Partners In Crime

A thousand possibilities were coursing through Sherlock's impossibly quick-witted brain, his mind crossing out the impossibilities, and double-checking the other options with impressive speed. His mind never actually rested, he picked up data and information constantly, storing it in his mental hard drive for whenever the moment presented himself.

He was prickling with mild annoyance now, however, because the data rushing through his very large brain wasn't what he considered particularly useful, and it almost certainly couldn't be used in a case. It was just so personal, and Sherlock Holmes didn't do personal. He was strictly impersonal, or so he had been – until he had met John Watson.

It was almost faintly ridiculous how well suited they were to each other – John's steady, practical manner calmed down Sherlock's whimsical personality – but when he wanted to, they matched each other in rashness and hotheadedness. As soon as he had walked into the laboratory, Sherlock had known that John Watson was something special. And unsurprisingly, he had been perfectly correct.

So where was he? Sherlock tapped his long, almost skeletal pale fingers on the scratched and dented coffee table, trying to suppress the emotion he had identified as worry. Sherlock Holmes didn't worry. Sherlock Holmes was above all that – I mean, come on – he was the only consulting detective in the world. Cars drove past the open windows, so that flickering lights danced around the room, illuminating the blinking numbers on the digital clock. It was 2:14 in the morning, and John should have been home 134 minutes ago, exactly.

His senses suddenly came onto full alert – unless he was very much mistaken, there had been the sound of a door slamming downstairs – and since Mrs Hudson didn't venture from her apartment after ten o'clock, the possibilities were stacked in the chance of it being his best friend. However, he mused, an only friend did automatically become a best friend didn't it? It wasn't as if he had a huge crowd of friends. Not that he needed them.

The last thing Sherlock wanted was John to think he had been worrying about him, so he quickly lay down on the couch in his blue silk dressing gown, grabbed the violin from the laundry basket and sat there nonchalantly plucking the strings in a vague sort of tune. It took John Watson approximately 54 seconds to climb the stairs to the flat, taking into consideration any shopping he was carrying and how angry he had previously been with him. Sherlock didn't really know what was wrong with shooting painted-on targets on the walls, but for some reason John seemed to hate it. No sense of adventure.

2 minutes passed by quickly, and still John Watson didn't show himself. Despite of his determination, Sherlock's worry was growing stronger and more intense by the minute. Angrily, he threw the violin against the wall, watching in some satisfaction as it splintered into pieces before his eyes. The violin had it coming.

Finally, after 3 minutes and 10 seconds, Sherlock gave up. He stood up and went to the apartment door, throwing it open with the sort of flair only a detective could pull off, with his long black coat swishing around his ankles. However, he nearly fell over his own feet when he saw the spectacle in front of him.

John Watson was in a terrible state – he was covered with cuts and bruises, and fresh blood was seeping from his arm which he was supporting. By the amount of blood spreading through the beige material and the way Watson was holding his arm – Sherlock could immediately tell that it was a bullet wound, even though the small charred hole in the jacket was self-explanatory. A black eye was forming over his right eye, and his hair was matted with dirt and dry blood. His jacket was ripped, and Sherlock immediately saw that a very sharp, razored knife had made the slashes in the material. Watson was still standing, which was a very near miracle, but Sherlock calculated that this perseverance wouldn't last long, so after asking "What the hell happened to you?", he half dragged, half helped the doctor to the dilapidated armchair.

The knife marks, the bullet wound – Watson had been mugged, and efficiently. The knife slashes weren't made with a common kitchen knife; it was obviously a rarer and more specialised knife which had been used. The slashes were well-placed, and it was clear that they had been made by a professional, and it was just dumb luck that the material was particularly hard leather – the knife hadn't penetrated the skin as far as he could see. Sherlock knew that when Watson walked, his upper left arm brushed the area of his chest where his heart was – the bullet was lodged into the upper left arm – therefore it was safe to assume that these attackers weren't just messing. They had been aiming to kill.

In short, the attacked had been efficient, professional – and planned. John didn't walk down shady alleys in the dark – he would have walked the busy, well-lit way. Sherlock confirmed this by the fact that his shoes were free of the gravelly, wet mud he would have undoubtedly picked up trudging through the backstreets. No offence intended to Watson, but he didn't look particularly rich – and nor particularly vulnerable. Any gangs would have noticed, surely, the solid way in which he walked the steely look and the lack of any money-transportation? Then again, common street gangs didn't have Sherlock's fascinatingly sharp mind.

John seemed unable to speak, and incomprehensibly, these carefully documented thoughts just drifted away. Panic settled into Sherlock's stomach, something which hadn't happened in a very long time. Was Watson seriously hurt? He hadn't said anything, and Sherlock quickly looked into his friend's pain-filled eyes. Bad idea, the panic was building up now. What was wrong with him?

"Sherlock..." croaked Watson. "I'm sorry -"

"Shut up," interrupted Sherlock, mind trying to work out what he could do to help. Water was needed of course, bandages – and some other stuff he had in the cupboard which he didn't use, but he supposed it would come in handy now. Quickly, he gathered up the materials, and picked up an unopened bottle of whiskey on his way, uncorking the bottle with his teeth as he rushed around.

Another emotion working his way round his system was anger. Who had done this? How dare they?


"Stop talking," he said abruptly, before cleaning up the wound in his arm, and wrapping it tight with a bandage. Watson winced at Sherlock's roughness, but he would never have complained, not even if Sherlock had torn his arm off. Sherlock then wiped the blood off the rest of the wounds, and placed a large pack of frozen peas on John's eyes, so that John had to bite his lip, so he didn't scream about the sudden cold impact. "Drink this," he ordered, and ignoring John's startled rejection, he shoved the bottle of whiskey into his mouth and tipped it up, so Watson started to splutter violently.

"What the hell are you doing, Holmes?" he gasped, throat burning.

"Whiskey, for shock," replied Sherlock, glancing impatiently at his wristwatch. "You're a doctor; I would have thought you'd have known that."

"It's normal," replied Watson with heavy sarcasm, trying to massage some feeling into his throat. "To not force it down their throat so they almost choke."

"Details, details," muttered Sherlock, not really paying attention. His mind was once again racing with the possibilities for the identity of Watson's attackers. His thoughts were immediately shattered when Watson groaned in agony, clutching his arm fiercely. "Oh, does it still hurt?"

"I was shot," said Watson through gritted teeth. "What the hell do you think? I could die"

But Sherlock's answer was cut off by another groan of pain from Watson, who was squeezing his eyes shut in anguish. Worry surged through him; he really wasn't used to these flurries of emotions. It was very tiring, he had no idea how other people dealt with these on a daily basis.

"Watson – John," he said quickly, looking deep into his best friend's eyes. "Listen to me. You're going to be alright, I'm going to call an ambulance." The words were coming from nowhere, he had no idea where this was all coming from, and he hated clichés enough to tell himself that it was not coming from his heart. "I promise you'll be fine."

With speed he never showed normally, Holmes picked up his phone and dialled the emergency number. His impatience was evident as he paced around the cluttered room, kicking furniture out of the way as he did so.

"Ambulance, please," he said briskly. "My friend has been shot – yes, of course I know he's been shot you idiot. Send an ambulance immediately to 221b, Baker Street. Now. Why are you still talking to me, shouldn't you be ringing someone? For fuck's sake, he could be dying!"

Holmes rang off, rolling his eyes in exasperation. "Bloody medical services, trying to tell me to calm down."

"How dare they?" whispered Watson, face contorted in agony, rapidly losing whatever colour it had left.

"Talk," demanded Sherlock, wringing his hands. "Talk to me. It'll take your mind off it. What happened?"

"Not sure," whispered Watson. "Three men; couldn't see their faces – they wanted to know where you were, and I – I didn't tell them. They – attacked me."

"My dear Watson," exclaimed Holmes. "How did you get back here?"

"They were going after you," replied Watson, taking short breaths. "I had to make sure you – you were alright."

Sherlock Holmes, the man who is never short of anything to say couldn't quite speak for a couple of minutes. Being a man of such extraordinary intelligence, who placed such high values on impersonal matters, on data, on information – he had never quite fully appreciated how amazing the personal aspects of life could be. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words would come out, but he hoped that Watson could sense the massive surge of affection he felt towards him, even if he was unable to put it into words.

"Watson," he said finally. "I'm glad you're my friend, I really am."

Watson knew immediately that that was the highest praise he was going to get from Sherlock Holmes, and he smiled sub-consciously – blocking out the pain for a brief fraction of a second, before the agony in his arm started shooting maliciously through him once more.

Sherlock Holmes took out his phone and started browsing the internet. A professional gang, out to get him? Could be anyone, but why him? Was it something to do with his last case? The possibilities started presenting themselves to him one by one, and using his extremely good use of logic, he quickly identified the most likely to be correct choice. And where were they most likely to camp out? The answer presented itself in a matter of mere seconds, during the time it took for Watson to fall to his knees as a fresh wave of agony took over him.

"Watson!" yelled Sherlock, in a fashion as completely un-Sherlock-like as possible. "Watson, are you OK?"

"I'm fine," said Watson, breathing deeply. "The ambulance is here now, I can hear it."

Sure enough, Holmes could hear the wailing sirens drawing closer and closer to the flat, and soon flashing blue lights were lighting up the darkened room. Knowing that Watson was fine now, Sherlock fastened his loose coat and tied his trademark scarf around his neck.

"You'll be seeing me very soon," he promised as he opened the flat door.

"Where are you going?" asked Watson, breathing deeply, sunken in his armchair.

"I'm going to find the bastards that did this to you," replied Sherlock Holmes, narrowing his eyes. "And I'm going to make them sorry that they were ever born."

"How are you going to do that?"

"I have methods," replied Sherlock, bouncing on the balls of his feet – evidently raring to be off. "Let's just say it involves an explosive device, a timer and a test-tube of a chemical I am not allowed to tell you about."

"You're going to get killed, Sherlock," gasped Watson. "Don't do it."

"They nearly killed my partner," remarked Sherlock. "Of course I'm going to do it."

"It's too risky!"

"Please, John," said Sherlock, giving him a flash of a grin. "I'm Sherlock Holmes."

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