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.
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 Homles 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)
Sherlock was feeling almost triumphant – John's first day home had been much more successful than he'd predicted. Mrs. Hudson had welcomed them back, fluttered around them for a while and Sherlock had chased her out when John's smile became too brittle. He'd even managed to make a thin soup that strictly abided by the rules of John's diet, and he'd only burned it a little.
John had intended to watch his usual run of mundane television shows afterwards, but had only managed to get through half of some kind of talk show before he fell asleep on the couch.
Feeling as though this 'taking care of John' business might not be nearly as difficult as it had seemed, Sherlock took a shower and considered exactly what reason he should give for breaking the pink phone. There were few things John became honestly stubborn over, but when he did, he came very close to becoming proof of the theoretical unstoppable force.
John would ask again. He would keep asking until Sherlock gave him an answer.
An answer Sherlock wasn't sure he could give him. He barely knew himself why he'd broken the phone. He'd been sitting in the chair, Moriarty's voice hissing through the speaker...
“...all that screaming and moaning...honestly, I'm inclined to think he liked it...”
A sharp pain cut through his thoughts, and Sherlock realised he'd clenched his fists so tightly his hands were shaking, fingernails cutting into the flesh of his palm. He took a deep breath and forced his muscles to relax, his hands to uncoil.
It was perplexing. Sherlock never became angry over whatever verbal abuse people threw his way; there was simply no point to it. He'd never before felt so furious, so anguished, over mere words – words that were so blatantly untrue it was almost laughable.
John was the empathic one, the one who understood why people did things, the one who drew the line between good and not-good. Sherlock was certain if he recited that disgusting conversation to John, he would understand why Sherlock had broken the phone.
Sherlock was equally certain he would never, as long as he lived, tell John what Moriarty had said.
Which meant he had to come up with a different reason, and it had to be one John would believe. Usually, nothing would be simpler – Sherlock was an accomplished actor and liar when he had to be, but John was unusually difficult to lie to. Withholding information, little, so-called 'white' lies all seemed to pass, but the big ones...Sherlock had no idea how he gave himself away, but John just always seemed to know.
Still thinking it over, Sherlock tugged on one of his dressing-gowns and hurried back to the living room. The urgency he felt wasn't logical, he knew that, but some part of him couldn't help but remember that John hadn't been five feet away from him for the past three days. And that the last time John had been out of his sight, Moriarty had taken him, and...
If the relief that Sherlock felt upon seeing John still curled on the couch was perhaps a little too intense...well, that was hardly a problem, was it?
And that relief didn't last long when Sherlock realised John was making strange, almost strangled noises, as though he were choking.
Sherlock crossed the room in two strides, sucking in a breath when he realised John was still asleep, and that he seemed to be having a nightmare. But it was like no nightmare Sherlock had ever seen. He'd gone to a sleep centre once to observe people plagued with chronic nightmares for a case, and most people, when in the throes of a vivid nightmare, tended to move or vocalise. It wasn't 'thrashing' or 'screaming', as people often described it, but they certainly twisted and cried out.
John was doing none of those things. He was completely still, his muscles cording beneath his skin, as rigid as steel cables. His jaw was clenched, his teeth gritted, and he was making soft, choked sounds as though even asleep he was trying to silence himself.
For a moment, Sherlock didn't know what to do. John seemed to be having a nightmare, but like no nightmare Sherlock had ever seen, so...should he wake him? Was there something else he should do? Was there any specific action to take when your friend was having a nightmare without moving or crying out?
He didn't know...until his mind abruptly made the connection. John was most likely dreaming about Moriarty, so his body would mimic the actions he was taking in the nightmare, the actions he'd taken three days before.
When John had given his statement to Sergeant Donovan, he'd detailed Moriarty's behaviour, Moriarty's reactions, and had never said a word about his own. Now Sherlock knew why. When Moriarty raped him, John had tried to keep himself as still and silent as possible.
The thought made Sherlock's chest ache as though his ribs were constricting inch by inch. But now wasn't the time for self-reflection.
“John!” he called sharply, bending down and lightly jostling John's shoulder (ensuring he was grasping the uninjured one). “John, wake up! John!”
John's eyes snapped open, and the next thing Sherlock knew, he was sprawled on the floor, pain sparking across his cheekbone.
John had punched him.
Sherlock was rather impressed. John had just woken up, had been swinging from a position that made it difficult to put true power into the blow...and he'd still managed to knock Sherlock to the floor. But then again, Sherlock had always known John was stronger than he looked.
“Sherlock?” John's voice was breathless and disbelieving. “What did you...oh, bloody hell...”
Even with sore muscles and abused tissues, John moved remarkably quickly. The final syllable had barely left his lips before he was tugging Sherlock upright, one shaking hand cupping his chin, tilting Sherlock's cheek towards the light.
“That was me wasn't it? Shit, Sherlock, you can't just...I'm sorry, I didn't mean...”
Sherlock reflected while John was perfectly willing to inflict violence on his enemies, he was quite horrified when he inflicted it on his friends, however accidentally.
“At least it doesn't seem to be broken,” John was muttering, still steadying Sherlock's face with shaking fingers. “Is there any pain when you move your jaw?”
“That was quite impressive,” Sherlock remarked. “Is that a technique you learned in the Army or one you developed yourself? I'll admit when you first suggested it, I didn't think you'd actually be capable of breaking Mycroft's jaw, but in light of this new evidence-”
“'New evidence', Sherlock?” John hissed, disbelieving. “Christ, I hit you!”
“That much is obvious. I assume that waking you up from your nightmare and continuing to loom over you wasn't one of my better ideas.”
“Probably not,” John muttered, his hands still trembling.
With an unpleasant jolt, Sherlock realised that the shaking wasn't limited to John's hands – his whole body was quivering as though an earthquake was going on beneath his skin. “John?”
“It's fine!” John whispered urgently, his face pale. “I'm fine, it's fine, it's all fine...”
John shut his eyes and swallowed painfully, taking a deep breath that shuddered in his throat. Sherlock was rapidly becoming truly alarmed. “John, what-?”
John's eyes slammed closed like the lids were barricades against the world. “Sherlock, don't...I can't...”
Another deep breath, as though John were trying to force the adrenaline and fear out of his system by sheer force of will. “I need to stop talking about this. I need you to turn back to the telly, and yell at it like you always do. Please.”
Sherlock couldn't see the point, but the addition of the 'please' – sounding scraped and broken, like a violin bow over dirty strings – had him moving to his chair before he was fully aware of it.
Interesting. For all his demands of John, it seemed that when John asked something of him in that tone, the one that suggested the doctor would break into little pieces if he wasn't obeyed, it was impossible for him to refuse.
So he turned up the volume and eviscerated the stupid murder mystery which was, as usual, very easy to do even if he was only hearing perhaps half of it because he was concentrating on measuring the rate of John's breathing. After three minutes, it stopped shuddering in his throat with every inhalation. After ten minutes, it had slowed and evened to something approaching normal.
But it was two hours before John fell asleep again.
John was startled into consciousness, his muscles coiled as tight as steel springs. He never woke up gently any more. As he'd done every morning since he'd arrived back at Baker Street, he snapped awake with adrenaline humming through his veins, fear and helplessness gnawing at his gut like rats. His arms and legs were already moving, tearing the blankets away, unable to stand even their slight weight on his body, tangling his limbs, restricting his movement...
It was only when every blanket and sheet was crumpled at the foot of the bed that John finally felt himself beginning to calm down. He breathed carefully in and out, his eyes on the ceiling, his muscles trembling with the force of his exertions. He wiped at his eyes automatically, clearing away the dried mucus and salt – he must have cried during the nightmare again, though his eyes were always dry when he woke up.
Time to check his stitches again. That moment of panic he experienced upon waking up wasn't exactly something he could control, but he knew the kind of damage it could do to his injuries. His sore muscles were almost completely healed – they barely even twinged – but his stitches could still be pulled or worse.
Resigned to the routine, John moved to put his back to the mirrored panel on his wardrobe, picking up a hand mirror along the way, angling it in just the right way to reflect the mirror behind him. He used to have to ask Sherlock to check, which had been an exercise in humiliation and discomfort – bad enough that he hadn't been able to hide it from him, but to make him see it every time he had a bad dream? – until Sherlock had produced the hand mirror from...somewhere. John had no idea where it had come from and what Sherlock had used it for before he gave it John, and he was in no hurry to find out.
John gave his back the perfunctory once-over, working from the bottom up, ready to discard the mirror and go downstairs, perhaps see about some breakfast...
Except there was a sprinkling of blood across his left shoulder blade. It was from one of the blows he'd taken from Moriarty's belt; at least two inches of stitches had torn, and the edge of the wound gaped like a toothless mouth.
He'd have to go back to the hospital. Or at least someone who could re-stitch it. Either he'd have to find the doctor that had originally done it and suffer the pity that practically fogged the room, or he'd have to find another and submit to the endless questions about how the injury was inflicted, what he'd been doing to take care of it, if there were any other problems...
He felt absolutely furious. It wasn't enough that he'd been raped, he had to be reminded of it every second of every day by his injuries? He had to sit through politely invasive questions and sickening pity, and he'd have scars that would always, always remind him of what had happened to him. It hadn't been enough for Moriarty to simply strap him to the bomb, no, he'd had to take it that extra step, didn't he?
Yet for all the fury and disgust at the doctors, at Moriarty, at the world, none of it could compare to the loathing John felt for himself. Because really, it was his own carelessness that had got him here. He should have been watching that night – he'd known Moriarty was still out there, hadn't he? But no, he'd been an idiot and got himself caught and he hadn't been able to stop Moriarty and surely he could have if he'd been smarter or stronger or just better...
The despairing shriek that left his mouth surprised even him, and he only realised he'd hurled the mirror to the floor when he heard the glass crack in two.
He felt nothing as he fought to erase the vision of his torn, ugly back, the mark of his helplessness, his weakness, and it was only when a drop of his own blood hit his face that he noticed he was smashing the mirror into the floor with his fists. There was no piece of glass bigger than his thumbnail, and his hands looked like he'd stuck them in a paper shredder.
For a moment, just a moment, John honestly wanted to curl into a ball and cry. Maybe if he just lay there and didn't do anything, he'd bleed to death and at this point he thought he'd honestly welcome it.
But no. If he died here that would leave Sherlock to find his body, and John wouldn't do that to him. So he made himself swallow down the emotion that clogged his throat, and left to find some bandages to fix his hands and a broom to sweep up the glass.
Sherlock heard John scream, heard something crack, but he didn't move – John wouldn't want an audience. He'd hated having to consult Sherlock about the stitches every time he moved too quickly or too violently; Sherlock had bought the hand mirror specifically to allow John some privacy, and it had been a long walk to the all-night convenience store. It would have been easier to buy it during the day, but he hadn't wanted to leave John until he was (somewhat) peacefully asleep.
Still, something coiled uncomfortably in his chest, something a little too similar to anxiety, scraping at the edges of his ribs and urging him towards John's bedroom, just to see him, just to make sure he was all right...
Sherlock lasted two minutes before he found himself outside John's bedroom door. But it opened before he could call or knock or just barge in, revealing John with hollow eyes and bloodied hands.
Sherlock was aware of John suddenly tensing with surprise, spine snapping straight (a relic of his army training), but his eyes were fixed on the doctor's bleeding hands. There were covered in a myriad of tiny cuts – none particularly deep or wide, only remarkable in their sheer number.
In that moment, all Sherlock could think of was that he'd been right. He'd been right when he told John to stay with Sarah instead – what had made him think he could possibly be of any help? John was having nightmares almost every time he fell asleep, certain noises and smells made his eyes begin to dart like a hunted animal's, and now Sherlock had given John what he thought he wanted, privacy, and found him with bleeding hands.
Sherlock's eyes jerked upwards automatically. John was looking faintly worried, which made him wonder what expression the doctor had just seen on his face.
“I'm okay,” John said quietly, his voice not quite as steady as it should have been. “It looks worse than it is.”
Sherlock glanced past him, taking in the glass shards scattered across the carpet of the bedroom. Coupled with the fine cuts and the crash he'd heard...
“I take it the mirror had it coming?”
John flushed. “I guess you heard that.”
“I heard.” And he should have come running.
John cocked his head to the side, his expression so eerily insightful the back of Sherlock's neck prickled. People often accused him of being a mind-reader, which was ridiculous; he just observed, there was no telepathy involved. John was the closest he'd ever seen a human being come to mind reading – at times even Sherlock was honestly baffled at how John seemed to be able to understand him.
“It's probably best you didn't come in,” John said gently, once again blind-siding Sherlock with his intuition. John's mouth then twisted savagely, and he made a sound that was probably meant to be a laugh, but sounded more like the screech of rusty hinges. “If you'd come in I might've punched you again.”
There was a measure of self-hatred in John's voice that settled in Sherlock's stomach like ill-digested food. But he thought he could see why John was so disconcerted. It wasn't the violence itself – John wouldn't have lasted a week in Afghanistan if he'd had a problem with violence – it was the fact that he was usually in control it, and now he wasn't. Now, violence was his first impulse whenever he felt threatened or helpless. It was the most primitive human instinct, fight or flight, and John wasn't the type to choose flight. Moriarty had tied him down (and he was going to regret that, oh yes he was), had denied those instincts their expression...and now they were resurfacing with a vengeance.
“Anyway, I should probably get my hands fixed up,” John announced, his voice still sounding brittle and thin.
“I can help with that,” Sherlock volunteered, even though first aid had never been one of his strong points.
John's expression barely flickered, but then that was common nowadays. Under normal circumstances, John was one of the most honest people Sherlock had ever met; not that he didn't try to lie on occasion, because he did, but that his very nature was so earnest his feelings were usually written clearly on his face. But now, John was learning to set his face like plaster, to still his expression when he wanted to, such as when he was experiencing anger or fear or disgust, which meant he stilled it often.
And each time he did, there was a quick, sharp pain in Sherlock's throat.
But now wasn't the time to dwell on that. “I may not be a particularly skilled nurse, but I am sure you are capable of directing me.”
An echo of amusement dashed through John's eyes. “Yeah, but you following orders? I'll believe it when I see it.”
Sherlock would have come up with a suitably acerbic retort, but there was no retort to make.
“Oh, do shut up,” he said indignantly, already halfway down the stairs.
John didn't laugh, but the amused, almost humming noise he made sent a satisfied glow through Sherlock's skin.
“And you're sure you need a doctor?”
“Yes, I'm sure, Sherlock,” John said wearily. “I don't have the materials to stitch myself up, now are you coming or not?”
Sherlock gave him a measured glance, and for a moment John thought he was going to refuse, to declare a doctor's surgery 'boring' and collapse onto the couch while John went alone. But then he simply nodded, grabbing hold of his scarf on the way out.
John was somehow simultaneously relieved and furious. Relieved because he hadn't relished the thought of going to the doctor's alone, and while Sherlock was far from a sympathetic companion his rude deductions and sarcastic mutterings had become almost comforting in their familiarity. John wasn't going to examine why, largely because he was certain he'd end up questioning his mental health.
He was furious because he was trying so hard to act normal, and he was reminded of how not normal the situation was every time Sherlock acquiesced to his requests without even a murmur of protest. Before...Moriarty...John couldn't even begin to imagine the absolute hell he would have had to go through before Sherlock agreed to accompany him to the doctor's. But now he was doing it with only the slightest of promptings on John's part, like John was some kind of fragile little flower and actually having an argument would upset his delicate sensibilities.
He knew it was a stupid thing to be angry over, which was why he didn't say a word about it. Besides, however furious he was at Sherlock, it didn't come close to how angry he was at himself.
He'd come back home expecting it to feel normal, for him to be happy there, for him to be 'fixed'. But it hadn't done that.
It hadn't fixed a thing.
AN: Thanks so much to my beta, ginbitch!