Disclaimer – I do not own Sherlock Holmes, in this incarnation or any other.
AN – Prior to the BBC's incarnation, I knew nothing about Sherlock Holmes. Now I am hooked.
Okay, so 'the aftermath', so to speak, is not exactly an original fanfiction idea. But this is my take on it. Enjoy. :)
Fear is not a concept Sherlock Holmes is used to, much less terror. He had quite forgotten he could even feel such things, until now – until he is stood with Moriarty in front of him, with the bomb in front of him – not entirely sure which of them is more dangerous – and John to the side, John slumped against the wall, John as trapped as he is. As all three of them are.
There is no way out of this, no way of escape for him, for Moriarty or for John, and worse than fear, another, stronger emotion is surfacing; hate. Pure, absolute, burning, raging, destructive, uncontrollable hate...
Oh, the puzzle! The puzzle the puzzle the puzzle. How it fascinates him. How the mysteries of Moriarty thrill him, because they are so very, very far from boredom...but how dare he, how dare he even think about winning? Sherlock Holmes always wins – he can't fail, he just can't. And how dare he stand there looking oh-so-confident, oh-so-sure, oh-so-unafraid, it isn't FAIR!
...I will burn the heart out of you...
...I have been reliably informed that I don't have one...
...we both know that's not quite true...
How could he, how could he, possibly know about Sherlock, more than anyone else – how could he give off such an air of just knowing, just knowing, exactly how to frighten the man without emotion?
But if now is anything to go by, Sherlock has been wrong. John has been wrong. Everyone has been wrong except Moriarty, who looks so smug and superior that Sherlock's insides writhe with loathing, and with fear. He doesn't understand it, he doesn't understand emotions – and that makes everything worse. Because not understanding, not clinging to them, being able to dismiss them when he needs to...that doesn't mean that he doesn't feel them, and Moriarty knows exactly how to make them surface when they are least wanted.
'You won't do it,' he says simply, smirking and rocking back on his heels, looking quite relaxed.
'Oh?' Sherlock is aware of responding to the statement but little else; his mind is so crowded, so noisy, he can't even think above the din, he just needs it all to SHUT UP!
'Nope,' Moriarty replies cheerfully, leaning forwards slightly and grinning. 'Want to know how I know?'
'Enlighten me,' Sherlock's eyes rake the pool for what must be the hundredth time; his face is expressionless and his hand, holding the gun, completely steady, but his insides are in turmoil. There must be an escape...
'Because all of us go up,' he says, 'not just you and me Sherlock, all of us.' He looks at John now, and Sherlock's heart doubles in pace and seems to stop at the same time, it's pounding only adding to the racket in his head that makes it impossible to grasp at a plan, but he must be able to...Sherlock Holmes always thinks of something, he's Sherlock Holmes, he must be able to do something!
John recoils as Moriarty looks at him, an evil smile unfurling across his face but not meeting his cold eyes, gleaming with malice and enjoyment – Sherlock's gaze is just as unnerving because it is so very un-Sherlock, so intense and urgent and afraid that it can't be him – but underneath the storm in his eyes, a calm appears. A cool, intellectual calm of Sherlock at his most thoughtful, most analytical, and a sudden glimmer of...hope?
Sherlock glances at Moriarty. At the bomb. At John. And then, so minutely, so infinitesimally, that John half wonders if maybe he's seeing things, he flicks his head towards the water. John nods, swallows. Tenses his muscles, trying to ready himself without Moriarty noticing...the red spots of light on his chest shift and shiver but they don't leave him, they never leave him, and Sherlock has his very own collection – somehow, he is ignoring them. John tries to do the same, tries not to think about the burning pain of a bullet ripping through his flesh, the agony of it, the indignity of being injured like that, and the panic, the dread of death...the awful, absolute, incomprehensible knowledge that he is going to die, this is it, this is all he will ever see again – the pool or Afghanistan, it doesn't matter where he is or who is aiming at him, because nothing beyond the bullet would exist if it hit him, nothing would matter but the pain...
'I should warn you,' Sherlock says, his voice steady and his eyes fixed on Moriarty. 'You are sadly misinformed.'
And he fires.
Then it's noise and it's movement, and there's not just one gunshot but dozens, and a roaring, blazing blast, splashes and the sound of crumbling tiles, muffled under the water John is only vaguely aware of having lunged for – even the water burns, but it's safer than the surface, scalds are most definitely preferable to being ripped apart by the flying debris above, which is crashing down almost in slow motion into the pool where he and Sherlock are sheltered, not safe, but safer, better than the surface. His eyes sting but he has to keep them open, he has to dodge and kick and pull himself out of the way of rock and tile that threatens to crush him as it falls down, he has to see Sherlock, has to make sure he made it in, make sure he hasn't been hit.
But he's going dizzy so fast, and the explosion seems to last forever...he needs to surface, needs to breathe...he notices dully, through his oxygen-deprived brain, that the water is slowly turning red, not a wisp, not a tendril, but a cloud of red, and it isn't coming from him – Sherlock is bleeding and there's so much of it, there's so much blood and John can't think, he can't breathe, he can't surface, he can't stay here and he Goddamn cannot THINK!
Sherlock's brain isn't offering anything up, nothing but a name. He's hazy, his vision is blurry...why is he wet?
He's lightheaded. He needs to breathe.
Who's John? Why is the name swimming around in his head? Swimming...why does that sound important? And why does the name John seem to make him so...afraid?
His heart constricts in his chest at the thought, but he doesn't know why. Who is John? And why on Earth is there so much water?
That's what people DO!
Something is pulling him – someone is pulling him – to the edge of the pool...to the surface...debris has stopped falling now, and they scramble for dry ground, gasping for breath – everything is hot, everything they touch burns, but it's dry and it's over, their chests are heaving, dragging in desperately for oxygen, both coughing, retching, stumbling about with their eyes squeezed shut or squinting against the sting, their throats burn with the heat of the air, their lungs ache at the long lack of it, their heads spin...
Sherlock's vision is still blurry. The world seems to be tilting and he's so lightheaded it hurts...he clings to the ground to stop himself falling, dizziness overwhelming him...he hurts...
John hurries forwards, trying to clear his head, trying to focus; Sherlock is collapsing, he's bleeding, he's covered in blood...so much blood...he's pale, paler than ever, paler than death – no – no he's not, he can't be...he's so far away...why does he look so far away? Why isn't he moving anymore? And why won't John's legs do as he tells them to?