Author's Note: Written for a prompt on the lj shkinkmeme.
Original prompt: Holmes' final thoughts as he sees Watson then tumbles over the falls.
There was no conceivable way for him to win this fight. He'd run through countless scenarios in his mind and no matter how he fought, every one ended in a seemingly endless fall to a watery grave. Maybe if his damned arm wasn't wounded, or he was just slightly stronger, or Moriarty were a fraction weaker; perhaps then he'd have had a chance. But now, here, suspended in the moment where everything counted, the facts were thus:
His right arm was going to be near useless in any kind of prolonged physical combat.
Moriarty was both smart enough and skilled enough to block and counter any attacks which he flung at him.
He was sooner rather than later going to be overpowered.
He was going to die.
He was going to die, and it was all going to be in vain, because Watson and Mary would still be at the mercy of Moriarty, and he wouldn't be able to protect them.
But. There was a second option.
He didn't need to die alone.
If he factored this into his plans then he just might be able to save them. Moriarty most probably wouldn't expect him to be willing to die for his cause. This would be the professor's downfall, because of course, of course, he'd be willing to go to the ends of the earth and back for his Watson. Death was but a small price to pay to ensure his dearest companion's continued existence. Even if he himself was not a betting man, he'd wager Moriarty had no concept of the kind of bond he had with the doctor.
The flame from the lighter danced in front of his face, and he was brought back to the present. One look in his opponent's eyes confirmed his suspicions; it would be impossible not to notice the cold, calculating intelligence flickering in Moriarty's eyes. He could only hope that the professor's experiences of love didn't extend to the unequivocal sort.
A faint glow emitted from his pipe as the tobacco caught and began to smoulder gently. It was now or never. The opportunity for planning was over. He moved like lightning, swatting the embers into the professor's face. Moriarty shouted out, retaliating with vicious precision. It was all going to plan. He would save them.
Then the door opened. The pair froze in their deadly struggle, Holmes pressed against the low wall, back to the sheer drop below. He had been both hoping for and dreading this moment in equal measures. For his Watson was silhouetted in the doorway, mouth open in a perfect "O" of shock as he took in the sight before him.
Holmes was sure his face was a mirror image of the doctor's. An incredible urge to tell Watson the three words that had been burning a hole in his chest for so, so long rose up inside him. A lifetime seemed to pass as they stared at each other, brown eyes boring into blue. It would be so easy to just say it. But he could feel Moriarty pressing against his wounded arm, and he knew he couldn't hold on much longer.
Watson wasn't his anymore. He was Mary's now, and Holmes didn't need to say anything to express his deepest, darkest feelings. After all, actions spoke louder than mere words.
Summoning the last of his strength, he pushed backwards, and suddenly the world was tipping, and he clutched at Moriarty, pulling him close in a murderous embrace, all the while with his eyes locked to Watson's.
Goodbye, my friend.
As he fell, he shut his eyes, preserving that last aching image of Watson, Moriarty's screams echoing all around him. A strange, wordless calm descended over him, coupled with a kind of fierce joy at the accomplishment of his task.
His hands were balled into fists around Moriarty's jacket, and with a great effort he released now them, breaking away. The heavier man fell faster - Holmes could tell from the infinitesimal change in volume of his screeches – heading, no doubt, to a painful death on the craggy rocks below.
This was most probably the fate that awaited Holmes himself. But now he allowed himself to look at that tiny glimmer of hope that had been hidden deep in his breast. He slipped his hand into his trouser pocket, clutching the contraption he had stolen from his brother.
Provided he hit the water and not the rocks, there was a slim chance that he might live to see another day. He opened his eyes again, twisting his body so that he could see the crashing river below.
Moriarty was closer to the rapids than he was, still screaming and reaching out for help that would not be coming. With an understated splash the professor hit the water, and was immediately swallowed up, disappearing under the swirling waves.
If Holmes had been a praying man, he might have sent a silent plea to God to save him. As it was, he hit the frigid waters with another murmured name on his lips.