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Title: Everything You Know I Haven't Got, Part 3
Author: Morgan Stuart
Fandom: Sherlock
Disclaimer: This universe does not belong to me; I'm just an appreciative visitor. I make no profit from this fan work.
Description: When the media declares open season on Greg Lestrade, the hunt begins.
Historian's Note: This takes place during the Great Hiatus.
Warnings (Highlight to Read): Assumed character death and, in later segments, depictions of violence, torture, attempted murder, and injuries
Read Part 1
Read Part 2



John lost track of time and distance as they put London behind them. The sedan turned from one less-travelled road to another. Rolling fields replaced city blocks.

The late night died, and early morning was born.

"You trust that source of yours?" John's question sounded overly loud in the dense silence that had grown between the two of them, and he flinched at it. "Because if we're mucking about in the arse-end of nowhere and Greg's back in London–"

"I trust my source," Mycroft confirmed, intent on his phone.

John pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes. "And we have some hope that 'disposed of' doesn't mean 'buried in a shallow grave' or 'dismembered and scattered' because…?"

"Because one of the signatures of a Carlson syndicate hit, when the situation has allowed for it, is brutality." After a beat, Mycroft clarified, "That is, of the 'an-autopsy-will-confirm-it-took-quite-a-very-long-time-to-die' variety."

And that was the good news. "Right."

Worry was pointless, and John knew it. There was nothing he could do to be of help at this moment. But try as he might, he couldn't pull his old soldier's trick of having a quick kip before the action, the better to possess ready energy when it was most needed. He could find no calm. Every time he closed his eyes, the footage of Lestrade's torment replayed in full.

And then his imagination extrapolated from there…

They stopped beside what was more of an overgrown trail than a proper rural lane. Within minutes the woman John knew as Anthea joined them. It was a testament to the primal instincts of the human species that, despite John's bone-deep concern for Lestrade, his brain recorded a picture of the woman – black-clad and aglow in their headlights, the very image of Emma Peel reborn – for his future (and very private) reference.

While John inhaled the energy bar and bottled water Anthea provided, she made her report to Mycroft. The elder Holmes nodded, consulting both his BlackBerry and hers, standing in passive acceptance as she wound a heavy scarf about his neck and tucked a silver flask into the breast pocket of his suit jacket.

The conference between the two was brief. Upon its conclusion, both vehicles made their way – maddeningly slowly, without lights – onto what appeared to be a private family farm, finally ending their journey far from any buildings, beneath a low huddle of trees.

The two teams that met them there were small in number but obviously elite, outfitted not only with state-of-the-art weapons but also the finest night-vision and heat-seeking gear. After swift consultation with Mycroft, paired sweepers in all-terrain vehicles deployed in a search pattern designed to cover the many acres as efficiently as possible.

John fretted.

He appreciated that it was a wise tactical decision for him to wait for the scouting parties to do their work, to be centrally located when (not if) the call came for medical assistance. But he needed to be doing something, anything, in the interim, or he'd go mad.

With his medical kit strapped to his body and his pistol tucked into his jeans, he played the torch he'd been given over the uneven terrain and paced back and forth. Each pass took him farther from the elegant vehicles incongruously parked in the early-winter tangle of neglected pastureland, farther from the hushed sounds of the makeshift operations base of those dedicated to the hope that they might rescue a living person rather than discover a cooling corpse.

That was how he heard it.

Ragged and pitifully faint. Exactly what one would expect from a desperately wounded man.

John rushed back to Mycroft.

"A distress signal," he panted. "Weak. Something striking metal. A dull sound."

Mycroft considered him. "John, the countryside is littered with metal in various states of disrepair, and sounds carry. A rusting piece of farm equip–"

"No, no, you don't understand. It wasn't random; it was Morse code. And I'm going."

He didn't wait for a reply. Scrambling down the slope and over the next rise, he doggedly struggled around twisted roots and over loose rocks, straining to locate the source of the summons.

Each time the signal faltered, he muttered, "C'mon, Greg. One more time," and he went still until the sound was repeated.

His trek ended in a shallow depression at the base of a small ridge. At first glance, the spot appeared to be a hollow where dried leaves, broken branches, and other debris blown by the wind and washed by the rain had gathered naturally over the course of the season. He waded into them with both arms swinging and abruptly struck the decaying hulk of an aged automobile.

Before John could send up an alert, one of Mycroft's men materialised at his side, fitting a prise bar to force open the boot of the vehicle.

"Please, God," John breathed. "Please."

***

Bless him, Greg already had provided the most crucial information John required. He was alive. He was conscious. He was lucid and obstinate enough to spend his remaining strength signalling for help that he believed wasn't coming.

And that strength was waning fast.

The boot lid groaned its complaint and then surrendered to the prise bar.

For the space of a heartbeat, what John saw made no sense to him. Then he understood in part what Mycroft had meant in describing the Carlsons' "it-took-quite-a-very-long-time-to-die" method of operation. The mineral-wool matting was excellent insulation; a body beneath it would not lose heat quickly.

As a blanket, it was comfortless to the point of cruelty.

"Sir, let me," said the team member, indicating his well-protected hands and forearms, and he peeled back the abrasive layer with deft grace.

John began a steady litany, knowing the words had their own job to do even as they bought him time to assess his patient: "Greg, it's John. John Watson. I'm here with Mycroft Holmes. Help's on the way. Hold on, mate. It's over."

As his torch light roamed over Lestrade's brutalised body, John ruthlessly forced down the anguished OhJesusGod clawing its way up his chest and locked it away for a later time.

Hoping to convey his identity through touch alone, he rested his fingers lightly on the crown of Lestrade's head.

"I'm going to cut this blindfold off now, all right?"

"John?" A dry husk of a croak. A shallow rasp of breath. "John. Yeah."

John manoeuvred his kit for easy access, thankful that its contents were so familiar that he could locate most by touch alone. He swiftly found the scissors and used them.

Gore pasted the blindfold's fabric to the lacerated face, and John worked it free with care. "I need more light," he called over his shoulder, before saying to Lestrade, steadily and evenly, "Quick thinking, using Morse code. Led us straight to you."

"Tryin'… stay'wake... stayfocuss'd…" Each syllable required considerable effort, John could tell, as Lestrade marshalled the shredded remains of his voice and forced them past uncooperative lips. "Carlsons, John. Mightbenear."

"Mycroft reckoned it was them. His teams are here, armed to the teeth."

And speaking of Mycroft's teams, a woman began making quick work of assembling a portable floodlight to illumine the interior of the boot.

John peeled the last of the blindfold from Lestrade's one properly visible eye and said, "Here's the torch, just for a half a mo'–"

"Knowthedrill…" Lestrade flinched and gasped at the sudden brightness of John's light. "'Mnotconcuss'd. Theywantedme. Aware."

And that lone, dark eye was indeed aware, almost disconcertingly so. John accepted the fierce sensibleness he found there, shining through clouds of suffering, like the gift that it was.

They would deal honestly together. They both knew this situation was dire.

"So, Mr I-Know-The-Drill, what's first? Let's start with where this fresh blood's coming from." There was so much of it, and Lestrade's vital signs told John nothing he particularly wanted to hear.

"Belly. Knife. Coupletimesdunno." That explained the coil of his foetal position, tighter even than the close confines of the boot required. "Shallow'nough… totaketime… butJesusithurts."

"Right. I want to keep you as still as possible until transport arrives, but we need to get pressure on those wounds." As John located bandages, he asked, "What else do I need to know? What's most urgent?"

Blistered burns rippled as Lestrade's throat worked, swallowing.

"Ribs'r'dodgy… leftside. Can'tbreathedeep."

"I think maybe we can ease that a bit by shifting your arm, once the tie's off. And we'll need to be very careful when we move you." After a few seconds more, "Okay, I want you to hold your position, and I'll fit these bandages in tight. Hang on, Greg."

As John wedged the compress between Lestrade's thighs and abdomen, the wounded man groaned.

John needed another hand, possibly two.

"Allow me, Doctor," came a somewhat breathless voice. "A medical helicopter is en route. Fifteen minutes." Long fingers joined John's on the bandages and pressed firmly.

Lestrade groaned again, but this time around a name: "Mycroft." Then, badly slurred, "Getyourrrhandsssdirty."

"I'm glad you appreciate my sacrifice," Mycroft said, bending low. "Do put some effort into making it worthwhile."

John spared Mycroft a glance – the elder Holmes looked just as dishevelled and human as any middle-aged man of inaction should've done who'd fought his way over unfamiliar terrain in the middle of the night in a bespoke suit and Italian shoes – and then he returned to his labours, both grateful and bemused.

The zip tie around Lestrade's ankles parted under John's knife with a snap. Severing its mate, which bound Lestrade's wrists behind his back, was a more delicate operation, as most of the man's fingers were broken and several had been stripped of their nails. John eased the useless hands into the least awkward positions possible, one at Lestrade's back, one at his chest.

Leaving Lestrade naked, a grotesque patchwork of blood and bruises, was the Carlsons' parting insult. John unpacked a small shock blanket and folded it around his patient's torso. As John made to unstrap his kit, he found that Mycroft was a step ahead of him.

"Really, John, that jacket is all but useless. Assist me here." Mycroft shrugged an arm out of his long wool coat, and John helped him with the rest.

"Ta," John said. He arranged the added layer over Lestrade, who gave a hoarse moan of appreciation for the warmth.

As they waited, John did what he could do, exposing one section of Lestrade's body at a time. And as he worked over the man, he saw, and he observed.

He deduced.

Lestrade had inflicted the ugly gash along his bearded jaw himself, sawing his face against the jagged innards of the boot in order to slice through the cloth that gagged him. He'd obviously been violently sick – one cheek now rested in the congealing, blood-streaked puddle – but not before he'd managed to cut the gag free. He'd saved himself from asphyxiating on his own vomit by his quick thinking.

He'd achieved the dull thumping sound John heard by striking his heels against the hollow interior of the boot where it met the back column of the passenger seat. Lestrade's heels were one of the only points on his body that could've withstood such repeated use; not even the soles of his feet had escaped the Carlsons' brutality. How long he had shifted and struggled to find the angle and motion necessary to produce a noise that carried, John couldn't imagine.

John felt a fellow soldier's admiration – after all, Lestrade was also a veteran, albeit of a different battlefield – for how the man had kept his wits and training about him, fighting a solitary campaign against despair and agony there in the darkness. All with no expectation that a living soul would ever learn of his valour.

As if on cue, Lestrade ground out, "Thought… I'ddieherean'… No one. Wouldknow."

His admission was as steady as his broken voice could make it. It wasn't meant only for John.

"Indeed," Mycroft said in a low and confidential tone. "But as I believe we've already established, Greg, you're something of an idiot."

A ripple ran through Lestrade, joined by a wet-ugly-frothing hiss of air between his teeth. A whine of pain, also a genuine laugh.

A wave of affection washed over John. In its wake came a scalding sense of yearning for something he'd known and treasured. And lost.

Then there was gunfire and shouting and no time at all for memories.


END OF PART 3
TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 4
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"To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty."
- H.P. Lovecraft, 1921

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