“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime,
and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
â Edna St. Vincent Millay
note: Part 5 of the "No Heart For Me Like Yours" series. This story contains quite a few spoilers for the rest of the series, so it would probably make much more sense to read the series in order, as it tells how John and Sherlock got to this point.
Thanks again to abundantlyqueer and AfroGeekGoddess for your ideas and feedback on the character of Moran and his backstory. You are both amazing. Thank you to my friend Edwin for your help in researching weaponry and ballistics armor. Thank you to my lovely, lovely readers for messaging me asking for me to publish the next chapter, PLEASE! Without your gentle encouragement, I'm not sure I'd have kept going when it got tough.
And as always, thanks to my wonderful beta reader/editor/mentor/friend, Skyfullofstars. If this chapter is good, it's thanks to Sky. If it's not, then I just didn't live up to her standard. :)
Sherlock belongs to Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock Holmes originally belonged to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I own nothing. This makes me very, very sad. Written for fun, not profit.
Warnings: Sherlock/John. Slash, slash, somewhat graphic slash. Major, major spoilers for Season 2.
Trigger warnings: Suicidal ideation; references to previous abusive relationship, references to non-con, references to sexual assault, references to child prostitution/abuse, references to homophobia.Please read and review!
Read Chapter 16
Chapter 17: An Obvious Fact
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
â Arthur Conan Doyle
The sleek, black saloon drops us off at the top of Baker Street. As we exit the car, Mycroft places a lightly restraining hand on Sherlock’s arm.
“Do have a care, Sherlock,” he murmurs. “I wish you’d let me handle this.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” snorts Sherlock, shrugging away from his brother’s touch. “I’ve planned this ambush perfectly. It’s all under control.”
Mycroft sighs, releasing Sherlock and sitting back against the soft leather seat.
“Very well, brother. Good hunting.”
Their eyes lock for a moment, steely grey boring into icy blue, then Sherlock nods curtly.
“And to you.”
He slams the heavy door, and the car glides smoothly away from the kerb.
Sherlock turns to me.
“Follow me, John.”
We duck into a narrow alley, take a sharp right into another, and then Sherlock hops a low wall. I scramble over it after him, mentally cursing his long, lanky legs that make him so quick to go over instead of around. The anti-ballistic vest I’m wearing doesn’t make the climbing any easier, but I’m not about to complain after my vocal insistence, back at Mycroft’s, that we wear body armor. Suck it up, Watson.
We find ourselves in a narrow alleyway between the exposed railway tracks at Baker Street Station and a row of through-terraced houses. Sherlock strides swiftly to one of the doors and whips out a key. In seconds, he has the door open and is beckoning me inside.
Sherlock closes the door behind us, then turns to me.
“Do you know where we are, John?”
Despite the age of the building, the house has a faint aroma of fresh construction: the scents of sawdust, plaster and fresh paint linger subtly in the air. I move to the front of the house and gaze out the window. I realise that this is the house that Moriarty blew up in the fake gas explosion, where he left Sherlock the replica of the pink phone in a strongbox. The rebuilding has been quite skillfully done, and the interior of the old, Georgian house has been restored to an extremely desirable, modern home.
“"Is this Camden House, which stands opposite to our flat?”
“Exactly.” Sherlock’s mouth quirks up in approval. He motions to the stairs. “After you.”
As we climb the stairs to the first floor, I’m puzzled by the empty house. Baker Street is a popular location. Why would this house be uninhabited?
“Mycroft bought it,” Sherlock answers, dryly, as we reach the landing.
Did I say it out loud?
“You are so obvious, really, John.” Sherlock rolls his eyes at me. “You looked at the empty rooms, obviously noting the lack of furniture. Your mind always goes to the financial aspect of things. You should really stop doing that, by the way – with my inheritance, you’re as rich as Mycroft now. So, of course, you wondered why this house is vacant in a location like this. Simple, really – Mycroft bought the house, with this endgame in mind.”
“Amazing,” I burst out, before I can stop myself.
Sherlock beams at me. I’m overwhelmed, suddenly, by the wave of nostalgic joy that sweeps over me. We’re on the hunt, adrenaline rising, Sherlock is being brilliant – it’s all so achingly familiar. I’ve missed this so much.
I grin back at Sherlock, and the flash of heat that suddenly arcs between us is so shocking that I actually gasp. Sherlock’s eyes dilate as they burn into mine, and he backs me against the trendy, exposed-brick wall, dipping his head to crush his lips to mine, as his long fingers drop to grip my hips. His hot tongue invades my mouth, curling aggressively around my own.
My own arousal is sudden and intense, and my left hand cups his arse, tugging him closer, as the fingers of my right hand twine into the curls at his nape. For a moment, I allow myself to savour my lover’s heated embrace. Then I force myself to relax my grip on Sherlock, loosening my hands to release the short, curly hair, the luscious arse. Sherlock reluctantly follows suit, and we slowly release each other to simply stand, leaning into each other, foreheads touching, hands loosely gripping each other’s arms.
“Blimey, Sherlock,” I gasp, trying to get my breath back. “Not exactly textbook behaviour for a stakeout, is it?”
Sherlock chuckles, the rich baritone sending aftershocks down my spine.
“One last hurrah, isn’t that what they say?”
“Shut it,” I snap at him, fiercely. He blinks at me in surprise.
“I mean it, Sherlock. Don’t you say things like that. You are never to leave me again. Ever. Our ‘last hurrah’ won’t take place until we’re old and grey, in that cottage with the beehives you talked about. Understood?”
His face crinkles into my beloved just-for-John smile, all creases and lines and crooked lips.
We grin at each other; then continue up the stairs.
When we enter the large, square room that faces Baker Street, Sherlock turns to me.
“Step closer to the window, John, taking every precaution not to show yourself, and then look over at our flat -- the starting point of so many of your little fairytale blog entries.”
“Prat.” I good-naturedly swat Sherlock on the arse. “Show some respect - those blog entries are your livelihood.”
Sherlock sniffs. “I suppose it has brought a few mildly interesting cases to my attention.”
Rolling my eyes at this latest rehashing of our familiar argument, I ease forward beside the window, peering cautiously around the frame to look across Baker Street. The sun is dropping behind the roofline of 221, but I can still see directly into our brightly-lit sitting room.
Sherlock lies draped across the sofa in front of the window, fingers steepled in his classic thinking pose.
Christ, that’s eerie.
It’s the decoy, of course. From here, the “uncanny valley” effect isn’t visible; it’s merely Sherlock, sprawled in his usual long-limbed grace, a knight’s effigy returned to life. As I watch, I see the head shift side to side, and the hands unfold to lie flat across the decoy’s chest.
“Where’s Edwin?” I ask.
“What? I thought you said he wasn’t going to be in danger!” I stare at Sherlock in shock.
“He’s not, John.” Sherlock pauses, then looks down, not meeting my eye. “Well…not much danger, anyway.”
“Sherlock! He’s just a kid!”
“Relax, John. One of Mycroft’s agents is with him, protecting him. He’s in the attic. He’s safe.” Sherlock turns toward the built-in wardrobe on the far wall.
“We’ll wait in the wardrobe for Moran. When he comes to the window, and is focused on his target, then we will spring the trap.” His eyes sparkle with suppressed excitement. “It’s almost over, John. Moran is nearly within our grasp.”
The biggest problem with stakeouts is the waiting. Sometimes it’s boring, other times it can be fraught with tension – either way, it always seems interminable.
Sherlock and I are sitting on a thickly folded blanket on the floor of the wardrobe, attempting to make the wait as comfortable as possible. Sherlock leans back into the corner, forearms resting on his drawn-up knees. I’m beside him, my shoulder pressed against his, with my loaded Browning on the floor beside me.
The necessary silence is not uncomfortable – it has always been easy for us to just sit quietly together, if the situation warrants it. I just wish so much that we could talk, that Sherlock could tell me about his time deconstructing Moriarty’s network. There are so many questions in my mind.
It’s also warm, our shared body heat warming the small space nicely. The physical and emotional upheaval we’ve experienced is starting to have an effect on me; I’ve become drowsy. Despite the impending danger of the upcoming confrontation, I find myself fighting the urge to close my eyes “for just a moment.”
Sherlock gently nudges my shoulder with his own.
“You can catch a quick kip, John,” he murmurs. “I’ll wake you if I hear anything. It will probably be another hour or two before traffic on Baker Street quiets down enough for Moran to make his move.”
I shouldn’t. I should stay awake, stay alert. But before I can voice my reservations, Sherlock curves a hand up to cup my head and guide it down to rest against his shoulder.
Maybe just a quick combat nap.
I shift sideways to get a better angle, nuzzle into Sherlock’s neck, savouring that tangy scent that is uniquely his, and allow my weariness to tug me down into the temporary respite of sleep.
Cool, slim fingers press against my lips, startling me from my light doze against Sherlock’s shoulder. Sherlock’s warm lips graze my ear as he murmurs, “The game is on, John.”
Instantly, all traces of sleep vanish, and adrenaline hums through my veins. We ease to our feet, careful not to jostle against the walls of the wardrobe. As stealthy footfalls announce the arrival of our quarry, I glance once more at the Browning to ensure the safety is off.
herlock left the wardrobe door slightly open, so that we can watch through the narrow crack between door and frame. Peering through the dark room, I see a powerfully-built man, head covered in a balaclava, creeping toward the window, a silver attaché case in hand. He carefully raises the sash by a handspan, then crouches on the floor beside the open window.
Swiftly, he opens the attaché, and with an ease that speaks of his familiarity with the weapon, he lifts out the lower of what looks to be a Paratus clandestine breakdown rifle, and begins to screw on the barrel with military efficiency. Within a minute, he has the rifle assembled, complete with a silencer and powerful scope. Resting the rifle’s bipod on the windowsill, he carefully sights his target.
His finger pulls the trigger, and we hear a soft pffft, followed immediately by the silvery tinkle of broken glass.
In an instant, Sherlock springs from our hiding place, and has crossed the room to hurl the would-be assassin flat on his face. I am right behind him, and as the man scrambles to his hands and knees, I press the muzzle of my Browning to the base of his skull. He freezes, not even breathing.
“Put your hands behind your head!” I bark, easing the pressure on his head slightly. He complies, with slow and careful movements, rocking back to a kneeling position, so that he can place his hands on the back of his head. I take a couple of steps back, keeping my gun trained on him. He keeps his head up, shoulders rigid.
“You couldn’t resist the chance to take me down, could you, Colonel?” Sherlock asks, rising gracefully to his feet. “Forgive me for not introducing myself. I don’t believe either of us have actually had the pleasure of a face-to-face meeting with you, Colonel; although you have certainly seen me, as well as Doctor Watson here, through the scope of a rifle. Never mind, we can introduce ourselves now.”
“John, this is Colonel Sebastian Moran, once of the Special Reconnaissance Regiment of the United Kingdom’s Special Forces, survivalist, expert sharpshooter, and a genius at rebuilding classic motorcycles.” Sherlock seizes the balaclava, and removes it with a flourish.
The face revealed could be that of a model, or a Hollywood star. High, angled cheekbones, a strong, chiseled jawline, almond-shaped eyes in a dark, proud face – he should be one of the handsomest men I’ve ever seen. But, what should be comely is spoiled by the cold, ruthless glitter of those dark eyes, and the cruel sneer that twists his full lips into an unattractive mask.
“Clever, Holmes,” he says, in a deep, smoky voice; which, again, should be attractive, but is ruined by the sarcastic bite of his tone. “Very clever indeed.”
“You’ve played the game well, Colonel,” drawls Sherlock, “but you really should have quit while you were ahead. Why did you continue to pursue me, when Moriarty was dead and gone?”
“You know perfectly well,” snaps Moran, “that you were a threat to my professional career. Besides, you cost me Moriarty, a connection more valuable than any other. I owed you one.”
Sherlock shakes his head with an exasperated sigh.
“Really, Colonel, you should know better. Posthumous loyalty? You’ll spoil your reputation for being heartless.”
Moran’s eyes narrow into glittering, deadly arcs.
“I wouldn’t worry about my heart, Mister Holmes,” he says, with an oddly triumphant expression. “You’d do far better to be concerned for your own.”
Sherlock’s eyes flash to me, and take in my position, standing between Moran and the window, gun in hand. Those silver eyes widen suddenly, and panic flares across his face.
“John! Get down!”
Fuck – the window.
As if in slow motion, I see Moran drop to the floor. I instinctively lunge forward to protect Sherlock. Before I can even take a step, a sledgehammer slams high between my shoulderblades, sending a bright arc of agony up my neck to my skull.
Everything – the cascade of falling glass around me, Moran rolling into a defensive position on his side, even Sherlock’s wide, shocked eyes – fades down to a pinpoint of light. I am vaguely aware of a desperate voice, crying my name, as I slump to the floor.
oOoOoRead Chapter 18