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Hellfire

Chapter Text

Sherlock raised his magnification spell and looked into the victim's eye, studying the pupils intently while Molly watched from behind him. He zoomed the spell in further, and it picked up the subtle colour difference between the black of a normal pupil and dark blue-violet.

"She's been put under a Coercion spell," Sherlock announced, dropping the magnification spell with a swish of his hand. "Let me see the other body."

Molly nodded, and raised her hands. Sherlock always thought that the motion she used resembled that of a puppeteer directing the movement of their dolls.

The rattle behind them didn't cause either of them any alarm, although an ordinary person, even an ordinary mage would have been terrified. The storage refrigeration unit behind them that held bodies awaiting autopsy rattled again and popped open. The rack rolled out by itself, and the body on the slab sat up, pivoted and made to stand.

"Oh, right. I forgot he doesn't have feet anymore," Molly sighed. "Sherlock, can you get me that cart?"

Sherlock wheeled the cart over, and the corpse shifted onto the cart without touching the stumps of its feet to the ground. He rolled it back over to the autopsy table, and the corpse got on and lay down. A moment later, it seemed to sigh and go lax as Molly ended her spell.

Molly was a necromancer, one of the main reasons Sherlock remained interested in visiting her, apart from the fact she had access to dead bodies for experiments. She helped him a lot of the time, and he was a frequent visitor to the mortuary at St. Bart's.

There was a knock on the door, and Sherlock opened it with a flick of his hand.

"No need to be such a show-off," Lestrade said as he came in.

"It's just easier. Saves me the waste of breath it takes to speak."

"You always say that, but surely it would save you some strife in public if you would just say your incantations out loud. It makes people nervous, you know, seeing you just cast with a wave of a hand."

"It's not my fault other mages lack the concentration to direct their magic without props," Sherlock said, rolling his eyes. "I've said many a time, it's a matter of willpower and not levels of magic at all. I'm rather ordinary in my power level, it's that I use my brain."

"You don't have to rub it in Anderson's face every time you see him that he needs to use a wand and you don't. God, even Sally has to say her incantations out loud, and she's my smartest officer on the squad!"

"It's focus she's lacking. She gets distracted too easily, especially with Anderson in the room."

"I won't tell her you said that."

"It's not difficult, you know, to focus your energy," Sherlock said, sighing and shaking his head. "I've written a blog post about it, if anyone wants to know. You have to be able to let no outside source distract you from your goal. Simple, but no one ever does as I say. Whenever Anderson is in Sally's presence, a portion of her mind is wondering again if he's ever going to leave his wife."

"Why can Molly do it, then?" Lestrade asked, and Molly blushed and looked away.

Yes, by that logic, Molly should be distracted every time Sherlock was in the room.

"Necromancers are on the other end of the magical spectrum, closer to telepaths and empaths if you must know," Sherlock said. "Besides, Molly has real focus. When she's working, she knows what she needs to do to do her job. Anyway, her slight obsession with me would actually help her focus rather than hinder it, as we are both after the same goal."

"Sherlock!" Molly exclaimed, face burning. "I-I'm not obsessed with you."

"False," Sherlock said, and turned to Lestrade. "So, recent case, or have you another?"

"This one," Lestrade said with a sigh. "Nothing in forensics is turning up anything."

"Are you telling me that no one picked up the Coercion spell's signs on her body?" Sherlock waved a hand in irritation and raised his magnification spell again. "Look, it's right there, clear as day!"

"What am I looking at?"

"Purple! Someone put a Coercion spell on her, you can tell by the discolouration of her pupil."

"How do you know it's a Coercion spell that does that?" Lestrade asked, leaning forward to examine the pupil.

"Experiment," Sherlock said. "Irrelevant. She was not responsible for her actions, from how far back I can't say from looking. As her friends and coworkers if they noticed a change in her actions recently."

"I can do that," Lestrade said with a slump of his shoulders. "How I ended up in a career where I ended up interacting with so many mages, I'll never know."

"You may not have mage blood, Lestrade, but you have a good instinct," Sherlock said. "It's served you well, mages nonewithstanding. That's why you're the Detective Inspector and not that other one, you know, with the greasy fringe and the big staff."

"I won't tell Gregson you said that."

"Sometimes I think you spend most of your time not telling people things I've said," Sherlock said. "Shame, really, because people would be a lot smarter if they would just listen."

"You say such nice things sometimes," Lestrade said and left.

Sherlock turned back to Molly only to find that she'd raised an army of disembodied brains while he hadn't been looking and surrounded him with them. Somehow, Lestrade had watched all this and kept a straight face. He was improving.

"How do you make them float like that?" Sherlock asked with interest. "You're not a mage in the regular capacity, so it's not a Hover spell." He went to touch one with the tip of his finger, and it lunged forward and caught him full in the face.

Molly giggled and put the brains back while Sherlock wiped his face off with the sleeve of his black robes, grimacing.

"Was that really necessary, Molly?" Sherlock complained. "You know I like this robe."

"Entirely necessary," Molly replied sweetly.

Before Sherlock could say anything else in reply, there was another knock, and the door swung open without either of them making a move to admit their latest visitor.

"Mycroft," Sherlock spat, and turned away.

"I see you're very much occupied with crime solving," Mycroft said, leaning on his umbrella.

Sherlock snorted and didn't answer. Mycroft liked to remind Sherlock that out of the two of them, Mycroft had the higher power level. Sherlock liked to remind Mycroft, that out of the two of them, he had the better focus and that Mycroft disguising his focus object as an umbrella didn't make it any less a focus object. Sherlock's power lacked subtlety whereas Mycroft's spells often went unnoticed, especially his surveillance spells.

"I have a case I think you might be interested in."

"Political intrigue again? Dull."

"No, not this time, Sherlock. We've found something that we haven't seen in centuries, and I'd like it if you looked at the crime scene and told us what you think."

"Crime scene?"

"Well, yes. Unlawful Summoning, Confinement against One's Will and Dark Ritual practice would be among the charges laid... if the perpetrators had remained alive."

"Dark rituals often end in a befittingly messy manner," Sherlock dismissed this assertion with a wave of one hand.

Sherlock and Mycroft stared at each other, unmoving, although Sherlock noticed that Molly had wisely abandoned the area, even though it meant leaving some of the brains out.

"Have you ever put any thought into elemental magic?"

"None. I cannot perform it, so it is useless. Human elemental mages are rare, and creatures that exhibit these traits often avoid humans, so I generally don't have to think about these things."

"What if I told you that we'd found a human Fire Elemental?"

"Impossible," Sherlock said. "Humans, being the destructive and hateful creatures they are eradicated human Elemental hybrids years ago. The last Dryad in Britain died as the Industrial era wiped out all our natural landscape."

"Not all."

"Surely you realize there are no truly wild places left in England. We keep places like this, carefully cultivated 'wild areas,' but as we've tamed them, they are no longer truly wild. Elementals avoid our highly urban landscape. Why would one come to England?"

"We've found a human that we believe has Berserker blood."

Sherlock, in the middle of what was meant to be a dramatic turn, stopped. His breath caught in his throat and he whipped back around to glare at Mycroft.

"Liar. There haven't been any Berserkers in this land for centuries, not since England's last great Mage Army wiped out the Wallace clan."

"And yet it's the only possible explanation we can come up with," Mycroft said, spinning his umbrella. "Unless you come to the scene, there's nothing else I can tell you to persuade you."

There was no question as to Sherlock's decision.

"Take me to the scene."

ooOOoo

Sherlock looks around the abandoned warehouse, and although Mycroft and some of his agents enter with him, they stand back and let Sherlock take in the scene.

The first thing Sherlock sees are the scorch marks. They're all over the warehouse, marking up the walls in streaks, as if the whole room had been on fire. Sherlock walks further into the room slowly, looking for the source of the fire. The pattern suggested it had originated in the center of the enclosed space.

In the middle of the room, Sherlock comes across a circle on the floor drawn in deep red along with crimson runes drawn along the outside. It's about six feet in diameter and completely clear of scorch marks. Another four feet out, there's another circle and runes marking the places where those taking part in the ritual were meant to stand.

"This crime scene is wiped clean," Sherlock commented. "Do you have any memory reels of those that saw the scene as it first was? Where are the bodies?"

"There were no bodies, brother."

"But there were twelve people taking part in this ritual," Sherlock said, walking around the outside of the circle. Surely they didn't just leave your Berserker here by himself after taking all the effort to Summon him."

"They didn't leave him. He killed them."

"I think I'd better see the memories. I'd also like to see this supposed Berserker of yours."

Mycroft nodded, and Sherlock was escorted out. Mycroft created a portal back to his office, drawing it in the air with his umbrella.

"First the memory reels," Mycroft said. "Although, there's not much to see. Just the Berserker. We have some photos of the Summoning runes they used. That's how we know that they were trying to Summon a Berserker in the first place."

The photos were unhelpful. Sherlock recognized the runes already, of course. He even knew the Summoning book that must have been used, as it was a Dark rituals book that he'd come across more than once in his line of work. He was surprised no one else had thought to try and Summon a Berserker. It could be that Berserkers were nearly impossible to control and dangerously powerful besides.

The memory reels were slightly more helpful. There was a small, compact man collapsed in the warehouse, although his form was outside the ring. That was very strange. The ring was meant to contain the Berserker it Summoned, even if it could not control it. He would have to examine the runes again, but he didn't think they'd made a mistake.

He couldn't tell much else from the memory reels. Sherlock wasn't fond of memory reels, as they lost detail over time, and didn't notice details that Sherlock could usually see. Sometimes people observed things and didn't recognize them, but more often, they just didn't see the things Sherlock did.

He was an army man, obviously. He was in army fatigues and had an obvious tan from long days in a desert environment. Captain Watson was stitched over his breast pocket. A Scottish name.

There was a blackened hole in the left shoulder of his uniform, but Sherlock couldn't see the skin underneath from this angle. Someone had fired a levin bolt at him. Sherlock wasn't sure if that's what had brought him down or not.

He went into his Mind Palace and drew up all the information he knew on Berserkers.

Berserkers were Scottish in origin and had been a major part of Scotland's resistance to being annexed by England. England's mages had managed to eradicate them all, had gone on a witch-hunt in order to find all those that might be able to pass it on and killed them. Even people who had been related to those with Berserker blood had been found and executed.

Berserkers were human Fire Elementals. Their power fluctuated with their emotions, and rage was what brought out the worst of their destructive force. Berserkers, once sufficiently angered, were impossible to calm down and would only stop once their energy levels were low. They could not be controlled, and went on uncontainable rampages, often destroying entire villages.

Mages knew a few things that could stop them, but very little could. A high-level mage wielding ice bolts or lightning might be able to bring one down, but it often took a concentrated effort to stop them.

Surely that one bolt that had hit Watson wasn't enough to stop him? Or perhaps centuries of diluting the Berserker blood was enough to weaken him. No one would know, because even his existence was something considered impossible.

And yet. No bodies, not even ash had been left at the scene. That amount of power was immense, the ability to immolate an organic body to the point that not even DNA was left at the scene.

He came out of his Mind Palace to find Mycroft was waiting for him.

"He's impossible," Sherlock concluded. "Absolutely impossible."

"Come and see for yourself," Mycroft said. "We have him in one of our containment facilities. He hasn't woken up yet, and he's showing no signs that any major changes to his biology have taken place."

"Who is he?"

"Captain John Watson, army doctor. He was stationed in Kandahar at the time he was Summoned, and we've contacted his commanding officer to explain what happened. Apparently, he's never exhibited any signs of having an uncontrollable temper or having a grudging nature. He's a caretaker. He fights for his country and patches up his comrades, all with a good-natured humour. He's very calm, collected and doesn't break under pressure. He's got a good bedside manner and is calming to his patients. He's the exact opposite to what all the historical accounts of Berserkers have described them as."

"Let me see him," Sherlock fought to keep himself from pacing in excitement.

The man in the containment facility was very still, lying flat on his back in a hospital bed, wearing only a pair of white briefs for modesty's sake. There was a large knotted scar on his left shoulder where the levin bolt had made contact. It wasn't raw and looked to be years old rather than hours.

Sherlock stared through the containment field at his body and drank in the sight of him. He was so ordinary, this soldier from the desert. He wasn't overly tall and had a forgettable face. His haircut was military style, non-descript and unoriginal.

And still he had managed to kill all of his attackers and survive almost unscathed.

An army doctor. He was a cycle of regeneration and destruction in one person, a highly trained killer on one hand, and a healer on the other. He was the most extraordinary creature anyone would ever meet, an impossible, unimaginable creature, and he was the least extraordinary-looking person one could set eyes on.

Just looking at him, there was nothing that should hold Sherlock's attention, no movement, nothing to deduce about him. Sherlock couldn't take his eyes off him.

Sherlock stayed there for hours, forgetting all about food, drink and sleep. Someone brought him tea at one point, and he drank half of it before going back to contemplating the form in front of him.

Mycroft came by periodically, and Sherlock ignored him.

"How long do you plan on just sitting here?" Mycroft asked.

Sherlock said nothing. He would stay here until John Watson woke up, obviously.

"He might never wake up," Mycroft continued. "He's showing no signs of physical trauma or magically induced sleep. There's nothing wrong with him, he just isn't waking up. Sherlock, I understand what a conundrum this man is, but you need to go home at some point."

Sherlock was about to make a comment on Mycroft's expanding waistline when suddenly, there was movement. An alarm started beeping somewhere, indicating that John Watson was finally waking up.

The man clutched one hand to his head, covering his eyes as he sat up slowly and unsteadily. Sherlock watched, completely captivated. What made this man so different? Was he still a Berserker, or had his blood returned to dormancy? Sherlock leaned forward in his seat, hands buzzing slightly as they pressed against the containment field.

When John Watson uncovered his eyes and looked around the room, blinking in confusion, they were as bright as the sun and as intense as molten gold.

"Magnificent," Sherlock breathed. "Utterly magnificent."

And then John Watson turned towards them, and stared Sherlock right in the eyes. Something hot and quick filled Sherlock's chest and rushed through his blood, stirring up urges long dormant.

And Sherlock discovered that there was nothing he wouldn't do to talk to him, this strange contradiction of a man.

Chapter Text

The firefight had erupted around noon, when the sun was reaching its zenith. It was hot and dusty, and John Watson was lying on his belly behind the wheel of a jeep. Nearby, he could hear somebody's harsh breathing, the sounds of someone in pain.

"Murray, is that you, mate?" John asked, whispering as loudly as he could without alerting the guerrilla fighters to their position.

"Doc? That you?" Bill's voice was scratchy and raw.

"It's me. Hold still, I need to get to you."

John army crawled underneath the jeep and to the other side. Murray was lying another ten feet away, hands desperately holding his leg. John could see where it was bleeding, the desert camo drenched in scarlet. He slithered over, getting his medical bag out.

"Hurry, Doc, they're just over there," Bill said. "We need to get out of the line of sight."

John nodded, dragging Murray back behind the jeep with him. It was rough going, and as they moved, Bill made bitten-off sounds of pain. Once they were back out of the line of fire, John quickly cut away Bill's combat trousers to reveal the wound. Blood was still welling up around Bill's hands, his palms sticky and rust-coloured.

"The bullet's still in there," Murray said.

"Fuck," John said, sighing. "This is going to be rough, sorry."

"I think it got the artery," Murray said, which was bad news for him and John.

John started taking out sterile gauze and stuffing it into the wound to stop the bleeding. He knew backup was on the way, but if Murray didn't get to a hospital soon, he would die. The fact that the wound wasn't a through-and-through was bad enough. John had recognized the sound of an AK-47 firing, and knew that the yawing of the bullet had caused his friend considerable damage. If the wound didn't stop bleeding soon, John would have to take the gauze he'd applied out and put in more.

"Doc, you need to leave me. Help will be here soon, and I can't be the only one wounded."

John was sure this was true, but as he stared down at the rapidly paling face of his squad-mate, he couldn't find it in himself to abandon him. Maybe if another soldier appeared before him who was more injured, John would do something. But right now, Murray was bleeding out.

"I can keep pressure on the wound," Murray insisted.

The dressing was already starting to bleed through. John looked around him, and strained to hear the sound of gunfire, or his other squad-mates talking to each other, but there was nothing but silence.

Either they were all too wounded to move, or they were dead.

"I'll be fine, Doc," Murray said with a grin, holding his blood-stained hands to the gauze. "You have to help if you can."

John couldn't help but shove more gauze at Murray before crawling back out into the desert sun. There was nothing beyond the jeeps that John could see. Spread out before him were the dead bodies of his entire squad, unmoving in the desert sun. John tried so hard to find someone, anyone that might be moving or alive. Nothing.

Soon their attackers would gain confidence and come close enough to find John and Murray.

Just as John was about to crawl back to find Murray, the world around him shifted and swirled in a haze of desert yellow and brown. John was beginning to think someone had managed to kill him before he found himself lying on the ground again.

But this time, it was a lot worse than he could ever imagine.

It was dark, and after the intensity of the desert sun, John's eyes hadn't adjusted sufficiently to make out anything besides shapes surrounding him. He blinked rapidly, and he could hear them shifting and talking.

"What's going on?" he demanded. "Where am I?"

No one answered him. John's eyes focused slowly, and the sight that met him made a cold lump of dread form in his stomach. He was surrounded by figures in red robes, and he was in the center of a ring of rusted red. A tangy, metallic scent hung in the air – the ring was drawn in blood. The room around him was still too dark to discern, but John had a feeling he was far, far away from Afghanistan.

"Are you sure he's the one?" one of the figured said, and his robes were more elaborate than the others'.

"The book says the spell Summons a person of Berserker blood. So it must be."

"Let me go," John growled, stomping up to the edge of the ring. "This is illegal."

He tried to step forward, but a flare of a magical containment field pushed him backward, and he stumbled and fell. He was ignored by the figures as they consulted what looked like an ancient book.

"Once we have awakened his blood, how do we control him?"

"We don't. A Berserker cannot be controlled. We're going to use his presence to force the government to do as we say, unless they want us to release him on London."

"What if he destroys us as well?"

"He won't. He can't get past that containment field."

"Shall we begin?"

"Yes."

Two of the figures across the ring from each other began chanting and raising their hands. John spun around on the spot, trying to figure out what they were doing. It took him a moment to see that they were encircling him in oil, making a spiralling pattern that wound its way inward.

"What's that for?" John asked, but he had the feeling that it didn't mean anything good.

They didn't answer, finally reaching John at the center of the spiral and drenching him in even more oil. John thought he might have seen this in a movie. It hadn't ended well.

His fears were realized as another robed figure lit the end of a torch with a word and approached the edge of the containment field.

"Make sure to keep chanting! If we misspeak even one word, this won't work!" the one with the elaborate robes said.

There was nowhere to go. John was trapped in the middle of the circle, and he couldn't escape. John could feel his body panicking, could feel his lungs tighten with fear and his heart pounding, pumping blood through his trembling body. But in his head, everything slowed and then stopped. He was helpless to stop whatever was going to happen. He felt numb.

The torch touched oil, and flames flared up, drawing in closer and closer to John, like a fuse. The world around him was lit up in orange and yellow. It was getting hotter and hotter and John's skin burned. Agony and heat flared through John's body and he clawed at his skin. He was screaming, and even the air he drew into his lungs was scorching.

John was certain he was about to die when suddenly, something burst inside his chest, something more intense and burning than the fire consuming him from the outside. It spread out through his limbs, fire running through his veins and pushing upward until it met the fire on the outside.

John stopped burning. It didn't hurt anymore and the burns he did have disappeared as the surface of his skin glowed gold and red. He had become the fire.

As the fire started burning out around him, John saw the robed figures staring in at him. John could feel the pulsing of the flames underneath his skin, bursting to get out.

John stared down at his own arm in fascination. It was marbled gold and red, ever shifting and writhing across the surface of his skin. If he concentrated, he could bring fire out of him and let it run over the palms of his hands.

"We did it!" the figure in the elaborate robes said with a high-pitched laugh. "He's ours now, to unleash upon the world at will!"

John didn't like the sound of that.

"Let me out," John said, and his voice sounded somehow deep and high at the same time. "Let me out NOW."

"It can still speak. It's not supposed to be able to do that," the nearest red robed figure said, sounding nervous. "Is it still in control of itself?"

"Let me out," John repeated, his voice rumbling and hissing.

He didn't feel out of control, but apparently the robed figures had expected him to have little more cognisance than a beast. He tried to think past the underlying panic and he could remember medical procedures and firearm safety. So his mind was still working just fine, thanks ever so. He was just made of fire now, which was alarming, but not enough to send him on a mindless rampage.

He was kind of pissed off, come to think of it.

"It shouldn't be speaking," the leader said. "It shouldn't remember language at all."

"Is something wrong?" the robed one sounded scared now.

Strange. John could hear his heartbeat from here, and it was picking up speed. He drew in a breath. Oh, he could smell their sweat, and beyond that, he could smell dust and mold. Abandoned building?

"Something is wrong now," John said, warningly. "If you don't let me go, I'll kill you."

"He's threatening us," one of the robed figures said. "You said he wouldn't be a threat to us!"

"He isn't, the containment field will hold him," the leader said, but his breathing was shaky.

Would it hold him? John approached the edge of the ring, now emblazoned crimson on the concrete. It no longer smelled of blood. John held out his hand, and the magical field crackled, but didn't throw John back this time. It hummed against his palm. John pushed against it, and it bulged out slightly.

"He's moving the field!" one of the figures said. "We should get out of here!"

"He can't break it. I read the book, it says a Berserker lacks the power to break it."

John laughed, and it crackled like fire. "It also said I would be uncontrollable. Let's see who's right, the book or me."

He drew back his fist and punched the field. It flared and bent, but held. John took a step back to get more leverage behind his hit and stuck again. The field was still holding, but the Summoners outside the circle were watching with pale faces.

"See, I told you it would hold."

The flames beneath his skin throbbed, demanding to be released. If he let them out, they would consume the containment field, John was certain of that for some reason.

"I'm warning you now," John said, voice roaring like the devastation he was about to become.

No one moved.

John let the fire free and his vision went red.

ooOOoo

He woke slowly, and it was bright again.

It wasn't bright like Afghanistan, the light was more blue, artificial. He was inside somewhere, and not inside the warehouse anymore. He couldn't see again, and it was getting irritating, this lack of vision. John blinked hard, hiding his eyes behind his hand.

His hand was flesh coloured again.

Was he back to normal now? Had the entire thing just been some sort of strange dream? If so, then where the hell was he? This was not Afghanistan, not by a long shot. Even if he'd been shot in Afghanistan, he'd be in a tent, or in a building with dim lighting. Not this place.

He sat up slowly and tried to think of what could possibly have happened. If the events had actually transpired and weren't some sort of fever dream, then what had gone down after he'd lost control? They'd said that he shouldn't be able to control himself.

They'd also said something about London. Was he back in England again?

He lowered his hand and blinked some more, and the world focused around him. He was in the center of a room, a sterile, white environment. He wasn't wearing any clothes. There was another containment field around him.

He looked past the containment field and suddenly, he was staring into a pair of the most captivating eyes he'd ever seen.

He blinked again, in case his vision was still not working. The eyes remained, staring avidly back into his, and John unthinkingly shifted until his legs were dangling off the bed. His legs felt a bit weak, but he stumbled his way toward the containment field, still entirely consumed by staring into those eyes.

The colour of the eyes kept shifting. He'd first thought they were silver, but now they were more green-blue. He took a step and now they were grey-green. It was fascinating.

He didn't stop until he was right up against the containment field.

The figure belonging to the impossible eyes was tall and lean, dressed in elegant black robes. He had bent forward, and dark curls spilled forward over his pale forehead. His hands were pressed against the containment field, as if he wanted nothing more than to get to the other side, to where John was.

John raised his own hands and put them against the containment field, aligning them with this captivating stranger's. They looked into one another's eyes until something on the other side made the silver eyes snap to the side. His brow furrowed and John looked to the side.

Another man, eyes cold. He met John's eyes cooly, and made a gesture with his hand.

The containment field went opaque, and his magnificent stranger was lost from view.

They made him wait for hours. John gave up waiting for them to do something and lay back down on the bed, slipping into a light doze. He'd discovered the scar on his shoulder, but had no memory of where it had come from. He hadn't had it when he was in Afghanistan, and in his medical opinion, it was almost completely healed. Strange.

John had lost track of time when the containment field went clear. The cold-eyed man was back, and he leaned on an umbrella as he viewed John with a faint air of distaste. John immediately decided he didn't like this man.

"Hello, John Watson."

"You know who I am," John said, rubbing a hand through his hair. "Where am I?"

"A government facility, London. We found you in a warehouse, unconscious. There was a Summoning circle and it looked as if there was a fire at some point. Do you want to elaborate?"

"Is Bill alright?" John asked instead. "If you know who I am, you know where I was stationed. There was a firefight and Bill Murray was shot. Did he survive?"

"Yes," the man said shortly. "Now, can you tell me what happened? This is a threat to national security, and as a soldier, I'm sure you have a sense of duty and honour. We need to know."

"Who are you then, government official?" John asked. "How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"You don't. I am Mycroft. We are trying to find out what's been done to you. All our research indicated that what supposedly happened is impossible."

"They lit me on fire," John said. "It was very unpleasant."

"And they Summoned you from halfway across the world," Mycroft said. "Why did they get you?"

"Berserker blood. That's what they said," John said with a shrug. "I can't say for sure whether or not they got the right person, but they lit me on fire. And I didn't die."

"You also broke their containment field and completely incinerated all of them."

"Is that what happened?" John asked. "It's what I meant to do, but I blacked out."

"So you were unable to control your anger."

"Oh no, I only got angry after they refused to release me," John contradicted. "I asked them to let me out, and this was after all the fire and ritual stuff happened. They refused, so I let the fire loose on them. I was perfectly reasonable before that."

"You do realize that asking someone to release a Berserker is pure madness?" Mycroft asked, leaning forward. "They are uncontrollable, dangerous and unpredictable. They are also immensely powerful and difficult to stop. That bolt that hit your shoulder was strong enough to leave a scar, but by our estimation, should have killed you, Berserker or not."

"So is this you telling me you're not going to let me out either."

"You have to understand, Doctor Watson, that we still don't know exactly what's been done to you or why you were able to escape the containment field or withstand the levin bolt attack. It's not responsible of us to allow you out when you could lay waste to London."

John glared at Mycroft, and he could feel the pulsing feeling return. "What you fail to realize, sir, is that the last people to attempt to keep me contained are dead."

"Yes, but they failed to contain you. This shield is triple-layered by the most powerful mages at my command. You will not break out."

"You had better be very sure about that."

"I am."

"We'll have to see, then," John said, and his voice rose in a hiss.

The flames rose up through his skin and flared up around him. John could feel the red creeping in on his vision, urging him to let go and destroy everything in his path. John fought it back. He was in London. There were innocent people all around him that didn't deserve to burn.

He fought the rage that wanted to take over and send him on an uncontrollable rampage, grabbed it and grappled it back down.

"Harder than it looks, isn't it?" Mycroft said. "Controlling your anger? This is why we can't let you out. We can't have someone set you off, not when your power is so great."

John struggled with his rage, but the more he tried to calm himself down, the less powerful the flames became. He had to let himself be angry in order to let the fire inside him free. But the rage that burned in his chest wanted to take over completely.

"I am in control." John let the anger rise. "I am the one who decides, not the beast you seem to think I've become."

The rage wanted him to destroy the smug man in his impeccable suit. John just wanted to leave the containment field. He really hated being confined. Hadn't his CO told them that when he'd told them everything else about John? John closed his eyes and concentrated.

Rage, rage, RAGE. He was on fire with it.

He let it swell up and flow through him, engulf him. But not overwhelm him. He fought his way through the storm brewing, found its currents and streams and rode them. He was not his rage, his rage was him.

It boiled up and out, and when John opened his eyes again the entire room was aflame, the fire around him crackling and roaring. It pushed up against the containment field's triple layer and John could feel the energy holding it in place being eaten away.

"John, you must realize that if you get free we must neutralize you," Mycroft said, still standing there impassively, but John could smell him now. Fear sweat and a racing heart told him that Mycroft, for all his posturing, was terrified.

John burned through the first layer and his fire hungrily leapt for the next.

"Stop!" Mycroft said, but John could barely hear him over the roar of the inferno.

The second layer faltered quickly and dissipated. The third layer was holding strong, but John was not going to let that stop him. He pushed up against it harder, letting his power grow hotter. Mycroft had backed up a foot and a half, but he hadn't fled. Did he think he could stop John?

The third layer popped with an audible crackle and John immediately drew the flames back in towards him, reeling it all in and keeping it carefully beneath his skin. He walked towards Mycroft, who had been on the other side of the containment fields right up until now. He stopped about a foot away, and Mycroft was barely breathing.

"I kept you alive to prove a point," John said, voice rumbling with the flames still inside him.

"And what was that?" Mycroft managed to say in a tight voice.

"I can control myself and I will not allow people to use me, not the dark Summoners and not the White Mages. I am my own power and you will respect me."

John walked toward the door to leave, wondering which way he needed to go to leave. Movie villains always seemed to know the way out without asking, but real life was hardly as easy as that. Movie Villain. That was him now, he supposed.

He felt a flare in the shift of power in the room and turned in time to see that Mycroft had conjured up a bolt of ice and launched it at him. Without thinking, John snatched it right out of the air, just before it buried itself in his chest.

The ice was deathly cold, and John could feel his hand burning with holding the opposite element to his fire for such a long space of time. His fire rose up in response to his pain and melted the bolt, the water hissing and steaming, evaporating into nothing.

"I'm leaving," John said shortly, and now, he didn't even care if he had to break down every door in the building, he was getting out.

"Apparently," Mycroft said in a voice that sounded something like awe.

John left.

Chapter Text

"It was if my powers were on fire, it was burning them away. I couldn't hold him. I know it couldn't possibly happen, but I still thought that if I kept hanging on, the fire would find me and consume me to the core."

Sherlock watched the interview impassively and waited for something interesting to happen.

All three of the mages holding up the containment field had said the same thing: Watson's power was too intense to contain. They'd all had a similar experience, feeling as if their magic itself was burning and that the fire would consume them. By all accounts, the man they were interviewing now had actually gone into physical shock and had to be taken to the medical bay to be dealt with after the incident.

This whole business of trying to contain a threat to the British nation was entirely tedious. Couldn't they see that John Watson was the opposite of what they were worried about?

Sherlock had never seen such focus of will before, except, perhaps, in himself.

That man was a Berserker, no question about that now. The most fascinating thing about it was that John had managed to control his power, something that should have been impossible. Sherlock ached to be somewhere else, anywhere else. He needed to get to the bottom of how this had happened. Sherlock wanted to know how, and didn't care at all about who or why. He needed to talk to some experts, and although it pained him to admit it, Sherlock didn't know anything about Elemental mages or human hybrids.

He needed to talk to Arthur Kirkland.

And following that, he needed to find John. If he were to be honest to himself, Sherlock wanted to find John right away, immediately, without waiting. But his common sense and logic urged him to seek out someone who might know what to do, might give Sherlock some practical information.

Of course, in order to gain access to said practical information, Sherlock first had to know what manner of being he was dealing with, and to do that, he needed to know what John could do, what he had already done. And that meant listening to tedious people whine about having their souls consumed and etcetera.

Which brought him back to the interviews with the mages and any other eye witnesses they could find.

"Sherlock."

Oh, Mycroft was here. As if his day couldn't get any duller than this.

"Go away," Sherlock said without raising his eyes.

"Sherlock, please. This is an issue of national security. We don't even know who did this to him yet, or why. We need to catch him and bring him down or in, before whoever it was gets to him first. Or before he loses control and destroys London."

"As if he could destroy London," Sherlock started to say.

"He very well could. There are reports from the time of William Wallace that say that one Berserker could bring down an entire company of mages before being stopped."

"Oh, I didn't mean that he wasn't capable of doing so if he wanted," Sherlock said. "I have no doubt with his level of power that he could devastate London quite easily. But I'm not talking about John Watson the Berserker. I'm talking about Captain Watson of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. Could that John Watson kill thousands of innocent people? No."

"How could you be certain of that?"

"He kept you alive, didn't he?"

"That proves nothing," Mycroft glared at him.

"It proves everything," Sherlock said. "Even I want to kill you on a regular basis, and only my enormous power of restraint has prevented me from committing fratricide."

"You are very childish, brother mine," Mycroft sighed, rubbing his brow with his fingers. "I have memories for you to see. Unfortunately, Watson somehow found and destroyed all my surveillance spells and we are unable to locate him."

"He destroyed all your surveillance spells," Sherlock said flatly. "You have thousands of them set up all over London!"

"They're run on a magical network," Mycroft said, rolling his eyes. "John Watson discovered it, and instead of only shutting down one spell, he fried the entire network. Deliberately."

"Fascinating," Sherlock said.

"Tedious," Mycroft replied. "It will take me days to get them all back up again."

"Let me see the memories, then."

Sherlock was still miffed that he'd missed the entire thing. Mycroft had sent him away and only brought him back because it was looking like Sherlock was the only one who would be able to track John down again.

A memory flashed up, all of ten seconds of time. John Watson was blazing with light and moving quickly without stopping. Nothing halted his progress through the building. The surface of his skin writhed with swirls and arcs of red and gold. Sometimes shimmers of tiny flames would rise up and run along the top of his skin. His eyes were so piercingly yellow that in person, they must be blinding, like miniature suns.

The only information that they had on Berserkers was ancient and possibly outdated.

"I need to speak with Kirkland," he said to Mycroft.

Mycroft rolled his eyes a second time. "I always thought he was mad to be so obsessed with Elementals. Thought he was wasting his time when all of our own had died out. It turns out he might be useful after all."

Arthur Kirkland had dedicated all of his powers of research to the old Elementals of Great Britain, even though they had all died out. He'd found ancient texts and old memories and even older spells that had to do with them. Most mages in the community thought him to be a bit balmy, wasting his talents on nothing.

The best Sherlock could do was take out a history book and read the page and a half on the Wars of Scottish Independence. The Clan of William Wallace had been mentioned as being a family of Berserkers, and the towns and villages they'd wiped off the map were listed, but there was very little information still surviving.

Arthur Kirkland had a tower with 1715 steps. He said that it kept away all but the most determined. Sherlock had once tried to cast a levitation charm to avoid the stairs and ended up half the city away, straddling one of the great lions at Trafalgar Square. This time, he walked.

Kirkland was stirring at some sort of potion when he came in.

"Oh, Holmes my lad. How are things below?"

"There's something I need your help on. A case I have currently is stumping everyone, and only you can provide the proper insight."

"Me?" Kirkland asked, heavy brows furling in confusion. "Why me? Most of the great mages of our time call my research obsolete."

"What if I told you it wasn't?" Sherlock asked, and he couldn't help but smile smugly.

Kirkland's eyes widened. "Impossible. The Elementals died with our wilderness centuries ago."

"Right. Let me show you a memory reel, and you tell me what you think. I promise not to say a word until you've had your say."

Sherlock brought up the reel and watched Kirkland's face as it played. Predictably, Kirkland's face transformed from tentative hope to awe.

"So?" Sherlock prompted him.

"A Progenitor," Kirkland breathed.

Which was not what Sherlock had been expecting at all.

"Sorry, a what?" Sherlock said. "We thought he was a Berserker."

"He's more than just a Berserker," Kirkland said, voice still unsteady. "Did you know, the so-called Wallace Clan was not related to William Wallace by blood?"

"No," Sherlock said slowly. "Should I have?"

"Oh, no, it was a secret for centuries. England's mages tried to cover it up, burned all the documents containing the information. But I found information, decoded it, dug deeper, found old journal entries and diaries. It's all there."

Sherlock leaned forward, fascinated. He knew that England had a habit of rewriting history as it saw fit, but he'd never thought he'd be privy to the real story. Mycroft too, had a habit of trying to keep the truth from him.

"What happened?" Sherlock asked, riveted.

"William Wallace was a Progenitor, which meant that he could create Berserkers, and control them, even in their enraged state. It's how he so effectively resisted for so long. England drained its resources fighting him and his Berserker army. Even when the English war mages took down one Berserker, Wallace would create another to take its place."

"So this man..."

"Is capable of creating an army," Kirkland finished. "What I wouldn't give to meet him."

"How can you tell he's a Progenitor?" Sherlock asked.

"He's in control of his actions," Kirkland replied. "A Berserker going into a rage on its own is unstoppable and not in control of itself. That's because they have a psychic link to the Progenitor, and if one isn't present, then they are uncontrollable. But a Progenitor has an extreme strength of will and unimaginable power. They are almost impossible to kill."

"How did England manage, all those ages ago?" Sherlock asked.

Kirkland looked at him strangely. "You're not going to kill him, are you?"

"I'd rather we avoided that, actually," Sherlock said. "I want to meet him as much as you do. I plan on tracking him down, but I need as much information on Fire Elementals and Berserkers as possible if I want to help him."

Kirkland nodded. Then said, "The last time that England had to fight a Berserker, the mages had to plunge the entirety of the British Isles into the deepest winter ever seen. It was unimaginable how cold it was. All of Britain was covered in snow and temperatures were frigid. It was a long and bitter fight, but eventually, all of the Berserkers succumbed."

"They must not have, not if he exists," Sherlock said.

"Indeed," Kirkland said with an enigmatic smile. "A mystery for the ages. How did Berserker blood survive that purge?"

"I'm going to find out," Sherlock said, feeling his blood thrumming in excitement.

"Before you go," Kirkland said, and with a wave of his hand, summoned a book off the shelf.

It was old, and Sherlock cast a protective ward around it before taking it, the pages were so worn and brittle.

"That is what I have gathered on Berserkers. Use this information wisely, young Holmes."

Sherlock nodded and left. He had work to do.

OOooOO

Mycroft hadn't known what a Progenitor was, and when Sherlock explained it to him, in Kirkland's exact words, he blanched. Sherlock had never known his brother to be scared or even feel threatened by someone's presence. He was so far above everything, and it was a shock to see him react in such a tangible way.

"He can create an army, you say?" Mycroft asked. "Does Watson know this?"

"I don't know," Sherlock said, biting his lip angrily at his own lack of information. "I don't know what Watson knows or what he might be able to know instinctively. England destroyed all the documents that could have been helpful."

"I imagine they thought they would never need them," Mycroft said.

"I have all the information I could find," Sherlock said. "Now I need to track down Watson himself. I can't put it off any longer than this. We need to find him."

"Yes, before whoever it was that summoned him find him," Mycroft said. "Who knows what they could do with that kind of power."

"What makes you think they would have any more luck than us containing him?" Sherlock asked, eyes narrowing.

"There are other forms of control that might work better than force – coercion, bribery, blackmail. We need to find him before they do. I will give you access to any resource you could possibly need. This case is of utmost importance. It's a matter of national security."

"I think you keep forgetting that for all that John Watson might have Scottish blood, he's English," Sherlock said.

"Might have. He does have it, or he wouldn't be a Berserker," Mycroft replied, raising a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "We've tried tracing the Watson lineage back to try and find out how he came to have Berserker blood, and we couldn't find where the two connected. But somehow, it must have."

"Mycroft, what are you going to do once John Watson is located?" Sherlock demanded as he prepared to leave.

Mycroft cast him a dark look, but made no reply.

Well. Sherlock had been considering whether or not he should tell Mycroft how the English mages had finally brought down William Wallace, but now he definitely wasn't. He wanted John Watson alive.

Mycroft had all the resources of the British Government at his disposal, and he still couldn't find John Watson without Sherlock. And if he thought that Sherlock was 'one of his resources,' he was very much mistaken.

And just to make sure, Sherlock wasn't going to use any of Mycroft's so-called resources. He had plenty of his own, after all.

John had taken out all of Mycroft's surveillance spells, all over the city. There was no indication of where he had gone after that. No one had seen him since he'd left. There were no eye witness accounts of anyone seeing anything out of the ordinary.

John Watson had a very ordinary face, and in all of his pictures, he'd looked like a man that never got noticed for anything. It wasn't until Sherlock had met him face-to-face that he'd seen what an extraordinary man John was.

He was somewhere no one could see him, and Sherlock couldn't remember a time where he was more excited for the case to take off. This was Christmas and birthday and any other possible holiday rolled up into one.

Sherlock left the government building, making sure to avoid Mycroft's recast surveillance spells. He didn't want Mycroft looking for him before he was good and ready.

Sherlock had his own resources, and he was going to use them.

OOooOO

Sherlock and Molly Hooper met up in a dirty back alleyway, behind an overflowing rubbish container. Both were wearing dirty jeans, old trainers and overlarge sweatshirts. Sherlock was wearing an American baseball cap and Molly a black head scarf.

"So, has your party found anything yet?" Sherlock asked, leaning against the rough brick wall and getting out a cigarette.

"No one has heard anything yet," Molly said. "I'll keep looking though. I can go till 8, but after that I need to go home and feed Toby."

"Your help has been appreciated," Sherlock said.

Normally, he would have just assumed she would help, but in this instance, the cause was much too important to risk seeming unappreciative. He would never have been able to cover so much of London without Molly's assistance.

"I'll be expecting a favour from you, Sherlock," Molly said.

"Perhaps," Sherlock conceded grudgingly.

Sherlock had been reading up, and apparently some of the mages that had fought in the Scottish Wars of Independence had been necromancers, like Molly. They had raised armies of the dead, and while they hadn't been able to completely stop the Berserkers, they had slowed them down.

Sherlock had never thought of using Molly's powers like that, but now that he thought of it, having an undead army sounded interesting. He didn't know how strong she was. He had never asked.

Molly likely wouldn't approve of an undead army, however, so he wouldn't mention it to her.

Yet.

"Not all of my team had reported in yet," Sherlock said.

"You should go find them then," Molly replied, smiling.

"You can go home if you like, Molly," Sherlock sighed. "Nothing else is likely to happen tonight, and another sweep is going to take hours."

Molly nodded and yawned. "Good luck, Sherlock. We'll speak tomorrow?"

"Of course," Sherlock said, nodding.

Sherlock had recruited most of his homeless network and got them to start looking for anyone that might possibly be John. The city was huge, however, and he'd asked Molly to try and help him with logistics. He trusted Molly to help find John and then defer to Sherlock on what to do about the situation. He'd told her the bare minimum of details, but she knew it was important.

Sherlock liked Lestrade, but he was much more likely to deal with John in his capacity as a police officer, and risk making John angry. That was one thing that people should try and avoid.

Sherlock didn't want John angry at him at all. He wanted John to trust him, to talk to him, to confide in him. Ever since he'd first seen those eyes through the containment shield, he'd had the burning desire to meet him face-to-face.

The last two members of his team finally showed up, and Sherlock stood up straighter.

The first shook his head, but the last nodded and smiled under her layers of dirt.

"Show me," Sherlock demanded.

"Money first," she said.

Sherlock dug into his wallet and handed over a bundle, not even bothering to count it out. Finally finding John was worth more than whatever was in his wallet.

She took the money and counted it and then nodded. "Follow me."

The two of them melted into the darkness of the alley and disappeared into the night.

Chapter Text

John stared down morosely at the half-eaten snack bar in his hand and reluctantly took another bite. He had a plastic bag full of things like crisps and packaged sandwiches from the nearest petrol station, but no matter how much he ate, he was still starving. By this point, forcing himself to eat was getting slightly depressing.

John thought that he should probably feel a bit cold at this point.

The abandoned building that he'd holed up in had no glass in the windows, and John could see his breath fogging up the air when he breathed. Strangely enough, John felt as if he were in a perfectly warm room. Was this all some sort of side effect from whatever had been done to him?

John gave up on the snack bar and put it back in the bag. There had to be something that he could do to alleviate his hunger. He was tired as well, but with the constant urge to eat something gnawing away at his thoughts, sleep seemed impossible.

John considered going back to that facility where they'd been holding him, just so that maybe they knew why his strange hunger pangs weren't cured by eating. But he couldn't forget how they'd treated him. John wasn't a monster, no matter what the Summoners had done to him. He wouldn't let them act as if he were.

Still, it was very lonely here. He didn't know what time it was in Afghanistan, but somewhere in the world, his fellow soldiers were out there, carrying on with their lives. What he wouldn't give to be back there playing cards in the shade of a jeep or sharing a meal at the mess. Even sleeping was done communally, and he would fall asleep to the sound of many people breathing.

Somehow, these government types that he had escaped from hadn't found his hiding place yet. He'd fried their surveillance network. John had been alarmed at first, but he had been able to sense magic around him. He couldn't see it, but... it almost seemed like he could smell it.

Yes, smell was the right word. The surveillance spell had smelled like electricity, like the air after a lightning bolt had stuck. It was a sharp, hot smell so acrid that John could taste it on the back of his tongue.

John leaned back against the wall and sighed. He couldn't eat, he couldn't sleep and he couldn't rejoin the human world without alerting the government to his position.

John hadn't had a plan when he escaped, and no other options were presenting themselves.

He didn't know what to do. John knew that the government considered him a threat, but John would never let himself be used against his own country. How to explain that to that strange man, Mycroft? There was no way he was letting them keep him captive again. The first time had been unnerving enough.

John didn't know if he could die. Even with the hunger, he didn't feel any closer to reaching the end of his energy. He could just keep going, just ignore the bodily needs of his vessel. The government mages had tried to keep him in, and Mycroft had tried to kill him. A lot of people had tried to kill him and failed. Was he invincible? Surely he couldn't be completely invulnerable to attack. Nothing ever worked that way, no matter how much planning went into it.

John was lost in thought when he heard it: the slight, scraping and whispering noise of someone trying to walk noiselessly, and it was amplified exponentially to the point that John could swear he knew what type of shoes this person was wearing based on the sound alone.

He was fascinated for a moment before he remembered his fugitive state and that someone creeping up on him meant that he'd been discovered.

He stood swiftly and started to move over to the window. The fire escape was a second exit from the room, and he'd rather avoid being noticed than be forced to run or fight. He knew people couldn't just leave him alone after he'd made such a commotion leaving the government place, but he'd wished he'd gotten just a bit longer to rest before being forced to flee again.

"I'm not going to tell them where you are, but you should know that I have knowledge on what you've become that you need to know."

A sharp voice, deep, confident.

What he'd become.

John wavered, prepared to vault out the nearest window at a moment's notice. However, if this man knew something about his current state, then maybe he'd be able to help John. But he wasn't going to just trust this unknown stranger.

"Show yourself," John said, focusing on the darkness by the stairway.

A tall, lean figure immediately stepped out into the open with a dramatic swirl of his mage robes and John gasped.

"You," he said in a bare whisper.

"Yes," said the man with the cascading-galaxy eyes. "You remember?"

"Of course," John said, and he suddenly realized he'd taken several steps forward without noticing.

The man took a hesitant step toward him.

John should not be so enraptured by a set of pretty eyes, but they were mesmerizing. There was something about this man that he couldn't quite put his finger on, but it made him want to be closer, to know everything about him.

"Sherlock Holmes," the man said, and held out a hand.

John could hear his heart rate increase, the blood rushing through his veins. It became even louder as he stepped forward and grasped his hand firmly, feeling the muscles in Sherlock's hand flex as he gripped John's hand in return.

"John Watson," he returned, even though Sherlock likely knew that already.

"You're so warm," Sherlock blurted, then looked away, the tips of his ears turning red. "It must be because of your Berserker blood."

John blinked down at where their hands were still joined and asked, "Am I a lot warmer than a human should be?"

"I'm not certain," Sherlock said, still facing the other way.

Had this man not had contact with a lot of other people? His own skin had been cool and smooth to the touch.

"I don't like being imprecise, and I do not have a thermometer with me," Sherlock continued, finally turning his eyes slowly back around.

"What do you have with you?" John asked, looking at the small satchel that Sherlock was carrying over one shoulder.

The thing pulsed with magic, seeming to throb with it against John's senses. This spell didn't have a scent, but it felt like a heartbeat. Sherlock's bag was riddled with spells, and John could sense all of them, intertwined and working together, like a living system.

"Something that I think might help," Sherlock said, reaching into his satchel and bringing out a massive pile of parchment all stuck together with some sort of spell that kept them neat and orderly.

The book didn't pulse or smell of anything, and John wrinkled his nose. He knew there was magic on the book, but he couldn't feel, smell, hear or see it. Could it be...? John reached out and touched the book, and he had a sort of sixth sense it was magical, but it wasn't reacting like other spells had. Hesitantly, he raised his fingers to his lips and tasted the pad of his finger with his tongue.

"Bergamot, a hint of lemon and an aftertaste of mint chocolate," John said in surprise.

"What?" Sherlock asked, frowning and staring down at the parchment in his hands.

"I can sense magic," John said. "I can tell who put spells on things by my senses. Yours feels like a heartbeat, that Mycroft person smells of lightning and whoever spelled this book tastes of tea and chocolate."

"I... haven't heard of anything like that," Sherlock said, blinking in surprise. "I read this entire thing and there was nothing on that. There must be things about Berserkers that haven't been found or recorded!"

He looked excited, but John's stomach sank. If that was all the knowledge on Berserkers they had at their disposal, and there were things that it didn't have, then maybe Sherlock couldn't help after all. And John was so hungry!

Sherlock must have misinterpreted his sigh, because he said, "I'm not going to experiment on you, John, as much as the scientist inside me wants to. Not unless you say I can."

"Thanks, I guess."

"I'm not going to lie, John, I usually would, and probably wouldn't even notice if it made you uncomfortable. But that's the main reason you fled and didn't return, isn't it. You feared being made into an experimental specimen at the government laboratory."

Now that Sherlock said it like that, John realized that was exactly what he was afraid of. A shiver of cold ran down his spine at the thought. He couldn't think of anything more demeaning and dehumanizing than being treated as data.

"So if you don't care, then why aren't you just taking me back there?" John asked, feeling nervous again.

"You'd run away, and no one would be able to stop you," Sherlock said. "You'd stir up a lot of chaos and excitement, and although I generally like those things, Mycroft would be insufferable."

"You know Mycroft?"

"He's my brother. I sometimes consult for him, but mostly for the police, as they are usually more out of their depth and have far more interesting cases."

"Consult? What are you an expert on?"

"Deduction, and experimental magic," Sherlock said, beaming. "Mostly deduction though. Such as: I can tell you're an army doctor, very recently returned from Afghanistan or Iraq. Military haircut and stance gives you away as a soldier, tan and slight sunburn tells me you were in a desert environment until recently and the remains of your uniform tell me you were RAMC. Also, the fact you can control your rage in the Berserker state tells me that you have nerves of steel and a will of iron. Your only fear seems to be be imprisonment. John, you are an extraordinary mystery."

"You could have found that from anywhere," John said. "It's in my file."

"Oh, I could have done it any number of ways, but I didn't," Sherlock said, and his heart rate stayed even and steady. He was telling the truth.

"You could tell all that just by looking at me," John said.

Sherlock nodded, and he seemed so pleased with John's attention that he'd completely forgotten about coming to help John and the papers under his arm.

"Brilliant," John said, grinning at the small flush that rose to Sherlock's cheekbones at the compliment.

"That's not what people usually say," he said.

"What do they usually say then?"

"Piss off."

John giggled and Sherlock smiled at him.

"So, what's with all that?" John asked after a few moments of them beaming dopily at each other.

"Oh, this!" Sherlock went over to the wall, sat down and leaned against it, pulling all the papers out and spreading them out across the floor. "This is all the research I could uncover on Berserkers."

"Whose spell is on it then?" John teased.

"Oh, fine, I had some help, but it was important to find it quickly. This is all from the time before England's army of mages slaughtered the Wallace Clan back in the beginning of the 14th century. It's the best information possible and has been collected over years and years of work. The rest has been lost to the careless destruction of vital information by some idiots in the 14th century who thought we would never need it again."

"As if they could have foreseen that 700 years later, people would regret its destruction," John said, shaking his head.

"Knowledge!" Sherlock cried, waving his hands. "Why would anyone destroy the possibility of further learning and research?"

"Perhaps they had just gotten out of a long and bloody war with angry Berserkers that they thought they had exterminated?" John shrugged. "People do things they otherwise wouldn't when they're scared."

"People," Sherlock said, rolling his eyes. Then, he launched into a rambling monologue about John's new abilities as a Berserker.

As Sherlock talked, John approached his position hesitantly and sat down beside Sherlock with a careful few inches of space left between them. Sherlock didn't take any notice of his proximity, except to turn to show him pages with names and dates on them or other bits of research. John kept leaning over to look at them, and slowly but surely, they inched together until John's shoulder was pressed up against Sherlock's.

"I don't like the looks of this," John said, lifting up one artist's depiction of a Berserker complete with devil horns and jagged teeth.

"Terrible likeness," Sherlock snorted. "Twits. Going and equating things with religion again. You are much more magnificent when you're in Berserker mode."

John blushed, and realizing that the whole length of his arm was pressed against Sherlock's body, eased back.

"Is there anything in there about food?" he asked, noticing his hunger again.

"Oh yes, Berserkers subsist on ash and steam," Sherlock said blithely. "They cannot consume human food anymore."

John was silent, and then Sherlock seemed to realize.

"Oh, you haven't eaten since you were taken in Afghanistan," Sherlock said, sounding embarrassed that he hadn't thought of that sooner.

"No, I haven't," John said, digging through the bag of food and getting out two sandwiches. "Do you think that I can turn this into ash and just eat it then?"

"Ah, no, you can turn it to ash while it's in your mouth, when you're chewing," Sherlock said, eyes wide and gleaming. "Instead of saliva, you have fire."

"Wait, so all I had to do was eat while I was in the Berserker state?" John groaned. "And here I was avoiding that so people wouldn't notice me."

"I can put up concealment spells," Sherlock said. "Black out the windows and soundproof the walls, that kind of thing."

"Oh, yes," John said, expecting Sherlock to leap up and whirl around the room.

Instead, he lazily waved a hand, and the windows blackened and began pulsing with Sherlock's magic, and then he did the walls as well. Soon, the entire room around them was throbbing with magic, and Sherlock had moved one hand.

"You're a powerful mage," John said, awed.

"No, I'm fairly ordinary for power levels," Sherlock said. "It's my focus that makes me incredible. My brain at work."

"You might want to back up a bit," John warned. "It gets a bit... hot up close and personal."

"Oh, no, I'll be fine here," Sherlock said, actually leaning forward to watch.

John sighed, but let the fire rise to the surface of his skin. As his skin flared and turned a molten gold-red, Sherlock tried to touch his hand. John twitched back instinctively, glaring.

"You might get burnt," John said, and now his voice was hissing again.

"Eat this sandwich," Sherlock said, ignoring the rebuke.

John did, and as he chewed, instead of becoming soggy with saliva and disintegrating, it crumbled. John swallowed and then took another bite. It felt a bit strange, but now he could finally feel himself getting full again. He managed to finish that sandwich and half of the other one. He also drank a bottle of water, and it steamed and frothed in his mouth.

"You have steam coming out your nose," Sherlock said, grinning.

John laughed, and once he was done, let the fire simmer down until it was back underneath his skin again. Sherlock reached out and touched his fingertips to John's arm.

"No residual heat," Sherlock reported. "You feel fever-warm, but I assume it's a side effect. Apart from that, I don't think you need to worry about burning anyone coming out of your Berserker state."

"You weren't supposed to test that with your hand, you idiot," John said, rolling his eyes. "Now finish this sandwich I didn't eat."

"I'm not hungry," Sherlock said promptly.

"I can hear your heartbeat speeding up, I know you're lying," John said. "Now eat."

"Digestion interrupts my thought patterns," Sherlock started to protest.

"I've never heard a bigger load of bollocks in my life. Eat," John demanded.

Sherlock scrunched his nose, but at John's insistence, took the sandwich.

"This is terrible and is not fit for human consumption," Sherlock reported around a mouthful of ham and swiss. "You should eat the rest."

Despite his protest, he did finish, and John went back to looking through the pages and pages of information. He thought Sherlock was looking as well, but about fifteen minutes later, he found Sherlock's head had fallen onto his shoulder and he was fast asleep. John smiled. Apparently digestion made him sleepy.

Careful not to jostle Sherlock's sleeping form, he continued going through the papers.

Apparently female Berserkers were even more dangerous than male ones. Male Berserkers would eventually give up if they lost sight of their enemy, but a female would keep pursuing it and pursuing it even if it killed her. As for a female Progenitor... their rate of being able to reproduce Berserkers was incredible.

John kept reading further and his eyes widened.

"Sherlock, I think I figured out how the Wallace Clan survived."

"Oh, really, have you John?" a voice came from the very same stairwell that Sherlock had arrived in earlier. "Why don't you share what you've found out with the rest of us?"

John bolted upright into a crouch and Sherlock came awake with a start, somehow falling in behind John exactly as if he had combat training. As John waited, he smelled it, the crackle of burnt lightning filled the room.

As expected, Mycroft rounded the corner, leaning on his umbrella and favouring them both with a saccharine smile.

"Oh, how sweet. You've lulled my dear brother into sleep without any trouble. You know, he's never slept with anyone like that before. You must be special. Should I expect a certain announcement in the coming days?"

John glared at Mycroft and straightened slowly.

"Mycroft," Sherlock growled from behind him. "You said you'd let me complete this case."

"Oh, the case is just getting started, but I think you've had long enough," Mycroft said. "It's time to come back now, John. We have something of yours, and I think you'd like it back unharmed.

"What?" John asked, confused and angry.

In response, Mycroft brought up a glimmering surveillance spell and showed them the very same containment room John had been inside earlier. It had one occupant, a woman, stocky, blonde hair, midnight eyes, just like John.

They had Harry.

Chapter Text

A sister.

Sherlock's groggy brain whirred to life and started firing ideas and information rapidly, almost too fast for him to contain.

Female Berserkers. Harry and John shared the same blood. Progenitor blood. Whoever was after John and his Berserker blood could do just as well with Harry. Threatening Berserkers never ended well. They needed to protect her. Couldn't they see that making John angry and desperate was the last thing that they should do?

Before he could inform Mycroft of anything he was thinking and try to arrange something else that was less likely to end in disaster, John set the room on fire.

Flames came to life all around, climbing the walls and licking the ceiling, and the sound was horrendous, like screaming. It was almost unbearably hot, and Sherlock could already feel the lack of oxygen in the surrounding area. It wouldn't take long for the fire to consume all of it and leave him and Mycroft gasping.

"John!" he cried out, but there was nothing he could say that would stop him.

"Return my sister," John roared, his voice terrible.

"Or what?" Mycroft demanded, standing his ground in the middle of the inferno. "If you burn me, you will never see your sister again."

"Oh, Mycroft," Sherlock moaned, feeling the sweat pouring down his back and over his forehead. "Resorting to threats and violence? Surely you see that this will only end terribly."

"If you don't give her back, I'll make your brother into a Berserker."

"Wait, John!" Sherlock said, aghast.

He thought they were becoming friends. Sherlock had brought him the book, and told him all the things that he needed to know.

Suddenly, a wall of flame separated him from his brother. Normally, he would love to be as far away from his brother as possible. Right now, there was the strong possibility he would be turned into a rage-filled, mindless monster.

"I know how it works. I know how to do it. I could make him one of mine, and he would be under my control. You'd have to kill him to bring me down. And not just him. I can create an army, or didn't you know that?"

Sherlock trembled. He couldn't become that, not a beast without any will or brainpower. It was fine for John, he was still in control because he was a Progenitor. But if he turned Sherlock, then Sherlock would just be a puppet that followed John's every command.

"Mycroft!" he yelled desperately. "What are you doing? He'll do it, you know. He'll burn London to the ground!" Sherlock was finding it very hard to breathe, and he fell to his knees. "You've finally found it, John Watson's breaking point. Something that would make him burn his beloved city and turn against Queen and country."

"I cannot have the same weakness," Mycroft said, and he sounded angry. "John Watson, if you do not stand down, I will have your sister shot!"

"If you shoot my sister, all of England will burn," John promised, and his voice sounded deadly. "You have 24 hours to release my sister, Mr. Holmes. If you do not, I will fulfill my first threat and make your brother a Berserker. And if you hurt one hair on her head, I will make you suffer."

"I do not negotiate with terrorists."

"You are the one that made me into one. I would never have thought to do any harm to anyone until you took my last remaining family member. I will be taking this as collateral."

Sherlock passed out before he could hear anything more.

OOooOO

Sherlock woke up with a pounding head and lying in the recovery position. He tried to sit up, but his head felt wobbly, like it wasn't properly attached. He groaned, clutching his head and managed to get in a more upright position by leaning against the wall.

He'd passed out from lack of oxygen. Little wonder his head felt like it was about to fall off.

"I'm sorry," a voice said, and Sherlock raised his head to see John sitting at a little table.

"What?" he asked, and his voice was hoarse and dry.

"Oh," John stood up and left his line of vision, returning with a glass of water.

Sherlock gulped it down and then slammed the empty glass down on the floor. He looked around, trying to figure out where he was.

It was a little flat, cheap and somewhat cluttered. There was a row of empty bottles of varying shape and size lined up along one windowsill. It quickly became apparent that only one person lived here, female, between her late 20s and early 30s, alcoholic.

"This is your sister's flat," Sherlock said, staying very still as John watched him.

"Yes," John said. "Mycroft knows exactly where we are. Six of the twenty-four hours I gave him have since elapsed."

"Are you really going to do as you threatened?"

"They've backed me into a corner. Harry is my only family that I have left, and as much as we don't get along most of the time, she's my sister. If you threaten a Watson, you threaten them all. That's what we used to say, my family, back when my extended family was still alive."

"But will you?"

"If he doesn't return Harry to me, there's not much else I can do."

"You could surrender," Sherlock said quietly.

John didn't say anything, but his mouth thinned and the muscles in his shoulders clenched tight. Obviously he had realized that surrender was an option. Logically, it was the best option. No one got hurt, and surely John knew that no matter what, containing him was not something that was feasible? No, it was too late. Mycroft had tried to use force, and a Berserker never responded well to threats.

There was a knock at the door, and John looked up sharply.

"It can't be Mycroft," Sherlock said. "He really doesn't negotiate with terrorists."

"I'm not a terrorist. I'm an ordinary bloke that was kidnapped and turned into a monster against his will and then imprisoned by the government even though I haven't done anything wrong."

John got up cautiously, and Sherlock could see the lick of flames rise to the surface of his skin. Sherlock wondered if it was conscious, or if John's instinctive response to possible peril was to raise his defenses.

He stood up and followed curiously. He knew it wasn't Mycroft.

A thin man with dark hair and even darker eyes was leaned up against the doorframe, and the grin he directed at them was sharp and jagged.

"Who are you?" John demanded, fire crackling along his arms.

"Ah, so it is true. You can control your Berserker state," the man didn't cease his unnerving smile. "Jim Moriarty. Hi!"

"Who?" John asked, but Sherlock jerked back in surprise.

"Oh, this one's heard of me. He's a clever one, isn't he," Moriarty stood and strolled casually into the front entrance.

"He's a Dark Mage," Sherlock said warningly. "I have heard rumours of the things that he does. I've heard he does Blood magic and Dark spells and... and ritual Summoning..."

"Ah, he's worked it out," Moriarty said, sounding absolutely delighted.

"He's the one that gave the Dark Summoners the information they needed to Summon you and transform you into a Berserker."

John's flames roared up around him.

"Oh, don't be like that," Moriarty cooed. "It was a business deal. They were going to try and Summon you anyway, I just gave them what they needed to do it properly and not halfway."

Sherlock winced. A botched spell usually meant very bad things for whoever the caster was. Also, the subject of the spell rarely survived the process.

"So why are you here?" John said, voice hissing and crackling.

"I came because a nasty man has taken something you'd very much like returned," Moriarty said with a slick smile. "There's a Miss Harriet Watson that needs rescuing, am I correct?"

"How do you know that?" John glared at him suspiciously. "How do I know you'll help me. This is for your own gain again, isn't it. Just like the last 'business transaction' you did. The last one didn't work out too well for me, if you'll recall."

"Oh, but that's because my deal was with those Summoners!" Moriarty said. "If I make a deal with you, then it's for your benefit."

"The deal didn't work out too well for the Summoners either," John said darkly.

Moriarty laughed. "You've got me there! Not my fault you escaped them. How was I to know you were a Progenitor!"

"How do you know that?" Sherlock asked. "All the information on Berserkers is – "

"I know all about Kirkland's research," Moriarty said dismissively. "Don't think I didn't notice all his little trips to distant lands, trying to find real Elementals. There are places in the world where the urban sprawl hasn't reached yet. He's been visiting Canada quite a lot in recent months, and while he was gone, a little peek was all I needed."

"So what do you want?" John asked, teeth bared.

"Oh, just a little exchange, nothing big," Moriarty said airily. "I just get you your sister back, and you make me a couple of Berserkers."

"A couple?" John said, frowning.

"Yes, two. No more, no less," Moriarty said, holding up two fingers as if to demonstrate. "And I return you sister to you safe and sound."

"John, no," Sherlock protested. "He's up to something. He's not telling you everything."

And then everything went to hell.

One moment, John was looking at Moriarty with consideration and Moriarty was grinning at him like a devil about to make a contract with an unsuspecting victim. The next, all the windows on Harriet's flat burst inward in a shower of glittering shards. It took Sherlock a moment to realize that the reason they were glittering was because they were frozen. Mages with Ice spells were attacking the flat.

"John!" Sherlock yelled, shielding his head with his hands.

Several people in dark clothing vaulted through the broken windows and arrayed themselves around the room, ice growing and falling from their fingertips. Usually mages favoured loose robes, but these mages were wearing body armour with fire-resistant spells layered overtop.

A glance at the door showed that Moriarty had fled.

So Mycroft had come after all.

John turned into a pillar of fire and began hurling fireballs at the intruders. The mages began flinging ice bolts in return, and although John easily deflected them, soon the air was filled with deadly shrapnel. Sherlock put up his own shield spell and began army crawling toward the door. He was no combat mage, and there was no way he was staying in the middle of an all-out mage battle.

He managed to get out the door and emerged onto what was supposed to be a quiet residential street, but was currently packed with black vans and more government people who were creating a perimeter.

If they thought that they would be able to capture John, they were very much mistaken. Maybe they hadn't seen the history books, but Sherlock had read all the accounts. Nothing but a full-on plunge into three months of icy winter would bring a Progenitor down.

As soon as he was clear, Sherlock was surrounded by several of the agents.

"Is that him?"

"Affirmative."

"Bring in air support."

A helicopter with a search light came into view above the roofline of the flats, and it came in as close as it could, but didn't land. Something was thrown out the open door and uncoiled into the night air. It was a reinforced rope ladder.

Sherlock had no idea what was going on, but before he could get a word in edgewise, he was strapped into a harness and the harness was snapped on to the ladder. Two agents jumped onto the ladder with them, and one of them yelled into a radio. And just like that, Sherlock found himself hundreds of feet up in the air and attached to a moving helicopter by a rope ladder.

The ladder was drawn into the helicopter, which was good, because Sherlock couldn't bring himself to move. Hands reached out to drag him into the interior of the helicopter and guided him to a seat where he was then strapped in.

"What's going on?" Sherlock finally said.

"Target acquired, withdraw," one of the agents said into her headpiece.

"You've been rescued from the hostile force," the agent said to him.

Sherlock could hardly believe it. His brother actually did care whether or not he was turned into a monster.

"What about John?" he asked.

"Our orders were to withdraw immediately upon retrieval of the target. Do not engage with the hostile force."

Sherlock settled back into the uncomfortable seat and was silent for the rest of the ride back to Mycroft's HQ. This entire situation was just one big mess. It sounded like Mycroft didn't even realize Moriarty was involved.

OOooOO

Mycroft wasn't listening.

"You were only with him six hours. A little early to be developing Stockholm Syndrome, isn't it, Sherlock?"

"No, I'm saying that you have to return John's sister to him. Didn't you hear me? Moriarty is using your threat to get to John! You've taken away his only leverage and now he'll be desperate. You've given him only one option, and that's to accept Moriarty's offer!"

"We can deal with Moriarty."

"You didn't even realize that Moriarty was the one to start this entire thing. He had a plan, and now you've played John straight back into his hands. Exactly where you didn't want him to be."

"Well, now we do know, so we can move to counterattack him," Mycroft seemed very calm for someone facing a Dark Mage who now had access to a Progenitor.

Sherlock stifled a scream of frustration and covered his face with his hands. Mycroft didn't get people, it was plainly obvious. Sherlock chose not to get along with people most of the time, but when it was important, he knew exactly what to say to get them to do what he needed them to. Mycroft was doing the exact opposite, driving John away.

"We can predict his movements, Sherlock. Don't worry. Soon this entire thing will be over."

Oh yes, it would be over. Very very much over for the Kingdom of Great Britain. He'd explained to Mycroft what a Progenitor could do, so why wasn't he listening? Did he discount the research source, just because it was Kirkland who had given it to them?

There was one person whose movement he couldn't predict, and that was Sherlock's. Sherlock needed to fix this, and soon.

It didn't take him long to figure out where they were holding Harriet Watson. Mycroft thought he was so clever, hiding all of her personal details and any mention of her connection with John. But Sherlock didn't need her name or anything Mycroft thought he needed to find her. There were patterns, and things that changed when something happened.

There were a lot more security precautions suddenly in place in areas where there hadn't been before. It wasn't anything big, just one more person here, and additional security protocol there. But it was a change in a running system, and Sherlock noticed. One more person in holding cells, a person not in the paperwork, a person that needed food and other basic necessities.

One thing stood out in particular: the addition of a substance abuse counsellor to the staff.

Alcoholic sister, check.

Mages were always expecting things to be done with spells and discounted non-mages as non-threatening. They were always on the lookout for Invisibility spells and Concealment spells Lock-breaking charms, Search spells. What they were not expecting was for Sherlock to break into various places with an ordinary set of lock-picks, create himself a new ID, use a wig, coloured contacts and his own skill at acting as a disguise and worm his way deep into places he was definitely not supposed to be.

It was ridiculously easy, and Sherlock thought that he might want to have a word with his brother about security protocols with his brother once this was all over.

He entered the supposedly secure cell and found Harriet Watson reading a book that someone had lent her, bored and lying supine on her single bed.

"What do you want now?" she said in a very bored voice.

"Harriet Watson, do you know why you are being held here?" Sherlock asked.

"For the thousandth time, no I don't. Will you quit asking me? I have no idea, the question is getting boring and no one will tell me what I don't know."

"It's because of John," Sherlock said.

Harriet sat up, dropping her book. "What about John? He's in Afghanistan right now, fighting your bloody war. You let him alone now! What have I got to do with it?"

"Harriet –"

"Call me Harry."

"Harry. Something terrible has happened to your brother. He was kidnapped and turned into an Elemental creature by a man called Moriarty."

"What???" Harry yelled and got quickly to her feet.

"I'm not a government agent," Sherlock said rapidly. "I'm trying to help him. The government has you because they are trying to threaten and control your brother."

"Those bastards. How dare they take an ordinary citizen out of her home and imprison her!' Harry said angrily. "Where is Johnny?"

"The last time I saw John he was at your flat, although I don't think he remained there. Moriarty was also trying to use his connection to you to his advantage."

"I hate these people. Using family to threaten a decent bloke like my brother. How dare they!" Harry began pacing and ranting under her breath.

"Harry, there is a solution, which I've been trying to tell you."

"And what's that."

"We have to get you out of here and to safety so that they can't use you as leverage against John."

"You can get me out?"

"That's what I'm here for," Sherlock said. "But we have to leave right now. Will you come with me?"

"Yes, of course!" Harry stopped in front of him. "Lead the way!"

Sherlock quickly took off his jacket and took a cap out of one of the pockets. There was also a rolled up t-shirt hidden inside.

"Quick, into these. You can't look like an inmate."

Luckily, the rough trousers Harry was wearing were light blue and could be mistaken for jeans from a distance. They wouldn't hold up under much scrutiny, but Sherlock didn't need to get them very far.

"Okay, follow my lead. Walk steadily, like you belong here. We're not meandering, we're not in a rush. Any sign of us running will cause them to notice us."

"Where are we going?" Harry asked in a whisper.

"Just back outside the cell block and down the hall. They always think about stopping people from getting in, but not about getting out. There are Mage Dampers all over this area to prevent mage prisoners from escaping, but none down the hall, so that Mages who work here can work. Which means I can do a Teleport spell."

"Where are we going after that?"

"We have to find John," Sherlock said. "Are you ready?"

Harry nodded firmly.

"Then let's go."

Chapter Text

John huddled in the darkness of the narrow back alleyway, carefully hidden between two rubbish bins with the hood of a jacket pulled down over his face. While he'd been at Harry's, he'd managed to find something to wear that would be inconspicuous while he was trying to avoid Mycroft's people and figure out what to do.

It really smelled very horrible where he was, and he was squatted down gingerly, not wanting to sit down among the refuse. He would have to find another place to rest later.

He'd lost his leverage.

John couldn't believe after all that he'd been through to escape both his kidnappers and Mycroft's facility and the things he'd done to try and get Harry back, he'd lost the one thing that might work. Part of him was glad that Sherlock had escaped him, but that was his morality bleeding through. Threatening civilians was something that made his stomach churn with dread, and he'd never thought he'd be the one doing it.

How would he ever be able to hold his head up high again after that? He'd not only lost his leverage, he'd lost his moral high ground after the stunt he'd pulled.

He was so angry. The rage burned in his gut and he wanted to scream and punch things, because he was so helpless. He hadn't wanted to do anything like what he'd done – never dreamed that it could be him that was seen as the bad guy. Never thought that it would ever be him that was seen as a threat to his own country. He'd been forced to, and the fact that he'd seen no other recourse but to go against everything that made him John Watson made him sick with such despair that for several minutes, he debated just turning himself in.

Surely being imprisoned would be better than this terrible feeling in his gut at his own actions? And maybe if he turned himself in, they'd let Harry go.

He'd threatened to burn down England. And that was something that he could actually do, so as far as threats went, it was not an idle one. How could he have done that?

Why did they have to take Harry? He'd have been happy to cooperate, been happy to tell them whatever they needed without coercion, but instead Mycroft kept trying to restrain him and threaten him.

And now Mycroft still had Harry and he'd lost Sherlock, and he was fast running out of options. He couldn't leave Harry where she was, and he certainly could not burn down England. He'd told Mycroft that he would, but Sherlock had been wrong. He couldn't do it.

There was still that Moriarty character about somewhere, but John didn't trust him. Apart from the fact that he'd been the one mostly responsible for John being forcibly transformed into a Berserker in the first place, when John looked him in the eye, all he could see was blackness. And the feeling coming from him was cold, so cold that it made his Berserker instincts want to run as far away from the man as possible.

Nothing. There was nothing that he could do to make everything okay again.

Except, as Sherlock had said, turn himself in. Turn himself in to people that had wanted to treat him like a mindless monster. It was the government, and he'd been in a secret facility. Who knew what they got up to in there, and what they'd do to John if they got ahold of him.

He had to stop thinking like that, not if he wanted to find the nerve to do what was needed to keep both Harry and his country safe.

They'd been right about one thing. John was a danger to England with men like Moriarty around, men that had made John wonder even for a second if he should take his offer in exchange for his sister.

The main problem was that John had knocked down all of Mycroft's surveillance spells again. What was he supposed to do to get Mycroft's attention again?

John wondered about this for several minutes and then nearly smacked himself for taking this long to figure it out. All he had to do was turn himself into the police. Mycroft was surely monitoring them for any signs of John and would come pick him up shortly, flash all his government ID and take John away.

It was like something out of a bad movie, really.

Sighing, John got to his feet, glad to be away from the smells of the alleyway at least. No one gave him a second glance, and it made John feel a bit strange to be a wanted fugitive that no one recognized.

He had to walk all the way to the Met on his own. It figured that if he wanted himself arrested, he'd have to do all the work himself.

When he walked into NSY almost an hour later, he did start receiving a few strange looks. He took the hood off his head, realizing that it was silly to hide his face to avoid being recognized when he was turning himself in.

"Um, hello," he said, and the receptionist gave him a bland smile.

"I've, um, I've come to... er. Turn myself in."

"Turn yourself in for what, horrible fashion sense?" the receptionist laughed at her own joke. "Not our jurisdiction, mate."

"Um, no. I'm a threat to society as you know it," John said.

It wasn't as if he could tell her that he could turn himself into a ball of fire, and torch all of England if he so chose.

"Really?" she raised her eyebrow. "You don't even look like you'd warrant an ASBO. Did you commit any crimes?"

John thought for a minute and then said, "Does kidnapping the brother of the British Government count as a crime?"

The receptionist shrugged and pressed a button on her phone. "I've got you guys a repentant criminal in the lobby. Come deal with him, would you?"

Not long afterward, a young woman with curly hair and wearing dark red mage robes came down the elevator with a young man that looked as if he were fresh out of high school.

"I'm Sergeant Donovan," she introduced herself. "This is PC Edwards, and we're going to process you, okay?" She gave the young man a significant look.

"Um, right," Edwards said, squaring his shoulders.

The poor man stumbled his way through the "read your rights" spiel while Donovan watched critically, and John thought it was just his luck that it was training day at the Met. John waited patiently and nodded in all the right places. He was escorted upstairs and into an interrogation room, and then he had to wait again.

Being arrested sure was boring.

Sgt. Donovan returned, this time without the PC that was apparently fresh out of the academy. She took her time organizing her papers and setting up the microphone, explaining the procedure of being interrogated to him.

"So, what crime did you commit?" she finally asked, tapping her pen on the table.

"I kidnapped Sherlock Holmes," he started.

To his surprise, she burst out laughing.

"Did you really?" she asked. "I know he's an annoying git, but no one has taken their ire with him in that direction before. Just before you go any farther, I can tell you that I completely understand."

She really didn't, but it was interesting that she would think that.

"Um, yes. I kidnapped him. Knocked him out and dragged him round to my sister's place..."

And she was off laughing again, this time too hard to speak for several minutes. When she finally got her breath back, she was clutching her ribs and wiping at her eyes.

"I'm sorry," she said, still giggling. "I can't do this. I'm getting Lestrade, he can deal with this one."

John waited again, and this time a man with silver hair marched through the door, shaking his head and closing it behind him.

"So, you kidnapped Sherlock," Lestrade said. "I know Donovan wasn't very professional a moment ago, you'll have to forgive her. I have to ask though, is Sherlock's state of health something I need to worry about at the moment?"

"He's fine, he got away." In a spectacular fashion, as John remembered it. Also something out of an action movie with a ridiculous plot and even more ridiculously choreographed action scenes.

"Right," Lestrade shook his head again, as if he didn't want to believe it, but very honestly did believe that Sherlock could end up kidnapped.

"Um, so you know Sherlock then?" John asked tentatively.

"Oh, yes, he consults with us sometimes," Lestrade said with a yawn and a wave.

"Why aren't you more concerned that I kidnapped him?" John asked, frowning. They were treating this case very frivolously, if you asked him.

"He got away, and you say he's fine," Lestrade said with a shrug. "I'll even call him to confirm it myself in a moment. Besides, you hardly seem like the threatening type."

The man had no idea.

"You might want to reevaluate that," John said.

"Well, are you sorry that you kidnapped him?" Lestrade asked.

"More than sorry," John replied, still trying to figure out where the DI was going with this.

"I expect the experience of having kidnapped Sherlock Holmes is more than punishment enough for anyone," Lestrade said with a short laugh. "I'll let you off with a warning, but you might want to limit your crime spree to traffic tickets and jaywalking."

How could it be so hard to get arrested when Mycroft and his government network no doubt had a nation-wide manhunt on for him?

"I think you'll find I'm wanted by the government," John tried.

"Well, Mycroft always was a little over-protective of his brother," Lestrade mused. "You'd probably do best avoiding him for a bit if you really did kidnap Sherlock."

John threw his hands up in exasperation. "I'm a terrorist, for Christ's sake!"

Lestrade just chuckled and got out his phone. "Fine, if it suits you, I'll call Mycroft and tell him that I've got you in custody."

Finally.

Lestrade hummed and tapped his foot while he waited to be connected.

"Yes, hello Mycroft. I know you're busy, you don't have to tell me that. I know you said this line was for emergencies only. Okay, Sherlock emergencies only. Well, it is sort of a Sherlock emergency. Man here says he kidnapped your brother."

There was a pause, and Lestrade shot an incredulous glance over at John.

"Yeah, short fellow, dirty blond hair. Name's..." Lestrade checked his statement from where Donovan had been interviewing him. "John Watson."

John could hear Mycroft's voice on the other end, and Lestrade's face went from amused to deadly serious in the space of a second.

"Really, him?" Lestrade asked, staring at John and frowning. "His entire being says geniality. Donovan's aura spell didn't pick up any violent urges or anything like that."

Lestrade listened for a few more moments and then hung up the phone.

"Apparently, you are extremely dangerous and need to be kept in an isolated cell," Lestrade said, staring at John.

"Yes, I expected as much," John replied with a sigh.

Lestrade escorted him to a cell with a dubious expression on his face. John sighed, and settled into a corner of the cell to wait. Lestrade locked it. There was no point in telling him that the cell would never hold him if his intention was to escape. He wouldn't be believed anyway.

It took a surprisingly short time for Mycroft to get there, and to his eternal surprise, the man actually showed up in person, looking very out of place in the drab cell.

"Interesting," Mycroft said. "Why would a man turn himself in when there is nothing to gain from it."

Mycroft's flat, analytical stare made the hair on the back of John's neck stand on end.

"I stand to gain my sister," John said, glaring. "You have to release her, and promise not to hurt her."

Something in Mycroft's gaze shifted, but John couldn't figure out what that meant. He was probably just imagining it, anyway.

"I will promise that, if you promise not to try and escape again."

John rolled his eyes. "Yes, I promise not to escape again."

Try. As if they could stop him if he really wanted to get out. Didn't they get it yet? He was going of his own volition, and agreeing to do what they wanted. There was no need to use threats or force to gain his compliance.

If Mycroft took note of his omitted word, he gave no outward sign. He gestured to John to leave the cell ahead of him, and two mages dressed similarly to the ones that had attacked him last night fell in on either side of him. It was a formality only, because Mycroft knew that if he valued his sister's life, he would go quietly.

They didn't cuff him or use any physical force against him. There was no show of dominance or any power plays, although they could have gotten away with it. They just escorted him down to a waiting car, one without bars, and drove him back to the facility.

Well, that was that. John really didn't know what to expect now that he was back in their custody. When the car arrived, he was taken to a room with a bed and a side table, with a little desk in the corner. It looked a bit like a cross between a hospital room and a hotel. It was still very sterile and white, but it was obviously supposed to be somewhere he could stay for a long while.

He wasn't shut in. They didn't even bother to lock the door or tell him that there were places he wasn't allowed to go.

He didn't have any bags or anything else that was his, so there was really no need to settle in, like he would if he were in a hotel or staying with friends. They brought him a change of clothes, and even though they were generic and a bit dull, they weren't weird hospital-like clothes or robes like he was expecting.

There was a knock on the door, and Mycroft entered a moment later.

"Do you usually take care of these types of things personally?" John asked.

"National emergencies?" Mycroft asked, raising an eyebrow. "Yes."

"Can I see Harry?" John asked.

"She is no longer here," Mycroft said, and that flicker was back in his eye.

"Oh," John said morosely. "Can she visit?"

"We'll see."

And after all this, getting dragged by magic across the continent and getting turned into a monster, he didn't even get to see his only remaining family member.

"Can I have a book?"

He'd gotten a book, although it wasn't one he would have chosen for himself to read. He also received a meal and consequently had to explain that his eating habits might be a little alarming, but that they shouldn't be afraid.

They had looked a little scared as his Berserker half flared up in order for him to eat his food, but a moment later, he'd had a group of what looked like scientists come around to watch him. It was a bit odd, being observed while eating, and John got the absurd wish that they were all eating, and it wasn't just him.

He didn't like it, but acknowledged that things could have been a lot worse. Perhaps Mycroft had learned from his last attempt to control John.

John was about fifty pages in to Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when Mycroft reappeared in his room, and this time the look he had about him was decidedly one of agitation, if not carefully veiled fear.

Well, it was not John's doing, so he would have to keep his end of the promise.

"Doctor Watson, I have not been entirely truthful with you," Mycroft started, and John narrowed his eyes.

"Oh?" John asked, the rumble of fire threatening to erupt in his voice.

"When you came in, I assumed that you knew that your sister Harriet had escaped our confines."

When John dragged in a surprised breath, Mycroft continued. "I took advantage when I realized your ignorance of this fact, thinking that if you thought I had Harriet, you would cooperate."

"You were right in that," John said, and his voice was dark with anger. "So why are you telling me now?"

"Well... circumstances have changed," Mycroft said, and John could tell his reluctance in letting John in on the knowledge, as well as his certainty that John needed to know, for some reason.

"Where is Harry?" John demanded. "How did she escape?"

Mycroft's face turned sour. "It might surprise you to know, Doctor Watson, that my very own brother Sherlock played a part in the escape of your sister."

Sherlock had saved Harry. Even after what John had done, kidnapping and threatening him, Sherlock had still gone and rescued his sister.

"Why?" John asked.

"I can't say for certain, but I believe that my brother has something of a fascination for you."

"That's not true at all," John said, a conviction rising in his chest, a conviction that made his chest feel full and heavy with it. "He knew it was the right thing to do. He's been trying to tell you for ages what you could do to resolve this situation without threats of violence or attempts at imprisonment. Maybe what he had to say fell on deaf ears, but I heard him. He tried to tell you, and you didn't listen, to your detriment."

"Perhaps, although I will not say that fascination does not play some part in his decision," Mycroft said. "His reasons are irrelevant. I'm not telling you this from some sort of crisis of conscience."

"I'm not even sure you have one," John said nastily.

"Enough!" Mycroft snapped. "This is more important than petty squabbling–"

"Squabbling?" John interrupted incredulously. "You kidnapped me and imprisoned me! This is not a petty squabble as if you've never done anything to make me dislike and mistrust you."

"I really suggest that you do not interrupt," Mycroft gritted out, composure lost. "We need to work together now, for the sake of our siblings."

"What?" John frowned. "Why?"

"Because they've gone missing," Mycroft said.

"They could just be hiding from you," John pointed out.

"No, it's not that at all," Mycroft said, shaking his head in frustration. "I had them tracked, back to your sister's flat, and evidence tells me that they meant to stay at least the night."

"You were going to re-kidnap my sister?" John asked in a dangerous voice. "After I gave myself up so that you would let her go?"

"We've already established that I was manipulating your impression of our agreement," Mycroft said. "Yes. I would have done that, to keep England safe. That is not the point. The point is, that when my agents arrived at the flat, they were both gone."

"They could have realized that they were discovered," John suggested.

"No," Mycroft shook his head. "That's what I've been trying to inform you, Doctor Watson. They didn't know we were coming and they did not leave of their own volition. Someone else got there first, and neither of them went quietly."

John remembered the state of the flat as he'd left it.

"How do you know?"

"The stench of blood magic is unmistakeable."

A bunch of photos were thrust under his nose, and John leafed through them. He felt a cold weight settle in his gut. He might not be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but he definitely recognized those runes. This lead him to only one conclusion.

"Moriarty."

Chapter Text

The state of Harry Watson's flat was that of total destruction – absolutely, completely wrecked, and Harry looked around wildly, eyes wide with dismay and anger.

"What the hell happened here?" she demanded.

"My brother – the man that kidnapped you – attacked your brother because he kidnapped me. John was angered by this, and as a result... this happened."

This was a state of complete chaos and destruction. The walls were scorched black up to the ceiling, and everything in it that wasn't metal had been burnt to a crisp. Her couch, that Sherlock himself had been asleep on at one point, was nothing more than a blackened frame that threatened collapse at any moment. A set of plastic shelves had melted, and now formed a grotesque, misshapen thing. The windows were shattered, and the glass had melted and rehardened into globs on the floor.

"My TV!" Harry cried, examining another half-melted form. "I'd just finished paying it off, too!"

"More important things to worry about," Sherlock reminded her.

Harry ignored him, looking at the connected kitchenette, which had partially been spared by the dividing wall.

It was fascinating to see. Everything in the room was burned, down to the layer of wallpaper on the wall, but anything outside the room had been untouched. The building still maintained its structural integrity, meaning that John had enough control that he'd been able to completely contain the fire to just this room.

If John weren't currently missing, Sherlock would have stayed to examine it longer.

That, however, was not the case. John was missing, and they had to find him again before Moriarty found him. Sherlock didn't think that John would accept the exchange, but he wasn't a hundred percent sure, not when John thought that Harry was being held hostage.

"We have to find your brother immediately," Sherlock said.

"I can phone him," Harry said, digging a smartphone out of her pocket where Sherlock could see the classic marks of an alcoholic written all over it.

"He doesn't have a phone," Sherlock sighed, trying hard not to roll his eyes. He needed her cooperation, and if she hated him, as most people did, that would make things infinitely more difficult. "He was deployed in Afghanistan at the time of his kidnapping."

"Well, he doesn't have his own flat," Harry said, shrugging. "We sold Mum and Dad's place after they passed away, so no family home to run back to. Where else could he even go?"

"Not a hotel, he has no money," Sherlock said. "The only place I can think of was where he was earlier – hiding out on the streets of London."

"That's not good," Harry said, shaking her head. "How are we supposed to find him now?"

"Tomorrow I can call in some favours and try to find him by tapping into the CCTV network," Sherlock said. "I can't believe Mycroft didn't think of that. Then again, high level mages never think of doing things without magic."

"You just did," Harry pointed out.

"Magic isn't everything," Sherlock said. "The physical world exists too, and as I have to work in both, I keep both in mind."

"So, CCTV thing. What else can we do?"

"Not much for now," Sherlock admitted. "Anyone in my homeless network is settled in somewhere for the night by this point–"

"I'm sorry, your what?"

"Homeless network," Sherlock said impatiently. "I pay them to find things out for me. It's how I found John last time he escaped. But no one's about right now, so I'll have to wait till tomorrow. Maybe I can call Molly as well."

"Molly?"

"Friend," Sherlock said. "Works in the morgue."

"Lovely," Harry said. "And how can someone who works with dead bodies help us?"

"She helped me last time," Sherlock said. "We need all the eyes we can get. I wonder if I could get Lestrade to keep an eye out as well, without arousing suspicions – wait, he's calling me."

"You're certainly an odd duck, no question about that," Harry said. "I'll go make up the guest room for you then. Johnny didn't torch those as well, I hope."

Sherlock didn't answer, instead turning his attention to the phone. It could just be a case – Lestrade had learned early on in their acquaintance that Sherlock hardly ever slept and could be relied on to be awake at any hour of the night. He couldn't take a case right now. Should he answer it anyway?

He'd better. He could ask Lestrade to see if he could find John at the same time.

"Lestrade," he snapped as soon as the call went through. "I have a favour to ask you–"

"Hold up, Sherlock," Lestrade interrupted. "Good, it sounds like you're okay. Why didn't you tell me that you'd been kidnapped?"

"Not much time," Sherlock said. "There's a man I need you to find."

"If it's the man that kidnapped you, your brother just took him away."

"What!" Sherlock hissed into the phone.

"Yeah, man named John Watson?" Lestrade continued. "Thought you might want to know. He came and turned himself in, and I thought for sure it wasn't serious, but Mycroft was round in less than five minutes, so I'm going to assume the man's more dangerous than I gave him credit for."

"Capable of far more destruction than you can ever imagine," Sherlock said. "But with a strong moral compass and trustworthy character. He'd never have hurt you."

"How much destruction?"

"Well, my brother took his sister and John threatened to burn down London. Mycroft is treating it as a real threat, because John certainly has the power for it."

"Mage?" Lestrade asked, and Sherlock could tell he was put out by how many mages he had to deal with in any given day.

"No. Fire Elemental," Sherlock said. "The first in England in over seven centuries."

"No kidding?" Lestrade whistled. "So now what? Is everything okay again now that Mycroft has him incarcerated?"

"The only reason John is there is because he wants to be there," Sherlock shook his head in frustration, even though Lestrade couldn't see it. "I need to fix this. There may even be literal fires I need to put out right now. I should call you back."

"What, no, wait – Sherlock!"

Sherlock hung up and ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

"Harry, come on, we've got to go. John's in trouble–"

Sherlock came face-to-face with Moriarty the moment he stepped through the door and froze. Moriarty grinned, and over his shoulder, there were two robed men holding onto Harry, who was struggling and furious. She had a gag spell freezing her vocal chords, and no matter how much air she pushed through her windpipe, she'd never be able to make a sound.

"Harry!" Sherlock made to move forward and jerked to a halt.

He couldn't move. He kept trying to walk forward, but his feet kept sliding back to the position they'd been in. He looked down and felt his stomach lurch in sudden fear. He was standing right over blood magic markings that were drawn on the floor. They were still fresh, judging by the metallic tang on the air.

Sherlock wasn't a combat mage by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly wasn't going to just let Moriarty take him away.

He gestured with one hand, and the mage thugs that were holding onto Harry were suddenly completely weightless. Suddenly, the one thing keeping Harry contained was gone, and she threw both of them across the room. They sustained no damage, but Harry was free, and she ran towards the door.

To late, Sherlock realized that the rune holding him wasn't the only one. There were blood runes all around the room, and Harry made it to the door, but couldn't make it beyond. In desperation, Sherlock tried to teleport, but nothing happened.

Moriarty laughed sharply and strolled towards him, stopping just out of reach. Sherlock glared, panting as he struggled harder to escape. He knew how to get out of all sorts of mage spells, but not these. Blood magic was outlawed long ago, and he hadn't any experience being held in a trap like this before.

"Let me out," he demanded, baring his teeth.

"Oh, why would I want to do that?" Moriarty asked with a grin.

Sherlock let loose a Howling Screamer, a spell that didn't do anything physical, but it was damn loud, and no doubt everyone on the block had heard it.

"Oh, don't make me muzzle you," Moriarty said, less amused than before.

"That's not how magic works," Sherlock said, frowning in confusion.

Moriarty smiled and drew an evil-looking contraption out of a hidden pocket and reached towards Sherlock's head with it. Sherlock jerked back, fighting to retreat while still bound by the blood runes.

"That won't do," Moriarty scolded him, taking a small silver dagger out of the same pocket.

Sherlock really didn't like where this was going, and it looked like he was about to be captured by a maniac with a liking for blood magic. While Moriarty was distracted with the little ritual he was carrying out, one which involved slashing open his own palm and using the blood to write more arcane runes in the air in front of him, Sherlock enacted his last-line-of-defence plan.

His plan involved Mycroft, so it was not one he liked to enact, since he'd only just escaped Mycroft. But at this point, Mycroft was a much better alternative to this madman.

He found his phone, and keeping it hidden behind him, clicked through it by memory. On his phone was one button, and it activated a spell. The spell was on a microchip embedded in Sherlock's body and not on Sherlock himself. It was a Tracer spell, and it would tell Mycroft where he was. Mycroft knew that Sherlock would never enable the chip unless he was in dire straits.

He clicked it.

A moment later, Moriarty finished with his spell, and Sherlock felt his own body go rigid against his will. Petrified in this manner, Sherlock was unable to move as Moriarty literally muzzled him, fitting an odd-looking leather and metal face piece over the lower half of Sherlock's face. There was metal inside his mouth, and it was cold and tasted angry.

"No more magic, Sherlock Holmes," Moriarty said in a sing-song voice. "Now walk."

The other two mages had already recovered Harry, and there was nothing Sherlock could do, not even stop walking, as the spell forced his body to follow Moriarty's orders.

And that's when he saw that they'd made a portal spell on the guest room's wall. Moriarty pressed his still-bleeding palm to one of the runes that made up the portal, and it immediately shimmered open. There on the other side was Moriarty's secret base, or some variation thereof.

They walked through it, and Sherlock looked around. It was an office building. Sherlock couldn't believe it, Moriarty was practicing Dark magic completely undetected from one of the upper levels of an ordinary office building. By God, it even had a water cooler.

He and Harry were taken to one of the rooms, and Sherlock recognized the runes on the walls and over the door as containment wards that would prevent him from escaping.

"The walls and window are unbreakable, the entire room is soundproof and there are so many containment wards on this room, you're lucky you can breathe."

Moriarty took the contraption off of Sherlock's face, released him from the compulsion spell, and took the gag spell off Harry. "Scream all you want."

"John will never come," Harry spat at his retreating back. "He won't let you carry out whatever plan you have for him!"

"Oh, Harriet Watson, you make me laugh," Moriarty said, and then laughed coldly. "Why should I need your brother when I have you?"

And with that, he walked out of the room, locking the door behind him.

"What did he mean by that?" Harry demanded, pacing around the room angrily.

"You and your brother come from the same bloodline," Sherlock realized. "You also have Progenitor blood running through your veins. He can do what he did to John to you as well."

"What did he do to John, exactly?" Harry asked, eyes narrowed.

"He set John on fire. That's not the point. John escaped him, so how does Moriarty know that you won't simply do the same? There must be something else that Moriarty has figured out that would allow him to keep you from doing what John did," Sherlock joined in the pacing, and the two of them circled around the room like angry cats.

"Set him on fire?" Harry asked incredulously. "Actually set him on fire."

"As opposed to metaphorically setting him on fire, yes," Sherlock said. "What could it be? Is it some sort of leverage that he doesn't have on John? Did he discover a spell or a weakness?"

"Well, I'm not just going to do as he asks," Harry said.

"John can just destroy magic, no matter how powerful it is," Sherlock said, thinking out loud. "He ate through – burned through – the containment shields in a matter of minutes. What does he have that will make you cooperate?"

"I just told you that I wouldn't, no matter what," Harry told him flatly.

"But what if he could find a way?" Sherlock asked.

"He won't," Harry repeated stubbornly, but Sherlock couldn't help but doubt that it was that simple. He must have figured out something that would make her cooperate.

Sherlock passed the time by checking every single inch of the room for weaknesses that he could exploit. There were none, of course, but there wasn't much else to do in an empty office room. He could look out the window, even if he could not escape that way, and the building they were in was on Canary Wharf, facing west overlooking the Thames, lights glinting of the water in the black of the night.

Not that the information he could glean would do him much good.

Harry was dozing in the corner and Sherlock was leaned against the glass looking out over London when Moriarty finally returned. Light was just beginning to tinge the horizon with shades of lilac and cerulean, and Sherlock looked at the dawning day rather than turn and face him.

***Viewer discretion is advised***

Of course, Moriarty forced him to turn around anyway. Blood runes could make anyone do anything, and it was a wonder that John could break their hold on him. Blood was a part of nature, and so much harder to resist than ordinary magic. It was an insidious, subversive magic, and incredibly forbidden. Sherlock had only ever come in contact with the aftermath of dark rituals, and never had to fight blood magic himself. He found it to be impossible now that he was in its thrall.

Moriarty strung them up on the wall with invisible strings, and once they were up there, slit their clothes down the back, exposing Sherlock's bare shoulders. Sherlock squirmed, not liking the feeling of eyes on his uncovered skin or having his back to an enemy. A frisson of cold ran down his spine and he squirmed in place.

Harry struggled hard against her bonds, although nothing would come of it.

"You let us down, you horrible man!" she snarled, writhing against the wall with rage.

"I can tell you're a Berserker, you have the rage to fuel it," Moriarty said with a smirk. "And now to do what it takes to control you in spite of all your power."

The silver dagger was back, and Sherlock joined Harry in trying to escape, but he was held tight to the wall.

The first touch of the dagger to his skin was just cold, and Sherlock tried to keep still in spite of his sudden urge to shiver. It was a sharp blade, and he felt his skin part and the blood, hot and liquid, running down his spine in rivulets. Then, the pain blossomed slowly, sharp, in a crimson line.

"Stop," Sherlock said, but Moriarty ignored him and drew another line.

Sherlock asked him to stop. Sherlock pleaded with him to stop. Sherlock all-out begged him to stop in between little whimpers that got stuck in his throat as his back sang with pain. The blood drenched his spine down to his trousers, where it soaked in and then dried, crusting and sticking to his skin.

Sherlock was so unaware of anything but the rune being sliced into his skin that he didn't even hear Harry shrieking next to him, or notice that Moriarty was chanting under his breath with every stroke of the blade.

"That should do quite nicely," Moriarty said. "Now, do demonstrate what I've just done to you."

One moment they were bound to the wall of the bland-looking office, the next, they were in the middle of a vast, barren landscape covered in snow and ice. It was intensely cold, and it cut right through them both, down to the bone. Sherlock could barely move he was so cold, and in a few moments, his fingers, ears and nose ached and his eyelashes were freezing together.

They couldn't have been left there more than a minute, and then Moriarty brought them back.

"That was Antarctica," Moriarty said smugly. "If either of you refuses to do my bidding, off you pop."

And suddenly they were in Antarctica again. He left them there for slightly longer this time, and Sherlock could feel himself shaking, going into the early stages of hypothermia already.

He did this several more times, bringing them back and then banishing them again. By the time he stopped, Sherlock felt like his lungs were filled with ice shrapnel, his eyes were frozen over with tears and his nose with snot, and he couldn't feel anything.

"You could end this, you know," Moriarty said, leaning down to whisper in his ear. "Just say the word, and it's all over. Tell me you'll join me and add your brilliant mind to our little collection. It's so easy. Just say yes."

Sherlock's lips were numb, and he could barely get the words out, but he forced himself to say it.

"Fuck you."

Moriarty's eyes turned dark and mad.

Chapter Text

"Where has Moriarty taken them?" John demanded as he followed Mycroft. "Also, where are we going?"

They got in an elevator, and Mycroft punched the button for the top floor. A female voice asked him pleasantly to identify himself.

"Mycroft Holmes."

"Identity accepted. Visitor access restricted."

"John Watson," Mycroft said, with a barely noticeable sigh.

"Visitor identity accepted. Continue."

"What happens if our identity had not been accepted?" John asked, getting annoyed at Mycroft for not answering him.

"I'm taking you to Intelligence HQ. We have identified Moriarty and his network as threats to our nation, and they need to be eliminated."

"So where are Sherlock and Harry right now?"

Mycroft's face got a pinched, irritated look about it, and he said, "We lost the signal. We only knew Sherlock was in trouble because he activated the signal. However, it was only active for a short while. We traced the spell back to Harriet Watson's flat, and for a few seconds, it was trackable to Canary Wharf. However, before we could get a fix on it, it disappeared."

"So you're telling me you have no idea where they are."

"They could still be at Canary Wharf, or it could have been a two-point jump and they ended up somewhere else. We have no way of knowing."

"So how are we going to find them?"

"We've got ourselves an expert."

They reached the top floor, and all over the place were people moving about, talking to each other, bringing up different images with spells that were far too complicated for John to understand. When he entered, one of the mages stood and walked toward them.

"So this is the Elemental," he said, sounding awed. "I've never met a humanoid Elemental before."

"This is Arthur Kirkland, and he's our resident expert on Fire Elementals," Mycroft said, wincing as he said it. Clearly he had no affinity for the man. "I have to go check something, but you should try and find a way to contact your sister."

John suspected that Mycroft didn't really have any pressing engagements, and was actually just avoiding the mage beaming at him. John turned his attention back to him and held out a hand.

"John Watson," he said briefly.

"Arthur Kirkland," the mage said. "I'm thrilled to get to meet you. I've been studying Elementals all my life. It's an honour."

"So... how come you're here?" John asked, looking around the room.

"I know what you're thinking," Arthur said sadly. "You're looking at all the other mages and wondering why I'm not with them, doing something useful, like setting up surveillance spells or tracking down criminals. I'm just some crackpot old fool studying an outdated subject."

"Well, I was mostly wondering why Mycroft found an Elementals expert in the first place," John said. "I thought he had a plan to find my sister and Sherlock."

"He doesn't," Arthur said. "He's only hoping that we can find them before it's too late. He knows you're extremely powerful, and at this point, I think he'd be perfectly willing to burn down the city if he could locate his brother."

"I'm not burning down the city!" John protested.

"No, there's no need. There are hundreds of spells that a Fire Elemental can do. I'm sure you would have read that part, except then you burnt down the room and also my research."

"Oh!" John looked at Arthur sheepishly. "That collection of research was yours then? You're the tea and chocolate mage!"

"The what?" Arthur blinked at him in confusion.

"I can sense magic, and yours tastes like tea and chocolate," John said. "So what was this about spells?"

"Elemental magic is close to nature, so it exists in a different way than other magic," Arthur said. "You see how most mages have to use staffs or wands to focus their magic? They need a focus to draw all their magic in to one point. Elementals don't have to do that, because their magic is them."

"So the magic other mages use isn't part of them?" John asked, because he'd never really cared about what mages did, let alone study magical theory.

"No, they tap into it," Arthur said. "Some people have a talent for being able to sense certain magical streams and use them. Ever wonder why London is built where it is? The city is sitting right on top of one of the biggest magical reservoirs in the world."

"So, I'm part of the flow of magic," John said.

"Essentially, yes," Arthur said. "Magic will just happen if you will it, no need to focus. Although, focusing will help you do what you need. Right now, we need to find your sister."

"How can I do that?" John asked helplessly. "Why can't Mycroft do that?"

"Containment wards," Arthur said darkly. "Not just any containment wards either. Blood magic. No one can really say until we get a good look at the runes making up the wards, but Moriarty must have stopped certain flows of magic from entering."

"Why do you think that I can find them if no one else can?" John asked, getting frustrated.

"Because you can break containment wards," Arthur said. "You can eat them, for some reason. Consume them. Both wards placed by regular mages and blood mages. We have the proof that you can. Nothing can hold you, so it stands to reason that nothing can keep you out."

"How do I find them then?"

"You have to call to Harry," Arthur said. "I know it sounds mad, but you have to want to find her. You share the same blood, have shared the same womb as her. Nature wants you to be together, so if you reach out, a connection shouldn't be difficult."

John was doubtful, but there was nothing else for it. He had to try to find Harry. John knew very well what Moriarty would do to them if they didn't get there in time.

He thought of Harry. He wanted to find her, and he felt himself reach out with his hand physically as he did so mentally. He remembered Harry. They played together as children. Shared birthdays, friends, even girlfriends on some memorable occasions. She liked to punch him in the shoulder when she saw him, and then hug him hard around the middle and lift him up. She liked that she was strong enough to lift him off his feet. She smelled of honey and summer flowers.

It took John a moment to realize that the smell of honey and flowers wasn't a memory, and that his nose was filled with the scent. When he opened his eyes, fire had risen to his skin and was running in patterns up his body and down his arm to the hand that was reaching for Harry.

"It can't be that easy," John said, his voice a low thrum of energy and heat.

"Do you know where she is?"

John looked and found that he was the center of attention, including Mycroft's, who had come back over at the first signs that John's magic was working.

"Yes," John said. "I can feel her space in the universe."

"And Sherlock?" Mycroft asked.

"Sherlock is not of my blood," John said dreamily, still reaching out to where he could feel Harry. "But I don't think they would separate them. Even if they did, finding Harry could lead us to Sherlock."

Mycroft didn't say anything further, just spoke into an enchanted watch on his wrist, apparently mobilizing his forces.

"I can go to her," John said. "I can feel her, back along this line in between spaces. I can pull myself to her."

"Not yet," Arthur said, reaching to pat his shoulder, then stopping as he realized John was still smouldering. "You don't rush into a situation unawares. Wait until we know more. What if it's a trap?"

John should have remembered that, and with effort, brought himself further out of the trance-like state he'd fallen into. He could still feel Harry, but the connection pulled at him less.

"Canary Wharf," John said. "She's still at Canary Wharf, and she's up high."

"We might need your power," Mycroft said. "If what Kirkland says is true, you might be the only one that can get them out."

"You mean, without using blood magic yourself," John said.

"Yes," Mycroft said. "It is something to be avoided. Come, you need to get outfitted."

John nodded and let one of Mycroft's minions lead him away.

OOooOO

They were outside on the roof of a building, one quite close to the one that John's connection to Harry said was her current location. John had been outfitted in one of the skintight, black mage uniforms that Mycroft liked his agents to wear. It felt weird, especially compared with loose-fitting combats.

He was also fitted out with an ordinary radio earpiece and a little camera so that Mycroft "I don't do legwork" Holmes could see what was going on. John lifted a glass piece with a magnification charm on it to his eye.

"Do you see it?" he asked into his microphone.

"Yes," Mycroft said.

Blood runes were scribbled in a spiralling pattern all over the windows and the walls of one particular room of the office building. It also contained Harry and Sherlock, but John didn't have long to be relieved that he'd found them, both of them. There was something wrong with the containment wards.

"I can go to Harry if I want," John said. "But I can't bring her to me. I should be able to do that, right?"

"Yes," a different voice chimed in, and John recognized it as Arthur's. "You should be able to call Harry to you, just as you can take yourself to Harry. There must be something in those containment wards that's preventing you from doing just that."

"No," Mycroft said. "It's something else. We're missing a data point. It must be obvious, I just need to think on it for a second."

"I could just go in and burn down all the blood wards," John said.

"The blood wards have a proximity warning for magic," Mycroft said.

"Not his type of magic!" Arthur argued.

"No, not his, but there are a half dozen spells that need to be dismantled if he goes over there, unless you want Moriarty realizing we're all here."

"Moriarty isn't in sight at the moment," John said. "I could go in right now."

"But you wouldn't be able to get back out," Arthur pointed out. "Your magic can take you to Harry, but you can't do a basic teleport spell. You'd be unable to take them away from their prison."

"Plus, teleport spells are written into the blood wards," Mycroft said.

"How do you know that?" John asked suspiciously.

"Just let my agents take off the spells on you. I think we might be able to get close enough to lower you to the window from the roof of the building."

"Great," John said, less than enthusiastically. "Go on then."

In a few seconds, he was teleported to the roof of the building which Harry and Sherlock were in, someone was fitting him into a harness so that he could walk off the edge of the building, and another mage was quickly unravelling all the spells on his person.

"You're good to go. Off you go," one mage said, and John climbed over the edge, careful not to look down, concentrating on walking down the wall.

"I don't like heights," John said into his microphone.

"You can't die," Arthur said in his ear. "You'll turn into a comet and blaze a path through the earth. You'll be fine. Anything below you... not so much."

It didn't take long for him to be lowered to the window he needed, and he tugged on the rope to indicate he was in the right spot. As soon as he appeared, Sherlock was at the window, face pressed to the glass. Harry followed a moment later, and they waved at him, Sherlock obviously trying to say something through the glass.

John put a hand up to his ear to tell them he couldn't hear them.

Sherlock went to one of the windows and opened it.

"John!" he said. "How did you get out there?"

"If you can open the window, why haven't you escaped yet?" John asked in return.

"I can open it, but I can't go through it," Sherlock scowled, waving his hand at the open window, and his fingers seemed to bend away as the tried to put his hand through. "I can get a nice cross-breeze going on in here, but we can't get out."

"Mycroft," John said into his earpiece. "Can you see all the blood runes?"

"Yes, John," Mycroft said. "We're translating them now, but it doesn't look like there should be any reason why you can't draw Harriet out of that room. We're still missing something."

"Mycroft!" Sherlock exclaimed. "He's helping you?"

"Well, you did just get kidnapped by a madman," John pointed out. "Are there any other runes that you know of that might be stopping you from leaving this room? Because according to Arthur, I should be able to call Harry to me, which would get her out, but it isn't working."

"Fire magic," Sherlock breathed. "Yes, you should be able to, but I think the data point you're missing is this one."

And then Sherlock turned around, and he heard several outraged cries in his ear. John felt his gut tighten up, and he felt a bit nauseous as he looked at the marks cut into Sherlock's skin.

"Mycroft?" he asked hesitantly.

"The blood wards are like a web," Mycroft said tightly, anger reigned in but present. "The runes on his back stick him there like a bug. There's something else. That outer ring there. It's different, but I'm not sure what it means."

John looked at the outer ring of the runes carved into Sherlock's back, but he couldn't see anything different from any of the others.

"Oh, this one?" Sherlock asked, turning around and then maneuvering Harry so that he could point at the exact same runes on her back. "Those are Moriarty's."

"He wrote in a loophole for himself," Arthur said. "He can work magic inside these wards, and if the magic effects them, then it will still work, but they can't use magic, and no one else can use magic on them. That's why it's not working."

"Are you telling me that I can't get them out?" John demanded, enraged.

"Also, he can Banish us to Antarctica," Harry said. "It wasn't all that fun, so I'd like to avoid that happening again, if at all possible."

"So is there any way for me to help them at all?" John asked angrily. "I can't leave them in here!"

"There is a way," Mycroft said. "It isn't pleasant though, and will probably be equally as traumatizing to them as receiving the runes in the first place."

"I think that we don't have much choice other than to just let Moriarty have them," John said.

"Don't let Moriarty have us, please," Harry said. "He already tortured Sherlock for not joining him, and he wants to turn me into what John is."

"We can't stay here," Sherlock said. "Surely anything you have planned can't be worse than what Moriarty wants to do to us."

"We have to destroy the runes on their body," Mycroft said. "None of us could do it, not with all those blood wards preventing us from using magic. But you could, John. Your magic isn't hindered by those spells, and your magic is already proven to burn out blood runes."

"I would have to burn the runes off their body," John said, feeling his stomach turn. "Wouldn't that hurt quite a lot?"

"Yes," Sherlock answered for Mycroft. "It would. But luckily, Moriarty made this room completely soundproof, so no one will hear us scream."

"How do I get in?" John asked. "Can't I just burn away the blood wards on this window and get them out that way?"

"The runes on our body hold us to this place," Sherlock said. "Not only that, but even if we did escape, Moriarty would simply send us both to Antarctica. He can trigger that rune from anywhere. He gave us a demonstration of that."

"I really don't like this plan," John said. "I'm a doctor. I don't like hurting people."

"You were an army doctor," Sherlock pointed out. "Surely you've had to hurt people in the line of duty? Or even hurt people while in the process of helping them? This is exactly like that. We need these runes removed, or they will be the death of us both."

"Okay, fine," John said, closing his eyes. "If it's the only way that we can get you out."

"It is," Sherlock assured him. "Now, don't disturb the blood rune on the window just yet. Moriarty is likely monitoring it for signs of tampering."

John called out to Harry, and in the space of a moment, he was on the other side of the glass with them. Harry launched herself into his arms and hugged him as hard as she could. John held onto her tightly for a few moments and then drew back.

"Hello," John said to Sherlock, and even though it had only been a window separating them before, suddenly John felt self-conscious in Sherlock's presence.

Sherlock smiled at him, a bit shy.

"Sorry," John said. "For kidnapping you before. I wasn't really going to turn you into a Berserker."

"I'm sorry my brother is a giant twat that kidnapped your sister and tried to force you to do something you didn't want to."

"Ahem," Mycroft's voice sounded in his ear. "Could we save the flirtations for later, when everyone is rescued and I don't have to watch them?"

John blushed and hissed into the earpiece, "I wasn't flirting, I was apologizing!"

Mycroft snorted and then said, "Come on, Doctor Watson. Get them out of there."
Mycroft was right, they needed to leave as soon as possible. John turned Harry around gently and put his hand over her rune, which was still crusted over with dried blood.

"Hold still," he whispered.

John had to be sure that he was just burning the rune and not the rest of Harry. He took a moment to find the edges of each stroke, to know what space they occupied, and concentrated. He was a surgeon, and he knew how to be precise. He had to burn the rune, but only the rune, and he couldn't miss a single bit of it.

John concentrated, and the fire rose up inside him.

Chapter Text

Harry bit down hard on a rolled up piece of cloth and screamed as John stood behind her, concentrating on the runes on her back. Sherlock was trying not to listen, because as soon as John was done with Harry, it would be his turn. Harry was kneeling on the ground with her hands clenched so tightly that her nails cut into her palms.

Sherlock could smell something burning, and he raised his arm to cover his nose and mouth, gagging.

"Almost done," John said reassuringly, although it sounded far less reassuring in his voice filled with hissing flames.

To take his mind off what was coming, Sherlock looked out the window, trying to see if he could see Mycroft's forces out there waiting to extract them. Sherlock was rather tired of needing Mycroft to come to the rescue. He was probably going to try and blame Sherlock for this entire mess, and would be insufferable to be around. He always was, but extra insufferable just because of this.

"Done," John said, and Sherlock tensed.

Harry slumped over on the floor, panting raggedly. She spat the piece of cloth out of her mouth and tried to stand, but her arms wobbled too much to push herself up.

Unable to help himself, Sherlock looked at her back.

The wound, which had been bloody and jagged, had been cauterized by the fire. It was burned a deep black, and the surrounding skin was red where the heat of the fire hadn't quite been contained. Sherlock felt a bit dizzy just looking at it, and for just a moment, he contemplated refusing to go along with it.

He had to. It was the only way to escape.

"Are you sure this is going to work?" John asked, examining Harry's back. "I can still see the runes."

"They're just markings now," Sherlock said, forcing himself to look at them. "The magic they contained has dissipated."

"Hurry up and do him," Harry said. "I don't want to stay here any longer."

Sherlock had to agree, in spite of his fear. It wouldn't do any good if he didn't let John destroy the runes, especially since Moriarty might do something even worse.

It would be a lot easier for everyone if all Moriarty wanted was power or money, but from what Sherlock could see, that wasn't the case.

He'd given Sherlock the chance to join him. Moriarty didn't just want to cause chaos, he wanted to do something interesting to occupy his mind. It just so happened that most of the things that would be interesting were also illegal.

Moriarty had reinvented blood magic. He hadn't just studied it, he wrote it himself, creating new spells and new ways of using blood magic. Sherlock was quite sure that the spell that had Summoned John in the first place had been one of Moriarty's creation rather than one Moriarty had discovered randomly.

Moriarty was interested in genius, and Sherlock fit the bill. However, Sherlock didn't follow orders and he wasn't interested in anybody else's mechanizations. If Sherlock were ever to become a criminal mastermind, it would be on his own terms. Not that Sherlock would, because solving the crimes of others was more interesting than actually committing it himself.

Sherlock knelt on the ground at John's feet, feeling a fine tremor running down his spine in anticipation of the pain. He didn't try and convince himself that he could withstand it enough to stay on his feet. He would rather he didn't fall over.

"I think I can go faster now that I've done it once," John said. "This should be quick."

Sherlock nodded and grit his teeth. He reached up and bit the sleeve of his mage robes.

John's hand was gentle on his back, spreading out across the runes engraved in his flesh. His skin stung angrily in warning, and Sherlock tensed.

At first, it was just warm.

For a few seconds, Sherlock hoped that maybe it wouldn't hurt as much as he was anticipating.

Then, the skin of his back erupted in agony as fire raced along the blood lines of the runes, burning the magic out of them. Sherlock could feel John's flames destroying the magic like it was destroying an infection, and the bonds that tied his magic in place weakened. It was a good feeling, because now that he could feel the restricting magic being lifted, he could tell how much it had been cramped by the runes.

Sherlock knew it was working, while at the same time, it was the worst pain he'd ever felt in his life. The fire burned its way through his blood and nerve endings, lighting his entire body up with agony.

Sherlock thought that the worst part was the pain, and that to survive this, all he had to do was get through it.

And then the runes on the walls flared to life around him, resonating with the incompletely destroyed markings on his back.

Moriarty flashed into being in the middle of the room and John faltered.

"John, keep going," Sherlock said, shocked at how raw his voice sounded.

"What have we here?" Moriarty asked, smiling madly. "Someone is trying to escape now, and I can't let them."

"Let them go, you maniac," John said angrily, still distracted from his task.

"John!" Sherlock said tightly, because the runes weren't destroyed yet.

"I know, let's demonstrate what happens to those who defy me. I think you'll like it, John Watson. We'll get you to cooperate yet."

And in the blink of an eye, Sherlock was whirling away, because the runes were only weakened and not destroyed. As he was yanked away from the office in London, he felt something seem to grasp at the runes on his back. It felt like something with claws was latching onto him by digging them into his shoulders. It got pulled along with him as he landed in the barren and freezing wasteland.

The cold hit Sherlock with the same shocking intensity it did every time, and he could only pray that Moriarty would bring him back before frostbite set in.

He was so cold that it ached down to his bones, and it took him several seconds to realize that his back still felt like it was on fire.

Sherlock's heart nearly stopped as he turned to find that John had been dragged along with him.

"Don't move," John gasped.

"John, what are you doing?" Sherlock asked, blinking at the ice coating his eyelashes.

"Getting it off you," John whispered.

"If you take it off, we won't be able to go back," Sherlock replied, teeth chattering so hard that he could barely talk.

"Needs to come off so you can use magic," John said, sounding extremely reasonable in spite of the biting cold.

John wasn't glowing like usual, instead he was in his normal, human shape and only his hand was glowing red with fire. Sherlock could only vaguely feel the pain beyond the numbness encompassing him.

"Done," John said, and then slumped against his back.

Sherlock turned slightly and tucked them together. They were hardly generating any heat, and pressing together didn't do much good for body heat conservation. He gathered John up in his arms anyway and held him tightly. It was so cold, and everything around him was beginning to fade.

"John," he whispered harshly. "John, you have to wake up. I can't do it, I don't have the power."

"Can't..." John whispered back.

Sherlock didn't have the power. He had the will and concentration to do many things that other mages found amazing, but the sheer amount of power required to transport them back to London was beyond him.

"Your magic is like a heartbeat," John said sleepily in his ear. "It's nice."

"John..." Sherlock said helplessly and tried desperately to think of something to do.

He had to wake John up. John's Berserker blood made him especially suseptible to cold, and this was the coldest region on Earth. He had to warm John up somehow, because otherwise they were going to die. Sherlock couldn't transport them far enough, and even if he could, he had no idea where they were. He could just as easily dump them both in the middle of the ocean or a desert as anywhere near home.

Sherlock did not want to accidentally land in the middle of the Antarctic Ocean.

He brought up a heat spell, the strongest one that he could, but even then, the temperature around them only rose enough that Sherlock could feel the cold rather than going numb.

They were going to die.

"I'm sorry, John," Sherlock whispered against John's frost-encrusted hair.

Without thinking, he pressed a kiss to John's temple.

John stirred, blinking up at him in confusion.

"What did you just do?" John asked, still sounding a bit dazed, but more awake than he was a moment ago. "Something just happened. It felt... warm."

"I kissed you," Sherlock said, eyes wide as he stared at John.

"What are you waiting for, do it again!" John said.

The words were hardly out of John's mouth when Sherlock wrapped him back up in his arms and pressed his mouth to John's. John's lips were cold against his, but in the space of a second, they warmed up and gave against his. Sherlock sank into the feeling, heart beating madly, as he forgot for one, shining moment, that they were about to freeze to death in the middle of Antarctica.

There was a swooping in his gut, and it took Sherlock a moment to realize that it wasn't just kissing John that was causing it, but John transporting them elsewhere.

And then Sherlock remembered, as the warmth returned to his body and brain: the link with Harry. John could transport himself directly to his sister because of their shared blood. They might survive this after all.

A moment later, they were dumped onto the floor of the office, and Sherlock was glad to be back for the few seconds it took to orientate himself. Then, he realized that someone was screaming, there was a battle being fought outside the window across the rooftop, and John was angry.

Thankfully, John was not angry at him.

Harry had been recaptured, although thankfully, it looked as if Moriarty hadn't carved any more runes into her skin. She was, however, being held in place in the middle of what looked like a ritual circle. Sherlock would be fascinated if this didn't mean that Harry was in great danger of being turned into a Berserker.

John set fire to the walls of the room, but the flames went nowhere near Harry or the hooded figures taking part in the ritual. A moment later, Sherlock felt a little sigh ripple through the room as the runes preventing him from using magic burned away.

"The oil!" John said. "You can't let them set her on fire."

Sherlock was about to say that John was more powerful than him, when he realized that John's fire would only accomplish their task faster than normal.

The oil, he had to get rid of the oil.

He held up his hands in front of him, his right held upright, his left held at a perpendicular angle with his left hand near his right elbow. He swirled his arms in a sweeping, circular motion so that both arms ended up crossed in front of him, hands twisted so that his palms faced each other, fingers flared wide.

Normally, if he were doing this spell, he would simply take the time to concentrate on his task, and accomplish the same spell with a swirl of a single finger rather than both arms. However, time was of the essense, and he had no time to waste.

The oil began to pick itself back up off the ground and uncoil, flowing backward toward the pot it had been contained in earlier, the spell unraveling like a loose thread.

As soon as the oil was away from Harry, John grinned sharply and said, "Perfect."

He leapt forward so that he was near Harry, and the next moment, there was a wall of flames rushing toward those taking part in the ritual. Sherlock threw his arms out on either side of him, palms out, and put up a hasty shield spell. John wasn't trying to hurt him, but the edges of the fire were still devouringly hot.

Sherlock scanned the area and couldn't help but notice that, once again, Moriarty was nowhere to be seen. Had he left somewhere beforehand, or had he escaped as soon as he and John reappeared?

He didn't have long to think of anything, because a moment later, the glass on the window shattered, and Mycroft's mages entered the room.

"Sweep the building!" one of them shouted. They turned to Sherlock and said, "We need to extract you and the Watsons. Please allow us to put a rappelling harness on you."

"I don't need a rappelling harness," Sherlock started to say, but two mages had already started putting one on him.

Before he could protest, they had manhandled him to the window, attached his harness to some sort of line that went off into the night, and pushed him out of the building. He looked around wildly, and it looked as if both Harry and John were attached as well.

The thrumming noise of helicopter blades became apparent, and Sherlock rolled his eyes. This was the second time in as many days that he'd ended up being rescued by helicopter, and it was a bit over-the-top if you asked him. Mycroft did like being dramatic.

"Are you both alright?" he yelled down the line.

"I'm fine," John shouted back up at him. "Harry?"

"Johnny boy, if we ever get out of this mess, you have a hell of a lot of explaining to do," Harry yelled.

"Will do," John said.

They ended up back at some government HQ, and were immediately hustled off to the medical bay to be checked over for any lasting damage. Sherlock scoffed at that, until they cleaned off the injury on his back and put antiseptic on it. He'd forgotten he had a burn, because almost immediately, he'd been frozen. They also treated them all for minor frostbite.

They had been bundled of so rapidly and with so much efficiency, that Sherlock hadn't had much of a chance to say anything to John since they'd been rescued. It was frustrating, now that so much had happened.

Sherlock could still feel the contours of John's mouth against his, and if he closed his eyes, he could imagine exactly how it felt. He wasn't sure that it was only because he'd never been kissed before that it was affecting him with so much intensity, but he had the feeling, it was all because of John.

They had all been told they were staying overnight for observation, even though all of them had protested that they were fine.

Sherlock couldn't say that he wasn't going to wake up sometimes in the night and think he was back in Antarctica, or be reminded of something damaging related to blood runes, but that wasn't going to be fixed by a night in a hospital bed. It wasn't really something one could fix. He wanted to be back home.

He had an extra room upstairs.

John was asleep in his bed when Sherlock snuck out of his own bed to come over and talk to him.

"John," he whispered. "John, wake up!"

John stirred sleepily, eyes blurry and asked, "What?"

"The place I live has an empty room," Sherlock said.

"What about it?" John asked.

"You need a place to stay. I have an empty room," Sherlock said, trying not to be impatient.

"Sherlock," John said, sitting up. "This is all a bit of a mess."

"Not anymore," Sherlock said. "Harry's rescued. Mycroft isn't afraid you're going to go on a rampage across London. You can't go back to Afghanistan."

"Why not?" John asked. "If this is all cleared up."

"Moriarty," Sherlock said with a grin. "Moriarty is still out there, and I may need help tracking him down. I might particularly need the help of someone who can be useful. You know, the type of person with a talent for burning down blood wards."

John smiled then. "I'll think about it."

"I play the violin," Sherlock said happily. "And sometimes I don't talk for days."

"Why are you telling me this?" John asked, but he sounded amused.

"Potential roommates should know the worst about each other, don't you think?" Sherlock asked.

"I may have a tendency of stomping off if I'm angry," John said. "Also, I have recently become aware of a strange medical condition in which I set things on fire when I need to eat."

"I think we can manage," Sherlock said.

They grinned at each other in the dark, and Sherlock felt something warm and melting coalescing in his gut.

"There's something else we should probably discuss," John said.

"What's that?" Sherlock asked, suddenly nervous again.

"Come closer," John said, leaning in.

Sherlock did so, shifting up so he was leaning over the bed, face close to John's. John took Sherlock's face gently in his hands, smoothing a curl of Sherlock's hair out of his eyes. Sherlock felt a rush of feeling sweep through him before John leaned forward and kissed him.

Sherlock sighed into the kiss, hands coming up to John's shoulders.

John kissed him gently, controlling the pace of the kiss, and not pushing it into anything more heated. Sherlock felt his heart doing its best to keep up with all of this sensation, and his lungs forgetting vital things like air as his brain filled itself with nothing but John, and the way he was carefully exploring Sherlock's mouth.

When they finally drew apart, Sherlock's mouth felt tingly and sensitive, and he raised his fingers to his mouth to feel it carefully, shivering at the intensity of it all.

He stared into John's eyes in fascination.

"Do you think this could work?" Sherlock asked anxiously. "I'm... not very good at being social. Or normal. People don't generally like me, you know."

"I'm not people," John said, grinning. "And you're a pretty amazing person."

Sherlock blushed hard, turning away. "Amazing is not something I'm often described as. Or ever."

"I'll have to change that," John said, lifting one of Sherlock's hands to his mouth and kissing the back of it. "Here, I'll budge over for you."

John moved to one side of the bed, and Sherlock shyly maneuvered himself next to John, not certain how much of John he was allowed to touch. This was all new for him, after all.

John held out an arm, and Sherlock moved underneath it, tucking his head under John's chin and curling up against him. John sighed and settled against him, relaxing and breathing slowly. In a few minutes, he was deeply asleep, and Sherlock watched, transfixed, as John fell asleep nestled in Sherlock's embrace.

Sherlock didn't know what to expect from all this.

They'd been thrown together by circumstance, and with all the adrenaline and other hormones running through their bodies, it didn't seem like much of a stretch to think that they would realize their mistake soon and come to their senses.

Sherlock should already have come to his, but he still felt overwhelmed with how much he wanted exactly this.

Sherlock would figure it out in the morning. Right now, everything was perfect.