Writer: 1lostone (lj: 1lostoneficspot)
Alternate links: FF.net || Ao3 ||
Status of work: WIP- Ch 1/6
Characters and/or pairings: Sherlock/John, Ensemble
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.
|| Chapter 1 || Chapter 2 ||
It seemed, rather unsurprisingly to the few that knew the Holmes brothers even slightly, that when things took a turn for the worse, they did so rather spectacularly. It was, as Anthea's mum would have said (way, way before Anthea was Anthea or Danaë, Cassandra or Hermione, when she was plain old Vera Jones) "Summat ought t' be done about that, yeah? 'S all gone more'n a bit tits up, if y'ask me."
Indeed. Her mum had been wise in all the ways that mattered.
It wasn't her place to question. When Mr. Holmes had a task for her to complete, she did it with no fuss. Anything and everything: from fetching tea to helping coordinate small, domestic matters involving no less than fourteen of her Majesty's highly specialized SIS agents. Anthea was very good at her job, and not voicing her opinion was only one of the many things Mr. Holmes required of her.
She slipped silently into the room, careful to keep her face blank as the two voices rose. Sherlock's was easily discernible; the normally velvet-smooth baritone was hard to forget. He was shouting furiously at his brother. Also not a surprise. The younger Holmes, for all he claimed to eschew emotions, had no issues expressing his extensive frustration and hatred for his eldest brother. Mr. Holmes' voice, in contrast, was smooth and rather higher pitched. What caused Anthea to stumble in shock was the... worry in her employer's tone. She shifted uncomfortably in the doorway. Had the information in her hands not been of the utmost importance, Anthea would have made her way out of Mr. Holmes' office, so as to not intrude on the brothers' ... discussion.
"- and what, dear brother... exactly what help can I expect from you? Your intolerable...incompetence is what got John..." Sherlock broke off, mid-sentence, biting off each syllable as though the words were so disgusting that he couldn't tolerate having them in his mouth any longer than he had to.
Anthea watched as Mr. Holmes' mouth opened slightly, as if to reply. The crash of the paperweight that once lived on the edge of Mr. Holmes' desk was loud against the wall.
It wasn't even that expensive of a trinket, really. Last year, Mr. Holmes had insisted that she go on a bit of a holiday, despite her strenuous protests. Coming back was always worse after she'd been gone on a scheduled business-related trip, as though disorganization and ineptitude had run merrily amok while Anthea was away. Two weeks spent completely out of touch? Horrible.
But Mr. Holmes had insisted.
In retaliation, Anthea had bought the most excruciatingly tacky piece of kitsch she could find. The glass itself was clear, but inside the small paperweight was a sparkly, glittery surface. On the surface, spelled out in blinking LED lights of every neon colour imaginable (and a few that weren't) were the words ME- BOSS: you- little person
Anthea certainly had never intended for Mr. Holmes to keep the bloody thing, let alone display it prominently on his desk where anyone could see it.
Anthea couldn't help the small sound she made when it shattered like a small bomb, spraying the Agra rug with both glitter and neon slivers of glass that winked malevolently in the faint sunlight that shone, despite the three weeks of purely ghastly weather, into the large corner office.
Both sets of eyes turned to hers at once. Mr. Holmes' gaze looked weary beyond the greatest measure and Sherlock's... Sherlock looked as though he'd been absolutely gutted.
Anthea swallowed, hard. The look on Sherlock's face was gone in the blink of an eye. It was tremendously telling that it took a few heartbeats before the expression on Mr. Holmes' face solidified to its customary blank slate. Immediately, Anthea found herself bristling on behalf of her employer, although taking care to keep such tells off her own face.
"You are needed in the viewing room, sir." Professionalism kept Anthea's voice clear. "And your head needs medical attention," she said to Sherlock, frowning.
The thin man, somehow looking less solid without his customary coat and finely-tailored suits, made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. More than familiar with Sherlock's antics, Anthea simply spoke over him before he could protest. "You will be of no use to your doctor if you collapse from a concussion, and you really are bleeding rather profusely." Anthea kept her own expression a little bored, as though telling him to take advantage of simple logic was tedious beyond belief. The twitch of Mr. Holmes' lower lip was confirmation that she was doing the right thing, when normally she would have waited for his instruction.
It was rather obvious that Sherlock had no interest in any of his brother's suggestions.
Anthea ducked her head, texting quickly. "Dr. Posey will meet us in the viewing room." He was one of the few doctors on this floor with adequate security clearance, so it was hardly a difficult choice. Anthea turned, pausing for only a moment, continuing to text as though she could care less whether the two of them followed her or not.
The viewing room sounded pleasant, but the fact that there were three different security features before one was even allowed on the floor made certain that only a few people could access its contents. If some unsavoury character happened to bypass the swipe card that logged who was attempting to gain entry, or the keypad where a code and thumbprint must be scanned, there were two armed agents sitting behind glass who had standing orders to shoot anyone they did not physically recognize on site. The panic button not only sent out a signal to other agents within the building (not-so incidentally informing Mr. Holmes of the attempted break-in,) but it sent out a pulse that would render all he computerized information in the small room useless.
Anthea texted that she and Mr. Holmes would have a guest and to expect a doctor to join them before they made it to the lift. The ride down to the viewing room was silent, neither brother willing to continue their discussion- if one could call it that- in front of her.
That was fine. It wasn't as though Mr. Holmes wouldn't send her all the information she needed anyway.
And to tell the truth, she really couldn't blame either one of them. Sherlock... well. With all he had done to keep Doctor Watson safe, the fact that this had happened now, under Mr. Holmes' watch was a terrible kind of irony.
Her phone vibrated and Anthea glanced down. Only one phone, other than her own, had the capability of receiving a signal this deep underground.
[Text received: 7 October, 2012, 12:00 pm]
-One of our own; need confirmed. - MH
Anthea hiked an eyebrow. Her mum had been right. A 'bit tits up', indeed. The fact that it had to have been one of Mr. Holmes own agents, a man or woman trusted, with a finely-specialized skill set... She allowed herself a small sigh. The staff meetings alone for the next year certainly would be less than pleasant.
She would wait until the Holmes brothers were safely ensconced in the heavily-encrypted information in the viewing room before she assembled the information needed to discover which of Mr. Holmes' agents were working with Jim Moriarty.
The lift doors opened with a soft chime. Anthea walked purposefully through the checkpoints, treating them as the afterthought that they were. The agents on duty already had all the information they needed to recognize Sherlock Holmes, which was probably a very good thing given his present mood. She didn't anticipate that he would hold still for lengthy chats or identity confirmations.
As soon as Mr. Holmes crossed pass the threshold, each agent employed inside straightened slightly, becoming more focused on their tasks. Anthea idly noted the commotion as Dr. Posey was scanned through and crossed to an empty station to begin her own research. She purposefully sat where she could watch the Holmes brothers. Anthea didn't fool herself into thinking that she was hiding her regard from the two most observant men in Europe, yet neither of them seemed to notice her presence as their attention was caught by the camera tech on duty.
It was her job to fade into the background. Anthea allowed herself a small smile as she logged in.
Mr. Holmes shifted his weight, gripping his umbrella as the tech clicked a few times, bringing up the camera footage. Dr. Posey bustled forward, taking care of the large gash on the back of Sherlock's head. Anthea was certain that it was only the utter shock of seeing what was on the camera footage that kept the younger Holmes still for the doctor's ministrations. A large part of her doubted that he was even aware of what the good doctor was doing.
The timestamp showed that it was early morning. Fog swirled around Doctor Watson's feet as he came storming out from under the awning. He had walked out without his jacket, clad only in a striped jumper. John Watson was clearly furious. His hands were clenched at his sides and his jaw looked like a block of granite. It was a frequent pose for those who dealt with Sherlock Holmes.
Whatever had made Doctor Watson- and really, Anthea reckoned after you had bought pants for a man (that had been one time, and she suspected Mr. Holmes had had more than a bit of a joke at the good doctor's expense) you could call the man by his first bloody name- that furious must have been rather spectacular if it resulted in the man leaving the protective detail he'd been living under for so long.
"Where are the agents on duty?" The tech's shoulders hunched slightly at Mr. Holmes' question.
"Moss and Moran. Yes, sir. I have that information right..." The tech paused the playback, then stretched, rolling his desk chair over to another monitor and calling up the information. "According to Agent Moss, she and Moran were detained by foot traffic at the bakery. By the time they realized the subject was moving, Mr. Watson and Mr. uh," the tech darted a quick gaze to Sherlock who stood like a statue, cold and still as he focused that great brain on the tech's words. " Uh. Holmes. Had been. Er. Abducted."
He unpaused the video. John took another two steps, then whirled. They could hear- off camera- Sherlock's cry of warning. The angle of the surveillance camera looked to be off kilter- only recording part of the doorway, the stoop, and the pavement, instead of where John and Sherlock struggled with their captors. The tech paused the playback again and switched to another camera's angle.
This camera was also obviously tampered with. It only showed Sherlock's long, lanky body as he collapsed on the pavement. The sound was up and they could hear them being attacked, hear the squeal of tyres against the kerb as the vehicles sped off.
Sherlock turned to look at his brother, and Anthea winced at the way Mr. Holmes actually flinched at the undiluted emotion on his younger brother's face.
Anthea already texted both Moran and Moss, informing them that they would be taking a meeting with Mr. Holmes in fifteen minutes then bent to her task. Quickly Anthea read and filtered the information, sending Mr. Holmes a file for his perusal.
Agent Adele Moss had been with the agency for six years, and had moved quickly through the ranks. She was known to have several weapons specialties as well as special training in hand-to-hand-combat. She had dual citizenship in both America and the UK, and had served as a liaison for two years with the CIA before she had come to Mr. Holmes' attention. She was often commended for various details, having the single distinction of never losing any of the subjects that she was assigned to protect. She was single, owned a small flat in Kensington, and had what looked to be a rather fluffy cat called Jess. Anthea included all of the records at their disposal, including school records and a few notes from a childhood therapist.
Agent Sebastian Moran had been recruited straight from the military. He had specialized in every weapons field available, and was widely considered to be an expert at his craft. As a child he had entered and won several sharpshooter contests, and Moran had frequently been deployed as a sniper for SIS missions. In fact, he had been pulled off the detail of a minor issue in Turkey to help protect Mr. Holmes' brother and colleague. Moran came from a large family, all of whom were in the military. Moran also had several commendations in his file. He had a boyfriend called Andrew, although there was little information available on him, other than he was rumoured to be a computer specialist. Anthea made a note to follow up with information on Moran's significant other, and added this information to Mr. Holmes' file.
Anthea watched as Sherlock finally jerked away from the doctor, only to push the hapless tech out of the way and begin queuing up the films again, ignoring the man's useless sputtering.
For the first time since entering the viewing room, Mr. Holmes met Athena's gaze. The worry from earlier was gone. No surprise there. Mr. Holmes wouldn't deem to show such naked emotion in front of subordinates. Anthea tried her damndest to ignore the strange, fluttery feeling in the bottom of her stomach at the realization that perhaps, to Mr. Holmes, she was not considered a subordinate.
That was a ridiculous thought, and had nothing to do with the current crisis. After copying the file to her own records, Anthea logged out and saw to making sure Sherlock had copies of all the surveillance footage, such as it was.
"Sherlock. Copies of those files have been sent to your email address, as well as the case notes from both Agents Moran and Moss."
Sherlock ignored her, muttering under his breath as he once again watched the films. Anthea only caught a few words here and there- mostly bitten-off curses. She knew from experience that he was deducing; taking in every single iota of information that the films would give him. The small chirp of Sherlock's message notification seemed inordinately cheery in the quiet room.
"Anthea. I believe we are expected elsewhere. Coming, dear brother?" Mr. Holmes' grip on his brolly tightened and Anthea knew her employer had to be berating himself. It was simply unfathomable that he had allowed someone they knew to compromise the safe house that had held Sherlock and Dr. Watson.
Sherlock hissed, sounding like a furious cat. He was tremendously pale, causing the small contusions to stand out on his face like drops of painful ink on a spotless piece of linen. He stood up and clutched his phone, looking down at the notification. Anthea followed the two brothers out of the viewing room and back to the lift.
"The two agents report that they are on their way." Anthea reported more for Sherlock's benefit than Mr. Holmes'. It was a pathetic attempt to get his mind focused on something other than his missing friend, and she felt terribly pathetic at both the attempt and its reception. The lift doors couldn't open quickly enough.
Mr. Holmes stopped short of the small room, standing back so that he could precede his brother into the room. Anthea tilted her head, pausing when her employer did.
"Thank you, Anthea. Your... assistance has been." Mr. Holmes paused. His blue gaze sharpened, intensified. "Invaluable, as usual."
Anthea blinked, nonplussed, trying to hide her surprise. "Of course, sir." She kept her voice professional, allowing herself a small, acknowledging smile.
"Two agents. Possibly three. Outside help, obvious. Knew where the surveillance cameras were. Knew how to be certain that they would not show the details of John's abduction."
"Sher-lock." Mr. Holmes drew out his younger brother's name as he stepped inside of the room, a slight frown on his face. "Before the agents arrive, perhaps you can explain how you came to escape? Without your Doctor?"
Anthea almost dropped her phone. That. That was. Well, she knew the two brothers had more than a bit of animosity towards one another, but that had been rather low.
Sherlock stopped his furious pacing as though electrocuted. He drew himself up, straightening his shoulders and staring at his brother as though he knew exactly how he wanted to kill him. "John. Made me. Promise." The dirty trainers and filthy t-shirt and jeans did nothing to detract from the barely-restrained fury.
Oh. Clever doctor. Anthea stared at her phone, feeling painfully awkward.
"Hm." Mr. Holmes crossed to the small desk, sitting down behind it with a small, disdainful sniff. While Anthea was certain that the small mess from the paperweight had been cleaned up, she knew that Mr. Holmes would not want to conduct this particular interview in his office. "Rather manipulative, although I cannot say I am unappreciative of the results. Still, the fact that your doctor was able to get you to promise something, and adhere to that promise?" Mr. Holmes' small smirk spoke volumes. "Impressive."
Sherlock's gaze glittered. His mouth twisted, no doubt to deliver a scathing reply, but before he could there was a small, tentative knock on the door. He whirled and stalked to the corner facing the doorway, furthest from his brother.
Anthea heard the chirp of his phone. Sherlock was too furious to notice, visibly restraining himself from responding to his brother's dig.
Had she been alone, she would have sighed. It was so obvious, really. Mr. Holmes was giving his younger brother a very obvious target to direct his rage towards. Still it wasn't her place to comment.
Anthea opened the door and a very subdued, clearly terrified Agent Moss slipped inside, standing at a rather brittle attention. Her gaze flicked quickly to Sherlock, before settling on her boss.
"And where is Agent Moran?" The question was rhetorical, but Agent Moss winced. Both Holmes' gazes fixed on the poor woman like predators after a particularly tasty bit of prey. Just as her mouth opened to respond, Sherlock's phone chirped once again. With a snarl, Sherlock glanced down, only to utterly freeze. Anthea had never seen someone become so still, so quickly.
Mr. Holmes' phone buzzed quietly against the desk where he had carefully placed it.
Sherlock gasped. That was perhaps why she didn't notice when her own phone buzzed silently in her hand. His eyes widened, going from furious to utterly wounded in the space of half a heartbeat.
Agent Moss' ringtone: Secret Agent Man, sent the woman blushing furiously, fumbling to silence her phone.
It was only chance that had Anthea standing close enough to Sherlock to catch him when he swayed. She tottered in her heels as Sherlock caught his balance by roughly grabbing her shoulder, ignoring the fact that neither of them was particularly comfortable with being touched.
The image of John Watson's face was frozen on Sherlock's phone. Anthea felt the gasp of breath Sherlock took before he tapped the cracked screen.
The doctor looked very small, spread out on a metal gurney. His hands were stretched above his head, and it was obvious that the doctor's shoulder was dislocated. His hands and ankles were cuffed so that he was attached to the table. Bright light shone down on the gurney, sending brief flashes back towards the camera. There was quite a lot of bruising on his ribs and abdomen. A pair of hospital scrubs hung low on his hips.
John was either unconscious or sleeping, his head turned away from the camera.
Both she and Sherlock jumped when a face popped up in front of the camera. It was impossible to tell if it was male or female under the mask. Its eyes were hidden by sunglasses. The face put a finger to its lips in an exaggerated request for silence. The figure tiptoed cartoon-like, with ridiculously overdone movements, towards where John lay cuffed to the table.
The hand, covered in a nitrile glove, skimmed lightly over John's flank, up over the slight pooch of his abdomen to clamp down cruelly on the doctor's dislocated shoulder.
John jolted, waking up with a scream of agony.
Sherlock made a small, hurt, shocked sound as he watched his friend's head whip around, watched his body arch as the hand yanked on the separated shoulder. John quite obviously forced himself to hold in his pain, his teeth clamping down on his bottom lip hard enough that Anthea didn't know how he didn't bite through the pale flesh. He glared up at the figure, forcing his body to relax.
Sherlock's long fingers dug into Anthea's shoulder like claws. She winced, dimly aware of Mr. Holmes barking orders into a phone. Agent Moss set her phone onto the desk before two other Agents escorted her from the office. Something about the video. Phones. The same video was sent to several phones? She frowned, and refocused, unable to make herself look away from the broken screen of Sherlock's phone.
"Oh come now, John. I can call you John, right? I mean, I feel as though we know each other so... intimately after all." The tone was familiar, even friendly, but the voice was distorted, sounding alien and jarring to Anthea's ears. The gloved fingers skimmed across the doctor's collarbone. "But all this... is rather tedious. Jim left rather specific instructions for me to follow and we best get to them, eh? But before we do- I need you to look over at that camera for me."
The person in the mask forcibly turned John's head, bending down so that their heads were together, waving frantically as though taking a holiday snap. "Hiiiii! Smile, John, your detective is no doubt waaatch-ing." The distorted voice sounded hideous as it sing-songed. It leaned closer to John's ear in a mockery of a whisper. "He likes to watch, you know."
There was a grating, echoing laugh, then it slowly changed as the electronic distortion was removed, becoming a low, cultured voice. "Oh! I almost forgot. I'm sure your brother already knows this but..." The figure took off the mask and gloves, humming a jaunty tune under his breath.
It was Sebastian Moran.
The video cut off abruptly.
For a heartbeat no one in the small office moved. Sherlock jerked away from Anthea, stalking towards his brother, face twisted in a murderous rage. Anthea moved without thinking, sweeping Sherlock's long legs out from under him so that he crumpled onto the floor, landing hard on his arse. He looked not unlike a colt who had failed at taking its first steps.
Anthea took a slow, steady breath. "You're supposed to be the most brilliant man in Europe. Perhaps you can focus that blinding intelligence on finding your friend instead of murdering your brother?" Anthea forced a small smile. "It is so desperately difficult to find such excellent dental."
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