Chapter 1: Five Stages
Jim cursed; there were too many, too well trained. He had been expecting that for this particular hit, but how was he supposed to know that all of the target's bodyguards were MI6 rejects? There were too many shots... far too many. Sebby always got them in one. But he heard two... three... four... five.
Four too many.
Time seemed to slow as he walked towards the sounds. He couldn't run, that would make him desperate; he couldn't ignore it, that would be callous. So he forced himself to walk, putting one foot in front of the other. Bodies began to make their appearance, clean kill shots through all of them. They began to get closer together the closer he was to the epicenter of the violence. And then he saw.
Sebastian, his sniper, his bodyguard, his lover: stretched out on the floor, a shockingly dark puddle of blood pooling around him at a worrying pace. Forgetting his image, Jim rushed to his side. He hauled Seb up into his lap, not caring if his precious Westwood got stained; if it meant that Seb would live, he'd gladly tear the suit to shreds.
He felt like there was something sitting on his chest... either that or he'd been stuck with a branding iron, because it just fucking hurt. Seb heard the footsteps faintly before he felt hands hauling him up and arms holding him, cradling him. Cracking one eye and wincing in the light, he managed to make out Jim's worried face. "Hey... Boss."
Jim swallowed hard. "Hey, Tiger. Looks like you have yourself a bit of a scratch there," he said. He allowed himself to do something incredibly, incredibly stupid; he allowed himself to hope.
"B-bit more than... a scratch... fuckers were... t-too many... is that... b-blood?"
Jim pursed his lips. "Yeah. It is. A lot of it. Yours, mostly. Don't worry, we'll get you fixed up. You'll be back on the prowl in no time, you'll see."
The sniper shook his head slowly, wincing. "Wounded in... left chest?"
Jim checked and damned Seb for being right. Left breast, high up, a dark circle that was leaking. "Y-" he cleared his throat. "Yes. Left chest."
"Not... long... now... s-sorry, B-boss."
He went cold, as cold as ice. "No. No, no, no. Sebastian Moran, you are not doing this. You are not dying. Not today. I'll... I'll fix you. I will, I swear. I promise. Just... please. Keep fighting. You're my Tiger, you fight. Don't you dare give up."
"Trying... M'so tired..."
"Stay awake. My Tiger-Love, stay awake for me. Please..." He frantically looked around, but there was no one to help. He couldn't drag Seb to where the car was; the man was too big and too heavy, and he was too slight and not nearly strong enough.
"Cold... oh Jim... failed... you..." A few tears leaked from the corner of Seb's blue eyes, tears of pain and of sorrow. "R-royally... fucked it... up..."
"No. You didn't fail me... you completed the mission, the target was eliminated. And I'll keep you warm, Sebby, I will." He clutched the man closer in his arms, as if he could pour his heat into him, stop the blood, close the wound.
The larger man shivered slightly, gasping in pain and frustration. "But we had... the best of... times... r-right?" He was seized with a wet cough that wracked his body and made him yell in pain, a trickle of blood dripping from his mouth.
Jim swallowed and closed his eyes. If they were shining a little with tears when he opened them again, he didn't care. "Yes... the very best."
With an enormous effort, Seb managed a weak smile. "Never... re-regret..."
"Not ever." Jim bent his head and pressed a kiss to the softly-smiling mouth of his lover, his assassin, his Sebastian. Seb closed his eyes into the kiss, the last touch he'd ever remember as his final breath was given to the man who had changed his life.
"Seb... Sebby...? Sebastian, answer me..." Jim begged. But there was no answer, the body in his arms rapidly growing cooler. He let out a harsh sob. And it turned into a laugh, a laugh that was broken, hysterical, maniacal... because when Sebastian Moran died... the last of James Moriarty's sanity died with him.
Chapter 2: Too Late
Chapter by thebookworm214
Molly let out a shaky breath. It had been three years, three long years of lying, of playing a game that she didn't want to play, but finally, the waiting, the lying, the game was coming to an end. It had begun when Sherlock had come into the morgue and said that he thought he was going to die, and she had asked him what he needed. He had replied... "You," and had nearly stopped her heart. She'd helped him, of course, helped him fake his death, given him a place to stay for a little while before he got his bearings and went on the lam. She had been the one to keep him informed about how everyone was doing: Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, John. And then she had gotten the text.
Coming Home. -SH
She nearly wept with joy and relief. He had done it. After three long years on the run, he had done it; he had destroyed Moriarty's web and cleared his name.
It was strange, creeping through the streets of the city he called home. Coat collar turned up and cap pulled low over his curls, Sherlock hurried through London to Molly's flat, deciding that it was as safe a place as any to plan how exactly to come back from the dead.
She paced in her flat, breathless, adrenaline rushing through her system. She felt like time was crawling. She swallowed hard. Today... today she would tell him. She had to, before she lost her chance, before she was relegated back to being his pathologist, an annoyance, a bother... a nobody.
Slipping into her building, Sherlock climbed the few flights of stairs, stopping before her door. Taking a deep breath, he knocked, fidgeting and glancing over his shoulder. Molly flung open the door, eyes bright. "Sherlock..." she said breathlessly, smiling, unable to stop the tears that came to her eyes. "You're back." Again, unable to stop herself, she threw her arms around him in a tight embrace. He was thin from his time abroad. As quickly as she had done it, though, she drew back, her face flaming. Idiot! she berated herself.
Blushing slightly, Sherlock stepped into the flat, closing the door. His eyes darted around, taking in all the details that had remained the same over the years of his absence. "Hello, Molly."
"Good... good to see you," she stammered, biting her lip. "Do you want coffee or tea? I know...black, two sugars," she said, grinning despite her nerves. She moved slightly away from him to give him some space. "So, now what? Now that you're technically back to the land of the living, now what are you going to do?"
"I haven't gotten that far-" he started, turning to face Molly, failing for the first time in three years to shut the blinds.
There was a sudden -crack-, a shattering of glass and a thud as something heavy hit the floor. Molly blinked and it took a moment to register... Sherlock. Sherlock was on the floor, bleeding profusely. She knelt on the floor beside him, frantic, putting pressure on the wound to try and slow the bleeding. "No... no, no, no, no, no, no not now..." she begged.
He could tell he was going into shock, his body shaking slightly. "How... how did I... miss one..."
"Shh... shh, don't talk," she said, tears filling her eyes. "Oh God... I had wanted to tell you... I... no..."
"Molly... too cold... don't-not yet... I can't... yet..."
"I'm here... I'm here, I've got you. I'll... I'll keep you warm, please... no, don't go... I..." she took a deep breath "I... I love you..."
He shook his head slightly. "Find... s-someone... else... y-you... deserve... better..."
"No, I... I can't. I've loved you for so long, I just can't. Please..." she begged, her hands slick and red with blood, trying, trying to stop it from pouring out of his chest.
With a significant effort, Sherlock reached up and brushed a few strands of hair from her face. "Keep it... parted... t-to... the side..."
Molly nodded. "I will. We'll get through this, I swear. Okay, Sherlock? Don't... don't die, please. I've lied to everyone about you being dead for three years, don't make it the truth. Not now... please."
"Tell... tell John..." He grabbed her wrist, a final burst of strength, "I... tell him..."
"What? Tell him what?"
"I... he... he was... my heart..."
She flinched. "I will," she promised, even as she felt her heart crack. Of course.
"Th-there's... one more... danger... John... L-Lestrade... Mrs... Hud-son..." Sherlock could barely breathe, every movement a sharp fire through his chest that stole his breath
"I'll take care of it. I swear to you, I will," she said, pressing to him tighter, even as she began to shake. He was near the end, she could tell; one doesn't spend their days around corpses without learning the signs of death like a shadow.
Forcing his eyes to stay open, Sherlock met Molly's gaze. "Fare-farewell..."
"Farewell..." she said. A moment passed...two. Three. Four. She felt his flesh grow cool underneath her hands. And then she shattered. She wept long and loud, sobbing over the body of the man she had loved but who had never loved her in return. Everything felt so empty now. How could she still be the woman who counted when she wasn't able to save him when it truly mattered?
Chapter 3: When the Long Trick's Over
Chapter by thebookworm214
This AU is the one featured in our series "The Adventures of 'The Magpie's Song'". This is an alternate ending to that story.
It was another skirmish with the French, and they hated him. Well, of course, everyone hated him, that was the point, but the French were being particularly fierce today. Unlike them... and they had actual decent weapons and tactics; their captain knew what he was doing, also unlike them. But The Magpie's Song was winning the day. The foreign ship was pocked with holes from cannon and bullet alike and was slowly taking on water as her sailors scurried about, torn between the dual threats of saving their ship and fighting for their lives. The French were going, turning to run when Jim saw it: a parting shot, aimed directly at Seb. He didn't know why he did it (yeah he did... he loved his Tiger), but he ran as fast as he could as soon as he saw the other man raise the rifle to his shoulder. There was the sharp -crack- of the rifle's report... and a bright, hot, sting of pain that settled into an agonizing burn in his belly. He fell hard to the deck, but managed to right himself and conceal the small hole that was now leaking blood.
Seb heard the shot and saw his Captain fall, but in seconds the man was on his feet and drawing his own pistol; the single shot killed the man who had fired at the first mate. The blonde watched in horror as, almost in slow motion, Jim's shooting arm dropped to his side and he started to collapse, one hand on his gut. Sebastian caught him in his arms, cradling him and sinking to the deck of the ship, well out of sight of other shots. "Jim? Jim can you hear me? Captain, open your eyes!"
Jim cracked one eye open. "Told you... y'don't give orders," he said, his voice rough. He coughed and hissed in agony, his teeth becoming stained a bright red with blood.
The older man saw the blood trickling from between his Boss's fingers and coloring his mouth. "No, nononoono, you can't do this to me. Do you hear? Jim, stay with me." He pressed his hand to Jim's, adding pressure to the wound. "We gotta stop the bleeding-"
Jim gritted his teeth against the pain. "I'm a dead man, my love. I'm gut-shot. You were in the army, you know what that means," he said. Then he gave something that was a horrible cross between a laugh and a sob. "Seb... my Seb... wish I could stay, but I can't."
The blonde blinked away hot tears, his heart threatening to stop in his chest. "Then... then I'll follow. I'll be your guardian in the dark. I'll come with you... d-don't leave me, don't leave me here alone."
The captain's eyes went bright and angry. "Don't you dare, Sebastian Moran. You'll live. That's an order!" He hissed again and took a slow breath. "I wish I didn't have to leave you... I don't want to go... I don't. I want to stay... I want to love you more. I want us to grow older together... I want... I want..." he said, tears beginning to fill his own eyes as well.
"Sod your orders!" Anger flooded his body, and Seb clutched the man to his chest, still being mindful of the wound that meant he only had precious minutes left. "I want you to stay. I want that perfect day, just the two of us I promised you all those months ago in Tortuga. I don't want you to go where I can't follow. I love you, James."
His lips quirked into a pained smile, more like a grimace than anything else. "And I love you, Sebastian. More than anything. More than my life. That's why..." he coughed again. "That's why I took the shot for you. Couldn't bear to think of you gone. So I took it."
"And you didn't stop to think of what that would do to me? You... you utter bastard."
"Was one of my rare 'didn't think, just acted' moments."
Unable to keep the tears back any longer, Seb let them fall as he bent down and kissed Jim, tasting iron. "Well, warn me next time," he choked out, pulling back enough that his forehead rested on Jim's and he could look into the man's eyes.
"I'll try," he said, raising an eyebrow. He sighed and closed his eyes as he felt the warmth of his lover seep into him. That's when he noticed it. "Seb... Sebby... I'm cold," he said.
"Oh no... nonononononoononoNO!" Seb gathered him up as best he could, trying to warm him. "Don't go, Jim. Fight it. You're strong, I know you can do it. Fight it, please!"
He opened his eyes lazily. "Cheeky," he mumbled. It was getting harder and harder to stay awake. Everything was fading around him, except for his lover, his Tiger.
"Yes, I am. Your cheeky little Tiger, that's me." He gave a watery chuckle as he poked Jim in the ribs, the face. "Stay awake, James Moriarty. Don't you go to sleep on me, now. That's an order!"
"A'course. You're the captain now... need to follow Cap'n Seb's orders..." he said, managing a chuckle himself; the dying man grew serious again. "Seb, treat The Song well. She'll always steer you right... she's a good ship, best I ever had. If you don't I swear I'll come back and haunt you," he threatened.
"Don't wanna be the Captain." If Seb had though he was crying before, it was nothing to what was suddenly flooding his eyes and tracking down his dirty face. "You'll be all right and up and ordering me about in no time. She's your ship-"
"You must. And she's yours now, Seb. I'll... I'll be gone, soon. You know it." The blonde opened his mouth to protest. "Stop. Denying it will only make it hurt worse. I'm gone, Sebastian."
"Not while you're still here. Not while you're breathing. Jim... god, I wish I'd never fought you. We'd have had more time together, I can't captain The Song... don't make me do this."
"You can and you will. She needs a strong captain, and you're the strongest. And don't say that you wish you never fought me. We'd never had met otherwise. And that'd be such a pity." Jim took a deep, shuddering breath. "Seb... my dearest Tiger, love of my life, light of my days, my first mate, my lover, my confidante, my Sebastian..." he said quietly.
"My Boss, my lover, my everything, my anchor in the storm, my Jim..." Seb kissed him again, pouring everything he had into it as if breathing his own air into the man would keep him alive.
Jim used everything he had to hold tighter, kiss longer, but that everything was beginning to wear out. He broke the kiss, his breathing ragged and rough and far too liquid-sounding to be healthy. The darkness began to press in around him, and he smiled. "My Sebastian, my Tiger. I love you..." And then... he stopped, his breathing, his heart, his mind. James Moriarty, Captain of the Magpie's Song, the most feared pirate in the world, had fallen.
"No... NO!" Seb broke, sobbing over the lifeless body of his Captain and love. He cried scalding tears and his nose started flooding, covering Jim's chest and his face. "My Magpie... my bird..." Rising slowly, Seb wordlessly carried the body up to Jim's quarters... his own quarters now. Laying the man in the window seat, Seb stripped their bed, removing the sheet and spreading it out on the floor. He set Jim in it, crossing the man's arms across his chest and closing his eyes, a fresh wave of sobs wracking his body. Sebastian fought to reign himself in long enough to wrap up the body, pressing a final kiss to the cold lips before tying up the shroud.
The crew was gathered on the deck when Seb emerged, hats off and heads bowed to the fallen Captain. Going to one of the lifeboats, Seb lay the corpse in it, unable to bear the thought of just tossing the body overboard. A twisted mockery of a smile passed his lips as out of nowhere, the new captain began to sing. "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky... and all I ask is a tall ship and a s-star to steer her by. And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, and a gray mist on the sea's face... and a gray dawn breaking."
Lowering the boat to the water, Seb pulled out his pocket knife and sliced open his palm, letting his own blood fall down onto the shrouded body of the man he'd loved with all his heart. "I m-must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a w-wild call and a clear call that may not be denied. And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, and the flung spray and the blown spume... and the sea-gull's crying."
His bloody knife sliced through the ropes and set the boat afloat on the sea, the current slowly carrying it away. His tears slowly dried as he began the final stanza, his voice soft and carried to the shrouded corpse on the light breeze. "I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life. To the gull's way and the whale's way and the wind like a whetted knife. And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover... and a quiet sleep and a sweet dream... when the long trick's over."
When the long trick's over, indeed, Sebastian thought. Turning back to the crew, he saw that several of the rough men had shining eyes. "Well, what are you bilge rats looking at? Back to work!" he barked, sending the men scurrying in all directions. He glanced over his shoulder at the shrinking form of Jim, and in that moment, that one, single, terrible moment, the King's-man-turned-pirate's heart crumbled into dust, leaving him an empty shell of the sarcastic, free man who had existed barely an hour before.
In that moment, Sebastian Moran, first mate to Jim Moriarty, died along with his lover.