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Title: Within You (Without You)
Writer: 1lostone (lj: 1lostoneficspot)
Alternate links: FF.net || Ao3 ||
Status of work: WIP- Ch 1/6
Characters and/or pairings: Sherlock/John, Ensemble
Rating: NC-17
Warnings, kinks & contents: Longer, more detailed list is at the bottom of this fic. Please read if you have any issues. This is a WIP so other tags might show up at random. First Time, Friends to Lovers, Elements of PTSD, Suicidal Thoughts, Descriptions of panic attacks, Codependency, Post Reichenbach, Depression, Claustrophobia, Hurt/Comfort, Jealousy, Angst, Accidental Voyeurism, Voyeurism, Non-Linear story
Length: chapter length varies- but word count for the first 4 chapters is 18,161
Author's note: Obviously, bit of a whump here. But I promise to make it better.
Summary: It wasn’t fair to say that Sherlock never miscalculated. As often as he might wish otherwise, Sherlock was, after all, only human. As John would say, ‘on the “rare” occasions when Sherlock bollocksed something up, he really bollocksed something up.' This was most definitely one of those times.

-Before-

[Text sent: 23 June, 2012, 02:01 am]

-Obviously your attempts to 'watch over' John are as abysmal as your attempts to use the cut of your suit to hide your ever-expanding waistline. You promised that he would not come to harm. -SH

[Text sent: 23 June, 2012, 02:01 am]

-Unavoidable.

I tightened my fingers with a hiss, sounding much more like an angry cat than I would ever admit to anyone. It wasn't the first time that I had bemoaned Mycroft's utter and complete incompetence, but it was the first time in recent history that his ineptitude had made me this utterly furious.

I should have anticipated the bomb.

Events on the roof had happened so quickly that the idea that Moriarty would have back-up plans had completely knocked me for six. Of course Moriarty would have a failsafe. He knew who to target to best hurt me; naturally he would have something in place if any of those plans were disrupted.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid! The extent of my own obtuseness was unforgivable. In this, I was just as complicit as my idiot brother. I paced back and forth in the small flat, my feet cold against the wooden floorboards as I walked the twenty-two steps across the sitting room, only to turn and stalk back. My first night here, almost the first thing I had done was arrange chairs and the settee so that it mimicked the layout of 221B. It was perhaps a bit pathetic, but it gave me the exact pacing space that I'd had for the past eighteen months, and that was vital to my thinking process.

My mobile vibrated in my hand. I looked down at the cracked screen. Even after the events on the roof, I had still adamantly refused to allow Mycroft to buy me another phone. Shameless sentiment, but watching the telltale muscle twitch in my older brother's jowl- Mycroft's version of a strop- was very nearly the only thing I had for entertainment in recent weeks.

The way his face had twisted into something approaching pity after my reaction had been immeasurably worse.

[Text sent: 23 June, 2012, 02:12 am]

- He is unharmed. So is the housekeeper. They were upstairs together.

I felt the tension in my shoulders sag, causing me to stop mid-step.

My Homeless Network had been instrumental in providing me with information, since my damnable brother had proven even more useless than usual. Since my "death," John had not left the flat. Mrs. Hudson had only left once, and had been so distraught that she had only made it to Speedy's before Mrs. Turner had stopped her and rather forcefully steered her to a strong cup of tea. Given that Mrs. Turner had been an alcoholic for over ten years (yellow, papery skin, burst blood vessels in her nose, obvious) I rather suspected the cup had a bit more liquid courage in it than tea.

The simple fact was that I did not have enough data. I had erroneously envisioned that I would be able to unravel Moriarty's web and be back with John by Christmas. In the eleven days since my death I had only found one of the three snipers, and that was completely by chance. Mycroft's incompetent underlings had tipped their hand and before killing herself, the sniper had triggered one of the traps.

It was painfully obvious that the explosion had been meant for Mrs. Hudson.

I knew that Mycroft was likely whisking the two of them away to a much safer location. "Taking care of matters," as was his wont. I'm sure the other residents of Baker Street must have more than a passing fear for the gas pipes at 221. That was, if their tiny little minds bothered to think of why there had been two explosions in such a relatively small amount of time at all.

Highly doubtful.

[Text sent: 23 June, 2012, 02:49 am]

-Everything under observation. Will update soon. Do try to eat something. You know how Mummy worries.

I snarled down at the cracked display, ready to throw the sodding thing. Oh really. Because of course I would be feeling a bit peckish right after my John was blown. Up. 'Soon?' Would it kill the great lump to use a little specificity? And how could he claim to-

Oh bloody, buggering fuck. Of course.

It wasn't even the first time Mycroft had alluded to an observation. I whirled, stepping over the coffee table, ignoring the small crack it gave under my weight as I bent for my laptop. Necessity had given me a more than passing familiarity with the inner workings of the British Government, and dipping behind their firewall for access to Mycroft's surveillance cameras was laughingly simple.

I could quickly see that the files were split over two servers. One section was past files, ranging in length and file format. I wasted no time copying them. The other file was a live feed.

My throat tightened as I clicked. I had no illusions that Mycroft was not already aware of who had hacked into his feeds- indeed; he had practically sent me an engraved, monogrammed invitation by "casually" dropping the word observation into our conversation.

Further proof that the target had been Mrs. Hudson was not necessary. I could see that 221B was mostly unchanged by the blast. My eyes flicked over the new crack in the smiley face wall, and it looked like one of the sitting room windows had been shattered from the force of the blast, but it was not the apocalyptic scene of damage that I had envisioned when Mycroft had first texted me. There was some smoke lingering in the air. Some of my books had fallen off the shelves. A fine layer of plaster dust hung over everything like a light dusting of snow.

I could control the camera from my laptop and wasted no time in clicking to the other surveillance cameras scattered throughout the flat:

John's room: empty. Bed made in almost painfully neat hospital corners, the obvious habits of a military man. A lamp had fallen over, but otherwise there were no outward signs of occupation. Of course. Most likely sleeping on the settee.

(-After nightmares, John would often pad out to the living room in bare feet to either curl up on the settee, or to stare broodingly out onto the London night if the settee was otherwise occupied. More often than not I could chase him back to bed with the sounds of my violin, attempting to calm and soothe to the best of my rather stellar ability.

John must have his sleep.

I just ensured that he was able to rest for a few more hours before his alarm clock went off with its blaring insistence. I never acknowledged my impromptu concerts, and John certainly never did something as painfully pedestrian as thank me for what he surely had to know I was doing...)

My breath tightened painfully in my chest.

The kitchen: shards of broken crockery strewn about. One cabinet open, empty, obvious. The detritus of my lab had been flung rather haphazardly into a box in the corner of the room, experiments no doubt binned. Not John. Mrs. Hudson? My huff of exasperation was loud in the quietness of Mycroft's flat.

I clicked on the last camera.

My room: Bed mussed, duvet sloppily kicked to the foot of the bed, half hanging off as though the bed's sleeper...

My observations shuddered to a halt and I stared almost solemnly at the familiar expanse of my room.

There was an oatmeal-coloured jumper tossed haphazardly next to my blue dressing gown, both balled up together on one side of my bed.

"John." I cleared my throat, guilt swarming in my gut.

Obviously my flatmate, my colleague, my... best fr- My thoughts skittered off in every conceivable direction as the sensitive microphone on the camera's feed picked up John's distinctive tread on the stair. I swallowed hard enough that I could hear the click of my dry throat. Dimly, I was aware of my heartrate increasing as John's steps took him closer and closer to our flat.

Another miscalculation. I had assumed that Mycroft would situate both John and Mrs. Hudson in another safehouse; momentarily forgetting of course the utterly complete stubbornness of Captain Doctor John Watson. He would have gone with Mrs. H, to see her safe. Naturally. However the idea of him being coddled by Mycroft's endless supply of well-dressed workers would not have sat well.

Oh God.

I felt as though I had been punched in the throat. No. I had been punched in the throat before; Uni, details deleted. This was more painful. My fingers felt cold as they came up to flutter uselessly against my skin, as though holding the breath inside my oesophagus.

His limp was back. I could see that it wasn't psychosomatic this time; the bright white bandage that encircled his strong thigh was caked with dried blood. The camera did not allow me to see his face from this angle, but I could see the shudder of the breath in his body as he cast his gaze around the flat, watched as his shoulders hunched defensively in on himself.

John allowed himself a moment to huddle against the door before pushing himself up and limping towards the kitchen. One of the constants of the universe- John took comfort in the small, familiar necessity of making tea. Inflicting order on disorder.

I flipped to the kitchen camera and now I could see the painful bruising under his eyes. Even Anderson would be able to put together that John was not sleeping well. I flinched to see that he had aged in the almost fortnight since Bart's. His hand trembled as he made the tea, clenching into a fist as he waited for the kettle to boil.

The rigid frailty of his shoulders did not waver as he poured the hot water into ... into...

I could not help the way I leaned forward to touch the image of John's face on my laptop screen, observing in an almost detached way the way his lip trembled once, his face crumpling for just a moment like a child whose world had just ended. The harsh breath could have come from my own worthless lungs as he visibly composed himself, muscle in his jaw twitching as he bit painfully at the fragile skin, refusing to lose his composure.

John had made my cup of tea without realizing it, the long-familiar habit as much a part of him as the hospital corners on his unused bed. I could not help but deduce how often this happened as I watched John calmly pour the untouched tea in the second mug into the sink.

A quick glance at the broken shards of crockery was answer enough.

-Now-

John had no way of keeping time. He knew that hours had to have passed by the way he'd been forced to relieve himself, like a dog stuck in a pen. His throat was painfully dry, and his requests for water had gone unanswered.

A thudding, furious anger echoed the throbbing in his head as he sat in his own filth, staring hard in the darkness at the clear wall where the light had been, as though he could force the madman holding him to show him Sherlock by stoicism alone.

To keep himself awake he went over simple facts in his head.

He and Sherlock had been kidnapped.

John was being held in a box. It was more crate than coffin-sized. The width from side to side was roughly a meter and a half. Since his hands were tied behind him, John couldn't be certain, but he'd been able to guess by inchworming around. There was a bit more space from head to foot. He could lie down with the top of his head touching the back wall and point his toes in his filthy trainers, so the length was a bit more than his own height.

His breath had gotten a bit wonky when John realized that this box had to have been built to his height specifications. It had taken a good five minutes before his heart had stopped jumping around.

When John planted his arse on the floor and sat up, the very top of the crate was mere centimetres above the top of his head.

Even more troubling was the realization that each surface was made of a different kind of material. The topmost one was a metal alloy. His head hadn't liked him much when he found that out by thunking his temple against the top during one of his less than graceful inchworm moves. The southernmost plate near his toes was the thick plastic that allowed him to see the monitor. The light hadn't been turned on since he'd gotten the brief glimpse of his friend.

In the hours that passed, John couldn't tell what material was to his right, only that it was blistering hot to the touch. Somehow the heat didn't fill the small space, but when he touched it he hissed with pain. His mind shuddered away from examining the amount of work that had gone into keeping him captive.

The wall to his left was the one with the current. It reminded him of the bug zappers near the field hospital by Camp Bastion, only John didn't much care for the fact that in this particular situation he was the bug being zapped. After hearing the distorted voice, curiosity and boredom had him brushing his shoulder against the wall, tensing his sore body for the same level of electricity from before. His ribs still throbbed from his first attempt. Pure tenacity had kept him trying, noticing that the strength of the current petered out over time.

So not only kidnapped, but stuck in a box by some mad fucker who had planned on John being here.

John, having already recited the names of the bones from his skull down to his feet, started again, from feet to skull. He caught himself nodding off twice. He knew that he would not be able to stay awake much longer. Between exhaustion and his head injury, he was just about at the end of his tether. "Distal... phalanges. Metatarsals..."

"Not getting bored are we?"

John's eyes popped open. Instead of the blinding lights from before, one single bulb illuminated the man standing outside of the box. John squinted, but with his dilated pupils he couldn't make out any distinct features. He rolled his eyes when he realized that part of the glass was frosted to further disguise his captor. Again, a small detail, yet intricately planned. It was surprisingly creepy.

John opened his mouth, then shut it, refusing for a moment to answer. Sherlock's lanky body flopping onto the lino flashed in his mind's eye and John grit his teeth, forcing himself to take a deep, steadying breath, ignoring how his cracked ribs pulled.

"You look filthy, pet. I have a fix for that." The electronic, distorted voice chuckled, and for a second John was shocked into immobility. Pet? Only one other man had. Was it possible that...? No. No, Sherlock had been adamant that Moriarty was dead.

But Sherlock had been wrong before. Not often, true. But often enough.

John heard a squeak and tilted his head up, straining to focus his bleary gaze on the roof. A small section near where the man was standing opened, and John froze to realize that a large hose, similar to one used with housefires was being fed through the small opening. His fuzzy brain only had a split second to process what was about to happen before water began gushing out of the hose. John couldn't help the shriek as he attempted to fling himself away from the wall with the current, only to knock his head painfully against the wall with the blistering heat.

It took several heartbeats before his panicked body realized that the power had been cut to both the sides of the crate. There was no place to hide from the water. John attempted to fling himself to the monitor wall, but the spray of the high-pressured hose completely permeated the small space, leaving nowhere for John to hide. He was drenched utterly, the muck on his body sluicing off of him and leaving him violently shivering.

"You'll notice that the floor drains your mess quite nicely. It would sure be a shame if I forgot to flip the lever that opened the drain, yeah?" The voice cackled, but John was too overwhelmed to respond. He curled up as best he could, ignoring his throbbing head and bright starburst of pain from his ribs, waiting for the water to stop.

Finally though, his captor decided enough was enough. The faint drips tapered off to a dibble, then the wet plonk plonk plonk of a faucet that hadn't been turned off properly. John heaved a teeth-chattering sob of relief, beyond caring what the crazy fuck thought of him.

"Very nice, Doctor. Stand up, please." The hose was drawn back. "It appears that you need some medical attention. Forgive my lapse; I was dealing with your erstwhile partner. Bit of a pain in the arse, that one, eh?" Incredibly, the voice had adopted an almost commiserating tone, as though he and John had been mates for years.

John blinked.

Was dealing? What the sodding fuck did that mean?

"Come now, Doctor. Just had a bit of a setback is all, yeah? No big. Shouldn't really be a shock, really that the great ponce would be so selfish as to just leave you behind. Not like he hasn't done that before, eh? Now turn. Have to clean you up a bit more. Bit of a plan change, but if nothing else, over the last three months, I've learned that I can be surprisingly adaptable."

John's sluggish mind was whirling, adrenaline giving him the kick in the arse he needed to make him actually think instead of just react. Aware that he was still shivering, John scooted his arse over slowly, feeling sick when the leather-coated fingers pushed through the hole in the glass, pushing at the bend of his neck. John was thinking so hard that not cooperating didn't even occur to him.

Sherlock had gotten away? Was that a lie? Was this just another way to fuck with him? Honestly, John had expected more in the way of mental fuckery given the scope and plan for the little box of horrors. The water had been a nasty trick; all the more for the sodding wait of anticipation for something to happen. If Sherlock had escaped, that would explain the way John had been figuratively cooling his heels for hours. Or, Sherlock was still on a floor somewhere, out cold. Maybe even dead.

No. Ridiculous. Sherlock Holmes had successfully faked his own death. Sherlock wasn't dead. John refused to think any further along those lines.

John tensed, freezing in place at the cold slide of a hypodermic needle as it slid into his neck. Whatever it was reacted to his painfully empty stomach quickly, sending the dim light of the box swirling unpleasantly before his eyes. John landed face-first on the floor, his cheek smooshing uncomfortably on the floor. It sent a starburst of colour ricocheting behind his eyes.

"Fuck... me."

The cackle of his captor's laughter was the last thing John heard before he finally passed out.

Next



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