A groggy mew escaped the boy's lips.
The dull ache in his head was pressing the boy's awareness forward. He reached out his senses, finding only a nauseating feeling to greet him. The Force rebounded in his head, alerting him to a singular person in the room. John's eyelids flickered.
"No, sweetheart," a soft voice whispered close to his ear. Warm breath flickered over his neck gently, fear swept through him.
Was he still with Shen?
Where was Sherlock?
How much poodoo was he in?
Had Sherlock indeed left him?
Rica was looming over him, dabbing at his forehead with a cold flannel. John slowly reached for the burned wrist with a small sob. The woman stopped to look down at the crying boy. At once she touched his cheek tenderly.
"He was heavily sedated, John. Mycroft didn't want a repeat of last time," Rica explained carefully. "They will let him in when he wakes."
"I want my master," John begged. "Please. Is he mad? Does he hate me? Does he still want me?"
"John. John, you must calm yourself. He had to be sedated to be kept away from you, honestly child," Rica was running the flannel delicately over his neck and forehead. John began squirming beneath her.
"Master's gonna be mad as poodoo," the boy whimpered.
Rica reached near the bed side table, producing to two pills and a glass of water. They were insistently pressed into the young boy's hand. John eyed them wearily, knowing they would bring him no closer to Sherlock. The light pink pills lay in his tiny palm dauntingly.
Slowly the boy raised them to his lips, and swallowed them as well as the glass of water.
The drug's effects were instantaneous, dragging him backwards into sleep once more.
"He's going to be so mad…"
"Sherlock has enough sedatives in him to subdue a small army."
Mycroft stroked his chin thoughtfully. Surely his brother would understand they could not have a repeat of the last mission. Neither Sherlock nor John could be allowed to show their obvious attachment again.
Or else the council would have to take action.
His little brother's sedation had been the only way to part the bonded pair. The knight had put up a valiant fight, but had lost to Rica's medical expertise. The woman was assuring him Sherlock would not wake for at least another few days. During which his padawan would be cared for until he was cleared back into Sherlock's custody.
The wound would take weeks to heal.
The psychological injury would take months.
Rica led the master towards his brother's room. He was eager to have the pair sorted and on their way, it seemed Sherlock would follow Lestrade's tradition and end in the healer's bay after each missions. No doubt the old master would have found that amusing.
Rica waved her hand over the control panel, springing the door open wide. Mycroft strode in, fully expecting to see a sleeping Sherlock.
But what lay before him was empty bed sheets.
He turned to the female healer slowly. "I think we should move along to the boy's room. Don't you agree?"
His outer composure was undisturbed, but inside the master seethed.
John looked so small against his pillows.
Though they had long since fallen, but tear trails still adorned the boy's flushed cheeks. His small mouth was pressed into a thin line, indicating nightmares. The blankets were balled up under his chin in a lumpy fashion, the boy was trying to make up for the lost weight of his bear.
Sherlock reached out slowly to touch his child's cheek.
How had it come to that?
John should have been the one waiting for his master to get well. Never once should the child have been placed in a healer's care. Sherlock should have known better, should have seen what others couldn't have seen.
John was paying for his master's blindness.
Scrunching his eyes together at the disturbance to his sleep, the boy squirmed uncomfortable under Sherlock soft hand. The light blue eyes fluttered open, peering up into Sherlock's grey. Once he comprehended his teacher's presences, he launched himself into the strong arms.
Sherlock held him closely.
Neither Jedi spoke, John gave the occasional sniffle and hiccup, but was otherwise silent. His face was pressed deep into his teacher's shoulder, his chest shuddered against Sherlock's muscular one. Nimble fingers were rubbing the boy's sides, assuring him of safety.
John at last spoke.
"Don't give me away."
Sherlock pressed a small kiss to the boy's temple. "Why do you assume because a mission went poorly I will give you away?"
John's sniffles turned into harsh sobs. "Because I was bad, Master. So bad."
Sherlock softly smoothed John's hair down, playing with the ends gingerly. The drugs in his system caused him to be nearly immobile.
But was not something his padawan needed to know.
"And now you must hate me. I-I showed Moriarty that you were attached, a-and I made you hurt 'cause you took my pain. I-"
Sherlock shushed him earnestly. "I do not hate you, padawan."
"But you should…" the small whimper.
Sherlock gave up trying to center himself and the boy in the Force. Instead he allowed the boy to steady himself against his master's body. Sherlock held the quivering child for an age, searching his mind palace for anything useful.
An old saying from Lestrade entered his mind.
"A child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him," Sherlock muttered softly against John's cheek. "The Force gave you to me, John. I will not toss you away."
"But I ran away! The Force didn't give me to you, Master. It was all luck"
Sherlock pulled away slowly so the boy could look deep into his eyes. "There is no such thing as luck. The universe is rarely so lazy."
John blinked out tears. "I want my bear," he whispered. "But I left him in the hut."
Sherlock pulled Mako from his belt and laid the toy in John's lap. John collected it closely to him, hiding his face in the soft fur.
"Anything else?" his master asked softly.
"I wanna go home," the boy sobbed, his body was filled with pain and exhaustion. And though he loved Rica very much, the healer's bay was cold and unwelcoming. He wanted to go back to their quarters and lay in Sherlock's bed.
As if hearing every one of his thoughts, Sherlock scooped the boy off the bed and headed for the exit. John was cradled neatly in the crook of his master's arm, his bear sat on his small chest. Sherlock was still carding his hand softly through the boy's hair.
"Can I have a blanket, Master?" John trembled as he spoke. The cold irritated his bare skin, his request was at once obliged, and Sherlock wrapped him in a soft blanket. John thanked him.
"He called me Johnny…" the hurt whisper came from the bundle.
John fell back asleep within seconds.
"Oh, little one," Sherlock murmured, firmly kissing the boy's brow.
Sherlock made his way to the door, his padawan held close.
Mycroft's voice was like steel.
"Sherlock, this is inexcusable. It is madness the attachment between you two. I must put my foot down," the master already was shoving his brother back into the room.
The voice was so quiet, it was nearly missed.
"He needs me to take him home right now. I cannot explain to you in a way you would understand, but he needs someone who is attached to him. He needs to know that he is not worthless of me, or….or he will become me."
Mycroft gaped as his brother pulled his bundle closer. With a small swallow, he shook his head. "I cannot allow-"
"Then let me take him now, and if he is not where the healer's predicted he'd be in a week take him from me!" Sherlock snapped. "He needs to be home."
Mycroft counted in his head, steadied himself, and briefly nodded his consent.
His brother nodded curtly and stalked out of the room.
Force have mercy on them both.
"Visitors may do him more harm than good."
The warning fell hard on Obi Wan's ears, causing him to regard his master nervously. His elder laid a gentle hand on his student's shoulder.
"We don't know that for sure. There is only concern because the boy hasn't been properly monitored for the last week," he explained easily. Beside him Rica shook her head.
"I warned him, I warned Sherlock to keep John in the healer's bay. The boy needed to be tracked mentally. This could set our progress with him back an age."
Obi Wan bowed his head. "Sherlock is a capable master. I trust him to know what is best for his own padawan."
Qui Gon gave a nod of approval and patted his apprentices back lightly.
With a small wave of a hand the three Jedi entered Sherlock's quarters. Qui Gon felt a small tear at his heart as the thought of who once owned the house flashed through his mind. At once he blocked out the feelings.
The young knight was laying sprawled out on the sofa, tunics removed, arms outstretched, his appearance was highly uncommon for a man who had slept enough hours. Obi Wan flinched at the sight of jagged scars that ran up and down the man's stomach and chest, but said nothing. The knight opened his left eye with a small groan.
"What in blazes-?"
How the boy sounded like Greg.
Qui Gon's musings were cut short by Rica hustling forward, eyes scanning for John.
Sherlock held up an exhausted hand. "Bathing. Finally."
The knight looked like a man who had battled with a child for hours about bathing.
"You let him bathe alone? Sherlock, his wound-"
"He's fine," Sherlock growled angrily. He shifted his back to the trio, grasping for lost sleep.
Obi Wan gasped.
"Master!" A young voice called from the bathroom. Sherlock grimaced. "You're not sleeping. You promised to sleep if I bathed!"
"We have company, ignorant brat!"
A rag, heavy with moisture flew from the bathroom door and smacked Sherlock in the face. An impressive display of the Force, but also an instigation for battle. Sherlock charged the bathroom.
A delighted squeal erupted from the closing door, along with sound of splashing. John's laugh was that of a happy, healthy, normal child. Definitely not one that had experienced torture only a week ago.
Both Jedi emerged dripping wet, John was wrapped in a towel and held in his master's arms. Sherlock gave him a small toss in the air and caught the giggling child under his arm pits. Reluctantly the boy was set down and shoved towards Rica.
"Show her your progress, little one."
John adjusted the towel around his waist and proudly stood before the doctor. She examined the three deep gashes swiftly, taking in every detail. It was clean, but would no doubt scar.
"I'm okay," he promised his friends gently. "Really, properly, okay."
"John," his master called him back to his side. The boy at once trotted over to his teacher, lifting his arms above his head demandingly. Sherlock scooped him up with one arm and threw him over his shoulder. "It is time for him to sleep. With your leave, of course, my lady."
Rica gaped at him for a moment.
The boy was the picture of happiness.
"Put me down!" the boy whined mockingly. "Master! Master! I wanna say goodnight to Benke."
"I am not hindering your vocals, young one. Say goodnight if you wish."
John administered sharp tugs to his master's ear until he was jostled roughly. The boy giggled and swatted Sherlock's head light heartedly.
"G'night, Benke! Master Qui Gon! Master Rica!" The child waved happily with each name. He was put to bed in Sherlock's room, tucked under several blankets, and given a small glass of water as well as his medicine. His face fell momentarily when Sherlock exited the room.
"I'll be right in," the knight said with an eye roll. John stuck out his tongue and snuggled deeper in the blankets.
Sherlock slid the door shut silently.
"Satisfied," he said darkly.
"I never said you were incapable of taking him early," Rica snapped.
"No. But you did advise my brother against it."
"Yes, I did. For John's healthy-"
"For the health of his body, not his sanity," Sherlock scowled. "You of all people should understand why he had to go with me."
"No. I don't. We didn't all get masters like Lestrade, Sherlock!"
"That wasn't what I meant, don't be rash," the knight's face was tired, exhausted. Qui Gon stepped in to stop the fighting pair when Sherlock shook his head. "What did you want most of all at the end of those whippings? Because it wasn't to be stuffed in a hospital bed and forcibly separated from the people you cared for. John need to be here to heal. He had to know that no one was angry at him, that no one hated him, or was going to punish him again. He had to know that he was a good boy, Rica."
Qui Gon took Rica's shoulder gently. "It no longer matters what occurred in the past, young one. The most important in thing is that John is healing at a quickened rate."
The two scolded knights nodded slowly.
Obi Wan glanced at his master in awe, but remained silent.
Sherlock sighed heavily. "I am cutting this meeting short. My padawan needs to sleep, so do I." A tired hand was waved in dismissal, and the knight made his way to his room. Throwing himself on the bed, he trusted the other's to show themselves out.
John was under his arm in a second.
"I do feel better, Master," his child assured.
Qui Gon smiled affectionately at the pair as he shepherded the others out.
I see them.