The Ava Watson Verse
Rocks of Salvation
Moriarty's games and Sherlock's own arrogance have cost him the battle, but the war for Sherlock's soul plays on. Who would have thought that the shattered army doctor and the tiny girl could put up such a fight?
Spoilers for the whole of series 2
Prologue: In the spider's web
As always it was the ex-army doctor that caused him problems as he sat hammering out the details in the lab where it had all begun.
John Watson was (and Sherlock was starting to think always would be) an anomaly. The layers to the man were truly fascinating; just as he thought he had worked it all out, another facet would appear and beg to be peeled away, studied and tested but never discarded.
It had been a hope of his that this...this siren's call would stop without proximity. That the need to delve into John Watson's mind and uncover all the depths and heights would vanish when the temptation was no longer in the room upstairs. That the memory of extraordinary moments of dizzying fun would fade and die away. That the sniping and nagging would cease to be a source of endless amusement and one-upmanship when he could no longer go through the motions.
And above all there had been the desperate, vain desire to rid himself of the sudden thudding heart, damp brow and momentary numbness that crippled him every time someone held John's life in their hands.
It had seemed logical. Remove the problem and it would cease to exist, be eventually deleted with the rest and become only a vague, fond tugging on his unconscious mind.
But he of all people should have known it was never that simple. Even then, when that plan started to take shape he should have known. But he'd been so desperate, scared even.
The mind numbing terror that he was losing; that there was no way out and his own sentiment was to blame.
There had been need of course.
Moriaty's game had worked so beautifully. Perfect in its detail and execution; excruciatingly perfect. Even If he'd had weeks to work it out he doubted he would have seen it. Only as the spider web started to bend and unravel had he caught a glimpse of the network; the silken weave, the threaded poisonous intent and whispered venom.
Moriarty had pulled him up and then thrown him down. Down to such horrifying depths that Sherlock had almost drowned as he'd sat on the floor at Bart's, waiting for Molly and desperate for John.
And then there had been that moment on the roof. The fear of loss, the glow of triumph and the joy of winning. Every emotion they had mirrored in each other until the very end when Moriarty pulled the trigger.
It hadn't killed him. The angle had been wrong, the gun had never fired. A backup plan then, to have another assassin, one with a marksmanship to rival John's, shoot just perfectly. He'd been in control enough to notice that. His own contingency plan keeping him calm enough to not be stunned by the theatrics.
But Moriarty was alive, but unconscious and unresponsive to any attempt at getting that damned code off of him. The odds of stopping the assassins were so slim as to be negligible. He'd never make it down from the roof that he'd chosen, the roof that allowed the assassins to see so clearly.
His own arrogance had stunted him again.
Moriarty thought he'd won, was so sure of it. He could never be down there, at the pavement, to see what happened. To see how Sherlock pulled it off.
So, only one logical solution. Only one way out.
Just not with one guaranteed result.
And so Sherlock had stood on the edge and phoned.
He didn't doubt there was a recorder, somewhere on Jim Moriarty. Even if there wasn't, it was hardly a great trial to hack into the phone records and the last call made. It burned that the thing lying, bleeding on the roof behind him might hear the last words he said to John; the lie that spewed past his lips in the hope that John would turn and walk away from it all without a backward glance or a moment of sorrow.
On the off chance that it didn't work?
Because there had been a margin for error. A small chance that it wouldn't work and that this jump would be his last.
A leap of faith.
Not something that one would tend to associate with Sherlock Holmes.
Yet it was something that John continued to have. Faith. Loyalty. Sheer bloody minded stubbornness that made Sherlock waver and search for something, anything, that would give John a hint or a clue.
But there was nothing that the damned recorder wouldn't reveal to Moriarty when he woke.
And how cruel it would be, if this failed, to leave John with such endless hope.
Despite it all he could never be intentionally cruel, not to the one person that still refused to give up on him.
"Don't take your eyes off me."
It had been all that he could give back.
Stunted by his own arrogance and his own heart, he'd stood in the graveyard, opposite the stone that bore his name, and watched the soldier cry.
It could have been his chance. John had given him the perfect opening, had faith even beyond what he'd been told.
Even his dastardly brother couldn't be sure of what Sherlock had done. Molly would never tell; he doubted she'd even understood the how or the what or the why. There was no doubt that Mycroft would piece it together after a few months if he really chose to. He'd obviously tapped the phone. Sherlock's plea for privacy had been ignored.
But he'd watched John walk away, unwilling to believe in anything but Sherlock, and Sherlock had found himself unable to move. Unable to take that perfect opening.
"Don't be dead."
Moriarty was alive. Moriarty thought he'd won. Moriarty had dared to hold a trigger to the few people that Sherlock gave a damn about in this cold, grey, dull world.
But still John had faith.
John would never choose to walk away. And Sherlock would never manage to get to Moriarty when all the man had to do was put a tiny red dot on the brave man that walked through the graves.
The second he stepped out to John he would make him a hostage.
The benefits of being dead were unrivalled, but it had meant that he had to leave everything behind. The violin, the experiments, the kindly aunt-like woman who could scold, the inspector whose eye-roll was as revealing as a dramatic monologue.
But it was back to anonymity. He'd forgotten what a blessing it could be, how freeing.
Nobody looks as the dead.
Least of all Moriarty; he was far too focused on destroying the living.
The tendrils of the webs had been easy to find when he hunted for them, rather than playing house and pet detective to the newspapers. Finally he was the aggressor, the one waging the unknown war.
This time Moriarty would have to catch up.
Sherlock managed to catch a glimpse of him from time to time. Sometimes it would take a second look because the man flickered between disguises the way Sherlock could mimic a world of expressions. There were scars from the bullet and the resulting surgery. He'd played the victim wonderfully well when the concerned officers had found him on the roof, even confirming what Sherlock had confessed to John in those last moments on the phone.
John had refused to believe it still. Mycroft had retaliated in a rather uncharacteristically excessive manner. Though it had been amusing to watch Moriarty's own fondness for bombs turn against him for a moment.
Moriarty had been hurt, there was no mistaking that. Hurt and wounded enough that he had staggered off to mainland Europe to lick his wounds and sharpen his claws. But still physically fragile enough that he no longer seemed to be the furious presence that he once had been.
For a time at least. And, in that time, Sherlock found a way in to the Lion's den. Worked his way up and up and up.
And then, years into it, Mycroft had sent a text. One single text on a number he should never have found.
He's in trouble.
Sherlock ignored it with a sneer. Did Mycroft really think it was that easy? One text to snap him back to London, to give up when was so close he could practically taste the genuine shock on Moriarty's face.
It was intoxicating. Consuming. The need burned in him sharper, fiercer, brighter than anything else he'd ever felt before. Everything faded, as predicted. John, dependable, reliable John was probably married by now, Sherlock Holmes a momentary digression in the otherwise predictable life of the wounded soldier. Mrs Hudson probably scolded and mothered the new tenants. Lestrade was likely still dealing with the idiots he surrounded himself with and coping with the patience of a saint.
Their lives had moved on and so had his. On his best days he could tell himself that he wouldn't care now if Moriarty hung the same threat over his head. That he wouldn't be distracted from their game by petty lives. That he enjoyed it.
Gone were the days of mind numbing nothingness. Every moment was a war, every action calculated for effect and consequence. It was better than any substance on earth and so much more useful.
He could have screamed the word to the sky in triumph.
Only a week after that he could have screamed at himself.
Clever, brilliant, extraordinary.
Just not quite enough.
And, these days, lying. But now there was only one person he could lie to that was around to listen.
It was only when he stood side by side with a scarred Moriarty, watching from afar as a building exploded while a woman screams echoed in his ear, that he realised Moriarty could play him far, far better than Mycroft could.
And, a week later, he learnt that Mycroft had never intended to play him at all.