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"Is there really no way that I can change your mind, Mr. Holmes?"

No.

There's not.

Is he going to continue to push despite this fact? Yes, he is, but frankly Mycroft expects nothing less from the cretin.

Mycroft flicks his gaze up from his mobile to the man, his eyebrows narrowed slightly. Inwardly he flicks his gaze up to the ceiling in annoyance and releases a strain of breath as he tugs at his hair. On his exterior, he does nothing but merely release a slight breath through his nose and click his mobile off. How can this man not see reason? How many times is he going to persist with this before it finally clicks between the rather empty space between his ears that nothing he can do is going to make Mycroft say yes to his proposal?

James Michaels, standing on the other side of the desk bristles and folds his arms across his chest. His face is blank and enough to assure any other man that he's emotionless about Mycroft's response, but he's not. His disbelief and anger is clear and his thick unkempt mustache (something that would drive his PA to her wits end for certain) is twitching.

Changing Mycroft's mind is not something that can be swayed in the slightest. He refuses to support this man's suggestion and there is little on this good Earth that will change that. Can he not see that?

Michaels's fists are pressed together tightly. He's losing what precious little patience he has and Mycroft can't say he's very sympathetic to his plight.

"I believe so, yes." Mycroft agrees and flips his gaze back to his mobile. A representative from Canada is working with him through a hunting problem in the country and even as mundane as it is, it is more pressing than this man's irritating attempt to get Mycroft to sway to his side of this.

He's not going to. This is Mr. Michaels third attempt, and despite his admirable endeavor, Mycroft has no plans to be swayed. Michaels would have better luck attempting to get his desk into agreeing with him than Mycroft.

Mycroft begins to prepare a text to send back to the Canadian official, but a hand slams down on the ebony wood of his desk and Mycroft flicks his gaze up to Michaels, mildly irritated. The wood is expensive and he has no desire to have it repaired or replaced. The man is violent prone, he realizes suddenly, reacts quickly with destructive force with frustrated. One of the reasons his son refuses to associate with him.

Mycroft flicks his gaze up to the red face.

It takes him a second to realize that the man is speaking: "Your vote can sway most of the others, you hold the tipping balance, Mr. Holmes and I need this bill to pass."

Ah, yes, he does, doesn't he? Losing money to gambling and his hands shake from his recent forced intoxication from alcohol. He wants this to pass because it will profit him thousands of dollars. The debts he's worked himself into over the last few years are hanging over his head, but can be solved if this passes.

Pity he had to solve it so stupidly.

"The rest of the society does not." Mycroft replies cooly.

Mr. Michaels looks flabbergasted. "This is for them!"

Indeed.

Mycroft sets his mobile onto the table and clasps his fingers together, "Yes, certainly." His voice is thick with derision.

Michaels releases a frustrated noise, "Mr. Holmes—"

"I have no intention of changing my mind any time in the future, so you may stop your efforts to convince me otherwise, James. Kindly remove yourself from my office." Mycroft requests, his eyes narrowing slightly at the words.

Michaels pulls his hands back from the wood and though his eyes are heated, he manages to stay his tongue. He adjusts the obnoxious blue hat on his head and his small eyes thin, "I'll make you change your mind. You will be voting for this."

"Of that I highly doubt." Mycroft says tonelessly.

Michaels turns and walks from the room after calling over his shoulder: "We'll see, Mr. Holmes, we will see."

000o000

It's not the words she's rapidly speaking that startles him from the half awake state, but the tone. Hissed and panicked as if she's being held at gunpoint and has less than a minute to tell him everything. More likely, it's pacing up and down the length of the room as she only does when she's truly agitated. Her words hardly make sense to his sleep addled mind, but the tone does and he can process it blearily into something is wrong.

John sits up on the mattress straighter, lifting the mobile to his ear closer that he honestly can't recall picking up and attempts to shake the sleep from his limbs. It's barely three in the morning, Rosie finally just went to sleep and he's barely gotten an hour at this point—he's exhausted. His eyelids feel raw and strangely dry as he attempts to blink them open to help get his mind up to speed.

The phone ringing had startled him from his deep sleep, but surprisingly not Mary. He can distantly remember cursing whoever it was on the other line and promising himself that if it was Sherlock that the detective could deal with it (whatever "it" is) by himself and he was either not going to answer or answer to hang up. It wasn't. Mrs. Hudson doesn't often use her mobile preferring to make appearances in person and the sudden transition was weird and why he didn't recognize the number.

And she's still speaking to him. Focus.

Right.

John struggles to ground himself in the present and when he does, he immediately hears the rush of the landlady's words: "—and I'm just not certain what to do because you know how he is John, it really could be nothing and he'll be all over me in one of those dreadful moods, but I do worry—"

Worry. He. Sherlock.

What's the git done now?

Mrs. Hudson doesn't stay up so late; so whatever it is is likely impressive. The landlady needs the sleep for her hip and he knows that she doesn't wait up for Sherlock (when John first moved in with him, she would, but after some sort of conversation about sleep that John can barely pick details up on anymore that Sherlock and she had, she had stopped)—so she was likely awakened by him.

"Mrs. H.?" John interrupts, his voice slurred with sleep, but purposefully quiet. He doesn't want to wake Mary, who has spent just as much time these last days dealing with Rosie's sudden fits as he has, but it's difficult because his wife is hypersensitive to all noise. Not as badly as Sherlock is, but it's close.

John struggles to his feet to exit the bedroom as Mrs. Hudson goes quiet on the other end of the line, waiting for him to speak. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch most of that. Rosie's kept me up most of the night." He admits. He reaches the kitchen and rubs at his eyes to clear them of the blurriness. It doesn't help much, but it keeps them from slipping shut and him falling asleep on his feet.

Rather than make a comment on the adorableness of young children like John is half expecting, Mrs. Hudson seems to ignore it completely. "It's Sherlock." She announces, and John hears her shift slightly. Definitely pacing, then.

John pauses, then bites at his tongue flicking his gaze to the clock again. Two-twenty-six. His idiotic best friend couldn't have waited until four or five hours from now to get into whatever it is he's messed with this time? John swears, if he blew up another dangerous chemical in his face he's donating everything remotely sciencey to the nearest elementary school.

"Case?" John guesses, shifting to lean against the countertop, shaking his head slightly. Wake. Up.

"No," Mrs. Hudson shoots down swiftly, "he's gone."

Gone.

Gone?

John's eyebrows lower slightly and his fingers drum against the granite top. "'Gone'?" He repeats. Mrs. Hudson is as well versed in Sherlock's habits as he is—if not more (the woman is practically a second mother to the man)—she's well aware when Sherlock missing is concerning or annoying.

Judging from her tone, it's the former.

John shifts in the kitchen, attempting to locate the keys for his and Mary's car. His fingers scramble across the countertop, but fail to locate the metallic objects. This is a lot harder in the dark. Mrs. Hudson makes a slight noise, "I know that he's always going out or vanishing for days, but usually I know where he is. He never leaves me guessing, but now I've got no ideas and—and—"

"Mrs. Hudson, what happened?" John questions, his hand reaching towards the tabletop and patting it down until the familiar weight of the keys finally slips between his fingers. He shoves them into his pajamas pockets and turns back towards the hall leading towards his and Mary's bedroom. He stops in the doorway hesitating at the realization that he is going to be waking Mary after all.

He almost misses when Mrs. Hudson begins speaking again: "I was just sleeping down stairs, Sherlock hasn't had a case for a few days now and I'd finally gotten him to lay down and get him to sleep. He's usually up pacing or moving around at all hours of the night and day so the silence bothered me a bit. It left me more aware than I normally am—you know how those herbal soothers make me tired—and I heard this strange thump from upstairs. I didn't think much on it and I tried to go back to sleep, but there were further sounds from the floorboards and what sounded like multiple feet—I was frightened so I didn't dare move.

"When it settled, I grabbed my broom and went upstairs to find out what mess Sherlock had made this time, but the entire flat was empty. The windows were opened, but I couldn't find any signs of where he'd gone and—oh...John, I think someone took him."

What?

A slight noise escapes him at the revelation and Mary shifts on the bed, her eyes blinking open. She tilts her head towards him and her expression furrows with confusion. Took him. Took him? It's not the first time that Sherlock's been kidnapped in the length of time that John has known him (and he doubts it will be the last), but that doesn't make it any less pressing.

There was no case. Mrs. Hudson said that he didn't have a case. When Sherlock has gone missing in the past, there has always been a case.

Sherlock hadn't had one for days.

Why was he taken?

"Do you have an suspects?" John inquiries, moving into the room as Mary sits up on the bed and stares at him, question quiet but present. John tilts his head towards her and mouths 'Sherlock' before turning his attention back towards the mobile.

"No." Mrs. Hudson says, her voice cracking, "John, I'm not certain what to do and I had a fit before I remembered I could call you and—"

"Hey, hey," John soothes, "we'll find him. I'm sure nothing's wrong and he'll be back to irritating all of us in a couple of hours. Have you called Greg?"

"No." Mrs. Hudson admits. John bites back a groan of frustration at this.

"Mycroft?"

"You were the first person I thought to call." The landlady says a moment later and John frowns, chewing on the inside of his lip before sighing slightly. Right. This is fine. At least someone knows.

"Alright. Call Greg and I'll get in contact with Mycroft, with any luck we'll have this solved in a few hours. I'll come to Baker Street as soon as I can." John promises. He hears Mrs. Hudson nod on the other side of the phone, but her voice is shaky as she answers: "Yes. I'll do that."

John wishes he could see her expression or at least give her shoulder a quick squeeze for comfort. "Good. Thank you for calling me, we'll get this sorted." He assures and pulls the phone back to end the call. The sudden silence fills him with dread and he hisses through his teeth in it's wake. This is not good, he sincerely hopes that Sherlock is just off wandering the streets or something of the sort so when he arrives at 221B he can whack the taller man over the head in frustration. Mary rises to her feet and comes to stand next to him resting a hand on his shoulder.

"What's wrong?" She queries, glancing at his face and studying it.

"Mrs. Hudson thinks Sherlock's been kidnapped." John admits and stuffs his phone into his pocket as he moves towards their closet, "I'm going to go help sort things out after I give Mycroft a call. He probably just got called in by a client and needed to leave in the most dramatic way possible."

While it's not improbable, based on what Mrs. Hudson said, it seems like the least likely. They both know it, but Mary laughs anyway. In the dark he can't see her expression, but he catches as her hands wring slightly. "I'll stay here with Rosie." She offers and John mentally kicks himself. He'd almost forgotten about their daughter, honestly. They can't leave her unattended. John glances at the adjoining room where their daughter is currently, remarkably, sleeping soundly for the first times in days.

"Yeah." He agrees, "I'll text you updates and you can come in if you feel like it's needed, that sound good?"

"Yeah," Mary agrees and her lips curve down further. She's quiet a moment before asking: "Do you think that Mrs. Hudson is right?"

John pauses, and glances back at his wife. His shoulders slump slightly, "I don't know."

John's lips thin and Mary's frown deepens. Both of them are silent before John lifts his mobile up. "I'm going to call Mycroft." He announces. Mary makes a humming noise of agreement, moving towards the dresser.

John flips his mobile on and scrolls through his contacts until he finds the desired number and presses call. Sometime since Sherlock's return from the dead, he was given Mycroft's private number instead of Anthea's and it's been strange to have him pick up quickly and directly instead of having to wait for Anthea to reroute him to her boss. John holds it close to his ear as he begins to trek across the room, hunting for clean clothing. Laundry day hasn't hit yet and he and Mary missed it last week because they both had to work, but Rosie was being fussy for the rest of the night so neither got a chance to tackle it. Usually, both John and Mary can stand messes so everything within their power is used to keep the house cleansed of it. After Rosie's birth their strict observance of this has waned slightly.

Hence: John has to hunt for a pair of clean socks that he knows are present somewhere in the room while simultaneously trying to find a shirt and locate the shoes he doesn't know where he put. The mess reminds him of 221B when Sherlock is on a case and the thought fuels him forward faster because someone might have taken Sherlock.

The phone rings four times before it's answered and a brisk voice on the other line asks: "What?" Mycroft sounds tired, but the clipped tone assures him that John's call is not welcomed, but an annoyance. John mentally bites his tongue and softly rolls his eyes as Mary locates the lightswitch and flicks it on.

The light makes him squint in pain, but the brightness is exceedingly helpful.

"Did you by chance send Sherlock off on some classified mission again?" John questions and mentally gives a triumphant cry as he locates the socks on the dresser.

There's a moment of silence on the other end of the line. "No." Mycroft answers, his voice is thinner this time and if John hadn't known him for as long as he has, he would have completely missed the edge of slight worry. John bites his tongue at the sinking sensation that settles into his stomach. He'd hoped, stupidly, that it was some sort of misunderstanding. Mycroft pauses, then appends: "Is there a reason for this questioning?"

John's teeth dig further into his tongue until he tastes blood, but he forces himself to plow forward. There are only a handful of instances where John has had to call Mycroft for assistance in the past, and the country-wide search that seems to happen in minutes is as impressive as it is frightening. John mentally plays with his words for a moment before simply deciding on being blunt: "Mrs. Hudson thinks he was kidnapped."

Mycroft is quiet another second, and then asks through what John is fairly certain is gritted teeth: "I see. Is she certain?"

Yes. Enough to be at the point of tears. John holds back the comment and instead replies: "Yeah, I'm on my way over to see if I can find anything."

"I'll look into it." Mycroft states tonelessly before the line clicks dead and John is left to holding his clean socks and the sound of silence. John pulls the phone back from his ear and turns back to Mary who is holding a fresh pair of clothing in one hand and his shoes in the other.

John is filled with a rush of admiration for the woman and leans forward to peck her on the cheek and take the offering. "Ta. I'll be back in a few hours."

Mary nods, "Text me." She requests and John nods as he moves to the bathroom to change clothing. Three minutes later his shoes tied, keys located, and a jumper on, John exits the house with a final kiss to Mary and a goodbye to Rosie to begin his trek to the scene.

000o000

When he arrives at 221B roughly twenty minutes later, Greg is already present; his car parked and lights flashing. There's about three other officers of Greg's wandering around that John can immediately see and he notices a handful of Mycroft's men from Anthea's presence next to the flat.

Mrs. Hudson is standing outside, a dressing gown wrapped over her nightgown and talking with Greg and Anthea, her hands flailing widely. John jogs towards the group and manages to pick at a bit of their conversation before he reaches them:

"—it really was such a strange sound, I've heard him drop things all the time, but…" Mrs. Hudson trails. Greg scribbles something down as Anthea rapidly types on her blackberry.

"Do you know what time this was?" Anthea questions without looking up.

Mrs. Hudson's gaze flickers with thought for a moment, "A little after one."

Both nod and John reaches them. Mrs. Hudson's expression flickers with relief and she takes a step forward to wrap her arms around John tightly. John returns the embrace and releases her a moment later, staring at her face. Other than a little pale, she doesn't look injured or harmed, which John presses his lips together with relief at.

"John, thank you for coming." Mrs. Hudson says.

John nods, "Course." He assures and turns to Greg; Anthea's nose is stuffed into her phone and John doubts he'd be able to get any information (even if she likely has more than Greg) from her. "Any luck?"

Greg's head rocks back and forth slightly, and John notices that the edges of his eyes are tight. "We found signs of struggle in the bedroom and this." Greg lifts up a syringe in an evidence bag that John reaches for and takes staring at it. He can't see a color on the liquid inside, but he does note that it's completely empty. "Anderson's thinking a sedative."

Oh, he's here? John hums slightly and hands it back to Greg. "Do you have any suspects?"

Please, please, please.

Greg shakes his head, "None. Sherlock wasn't working a case, from the Yard or otherwise."

Brilliant.

"He was experimenting with human hair, it smelled just foul." Mrs. Hudson inputs. John grimaces for her sake. Seventy percent of Sherlock's experiments are either odorless or ignorable, but there is the rearing thirty percent that could shock a heart back into pumping from the fetidness of it. John was never privy to those and often volunteered for longer shifts until Sherlock cleared the mess out. Hair was always one of those that fell into the thirty percent.

John turns to Anthea, who is texting rapidly. Likely to Mycroft. "I'm assuming since you're here Mycroft couldn't find anything." John guesses.

Anthea flicks her gaze up to him, eyes wide as if surprised that he is speaking to her. Her eyes flit between them all for a moment before she lowers her phone and gives a slight shake of her head. "CCTV cameras were disabled and the entire system had an unplanned update at that time. As far as they're concerned Sherlock hasn't left the flat yet."

John frowns.

Perfect.

A cold feeling is wrapping around his stomach and refusing to release pressure. Anthea clears her throat slightly before continuing: "His security detail was found unconscious fifteen minutes ago and his mobile is in the flat."

John's expression furrows slightly. Mobile. What does a phone have to do with this? Sherlock often trades in and out in a case because the data can be traced, but he never leaves location on or anything like it with his actual mobile. Still. The way Anthea said this was like there was something attached that John should be aware of and is an idiot for not knowing so.

"Mobile?" John presses.

Anthea blinks at him this time and gives him a very Holmes's like stare before elaborating: "It was the only form of tracking he agreed to."

That...makes a great deal of sense. Sherlock would often forget the gun and run off to some place or another without a care in the world and John would have to grab the weapon and drag his sorry butt back to the flat after they both chased some sort of criminal around or trapped them. Sherlock never worried about getting kidnapped or killed (for himself) because he knew that Mycroft would take care of it.

The two of them are always going off about how 'caring is not an advantage' or something along the lines of how sediment is the curse of existence, but the trust and protectiveness they have for and over each other is unparalleled.

"So basically," Greg states, drawing John back to the present, "we have confirmation of his disappearance, but no leads on what happened after he left the flat."

Yup, that sums it. If Sherlock were here, he'd give one of those knowing smirks and then point to some speck of dirt none of them bothered to think twice about and solve the case from that. Unfortunately, they don't have Sherlock and they have no reasons for him to be missing at this time.

Is it someone attempting to take revenge? John has barely known Sherlock for four years, (two if you remove the years he was dead) and the men and women he put behind bars wasn't a small number. He'd been working with Greg for five years before John met him.

John flicks a gaze up to Greg, "Revenge case?" He guesses.

Greg's eyebrows furrow, "It's not impossible. There are a few people that he helped solve the cases for that weren't put in prison for life. I can look into it." Greg says and jots something down on his yellow notepad.

"Oh dear," Mrs. Hudson breathes and her hands come up to cover her mouth. "You don't think they're going to…?"

John's stomach plummets rapid and abruptly. Kidnapping. He hadn't even made the connection to the fact that this may be a murder. Killing Sherlock in 221B would be obvious, messy and leave evidence for the police to work with. If he was dragged off somewhere else and they could hide the body…

"No." Greg says firmly, his eyebrows furrowing together with his conviction to the statement. "I don't think anyone would be that brash. I'll look into the police reports, see who was released we can build up a suspect list from that."

Anthea's mobile chimes and she flicks her gaze to it, then blanches slightly. "Don't bother with it." She announces, and John recenters his focus from Greg to her. She lifts her phone for them to see the small text over. "Mycroft just received this:"

The text is small, but John's gaze is immediately drawn to it anyway. He picks the lines apart with ease, the anxiety in his stomach twisting from unease to horror: 'Mr. Holmes, I have him. You know what I want and you aren't going to see your beloved brother until I have it. Send your men scrambling, I'll enjoy the show. If you want you want your brother alive instead of his corpse, I'll be expecting a change in your vote Saturday. Chao.'

000o000

"He's your brother, Mycroft."

"I can't."

"They're threatening his death and you're dithering?"

"I cannot agree to the proposal...even at the cost of Sherlock's life."

"Bloody—" John bites at his tongue to hold back the rest of the cuss and whirls on the older Holmes, jerking his finger out, "he could die from this."

Mycroft's expression flickers with frustration and he leans forward on the desk hands clasping together. "Do you think I don't know that?" His tone is dangerous; level, but dangerous.

John doesn't care.

Mycroft has been unrelenting in his decision since John stormed into the private office four minutes ago, Anthea hot on his heels attempting to talk him out of it. Since they've entered, she hasn't said anything, but from her expression, John can see that she is indecisive on who she agrees with.

He can't believe this.

Mycroft isn't going to change his stupid vote four days from now and they may very well be dragging Sherlock's corpse away from his kidnapper: a older political man by the name of James Michaels, according to Mycroft and his resources. They traced the text back to the man with ease, but not much else than that.

This is stupid. They all know who's holding Sherlock and if Mycroft would just send someone after him (John would happily volunteer to pull information from Mr. Michaels) then they could get Sherlock. He refused when John offered stating "it is as mundane as it is useless". What is Mycroft expecting? Him to grab a sword and go on a quest to find the information on Sherlock's location, slaying a dragon in the process?

John shakes his head with disbelief. It's not even six yet, but this day is readily proving to be a grand mess. "Mycroft—" John starts again.

"No." His tone is firm.

John's teeth grit together and he can feel his control slipping. "Unlike you appear to be fine with, I don't want to see him dead. Are you seriously going to not agree with the stupid bill? What is the worst that can happen? Someone releases too many parking tickets?"

Mycroft's jaw is so taut that it looks painful. "I have explained this to you, Dr. Watson. I must place the needs of the country above my family."

John hisses slightly.

Anthea takes a step forward at this, her expression guarded. "Sherlock can last a few days, John; we'll put surveillance on Michaels and see if we can find him before then. But Mr. Holmes is right, he can't allow this forward, I'm sorry."

Unbelievable.

John stares between the two of them his fists clenching at his sides. Fine. He shakes his head with disgust. "I want to know if you find anything. Anything—and I still don't agree with this." He promises.

Mycroft's lips thin. "I know."

John storms from the room and closes the door softly, because somehow this feels more like a show of rebellion than slamming it would have been.

000o000

John spends every waking minute the next four days scouring for evidence on where Sherlock is with Greg and the rest at the clinic. They don't find anything. Mycroft's men are sent on a messy circle that leads nowhere and the only tips they receive are from Mycroft's educated guesses.

John forgets to eat unless Mary shoves it down his throat and survives off of mostly tea and coffee. His mind is frazzled and the building panic expands in his chest as the days pass.

They find nothing.

The cylinder is clean of fingerprints and a thorough search of the flat proves to be just as unhelpful.

During one of the brief moments at home with Mary and Rosie on the third day (almost four) since Sherlock's disappearance, the doorbell rings. John is on his feet a second later moving on auto pilot towards the door. Somewhere in the back of his mind he's quietly hoping it's Sherlock, expression annoyed and a line of complaints on his lips about the inadequate accommodations of wherever he was.

When he opens the door, however, Molly is standing on the porch, her hands clasped around her purse and expression pinched. His stomach sinks with disappointment, but he buries it as best he can.

"Molly." He says mostly by instinct on seeing her. She nods in greeting. "What are you doing here?" John mentally winces at the harshness of his tone and works his lips between his teeth.

"Mrs. Hudson sent me." Molly answers, hesitating before appending: "I was trying to get in contact with Sherlock because there was a weird injury in the morgue, but I…" she trials and John's stomach twists. Molly. He didn't even think to inform her of what happened over the last few days. She had no idea until now, which isn't fair.

"John," Mary calls behind him and he turns slightly at her voice, "that Molly?"

"Yeah." John answers. Mary appears at his side a moment later, Rosie in hand and smiles brightly at the woman. Molly attempts to return it, but it looks more like a grimace.

"Is it true?" She demands, "That Sherlock's...that is?"

Mary and John share an exhausted look, but Rosie picks that moment to give her squeaky attempt at a laugh and bury her head into Mary's shoulder. "Yes." John says and he backs away from the doorway, "Why don't you come in, I'll explain."

Molly pauses, but follows him inside.

Mary closes the door behind them both.

000o000

Molly leaves an hour later, looking as tense and wary as John feels. John watches her leave and runs an agitated hand through his hair. There's less than twelve hours until Mycroft votes on whatever it is that is more important than the death threat. Mycroft has not changed his mind since John last spoke with him yesterday and if Michaels remains true to his threat, Sherlock has twelve hours to live.

Oh, gosh, why can't they find anything!?

Where is he!?

Mary gives his shoulder a squeeze and John meets her eyes. Wide, red rimmed and exhausted, like him. Mary has helped with Greg as much as she can, but by all accounts Sherlock has simply dropped off the face of the Earth.

"He's going to be fine." Mary reassures.

John nods, but wishes he could bring himself to believe it.

000o000

"Sir, there's something we need to discuss." Her voice is tighter than she means for it to be, and despite her best efforts the anxiety is not staved off. Anthea mentally kicks herself for the lack of control, and bites heavily down on her tongue.

Anthea firmly presses her lips together, fingers wrapping around the blackberry in her hand and refusing to release. Her other hand is clenching the now warm vial so closely to her stomach; she won't be surprised if it leaves an imprint in her skin. She can't exactly fight this whether or not she means to. It's instinctive, and she knows that after a single spared flick of his gaze towards her, Mycroft has seen it. Agitation isn't something she's ever been able to hide from him and this time is no different.

Mycroft turns his head slightly towards her, lifting a single brow in inquiry.

Her mouth runs dry.

She's not supposed to be in here, and both of them know it. It's a private meeting between the higher ups in the British Government that are all frighteningly powerful, but only three are above Mycroft. They're discussing some sort of bill and whether or not it should be brought forth to Parliament and the Queen, and Mycroft does not agree with it.

This is the bill that Sherlock was taken for.

She can't remember the details suddenly, but she's fairly certain it has something to do with drug usage in hospitals and civilians. With his family's history, Anthea doesn't blame him for being against the proposal to make it more free to the public. The goal, she believes, is to assist with medication costs, but she doesn't think that will be what occurs, neither does Mycroft.

This is mostly a ploy from Mr. James Michaels to gain money from the profit the chaotic uproar of easier-to-reach drugs would create. Mycroft knows this. He knew it before Sherlock's disappearance and did all within his power to stop it. Michaels was not happy about it and reacted with this. Anthea is not certain if she should admire the man's audacity or strangle him for the same reason. With the vile between her fingers, she's leaning more towards the latter.

Forensics will not want the bottle back, they've taken what they need, but Anthea can't stop carrying it despite this.

She can feel all fifteen pairs of eyes on her and her stomach flips at the sensation, she is not used to being the center of attention, she usually works behind Mycroft and is not often needed to show herself in person. She should not be in here, but this is more pressing than her own needs.

"Can it wait?" Mycroft demands, his tone equally quiet, but it's sharp with annoyance. She can hear the barest edge of solicitude masked within it. "I'm occupied, Michelle."

Michelle.

Michelle?

She's Michelle today. Right.

Anthea's hand tightens around her blackberry and she chances a glance up towards the other men present. Two of the eleven others (discluding Mycroft) towards the far end look annoyed and as if her very presence is a curse to them. Both of the two amongst others are stroking their facial hair as if to calm themselves. Up towards the front where Mycroft is sitting most of the men are staring at the back of her head as if it will spontaneously burst into flames and let them resolve their discussion. Everyone else is pointedly not looking towards them.

One of the men that she has recently become drastically familiar with, Mr. Michaels, is also present at the table. His graying hair and receding hairline are swept back with more gel today than yesterday, but his mustache is still as untamed and disgusting as ever. Anthea has an aversion for facial hair as a whole, but unkempt facial hair is the bane of her existence. He's sneering at her, his brown eyes hardened.

There's something self-satisfied in his stance as well, as if he is perfectly aware (and he is) why Anthea has interrupted this meeting with such urgency.

Anthea turns towards her boss, forcing herself to focus on the matter at hand. "It concerns Asset Espy."

Mycroft's fidgeting hands still slightly, but if Anthea hadn't known the man for almost ten years now, she wouldn't have noticed it. They don't bring this particular topic up in public without code, via Mycroft's instruction. After so long of working with the man, she isn't surprised anymore—in fact, she hardly thinks on it as strange. It's the meaning of the code that makes Mycroft pause.

Asset Espy is Sherlock.

The vile in her left hand suddenly feels tainted. Disgusting. Wrong. Anthea buries a rouse of furthering frustration and flicks her gaze towards Michaels, her expression hardened. He looks amused at it.

Laugh all you want, you won't be doing it after Mycroft gets his hands on you.

Mycroft's full gaze meets her this time and his face is tight, "Give me ten minutes."

Anthea nods and carefully slips from the room quietly, leaving the men to their conversation.

True to his word, Mycroft barely slips over the ten minute mark and meets Anthea in the hallway, his expression tight and anxious. The rest of the room is filing out behind him, looking mildly irritated, but not wandering far. Mycroft called a break, then, not a close to the meeting.

He catches up to where she's anxiously standing in a few steps, "What? Did you find him?" Mycroft's voice is filled with hope and seems seeped of the exhaustion that has consumed him in the last four days as he's restlessly searched for the younger Holmes.

Anthea chews on her inner lip. No. They didn't. She wishes they would, but Michaels is evading their best and managing to lead them in endless circles. Enjoy the show he has, they have been completely useless in finding the detective.

"No sir," she admits, and she sees Mycroft's shoulders slump in a barely noticeable degree, "there was a package delivered to you this morning."

Mycroft pauses, "And?" He sounds hesitant.

Anthea's fingers wrap around the vile again. She digs her nails into her palms before forcing herself to drag the vile from her pocket and lift it into Mycroft's line of vision, outstretching the item to him. Mycroft's lips smack together sharply, but he makes no move to take it from her. The blood sloshes within the small container as she shifts it and the sight reals the bile forward again.

"It's Sherlock's," she says, having to focus to keep her tone even, "we had it tested."

Sherlock, who is missing.

Who is a pain in the butt on his best days, but one of her responsibilities and important beyond words to Mycroft.

Sherlock, who is being held by a man who is less than thirty feet from her, but she can't take a baton and whack his location out of him like she would really love to.

Disappearances happen often, Sherlock is a master of escaping their surveillance, but this…

This is different.

Unwelcomed.

Mycroft stares at the vile, his expression unreadable. This is unusual; Mycroft and her relationship has progressed to the point that he rarely leaves such guards for his emotions up around her anymore. She has learned to read him over time, but she can't piece together what his expression means. There's something haunted in it, however, and his fingers tighten around his umbrella's hilt.

He strides away from her without another word towards the meeting room and Anthea watches him, pocketing the vile with nearly a pint of blood again, something squeezing in her chest in growing trepidation.

The break is ended and five minutes later all the men exit the office, Michaels with a triumphant smirk plastered across his face and Mycroft with something close to a dazed horror. Anthea recognizes it for what happened and grits her teeth, pockets her phone and rests a hand on her boss's back and guides him across the room shooting Michaels a deathly stare as she does so.

He best hope he has adequate security for when this is over, it will at least give them a challenge.

When they enter the safety of Mycroft's office again, Mycroft releases an agitated hiss and tosses his umbrella towards one of the empty chairs. "I said I wouldn't, Andrea." He murmurs. Anthea hesitates, her fingers stilling between his shoulder blades; her birth name is rarely used between the two of them unless the situation is dire. Not that this isn't, but it's strange to hear it.

"I know." She murmurs and pushes him down onto one of the chairs. Mycroft sinks into it stiffly and Anthea finally pulls the vile from her pocket and rests it on Mycroft's desk. Mycroft buries his head into his hands.

"I—I wasn't supposed to agree—and—Sherlock…"

"I know." She agrees softly, "We'll find him, Sir."

Mycroft flicks his gaze up to her, strangely hopeless, "When? Are we going to be looking for his corpse? I can't—I can't..."

Anthea rests a hand on his shoulder and gives it a quick squeeze. She has nothing she can say except empty promises and white lies. Mycroft does not need to hear it as much as she loathes to offer it. Because the honest truth is that she doesn't know.

000o000

Whatever it is that Mycroft is working with (John has managed to pick up that it has something to do with drugs over the last few days) doesn't have a finalized date until two weeks from now where it will be brought to the Prime Minister and Queen, but Parliament is supposed to be voting on whether or not to take it up to them.

It passes.

John has no idea if he should be relieved that Mycroft slipped, or frustrated for the same reason. He's told in a rather crypt text from Anthea that Mycroft received a vial of Sherlock's blood this morning and Mycroft promptly voted for the petition. As sickening as it is, John is relieved. There's still a body to draw blood from.

Sherlock's head does not show up in a box that night, but neither does he.

The ransom promised Sherlock's return if Mycroft agreed, but it doesn't happen.

Nor does it happen the next day.

Or the day after that.

Or the following five days.

John's anxiety continues to grow to the point that he can barely focus, hardly sleeps and accidentally incorrectly tells one patient that they have food poisoning when it's really pneumonia and his boss sends him home early "to get his head sorted and some sleep."

John can't.

Until he knows where and how Sherlock is, he can't. He feels as if he's been severed a limb, but can't treat it because he lost his medical rights. A vial of blood. Nearly an entire pint according to Mycroft's minions. The thought is disgusting—John didn't see the vial, but the growing horror is worse.

If they took a pint simply to intimidate Mycroft then—are they really above the murder Mycroft seemed so confident wasn't going to happen?

000o000

There are only a handful of people that Mycroft works with (barely eight) who know he has a brother. A smaller amount with the knowledge of his living parents. It isn't something he flaunts around, discusses in annoyance as so many others seem to, nor does he loudly proclaim it outwards. If someone wanted to learn the relationship between the two of them, it would require digging, a great deal of digging and alerting the MI6 of their presence at least twice. It wasn't something easily accomplished on a boring weekend.

Most of his staff believes that Sherlock is some sort of security threat and they're keeping him in line by protecting him from everyone else. The head of Mycroft's security is aware of the truth, of course, but his men are not and Mycroft is content with that.

Mycroft isn't an idiot. He is completely aware the constant danger his position puts Sherlock in simply because they are related. The realization is likewise with his brother and his chosen career. There are more than a fare share of people who would use their relationship to their advantage and both of them went to great lengths to avoid it. He and his sibling have never gotten off well. They bicker, they fight and they punish each other relentlessly—as all siblings do—but this does not mean that they loathe each other past feeling.

His position in the government puts him at a constant risk for assassinations, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks on a daily—if not hourly—basis, but it hardly phases him anymore, it never did. Any of these terms turned to Sherlock's welfare and it immediately becomes more serious and he hates that Michaels went to such lengths to find this.

He knows what Michaels would have to do to find such information and it disgusts him how far he was willing to go to make Mycroft bend to his will—and it worked. The vial of his brother's blood presented in Anthea's palm was enough to send a flair of panic whipping through him unlike any he's felt in a long time.

Eleven days. It has been Eleven days since Sherlock's disappearance and they have still found nothing. John is going slightly mad with his anxiety and Mary looks to be close to following. Ms. Hooper has managed to keep a cool head, and D.I. Lestrade is pressed with a recent stream of murders to keep him from doing anything drastic.

Mycroft himself has attempted to keep himself functioning, but the pressing worry of this keeps him from fully focusing.

To be honest, he cannot quite remember why he walked into the hallway in the first place, but at the sudden voice of James Michaels, he stops. Anthea, speaking of something to him (a paper that he was asked to look over by the Prime Minister's assistant) quiets at the stillness.

He was told Sherlock's return would happen if he agreed to help with Michaels farcical petition and he did, but his brother is still missing and Michaels still has him and—

He had not planned on speaking with the man today, but his voice sends a trill of panic and indignation slipping through him. Mycroft slides forward across the hall, his feet barely making any sound as Anthea quickly scampers after him. He grasps his fingers around the hilt of his umbrella and feels his jaw clench.

Sherlock.

He has to find Sherlock.

This man gave him a vile of Sherlock's blood, and refuses to release him.

This is unacceptable.

"Mr. Michaels," Mycroft's voice is smoother than the chaos inside of him. Michaels turns at his voice, graying mustache bristling and eyes tightening. Mycroft sweeps his gaze across the him, gathering data. He's spent more than thirty minutes on the tube today, his daughter visited him, but it didn't go well judging from the papers Michaels assistant is holding. He visited his wife's grave from the colouring on his pants and he is annoyed with Mycroft's interference into his schedule.

Interference?

"Holmes." Michaels voice is crypt.

Mycroft shoves down another rise of ire and smiles slightly with no authenticity. "May I perhaps share a word with you, alone?"

Michaels gaze flits. Nervous, but not nearly as afraid as he should be.

"Of course." He says and Mycroft gestures towards an empty office. Coffee break, they have more than seven minutes before they return. Plenty of time. Michaels strides into the room first and Mycroft follows, Anthea faithfully at his side.

Mycroft is hit with a sudden rush of adoration for the woman. When was the last time he gave her a raise?

Anthea closes the door behind them and Mycroft drops the pleasantries. Michaels does not deserve it. "Where is Sherlock, James?" His voice is cold, and he carefully structures his expression to amplify it.

Michaels looks back at him and by all rights looks flabbergasted save the twitch of anxiety on his right hand. "Who?"

Mycroft bristles, biting at his tongue and attempts to bury his white fury elsewhere. This is not the time nor place for it. Sherlock does not need his rage, he needs Mycroft to be level headed and get this bigot to answer.

"Do you take me for a fool?" Mycroft demands sharply, "I know you have him."

Another twitch.

"Never heard of him. I'm sorry Holmes, but I think you've got the wrong man…" Michaels begins to make for the exit, but Mycroft flips his umbrella up and slams it against the man's chest halting him.

True panic rushes through his gaze and Mycroft would be lying to say he doesn't find pleasure in it.

Mycroft leans in. "You swore his release if I agreed to your terms." He hisses. "It has been six days, so I ask again James, where is my younger brother?"

Michaels fingers anxiously wring at his sides, but his face is impressively impassive. Michaels mouth gapes open twice before he swallows and states: "I have no idea, Holmes."

Anger, he is often told, is described as hot and red. Burning from within like a supernova exploding in and out with a destructive force unequal to any other. This is true, but not for rage. Rage is cold and white, akin to frozen glass shattering from pressure across an empty room. Mycroft's fist grasps the bulky man's shirt and he swings him up, slamming his frame against the wall. Michaels squeaks slightly, but Mycroft doesn't care.

This man is a liar and a thief.

Mycroft's words are whispered, but icy. "You lost your money to alcoholism, your wife to cancer, and your children to your temper. If you do not want to lose your head to this same stupidity you will release Sherlock or I will see to your removal from my country. Perhaps permanently." Michaels inhales sharply and his wide eyes blink slowly. Mycroft's releases the man and takes several steps backwards, disgusted, but smooths his clothing.

He can feel Anthea's gaze on him, but he can't bring himself to be properly horrified at his loss of control.

Michaels sharply seeps air in through his teeth sharply, but looks up at Mycroft in a new light. "You're a bold man Holmes," he pants and straightens running a hand through his mustache. It is uncared for and hasn't been washed in at least a week.

Anthea hates facial hair and refuses to let Mycroft grow any; she is especially repelled by messy facial hair. Sherlock would be relentless in his teasing if he tried.

Sherlock.

Missing.

Injured.

And Mycroft doesn't know where or with what.

Mycroft rests his hands on his umbrella handle and holds Michaels gaze. "You will find that I am much more than that." He promises and strides from the room, Anthea at his side.

000o000

Michaels drops off the grid for six days after that conversation and Sherlock does not reappear.

Seventeen days.

Seventeen.

Mycroft's stomach is twisted into incomprehensible knots of anxiety, so when Anthea explodes into his office words pouring from her throat, Mycroft can hardly make sense of them. He barely picks the basics up and manages to string together what she's attempting to tell him. He's on his feet before he remembers standing and making a break for the nearest car, ordering the driver (Andrew) into rapid movement.

Sherlock. Lestrade. John. Donovon. Something about panic, but Mycroft shoves it to the side.

Sherlock is at Scotland Yard.

000o000

"Greg." Breathless and tight, Sally's voice barely sounds contained in the facade of calm she's wrapping around it. Greg flips his gaze up to her from the gun he's cleaning and feels colour drain from his face at the anxiety written on her's. She's standing in the doorway to the room, her clothing rumbled slightly and hair falling out of the tight bun she walked into work with this morning. His hand movements still subconsciously and he watches her carefully.

She retains her breath shakily.

"What?" Greg demands.

Sally gnaws on her lip for a second, deciding how best to phrase whatever it is she want's to say. She's quiet for nearly two seconds before stating: "He's here."

Who?

What?

Was someone coming for an inspection of the building that he forgot about?

Sally moves the distance between them and grabs his shoulders, her eyes wild. "Sherlock." She says, and Greg stills, his mind struggling to wrap around her words. Sherlock. Seventeen days. "He's in your office and we can't get him to calm down, we don't know what to do."

Sherlock. Here. Now.

Sherlock who has been missing for seventeen days is in the building—bloody, he's in Greg's office.

Greg drops the unloaded firearm onto the nearest desk and breaks into a run for the room, Sally following behind him. A large group of his squadron (everyone in the building not on the field) is gathered outside of the door, murmuring, but strangely quiet as well.

Greg shoves through the crowd until he can see the front of his office and spots Sherlock's dark hair a moment later through the window. His heart skips a beat and he nearly comes to a complete stop in his shock.

Sherlock.

This isn't some sort of prank—not that he thought that it was, but—he's in the office, sitting in one of the chairs.

We can't get him to calm down. Sally's words catch up to him, snapping with a force that Greg is unused to. Sherlock is always a wild mess of energy, sauntering from one thing to another, but anxious is not something Greg would typically associate with him. Sherlock is hardly—if ever—affected the same way that everyone else is.

'It's for shock.'

'I'm not in shock.'

Calm—Sherlock needs to calm down and Greg can help with that. Hopefully. Greg scrambles the final few feet and grabs the handle to the door shoving it open and throws himself into the office with more force than he honestly cares to admit, but stops again in surprise.

Phillip is standing next to the detective, hands fiddling with straps that aren't loosening and looking flustered and frustrated, but unwilling to stop. Sherlock is leaning as far away as he can from the man, but it isn't from disgust that Greg can see—but the wild fear strewn plainly across his gaunt face.

Sherlock's breathing is unfocused, his eyes bloodshot, red rimmed and shadowed heavily. His cheekbones are jutting out in a sickly manner, blotchy bruises line his face and his nose is clearly broken. Despite the exhaustion clear across his frame, his eyes are alert and fidgeting across the room like somethings going to snap out and bite him; the rest of his body tense and prepared to run. A ratty blanket lays around his hips from where is likely fell off his shoulders. He looks like a wild animal cornered and about to be slaughtered.

Greg shoves the thought to the side.

He can hardly focus on Sherlock's face, however, his gaze locked onto the detectives chest. Despite Phillip's extensive effort, he hasn't made much progress in removing the restraints. Restraint is a loose term, confinement or portable prison is more accurate. It makes Greg's veins fuel with a red anger heated and boiling.

A straitjacket is wrapped across Sherlock one of his hands strapped across his chest tightly with the aid of leather straps, the other freed and gripping at the straps attempting to tug them off. The white fabric is smeared with blood in some places and Greg notes the discoloration of Sherlock's fingers in a single glance.

Phillip's attempts are fruitless, and Sherlock's tugging and persistent gripping at the straps isn't assisting. The detective's chest is heaving with audible gasps of panic.

Greg swears. Loudly.

Phillip's head swings towards him and Greg sees relief slump into his stance, but Sherlock merely twitches at his voice. Greg moves across the room at a slower pace, painfully aware of Sherlock's agitation. Sherlock's head slowly lifts to look at him, but his eyes looks cloudy and distant.

"Sherlock." Greg breathes. He crosses the final few strides between them and Sherlock's head whips up, staring at him and snapping into focus. Feral. Tizzy. Pained.

Sherlock's lips part, but no noise escapes him save a panicked mewl.

He rocks forward and his free hands broken fingers snake up grab Greg's forearm, his mouth parts again, but again no words follow. Sherlock's fingers feel strange, dislocated at least, broken at the most. Sherlock's gray eyes have stopped flitting, but are resting on Greg and his grip tightens around his forearm.

Greg doesn't comment on it, and instead allows him to squeeze his hand turning to his second in command and the forensics expert. "Anderson, go get some water from the break room. Donovan, have you called John yet?"

Sherlock's fingers tighten around his arm at John's name, and Greg barely represses a wince at the pressure. Sally shakes her head in answer to his question, her stiff fingers reaching for her mobile. "I'll call him and get everyone else back to work." She announces.

Right. His team is standing outside the door watching Sherlock attempt to shove down a panic attack.

"Good." Greg agrees and turns back to Sherlock. Sally and Phillip exit the room, the door lapping shut behind them, but it doesn't lessen the tense edge between the younger man's shoulders and a heaved breath that hiccups a stifled sob follows. The reddening rage tightens around his stomach and he realizes that he doesn't care how high up in the government Sherlock's kidnapper is, he hopes sincerely that his death will not be a pleasant one.

He needs to focus. Sherlock needs to calm down.

"Sherlock." Greg says patiently and leans down next to him, but is painfully careful to allow Sherlock's grip to remain firm. "I need to get the straitjacket off, will you let me?" The thing looks wrong on the detective, constraining and Greg doubts it's helping anything with the panic.

Sherlock tenses, his eyes squeezing shut.

"John's coming." Greg assures him, doing his best to keep his tone even and feels success when he does. "We need to get it off before he gets here." They don't. Not really, Greg just wants it off. The sight of it makes him more furious that he really cares to admit. And frankly, if John does see Sherlock like this, Greg's wish of the politician's death will probably become reality.

Sherlock lets out a distressed moan and squirms in the confines of his prison. His eyes lock with Greg's a sudden intense urgency in them.

He needs no further invitation.

Greg carefully releases Sherlock's grip on him and moves towards his desk and scrambles to find the pocket knife he knows is present. He wades through a pile of paperwork then remembers it's in a drawer and opens several before he finds it stuffed in the corner of the first drawer to the left. After locating it, he turns and walks back towards the detective flipping the blade open.

Sherlock squeezes his eyes shut and looks away from him as he approaches. Greg shoves down the anger, uncertain where to begin. The back seems most reasonable, but to be honest he's never had to remove a straitjacket from someone before. Sherlock turns without request, revealing the straps along the back and Greg begins to work through one of the three thick sternum straps.

Sherlock's spine twitches multiple times as Greg cuts at it, but he's careful to keep the blade from nicking anything beyond sternum. As soon as the straps are cut, Greg closes the knife and pockets it as Sherlock attempts to tug off the jacket with varying degrees of success.

Greg moves forward and grasps Sherlock's shoulders to hold him still. "Sherlock." Greg presses and Sherlock heaves a gasping breath looking up at him through messy hair. The trusting panic present makes Greg's stomach twist. "Just—hold still, I'll get it off." He assures and Sherlock nods his spine stiffening.

Greg moves forward and grasps the beginning of the fabric apart at the base of Sherlock's neck and works through the buttons down the back before grabbing both edges of the jacket and slowly peeling it away from Sherlock's back, and then off his shoulders and releasing his hands. Sherlock's fingers fall lax in his lap and he hisses sharply, his right broken fingers coming to grasp at his left shoulder.

Sherlock's entire left arm is pale, but swollen at the elbow and the tips of his fingers look messy. Greg hisses another swear under his breath and moves forward, uncertain of what to do now, but wanting to provide reassurance.

Greg sweeps his gaze across Sherlock again, attempting to find other injuries that need to be seen to then realizes that the man isn't wearing any shoes or socks and dressed in what he's fairly certain are pajamas. A loose T-shirt with some sort of restaurant brand's name imprinted into the front (probably a gift after Sherlock helped with one thing or another, Greg honestly lost track of how many people the detectives assisted years ago) and clad pajama bottoms. Greg knew that Sherlock was taken in the middle of the night, but the fact that it would be in anything less than a suit with his stupid belstaff he's so found of didn't quite click until now.

Barefoot. Somehow this feels more wrong than the pajamas do.

Where has he been these last few weeks?

Greg doesn't have much time to ponder this, because Philip reappears in the room, a water bottle in hand and one of the spare blankets that they have laying around in some closet. He says nothing as he strides forward and hands the supplies to Greg. Greg gives him a nod of thanks and Phillip answers with one then moves towards the door, but hesitates slightly looking back at Sherlock.

The moment passes and he exits, closing the door behind him.

Greg moves forward and hands the water bottle to Sherlock. Sherlock looks up at him, gray-green eyes confused. "It's for dehydration, Sherlock," Greg explains and sighs with more exasperation than he feels. "You know, the thing that John is always on you about?"

Sherlock's fingers tighten around the plastic at the mention of the doctor, but a few seconds later he twists the cap to break the seal and lifts the water to his lips drinking with urgency equal to a man wandering the Sahara for weeks on end. Greg offers the blanket to the detective and though he takes it, the most it does is lay across his lap as paperweight.

Greg doesn't push him to do anything more and simply takes a seat on the desk, watching him with careful eyes for signs of shock or anything else that he's hiding. After nearly a minute of quiet, Greg remembers Mycroft and mentally kicks himself as he drags his phone from his pocket and sends a text off to his assistant—Samantha? Maybe Melonie—explaining about Sherlock and where he is.

Sally hasn't returned to confirm if she did get in contact with John, but he knows that if she hadn't, she would have returned for Greg to promptly spam the doctor until his texts ran out.

They wait for about another fifteen minutes before Greg sees Sherlock's head lift towards the door slightly and Greg hears the sounds of people rapidly speaking a moment later. John. Greg stands up from his position of leaning against the desk and grabs the straitjacket with the edge of his shoe kicking it under the desk.

Sherlock doesn't glance at him, eyes focused on the door.

It's barely twenty more seconds before John explodes into the room, Mary half a step behind and Sherlock gives a slight noise Greg can't interpret. John and Mary are still for a moment, standing in the doorway, both of their eyes rapidly moving across the detective with urgency.

John's eyes harden and Mary's lips thin. John moves forward first and reaches Sherlock in a few long strides leaning down in front of him and staring up at the bruising on Sherlock's face. Sherlock's hand slips from his swollen shoulder and scrambles to grasp John's wrist.

"John." His voice is raw, gravelly and so unlike the confidant baritone Greg has grown accustomed to. It sounds like a question, rather than a statement.

John nods, "I'm here, Sherlock." He assures. "I'm not going anywhere. Breathe."

Some of the agitation slips from between Sherlock's shoulders and Mary moves forward. She takes the seat next to Sherlock and gently wraps a hand around his shoulders. She murmurs something to him that Greg doesn't catch, but he's fairly certain it wasn't in English. Sherlock sinks into her touch, but keeps his gaze on John.

John, who then proceeds to take Sherlock's fingers from his wrist and work with them, electing a wince from the detective. Definitely broken then.

Sherlock's lips part slightly and he swallows twice before any sound follows: "...Mycroft?"

John looks as puzzled as Greg feels. Mycroft. What does Mycroft have to do with anything at the moment? John's expression clears after a second, however, and he shakes his head. "Mycroft is fine. He's on his way here with probably half of the MI6."

Sherlock nods and his eyes slip close, his head tilting back as a breath escaping him. Although Sherlock refused to be touched or even breathed near beforehand, he seems to have no issues with John and Mary's invasion of his space. John pokes and prods, but doesn't ask about any of the bruises and instead seems to mentally label them, his frown deepening the longer he checks Sherlock over.

John tilts Sherlock's head in the lighting and stares at the bruising forming on his face, but doesn't comment. He instead thins his lips and rises to his feet, every gaze in the room following.

"You'll be stiff for the next few days and your fingers need to be wrapped, but it's nothing life threatening. Your shoulders are strained though and your elbows are swollen, you'll need to stretch them often for the next week or so."

The unspoken "why" floats through the air for a moment before Sherlock blinks sluggishly and focuses, his hands shifting to wrap around his stomach.

"Straitjacket."

John spine goes rigid. Greg can't see his expression from this angle, but he's not guessing it's anything pretty from Mary's. "The what?"

"Straitjacket." Sherlock repeats his voice equally toneless and his gaze flicks to where it's laying under Greg's desk and John and Mary's gaze follow. John's fists clench at his side and though his expression is blank, his eyes are murderous. Greg sees the infinitesimal tightening of Mary's grip from the corner of his eyes and bites at his tongue.

"Bloody—" John starts, but bites at his tongue and turns back to Sherlock. When he sweeps his eyes across the dark haired man again, however, he does release the cuss. "I'm going to kill him." He decides phlegmatically.

No. He's not. Greg doesn't want to deal with the paperwork.

Greg pinches the bridge of his nose, "John—" He starts in exasperation. He doesn't get any further than that.

The door is once again thrown open and though Greg's hand shifts towards his gun by habit, it's unneeded. Mycroft Holmes strides into the room looking ragged and exhausted. His assistant (Sarah?) is half a step behind along with another red haired man Greg doesn't recognize.

Mycroft's gait calms as he sees his sibling seated beside Mary, and though he takes a long hard look at him that Sherlock is returning, his eyes sweep to John. "Anything life threatening?"

"Not for him." John assures.

Mycroft smiles thinly, catching John's actual meaning a second before Greg does. Mycroft takes a few more strides forward and Sherlock straightens his posture slightly, his green-gray eyes focused. "Well, Brother Mine." Mycroft addresses in English before switching to another language (Russian? Maybe Turkish) and asking a question. Or at least, Greg assumes it's a question from the tone of voice. It sounds something along the lines of "Ne acıyor?"

Sherlock hesitates, then answers in the same tongue.

Mycroft's lips thin before he asks a different question that Sherlock answers.

Greg's gaze flits between the two as they rapidly descend into a conversation that he can pick out barely nothing of. It continues for nearly another minute before Sherlock waves a hand, expression angered.

"No." He says firmly in his mother tongue, "I want to go home, Mycroft."

"Sherlock—" Mycroft starts.

"Home." Sherlock repeats. "Mrs. Hudson has been waiting days for me."

"Sherlock." Mycroft presses.

Sherlock stares up at him, glaring with defiance.

Five minutes later, strained and struggling to move properly, Sherlock exits the Yard with a larger security detail than Greg really cares to count, headed for 221B.

000o000

Mrs. Hudson receives Sherlock with a light hug and, after Mycroft has relayed all the important information she needs to know to help him, a prompt door closing to give them privacy. Sherlock is standing, eyes wide and glassy as he shivers occasionally his arms wrapped around himself. Cold and in shock, which Mrs. Hudson doesn't like.

She's known Sherlock for years and has come to know him like a mother would a child so she picks up on the little things. Like how Sherlock's hands are still trembling and how he looks like he would much like to collapse against something and not move for days. The clenching of his jaw in pain and agitation, signs, she's certain, John would have picked up on if he too were here.

Instead of being flippant and shoving him upstairs like she's certain Sherlock would like she gently puts a hand on his elbow and guides him without resistance to 221A. She sets him on her couch and finds as many spare blankets as she can for him to use along with a pillow and quickly makes a detour to 221B to grab a fresh pair of clothing.

She returns back to her living room where Sherlock is still sitting dazed and hands him the clothing. She gives an encouraging smile and rather than the it will help you find closure she wants to say, she knows it won't work on her boy. Instead, she simply gently grips his shoulder, reminding herself that this is real and that her detective is in her flat, dazed and afraid, and says: "You smell, Dear; go take a shower and I'll make you a cuppa."

Sherlock hums quietly, but seems to snap from his stance as he rises and moves towards her bathroom to do as she commanded. Mrs. Hudson stares after him as he disappears in the hall then sighs with commiseration. She's not his mother (she's met the poor woman), but Sherlock is undoubtedly something close of a surrogate son to her.

This pains her more than she cares to admit to see him in such a state.

There's a gun in one of Sherlock's fake books up stairs, he keeps it for safety purposes and Mrs. Hudson is honestly considering taking the weapon and smacking the politician over the face for hurting her detective so. She has no idea what happened to put him in such a state, but neither does Mycroft. Mycroft, whom she knows will come up with a more fitting and painful punishment for Mr. Michaels and that keeps her in the flat, content to look after her charge.

She boils the kettle, pours the cup and dumps the packaging in along with a thick dose of sugar into Sherlock's cup before moving to the living room and setting it on the coffee table.

Sherlock arrives from the shower two minutes later, hair still dripping, but changed and looking minutely better. Mrs. Hudson has learned to take victories where she can with Sherlock. She nods encouragingly and lifts the cup up to him, which he takes with his left hand and a soft murmur of something she believes is thanks and moves to climb under his cocoon of blankets again. He looks for all accounts like he has no plans or desire to move up to 221B and though it's selfish and stupid, Mrs. Hudson is more relieved than she cares to admit at this.

Sherlock is going to remain in her flat, so she can keep an eye on him until further notice. There will be no more disappearances on her watch, and checking on him will be much easier now. Sherlock takes a sip of the tea and his expression relaxes.

Mrs. Hudson hides her relief in a sip of her own cup. Sherlock is fidgeting with anxiety and he needs something else to focus on. Mrs. Hudson is not good at acting or distractions unless it's card games (which Sherlock will play on her deathbed and nowhere else), but she is very good at talking. So she does. She launches into a detailed explanation of Mrs. Turner's married ones' dog and how it recently attacked their ducks (the poor things were frightened beyond helping), how she tried out this new pie recipe but it was awful, how Molly came 'round for a visit and accidentally broke one of her favorite flower pots—just anything and everything that pops into her mind.

Sherlock rarely responds, but she knows he's listening; the way he usually does when she invites him down for tea. John used to answer when he lived here; they would hold whole conversations on the randomist of things, but Sherlock would typically only listen. And she's fine with that.

He sets the cup of tea on the coffee table and buries himself deeper beneath the covers the steady rise and fall of the cloth the only assurance she has of his breath. After some time, it evens out and Mrs. Hudson realizes that he's fallen asleep.

She relaxes slightly and picks up her tray stopping next to Sherlock to run a hand through his hair fondly before moving to the kitchen. She does the dishes, wipes down the kitchen as best she can, and goes about her normal routine. Sherlock sleeps for the remainder of the morning, all of the day and well into the night before it happens.

Mrs. Hudson lived with John Watson (a diagnosed army doctor with post traumatic stress disorder for almost two years before he moved), she is completely aware of what night terrors and flashbacks look like, but how to deal with them is beyond her. When John had them, it was always Sherlock who calmed him, not her. He would play his violin no matter the hour, recommend a book for John to read—simple things that would distract the blond and lull him to sleep again.

She has no such mental list.

Sherlock jerks awake, gasping and breathless, scratching at his arms painfully. Mrs. Hudson moves across the room rapidly to grab his wrists and he goes rigid, releasing a moan between his teeth. The green-gray of his eyes are misted and though they're locked onto her, it's obvious he's not seeing anything.

"Sherlock?" She questions.

Another moan, this time weary.

"Sherlock." She repeats and gently rests a hand on his shoulder. He rears away from her and Mrs. Hudson's lips press together thinly before she gently tightens her grip on his shoulder. "You're in Baker Street," she reminds (good heavens, she's hopeless at this!) "there's no one else here but you and me."

Sherlock continues to heave his breaths before his gaze seems to settle with a spark of recognition. Mrs. Hudson's heart goes out to him and she wraps her arms around him. Sherlock isn't fond of physical affection, she knows this, but he doesn't fight or complain. Instead he grasps her forearm with two cold hands with a deathgrip. "John." He murmurs, his tone desperate. "John." This time the word is rattled.

Mrs. Hudson shifts her hand currently not trapped in Sherlock's cold fingers to make a grab at the phone. "He's not here. I'll give him a call." She manages to clasp the device and works on dialing the numbers from memory as Sherlock whispers a stream of something decidedly not English.

The phone picks up on the second ring and she's more reassured than ever that John hasn't slept a wink when his voice is completely devoid of the slur of sleep: "Mrs. Hudson? Is something wrong? Is Sherlock still with you?"

"Yes," she reassures before John can get off into a frenzy they don't have time for at the moment. "He's sitting on my sofa and he wants to speak with you."

Mrs. Hudson doesn't give him time to start up a stream of questions and instead shoves the phone into Sherlock's hand. He scrambles to grip the device looking strangely puzzled for a second before he lifts it to his ear.

"John."

John says something on the other line, but Mrs. Hudson doesn't pick up on what it is and sees the tension between Sherlock's shoulders ease. "No." Sherlock answers to something. Mrs. Hudson gently pats his shoulder and wrings her hand from Sherlock's death grip.

"I'll go make a cuppa." She offers and rises to stand, Sherlock's face strews up with something she can't recognize, but she gives him a reassuring look and turns on the lamp beside the sofa. The light immediately washes the dark edges from the room and Mrs. Hudson realizes that a majority of the blankets Sherlock was bundled in hours before are in a mess next to the sofa. She notes it for cleaning later, but moves to the kitchen to give Sherlock and John some privacy.

She's finished pouring the cups and taken out some biscuits about five minutes later when Sherlock walks into the kitchen, phone absent and eyes shadowed. He takes one of the biscuits without pressuring and leans against the counter. "John is coming here."

Mrs. Hudson doesn't bother to pretend with being surprised, she's not, she'd expected as much. She gives a slight nod in answer and takes a sip from her own cup.

Sherlock awkwardly nibbles at the biscuit, looking half between like he's starving to death and repulsed by the idea of eating anything. She knows it's not her cooking, and has long since learned to not be offended when he gets into these states. Sherlock can be anything between aggravatingly picky and eating anything that resembles food.

"John wants to take me to his flat." Sherlock adds a second later. His voice is quiet as if expecting her to be enraged. Mrs. Hudson waves a hand to reassure him, even though a part of her begins to anxiously worry again. Sherlock will be fine, it's John, if she needs to be reassured of his state, she can just give him a call.

"That's fine." She assures and pushes the plate of biscuits towards him. "You look half starved, Dear." She encourages. Sherlock doesn't need much further prompting before he raids the plate.

They sit in silence for the next twenty minutes—Sherlock staring at her in a way that would have been disorienting for someone else, but she's long since grown used to it—before keys shove into the lock and both of them get to their feet.

It's in this moment that Mrs. Hudson realizes she's still in her nighties.

She brushes embarrassment to the side and follows Sherlock to the door as John steps inside. He looks more of a mess than he did when Mrs. Hudson last saw the blond, and she buries concern to pester him about it for later. Sherlock and John stand still for a second, staring, before John breaks the awkward contest.

"Get your coat, it's cold." He commands and waves Sherlock in the direction of 221B. Sherlock stands still for a second, shifting his weight from foot to foot before turning and clambering up the steps silently. John flicks his gaze to her and she sees the anxious worry hidden in the blue of his eyes. Mrs. Hudson can't say that she feels much different.

When Sherlock returns a minute later, bundled in the belstaff, the two exit the flat.

000o000

John all but drags Sherlock towards their sofa and goes to find a some medical tape in the bathroom. When he's acquired his desired object, he returns to the living room and sees Mary handing Sherlock a blanket.

Sherlock, unlike the drive that they took in complete silence, is speaking: "—All I've done is sleep, Mary, it's time consuming and dull. I don't want to do anymore of it."

"Yeah, but do." Mary counters.

Sherlock flicks his gaze up towards John, some bit of anxiety loosening as he does so. John lifts up the tape and steps past Mary to take a seat on the sofa, Sherlock shifting to make room. John lifts out his hand expectantly and Sherlock, after a small second of internal debate, gives him his right hand.

John feels along the fingers, and thins his lips as he does so. None of them are broken, but strained and stressed with buckle fractures—at least, as far as John can tell. He's not an X-ray, and though he'd love to have Sherlock stuff his hand underneath one, he doesn't see it happening any time soon.

Mary gives his shoulder a quick squeeze, one of reassurance and understanding. "I'm going to go get a few winks. Let me know if you need anything, alright?"

"Yeah." John agrees and leans up to give her a quick kiss, "Love you."

"Love you too; night Sherlock." Mary walks towards the bedroom and John hears the door close a moment later.

John turns his attention towards Sherlock's messy fingers. He sets the bones as well as he can and wraps multiple fingers together for makeshift braces. John flicks his gaze up towards the detective and sees that Sherlock's eyes are closed and his head is leaning against the back of the couch. He looks as though he's dead to the world, but John knows him better than to assume that.

John sighs quietly and tosses the tape towards the coffee table. "You said that you'd talk if I came." He reminds. It was the agreement that John dragged him into on the phone.

Sherlock blows out a breath and squeezes his eyes shut tighter. "What is there to say?" He's attempting to loophole out of the conversation and though John has no plans to let him go through with that.

"What happened, Sherlock?" He counters.

Sherlock lifts his hands up and presses his palms against his eyes. "It just—it won't stop. Every time I close my eyes I'm back there. John, please, I can't—I—I don't understand."

John's expression furrows. "'There'?" He presses.

Sherlock squeezes his eyes shut tightly and tugs at his hair. "I...augh." Flustered and speechless. John can count on one hand the times he's seen Sherlock's silvertongue turn to lead. The deep rising fury settles in his stomach again and refuses to be quieted.

"What did they do to you?"

Sherlock lets out a laugh, but it's strained and strangely bitter. "Nothing."

"But—"

"I've read and seen the effects of sensory deprivation, John, but I've never...I haven't….there's... I've never had to experience it for myself."

John stills.

Sensory…

They did what?

"Days." Sherlock says suddenly, dragging John from his stupor. "I was there for days. Sitting in the dark and unable to hear myself. They didn't interact with me except when they drew blood; I tried to run and they broke my fingers."

John forces himself to steady, Sherlock doesn't need his rage right now. Now he needs his understanding. His support. Sympathy. Not the rage.

Sherlock releases a heavy breath and squeezes his eyes shut. "After that they put me in the straitjacket with a blindfold. It was silent for a long time."

John is quiet. Then, "How did you escape?"

Sherlock shakes his head again, another shudder running down his spine. "I didn't. They let me go."

John's eyes widen slightly. "But—"

Sherlock wraps his arms around himself, squeezing his eyes shut. "I thought….I thought that it meant that Mycroft had been…" he trails, chewing at his inner cheek for a second before releasing a breath, "I knew that I was there for Mycroft's opposing side. It was bound to happen as some point, and I can't...I thought when they let me go that it meant that they'd...removed him."

The first question, now that John's thinking back, had been about Mycroft. Not who had him, not if someone had his coat—nothing so mundane. Sherlock had needed to know that his sibling was alright. It's warming in a way, to see that despite how cold and distant the two act towards each other, the bond they bare is still thick.

"Oh." Is all John can come up with to say. Sherlock looks up at him.

John reaches out and grabs Sherlock's shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze. "Sherlock," he says firmly so the detective will look at him, "there's nothing wrong with you," he assures quietly, "trauma after something like this happens to everyone—"

"But I'm not everyone!" Sherlock snaps. "I shouldn't be effected like this. Why am I affected like this?" The cry is angry, but underneath that John can hear the desperation for answers. The begging to understand.

John sighs and draws his hand back. "Sherlock—"

The dark-haired man rears to his feet, taking a few steps forward. He's hissing through his breath. John has undergone enough panic attacks of his own to recognize one in the making, and rises to his feet hesitantly. "Sherlock—"

Sherlock's hands lift to his head and he shakes them violently, "You're being to loud, your mind is buzzing and I can't focus on anything! Just—Shut UP!"

He should probably be offended, but he's not. He's frightened. John takes another step forward, Sherlock's body is shaking now and he needs to get it under control before he starts to hyperventilate. "Hey," John tries, keeping his voice smooth. "Breathe."

Sherlock inhales sharply, raggedly again, but it doesn't help any. "I—I...I—" He tries to explain, but turns to John with wide eyes. "Can't. John—please—"

John easily crosses the distance between them and grabs Sherlock's shoulder, "Sit," he commands and directs Sherlock towards the couch. "Inhale deeply, mimic me." He directs, inhaling deeply and waving his hands with the movements. Sherlock's green-gray eyes follow him, and he attempts to repeat the breathing pattern.

"You're fine," John reminds, "you're at me and Mary's flat. Do you know what time it is?"

Sherlock is staring at him, following the breathing for nearly a minute before he murmurs out in a little less than a breath, "Four-twenty six." John flicks his gaze up to make sure, and sure enough, Sherlock is right. He has an internal clock that has never faltered for as long as John has known him. It's impressive and slightly disorienting sometimes.

After a few more minutes, Sherlock's breathing has settled and he's relaxed against the couch, having laid down at some point and the tip of his scalp is now touching John's knee. His hair smells faintly of Mrs. Hudson's shampoo and John is slightly curious behind the story of how their landlady got him to use her's. Sherlock uses only scentless because the smell of his hair is "distracting".

"John," Sherlock's voice startles him slightly, he'd sort of thought that Sherlock had fallen asleep, "I'm sorry."

John is quiet for a second. Sherlock doesn't usually apologize, or if he does it's done obnoxiously or badly. Sincere, simple ones like these are to be cherished. John nods slightly and grabs one of the blankets, throwing it at Sherlock's chest. Sherlock's body temperature is usually resting at freezing point, or a little above that. John has never been much better. "I know, mate," He reassures, "get some sleep."

"...are you going to move?" Sherlock's voice is very quiet, before in a fit of realizing that he's actually asked for something that he needs begins to rant out excuses: "I mean of course you are, at some point, but I just—Mary is probably waiting for you and I can't...you've already done enough for me anyway and I don't want to impose or—"

John rolls his eyes and leans forward to grab a book from off of the coffee table, flicking on a lamp beside the couch. He lightly whacks Sherlock with the cover, "Shut up." He commands. Sherlock opens his mouth and John whacks him again. "No, I mean it. I'll stay here. I don't think I would have gotten much sleep anyway."

Sherlock makes a slight noise in the back of his throat, "Oh."

John forces his nerves to settle and reminds himself that he doesn't need to be running off of adrenaline anymore because Sherlock is literally less than a few inches from him. He opens up the book, which isn't anything very interesting (it was a book Mary left there a few days ago about child development) and starts to read aloud.

It is boring, admittedly, but Sherlock falls asleep to his voice anyway.

And eventually John falls asleep to the sound of Sherlock breathing.

000o000

He didn't realize how long he'd been sleeping until Mary arrives with Rosie under one arm and takes a picture. The flash jerks him awake and the forcefulness of his body moving again sends Sherlock tumbling into a seated position, eyes glazed with sleep.

"Wha…." John murmurs before turning to look towards his wife and daughter, brightening immediately.

Mary grins happily and tucks her phone into her pants' pocket, "You two are adorable." She reassures, moving forward.

John buries his head into his hands and lets out a groan. "I hate you."

Mary presses a kiss to the top of his head. "Good morning to you as well."

John looks up at her unhappily, but her twinkling eyes cause a smile to spread up his lips without his consent. Rosie makes a cooing noise in his direction, lips faintly spread with a smile. Mary glances at him for a second before turning to Sherlock. "Say good morning to Uncle Sherlock, Rosie." Mary says cheerfully and lifts up their daughter's hand in a wave.

Rosie giggles and Sherlock watches her with detachment, but his eyes are soft.

"Would you watch her for a second? I need to talk to John about something." Mary says and passes Rosie to Sherlock before he can give an affirmative or otherwise and grabs John's hand dragging him to his feet. She pulls him into the kitchen where they can still see Sherlock's head poking over the edge of the couch, but the amount he'll be able to hear is minimal.

"Did he sleep?" Her voice is serious and John turns to her giving a slight nod.

"He had a panic attack before I managed to get him to calm down." He explains.

"Did he explain what happened?"

John hesitates for a second. "Sensory deprivation."

Mary's lips thin and she blows out a breath, "Well," she says under her breath, "they didn't go halfway, did they?"

John shakes his head sharply, "No." His voice is laced with his frustration.

Mary rests a hand on his shoulder, "I don't want him to leave yet. I'm worried."

"Me too." John admits. "Michaels is still running around. What if he spills about Sherlock and Mycroft and then every other politician is trying to kidnap him to beat Mycroft?"

Mary's lips thin and her gaze flickers briefly towards upstairs where she keeps a supply of weapons. "None of them will get far. We'll keep him here for as long as we can, or he shows signs of improvement, deal?" Mary questions. John nods, relieved. Sherlock may not have been a part of their lives when they first met, and nearly tore apart their marriage after they did, but he's family to both of them now.

And until Michaels is dealt with, they're going to keep him safe.

000o000

Sherlock spends nearly a week at the flat, under the watchful eye of Mary and John before his phone buzzes. He'd mostly forgotten about it save Mycroft's incessant need that he text him every day so he pats his pockets for a second, confused, as he tries to locate where he put it. John stopped by 221B to grab clothing for him and it has reassured him that John and Mary don't intend for this to be a one-night sleepover.

The two have been watching him like he might vanish into thin air the moment they take their gaze off of him, and though it's strangely reassuring, it's also aggravating. He hasn't left their flat once since his arrival and the need for fresh air is tugging at him. He hasn't seen London for nearly a month now, and he needs to be out in his streets.

While Mary and John are at work, he would have done that, slipped out sometime in the last week—not traveled far, admittedly, but just gone somewhere. But he hasn't, because he's been tasked with Rosie's care and it's one thing to drag himself outside with the possibility of being taken again (no one has told him anything, but Michaels is still out there and Mycroft is still figuring out the best way to approach the situation. He's worried that Michaels may have slipped the information and Sherlock honestly is quite done), but he's not willing to risk his goddaughter's safety.

He won't.

Not when she's so important.

Mobile.

Where is his bloody mobile?

Sherlock takes his gaze off of where Rosie is sitting on the floor surrounded by toys (except the rattle, she keeps throwing it at him and giggling though Sherlock can't fathom why) to the couch behind him. After some digging Sherlock finds the device buried beneath the gathering of blankets and stares at the caller ID. It's not Mycroft, like Sherlock half expected, but Lestrade.

Sherlock stares at it confused for a second. Lestrade stopped by with Molly a few days ago, but Molly cried and Sherlock had no idea what to do and gave her and awkward pat on the shoulder and Lestrade has whisked them away. He'd been devastated, admittedly, but made no audible complaints.

Sherlock turns back to Rosie and sighs slightly before answering. "Lestrade." His voice is brisk, but he can't muster up anything else.

"Sherlock." Lestrade breathes with relief. "Thank heaven. Are you doing okay?"

Lestrade seriously didn't call him for this, did he? "Fine." Sherlock reassures.

"Good." Lestrade says firmly, if a little awkwardly. "Listen…"

Rosie makes a noise and throws one of the toys across the blanket set out then stares up at him expectantly. Sherlock rolls his eyes. "I'm not getting it for you again." He promises her.

"What?" Lestrade breaks off, confused.

"Nothing to do with you, Inspector." Sherlock reassures, "Rosie."

"Oh." Lestrade breathes, "You're still at John's?" Should he not be? Is he imposing? Has John mentioned something to Lestrade because he can leave if that's what John wants because John—"It doesn't matter," Lestrade quickly backtracks, "I don't know if you're up for it, but there's been a murder and we can't find anything."

Oh.

Yes.

A case.

He solves cases.

Yes.

Though he couldn't solve his own as he sat in the dark, the only noise his breath with the faint smell of paint and his arms swollen and pained because he couldn't move, like Siberia again and—"Where?" Sherlock questions, forcing himself to focus.

He's not there. He's at John's, with his goddaughter and Lestrade needs him to look at a case because...because. He can do that. He's not broken, he can still do this.

Yes.

Alright.

He's better.

"Just at the Yard," Lestrade informs, "we only have pictures—" Sherlock slumps, photos aren't impossible to work with, but he would prefer to avoid them if he could. He leans back slightly and picks up the stuffed animal Rosie threw and hands it back to the blonde. "—but we're thinking the murderer is linked to a dozen other cold cases, but we've got no idea who it is."

Cold cases—getting cold cases solved is good. Thrilling.

Sherlock nods, "Right then, I'll be there shortly."

"Good."Lestrade's breath is relieved.

Sherlock ends the call and pockets the phone, blowing out a raspberry as he holds Rosie's gaze. He doesn't know if who John usually has for a babysitter, and...he doesn't want to be alone at the moment. It's pathetic, but he can't stop it. He blows out a sharp breath between his teeth and leans forward to pick Rosie off the ground. "Your parents are going to turn my murder into a cold case." Sherlock grumbles under his breath. Rosie giggles cheerfully and buries her head against his shoulder.

000o000

Sherlock takes a cab for most of the journey, but when he's about five minutes from the Yard, he slips out to walk the rest of the way. London's air smells remarkable and the sensations of being in his city once more are relieving. He keeps Rosie tucked against his chest in one of John's carrier-things Sherlock never bothered to commit to memory, mostly hidden by his coat and receives an odd glance from multiple people.

He gives them little heed.

When the Yard arrives, there's a large gathering of reporters with news stations running around and his stomach drops to his feet. The Yard. What happened? Sherlock breaks into a run (keeping Rosie steady with one hand) and grabs the nearest reporter's shoulder.

She turns to him, bright lips smeared with far too much makeup. Sherlock doesn't bare a fondness for the stuff, not after Molly started to wear more because she doesn't think she's beautiful enough without and—

"Sherlock Holmes!" The woman exclaims in surprise.

Yes. Does it matter?

"What happened? Why are you here?" He demands.

"Some detective solved a case—" she rushes out before lifting a microphone towards his face, "—but what does it matter if you, the legend, are here before me now!?"

What? Sherlock's eyebrows meet in confusion and Sherlock rests a hand on Rosie's back as she shifts uncomfortably. "I—I don't—" Sherlock starts.

"Oh my!" The woman says and points towards Rosie, "Is that Dr. Watson's child? Are you babysitting?" How do they know John has a daughter? They don't bring her on cases—The reporters seem to realize that this woman is talking to him, because they all swarm around him suddenly, microphones raised and speaking rapidly:

"Mr. Holmes, is it true that you've been sick this last month?"

"Mr. Holmes, what do you have to say on the method DI Dimmocks uses to solve this case?"

"Would you have been more efficient?"

"Did you bring a child to a police station?"

"What's Dr. Watson's child's name?"

"Where is Dr. Watson?"

"Is it true that you've spent the last month kidnapped?"

"I've heard a rumor that you were battling leukemia, what are your thoughts?

"Are the rumors of you having a brother correct—and can we expect him to join us in the crime fighting?"

He can't breathe.

Everything is so bright.

Loud.

He can't focus.

His breaths are wheezing.

Why won't they just—shut up!?

"Is it true that—?"

"Have you—?"

"Mr. Holmes!"

His vision is graying.

"Mr. Holmes—"

He's not breathing.

"Mr. Holmes!"

They need to stop. Every rustle of fabric is too loud.

Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!

"Get off!" A female voice shouts suddenly and there's an arm around his shoulders.

"Mr. Holmes will not be taking questions at this time." A male one adds and a palm joins his back the two guiding him forward through the crowd.

Sherlock's hazy vision can't make out the people, but so long as he gets out he doesn't care who it is.

"But, Mr. Holmes—"

"Is not available at this time!" The female snaps and Sherlock finally places her. Donovon. Anderson is on his other side and the two are leading him forward through the mass of gathered news looking furious at the group for even trying to talk to him.

Sherlock buries his head and tries to breathe and ease the death grip he has on Rosie.

The reporters are still trying to pester him and throwing questions at his back, but Anderson and Donovan refuse to let it get anywhere. They stuff him into a nearby coffee shop that Sherlock recognizes. It's a family business. The owner's daughter was kidnapped by a rivaling company and Sherlock found her.

It's also empty of costumers.

Donovon guides him to a chair and shoves him into it as Anderson moves to talk with the owners.

Sherlock hisses out a panicking breath and struggles to undo the straps for the carrier with fumbling fingers. When he's managed, he shoves his goddaughter into Sally's hands and leans forward burying his head between his knees.

Breathe, you idiot.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale—

"Sherlock." Sally's voice is firm and Sherlock looks up at her, hissing out a breath between his teeth. Rosie is awkwardly balanced in her arms, but Sherlock doesn't trust his shaking hands to hold her steady if he were to take her back.

"Sherlock." Sally repeats, her voice is strangely pinched.

Phillip arrives at the table and rests his hands on the edge, "They agreed to keep the shop closed for a little." He announces.

For him.

Because he can't handle cameras

Pathetic.

Sherlock grabs at the ends of his hair and pulls. "Sherlock." Phillip says quietly. "You need to breathe."

Isn't he!?

No.

He forgot.

"What can we do?" Sally demands. Her tone lacks the harsh venom usually whispered into it. It makes him feel strangely sick.

He wants John.

John can fix this.

Or Mary.

Just—someone who will make this go away. He doesn't know how. He can't bother either. John and Mary are at work and he's been reassured over and over again about the importance of work. Money—whatever other dull adult thing they rant about.

He can't bother either of them.

"Call me Sherlock. If anything happens. Alright?" John's voice echoes in his ear from a few days ago.

He can't.

He needs out.

He looks up at the forensics expert and second in command. He shoves his trembling fingers onto his lap to hide them.

"Mobile. I need to see my brother."

000o000

After taking a cab, he arrives in Mycroft office nearly an hour later after securing Rosie's safety with Lestrade who promised to take her to Mrs. Hudson (no one is going to find his body, it'll be a missing persons case that is never solved. Mary and John are going to be more than furious that he dragged their daughter out for a case and got her on the news).

Anthea is trailing behind him faithfully tapping at her blackberry, but it's halfhearted.

Mycroft's hand is pressed against his temple in annoyance and he sighs irritably as the door opens. "Nancy, I really must insist you ask for ten more minutes from the man, I know that he's—" Mycroft looks up and freezes. "Sherlock." All annoyance slips from his features immediately. "What are you doing here? I thought you were at John's."

Sherlock takes several more steps into the room, inhaling the scent of his office deeper. Faintly of wood, but mostly of the weird scent that Anthea likes and forces on his sibling. Old paper is also present, but mostly the prominence of "safe" draws him in further.

Sherlock takes one of the empty seats in the room. "I was." He reassures.

He doesn't offer anything else and Mycroft shares a look with Anthea. He'd shown up at the building and demanded to see Anthea ("Nancy" today) before requesting to see his sibling.

"And?" Mycroft pushes.

"Lestrade had a case," Sherlock admits, "I…had...it..." he trails, unsure how to explain this in the least embarrassing way. Mycroft's eyebrows thin before he sighs slightly and nods with understanding. Sherlock's shoulders slump with relief.

"If...if it's all the same to you, I think I'll stay here for a little." Sherlock appends quietly.

Mycroft nods, "Of course. Nancy, reschedule the meeting with Ms. Romanov and Mr. Tracy."

Anthea gives a knowing nod. "Of course, Sir. Anything else?"

"No."

Anthea exits the room, closing the door quietly behind her.

Sherlock slumps in the chair and tucks his feet up to his chest burying his head into his knees. He remains like this for nearly five minutes before Mycroft plops down next him, laptop balanced on his knees. Sherlock looks up at him, startled.

Mycroft glances at him, but doesn't comment, focusing instead on his screen.

They remain like this for almost three hours. Sherlock texts John to let him know that Mrs. Hudson has Rosie and after receiving the pointed "and where are you!?" says he's with Mycroft.

Their revere is broken by the door being thrown open, and a man stuffing himself into the office and Anthea scrambling after him. Sherlock's spine stiffens with recognition.

Michaels.

"You!" Michaels spits out angrily, finger pointing out at Mycroft.

"Sir—I really am going to have to ask you to—" Anthea starts, her hand shifting to her belt where she keeps her taser.

"Shut up, woman!"

Mycroft jerks to his feet in front of Sherlock, placing the laptop on the chair. "James."

Michaels is drunk. His breath reeks of alcohol and his stance bares scars from a recent drink. "Don't bloody start that Holmes!" He rages, "You ruined my life!"

"I merely gave you what you deserved." Mycroft says smoothly, but Sherlock can see the anxiety between his shoulders.

Michaels snorts, then his head tilts slightly and lands on Sherlock. His chest tightens and he shrinks slightly. Michaels sneers, "Good evening, Sherly. You stop weeping yet?"

Mycroft takes a step forward, murder in his stance. "Stay away from my brother or so help me—"

"I've got twenty years in the cellar for what you told them. Twenty years, oh bloody— I hate you!" Michaels swings a hand up and it slams into Mycroft's face sending him tumbling backwards.

"Mycroft!" The cry is torn from his throat without consent and Sherlock rises to his feet, protective rage surging through him.

Michaels attempts to leap for his sibling again and two things happen:

Anthea fires her taser as Sherlock grabs the nearest book off of the desk. The eight hundred pages of maps slams into Michaels head as the taser tears into his back.

He's unconscious before he hits the ground.

Sherlock releases a breath heavily as Mycroft rises to his feet slowly and looks between them. "Do you think you got him?"

Sherlock lets out a shaky laugh and looks towards him. "Are you alright?" His face is bruising. Sherlock wished he had a reason to slam the book into Michaels head again.

"Fine." Mycroft assures. Anthea takes a step forward, pocketing her blackberry.

"Security's on their way." She announces.

Sherlock releases a breath again and stares down at the man who causes this mess. Mycroft rests a hand on his shoulder and Sherlock looks up at him.

"Thank you, brother mine." He says sincerely.

Sherlock nods. "Of course."

You save me. I save you. That's the way it works, and it always will because they're family. And neither needs another reason.