They had escaped…unscathed…uninjured…
Five minutes back, there had been a pool and a Semtex jacket and John. Now there was only adrenaline, making his heart pound faster than ever as his feet pounded the pavement, running…putting as much distance as he could behind them, though logically he knew, it didn’t matter.
He could hear John just one step shy of him, as usual. That’s what Sherlock Holmes had come to think of John Watson…as usual!
He realised when he led them into a dead-end alley that all his circuits weren’t still back to full firing capacity. He paused, breathing heavily, when it finally hit him. THEY WERE ALIVE…
He had no idea when he started laughing. Pushed to one corner of his hard drive, his intellectual side watched disdainfully, as his id took over; shaking his body with hysterical spasms of laughter as he collapsed against a filthy wall. The same rational brain had noted the absence of CCTV cameras with some relief. It wouldn’t do for Mycroft to witness this breakdown. He would never hear the end of it.
Like previous such instances, this time he wasn’t alone though…
He felt rather than saw John shake him by the shoulders. “Sherlock!”
Why the hell was John yelling? The bomb didn’t go off. His hearing was fine… Everything was fine…
“SHERLOCK!” This time, he was hauled up by the lapels of his jacket and slammed against wall, none too gently.
“Look at me… I said, look at me…Easy there…”
Thankfully, by then he had stopped laughing.
“I’m fine, John. Just a momentary lapse of control. I’m fine now.” He repeated carefully, his voice steady.
“Oh…Ok then…” John let go of his coat as Sherlock stood, and stepped back as if to turn around, only to draw his left arm back and let it snap forward with force. And just as suddenly, Sherlock found himself sprawled on the ground, seeing stars…
“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?”
The bomb would have probably been kinder on his ear-drums…
He blinked his eyes and focussed on John… only to realize that serial tea-making, fuzzy jumper-wearing John Watson had also been a soldier. If looks could kill, Moriarty would never have another chance at Sherlock. The realisation made his heart stutter.
John’s hands had balled into fists at his sides as he paced the alley like a caged animal. Sherlock somehow knew that right now; it was safest for him to remain silent.
But then, when had he ever done the safe thing? “I didn’t intend for you to be caught in the middle of it.”
“DON’T!” The voice contained all the unreleased violence. He shut up as he watched John take deep breaths trying to calm himself. He slowly picked himself off the ground, rubbing at his now-stinging jaw.
“Why?” John didn’t look at him as he asked the question.
“You need to be more specific, John.”
“Alright, if that’s the way you want to play it…” He advanced on Sherlock, who took an involuntary step backward, so that he was once again pressed against the wall, and John’s face was five inches from his own.
“Why didn’t you tell me what you were planning?”
… ‘protect you’… ‘keep you safe’…
At the time, he had been so sure that it had been the right thing to do. But somehow, all the ways he had of ending that sentence now seemed wholly inadequate and superfluous at the same time.
“Was it because stupid, crippled John Watson with his average intelligence couldn’t possibly be of any use to the great Sherlock Holmes and his massive intellect? That better be the reason, Sherlock. Because, if you try telling me that it was out of a misguided sense to ensure my safety, you’re going to have a matching bruise on the other cheek.”
Sherlock swallowed hard, looking into the deep blue eyes and they were like water set on fire… But that was impossible…just like John. Impossible John, who had said ‘Oh God YES!’ at the first hint of trouble; who had come even when the message had said COULD BE DANGEROUS; who had flung himself on Moriarty, Semtex, snipers and all, so that Sherlock could attempt an escape…
John had every right to be mad. He had been such an idiot!
He knew that there was only one right thing to say and he didn’t hesitate, though the words felt alien on his tongue. “I’m really sorry, John.”
And just like that, he saw the fire go out… John stumbled back suddenly looking very tired…
“Jesus Sherlock! I’m sorry for decking you like that too. But you cannot do this; lie to my face and run off on dates with psychopathic mass-murderers. If I had wanted a quiet, generic, kidnapping-free existence like a normal bloke, I would never have moved in as your flat-mate after that insane first day. Don’t you think I was completely aware of what I was getting myself into? Give me some credit... Never again, Sherlock! You will not keep me in the dark, least of all for my own safety. I need you to promise me that you will never do this again. If you won’t, then I will move out. I need you to be completely honest with me. I need to be able to trust you. Promise me, Sherlock…”
'I’ll burn the heart right out of you!'
John was going to be in danger, no matter where he was. He might as well always be at Sherlock’s side, where they could face it head on, together, like tonight (and to think he had Jim to thank for that insight).
John Watson was his moral compass, his secret weapon, his greatest strength and his biggest weakness all rolled into one impossible, extraordinary man. Jim could never understand his heart, as he didn’t have one; the one thing that set two madmen completely apart.
He knew that his next words would change the course of the future. He found that he didn’t care what the future held, as long as they faced it together…
He clasped his friend's hands in his, a gesture that sealed his words, “Alright John, I promise…”