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I Shall Not Be Thy Refuge Once More, chapter 4/12

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Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | 6:37 am
music: "Prithee" -- the Monkees
posted by: rose_of_pollux in 30_losses

Title: I Shall Not Be Thy Refuge Once More, chapter 4: Thou Makest Demands on Me
Author/Artist: Crystal Rose of Pollux (rose_of_pollux)
Rating: PG13
Fandom: Sherlock
Claim: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (friendship)
Theme: 39B; Changed for good
Genre/s: Drama/Friendship
Warnings: Some violence
Words: ~2300
Summary: Sherlock tries to convince John to come with him despite his own doubts. Meanwhile, other wheels are being put into motion.
Disclaimer/Claimer: The characters are not mine (except for the OCs) and the story is
A/N: crossposted to FFN


Blocks away from Molly’s flat, while the second attempt at the reunion was taking place, a red-nailed hand absently flipped her phone around and around as a blond woman sat at the desk in her hotel room.

It seemed to be completely random that John Watson would’ve called to ask if she had seen an intruder on her way out last night. And yet, was it really nothing?

She absently gazed at the phone in her hand. Her instructions had been clear—to report if something out of the ordinary occurred during her time with the doctor—for anything out of the ordinary could mean that Sherlock Holmes was alive.

She had to admit that she found it farfetched, but Sebastian had told her otherwise. Jim had apparently confided in Sebastian that he had suspected Sherlock might have pulled off something so impossible.

It was then that Sebastian asked her, on the late Jim’s behalf, to get close to John Watson, for if Sherlock Holmes was alive, he would, eventually contact him. And it was then that they could put their plan into action.

For the last few three months since dating the doctor, however, nothing seemed to have happened. She had been seeing the doctor regularly, following all of Sebastian’s instructions to the letter, but there had been nothing to suggest that Sherlock Holmes had ever tried to contact him. On the infrequent occasions that Sherlock was brought into the conversation, John always referred to him in the past tense, the sorrow in his eyes genuine. More than once, she had found the charade useless.

But here was this development from this morning. Perhaps it was nothing… but, perhaps, it was her chance to finally pay back an IOU to the late Jim Moriarty.

With a determined look, she went through her phone’s list of contacts and placed a call to Sebastian Moran.

***********************************


Molly had long since taken her leave to go to St. Bart’s, but she left Sherlock and John a tray full of breakfast as Sherlock calmly explained everything that had happened. John still looked hurt and upset, but he did seem willing to sit through the explanation, and as Molly left, she found herself hoping that their friendship was on the road to recovery.

“…And that’s the whole truth,” Sherlock explained. “I came back because I knew there was one person who would love to take down the rest of Moriarty’s ring along with me—one person I wanted there with me.”

“You… couldn’t have come back sooner?” John asked, softly. “Let Molly tell me, or let anyone tell me?”

“I told you, John; I thought they would be watching you,” Sherlock said. “I didn’t… I couldn’t let them kill you!”

He had voiced only that much of his concerns, but being who he was—famous for being emotionless—he had not revealed the true horror he had felt at the prospect of being responsible for the death of his best friend.

“You are upset, and rightly so. I understand that. But at least you’re alive to be upset,” he finished.

John just shook his head, cursing softly; Sherlock wasn’t sure whether it was Moriarty’s network or Sherlock himself the doctor was cursing, and the detective decided he didn’t want to know.

There was an awkward pause after that, which Sherlock tried to break in an even more awkward manner.

“I take it you missed me.”

“If I punch you in the face right now, no one would blame me.”

“I’ll take that as a yes if you avoid my nose and teeth.”

John turned sharply towards him with an unreadable expression, prompting Sherlock to look back at him with a similar one. Slowly, the doctor’s mouth cracked into a smile, and then, suddenly, he burst out laughing.

Sherlock stared at him for a moment before starting to laugh himself—whether out of relief or because of John’s infectious laughter, he wasn’t sure. And he didn’t care; for that one, wonderful moment, it was as though the painful span of time apart had never happened, and they were both laughing like schoolboys just as they had been during their visit to Buckingham Palace.

John was laughing and crying at the same time after a moment, his emotions still in a jumbled mess. He caught his breath and dried his eyes, still in disbelief. This had to be a dream, and yet, he knew he was wide awake.

“I really don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Sherlock,” he said.

“Well, I think I can answer that for you,” the detective said, with a smirk. “Come with me and help me round up the rest of Moriarty’s web—the detective and his blogger, just like the old days.”

The smile faded from John’s face now, and so did Sherlock’s smirk upon seeing that.

“John?”

“It’s not that simple, Sherlock,” he said, softly. “I, um… I need to go to work. I actually should’ve left half an hour ago.”

“Work? Work?!” Sherlock asked.

“Yes, work. You know, that thing you do for a living? I have a job at—”

“I know; you’re working in the East End. Molly told me. But what we did—that was our work, wasn’t it?”

“Well, it was, but you were supposed to be dead, remember? I couldn’t have exactly carried on alone—not only were you still being considered a fraud by everyone and their dog, I don’t exactly possess the same gift that you do.”

“You shouldn’t have had to work at all,” Sherlock said, frowning. “I told Mycroft to give you—”

“Mycroft and I are not on speaking terms,” John said, his fist clenching again. “He sent me several text messages and emails after your funeral, which I deleted without reading. And I refused to answer his calls. I even refused to go along with Anthea when she turned up outside my flat with one of Mycroft’s cars.”

Sherlock felt his heart twist in his chest; he had planned everything such that John would’ve been well off during his absence, and just now he had found out that John had been working hard during the time he should’ve been recovering from this… the time when he should’ve been grieving in peace.

“He was going to give you money, John—money that I had set aside for you… Money from our clients that was just as much yours as it was mine.”

“I suspected that, actually, but I wasn’t going to take any help from Mycroft. It was his fault, you know. He was the one who—”

“I know, John. I know. I’m just sorry you had to suffer so long in my absence.”

“Suffer? Sherlock, I went to school for this; I probably would’ve still searched for a job anyway, even if I had accepted the money.”

“So I’m really not the only one who gets bored…” Sherlock said, with a wan smile. “Well, I guess burying yourself in work is one way of dealing with grief. It’s the best antidote to sorrow, after all.”

“That’s what you’ve been doing, then?” John asked.

“Been keeping tabs on one Sebastian Moran,” Sherlock agreed. “You remember our meeting with Moriarty at the pool? Of course you remember; it was one of the best nights of your life. Moran was the one holding the first rifle that night.”

“Ah.”

“I’m almost certain he was there the day I fell, too. Waiting in case I didn’t…”

“Let’s not go there, shall we?” John said.

“Sorry. Anyway, Moran’s been all over Europe, trying to get into contact with some of Moriarty’s old confederates. They’ve been making plans to come here—in London. I’ve seen a couple in town; I half expect that Moran will be in London soon, assuming he isn’t here already.”

“And so you came to London, too.”

“It was the most logical decision, wasn’t it? I also thought it was a logical decision to ask you to come along. I didn’t exactly expect a refusal—not from you. And I certainly didn’t expect an atta—”

He stopped himself, but he was too late; John gave him a most disapproving look, his mouth going thin again.

“Well, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I need to go to work,” the doctor said, getting to his feet.

“John, no; I said the wrong thing—”

“You know, you’re good at that. You really are…”

“John, for the love of…” It was Sherlock’s turn to clench a fist, this time in frustration. “How do I make this up to you? Tell me!”

John now cast a sideways glance at his friend—his socially awkward friend who, clearly, wanted nothing more than to make amends, but just didn’t understand that things didn’t work like this.

“You need to learn, Sherlock,” he said, softly. “It just isn’t something so simple as to do one or two things.”

“I will do whatever I have to,” Sherlock vowed.

“Well, for starters, you could stop bringing up that I intentionally attacked you!”

Sherlock looked down, averting John’s gaze. He wanted to believe John; he wanted to believe that it had been some sort of dream he had been in the middle of or some huge mistake. But the murderous look in John’s eyes would not leave Sherlock’s consciousness. Sherlock knew that the look in John’s eyes had only turned up after he had recognized him. But he didn’t dare to say anything—not when John had seemed honestly shocked and upset by Sherlock’s accusation of the attack.

Something was wrong, but, whatever it was, it had hopefully passed. It certainly seemed to be now.

“I am sorry, John. Truly, I am… very sorry. What else can I do?”

“Sherlock, I told you, it’s not that simple. It’s not just about making amends—though you have put me through a lot and amends would be nice, but… I do forgive you, Sherlock. Don’t think that I’m going to hold a grudge over this, because I wouldn’t do that. But you have to understand that this is… more than unexpected. I’m not used to death being something other than permanent. I’d finally adjusted my life, and then, all of a sudden, you walk back in and expect me to pick up right where we left off. Sherlock, please understand. I have a job. I have a girlfriend. I have commitments to the both of them. … I can’t just drop everything and chase after Moriarty’s lot now!”

“But you want to,” Sherlock said. “I can see it in your eyes, John. You want things to go back to the way they were before, don’t you? The clues, the chase, the adrenaline coursing through you… you’ve missed it as much as you’ve missed me.”

“I won’t deny it,” John said, after a moment. “But the point is—”

“There is no point,” Sherlock challenged, deducing John’s thought process just like he always used to do. “You’re standing on some sort of principle. Your job and your girlfriend were here for you when I was not, so you feel obligated to them. There’s also a part of you that wants to teach me a lesson in spite of your having forgiven me, so you’ve got yourself another reason. Thirdly, there’s a part of you that is convinced that this is a dream or a hallucination, and I’m not really here. Well, let me assure you, John, that I am here. I am real. And I am giving you that chance to go back to the life we both miss.”

John forced his expression to remain neutral.

“Things have changed in your absence, Sherlock,” he said calmly.

“But not this,” the detective smirked. “Never this—especially not something so personal as this. Because these people are the reason why we… why you had to go through this. Don’t tell me that you’re willing to let them go about their business, because I know that John Watson wouldn’t even consider it.”

“You can stop twisting my arm,” John said, retrieving his phone from his pocket to text the clinic that something unexpected had come up. “But let’s make one thing perfectly clear, Sherlock. I’m not doing this for the adrenaline rush or the nostalgia. I’m doing this to show you that I appreciate that you are willing to trust me again after you seemed so convinced that I was trying to kill you. Tell the truth, Sherlock; you would much rather go on your own so you wouldn’t have to watch your back if I’m around. You’re the one acting on principle now; but you seem to be sincere about it.”

Sherlock didn’t respond to this; he looked away again, keeping his expression neutral. He had always wanted John to accompany him on this particular quest, but he had, after the previous night, indeed been considering completing it solo.

“And let me make another thing clear,” John went on. “It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or what clues we’ve found; at 6:00, we’re finished—or, at least, I’m finished. I have plans for tonight, and I intend to see them through.”

Sherlock exhaled, but nodded.

“Very well; I suppose I’ll have to take what I can get. Now… I suggest you take this time to get ready. Finish up whatever breakfast you think you still need to keep yourself going while I dye my hair.”

“Right,” John said, picking up a piece of toast and cheese, but his hand froze halfway up to his mouth as he fully registered what Sherlock had just said. “I’m sorry… what?”

“Well, you don’t expect me to go as myself, do you?” the detective said. “As you pointed out, I’m supposed to be dead!”

John responded by rolling his eyes heavenward. Some things would never change. And he would always be grateful for that.

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