No Match for the Man

Chapter 5

Bullets peppered the concrete as John slid ghost-like along the barrier of panda cars lining the street to drop to his knees beside Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade. His shorter stature made him nearly invisible to the shooters still entrenched within the bank. Reaching out, he snagged an injured officer beneath the arms and dragged him out of the small empty space he had fallen in.

"Damned AK's!" Sergeant Sally Donovan cursed angrily as another wave of projectiles shattered the window above her.

Lestrade snarled and shook shards from his silver hair, "How much bloody ammo do they have?"

"M16's," John said calmly as he yanked the tourniquet in his fingers tight around the wounded officer's arm.

"What's that, Doctor?" Sally leaned around Lestrade's back to look at the doctor as he worked.

"Their guns. They're M16s, smaller and lighter than an AK." John arched his body over the fallen officer as another window burst, protecting the man's face from the falling glass. "One of the boys a few cars over said the robbers went inside with a backpack each?"

"And?" The Inspector leaned back on his heels as he shared an incredulous look with his Sergeant.

John carefully straightened up and continued to pack and bind the bullet wound under his hands. His unbelievably calm tone never wavered, "Those guns have a 30-round cartridge capacity, and they've been shooting off at least a full charge every fifteen minutes since you got here an hour and a half ago. I'd guess they're nearly out of ammo, but they probably have handguns for backup so they can get away."

Sally and Greg shared another incredulous glance before Sally blurted out, "How the hell do you figure that?"

The doctor made a noise so reminiscent of Sherlock's 'you're all idiots' snort that they nearly fell over. As John patted his patient and shooed the man back into action, he leaned his back against the car and fixed the Inspector with a no-nonsense stare. One side of his mouth quirked up at the looks on the faces of his two-person audience.

"It's a common terrorist tactic. Line the bottom of a pack with enough ammo cartridges to keep the authorities at bay, hole up inside a building for a while with some hostages, fire at will while the packs are filled to capacity, snag some hostages to use as human shields, and make as clean a getaway as you can." He shrugged, "To be fair, compared to the terrorists, these two are amateurs. There's no getaway vehicle within running distance, they completely forgot to secure the rear of the building, and they only have one hostage."

"How, the bloody fuck, do you know any of this, John?" Sally's voice was at least 2 octaves higher than normal with incredulity.

Lestrade clapped him on the shoulder, a stupid grin plastered on his face, "John here's an Army doctor, Donovan. You don't think Sherlock Holmes would tolerate an ordinary GP for an assistant, do you?"

Another burst of gunfire sounded, and the police radios scattered about crackled with static as the SWAT team made their entry through the rear of the bank. The faintest echoes of angry officers demanding surrender bounced out into the now quiet street. When the radios crackled again, sounding the 'all-clear' Lestrade, John, and Donovan dragged themselves out from behind their shelter and into the open road.

"I'm going to assume," Lestrade began to say, and then all hell broke loose again.

One of the robbers burst suddenly out of the front door of the bank, pistol drawn, and fired randomly into the street. Two officers went down as Lestrade and Donovan dropped to one knee each and returned fire. John grunted as a bullet grazed his left bicep, and he caught up the fallen weapon of a nearby downed officer.

Grimacing as another wild shot grazed his lower leg, John fluidly targeted the fleeing criminal and fired. The robber took the shot clean through his shoulder, screaming out in pain as he fell to the pavement. Dropping the weapon, John rushed forward to roll over one of the downed officers and apply pressure to his bleeding chest.

"Lestrade," John's voice was still as cool as an autumn breeze, "you might want to get those EMTs over here. Now."

As humiliating as her almost-victory had been, Sherlock could admit to feeling a modicum of admiration for her cleverness. Everything that had happened had been planned by her, and her alone, with Moriarty only having ideas in regards to her continued protection. If he had been just a little less observant of her physical reactions, and not just the game, then more would have been lost than just the carefully laid plan of a pair of nations. Making his way back through the airport, Sherlock pulled his favorite coat a little tighter around his frame and set his body on autopilot.

He ran through the last few hours again in his mind, replaying key points to see where he could have done better. Was there anything he could have said or done, seen through faster? Where had he gone wrong? What had he done right? Where was John?

Shaking his head of that last thought, Sherlock set his jaw in anger. John had left the flat, left him alone with that viperess, and not even had the decency to leave a note. The doctor was supposed to stay put and keep an eye on Irene, keep her away from him, not disappear! Not that he could blame the man for swanning off, really, when the only thing in the flat besides himself was a scheming seductress. John preferred the company of honest people with trustworthy hearts, not selfish power players.

Now, when the tale was reiterated to the doctor it would have to be carefully edited, or John would know that he had been right about Irene outclassing the detective in regards to manipulation. Not that John would do any more than say 'I told you so', unlike Mycroft, who would never let him live this little incident down. That was one of his favorite things about John; the doctor openly admired him even when he screwed up.

Catching a taxi, instead of being brought back to the flat by Mycroft's flunkies, Sherlock curled in on himself and fiddled with the edges of his coat sleeves. As the scenario in the office replayed yet again, he flinched inwardly at his acidic words. He had meant for them to hurt her, and they obviously had, but he hadn't meant to hurt himself as well. Mycroft would have taken notice of his referencing John during a speech about the folly of sentiment and love. He was in for an earful sometime in the very near future.

Knocking his head against the window, Sherlock took a few deep breaths and let them out slowly. Getting involved with sentiment had never been good for him; he needed someone who understood it to explain it in plain English. Mycroft was too much their father's son to attempt it, and Mummy could wax so poetically about it that it confused him even more. Irene Adler had now tossed another spanner in the works, showing him that emotions could be just as much of a weapon as anything else. How the hell was he to prepare against it next time if he had no idea what it meant?

Only one person popped up in his mind whenever he delved into the land of feelings - John Watson. The doctor was good with such things, being a rather ordinary human being in that respect. However, the thought of discussing such things with his flatmate brought up other things that he knew, even with his limited knowledge of the subject, were 'a bit not good', and could possibly damage their friendship irreparably.

Still, in the end, John was the best sounding board he had for such things. Had the man not predicted, after all, that Irene was the better master because of her understanding of sentiment and emotion? Before he could talk himself out of it, he resolved to consult John more often on the subject of feelings, and to actually listen to any advice rendered on that subject. Time to think up a proposition for just such an endeavor that would entice John to help out.

Turning his phone back on in his pocket, a loud beep alerted him to a text, and Sherlock tugged it out to check the message: Barts ASAP. John needs help home. - GL

Sherlock stared at the message and panic slammed his throat closed. All of his careful preparations slipped from his mind at the thought that John had been possibly damaged in some way flooded his mind. "Saint Bart's Hospital now!" He barked at the driver then dialed Lestrade's number. He didn't even give the man time to greet him before snapping, "What happened?"

"Robbery in progress at the First National? John said he left a message for you to text him."

"Stop prevaricating, you idiot, and tell me what happened!" The detective used anger to usurp the fear that had gripped him, infusing it in his voice.

Lestrade was shocked into silence for a moment, but finally he answered, "Bullet grazed John's shoulder and leg. I mean, God Almighty, Sherlock, I knew the man was in the Army, but ho-ly hell that was something to see! The Yard doesn't even have snipers that can shoot like him!"

"Yes, John is a crack shot. You should see him in hand-to-hand combat sometime. It's quite stimulating." Even though his tone was sarcastic, it couldn't really cover the undertone of fondness that leaked in beneath it. "Is he alright?"

"Yeah, he's fine. Just getting patched up now. Don't know how the Army let go of a man like him."

"The Army did not 'let him go' they shipped him home an invalid because he took a terrorist bullet in the shoulder. I'll be there in seven minutes if this idiot driver will go faster than 10 kilometers an hour!" He hung up on the Inspector and lurched towards the front of the car.

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