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Because a CK needs to be creative

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fic: (Sherlock / BBC) Nightfall (2/4)
Rating: R (P16)
Summary: Awoken by nightmares, John and Sherlock seek each other's company at night. They find more than either of them knew they were missing.
Warnings: Graphic descriptions of violence (in memories), hence the rating.

Part 1

The experiment Sherlock sat up in the kitchen after John had left was more to occupy his mind a little while longer than anything else. He was counting on it to tire him; to support his reasonable desire for sleep his brain didn't seem to share. Or want to share.

Every gift men possessed came with a curse of its equal. Sherlock was a master of deduction, of memory and details; but those who saw so much rarely were able to leave behind what had once entered their mind. Facts, yes, they were easy to dispose of, but vivid manifestations of the horrors this world held? They fed off the desperation one tried to get rid of them with. Sherlock had long since given up trying. He just let them stay, accepting them as the price he paid for his gift.

A price that included many sleepless nights, and restless slumbers. Rationality dictated him to visit his bed once in a while, succumb to his body's demand for a break. But even though he would never have admitted it, to himself or anyone else, deep inside he feared those moments of loneliness in his room, when his mental superiority was of no use to him, nor was any skill he possessed to fight the solitude and emptiness surrounding him. During cases he would do his best to exhaust himself, drain himself of energy by denying his body food and sleep, secretly hoping that it would force him into a dreamless unconsciousness once he allowed himself to lie down.

The few times this had worked were hardly worth the effort, and yet he took every moment of rest he got.

Their most recent case, just closed earlier this day, was likely to give him another nightmare - as tired as he ever was. He had felt his limbs become heavier during the day, how temporary malnutrition gained the upper hand over his usually due to the lack of digestion increased brainwork; how it became harder to think. He may still have been the Yard's most valuable asset, but his own beginning lack of concentration, not having one hundred per cent work capability anymore, had irritated him nonetheless.

Sherlock hadn't yet gotten used to sleeping in his old bedroom in 221B again. He'd been away for so long, his mind occupied with solving mysteries while staying hidden from the public for three years, that just being home without the need of pretense was the strangest of feelings.


Before he had met John a good five years ago there hadn't really been a sense of home in his life. But settling down in their shared flat, living with a proper friend, someone who Sherlock could trust, who liked him despite his not very easy personality - and certainly was he aware that other people had their problems with his exceptional intellect - allowed him a feeling of being in the right place.

The disadvantage of the situation, however, was that the moment he started to care about someone, they were in danger. His line of work came with enemies, and not few of them. What had happened with Moriarty had made him painfully aware of how he endangered people when he allowed them to get close to him. And as much as he claimed to have divorced himself from feelings - some things even he couldn't suppress, no matter how well he ignored them.

To his surprise, Sherlock found himself sighing in relief when he laid down on his bed; the difference to lying on the sofa for a quick nap he felt in every single muscle. Tension left his bones and muscles as he relaxed against the soft mattress, and some recess of his mind noticed how quickly his wakefulness slipped away to give room to sleep and rest, before every conscious thought shut down.

The last victim they found was covered in probably hundreds of little cuts. None of them were fatal on their own, but in their sum they had made the young woman bleed to death - very slowly. The cuts were precisely set to not only cause most damage before the heart gave out; they also would have hurt significantly, many of them crossing sensitive body parts rich with nerve endings.

While being fascinated as usual, Sherlock also felt a curious relief in knowing that the victim had probably passed out long before the blood loss caused her death. Still, the agony and the terror she must have felt, knowing what would happen to her, shocked even him. He'd seen many deaths, many murders, and quite a number of them had been violent and disgusting in their idea; but this exceeded everything he knew.

He couldn't claim the killer wasn't creative; no, indeed he came up with many different ways to torture his victims; each got their very personal and own death experience. Severed limbs, removed organs, stabs with a very fine knife; as much as Sherlock knew about murders, here he was confronted by ways he'd never heard of or seen in any other crime he was familiar with. Especially if one considered the fact that the victims had been kept awake with drugs. The fight of their consciousness against stimulants and pain must have been worse than the actual torture.

Now he looked at the woman on the table in front of him, her brown hair streaked with blood just like the rest of her body, her face frozen to a mask of torment. She was not older than twenty; maybe twenty-two. They didn't know yet, no ID has been found; but then, they hadn't expected to. Carefully he examined the body; as randomly as the killer seemed to choose his victims and the method of torture, his actions nevertheless gave something away, even though Sherlock was still in the progress of finding out what exactly it was he saw. As soon as he found the answer, finding this inhuman creature of a man would be easy.

"John, have a look at this," he called out, not once looking up from studying the woman's injuries. Only when the sounds of a familiar walk and the appearance of addressed person failed to happen, Sherlock raised his head - to find everyone gone. Just seconds ago, the place had been crowded with police officers from Scotland Yard; but now no one was around.

Confused he took a few steps towards the nearest archway; in the blink of an eye the floodlights police had placed at the crime scene that was located in the city's sewer system were gone, and he was covered in semi-darkness. Sherlock's confusion grew; an unpleasant feeling of not being in control anymore arose inside of him. When he turned back and saw the body of the young woman gone as well, the feeling manifested itself in a the most disturbing of ways.

"John?" he called out again; without success at first. Another few steps he took, walking through the archway, and let his voice ring through the underground tunnels when he asked for his friend once more. This time there was a faint reply, strangely muffled. Frowning, he followed where he believed the voice came from, passing another archway and turning into a narrow tunnel when the voice became louder.

But upon entering the next room, he stopped dead in his tracks.

John was hanging there, inside a doorless cage, strapped to the wall, naked safe for his pants; his eyes pleading and full of fear.

"I've changed my mind. I won't burn the heart out of you," a too-familiar voice filled the room, and Sherlock swirled around, scanning the whole room with his eyes. He saw no one. Still, the voice closed in, its bodiless sound nearing him, while it continued its psychological torture, "I rather have it explode with feelings."

Sherlock didn't get the chance to consider what those words possible meant - other than the obvious, but then he hadn't seen any explosive device on or near John. An unidentifiable sound and a scream made him turn back to his friend. What he saw made his mind reel - a small wound had formed on John's left leg, ripped apart skin making it look like a bullet exit wound. But John was strapped to the wall, so how...?

His question was answered when he witnessed how the next wound came into existence - it was as if a tiny explosion inside his friend's body caused it, this time on his right arm. John panted; tears sprang into his eyes. He whimpered, even though Sherlock saw he did his best to remain strong. And he saw the trust in John's eyes, the hope and faith he put into his friend to save him.

If only Sherlock had known how.

"Isn't it fun? I never knew your friend had such a spark in him." The laughter was demonic, made his blood freeze in his veins.

"You're not real! You are dead," he screamed, and started to frantically look for any way to get inside that cage. Moriarty had gotten John in there, so there had to be a door. Panic rose inside him when he couldn't find any entrance, any way to get past the bars.

The next explosion ripped a hole into John's side, probably affecting one kidney, although with the amount of blood that flew from the wound, the organ seemed to become the smaller one of their problems. John yelled in agony and it wrenched Sherlock's heart, made him sick. Two pairs of eyes met, a silent apology in one, understanding forgiveness in the other.

Sherlock fell to his knees then; he felt incredibly exhausted, unable to keep upright anymore, as much as he fought against his weakness and his inability to save his best friend.

For a moment he closed his eyes, heard himself scream in frustration. Another explosion, but no sound from John this time. Though he didn't dare, he heaved his lids up - and was taken aback by the sight. The cage was gone, and John lay on the ground - a hole in his chest where his heart was supposed to be. He didn't lose any thought on logic this time; it didn't matter.

Barely able to control his arms and legs, Sherlock crawled over and tried to cover the wounds, stop the bleeding. His shawl on the wound on John's side was soon soaked with blood, as were Sherlock's hands that pressed onto his friend's chest. The heart was still faintly beating; there was a chance.

"Come on, John, you can do it," he whispered in despair as he pulled his mobile from his pocket... No signal. He dialed nonetheless, but the line remained dead. And then the weak pumping beneath his fingers stopped.

"Such a pity... I actually liked the good doctor." This time, Sherlock saw Moriarty. Only a few meters away, standing in the shadows, grinning manically. With every last bit of strength he had left the detective rose to his feet and leapt forward to-

Sherlock almost fell out of the bed when he finally managed to free himself of his sleeping state and the nightmare it came with. Breathing heavily, he sat on the edge of the mattress that just earlier that night had felt so good against his tired muscles; now he had the shockingly irrational urge to accuse it of being a traitor. Just as his mind was.

Nightmares, they were nothing new. He was used to them, and most of the times he'd go back to sleep - if the bad dream woke him at all. But then had his dreams never included John.

Over the course of the three years he'd been gone, Sherlock didn't have many chances to check on John. He tried to as often as he could, just to make sure he was all right - at least physically. As much as sentiment was a mystery to him, he understood, even felt, what it meant to lose a friend. John had been on his side for two years; he'd been the first to make him understand what true, unconditional friendship meant. He's been his heart and his conscience, someone he could rely on to stop him, guide him into the right direction, let him know when things got out of hand. Before he met John, he hadn't known that acquaintances with strangers could exist without insult and rejection, but with acceptance and kindness. And that this thing they called friendship was possible even for him, Sherlock Holmes, the man people were impressed by and yet avoided like a plague.

Sherlock had had many nightmares fueled by his encounters with Moriarty. The maniac never left his mind, asleep or awake; even now he could still hear whispered threats, disguised as casual conversation. The voice reverberated through the room, words like heart and bomb and burn and explode bouncing off the walls in a thousand echoes with the obvious intention to drive him mad. And they came quite close to being successful.

Jumping up, Sherlock began to pace the room, back and forth, again and again, faster with every turn. He needed to clear his mind; it had never been this bad before. His hands still felt sticky and warm from the blood, John's blood, that had covered them in their dream; he rubbed them over his clothes, vainly so, knowing that it would be of no use, but still needing to try.

John was safe, he told himself, he was just upstairs, not in danger, never in danger again, at least not from Moriarty. But wasn't that the point? May one of their enemies have been gone; out there lurked many more. Their work, his work came with adversaries, people who'd want to harm them, in one way or another. And he would never be able to prevent it, unless he left again. He knew that he couldn't, though. Three years without John had made him realize how much he needed his friend, the only person he truly trusted; the one and only person who made him a better detective, a better man, a better human being.

How often after he'd left had he expected John's advice, his approval, in situations when he reached his limits in dealing with other people, with emotions and etiquette? He had never cared about it, not much; a petted ego was worth and of use far less than the truth. Nevertheless had John's guidance helped him; when he had started living with John and made him part of his work, people suddenly weren't resenting him that much anymore, which in turn made his work easier.

A wave of exhaustion similar to what he had felt in his dream all of a sudden rolled over him, and he came to an abrupt halt, resting his head against the cool window glass, arms stemmed against the pane, strain and effort on his muscles that were expected to hold him upright. He breathed in deeply and then slowly released the air, did it again, and another time.

No matter what John did, how he improved his work and social skills - most of all, Sherlock understood, he had filled his life with a purpose beyond crime solving. It was out of question for him to ever leave again, be separated from John. He'd come to rely on the man he called his best friend, even though he had never even really grasped the meaning friendship till the day he met the former army doctor, and where it ought to have worried him, this feeling of dependence, it had settled inside of him, like it belonged there and had simply taken longer to come to him before.

All he had to worry about now was to keep John save. Because he needed him, more than anything else.

Sherlock was out of his bedroom before he could give it any further thought. His nightmare-ridden mind demanded proof that his best friend was well; that they'd not been ripped apart, and wouldn't ever again either.