Stand Up

By Alex Beiderbecke

Adventure / Mystery

Chapter 6

John and Sherlock both stood frozen to the spot in the deserted gallery as the sounds of wheels on concrete floor could be heard in the Turbine Hall. John was wondering why it was he had even got up today. First he saw Private Moran. Then his leg gave him hell. Then Sherlock failed to solve a case which would mean enduring the inevitable three and a quarter day sulk that went with that. And to cap it all off Moriarty was behaving like a teenager a mere stones throw away. John glanced up at Sherlock. His face was telling a similar story.

"So, do we follow him Sherlock?"

Instead of giving an answer Sherlock closed his eyes and pressed his hands to his temples. The mind palace. Again. John had no option but to stand patiently as Sherlock located whichever bit of information he needed. A couple of minutes later his eyes snapped open and he half ran to the room in which Ianus had been inspecting his newest piece in his collection. John jogged to catch up with the man who was now running his hands along the walls of the tiny gallery. He was yet to say a word. Once he'd finished skimming the walls Sherlock stood in the centre of the room, hands clasped behind his back. He took in a deep breath and held it for longer than John thought natural. As he exhaled he turned to face him.

"I think we should follow him John"

John nodded and walked side by side with Sherlock in silence towards the escalators. As they disembarked Sherlock put his hand in his coat pocket and gave something inside a squeeze. John remembered his gun in his belt and brushed over it lightly with his right hand. Whatever happened, he would be ready.

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As Sherlock and John entered the vast grey space of the Turbine Hall, Moriarty was gliding up and down the space, with a certain degree of skill, on what looked like a very well loved longboard. He didn't stop as Sherlock led John to the middle of the gallery. They watched the man who had miraculously escaped imprisonment mere months ago move around the Hall with effortless ease, occasionally throwing in a few tricks. John was about to open his mouth to speak when Sherlock beat him to it

"Is this it?" he called to a Moriarty who had just finished a rather dextrous change of direction. The Irishman looked at Sherlock as he moved past once more.

"Do you think this is it?"

"I don't know" Sherlock's hand reached into his pocket once more and Moriarty got off the board, inspecting his shoe where he thought he had scuffed it.

"Well then it probably isn't. You'll know when it happens"

Moriarty got back on the board and did another couple of laps around the hall as Sherlock took his hand back out again. John not only wanted to know what that odd little exchange was all about, he was beginning to wonder if he would have to watch Moriarty ride around all night. Sherlock's even tone rang throughout the Hall again.

"Thomas Ianus is dead"

Moriarty skidded to an abrupt halt and kicked up the board into his hands. Inspecting the trucks he walked towards the pair in the middle of the hall.

"Yes…he's…dead….how thick are you Sherlock? He'll be called to glory, isn't that a great phrase by the way, called to glory, in a Michelin starred restaurant whose owner used to really piss me off at school. He will have the reputation of being the man who poisoned the great philanthropist Thomas Ianus who had a well known allergy to pulses. It'll drive him to despair. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. Literally"

Moriarty smirked at his own joke. Sherlock looked momentarily dumbfounded before he reverted to the cold front that he usually presented to Moriarty. John was confused. If Ianus was going to be killed by pulses in the restaurant, what was Moriarty doing here? And how could Sherlock get it so wrong? John looked up to his best friend and instead of confusion he saw resolve. Sherlock was ten steps ahead of John. He'd solved it. But Moriarty had caught the slight slip of Sherlock's mask and began to laugh.

"Really Sherlock? Really? Is this what got you? Is this all that it took to beat you? This wasn't even my best work! Unlike Sebastian Moran. That exhibition was his best work. I love that man. But I feel that now is the time that I got rid of him. There is an expiry date on people's usefulness. Speak of the devil…"

John was expecting Sherlock to retort with the solution to the murder as he was increasingly sure that it wasn't as simple as Moriarty had said. There had to be more too it. Moriarty stretched his arm out in welcome to a figure who had just entered the opposite end of the Turbine Hall. The figure seemed hesitant at first but Moriarty motioned for him to come forwards

"Private Moran. The man of the hour" He shouted across the space. John's blood ran cold. This must be it. Moriarty must be here to kill Moran. John couldn't think why but he knew that Sebastian was in danger. If he didn't stand up for Sebastian in Helmand now, he sure as hell would do now. Now was the time to redeem himself. A bolt of pain ran down his leg and settled in his knee as he turned to Sebastian,

"Get out of here now!" John bellowed at an approaching Sebastian. But the man kept up a steady pace walking towards the trio in the middle of the hall. "Sebastian get out. Don't try and be a hero. Move!"

Sherlock thought Sebastian's eyes momentarily flickered with something that bordered on contempt. But he was never that good at judging emotions in stressful situations. And things were about to get worse. Without warning John had pulled out his gun and aimed it squarely at Moriarty.

"Harm him Moriarty and I swear I will kill you"

Sherlock looked taken aback once more as John's eyes dulled in colour and the room became a little darker. Sebastian was now within arms reach of John. As he came closer John reached back with his left hand and gently pushed him back. At this motion Moriarty rolled his eyes and dropped the longboard to the floor giving off a gun-shot like crack as it hit the hard floor. Plunging his hands into his trouser pockets he ambled forwards towards John. As he reached the barrel of John's gun he turned to look at Sherlock who was attempting to mask his confusion.

"Shut up Sherly"

"I haven't said anything" Sherlock retorted, desperately trying to mentally regain control of the situation.

"No. But you're thinking and its annoying" At this both Sherlock and John looked at each other startled.

"What. You don't think I haven't been listening in all this time do you?" John locked eyes with Moriarty once more, even more determined to stand his ground and protect the other two men in the room. Moriarty raised his index finger to the barrel of the gun and placed it over it.

"Now Captain Watson, of the Fifth Northumberland Fusileers, please lower your weapon and allow Private Moran past. I want to give him something"

John stared at Moriarty unblinkingly. He was determined. He would stand up for Sebastian, even if it was the last thing he ever did.

"No" John was calm but authoritative.

"I beg your pardon?"

"No.

"I won't let you harm one of my men"

"Well, he's not one of your men anymore. And from what I've heard, I'm not sure you ever really regarded him as one of your own"

John adjusted his grip on the gun, as searing pain began to course down his leg. He resisted the urge to grab it. Gritting his teeth he mustered up enough fight to offer his response,

"This man has done nothing to you he-"

"And that poor messenger in Helmand did nothing to you either"

Moriarty had done it. John paled and lowered his gun as his leg gave underneath him. He landed on the floor, wincing as he hit the concrete. Sherlock stepped forward to help John as Sebastian stepped over him and stood next to Moriarty. John put his hand up to Sherlock to stop him moving any closer. Swearing under his breath, he looked up to Sebastian, pleading him to understand,

"He was a threat Moran. You know he was"

But Sebastian's reply offered no comfort, his voice as clear cut and calm as it had been only hours ago upstairs,

"He was a boy”

Sherlock hovered next to John, unsure of what to do and perplexed by Sebastian’s words. Had John killed a child? John gritted his teeth and pulled himself up, holding Sebastian’s gaze as he did.

“I did not take the shot. You did” John’s voice was steely and Sherlock got the impression that this was the tone he used as a Captain. Sebastian was looking incredulous, his voice rising slightly, although still not shouting, as he spoke,

“With a gun to my head. Or perhaps you had forgotten that?” Sebastian pushed back his hair to fully reveal the circular scar on his temple and with a sickening jolt Sherlock realised that it was the exact size and shape of the tip of a gun barrel. More specifically a standard army issue Browning. Sherlock now turned his gaze to John and as emotionally redundant as Sherlock may be, he was sure that he saw a flicker of something akin to guilt pass over John’s face before it returned to the flint frontier he was presenting Sebastian with. Meanwhile Moriarty stood smirking. This evening was getting better and better. He clapped his hands together, returning the attention of the three men to him. In his best sing-song voice, he decided to start burning Sherlock’s heart,

“Well I think its time for a little story now, don’t you? How about the story of why John limps?”



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