Stand Up

By Alex Beiderbecke

Adventure / Mystery

Chapter 2

John hauled himself up the stairs of 221b. The middle stair creaked loudly as he stepped on it. He really must sort that out, he thought. It was too loud. Sherlock would be able to hear that even over his violin. Leaning heavily on the banister he made it to the top of the stairs and rested his head on the kitchen door frame. Evidence of Sherlock's experiments lay strewn over the table. It drove Mrs Hudson mad. He could hear her now,

"Its not hygienic Sherlock really…if you've marked that table…I only cleaned that on Tuesday!"

She indulged him though. It was only last week that John discovered that she had been freezing pig's eyeballs for Sherlock when she came in and asked when he would like them defrosted for.

He pulled his walking stick out of the umbrella stand and made his way to the sink. His body was about to start the destruction of the vast amount of alcohol he had consumed and he felt that copious amounts of water was exactly what was needed at this point. As he searched for a glass he saw that Sherlock had eaten something. One of Mrs Hudson's plates, more specifically the plate that Mrs Hudson had set aside for Sherlock's use only, sat discarded by the sink with the remnants of what could well have been a roast dinner. The only person who could get Sherlock to eat a square meal was Mrs Hudson. And John loved her for it.

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John could only have been asleep for two hours when he was awoken by a very vivid nightmare. He was back in Helmand with the boys. They were on their way to…He cut himself off before he could think any further about it. That wasn't his life anymore.

Sitting up in bed, John berated himself for not knowing that James had died. He had been such a dominant part of his time in the army. He was larger than life. Saw the funny side in everything. But he was also fiercely loyal and proud of his position. Of his country. He judged people on whether he perceived them to be doing their duty. He felt John was. And Paul. And Tom. They all had professions that could easily make more money outside of the service but they had chosen to risk their lives for the greater good. For the defence of their nation and of their home. James liked that.

John moved to his desk in the living room and pulled up his long neglected Facebook account on his laptop. 92 notifications. Mainly happy birthday messages but it was an indication of how long he'd been away. He searched for James in his friends list and found he wasn't there. Maybe the family had deleted the account. Some didn't like them to turn into memorial pages. Instead he turned to Google but "James Hargreaves army photographer" returned nothing of any relevance. Even the official army photography blog had none of James' work. It was like every trace of James had died with him in Kings Cross.

Maybe his surname wasn't Hargreaves. Maybe John had got that wrong. It was a good few years since he'd thought of the man let alone spoke to him.

The leg was really starting to bother him now and he sought out some diazepam on his way back from finding a very dusty box of old army photos. Sitting on the couch he rifled through pictures of his passing out ceremony, pictures from the barracks, shots from Helmand and…there it was. A picture of the entire regiment, names written on the back.

Corporal J. E. Hargreaves

Underneath the large photo was a smaller one, taken after the formal regiment picture. It was of John smiling with his arm around James. The world was getting a little blurry thanks to the drowsiness that the diazepam had brought on which could explain why James' jet black hair, angular face and blue eyes suddenly looked a little like Sherlock.

Sherlock bounded into the living room slamming the door behind him

"John, I need you up and ready. We're going to Wandsworth" he called whilst pulling on his coat.

The bang of the door made John grab for his leg. Bleary eyed and with a headache the size of China John mumbled an agreement before kicking the box of photos under the sofa. He would always endeavour to keep Sherlock separate from his time in the army to protect Sherlock as much as himself.

As Sherlock rattled on about poison begin embedded in the adhesive bits of envelopes that you lick to seal them, the ache in John's leg began to fade. This is what Sherlock did to him. He made him forget. He gave him back the adventure and the thrill of the chase that had drawn him into the army. As Sherlock turned to him, just pausing for breath, John realised that his eyes had filled up.

"Anything the matter?" Sherlock asked, holding out John's coat.

Taking the coat John smiled up to Sherlock,

"No. Not anymore”

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It had been almost two months since John had gone for a drink with Paul. The box of photos still lay discarded under the sofa, apparently missed by Mrs Hudson’s occasional cleaning of the flat. Life with Sherlock continued on as bizarrely as it ever had but John had made a concerted effort to keep in touch with Paul. The two occasionally went out for a drink and had recently started going to the gym together. John had just come back from a very rigorous game of squash to find Sherlock sat at the kitchen table with his microscope and his phone vibrating in the lounge.

“Sherlock?” John asked, leaning heavily on the door frame “You’re phone is ringing” Sherlock made no indication that he had heard John and continued to examine whatever it was on the slide in front of him. John rolled his eyes and walked over to where the phone was balanced on the edge of Sherlock’s chair. It was Mycroft. Not only that but he had called twice already. John decided to fire Mycroft off a text when he came back from his bath. All of the showers in the gym were taken when he and Paul had finished their game and He desperately needed to get rid the “i’ve just come back from the gym” feeling before he dealt with the older Holmes brother.

John came out of the bathroom, hair still wet, to find Sherlock sitting exactly where he had left him, only there was now a shop window dummy hanging from a noose attached to the ceiling. He sat down in his chair, the dummy gently creaking behind him, to catch up on the news. Despite the advent of twitter and online newspapers, John still preferred to catch up with what was going on in the world in print. One of the few memories he had of his father before he died was of him reading the paper on the kitchen table before leaving for work. Reading the paper was a link to his Dad, and a reminder of a Watson family that was not so broken.

As he settled down Sherlock’s phone sounded off again. Behind him a mild expression of irritation crossed Sherlock’s face. He knew Mycroft was calling and he couldn’t be bothered to answer. Mycroft was trying to get him to do something or other he was sure. Probably to do with his parents. He vaguely recalled them saying that they had won three tickets to go to an opening of a new National Trust property. His mother had apologised that she had given the spare to Mycroft but she felt that it was…"More of his sort of thing. You've never really been one for those grand old houses have you?”. She had then gone on with a lecture reminding him to call her more often but by then Sherlock had mentally put her on mute. Unfortunately Mycroft didn't really think the opening of a National Trust property and the obligatory mingling that would follow was his sort of thing either and had been desperately trying to get out of it ever since. The constant bleeping of Sherlock's phone in the living room was probably something to do with that.

As Sherlock continued apparently oblivious to the ringing phone John decided to take action. Looking at the phone his heart sunk. As he walked over to him Sherlock urged John not to disturb him. He was busy. But unfortunately John did say something and it was not anything that Sherlock wanted to hear. Moriarty was back.

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Following Moriarty’s theatrics and Sherlock’s temporary incarceration, the trail came and went. Moriarty walked free. And walked straight to 221b Baker Street.

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"If you could break any bank, what do you care about the highest bidder?"

"I don't. I just like to watch them all competing. "Daddy loves me the best!" Aren't ordinary people adorable? Well, you know: you've got John. I should get myself a live-in one."

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Following their brief conversation Sherlock pulled back the curtain to see Moriarty enter a chauffeur driven black Aston Martin DB7. That's the sort of thing Mycroft would do; own an inordinately expensive, luxurious and sought after car and yet get someone else to drive it. It made no sense to Sherlock. Mycroft had more in common with Moriarty than he would like to think. Sherlock smiled and left to go and raid Mrs Hudson's fridge.

As the car pulled away from the pavement, Moriarty took out his phone, put his feet up on the dashboard and hit speed dial 5. It was time he got his own live in ordinary person. And he knew exactly who to call. Chewing a stick of gum and resting his head on the car window Moriarty watched the grey buildings of London glide past the window as he waited for his old acquaintance and new friend to pick up the phone. When he did a slight grin crossed his face,

"Sebastian, darling, how I have missed you"



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