There isn’t enough time for Sherlock to think properly, too many thoughts: inconsequential thoughts; unformed thoughts; woolly thoughts. It’s disorientating. When he came to the pool he thought he was calling the shots. Moriarty was keen to prove him wrong.
Sherlock doesn’t think he’s put on a bad show, matching Moriarty wit for wit but he’s running on adrenaline, acting off instinct. He can barely recall any of it.
He recalls the moment he first saw John. The brief, horrifying suspicion that somehow John was behind it all and that Sherlock would have to defeat John, bring him down.
Then Moriarty appeared and it was distracting, almost entertaining, if it weren’t for the nagging concern for John’s safety.
He remembers some of Moriarty’s threats, most of them were boring but there was one that sticks out in Sherlock’s memory. Moriarty threatened to “burn the heart out of him” and Sherlock finds that intriguing.
He remembers the relief when Moriarty left, the urgency with which he stripped John of his explosives-riddled jacked, the horrid stench of fear when Moriarty returns. But Sherlock has the gun and John has already made clear his willingness to die.
Sherlock is quite prepared to do it. Not just to end the tedium of his own life but to stop Moriarty from hurting others. Sherlock never realised he cared about that and perhaps he doesn’t, not really, but John and Lestrade seem to care. Moriarty would run rings around Lestrade, and Lestrade would run himself in the ground, trying to stop it, to stop the impossible. Lestrade would work himself to death.
No, Sherlock is the only one smart enough to stop Moriarty. And Sherlock wants to stop him. So he aims his gun at the explosives-riddled jacket, and prepares himself to pull the trigger.
“If you kill me now,” Moriarty smiles daggers. “This still continues. Pigs don’t taste very well when they’re full of copper and lead.” Sherlock freezes, his face draining of all blood until he looks like he’s going to faint. “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to make sure you’re left alone. All alone. Of course, I might do that, just for the fun of it.”
“You wouldn’t.” Sherlock spits, his hands shaking. “You wouldn’t dare!”
“Is that a challenge?” Moriarty grins, before slipping away into the darkness. John is still on the floor, but once he’s certain Moriarty is gone he’s angry enough at Sherlock to stand.
“What the hell was that?” John demands.
“I’ll catch him later.” Sherlock dismisses. “I’ve got to...” Sherlock starts by texting a number but he soon realises that isn’t sufficient. He needs his mind putting at rest now. “Pick up. Pick up!” Sherlock yells at the phone.
“Sherlock?” John shouts. “Sherlock?!” John doesn’t know what to ask. ‘Are you okay?’ is a stupid question in this situation, although Sherlock would insist he’s fine, even though it’s quite evident he’s rattled, to say the least. “What’s going on?” Sherlock ignores him, running off. John runs after him.
“Sherlock.” John pants. “Where are we going?”
“Moriarty isn’t that stupid.” Sherlock mutters. “But why isn’t he answering?”
“Sherlock, what’s going on?”
“I guess he could be working a case, perhaps in a conference but it’s late, maybe he’s even getting some sleep. Ha, he needs it but I don’t know and Moriarty, he said, he threatened-“
“Wait, are we talking about Lestrade?” John asks, piecing together most of the pieces.
“Yes, Lestrade! We’re almost at his place. Hurry up!” Sherlock orders.
“Why are you so worried about Lestrade?” John questions but Sherlock has already run off into the distance.
John catches up outside the door Sherlock is frantically throwing himself against. John has never seen Sherlock like this before, it’s rather unsettling. John tries to figure out why, using Holmes’ methods. He surveys the area. The building has been divided up for three separate tenants judging by the numbers on the door. John is able to deduce that Lestrade lives on the middle floor, by the bullet holes in the window. John helps Sherlock break the front door down.
John is surprised by the fact Sherlock uses a key to get into Lestrade’s room.
Perhaps it’s John’s time in Afghanistan but he feels oddly calm. Strangely detached as he observes Sherlock’s erratic behaviour; the desperation with which he searches the rooms; the terror in his voice as he calls out Lestrade’s name.
“Sherlock.” John finds Lestrade first. Lestrade is slumped over a desk, blood splatter on his laptop, a puddle of blood on the floor beneath him, dripping from the hole in his shoulder and his back. John barely has time to react before Sherlock is scooping the lifeless body into his arms, rolling the man’s head back to kiss his lips, placing him on the floor to start CPR. “Stop it, Sherlock. You’re making it worse!” John snaps, surprised by what he’s seen.
“I can’t do nothing!” Sherlock snaps back, tears leaking out of his eyes. He really must be upset if he’s using a double negative.
“Then call for an ambulance. You can give them the address.” John instructs. “And give me your scarf. He hasn’t got much blood left; we need to make sure what little he has remains inside his body.” Sherlock doesn’t respond. He’s shaking. “Sherlock!” Sherlock starts. He jumps into action, shoving his scarf into John’s hands and dialling 999 with a trembling hand.
Sherlock stutters instructions into the phone, desperation causing him to trip over his own words. John tends to Lestrade’s bloodless body, worried about the bullet in Lestrade’s back, no exit wound so it’s still inside his body doing untold damage. John can’t think about that, he just needs to keep Lestrade alive until the ambulance arrives. John can hear Sherlock, frantically begging over the phone for them to hurry, telling them the address and Lestrade’s blood type. Then Sherlock hangs up and falls gracelessly to the floor, his hand skimming under the fabric of Lestrade’s bloody shirt, resting over where his heart is, terrified when he barely feels a thing.
Sherlock is no longer speaking and John is too busy keeping Lestrade alive to pay attention to Sherlock.
They wait for the ambulance in silence.
John is torn. Lestrade is rushed off to surgery and Sherlock is treated for shock. Sherlock doesn’t protest, he doesn’t do anything. Sherlock is catatonic. John feels helpless.
The adrenaline wears off and John falls asleep, his mind trying to make sense of the day: images of Moriarty flash through his mind, red dots and explosions, Lestrade’s blood and Sherlock’s heart breaking. He doesn’t wake up for thirteen hours but he wakes with a slightly clearer mind. His first instinct is to check on Sherlock but he dismisses that. He needs to know that Lestrade survived.
Lestrade did survive but there are ventilation machines breathing for him and he is still in a coma. John is concerned about that. The tests and scans are all positive but John can still recall the blood on his hands even though he’s washed them countless times since. John can’t know the damage until Lestrade wakes up. He can guess, his mind going to the worst possible scenarios and it’s unbearable.
He goes outside to throw up.
He doesn’t feel any better after he’s visited Sherlock. Still catatonic. No change. John tries to tell himself that it isn’t so worrying, it’s not unusual for Sherlock to not acknowledge people, not talk, not eat or not speak. What is unusual is the tear that has leaked from Sherlock’s wide open and vacant eyes. Sherlock is crying. John convinces the nurse not to fill Sherlock with drugs since the catatonic state is clearly emotional, not medical but he’s told it’s only a short reprieve, the nurse will return to complete his duties.
John goes outside to breathe and think, not knowing who to turn to, not knowing what to do.
John comes to the conclusion that he needs to fix Sherlock first, because then Sherlock will inform him what to do next and probably mock him at the same time. John needs to fix Sherlock quick before the nurse pumps him full of benzodiazepines. He almost calls Mycroft but John doubts that wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t react to Mycroft.
The answer is so obvious he can almost hear Sherlock calling him an idiot.
He would react to Lestrade.
Now John just has to tackle the problem of how to get Sherlock to Lestrade. It’s easy enough to order a nurse to help him put Sherlock into a wheelchair: what isn’t so easy is to sneak him into Lestrade’s ward. John is stopped by a little middle-aged woman who looks far scarier than any security guard.
“Look, I know it’s not hospital policy but Sherlock NEEDS to know Lestrade is still alive.” John argues.
“Doesn’t look like he cares to me.” The woman answers back.
“Appearances can be deceiving.” John replies. He has seen two sides of Sherlock and he doesn’t know which one to believe. John never had a clue about Sherlock and Lestrade. “Lestrade.” John wonders. “Who’s his next of kin? Can you look it up?” She reluctantly takes her eyes off John to look at the computer screen.
“Sherlock Holmes. Partner.” She reads out, looking at Sherlock for the first time, her eyes suddenly overwhelmed with pity. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m Sherlock’s flatmate.” John tells her. “Last night, somebody kidnapped me and strapped a bomb to me in an attempt to get Sherlock to stop foiling a guy’s criminal activities. Sherlock was prepared to shoot the bomb; killing me, the bad guy and himself. Then the evil, evil man threatened Lestrade and Sherlock ran to Lestrade’s house. When we found him I thought we were too late. If we are to have a chance of catching the scumbag who did this, I need Sherlock. Please. It’s been a long few days. I just want to give this a try. I don’t think it could do any harm.” The woman blinks, trying to digest what John has just told her. “I’m a Doctor.” John continues. “I just want to help. I want them both to get better. I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise that.”
“OK!” She gives in. “And good luck.”
As soon as Lestrade is visible, Sherlock walks out of wheelchair and takes the seat next to Lestrade’s bed. He takes hold of Lestrade’s hand, careful of the IV drip.
“How is he?” Sherlock asks, his voice a little shaky but never-the-less, back to his usual demanding self.
“Alive.” John answers back, a little childishly, annoyed at Sherlock for putting him through so much worry and stress until he reminds himself that it’s better than the alternative. “We can’t really say more than that until he’s woken up.” John sighs, pulling up another chair and sitting down, making sure he can keep an eye on both Sherlock and on Lestrade. “The tests look positive but with the amount of blood loss he sustained...” John trails off. “The wound to the shoulder was a through and through but the bullet in his lower back... when he wakes up he could be paralysed or brain damaged, it’s impossible to know – why didn’t you tell me, Sherlock?”
“Huh? Tell you what?” Sherlock replies.
“About you and Lestrade.” John clarifies.
“What about Lestrade and me?” Sherlock asks.
“That you’re... together.” John answers. Sherlock laughs. “He is my friend, you know.”
“Then why didn’t he tell you?” Sherlock points out. John doesn’t know. “Because it’s nothing to him. He doesn’t even think about it.”
“He has you as his next of kin.” John notes. “That must mean something.”
“It just means he hasn’t got anybody else.” Sherlock says bitterly. John shakes his head but knows better that to disagree with Sherlock. He doesn’t have the energy.
“So what is going on between you two?” John asks, curious.
“Do you really want to know?” Sherlock double checks. John can tell by the tilt of Sherlock’s head that he wants to tell the story. He wants to brag about his relationship with Lestrade. It’s almost endearing.
“Probably not.” John needs to appear reluctant, for masculinities sake. “Wait, is that what you meant when you told me you were ‘married to your work’?” Sherlock breaks into a grin.
“I was thinking of him, yes.” Sherlock realises he’s grinning and tries to hide it. “I waste far too much energy thinking about him. So many tiny little details, clogging up my hard drive but I can’t delete them. Stupid details, like how he takes his coffee, his favourite deodorant, favourite brand of toothpaste, his birthday-“
“What is his birthday, by the way?” John interrupts, curious.
“Oh no you don’t!” Sherlock smiles slyly. “That’s the only day of the year I get him all to myself. No annoying cases. I take the battery out of his mobile, take his phone of the hook, no distractions.”
“That almost sounds romantic.” John comments. Sherlock snorts.
“He hates it when I make a fuss over him.” Sherlock notes. “’It’s just another day. Nothing special.’” Sherlock mimics Lestrade, his accent changed. “His accent gets thicker after we’ve...” Sherlock blushes, not embarrassment but sheer happiness. John blinks, bemused.
“How long have you...?” John trails off, knowing Sherlock will get it.
“Twenty minutes after meeting him I may have confessed my love for him.” Sherlock smiles. John laughs, shaking his head.
“That’s lust, Sherlock. Not love.” John informs him.
“Perhaps.” Sherlock concedes. “But I did perceive the possibility of being in love in the future. It was rather exhilarating at the time. A little devastating that he didn’t believe me.” Sherlock frowns. “Depressing to think that he still doesn’t believe me.” Sherlock squeezes Lestrade’s hand just a little tighter before shaking off such sad thoughts. “But I solved the case for him. And he was so grateful. He needs me and he accepts that.
“I use to go crazy, waiting for him to call. Always for work, because that’s all there is, for him and for me.” Sherlock insists but John is beginning to doubt that. “But he’d only call me for the cases he couldn’t solve. The mysterious ones. The interesting ones.”
“That’s good, isn’t it?” John asks, confused. He knows Sherlock doesn’t like being pestered for trivial things.
“Not for him.” Sherlock answers back, sounding strangely concerned. “When I first saw him he was... overwhelmed and things got worse from there. I broke into his place a few weeks after we met. Just because I was bored. I wanted to see if he had any interesting cases for me.” That sounds like a lie but John doesn’t call him out on it. “At first I thought he wasn’t in but he was there. Sitting in the dark. Brain still buzzing with paperwork, personnel and a rather nasty child pornography ring he was stupid enough to stumble across. Sick to the stomach and exhausted but unable to sleep. He was a mess!”
“What did you do?” John prompts, a little enthralled.
“I kissed him.” Sherlock recalls, bewildered. “I let him talk to me. He cried a little and tried to apologise but I just kissed him to shut him up, told him he never needed to apologise, not to me, not to anybody. I wanted to make him forget.” Sherlock seems baffled by the notion. “So I did. But it never lasts.” Sherlock sighs. “He goes back to work and he lets it drain him, clogging up his brain and his heart and body with such unhealthy baggage. Why can’t he just stay in bed with me?” Sherlock asks, pouting a little.
“The world doesn’t work that way.” John says, knowing why it doesn’t but at the same time, kind of wishing it would. “Besides, you would get bored, without a puzzle to solve. Lestrade’s an open book.”
“He isn’t.” Sherlock argues. “He needs me but he pushes me away. Not about work, he always listens to me about work, when it will benefit others, not when it will benefit himself. He doesn’t expect me to stay, after we...” Sherlock trails off. “And I can never find the words to ask.” Sherlock seems angry with himself. “After five years I really should be able to ask. Or he should have realised that I’m not going anywhere. He needs me.”
“He may need you more now than ever.” John says, soberly. “If he wakes up-“
“When.” Sherlock corrects him.
“When he wakes up,” John continues, “he’ll probably be in a wheelchair, and with that shoulder he won’t be able to push himself. If his brain is working well enough, the scans say it is but the blood loss... “ John has a strange flashback to Afghanistan. “There has to be some repercussions.”
“He’s going to be fine!” Sherlock says staccato, like a mantra which has been going through his head.
“Mrs. Hudson has been toying with the idea of installing a lift.” John casually mentions. “For when her hip is acting up.”
“No.” Sherlock cuts John off. “I already asked him once and he said no.” John’s mouth pauses, open. He realises this in time and manages to close it before Sherlock calls him a fish. John stumbles over what to say.
“But this is different.” John argues.
“If he thinks you’re inviting him to live with us, just so you can take care of him, he will say no.” Sherlock states. John thinks about that.
“Then he has to live with me if he doesn’t want to be investigating your murder. You really can be an infuriating flatmate.” John states. “And if he doesn’t want to live with us, he can always take the room with the damp. He’d be doing Mrs. Hudson a favour. And it’s not like we’ll actually let him sleep down there. We could dump all your experiments there, so he has to join us.”
“Mrs. Hudson won’t be able to get permission to put a lift in.” Sherlock dismisses, although his eyes look hopeful. John can tell he wants Lestrade to live with them.
“I’m sure your brother would help, if it helped us keep you under control.” John smiles. “Does he know? About you and Lestrade?”
“Probably.” Sherlock concedes. “I don’t try and hide it.” John can see the love in Sherlock’s eyes and wonders why he never saw it before. It isn’t hidden. You just need to know what to look for.
John yawns against his will.
“I might head home.” John stretches. “Talk to Mrs. Hudson. Or Mycroft.” John’s eyes widen. “Or Sarah, I don’t think she knows why I never turned up!” John texts her. “You should think about getting some rest yourself.”
“I’m not leaving him.” Sherlock repeats. “Nobody can take me away from him. Not for good.” The last part is said with equal parts determination and anger. John suspects it’s directed at Moriarty.
“You did the right thing, letting Moriarty get away.” John decides. “Live to fight another day, and all that.”
“Dying is too good for him.” Sherlock spits. “I am going to burn him. I will track him down. Take away all his pawns and all his little chess pieces until he has no protection, nothing and no one to hide behind. And then I am going to let the police lock him up. Solitary. No human contact. No one for him to manipulate. I will have Mycroft himself watch the security feed. I won’t talk to him, I won’t engage with him, I won’t even acknowledge his existence. His mind will rot with boredom for what he’s done.” Sherlock’s hand strokes Lestrade’s pale and clammy cheek. “I will destroy him!”
“He was right about one thing.” John says flippantly. “You do have a heart.” John leaves with that comment.
Sherlock shakes his head. It isn’t his. Lestrade needs to wake up so he can take what belongs to him.