7


"Sherlock, go to sleep."

Sherlock stared at the clues before him. They pointed to something he wasn't prepared to unveil just yet.

That was John's voice, but he'd gone to sleep ages ago. Now it was just his mind playing tricks on him. Now it was just himself…against himself.

Those conversations never ended well.

"Oh, shut it. You know how these things end. I fight with you, you fight with me, we both give in."

"As I'm familiar…you'll be dying at the end of this one."

Sherlock sat still for a moment, eyebrows raising and then lowering just as fast. No longer, was this John's voice tampering with his research, but a colder voice. Monotone and matter of fact, and most certainly not a voice he had stored in his memory bank.

He turned around, slowly, looking out of the corner of his eyes once he had his chin on his shoulder. There, standing in the middle of the living room was a figure. Just as quick as he'd seen the eyeless figure, slumped over and touching the ceiling, it disappeared.

Sherlock turned back around, swallowing with his eyes wide, he put a hand to his head.

Static.

"No, no. Not now."

He gasped and swallowed.

He looked to his research, hands shaking as he reached out before him, trying to gather it up to find some closure in the oncoming panic that was slowly drowning him.

Static filled his ears, white noise and whispers he couldn't make out. In slow waves, buzzing and sharp whispers overtook his senses. Blinding him in a blaze of white rage, he closed his eyes and felt himself slowly collapse, red stained his hands from where he'd wiped his hand beneath his nose.

He thought it was just sweat.

Thought it was just sweat.

"Thought it was just…"

Darkness.


Sticky crusts of brown covered his hands and caked the rims of his nostrils, and when he tried to breathe, the flakes tickled his nostrils.

His hands shook.

His body quivered in the bed.

His cheeks were wet, and his clothes were damp. A thin sheet of frost coated his purple button-up, and maybe his skin just as well.

He gasped in a breath of frozen air, feeling every tissue in his body turn cold along with the breath of air. "Sh-Sh-Shit."

He couldn't remember the last time he'd spat profanity, but his mind was sluggish. More so than he'd ever experienced. His vision was doubled. And he was frozen down to his very core.

He opened his eyes, his frozen eyelashes parted hesitantly and he looked down at his fetal position body in the a blanket of leaves and hard mud.

'Get yourself together.'

Outside. Approximately four in the morning. Coagulation state of blood means at the least...thirty-five hours...but it was more like fifty-five hours.

What was the last thing he remembered?

Faceless man. Research. Flat.

His eyes widened.

How did he?

He slowly, vibrations not ceasing even with the extra adrenaline coursing through his body, pushed himself upwards and shakily got to his feet.

Unsuccessful at first, he balanced himself against a sticky tree and looked into the sickly yellow light coming from the grey sun. Flies swarmed above the ground and Sherlock thought he might puke at the sight.

He was feeling nauseous and anything moving just made it worse.

"Hello?" He called quietly at first, gasping for air. "Hello?" He shouted louder this time and when no answer he came, he took a deep breath, bowing his head.

"Hello! Help, p-please!"


"No advancements, John." Lestrade answered before the man could even ask.

John blinked, sitting back down into the chair. He'd moved past anger and resolved to confusion. Pictures strewn across the flat, and two days later- still no Sherlock.

"Did you call.."

"Well, yes. But you know that if he did know, he would've just called us anyway. Before you even knew he was gone. You know that." Lestrade assured from across his desk, hand wrapped around the back of his neck, "Mycroft knows what hour Sherlock steps outside his flat every morning for the past three months, but never saw him leave the flat. Honest to God we're looking, John. We're doing everything we can. Looking out in the woods near Pinkton Creek again…" Lestrade gave a sigh, "Was just heading out myself. Dunno if you'd want to..?"

"You know I will."

"I know."

There was a flat silence between them and John shook his head, "I don't…you know something bad must've…" John ate his following words, swallowing the rest of his sentence.

"If Mycroft doesn't know, you mean."

"It's…It's not good if he doesn't know."

"Unless…" Leastrade began.

John's eyes turned to Lestrade's, flickering with the smallest glint of hope in his eyes, "Lest…?"

"Lest Mycroft does know and he's got Sherlo-…or he's got him. I don't know, could go either way with those two…"

"I doubt it. I doubt it, very seriously…" John repeated, nodding to himself to assure himself he was correct, "I doubt it."


Lestarde shivered beneath his trench coat, but his face was as hard as the ground, continuing on. A flashlight in one hand, but light was filtering through the trees and soon he wouldn't need it.

A wind whispered through the woods and a hundred flashlights flickered through the trees.

"Hello...?"

A faint whisper met John's ears and he jumped at the voice.

"What?" Lestrade began.

"Listen." John replied, putting a finger to his mouth, eyes scrutinizing every inch of the forest ground for tracks.

"Help...please..." Faint enough to pass it off as the wind, Lestrade's eyes widened and nodded to keep going.

"He's here." John replied with enough gumption to bet his life savings- if he had any.

"We have to think reasonably about this-" Sally began, a softer tone that usual, but all her niceties were reserved for John today- she may not understand what freakish bond the two had, but she'd never seen loyalty like that in a person, and especially not in Sherlock when this sort of scene was on the reversal as she'd got to see perhaps only once. Blood brothers never fit a relationship so well in her mind.

She wasn't sure if each of them had siblings, but she assumed Sherlock was an only child by the bratty egotistical bouts of showboating he tended to have, however, even if they did, she was sure that they considered each other siblings in the privacy of their own mind-sect.

She was wary if Sherlock would, even in privacy. He'd probably come to a satisfying conclusion in his head that John was a friend and the best friend he ever had, but in the very back of his brain where human emotion lied dormant, a small voice thought 'brother' everytime he saw him.

For a while, he thought maybe they were dating- and she'd come up with some warped ideas of why John would ever date a man like Sherlock. She concocted the idea that Sherlock was a fierce masochist at home, and John enjoyed the subservience of their role-play perhaps. She regretted that thought now, knowing better than to assume those things from now on.

It was obvious by this point that John's loyalty had nothing to do with good and free sex from a detective. It had to do with the brotherly bonds they shared that she could never guess why they had, but was obvious to anyone who could be there at a time like this.

"I am thinking reasonably, this is Sherlock we're talking about. He could be anywhere." John replied to Sally swiftly, leading up their trio quickly.

"Help.." The voice was louder but barely above a whisper and they'd left the rest of the search party in the dust, going deeper into the snow blanketed forest, Sherlock's pleas for help got more desperate, cracked and pitiful.

"Help...somebody...?"

"Sherlock!"

"...John?"

They started to run in the direction of the voice.

"Sherlock where are you?"

"Here. Here. Over..." His voice cut off with a few sputtering coughs.

They quickened their pace.

"Sherlock?"

There was silence now.

"Damn it..." John whispered.

"Sherlock!" Lestrade yelled.

After a moment or two, a weak voice called.

"No..you brought him too...?"

With this, they set foot again, quicker.

"Don't stop talking Sherlock! Are you standing? Are you sitting?"

"...I-I don't know..."

Him? Sherlock? Not have the answers? Inconceivable.

"It's...It's alright, are you numb?"

"Intolerably.."

"I think I see you, Sherlock! Do you see me?"

"Unless.."

"Unless?"

"Unless your him."

"No, no Sherlock, it's me. John. I see you, Sherlock. That's you."

John watched at Sherlock made eye contact, released a breath of warm air and slumped against the side of a tree, his skin red and purple across his cheek. His shivering was obviously due to hypothermia, and he begun to rapidly finger the buttons on his crinkled button-up as John came to his side.

"No, none of that-..Sherlock stop that."

"What in God's name..."

"It's normal...he has hypothermia, and you see.." John struggled with his words as he combated Sherlock's hands against his trench coat and button up shirt. "...this isn't unusual with hypothermia. His brain is tricking him into believing he's hot."

Sally rounded up behind Sherlock, placing a hand on his quivering and frost coated shoulder, "Your own brain is tricking you, Sherlock Holmes. Don't you realize it? You're sinking to our level." Donovan bit in hopes that the harsh message would strike him somewhere in his fog-ridden brain.

He hesitantly lowered his hands.

"Who did this, Sherlock? What happened? Did someone kidnap you...did you get lost out here?" Lestrade begun, pushing him gently forward, bringing a radio to his mouth.

Sherlock shook his head, "I went will-willin-willingly."

"With who? Why?"

"I...d-d-d..."

He shook his head and Lestrade dropped the subject quickly, clicking the radio and clearing his throat. "Detective Inspector Lestrade. We've located Sherlock Holmes. He's freezing and not in good condition."

He released the button.

A reply came back instantly.

"Ambulance on stand-by."