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A Thousand Radiations (And He Knows Well Every Quiver Of Each)

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The figure Moriarty cut was stark against haze of the pounding falls, mist clouding around him as Holmes drew near. Even as his opponent halted next to him, the criminal’s gaze remained on the torrents of water.

Given that there seemed to be no immediate danger (though any second spent in Moriarty’s company could hardly qualify as safe), Holmes took the opportunity to study the other man. He stood tall in as fine an outfit as the environment would permit: dark trousers and a navy waistcoat with a crisp, white shirt, as well as sturdy boots suited for climbing, which were rather incongruous with the rest of his attire.

His gaze rose from Moriarty’s shoes to see that the man had turned from the waterfall and was now observing him in turn. After a brief moment, his eyes moved to rest on Holmes’ face. His expression was mostly blank, save for the ever-present look of malevolence he wore.

“Good day,” Holmes spoke, breaking their silent assessment of one another.

“Indeed,” replied Moriarty, matching his rival’s laconism.

Before they could converse further, a dark mist began appearing around the criminal, a look of surprise on the man’s face suggesting that this was not, in fact, of his doing. Before he could do more than express a sound of startlement, he vanished completely, leaving Holmes alone on the rocky outcrop.

Holmes blinked as his archnemesis disappeared. “How on earth...” he trailed off, before, in the blink of an eye, Moriarty reappeared, clad in a new suit of black velvet and leather—one that was rather unsuited to the terrain, to put it mildly–with a hand clutching his stomach.

Holmes had the unique experience of watching Moriarty startle, more emotion clouding his features than the detective had ever seen there before (though that observation was to be taken with a grain of salt, as the previous physical encounters the two’d had numbered quite few).

“Ah,” said the criminal, a peculiar expression crossing his face, before it settled into a blank facade, lacking the previous malice it had held. Now only traces of boredom and mild disappointment—as if he had surveyed Holmes and found him lacking—remained. “Of course.” He coughed into his fist before straightening his jacket. “Where was I?”

For once in his life, Holmes was left speechless. Hurriedly he grasped for something to say. “...What happened to your clothes?”

Moriarty winced. “Ah, that.” He looked around at the falls once more, and a grimace crossed his face. “Well, you see, it’s quite a peculiar tale…”

 

BONUS

He trailed off, but before he could continue, the same black smoke that had heralded his disappearance crept over his body once again.

A smirk crossed the villain's face and he spoke once more.

“Farewell, Holmes. It’s been... interesting. But unless I’ve missed my guess—and I never do—I’ve a duchess to visit.”

With that, the smoke completely enveloped his body, before it vanished, and Professor James Moriarty along with it.

FIN