last01standing: ([LOM] Sam Tyler)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Staying Alive
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I have no claims on Sherlock Holmes in any incarnation.
Summary: It starts in a swimming pool. Or maybe that's how it ends
Spoilers: Post 1.03, but major spoilers for all of series 2
Warning: implication of character death, disturbing imagery
Words: 1,600

Staying Alive

It starts in a swimming pool

Or maybe that's how it ends.


There's not a lot that can happen with a bomb in an enclosed space. Depending on the amount of semtex, (John would know the precise weight Sherlock can only guess based on the size of the parka and the previous explosion in old lady's flat) his prospects for survival range from low to dismal. John's are only slightly better, nestled into a corner, protected from part of the blast. But if he knows his friend, John will be moving before he pulls the trigger in a valiant attempt to get them both into the pool.

It won't work. No matter how many times he runs the maths (air expanding out from point of impact) they won't make it in time to escape that initial blast.

He looks sideways, a question.

John's not an idiot. There's only one way this can end.

He raises the gun.


Sherlock wakes up to the heat from the phantom flames licking his skin. There's a song playing through his head, that infernal racket from Moriarty's phone, Staying alive, staying alive.

It is suddenly very hard to breathe.

John, he needs to see John.

The room upstairs is streaked in shadows. John should really invest in some darker curtains but he likes to let in natural (misses the Afghan sun) light when he can. He stands in the doorway, watching, listening. He's learned his lesson about interrupting his flatmate's sleep. John sleeps like the dead, but he wake all at once, a process that seems to involve nothing but elbows.

He doesn't need to touch. He can see John and that is more than enough.

By his side, his phone buzzes. He glances down. Mycroft. Tiresome. This never should have happened. –MH. He deletes it.


Irene Alder could not have been more perfect if he planned her himself. Sherlock's fascinated. John is annoyed. Moriarty lurks, just off the board. When he walks out of the street, there is a bit of graffiti on the wall that catches his eye, Figured it out yet, Sherlock?

It's then that he realizes something has gone horribly wrong. He's more than a bit frustrated it has taken him this long to notice.


He stops eating a day before Baskerville. It's no use anyway. Everything he tries turns to ash in his mouth. He can't even smell the smoke from the cigarettes. John takes his hunger strike in stride though Sherlock knows from experience, he'll be monitoring for symptoms of low blood sugar and malnutrition. He'll step in when the signs begin to show, strapping him into an IV if necessary.

The hound isn't the only thing he sees under the influence of drugs. He makes the mistake of dozing off in his chair and he dreams he's caught in a spider web of tubing, some of them holding blood, others a clear (saline? Antibiotics?) fluid. He can't move, feels like he can't breathe, but everything aches and it's so exquisitely real that he believes.

In Baskerville he doses John. Repeat the experiment. Can only hope results are replicable.

John hears only the hound. Sherlock dissects this answer even as John is quietly furious with him. He knows his hypothesis, but he can't afford to be wrong so he won't explain. Not to John. John who is, brilliant, fantastic, a conductor of light. (Essential).

He hopes he is wrong.


Fourteen days without food. He examines his features. There should be outward signs by now. Thinning cheeks, painful stomach contractions, changes to his complexion. He's not felt faint. His mind is still working. He scratches the crook of his elbow and wonders how long he might be able to stay awake.


"Arch nemeses, monstrous hounds and Bluebell the glowing rabbit?" John's laughing as he types up this blog entry. Perhaps Sherlock has already been forgiven. "Sometimes it feels like we're living in a fairy tale. Next case I supposed we should suspect your evil stepmother and a pumpkin turned into a carriage."

"Why would we ever expect that?"

John grabs his cup of tea in both hands and turns to face his friend, drinking in the warmth. The weather shows no signs of ever warming. "You've deleted Cinderella then?"


"Does seem a bit fantastic though. Something out of a storybook. If we don't start taking some more normal cases, my readers are going to think we've made the whole thing up."

"Dull." Sherlock steeples his fingers under his chin and closes his eye. (He sees John Watson in the midst of an inferno. The flames should consume him, but not even in his imagination can Sherlock contemplate John coming into harm.) "You're at least sticking to the facts this time?"

"Tobacco ash," John corrects mildly.

"Fairy tales." Sherlock counters, not really listening anymore.


Wake Sherlock, says the glass pane that houses the crown jewels before Moriarty smashes it. Three of them in an enclosed space. One bullet. A semtex vest. And now this.

Staying alive.

John doesn't get it yet, and John's the only thing that matters. He's not sure he wants John to see, so he plays along.

He shouldn't be the star witness at Moriarty's trial. There's no reason for it. There should be more than enough evidence without him. They have video. They have the phone. He's unnecessary. Superfluous.

Jim Moriarty seeks his gaze and mimes a child going to sleep.


"You look sad when you think he can't see you." Molly Hooper says. "Are you okay?"

"No." Sherlock closes his eyes. "And I don't think he's okay either."


He can't feel the wind on his cheeks. Moriarty has that smirk on his face. "Figured it out then, Sherlock? I mean you should have figured it out a long time ago. I've known how it happens for months." (Three men, a swimming pool, a bomb)

"Of course. Trivial."

"The why haven't we jumped yet? It's just like fairy tales. We'll fly off into the sunset. Have us a proper happy ending. What's stopping you?"

"John..." Sherlock says. He has faith in his brain, in his ability to replicate details, the invent cases, but to replicate John. That's something he doesn't think he can do.

"John? Oh that's good. You haven't ended this because of your little pet. What happens to John if you're wrong?" Moriarty drums his fingers on his knee. "John dies if you're wrong, Sherlock. You might die too."

Irrelevant. From their positions in the pool, John had a statistically better chance of survival. Sherlock's chances are null if John doesn't make it. The phantom weight of John's borrowed gun sits in his hands. He can feel his fingers curling around the trigger. He's never observed a bombing first hand before, but he abhors the results, chaotic, unimaginative, dull. The headiness that comes with carbon monoxide (incomplete combustion; even nature has its lazy days), makes him feel slow.

The explosion itself though, chemistry in action. He has to think he would remember that. (Can he remember that? Catalyzed reaction with free radical propagation. Light first then sound, then heat. John screaming his name, his own through raw as well, there is no way to be dignified in the midst of an inferno.)

The sun's shining, but Sherlock can't feel the warmth. There's been at least a year of winter.

When he blinks, Moriarty is still in front of him. "So this is our problem, our final problem. Do you think we're doing it, Sherlock. Do you think we're staying alive? Do you think we're here, on this rooftop, or do you think we're in the pool. I was always rather fond of the smell of burning flesh. Is this our afterlife, yours and mine?"

"Not you," Sherlock says. "Can't be you. Because you're me. Not a figment, just a facet."

"Oh. That's interesting!" Moriarty's face twists into surprise (cherish it) and he leans in closer. "Then I've just got one more question for you, Sherlock Holmes: are you sure?"

Jim Moriarty smirks and eats his own gun.


There is blood on his hands. He can feel it. Slick and warm. His hands are shaking and he's dizzy and he's not sure.

(In an abandoned swimming pool, three men stand around a bomb. Sherlock looks to John. John nods.

Sherlock pulls the trigger.

He rings John.


"It wasn't real," Sherlock says. "I made it all up. No one can be that clever."

"You can," John says.

How can he not be here? How can he not understand? Sherlock hasn't eaten anything in a month. Hasn't seen any ill effects except for the world trying to tear him down. Is it even possible that John can be here too?

"You look but you don't observe," Sherlock tells him. "You said it yourself. We're living in a fairy tale."

John will figure it out. John will put the pieces together. There is a sniper somewhere, one of Moriarty's snipers who will probably solve this final problem for him. But there's that nagging voice that whispers, what if you're wrong?

If he's wrong and he doesn't jump, he will never see John again. If he's right—if he's right there's a chance. "Listen to me very carefully. This is not a sham, not a hoax. I designed those crimes as sure as I solved them. There's only one solution. We've been dreaming for a long time, John. If you'll still have me, I'll see you when we wake up."

The pavement feels like a splash.


(In an empty hospital room, there are two men strapped into traction. The heart monitors beat together, out of rhythm but not out of synch.)

(no subject)

19/2/12 18:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Well, that's an idea that I hadn't heard yet. I like it. This has a wonderful dreamy feel that makes it all seem very possible. Thank you.

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:05 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Glad I could put a new spin on it!. Thanks for reading.

(no subject)

19/2/12 19:15 (UTC)
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] swissmarg
(sorry, replied to the above comment first instead of making a new one)

Ooh, creepy! That's a great twist. I like how you never stated outright what the premise is, but let us figure it out through Sherlock's thoughts. I especially like this line for some reason: Jim Moriarty smirks and eats his own gun. It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland (don't ask me why), which I think is appropriate in a way.

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
(No worries. Happens to the best of us)

Thanks for the kind words!

(no subject)

19/2/12 20:49 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Wow, that was an intriguing read!! What a clever and original idea! This was so suspenseful and strange - I always had the feeling something was very off, but couldn't put a finger to it before Sherlock did.

Wow. This goes straight to my memories. Thanks for sharing! :-)

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading.

(no subject)

19/2/12 22:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This reminds me a lot of Inception? Intentionally?
Really great take on it though!

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

I was more than a but drunk when I watched Inception, I don't remember most of it. If this rings of Inception, it was not intentional.

(no subject)

20/2/12 00:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This is great! It kinda reminded me of the life on mars finale.

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:08 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Seems I wasn't the only person thinking of LOM when Sherlock was on the roof. =)

Glad you liked it!

(no subject)

20/2/12 00:25 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I loved this fic - great twist on it!

Random question - is the Cinderella reference from something in the show, or is it just a random fairy tale worked in? I've had a working theory for the last episode that ended up having Cinderella pop up for no reason I could understand, so if there is actually a connection, I'd love to know it!

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Cinderella was random, not from the show. Now I'm crazy curious about your theory though!

(Thank you so much for reading!)

(no subject)

22/2/12 00:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Aw, darn - you had my hopes up!

I had thought that IOU might have been a book code from the Grimm Fairy Tales Moriarty sent Sherlock, using a simple alphabet code, where each letter corresponds to one of the numbered stories you can see in the index when Sherlock flips through the book. For the first two letters, it works perfect - in the first story, the villain ruins the main character's reputation, then the second story is Hansel and Gretel, but then the third works out to Cinderella and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how it could fit, so I'm guessing I must be wrong.

Although now it's apparently popping up other places and my brain's all like, "BAD WOLF". Too much Doctor Who for me. ;)
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
One of these days the true LOM AU will happen: My name is Sherlock Holmes. I jumped off a building and landed in Victorian London. I'm clearly not mad so I'm either in a coma or I've slipped through a hole in space and time and landed in a parallel universe. Dull. Then he bros out with Victorian Watson and bemoans the lack of smart phones.

But, I digress. Thank you so much for reading!

(no subject)

20/2/12 13:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
ooooh the it was all just a dream scenario! I like. I like a lot.

(no subject)

20/2/12 22:02 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Your stuff always has such great twists.

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:16 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Heh. Glad I can provide. =)

(no subject)

21/2/12 02:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That was awesome... almost a Sherlock/Life on Mars mash-up, and they're definitely two great tastes that taste great together. I loved the slow reveal on what's actually going on and Sherlock's uncertainty even until the end. I'd love to see a follow-up too but it's so perfect where you've ended it. Just awesome. :)

(no subject)

21/2/12 17:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
This one is a less overt LOM mash-up than it could have been. I may one day write the fic where Sherlock jumps and wakes up in 1883, meets Victorian!Watson and then invents all forensic science. Yes. Because its starting to seem like no one is going to bite from where I prompted it on the meme.

Glad you enjoyed the story!

(no subject)

23/2/12 05:48 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
OMFG. If you do I will have your babies. Or possibly express my thanks in a less creepy way.

(no subject)

22/2/12 09:24 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
First I thought, Sherlock was some supernatural being, then I thought Inception.
Watch it again, mindfuckery of the best kind and really very reminiscent of what you wrote here.

(no subject)

8/3/12 02:51 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I have watched it since this and am really a bit meh on the whole inception thing. The concepts are cool as hell but the actual characters bore me to sleep. Whatever.

Thank you so much for reading!

(no subject)

8/3/12 05:44 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hehe, so THAT's what I didn't like about the movie. Thanks for putting it into words for me. I agree absolutely. And I just meant the concept in regards to your story.

(no subject)

1/3/12 22:42 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Great fic, reminding me strongly of the LoM finale. Well done!

Btw, LoM and Sherlock are two of my top three all-time favourite British series (the third one is DW), so this was a double pleasure for me to read. :)

(no subject)

8/3/12 02:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Heh, if you add Merlin to that list, I share all of your BBC loves. =) I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this!


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