Sherlock lay completely still, unable to find the will to even try to move a finger. Silent tears were running down his cheeks, leaving a slightly burning sensation on their trails. He would die – the man hadn't left any doubts about it.
Never in his life had he felt such paralysing fear and physical as well as emotional pain. Due to the fact that he frequently managed to insult people with his deduction skills and knowledge of everything, although in many cases it wasn't on purpose, people tended to forget that, after all, he was just a vulnerable ten-year-old. It wasn't that he didn't like to be [taken for older] but he sometimes did need the affirmation of his family and the cosiness of a reassuring motherly embrace just like any other child. In this particular moment, he would have given everything for his mother's or Mycroft's presence and a tight hug from one of them.
Mycroft. His face appeared in front of Sherlock's inner eye, displaying his typical mask-like smile. Mycroft could be cold as ice, or so it seemed to those who didn't really know him. Sherlock's older brother never missed a moment to show him how little and how stupid he was compared to him, but he also never missed a moment to protect him if necessary. More than once had he helped him out of tricky or even dangerous situations, from Sherlock having climbed up trees that he couldn't get back down later, to nursing him after a backfiring experiment about the taste of apple-juice in different stages of fermentation, which had left him utterly drunk and miserably sick. Knowing that their father would have been furious, Mycroft had locked Sherlock and himself in his room and had stayed with him, emptied the buckets and helped him change his clothes and linen from time to time until he had recovered from the alcohol poisoning he had inflicted on himself.
Sherlock felt a ridiculous urge to laugh. He had in fact been stupid with regard to the experiment; however, that wouldn't happen to him again. He had also felt embarrassed and surprised about his brother's loyalty towards him. All of a sudden the laughter growing in Sherlock's guts turned into a lump. Mycroft. He would never see him again.
The narrowness in Sherlock's throat grew; and with it the awareness of his humiliating and hopeless situation and the fact that this time Mycroft would not be able to save him. Sobs were taking control over him, shaking his body violently.
"Help me, Mycroft!" he whispered between ragged breaths.
For an endless time the man didn't return and Sherlock was already wondering if he had already been left to die. However, the man had said he would be tortured, so it was unlikely that he wouldn't return. The boy didn't know which one was the better prospect. Either way, he would die.
He had absolutely no feeling of time, drifting into moments of restless sleep or unconsciousness from time to time. He was dirty, having wet himself, which he felt and smelled. The thought of it made his face blush, but he tried to push it away as he didn't have a choice. He shouldn't worry too much anyway – death wasn't just as in the movies, closing the eyes and stopping breathing. He knew that all muscles, including the sphincter, were released in the moment of death. And still, he wasn't dead yet, and felt just inexpressibly embarrassed.
What became worse, though, exceeding even the feeling of humiliation, was his thirst. He estimated that his abduction had already lasted more than a day and a half now and he hadn't been given any fluids so far. He would only endure about another one and a half days until he would die of thirst as his lips were already sore and a throbbing headache had settled in his brain. He needed water!
His desperation grew and the last sparks of his will to live forced him to think about a way to get out of this situation. However, the more he tried to concentrate on how to escape from his torture, the more did his mind focus on the longing for fluids. He didn't have any chance to grasp a clear thought.
When the headache had become unbearable and he was feeling dizzy all the time, the door to his room opened and someone entered it. Even if the place had been lit for more than the couple of seconds that it took until the door was shut again, Sherlock wouldn't have been able to see anything since his vision was already blurred entirely.
He was too weak to even feel the revolting sensation and the pain when his tormentor lifted his head slightly by brutally pulling his hair, making him drink a bitter, extremely distasteful liquid. Sherlock swallowed it greedily as his body was longing for any fluids, no matter the taste. In his subconscious he wondered whether what he drank was poisonous, but it wasn't important. Dying now would save him the torture that was definitely awaiting him.
Sherlock's body was still alive, but his heart was slowly dying during the torment. All the emotions left were banned from his consciousness, since they seemed to be the source of a good deal of his agony. His eyes had been taped open and a blinding light had suddenly been held right in front of them, causing him such physical pain that he screamed from the bottom of his heart. He desperately tried to fight against the tape-strips, eventually ripping off his eyelashes.
He was forced to act against his reflexes, having to keep his eyes open while the man was dripping saltwater into them. Sherlock knew that the concentration of the salt wasn't too high, not enough to blind him, but enough to cause a burning sensation that involuntarily resulted in blinking. Each blinking, though, was punished with a sting of a big needle or nail or something like that in his thigh. He couldn't identify the item, but it didn't matter anyway. It hurt and Sherlock was convinced that the wounds would start festering pretty soon. He would rot to death – it hadn't just been empty threats.
Sherlock had reached a state in which he didn't know any longer what was reality and what was delirious dreaming. It didn't matter anyway since both were equally terrible.
At some point of his anguish he realised that he was lost. The ague had started and he could feel the heat in his tormented and inflamed leg. The shivering fits became worse and the fever rose. All his perceptions of the outside world were tuned out and he didn't even know whether his tormentor tortured him any further.
All of a sudden, a terrible pain shot through his right arm; a sensation so strong that for a moment his mind emerged from the half-conscious state it had lingered on, focussing on the reason for the unfamiliar feeling. Through the veil of his fever, Sherlock realised that his hand was free, his arm was free, and in the shivering fit he had hit his wrist hard on the board he was lying on.
"This is your last chance," he heard Mycroft say. "Free yourself and get out! Do as I say!"
Sherlock wanted to reply a weak "I can't...," but the vision of his brother trying to get him out was so overwhelming that he mustered all the power left in his ill-treated body and fumbled with the bonds securing his left hand.
He wasn't able to recall how exactly he had escaped. He must have run home all naked and sore, suffering from a high fever, leaving him delirious and disoriented. So either he had been very lucky or his sense of orientation worked even while dislodged from his consciousness.
There were bits of memories about the time after his arrival at home, but Sherlock still didn't know whether they were his own fever dreams or real facts. There were visions of his grandfather's angry face, of him fighting against demons that wanted to tear out his heart and skin him, of Mycroft shouting and calling his name, of hands on his body, of the incredible heat that seemed to burn his body from the inside, little hungry flames flickering on his skin, and of the icy cold that made his teeth chatter and his body shake violently. Everything was overshadowed by blackness caused by a pain that encouraged only one wish in him: the wish to die.
However, the next thing he remembered as truly real was going through unimaginable agony, led by Mycroft's friend Tobias. Eventually, the suffering subsided gradually and his memories became less blurred. His brother was there, night and day for some time. Then he was gone and Sherlock had been all alone, left behind, lonely and crying.
The boy heard someone calling him and the voice had a strangely soothing effect on him. It wasn't Mycroft, though.
He wasn't a boy anymore and all of a sudden he recognised the voice. It was John's. With some effort he managed to open his eyes, still under the impression of his memories, and with some embarrassment he realised that his face was all wet, as was his entire body. There were still tears running down his cheeks and his pyjamas and linen were damp from sweating.
John was standing by his bedside, looking at him worriedly with his brow furrowed.
"Sherlock, you've been screaming and fighting for hours! I have tried to get through to you, but I wasn't successful. Jesus! You delivered quite a frightful show! "
It was dawning on Sherlock that the processing of his memories had obviously not been as quiet and peaceful as he had intended.
John sat down on his bedside.
"May I?" he asked, holding a hand above his forehead, signalling that apparently he wanted to check his temperature.
Sherlock was a little afraid of the touch as his entire body was still screaming "Leave me alone!", however, it would help John to calm down – and probably even him, too. His ragged breath was slowly evening out and he felt reality taking over control. There was one thing, though, that was distressing him – he still remembered. He hadn't managed to ban the memories to his mind palace.
"You've got a slight fever, Sherlock," John informed him. Going by your screaming, I won’t bother to ask if you're ok. It doesn't need much more proof to be able to say you're not."
Sherlock felt extremely uncomfortable, as if caught out doing something wrong.
"I'm ok, John. I was just... processing data," he pretended, albeit he knew from a look at his flatmate's face, that he wouldn't be able to just fob him off with this.
John looked at him knowingly.
"Don't pretend anything, mate. It's no use. You need somebody's help. If you don't want mine, you should try Mycroft's." Sherlock wanted to interrupt John, who held up his hand to stop him.
"No! Don't say anything! You, Sherlock, have been screaming for your brother for an estimated three hours now, and when I couldn't get through to you I phoned him eventually. He'll be here in about an hour."
Sherlock closed his eyes. Bloody insistent John! It had become impossible for him lately to hide anything from him.
"You could have asked me if I wanted to have my brother around," he replied in a weak attempt of regaining the upper hand.
John only snorted and upon turning to the door he remarked, "I'll go and make some tea. You need to drink something and it'll soothe you a little."
All of a sudden, Sherlock was panicking. Fear was overwhelming him and before he could even think about it he grabbed John's wrist and pleaded,
"Don't go, John."
It was like an explosion in Sherlock's mind and body. Everything seemed to tingle and his ears started ringing. He had a very strange feeling of a déjà vu, an echo of something, however, he wasn't able to put his finger on it. It seemed to be dissolved from time and space and there was a split-second's vision of him and John floating somewhere and Sherlock asking him repeatedly not to go. It didn't make sense.
The ex-army doctor was staring at Sherlock with an unfathomable expression on his face. Sherlock wasn't able to identify it – something between shock and recognition. He realised that his jaw had dropped and that the grip around his friend's waist was so tight that it had to be hurting him. He was staring back at John, a deep frown on his face. John furrowed his brow in apparent confusion.
"What the hell was that, Sherlock?!" John wanted to know, looking down at his wrist that was still in his friend's clutch.
The younger man squinted and simply shook his head. He was sure that it had nothing to do with his broken mind palace; it had rather felt like an arch discharge.
"I... have no idea." Sherlock let go of John's arm. "Was there anything?"
John looked at him, an expression of utter lack of understanding on his face. He then raised his index finger, shaking it slightly.
"Ts... 'cause there was! Although I have no idea what it was. Let's call it... moment of ... intimacy. Probably. Forget it. I'll get the tea, if that's fine with you."
He had stopped waving his finger about, dropping his hand and turning again with a shake of his head.
"Maybe," Sherlock said quietly, watching his best friend leave the room. Intimacy, yes, probably. John had felt it too, and when Sherlock eliminated the impossible ,whatever remained, however improbable, had to be the truth. As telepathy was impossible, the only remaining truth could be an intimacy that sometimes twins reported of.