The New Word

Sherlock Holmes ran at least two dozen scenarios of his first meeting with good old Watson after the Reichenbach Falls mess. He predicted lots...and lots...of yelling. And swearing that would make any of Her Majesty's old soldiers proud. Or – depending on good doctor's mood – icy silence and flat out refusal to acknowledge his existence.

Right hook straight to the nose was...unexpected.

Time to salvage the situation. First thing: appeal to his altruistic, Hippocratic Oath – bound side.

Detective, still flat on his butt, and in the corner where surprisingly vicious strike sent him, looked up at his seething friend.

"Owwww." - his moan was pitiful enough to soften hardest of hearts. "Watson...i understand that you might be mad at me...but, by Jove – that hurt."

Strangely, doctor did not look worried...or even mildly concerned. In fact...did he just growled?

"Get up, you bastard." - Watson hissed through gritted teeth. "And i will gladly show you real pain."

Holmes blinked. "All right – you are mad at me. But that was definitely over the top, old chap."

Watson made a strange, inarticulate sound and lunged forward. Holmes deftly rolled away from his grabbing hands, scurried under the table, and before Watson regained his balance and turned around, there was expanse of ten feet of sturdy, polished english oak between them.

"Watson, really...i never thought that domestic life would make you so violent. What would Mary say about this behaviour?" - well, maybe it was not the smartest thing to say considering the situation...but Holmes just had to show his own frustration. And surprisingly – it seemingly gave Watson a pause.

"Knowing her, and knowing what she went through, when she had to see me grieving for a particular heartless, rotten, traitorous, lying, deceitful reptile i've foolishly considered my best friend? I daresay she would be cheering now – or helping me catch you!" - with the last exclamation Watson lunged around the table, Holmes made mad dash in the opposite direction...and three seconds later they stood on the opposite sides of the dinner table again.

"Watson...John – please. Dont you see how ridiculous this is? Cant we even talk like civilized men anymore?" - Holmes pleaded.

Watson still glared daggers at him over the table, but at least straightened and crossed his arms.

"Civilized men? Thats rich coming from you, Holmes." - that was definitely a scoff, if Sherlock Holmes ever heard one. "Civilized men dont pull their enemies into the waterfalls, and yes – i know exactly why you did it, you bastard! Or hide God knows where – leaving their family and friends unable to even get the closure of proper burial! Do you know how many nightmares i've had?"

Holmes involuntarily jumped when with loud 'BANG' Watson's fists slammed into surface separating them.

"Good Lord, Sherlock – i know you. I bet my life you thought these years were a splendid adventure...or even great fun. But do you know how many times i woke up screaming? Still seeing bloated, decaying corpse – like so many we've seen pulled out from the Thames? Just this time with YOUR face? Or what was left of it?" - Watson's voice suddenly broke, and in one swift move he turned away. Seconds later his back and shoulders stilled, and then tensed when Sherlock's right hand came to rest on his arm.

"John..." - detective paused to swallow through the bucket of sawdust that mysteriously materialised inside his throat. "John...it was definitely not fun. And not much of an adventure – not without your complaints and nagging...or stopping your occasional attempts at gambling our money away..." - Watson snorted at this, and iron band around detective's chest loosened a bit.

"Believe me – i would give anything to have you at my side." - he continued, feeling surge of hope that indeed – this situation...and their friendship...could be salvaged. "But it could not be."

"I was hunted like an animal. Day after day. Across three continents. Fearing bullets, knives, poison, and even – and i kid you not, omelets filled with nitroglycerine." Finally Watson deigned himself to look at his companion, and Holmes met his pained stare squarely.

"Holmes...if all of this is true...you just had to ask. You know i would do everything to help you. Despite all my grumbling and complaining, you do are my best friend."

Detective sighed. It was just so...'Watson' – immediate concern and readiness to follow, and risk everything...without considering what 'everything' would really mean.

"Would you leave Mary?" - he asked, and smiled sadly at the flash of anguish in John's eyes. "Or better yet – would you take her along? Because, old friend – that would be the most sensible thing to do, since she would become the next priority target for people chasing us. If they'd got her, they would get you – and ultimately me. Because i would follow you straight into their lair. And then there would be no one to oppose them. Is that what you would want, doctor?"

Watson's lips pressed together into thin, hard line.

"No." - he said simply, but his eyes were still accusing. Holmes sighed again.

"I did leave Mycroft's breathing apparatus on your desk – did i not? Was that not a clear enough message that i'm alive and near?" - really, fine friend as he was – sometimes Watson acted like tormenting Holmes with mental recalcitrancy was his personal goal in life.

Watson defiantly raised his chin - "And how should i know it was indeed you? And not one of Moriarty's thugs that found it on your remains and decided to gloat?"

Oh, for the love of...

Wait a minute – if Watson decided to be difficult, there was no reasoning with him. But...there was another way to reach his more...'soldiery' side.

Sherlock's lips curled into small, grim smile.

"At that time, they had bigger problems than playing delivery service. And not enough manpower left to spare for such frivolous matters."

Oh yes – judging by the gleam in familiar blue eyes his unspoken message was received clearly.

"And since you are here openly now?" - Watson prompted.

"Lets say odds evened even more." - Holmes replied calmly, his smile widening a fraction of the inch. - "As a matter of fact – i would say game is finally fair."

"Moran." - at last, smile appeared on doctor's face – mirroring Sherlock's own.

"Moran." - replied detective, looking squarely into his friends eyes.

"You have a plan." - again, it was not a question.

"I do."

"Then let me get my gun, and we can go." - with that Watson turned on his heel with military efficiency and headed towards his desk.

So very, very 'Watson' indeed.

Behind his back Holmes silently blew relieved breath. Really, he thought feeling a bit lightheaded from joy (and sudden disappearance of stress) – last fifteen minutes were worse than entire chase after Moriarty...and the past two years of his private crusade against remnants of the late Master of Crime organisation.

"Holmes?" - Watson called casually, rummaging diligenty through his desk in search of spare ammunition (and knife – just in case).

"Yes, Watson?"

"I've been travelling a bit myself – you know?" - with a grunt of satisfaction doctor fished out still unsealed box of bullets.

"Umm...as a matter of fact – yes, i do know that. I've...uh...asked Mycroft to keep an eye on you. And Mary of course." - Sherlock shifted uncomfortably in the chair he took just seconds before. With all his heart he hoped his friend would not start raising hell about being kept in the dark again.

"Of course you did." - Watson agreed easily. Finally he spotted the hilt of his extra knife in the bowels of the desk, and with another grunt of satisfaction straightened in his own seat.

"Of course you are also aware that i've spent three months in San Francisco in America, learning from professor McPherson?"

"Yes, his new revolutionary method of draining fluids from the punctured lungs, and reinflating them. Very useful for a military surgeon...and in our line of work." - so, where exactly was Watson going with this deceptively casual conversation?

Watson's blue eyes were sparkling, but he kept his face straight. Uh oh.

"Very useful indeed. But, do you also know i've learned a new word from the local slang? One that fits you just perfectly?" - Holmes frantically searched his memory for any scrap of the knowledge about this particular matter.

"Uh, let me guess – buddy, pal?" - he asked hopefully.

"No. Asshole." - Watson smiled at him brightly. "And by the way? You are forgiven. Just dont do this again, okay?"

"And they say the voyages broaden your horizons." - Holmes grumbled rising from his chair. "I shudder to think what else you've picked up abroad, old chap."

Watson chuckled. And then raised his, hidden so far inside the desk, right hand.

"Yippe-kay-yay!" - he shouted gleefully, placing fatigued cowboy's hat on his blond head. "Lets get 'em, pardner!"

"Oh Lord. Somebody...shoot me now!" - groaned Sherlock Holmes falling back onto the chair.

John Watson just grinned devilishly.

The End.