Sherlock Holmes would never admit it to anyone, but he'd almost laughed aloud when the police slammed John Watson up against the car beside him and handcuffed them together. Only John would punch out a Scotland Yard Superintendent and then make a joke about leaving no one to bail them out. Sherlock felt a silent rush of amused affection that he had to hide behind a rapid, hidden twitch of a smile. It just wouldn't do to let anyone see that. After all, Sherlock already had a method of escape planned.
Nonetheless - it definitively was more fun to consider being a fugitive with John at his side, though they could have done without the handcuffs. At least the officer had been kind enough to handcuff his left wrist to John's right, ignorantly missing the fact that they were opposite-handed and this left both of their preferred hands free. No wonder the escape went off without a hitch. The police were morons.
John, on the other hand, was definitely not a moron. Despite much shorter legs and occasionally inane commentary, he was in excellent shape and retained his ability to make those rare, yet utterly illuminating contributions that were so astoundingly stimulating. For example, his battle-trained senses noticed the man on their tail well before Sherlock himself did, even if he mistook his identity. And for another, John didn't even quibble about standing in front of an oncoming bus. Finally, he'd unprotestingly accepted the now-dead assassin's gun after they'd got a bit of useful information out of him.
John was, after all, the better marksman. That was another fact Sherlock would never admit to anyone, but it was true.
Now.. They needed to get across London fast while avoiding the authorities.
Taking to the rooftops was one of Sherlock's favored methods. There was quick access to a convenient roof in a dark and smelly alley less than a block from Baker Street which Sherlock had used before. Despite the shockingly clever trap Moriarty had closed in around him, which somewhat pissed Sherlock off, he was feeling alive, excited, happy – the game was on! Adrenaline, the best drug ever evolved, was flowing through his veins.
He jumped up to the first rung of the ladder, leading John, when the sudden click of a pistol and a woman's shout of "Freeze!" brought him nearly tumbling back to earth.
"Don't move one inch, freak!"
Damn it, he swore under his breath, but by the time he'd turned to look at Sergeant Sally Donovan, John had already drawn and pointed his borrowed weapon right back at her. His voice was noticeably calmer than hers when he told her to drop her weapon.
While Sally and John stared at each other over the barrels of their weapons, Sherlock leapt lightly back down to the ground on John's right side, the handcuffs clanking.
Sally's gun wavered over to point directly at Sherlock.
John's voice was remorseless in response to that shift. "Try it and I'll kill you where you stand."
Her eyes and gun jerked back to John.
"Dr. Watson – John – for God's sake, don't do this, not for him. How many times have I warned you? Please, you're a good man, don't let him drag you down with him," she pleaded.
The lightning flew through Sherlock's nerves, the metaphorical light-bulb flashing familiarly in his brain. He could feel John beside him, rock solid, pulse slow, improbably steady. Of course, of course, of course… John. John was his ace up his sleeve. Quiet, unnoticeable, 'ordinary' John. Who really wasn't ordinary at all. If they could play this just right...
Sherlock broke the tense stillness by roaring with laughter, giving Sally his best inane grin. John didn't flinch, but Sally did. She stared at Sherlock as though he'd gone totally mad – which was a wee bit odd since she'd been saying he was completely insane for years. It's not like she should be surprised by the idea now.
"Sally, Sally," he chided between chuckles. "You're even more of an idiot than I thought you were, and that's saying something. Then again, you're not the only one. Everyone makes the same mistake, even someone as brilliant as Moriarty."
"Moriarty doesn't exist, you just made him up to cover yourself," Sally accused.
Sherlock chuckled and shook his head again. He took quick half-steps forward and sideways and slid the fingers of his left hand into John's right, squeezing down hard in a silent signal, before relaxing into a gentle grip. As Sally swung her weapon uncertainly between the two of them, Sherlock lifted their twined hands and displayed them.
"It's neither Moriarty nor myself that you need to be concerned about at this specific point of time, Sally," Sherlock told her, falling naturally into his 'lecture-the-obvious-to-the-idiots' tone. "It's John."
"John?" she exclaimed, disbelief widening her eyes.
"Yes, John," Sherlock echoed, not bothering to look at the quiet man at his side. "Captain-Doctor John Watson. You've dismissed him from the start. Everyone dismisses him. The press call him 'Robin' after Batman's silly sidekick, you try to warn him away from me as though I am a danger to him and he's just too stupid to see it, even Moriarty calls him – what did he call you John?"
"Bloody bastard called me your pet," John replied. The words themselves seemed angry, should've been angry, but they didn't sound it. Steady voice yet again.
"My pet," Sherlock repeated mockingly. "My shadow, my sidekick…" He caught Sally's widened dark eyes with his own icy blue ones and held them. "You're so obsessed with me. You think it's all about me, me, me." He showed his teeth in a smile yet again, though the expression didn't touch his eyes. Sally looked mesmerized. Good.
"Didn't it ever occur to you, to anyone, to ask why I invited him into my life? What possible need would a sociopath have for a flatmate, a best friend, a partner? And of the 6 billion plus people on planet Earth, why would I select John? What makes him, of any possible person, my one and only choice? Hmmm?" He lifted his eyebrow at her.
She was staring at him in shock, not answering. Yes, Sherlock had been right, but then he always was. Well, almost always. Well, close enough to always, practically speaking.
But she wasn't answering, which made him sigh. Did she still not get the point he was trying to make? They really didn't have to time to stand around playing Mexican stand-off in this rather unpleasant alley. He had important things to do and he didn't want to risk having some other dumb plod come wandering in after her. He needed her to back off a lot faster than she was.
Luckily, John got the point. Or perhaps John was just frustrated and pissed off regarding the point in question. After all, it had to be at least somewhat frustrating to always be ignored in favor of Sherlock, even if Sherlock was the genius in their partnership. Either way, John, thankfully, saved him the trouble of continuing to try to convince the dogged policewoman to put her gun down and let them go on their way.
"Did you even bother to look me up?" John said, a slight tinge of bitterness coloring his words. Ah, so it was the second possibility, at least partially, Sherlock noted. Fair enough.
"I'm not just a doctor, I'm a combat surgeon. A trained military officer. I put in nearly 4 years on the front lines in Afghanistan before I was invalided out for being wounded in the line of duty. Did you know I was awarded a Military Cross?" Now John's voice was biting cold. Sherlock had known that, of course, even though John kept his collection of medals in a locked box under his bed. Easy enough to pick.
However, Sally – just as obviously – had not known. Her mouth dropped open slightly as John continued.
"Do you think Her Majesty's Government hands out MC's to army doctors at random, no matter how many severed limbs and gaping abdominal wounds they've sewn up? No, to earn that particular honor, you have to be very effective at killing the enemy, preferably in large quantities, though doing so wounded does help."
The only sign of emotion that Sherlock could detect from John without turning to look at his face (and from Sally's expression, there wasn't any emotion in John's) was a twitch of the hand still entwined with Sherlock's. Sherlock gave the slightest of pressure back; he'd listened to John scream in his sleep far too many times. Oh, they'd never talked about it and likely never would, but then what was the need for that? John knew where Sherlock was.
"Wha- What you did in Afghanistan was your duty to your country, John," Sally said, moistening her lips and swallowing heavily, almost coughing. "You served with great courage. You saved the lives of dozens of British soldiers, your comrades, friends. But you're not in the war anymore. Killing for him – it would be wrong. It would cheapen everything you've done. It would be a crime, not just against society, but against yourself. You're better than that. Earning an MC – that's extraordinary. Be proud of the honorable man you are. Don't let misplaced loyalty to that… that… freak destroy you, compel you to commit murder!"
Sherlock could have told her from the start that she was taking the utterly worst possible approach to John; absolutely, completely, idiotically wrong. He had to bite painfully into his own lip to keep from sneering at her verbally or, or worse yet, laughing. Not now. He had to let John handle this one, difficult as it was not to take action. He was practically vibrating with the need to do or say something; it was only John's unbreakable steadiness that kept him from acting out.
Rely on John, oh yes. Always, always, rely on John.
John's chuckle was icy, his voice was implacable. "But Sally, I've already killed for him."
That nearly did it. Sally stepped backwards and her gun hand wavered. Sherlock tensed, ready to leap at her, but John's squeeze of his hand held him back.
"No," Sally denied, steadying herself, though it was only a bare mockery of John's stillness. "No... I don't believe it."
"Believe it," John replied. "As Sherlock said, you're so obsessed with the idea that he would suddenly start dropping bodies for you to find, that it has never once occurred to you that it simply isn't his style. He loves the mystery of it, the mental challenge, showing off his brilliance. But he'd never bother to kill someone – what would be the fun of solving a case when he already knew who did it, how and why? That would be boring and Sherlock hates being bored."
John shrugged without so much as a tremble in his hand on the gun. "Besides, it changes you when you kill someone, for whatever reason, but especially 'in cold blood.' Sherlock doesn't have that in him. And neither do you. Have you ever even fired your gun at another human being, Sally?"
The answer was written all over her narrow face. It was so obvious, even Anderson could've figured that one out. She stared at John with a twisted expression made up of equal parts of utter horror and stunned comprehension, seemed to try to speak, then simply wilted.
Yes, that was it - the opening he needed.
"Of course not," Sherlock interjected softly, almost sympathetically. "So I would strongly recommend that you put down your gun before you do something really stupid like get yourself killed. John could shoot you before you'd even started to pull the trigger. So please, put it down – now."
"Slowly," he warned as she began to comply woodenly, her eyes still fixed on John.
"Kick it over here. Carefully," Sherlock instructed.
She did so. Sherlock almost hummed with satisfaction as he picked it up and tucked it into coat pocket.
"Very good, Sally. Now lay down."
Eyes still uplifted towards John's face, she obediently followed Sherlock's orders. He was rather enjoying that after bearing her scorn for so many years. Yet another thing no one else needed to know.
"Now stay there until you've finished counting to one thousand," he ordered.
He tightened his grip on John's hand, turned, and ran out of the alley, John running easily at his side. They'd find another way across London and he'd figure his way out of this trap. He always did and, besides, he still had his ace up his sleeve.
Oh YES. It was – without question – the perfect partnership.