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 6800, 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: Next chapter Friday, aka the other side of Sunday. We can do this, folks.

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





That was different, John thought as Sherlock cleaned them up – with John’s shirt as usual – then threw an arm and a leg over him and clutched him tightly before nuzzling his nose into John’s neck.

Realising the other man meant to spend the night there John set about loosening the death grip Sherlock had on his side and rearranging the other man’s limbs so the pointy bits weren’t digging in anywhere. He had to do this while Sherlock was still conscious and pliant because, as he had quickly learnt, once the man was asleep he was practically a corpse, impossible to manoeuvre and seemed to gain about six stone. Add to that the fact that Sherlock was all skin and bone and angles and it was important to make sure to get the man in a comfortable position before the uncomfortable one stuck. Sherlock merely hummed contentedly as he was pushed and pulled until finally John had him where he wanted him and Sherlock drifted off, still holding on as if John was the world’s most cuddly teddy bear.

John settled back to stare at the ceiling. He wouldn’t sleep. He never slept afterwards, even when Sherlock didn’t stay. This did have the unexpected bonus that it had effectively killed his nightmares as he was always either too exhausted to remember his dreams or waiting for it to be early enough to go get a cup of coffee, which was nice he supposed.

But that night he found himself not minding so much. He felt content and relaxed. It must have been the massage. Sherlock had the hands of an angel….

Sherlock roused at about five am, gave him a sleepy smile then kissed him softly with just the tiniest hint of teeth to tease at his lower lip.

“Morning.”

“Morning.”

He remained perfectly still while Sherlock untangled himself and executed a full body stretch before half climbing, half rolling out of the bed.

“I want to make an early start,” Sherlock said.

It took John a moment to realise that the other man wasn’t proposing a round two but rather their trip out to… wherever. Sherlock hadn’t actually said but then he rarely ever did, trusting that John would follow along obediently.

“I’m going to go get ready,” Sherlock went on, pulling on his clothes from the previous night. “We’ll leave in half an hour.”

“Any idea how long we’ll be?”

He would have to text Tom Wearing and warn that he wasn’t going to be around that day and – and this would really annoy the surgeon – possibly not available for football for three days afterward depending on what Sherlock had planned.

“Should only take the morning,” were Sherlock’s final words before he breezed out the door, looking as smart as always to the point where no one would ever guess he was doing the walk of shame.

John stretched, taking a moment to linger in Sherlock’s abiding warmth before getting out of bed himself, grabbing a towel and change of clothing and heading for the showers.

He was just getting his boots on, looking forward to a hot cup of liquid caffeine when there was a knock on his door. Sherlock never knocked, just came straight in as if he own the place, and everyone else tended to contact him on his phone first. Who else would come to see him?

“Come in?”

It was Seb with an air of excitement, shark-like grin firmly in place and a mobile clutched firmly to his chest.

“I was looking for you yesterday,” he got in before the colonel could say anything.

“You won’t believe what I’ve got to tell you,” Seb said, ignoring him.

“Fisher’s alive!”

“You remember that place I told you about, The Farm? I- what?”

It was the first time John had ever seen Seb look stunned. He looked almost pale.

“Fisher,” he said. “He’s not dead like we thought. He’s been locked up this whole time. He’s-“ looking pretty damn awful but still very much, “-alive.”

“He’s still here? Is he talking?”

“Seems to be, yeah. I guess that’s why they’re keeping him around, for the information. But from what you said I thought they were going to put a bullet in the back of his head.” And his. “But…” he frowned. “What’s with the phone?”

Seb had been staring off into the distance, a look of deep concentration on his face. “Huh?”

“The phone, I assume you sought me out for a reason.”

“Oh,” Seb blinked. “The Farm. I got an in.”

“What?”

Seb’s face seemed to transform, all shock at Fisher vanishing in an instant with the predatory grin firmly jumping back into place.

“I told you about that place, The Farm. The whole fairytale gig with food and shelter and everyone working together, that stuff.”

“Yeah,” John said, doubtfully.

He remembered very well that it couldn’t possibly be true. It sounded like the biggest kind of con to him.

“It’s real.” Oh no, and Seb was about to fall into its trap. “It’s all completely true but the place is so secret, invitation only. You can only get in if someone already in there is willing to vouch for you. Who you know and all that.”

He paused almost dramatically.

“And you know someone,” John said, figuring that was the line Seb was waiting for.

John wouldn’t have thought it was possible but somehow Seb’s grin got wider.

“No, but you do. Harry.”

John felt like all the breath had been knocked out of him. “Harry?”

Seb took the phone away from his chest and offered it to him.

“She’s there, John. She’s there and whole and alive and she’s on the phone right now. Doc, you’ve got to get us in. You have to take me with you. I need this place.” Seb pushed the phone into his hands. “Talk to her!”

It wasn’t true. It was a trick. It was a hallucination. It was a lie. It couldn’t possibly be that his sister – his dead sister, she had been in Chelmsford, it had burned, he thought she was dead – was on the other end of the phone. He didn’t want to lift it to his ear. He didn’t want to speak to whoever was on the other end of the line. He didn’t want to kill that tiny bit of hope inside him when he found out it was a mistake, some other Harriet Watson who just happened to have a brother called John.

He had to know for sure. He was never going to find out unless he tried.

He put the phone to his ear, took a deep breath and said,

“Hello?”

It sounded more confident than he felt.

There was a shuddering breath on the other end of the line and then a trembling voice asked,

“John?”

This time it was like a ten ton sledge hammer to the chest.

“Harry?”

There was no hiding the shock, the relief, the regret and the joy from his voice that time.

“Oh god, John.”

She was sobbing down the phone. He hadn’t heard his sister cry for over thirty years. He couldn’t believe it.

“Harry, are you alright?”

“Oh god, John, I thought you were dead.”

“I’m sorry, Harry, I’m so sorry. I thought… I didn’t… Harry….”

“John, you’ve got to come and get me, please.”

“I will.”

“Please, John, please come.”

“I promise I’ll come and get you as soon as I can. I’ll- Where are you?”

“I- Please, John. You’ve got to come.”

“Where are you?”

“I know,” interrupted Seb. “I can take you there, if you’ll let me come too.”

He nodded, anything for Harry. “I’m coming for you, Harry,” he said down the phone. “I’m on my way.”

“John, I’m sorry.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

“Joh-“

The phone cut out.

“Harry? Harry!”

Seb took the phone from his hands.

“The signal probably cut out,” Seb said. “It’s a bit sketchy out there. Whenever you’re ready to go, I’ll take you.”

Now. He was up and ready to go right now. He didn’t care how long it would take or if they would need a vehicle, this was his sister, he had to look out for her. She was alive! He couldn’t believe it. He had to get her. Maybe if he talked to Sherlock-

“Shit! Sherlock.”

He looked at his watch, his half hour was nearly up. He hadn’t even managed coffee. Who cared about coffee when his sister was alive! Actually alive!

“I’m supposed to be meeting him.”

“You can’t tell him,” Seb said, dark and serious. “You may think he’d help you but if his brother found out he’d take over the place. Oust everyone who doesn’t meet his criteria of useful. These people, your sister, are trusting us not to let on, you can’t tell him.”

That was going to make things a hell of a lot more difficult. He would have to get out of whatever they were supposed to be doing that day. No, Sherlock would insist. And even if he managed to persuade Sherlock to stay put then the other man would just hang around like a lost puppy and he’d never get away.

He would have to go.

“Okay, I won’t. But I’ve got to go-“

“Whenever you’re ready,” Seb said. “Come see me. I’ll get us out of here.”

“Thanks,” John said, grabbing for his jacket. “Thank you. Thank you so much. Harry… thank you.”

“Go!”

He took off at a run.


~


The corpse of a helicopter lay rotting in one of the long defunct fountains in Trafalgar square. Those pieces of Nelson it had brought down with it when it crashed that hadn’t been stolen by idiots who thought a souvenir of the times was a good idea were scattered around it. Apart from that there was remarkably little damage to the square. The National Gallery had been looted, grafittied and vandalised but the four lions were unmarked and the plinths were all undamaged. Even the bodies, which had covered nearly every square inch of the square after the riots, had been cleaned up and swept away. It was almost as if the city was waiting for the good times to come around again and wanted the traditional place of such celebrations ready and gleaming for that eventuality.

As they strode past it all Sherlock couldn’t help notice John seemed a bit on edge. Most likely uncomfortable with being so out in the open like this. It was a dangerous part of London. The abundance of plush hotels and embassies made it a hot spot for the gangs who always liked to set up somewhere nice and a view of the square was always considered a bonus. But then the idea was to be spotted, at least by one particular gang.

Raz was waiting for them by the time they reached the rear of the gallery.

“You looking for trouble, Mister Holmes?” Raz said, leaning up against one of his own spray painted creations – a gun crossed with a hand torch like a shield – with the kind of casualness that was so false it didn’t take someone of Sherlock’s remarkable intelligence to read the tension in the young man.

“I’d like to speak to Gunner,” Sherlock said.

Raz flinched, then said in careless tones as if he hadn’t been in the slightest bit affected,

“Gunner ain’t about anymore. Rex is in charge now.”

There was something in the way Raz was holding himself. Some kind of injury? Not a smooth takeover then, but Raz had survived and was still in the gang in some shape or form.

“Who’s Rex, I’ve never heard of him.”

“New starter.” Now Raz sounded cautious as if nervous his words would get back to Rex. “But very good at what he does.”

Would have to be to take over from Gunner. Before the Event Gunner had had his fingers in at least half of the drug distributing in the city, two thirds of the illegal weapons and it was a rare item of stolen goods that didn’t pass through his hands at one point or another. Yet despite all this he had stayed so far under the radar not even Sherlock had thought it worth his time to go after him. Although he had had his spies in Gunner’s old circle of course – better to keep everything where he could see it rather than risk it being divided up among newcomers who might be less subtle about it. After the Event Gunner’s gang had been one of the more surprisingly stable ones. They had taken territory and used violence – and Gunner’s handy dandy weapons backlog - to keep it and take supplies but they had also fought off collectors and restrained from taking on more than they could manage. It was almost feudal. It was practically civilised.

But now this Rex had come along and taken over. Hadn’t even destroyed the old gang to steal the resources and area, but kept the old lot – at least some of them, hence Raz’s continued survival – and put himself on top of the heap.

That took considerably more resources than someone supposedly new to the criminal underworld. Interesting.

“I think I should meet Rex,” he said with a smile.


~


The last time John had set foot inside an embassy it had been during the Rugby trip to Norway. It seemed that his mate Gary had not only managed to get on a plane with a traffic cone but without a passport. They had had to go to the embassy in Oslo to sort it out - a task made more difficult when Gary had got nervous at the last minute and instead of admitting he had left his passport in England had claimed it had been stolen by a group of travelling circus folk. The official – who Gary kept insisting on calling Madame Ambassador – had tried to throw him out for being drunk, which to be fair he was. John had been sober enough at the time to manage to talk her down but still drunk enough to think he had a chance at chatting her up.

This place, he thought as they entered the imposingly sculptured building that sided Trafalgar square, was completely different to the boxey office in Oslo. It was far more opulent and richly decorated, had far more bullet holes in the walls and the security had much bigger guns.

Sherlock relayed his request to meet with the gang leader and the woman on guard went to tell Rex while her male colleagues searched them for weapons. He was suddenly glad the weapon Sherlock had handed him that morning hadn’t been his Sig for a change. With the trouble he had gone through to get hold of it he would have hated for it to fall into the hands of these thugs. That said, it might have been nice if Sherlock had told him what sort of situation they would be walking into that morning since the other man had obviously foreseen this or something close to it. Especially when the woman came back accompanied by man holding an even larger gun than any of his colleagues and a foul expression on his face.

For a moment John thought it was Rex who would take one look at them, decide they weren’t worth the bother and pull the trigger. But then the woman gave a quick nod and indicated with a flick of her hand that they were to follow her. Sherlock immediately strode after her while Raz slunk along behind looking as if he would rather be anywhere else. John just took a deep breath and followed at Sherlock’s heels feeling as though they were being led into the lion’s den, closely pursued by a man with a weapon so large he had to be compensating for something.

The corridor they were led down obviously wasn’t part of the bureaucratic area where the country’s equivalent of Gary dealt with visa issues. The carpet was too rich and the pictures on the wall were far too fine for that. Clearly they were entering the area where the ambassador entertained foreign dignitaries and other VIPs. Their audience with Rex was obviously going to take place in style, although John highly doubted there would be Ferrero Rocher on offer.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” he whispered to Sherlock.

“All my ideas are good,” Sherlock replied.

“What about that time you persuaded Matt to let you back in with the cows and the cheese tasted funny for a week?”

“Ah, in that instance the idea was sound, it was the execution which let me down.”

He had to quickly bite down on a grin which was completely inappropriate for the situation. Sherlock’s answering smirk was unrestrained.

“In here.”

The doorway they were very pointedly nudged through led to some kind of reception room with velvet curtains, comfortable looking settees and elaborate tables with what had once been white tablecloths. It was obviously still in frequent use as someone had gone to the bother of repairing the windows with clear plastic giving the light in the room an unearthly quality. It also reeked of cigarettes and the smoke from the freshly lit one in the hand of one of the men standing in the chamber hung low across the room.

“I won’t offer you one,” the smoker said watching them with narrowed eyes. “They’re a bit of a short commodity these days.”

John could only assume this was Rex. The man reminded him more of a snake than the dog his name suggested. Rex had what seemed to be permanently low slung eyes, dark waxy hair and moved with a casual grace that bordered on predatory.

Two other men, both heavily armed and with unamused expressions stood at the back of the room.

“What have you brought me then, Raz,” Rex said, dropping bonelessly onto one of the sofas and indicating with his hand for them to do the same. “I keep you around to fetch me information, not people.”

“What about people with information?” Sherlock said, not sitting.

John followed suit.

“Well that’s another matter,” Rex said. “Raz, get lost.” Raz didn’t hesitate and took off out the doorway at a run. “You two, sit.”

“We’d rather stand.”

“I’d rather you sit.” Rex’s eyes flicked to the two guards who had followed them in and now stood by the door.

Sherlock stood perfectly still, smirking slightly. Rex sighed and made a lazy movement with the fingers of his left hand. The two guards stepped forward, the woman laying a hand heavily on John’s shoulder while the man did the same to Sherlock. They were both pushed until they sat on the sofa in front of Rex.

“That’s better,” said Rex without smiling. “Who are you?”

“I’m Sherlock Holmes and this is my colleague Detective Inspector Lestrade.”

John didn’t let his confusion as to Sherlock’s lie show on his face. Why would he hide John’s identity but not his own?

“Many of my associates won’t like having a police officer around,” Rex said.

“He’s not a police officer any more than you are an auctioneer now. So at least you don’t have to worry about him arresting you for money laundering.”

Rex’s reply was a long drag of his cigarette followed by a slow exhale.

“What do you want?” he asked eventually.

“A name,” said Sherlock, straightforward.

A flicker of something approaching an expression went across Rex’s face. “And what are you offering?”

“What do you want?” Sherlock said. “More cigarettes? I can track down the factory and give you the key. Fresh vegetables? That can be arranged. Got a craving for anything currently off the menu and I’ll see what I can do. Trade, now and future, whatever you want.

“That’s a steep price for one name.”

Sherlock smiled. “Oh, but you know which name I’m after. Someone whose notoriety was on the rise in the criminal underworld before the Event. Someone with resources and power and who only gained more of both with the death of most of the population. Someone who, say, would be very useful to know if you were an honest auctioneer fed up of seeing lots of money going to people other than him and wanting to change that in a dishonest way. The same sort of someone who could put such an ‘honest’ auctioneer in a very powerful position very suddenly in post-Event society. Name your price for that name.”

Very slowly a smile crept over Rex’s face without revealing his teeth or reaching his eyes. It creeped the hell out of John.

“Nothing,” Rex said. “No deal.”

Uh oh. What had Sherlock gotten them into now? He couldn’t die here; he had to go get Harry.

Rex indicated to the two guards standing behind them with the hand still holding the slowly burning cigarette.

“Show them out.”

As the man and the woman who had originally shown them into the room walked them back down the corridors he was certain ‘Show them out’ was an unsubtle euphemism for ‘shoot them in the back of the head, they know too much’. Tense and on his guard he was therefore ready for the blow when it came. He was rather less prepared for it to come down on the male guard, rather than on Sherlock or himself. He stared at the female guard as she stood over her unconscious colleague and gestured with her gun towards a side corridor with an abrupt,

“Down here.”

“What’s down here?” he asked, questioning whether it was wise to have said that before the words had finished leaving his lips.

It was a bad idea to anger the woman with the large gun. Even if he was fairly sure he could take her and she had successfully interfered with Rex’s plans to have them ‘shown out’. Unless of course they really were being shown out and now this woman was taking them down the corridor to be shot for some imagined slight.

Sherlock didn’t seem at all bothered. In fact, he couldn’t be sure, but John was fairly certain he was picking up on a general aura of pleased smugness emanating from the other man as he perused the indicated corridor with interest.

“Kayla,” was the abrupt reply from the woman.

Kayla turned out to be a teenage girl curled up in one corner of an enormous king size bed leaning over the side to throw up into an obviously overused bucket. She was thinner and paler than Sherlock with short wispy hair and streaked makeup.

“It’s okay,” he said, going to her immediately and dropping to his knees beside the bed. “I’m a doctor. I’m here to help.”

“You said he was a DI,” said the woman suspiciously, still standing by the door with Sherlock.

“What would Rex have done if he had known he was a doctor?”

As he reached for a towel to clean Kayla up he looked around, curious.

“Sell him on to the highest bidder,” the woman said, grimly. “Or maybe keep him. It’s hard to tell with Rex.”

Well that explained why Sherlock hadn’t mentioned he was a doctor then. But it didn’t quite explain why Sherlock had given him a false name. Especially the name and proper title of someone who did exist.

He turned back to his patient who was staring disgustedly into the bucket and groaning.

“Can you tell me what’s wrong?” he asked, doing his best with the towel.

She huffed a laugh and flopped onto her back on the bed.

“She was Gunner’s before,” the woman said in an oddly lifting voice as if telling them all a bedtime story. “I smashed his head in for what he did to her. Rex called me loyal Lucy. I liked that. But Gunner left her with a little present.”

Kayla groaned and rubbed at her stomach as if the reference to her condition made her feel even worse.

“Morning sickness?” he asked.

“All the time sickness,” she said in a low croaky voice. “Every meal I just feel nauseous but you gotta eat when Rex says you can.”

“Some nausea is perfectly natural,” he told her in a tone that was only reassuring through years of practice.

Unfortunately the only thing he knew to recommend was to eat at least a little as soon as she was hungry instead of waiting for a set time when the nausea could catch up with her. But when the food supply is being strictly controlled by someone else that wasn’t a possibility.

“If Rex finds out he’ll send her away,” ‘Loyal Lucy’ continued.

Kayla sat up to look at her and John turned to follow suit. Lucy was gazing at the teenager with a faraway look in her eyes.

“There was this other girl who was pregnant too and he told me about the place he was sending her to. They shut them up somewhere to have the babies. Some noble clap trap about continuing the population. If Rex finds out Kayla’s up the duff he’ll lock her away and make her have it. You take her somewhere and help her get rid of it and I’ll give you that name you were after.”

All eyes turned to Sherlock.

“How do I know it’s the right name?” Sherlock asked.

“I’m putting my baby sister into your hands, you think I’d risk lying?”

“Motivation to tell the truth doesn’t necessarily equate to ability to give me the facts I need.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m Loyal Lucy. I know who Rex reports to.”

She took a pen and what looked suspiciously like a policeman’s notebook out of her pocket. She quickly scribbled something, ripped the sheet out, folded it in half then pressed it into Sherlock’s hands saying,

“The name no one dares say.”

“How poetic.”

John watched as Sherlock opened the piece of paper, gave the contents barely a half second’s glance without the slightest hint of emotion then looked back up at Lucy and said,

“I assume there’s a back way we can get out of here?”

Lucy leapt into action immediately, tucking the notebook away and rushing over to pull Kayla from the bed.

“Come on, Kay,” she said as she threw her sister’s arm around her shoulders. “Move your fat arse.”


~


They managed to get three corridors away before they were stopped, which gave Sherlock plenty of time to add to his observations of the gang’s headquarters. He had gained a good picture as to what had occurred during Rex’s takeover. The marks on every other wall as well as the remains of badly cleaned up blood splatter told him this wasn’t simply a case of Lucy ‘braining’ Gunner and Rex taking over. Rex had far more serious firepower than Gunner had ever had, so it was no wonder so many like Raz had stayed out of fear. It was obvious the building was far more populated than he had ever seen before – even if those observations had previously been made at a distance – so it wasn’t too much of a shock that they were found so soon.

It also meant that Rex’s gang were going to start spreading and collecting extra resources very soon and very quickly. As an armed man came around the corridor he tucked that fact away for later review.

“What are you doing?” the newcomer asked. “What are they still doing here?”

Lucy, who had been bringing up the rear while Sherlock led and John supported Kayla in the middle, spoke up quickly.

“That’s exactly what I was trying to find out,” she said. “Now you’re here you can help me take them to the exit.”

The man frowned. “What’s Kayla doing with them?”

“I’m helping too,” Kayla said.

Lucy shot her a look which showed she thought the teenager was being as unhelpful as Sherlock did.

“She’s not well,” Lucy said, improvising remarkably well. “I was taking her back to our room when I came across them, so I thought that if these two clearly didn’t fancy leaving when they were so nicely asked they might as well lend me a hand.”

The man narrowed his eyes and raised his gun. “We’ll take them from here, you take Kayla.”

“I’ve got it covered.”

“Dan!” the man shouted over his shoulder while lifting his gun to point at John.

He saw Lucy close her eyes and a pained expression cross her face as the sound of footsteps approached from around the corner.

“Take Kayla,” the man continued, “and step away from them.”

Lucy opened her eyes, sighed, said, “Ah, hell,” and shot him straight in the chest.

Not good, Sherlock thought as he recalculated the odds of them getting out of there alive. He had to work in this city and now they had just pissed off the most powerful gang in it. Not to mention the fact that they still had to get out of a building full of said gang who were heavily armed and about to be very angry. Very much the opposite of good.

He saw John nearly drop Kayla in an instinctive reaction to go see to the fallen man but it seemed to pass quickly and the doctor instead tightened his grip on the teenager.

“I never liked him anyway,” Lucy said, as the man gurgled his last breath. “Come on.”

She charged past and into the lead. Realising that left him to cover the rear he remained to watch behind them while John carried Kayla further along the corridor. As it turned out that meant it was him who was exactly in the line of fire when the second man came round the corner, saw the dead man and pointed an army issue SA80 A2 rifle straight at him.

His mind instantly began a whirl of the most effective evasive stratagems all the while one, slightly odd, thought drifted over the top.

Better me than John.

“Dan!” Lucy screamed, sounding convincingly scared. “Help!”

Before shooting Dan in the side.

“Run!” she said, back to her unfrightened tone.

Shouting followed them, not just from behind but from all directions. The whole building seemed to be mobilising against them and slowed by Kayla it wasn’t long until footsteps started closing in. Lucy threw him the gun and ordered him to cover them while she helped John to lift Kayla and speed their departure.

Cover them? How did-

His finger found the trigger and a he let off a quick round, the recoil jamming his arm back painfully. The pursuing footsteps backed off a little, the shouting moving further away. That was simple. And rather fun.

“Sherlock!”

He turned back and ran to keep up, following Lucy, John and Kayla along another hallway and then down a set of stairs. If he wasn’t mistaken they were somewhere near the kitchens. There would have to be a back door around here somewhere.

Shouting above him. He turned, aimed and-

“Aargh!”

Pain, white and hot, knocked him off his feet. It felt like someone had taken a sheered knife and slashed it across his side. No, not a knife, a bullet.

There was another scream, female.

“Lucy!”

“Sherlock!”

John’s voice. Then moments later John’s hands on his, but not staying, grabbing the gun. The sound of bullets above his head echoed strangely like tiny explosions at the base of his skull. He didn’t waste time looking to see whether John had met his mark. This was John. They would be fine. Everything was better with John.

He turned his head to look down at his side, twitching away his jacket to look at the wound. It didn’t seem too bad, just a flesh wound really. But there was a lot of blood. Should there be that much blood? And it hurt. God it hurt.

Then John’s hands were back, running down his side, ripping away the blood-stained shirt. Those wonderful-

“Aargh!”

What happened to the magical healing hands of a doctor? That bloody well hurt!

“You’ll be okay, Sherlock,” John said in a calm even tone that he found immediately irritating.

It was the sort of tone that was well practiced for using on weak victims. Of course he was going to be bloody okay, this was just a scratch. They needed to get out of here and would do it much better if John would stop his bloody fussing and bloody poking!

“Aargh! I’m fine!”

“Keep pressure on it,” John said pushing Sherlock’s hand onto the wound.

John pulled at his shoulder, rolling him onto his side and then over onto his knees. He hissed as the wound stretched and twisted but did his best to keep his hand pressed down to stem the blood flow as he struggled onto his feet, John’s strong hands under his arms pulling him up. Lucy was on the floor at the turn of the stairs, blood pooling around her and a neat bullet wound in her shoulder. It would match John’s, he thought a little vaguely.

“Get down to the bottom,” John said. “See if you can spot the kitchens but don’t go too far.”

That wasn’t much of a possibility, he thought as John abruptly let go and he had to scramble for the wall to keep himself upright. Still, he thought as he took a few hesitant steps down, getting steadier as he walked although still needing the wall for support, he was better off than Lucy. He could hear the woman was crying with the pain but at the same time mumbling, “Go,” “Good cover,” “Take her,” and “Please.”

At a sudden cry from Kayla he turned slightly in time to see John, gun strap now slung over his shoulder, pulling the girl away. She struggled but he held on with a tight grip that wouldn’t be broken. A grip Sherlock could testify to being very tight indeed when his own arm was seized in one of similar strength and he too was pulled down the stairwell slightly faster than was strictly pain free. John practically shoved the two of them through the door at the bottom then fired off a few shots at a few people peering over the banister at the top before grabbing Kayla again as she made a break for her sister. This time he physically threw her over his shoulder, grunting a little at the effort even as the teenager kicked, screamed and demanded to be let go of.

It hardly seemed worth all this effort if the idiotic girl didn’t want to go in the first place. But he had given his word and one never knew when it might be useful to have an ally like Lucy about. If she survived.

John’s free arm weaved across his shoulders and the three of them headed off towards the kitchens as quickly as one man carrying one struggling teenager and supporting another injured man could manage. He had been right, they weren’t that far away at all and, thankfully, by the time they reached there Kayla had stopped fighting and was merely crying instead. When John dropped her abruptly she merely took a few toddling steps away from him and sniffed miserably while the doctor launched into action, slamming the door behind them then shoving a chair under the handle.

Sherlock barely had time to take in all the details of the kitchen before a folded tea towel was being shoved into his bleeding side.

“Hold that there.”

A hand pressed to his cheek and suddenly John’s concerned eyes were gazing into his, the other man’s face just inches away from his own.

“How are you doing? Are you all right?”

He was in fact dithering between considerable amounts of pain and an adrenaline rush driving him to get the hell out of there. But the other man’s eyes were darting all over his face, – no doubt checking for pupil dilation and other medical concerns – his hand warm on his cheek, his face so full of emotion for him and his lips were so tempting that he lifted his free hand to cover John’s and kissed him.

When he pulled back John’s face was a picture of shock. The other man looked completely gobsmacked, as if Sherlock had never kissed him before.

“Not the time?” he asked.

John shook his head minutely.

There would be plenty of time later.

“Fire exit,” he said, letting his eyes roam the kitchen, taking in the angles, the layout, the storage, the day-to-day uses until, “there.” He quickly, mentally ran through the building layout he had observed on the way in. “Comes out just below street level by the main entrance.”

There was a bang at the door they had just come through.

“Right.” John took the gun in his hands. “Kayla, help him.”

The teenager was barely on her own feet, but he allowed her to tentatively put her arm around his shoulders while John dashed off towards the other side of the room. He didn’t dare put too much of his weight onto her so shoved the tea towel into her hands to push into his side – forcing her to push more firmly at her initial tentativeness – and concentrated on propelling them in John’s direction by launching off the counters and tables with his free arm. That became far more difficult when, closer to the exit, the useable flat surfaces grew further apart and the gunfire outside made concentrating on anything other than ‘John’ a secondary priority.

John reappeared in the doorway, ear bloody. John was hurt! He reached for the offending article with his free arm. John just dodged under it and used it to almost lift him off his feet as he dragged the three of them outside.

“Just ricochet, I’m fine. Come on!”

Every one of the steps just outside the fire exit jarred his side enough to make him grunt in pain. John didn’t let them stop, just kept them heading onto the street in front of the embassy, pausing only to occasionally check over his shoulder.

The road was far too open and exposed but there was a narrow back street off the side of the building that headed towards the river. He steered them in that direction trying to put as much distance between them and the embassy as possible. The gang would be out for revenge but it was unlikely that Kayla would be considered so important that her ‘rescue’ would be their top priority, and it was even less likely that they would want to risk moving out of their territory, so the further they got away the safer they would be. Except that they were going nowhere fast.

“We need a car,” John said.

Difficult. There were plenty of parked cars, but very few on the road with the keys in the ignition. Most of those had probably been joyridden away months ago. While it was unlikely that their pursuers would risk coming too far into the open against John’s proven precise gun they might easily take advantage if the three of them were trapped in a car for the indeterminable length of time it would take to hotwire a car.

Wait. There. Perfect. It was even facing the right way, an old Ford Fiesta Mark II. He steered them towards it.

“That looks like it was built in the stone age,” Kayla said.

“The eighties,” Sherlock said.

“I’ve driven much older and much worse,” John said, reaching through the window frame to open the door. “Although not without the key.”

“Ford Fiestas of this age have no immobilisers,” Sherlock said as John pushed the front seat forward and pushed Kayla into the back. “No RFID chips,” as John climbed across the front seats until he was in the driver’s seat. “And the tumbler pins were notoriously unreliable,” he said as he climbed into the passenger seat, wincing slightly as his side jarred again, and closed the door. “All adding up to the fact that you only need this,” he took his screwdriver out his pocket. “To start the ignition.”

John snatched the screwdriver, pushed it into the key slot and twisted. Sure enough the engine started after a minimum of fuss and with a clacking noise that would have worried any true owner of the vehicle. For a moment John’s face lost the serious concentrated look he had worn throughout the escape and lit up with delight.

“You’re brilliant,” John said.

Sherlock found it very hard to resist a grin when John praised him in that awed tone, so he didn’t. John put the car into gear with a disturbing screech and thunk, then sped them away.


Chapter 13



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Trillsabells

January 2012

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