Title: Pinch Me
Warnings: Pinch Me belongs to the band Barenaked Ladies and the fanfic was slightly inspired by the song. The story is canon until certain point, but then I changed the whole thing. Also, spoilers for the season one of Sherlock. There's homosexual relationships between characters. All characters belong to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and to BBC. I gain no profit with this.
Synopsis: Pinch me, 'cause I'm still asleep. Please, God, tell me that I'm still asleep.
"John?" Sherlock called, the despair still light on his voice.
"John?!" each passing second meant more of Sherlock's soul being possessed by anguish and anger.
Sherlock opened his eyes, breathing hard and facing the purest darkness. He rose his trembling hand and passed it through his curls, which were soaked in sweat. He didn't remember exactly what had triggered so much panic in his dream, but what he did know is that his whole body was still shaking with the trauma.
A light was turned on, its clarity trespassing the door's veins. Rushed steps were heard and in a matter of seconds they were already next to Holmes' bed.
With no words said, the mattress sank next to Sherlock and there was warm, comforting arms passing through his shoulders. John hugged him as tightly as he could, with his chest pressing against Sherlock's back.
So Holmes just stayed that way. Closed eyes, breathing normalizing and just absorbing John's presence, the one thing that made him feel so good. No one had ever made him feel something so strong — no one had ever stayed long enough for it to happen. Ever
But John had. John Watson, the one who didn't give up on Sherlock, even after he found body parts on the fridge, or after having more than one almost-death experience. John Watson: the one who Sherlock could safely say that he loved.
Although "love" was a difficult conception in Holmes' mind. The love he felt for John wasn't the one that appeared in movies, series and all over the internet. It wasn't in a carnal way, but it certainly wasn't just a friendly love neither.
Sherlock just loves. He doesn't know how to explain this love and he never felt the need to. All that he knows is that he feels good around John; that he smiles more in the presence of the ex-soldier and the simple fact that Watson was there gives Sherlock a reason to live. If such feelings were under the label of "love", Holmes didn't know, he did not care as long as John Watson knew what he felt.
John lay his head to rest against Sherlock's trembling shoulder, feeling the calm coming back to his partner's body and smiled again as he tightened his embrace.
"I love you too, Sherlock." He whispered.
Holmes twisted his lips in a smile that, innocently, he saved only for John. A smile that he had gotten used to give everyday.
Suddenly the heat was gone. The body next to him disappeared almost as fast as it arrived. John's smile no longer lit up the room – neither did Sherlock's – and his hands no longer lay on the detective's shoulders.
Sherlock opened his eyes only to face the cruel, cold reality from which he made so much effort to escape. Once again, he felt the sweat dripping down his face, only now it was mixed with tears. His body began to tremble uncontrollably and, as if it were rehearsed, a light came on outside Holmes' room.
The nightmare was now clear on Sherlock's mind: it repeated itself in front of his eyes like a hologram, like a flashback. Especially because that's what it really was. The bad dreams that took over Sherlock night after night were nothing more than sick memories.
John was static, eyes wide open with fear, though he was clearly trying to disguise the feeling. A coat too big for his body covered him; indifferent to the warm, unusual climate that was established in London. Sherlock felt the air escape his lungs when he saw his friend and he didn't know what to do but to stare into the blonde man's eyes, silently asking for an explanation.
"Evening," John said with an unnatural calm in his voice.
He blinked rapidly, a mute ask for help that he had learned in the army and that, unfortunately, Sherlock didn't recognize — he was too busy immersing himself into panic.
"This is a turn up, isn't it, Sherlock?" he continued, his tone sounding even more robotic. "Bet you never saw this coming."
Without really thinking his acts through, Sherlock gave a hesitant step forward, going to John's direction. The latter just held at the edges of his jacket as a response, holding it open so Sherlock could see the bombs attached to John's body. Holmes swore under his breath and stood where he was as a red target shone on Watson's chest.
John's hands kept a controlled tremor, but Sherlock could see the fear clouding his brown eyes, his knuckles were almost transparent white as he gripped the coat with much more force than necessary.
"What… would you like me… to make him say… next?" he said slowly – obviously repeating what was being said to him at that exact moment. "Gottle o' gear."
A sudden wave of courage washed over Sherlock and he started moving, looking in the darkness to try and see the man with the gun. Although he knew he wouldn't be able to spot anyone, he kept looking – anything to distract him from the broken sound of John's voice.
"Gottle o' gear." John repeated, tilting his head as the listening device was resting rather uncomfortably on his shoulder. "Gottle o' g-"
"Stop it." Sherlock ordered.
"Nice touch this." The ex-soldier repeated as terror dominated his eyes when the detective approached. "The pool… where little Carl died."
Sherlock turned abruptly, his whole focus now on John. The mention of his first case – and the first murder he had witnessed — made him forget about the shooter and walk as close to John as he could. He knew the gun wouldn't be fired just because of his approach.
"I stopped him." John closed his eyes, unable to look Sherlock in the eyes for he was terrified of the sentence he was about to repeat. "I can stop John Watson, too. Stop his heart." His voice broke when he realized he had declared his own death sentence.
"Who are you?" Holmes kept his controlled posture and went back to scanning the pool, not noticing at first the sound of a door opening.
A tall, skinny man, with a short and impeccable brown hair walked out of the shadows in the back of the room. He wore a fancy, three-piece suit and kept his hands hidden in his social pants' pockets, calmly walking towards Holmes and Watson, seeming to be entirely unaware of all the tension surrounding the men.
When Sherlock faced the man a quick shine of surprise lighted his blue eyes when he recognized the character – but it was quickly disguised in the apprehension of not showing any emotions. Holmes moved quickly, withdrawing a gun from his pocket and pointing it to the new figure.
"Jim Moriarty. Hi!"
Despite the serious expression, Jim's voice sounded happy and that annoyed Sherlock to no end. His high and animated cry reverberated on the tile wall, filling the detective's brain.
"Let him go." Sherlock uttered.
"Yeah. Very nice to meet you, too."
"Let. Him. Go." He whispered dangerously, his fingers tightening around the gun.
"Don't be silly, someone else is holding the rifle." Moriarty said when he saw the movement of Sherlock's hand. He seemed angry for the first time, his mouth twisting in momentary displeasure.
"This is between you and me, Moriarty," Sherlock stated, the new name playing on his lips. "So let John go."
"Oh, but that's where you're wrong, Sherly!" he stopped right behind Watson, raising a hand to touch the soldier's hips. "Johnny boy here is involved in all that. After all, he's involved with you."
Jim laughed at his own joke and circled John's waist with his arms, resting his head on the man's shoulder and ignoring the mixture of disgust and contempt that took the doctor's face.
"Stay where you are, Sherlock." Moriarty asserted. "And lower this gun, it's worse than useless."
Considering his options, Holmes chose to obey. He lowered his gun to the ground and stopped a few steps away from John. He looked Moriarty in the eyes while the man smiled maniacally at him. Sherlock kept his lips in a thin line, a thousand plans and possibilities crossing his mind – too fast to compute.
Briefly, the genius visited his Mind Palace. Once there, he imaginatively walked from one side to another, trying to control the despair and murmuring to himself. His long and thin fingers threaded on his black locks, pulling them in irritation. Finally, he screamed as loud as he could, unable to find a plan in which John wouldn't get hurt – Moriarty was, nevertheless, truly unpredictable.
He blinked, being brought back to reality. He was still in the same position, his whole body getting tense when he saw Moriarty laying a simple kiss on his boyfriend's cheek.
Suddenly reminded of the main reason of his presence there in the pool, Sherlock took a little black object from his pocket.
"Oh" Moriarty pronounced with a fake surprise, taking the piece from Holmes's hand. "The missile plans."
He observed the pen drive with apparent desire, taking it to his lips for a quick kiss before going back to Sherlock.
"Boring." He threw the plans in the water, deteriorating them and surprising both Holmes and Watson. "I could have got them anywhere."
The two men – hostages – remained still, unsure what to do or say, simply waiting for Moriarty's next move.
"You're a loyal little dog, Sherlock." he laughed quietly. "Betraying your own brother – the British Government – in favor of the life of John Watson."
In a completely unexpected move, John rushed forward, grabbing Moriarty in an act that he believed would stop the man, or at least buy time for the consultant detective.
"Sherlock, run!" he yelled.
"Oh, well." Moriarty said, unlocking the gun. "I've never really enjoyed living, anyway. It's all too predictable, too repetitive. Don't you think so?"
The criminal turned the gun, pressing it firmly against John's abdomen – and against one of the bigger bombs attached to the soldier. Predicting the situation that was about to happen, Watson threw his body to the side, taking Moriarty with him, and pushing Sherlock, hard enough to make him trip and fall into the pool before hearing the last click.
In shock, Holmes felt the water tremble violently, the sound resonating incessantly in the enclosed environment, and a flash taking over the place. A sharp pain ran through the right side of his chest and he could feel his skin open in several places.
Too terrified to move, Sherlock remained submersed, refusing to leave the water and face the scene. However, his lungs – already damaged by the cigarettes – could not take much longer without air, forcing him to swim to the surface.
The water was tinted red. If by his blood, Sherlock couldn't tell. Pieces of cloth floated on the extension of the pool and a scarlet mount was concentrated where once John Watson stood.
Generally, Sherlock would wake up by this part, screaming for John. He would rummage around on the bed he had spent countless nights by John's side and would cry copiously when he found himself alone. Then, the memories would torment him even more, finishing the dream and reminding him of the pain, the solitude and, above all, the denial.
He had left the pool as fast as his body allowed after the traumatising view, running to the exterior of the building, his steps sounding loudly in the corridor. When he collided with the gelid night wind, his legs gave in and he collapsed onto the floor in a fetal and defensive position.
In Sherlock's mind, besides the sound of the shot, there was another being repeated incessantly. "Nightmare". Because it was all that had to be. A big, realistic and frightful nightmare. John was alive. There wasn't another choice.
He didn't know if he had been there for long, but suddenly a hand touched his shoulder, making him jump in surprise. He felt the heat of a body lowering beside him and a firm grip of long fingers on his cold skin.
"Sherlock?" tenderly whispered a familiar voice. "Sherlock, come on. Let's get out of here."
Against his will, Holmes was forced to get up, assisted by the person he hadn't yet been able to identify. He was guided to an unknown destiny, much like it was done with blind people. Which was, in fact, what Sherlock was at the moment. Not because he had indeed lost his vision, but for he was in such a deep trauma that his powerful brain refused to rise his eyelids.
As they walked, the wind became more violent, cutting the detective's face. He felt the person – a man – pass an arm through his waist and hug him (if protecting Sherlock from the cold or from the event, neither of them knew). And only then Holmes realized he was in the presence of his brother.
"What…" the consulting detective began, pausing to clear his throat, "What happened?"
He was still holding to the mere hope that he had imagined the explosion and that Moriarty had killed only himself, without taking John with him. But having only the tightness of Mycroft's embrace as an answer, he had all the proof he needed that there was no fantasy in his mind.
"Gregory." Mycroft greeted softly. "Take us to my apartment, please."
"I'm sorry, My," Lestrade spoke, "but doesn't he need a doctor?"
"We'll have any medical assistance we need in my flat. Now, please, Gregory."
Sherlock heard the click of a door being opened and his brother sat him on the back seat of a car. Received with a wave of warm air just as the automobile was brought to life, the younger Holmes gathered the courage to open his eyes.
He registered Mycroft sitting by his side, his arms still surrounding his torso. Lestrade periodically stared at him through the rear-view mirror, pity and sympathy overflowing his dark irises. When he looked at the passenger's seat and did not see John Watson there, in his usually relaxed posture and fiddling impatiently with the radio until he found a good enough station, Sherlock closed his eyes again, not wanting to see a world without John.
To be continued.