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Doctor John Hamish Watson had spent years saving people. Throughout his career he had saved countless people in countless places; mothers, fathers, children in hospital, soldiers in the desert, strangers in the middle of nowhere. It was his job after all, as a soldier and a doctor- a very good one. But after that fateful bullet to the shoulder, and the subsequent psychosomatic limp, he never thought he would do such a thing again. It turned out he was mistaken.

His meeting with one Sherlock Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective, would change everything. He was one of the most reckless and self-destructive people John had ever met, and from the very beginning he had felt the need to protect him to the very best of his ability, even if it meant risking his own life in the process. The mind-set that had been drilled into him for years and his naturally protective nature meant that he was in a near-constant state of distress over what his flatmate would get himself into next.

It all started when he received three mysterious texts from Sherlock when they were working their first case together. There was something about the consulting detective that peeked John’s curiosity; he was like no one he had ever met. A genius, most definitely. Completely oblivious to social queues, obvious by the fact that he had left John at the crime scene without even a backward glance. And he seemed to be in a permanent state of amusement over the dullness of those around him. One thing was for certain, John was intrigued, and he wouldn’t be satisfied until he unravelled the mystery of Sherlock Holmes.

Baker Street. Come at once if convenient. SH

If inconvenient, come anyway. SH

Could be dangerous. SH

The last text had spurred John into action. Thinking that Sherlock might already be in danger, or was planning on putting himself in danger in the near future, he retrieved his gun before finally going back to Baker Street. With a steady hand and prepared to face any number of scenarios he walked up the stairs to 221B. It would be an understatement to say he was shocked to arrive and see Sherlock lying languidly across the sofa, completely safe.

The gun would most definitely be useless in a situation like this. Clearly Sherlock was in no immediate danger, but the nicotine patches visible on his arm did beg the question of whether Sherlock realized how very real the risk of nicotine poisoning was. Perhaps there was danger after all, just not the kind John had been expecting.

“What are you doing?”

“Nicotine patch. Helps me think. Impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days. Bad news for brain work.”

“It’s good news for breathing.”

“Oh, breathing. Breathing’s boring.”

“Is that three patches?”

 “It’s a three patch problem.”

“Well? You asked me to come I’m assuming it’s important.”

“Oh, yeah, of course. Can I borrow your phone?”

His phone. Sherlock Holmes had text him incessantly requesting his presence all the way from the other side of London to borrow his phone. John wasn’t even sure what to say at first, completely taken aback by the strange request, but it was here when he first learned that Sherlock never had any requests that weren’t considered strange, though in his mind they made complete sense. And it turned out Sherlock’s request did make sense, only John hadn’t been expecting he would be texting a murderer at any point in his life. Not even two whole days into his ‘association’ with Sherlock Holmes and he was already baffled. He didn’t know if he could handle living with the madman, with his strange requests, sudden silences and even more sudden bouts of excitement. But then this was exactly what John needed in his life. Something unique and exciting, something where he could feel useful again, where he could care for others and have something to do, something to look forward to.

And he most definitely had something to look forward to. After an unexpected drugs bust at the flat, John started wondering exactly when the surprises would stop. If it weren’t for his nerves of steel, he wasn’t sure he would have been able to act so calmly around a detective inspector from Scotland Yard with an illegal gun tucked into his trousers. Hours later, once the flat had been vacated and John was left alone with a beeping notebook, he was more than glad to have the gun with him.

Little did he know he would be using it again. Little did Sherlock know his text to John had saved his life.

Had it not been for Sherlock implying that it ‘could be dangerous’ John never would have thought to bring his gun with him. Had it not been for Sherlock’s mysterious exit before John never would have thought to follow when the location of the mysterious pink phone was broadcast. Without a second thought, he’d grabbed his jacket and gotten into a cab, spewing out directions left and right and hoping he could reach Sherlock before something went horribly wrong.

It had been clear by the excessive use of nicotine patches and the lack of meals that Sherlock wasn’t overly concerned with his body and his health. After all, his mind took precedent, but John never would have thought that Sherlock’s boredom and need to prove himself clever would bring him this close to death.

From his spot at the window, where John had already figured out Sherlock was unable to hear him, he could tell something was wrong. Sherlock, who was always spouting off deductions and insults, was eerily quiet, staring intently at the bottle in his hand. The cabbie on the other hand just kept talking.

“You said the victims all took the poison themselves, that he makes them take it. Well, maybe he… I don’t know, talks to them?”

Sherlock raised his hand up and John panicked when he saw the pill. What could the cabbie possible have told him to get Sherlock to take it? Sherlock who knew exactly what it was and how many people had been killed already, and he was about to make the exact same mistake.

John waited, tense yet short seconds, watching intently from the building across, hoping and praying that Sherlock would put the pill down. But he just kept raising it, closer and closer to his mouth. Too close for comfort.

John took the deadly shot.

The cabbie fell back; Sherlock twitched and dropped the pill out of sheer reflex and shock. After a quick glance to make sure he was safe John fled the scene, tucking the gun back into his trousers, confident that he would need it again.

John stood innocently on the side-lines, watching Sherlock and Lestrade talking, wondering if either- or both- had already figured it out. He knew it was only a matter of time until Sherlock realized he’d been the one to shoot the cabbie, but John wasn’t sure if he would confront him about it. The second Sherlock looked over at him he knew. The second Sherlock opened his mouth he knew.

“Good shot.”

“Yes. Yes, must have been, through that window.”

“Well, you’d know. Need to get the powder burns out of your fingers. I don’t suppose you’d serve time for this but let’s avoid the court case. Are you alright?”

“Yes, of course I’m alright.”

“Well, you have just killed a man.”

He had, and the realization hit him suddenly. So suddenly that he didn’t even know what to say. But he’d had his reasons. He’d been justified. The man had killed four others and would have continued killing unless he was stopped. Sherlock would have died if he hadn’t been stopped.

How had Sherlock become so important that John had killed just the day after meeting him? Mulling the question over days afterwards he still hadn’t figured out the answer, but there was one thing he knew for certain. This was just the beginning.

Chapter Text

It was only two months later when John realized that his troubles didn’t end with Sherlock’s behaviour or his proneness to injury. He put up with a lot from Sherlock. From his reluctance to help with anything remotely related to housework, to the mysterious scratches on the table, to the fact that he broke into his laptop. Sherlock hadn’t become any easier to live with, and he certainly hadn’t become any less needing of John’s help. Regardless of how disgruntled or unwilling John was.

In light of his not-so-recent financial troubles John had gone out in search of a job and had found not only that, but also a date. Suffice it to say Sherlock had been less than impressed.

Before that though, they had been swept into another case. After yet another interrupted meal John and Sherlock had gone over to inspect Soo Lin’s flat. John had been, once again, left outside to wait until Sherlock deemed his presence necessary. It was lucky he did, because if it wasn’t for him Sherlock would be dead. Again.

Inside the flat, completely unbeknownst to John, Sherlock was being strangled; strangled to near unconsciousness, faintly calling out John’s name as he clung to the fabric around his throat, until John’s words cut through the haze.

“No, I’m Sherlock Holmes and I was always work alone because no one else can compete with my massive intellect.”

Sherlock came to after a very short few seconds of unconsciousness to find the assailant gone, and his neck finally free. He silently thanked John for his constant irritation over Sherlock’s neglect and his very much well-placed comment. A comment that may have saved Sherlock’s life now, but would come back to haunt John.

Sherlock, finally collected, walked out to face a very pissed off and unamused John Watson, but he could see John’s face softening slightly, especially when he heard the flood of new information and Sherlock’s croaky voice.

“The, uh, milk’s gone funny and the washing’s starting to smell. Somebody left here in a hurry three days ago.”

“Somebody?”

“Soo Lin Yao. We have to find her.”

“Yeah, how, exactly?”

“Well, we could start with this.”

“You’ve gone all croaky. Are you getting a cold?”

“I’m fine.”

Sherlock’s voice and constant coughing for the next few minutes did nothing to soothe John’s overprotective doctor mind, but he let it go after a while seeing as, aside from that, Sherlock seemed fine.

Later on, after finally realizing what had happened inside the flat John would berate Sherlock for not telling him, and would insist on checking him over, especially after Sherlock’s second endeavour into strangulation in such a short amount of time.

Looking back on the events during the case John realized just in how much danger they had all been, and had chastised himself for involving someone else in it. He knew that Sherlock had an ulterior motive for suggesting the circus but he never thought he would show up himself, and he certainly didn’t think they’d all be fighting off ‘Chinese gangsters’ by the end of the evening.

Sherlock’s disappearance and the mysterious movement behind the curtain should have given it away, and in fact it did draw John’s attention, but it wasn’t until Sherlock fell through the curtain and landed on the floor with his attacker quick to follow that John realized that Sherlock had gotten himself into a fight once again. He’d wasted no time in lunging at the man, at least trying to keep him off Sherlock long enough for the detective to collect himself but he was pushed away. But before he had a chance to attack again Sarah had fought the man off and they all fled.

He really should have let Sarah leave after that. But, as he had rather loudly announced to Sherlock, he did have a couple of other things on his mind. Next thing he knew they were both tied to chairs with no way of escaping, and no Sherlock to save them.

John could only hope that Sherlock would figure out where they were and rescue them. John had done it enough times already; it was about time Sherlock returned the favour. He was getting desperate. Sarah was desperate. Even Sherlock was desperate. He had never meant for anything to happen to John, or Sarah. He didn’t much care for her but he knew John did, and besides he didn’t want innocent lives caught in the crossfire. This was his case; he was going to solve it.

John marvelled once again at Sherlock’s ability to surprise him; this time not because of an odd request but because of Sherlock’s dramatics. They were usually restricted to loud sighs, swishing coats or dressing gowns and sullen moods. This time, however, his dramatics were welcome. John was absolutely desperate to prove that he was not, in fact, Sherlock Holmes, but nothing but the man himself would convince anyone.

I’m not Sherlock Holmes!

“I don’t believe you.”

“You should, you know. Sherlock Holmes is nothing at all like him. How would you describe me, John? Resourceful? Dynamic? Enigmatic?”

“Late.”

“That’s a semi-automatic. If you fire it, the bullet will travel at over a thousand metres per second.”

“Well?”

“Well, the radius curvature of these walls is nearly four metres. If you miss, the bullet will ricochet. Could hit anyone. Might even bounce off the tunnel and hit you.”

Sherlock was like a shadow. Running around undetected, single-handedly taking out everyone without taking a single hit himself. That is until he reached Sarah- much to John’s surprise- and was caught once again with a loop around his throat cutting off his air supply. All he needed to do was get Sarah free, but even that was hard work. John, realizing the peril they are all in, struggled to reach the arrow so he could deflect it. He did so just in time, saving Sarah from being hit and Sherlock from being strangled to death.

He’d often worked under pressure, it was pretty par for the course for an army doctor, but there was a sense of helplessness that came with not being able to help those around him that he didn’t miss.

The relief stemmed from the fact that they were all safe carried over until the next day when he finally noticed the bruises on Sherlock’s neck. He’d seen him being strangled the day before, but the bruises he had were older and after a lot of pestering on his part Sherlock finally admitted that the same had happened at Soo Lin’s flat, which explained Sherlock’s croakiness and his slightly dishevelled look at the time.

Would it ever end?

John was starting to feel more and more protective of Sherlock as time went on. Not only because he realized how often Sherlock put himself in perilous situations but also because he seemed to be growing more and more fond of the man, despite all his unorthodox quirks. He would definitely be sticking around for a while.

Chapter Text

It was only a couple of days later that John found himself greeted home by the sound of gunshots. A normal person would probably call the police before making their way upstairs to investigate who could have possibly gotten into their flat and started firing guns, but John wasn’t a normal person, and neither was Sherlock. So when John heard the sound of the first gunshot he simply sighed and jogged upstairs, covering his ears as best as he could. During his short journey, he heard another three shots fired, no doubt, from his own gun. If he didn’t know any better, he would say that Sherlock had waited until he got home to start firing. But John did know better, and he was certain that Sherlock had done exactly that.

Never mind the fact that John himself wasn’t supposed to have the gun, or the fact that he had locked it away before leaving, somehow Sherlock had managed to get his hands on it, which didn’t surprise him at all.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Bored.”

“What?”

“Bored!”

“No…”

“Bored! Bored!”

John had often come home to find Sherlock in a number of strange scenarios, all caused by boredom, but never ever had he thought he would come home to find this. Sherlock was lazing around the flat, swishing his dressing gown every which way, and dangerously waving the loaded gun around.

John was quick to get the gun out of his hand, surprised when his flatmate essentially handed it to him, and took out the magazine and hid it, along with the gun, back in the box where it belonged and locked it back up again.

“Don’t know what’s got into the criminal classes. Good job I’m not one of them.”

“So you take it out on the wall.”

“Ah, the wall had it coming.”

John briefly wondered if attributing guilt to inanimate objects was a sign of madness, and if so, if it was possible for his flatmate to be diagnosed by conventional methods. But if there was one word that could describe Sherlock Holmes, it was unconventional.

John also wondered about Sherlock’s education. Throughout his own life John had learned a great deal; skills and knowledge he had garnered from school and work. No matter where he was or what he was doing he was always learning something and developing his skills. Sherlock, on the other hand, seemed to have a very selective learning scheme. He knew just about everything there was to know, but there seemed to be- so far as John could tell- two major areas where Sherlock was lacking; self-control and the solar system.

“Oh God, that again. It’s not important.”

“Not import- … It’s primary school stuff. How can you not know that?”

“Well, if I ever did, I’ve deleted it.”

“Deleted it?”

And didn’t that just explain so much about Sherlock. How he knew so much and worked through information so quickly, which led to his brilliant deductions. That in turn led to people’s ‘distaste’ for him, which led to his own distaste for them. It was a vicious cycle. So where exactly did John fit into it?

He broke the pattern.

Sherlock had observed, deduced and revealed personal information about John, but rather than lash out in surprise, anger or disdain John had simply offered praise and stated his amazement at Sherlock’s brilliance, over and over again.

So why was it that Sherlock still insisted on aggravating John so much? He pushed his patience to its limits day after day. His attitude. His disregard. His sulking. All defence mechanisms.

And John was slowly tearing the walls down.

Sherlock’s lack of self-control, possibly partially caused by Mycroft’s continuous meddling and bossing around, was apparent in just about everything Sherlock said and his complete inability to stay still for any length of time.

He needed constant mental stimulation, and when he couldn’t get any he would attack the walls or any piece of furniture within his reach. John was lucky to not yet have witnessed Sherlock when he couldn’t do either. It was not a pretty sight, and Sherlock was hopeful that John would never see him in that state. Those who had tended to leave him afterwards, alone and broken, with the exception of Mycroft- surely out of familial obligation- and Lestrade- probably because he couldn’t solve cases without his help.

But Sherlock didn’t want John to see him at his lowest, which was often the reason why he shut him out- why he shut everyone out- because if they didn’t see his true self they might actually stick around. Not that Sherlock would ever admit to needing anyone. But over the last couple of months he had come to realize how much he enjoyed John’s company, and he was afraid of messing everything up, so he did what he always did. He shot the walls, spread his science equipment all over the kitchen table, kept heads in the fridge and antagonised John.

“Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish, and that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?”

“But it’s the solar system!”

“Oh, hell! What does that matter? So we go round the Sun! If we went round the Moon, or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn’t make any difference. All that matters to me is the work. Without that, my brain rots. Put that in your blog. Or better still, stop inflicting your opinions on the world.”

Knowing that there was nothing else John could say that wouldn’t lead to an argument he decided to spend the night at Sarah’s, only to be brought back to Baker Street the next morning absolutely terrified about what might have happened to Sherlock while he was away.

After seeing the explosion on the telly John ran all the way back to Baker Street and up the stairs, pausing only to take a quick look at the damage inflicted on the house across from them and breathing out a sigh of relief that their house had, mostly, gone unscathed.

“Sherlock. Sherlock!”

“John.”

“I saw it on the telly. Are you okay?”

“Me, what? Oh, yeah. Fine. Gas leak, apparently.”

Sherlock’s casual dismissal was absolutely infuriating, but John was too busy being relieved that his flatmate was still alive to really complain. It was a feeling he tried to hold on to as they both fought off- or at least tried to- the Golem.

“Let him go, or I will kill you.”

His request went unheeded of course, especially when the Golem decided to attack him instead, but thankfully in the end they both managed to get away in one piece. The same couldn’t be said after they both arrived at the pool- Sherlock willingly, John not so much.

To this day, two months into living with Sherlock Holmes, John could honestly say that he had never been so scared. He was a soldier and a doctor. He was good in a fight and even better with injuries. Disease he could fight off. Injuries he could patch up. But there was only so much he could do with a bomb strapped to his chest and a sniper rifle aimed at him.

Sherlock was there now too, waving the memory stick around and antagonising Moriarty. Then out came John Watson, Moriarty’s puppet for the night, carrying out his little scheme. It was clear by the look of utter shock in Sherlock’s face that he thought John was Moriarty. He needed to do something to get his attention. Any way he could warn him that it was a trap and they were both in danger.

“Evening.”

. . .  _ _ _  . . .

“This is a turn-up, isn’t it, Sherlock?”

. . .  _ _ _  . . .

“John. What the hell…?”

“Bet you never saw this coming.”

. . .  _ _ _  . . .

“What… would you like me… to make him say... next?”

Concern.

“Gottle o’geer.”

Fear.

“Gottle o’geer.”

Frustration.

“Gottle o’geer.”

Anger.

All these emotions fleeted across John’s face in the space of a few short seconds. Concern for their safety. Fear for their lives. Frustration at the loss of control. Anger at the consulting criminal.

And then the thin veil of deception fell away. The bomb was revealed. The master exposed.

The curtain rises.

John tried his hardest not to lash out, not to move an inch for fear the snipers would set him off and they would all go up in flames. He was angry- beyond angry, he was absolutely fuming. He was meant to be having a quiet night in, but had ended up being kidnapped by the world’s only consulting criminal and strapped to a bomb to threaten the world’s only consulting detective.

Moriarty was so relaxed and at ease, even with a gun pointed at his head, that it made John even more nervous. Sherlock, though he may appear calm and collected on the surface, was anything but. Nevertheless, the two talked; about their meeting, about their job, about the game. Gushing out compliments and admiring their work until the attention was back on John again.

“You all right?”

“You can talk, Johnny-boy. Go ahead.”

He couldn’t stand to hear Moriarty with his casual tone, almost playful, as though everything was a game. To him it probably was. But all of a sudden John saw his chance- possibly his one chance- of ending this. He lunged at Moriarty, wrapping one arm around the man’s neck and the other holding his arm behind his back.

“Sherlock, run!”

There was no mistaking Sherlock’s expression; for once John saw it written openly across his face. Sherlock was stunned. His eyes widened and the gun wavered in his hand just for a fraction of a second before he collected himself again, put the mask back in place and steadied the gun in his hand.

Sherlock was surprised, having never even considered the possibility that John might so blatantly risk his life just to save him. Moriarty, on the other hand, sounded extremely pleased.

“Good! Very good.”

“If your sniper pulls that trigger, Mr Moriarty, then we both go up.”

“Isn’t he sweet? I can see why you like having him around. But then people do get so sentimental about their pets. They’re so touchingly loyal. But, oops! You’ve rather shown your hand there, Doctor Watson.”

John might be there to keep Sherlock in line, but Sherlock was there to keep John in line as well.

He could only stare as the laser sight was focussed on Sherlock and the red dot appeared on his forehead. Moriarty’s words and John’s facial expression gave it all away, and Sherlock knew exactly what had made the good doctor let go of Moriarty and once again return to his spot, still strapped to a bomb, quietly waiting for a resolution with the anger still simmering inside him. Sherlock knew because it was the same anger he harboured now. It had been fun at first, to play the game with Moriarty, but now John was in danger. This wasn’t a game anymore- not for him- but Sherlock still couldn’t afford to lose.

“D’you know what happens if you don’t leave me alone, Sherlock, to you?”

“Oh, let me guess. I get killed.”

“Kill you? N-no, don’t be obvious. I mean, I’m gonna kill you anyway someday. I don’t wanna rush it, though. I’m saving it up for something special. No-no-no-no-no. If you don’t stop prying, I’ll burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.”

“I have been reliably informed that I don’t have one.”

“But we both know that’s not quite true.”

Sherlock’s voice was too controlled, his body too stiff as he tried not to show any emotion; any indication that he knew Moriarty was right. He did have a heart, and he was suddenly afraid that he had shown Moriarty too much already. That he had given him everything he needed to burn him. But there was nothing he could do now, especially after Moriarty’s sudden departure.

John and Sherlock both knew this was far from over. Moriarty had orchestrated all of this just to intimidate Sherlock- to warn him off- but he had bigger plans. But for now, they were safe.

Sherlock’s eyes roamed over John before he bent down and worked quickly to divest John of the bomb. His movements were erratic, his hands shaking in his haste to get the vest off as quickly as possible.

“All right? Are you all right?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine. Sherlock. Sherlock!”

When he finally managed to remove the vest his movements were forceful and tense, until they were both left standing by the poolside, breathing heavily, trying their best to remain calm in the aftermath of such a nerve-wrecking situation.

John was doing his best to control his breathing and remain standing, but as soon as the weight of the bomb was lifted everything came crashing down. He took a step forward and his legs gave way and he somehow managed to crouch down, leaning back for support and still breathing heavily.

Having somehow managed to calm himself down slightly John turned his attention to Sherlock who was looking more and more unnerved as the seconds ticked by. The detective was pacing up and down, scratching his head with a loaded gun and looking around distractedly.

“Are you okay?”

“Me? Yeah, I’m fine, I’m fine. Fine. That, er… thing that you, er, that you did, that, um… you offered to do. That was, um… good.”

Sherlock Holmes’ compass of morality seemed to be split into two. Good. Not good.

And what happened next was a bit not good.

John was the first to notice. The red dots splayed all around his body once again. Sherlock noticed only a fraction of a second afterwards and his brain worked at break-neck speed to figure out a way out of there.

“Sorry, boys! I’m sooooo changeable! It is a weakness with me but, to be fair to myself, it is my only weakness. You can’t be allowed to continue. You just can’t. I would try to convince you but, everything I have to say has already cross your mind.”

John and Sherlock both came to a realisation at the same time.

Sherlock looked down at John, a question in his eyes, and John gave him the briefest nod; but it was enough. The determination on Sherlock’s face and in his voice was palpable.

“Probably my answer has crossed yours.”

They’d both accepted what was going to happen, resigned themselves to the fact that Moriarty had forced their hand. Maybe they weren’t going to make it out of here after all.

Chapter Text

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Of all the possible outcomes of their encounter with Moriarty, John could honestly say that this had never crossed his mind. He pondered what might have happened had Moriarty not received that phone call for days after they escaped. Would Sherlock had shot the bomb and ripped everything apart? Would Moriarty had given in and let them go? Would they have been killed some other way? There was no way of knowing, so they both tried to move on with their lives.

“We solve crimes, I blog about it and he forgets his pants.”

And then came The Woman, wrecking her way into their lives, breaking down Sherlock’s defences, leaving him exposed.

And who was there to pick up the pieces? Good old Doctor Watson.

It all started after their visit to Buckingham Palace and the subsequent venture into Belgravia. If John thought he was used to Sherlock’s odd behaviour he was about to see a whole new side of him; from his refusal to leave the flat, to going to Buckingham Palace only wearing a sheet, to asking John to punch him in the face.

“Punch you?”

“Yes. Punch me, in the face. Didn’t you hear me?”

“I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking, but it’s usually subtext.”

And even though John complied- didn’t he always? - he tried his hardest not to hurt Sherlock. As Miss Adler so kindly pointed out he avoided his nose and teeth, and ended up hurting himself more than Sherlock in the process.

But there was only so much John could protect him from.

Their plan to retrieve the photographs had been going well enough until the CIA had decided to intervene and John found himself staring down the barrel of a gun again. Luckily for him, Sherlock still possessed his full faculties and had been able to get them out of that situation alive.

If only that had been the end of it.

Irene Adler was more cunning than they had thought, and though John had felt uneasy leaving Sherlock with her to check the back door he didn’t think he would come back to see his flatmate drugged on the floor, and Irene Adler prepared to make her escape.

“Jesus. What are you doing?”

“He’ll sleep for a few hours. Make sure he doesn’t choke on his own vomit, it makes for a very unattractive corpse.”

“What’s this? What have you given him? Sherlock!”

“He’ll be fine. I’ve used it on loads of my friends.”

“Sherlock, can you hear me?”

Luckily Scotland Yard was already outside and ready to deal with what had happened in the house, while John and Lestrade managed to get a mostly unresponsive Sherlock back to Baker Street and into bed to sleep it off.

John, his date forgone and forgotten, stayed at home that night to look after Sherlock who spent most of the time sleeping. That is until he decided to wake up, drag himself out of bed and start asking questions about The Woman.

“What woman?”

The woman. The woman, woman!”

“Oh, Irene Adler? She got away, no one saw her. She wasn’t here, Sherlock. What are you…? What? No, no, no, no. Back to bed. You’ll be fine in the morning. Just sleep.”

“Of course I’ll be fine. I am fine. I’m absolutely fine.”

“Yes, you’re great. Now I’ll be next door if you need me.”

“Why would I need you”?

“No reason at all.”

Why would he need him? Sherlock thought he didn’t need anyone, but if it wasn’t for John he would have probably died countless times already. His recklessness and his self-destructive behaviour were more than proof that he needed someone with him, someone to keep an eye on him, someone to protect him. His cases and subsequent confrontations with criminals were enough danger as it was, but Sherlock Holmes was more a danger to himself than anyone could ever be. His danger nights were some of the most restless nights John had ever been through.

“Looks like he’s clean. We’ve tried all the usual places. Are you sure tonight’s a danger night?”

“No, but then I never am. You have to stay with him, John.”

And stay he did. Cancelling yet another date and losing yet another girlfriend. But Sherlock was more important. So John waited, quietly reading his book, until Sherlock got home and immediately deduced that the flat had been searched for drugs. But John couldn’t bring himself to feel guilty for invading his flatmate’s privacy. He knew what Sherlock was like. He knew how much he hated sentiment and emotions and feelings, things with which he was clearly struggling now, and John didn’t want him to turn to the drugs, not after all the effort he had put into staying clean. The cigarette had been a blow to his abstinence but it was something they could deal with more easily.

But all those feelings came rushing back with Irene Adler.

“He’s writing sad music; doesn’t eat, barely talks, only to correct the television. I’d say he was heartbroken but, er, well, he’s Sherlock. He does all that anyway.”

“Hello, Doctor Watson.”

“Tell him you’re alive.”

“He’d come after me.”

I’ll come after you if you don’t.”

And he truly would. He’d done more than that longer ago to protect Sherlock, and now he wouldn’t hesitate to do whatever had to be done to make sure Sherlock was safe. But in the end it turned out that neither of them needed to tell Sherlock anything because he was right there.

Sherlock doesn’t follow me everywhere.

It was almost impossible to talk to Sherlock after that. John came home to find a worrying note on the door, an injured landlady and an American tied to a chair. The rest of the evening had been spent looking after Mrs Hudson and giving Lestrade questionable witness reports. When they finally returned to 221B Baker Street Sherlock was quiet- eerily so- and John had tried to coax something out of him, anything, to try to ascertain his friend’s state of mind.

“So, she’s alive then. How are we feeling about that?”

“Happy New Year, John.”

“Do you think you’ll be seeing her again”?

But this conversation had been nothing compared to the one John had with Sherlock after discussing with Mycroft what exactly they should tell him about Irene. She was dead, and John was afraid of what it would do to Sherlock.

The promise of love. The pain of loss. The joy of redemption.

The last time she had, supposedly, died Sherlock had nearly relapsed, what exactly would happen this time? Clearly Mycroft thought the same thing, having been the one to see what Sherlock was like at the morgue, and together they decided to tell Sherlock that Irene was in America.

But did Sherlock really believe him?

John wasn’t a convincing liar at the best of times, but Sherlock was the most observant person he knew, surely he would see right through John’s deception. He sounded disbelieving at first but seemed to whether accept the facts or forego questioning John further. Either way, John was grateful.

But then guilt started working away at him. What exactly was he trying to accomplish? Sherlock would find out the truth sooner or later, he was bound to, and when he did wouldn’t it be so much worse to know that his best friend had lied to him, even if it was for his own protection?

“Listen, actually…”

“Oh, but I will have the camera phone, though.”

Reluctantly he agreed and gave Sherlock the camera phone which he promptly put away in his pocket.

If she’d left him he would have kept it. People do; sentiment.

John wondered what giving in to sentiment would lead Sherlock to next time.

Chapter Text

John had honestly thought that dealing with Sherlock while he was craving cigarettes would be easier than dealing with Sherlock when he was craving a case, but dealing with him when he was craving both was absolutely unbearable.

After his abrupt arrival covered in blood he was now pacing the length of the living room brandishing his harpoon and waving it around while muttering and complaining about the lack of cases, until he remembered the lack of something else.

“John, I need some. Get me some.”

“No.”

“Get me some.”

“No. Cold turkey, we agreed, no matter what.”

Long gone were the days when Sherlock would declare “Nicotine patches, remember. I’m doing well.” Instead he was turning the entire living room upside down looking for them, even looking inside a Persian slipper, begging John to tell him where they were.

I never beg.

Guess he was mistaken.

But John was resolute, and would not give in, no matter what. But he did become slightly concerned when Sherlock stated that he needed something 7% stronger. He needed a distraction, but upsetting poor Mrs Hudson while deducing her whereabouts and Mr Chatterjee’s marital status wasn’t exactly what John had in mind.

“Go after her and apologise.”

“Apologise?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“Oh John, I envy you so much.”

“You envy me?”

“Your mind; it’s so placid, straight forward, barely used. Mine’s like an engine, racing out of control, a rocket tearing itself to pieces trapped on the launch pad. I need a case!”

“You’ve just solved one! By harpooning a dead pig, apparently!”

“That was this morning! When’s the next one?”

It was one of the things that he had come to realise about Sherlock Holmes in the months they had spent living together. Sherlock needed mental stimulation at all times; preferably a case, but in its absence anything would do. Anything he could deduce he would because his mind never stopped working. This was where all the outside stimulants came from, and why it must be so hard for Sherlock to be without cases and nicotine at the same time. And while John sympathised, he knew that Sherlock’s addictive nature would not let him stop even when he had a case. After all, it had only taken one cigarette for Sherlock’s cravings to reappear.

Thankfully a case arrived only a few minutes later along with Henry Knight, and even though Sherlock took some convincing he ended up accepting the case, much to John’s confusion. Secretly though, he was pleased because that meant he didn’t have to worry about Sherlock’s cravings anymore. This was further proved by the fact that when John offered him the cigarettes he didn’t take them.

Soon enough they were on their way to Dartmoor.

It was clear by Sherlock’s excitement that the case was interesting, there was no other reason why he would take it, but John never realised just quite how unique it was.

“Twenty-year-old disappearance, a monstrous hound? I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

John had been glad for the case at first, but as it wore on he realised that maybe they were in over their heads. They had broken into a military facility to investigate a rabbit and now they were searching the moor in the middle of the night.

John had never had a problem with investigating by himself, especially if Sherlock was working on a different lead, but this time he wished he’d gone with him, but the rustling sounds and the strange lights had piqued his curiosity, and he had left Sherlock to his own investigation along with Henry.

Sherlock had been, to say the least, upset after supposedly seeing the hound. He was adamant that he hadn’t seen anything, nothing at all, while Henry himself had seen the hound and was convinced that Sherlock had as well. John, on the other hand, had only heard something, and he very much doubted the hound existed in the first place, so his priority was to deal with Henry; get him home and calm him down. It worked well enough, and soon John was on his way back to Sherlock.

But the state he had found him in was nothing compared to what Sherlock had been like at the moor.

He was sitting in front of the fire place, back straight against the chair, jittery yet stiff, blinking rapidly, breathing heavily and shutting his eyes tightly, clearly trying to calm himself. He was shaking and sweating and most noticeably quiet. It wasn’t unusual for Sherlock to be quiet, but it was extremely unusual for Sherlock to be quiet while John was discussing the case. Normally Sherlock would intervene with insults and corrective deductions whenever John tried to tell him the facts, but not this time. John was starting to get worried so he just kept on talking, relaying the facts and his new discoveries, until finally Sherlock spoke.

“Henry’s right.”

“What?”

“I saw it, too.”

“What?”

“I saw it too, John.”

“Just… just a minute. You saw what?”

“A hound, out there in the Hollow. A gigantic hound.”

“Um, look, Sherlock, we have to be rational about this, okay? Now you, of all people, can’t just… Let’s just stick to what we know, yes? Stick to the facts.”

“Once you’ve ruled out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.”

Sherlock had started to visibly shake now, and he seemed to be on the verge of tears. His voice was much more controlled than usual, clearly trying to keep any emotion from seeping into his tone, rather unsuccessfully. John knew something was wrong, but he didn’t realize just quite how much until Sherlock lifted his glass. Since when had Sherlock started drinking?

John could only stare as his friend broke down in front of him. His shaking hands brought the glass up to his lips and he took rough sips while he complained about emotions, and John tried, unsuccessfully, to find a rational solution for what Sherlock had seen- or thought he’d seen- and attempted to calm him down.

“Alright, Spock, take it easy. You’ve been pretty wired lately, you know you have. I think you’ve just gone out there and got yourself a bit worked up.”

“Worked up?”

“It was dark and scary…”

“Me? There’s nothing wrong with me.”

John’s concern grew more and more as Sherlock breathing started verging on hyperventilation until he snapped and shouted loudly enough that everyone turned around to look at them. Once attentions were turned back to their own food Sherlock went into one of his many deductions at a frankly alarming pace until finally, finally, Sherlock shut up.

John stared at his friend for a few seconds before finally finding his voice, still unsure as to what exactly he was supposed to do when Sherlock Holmes was upset.

“Yeah, okay. Okay. And why would you listen to me? I’m just your friend.”

“I don’t have friends.”

“Nah. Wonder why.”

Sherlock wasn’t what someone would call sensitive- not when it came to other people’s feelings, at least- but John liked to think that over time he had become more aware of what the things he said did to people. Clearly this wasn’t one of those times.

What they both needed right now was some time alone, so John left, only to be swept away once again by the strange lights, and a rather disturbing discovery at the end of them.

Only minutes later he received a text from Sherlock, asking, of course, for a favour. Even though he had been slightly annoyed at first, he had to admit that he didn’t regret having dinner with Louise Mortimer. It had even given him a chance to ask for help for his friend, even if it was slightly unprofessional.

“Why do you think I’m going to talk about this?”

“Because I think you’re worried about him, and because I’m a doctor too. And because I have another friend who might be having the same problem.”

John was hopeful, and desperate, for some help, especially from someone who knew what they were talking about, but unfortunately before Louise could answer they were rather rudely interrupted

Thankfully, the next day, Sherlock was much better, even going so far as to apologise to John, in his own unique way, and call him a conductor of light; something which sounded both insulting and complimentary at the same time.

“You are amazing.”

That was amazing.

“You are fantastic.”

That’s fantastic.

“Yes, alright. You don’t have to overdo it.”

“You’ve never been the most luminous of people, but as a conductor of light you are unbeatable.”

Later, John even went as far as to drink the coffee that Sherlock made him, though he questioned it at first.

“What’s this?”

“Coffee. I made coffee.”

“You never make coffee.”

“I just did. Don’t you want it?”

“You don’t have to keep apologising.”

He should have known there was something wrong with the coffee. From Sherlock’s insistence, to his hurt look, to the fact that he had made coffee in the first place. But when it came to Sherlock, John always gave in and ended up forgiving him in the end, if only because Sherlock always had his misplaced reasons for doing what he did.

What John had not been counting on was for Sherlock to drug him- or at least attempt to- lock him in a lab and pretend there had been a hound loose on the grounds which had nearly lead John to a panic attack.

But anything that Sherlock might have caused was overshadowed by Henry’s own attack and his return to the Hollow as well as the discovery of Bob Frankland’s guilt. So Sherlock, John and Lestrade all made their way to the Hollow.

He’d never seen Sherlock like this; calm, assertive and even gentle as he tried to explain to Henry everything that had happened. John was beyond relieved when Henry finally pulled the gun out of his mouth and started listening to Sherlock. He had seen soldiers lose their lives by their own hand, and it never got any easier to witness. He hoped he would never have to witness anything like that ever again.

After Sherlock’s explanation John slowly walked forward and calmly got Henry to hand him the gun. It wasn’t long until everything took a turn for the worse. The hound appeared.

It was huge. Coal black fur with red eyes.

Once they had established that it was just an ordinary dog- though at the time John was still rather doubtful- both he and Lestrade had tried to shoot it, John plunging in the deadly shot.

It hadn’t been enough to help Sherlock through his cravings, to carry out most of the investigation by himself, to have been locked up in a lab thinking there was a monster after him, to watching a young man nearly kill himself, now he had to watch a man blown to pieces.

Not something he was likely to forget. Not something he had ever been able to forget.

He’d seen enough explosions, enough blood and enough death to last a lifetime. But it seemed fate had other plans for John Watson.

Chapter Text

Come and play.

Tower Hill.

Jim Moriarty x.

When John had warned Sherlock to take a little case he never would have thought that Moriarty would make his return so soon. He’d secretly hoped that he had moved on, onto different people and bigger games, but he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. Moriarty’s threats were still seared into his memory.

If you don’t stop prying, I’ll burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.

There was only so much John could protect Sherlock from. Most of the time all he could do was warn Sherlock and hope that he would make the right decision, even if they had to discuss hats in the same conversation.

“Okay, this is too much. We need to be more careful.”

“It’s got flaps… ear flaps. It’s an ear hat, John. What do you mean more careful?”

“I mean this isn’t a deerstalker now, it’s a Sherlock Holmes hat. I mean that you’re not exactly a private detective anymore. You’re this far from famous.”

“Oh, it’ll pass.”

“It better pass. The press will turn, Sherlock. They always turn, and they’ll turn on you.”

John had never hated being right so much in his life.

Six weeks later it all started.

The trial was first. Sherlock had, of course, been called in as a witness and John had tried to get him to behave. But Sherlock hadn’t listened, and John ended up having to bail him out before the trial had even finished.

“What did I say? I said, ‘don’t get clever’.”

But Sherlock was clever, and as he’d so dutifully pointed out he couldn’t just turn it on and off, and neither could Moriarty. Not that he’d wanted to. The trial had been planned to perfection. Neither of them knew at the time but every word that came out of Sherlock’s mouth, and every word that didn’t come out of Moriarty’s, was adding fuel to the fire, creating a flame that would burn Sherlock.

The first real threat, the first real warning, came on the final day of the trial. John had been there from the very beginning waiting for the results so that he could relay them back to Sherlock.

“Not guilty. They found him not guilty. No defence and Moriarty’s walked free. Sherlock. Are you listening? He’s out. You-you know he’ll be coming after you. Sher…”

He knew, of course. Moriarty’s goal had always been to come after Sherlock; whether through a cabbie, or a Chinese gang, through a multitude of mouthpieces, through Irene Idler and then finally himself.

This was what Moriarty had been waiting for; a face-off between the two of them so he could boast about everything he’d done and everything he would do.

Of course, I am a show-off. That’s what we do.

But it wasn’t what Sherlock wanted; he wanted to understand.

“So, how’re you going to do it… burn me?”

“Oh, that’s the problem, the final problem. Have you worked out what it is yet? What’s the final problem? I did tell you… but did you listen?”

And it wasn’t long until Sherlock understood. Why Moriarty had let himself be taken in, why he’d allowed the trial to happen in the first place, why he’d not mounted a defence.

“You were advertising all the way through that trial. You were showing the world what you can do.”

“And you were helping.”

I.O.U.

Looking back over the past few months Sherlock realised that he really should have paid more attention to John’s advice.

…and please, just keep it simple and brief.

But had he? Of course not. He’d started talking about consulting criminals, spiders and criminal webs, and Moriarty had seemed so very pleased at the time, quietly nodding away at Sherlock’s statement. Sherlock hadn’t even noticed he was playing right into his hands, up to and including the part where he deduced the jury.

Who else would know all those facts if not the man that had threatened them, had threatened their families?

Who else would have found the linseed oil if not the man who put it there?

Why else would Claudette have screamed had he not been the man who had kidnapped her?

I.O.U.

But while Sherlock figured all these details out John was left in the dark. The only thing he knew was that he was becoming progressively more worried about his flatmate. Sherlock had always been one for quiet thinking, but now he wouldn’t even ride in the same cab as him.

See no one ever thinks about the cabbie. It’s like you’re invisible.

And Moriarty had been invisible, to both Sherlock and John. And it was in that moment that John promised himself that he would not let Sherlock out of his sight, not if he could help it, because his friend needed him, and John would be there for him. Whether he needed a steady gun by his side or an encouraging voice in his ear, John would be there. Right now, he needed the latter.

“You’re worried they’re right.”

“What?”

“You’re worried they’re right about me.”

“No.”

“That’s why you’re so upset. You can’t even entertain the possibility that they might be right. You’re afraid that you’ve been taken in as well.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Moriarty is playing with your mind too. Can’t you see what’s going on?”

“No, I know you’re for real.”

“A hundred percent?”

“Well, nobody could fake being such an annoying dick all the time.”

John held on to his promise as Scotland Yard came into their flat and arrested Sherlock. He had never seen that look on his flatmate’s face before and it scared him. Sherlock looked resigned, which went against his very nature, and John was afraid that Sherlock wouldn’t fight. He knew he was innocent, John knew he was innocent, even Lestrade knew, but there was only so much they could do, even less so that was within the law.

Do people usually assume you’re the murderer?

Now and then, yes.

But the law had never been a problem to John. When he saw the look in Sherlock’s eyes, how he held out his arms without protest, accepted his fate without a fight, and when he heard the calmness in his voice- no doubt trying to reassure John- he knew he had to act.

Pleading with Lestrade was useless, arguing with Donovan even worse, but then the chief superintendent had come along.

John had sat idly by and heard a lot of insults being thrown Sherlock’s way. His deductions had been mocked, his methods had been questioned, but when his very integrity was put in danger John had finally snapped. It was one thing to listen to Donovan and Anderson calling Sherlock a freak, it was another for a man to walk into his home and start insulting his best friend.

The moment the words left the chief superintendent’s mouth everyone in the room knew what John was going to do. He leaned back and, putting all his weight and force into it, hit the man square in the face- pointedly not avoiding his nose and teeth.

It hadn’t been premeditated, but in the end it turned out that John had ended up exactly where Sherlock needed him.

“So what now?”

“Doing what Moriarty wants, becoming a fugitive.”

I.O.U.

Slowly all the pieces were coming together. The key had been left at his flat. A kiss and tell by Rich Brook. Moriarty was just an actor. All then he had a sudden realisation.

“There’s only one thing he needs to do to complete his game and that’s to-”

John had, against his will, let himself be separated from Sherlock when the detective declared there was something he needed to do. It was after thinking back to the article and wondering how exactly Rich Brook had all that information that he realised there was something he needed to do as well.

John had spent so much time confronting people because of Sherlock lately, trying to stand up to his friend, when Sally Donovan had accused Sherlock of being a criminal, when Kitty Riley had accused Sherlock of being a liar, but he never would have thought that he would have to confront Sherlock’s very own brother.

He knew that Rich Brook- or in this case Moriarty- had gotten the information from Mycroft. The only other person in the world, aside from Sherlock, that could have known those things was John, and he would have never said anything. He didn’t want to believe it at first, but there was no denying that Mycroft was the one to blame.

“Moriarty wanted Sherlock destroyed, right, and you have given him the perfect ammunition.”

There was no denying the look of guilt in Mycroft’s eyes, but even so John couldn’t bring himself to be lenient. He was too worried about Sherlock, too angry and Moriarty and everything was happening too quickly. It would all end soon enough; Sherlock just needed one last detail, which his conductor of light was quick to stimulate.

Come and play.

Bart’s Hospital rooftop.

SH

Got something

of yours you might

want back.

John had a lot of regrets in his life. From people he hadn’t been able to save, to people he’d killed, to things he’d said; but this might have been one of the worst ones.

“She’s dying… you machine.”

…it sat there and I shouted abuse.

If Sherlock’s refusal to leave and his reluctance to look John in the eye hadn’t given away the fact that something was wrong, his next words should have.

“Alone is what I have, alone protects me.”

After everything they had been through together John should have known that it was just a ruse to get him to leave so that Sherlock could be alone. He should have known Sherlock was trying to keep him out of Moriarty’s grasp. He wanted to face the criminal alone, just like he had the first time, and he needed John out of the way.

The second John saw Mrs Hudson alive and well he knew that something wrong, and the moment the realisation came to him he was absolutely floored.

Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a much more vicious motivator.

John sprang out of the flat and into a cab, all the way cursing himself for having left his best friend alone. He knew something was wrong, he knew how dangerous it was to be separated, but he’d left anyway, leaving his friend unprotected.

You’ve met him. How many friends do you imagine he has?

“John?”

“Not just John. Everyone.”

“Mrs Hudson.”

“Everyone.”

“Lestrade.”

“Three bullets, three gunmen, three victims. There’s no stopping them now.”

Every person has their pressure point; someone that they want to protect from harm.

John had spent so much time protecting Sherlock, who had become a vital part of his life, that he never thought about the fact that maybe Sherlock would be trying to protect him as well.  When he’d left with the cabbie by himself, when he’d met up with Moriarty at the pool and then on the rooftop alone, all so that John wouldn’t be in danger. Nevertheless, it had happened, and now the lives of three of his friends were in his hands.

He knew what he had to do. To save John Watson, he had to kill himself. He’d accepted it, but now he needed John to accept it too.

“Hello?”

“John.”

“Hey, Sherlock, you okay?”

“Turn around and walk back the way you came.”

“No, I’m coming in.”

“Just do as I ask. Please.”

John had never heard Sherlock sound so pleading and desperate, and he rarely ever heard him say please, so he gave in to his request, even though he wanted nothing more than to see his friend.

“Where?”

“Stop there.”

“Sherlock?”

“Okay, look up. I’m on the rooftop.”

“Oh God.”

Of all the horrible scenarios he had concocted in his head on his way over this had not been one of them. He never thought he would see Sherlock like this- not Sherlock, not his best friend- sound so pleading, and hurt, and desperate, standing on the ledge of a building.

It had never hurt John so much to be away from Sherlock. He was too far away to do anything. He’d never felt so useless, just watching from afar, unable to stop his friend. He felt the panic rising with him, the same panic he had felt when he thought he would die in Afghanistan, the same panic he had felt when he thought he would die at the pool, because if Sherlock killed himself in front of him, John wasn’t sure he would be able to put himself back together again.

But he had to do something for Sherlock now. The most he could do was keep him talking, and hope that somehow he could talk him down from that ledge. He could only hope that he could somehow make it all better.

“I… I… I can’t come down, so we’ll… we’ll just have to do it like this.”

“What’s going on?”

“An apology. It’s all true.”

Genius detective proved to be a fraud. I read it in the papers so it must be true.

“Wh-what?”

“Everything they said about me. I invented Moriarty.”

After all the time they spent, together, trying to fight Moriarty, trying to prevent Sherlock’s name from being smeared, trying to avoid Lestrade and Scotland Yard, now Sherlock was admitting to everything. But John could never believe him, not after everything he’d seen him do, after all the brilliant deductions he’d witnessed, the speed at which the cases were solved, the amount of lives Sherlock had saved.

What worried him the most right now was how calm Sherlock was. He sounded as though he’d already made up his mind, and there was nothing he could do to stop him.

“Why are you saying this?”

“I’m a fake.”

“Sherlock…”

He knew it wasn’t true. Sherlock knew it wasn’t true, it couldn’t be. Sherlock was amazing, brilliant, fantastic, he wasn’t a fake. He was his best friend; Sherlock Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective. The man who solved cases with a laptop while wearing only a sheet, the man who took one look at a person and deduced their entire life story, the man who he would believe in to the end of his days, no matter how much he tried to convince him otherwise.

“The newspapers were right all along. I want you to tell Lestrade; I want you to tell Mrs Hudson, and Molly… in fact tell anyone who will listen to you that I created Moriarty for my own purposes.”

“Okay, shut up, Sherlock, shut up. The first time we met… the first time we met, you knew all about my sister, right?”

If only he could make Sherlock realise that there was nothing he could say that would convince him he was a fake. He needed Sherlock to know he was on his side; that he had faith in him like no one else had ever had. He’d fought too hard against Moriarty, against anyone who ever said Sherlock was less than a genius, less than human, to give up now.

They’d been through too much together, and this would not be the end of it. It couldn’t be.

“Nobody could be that clever.”

“You could.”

There was a moment of silence, where John stopped pushing and Sherlock stopped trying to convince him. A moment when John’s hope flared, that maybe Sherlock would step down and be safe, that he would give up the insane notion that John would ever believe he was fake, but then Sherlock trudged on, determined to convince John, determined to lie. And John just couldn’t take it anymore.

“I researched you. Before we met I discovered everything that I could to impress you. It’s a trick. Just a magic trick.”

“No. All right, stop it now.”

His anger was flaring. Why did Sherlock insist on being so stubborn? If only he would come down, or at least let John go up to him, they could have a proper conversation. Sherlock needed to talk, John needed to talk, and this wasn’t the way. But Sherlock just wouldn’t accept it.

“No, stay exactly where you are. Don’t move.”

“All right.”

“Keep your eyes fixed on me. Please, will you do this for me?”

The pleading again. It was so difficult to listen to. Sherlock sounded so broken, so desperate, John could hardly bare to listen. He tried to keep calm, to let any semblance of worry out of his voice, especially when Sherlock’s sounded so shaky. He was becoming more and more desperate and John was afraid that maybe he wouldn’t be able to stop him after all.

“Do what?”

“This phone call- it’s, er… it’s my note. It’s what people do, don’t they- leave a note?”

You know how they never leave notes? This one did.

“Leave a note when?”

…in your very last few seconds, what would you say?

“Goodbye, John.”

“No. Don’t. No. SHERLOCK! Sher…”

The world blurred all around him; he couldn’t hear anything and he couldn’t see anything aside from Sherlock lying on the ground. After a few seconds of staring out in frozen shock he propelled himself forwards and even after being knocked down managed to get up and stagger towards his best friend, trying to ignore the ringing in his ears.

“I’m a doctor, let me come through. Let me come through, please. No, he’s my friend. He’s my friend. Please.”

Colleague of mine, Doctor Watson.

This is my friend, John Watson.

I’d be lost without my blogger.

I’m putting my best man onto it.

He tried cutting through the crowd that was gathering around Sherlock, but when he finally did he wished he hadn’t. The sight of Sherlock on the ground, so still, so lifeless, was too much for him.

One day we’ll be standing around a body and Sherlock Holmes will be the one who put it there.

He tried to find Sherlock’s pulse, but they wouldn’t let him, and even if they had, would there be a pulse to find?

“Please let me just…”

Sherlock’s hand fell lifeless onto the pavement. When they turned him over his eyes were still open, his face was still and his hair was covered in blood.

“Jesus, no. God, no.”

Since then life hadn’t been the same. John would sit on his chair, quietly gazing across at Sherlock’s empty one thinking about everything he’d lost. He started going back to see his therapist, but he could never find the words to voice his grief, not to her anyway.

“I’m angry.”

“It’s okay, John. There’s nothing unusual in that, that’s the way it made everyone feel.”

And then John was alone. Alone to talk. Alone to grieve. Alone to cry.

“Um, mmm… You… you told me once that you weren’t a hero. Um… there were times I didn’t even think you were human, but let me tell you this; you were the best man, and the most human… human being that I’ve ever known and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie, and so… there.”

If Sherlock were here he would berate him for the sentiment; for the foolish need to speak to someone who was not there to listen. But John hadn’t been able to convince Sherlock on the rooftop, and while he was certainly not going to be able to convince him now, he still needed to get the words out. All the things he hadn’t said when Sherlock was alive, all the things he hadn’t been able to convince him of before he killed himself.

He needed Sherlock to know how important he was to him, how much he’d given him after a broken soldier came back from Afghanistan with nothing much to live for. He’d given him purpose and he’d given him his life back. Sherlock Holmes had saved him.

“I was so alone, and I owe you so much.”

So much he hoped he’d been able to return. Sherlock was more human than anyone would ever know, and John had tried his best to make Sherlock a better person- no, to allow Sherlock to become a better person. He had it in him the whole time, he’d just needed a reason, just one person, who could appreciate it and John hoped he’d been that for him. Because Sherlock meant so very much to him, and now he didn’t have him anymore.

“But please, there’s just one more thing, one more thing, one more miracle, Sherlock, for me. Don’t… be… dead. Would you do…? Just for me, just stop it. Stop this.”

He didn’t feel any better after getting the words out; instead the realisation that Sherlock was not there to listen- would never be there- made it much harder for him to accept it. So he ended up like he’d started off; a lonely army doctor with a psychosomatic limp and no best friend.

He was my best friend and I’ll always believe in him.