Actions

Work Header

The Low Road

Chapter Text

Nothing was quite right.

Even as the blankness of unconsciousness gave way to the vividness of dreaming, his mind filtered, sorted and concluded that something was wrong.

Maybe it was the sounds, or lack thereof. Maybe it was the smells that were somehow unfamiliarly familiar. Or maybe it was the weight across his supine positioned body that spoke of a bed with covers that his mind had no recollection of reaching. Maybe it was all or nothing of these, but by the time his conscious mind reassert itself, he knew for certain that something was not right.

Turning, shifting, stretching, he used the last moments of semi-consciousness to conclude that yes, he was in bed, but this was not his bed.

His eyes snapped opened.

Light flooded in and for a moment his brain screamed in protest, pain blazing bright across his brow, behind his eyes, before settling down into a steady thrum of discomfort. Dehydration, he realised, his mouth feeling tacky, his tongue heavy, even as he registered the first signs of needing to urinate.

He lay still.

The ceiling above his head was white and uneven before sloping away to exposed dark wood beams, slightly warped with age. It was a far cry from the plain stone and brick of his college, and further still from the wider urban township he had grown accustomed to.

This was definitely not his room, but also not somewhere he had ever been before. For a moment he considered the likelihood of his brother's interfering hand, but the simple yet warmly decorated room was a far cry from either the overblown Victoria extravagance his brother favoured, or the white clinical starkness he would have expected from a medical facility.

Anyway, Mycroft was busy utilising his unique meddling skills in Hong Kong on behalf of the Motherland. Even his reach did not stretch half way round the globe, at least not since Uncle Rudy had been taken ill.

Mummy and Daddy were also abroad, enjoying a cruise in the Caribbean. The absence of all authority figures had made this the perfect time for experimentation and discovery, free from the eyes of those who would protest and stop him.

Illegal drugs, it turned out, were surprisingly easy to get hold of among the nouveau riche and the lower landed gentry of his elite university. Cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, whatever he wanted, however he wanted it, and he wanted it, oh God he wanted it. Anything to break up the tedium; to release his mind; to take away the encompassing emptiness life inflicted upon him.

He had had a plan, and that plan had involved a week of uninterrupted cocaine solutions. The plan had not involved waking up in an unknown bed with no memory of how he had got there.

The last thing he remembered was prepping the solution, preparing his vein, and....

He tugged himself upright, the covers slipping down as he sought out his left forearm. The puncture mark burned an angry red against his otherwise pale skin. So he had injected, but this was not the come down from a cocaine high. This was... nothing. He remembered nothing. Everything was completely blank.

The creaking sound of movement below wrenched his attention back to his surroundings. He wasn't alone. Obviously. There was little chance he had managed to get himself into bed.

The noise was getting closer.

Throwing the covers completely off, he was relieved to realise he was still fully dressed, albeit missing his socks and boots. The air was surprisingly cool on his newly bared skin as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. His plan was to be up on his feet when the unknown person appeared, but a sudden bout of dizziness and faint nausea had him clenching tightly to the mattress edge even as a tap came on the door.

He didn't respond, just looked up warily as the door was pushed open.

Whoever he was expecting it wasn't who appeared. It wasn't one of his class or college acquaintances ready to spring some elaborate hazing event. It wasn't Mycroft, inexplicably called home from managing the empire by the siren of his baby brother's forays into mind altering drugs. Nor was it Uncle Rudy, risen from his sick bed, nor nurses in white confirming a section, nor Mummy or Daddy, tanned and fussing.

It was just a man of average height and build, of nondescript looks, and carrying a tray while being engulfed by a beige Aran jumper.

He was also vaguely familiar.

"Thought I'd heard you moving," the man said in a pleasant tone, offering a warm smile as he moved to rest the tray on the side table. "How are you feeling? Any dizziness, nausea? That's quite normal by the way."

Maybe it was the words, or the tone of voice, but something shifted in his mind as the kaleidoscope of mental images that formed part of his memory settled on a particular time and place.

He frowned because he was confused by the connections, but was certain he was right. "Doctor Watson?" he asked.

The resulting smile distracted him from the way his voice had cracked over the words. The smile was nothing if not absolutely genuine, broad and warm with a healthy dose of surprised pleasure.

"I wasn't sure you would remember me," the man said, turning away to bend over the tray. A moment later a tall glass of cold water was offered to him. "Here, this should help, but sip, don't gulp. It won't do any good if you bring it all up again."

The water was a balm for his dry mouth and he had finished half before it even dawned on him to be mistrustful of a beverage from a near stranger, even if that stranger was a doctor. Slowing his sips, he then lowered the glass, watching as the man in question perched carefully on the bed beside him.

"May I?" the man asked before motioning for his arm.

Momentarily unsure, he hesitated until cool fingers pressed expertly against his wrist directly over his radial artery.

"A little fast," the doctor said after a moment, "but nothing to be worried about. The water should help."

The water was helping. The pain in his head was starting to ease and the glass gave him something to grip onto, but that still left him with questions. The most pressing of which was-

“Where am I?”

The doctor raised his eyebrows and quirked his lips. “Can’t you deduce it?” he asked, his teasing tone tempered by the small, soft smile that inexplicably spoke of fondness and affection. It was a far cry from the scornful mockery he got when he revealed his 'trick' at university.

Looking away, he took a moment to take in everything he had previously glossed over. There was a barrage of previously ignored information already stored in his brain and he opened his mouth before he even really knew where to begin.

"The slanted, uneven ceiling and exposed old dark wooden beams says period property," he started. "The colour and warping pattern of the beams suggests oak, which says well-built and so likely initially expensive. The furniture is mahogany, in a Georgian style. From the wear and slight fading on one side I'd say original not mock. From the scratches I'd say used but not constantly. Fading on the wallpaper suggests pictures have been removed, some more recently than others. The room has been stripped of personal artefacts, but the rug on the floor shows that effort has been made to keep it comfortable. The sheets and duvet are clean but slightly faded from repeat washes so not new, but they match the curtains suggesting the bed has been slept in regularly so unlikely to just be a guest room.

"None of this, though, gives a clue as to location as period properties can be found all over. The fading of the wallpaper says south-facing. The shadows say early afternoon. It’s raining. There was no rain forecast for Cambridge, so either I’ve been out for a lot longer than I believe, or we’re not in Cambridge any…more….”

He trailed off as the doctor, who as he had been speaking had risen to his feet and moved across the room, tugged open the heavy curtains. Pale light flooded in, and although dampened by the greyness of the cloud cover and the light but steady rain, it did little to obscure the sight of the rugged sweeping landscape that was definitely not part of the Home Counties.

“Ceud mìle fàilte, Sherlock Holmes,” the doctor beamed. “Welcome to the Highlands.”

*

Nothing made any sense.

For a short while, Doctor Watson had been a part time GP at their doctors surgery. Polite and proficient, he had been liked well enough for the fifteen or so months he had been there. Then he had moved away and life in the village had continued as it always had.

That had been about four years ago.

There had been nothing in those fifteen months to suggest why he had now been abducted from his university and brought the best part of 500 miles north to the middle of nowhere. And, to all intents and purposes, the Scottish Highlands was the epitome of the middle of nowhere, at least for the British Isles.

The view from the window had revealed hills and heather, but nothing in the way of other buildings or people. Doctor Watson had likewise not offered anything tangible other than to say that there was tea downstairs and to come down when he was ready.

Tea? What did tea have anything to do with? Why was none of this making any sense at all?

It had to be the drugs. This was all part of some elaborate plan to get him away from the drugs. Mycroft, it had to be. Somehow. Probably a spy amongst his course mates. And he's pulled in the good doctor to oversee his rehabilitation.

Wrenching open the door, he ignored the closed door opposite and headed down the wooden stairs with a heavy foot.

"He's a meddling, interfering fat arse," he stated on reaching the bottom of the stairs.

It was open plan at the bottom, a large airy room that somehow managed to be both spacious and cosy. To the right was the living area, complete with sofa, armchairs and a sweeping view of the highlands. To the left there was a small kitchen area with table and chairs. Between them were bookshelves and a desk.

It was from the table that the doctor looked up from the newspaper spread before him. His hand clutched a mug containing the remains of a hot drink; his smile was one of amusement.

"Probably," the doctor agreed brightly, "but it depends to whom you are referring and why."

Sherlock slumped off the last step. "My brother," he clarified. "Mycroft."

Inexplicably the doctor's grin only grew. "I'll have to take your word for it," the doctor said. "Although I do recall that he was somewhat overweight. Your mother had hoped he would grow out of it. What's he done now?"

Sherlock frowned, the words throwing him off somewhat. "He put you up to this," he said.

He was met with further amusement.

"Why would he have done that?" the doctor asked.

"Because of the drugs." Obviously.

The doctor hummed slightly, sitting back as he cradled his mug. "Ah, yes, I can see why you would think that."

It had all gone strange again and Sherlock found himself off balance as everything once again ceased to make sense.

"He didn't hire you to abduct me?" he said slowly.

"Nope," the doctor said.

"Uncle Rudy then," he said.

"Nope."

"My parents-"

"No one hired me to bring you here."

He couldn't stop the questioning look, but the doctor failed to continue. It was almost as if he was taking great delight out of the situation.

"Kettle is on the stove if you would like a hot drink, although it may need reheating. Tea bags, sugar, and mugs are on the side. Or there is coffee if you would prefer. Milk is in the fridge."

The barrage of information almost distracted him from the questions at hand.

"Is this about the drugs?"

"No."

The weird thing was that the doctor actually appeared to be telling the truth. Mostly.

"Look,” the doctor continued, “I won't tell you the drugs aren’t an issue, but you're old enough to make your own decisions over what you do and don't put into your body. I won't lie, I find it sad that someone with such a brilliant mind as yourself would take such stupid risks with it, but I'm not here to stop you. I'm not that altruistic."

So if it wasn't the drugs, what was it?

"Then why am I here?" he asked.

"Because I want you to be."

"You kidnapped me."

"That's one way of looking at it."

"I'm your... prisoner?"

"I prefer guest."

"Which means you want something."

"Yes."

But what? Money? Leverage? Revenge? Nothing fitted.

"What? What? What do you want?"

"Can't you work it out?"

He shook his head in frustration.

The doctor's expression softened from amusement to something else completely, something almost predatory.

"You," the doctor said. "I want you."

*

The world shifted again, the jagged pieces leaping into the air, spinning around before falling back to create a new picture.

He stepped back.

"Me?" he mouthed.

The doctor stayed quiet, just watched him with a mild, calm expression.

"I don't-" he stuttered, even as his eyes darted around for possible exits. "I don't understand."

Again the doctor didn't respond.

"Why would you- What would you- I don't- You want-"

Me. Physically. Physically me? Me. Me? Sex? Was it sex? Was that what he was referring to? Was it sex with me?

Why? What? Why?

"Bathroom is the door through the kitchen to your left."

The soft words broke through the maelstrom of words pounding his head and his eyes shifted automatically to the door he had already made a note of. His weight shifted automatically, ready to run, to hide, to get away in any shape or form, but he forced himself to hesitate. Was it a trap? Was he missing something? Was there another meaning?

The doctor offered nothing more, just continued to sit calmly at the table, newspaper spread, mug in hand, just watching him.

Wrong, wrong, this was all wrong.

He could hear his breathing getting louder, his pulse getting harder and faster. The pressure in his head slid back into pain and his mouth felt dry despite the recent drink. The reminder that he still needed to urinate came back to the forefront of his mind.

He needed- he needed-

He went for the bathroom, shutting the door firmly behind him. Scrambling for the bolt lock, he breathed deeply as it slid into place, momentarily resting his head against the rough wood before pushing away to look around.

It was a bathroom - plain, simple and a bit old fashioned with a shower nozzle attached to the bath taps. A toilet was a toilet though, and the water from the sink was cool against his skin.

None of this made sense.

Why would- why would-

There was movement from the other side of the wall. Footsteps, running water and then a brief clunk of metal against metal. He waited. The footsteps retreated.

He was being left alone. There was only one way out of the room - the window was obviously too small to get through - but he was being left alone.

He breathed deeply.

Was he panicking? Why was he panicking?

He gripped the sink.

Alright. He was alright. He may have been drugged, kidnapped by an old vague acquaintance and brought to the middle of nowhere by someone who apparently wanted him in some way that may or may not be sexual in nature, but so far he was fine. The doctor had not moved to touch him, other than to check his pulse, and had in fact remained rather nonchalant about the whole thing.

Wrong. Wrong. All so very wrong.

The high pitched whistle brought him back to the present. It was an old sound, one from his childhood. Familiar. Almost comforting, like the smell of honey and old books. A stove top kettle rather than an electric one then, almost quaint.

Footsteps again, then further clunking, the tinkling of water, the tapping of a spoon.

Just a hot drink. Perfectly normal.

(Nothing here was normal).

Retreating footsteps and then quiet again.

He breathed out. Then breathed in again.

He couldn't stay here forever. (Why not?) Which meant going back out there. Maybe he had mistaken the doctor's meaning. Just because the other man said he wanted him didn’t necessarily mean he meant sexually. (What else could he mean?) .

He slowly slid back the door bolt.

Doctor Watson was back in his seat, facing towards him, the table and newspaper between them. A freshly made mug of tea sat steaming on the table, the opposite end from the doctor.

"Thought you could do with something hot and sweet," the doctor said.

He still held his own mug, although he hadn't refilled it.

"I haven't done anything to it," he added after a moment. "If that's what you're worried about."

They stared at each other.

"Okay, I probably deserve that," the doctor said ruefully. Reaching over, he picked up the drink and pointedly took a sip. He grimaced slightly as he swallowed. "Sorry," he apologised, putting the drink back. "Probably not a helpful reaction. It's the sugar. Never could get used to sugar in tea. I can make you another if you'd prefer. Or you can make one yourself."

Neither of them moved.

They each watched the other.

In the end it was Sherlock who broke the silence. "You drugged me," he said.

"Yes."

There was no apology on the doctor's face, and his confession was just a statement of fact absent of ethics or morality. It was... odd. Normal people didn't act like this. At least not the normal people he had come across.

"To be fair," the doctor finally added with what was undoubtedly going to be the justification or explanation, "you drugged yourself." The doctor nodded towards him, towards his arm. "I just switched the bags. But in essence, yes, I drugged you."

He automatically reached for his forearm, pressing his thumb against the puncture mark. Had it really been that simple?

"How-?" he frowned.

The doctor offered a small shrug. "A quick sleight of hand. A little misdirection. Just a common trick."

It sounded so simple when explained.

"Why?"

"I didn't think you would come willingly."

That was true. It was always easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

He swallowed. His mouth felt dry again.

“You want me,” he repeated slowly.

“Yes.”

Sherlock blinked. "Is this… do you want… is this a sexual thing?"

“Yes.”

“You… you want to… have sex with me?”

"Hmm, yes. Very much so." The doctor's gaze didn't falter.

"Why?"

"Because I like you. Because I find you attractive. Because you're brilliant."

He frowned.

The doctor tipped his head as if considering something. "Is it really that hard to believe?" he asked.

Of course it bloody well was. While he knew he wasn't unattractive, he was also far from conventionally handsome. The very small number of people who had ever shown an interest in him physically had all retreated quickly the moment he opened his mouth. Yet here he was with someone who called him brilliant and wanted him so much they had resorted to kidnapping.

"What if I don't want-" He shook his head, unwilling to finish that thought. "You can't honestly think you're going to get away with this?"

The doctor said nothing.

"They're going to realise I'm gone and they'll come after me."

Again there was no reaction.

"My brother..." he started, was in Hong Kong. His uncle was indisposed. His parents were in the Caribbean. His lectures had been cancelled for a week for reasons he hadn’t bothered to pay attention to. He had no friends to speak off. The people in his halls would hardly miss him. And the only professor that really mattered was on sabbatical until the next term.

For a moment it became brilliantly clear just how well this had been orchestrated. He was alone, in the middle of nowhere, with an obviously clever man who could do whatever he wanted to him, and no one would find out until it was far too late.

"You're going to rape me."

And then kill him. Because that's how these things went.

The doctor shook his head, but that didn't matter.

Liar.

"You're going to rape and then kill me."

His legs hit the cupboard behind him.

"No."

Kidnapper. Abductor.

There had to be something here. Something he could use.

"Sherlock, calm down."

Psychopath.

"Rape me and kill me," he repeated.

"No. No."

Something about the word cut through the panic around him.

"Sherlock, listen to me. I swear I am not going to rape you."

The doctor was on his feet now, but hadn't made a move to get closer to him.

"I promise you that," the doctor continued. "I'm not going to lie, I want us to be sexually intimate, but I'm not going to force you. Understand? I'm not going to rape you. I'm not even going to touch you without your permission. Okay? And I'm certainly not going to kill you. Do you understand?"

He heard the words, he stared at the earnest, open face, he ran through everything he knew about this man and then slowly he nodded.

The doctor let out a deep breath. "Good. Now, why don't you...."

Sherlock bolted for the door.

*

The rain hit his face the same moment the realisation that the door actually was unlocked struck him. He honestly hadn't been expecting that, his body working more on instinct than cognitive reasoning. He had gone for the door because he had needed to try. He just never thought he would make it.

Outside and he was suddenly faced with a whole new set of issues. It was cold, it was wet, he was isolated in the middle of the Scottish Highlands in November, and he had neither a coat nor shoes on.

Although not particularly heavy, the rain was constant and insistent, soaking through his clothing and dripping down his face within moments. What had been a beautiful scenic view less than an hour before was now a monstrous wilderness, stretching outwards from him and ending in a haze of poor light. Behind the clouds the sun was already nearer the horizon than its zenith, stealing away the last of the natural light.

All in all, he was unlikely to get very far on foot.

He automatically headed for the jeep parked a few feet from him. He had no expectations for it to be anything but locked, so was surprised when that too opened under his hands. There were no keys though.

Diving in, he slammed the door behind him, breathing deeply as he locked both the driver and passenger doors. It was a stupid sense of false security, but it was something, and it gave him time. Time for what, exactly? He had many skills, but hot-wiring a year old jeep was not one of them. And disappearing into the gorse and heather on foot was definitely not an option.

He would not give into despair though. There was a man in that house who had kidnapped him and wanted sex. Staying was not an option.

If the door was unlocked there might be a spare set of keys in the vehicle itself.

He searched and he searched again; glove compartment, dashboard, visor, door compartments, under the seats, under the mats. There was no spare set of keys.

He jumped at the sound of tapping from the passenger window.

The rain ran through the doctor's hair and across the coat he had obviously taken the time to put on. For a dangerous kidnapper and potential rapist he looked remarkably innocent, with his mild expression and nonchalant attitude. Just another everyday man in his late thirties, early forties, a teacher, or vicar... or your doctor.

He motioned for the window to be unwound, then waited patiently, seemingly mindless of how wet he was getting.

Keeping an eye on him, Sherlock slowly leaned over, turning the window handle through one rotation to create a small gap at the top.

"Here," the doctor said, holding up what appeared to be the jeep keys. "You might want these."

Carefully, almost as if dealing with a spooked animal, the doctor reached up to push the keys through the slit in the window. They dropped with a clang.

"You should know, though," he continued, "the tank is sort of empty."

And there was the catch.

"When you're done here, come back in and we'll talk. Just talk. Alright?"

The doctor gave a small nod as he finished and patted his hand against the door.

"Oh, and in case it helps, I could have done anything to you while you were unconscious, but I didn't because that's not who I am. I'm a lot of things, some of them a bit not good, but I'm not that person. Understand?"

He stared at the man but made no other sign of comprehension.

Breathing out, the doctor gave him one last look over before turning back to the house, hands in packet as he went. The house door closed behind him.

Small drops of rain made their way through the gap in the window, some trickling down the inside of the glass. Sherlock barely registered them as he sat, the steering wheel gripped tightly in his hand.

It was true, his mind told him, anything could have been done to him while he was unconscious. But it hadn't, had it. He had awoken in a comfortable bed, with his clothes - other than his shoes and socks - still on. He could have quite easily have awoken to find himself handcuffed, or bound to the bed, or worse, but he hadn't. He had been given space, given a drink, been treated more like a guest than a captive, but there was no guarantee that that would continue. A man who not only considered abducting a near stranger but also carried it through could not be completely sane. Except, to Sherlock's rational mind he could understand the thought process the doctor must have gone through. In a twisted way it made a strange amount of sense.

Leaning over, he gathered the keys from where they had fallen onto the passenger seat. They were nothing special, just a key and a Gaelic knot keyring.

He slipped the key into the ignition. Somehow he wasn't surprised when the engine failed to turn over properly. The red blinking light on the dashboard told him that in one thing at least the doctor hadn't been lying.

The jeep was out of petrol.

He took out the key.

There was a certain madness about going back into the house, like walking calmly to your own execution. Yet that was exactly what he was going to do, and both he and the doctor knew it. He was being manipulated, he knew that too, but he couldn't see that he had any other choice.

It was still raining when he slipped out of the car. The gravel against his bare feet was a reminder of just how cold he was. And how vulnerable. His clothes were saturated; his shirt clinging limply to his skin, his jeans were already moving into the realm of itchy and uncomfortable. He was also tired and hungry, and he was just stalling the inevitable.

The doctor's coat hung still dripping from the back of one of the kitchen chairs. The doctor himself was crouched by the open fireplace in the lounge area, frowning critically at the small flame he was cultivating in the grid.

"Sorry," he said rising to his feet. "Been a while since I've tried to light one of these. Took longer than I expected. Give it a few minutes though and I'm sure it will go some way to warming you up."

The doctor had taken off his shoes and socks as well. No doubt because they were wet. It did draw some attention to his pale feet though, so innocent in appearance, much like the Aran jumper that almost swamped him.

The man was an abductor.

"I slung a towel on the radiator over there. Should be a little warm by now. You should change out of those wet things sooner rather than later. There's a bag of your stuff by the sofa there. I just grabbed a selection of your things, so apologies if they don't match. There are more clothes in the wardrobe upstairs though. You're welcome to help yourself."

Spotting the bag, Sherlock silently went to grab it, snagging the towel as he went. This wasn't giving in. This was just a sensible retreat to allow for recovery and regrouping.

He took the stairs two at a time.

It was noticeably cooler upstairs, the open fire downstairs having already made some difference to the lower floor, but the towel in his hand was warm enough to make stripping not as arduous as it might have been.

His bag had been packed with military-like neatness and it wasn't hard to pull out a new shirt and pair of slacks. There were socks and pants also in the bag, and he tried not think about the doctor going through his underwear drawer or what he might have done to his sock index. He added a jumper to his new, dry clothing and felt himself warm further.

There was nowhere for him to put his wet things though, so it was with some reluctance that he slowly made his way back down the stairs, towards the main heat source.

The fire was considerably larger now, adding brightness as well as warmth to the room. The doctor was once more crouched beside it, carefully feeding additional logs, seemingly mindless of the heat it was throwing off.

"Is it okay to hang up my wet things?" he asked when it became clear that his presence hadn't been noticed.

"Oh, of course," the doctor responded, his voice trailing off before he added, "make yourself at home."

The wooden clothes airer was the obvious choice and carefully pulling it out, he shook his clothing out before hanging them onto it. Then he added the towel he had borrowed.

Turning, he found the doctor now watching him, a somewhat distant expression on his face. It was the first time he had seen the doctor with such a look and it was somehow sad.

He was still an abductor though, Sherlock reminded himself.

"You're bound to be hungry," the doctor said after a moment. "There's plenty to eat in the kitchen, but I'm guessing you'd prefer to talk first."

He rose to his feet and took a seat in the armchair closest to him. That left the empty armchair closet to Sherlock, or the sofa.

Sherlock took the second armchair.

They sat in silence for a moment, each watching the other.

"One week," the doctor finally said, drumming his fingers across the armrest of the chair. "That's all I ask for. You stay here with me for one week. We interact, get to know each other, then at the end of the week you decide the final outcome. Either we have sex, or we don't. Either way the choice is yours. I will try to persuade you, of course, but I'm not going to force you, and I'm certainly not going to force myself upon you." He grimaced at that thought. "Whatever your choice, though, after that you can leave, and I swear I won't come after you. Just seven days, that's all I ask."

It was not what Sherlock had been expecting.

"Seven days?" he asked.

The doctor nodded. "Today is Friday, right? Let's say that by this time next Friday you will have made up your mind. Then whatever your decision, next Saturday morning, you will be on your way out of here, back to Cambridge, plenty of time before your lectures resume on the Monday."

"You'll let me leave?" Sherlock asked carefully.

"Of course."

The doctor didn't appear to be lying.

"I could go straight to the police," he pointed out. "I could have you arrested."

"Yes."

He narrowed his eyes. "You're not concerned?"

"No."

"Why?"

The doctor seemed to consider this. "I knew the risks," he said, "and I decided to do this anyway. I won't run from the consequences."

"I get to choose whether we-"

"Yes."

There was another long pause, the doctor staring at the fire, his fingers tapping without rhythm.

"I know you have no reason to trust me," he said finally, lifting his head so their eyes met again. "I haven't exactly given you reason to, but this is the truth. I will not purposely harm you, I will not touch you without your permission, and I will provide you with everything you need to leave this place the morning of the eighth day from now. All I ask that you give me a chance."

An abductor asking for a chance?

He considered the proposal.

"Seven days and I decide?"

"Yes."

"And then you'll let me go?"

"Yes."

"And I'll be able to say no without consequence or retaliation?"

"Yes."

He studied the doctor's body language. There were several tell-tell signs that a person was lying, but the doctor was not showing any of them; confusion, guilt, hope, sadness and a hint of desperation, but not deception. He honestly appeared to believe what he was saying.

Seven days bought him time. Even a day would surely put him in a better position to escape or to defend himself than he was in right now. A lot can be planned within seven days. Considering everything, was he really going to get a better deal than that?

"Okay," he said after a moment.

The doctor's expression lit up with a mixture of surprise and hope. What would have happened if he had said no?

"You'll do it?"

He gave a brief nod.

"Thank you," the doctor said, his face crinkling into another genuine smile. "Thank you."

*

Seven days, five possible outcomes.

Lying still, he stared up at the same ceiling he had awoken to a number of hours earlier. Decision made, word given, the hours that followed had been conducted with quiet restraint, the doctor leaving him alone other than showing him around the kitchen and then making food for them both. Sherlock had not bothered to hide his scrutiny of the doctor's cooking - trust was something that had to be earned and food was too easily poisoned - but the doctor had borne it with little more than a knowing glance and a rueful smile.

Initial observations had showed the doctor to be proficient with a knife and a more than adequate cook.

It transpired that the doctor had liberated more than just clothing from his uni room. A selection of his course books had been brought also, complete with some of his notes and journals. Non course books were also among the assortment, including the two books on forensic science he had just taken from the library.

His violin, however, was noticeably absent.

Of course he was to make himself at home and so could make use of anything around, including the bookshelves, but he had declined to do so as of yet - there was plenty of time for that, seven days in fact.

He had, however, availed himself of the newspaper the doctor had been reading, minus the sports pages which had been used as kindling for the fire. The date matched what he assumed to be correct and according to the receipt he found on the floor under the table, the paper had been bought at 07:27 hours that morning from a service station near Stirling. While the confirmation of Stirling offered no real information - they were in the Highlands, Stirling was pretty much the gateway - the time suggested that the doctor had driven almost nonstop through the night. There was no knowing, though, how far, in both time and distant, they now were from Stirling.

The doctor had busied himself around the room, first with the cooking, then with the clearing and tidying. Logs were added to the fire, a puzzle book picked up and later put down, a novel plucked from the shelves. The hours ticked by in relative quiet, until Sherlock made his excuses.

It was only then that he realised that he had simply presumed that the bedroom he had awoken in would be his.

"Good night," the doctor had murmured offering a small smile. "There are extra sheets and blankets in the wardrobe if you find yourself in need. I'll see you tomorrow."

That had seemed to confirm it, and he was a few steps up the stairs before he heard the doctor's voice again.

"There's a bolt, on the inside of the door, should you find it helpful."

He hadn't responded to that, just continued up the stairs. Closing the door behind him, he found the bolt and slid it home.

Now in bed, waiting for sleep, he turned over everything he knew and everything he thought he knew.

Five possible outcomes; the doctor lets him go with or without sex; the doctor doesn't let him go, with or without sex; he escapes, negating the issues of sex and whether or not the doctor would let him go

Question one, was the doctor likely to let him go in seven days’ time?

He rolled over to his side.

Second question, was escape even viable?

Tomorrow, he decided, he would observe and deduce.

Tomorrow he would decide.