A/N: So, here I am again. This time I am afraid I must confess I went AU. I didn't like the end of The Reichenbach Fall (who did?) so for the time being I fixed it. Spoilers for finale. I know the dialog on the phone call is not exact from the show—and for a reason, honestly, knowing Moriarty was gone, why didn't he tell John?

How They Fall

Moriarty lay dead at his feet, the blood running across the roof. Panic was slamming through Sherlock's body. There was no way to stop the assassins, no way to save Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and… He swallowed. There had been a plan for everything—except this. He looked up at the sky, damning the man at his feet, desperately seeking answers. . This hadn't been part of the equation. He'd never expected Moriarty to be willing to take it that far to destroy Sherlock. He should have seen it coming, but he didn't and now… Maybe there was time, maybe he could text from Moriarty's phone and call the assassins off. He picked it up and walked to the edge of the roof and peeked over. He could make out someone in the building across the street with a high powered rifle. Who was he waiting for? Sherlock was about to send the text when a cab pulled up and everything changed. John was getting out of the vehicle.

How could he save…


He couldn't save himself, it was that simple, there might be time to get to the shooters on Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, but John was right there, and Sherlock could see the gun aimed at him. No, John wasn't going to die here, not if he could prevent it, even if it meant…

No one lives forever.

Sherlock pulled out his phone and hit speed dial, saw John stop and pull his phone out. "John?"

"Sherlock! Mrs. Hudson was alright…"

"John, listen to me," Sherlock broke in.

"What's going on?" John asked, and Sherlock could hear the fear in his friend's voice—it was a reaction to the fear in his own.

"Look up."

John's head lifted. "Oh, god, no. Sherlock…"

"I have to."

"No, no you don't, we can fix this."

"You don't understand, we don't have time to fix this. Moriarty made arrangements to have Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and… And you killed."

"Make him stop."

"He's dead, John."

Sherlock saw his friend's shoulders drop for a moment before he straightened again. "No, not like this."

"I'm so sorry, John, for everything, and there's a lot."


"I… John…" Sherlock couldn't finish, his throat was tight and tear were pouring down his face. "John…"


"He's behind you, if I don't, John, he'll kill you and I… I can't, John. Not you."

"No!" John shouted into the phone.



Sherlock heard the scream through the phone as it dropped from his hand and in his ears as he fell from the roof, there was the sound of gunshots and for a second, as the world raced past, he thought he saw John fall.

Moriarty had lied to him then. John was dead no matter what Sherlock did or didn't do. I am so sorry, John. It was his last thought as he crashed into the solid ground.


John willed the cab to go faster. He should never have left Sherlock at Bart's, he should never have trusted his causal attitude about Mrs. Hudson, he should have verified what was happening before he left, because now it was painfully obvious he was just being removed—pushed out of the way. But for what and why? It could be Moriarty, it could be Sherlock—either man would want him gone, because they both knew Moriarty would have to go through John to get to Sherlock. It was that simple. Sometimes his friend astounded him with his lack of understanding of some things—and one thing Sherlock misunderstood or underestimated was John. He had no idea why, he had been loyal from the first moment he'd met the man at Bart's lab months ago. John would never be able to explain it, but from that meeting he knew he would always stand between Sherlock and the world. Between Sherlock and death—he'd made that choice within the first days they'd known each other.

The cab pulled up and he got out. His phone rang, pulling it out he looked at the caller ID. Sherlock.

"John?" Sherlock said, his voice echoing oddly.

"Sherlock! Mrs. Hudson was alright…"

"John, listen to me," Sherlock broke in.

"What's going on?" John asked, suddenly realizing he could hear emotion that sounded a lot like fear in Sherlock's voice.

"Look up."

John did as he was told, his eyes scanning the sky—then coming to rest on the figure standing on the roof of Bart's. His heart started hammering in terror. "Oh, god, no. Sherlock…"

"I have to."

"No, no you don't, we can fix this," John pleaded

"You don't understand, we don't have time to fix this. Moriarty made arrangements to have Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade and... And you killed."

"Make him stop."

"He's dead, John," Sherlock's voice was flat as he said it, full of utter defeat.

No. John fought the despair. He wasn't going to lose Sherlock, no, he couldn't. Didn't he know that all that kept John going some days was… He took a deep breath and straightened. "No, not like this."

"I'm so sorry, John, for everything, and there's a lot."


"I… John…" There was a sob. "John…"

"No." John was nearly blinded by tears.

"He's behind you, if I don't, John, he'll kill you and I… I can't, John. Not you."

"No!" John shouted into the phone.


And to John's horror Sherlock fell, dropping off the roof like a ragdoll. "NO! SHERLOCK!" he screamed into his phone. In a fluid motion, he pulled his gun out of its hidden carry and fired into the window, three shots and the sniper was down. He turned to race towards his friend but was hit by a bicycle as he made his way across the street. "Shit." He got up and ran to where the crowd was gathered. "Get back, let me in, I'm a doctor, let me in!" John started shoving people out of his way. "Stay back!" he growled as someone bent towards the crumpled form.

John fell to his knees beside Sherlock, for a moment unable to act, then years of combat training came back. Stabilize, remove from the fire fight, then evaluate injury. He was terrified to check for a pulse.

"John?" Molly asked from beside him, he looked up, her face was streaked by tears and he made a decision he hoped wouldn't be a mistake—to trust her no matter what.

"He's dead. Have them bring the gurney."

It was there an instant later. John took a deep breath and gathered his friend into his arms, hoping if he was still alive his back wasn't broken, hoping this wouldn't injure him more. John laid him on the gurney and pulled the sheet over his face, then pushed it towards the morgue, the crowd dispersing as they moved away.

"You're hurt," Molly said, gulping in a breath.

"It's nothing, I fell." John said, wiping the blood out of his eyes. He pushed the gurney into the silent morgue, closed and locked the door. Only then did he pull the sheet back and reach a shaking hand for Sherlock's wrist. He held his breath and stilled the tremor in his hand. For a long moment there was nothing, then, faint, tiny, thready, the pulse of life. John waited, it was there again. Sherlock's chest rose in a shallow breath.

"He's not dead!" Molly said.

John grabbed her. "Listen," he said, surprised at the ferocity in his voice. "He is dead. Do you understand? He has to be dead."


"Molly, I am trusting you, he is trusting you. He is dead. Sherlock Holmes is dead. Say it."

"Sherlock Holmes is dead," her voice trembled.


"Sherlock Holmes is dead." That time her voice sounded sure.

"If Lestrade calls, if anyone calls, he is dead."

She nodded, her eyes finally registering understanding.

John pulled the sheet all the way off and discarded it on the floor, his hands running over Sherlock's limbs. His right ankle was broken, his right arm was dislocated. Five ribs were broken. Finally, he turned to the horrific, bloody mess of Sherlock's head, his knowledgeable hands carefully brushing across the skull, feeling for a fracture or any movement of the bone. John nearly broke down when he finished, there was a massive lump forming, there was a tear in the scalp that needed stitching, but his skull was in one piece.

"I need to stitch this, Molly, can you get me what I need?" he asked. She nodded and disappeared. He walked to the sink and washed his hands, the grabbed a pair of scissors and headed back to Sherlock. Knowing his friend was going to hate him when he woke up, John cut the hair away from the long tear in his scalp. Sherlock had come close to peeling it all the way off. Luckily, John had seen far worse in combat, and now that he was dealing with it as that man—the surgeon who served under fire—he could handle this. Molly returned with a tray, John sterilized the area as best as he could, rinsing the hair out of the wound, then had her hold the two sides together as he stitched it closed. It took one hundred and twenty-seven stitches to finish the job. When he was done, he dropped the needle on the tray and noticed the vial of morphine Molly had also acquired. He was torn for a moment—narcotics and head wounds weren't a good idea, but they are going to have to move him, and it would be better if Sherlock was unconscious for that. He measured a dose and slid the needle into Sherlock's vein, then checked his pupils. So far so good.

Walking over to the sink, he washed his hands again, then pulled out his phone.

"John," Mycroft answered, his voice cold.

"You heard?"

"That my brother is dead, yes. I am surprised I had to hear from Lestrade and not you, I thought you would at least afford me that consideration."

John ground his teeth together, and focused on keeping his temper under control. If it hadn't been for this man… He swallowed. "I need your help."

"Why should I give it to you?"

"More to the point, Sherlock needs your help."

"What?" The shock in Mycroft's voice came close to making John smile.

"I need to get him out of the city, I need medical supplies to care for him. I will set his leg before we leave Bart's but he's going to need pain meds, IV fluids…"

"He… Sherlock… He's alive?"

John took pity on the man. "Yes, but from what he told me, I understand he needs to be dead."

"Done. I will be there with transport in fifteen minutes."


"Yes, the fewer people who know a secret, the better."

Mycroft was true to his word, and the BMW SUV showed up at Bart's within fifteen minutes and they loaded Sherlock carefully in under the cover of two ambulances. Mycroft handed John the address where Sherlock would be and then pulled out. John waited for several minutes, gave Molly a hug, then walked out the main doors, head down. A group of reporters had gathered and he had to fight his way through to get to the curb to hail a cab. They had gone several blocks when he changed cabs, and after several miles, he changed again, when he got out of the fourth cab he wasn't surprised to see the sleek black Jaguar waiting for him. He climbed in the back without question and they were on their way.

That was three days ago.

The fever had set in the first night. John was dozing in the chair by Sherlock's bed when the man started muttering. One touch on his forehead let John know why. He immediately got cool clothes and rubbing alcohol, hoping he could drive the fever down. Sherlock never woke, just tossed and turned, muttering incoherently, every once in a while shouting John's name.

The second day was worse, the fever gave way to near silence, immobility and just the smallest movements of Sherlock's head on the pillow. John was beginning to worry about brain damage and many other things. In fact he was starting to panic. He refused to leave the room and the one time Mycroft had dared to wander in to check on things, he had backed out as quickly as if he's been faced with a rabid hyena.

Now they were well into day three and John was losing hope. Maybe Sherlock had really died on that street, and his body just hadn't caught up yet. Every now and then he would mutter something John couldn't hear. He got up and paced back and forth, wondering what he should so. They couldn't take him to a hospital, he couldn't be recognized. They… He turned, Sherlock was muttering again. He walked over to the bed, and bent close enough to hear what his friend was saying.

"John, no."

John straightened and looked at him. Sherlock muttered again, the same words. Hoping against hope, John sat on the edge of the bed and put his hand on Sherlock's. "Sherlock, can you hear me?"

"John, no."

"Sherlock!" he snapped, picking up his friend's hand and holding it tight enough that it should be causing a little pain. "Sherlock!"

For a moment nothing happened, then Sherlock's hand slowly closed on his. "John?"


"John…" And with a deep sigh, Sherlock's breathing changed, everything changed. He was sleeping. John recognized it, the sleep that heals, the sleep that meant he would live. Just in case anything happened, he stayed, Sherlock's hand in his, while Sherlock slept, carefully moving to the chair, but straying no further.


Pain surrounded him as flames licked at his body. He had fallen from the roof of Bart's into hell. Part of him laughed at that, wait till he told Mycroft—when his brother arrived here—that he'd been wrong about the whole idea of hell thing. Mycroft had always maintained hell was a crowd of overly-friendly former University classmates. Wait until he discovered this place. Empty, aching, hot.

All Sherlock knew was the pain and the fact he had failed the one person he vowed he would never fail again. After the moment in Dartmoor when he has snapped out he had "no friends" and wounded John so deeply, he had promised himself he would never let anything like that happen again. Putting himself between John and death wasn't even a question, it was something he just accepted, he knew, from that first meeting. He wasn't sure why, he didn't even like people and yet when the crippled ex-Army doctor had hobbled into the lab at Bart's he had known John Watson was going to be part of his life. That fact had been underlined when his life had been saved by the quiet man without any fanfare or demands of gratitude. That moment had cemented a relationship he never thought he would have, never knew he was capable of having, but suddenly there was John, and there was someone who was willing to share his space and his life.

It was still baffling how John put up with him when no one else in his entire life had been able to stand him for more than a day. Months went by and still John was there. More than that, John trusted him—he'd seen that in his face as John stood before him in the explosive-laden vest. And Sherlock realized he trusted John, knew he would always be there, no need to ask, when needed. John's loyalty was complete and Sherlock realized his own was as well. They were friends, brothers—more than that, something deeper, something he couldn't explain.

And now John was gone. "John, no," he said. He heard the plaintive tone in his voice.

"Sherlock, can you hear me?" It sounded like John. Hell was even worse than he thought.

"John, no."

"Sherlock!" John's voice, hard, authoritarian, the one he used when pulling rank. Sherlock felt pain in his hand. "Sherlock!"

Unable to believe but wanting it more than anything he'd ever wanted in his life, he closed his hand over the one holding his. "John?"

"Here," John answered, gentle worried concern overflowing in the one word.

"John…" Sherlock wanted to say more, but somehow knowing John was there, he was alive, he… Sherlock didn't even finish the thought before he was asleep.

There was light on his eyelids when sleep started to fall away. Sherlock hurt. His arm, his leg, his ribs and he had the headache to end all headaches. A small groan escaped his lips and he felt his arm swabbed gently and then the prink of a needle followed by warmth coursing up his arm and dispersing through his body, pushing the pain back far enough for him to swim all the way to the surface. He opened his eyes. John had his back to him, putting something on the dresser across the room. "John?" he said, his voice raspy with disuse.

He might as well have shouted. John turned around like he'd been shot. Sherlock saw him swallow hard, blink four or five times and then move towards the bed. "How do you feel?" he asked, sounding official. Sherlock frowned, that didn't sound like John at all, really. "Are you…" the doctor cleared his throat. "Are you in pain?"

Sherlock shook his head, regretting the movement. "I heard gunshots, I thought…"

"I killed him," John said in that matter-of-fact voice that he used to report killings and burned soup. "You were… falling. I…" John still sounded odd. "You fucking fool… You jumped. I thought you…"

"John," Sherlock said, his throat as tight as it was when he was on the roof. "I was trying to save you."

"If you had died there, I would have been destroyed." John said simply and that's when Sherlock realized there were tears pouring over John's face. John took a hesitant step towards the bed, then another, almost as if he was fighting his own reaction, but no—he was probably worried how Sherlock would react.

"You saved me?" Sherlock asked gently.

"Not with any help from you."

"I'm so…"

"If you say that, I swear I will kill you." John was now beside the bed. His face was bruised, dark circles under his eyes marked many nights without sleep. He even looked thinner, Sherlock wondered when was the last time the doctor had eaten. John did love to eat. And those tears… No sound, just the tears running over his face.

Taking a deep breath to brace himself from the pain, Sherlock shifted up enough so he could lift and arm towards John, suddenly needing something he couldn't put into words. He needn't have worried, John knew and pulled him against him holding on as if he were going to fall to pieces—and to his surprised, Sherlock found himself returning the embrace with the same ferocity.

"If you ever do something like that again," John said, still not pulling away.

"Yes?" Sherlock answered from the comforting warmth of John's support.

"Just don't, okay?" John pulled away, keeping his hands on Sherlock's shoulders.

"I won't." Sherlock wrapped his hands around John's forearms.



"Because if you do, Sherlock, if you ever do this again…" John swallowed a sob and tried for a smile.


"I will make sure you're bored for a month."

Sherlock smiled, and before he realized what he was doing he pulled John again him again. "Never again. You either."

"I promise."

Sherlock knew a vow when it had been made, when it had been offered. He also knew the day John Watson walked into his life was the day that made him, the day that his life was saved and he became whole.