A shared smirk passed between them, a twinge of excitement in a bundle of will-he won't-he. Watson watched, dry mouthed. He could not stop his heart from pounding in his chest like a war-drum, the last desire to stay alive, burning through heartbeats until the end. Sherlock remained a static object on the edge of the pool, gun poised at the bomb between him and the man who had just changed his mind in the flicker of an eye. Another awful second passed. His blood ringing in his ears, Watson tried to move forward in inch, to steady himself. He was still woozy from the earlier shock of having a bomb strapped to his chest, an experience his blog readers would probably never have, and one he wished desperately to forget as soon as possible. Possibly with a bottle of wine. The glowing red dots glued to his chest and forehead glimmered but stayed put. Watson froze, sure now his feet were under him, though his knees still shook from the aftershock of wearing the explosive laden jacket, having to repeat every word that came into Moriarty's head.
Watson wished he had a gun in his hand, something. He felt helpless, watching his friend pointing the gun that he had so dryly shot the wall with only a few days before. Because Holmes had been bored. All of this madness because a man with money and power was bored, the reason they were at that loathsome pool. There was Holmes and Moriarty, instantly linked, battling for a look of astonishment on each other's faces, using London as their grand chessboard in a stupid game.
Watson thought he saw his friend's finger twitch on the trigger, the back of his dark, curly head light up like a Christmas tree with red fairylike dots. Watson held his breath. He glanced up at Moriarty, who stood so calmly, the bastard, hands at his sides, waiting for Holmes to make the next move. Holmes still waited. Perhaps a sense of survival had crept into the man's brain.
Watson saw out of the corner of his eye a tiny dot dart from the back of Sherlock's head across the room. He thought he saw it pause for a split second over the bomb, still lit up like red coals, but it landed on the opposite wall behind Moriarty.
Not the wall.
A tiny glowing dot sat directly over Moriarty's heart.
Watson was sure Sherlock had seen it. A glimmer of detection was in his eyes. Holmes hand grew stone steady, trained on the jacket.
Moriarty saw the red dot too. A look of confusion passed over his face. Then suddenly he smiled down at it, cupping his hand over it as if to capture it like a wayward firefly.
He looked up and stared something across the pool, at whom Watson thought might be the rogue sharp shooter. The man seemed lost in thought, staring at what Watson felt was his right ear.
Holmes still did not move, though his breathing had quickened. He was waiting, hoping perhaps that the rogue rifle would fire, and the rest of the shooters would turn on the rogue instead. Watson could see the gun almost quivering in his grasp.
They all stood frozen like a scene from play waiting for the curtain to close as the lights dim.
"Stop it," Moriarty shouted playfully at the darkness, tucking his hands in his suit pockets.
"Would good would that do?" He said his tone like that of a parent to a child.
"They will still die anyway. Unless"—he paused, bringing a finger to his lips in an almost mocking gesture, Watson thought,-"Unless," he said louder, "you have formed an attachment to them." His face lit up with a mock look of surprise, and laughed at the unseen rifleman, rocking on his feet in childlike glee.
"You are so gullible. A few kind glances and you are at their mercy."
Moriarty tilted his head then as if listening to someone's secret silent rebuttal.
He began to beam, looking up at Holmes with curiosity, waiting, his arms spread wide in silent invitation.
Holmes nearly took that invitation. He raised the gun so it was with Moriarty's head without a second's hesitation.
Moriarty let out a single grunt before hitting the floor.
The red dots miraculously disappeared and Watson spun into action, running towards Moriarty.
Please be dead, he thought bitterly, brushing past Holmes, already kneeling on the checkered floor, studying the blinking mess of wires for a safe detonation.
His shrink had said this type of thing was therapy. Therapy for what? Watson thought miserably. Was living with the eccentric monstrosity that was Sherlock Holmes therapy? Were his nightmares of the dead in Afghanistan helped by the god-awful screech of an underplayed violin?
Writing about it helped. The shrink had gotten that much right. Telling the world Sherlock Holmes was the not only the world's greatest detective but the greatest dunce, still stuck in the ruts of medieval astronomy and yet probably the best man the Enlightenment never had helped him overcome more nightmares than anything else. Watson the army medic never needed writing, it was Watson the careful, Watson the homebody, Watson the locked out of the apartment for the 17th time because Holmes changed the locks again, who needed it. For the first time in his life, he had needed adventure.
Watson knelt beside Moriarty, bleeding profusely. A shot to the gut. The sharp shooter had missed his heart. Moriarty's pulse wavered, but he still breathed. His fine suit was ruined by his own blood spatter. Minutes ago, Watson had been his puppet Watson beat back the need to strangle him then and there. He pressed a careful hand to Moriarty's wound. It looked fatal without immediate surgery. The shooter had done his job.
Watson sighed. Moriarty had known from the minute he had seen Watson that he was the weak link in Holmes proverbial mail. He had fallen into an easy trap, waiting for Holmes to return from a jaunt at the pool, victorious. A man with all the answers, at least for the important things.
He glanced back at Holmes to see him trying to decipher how to defuse the bomb.
"Alive?" Holmes asked quietly, sensing his friend's gaze, not even glancing up, his hands nimbly working through the wires.
"Yes." Watson said, licking his lips, pressing the wound a bit more. He was still out of breath. Moriarty still rather immobile, too quiet for Watson's liking.
"Call a hospital. Then Lestrade."
"They've been called off." Holmes interjected. "I don't know why yet. Working that out."
Watson rummaged in his pocket for his mobile, fished it out and began to dial, but before he could finish he felt the tip of rifle bore against his temple. He stiffened instantly.
"Drop it," said the voice above him.
Watson let the phone clatter to the tile floor. The voice sounded vaguely familiar.