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Ghost Watching

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Jim Moriarty slowly tilted his head to the side, examining the detective in front of him.

Frankly, Sherlock looked horrible. He was so thin, his coat and suit hanging from him more than ever before. There were circles under his red-rimmed eyes, so dark they almost looked like bruises. His face had sunken in, making his already-prominent cheekbones even more obvious, and his skin was sickeningly pale. He'd clearly been using, but this was more than that. There was an emptiness in his eyes, a deadness, that spoke of so much more than cocaine and morphine.

This was the face of a man who had lost the most important thing in his life and didn't care what happened to himself anymore. A week ago, seeing Sherlock like this had delighted Jim; he'd finally destroyed his nemesis in the most destructive way possible. It had been perfect.

Given the current situation, Jim really regretted that. Because a man like this had absolutely nothing to lose.

"I truly fail to see what you hope to accomplish here," Moriarty chuckled. "It's as if you think I couldn't have a new sniper in five minutes if you killed this one. Besides," he added with another light laugh, "I doubt you even have it in you."

Looking at what Sherlock had become, Jim really didn't believe his own words.

Sherlock smirked in response, but it was a chilling thing, because there was no emotion, nothing, just dead, empty eyes. "You can try to convince me that you don't care all you like, Jim, but I know the truth."

The detective turned in a flash and punched the man tied to the chair beside him across the face, hard enough that it snapped the man's head to the side. The bound man let out a grunt and then worked his jaw back and forth, making sure nothing was broken, and then spat some blood onto the floor. He looked back up at Sherlock with a glare.

Jim simply raised an eyebrow.

"The truth?" he asked condescendingly. "Are you so desperate to get revenge that you've resorted to creating fantasies? My, my, Sherlock; how the mighty have fallen! Sebby might be a great sniper   and an excellent lay   but you must realize that I don't play into sentiment as you do. What was it you said before you fell so far? 'Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side'. It's exactly what led to your destruction, my dear; you got too attached, let yourself be led around by your pet-"

Sebastian let out a surprised sound of pain as Sherlock stabbed a knife into his leg. Jim very carefully did not react.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" Sherlock asked. He twisted the knife, still lodged in Sebastian's leg, and the sniper didn't make a sound, but his eye twitched a few times. Sebastian had been tortured before   once by Jim, himself   so now that he was expecting pain he wouldn't react to it. Usually torturers were looking for those reactions in their captives, but Sherlock didn't care about Seb's pain, only Moriarty's.

Jim let out a long-suffering sigh. "Is this going to take a while? I do run a criminal empire, sweetness."

Sherlock pulled out the knife   Sebastian let out a low breath   and then stabbed in back in, this time in a different spot. When he twisted it again, it turned it all the way instead of just a little. Seb clenched his jaw, his fingers curling into fists against the arms of the chair he was tied to.

Sherlock continued this process over and over again. Pulling the knife out, stabbing it in, twisting it all the way around. Wash, rinse, repeat. He worked up and down both of Sebastian's legs, across his arms, into his shoulders. He never hit anything vital, never hit anything that would kill Sebastian; at least not right away. As time went on and the pain built up, Sebastian slowly started to react. Panting, and then grunting, and then a terrible keening noise.

Moriarty watched all of this happen, never taking his eyes away. Sebastian was used to torture; he could easily get through this. But Jim had never been handcuffed to a chair barely five feet from his sniper while it happened, had never been forced to watch, had never been helpless.

Because that was the main point of this, wasn't it? Jim was helpless. Before, if some group had managed to grab Sebastian and work him over, Moriarty had always tracked them down and torn them to shreds, leaving none of them alive, all of them dying painfully. He would bring Sebastian home and gently treat his wounds, and then, when he was better, Jim would punch him himself, because how could you have been so stupid as to actually be captured  

But this time   no one knew where they were and no backup was coming. Jim was useless. It suddenly occurred to him that this was exactly how Sherlock must have felt when Moriarty had killed John Watson right in front of him.

Oh yes, that was definitely the point.

Having run out of nonfatal places to stab Sebastian, Sherlock started in with his fists, punch after punch to the sniper's face and chest and stomach. Sebastian was shirtless, and the dark purple and red that was steadily forming was violent against his skin. His face was puffy from the repeated hits, blood dripping from his mouth and a hundred different wounds all across his body.

"Enough," Moriarty said eventually, unable to keep silent any longer. His voice was quiet but strained and startling in the room, where the only sounds previous had been the slide of a knife into skin, the slam of fist on flesh, and Sebastian's various pained noises.

Sherlock did, indeed, stop, turning to look at Jim. He still looked just as lifeless as before, but there was a hint of satisfaction in his gaze.

"Oh, he speaks." The detective was clearly going for his old offhanded quips, but his voice fell flat. "I was starting to wonder if I'd actually misread the two of you. I have to say, I'm a little bit...disappointed. All that talk about weakness and pets, Jim. But you're no farther above it than I am. And so similar, have you noticed? Discharged army officer comes to be with a consulting genius who then fakes his death."

Moriarty didn't say anything. Usually, he was the volatile, unpredictable one. But now Sherlock was standing in front of him with a blood-covered knife and split knuckles, and in an instant he could plunge that knife into Sebastian's neck, making his army man die slowly and painfully and in the exact same way that Sherlock's army man had. It's what Jim would do.

"What, nothing to add?" Sherlock demanded. "Not going to beg me not to kill the man you love? Not going to plead with me to let you take his place? Not going to offer everything you have to save his life?"

Jim took a deep breath and then let it out, his eyes locked with Sherlock's. "It won't make a difference, will it? I'll do that, and you'll deny me it, and then you'll stab him in the throat and leave me here to watch him choke on his own blood until he's dead and my people come to get me. Poetic justice, that; having this go the exact same way John's death did."

"Don't you dare say his name!" Sherlock roared, his eyes filling with anguish. It was the first actual display of emotion from him all night. "You took him from me! You stood in front of me with a smile on your face as I begged you to let John go, to kill me instead of him! I offered you everything in exchange for his life, and you laughed! You laughed-" his voice broke, "-as you killed him, having it last long enough that I could see his fear and pain and watch him choke on his own blood. And then you left me there with his corpse until Mycroft found us."

Jim wanted to feel mad, to feel the same burning anger he always felt whenever someone dared to touch Sebastian, but he just didn't. He didn't want Sebastian to die   would rather have absolutely anything else happen other than that   but now that it was happening, now that it was right in front of him, it was fair. An eye for an eye, and all that.

Also, looking at the broken man standing in front of him who would probably go home and kill himself after this, he just didn't have the energy. For the first time ever, Jim felt what he must have caused for so many other people. And while he still didn't care about any of them or their stupid little lives, Sherlock was an equal. He was on Jim's level, and Jim had broken him. Sherlock simply wanted to break in return.

Suddenly the door to the little cabin they were in burst open and Moriarty's men poured in, decked out in tactical gear and pointing their guns at Sherlock. The detective didn't even react more than turning his head to look at them, his eyes just as dead and devoid of everything as the mercenaries closed in. Two of them roughly grabbed ahold of him, yanking the knife from his hand and manhandling his arms behind his back.

One of the men pried open the handcuffs holding Jim to the chair and he instantly got to his feet, moving to Sebastian's side. A mercenary was working on the knots but Jim snarled and the guy instantly backed off, and then Moriarty began undoing the ropes himself. Sebastian looked really out of it, but when Jim had freed his wrists and ankles, the sniper rose his head and gave him a lopsided smile.

His teeth were covered in blood.

Jim crashed their lips together, one of his hands around the back of Sebastian's neck, the other cupping his cheek. Sebastian tasted like copper and kissed back with the same passion put forth by Jim, understanding the other man's need for the reassurance right then.

After making sure that Sebastian was stable, Jim turned to look at Sherlock. The detective was on his knees, his hands tied behind his back. Two of Moriarty's men were standing on either side of him, one step back. Sherlock wasn't looking at anything, not really, his gaze pointed at the wall opposite him. He didn't look angry or disappointed or any other actual emotion, just...ready.

He was waiting for Jim to kill him.

Jim was surprised to find that the idea wasn't all that appealing to him.

The consulting criminal stepped forward and crouched in front of the detective. He narrowed his eyes, examining Sherlock, and when Sherlock met his gaze, Jim saw nothing but hopelessness, lifelessness, and accepted resignation. Sherlock might still have been breathing, but he'd died the moment John Watson had.

"I'm not going to kill you, my dear," Jim murmured.

Sudden emotion clouded Sherlock's eyes. "Why?" he asked, his voice filled with pain. "Why? I   please, you can't do this to me, you took everything...You know that if you let me go I'll just do it when I get home."

Yes, Jim had taken everything but Sherlock's life, and all Sherlock wanted was for Jim to take the one last thing that he needed rid of so badly. And yes, Jim did know that Sherlock was going to kill himself when he got home. He'd deduced it earlier, after all.

Jim tilted his head back to look at Sebastian, meeting his lover's eyes. The sniper gave him a small, sad smile, and Jim knew exactly what Sebastian was saying. If I was in Holmes' spot, I would want Watson to put a bullet in my head right away.

The mastermind turned back to Sherlock and sighed. He extended his arm to the side and automatically one of the mercenaries placed a gun in his hand. Jim shuffled forward until he was right in front of Sherlock, and lifted the taller man's head. He would've asked if this was really what he wanted, but he could see that it truly was. So he leaned and pressed his forehead against Sherlock's own. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry."

When Sherlock lifted his eyes, Jim knew that the detective understood what he was really saying. Not 'I'm sorry for killing John Watson', but actually 'I'm sorry that I left you alive afterwards'. Sherlock looked at him for a few moments and then he let his eyes slide shut, a slow breath escaping him.

"Please," he whispered one last time.

Jim took a moment to pull out his phone, sending off a brief text, and then pressed the barrel of the gun against the side of Sherlock's head. "Everyone will be worse off, Sherlock Holmes; the world's IQ will lower substantially."

For a moment, Jim thought that he saw a hint of a smile on the detective's face, and then he pulled the trigger. Sherlock fell limp against Jim, his neck moving at an awkward angle. Slowly, Jim lowered Sherlock to the ground, making sure he was lying flat with his eyes closed.

Then, the consulting criminal stood up, wrapped his arm around his sniper's waist, and proceeded to hobble out of the cabin.


Mycroft stared down at the body in front of him, the most horrible sadness filling him. He'd spent his entire life taking care of his baby brother, protecting him from all kinds of harm, and he had hoped and prayed to every god he didn't believe in that he'd never have to one day stand over Sherlock's broken, lifeless body.

He'd known it was coming since John had died, or at least that Sherlock had wanted it to. Mycroft had had surveillance on the younger Holmes, making sure that he wouldn't do anything rash or harmful towards himself. But earlier that day Sherlock had slipped his team. Mycroft had been frantic, concerned, afraid. It seemed that his fears had been perfectly founded.

Once more, Mycroft looked down at the text that he'd received which had brought him to the small cabin in the middle of the woods. It was a message from an unknown number which only said this address. He knew exactly who it was from.

As he looked at it, another text appeared.

If it helps, he would've done it himself if I hadn't.
Said as much.
-JM

Mycroft stared down at it blankly, and typed out a reply.

I will find you.
-MH

After barely a moment, the answering message came.

I'm ready.
-JM