CHAPTER TWENTYTHREE – Unravelling Sherlock
'Sherlock... you actually waited for John to fall asleep?'
'I don't have much of an option, Mycroft'
"Now now, excellent." James Moriarty took off his headphones, he unplugged them from the computer and connected them to a little wireless device as he dialled a number. "Phillip, you know what to do, Johnny boy is sleeping, Sherlock is out, you know where is he heading to?"
"Diogenes, he's going to see Mycroft... now why?"
"You just follow my orders so we can promise your only son is going to live. It's not that difficult, is it?" There was silence at the other side of the line and James smiled widely, "I suppose you have my four play boys?"
"I do." There was sound of papers, "Dyachenko , Sulejma-"
"Good enough! I trust you, Phil, you are a great ally."
"You leave my son in peace."
"He isn't very clever after all... nobody sent him to check on your sister's doing! Now, talk to Sebastian, let him know what we agreed and you're out."
"Once I'm out you're going to kill me."
There was a low chuckle, "you know? I love government people... they are all so clever. I mean, we're going to kill you either way and once we do, if Armand is lovely enough maybe I can keep him. But no, not yet, I need you."
"You don't need anybody..."
"Aw... you lovely little bald thing, I do need you. I don't like getting my hands dirty and since you're used to it, we can have our little share, I get Sherlock, you get Mycroft. It's fair, don't you think?" There was a pause, none of them talked until James cut the silence again. "Do you have everything ready? Remember you have to convince Rufus to let Sherlock to look after his boys."
"I've got the scarf, the coat and a curly wig..."
"Good!" James chuckled a bit, "remember to lower your voice, it's got to sound..." he gestured with his hands, as if Phillip was watching, "insanely sexy."
"Then perhaps you should do it, you make everything sound insane enough..."
"Aw, come on, Phil, flirting doesn't suit you... No... Now, send them off. I have a little flirting to do myself. Miss Riley is not that bad after all. I am trusting you with this one."
There was pause on the phone and then Phillip Smith sighed. "Okay then; locate them, talk to Sebastian, the show begins then, Jim. I have the four flats ready for them in Baker Street..."
"Excellent! Don't forget to keep Sherlock alive, no matter the cost, but! At first contact Sebastian will put a bullet into their bodies. And you know he never fails."
"I'll... make sure to remind them."
"Good. Now I have a little DVD to record. Do you like fairy tales, Mr. Smith?"
Another pause. "I don't."
"Ah well, I can promise you're gonna looove this one. I am watching my prologue now, so if you excuse me..."
"Consider it done."
"Thank you! Don't forget to warn them: do not touch the surfaces. Dust is fluent, leave the dust intact."
James Moriarty hung up and placed his headphones back. Sherlock's voice echoed in them, low, dark, whispered, purred voice.
'I need to prepare a little something...'
'Your alibi.' There was a thud sound, some panting and James lifted his brows in surprise, his jaw moving as he chewed on his gum. 'And stop following me!'
"Good!" he exclaimed nodding approvingly. A smile crossed James' features as he watched one of the once blank monitors in front now showing the inside of 221b, there was the door, an arm chair with the Union Jack cushion and a piece of a leather chair in front. "I like that leather chair..." he purred with a sigh. He knew his plan was running smoothly. A blonde woman grinned to the camera, waved and mouthed the word 'Hello'. James waved back comically, even if he knew nobody could see him. "Well hello there, Ludmila!"
He placed a camera in front of him and turned on the light of his desk. He eyed around Bart's IT department. It was dark except for that new light and the lights from the security monitors. He saw Molly Hooper coming out from the mortuary, ending her shift later than usual. He touched the screen with a faked pout.
"Molly, Molly... if you hadn't dump me we could be having so much fun right now..." he smiled. "You look so bored after all, so ordinary... oh well! I have a DVD to record..."
He took a book from his drawer, took off his headphones and paced to a spot behind his seat. A red curtain fell and he sat in front, turning on the camera with a remote control.
"Hello..." he said looking at the camera with a smile, "are you ready for the story? This is the story of Sir Boast-A-Lot..."
He read the script, it wasn't much more than seven minutes. Once he was done he hurriedly went to take his headphones again.
'You never change.'
'I don't have to.'
'Low tar, again?'
'No this time, no.'
James wore a frown now. "What the hell are they talking about!" he screamed and punched the table in front of him. "No. This has to be a joke."
'So this must be an especial occasion.'
'So be it.'
"What! What, what, WHAT!" James took off his headphones again and threw them across the room. Soon he was chuckling and rubbing his temples. "Very clever Mr. Holmes... very clever indeed."
Reluctantly, he walked to take the headphones again, plugging them back to the little wireless modem device.
He heard a door closing at the distance and a thud of someone sitting on a chair. A sigh, Mycroft's sigh. He head a rustling in the microphone and then a mutter.
'What is this card... blank, no face, no address...'
There was a loud deafening noise and James had to take his headphones off in one swift, fluid movement. "Ouch! That wasn't nice!"
After Sherlock left his office Mycroft sat on his chair and sighed. He rubbed his temples, surprised at his brother's request of the mind-reader game. He took a hold of the card on his desk.
"What is this card..." he moved it around his fingers, "blank, no face, no address..." he took a little envelope's opener and ripped it. Inside he found circuits and a chip. It was a mobile phone's chip. He sighed at the realisation. They were being monitored, so that's what had Sherlock suspicious. He let out a chuckle, gulped the remaining of his cold coffee, opened a drawer and took a little golden bulge.
"Make it four, dear brother... make it four."
New Scotland Yard, 11 am.
Lestrade sat at his desk, Donovan was leaning against the door of the DI's office, Sherlock talked and gestured dramatically as he paced around and John was leaning against a wall, arms crossed over his chest. It was a typical scene at Lestrade's office after a case was solved.
"This is big, Sherlock." Lestrade's voice was tired, a little brassy, "are you sure the painting is in the facility?"
"Hidden at plain sight. I remembered everything last night."
John frowned but he didn't say a word. 'Last night?'
"It's impossible you can remember the painting if you were there only once..." Donovan's voice made John turn his head at her immediately, his hand became a fist between his chest and his arm, "unless you were there more than once..."
Sherlock was looking intently to Lestrade, who just stared back. He believed Sherlock of course, and he was aware they were there only once, but Donovan couldn't know Greg had been there with them at the time.
"Perhaps that's the way your little brain works." Sherlock turned to her and John couldn't help his lips twitching up a bit. "Since you can't even understand yours I can't ask you to understand mine, so please, save your useless inputs."
John had to turn to the opposite way to avoid a laugh. Donovan's eyes were huge, she looked over at Lestrade who remained silent.
"Look, Sherlock... if you say the painting is there, how could we miss that?" Lestrade didn't comment on Sherlock's face at his question, he quickly added, "and by we I mean the force. We've been monitoring the facility for weeks in case they come back."
"You told us the dimensions of the painting, I observed a bulge near the window we escaped from with similar dimensions. It's in a box, well preserved, same proportions. We all know the painting disappeared at least three weeks ago. It all fits, the dates," Sherlock gestured with his hands, "the boats, Phillip Smith's sister and her disappearance, everything! Why can't you people just think!"
Lestrade rubbed his temples, he had to play fool in front of Donovan. He took his phone and dialled a number. "Are you sure?" he asked to Sherlock as he waited to be attended. Sherlock just smirked with a light lift of his shoulders; a clear expression of 'please'.
John waited as Lestrade talked to someone in the facility, on the phone it could be heard how they searched room after room. Sherlock tapped his fingers on the table impatiently, then he started to pace, he observed as Lestrade waited with the phone over his ear, the DI could hear all the rustle and in the meanwhile he frowned at Sherlock. "Take a seat will you? You're making me nervous pacing around. This might take a while."
Sherlock lifted his brows. "No, I'm fine." He said stopping, his face completely deadpan. John did his best not to show any emotions on his face or to burst into laughter right there.
"John?" Lestrade asked.
"I was about to go for a coffee..." John answered, his face the clear resemblance of blank. "Sherlock?"
"Yes! Coffee sounds perfect." Sherlock cleared his throat and looked annoyingly at Lestrade, "this is tedious! How is it possible for you to take that long to find a bloody little painting?" he turned to John, clearly pissed, "I'll go with you." Sherlock's coat swirled behind him as he turned. "Text me." He added clearly to Lestrade as both men disappeared from sight. Donovan and the DI looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
"How could we miss the dates?" Donovan asked softly, gesturing with her hand. Lestrade just sighed and shrugged.
Once outside and out of ear range, John started to chuckle, soon he and Sherlock were laughing so hard that John had to support himself on a wall. "Oh God..." he gasped.
"That's exactly what you said last night."
Laughs again. "Seriously, you can't sit down?" John asked still with a smile, still convulsing with laughter. Sherlock just glared humorously at him.
"The cab ride was bad enough." He said snorting, his shoulders shaking, his face with a huge grin. John burst into a new tight fit of laughter.
A text came into Sherlock's phone and his grin changed into a wide smirk.
"Did they find it?" John asked, his laughter subsiding slowly.
"Yes!" Sherlock tossed John his phone with the text so he could read it, turning around, heading for Lestrade's office again. As soon as John caught it he frowned when he realised there were only two contacts; his and Mycroft's number. It was new, the last time he saw Sherlock's phone there were over hundred contacts. When he lifted his gaze Sherlock was already turning to Lestrade's office, he jogged to catch up.
"Where's the coffee?" Lestrade asked as he saw both men entering his office, hands empty.
"Who cares about coffee! Where was it?" Demanded Sherlock, his palms over Lestrade's desk.
Greg blinked slowly and sighed. "Under a window in a room at the second floor." He smirked and shook his head, obviously amused.
Sherlock's lips curved into a proud smirk again. "Excellent. Case is solved then." He turned to John, "coffee now?"
Donovan glared to them when they made their way out, Sherlock walked fast, John noticed how he was abnormally alert as they approached the Yard's main door.
"It's everything okay?" John asked as he walked rapidly, trying to match Sherlock's pace.
"Of course!" was the throaty answer, a bit high pitched. John had a comical look.
"What." Sherlock turned and stopped, his face back to normal, John battled internally with himself. What could he say? Distracted? No, definitely not distracted. Alert? Sherlock was always alert. What?
"... a bit cockier than usual." He said tossing the phone back to Sherlock, who just caught it and saved it in his jacket's pocket.
"Oh." The detective straightened his neck up, almost defiant. "Am I."
"Don't do that. That's exactly what I meant. Yeah."
Sherlock narrowed his eyes briefly and just turned, he was about to hail a cab when a raspy voice called from the Yard's entry.
"Hey, Sherlock! John!" Lestrade trotted to them, Sherlock observed the troubled man, under the sunlight his eye bags were evident. John also turned.
"Another case?" Sherlock asked lifting his brows.
"No... look, Sherlock, this is a big one. I've been called by the director of the museum, they are going to give the news about the Turner's tomorrow. They want you guys there." Lestrade placed his hands on his hips and shook his head. He knew Sherlock was going to say no, hence his troubled face.
"We're not going." Sherlock answered immediately. "You can go, why the hell would they want us there?"
"No, out of the table. I've never needed a public image and I certainly don't want to start now." Sherlock snorted then, "don't you remember the stupid hat's incident?"
The DI looked down to the floor, his head nearly hanging from his shoulders. "John, help me out here, would yah?"
"Why is it necessary for us to go?" John asked, he saw by the corner of his eyes Sherlock clenching his jaw, sighing soundlessly and swallowing impatiently.
"Look, they know the Yard called Sherlock Holmes, they need proofs we don't have. It's a tedious work to try to explain them how we knew the painting was there, it would mean that even the Yard could be involved since we were the only ones there and you know it's not quite true. And besides, the case about the facility can't be exposed to the Yard. Sherlock is the only proof we've got."
"Right." John frowned and pursed his lips pensively. He glanced over at Sherlock quickly and then back to Lestrade. "We'll be there, Greg." He said firmly and quickly as he noted Sherlock was about to say something else. On one hand he was sincerely satisfied that they knew Sherlock was the one solving the case this time; it's not as he was usually recognised publicly for his skills besides his own blog. It was always the Yard doing the work after a solved case, usually taking all the credit. A little bit for Sherlock wasn't bad once in a while.
"John." Sherlock frowned but John smiled up at him. It was an innocent smile, a secure smile, the doctor's eyebrows were up. It was a smile that would not take a 'no' for an answer.
"On one condition." John placed his hands on his hips, turning completely to Lestrade, still this smile plastered on his face. "First interesting case after this one is ours. No Donovan. No Anderson."
Greg opened his mouth; incredulity was obvious on his face. He couldn't help an open-mouth smile at John's unusual condition. Sherlock smirked proudly, his neck straightening once more as he observed the DI's reaction. Lestrade's eyes fought between the taller man, then to the shorter man. He finally gave in, groaning in frustration. "You know what? Fine!" he pointed with his index finger to the ground, "I want you both tomorrow, in a suit, eight a.m. at the museum, do I make myself clear."
"Of course, Greg." John said, his smile widening.
Lestrade stood there for several seconds, obviously thinking about something else as his eyes darted between Sherlock and John; they remained silent, their expressions unchangeable.
With a last sigh and a small "good, I'll see you tomorrow." Lestrade walked back to the Yard, Donovan was waiting at the front door. Both men outside could see how she asked something and Lestrade just waved a hand dismissively at her.
"I could kiss you right now." Sherlock said leaning over John's ear.
John didn't answer. He just chuckled along with Sherlock.
Lestrade fulfilled his promise, a couple of weeks after the museum there was the kidnapping of the banker, no Donovan and no Anderson. Somehow along that case they also solved the one about Ricoletti. There was certain help directly from Italy about the data of the underground mafia and their locations in London where they found the banker. Sherlock did acknowledge about it, and soon he and John had taken a hold that it was Armand Smith's doing things there to help them from afar. Not in vain all of the envelopes they received were signed by '0212020011901'. A code that only the three of them would know about.
And Sherlock was delighted how, being both cases involved, he and John got to solve them without Donovan and Anderson behind them. Of course after that, the Sergeant and the criminalist had retaliated with the deerstalker hat and they had even go that far to convince a few friends from the press to push Sherlock to put it on for a picture.
Needless to say, Greg Lestrade enjoyed that little game infinitely.
And about Sherlock, John had to admit he was infinitely amused on how Sherlock seemed to follow his every request now. Even Lestrade had been teasing them, Sherlock specially. 'Say thank you.' 'Thank you.' 'Put it on.' And Sherlock did. 'Stop pacing.' And he would stop.
And today, a day after all of that, they could finally sit in silence, at last a complete day of silence and quiet after those two last cases. John giggled when he saw Sherlock playing with the tie pin the banker's family gave him as a reward, a book in his other hand. The tie pin gave laps in the air as Sherlock continued his reading and John continued his scrutiny around newspapers. Sherlock had a satisfied expression as he read the book, but there was also something else, John couldn't decipher it.
"You okay?" the doctor questioned from the sofa after half an hour of imperturbable silence. He observed Sherlock, who just played with the item sitting on his usual chair.
John cleared his throat and kept his eyes on Sherlock's form. The new relationship they had developed was not shown during cases or in the flat for that matter, except for a few comments from Sherlock and a few teasing from John. The last kiss they shared was that morning in John's bedroom, but the teasing and comments were almost a constant flirting between them, constants stares, smiles and a few touches. Even Lestrade had rolled his eyes a few times at their tension's display, even if he was really used to it by now, only with no such intensity. Surprisingly enough, he didn't say a thing. He had been a witness of their relationship a few times, especially when Sherlock was drugged.
John was prepared for that kind of relationship, yes, from long ago, but he wanted to demand, he wanted to ask Sherlock about his feelings, he wanted to hear Sherlock say those three words he craved to hear from him. Maybe he knew it, but to actually hear them was a complete different story. Hell, he had told Sherlock that he loved him, he had opened his heart to him the same way Sherlock had opened his mind – and body – to him that night, the morning after that night as well. But Sherlock never opened his heart and that bothered him. A little. Yet he wanted to ask, badly, just a question, a lame question, he knew. 'Do you love me?'
John stood up and walked to the detective who just lifted his glance to look at him. John was smiling. His smile didn't fade when he leaned towards Sherlock's face. The detective didn't change his expression, his lips parted slowly, welcoming the kiss. It was a soft kiss, John let his tongue dart into Sherlock's mouth, the doctor felt a strong grip behind his neck as Sherlock deepened the kiss, tilting his head, closing his eyes, moving his tongue along John's. It was the first kiss after all of that, and John couldn't help the desire to wash over him, like a cold fire growing inside his chest. He felt Sherlock moving his hand to his waist, a silent question to which John answered placing his hand above Sherlock's, sliding it up until it was pressing against his racing heart, his other hand moved behind Sherlock's neck, it crawled under the collar of his shirt.
Mrs. Hudson's steps up the stairs were like a knife cutting the silence and the kiss, despite being slow and silent. Sherlock withdrew his hands quickly from John and John did the same.
It was new, this. To be almost caught in an intimate position. John and Sherlock shared a look, both of them breathing a bit heavily through their noses, both had a weird expression between seriousness and a smile, surprised at their action.
"Yoo hoo!" She called and stopped when she saw John standing awkwardly next to Sherlock who was still sitting on his chair, they moved their eyes away from each other's faces. "Sherlock, dear..." she said, her composure back to normal in seconds, John frowned, sure Mrs. Hudson knew already. It's not like the walls were soundproofs after all... at his own thoughts he took a hand to his temples, rubbing them. "There is a man with a dummy downstairs, he says-"
"Excellent." Sherlock jumped from his chair and practically ran to the front door. John and the landlady shared a look and then a soft chuckle.
"A dummy." John shook his head.
"I thought they were journalists again. What is he up to now?" Mrs. Hudson asked surprised, pointing a thumb over her shoulder in Sherlock's direction.
"I wish I knew." John answered with a shrug. He was grateful she didn't ask about anything. Hell, he was sure she heard something – perhaps everything. Or probably she was used to it, even he had heard Mrs. Turner's married ones a couple of times.
Sherlock returned with the dummy, sitting it carefully on a chair. Mrs. Hudson grinned to it. "I'm glad you're experimenting on a dummy now," she waved her hand to the fridge. John laughed.
"Yes!" Sherlock exclaimed as he went to take a rope. As soon as she saw the knot Sherlock was making she waved exasperatedly and left.
"What the hell are you doing?" John asked, he observed the well dressed dummy. "Most importantly, where did you get it from?"
"Oh, it's not important. I need to talk to him." Sherlock finished the knot, it was one of those knots people usually use to hang themselves. John was so used to weird things that he surprised himself when he didn't even asked about Sherlock's doings.
"Talk to it?"
"Yes. John? Meet Mr. Henry Fishguard." Sherlock said with a comical smile, his open hand pointing the dummy.
"Nice to meet you," John snorted, "I'll leave you both to talk, then." John walked to the bathroom in Sherlock's room, not even bothered to take a change of clothes. As he was about to enter the bathroom he saw Sherlock now sitting in front of his microscope. John just frowned. "New case?"
"Yes, Mr. Fishguard is going to tell me if he killed himself."
"Why didn't you tell me about it?"
"Why would I?"
"Oh. Right." John walked to the bathroom.
"There is still a question pendant between us."
"Ah... yes." John cleared his throat. "Right."
Sherlock lifted his gaze, he knew John was still a bit upset about something, but he couldn't really tell what it was, "You're upset, care to explain? Is this about the press?"
"Confiiirmed bachelor John Watson." John said with a snort and an amused smile.
"Isn't that true?" Sherlock turned his torso a bit, placing his hand on the table.
"Does it bother you?"
"In a way... a little. Yeah."
"Speculation. Lack of privacy, I don't like the press speculating about our-" he gestured with his hand in the air, between them, "-relationship, Sherlock... I think it's low and dangerous in this line of work at some point, okay? It's not important. Just... do what I said, stay out of the news, yes?" John motioned to the dummy and the microscope, his brows up in his forehead.
"Mm-hmm..." Sherlock was absorbed by the microscope in front again. John sighed and walked past Sherlock, to the bathroom.
The phone on the armrest of Sherlock's chair started to sound but Sherlock didn't pay attention to it. If John wanted him to be out of the news this should do. A forgotten case, from an old book, a few samples he had from a neck tissue of a man who had hanged himself would do to prove his theory.
After a while, he had the dummy hanging from the ceiling and he was back at the microscope. He knew the next case, and he also had an idea of what was going on with John. They needed to get used to this new relationship and, for that, John needed a bit of assurance. It wasn't just about the physical pleasure, about the chemistry between them, it was deeper. And John needed to know something Sherlock couldn't confess, not yet.
He loved John. He loved John with all his mind. John was his weakness and he could not conceive a life without him. That much was clear.
But that didn't mean it would do them any good if John just knew the deepness of the bond Sherlock had for him. Not for what was coming ahead. It was better if John just didn't know. Moriarty wanted him destroyed and if John knew it should do him no good at all. Sherlock had made up his mind. If he succeeded, things would be different. But you never know with Moriarty.
Sherlock knew that once Moriarty appeared it would be so he would fulfil his promise. That's why John's words 'he's back' had left him mortified. Just as mortified as John was when reading Moriarty's text. Sherlock quickly saw John's breathing, his reaction, but he knew it was because John was actually concerned about him. And he hated himself for that.
As they reached the Tower in which Moriarty had written "Get Sherlock", said detective was pensive inside the cab. He observed John's behaviour and again, he felt trapped. John was letting his guard down, his eyes darted to Sherlock and the detective could read John wanted to ask but he wasn't able to answer. A single conversation crossed his mind, a couple of days ago, in a crime scene regarding the kidnapped banker.
Sherlock rolled his eyes and hissed as he felt the vibration of his phone in his pocket. John just frowned a bit.
'Well, his wife and kid love him, you can't blame them for that.'
'Still, she is being annoying, interrupting the Yard, texting us "Did you find him?"' Sherlock high pitched his voice at that phrase, waving his hands dramatically, 'every hour won't make us to find her husband quicker...'
'Yeah, but you can't blame her. Every relationship based in... Sherlock, how would you feel if I was the one kidnapped.'
John could see the look of uneasiness in Sherlock's eyes, it was there, for only a second accompanied with a fast jaw clenching. Sherlock was sure that little detail didn't escape John attentive stare and he snapped quickly. 'Talking about hypothetical cases won't help us solve this one.'
But Sherlock knew what John meant, he knew it clearly, he could see it written all over John's face, posture, his eyes, the way he looked at him impatiently, the way his eyes seemed like two magnets attracted to Sherlock each opportunity they had. Sherlock knew, but even if it hurts, all he could do was to keep himself in track, his mind clear to deal with Moriarty's problem when the time comes.
And now, now it was the time.
Perhaps that has been the last opportunity they had, John thought as he sat at the lab, Sherlock had been playing with a little ball all the time, the bouncing had him a bit exasperated, his mind was spinning around the facts, the scream of the girl as soon as she saw Sherlock didn't leave him alone. He was haunted by it, he'd had a nightmare about it and Sherlock was so frigging impassive about the whole matter that John started to build rage and resentment towards Sherlock. It was inevitable and Sherlock knew it too. John seemed a bomb about to explode and that also had Sherlock a bit infuriated because, aside that time in the pool, this time Sherlock knew that John doubting him was a real possibility.
John supported his head on his arms folded over the lab's table. He closed his eyes, thinking about the conversation with Mycroft before. He felt useless, now he knew it was Mycroft's information leaking now but the facts were still floating around his head, not really connecting all of the points. Even though it was clear now, as Sherlock had stated as soon as he got to the lab, that they had to find the code Moriarty had left in their flat.
The doctor started to doze off, Sherlock continued to play with that bloody little sphere.
Earlier this evening, John couldn't hold it that much and all of this started there, he recalled the events, he recalled Sherlock dropping the gun, surprised perhaps at his attempt at humour when saying sarcastically, after Sherlock told him to take his handcuffed hand, that people now will definitely talk as they ran escaping from the police. He recalled the security in Sherlock's eyes when they were at Miss Riley's house, waiting for her to appear to demand answers. He also recalled the fear, the terror in Sherlock's eyes when Moriarty said he was just an actor called Richard Brook hired by Sherlock to play the role of his arch enemy.
And most importantly, he recalled the desperation as he ran to talk to Mycroft, he recalled his own voice, his racing heart, far too evident in front of Sherlock's brother as he scolded him, his hands clenching rapidly as he fought the need to just take the shit out of the man right there, his composure almost completely gone as he talked to the man who claimed to have a minor job in the British government.
John was hurt, his heart was contracted, there was a burning in his chest and he woke up with a start, checking his watch; it was four in the morning and Sherlock continued there, impassive as always, his neck stretched in a pensive state but at the same time, John saw a bit of fear, insecurity, but surprisingly there was also a haughty touch in his posture, the little ball moved in his hand, his legs carefully placed over the table in front.
Sherlock turned to look at John and he managed a weak smile, remembering immediately Molly's words. 'You look sad when you think he can't see you.' Molly was right, it was a bit hard to change his expression as John scrutinized him, still a bit asleep. He didn't say a word.
"You okay?" John asked rubbing his eyes, huffing tiredly.
"You should go home." Was the immediate answer. "Your back is going to be a torture later."
"You think I care?"
Sherlock's expression was neutral, his closed lips moved upwards lightly, it was a silent 'thank you.'
"You want to hear me say it, don't you?"
"What I'm... feeling, you want me to tell you."
"No... no, Sherlock. I can't ask-"
"You've got questions. Doubts."
John stayed quiet for longs minutes, just staring into Sherlock's eyes, returning Sherlock's hard gaze.
"Perhaps questions. No doubts."
Sherlock swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. John was not leaving him alone and suddenly the feelings of the doctor, the security of those eyes was overwhelming, just as he had experienced earlier this evening. A moment he was desperate, the mere thought of John doubting him had made him lose control, to shout, to hit the desk with one, desperate yell 'Can't you see what's going on!?'. And John had him again at a loss of words after his secure words. 'No, I know you for real.' 'One hundred percent?' 'No one could pretend to be such a dick whole the time.'
John found himself looking at the floor for a long time, pursing his lips to a side. Words that failed to cross the passage of his mouth, forming a knot in his throat. He lifted his eyes to look at Sherlock, his eyes felt heavy and his neck was hurting, his back was a hell and a whole different problem, but he didn't care.
"Sherlock." John cleared his throat, "if I... asked you to do something, would you?"
Sherlock felt his heart race in his chest, the tone, the intimate tone John was using held so much that Sherlock felt himself overwhelmed again. He didn't say a thing, he just waited, his lips parted to talk, but the only thing he could do was to wet his lower lip. John noticed that Sherlock was breathing through his mouth and that his face let his harsh facade fall for a second.
"Kiss me." John demanded, the words finally finding their way out of his lips. Even if the tone implied almost an 'I dare you' behind.
Sherlock smiled, it was a tiny smile but John saw it clearly. He also saw Sherlock standing up, slowly moving his feet from the table to the floor, he walked to John, two, three steps until he was standing next to him. John didn't let his eyes move away from Sherlock's face for a while and then he deliberately moved his gaze along Sherlock's body, his eyes stopped at Sherlock's hand, now moving to cup John's face and sliding behind his neck.
John was quiet, he didn't move, he suppressed his desire to grab Sherlock's jacket and pull him closer. He just stayed quietly, watching Sherlock bending over, moving his face to his own. He held his breath as Sherlock's face got closer, so close that it made the whole lab disappear from John's sight. It felt almost like a first kiss. Sherlock's lips lingered above his for a couple of seconds; John could feel, taste Sherlock's hot breath fall over his lips and surely Sherlock could feel his too. Their eyes met and this time, Sherlock closed his eyes first, he moved his face up and down slowly, parting John's lips with his own.
John's breath got trapped in his lungs as Sherlock parted a bit more his lips above his own, closing them again, repeating the process until he darted his tongue out, barely touching John's lips. John answered the kiss properly, slowly, languidly, moving his tongue to touch Sherlock's tongue, Sherlock's lips, tilting his head to deepen the kiss.
Neither of them knew how many minutes it lasted, neither of them noticed when John moved his hands to cup Sherlock's face, and neither noticed the moment in which Sherlock let his little ball inside his jacket's pocket to hold John's face and neck with both of his hands.
Sherlock parted from the kiss and supported his forehead against the doctor's, both of them were panting lightly, the touch of their noses felt oddly intimate despite all the things they had already done. Sherlock met John's lips again, this time into a demanding kiss, eliciting a surprised groan from John's throat.
Moving his mouth to the side of John's neck, he stopped, this time supporting his forehead to John's shoulder. Sherlock whispered something that John's couldn't quite catch, but it sounded suspiciously like a 'forgive me.'
John frowned, opening his eyes, not knowing what Sherlock meant. Again, he didn't want to ask. And again, Sherlock's simple statement 'What I'm feeling. You want me to tell you.' And an answer he had built for hours, for days, perhaps 'I do want to know!' made his way into his mind and he hated himself to be so coward. Truth is, he didn't dare to say the need he had to know he owned Sherlock's heart, he didn't dare to ask. He felt it like a selfish sentiment.
Sherlock took a deep breath, his nose brushing John's jaw as he caressed John's neck, slowly withdrawing from the doctor. John's hands fell to his lap, feeling suddenly empty and cold. The rage he had built made its way into John's mind again. It was disappointment perhaps as he saw Sherlock return to his composure in a matter of seconds; the detective stretched, rearranged his shirt's collar and sat again, lifting his feet and supporting them on the table.
John smirked and nodded silently, eyes fixed in the detective who looked for a couple of seconds like a little, lost child. The expression in Sherlock's eyes – not the rest of his face – was pretty similar to the one he had that time in the pool. John's stomach had a knot inside as he remembered and looked around the lab trying to distract himself. When his gaze landed on Sherlock's face again the detective was completely composed, his face and eyes back to the normal emptiness that it had held before and John, the good doctor, felt this inexplicable rage inside him again.
With a groan he supported his head between his folded arms in the front and in a matter of minutes he started to doze off again.
Sherlock was observing, as always; he could see all of the changes on his friend's face as the rest of the night passed. John's sleep was not relaxed before but after the kiss, John seemed a bit more settled for a couple of seconds. Sherlock couldn't help but wonder what was going on, even if he had a little faint idea.
Of course, sentiments were not his area at all, even if he knew the basic chemistry of them. He was aware but was he supposed to change because of them? John knew he needed to think, he had told that earlier and John respected that.
He took his phone and texted Jack, a bartender that owed him many, many favours. He was glad he still remembered his phone number. For a moment there he almost wished he hadn't erased all of his phone's contacts.
'I need a favour. - SH' Sent at 4:47
'Another one.' Sent at 4:47
The answer took its time to arrive and in the meanwhile, Sherlock took his little rubber ball from his pocket and started to silently play with it again.
'Fake ambulance ready to take you. We'll be waiting the signal. What do you need?' Received at 4:55
'Who's checking on Moriarty? He'll be arriving to Bart's any moment now. Change the signal.' Sent at 4:57
'My son is down the street with Louis' gang. New signal?' 4:59
'I need to take John away from here, so when you see Moriarty arriving, call John as soon the spider's out of sight. Tell him exactly these words: "Martha Hudson has been shot. We found this number in her phone." You will be from ER, need to lure him back to 221B.' Sent 5:04
'Ok. John's number?' Received at 5:05
'Attached. Is Louis with you?' [Attached contact: John Watson] Sent at 5:06
'Yes. He knows his part of the plan.' Received at 5:07
'What about Angelo?' Sent at 5:08
'Driver of the ambulance. John knows us. The three of us can't be seen, so I'm asking the rest. 11 people so far. Plus us 3.' Received at 5:10
'Not in vain you used to be a bank assailant.' Sent at 5:10
'Is that a compliment?' Received at 5:12
'Now? Yes, it is.' Sent at 5:12
'Is this really necessary? What if the plan goes wrong?' Received at 5:15
Sherlock took a deep breath and looked over at John; the doctor was sleeping into a position Sherlock knew it was going to be hell for his back and neck later.
'If the plan goes wrong, you need to tell John everything. Don't imply Molly if you do.' Sent at 5:18
'It can't go wrong!' Received at 5:19
'I assume everything's ready, then.' Sent at 5:20
'Yes. Trash truck ready. Ambulance ready. My son's gonna be the one who knocks John for whatever is going to happen. Perhaps a bicycle or a scooter.' Received at 5:23
'Excellent. I'll leave you to it, then. You're the head of this, Jack. Nothing can fail.' Sent at 5:24
'I believe in you, Sherlock. We all do.' Received at 5:25
Sherlock smiled at this text, a bitter, sad, but satisfied smile somehow. His face contorted for a minute as a child who is about to cry. He swallowed then and his frown returned to his face immediately.
'Delete this conversation.' Sent at 5:25
'Roger.' Received at 5:26
Sherlock deleted the conversation as well and saved the phone in his jacket. He took a deep breath; his mind was working again like a rocket about to explode and, perhaps for the first time, his mind showed him a world with no John Watson around.
Moriarty had been clear that time in 221b, he owed Sherlock a fall. He wanted him destroyed and it was clear that the press found the news they wanted through Miss Riley's reports and this Richard Brook's story. Sherlock snorted at the ironic name and again, in his mind, he couldn't explain how nobody noticed the Richard Brook's name irony. Reichen Bach. German.
Like the fairy tales.
As he looked at John sleeping he felt alone. It was better this way, he knew. Alone would be protecting him from now on. There were endless possibilities from now on, once he encountered James Moriarty. And sadly, alone is what would protect John Watson as well.
It was too soon when John received a call about Mrs. Hudson being shot. Sherlock felt how all of John's rage somehow surfaced at that very moment, calling him a 'machine'. He saw John leave, in his mind he was screaming. He remembered one time, at Dartmoor, when John walked away and that time he had been able to grab his arm, to turn him around and tell him everything, that time he had told John he had felt doubt, he had told John he was his only friend. Stopping him, running behind him.
And Sherlock now wanted to repeat that, he wanted to stand, grab John by his arm, turn him around, perhaps kiss him, with this new relationship they had. He wanted to tell him that he was right; that friends protect people and that was exactly was he was trying to do for his sake, for him, for them.
But he knew better that this time he was right as well, alone, solitude this time was going to protect them both, solitude was going to protect his life. John's life.
And he wanted John to live.
Sherlock never thought to be back into Bart's mortuary so soon and this time, not as a consultant detective but as a "corpse".
The stretcher was cold below him and the lights were off, the place was incredibly chilly and he found himself shivering. He didn't want to stand.
And in his head, John's image was glued as well as John's voice.
He recalled John's words as he made his way to Sherlock's body, he recalled the sensation of John's hand taking his pulse, even if his arm was almost completely numb thanks to the little rubber ball under his armpit.
His mind slowly entered his mind palace until he felt warm hands on his forehead.
"You've got a really nasty wound after all. Even if all of the blood was taken before." Molly said softly, moving his curls to a side, checking the minor injury he managed to get with the fake jump.
Sherlock opened his eyes and shivered again. He sat up slowly, feeling his body incredibly heavy.
"John?" he asked as he looked around. "Where is John?"
"Outside, so keep it down. He wants to see you, I can't convince him otherwise. The guards had to take him down... Sherlock, you've got to tell him."
"I can't. You know Moriarty is alive. There was no splash of blood, Molly, it's impossible a shot on the head would not leave a pattern behind."
"Yes, there is a whole rumour about it, we found the blood pool on the roof top but the body... He was not... The criminalists tested the DNA and-"
"It... belongs to Richard Brook."
"Oh... Of course." Sherlock closed his eyes slowly, he wanted to shout, he wanted to drop something, break something at the realisation. His distressed face was something Molly had seen before. Sherlock had a firm grip on his own scarf, Molly even noticed how the back of his neck, now covered in fake blood, was red from the friction. "I need to see the body."
Molly swallowed and walked to a curtain, she opened it and there was the body of a man who had a real shot in the head. Sherlock moved the jaw and opened his eyes with his thumb.
"Alike, but not Moriarty." Sherlock held his breathe for a couple of seconds, exhaling slowly, still a firm grip on his scarf.
"Sherlock, you need to calm down. You've lost some blood besides half litre I took from you last night. Here-" She walked to a desk nearby and handed Sherlock a cup, it had a clear liquid inside.
"What is it?"
"Vitamins' supplement." At the face Sherlock made, Molly lifted one hand, silently stopping any protests Sherlock was about to do and, surprisingly even to herself, she was not nervous to just tell Sherlock what he had to do. "No. Drink this. You'll listen to me. You told me I counted and I am going to make it worth it."
Sherlock walked to her, took the cup, closed his eyes and drank it all in one gulp. Molly looked somewhat satisfied, despite the pain her eyes held. Once Sherlock was done, he placed the cup back into Molly's hand. He exhaled as one of John's shouts could be heard from outside the morgue, as he tried to get in. 'I need to see him! He is my friend!'
"Don't let John in. You have to convince him. He can't see me. He can't see my corpse."
"What do I tell him?"
"Up to you. I need to go, now. Moriarty is out there and he can't know I am alive. I need to leave. I need to hide."
"There is a back door. You'll have to..."
"I know exactly what to do. I know where to go."
"Louis is waiting outside."
Sherlock turned to leave and Molly couldn't help her tears. She inhaled shakily as Sherlock took off scarf, coat, jacket, shirt and trousers. Underneath he had an uniform, similar to Molly's. Some movements later, all of his clothes were inside a big black bag. He left it on the floor and turned to Molly.
"What are you doing?"
"Hiding at plain sight, I have to leave without being suspicious, so I am going through the front door. Louis is driving the fake ambulance now and..." Sherlock stopped talking, swallowing a lump in his throat as he heard John talking outside. 'Why the fuck not!' Sherlock noticed how John tried to keep his voice calm and under control, but the desperation was obvious in it as well.
"Sherlock, you need to be treated."
"I will. You don't need to worry."
Sherlock took a wet cloth and wiped his face fast, he took a bandage that Molly and him had prepared the night before – just in case – and he wrapped it around his head to prevent blood and his hair to be seen. He put on a light blue cap then and a mask. Molly looked at him and frowned. Sherlock's expression was completely non-Sherlock. With such small elements, he was part of the hospital's staff. She couldn't help an amused smile and a headshake.
Sherlock walked to her and placed a firm hand on her shoulder, only his eyes could be seen and she saw Sherlock again in them. They held security and a petulant stare, but as they looked at her she saw that look subsiding and those eyes smiled, wrinkling at the sides.
"Thank you." Sherlock's words were accompanied by a light squeeze on her shoulder and she thinned her lips into a nervous smile, lifting her brows.
"Anything you need. I am still here. You can call me."
The little wrinkles at Sherlock's sides deepened and, with a quick movement, he took the big bag with clothes and placed it against his chest, opening the door with a big fuss. John was there, his eyes didn't turn to look at him but they fixed inside the place he had just vacated. Sherlock recognised one of the men from Louis' gang holding John, dressed up as a guard. As soon as he saw Sherlock pass next to them he let John go, who just stood at the door of Molly's mortuary asking for Sherlock's body.
Sherlock's chest compressed but he couldn't do anything. He just kept walking.
Alone would protect John this time. John's life.
And he was alright with that, as long as John was safe and sound and as long as he was there to make a better world for them. Without Moriarty, without a brilliant consulting criminal.
Sherlock entered the fake ambulance and Louis drove away to Angelo's place. Sherlock took off his mask and eyed around. Moriarty could be anywhere now.
"You need to tell John." Was the first phrase from Louis. He kept driving, he was also dressed like the staff from St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
"He's a strong man. I uh..." Sherlock looked through the window, "I believe in him."
"Are you okay?"
There was a pause. Sherlock sighed, his eyes fixed outside, his voice almost a whisper. "Nnno."
Louis sighed too, his eyes darted to Sherlock for a second, the detective's profile was hidden. He was reminded once again about that time in the alley. Despite everything, Sherlock was quiet, calmed to plain view, his facade impeccable, except for his throaty voice. "Where are you going now?"
"I know exactly where I have to go, Louis, but if I tell you, you'll be involved." Sherlock waved a hand dismissively.
"I see... I'll drop you at Angelo's and then, what else do I have to do?"
"Talk to Jack. He'll return everything back to normal, the plan is settled."
"Would I ever see you again?"
"Probably, when this is over."
"And that would be?"
Sherlock snorted, a bitter, sad smile crossed his lips for a second. His voice was throaty, "I wish I knew."
Once they were at Angelo's place Sherlock was careful as he got out from the vehicle. Angelo greeted him with a sad smile, he took all of Sherlock's clothes and washed them, washing the blood away. Sherlock took a shower and in that time, he recalled the events from earlier this morning.
At first on the roof top, he started to cry as usual; it was a fake cry, fake tears. It was easy actually, to make his voice tremble, to contort his face in pain, it was all incredibly easy, rehearsed.
But as he talked to John on the phone, he lost it. He lost it at the overwhelming feelings of the doctor and this time, he couldn't help it. A single phrase that almost made him change his plans, that almost made him tell John all about the fake suicide, about the fake fall.
'In fact tell anyone who would listen to you... that I created Moriarty, for my own purposes.'
'Okay, shut up, Sherlock. Shut up. The first time we met. The first time we met, you knew all about my sister. Right?'
'Nobody could be that clever.'
And at that moment, oddly enough, he laughed shortly when in fact that was the moment when the genuine tears appeared. He wanted to tell John that there was Louis, Jack, Angelo, and many homeless John had never met. He wanted to tell John the plan he had with Molly, that the blood he was about to witness was indeed his own – to pass through any kind of standard procedure about DNA – but taken previously by Molly from his arm, not rushing out of his head. He wanted to tell him to wait for him. That he'll be back shortly, hopefully.
Sherlock lifted his eyes, he was naked in Angelo's bathroom. He looked at himself on the fogy mirror; a bit of blood was still on his temple but it was so faint that he didn't pay any attention to it. He recalled the nightmare after the first time in his bed with John. He recalled the things he said to Moriarty on the roof top, the same things that were said in a dream invented by his own mind, by his own fears.
Then he recalled John's words, in a shower, right after that nightmare. So different from his own mind, John's fears were different than his own. He closed his eyes, recalling John's soft breathing against his back, recalling those words. The words that would give him strength, the words that made sure John's feeling were real, deep and solemn. The words that proved John's personality, and the deep bond connecting both of them even after all of the events from this fatidic day.
Days passed, the funeral passed and each time Sherlock observed John from afar his heart, the heart he thought he didn't have, hurt a bit more. He believed in John. He believed in what they had built together and he knew that the game in which Moriarty had made a check mate was a fake one. The white king had fallen, yes, but the same king was there again to restore the pieces back into the board to start a new game, white against black and this time he knew, he was certain, black pieces were going to be hunted down by an invisible white king and queen, by invisible bishops and rooks, a net he had managed to build. His own chess board.
And as a reward, a world safe from the black king. And as his personal reward: John Watson's life.
Sherlock returned to Angelo's home on his last day in London. He had been following John for the lasts days, looking for something, anything, that proved John believing in him even after all of the press' articles. He needed anything. Anything would do.
And today, he had followed John to his grave. John had gone with Mrs. Hudson and there was the moment, the moment in which he had heard John say things to his grave, things about believing in him. The last words from John's lips were strong, a strong belief between the two of them and Sherlock felt his strengths restored.
It was a little confirmation about John's suspicions, it was the anything Sherlock needed.
John asked for a miracle. A miracle that he, deep inside, just proved how much faith John had in him, he asked for the only thing he knew Sherlock could do. He didn't pray to God, even if John had done that before, he didn't do that, he asked for a favour, a personal favour, for him alone. From Sherlock to John.
He just asked Sherlock to stop this.
To stop his death. For his sake.
And it was all Sherlock needed. He watched the scene from afar, his face with his normal frown. If John wanted him to stop his death that was exactly what he was going to do.
He returned to Angelo's house and took his plane tickets, he opened the fridge and ingested an abnormal amount of calories. All he hadn't eaten for almost three days.
"What? What is it?" Angelo asked in his Italian accent as he observed Sherlock swallowing a huge piece of apple pie, he was almost as his usual flawless self, a wind whirl full of energy around the kitchen, sipping the last bit of coffee from his mug.
"The game, Angelo! The game has just begun!" Sherlock exclaimed taking Angelo by his arms and giving this loyal man one soundly kiss on each cheek and he was off, entering a black car that was waiting for him outside.
The car started and Angelo kept his stare outside until the vehicle disappeared.
"Dio sia con voi, amico mio." He muttered as he took his jacket and started to pace to his restaurant. The first thing he did was to take off the little sign praying "Closed for Mourning".
It had been the last day of therapy with Ella. Also the first, but as soon as he was in he decided it was also going to be the last one.
After the first complicated words had left his lips, he couldn't stop. He swallowed his tears and told Ella that he had been a fool, that Sherlock was right all along believing he was stupid, because he really, really was.
"And you know the worst part?" John asked, his voice breathy to such extent, that Ella thought that John would either collapse or have a panic attack any moment. She just shook his head at the question. "The worst part is that I was- I am a coward, I wanted- I still want to know, what he told me, and I didn't tell him that I really, really wanted to know. Why didn't I? Oh, because I'm stupid, a coward."
Ella remained silent after John's scream. She smiled sympathetically to him. Several minutes passed with John regaining his breathing back to normal. Surprisingly, there were no tears.
"Can I...?" John motioned to the bathroom behind her, his voice broken. She nodded slowly, her sympathetic smile widening. John entered the little bathroom and washed his face. He stood there some extra minutes, trying to regain his composure back. He looked at himself in the mirror, his attire completely black. John squared his shoulders and exhaled heavily through his nose, returning completely back to normal to the chair in front of Ella.
After some minutes passed, she started carefully. "You want to continue?"
"Yes." Was John's firm answer.
"The stuff that you wanted to say... but didn't say it."
"Yeah." His voice broke a little again.
"Say it now."
"No." It was only a question, of course he couldn't, nobody could answer that question. Perhaps not even Sherlock himself, now that he thought about it. What would have been Sherlock's answer? "Sorry, I can't."
After several minutes of silence, John stood up, decided. He extended his hand to Ella and the therapist understood that was perhaps the last time she was going to see him.
With a smile coming just out of morality, John walked outside and stretched his back, put his jacket back on and walked to 221B. Once there he didn't go upstairs. He waited outside for Mrs. Hudson. The last time he had been there had been that same day, the same day of "The Fall" as he called it in his head and after that day, he knew he couldn't come back.
Not yet, at least. He was angry, angry with Sherlock and angry with himself. The feeling was so strong that he would probably just go in there and punch and break all of Sherlock's possessions, screaming.
After the cemetery he took a cab to his old, cold flat. Harry called him again, Sarah called him again, even Jeanette called him once. He returned the call to his sister as he threw himself on the bed, kicking his shoes off. She insisted he should go to her place but no. Now he needed to be alone.
Oddly enough, alone was protecting him now. Alone allowed him to think.
"Silence is not the same without you, you know..." John said to the air, not turning the lights on.
He sighed, he knew Ella was right, there was a time when he should say it aloud, just one time, just once.
"Did you love me, Sherlock? Did you feel the same for me?"
He turned on the bed and allowed a tear to fall, it wasn't invisible as the others, it was a real, wet one. He noticed that after those words left his lips he indeed felt with a weight off from his shoulders. Images of the detective, of the moments they shared started to float free around his head, Sherlock's voice, Sherlock's touch, Sherlock's warmth.
For the first time, John Watson took a pillow and punched it against the bed, he strangled it and fought with it until he was panting, throwing it to the floor, picking it up again, he straddled it and strangled it again. Sherlock's grin was plastered over it and he finally hugged it, hiding his face in it, he allowed himself to scream and to cry aloud, his own sounds had him incredibly ashamed but he could care no less about it now. He buried his face in the pillow and fell on his bed again, flat on his stomach, pillow beneath him.
"One last time." He told himself as the rage was slowly subsiding, the feeling passing by self compassion, then to realisation, finally to resignation. He cried himself to sleep.
The next morning John Watson woke up and stood up immediately. He took a shower, dressed up with a white shirt for the first time in weeks and obliged himself to smile at the mirror. He tried several times until the grin wouldn't make a little kid to go away screaming and having nightmares and tilted up his chin. His expression on the mirror suddenly reminded him to Sherlock and it just deepened. Yes. He had spent way so much time with that madman and he certainly hoped that it was more than the mere grin that had rubbed off on him.
His right leg suddenly hurt but he was so convinced of what he had to do that he just stepped firmly his foot on the floor, kicking the pain away. A little scene made its way into his brain, the first day he had spent with Sherlock.
'So, what were we doing there?'
'Oh, just passing the time... and proving a point.'
And that day, Sherlock proved one of many points of John Watson. His limp was indeed psychosomatic and he was not going to spoil what Sherlock had ever proved or fixed in him. The pain was there, present, bothering, but he stepped hard on the floor again. Keeping the pain away was a way to keep Sherlock with him, at some point, so he choose to ignore it. He looked at himself on the mirror again. He was a bit thinner and he smiled as the word 'transport' passed his mind.
Last night had been the only night he hadn't dreamt about the fall, but he dreamed of Sherlock anyway. He dreamed about the deductions and the things the detective's eyes observed. In the dream, Sherlock was drugged, laughing at him from above and Greg Lestrade was filming them. Sherlock had hugged him, screamed to Greg, and then he had whispered in his ear 'As always you see, but you do not observe.' And then Sherlock was on the roof again, throwing his phone and then there was a man knocking him off against the hard, cold floor. And then Sherlock was there again, twiddling an ashtray in front of him, a huge grin on the detective's face.
'You see, but you don't observe.'
He knew exactly what he had to do. His eyes were fixed on the mirror.
'You've never been the most luminous of people but as a conductor of light you are unbeatable.'
"Yes? I just hope it works for me as well, don't we?"
John cleared his throat and took a deep breath, he smirked to the mirror again. Yes. That rehearsed smile should do it, all right. He nodded to himself and walked outside, going to a nearby cafe. He recalled the last time he went to one, it was with Mycroft.
So now he had to observe. It was his plan. He had asked a favour to Sherlock in the cemetery and he had realised Sherlock had asked for one as well, that day on the roof. John was just now paying enough attention to it.
'Keep your eyes fixed on me. Please, would you do this for me?'
'This phone call it's uhm... it's my note. It's what people do, don't they? Leave a note?'
John had to suppress a shiver as he remembered Sherlock's voice and words but there, in the cafe, with the sun light, it was a bit clearer. Sherlock was asking to keep his eyes fixed on him, to observe him, to observe that. Then he asked a favour, to take the phone call as a note. For his own sake, just the same way John had asked a favour in front of Sherlock's grave. 'For me.' That only meant Sherlock trusted him enough and had the same faith John had in him, right?
Scenes from the first case together, when Sherlock was nearly dancing when the woman in pink left a note on the floor. Yes! Sherlock was dancing because the note always meant something. Always.
A waitress gave him a funny look when he clapped a single time in realisation. His eyes were wide open and the "oh!" that had been heard around the place was his, surprisingly. He only realised because the three customers besides him in the cafe were looking at him with a frown. He nearly laughed out loud. It was the same way Sherlock was always looked at when doing something out of place in a public place... or in the Yard, oh hell, or in the flat. How many times didn't he, John Watson, looked at Sherlock like that? He couldn't help a grin.
He needed sugar. He asked for an apple pie along with his coffee.
John, being almost a fan of lists, thought carefully about his plans for today. First he needed to talk to Greg. He didn't know anything about him, he had only heard he was on a temporary leave as the cases in which Sherlock had been involved were being re opened and the evidence re investigated. He shrugged. It was the Yard's problem and it was going to be useful to clear Sherlock's name in the end. When all of them were proved right.
Second, talk to Mrs. Hudson. He was going to ask for the skull today, he needed someone to talk to, and since it was Sherlock's... friend, it could be his as well, right? He was also asking for Sherlock's laptop, even if he knew the password was going to be hell to decipher.
Oh, and the violin.
And perhaps the lasts psychology books Sherlock had been reading. It could lead to... something, anything.
And for now, anything was good for John.
Third, he was going to talk to Mycroft. Today or tomorrow. But it was third. He needed to know more and Mycroft was going to tell him, he was going to give him answers, he was going to be clear but before that, he needed to re read articles from Kitty Riley, from before and after Sherlock's death.
He couldn't go to Mycroft with his hands empty, now could he?
John opened his eyes, realising he was acting much like Sherlock now. His mind was in overdrive and again he wondered if Sherlock always felt this way, the data was flowing from his every pore and he needed something, anything.
He smiled to himself when he thought about nicotine patches. He looked at the little note pad and moved to pages from previous cases.
Perhaps that little notepad was his nicotine patch after all. His own paper-palace.
His thoughts wondered to Mycroft again, he thought about the woman, about Armand, about the cases he couldn't write in his blog.
Mycroft's words flowed into his mind, like sticky honey, and suddenly, he understood the first warning that was the stab in Sherlock's arm. According to Mycroft and calculating a bit, it was the time he had been a bit absent from their lives for almost a month before The Netherlands' case. It was the time, John concluded, in which Moriarty had been interrogated by Mycroft and he had sent the gang to warn him, to warn them, about the dangers to come if they continued.
He also understood that time when Mycroft "advised" him to leave Baker Street, to stay away from Sherlock.
Yes, Mycroft knew something else.
"Sorry, do you have any tape?" he asked the waitress that brought his apple pie. He ate it to such speed that when she came back with it the plate was almost empty.
John joined several blank papers from his notepad together, creating one big, long piece of paper and he wrote in the side of it: "SH's Time Line"
He exited the cafe with a satisfied smirk, looking up to the sky, smiling at the sun, taking his phone from his pocket and sighed, it was the first time talking to the DI after all, they didn't talk at Sherlock's funeral either.
"Greg, are you up for a cuppa?" the voice that greeted him was a worried voice, raspy, dull. John could almost read in it that the DI was just waking up.
"John? God, are you o-"
"Save it, Greg. Meet me in one hour. 221B, Baker Street." John hung up, still this smirk on his face.
Yes. It was not the time to give up, it was just the time to resolve the mystery, to fulfil his friend's favour and for that, he just had to keep on unravelling Sherlock.
A/N: Guys. This has been long months of writing. I can't even start to thank you all for the support, for the favourites, for the followings and specially for the reviews. You can't even imagine my huge grin every time I have one.
You've been terrific and I really appreciate you are reading this A/N. It means the story was good enough to keep on reading, I believe. So thank you, thank you for reading, thank you for putting up with this, thank you for your appreciations and criticisms.
I must add, we all know some scripts and some memories are not mine, those belong to the geniuses - BBC Sherlock's writers - and the genius behind, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Again, thank you, guys. STORY CHANGED TO COMPLETE!