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The first time John Watson sees Sherlock Holmes, he’s just been hit by a car.

“Bloody fuck,” John says, then looks down at his watch, pops out the winding mechanism, and sets the minute hand back. The car zips back down the street, in reverse, and Sherlock falls upward and takes several steps back onto the sidewalk. The man who pushed him - who looks like nothing less than a hired goon, thick musculature, a heavy brow, and a look on his face that’d probably make his mother cry - walks backward down the street, until he reaches the corner.

“Right, then,” John says, and depresses the winding mechanism on his watch. People start moving, again. The thug makes it within 5 feet of Sherlock, and John tackles him.

“What the bloody fuck!” the man says.

“Oh, sorry, mate,” John says. “Mistook you for someone else.”

“Who the fuck do you go around tackling,” the man says.

“Oh, you know,” John says. “Bit of a game my friends and I play.” The man looks up at him like he’s a lunatic, which is an improvement on killing John’s charge. John flashes him a smile that’s all teeth, and the man pauses a moment - John’s not an avenging angel for nothing.

“Here, then,” John says, standing up and holding a hand out to the man, “Up we go,” and pulls him to his feet. Sherlock is nowhere to be seen. “Be careful, mate,” he says. “Never know when somebody’ll show up to tackle you.”

“Bloody fucking lunatic,” the man mutters, huddling up against the wind and storming down the street.

He gets hit crossing the next street.

“Serves you right,” John says. Not exactly like the days of raining fire down on the earth, but it gets the job done.

John walks off, whistling.

#

The second time John sees Sherlock, someone’s holding his head underwater.

“Jesus Christ,” John says, then looks up and says, “Sorry about that. Slip of the tongue,” then pops out the winding mechanism on his watch. The scene freezes.

John gives the man holding Sherlock down a good kick in the backside. Being that it was John who kicked him, he doesn’t stop falling.

“Enjoy eternity and all that,” John says. “Really should have thought twice about all the murdering and stealing.” He pulls Sherlock bodily out of the water and flips him on his back. “Right then,” he says, depressing the mechanism on his watch, again. The scene speeds forward, but Sherlock doesn’t start breathing.

“You know,” John says, “You’re already worse than all my other charges, and it’s been three days.” He rearranges Sherlock more conveniently, tipping his head back. “You must be a trouble magnet,” then starts doing chest compressions and breathing for Sherlock until he shudders suddenly and violently. John turns him on his side, so he can vomit up water and is gone before Sherlock can look up to see who saved him.

#

The third time John sees Sherlock, someone has electrocuted him.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” John says, pulling out the mechanism on his watch, again - never has he had to do this so many times for one charge in so short a period of time - and starts winding it back. Sherlock goes into convulsions, the air crackles and spits electricity, Sherlock goes still, and then the thugs who’ve caught him walk backwards out of the room.

“I ought to leave you just a bit electrocuted,” John says. “Maybe you’d be more careful.” He considers Sherlock for a moment, then sighs. “Right, probably not.” He depresses the mechanism on his watch. Sherlock blinks up at him, sluggishly; his pupils are blown wide, and his face is slack. They’ve definitely given him something.

“Right, then,” John says. “Time to go, Sherlock.” He tears at the straps binding him and winds an arm around his body. “Upsy daisy,” he says, lifting him bodily out of the chair. “You know for someone who looks like a bloody Praying Mantis, you weigh quite a bit.” Sherlock blinks at him, dumbly, and makes a rumbling sort of noise in the back of his throat, which is the moment the thugs who grabbed Sherlock off the street amble in.

“Hey!” one says - they’ve both got guns in hand so quickly it’s all John can do to snap his fingers before they fire. They start to jerk and shudder and fall to the ground, electrified.

“I’d say I’m sorry,” John says, stepping over them, “but I’m pretty sure you’re both right wankers.” Sherlock makes another rumbling noise, and John drags him out of the warehouse without further complication.

“No bloody taxis out here,” John says. “Guess you and I are going for a bit of a stroll.” He half-carries, half-drags Sherlock down the street, which has more streetlights shot out than lit. “I can see why you’d like this part of town,” John says. “Much higher probability of being murdered. Which is apparently your pastime.” All at once, Sherlock goes completely slack, dead-weight, just about pulling John down on the sidewalk.

“Right, bugger this,” John says and waves one hand. A shadow slides around the corner, headed towards them. “Oh, would you look at that, a police car.” He flags down the car with one hand, keeping Sherlock relatively upright with his other arm; it pulls over and when the door pops open, a black woman with more curls than are necessary steps out.

“Right,” she says. “Of course it’s the freak.” John considers being vengeful for a moment, but she’s not his department.

“Please,” he says, instead. “I think he’s hurt.” The woman gives him a sour look but says, “Right put him in the car,” opening the back door and helping him lower Sherlock in - although it’s really more shoving than lowering. She slams the door, then turns back to him.

“And who exactly are you?” she says.

John waves one hand at her. “I’m not the man you’re looking for,” he says, and she goes blank-faced, then turns around and gets back into the driver’s side.

“That should be less funny than it is,” John says, musingly, then disappears.

#

The fourth times John sees Sherlock, he’s been pushed off a building.

“This is getting ridiculous,” John says, popping out the mechanism of his watch, once more, winding the hand back. Sherlock falls up towards the roof of the building, body knitting itself back together along the way, until he’s standing on the very edge, fourteen stories up, hands tied neatly behind his back.

“At least the electrocution was more creative.” John says, as he grabs hold of the man who’d pushed Sherlock, as well as his compatriot. “Can’t say I’ve seen many of those, recently. Pushing people off buildings, that’s just low-brow. No thought involved at all.” He gives a good shove, and both men go toppling off the top of the building. This time, he lets the ground stop them. “See, now, this is why you shouldn’t go around murdering people,” he says. “You never know when an angel’ll show up to push you off a building.”

John pulls Sherlock several feet back from the edge, then unties his hands. “I’m going to start leaving notes around your flat,” he says. “‘Try not to be murdered, today.’ ‘Don’t make any criminals want to kill you.’” He considers Sherlock for a moment. “Also, you should probably buy some milk. I think your flatmates going to kill you himself, if you don’t quit drinking it all without replacing it.”

Stepping back, John depresses the mechanism on his watch. The scene speeds forward, but John vanishes before Sherlock can turn around and catch him.

#

The fifth time John sees Sherlock, someone’s snapped his neck.

“Honestly, this is worse than pushing him off a building,” John says, as he pops out the mechanism of his watch - again - turning the minute hand back. “I mean anybody can break somebody’s neck. I know a few preteen girls who could probably break somebody’s neck.” He drags Sherlock - neck looking like a neck ought to look, now - a safe distance away from the man who’d snapped him like uncooked spaghetti. “I mean, they’re not your typical preteen girls, obviously,” he says. “Not anyone you’d want to invite to a 13th birthday party. But they could probably still come up with something better than this.”

He regards the man who’d broken Sherlock’s neck for a moment. “Honestly, this is getting to be more trouble than it’s worth,” he says, then steps behind the man and jerks his head around. He crumples to the ground, head lolling at an unnatural angle. John looks at Sherlock again and then down at the man.

“Right, you probably shouldn’t be here,” he looks down at his watch. He’s going to need more than a few minutes. “My audit’s going to be a bitch,” he says, then starts winding the time back. He gives Sherlock an hour, which should put him well away from the building and sufficiently out of passerby’s memories that he won’t be tried for murder, when the body’s found.

“I should put in for a transfer,” John says. “Go back to soldiers. They died a lot less.”

#

The sixth time John sees Sherlock, someone’s shot him.

“Right, bugger this,” John says, turning his watch back, just long enough for Sherlock not to be sprawled across the ground, bleeding. “Time for some theatrics.” He looks up and adds, “Sorry about this. But something’s got to be done.”

John opens his wings out, wide, nearly spanning the width of the room, shaking them loose, and takes to the air. He positions himself so he’s just behind Sherlock, hovering over him. He clears his throat, and summons up a bit of light and thunder, then depresses the mechanism on his watch.

“INFIDELS,” he cries, and the man with the gun looks up and then looks like he’s about to wet himself. “I HAVE COME FORTH FROM THE HEAVENS TO PASS JUDGMENT UPON YOU.”

“Holy fucking shit,” the man says, dropping the gun and hitting his knees. His fellow thugs follow suit. Sherlock turns around and stares at him. Strangely he doesn’t look like he’s going to be cowering anytime soon. Then again, he’s the sort of man that gets murdered six times in a month, so God only knows what his baseline looks like.

“YOU HAVE ACTED AGAINST ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN MESSENGERS.” John says, which isn’t exactly true, but sounds a lot better than, ‘I’m tired of undoing all this murdering, cut it the fuck out.’ “I SPARE YOU NOW ONLY SO YOU MAY PASS ON THIS MESSAGE, ‘HE WHO HARMS SHERLOCK HOLMES, HARMS GOD HIMSELF.’” John’s going to be in such deep shit for this, but it’s better than undoing a murder every half-week. God will appreciate John using less time, at least. “GO, NOW, BEFORE MY FURY BECOMES GREATER.”

The men scramble to their feet, making a lot of really unfortunate noises, and run like Hell’s chasing them. Which is relatively accurate.

Sherlock’s still looking at John.

“I don’t believe in God,” he says, finally, and John laughs, falling back to the ground and tucking his wings in.

“Funny thing about that,” John says. “He still believes in you.” He dusts himself off. “Also, while I’m here, can I just say you really need to stop making so many people want to murder you. You’re using up Heaven’s resources.”

“How inconsiderate of me,” Sherlock says. He regards John, more shrewdly. “You’ve been following me for some time.”

“A month,” John admits. “You were murdered six times, by the way. Congratulations on setting the new civilian record.”

“Surely you can’t fault me for being exceptional,” Sherlock says. John stares. He’s only half-certain that’s a joke.

“Christ,” he says - the looks up, “Right, sorry, again,” and back at Sherlock. “You’re a real piece of work, you know.”

“So I’ve been told,” Sherlock says. He considers John for a moment. “Your job is to stop me being murdered.”

“Yes,” John admits. “Although please don’t take that as permission to be murdered more. Eventually it’ll stick.”

“After your theatrics, I imagine the probability of that will fall,” Sherlock says.

“You’d be surprised,” John says. “Don’t make me do that in the middle of a street, next time. We’ll have serious words.”

“I tremble with anticipation,” Sherlock says.

#

The seventh time John sees Sherlock, he has to put the fear of God into an entire block.

“What did I say about next time,” John says, and Sherlock gives him a smile that makes John seriously reconsider his career path. Soldiers, he thinks, far less stress.

“Perhaps I enjoy your company,” he says.

“Perhaps you’ve got a bloody death wish,” John says. “You’re like a suicidal cat. Please just learn to enjoy a quiet day at home.”

“Dull,” Sherlock says. “Your presence is not dull.”

John stares at him. “I’m turning you into a divine adrenaline junkie,” he says.

Sherlock gives him that stress-ratcheting smile, again. “You really have no one to blame but yourself,” he says.

“Right,” John says. “Right. If I were to, say, visit from time to time, would you stop trying to get yourself killed constantly?”

“Perhaps,” Sherlock says. “Though of course I can make no guarantees.”

#

The eighth time John sees Sherlock, everyone thinks they’re dating.

Given the alternative, it’s not even worth arguing.