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Within You (Without You)

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Chapter 1


[Text received: 12 June, 2012, 11:34 am]
    -This course of action is unwise. I don’t believe you’ve considered all the ramifications.

[[Text received: 12 June, 2012, 11:40 am]

[Text received: 12 June, 2012, 11:45 am]
    -Too late. Be ready, Mycroft.- SH

[Text received: 12 June, 2012, 11:45 am]

I clutched my  tea, more than aware that my long fingers were shaking just slightly enough that the sweet, dark liquid moved in its china prison, shuddering against the edges of the cup.  At any other given moment, the fact that my attention was focused upon on one detail would not have surprised any of the few acquaintances that knew me. Even the small fleck of blood caught near the second-to-last finger on my left hand wasn’t particularly new. Yet my mind was a whirling dervish of blankness; a state completely foreign to me.

I knew that Mycroft  would have already noticed, calculated, and dismissed my reaction. Soon would come the gloating, or worse. Mild disappointment. Predictable.


It took the space of several heartbeats before I could move to set down the cup, reaching towards the table where my mobile sat, looking, as John would say, ‘rather the worse for wear,’ ready to text him with my observation. I knew that John would find it amusing. The smirk of John’s lips whenever I mentioned my older, endlessly interfering brother never failed to produce an equally amused expression on my own lips. My fingertips trembled on the Blackberry case before I froze, breath catching painfully in my throat. The screen was still cracked from where I had tossed it near Moriarty’s body.


Mycroft’s snide remark caused my already tense muscles to bunch further. The teacup clicked as I set it down, careful to keep my movements lazily serene, attempting to hide the agonizing clench of...

Well. Had I use for any descriptor that leaned towards the figurative, I would say it was my heart that clenched when the fact that I could no longer text John became brutally apparent to me.  That was more John’s area.

As of two hours and forty-three minutes ago, Molly had confirmed that I was now dead.

It would have been customary of me to just glare my frustration at Mycroft, but as I was fully aware that I was not, in fact, currently successful at hiding any of my reactions the effort seemed too much work.

“I believe that you are fully aware of my... reservations of this scheme of yours, Sherlock.”

I jumped up, suddenly suffused with energy.  “It is much too late for you to tell me ‘I told you so.’ Really, I would think that you’d got that out of your system by now.” My mind was still frozen, numb with the enormity of my actions. I could still hear the break in John’s voice---

“No. No, he’s my friend. He’s my friend, please.”

My hands curled into fists.

“If your contact driving the lorry had been even the slightest bit late...”

I huffed out an annoyed breath. “Yes. Yes, I am aware. The rumours of my death would have not been nearly as exaggerated. Really, I would prefer that we end with this ridiculous conversation.” The abrasiveness of needing to converse with Mycroft instead of our usual method of either text or deducing entire conversations with a few glances weighed on me. Even more infuriating was the fact that Mycroft was several steps ahead of me, having already decided that in this... altered... state my brain would be no match for his. He was compensating for my weakness.

I turned, gaze jumping from the rush of pulse in Mycroft’s throat, to the way his umbrella was nowhere in evidence. His umbrella. Why wasn’t it here? The scuff mark on his otherwise immaculate shoe, the two pulled threads on the fine material of his trousers fairly screamed the answer, now that my hard drive was slowly coming back online again.

Of course. He’d been texting. Intent on an eye-witness account of what I had done. The lorry driver’s answer had caused Mycroft to stumble on the kerb, a move so completely out of character that his assistant hadn’t been able to grab him in time to stall the awkward movement.  His shoe had scraped against the pavement. His trousers had caught on the door’s mechanism when he threw out his hand to catch himself. Yes. slight discoloration on the palm where he’d caught his substantial weight against the lip of the door. Why hadn’t she been able to stall his near-fall?  She too had been startled by the uncharacteristic way her boss had been acting.  Her hand had slipped from its customary touch on Mycroft’s elbow, leaving a small grease stain from her earlier danish on the back of his suit jacket.  They had both been so discombobulated from Mycroft’s small lapse towards humanity that he had forgotten his umbrella in the back of the black car.


Mycroft was rarely alone. Even now, his eyes raked unsubtly over my form, looking for injury. The minions that were almost always hovering just out of earshot had been dismissed from the small study, leaving a shade of intimacy to our conversation that just wasn’t on. The signs of his distress fairly screamed at me, causing my furious pacing to stop, mid-step.  I wanted to smirk. My plan had gone off perfectly. Sleight of hand, smoke and mirrors. The dull masses did only see what they wanted to see.  Even Jo-

John. Oh, Bollocks.

I swallowed, blinking twice in rapid succession. My lips pulled down in a frown and I threw myself back down in the frankly embarrassingly ostentatious chair Mycroft preferred for company, purposefully looking back down at my hands. The small fleck of blood caught my attention again and I reached into my borrowed dressing gown for the handkerchief Mycroft insisted upon, folded precisely over the edge of the pocket.  I scrubbed at the small spot of blood, knowing that Mycroft was no doubt drawing his own conclusions from my erratic behaviour and utterly, wretchedly unable to bring myself to care one whit.

I forced myself to calm. Sipped the tea. Ignored my cracked and broken phone.

The catch in John’s throat as he saw my blood-covered face played on an endless loop in my mind. While I made no attempt to claim that I had more than a passing knowledge with sentiment, my brain’s complete refusal to delete the broken note of John’s voice was somewhat worrying. I had rather a lot to accomplish after all. Still, I had never claimed that John was anything but endlessly distracting. Even now, he--


My hands tightened on the handkerchief. “I will need access to a safe house.  Laptop. Funds. Level three clearance.” Obvious. I jumped up again, twisting the small piece of silk through my fingers as I stared, unseeing, at my mobile as I paced. “Moriarty alluded to three snipers.  You claimed that one had already been apprehended at the Yard?” My voice rose in a question.

Mycroft jolted out of his reverie. That is to say, his left eyebrow twitched. Ponce. I could not decide if he was mocking me or simply being more blatant in his manipulations by his sudden onset of brotherly concern for my plan. After texting Moriarty, there had not been much time to put all of the pieces of my plan in place. I was willing to admit, privately, that without Mycroft’s assistance my suicide would have been much more broken and bleeding and much less smoke and mirrors. Still, he was bloody annoying. I flopped back down into the chair, wincing at the number of contusions that fairly sang their discontent at my movement.

“Yes. I have provided everything that you need, including video feeds of the sniper’s detainment.” Mycroft waved away my demands as though they were beneath him, a movement that utterly drove me mad.

I could picture John, my mind clearly defining each and every aspect of his compact frame. But I couldn't bring myself to say the words. This was vital. Necessary. John must stay safe. I would do anything, had done everything to assure that John was not touched by the long reach of Moriarty’s arm.  

When I was a small child, I had been convinced of my brother’s invulnerability. He was older than me. Cleverer than me (That particular belief was pure nonsense of course, but every child must be forgiven their little fantasies).  I had often been convinced of his omnipotence- at least until I had worked out how to deduce things at my own pace.  I was forcibly reminded of this when Mycroft leaned forward slightly, the pale, cold blue of his irises forcing acknowledgement of my own gaze. “He will be under constant surveillance, Sherlock. I will not allow him to come to harm.” He sat back slightly, the chair cushion making a muffled protest at the bulk of his body. “You must trust me.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Trust you to keep John safe? Don’t be any more ridiculous than you can help, Mycroft.  I trust myself to see that Moriarty's flunkies are quickly subdued. I trust you to provide me with everything that I will need to accomplish this task. John’s safety will not be compromised.”

I stood, walking quickly towards the door of the small flat. Mycroft had several safe houses, all hidden under different levels of security peppered all over London.  “I’m sure you can see yourself out.”  John would likely bleat that kicking one’s own brother out of his own flat was more than a bit not good. But I had had enough. There was much to do and I was positively itching to begin. Nearly everything that I needed was right here in Mycroft’s borrowed flat.

Sadly, however, it was blindingly undeniable that John was not one of those things. I flung myself back down on the ridiculously squashy chair, elbows resting on each arm so that I could steeple my fingers in my customary thinking position. John called it my ‘daft-looking brain worship pose,’ but I had long deduced the most efficient position to assure that the most optimal amount of blood flow to my brain, ensuring that it received the most oxygen. I put the thoughts of John out of my mind. Not to be deleted- I’d long discovered that attempting to delete anything pertaining to John Watson was an exercise in futility- but so that I would not be swimming in this foolish sentiment, the effects of which were still evident in my trembling hands and the higher-than normal heart rate.  From far away I could hear the small click of the door as Mycroft walked out of the small flat and once alone took a deep, shuddery breath. I reached for my tea again and forced myself to take a calming sip.  I had not... fully anticipated my reaction to faking my own death. Stupid, really. Unforgivably stupid.

John would be fine. He would go through the expected rituals of grief. He would mourn my death, possibly move from our flat... all expected. There was a high probability that his limp would reassert itself. There was an equally high probability that his grief would manifest in a need for closer companionship. Not his sister, at least not after her initial worry. Sawyer? No. The Morstan woman he had met at the coffee shop would most likely fill that desire. I blinked, remembering the way all her focus had been on John, even after he had spilled a good bit of her cappuccino over her table so that it was dripping across her expensive shoes. It had been utterly obvious from the flush on his skin that John shared her blatant attraction.

Without conscious action I found myself throwing the expensive china against the wall, tea splattering on the tasteful wallpaper like blood-spatter.  I stared at the mess, shocked at the violence of my actions.

More than a bit not good, that.


When John finally blinked awake, it was to a light shining directly into his eyes. He winced away, turning his head just enough that it wasn’t directly in his face. He could still see little dips and whorls of lights popping behind his hastily closed eyelids.

Turning his head was a mistake.

John groaned, swallowing the bile that jumped to his throat at the movement of his head. He started to bring up his hand to the stabbing pain behind his forehead, but found to his dismay that his hands were cuffed behind him. There was a muffled clunk of sound as the chain of the cuff knocked against the hard surface under him.

He groaned again, trying to blink the sweat out of his eyes. He could hear his own heavy breath echoing in the small space and forced himself to breathe a little more slowly. It wouldn’t do to panic. First. Remember. Breathe. Breathe.  John heard his deep, shuddery breath echoing in the unfathomable space behind his eyelids. He wasn’t quite sure he was brave enough to open his eyes and affirm exactly how fucked he was. John used the trick Ella had insisted he use after Sher-- No. Stop.   

Breathe in. Hold it. Count. One. Two. Three.

Exhale. Feel it outside of your lungs. One. Two. Three.

John did it again. And again, until the bright burst of panic started to recede. The nausea wasn’t exactly pleasant, but he could ignore the way it swam low in his gut. His head was the problem. The blurry vision and pounding headache told him a concussion was fairly bloody likely. John peeped one eye open, trying not to wince at how quickly his pupils reacted. It threw the rest of the small space in shadow.

Cautiously, John tried to sit up, mindful of his head. He had to press against the bottom surface with his shoulder in order to find the leverage to move. Even going as slowly as he was his stomach was not particularly thrilled with the movement and revolted again.  

This time, John grimaced, forcing himself not to sick up. God, he fucking hated to vomit. He wasn’t too fussed when it belonged to other people (John had pretty much gotten over that during his first residency), but when it was his own he-- he-- he really needed to think about something else.

“So. Small space. Not a room. Bit of give from shoulder to shoulder, so a bit more than a meter and a half?” John slumped to one side of the space, wincing back with a sharp gasp when he felt the heat that bubbled up against the hard surface of the wall. It didn’t burn him, but the startled jerk of his sore body made him lose the battle with his stomach. John heaved twice, bending as best he could so that he wouldn’t sick up on himself. He failed fairly spectacularly. John’s cracked head sent bright starbursts of agony through his clenched eyes as he retched helplessly, his fists curling into his thighs as his body shook through bringing up bile. John had been so intent on trying not to panic that he had not realized that he cracked a rib until he tried to expel his lungs through his oesophagus with dry heaving.

“Well, shit.” John spat, made a face and wiped his chin as best he could with his shoulder, turning away from the light so that he could better see. He’d managed to get sick in one of the corners, but his jeans weren’t exactly clean anymore. With his hands still cuffed behind him, it was difficult for John to gauge his own sense of balance, but he cautiously inched back until his fingers brushed against the back wall. His foot sent something clattering against the floor’s surface, and squinting, John tried to see.

Between the pounding of his head and the positioning of the light, it was extremely hard to focus. John sat with his back against the wall, rising up on his knees a little to test the distance. It was perhaps four feet from floor to ceiling, and John frowned down at his sick-spattered shoe, trying to force himself to think.

John couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here. Concussion? Amnesia? His vision wasn’t blurry- not with the fucking light of Righteousness shining down on him. He didn’t really feel dizzy, but he was more than aware that signs didn’t necessarily present right away. The vomiting and the headache weren’t looking so good though.  His headache was truly spectacular. John knew he was gritting his teeth together. That certainly wasn’t doing any wonders for the aching in his head, but he couldn’t seem to stop.

With his hands behind his back, John couldn’t shade his eyes from the bright glare of the light. Huffing out an annoyed breath, he turned to flop against the other wall, only to jerk back with a pained cry. “Fuck!” He bit his bottom lip, jerking back against the back surface with a dejected slump, his skin still stinging.  “A current? How the fuck is that even possible?” He wanted to rub his shoulder, and it really fucking pissed him off that he couldn’t.  It didn’t hurt exactly; rather it felt more like his skin was tingling, goosebumps almost crawling against each other on the corner of his acromion forward to the skin of his collar bone.

“You’ll find, dear doctor, that just about anything is possible if you want it badly enough.”

John managed to hide most of his flinch, but it was a near thing. The voice was loud enough to echo, warped by some kind of voice distorter. It was impossible to tell who was speaking. John waited, closing his eyes. The light was almost hurting now. He could still see the aurora from it, even with his eyes shut. “You must want me pretty badly.”

The voice laughed. “You have no idea. I am pleased that you’re awake though. I’m afraid my associate was a little too ...enthusiastic... when he captured the two of you.”

The two of-


John couldn’t help the way his eyes popped open. Memories swam at him all at once, an overwhelming tide that he was helpless to stop. He could see Sherlock’s expression as John’s words hit him, watching each flinch with on his former best friend’s pale face with something very close to satisfaction. John remembered the way he’d had to just leave the microscopic little flat, had thrown off Sherlock’s hand on his wrist so hard that Sherlock had stumbled back, tripping over his own two feet and landing square on his arse.  John had run downstairs then, fury giving him the speed he needed to stay ahead of his former friend and flatmate.

They’d been on him almost from the second he’d stepped out from under the bakery’s awning. John had been so wrapped up in his own emotions that he hadn’t heard the heavy step behind him.

“John! Behind--!”

There had been a cry and John had whirled, only to catch a glimpse of Sherlock sagging into the arms of someone, his ridiculously long frame almost folding in on itself. Sherlock must have been only seconds behind John. He hadn’t even heard Sherlock’s tread on the stairs. John’s heart had simply stopped in his chest at the sight of Sherlock collapsing without even a fight. Reflex had John taking a step forward, instinct sending him jerking away from the menace behind him as his assailant swung the - had to have been a pipe of some sort. A bat perhaps. A two-by-four for all that John knew. He’d only felt the bright starburst of pain at the back of his skull before he blacked out.

The last thing he’d seen from eyes gone fuzzy was Sherlock’s bare feet as the two men threw him into the back of a lorry.

“Ah, I can see you know, little Johnny. What’s the matter? Feeling a little guilty for the lover’s spat? I can assure you that you have much more interesting things to worry about. Open your eyes, please.”

“Fuck off.”

The voice tsked. “John.” Just his name. A warning that sent his balls crawling into his gut with the menace that shone through, even through the voice distorter.

There was an electrical sort of whine and John froze for a second, nervously trying to place the sound. A generator? Older model, like some of the dinosaurs he’d had to count on to provide electricity to his operating tents in Afghanistan. The shock of it caused him to cautiously squint open one eye. The light had been turned down. It was still bright, but not nearly as intense. Blinking, John opened both eyes.

What he saw sent him scrambling forward, all his fury forgotten at the sight of the monitor.  Now that the light was not so bright, John could see that the far wall of his box was actually made of a thick plastic (glass? no way to tell) material. He could see directly through it to the flat-screen monitor behind it. The light was also behind the glass, which explained why he hadn’t felt any heat from such a bright source of light.  John licked his lips, not even noticing the sour taste in his mouth as he stared at the monitor, his heart rate skyrocketing.

The monitor showed that Sherlock was sprawled out on a floor. He was bleeding from a head wound. There was no way to see if he was alive or not. The camera panned back to show a stark room, concrete walls and a cheap lino floor that could have been anywhere.  The only way John knew it was real was from the marks on Sherlock. The marks he’d put there. That rip in the seam of Sherlock’s t-shirt was from John’s hands clutching it. The trousers were the same ones Sherlock had worn for almost a week, switching out only with the pyjamas.

“Yes, as you can see you’re not the only one we have here. So I expect you to be on your absolute best behaviour, Doctor. Because trust me. I can make this stay extremely unpleasant. For the both of you.”

John didn’t even realize that he had scrambled to his knees until his clammy forehead pressed against the cool glass. Sherlock. Oh fuck, Sherlock. The camera, as though attuned to John’s inner scream of anguish, zoomed in on Sherlock’s pale, still face. Sherlock’s lips twitched slightly, his nose wrinkling up in the way John had seen hundreds of times before. John heard a strangled sob and realized that it had come from his own throat at the realization that Sherlock wasn’t dead. He was alive.

The camera cut off with an abrupt flash of a snow, like a television station that had gone off-air.  “No! Sherlock!”

“Now, now Doctor. None of that. Best make yourself comfortable, really. You’re likely to be staying here for quite awhile.”

John blinked, staring hard at the monitor as though he could make it come back on through his own willpower.  Sherlock was alive. Sherlock had been taken, kidnapped when John had been. But Sherlock wasn’t dead. Wasn’t-- His mind flashed on Sherlock’s broken, bloody, twisted from on the pavement at Bart’s and he couldn’t help the way his face crumpled for just a moment.

He took a deep, shaky breath. Another. Breathe in. Hold it. Count. One. Two. Three.

Exhale. Feel it outside of your lungs. One. Two. Three.

Slowly John moved back to his former position. When the light cut out completely, he kept himself from reacting simply by reminding himself that he had an audience. He would not be this sick fuck’s entertainment.  Best to play along for the time being, see what he could see. John wouldn’t be doing anything foolish with the threat of Sherlock being held over his head. That particular Sword of Damocles was not going to fall, not if he had any say in the matter.

The trouble was... John was not all that confident that he had any say in the matter at all.