Title: Friends Protect People
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: John/Sherlock (friendship)
Wordcount: ~1,000
Warnings: spoilers for TRF, character death(s) - nonexplicit
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock, and I do not make any money from this fanwork.
Summary: Friends protect people. John protects Sherlock.

John startles awake, scenes from his nightmare still flashing through his mind. Sherlock, alone, at the pool. Sherlock, alone, facing Moriarty. He remembers Sherlock turning his back to him last night, then slipping his mobile back into his coat as he turned. Would he?

Of course he would. He's Sherlock. He'll do anything and everything alone, because he hates relying on anyone else for help. John lets Sherlock know he is going to the break room to make himself some tea. He doesn't mention the detour he intends to make first.


"Here, have some tea," John offers, holding out the mug.

"No," Sherlock responds dismissively, still fiddling with that damn rubber ball.

"Sherlock, please have some tea. You haven't eaten or had anything to drink since Lestrade came to arrest you," John says, plucking the rubber ball away and pressing the mug into his friend's hands.

Sherlock sighs, but acquiesces by taking a large sip. Then he raises his eyebrow at John, as if to say: 'There. Happy?'

John's not happy, exactly. But he is satisfied. This is for the best, really.

John catches the mug before it can slip from Sherlock's suddenly slack grip, placing it on the table. Then he lets Sherlock lean his boneless weight against him, helping his friend to the floor so he will not fall and hurt himself. That is exactly what John is trying to prevent, after all.

John's mobile rings. He ignores it. Instead, he reaches into Sherlock's coat pocket and switches their mobiles. He opens Sherlock's sent text messages. Just as he suspected. John closes his eyes, bracing himself for what he has to do. Then he passes a hand gently through Sherlock's dark hair, before leaning down to press a quick kiss to his forehead.

"You are the most amazing idiot," John whispers softly. "I just want you to know that."

Sherlock's mobile beeps in his hand, indicating another text message. John stands.

Moriarty is waiting.


Sherlock twitches, feeling like something is pressing down on his chest. The weight shifts, pulling off.

"Sherlock. Sherlock."

Someone is shaking him. He goes to push them away. His arms protest the movement, feeling heavy.

"Sherlock, you have to wake up."

Molly. It's Molly, calling his name. She's crying.

Why would Molly be crying?

Where's John?

John. John gave him tea. Why is Sherlock sleeping? He has to go meet Moriarty. Suddenly, the fuzzy confusion clears from Sherlock's mind, and everything comes together. Sherlock snaps awake. He's lying in a hospital bed, Molly by his side. There are 2 - no 3 - MI6 agents posted outside his door. It has Mycroft written all over it.

"Is John dead?" Sherlock asks her. It's a useless question, really. Pointless. Sentiment. He knows the answer, of course he does. Of course he...

"No," Molly answers.

Sherlock would be shocked, but he can practically hear the 'Not yet' that she doesn't say.

"He woke up from a nightmare. Not Afghanistan. I always know when he dreams about Afghanistan - he holds himself differently when he wakes. Likely The Pool, then. He remembered me going off on my own, inferred that I was planning to do the same. He went to make himself tea. He drank a cup, because he needed to not alert me to his plan. Then he slipped a fast-acting sedative into my own tea, enough that just a single sip would work. He knew - he knew that I can't completely refuse him if he presses tea into my hands, but I rarely take more than a single sip to humour him. Then he... he took my mobile. Read the message I sent. Went - went up to the roof. Moriarty..." Sherlock's voice breaks. He turns his head to the side so he does not have to see the sympathy in Molly's eyes.

Mycroft walks into the room. He and Molly must share a glance, because she leaves quietly a moment later.

"John called me. He informed me of your location, and then proceeded to meet Moriarty on the roof," Mycroft tells him. "He left your mobile on speakerphone in his pocket. Moriarty intended to force you to commit suicide by threatening your... friends. He had snipers in place. Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade are safe."

"The snipers?" Sherlock asks dully, not bothering to look at his brother.

"Cyanide pills under their tongues," Mycroft responds.

"Moriarty?" he questions, almost hoping the criminal isn't dead.

Sherlock would like some time with him. In a locked room. With the case of tools and chemicals that he hides from John under the loose floorboard in his room.

"Suicide. Gunshot wound between the eyes," his brother answers.

"J-John?" Sherlock gasps.

"Sherlock..." Mycroft trails off.

"John?" he snaps, turning to look at his brother for the first time since he entered the room.

"Sniper bullet to the chest," his brother answers.

"Not the head? Why not the head?" Sherlock mumbles. "Oh, of course. The sniper was prepared to shoot John at ground level. Bad angle. He decided to take the larger target, rather than chance missing and let John know he was there."

They lapse into silence.

"Will he... No, that's not the right question," Sherlock whispers, wishing for once that his mind would just stop and at least leave him the smallest crumb of hope. "How long does he have?"

Mycroft doesn't have to answer. The expression on that normally expressionless face is enough.

John isn't going to make it through the night.

Sherlock wants to curl into a ball and ignore the rest of the world, but instead he stands up. He walks passed Mycroft, grabbing his coat on the way. He feels the weight immediately. It's John's mobile. There are three unopened text messages and a voicemail. Both from Sherlock's mobile. Sherlock takes a deep breath and opens them, one by one.

I'm not sorry. JW.

Don't listen to the voicemail unless I'm dead. Please. JW.

I love you. JW.

Sherlock clutches the mobile to his chest, as he slumps against the wall and slides to the floor. Mycroft looks at him with sad, assessing eyes. Sherlock knows his brother is wondering if Sherlock intends to follow. Sherlock supposes it depends on the contents of the voicemail.

"He's still in the ER," Mycroft tells him. He knows that he would have to drug Sherlock again to keep him away.

Sherlock nods, stands on shaky legs, and goes.