I wrote this while Drunk and with a fever of about 100. So I do apologize in advance for anything weird here. XD
A Tale of Two Soldiers
John baked in the heat of the desert, his skin a deep tan. It was a quiet day, all things considered. Almost too quiet. Sweat slid down the back of his neck and over his face as he stumbled into his makeshift home for the evening. It was just a canvas tent really, it blended in well with the sandy surroundings. It was intensely humid within the confines of the tent, and the sun was still an hour away from setting. Then it would get cold. So painfully cold that the heat of the day would leave completely and a chill would settle in so firmly that John could sometimes forget that he was in Afghanistan at all. Sometimes he would close his eyes and in the frigid night he would pretend he was home, and it was snowing.
London looked so beautiful under a blanket of snow. The tent was already settled for the evening. Some of the men were out and about, playing cards while propped against sun warmed rocks, others were lying on their cots, looking at pictures and letters from loved ones. John never got letters from loved ones. His parents had turned their backs on him in his Uni days when he'd told them he was gay, and to have already dealt with Harry's dramatic outing, they couldn't stomach two gay children.
Harry was too drunk and caught up in her dying marriage to bother either.
John was one of the only two men in his squadron to never receive a letter from home. The other soldier was Colonel Sebastian Moran. John didn't ask Sebastian why he was isolated, and simply took solace in the fact that he wasn't the only one here who came to this war to escape. Sebastian was stretched out across his cot, arm slung over his eyes as he tried to relax in the insufferable, sticky atmosphere. John approached the cot with caution, seeing Sebastian had unbuttoned his cammo, and his undershirt was drenched beneath it. Sebastian's chest heaved evenly, his dog tags curled about his neck and resting in the dip of his collarbone.
Sebastian seemed to sense John's presence, and without moving his hand he addressed the other soldier.
"Captain." came his gruff greeting. His voice was charred by the chain smoking he managed to do out here. How anyone could uphold a smoking habit in this climate, let alone this war, was beyond John. But he didn't mind watching the man do it. It was interesting to see something so simple and domestic when you were usually seeing bloodshed and carnage.
"Colonel." John replied warmly, trying not to smile as the other man slowly wiped his arm across his face and sat up to look at him. Sebastian's boots hit the sand as he straddled the cot. Sebastian was gazing up at John with strong, hazel eyes and a set expression. He looked deadly serious, but John saw the hints of mirth behind the other man's eyes.
"Somethin' you wanted, Captain?" Sebastian inquired, his voice low so only John could hear. John nodded, schooling his face into something as serious as possible.
"Was thinking of taking a walk around the perimeter. You know. Make sure it's secure. The men are quite at ease. Seemed a good time." John offered, and Sebastian pushed himself up from the cot, nodding at the other man.
"Good thinking Captain. I'll accompany you." Sebastian said, pulling a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from the front pocket of his fatigue shirt. John lead the way out of the tent and Sebastian fell into step beside him while tapping a cigarette out of the pack and pressing it between his lips. They made their way through the encampment to the outskirts, Sebastian's fag leaving a tiny trail of smoke through the air behind them.
Once out of earshot and easy line of sight, Sebastian sighed and visibly relaxed.
"Fucks sake, John..." Sebastian commented blandly, and John chuckled a bit, knowing just what Sebastian meant. The war was dragging on and on with no end in sight.
"I know, mate. Two years we've been at this..." John replied with a sigh, looking up at the sky. It was many shades of orange, magenta, and deep purple as the sun sank on the horizon. Sebastian took another long drag from his cigarette and flicked away the ashes.
"Not sure how much more these men can take." Sebastian looked over at John with a slight frown and John nodded in understanding.
"We'll see 'em through to the end." John stated, though his tone implied more of a question. Sebastian reached over and gripped John's shoulder, causing the man to halt.
"John..." his voice was thick and strained, and not for the first time, John wondered just what went on inside that strange head of Sebastian's. The army doctor looked over at his Colonel and raised a brow, reaching up and placing his hand over the other man's.
"Sebastian...?" John's voice was calming, all the perfect, doctorly bedside manner spreading out in the way he spoke. It made Sebastian smile again, his eyes crinkling a bit as he did so. It was something John enjoyed seeing. Sebastian looked quite handsome when he smiled.
"John, I want you to kiss me." Sebastian replied quietly. John's eyes widened and he let his hand slip away from Sebastian's. John's throat bobbed with a hard swallow and Sebastian watched John's tongue dart out over his lips. It was a nervous tick he'd noticed in the other man ages ago. He'd also noticed that when elbow deep in wound care or any intensive medical work really, John's tongue would poke out of the corner of his mouth as he concentrated hard on the job at hand.
Sebastian tensed as John's silence stretched over minutes and when it finally broke, he let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"When we get home, mate." John replied, reaching over and patting Sebastian's chest firmly, a warm smile on his lips again. Sebastian gave a half hearted chuckle and shook his head.
"If we make it home." Sebastian pointed out darkly, leaving John to roll his eyes. John squeezed Sebastian's shoulder reassuringly.
"We will." John insisted. Sebastian nodded, though he didn't looks so sure of himself.
"Well then when we get back, I'm holding you to that." he whispered, looking out at the endless stretch of desert around them. John smiled and nodded.
"I look forward to it."
John felt the bullet as it screamed through the air and tore through his shoulder, knocking him back. It was at that moment that John really realized how much he didn't want to die out here. He screamed in agony, and one of his men tried to get down to help him up. John shoved him away.
"Go! GO GO GO!" he commanded. He wasn't sure how everything had gone south so quickly, but he was forcing himself up onto his feet and running on pure adrenaline. He could feel himself getting dizzy. The shot had blown a hole in the back of his shoulder that he was quickly losing blood through. The close range of the shot could have killed him, and still might.
They were running. The bombs were falling. Men were being lost, shot down in their prime left and right. John began to trip and stumble as he lost his ability to be at all coherent or competent. As he hit the hard ground, sand and dirt filling his mouth, he felt a strong arm lifting him up and slinging him this way and that. He found himself hanging over the shoulder of another soldier.
"Don't you dare die on me Watson!" came the familiar, harsh baritone of Colonel Sebastian Moran. He laughed bitterly.
"Can't make any promises Colonel!" he shouted back, wheezing as he went into shock and felt quite limp against Sebastian's back. His world went fuzzy at the edges and then faded to black.
It felt like days passed before he really woke up again. The time in between was all broken snippets. Questions he didn't have answers for, statements that hardly made sense...
"Can you feel your arm, Captain?"
"We're going to have to do some surgery, Captain."
"We've done all we can do, but you'll never shoot with this arm again. Too much nerve damage..."
"We're sorry Doctor Watson."
John's eyes cracked open and he looked around with bleary vision, blinking hard as he tried to clear his sight of all clouds. The room he was in was humid, but smelled of antiseptic, and was quite quiet.
"Sebastian...?" John croaked, looking over to the side of his bed too see Sebastian seated beside him. "What's... What day is it? How long have I been out...?"
Sebastian hardly moved, his face a deep and penetrating frown.
"You've been in and out of consciousness for a week now..." Sebastian said softly, holding a few sheets of paper, a gun, and a folded up British flag in his hands. John tried to make sense of why Sebastian would have those things.
"I asked them... I told them I wanted to be the one to tell you... You've been discharged, John. With honors..." Sebastian said softly, his tone bitter and his eyes downcast. John felt his heart stop for a moment and he reached toward Sebastian.
"I... I don't want to..." John stammered, tears welling in his bloodshot eyes. Sebastian nodded and set the papers and the gun on the table beside John's bed.
"I know, Captain..." Sebastian replied softly. He placed the folded flag on John's lap. "That's... My flag. I'm keeping yours... Since you're leavin' me in this mess..."
John gave a slight sob as he ran his fingers over the flag.
"Oh God it's all gone wrong, hasn't it...?" John whispered more to himself than Sebastian. Sebastian placed a hand over John's.
"I promise. When I get back, I will find you, John. I promise. I will get back to you..." Sebastian said sharply, his voice barely audible. The words were meant for John's ears only, and they brought a broken laugh from John.
"You better..." John replied, turning his hand over to grasp at Sebastian's. Sebastian squeezed his hand and managed a small smile.
"I will. I have to... You still owe me a kiss, soldier." Sebastian's eyes were a bit misty, and John knew that a long goodbye was no good for either of them. So he pulled his hand away.
"You've got men to look after. They'll see to me." John said, gesturing for the door. Sebastian nodded stiffly and stood, his fingers fumbling for his cigarettes as he left without another word.
When John returned home, he wrote to Sebastian every day. He never sent the letters. Merely kept them in a box. He'd give them to him when he saw him again...
John had been living with Sherlock for three months before Sherlock stumbled across the wooden box full of letters. Sherlock had no sense about personal boundaries, and claimed he'd been looking for John's laptop. John had started hiding it from Sherlock ages ago, but the detective could not be so easily deterred from using the device, despite having one of his own.
"John... If you feel so strongly, why have you not looked for him? And why did you never send your letters?" Sherlock inquired, frowning as the box of fascinating and incredibly personal letters was wrenched from his hands.
"You wouldn't understand, Sherlock. It just... It wouldn't have been right, to send him these..." John replied harshly, hugging the box closer to his chest. Sherlock stood up quickly, and reached out, placing a tentative hand on John's shoulder.
"We should find him..." Sherlock announced with a strange twinge of warmth in his tone, but also a slight look of disappointment on his face. John didn't catch it. He wasn't as observant as Sherlock...
"You'd help me?" John asked softly, his throat constricted as he thought about seeing Sebastian again.
"Yes. You're my friend, John. It's my duty to help."
Sebastian hadn't ever expected to walk free. When he'd been arrested for deserting, he was certain he would be in jail for the rest of his life. He'd been prepared to do it, too. His only regret was that he'd never see John again. John with all his warmth and pure-hearted goodness... John wouldn't ever want to associate with again anyway. Not now. He was a criminal. He'd shot a commanding officer. He'd deserted his men in favor of taking up life in India. He'd fled to a jungle where he thought he could hide well amongst the brush and the humidity. He hunted tigers for sport, revelling in the chase and letting go of a part of him that made him human.
And then he'd been found out. He'd been caught. Three months living under a rock like a salamander and he'd been found.
Shipped back to "Queen and Country" just to be locked up.
And then, at his trial, despite all the evidence stacked against him and having no lawyer, he was found not-guilty.
Just like that, Sebastian was a free man.
And as he left the courthouse he found out why. Waiting for him was a small and unassuming looking man. He was wearing designer jeans and a v-neck shirt under his black leather jacket. Sebastian was put off by the way the man chewed exaggeratedly at a piece of gum in his mouth. The little man pushed his aviator sunglasses down his nose far enough that Sebastian could meet his pitch black gaze. The look in those eyes reminded Sebastian of a tiger's eyes. They were the eyes of a predator.
"So you get to walk free then? Too bad your reputation is shot and you'll never get another decent job again, eh?" the man mused, his accent lilting and Irish. Sebastian turned his nose up at the other man.
"Yeah? And what do you care?" he sneered a little predator, his mind flitting to John. John would know about this and there really was no way to put a good spin on his actions. Sebastian thought of his shattered reputation and wanted to weep in defeat. He was a free man on home soil and he couldn't face his shame long enough to go looking for John.
"I care because I'm the one who made it all possible, Sebastian. I want you to come work for me. Personal body guard, right hand man type stuff." the dark eyed man said, his face twitching a little as his head canted from side to side when he spoke.
"And you are?" Sebastian demanded, towering over the smaller man as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
"Jim. Jim Moriarty." tiny man said, extending his hand to Sebastian who looked at it and then at Jim's face. Jim withdrew his hand and the smile he wore seemed to crack at the edges a bit at Sebastian's brush off. There was a long stretch of silence where they just looked at each other, before Sebastian finally said something:
"What's it pay?"
When John saw Sebastian again, his heart felt like it might explode it began pounding so hard and fast. The smell of chlorine was heavy in the air and Sebastian was up in a balcony area looking down on him, his hands positioned on a sniper rifle. John watched the little red dots dance about on himself and Sherlock while Moriarty stood there with that wicked little grin on his face.
"You just couldn't leave well enough alone, Sherly. You had to keep digging and trying to find my darling, Sebastian. He was pronounced dead! And yet you kept looking. You never told John what you found. You never gave up. It's so sweet and saccharin and PATHETIC. You kept his hopes up even when facts said all hope was lost. You'd do anything to see John happy. And look where it's got you..." Moriarty taunted. John felt like he couldn't breathe. He didn't care if Sherlock had kept the facts from him, because the facts weren't true... He was right there.
"S...S'bastian..." John wheezed, watching the rifle that Sebastian had been holding clatter to the ground. Jim looked up to the balcony and gave an angry roar as he watched Sebastian abandon his post. Sebastian was running down the steps and came bursting through the door without a second thought of what could possibly happen to him. He shoved Sherlock aside, ignoring the splash of water that hit him as the detective crashed into the pool. All he saw was John, and all he could think about was John, and all he wanted was John.
John was stiff and in shock, he registered Moriarty shouting, but it was all muffled by the hammering of his own heart. Sebastian was tearing the semtex off him and throwing it into the pool.
"John are you alright? John! John please say something!" Sebastian urged, shaking John by his shoulders. John could scarcely breathe.
"I thought I'd never see you again." John gasped out.
"Oh this is all VERY touching!" Jim shouted, and then, just like that, Jim was collapsing to the ground. One swift crack on the skull with the butt of a pistol. As he fell, Sebastian and John saw a sopping wet Sherlock standing there with a look of horrified shock on his face.
"John..." Sherlock began, looking at Sebastian carefully as Sebastian cradled John close. "John he's dangerous. He was working for Moriarty."
John laughed, and the sound was harsh, bitten off and broken. John leaned into Sebastian, and Sebastian looked ready to pick John up and run at any moment.
"You read the letters Sherlock. I don't care." John replied, taking Sebastian's hand. "And if you've any compassion in your heart for me at all, you won't follow."
They ran, together they ran. The touch of their hands, skin on skin for the first time in what felt like an eternity made them feel on fire, so alive. It was perfect. They ran all the way back to Baker Street. They didn't stop running until they were in the door. John was packing in a hurry, throwing things in a suitcase at random while Sebastian grinned like a mad man. They were laughing, having thought they'd never laugh together again. As John packed his fingers hit the wooden box on the shelf in his closet and he grabbed it too.
It wasn't until they were in a cab that John realized he'd forgotten his laptop. As he curled into Sebastian's side and pressed the box into the other man's hands he also realized he didn't care. Let Sherlock have the damn thing. He had what he needed.
"What's this?" Sebastian asked, his voice trembling as his fingers moved over the smooth wood of the box.
"They're for you." John replied softly. Sebastian tipped the lid open and laughed a bit, his face looking like it might crack he was smile so wide.
"You wrote to me..." Sebastian accused. "You bloody wrote to me!"
John nodded, slipping his fingers along the back of Sebastian's head.
"Yeah. I did. And you wanted me to kiss you. So we're both saps." John replied, pulling Sebastian to him. And for the first time since the moment they'd met, they kissed.
John relaxed against Sebastian's chest as they laid out on a sheet on the sand. The chirping over birds and crashing of waves was the perfect sort of peace they'd both always sort of desired. Now they were free of everyone and everything. With what money Sebastian had in his bank account from working for Jim they'd fled the country and Sebastian erased them both from public record. As far as anyone else was concerned, John Watson and Sebastian Moran never existed.
Here in their home among the Virgin Islands, they could disappear. It was a modest life. All clear blue ocean and ruby red sunsets on the horizon.
"What was it like... Being with Jim?" John asked softly, running his fingers over Sebastian's dog tags as they laid together in the warm sun. Sebastian took a deep breath and then slowly exhaled.
"It was like living in a nightmare... Except I enjoyed it. It was a distraction... A... purpose. Before him I was... Flailing. When I was in Afghanistan all I could think of was getting back to you... So much so that when my commanding officer tried to touch me... I stopped him. He was a man crazed. Said he knew about you and I, and would destroy me if I didn't go along with what he wanted from me. So I shot him and I ran. I ran until my feet bled and then I ran some more... But I could never really run far enough. Jim paid off the jury and got me out of a life-sentence for murder and deserting. He fixed me with a job I was good at and I kept my head down and did it." Sebastian explained softly.
"The devil has a funny way of making even the dirtiest things look like masterpieces. I owed him my freedom and... Well I figured you'd never want anythin' to do with me anymore after all I'd done."
John pushed himself up so he could look down at Sebastian, his cool cobalt eyes meeting Sebastian's warm hazel ones.
"I'm just glad to have you with me again. I missed you." John replied softly, leaning down and kissing Sebastian softly. When they parted Sebastian smiled up at him. It was a contented and calm expression that made John feel at ease.
"What was it like with Sherlock?" Sebastian asked in turn. John chuckled softly.
"It was like chasing a wolf through the streets of London and never quite keeping up with him. I was always just catching a glimpse of his tail end as he rounded another corner into a new case, a new murder, a new adventure..." John mused softly, leaning down and pressing his forehead to Sebastian's.
"What's it like being with me?" Sebastian whispered, and John kissed him again, firmly, his tongue slipping over Sebastian's lips and into his mouth. Their tongues touched in a familiar and still somewhat tentative way and John inhaled sharply, dragging the air from Sebastian's lungs. Sebastian pulled away, closing his eyes and gasping for air.
"It's like that..." John whispered back, kissing at the corners of Sebastian's mouth. "It's like breathing in air I didn't know I needed so badly."
I know you're close to finding us. This letter will probably be riddled with clues that only you can see that point to exactly where we are. So I'm trusting you not to be an arse about it, and to just appreciate the fact that I'm contacting you at all ya git.
Just wanted to wish you a Happy Christmas. Don't spend it alone.
Sherlock looked at the paper closely, sniffed it, and exhaled.
"The Virgin Islands! Of course!" he hissed to himself, and then he read the letter a second time, something dawning on him. He looked back down at the letter and fought with the little smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
He pulled out a pen and sheet of note paper.
You're a spectacular idiot. I'm sure we'll see each other again soon, though. If my deductions are correct. Which they nearly always are.
As Sherlock folded the letter up and set it aside, there was a knock on his door and he smiled and whispered to himself:
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