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Fic: The Milk of Human Kindness

Title: The Milk of Human Kindness
Fandom: BBC Sherlock
Rating PG-13
Characters: John Watson, Sebastian Moran, OC
Length: 570 words
Alternate Link: AO3
Author's Notes: Written for the watsons_woes JWP Prompt #21: Constrained Compassion. Post season 3. Follows Piano Lessons from the Jungle and Human Intelligence. Unbeta'd, and if there are any Irish readers out there, I could definitely use your help on this series!
Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.
- Lady Macbeth

John was walking with Moran down a quiet side street in Belfast when he felt someone brush up against him. He immediately grabbed for whoever had touched him and turned, twisting the thin wrist, ready to fend off an attack.

He found himself holding a boy, no more than 14 years old, dressed in a dirty over-sized jeans jacket. The kid tried to pull free, growing more frantic by the moment.

"Fuck off, ya pedo," he yelped in a heavy local lilt.

John held tight. "You could try calling for the peelers," he said, the slang coming back from his tour in Derry, "but I don't think that'd go well for ya."

There was a flash of panic in the boy's eyes. John saw his hand curl into a fist. "Bad idea," John said blandly. He pulled a folded twenty pound note out of his front pocket and held it up.

The boy's chin went up. "What you want for it," he blustered, shaking a brown fringe off his face.

"The name of a place to stay," John answered. "Cheap, but not a hostel. Decent beds and private rooms. Somewhere we won't stick out and no one will ask any questions." John released the boy's wrist and offered the money.

The boy snatched it and stepped out of reach, rubbing his wrist whilst glaring at John. "O'Neill's should suit," he said abruptly. "Head down the Shankill, onto Boundary Way, just past the chippy."

"Thanks," John said as the boy turned away. "And if you want a job, come find me there tomorrow. I could use a lad knows how to keep his gob shut."

The kid glanced back at him before slipping away into an alleyway.

Moran had been leaning against a lamppost and watching. He stepped forwards now, looming over John. "If that kid had a knife, he could've gutted you," he pointed out. "You always such a soft touch, Watson?"

The question was a threat. Moran had never made it out of the warzone, not really. To men like him, everything was black or white, strong or weak. And a weak ally was too much of a risk for him to tolerate.

John wasn't like that. He was … well. He'd never put it into words. His brothers-in-arms had learned what he was like, over months and years in county. Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes had deduced it. John kept that part of himself hidden away from everyone else, co-workers and therapists, girlfriends and family. So perhaps all he had to do was stop hiding.

John let himself think about why they were in Belfast, to contact 'Moriarty.' Or rather, to contact the people who had decided to claim and expand Moriarty's network. Men and women who believed they could take anything they liked, hurt anyone they liked, and no one could stop them, because they'd greased the right palms, and everyone else was too afraid. He thought about how they'd be going after Sherlock. Mary had refused to keep a safe distance away, so all three of them, the baby included, were in the cross-fire.

He thought about that and looked up to meet Moran's gaze.

"Not a soft touch when it comes to my enemies," John informed him, picturing the exact set of movements he would need to pull his gun and fire if Moran went for him.

John smiled.

Moran looked down at his watch to break eye contact. "Come on then, unless you want to feed anymore street kids, Mother Teresa," he grumbled.

John let his smile widen into a grin as he followed Moran towards the pub where they would meet their first contact.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 25th, 2014 11:01 am (UTC)
I like the idea that John is so formidable to his enemies and yet a 'soft touch' to those who are not his enemies.
Jul. 25th, 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
I think it fits what we see in canon. Thank you, capt_facepalm!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )