I see two men. Two men, like brothers, not in blood but in bond. Sherlock Holmes 2009
John was riding the high that only came when he was in his element: performing a difficult surgery while natives were shooting at him, or, more recently, running after the latest criminal Sherlock had pursued into their underworld.
It had gotten to the point where even surgery, which used to thrill him, used to make the blood sing in his veins, was nothing, nothing compared to the sensation he felt when he pounded after yet another scoundrel, chasing them through the dim and grimy streets of London.
He was grateful for the turn his life had taken just a scant few months ago. After Afghanistan, he'd come back to a London that held no family and few friends, a London that he didn't want to be in because he desperately wanted to be back in the desert for a chance to finish his career more honorably than a bullet in the shoulder.
He will never understand what Sherlock sees in him, or why the detective seems to think that he was worthy enough to bring along on cases, to give his two cents in front of the Yard and other important people. After all, he was just a doctor, and though he was a good trauma surgeon he wasn't world class and he certainly didn't have the brain Sherlock had.
But he'd been taught not to look a gift horse in the mouth (or, as his great aunt used to say, 'never sniff a gift fish') and so he'd just gone along with it these months, taking up lodgings with Holmes and accompanying him around London, and if a date or two got ruined by his flat mate's quest for the hunt…well, it was a small price to pay for the feeling of being needed, or at least tolerated, again.
This particular case was nothing extraordinary. No Moriarty pulling the strings, just a simple case of a serial killer who thought he was smarter than the police. He'd murdered four men and two women in under a fortnight. And he would kill again, for indeed he was smarter than the police.
He just wasn't smarter than Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock himself was not running through the streets alongside John. After three days of pursuing the case with little sleep and less food, John had quietly passed out while Sherlock was interrogating one of the victim's family members. He'd woken to Sherlock's disappointed face and the command to get back to Baker Street and rest. He'd gone, feeling thoroughly embarrassed, and had woken up from his nap after a large lunch to a text message from Sherlock.
41 MARCH STREET. ANOTHER WITNESS. LEARN ALL YOU CAN.
The message was more succinct than was usual even for Sherlock, and John had felt the color rise to his cheeks. He'd been so proud for the small part he'd played in Sherlock's cases, and now it seemed that he was just a nuisance. He grabbed his coat and headed out the door, determined that he would not mess up this small task.
The man waiting for him at March Street proved to be more uncooperative than John had hoped, and ran out the door when John started asking questions about the murders. A clear sign of guilt, and John wasn't going to let his still-pounding headache or fatigue stop him from pursuing what could be the information that would break the case.
He left his coat in the man's flat, though, and therefore could not possibly see Sherlock's latest text message, urging him to stay away from the murderer whose door he'd just told him to knock on.
It was while racing after the man that was a murderer, though John didn't know it, that the doctor had time to think on the fact that he was becoming steadily addicted to the chase. He was pursuing a witness, and that witness had information that would lead to another part of the puzzle, which would lead to another part, until there were enough pieces in place that the mind made that leap of faith and everything clicked, and the pieces were no longer jagged and unrelated at all but merely small parts of a larger whole.
He loved those eureka moments, when the slow smile would spread over Sherlock's face an instant before John made the same connection and his mouth opened wide, his eyes popping as he clenched a fist in triumph.
He was thinking about those glorious moments when the man suddenly stopped dead, turned around, and used the momentum John still had to knock the doctor off his feet.
Now John Watson is no lightweight. He'd sparred with military men and won, and was known at university for his prodigious wrestling skills, but he hadn't eaten in three days and had just run almost a mile at full speed. The punch had come out of nowhere, and once John was on the ground there was no way to avoid the fists and jabs.
And then the knife came out.
This was what John Watson didn't know and Sherlock Holmes had just figured out: there had been two men involved in all those murders that had gone on in the past two weeks. One chose the victims and came up with the perfect time to strike so that there would be no witnesses, the other actually did the dirty deed.
Lestrade and the New Scotland Yard had found the first guy, a mousy fellow who lived in a dingy flat surrounded by computers and comic books. He'd given up his partner within seconds.
But that didn't help John much, because the man, who was surely a maniac off his meds, had already jabbed him in the stomach.
"A nice slow way to die. That's what you get for trying to stop us. We can't be stopped!" The man crowed over John's yell of agony as he desperately tried to press at the wound. His hands, however, were grasped by the murderer who held them in such a grip that that pain began to compete with the terrifying throb of his stomach as it pumped out his life's blood.
"You're a doctor, ain't you? I see you at Barts. A surgeon. Stitch up people who've been in accidents and the like." John snarled and fought, his movements getting weaker as the puddle around him grew.
"Well you can't be a surgeon without those pretty fingers, can you?"
John fought desperately to hang onto consciousness. After all, this wasn't the barbaric dessert, it was a crowded city, and surely someone must hear his yells. But when the knife sliced open his palm he found that he couldn't scream anymore. It was like all the breath left his body as the river of blood began to slide down his wrist, down his arm.
Once before, John had thought that his career as a doctor might be over. Back in university he'd gone to the lake with some athlete mates and they spent most of the winter holidays skating. He was twenty at the time, high on life and assured in his own immortality, as many young men are at that age. When one of his friends, a slight dark boy called Matt, slid through the ice, John plunged in after him. By the time he'd found the other boy unconscious and floating downstream, he'd been caught up in the current himself. He latched onto a branch and managed to get Matt to safety by hoisting the dead weight up onto a more secure ledge of ice, but then the tide ripped him away again and he dunked under the freezing water again and again and again.
He'd woken up in the hospital on Christmas day. Another daring rescue had been attempted by another young man with delusions of immortality, and this time all parties had gotten out of the current alive. But the doctors there had been fearful that his extremities, especially his cut and frozen hands, would be permanently damaged by the adventure.
They'd been wrong then, and John's desire to be a doctor had increased tenfold after his extended stay at the hospital. But would he really be lucky enough to avoid permanent injury again? But then, he was bleeding out. Bleeding on the cold asphalt in a dirty back alley. He, a war hero who had survived terrorists and revolutionaries, would be taken down by a such a useless belly wound...
And suddenly John remembered the look of disappointment in Sherlock's eyes when he realized that the person he'd picked as his colleague was not up to snuff, could not survive on the hunt alone. He remembered the burning shame as he was sent away like a disobedient child. And here he was letting Sherlock down again.
The knife moved closer to his thumb, about to cut off the finger entirely, but John was lost in a world of red pain and was able only to make the smallest movements of protest. Oh, Sherlock would be disappointed…
He sank deeper into the blackness then, and was giving up on hope of life entirely – the streets were cruel, the people ignorant of or ignoring his pleas for help, and, really, there was not many in the world to miss him if he just succumbed to the easy, pain-free darkness. Sarah, perhaps, and a few colleagues at the hospital, but in a year they wouldn't even be able to recall his name. He was too honest to believe that Sherlock would ever miss him. Probably the consulting detective would just find his death a terrible inconvenience.
How he wished he could have wrapped up this last case…
And then the knife was gone, the thumb unsevered, but John was too far gone, too worried about the blood leaking from his stomach, to notice or care much about this small reprieve. It was only when strong, wiry arms grasped his shoulders and he yelled in pain as his whole body was jarred that he realized he was not being manhandled by a murderer.
"Sh—Sherlock!" But he couldn't manage more than that. The darkness was calling him, and it promised an existence free from the throbbing agony he was living in now. Still, he had to implore the man one last favor. "He's getting away!" This last bit was a whisper, and John Watson realized he was dying. He didn't care much.
Sherlock didn't move, and John tightened his grip. "Sherlock, he's getting away." His words were unbroken, but they were merely a breath. He found it suddenly difficult to string his thoughts together. "The case…"
"Hang the case!" Came a fierce exclamation, and John winced at the sound.
John balled one hand in a fist. His bleeding, ruined hand he found, to his surprise, was wrapped in Sherlock's favorite scarf. "I'm sorry he got away, Sherlock."
"Stop talking about useless things, you need to conserve your strength." There were more words after that, spoken quickly and concisely into a telephone, but John couldn't focus on those sounds. The world was turning red and fuzzy, and even the wound in his belly wasn't even hurting all that much anymore.
"I'm sorry I let you down, Sherlock." John said conversationally. He even managed to pitch these words above a whisper. Nothing hurt anymore. "Hopefully your next assistant will be more qualified."
"Nonsense, John, it's just a flesh wound. And you could hardly have been expected to fend off a crazed serial killer that got the jump on you."
"Not quite an 'I'm-sorry-for-sending-you-to-a-murderer-without-telling-you' but I'll take it." Now the blackness wasn't black but a brilliant, warm white, and John felt every muscle in his body relax. Death wasn't so bad. Harry would survive, though she might take up drinking again. Mrs. Hudson would no doubt fuss around Sherlock, but surely Holmes didn't need him, not really. John counted him as a friend, a good friend, but he was almost certain that Sherlock would not say the same in return.
"Don't you dare die, John Watson!" Came a voice from above, but the matter was out of his hands now, wasn't it? And the light looked so warm, so inviting, that he felt himself slipping towards it, pausing only long enough to hear Sherlock say, his voice shaking with something almost like emotion, "What would I do without my blogger? What would I do without you, John?"
Sherlock would figure it out, though. He was a genius, after all. John was just upset that he'd let Sherlock down…
The end, maybe. maybe one more chapter of sherlock telling john what an idiot he is to think sherlock doesn't care for him. either way, reviews are much appreciated.