"I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth," John said standing unconsciously in a posture of attention. A holdover, no doubt, from his military days that betrayed how tense he must feel, despite the relaxed sound of his voice. His short brown suit was of an older cut, but it was well-pressed and he wore it with military neatness that, along with his short hair, added to the impression that he was in uniform.

From the balcony of the crowded courtroom, Sherlock Holmes stared down at John Watson as he took the stand. The judge, bailiff and barristers in full court dress were a far cry from the simple inquest that Lestrade had promised. The ornate carving above the judges stand and the polished wooden tables reminded him of the last time that they had been in court together. Then their positions had been reversed. He had stood in the witness stand trying and failing to get Moriarty sent to prison, now, the stakes were even higher because it was John who stood accused, and Sherlock's last experience had not left him with the best impression of the court system.

The black-robed barrister glanced quickly around the courtroom making the tail of his white horsehair wig swing. His hands grasped the sides of his robe as he spoke, "Would you please be so kind as to state your full name for the court."

"Doctor John Hamish Watson."

"Doctor Watson, can you please recount for us the events that happened on the afternoon of the sixth starting from when you first entered the bank?"

"Yes sir. We entered the bank to retrieve a clock from a safety deposit box..."

"We? Define 'we'."

"I meant my colleague, Sherlock Holmes, and myself. We are consulting detectives. Well, he is ...we were working on a case."

"Please tell us what happened after you entered the bank?"

John pulled in his chin and looked down, pursing his lips in that familiar way that he did when he was working himself up to start a big task. He lifted his head and began. "At first it was as you would expect. We queued up with the other people in the lobby to wait for our turn."

"How many people do you estimate were in the lobby at the time?"

"Thirty seven, not counting the bank staff."

"You know this exactly, how?"

"I counted, once the commotion started. It's a habit of mine to size up the odds. I suppose from my army days."

"I see...go on..."

"For about five minutes, nothing out of the ordinary happened, then Sherlock tugged my arm and pointed out three suspicious men who had just entered the lobby."

"Pointed them out? Why? What was suspicious about them?"

"They were wearing identical long coats with hoods that concealed their eyes from the security cameras. They were milling about and not queuing, and two of them had their hands concealed in their coats. They also walked like they were preparing for trouble. They were covering each other. I've done enough of it to know what that looks like. We were just commenting on it, when one of them pulled a rifle out of his coat and shot the ceiling. Then they pulled masks down over their faces and yelled at us all to get on the ground.

"And what did you do?"

"We squatted down on the ground. The security guard moved toward them, and one of the men shot him in the chest with a pistol."

"You said 'one of the men' shot him. Do you mean Mr Johnson, the man in this photograph?"

"Yes, that's the one."

"Your honor!" The prosecuting barrister said rising to her feet, "Doctor Watson has said that the men were wearing masks, and yet he states that it is Mr Johnson who shot the guard. How does he know that for certain?"

"Yes, Doctor Watson?" The judge asked, "Why do you say that Mr Johnson shot the guard?"

John turned toward the judge as he answered, "Sir, I got a look at them before they put on their masks, and after...after it was all over, Sher... Mr. Holmes took off the mask, and I saw his face."

"If it please the court," the defending barrister said, "I would like to continue my line of questioning."

"Of course, Mr. McCartney," the judge said waving his sleeve.

"And what did you do after the guard was shot, Doctor?"

"I tried to help, but ... Mr Holmes held me back, and when I looked again, I realized that the man was already dead: Straight shot, mid-sternum, severe cardiac damage, collapsed lung, no signs of respiration."

"Please continue."

"I could see that Mr Johnson was the the leader. He said that if anyone else moved they would be shot, and he directed one of the others to get the money. Then he took a woman from the crowd and put a pistol to her head."

"So, Doctor Watson, did you feel that the woman was in mortal danger, that Mr. Johnson intended to kill her?"

"Leading," Sherlock thought, and the prosecutor rose to her feet again.

"I object! That question is entirely speculative. Whether or not Mr Johnson intended to kill the witness is not something that could be observed."

"Quite right," The judge said, "Mr McCarthy, please restrict your questions to those things that the witness directly observed. This is no place for conjecture."

"Yes, your honor," The barrister said. "Then tell us, what was your assessment of the situation?"

John looked down at the floor. Sherlock could tell that he was reviewing the scene in his mind. He spoke in a calm, precise voice as if he were giving a military report. "We had a number of civilians in peril. Three armed hostiles. A hostage with a gun to her head and one guard dead. Yes, I believed that the woman was in mortal peril. We were all in peril."

Sherlock remembered it vividly. The middle aged woman in the brown dress. Hair recently died blond to hide grey roots. Only recently a grandmother. Come to the bank to take out money for a baby gift no doubt. Low, sensible heels. Old wedding ring, well looked after. She squealed when he pulled her from the crowd wrapping his arm around her neck and placing the gun to her head. She was scared half to death. This was certainly not what she had expected from her trip to the bank that day. Banks were usually safe places with guards, like the one on the floor dead. She walked on tip-toe when he pulled her toward the teller station, her mouth shuddering in fear, her eyes tearing up, but she sucked in her breath when he threatened to kill her if she didn't stop blubbering.

"One of the men handed a bag to the bank teller," John said.

Sherlock gazed at John's hands. His right hand was resting lightly on the wooden railing, but his left was clutched stiffly to his side. The same way he had clutched it that day when they had crouched at the back of the crowd watching the man drag the woman across the floor. Sherlock had needed to put a hand on his shoulder to keep John from rising to his feet. Brave, valiant, reckless John who would have charged out there to save the damsel in distress without a moment's thought if he hadn't been there to remind him to think first.

"I've texted Lestrade. The police are on their way," Sherlock said in a whisper touching the inside of John's elbow with his fingertips in order to gauge his actions by the tightness of his bicep.

"I don't know if that hostage will survive till then," John had said. "Do you see the way that man is waving the gun. The safety is off. It could go off any minute."

"Quiet over there, I said quiet!" The gunman demanded waving his gun carelessly toward the cowering people. He pulled his arm a little more tightly around the neck of his hostage, and John's eyes narrowed. The muscle became taut and his shoulders were very still. He looked like a tiger ready to strike. Sherlock gave him a worried glance.

"They'll kill her before then," he whispered, "We've got to do something."

"I'll try to distract them," Sherlock said, "You get near the hostage and wait for my signal."

John nodded, and Sherlock sighed with relief before lowering himself to the floor and crawling behind the line of crouching people until he was shielded by a desk. He needed to find a way to distract the gunmen, but the solution wasn't forthcoming.

He watched as John slowly crept forward, pushing himself to the front of the crowd of people. They let him pass through easily, eager to have someone else between them and the gunman who pointed his gun toward the crowd every time that he heard a threatening noise.

Sherlock's eyes were fixed on John. What should he do? He could put out the lights, but there was ample lights from the windows. He could set off the fire alarm, but the men were jumpy. They might shoot the woman in surprise. He needed to distract them in a way that they would not see as a threat. Of course, that would most likely result in being taken as a hostage himself.

John was moving closer to the gunman. Pushing himself forward in a way that would soon be noticed. He could tell that John had no intention of waiting for Lestrade to solve the problem. That stupidly brave man was going to get himself killed.

"What happened next?" The barrister asked.

"The woman was about to faint. She was blinking frequently, and I could see her knees begin to buckle. The stress was too much for her. Mr Johnson told her to stand up. He said that if she fell he would put a bullet in her where she lay. That there were plenty of other hostages. That was no way to talk to a person going into shock. It just made things worse. Her knees gave out, and she fell to the ground. He aimed toward her. That's when I acted."

The woman was blinking rapidly. Trying and failing to keep herself from passing out, but It was John that he had been worried about. He had tunnel vision. He was focused so tightly on the gunman that he wasn't watching the other two men who could so easily turn and shoot him. The woman fell then, and he could see John about to strike, so he stood up where he was and raised his hand. "Excuse me!" Sherlock cried, "But I need to get into my safe deposit box now."

As a group, the gunmen turned their eyes toward him, so they didn't notice as John sprang from the crowd hitting their leader square in the chest. Sherlock ran forward. The masked man nearest to him froze for a moment before remembering to lift his rifle. Sherlock disarmed the man, using the butt of the rifle to knock him to the ground. It took three hits to the head to incapacitate him. That's when he heard the gunshot and he thought for a moment that John might be dead.

Time had never seemed to pass so slowly. It seemed to take forever to whip his head around. Then he saw it all at once: John wresting over the gun, the woman collapsed at their feet, the man standing at the teller's counter falling backwards as if in slow motion, the teller's shrill shriek.

John had his left hand on the gun. His fingers were pressed over those of the other man who stood chest to chest with him despite the fact that John was half a head shorter. Both of their fingers were on the trigger, and John was looking over his shoulder, his eyes sighting down the barrel of the pistol.

Anyone else would have called it an accident or even chance, but Sherlock knew better. John preferred to be praised for his surgical skill, but his aim was unerringly accurate. It was not chance that the trigger was pulled just as it passed over the robber's heart. John's left hand was his dominant one and his eye was on the barrel. The other man had been looking away.

"What did you do, Doctor Watson?"

"I tried to disarm the man. We fought over the gun. It went off as we fought."

"That was the bullet that killed Jeremy Rodan."

"Yes sir."

"Whose hand was on the trigger?"

"Both of ours. We were fighting over the gun."

"And what happened afterward?"

"I was able to disarm him with a chop to the wrist. Then I pushed him up against the wall and immobilized him until the police could arrive."

"Thank you so much, Doctor Watson," he said, and the defense barrister sat down.

The prosecuting barrister was a tall, thin young woman. She wore small silver spectacles that slid to the tip of her nose which, combined with the curly white wig, gave her the impression of a stern old grammar teacher. "Doctor Watson, you were a captain in the RAMC is that so?"

"Yes Maam."

"Can you tell us why you were discharged?"

"I was wounded in action."

"And is it true that you suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"

The defense barrister stood, "Your honor, I fail to see how this line of questioning has any bearing on the case at hand."

"I plan to show that it does, your honor," she said.

"I think that we can let Mrs Tinsdale continue her case, Mr McCarthy," the Judge said.

She continued, "Please answer the question, Doctor Watson. Do you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?"

"I was diagnosed with it, yes." John said. "I don't necessarily agree with the diagnosis."

"But you were given that diagnosis by a licensed psychiatrist?"


"You said that you 'immobilized' Mr Johnson. How did you do it?"

"I pressed him up against the wall with a hand to his throat."

"Did he struggle?"

"At first. He stopped after a while."

"And yet, you kept your hand to his throat after he stopped struggling."


"And after he had stopped struggling, was he still a threat to you then?"

Mr McCartney rose to his feet, "My lord, now it is Mrs Tinsdale who is asking the witness to speculate."

"Mrs Tinsdale, please keep your questions to matters of fact not opinion," the judge said.

"Your pardon. Then let us speak of facts. Did you, Doctor Watson, as witnesses have said, hold Mr Johnson up against the wall by his neck with his feet off of the floor?"

"I suppose so."

"And is it true that when you released him, he was unconscious?"


"Your honor, I would like to submit for your attention exhibit one, the medical report for Mr. Raymond Johnson. The report states that his hyoid bone was fractured in the attack. He suffered loss of oxygen that led to unconsciousness and may result in permanent brain damage. Doctor Watson, could it be that you were using inappropriate force under the influence of post traumatic stress disorder?"

" My Lord, Doctor Watson can not possibly make such an assessment on himself."

"Then let me ask it this way," she said. "As a doctor and a former soldier, did you know that such an outcome was possible? Did you know that your actions might result in brain damage or even the death of Mr. Johnson?"

"I did know that it was possible, yes, but at the time I was simply trying to stop him."

"Thank you, Doctor Watson. That will be all."

The prosecuting barrister sat, and John was ushered out of the witness box. He sat on a bench next to his solicitor who leaned over to whisper in his ear. How Sherlock wished that he had been allowed to keep his phone so that he could send him a text. As it was, John sat quietly staring forward never turning to catch his eye.

Was it PTSD? He didn't think so. PTSD was what woke John at night all covered with sweat, crying out to someone, God perhaps, to save him. In the bank, he hadn't been crying. His teeth were gritted in an expression of fury, or was it joy?

Once the gunman was disarmed, he seemed to have lost his spark. John pushed him across the room until his back hit the wall. Then he placed his hands over the man's throat. The man tried to speak but all that came out was a whine as John's fingers tightened. His eyes widened in fear before he passed out. John kept holding onto his throat.

Sherlock went to him then. He'd placed a hand on his shoulder and called his name, "John," only to be whirled around and flung to the ground. He looked up to see that same expression staring down at him. His teeth were clenched so tightly that he was almost grinning as he grabbed the edges of Sherlock's scarf and pulled tightly.

Sherlock had gasped, unable to get sound out of his throat. Then John's eyes had changed and he had dropped the scarf, reaching out to loosen the clothing around Sherlock's neck. His mouth open in horror.

Sherlock had been concentrating on his own breathing, so he did not remark on the pair of sudden indrawn breaths that John made as he leaned back, or the way John's hands had shook as he dropped down on his heels. Sherlock sat up rubbing his neck as the sound of sirens flooded the room. A face peered through the glass door before a host of policemen with riot shields rushed in.

They ran through the lobby surrounding everyone and training weapons on the fallen robbers. Then someone walked over and stood beside him, stretching out a hand to help him up. "A little late for the party," Lestrade had said. "Nothing to do now but sweep up. This your handiwork?" he had asked Sherlock.

"Mostly it's, John's," he had said. "Always one for the heroics, John."

"I can't say that I mind," Lestrade replied, "John, are you okay? It's just you look a bit out of sorts. Let me call a medic."

"I'm fine, I'm fine," John had said, but in retrospect, Sherlock realized, that he hadn't looked fine.

Waiting for the verdict was the hardest part. As Sherlock looked around the room, he recognized many of the people who had been in the bank on that day: The teller was here, as was the hostage sitting next to her husband. Matching rings. Happily married for twenty plus years, how rare. There were others here as well. Sarah in a boring white blouse, and Lestrade.

The door opened, and the Judge came into the room as a voice rang out the words, "Be upstanding!" Everyone stood.

John rose to his feet slowly, turning his head to the side so that Sherlock could catch a glimpse his emotionless face. Then John glanced back toward the stands. Sherlock caught his eye and smiled. John frowned then, but Sherlock could tell that he only did it to hold back a smile. When Sherlock looked up again, the judge was reading the decision.

"In light of the evidence of numerous witnesses at the scene of the crime, and given the fact that there was a clear danger to all involved, Dr. John H. Watson is cleared of all charges. You are free to go." The gavel pounded, and pleased sounds escaped from the audience. As John walked through the courtroom, a number of people rushed up to shake his hand. Sherlock hurried down the stairs catching up with John just as he passed through the doorway.

John walked rapidly, outpacing his solicitor who fell behind. Sherlock rushed up alongside him, opening the door for John as he passed out of the courthouse, and into the sunlight.

As they walked down the courthouse steps toward one of Mycroft's waiting cars, reporters rushed forward and snapped John's picture. Sherlock stood behind him then, only stepping forward to open the door of the car before they were whisked away back to Baker street.

"Now who's the famous one?" Sherlock said smiling. John didn't answer. He sat sullenly looking down at his hands, his mouth held in a straight line. When they got home he went straight to his room rudely ignoring Mrs Hudson's burst of confetti in celebration at his entrance.

The next day, John stayed home. Sherlock spent most of the day at the morgue working on a theory he had about garroting. It was the second day after the trial, when things finally seemed to be back to normal, that it all changed.

Sherlock and John sat at the table eating breakfast. Sherlock opened the paper to see John's face. "Seems you're the star of yet another edition," he said. "Bank hero acquitted. You're quite the celebrity. And it seems the gunman will survive to stand trial. He's still in hospital though. Minor brain damage. That's quite a skill you have, John. I still have the marks on my neck."

"Sherlock!" John said his eyes sharp his voice firm. "I have something I need to talk to you about."

Sherlock put down the paper and looked at John's serious expression. "What is it, John?"

John licked his lips and looking straight into Sherlock's eyes he said, "I'm moving out."