Chapter 1: Xaphan
The demon who stokes the furnaces of Hell.
"From a little spark may burst a flame"
The worst demon is the one you know. Jim expects he's ever the devil to everyone else he shows his true face to, but inside his own mind, the devil is the doubt. He had a heart once, of a sort. He had connections, dreary obligations to people who demanded he get out of bed and do something no matter how boring life became.
Demands are funny things though, when you leave them open to interpretation. They wanted him anywhere but where he was and doing what he was, a still nothingness disturbingly like death, they just didn't know precisely where else and what else they didn't want.
He was in their house, their home and that came with a special level of trust, reserved for precious blood relatives – the kind you don't consider, naively given. It was never his house, til that day, and he makes sure nowhere is his home. It came the closest out of all his haunts, he remembers it fondly - has the crime scene photos saved away in a safety deposit box for nostalgic rainy days.
Jim Moriarty loves – loves his suits, loves to drive fast, loves Shepherd’s pie, love to watch TV, loves to watch people. He loves thoughts that flow and actions that come fast. He loves too, to wait, to let it build up, the satisfaction welling into a crescendo.
But Jim doesn't love people anymore, if he ever really had. He loves transient things, knows they come to an end and tends to welcome it. He likes to feel out of control sometimes, breath stolen away with a touch of shock and frustration – a taste of deprivation - and other times, increasingly this, he likes to be the one crushing hopes and dreams; the one responsible.
He burns what he adores, he burns what others want and cherish, he burns it all indiscriminately in the end and there is no doubt. It's the way it is, the way he works. Everyone else is wrong, foolishly clinging to pieces of their lives, not understanding they can only hold on for so long. He'll pry their fingers, pressing sweet kisses along them and they won't realise until it's too late, a crack appeared, a smile where there shouldn't be.
Chapter 2: Hecate
Molly's turn now. Quote from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
Queen of the witches.
"Before thee let the unclean thing crawl"
Good golly, Miss Molly Hooper reads so easy. Sweet and shy, able to overlook faults to a fault. She's got a type and he inadvertently slips right in there, despite all his bumbling shy mirroring of her. He thinks he won't need to work too hard on this one, but how wrong he is. Wonderful.
Because she watches him when she thinks he's not looking. On anyone else he'd call it infatuation, but he knows it isn't, he hasn't pulled her far enough in for that. She's flattered and she's loving every second, but she isn't head over yet. He had plans and she's upset them. Can't be too mad though, not with the alternative he's crafting.
Molly is used to a lot of things and they all play into his game. She's used to being ignored. She's used to morbid thoughts about death, ones that express healthily in jokes. She's used to truth that cuts too close to home. She's used to watching and waiting to be useful.
What he wants is open lips, waggling tongues – for her to rant and ramble about their man, and perhaps, just perhaps he can turn her against him, draw a pretty picture, a foreshadowing, of a world where things don't go to his liking. Jim is generous, far too generous to them all, he gives each of his projects too much time.
She gets to three whole dates, post the forced introduction to one Sherlock Holmes – can't be missing that opportunity – before she severs his ties. In that moment she is calm and collected, exact opposite of the things those other people see in her. Jim knows she cares for him, but he knows how, he knows as well as she that she can see the darkness in his eyes. She rationalises, naturally. A reflection of her own disinterest, a recognition maybe of a body too similar on her slab, anything but the truth, the slithers of himself he let her sneak a peek at. Not overly so, not revealing too much at once; a teensy slash at the cover each time, so as to not scare her. If he could; in another reality he'd test this girl, push her buttons down hard and far enough to stick that way.
But no, he lets her go. Unimportant to the long strategy. Molly Hooper stalks off into the night and out there her sight is cleaner, clearer than with him (or beside Sherlock). She has a type; dead or as-good-as.
Chapter 3: Semiazas
Jim doesn't get the point of John Watson initially.
Quote by Aldous Huxley.
The Chief of the Fallen Angels.
“That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent.”
Jim Moriarty takes some time to consider what it is Sherlock sees in the one and only John Watson. He can identify plenty of useful things the doctor does. Another soldier, he might compare him to his Moran but no, Sherlock doesn't tend to play many games with John. Not like Jim wants to or like he thankfully gets to with his pet.
That's why John's continued existence in Sherlock's life is confusing. He's like the pathetic prey on the mat the cat brought home, toyed with a touch and let live. It goes against his expectations because John is becoming a necessity to Sherlock and people like them, the genius' of the world, should not need others when it comes down to it. They should be beyond everyone and everyone else able to be moulded to fit their whimsy.
Sherlock doesn't correct John much though. The reverse is the reality. John trains him in humanity, tempts him to care. John feeds Sherlock, has the audacity to demand he sleep and do things in a manner thought more becoming of the new public figures John has made him into. Using John would be fine, but Sherlock is exposing himself; like the domesticated cat offering his soft flesh out to his guardian and inviting the lash to come.
At least it ramps up the tension when Jim enacts the special finale. How would Sherlock manage without the man who is chief of him? The man more in control than either of them. Steady hands behind his nemesis, grounding him from his flights of fancy where they might drift to insanity or worse. Even Sherlock's family hadn't pulled it off in all the time they'd been trying, efforts not fruitless but going rotten.
But John Watson is a cool, collected professional, who happens to be best at being human and he's pulling Sherlock up from limbo towards Earth where Moriarty wants Sherlock in hell beside him.
Despite enough explosives to take down everything in a one mile radius, John Watson doesn't die at the pool – a reprieve suits the game much more, withdrawing the proverbial hand to hit back stronger – but Jim swears one day he will make him wish he had.
Chapter 4: Vetis
Irene Adler is just what he's looking for in this case.
Quote by John Henry Newman.
A demon of hell who corrupts and tempts the holy.
“Evil has no substance of its own, but is only the defect, excess, perversion, or corruption of that which has substance.”
Ms. Adler he likes. A self-made woman with no question of morals he can find. Liking her doesn't change anything though, as the reasons he likes her are as much about how fun she'll be to play as they are any form of admiration or interest. Irene is delicious with her curling words sliding off her tongue and a sting coming round to finish the sentence. She has wide and varied appeal, plus expensive tastes that demand regular feeding almost as badly as her clients’ desires.
The dominatrix does nicely indeed. Hired in an instant with a splash of cash and a hint of mystery that hooks her as well as he intends it to Sherlock. She is dismissed, kept at a distance because she is a sly one and she will try to weasel things out of him. It would never work, he doesn't think because unlike some he has his priorities straight. No good to play with the help and nowhere near as satisfying as the mission he's sent her on.
What would irk would be the distraction, hers. Irene has to be for Sherlock alone in this; the instrument to measure his vulnerability if it gets to that; the tool of Jim's to touch him invisibly. Irene is silky hard black magic worked on a logical mind and he is going to witness her spell casting with interest. She may be smoke and mirrors, but can Sherlock spot the trick? It could succeed, something he would watch with greed and pity as the great detective succumbs, or it could fail, Irene thrown to the wolves. Like any good plan, it never matters what the outcome is. The distraction is the key and he can't wait to see what he can unlock.
“Do you like men?” he'd asked her.
“No. Does it matter?” she'd said, “Does he like people?”
“No. Does it matter?”
“Probably not,” she'd replied with a smirk she didn't bother hiding.
A perfect match. He's correct there, he's certain.
Because Sherlock Holmes likes a challenge. Because Irene Adler does too. Because neither will back down, they stand their ground even as the battle begins.
Body parts barely matter in the face of their tell-tale compatibility. Brains is where it's at. Jim gets it totally, it's why he picks them after all – they have the looks outmatched by their intelligence and they claim to be ruthless, but they still have a heart. He loves to remind them of their weakness, a fitting curse before he strips them to nothingness. The task of making monsters is little understood; let it be an education for at least one of them in the end.
Chapter 5: Melchom
Mycroft's turn now. Quote by author unknown.
A treasurer of Hell.
"When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made."
Mycroft Holmes is often underestimated. It's a quality they share. Jim likes to point those details out. Judgements of good and bad are driven by perspective. Mycroft has his, decided for Queen and Country. Jim has his, determined for his entertainment and the message he drums endlessly. He is chaos and Mycroft is order – they are in equilibrium. He argues it's only natural, to which Mycroft looks as bored as Jim has been these dull, dull as dishwater weeks in the prefab cell in an abandoned sweet factory.
“Tell me a story,” Jim demands.
“What good is a story in this situation?”
“Here's the deal, rather good one if I do say so myself. You tell me a story and I'll tell you a truth.”
“Precisely what type of story did you have in mind? I'm not familiar with the tastes of psychopathic terrorists.”
“I'm hurt. You should know I'm not a terrorist. Terrorists expect political change. Me, I just do it for the kicks.”
Mycroft draws a heavy breath in order to sigh dramatically, indicating without words the distaste he feels at Jim's motivations.
“All I'm asking for is tale. Eensy teensy story, about Sherlock. Simples.”
Jim doesn't call Sherlock Mycroft's brother. Distance them.
He doesn't call it info. Fiction is okay, isn't it, surely?
So when Mycroft complies the next day (and the next and next) he somehow doesn't recognise the relevance – not all stories are untrue, nor harmless. You can lie through your teeth, but if you aren't a master of make-believe you always end up speaking from your own experience when it comes down to it. What Mycroft says or doesn't say are equally telling.
Mycroft will be rewarded by his dear government for doing the impossible, getting James Moriarty to talk. Bravo. A calculated risk where the end justifies the means. It's just the same for Jim though - sacrificial offerings to secure his freedom - but of the two traders he at least knows the price he is paying.
Chapter 6: Philotanus
Moran is his man. Quote by Pablo Picasso.
A demon who likes to assist the Prince of Trickery in sodomy.
“It is your work in life that is the ultimate seduction.”
Sebastian Moran is perhaps toughest to break. Military man, orderly, neat, precise. He can just picture it, battlefield and the man sitting calmly, off eye twitching a touch at the utter carnage, not for the blood and guts and mud, the itty bits of humans covering the grass, but the mess made, the ruin of the ground, scenery spoilt. Moran is an odd one and the most special of those with his talents so he has to have him. And have him, and have him. Heart, mind, soul. Body last, the best for afters.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out Moran dislikes people. Happy to kill, happily challenged by torture too, but make him talk to someone about something other than the weather or where the codes are and he gets irritable as hell. His dear little Colonel would dearly like to run away when he opens his mouth. He stands there taking orders and he'll stand there for a natter if he's ordered to, but oh how he'll hate it. There's no orders without a chat, a debrief of the more personal kind. The best tasks have a price attached and the association will be learned. Jim gives a piece of himself every day to sneak away a piece of Seb in return. He will deconstruct that wall between them brick by brick.
This isn't his thing. He bombs, he blows up, walls are temporary monuments to the illusion of safety but he lets Sebastian Moran keep his illusion. The doorway grows larger over time, evolving into an archway and one day they will be there, side by side, in the open with the only wall behind Seb. If Seb needs a new wall let it be him. He's a scrawny man to look at compared to some of the lackeys he employs, compared to Moran himself, but he is built of strong stuff. His name alone gives protection.
He can feel the change when it is he who has to tell Moran to beat it and go do what he says, like a lingering pet waiting for more scraps. It's a shame he hasn't the time for it. There's one far more complex game holding his interest when it comes down to it – Sherlock Holmes. That isn't to say he'd drop this long running mindgame but it doesn't compare. AWOL it is, leaving Moran to crave him and if he's a masochist he will follow like a dog, watch the flirting with danger, with Molly Hooper and the man Seb would love to kill for him. Sebby doesn't get games, doesn't get why let Holmes live and just as well he isn't smarter or he'd have spotted the other game he's in. Adorable. Trusting. That's one of the best reasons to trust him and why Sebastian is the man about their operations, the one to make it all happen with one utterance by Jim.
Jim has a lot of codewords. Absurd strings that make sense only to them. There's that one he withholds, the killswitch for the great game that he holds over Seb because it exists for his own amusement. He wouldn't dream of using it but Seb has no clue, Seb listens to every work spoken, hoping. He has Seb, he really does. The Colonel is clearly jealous. Sherlock this, Sherlock that and he can sense the rage welling as Seb waits, see fists flexing with desire to punch.
What he loves best is that Sebastian Moran hates himself. Oh sure, there's a kick out being loved but the real kick he enjoys is the one directed at Seb himself; the pained admission of the stoic man to himself that he likes someone, a guy, a criminal mastermind, a genius obsessed with another genius and not with him. Seb knows knows knows he's merely a tool and it would kill him if not for the plan Jim has.
Jim doesn't expect to be around much longer, unless he's mistaken, and that's a special kicker to end the game on. Seb can never have him until his body is cold, it's a lovely irony to make him want him and then feign ignorance. Now if he did something interesting - spoke out of turn, roughed up 'the boss' (gasp), pushed him against the wall- well that might change things but no, dreary Moran goes by the book, twisted fairy tale that it is. This evocation he has conjured gradually will sleep when he is dead, sound and deep, a nightmare everlastingly loyal.
Chapter 7: Samael
It all comes down to Sherlock in the end. Quote by Napoleon Hill.
The Angel of death and the Prince of the air.
“Action is the real measure of intelligence.”
Destroying Sherlock Holmes is a slow burn. Every year since he dispatched Carl, Jim has learned what makes Sherlock tick. Just as long he has dreamed of how to enact it, the plan that forms to forge a devil like himself.
Sherlock is a smarty-pants, a clever boy who barely grows up psychologically much to Jim's delight. The game doesn't grow old with him, it matures and evolves, becomes more of a draw. There's a lot of other games to play, less dangerous ones, but he wants to win this one. This one means something because Sherlock is something else entirely, something else much like Jim but not yet.
Various people push Sherlock, not recognising they push him away instead of where they want. Each time it plays into Jim's strategy. The trouble starts when Sherlock finds people who pull him, who have Sherlock coming back for more – the DI, the morgue assistant, John bloody Watson. At first he'd figured they were spoiling his fun, but then he'd realised they were a bonus. Sherlock had liabilities. Seeing the look on his face when dear John tried to save Sherlock at the pool. Priceless.
The game changed. No devil to be initiated but... angels can fall. Figuratively. Literally.
Evil is seen to be evil, simply existent, but the good turned bad are to be reviled. Their failings are everyone's failings and it's the old self-hatred turned outwards that compels the mob.
Belief is something Sherlock Holmes doesn't get. There is the power in John and Molly and Lestrade - believing Sherlock can be a good man. And the plebs believing he is a righteous knight, protecting them. Sherlock doesn't appreciate their belief because it hasn't been presented as logical. Belief is for him about religion and self-denial. Jim decides the sweetest thing is to show him what life is like without it, with doubt replacing it and the old belief reborn into one that goes against him.
“Do you believe in angels?” Jim had asked his Sunday school teacher once. They'd fobbed him off with metaphors and he'd felt anger because if there were no angels how could there be devils. Where's the fun when a war is one-sided?
It doesn't matter anymore. Everything burns. The metal in his mouth and the shock in Sherlock's eyes.
The body includes the heart and Sherlock has to forfeit his for his friends. It's a five for the price of one really; he'll burn their hearts as hard and fast with grief as the bullets threatening them. Jim has his win there, exactly as promised. He's a man of his word and he has so many; it's been a real treat to spin them into this masterpiece.
It doesn't matter anymore. Create and destroy. Everything burns, no room for regret. Play the tune, fingers tapping it out on a trigger as easily as the chair, his throne in victory at 221B. He smiles around the inevitable blast.