Mike liked his job. He liked introducing John to Sherlock. He had done it in a million different timelines, in a million different situations, in a million different universes. Of course, he wasn't always Mike when he did the job. But he liked the persona, and donned it for this particular one.
Park bench. He had been sitting on it for several hours now. He stayed absolutely still, content in looking passively into the distance. London life teemed about him, likening him to a rock stuck in a roaring river. He hardly noticed. Hours passed for him in moments.
Sherlock and John in this universe? Interesting. He saw their path before him, brimming with dangers and adventure and plot twists. Eventually they end up marrying. Quaint! This was definitely the gayest Sherlock and John pairing he had seen in a while. It takes them forever to act on it too. To each his own.
And of course there's Moriarty. There's always Moriarty. The antithesis to Sherlock, the conflict bringer, the villain, the hell spawn. Bastard. In this version, he's some skinny Irish twat that climbs his way from obscurity to criminal royalty. Usually Moriarty is a professor. It's interesting that this universe aligned in such a way that he is some sort of criminal consultant instead. Nevertheless, there's always a Moriarty, just like there's always a Sherlock, and there's always a John. They're universal constants. In every universe, timeline, version of events… John meets Sherlock, and they are pitted against Moriarty. This relationship is the axis in which reality rotates. The three characters are repeated endlessly in the coding of time and space.
Mike smiled a little to himself as John finally limped into his periphery. The universe had really screwed John over this time. He's been shot, and is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. But Mike can't dwell on this. He has a job to do.
As he herds a reluctant John into Saint Bart's, where he is to meet Sherlock, something goes terribly wrong. Mike can taste the burnt ozone residue of a blip in the timeline. This version of events was changing, and Mike had no time to compensate.
He didn't get paid enough for this.
"John," he said, wincing at the tangible panic in his voice, "I'm not really feeling Bart's right now. Could we just go get some coffee instead?"
John's looking at him like he has three heads. He looks down at his hands to see- oh. They had already gotten coffee earlier. The incriminating lukewarm evidence sat smugly in
"Right," John said, stretching the word out for longer than necessary and narrowing his eyes. "How about we just-"
Oh God. The nausea hits him like a freight train. Mike feels like he's going to throw up. This is spinning rapidly out of control, he's beginning to see what's about to happen, this is not supposed to happen, not on his watch-
There's a crash, and a soft yelp. Mike looks up at to the source of the commotion to see a man in a low cut shirt on the ground picking up John's cane. John looks a bit red, and the man is blubbering like a complete idiot.
This is wrong.
"Oh, God, I'm so s-sorry," the Irishman stuttered, giving John back his cane and ducking his head. "You must think I'm a complete clod," he was blushing and running a hand through his unruly dark hair.
"The fault is mine," John said, loosening up slightly. "I should have been looking where I was going." The man seemed to be at a loss for words. He kept opening and closing his mouth and turning more and more red. The bastard. John seemed to take pity on the seemingly awkward man, and smiled lightly. "I'm John, by the way." He extended his hand in invitation.
"Jim. I work part time as IT. Here. At Bart's I mean." Jim's handshake was deceptively strong for such a wane man. Mike recoiled slightly at how incredibly, horribly wrong this whole encounter was. Moriarty was not under any circumstances supposed to meet John before Sherlock. It left a bitter taste in his mouth; it clogged his nose with a thick, cloying smell. He cleared his throat, and Jim jumped a little, letting go of John's hand.
"Ah, John?" he prompted, leading the ex-army doctor to look towards him with a puzzled frown. In John's eyes, he must be acting like a complete lunatic. Mike didn't care. As long as he navigated this carefully, and maneuvered John up the stairs to where Sherlock was, nothing else mattered.
"Yes?" John answered in a clipped tone.
"We're looking for a flat share, remember?" As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized he made a horrible, horrible mistake. There was a stabbing pain in his head as the future realigned itself and laid before him in stunning, terrifying detail. No more John and Sherlock, together as the dynamic duo. No more tiffs, no more Baskervilles, no more adventures. No more weddings. Only Moriarty's twisted smile echoed in the paths of what was to come.
"You're looking for a flat share too?" Jim's disgustingly tentative voice grated on his nerves. He looked so damnably hopeful, and he could already see John accepting the hesitant offer.
"Yes, actually," John said, with a worry line in his forehead. "I don't know if I should lodge with you though, I mean, I hardly know you-" Jim blushed, and gnawed on his lip. Mike could see John mulling the proposal over.
"My old roommate, Seb, well, he got a girlfriend," Jim was wrinkling his nose and his ears were burning. "And they," he made an ambiguous gesture with his hands, "all the time, you know? So, finally I told him to either quit it, or bugger off. Well, he, you know, and now I can't afford my rent…" Jim trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck and looking at his shoes.
There was nothing he could do. His policy of interfering was minimal… and it certainly didn't cover this instance. He was allowed to introduce John to Sherlock. That was all. Anything else was not permissible. Not even steering John away from this toxic conversation.
"Yeah, alright Jim. We can give it a go." John still looked unsure, but Moriarty was radiant.
"Thanks mate," he said, beaming. "You have no idea how much easier this just made my life," he was grinning, and John found himself returning the smile.
Mike did not share the sentiment.
"Here's the key," Jim said, pulling it out of his pocket and handing it to John. "Just let yourself in and do your thing. I'll be there in a few hours."
"Yeah, nice," John turned the key over in his hands, before his shoving it in his pocket and nodding at Mike. "It was nice seeing you again," he said, voice barely conveying the sentiment expressed in the words. "We should get together more often."
Already, Mike knew that they wouldn't.
"Yeah," he said with a weak smile. "We should."
As John turned to leave, Mike noted with a sick feeling that Moriarty was looking at him shrewdly, no doubt already working out that the limp was psychosomatic, that John was an adrenaline junkie, and that he had a dark side that could be coaxed out if handled properly.
John limped out of hospital, without even meeting Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock was supposed to fix John's limp. Sherlock was supposed to satisfy John's need for adventure. Sherlock was supposed to suppress John's dark side by fostering feelings of fierce loyalty and protectiveness, so that it wouldn't run rampant. Now, none of this would happen.
Mike just stood there, completely, and utterly lost.
He had failed.