Disclaimer - I am actually Steven Moffat in disguise. Oh wait, no hang on a minute. He only wrote three episodes (or four if you count the un-aired pilot)
AN - Many thanks to everyone who has fav'd or alerted my work. Glad you are enjoying it. Much appreciation all those who'd reviewed - it really makes the time and effort that goes into crafting a story seem like its worthwhile.
1. Hero – a man of exceptional nobility, courage and strength.
As Moriarty had taken his leave Sherlock had thought it was over, at least for now. They both had. The relief he had felt as he had stripped that ugly parka and even more destable explosives off Watson's body with quick, urgent, hands had made him feel almost light-headed.
"Alright, are you alright?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine, Sherlock, Sherlock."
John's response had been slightly stunned. In part, Sherlock was sure because of his own narrow escape, but no doubt at least somewhat due to Holmes own overtly emotional response to the situation. The single, sick, split second of horrified disbelief he had felt when he thought John might just have been their bomber had swiftly transformed itself into a much deeper dread when he realised that John Watson, doctor, soldier, flatmate friend, was utterly at the criminal's mercy.
"So, we're just going to the cinema?" John asked, as he shrugged into his coat. "This is really simply two people who like each other going out and having fun? This isn't anything at all to do with a case?"
"As I would have presumed that even you could deduce from my most recent activities I don't presently have a case. I haven't had a case for days and days." Sherlock responded sourly. "I've been so utterly bored."
"Really?" John cast an eye over the still gently smouldering remains of the burnt out microwave, the clam shell sabre sticking out of the wall, the copy of "Greatest Unsolved Murders of all Time, (a gift from an anxious Mrs Hudson) and the full suit of medieval armour which had been meticulously taken apart and now lay scattered in its component part s all around the sofa. "I would never have guessed that."
Sherlock blinked as he realised he was actually being teased. People didn't usually tease him. Or care to spend a great deal of time with him really. Looking around at the level of debris littering the flat he realised that he must have been even more difficult to live with than usual over the last few days and apart from his rather vocal and pointed insistence that Sherlock wasn't going to be doing his experiments on the impact of maggots on decomposing human flesh in the bath tub, John had really been rather amenable.
"I suppose I could tidy up a bit." He offered by way of conciliation.
Sherlock picked up one of the pieces of armour and looked around for a moment, realised that he didn't have the slightest idea what to do with it, before inspiration struck and he put it back down in a slightly different place, feeling really rather proud of himself. After all, that was what people always did when they tided up, wasn't it?
"Come on," For some reason, John looked very much like he was trying not to laugh at him. "At this rate, we're going to miss the start of the film. The reviews have been fantastic but I have to say I didn't think it would be really your cup of tea?"
Sherlock knew that John expected him to response with some long and detailed explanation, about how he had been attracted by the detailed historical content, or the cutting edge science, maybe the sheer technical brilliance of the special effects, or the innovative cinematography, but as he slipped on his long flowing grey coat and wound his silk scarf around his neck he never contemplated giving any answer that was anything other than the absolute truth. After all, that was the whole point of this exercise.
"I thought you might like it."
The look of surprise on John's face as his eyes widened and his jaw dropped slightly, was followed gratifyingly quickly by a light flush of pleasure across his cheeks and a slightly shy smile that grew rather wider as Sherlock held his gaze and John realised the other man was totally sincere in his response. Feeling his own chest warm slightly Sherlock smiled back feeling immensely satisfied with the way his experiment had borne out his hoped for hypothesis.
At the time, he had thought that with practice he might get even better at this friendship lark.
Now, he cursed the fact that his attempts to protect John, by waiting until he was safely out of the way before he issued his challenge to their bomber, had been so totally amateurish. How could he ever have been so stupid, stupid, stupid? Of course, any bomber who was prepared to risk the lives of a random woman, an unknown man, a blind woman and then a small child would be looking to raise the stakes and ultimately target someone who inhabited Sherlock's own world.
Earlier that evening John had been angry at him, disappointed at his apparent lack of empathy for the other victims. The very idea that he could have left any one of them wired up to a jacket full of explosives for one single solitary second longer than absolutely necessary had appalled his flatmate. Sherlock had tried to explain the delay was worthwhile because the other evidence he had been able to uncover in the meantime put them one up on the mysterious bomber. Granted part of Holmes also knew that he was motivated at least as much by the thrill of the game as any desire to save lives.
Perhaps that was why he had responded so caustically.
"Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes, don't exist and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them."
Well, he had been partly right about that. He was certainly no hero.
But John Watson was an entirely different matter. Sherlock should have realised that long before what John has tried to do for him. What he had fully intended to go through with for his sake. As soon as Sherlock had seen Watson throw himself at Moriarty in order to incapacitate him and give Holmes a chance to run, being fully committed to sacrificing everything he was simply so that Sherlock and the countless other innocent lives that Moriarty might in time to come cast his dark shadow across could all live and thrive, he had known that he had been wrong all along. And that was unforgivable because it wasn't as if John Watson hadn't given him more than enough clues.
It was the end of another case. Sherlock was feeling that delicious buzz that came with successfully putting all the pieces together and was basking in the utter satisfaction of being right, again, he knew it wouldn't last, that feeling never did. But right now he was feeling positively energised and full of bonhomie. Now he could eat.
"So, dinner?" He turned to look across at John who as usual had fallen into step beside him. "What do you fancy? Maybe, Chinese, Italian, Indian, there's a Mongolian Restaurant not far from here I've been meaning to try..?"
"Not for me thanks."
"Oh," Sherlock stopped dead. That shortness of tone coming from his very own blogger was somewhat unexpected. John usually took as almost much pleasure in his successes and achievements as he did. He looked closely at his friend's hunched shoulders and closed expression and came to a realisation. "I've made you late for your date with Sarah."
"Sherlock, it's almost 4am. I already called Sarah to cancel hours ago," John answered testily."And now I just want to go home and go to bed."
"You're angry with me." Sherlock realised.
"No, Sherlock. I'm not angry. I'm bloody furious. You sacred me," John pointed out sharply. "I saw you following our murder out across that steel girder and it frightened the bloody life out of me."
Sherlock mentally reviewed the events of the last few hours. His brain latched onto the moment when John's face had frozen with horror, his expression deathly pale and his eyes wide in disbelief as he shouted at the top of his lungs. The high winds that caused the steel girder to sway just slightly in the winds had whipped away Watson's words before they could be heard, but Holmes had easily read his lips and know what his flatmate was trying to say. Even so, he stepped out onto the steel girder without a thought for the lethal drop onto the bare concrete below.
"Fear is a very negative emotion," Sherlock now pointed out with the kind of superior air that both fascinated Watson and made him wan to deck the other man. "Place that girder one foot off the ground almost everyone will cross it. Raise it fifty feet off the ground and how many will even attempt it? And yet all that's changed is their fear."
"Fear also keeps you alive. Puts your senses on high alert, gives you the adrenalin to move quickly when you need to," John pointed out, rather forcefully in Sherlock's opinion. "It stops you from taking totally needless, un-necessary risks."
"It was a calculated risk." Sherlock corrected.
"It was a bloody stupid thing to do! Didn't we already talk about not putting your life at risk to prove a hypothetical hypothesis?" Frustrated at being unable to successfully get his point across John scrubbed at his face and tried to calm down, hoping to find another way to make the consulting detective see reason. "Have you ever actually been really truly afraid?"
Holmes paused as he gave that concept due consideration. John knew it was testament to their growing friendship that Sherlock was even prepared to entertain his concerns. He wondered what the other man would say if he told him that that by not giving him his answer straight away Sherlock had already provided his response. Once you had felt gut wrenching total fear it wasn't something you could easily forget.
"I've never been in a situation where I couldn't see a way out," Sherlock admitted finally. "Successfully, obviously, as I still live to tell the tale. There's always something your opponent has forgotten, a mistake they've made, something which gives you the advantage."
"You really don't know what its like to be scared do you?" John's tone was decidedly odd Sherlock thought. It had a sort of 'strangled' quality to it.
"No, not really," He raised a cool brow."Was that not the answer you were looking for?"
"Well good for you," John had commented caustically. "I truly hope you never find out."
That had been the first time they had argued so vociferously that John had taken himself off to Sarah's and not come home until the following day. When he had returned, by mutual (unspoken) agreement neither of them had said anything about the night before. Sherlock knew that John had hoped he'd learned something from the exchange. But at the time he hadn't been at all sure exactly what that was supposed to be.
Now, he did, far too well.
Wanting to make sure that any threat from Moriarty was really gone he had stalked outside. Only to realise as soon as exited the pool area that what he actually needed to be closer to John to ensure he was safe. These conflicting emotions were already quite unsettling enough, when he re-entered the pool to see that John Watson, one of the strongest people he had ever met, had collapsed against the wall he felt furious, concerned, guilty, helpless. How distastefully ironic that none of this would have happened if he had kept John close instead of isolating him under the guise of protecting him.
"Are you okay?" John's voice asked.
"Me?" Sherlock hadn't been expecting that. His errors, his arrogance, his ego, had all led to this, had led to Watson's kidnap, his less than salubrious treatment for some considerable time at Moriarty's hands, none of which Sherlock wanted to dwell on, then the prospect of his imminent demise and yet still the other man's first truly coherent thought was for his welfare. Was that what friendship was truly about? "Yeah, I'm fine, fine."
He knew he ought to say something else. Anything to recognise that most astonishing thing John had just attempted.
"That thing that you did, that you offered to do, that was um .. good."
It wasn't the most eloquent thing he had ever said. The words themselves didn't begin to convey half of what he actually wanted to say. Which for a man like Sherlock Holmes who lived by his wit and his razor sharp vocabulary was a more than unusual occurrence, he wasn't normally one ever to be lost for words. But it was certainly the most heartfelt sentence he had ever uttered. He hoped that counted for something.
He had tried to do his best after all.
"I need a favour, Mycroft," Sherlock could not believe how awkward and alien those words sounded coming from his own mouth. "You can see it as part repayment for all those dreadful knighthoods you keep trying to give me."
"And why pray would I do that?" Mycroft queried loftily.
"Because I'm asking," Sherlock fixed his elder brother with an unwavering stare. "And I never do that."
"This matter must be extremely important to you." Mycroft surmised.
"John is having some difficulties with his Army pension. The War Office or whatever one is supposed to call it in these days of government restructuring are making some kind of fuss that he's not allowed his full entitlement if he is co-habiting with someone else. John is too much of a gentleman to tell them what to do with their petty bureaucracy and too much of a stubborn idiot to let me simply redress the balance. I need you to sort it out."
"You really are quite inordinately fond of him, aren't you?" Mycroft realised.
"Is your little spy network so woefully underfunded these days that I actually have to be the one to point out to you that John Watson has already saved my life on more than one occasion since we made our acquaintance?" Sherlock scoffed lightly. "If that means nothing to you, perhaps you could at least spare a thought for Mummy."
"Ah yes," Mycroft nodded. "I do hear tell that Dr Watson is really quite a remarkable shot and not at all squeamish at threatening your enemies for your sake. So, assuming that I might be in a position to help what will I receive for this assistance?"
"Oh I don't know, let me see," Sherlock let his head loll back. "Shall we keep it in the family, how about my first born son?"
"I would really rather prefer something a little more tangible." Mycroft sniffed.
"Then I imagine you'll want me to solve some tedious little problem or other for you in the future," Sherlock huffed. "Which I'll agree to if you absolutely insist."
"More than one tedious problem, I think."
"Why?" Sherlock rapidly straightened up as his eyes narrowed. "I'm only asking you for one favour."
"Ah, but the other tiny bit of co-operation is in return for my not embarrassing the good Doctor by telling him that you had a hand in helping him solve his finacial difficulties," Mycroft smiled thinly. "That is what you want isn't it?"
"And you wonder why I never buy you a Christmas present." Sherlock sulked.
"I'm glad nobody saw that," John's words jerked him out of his memories to the present, although the context left him feeling slightly wrong footed, encouraging the other man to elaborate. "You, ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool, people will talk."
In the circumstances, it was really quite droll. How did such an apparently average man acquire the heart of a lion?
"People do little else."
Finally, Sherlock allowed himself to relax, a relieved grin spreading across his face as he caught John's eye. His friend grinned back, reflecting his own relief as he began to lever himself off the wall. Sherlock's mind had already fast forwarded to ensuring his friend ate something nourishing and got some rest before he returned to focusing his energies on tracking down Moriarty when the door clanged and he knew exactly what was coming.
Catching John's eye, he saw understanding, determination and a degree of resignation. Sherlock knew what he had to do. He realised that he had no choice in the matter. But he wished that there was more time. There were things that he wanted to say. There were words which he needed to ensure John heard. Because the world's only consulting detective had been so very wrong. He might not be a hero, even by the dismal standards of a Hollywood blockbuster, he had failed to save the day.
But Dr John Watson was the stuff that leading men were made of. More than anything Sherlock wished for the chance to tell him what had been so glaringly obvious all along..
Even as he took aim and set his sights on the discarded heap of explosives he hoped there would still be enough time to do exactly that.