lightning throughout his body.
"Anyone else want this one? Worthless piece of shit... not even good as a pleasure slave..."
He blinks, shaking his head.
"You alright?" His new master asks.
He nods, finding his mouth dry. "Well, come with me, then." He follows, numbly.
He expects his new master wants to break him in. Something tells him this man wouldn't be as terrible as the last one, but it doesn't make the thought of the action any less repulsive or frightening.
He's a bit out of his limits when Master leads him into the fresher and takes out two rather fluffy towels.
"You'll need to clean up, if you'll wait here, I'll find you something else to wear."
"Sir?" What did Master want of him?
Lestrade sighs a little, annoyed that this has to be explained. "You're going to turn on the water, take off that muddy thing you're wearing, and clean up. You can use any of the soap that's in there. Wash your hair, everything. Understood? I'll be finding you something to wear. When you're done you can dry off with the towels here. You can use whatever you need in here in order to look presentable all right?"
"Yes, Master - I'm-I'm to be clean and presentable."
"That's right." With that Master leaves, shutting the door. 1-8-9-3 blinks.
Usually he's hosed off in the backyard if Master doesn't think he's presentable. He is never left alone to wash. He remembers how to use the water of course, but he hopes he's not dreaming when the faucet comes running out hot, steamy water.
He's under the spray long after it turns cold, noting that he looks scrubbed when he checks his appearance in the mirror.
There's a small pile of clothes just inside the door. Master must have set them there, as promised. There's a crisp white shirt that's been freshly pressed and black pants and matching trousers. They're almost like civilian clothes. As though he weren't - no, he is.
These many months it's been beaten into his head what he is.
Ungrateful. Clumsy. Useless. Can't pay his way.
Perhaps it will be nice here.
As he dries off with the towel over his bare flesh, he notes the bruises are more accentuated now that he's clean. Briefly shamed, he unfolds the shirt, and slips into it. It smells like outdoors and fresh soap. Clean. He's not quite sure how to react to it. It's not rough, doesn't chafe against the bruises.
Buttoning the cuffs prove a little uncomfortable as his wrists are still raw, and his fingers not quite as nimble as they should be. But he'll be buttoning them anyway, slipping on the pants, noting what's left of his dirty clothes are gone.
Master must have taken them away. He pulls on the trousers, smoothing down his graying red hair in the mirror. He feels a strange sense that perhaps Master is not as terrible as the last one.
He's not sure what is the appropriate reaction for that. Now come on, 1-8-9-3. Put those fingers to good use, or I'll break your hands. Not wishing to think about what his other Master has wanted out of him, and what probably his New Master may be waiting for, he opens the door, curiously peering around the corner into the other rooms.
Is Master waiting for him somewhere? "There you are," the Inspector says, carrying a cup of tea and a glass of water.
He backs up a little, bowing his head in respect. "Yes, sir."
"Come with me to my study," he says, leading the way. He leans against the desk once they are in the correct room, watching his slave's reactions.
He can feel the Inspector's eyes scanning him, and he doesn't squirm, even though he feels like it. Squirming led to being taught how not to move at all as Master breathes down one's neck.
But the Inspector isn't like that. "You've cleaned up well." It's cautious praise, as though he's not quite sure how to give it to someone lower than he is. As though the status made him uncomfortable. Master's never owned a slave before. 1-8-9-3 feels the barest hint of pride. He's a status symbol, not livestock. But the question should be, what sort of status symbol?
Livestock could be status symbols if one so desired.
"Thank you, Master" The response is slightly delayed, as though 1-8-9-3 had forgotten to react to praise.
The Inspector nods. "You can call me Sir, or Inspector Lestrade. Or simply Greg will do." He gives his new slave the full water glass and a once over, noticing the cuffs tightly buttoned, the posture stiff. He notes the pants might be a little small once his slave is well fed. His slave. The Inspector doesn't like this idea much. "You may sit down." He points to the chair across the desk, as he sits down himself.
1-8-9-3 shifts a little, sitting carefully.
"Are you comfortable?"
Lestrade gives a thin nod. "Have you a name? I'll need to call you something, numbers don't work for me, I prefer names when I speak to people." People. Slaves weren't supposed to be people. And it was quite clear this one had been taught that all too well, because of the way he flinches at the word.
Name. Giving away his name, and Sherlock wasn't safe anymore. They'd find him - they weren't supposed to find him. They couldn't find Sherlock...
"If you don't remember that's fine," the Inspector's saying kindly.
"Alright, then Michael. You were one of the aristocracy then before the Collapse?"
"What's your training? Area of expertise?" He shifts uncomfortably under the Inspector's kind gaze. Will he insist his old Master take him back after he says so? "There's no need to be afraid, Michael." It's strange to be called that. It's not exactly his name, after all. 1-8-9-3 has been his identity for so long, a name is foreign.
"I-I suppose one might call me the whipping boy. Sir."
"They punished you for other's crimes?" The Inspector's frowning, though not at the slave exactly. He seems to be writing something down.
"Yes, sir." The injuries he'd catalogued earlier suddenly comes to mind, and though Lestrade knew he'd only seen alot of brusing, it's a bit too familiar and he shifts a photo on his desk of the beaten body of a young girl, obviously violated in the streets last year. Slave too, couldn't really tell the population against that. There's a moment that he scrutinizes the slave's mannerisms.
"Do you...do you need to see a doctor?"
"About the - injuries?" Michael sighs a little, regretfully. "I think about my hands, most likely. Otherwise, a first aid kit will do. Sir."
"Let me see your hands," The Inspector says, clearing a spot on his desk, and the slave approaches, clearly shaking - thinking he's going to be punished.
"Hey, mate." Lestrade tries to catch his eye. "I'm not going to hurt you. In fact, the man who used to own you; I'm bringing a case against him. If I can. No human - not even an animal deserves that."
Filth does, The slave thinks absently, but doesn't say it.
Lestrade examines the man's hands, it's clear his fingers have been broken, rebroken too - healed wrong.
He might need surgery, in fact, he probably should call a doctor, though he knows the main doctor here wouldn't bother treating a slave.
"I think you - I think we're going to have to wrap your hands. Might not be able to use them for awhile, but that's fine. Don't want you to be without the use of them. I'll have to contact a friend of mine, mail does take forever these days, unfortunately." With minimal technology, the most reliable was the post, but that did take several weeks.
The slave looks a little frightened. "What's wrong, Michael?" "I won't be useful, sir. Won't be able to earn my keep." The look on his face begins to turn a little blank - as though he expected just what 'usefulness' the Inspector wanted to prove.
"I think you've done plenty of earning for some while now," he says with bit more venom than he means at the poor slave. "I'm sorry, just Anderson clearly didn't see your potential, and punished you for it - which he shouldn't've done." Lestrade presses on a raised spot gently, and watches the slave take a hitched breath. "I think they're mostly clean breaks - I'm not a doctor and I wouldn't know such things, but I think we'll manage." The slave doesn't hear alot of that - he's thinking about what the Inspector said about Anderson and 'potential'. He was rubbish at manual labor, rubbish at cooking, rubbish at being a slave for pleasure. He just was rubbish.
Chapter 5: Five
"Are you tired?" the Inspector asks gently, turning over his hand, examining the palm.
"I-yes," the slave answers the question cautiously. As though he expects to be punished.
"Relax. You're not going to be punished here. You'll have duties of course, but they won't be dreadful, I hope. After your hands heal of course. I won't have a slave in pain." He mutters this last mostly to himself, but the slave is left wondering what it means.
"Now Michael, stay here. I'm going to get some bandages." He has a test to perform, feeling a little odd about it though. When the Inspector returns two minutes later with an old t-shirt and some scissors, the slave hasn't moved an inch. "You're doing fine."
As expected, the man doesn't relax much. The Inspector begins to cut it into long strips. "The doctor here is a bit uppity, I could threaten him if I wanted, but that really wouldn't do. He'd probably only scare you."
He doesn't talk to hear himself, in fact it feels rather awkward to be repeatedly reassuring a man about his own age.
"What about home, hmm? Before all this happened."
"There's not much to tell, really." Michael shifts a little on his feet, as though he were missing something.
"Do you have a brother or a sister?"
"No," he says the question quickly - too quickly, really.
Lestrade frowns, but doesn't comment.
Once the shirt material is cut into strips he beckons the slave to follow him to the sitting room in front of the fire.
"Sit down, please," he requests.
The slave obeys, settling into the comfortable chair, noting the Inspector doesn't sit, in fact kneels in front of him to bandage his hands. Michael doesn't think this proper behavior at all, but doesn't protest.
Master may do what he likes with his slave. When he likes. This he doesn't mind, as Lestrade begins to wrap his broken hands.
Michael notices how careful he is. "I'm going to have to wrap them a little tightly, it might hurt for a few days. You let me know and maybe I can get you a few painkillers, yeah? It's in my desk, don't let me forget."
"No sir," the way he answers makes Lestrade think that at one point the man could probably remember everything.
Before his previous Owners broke him to bits and then left the Inspector with the pieces.
Michael, meanwhile, regards his Master in a confused manner as to what he's done to deserve such kindness.
Lestrade tries to smile reassuringly, but the slave can't help but feel the anger rolling off his Master.
"Slaves are property, sir. Property isn't given dignity." He dares to speak, and the strange look the Inspector gives him, causes the slave to nearly pull his hand away in fear.
The fierce, protective look he almost could find soothing if it wasn't so frightening, the gray eyes nearly looking like flint just before it's struck together to make a flame. "That doesn't make it right." He goes back to knotting the first hand. "You're still human aren't you?"
The brief pause makes it indicative he wants the other man to answer. "Yes. Sir."
"Then you deserve rights. Just because you inherited a fortune doesn't make you inhumane."
The slave listens, watching the Inspector's careful movements. It's clear he hasn't done much of this, because he has to occasionally unwind the wrappings and then redo them properly. Someone taught him how to do this, probably out of his own boredom.
The Inspector continues. "You'll have the spare room just down the hall, I'll expect you to keep that clean and neat, you're not sleeping on the floor or wherever else you've become accustomed to. I expect you to eat, god you're thin. We'll have to fatten you up."
He smiles at his jest until he sees the expression on Michael's face. "Sorry. I mean, it's clear they didn't feed you and that isn't healthy."
Once he's wrapped the man's hands, he gives a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "You can talk, you know. You don't just have to respond to my questions. Come on, I'll find you something to eat. Can you think of anything you'd like? Anything at all, name it - and I'll try to conjure it."
The slave pauses, then his face colours a bit. "I - anything will do sir. Really."
"Alright, then, come to the kitchen and sit at the table all right? Your a person now, no matter what they've told you or beaten into you or whatever."
The slave follows obediently at sits. The Inspector's pleased at that, clear that directions are most likely Michael's strong point here.
"You're doing very well," he says again, looking in the fridge, finding it necessary that Michael thinks he's fine.
The Inspector will likely spend a sleepless night doing research on trauma that he knows almost nothing about. Michael has to get better, and if possible, freed and reintroduced back to society.
Well, the changed society. It was strange that he - Lestrade - pretty much was the police authority as well the public authority. They might call him Mayor, but he was also somewhat of the District Judge. But they didn't have those names for things anymore. They'd been carted off and sold.
So Inspector it was.
Technology was their currency. One wanted something? A good supply of food? They had to sell their hard-drive or their phone - useless now since the Pulse. Still worth it's weight in scrap metal. Pity he couldn't phone the good doctor - perhaps one of the things he missed. The order to things. Chaotic, certainly, but nothing compared to the frantic discord that existed now. People that had to fight even harder to survive.
And Michael, well - he had to be used to luxury before this. Probably didn't know anything about proper domesticity, his previous owner had done next to nothing on his education on that, that much was obvious.
Chapter 6: Six
While the man that used to be respected by governments watches his Master cook a rather simple meal, there are other happenings halfway across the world.
The young man with the eyes like the sea and the dyed ginger curls sighs. What his brother had done hadn't been necessary.
Unlike others in search of their relatives, he didn't go to the Information Line. That wouldn't do at all. He wasn't fooled by that.
Mycroft hadn't even consulted him before giving himself up like that. Just walked right in to Resistance Headquarters in his three-piece and gave up without a fight. Mycroft couldn't survive like that for long. The new authority - one couldn't call it a 'government' because there wasn't one.
He was hiding, of course he was hiding. The trust had been seized, his rooms gone.
Now instead he's on the streets in a borrowed coat. He's just like one of them.
Nobody's the wiser and the ones that are will probably keep his secret - not that he trusts them too, he can shed the coat and dye his hair again. He's already done it twice before.
It's probably a good thing he hasn't seemed to live in wealth the past few years. America has proved useless for information, so his brother isn't here.
Someone has his brother, and Sherlock will stop at nothing to find him. Even if Mycroft hates him forever.
The governments toppled, the money worthless, the people wandering around fighting over a simple meal. Some think it's better than how it was. The technology useless other than for sale in its weight in metal. He hasn't sold his mobile yet. It's brand new, not a scratch on it. Some people like them for trinkets. But that is not his plan. He will need to collect them, he'll explain of course. Half-truths all the way. He's been poor - very poor - he needs something, anything anyone can do to help. His brother may annoy him to no end, but he certainly doesn't deserve what he sees these creatures that used to be the wealthy, simply because he's an idiot and thinks his baby brother could possibly need protection.
Maybe they'll go to Canada or Alaska, or better yet, Greenland. It's cold there, everyone is just grateful for body heat, and they really never had the technology anyway to afford a slave. Or maybe he'll exile his brother there for his stupidity and keep bees somewhere else.
If there are any bees still alive. It was said they were the first to go. Nobody saw them anymore. But then, in most places, there wasn't many flowers for them to pollinate. Maybe Canada. Again with Canada. He had better things to worry about than bees now. His brother. He couldn't survive like this - Sherlock could because he was on the streets as a teenager. Mostly exploring, experimenting despite the dangers. He liked having some experience, knowledge was what his brain craved.
He was watching knowledge itself crumble in the face of fear.
He's not beyond stealing either, to reach his goal.
Sherlock Holmes is finally a post-apocalyptic pirate.
MadEye Maddi drew some lovely art for this particular chapter :)
Chapter 7: Seven
The Inspector mails the letter to his friend the next day, though he tells Michael that it will likely take several weeks to receive a reply. It was faster to go oneself, but he couldn't exactly desert the outpost, nor was Michael in the proper condition to be sent without risking him being resold, even if he did carry the proper papers.
Lestrade wasn't going to risk it.
After all, Michael is still slightly skittish, he flinches if Lestrade is near him suddenly, even if he's aware of the Inspector's presence in the room.
The Inspector does make an example out of Anderson, though his slaves are simply resold to owners who may not be as understanding as Lestrade is, and Anderson himself is carted off to be sold quite far away.
The assets are placed into some investments into rebuilding as the materials have to be brought in to the small outpost.
About nine weeks after Michael's purchase, the Inspector trusts him on small errands - not that he thinks Michael would run away, he knows all too well the punishment for that - and Lestrade doesn't necessarily like the factor that Michael fears his new Master will punish him, but it serves his purpose.
Michael doesn't run away.
"Sir, there's a letter here for you," he hands his Master the small card and begins to tidy the desk.
Despite his distinct lack of training with household chores, Michael has caught on rather quickly, although cooking isn't his strong point, he was able to find half of a cookbook in the junk heap - and so far meals have been better than they ever were.
Lestrade still has his housekeeper do the laundry though, as she threatens Michael could replace her far too easily.
The Inspector finds that quite amusing, as he'd never not had his housekeeper, despite the money situation.
Besides, she feeds herself in this manner.
At least he is doing something to contribute to society, even if it is somewhat counterproductive as he pays his housekeeper and owns a slave.
Lestrade opens the letter, watching Michael's improvements with somewhat of a cautious appreciation.
"It's from the doctor I wrote to, remember?"
Michael nods, "Yes sir."
Despite mostly his lack of starting a conversation, Michael is an excellent listener.
"He'll actually be here in about three weeks."
"The rugs will need to be washed, sir."
Lestrade smiles at that, Michael has obviously been well-educated by the housekeeper. Inspector Lestrade had had to take Michael into the local doctor, who was anything but courteous to the slave, so the nearly unnoticeable trepidation is not unexpected.
"I think you'll like Doctor Watson, he's not like - Doctor Wilkes," the Inspector says with a reassuring smile.
Michael finishes dusting then excuses himself. The Inspector really doesn't know - and that's fine.
Just the thought of another doctor makes him nervous.
Will he prod like Wilkes? Anderson had liked Wilkes, but the new Inspector doesn't know that, and he's too kind - Michael doesn't want him to encite the town at all - they'd already been not quite pleased with Anderson's removal - he'd been their source for certain vulgar things.
He still had nightmares, but he doesn't think the Inspector knows.
At least he hopes Master doesn't know.
Is Sherlock alright? There have been so many times he's nearly asked, nearly begged for it on his knees as a favor.
But that won't do.
No matter how discreet Master can be, someone will find out. Someone will out Sherlock, and he'll be carted off - and the Master's won't be kind to Sherlock.
He'll die before the year's out - perhaps he's already dead.
Michael doesn't want to know if his brother's dead.
As long as he knows nothing he can continue to believe his dear baby brother is alive and relatively safe.
As safe as an exile can be.
Don't try to find me. Please. I'm-I'm alright now. He prays to his little brother, because he can't really believe in anything else.
Not that he ever did in the first place.
A week after mailing his letter, Doctor Watson shoulders his pack, and cuts across the Appalachians.
He finds it easier to stay on the move, doing what he can in the outposts he visits.
Settling isn't John's thing, as they mostly call him now - or simply "The Doctor" by those that can still remember the telly shows as a comfortable jest.
They were gone now, all of it, people were nearly surviving, the poor struggling the most despite the asset redistribution.
John was a rogue, he always thought he'd done better on his own, and he wasn't any worse now.
But Greg had called for him.
Before the migration, they'd been best mates - and not in the sense most people thought.
It wasn't easy to stay friends in such a turbulent world, and apparently Greg's heading of the Turkish Outpost (as John thought most of the main ones in capital letters) had caused a rift.
John preferred travel and Greg saw an opportunity.
Different than most of the people that wanted to take what control they could.
Sir Hooper - as they called him, was too ill to continue, and they'd followed him out here in the middle of nowhere to set up.
Deserted, limited resources, relatively near an oasis.
Considering it was better than gutted-out London, the town was - not exactly prospering, but they weren't failing either.
Sir Hooper immediately liked Greg and agreed the former cadet would make a better leader than most of the townspeople who didn't really want the job anyway.
John had moved on, continuing his trek.
He didn't really know what he was looking for - mostly to scout and understand the rest of Earth.
It might be longer than the three weeks. He'll have to find someone willing to cut across the ocean in a small skiff - or a liner that isn't as reliable as it should be as there is no one to maintenance it.
I'd like your vote here, and there won't be much more postings on John or Sherlock for awhile unless you'd like to see how they meet - and you might have already guessed.
What I would like to know is should I write a completely separate one off on their ocean trek, or would you like it in this fic?
I neither want to put off the readers who are here for the Mystrade, nor do I want to short you if you would like to see more of this. Hope that's clear enough, would just like my reader's opinion, especially whoever the OP originally was. :)
Chapter 8: Eight
So far I have 2-1 Mystrade exclusively, so the tentative plan is a one-off, if I can get to it. If not, I'm sorry for the Johnlock fans, it will be touched upon a little later on.
The weeks that follow seem to pass without considerable incident.
Except...Michael is conflicted.
Master is different, so different that the kindness he is unused to even in his life prior he finds - there really isn't a proper word for it.
In his time before, when he was the pinnacle of the government, or at least his considerable position, he could have who he liked.
Of course he paid them for such services, but - it wasn't like this.
And if he discussed this with his master it would look anything but respectable.
Sir might get the wrong ideas, that perhaps he liked how he was treated.
Which wasn't true, but Michael couldn't correct such assumptions.
What was this? He was recovering, beginning to notice everything again.
The way Master talked - as though Michael were simply a person in his house.
Right now, he's trying not to stare as Master cooks - which, as he says - nobody really cares because there are not truly laws about this anyway.
Master can do what he likes correct? This includes cooking dinner if he pleases.
Besides, Michael will receive plenty of exposure when Doctor Watson comes to the outpost, as Greg plans on trying to talk him into staying ... again.
They've reached the point that they are capable of talking about anything - except, for Michael - the obvious.
"Was he anyone special to you? Like a boyfriend perhaps?" he asks, hoping he's not coloring too deeply. He used to be the master of disguising emotion. Not so much now.
Master is busy with searing the meager vegetables. "No, John's just a friend, Michael. Respectable doctor too. If the world hadn't turned upside down he'd be likely celebrated - even though he never really liked that sort of thing."
"He has wanderlust Sir; it's unlikely he'll stay," the observation slips out before he means it too. "Sorry," the apology is quick.
The Inspector shakes his head. "No. Nothing to be sorry for. He's intrigued. "How did you...how do you know this?"
"You told me he doesn't like to settle, Sir."
"Yes but - how did you reach that conclusion?"
Despite Master's kindness, Michael shifts uncomfortably.
"I-I just thought that was a logical conclusion, Sir." Despite the growing trust between Master and servant, there have been more than one of these where Michael seemed to know more than he was letting on.
As though he had a gift that he knew such things. Perhaps.
It was clear he'd been punished for that "gift" before - Lestrade could tell. He can't help noticing Michael's shy face in the dim light - and he wishes for an awful reason that Michael was never born of wealthy parents.
Why couldn't he be a commoner?
And Michael didn't want to be free, either - the first time Greg had broached the subject, poor Michael had begged him to reconsider. Told him he'd do anything, just not to file the papers. But he wouldn't explain why.
Lestrade could guess what some of the punishments might have been about - including the ones he'd taken that weren't his fault.
About three and a half weeks later, John arrives at the port a few miles from the outpost itself and the mysterious curly-haired stranger who went with him chooses to separate.
"Basil" had told the doctor nothing about his brother's slavery - but John suspected just the same.
There was a class about Basil, typically the kind he'd seen in sleaves he'd treated or those who had managed to "buy" their way into freedom, to their own ruin.
John wished his companion luck on his journey.
He knew he was a week late to the outpost, and Basil was continuing should. They promised to somehow stay in touch, despite the near impossibility of doing so in such a society.
Much to Doctor Wilkes chagrin, the townspeople wanted a welcome party for whoever the Inspector had known from before. A fire, a feast of food, an array of stories from The Outside.
It was typically a nightmare for the slaves, Lestrade told Michael, and hence gave him a wide range of options. He was not obligated to attend if he did not wish to, and he was allowed to leave for home if he so chose, as long as the Master was properly informed, lest he worry.
The gathering started off easily enough, Michael typically had not had any presence other than his own or his Master's - and he now found the other society of the slaves foreign.
Masters typically gave their slaves names, so - as the lesson was, so long ago now he barely remembers - the only thing the slaves own is their numbers. Therefore the slaves among themselves go by their numbers.
So Michael is now "93" and a slave named Pip is "55", among those that are allowed to stand outside the circle.
Those inside are knelt at their Master's feet, sucking them off - or on their laps.
"How did Mistress Sally choose your name?"
"55" shrugs. "She just bought me five years ago and has called me Pip ever since. Real name's ... Johnathan, but - you know."
Michael nods, feeling bad for the others, because the Inspector - most of the time, treated him like a housemate or "the help" - rather than a slave. Though lately he'd been a bit off, he excused Michael often to his own tasks, or simply to make his own choices of what he'd like to do.
Of course he'd asked if Michael wished to be freed, but that seemed to terrify the man even though he didn't show much of it, he still begged the Inspector to keep him, if at all possible.
"Does your Master allow you to choose?" he asks, noting the previous conversation.
Loyal to a fault, Michael replies. "Most of the time, if I've behaved well."
"You're lucky," the slave called "38" says. "You've got the Inspector for a Master don' ya? He keeps you well-fed."
Michael shifts, sensing their jealousy.
"Must be his kink to have a bit of chub on his slave, "55" says, diffusing most of the situation, even though Michael thinks he knows that is anything but.
Is that what his master wants.
How's the diet?
What he wouldn't give for those jabs again. But he wouldn't...he couldn't see Sherlock again.
John's talking now, telling his tale of crossing.
"I thought I wasn't going to get across, and he just sort of bought a frigate and we took several refugees.
He knew I'd been to the Pakistani border, he knew about the wound, he was very smart this one. Ginger curls, green eyes, didn't really have an Irish accent though.
Basil, he called himself. Told me some wonderful ones about pirates."
No one hears the small gasp from outside the circle, and even the slaves barely notice Michael's retreating form.
Sherlock...Sherlock...don't come here, Sherlock. Don't. I'm happy here, I am. I - I couldn't ask for a better Master.
Chapter 9: Nine
Michael returns to the darkened house, not considering about lighting the lamps.
"Where's Michael?" The Doctor asks The Inspector after finishing his tale, choosing to ignore what most of the slaves are used for.
John was neutral on the subject, as long as the slaves were well-treated.
"Should be-Michael!" The Inspector calls, expecting his slave to come running over - but he doesn't.
Instead a younger man marked as "1-9-5-5" - Donovan's slave, approaches shyly.
"I believe he returned home, Inspector, Sir. Or wandered off." Something had upset Michael, but he'd left so quickly, Pip didn't get the chance to ask. Was it something the Doctor had said about travelling? Michael had been transported by air, hadn't he?
"Thank you, Pip." The Inspector sighs, and gets up to leave, telling John to stay until the fire burns down if he likes. Some are going back to their homes for the night, though a few stay.
Michael realizes that he has been disobedient. The Inspector has been lenient on him, and he couldn't obey a simple order. The Inspector wanted to be informed, and now he's made his Master worry. He deserves to be punished. He considers making it easy for Master, but - it is Master's decision to punish. Not him.
"Michael?" The Inspector calls into the darkened house, having to light one of the lamps, a duty that Michael is usually excellent at.
"Yes, Master?" He can hear the shyness and the fear as Michael steps out into the light. "I'm sorry Sir - I meant..."
"You may light the rest of the lamps if you wish," says the Inspector, suddenly his concern turning to business. "No harm was done. Let John in when he arrives. I'm - I'm cleaning up then going to bed. It's been - a long day."
Michael has never seen his Master hurry off so quickly, and he wonders just what has caused this sudden aloofness. He obeys and lights the lamps, though only in the main hallway and in the sitting room.
Where is the Doctor going to sleep? Master didn't say. Most likely his room then, as there are no other bedrooms, Michael will probably need to sleep on the floor.
Lestrade turns on the cooler water - it is, after all, cooler at night, anyway. Why couldn't Michael want to be free? It would make things so much easier. Probably a scandal just the same, but - at least Michael was free to say "no" which he didn't seem to know now.
There's a knock on the door and Michael bows to bid The Doctor enter. "Ah, so you're Michael," he says courteously.
"Yes sir. I-I believe the Inspector will be along shortly..."
"He summoned me to examine you - is that alright?"
"Yes, Sir." Though, from the way Michael answers, that he woudn't say 'no' even if he wanted to. Couldn't be Lestrade. Previous masters, then.
He escorts The Doctor to the sitting room, and John guestures for him to sit down.
He holds up his bandanged hands.
"Can you turn them over?" When Michael tries, there is a quite a clear wince. "That hurts does it?"
"It's alright, I can make you a plaster cast - the Inspector did very well to wrap your hands - it may have helped with the healing process."
"Yes Sir...did-did you teach him?"
John smiles proudly. "I certainly did, in case of emergency. It appears he's learned well. Should have taught him more, didn't think it was that necessary after Wilkes arrived here."
The Inspector's standing at the doorway, watching John unwind the bandages in order to put on new ones. Michael's back is turned, he doesn't seem to notice.
"It might not heal properly you know. It's entirely possibly it could still hurt to do certain tasks." John gently presses his thumbs against the mending bone, testing the strength cautiously.
Michael nods his understanding. As long as he is here, with the Inspector, that won't matter. He thinks. Strange to think that.
"Alright, the Inspector asked me to give you a thorogh examination," John says. "Is there anything about that that makes you uncomfortable? The Inspector told me that your previous Owner ... forced you."
"Y-yes Sir." He's nervous now, the calming tone of the Doctor doing nothing to quell his fears.
"If there's something you don't want, you have the right to say no, alright, I'm a doctor, I'm not here to hurt you. The Inspector wants you better - if it's possible I can do anything."
You can't help me, though, Michael thinks.
He doesn't need to be told to take off his clothes.
He's been to Doctor Wilkes enough to know what the process is, however uncomfortable.
This doctor at least, might be gentle.
"There's no need to remove the pants just yet - I just want to make sure that your overall health is good." John puts his hand to Michael's wrist and measures his pulse. "You're already too nervous for that anyway. I'm just going to check your vision and a few other things. I'll be here for at least a week, so if there's anymore - just let me know, alright?"
Hit writer's block after this because my brain wants to go in five different directions.
Chapter 10: Ten
I'm sorry this is so short, I thought you deserved to know where I was taking this.
Mind, it's been a long time coming and I've already rewritten it twice. Mostly it's a compromise between what the muses give and what the readership seems to desire.
Hope OP is pleased!
"Yes, sir," Michael agrees, amiably.
"Something make you nervous tonight?" Doctor Watson asks. "Something I said?"
"No sir." It's a little frightening how easy it is to lie. The Doctor, that is used to seeing injuries, doesn't like what he sees. Michael has mostly healed, true, the bruises have faded - but the scars, well - those are going to stay. "I'm going to need to take a little blood. The scanners don't work anymore, so we have to test them in cultures to determine bacterial infection."
Michael seems unphased by the needles. "I-I think Anderson was-was clean sir, he didn't display any of the symptoms common of a transmitted disease. And he was careful. About himself."
John frowns slightly, knowing that someone who used to be so wealthy and prominent was unlikely to be so observant. "Do you mind if I examine these?" He touches a scar on the inside of Michael's knee. "The ones at the back of your legs are the worst it seems."
After a brief sigh, Michael pulls down the last shred of the semblance of dignity he's had over the past months."You're disgusted. Sir," he says, the Inspector didn't realize Michael knew perfectly well that he was in the room, why he'd hesitated. They've healed, really.
There's just evidence that things were unpleasant for him for some time.
"Former master was punished by full-extent," Lestrade says, for both their benefits, to remind them both. John gives a tight nod. "I'm guessing you either let Wilkes examine him or he took care of himself?"
Lestrade defers to Michael to answer. "You may answer that." "I-I took care of myself, sir. The - the initial injuries w-were treated by an-another slave." Unfortunately, he was far too in subspace to know their identity. And whoever they were, didn't want thanks or recognition. Well, recognition likely meant punishment by their then-Master.
"Alright, you may dress now," Doctor Watson finishes his examination, trying to give Michael a reassuring smile.
Lestrade isn't repulsed at all - should he be? After all, he - he just didn't have time for - but.
With a slave - like that mattered. No. Least of all it was a slave abused in such a manner he'd flinch at the thought. He'd still obey his master, obviously. Not something Lestrade wants. He wants his slave's full, clear-minded consent, if they are to become intimate ever. Strange he's never considered it before. Well, perhaps didn't want to consider it.
Michael has already half dressed and John is buttoning his shirt, as his hands are bandaged. "Sir?" Michael can see the flush in his cheeks, similar to women - perhaps it's been a different lifetime now that someone had looked at him that way before, before there was any speck of gray in his red hair, too.
His master isn't repulsed, but isn't acting on his instincts either. "I'm fine Michael. You're free for the evening." Lestrade gives a curt nod to John. "Thank you, Doctor. You may make whatever sleeping arrangements are to your choosing." It's a fast walk down the hall to the fresher.
Michael turns to Doctor Watson, bewildered. "I'm not -"
"I mean...he's. He's respectable."
"He's, he wouldn't hurt me. Not unless. Well, I'd I wouldn't want to be purposefully stupid, obviously."
John gives a thin smile. As the conversation seems awkward, John tries to change the subject. "You talk like him. A little. That - the ginger stranger that I met ferrying across."
"Oh yes, him." Michael tries to seem nonchalant about it. Sherlock. Is he well? Eating enough? Sleeping? So many things he wants to ask. But he can't.
Chapter 11: Eleven
Doctor Watson encases his hands in plaster, keeping the fragile bones together - they still ache, but - he doesn't need to take whatever pain relief the doctor manages to find.
Today is hot, unbearably so.
At the moment, he's secluded himself in the fresher with a rather delicate problem, well - a problem more suited to rough gentle - no, Mycroft, stop that! It's only getting worse. At least he can dress himself mostly - it's just that he can't have seemed to sort himself since Doctor Watson spoke of such things. Things such as his Master...
He'd never particularly liked his treatment at his old Master's hands - and not only because his Master was unnecessarily cruel, forcing things upon him that he had no desire for.
He was quite convinced - until yesterday - he didn't want anything of such nature again.
He hadn't really thought he wanted that again - not after Anderson.
But his Master isn't unattractive. In another life altogether - he would have chosen him for a companion - but that's gone now. He doesn't have the choice. He has no rights in this society, his Master can take as he pleases.
He wipes the sweat off his face with one of the flannels. It's too hot. He tries holding the fabric between his clumsy, plastered hands and attempt at least some friction, but it doesn't work.
The fresher's just getting hotter. At least it seems to be. He tries pressing his face against the cool of the loo. He's tried lying in the bathtub, but that had only served to make matters worse.
It was just tantalizing, like a drop of water on parched tongue -
Greg sighing over John's fresh primevera, pink tongue over -
Master - Greg - it's become interchangeable since Doctor Watson's arrival.
He was, getting too comfortable with the situation.
Michael pants, rubbing against the flannel, stifling a whimper.
Just this. Just the once.
He used to always be in control before. Now he's just a desperate creature, begging for it, like Master Anderson hissed he would be.
His mind supplies Greg, short hair slightly mussed and damp, lying peacefully in one of the cool rooms of the house. He smiles lazily...tracing his fingers though red-gray hair...Michael's locks. He's tender. Warm. Warm and cool at once, and delicious...
Stop this. Stop it. He doesn't want you. Filthy, wretched. Used.
He tries arching his back, rubbing further against the fabric in his palms, whimpering at the unsufficency. He is still healing, lacking the stamina to hold his heavy, weighted hands suspended in this way.
A knock on the door interrupts him.
"You about done in there, Michael?" Greg. Oh why couldn't have been the doctor, this problem would be less of an embarressment if it were Doctor Watson. He'd be able to disconnect. It wouldn't be so personal.
Greg isn't who he really should be seeing. Not now, cool fingers over one nipple, a bite, marking him as his Master's property... Stop! You've never seen him with a woman, that doesn't mean he's inclined towards you.
"I-I'm fine, Sir." Can Greg hear the quaver in his voice? "I-I'll be finished in just a moment..."
The answer to his question comes a few moments later.
"Are you having difficulties, again - the doctor said..."'
He doesn't really hear much more as his brain supplies: Oh yes, please Master. Please.
"N-no, I'm fine, I'll...I'm sorry, just a moment."
"I could help if you -"
"No!" The intended forceful answer sounds pitiful. Frustrated, which he is. "There's no need to bother with me, sir..."
"Nonsense! Come out of there, the buttons can be complicated, it's really not trouble, Michael, I promise."
Sod it. He's going to have to try and - quite literally - keep his trousers on.
Akwardly, he slips his free thumb and pulls up the pants. Immediatly a dark stain appears at the restriction, and he sighs, nearly defeated.
He then tries to pull up the trousers, but they hang loosely on his hips, the zipper open.
Evidence is all there. Master would have to be blind not to see it.
He stares at his reflection in the dulled mirror, and opens the door with a sigh, keeping his eyes averted.
"It's rather hot, Sir," he begins, knowing his cuffs and collar are damp, his reddish-gray hair is mussed, and he probably doesn't look as "presentable" as Master would like. He looks a bit stricken.
Greg stares at the man - he'd long since stopped thinking of Michael as a slave, though Michael still seemed to think of himself as such. He wouldn't think of hurting him, not after all the evidence Doctor Watson had presented.
But - the good doctor had also said, with Michael's hands encased in plaster for those weeks, that he'd have basic needs that would have to be attended to. The past few days, Michael has been rather stubborn about needing any sort of assistance.
The most he'd asked Greg for was assistance with his buttons.
"Sorry Sir - I -"
Hands, slightly rough - as he'd expected - grasp his wrists and this time he belatedly realizes he didn't flinch at all.
Sir is waiting, and slowly he raises his head. Greg's eyes have gone very dark, and Michael glances down at the evidence of the growing bulge underneath the thin fabric.
"Do you control the weather?" He can almost feel the warm-coolness of breath against his face, though Master isn't quite near enough for that.
"No, Master. Sir." He remembers to correct himself, but Master doesn't seem to notice at all.
He watches as Greg glances him over, but it's not quite the way that Anderson or any of his friends have looked at him before.
It's wanton, yes, but - there's a caution.
Master doesn't want to hurt me, his mind supplies readily, and his skin buzzes with the thought.
A palm caresses his cheek, and he lets out a pleased sigh.
"This won't do much to cool off," Greg breathes, tones rough with desire.
A smile breaks on his face. Michael doesn't care one bit of the heat.
"Michael," says that same, rough tone, predatory but in a bit of the way that causes a shiver as a drop of sweat runs between Michael's shoulder blades. Greg inches nearer, and the redhead inhales the sweet-spicy scent that just is Greg. "I think you're in dire need of assistance."
He swallows and nods wordlessly. Oh God, yes.
Chapter 12: Twelve
With some difficulty, because of his bandages and the casts on his hands, the slave kneels, head bent, slowly touching his Master's legs.
Master sighs. Good. He's doing the right thing so far. If he expects any assistance with his own issues, he has to please Master first.
Even if he's not very good at it. Ugly. Doesn't make Master pleased at all...
Master is taking off his shoes, toeing off his socks. Yes. This.
This is his purpose. What he's been trained for, and Master is perfect for this.
He tries not to allow the casts to bump too roughly, rather using them as...
"Michael..." Greg breathes, yet it's an order. He snaps to attention.
"Yes, Sir, sorry Sir."
"No, no, it's..." the telltale bob of the adam's apple. Master...wants? "It's fine." The pupils are darker still. Predatory.
He shivers. Yes. This is what he wants.
Master tugs on his hand, "I think this would work better in...erm, somewhere more comfortable?"
"Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir." He has to have some assistance to stand, and suddenly there is a gentle touch to his cheek, a thumb angling his chin upwards...
A warm pressure against his lips. Master is kissing him.
There is ... what is it? Michael doesn't know, but it's not scary.
He was… content with the Inspector. Lestrade didn’t beat him, didn’t mistreat him or violate like Anderson had.
But this, he wasn’t sure how to handle this.
He wanted to stay with Lestrade, not simply because Sherlock would be safest if Michael - if 1-8-9-3 didn’t have a brother.
"You can say no if you...want." Greg is pulling away...
"No...I..." he kisses his Master's lips. "I want...it, sir.”
Greg pulls Michael’s arm, trying to shake a bit of sense into him. “Do you really want this?”
“I’ve never - I’ve never wanted anyone like this in my life, sir.” The confession is quick, honest.
Though, in the deep recesses of Michael’s mind, it might not actually be consent. He is not sure what he wants anymore.
Greg realizes that pushing such fragile trust may result in the poor slave feeling worthless and rejected.
And their society doesn’t really have laws. Greg's made the laws here.
Master is pulling him closer, rubbing against him, yes... Master will be gentle. He won't hurt me, Michael thinks; then wonders why he thinks he is being so naive about it.
He's guiding the slave to his rooms. The rooms he's never entered.
But Michael's nearly too occupied with meeting the delicious taste of his Master's lips to notice.
It's ... it's nice, it's a rather pleasant shade. Calming, though not falsly so or screaming wealth as Anderson's...no - he is putting the horrid man out of his mind.
"Lay back," Master instructs, the move almost like that as though he's just declared his vows and married his slave - about to conssumate the arrangement... no. He's a slave. A slave to service his Master's purposes.
He must seem fearful, or perhaps he's shuddered, because Master's next words are gentle, caressing the pale skin that is blushing pink.
"I'm not going to hurt you. You just...relax, alright?"
He tries to appear relaxed, settling onto the soft bed. Why does Master torture him so? Won't it get worse?
But then there's rough, gentle fingers trailing down his chest, half-bandaged, half-scarred. Bending down to kiss a rather twisted one, then Michael's lips.
"I suppose that you haven't been told in sometime, that you're beautiful."
He almost sobs from the sensation. What's Master going to do with him?
Chapter 13: Thirteen
Master -no. Greg. Greg pulls back, and he feels lost. "I'm sorry, I-"
"No it's -" Michael swallows, "It's fine." Nobody's been this tender, without the intent to use - as simply a toy, an object for some time.
Master smiles and kisses him full on the lips again, leaning to suck on that place just by his ear and Michael closes his eyes, actually relaxing. Consenting.
Master's hands trail down his sides, kissing some of the more visible scars. Michael shudders. They apparently aren't as repulsive as Michael thought, and there is something soothing about the motion, still it is almost too much, too many sensations associated with damaged clumps of nerves and skin.
"Too much?" Greg asks, and for a moment the Slave doesn't answer. "Too much," he agrees with his own statement.
Michael should feel insecure. He should want to push his Master away to beg him not to do this. But he doesn't. He's - he actually likes this, a little, as though he were adored by someone. Worshipped.
He swallows when Master's fingers brush against his length. "I bet you haven't had attention in some time," Greg murmurs.
He opens his eyes, shaking his head 'no'. Not the sort he wanted anyway. He raises his weighted hands, supplying an apologetic look. I'm sorry. Broken. Damaged...
"Don't worry about me, Michael," Though Greg does loosen his trousers a bit. He continues to kiss down the Slave's body - and then Michael realizes what he's about to do. It's not...it's not what Masters do. Masters don't use their hands - or mouths for that matter to get their Slaves properly satisfied. The Slave is supposed to be grateful for his Master's attentions and then care for himself.
But he doesn't protest. But Master takes him in hand instead - sort of a pleasant surprise of rough, gentle fingers. Michael inhales sharply. It's good, not an unpleasant sensation.
"Relax," Greg murmers gently, and Michael obeys, almost without effort. "I'm not going to hurt you - and if I do, you stay stop, alright?"
Michael won't. He has a rather high tolerance, but he nods anyway. Anything to please Master. But he might. He'd give some indication that it hurt.
Slow smooth strokes, Yes, there. That's it. His brow furrows in concentration, and he can hear Greg working - both hands at once.
"Shouldn't I -" Michael begins to ask, but he's interrupted by a kiss and another set of strokes, increasing in speed. His breath hitches at the sensation.
Master's right. He hasn't had this in a long time. He never thought he'd feel pleasure without the shame of forced sensations again - and it's not like his former Master ever wanted to touch him unless it served his purposes.
It's not quite like touching himself, but - it's wanted.
The fingers stagger, and Michael gasps as the nerves misfire, overly sensitizes with just how skilled it is.
"I didn't think you'd appreciate a more intimate guesture yet," Greg says, that rough tone in time with the motions of his fingers, as he trails down to cup Michael's glans, watching as his slave tenses. "A part of you still expects to be hurt, yes? Not that I - I don't want you. I promise I won't."
Michael's eyes widen. Master wants him? It sounds different, the implications are different.
"I don't want to scare you - just. Tell me to stop."
He shakes his head, a rare act of defiance. "No, sir." He licks his lips.
Fuck, Greg thinks, taking a swallow of air. His cock twitches itself in response. Michael is...beautiful like this, practically offering himself. He may be trained to act this way, but...that defiace. Somewhere he has his own mind outside of his Master's will - and therefore is
"You don't scare me. I-you say you won't hurt me, then. You won't." He places his hand, shaking slightly - over his..,Master's hand. Please. Continue.
Greg smirks and his strokes go faster. Michael arches his back, thrusting with an eagerness that he hasn't felt in quite some time.
It doesn't take as long as Michael expected, and he almost expected it to last longer. Somewhere in the fizzy brightness of color he manages one cognitive thought:
Master loves me.
If he were capable, he'd be brought over the edge again, at his Master giving himself a few quick thrusts in getting himself off, then curling against Michael's shoulder in their combined mess. It is too simple, far too simple - Michael thinks there is more. There is more Master wants - just not. Not right away.
Master loves me.