A Slight Misunderstanding
In which I, John Watson, manage to accidentally convince my flatmate I'm in love with him.
(The author does not own any version of Sherlock and is making no profit from this work of fanfiction)
"Tell me, Shirley, what did you think was going to happen?" said Jim. "A man like you, with your gorgeous brain - did you think you were going to live happily ever after, in this wretched, ridiculous civilization?"
Jim gestured with the long Steyr AUG rifle he was keeping loosely aimed in our direction. I growled, just one or two steps too far away to tackle him before he shot one of us. Sherlock had my Browning but so far he hadn't raised it; perhaps he was waiting for a better angle.
"There's no place for you. You're always going to be on the outside," said Jim, "Just a brain in a jar." He was gazing at Sherlock, holding his eyes like a hypnotist. "Everybody's going to try and use you for something. Every politician, every criminal, every saint – " he barely glanced in my direction, keeping Sherlock at the center of his attention. "They all just want what you can do for them. They don't want you."
"As though that matters to me," Sherlock said scornfully. I wondered why he didn't try for a shot now, while Jim was distracted.
"That's right," Jim cooed, "for you it's all about the game. A mind like yours requires constant stimulation. But do you think any of them can understand that? No, they all belittle you behind your back, even if they're happy enough to call you when they need you."
I couldn't quite read the look in Sherlock's eyes. "You're not really listening to this, are you?" I demanded.
"Quiet, Pet, we'll get to you next," said Jim. His focus never wavered away from Sherlock, and I couldn't judge to what degree the words were affecting him.
"Do you think anyone but me can value the way you deserve?" Jim reached out to set a hand on Sherlock's shoulder, still talking in the same low, intimate tone. "Nobody can ever really understand you but me."
"Nobody else will ever want you," he continued, relentless, "nobody will ever love you – nobody."
"Sherlock, it's not true," I said, knowing I might get shot for it; "I love you."
It didn't come out right.
I meant it in the general sense, you know, like brothers; and certainly I loved Sherlock, as a good friend and a man that I had come to admire immensely. But even I have to admit, spoken out loud it sounded … different.
I blame the culture, myself. A man can't honestly love another man without it being all – you know – queer, or whatever. I just meant, I love him.
But Sherlock turned to look at me, his eyes bright with curiosity. "You love me?"
"Oh come off it, a man will say anything when he's about to die," snorted Jim.
"Do you mean it?" asked Sherlock. It looked like I may have actually surprised him, for once.
Wordlessly, I nodded. Well, in for a penny, etc …
"You're mad," said Jim, perhaps sensing this conversation was getting away from him. "You're letting the monkey distract you. Here, I'll take care of it for you - "
He raised the rifle in my direction, and I knew in that moment that he was going to shoot me, and there was nothing I could do about it. I turned my head and felt my entire body tense in preparation for the pain. Then at the last minute, I turned back; if this was death, I wanted to see it coming this time.
Without blinking, Sherlock turned and fired; the bullet sunk deep in Moriarty's skull. Although I have been a doctor and a soldier, I had to look away from the sight of brains splattered across the sidewalk.
"Well," said Sherlock, with no visible change of expression. He reached rather gingerly for my hand, and tucked it under his elbow. "Shall we go back to the flat, then?"
I could feel my heart-rate, steady and solid in my ears: you're alive, you're alive. "Sherlock …" I breathed.
"Yes John, rather quickly now, before the police show up, eh?" He tugged me along, and - like always - I followed behind him in his wake.
It was late and we were far from the main road: it would be hours before we could catch a cab, hours of trailing after Sherlock through the warren of London's backstreets. I was bushed, absolutely knackered. We had both almost been killed, again. Jim Moriarty was dead. I may have accidentally convinced my flatmate I was in love with him.
And still, like an idiot, I followed him.
Of course I did.