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Fic: Multiples Part 1

Pairing: Sherlock/John friendship, hint of Jim/Seb, hint of one-sided OMC/John
Rating: NC-17
Warnings: lots and lots of excessive torture. Mutilation, amputation, blood everywhere.

Written for the prompt on the kink-meme and accidentally de-anoned, so thought I may as well post it here.
http://sherlockbbc-fic.livejournal.com/9100.html?thread=43504012#t43504012


***


John wakes.

He can smell blood under his nose, and his lips are heavy. Sticky. He can’t breathe properly.

Duct tape, supplies his sensory memory. Your nose has bled out onto it.

He moves to sit up and hits his head. Too late he registers the background noise, the swaying and bone-shaking motions of his surroundings. He falls back, clutching at his forehead with hands that are bound to the front with something far more substantial than duct tape.

I’m in the boot of a moving car.

His feet are bound too, at the ankles. There isn’t much room, and John can feel other objects around him, can brush them with his shoulders and feet. Cold, cloth-covered metal. Containers, too, that clank sharply at every turn and motion of the car. Outside is too quiet. He’s not in the city any more.

John reaches up, braces himself for the pain, and rips the duct tape clean off his face. Gasping in fresh oxygen, he lies still and tries to push his frightened, adrenaline-soaked mind into reconstructing what had happened to him. He can smell the oil of the car, the metallic tang of his own blood, and some sort of bituminous odour that could be from the road. Or, although less likely, C4. Was this car used to transport plastic explosives at some point?

There’s a burst of static next to John’s ear and he startles. A walkie-talkie.

“Hey, pet,” comes a voice, horrifically recognisable even through the low quality rasp of the speaker. “Miss me?”

“Moriarty,” croaks John, eyes wide in the darkness.

Moriarty laughs softly, the sound crackling in John’s ears. “The game is on. Nice to see you’re awake and ready.”

John’s mind spins. He tenses, memory flashing back to the poolside explosion, to Moriarty draping him in explosives as a gun was pressed into John’s temple, to Afghanistan, mines, and the aftermath of burning body parts. His mouth is dry as sandpaper.

“Sherlock …”

“I haven’t got him,” Moriarty says, false reassurance ringing. “But I have his heart. And he’s going to be the one who decides how it breaks.”

The words are too cryptic and metaphorical for John to process right now. He twists and clutches at the walkie-talkie, spitting out words through a dry disobedient tongue. “What game? Where are we going?”

“No worries, pet. You’re not a player.”

“Then why am I here?”

“You’re just a game piece, as always. And in there, with you, is the board.”

As John’s weary eyes adjust to the darkness, he can make out more clearly the clutter that surrounds him in the boot. With a jolt of fear that reaches the very pit of his stomach, he recognises the cruel curves of knives and axes, wrapped safely as they are, and the smooth shine of a blowtorch, the dull glint of bludgeons.

Boxes of medieval-looking medical equipment.

Harnesses and ropes.

Chains.

A collection of bondage gear and sex toys that have him cringing.

There’s more, but he can’t make it out in the blackness. And there he is in the middle of it all, lying in a cradle of torture devices.

“We’re nearly there,” coos Moriarty, and clicks off. The static stops, and John is left in the lurching boot with nothing but the sound of tires, and the slide and clatter of metal on metal.


***


Sherlock is reduced to calling. He much prefers to text, but John hasn’t replied to any of his increasingly agitated messages, and that in itself is worrying and out of character for his friend. John usually responds well to what he sees as Sherlock’s weaknesses, eager to comfort and please. The silence is unnerving.

John’s pre-recorded voice answers the phone again and Sherlock hangs up straight away, chucks his mobile to the sofa and collapses down after it himself, as if swooning. Perhaps he’s being melodramatic but surely it’s allowable, given the circumstances. He ruffles his hair, eyes pinching shut, furious with everything. How has he allowed this one seemingly average man to seep into his life so completely, that his very absence grated Sherlock’s mind raw? All Sherlock wants is proof that John is still thinking about him. Even a ‘sod off – JW’ via text is preferable to this torturous silence.

John has warned Sherlock against being too possessive before, but damnit, John is his and he knows it. Is Sherlock being selfish again? He find he doesn’t care. John would understand, he always does.

Perhaps he’s at work right now, bored out of his skull, flirting half-heartedly with Dr Sawyer and refreshing his email over and over, hoping for an update. Sherlock makes up his mind. He gropes under the sofa, fingers searching, and drags out his laptop. It’s covered in a layer of dust and he blows it clean before turning it on. Honestly, he prefers John’s laptop, but he's comfortable and he can’t be bothered to move right now.

He navigates to his email folder and scrolls past all the pathetic pleas for help from his site, endless, boring, petty ‘mysteries’ that Sherlock can solve from the subject title, and goes to compose a new message ... but the latest email catches his eye. It’s from an anonymous address, one of those disposable emails that people use to sign up for offers and avoid the spam that comes afterward. He opens it.


Hey sexy!

Ran into your pet today. He looked very lonely, so I took him home with me. Have you been neglecting him?

I think he deserves some undivided attention.

Love from M

P.S.
http://bit593.anonym.to/


Sherlock sees a live video feed, the image dark and with only a little static. A high quality camera, then. The feed is on a black background, with an IM chat underneath. The cursor blinks, but Sherlock doesn’t write anything.

He waits.

The camera turns, and he sees a pale man in a dark suit perched on an old wooden dining table, legs swinging. Another man lies on the table in a foetal position, as if sleeping on his side, his head resting on the pale man’s lap. The camera adjusts, the light flickers through properly, and Sherlock’s worst suspicions are confirmed.

Moriarty curls a white hand through John’s soft hair, the other clutching at a knife that he keeps hovering over John’s vulnerable throat. His cruel smile is genuine, and he’s looking into the camera with something like glee.

John is awake, although bleary-eyed. Drugged. There’s bruising on the side of his head and a trace of blood under his nose. He’s not bound, but he isn’t moving an inch. It’s not just the threat of the knife, something is restricting his natural movement. Almost certainly some sort of muscle relaxant. Yet, to Sherlock’s inestimable pride, he still glares defiantly at the camera.

“Hello!” says Moriarty cheerfully. “Nice of you to join us, Sherlock.”

On his name, John jerks sharply, eyes widening. Moriarty’s fingers tighten in his hair, the knife presses against his throat, and he shushes in John’s ear as if to soothe him.

“Calm, pet, don’t thrash about like that.”

John whispers something that Sherlock can’t catch. He turns the volume up, but it's already on full. He reads John’s lips.

Sherlock.

“He is sweet,” says Moriarty, petting John’s cheek. “I was thinking about getting one of my own, but then I thought, why not just take yours? So very unprotected. Why, anyone could snatch him off the street!”

Sherlock only realises now, just how tense he is. He’s gripping the laptop so hard he could break it. “John,” he says out loud, though no-one can hear him.

“We’re going to play a game, Sherlock,” says Moriarty, leaning back up but still maintaining that harsh grip in John’s hair. Sherlock wants to break every single one of those scrawny fingers. “And it’s a very different kind. We’ve done the intelligence tests, of course! You passed with flying colours, and I think you’re nearly, so very nearly, at my level.”

“What do you want!?” Sherlock yells pointlessly. He shakes, forces himself to calm down. Whatever it is that Moriarty has planned, he needs a clear head. It’s his only weapon.

Moriarty is still blathering on. “Oh, and this should go without saying, but … don’t bother trying to trace this feed, or work out where I am from my surroundings, because I guarantee you won’t get any useful information, and anyway, at the first sign of tampering I’ll blow something up. What’ll it be? A school? A hospital? The London Underground? Who knows? I’m so fucking crazy these days!”

There’s that cruel laugh, and the knife threatens to dig into John’s throat.

The cursor blinks and Sherlock remembers. What do you want? he asks, and sends it off via IM.

Moriarty looks off to the side as an off-camera associate reads out Sherlock’s question.

“Oh, sweetheart,” Moriarty says pityingly, turning back. “I just want to have some fun.”

His fingers scrape down the back of John’s scalp and Sherlock can see the involuntary shudder through John's body.

“This is an endurance test for John. An empathy test, perhaps, for you. And don’t panic yourself, there are no wrong answers!” Moriarty chuckles to himself. Never has such a little, insignificant sound made Sherlock more murderous. “I ask you a question, and you reply by IM. Now, are you listening closely?”


S: You have my full attention.


Moriarty grins. “First question. This drug is wearing off, but I still need to keep him manageable. How should I subdue him? Should I smash his ribs? Or should I break his hands? You have a minute to reply.”


***


John has kind hands, perfect for a doctor. They are healing hands, gentle but persistent. When Sherlock hurts himself, gets bruised or scratched open and susceptible to infection, he goes to John, lets the man wash and bind his wounds, his quiet voice chiding Sherlock as his hands put him back together.

John has deadly hands. He has the aim of an assassin. In his hands, guns are extensions of limbs, completely under his control. He throws knives with alarming accuracy. In hand-to-hand combat, he can hold his own admirably well.

John would be devastated if he had to live without full use of his hands.

But multiple rib fractures would do more than subdue John. In the process, his lungs could be damaged and without pain management, any more than three broken ribs would lead to nothing more than a slow, incredibly painful death.

Thirty seconds. Sherlock watches the clock furiously. What sort of game is this? It’s not testing anything. It is torture, plain and simple, wrapped up in such a way that Sherlock has to get involved in the suffering of his only friend. To feel responsible for whatever happens next.

Hands. he types out, slowly, as if hate could be transferred via wireless.

He will watch this. Everything Moriarty sees, Sherlock has to see. Everything Moriarty does to John, Sherlock will do in revenge. He’ll rip the man to pieces.

“Interesting,” murmurs Moriarty softly, lips curling upwards. He pushes John back onto the table and slides off, walking towards to camera. “I’ll hold this, my dear. Hold him down. Use the claw hammer, I want every bone broken.”

On the table, John shuffles. The drug is indeed wearing off, but he’s still as weak as a kitten. There are two others, from what Sherlock can make out. They’re tall and dressed in black combats and balaclavas. Their bearing is military. Mercenaries, then, or thrown out of the army in disgrace. They’re too young to have been retired, and there’s no sign of injury that would have had them sent home early.

One pins John down, the other stretches out one of John’s arms, holding a dark metal hammer that is solid at one end and clawed at the other. The design used to hammer nails into fences, or pull them out. It’s larger, and looks heavier, than is standard.

Moriarty’s chuckles are the background noise to John’s struggles and shouts. The camera wobbles as Moriarty moves closer. He zooms in on John’s face, which fills the screen, panicked and frightened and still fighting.

“They’re doing his right hand first,” says Moriarty by way of commentary, zooming out to get a better picture. One of the mercenaries, the one pinning John down with sick grin on his face, gurgles with laughter.


S: I will find you and kill each and every one of you in ways so horrific that


Sherlock leans on the backspace. That won’t do.

John’s right hand is splayed palm down on the table, trying to clench back into a fist, but the hammer comes down hard over the back of his knuckles and that crunching, of bones and tendons, in unmistakeable. John yells in pain, short lasting, and his face is blank, eyes clear and wide. Detached. His chest is rising and falling rapidly, and he looks in danger of hyperventilating.

Crunch.

Crack.


“Each and every finger,” says Moriarty in a stage whisper, over the splinter of bone and John’s barely repressed cries of pain.

On to the next hand, and the man holding John down releases him slightly to move position, and John takes advantage, rolling to the side and fiercely elbowing the man in the neck.

“Oh!” screams Moriarty in delight. “He’s so fucking vicious! Weren’t you housetrained, pet?”

John is wrestled back down with disheartening ease, shouting obscenities at Moriarty.

“Can we gag him or something? Jesus,” snarled the man who was struck, his neck bruising already.

“Later,” says Moriarty. “Next hand!”

“No,” hisses John, louder than before. “No, no … get the hell off of me!”

Moriarty is giggling. “He’s adorable. I’m growing quite attached. Are you watching closely, Sherlock?”

Sherlock has a notepad open. He’s trying to type down details of the room as he sees them, things he notices, anything, really, that will help deduce the location. As Moriarty promised, there’s nothing much to go on. Not yet, anyway. Everyone makes mistakes.

The hammer thuds against John’s hand, smashes into soft flesh and muscle, splinters bones (the irregular carpel bones of the wrist, the metacarpals, the delicate phalanges of his fingers) and John’s given up on attempting stoical silence. He grunts with pain on every blow.

Sherlock fingers a bandage wrapped carefully and professionally around his upper arm, covering a cut from a machete-wielding thug Sherlock had been chasing. He remembers John’s fussing, clever hands cleaning and taking the pain away, readying the wound to be healed.

The man breaking John’s hand finishes, and drops the blood-spattered hammer to the floor.

“He’s a proper cripple now,” teases Moriarty, moving in closer, the camera shaking as he laughs. John stares at the ceiling, utterly broken.

The feed switches off.


***


Sherlock panics as the camera cuts out, refreshing the page, but the feed doesn’t return. He swears under his breath and refrains from mashing the keyboard. A message pops up on the IM chat.


M: Every hour. Don’t go anywhere, sweetie!


Sherlock is practically spitting in fury.


S: Why are you doing this?


The cursor blinks unhelpfully. There's no reply.

Sherlock flings the laptop off of his belly onto the cushions and leaps to his feet, feverishly pacing out his thoughts. Moriarty has John. And all Sherlock can do is wait for the torture to start up again. Every hour? How is John supposed to survive that? And the worst part is that Sherlock is incapable of helping him.

No, he can act. He must. But how? This isn’t a police matter. Moriarty almost certainly has a mole in Lestrade’s department, must have to evade capture for so long, and Lestrade is the only one Sherlock would trust with a matter as delicate as this. Besides, if Moriarty found out that Sherlock was trying to track him down, he’d blow something up. Probably kill John too.

Sherlock can’t risk that.

It rankles at his pride, his independence, but there’s really only one man Sherlock can turn to.

He picks up his discarded mobile and fires off a quick text.

Assistance required.
SH


The reply comes quickly.

What have you done this time?
I’m very busy.
MH

He’s got John.
SH


Mycroft, damn him, doesn’t respond. Sherlock’s fingers clench around the phone and he waits, patience slowly evaporating. He resends the text. Why won’t the bastard reply?

This really isn’t the time for Mycroft’s ridiculous power games.

When phone finally rings, Sherlock answers it straight away. “What is your problem? Too busy stuffing your face with cake?”

Mycroft is the epitome of calm. Sherlock can almost visualise him, hands neatly folded on his lap, relaxing back on his chair, savouring the sounds of Sherlock’s need on speakerphone. “I’m very busy, Sherlock.”

“Moriarty has John,” Sherlock says, enunciating each word carefully.

“John is your responsibility. You told me specifically not to interfere. Now, I need to-“

“Mycroft!” snarls Sherlock. “I’m asking for your help. John could die.”

There’s a thoughtful pause. The creaking of a chair. Then finally, “… Be here in 10 minutes. I’ll send a car.”

Thank you,” Sherlock says.

“You owe me, little brother.”

They hang up at the same time. Sherlock stalks back over to his laptop. There’s a new email, from another one of those anonymous addresses.


Oh, Sherlock,

I told you not to contact anyone.

Perhaps this will be easier if you aren’t surrounded by creature comforts.

51.540187,-0.124503

Back alley, red door. Key is under the mat.

Alone.

Love from M x



Sherlock’s brow creases. He recognises the digits, obviously latitude and longitude points. Working quickly, he pulls up a map service and plots it in. The time is ticking down until the next feed, and Sherlock counts down each minute with increasing desperation. Address memorised, he leaps to his feet and rushes downstairs. It’s crisp and cold in the afternoon grey, and he’s shivering in the time it takes to hail a taxi.

“Where to?” asks the cabbie, pulling off.

“York Way, Camden,” Sherlock says, pulling on his gloves. “Quickly.”

As the cab peels off from the curb, Sherlock can see a familiar black sedan pull up alongside 221B. Mycroft should be able to figure out what has happened from the flat, Sherlock’s not worried about that. He wonders what Moriarty has waiting for him in Camden. It’s difficult to plan ahead in a game where you can’t even see the board, or your opponent’s moves.


***


The red door is down a back alley. The paint is peeling, and the place looks abandoned, but there’s a new lock installed in the deceptively old looking door, and Sherlock retrieves the key from under a rotten welcome mat to open it.

Upstairs in a dusty, poorly lit room, is a desk, a lone chair, and a computer on screensaver. There’s a post-it note stuck to the top of the monitor with another anonymous URL. Sherlock hesitantly sits down and shakes the mouse, waking up the screen. He opens the only icon, the internet browser, and navigates to the address. The computer is fast and responsive, gently whirring in the background.

It’s the same as last time, a black screen, an IM box, and a feed that is currently static. Sherlock counts down the time in his head, but slightly ahead of cue, the static lurches and fades out. John is lying on the table, curled up on his side, mangled hands under his chin. He must be in significant pain, but he looks blank, numb. Moriarty is perched next to him on the table, smirking at the camera. He nudges John.

“Look at the camera, pet. He’s here.”

John’s blue-grey eyes dart to the camera and back to the floor. He seems far more clear-headed this time, quick to respond.

“He’s calmed down a bit, you see. Not so feisty.” Moriarty turns back to John, who is resolutely not looking at anything. “Sit up, pet, and show Sherlock your hands.”

John,” whispers Sherlock, as the man shuffles carefully upright, using his elbows to push himself into a seated position, swinging his legs to dangle over the edge. His misshapen hands rest on his lap, still disturbing to look at, but at least the bleeding has stopped. They’re like dead puppets. John can’t even twitch his fingers.

Moriarty fakes a yawn and stretches his arms out, casually slipping one over John’s shoulder. “Ready for the next question, Sherlock?” he asks, then looks off camera, nodding at someone off screen.

A new IM pops up.


M: Would you rather have him blind, deaf or dumb?

You have one minute, or it’s all three.


Sherlock clenches his fists in frustrated anger, unable to take his eyes off of poor unknowing John, who’s sitting extremely still and trying not to shove off Moriarty’s unwanted embrace. He’s admirably calm, given the circumstances, but the unnatural tightness at the edges of his mouth and his constricted pupils give his suffering away.

Blind, deaf or dumb.

John needs to see. He reads, he writes his blog, he enjoys watching crap telly. He appreciates beauty where Sherlock just can’t.

Once, after a case, Sherlock had found John leaning at the edge of a balcony, just watching the world go by. The sun had set, leaving the sky an inky blue. He’d watched for what seemed to be hours as the lights of the city multiplied in the darkness, until it was like a second daytime. Sherlock couldn’t see what was so attractive about it, but John had been entranced.

To blind him would be far too cruel.

John is a good listener. Sherlock has never met someone so attentive to him before. It was flattering, to be listened to so intently. He didn’t want John to be deaf. He needed to be able to talk to John, to explain his ideas to someone who would appreciate them.

That left the last option. Dumb. Mute. John wouldn’t be able to talk. What would Moriarty do? Surgically remove John’s vocal cords? Or, more simply, cut out his tongue?

John was wise, he was Sherlock’s gently murmuring moral compass. He was quick to jump in and verbally defend Sherlock (even though Sherlock didn’t need it). He'd potter around 221B and say things like “Sherlock, we’ve run out of milk again,” and “I’ve done a bit of tidy up around the house, but I haven’t touched your experiments,” and, when Sherlock was being upset by his brother's interference, “You’re worth a hundred Mycrofts, don’t let him bother you.”

Ten seconds.

His hands quavered as he typed.


S: Dumb.


“I’m sorry John,” he whispered out loud, as Moriarty’s grin widened.

"Time’s up!" Moriarty jeers, hopping down from the table and running off camera. Whoever is filming zooms in on John’s face, who is glowering at Moriarty intently, an expression of deepest loathing etched into his worry lines.

Sherlock can do nothing but watch as John’s hate morphs into fear, and it's made worse by the fact that his face is so expressive. Sherlock sees every slight tic. John's eyes widen, his mouth gapes slightly and his whole body tenses as Moriarty saunters back over, metal glinting in his hand. But it’s too blurry for Sherlock to see until the camera refocuses and -

In one hand is a scalpel, viciously sharp and glinting under the light as Moriarty moves. In the other is a rather old looking Roser Koenig 19cm mouth gag, used to hold open a patient's jaw during dental surgery. The metal shape is based on scissors, and the device is designed to ratchet open a click at a time with the squeeze of the handles.

"Strap him down," Moriarty barks off-screen, then his head twists down and around to leer at John, who is clamping his teeth determinedly together, jawline tense.

"Do you know what this is, pet?" Moriarty asks, as a struggling John is tied flat on his back to the table, ropes tightened over his chest and legs, arms pinned to his side. Moriarty crushes the handles and the teeth spring apart, and he peers at it, picking a bit of reddened scrap from the edges.

John's wide-eyed look says he does, tight lips curling over his teeth in a twisted grimace.

"No? What sort of doctor are you, anyway?" Moriarty's beetle black eyes flick up from the gag to fix on John's face, and he moves closer, stalking around the table as John wrestles uselessly with his bonds. He trails the flat of the scalpel over John's midsection as he goes, mouth curling upward in glee as John tenses under his fingers.

He reaches John's head and cups the man's face. "Open your mouth."

John tries to twist away, but Moriarty grips his hair and yanks his head back, leaning down. "Open. Your. Mouth," he repeats softly, as John hisses in pain. Moriarty's expression sours. He pinches John's nose, but John just sucks in quick breaths through his teeth, glowering resentfully, his eyes never leaving Moriarty's.

Now bored, and obviously wanting to get on with the torture, Moriarty looks up at his waiting assistant, the one who wielded the hammer. "Do something," he whines.

The man shrugs uselessly, and Moriarty howls in rage. "For fucks sake, you brain donor! If I tell you to do something, you snap to attention and do it straight away!"

The man unconsciously straightens his back. "Sir, sorry sir. I-I just have no suggestions."

"You don't have to take orders from him," John says quickly, and Moriarty whips around to force the gag down his throat, but John's already fixed his jaw shut.

"Yes he does," says Moriarty, voice ugly, and he stabs John in the left shoulder with the scalpel.

John cries out, defenceless against the sudden pain, and Moriarty acts quickly with the reflexes of a predator. He jams the gag between John's teeth and squeezes the handles, until the sides of John's mouth are stretched as far as they'll go before the delicate skin at the edges threatens to split. Moriarty laughs as John makes odd, guttural, choking sounds, head flailing from side to side.

Miles away, Sherlock stands up so quickly that his chair falls backwards with a clatter. "No!" he yells, mashing on the keyboard.


S: What will it take to make you stop?


Moriarty looks up at the notification bell, but just gives the camera a nasty smirk and yanks the scalpel out, running the blunt end down his tongue. "Mm, freshly cut doctor. You," he says to his assistant. "Hold his head."

The man walks over and grips either side of John's head, fingers digging into his hollowed cheeks. John wheezes and jerks against his bonds, but he can't stop this, and Moriarty reaches in with his free hand and grips John's tongue. He yanks it, harsh, fingernails digging in.

Sherlock actually cries out in empathetic pain as Moriarty scrapes the scalpel down John's tongue, from back to tip, a guideline. Blood blooms from the pink surface, spilling into John's mouth and running down his chin. There are many blood vessels just under the surface of the tongue for the absorption of small food molecules, and uniquely sensitive pressure and pain receptors. Moriarty slices and saws incompetently through all of them as John wails in agony, face wet with tears.

When he's done, John's tongue is sliced in two as if he had an extreme forked tongue reaching to the very back of his throat. Moriarty yanks out the mouth gag and walks off camera with that loose-lipped smile stretched smugly over his face. John's jaw sags as he coughs and splutters around all the blood. When he's untied, he curls up on his side, half mouthing the surface of the table as he flexes his overstretched jaw.

The presence of blood usually doesn't move Sherlock, or bother him at all, but this makes him physically ache for John. He shouts at the screen in fury as the feed cuts out, and he's never emotionally demonstrative, so why does he want to smash this tiny room to pieces?

A shrill ringtone pierces his eardrums. It's not Sherlock's.

He searches the room quickly, and finds it under a false floorboard. It's a familiar design, the eponymous pink iphone.

He answers, and slowly raises the phone to his ear.

A horrific gagging noise comes through. It's disturbingly familiar.

"John?" he asks softly. The voice seems to break, but none of the panicked noises are intelligible. "John, I promise," he says urgently, "If it's the last thing I do, I will find you."

There is a cluttering noise, and a yelp of pain. Then Moriarty's sly chuckle.

"Hey sexy."

"I'll kill you," snarls Sherlock. "You'd do best to leave him, and start running right now, because when I find you I will hurt you. Everything you do to him, I'll do to you, only I'll make it ten times more vicious, and humiliating, and painful."

"Sherlock, sweetie. That almost sounds like a challenge."

"Stop this madness. Let John go, it's me you're after."

"Our game ends when you let the doctor die, Sherlock. He can stay alive for as long as you'd like."

"While you torment him?"

Moriarty chuckles. "I get brutal when I'm bored. I don't have an excuse, really, it's just one of my many quirky personality traits." He exhaled loudly down the phone, and his voice was breathy. Horny. He was getting off on this. "You'd love me if you got to know me, Sherlock."

Sherlock felt sick to his stomach. "Let him go."

"I thought you were smart? Obviously not smart enough to know when an argument is pointless." Moriarty sighed. "Bored!"

He hung up.

Sherlock froze in fury, thumbing the redial option with shaking fingers, but the number was apparently non-existent.

Swearing at nothing, Sherlock shoves the iPhone into his inside pocket and paces to the window, organising his thoughts.

It's useless to look for clues in this building. It was probably deliberately chosen to have been no help to Sherlock at all, but he can't control what he observes (small three story house once was well loved lived in by a family with at least one small child left to decay for at least five years now unrented bad area graffiti outside broken into several times and there's nothing of value left new locks wiring redone recently most likely a month ago so he's been planning this for a month and he probably owns this building although most likely through a pseudonym) and his mind is racing.

He turns on his heel and stalks over to the computer, regarding it carefully. It's probably rigged up with all sort of unfortunate things, but Sherlock is no computer expert and IT is apparently Moriarty's specialty. Undetectable keyloggers, automatic screencaptures, trojans that could sneak into his email server ...

He leaves it and uses the internet on his Blackberry instead, linking up to the internet from a free wifi cloud.

There's an email from Mycroft.


Found the time to solve your troubles. Attached is the footage from CCTV cameras in the area where John was picked up.

So far, there is no evidence of where they are taking him, but I have people combing the system for footage.

Will update when I can, although more information from you would be helpful.

#file/drop/250511gh643.avi


Sherlock debates over whether to email back. Moriarty seemed to know when he had contacted his brother the first time, although that could have been an educated guess. But it would be stupid to threaten Moriarty at this point in time by bringing in the heavy, unsubtle investigative fist of the government. On his own, Sherlock can figure things out without drawing unwanted attention.

He leaves it.

On the desktop computer, an IM pops up.


M: Run.


"What?" Sherlock protests loudly, and then he hears it. A hissing, sparking noise from the computer case, and when Sherlock examines it more closely he can see a near invisible spiral of smoke.

It's a bomb without a timer.

Sherlock leaps to his feet and sprints out of the room, breath hitching, feet drumming down the crooked narrow steps and he shoulders open the front door to stumble, squinting, into the blinding grey daylight outside. His head whirls as he re-examines his surroundings.

The last time Moriarty blew up a building, there was enough force to take out several floors, as well as damage the next apartment over.

He knows he should be getting out as quickly as possible, but a small voice, John's voice, is incessant in the back of his head.

Save them.

"John," murmurs Sherlock. He runs to the nearest apartment and leans on the doorbell until someone answers, gruff, irritable, voice distorted by the bad speaker quality.

"What is it?"

Sherlock leans close. "You need to evacuate the building," he orders. "Activate the fire-alarm, bang on doors. There's a bomb."

"A what!?" exclaims the voice. "Uh, okay, I just-"

The piercing ringtone of the pink phone sounds through the air, and Sherlock answers.

"I do hope you're out of there, Sherlock," Moriarty drawls, and there is an ear-cracking explosion.


***


"Make sure he doesn't go anywhere," Moriarty orders, fastidiously cleaning his red hands on Moran's sanitizer soaked handkerchief. His large black eyes are fixed unwaveringly on Armitage, who shivers and stands to attention.

"Yessir."

"It shouldn't be too difficult. He is pretty crippled right now."

"I'll be fine, sir."

Moriarty's mouth widens and he slaps a small hand on Armitage's shoulder. "Of course you will. I don't hire incompetents, do I? Moran?"

Moran nods absently, a few feet away. He's been brushing the tips his fingers through John's hair with a thoughtful expression on his face for a while now, although Armitage can't imagine what he means by it. Moran had been with Moriarty the last time they snatched up John, so perhaps he was reliving some memories.

Moriarty abruptly spins on his heel and trots to the exit, lazily beckoning Moran with the twitch of his fingers. Moran jerks to attention and follows. He shoots Armitage an unreadable look before slamming the door behind him, and Armitage is left alone with the snuffling, shuddering doctor.

He walks closer, carefully, like he'd approach a snake. The doctor is surprisingly vicious, as Moran's nearly broken neck proves.

John's hair is mussed where Moran has been playing with it. He's lying curled up on his side, utterly boneless, blood drenching the lower half of his face, neck and the upper part of his knitted jumper a vivid red, and it's pooled a bit on the table under his mouth. His mangled hands (Armitage feels a stab of guilt) are resting in front of him, pressed close to his chest as through for protection.

Bright blue eyes flick up to look at him, and there's no real hate there, nor fear. Just a deep, heartfelt sadness, and it's not the self-pitying kind.

It's directed at Armitage.

You don't have to take orders from him.

Armitage tenses. "You don't understand. He saved me. I owe him my life, John."

John coughs, haggard, and there's a splutter of blood. He rocks his head to the side.

No.

His blue eyes are wise and kind. He looks at Armitage like he knows him, like he understands.

Perhaps he does.

Armitage remembers his days in the army, the only time when his life had any real meaning. He's not a very smart guy, never had been, and he accepts that. But what he was good at was pushing his naturally athletic body to the limit, obeying orders without question, training to be the perfect soldier. Before the accident that had him sent to jail for life, before Moriarty scooped him up, he'd had a purpose there.

You don't have to take orders from him.

"You don't get it," he said bitterly. "It's a one-time deal. There's only one answer. It was between him and jail, and be honest, what would you have chosen? Really?"

John meets his eyes, unblinking.

He turns and walks to stand by the exit, so he doesn't have to look at that pitying stare.


***


Sherlock runs at full pelt, panting, with blood from a blow to the head causing his hair to stick down the side of his face. He can hear the distant wail of sirens as the fire brigade come to rescue whoever was lucky enough to survive Moriarty's bomb. The abandoned building that Sherlock had been in minutes earlier has been reduced to rubble. The nearby apartments had their walls thrust inwards by the force of the blast, shattering brick and window that had rained down and smashed into the pavement underneath.

He clutches the pink iPhone in his fist, which has a new text reading across the screen. An address.

The hotel should be a good fifteen minutes away on foot, but Sherlock makes it in half that time, sprinting through private property and taking short-cuts over rooftops. He runs into the foyer, and to the front desk where a bored receptionist gapes at his ruffled appearance, the gum nearly dropping out of her mouth.

"Room," barks Sherlock. "Reserved for Sherlock Holmes."

So said the text.

She wordlessly hands over the keys, and he takes off again.

First floor, room 12.

Sherlock bursts in, poised to fight, but the room appears empty. He gives to it a once over to determine that it is safe, then locks the door behind him and dashes to a familiar looking computer. As before, there's a url taped to the top of the monitor, and Sherlock navigates to it quickly.

Black background, static feed, and an IM chat window.

Sherlock counts down the time in his head.


***


Moriarty perches at the end of the table next to John's head, sucking inexpertly at one of Moran's cigarettes. His other hand rests on John's cheek, just pressing there, keeping his head to the table. Moran stands close in case John lashes out. He's carrying the blowtorch, flicking it on and off, clearly impatient. Moriarty notices.

"Put that down, darling, you're scaring him," he purrs, blowing out a mouthful of smoke.

"Fuck, let him be scared," Moran rasps, clearly still pissed off about John crushing his windpipe.

Armitage stands out of the way, prepping the camera. He's waiting for his order. Moriarty is going to give the signal for when to start, and he loves keeping Sherlock in suspense.

"Oh my god, I bet he's sitting there right now, in that grotty little hotel, just waiting for me," Moriarty gasps with laughter. He twists his head down to look at John, thumb stroking a soft eyebrow. "And you."

John shuts his eyes.

"You know, pet, I'm beginning to see your appeal. You're very …" Moriarty pauses, searching for the word, fingers tapping his lips.

"Stoic," supplies Moran, clunking the blowtorch down on the table behind John, who doesn't even flinch. "To the point of complete apathy."

"I wouldn't say he was apathetic," said Moriarty, teasingly. "He just knows how to wind you up."

And he flicks the cigarette ash against John's eyelashes, and takes another thoughtful suck.

"Is the camera ready?" Moran asks, and Armitage nods silently. "Can we just do this now?"

"Thinking," Moriarty says dismissively. "About what to ask."

Moran sniggers. "Blowtorch to the face or blowtorch to the nuts."

"You and that fucking blowtorch."

Moran steps around, moving out of shot of the camera. They're getting ready now, and Armitage tries to get the focus to work. "Got a better idea?"

Moriarty sneers around the cigarette. "Arse or mouth," he drawls, and stubs the cigarette out in John's ear.

John reacts unexpectedly, thrashing upwards and grabbing Moriarty around the neck with his forearms, spitting blood over his crisp white shirt. Moriarty shrieks and the two tumble off the table onto the concrete floor. Moran is on them in seconds, dragging John off and throwing him down, kicking him over and over in the stomach, only stopping when Armitage physically blocks him.

"Jesus, Moran! Stop! You'll kill him!"

"I thought that was the fucking point!" roars Moran.

Moriarty sits up, picking at his stained clothing with a horrified expression on his pinched face. "Oh, that's disgusting. That's actually really disgusting."

He holds up his hands and Moran grabs them, drags him to his feet, checking him over. "Are you okay?"

"Shut up, you big baby," Moriarty says derisively. He shoots a look at Armitage, who is carefully rolling John onto his back. "Is he alive?"

John is looking straight at Armitage, and the intensity of that blue gaze makes him stutter. "Y-yes."

"Stick him back on the table then. And, Moran, would you be a dear and fetch me a new shirt from upstairs? I think it's time for our show."



Part 2

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
rebecca900506
Jan. 4th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
hi,sorry for bothering u~
i'm quite excited to find this sadly but touched story.i'm wondering do u mind me to translate it into chinese n share it with more chinese sherlock fans.
thank u very much n happy new year~~~
deuxexmycroft
Jan. 7th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
Re: hi,sorry for bothering u~
Yes you can :)
tophie_chan
Feb. 26th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
omgomgomg! I LOV this fic!
just lov it!!...now second part! :D
jainarieger
Mar. 16th, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Re: Multiples
Oh my Q. My heart is pounding so hard right now. Poor John. Why did I read this? (I mean this in the best way possible.)

It takes real skill to write something this horrifying. I don't think I'd ever be able to do it. As it is, I feel sick. This is amazing and I can't help but want to read the next part even though I really don't! (I'm hoping for a happy ending, but I kind of doubt that's going to happen.)

shel_chan
Jan. 4th, 2014 07:24 am (UTC)
To get this out of the way - I've never had a problem reading a fic (or book) before, no matter how gross or sadistic it only made me flinch at most. This one, however...

It took me three tries over two years to get through the first round of torture (the claw hammer), this fic has kept haunting me for too long and finally I've finished the first part.

This is brilliantly horrifying.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )