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Bullpup Press
A Creative-Writing House

Ch. 1    Ch. 2    Ch. 3    Ch. 4    Ch. 5    Ch. 6    Ch. 7    Ch. 8    Ch. 9    Ch. 10    Ch. 11    Ch. 12    Ch. 13    Ch. 14    Ch. 15    Ch. 16    Ch. 17    Ch. 18    Ch. 19    Ch. 20    Epilog

Event Horizon: Chapter 13


Carole Manny & Lynn Walker

Sherlock looked up from his computer when he heard the front door slam with more than the usual force, and an instant later the alcove door received the same treatment. Mrs. Hudson, who in any case didn't slam doors, hadn't gone out. Clients rang first, after which they likewise failed to slam the doors. The stairs were taken two at a time, but not at a run: John was on his way up and from the sound of it he wasn't happy.

"What's happened?" Sherlock asked when John reached the landing and stood there glaring.

"Not a thing. Except for the part where I just spent the last two hours at Thames House getting sweated by MI5."


"They picked me up at the damned clinic, Sherlock," John said loudly. "I was with a patient. It was embarrassing as hell."

"What did they want?"

"They wanted to know if I owned a handgun. Had one in an evidence bag. Sat me down in one of their little interrogation rooms and asked if I'd seen it before."

"And had you?"

"How the hell should I know?" John cried. "It was a nine millimetre Browning, but I didn't write my name on it. They all look alike, you know, and without comparing the serial number there's no way to tell."

"The army would know the serial number of the gun it issued you. Therefore either MI5 didn't bother to ask them or it wasn't really your gun, or it was your gun and they were trying to get you to incriminate yourself."

"Yeah," John said impatiently, "I figured that out."

"What did you tell them?"

"Nothing. Not a damned thing. Said if they weren't arresting me then I had nothing to say, and if they were arresting me I definitely had nothing to say. Talk to my lawyer. You know."


"Yeah, well, two hours out of my life and thirty-two threats to my licence to practise later, the boss comes in and says there's been a big mix-up, it's all good, and I'm free to go. Oh, and did I want a ride back to work? What the hell, Sherlock? No one knows I own that gun except you and Mycroft."

"Magnussen saw it," Sherlock said thoughtfully, "but he doesn't know which of us it belongs to, and besides, phoning MI5's not really his style. Mycroft's security detail saw it, too, but he has ways of ensuring their silence. You're sure it was a Browning, same model as yours?"


"It's unlikely that MI5 would try to link a handgun to you and just luck into using a Browning. It's not that common a manufacturer. More likely they had the information fed to them, and it probably really was your gun."

"Well, if it's not Magnussen and not the security detail, the only other person who knows it's my gun is Mycroft. So this is his crap?"

Sherlock answered with another question. "Did they fingerprint you?"

"No. Why?"

"If they didn't bother to get your prints it's because the gun's been wiped and they had nothing to match. Assuming it really was your gun, and assuming that Mycroft was using you to send a message to me without intending you to really end up in prison, he'd have wiped the gun first."

"I knew it," John growled, turning to go. "This is going to end now."

"John, wait."

"Forget it, Sherlock. Do not try to talk me out of this."

"Talk you out of it? I want to watch."

Obscurely, John was looking forward to the confrontation. The strain of carrying on a deception with no discernible end date was fraying his temper, and that strain was magnified by his daily proximity to Mary, a constant reminder of what he'd lost-or more accurately was deceived into thinking that he had. So he was ready to blow off a little steam in any case, and his conviction that Mycroft's outsized influence on Sherlock was largely to blame for making Sherlock desperate enough to attempt murder made Mycroft an appealing target on which to work out.

Mycroft looked up from his work when they entered, unannounced and unwelcome. Behind the desk with a file in her hands stood Anthea, and she glanced at her boss with a tacit inquiry: Should she have them put out? But he gave a dismissive flick of his hand and she glided away.

John was already leaning over the desk, both hands gripping the edge as though it was the only thing preventing him from reaching across and throttling Mycroft. Sherlock posted himself a step behind John and to his left. If John swung at his brother he'd most likely do it left-handed.

"Do come in," Mycroft said sarcastically, eyeing them both coldly.

"You think that's clever, do you?" John began. "Sending your goons after me at work? Hm? Embarrassing me in front of my patients? Showing me my licence is only as safe as you decide it is?"

"Dr. Watson," Mycroft said. "If you'd be so kind as to explain yourself. Until then I'm afraid I have no-"

"Bullshit!" John shouted, punching the desk for emphasis and making the phone handset rattle in its cradle. "You think you're untouchable? Sitting here manipulating people like pieces on your personal chessboard? All your little pawns, afraid of you? Well let me tell you something, you insufferable prick: I. Am not. Afraid. Of you. The people you work for think you're invincible. Everyone in this room knows you're not."

Sherlock stood silently, closely watching them both. His brother was about to get into it with John and Sherlock knew that was a bad idea. "Mycroft," he warned.

Mycroft didn't give a flicker to show that he heard. He didn't shout back. After all, the desk was between them and he couldn't conceive of John climbing over it after him. And John wasn't the only one in the room with a grudge. "I believe Charles Magnussen explained to you my brother's pressure point?" he said, still with his habitual urbanity. "There's so little I can really do to shape his behaviour, and reverse psychology only goes so far."

"I know why you did it, you arsehole," John growled.

"Do you? Because if you think I did it to express my extreme outrage over you two idiots prying into the intensely private business of Lady Ruffner, think again. You have no idea what you're playing at with Magnussen-"

"I don't give a damn!"

"Start!" Mycroft shouted, suddenly sitting up and leaning forward. If he startled John it didn't show: John didn't react except to lean farther forward, and he was near to baring his teeth. "Start giving a damn, Dr. Watson, because you may not be afraid of me, but I most certainly am not afraid of you, and if I give the word MI5 will match that gun to you and you will spend the next seven to ten years in a prison cell being unafraid of me at your leisure. I have a nation to protect and neither you nor my dear little brother is going to interfere with that. Making people bleed isn't the only way to defend a country, Doctor."

"You're a patriot, now," John said bitterly. "The future of England depends on you caving to Magnussen, does it? Is that how the cleverest man in the hemisphere has arranged things? Because that doesn't look like genius-level planning to me."

"Sherlock can't recognize 'genius-level planning' when he sees it," Mycroft replied scornfully. "Do you really think there's any hope for you?"

"Let me tell you what I recognize," John said. "I recognize that you're protecting Magnussen instead of helping us stop him. I recognize that you're doing that even though you know how far it drove him to go." Pointed at Sherlock. "I recognize that you'd rather watch your brother swing for murder than do anything about the man who's driving him to it!"

"You're the man who's driving him to it," Mycroft snarled. "Let's play 'imagine,' shall we, Doctor? Let's imagine that you didn't fall for and marry a serial-killing sociopath with enemies from here to Beijing who has drawn you into the line of the retaliatory fire that's waiting for her. Let us then speculate on just how far my brother would be willing to go to destroy Charles Magnussen. If it weren't for you-"

"It is for him," Sherlock interrupted, breaking his silence, and Mycroft glanced at him. John did not: He never took his eyes off Mycroft. "This is your one warning, brother dear: You will leave John out of your machinations or tomorrow's news cycle will feature my interview explaining your 'favor' to the countess as nothing more than a cynical political move to advance your career. That should effectively wipe out the residual sentiment she still feels for you, don't you think?"

Mycroft knew perfectly well what he was going to reveal by not daring his brother to do it, but…God help him: Would he ever stop acting irrationally over that woman? He put his hands up in an 'I concede' gesture. "Very well. Dr. Watson: Consider yourself out of play."

"Consider yourself lucky," John snapped, and stalked out.

Mycroft turned his anger on his brother. "Well, now you know. Is that why you came? To get confirmation?"

"I came to stop him damaging you."

"How familial," Mycroft sneered.

"Oh, it wasn't for your sake," Sherlock said. "It was for his." And as he paused at the door, "Family is who earns it, Mycroft."

– End Chapter 13 –

Ch. 1    Ch. 2    Ch. 3    Ch. 4    Ch. 5    Ch. 6    Ch. 7    Ch. 8    Ch. 9    Ch. 10    Ch. 11    Ch. 12    Ch. 13    Ch. 14    Ch. 15    Ch. 16    Ch. 17    Ch. 18    Ch. 19    Ch. 20    Epilog

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