Posted by John H. Watson
So we met the man himself. Well, I say we met him – I became his bomb-puppet. Then when I grabbed onto him and yelled at Sherlock to run, he became my bomb-puppet – for a few seconds at any rate. We all knew that if the sniper fired at me, the man who was behind all the calculated, elegantly horrifying murders would be blasted to pieces and so would I. Sherlock didn't run, even in the split second of surprise that he had at his disposal. When it was over (or at least over for a few minutes) I was shaken but not significantly traumatised. After all it's not like I haven't faced imminent death from snipers, terrorists and bombers before. No – the things that really did bowl me over were the two truths I learned that night about the way my companion sees me and the world.
First and most importantly – he really meant it when he introduced me as his 'friend' rather than his 'colleague', as I had corrected him at the bank. As soon as that bastard had disappeared Sherlock Holmes dropped to his knees in front of me. "Alright," he muttered, then – with fierce sincerity – "Are you alright?" With shaking hands he literally wrenched that bomb off me with no concern for his own safety, and shoved them as far away from us as he could. Then he walked back and forth for some seconds, working off the adrenaline.
It was worth a bomb-scare – it was worth many bomb-scares – to see the depth of loyalty and affection that lay behind that dead monotone and cold, robotic mask. For a moment the hard grey eyes had dimmed and the usually firm, resolute lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain – and it must indeed be a great heart that can feel for a person so genuinely and with such intensity after so short a time. The frequent ingratitude for my many hours of effort and exhertion on his part, the cruel little jibes at my expense, the incredible mess, the often callous and inappropriate manner – all these minor irritations were instantly forgiven and forgotten in that moment of revelation.
"That er…thing that you did – that you offered to do, that was…um…good…" Sherlock spoke with barely suppressed emotion and an uncharacteristic stutter as he paced up and down, nerves all a-flutter. It was only later that I realised what an incredible compliment I had been paid, and learned a second lesson about how my flatmate saw me. I remember something inspecter Lestrade said when we were investigating the Study in Pink: "He is a great man. Maybe one day he'll be a good one too." Sherlock meant 'good' in the same sense. He was not labelling my action as something to be noted, remembered and approved of, not just something appropriate, a bright idea, impressive. He meant more than that. He meant that my action and its intentions and implications epitomised the actual concept of goodness itself – regardless of whether it was appropriate or even intelligent. In that light, who could ever ask for a greater compliment or acknowledgement?
Of course Sherlock is still the same annoying, inconsiderate, inscrutable, impenetrable, untidy, disrespectful, arrogant, ignorant, antisocial git to live with and work with as ever. He still leaves body parts in the fridge or on the book shelf. He still practices the violin in the middle of the night and enjoys ordering people around when he can't be bothered to move, all to facilitate his own thought patterns and investigations. He still frequently uses me as a verbal punchbag and scapegoat. But I also know now that my presence does make a real difference to him (and not just as an assistant), and that he also has a heart and a conscience and feelings of a sort, however unorthodox and unpredictable they may be in manifesting themselves. That knowledge is enough to ensure that I will, when the next opportunity arises, introduce him as my friend.
Posted By Sherlock M. Holmes
At sea. Wish I'd studied feelings more closely so I could catalgoue this one and file it away along with a straightforward, rational explanation. My friend and colleague Doctor John Watson offered to sacrifice his own life in a combined effort to kill M. and save me. It's complicated. Would have been fine if he'd died. Well. Not fine. But I could have coped: Honour his memory and all that, and then carry on as normal…with a replacement flatmate. But no – we both survived.
How do I get up each morning and have breakfast with a guy who would readily have lain down his life to save me and who, I suspect, would do it again in a moment should another situation arise? I told John – I told him not to make heroes out of people, because you'll only be disappointed, and now I find myself struggling to follow that same advice.
Stupid thing is I still don't know if I'm his friend or not. It's true he helps me a great deal, but that is because he is a fighting man who needs the action and adrenaline of the war. The way he speaks, the way he holds himself, his expression, his reactions say as much. His 'bad' leg was never in better form than when the game was on, and his hands, which tremble sometimes in the dull daily monotony between cases, are uncannily steady with a gun at the moment of crisis. The fact that he was ready to die to save me proves nothing: He is a man of action with an iron nerve and strong morals, and when he feels something needs to be done he will do it. I have no doubt he would do it for a stranger if he thought they needed to be saved.
True, John calls my deductions 'fantastic' and 'extraordinary' and 'brilliant'. But he is refering exclusively to my abilities when he makes such comments. It seems to bother him, like it bothers everyone else, that I don't cry over bodies or the fate of victims, or at least behave with the delicacy and respect that society demands. Crying won't help to avenge or rescue them and when an earthquake or tsunami or war breaks out you don't walk through hushed streets of people wearing black and sobbing. Life carries on. At least with crime you get an opportunity to avenge the victim, unlike accidents or natural disasters which, by the way, I try to avoid hearing about as they are irrelevant to me and make me feel depressed and remind me how helpless we all ultimately are.
Let me try to explain my general attitude towards crime and detection, and some of the reasoning behind it: A clever murderer or thief has talent, maybe even genius. Talent and genius are, or should be, assessed entirely objectively, independent of personal morality or prejudice. Let me explain further. Imagine hearing a brilliant piece of music and remarking on the skill of the composer. Then you find out that said composer tortured his three children to death. Such a fact would turn any sane person sick at heart, but the quality of the work (and therefore the level of musical talent) would still be the same after you had been told about the children. All talentdeserves acknowledgement, even if only in passing, for acknowledgement of talent is also an acknowledgement of truth and is therefore once again impersonal. Given all this, people should accept that I appreciate an elegant crime for its intellectual qualities, rather than emotional, aesthetic or ethical ones, and leave it at that.
Most people will also agree there is nothing wrong with rejoicing when you find or get offered a useful job that you are good at and find interesting – and for me that would be getting a case to solve. It's bad luck that my area of work is regarded by most as somewhat delicate in nature. In this life you are either bored or you are not bored. If you're bored you're unhappy. If you're not bored you're happy. Solving cases is the one passtime for me that is useful, that I'm good at and that is not boring. Therefore being given a new investigation makes me happy.
Why do I enjoy John's company? Well whenever he messes up he guides me a little further in the right direction. He's also an ear, and talking to an ear rather than a wall stimulates thoughts and prompts memories. He appreciates my talent. He doesn't goad me – I've always managed to show the goader up for the idiot that he or she is, but it's still nice to catch a break. He's mindblowingly tolerant, hardly ever shouts, never stays angry very long, and is optimistic in a quiet, cynical way that is pleasing to me. He's incredibly tenacious and often quite resourceful. He's my anchor and my blogger, and finally I like the background noise. Oh, and he points out when I say things in a manner or with a phrasing that creates an effect I don't intend, which means I get what I need faster without misunderstandings. Of course it's dangerous to get attached to anybody. People are not to be trusted – even the best of them.
And yet…Mycroft does his duty by me as a brother. The rest of the world pretty much is professionally civil to me when they need my abilities and then blanks me out when they have their answers (mind you with most people I'm positively happy about that). I've never been bothered by other people's opinions before, but John has come the closest to actually liking me that anyone has ever come. I'm intrigued, and I must say I'm perplexed as well. I almost think I could get used to this friend malarky.
One final morsal of thought: There is too much kindness in the world and not enough goodness. Kindness blinds people and obscures the truth. Hack away at the layers of fluffy padding which surround modern life and we'll see all those ugly problems clearly enough to start thinking of ways to solve them. Because solving problems is good in the true sense of the word. And maybe, just maybe one day this collective goodness could enable the achievement of that real, deep, complete, inconceivable, ultimate puzzle of them all...