We all start the same – naked and gaping. Then we being to change.
Jim's favourite story was the Children of Lir because he imagined himself a swan on a lake for hundreds of years, silent and angry and waiting. He imagined himself changed, made of feather and bone and down and cold.
Jim liked to eat raisins straight from the packet and he didn't like having to say the Our Father in school. Jim liked the blue colour between the white of the egg and the yolk and he didn't like it when people didn't look at him. He just wished they would look.
When Jim was born his eyes were huge and dark and his parents loved him at once. It did not seem possible that he could change so inexorably.
We all start the same, but Jim wished we didn't. He didn't mind bodies and their blood and excrement and pain and the endless indignity of breathing. He didn't like to get his hands dirty, but he didn't mind bodies. Bodies belong to the devil: it is the angels who own the rest of us.
He had no time for the angels. He was all body.
Sherlock Holmes was all body too, and that was why he moved more keenly and spoke more sharply than any of the rest of them. He was interesting. No one else was interesting. No one else was worth taking the trouble over. We all start the same, but Jim imagined himself and Sherlock hatching from an egg. He imagined himself and Sherlock turned to swans, floating on an icy lake, surrounded by people who could not understand what they were.
Put your feet on the ground, Sherlock, and you will die. You walk with the angels and angels cannot touch the ground.
Devils can. Devils have no rules. Devils have blood and soil and sweat and the feeling of flesh between their teeth. Devils can take pleasure when they wish, devils can do what they wish, angels close their eyes and put their pillows over their heads, but still they listen to the devils. Devils are never, never silent. Devils whisper.
When Jim was born he was naked and he gaped, and he was put in clothes sewn from blue and brown corduroy and he was dipped in water and blessed and baptised and the holy water did not sizzle his skin. He was not that sort of devil. He could smile and read books and be charming. It was important to be charming. People think they want to listen to angels, so devils must charm.
In school he laid his crumbs of bread and the children followed. They followed, and they found him, and he spoke to them. He was good at speaking. Devils whisper and they do not have wings but there are other pleasures they can offer. We have a mind but more than anything we have a body, and the body wants. Oh how it wants. Jim could look at bodies and know at once what they wanted, whether it was food or comfort or a certain touch. When he was a child he had to get his hands dirty. Later he entrusted that task to other people.
There were so many people who wanted to cause trouble. There were so many people with problems that Jim could fix. The angels offered no neat solutions, only platitudes and rules. Really it was the angels who were unkind. Jim could help and Jim could soothe, and Jim could disappear so far out onto the lake that no one could see him at all.
The problem was, though, that he longed to be seen. Often he just wanted people to look at him. He just wanted people to look at him. He looked at his own reflection and waited for it to smile in recognition, but it was just his stubborn face and he wanted to break the mirror.
He found Sherlock early, before Sherlock knew quite what he was, but Sherlock, even then, was all body, a body that could be soothed by drugs of one kind or another. Jim saw the drugs and was bored, because addicts were the most boring of all, but later he began to look at Sherlock. Sherlock liked boring things: he liked music notes written on browning sheets of paper, he liked the slow study of chemicals in tubes, he liked to help the police. He was boring, but he had promise.
Jim watched and Jim began to be impressed. Jim thought about the egg. Jim reached out into the world around him and began to construct puzzles, tempting people with the promise of comfort and security. He knew what would motivate.
Jim slept well and for hours. The body liked to sleep, that was an easy pleasure. Jim ate little and slept a lot because that was what he liked. He woke and was filled with a liquid, easy energy that was a pleasure in itself, and then he slept again, and slept, and slept. He emerged from the cocoon and looked around.
He was tired of being a villain. He wanted a little kindness. It is the body, not the mind, that needs comfort.
Sherlock was clever, and he liked the idea of holding Sherlock's heart in his hands, the soft wet weight of it, the fresh, meaty scent. He liked the idea the flesh under his fingers, but it would stain his skin and he would have to think of another option.
He'd thought about Sherlock long before Sherlock had ever though of him, long before Sherlock had looked out the window and wondered, long before Sherlock thought about when and how swiftly his death would come. He held the thought of Sherlock in his head. He imagined them emerging from their egg, flightless birds, feather and skull and flesh, not naked, not gaping. He imagined them always unchanged.
He looked at Sherlock so much and had looked for so long. He wished Sherlock would look back at him, would pay him the same courtesy. He could be kinder if only Sherlock would be polite.
There was a breeze on the rooftop. His clothes were new, bright and crisp and clean, and he liked the smell of them. Always, there were things he liked. That was the joy of being a devil. Only angels do not seek small pleasures. Only the angels really know how to suffer.
Was he insane? He was never anything but himself, waiting in the centre of the lake, where the angels couldn't walk. He was never anything but what he had become, a man who could whisper, who could soothe, a man who understood entirely.
Bach. Brooks. Remember me where there is water. Don't remember me at all: you do not need to. I am always here, whispering. I will always be your devil.
He could smell Sherlock, chemicals and sweat and smog, and feel the solid presence of his body, the muscle and skin and the warmth of him. He was thinking of how bodies stop, a hyoid apparatus crushed under his fingers, the ribs slipping free from the intercostals and sliding gently into the lung. A fall did not need his hands but sometimes he wanted to feel.
Was he insane? He was a devil, and he could whisper, and he was entirely in control. He didn't like the blue colour between the egg yolk and the white. It made his eyes itch. He liked to say the Our Father to himself in the dark, in English and Irish and Latin. No reason not to be be thorough. He liked dressing up; he hated children for falling so easily into his traps.
He imagined Sherlock's hands on his skin, hands that were not afraid to become dirty, slipping beneath flesh and cradling bone. His least favourite story was the Children of Lir, those fucking swans on a cold lake, never doing anything, siding smugly with the angels.
He wasn't insane. He was born naked and gaping and, like everyone else, he changed. And he became what he was: Jim Moriarty, your personal devil. Jim Moriarty, your human. He became what he was: a very clever man, who did not like to get his hands dirty, but longed to suck blood out from under his fingernails, longed for that iron scent. Longed, in his sleep, for a warm body next to his own, but found all bodies unsatisfying.
Not everything has to be clever, but the gun was a good punchline. Better than anything Sherlock could come up with. Sherlock's eyes were wide, but they were always wide, and he hoped he was shocked. He hoped he was fucking shocked, because this was his declaration and he just wanted someone to look.