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Cu Sylvatica

Chapter Text

It is nowhere near as dark as it should be, given the situation. And despite the glare from the fluorescent bulbs above, the lights of the snipers’ sighting beams are vivid.

“Sorry, boys,” says the sing-song voice. “I’m so changeable! It’s a weakness with me, though--to be fair to myself--it is my only weakness.”

The shimmering, almost fluorescent water should by all rights be the centrepiece of this scene, but Sherlock finds himself entirely unable to tear his gaze from the gleaming points of darkness that are the eyes of Jim from IT (not from the hospital at all, and not so forgettable).

John is still crouched against the wall. The red lights dance over the planes of his face, and--in the glance Sherlock spares himself before turning once again to the immediate threat--he sees only calm readiness. John’s jaw is clenched tightly, but this is the only sign that he is in any way affected by their predicament, and Sherlock feels himself steady.

Until that confident, intimate voice crawls once again into his ear and rips his poise entirely to tatters.

“You can’t be allowed to continue,” Moriarty says. “You just can’t. I would try to convince you,” a rueful exhalation of breath, as studied and flawlessly delivered as the rest of the man, “but everything I have to say has already crossed your mind.”

Moriarty’s eyes are riveted on Sherlock, and his expression is mad and certain. As if he has already foreseen how this will go, how Sherlock will react. Sherlock is not familiar with being predictable, and the idea that Moriarty knows him causes something low in his chest to twist and his palms to go sweaty. His heart is pounding too fast in his ears, setting a tempo to events that he cannot control.

The red and blue striped curtains that circle the tableaux remind Sherlock of a circus tent, though he had never been in such a place and does not know why the comparison occurs to him. With the night sky above him--the stars vividly luminescent points despite the ever-present haze of London’s light pollution--there is a sense of vertigo: the tent turned inside out; the world on its head.

“Probably my answer has crossed yours.” He tells the mad man acerbically, arm entirely steady (though how he manages he has no idea; he has never felt so shaky) as he aims at the vest before raising his eyes once again to Moriarty. Unbelievably, the man smiles.

Approvingly.

The consulting criminal walks toward him slowly with a predator’s grace, and with every step, the dark suit cloaking him blurs and distorts into churning, insubstantial shadows. The sight makes Sherlock dizzy, and he finds his eyes closing involuntarily as nausea wells in him abruptly. He feels rather than sees the other man come to a stop before him, too close.

He smells of explosives. And ozone.

“I have loved this.” Moriarty murmurs. “This little game of ours.”

Sherlock feels hot all over: tiny pinpricks of heat pushing against his coat and flushing his cheeks. He hears Moriarty chuckle at this tell, and forces his eyes open through force of will.

The darkness has completely enveloped the other man’s body, but his eyes still shine like unholy artefacts, and Sherlock cannot look away. The curtains that ring the pool have pushed closer around them and begun to spin sickeningly. The air feels too thin as it is ripped by the flapping fabric.

“I’ve given you a glimpse, Sherlock,” he lingers over the name, “just a teensy glimpse of what I’ve got going on out there in the big bad world.”

This isn’t how it goes, Sherlock thinks dizzily. The order is wrong.

Belatedly (too late!) he remembers John behind him and tries to turn and look, but Moriarty grabs his chin and holds him still, his grip like steel.

There’s blood on his enemy’s hand, and Sherlock feels it running in rivulets down his throat. Moriarty’s gaze follows the path gleefully, licking his lips as he watches the liquid stain Sherlock’s collarbone. Sherlock opens his mouth to tell him to release him at once, but that is not what ends up emerging.

“Please…” he hears himself say in a somewhat hoarse, almost breathy voice that he never uses, not even in those fantasies that occasionally come to him in the middle of the night after he’s given up on sleep, and Moriarty‘s grin widens. No, he thinks. No. But he can only stand there, stricken and weak.

“I’m a specialist, you see,” Moriarty says almost conversationally, his hands tightening cruelly on Sherlock’s chin. “Like you.”

It hurts, and Sherlock finds the strength to reach up at last--gun and flatmate lost somewhere in the madness swirling around them--and tries to force the man to release him. The blood is slippery and shockingly cold, and it doesn’t allow him any sort of grip. His own hands are covered now, and as he continues to struggle ineffectually, the dark colour lies dramatically and mockingly against his pale skin. All is spinning darkness now, and the voice--soft, she said--won’t stop. He cannot block it out (where is John?).

Like you.

Are you pleased to see me?

My dear.

**

Sherlock lands on the floor next to the sofa in an ungainly heap, knees and elbows fighting against what he realizes belatedly is an afghan that John must have draped over him. Weak, grey light is filtering in from the window along with the sound of London traffic and the sharp laugh of a group of pedestrians leaving the sandwich shop beneath the flat.

His heart is pounding rapidly, and he’s covered in a cold sweat. Ceasing his battle with the blanket momentarily, he lies on the floor--the scuffed wooden board cool against his flushed cheek--and closes his eyes as he attempts to calm his breathing.

Moriarty's leering visage, eyes fever bright, flash immediately behind his closed lids, and he sits up abruptly.

Sleep was overrated anyway.