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I Shall Not Be Thy Refuge Once More, chapter 7/12

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Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 | 9:50 pm
music: "Prithee" -- the Monkees
posted by: rose_of_pollux in 30_losses

Title: I Shall Not Be Thy Refuge Once More, chapter 7: I Warned Thee More Than Many Times
Author/Artist: Crystal Rose of Pollux (rose_of_pollux)
Rating: PG13
Fandom: Sherlock
Claim: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson (friendship)
Theme: 19A; Harsh revelation
Genre/s: Drama/Friendship
Warnings: Some violence
Words: ~2500
Summary: Sherlock didn't think things could get any worse. Well, they did..
Disclaimer/Claimer: The characters are not mine (except for the OCs) and the story is
A/N: crossposted to FFN

John took a few more minutes to catch his breath. He was clearing thinking some things over, and he cast a glance down the end of the alley from which they had fled.

“Okay, look…” he said, taking a key out of his pocket and handing it to Sherlock. “This is the spare key to my flat. You go there for a few hours—stay out of sight. Even after what you just did, there’s no way I’d want you wandering around with Moran just waiting for you. But you need to clear out of there by 6:00. Molly should be back by then; you can stay at her place. Just… be careful.”

“You’re not going back, too?” Sherlock asked.

“Would you, if you were me?” John asked him, flatly. “I think we both need some alone time.”

He started to limp away, but Sherlock followed him to the opposite end of the alley.

“John, Moran might recognize you.”

“I don’t intend to be out in the open, either,” John said, waving a cab over. “Besides, you’re the target, not me.” He hesitated. “Actually, you take this cab.”

“John—”

Take it.”

Sherlock placed his hand on the door handle, a part of him wondering if he would even see John again after this.

“I’ll take the next cab—I swear. I’ll be at work,” John said. “There’s no point for you to be out here; Parker’s long gone, and you are in considerable danger.”

The detective sighed. John had a point; he wouldn’t be able to take down Moriarty’s network if they got to him first. He got inside the cab, and though he glanced at the key in his hand for a moment, he changed his mind and instructed the driver to take him to the Diogenes Club, feeling s slight sense of relief as he turned around to see John waving another cab over and getting into it.

Sherlock was no stranger to the Diogenes Club, but it was a place he would rather avoid. Nevertheless, he made his way to Mycroft’s office. The elder Holmes glanced up as his disguised brother arrived before returning his gaze to his work.

“I did warn you, you know,” was all that he said.

“I didn’t come here for an I-told-you-so!” Sherlock snapped back. “I came here to find out what happened to John. Something has happened to him; more than once, he… hasn’t been himself.”

He was reluctant to describe exactly what had been wrong about John in case Mycroft would consider taking drastic measures to ensure that John wouldn’t hurt him. The last thing Sherlock wanted was John getting locked up; not only would that be unbearable for the both of them, but John would never forgive him for that.

“I know no more than you do,” Mycroft said.

That, I doubt.”

“It’s true. I am, however, making inquiries. There has been no unusual activity in the proximity of John’s flat—no loiterers, no forced entries (yours notwithstanding), and no people that haven’t been cleared by the building’s security. If John is behaving strangely, well… it would seem that his mind has—”

“Don’t say it.”

“Do you have any alternate explanations for John’s… behavior?”

Sherlock half suspected that Mycroft knew exactly what had transpired last night, but he said nothing.

“I don’t,” he admitted. “But I intend to find out.”

“As do I, Brother. Which is why I, as I already stated, have made inquiries. I hope to have answers as soon as possible. If you wish to wait here, you may receive the answers firsthand.”

Sherlock sat down, but then frowned.

“To whom have you made these inquiries?”

“I merely instruct Anthea to find the information I desire; she is the one who sees the channels.”

“How convenient.”

“Quite.”

Sherlock folded his arms and waited, too worried to be bored. But as the hours ticked by with no response, and Mycroft not looking up from his desk, Sherlock began to grow very impatient.

“What is taking so long!?”

“I said that you may receive the answers. I don’t know exactly when and if they will arrive.”

Sherlock looked to him in disbelief.

“Then this is absolutely pointless! There are things I need to be doing with my time—Moran is out there; he took a shot at me!”

Now Mycroft looked up.

“He took a shot at you?”

“You know I hate repeating myself.”

“And you’re still here?”

“John pulled me away just in time.”

“Nevertheless, Moran does not miss, not even with unexpected heroics,” Mycroft said. “You know that.”

Sherlock looked to his brother in surprise.

“Then… you’re saying…”

“If that was Moran, then he missed on purpose.”

Why?” Sherlock asked, furious with himself for not realizing that out-of-character move.

“It would seem that your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps he had to make certain that Erik Sigerson and Sherlock Holmes were one and the same. And what better way to get the answer than—”

“—Getting John to risk his own life to save mine,” Sherlock finished. He cringed.

“So now you have another problem, in addition to John’s odd behavior,” Mycroft said. “You’re going to have to find another alias.”

“Before that, I’m going to have to make sure that John is safe,” Sherlock said, getting up. “Now that Moran knows I’m back in London, John is going to be a target again.”

He didn’t bother to say goodbye, and Mycroft didn’t say anything, either.

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


Sherlock knew that it was 6:15—well after the time that John had instructed that he vacate his flat. But there were more important things than ensuring that John’s plans with his girlfriend went unspoiled. And that was what brought Sherlock Holmes back outside John’s flat. He paused, trying to hear if they were inside.

Sure enough, he could hear voices.

“I brought a very special wine for you to try tonight, John,” he heard a female voice say.

American accent. Well-educated. Confident. Air of a leader. Definitely John’s aforementioned businesswoman.

“Ari, I really shouldn’t,” John was saying, over the sound wine being poured. “You know what happens when I have any of that American wine—I nod right off!”

“Just a taste then,” Aranea pleaded. “Please, John? This one is from my family’s collection—my great-grandmother saw to the bottling! It’s more than a hundred and twenty years old, and is absolute perfection—I had to sneak a taste this afternoon!”

“Ari…”

“Won’t you try it, just for me?”

Sherlock frowned. There was something in her voice he didn’t like.

There was a sigh from John.

“Oh, all right… Cheers.”

Two glasses clinked together, which was followed by a brief silence.

“Is everything okay, John?”

“Hmm? Fine. Just fine. Why do you ask?”

“You look as though you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

“Well, I’m a doctor. We’ve always got something on our minds—lucky for the human populace…”

Aranea chuckled, and John continued speaking.

“Actually, Ari… I was wondering if you would like to have dinner out tonight?”

“I thought we were going to eat in?”

“We were, but things got so hectic this morning… I completely forgot to get the groceries.”

“I’m not dressed-up enough for going out!”

“You look great, Ari.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere, John. How about we order takeout? We can try watching Casablanca again…”

She trailed off; Sherlock had chosen that moment to use the key that John had given him to unlock the door, and her eyes widened at this apparent intrusion.

John’s expression was a mix of horror and fury, but Sherlock’s first glance was on Aranea—she was in jeans and a t-shirt, her whitish-blonde hair down, not at all looking the part of the businesswoman she clearly was. Sherlock’s glance next fell upon her bag by the door; he mentally filed the visible contents as the woman finally cleared her throat.

“Who’s this, John?”

“Old army buddy,” he replied, through gritted teeth. “Whom I distinctly told to be elsewhere at this time.”

“Still no sign of my luggage, John,” Sherlock said, putting on a pitiable expression. “And the hotels I can afford are full. You wouldn’t mind putting up your old comrade-in-arms, would you?”

Yes.”

Aranea cleared her throat.

“Maybe I’d better go, John…”

“No! No, you stay,” John said. “He goes!”

“Oh, John, I couldn’t possible come between you and an old friend!” she exclaimed.

“Force yourself!”

“No, no… I know what it’s like, meeting friends who are always away traveling… I don’t want you to regret this. I’ll see you tomorrow night?”

“Well, I might still be here…” Sherlock said.

“No, he won’t!” John insisted.

“Well, let me know when it’s convenient. Maybe we can double! See you, Boys!”

“Ari!” John exclaimed, as she picked up her wine bottle and her bag, waving as she left. He got up and tried to follow her, stopping outside the corridor. “Ari—!”

“John, give it up,” Sherlock said. “We have more important things to discuss.”

John strode back inside, slamming the door shut.

“I thought I told you to be out of here by six,” he hissed.

“Things came up, John. I spoke to—”

“You’re not even back twenty-four hours, and you’re already resuming your active sabotage of my love life!” John exclaimed. “Isn’t it bad enough that I had to deal with your accusations, to say nothing of being judo-thrown in an alley after I tried to save your life—”

“That’s what we need to talk about, John. That was a ploy to get the both of us out into the open. Moran had to make sure who I was, and now that he knows, he’ll probably be after you, too!”

“So you found it necessary to shoo my girlfriend off of the premises?” John asked. “Don’t you think that her presence as a witness might’ve scared Moran off?”

“Possibly, but you’re better off without her,” Sherlock said. “She’s two-timing you.”

Silence.

What.”

“I could see it when I glanced into her bag, John,” the detective said. “She had a pair of theatre tickets for tonight, what looked suspiciously like a pair of airplane tickets, and I’m sure I saw an evening dress tucked away in there—it’s amazing what women can store in those bags; I wouldn’t be at all surprised. She knows just as well as you do that you can’t hold your wine; she was planning on a rendezvous for after you’d nodded off—that’s why she was so insistent on staying in.”

John stared—no, glared at him—for a full five minutes.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “No, I… I won’t believe it.”

“John, come on; you’ve seen me unmask cheating dates before with even less blatant evidence than this…”

“Yes, but… You’ve been wrong about many, many things today, Sherlock. I’m convinced that you’re wrong about this, too,” John said, picking up his phone from the coffee table. “I’m going to text her right now and tell her that I managed to find a hotel for you, so she can come right back here. And then, I’m fixing myself a pot of strong coffee so that I can stay awake and prove you wrong.”

“Can I still stay?” Sherlock asked, wryly. “I’d like to be there to see myself proven wrong.”

John gave him a look and retreated to his room, phone in hand, leaving Sherlock alone in the sitting room with his thoughts.

It hurt. He wasn’t going to deny it. He remembered the days when John willingly (albeit with multiple complaints) shooed his girlfriends to the side to help Sherlock through a case or through his danger nights. The shoe was on the other foot now, and Sherlock didn’t like it one bit.

Sherlock was vaguely aware of the sound of a small ring from behind John’s door—a personalized text alert, no doubt. He sighed, trying to focus on what he could say to convince John that he was truly story and wanted to make amends—now for the things he had done since his return rather than just those before it.

Absently, he began to play with a few coins from a coin jar John had placed on the endtable as he pondered. Well, apologizing about Aranea would probably be a good place to start…

He turned as he heard John’s door open, his mouth open to speak… and the words died in his throat.

That look—that murderous look—was back on John’s face. And before Sherlock could even react, John leaped at him, closing his hands around Sherlock’s throat.

“John—!” the detective gasped, before his air supply was compromised.

Desperately, he gripped at John’s hands, trying to pry them loose from his neck, but the soldier only held on, tightening his grip.

Sherlock’s vision was beginning to blur, and he knew that this was the prelude to unconsciousness. His body was already getting too heavy to keep himself up; he fell backwards, John still holding onto his throat.

Sherlock knocked the endtable over as he fell. The coin jar fell, as well, the metallic sound of the spilled coins filling the air.

And then, Sherlock saw John’s eyes clear, the murderous look replaced by a baffled expression. And that expression was soon replaced by one of utter horror as John saw his own hands clamped around the detective’s throat.

Sherlock gasped as John released him, drawing in the welcome air. He shut his eyes for a moment, trying to hold on to whatever threads of consciousness he could still grasp; his eyes soon flew open again, anticipating another attack.

He saw John kneeling beside him, but not even looking at him. The doctor was staring at his own two hands, his entire body trembling—trembling! Not even at the poolside confrontation with Moriarty had John shaken like this!

John finally looked at him, and Sherlock could see the clear eyes he knew best—eyes that were screaming in silent agony and horror as he fully grasped what had just happened—that Sherlock had been right all this time and had not been mistaken… that he really had just tried to kill his best friend…

Oh, God…” he gasped, taking every ounce of self-control he possessed to keep himself from screaming those two words.

Sherlock forced himself to sit up, not breaking the gaze that he and John were holding. Weakly he extended a hand to the soldier.

“John…”

But John recoiled from him as though the detective’s very touch was unbearable. And, perhaps, in this moment of horrified realization, it was.

John jumped to his feet, and without so much as a word, fled out his own front door.

“John!” Sherlock called, his voice still raspy. “John, don’t! There has to be an explanation—if we only just figure this…”

He trailed off, despairing. He knew John was out of earshot.

“…Out,” he finished, sadly.

Once again, Sherlock Holmes had been proven right. And things had only gotten worse because of it.

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