Okay….I'm doing it. I dare to write a fanfic of significant length from Sherlock's point of view. And it's angsty. It's a double challenge! (Not to mention I'm listening to Odd Nordstoga as I do this. He's the most non-angsty Norwegian singer in the world. Way to wreck the mood, Odd).
John is upstairs, screaming.
I don't bother to wake him from the nightmare he's no doubt having; it just leads to an awkward thanks, and his inevitable feelings of inadequacy. The latter stems from him once asking me if I dream about the pool incident as well, and me saying no. Not that I would reveal it to him, but I've found that if I don't sleep, I have no need to experience nightmares.
I've thus far avoided sleep for four days, courtesy of Lestrade's unexciting cases (which are boring, but not as dreary as doing nothing), and deliberately overdosing on my nicotine patches. From all the research I've done, I have two more days before my body can't hold out any longer, and I'll begin to hallucinate, my temporal and parietal lobes will begin to malfunction, and my comprehension performance will suffer drastically. My body will begin to break down as well, but that's dull. My hopes are that I'll be able to obtain some sedative-hypnotic drugs by then so I may sleep deeply enough that my REM cycle won't allow me to dream.
But until I can sleep the rest of the drug-addled, I'm forced to do the tedious, mundane, normal things people do when they can't sleep. Such as watch crap telly.
"Come on…the principles of Minkowski's function could tell you that the money's in case number four…" I growl at the idiot on the show. I truly believe the producers of these shows purposefully choose the most hopeless dullards they can find to be cast.
I was so absorbed in the idiocy of the show, I nearly missed the vibrating of my phone beside me. Halfheartedly I reach for it, hoping that it's a murder, or something from Lestrade more exciting than this monotony, but a quick glance at the caller I.D. reveals something far more mysterious. Number withheld.
Interesting. Entertaining, in fact. In something close to excitement, I flip open my phone to view the message received.
The crowd cheering on the telly blares on, but I'm unable to focus on it. On the screen in front of me is as picture far more worthy to captivate my attention. It's disconcerting, it's horrifying, and it's disturbing. It's John.
More specifically than that, it's a picture of John lying in his bed right now. It's obviously tonight, seeing as this is the first night he's found the weather cool enough to wear only boxers to bed. It's obviously now, because John is coverless in this picture, and he always kicks off his sheets around one a.m. It is currently 1:05.
This itself is enough for me to want to rush up the stairs and to John's window to see who had dared to take a picture of him, but I know that whoever it was would be far gone by the time I reached the room. I force myself to look at the text following the picture. Immediately, I wish I had not.
Such a lovely man. It's a shame he has to get burned.
There's more, but it only the worst words jump out at me: scorch, singe, smolder.
I don't need a signature to know who this is from. For all that my mind races through, at this moment I know but one thing. Moriarty, for all the disturbing threats he may send, will not lay a hand on John.
Ironically, I now crave for the tedium of Lestrade's cases, and spectacularly foolish telly. From the reading of the text on, my night is spent deep in thought, schemes running through my never-stilled mind. I take it upon myself to form designs to protect John, controlling and creating initiatives of defense. One sole question haunts my mental pursuit: what must I do to have John safe from Moriarty?
It's impossible for me to measure time when I'm locked away in my mind, but even I can sense hours have passed since I first channeled off into thought. There is only one thing that has called me forth from the depths of my mind. I have found an answer to the dilemma, the answer to my quandary. Moriarty told me when we met face to face that he would burn my heart. This night he has warned me he will try to burn John. There is only one thing I can do now, one course of action that comes as the result of all the evidence. I will no longer have John as my heart.
He may not understand what I must do, but I will fulfill my duty even so. I must turn John away from me. I must drive him away; make him detest me so that he cannot bear to be with me one more day. It is only in this way he will not be a path in Moriarty's way to me.
John notices that I'm keeping him in the flat more than normal. He's not dumb; he also notes the increased agitation and frustration directed at him. He just lacks knowledge on why I'm so bothered, and I intend to keep it that way. As long as he believes tension is building between us, the more convincing it will be when the time comes for me to direct the breaking point.
I once heard that it's the little things that count, so I make modest moves to decay our relationship. I leave John behind on cases, leaving no forwarding information with any of the task force. I ask him if he'll get the milk a few too many times, directing him to run back to the shop for nicotine patches moments upon returning. I direct all of Mycroft's requests unto my doctor. I send him on double-shifts at work to keep up payment for our flat. I badmouth Sarah, whilst implying he couldn't strive for any better: "because in this day and age, video game testers are the lawyers and doctors of the future, John. I wonder where that leaves you...". I constantly berate his blog (though I'd insult it without a prompting from Moriarty).
John just accepts all that I say with his calm exterior, but it doesn't take a genius like myself to notice his patience wearing thin. My next move is tactful, I engage him in pointless arguments, debates that only I can victor in.
"Why don't you ever come up with an original thought?"
"At crime scenes- you only bother to repeat or rephrase what Lestrade or I say. Why don't you ever come up with your own ideas instead of plagiarizing others?"
"Where the hell did that come from? I just asked why you've got vials of blood and various caged spiders on the counter."
"Hardly novel. You sound more like a little Donovan clone every day."
These little bickerings keep amassing. I started out struggling to fit one in a week, but I've managed to amount up to three daily. They're all such trivial things, too, ranging from John's jumper-wearing habits to why the doctor sides with society on the impropriety of me bringing a skull with me as I walk London's streets.
Weeks go by. I finally have to stop being so trifling and commit to a personal blow.
"It's appalling how you could stay sane in Afghanistan. Did you enjoy it there? Plenty of opportunity for gore-mongering, I suppose."
This argument doesn't even require Jon's to retort specifically to what I've just said. There's been enough of a buildup over the past few days that he can speak his mind straight.
"You know what people keep telling me, but you keep pushing it."
"What do people say?" I fake an air of superiority. "I tend to delete the things that don't matter."
The regret is evident in his eyes now. "'Stay away from Sherlock Holmes', they say. 'Sherlock doesn't have friends'. 'One day he'll be the one we're after'. 'He's a psychopath'. 'You'll be sorry for this, John!'." At this point he takes a deep breath and looks me in the eye. Then he utters the words I had been striving to make him say.
"I can't take it anymore, Sherlock."
And with that, John Watson, my good doctor, friend, and flatmate, walked out of 221B Baker Street, and forever out of my life.
Or at least, that's what I would have wanted. Reality is far too cruel and complicated to allow that. No, John's relationship with Lestrade (courtesy of me) had the DI ringing him up for every case, having him provide the medical consul. Perhaps it's Lestrade's passive way of reaping revenge on me for all I've put him through these past five years. He knows something's up between John and me- he'd have to be blind not to- but he rabbits on at every case as if nothing's changed between John and I, as if we're still the colleges who giggle as they walk away from the occasional crime scene.
Giggling is the farthest thing from my mind at this point. There's no possible way I can convince Moriarty of John's and my falling out if John keeps up doing little things for me; supporting my analysis's from Anderson's attacks, bringing me tea after a long chase, and calling cabbies for me when I'm so tired I couldn't raise my arm to summon them if I tried.
And yet he persists in those little things to show his devotion to me- his accursed devotion! He's like a puppy that's been kicked and is walking soft-footed around its master, waiting to be picked up and forgiven for whatever it had done wrong.
I can't grant that forgiveness. John has done nothing wrong. The wrongdoing is mine, and it's the only thing that could save him. And right now, saving him will take far worse than the petty distaste I've been displaying now.
I have to find the one thing that will drive John away from me forever.
My opportunity comes soon enough. The task force, John, and I have found ourselves in the back rooms of any ordinary office building; the only oddity being the strange assortment of femurs cleverly organized by size. We are utterly stumped as to where to go from here.
Oh, wait. Did I say we? I meant they. What's in the taskforce's heads, other than echoing, hollow space?
After a quick scan of the layout, I grace them with my analysis. "It was the shopkeeper- the one we interrogated first."
"But the janitor's the only one who has the keys-" one of the dullards dares to contradict me. Before he can finish, I spin around on him, forced to finish my observations.
"That would be what you think, wouldn't it? But did you even see the shopkeeper's leg? Left one, slightly shorter than the right. The knees were at separate heights, showing that he has one fibula shorter than the other. Next, behind the counter was a bottle of pills. Pink, square, an uncommon combination- schizophrenia medication. The date on the bottle- nearly a year old. He hasn't taken his medication in months, the delusions have caught up with him, and he's reacted dangerously to civilians. Your man is caught."
It was simple enough deducing- there had even been some other clues, so miniscule they weren't even worth mentioning to the force- but for some reason all the men just looked on at me, as if they were frightened by my accuracy. Well, all but one man.
With a chuckle, John turned to the policeman closest to him. "Thank God we have Sherlock with us!"
All the sudden, my chance came to me.
In a voice I hardly recognized as my own, I hissed out something so distasteful, I nearly gagged on its vileness.
The squad froze, disbelieving to what I had just said, yet I continued.
"You naive little simpleton. Can you even hear what you're saying? 'Thank God we have Sherlock with us'. Oh, let's all toady up to the genius, knowing we can't make it on our own. You know what it's like to be inadequate, don't you, doctor? You've failed so many times before, in your sad little life back in Afghanistan, and now that you've decided to move on to a new place, you're still determined to foul everything you touch up, aren't you? I suppose in your dull, idiotic mind you think you're actually helping around here, don't you?"
John freezes, refusing to accept what I have just said, waiting like I'm going to add a comment at the end to redeem him like I've done so many times in the past. I stay silent. Moments later, it dawns on him that I'm not dolling out accolades, and he really has become the butt of my irritation. A stony look shadows his face as he takes a step forward, challenging me.
"Even if I'm not helping, at least I go out of my way to recognize others. I don't strut around like a god, too important to stoop down to interact with the mortals."
This is perfect, the crescendo of the hateful orchestra I've been conducting, but even yet I can't let John get the last word; to do so would be a sacrifice, a weakness to Moriarty.
"It's better than walking among the mortals, misguided enough to think that I'm of equal value."
We stand head to head, neither one of us willing to back down. I find that I must end our confrontation now, or I might do something foolish, something that would undo the hurt I've caused.
"Good bye, John."
I don't know how I was able to put such exasperation into my voice, but seeing as it worked, I have no right to complain. I've never seen John so livid before, and I must consider how I'd rather have his face contorted with rage rather than pain.
He doesn't say a word as he leaves. I don't think I could bear it if he did.
Days pass without speaking to John. He stops by the flat to pick up his things a day after our falling out, telling the walls that he's staying with Sarah for the time being. I tell my skull that John better not show up at any more cases, no matter how many times Lestrade calls him. The doctor gets the point. I get satisfaction. John's likely breaking inside, but he's safe.
Meanwhile, my life becomes increasingly hollow. My skull doesn't respond to my wit with snide quips, doesn't resort to sarcasm. The walls don't take up unnecessary space, don't use the couch as a last-minute bed. The various body parts I store in the refrigerator don't run to fetch groceries for me, don't make tea or pick up my patches. My cell phone doesn't reply in annoyance to my requests, doesn't tell me to piss off when I'm being too smug for my own good.
It's a good thing that there's a purpose to our separation, or I'd begin to think I enjoy torturing myself like this.
Bored. Deathly, deadly, dully bored. The smiling spray-painted face on the wall taunts me as I lie prone on the couch. John's lucky his pistol's across the room-
No, it's not. It's over at Sarah's, along with its owner.
I groan and roll onto my side. No amount of dull cases from Lestrade could ease my ennui now.
Somehow though, through all my dreariness, I feel a sort of ecstasy course through my veins; it's more languid than the cocaine I used to infuse, and it flows like nectar from my hard-labored fruits. It's the knowledge that my transgressions have brought John safety. Perhaps years from now, when Moriarty no longer has a place in this world, I'll be able to confess to John the true purpose of my cruelty.
My phone beeps. Lestrade probably, the overworked fool. I work myself into a slouching position, hardly eager to waste energy on turning down another request. My eyes glaze as I glance at the caller I.D.
It's John's number.
Immediately, alertness strikes me and I flip open the phone. It may place my doctor further into the line of risk, but I'm willing to chance that to text him, even if it has to be angered banter.
John's words don't measure any sense on the first reading, or the scan after that. Has John decided to surface some age-old joke between us? Is he quoting one of the obscure movies he's forced me to watch during the late hours of 'normal day' stretches?
Suddenly, the pixels and my thought crystallize together as I look over the message once more.
A good actor can always tell when others are faking.
The message isn't from John.
Moriarty has John's phone. Moriarty has John.
In a dazed horror, I click on the photo attachment my realization brought me to see. Somehow, I know what it is before the image even loads. It's disturbing, it's horrifying, and it brings bile to my throat. It's John.
John, bound and gagged, bruised and bleeding, back at the pool where he first placed his life on the line against Moriarty.
My phone clatters the floor as I begin to retch. From the blurred details the picture allowed, I can make alarming deductions of what's been done to John. If my limited medical knowledge is enough to draw on, I can only hope that he can survive the time it takes me to get to him.
I spill off of the couch, my mission forming in my mind as I go, overshadowing the trivial knowledge that regularly floats around in my head. I must get to John.
I don't make it further than a few paces before I collapse against the wall, my heaving finally bringing up my last meal. I only let my nausea hinder me for a moment; the instant I know my reflex is over I'm moving again, out the door and down the steps.
I stumble out into the street, call a taxi through my daze. One picks me up. I collapse in.
"Where to?" An older man questions. I recite the address of the pool, and he pulls off. My hands tremble as they search my pockets for my phone. Lestrade needs to send some police down to the pool; Moriarty might try leaving a surprise there for me.
Finding no phone, I remember inconveniently dropping it back at the flat. For the first time I look my cabbie in the eye.
"Lend me your phone."
He doesn't trust me. No wonder, seeing that I smell of vomit, shake like a junkie, and demand his personal artifacts for my own use.
He passes back his phone.
With the speed of someone who's dialed the police a few too many times, my fingers flit across the numbers. Impatiently, I mutter as my call rings and rings and rings through, until...
"D.I. Lestrade speaking. If I may ask, whoever's calling, why the hell you're ringing so late on a private line-"
"It's Sherlock." I cut in before Lestrade can go off on a tangent. "I need some of your men at the pool- the same one as before. Moriarty has John, and may have something planned for me as well."
"So you want my boys to take the hurt from this Moriarty you've been up against-"
"He'll be gone." I interrupt. "Just make sure he leaves everything clean."
I shut the phone before Lestrade can protest further. He's too good of a man to not show up unless he's argued his way out first, and I'm far too impatient to argue now. I refuse to argue, too impatient as I watch the buildings pass by, thinking they're going past much too slow.
"Sir." I hiss, drawing forth my driver's attention. "You perhaps may be the first cabby I've encountered who refuses to break a single traffic law."
My comment brings a proud smile to the man's face.
"I want you to change that. Now."
Ah, that was the key. Or perhaps the twenty pound note I held out was the trick. Either way, my mission was accomplished, as the cab moves at a much faster pace. And, I note with satisfaction, two red light are run. Good. I'm minutes closer to John.
I'm so obsessed with the speed at which the car moves that I'm almost surprised when the tires come to a squealing stop. Before the vehicle stops rolling I'm out, pleasantly surprised by the sight of police lights blocks behind me. I'm mere steps away when the gruff voice of my cabbie summons me back.
"But my fee!"
Without a pause in my stride I toss back my wallet. I haven't the faintest if it makes it to the cab; if the man wants it bad enough he'll get out himself.
Every step closer to the building before me quickens my pace. Soon enough I'm in a sprint; miles ahead of Lestrade and his men, still climbing out of their cars. I bust through the great doors, following the halls I took months ago to the scene where John nearly lost his life to Moriarty.
I would so hate to see that this time he succeeded.
I nearly freeze at the double doors leading to the swimming pool, afraid at what I'll see behind it. The heavy-soled thuds of boots behind me though strengthens my resolve- I have a emotionless reputation to uphold, after all- and I thrust my arms forward, sending the panel s apart with a grand crash.
The sight I see repels me and rewards with the same sight.
It rewards me because there I see John: strapped to a chair, bruised and bloody. Yet breathing. Alive.
It repels me because, dear Lord, I see John: strapped to a chair, bruised and bloody. I wish he weren't breathing. How much pain is he in now, just being alive?
My foot falls down in a slowed step. Are those knife wounds on his arms? Of course they are. No other bladed weapon creates an angled cut while retaining that shallow indentation. My left foot soon follows. Why does his face look so black? The blood vessels in the face are closer to the surface. Striking them with enough pressure without breaking the skin will cause the veins to rupture, the blood coagulates and deepens in pigment directly under the epidermal layer. I'm next to John. What has Moriarty done to him?
For once, I wish I don't have all the answers.
"John?" I don't know how to call his attention. I don't even know if he can hear me, his head hanging low, eyes half-open, vacantly staring at the tile at his feet. "John, if you don't answer me, I'm going to find this whole thing very dull, and am going to deem rescuing you not worth my time. So hurry this up, then."
Perhaps trying to shock him into responding ended up being a bit too harsh, judging by the disbelieving muttering coming from the first policemen to enter behind me. There are places to keep up my cold demeanor, but this isn't one of them. I immediately adapt a softer tone, even trying to put some dull, mundane, warmth into it.
"John, you need to respond to me. I know that may be difficult, seeing that you're possibly in post-traumatic shock now, but seeing that we don't have any orange blankets around, you'll have to push that aside and let me know how you're feeling."
My appeal to reason catches hold of something. A spark catches into his eye and he blinks. His mouth opens and closes slowly, figuring out how to move again. At last, he answers.
"Alive?" The blindingly obvious has always been John's specialty. "That's apparent, but we don't know for how long. Can you remember what Moriarty did? Any, oh, I don't know, fatal injuries I need to be told of right away?"
John glances up to me, making eye contact for the first time. And for this first time, I see something in his eyes, something almost like a look of defeat, except it isn't, because this is John Watson, who never gets that look, even after all he's gone through with me.
"Nothing he did hurt me."
Factually, that's false, as evidenced by the way he winces at every motion; at every word. But I know what he's really saying, what his word choice is revealing.
"What did he say to you?"
That's the key. John's horrified, but I can't be certain. It's quite difficult to distinguish one foreign emotion from another on a face as marred as his is.
"He-" he begins to answer, but a raspy cough worked its way through John's chest, forcing itself out. When he finally worked the biting choke out he answered, fighting through every word.
"Moriarty kept telling me how much you hated me, taunting me with things that happened. He kept saying that you worked so hard to avoid me, that you insulted me not just because it was true, but because you really hated me. That being with me pains you- you'd rather have me dead then have to tolerate me any longer."
A look comes over John's face, one that I can't identify. He seems to reminisce as he finishes. "But every time he would ask me if I would accept the facts, I said no. I said anything you did was for the best-that you had to do hard things for my own good. That you cared."
Something stings in my eyes, and I fight to keep my voice steady. "And you truly believe that?" With my question, John's face softens before he answers.
With that utterance, his gaze turned away from me. "But I had to try. I had to hold on to that. Without it, there wasn't any way I could have kept listening."
"John..." I can sense the tension from the policemen in the room, but I force myself to ignore them and focus on the most pressing issue. "You don't-"
I can't finish what I want to say when I can hardly believe what I've just heard. I refuse to believe what I've just heard. "John, you damned fool, look at me!" I order. "You're my blogger, for God's sake! You can't just mope around when Moriarty plays his cards! Stop being such a prat and listen!"
But no matter how much I prompted, no matter how I tried to align myself into his sight, he stayed tight-lipped, averting his eyes from me.
Moriarty was clever. He had found a way to make me burn my own heart. He had orchestrated my every move; played my hand to direct the knife, arranged my incision, and had watched me light the match and set it in. Through my imprudence, he had won our game, and I -the genius without a heart, emotion, or companion- was forced the penalty.
I love it (and am quite flattered) when people add my stories as favorites; however, I love it even more when people stop and review! Even a quick 'that's nice' really lifts my spirits, so if you have the time, I'd appreciate it. Even when my story's are as angsty as this. I really don't know where it came from.