“It wasn’t for naught, you know. It wasn’t an experiment. It was to put Moran and them off the scent. No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t let you know. You were the best alibi possible. If you believed it and were visibly suffering from it, no one would ever question that I was dead.”
“That sounds heartless.”
“You know I’m not.” His eyes glanced off mine as if to check.
“Yes.” I rolled up onto my side facing him, still not quite touching. “But being an invaluable aid in that way will never outweigh the sacrifice I was forced to make without knowing.”
“Without knowing what?” he met my eye, searchingly, but not without a hint of compassion.
“That it was a lie. That I was suffering over something that was not real.”
“It was real to you.”
“God yes, too much so.” I ran my hand through my hair trying to comb out the memories of grief.
“And it needed to be for that period of time. But I didn’t let it last any longer than necessary. In fact, I probably have ended your pain prematurely.”
“You sound like a torturer, assessing whether I’m broken yet.” My face took the shape of a mirthless grin.
His stayed completely serious. “But I’m the opposite. I tried to prevent the break. However, the reason for causing pain is still out there and I’m afraid we have jeopardized our chance to eradicate it by compromising my perfect alibi.”
I flopped back onto my back exhaling my exasperation. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling. He was doing the same as he spoke. “Calculated risk, John. It means I’ve been calculating. Do enough calculations and the risk becomes negligible. I was paying attention. I wouldn’t have let it get too bad.”
I sat up at this, the weight of anger pulling on my gut, the acidic burn of resentment scouring my chest. He sat up next to me, looking at my face. I was looking at my hands.
“You didn’t drink yourself to death or shoot yourself, and you weren’t in more physical danger than usual. You can handle pain, John. You can live with it, not die from it.” He reached to put a hand on my shoulder, I jerked away from his grasp.
“But I shouldn’t have had to, Sherlock!” I turned my back on him, fuming, head in my hands.
“Don’t you understand?” He grabbed my shoulder from behind. His voice was not quite angry, but deep and urgent, faintly pleading, and again (not again) right at my ear. “I had to die for you, to save your life. You had to grieve for me to save mine.”