Date Written: 5/10/11
Word Count: 2,058
Fandom: BBC's Sherlock/Doctor Who
Disclaimer: Not mine, property of their respective owners
Characters/Pairings: John Watson/Donna Noble (yes. you read that right), Sherlock Holmes, Jim Moriarty
Spoilers: Up through The Great Game (Sherlock) and up through The Unicorn and the Wasp (Doctor Who)
Author's Notes: I blame midassa_in_gold for this, completely, utterly, and entirely. All of this. Thanks, as always, to my betas: totally4ryo, k8stamps, and gingerlr.
This chapter is dedicated to everyone who's been doing their best this past week to make me feel better -- especially my beautiful betas, teachwriteslash who is a queen among women, and midassa_in_gold, for being a rock when I needed something solid.
"Nice of him to allow for traffic," Sherlock says as their cab pulls back into traffic. John's been checking his watch every thirty seconds or so, bouncing one leg nervously and occasionally muttering abusive language at the cabbie, at London traffic, and at their situation in general, a marked difference between their normally-silent rides to crime scenes. He'd finally just told the driver to stop about a block before the bridge, shoved what he hoped was the right amount of cash at him and clambered out onto the street.
The overwhelming smell of exhaust is lessened by the breeze coming off the Thames when their feet hit the pedestrian walk. The walk isn't quite as busy as it is during daylight hours, mostly couples and tourists taking in the view of the river at night, wandering by at a leisurely pace. Sherlock and John blow past them, mostly looking out for Donna's unmistakable hair.
A group of ten young women, all dressed up to go clubbing, teeter by on five and six-inch heels. The two men part to go around them; once they've passed, Sherlock reaches over and catches John's arm, pointing ahead of them.
Donna is standing by the railing, her hair tucked up underneath a wide-brimmed hat. She is still wearing what they'd gone out tonight in, slacks and an emerald green blouse, and heeled shoes that John doubts she can properly run in. What was the point of looking good if you can't get out of trouble when you needed to?
Next to her is Moriarty, the bastard, in a three-piece suit. If you didn't know -- and missed the occasional flicker of a laser sight dancing across Donna's shoulder -- you'd think they were just another couple.
"Water," Sherlock calls out as they cautiously approach the pair. "A hostage. Snipers. This is all suspiciously familiar."
"That's quite close enough, thank you. I skipped the explosives this time, Sherlock," the man informs them. He shrugs. "And besides, it's not you that I'm targeting, I don't have to be quite so... creative," he adds, insult piling upon injury.
"Thanks," John snaps, venom dripping from the word. Then, in a much more soothing, calmer tone, "Donna?"
The redhead hesitates, looks over at Moriarty. John hates this, seeing his Donna cowed and asking for permission instead of barging in and taking charge.
Moriarty sighs in what is obviously annoyance and reaches up to Donna's face. When he pulls his hand back, he's holding something in his hand -- duct tape, silver matte catching the lamplight.
"Oh, go on," he commands, turning her about to face Sherlock and John.
Her face around her mouth is red from where the tape was stuck on, then ripped off. She reaches up to touch her mouth with both hands. A pair of handcuffs jingle as she rubs at the inflamed flesh, and John notices a bruise forming high up on her left cheekbone.
"Stop growling," Sherlock chastises lowly, and the ex-soldier realizes that yes, that sound has actually been him growling deep in his throat. "Donna, are you okay?" the consulting detective asks louder, letting his voice carry over to the other pair.
"I'm fine," she reassures them. Her tone that suggests she's really not all that fine at all.
John doesn't trust himself to speak, can't speak around the lump in his throat. He gestures towards his own cheek instead in silent question.
A ghost of a smile graces Donna's face. "You should see the other guy," she quips and John knows that she really is okay, at least marginally.
"Yes, Ms. Noble put up quite the fight," Moriarty says, condescending praise highlighting the missing useless before fight.
"What do you want, Moriarty?" John's hand is on the hilt of the gun tucked in the waistband of his pants. Stupid way to carry it, but he hadn't had time for the more conspicuous holster. "Besides the usual I was bored and decided to cause massive chaos and mayhem for kicks, of course."
"Well done, Doctor Watson!" Moriarty says with a grin. He claps mockingly. "He's nowhere near our level, but he's becoming a pretty good detective."
"I had a good teacher."
He doesn't look over, so he feels more than sees Sherlock's raised eyebrow and smug grin. Moriarty's skeptic look, however, he sees full-on. "Quite. Well. John. You see, you're part of The Game now. Sherlock's had a round; it's only fair you get one too."
"Let me guess," John says flatly. "I have to choose between Sherlock or Donna."
"More or less," Moriarty agrees.
That earns a shrug. "Simple mind, simple game." He moves to stand next to Donna, careful to keep her in his line of sight. He's learned something from the last game, it seems. "So, this round! First, we have the great Sherlock Homes. Your flatmate, your teacher -- " he pauses to roll his eyes dramatically, " -- and your friend. The person you've admitted makes your life worth living. Someone you trust, and who actually trusts you, shock of shocks." He leans in to Donna and stage whispers, "Are you sure it's just friendship?"
Donna looks like she could bite his ear off. "Piss off."
Moriarty ignores her. "And then we have Miss Donna Noble!" he cries with a flourish, like she is the prize behind Curtain Number Two. "Your secretary -- "
"The term is personal assistant," Donna corrects.
"Your. Secretary," he reiterates. "Your tagalong, your lover. Someone you trust, but not like you trust Sherlock. You trust Donna with your quiet moments, with your secrets." He looks over at Sherlock and takes on a lecturing tone. "From what I understand, for normal people, telling a secret is more personal than having someone just figure it out and hoping they'll keep it."
Sherlock shrugs. "Dull."
"Quite," the madman agrees. "Now, Sherlock, come here." Moriarty sounds like a father about to scold a naughty child. He even crooks a finger, beckoning him.
The consulting detective spares a glance at John before stiffly doing as ordered. John can't see the laser sight on himself but he can feel it, the spot of red dancing up and down his back, alighting on the back of his head.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, university-level physics classes and experience tells him that the snipers have to be in the upper walkways. Lovely. More innocents in the line of fire.
Moriarty lines Donna and Sherlock up side by side, shoulder to shoulder; then the coward stand behind the two. "Now. Which will you pick? The heart?" He gestures at Donna, "Or the soul?" He smirks as his hand moves in Sherlock's direction.
It's the ultimate impossible decision. Moriarty may have well make John decide between only eating or only drinking. He'd survive for a while, but lack of both would eventually kill him.
"Oi," Donna complains.
"I didn't give you permission to speak."
"Yeah, well, if you'd wanted to kill me, you'd have done it by now," the redhead points out. "But since you want John to make the choice, I've got a couple of minutes yet."
Sherlock raises an eyebrow at the assessment, but refrains from speaking.
"Better training with the next one, I think," the consulting criminal says conversationally. "Maybe you should spend them telling John the important things he needs to know to make his decision," he prompts. Again, Donna hesitates, purses her lips and looks to the side, out over the Thames. Moriarty sighs. "Oh, go on, Ginger. Or I will."
Donna takes a deep breath. "John Watson, I love you."
Moriarty, John thinks, may have something on this whole secrets told out loud theory. He knew on one level that she loved him, but hearing it out loud changed just so much.
"And I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry that you had to find out like this." The words are spilling out of her now, like how they do out of Sherlock and the Doctor when they're on a roll. He's surrounded by mouths. "Because I love you, I do, more than I ever loved anyone else, and I don't care that I'm older, or that you're an alien. It doesn't matter."
Behind her back, Moriarty gives her a confused look that would be comical if the situation wasn't so dire.
"... Donna, love, you're the alien," John hears himself say. Of all the things to latch on to, that's the one that he picks.
Sherlock reacts with his entire body, and he refrains from stomping his foot. Just barely. "I always miss something!" he moans. "It's her, not him!"
"It's both," John and Donna correct at the same time.
The curly-haired detective does stomp his foot at that.
"But that's why you have to pick him," Donna insists. Sherlock raises his eyebrows, and she huffs and rolls her eyes. "To live, you idiot," she snaps at the consulting detective, but doesn't take her eyes off of John. "I can't ask you to pick me just because I love you."
"Oh please," Sherlock huffs. "Just hurry up and pick her."
John raises his eyebrows. "You assume I'd pick Donna?"
"Please. I know you will. Societal trappings demand that the woman be spared. And I don't want to be around to see you mope."
Donna glares at Sherlock. "Just when I thought your sociopath self-diagnosis might be off the mark."
"I am never solely altruistic."
"You're such a liar."
"Moriarty," John calls out while the two snipe at each other. "What if I don't pick either of them?" He tightens his grip around his gun and glares at Moriarty's face, just visible between Sherlock and Donna's shoulders. From this range he can make the head shot. Easy. And sleep well tonight. "What if I take what's behind Curtain Number Three?"
He knows what John's thinking and shrugs in response. "Then it's game over," he says, disinterested. "For everyone. Can't play chess without one of the kings."
"Pick him," Donna insists at the very same time Sherlock demands, "Pick her."
This is impossible. There's got to be a way to save them both. His mind is working double-time trying to figure it out, but he just can't see it --
And then it's there, clear as crystal. There weren't two people here that he could pick from, or even three.
There were four.
"Don't you dare, John Watson!" Donna cries when he pulls the gun out of his pocket and raises it to his own head. Sherlock starts forward, but is forced to stop when Moriarty grabs his elbow.
"He's made his move," the shorter man chastises. "We have to let him play the game."
"Sounds like you lot could use a new referee."
Donna, Sherlock, and Moriarty whirl around to face the Doctor, who's snuck up on all of them while they've played this round. "About bloody time!" Donna thunders. "Where the hell have you been?"
"Had to pop over to Cardiff," the Time Lord replies with a shrug. "Needed to get Jack to teach me how to use... This thing." He waves the pistol in his right hand about. John thinks of chlorine and Sherlock scratching the back of his head with a loaded gun. "You'd enjoy the Captain's method of firearms training, Donna. Very hands on." He looks past the three to grin at John. "You wouldn't want her to learn from him, though. Teach her yourself, if you must."
"I'll keep that in mind."
"Oh, put that away," the Doctor scolds. John lowers his gun as the Doctor raises him and aims for Moriarty. "Now. New rules, I think. And your people, Mr. Moriarty? Are in my people's capable hands. You're all on your lonesome."
In the split second before the Doctor pulls the trigger, the ex-soldier is hard-pressed to say who looks more surprised: Sherlock, Moriarty... Or Donna.
The little criminal mastermind moves faster than they all expect, ducking down and to the side, hands over his head in protection. The bullet, without a body to stop it, continues on its trajectory and slams into John's chest. It's Afghanistan all over again; the pain, the dizzying sensation of blood loss, vertigo -- Over Donna and Sherlock's voices -- muffled, indistinct as he loses consciousness -- he clearly hears the Doctor's voice say, "Blimey. Need more practice, then."