Disclaimer: Sherlock and John belong to ACD's grey cells, and each other in that order... Although the B.B.C. version receives full credit for inspiring me to put a pen to paper.
Summary:An AU, where John is Jim Moriarty's fiancé. He finds out about Jim's job and agrees to testify against him, and is put into protective custody as a result, under the alias Victor Trevor. Sherlock meets Victor, sparks fly. Written for a truly unique prompt on the shkinkmeme; so credit for inspiration goes to the OP.
Author's notes:This was something I was working on before Reichenbach happened and temporarily derailed it.
A special mention and a million thanks to my amazing new beta lady_t_220, for her patience in going though the story, correcting my frankly disastrous punctuation and plugging plot-holes, which I hadn't even noticed. You're a gem. Without you, this story wouldn't have been what it is.
Sherlock's entire body felt like one giant bruise. He was no stranger to waking up in a hospital, but each minute of the last day that he had spent fully awake and contemplating John's fate had been excruciating, to say the least. The imbecilic staff of the hospital had spent over an hour poking and prodding him but no one seemed inclined to summon his brother or even Detective Inspector Lestrade as he had demanded. He was surrounded by stupid, simpering faces which did little to alleviate the swooping feeling in his gut. All they did was ask him to wait.
He was done waiting.
CLANG! The bedpan slammed against the door as Sherlock aimed it perfectly to just miss the nurse who was scrambling out hastily. Another shove and the medicines and paraphernalia on the side table went crashing to the floor. He then twisted around to reach his IV stand in a way that was definitely not good for his stitches but at this point he was far beyond caring.
He was rewarded for his efforts twenty minutes later, when his brother sauntered into the room sedately. Too bad that he had been fully restrained to the bed by then.
"Where the hell were you?" he yelled at Mycroft, wishing he could wipe the floor with the smirk on his face.
Mycroft eyed the mess and the restraints, but he also noted the sweat that had plastered his brother's hair to his forehead as he ignored the pain he was feeling. He tutted exasperatedly. "Most unbecoming, Sherlock. Though it's nice to see that you're back to normal so soon."
Mycroft looked at Sherlock and saw what no one else could. Under all the bluster, his younger brother was coming apart at the seams. He took a seat before he began to speak.
"The bullet was removed from between your lower ribs and will not cause you any lasting damage. Thanks to your trail of bread-crumbs, Detective Inspector Lestrade was able to trace what we think is Jim Moriarty's current base of operation in London; the real one this time. Moriarty himself escaped arrest. Two individuals were found dead on location."
Sherlock's face turned paler than the sheets and both his fists gripped the blanket convulsively as he struggled to keep the already painful process of breathing under his control. This over-reaction was ridiculous. He needed more data. He had failed John but he would be damned before he let Jim escape the consequences of his action. "The sniper?" he sputtered, trying to breathe evenly while avoiding Mycroft's uncharacteristically gentle gaze.
"Oh, we certainly got him," the expression on Mycroft's face was too strange to decipher, but Sherlock didn't dwell on it. There were too many unanswered questions and Seb was the key. Why the hell had he been shot when Mycroft had already given up the code? Not to mention that Jim's right-hand man was most likely to know in which hole Jim was currently hiding. His voice was dangerous, "Where is he?"
"He's here in the hospital. You can see him in the evening."
"No! Right now, Mycroft."
Mycroft took one good look at his brother and instructed the staff to get a wheelchair. Outside the guarded room, Sherlock gestured his brother to stop before saying, "Don't interfere, Mycroft, whatever I may say to get him to spill his guts." Sherlock was planning to use the sniper's unhealthy obsession with Jim to his advantage and he didn't want his brother intruding.
The strange look was back in Mycroft's eyes as he simply nodded in acquiescence and pushed the door open before wheeling Sherlock inside.
As they entered, John Watson had turned and fastened his eyes on the wheelchair. For a frozen moment, Mycroft saw his brother's fingers clutch the chair-hands tightly as his shoulders visibly slumped.
John Watson however was not so restrained in his relief. "God, Sherlock!" He scrambled off the bed and approached the chair. Mycroft took a step back all but forgotten as John got down on his knees to come level with Sherlock, both his hands clutching his brother's shoulders. "Oh Thank God you're alright. I…I'm so bloody sorry. I never wanted to hurt you. Never. It was the only way. Jim wanted me to shoot him, but I'm so relieved you have no idea…"
John continued muttering and holding on to Sherlock as though his brother was the only thing anchoring him right now, but as far as Mycroft could see, Sherlock hadn't moved an inch since he had laid eyes on the ex-army doctor. His fingers twitched but didn't loosen their death-grip on the arm-rests. Finally, John too seemed to catch on that something was off. "Sherlock?" he asked softly, eye-brows drawn together in worry.
That was when Mycroft saw Sherlock's fingers loosen their hold and go limp and oddly still.
Sherlock had always considered himself a sociopath and to date he had conformed to the text-book definition of one. Now all the emotions he was experiencing thrummed like a shot of pure cocaine through his veins after a long withdrawal. John wasn't dead. He was alive, whole and here right in front of him…touching him, and everything in Sherlock illogically screamed to wrap the doctor in a hug and never let go. But his brain was already two steps ahead as usual. WHY? Why was John alive? Why had Jim let him live even after he had been brilliant enough to ruin Jim's game completely?
"Can't threaten to burn what you don't have in the first place. So, I decided to make you one."
Now John was looking at him expectantly. Brilliant, beautiful, human and yet utterly surprising John. The only one who had somehow managed to see Sherlock behind his armour and loved him for everything that he wished to be loved for. And in return, Sherlock would be the sword hanging over his head. The man who had warped the life of a good man even before meeting him. He was the reason why Jim had used John in every sense of the word and he would continue to do so, if Sherlock followed his heart.
He was primed to fall in love with you. You were an exact antithesis; a Jim on the side of the angels. The poor sod didn't stand a chance.
In hindsight, it was so obvious. Even if what Sherlock was experiencing was love, what John was feeling wasn't. It was Jim Moriarty's twisted brain-child. A hideous thing, a parasite that would destroy John eventually if he encouraged it. As for how Sherlock felt, John didn't deserve something like Sherlock's love poisoning his existence.
And it was an indisputable axiom for Sherlock now that John had to exist. Sherlock was selfish enough to want that one thing for himself. Even if John couldn't be with him, he would be somewhere, alive, healthy and happy without the shadow of Jim Moriarty haunting him.
He drank in every line on John's face hungrily, etching the weathered features indelibly into his memory as he steeled himself to give the performance of a lifetime.
"I would have to say that you exceeded all my expectations with your quick thinking, John," Sherlock's voice was too light, too airy which made the compliment weightless and impersonal, like addressing a stranger. He continued in a similar vein, "But Jim isn't here now. So this display of affection is quite unnecessary."
John reeled back like he had been physically slapped. "What the hell are you… Sherlock…NO! You don't expect me to believe…No," he finally gasped.
Sherlock's tone was quiet, steady and utterly convincing but for some reason, Mycroft's eyes kept coming back to his limp fingers. "I believe that you're labouring under a misapprehension, John."
"No…" John was now shaking his head vehemently as if to block out the words he was hearing. He shot Mycroft a poisonous glare, "What did he tell you, Sherlock? Whatever he said, it isn't true. I didn't lead you on deliberately. I…I didn't know that Jim would use me against you like that. Please believe me. I'm telling the truth. I had no idea!"
"-What Jim was planning?" Sherlock completed the sentence, his voice still infuriatingly calm. It made Mycroft's skin itch. "Of course, I believe you. I apologise if my idiotic brother implied otherwise. Jim would never have confided his plans to you. You were never important or intelligent enough for him to do so."
"Then… I don't see it. What are you saying?"
Sherlock sighed tiredly, "You seem to believe that the things we said to each other in captivity, or rather I said to you, were in any way genuine. If so, you're sorely mistaken. I'm a proficient actor and the little scenario we played out was needed in order to throw Jim Moriarty off his game." He fingered the bruise on his chin as though making a point. "It worked beautifully. He was jealous and furious and he slipped up by forcing you to be the sniper. In fact, it's I who should be sorry for leading you on, but now in hindsight, even you must see the brilliance of my plan."
John's countenance had crumpled even further somehow, Mycroft noted. His questioning words sounded hoarse and haggard, "You kissed me, Sherlock, twice…And you said you loved me. Was that a lie too?"
"Yes," Sherlock said simply. "Our first kiss was a result of opportunity and convenience as you had so rightly put it. But the second was purely for Jim's benefit. I wish I could feel truly sorry for the words, but I had to use them. It was the only way to convince Jim of your willing involvement in my charade. You should thank your stars that it worked as well as it did."
For a moment, there was dead silence as John's eyes simply raked over Sherlock's face, his own countenance ashen. But when he spoke, the words sounded so dead as to have made the silence preferable. If Sherlock was speaking the truth (and Mycroft could logically see no evidence to the contrary), the man had every reason to shout, hit his brother even, and Mycroft was ready to intervene if need be. But John's eyes never left Sherlock's as all he did was square his shoulders and mutter a quiet, "I see."
Mycroft sensed rather than saw the tremor that passed through Sherlock in response.
"I think we should leave, brother," Sherlock murmured. "I seem to have overstayed my welcome."
John was still wordlessly kneeling on the floor, as Mycroft wheeled Sherlock out.
It was an uncharacteristically silent Sherlock that Mycroft finally returned to his bed, and Mycroft was just preparing to leave before he finally broke the quiet tension. "Bravo, Sherlock. That was quite the performance."
Sherlock was staring listlessly out of the window. "As I said, it was necessary."
"Oh, not the one you claimed to have orchestrated for James Moriarty's benefit, but the one you just gave. Very…moving. You almost had me convinced."
"Piss off, Mycroft."
"You're absolutely correct though, Sherlock. Caring isn't an advantage." Not if it makes you turn a gun on yourself.
Sherlock smiled self-deprecatingly. "Apparently, just like my deductions, it also isn't something that can be turned off and on at will either." He looked at Mycroft and the naked plea in his eyes reminded Mycroft of how helpless he had looked as a hostage. He still was one, except this time it was his logic in control of his actions. "Keep him safe, Mycroft. I know you can, if you want to. He's- …none of this was his fault. Let him go wherever he wants, but watch over him. Even with me out of the picture, Jim won't forgive and forget."
"And you will focus all your energies on bringing Jim Moriarty to justice. How poetic! And if one day, you do succeed in bringing him down, at the end of this self-imposed hiatus, will you let Dr. Watson know how you really feel?"
There was a long pause which was an answer in itself, when Sherlock turned away from Mycroft to stare at the window again. "I'm very tired, Mycroft. Please close the door when you leave."
There were many things Mycroft wanted to say, but he held his tongue as he left. Besides, actions had always served him better.
Five, four, three, two, one… he counted silently as the guard slumped unconscious in John's tight grip. It had hardly been a challenge to sneak a Diazepam vial and a syringe from the medication trolley while on his way back from the bathroom. He had timed it to match the shift change, so in the chaos a patient slipping in and out was easily missed. He stripped the unconscious guard, laid him on his bed and re-checked his vitals to confirm that he would suffer no lasting ill-effects. Then he swiftly donned the suit the man had been had been wearing, thanking his stars that his guard had been blond-haired. Hopefully the similarity would help John evade detection as he slipped out. He wavered only for a moment before he decided to keep the gun with him.
He closed the door silently behind himself and set off down the corridor. He kept his pace relaxed and unhurried. He even sent a small smile in the direction of the new duty nurse as he passed her. It was the dead of the night and it showed in the exhausted smile she sent his way. Ignoring his deepest wish to find Sherlock, who was somewhere in the same building, he stabbed the lift button for the ground floor. He stepped out of the lift and calmly walked out of the building.
He was on the street and contemplating his hitherto unplanned next move, when a huge black saloon with reflective windows smoothly coasted to a stop in front of him. He took a step back uncertainly just as the back door swung open, followed by the overly unctuous voice. "Get in, Doctor Watson."
John swore as his fingers found the gun and flicked the safety off. How the fuck did he do that? It had taken him less than fifteen minutes to 'escape'. God, as far as general creepiness was concerned, Sherlock's elder brother could give Jim Moriarty a run for his money.
"I assure you that you won't be needing the gun. I only wish to speak with you."
John considered. He realised that he was putting off the inevitable. He got into the car, glowering at its other occupant.
The man looked entirely unconcerned. "We seem to have got off on the wrong foot. Allow me to introduce myself properly. I'm Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's unfortunate elder brother."
"How did you know that I was escaping?" John had been good enough that the guard hadn't had any time to raise an alarm.
"I had your room under audio and video surveillance, Doctor. You could hardly expect me to fall prey to same folly as both Jim Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes. They underestimated you and seeing the result of that, I am inclined not to. However, this cloak and dagger routine would have been quite unnecessary if you would have only waited till morning."
"Does this mean, I'm free now?"
"Then could you please stop the car and let me out? I can make my own way from here," John managed through gritted teeth.
"Is that wise? Do you believe that you can evade Jim Moriarty on your own for the foreseeable future? Wouldn't you like to contemplate some more options that are now at your disposal? I can ensure that you're protected- new identity, new papers, new country, if you so wish. You could have a quiet rural practice, where you could even have a family someday. If that's not exciting enough for you, how about a position in 'Doctors without Borders'? You are a good man and your records show that you were a capable physician. There are a lot of people you could help, out in the world. You must surely see how Jim Moriarty would never leave you in peace for your disobedience."
John's lips had tightened noticeably through Mycroft's little spiel. "And what if I were to tell you that I hope Jim finds me. I hope he does because that will save me the trouble of finding him. Because I won't rest until I do."
Mycroft gave a small smile of realisation, as he finally deciphered the rage in the deep blue eyes. "It didn't really work, did it?"
Something broke in John at the sight of that smile and he finally vented what he had thought he would never get to say. "That's because your brother may be a genius most days, but he's also quite capable of being a spectacular prat. I know him for real, Mr. Holmes. He's a complete nutter, but he does care. If he felt that he could convince me otherwise, he's a bigger fool than I thought."
Mycroft's gaze was puzzled, "For someone who just found out that his last real relationship was a well-concocted lie, aren't you being too loyal, too quickly?"
"I may not be as brilliant as Sherlock Holmes, but it's a simple enough calculation. If Jim is the reason why Sherlock would prefer to ignore his feelings rather than face them, then he has to go. And for that, I have to find him." John's gaze dared Mycroft to object his statement. "Besides, I have a personal score to settle with him as well."
Mycroft huffed out a small laugh, "Scratch my earlier words, Dr. Watson. You are a far more devious man than even I had imagined. Pray, tell me then, if you and Sherlock are both planning to make hunting down Jim Moriarty your life's mission, why not do it together?"
"That had been my original plan before your thick-headed brother decided that I needed baby-sitting."
Mycroft stroked his jaw as he considered. "Fortunately, that situation can be remedied quite easily. Sherlock has given me free rein in arranging your protection. He has also instructed me to allow you to stay where ever you wanted to. And I know of an excellent flat-share in central London that is already under the highest surveillance it is possible for me to arrange. Quite safe. The only hitch is that you would have an asinine room-mate underfoot all the time. What do you say?"
John's mouth had dropped open before he realised that Mycroft was quite serious. Then his lips curved upwards in a wicked smile that reached his eyes, "You wouldn't dare!"
Mycroft nodded as he sat back smiling slowly, "I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of each other, Doctor Watson."
The End... (for now.)
(My beta suggested and I agreed that this would be a fitting place to end a story titled WITNESS PROTECTION. I am planning a sequel, sometime in the future, but (especially) those of you who have followed this story since it started on the meme would know how the gaps were becoming too long. I want to write the sequel spontaneously, which is not happening at the moment. If and when I do write it, it'll be a complete one-shot, however long it may be. But for now, the story is complete. Thanks to each and every reader and reviewer who didn't let me give up on it on more than one occasion. You rock!)
p.s. I have a Sherlock fic-rec blog on my Tumblr, where I rec at least one fic a day (Today is day 175). And I've compiled a Sherlock-whump rec-list with70 stories which is regularly updated, the link to which is on my tumblr, missilemuse dot tumblr dot com. Enjoy!