Moriarty came into Sherlock’s life only a day after John; not physically, perhaps, but the concept of him, the thought, the name, which was largely what mattered in Sherlock’s world. From nothing to something, something important, something interesting, Jim and John, Watson and Moriarty.
In the space of just over a day, John went from a convenient flatmate with a few mildly diverting psychological issues – worth perhaps a week before being relegated to the heap of humanity – to somehow more fantastic than Sherlock had ever anticipated.
Both of them have a tendency to surprise him that way.
John seems endlessly fascinating: full of assumptions and incredibly human feelings, but at the same time capable of a perfect kill and willing to do so if that’s what Sherlock needs. A doctor and a soldier. Wolf and sheep together. Sherlock had never really understood the concept of ‘clicking’ with a person – it always sounded so horribly trite and over-simplified, and those adjectives still apply – but the sense of rightness as they fell into step with one another was disconcerting in how utterly not disconcerting it was.
(His thoughts don’t make sense anymore.)
And many of the same things apply to James Moriarty as well: constantly intriguing, layers upon layers of perfect puzzles, and effortlessly and absolutely in time with him. Sherlock has never known anybody who could really understand precisely how he thought (even John only thinks he does, and only sometimes). Mycroft comes close in a few respects, but not the important ones. Not in the way that even while threatening bullets and explosions respectively, with a single look, Sherlock and Jim can know each other’s thoughts. Know and understand.
It’s not fair. Not fair that he found both of them so close together; not fair that he can’t have both.
Jim lets him have John, because Jim understands how he thinks – except not entirely, because he thinks of John as a pet and Sherlock… Sherlock doesn’t know what John is at all, let alone to him. He doesn’t know what John wants. But he can be certain that John hates Moriarty; hates the idea of him; hates the connection Sherlock has with him. Perhaps it’s because John has the idea of Sherlock that he seems to have drawn from fantasy half the time (but the other half he’s close, so much closer than Sherlock ever imagined could be possible), or perhaps it’s because he wants to make Sherlock be better (for all he’s more accepting than anyone who’s tried before), or perhaps he’s just jealous. The way Sherlock and Jim are, in their own ways.
Sherlock wonders if Jim wants John, and suddenly feels possessive. Enough to want to growl and hide John away – as if John ever needed somebody else to protect him. At the pool, he was too focused on finally meeting him, the thrill of the conversation – although all the while he was still distracted by John being right there and impossible to ignore no matter what Sherlock wants (whatever it is he wants) – to think about the fact that Jim took him, had him alone, but later… Later he wants to mark John as specifically his property, which may not be fine by John’s standards, but most definitely is by Sherlock’s.
John is challenging, though. Intriguing. Interesting. The highest compliments Sherlock can bestow, and he thinks that John understands that. For all that he mutters and argues, he never once tells Sherlock to stop looking. Stop analysing, perhaps; stop ‘interfering’, definitely. But never stop looking. And Sherlock doesn’t want to.
Jim invites it. He flirts on a level Sherlock can understand, far away from the endless social niceties and obscure assumed understandings that John tries to explain to him – those rituals which Sherlock tries to document if only to try to comprehend just what John wants, and how he thinks, and where Sherlock can break him of that. With Jim, Sherlock is simply himself: he has no need to change, only to live up to all that he has ever thought he could be, and beyond. And oh, they would be brilliant together.
For once, Sherlock has no idea about something: would they be even better working alongside one another, or does the real spark lie the game?
He wants to know. Just as he wants to know how far he can push John; just how brilliant he can be too – would he ever consider Jim? Could he ever be persuaded? Surely if Moriarty wanted to steal him away, properly, John would have to choose to go as well. John can’t simply be taken; he would have to surrender.
Just how deep does that darker streak running under John’s skin go?
Sometimes it feels like it’s all Sherlock can do not to peel him back and take a look.
It could be that he needs John and wants Moriarty – needs that connection to the world and the careful balance when he just wants to be dangerous and escape both. Or it could be that he wants John and needs Moriarty – needs an opposite, something to challenge him, when all he wants is to curl up and just watch John forever.
And he can’t have both.
Choosing just isn’t fair at all.
(Silly little boy, Jim whispers in his ear, hand already sliding down his chest. Sherlock isn’t the only proactive one around here. Normal people have to choose.
John. John’s here. Somewhere.
In what world are any of us normal?)