It was the twenty-ninth of June, almost three months after the pool incident. Sherlock had fired at the explosive-laden vest, of course, but it had been a fake - just designed to let off tear gas for dramatic effect. By the time it had cleared enough for him to see through it, Moriarty was gone, taking the snipers with him. That was the last anyone had heard from him, which suited John just fine. Sherlock, however, had been fascinated and excited to find an intellect to rival his own, which had now been taken away as quickly as it had been presented. Every time his phone buzzed with a message from Lestrade about a case, Sherlock couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that it wasn’t from Moriarty.
Today, with no cases to solve and nothing to do, Sherlock was lying on the sofa in his pyjamas. John had just left for the surgery, so he was completely on his own in the flat. He was just about to drift off to sleep when his phone buzzed and he sat bolt upright as he reached for it.
"There will be a car outside for you in an hour. Come alone. Dress smart-casual."
He didn't recognise the number, but that didn't matter particularly as he dashed through to his room to choose something to wear. It did cross his mind that it could have been from one of Mycroft's people, but he also didn't think he'd have been given warning as his brother rather enjoyed turning up unannounced. He continued to think about it as he showered, but no matter who he considered as a possibility, his mind always returned to the same person. But it couldn't be him, of course. There's no way he'd be stupid enough to use an unblocked, traceable number like that, surely.
He dressed and had a cup of coffee while he waited, sticking two fresh nicotine patches to his arm - he would have deductions to make along the way and he wanted to be on top form. As soon as he'd brushed his teeth, he saw a silver Aston Martin Rapide with blacked-out windows pulling up outside. He was downstairs and out the front door almost instantly, where the car door opened for him and he climbed in. He didn't recognise the man sitting on the other side of the back seat. Late twenties, reasonably well-off, possibly an executive of some sort. Pinstripe suit not new, definitely of a high quality, not much wear on the soles of the shoes. Sherlock was about to conclude that there was nothing out of the ordinary, when he noticed the mobile phone in the man's left hand. An iphone, not a Blackberry or similar as he had expected... how odd.
"You're going to spend the day with someone. Don't try to alert the police or your brother, you will be watched throughout," the man told him. Sherlock was about to ask a question when he was interrupted and a credit card was handed to him. "Buy him anything he wants. The pin number is the day and month of your birth."
Sherlock took the credit card and examined it. Very exclusive account, in the name of "Mr Sherlock Holmes". Signature on the back is correct. He placed it in his wallet, wondering how on earth he'd been careless enough to leave something lying around to give this information away. The bills and statements on the mantelpiece. Ah yes, he would have to get John to sort them out at some point.
The man was still looking at him, evidently not finished speaking. "Do not say no to anything he asks for. If you upset him, you will be dead before you have time to regret it. Understood?"
Sherlock nodded. This was all very confusing indeed. "I have one question," he said. The man gestured for him to continue. "Who is this person I'm supposed to spend the day with?"
The man laughed, then nodded in the direction of the door on Sherlock's side of the car. "We're here, you can see for yourself. Oh, and give him back his phone, will you?" He handed Sherlock the mobile phone and looked straight ahead, as though he were pretending Sherlock wasn't there.
Slightly puzzled, Sherlock turned and opened the car door, before climbing out onto the pavement. In the two-minute journey, they hadn't travelled particularly far and Sherlock now found himself standing outside Madame Tussauds on Marylebone Road. Queue of adults and children waiting for tickets. Much shorter queue, presumably fast track or VIP tickets. Man with green jumper, slightly mad fluffy hair, hands in pockets. Turning this way and... oh. Moriarty. With mad hair. Outside Madame Tussauds. It was going to be one of those days.
"Sherlock!" Moriarty called over to him. The slightly creepy smirks Sherlock was used to had been replaced by what appeared to be a genuine, very-pleased-to-see-him smile. This made a surprising difference to his face, making him look almost normal. As normal as Moriarty could look, Sherlock supposed. He navigated round a few pedestrians until he was next to Moriarty, pretending he hadn't noticed the laser dots dancing around his kneecaps - so he couldn't run away, he mused. He was about to ask what was going on, when Moriarty placed a hand on his arm and kissed his cheek. "I'm so glad you came!"
Eyes no longer tired, seemingly alive with excitement. Eyelashes have been re-tinted. Hasn't shaved in a day or two. Still using that cream around the frown lines. Looks expectant and slightly nervous. Seems determined to smile regardless. Is scaring the hell out of me.
"Well, you know me, I can't resist a good mystery," Sherlock replied, pretty sure another laser dot had just appeared on his chest.
Moriarty looked a bit disappointed. "You didn't recognise it? I gave you my number..." he replied, in the same petulant tone he'd used at the pool.
Sherlock reacted quickly, seeing as he was actually quite attached to his kneecaps and being alive. He tried his best to sound apologetic as he answered, "Oh, I'm sorry, I must have forgotten to save it. I'll save it now though." He handed the iphone over as he fumbled in his pocket for his own, where he quickly saved the number on the text message. "There."
This seemed to placate Moriarty, who was currently checking his phone for messages. When his phone was safely back in his trouser pocket, he smiled at Sherlock again. "Shall we go in, then?" He turned and headed towards the VIP queue, with Sherlock following swiftly behind him. He handed over two tickets and they walked through until they reached the first room, where Moriarty turned to Sherlock and leaned in slightly to speak.
"Look," he whispered, "You're the only one who understands what it's like - being me, I mean. We're the same, you and I." Sherlock looked sceptical, but allowed Moriarty to continue. "It's my birthday today. I can't spend another birthday on my own, it isn't fair. That's why I had to have you brought here. Anyone else would have dismissed the idea out of hand, but I know you won't. You're worried because, for once, you can't work someone out. You don't know what's real and what isn't, with me. So you'll stay."
He may have been mistaken, but Sherlock was sure the last phrase didn't sound as forceful as it was supposed to sound. Big dark eyes looked up at him expectantly. Sad eyes, so very sad. Lonely, even. So much more to him than even I can work out. Would be a shame to pass on this opportunity. "Know thine enemy," as it were. He found himself nodding. "I'll stay."
The eyes seemed to cheer up slightly and a bit of a smile returned. "Good. Oh, and call me Jim. I'm fed up of everyone referring to me as Moriarty all the time." He turned and approached the first wax model, checking the fingers before looking at the rest. "It's the hands that give them away. The nails. Always check the nails. People get caught out on those hidden camera shows, when they don't know what to look for. Nails first, then eyes."
Sherlock was intrigued. He didn't think anyone else thought so deeply about seemingly ordinary things like this. He followed Moriar- wait, he corrected himself - Jim around the room, waiting as he examined each model and explained who some of them were. Almost like he knows which ones I wouldn't know about. Sherlock had no great interest in the celebrities but he let Jim continue. John was always telling him he should expand his knowledge to this sort of thing. After all, John had known about Connie Prince when Sherlock hadn't. Would the case have been cracked and the second person saved if he hadn't had John there to provide the answer?
They were about halfway through the exhibition before Sherlock stopped listening to the facts and started watching Jim again. Seems smaller, somehow. Almost childlike in his enthusiasm. Eyes no longer cold and empty like they were at the pool. Actually quite attractive when he's not pulling those stupid faces. Has put on some muscle recently. Seems to know me frighteningly well.
By the time they'd reached the final room - the gift shop - Jim had cheered up considerably and was prodding a tiny model of a London bus across its display table. When the bus crashed into a model of Big Ben, Jim let out what could only be described as a giggle. Sherlock raised an eyebrow as he caught Jim's eye, but he couldn't help smirking along with it. Jim stopped playing and stood up, leading Sherlock to the door. It was only when they were out in the street that he realised the smaller man had picked up the bus and put it in his pocket - the oddly-square bulge next to his phone gave him away.
"Jim, is that a bus in your pocket...?" Sherlock enquired, knowing full well that it was but wanting to hear it for himself.
Jim looked sheepish but still smiled. "Yeah... I know, I shouldn't have taken it. I couldn't help myself."
Sherlock laughed. "So, where to now?"
Still smiling, Jim walked towards the traffic lights to cross the road. "Shopping!" Sherlock had just caught up when the green man came on and they crossed and headed towards Marylebone High Street. While he wanted to believe this day couldn't get any more strange, he had a sneaking suspicion that this was just the start. He continued pretending he hadn't noticed the laser dots still darting about his person.