A/N: This story first appeared over on Jedi Council forums. It garnered a certain amount of attention, since it ain't your average crossover. Hopefully, you folks here will enjoy it as much as my friends over at the JC did. I welcome constructive reviews and, of course, slavish praise. ;)
Disclaimer: I don't neither Holmes nor Watson, nor Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn, or Moriarty. Or Mrs. Hudson. The rest, more or less, are my creation. Whatever my personal gripes with Mr. Lucas, he surely created a lovely sandbox to play in.
The sound of a door slamming and feet pounding up the stairway alerted me that my friend and erstwhile housemate, Sherlock Holmes, was returning home after a night of doing who knows what on the foggy streets of London. I had returned to our rooms at 221B Baker street from paying a call to my fiancée, Mary, the night before, to discover no sign whatsoever of Holmes. Though I am by no means the genius at deduction that he is, I came to the conclusion that he had found something entertaining to pursue, and promptly went to bed. I had long ago learned that sitting up and worrying would only cost me sleep and irritate Holmes. He hated sentiment, even of the brotherly sort.
Now it was well after nine in the morning, and I was in Holmes's cluttered study, enjoying an after-breakfast cup of tea Mrs. Hudson, our landlady and housekeeper, had brought up to me, and perusing the morning news. Having been alerted by the commotion on the stairs that Holmes had returned, I did not bother looking up from the paper as the door burst open.
"He's back, Watson!" my friend said enthusiastically. He was slightly winded, and as I looked up from my reading, I could see that he had forgotten his hat. His black hair was sticking up in spots, and this, combined with his sharp, prominent features and mostly black clothing, made him rather resemble a crow that had gotten caught on the wrong end of a windstorm.
"Who is?" I asked, though I could only think of two 'he's' off the top of my head that could get Holmes so worked up. One was his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty, and the other was Moriarty's henchman, former spy Colonel Sebastian Moran. And though Moran was, in his own way, nearly as dangerous as Moriarty, Holmes's obvious state of agitation made me place my money on Moriarty. He'd defeated Moran once, but only managed to foil Moriarty's schemes thus far, and Holmes didn't get this excited over someone he'd already beaten.
Holmes flung his long frame into the wicker chair he favored and lounged as only Holmes can. He ceased resembling a wind-tossed crow and became a rumpled cat instead, grey eyes narrowed on some ineffable secret. "Oh, come now, Watson. Surely you can guess."
I sighed. There were days when it seemed to me that my whole purpose in Holmes's life was as a whetstone on which to sharpen his wits. But at least this time I could be reasonably sure that my guess would be the correct one. "Moriarty?"
"He has been spotted in Woking!" Holmes leaned over the side of his chair, rummaging through the accumulated clutter. After a moment, he emerged triumphantly with his pipe. Stuffing it with the vile shag he favored, he continued. "He's keeping a very low profile. No doubt he has some new, nefarious scheme to hatch!" He sounded disgustingly excited about it. This, from a man who scoffs at the Whitechapel murders as 'unimaginative' and 'boring'. It is little wonder that Scotland Yard is none too fond of him.
"And you, of course, are going to foil it." I shook out my paper, trying to look disinterested. As fascinating as Holmes's adventures can be, and as much as I usually enjoyed them, I'd no desire to tangle with Professor Moriarty again. He was probably the one man on the planet I would cheerfully tie to a rock and toss into the Thames, and not feel a single twinge of remorse.
"Of course," Holmes replied, with that maddening arrogance of his. He lit his pipe and puffed contentedly at it for several moments. I did my best to ignore him. It was odd, but the times when I found him most insufferable were when he was on the high of a new challenge, or when he was at the very bottom of boredom, and consoling himself with his hypodermic needle. I hated boredom the worst, since it drove him to indulge in that vile habit of his, but when he was feeling arrogant he could be downright offensive.
"Do you think you will catch him this time?"
"We shall see." His eyes were alight with the prospect of a challenging hunt.
Sometimes, I wonder if he really wants to catch Moriarty.
Holmes left a little while later, dressed as a singularly messy old beggar. I had noticed, over the years, that he tended to favor the elderly in his disguises. I'd asked him about it once over dinner, and he'd explained: "My features lend themselves far better to age than youth, Watson. Also, people tend to dismiss the elderly, and that can be a great advantage. And," he added a little irritably, "I make an extremely ugly young woman."
"That hasn't stopped you before," I had murmured, recalling a particularly appalling evening gown and hairpiece stashed among his disguises.
"But people remember a very ugly young lady, Watson. I'd rather not use that too much. Better to be an ugly old lady, or an old man. In all honesty, I prefer being an old man. Until they invent more comfortable clothing for women, I'd rather not disguise myself as one too often."
Dinner conversations with Holmes are so interesting.
After I had seen my friend off, I finished my paper, and went downstairs to see if I could wheedle some lunch from Mrs. Hudson. She was a short, plump woman of indeterminate age, kind-faced and cheerful, with warm blue eyes and a full head of silvering blonde hair. She mothered Holmes and I indiscriminately, though it drove my friend to distraction. He hated people being protective of him. As for myself, I found her endearing. She reminded me of my own mother, God rest her soul.
"Good afternoon, Doctor," she greeted me as I entered the kitchen. Her hands were covered in flour from the bread dough she was kneading. "Mr. Holmes is off again, I see."
Holmes would have left through the back door in the kitchen. It would have been extremely odd for a grungy old vagrant to be seen leaving through the front. "Yes. It seems that Professor Moriarty has been spotted in London."
She frowned a little. "The Professor? Well, now, that can't be good. I suppose this means Mr. Holmes will be keeping late hours again." Mrs. Hudson shook her head. "And here I was just getting used t' having a full night's sleep."
"Don't worry yourself, Mrs. Hudson. Holmes is perfectly capable of handling himself." I didn't sound convincing even to myself.
"Ha," she said scornfully. "And he'll no doubt be dragging you along with him soon."
I hadn't thought of that. I would have to speak to Mary, so she wouldn't be upset with me if she didn't see me as often over the next few weeks as she did now. She knew what Holmes was like; I was certain she'd understand. All the same, I found myself fervently hoping that if Moriarty really was in London that Holmes could find and stop him quickly. I was fonder these days of domesticity than I was of crawling through London's seamy underbelly.
Holmes returned later that afternoon, and I could see immediately from the rigid set of his features that he was troubled about something. Knowing that he would be impossible until he'd gotten it out of his system, I immediately asked what was wrong. He snarled at me for a few minutes, no doubt hoping to start a fight, but when he realized that he wasn't going to get a rise from me he relented.
"I spoke to Mycroft this afternoon. His people have been keeping an eye on Moriarty for some time."
I raised my eyebrows. "I didn't know your brother's, ah, office was watching the Professor."
"Neither did I," Holmes growled. "It appears that Sebastian Moran was once in the employ of the Foreign Office. During Afghanistan," he added with a meaningful look at me. As if on cue, my shoulder twinged. "And now that he's working for Moriarty, it seems that the Professor is suddenly taking an interest in things political." He steepled his fingers, resting his chin lightly on their tips. "I shudder to think what would happen if Moriarty ever got his hands on state secrets. Or someone with real power." Holmes frowned, and I could fairly hear the gears in his mind whirring. "I wonder if that's what he's after—perhaps he's looking for a hold on someone in the Cabinet. He certainly isn't above blackmail."
Neither are you, I thought, but did not say it aloud. It disturbed me, sometimes, how very much Moriarty and Holmes were alike. If it were not for Holmes's deep love of humanity I would not have been surprised if he had become another James Moriarty. They were both brilliant far beyond the ken, not overly troubled by scruples, and driven by their brilliance to be the best. Fortunately for Holmes, he sought to be the best criminal investigator, not the best criminal, and he allowed his relative casualness about certain laws to be governed by an underlying set of unshakeable morals. Moriarty, from what I had seen, had no such compunctions. He also had been around far longer than Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had turned thirty-three earlier in the year, though he looked older, and I had placed Moriarty to be of Holmes's father's generation. He had experience on his side.
"Is Mycroft going to help?"
"Not actively," Holmes said with a wry smile. Holmes claimed Mycroft was far smarter than he ever dreamed of being. I was inclined to believe this, simply because Holmes was never humble about anything concerning his abilities. Otherwise, the two brothers could not have been more different. While Holmes was constantly driven to do things, almost to the point of being hyper, Mycroft was the laziest man I'd ever met. He was enormously fat, and more often than not preferred to stay either at his apartments or his club and direct the efforts of his underlings from a comfortable armchair. He was officially some sort of accountant, but I had learned quickly that his 'accounting' had very little to do with money and a great deal to do with international relations. His 'firm' was barely even known to the Foreign Office, it seemed, and one of his duties was to keep an eye on them. A guardian for the guardians, as it were. "He'd rather have me do his work for him," Holmes continued. "I suppose I don't mind, but this time he's not going to get it for free."
I blinked. "You're going to make your own brother pay you for the privilege of chasing a man you would chase anyway? And you don't think Mycroft won't know that?"
Holmes flashed me one of his rare, genuine grins, transforming his ascetic features. "Oh, Mycroft knows, and it's irritating him to no end. But he'll pay me, because he knows he owes me. I pulled his fat—if you'll excuse the rather crude term—out of the fire a few years ago. He may be smarter than I, but his laziness gets him into trouble every now and then."
I shook my head, smiling. "He's not going to speak to you for months."
"Oh, he'll reconcile himself to it soon enough, especially if I catch Moriarty. Though he may not forgive me for not letting him have the credit, like I usually do." He peeled off his fake nose and dropped it absently into his beggar's cap. "I'm going to go clean up, Watson, and then you and I are going out for a walk."
"I don't suppose it's social?" I asked, a sinking feeling settling in my stomach.
"That depends on how you define 'social', my friend." He paused in the doorway. "Bring your revolver."