trillsabells: (Slash)
[personal profile] trillsabells
Title:The Prize
Author: [livejournal.com profile] trillsabells
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] jupiter_ash
Rating: This chapter R, NC17 overall
Length: This Chapter 6500, overall nearly 100k
Spoilers: None
Summary: On 29 January 2010 an unknown Event wiped out 98% of the population. This is the story of the survivors, four months on. Based on this prompt here
Warnings (for entire fic): Starts with the death of over 6 billion people and goes downhill from there. Death, destruction, disease, violence, fire, plane crashes, slavery, graphic sex and serious consent issues
Author's Note: Last chapter along with the epilogue will be up Saturday.

Chapter 1 : Chapter 2 : Chapter 3 : Chapter 4 : Chapter 5 : Chapter 6 : Chapter 7 : Chapter 8 : Chapter 9 : Chapter 10 : Chapter 11 : Chapter 12 : Chapter 13 : Chapter 14





Once Molly was done with the X-rays she joined him to assist with the surgery. She took the role of anaesthetist and was rather good at it for someone whose speciality had been pathology.

“First time in three years my patients have talked back to me,” she said with a wry smile.

Barely, he thought, remembering the silent, hollow slaves then reflecting that that might explain Molly’s slightly morbid sense of humour.

They were constantly watched over by two guards who kept guns trained on them, him especially, the entire time. He obviously wasn’t trusted to wield a scalpel unwatched. As they worked Molly talked him through the hospital’s procedures and resources.

Everything was prioritised not according to injury but according to the person’s role. PP’s were of course top priority, but it was interesting to discover that he, Molly and other ‘skilled’ collectees were next, and only then followed by the rest of the slaves in an order chosen purely by the collectors. Then again, if Moriarty considered doctors to be ‘life in a hoodie’ then he supposed they had quite a high value attached.

He asked about her black eye. He had assumed it had been done by a guard for some discretion, but that didn’t match up with the respect the guards seemed to show her.

“It was a new delivery- that is a new arrival. I have to look them all over when they first get here and one went for me. The guards intervened,” she sounded as if she was reassuring him that the armed thugs surrounding them were big cuddly softies after all. “Shot him.” Or not.

She told him about the other doctors. About Jeremy and Yasmine, who she had started with until Jeremy died of CN41 and Yasmine, who was actually a midwife, was transferred to a separate maternity ward six weeks after their arrival at Windsor Castle. Elaine had joined them at the castle but taken an overdose two weeks later. Ravi had been killed in an escape attempt. Heti and Kiran had been and gone, apparently sent to other collectors in trade. Cathy had been at the castle for two months before they discovered she was pregnant and they had sent her to the ‘maternity ward’.

“At least Yasmine will be taking care of her,” Molly had said mildly before going on to talk about the rumoured conditions of the ‘maternity ward’, where expectant mothers were strapped down to stop them from ending the lives of themselves or the unborn children that were so needed to create the next generation of slaves and slave keepers.

He wondered whether Heti or Elaine had been Quinn and which one of Molly’s litany of tragedy had been Holby. This place was what he had saved himself from by shooting those collectors the day he had met Sherlock and he had just walked in. He really was an idiot.

“You’re not,” Molly said, when he told her about the Enclave and how he had got from there to here. “I think you’re a hero. For coming after your sister.”

“Not much of a hero,” he said. “I haven’t even seen Harry, let alone rescued her.”

“But you still came after her,” she said firmly. “That’s what a hero would do.”

A failed hero, he thought. Or maybe half of one.

After the surgery, they were escorted back to the ward and then left to tend to their other patients. It was getting late, but the nap that had taken up most of the day-

A warm body curled up under his, the feel of Sherlock’s lips against their joined hands, the scent of the man he loved filling his nose- no stop it!

-meant he was hardly tired, but he was surprised by how little Molly was lagging. She launched herself into her work with what seemed to be a never-ending supply of care, attention and pure heart. After a couple of hours he tried to persuade her to rest but she dismissed him saying that she tended to sleep during the day when there was less to do. All that left for him was to try to keep up.

It was only when everyone was patched up and asleep that they did one final check-up before collapsing onto a mat in the corner of the ward to rest.

It was then that she told him that she had been in a morgue, had lost her mum and thought it was some kind of intense radiation.

The morgue shouldn’t have been surprising given her previous occupation, but the reminder of Sherlock’s answer sent a pang through his heart.

“You’re the second person I know who was in a morgue,” he said.

“Really?” she said. “I thought it was pretty unique. Who was the first? Maybe I know them.”

How to describe Sherlock?

“It was this man I met. Sherlock Holmes.”

She gasped and her eyes widened.

“Know him?” he asked.

“Same morgue,” she said with a slightly bitter smile. “He’s alive?”

“He’s the one who took me to the Enclave.”

She looked at her knees. “Oh. He-“ she frowned. “He could have said. If he was looking for doctors he could have-“ she laughed sadly. “He forgot about me. He did that.”

So Sherlock had had strays long before the Event had ever happened.

“Yeah,” he said. “He can be a right bastard.” A thought occurred to him. “So, what was he doing in the morgue anyway?”

“Flogging a corpse,” she said.

He waited for more detail. When none was forthcoming he said,

“Really?”

“At least he didn’t want to take any of it home.”

The Sherlock talk got them through until sunrise, her telling him tales of Sherlock’s adventures with stolen body parts and him updating her on everything they had been up to since then. It was plainly obvious that Molly had been at least a little bit in love with Sherlock before the Event. At least he wasn’t the only one.

Dawn brought a final set of rounds as the guards would come to collect the patients straight after breakfast and they had to make sure everyone was fine to go back to work. He wanted to make sure they had all those patients who were going prepped and ready to go as soon as the guards got there so he could watch properly when the slaves were released from the chains attaching them to the wall.

It turned out it didn’t matter whether he had finished tending to the patients or not. As soon as the guards came in he and Molly were waved away from the patients and ordered, at gunpoint, to stand by the far wall. He watched Molly to see if this show of force was excessive for his sake, but she seemed nothing but resigned, so he guessed this was what happened every day.

There were three of them, one armed with a rifle and two just with hand guns. The one holding the rifle covered him and Molly while one hand gun holder stood by the door and the other talked to Molly. She had told him to let her do the talking, so he stood by while she discussed which patients she wanted to give extra time. The guard listened, nodded then, seemingly at random, accepted her request for three of the patients but turned down the man with the blistered feet on the basis that ‘we’ll just get him some extra socks and a new pair of shoes’.

Molly was hustled away and the man took out a key. The patients were released, unchained from the wall one by one and led to the man by the door. He then held the length of chain of the first slave while each subsequent person’s chain was attached to the neck of the previous.

The rifleman kept everyone in their sights at all times, obviously ready to change direction from towards John and Molly to towards the slaves at the slightest provocation. None of the slaves did anything but move meekly where they were ordered to.

Finally everyone who was going to be rounded up had been and the two handgun holders led the way out the room. The rifleman hung back, watching them until the last possible second before finally going out the door and closing it with a click of the lock.

Molly let out an exasperated breath and said,

“That one always turns at least one down, but he’s not as bad as some of the others.”

So that routine happened every morning but with a cycle of guards? That was something to bear in mind.

“Breakfast?” she asked with a small smile. “PPs eat first, then us, then we can feed the patients.”

Breakfast turned out to be scrambled egg on toast. He had had worse meals in the army.

He was helping Molly dole out the rations to the four remaining patients when one of the PP room guards came to fetch him. Molly had told him that some guards were a permanent fixture and she often used them to keep a closer eye on the PPs when she was in the other room. John had therefore set them to watch over Lucy and come to get him when she woke up.

Lucy was immediately coherent enough to focus on him so she had likely been coming to gradually the entire time they had been in the room eating breakfast.

“You’re that doctor,” she said, peering at him. “Lestrade, right?”

“John,” he said.

Her eyes suddenly widened and for a second he thought she somehow recognised his name until she tried to sit up and demanded,

“Where’s Kayla.”

She cried out in pain as she moved so he pressed her pointedly back down onto the bed and said, “She’s fine. She’s not here. Just stay still,” before going to fetch a dose of painkillers.

He noticed the guards were watching him very carefully as he opened the cupboard where the medication was kept. He showed them the bottle before extracting how much he needed into a syringe. One of them made a note as to how much he was taking before he was allowed to go back to his patient.

She grabbed his shirt as soon as he re-entered range and said, “Well, where is she?”

“She’s at the Enclave,” he said, unpeeling her fingers from the cloth. “I personally put her on a diet of whatever she wants to build her strength up for the operation.” Free, he injected the painkillers into her IV line. “This is going to help with the pain. Let me know if it doesn’t help or if you feel nauseous. You’re going to make a full recovery and regain nearly all movement in your shoulder, but in order for that to happen you need to stay as still as possible for a few days while it heals. Alright?”

He tried to give her a reassuring smile. She returned it with a look that accurately conveyed how little she bought it.

“So did they get you or did that Holmes guy sell you out?”

“They got me,” he said.

“They get everyone,” she said.

He wondered if that was supposed to be reassuring.

“We’ll have you fixed up and sent back to London before long,” he said.

She narrowed her eyes at him as if she suspected what he had considered. As if she knew he had been thinking about asking her to take a message back to London to get to Sherlock.

“Sure,” she said, closing her eyes again.

That was close enough to a ‘no’ then. Except he had dismissed that idea as soon as he had thought about it. Why would Sherlock want to send a rescue party after him after he had left of his own violation? And even if Sherlock would want that, why would Mycroft Holmes agree to it?


~


He didn’t open his eyes when he first woke up. He had learnt from over the years that it was often advantageous if your capturer believed you were still unconscious when you weren’t. Instead he concentrated on keeping his breathing steady and gave himself a few minutes to take in as much information about the hostile environment as possible.

This particular hostile environment was of a mild temperature with a slight hum of machinery and contained at least one other person. Female, judging by the sound of her footsteps. Either that or lightweight male with a penchant for heels. It was best not to rule anything out too early.

He was lying on a bed, not too uncomfortable but hardly a goosedown mattress, his hands secured to the sides with soft restraints but his legs were free. There seemed to be some kind of IV attached to his left hand. He also appeared to be wearing scrubs, possibly the same set he had been wearing after decon after the embassy trip. The same he hadn’t taken off because John had done his stitches straight after they finished had decon and he had fallen asleep before he could change. The same he was still wearing because when he had woken up and John had vanished he had been far too busy working to worry about what he was wearing until Mycroft had interrupted him and-

“Bastard.”

His eyes flew open. He was in the Infirmary, the damn Infirmary, strapped to the bed. Helen Webber rushed to his bedside.

“I have-“

“You like John, Doctor Watson, don’t you Miss Webber?” he said in his most appealing voice.

She looked thrown and stammered an agreement.

“He’s in trouble and I need you to unstrap me so I can find him.”

“I-“

“I can’t imagine what horrors they’re putting him through,” he made his voice break. “Please, Miss Webber, please. He’s my friend and if you care for him at all please just let me help him.”

He stared at her, letting concern coat his face and widening his eyes appealingly. She looked uncertain for a second, her fingers twitching towards the restraints. Then suddenly she took a deep breath, steeled her expression and took a step backwards.

“I have instructions that you have to eat something and when and only when you have done so you will be allowed access to your laptop and any additional data you request.”

“Oh for god’s sake-“

She spoke over him. “You will be restricted to the Infirmary and required to take breaks every four hours during which time the laptop will be removed from you, by force if necessary. It will not be returned to you until one hour has passed and a full meal has been consumed.”

“You can call my brother and tell him to shove it up his-“

“In addition you will be required to sleep for at least five hours for every sixteen hours you work, including breaks.” She was shouting now. “I am allowed to call on any force I deem necessary to uphold these rules, including reattaching the restraints, drugs and removal of the laptop should the rules be contravened. Is that understood?”

She gave him what was probably meant to be a firm look that made her look like a rabbit bravely standing up to a steamroller. He glared at her. She took a step back.

“Reattaching the restraints?”

“Er,” she said. “Yes.”

“I take it that means you will be detaching them at some point?”

“Oh, right,” she gave him an embarrassed smile. “I just didn’t want you running off before I had the chance to talk to you.”

“Well, now you’ve talked to me you can take them off.” He gave her his most winning smile. “What’s for breakfast?”

She hesitated, her hands on the buckle of the restraint.

“I’m going to go get the guards,” she said before fleeing, ruining a perfectly good plan to lock her in the restraints she was about to release him from then getting on with his work without these useless interruptions.

Had he really become that predictable?

~


It was unnerving how easy it was to fall into a routine. The days were spent taking care of the PPs, the long term patients and any drop-ins. At about mid-afternoon every day Molly – John didn’t seem to be fully trusted yet – was taken downstairs to the main hall to deal with new arrivals.

“It’ll be time for the harvest soon,” Molly said. “They’re going out every day to make sure there are enough workers.”

“What will happen to the workers when they’re not needed over the winter?” he had asked.

“Oh they’ll find something for them to do,” Molly had told him with her usual humour. “No use wasting a limited resource when they’ll need them again next harvest.”

The first aid kit she took with her would often come back up severely depleted. Sometimes she would bring one or two people back with her if they needed something more serious, although it was rarely anything more complicated than a shot of insulin or other medication. Anyone found to be worse off than could be treated quickly and immediately was ‘taken care of’ downstairs.

He lost his first patient two days after his arrival at the castle. Her name was Fran and she was unusually chatty to the point where she told him she had lost her parents, her little brother and her twin sister. She had been in a sound booth recording something for a university assignment and she thought the Event was caused by some kind of virus. She had only been a farm worker for a week and had fallen over a stone. Unfortunately, when she fell over the whole chain of people she was attached to had fallen over on top of her. Considering her poor state of health she had been lucky to get away with a compound fracture to the leg, two cracked ribs and just three broken fingers.

They held him back as he shouted and protested when they took her, screaming and sobbing, out to shoot her.

Molly told him later that foot injuries were the worst because it was harder for people to continue working with them. They were almost always fatal unless the slave had someone to speak for them like the pretty woman with the broken leg.

After that he stopped being subtle in his attempts to gage the layout of the castle and the grounds through his conversations with his patients and started to outright ask if they knew Harriet Watson.

No one recognised his description. He wondered how much she had changed, if she was using a different name. He even asked if there had been any women talking about their brother John. The woman he had asked gave him a long hard look and told him that no one talked about their brothers and their sisters and their lovers and their children. If they did no one listened because they had their own troubles.

“I don’t recognise the description either,” Molly said to him one night. “That has to be a good sign, doesn’t it? If you’re certain she’s here then you know she hasn’t been hurt.”

“Unless they took care of her downstairs,” he added.

Molly fell silent after that.

One by one the PPs recovered. He was able to discharge three out of the five back to London leaving just Dan – who he was slowly starting to wean off a non-invasive ventilator – and Lucy who as far as he was aware hadn’t yet told Dan that she was the one who shot him.

She was starting to be up and about more often and was even able to go for short excursions outside with the help of one of the guards. She would tell him about the weather and the leaves turning brown when she came back. She was quite friendly after a while, especially when he showed her his own bullet wound and talked through how similarly lucky they had been – in some things at least. She joked that at least she wouldn’t come out with a limp. In exchange he didn’t ask her to keep an eye out for Harry. One thing at a time.

He finally got his breakthrough with a woman called Gertie, who had lost her three children – having lost her husband a few years before – had been in a warehouse shop and who hadn’t really given much thought to why it had happened. She was older than most of the slaves but it turned out she had been specially selected because she was a chef. She ran the kitchens, which was how she had gained the burn on her hand which brought her to the Hospital. She also recognised Harry’s name instantly.

“She made the porridge you had for breakfast this morning,” Gertie said as John wrapped her hand.

He laughed with delight. “What’s Harry doing in a kitchen?”

“Making porridge,” Gertie replied instantly. “And learning. They send just anyone down to me but I teach them and make sure to keep the ones with promise. If I can get them skilled I can keep them safe. No one kills a good cook.”

He could have hugged her. He sent her back to work instead with just a couple of words from him to Harry. Nothing written or with any meaning other than ‘I’m here’ so no one would have anything to punish Gertie for.

He hoped Harry wouldn’t do anything rash like hurt herself to come see him. He wished she would stay put, wait until he was ready to make his move. She was so close! All this time he had thought she was down at the farm or somewhere else far out of his reach. But she was in the same building just a few floors away. He wanted to find a way to the kitchens, despite the corridors full of guards and the locked Infirmary doors.

Except he wasn’t going to grab her and run anymore, those thoughts had passed. There was no way he was leaving this place while Moriarty was still alive.

So he waited, he prepared himself for every eventuality he could and he built up his own possibilities ready to capitalise on them when the opportunity arose. So he was ready when the gunfire started.


~


When people thought of castles they thought of impenetrable fortresses on high hills with parapets, moats and drawbridges that could only be defeated through long sieges or ample use of trebuchets. They didn’t think of Windsor, which was more palace than castle.

They forgot that the abandoned town of Windsor that ran all the way up to the walls was perfect cover to get in close. They forgot that Windsor didn’t actually have walkable parapets all the way round for guards to watch the horizon in case of attack and that even if someone was patrolling the roofs the steep angle of the walls made it difficult for them to see one lone figure approaching from under cover unless they looked straight down – which no one ever did. They forgot that many an assassin had snuck into a castle through the hidden nooks, crannies and secret doors and that a working palace and tourist resort had, by necessity, more nooks, crannies and hidden doors than other places. Even very clever people forgot all this for two very important reasons.

Firstly because why would anyone with the slightest bit of sense want to break in to a Collector’s hideout?

And secondly, even if said madman did break in they wouldn’t get very far without attracting a great deal of attention.

They forget that that might be the intention.

It was going quite well, Sherlock thought. The guards may have been equipped with the finest the military had to offer pre-Event, but they were certainly not trained soldiers. They were running around after him like headless chickens and falling into all of his traps. While the oil slicked floors caused rather humorous displays, his favourite was the chemical smoke bomb. It was a deliberate replication of the lab accident that had caused John to attack him; it had seemed appropriate. It had taken out four men and all the others were running towards it, stupid fools, meaning that he was in the Upper Ward before they knew it.

There were brief skirmishes where he was grateful for his baritsu training. The crunch of bones – never his – greeted him everywhere he struck and he had blood on his hands by the time he reached the state apartments. One man – whose kneecap he had fractured, nose he had broken and shoulder he had dislocated if he had done his job properly – had, upon searching, been holding onto a set of keys which were very helpful. From another man he had taken a gun and shot three others in the knees before handing it calmly over to a fifth man when asked who was so astonished at his quick compliance that it was easy to knock him out.

Alarm bells rang, setting the entire site on full alert. Soon the building would be swamped by guards from all over the grounds. Good.

Briefly taking cover in a bedroom he came across one collector in the middle of getting dressed. He knocked the man’s head against the wall, said a cheery hello to the girl who had been left in the bed, then climbed out the window.

The guards who had been heading upwards to get him were rather surprised to find him following them. He locked a set of ornamental doors after them which splintered under a siege of bullets as he dashed away. That was probably destruction of a national historical artefact. Shame on them.

He headed upwards again, making use of a nearby suit of armour when he came across another small group and then taking down two men with a sword. It was exhilarating and he was barely fighting a grin when he heard one of the men underneath the now pile of armour call on his radio for assistance.

He dropped a chandelier on the next group, just because he thought John would appreciate the humour.

They were getting better though, more organised. He could hardly turn a corner without coming across a group too large for him to take on. His attempts to head upstairs were being blocked from every angle and it didn’t take long to realise he was being deliberately driven towards one central point. Obviously a certain military man had woken up.

Setting fire to the curtains was in fact an accident but it was an excellent distraction and got him some breathing space, so to speak, when one group who really should have been stopping him from heading down the corridor which had once led to the state apartments had to stop to put it out. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and helped them, then hit three of them round the head with it before running away.

It was only a short reprieve, however, and soon they were closing in on him, bullets nipping at his heels wherever he ran. Chased by a veritable hoard of guards he cut through an ornate drawing room only to find another group already at the other door to cut him off. With the windows locked and all routes blocked he threw himself to the floor with his hands above his head ready for when the guards burst in.

The doors erupted open in a burst of drama and wood dust, almost certainly putting serious dents in yet another cultural artefact, the philistines. There was a pause, no doubt in suspicion that he had set another trap which would take them all out but which he would cunningly avoid because he was on the floor bracing his head with his hands. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The reason he was keeping his hands on his head was partly because if he laid them on the floor it might be too tempting for one of the guards to step on them and partly just in case they decided to get a few kicks in first.

Eventually one of the hoard approached slowly. He looked up and saw a man with a fierce expression and a purple nose. With no better options he decided to address his remarks to this man.

“Take me to your leader,” he said. “I want to meet Moriarty.”


~


The hospital was abuzz with the ruckus going on somewhere in the building. Everyone, including those who were chained to the wall, which actually made up the majority of ‘everyone’, was trying to peer out the window to see what was happening. When smoke filled the air the room filled with slightly hysterical chatter and suppositions. It was an escape attempt. It was an attack from another group of collectors. It was the collectors, having got bored with the place, burning the castle down with all of them in it.

In an attempt to get a true story John went through to the PP room only to find the guards gone. Lucy was sat up next Dan, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. They were both armed; that was.

“Any idea what the hell is going on?” he asked.

Lucy shrugged. “No clue. The guys said there was some kind of incident that required everyone’s attention. This,” she waved her gun, “is to make sure you don’t try to take advantage of the situation.”

He frowned. “So to make sure we don’t take advantage of the situation they have put two guns in the hands of two injured people whose doctor is a trained soldier.”

It sounded like some kind of entrapment, although it was more likely just ill thought out.

Dan levelled his gun more carefully in his direction but Lucy smiled.

“A trained soldier but also an honourable man who took an oath and would never hurt his patients.”

“You’re right,” he said. “I wouldn’t. You’re perfectly safe.”

Dan lowered the gun.

“Plus the door’s locked so it would be pointless,” Lucy added.

“Best not bother then.”

“Best not.”

The door to the main ward opened and Molly appeared.

“John, I need you.”

Guards had started to arrive, a mix of those screaming with pain and those arguing with their colleagues that they were okay. It was like being in the army again.

A continuous flow of patients were coming into the hospital, dropped off by healthy guards who would immediately leave, the situation outside apparently needing all the men that could be gathered. They were, therefore, only being guarded by the more mobile injured and even they were called away by a desperate sounding message on the radio.

The door was unlocked. He could just go.

Instead he administered oxygen, popped joints back into place and padded heavy bleeding. He dealt with the three gunshot victims while Molly tried to persuade one of the guards to let her have access to the CT machine for the sake of those with head injuries. The machine, which had no doubt been filched from the local hospital, was in a different room though and no one could be spared to escort her to it or operate it themselves. The same applied to the x-ray machine, severely limiting the amount they could do with the broken bones. Instead they were forced into working purely by feel and half measures to support what they could.

They were fast running out of mat space so one of the guards started to unlock the slave patients and move them to the other end of the ward, forcing two or even three to share a mat so a guard could have theirs.

Amongst the noise and the chaos he asked what had happened, how they had got injured. Some could only answer him vaguely, telling about an explosion that turned out to be more smoke than fire, with no clue what happened next, or of being called after an intruder then being struck from behind. One, however, was able to give him a very good description of the man who had knocked him down, broken his arm, then pushed him into a wall. Tall, pale, skinny, dressed in black with wild black hair and,

“Pale blue eyes with this look in them that was just mental.”

He met Molly’s eyes at that and could tell she was thinking the same as him. It couldn’t possibly be Sherlock, could it?


~


He had a very large and, he added smugly to himself, very bruised honour guard as he was marched along the corridors. It seemed that none of the men were willing to let him out of their gun sights. He was surrounded so tightly that escape was impossible and he couldn’t even see where he was being led.

Finally the crowd parted and he was thrust into an elegant hall with a wooden floor so polished he skidded a little when he was pushed to his knees.

“Please, Sherlock, tell me you’re here to see me and not your little pet.”

The man stood in front of him looked tiny in the middle of the grand room, especially with Colonel Moran towering behind him. Nevertheless, the man smirked at him with all the self-assurance of a creature used to fear and obedience. Determined to give him neither, Sherlock leaned back and swung his legs out in front of him – causing every guard in the room to jump at the sudden movement – until he was in a perfectly relaxed slouch on the floor.

“Moriarty, I take it?” he asked, giving as good as he was receiving on the smirk front.

“You can address him as your majesty,” Moran snapped.

He didn’t take his eyes of ‘his majesty’. “I’ll bear that in mind.”

“Look at you,” said Moriarty. “Trapped, weaponless and defenceless and still so cocky. Aren’t you just adorable?”

That wasn’t exactly a word he often used to describe himself so he merely raised a sardonic eyebrow in reply. Moriarty appeared to ignore it and instead turned his attention to Moran, giving the colonel a quick nod. Moran immediately started giving orders, setting up a guard around the circumference of the room, before sending the remaining guards out to deal with the wounded or return to their posts.

“Are you sure you’ve got enough brainless muscle to keep in check one ‘trapped, weaponless and defenceless’ man?” he asked, looking around at his guard.

“You think you’re rather clever, don’t you, my dear?”

He turned back to Moriarty with a smirk. “I rather think I am.”

“Found all the holes in my defences, snuck past all my guards and alarms, set up a few traps of your own.”

“Child’s play.”

“You are a child,” Moriarty snapped harshly, “and big brother’s not here to protect you now.”

He allowed the smirk to fall off his face and a serious look to take over. “You took something of mine. I want it back.”

“See,” said Moriarty, reeling back and gesturing towards him with both hands while his voice became a low whine. “This is what I was talking about! The world ended and you became a sentimental idiot!”

The last word was shouted, furiousness descending over his majesty’s features like a curtain.

“I used to watch you, Sherlock. For the first time in my life I thought I’d finally found someone worthy of my attention and- god!”

As quickly as it had come Moriarty’s anger seemed to vanish, his majesty taking a deep breath and seemed to wave the wrath away with a gentle movement of his hand.

“You used to dance so beautifully,” Moriarty said dreamily. “I thought we were made for each other. I wanted to come up with more and more clever crimes just for you, see which one would finally kill you. I,” Moriarty was staring off into the middle distance, seemingly lost in memory. “I had this cabbie who had the most marvellous trick to get people to kill themselves by offering them two pills. I was so looking forward to you meeting him and choking on your own vomit. It would have been perfect, finding out which was worse for you, being wrong or being dead.” Moriarty sighed despondently. “And then look what happened. What,” spoken bitterly, “is the point of a detective when crime is a way of life for all?”

“What’s the point of a master criminal when smash and grab becomes the norm?” Sherlock asked, fighting down the bitter feeling that Moriarty had hit the nail right on the head – especially when he had just been offered the solution to his final case.

Moriarty grinned at him. “Exactly. So I branched out.”

“Became a collector.”

The grin became almost impossibly wider. “More than a collector.”

“A people trader.”

“Exactly.”

“Not just workmen, people of use. Engineers, mechanics, vets, doctors.”

Moriarty beamed at him like a proud father. “Well done.”

“You sold them on. That’s how you made an agreement with the river trolls, you sold them someone in exchange for safe passage.”

Once again he put to the back of his mind the nagging doubt about whether John would have been sold on or not. He had to be here, he had to.

“In a world of disorder,” Moriarty shouted, flinging his arms wide. “I bring light.”

Just what he needed, a psychopathic ex-master criminal with a god complex.

Moriarty dropped his arms and tipped his head to one side speculatively. “I wonder what I’ll get for you? I’m sure your big brother would pay big to get you back safe and sound.”

“He doesn’t like me that much.”

“Aww,” Moriarty pouted. “Brothers can be mean, can’t they? But trust me, he’ll pay. And really that’s all you’re good for right now. You’ve just gotten so boring. I’m going to keep your pretty little doctor. I like him,” Moriarty confided. “He’s so… accommodating.”

He clenched his fists to stop from making any rash moves.

“But you? You can go back where you came from. You’re just not worth my time anymore.”

“Then I wonder why you’ve spent so long talking to me when there are so many other things to concern you.”

Moriarty scoffed. “A diversion when there’s nothing better to do of an evening.”

“Always nice to be a distraction.”

The lights went out.

“But I think,” he said as the emergency lights – no doubt a hangover from the health and safety requirements for a working palace and tourist attraction rather than anything Moriarty installed - flickered on one by one casting an eerie glow that barely lit the room compared to the grand chandelier lighting there had been before. It was still plenty of light to see and enjoy the look of surprise on Moriarty’s face. “You’ve got bigger problems now.”




Date: 2012-01-31 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lisson17.livejournal.com
Saturday is too farrrrrrrr!!

Brilliant chapter, as always. I can't wait to see how this ends, and I so want John and Sherlock to get their relationship straight!!

Date: 2012-01-31 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sursum-ursa.livejournal.com
Asdfghhjkklllfhhgvujb!!!!

By which I mean, 'when this is finished it's being downloaded to my ereader so I can love it forever.'

Date: 2012-01-31 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lisson17.livejournal.com
^
|
|
|
|

I would totally do this if I had an ereader.

Date: 2012-01-31 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] envythenight.livejournal.com
I can't think of anything else to say so have this:

asdfghjkl; YES.

x

Date: 2012-01-31 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radiowh0re.livejournal.com
I just want you to know that I have been looking forward to this update more than I have cared about the fact that Glee is back on tonight.

That is kind of a big deal.

::runs to read::

Date: 2012-01-31 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radiowh0re.livejournal.com
And may I just add....SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Date: 2012-01-31 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marietcaelum.livejournal.com
I second that! :)

Date: 2012-01-31 10:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thesmallhobbit.livejournal.com
Great - John being a doctor, because that's what he is and Sherlock being a distraction. And Moriarty falling into the the trap. I can't believe it's almost at an end, although I do want to know what happens.

Date: 2012-01-31 11:21 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-01-31 11:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eightnoon.livejournal.com
Argh, evil cliffhanger! XD I cannot wait for the next part, although I'm already sad it's almost over. <3

Date: 2012-02-01 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_lutz_/
I've been following this since you started posting and I must say that this chapter had me on the edge of my seat. It was entirely lovely to see such a devious and tricky Sherlock; one that can hold his own and outwit and outfight an entire castle full of guards. I've already plans to download this to my ipad when it's complete on AO3 but this chapter alone will have me selecting it for re-read more often than not.

This was absolutely fabulous in execution and I look forward to reading the end!

Date: 2012-02-01 12:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fitz-y.livejournal.com
i read the first 14 chapters of this in a day earlier in the week, and i am just completely in awe of the absolute stunning brilliance of this fic. the characters feel so perfectly IC, yet the world is complex enough to be original fic. And all the john/sherlock consent issues are gorgeously complex and real. this is my new favorite sherlock AU. for realz, yo. thank you so much for this awesomness.

Date: 2012-02-01 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrv3000.livejournal.com
I can't believe this is almost over! This has been so much fun to read!

The scene of Sherlock storming the castle had me giggling. I could completely picture him causing all that mayhem. XD

Date: 2012-02-01 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sabrinaphynn.livejournal.com
I am torn as to seeing the end of this excellent AU. I really want to see how things play out and yet... I really hate to see such a vivid world. Ah well, Saturday will arrive never the less...
Excellent writing- at the edge of my proverbial seat as usual. :D

Date: 2012-02-01 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coumanier.livejournal.com
Ooh, I knew Sherlock wouldn't have just come in with no back up plan. He is responsible for the lights, right? So either Mycroft was severely bullied into letting Sherlock pull such a death defying feat or he is unaware. I'm betting the latter. I'm at the edge of my seat! I can't wait till Saturday!

Date: 2012-02-01 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sffan.livejournal.com
Hahahaha. Awesome.

Date: 2012-02-01 03:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stickstockstone.livejournal.com
This was. Just. I can't. So great. Sherlock, master of baritsu, giant blue puppy dog eyes, and camp, if his shenanigans in the castle are anything to go by; like he's just coming to life, searching for John.

And John is just... fading. Full of seething anger and a little resignation, and Molly, poor Molly and her black humor. Love it. This chapter was just a fantastic read.

And Sherlock, enjoying the look of surprise on Moriarty's face... :o ...made me grin so hard.

Date: 2012-02-01 06:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lal111.livejournal.com
I can't wait for it to end! wait, it came out wrong... I can't wait till I know how you finished the story because right afterward I'll go to re-read it once more. It's superb! I generally love AU's but yours, YOURS is a treat. Lots of love!!!!

Date: 2012-02-01 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lbmisscharlie.livejournal.com
Ahhhh yes. I love saucy, crafty Sherlock and Moriarty is delightful. Plus that cliffhanger is perfect. Can't wait for the final part!

Date: 2012-02-01 09:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n-anon.livejournal.com
yay BAMF!Sherlock. This chapter started out slow and just errupted into action. Loved it. Cant wait to see how they outsmart moriarty. and i cant believe mycroft would let sherlock go alone XD there has to be back up right? I cant believe this story is coming to an end. :( i want the last chapter and yet at the same time i dont lol.

Date: 2012-02-01 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] therese-chan.livejournal.com
I love this fic so much! I can't wait to see what happens! Thanks for writing!

Date: 2012-02-01 11:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aclarar.livejournal.com
aaannnnndddd......
SAturday is way too far away :(

Thanks a lot for sharing, I am loving this series.

A.

Date: 2012-02-01 12:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mushroom18.livejournal.com
Awww Sherlock you badass. Running headfirst into danger all alone (of course I'm sure Mycroft is observing...somewhere)

Oh my god next chapter is the end? MY HEART CAN'T HANDLE THIS

Date: 2012-02-01 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] talimenios79.livejournal.com
This fic is just so awesome. I just love your Sherlock and John so much.

Date: 2012-02-01 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rotaryphones.livejournal.com
I don't have much to say since this chapter is all build up and cliffhangers, except I am so seriously looking forward to the conclusion. I'm wondering how you're going to take down Moriarty's kingdom and do all the resolution-y reunion-y things and pack it all into one chapter.

Also, your Molly is wonderful. What she lacks in social graces she makes up for with the inner strength of a goddamn warrior.

Date: 2012-02-01 02:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] little-seahorse.livejournal.com
Yess! Oh, this is a thing of thrill and beauty! I don't know how I managed to refrain from ignoring the notice that this chapter had been posted for most of today, but ooh i'm glad I caved in tonight.

Cheers for ongoing quality! Well done and ta, also, for flagging and meeting your posting schedule :D

Patient and eager, and beaming to boot. Thanks! xox

Date: 2012-02-01 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lenap-trap.livejournal.com
ohh)) thank u- thank u!!!
evil-evil clever Mycroft)) i thought worse of him then he deserved ^__^

Date: 2012-02-01 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] draloreshimare.livejournal.com
I am so glad I found this fic now that it's close to ending instead of at the beginning cause the wait for each chapter woulda KILLED ME. (I love your fic. I really do.)

Date: 2012-02-02 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lillianone.livejournal.com
I cannot believe we are at chapter 15 already, I am not prepared for it to be over!

Date: 2012-02-02 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] accio-arse.livejournal.com
I haven't read this chapter yet (I've read the rest) but I just wanted to tell you your fic is amazing and I love it. Yes!

Date: 2012-02-04 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xjill.livejournal.com
How To Read An Entire Fic In One Day 101: start reading this bit of awesome.

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