Chapter 1: Prologue/Introduction
"Hello, love," John greeted as he returned home from a day at the surgery. It seemed innocuous enough, but the fate of his whole evening rested on the response to those words.
"John, good, you're home. Did you pick up the eyes from Molly?" Sherlock never even looked up from his microscope so he missed John's sigh of relief. He wandered over and pressed a kiss into the top of the detective's head before storing the eyeballs in the refrigerator.
It was so much easier with Sherlock. Generally, there was no need for any pretending , though the day he slipped and said the "other guy's" name had been a challenge. Luckily it was a common enough monikerthat he passed it off as a former lover and thankfully Sherlock accepted that. If he ever slipped and said Sherlock's name with the other guy…John shuddered at the thought.
John assumed that anyone who loved a person with a split personality faced some degree of challenge but he would wager that it was nothing compared to what he dealt with on a daily basis. When the main personality was the world's only consulting detective and the second personality was the detective's arch-enemy who also happened to be the world's only consulting criminal, things could get a bit dicey.
"Fancy a take away tonight?" he asked on returning to the kitchen after changing clothes in the bedroom he shared with Sherlock. He shared the other bedroom with Jim, which could get a bit confusing, but such was his life. "There is a new Indian place two blocks over and I hear their chana masala is superb."
Sherlock finally looked at him, and smiled. "Whatever you like, John." That was how he knew he was dealing with Sherlock. He didn't do nicknames or terms of endearment. He was always simply "John" to Sherlock. He appreciated that while the two men were very similar in many ways, there were easy enough ways to tell them apart.
The evening passed quietly. Following dinner, John crashed on the couch to watch an old Doctor Who episode with Sherlock laying his head in John's lap, thinking over details of their last case, and relaxing under the feel of fingers running through his dark curls. As the episode came to an end, with the Doctor saving the day once more, John noticed Sherlock's breathing is slow and even.
"Come on, love. Let's go to bed." Shaking his shoulder gently, John nudges him from the sleep he claims not to need. Too tired to do much else, Sherlock removes all his clothes but his pants and collapses into bed. John smirks, shaking his head while smiling lovingly at the man, and undresses as well. Putting everything away neatly, as opposed to Sherlock who just leaves the clothing on the floor, he turns back to see his eyes closed and his breathing deep. Approaching the bed, an arm raises up, invitingly lifting the blanket, under which John climbs happily, falling asleep in his lover's arms.
The next morning finds John curled around the lanky body next to him, practically purring as long fingers run through his short, sandy hair.
"Good morning, love," he murmurs, burrowing his face deeper into the long neck, pressing sleepy kisses on the skin.
"Is there anything you want to tell me, my pet?" comes the voice he knows so well, yet still manages to seem so different every time this happens.
"Quit the theatrics and just ask, Jim," he growls, knowing that playing games is never going to get him very far, but at the same time continuing to press the kisses along collarbone and shoulder.
Jim rolls on top of him, pinning him to the mattress. "Why, my dear, are we sleeping downstairs? Have you done something to my bed again?"
Sighing dramatically, John looked up at him. "I guess you were bound to find out about the eyeballs eventually." Running his hands up his back, John tugged him down for a rather brutal kiss, nipping at his lips and tongue. "I don't know why I try to hide anything from you."
"Oh, pet, you don't have to hide those from me. I don't know where you get them from, and it's probably best that I don't, but the fact that you bring home body parts, well, let's just say it is one of my favorite things about you."
"And the fact that I am a crack shot, of course, as nothing to do with it?" John asked, rolling them over so this time he pinned the deranged mastermind to the bed. Since becoming lovers with the man, he had managed to stop his most heinous plans, primarily by distracting him with sex or target practice.
Jim grinned, "My, my, my ,Johnny boy, you are aggressive today aren't you? But Daddy is not in the mood. We're going out. A film, perhaps?"
One of the perks of being with Jim was that he actually enjoyed pop culture, where Sherlock just deleted it, so John was thrilled to finally be able to see Avengers. It had been weeks since Jim had last appeared, and Sherlock was starting to get concerned that perhaps Moriarty was planning something big since things had been so quiet on the crime front.
"Did you enjoy the film my pet?" Jim asked as they left the theatre. "Loki was by far the best character on the screen, do you not agree?"
"To be honest, I quite liked the Hulk. There's something attractive about a mild mannered man who can turn into a rage machine at a moment's notice." John often wondered if somehow Jim and Sherlock knew that they shared the same body. Neither ever commented on the missing blocks of time from their lives, so perhaps, somewhere in there, they just sat back and let the other take control for awhile. Or maybe not. He had no idea how to even ask the question.
"Ooh, should I be jealous?" Jim lilted. "As long as it wasn't that Tony Stark. Too much like Sherlock. Both intelligent. Both beautiful. Both sickeningly attached to saving the miserable ordinary people."
John rolled his eyes. "You don't even know what Sherlock looks like. He could be hideously deformed for all you know. And you know, I only have eyes for you, love. Should I be jealous that you think Stark is beautiful?"
"He doesn't hold a candle to you, my dear. You're eyes are like a copper fire. If I ever get my hands on Sherlock Holmes, I will use that flame to burn him." Jim's hand tightened around John's as he spoke. "Would you like me to make him into shoes for you, my pet?"
"I can't imagine Sherlock shoes would be very comfortable. But don't worry, dear, if I ever see him, I promise to get my hands on him for you." All over him, John supplied silently, as they headed for home.
I have no idea if carnivals in England (if they exist) are anything like carnivals in America, so if they aren't, um, suspended disbelief?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“But Tigerrrr…” Jim whined, causing John’s teeth to go on edge, “I just want to kill one little person. Please? You haven’t let me kill someone in so long!”
John had been stuck with Jim for over a week, the longest period ever. And while he loved Jim dearly, the man was getting bored and if there is one thing John knows, it’s that psychopaths and boredom don’t mix. “Jim, there is no one that needs killing right now. Why don’t we do something else? A film maybe?”
John rolled his eyes. Jim was always up for a film. It was one of the things John loved about him. But of course he would think they were boring now.
“What about the carnival?” In the back of his mind, he thought he had heard something about the carnival being in one of the parks not far from here.
Jim’s eyes lit up. “The Carnival? You are brilliant, pet,” he grinned, leaning forward to kiss John, who gladly returned it. “Obviously not brilliant like me, but still, brilliant. I used to go to the carnival with my mum and dad. It was great fun. Candy floss and rides. They loved it too. Until the accident.”
Jim never spoke about his parent’s accident and John knew better then to ask. For all John knew, the people Jim talked about never existed. Sherlock was the dominate personality and try as he might, John could not picture Mummy Holmes taking a young Mycroft and Sherlock to the carnival. Or they did exist and Jim had them killed. Or they exist and live happily in Ireland unaware that they have a psychopath who believes himself to be their son. There were so many possibilities, he really ought to ask Mycroft one of these days.
“Then it’s settled. The carnival. Grab your coat.” John breathed a sigh of relief. So far, he had managed being Jim’s assassin and lover for over a year without having to kill anyone. Part of it was because Jim was rarely around but mostly it was that John was very good at distracting him, even if it took every means he had at his disposal.
Unlike Sherlock who took a cab everywhere, Jim insisted on walking which was just fine with John. It was a lovely summer day in the middle of the week. The crowds were thin and the sun was warm. They walked side by side while Jim ranted about Sherlock Holmes, his greatest rival. John feared the day the two were supposed to meet. How would that work when they occupy the same body?
The carnival was rather deserted which both agreed was preferred. Jim hated “ordinary” people and John hated when he had to keep convincing Jim not to blow them up.
“Candy floss first!” Jim declared running off ahead. Rolling his eyes, John followed after him. It was like babysitting a serial killing 5 year old.
After Jim had his treat, John won a couple prizes at a shooting booth. The sight of him shooting a rifle got Jim a bit hot and bothered, so they spent several heated minutes behind the fun house, struggling to maintain their composure enough not to strip each other nude then and there.
As they made their way through the fairgrounds, Jim turned to look at him, “Pet, you haven’t picked anything. What would you like to do?”
“Actually, the roller coaster looks pretty fun. You up for it?” John loved thrill rides as a kid and actually went out of his way to find the scariest ones he could while stationed overseas.
It was Jim’s turn to roll his eyes. “Of course I’m up for it. Lead the way.”
They purchased their tickets and were even seated at the front of the car, John’s favourite place on a coaster. The car took off down the track and John smiled at the familiar burst of adrenaline when they started climbing the hill.
Halfway up, he glanced over at Jim, surprised to see a rather sickly tone to his normally flawless skin. “Are you alright, love?” John asked, concerned.
“Turns out, pet, that I was not ‘up for it’ as it were,” Jim groaned as the roller coaster hit the peak.
The unbecoming scream coming from his lover’s mouth unnerved John almost as much as the fact that it stopped halfway down the hill when the madman fainted. John spent the rest of the ride torn between concern and amusement. Who knew that all you needed to bring the famed Jim Moriarty to his knees was a small train on a fast track? If only he could tell Sherlock….
The train soon slowed and John managed to wake the man who was currently slumped over the safety bar. “Are you alright, love? Are you okay?”
Those pale blue eyes looked up at him, blinking into the sunlight. “Of course I am, John. Why do you ask?” Sherlock sat up and looked around. “And why are we on a roller coaster?”
John did is best to hide his grin, as he was always happier when he was with Sherlock and it had been far too long. “It was for a case, don’t you remember? You wanted to see if the bruises left by the roller coaster security bar on someone who was passed out matched the victim from that last case. You had me drug you so that you could experience the affect for yourself.”
Sherlock blinked a few times but seemed to accept the explanation and John thanked whoever was looking out for him that he was able to think quickly and lie like a pro, especially to Sherlock Holmes. “Well, I think we have all the data we need, don’t you, John? We should go back to Baker Street so I can examine the bruises as they develop.”
John took Sherlock’s hand as they climbed from the car. “Sounds lovely. Mind if I help?”
“Oh, I expect nothing less,” Sherlock smiled as he led their way back home.
Would you look at that? I finally updated this!
Mycroft and John sit down for a much needed talk.
So, this fic is back. The holiday special kicked my muse back into gear. Considering it's been two years, who knows if anyone is still interested but, here it is. Hope you enjoy it!
Sherlock was frustrating. Jim could be infuriating. But none of the men that came in and out of John’s life terrified him in the way that Mycroft Holmes did. The only one who he wasn’t sleeping with and the one he truly believed would have him killed without a second thought. So when the black car pulled to a stop beside him, John uttered some curses under his breath and stepped inside.
To be honest, he had been expecting this for some time. There was nothing about their lives that Mycroft did not know and so after the incident at the fair, John knew that there would be a visit shortly. Since becoming the lover of both the world’s only consulting detective and the world’s only consulting criminal, John knew that his brother would want a word with him. He sighed heavily as the car pulled away, Anthea pointedly ignoring him once more, as had become their custom. John only hoped that this meeting would take place somewhere more comfortable than a car park or abandoned warehouse. The covert atmosphere Mycroft liked grew old very quickly.
He gave a soft sigh of relief when he was dropped on what appeared to be Mycroft’s own home. There weren’t a lot of family suppers in the Holmes family so John had never seen this place for himself. He knocked on the door, slightly surprised when Mycroft himself opened the door, dressed in something other than a flawless suit. The soft jumper looked remarkably foreign on him but John had to admit that it suited him. “Please, come in, Dr. Watson.” The home was as well-appointed as John would have imagined and he found himself led down a long hallway to a comfortable study. “Brandy?” Mycroft offered, pouring a glass for himself.
John nodded and accepted the second glass with a soft, “Ta.” He took the seat opposite Mycroft, wondering if this was more serious than he had originally imagined. Never had Mycroft be so considerate and kind to him. It was more unnerving than anything John had ever suffered at his hands. “Am I to assume that I am here because of the incident at the fair last week?” He finally asked when the silence dragged on an unpleasant stretch.
“I am aware of what happened,” Mycroft started, looking at his glass instead of at John. “You handled it admirably. It could have been much worse had it not been for your quick thinking. But it made me realize it was time we sat and discussed the situation you have found yourself in. I have been remiss in not contacting you sooner, however, you must understand that no one has ever stuck around after meeting Jim and Sherlock has not been known to keep people close either. I did not think we would get to this point but now that we are here, I offer my sincere apologies that this meeting has been delayed for so long.”
John choked on his drink, having never heard Mycroft apologize to anyone besides Mrs. Hudson. This was a new experience and he wasn’t sure how to process any of it just yet. “I think by now you can see I will not be scared off. And I would appreciate knowing anything you can tell me about this situation. I admit that my medical knowledge on this is limited. I did one rotation in psychiatry but it was ages ago and I have had no chance to put it into use since.” He had done some research once he figured out what condition Sherlock was living with but first-hand knowledge would be much more useful.
Mycroft took a moment, always careful about how much information he gave, regardless of the subject. “It was first noticed when he was at school. He was losing large amounts of time, not showing up to classes that he had been enjoying. They would find him wandering the grounds, causing trouble and not answering to his name, insisting his name to be Jim Moriarty. The Irish accent became our first clue that something had changed. He would only speak like that when asking to be called Jim. His diction, posture, mannerisms, everything else would change as well. It was like seeing another person in my brother’s body. Mummy and Father pulled him out of school, finding the best doctor’s possible. He spent a year in and out of facilities, only to be told that there was nothing to be done. Jim was as much a part of him as Sherlock, we were stuck with him.
“It took only a few episodes before we realized that there was more to worry about than just the fact that Sherlock was losing parts of his life to Jim. Jim was evil, more so than anyone I had ever encountered. We had been close to telling Sherlock about his condition, telling him about the other personality but when I learned just how much trouble Jim was going to be, our parents and I decided it would be best to keep it from him. Never in my life did I consider Jim would become his advisory.”
John had remained silent, taking in all the new information with wide eyes and a gaping mouth. It was obvious the Holmes’ had kept this information from Sherlock, there was no way he would have simply forgotten something as important that. Truly, nothing John had just learned was that surprising. Other than that last part of Mycroft’s comments. Something happened that Mycroft had not anticipated. “You? You didn’t realize that this could happen?” He asked incredulously.
“Believe it or not, Dr. Watson, I am indeed fallible. And I once had a blind spot when it came to my brother. He may be below me in terms of intelligence but he is still the closest thing I have to an equal that I have found. To think that there could possibly be an issue with him did not cross my mind at first.” Mycroft sighed, scrubbing his hand over his face. “But I think Sherlock knew, deep down. I think it is why he turned to the drugs. I have often asked myself if we could have protected him from that by telling him the truth but there is no way to know. And now I wonder how much damage we would do if we were to admit that we have known this for nearly twenty years.”
“Nearly twenty….” John trailed off, staring at Mycroft once more. “Oh my god, Carl Powers. That was Sherlock. Sherlock killed Carl Powers, left the shoes in 221C after all those years, and…” John knew that Sherlock, as Jim, had to have killed people before John came into his life but knowing it without a doubt was something more than he was really prepared to deal with.
Mycroft shook his head, “Not Sherlock. Jim did. You of all people should understand that while they share the same body, they are not the same person.”
The condescending tone made John bristle and he shifted forward in his chair, his voice taking on an icy tone. “But if you arrest one, they will both spend their lives in jail. So you’ve been covering up his crimes all this time so you don’t have to tell him what is happening. And yet have the audacity to question me? You are covering your own arse, Mycroft, not thinking about your brother. I think we are done here.” He stood to leave, grabbing his coat and storming to the door.
It wasn’t until his hand was on the doorknob that Mycroft spoke again, his words soft. “Dr. Watson, I care about my brother. If I did not, I would not have agonized over this for so long. But, yes, you are right. A lot of my decisions have been to save face. Both Sherlock and Moriarty have made names for themselves in the world. If the world were to discover they were the same person, it would ruin Sherlock forever. It would reflect badly on myself, as well as the rest of the family.”
“Bollocks on you, the family, and the world,” John declared as he rounded on Mycroft but did not move away from the door. “There is only one person in the world that I care about and to hell with everyone else.” With that, he stormed from the room, the door slamming shut with a satisfying bang.
The ride home found John thinking over his decision carefully. There was always the chance that Sherlock wouldn’t believe him. There was the chance that the knowledge would bring Jim to the forefront and the man would kill him where he stood. While John was not a Holmes, he was a soldier and knew well how to develop a battle plan when going into a dangerous situation.
With all of that in mind, he breathed a minuscule sigh of relief when he saw Sherlock sitting at the kitchen table and heard the telltale deductions. “I see you’ve been to see Mycroft. Nice of him to take you to his home instead of a warehouse this time.” He glanced up and one look at John’s face had him sighing. “Oh, what did he tell you this time? Some other dull case, I suppose.”
Pursing his lips, John shook his head. “Not dull. The most fascinating case I’ve ever had a privilege of encountering.” Rolling his shoulders back, John made his decision. “Sherlock, I think we need to talk.”
“Sherlock, I think we need to talk.
With anyone else, those words would have sparked a response of panic and fear. In a normal relationship, the one hearing those words would have immediately gone on notice, wondering what types of horror awaited them in the coming conversation; scenarios running through their head, each one worse than the last.
Sherlock was not anyone else. “We talk all the time, John. Is there something in particular on your mind or do you wish to simply fill the silence with inane chatter?”
Rolling his eyes, John felt a small amount of his own tension slip away. A very small amount but noticeable nonetheless. “I have a specific topic in mind and one I think you might find interesting if you could actually stop what you are doing and look at me.”
The clatter of tools on the table was followed by Sherlock joining him in the living room, sitting in his chair opposite John. John knew it was unusual for him to demand Sherlock’s attention so fully so he could see the curiosity shining in his lover’s eyes. “What do you want to discuss? Something to do with your meeting with Mycroft, that much is obvious.”
Now that he was faced with telling Sherlock the truth, John hesitated. Mycroft and the rest of the family must have had a good reason for keeping it from him and John worried that Sherlock would react poorly and it would all be directed at him. Was he willing to risk his relationship and his livelihood so Sherlock could know the truth? The answer was obvious. Sherlock’s well-being was the most important thing and he couldn’t do everything necessary to protect himself if he didn’t know.
“It does have to do with Mycroft but he only filled in a few gaps. The rest I already knew and I apologize for not telling you sooner.” John fidgeted, not bothering to try and hide his nerves from Sherlock. He would see through any attempts that John made anyhow. “You should have known long before I came into your life but there is nothing I can say for your family’s failure to tell you. I can only say I’m sorry for not doing it myself once I realized what was going on.”
He was stalling and Sherlock knew it. Eyes narrowed, he sat forward and scrutinized every inch of John, who squirmed under the gaze. “You are suggesting that there is something about myself that I do not know? And it is clear that you believe that but I am more in tune with myself that almost anyone else I have ever met so I cannot imagine that there is anything you are going to tell me that I don’t already know.”
“You have multiple personalities,” John blurted out if only to get Sherlock to stop talking. “Technically it’s called dissociative identity disorder and you have had it for over twenty years according to your brother.” Whatever Sherlock had been about to say died on his lips and he stared at John, gaping mutely while he continued. “They think something at school must have triggered it because That was when it first showed up. Or, rather, when he first showed up.”
Sherlock was silent for a few minutes, considering everything John had told him. “I suppose of all the things you could have told me, that is one of the few that I wouldn’t necessarily know about myself,” he mused. He was taking it well, something for which John was thankful, though, at the same time, John was unsure whether Sherlock believed him or not. “So I have been having these episodes since I was in school? That was when I started developing my mind palace. I had always thought those blocks of time I lost were when I was there. I never considered that someone else was in control. Fascinating.”
While he was glad that this was going as smoothly as he could have possibly hoped, John wondered if the final piece of the puzzle would be the one to set him over. He was considering how to tell Sherlock who the other person in his mind was when Sherlock beat him to the question.
“The other personality. Tell me about it. I would assume they are as brilliant as I am – it would be unusual to have an ordinary mind using my extraordinary one – but if my memory serves me, one personality rarely has influence over the other.”
“He is brilliant,” John hedged, really wishing Mycroft or Mummy Holmes could have done this years ago. “You could say your equal in every way. At first, I thought it was your subconscious acting out, you were so different and yet completely uninhibited. But your mind works in a very similar way, regardless of who is dominant at the time.”
“He isn’t a consulting detective, though. I would know if there was someone else claiming to be a consulting detective. Oh, don’t tell me he actually works with the Yard. Lestrade would take advantage of that. He probably prefers him, doesn’t he.”
Shaking his head, John sighed, “Lestrade doesn’t know. If he did, you would be in jail right now. Your brother has been protecting you all these years but I thought you deserve to know the truth.” With a deep breath, John told him. “Your other personality is James Moriarty.”
The silence appeared to carry out of 221B and out onto the street. There was no sound in the flat except the pounding of his own pulse in John’s ears. He looked at Sherlock who stared straight ahead, unblinking and unseeing. While John knew something was going on in that great mind of his, John couldn’t hazard a guess as to what that would be.
“Sherlock?” He asked after a few moments had passed. “Are you alright?”
“All this time, I’ve been fighting against myself?” The question was asked softly, rhetorically and John didn’t bother to answer. He knew Sherlock wasn’t talking to him right now. “It makes sense. Who else would have been brilliant enough to keep me entertained for so long? Wait, did you sleep with him?”
John’s eyes widened comically, “Yes, I did. Rather hard to avoid when you go to sleep next to your partner and wake up next to a madman. Easier to play along than get myself killed. Not sure how you would have rationalized that one.”
“Fascinating. I wonder if there is any way to test that. I’ll have to consider a few experiments.”
Focusing on the intellectual aspects of it may have been interesting to Sherlock but John found himself growing more annoyed as Sherlock ignored the more practical problem at hand. “Sherlock,” he growled. “If you are Moriarty and Moriarty has killed people...” His prompt seemed to fall on deaf ears as Sherlock moved to throw himself on the sofa and templed his fingers under his chin. “Are you even listening to me?”
Heavy sigh of exasperation, Sherlock looked over at him, “OI course I am listening and I will be sure to ask him about it. I think it is time Moriarty and I had a meeting, don’t you?”
“Meeting? Have no you not listened to anything I have said? How are you going to meet with someone who is part of your mind.”
The look Sherlock gave him had John feeling as if he were back in Primary school and gave the wrong answer to a simple question. Then, when the two words fell from Sherlock’s lips, John understood that the feeling was well deserved.
To this day, John still didn’t quite understand how the mind palace worked and he certainly was no expert on multiple personalities but he could not see anything wrong with this idea. “Fine, go meet Jim. I’m sure you two will be great friends. And tell him that the next time he shows up, it’s his turn to get the milk..”
“I highly doubt your shopping list will be the subject of conversation, John.”
John huffed his annoyance, “Go to your mind palace, Sherlock. I’ll be thankful for some peace and quiet for once."
Sherlock analyzed his face, looking for any sign of mockery or disapproval. “Alright. I think Moriarty and I have some unfinished business. When we are done, I believe you will only have one of us to deal with from now on.”
With no more words forthcoming, Sherlock appeared to have retreated into himself, leaving John with the dawning horror that if they did succeed in getting rid of the other, what if Sherlock wasn’t the victor?
The final showdown. Or, you might say, the final problem.
Head's up: Mentions of suicide in this chapter (a la Reichenbach). Copious use of Sherlock BBC quotes.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As the silence dragged on, John grew more and more agitated. There was only so much cleaning he could do and telly didn’t provide the distraction it used to. His thoughts centered on Sherlock and how he was handling the information John had unceremoniously dumped on him. But as always, Sherlock didn’t give anything away, simply sitting there with his eyes closed. The silence grew more pronounced with each passing minute and John wished for nothing more than to go out of the flat and away from all of this. But he didn’t dare leave, worried who might be there when Sherlock opened his eyes.
Sherlock was upset. This was why he kept people at arm’s length. Because in the end, they let you down, lied to you. Sherlock had been certain John was different. Everything they experienced together, Sherlock thought he knew the man. But he didn’t even know himself. Maybe that was why he was upset. Because in the end, John and Mycroft knew him better than he knew himself. And for a man who was always in control, that was the most terrifying situation of all.
The mind palace was different now. No longer just a building, it had expanded to include all of London. St. Bart's, he thought to himself, glancing around the lab he spent so much time in. Makes sense. Examining, researching, searching. Those would all fit in a lab setting. John was there too. His conscious? John had always been his conscious since the moment they met. Oh, and mind palace John was yelling at him. Whatever it was, he probably deserved it.
“You machine.” John is quite angry. “Sod this. Sod this. You stay here if you want, on your own.”
Need to respond, need to make him leave so Sherlock can meet Jim. “Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.”
In the end, John settled himself on the couch, assuming Sherlock’s usual position stretched out and staring at the ceiling. He couldn’t even bring himself to leave the room so he would simply wait. Eventually, one of his two lovers would come back and whichever one it was, John would deal with it when it happened. He could do nothing to change the outcome now. Now, it was simply up to Sherlock.
Jim smirked as he received the text. Clever Sherlock. A public place where there would still be no witnesses. The perfect location for their final problem. All these years of dancing around each other but never meeting. Ever since young Carl Powers. They would finally meet and Jim’s life – as well as the world – would finally be rid of Sherlock Holmes.
A few more calls placed and everything was in position. Knowing there was nothing more to be done, Jim made his way to the roof, his favourite song still playing in his head. John was in the stairwell, biding his time, ready to take out Sherlock’s beloved man if he dared interfere with their meeting.
“Ah ha ha ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.” John jolted up, hearing the first sounds from his lover in almost four hours. Whatever was going on inside that brilliant head, Jim seemed to have the upper hand right now. Sherlock hadn’t moved, hadn’t even twitched. Only his mouth moved, just enough to whisper-sing those few words. How John hated that song.
Only then did he allow himself to consider what life would be like if Jim was victorious. They would have to move, that much is certain. Mrs. Hudson knew about the personalities, but she was the only one outside the family. Greg would be obligated to arrest him. There would be a trial and press. “Sherlock Holmes – Fraud!” John could see it now. They would never live a normal life again here in London. Jim had connections all over the world, though. They could travel – disappear. Harry would hardly notice his absence and Sarah would probably find a doctor more willing to work within the schedule she asked.
But after leaving Afghanistan, John never intended to live anywhere besides London again. This was home and he hated the idea of giving it up. He would, for Sherlock (or Jim, in that case) but it was a sacrifice he hoped he wouldn’t have to make.
“Come on, Sherlock,” he muttered. “Beat the bastard and come back to me.”
“You don’t look like me.” It was the first thing Sherlock noticed. Was this the way Jim saw himself? Did he even see Sherlock when he looked in the mirror? Questions he wanted answered. But Jim wasn’t interested in the same thing, which struck Sherlock as odd."I'm disappointed in you, ordinary Sherlock. It took this long for you to finally invite me to meet you. Here I thought we were friends.” Jim shoved his hands into his pockets, looking as comfortable as can be.
That was when it finally dawned on him, “You don’t know. You didn’t know any more than I did. But the difference is now that I do and you don’t.”
“What are you prattling on about? I beat you. I beat you and you now need to play you part. Glad you chose a tall building – nice way to do it.”
“Do what?” Sherlock asked, looking around for any sort of clue what Jim was talking about. “Yes, of course. My suicide.” Jim thought this was real. Jim didn’t know. Sherlock needed to keep him talking to not let him find out.
“’Genius detective proved to be a fraud.’ I read it in the paper, so it must be true. I love newspapers. Fairytales. Once you are out of the way, I will go back to playing with the ordinary people. To start with, your people. Your friends.”
“I don’t have friends.” The words fell easily from his mouth and Sherlock remembered a time when he thought them to be true. “And you’re insane. What happens if I don’t?”
“Your friends will die if you don’t.”
Sherlock felt a momentary stab of fear. John. Mrs. Hudson. Lestrade. Were they safe? What had he done while Jim was in control? For all he knew, he had made these arrangements in real life. But this Jim didn’t realize that none of this was real. And so Sherlock relaxed, circling him, challenging him as they bantered back and forth. Finally, in control and Jim knew it.
An insane light sparkled in Jim’s eyes as he looked at the other man who shared his body without ever realizing. “I see. You’re not ordinary. No. You’re me.” His laugh was high-pitched and deranged. “You’re me! Thank you! Sherlock Holmes.”
Sherlock looked to see Jim offering his hand to shake. “Jim Moriarty,” he nodded, taking the hand in his own. Here he was, shaking hands with the man he had wanted to meet for so long and if things went the way he thought, this would be the one and only time they ever met.
“As long as I’m alive, you can save your friends; you’ve got a way out.” And there it was. Jim took the bait and Sherlock waited. “Well, good luck with that.”
Faster than Sherlock had imagined, Jim pulled him closer. At the same time, he pulled a pistol from his waistband and put it to his own mouth. In less than a second, Jim was gone and Sherlock was left staring at his only equal.
Walking to the edge, Sherlock looked at the people below. Among them, John. Strong, dependable if somewhat unpredictable John. Jim had said that if Sherlock didn’t jump, John would die. And while this was all in his mind palace, Sherlock didn’t want to take chances. What had Jim once said to him? It’s not the fall that kills you. It’s the landing. And if Sherlock did this right, there would never be a landing. With a deep breath, Sherlock took on step forward, his eyes firmly on John and mind on the place where he most wanted to be.
Sherlock gasped back into consciousness, eyes wild and blinking as he took in the scene around him. He had done it. He beat Jim. If he was right, the world would never again have to deal with Moriarty and his web of crime. And Sherlock prided himself on always being right. Those times that he wasn’t hardly counted.
And there, on the couch looking at him with that dumbfounded expression that Sherlock loved so much was John. His mouth hung open and he looked poised to say something though no noise was coming out. Oh, right. He wasn’t sure who he was looking at. “It’s me, John. Sherlock. In case you were wondering.” After sitting for so long, he was desperate to get up and move, so he did just that, pushing out of the chair and making for the kitchen to start a new experiment.
John moved quickly for someone of his stature – something Sherlock always admired – but right now, he was a hindrance, having placed himself between Sherlock and his intended destination. “John, move. I have an experiment that needs tending too and you are blocking me from it.”
“Bollocks on your experiment. You have been in the mind palace for six hours and I think I deserve an explanation of what happened. Where is Jim? Is he coming back? Are you alright?”
Sherlock started to roll his eyes at the onslaught of questions but thought better of it, considering the mood John was in. “I am fine. Jim is dead. I find it is difficult for one to return after shooting themselves through the mouth. We had a battle of the wits, and as expected I came out on top. I did have to throw myself off the building or you would have killed you but in the end, all turned out well. I am fine, as you can see.”
“Jim shot himself?” John hadn’t expected the wave of grief that threatened to drown him at those words. Moriarty was a psychopath, someone who delighted in the pain he caused others. He had killed more people than John cared to think about. But he was also the man who would curl up next to John and laugh over crap telly. Against evidence that would suggest otherwise, he was a caring lover who always asked John’s opinion and occasionally listened. Sherlock was the one John loved but he would miss Jim, in his own way. “You are going to need to start from the beginning.”
So Sherlock did. He outlined everything that had happened while John listened fascinated, horrified and awestruck. “So you think I was the sniper that was going to kill me?” The question sounded ridiculous even to his own ears.
“Yes. He said he had his best man set up to kill me pet. Both of those would describe you, in his mind anyway. So I can only surmise that Jim had his own mind palace version of you. I can’t fathom how he got your personality so wrong but in the end, he had his faults and that was one of them.”
John stared at Sherlock, a smile spreading across his face. “He is gone? Is it just the two of us now? No worrying about which one of you I will wake up to in the morning? Or which one will come out of the mind palace?” It was what he had always wanted. “How do you feel?”
“The same as always. Rather proud of the fact that my greatest nemesis was, in the end, me. I always knew there couldn’t be a match for my intellect.”
“Except for Mycroft.” The smile on John’s face lit up the room, eyes crinkling slightly as Sherlock glared at him. Opening his mouth to protest, Sherlock was stopped with a kiss. “Save it. Go do your experiment and I will order takeaway. How does Niven’s sound?”
Sherlock nodded though his brow furrowed slightly. “Nicer than your usual fare. What is the occasion?”
John smiled. “You are here. I am here. And everything is going to be great from here on out.”
I hope you enjoyed the ride. I know it was a long drawn out process for these five chapters but I'm glad you stuck with it.
This is probably the last of my writing in this fandom. It's been a wild and crazy trip, Sherlock fans and I hope I made it just a little more fun. My love to each and every one of you and thank you again. -J