Author's note: For those of you who do not know, my beta, Catslynw, and I are roommates. I'd say flatmates, but we live in a house and, well, we're Americans. To the point, we share a mutual acquaintance, a fair and interesting young lady who was so kind as to introduce us to the fandom of Sherlock. She pushed, we caved, and now we're both hooked. Worse, we were both inspired with far too many ideas for Sherlock fanfic to be contained by our poor, long-suffering brains. Something had to give. Without consulting one another, we both began stories which could be considered tags to The Great Game on the same morning, at roughly the same hour, while located 40.41 miles apart in separate cities. That's 65.0 kilometres for you Brits. Both our stories begin in the hospital, with the same characters in attendance and have extremely similar themes. No one who knows us well would be surprised. The only thing we really argue about in the fandom is which one of us is Holmes and which is Watson. We have yet to reach an agreement. At the moment we are leaning toward her identity as the more socially ept Watson, and mine as the more pedantic Holmes. I sometimes lack a real world interface. *ahem* Anyway, read and enjoy. If you are Calliope, read, enjoy and then call after you have read both stories! *We didn't warn her we had written these, let alone posted them. We expect squeeing in the near future.* Also, dear readers, we both positively thrive on reviews, and we are highly competitive, so please read and review both our stories, or there may be bloodshed… ours, not yours. Sincerely, your devoted new author, Eideann.
P.S. Castlynw's story is entitled, "Defining Friendship."
Mycroft had made a severe miscalculation, one which had nearly proven lethal, in fact. He was not accustomed to committing such grave errors, and reflecting upon it disturbed him greatly as he stood at the foot of Dr. John Watson's hospital bed. Sherlock was in another room, sedated. Both men had been injured in the explosion, Watson more severely. Sherlock had finally been sedated because of his utter refusal to remain in bed despite doctor's orders. Mycroft had no illusions that anyone or anything would be able to keep his brother in bed for long. It was a pity that they couldn't sedate him for the full length of his recuperation, but for the first few hours at least, sedation was a realistic alternative to allowing him to overstrain himself.
One might reasonably wonder why Mycroft stood in John Watson's room rather than in his brother's. Both men were unconscious, thus neither could profit from his presence, but he might be expected to have a more sincere emotional attachment to his brother. In truth, he did, but he was conscious of a sense of guilt in Watson's case that he did not feel over his brother's injuries. Sherlock had brought his own fate upon himself, not merely because his was the hand that fired the shot to detonate the Semtex vest, but because his own actions and stated ideals had brought him to the attention of any number of violent individuals. For that reason, among others, Mycroft kept his brother under constant surveillance.
Once he had determined that John Watson was a suitable companion for Sherlock, he had naturally extended that surveillance to include the discharged army doctor, however, he had not provided for him the same high level of observation. Unlike Sherlock, Watson did not seem to be hyperactive, nor did he run unpredictably down unexpected shortcuts to reach his destination – except when he was with Sherlock, at which point he fell neatly under Sherlock's surveillance.
His mistake lay in not increasing the security on Watson during this insanity with James Moriarty. The focus seemed so firmly on Sherlock that he had not considered that Watson might need further protection. That someone might regard Watson as a target to affect Sherlock had never occurred to him, certainly not a man such as Moriarty, who seemed to understand Sherlock to so great a degree. That Watson might prove, at this early stage in their association, to be a target that would affect his brother would never have occurred to him.
He had hoped that associating with Watson would help Sherlock acquire something in the nature of what the Americans called 'people skills'. Mycroft had become aware when his brother was quite young that he did not seem to connect well with others. Partly it was his intellect, and that Mycroft understood completely. His own intellect had set him apart from other boys when he was small, but he had learned to compensate for it. Sherlock had not. Nor, apparently, had he wanted to. He barely seemed to miss the normal friendship connections that boys naturally made with one another at school, and at university he disdained the company of others except when it was forced upon him. Mycroft had never even been certain whether Sherlock's attachment to their mother had been genuinely emotional or more a matter of custom. He had certainly dealt with her death logically and then moved on to the next problem.
Regardless, some bond appeared to have formed between Sherlock and the man who had become his flatmate by happenstance. If Sherlock's determined efforts to escape his own room to check up on the good doctor hadn't provided sufficient hint, the fact that Moriarty had elected to use him as the final hostage in his game gave it away entirely.
Despite the fact that all the principals were unconscious, dead or absconded, Mycroft knew precisely what had taken place in that closed pool prior to the explosion that had brought half the structure down. While Watson had been lost altogether by his security, the man on Sherlock had followed him all the way to the pool and had taken up a perch that permitted him a good view of events, and the listening device had allowed him to hear the conversation. The agent, a most phlegmatic soul, had been astonished to report the sheer emotionality of Sherlock's response to the confrontation with Moriarty.
Most distressing of all was the fact that Jim Moriarty, a man known to none of them personally, had seen what Mycroft had missed. He had recognized the strong attachment that Sherlock had to Watson, and he had used it brutally. An additional security team called by the man on site had arrived just in time to watch the explosion and pry people out of the wreckage.
Watson took in a breath that seemed somehow deeper, and then his eyes opened abruptly. Fairly caught, Mycroft nodded at the man, who blinked at him in puzzlement. "Mycroft, what are you –" He broke off, eyes going wide. "Sherlock!" he exclaimed, trying to sit bolt upright.
Mycroft leaned forward. "Do not attempt to rise, Dr. Watson," he said gently. "Sherlock is very well, indeed, in another room."
Watson relaxed again, nodding. His eyes seemed somewhat vague, but Mycroft knew that he was on powerful opiates, so he hardly found that surprising. They sharpened, though, gazing at him. "Why are you here?"
Having Watson ask the question Mycroft had posited as a reasonable one made him doubt his own answer. Disregarding that, he gave a slight shrug. "I was concerned about your well-being. You were more severely injured than Sherlock."
Watson squeezed his eyes shut and then looked at Mycroft again, as though attempting to force him to make sense. "Am I? Oh. That doesn't really explain why you're here with me and not with your brother."
"Sherlock regained consciousness some hours ago. He is well aware of your condition, but I wished to be present to reassure you of his."
"Where is he?"
"In another room, sedated."
Watson's eyes widened, looking at something behind him, so Mycroft was prepared when he heard the voice. "Oh, am I sedated? I hadn't noticed."
Mycroft grimaced. "You are supposed to be in bed," he said without turning around.
"I am supposed to be resting," Sherlock replied, shuffling forward and sitting in the chair beside Watson's bed. "I can rest here quite well."
"You have stitches on the backs of your legs, Sherlock, you're supposed to be resting on your front."
"I thought that was what morphine was for," Sherlock replied insouciantly.
"Are you twins?" Watson asked, and the question made both of the Holmes brothers turn to look at him in surprise at the non sequitur.
"Are Sherlock and I twins?" Mycroft asked, truly astonished by the question. It seemed a peculiar one to ask at all, much less at a time like this.
"No, you . . . are there two of . . . actually, since you're overlapping, I doubt it somehow." Watson sighed. "I think I should probably go back to sleep."
"Probably," Mycroft said with a nod. "You'll be fine, Dr. Watson."
Watson drifted off again, and Mycroft turned towards his brother. "You should be in bed," he said astringently.
"Why are you in here?" Sherlock asked. "It makes no sense, and the reasons you gave him were specious at best. If he weren't doped silly, even he would have seen through them."
"Is there anything I can say to persuade you to return to your bed?"
Sherlock shook his head. "No, I don't think so," he replied, and Mycroft let out an irritated sigh. "Do you think you have enough people out there pretending to be sisters and the like?" Sherlock asked.
"Maybe," Mycroft allowed.
"It looks as though you were expecting a prolonged siege."
"Moriarty has not been found," Mycroft replied.
Sherlock sat forward urgently. "You said –"
Mycroft held up a cautioning hand. "I said the debris had not all been sorted, but that there were bodies in the wreckage. The conclusions you drew are not my responsibility." Though he had counted on the effects of drugs and pain to dull his brother's wit.
Sherlock glowered at him. "Whose were the bodies, then?"
"Given the rifles found near them, I'd hazard a guess they were some of the snipers you mentioned."
"Damn!" From his expression and the way he was looking at the man in the bed, the only thing keeping Sherlock from jumping up and striding out of the room to carry on his investigation was his attachment to John Watson. "I told you that setting idiots to watch me would be useless. Always there when they're not wanted, snitching to you about my least activities, but entirely incapable of behaving in a useful fashion when they're needed."
"Dr. Watson would have spent a good deal more time under bits of wreckage if they hadn't acted as they did," Mycroft pointed out. "As would you."
"We would both have survived a few more minutes buried," Sherlock retorted. "We may not both survive another encounter with Moriarty."
"I think you downplay your talents – and his – too much."
"I didn't say either of us would die for certain, just that it might happen."
"I have very good men searching for him now."
"Are they the same very good men who let him get away in the first place?"
"If you hadn't decided to take matters into your own hands, the situation wouldn't have arisen."
"You don't know that. I may have simply moved things forward more swiftly. Do we know when exactly John was taken?"
"I know when his security detail lost track of him," Mycroft said with precision. "We haven't been able to ask Dr. Watson for his version of events, so we don't yet know when he was actually taken, only that it was sometime after 2:30 and before midnight."
"Rather a large time period." Mycroft shrugged. "Why don't you go?"
"Away. What can possibly be keeping you here?"
"Not your scintillating company, certainly," Mycroft replied.
"I'm not supposed to be here."
"No, you're meant to be in bed, resting."
"You are not fine. If you were fine, the doctors wouldn't have ordered bed rest."
"Do you honestly expect me to believe that if you had told them to, the doctors wouldn't have ordered bed rest whether I needed it or not?"
"Out." The voice was weary beyond words and called the attention of both the brothers again.
"What?" Sherlock said, sounding startled and upset as he looked down at his flatmate.
"Out, both of you," Watson said. Giving Mycroft's brother an exasperated look, he added, "Sherlock, go to bed." The tone and the expression seemed to tame Sherlock's dismay, though they did not appear to reconcile him to leaving. Watson turned towards Mycroft. "And you – go run something. I'm trying to sleep. Text Not-Anthea and I'm sure she'll send a car."
Mycroft stared at him. "Not who?"
"Not-Anthea," Sherlock informed him with a mischievous grin. "Your PDA." Watson nodded with a slight smile, closing his eyes.
"You mean my PA," Mycroft corrected. Where had the name Anthea come from?
"Same thing the way you do it," Sherlock said dismissively. Again, Watson smiled and nodded. Mycroft was finding this a bit unnerving. Sherlock had never joined with anyone to mock him before.
"Now, both of you, go," Watson repeated. Giving Sherlock a stern look, he said, "Doctors are notoriously harder to deal with if you don't follow their orders."
"Well, if you put it like that," Sherlock replied, settling in. "I'll stay right here."
"No, you won't," Mycroft retorted. "I'll fetch some of my idiots if you try."
Sherlock glowered at him, but at further urging from Watson, he rose and left the room with Mycroft. Once the door was closed, Sherlock turned towards him and said, "Make sure your idiots are paying attention this time."
"Go to bed, Sherlock. I'll check on you both later."
Narrowing his eyes, Sherlock returned to his own room. Mycroft paused and gave more stringent orders to the men watching his brother and then left.
Once the brothers Holmes had taken their show on the road, John lay back with his eyes on the ceiling, evaluating his condition. Right leg in a cast to the knee, what felt like stitches on his left upper thigh, a variety of other, less serious lacerations and abrasions scattered all over his torso and legs, mostly on the front. His vision of overlapping Mycrofts suggested concussion. It was enough to be going on with. All he truly remembered was the concussive sound and a sense of the world coming down on him.
A sister came in to check his vitals and make notes in the computer record. Gone were the days when, if one could finagle a peek at the clipboard, he could determine what course of treatment the doctors had decided on. Nowadays a fellow needed a password to sneak a look at his records. "Hullo," he said warmly to the feminine back.
She turned and smiled down at him. "How are you feeling?" she asked, touching his forehead with the back of her hand.
"Not too bad, now I've got you to look at," he replied with a smile, neglecting to mention the fact that there were, in fact, two of her, shifting back and forth together. Both of them smiled down at him politely. He sighed, and glanced around at the walls. The clock was unreadable at the moment. Too many hands. "What time is it?" he asked.
"Half past one in the afternoon," she said. "You've been out since yesterday evening. Push the button if you need anything."
John nodded. "Thanks." She bustled out again, and John closed his eyes. Somehow, he'd made it through Afghanistan without ever getting blown up, but back home in England, it had taken hardly any time at all. Thoughts like that were not going to help him get to sleep. He opened his eyes, popped on the telly, found something with a lot of dull talking and tuned it low. He finally drifted off to the rise and fall of voices.
Greg Lestrade paused at the door to room 111 and pushed the door open silently. There was a news programme on, but the volume was turned extremely low. He glanced at the bed and saw that Dr. Watson was sleeping. He withdrew and went on towards room 117, reflecting that John Watson was an interesting man, not least for the effect he seemed to be having on Sherlock Holmes.
Lestrade had known Sherlock for roughly five years, and in all that time, he'd remained essentially the same, distant, arrogant, disdainful. John's appearance on the scene hadn't precisely changed him, but the fact that Sherlock could in fact attract a friend made Lestrade hopeful that he, and not Sally Donovan, was right about Sherlock. Lestrade had actually seen John make Sherlock laugh. His total lack of anything approaching a sense of humor – leaving sarcasm aside – formed one of Donovan's arguments in favor of Sherlock being a psychopathic personality, one crack in the façade away from becoming one of the criminals they hunted. John was well on the way to humanising Sherlock in the minds of many of Lestrade's colleagues, though not in the minds of either Donovan or Anderson, but if they thought he was the only one who'd twigged to their affair, they were sadly mistaken.
He pushed the door to room 117 open and found Sherlock pacing. "Aren't you supposed to be in bed?" he asked.
"Aren't you supposed to be finding the madman who did this?" Sherlock snapped back. "Have you seen John?"
"I peeked in on him a moment ago and –"
"Leave him alone for now, he wants sleep."
Lestrade took in a breath and reminded himself that Holmes was undoubtedly in a lot of pain which had most likely shortened his temper. "He was asleep. That's why I'm in here talking to you."
Sherlock stared at him for a moment, then nodded. "Right. Of course. What do you want?"
"First, searches are being made on the source of the explosive compound, on tracing the connections of the two dead men and the source for the rifles. I am here, while that is going on, to get a statement from you."
"Children use an inane mnemonic to recall the planets of the solar system and their order," Sherlock said. "Did you know that?"
Lestrade closed his eyes, took another calming breath. "Yes, Sherlock, I did," he said diffidently. He had long ago realized that challenging Sherlock on his non sequiturs simply distracted from the issue at hand, which, he thought, was probably the point. "I need a statement about what happened last night."
"Ask Mycroft's spy," Sherlock said irritably. "I gather he saw and heard everything."
"Mycroft? That would be your brother, right?"
"How many other Mycrofts are you aware of?" Sherlock asked dryly.
Lestrade had to concede the truth of that. "I'm asking you, Sherlock, the world's only consulting detective, because you were there and I want your point of view."
Sherlock turned away sharply and went back to his bed where he settled on his back, looking up at the ceiling, hands clasped behind his head. "I'm not well. Perhaps you shouldn't be questioning me at this time."
"Pardon me?" Lestrade asked. One thing Sherlock never did was admit weakness. Well, Lestrade could recall one occasion, a very recent one in fact.
"Granted. Perhaps you should come back later."
It took Lestrade a moment to recognize that Sherlock was granting him pardon, for what imagined offense, he couldn't fathom. "Why won't you talk to me now?" he asked, his eyes narrowing.
"I really am unwell," Sherlock said with the air of an invalid. "I think I may need one of those orange blankets."
"You're not in shock," Lestrade said, his voice getting a little harsh. He pulled back from that and sat down. "Just tell me what happened. I need to know."
Sherlock pursed his lips and glowered at him. "When Moriarty didn't immediately contact me with his fifth pip, I decided to take the initiative." Lestrade closed his eyes and fought the urge to remonstrate with the impulsive idiot in front of him. How a man could be such a genius and simultaneously such a stupid git was a little difficult for him to understand. "I waited for John to leave the flat, and then I sent a message to Moriarty asking him to meet me at the pool where Carl Powers died."
"You waited for John to leave?"
"I didn't want to endanger him. He'd have insisted on accompanying me." Lestrade raised his eyebrows and Sherlock grimaced. "No, the irony is not lost on me."
"You said he went out. Where was he going?"
"He said he wouldn't be back for tea, that he was seeing Sarah."
"Did he make it that far?"
"How should I know?" Sherlock asked. "This is the first time I've thought of it since John left the flat."
"So no one has asked the question?"
"No." Sherlock reached over and picked up the phone, dialing quickly. Lestrade put out a hand, but then he stopped. It made little difference who called her. "Hello, Sarah, did John come and see you last night?" He paused impatiently, clearly listening to her response. "I see. Thank you." He hung up without another word, and Lestrade sighed. Sherlock didn't merely lack manners, he lacked any grasp at what appropriate manners could achieve. His expression had soured, but that alone didn't tell Lestrade what answer she'd given. Sherlock looked up. "It takes approximately seven minutes to walk from our flat to hers, so it seems likely that John was taken within that seven minutes, which means that I didn't take the initiative, as I'd planned. I simply set the meeting place." The sour look faded, and Sherlock regarded him pensively. "Would you say that I have no heart?"
Lestrade gave him a dour look. "No, you wouldn't be alive without one."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I was speaking metaphorically," he said irritably. Lestrade thought it a fair turnabout, after all, Sherlock took many things far more literally than they were meant, and the delay gave him time to think. It was an unexpected turn for a conversation with Sherlock. With exaggerated patience, Sherlock rephrased his question. "Would you say I lack a metaphorical heart?"
"No," Lestrade said contemplatively. "Of course you have a heart. You don't generally put your deeper feelings on display, but I know you have them. You were most certainly distressed when the old woman died." Lestrade raised his eyebrows. "Why do you ask?"
"It appears that the association between John and me is what caused Moriarty to target him as the final pip."
Lestrade stared at him. "That's blindingly obvious. You say it like it's a surprise."
Sherlock's brows drew together. "It was a surprise to me."
Lestrade found himself unsure whether Sherlock was startled that other people could see that he cared about Dr. Watson, or whether he was simply startled by the fact that he did care about the man. He wasn't sure what to say, so he turned the subject. "Do go on. You set the meeting place."
"I set the place and the time," Sherlock corrected, and then his eyes widened. "And if Moriarty took John immediately after he left the flat, that means my time delay caused him to be held longer by the bastard. Who knows what might have happened in that nine hours and forty-three minutes. If I hadn't given in to an idiot bent towards melodrama, it needn't have been –"
"You couldn't have known."
"I should have known," Sherlock retorted. "I should have been able to see in myself what a monster like Moriarty could see in me." He paused, then turned towards Lestrade. "Wait, you claim you saw it before yesterday." There was a faintly accusing air to the remark.
Lestrade shrugged. "I did, Sherlock. I assumed you knew."
Sherlock was silent a long moment, and Lestrade hardly dared think. He knew that look. A tension grew in Sherlock, gradually becoming almost unbearable. Finally, the other man spoke. "I don't understand what's happened, or what I should do about it."
"Do about what?" Lestrade asked, utterly at sea. "Liking John? There's nothing to be done. Unless . . . you two aren't . . . together, are you?" He'd never even wondered about that, not with the way John flirted with every young, attractive woman he saw.
"What do you mean?" Sherlock asked.
"You know," Lestrade replied, but Sherlock shook his head. "Together. As in a couple."
Sherlock stared at him briefly, then shook his head. "No, of course not, I'm not interested in that sort of thing. It's distracting."
"I see." If it wasn't a sexual relationship Sherlock was talking about, what could it be? "Is this about your not realizing that you and John were friends?"
"I don't know that we are friends even now," Sherlock said sincerely.
Lestrade gaped at him for a moment, then huffed out a laugh that he tried to conceal as a cough. "Sherlock, don't be daft. Even Donovan knows you're friends, and she didn't believe you were capable of making friends." The other man didn't appear convinced, and Lestrade rolled his eyes. "Trust me. I have friends. You and John are friends."
"Fine, whatever. Terminology aside, I couldn't think."
With the emphasis Sherlock put on those final two words, Lestrade finally realized what it was he was going on about. "Yes, I suppose that would be something new to you," he said slowly.
"The moment I saw John, I froze. For a split second, I thought he might be him."
"Him who?" Sherlock didn't speak, but Lestrade put it together abruptly. "The mad bomber? John?"
"He showed up immediately before I first heard the name Moriarty, and it would have been a clever game to play."
"Not John, Sherlock. Never John. He's as honest as the day is long."
"I know that," Sherlock retorted, a bit of anger creeping into his tone. "Do you think I don't know that? Still, in that first few moments, with him talking about what a turn up it was for me, I wondered, but then he opened the coat and showed me the vest. I knew what had happened, I knew he'd been taken by Moriarty, and I didn't feel angry. Anger I would have expected, anger I could have used, but I what I felt was panic. I couldn't think properly. My mind was full of what a blast that size would do to John, centred on him as it was."
"That's only natural."
"For normal people, yes, but not for me." Lestrade kept his reaction internal. It seemed like a good sign to him that Sherlock was reacting to things the way normal people did, but he could see that Sherlock wouldn't agree. Lestrade was both honored and appalled to be the receiver of these confidences. Sherlock seemed to need to talk about this, and Lestrade wasn't about to cut him off. In a deadpan voice, he said, "And then he started making John say stupid, ridiculous things, and I couldn't bear it. I told him to stop. I showed that it upset me, gave Moriarty a handle.
"He already knew, Sherlock, or he wouldn't have done it."
Sherlock's jaw clenched and he looked away. "What do I do? The mere fact that I care is putting John in danger, but knowing that doesn't make me not care, nor would it help if it did. If I publicly announced that I don't like John anymore, it's not as if Moriarty would believe it."
"Not to mention it would piss John off."
"I wouldn't care about that if it would keep him safe," Sherlock retorted.
"The eagle has landed," Lestrade muttered. He'd told John that he thought Sherlock a great man with the potential to be a good one. It looked like that might be coming sooner than he'd ever anticipated.
"What?" Sherlock demanded.
"Nothing," Lestrade said hurriedly. "Tell me exactly what happened, start to finish. Leave nothing out."
Sherlock pursed his lips, and Lestrade prepared himself for a long description that would undoubtedly include things as minimal as irritating itches and pebbles underfoot. Before he could speak, however, the door opened to admit Dr. Sarah Sawyer. She glanced around the room, then focused on Sherlock. "Where's John?" she asked.
Sherlock gave her an impatient glance, clearly irritated to have his thoughts interrupted. "Room 111, but he's asleep."
"No, he's not," Sarah replied, and Sherlock's attention was abruptly riveted. "That room doesn't even look like it's in use. What's going –"
Sherlock abruptly took off across the hospital room, disappearing through the swinging door. Lestrade sat frozen for a moment, then he followed after, cursing.
Author's note: You can blame the cliffhanger (in both stories) on Calliope. She neglected to tell either of us that The Great Game ended in a cliffhanger. Yes, we are holding a grudge. Series two can't come soon enough. Now, quit reading and REVIEW! We shall be posting in tandem hence forward, btw.
P.S. For those of you who read our Supernatural fanfic, we are both still actively working on our stories. Do not panic!