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)
John was bored.
He hadn't gone back to work since he'd returned from the hospital, largely because he wasn't sure what he'd do if a dark-haired man in a suit walked in the door. He'd like to think he could be professional, that he wouldn't slip into a flashback and bolt from the office or attack someone, but he couldn't be sure, and there was no way John was going to put his patients at risk.
But just because John's life had ground to a halt for the foreseeable future didn't mean Sherlock's had – Lestrade had called him in for another case earlier that morning. John was both grateful to the inspector and yet more annoyed at him than he'd like to admit.
Grateful because it didn't take long for Sherlock to go stir-crazy, and he'd already begun eyeing his array of experiments speculatively, as though he was planning something both large and disastrous. And he was annoyed because without Sherlock, without any sort of company, the flat was distressingly empty.
There was no way he could have gone along, either – John was healing, but still far from hale enough to go running about London. This meant he was stuck alone in the flat with only his thoughts for company. And at the moment, there was nothing John wanted less than to just sit at home and think, because all his thoughts and mental wanderings inevitably led to one place.
John sighed, and honestly considering bashing his head against the wall until the last week or so was simply erased from memory. He was exhausted, frustrated and fed up at how everything he saw and everything he did seemed to remind him of the rape in some way.
If he were Sherlock, this would be the point at which he resorted to indoor target practice. He found he was seriously considering it, if only because the deafening cracks of gunshots would clear his head for a little while. The worst it could do was make him remember Afghanistan, and at this point, that would actually be an improvement.
But John was a sensible person, and sensible people didn't shoot at walls just because they couldn't find anything better to do. Besides, there was a more reliable way of making his mind just stop for an hour or so.
After all, alcohol was a depressant, and often produced a sedative effect.
He knew it was a bad idea. Even as he strode into the kitchen and retrieved one of the bottles of beer there, he knew it was dangerous – self-medicating with alcohol was a slippery slope to tread.
But he was just going to have one beer, just this once. Just to make his brain shut up...
Donovan let Sherlock into the crime scene without a word. Mostly because her first thought, upon seeing him, was again 'poor bastard' as opposed to 'freak', but also partly because there was an expression on Sherlock's face that said, quite clearly, 'I can't get my hands on the person I actually want to eviscerate, so anyone that attracts my attention will stand in for him'.
As far as Sally was concerned, someone else could step in front of that bullet. She almost winced on the Inspector's behalf when Lestrade ended up getting the brunt of it, but there was an expression of resignation on his face, as though he'd been expecting this as much as she had.
The investigation into the rape had come to nothing – the DNA matched no one in their databases, and they'd found the mobile home John had been held in burnt to an empty, black husk at the side of the motorway. That and everything they could get on a 'Jim Masters' that had worked in St. Bart's IT department had been the sum total of their evidence.
They hadn't found him. But Donovan didn't think anyone was surprised by that.
Of course, just because that was what Sherlock was expecting them to find wouldn't stop him from ripping their guts out over it. Sally saw Sherlock cast his eyes about the scene as though looking for someone else to verbally disembowel, and mentally recalculating the blast radius, stepped out of his line of sight.
She supposed that she could get him to shut up if she really tried, or at least get him kicked off the crime scene. But some part of her just didn't want to. Sally could only imagine the absolute hell he was going through, and if yelling about the stupidity of Scotland Yard made him feel better, she wouldn't begrudge him that – it wasn't like they hadn't heard it all before, anyway, though usually not at that volume.
One hour and four beers later, John was feeling nicely foggy. His thoughts were just distant enough that even if they strayed into bad territory, the memories felt too removed to upset him.
It didn't matter that he still heard Moriarty's laughter in the night, just before he went to sleep – Sherlock was living proof a human being could survive on very little sleep. It didn't matter that he couldn't roll onto his stomach any more without wanting to leap up out of the bed – it was a bad position to sleep in anyway, he could strain his neck. It didn't matter that he freaked out when he saw dark-haired men in well-cut suits – how often was he going to see someone like that anyway? It didn't matter that he still had stitches, and that the scabs on his hands tightened unpleasantly when he tried to clench them – he barely felt any pain right now.
It didn't matter; nothing mattered. John just sat on the couch, grinning stupidly at the empty room, feeling vaguely amused but unable to articulate why. If this was what it felt like, John could understand why Harry drank so much...
Even through the hazy mist of alcohol, that thought sent panic spiralling through him, accompanied by a healthy dose of revulsion and self-loathing. Sitting on the couch, beer bottles at his feet, smiling foolishly at the ceiling...
He'd turned into his sister.
That thought was enough to send John skittering off the sofa, lurching a bit as he struggled to balance himself. It occurred to him that he should probably wait until he'd sobered up to do this, but John didn't dare – what if he sobered up and decided it wasn't a big deal, as long as he hadn't broken anything or hurt anybody? What if he sobered up and then it happened again, and he let it slide because he'd let it slide once already, and then the next thing he knew he'd be like Harry, throwing back something alcoholic at every meal and spending four nights out of seven in a drunken stupor.
As he determinedly emptied every bottle of alcohol in the flat down the sink, John knew he was overreacting. He also knew he'd much prefer to overreact than to ignore it.
Given his family's experience with addiction, John didn't think it would take much to turn him into an alcoholic, and that was one road he absolutely refused to travel. No matter how loud his memories got, no matter where his thoughts went...
No matter what Moriarty had done to him.
After all the alcohol was gone, John went upstairs and took another shower.
When he got back to the flat, Sherlock was very unhappy with the world in general and certain policemen in particular. It hadn't even been an interesting case! The fire was arson, true, but it had been petty insurance fraud, and frankly, beneath his notice.
He wouldn't have bothered going if John hadn't made him. The doctor had actually threatened to throw him bodily out of the flat if he didn't answer Lestrade's summons.
“Your pacing and experiments are driving me nuts, Sherlock! Either go to the crime scene or I'm dragging you outside and locking you out of the flat – and don't think I won't do it! You're spending at least an hour out of this house either way, but how you do it is up to you.”
The beginnings of a smile twitched at the corner of Sherlock's mouth as he remembered John's words. John's stitches meant he'd opted to sit this one out, which had been disappointing – if he'd come along, it might have made the whole experience bearable.
Sherlock was expecting to find John watching telly, possibly reading, or maybe catching a nap. Even he hadn't anticipated finding John sitting at the kitchen table, staring at a large collection of empty bottles, most of them beer but two of them wine.
“Sherlock,” John said, turning to him, his voice and expression as solemn as if he were about to announce someone had died. “From this moment onwards, I give you complete and total authority to rip alcohol out of my hands if you see me drinking it.”
And once again, John surprised him. Sherlock wondered dimly if there'd ever come a time when John didn't surprise him at least three times a week.
“I'm serious,” John went on, perhaps reading Sherlock's confusion. “No matter how stroppy I get about it. In this moment, when I'm...mostly sober, and completely in control, I give you permission to prevent me drinking alcohol by any means necessary.”
“Isn't that a little extreme?” Sherlock asked cautiously, feeling as though he were skirting dangerous territory. Dangerous emotional territory, at that, which always left him at a loss.
“It's not forever,” John clarified quietly. “Just until...until I've got this under control.”
His voice broke a little on the last word, so slightly it would likely have been undetectable to anyone but Sherlock, who had made studying John a curriculum. He knew the way John's voice sounded when he was relaxed, when he was tense but not overtly so, when he was distressed...and when he was like this. When he was swallowing back paralysing fear of his own vulnerabilities, his own weaknesses...
“You are not your sister,” Sherlock said bluntly.
“Yeah, I got that memo, thanks!” John snapped, rubbing a hand over his face and avoiding Sherlock's eyes. “But it...it wouldn't take much, Sherlock. Not right now.”
“But you stopped,” Sherlock pointed out, rather redundantly in his opinion. There was no conceivable way John could have drunk all those bottles and still remained conscious, so clearly he'd deliberately emptied most of them before placing them symbolically on the kitchen table (and what had he done with Sherlock's experiment with the mould?). John had claimed to be 'mostly sober', though, which meant he had drunk something, though it was either at least an hour or so ago or he hadn't drunk enough to truly impair him, but the fact that he'd changed clothes suggested the former.
But what Sherlock's mind was fixating on was the fact that John had stopped. It was an overreaction, true – one experience did not an addiction make – but his sister's experience had obviously made him extremely wary of alcohol. So much so that he wouldn't permit even one lapse of control without ensuring it couldn't happen again.
Sherlock highly doubted John was as close to addiction as he obviously thought he was. But if this was John's decision, then Sherlock would abide by it.
“I think I need to talk to someone,” John continued, and Sherlock could hear in his voice how much that admission cost him.
In that moment, Sherlock believed he understood what people meant when they described an awkward moment. He'd never really experienced them himself – they arose primarily when people's wants and limitations collided with society's expectations, something Sherlock had never really put much stock in to begin with. But now...
Now he wanted to do something, say something, to help, but had literally no idea what. There was no previous experience to base it off, no formula for the 'right' thing to do, so he just stood there, feeling dangerously close to useless.
It was a horrible thing to feel, and Sherlock wanted to put an end to it as swiftly as possible. He cast about for something less...disconcerting to focus on. An experiment, perhaps?
“John, what did you do with my experiment?”
It was only when John made a muffled noise that Sherlock realised it was probably not-good to ask about an experiment just seconds after your friend had admitted to a need for counselling after being raped by your arch-enemy. And Moriarty was his arch-enemy – Mycroft had been officially deposed, especially since he was working to find Moriarty.
But hopefully not to kill him; Sherlock wanted to do that himself. Preferably over the course of several days. Weeks, if he could manage it.
“The grubby coffee cups that you assure me are experiments and not merely your efforts to put off the washing up for as long as possible are on the counter,” John said, gesturing vaguely. “Under the tea towel.”
Sherlock had been convinced he'd said the wrong thing, that he'd stepped well over the line into not-good...so then why was John smiling?
John had made a call as soon as he could, largely because he was sure that he'd lose his nerve if he put it off. Actually doing it had been...unpleasant...but he'd got the information he needed, had an appointment with a rape crisis counsellor, and nothing about that sentence made him feel optimistic in any way.
Sherlock had insisted on getting the name of his counsellor-to-be, and had promptly run background checks, financial checks and who knew what else on the poor man. But he'd tolerated that – it wasn't as if he was expecting anything less, really – and it was only when Sherlock seemed inclined to follow him to the clinic that John finally told him, in no uncertain terms, to push off.
Now he was rather regretting that. The train ride had been a nightmare – as in the hospital, John had felt convinced that everyone he saw knew where he was going and why just by looking at him. And every stop had only increased the nausea writhing in his gut, until John was half-tempted to find a public bathroom and make himself throw up, just to get it over with.
Standing in front of the rape crisis centre, John honestly considered turning around and just running away. He'd never understood people who said they felt buildings were mocking them – they were inanimate constructs of stone and wood, how much mocking could they do? – but for the first time, he thought he could see what they meant. It was as though just standing front of it was somehow admitting that he wasn't strong enough, that he needed someone to hold his hand. That even though it was over, he was too weak, too helpless, to simply deal with it and move on.
Logically, he knew that was a very stupid line of thought. But logic had nothing on the venomous voices that hissed in the back of his mind until John just wanted to plug his ears and scream at them to shut up.
John took a deep breath, and pushed open the door.
The package was wrapped up like a present in bright floral paper, complete with ribbon and bow in an eye-smarting shade of pink. Usually, Sherlock would have assumed the package came from Sarah, or Molly, or was one of Mycroft's jokes, except for the fact that there was no return address. There were no stamps, either – the box had obviously been left on the doorstep by someone other than a postal worker.
Which was why Sherlock had carried it upstairs and set it down on the kitchen table, instead of just leaving it on the step.
The package measured thirty centimetres by twenty centimetres by seven centimetres. It wasn't particularly heavy, and nothing had rattled or clicked when he picked it up, making it unlikely there was an explosive device concealed inside. But the lack of explosives was in no way an indication it wasn't from Moriarty.
Sherlock pulled on rubber gloves and cut the ribbon, ensuring he preserved the knot as he did so. He cut the wrapping paper diagonally, careful not to touch the tape in case of fingerprints, and peeled it away to reveal a plain cardboard box.
There hadn't been any nasty surprises so far, but Sherlock was going to assume this had been sent by Moriarty until there was credible evidence to the contrary. He made sure to stand back as he eased the top off the box.
But nothing happened. It seemed there were no explosives or poison capsules or gas canister awaiting, only white material.
Beginning to entertain the idea that this was not Moriarty's work, Sherlock inspected what he'd just revealed. It looked be plain white cotton, folded many times to fit into the box; most likely sheets from a double bed, judging by the size.
It wasn't often that Sherlock was confused, but he was now. Why would anyone send him a package of bedsheets?
He grasped the corner and lifted the first sheet partway out of the box, scanning for more clues. And yes, there it was – stains. The pattern of brown spots and smears suggested a liquid, could be dried blood but fruit, rust and mud were also a possibility. There was also a musky, protein-like smell hanging on them, which increased the likelihood of the stains being blood.
Sherlock pulled the sheet free, intending to hang it up and glean whatever clues he could from it, when a small rectangle of card – obviously hidden within the sheet's folds – fell onto the kitchen table.
It was thick, obviously expensive, and clearly meant to be one of those cards usually attached to presents or gift baskets. There was writing on it, words scribed with a fountain pen in elegant, almost calligraphic script.
Sherlock noted all those features absently, then he picked up the card and read it.
Thought Johnny might like a little memento of our time together.
Sherlock's mind snapped the pieces into place.
These were the sheets John had been raped on.
Sherlock felt his stomach and throat contract, nausea and horror rising, and he felt the sudden need to drop the sheet and run to the bathroom to scrub his hands, as though he'd touched something carrying the Ebola virus.
Then he felt an eerie calm descend, and he knew exactly what he was going to do. For a moment, he wondered if this was how John felt when he had his gun in his hand.
Sherlock carefully folded the sheet again and placed it back into the box, with the card on top of it. He put the lid back on, slid it back into the wrapping paper, and replaced the ribbon. Then he carried the box into the living room and set it down in the fireplace.
He opened the flue, scrounged some kindling, and lit a match.
Sherlock knew he could be destroying valuable evidence – fingerprints at the very least, and who knew how many clues Moriarty might have left in the trace evidence on the sheets and in the package.
He didn't care.
The sheets weren't going to stay in their home. John wouldn't see them, wouldn't touch them, and Sherlock was going to ensure that by erasing them.
He set the package alight, and watched it burn.
AN: Many thanks to ginbitch , my lovely beta!