Post Game Analysis – Part 1+
"What happened there?*" John asked with more than a hint of relief in his voice. In Sherlock's response, however, any note of concern was superseded by curiosity and renewed interest.
"Someone changed his mind.*" John gave a single, tight nod as if to say "OK" although his face still held his confusion. He inhaled deeply and blew out a long slow breath closing his eyes as he did so. Adrenalin was leaving his system making him feel more than a bit shaky. Staying in his crouch for another minute or two was probably his best option. He opened his eyes only to receive another jolt of surprise. Sherlock's concerned face was less than a foot away from his own.
"John, are you quite alright? Did they drug you? Of course, they must have done to subdue you with out visible ... Did they hit you? How many times? Is that why you're moving stiffly or ...? Where did they hit you? Do you need an ambulance? I'll call 999, shall I?"
John caught his breath. The bruises from where Moriarty's thugs had hit him were certainly smarting but none were serious. However, the drug, added to the stress of the evening, had left him with a pounding headache.
"Sherlock, I'm fine ..." he said rotely. His flat mate looked unconvinced and continued unabated.
"I'd wager Mycroft could have a helicopter here in under 4 minutes ..."
"SHERLOCK," John nearly bellowed in order to catch the other man's attention then winced at the effort.
"I'm fine, really." He made to stand, intending to take it slowly, but Sherlock yanked him straight up, nearly unbalancing him.
"Thanks," he said tersely as he staggered a few steps away from the detective. He needed some space. Sherlock continued to stare at him with his patented Holmesian gaze.
"Listen, let's get outside, OK? I could use some air and we could both do with getting away from that," John said rather too calmly while taking another step back and pointing toward to the explosive vest on the pool deck, its blue LEDs still blinking.
"Calling Lestrade probably wouldn't go amiss," John added as they headed for the door. The detective nodded a bit dumbly as he followed the soldier outside whilst groping in his jacket pocket for his phone.
Sherlock stopped pacing and glanced over at John again. He wasn't sure what he expected to see this time that he hadn't seen two minutes and thirty-seven seconds earlier when he had last glanced in John's direction. Following the best practices of the Met, he and John had been separated from each other since Lestrade's team had arrived to preserve the independence of their statements. His flat mate was sitting in the glass-walled conference room across from the room that Sherlock was in. He was giving Donovan his full attention, head cocked slightly to the side, idly turning a paper cup of wretched NSY coffee around on the table. Donovan must had said something about the coffee because John shook his head no before giving her a polite smile and braving a sip. He looked utterly calm and relaxed. One would never have guessed that just 51 minutes ago he had been wearing enough Semtex to level a building with a laser sight trained on his ... Sherlock resumed his pacing dimly aware that Lestrade was talking again, presumably to him. How could he have been so stupid? How had he not seen, not anticipated, where Moriarty's game was going. It had all been so alluring, so fun. All fun and games until someone ... No, not someone, John. Sherlock turned sharply and paced in a new direction. He had very nearly died tonight, very nearly taking John Watson with him, all in the name of distraction. Stupid. And John's grabbing Moriarty so that he, Sherlock, might escape. That was (brave) ... idiotic. He should not have ... why did he do that? Why would anyone do that? Willingly embracing certain death in the vain hope that someone else might live was (heroic) ... illogical. Sherlock stopped his pacing and glanced over at John again.
By the time Sherlock and John were allowed to leave the Yard it was going 4 a.m. Lestrade insisted that they be driven back to Baker Street in a police car. After stealing a surreptitious glance at his clearly spent blogger the detective made no protest. Without traffic the drive was fairly short but neither man spoke. Nor did they look at each other. Or, to be more precise, Sherlock resolutely fixed his gaze out the window way from John. John, seeing that his friend was in "thinking" mode, was more than happy to lean his head back and close his eyes. Not that he could sleep. Although he appeared outwardly calm, he was still far too jacked up for sleep. Actually, Sherlock's indifference was a relief. He knew from experience that he was headed for a full and spectacular crash and really would prefer not to do it in front of his flatmate.
When the car stopped, Sherlock exited with out a backwards glance. John thanked the officer before rounding the car and gave a quick wave from the pavement as the vehicle pulled away. John pulled in a long, deep breath and blew it out before addressing his flatmate.
"I, ah, think I'm … going to walk," he pointed toward to corner with his head before turning to walk in that direction. Sherlock descended the stoop and was at John's side before he'd taken three steps. John stopped.
"What are you doing?" he asked patiently.
"Walking," Sherlock responded matter-of-factly.
"I meant I, hmm... I need to walk ... alone, Sherlock," John said gently. Sherlock looked baffled and stood rooted to the spot. Several second elapsed before he responded.
"Of course. I'll, um, just ..." he waved vaguely back toward the door to 221 as he stammered. "I need to catalogue ..." he gestured toward is head, "and you'll ... you've got ... things ..." Sherlock fluttered his hand at John as he took a step backwards. John nodded with a weak smile.
"Right," he said looking back one more time before walking away. Sherlock mounted the stoop again and entered. He'd not yet closed the door behind himself before his hand flew to his mobile.
JW is heading north on Baker St. presumably toward
Ms. Sawyer's. SH
Noted. His safe arrival will be assured. MH
Sarah Sawyer was more than disappointed, she was hurt, and she was worried. And angry. Worried but angry. She should just break it off. What was she thinking? John was ... great. He was kind, exciting, caring, unpredictable, a gentleman, dangerous... NO! That was his flatmate, that berk Sherlock. John was responsible. John called when he had to cancel, or when Sherlock made him late. Usually. She rang his number again but it went straight to voice mail. She sighed. Technically, John was on second call, after Peter, this weekend. He should not be turning off his phone for any reason. Sarah was angry and disappointed all over again.
Sarah drank most of the bottle of pinot grigio herself (it wasn't terribly good) before heading to bed with a book of Suduko puzzles around 10 p.m. So much for "the next time", she mused. She was ready or had been ready, too. Truth be told, she had wanted to last time but something had held her back. She sighed. Why was she acting like some chasten school girl. She knew herself better than that and she knew John might ... could very well be ... it. Maybe. But for now she was angry ... and hurt. Oh, who was she fooling? This was going no where. She should just break it off. She would do so first thing tomorrow. Perhaps.
John raised his hand to knock then lowered it again. He looked at his watch. It was 5:12 a.m. How could he knock on Sarah's door at this time of night, er, morning, rather. Another shiver ran through him and he tried to take a deep steadying breath. He was crashing. He should have just stayed home, gone up to his room and closed the door. He huffed a single laugh to himself. Like that would stop Sherlock? He was so exhausted he felt light headed. He needed to get off the street. This was ridiculous, Sarah was really great. She would understand. Hi Sarah. So sorry to be knocking on your door 11 hours late but I have a good excuse. You see I was kidnapped by a psychotic criminal mastermind and strapped to a bomb and ... Right. He closed his eyes only to see red laser dots swimming across his chest and Sherlock's forehead. He yanked them open breathing hard. He needed to get off the street. He glanced at his watch again, 5:13 am. After letting another shiver run its course he raised his hand and knocked.
Sarah had had a bit too much of the dreadful wine and was snoring quietly. Knock, knock, knock. She snuffled groggily but did not open her eyes. Knock, knock, knock. This time Sarah opened her eyes, propped herself up on her elbows and glanced at the clock 5:13 am. Knock, knock, knock. There it was again. She scrambled out of bed with her heart suddenly in her throat. Grabbing her dressing grown, she hurried to the door. Knock, knock, knock. Oh, God, something must be wrong. No one rang with good news at this hour.
"Coming," she called as she reached the door and opened it with the safety chain still attached. Then she froze unable to even form his name, John.
"Hi, Sarah. Um, sorry. I'm, um, I ... sorry ..." John stammered, his powers of speech abandoning him just as Sarah returned.
"John, what on Earth ... what ... where ... why are you here ... It's 5 a.m.!" She glared at him but her alarm, which had turned to anger, was quickly morphing back to alarm. John looked ... wrong. Something was very wrong here. She stopped mid-tirade and stared at him.
"Can I ... come in for a moment, please?" he asked sounding ... stressed. Was that tremour? Her heart was back in her throat as she slid the chain to open the door wide.
It was now just after 1 pm and Sarah sat at her small kitchen table with yet another cup of tea, thumbing through a magazine that she was not reading. John was asleep in her room. It had taken several hours after he had arrived to get him there. As a doctor, Sarah had, of course, heard of acute post-stress reactions and had even thought she had seen them in her patients. She had been wrong. She had never witnessed anything quite like the spectacular adrenaline crash she had seen this morning. She stilled and pricked her ears listening for any hints of distress coming through the partially opened door to her bedroom. There was none so she forced herself to relax her shoulders and take a sip of tea. But it was no good. She stood and paced the living room as John's words raced around the inside of her head. Kidnapped, drugged, strapped to a bomb, snipers, an omnipotent criminal mastermind and, as always, Sherlock. All related in John's half shy, self-deprecating manner as he repeatedly apologized for being late, for intruding, and for a dozen other ridiculous things. It had sounded so preposterous but she knew, knew it was all true and then some. She had seen the small involuntary tremours, heard the ever-so-slight shudder in his measured breathing, seen the winces as he took off his jumper and shirt and the bruises on his knuckles. He'd been beaten, or at least been in a fight. Then, to top it off, the crazy bomber and his gunmen had all gotten away! That frightened her the most because she could see that it frightened him. She knew first hand what it was like to be swept up by the criminals Sherlock Holmes attracted. She needed to stay clear of that. It worried her that John was kidnapped only three blocks from her house. Had these people known where he had been headed? Did they know about her? Did they know where she lived? She peaked out at the street from behind the front curtains for the fourteenth time that day but saw nothing suspicious. Mycroft's people were far too skilled to be spotted by a civilian.
John finally woke an hour later and apologized, again, for intruding. Sarah decided to play it cool, insisting that he stay longer, and joking that he still owed her a date. John smiled gratefully and they passed a delightful, Sherlock-free evening with Indian take-away, a better bottle of wine than the one she had consumed the night before and some telly. They were having a lovely time, like nothing had happened, but the illusion couldn't last because something had most definitely happened. John grew quite and distant again when the news came on. He pulled away from her slowly shaking his head as the lead story on the fake Vermeer was followed by the latest on the gas leak explosion in Yorkshire.
"Just a glimpse," he bit out under his breath.
"What?" Sarah inquired, hoping to draw him out. John spun to face her, his eyes hard with anger.
"It's him. All of it. It's all just ... a distraction. A game! None of it matters to them, either of them ..." John stopped abruptly as if realizing that he has said too much. Sarah stared at him wide-eyed.
"You mean that ..." she pointed vaguely at the news anchor who was reporting on the gruesome strangulation death of noted astronomer, Professor Johanna Cairnes. John held her gaze for a long beat then nodded. Now it was Sarah's turn to pull away. She crossed to the far side of the room, her back to John, not knowing what to think. This. This was utter craziness. John clicked off the television and they stood in silence.
"Sarah, I am ..." John started and stopped.
"Maybe ... I ..." he tried again taking several steps toward her.
"Sorry. I'll just go," he finally managed and began moving toward the door. Sarah turned to face him.
"John, this is ... big. Really big." she blurted. Fire now flashed in her eyes. John gave her a strained smile.
"You need to take care of yourself. To protect your-self. These people are ... mad and ... if they could do all those ..." Sarah stopped. Why was she saying this? Because it had to be said! She knew there wasn't much John Watson couldn't handle yet here they were in the midst of multiple criminal plots and murders. Again.
"Please, promise me that you will be careful," Her voice caught. John crossed the room and took her into a gentle yet secure hug. She wanted to hear him promise, needed to hear it. Instead he said "Don't worry" which wasn't exactly the same thing.
When John returned to Baker St. the next morning it was to find Sherlock sitting in John's preferred armchair deeply immersed in his mind palace. That was more than slightly annoying. They hadn't exchanged more than a dozen sentences since The Pool, they really ought to talk. And why was Sherlock in John's chair? John tried calling his flatmate's name several time before noisily clattering around the kitchen to make tea. No response. With a final exasperated sigh, John collected his laptop and his tea and ascended the thirteen stairs to his room. Surreptitiously Sherlock followed his departure out of the corner of his eye.
Settling at the small desk in his room, John opened a browser window and automatically clicked on the link to his e-mail. He took a sip of tea as his new messages loaded but stopped mid-swallow when he saw the fourth one down,
Pyke, T.A. Re: Re: Re: Re: Back in London?.
OK. That was bizarre. He had been thinking of Tane just two days ago as he and Sherlock had walked away from Connie Prince's house.
John had received the first email from Tane Pyke back in mid February when he was still very much in the early stages of adjusting to life after the army. He hadn't known what to think. His contact with most of his former comrades was stilted. He had just gotten past the incredibly awkward stage with Bill Murray and Ted Berringer and was still working to get there with James Sholto. This despite John's frank pronouncement that his being wounded was hardly the major's fault. Sholto had countered with characteristic gravity that while it was not his fault, John's safety had ultimately been his responsibility, effectively shoving the barrier of rank between them and their unlikely friendship.
Tane Pyke was different. Tane was hardly a good mate in the same sense that Bill or Ted were. Nor was he a mentor or confidante like James. But he was definitely something and John valued their friendship. It had been no secret to John's command that Major Pyke actively sought to recruit John at every opportunity. It was only slightly more secret that Pyke was far more Mi6 than royal marine. John first crossed Pyke's path during his second tour in Afghanistan when he had treated a member of Pyke's team. The two of them had clicked, striking up an easy acquaintance and reconnecting whenever Pyke deigned to grace the camp. John was intrigued by the man and, if he were to admit it, flattered by his attention. Tane Pyke was John's polar opposite in almost every. The second son of an obscenely wealthy, upper-class family he had been born in New Zealand and spent his early childhood there. Pyke's father was a high-ranking member of the British foreign service, the type of career diplomat with lots of letters after their name, and his mother was a senior attache with the New Zealand consulate. John's dad had been a welder and his mum a baker. He often secretly wondered why he and Pyke got on at all. During John's third tour Pyke came looking for an operative with medical knowledge beyond that of a field medic for an extended mission up into the Korengal Valley, a mission rather suspiciously tailor-made for John. John remembered the way Sholto had tried to dissuade him,
"He's a spy, Watson. They all are. Mi6 to be sure," Sholto had cautioned over breakfast.
"You say it like it's a bad thing, sir," John had quipped back trying to lighten the mood. He had already decided to take the assignment.
"Have you met them?**" his commanding officer had retorted in his patented dead-pan delivery. Then he had added seriously,
"They're different, John. Don't always play by the same rules we do."
After returning from his four-week sojourn up the Korengal, John often wondered if Sholto would have been disappointed to discover just how easy John found it to play by Pyke's rules. John knows it scared the hell out of him. That realization, more than anything else, was why he returned to and remained with the Fusiliers despite the continued hard-sell from Tane Pyke.
John clicked on the message and smiled. It contained more of Tane's teasing banter. Of all John's friends he seemed to have the least difficult time with John's injury and discharge, bawdily tearing the mickey out of him for it. The e-mail also contained another invitation (insistence?) to visit Pyke at his family's home in New Zealand where he was currently on extended leave. For Tane Pyke, "extended leave" could, quite literally, mean anything. John took another long sip of tea and stretched. He felt the pull of the bruises from the other night and frowned, closing his eyes. Suddenly there was a cry of "UNACCEPTABLE!" and a crash of furniture from the first storey. John raced down the stairs. Sherlock was standing by John's armchair both hands in his hair as if preparing to pull the curls out. The small table that usually stood next to the chair was overturned and John's current reading material (two paperbacks, several medical journals and a newspaper) plus the Rubik's cube were scattered across the floor.
"What are you doing?" John asked immediately, a wary edge to his voice. Sherlock gave no indication that he had heard John. Instead he pivoted to the right turning his back to his flatmate and continued muttering. John could not make out all the words but he thought he'd heard 'unacceptable' again. Suddenly, Sherlock pivoted back to face John, his eyes pinning the doctor like a butterfly to a tack board. Then he started to pace agitatedly before kicking the coffee table with another roar of "Unacceptable". John was at a loss.
"Stop!" he roared back. Then he added more gently, "Sherlock, stop wrecking the place." He maneuvered himself between the detective and the desk where there were a number of breakable things, including Sherlock's laptop.
"Care to tell me what's so bloody unacceptable?" John asked in his patient voice while assuming an expression of honest curiosity. Sherlock whirled to face him, again regarding him with a piercing laser-like gaze.
"Me?" John inquired after a long beat. He then huffed a half-affronted/ half-resigned laugh.
"So, this is all my fault, is it?" he swept a hand to encompass the room indicating not only the current mess but the left over papers and wall murals from their game of tag with Moriarty. Sherlock spun around a full 360 as if trying to take in the whole room before stopping. His hands flew back into his curls and he squeezed his eyes shut.
"Stop talking, stop talking, stop TALK-ING! I need to think! How can I think when you talk incessantly!"
John stared at his flatmate for a full minute thinking any number of unkind thoughts, his jaw firmly clenched. Finally deciding on his best course of action he turned and left the room. He was going to visit Tane Pyke in New Zealand.
Months, and even years, later Sara Sawyer was never quite sure how it had all started, the "beginning of the end". One moment she had been dutifully working her way through the last of a stack of patient reports on her computer and the next John Watson was asking her to fly away with him to the opposite side of the globe. She hadn't known quite what to make of invitation at first. It had honestly floored her and that bothered her a bit. After all, she had suggested and felt strongly that John should get away for a while, that he should leave London and, specifically, get the hell away from Sherlock Holmes. Why, then, was she so surprised that John was taking her advice? And why was she hesitant to joining him on what could well be a once-in-a-life-time trip to New Zealand? John was head and shoulders (well, not literally) above any of her boyfriends since ... ever. He had serious potential (maybe). She was being ridiculous. This wasn't a marriage proposal, it was just a holiday. In New Zealand! That'd torn it, she was going. She called Elsa in reception and began clearing her schedule.
Two Days Later ...
"Sherlock?" John rapped lightly on the half closed glass doors to the kitchen. The detective made no hint of acknowledgment although he was feeling almost contrite for his outburst earlier that morning. Or was it yesterday? John pressed on, "You busy?" he asked with a shy smile stepping into the kitchen. No response.
"Um, listen. I've had an invite to visit an old army mate. Thing is ... he's in New Zealand." John huffed a self-conscious laugh. Sherlock stilled imperceptibly before forcing himself to load the next saliva slide onto the microscope. John's leaving.
"I've cleared it all with Lestrade. He knows how to get a hold of me, if necessary," John continued. He waited for Sherlock to reply, hoping for a dig at Lestrade, as a minimum.
"It's an open-ended sort on thing," he offered. "Sarah's coming with and, well, it'll probably be awhile before I'm back." Sherlock switched the slides under the microscope and made a notation in his notebook. John's leaving.
"So ... I put next month's rent over there." He pointed to the mantle. "Don't forget to actually give it to Mrs. Hudson, alright?" John waited again for a response.
"OK, I'm off out, then. My flight leaves Heathrow in a few hours." He blew out a long slow breath just like the night at The Pool. Sherlock glanced over without moving. John was staring at an invisible spot on the floor.
"I'm ... I, ah, just need to get my head around all this," he said quietly. "It's nothing ... I," he added after a beat and a forced smile. "I'll see you, when I get back." Sherlock adjusted the focus knobs unnecessarily without looking up. John gave him a tight nod, before turning to go. He grabbed his green duffle from near the door and descended the seventeen steps. Sherlock stood as if one with the sound of the front door closing and crossed to the windows. Peering around the edge of the curtain, he watched John Watson walk away.
Or, how John and Sarah ended up in New Zealand!
OK, this is my head cannon for what happened right after The Pool up to John & Sarah's departure for New Zealand to visit John's old army mate. The trip to New Zealand comes from John's blog and was an obvious nod to Martin Freeman heading off to film The Hobbit. The rest are my musings. This chapter and the next also tell the story (well, my version) of how John and Sarah split up. As I've said before, I always liked Sarah. I really, really like Mary but I still think Sarah was cool. Jumping in and wrestling Chinese baddies on a first date... come on, that was cool. Much better than the boring teacher. I like to think that she and John remained friends or at least friendly colleagues. But break-ups rarely work that way. She wasn't at the wedding, after all, even though David was.
* These lines come from the end of The Pool scene in ASiB.
** This is a reference (rip off?) of John's comment to Sherlock in TGG as they walk away from Connie Prince's house. S: Despite what people think we do still have a secret service. J: Yeah, I know, I've met them. I've always wondered when, how and in what capacity John had "met" the British secret service? Doesn't Gatiss know that he can't just throw things like that out there without driving us fans to distraction!
Finally, Tane is a Maori name pronounced Tahr-nay.
Please read and review.
Not beta'd or Brit-picked