Sorry this took longer than anticipated. Been very sick for the last two weeks and I was just starting to feel normal enough to sit at my computer for a long time and write a full chapter. Hope you all enjoy it.
After three days of doing everything possible to hold myself back, to not rush her, to do nothing to upset her recovery, it proved a step above impossible. But I most decidedly did. Not. Care.
Not while my arms were full of Moira. The warm, solid, vertical, non-hospital-gowned weight of her.
I couldn't believe she'd thought I no longer wanted her, wanted to pretend that I wasn't ready to scream out how much I'd been wanting her. I would correct that completely mad idea if it was the last thing I did. I knew I should be careful, holding her as tight as I was. I knew she'd only just gotten out of the hospital a few days ago, that she still had her stitches in, that her side was still tender but it was hard to argue when she was holding me just as tightly, pulling me just as close.
We circled the kitchen like a couple of drunks and when her back thumped against the refrigerator and she hissed I tried to make her see reason, or at least consider a change of venue.
"Moira," I gasped in one of the few seconds we sacrificed for oxygen.
"Shut up," she panted.
"Moira. Wait," I caught her face in my hands and held her off for a moment. "Your stitches."
She growled and grabbed me by both my ears. "I am FINE. I am bloody well fine. Now shut. Up. And get BACK here."
I pulled back again and she made a frustrated noise that sounded like a muffled scream.
"I was only going to suggest…that we find somewhere…a little more…private…" I managed between frantic kisses.
"Nothing wrong with here. No one here. Private as can be. Shut. Up."
I groaned and gave him, tugging her close and she all but melted into me.
"Moira, I thought I'd give you a hand with dinner toni-OI, HANDS OFF YOU GREAT IDIOT! SHE'S STILL GOT STITCHES!"
When I would've jumped back I found myself in the vice of Moira's hold on me. She turned her head to Mary, who stood in the doorway, hands on her hips, outrage on her face.
"Mary. In two words. Two very simple words that I will apologize for later but you WILL listen to right now: BUGGER. OFF."
"Absolutely not. You are days out of the hospital. You have stitches in your side. It is too bloody soon for a snogfest in the kitchen."
"Mary! I'm fine!"
Mary gave an undignified snort before marching forward and reaching out to gently grab Moira's side. She didn't make a sound before going dead white and her knees gave way.
"Hey!" I shouted, scooping her into my arms.
"And now my point has been made. Ben, be a dear and get our girl off her bloody stubborn feet. You can continue your activities from a horizontal position and, preferably, a bit more gently," she said with a pointed glare.
"What in the world is going on in here?" came John's voice from down the hall.
"Oh, yes, please," Moira mumbled from her place in my arms. "Let's just invite the whole town into the kitchen."
"Moira? Are you all right? Did you pull your stitches? Let me see," John said as he moved toward us.
"I am fine, John. Mary was just proving a point."
"And what point was that?" he asked.
"That until my stitches come out it is against doctor's orders to engage in a proper snog while pressed up against my refrigerator."
"Oh," he said, flushing red. "I see. Um. Well. She's probably right."
"I was…just taking her upstairs. For a lie-down," I said.
John spared me the coolest of glances and a brief nod. It had been incredibly tense between myself and the doctor since the hospital. I tightened my grip on Moira and walked out of the room. She was silent until we reached her room and I settled her on the bed.
"Are you ever going to tell me what happened," she asked softly.
"What do you mean?" I said, moving to the windows to let the last of the day's sun into the room.
"You and John. You've barely said two words to each other since Mycroft arrived. I know something happened but…it seemed between the two of you. Rather it seemed between John and…Sherlock and I didn't feel right asking. But it bothers you and I suppose I got used to you coming to me when something bothered you."
I sighed and sat down on the bed beside her, she sat up gently and put her hand on mine. "I do come to you when something bothers me. It…helps me. To tell you things. I didn't know how to approach this. I didn't want to bring this up now, Moira. Things were…good. Very good. Before. In the ah…in the kitchen."
She smiled. "Things were very good. And they'll be very good again, I promise you. But this is hurting you. I can see it. Everything else can wait."
I pressed my forehead to hers. "Alright. Alright. It…it's to do with Mycroft, with something he knew, something he told us."
I'd left Moira in her hospital room and walked to the stairs to get to the conference room John's text indicated. In all seriousness I had no idea what to expect when I walked into that room. Had he told my brother about me? Was I going to be a surprise when I walked in there?
John had said that Mycroft knew people, people who could help keep Moira safe. If for no other reason I was doing this for her.
Before I knew it I was standing outside the door. I tapped it softly and waited for an answer. It cracked open an inch and John's face appeared.
"You ready?" he asked softly.
I nodded. John stepped back and opened the door wider. This man who was my brother had his back to me, an umbrella swinging idly from his hand as he stared out the window.
"Well, Doctor Watson? You asked for my help and you've been hedging since I walked into the room. As it happens I do have a few other things that will likely take precedence over this but out of respect for…things in the past I will make whatever resources I have available to you but I'm going to have insist on at least having some idea what my resources are going to be used for."
"Mycroft. There's someone you need to talk to," John said as he placed a bolstering (or restraining) hand on my shoulder.
The man at the window turned, his expression trained into boredom. Until he got a good look at me. There was a minute widening of his eyes before his eyes fell shut and his shoulders slumped. The umbrella dropped to the floor an instant before I found myself caught up in the stranger's arms. Over his shoulder I could see John's face arranged in a comical expression of shock.
"Thank God," came a choked whisper in my ear. "Thank God. Where have you been? Where the hell have you been?"
"I knew it," I heard John whisper.
"John?" I asked, confused. The man, Mycroft, took a step back, hands on my shoulders, squeezing, the boredom was gone, replaced by a mix of frustration and, oddly enough, joy.
"Where were you? When we lost contact with you…God, Sherlock, I feared the worst."
"He won't remember that, Mycroft. He doesn't even remember you." John's voice was cold. Mycroft turned to look at him.
"What do you mean he doesn't remember me?" The man looked incredibly shaken.
"He was injured about eight months ago, which I'm guessing is when you lost contact with him. Head injury. Amnesia. He has no idea who he was, what he did. Nothing."
Mycroft turned to look back at me. "My God. Is this true?"
At a loss for words, I nodded. Mycroft sat heavily in a chair. John's stance screamed of his military past, formal, stiff, braced for battle.
"How long, Mycroft?" he asked. "How long did you know he was alive?"
A hand covered Mycroft's face. "From the beginning."
John's fists bunched reflexively. "So you know why he did it. Why he jumped."
Mycroft looked at John with pained eyes. "You have to understand, John. It was all for your protection."
"So he went to you. The man who sold him out to a psychopath, rather than come to me."
"It had nothing to do with that, John. It was your life on the line."
"You'd better start filling in the blanks, Mycroft. And quickly."
Mycroft sighed. "My brother…he suspected that Moriarty might try something. He did what he does best. He prepared for it. Got Miss Hooper involved. And his homeless network. It was a member of the network who got in touch with me and put me in contact with Miss Hooper who relayed the plan. He had to make you believe it, John. It was the only way to keep you safe. Moriarty threatened your life. Yours, Mrs. Hudson's, Inspector Lestrade's. He had snipers on all of you. Would've had you all killed on the spot if Sherlock hadn't jumped."
"Fine. So he jumped. Survived it. Why didn't he tell me after when it was safe?"
"Because it wasn't safe. Because the snipers were still at large, still prepared to remove all of you if there was even a hint that he'd survived. You cannot imagine the depth of these mens loyalty to James Moriarty. Especially the one he put on you. If he had suspected for even a moment that your grief, your pain and anger weren't 100% genuine, he would've put a bullet in your brain."
"If you knew these men were watching us why didn't you just remove them your way? You've done it before. Plucked Moriarty off the street, held him for no purpose before releasing him onto the world to wreak his havoc."
"Because these men were smart. They needed to be hunted. Hunted by someone they wouldn't see coming."
"Yes. My brother went into hiding and then went hunting. With his help we arrested two of them on legitimate charges that will have them tied up with Interpol, among others, for a century."
"And the third?"
"Sherlock was following a lead on him. But he was…restless. Angry. He felt it was time to bring you in. Ask for your forgiveness and your help. We argued. He ditched the phone and the tracer and by the time my men moved in to calm him down, stop him from doing anything stupid…he was gone. I searched for months. It was like he'd vanished and then we lost track of the third sniper. And I was sure he'd been lost."
Mycroft looked over at me, the first bit of attention either of them had paid me in the last few moments.
"No, he wasn't. I filled in your blanks, Doctor Watson. Perhaps you'd be so kind now as to fill in mine."
John was staring out the window, his face turned from me but judging by the rigidity of his stance, I knew his expression would not be favorable towards me.
"Ask him. I need some bloody air," he said before stomping for the door and slamming it behind him.
I turned back to the man in the chair who was watching me warily.
"You remember nothing?" he asked.
"I'm sorry. I don't."
"But you're…you're well? No other injuries?"
"Aside from a tendency to overwork myself until Moira puts me on bed rest for a day or two…not really."
"She's the one who found me. Saved me. Got me back on my feet."
"I should very much like to thank her before we go back to London."
It was like a shot to my chest. Back to London? Leave Moira?
"I can't go back to London."
"Don't be absurd, it's not safe for you here."
"It's been safe for the last eight months until now and I'm not the one who's hurt. I can't leave. I won't. I will not leave her."
"I understand you feel some responsibility towards this woman who has saved you but my priority is you. I will, of course, make sure that she is kept from harm but we need to get you into hiding again. You're going to need to see a doctor, we'll find a way to get your memories back, I promise."
"Ben! My name is Ben and that's what it is now so you'd better get used to it!" The door banged open again behind me.
"I can hear you two from down the hall! What the bloody hell is going on?" John was back.
I spun around and grabbed John by the shoulders. "I will not leave. I will not go to London and leave Moira here. I know you're angry with me. Him. Me. Whoever, I don't care but I will not leave her. You promised me I wouldn't have to leave."
John stared at me, there was anger in his eyes but it softened at my panic. He patted my shoulder firmly. "I did promise. Don't worry. You're not going anywhere."
He stepped away from me, putting himself between Mycroft and I. "Mycroft, I'm sorry, but he's right. You don't understand what the last eight months have been like for him. He has a life here, he has people, and he's a different person. I don't know what happened to your sniper but he's been safe here the last eight months. He has a life here and he wants to keep living it here. I know you're his brother, I knew you think you know what's best for him, but you don't know what being here has done for him. He's…happy. The happiest I've ever seen him. You can't take him away from that. Not without seeing it for yourself first and then, I promise you, you won't want to take him away from it."
Mycroft paced a few steps away. "What do you suggest I do, John? Just leave him here, exposed to a sniper's bullet? You as well for that matter?"
"No. Employ whatever protection you want. But you put it on all of us: him, me and Moira. Her safety is our priority. We're all in the same place, it should be easy for you."
"And I just go back to London and take your word for this."
The corner of John's mouth tilted up in a mocking smile. "If I learned one thing about the Holmes' brothers it's that neither of you do anything without proper evidence. No, I think you need to stay and see just what kind of a future you're ensuring for your brother. Come back with us, stay at Moira's, see what his life is like, meet her, realize that he's better off here. Think of it as a way to earn my forgiveness, for 'the past' as you put it."
John and Mycroft stared at each other for a long moment, a standoff that felt like it belonged in one of the American Westerns Moira loves so much. Then Mycroft nods.
"Alright, John. I shall reserve judgment."
"Good. Now, it's time to leave, I spoke to Mary, Moira is alright to move so we can get her home. We can discuss what happened last night when we get there and just how we're going to go about keeping Moira safe." Mycroft nodded again.
"I shall alert my people to the change of plan and get some preliminary surveillance in place until I have a better idea of what we're dealing with. Excuse me." He paused as he passed me. "I am…very glad that you're alright. I apologize if I upset you, I just…I thought I'd lost you forever and I will do anything to make sure that that doesn't happen again." With a final nod, he left the room.
I turned back to John. "John, thank you, I-"
John held up a hand before turning to look at me. "I respect that you have no memory of what Mycroft just told us. I respect that you may never remember," he said quietly. "But the fact is I do remember. The fact is that what you did nearly destroyed me. And now I know that you went to your brother instead of me. Your brother who handed all the ammunition that that…lunatic could ever need to destroy you. If it wasn't for Mycroft none of this might've ever happened. And you went to him for help and left me in the dark. I don't care that it was for my safety, that you were doing it to protect me. I told you once before. I was a soldier. I can take care of myself better than you could ever hope to and you keep underestimating me and it cost us years when I could've been in hiding with you, hunting those men with you. And I know that the man who made those decisions wasn't you. But I don't have him to yell at right now and I have nowhere to put all of this…unbelievable fury. So you and I are going to have a hard time of it for a little while until I can figure out what to do with it all. I may snap at you, I may yell at you at some point, I'll apologize for it now and I'll try to remember to apologize then. But right now? I'm not going to pretend that what you did is ok. Alright?"
"Good. Now let's get the bloody hell out of this place. I've had enough for one night."
Moira sighed from her place beside me on the bed. "Poor John…"
I linked my hands with hers. "I feel horrible. I don't understand why I feel horrible, I have no memory of making the decision, no memory of what I did that day or in the year and a half that follow, but I still feel horrible."
She rolled gently towards me and put her head on my shoulder. "I think, on some level, you remember how much he means to you. His pain causes you pain and this is pain that you, the old you, caused so it's all the worse."
"I want to make it better but I don't know how."
She wrapped an arm around him middle and she sighed again, this time I could hear the exhaustion in her voice. "You just need to give him some space," she yawned. "You'll figure it out."
"You're about to fall asleep on me, aren't you?"
I watched her eyes drift closed as she wraps an arm around my middle. "I'm sorry," she yawns again. "I think I am. Do you mind?"
I pulled her more firmly into my arms. "I will never mind." I had left out some of the details of that conversation when I had relayed her. She still didn't know the potential danger she was in and part of me desperately wanted to shake her awake and tell her everything. As she lay sleeping in my arms I realized that lying to her was just one of the many lines that I would be willing to cross to keep her safe in the coming days.
I only wish that it had done any good in the long run.
Uh oh. Trouble is coming. And trouble is bringing a very large gun. Possibly two of them. I'm not sure how many more chapters of this story there are going to be, I've noticed it's taking me longer to get chapters out (though this week an illness and a visit to the hospital for IV fluids for dehydration can most definitely be blamed), but there will be at least four (possibly more), not including the epilogue so I'm happy about that. I hope you all enjoyed this and please continue to review.