Sherlock watches John from across the graveyard. John is speaking, and Sherlock can hear the timbre of his voice on the wind even if he can’t make out the exact words. He doesn’t need to; John’s body tells him everything. His spine is army straight, his chin held up, but he is restless--shuffling feet, slight hitch of the left shoulder, small twists of the abdomen.
Suddenly, John stops. For the first time since arriving, he stands stock still. His head bows; his shoulders and back fall forward: Sherlock watches him break.
After a few seconds, John seems to remember that he is military and male and English, so he straightens up and strides away, walking briskly back to the taxi. He looks shrunken, smaller, the space around him gaping wide open.
Every cell in Sherlock’s body lies to him, tells him that this thing he must do--can wait. He knows, of course, that it can’t. But, the want of it makes his shinbones itch from underneath his skin, sets the beds of his fingernails on edge. And this, he notes, is precisely why his body cannot be trusted. The only way to fix John Watson is to finish this.
He lights a cigarette as he turns to leave.
It takes Sherlock two weeks to track Moriarty’s network to a crumbling flat outside the city. From there, he follows the trail to Paris and then to Rome. Next is Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg. He is growing weary of lumpy hotel pillows and too many hours on uncomfortable train seats. Time bleeds into a year gone, then more. He begins speaking aloud into the empty air when he needs perspective, seeking opinions and advice. The answers that come sound far too much like his own voice, unhelpful. Every victory belongs only to himself, and this disturbs him more than he ever would have imagined.
It is hot in Manhattan, and Sherlock hasn’t slept in nearly forty hours. The midday sun stings his eyes, but he doesn’t care. He’s found his man--the last one, the final strand of silk in Moriarty’s web of killers. Sherlock narrows his eyes and watches from across the street as he walks into the corner grocery.
Sherlock crosses the road quickly, steps into the shop like a shadow. Inside, the air conditioning instantly cools the beads of sweat on his forehead and around his collar. He takes a steadying breath and watches from his periphery.
The man turns up the aisle with the fizzy drinks, and Sherlock takes inventory: only one other shopper down the way; he’ll have to either wait or work around her. He doesn’t want to wait; he has waited nearly two years. No, he’ll have to work around--but how?
She is wearing designer sandals and a thirty dollar skirt.
He sees a row of fruity drinks, and he begins to make a show of choosing from the options available to him on the opposite shelf. He turns quickly, catching his elbow on the drinks, sending several to the ground.
“Oh, no,” he says. “Oh, dear,” and he is fumbling, righting the toppled bottles with clumsy fingers.
His heel catches one of them, and he steps down hard. Purple fizz spreads over the lino, and he is already tripping on yet another rolling bottle. The woman backs out of the row with barely a glance in his direction, anything to keep her shoes away from the mess.
Now it is just him and his man, who has noticed the scuffle but hasn’t paid close enough attention; he has turned back to his shopping.
Sherlock is on him in an instant, but just as he gets close enough, the man turns round and swings, his large fist missing Sherlock’s jaw by millimeters. Sherlock ducks and gets him in the back of the knee with his left foot. The man takes Sherlock down with him, and Sherlock grabs one of the drinks on the way, shaking it all the time. The second Sherlock meets ground, he aims and presses the tab down, sending spray directly into the man’s eyes. While the man is blinded, Sherlock manages a swift kick to the groin, retrieves the hypodermic from his pocket and plunges the needle into the man’s neck. The man falls to the sticky floor almost instantly.
Sherlock does the rest quickly. He heaves the man over to his stomach, handcuffs his wrists behind his back, ties his feet at the ankles, and pins a file to the collar of his shirt with evidence of his crimes along with the number for the police, FBI, and Interpol.
On his way out, he calmly informs the man at the till of the mess on aisle four.
==End Part One==