Sherlock bbc is property of bbc, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.
My undying gratitude goes to Arthur Conan Doyle.
This story is un-betad and not brit-picked!
Ex ante: English isn't my original language and this is the first time I actually dare to post a fanfiction under those circumstances. I'm well aware that I've probably made a lot of mistakes but I'm quite proud of this little piece of creative writing.
So please: leave me some honest criticism and point my mistakes out to me. I'd love to improve my English and writing fanfiction is a wonderful way of doing so. :-)
Problem Site I
The dark alley echoes with the staccato pitch, pitch, pitch of Sherlock's fast footfalls. The adrenaline of the hunt humms loudly in his veins and he isn't even slightly aware of the water that soaks the hems of his expensive trousers. Every rapid exhale condensates to a little white cloud, that loses itself quickly in the darkness. The ice cold November rain flattens his dark curls to his skull and stings on the exposed skin of his face but his busy mind has already deleted the discomfort he is feeling. His body is just transport after all.
In the forefront of his mind he is calculating, planning, mapping out the most likely route their suspect will take though this labyrinth of backstreets in this shady part of London. His right hand closes around his mobile and his nimble fingers fly over the keys and press send without further thought.
Dockland Road, next Shanghai Palace – left right left. Intercept! SH
If John is fast enough, they stand a good chance to get McKay off the streets tonight. Sherlock skids around a corner, leaves the lights of the waiting squad cars behind. Now the reflection of the pale moonlight in the numerous puddles is the only illumination in those narrow streets. The spine-chilling atmosphere, created by this otherworldly light, would have driven every normal pedestrian back to the well light main streets, but the world's only consulting Detective races headlong into danger. The glorious rush of the chase drives the blood into his cheeks and paints his face with a healthy flush. This is what Sherlock Holmes lives for: The riddles, the deductions and the chase.
The Yarders are still trying to seal this district off but they have neither the personnel nor the time to do a sufficient job in this regard. DI Lestrade is a moderately intelligent man but bureaucracy, limited recourses and most of all the imbeciles he works with prevent any form of effectiveness when it comes to New Scotland Yard. It's a terrible waste of potential on Lestrade's part, it really is. The man has his moments but it's a sad fact of life that the likes of Anderson, Donovan and Co. render them almost always useless.
Sherlock reaches an intersection, pauses and holds his breath to listen to the faint sound of McKay's steps. To the right. His assumptions have been correct – obviously. Nevertheless; a spike of triumph drives a wild grin on his features and he resumes his chase. Soon. In approximately eighty-three seconds Harrison McKay will reach the location he texted to John. And if everything went according to plan Lestrade can execute one more arrest warrant before the night comes to an end.
It isn't in Sherlock's nature to rely on others when it comes to his cases or affairs. He prefers to work alone and his plans are always perfectly executed but sometimes he is dependent on the resources and authority wielded by the Yard. And then there is John. Former soldier and Doctor med. Unassuming, jumper wearing, John Hamish Watson. And on first glance it's kind of astonishing, that Sherlock prefers Johns help over the meddling of the Yarders. But resources and authority be damned, Watson is…
A loud crash disturbs the nightly quiet and Sherlock lengthens his strides. That was earlier than he had anticipated… Just a moment later he turns around the next corner and comes to an abrupt stop. It seems John has indeed found McKay; or rather McKay has found John. Sherlock has arrived just in time to witness how the Irishman twists John's left arm behind his back. The brute's right hand holds a hunting knife to the smaller man's neck and a wicked grin forms on his face when his gaze falls on Sherlock.
The Consulting Detective huffs – it's an extremely irritated sound – and frowns at John. His highly trained mind is already busying itself; deconstructing the situation and searching for possible solutions. John has been fast. So he either has been riding in a squad car – and in this case reinforcements are only seconds away – or he has been running all the way up here and Lestrade and his men will have to search for them. The blonde doctor isn't much of a sprinter but he is good over long distances and the thin sheen of sweat on his brow and the rapid movements of his chest point definitely to the second option.
Both are symptoms of fear. Sherlock dismisses this thought instantly. John has proven more than once how steady he can be when under pressure.
The knife at his throat forces John's head back against McKay's shoulder in a parody of intimacy and the man's grip on his left arm gives him no other option than to follow his movements if he doesn't want to risk a luxation of his shoulder joint. Chances to break free: less than thirteen percent! Sherlock himself doesn't carry a weapon and John's Browning lies safe and sound in the top drawer of his bedside table. The police are still too far away to be of any help. Therefore it's impossible to force McKay into letting the Doctor go.
Summarized: No chance to solve this situation when no change in external circumstances.
Solution: Stall for time!
Sherlock takes a step towards McKay. "Detective Inspector Lestrade knows that you are the one who murdered the twins. His men have blocked every possible escape route and they are already on their way to arrest you." Well, that isn't necessarily the truth, but the Consulting Detective continues without missing a beat. "You should give up. You're only postponing the inevitable."
McKay spits. "Shut it, Holmes!" He doesn't retreat but the frosted black blade of his knife cuts painfully into the vulnerable skin of John's throat. "I'll kill'im. Dontcha think I won't!" His accent broadens noticeable. The army doctor hisses defiantly but his Adams apple bobs nervously when he swallows.
The expression on Johns face and yes – every single line of his body - literally show how much he hates this. Being a hostage; again! Being in a situation where he has to rely on Sherlock coming to his rescue; again! John has been a soldier for more than fifteen years. The army has taught him how to fend for himself and this is a skill he is proud of. He is angry because of his own helplessness and it shows in the sharp lines around his mouth. But his hazel eyes meet Sherlock's grey ones with a soundless apology.
This is my fault. I could have avoided this.
Sherlock shakes his head in an answer to this silent confession. Accusations won't help them now. Again he steps forward and this time the Irishman draws back. "Drop the knife and let Dr. Watson go! To kill him will accomplish nothing."
"So? Doesn't matter if I'm doing time for one more cold body then, eh?" McKay's vulgar grin makes Sherlock's skin crawl and John holds his breath. He is looking at his flatmate, waiting for a clue but Sherlock won't give anything away. He is still biding his time.
For a few precious moments Holmes and McKay stare each other down and the other man seems to falter under Sherlock's icy glare. The bite of the knife lessens for the fracture of a second; John narrows his eyes and seizes this opportunity. His right arm shoots up; he pushes the knife away from his body and twists out of McKay's grip. The weapon clatters to the ground somewhere in the darkness. The Irish murderer curses, tries to grab John's jacket but misses by an inch. Stumbling one, two steps forward, the doctor tries to regain his balance but McKay overcomes his surprise faster. He kicks John in the back of his knee and forces him to the ground. His fingers close around Johns left wrist, twist his arm and yank it upwards. This action draws a short painful gasp from John and McKay answers with a warning kick to his ribs. Simultaneously he draws his gun.
Sherlock starts moving just a second after John. He rushes to McKay in an attempt to subdue the man but he isn't fast enough and finds himself facing the barrel of a black Walther P22. The Consulting Detective has studied sidearms meticulously in the past. Has learned how they work. The technical and mechanical details. The effect such a weapon has on a person – physical and psychological. And he has discovered that pistols do have different characters. Some of them are beautiful, designed to be admired. Others are sporting, elegant or even playful. The P22 McKay holds in his shaking hand fits none of those attributes. That one looks downright malicious. And it points exactly between Sherlock's eyes.
"Stand back!" McKay sounds nearly hysterical. His voice shakes just as much as his hands do. He is losing his nerves and that doesn't bide well for John. Sherlock retreats to a safer distance immediately, both hands halfway up, the palms facing frontwards. His body language as unthreatening as possible.
"Easy." McKay laughs.
His eyes don't leave Sherlock but his next words are obviously meant for John: "Dontcha dare and try somethin' like tha' again!" He shakes the blonde man like a dog, places his heavy boot on John's left shoulder – his bad shoulder – and pushes downwards.
The angle is conceivably unfavourable. Something in John's shoulder gives way with an unnaturally loud crack. Sherlock winces at the tortured scream that tears from his companion's throat and if it weren't for the gun still pinning him into place, he would've already given in to the urge to tear McKay apart.
John's painful scream has woken something primal within the Consulting Detective. A strong need to protect his friend, to remove him from harm's way and keep him safe. Nobody messes with his friend - with his John – and walks away from it.
"Let him go!" Sherlock's hands are balled into tight fists to fight off the tidal wave of emotions that threatens to drown him. He cannot allow this to cloud his judgment. If he wants to save John he has to stay calm, can't allow himself to care.
His eyes search John's instinctively, but the ex-army doctor just stares unseeingly at the ground. His face is chalk white and he is shaking like a leaf.
Nobody moves. For a moment the whole tableau seems to freeze, the constant drip of raindrops on pavement the only sound in this private little hell. And then they can hear the first clatter of the approaching yarders.
Finally! Sherlock suppresses a relieved sigh. He honestly can't remember the last time he was so glad to see NSY arrive.
McKay on the other hand sucks in a panicked breath. The man tries to pull John to his feet with a brutal yank. John cries out again and then goes completely limp in McKay's grip.
"John!" Ignoring the threat of McKay's gun Sherlock rushes to help his friend and what happens next is so jumbled and distorted that even our great Consulting Detective is hard pressed to remember the exact order of events when he is asked to give his statement a few days later.
McKay stumbles, taken by surprise by John's dead weight that pulls him down so suddenly but he still manages to pull the trigger and time seems to speed up. The bullet hits the brick wall next to Sherlock's head. Sharp fragments of stone explode outwards and leave small bleeding wounds on his face.
And at the same time John kicks backwards and brings McKay down with him. He throws himself over the other man and smashes his right elbow into his nose. The Irishman roars half angry half in pain and tries to buck the doctor off. It should have been easy; John is half a foot shorter and about three stone lighter than him after all. But the determined snarl on John's face shows clearly that the mild mannered doctor has taken a step back. It's John the soldier McKay is dealing with right now and this man is evidently a force you have to reckon with.
John's movements show a confident effectiveness and routine that stuns Sherlock into speechlessness for about four and a half seconds. The Consulting Detective grinds to a halt and just watches, while his - oh so unassuming - flatmate brings McKay under his control.
Watson straddles the bigger man's chest; McKay's right arm wedged under his knee and his left secured by his trainer-clad foot. John's right hand mashes the left side of McKay's face into a puddle of rose tinted rainwater and his left… Well; Sherlock really wonders how John got a hold on McKay's hunting knife but his hand is shaking so badly, that the wicked black blade carves an unsteady line right above the man's larynx. A thin trail of dark blood sneaks it's way downwards over pale skin.
"John… Don't." Sherlock hesitates, unsure how to respond to this situation. He can't see John's face but his posture is… wrong in a way, Sherlock is unable to describe.
This of course is the exact moment Lestrade and his colleagues choose to make an appearance.
"Your timing is absolutely terrific, Lestrade. Just as usual," Sherlock remarks instead of a greeting.
The DI huffs. "If you would have bothered to clue us in, we could have…" His eyes dart over the bleeding wounds on Sherlock's face and voice trails off before he continues in a resigned tone: "What did you do this time? Sherlock, you know that you…" And that's when he sees John; perched over their suspect like a giant bird of prey. Lestrade closes his mouth with an audible click. "John?"
"What the hell?" Sally Donovan stops short; her weapon fisted in both hands, ready to fire. "What did you do with him, Freak? 'S he on drugs?"
"If you have nothing to offer but unqualified remarks, I'd recommend you use that limited brainpower of yours to concentrate on your gun before you hurt someone with it." Sherlock doesn't even look at her but Sally bristles up visibly.
"Damn Freak. Don't you…"
"Stop it! Both of you!" Lestrade interjects resolutely. "John, put the knife down. We've got this under control." He ignores Sherlock's doubtful snort but when John fails to react he starts to frown. "John?"
Sherlock's hand on his arm holds him back when he starts to approach the blonde man.
"Don't." An odd reluctance lies in Holmes' voice. Lestrade throws a questioning glance in his direction but Sherlock ignores it in favour of crouching down to have a look at John's face. His features are still unhealthy pale and his eyes are wide open. At first sight he seems to stare at McKay's face – a grotesque mask with his bashed in nose and all the blood - but Sherlock doubts that's what he is seeing. His body may be here, in this dark wet alleyway in central London, but his mind probably lingers a few thousand miles south-east of this city. In the dark reddish-brown highlands of Afghanistan.
Sherlock hasn't known that John was prone to flashbacks; at least he has never witnessed one before. But he knows that flashbacks and nightmares are typical symptoms for people who suffer from PTSD. And how often has he already heard John's helpless, terrified screams or whimpers in the middle of the night. How often has he seen those dark smudges under the man's eyes the morning after?
Yes; Sherlock does indeed know about those. What he doesn't know is what his friend is capable of when he is trapped in one of those hallucinations.
Lestrade's eyes dart from Sherlock to John and back again. "Sherlock, what…"
The Consulting Detective holds up a hand without looking up. "Shh. Let me talk to him."
"Sir, you can't seriously consider…" protests Sally, but Lestrade silences her with a strict glare.
"I can. And I will. I think he knows what he is doing here. So leave him be, Sergeant."
Sherlock doesn't look up to watch Sally's reaction. His concentration rests solely on John, who is still hovering over a positively terrified McKay without moving so much as a muscle. But he feels a warm spot of gratitude for Lestrade deep inside himself. The DI knows. Knows about John; knows about what they are dealing with here. And he trusts Sherlock to bring his friend out of it.
The alley, the cold rain, the Yarders and even McKay fade into the background while Sherlock focuses on John Watson. Still hovering in a crouch he begins to ease his way over to his friend. Hands open in a soothing gesture and muttering quietly: "John? Can you hear me?" His right foot clatters against the discharged gun and the ex-soldier tenses visibly. "You're in London, John. You're safe. London, not Afghanistan." Careful and with overly slow movements he pushes the Walther behind himself. Out of sight.
He is nearly close enough to touch now. "John, please look at me." Sherlock's voice is no louder than a whisper but this time John finally responds. His head jerks up so suddenly, that the vertebrae in his neck crack in protest. Those hazel eyes rake about his body, observe every little detail with the sort of accuracy one only obtains in life-or-death situations; Sherlock's unthreatening posture, his open hands, the blood on his face. Unarmed but close enough to pose a threat. Slowly the black blade retreats from McKay's neck, hovers uncertainly in the air. John's hand is still shaking. His fingers are pale and there is no strength behind his grip on the weapons handle.
Circulatory disorder, shoulder possibly broken or dislocated. Sherlock has never felt the need to rifle through John's medical file and he has never asked about it, but he has seen the scars on his flatmates shoulder. Those of the actual bullet wound and of the surgeries afterwards. Serious damage to the scapula and the surrounding tissue, muscles and ligaments. Therefore instability of the shoulder joint. Extremely protracted healing process. Probably not completely recovered yet.
Unknowingly McKay has found John's weakness and exploited it; and by doing so triggered a flashback in the good doctor.
Sherlock's steady grey eyes capture John's gaze and latch onto it. "John? Let him go. Please let Lestrade and his men do their jobs so we can go home for a cup of tea? I don't know about you but I'm freezing."
John blinks. His breath hitches and then he looks at Sherlock. Really looks at him. His eyes wander to Lestrade and Donovan, to McKay and then, again, to the Consulting Detective.
"Oh my God!" Those whispered words carry such an abysmal terror, that Sherlock shivers involuntarily. "Oh my God, ohmyGodohmyGodohmyGod…"
The ex-soldier lets go of the knife with something akin to revulsion and slides sideways from McKay's body till his back hits the wet brick wall of the nearby building. And there he sits, knees pulled to his chest, left arm cradled to his side and with the wide eyed stare of a frightened animal.
McKay scrambles in the other direction, staring at John with a mix of fear and utter hatred. "Tha' was aggravated assault! I'm goin' ta press charges!"
Sally pulls his hands behind his back unfazed and cuffs him. "Yeah. Whatever." She looks up to John and asks: "You all right, Doc?"
John gives her a wordless nod, but he is breathing so fast, he is nearly hyperventilating. His whole body has started to shake and this is such a startling contrast to his previous stillness, that Sherlock bridges the distance between them without hesitation and sinks down at his right side – mindful of his injuries. Cold rainwater soaks his coat and trousers but Sherlock ignores it for the time being.
He puts a hand on John's right arm in a soothing gesture. "It's over, John. It's all right."
The shorter man just shakes his head. "No, it isn't. It isn't." His voice breaks at those last words and a violent sob shakes his body.
And then Sherlock surprises everyone - including himself – by cradling John's head to his shoulder with his left hand. He runs his fingers through the short blonde hair, wet and heavy from the rain and holds his friend close. John's right hand latches onto the fabric of Sherlock's coat and he buries his face into the larger man's neck.
Lestrade looks down at them with a thoughtful gaze. "Ambulance is on the way", he informs Sherlock and the Consulting Detective answers with a grateful nod.
Sally Donovan has already left, escorting McKay to the nearest squad car. While they are waiting Lestade is standing guard over the two flatmates huddled together in a miserable dark alley in this shady part of London.
And when Sherlock finally feels John's hot tears on the cold skin of his neck it's just one more reason to hold on tighter.