I stepped out onto the pool desk expecting the whirling gears on my head to keep on ticking exactly in the manner they always had. I saw everything. I was everything. I could feel the very air currents brushing up from the cold water and I knew what was coming. Of course. Maybe not what to expect on the basic level of appearance, but I knew Moriarty. I could see the way his clever little tricks and traps interwove their way into every inch of my life. If my ‘massive intellect,’ as a certain good doctor had put it, was even capable of such things, I would have said I loved this Moriarty, this more-than-a-man whom I knew every cell of. In this confidence of our mutual thrill at the game, I swung up my hand in a welcoming gesture, the Bruce-Partington chip held high.
And froze. The gears stopped turning - I didn’t grind to a halt so much as crack into little metal shards and sparks. John. I - John.
For the space of time it took for more than just his face to reach my cracked and twisted center, I believed. When what I held in my mind was just his blank and resolute eyes, it was enough to pull my entire being down. I wanted to fall to the floor, to feel the chlorinated water soak through me and put out the flames because I was burning, combusting, igniting... John.
The way his face was lined with the years and hardships and struggles that he put on himself that he did. not. need. And his warm eyes that used to smile at me. For me. All I’d wanted was to make those eyes smile, to see him tilted towards me, in profile... mine.
But here, for a second, was absolute proof that he was nothing more than a man who strapped people to bombs and laughed as old women died. A man I’d mentally professed to “love,” for our similarities, our overlaps. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong... Wrong.
If anyone else could hate themselves more in than second, the planetary forces of gravity probably couldn’t have contained us both.
For a second, the world turned into a black and scorched rock where nothing was good or worthwhile. Worse than boring. Worse than it had ever been.
Just...not worth living.
Then John, my John.. blinked.
I clicked back into gear, counting the fluttering lashes over warm brown eyes.
S.... O.... S....
And breathed again. Because I knew whom I loved.
And he was not Moriarty.