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Title: Everything You Know I Haven't Got, Part 4
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
Read Part 3

John braced himself on the ceramic sink and watched the water circle the drain and disappear. Now and then drops that he'd splashed on his face would fall and join the exiting flow. He had scrubbed his hands and forearms to a bright, raw pink, but he fancied that Greg Lestrade's blood and vomit continued to cling to him, as tenacious as the man himself.

Evidence that the recent hours were reality rather than nightmare.

They would, of course, transform into nightmare soon enough. John had no doubt that his subconscious had just added several new terrors to its already impressive repertoire, and they would revisit him when the nights were darkest and he was most alone.

He rolled his shoulders and stretched his neck as he sought to fit the sharp-edged fragments of the early morning together into something like a linear narrative.

He recalled hearing gunfire and shouting. He'd thrown himself forward to shield Lestrade at the same time he'd drawn his pistol. One of Mycroft's people had thought quickly enough to disengage the floodlight trained on them; that had made them far less of an easy target, but it also had left them smothered in profound darkness.

He recalled the muffled impact as another team member had met the immovable object of Mycroft Holmes and failed to guide his long form into a protective crouch. He recalled the hush of Mycroft's call for a report and the coldness of his instructions to use whatever force was necessary to contain the threat.

Most clearly of all, John recalled a choked sound of distress and "Godhelpme," the brutal retching as Lestrade once again had been sick, the feel of convulsions under his night-blind hands as that tortured body had tried to wrench itself apart.

After that, Lestrade could not be coaxed back to proper awareness. The only coherent words he'd spoken were a weak, "Notyourfault, John... 'msorry." John couldn't even be sure for what failure Lestrade was extending pardon or holding himself accountable.

John had answered with his heart: "It's not your fault either, Greg. None of it. And I'm sorry, too. Now stay with me, all right? Don't you dare give up now."

More shouts and another volley of gunfire had echoed across the countryside, devoid of any clues as to distance or direction. Then the thunder of an approaching helicopter had drowned all other noise. John's entire universe had collapsed to the scale of Lestrade's next heartbeat, next breath, next second of life.

Now John stared into the draining water and felt... nothing. And far too much.

It took him a moment – or was it minutes? – to realise that another man had entered the lavatory. John looked up into the mirror and found Mycroft's reflection returning his gaze.

"Is there news?" John asked as he turned off the tap.

"No, he's still in surgery," Mycroft said, and he held out a neatly stacked bundle. "My personal assistant took the liberty of visiting your new flat. She thought you might appreciate a change of clothing."

John glanced down at himself and grimaced. "Oh, God, yes. Ta very much."

He didn't question how Mycroft already appeared freshly shaved, washed, and dressed in what was obviously a newly-laundered suit. John didn't think he could handle the larger mysteries of the universe just then.

Anthea's choices for him brought an unexpected tightness to John's throat. His earth-toned plaid shirt, well-worn jeans, and oatmeal jumper: they were among his favourites, his wardrobe's equivalent of "comfort food." Somehow, she'd known.

"That was most kind of her," he added, touched.

"She said wasn't paid enough to go through your pants," Mycroft said with a cryptic non-smile of the Mona Lisa sort. "Feel free to take that however you choose."

"Um." John blinked. "Right."

He cleared his throat and deposited the clothes on the counter.

"I believe I owe some of your people an apology," he began.

Mycroft turned his head on one side in mute enquiry.

"On the helicopter. I think for a time things were... a bit not good." He turned, clasped his now-steady hands behind his back, and met Mycroft's eyes as if he were facing a firing squad. "You asked me to come with you because you thought I could help, but instead I put everyone in danger."

"I asked you to come with me because I believed you could save Greg Lestrade's life," Mycroft returned. "And you did."

"What I mean is—"

"John. Do give me and mine some credit." Mycroft peered down his nose at him as he tapped the tip of his umbrella on the tile floor. "You'd been taken in the midnight hours to an unfamiliar outdoor location, only to be rescued from gunfire via medical transport, complete with a critically wounded patient under your care; given your background and experience, some disorientation was only to be expected."

He punctuated his words with pursed lips. "It mattered not one whit whether you thought the helicopter was headed for London or Kandahar; what mattered was that you knew who Lestrade was and what treatment he required. Which you did. At all times.

"If you'd presented a danger, you can be assured that my professionals would've handled it. On the contrary, according to the reports I received, they followed your lead because your expertise and abilities quite obviously exceeded their own. They credit your singular skill as the sole reason Lestrade arrived here alive. As do I."

Turning his face away as if in revulsion, Mycroft added, "Now do get out of those clothes. You look like a butcher escaped from a nineteenth-century penny dreadful."

John swallowed, absorbing the compliment hidden inside the scolding.

"Yeah, well," he mumbled as he peeled off his shirt, "I knew it wasn't a proper flashback. Not enough corpses."

Eyes primly averted, Mycroft rocked in his Italian shoes. "Oh, but there are corpses at the end of this story, John." His words were toneless and precisely enunciated. "However you're not the one responsible for them, in any sense of the term."

Stripped to his vest, John found new crimson stains on his skin that wanted cleaning. "What the hell happened out there?"

Mycroft didn't answer immediately. "The two youngest Carlsons – the ones you saw on the film – were given Lestrade's 'hit' as a kind of coming-of-age test. Which, it goes without saying, they spectacularly failed. The younger of the two desired a trophy of his first kill, but the syndicate denied him. It's not part of the Carlson signature, he was told; for that matter, carving bits off of Lestrade might've caused him to bleed out too quickly and ruin the overall effect."

John grimaced, stepping out of his soiled jeans.

"The gunfire you heard was the two of them returning to the scene against orders to collect that memento. And encountering our resistance." Mycroft swivelled, and his eyes found John's in the mirror. "The younger had every intention of performing an amateur castration on Lestrade in order to have a souvenir fit to keep in a jar. As proof of his own criminal prowess."

"Dear God." John shuddered. "They admitted it?"

Mycroft's face was blank. "Let's just say the older of the two survived his compatriot and partner in crime by several very informative minutes."

John closed his eyes as he shrugged into his jumper.

For some moments they said nothing.

"If you're readying some lecture about due process, about the ethics of my serving as judge and jury and executioner, please unburden yourself now." Mycroft inspected his nails. "I expect I'll be busy later."

"How old were they?" John asked.

"Does it matter?"

"I'd like to know."

"The law calls them minors, though only just. Their family hoped to call them men." In a softer voice, yet still without inflection, "I think we would agree they were old enough to know not to stab and whip and beat and kick a man to the point of death."

"Yes," John said. He opened his mouth, closed it again, and then repeated, "Yes."

He stared at the haphazard pile of sodden clothing he'd created.

"Some of the bravest people I've ever met," John said haltingly after a time, "have put their lives on the line all over the world to fight for the rule of law. To fight against men who've wielded the kind of arbitrary and unaccountable power you seem to have. Men who kidnap. Interrogate. Make people disappear."

He shook his head, still studying the blood-soaked fabric at his feet. "I'm not always comfortable with what you do, and I'm not sure I'll ever be. But I know without a doubt that due process is currently failing a truly good man, and today you saved him." John gave a noncommittal huff. "God knows I'm not going to lose any sleep over the bloody Carlsons. I was prepared to shoot them myself to defend us."

Crouching to gather his clothes, he ran a hand over his face. "Y'know, I honestly didn't get the fact you two were 'allies.'" He gave the word ironic weight and quotation marks with his fingers. "You and Greg."

"I'm sorry if you think less of him now." John recognised Mycroft's biting tone from former petty squabbles with Sherlock.

"No, I don't," John said quietly. "I think more of you, actually."

Mycroft made no reply.

When John rose, Mycroft glanced at the cast-off clothing and then threw a pointed look toward an oversized rubbish bin. With a nod, John binned the pile.

"Dare I ask where we are?" John said. "I have no idea. This doesn't look like any hospital I've ever seen in London. Or, you know, anywhere."

"It's somewhere safe," Mycroft said. "Leave it at that for the present."

"And you'd stake your life on that? That it's safe?"

"My life and yours. And Lestrade's." Mycroft was drawing intricate, invisible patterns on the tiles with the tip of his umbrella.

"For how long?"

"As long as needed."

"And you said you didn't have unlimited resources."

"I don't." A brief Cheshire-Cat grin. "There are times, however, when I have access to those who do."

John snorted. Then he sobered.

"It was a very close thing, Mycroft. He nearly haemorrhaged to death. One organ ruptured, two more punctured. A man doesn't heal from that overnight. And his hands: he'll be helpless until his fingers heal. That won't only be a horror all its own for a man as self-sufficient as Greg; it will be dangerous. He'll be more vulnerable than he's ever been."

"Mmmm, my concerns exactly." Mycroft continued working his umbrella along the tiles. "Suitable arrangements will have to be made.

"For example" – there was a studied nonchalance to Mycroft's words – "I have a spare room that would be available for the short term, in a home well guarded around the clock by trained security forces. More than one room, as a matter of fact, should Lestrade need someone with medical expertise nearby for those first critical weeks after he's been released, someone who wasn't… settled… elsewhere. I may not be in London or even in the country the entire time, but I wouldn't need to be, would I?"

"I'll – right, yes," John managed. "An arrangement like that... it might be workable. In the short term. Um. Something to keep in mind."

"Yes, do that."

"And what happens next? With the Yard's investigation? His hearing?"

"A bridge we will cross when we must. Perhaps we can use this attack as leverage against the Met. Perhaps new evidence will come to light before the question is ripe. Or perhaps it would be safer for all concerned if the wider world, temporarily at least, believed that Greg Lestrade perished at the Carlsons' hands."

"What? Fake his own death?" John was shocked at the thought.

An elegant shrug. "It's been done." Then, with a smirk, "Tedious man that he is, Lestrade no doubt will want to be a part of any discussion about the details of his future."

"How dare he."

After a beat, John added, "Mycroft, what I said earlier, when you came to the flat, about not being your minion anymore–"

"You've never been my minion, John. I'm keenly aware of the fact." Mycroft ceased his invisible etching. As John finger-combed his hair into order before the mirror, the elder Holmes lurked by the wall like a disconcertingly benevolent gargoyle, hands folded before him and anchored on the handle of his umbrella.

"Right. Well. If you call on me in the future, that is, in the long term..." He sighed. "I won't shut the door in your face. At least without hearing you out first. But save the showing-up-on-my-doorstep routine for true emergencies, like this one." He turned, crossed his arms, and thrust out his chin. "Otherwise, you can just phone me. On my phone."

Mycroft nodded. "Understood."


In the corner of the room, Mycroft Holmes angled his BlackBerry just so, took a digital photo, and sent it on its circuitous and encrypted way. The number to which he forwarded the image would be changed within the next thirty-six hours; the recipient it represented was identified only by the title "Unknown Caller" in Mycroft's list of contacts.

The picture he'd taken revealed two men. Ordinary. Dull. Altogether remarkable.

The one reclined in the bed was grey-faced and silver-haired and attached to an alarming number of tubes and wires, but he was breathing on his own, finally in recovery after the last of a marathon of surgeries. The other man curled in a chair by his side, head tilted back and mouth hanging open in exhausted sleep.

The photo offered proof of life.

Vulnerable life. Life currently in Mycroft's charge.

The phone vibrated in Mycroft's hand. The text read, "The room is secure?"

Mycroft typed, "My own handpicked guards stand watch. Only MH, MrsH & a few of my staff know who is here. When he can be moved safely, they'll both be taken to a secure location."

John's head shifted slightly and found another position. The fingers on his left hand flexed open and then closed into a fist. His snores devolved into snuffles.

Another text followed: "I will send the Carlsons a message."

"I was under the impression I already had," Mycroft replied.

"It's worth repeating," came the response.

Lestrade made a soft growl of complaint and frowned in what was obviously less-than-peaceful slumber, rocking a heavily-bandaged hand.

Mycroft stepped closer to the bed and rested his fingertips on the blanket beside Lestrade's feet. He remained frozen there until the man sighed and descended back into drugged oblivion.

"The more names you add to your list, the longer you delay your return," Mycroft noted in his next message. "I will handle this." He couldn't resist adding, "It's not always about you."

The reply was abrupt: "Yes it is."

Attached to this text was a grainy photo obviously taken from a distance as daylight surrendered to dusk. Mycroft narrowed his eyes. The older of the two men on the hotel balcony, stocky and florid-faced and cradling a bottle between meaty hands, was Jay Carlson, the patriarch of the Carlson clan.

The slender man at his side leaning a hip against the railing was at least a generation younger, with a mild, boyish face that easily could have shifted from bland to quite fetching, given the right context. His slight smile in the picture, however, was as unsettling as his dark eyes were cold. Mycroft knew this man used many names. One was Sebastian Moran.

"I see," Mycroft typed, after a heartbeat's pause at the revelation. "Do as you will. You always do anyway. But be careful."

"You should worry about L & J. I'm holding you responsible for their safety."

Mycroft glanced up at the two. They held rare distinctions, these empty-handed refugees from the natural disaster known as Jim Moriarty, whether they knew it or not. They had Sherlock's true concern, and they had Mycroft's absolute trust.

Of course, they had paid for both. Dearly and repeatedly. Greg Lestrade had nearly given his life's blood this day.

Mycroft's word – in this case at least – was his bond. He texted, "I will."

And he would. Constantly.

They were, after all, his allies.


Note: The title refers to the lyrics "If I could only give you everything/You know I haven't got./I couldn't have one conversation/If it wasn't for the lies,/And still I ought to tell you everything..." from the song "Bad Reputation" by Freedy Johnston, which I find very evocative of the mood of the Great Hiatus.

Vital Stats: Originally written in January 2013.

Originally written for this prompt at [ profile] sherlockbbc_fic.
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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

April 2017


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