You don't know what to say. And that's something that usually doesn't happen.
You'd gone to the pool to meet that "Moriarty" fellow. You'd brought out the memory stick like you'd planned. You'd waited, not scared, just a little curious.
And then John came out.
John- John Watson. And you're shocked. Shocked beyond belief. Because John- John Watson, John Watson you trusted, John Watson who saved your life, John Watson who was the only person you've ever cared about and probably the only person you ever will, is standing in front of you, his voice that still makes your throat hurt and your chest ache saying that awful, awful word.
And you can't believe it because John isn't a murderer; John is your friend, your only friend, and you'd hoped, maybe something more. John doesn't tie people up with explosives, John goes to the store to buy milk and has rows with pin machines and makes you tea when you don't want to move and complains about your snoring and laughs at your jokes even if they aren't funny and cares about everyone when you don't and by God you love him.
And if it had been anyone but John, you wouldn't've been surprised, instead, the gears in your mind would be running at full power, trying to figure out when and how and why. But it's John.
He tricked you. He betrayed you. He was never the man you thought he was. You know you told him there weren't any heroes in this world but you didn't follow your own advice because he was your hero and for just a little while you were his. Or at least that's what you thought.
And now you know what you said was right because there aren't any real heroes in this world, there's only lies and people you thought you knew but really didn't.
And you still can't fully believe it but then John opens his mouth again. "This is a turn-up, isn't it, Sherlock?"
And this man who is and isn't John says your name the same way the John Watson you know does, and for some reason that hurts you even more than his betrayal.
"John." And it's not a name, it's a plea. John. No. Please. There has to be a mistake. John! But he doesn't say anything else and you only have the strength to whisper, "What the hell..."
"Bet you never saw this coming."
Somehow, you manage to move closer to the man that wears John's face like a mask. You can't hide the despair in your eyes anymore. Tell me this isn't happening,pleaselet this be a dream!
But then John takes his hands out of his pockets and opens the jacket. There's a bomb strapped to his chest. A sniper's laser immediately appears there.
And now all the pieces fall into place because John would never try to hurt you, and all the shock and despair building up inside you all suddenly turns into rage, pure white flaming rage at whoever did this to him. Right then, you swear: as soon as you find Moriarty, you're going to kill him.
Which is actually quite soon.
Moriarty forces John to speak for him for another few tormenting seconds, and then a sharply dressed man with a suit and an Irish accent steps out of the shadows.
It's Jim. Jim from the hospital.
He says a few words, then strolls to where you're standing. You raise your gun.
It doesn't take long to figure out everything; he's practically dying to tell you. Consulting criminal- of course. You talk for a while, and all that time, the laser hovers lazily over John's heart.
You give Moriarty the memory stick, anything to keep John safe. He throws it into the pool.
But then John is racing forward and tackling Moriarty. "Sherlock, run!" he cries.
John is risking his life to save yours and you can't do anything but stand there stupidly, the pistol still raised. You swore to yourself you'd kill Moriarty, and that's what you're going to do.
Jim laughs with delight. "Good! Very good!"
You can shoot him now. It'd be easy. But there's still a sniper out there, and John might get hurt.
As if sensing your thoughts, John says fiercely, "If your sniper pulls that trigger, Mr. Moriarty, then we both go up."
No. Oh god, please no.
Moriarty turns to you calmly. "Isn't he sweet? I can see why you like having him around. But then people do getso sentimental about their pets."
Your blood is boiling again. John grimaces and tightens his grip.
Jim continues, "They're so touchingly loyal. But, oops!" He grins at John. "You've rather shown your hand there, Dr. Watson."
And a second laser appears on your forehead.
Jim chuckles. "Gotcha!"
John stares at you, aghast, then releases Moriarty and puts his hands up. You'd look around for some method of escape, but as soon as you move, the trigger will be pulled.
"D'you know what happens if you don't leave me alone, Sherlock, to you?" It's Moriarty again.
That's not too hard to figure out. You've thought about death of course, but only before John, when you didn't really care. But now you do. You try to sound bored, but your hands are shaking. "Oh, let me guess, I get killed."
"Kill you?" Moriarty grimaces. "N-no, don't be obvious. I mean, I'm gonna kill you anyway some day. I don't wanna rush it, though. I'm saving it up for something special. No-no-no-no-no. If you don't stop prying, I'll burn you."
What's that supposed to mean?
He continues in a snarl. "I'll burn the heartout of you."
You try to pretend you don't understand, but you do.
"I have been reliably informed that I don't have one."
"But we both know that's not quitetrue."
You blink involuntarily.
Moriarty shrugs. "Well, I'd better be off." He looks around nonchalantly. "Well, so nice to have had a proper chat."
The pistol is still in your hands. You raise it. "What if I was to shoot you, right now?"
"Then you could cherish the look of surprise on my face." He feigns a shocked look."'Cause I'd be surprised, Sherlock; really I would. And just a teensy bit disappointed. And of course you wouldn't be able to cherish it for very long." He turns away slowly. "Ciao, Sherlock Holmes."
"Catch you... later."
"No you won't!" he replies, sing-song.
And just like that, he's gone.
You stand there for a while, the sound of the door closing still echoing in your ears. You're safe. More importantly, John's safe.
As soon as the thought hits you, you drop the pistol and fall on your knees in front of John. You grab the vest and start undoing it with a vehement force- you're never letting John in danger again, and these awful explosives are the first things you need to get rid of.
"All right?" you ask.
John leans back, his breath ragged. He doesn't answer you.
You ask again, more urgent. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah- yeah, I'm fine."
Relief washes through you, but the danger hasn't passed yet.
You tug harder at the jacket. "I'm fine." John says again.
He's saying your name, but you keep pulling. It doesn't take you long to roughly strip the layers off. Your fingers itch to keep going, to take off more, but you decide against it.
You fling the vest and jacket to the ground and push them so they skid along the floor, away from the two of you. Not far enough to satisfy you, but still some distance.
John whispers, "Jesus", still staggering from the force which you used to get the bomb off of him, and begins taking the earpiece out of his ear.
You look at him for a moment, then grab the pistol and run out. If Moriarty's still there, you willshoot him. But of course there's no sight of him. You run back in and start pacing back and forth in front of John, who is now squatting on the floor.
He looks up at you. "Are you alright?" he asks, eyes concerned.
"Am Ialright, John? I wasn't the one with enough explosives to blow up an entire building strapped to my body!"
John looks startled, and you suddenly realize how loud you had spoken. "Sorry," he says, "it's just... you're crying."
What? You bring your hand up to your cheek, and sure enough, it's wet. But how? You're confused. Flabbergasted, even. Because you're Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes never cries, because crying means feelings and Sherlock Holmes doesn't feel. Feelings are strange- unpredictable- they don't follow a specific pattern- they don't fit into the facts. Feelings distract people from what's important.
So why do the feelings you have about John right now seem like the most important thing in the world?
But you can't tell him that, so you just reply offhandedly, "Me? Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine. Fine." You wipe the last offending droplets off your face.
But you have to say more. You turn to John, eyes wide, breath short. What to say, what to say…
"That, er ... thing that you, er, that you did; that, um ..." you clear your throat- "... you offered to do. That was, um ... good."
As soon as the words come out, you want to slap yourself. Good? GOOD, Sherlock? What he did wasmuchbetter than good.
But John is smiling at you as he gets up, and if he's smiling, what you said couldn't have been all that bad then, could it?
"I'm glad no one saw that," he says suddenly.
Saw what? "Hmm?"
"You. Ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool. People might talk."
Your fingers start itching again. You shrug. "People do little else."
You grin, and John grins back, and soon both of you are snorting with laughter. And you don't usually laugh this hard but this feels good, and there's so many feelings running through your head right now, all of them good, and probably clouding your brain with dopamine too.
That's probably why what happens next happens.
One moment you and John are laughing together, the next, you're grabbing his collar and pulling him close and kissing him like your life depends on it. And it's all very new and strange because you've never kissed anyone before, you've only seen it a few times on the telly, and you're definitely not prepared for how nice it feels. Your mind is screaming at you (What the hell are you doing? John has agirlfriend! He was just out to see hertonight!), but you're mostly managing to ignore it.
And then John is wrapping his arms around your neck and kissing you back just as hard and it feels like the Earth is whirling around and around the two of you (and the sun, not that you need to know that) and it's terrifying and exhilarating at the same time and you don't want it to stop.
But then time slows back down and you and John are gasping for breath, foreheads still pressed together, your thumb tracing circles around his cheek.
You don't know what to say, but you try for a joke. "I'm glad no one saw that either," you gasp out.
The two of you laugh again and you lean forward to give him another kiss, but a red laser on John's chest stops you.
A familiar voice calls from behind you. "Actually, someone did see that."
No. No. It can't be.
Moriarty walks closer and says in a pseudo-cheery voice, "Yup, it's me again! Sorry boys! I'm soooo changeable!"
You look at John in horror. Two lasers are now dancing over his body, and you are sure that at least two are dancing over yours as well. Much more than just two snipers then.
You turn to Moriarty, who is looking at you with an expression of mock sympathy. "Aww… aren't you two sweet? Aren't you two just adorable? But sadly, you can't be allowed to continue. You just can't. I would try to convince you, but everything I have to say has already crossed your mind!"
You still refuse to believe this is happening, but your eyes and ears tell you otherwise. John gives your hand a reassuring squeeze, and you look down at it in surprise. You hadn't realized you were still holding his hand.
What do I do?You send John a silent question with your eyes, and he gives you a tiny nod and smile in return. Do whatever you have to.His eyes are trusting and encouraging and you hate yourself because there's no way out this time; you can't save him.
"Probably my answer has crossed yours," you say to Jim slowly. You raise the gun and point it at him. He smiles fearlessly. That is, until you move your hand down. The pistol is pointing at John's jacket. If we go, you go with us.
You lock eyes with Jim. I'm going to do it… I'm going to do it... But you can't.
And then, suddenly, a song begins to play. You and John look around in confusion before you realize: it's Moriarty's phone. Definitely not the ringtone you'd imagine for him.
Moriarty closes his eyes and lets out an exasperated sigh. "D'you mind if I get that?"
"No, no, please. You've got the rest of your life."
Jim takes his phone out of his pocket and begins speaking to the caller. You and John look at each other. Is the whole blow-everyone-up thing still on? you wonder. Moriarty's still talking, and if you are going to die soon, you have to tell John something. I love you, you mouth, looking intently into his eyes. He probably already knows, but you still need it to be said. John looks surprised for a second, then mouths: I love you too, back. You nod at him tensely, not knowing what you should do next.
Moriarty's lowered his phone now and he's addressing you. You jump a bit as he says, "Sorry. Wrong day to die."
Your shoulders slump with relief, but you keep your voice steady. "Oh. Did you get a better offer?"
He looks down at the phone, then begins to walk away. "You'll be hearing from me, Sherlock." He picks his phone back up and continues his conversation.
And he's gone. This time for good, you hope. But just in case, you keep your grip on the gun.
John's voice jolts you back into reality. "What happened there?"
"Someone changed his mind. The question is, who?"
"Well then, we're probably going to find out soon."
You offer John your hand once you are both outside (and the pistol is stowed safely in your pocket). He takes it, then shivers involuntarily. You're surprised. "Scared?"
"No- no," he laughs. "It's cold here. There's a reason I was wearing a jacket tonight."
You look back at the building, where his bomb-decked coat is still lying on the ground. Then you wrap your arms around John and hold him tightly against you. "Better?"
"Yeah- yeah. Loads."
You drop a quick peck on the top of his head, then release him. You still keep a hold on his hand though. "Let's get you home."
You're still holding his hand when you step through the doorway of 221B Baker Street together.