Rating: Probably an R
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use, more's the pity.
Warnings: Violence, sex, some torture in this chapter
Summary: Written for a kinkmeme prompt: Moriarty frames John and "Anthea" of betrayals which cause both of the Holmes brothers to cut them off. Cue BAMF!John and BAMF!"Anthea" doing their best to clear their names. Both het and slash; Mycroft/Anthea and John/Sherlock.
(Title page by mabivia)
John knew antagonising your captors was never a good idea, but he couldn't couldn't resist a wry smile at the trouble he and Anthea had caused.
They seemed to be speaking a mix of languages, but he'd heard the word 'Moran' mentioned repeatedly, and he thought that might be the name of the man Anthea had killed. Or they could be referring to something in another language – it wasn't as though he'd know the difference. He'd definitely recognised the word 'Moriarty', though.
As soon as they'd emerged from the fire exit, John had known he was going to Moriarty. But he'd made it as difficult for them as possible, just on principle, with the result that the group as a collective had suffered a fractured wrist, a broken nose, and three black eyes. But eventually, they'd managed to hustle him outside into the little nook where the hotel dumped their rubbish, and he'd been shoved into an ambulance and strapped to a gurney.
John grudgingly supposed it was rather clever to use an ambulance – they'd picked the one vehicle that no one would stop or interfere with. Hospitals were supposed to register ambulance departures and arrivals, but it wasn't unknown for some to slip through the cracks in large emergencies, which also made it virtually untraceable.
Not to mention, there were plenty of supplies on hand to ensure John didn't die en route – his leg had been securely bandaged and taped with gauze.
John was thankful Anthea had told him to swallow the capsule rather than shove it into the wound. These people might not be the best paramedics around, but if they'd felt any foreign bodies under his skin they'd probably at least have a look.
Even though he'd been expecting to be drugged up, John couldn't help but stiffen when he spotted one of his captors preparing an IV. Not that there was anything he could have done to stop them; thick leather straps pressed his wrists and ankles down, and larger ones ran across his chest and waist.
He just hoped that whatever they gave him wouldn't make him vomit – he was terrified of bringing up Anthea's tracker.
There was a familiar prick in the back of his hand and the feel of tape being pressed to the skin to hold the needle in place. John swallowed dryly, trying not to show the terror that was creeping through his brain. This was it – he'd be drugged for transportation to Moriarty, and then...
Well, John was doing his level best not to think about what came next.
Anthea made it to a train station bathroom, where she calibrated her Blackberry to track the device John had swallowed and changed her disguise with all the efficiency she could muster.
'There is nothing to worry about,' she kept telling herself. 'Absolutely nothing. I'll find John and get him back within the day – everything will be fine.'
But she'd have to wait until a rental car service opened. Public transport was far too restrictive to be of use now – if this was truly Moriarty who'd taken John, he'd take him somewhere isolated, somewhere they weren't going to be interrupted.
At least, assuming he really did want John alive...
Anthea shook the thought away and dialled the number for John's phone. She was still reluctant to trust their 'benefactor', but with John captured, she'd take what help she could get.
Considering how early in the morning it was, she was surprised when the phone was picked up on only the third ring.
“John's been taken,” she said immediately, forgoing any kind of greeting. “Assuming that it really is Moriarty behind it all, I think he's finally got what he wanted, given that no one even attempted to follow me from the hotel.”
It was rather insulting, as though they thought she couldn't possibly be of interest now. It was also rather terrifying – if John had been the target all along, what did Moriarty want with him?
“Before he was captured, John swallowed a GPS locating device that I'm now tracking. Moriarty seems to want him alive, so I'll attempt to free him as soon as I can. I don't require anything yet, but I thought you should be aware of the situation.”
“I see.” There was a subtle tension in the woman's voice that hadn't been there before. “If you find you have to break him out, I have several contacts that could be of assistance.”
“I'll call when I have his location,” Anthea said, and hung up on the spot.
She spent the rest of the early morning wandering the streets and staring at her Blackberry, tracing John's progression through the country. There was some doubling-back, as though they were taking precautions against being tailed, which led Anthea to hope they hadn't detected the tracking device, if they were assuming they were being followed.
Of course, they could have found it, removed it, and were laying a false trail while they took John somewhere else, but Anthea was doing her best not to think about that possibility.
She managed to rent a car just as John passed the city of Jena, and Anthea immediately set out to follow him, all the time telling herself that there was nothing to worry about.
She was going to get John back, or die trying.
As soon as the dial tone reached Avra's ears, she sprang into action. Usually she would have given her boys time to work off the worst of their sulk before she pointed out their errors to them, but John and Jane needed help now.
So she called both her sons and announced they were going on a family vacation to the house in Switzerland – the plan would actually land in Berlin, and Avra planned to collect Jane before they went after John. They'd protested about work (Mycroft) and whined that they didn't want to go (Sherlock), but being their mother came with a not-inconsiderable amount of leverage, and soon enough they were both at the airport, waiting for Avra's aeroplane to be fuelled and prepared for take-off.
“I always enjoy these family gatherings, Mummy,” Mycroft drawled, grief making his voice sharp. “But is there a particular reason you called us here so early?”
“Sometimes an early start is needed,” Avra replied, checking her pocket watch for the fifth time. If that plane was even five minutes late...
She was acutely aware that they didn't have much time. Unless John's captors planned to transport him back to England, it was likely he was soon to be delivered to whoever had orchestrated this (Moriarty most likely, but that wasn't exactly certain).
“I'm surprised Jane isn't coming along,” Sherlock said nastily, putting particular emphasis on her name. “Given that you usually behave as though attached to her by an umbilical cord.”
Mycroft's flinch was almost imperceptible. “One might say the same about you and your doctor.”
Sherlock's face contorted into a truly ugly scowl. “Don't play that game with me, Mycroft – you know what happened!”
Avra narrowed her eyes, silently admonishing her youngest son, and trying to ensure he didn't see the confused look that had drifted through Mycroft's eyes. She wanted to wait until they were in the plane before she explained what had happened; that way, neither of them could run out before she was finished.
As soon as the plane arrived, she hustled them onto it. Avra had given up many of more ostentatious signs of her power, but she'd always held onto her plane – it was just too useful not to.
She waited until they were settled in the spacious armchairs and the plane was taxiing down the runway to speak her mind. “Now boys, you know that I love you both, but sometimes...” Avra shook her head. “Sometimes, you're very stupid.”
They bristled at that, as she'd known they would, and she opened her bag to pull out the files she'd been carrying and spread them across the table.
“I'm going to explain some things to you,” she went on, ensuring her evidence was at hand to be demonstrated at appropriate points in her narrative. “And both of you are going to sit there and listen.”
By the time Moriarty's people crossed the border into Switzerland, Anthea knew she was over-anxious, sleep-deprived, and probably a danger to everyone on the road but she didn't dare pull over for a nap and let them get too far ahead.
She'd rung their benefactor to inform the woman she was now in Switzerland, but that was the only time she'd pulled over (and then because she couldn't risk being stopped by police).
She couldn't stop. She wouldn't stop.
She'd get John back.
Sherlock listened to Mycroft and Mummy discussing train schedules to Switzerland only dimly, feeling strangely numb.
And horrified. Very horrified.
In the aeroplane, Mummy had spread out the evidence Lestrade had collected against John and slowly, calmly deconstructed it until Sherlock realised what should have been obvious to him from the first.
John had been framed.
Oh, the evidence was enough to convince the police, but there were a hundred little discrepancies, a hundred little ways it couldn't have been John, things that would have been invisible to anyone else but things that Sherlock, of all people, should have seen. But he hadn't, because he'd been so convinced that this explained why John was...with him. Why he tolerated things that would have sent other people screaming, why he agreed to their sexual relationship and let Sherlock take over even more of his life...
But he'd been wrong. He'd been wrong, and had abandoned John to stand alone against both the police and Moriarty.
Well, not precisely alone – Jane had been with him. At least Sherlock wasn't the only one to be fooled, though that was scant comfort now.
Because Jane wasn't with John any more. John was in Moriarty's hands – again – and Sherlock was doing his best not to think about the myriad of ways John could be irreparably harmed before they found him.
Sherlock wasn't familiar with guilt, but the burning in his chest and the desperate, irrational desire to somehow undo everything he'd done in the past week matched its description.
In the shadow of the Alps, Anthea finally pulled over.
The small tracking device monitoring John's progress had stopped moving, close to a tourist spot known as Reichenbach Falls. Anthea had used her Blackberry to scout for any mysterious bunkers or holiday homes – anything that might serve as a front for a place that could hold someone like John.
She'd found several likely locations, but more importantly, when she'd used the purloined laptop to try to trace the IP address again, she found the mysterious computer online. Working as quickly as she could, Anthea broke through the many layers of security that protected it and began to explore the database. She managed to find out which holiday house seemed to be serving as Moriarty's prison of choice (at least, she hoped it was a prison – there was no reason to think John was dead but she didn't know), and disabled some of the computerised security into the bargain. She'd have preferred to obtain blueprints and perhaps guard schedules, but Anthea supposed you couldn't have everything.
Despite the now-lax security and alarm system, Anthea knew she couldn't storm the house by herself. She called their benefactor and gave her the coordinates, and was told it would be at least three hours before the operatives could muster and reach her.
Three hours. Anything could happened to John in three hours.
Anthea was tempted to risk breaching the lowered security alone, but knew that was just her anxiety talking. If she was detected, John would be taken elsewhere, possibly somewhere she couldn't find him – the tracker wouldn't stay inside him forever.
She left the laptop in the car and walked along one of the trails – she needed to do something with this nervous energy before it became too much and she decided to storm the castle all by herself just because she couldn't take waiting anymore.
Anthea spent perhaps half an hour walking, eyeing the house when she could see it through the trees, and attempting to force her brain to think about likely lines of attack instead of what Moriarty was doing to John.
In the end, she blamed her anxiety and sleep-deprivation for the way they managed to sneak up on her.
When John woke, he felt so sluggish and exhausted he was tempted to fall right back into unconsciousness. But it was bad enough to be at the mercy of a psychopath without being insensible into the bargain, so he forced his eyes to stay open and tried to kickstart his brain into making some sense of his surroundings.
He was expecting steel and concrete, but the room he was in looked like some kind of posh rehabilitation centre. The plaster walls were painted in a soothing, tasteful shade of light green, and the door was dark, beautifully polished wood, though there seemed to be no handle.
Somehow, the innocuousness of the whole scene just made it even more frightening. John had been expecting a dungeon, not this cheerful little room. It was almost as though Moriarty was making a statement, saying that he didn't need chains or bars to keep John prisoner.
His legs didn't hurt anymore, but judging by how fuzzy his mind was, John suspected that was more to do with drugs than any miraculous recovery. He took a glance down and, sure enough, he was still hooked up to an IV, along with a variety of machines to monitor his condition. He was lying on a basic hospital bed, but the sheets felt as smooth as those fancy shirts Sherlock wore, and were probably equally as expensive.
The restraints were still present, though – leather padded with lambswool, across his wrists, ankles, knees, waist and chest.
The heart monitor's rhythm began to climb as John's anxiety spiked, and he forced himself to take deep, even breaths until it settled somewhat, hoping the noise hadn't alerted anyone to his return to consciousness.
Of course, with the way John's luck had been running lately, that was when Moriarty walked in.
John tensed, hating the way the ECG was squealing his dread to the whole room. Bad enough that Moriarty was perfectly capable of seeing through whatever facade of courage John constructed, but couldn't he have at least had the illusion that Moriarty believed him?
The pain was returning, but it wasn't as bad as before – judging by the way the skin felt strangely tight, his knife wound had been stitched up while he was out. And however many hours of unconsciousness he'd gone through in drugged lassitude would have been good for his torn muscles.
Whereas before he'd been in no condition to make a run for it, it was comforting to know that he could at least make an effort now.
“Hello, Johnny-boy,” Moriarty beamed. “Feeling better?”
John wasn't going to think about why Moriarty had bothered patching him up – whatever the answer was, he knew he wouldn't like it. Still, there was some part of him that was...well, not pleased, but more like grimly satisfied that it had indeed been Moriarty sending those people after them.
“Can't talk, Johnny-boy? Want a glass of water?”
John did, but he wasn't about to admit to that.
“Isn't this the part where you gloat?” he asked wearily.
Moriarty grinned again. “Oh, I'm sure I can wait until our party is complete to give the secret away.”
John tried not to let his expression flicker in the slightest, but the increased beeping from the heart monitor was broadcasting his distress like a siren. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come now, Johnny-boy, did you really think we wouldn't find it?”
“It?” John echoed, trying to focus on his irritation at the constant repetition of that stupid nickname, instead of the sinking feeling in his gut.
“The GPS tracker that is now making its way through your small intestine, of course.” Moriarty's smile reminded John of a shark – fixed and absent of true enjoyment, just there. “Your friend should be joining us in...oh, ten minutes?”
The ECG blared as John's heart nose-dived for his toes.
Anthea was tough, he knew – he told himself that Moriarty was only bluffing, that Anthea would be able to slip any net he cast. But she was also injured, and she sure as hell hadn't been expecting them to find the tracker.
Distantly, John wondered what kind of scan his body had been put through to pull that up. Not an X-ray...maybe something along the lines of a metal detector?
“I just have one little question for you.” The grin suddenly vanished as Moriarty's face twisted in real, honest hate. “Who killed Moran?”
John assumed 'Moran' referred to the man whose head Anthea had bashed in, and felt a kind of savage pride on her behalf that she'd managed to do something that actually upset Moriarty. In the next instant, John realised how dangerous that was for her, and replied in the only way he could.
Moriarty's eyes narrowed, and John stared back impassively. It was easy to put the defiance in his face, the satisfaction along with the dread that he'd removed one of the criminal's key players. If he could just get Moriarty to believe him...
Except he didn't, because he suddenly burst into laughter. “Oh, very good Johnny-boy – you almost had me convinced! But don't quit your day job.”
Something in John broke with a near-audible snap. He might be the prisoner of a madman, but damned if he was just going to sit here and play the nice house guest while Moriarty taunted him.
“Go to hell and chew broken glass along the way, you psychotic little fuck!”
Moriarty smiled again, as though the whole situation was irresistibly amusing. John was gearing up for another flurried insult (he was in trouble either way, so he might as well get in some verbal abuse while he could) when there was movement in the open doorway and Anthea was dragged into the room.
Something in John's chest constricted with what felt very close to despair.
She was being held between two of the thugs Moriarty seemed to have in endless supply, one lackey to each arm. And they weren't being careful of her injury, if the tight grimace on her face and the smear of blood on her sleeve were anything to go by.
Anthea certainly hadn't come quietly, judging by the dirt-streaked clothes and bruises that were liberally distributed between her and the people who held her. John looked her up and down, trying to determine if there were any serious injuries beside her burst stitches, and the look she sent him in return told him she was fine. At least, as fine as someone could be when they were in Moriarty's hands.
“You're early!” Moriarty chirped. “I would have thought she'd give you a bit more trouble than that. Late night, dear?”
“We found these on her,” one of the minions told Moriarty, handing over Anthea's pistol, the taser, and her Blackberry.
As John had half-expected, Moriarty completely dismissed the weapons in favour of examining the Blackberry.
“This is a handy little gadget, isn't it?” he mused as he slipped it into a pocket of his jacket. “I'm going to hold onto it.”
Moriarty clapped his hands, like a CEO bringing a meeting to order. “Now, down to business – I'm sure we all know why we're here?”
“Enlighten us,” Anthea snapped.
Before meeting Moriarty, John never thought real criminals actually explained their motives and operations to their opponents. But Sherlock had been right about genius needing an audience; Moriarty needed people to know what he'd done, needed people to acknowledge him even if it was only with hatred.
“Johnny-boy here is what this was really all about,” Moriarty said, his eyes glittering as he stared at Anthea. “You were just collateral, something to keep Big Brother's large nose out of the affair.”
“So you've kidnapped us, bravo,” John sneered, trying to get Moriarty's attention back on him. “Why go to the bother of framing us, though?”
“Oh, don't you see?” Moriarty trilled. “No, of course you don't – guess you really are as thick as you seem, Johnny-boy. But this way, no one is going to come looking for you.”
The niggling feeling of despair sitting on John's chest suddenly became a whole lot heavier as he acknowledged that Moriarty was right. People were looking for Anthea and himself as fugitives, not as kidnap victims – if they failed to turn up, people would simply assume they'd gone to ground somehow.
Moriarty hadn't stopped talking. “It's nothing personal of course, Johnny-boy, but you did make yourself the heart of a previously uncaring brain, and there are consequences for that sort of thing. By the time I'm finished with you, you'll only be fit for a mental institution – and I have months, years, however long it takes. And when I'm done...”
Moriarty grinned, looking more self-satisfied than John had ever seen him. “I'll drop you on dear little Sherlock's doorstep, along with every scrap of evidence that proves you were framed. Should do a nice job of burning the heart out of him, don't you think?”
John dimly thought that his heart monitor sounded like one of those old fire alarms, the ones with the beeps so high-pitched and close together they sounded more like one continuous noise.
He was going to be tortured into insanity. That was what Moriarty was promising.
With anyone else, John would have thought it an empty threat. But not from Moriarty – the set expression on his face and the excited look in his eyes told John that here was a man capable of delivering on what he'd promised.
“And as for you...” Moriarty rounded on Anthea, face twisting. “Do you regret killing Sebastian?”
Anthea's lip curled. “No.”
Moriarty smiled. “You will.”
It was obvious what he intended – he was going to torture them both. John thought fast; his torture had been planned from the start and was pretty much a given, but was there some way he could protect Anthea? At least long enough for her to escape?
Strangely, John didn't doubt that she would escape, eventually. She was a technological genius and could do things with computers and security he didn't even know were possible. The only question was when she'd get away, not if.
And if he could buy her enough time...
“Leave her alone,” he said, trying to keep his voice as calm and collected as he could.
Moriarty raised an inquisitive eyebrow. “Are you actually trying to tell me what to do while you're flat on your back and restrained? Really, Johnny-boy, there's bravado and then there's outright stupidity.”
Anthea, on the other hand, was staring directly at him and shaking her head ever-so slightly. Almost as though she knew exactly what John was planning and was trying to tell him to shut up.
“After all,” Moriarty went on. “I have both of you, there's no cavalry on the way – there's nothing you can bargain with, Johnny-boy.”
“Isn't there?” It was John's turn to smirk even as his gut chilled with fear. “If you leave her alone...”
A deep breath. And then, injured and drugged, strapped to a hospital bed, John played the only card he had.
“If no one hurts her, I'll do what you say, when you say, how you say. I'll submit to whatever you have planned for me.”
Mycroft had never been nervous enough to fidget before. He decided he didn't like it.
“We'll rendezvous at the coordinates I've given you,” Mummy was saying into her phone, the one that tapped into communication satellites and technically did not exist. “Remember, there are to be no direct assaults on the building – there is at least one hostage inside, and I cannot overestimate his importance.”
The express train flew along at hundreds of kilometres an hour, yet judging by the agitation on Sherlock's bloodless face, it wasn't nearly fast enough for Mycroft's brother.
He could sympathise – he at least had the assurance that though Jane was injured and undoubtedly harried from these past days of unwarranted persecution, she wasn't at the mercy of a psychopath.
Mycroft wished he could find that comforting. But it wasn't. There was nothing to mitigate the horror of how blind, how stupid he'd been.
He'd complicity accepted that Jane betrayed him, because it had suddenly made sense of the one aspect of his life that he'd never truly understood. If Jane had seduced him with the intent to betray him, then that...that was logical, that followed the rules of the world that Mycroft understood.
But if Jane had loved him? Then that was...
Well, Mycroft suspected it didn't matter now – she'd certainly want nothing to do with him after this, and he deserved no less.
There were many other things Mycroft thought he deserved, but he wouldn't allow himself the release of self-flagellation. He just let himself feel the guilt and regret churning inside him like bile.
He wondered if he'd feel it for the rest of his life. It seemed likely.
Anthea went limp and compliant as soon as she saw the syringe. She'd be taken either way, she knew, and it was better to go conscious and aware of her surroundings than drugged and helpless.
The fact that they didn't blindfold her was unsettling on more than one level. Either they didn't think the security could ever be breached in an escape...or they knew she was going to die.
Something told Anthea it was the latter, which sent icy tendrils of fear skittering along her ribs. But not on her own behalf – if they were planning to kill her, what had happened to John?
The house looked normal, but Anthea's trained eyes spotted the security cameras, the pressure sensors that would trigger an alarm, and the electronic keypads that locked and opened the doors rather than any kind of knob.
Anthea pretended to be docile and looking elsewhere whenever they came to a door, even as she noted the code that was being fed into it. They made only token attempts to hide it from her sight, which she was both glad of and unnerved by.
The final door was already open for them, its hinges on the outside and, from what she could see, no keypad on the inside – when it was shut, it would only open from the outside.
But Anthea was more concerned with what was inside the room – John, strapped to a bed, with Jim Moriarty (whose appearance she knew from security camera footage taken from St Bart's Hospital). She was hustled into the room and relieved of her Blackberry as Moriarty revealed that their frame-up had just been another step in his obsessive war with Sherlock. Anthea was still seething over the fact that she'd been called 'collateral' when John's face adopted a set, focused expression she'd only seen once – when he'd told her to run and leave him behind.
She'd tried to stop him, of course, but he either didn't understand or (more likely) wasn't listening.
“I'll do what you say, when you say, how you say. I'll submit to whatever you have planned for me.”
Moriarty scoffed, but Anthea could see a sickening light of interest in his eyes. “You won't be able to keep it up – you'll break eventually.”
“I have no doubt,” John said, voice as eerily calm as it had been in that hallway. “But you'll have my cooperation for as long as I'm capable of giving it.”
Moriarty looked at her, and for an instant Anthea glimpsed the naked longing on his face – he wanted to bruise her, bleed her, tear her apart.
John continued, his voice now low and persuasive, almost seductive. “Moran's already dead, and hurting her won't bring him back. Isn't it better to continue with the plan he died for?”
Moriarty smiled slowly, and Anthea tensed. He wasn't going to go through with it – she could see it written all over his face. Even if he agreed here and now, he'd never honour the bargain, couldn't John see that?
“I must admit,” Moriarty drawled. “I'm intrigued at the difference a willing victim will make. Will you find it easier to bear because it was your choice, or will it be worse because you can't fight me?”
“Well, you'll find out, won't you?” John quipped, face expressionless even as the ECG told the whole room just how frightened he was.
Only years of discipline prevented Anthea from screaming at him. Only the knowledge that their benefactor's 'assistance' was on its way kept her from descending into panic.
Moriarty smiled and gestured, and one of his lackeys left the room while the other walked over to the bed and began to release John from the straps and medical equipment.
“You're an idiot, John!” Anthea hissed, unable to hold it in.
Slowly sitting up on the mattress and testing the mobility of his limbs, John smiled wearily. “Been told that before.”
She bit her tongue against the tirade that was bubbling up in her throat, and instead turned to the man she was fantasising about killing. “Where are you going to put me, then?”
“Oh, I think you can stay here,” Moriarty mused, and Anthea could tell she'd already lost his interest – he was drinking in the way John winced as the doctor's stiff and painful legs protested the mobilising. “Johnny-boy and I are the ones who are moving – I've got a room below that's much more suited for what I've got in mind.”
John's eyelids flickered, but that was the only reaction he displayed. With the ECG unhooked, there was nothing else that said he'd even heard Moriarty.
“Up you go!” Moriarty chided him. “Let's move it!”
John didn't budge from where he was sitting on the bed. “Can I say goodbye?”
Moriarty rolled his eyes. “Oh, very well, have your dramatic parting if you must.”
John opened his arms, and Anthea practically tumbled into them. His face was pressed against her collarbone, and she bent her head to tell him not to give up, that their mysterious benefactor was on her way with reinforcements, when she became aware that he was speaking. The movement of his lips were hidden against her skin, and it was barely audible over their breathing.
“How long do you need?”
At once, Anthea understood. John knew Moriarty wouldn't honour their deal; he hadn't made it in the hopes of sparing her entirely, but of sparing her long enough to allow her to escape. She remembered the thickness of the walls and door, the complexity of the electronic lock...
She twisted her face so that her lips pressed close to his ear, and pretended to be stifling back a sob as she breathed, “Two hours.”
“Don't come back for me,” John murmured against her skin. “You hear? Don't come back for me!”
“That's enough!” Moriarty snapped, yanking cruelly on her injured arm to drag her away.
Anthea stumbled, yelping as pain jangled across her nerves, and for one horrible moment she was certain he'd realised they were communicating. But then she saw the anticipation on his face, and realised he was simply eager to begin his torture of John.
“Watch it!” John snarled. “If she's hurt, my cooperation is forfeit, remember?”
Anthea swallowed. She hadn't had a chance to tell the doctor about the people coming for them, and she didn't dare give some sort of signal now, for fear of Moriarty seeing and understanding it.
Moriarty smirked and dropped her arm, holding out his hand to take a package from the minion who had just returned.
“I remember, Johnny-boy, but I think I'll need a test of your willingness,” he smirked, pulling two shoes out of the bag and handing them over. “Put these on.”
At first, Anthea was confused. John was dressed in those thin plastic-paper shirts and trousers used in hospitals when the nurses were about to do something very filthy and wanted disposable clothes – in the current situation, it was an outfit that spoke of vulnerability, and Anthea thought that cause would have better served by keeping John barefoot.
Then she got a good look at the shoes. They were leather dress shoes with open laces, and the inside...
The inside sole had razorblades embedded into it.
They were tilted at a sharp angle, almost but not quite horizontal to the sole. John could probably put the shoes on without pain, but standing up and walking on them would cut up his feet. Shallowly, yes (Moriarty probably didn't want risk permanent damage at this early stage), but Anthea had no doubt it would be agonising.
“John...” she said, hating the slight tremble in her voice as it petered out.
John offered her a pained smile and then – with only a hard swallow to show his dread – put his feet into the shoes without hesitation.
“Now stand up, and come with me,” Moriarty ordered, practically trembling with excitement.
A deep inhale to steady himself, and then John stood.
His lips going white at the edges and the barest of grimaces flickering across his face were the only signs of the pain he must be in. His shoulders were back in a tight, tense line, but he didn't wince or limp as he crossed the room, even as Anthea grimaced at the thought of what the razors must be doing to the tender soles of his feet.
Moriarty gestured the doctor in front of him, but John hesitated in the doorway.
“It'll be all right,” he said, his voice shockingly calm. “Don't worry...Rosy.”
Anthea bit her tongue against the urge to go to him, to promise him that help was coming, that he wouldn't have to endure this for long.
Moriarty snickered. “Oh no, Johnny-boy – this will be as far from 'all right' as it gets.”
He shoved John roughly out of the room, his minions trailing him.
The door closed behind them, and Anthea heard the click of the electronic lock engaging.
AN: And once again, thanks so much to my lovely beta, ginbitch, who sent this back to me so quickly!