Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use, more's the pity.
Warnings: Non-con and slash (Sherlock/John leanings in this part).
Summary: Written for a prompt on the kinkmeme: Before shoving him in the explosive vest, Moriarty fucked John, viciously. John makes it through the whole encounter with Moriarty and Holmes via his own badass soldier nerves of steel, but afterwards, when he and Sherlock are admitted to the hospital for minor burns and abrasions and shock, the hospital staff find other injuries on John.
(Title page by birddi)
John thought he was doing well, considering. He'd forced himself to move normally, naturally, in front of Sherlock, forced himself to act as though pain weren't rocketing through every inch of him, and he thought he'd pulled it off pretty well.
He'd even grabbed hold of Moriarty when he'd seen his chance, even though the thought of so much as touching the man made him want to retch. Under any other circumstances, John knew he'd never have moved.
But stronger than the need to run away and never, never come within twenty feet of Moriarty again was the need to keep Sherlock safe.
He'd been a little worried when Sherlock was ripping the bomb off, mainly out of worry that some of the weals on his back had bled through the shirt. He'd held onto his coat though, ensuring Sherlock didn't get a glimpse of them, and desperately hoping that the blood soaking his underwear hadn't begun to stain his jeans.
John hadn't even been able to feel them to check if they were damp or not – that would have just drawn Sherlock's attention to it.
He took the first chance he had to reel to the floor, getting the seat of his pants out of Sherlock's line of sight and hoping he'd passed it off as sheer, dizzying relief at no longer having a bomb strapped to him. Given his injuries, it wasn't the most comfortable position he could have chosen, but he didn't dare shift his weight, didn't dare do anything to make Sherlock think something had happened to him beyond being draped in explosives.
Besides, the pain had become a sort of crutch, fortifying him against the the fuzziness that was rapidly encroaching upon his senses. John had the feeling that he'd pass out on the floor if he actually found a comfortable position – the constant agony shooting through his synapses was probably the only thing keeping him conscious.
Sherlock didn't seem to notice anything, likely because the self-proclaimed consulting detective was acting as jumpy as a caffeinated squirrel in room full of cats.
Of all the things that had happened tonight, it was this that left John the most disoriented. Because Sherlock was always calm, as distant and dismissive as foreign royalty, always acting as though he was in complete control of the situation even when he quite clearly wasn't. To see him pacing restlessly, switching the gun from hand to hand like he wasn't sure what to do with it (which was really a rather frightening thought) made John think of when he was eight years old and the cat had managed to flip the goldfish out of its tank. He'd swooped in for a daring rescue and managed to save his fish's life, but as Sherlock twitched and fretted John was forcefully reminded of his fish flopping on the carpet, jerking and shuddering as it scrabbled for footing in a completely alien world.
So John did what he did best when Sherlock seemed bitter or frustrated or angry or restless; he made a quip, and tried to get him to laugh. Sherlock's reaction somewhat surprised him – while he'd known he could make Sherlock smile, he hadn't known he could make Sherlock relax like that. He hadn't thought anything could, but the evidence was undeniable. As Sherlock smiled, the taut line of his shoulders suddenly eased, and the tension drained from his body as though a plug had been pulled.
John made to stand up, determined to carefully manoeuvre himself so Sherlock was never behind him on the way home, then invent a reason to go out so he could discreetly get himself treated at a hospital or clinic somewhere.
At least, that was the plan. Then a swarm of red laser sights appeared on his chest and on Sherlock's, and John had the sinking feeling that the plan was about to go down the toilet.
It turned out John had been right – it hadn't been Semtex attached to the vest.
Of course, John would have appreciated discovering this some other way than Sherlock shooting it and setting off...whatever it was.
It seemed like a cloud of white smoke, except it was much thicker than just smoke, almost like an explosion of very small, very fine particles, like a gigantic dust bomb. John could feel it irritating his eyes as he blinked into the impenetrable morass, his legs moving in what he hoped was the direction of the door, his fingers welded to Sherlock's wrist.
John had seen the flicker of Sherlock's trigger finger, and had made his move at almost the exact moment the gun had gone off. The plan had been to grab hold of Sherlock and get him to the exit, hoping that whatever happened when he shot the supposed bomb would be enough of a distraction that they wouldn't get hit by the snipers. Of course, he was assuming it was something other than Semtex attached to the vest, but if that actually had been a bomb, nothing he did would have made a difference.
At least this way, there'd been a chance they might survive.
The white...something...had billowed out with frightening speed, like a miniature avalanche. He'd only just managed to grab Sherlock's wrist before they were enveloped, and was reeling through the mess with a half-remembered picture of where the nearest exit was. He was desperately holding his breath, determined not to get any of the powdery substance into his lungs – he wouldn't have put it past Moriarty for the gunk to be some sort of nasty chemical weapon.
His outstretched arm hit the door, and the impact was so unexpected it threw John backwards. He swallowed a scream as his back slammed against Sherlock's chest – he could practically feel his lashes re-opening – and reeled dangerously for a moment, his balance deserting him as his pain reached a crescendo.
Long fingers closed around John's arm, steadying him for the split-second it took to get his feet under him once more.
John didn't waste time or breath on thanks – he bolted for the door, dragging Sherlock behind him. He knew the open air would give the substance a chance to dissipate, a chance for the snipers to re-aim, and he didn't plan to be in the building when they did.
He didn't realise he'd run them three streets away from the pool until Sherlock stopped, the sudden arrest of motion yanking brutally on John's hand (still in its death-grip on Sherlock's wrist) and spinning him around.
For a moment, he and Sherlock did nothing but stare at each other. Then, as the haze of adrenaline started to clear, John's body reminded him that he'd been raped barely twenty minutes ago, and that running around was not a good idea. In fact, it had been a bloody awful idea and what the hell did he think he was doing?
John was determined not to faint on the spot, no matter how badly he wished he could. If he fainted Sherlock would examine him to determine why he'd fainted, Sherlock would find the blood, and then he'd know what happened and Moriarty would have won and John was not going to do that!
He did stagger rather dramatically backwards, though – releasing Sherlock's arm in the process – and was grateful when his back hit a reassuringly solid brick wall. It hurt, but not nearly as much as the twisted mass of agony between his legs and along the base of his spine. John let the wall hold him up, all his strength going into not screaming as he screwed his eyes shut and took deep, steady breaths while he waited for the pain to subside to something approaching manageable levels.
John opened his eyes. Sherlock looked like some bad Halloween costume of the ghost of Christmas past, covered as he was in the white powder. There was a small frown line forming between his eyebrows and one hand was raised towards John, as though Sherlock wanted to reach out for him but didn't know exactly what to do next. The look in his eyes could only be called concerned, with a healthy dose of alarm in there as well.
“I'm alright,” John told him – technically a lie but he was more alright than he'd been a few minutes ago. “Just the adrenaline crash.”
Sherlock glanced down, his eyes going just a little bit wider, a swift intake of breath revealing just how unsettled he was. “Your wrists are injured.”
John followed Sherlock's gaze. While his gloves and jacket sleeves had covered the wounds previously, it seemed all the jarring his arms had taken had broken open whatever light scabs had managed to form – the dark lines where the powder had absorbed his blood were as clear as neon lights against the deathly white of the rest of his body.
John didn't think he could lie to Sherlock with any kind of success, at least not without prior preparation. The trick would be to tell enough of the truth to explain his injuries, but withhold enough so Sherlock never suspected what else Moriarty had done to him.
“He had me in handcuffs, and I tried to slip them.” He offered Sherlock a pained grin. “Wasn't really a good idea.”
Sherlock sniffed, as though almost embarrassed by his previous concern. “Certainly not. For future reference, if you need to get out of handcuffs and are unable to pick the lock, the best recourse is to actually break several bones in your hand.”
“Duly noted.” John had known that already, but it had been impossible to get the proper leverage to break his hand in the position he'd been tied in.
Wanting to draw conversation away from his injuries, John did what was practically guaranteed to distract Sherlock – gave him a problem.
“What is this, do you think?” he asked, wiping at his sleeve to make a small cloud of powder rise into the air.
“Can't tell without a proper analysis,” Sherlock muttered, sounding peeved. As though being unable to determine the powder's chemical composition by sight alone was some kind of personal failing.
In spite of himself, John felt a smile tugging at the corners of his lips, and he quelled the urge to laugh. Mainly because if he laughed it would turn hysterical very quickly, and that would definitely make Sherlock think that something was wrong.
Sherlock's eyes – distant and slightly unfocused, the way he always looked when his mind was sprinting ahead and leaving everyone else's in the dust – suddenly narrowed in on John with laser-like intensity. “You knew it wasn't a bomb.”
“I suspected,” John admitted. “The vest wasn't heavy enough for that much Semtex, so either it wasn't a bomb, or there were much less explosives on me than there seemed to be.”
Once again, Sherlock looked a little disgruntled, as though wondering why that hadn't occurred to him. Personally, John was glad it hadn't – if it had, that implied Sherlock spent a lot of time handling Semtex, and that idea wasn't exactly conducive to John's peace of mind.
John asked another question, this time one he honestly wanted an answer to. “Why do you think he did that? The fake-bomb thing?”
“Just another test,” Sherlock replied, already looking into the middle-distance as his mind processed the information. Probably trying to calculate if he'd passed or not and what this meant for the future.
John supposed that made sense. At the pool, he'd been wondering if he'd read Moriarty wrong – if he'd hadn't been raped to get a reaction from Sherlock, but simply because Moriarty was a sadistic psychopath. He hadn't bragged about it at all, and when it seemed Moriarty was about to order their deaths, John had wondered what the point of it was – why rape him if he never let Sherlock know about it, and if he planned to kill them almost immediately?
But this...this told him he hadn't been wrong about anything. Moriarty had always intended for them to escape, and he hadn't bothered bragging about the rape because he was counting on Sherlock figuring it out.
So John had to make sure he didn't.
'Which is going to be very difficult if Sherlock is going to keep staring at me like that and crowding my personal space,' John mused as he witnessed the return of Sherlock's laser-stare, once again focused on him.
He half-expected the taller man to rattle off one of his usual brilliant deductions, and felt a slight chill creep up his spine at the thought – did Sherlock know? Had he figured it out? – but there was nothing. Just a gaze so intense it was almost solid, flickering up and down John's body like he was the piece of evidence that was going to break a case wide open.
John tried to give Sherlock a reassuring smile, a silent promise that everything was going to be fine. He was a terrible liar, but this wouldn't be a lie provided John could get Sherlock home and unobtrusively obtain medical attention. He needed to get the latter as soon as possible – he was a little worried about the length of time he'd been bleeding.
As long as John's adrenaline high lasted and he didn't bleed through the seat of his jeans, he figured he had a shot.
Then he heard the purr of a very expensive engine. Sherlock tensed once more as a black car swung into view, and John tried to take more weight on his legs instead of leaning against the brick wall – if they had to run for their lives again, he wanted to be ready for it.
But when the car door opened, it was Mycroft that emerged, not Moriarty.
Upon seeing it was his brother, Sherlock relaxed marginally, even as John fought against the sudden urge to run in the other direction. Keeping his rape from Sherlock had hinged on the fact that, for all his intelligence, Sherlock seemed to have trouble reading people. While he could analyse their jewellery and wallets and hands and expressions, actually reading the person and not the details seemed difficult for him. That had been the crux of John's plan – that even if Sherlock could tell there was something wrong, he would simply put it down to the trauma of being abducted by a criminal and would never think to look deeper.
Mycroft, on the other hand...Mycroft could read people. More than that, he seemed to know how people thought and acted – if anyone was going to suspect Moriarty raped him, it would be Mycroft.
“Got yourself into a bit of a mess this time, didn't you, Sherlock?” Mycroft said by way of greeting, giving their dishevelled, powder-covered forms a meaningful glance.
Apparently unable to come up with a suitably scathing reply that didn't admit his own culpability, Sherlock settled for a withering glare and a simple, “Mycroft.”
John didn't say a word – best not to give Mycroft anything to work with.
“Since I am confident you gave me the original plans,” the elder Holmes sibling went on, in the kind of voice calculated to seem as disinterested as possible. “Am I to assume you used a non-functional facsimile?”
For a moment, John was bewildered, then realised Mycroft was referring to the missile plans, the plans Moriarty had supposedly thrown into the pool.
“Don't you know? Can't you deduce it?” Sherlock remarked, and to anyone else he would have sounded exactly as he had in the flat before the whole mess began. Disinterested and contemptuous, wanting only for his brother to be out of his sight...but John could hear the slight hesitation in his voice, the way the syllables trembled almost imperceptibly – Sherlock had been badly shaken tonight.
John spared a moment to hope that he wasn't nearly as transparent to Sherlock. Then he took another moment to silently pray Mycroft would leave soon.
When he heard the distinctive wail of police sirens on the night air, John fought not to swear aloud. He didn't know how long he could maintain this facade of normality, and he certainly didn't think much of his chances in front of both the Holmes brothers and a collection of London's finest. Alone, he might have been able to fool Sherlock but now...now someone was bound to notice something.
“Cassiopeia is arriving with the police,” Mycroft announced, and John had a sneaking suspicion it had been purely for his benefit – Sherlock had probably known the police were on their way as soon as his brother stepped out of the car.
His puzzlement over who Cassiopeia was lasted until his slurring brain remembered Mycroft's assistant, and that 'Anthea' wasn't actually her real name. He very much doubted that 'Cassiopeia' was, either, and wondered at the change. Did she go through a rotation – a different name every week or some such?
“And there should be an ambulance on its way as well.”
John's wandering attention arrested on Mycroft again with an almost perceptible jerk.
“An ambulance?” he blurted, hoping he didn't sound as horrified as he felt.
“Come now, Dr. Watson, I'm certain you realise that you, at least, require medical attention,” Mycroft said, with a pointed glance at John's ravaged wrists.
Most of the sirens passed them by – probably on their way to contain...whatever it was that had exploded all over the pool – but one car turned down their street and screeched to a halt just behind Mycroft's.
John wasn't as surprised as he should have been when Lestrade and Donovan emerged from the car. Mycroft had likely ensured they were called to the scene specifically, probably just to annoy Sherlock or something.
John was still feeling strangely dislocated from everything; as though he were watching it in the cinema instead of living it. And it was difficult to connect himself again, because everything seemed a little off-centre and slightly blurred around the edges.
He was aware of Lestrade ranting at Sherlock, yelling something along the lines of Sherlock not being allowed to invite mad bombers to secret rendezvouses just so he could feel clever. Donovan was demanding to know who Mycroft was, to which he replied with something that sounded like 'an interested official' and flashed some kind of ID that made Donovan shut her mouth so quickly her teeth clicked.
Lestrade made some motion towards John, as though he were about to grab his shoulder or something similar, and John couldn't help his reflexive flinch. His body thrummed with pain as he jerked away from the outstretched hand as though it held a snake.
Something shifted in Mycroft's eyes like a stone settling on the bottom of a river, like an idea taking root. John looked away from him, trying to school his face to reveal absolutely nothing.
He hoped he didn't smell as strongly of sex and blood as he felt like he did.
“Surely that can wait?” Sherlock snapped, obviously responding to something Lestrade had said that John had missed in his half-aware daze.
John realised that while Sherlock's face was turned towards Lestrade, his body had shifted towards his own, almost as though the taller man was trying to block Lestrade's view of him. Taking in the way he was practically hovering over him, John couldn't help but think that Sherlock's entire attitude seemed almost...solicitous.
'He's had a scare.' The thought hit John like a flash of lightning in the dead of night – a split second of illumination in previous darkness. 'Probably more of a scare than he'll ever admit.'
Almost involuntarily, John remembered the expression on Sherlock's face when he'd first faced him at the pool, remembered the desperation in his voice when he'd asked if John was alright, the frantic way he'd torn the jacket off, the way he'd paced and stuttered...
Sherlock could claim to be a sociopath and to not give a damn about anyone but himself until the day he died, but John knew he'd never believe it again. Not after tonight, not after seeing Sherlock truly, honestly worried about him. Maybe it was true that Sherlock didn't care about people...but he cared about John.
“The man who taught a sociopath to care...”
John very carefully did not flinch or close his eyes or react in any way to the sudden intrusion of that particularly ugly moment. He remained where he was, struggling to keep his breathing even and steady.
But he couldn't help himself from leaning a little closer to Sherlock as though his presence could banish Moriarty's spectre, his body instinctively seeking safety in the face of the shadowy memories that curled and tugged at the corners of his mind.
John knew it didn't make sense. He'd flinched away from Lestrade, and he hated the very idea of Mycroft or Donovan trying to touch him...so shouldn't he be flinching from Sherlock as well?
Maybe Sherlock just didn't seem like threat because he was so far removed from anything resembling sex. That was, of course, excluding the idle fantasies John had entertained, but he was a relatively healthy bisexual male – he'd figured he was allowed his moments of idle speculation. And yes, he might have been nursing a tiny crush, but he'd been coping with it rather well; he'd been dating Sarah, for one, who was quite pretty and very kind-hearted and he thought they could really get something serious going if they tried...and also because John knew 'unobtainable' when he saw it and to pine away for the rest of his life would have been very unhealthy.
Of course, Sherlock feeling safe could simply be another bizarre twist of John's mind – he never seemed to react to trauma the way he was supposed to. He got shot in Afghanistan and should have developed psychosomatic tenderness where the bullet had actually hit him, but instead he acquired a limp. He had nightmares about the horrors he'd seen and should have never wanted to face anything resembling danger again, but he'd ended up craving it like it was some kind of drug. He'd killed a man and instead of being wracked with guilt, he'd giggled about it.
He was raped in Sherlock's name and by all rights should be cringing away from him...instead he only wanted to get closer. He wanted to rest his head against Sherlock's chest and close his eyes and just let everything disappear for a while...
John only realised his eyelids had slipped shut when he felt a sudden, sharp jab to his shoulder and he had to open his eyes in surprise.
'Cassiopeia' was stepping back from him, tucking something out of sight in her purse. Sherlock had apparently been drawn into some kind of procedural debate with Lestrade, and Mycroft seemed to have taken advantage of his brother's distraction to order his assistant to do...something.
Startled, his mind still foggy and slow, John glanced down at his arm, absently noticing the tiny pinprick of blood on his sleeve, a bright scarlet against the white powder.
He'd been injected.
John's eyes jerked up, staring blankly between Mycroft and 'Cassiopeia' for long moments, his numbed brain trying to determine just what had happened. Why would Mycroft want to inject him? And with what?
“I thought you were in pain, Dr. Watson,” Mycroft said, his voice disturbingly soft. “I believed you'd appreciate a little relief until the ambulance arrives.”
Then John knew. He'd been injected with an analgesic, and likely a very potent one. Perhaps it was beginning to work already, John didn't know – he couldn't feel anything other than pure horror.
Mycroft knew. Mycroft knew. Mycroft knew he'd been raped, and he knew John was trying to keep it a secret. And with the injection of whatever painkiller was already sweeping through his body, Mycroft had told John that he wouldn't be allowed to keep it a secret.
In that moment, incandescent rage blotted out everything else.
“You utter bastard!” John bellowed.
He was dimly aware that everyone around him had gone completely silent, that every eye was turning towards him, but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything but the arrogant, high-handed bastard in front of him, and in that moment he wanted nothing more than to smash his fist into Mycroft's nose until that bland, disinterested face showed something real, something human.
But John didn't dare push off the wall he was leaning against. He could feel whatever he'd been injected with beginning to work – the pain tearing through him was getting quieter, as though someone was slowly turning down the volume, and his mind was getting fuzzier. He was certain that if he abandoned the support of the wall he'd simply fall into an unconscious heap on the pavement.
“I expect someone to catch me when I pass out,” John announced to the world at large, before focusing his ire on Mycroft once more. “If I hit my head and get a concussion on top of everything else, I'm going to be even more pissed off at you than I am now.”
Mycroft sighed. “Please be sensible, Dr. Watson. You couldn't have hidden it for any length of time, and subterfuge will only hinder your recovery. And considering the dosage Cassiopeia gave you, I'm quite certain you are not going to pass out.”
“Oh, yes, I am,” John muttered, but with considerably less heat. He knew he was going to drop into unconsciousness very soon, so there was no point debating it, and the novelty of being able to prove Mycroft wrong was rather alluring.
Not to mention, it was hard to summon anger while you were halfway to being completely insensible. The pain was going and it was taking the adrenaline along with it, and his body was deciding that now was a good time to shut down for the foreseeable future.
“John, what is he talking about?” Sherlock's voice cut into his brain like a scalpel, and John realised he'd somehow closed his eyes without actually being aware of it again, and forced them open once more.
Sherlock looked almost as worried as he had when John had peeled back the parka to reveal the pseudo-bomb. It was getting more difficult to control his expression, and Sherlock must have seen something in his face because his eyebrows suddenly snapped together.
“John,” he said, his voice more quiet and coaxing than John had ever heard it. “What's wrong?”
He couldn't say it. He couldn't look into Sherlock's face and say he'd been raped – he just didn't have the strength. All his will and nerve were draining out of him, like the blood he could still feel dripping down between his legs.
John closed his eyes and pressed his head back against the wall, swallowing the urge to scream in despair. He'd tried so hard...
“What gave it away?” he whispered through numb lips, feeling heavy and sick.
Mycroft's voice seemed to be coming from very far away. “From what I've managed to gather, this Moriarty fellow fancies himself at war with Sherlock, and this little game was only to draw his attention to that.”
John could only guess at how Mycroft knew that. Sometimes he thought it was better to just assume both brothers knew everything unless explicitly stated otherwise.
“It makes sense to assume that he would make the final round especially personal, hence the use of you as a hostage. But given the degree of frankly disturbing obsession that had been demonstrated throughout, I thought it unlikely he would limit himself to simply making you another mouthpiece, but would underline this first confrontation with a more personal attack.”
Everyone was silent, apparently riveted to Mycroft's words. Even though his eyes were closed, John could practically feel the tension radiating from Sherlock, and wasn't surprised when he heard the quiet scuff of shoes against concrete and felt the slight shift in air currents as the other man moved closer.
But John still didn't open his eyes. Maybe if he kept them closed and concentrated very hard, the whole thing would turn out to be some dream or hallucination or just not real...
“The way you are holding yourself suggests that you are in pain, but trying to hide it,” Mycroft went on. “You are also determinedly keeping your back against the wall, suggesting that whatever injuries you sustained are severe enough that you do not trust your own legs to support you. But you looked frankly alarmed when I mentioned that an ambulance was on its way, so they are injuries you are also endeavouring to hide.”
John couldn't help twitching again at the mention of the ambulance. In spite of the way the world seemed to be sliding away from him, he thought he could hear the sirens in the distance.
“You were not in Moriarty's custody long enough for him to attempt psychological subversion such as brainwashing, so that may be ruled out. The injuries to your wrists indicate both that you were restrained for some time, and that it was in a position awkward enough to prevent you breaking your hands to escape your bonds. And that you wanted to escape is undoubted – judging by how much they've bled, I'd say you would have been quite willing to cut off both your hands to get away.”
There was a soft, broken breath from Sherlock that might have been John's name. But the consulting detective didn't move and he didn't touch him, and John was ridiculously grateful. If Sherlock touched him now, he'd collapse.
Not that collapsing was very far off. John opened his eyes and couldn't see anything but narrow tunnel-vision of the street lamp above his head – everything else was just the random whorls of vague colour he saw when he closed his eyes.
“The lack of visible bruises and the absence of broken bones make purely physical assault unlikely, and you would have alerted my brother to your need for medical attention had the attack been as straightforward as a beating. Sexual assault suggests itself, which is in keeping with my earlier hypothesis about Moriarty. Raping you would have been a deeply personal attack which – in his eyes, at least – would also pollute and degrade something Sherlock values.”
John had a feeling that he should be humiliated, but he wasn't – he didn't feel anything. There was no humiliation, no discomfort, no upset...even his pain was gone. Everything felt very far off; even his own thoughts seemed to be stuffed with cotton wool.
The only reason he was aware he was falling was because his perspective began to tilt. He was vaguely aware of hitting something, of having a much softer landing than he'd expected – someone must have caught him, he supposed – and then the only thing he could see was part of Mycroft's face, most of Sherlock's, and a small patch of black sky.
He didn't know how he managed to speak, only that some stubborn core of him wanted to get the last word.
“Told you I was going to pass out.”
Then everything was gone.
AN: That bit about John being bisexual...that's just sort of my personal head-cannon for him. Anyway, this part was unbeta-d, as usual, so concrit is more than welcome!