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Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows-When Gravity Had Seldom Mercy

amazing_spider-man_renew_your_vows_vol_1_1_ant-sized_variant

WHEN GRAVITY HAD SELDOM MERCY

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

TEN YEARS EARLIER

In dreams, you can fly.

For Peter Parker, his entire adult life had been the personification of that dream

Soaring high above the city in his guise as Spider-Man, swinging with almost no cares for the world below.

Almost no cares.

And then the realization dawned on him as he swung past the Empire State Building.

His favourite spot to be with his favourite person.

A person he’d been left waiting back at the Coffee Bean for the better part of two and a half hours.

That’s the price you pay for engaging in a less than pacy pursuit with an aging Adrian Tooms.

Peter threw every bit of energy he hadn’t spent yet in making it back to the Coffee Bean, only to find it had closed up for the night.

Changing back into his civvies in the cold brisk February evening at the back of the alleyway didn’t do much for his dignity, but at least it wasn’t going to shred it.

Peter took his trusty bike and drove back down the road that stretched back to Queens, where he caught sight of his favourite Aunt talking to his favourite person. Mary Jane Watson.

He drove up and hastily got off the bike to meet her as she caught sight of him and tried to put some distance between them. Peter wasn’t about to let her go, not without giving her an apt opportunity to pounce on him.

He loved it when she displayed some temper.

“MJ, I am so sorry” he said

“Save it. Flash took me home. In a car”

“What’s wrong with my bike?” Peter asked

“More to the point, what’s wrong with you Tiger?” MJ asked, pointing at his chest with a sharp finger.

Peter thought on his feet. “I made a promise to someone” he said

“Another one?”

Peter nodded

“Did you let them down too?”

Peter’s mind raced back to the socialite who’s valuables were stolen by Tooms, and during the scuffle between him and The Vulture, the crook had dropped the valuables down a chimney.

“I kinda did, yeah, I’m not going to start lying”

Now anyway” MJ said.

“Yeah” Peter remarked.

Mary Jane sighed.

“Look Pete, you and I…I don’t think it’s working out”

“You want to talk about working out? I’ve got this killer gym membership…”

Not the time for jokes Pete” MJ said, cutting him off.

“The only good timing I have is comic timing”

“See, that’s the hardest thing about this…’cause you make me laugh so much” MJ replied.

“Best medicine that” Peter replied.

“Flash advised me to read you the riot act..but I just can’t do it. I don’t think your mental reality can take stark reality…and I don’t think I could do without your kind of crazy”

“At least here sanity prevails” Peter said, taking MJ’s hand in his and gently kissing the tip of it.

“Something always comes up with you. The important thing is you always try to make up for it…and that’s the kind of promise you can do with keeping…because one day you may want to make an even bigger promise”

Peter glanced up at the night sky

“Look” he said

MJ turned her head and stared upwards, they both fixated their gaze on the sparkling moon above.

“That’s what I promise you. Every time. Every moment I spend with you, night and day, you take me there…one day, I promise, they’ll be no limit to where we can go”

TEN YEARS LATER

In dreams, you can fly.

In life, you land hard

And ten years ago, gravity seldom had mercy.

As Peter hung on for dear life as The Vulture soared through the city, through a crisp February night, Peter’s webbing tagged to his right foot, he thought how far things had come in the past decade, he couldn’t help but think of that night, and what he had promised.

He stared upwards at the moon above and wondered if this would be the last time he’d be taken there.

And then another strand of webbing attached itself to the Vulture’s left foot, and out of nowhere a vicious red-headed vixen was propelled from the nearby rooftops and joined Spidey in flight.

“Hey Tiger, what’s up?” said MJ as she crawled upwards and reached out towards the back of the bag attached to Toom’s back, pulling out the jewellery he had stolen from yet another socialite. She tucked it neatly into a small satchel at her right side.

“Hey, I made a promise I’d hand that back” said Peter.

“Oh let me hand it back Tiger, after all, we share all our promises”

Beneath the mask he wore, Peter’s face beamed with pride.

Behind the mask MJ wore, her eyes sparked with affection and love.

As Spider-Man and his wife Spinneret clung to The Vulture and soared elegantly across the sky, they elected to give the brash bird of prey an additional few minutes of great struggle just to take in the exquisite sight of the moon high above them.

Watching them from afar from a nearby window was their daughter, Annie May, in the midst of getting changed for bed as it was a school night, she was slightly perplexed at why it was taking them so long to apprehend Adrian.

She glanced upwards and spotted the cause.

“Oh great, full moon, that means everyone’s going stir crazy” she said with a groan, the significance of the sight all but lost on her naive adolescent sense of self.

When she came of age, she would come to understand.

To her, the moon was a conventional wonder of the world.

To her parents, it represented a grand promise.

In the past her mother had taken her father there on many an occasion when he felt like gravity had no mercy.

But now that they were together, in sickness, health, power, and responsibility, there was no limit to where they could go.

Bob’s Burgers-The End Is The Beginning

belchers

 

BOB’S BURGERS

THE END IS THE BEGINNING

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

(Contains Spoilers For “Bob Actually”)

As Louise received the hot tag from Ollie as the game of tag intensified, she knew that her role on the playground as of this moment was to be the personification of unparalleled terror.

The other kids knew just how devious she could be at administrating her own take on a tag. It wouldn’t just come up with a light prodding of her finger upon a part of the body. Oh no.

It would come with a tackle, a trust, a harsh cold slap across the cheek. It would be physical, it would be painful.

She was usually not in the business of dealing with the pleasantries of playtime. Louise Belcher was all about injecting a dose of chaos into the more tranquil activities during school hours.

After all, to her School was very trying. Why should anyone work off their stress when said stress would just start mounting up again as soon as they re-entered the classroom?

The kids scattered in all directions, except Andy and Ollie, who desired Louise to tag them so they could selfishly keep the game all to themselves, tagging one another until eternity caved in. Louise ignored them and pursued others on the playground.

Ultimately, though she stopped in her track.

Every world she paid attention to, the ones centred on the game, the playground, and the stress all caved in as she saw a solemn figure on one of the swings nearby, nimbly swaying back and forth and humming a faint little melody to himself.

Louise could faintly make it out. It was The Right Stuff from New Kids On The Block.

She only knew about that from the kind of music listened to by the father of her best friend.

She walked over to the boy on the swings, perched herself on the swing next to him and nudged him on the shoulder

“Hey buddy, what’s got you down?” she asked Rudy.

“Oh hey Louise, I was just thinking about life…and life, life again, ’till I’m kind of full of it”

“C’mon, life’s always kicking you in your perfect teeth, do me a favour and bite it right back” Louise replied.

“Oh I will…someone has to. I just wish it had been my third cousin”

“What happened with him?” Louise asked.

“He died this morning.”

Louise shuddered as a chill coursed through her veins.

“Major apologies man, death’s a kicker”

“Guess I’ll be using your poem for the funeral” Rudy replied, referring to the one she had written for their class project

“Hey, no, that’s morbid, you’re the guy that brings spoons to a gunfight, ready to make breakfast out of things that are hard to swallow, you can write something much better than that” Louise replied.

“Maybe I could talk a little about the disease he was fighting, how it made him a little desperate to die, but that he wanted everyone to go on living. He thought so selflessly…makes you wish we were all like that”

“Hey, living takes effort, especially with the low-lives you wind up having to put up with”

“Yeah, we’ve all had our fair share” Rudy spoke in agreement.

“Hey Belcher, get back in the game” snapped one obese kid on the playground as the two remained seated at the swings.

“Your tag is gonna come hard and heavy lardo” Louise retorted. Rudy laughed, then gasped for breath, Louise quickly rummaged through his pockets and gave him his inhaler.

“Thanks” he said, “You always bring me back from the brink of death”

“Hey, it’s me, the girl who breathed life into you on valentine’s day, you can always trust me to keep you going” Louise replied.

“I was thinking…if I ever got the same disease my cousin had, at any point, I’d like you to make the call on whether I should live or not.”

Louise tried to keep herself composed, she wasn’t the best at dealing with raw emotional dilemmas

“Are all your bat stir crazy breathing problems affecting your brain? Don’t ever ask me to do something like that Rudy ” she said

“You’re a cool cat Louise, there’d be no pressure with you” Rudy assured her.

“Yeah, but it’d mean letting you off life’s leash, I’d sooner reserve that for jerk offs like Logan”

“You said you’d end me, I’m holding you to that”

“That was only if you ever told anyone I kissed you” Louise whispered, not wanting anyone to hear her.

“Belcher, come on” cried out another kid as everyone scattered across the playground became restless with their impatience.

“Maybe it’s best you go play, don’t worry about me”

“I like worrying about you buddy…besides, you’re it”

Rudy suddenly remembered that when Louise had nudged him earlier, she was still playing the game, even though she had brought no terror to his doorstep.

He smiled, and nudged her back.

“You’ve still got it” he said, and darted off.

“Ah, so you DO want me to end you. Tell you what Rudy…in this situation, I can arrange all manner of methods I can satisfy your demand”

“Come and kill me” said Rudy.

Elated to be free of a moral dilemma that was best left to their adult days, Louise shot like a bullet towards Rudy as he darted around the other kids, who likewise took off, thinking Louise would eventually target them.

Louise had other plans, she knew Rudy would take her one step beyond her usual spots, he would let her pursue him across all other layers of the school he was accustomed to visiting, and she hoped that when he ran out of breath, they would be in a place so secure she would have the opportunity to once more breathe life into him as their lips came together once more.

For him, she was Alpha and Omega. The beginning, and the end.

And for her that end would only lead to the beginning.

Bob’s Burgers-The Living End

belchers

BOB’S BURGERS

THE LIVING END

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

(This contains spoilers for “Bob Actually”)


“Louise honey, did you finish your poem for school yet?” Linda asked her youngest daughter.

“Not yet Mom” Louise replied.

“Let me know when you have” Linda said.

Louise had struggled all week to come up with something for her school project, the challenge was to write a poem based on the themes of mortality, death and grief, and it had to come from the heart. Conveniently enough, there had been some inspiration for her recently.

“How’s the funeral coming along?” Louise asked of her mother.

“Oh you know how your father is with relatives of a friend, he’ll want to be the designated driver”

“Of the hearse I hope”

“Don’t be silly dear, his pals will all be encouraged to give their dearly departed a spiked salute, once that’s done they’ll be in no state to drive, so your father will be taking them all home”

“Ah he ought to give them all a hellfire ride downtown, put them all in a death-defying mood”

“Oh honey, breaking the law afterwards isn’t going to take anything off the mind of your father before he arrives there”

“Why not?”

“He thinks he’s obligated to give some sort of a speech…it’s funny because he really didn’t know too well, either that or too much time has passed and his memories of spending time with him have lapsed”

“A real trip down amnesia lane huh?”

“Yeah, it’s a shame, there’s so many things that you think you’ll treasure forever, but the passage of time really leaves you out of touch sometimes”

Louise resumed work on her poem. Eventually, she printed it out and showed it to her mother, who approved of it in the obligatory prideful manner that most moms would, and sent Louise off on her way to school.

As she walked down the street, she carefully read the poem aloud to herself

“Death is a stinkhold

I tell you no lies

Once it’s applied

You’ll do nothing but cry”

Louise thought long and hard about what brought her to convey such thoughts to paper, a frightful situation experienced by the brave soul that was her brother Gene, stepping in to take the feared move on behalf of his terrified sister at the hands of her nemesis Logan, one of few men she had ever shed a tear in front of.

A humiliating moment that had brought a disquiet to her feisty soul.

As she mulled over her poem, she suddenly bumped into someone walking up towards her. Just as she was about to fall backwards and hit the concrete, this person reached out and grabbed her by the arm, propelling her forward and preventing her from collapsing.

Louise stared up at her rescuer. Regular Sized Rudy, his face still bearing a red hot handprint, Louise’s handprint, from their fateful valentine’s day encounter.

“Hey slugger, thanks for keeping me off the concrete” she said

“You going to shake my hand with that one, or shatter my face with it this time?” Rudy asked, pointing to her hand that he had clasped in his own.

Louise smiled, and swiftly shook it.

“You got your poem ready for school?” he asked.

“Sure do, come on, let’s exchange” Louise suggested.

The two did so, Rudy reading Louise’s out first.

“That’s a killer” he said

“Well it fits the theme don’t it?” said Louise, swiftly turning her attention to Rudy’s poem

It’s a very different sort of dark

When we deal with the loss of light

The moments we reflect most fondly on

Are our courage in the fight

As time takes eternal steps ahead

And as we move as one with it

We pray our kindest days before

Provide us with due credit

We reflect, we rise, we raise a toast

As winter turns to spring

A little early to call on the sun

But these times demand we sing

We close our eyes, we let our day slip

We know this procedure all too well

What we take from it is a moment

Where we realize there’s still much more to tell

The stories, the legends, the place souls lost to us hold

Our minds, our hearts, our spirits soar

As love decays grief’s pure cold

Louise was taken aback. The poem was elegant, beautifully composed, and above all else, hopeful.

“Do you mind if I use your poem?”

“For class? Sure I guess, least I can do for that kiss you gave me” said Rudy.

“No, not for class, my Dad needs some A-material to read at a funeral”

“Sure, if you think it’ll bring some life to that kind of party”

Louise gave Rudy’s face a tender stroke with the hand she had used to slap him

“When it comes to planting a note of dignity on death little buddy, you’re what I’d call the living end”

The other side of Rudy’s face began to beam as red as his other side as another kiss graced his lips and the merciless hand of Louise thrust itself upon his features.

 

Sherlock-The Losing Side

180

 

SHERLOCK:

THE LOSING SIDE

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

(Contains spoilers for “The Final Problem”)


It was a casket. That’s all it was, all it needed to be.

A simple wooden casket, inanimate distraction for the three lively souls inhabiting an otherwise cold and barren room.

But everyone stops looking after three.

“It’s funny how little God or whatever authors all our pain in life cares about death these days, recordings of Mary from beyond, recordings of me from beyond, you just wish someone would learn to lie still in one of these” emitted a composed, sophisticated yet slightly unhinged voice from behind Sherlock. The Detective looked around him, John and Mycroft both stood ridged, not moving, staring completely beyond him, like he didn’t matter.

Sherlock turned to his right and found James Moriarty standing beside him, carving out an apple with a jagged knife.

“What are you doing here?” Sherlock asked of his nemesis.

“I’m precious” he said.

“To me? Because I’ve obsessed myself with every move you’ve ever made in this game?”

“Oh you’re not done yet with that are you?” Moriarty asked, “Do learn to move on, we’re past caring about the moves I’ve made, they’ve never been mine to make to begin with”

Sherlock deduced they were in his mind palace, his rapid fire mind indulging in the precious moments spent in between two extreme expressions of his rarely seen emotional range. The former was still taking the time to process, the latter sat there simmering, waiting for release, a release that would only come with full acceptance of the former.

It was in these precious few moments that Moriarty had taken the opportunity to conjure up himself, or rather, that Sherlock had chosen Moriarty to symbolize an ever increasing array of reactions and responses.

“It’s all up there Sherlock” Moriarty continued “Your paranoia, you believe so highly in your aspirations of godhood, you think the most biblical of things can still find a way to manifest on this plane of existence”

“What are you to this situation? And I don’t just mean what’s going on there…I meant, this moment, what do you mean to THIS moment?”

“I’ve been so underlooked in this little triangle haven’t I?” Moriarty said in a sly, taunting manner, taking a bite out of the apple, several worms wriggling through its core, he took one out of the centre and gently slipped it into his mouth.

“You remember don’t you? The night we met, you summed me up in one agonizing word, and it dashed all her fantasies. I was precious alright, but not to you Sherlock, oh no…”

“Stop it” Sherlock said.

“I was precious to her. Three times we went out after you called me gay, three pleasant little dates, but no attempt was made at second base, she listened to you after that. You ruined her big chance, but she still followed your judgement. She thought you knew best. Mothers know best you know that?”

“If you have a point to make, do try to draw it out so I can keep it together” Sherlock replied.

“Oh, would you rather you give that order, or would you prefer the soldiers at your side to do so?” Moriarty asked, pointing to Mycroft and John as they headed towards the room’s freshly unlocked exit.

“What makes you think you can hold it together? You can’t, that’s why I’m here, to finally follow up on my promise all those years ago back at that pool”

Sherlock’s fist tightened as he stared at the casket. His temper began to rise, he had only seconds left, but the recesses of his mind palace stretched time out further. He had to maintain control of the web he was at the centre of.

He would not permit Moriarty to win.

“Remember that promise? That I would burn the heart out of you?”

“I made a promise too…a vow, and while I may have stumbled in attempting to honour it, I intend to further my commitment to it, so you see I have to maintain control, I cannot give into the losing side” Sherlock continued.

Moriarty laughed.

“Ah yes, changing the goalposts, trying to bring it all back around to the science of emotion, chemical defects, the works. Easy to see why you would, I mean, a man made of your kind of metal can’t possibly have a heart can he?” Moriarty continued, spitting part of the apple back into the detective’s face.

“Unless you strip away that armour, all that you were, all that you hid behind, and force yourself to hand all of your needs over to someone else, someone who’d seen you for all you were, and still wanted you to have all of her. There isn’t a single scientific deduction or evaluation that can dictate that course of action Sherlock, that can only come from the soul”

“Enough” Sherlock urged the grim spectre of his nemesis as he nudged him even further.

“And even when you went into hiding, even when you went deep underground, even as you buried yourself, she threw herself into the world trying to move forward, only to keep coming up short. She latched on to fianc├ęs who she dropped at a moment’s notice because you were back in her life, you had taken her as an assistant, spent it on a couple of dates you usually reserve for John. Oh he must have been jealous, lord knows you thought about it enough times…”

“I picked her because I respect her, I appreciated what she did, I did it because she counted for something in the end…”

“Who knows where’d it’d have all led if you hadn’t noticed that ring on her finger, but then, you made your move on her anyway. A gentle brush against her cheek, enough to send her into so many thoughts of inadequacy and guilt, knowing she’d opted for someone so much less than you…”

“I didn’t realize…how could I? She gave no signals, there was no way of knowing if she felt…”

“..The same?” Moriarty continued.

Sherlock could sense John was trying to talk him into coming with him and Mycroft. He continued to hang around the coffin, carefully caressing it with one of his hands. His actions prior to this situation steadily flashing before him. His mannerisms, his expressions, his words, and, more importantly, his desire.

“She did everything for you” Moriarty continued, “Even gave up a whole life for herself, no matter how diminished and unfulfilled that life may have been, it was still hope that she held for the future, and just by being there, being who you are, you drove her away from that. You made her so vulnerable Sherlock, just like you make everyone. EVERYONE.”

“No…” Sherlock uttered as John called out his name.

The precious moments were almost up. He was on the verge of an emotional breakdown, all he needed was a most unkind command, a permission to act out his frustration.

“She is your heart, and you let her control your head. Look upon this box Sherlock, look upon your failure, your other vow , to honour your friendship, look at this box, and set yourself upon it. Your heart is exposed, it burns, my work is, at last, done. You said to Molly Hooper that you needed her words for a case, she gave all you’ve ever meant to her for the good of that case, now apply it to the world you’re committed to above all others.”

“No” Sherlock said, his calm demeanour fading, his armour steadily stripping away.

It was at this moment that he could hold back no longer.

The order finally came.

“Author her pain” Moriarty commanded.

His fists pounded into the casket with feverish and naked aggression, it fell apart in his raw hands almost like confetti, he tossed the remnants across the room, and emitted a primeval sorrowful scream at the top of his lungs.

He sunk to the floor of the cell, the casket lay in ruins, as did his heart.

Moriarty faded from sight, his work at last done, as the consulting detective came to terms with the most overbearing defect found in the losing side.

Love conquers all.

Even Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock-The Magician’s Circle

sherlock-molly

 

SHERLOCK:

THE MAGICIAN’S CIRCLE

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

(contains spoilers for “The Lying Detective”)


Sherlock briefly took his eye off of Molly as she checked his pulse.

“Keep still” Molly said, placing the cold end of the stethoscope onto to Sherlock’s bare chest, listening for any irregular beats. To her silent alarm, she found a few.

Sherlock could tell from her face that this was unsettling her.

“I don’t make it easy on you do I?” he asked.

“When you gamble with your health the way you have, no, no Sherlock it’s never easy” Molly replied.

“Do you think John is right? Do you think I use you?” Sherlock inquired.

“I like to be useful, that’s how I like to look at it” she said.

“A comfortable lie, obscuring truth…the truth is that I am not one of the better men in your life” Sherlock replied, coughing gently as Molly gave his lower regions a tight grip with her right hand.

“Most of the people in my life never respond to me, living or dead, the fact you and John still do puts you in far better company”

“What would it take for you to wash your hands of me?” Sherlock suggested.

“I think I’ve got a lot of you to wash off as it is” Molly remarked.

Sherlock’s face briefly lit up, appreciating the joke.

“No” he said calmly, “I mean this in the most sincere manner Molly Hooper, if you finally caved, if you believed I could never come back from the path I’ve travelled down, that I could not be fixed or saved, how would you convey that to me?” Sherlock asked.

“Are you asking me this because you’re not so sure you’re coming back from this?” Molly asked.

“I need you to look past the physical examination, and examine your sense of self…everyone has a breaking point…”

“I would break it to you gently” said Molly.

“Really?” Sherlock asked

“I’d…give something back too, something that was meaningful…to you, to me, to let you know that I wouldn’t want to keep even that which mattered”

“The riding crop?” Sherlock asked.

Molly sighed.

“This isn’t what you want to hear is it? What I would do…this is about what you think John would give back, if he felt he couldn’t put up with you anymore”

“I knew our brief time as investigators together would permit you to compose a most precise deduction” Sherlock said in a complimentary manner.

“I observe plenty, like you do, but I don’t exactly sit still and let it stir me” Molly replied in response, handing Sherlock his trousers. Sherlock quickly snatched them up.

“Thankyou for the thorough examination” Sherlock replied.

“His cane” Molly suddenly said aloud.

Sherlock’s eyes lit up.

Of course.

“If John didn’t want to come back, if he felt there was no going back, he’d hand you his cane, back when he had that phantom pain, the pain you…the pain you took away. He’d want you to have that, as a crutch” she said.

“Excellent, be sure to tell him that when you nip over to his place for some quality time with the baby” Sherlock replied.

“Wait, you want me to tell him…all that? What someone would do to cut ties to someone they care about?” Molly asked, confused.

“In her best sentimental manner, yes” Sherlock said.

“Are you trying something funny?” Molly inquired.

“We are crossing over to a place where there is no room for error or jest…I need John to part ways with that cane at a precise moment, a moment where everyone except myself must lose sight and sense of the plan”

“What if John sees it more like a trick?” Molly asked.

“Then I shall set myself a reminder that, to John, I must distinguish strategy from magic”

As Sherlock proceeded to put back on his clothes so that he may get on with more of what he had planned, Molly reflected on John’s words to her from earlier, about being used, and what Sherlock had just said to her.

She knew this wasn’t a game, and she would be as direct about that to Sherlock’s face as he would be to John, but she could not help but feel the long term goal Sherlock obviously had in mind, to mend the fractured path he and John walked together on, could be best mended by her playing along.

And to that end, she was determined to make her role count in the magician’s circle.

Sherlock-Unearthed From The Urban Meadow

sherlock-molly

SHERLOCK

UNEARTHED FROM THE URBAN MEADOW

WRITTEN BY ZARIUS

(Contains spoilers for “The Lying Detective”)


Sherlock’s hands gripped John’s head tightly as the good doctor, qualified to deal with so much in life, came to grips at last with the imposing vacancy provided by loss.

Mary was gone, that reality had finally sunk in as John confessed to her lingering ghost of his interest in another, a woman on a bus, a pretty little flower that had unearthed itself from the urban meadow and, in a casual manner, had spurred John on to embrace her fragrance.

It always starts so casually, and from there the complications grow. The risk, the danger, all the addictive elements that make up the psyche of John Watson.

The elements that had led him so easily to Mary, a moth to flame, a flame now extinguished. He felt almost akin to a puppet, his strings cut, nothing holding him up.

He had to turn and face the strange, but to do so in the arms of a stranger would bring him no peace. It is only fitting then, that he find solace in Mary’s legacy.

The two of them together, Holmes and Watson, together again, each the strongest part of the other, built to last for as long as the grief and pressure shall burden them.

The tight embrace of the two men, however, could not endure the repetitive joyful moans of a sexually perverse ring tone on the table next to Sherlock’s chair.

“Oh will you bloody answer that already?” John asked of his dear friend, releasing his grip from Sherlock and tending to his wet and weary eyes beset by tears.

“That’s not how she plays the game” Sherlock replied.

“She lost her game years ago, this is life we’re dealing with” John replied.

“She said it wasn’t a game” Sherlock muttered.

“Who did?” John asked

“Last person to cross my mind…” Sherlock mumbled.

“Molly?” John said, probing further.

“When she examined me for the medical, she said the drugs in my body were steadily killing me, that she’d seen healthier bodies on the slab”

“You looked like utter shit and you acted like one” remarked John.

Sherlock picked up the phone to read the messages left to him by Irene Adler, John now aware of her persistent existence, and not being overly fond of Sherlock having to prioritise her now at such crucial a juncture.

“Well, spit it out, anything other than birthday wishes?”

“She just says ‘had lunch?” Sherlock replied.

“…Doesn’t she always want dinner?” asked John.

“This isn’t a want on her part John, it’s an ask. A ‘how are you doing?‘ My god, she’s at that phase of her private life where she wants some reassurance there’s a voice out there that isn’t too busy”

“Well you kind of are…busy” said John, urging Sherlock to put the phone away and continue to provide him some measure of solace.

“I could try to give her some clarity, but that would only serve to form a connection…”

“What exactly do you think we were just doing there?” John said, trying to keep his frustrations in slightly. But only slightly.

“You’re different, you’re within reach” Sherlock replied, “And you have a fresh wound, hers is but a lingering scar, I’m the scab she likes to prick at on the skin, hoping I’ll turn blood red and pour myself out to her”

“And are you? Remember what I said Sherlock” said John.

“About not letting people like that out of my sight? Must you be reminded of the connections she has to the web of Moriarty? I haven’t spared him a thought the last three weeks, but rest assured, I have made plans to appoint fresh concerns for his posthumous game for the next week…who knows, perhaps this is a part of it”

“So answer it, and get your assurances out of my way so you can continue to help those within reach”

“It would be so easy, but as I’ve learned John, the urban jungle flourishes through hardship and an instinctive desire to put up with so many above the individual. I have committed to that cause, as have you. I cannot permit myself to play a game when the players around me are too much sane, in mind or heart, to play with either me or the one I concern myself with”

“Right, well then, guess she isn’t that kind of person then?” John replied, a slight look of assurance on his face.

“Hooper?”

“Last person you think of, but her words are never the last thing you think of”

“Oh don’t start that again” Sherlock replied

“She is though Sherlock. Without a moment’s hesitation, she’s there; you just push her to the back benches like some unwanted MP, when she has been to hell and back for you as long as I have”

“She’s seen more men than me in a state of undesired undress, none of them as capable of satisfying her needs as I, and they happen to be deceased. I think that’s the minimal amount of hell she’s permitted” Sherlock replied.

“Then give her a slice of heaven Sherlock, let her see with her own two eyes how you rebuilt this bridge between us, show her that you don’t just set things on fire because you enjoy the world more when it’s alight, invite her over for lunch, you, me, her, Rosie, all together, we’ll go and have chips…”

“Oh no, I mustn’t think of chips” said Sherlock, reflecting on his troubled evening spent with Faith, a figment of his imagination that had almost trodden his reality underfoot and compromised his investigation into Culverton Smith.

“Cake then. A place with cake” John suggested.

“Is that the drug that makes you think you have about a month to cross the street?” Sherlock asked.

“A place with cake Sherlock, the usual sort, we’re going to all have that. Cake and coffee, and chit-chat”

“Will there be cream?” asked Sherlock.

“Are you saying that to entice you further into going along with this, or are you just glad you got a text from Adler?” asked John

“Last thing to cross my mind John, I assure you” Sherlock replied.

“There, see, you’re learning, push Molly slightly upwards, leave the pawn behind and give your all to the players” said John.

Sherlock pondered John’s words; he admired greatly how quick he was to turn from the temper brought on by the grief, and to put forward to him the reminders he needed. To elevate those important to him.

To give their words to him even greater meaning in micro-managing his own path through the streets of London.

But, perhaps more tellingly, to unearth his own flower from the urban meadow.