Prompt: Here. Sherlock antagonises their captors in a hostage situation to prevent them from focusing on anyone else, while John has to watch.
Word count: 1200
Warnings: Violence verging on torture.
"Sherlock," John begs. "Don't."
Sherlock looks at him oddly. "But you keep telling me that I should be caring about the safety of others. Who would you prefer they focus on instead?"
"Look, you don't have to -"
"Of course I do. We are the only two in this room who actually know what's going on, the only 'non-innocents' if you will, and you are a doctor. Therefore you are currently the most valuable if our dear hosts should choose to escalate."
It's logical. Of course it's bloody logical, because it's bloody Sherlock who's probably never done anything not logical in his life. "Be careful," John says. Stupid, stupid thing to say.
Then the door of the safe-room (Hah!) opens and the men march back in, expressionless in balaclavas and gloves. The other hostages press further back against the wall.
"You aren't going to succeed,, you know," Sherlock says, conversationally. He unfolds himself as he stands.
"Why?" one of them demands - the one at the front, who's clearly the leader. London accent. Sherlock will probably know what borough.
"Because you don't even know how to get into the vault, let alone how to find what it is you're looking for. You know that if you run you won't have a second chance, and if you don't run then you'll be arrested when the police arrive."
John had thought before he knew what Sherlock was doing. Now he realises it.
"And do you?" the masked man asks.
"Of course," Sherlock says. Completely calmly. "I'm the bank manager."
There's a fast-intake of breath beside John, from the woman pressed against him. He tenses, whether in fear or hope that the lie will be revealed, and she is silent again.
"The manager's dead," says one of the other men. "I saw." He makes an involuntary movement towards the masked man closest to the door. John watches Sherlock file away that bit of data.
"Poor Dan," says Sherlock. "He always was my best friend. He took my badge the moment you came in, said he knew there was trouble."
It's a ridiculous story, really, but these men want to believe it. John thinks about what's in the vault. He can see how much one could be willing to risk to obtain it.
"So you know how to get into the vault?" the leader asks.
"Yes," says Sherlock.
"Then it seems we have a problem here."
The punch is delivered to Sherlock's ribs with devastating force. He gasps and hits the floor all in one instant, and someone along the wall starts to cry.
"Tell me how to open the vault."
John doesn't look away as the man kicks hard at his friend, again and again. Sherlock tries to curl in on himself protectively and with each blow makes a sound that's like he's trying to shout but can't catch enough breath to do so. His face is screwed up with the pain so that he's wearing a mask of his own. John is sure that he hears the crack of a bone snapping in among the dull thuds of heavy boots driving into soft flesh.
The man stops, and stands back. "Please..." Sherlock whispers as he lets out a shallow breath, staring at John. But John doesn't know what's being asked. His whole body is tensed for action he can't take and he doesn't know what to do.
The man waits while Sherlock gulps down air, his face contorted and an ugly shade of grey, dust now rubbed into his coat and hair. "Ready to tell me yet?" he asks.
He turns Sherlock onto his back by pressing down on his shoulder with his boot. Sherlock closes his eyes.
"Look at me," the man growls. He puts his boot on top of Sherlock's ribcage, and begins to press down. John can hear the damage being done and he can see it too, laid out in his mind in black-and-white diagrams with little labels. Here is the breastbone, and this is where it doesn't protect the stomach... He bites down on the inside of his lip to stop himself from shouting out everything these men want to know.
Sherlock makes hoarse whimpering noises.
Another crack. This is stupid, stupid, stupid. Logic can't overcome pain, and it isn't worth paying this sort of price just to buy a small amount of time.
Maybe to Sherlock it is.
"Alright," Sherlock gasps, "Alright. I'll tell you."
The man sets his boot back down to the floor. Sherlock breathes again, shallow breaths now, urgent ones.
The man waits. So does John, although with dread, because he can only guess that worse will happen if Sherlock starts playing around, which of course he's now going to do. Because it's become a challenge now between Sherlock and this man, and Sherlock won't, can't, ever let anyone beat him.
"So tell me." The words are under-laced with impatience. Time's running out...
"Let me... Wait..." Sherlock gasps. "It's a code... I can't think. Give me a minute..."
He shudders in the middle of the dirty floor and swallows repeatedly. John's trying to classify his likely injuries. When they get out of this they'll need to know as soon as possible how to treat him.
"Tell me!" demands the man.
"Can't think under pressure," Sherlock groans. He closes his eyes and starts muttering things under his breath, his lips moving.
"I'm running out of patience."
Sherlock nods frantically, but still doesn't come up with anything. Playing for yet more time.
The man figures it out, finally. "So you still aren't going to tell me. Do you think you're clever?"
"Actually yes," Sherlock says, and John would like very much to punch him, in the brief moment before another stamp lands on Sherlock's ribcage and the cry of pain drives everything but horror from his mind -
- and then the door to the safe room flies open to reveal the armed-response team, weapons levelled.
The gang, whoever they are, aren't stupid. They're vastly outnumbered.
John's at Sherlock's side even before one of the policemen has wrestled the leader into handcuffs. He's lying motionless now, with his eyes shut. "Say something," John demands urgently.
Sherlock recites the code to the vault.
It's probably a good thing that Lestrade shoulders his way into the room at that moment and starts yelling for paramedics, because otherwise John might just have gone against all his medical training and committed murder. "You're an idiot," he says instead, in a low voice.
"So you've told me," Sherlock murmurs, cracking open his eyes.
"Well - I'm telling you again!"
"Once is quite sufficient, you know."
"Apparently not," says Lestrade. "What the hell have you been doing?"
John motions him to shut up. "Sherlock, stop talking and try to relax. You're going to be fine."
"Of course I am," Sherlock says. "You're my doctor." And he passes out.