"John, John wake up." Sherlock called out softly from his position by John's bedroom door. He knew better now, than to touch John when he was sleeping even if he didn't look to be suffering from nightmares.
John stirred and opened his eyes blearily. "Sherlock? What is it? What time is it?"
Sherlock walked in the room as John sat up, he kneeled down by John's bedside. "John, I need to tell you something very important so you need to listen to me."
John paused in the middle of rubbing sleep out of his eyes and looked at him. "Okay, Sherlock, who's dead?" he asked half-jokingly, half-warily.
"Two military men. General Kenswick, and Major Dunwhite." Sherlock told him bluntly.
"Oh my God..." John gasped. "I met Major Dunwhite once before."
"John, you told me you saw Kelly on the way home from work and I checked it out. Major Dunwhite was killed there, shot by a sniper rifle. Lestrade is on the case."
John stared at him. "Greg is...?"
"Yes, and he didn't want to tell you about it, probably because he didn't want to upset you. But he's on his way to apprehend Kelly." Sherlock fell silent, giving John a chance to leave himself out of it.
John stared at his hand curled in his lap for a few minutes. Then he looked up. "Where to?" he asked firmly in his 'Captain John H. Watson' voice.
Sherlock smiled almost proudly.
"John." Lestrade nodded when he saw the cab pull up and the Baker Street Duo step out. "Glad to see you."
John nodded back curtly. "You too, Greg."
"I thought you said you wouldn't involve them." Donovan said with an odd expression that could almost be translated into concern if you stood on your head and squinted... hard.
"I know-... knew Bart's younger brother, Joey." John told them. "We were in the same unit."
"I heard about what happened." Lestrade frowned. "I'm sorry."
"It must be what pushed Bart over the edge." John shook his head. "He was elusive and withdrawn, but he loved his brother more than anything else."
"Do you know why he chose these victims specifically?" Sherlock asked.
"General Kenswick was the one who made the pretty awful decision that resulted in Private Joseph Kelly's death, and Major Dunwhite bungled up in the field and got Kelly's leg blown off." Lestrade sighed wearily. "That's some pretty serious motive right there."
"He was diagnosed with severe PTSD and couldn't keep a steady job." Donovan frowned. "One too many panic attacks, one too many failures, too much time to simmer in his rage and something in him must've snapped."
John briefly felt his shoulder twinge and his leg throb, and wondered if this is what he would've ended up like if he had never met Sherlock.
Sherlock saw Lestrade and Donovan sending John worried glances and stole their attention. "What's the situation?"
Lestrade shook his head. "We think he's holed up in his flat, up there." He pointed at an apartment complex. "We're still laying low until the rest of the residents clear the building."
John nodded. "I know I shouldn't ask this-..."
Lestrade stopped him with a raised hand. "Then ask it later." He turned to Donovan as he shrugged a bulletproof vest on. "Get the boys ready, we're going in. Sherlock, you and Donovan watch the front, we've got snipers on sight so don't get in their way." He turned and rattled off orders to a few other officers before turning back. "Alright, everybody move out! John, you're with me."
John's eyebrows ran and hid in his hairline. "What?"
"You heard me, you're with me." Lestrade repeated as he led the way to the back entrance of the apartment complex.
"But, isn't that against protocol, or something?" Which was why John had been hesitant to ask if he could join in on the sting.
Lestrade just looked at him and grinned. "We're going in to confront a trained military man and I don't think my fighting skills can match his if push comes to shove, prosthetic leg, or not. I'd feel better with an ex-military man backing me up." He winked. "It's not breaking protocol, it's called making the best of a bad situation even if I'm involving a civilian."
John just smiled and shook his head. "Lead the way then."
They reached the floor that Kelly's flat was on and snuck to the flat in question, officers decked out in full body armor crowded behind them. John could see snipers peeking off the roofs of buildings surrounding them.
Lestrade took a deep breath and nodded at John before pounding on the door. "Bartholomew Kelly? This is the police! Open up!"
Lestrade and John exchanged glances and Lestrade pounded on the door again. "Bartholomew Kelly? Open up!"
Still nothing. Lestrade frowned and kicked the door in.
The officers that were crouched behind them now crept to the front and took point, pointing their guns in every direction. Lestrade and John followed.
"Clear!" Someone shouted from the right hand of the flat.
"All clear." Another shouted from the bedroom area.
Lestrade entered the kitchen and saw the blocks of C-4 wired on the kitchen counter. "Run! Bomb!"
Sherlock's head snapped up at the explosion so fast that his hapless curls belatedly followed his head. He exchanged glances with Donovan.
"Go! I've got this." Donovan nodded and Sherlock rushed into the building, not needing to be told twice.
Lestrade groaned, raising a hand to his head. "Sir, sir!" Someone was murmuring. Funny, the officer that was hovering above him looked like he was shouting...
Oh, yeah. Explosion.
He grabbed the man's arm. "John...?"
The officer looked to his right. Lestrade followed his gaze and saw another officer dragging John out of the singed flat, an arm around the doctor's waist, but John looked like he was trying hard to shuffle his feet and walk on his own. At least he wasn't unconscious and he didn't look too injured.
"Gonna need an ambulance." Lestrade mumbled sluggishly.
"On its way. Lets get out of here first." The man nodded soberly as he slung Lestrade's arm over his shoulder and hoisted the injured detective up onto his feet.
"Feel... m'gonna be sick." Lestrade moaned through the nausea.
"Oh no, not yet you don't." The officer said encouragingly. "At least let me get you out somewhere where your sick isn't going to be a problem."
Lestrade snorted weakly through his nose. "Whas' your name?"
The officer looked at him as if there was something odd about him. "Um... Stanley Hopkins, Sir."
"Stanley Hopkins..." Lestrade grunted, "Well, at least I know where to send my apologies."
Hopkins gave a dumb 'huh?' and Lestrade vomited on his combat boots a moment later. "Oh..."
Sherlock met them on their way down, he swooped in and plucked John out of the officers' grips and carried him the rest of the way down to the waiting ambulance. "John, can you hear me?" he asked, wiping a smudge of ash off the ex-soldier's face with the pad of his thumb.
"Mm, yeah..." John groaned. "But I think Lestrade took it worse, he was closer... to the bomb. I think he threw up on the way down."
Sherlock breathed out a chuckle and ignored a paramedic who requested he get out of their way. "And Kelly?"
"Wasn't there." John grumbled. "Wasn' there..."
"Alright. Rest, okay?"
"Coming from you, Sher'lck?" John grinned, "Priceless."
Lestrade woke up in the hospital a few hours later. He wasn't in severe pain, but that might just be because of the painkillers he was no doubt on. He sighed and burrowed himself deeper into his covers, trying to get back to sleep when he heard a murmur in the next room.
His eyes opened. John was in the next room. It was probably Sherlock talking... But Sherlock went back to Baker Street to investigate Kelly's whereabouts an hour ago.
He grunted and swung his shaky legs over the edge of his bed and pushed himself off. The linoleum was cold under his bare feet but he staggered out of his room and into the hall.
The door to John's private ward, compliments of Mycroft, was open a few inches. Lestrade edged himself along the wall and peered in.
Kelly was standing at the foot of John's bed, staring like a lost little boy. A lost little boy with an unholstered gun in his hand. A Browning L9A1.
Lestrade's breath caught in his throat. Help. He needed to help. He bit his lip. Walking out of his room and the few steps over here was difficult enough to accomplish. He didn't stand a chance against Kelly.
He turned and crept as quickly and quietly as possible to the nurse's. There were no other patients in the rooms around theirs so Lestrade told the nurses to quietly slip out as he called for police backup.
"You're John Watson." Kelly said, a statement not a question.
"You remember me?" John asked back weakly. He prided himself a little at not panicking when he woke up and found the ex-military soldier looming over his hospital bed like an avenging angel.
With his gun.
"You were Joey's friend." Kelly nodded. "I didn't expect to see you at my flat with the coppers." He spat out the word like a curse, the grip tightened on his gun.
"I wanted to talk to you." John said slowly, calmly. "I just want to understand. Why?"
"'Why'?" Kelly parroted, a dark cloud looming over his features. "They killed Joey."
"They made a bad decision." John told him. "That happens."
"They sent men who didn't have to die to their deaths." Kelly hissed. "And then they just bow their heads for a second so the world could see how much they regret it, and then they do it all over again." He shook his head. "They don't regret it."
"They were good men, and they did regret it." John said firmly. "We all did."
"They killed Joey!" Kelly shouted, walking over to the side of John's bed. "I lost my leg!" There was a snap of straps and latches being released and Kelly toppled forward onto his one leg, the other a blunt stump. "Look at me!"
The prosthetic leg fell out of Kelly's pant leg with a clatter, leaving an empty jeaned leg swinging and swaying as Kelly pulled himself up onto his one good leg, leaning on a chair for support. Kelly's face was pale and contorted with disgust, agony, and rage. At the world, at himself, at John...
"Look at me!" he screamed again and John found that he couldn't look away. It was one of the most horrifying, terrifying things he had ever seen. He felt blood rush from his face.
"They took my baby brother, my only family away! They took my leg away! I can't run, I can't jump, I can't do a fucking thing!" Kelly clawed his free hand through his hair. "And they don't regret it!"
"But I do!" John cried back. "I'm on your side!"
"You were with those cops! I saw you! You were trying to arrest me!" Kelly spat, waving his gun aloft. "You're one of them!"
"No, I'm like you!" John told him, reaching of the collar of his hospital gown slowly as to not set Kelly off. He pulled it open just enough to show Kelly the ugly scar on his shoulder. "I'm like you." he said, quieter this time.
Kelly stared at the white scar tissue in stunned fascination. "In Afghanistan, I got shot. I have a psychosomatic limp and I have to stagger around with a cane sometimes, but I'm still walking." John covered his scar, pulling his hospital gown closed. "And look at you. You're still walking."
"But Joey's not." Kelly said tremulously. "Sometimes I imagine what it was like. How he must've felt when he... died."
John swallowed. "He died instantly, he didn't even feel a thing." Kelly looked at him skeptically. "I was his friend, remember? I was in his unit." John bit his lip. "I was... I was there. And I couldn't save him. And I regret it, every moment that I know I'm here and he isn't. I regret it."
The hand holding the gun fell limply to Kelly's side. "I don't understand." he murmured. "I don't understand. Arn't you in the least angry?"
"I am." John pressed his lips together. "I am. Every day. And I wish I can tell you that things get better, that the pain lessens, but I can't. It doesn't, it just gets number." He looked Kelly in the eye. "But continuing to kill, killing the people responsible, it isn't going to make anything better. It isn't going to make it right."
"He would've wanted revenge." Kelly said decisively.
"No, he wouldn't have." John shook his head. "Joey was-... he was alot of things, but he wasn't the kind who could hold a grudge, and he wouldn't have wanted you to kill in his name."
"You don't know everything about him." Kelly glowered.
John stared back boldly. "No, I don't. But I remember a sniper who let us boys tease him about how he'd burn easily because he was half-Irish. And I remember him smiling even when we were being shot at. And I remember him playing with the local children, sharing his candy bars with them and letting them try his helmet on sometimes. Children, sons and daughters of the men who shot at us the day before. He didn't hate them. He didn't blame them." John lowered his gaze. "He was a better man than you or I could ever be."
"Why should they live, in safety, in luxury, while men like Joey had to die?" Kelly asked him, near spitting at the mention of 'them'.
"I don't know." John said honestly, shaking his head. "But killing them won't fix anything. It won't bring Joey back." He reached out his hand slowly, palm up. "Kelly-... Bart. Give me the gun, please."
"I can't, ...I can't..." Kelly's hand tightened and loosened on his gun like a throbbing heart.
"You can." John encouraged. "Let it go, Bart." Kelly sniffed. "Let it go."
The Browning L9A1 fell to the ground with a near deafening clatter and Kelly followed a moment later, his one leg giving out from under him and he collapsed, sobbing.
John climbed gingerly out of his bed and moved the gun to a safe distance when Sherlock, Donovan, and Lestrade entered quietly.
Donovan cuffed Kelly and picked him up gently as Lestrade bent down wincingly and reattached his prosthetic leg. The consulting detective ignored the fallen soldier and sat on John's bed, twisting his long fingers into the sleeve of his hospital gown and pressing his forehead onto his shoulder in a gesture of relief.
Lestrade took the gun from John's hands and led Donovan and Kelly out in a weak shuffle, leaving the two alone.
Sherlock and John just sat there in silence for a long time like that.
Then, John looked up at Sherlock. "There's a Memorial I would like to visit when I get out of the hospital."
Sherlock planted a kiss on John's forehead. "Let's bring flowers. Mrs. Hudson says it is appropriate."
John smiled sadly. "Thank you."
"Anything for you, John."