Da steht auch ein Mensch und starrt in die Höhe,
Und ringt die Hände, vor Schmerzensgewalt;
Mir graust es, wenn ich sein Antlitz sehe -
Der Mond zeigt mir meine eigne Gestalt.
Jim and John again shoulder to shoulder went into the fray. They had done this before, beat the odds. They had survived an explosion in a pool (Jim's suit had not ever really recovered, which was a tragedy, it was a Westwood) and gangs of red headed people and crazy American actresses. But this was the end. If they survived this Jim was going to finally accept that job with Cambridge and was never doing his own field work ever again. Never think about Sherlock Holmes again. He didn't care what John did as long as it was survive.
Jim hadn't wanted John to come, he was still afraid for him; he remembered the awful, terrifying blood, the feeling of concrete dust under his knees. But John Watson wasn't going to let his friend go and face one of the maddest men in the world without back up. "You don't have to do this," Jim told him softly, his fingers touching the clenched fist around John's gun. The skin was pulled so tight and smooth he wondered if John could feel his fingerprints. Jim snorted a quick little laugh, Jim and John touching hands in the dark, no wonder everyone thought they were together.
"What?" John said looking at him like he had gone mad. Madder.
"Holding hands in the dark."
John looked down where their hands were touching and grinned at him, that real grin from before the two awful masks of pain and exhaustion had taken over his face.
"What'll they say at the Yard?"
They giggle briefly and then they're into the fray.
Jim stops him one last time to look at him, in case they don't make it. In case he doesn't make it, because it's not acceptable if John isn't around when Jim is. Simply unacceptable. "We'll stop him John; we won't let Holmes hurt anyone else."
"Sometimes I play music in the middle of the night. Really loud. And I don't like mess, sometimes I hoover three times a day. I don't like chaos. And I'll be sleeping everywhere," he's bouncing on the balls of his feet as he texts away. He prefers calling, something Lestrade is trying to break him of, but he can't talk to potential flatmates and detective inspectors at the same time.
"That's fine," the man, John, says watching Jim bounce all over the lab. Jim knows it's a bit much for some people, drives most people up the wall, but John's just watching him with mild exasperation.
"So I guess, we'll meet like, at sevenish," Jim's putting all his files into his messenger neatly. He's nervous, wants to make a good first impression, wants to make a solid impression. Because everyone likes him at first, he's the kind of hyper flirty guy in a nice suit and then a little way down the road he would blink and they were terrified of him. He hated that, but if the foundation was solid, maybe he could get a roomie that would last.
"Seven it is," John says mildly.
"Later," Jim wiggles his fingers at him.
He sees Holmes standing at the machine; he's still not quite sure all the things it's supposed to do, other than destroy the electrical systems of London. That would be enough, all of London with no electricity? What delicious chaos. Holmes was crouched, playing with wires and Jim starts running toward him, lips pulling back into a snarl. The man wasn't expecting them that much is obvious and he tipped back in surprise at the sight of John and Jim charging him together. The man always did love doing the legwork, something Jim had been relying on, that he'd work on this particular problem instead of just relying on his minions. Holmes jerked, reaching in his massive coat and got tangled somehow in the machinery.
Aggressive flashes of light pulsed from the machine turning Jim's eyes momentarily white blind, he was stumbling, stunned, Sherlock was stumbling as well trying to get away from the machine. Inspiration burst upon Jim and he saw himself gripping Sherlock, holding him still while the machine exploded and pulled them both apart into atoms. What a death, what a relief. Descending over the precipice together…
It was then the machine decided it had enough. With his vision whited out, the explosion rolled over him, lifting him. Fortunately he didn't seem to have his skin peeling off, or covered in a billion degree burn, it was just force; it hurt more to land than to be thrown. The air is thick with debris and the smell of ozone, there is a tingle in Jim's guts like his body might decide to eject his liver via his mouth at any moment. Not the most pleasant of sensations. After the flash of light and finally coming up to consciousness he's scrambling on his knees and sees Holmes trying to get to his feet. They looked at each other and then they were lunging at each other in desperation. Holmes said they needed each other, that without each other the boredom would be too much. Jim disagreed.
They didn't need each other; they needed to kill each other.
They were fighting, real fighting, Jim doesn't like to get his hands dirty, but he's not an idiot, he knows his line of work is dangerous. Jim tried a move that John showed him, cracking the sides of his hands against Holmes' neck. Gasping, contorting, Holmes still clung to him like some sort of evil barnacle. Then there was John performing a brilliant tackle, swiping him off Jim before he could even cherish Holmes' look of surprise.
While Jim was curled up catching his breath John pounded at Holmes. Deep in his calm place, as soon as Jim got his breath back he'd tell John to stop. As soon as he had his breath back. And maybe after he called Lestrade, it wasn't every day they caught an international mastermind. John had drawn his gun and had it under Holmes' chin. "Don't even move, don't even think about it."
Holmes' eyes went wide, his hands fell away, the back of his hands flat on the floor like he was about to get crucified and his mouth went moop. Which was Jim's first clue something wasn't right because Holmes' mouth never went moop. It only went in funny twisted lines.
"John?" Holmes asked in a small voice.
"Do. Not. Talk. Don't talk. Do not say my name." The control, the iron made Jim feel strong too, made him feel golden. Better than a right triangle.
Just as Jim was fishing for his phone when there was another tackle hitting John and plucking him off Holmes.
Then there were two Johns. Jim froze with his thumb on the call button.
There were two John's fighting each other, throwing punches kicking, holding Brownings on each other. They were rolling around on the roll swinging blows with intense hard breaths. They stop and stare at each other with identical expressions of disbelief. "You're defending him?" they ask at the same time.
"What the-" they say together.
"I can't-" they're completely in sync.
"It's impossible, you're not me," John is saying.
"Yeah, gathered that," John says in his typical John way. Moriarty is pretty sure his brain has exploded.
"John?" Jim asks with only a little concern.
"It's okay Jim," John says turning toward him automatically and now he knows which John is his, is the one he needs.
"You're not me," other John says again.
"I could guess that, there's no way this is possible. There's no way I'd go anywhere with Holmes," the last word isn't cold or angry or burning. It's heavy like a stone and calm like the inside of a hurricane. It makes Jim shiver a little to hear it.
"I could say the same thing about Moriarty," the voice is exactly the same and they both stare at each other with intense military focus.
"Amy Dean, secondary school, summer apples," his John says. Other John's eyes go wide, he turns an odd color and his nostrils flare like he's hiding.
"No one else knows that but me," the other John says. "I never told anyone about that."
Jim knew he was rather clever, but being told, being recognized it was delicious. And now he had ruined it.
"I'm sorry," John was saying scooting away and Jim wanted to say come back, come back, I'll be clever again. It was a stupid thing to want, praise, no one ever got close to him, no one ever could. He always slipped up and scared them away. "I'm not really like that. I mean I'm flattered by your interest, but I don't want to lead you on."
"I didn't mean it like that," Jim tries to explain, because he didn't, the idea of sex makes him feel vaguely creeped out. "Just getting to know you stuff."
"Oh, sorry," John is flustered, awkward. "It's fine. I mean if you're gay, it doesn't bother me. It's fine. It's all fine."
"No, I mean I'm not, I'm just," he played with his lasagna. Feeling distressed. "I don't like to be touched, it's so. Personal."
John looked at him steadily, "Jim. It's all fine."
Somehow that was better than all the praise.
"What happened?" Jim is speaking slowly, "this is impossible. This is Doctor Who stuff!" He's going into lecture mode without realizing it. His fingers are tapping together against his leg, his voice going into the slow and steady cadence. He needs a white board to do equations on. Texting statistics students to throw erasers at. "There are no such things as alternate dimensions."
"I still haven't decided if I believe this or not," Holmes says, his eyes darting to John who's sitting crossed legged on the floor.
Every time Holmes twitches, John's eyes are on him, narrow and ready to take a kill shot. It's putting the man more and more on edge. Which puts Other John on edge, Jim was born on the edge, so, not much different except now he's still seeing stars from the explosion. Other John is also looking at him like he's the devil, its distracting.
The crazy thing is he can tell this Holmes isn't his Holmes; this Holmes is like a child. Moopy face and floppy petulance and bids for attention. His Holmes is a monster in the truest sense of the word. Treasuring carnage in a way that was disgustingly sensual, the only similarity between the two Holmes is superficial.
He sticks his hands in his pocket restlessly drifting into John's orbit, letting them bump together they do, just for a manly half second. Where is he in this world? Why isn't he with John? It's a very good question, one he wants the answer to later. "Are we not friends in this world John?" he says, his face creasing. "I mean I assume we're not," he made a gesture over his eyes. "You've got the hate eyes going on."
"No," Other John said with a strange finality. "You're not really a nice person here." Jim's brain is still blown from them not being friends, because Jim without John? Not possible.
"So what? I'm a rogue maths professor giving everyone bad marks?" he has to resist the urge to lean on the top of his John's head like he's a conveniently placed table. His head is simply at the perfect height.
Holmes head twisted toward him, curious and oddly pleased, "You're a maths professor?"
"Actually right now he's a Criminal Specialist," the Other John and Holmes' eyes snap to his John. "He solves crimes for the Yard, and the Met, and sometimes the government." His John is being fiercely loyal. "He's good at it too. Sometimes he doesn't even have to leave the flat."
Starting to bounce on the balls of his feet Jim pulls out his phone bashfully, but he's pleased, "Maybe we should call Lestrade. He's always after me not to get blown up ridiculously; I imagine it's the same with you."
"I should let you know that if Lestrade arrives, you will be arrested."
Jim stared at him with wide eyes, oh. Oh. In this world Jim really wasn't a nice person. "What did I do?" he asked softly. "Is it… bad? Very?"
Holmes eyes are narrow, "Extremely."
"Alright," Jim says and his John's eyes snap to him.
"No," Jim said firmly.
"But you didn't do whatever the other Jim did."
"I'm guessing if I'm a criminal then Mrs. Hudson isn't exactly letting us a room. We need somewhere safe and somewhere familiar. There's no reason to fear the Yard. John will be okay, won't he? I mean you'll put him up somewhere?"
"I'm not leaving you alone in jail. Lestrade, for one, would kill me."
Leaning against John's shoulder, Jim nodded, "Okay." He turned to Holmes and other John, both of which seemed to be watching them with a sort of fascinated horror. "Should I call or should you?"