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The Confrontations Of The Keymaster

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The consulting detective was back in the game.


After the fall, years on the run, and an unwelcoming back Sherlock Holmes was finally able to resume the one thing he most treasured: the work. His reputation had been drug through the trash and soiled, but now it was back and gleaming new. Everyone was happy to push the whole incident out of their minds and let the world continue on its orbit. And, while the detective was unable to forget, he readily accepted their cases.


The most recent case was simple. Jealous lover’s rage. Sherlock and John were in the cab on the way to Scotland Yard to hand over the evidence and point to the killer. Both men gazing out the window without looking; their thoughts lost on the case.


“Here’s your stop boys.” The cab driver broke the concentration drawing them back to the present.


Sherlock climbed out and strode off towards the door leaving John to pay and catch up. John had just reached his side when they caught sight of Lestrade talking to Donovan outside his office.


“Lestrade!”  Sherlock’s voice echoes across the room drawing every eye towards him.


The inspector turned his eyes away from Sally Donovan. “What are doing here? Did you solve the case already? I just gave it to you four hours ago!”


“It was simple Lestrade. Honesty, do any of you people think?” Sherlock ignored John’s stern gaze as he continued, “The husband was clearly jealous! Did you even pay attention to the crime scene at all?” Sherlock glanced out of the corner of his eye, pausing in his deductions. Then tensed.


John’s mind raced as he played out what was about to happen. Relaying solely on instinct John jumped.


As his kick landed squarely on the approaching figure’s chest, John used the momentum to push off the man. Turning in midair John tackled Sherlock.


John immediately rolled of Sherlock and into a fighting stance. The detected mirrored the move. Both men faced each other in a stand-off.


John was calm. Years in the army taught him to hold his own in a fight. His muscles relaxed into the familiar stance.


Sherlock was wild. His eyes were those of a captive animal, locked onto John as if he were the keymaster. His body was ridged; a steal rod ready to snap. One wrong move would set him off.  And John was in his sights.


John took a long breath.  A fight would be a fight to the death. John knew he could never hurt Sherlock.  Sherlock, however, was running on animal instinct. There would be no logic in this battle, only survival. John let out the breath.


Very slowly John began to move. Sherlock’s eyes tracked every motion.  John straightened his back and dropped his shoulders. He let his hands lay loosely at his sides. “Sherlock” he spoke softy, “I need you to look at me.”


Sherlock straighten up and gazed back at John. Uncertain.


Very slowly John raised his hand until it was straight out in front of him. “I am going to come closer.” He took a step.


Sherlock flinched back and John froze. He wasn’t sure if his plan was going to work. He wasn’t sure if he would be going home tonight. He just knew he had to try. He took another step.


He was now just inched away from Sherlock. Staring straight into the fear-filled eyes. “I am going to touch you.” He was still speaking quietly. Afraid that if he raised his voice Sherlock would snap.


John took the last step.


The instant his palm touched Sherlock’s chest a milky white hand snapped up and gripped his throat. John didn’t move. He gazed right back into those eyes, his hand pressed firmly against Sherlock’s chest. John felt his head becoming light with the lack of oxygen, but still remained stoic.


Drawing a shaky breath John whispered, “Take my pulse.” Confusion swept across Sherlock’s face as he tried to process the words.


The hand on John’s throat shifted, this time with only two fingers prodding the tender skin. “No, Sherlock.” John carefully pulled the hand from his throat. “My hand right here on your chest. Take my pulse.”


Sherlock stepped back jerking his arm from John’s grasp. “What are you trying to do to me? What do you want? I don’t have anything!”


“Sherlock, I need you to calm down.  It’s me. It’s John.” John slowly reached up and put his hand back on Sherlock’s chest. “Can you feel that? Do you feel my pulse? You need to concentrate.”


Sherlock stopped moving.  He cocked his head to the side and a rare look of incomprehension passed over his face. Then, as if a light flickered on in his mind, he understood. Sherlock reached up and placed a hand to John’s chest, taking his pulse. “John, that’s amazing.” he sounded shocked. The detective’s eyes were bright again as he looked John over. Catching sight of John’s throat he frowned. “But highly dangerous. I could have killed you!” he stared him down, “I would have killed you.”


“I trust you, Sherlock.”


“You shouldn’t.” Sherlock tore his gaze from John and instead fixed it upon the floor.


“Umm, does anyone care to explain what just happen?”


John and Sherlock’s eyes shot to Lestrade and then to the man on the floor rubbing his chest. John realized his hand was still pressed to Sherlock and took a step back letting his hand fall to his side.


“It’s fairly simple.” Retorted Sherlock letting logic take over and cover his emotions, “When Anderson so foolishly tried to sneak up and scare me he triggered my… my… umm,” Sherlock faltered unsure how much he should tell them. He didn’t want their pity. He didn’t want their sympathy or for them to treat him like a child.


“They deserve to know, Sherlock,” John encouraged.


Sherlock sighed and continued, “He triggered my PTSD. My first response was to fight back. John noticed because he is less of an idiot, unlike the rest of you, and prevented me from attacking Anderson by kicking him out of the way and tackling me to the ground.  This successfully diverted my attention from Anderson to John. This all is quite simple were any of you even paying attention?”


“Sherlock,” Warned John.


“Fine. It was the last part that was the most interesting.” He turned to face John, “How did you know that would work?”


“I didn’t. I just really hoped it would.”


“Hoped what would work?” Lestrade was getting annoyed that no one would answer his questions.


“Taking his pulse.” Lestrade was fixed with Sherlock’s famous ‘duh’ expression.  And in return Sherlock was fixed with John’s ‘knock it off’ expression.


“I told him to take my pulse.” John continued for him, “I put my hand on his chest and told him to take my pulse from my hand. All his focus would be on that point of his body. Right above his heart.  It was a trick I figured out in the army. I would tell them to take my pulse but they would only be able to feel their own. Once the body recognized its racing pulse it automatically began to calm down.  I took Sherlock out of the dangerous situation when I stood up. I wasn’t threatening any more. Once he took his pulse he would calm down. But…” John stopped. He wasn’t quite sure what had happened.


“I did take your pulse. And my own.  My pulse was elevated, racing. Yours was not. You are always calm in high stake situations. A useful trait. As my pulse lowered, yours raised. They simply just met in the middle. “


“Sherlock you synchronized out heart beats.”


“You had just as much to do with it as I did. If it’s any consolation it will regain its regular rhythm within a few minutes.” Sherlock replied indignantly.


I didn’t mean it in a bad way Sherlock.” John chuckled at his pout. “I just found it fascinating.”


“Did that not happen with your other patients?” Donovan butted in.


“No. Never did.”


“That’s because I’m a genius.”


“Yeah, real genius.” Came a sarcastic reply from the floor.


  John turned to look at Anderson.  “What the hell did you think you were doing? Did you think it would be funny?” Everyone stared at John. In all the years they knew him never once had he raised his voice.  They had only known him as the gentle doctor. The kind-hearted man. Now they were seeing the roughened soldier. The man who had been through more than imaginable. The other side of the coin. The other face.


“Do you know what it is like to have PTSD? To have been through something so traumatic that it haunts you day and night? To wake up screaming because you thought you were back there? Or to be so afraid of closing your eyes because if you fall asleep they might catch up to you and kill you. We spent so long looking over our shoulders for the next hit to come we can’t stop. You think this is a joke? Something to make fun of?”


Sherlock grabbed John’s hand trying to calm him. “Come on John. Let’s go home.”


John looked up at him and let his anger dissipate. Sherlock looked worried. John supposed it was reasonable. He never really yelled.  John nodded at Sherlock. He led them out of Scotland Yard and into a cab. The trip home was filled with heavy silence until John couldn’t take it any longer.


“I’m sorry Sherlock. I shouldn’t have yelled like that. He just made me so angry. Treating this like a joke.” John buried his head in his hands.


“I’m the one who almost killed someone today.”


“That’s true.  God, Sherlock what are we doing?”


“Trying to make it through the day without killing ourselves or anyone else.”


“That’s a full time job.”


“Yes,” Sherlock replied, “But one I am not looking forward to quitting.”


“Me neither.”


“Good because you aren’t allowed to quit. I need my blogger”


“That’s true. But without you I wouldn’t have anything to blog about.”


“Come on John, we’re home. How does a little violin sound?”


“Sounds perfect to me.”


Soft notes rained down from 221b and the music weaved through the air entangling all its listeners in a web of comfort.