Stranger: Sherlock sat in the murky light of 221 B. He heaved a sigh and turned to the door. No sign of John yet.
You: John Watson expected his daily text from Sherlock, it was the only conformation he'd been getting that Sherlock was in fact, alive. He'd not gotten any new information on Moriarty's supposed return and it seemed it was going to stay that way. He felt his phone buzz in his back pocket and pulled it out, expecting the text he normally recieved from Sherlock.
You: He looked down and read the message, not what he was expecting. He sent a message back as he headed out the door,
Stranger: Sherlock heard his phone buzz on the coffee table. He lazily reached for the mobile device and slid his thumb across the screen, revealing a message from John.
You: John rushed up the steps to 221B, for one not interrupted by Mrs. Hudson. He wondered if she was in. He opened the door and saw Sherlock sitting in his chair, facing away from him.
Stranger: "Don't be such a stranger. Come in John." he said, swinging his arm widely to beckon Watson into the flat. Opening his eyes, he turned around to greet the ex army doctor. Without a word, he motioned for John to take the seat opposite him.
You: He nodded and walked over to sit in his old chair. "Alright. Now tell me. I've heard nothing, no one's telling me anything about Moriarty. I want to know what's going on."
Stranger: Sherlock squeezed his eyes shut, unable to look John in the eye. He leaned forward, his voice a whisper, "John, I have no idea either."
You: "You haven't come up with anything, then?" He asked. He could tell Sherlock was distressed, it wasn't often he couldn't figure something out.
Stranger: Standing abruptly, Sherlock began pacing the room with anxious, angry foot steps echoing through out the lonely flat. "I haven't figured out anything. John he is dead. He was dead. I was there, he blew his brains out... He's not... He can't.... " Sherlock described, fear slipping into his voice. He stopped midway across the room and turned to John, the usual spark vanished from his eyes. "John, I have no idea where to begin... None of this should be happening!"
You: It worried John seeing Sherlock this way, his eyes mad, gone was his usual calm and confidence. "Didn't they take Moriarty's body off the roof? I don't understand either, Sherlock, there's no way he's back."
Stranger: "No. There's no way. It's impossible. Mycroft's people had his body removed. Molly was on the team that prepared his body. There is no possible explanation." Sherlock slumped back into his chair, curling into the fetal position, his head resting on the arm of the chair. "He's beaten me John."
You: "No, he hasn't. You'll figure it out, you always figure it out. There's some kind of explanation here, there's got to be." He watched Sherlock curl up in his chair, looking completely defeated.
Stranger: "No. He's won. The game is over. Moriarty is the champion. It's finished John." Sherlock shut his eyes tightly, afraid that a tear of regret may slip past. His time was nearing its end. It was only Moriarty's sick fascination with the game that had kept Sherlock alive. If Moriarty had orchestrated such a brilliant ruse, there was no hope for Sherlock Holmes.
You: "That's not true, Sherlock." John leaned forward in his chair, towards Sherlock. "There's got to be something. You said you'd dismantled his whole network, maybe it's not him, maybe it's got nothing to do with him. Maybe it's someone else." Sherlock stayed silent in his chair with his eyes closed. "Sherlock. You're the most brilliant man I know, if anybody can figure this out, it's you."
Stranger: Uncurling himself from his elaborately pretzel-ed shape, Sherlock faced John. Solemn pain in his eyes. "John, I am terrified." he said, his body shaking, silent tears escaped from his eyes and dashed past his cheekbones. "John, I have no idea what I'm going to do." he cried.
You: John had never seen Sherlock so broken, he hesitated a moment before acting. He leaned further forward, placing his hand on Sherlock's shoulder. "We'll figure something out Sherlock, I swear. Everything is going to be fine." It was strange seeing Sherlock cry, he was so rarely open with his emotions, John had no idea how he kept it together the way he did all the time.
Stranger: Feeling John's hand on his shoulder, Sherlock, for once in his life, consented to the will of his emotions. All of the anger, sadness, pain, fear, and loneliness came pouring out as sobs racked his body. His tears formed small puddles on the wooden floor, the rivulets flowing toward his feet. He blinked quickly, desiring the tears to disappear, but the pearls of water flowed anyway. Meeting John's eyes, somewhat embarrassed, he spoke quickly in a hoarse voice, "John I don't know how I can protect you this time."
You: He kept his hand on Sherlock's soldier as he sobbed. Seeing Sherlock's careful mask of confidence break was honestly terrifying, if someone as strong as Sherlock Holmes couldn't handle this, he wasn't sure who could. "You don't have to protect me, Sherlock. It's not your job to protect everybody."
Stranger: "I have to protect you John. You, Mary, Mrs. Hudson... Lestrade... Even Mycroft. It's my duty. I'm the one who summoned Mycroft with my stupid showing off... Always mocking up the great Consulting Detective... I'm the reason he's here... And now, even I can't stop him."
You: People always thought Sherlock was emotionless and that he didn't care about other people, but watching him now John realized he cared more than anyone. Sherlock Holmes carried the weight of the world on his shoulders and he didn't seem to know how to let anybody help. "You don't have to protect anyone Sherlock, none of this is your fault. None of it."
Stranger: Sherlock briskly ran his sleeve across his face, drying the tears. "John, this is on me. I am the reason he scaled up his crime. And my end is the only thing that will stop him from going after all of you...." Sherlock let his gaze slip to the floor, unable to watch as John took in what he had said.
You: "You don't have to do everything alone all the time. It's not just on you to stop Moriarty, there's people who want to help." He watched Sherlock's gaze slip to the ground and he sighed.
Stranger: "You don't understand... John I actually have to leave this time. And there will be no magic return after two years. This time is goodbye," he said. Gathering his composure, he sat up straight, brushed nonexistent dirt from his shoulder and set his gaze straight on John Watson.
You: John's mouth went dry and he couldn't respond for a long moment. He hunched over in his chair, covering his face with his hands. "Sherlock. Please, please don't. I can't... I can't do this again."
Stranger: "I'm sorry John. But, I have finally concluded... my death... my official and final death will be the only thing that will stop Moriarty from harm you all." Sherlock stood and took a few steps away, distancing himself from John's emotions. He knew that it would break John's heart, and turning away was the only thing that kept his mind straight set on what he planned. "I must do this John."
You: He shook his head and looked up. "Sherlock. You can't." He suddenly stood, following Sherlock, standing right in front of him. He would not let him walk away from this. "You're not doing this. I won't let you."
Stranger: His back to John, he crossed his arms, refusing to budge. "You can't do anything to stop me John. I will do anything to protect you. And this is what I must do."
You: "You don't need to protect me Sherlock!" John shouted, rage suddenly taking over. "You think you do, but you don't, you don't have to be responsible for everyone! Think of yourself for once, this is ridiculous, even for you!"
Stranger: Turning abruptly, Sherlock glared at the shorter man. "I must do this! Moriarty is not normal. You are. Mary is. Mrs. Hudson is. You are all normal! He only got involved because my selfish abnormality drew him to us. If I am ended, he will disappear into the woodwork again. You all can be ok. And there is nothing I want more than that. Do you understand?!"
You: "I don't think you understand, Sherlock. I will not let this happen, not again." He glared up at Sherlock who stood there, defiant. "You think you need to protect us, right? But you're just thinking about Moriarty, what happens once you're gone and some other psychopath shows up? What the hell do we do then?!"
Stranger: "I don't know!" Sherlock said, throwing his arms into the air angrily. "I don't know. All I know is that the only way to protect you now is to do this. If something else happens later on, go to my brother. He's promised to look after you all."
You: "Oh don't tell me Mycroft is in on this! What exactly do you expect us all to do without you Sherlock, I've been through this once and I have no desire to go through it again. There's got to be another way, there's always another way." John's breath was ragged and he was holding back tears of his own at this point. He turned away from Sherlock, his hands clenched into fists at his sides.
Stranger: Casting his eyes downward, Sherlock spoke quietly, "John, I'm sorry there is no other way." Looking up to see the good doctor turned away, Sherlock hesitated, unsure of how to act. Throwing reasonable thought to the side, he stepped in front of Watson and pulled him into a sad embrace. "I'm sorry John."
You: John stood rigid in Sherlock's unexpected embrace for a moment before leaning into him, tears welling up in his eyes again. "You don't have do this. Please." He said quietly, mumbling hoarsely into Sherlock's shirt.
Stranger: Maintaining his composure as his companion cried, Sherlock allowed a few more tears to slip. "I'm so sorry. I want to stay, I want to be here. But, it's too late. I'm already dying. I asked you here that you would be with me as I die. As a last motion of our friendship...."
You: John pulled back from him, confused, wiping his tears away quickly. "Sherlock, what the hell are you talking about?"
Stranger: Pulling away completely, Sherlock lowered himself into his favorite chair, sighing gently as the plush seat molded to fit him perfectly. "I injected poison into my blood stream some 30 minutes ago. It has delayed effects, but once it is activated, it brings a swift death. In a few moments it should begin to take effect...."
You: "Sherlock. Oh my god." John collapsed into his chair. "What can I do? Please tell me what to do." He quickly stood up again, unable to stay still, he began pacing around the room. "You can't just do this!" He shouted, slamming his fist down on the table.
Stranger: Breathing deeply, Sherlock let out a strangled cry. "John, please, just sit here with me. What's done is done. And I am doing this for you."
You: He felt tears run down his face again and he returned to sit across from Sherlock, defeated. "You can't expect me to just let you die. I need you."
Stranger: "You don't need me John. You have Mary. And Lestrade and Hudson... Even Mycroft to some extent. You're well taken care of." Sherlock closed his eyes, preparing to face his approaching end.
You: "You're insane. You're completely, totally insane. Please don't do this, there's got to be... something, an antidote, anything. We will find out what to do about Moriarty. We can. Don't you think for one minute that this all stops when you're dead, it doesn't, Sherlock. The game is still on." John was practically begging him at this point and he knew it, but he just didn't know what he'd do without Sherlock. Again.
Stranger: "Actually, I'd have to agree with your little pet Sherlock, the game is most definitely on." the sharp voice rang out across the room. Sherlock hadn't heard his footsteps up the stair, but the voice. Unmistakably belonged to the one man he hoped his death would appease. Moriarty. "Sorry to just drop in, but a little birdie told me you were up to your tricks again. I had to make sure and put an end to that." Moriarty said with a sneer as he took a few steps into the flat. Sherlock winced as he felt his body begin to react to the poison. "Oh, silly boy, poison? And you tossed the antidote. So drama. Darling, I'm the king of drama, and this simply won't do."
You: John's heart nearly stopped the moment Moriarty stepped into the flat. Then he noticed Sherlock wince, the poisons effects finally setting in. He glanced between Sherlock and Moriarty, not knowing where to start. Half of him wanted to stand up and punch Moriarty out while other half wanted to jump to Sherlock's side. Instead he sat frozen in his chair, staring at both of them.
Stranger: "Silly John. Still following Sherlock like fool.... My god, normal people are just so adorable. Oh, I got my own. A live one this time. He's cute, but not as cute as yours Shirly..." with that Moriarty moved toward John, reaching out a hand and patting him on the head. Sherlock let out a sound between a groan and a growl. "Leave him alone Moriarty. I'm ending this now, with my death. You have no reason to bother these people anymore." Moriarty's hand dropped from John's head, he turned to Sherlock, "You think it would end like that? You're so easy! Of course it wouldn't!" Jim screamed. "I will torture them, I will break them, I will burn them!" he yelled, leaning closer and closer to Sherlock. "All because you left the game. You quit on me Sherlock. I'm so disappointed. I liked you so much." Sherlock's breathe came in heavy gasps, "Fine, I'll play. I'll play your game. Anything, just leave them alone."
You: John sat still, seething with rage as Moriarty touched his head. He'd known that even if Sherlock died, the game with Moriarty wouldn't end. He wouldn't just give up, and he also knew there was no way he could play with Sherlock. If Sherlock died, the game was lost, Moriarty would win. Seeing Sherlock struggle to even reply to Moriarty broke his heart. An antidote, they needed an antidote.
Stranger: "Alright, here's the deal, our game isn't over. It's just on pause. And right now, I'm going to play a little game with your pet," Moriarty teased as Sherlock's eyes followed his every movement. Turning swiftly, Moriarty leaned close to John, "Now John sweetie, I've got a little game for you!" he said in a sing song voice. "I've got a magic potion that will fix Shirly over there right up... How badly do you want to fix him?"
You: John stood suddenly, shoving Moriarty out of his face, his hands balled in fists at his sides, his rage overruling his fear. "I'm not playing games with you this time. Tell me how to help him, and tell me now."
Stranger: "Ooo, he's so well trained Sherlock. You must tell me your secret!" Moriarty cackled at the consulting detective. "Moriarty, stop this, I will play your game. Don't involve John in this." Sherlock said, his face turning slightly red with the effort. "Haha no. John will make the decision, if he really wants you, he'll play my game, if not I'll kill you both and I will destroy everyone you both have ever cared for!" he screamed manically. "Now, John, will you play with me?" the villain asked, blinking his eyes sadly at Watson.
You: John took a deep breath, closing his eyes. After a few seconds of silence, he opened his eyes and looked at Sherlock who seemed to be struggling even more. He turned back to face Moriarty. "Yes."
Stranger: "Goody, I love playing with normal people, even if the game does end badly." Moriarty giggled to himself. "John no! Do not play against him. Nothing will be accomplished here!" Sherlock said, trying to stand up, but with his weakened body, he merely collapsed back into the chair, his eyes rolling back into his head as he passed out. "Oh, finally, now that he's out, we can have a nice little moment." Jim smiled menacingly. "Now, Johnny boy, what are you willing to give up to save Sherlock?"
You: John watched as Sherlock fell into his chair, finally slipping into unconsciousness. He fought the urge to rush over to him, knowing the only chance he had of saving him was to play whatever ridiculous game Moriarty had planned for him. And for the amount of times Sherlock had sacrificed himself to save John and so many others, he owed him at least this. "Anything."
Stranger: "Oh, bad answer. Would you give up Mrs. Hudson?"
You: "That's not fair." He should have known of course, the kind of games Moriarty likes to play usually involve the lives (and deaths) of others.
Stranger: "Oh, you're the one who agreed, and you did say you'd give up anything!" Moriarty whined. "Now, would you give up Hudson? Or Lestrade perhaps?" Moriarty grinned like a madman, eyeing John like a fresh piece of meat.
You: "I..." John knew there wasn't a right way to answer him, and there was no way this could end well. "What exactly would you like me to say? You'll do whatever you want anyway and we both know it. We don't have times for your game right now."
Stranger: "You know, sometimes you little pets are so enlightening. I see why Sherlock keeps you around. But, you still don't see the one way that this could all be the perfect ending. The fairy tale ending you want for the story. Silly dull man..." Moriarty laughed.
You: John cringed internally every time Moriarty called him Sherlock's pet, he had to fight off the urge to knock him out. For once, Moriarty was most useful if he was conscious. "Enlighten me then. Tell me what I'm supposed to do." He growled.
Stranger: Moriarty giggled while walking circles around John. "Okay~ I'll tell you. Make it a little fair for your simple mind." He poked John in the back, "See right about there, you've got a gun tucked in your jacket. But, you haven't made a grab for it because you know that I probably have a dozen snipers waiting to explode your silly head. So, here's the wild card." Moriarty stepped away and pranced over to Sherlock, who was becoming more and more pale as the moments ticked by. Moriarty leaned on the arm of the chair and ran his fingers through Sherlock's curls. "I am the antidote. I know the exact poison Sherlock used, and the antidote is freshly running through my veins."
You: John hadn't taken out his gun for that exact reason, he knew Moriarty would have men positioned all around them and they'd shoot if he even reached for it. "So if I shoot you, I die, and if I don't, he'll die. You're asking me to choose between my own life and his." He began to pace around the room. He stopped just in front of Sherlock's chair, his friend so pale he almost looked dead already. He knew what Sherlock would want him to choose, but it wasn't that easy. Sherlock was so important, how could he just let him die? It wasn't a fair choice, but of course nothing was ever fair when Moriarty was involved. He took a shaky breath.
Stranger: "You're finally catching on... Good boy." Moriarty chuckled as he poked at Sherlock's face. "Now, the fun part is, do I really have snipers waiting?"
You: "Don't touch him." He snarled. It was highly likely Moriarty did have snipers positioned all around them, but then again... maybe he didn't. John couldn't decide, his head was too crowded, he couldn't think straight. But he knew he had to make a decision quickly, or Sherlock would die anyway. His hand flexed, itching to reach for his gun but he couldn't quite bring himself to do it just yet.
Stranger: Moriarty grinned, showing his teeth like the Cheshire cat. He took Sherlock's hand, and felt for his pulse. "Oh oh, you'd better hurry, tick tock you know." Moriarty scolded. "Oh, but one more thing, this antidote, since my blood is still flowing, my heart is still beating, it has remained inert. But~," he sang, "If my blood flow stops, the antidote might become useless." Moriarty jumped up and skipped to stand face to face with Watson, "What'll it be... Doctor?"
You: "I think that's a chance I'm willing to take." He'd made his decision. John's hands shook as he reached for his gun, pulling it out of his pocket and aiming it right at Moriarty's head.
Stranger: "Hm, I wasn't expecting that. Or was I?" Moriarty cooed. Glancing back at Sherlock, a moment of regret flickered across his face. "Well, go on then silly man. It's clear that what you're willing to risk. Go on. I. DARE. YOU!"
You: John held the gun, but stopped just before pulling the trigger and lowered the gun slightly, keeping his finger on the trigger. "How do you expect me to believe you? How do I know you're not lying about the antidote? This isn't right, this is too easy."
Stranger: Moriarty took a step back, turning away from John. Lazily he folded his arms, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet he sighed. "That's the problem with normal people, they think so little that they think too much. It's a simple choice. He'd have made his choice in an instant," Moriarty said, motioning towards Sherlock. "That's why I can't stand you little pets... All I have in the whole wide world is sweet little Shirly." As Moriarty cooed about Sherlock, the detective moaned, twitching a bit as his body continued to be assaulted by the poison.
You: "You're right, he would've. But I am not Sherlock Holmes. And I am not a pet. And I am done playing your games." John said, raising his gun again. Even if Moriarty was lying, at least he'd really be dead this time.
Stranger: Moriarty gazed at the gun pointed at his face. "Thank you John Watson, this has been so much fun."
You: There was no hesitation this time as John pulled the trigger, the shot fired hitting Moriarty directly in the head. He fell to the floor, dead. Finally. At least he hoped finally. No shots came, he hadn't had any snipers positioned. The silence in the room after Moriarty's body thumped to the floor was entirely too loud.
Stranger: Sherlock moaned again, the sound of gunfire had roused him from his unconsciousness long enough to see as John fired a fatal bullet. "John," he groaned.
You: "Sherlock." He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Sherlock was conscious, though barely. He threw down the gun and hurried to his side, kneeling down next to the chair he was slumped in. "What do I do, how I get the antidote?" John was flustered and not thinking coherently.
Stranger: Trying to breathe evenly, Sherlock whipped his head toward the kitchen. "In there, all the supplies you'll need for administering it." He groaned. "Stupid, you're a doctor, pull it together. I don't want to die."
You: He let out a breathy laugh. "Of course you don't." He quickly went to the kitchen and got the supplies he'd need to get the antidote for Sherlock. He returned to the living room and set up what he'd need, carefully administering the antidote.
Stranger: As the remedy filled his veins, Sherlock's head began to clear. He soon realized that he had heard the entire exchange between Moriarty and his companion Watson. "You... You were ready to die for me." He said sadly.
You: "You would've done it for me." He said, sitting back down in his own chair as Sherlock regained consciousness. He hadn't realized Sherlock had heard the entire exchange
Stranger: "Yeah, that's sort of what I was trying to do with the whole poison thing." he said with a pained grin. "Damn you though John..."
You: "Yeah, the poison thing, which was by the way one of the stupidest plans you've ever had, what the hell were you thinking? Did you honestly think I'd sit there and let you die?"
Stranger: "Well I was hoping you would! That way Moriarty would get bored and leave...." Sherlock argued. "... but... Thank you, John. Thank you for saving me again."
You: He looked up at Sherlock, "Well, the amount of times you've saved my life I figured it was my turn." He said with a small smile. "Speaking of Moriarty, we can't really leave his body on the floor forever."
Stranger: "I suppose not. That blood stain will drive Mrs. Hudson up the wall..." he said with a wicked grin. Staring down at the body of his greatest enemy, a final thought crossed his mind. "Good game Moriarty, but you've always underestimated the power of a pawn."