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How Long?

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It's bright. Far, far too bright. But, Sherlock supposes, it isn’t really. It just is to him. A shaky hand pulls back the veil that covers the window pane set into the front door. He peers out, squinting at the early morning light, eyes not used to the starkness of what he is seeing. The glass is frosted, but he can make out the distorted shapes of bushes and trees, and the occasional zooming blur of a car going past. It’s like a painting by Monet.

Monet.

Sherlock grasps the book to his chest with his hand. ‘The works of Claude Monet’. His only saving grace for the last…how long? How long? How long? How long?

A sob rises in his throat but Sherlock supresses it when he remembers he has to be quiet. ‘Be quiet, Sherlock.’ The John in his head says. ‘You got all the way to the front door, so don’t blow it all now’.

The front door. This feels to Sherlock as if this is the best thing he has ever accomplished. None of the cases he used to solve, none of them, can surmount to how much of an achievement this is. He giggles quietly until the John in his head tells him to shut up.

“Sorry, John.” He mutters under his breath, but this only sets him off again. He is talking to John, but it’s not John because he hasn’t seen John in…. how long? How long? How long? How long?

The morning light outside the window is beginning to burn his eyes, so he lowers them to stare at his bare feet, and takes a few steadying breaths to calm down his giggles. Why is he still standing here? He should’ve pulled the door open already and made his escape. God knows how long he’s wanted to do that, but now that he’s here…he feels afraid. Afraid from all sides. Afraid of his kidnapper, afraid of the outside world, afraid of…John. How will John react? Will he be mad that Sherlock left without saying goodbye, even if he had no choice in it?

When did Sherlock get so scared? He never used to be scared of anything, but now he…. he doesn’t know how he feels. Feelings were always difficult and he’s been trapped with his own mind for too long.

‘Sherlock, the only thing you need to do right now is escape and find help. Can you do that?’

He nods and grips the book closer to his chest. Quietly, ever so quietly, he reaches up for the door latch. Blessedly the door opens when he turns the latch down. He almost sobs again in relief. Thank god for his kidnapper’s slacking. Probably took too many drugs this time, Sherlock muses. If only he had given me some, too.

Sherlock.’ The John in his head scolds him.

“Sorry, John.” Sherlock mutters again and gently peels the door open with his dirty fingers. The bright light becomes worse, and Sherlock sucks in a shaky breath as his eyes behold the outside world for the first time in…. How long? How long? How-

‘Sherlock, you need to go now.’

Sherlock jumps, “Sorry John.” He mumbles, and tentatively puts one foot in front of the other and steps over the threshold.

He cannot stop the tears that run down his face as he sets off out of the house and into the street. He’s not entirely sure where he is, which makes him cry harder because he should. The place is suburban, the houses with little lawns at the front. Sherlock didn’t look back at his prison, he probably should, so that when he has to give evidence he will be more useful, but he just can’t.

He spots a street sign. It tells him he is in London, and he sobs once again. A man walking his dog on the other side of the road gives him a weird look. He must look weird, he thinks, with his bare feet and wearing only a flimsy t-shirt and pyjama trousers. His kidnapper had told him numerous times how weird he was, and this man with the dog has just confirmed that he had been right.

Sherlock tries, he really tries, to conjure up his map of London, but his mind palace has been out of service for too long. He had driven it into overdrive and now he can’t quite seem to access it. All that remains is John. John, who has walked with him through the corridors of locked doors with a comforting hand in his when he couldn’t take reality anymore and had to escape from the dark cellar. Well, escape mentally at least. Standing barefoot in the street, Sherlock sniffs, bringing up the sleeve of his shirt to wipe his nose. God knows he’s had to suffer with worse conditions than a snotty shirtsleeve. Blindly he sets off to the left, just wanting to get as far away from his prison as possible. He tries to run, but he is devoid of energy, the adrenaline of fear and hope the only thing keeping him going. He hasn’t been fed in what feels like approximately three days, and has been without nothing but small sips of water for two.

Luckily he stumbles across a phone box, and his immediate thought is to call John. He has never forgotten his number. Not after…How long? How long? How-

‘Sherlock, come on, get a grip. You cannot phone me, no matter how much you want to. You haven’t got any money. You have to call the police.’ John urges.

Sherlock nods, “Sorry, John.”

He can almost feel the hand that would squeeze his arm.

Sniffing back tears he dials the 999 and holds the phone up to his ear.

“Police.” He tells the woman on the other end of the phone, and then to the police service that answers, “please, help me, my name is S-Sherlock Holmes, I’ve been missing for-”

How long?

How long?

How long?