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[personal profile] 1lostone
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.

|| Chapter 1 || Chapter 2 || Chapter 3 || Chapter 4 ||

A/N: Mind the warnings here. Long chapter is long. Some John/OMC and light d/s tones. (sort of? Well, you'll see what I mean.) Gore, little bit more John whump, then it will get better bbs. Promise.

-Before-

Shame was rather a new concept for me. I was fully cognizant of what so-called normal society thought of what I was doing, and prior to this I would have been the first to say that I had the self-discipline to restrain myself (not often, but yes, when I felt it was warranted) yet I simply could not make myself stop. Not when it came to John.

It had been a filthy little flat in Kyrgyzstan where I had first realized that my habit of 'just checking in' on John during my absence was less of a kindly check-in, and more of an obsessive need to see that he was... whole.

He wasn't of course. Bags under his eyes, greyish pallor to his skin, the fact that he had dropped at least a stone, all obvious, all utterly baffling. I had honestly not expected for John to be this affected by my death. I did understand that he would be wrapped in sentiment, but I was led to believe that after a moderate period of grief, he would move on with his dull, boring life.

Even more surprising was the realization that I... ached. Even now as I recount this, I feel like an utter knob for sounding so sentimental, but the fact remains that I missed my blogger. My friend. I missed him dreadfully. The oddest little things would refuse to stay on their proper shelf in my Mind Palace: the smell of his aftershave (the every day one, not the 'date' one), the way he would scrub down the toilet and bathroom sink like he was going to be performing heart surgery on the porcelain, but would leave a mountain of dirty dishes on his desk, the way he would get that tiny glow of admiration when I had said something particularly brilliant- all tiny, insignificant things that I should have been able to delete.

I had had one of those periods of ennui; bored and listless as I waited for confirmation of the minor little crime boss to approve my plans. So tedious. Breaking into Moriarty's web meant several different aliases, all of whom had their own stories and skill sets. My damnable brother was, point of fact, good for something, and had kept quite a few of his minions busy by confirming the little nibbles as one alias after another was checked for its validity.

The filthy flat in which I had been occupied at the time had one room; no furniture except for a bed that at first glance had made me resolute not to allow my bare skin to touch its clearly unsanitary surface. I had a blanket that I was stretched out on, fully clothed. There was no attached en suite. Several tenants shared the dismal little room. All-in-all, quite a few steps down from Mycroft's posh flat where I had hid previously.

The flat, however, had boasted one thing. An arms dealer by the name of Torgutav. He was rather a large fly in Moriarty's web, and he happened to live above me. It had been child's play to set up the camera and recording equipment, ensuring that the tedium of a surveillance was alleviated by informing Mycroft of the little fish my net had caught. Certainly I wasn't planning on watching the petty criminal. It was bad enough that I could hear what he was doing with the barely-legal whore that visited him in his room every Tuesday.

Still, thinking of surveillances had made me think of John, and, as my impulse control was rather laughable when it came to my former flatmate, it had taken only moments before I was once again logged into the feeds in 221B.

I had tapped impatiently on the plastic of my laptop, waiting for the hack to load. It was rather necessary that I ensure that my signal was bounced through several different servers before the familiar surroundings of my home appeared in miniature through Mycroft's feed. My fingers had stopped mid-tap, my mouth unhinging just slightly.

John.

It was immediately apparent what he was doing, yet the thought of shutting the laptop and leaving him to his privacy never crossed my mind. A quick flick of my gaze around the dim room had several different sources of data (light dusting of water on John's chest, discarded towel, half-empty bottle of scotch) filtering through my hard drive, yet the majority of my attention was focused on... Christ.

John, as he sat slouched on the settee, legs spread in an uncaring sprawl, head tilted back so that his eyes stared blindly up at the ceiling, lower lip planted firmly between his teeth as he stroked his prick with sure, deft strokes.

I had felt as though I had been hit in the chest. My skin had been too hot, no. Too cold as I watched John toss off. I was aware of my breathing as I had watched, heavy and accelerated until I was almost panting. Shame warred briefly with my sudden, sharp desire to see John finish, see him spend over his fist, or perhaps his chest; the settee where I had spent a good deal of my time.

John though, stopped just before he would have orgasmed, trailing his hands back over his stomach and chest, leaving his red, twitching prick alone as he spread his legs a little more, adjusting how he sat. The light sweat on the backs of John's thighs squeaked against the leather surface of the sofa, and I had found myself biting my lower lip.

I had been uncomfortably aware of my own body as I watched, of the way my clothes rubbed against suddenly too-sensitive skin, the fine fabrics itchy and much too rough. I shifted on the disgusting bed in the filthy little flat and gripped the edges of my laptop hard enough that my fingers looked like those of a corpse, bloodless and claw-like as they clutched the thin plastic surface.

John had forced himself to slow down, to back away from the edge of his own desire, and I jerked my gaze up to his face, all at once curious as to what woman he was imagining. Sarah? That saccharine- sweet Morstan woman from the coffee shop? Some other faceless, nameless body- a soft, jiggling pair of breasts, a sense-memory of sliding into slick wetness, a gasping, breathy moan as painted nails scratched and clutched at John's shoulders?

I had watched as John reached for his drink, throwing it back blindly and resuming his previous position. The muscles of his throat trembled as he shuddered when his hand, cold from the ice in his glass, stroked along his shaft and I found myself licking my lips as he started again. The circle of his first few fingers and his thumb pulled down the foreskin before tightening so that John had to fuck up into his own hand, feet braced on the floor as he changed his grip. I watched as he began to flush, the ruddiness in his cheeks spreading slowly down his neck, over his slightly tanned shoulders and chest.

My throat had gone utterly dry as I watched John finish stroking himself, shaking, quiet except for a sharp cry that he couldn't bite back. He was completely lost in his head; his hands touched his body as a lover's would, and I was at once so immensely jealous and disgusted with myself that I slammed the laptop shut and shoved it off of my lap so that it fell onto the floor with a soft thunk.

Luckily, the gunshot from Torgutav's flat had provided a welcome distraction from my guilt, and I had put the whole incident from my mind. Not deleted, no. But put on a special shelf in my Mind Palace where I could re-examine when I had the time and inclination to do so. Obviously, it had been much easier to just put the incident from my mind completely.

Until Paraguay.

Paraguay had necessitated a controlled relapse. Completely within my control of course. Mostly. Mycroft had been adamant that I not involve myself in this particular aspect of seedy underworld crime, yet it had been laughingly simple to set myself up as a distributor. My chemistry skills produced a very profitable product. Now of course I realized that it had been too simple, but Kirill had presented such a juicy, tempting fruit.

John had often told me that my plans lacked a proper amount of preplanning and had he known what I had gotten myself into he would have been tediously vocal on the subject.

Not to mention smug, once my injuries had healed.

Unfortunately, Kirill was not as much of a moron as I had originally thought. I had stupidly tipped him off, and as a punishment, he made certain that I was injected with my own drugs. I did manage to kill him on my way out, but it had been rather a close thing, interspersed with the furious functioning of my mind as it processed both the additional inward and outward stimuli. How I had stumbled to my hotel room was much more luck than skill, and once again I had found myself watching John.

Seeing him made my body react.

Even now I remembered how I could feel my pulse thudding, heavy and much faster than normal, even as the chemical cocktail began to wear off. My skin had felt too tight once again as I had watched John stare at something, his face curiously blank. Even switching camera angles did not afford me a clear view, but I had been able to deduce that whatever the object was, it was one that was causing John some level of stress.

Mrs. Hudson had called and with a flash John had hidden the object and had turned towards the door with his face arranged in pleasant surprise. Unless one looked at his eyes. It did not surprise me that Mrs. Hudson missed it as she clucked around, making tea and arranging the pasties she had obviously made. My razor-clear gaze had been unable to look towards Mrs. Hudson's face for very long; it was strangely painful to look away from John even for a moment.

My mouth had watered, and I clearly remembered the cold, sharp sting in my chest, despite the lethargy that was slowly replacing the nervous chemical energy that coursed through my veins. I had felt my own pulse with something very like confusion as I watched John lean slightly into Mrs. Hudson's frail frame, allowing her to shoulder some of his grief for just a moment, the steam from the tea curling around the both of them.

For a stupid, stupid moment I had convinced myself that it was Mrs. Hudson's cooking that was affecting me thus. My fingers had felt cold as I traced their faces on the laptop screen, watching the cosy, domestic scene. I watched until my eyes burned, unable to look away until the server (or Mycroft) had booted me out of the feed.

Events after that were muddled and fuzzy for various reasons that I have chosen not to dwell upon.

John would not approve of my weakness.

Were I the sort to adopt current conventional misogynistic nomenclature, I would have said that Irene Adler was a bitch.

She wasn't of course. Unless she was being paid to be.

Yet when our paths had crossed in Laos, she had simply ensured that I was unable to hide from the fact that I enjoyed watching John to an extent that popular society would frown upon. I had been furious, because once she pointed out my proclivities; I could no longer deny what I was doing, nor why I was doing it.

Irene had contacted me through a third party, and our inevitable reunion had barely started when she took one full look at me and had frowned, as though offended. It was child's play to deduce the flicker of emotions in her steady gaze: disgust, frustration, sadness, then a very resolute anger. "Your doctor would not be pleased if he saw you like this, Sherlock." Her cold hand had tightened painfully on my shoulder as she snapped out a request for a cab. I had hit my temple rather hard on the door as she bustled me inside of the small vehicle, and had refused to look at her the entire way to her flat, feeling like a small child taken to heel by his mother.

Having a really unamused Dominatrix take charge of cleaning your sore, exhausted body, ensuring you slept and feeding you up was a bit of a shock to one's system, to say the least. Not to mention all sorts of unpleasant.

It had bothered me that I had woken up naked, with only a terrycloth dressing gown to be found in the room. The stale sweat of detoxing chemicals had made my nose curl, and I had stumbled into the en suite, noting that she had both my shampoo and preferred brand of soap. A tiny detail, yet one that punctured my wounded anger like a sad-looking balloon. My mind had felt like a hollowed out drum as I finished in Irene's shower and made my way to where she sat like a cat in the sun, curled up on a window seat.

Her clear gaze had taken in my sober, well-rested and quite a bit cleaner state with a bored flick of her eyelashes, and had gestured lazily at the counter of her kitchen. I don't know why I had expected a brief respite, but the bloody woman had not even allowed me my second sip of coffee before she spoke.

"A voyeur, darling? Surely that's much too much kink for someone as innocent as yourself..." The Woman simply stared at me, one eyebrow cocked high in acknowledgement of her well-placed verbal salvo. It might have well been a bomb given my reaction. In a very strange way, she had reminded me of John; unamused and full of sentiment at the state in which I found myself. Kirill's little chemical bump had become one more way to punish myself, as excuse after excuse became yet another reason to enjoy the brief respite of my endless, whirling thoughts.

I had frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights, not missing the small smirk of her reaction. My hand had fumbled the mug of coffee, spilling it. The burn had caused me to hiss with pain and I found myself overwhelmed, stunned in place like an utter idiot, staring at her with wide eyes.

She hadn't spoken of it further, but the word knocked about in my skull on endless repeat.

"I... A. A voyeur is someone who receives sexual gratification from..." I trailed off at the look on Irene's face, completely cowed by her derision.

"Are you actually trying to explain yourself? How very interesting." She had stood, and I had watched her stalk closer to me, not put off at all by the soft day-dress she wore instead of her customary leather and boots.

Oh I had tried to put her off of course, to focus on why I was there. The trouble was realizing that the "third party" who had forced our reunion had done so for my own good, rather than any desire to further decimate Moriarty's web of crime. Obvious of course now that my head was clear. Bloody Mycroft. I shudder to think of the text these two must have sent- both about my proclivities and recent drugs use. It had been moronic of me to think I had fooled my elder sibling into thinking I truly believed Irene was dead. John had been laughingly simple- avoiding the topic so as to not inadvertently hurt me. Mycroft had to have known what I was doing that cold night when I had left London to go save the Woman in front of me. Even more troubling than deducing that these two were texting each other about my welfare was the wholly unwelcome realization that I cared.

"Hm, well I propose a little experiment then, shall we?" Irene didn't wait for my answer, crossing the rest of the room and climbing up into my lap with hardly a break in her stride.

I had been so stunned at the sudden contact of her body, the warmth, her scent, that it had not even occurred to me to dump her off my lap by the simple expedient of standing up. I could not imagine the look on my face, yet Irene seemed quite amused by it as she grabbed my wrist with one hand and the back of my neck with the other. When she spoke she did so by looking directly into my gaze.

I suppose I was grateful that she was at least clothed this time. Foolishly, I had attempted brazen it out. 'What experiment?"

In answer she smiled, refusing to look away. "John Watson."

My pulse jumped of course. How could it not? Her smile turned smug as she felt my reaction under her fingers.

"Don't be shy, darling. You're the one who taught me this trick after all. Your brother has told me of your little obsession. He worries, I'm told. He wanted me to point out the foolishness of watching your Doctor at all hours of the day, and to remind you that your weakness is not an advantage here." Irene cocked her head, her thighs tight against my own. "I suppose that means something to you?"

I had just swallowed, painfully. My throat had made a dry click. It did, but that wasn't any of her business.

"Answer me." Her voice was a weapon, sharp and painful.

To my shock, the words tumbled from my throat. "I am not a..." I faltered. Talking about the sexual actions of others never bothered me. Talking about my own to this woman was horrifying. "A... voyeur. I have never gotten off while watching John." I thought the crudity of my statement would shock her. Stupid of me, really. She had been delighted.

"Just because you haven't 'gotten off', doesn't mean that you haven't desperately wanted to." Her saying that of course made me picture it; and to my utter humiliation, my body reacted much as it usually did when I watched John. Images of John arched on our settee flooded my mind, the picture of his cock in the circle of his hand, red and wet and coming.

Irene didn't brush her body against me, although she had to have felt my reaction through the terrycloth. She didn't even drop her gaze from my own, although now she was so close I couldn't see the expression on her face. The hand on the back of my neck continued to hold me steady, while her grip on my wrist continued to take my pulse, monitoring any lie that I told. It was damnably effective.

"Interesting." She held me there a moment longer and backed off, giving me space and going on into her bedroom to dress for the day.

I don't know why I had thought she would leave it at that. To say that she forced the issue was ridiculous of course, given that I could have gotten up, or left the flat at any time.

The next few days were predictably dull. I was at a rather frustrating stand-still, having had absolutely no luck in finding Moriarty's next in command. There were whispers of a name, but nothing that either of us could confirm. I had no experiments to fill my time; neither did I have the occupation of my assigned tasks. To put it mildly, I was bored out of my bloody mind.

Irene was perfectly pleasant- until I stubbornly refused to eat. Then her rather... particular personality came out in full force. It was much easier to just eat.

Boring.

I suppose that had been her plan- to lure me into a false sense of security. It was disgustingly domestic- Irene working on her own agenda, and me checking up on my various aliases. Then all at once it wasn't.

Granted, I had not been at my best when I stumbled into the lounge, bleary-eyed after an attempt at sleep filled with nightmares and what-ifs, but seeing Irene perched on the arm of the chair, watching my laptop with a strangely intense gaze, but I still hadn't realized what she had planned.

Until I heard John's gasp.

I had frozen for just a moment, eyes narrowing as I took in the scene. Her cold smile, the way her eyebrow was ticked at a perfect angle. Furiously, I leaped forward to grab the laptop. Stupid, as she took advantage of my flailing gesture to jerk me off-balance so that I fell into the chair. I was too caught by the images on the screen to stop my forward momentum. In a flash she was behind me, the laptop on the table in front of the two of us.

Data.

Younger man, in his late 20's, ink stains on his left forefinger, some kind of bureaucratic position. It was hard to... It was desperately difficult to concentrate. I watched, unable to care that Irene was gleefully taking in my reaction like the climax of her favourite telly programme as I saw the man kiss John, saw John jerk away from his mouth and push him so the younger man was flush against the wall. John's body slammed into his with a low grunt, and the man turned his head so that they could kiss once more. John avoided his mouth, kissing under his neck instead.

Jealousy was a bright, agonizing flare, taking away my breath. The man was as far from my body type as could be imagined, young and fit, tan, slightly shorter than John with very light blonde hair. I tried to look away from the scene from Mycroft's feed, feeling the sickening shame flood my extremities, causing my stomach to flutter unpleasantly. I was terribly, desperately aware that I was hard in my trousers, throbbing and over-stimulated as I watched the two of them fuck. This was so, so much more than a bit not good. John would not want me of all people to see him...

Irene's fingers tightened on my chin, the leather strangely cool against the stubble I had been much too lazy to groom away. I could hear the scrape, loud over the sound of my suddenly increased breathing. "No, Mr. Holmes. You will watch every second. Look at him. Watch."

I watched, a slight shudder overtaking me as I observed John kicking the other man's legs apart. Dimly, as though from a great distance away, I could hear Irene's soft breaths. She had arranged herself behind me, carefully not touching me with any part of her body, except the strong grip of her fingers on my chin. It didn't occur to me until much later that I didn't, not once, try to avoid where she directed my attention.

"You're pulse is rapid, your cock is hard in your trousers, your breathing is ... lovely. I can hear how much you want him. Listen, Mr. Holmes, listen to him. Listen to yourself."

My eyes had opened slowly. I hadn't even been aware that I had shut them. Every word that she said was brutally honest. John hadn't even stripped either one of them. His face was buried in the nameless man's shoulder, his fingers wrapped around the other man's wrist as he pushed them into the wall. I could see the flex of his buttocks as he thrust into the man's arse; hear the cries and the grunts that filled the laptop's speakers. My own breath was tremendously harsh, almost high-pitched with a wheeze that I couldn't seem to control.

"Your brother wanted me to shame you into stopping your little obsession, Sherlock."

I let out a small cry at the way she hissed the syllabant sound of my name, jerking in her grip. All of my attention was trained on watching the way the man bit his lip, pushing back into John's thrusts.

"What he fails to understand is that there is no shame in enjoying him. You have done everything for this man. Do you think your doctor would be disgusted to know that he has your attention? Use that lovely brain of yours, Sherlock. John Watson has done everything in his power to keep your attention on him."

I could ignore the other man and focus on John, biting my lip as I watched the flex of muscle in his small, compact frame. Dimly I was aware of her footsteps as she walked away, and in a flash I fumbled for the zip on my trousers, desperate to finish with John, to share some kind of intimacy with him- as stolen as it was. My hand shook as I tightened around myself, hips arching into the tight grip of my hand. My half-strangled groan of John's name had echoed loudly in the room, mingled with John's grunt as he finished, biting at the man's clothed shoulder.

It took me several minutes to regain my breath. I had flushed when I realized that Irene had left a damp flannel near the chair, and wiped myself down, then quickly managed to tuck myself back in my pants and zip up before Irene came back with her bloody camera phone.

Bangladesh was, not to put too fine a point on it, where I realized everything I had done was useless. As John would say, a complete clusterfuck.

Irene kept in contact with me periodically, often when rumours of Moriarty's man surfaced. Not knowing was absolutely, utterly intolerable. Everything that I had done for John, for Lestrade and for Mrs. Hudson was to draw out this singular- was he singular? Was it a he even? I had no data, and no data was unacceptable. No data meant that John wasn't safe and that? That was... no. Not acceptable.

I scrubbed my hands through my shortened hair in frustration, pacing around the small single room where I was currently living. The cocaine would be no help whatsoever. Irene had managed where my own conscience had failed. Irene had seen to my detox and I was quite frankly less than willing to go through that again, yet I could still feel the itchy, twitching feel of my blood in my veins. It pushed me to act, to do something. Anything.

Watching John was my one constant. Hours upon hours. Not even my brother's increasingly pissy texts deterred me. When he changed the servers, it practically invited me to hack the feeds again. Over the past months some cameras had been removed and others added, so at least I knew Mycroft's surveillance was continuous.

John wasn't doing well.

He'd stopped dating... or socializing, aside from Mrs. Hudson. After his... encounter with the nameless man John hadn't brought anyone else to the flat. It made it impossible to deduce whether or not this was a common occurrence. Had John simply been intoxicated? Had it been John's first time with a male partner? The level of skill (remembered and obsessed over until even I had to call a halt to my ability of recall) he had possessed made me think that John was not a stranger to his bisexuality.

(And if so, why not me? Why would John not have acted when I displayed clear signs of attraction? Obvious. Friends. Not attracted to my idiosyncrasies.)

He grew thinner. Spent more time in the flat. Sent Mrs. Hudson away with more and more frequency.

A lead- a whisper of a name- had sent my focus into the dregs of the criminal underworld. I am sure that Sally Donovan and her sideshow monkey Anderson would not be shocked to discover that I felt nothing with killing those men and women. Each life that I took meant that I was closer to coming home to Baker Street. To John. As was my habit, I had gone several days without sleeping.

Several days without checking on John.

The feed connected without an issue. John was in the lounge, in the process of lifting my violin case from its customary spot on the bookshelf. John set it down with a small click, his breathing heavy in the otherwise silent room. I watched as his steady hands unlocked the two clasps, opening the case with a small whine of the old wood. I felt my lips soften into something ridiculous as I watched him. His face was turned away, but I could clearly see his fingers brush the glossy surface, and felt my smile turn a bit wistful as John plucked a note. I doubt that he knew it was horribly flat.

"Oh, Sherlock."

Hearing my name caused my breath to catch. John sounded—he sounded. God. I was so stunned that I missed watching John turn to sit on the couch. Was so focused on the man that I missed the obvious signs: the neat clothing, the tidy room, the scrap of paper folded with military precision on the corner of the table.

All at once I understood. It came to me with a twitch; so clear in my head that it was almost like it had been written there in three-inch Johnston Underground font.

I jerked so violently that the laptop slid off of my lap and onto the floor, cracking the screen and booting me out of the feed. I fumbled, landing hard on my knees and logging in again, mistyping the password twice in my haste. No. No, it couldn't ... no. John.

My phone. Mycroft. He could... I texted on autopilot, cursing under my breath, staring hard at the indicator as the feed loaded.

[Text sent: 29 December, 2013, 3:00 am]

-JOHN DANGER RESPODN 221B IMMEDIATELY

The feed loaded, my heart stopped in my chest when I saw John, looking down at his gun. He was sitting with perfect military posture, one hand on his thigh, the other holding the sig so that his wrist was cocked on his knee. I watched as he looked around, observed the way his mouth trembled. My gravesite. His mouth had looked like that before he begged me for a miracle.

I was dialling before I could even think about what I was doing.

I was afraid to blink, to look away even for a moment. With Henry Knight, it had been about the puzzle, about showing him what I had learned before he pulled the trigger in his mania and fear. John had later told me that I had done something very much good, and the little niggle of guilt had been hard to ignore. I hadn't talked Knight out of it for Knight. I had done it for The Work.

With John, I simply shut down. Every ounce of sentiment; every single thing that I was feeling was caught in this one moment. I heard John's phone ringing from where it sat next to his-

(Second leading cause of death, males 25-40. John. Suicide Note, More than half of all suicides completed with a firearm, PTSD, Oh John no, emotionally unstable to the point of acute depression NonoNO.)

-note. His note, Christ.

John's face seemingly collapsed in on itself, crumbling into despair as he heard the ring. I was shaking so hard that I had to clutch the already cracked plastic, terrified that if I dropped it he wouldn't pick up.

Would he answer? I had no data.

I watched his shoulders hunch, watched as his gaze looked down to the gun he held. The fingers tightened around the handle and I heard the click of John's voicemail.

"Fuck! John!" My voice cracked. I hit redial. Helpless. I heard the ping of Mycroft's return text but couldn't look, couldn't bear to rip my gaze from John's face for one second.

I watched John's wrist relax. He carefully set the gun on the coffee table with a click that made the both of us flinch. I saw the glistening of tears as they tracked down his face. He reached out blindly for the phone and picked it up, answering without looking at the display.

"Hello?" His voice. Fucking Christ, his voice. So calm, utterly devoid of any emotion. No clue to the emotional upheaval he was experiencing.

I choked, unable to speak. I had to clear my throat, and even then only a whisper made it past my paralyzed throat. That gun. It was much, much too close to his hand.

"John."

John's eyes snapped open. His whole body went rigid, as though he had gotten an electric shock. Even as distraught as he was, my John had no trouble recognizing my whispered voice.

"Sherlock?"

-Now-

John was having a perfectly lovely dream. Mad as fucking hell of course, but it was rather lovely. It was the strangest thing. John was sitting in his chair, holding their Union Jack pillow in his lap. He was naked and strange, black marks were painted all over his body. When he looked directly at them though, they swirled and dipped with blood.

Sherlock sat lounged in his blue dressing gown, draped over their settee in his customary swoon. He was looking up at the ceiling of the abandoned warehouse like it held all the answers to all the questions in the world.

John started to feel horribly embarrassed by his nakedness, but Sherlock seemed utterly oblivious. "Sherlock?"

"Dull, dull, dull!" Sherlock flailed his ridiculously long limbs, looking like an insect that had been flipped up over on its back for a moment, before he swung himself around to sit on the centre of the settee, legs open and bony elbows resting on his knees. Sherlock ran his fingers through his curly mop of curls in a way that John refused to find endearing. "This is tedious, John. You must think. I cannot do this for you. Come now, you recognize this place, surely?"

One of the black marks began to burn with agony. John bit his lip so that he wouldn't cry out as it throbbed. He faltered, thoughts scattering like crumbs in a hurricane as the pain took his breath away.

Sherlock knew though. Sherlock always knew. John blinked open his eyes, widening them a little when he saw that Sherlock had moved to his knees in front of where John sat, the cold concrete seemingly not bothering him at all. Sherlock's hands were warm against John's skin as he bent over the mark. His breath caused the hair on John's leg to stand straight up and John froze as Sherlock hovered over the black swirling mass of agony, staring down at the curly head in shock.

"You must. Tell me, John. You have to tell me." Sherlock's voice was at least a full octave lower than his normal speaking voice. John's mouth went dry. He felt his cheeks flush and his stomach went all funny at the intensity in the deep voice. Somehow, Sherlock's proximity was keeping the pain at bay. Having Sherlock's complete focus was shocking in and of itself. The fact that his cock was well more than half-hard was just ... god. What had Sherlock said? Shit! He was meant to be focusing!

Tell him what? John's cheeks burned as his cock pressed into the fabric of the pillow. His hips shifted nervously in his seat. God, Sherlock would know. He would know everything.

"My..."

Sherlock's lips brushed the unblemished skin next to the weird mark. John's groan was loud in the warehouse.

Oh. The warehouse. That's... oh. Ohhh.

John's eyes snapped open as his back bowed with pain. One blink. Two, and he realized exactly where he was.

"Sh'ck," John moaned, biting at his lips to keep the scream behind his teeth. His fucking shoulder. Jesus, Mary, John, Paul George and Ringo. He hadn't been certain that it had hurt this much when he was shot.

There was something wrong with his lips. They felt frozen, and he couldn't move them as they should have gone. Stroke? Perhaps. Mental trauma, certainly. That dream had felt fucking real and it hurt to know that Sherlock wasn't there with him. In a way, that hurt as much as his body.

"My... 'h'se," he slurred. Shit. He had to try better. "House."

When he saw Moran step into his line of sight, John couldn't help the full-body flinch. Moran bent down and kissed the burns he'd inflicted in a gross parody of what Sherlock had done; only Moran did it with as much pain as possible, pressing his teeth into the fragile flesh so that John's breath caught in his throat.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck.

"You know? This is a bit disappointing. I thought for sure he'd find you by now. The great Sherlock Holmes is a bit fucked up when his trusty sidekick has been... well. Kicked." Moran snorted. "Jim told me that no matter what, I had to finish his last dance. Details, details, details. Borrr-ring!" A small fleck of John's blood was caught in Moran's spittle, and John was terribly afraid that if he looked at it much longer it wouldn't matter if Sherlock found him or not; he'd be utterly mad and it wouldn't matter.

John licked his dry lips, turning his face away from Moran's foul breath. He wasn't sure if it was more disturbing that Moran sounded like Moriarty when he spoke, or the thought that Moriarty had planned for John's demise from beyond the grave. John wanted to beg for Moran to stop, but his lips still felt strange. Tingly, as though he had been electrocuted. For all John knew, he had been.

Moran had other ideas though. He gently turned John's face back towards his. John didn't even have time to brace himself before Moran shifted his weight, pulling on John's dislocated shoulder. John heard something pop and the sudden flare of pain was so bright that he passed out completely, grateful for the respite.

No memories of Sherlock when he woke up. John was cold, curled up on himself. He was still naked but could have cared less. It took him a few moments to realize that he wasn't on the gurney.

Instead, he was back in the box. In a way, it was comforting, knowing that Moran wasn't there with him. John was so dizzy; so tired. He forced himself to sit up and winced when his fingers brushed against the wall with the electrical current. It was a lower-grade shock, but it was, literally, a shock to John's already pain-wracked system. He heard the small, hurt sound he made and hated himself for it.

John shifted rather gingerly. His foot brushed something at the far corner of the box, and John squinted, trying to see what it was. It almost felt- Could he... trust what his senses were telling him?

John inched away from the wall, desperately thrilled that he wasn't still tied up. His toes struck the object again, and John lurched, unaware that the high-thready sound he heard buzzing in his ears was coming from his own throat.

It was his Sig.

His shoulder was so fucked that it was bloody impossible to raise the weapon with his gun hand, but he was able to check blindly, and did so. The realization that Moran had left him with only one bullet caused John to drop the gun and scuttle back to the opposite corner, as far back from it as he could go.

Time had to have stopped.

John had no other explanation. The hot wall didn't burn all the time, but it kept John from shivering at least. He knew, vaguely that he had stopped sweating, that his body was too dehydrated to produce fluid.

He was terribly thirsty.

It was impossible to ignore the gun. Its presence was both a comfort and just another torture. It seemed almost kind of Moran to give John an out. But ... no. Moran had worked his and Sherlock's security detail. Moran knew very well what John had almost done.

Dimly, John became aware of some kind of commotion outside.

Moran was coming back for him.

John felt his resolve solidify. He would do this. There was one bullet, and John Watson knew how to make it count. That sodding little worm thought that he would just off himself? Take some easy way out of his pain? Fuck that. John would bide his time, would make sure that his one bullet was used right; lodged right between Moran's eyes.

When the top of his box was thrown open, John was blind. He'd only had a split-second to aim before his eyes were bombarded by the light. His finger squeezed the trigger. It was perhaps, then, extremely unfortunate that once his eyes adjusted to the change, John saw that instead of Moran's cruel grin, Sherlock's shocked, pale face stared down at him, his eyes wide.

John felt his heart stop. Was he... was this another dream? John watched, dumb with shock as blood beaded up on Sherlock's cheek, his shot having grazed the pale skin over Sherlock's prominent cheekbone. He simply could not make himself move.

"I never thought that I'd say this, John but I am rather glad your aim is utter shit." Sherlock held out his trembling hand to John, pale fingers curling around his own in a grip that was much, much too tight. "Now come on. I think your little adventure is." Sherlock's voice cracked. He coughed, clearing his throat. "Over."

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