Death is not the greatest loss. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
I had seen a lot of death in my lifetime. Far too much. Way too much. Being an army soldier people used to assume that the constant companion of a soldier was death. They were wrong. Death is merely an obstacle, one that you learn to avoid if you have the right skills and intelligence. No, the constant companion is fear.
That gut-wrenching fear. The kind that makes your stomach turn and your palms sweaty, but now as I stood here holding the gun that would end his life I felt the fear creeping back to haunt me.
I had thought that when I got back from Afghanistan the fear would die. It would slowly fade away into nothingness and at first when fear disappeared I was glad for it to be gone. But slowly, very slowly, the boredom replaced it.
I hated it.
I was astonished, baffled in fact, to find that I missed the fear and the danger so when I was given the chance to escape the boredom of course I took it with both hands.
But then as I aimed the gun at his head I almost, almost, wished that I had turned down the offer. That I still walked around with a limp and that I lived in a small flat buying groceries and watching crap day time telly.
When I was about 11 I had always believed that dying was the worst thing that could ever happen to anybody and I always felt sad when I heard that on the news someone else had died. But when I joined the army my view of that changed completely.
I realised that there was something worse than death, something much worse.
Being a survivor when those who you love and know die.
That is the worst thing. I watched my good friends die every day on the battlefield and I would always feel a rush of overwhelming sadness when I would see their old bed lie empty and unused, and when the sergeant would come and clean away all of their old belongings.
Being left behind, quite simply, is horrible.
Because once you're dead, that's it. You might go to Heaven or you might go to Hell, you might change into another being depending on how you've lived your last life or you might just stay in the ground, rotting away or scattered across a piece of land that held significance in your life. It doesn't matter, whatever happens, the point is you're still dead.
But for those who are left behind, they are the ones that suffer the most. They are the ones whose dreams are filled with blood and tissues and endless faces of people you just couldn't save in time. They are the ones whose tears roll down in the night when they pray nobody can see. They are the ones who sometimes can't continue to bear the weight of a friend's death any longer.
Being a doctor is tough work, because you are, initially, just prolonging the inevitable. Just trying to hold off what will happen for a while longer.
Being an army doctor is even worse. In hospital if a doctor loses his patient he has time to recover. Time to just take a breather before moving onto the next patient. It's not like that on the battlefield. If you don't manage to save a soldier on the battlefield then you have to run. You have to either try and drag them with you or you run for your own life.
I'd been dragged away from a dying man so many times during the course of my Army career, simply because I refused to give up on people.
I lifted my gaze up to the black eyes that had not stopped staring at me since he had handed me the gun and saw no sadistic excitement that I had expected, just pure evil. His look was not filled with pity or happiness at my situation, his eyes were bored and they seemed to tell me 'I told you this what happen if you didn't stop looking,'
I scanned the dingy room quickly with my eyes. It was damp and dark with only one window and one door. I knew, because Moriarty had told me, that the shack was directly above the Thames and if I shot a hole in the floor, we would all fall in and die. Right now that seemed the best option.
"Well come on Sonny Boy, I don't have all day you know," he drawled "You know places to go, people to kill," he grinned at me and I spat at the floor by his feet.
"Don't," Sherlock warned and I turned back to face him, the gun still pointed at his head.
I didn't have the brains of Sherlock, and because of this I could not see a way out for any of us. I swallowed and tried to bring moisture back into my mouth.
"Oh for the love of Pete, COME ON!" Moriarty roared and I flinched at the noise "Choose. Your dear good friend Sherlock Holmes or Ian Davies,"
I let my eyes fall on the shaking man who was knelt on the floor on the left of Moriarty, whilst Sherlock was on the left.
"Why?" I asked clearly, my voice echoing slightly in the room. Moriarty's eyes lifted up to mine and a manic grin flickered across his face.
"Why?" he echoed and I nodded. "Why what?"
"Why are you making me choose?" I asked him, trying to keep him talking. Trying to prolong my decision, anything to keep him talking.
"Because I can," he answered with a small smile. And that smile, that knowing evil smile scared me more than anything else.
"Please…." Ian whimpered and my heart went out to the man I didn't know. He was being held at gunpoint and he had never done anything wrong.
"Why Ian?" I asked slowly and watched as Moriarty lifted his hand and rubbed it across Ian's head softly.
"He's bald," Moriarty replied and the answer alone made me want to vomit.
"You chose to endanger his life because he's bald?" I asked rhetorically and Moriarty laughed.
"Yes. I had a school teacher who used to pick on me because I was truly awful at games. He was bald," Moriarty answered and then he patted the top of Ian's head.
"You look an awful lot like him. But then I suppose that's not your fault. So I should just let you go…." He trailed off thoughtfully for a moment "But I won't. Because this is just so much fun," he giggled and I rolled my eyes.
The gun was heavy in my hands and I could see Sherlock eyeing it warily which made me slightly annoyed. I had handled a gun a lot more times than he had, and yet he still expected me to shoot him by accident.
"Look Army boy if you don't choose soon, I'll just make the decision for you," he said and clicked his fingers. Two red dots appeared on both men's bodies and Ian gave a strangled cry as he looked down at his body, whilst Sherlock looked calm. Bored even.
As the red dot travelled up Ian's body to his head I fired at shot through the ceiling and Moriarty stared at me coolly as I bought the gun down to point the gun at him.
He pushed his hands into his pockets and sniffed.
"Go on then, shoot me," he dared "Let's see what happens after that,"
I sighed and bought the gun down to my side a minute before lifting my head and looking him levelly in the eye.
"I've decided," I said firmly and Ian started to cry harder.
"Oh goody," Moriarty said clapping his hands together "Took you long enough. So Doctor John Watson. Take your pick,"
I aimed the gun for Sherlock's head and a brief look of surprise flashed across his face before I turned the gun and pointed it at myself.
It all happened rather quickly after that. I remember Moriarty telling me that I wasn't allowed to do that but I ignored him and began to pull the trigger. I remember him running towards me, I remember us wrestling over the gun, I remember Sherlock yelling my name, I remember seeing Ian run from the room and to safety, I vaguely remember hearing police sirens.
I remember the gunshot.
I remember the pain.
"Oh you idiot, you are such an idiot John, just a massive fat idiot," Sherlock breathed, his arm supporting my body as lots of random police officers swarmed the room.
"Couldn't-kill-you," I choked out and Sherlock shook his head "Or-Ian,"
"You know why that is? Because you try to be a hero John. This is what happens when you care for people John, you end up being shot," I breathed out a laugh but Sherlock seemed to not hear me "Couldn't you see me texting in my pocket? Couldn't you see the slight hand movements? All you had to do was keep him talking whilst the police arrived. Not shoot yourself," he complained and I shifted in his arms.
"Hurts," I whispered and Sherlock's face constricted in an odd expression I had never seen before and his arm tightened around my body.
"The ambulance is coming John, just erm hold on until they get here," he informed me, his eyes asking if he said it right and I nodded and closed my eyes.
"No don't do that John, don't close your eyes," he shook me and my eyes flew open.
"Why the hell not?" I grumbled so quietly even I could barely hear it. The corners of Sherlock's mouth twitched upwards before he became serious.
"If you keep your eyes open, I can tell that you're definitely alive," he replied and I stared at him for a minute before forcing my eyes to stay open.
It was only a few minutes before the ambulance arrived and I was lifted into it. The paramedics were saying words that normally I would understand but at that moment, they were just noises. I began to feel really faint and although I tried I couldn't tell if this was my body shutting down or just going into a sleep to give me rest as it tried to heal.
The last thing I heard was Sherlock's worried scream of my name before it all went black.
Review please! My first Sherlock fic. Was it awful? Okay?