bluetears07: (Roman-Stat)
[personal profile] bluetears07
Title: Path of Most Resistance
Fandom: Sherlock (BBC)
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Summary: The Adjustment Bureau AU: John is meant to be with Sarah. It is Sherlock's job to ensure it, but John is full of surprises.
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Fanfiction.
AN: Filled my own prompt at [livejournal.com profile] sherlockbbc_fic. My first attempt at writing Sherlock fic. Hope you enjoy the adventure!


Path of Most Resistance
Part Two




By the time Sherlock reaches John’s clinic it’s Monday morning and the heavy rain promised for the weekend has finally reached London proper. Just this once, something beyond his control seems to actually be cooperating with his endgame.

Sherlock smiles to himself as he slips past the waiting room; it will be much harder for Moriarty to find them with torrents of water falling all around the city, distorting data and skewing the Bureau’s trackers. While Sherlock is sure Mycroft will know the instant he crosses the threshold of John’s office, the weather may give them the perfect head start. At least granting them enough time to find someplace where they can devise a more coherent, long-term plan—one that goes beyond Sherlock’s initial thought to simply protect John’s person from immediate contact with Moriarty.

When Sherlock spots the doctor’s office he pauses, standing silently in the open doorway, watching—old habits, and all that. John sits at his desk, lightly humming to himself as he fills out paperwork between patients. There is something delicate about the carefree tilt of his head that Sherlock has never seen during his time as John’s caseworker. It’s a different kind of happiness, thick and tangible and unlike anything Sherlock has felt radiating off of a human being. Usually when things go according to plan there is a sense of joy or ‘love’ that expands outward from the individual but that sensation pales in comparison.

It’s almost as if Sherlock can actually feel John’s happiness, all the way down to the marrow of his bones. Almost as if the sensation is his own.

A lighting strike lights up the office for a split second and John glances out the window at the downpour. John spots Sherlock’s reflection in the glass.

“Sherlock.” He snaps back when John jumps out of his chair, rising to greet him. The ridiculously unnecessary cane remains propped against the side of the desk, forgotten for now. A smile grows on John’s face, and it’s so very warm and inviting in a way Sherlock cannot quantify but would like to explore further, when time permits. “What are you doing here?” There is an undercurrent of exhilaration threading through his voice, anticipating excitement and adventure with every heartbeat. He is practically vibrating with it, a faint flush spreading up to the tips of his ears as he shuffles around his small desk. Leaning in close enough that Sherlock can smell John’s soap, he murmurs something along the lines of, “We’re not getting dinner until seven,” while pointing distractedly at his watch. Sherlock sees that the man’s eyes are stuck staring his mouth.

“John.” He wraps his fingers around the bones of John’s wrist, demanding his full attention. “We need to leave. Now.”

“What?” John does not pull away, though his brow furrows in confusion.

“No questions.” Sherlock ushers John out of his office, down the hallway and out of the clinic. A few patients stare as their doctor is whisked away by strange man in a dark coat and fedora.

John’s cane is completely forgotten, as is his limp.

Sherlock starts springing up the stairs and is thankful when John silently hustles to keep up with the long strides, not a single question holding them back. He trusts Sherlock. They come to an abrupt stop on the fourth floor, skidding to a halt in front of a janitorial cupboard. A door at the opposite end of the corridor bangs open and a sharp, three-piece suit steps out.

He’s taken too long.

“Moriarty,” Sherlock breaths, eyes wide as he pulls open the cupboard door to reveal the Mile End tube station.

“Johnny boy!” Moriarty calls out, arms flung wide as if waiting for an embrace. John loses his balance, falling through the doorway onto the tube platform as he trips over a sudden wrinkle in the carpeted hallway. Four other men come barging out of the far off doorway, each defensively flanking Moriarty. Sherlock quickly follows John, slamming the door behind him before he swoops down to help the man up.





Together, Sherlock and John zigzag across half of London.

Moriarty and his men mirror their every move, only a door or two behind them at all times. Sherlock’s grip is tight, and he refuses to let go of John’s hand as they navigate the intricate system of doorways and masses of Londoners and tourists alike. Thankfully, but not surprisingly, it appears that John has made a full recovery from both his psychosomatic limp and the very real tumble he took courtesy of his new caseworker’s more ‘aggressive’ tactics. As they dash down yet another strange alleyway in Camden, Sherlock can feel the anxiety and confusion pulsing through John, though he remains quiet. But underneath it all is the familiar warmth, extending out from each point of contact between them. It curls up Sherlock’s arm, coiling unbidden in his empty chest.

After a series of doors that lead them above and below the streets of Soho, they manage to outmanoeuvre Moriarty and his men when they reach the bustling centre of Trafalgar Square. It’s easy for the pair to slip into the crowd of black umbrellas and locate a cluster of doors that will help further scramble the trace on John.

Now is the safest time to make a break for the London Eye. Sherlock knows he needs a refuge, and the thirty-minute trip around the wheel will be just enough time to clear his head and come up with a real stratagem.

Luckily, the rain and misty Thames have driven away many of the tourists and they make it just in time to be sent up in a capsule with only a handful of other people.





“Sherlock,” John wheezes, collapsing on the massive bench in the centre of the capsule. Once again his clothing, this time a cardigan and button down, are soaked through and clinging to his chest. Slumping forward, he presses his elbows to his knees before running his hands through drenched hair. The strands stick up at odd angles as he attempts to wring the water from them. A small puddle is beginning to form on the floor around John. “Who is that man?” He asks, still getting is breath back while he flings an arm out in the vague direction of where they have just eluded capture.

“Moriarty.” Sherlock remains standing, walking over to look down at the base of the Eye. From the end of the short queue, Moriarty stares back with gleaming black eyes and a wicked grin splitting his face. “Your new caseworker.”

“What? But, you—?”

“You’ve been reassigned.” He briefly glances back at John to check his reaction before watching as two of the men with Moriarty disappear into a nearby café. Quickly, his eyes snap back to Moriarty’s face but it remains carefully composed and completely unreadable. There is nothing there but dead eyes and a cold smile that will never yield any concrete conclusions or even the inklings of them.

“Because of this thing with Sarah?” John snaps back as he starts pulling distractedly at the fabric of his shirt, peeling it off his chilled skin. Sherlock sighs, moving away from the massive window to stand before John. At this juncture, it may just be a bit more important to be fully engaged in this particular conversation.

“The relationship is integral to Mycroft’s Plan.” As soon as the belittling tone slips from his mouth Sherlock realises it is a mistake.

“The ‘Plan’ is wrong then, isn’t it,” John stands, misdirecting his aggression and physically challenging Sherlock despite the few curious people who turn their way when they see the sudden movement. A finger prods Sherlock in the chest, emphatically punctuating his words with little jabs against his sternum as his voice drops to a harsh whisper. “Cause I don’t bloody well fancy her, I fan—” John cuts himself off before he says something he may regret. Sherlock is sure the sensation of overheating is entirely due to the sprinting. Though he knows that his body has never responded so dramatically to such a human thing as ‘physical exertion’ in the past.

Curious.

Still, he refuses to give into the urge to remove his sweltering scarf and waterlogged coat, attempting to acclimate to the new sensation of white-hot heat prickling along his neck and spine. But the heat suddenly spikes when Sherlock’s mind fills in the logical blanks in John’s aborted sentence.

“Oh.”

Sherlock’s expression of realisation might have been comical in a different setting but instead it has the power to send John crumpling back onto the wet bench. He misses the bright flush tinting John’s cheeks, though more waves of warmth crash against his skin and he has to turn away. Mind spinning, eyes unfocused as they flit over the London skyline, everything starts falling into place.

John found him attractive, that much he knew. Why else would the man have come up to him at the pub instead of following the Plan and chatting up Sarah? Other than his irrational need to engage in banal conversation with dodgy looking men in shadowy pub booths. Sherlock concludes that it was a combination of both factors. But the probability that any real kind of an emotion would be attached to his initial response to visual stimuli was less than 2%. As for the dinner proposal from John, Sherlock had simply assumed it was a by-product of the man’s curiosity and thirst for more exciting liaisons with his ‘guardian angel.’

But it was supposed to be a date.

John wanted to date Sherlock.

Not Sarah, not anyone else.

Sherlock was the reason John’s path had been completely derailed—starting all the way back in the university library. John had remembered him that night in the pub, whether it was subconsciously or not could be up for debate, but something drew him to Sherlock. The odd man who dropped his book on bees, who cushioned his fall on the tube, who silently followed him to war, watched him from afar and knew how he took his tea and exactly when he woke up in a cold sweat with dreams of Afghanistan twisting his mind.

“Of course.”

And Mycroft would never have factored Sherlock into the Plan.

Caseworkers were never taken into consideration. They were meant for the shadows and smoke, the silent observers who insured that everything stayed on Plan. Each one was instructed to pull the invisible strings according to Mycroft’s dictations. Even when they were employed for course correction it was subtle, easily forgotten manipulations. And people never noticed, never even thought to look beyond the familiar.

It was human nature to stick to the Plan, to form patterns, habits, and daily routines. To normalise everything.

But once again, according to the Plan, according to Mycroft, John is ‘flawed.’ He is an anachronism—a man from the Dark Ages of free will.

“But why?” Sherlock rounds on John.

“What do you mean, why?” John stares back, baffled, unable to make the mental leaps to keep up with Sherlock’s private deductions. He glances anxiously around the capsule, noting the strange stares they receive from a couple who quickly look away when John meets their eyes.

“Why are you like this? Why do you resist? Why do you, out of the entire human race, exhibit free will?” Sherlock demands, crouching down to look John in the eye, searching his face for an answer. All he finds is confusion and embarrassment and something that cannot be named though he has seen it before, but only from a distance. “Why would you ever develop ‘feelings’ for me?” And suddenly he is reaching out to graze his fingertips along the ridge of John’s knuckles. Sherlock has never felt an automatic response take over his body; he concludes that it is vaguely unsettling and a bit bothersome. The man’s fingers, gripping the damp material of his slacks so that they turn white with the pressure, momentarily relax under the contact before pulling away.

"Sherlock, I don’t—” John heaves a sigh, burying his face in his hands. Sherlock itches to pry the hands away. Instead, he stands and takes a step back to reassess the man before him. John looks up when he hears the movement. Sherlock only sees an analytical eye staring back at him. He dares to think that John is actually attempting to answer his question in a succinct and logical manner by evaluating the evidence before him and the messy emotion swirling inside. After a long pause, he seems to find a satisfactory answer. “You’re different.”

“That’s because I’m not human, John.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“That’s completely irrational.” John simply stares back and Sherlock wonders how it is possible that such a look of clear annoyance can still be laced with, now obvious, affection. Sherlock narrows his eyes. “Fascinating.” John fidgets under Sherlock’s intense gaze.

“So are you going to tell me why we are running from this ‘Moriarty’, or am I meant to guess?” John asks, agitated and most likely hoping to redirect Sherlock’s attention to the more pressing issue rather than dissecting him with his bright eyes.

They’ve reached the top of the Eye’s rotation, only fifteen more minutes left. The ploy works and Sherlock comes back to the reality of their current situation, compartmentalizing the overflowing warmth that pours out from John in a steady stream. There seems to be no stopping it now, so Sherlock decides the best course of action is to once again ignore it until John is safe.

“Moriarty will do anything in order to adhere to the Plan.” Sherlock explains as he settles on the bench. “He will hurt you, John.” He holds John’s gaze for a moment, remembering the man's fall earlier. It barely counted, just a mere tease on Moriarty’s behalf, but one that implied much worse was to follow if John did not comply. “Or, he will reset you. Erase who you are, who you have become and sculpt a nice, compliant John Watson out of your newly marshmallowed brain.” Sherlock rises again, moving to check Moriarty’s position. “I will not allow him to do either,” he says quietly to himself.

Moriarty has not moved, though his men have returned.

“So you have a plan, yeah?” John follows him, leaning against the topmost metal railing running around the interior of the capsule.

Sherlock is beginning to come to terms with the fact that the impossible is the only thing that can spare John. Hopefully, Mycroft has calmed down since their last chat, though Sherlock is sure his act of disobedience did little to quell his brother’s anger.

“We’re going to have to try and reason with Mycroft.”

Of course he has heard of alternations in the Plan centuries ago, but it was mostly murmurings—many surrounding Moriarty’s misconducts and the rather untimely beheading of a queen. Regardless of the validity of such claims, Sherlock knows his brother’s potential as well as his weaknesses—he has just never needed to play upon them before.

“Bringing you along might soften his resolve." His eyes rake over John's features, his easy smile, soft eyes and bedraggled clothes. Surely, Sherlock thinks, Mycroft could not refuse John Watson. After all, despite finding it difficult to admit, Sherlock himself was struggling to do so on a minute-by-minute basis. "He loves humans, obviously.”

Though it has been a long time since Mycroft interacted with men, the last time being a brief conversation with a Macedonian prince who’s father had recently been assassinated—something about admiring the Sacred Band of Thebes. And Sherlock can still remember the way Mycroft’s eyes lit up when he saw the grandeur of that same boy in his rather public declaration of love, extending his own title and name to his dearest friend. It was the stuff of epic poetry and it was beyond enchanting. Mycroft would have gone to the ends of the world to please that human. But he had been so young then; back when free will still reigned.

“And theatrics. He revels in dramatic posturing.” The grand gesture, bringing John Watson to look Mycroft straight in the eye and plead his case—it has the potential to drag out a change in heart. And Sherlock knew his brother's desire for a human heart, demonstrating compassion, when it served his purpose, allowed him to indulge in the lurid fantasy.

The only challenge would be to convince Mycroft that it was indeed in his best interest to allow John to carve his own path.

“Oh, good. Sounds simple enough.” John rolls his eyes, turning away from Sherlock to pace anxiously behind him. “One problem, Sherlock,” he says, prodding him in the shoulder blade, standing on his opposite side now. His hand slips to the small of Sherlock’s back as he points to the circle of suits plotting their demise. “As you’ve probably noticed there are just a few—”

“Yes, John. Shhhh!” Sherlock snaps his hand closed in John’s direction as he stares intently down at the group of men crowding the base of the Eye.

There are too few to be conspicuous but just enough to pose a challenge for Sherlock and John to handle alone. He counts five in total, including Moriarty. But two are quite large and surly looking; they will be solid but slow. The closest operational door is a good 200 meters away. They will need to slip through the men and make a dash for the door. Perhaps Sherlock can incapacity one or two of the caseworkers, that is if he is quick enough, as a tactical diversion. Then hopefully his intimate and superior knowledge of the Bureau’s layout will give them the advantage. Once they reach Mycroft, Moriarty and his men have no jurisdiction.

“Sherlock?”

They are still two minutes from arriving back at the platform.

“We need to run.” Sherlock reaches for John’s hand, his long fingers curling around the man’s palm.

“Brilliant.”



The rain pelts them in the face as they start weaving though the front of the small crowd at the base of the Eye. People continue shuffling about around them completely unaware, huddled under umbrellas and rain slickers. It’s a near torrential downpour and, when soaked to the bone, even a caseworker as old and skilled as Moriarty has no real strength beyond the physical limits of his body. No tricks, no moving carpets or lightning fast reflexives, he might as well be human.

Luckily, Sherlock thinks morosely, Moriarty has the two brutes and two sprinters as back up.

The group of caseworkers have spread out to encircle the perimeter of the throng, spaced just far enough apart to prevent either Sherlock or John from slipping through without some kind of confrontation. They will have to incapacitate at least one of the caseworkers.

Sherlock pulls John to the right, in the direction of the closest door he spotted earlier. It lies just beyond one of the slow, hulking caseworkers. He calculates a swift blow to the trachea will momentarily cut off air supply and stun the assailant just long enough to make a break away. The man is watching them intently but remains immobile, waiting for them to leave the relative safety of the mass of tourist. Sherlock starts to step in his direction, shouldering past a young couple and tugging John behind him.

Of course, John seems to have a completely different, and inexorably more dangerous idea. Forever the brave soldier, Dr. Watson, wanting to face his biggest challenger directly.

Instead of veering right, John strains against Sherlock’s grip, continuing to press straight toward Moriarty. With a wicked grin, Moriarty immediately realises their sudden shift in trajectory. He starts shoving his way into the crowd, regardless of the millions of unintended consequences the disruption will have on each life he touches. It will be hard for Mycroft to overlook such an infraction, though he most likely will claim it was for the ‘greater good.’

“John.” Sherlock tries to wrench the man back on the safer course but his mind is resolutely made up. They stop; allowing Moriarty to push in and Sherlock suddenly understands the tactic. Drawing him in, amongst the crowd and beneath the spotty canopy of umbrellas will cause the others to lose sight of their leader, confusion, uncertainty and thus poor judgement. He can feel John tense, it rattles through his entire being.

“My dear Doctor.” Moriarty sneers, pushing a man out of his path and closing the distance.

John jolts forward, much faster than Sherlock has ever seen him move before. And clearly much faster than Moriarty ever expected.

So when John lands a solid punch square on the bridge of Moriarty’s nose, Sherlock is shocked. Almost as shocked as Moriarty, though nowhere near as absurd. Bone and cartilage crunch beneath the man’s fist, loud and sickening—broken. Definitely broken. Blood begins pouring down Moriarty’s front, his sharp suit ruined.

Sherlock stands stock still as he watches Moriarty falter, clutching his broken nose and groaning in pain. It’s not until John grabs his wrist and starts running that Sherlock actually realises the gravity of what has transpired. The crowd parts easily for John, scurrying away from the violent ‘attacker’ and effectively blocking the other caseworkers in their pandemonium. They try and shove through but they are too late, instead they rush to help Moriarty.

“John!” Sherlock hears something like pride in his own voice.

“Which way?” John yells over his shoulder, voice muffled by the rain.

“Any door will do.”

John pulls them in the direction of the closest door. When they reach it, Sherlock throws himself against it, twisting the knob counter clockwise and stumbling inside. John is close behind, flinging the door shut.

“Here,” Sherlock calls, rushing to the side of one of the massive hat cubbies that lines the walls of the Bureau’s foyer. Slamming their combined body weight against the shelves, they send it tumbling over in front of the door, just as the knob starts to jingle. Hats spill everywhere on the marble floor.

Moriarty will have to find another way in.

“That.” Sherlock swallows thickly, smoothing back his wet hair. “That was good, John.” A weak smile flits across his lips only seconds before flattening into a thin line, brows furrowed. He steps right up to John, prodding him in the chest. “But never do anything like that again.” Sherlock regains control, clasping John’s hand in his own. He can feel blood smear against his palm and he is not sure if it belongs to Moriarty or if the skin of John’s knuckles split open on impact. For a brief moment, Sherlock’s step falters at the thought of John being injured. He quickly dispels the notions and presses on, leading them through the building.

There are at least six-seven floors between their current location, the main foyer of the Bureau, and Mycroft’s office at the top of the building. But, much like the Bureau’s version of London, the building itself is a maze of hallways and staircases all interconnected by particular doors. The trick is remembering which one will take you exactly where you need to be. And, due to Mycroft’s position as Chairman, there are only three doors in the entire Bureau that lead to the top floor. Beyond that, only one set leads directly into his office. Sherlock just hopes that whatever doorway Moriarty stumbles upon near the Eye does not inadvertently allow him the advantage.

And of course Sherlock cannot overlook the thousands of caseworkers bustling about. It will not take long for them to realise that something is amiss. But they are not a threat—only Moriarty and his crew have the clearance level to touch the Chairman’s brother.





With three doors, one staircase and several disgruntled caseworkers behind them, Sherlock and John run into two of Moriarty’s henchmen stumbling out of the women’s toilet on the forty-fourth floor. John swears and Sherlock has to immediately course correct, ducking into the nearest empty conference room.

They lose ground, winding up back on the twenty-second floor. When they reach the fiftieth floor the pair of caseworkers, now joined by the other two hulking figures, reappear just as Sherlock throws open the only door leading to the topmost level of the Bureau. Turning down a long corridor they find that the only doors available are those at the opposite end of the hallway. Conveniently, they happen to belong to Mycroft’s office. They are so close. The telltale clatter of several pairs of shoes beating against ornate marble grows louder. Sherlock glances over his shoulder and the group of caseworkers are only a few steps behind.

John stops running and Sherlock whips around to find their path blocked.

“Doctor Watson,” Moriarty calls, the sound reverberates loudly in the massive space. They are surrounded. “What a delightful game of cat and mouse,” his voice is nasally and distorted as he pinches the bridge of his nose. The flesh is stained a light red with blood from where John broke it. “But it’s getting a bit dull.” He pulls a face, exaggerated disgust, and lets the hand fall away. “I do have a job to do after all.” Sherlock moves to block John from view; his grip on the man’s wrist is almost painful. Moriarty continues stalking toward them. “You know, deadlines.” The word rolls off his tongue, the sound curved by the sick smile twisting his lips.

“Sherlock!” John shouts as he is wrenched away by two of the caseworkers. Sherlock’s immediate reaction is to scramble after him, but he knows it would be futile so he suppresses the urge. He bites the inside of his cheek, struggling to maintain his composure as he watches John’s arms being twisted behind his back—one thick fingered hand digging into the old bullet wound.

“This could have all been avoided if you had not gotten in my way,” Moriarty chides him, patting Sherlock on the shoulder. It starts gentle but quickly descends into solid thumps against his clavicle. “Now the good doctor will have to be reset.” He snaps his fingers and one of the lackeys twists his hand in the damp locks at the crown of John’s head.

“No.” The sound escapes unchecked.

Oh, and Sherlock suddenly understands. He wants.

He’s never wanted anything. Never like this, never felt that most basic human need, a burning, base craving for contact.

He wants to kiss John. Needs to kiss him.

How human.

Sherlock darts forward, his blunt fingertips pressing into John’s skin as he tilts his face up. Their lips collide, teeth awkwardly clicking against each other on impact. It’s a bruiser of a kiss and everything else seems to go silent. The sound of Moriarty laughing and doors gliding open fade into the background as he finally surrenders to the latticework of heat crisscrossing his body. It’s like a dull ache burning just beneath the surface of his skin, blossoming over every inch of his body and rising ever higher. And John, oh, John, he is kissing him back. At least it feels like he is, and rather enthusiastically at that. But then again, Sherlock has never kissed anyone before so he may be misreading the contact. Though he is sure that when John tilts his head and the whisper of a tongue grazes along his lower lip, it can be considered conclusive evidence that yes, indeed, John is kissing him back.

“You always have been one for the overly dramatic gestures, little brother.” Mycroft says from somewhere in the distance. The sound of his brother’s voice is enough to kill any desire thrumming through his suddenly human-feeling body.

“Mycroft!” Sherlock gasps, whirling around to find his brother leaning on his favourite umbrella. Once he spots Mycroft’s somewhat amused expression he turns back to focus on a rather dazed John. “Mycroft, you have to—” He continues frantically, running his hands over John’s shoulders and face.

“Why don’t we take this whole little affair into my office.” Mycroft remains calm, motioning for the group to enter.





“He has already demonstrated that he is a rather exceptional human,” Sherlock argues, pacing in front of where Mycroft sits at his desk. John has been shoved into an overstuffed leather armchair, the one usually reserved for Sherlock whenever he chooses to grace Mycroft with his presence. It seemed appropriate. Moriarty leans luxuriously against the back of the chair, carding his hand through John’s damp hair. The four caseworkers stand guard around Moriarty, poised to restrain Sherlock at any moment should he try another daring escape.

“I believe your judgement may be a bit clouded.” Mycroft cuts in, needling Sherlock with a cool smile as he leans back to cross his legs.

“Regardless,” Sherlock snaps back. “You know there is no guarantee that even if you do reset him, he will follow the original Plan.” He pauses to look at John, caught halfway between his brother and the human. John’s eyes are bright and alert, trying to follow Sherlock’s train of thought to its logical conclusion. “We can’t replicate the exact memories or feelings he has accrued. There are things that the Bureau simply cannot imitate.” A series of shared memories stream through Sherlock’s mind and he can only begin to guess what kinds of foreign ‘emotions’ were swirling around in John’s head. All he felt was warmth or the distinct lack there of, nothing concrete enough to be labelled as fear or need or inspiration. He has to look away from the man’s hopeful face; eyes focusing on the wet stain blossoming on Mycroft’s lush carpet just beneath John’s feet. His mind is racing. “Perhaps the new John will love Sarah, yes, but his ingenuity, that spirit that drives him toward danger and adventure, may be permanently lost. And your Plan will still be ruined along with John.” There is a strange twinge that causes a hitch in his step as he turns to face Mycroft full on. Something has sparked to life inside his chest, his long fingers pressed against the desk as he leans in close. “You know as well as I do there is no accounting for the damage done when a mind is reset.”

“Sherlock,” Mycroft tone is sharp, a clear warning for Sherlock to back off the topic and allow his brother time to consider his reasoning and weigh his rather limited options. Two pairs of feet whisper against the carpet, stepping forward to flank Sherlock. He ignores the muffled warning from John.

“Let this one have his free will.” He is pushing too far, eyes wild and pale skin taking on an uncharacteristic flush. “You will not regret it.”

“I’m sorry, brother.” The apology is an honest one, regret and sorrow rimming the edges of Mycroft’s eyes despite his unyielding tenor. “I would like to hear from John now.” With a slight inclination of Mycroft’s head, two of Moriarty’s caseworkers seize Sherlock.

“Mycroft!”

“Alone.” Mycroft motions for them to kindly remove Sherlock from the office.

“No!” John tries to jump out of the chair but only makes it halfway before Moriarty yanks him back down. Letting out a groan of pain, he twists away from the grip that restrains him. “What are you going to do to him?” He demands, brow furrowed and staring up at Mycroft.

“I owe you no explanation.”

“He’s my caseworker. I deserve to know,” John challenges and that warm ache low in the pit of Sherlock’s stomach flares up. “I’m the reason he’s in this mess.”

“Yes, I suppose you are…” Mycroft considers the sentiment for a moment before unfolding his legs and standing. He runs a finger along the perimeter of his desk as he walks around it. Lips pressed in a flat line, Sherlock braces himself despite already knowing exactly what will come next. “Sherlock will be striped of his status as a caseworker. All of his field work privileges will be revoked and he will then have to serve multiple century sentences working in the Bureau’s Basement archives.” Leaning against the front of his desk, arms crossed, Mycroft settles to stand opposite John. “It’s something akin to your high security prisons. He’ll still contribute to society but in a highly controlled environment.”

Sherlock ignores the slight twinge of fear that chases away the warmth curling in his chest, instead focusing on his brother’s keen eyes. Mycroft examines John’s every reaction as if he is waiting for some abstract tell from the human. There are very high expectations lurking behind those deceptively calm eyes. Sherlock can only hope that John Watson will meet whatever illogical criteria Mycroft has created for his fastidiously distributed compassion.

Eyes slowly trailing from Mycroft’s face, John looks to Sherlock. He stays quiet for a moment, licking his lower lip and pulling at the cuffs of his cardigan. John looks so small in the opulent chair, dwarfed by the menacing Moriarty who continues to loom above him. Sherlock feels the sudden urge to touch him, put his arms around the human and lie through his teeth when he promises to solve all of life’s little problems.

“Y-you,” John just barely stumbles over the word as he turns back to Mycroft. He pauses to collect himself and Sherlock can already tell John is about to do something incredibly stupid and obviously gallant. “If it’s the only way…” The hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. John’s fingers bunch in the damp fabric of his trousers, split knuckles fading to white. “You can reset me.”

“John.” Sherlock struggles against the tight grip on his biceps, nearly overpowering one of the caseworkers.

Moriarty’s hand falls away from his head, completely shocked.

“I don’t know why,” John barrels on, refusing to look at Sherlock, “but I can’t seem to follow your Plan. I’ve tried, honest.” The laugh catches in his throats as he shrugs his shoulders helplessly. “But I think I’d rather not know, be a different person, than try and play along—because I already know I can’t do that anymore.” His human impulses betray the practiced composure filling his voice, gaze flicking over to check on Sherlock. “Just, just don’t hurt Sherlock.”

“I’ll be fine.”

For the first time in almost fourteen centuries, Sherlock tells a bad lie and John knows instantly.

“You would do that to protect your casework, Dr. Watson?” Mycroft asks incredulous, but Sherlock thinks he hears an undercurrent of exhilaration. There is a glimmer of hope when Sherlock sees a genuine look of surprise flit across his brother’s face. Perhaps he is starting to understand. Intriguing. “Why?” A strange little smile twists up the corners of his mouth.

It seems that John can surprise even the Chairman.

“I thought that bit was obvious.”

Mycroft’s smile is slow to rise but it manages to crinkle the skin at the corners of his eyes and Sherlock realises it’s been nearly seven centuries since he has seen that particular expression on his brother’s face.

“Well then.” Mycroft’s entire demeanour changes, perking up as he clasps his hands together. He pushes off of the desk, crossing the large room to personally remove the two pairs of hands restraining his brother. “Perhaps there is one other possibility to solve our little dilemma, brother.”

For once Sherlock honestly has not a single inkling as to what his brother is planning.

While Mycroft occupies himself with escorting the caseworkers from his office, Sherlock rushes to John’s side. His long fingers wrap around Moriarty’s wrist, thumb digging into tendons and veins as he pries him off John.

“Catch you later,” Moriarty snarls, yanking his hand away. Sherlock barely spares him a proper glare.

“Moriarty,” Mycroft calls, beckoning the caseworker with a crook of his finger.

“That was bloody stupid.” Sherlock rounds on John who now stands beside him, anxiously combing his hand through his own dishevelled hair. His hand cups the side of the man’s face as he leans down. “So stupid,” he murmurs against John’s lips. John presses his hands against the length of firm collarbones beneath wool and cotton, just feeling the solid weight of Sherlock so close.

After dismissing a seriously put out Moriarty in favour of managing the situation without his further heavy-handed assistance, Mycroft clears his throat. John pulls away immediately but Sherlock follows his movements, prolonging the kiss. When Mycroft upgrades to a loud cough, Sherlock finally registers the sound, supplanting the loss of contact between them by taking John’s hand.

“Follow me.” With an amused smile that Sherlock really does not care for in the slightest, Mycroft leads them into a large record room connected to his primary office. Once they pass through the small doorway, he instructs them to wait while he disappears into the ceiling high stacks. Sherlock spreads his fingers, threading them through John’s as he tugs him closer. There are about five different scenarios playing in his mind, ranging from best case to the absolute worse. Mycroft reappears a few moments later with a small tube of crisp white paper. “Now,” he says, placing the paper on an ornate glass display case, the one at the very heart of the room showcasing Mummy’s Original Plan, and carefully unrolling it. “Keep in mind, this is just a draft.”

A bright purple line springs from nowhere in the middle of the roughly sketched out Plan. Sherlock estimates that the new line starts at 7:28 the following morning. It is almost as if the human was suddenly born mid-thought. From its very introduction it begins running parallel to John’s pulsing green lifeline.

That is the solution.

Mycroft has a different companion in mind. Someone better suited to the reality of Doctor John Watson.

But how could it be a new life? An infant, perhaps? Sherlock cannot make sense of the anomaly in the Plan spooling out on the page.

“Who is this?” Sherlock traces the trajectory of the purple line all the way to the edge of the Plan. He already knows it will continue far beyond the six-month block of time currently drawn up on the blueprint before him. A lifetime partner to the green streak darting around London.

“You.”

“Human?”

“Yes,” Mycroft replies with a beaming smile spreading across his features. He smoothes his hand over the pristine paper, clearly proud of his ingenious solution. Or, had it been his Plan all along? Sherlock quickly dismisses the notion—too many variables to account for, even for a mind like his brother’s. “I told you I was adaptable within reason.” Mycroft takes a step closer to his brother, reaching out to touch his elbow gingerly. “You becoming human to be with John is well within what I would consider ‘reasonable.’”

“Sherlock,” John squeezes his hand, the pad of his thumb tracing the topography of Sherlock’s knuckles.

“Has this ever happened before?”

“No.” Mycroft dismisses the gravity of that answer with the flick of a wrist. He circles around the pair to stand on the other side of the display case. “It’ll be hard, especially for you, to adjust but,” he pauses, inclining his head toward John. “I’m sure there will be great incentives,” he says, reaching out to fiddle with the man’s soggy collar.

“I will die,” Sherlock tone is flat, face expressionless as he stares down at the purple line. He needs to understand everything this entails. He is not reckless or brash like John. After all, he is not human. And while he can feel a warm tempest brewing inside him, he has not yet relinquished his sharp mind.

“You will be mortal, so eventually, yes, you will die.” It sounds so simple and yet completely unprecedented. “But you will also have a human heart—delicate but strong.” Sherlock can hear the admiration in Mycroft’s voice. “Well, it’s a big decision,” Mycroft claps his hands together, leading them back into his office. “I’ll have Greta bring you some tea.” With that, he slips out the main door.





The tea grows colder by the minute while John stands at ease in the middle of the large office watching his former caseworker pace back and forth. Sherlock has not spoken for the better half of an hour, just trudging back and forth. John idly wonders if it is in fact possible to wear a hole in a carpet as posh as the one adorning Mycroft’s floor.

Sherlock stops, staring at the floor.

“Would you still have ‘feelings’ for me?”

“Of course,” John says as if it is the most obvious thing in the world. He takes a step toward Sherlock but the man continues pacing.

“You said you were interested in me because I was ‘different.’” Perhaps that is the only reason. “I will be human.”

“Sherlock, honestly,” John sighs, throwing his hands up.

“Do not patronise me, John.” Sherlock turns, striding over to stand directly in front of John. “I am simply unfamiliar with the actual logistics of this, this thing. You humans take over that bit for us.”

“You will still be you.” John runs his thumb along the wool collar of Sherlock’s greatcoat. His fingertips brush against the soft hairs curling around the nape of Sherlock’s neck.

He wants to kiss him again.

“How can you be so sure?” Brows furrowed, Sherlock desperately seeks out the source of John’s confidence. He does not understand, will not understand until he accepts the fate Mycroft is offering. “Emotions are extremely powerful, especially 'this' one.” Sherlock fails to label it, unsure if he is even allowed to use the word without properly experiencing. “I’ve seen it destroy great men.” For him, it remains a sensation, just an illusive brush of heat and pressure building inside his body.

“Well, I’m sure you’ve also seen it do quite the opposite.” John counters with a wistful smile. How romantic. How shortsighted.

“I may be completely different,” he warns and instantly shuffles through all the variants of his own abrasive persona combined with the explosiveness of human emotions. Perhaps it is possible to tame them, rein them in but that is most likely the polar opposite of Mycroft’s intent. Not to mention, unfair to John Watson’s deep affections. “Maladaptive.” The word is cumbersome and vile on his tongue but sounding like the obvious outcome to his logical mind. “It’s an enormous risk, John. I—”

“Like you said,” John’s eyes are bright and alluring. “I’ve always enjoyed danger.”

“I don’t,” Sherlock stiffens, shoulders back, spine straight and his voice drops to barely above a whisper. “I don’t want to disappoint you.”

John stares unblinking and Sherlock does not have a single clue as to how he is meant to read the man’s usually expressive face.

“Sherlock,” his voice sounds odd and Sherlock can only feel strange alternating currents of hot and cold running up the length of his body. It is uncomfortable, as if John is trying to suppress his instincts. A warm hand catches his elbow, pulling him over to the chair situated in front of Mycroft’s desk. John pushes him down into the seat, standing between his sprawling legs. “I’m not going to deny that I want this, badly,” he says honestly, moving to crouch down, hands gently placed on Sherlock’s knees. They simply rest there and Sherlock wants to cover them with his own. He resists the pull, focusing on the words spilling from John’s lips. “But it has to be your choice,” John pauses, his mouth dry, “I don’t want you to resent me.”

He cups the man’s face in his hands, drawing him up to examine the painfully earnest eyes.

This is John Watson, the man who would risk his fragile human life for him, who wants him to be a part of that tiny existence, who would surrender his own wilful nature to a partnered life. John, who was ready to give up his everything in order to protect Sherlock. John, who radiates a beautiful warmth strong enough to permeate muscle and bone and create the incredible illusion of a beating heart inside his empty chest.

How can he resist John?

How can he possibly resist the chance to unravel the mysteries of the John’s autonomy, to fully understand the intricacies of his existence and delve head first into a world without a Plan?

“John…”

He bends into Sherlock, hands against the armrests while he presses the back of Sherlock’s head against the chair with the force of his kiss. Sherlock hooks his long fingers into the space between buttons on John’s cardigan, feeling the water-damaged fabric yield to his touch. Tipping his head back, feeling flushed from head to toe, Sherlock turns to look at the office door.

“Mycroft,” he yells. The door swings open and before Sherlock has a chance to begin to explain his decision, it is clear that Mycroft knows.

“Oh, superb,” his smile is so genuine that it almost baffles Sherlock as to how his brother’s features know how to twist themselves in that particular manner. “I was rather not looking forward to resetting poor Doctor Watson.” John takes a small step back as Sherlock rises from the chair. “Now, this will only take a moment.” Mycroft steps forward, gripping Sherlock’s biceps. He moves to stand opposite. “I will miss you dearly, brother.” Sherlock can see Mycroft struggling to express an emotion that he is unable to truly feel. “I’ll try and check in from time to time. It has been quite a while since I ventured into the ‘fray’,” he laughs.

“No caseworkers,” Sherlock responds, pointing at his brother, face pulled into a stern scowl. “For either of us.”

“I’m sure you would notice straightaway,” he brushes the weak threat off easily. “You two will be my little experiment. Perhaps man is ready for a new age of free will.”

“Surveillance is to be kept to an absolute minimum.” Mycroft smiles but makes no such guarantee. “Mycroft.” Sherlock’s voice is a low warning as he steps closer in an attempt at intimidation. Mycroft spares him the mocking laugh, opting to pat him on the cheek. His fingertips feel like pinpricks against his skin, icy and metallic. Curious. The sensation is completely foreign, invasive almost and Sherlock wants to pull away but he cannot seem to find the strength to move.

“Please take care of him, John,” Mycroft instructs and he almost sounds concerned.

Sherlock feels dizzy, everything blurs in and out of focus and he is so tired. Long legs faltering, he stumbles back, away from Mycroft. He has never felt so exhausted, as if the only thing that will cure the sensation is a long, proper sleep. Deep sleep. Like a human. And he feels impossibly warm arms wrapping around him and, oh, that is rather nice. He could fall asleep right now in those arms. Sherlock’s deadweight is scooped up in the man’s arms. The last thing he remembers is John’s face, creased with worry, staring down at him as he promises something to Mycroft.





Epilogue

Date: 2011-11-13 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] romanclee.livejournal.com
Marvelous. Oh my GOD--or should I say, "Oh my Mycroft"--but even then, maybe all I need to say is, "Mycroft." Like it's an expletive all on it's own. Really, I can't get over how intricate and beautifully designed this story is. Mycroft designing the world, one human at a time; Sherlock as a caseworker, as John's "guardian angel"--it's perfectly fitting and perfectly ironic on all accounts. What a way to tell their story. I must say: Marvelous.

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