Rating: PG-13 for judicial corporal punishment
Spoilers: Up to and through The Reichenbach Fall
Summary: When Sherlock and John take a case aboard, things quickly go wrong and both of them will return home with more scars than what they left with. Written for Round 3 of the hurt_comfort bingo community using the corporal punishment for the wild card slot.
Disclaimers: I don't own Sherlock or any of its characters as it belongs to the BBC, Steven Moffat. Mark Gatiss, and Arthur Conan Doyle. I've made nothing from this and I expect to not be sued as a result!
AN: I meant to include this in the last chapter but forgot... special thanks to my friend aricadavidson for the initial feedback/comments/title suggestion. I also like to thank herkatris for being a beta and further comments for this story.
It was early in the morning when John arrived at the prison and was escorted into the room where Sherlock's punishment would be given. Before John left, Warden Hou personally escorted him from the prison, telling him he needed to be back thirty minutes before the caning. The next morning, after they were satisfied he had no weapons of any sort he was taken to meet with the warden was waiting to speak with just outside the room where the caning would take place.
The man was shorter than John but had a look on his face that said he was someone you did not want to mess with. “Ah, Dr Watson, I wanted you to know that allowing your presence while your friend is receiving his punishment goes against our standard procedure. I am only allowing this because I was given an order to do so.”
“You should also know, Dr Watson, that during the caning you are not allowed to interfere in any way. If it is determined your friend is in need of a doctor, then it will our own doctor who will see to him. Is that understood?” Hou asked.
“Yes,” John nodded. “I understand.”
“Good because if at any time you try to interfere you will be removed from the room immediately and the caning will continue without you.”
“I understand. I won't try to interfere.”
“Good.” With that, they went inside inside the room.
John was told to stand on the other side of the room from the wooden A frame he knew Sherlock would be bound to during the punishment. The prison's doctor and two guards joined him as two more guards entered the room with Sherlock between them, his eyes briefly meeting John's before they led over him to the trestle. Sherlock was given the order to take off all of his clothes, and at the moment he was naked, the guards began tying his wrists and ankles to the frame. They finished by securing padding on Sherlock's lower back to protect his spine and kidneys from the injury of wayward blows landing there.
As he watched while Sherlock was being stripped for the caning, John had to wonder if chasing Candace Lin all the way from London to Singapore had been worth it. Because if he were really honest with himself, he could only conclude that she wasn't, she wasn't worth anything, anything at all.
The moment they had finished securing Sherlock, one of the biggest brutes of a man John had ever seen entered with the cane in his hand and it took every ounce of his will not to say anything right then and there. The brute took his place near the exposed backside, and after a nod from the warden he laid the first stroke across Sherlock's buttocks.
John cringed in horror the mark the first stroke made, and he knew there would be scars to remind the detective of this painful experience long after the fact. But the most surprising part about it was Sherlock made no more than groaning sound with the first 4 strokes, and John did not understand he wasn't screaming his head off each time the cane landed. It was nearly halfway into the punishment that he realized Sherlock did not want to give them the satisfaction of hearing how much this really was hurting him.
He had once again groaned in pain when John had had enough and yelled, “Who cares what these prats think? Bloody scream your head off if it helps, Sherlock!” Warden Hou gave John a look but did not order the guards to remove him, and looking back as another blow landed John realized why Sherlock was still holding his cries in. “Don't you dare hold them in on my account either, Sherlock Holmes!Scream if you need to! I won't think any less of you!”
A bloodcurdling scream accompanied each new stroke after that, and John found himself blinking away tears as a result of listening to his friend's agonized screams. With each new sound of agony from Sherlock, John felt his anger at the Singaporean authorities grow so much that soon the only thing that was holding him back was his military training. John forced himself to focus on the concept that this would end along with the fact that Sherlock would need him to be focused and ready to help him when that moment came. He would release his anger at these sadists... and Mycroft later.
When the sound of the cane landing was suddenly met with silence, Hou gestured to the doctor. “Check him.”
John took a few steps towards Sherlock and nearly collided with the prison doctor before he remembered he had been warned not to interfere. His advance did not go unnoticed by the warden and for a split second John was afraid the man was about to have him removed from the room. With his hands raised in an apologetic surrender he stepped back to his former position, and held his breath as he waited for Hou to say something.
Waving Chowhury forward again Warden Hou said, “I will not tell you again, Dr Watson. Maintain your position or you will be removed from this room.”
John didn't trust himself to not saying anything to the warden that wouldn't get him thrown out of the room so he just nodded his apology and turned his eyes back to where the prison doctor was finishing his examination. The doctor said something to Hou in Chinese, a language John did not understand, and after the warden nodded, he pulled out a small bottle John recognized as containing smelling salts. John felt his anger rise to a new level as the pungent smell brought Sherlock back into the torment of consciousness, and immediately John heard soft moans of pain from him.
Warden Hou closer to the caning trestle, and began speaking to Sherlock in a tone of voice John would easily label as professionally detached. “Mr. Holmes, do you remember why you are here and the reason why you are being caned?”
John's fist clenched when Sherlock could only shake his head and groan in reply to the warden's questions.
“I regret to inform you that only seventeen of the twenty-four strokes you were sentenced to have been administered. Dr Chowdhury has informed me he believes it is safe for us to continue with your punishment and normally we would continue on his opinion alone. However Mr Holmes, because you are a foreigner whose position is shall we say unique, I was given the instructions if there was a need to halt the caning that it only be halted by the doctor's orders or by your own decision. But if you decide to continue on, one of the conditions of the punishment is that you must be conscious for each and every remaining stroke.”
“Oh for heaven sakes!” John growled. “You're all a bunch of bloody sadistic, uncaring, unfeeling barbarians without any concept of compassion or mercy if you can make that sort of demand from a man you've just caned to the point of unconsciousness!”
Hou shot him a look and signaled the guards. “I warned you not to interfere, Dr Watson.” The guards put their hands on John's arms and he dug in. “I promise you, doctor, you will be removed from this room and it will by force if you make it necessary.” He nodded to the guards, and trusting they'd carry out his order, turned his attention back to Sherlock. “I need to know your decision, Mr Holmes.”
When a third guard had joined the two who already had a death grip on his arms, John knew he had no option but to let them escort him from the room. He also knew which choice Sherlock would make, and he knew he couldn't let him do that. The guards had him almost to the door when John called out, “Cane me!” His words had the effect he wanted at the warden called the guards and John back.
“What did you say, Dr Watson?” he asked.
“I said cane me. I'll take the seven strokes Sherlock has left if you'll end his punishment and let your doctor tend to his wounds.”
“A very interesting offer, Dr Watson.” Hou was clearly amused. “It's one I'll consider allowing if Dr Chowdhury certifies you're fit enough to be caned.”
“I think your doctor will find that I am.”
“We shall see, Dr Watson.” The warden replied then said, “Doctor?”
John allowed the prison doctor to take his blood pressure as well as any other test he needed to perform for the certification and then sooner than he really wanted have liked Dr Chowdhury gave his approval. John was escorted back to the room where Sherlock was still bound to the caning trestle as they awaited the outcome.
Upon seeing him Warden Hou said, “If you truly mean to take his place, then strip.”