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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 8


Carole Manny & Lynn Walker

They did not pursue the topic again that day. It was time they could ill-afford to waste, but there was nothing for it, Sherlock knew: John had to be clear in his own mind about both the necessity and the viability of the plan and he had to resolve his doubts and anger to his own satisfaction. To push him before he arrived there in his own time would be counterproductive at best.

The next morning, however, when John reached coffee, Sherlock stepped over to him with a sheet of yellow notepaper in his hand.

"What's that?" John asked, looking up.

"Your script."

"My what?"

Sherlock handed it to him and John unfolded the page, on which were a few lines written in Sherlock's graceful, decided hand.

"I've thought long and hard about what I want to say to you. These are prepared words,

Mary. I've chosen these words with care. The problems of your past are your business.

The problems of your future are my privilege. That's all I have to say. That's all I need

to know."

Sherlock lowered himself into the chair across from him and watched his face cloud with anger as he read. It took just a few seconds before John looked up, and Sherlock wasn't surprised to read pain in his eyes, as well. "John," he said quickly. "Before you say anything at all, listen."

John clapped his mouth shut and nodded tersely.

"Mary believed everything I told her the night of the domestic and everything I've told her since because it's been true-in one sense. For this to work you have to do the same. You will not lie to her. What you say to her has to be true to you. Do you understand?"

John glanced down and read the lines again. Sherlock never did anything without a reason. Even the brevity of the little speech was designed for the specific purpose of minimizing John's risk of exposure as a liar. And just as Sherlock said, the words were true: He had thought long and hard about what he wanted to say to her. These were prepared words chosen with care. Like one of those brain-teaser drawings that could be seen two ways depending on what the viewer focused on, this little paragraph contained a deeper truth than the one Mary would hear. The problems of your future are my privilege. John had no idea what Sherlock had planned for Mary nor what it implied for himself, but working beside Sherlock Holmes had always been his privilege, and whatever Sherlock was doing it was going to be a problem for Mary.

"Tell me something," he said.


"'The problems of her past.' Wouldn't all this go away if…Shouldn't we just go to MI6 or the CIA?"

"Is that what you want?" Sherlock asked.

John just glared at him. "Yeah, that's funny," he said.

Sherlock looked at him warily: pretty sure that was sarcasm. "Sorry?"

"'Is that what I want?' I didn't want to leave the army. I didn't want my best friend to kill himself in front of me. I didn't want my wife to be a serial killer. There's a lot of things I haven't wanted, Sherlock, and people keep deciding them for me anyway. Suddenly this is in my hands? Okay. Then yeah: I think we should contact the CIA and get out of it."

Sherlock shook his head. "You and I know that she killed those people in Russia. The Russian mafia knows it. Sutko and his contacts know it. But who's going to testify to it? Would you?"

"I…" John thought it through. Yes, he knew it. But he couldn't prove it. His testimony in court or even his word to the CIA would be worthless. He looked up. "I know she shot you."

"But you can't prove it, and I won't testify to it."

"Why the bloody hell-"

"Because it would be a death sentence for her," Sherlock said impatiently, "and for you. I told you: If Magnussen believes she's no longer a link in the chain of influence that leads to Mycroft, you'll become his primary focus. I won't let that happen. And think about it: Once Mary's on the radar of any government agency they're going to start asking questions about her and about her background. Fingerprinting. Matching those fingerprints. Her real identity will be confirmed and when that happens it's just a matter of time before it gets out to her enemies. She won't be safe from them even in prison. You might think she belongs there, but can you honestly say that you want to see her dead?"

John's throat was so tight he could scarcely get the words out. "Of course not."

"I'm sorry that it has to be this way, John. I am. But all the objections you're raising have already occurred to me. If there were another way to improve our odds I would take it. There's not."

John gave up. It was idiotic for him to think that he was going to see a better way out of this morass if Sherlock hadn't seen it already. He looked up, met Sherlock's eyes, and answered the question he'd originally asked. "I understand."


As his first task John was required to get the words off by heart. That, it turned out, was the easy part, because next came reciting them aloud to Sherlock. Face to face. Repeatedly. Every hour. Day after day, until even Sherlock could find nothing but sincerity in John's voice and expression. At first it was embarrassing to stand there as the detective peered intently into his face, searching for and pouncing on the most subtle, involuntary reveals-pupil dilation, the pulse in his throat, how often he blinked per unit of time-reveals that required John not just to say the words but to believe them entirely.

Embarrassing, at first, then irritating as time passed but Sherlock's demands that he rehearse carried on unabated. Finally came gratitude: In part because it was over and he'd been able to stand facing Mary for the first time in three months and pass the test; and in part because she reacted exactly as Sherlock predicted that she would: tearfully, with vast relief. Not, John understood by then, because she thought he forgave her, but because he'd just put himself back under her control. All those months she'd invested in him for an end he couldn't conceive of hadn't been wasted. John was grateful that Sherlock armoured him against her reaction, because as cold and empty as he felt toward her, those tears would have shaken him to the core.

Just two hours later he wished to God that Sherlock had armoured him against far more than a few tears.

– End Chapter 8 –

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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