“Sherlock, what the hell were you thinking?” He grabs the detective's scarf, which had trailed behind him as he ran up the stairs of their flat. Sherlock stops and turns to John, frowning.
“John, despite your obvious concerns, I am an adult, and a highly intelligent one at that. I do not need your babying. ” He spits out the last word, his disgust evident in his eyes.
“I’m not babying you, I’m protecting you from your own stupidity.” Sherlock’s eyes turn to ice. “For such a genius, you can be an absolute idiot sometimes.”
John pushes past him and enters the flat. Sherlock hesitates a moment, then follows. “John, I was in control of the situation. The suspect didn’t have a clear shot at me, and I knew you were on your way.”
“You had no clue where I was! I got your text when I was with a patient! You were lucky I forgot to turn my phone on silent this morning, or else you’d be floating down the Thames, dead.” Sherlock opens his mouth to protest. “No, don’t even say anything. There was absolutely no way you knew I would make it there in time. I think I value your life more than you do.” He shakes his head, disbelieving. “I’m going for a walk. Don’t bother deducing why, it obviously doesn’t matter to you.”
John walks out of the flat, down the stairs, out the door of 221 Baker Street, and into the streets of London. Sherlock watches from the window, an unspoken apology still on his lips.
Cold, fuming, and alone, John Watson lets his feet carry him across London. He doesn't care where he is going, so long as it is away . Away from Sherlock, away from 221B, away from all of his problems.
As he walks, his breathing gradually slows; the ragged panting abates to the steady breaths his time in the army had taught him. The steady rhythm of his feet against the wet pavement is soothing; it calms his mind enough to consider his anger. Why does he bother putting up with Sherlock? It isn't for the ease of living; if anything, dealing with Sherlock and his moodiness is the most difficult part of his life. It isn't for the violin playing late at night, or the body parts in the fridge, or the post-case boredom. And it definitely is not for the arguments that are inevitably induced by Sherlock’s eccentric behaviour.
In truth, it seems to John that the man wanted to fight with him, which wouldn’t even be surprising. Sherlock probably considers it a way to escape his inescapable boredom.
With a shake of his head, John brings himself back to awareness.
Looking around, he realizes he had walked farther than he had been expecting while lost in his thoughts. He had ended up in a dark, empty street, far from anywhere he recognizes. The sparse streetlights are flickering and dim, and provide little light and certainly little comfort.
As he stands, looking up and down the street in the hopes of seeing something familiar, he hears a cry in the alley behind him. John turns toward the sound, surprise evident in his face. It sounds like a cry of pain, closely followed by a low “ help” .
John sprints into the alley, where a figure is lying on the ground clutching his side. There is a large Bowie knife, covered in blood next to him. A mugging then, and a violent one too. Probable stab wound, must control the bleeding; John pulls off his jacket to use as a compress.
“I’m a doctor, I can help you,” John tells the man as he drops to his knees next to him. He looks for the stab wound, but none are visible. “Where are you hurt? What happened? Where did the mugger go?” As he reaches into his pocket to get his phone, John sees movement out of the corner of his eye. Shit. The mugger had never left. John spins around to face the attacker, only to see a very familiar face.
“Hello, Doctor Watson. Bit late for a walk, isn’t it?”. The voice is high, the syllables sung, and the words mocking. James Moriarty, consulting criminal and the man that still haunts his nightmares, stands in front of him. Smiling. As if the months of sleepless nights following the pool scene weren’t enough, John would surely have new nightmares after this encounter. If he survives it.
As these thoughts fly through John’s head, he hears shuffling behind him, quickly followed by the unmistakable press of a gun against his head. “Don’t move, or I will shoot you.”
Of course. The man's injury had been faked to draw John into the trap, knowing that a doctor would never ignore a person in pain. The man is tall, with medium-length blonde hair. His voice is gruff and left no room for argument. His stance shouts military, but his longer, untidy hair tells John that he is no longer serving. Military career ended early because of . . . what? No obvious injuries, so a dishonorable discharge seems most likely. Either way, he was not someone John would feel comfortable near while he held a gun, least of all to his head.
Moriarty had continued talking. “What has Sherlock done now? Doesn’t he care about you? He doesn’t just let his pet wander around London.” He claps his hands together, grinning. “Oh well, his loss! All the more fun for Sebastian and me!”
John doesn't like how that sounds. He recognizes the playful madness burning in Moriarty’s eyes from that night at the pool - that night that ended up with him strapped to a bomb, covered by snipers, and convinced it would be his last.
“What do you want, Moriarty? Sherlock doesn’t even know I’m here.” John can't keep the slight hurt out of his voice, a fact that Moriarty takes obvious glee in.
“Left his pet all alone in the cold? Sherlock’s slipping! I wonder how he would feel if he found out that his doctor got himself a bit injured? Do you think he would care, or would he just leave you once he realized that you’re useless to him? I think it’s worth an experiment.” His eyes flash, and he looks at the man holding the gun to John. “Moran, shoot Doctor Watson in the foot.”
Twisting, John punches Moran in the face, feeling the snap of the bone, simultaneously grabbing the muzzle of the pistol and pushing it away from him. Moran, taken by surprise, can do little more than keep his hold on the gun and swing his other arm clumsily at John in retaliation.
John’s luck doesn't hold out long before Moran’s army training kicks in, and before John can react, Moran hits his head with the barrel of the gun and forces him to his knees. Blinking reflex tears out of his eyes, John puts his hands in the air. The game was up; there was no way out of this.
Moriarty could sense his resignation. “You’ll have to try harder than that to stop Moran. All you did was make him angry.” He giggles, as if seeing Moran with blood covering his face was a normal occurrence. Hell, knowing Moriarty, it probably was. “Unfortunately for you, Doctor Watson, I did make Sherlock a promise, and I never break my promises.” The words from the night at the pool echo through John’s head: I will burn the heart out of you. Both he and Sherlock know very well what heart Moriarty had been referring to.
John keeps his face blank, a task made very difficult by the pain in his head and the pounding of his heart. “If you think hurting me will make Sherlock continue playing your game, then you’re wrong.”
Moriarty grins, shaking his head. “Of course he’s going to play my game! He doesn’t have any other options if he wants his favorite doctor to live.” John can't help the little gasp of surprise that escapes him. Moriarty’s smile grows even wider as he continues. “We both know that he’d do anything to keep you from harm. Too bad for him, he’s a bit late today!” Moriarty motions to Moran, and John feels the gun move away from his head. “Why don’t we make his scars symmetrical, Moran? Right shoulder it is.”
John senses the gun move to the right. He closes his eyes, trembling. Not the shoulder, it had been hell when he was shot in Afghanistan. He is not sure he could survive another crippling injury - physically, and mentally, especially an injury that is sure to bring back the terrible, vivid nightmares.
The bang of the gun brings John out of his thoughts and into the present. He feels the all too familiar feeling of the bullet ripping, tearing through him, breaking bone and destroying muscle. He cries out in agony and falls to the ground, shaking. His left hand is near the knife, and he squints through the pain, trying to ignore the fire in his shoulder, to reach for the blade.
“Oh, no you don’t!” Moriarty walks over to him and steps on his hand. John barely notices the pressure past the searing pain in his shoulder. “I’m sure you don’t want Sebastian to shoot you again, do you?” He crouches next to John, who can barely see through a haze of pain. “Lucky for you, I don’t want you dead - yet. I’m even going to tell Sherlock where to find you.”
He leans towards John and whispers in his ear, “Tell Sherlock I send him my love, and the game is on once again.” The words barely register in John’s mind, close to passing out from the combined blood loss and agony. His eyes close, and the sound of retreating footsteps and faint sirens are the last things he hears before the blackness surrounding his mind closes and he and loses consciousness.