A/N: Yes, eventually, there will be Johnlock again. However, that is a ways off. Much angst and mayhem will ensue before then. This fic is growing in my mind every time I sit down to type. I have a direction I'm heading, but as for what happens in between reaching the destination I have planned, that is completely up to the characters and how they play out their scenes in my mind. Sometimes I think Jim will react a certain way to something Sherlock does, but it changes when the moment is upon him. At any rate, I know some are a bit put out at the sheer amount of Sheriarty in this story that began as more of a sweet/funny Johnlock. I promise I only meant for Jim to play a part in like maybe 5-6 chapters! But I find that I actually enjoy some Jimlock a LOT more than I had originally thought I would. They're such as tasty combination of crazy and intelligent… But as I said, the story grows within my mind each time I set fingers to keyboard. And it's nowhere near finished!

Thanks yet again to Revella, who is a constant source of inspiration for me and a good sounding board for some of my more intriguing plot developments

Also, thanks to my husband for the last memory John has in this chapter. I was lamenting aloud that I needed something lastingly sweet, and BAM. My hubby actually threw out an idea that ended up sooooo deliciously full of the feely sweetness of Johnlock!

Light rain pattered down against the window panes of 221B. One actually stood partially open, and the floor beneath it was drenched from the constant influx from outside. Curtains trailed softly with a sporadic wind that snuck through. And other than the light of the fireplace and the moon through the windows, the once lively flat lay somber and dark, as if in mourning. The now sole occupant of the flat reclined almost bonelessly in his armchair beside the fireplace, the flames' flickering warmth playing tricks with how the shadows danced across eyes that were focused just in front him, on one piece of furniture in particular. Empty. Streaks of dried tears were still in evidence upon his cheeks and chin. And the shaky way he drew in each breath told the story of what had occurred within him this day. The once proud soldier had broken, utterly.

There was nothing different in this night in particular from the others that Sherlock had been gone. He had cried already; many times in fact. But something about this day had hit him. Hard. It had been two weeks to the day now since his best friend had been…taken from him. And besides the last photo of Sherlock in the car almost a week ago, there had been no word. No news was generally being considered good news where Moriarty was concerned, however. Then Mycroft had texted him earlier today. But he just couldn't bring himself to respond to the man. In actuality, he was dreading even looking at the elder Holmes. As little as they may resemble each other, he would still see Sherlock in every silent expression, every thought transitioned to spoken word. Sherlock's blood was coursing through Mycroft, albeit a thinner strain…but still. And the thought that the only living remnant of that blood might now reside solely within the elder brother…. He shuddered. In his current state of mind, it seemed to him that he would feel the pull of that life's fluid, unto the rending of his soul. And so, he chose avoidance.

He looked to his almost empty tumbler of whiskey, not usually his choice of beverage, but it felt appropriate for his mood this night. Regretful reminiscing is never complete without being at least partially inebriated, he thought to himself. Then he sighed in a highly exaggerated manner, mostly just to hear himself and make a bit of noise in the quiet flat. He rubbed his face, thinking of how utterly pathetic he was, and glanced at the clock. It's late….. But then, how does that even matter anymore? His eyes drifted over to the window. No. Not just 'the window.' The sniper's hide where Sherlock used to bombard the pigeons. He almost smiled at the thought. His eyes slid closed as memories began to flood his mind. Some silly. Some quite nostalgic. Others sad in their passing…. And many were composed of the still, quiet moments that had led him to the discovery of what he now felt for the detective. He heard the rain pick up and almost surfaced back into full consciousness again. Not quite, though. The pull of these seemingly insignificant moments was strong indeed, and they swirled him back under, allowing but one brief thought to escape before he fully succumbed to his reminiscences. Memories, he thought in passing. Please, whatever power there may be out there…..let these not be the last. Let me have new ones to look forward to making. Please?

16 months ago….

John saw Lestrade waiting at the door of their flat as he came home from the clinic. The DI smiled but looked somewhat harried as he spoke.

"John, hey. Glad you're home. I came over to see Sherlock; he actually texted me and told me to come over, but no one's answering the door. Do you know anything about it?" John shrugged his response concerning his odd flatmate's behavior as he unlocked the door and went in, Greg following behind. The doctor motioned for the DI to follow him up, and they quickly mounted the stairs, each coming into the living area, and each stopping dead to stare at what lay before them.

"Sherlock!" John cried, flabbergasted at what he saw. The detective looked up from his chess game at the sofa where he was bent forward with elbows to knees and hands clasped and pressed into his lips.

"John?" came the simple reply, eyes an innocent pale green today.

"You…you've….you've got no pants on!" And Lestrade shifted uncomfortably behind the doctor, looking anywhere but the sofa. Sherlock stood and looked down confusedly, making the viewing situation even worse.

"Must've forgotten to dress after my shower. No matter. Lestrade, what do you need?"

"For you to put some bloody trousers on, you git!" the DI screamed at the floor, hands shoved deep in his pockets, "And you were the one who texted me!"

John kept his eyes locked on Sherlock's. And then he saw it. The quicksilver flash of light deep within the detective's eyes that gave him away. He turned to the flustered and red-faced DI.

"Greg, would you give us a minute? I promise you it won't take long."

"Yeah, all right. I'll feel better out in the hall anyway." And he stepped out of the flat and closed the door. John whirled to Sherlock.

"You did that on purpose," he accused.

"Every one of my actions has a purpose, John."

"Yeah, well, but, this was done deliberately to set him off."

"Experiment."

"What? What could you possibly learn from this?"

"That if I need Lestrade to shut up and go away, I need only remove my clothes."

"Sherlock, that would happen with any sane person."

"You're still here." A moment's silence.

"Yeah…..I am."

Present…

John smiled into his glass as he took another sip. That tall, leggy bastard had always been able to surprise him, no matter the circumstances. There was almost literally nothing John could conceive of that the detective would not be capable of doing on a whim. His stomach clenched. Except hurt me, he thought, suddenly darkening the tone of the happy memories. He would never do that. I know him. For real. 100%. His mind drifted over thoughts of what he had been witness to on that security recording of the car dealership. Sherlock had seemed so…strange. Off. As if he were at once the same person…but merged with someone new. Like an old friend you lose touch with and meet again after ten years apart. Essentially, they are the same; but there are new aspects, new memories, new experiences. He shuddered to think what that madman had done to his friend to bring him to the point where Sherlock would be acting as if being around him was perfectly natural. And the poor doctor couldn't help but feel a cold thread of jealousy wind tightly about his heart…

No. He shook his head. Thinking like this did nothing good. And so he sent his mind down other paths. The thought of jealousy seemed to be a theme amongst them, however. And he twisted and wrestled with it until he cleared out the bad ones, unearthing one of the memories that had him so pissed at the time, but now so sick at the thought of what he hadn't realized had been happening to his relationship with the detective. And he supposed, hoped, that the other man had known subconsciously, too. Why else ruin so many of John's dates?

14 months ago…

John and his date crashed into the door of his bedroom, tearing at each other's clothes wildly. He had only been dating Jesse for a few short weeks, but apparently she was every bit as eager as he was to move their relationship to the next physical tier. Shirts and pants hit the floor as they came crashing together onto the bed, with her landing across the top of him. She grinned, very catlike and playful, flipping her raven hair back over her tan shoulders in a way that sent a jolt of something hot through John's groin. She leaned back down as he pulled her up further on top of himself, and they resumed the heated kissing that had been interrupted moments ago.

It took very little time to divest themselves of the rest of their underclothes and connect their bodies in the way that nature had designed for them to. John's eyes drank in every inch of her athletic form, rarely leaving it. It had been quite some time since he had had any female, ahem, companionship…. And he intended to take as much from it visually as possible. He watched as she pushed herself up, straddling him, riding him almost, with hands clasping at his pelvic bones. Her eyes closed, mouth open wide. He shuddered, hands on her waist, and turned his eyes heavenward to send up a silent thank you. And he froze.

There, suspended above him, secured hand and foot to the ceiling in an almost spread-eagle fashion, was a certain consulting detective. John couldn't see exactly what had been built into his ceiling to allow this, but it hardly mattered. He watched in growing dismay as Sherlock removed a hand from one of the grips, shaking from the strain as he did, and raised a finger to his lips in supplication for silence. Then he gave a quick wink as he returned his hand to its holster.

Jesse had noticed by this point that John had stopped responding to her ministrations, her eyes curious at first. His gaze left the ceiling for a moment and found hers. She recovered her breath a bit as she tried to work out what the issue was. John's expression pleaded with her. Don't look. Don't look. Don't look. And so, of course, her head turned up and over at the ceiling above her.

The scream that erupted nearly had John's ear drums burst from its intensity. Jesse threw herself off of the bed and stumbled over to the only door closest to her: the closet. She slammed it behind herself as Sherlock fell to the bed where John had been just seconds before he hit, the ex-soldier having stood up just before the impact. Becoming more and more pissed by the second, John watched as the detective righted himself. So pissed that he couldn't even find the presence of mind to speak yet. Sherlock sat up quickly and then stood, looking down at John as if he had no idea what was so upsetting. Then his eyes lit up with an inner understanding, and he walked to the closet, reaching for the doorknob.

"Sherlock. Don't!" came the cry from behind him.

"She doesn't know who I am, John. I am merely introducing myself so she needn't feel so awkward," the detective explained coolly as he turned back halfway to face the doctor while John responded.

"Oh, and that's what's going to make this not awkward, is it?!" John almost yelled, gesturing around at themselves. And John suddenly realized he was still very naked. He grabbed the blanket and pulled it around himself, just catching the tail end of a smirk from the detective as the other man turned back to the closet and opened the door.

"My name is Sherlock Holmes, and I live…." Her shriek pierced even Sherlock's hardened nerves…and he slammed the door. WHAM! He stood there, rooted to the spot, staring in amazement at the now-closed door before him.

"Sherlock, hmm…" John exhaled loudly. "What…were you doing up there?"

"Testing how a body might fall from a certain height. Molly wouldn't let me have a real body, and your ceiling is 4 inches higher than my own." He said all this calmly, as if John should understand perfectly well what he was conveying.

The doctor just stared. He could hear Jesse crying softly in the closet. His eyes blinked forcefully, as if trying to rid himself of this image, this occurrence. The taller man's voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Do you think she'd feel better if I were naked, too? You know, to even the field?"

Sherlock ducked as the blanket came hurtling at his face. Then he made a most ungainly and hasty retreat when the body that had just recently been swathed in said blanket tore across the floor toward him clad only in socks.

Present…

John's knuckles were pressed into his mouth as he smiled at the memory. Not so funny back then. Hilarious now. And there were so many moments over their time together that brought out similar reactions in him. Most were filled with warmth and humor, though some were most definitely not at the time. Sherlock altered the perspective and perception of everyone who came to know him. And yet, John thought, how many people actually took the time to know the detective? When added up, and not counting family, John thought it was an awfully pitiful number. But Sherlock didn't open up to just everyone. You had to get past the "piss off" phase first.

12 months ago…

Sherlock sat at the table as John made tea for them. He tinkered with some impossible seeming rubbery substance and wires, focused intently on his hands. The tea cup plonked down beside him, but he made no move to touch it. John walked to the fridge for some milk after staring down at the other man for a minute, trying to decipher just what exactly that was in his hands. But he felt something catch his wrist as he took a step away. His heart picked up tempo as he realized that the detective had wrapped his hand securely around his wrist…and was keeping it there.

"Don't," Sherlock said, still not looking up.

"What?"

"Don't get milk."

"What? Why?"

"I don't need any."

"Well, you might not, but I do."

"In that case…" The detective's sentence was interrupted by a horrified scream erupting from Mrs. Hudson's flat. John started, and was going to run downstairs, but was once again restrained by the hand that yet still remained in place.

"No," came the detective's command.

"Sherlock, Mrs. Hudson is screaming. She…"

"Yes, I know very well. And she's perfectly alright."

"What? How do you know?"

"Frogs," came the unconcerned reply.

"Eh, what?"

"She found the bag of frogs I had to put in her refrigerator." Silver eyes still remained focused on the mystery substance he tinkered with before him.

"Now look, Sherlock, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but why did you have to put them in her fridge? Why not just use ours?"

"Then there wouldn't be enough room for all of the blood."

"The….blood…." John said softly. The hand gripping his wrist slowly let go. He stood there a moment, reached his hand out to the fridge door as if he still was going to go through with it…and let it drop to his side. What followed was one of the world's largest sighs…

Present…

God, what a flatmate to end up with. And when had separated body parts and the myriad selections of their assorted fluids become commonplace kitchenware? It seemed it must have happened suddenly rather than as a gradual change. The acceptance of Sherlock's odd inclinations and uncanny ability to take the piss of just anyone had seemed almost naturally accepted by John, as if they had been friends for years rather than days. And when he encountered something new and frightening/disgusting/revolting/shocking/insulting/etc, John would just adapt himself to the new ideal. His addiction for things dangerous, however, he didn't need to adapt. And though it got him into all manner of difficulties…still, he reveled in the times they stood side by side, in the thick of certain discovery, high on adrenaline and looking for the next bit of trouble.

11 months ago…

John's date was a quiet thing, all waif-like and shy. Her brown hair frequently covered her face as if she was afraid to show it to the world. She barely touched her food, said little to nothing, and smiled nervously quite often. Quiet. Very…quiet. John was bored. Understatement. Though he was glad that Sherlock had suggested this restaurant. The food was superb, even if the company wasn't. But that's what blind dates were like. Good or bad, they were always…surprising, in some capacity.

His flagging attention was suddenly caught and held by a particular patron across the room who held the menu just so, so that John couldn't see his face from the angle he sat. Said patron, when the menu lowered and turned just a fraction, gave the doctor's brain a nudge. He recognized those long fingers….that posture… Sherlock? Oh, shit. The menu-wielding patron stood, gave John a wink, and headed towards the back of the place. John rose quickly, knocking the table as he did, and he gave a placating mumble of something resembling, "Excuse me a moment," to his date as he followed the now retreating form of the detective.

He caught up to him as they entered the men's room together, grabbing his arm and twisting him around as they passed through the door and it swung closed. It pulled the taller man directly into the doctor's space, faces six inches or so apart, as John spoke softly, but angrily.

"What the hell are you doing here, Sherlock?"

"Case," the detective replied, removing his arm from John's grasp and making as if to straighten the buttons on his sleeve cuffs.

"What. Case?" John asked tersely.

"The one I sent you here to reconnoiter for?" Silence. John shook his head at this reply. Reconnoiter? For a case? And then it hit him. Sherlock had asked where he was going to take his date. Then the detective had suggested this restaurant. Oh. Oh no. Oh, he was so stupid. How did he not see this? His eyes found Sherlock's, full of affront. And then the taller man spoke before he could.

"Come one, John! Robbery, assault….almost arson, too. He's gone out the back just now. If we hurry, we can still catch him!" Another quick wink was thrown out with a wolfish grin. "Could be dangerous." And John stood there as the other man pushed around him and passed through the fire exit…. It was quiet for but a few moments before he turned himself and followed hurriedly behind the detective. "Shit."

Several minutes, and many streets, later, John found himself in a precarious position, hanging from a fourth floor ledge that ran along the tops of the building's windows. A shot rang out over his head, causing him to duck, and he asked himself repetitive questions. Why am I here? chased itself across the doctor's mind as he clung to the side of the building and bullets started flying by his head, the shooter unable to get a good, clear shot. Why am I doing this? He glanced sideways at Sherlock, his anchor in this current world of insanities he had plunged into. There was a gash bleeding all along the taller man's forehead, and John grimaced at the sight while shifting his grip to move closer to the open window. Sherlock swung himself along likewise toward the opening, drawing beside the doctor and giving him a level look, an understanding that was shared between them. Then he swung out slightly, grinned at John like a maniac, and kicked in the glass of the window as the doctor pulled his own gun to return fire. Oh, that's why.

Present…

John giggled a little at the memory of a bit later that same day when he had realized something else…..

11 months ago…again…

"That was amazing!" John exclaimed as they sat on top of the now-subdued suspect. Sherlock smiled softly at his constant stream of compliments, watching as the vehicles from NSY pulled up to the sidewalk where the chase had finally ended.

"Yes," the detective agreed. Then he flicked his eyes at the officers, and pushed off of the man. A whoomph of air escaped the restrained man's mouth as he did so. Sherlock stretched and then held a hand out to John to help him stand, too. "Hungry?" the younger man asked as John was pulled up with a bit too much force, causing him to crash slightly into the other man. He stepped back and looked up into the clear silver aimed at him.

"Sure. I was about to say I wasn't hungry, but after that, I feel I…." His eyes went wide, his body rigid, mouth falling open, and then he got a most ridiculously regretful and hurt look on his face.

"What? John! What is it?! Were you hit somewhere?" Sherlock grabbed at him, trying to twist him around and examine him. The doctor grabbed the detective's seeking hands and held them firm, staring at the ground as he spoke.

"No," the older man said firmly.

"No what?"

"I wasn't hit."

"Then what is it?"

"Rachele," John breathed with exasperation. And Sherlock looked at him queerly for a second before replying.

"Jeana."

"What?"

"Her name, John….. It's Jeana." Moments of silence passed…..

"SHIT!"

Present…

John sighed as he filled his glass once more, looking at the almost empty container it fell forth from. This wasn't solving the problem, but it was all he had for now. Two weeks! he exclaimed internally. So much could have happened in two weeks. Before he could think about it any further, he downed the entire contents of the glass in one solid gulp. It burned, but so did the pain of loss. And alcohol compared not at all to that inferno of guilt and self-hatred. True, there were no reasons for him to feel this way. It was hardly his fault for Moriarty being…well, Moriarty. But still. If he just hadn't left. If he had just stayed to argue it out….

It felt like he had betrayed his best friend with his inability to help him. Even now, though they had narrowed down the search parameters, there was still far too much ground to cover to do anything quickly. The initial surge of hope had faded and withered since then. It seemed all they could do was sit and wait for Moriarty's next move, his next taunt. Whereas, if it had been reversed, Sherlock would have been hot on the trail and endlessly deducing thousands of clues that they, the average, would miss. It felt so wrong to have left the detective that day. The younger man had no emotional experiences to draw from, so of course it was to be expected that he would be frozen by John's admission. Why didn't I stay?! he thought desperately, ferociously angry with himself. He groaned aloud in exasperation. And as he sat frustrated, other things crowded his overburdened and inebriated brain cells. He remembered his first clues that Sherlock wasn't quite the emotional blank that he portrayed to the world. The hidden, almost childlike inexperience he displayed when confronted with the nobler emotions had been an odd thing to catalogue. And these memories, among all, were by far his most precious. They floated by, one after another, quieting his rage and soothing his angst. He had been sick with a fever once…..

10 months ago…

"Argh," John moaned as he rolled over in bed. His bleary eyes found the clock beside himself. 0830. Shit! Late! He began to fumble, with eyes closed against the dawning light, trying to get out of the blankets. But he found himself to be very inept at the whole process. He struggled…and then something cool and firm pushed him down in the middle of his chest. His back hit the mattress, and his eyes flew open. The detective stood at the side of his bed, one hand on the sheet beside him, and the other pressed to the doctor's chest, holding him down. John's eyes questioned, and an answer was soon forthcoming.

"You're sick. You've been moaning off and on for the last few hours, your body temperature is greatly elevated, and you're experiencing some mild diaphoresis in response. I've called your work; they send their regrets for your illness. Oh, and I made tea." He looked a bit guilty then, and continued, "But you didn't wake, so I drank it. I can make more?"

John's head swam. Sick? Fever? Sweating?... Moaning?! He tried once more to sit up, but he was held firm. How did you…? No wait, have to ask out loud, he thought. Most of the time anyway…

"How did you know I was sick?"

"I heard you from downstairs and came to look in on you. I found you to be in some distress, so contacted your work and moved my things in here." John looked at him confusedly.

"Things?" he asked stupidly.

"Yes, John," Sherlock gestured behind him to where John could see various books, pens, his laptop, and a jar of… Honey. Please let it be honey, John thought as Sherlock continued. "Now go back to sleep. Here." And suddenly a cool, wet rag was across his forehead, and it was as if heaven itself had alighted there, such was the relief it brought. And so he complied, watching through ever narrowing eyelids as his tall, lanky, and ever-so-pale angel settled back down at the side of his bed and began to tap away at his laptop. Silver eyes were intent on the screen before them but flicked up once and touched on John's own, and he knew he was safe. Sleep came quickly after that.

Present…

He smiled to himself, a tear leaking out amidst the alcohol and ghosts that permeated the room. A man had tried to stab him once, and Sherlock had reacted with such exaggerated violence to it that the guy had to be stitched in multiple places and needed a cast on both legs. He was such an enigma, Sherlock Holmes. Cold, calculating, brutally and cuttingly honest. But also displaying a kind of backwards compassion to those closest to him. How could he have never seen it before? Stupid, he thought. And then his eyes closed as he dropped into even deeper contemplations. The first time I knew? He had thought often of this subject and was fairly sure he had it pinpointed, though he couldn't remember the particular holiday pertaining to the memory itself…

6 months ago…

John and Sherlock had traveled to Holmes Manor and were staying for the weekend holiday. It was cool outside, and John had become quite warm by the fire, so he decided to go for a walk before bed. It was full night outside, but the moon and stars provided ample light for a stroll. He didn't see Sherlock anywhere to ask if he wanted to come, so he headed out on his own. There were acres of land to cover on the Holmes property, if one so chose, and so he exited the large estate house and headed straight out from it.

He smelled the cigarette smoke well before he ever came upon the detective, standing at the edge of a down-sloping hill. The younger Holmes was still hiding his on-again off-again habit from his father, apparently. John smiled at the childish behavior of his genius companion as he approached.

"Sherlock?"

The detective's hands were a blur as he sought to hide the evidence, and he twisted to cover up the small light being emitted from its tip. However, as he did, John witnessed something that the whole world would never believe even if he had caught it on tape. Sherlock Holmes, world's only consulting detective, fell flat on his ass and began to slide/roll down the side of the hill.

Momentarily startled by the complete lack of grace exhibited by the always composed detective, John stood immobilized. Then, with quickening strides, he jogged to the edge of the steep hill and skidded to a stop. Or, at least, he tried….. As he began his own headlong slide/roll, he thought of how wonderful it was that no one could see them like this at night. The hill wasn't so steep that it was a dangerous ride, but it also was graded enough that stopping was almost impossible once one got moving.

Sherlock had rolled to a stop on his side and was pushing up to sit when John came tumbling into him, landing virtually on top of the detective, knocking him flat again. They lay sprawled like that for a long time…and then John giggled, softly at first, but growing in intensity. Sherlock's baritone joined him and soon they were laughing so hard that tears streamed down both of their faces.

"People really would talk, you know," John gasped out as he rolled over onto his back. Sherlock did likewise, and they lay side by side, gazing up into the heavens. Starlight sprinkled a kind of magical luminescence upon them as they observed the passing of time quietly. And it wasn't until a few minutes went by that John noticed Sherlock's hand had been lying partially over his own the whole time. His heart stopped. Rebooted. Started up again. He tried as hard as he could to not show that he had noticed this in any way, as it was obviously just a result of how they had ended up laying. The detective certainly didn't seem to be aware of it in any capacity. So he kept calm, hoping his rising pulse couldn't be perceived through his fingertips. And neither said a word for long minutes as the heavens stretched out above them in a perfect, sparkling eternity. Eventually, though, Sherlock broached something that John had never thought to hear.

"Thank you," whispered the detective.

"Eh? For what? Trying to rescue you from your own downhill escape?" John chuckled. And Sherlock was quiet for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, and John sensed this was actually a moment that was not supposed to include levity.

"For being…my friend. John. I can't actually recall…ever having had any before." John's head came up from the grass and turned to the detective.

"'Course, mate. You're my best friend. I'd do anything for you." And Sherlock's head turned in kind to face the other man beside him, features lit softly by the celestial bodies above. His fingers actually twined a bit into the doctor's for a light squeeze, intensifying this moment, this break in what the detective normally externalized to the world. And it was worth every bruise John had found on himself the next day.

Present…

Tears leaked down John's cheeks unashamedly. Eyes were reddened from the repeated trauma of memories too close to heart this night. Skin was paler than normal from stress and lack of sleep. Hair was a frayed mess, sticking out at odd angles; lengthy enough to need a haircut but not quite bothersome enough to get him to the barber shop. Hands were clenched on the arms of the chair in which he sat. Head was down with chin to chest, signaling deep acceptance of something gravely important. Clothes were rumpled in a fashion that bespoke more than just a couple hours of being immobilized in this position.

Mycroft noted all of it as he came round to the front of Dr. Watson, who didn't even bother to look up from his downward gaze. The elder Holmes stood quietly for a moment, testing to see if John would respond on his own. He did not. He was lost in remembrance and self-pity. And Mycroft hadn't the time to play the concerned friend or whatever else might be needed here tonight. Here was here for one purpose: to inform John of his thoughts on Sherlock's potential "choice" of alliance…and just what he would be capable of doing should said choosing go the wrong way. He had taken down one brother. He could again. Though, this time, it would not feel half as justified. However, Sherlock was capable of great evil…if given the chance…and the right incentives…and if certain moral roadblocks were removed. He looked pointedly at John. The good doctor was a soldier. He would understand. Oh, he wouldn't like it one bit, but he would recognize the threat, cooperate, and learn to cope after the deed was done. If it became necessary.

Mycroft opened his mouth to speak just as John finally looked up to acknowledge him. And his words died a shriveled, lingering death as he beheld the depth of the pain and suffering within the other man's eyes. All of his previous observations collided together and then fused with a few new ones.

Brown-hazel eyes widened in shock, then narrowed in suspicion, then gave way to a hopeless despair. Pulse rate had elevated at the sight of Mycroft, who knew John wasn't thinking of him when he looked at him, but another Holmes. A younger Holmes. Breathing was sharp, staccato, as if on the verge of breakdown. These things and more came flying into Mycroft's observations, and all led him to the end conclusion that had now stolen his vocabulary. This was bad. This was very bad. John would be useless to him this way. Maybe even a hindrance if it came down to it. And so he changed his tact, deciding that the doctor now needed to be kept in the dark about Mycroft's own decision that led down the path of fratricide.

And so, the elder Holmes merely made small talk as if he were checking in on him, with the man before him barely responding at all. News? No. None. More awkward silence. And then he quickly left, taking the stairs down to the front door rapidly. And he paused as he opened the door to look back up in the direction of the pitiful excuse for what had been a thriving ex-army doctor not even a few weeks ago. He shook his head almost imperceptibly as he whispered something into the night air that was filled with disgust…and yet just a tinge of amazement as well. But only the silent heavens above bore witness to the word, "Love," being uttered in such revulsion by the British Government.