John was going out of his mind.
He had just returned from doing the shopping when he found the living room in disarray. The coffee table was tipped on its side, books had fallen onto the floor from the desk, and there were what looked a lot like bullet holes in the back of Sherlock's chair. Along with all of that was a small amount of blood dripped across the floor.
John, of course, called Lestrade right away, and then sent a text to Mycroft. The policeman immediately brought over a team to sweep for fingerprints and collect evidence (which annoyingly contained Anderson) and Mycroft sent...whoever it was that Mycroft had working for him to see if the security camera across the street had caught anything of the abduction.
Lestrade's people ("idiots," Sherlock's voice whispered in his mind) found absolutely nothing except for the fact that it was Sherlock's blood on the floor (John shuddered with worry) and that the holes in the chair were bullet holes but the bullets had been removed so there was no way to tell what kind (Sherlock would know by one look).
Early in the next morning, Mycroft gave him a few video tapes
One of the large men picked the lock on the door and they all entered, Moriarty walking with the arrogant confidence John had begun to associate with the criminal a while ago. Eleven minutes later (19:41:58) the front door opened again and Moriarty strutted out, mad grin visible even through a grainy security video. Behind him came two of the large men, holding...holding Sherlock between them.
Sherlock was thrashing, doing everything he could to escape the hold on him, but he was gagged and blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back, and he was bleeding from a cut on his head. Moriarty opened the car door with a flourish and said something which caused Sherlock to freeze for a second before redoubling his efforts to escape. Moriarty laughed, throwing his head back, and the two men shoved Sherlock into the car before following him in.
Moriarty continued to just stand outside the car, hands resting casually in his pockets. After about a minute, the third man exited 221B. Moriarty and the man exchanged a few words before the man climbed into the car. Moriarty glanced around one last time and his eyes landed on the security camera. He looked surprised for a second and then grinned maniacally. He winked and waved flirtatiously at the camera before sliding into the car, which then pulled away. 19:43:01.
The whole thing took only twelve minutes. Fifteen minutes after John left, Sherlock was gone. John knew that he returned to the flat only six minutes later. He missed saving Sherlock by only six minutes.
The other video tapes were various security cameras in the city following the car, before it lost it somewhere in the center of London. Lestrade and his people went over the videos over and over again, looking for clues, and tried to track down other videos of the car, but John knew that if Mycroft had lost the trail, then the police had no chance.
There was absolutely no news all of the second and third days, and it looked like the forth day would be much of the same. That was, until John got back to the flat around five pm (he'd been camped out at Scotland Yard and Lestrade had finally forced him home) and found a letter and a flashdrive waiting on the coffee table, addressed to him.
Taking a deep breath, John shed his coat and made his way over. He glanced at the flashdrive (it was labeled 'Watch me!') before picking up the letter.
I do hope you're doing well. Down below I have included a link to a website that you might find interesting, as well as a list of drugs (that'll make more sense later!). But before you follow any of those nasty leads, I suggest you watch the video on the flashdrive first. Feel free to invite your friends from Scotland Yard to watch it with you, as well as the Ice Man.
Hugs and kisses from me and Sherlock!
Underneath that was, in fact, a link to a website and a list of drugs and serums. None of them sounded the least bit good.
John felt a thrill of anger run through him and his hands tightened on the letter. He forced himself to calm down
When he plugged in the flashdrive, a video immediately popped up. John pushed play.
Moriarty's face appeared on the screen. He was grinning, his eyes bright and mad. "Hello, there! If you're watching this then you got my letter and it's day-" he dramatically checked his wrist, as if looking at a watch, "-four of your darling detective's captivity
"You see, Sherlock has a problem, which means I have a problem. He's got these pesky morals that hold him back from being magnificent. Without those, without anything keeping him from reaching his potential, he and I could rule the world. So I thought long and hard about how to get rid of them, and it hit me: behavioral and memory modification!
"Now, as you all know, Sherly's brain works a bit differently than all of you normal people's. It's like a hard-drive; he can delete things and store things and keep a world of knowledge in that sexy head of his. So with the special drug cocktails that my awesome chemists came up with I should be able to get into his mind and pluck out anything I don't want there."
Moriarty sighed dramatically. "But, you see, Sherlock's morals are a bit different from everyone else's," he chuckled darkly, "as I'm sure you're aware. And they all stem from the influence of one person..." Moriarty's face twisted into a nasty snarl. "You, Dr. Watson. You have corrupted Sherly in the worst of ways and I need to fix that. Without you, John, Sherlock could thrive in my empire. So what do I need to do? I need to delete you."
The criminal grinned again and he opened his mouth as if to continue when someone groaned from behind him. Moriarty's grin grew with sadistic pleasure and his eyes sparkled brightly. "Looks like our guest of honor is awake! Why don't we say hello?"
Moriarty stepped to the side and Sherlock came into view. He was almost completely nude, wearing only his underwear. He was sitting in a chair, his hands and feet duck-taped to the arms and legs of the chair and his torso duck-taped to the back. His head was hanging against his chest, his mess of black curls limp. His head was shifting slightly as he came back into consciousness. He looked like he was trying to lift his head but couldn't quite manage it.
"Sherrrrrrlooooock," Moriarty cooed in a musical voice, moving to stand at the detective's side. He wrapped his hand in the black curls and slowly lifted his head up. Sherlock's eyes were slightly glazed, still coming out of whatever drugs had kept him unconscious. There was a deep bruise on his cheek and a cut on his lip. He was blinking slowly, trying to get his eyes to focus.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, my dear," Moriarty said with a grin. He stroked a hand down the side of Sherlock's face and Sherlock jerked away from the touch. Moriarty didn't look bothered by this in the slightest. "Oh, don't worry, Sherlock; soon you'll be begging for my touch."
"What..." Sherlock's voice was hoarse and he coughed before continuing, his voice stronger this time. "What would make you think that would ever happen?" He didn't seem to have noticed the camera, which meant that he was still very out of it or the camera was hidden somehow; possibly both.
"I'm going to give you a choice, Sherl," Moriarty pet his hand over Sherlock's hair in a way that would've seemed loving in any other situation. "It's a one-time offer so try not to decide too quickly! You can join me, right now, of your own volition and free will, or face option two, which I can say is a lot less pleasant."
"Oh, let me guess; you'll torture me into complying?" Sherlock's tone was bored and still a little scratchy.
Moriarty pouted as if the detective had hurt his feelings. "My, my, Sherlock, you always think the worst of me! No, I'm not going to torture you...much. I'm going to do something a helluva lot more clever and a helluva lot more fun!"
"Thanks," Sherlock drawled, "but I think I'll pass."
The madman shrugged, pleasant expression never shifting. It was unnerving. "Well, can't say I'm surprised; besides even if you had agreed to join me now I'm not sure I would've believed you
Moriarty sauntered away with one last pat to Sherlock's head and John took the moment to examine the room. The walls looked to be made of stone. There were no windows but the room was very well lit. The chair Sherlock was tied to was in the center of the room, a second chair placed somewhat to the side. In the left corner was a full-sized bed and in the other was a sink and toilet. The camera was placed so that the person watching could see everything.
John turned his attention back to Moriarty as the criminal stepped forward again. In his hand was a syringe with a yellow-ish liquid inside. He brandished the item towards the camera so that John could clearly see it and winked before stepping back over to Sherlock's side.
"Can you guess what this is, darling?" Moriarty said, his mouth right next to Sherlock's ear. His tongue darted out and licked the shell of Sherlock's ear, causing the bound man to jerk away. Moriarty chuckled under his breath.
After Sherlock stayed silent, Moriarty sighed like a put-upon parent dealing with an unreasonable child. "It's a lovely mixture of drugs designed perfectly to make you more compliant, more relaxed, more impressionable, and so much more open to suggestion. It's going to let me inside your sexy mind so that I can play."
Sherlock's expression was completely impassive but his shoulders were tense. "Good luck with that."
Moriarty laughed. "I'm going to break you Sherlock. I'm going to tear you to pieces brick by brick and then rebuild you exactly how I want you to be. Soon enough you'll hate yourself, you know why? Because you'll begin to want me, Sherlock. And then that hatred will pass, and you'll beg for my mind, my body. You'll beg for me to let you rule the world with me. And you won't even remember who Doctor John Watson is."
Sherlock jerked forward like he'd been burned, his eyes going wide. "You can't erase memories like that; it isn't possible. You can't erase memories of just a specific person. It won't work, Moriarty."
"No, you're right," Moriarty's voice was a whisper but John could hear him perfectly; microphones throughout the whole room? "I can't do that, but I've heard you talk about how your mind works, even read pieces about it in your dear doctor's blog; you can delete things you don't want or need to know. And with this cocktail-" he lifted the syringe to be right in front of Sherlock's eye. "-I can get into your mind and make you want to erase him. You'll do the hard part for me."
The consulting detective squeezed his eyes shut. "No, no; it won't work, it can't. You...you can't make me delete anything. My mind palace is impenetrable, you can't get it!"
"Ah, but weren't you listening, Sherlock?" Moriarty purred. "You're going to let me in."
Suddenly Moriarty straddled Sherlock's lap and slammed the needle into Sherlock's arm. Seconds later, the video ended, freezing on the picture of Moriarty grinning, his forehead pressed against Sherlock's as the detective slumped limply against his bonds, his mouth falling open in a soundless groan of pain.
After sitting and staring at the screen for a while, his stomach turning with bile, John called Lestrade. Ten minutes later, the detective inspector showed up with Donovan and two other policemen that John didn't care to remember the names of at the moment. Lestrade and the others watched the video themselves, their faces tight with worry and uneasiness.
"Well, these drugs listed here should do exactly what Moriarty said they would, especially when mixed," one of the policemen said, frowning at the letter that John had given to him. "Scopolamine, Amobarbital...Jesus, one of those alone would probably do the trick, but combined and with ten others just like them...god, this is a nightmare."
John put his head in his hands and tried to control his breathing. He felt a hand land on his shoulder and jumped slightly. He looked up to see Lestrade standing there, looking down at him sympathetically. "Have you tried entering the website link? Do you know what it is?"
The ex-soldier shook his head quietly. "No," his voice was quiet and he cleared his throat before speaking again. "No," he repeated, his voice louder this time. "After watching the video I didn't think of it." He was still sitting in front of his laptop, so he took the letter from the policeman with almost-shaking fingers and slowly typed in the website address.
The website was very plain, all together. A black background with a heading of 'Welcome One and All!'. Below that was a video of the same room from the last one, Sherlock still tied to the chair in the center and Moriarty was circling around him. In the corner of the video was the word 'LIVE' in glaring red. Then Moriarty began to speak.
"How are you doing, my dear?"
Jim Moriarty couldn't have been more pleased with how the events were playing out. John Watson and everyone else involved in the search for Sherlock were chasing their tales, not a single clue as to how to find the consulting detective.
It was the third full day that Jim had had Sherlock in his grasp. Almost every minute of it Jim had spent in that room with the other man, except for brief periods of time where he had to tend to outside matters (he did still run a criminal empire, after all). It wasn't like Sherlock noticed his absences, anyway, drugged through the roof as he was.
When Jim had decided on this course of action, he had been prepared for a long wait. Rome wasn't built in a day, and all that (and Sherlock's mind was far more impressive than Rome would ever be). But he wasn't exactly a patient person, and even though he was having a very good time playing with Sherlock's mind, he also wanted to see the final result now.
The consulting criminal circled around the consulting detective. He'd just given Sherlock another injection and he was enjoying watching it take effect; Sherlock's head fell back, his eyelids fluttering, and he exhaled heavily. His body loosened, relaxing in a way that Jim was sure Sherlock had never done before.
The drug worked perfectly for approximately 104 minutes before slowly starting to leave Sherlock's system. A few minutes later, Jim would administer another dose.
"How are you doing, my dear?" Moriarty asked lightly, tilting his head as Sherlock seemed to try and find where his voice was coming from, the drug distorting his senses slightly. "That was your twenty-eighth injection, Sherlock. You must be feeling quite sluggish."
Sherlock opened his mouth and his throat moved; he was trying to speak but everything about the drug was making it hard to do that
Jim continued to circle around Sherlock. He ran a hand through the man's black curls, then down his face and across his neck. Moriarty felt Sherlock shiver slightly at his touch and couldn't help the pleased chuckle that escaped him. "That's right, darling, just relaaaaaaax. See how nice this is? You and I? No one can make you feel this way, Sherlock."
"Drugs," Sherlock's voice was weak and barely a whisper. He was trying to fight back, prove to Moriarty that none of this meant anything, but Jim could see that Sherlock was also trying to remind himself of the fact that it was the drugs making him respond this way. He was defensive, which was good.
"No, no, no," Jim's voice was musical. "You know that's not quite true. You've always liked this, haven't you? You've always had so much more fun with me than with any of those dull little people."
Jim wasn't saying anything new. Most of their "sessions" over the past three days had involved much of the same messages; it might've felt repetitive, but that was the way this method worked: you had to reinforce the idea over and over again until it became true in their mind.
Sherlock shook his head; less in denial and more just trying to clear it.
"They don't like you anyway, Sherlock, why bother? What was it those kids used to call you in school? Oh yes; freak, monster. You hated them, and they hated you. You were so much more intelligent than them, so much more clever. You still are, more than anyone else. And yet they all still call you that, don't they? They still call you freak and monster. Even the people you work with, the ones you help on an almost daily basis."
The detective's eyes screwed shut, a subconscious attempt to block out what Jim was saying. Jim grinned and rubbed his hand up and down Sherlock's naked arm, causing the other man to shiver again.
"Some do it to your face, wanting you to know how much they hate you, like the Sergeant. But what about the ones that don't tell you? You're a smart man, Sherlock, surely you must know not everyone is confident enough to say it to your face. Like the DI Greg Lestrade and the sweet little pathologist Molly Hooper...they're only nice because you're useful to them.
"And don't even get me started on John." Moriarty's grin turned malicious as Sherlock jerked against his bonds; John was a very touchy subject for Sherlock
"You know it, my dear, why do you delude yourself? John Watson could never love you! You insult him and everyone he cares about on a daily basis, make him feel like he's nothing...the only reason he stays with you is because Mycroft pays him quite a lot of money to do so."
Sherlock was shaking slightly. "No, you're wrong, no. John...he...he cares..."
"Oh, darling," Jim said, trying his best to sound sympathetic. He pulled over the second chair and set it facing Sherlock's. He put one hand against the other man's jawline, turning his face towards Jim's, and the other on his side, stroking soothing circles. Constant touch
Sherlock's expression was filled with confusion and hurt and slight bliss. Jim was sure that no one had ever seen Sherlock like this, so open and honest, not a wall in place keeping his hated emotions back.
"Oh, my dear. You just want someone to really care about you so badly that you've convinced yourself that someone who hates you actually loves you. But I care about you, Sherlock. I care about you so very much. None of them do. You've known since you were a little boy that Mycroft hated you. Why would John be any different? If your own brother hates you, why wouldn't the man being paid by him?"
"No," Sherlock probably didn't even realize that he was leaning slightly into Moriarty's touch. "No, John turned the money down..."
Jim gave him a look that clearly said "do you really believe that?" and Sherlock seemed to be doubting his own words. Ah, the beauty of drugs that made people hyper-suggestible!
Sherlock looked so miserable, so confused. Jim moved forward, straddling Sherlock's lap. He put his hands on either side of Sherlock's face and leaned in so his breath washed across Sherlock's lips, causing the other man to shiver. "You are the most brilliant person I've ever met, Sherlock, and I don't call people that easily. Right now there are so many restrictions on you, keeping you from completing all the things you really want to do. But with me there are no boundaries, no limits; you can do anything you want!"
Jim closed the small distance between them, pressing a kiss against Sherlock's lips. For a few moments Sherlock was unresponsive but then his lips moved against Jim's and inside Jim whooped in victory. But after a few seconds Sherlock jerked his head to the side, breathing heavily.
"No," Sherlock was clearly trying to sound firm but the drugs were still very strong in his system.
"Don't worry, darling," Moriarty cooed, stroking Sherlock's cheek; Sherlock didn't move away from the touch. "Soon enough you'll be wanting nothing more than to kiss me."
John felt absolutely sick.
Moriarty had sent him a link to a live feed to the psychological torture of his best friend. John had to sit and watch as Moriarty drugged Sherlock up and fed him lie after lie. Sherlock was strong, both body and mind
John had been watching the feed for about five hours now with very few breaks. He wanted to stop, he wanted to never again see that stone room, Sherlock bound and drugged, Moriarty forcing his physical and mental touch onto a captured man; but he couldn't stop because it was Sherlock being broken down in front of his eyes. And Sherlock deserved someone to care enough to know what he was going through.
Lestrade and his people had left quite a while ago with a copy of the link, off to do only God knows what with their new information. John had texted the link to Mycroft as soon as he'd been able to drag his eyes away from the computer screen. He hoped Mycroft could do something useful with it but his hopes weren't high.
So far, John had listened to Moriarty speak badly about John and the others in Sherlock's life countless times. Moriarty was constantly touching Sherlock; there was barely a moment when the criminal didn't have a hand somewhere on Sherlock's body. John understood the basics of why Moriarty was doing that; in Sherlock's drugged state, the positive words Moriarty spewed about himself were reinforced with the kind touches.
Finally, after five fucking hours, Moriarty gave Sherlock one last kiss and stroke of his arm and told him he'd see him later. John watched Sherlock for a bit more, watched as he tried to calm himself down and regain control of his mind. He took a lot of deep breaths. It looked like he was trying to access his mind palace for a while but it wasn't working.
After what seemed like a long time, Sherlock drifted off to sleep.
The next seven days passed in very much the same way. John watched as Moriarty slowly broke Sherlock down, tearing apart how the detective viewed the people around him. For a while, Sherlock tried fighting back; he would tell Moriarty he was wrong and lying, but as the days went by Sherlock seemed to be believing his words less and less until he finally stopped speaking all together.
Sometimes, in the times when Moriarty left Sherlock alone, John could hear his friend murmuring to himself. Even though Sherlock's voice was just a whisper, John could hear him perfectly. (John had decided days ago that the room was covered in microphones.)
Sherlock would say things to try and reassure himself, telling himself that John cared. Sometimes he even spoke to John, even though it was obvious that he had no idea the camera was there.
"I'm so sorry, John," Sherlock whispered, his head hanging limply against his chest. "I'm failing you, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I was so horrible to you. You deserve so much better than me."
John shuddered as he remembered Sherlock's quiet apologies.
The worst thing by far came on the eighth day of the live feed watching (day eleven of Sherlock's captivity). It started out as it always did, with Moriarty drugging Sherlock up and feeding him lie after lie. Sherlock whimpered and squeezed his eyes shut sometimes, no longer bothering to try and hide his emotions; it was pointless in his drugged state, anyway. He didn't deny Moriarty's words anymore, either.
Moriarty started kissing Sherlock and Sherlock weakly kissed back, tears streaming down his face. Slowly, Moriarty reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a knife. John felt his heart stutter in panic. But the criminal didn't plunge the weapon into Sherlock's heart, simply reached down and cut the tape trapping Sherlock's wrists to the chair.
Sherlock looked at him in confusion when Moriarty slid off of his lap, glancing down at his newly-freed arms vaguely. His wrists were chafed and irritated but fine otherwise.
The consulting criminal kneeled down and used the knife to cut Sherlock's ankles free, then stood up and cut the tape securing Sherlock's torso to the chair. The curly-haired man looked up at Moriarty in incomprehension, too weak to do anything else.
"You've been sooooo good, darling, so very good," Moriarty cooed, stroking Sherlock's face gently; the detective leaned into the touch slightly. "So I thought I would reward you."
Moriarty leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Sherlock's chest. He heaved the taller man to his feet, thoroughly supporting Sherlock's weight as he slumped over him. Moriarty grunted quietly and held onto Sherlock tightly, slowly leading him over to the bed. When the black-eyed man let go of him, Sherlock collapsed onto the mattress.
With the care of a lover (and boy, didn't that make John's blood boil), Moriarty adjusted Sherlock's body until he was lying comfortably on the bed. For a moment John thought that Sherlock's "reward" would be the ability to actually get a good night's sleep on an actual bed, but then Moriarty straddled Sherlock's hips. Sherlock barely seemed to notice, his eyes sliding shut at the comfort of a bed.
Slowly, Moriarty began to move his hips, grinding down against Sherlock. The detective's eyes popped open, wide in panic. Moriarty grinned down at him.
"Shhh, it's ok, Sherly, just relax. This will be fun," Moriarty purred, never stopping his movements. His hand slid across Sherlock's thigh and then reached under his underwear, grabbing his flaccid penis.
Sherlock started shifting, weakly trying to get away. "No, please don't, please..."
Moriarty's grin grew. "Oh, I like hearing you beg, Sherlock; has anyone ever heard you beg before?" He pulled in a slow breath, eyes shining with excitement. "This is your first time, isn't it? Don't worry, I'll make it good."
The criminal lifted himself up slightly, enough so that he could slide Sherlock's underwear off, and then returned to his movements. One hand continued to work on Sherlock's member while the other one roamed over his body.
"No, please, Jim, please stop...I can't...I don't..." Sherlock's hands came up to try and push Moriarty away but his motions were sluggish and he didn't have the strength in his current state to actually get the other man off of him.
Moriarty didn't bother to say anything in response. He reached into his jacket again and pulled out a small bottle that John realized (with horror) was lube. Moriarty squeezed some of the gel onto his fingers and reached under Sherlock. With his free hand he spread Sherlock's legs apart, and now John could see that Moriarty's slick fingers were probing at Sherlock's entrance.
Sherlock stiffened, his eyes wide in panic. Moriarty slid two fingers in and Sherlock whimpered. Moriarty scissored the detective open quickly and soon added a third finger; he seemed to be very eager to start. John's stomach rolled.
"John, help," Sherlock's voice was a whimper and the words seemed to have just spilled out of his mouth, as if there was no barrier between what he thought and said.
"Oh, darling," Moriarty cooed sympathetically. "John doesn't care, remember? He hates you, Sherlock, why would he help you?"
Suddenly Moriarty removed his fingers from Sherlock and unzipped his trousers. He squirted lube into his palm, using it to slick up his rock-hard member. He ran a hand through Sherlock hair, brushing the curls out of his face in a calming gesture. Sherlock relaxed slightly at the kind touch, already associating Moriarty's touch with good things.
Then Moriarty shoved in brutally. His hips slammed against Sherlock's, causing the taller man to cry out in agony. Moriarty kept a merciless pace, not giving Sherlock any time to adjust. His hands gripped Sherlock's hips with bruising force.
"Mycroft, help, please," Sherlock whimpered between his screams. Tears were streaming down his face.
John felt himself freeze, his blood running cold. If there was one thing John knew about Sherlock, it was that he had never, not once, asked Mycroft for help. Sherlock's pride kept him from doing it. The fact that he was now...Sherlock was breaking.
"Mycroft doesn't love you, my dear," Moriarty's voice was breathless, his eyes bright in pleasure as he drove into Sherlock. "He has the resources of the entire British government
Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut and took a few deep breaths. He didn't speak again, simply making sounds of pain every once in a while. John knew that if he wasn't so heavily drugged he would've never given Moriarty the satisfaction of hearing him scream, but he didn't have control of himself at the moment.
At some point, after John-didn't-know-how-long, John leaned over the trash can by his side and emptied his stomach. It didn't make him feel any better. When he looked back at the computer screen, Moriarty was pulling out of Sherlock, looking spent and pleased. He flopped down next to his captive. One hand reached between Sherlock's legs and scooped up some of his cum; John could see it was tinged red with blood.
Moriarty brought the hand to his lips and licked, humming happily. "Good job, my love," Moriarty said quietly. He ran a hand soothingly along Sherlock's side, up his neck and through his hair. Sherlock shuddered, his eyes falling shut. "You did so well, Sherlock. I'm so proud of you."
Sherlock sighed, almost in relief, and then let himself be pulled into Moriarty's arms. Moriarty stroked a hand through Sherlock's hair and began murmuring what sounded like a lullaby as Sherlock slowly drifted off to sleep.
"Oft, in dreams I wander To that cot again,
I feel her arms a huggin' me As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a hummin' To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep Outside the cabin door."
Then suddenly, for the first time ever since John had discovered this website eight days ago, the video went dark.
John stared at the computer in shock, not understanding. Not once had the video ever shut off; why now? Why did Moriarty suddenly decide that he no longer wanted John or anyone else to see what was happening to Sherlock? Moriarty's whole thing was for them to witness the detective's suffering, so what had changed?
Immediately John reached for his cellphone and typed in Mycroft's number. It rang for a few seconds before the elder Holmes brother picked up with a tired "Yes?"
"Mycroft," John said quickly. "Have you been watching? The video just shut off! What does that mean? Is Moriarty going to kill him, do you think?"
The line was silent for a moment. "No, he's not going to kill him." Mycroft sounded so tired, so stressed. He sounded like he'd aged years. John understood the feeling. "Moriarty is having too much fun breaking my brother down to stop now. He might just feel that we get the picture, as it were, and is now going to wait until he has the final result to show us what's happening to Sherlock."
Both men were silent, thinking over this idea. "He called out for you," John said quietly after a while.
Mycroft exhaled slowly. "Yes, I heard." They were quiet again. "Anything else, John?"
John didn't bother being offended; he knew Mycroft was under just as much stress and feeling just as much pain as he was, and the fact that the elder Holmes brother didn't want to talk about it
"No, no. I'll let you get back to your work, then," John said, clearing his throat. "Talk to you later." Mycroft didn't reply before hanging up.
About an hour later, there was a knock on the door. John didn't bother getting up from his seat, staring down at the glass of scotch in his hand dispassionately. "Come in," he called loudly.
The door slid open and Lestrade and Donovan walked in. "Hello, John. How are you doing?"
John laughed humorlessly, taking a large sip of his drink. He barely noticed the burn. "Just dandy, Greg, just dandy. What are you doing here?"
The detective inspector and the sergeant both shifted awkwardly. John had clearly been spending a lot of time with Sherlock because he could easily deduce the reason behind it. "So you were watching, then?"
"Yea," Lestrade said tiredly. "Yea, I had a laptop open in my office with the website on screen twenty-four/seven so we could check for any clues as to where Sherlock was being kept. We got nothing, if you were wondering."
John looked at Donovan, noting the way she wouldn't meet his eyes. "Bet you enjoyed that; the great Sherlock Holmes brought down to nothing." His voice was bitter and filled with poorly concealed anger.
Donovan looked at him now in horror. "No! No, I-" she took a deep breath. "Holmes and I have never gotten along but I would never wish what he's going through on anyone."
John huffed a bitter laugh. "You know, that's the first time I've ever heard you say his name." She looked at him in confusion. "You always addressed him as freak, remember? Never Sherlock, never Holmes, never anything kind or even civil."
Donovan had the gal to look pained. "I know this is partly my fault," she said quietly, her voice filled with guilt. "I never treated him as a person and now Moriarty is using that to mess with Holmes. I'm sorry John, I truly am. If there is anything I can do..."
"No," John said harshly. "No, you don't get to do that. You treated Sherlock like shit for years and now you want to make amends? The damage is done, Donovan. You can feel guilty and responsible all you want, but don't bring that shit to me, don't come to me like you want fucking forgiveness. Yes, it is partly your fault. Now accept it, man up, and do something about it."
Donovan's shoulders straightened and she nodded. John gave her one last hard look. "And if you ever call him freak or anything like that again, I won't hesitate to hurt you." He turned to look at Lestrade. "Thank you for stopping by, Greg. Let me know if you find anything, will you?" Lestrade nodded and the two policemen left.
Two weeks passed. Two weeks of absolutely no news. Two weeks of no signs of Moriarty or Sherlock anywhere. Two weeks of John going out of his fucking mind.
He'd tried to go back to work. It had been unbelievably hard, to act like everything was fine, to act like he wasn't in a constant state of worry over what could possibly be happening to Sherlock in that very moment.
Each day he texted Mycroft and Lestrade, asking both men if they'd found anything, and was told every time that they had no leads. Lestrade asked him a few times to come out to the pub with him or to get some fresh air, but any time John wasn't at work or buying essentials was spent sitting with the laptop screen in sight, waiting and hoping for the website to turn back on so he could make sure Sherlock was actually alive.
Sherlock had been "missing" (he wasn't missing, John thought angrily, he was kidnapped) for three weeks and four days when the video turned back on. It wasn't a live feed this time; when John returned from getting himself (another) drink from the kitchen, a video was waiting, a giant play button sitting in the center. With shaking fingers, John clicked it.
Relief flooded through John when he saw that Sherlock was alive. The detective was sitting on the bed, his knees folded against his chest with his long arms wrapped around them. His forehead was pressed against his knees, hiding his face from view. He was still naked, and Moriarty was sitting cross-legged next to him, impeccably dressed as always. His hand was rubbing up and down Sherlock's side.
"Daaarrrrliiiing," Moriarty said musically. "You have to say it out loud. What have you learned?"
"Why does it matter?" Sherlock's voice was muffled. "We both know it's true, why do I have to say it?"
Moriarty chuckled. "It's cathartic, Sherly. Part of the heeeaaaling process." His hand traveled upwards and smoothed over Sherlock's hair. When Sherlock didn't speak, the hand tightened in his curls. Sherlock didn't even flinch, but the grip looked tight enough to be painful. "Come now, what have you learned?"
Sherlock exhaled. "They were only nice because I was useful."
"Who?" Moriarty asked with a gleeful expression.
The detective shrugged helplessly. "Anyone who was nice to me. Lestrade just needed his cases solved, Molly just needed someone to make her life interesting, and..."
Moriarty ran his hand down Sherlock's leg softly. "Go on, Sherlock."
Sherlock took a shuddering breath. "And John was being paid by Mycroft to keep me in line; it wouldn't help his political career if his brother fell back into old, nasty habits. John never cared, never even liked me. The only reason he stayed was because the money was very high." His voice was filled with so much pain, like his heart was breaking and John's heart broke right along with him.
"Good, darling, very good," Moriarty said in a pleased tone. "And what about me?"
Sherlock's arms tightened around his knees. "You think I'm brilliant," his voice was breathless. "You think I could do anything I wanted to if I set my mind on it. You care about me. I belong with you." He lifted his head from his knees, looking at Moriarty questioningly. Moriarty grinned and leaned forward, crashing his lips against Sherlock's. His hand cupped the back of his head, keeping the detective pressed against him. And Sherlock kissed back.
When the two pulled apart, Moriarty tucked Sherlock against him, their arms wrapping around each other.
"Why do you torture yourself, Sherlock? You know that John Watson hates you and yet you still hold onto this pretty image of him," Moriarty's hand stroked up and down Sherlock's arm. Sherlock shuddered at the words, not the touch. "He only stayed with you because of the money, you know that, you just said it. All this pain you're holding inside of you...oh, it's not healthy, baby. And you know exactly how to turn it off..."
"No, I...I can't...what if..." Sherlock's voice was weak and filled with pain and he clung to Moriarty.
"What if what, Sherlock? You know it's not going to change. You loving a man who hates you is going to destroy you. You've always removed yourself from emotions; they are chemical defects found on the losing side, isn't that what you said? Why subject yourself to pain when you could so easily get rid of it? It's as easy as flipping a switch..."
Sherlock took a shuddering breath. "Ok," he said after a moment, sitting up. "Yes, ok. I need...I need to access my mind palace but I haven't been able to..."
Moriarty waved a hand dismissively through the air and seemed to be trying to contain a grin. "That was the drugs, you're fine now. Just take a deep breath, try to calm your mind. Do whatever you usually need to do to get in." Sherlock nodded and shifted so that he was laying down. He steepled his fingers under his chin and closed his eyes. Soon enough it was clear that he was down in his mind.
After watching Sherlock for a few moments, a mad grin spread across Moriarty's face. He lifted his head and looked directly at the camera. "I win," he mouthed clearly.
The video ended.