Title: Burn The Heart Out Of You - Part One: The Game Is On

Author: starjenni

Disclaimer: Not mine!

Pairings: Eventual Sherlock/John, and implied Sherlock/Moriarty if you read upside down and squint.

Warnings: Dark, dark happenings.

Rating: T


Summary: Sherlock has not backed off. Moriarty follows through on his threat. How much of Sherlock must he destroy before Sherlock lets him go?

Part One - The Game is On

He can see sparkles.

They hover in the air, on the floor, on the walls, everywhere, sparkles of white and blue and black, and he is surrounded by them on all sides, and he can hear water, and it is all closing in, closing in on him, everything is closing in -

And then there is the voice.

"We were made for each other, Sherlock."

That damned voice. That stupid, ridiculous, immature, almost amusing and by god dangerous voice. Crowing above the sparkles and sounds of water. "Hi!"

And then he blinks and he is there again, standing by a pool of sparkles and darkness, and that man is standing in front of him, that small, neat, well dressed man, that man with eyes of utter darkness and a smile like a knife blade.

"Back off," he is saying, but Sherlock is moving closer to him, even though he has no weapon, even though there is no logical reason for doing so, he is moving closer to this danger, and the man is laughing, his cold, silly laugh, and it is echoing through the sparkles, and yet still Sherlock advances.

"No," he hears himself say. "God, no."

Moriarty smiles happily.

"Then," he whispers, "I will burn the heart out of you."

The pool explodes.

Sherlock jerks up and, as a result, almost falls off the sofa, and has to scrabble wildly in the air to regain his purchase. Someone in the background says "Sherlock - ", but it is only when he is once more clinging to the sofa arm that he is able to look up. John is standing by the fridge in his pyjamas, holding a bottle of milk and raising an eyebrow. It must have been the sound of the fridge door shutting that made the noise of his dream explosion, Sherlock deduces, and he coughs and straightens himself up to a sitting position.

"Are you all right?" asks John.

The room is covered in papers, concerning everything from London schools to car registration forms. Sherlock has been hunting down every source of information he can find, ringing every contact he can, has spent every last waking moment reading up for any leads he can find on one James Moriarty and every sleeping moment revisiting that moment where the self same man told him, quite bluntly, that he was going to destroy him.

"I'm fine," he says.

It has been two weeks and he has found nothing.

"Tea?" John offers. Sherlock glances up at the clock. It is half past three in the morning. Evidently he is not the only one with something on his mind.

"Please," he says.

They sit amongst the beakers and poisons littering the kitchen table, in various states of disarray, and the birds are starting to sing outside, and the stream of traffic is getting louder. John is sipping at his tea. Sherlock is staring at his, purposefully ignoring the litter of papers lurking in the corner of his eye. His mouth feels furry and his eyes are aching. He can't remember the last time he went outside, or even looked outside.

This is driving him insane.

"You're not like him," says John suddenly.

Sherlock looks up abruptly from his tea, staring at John through the poisons. John is watching him intently, has been for a while, and yet Sherlock has not noticed. This obsession is making him lose his touch.

"Yes, I am," he replies quietly. Because he is. Very much like that dark-eyed, dark-minded man. Too much. He is willing to let people die just so that he cannot be bored. He is willing to do anything, anything for a bit of fun. He wants Moriarty alive because the world would be flat and dull without his carefully arranged murders.

John picks at something on his pyjama sleeve. "No," he says steadily. "You're not."

Sherlock does not bother responding. John is wrong.

"No one ever gets to me. And no one ever will."

He is lying on the floor amongst the papers, and the curtains are closed but there is a tiny stream of light flickering through the darkness, and it is annoying him, but he is too preoccupied to get up and sort it out. There is no birth certificate, there is nobody called James Moriarty, there is nothing, there is nothing, there is nothing. So he changed his name. But other checks, more illegal checks, have provided him still with nothing. He has no clue. And Sherlock with no clues is lost.

"People have died."

"That's what people DO!"

The scream echoed around the swimming pool. The scream echoed through him. Because he'd said that earlier, hadn't he, to John, he had said something like that before…

"Try to remember there's a woman who might die."

"What for?"

He doesn't care. What does he care? All he cares about is the thrill of the chase. The thrill of the case.

John is so wrong. He is like him.

His phone is ringing. No, wait. Not his phone. The pink one.

It is sitting on the edge of the table nearby and it is ringing, rattling insistently against the desk.

He stands up, slowly. The phone does not stop. The number is withheld, as it always is. It must be him. It has to be him.

He looks around the room, carefully, as if by doing so he may find Moriarty lurking in one of the darkened corners, or find a bomb ticking away unobtrusively somewhere, waiting for him to pick up the phone and end it all. But of course there is not, there was never going to be, and the phone is still ringing, so he picks it up.

There is silence on the other end. "Hello," he says warily.

"Hi!" chirps that voice at the other end, that voice, the voice on the brink of insanity. For a moment, he is back at the pool, in a world of sparkles and light and burning.

"Oh," he tries to say casually. "So you're using your own voice this time."

The voice shudders again into that shade of darkness, that tiny indication of the absolutely immense malevolence that is lurking beneath it. "I thought you would like to hear it. Since I'm sure you think about it so often, am I right Sherlock? Do you think about me? Do you dream about me?"

And he's actually breathless, breathless with overwhelming hatred and…yes, and fear. Moriarty can read him as effortlessly as he can read the rest of the world. He has never known anyone to do it to him before - oh, there is Mycroft of course, but Mycroft has always been more subtle, certainly more subtle than Sherlock will ever be, and always knew when not to say certain things, when to leave the person with the incorrect notion that their thoughts are their own. But this man…this man can take him apart in a single phone call. Is this how people think about Sherlock all the time? Is this how wary they feel around him, how intimidated? He must be hideous to be around.

"What do you want," he says and, try though he might, his voice shivers a little on the last syllable.

Moriarty is as unlikely to miss this as he is. He laughs delightedly, setting Sherlock's teeth on edge.

"Have you found anything on me yet?" he asks, in a mockery of polite conversational tones. "Bet it's been driving you crazy, hasn't it Sherlock, to find nothing? Doesn't it drive you mad?"

"What the hell do you want?" Sherlock snaps. His hand is shaking on the phone now, and he hates it, he hates it. Nobody should terrify him like this. No one should send his pulse into overdrive like this. Not him.

"I warned you," Moriarty's disembodied voice says, finally, finally cold. "I said back off, Sherlock, do you remember? And yet I hear things, things which upset me, Sherlock. And I…well, I really don't like being upset."

Sherlock can't help but laugh. There is nothing else he can do. "Did you ever imagine I would leave this?"

"Perhaps," Moriarty says. "If you were sensible. I thought you might be. But you are not." His voice drops into a snarl, a primitive animal noise that weakens Sherlock's knees. "Don't think I won't do what I said, Sherlock. I will burn you."

Sherlock glances over at the papers strewn across the dark floor. He wants to kill this man, and yet he cannot help but love this, all of it, every second, and the thought both chills and thrills him.

"Just try it," he says, and hangs up.

John arrives to find Sherlock sitting in the dark amongst hundreds of papers, his face the colour of cheese, or off milk. He is staring at the opposite wall, and one glance at him tells John that he is thousands of miles away.

It's the pink phone lying in one limp hand that tells John what has happened.

"He rang," he says.

Sherlock doesn't say anything, but a nervous tick in his cheek tells John all he really needs to know.

John presses his lips together. He could say Sherlock, do what he says and leave him alone or Sherlock, this will kill you, for god's sake but it would be like screaming for help in the middle of an ocean. Pointless. Hopeless.

He sighs and goes into the kitchen to unpack the shopping.

Lestrade rings Sherlock the next day, and Sherlock enters John's room only to pluck him up from the computer and throw his coat at him.

"British Museum. C'mon."

And with that, they're off in the next cab, and John is hoping that possibly, just possibly, this means that Sherlock has been sensible and indeed has moved on like John couldn't quite suggest.

This is not, however, the case, as John realises when they enter the museum and Lestrade is there, holding a pale envelope in his hand and an air of resigned desperation.

"For you," he says, neatly depositing the envelope in Sherlock's hand. John is expecting Sherlock to examine this envelope as closely as he did the previous one, which held his pink phone, but he barely glances at the name before he is ripping it unceremoniously open.

On the letter inside is written only two words.

Last chance.

"What the hell does that mean?" Lestrade asks, but Sherlock has gone deathly pale again, and John is too busy worrying if he's going to have to deal with a fainting man to tell Lestrade what he suspects.

"Where did you find this?" Sherlock whispers.

"The Rosetta Stone?" John says incredulously. "The - the actual - ?"

"Yes," says Dr. Williams, the pushy, short-tempered curator of the museum, apparently sick of telling people the same information over and over again, especially facts this reputation-damaging. "Someone has taken the Rosetta Stone, okay? Right. Brilliant."

It is impossible, but the proof is there, a large glass case and an emptiness where the Rosetta Stone used to be. John has come to see it, once or twice. It has always been surrounded by four or five layers of tourists, all taking photos of whatever piece of it they can see from their vantage point. The staff have closed off this area now, and the lack of people is just a little unnerving.

"No one heard anything," the curator is saying. "No one noticed anything. None of the security alarms were tripped, and we have many of them, all new, all fully functioning. CCTV shows that simply one second it is there, the next it isn't. The glass case is completely intact."

"Intact?" John blurts out. "You mean - ?"

Dr. Williams shrugs. "Somehow they took the entire thing without once touching the case."

Lestrade is scribbling notes to one side. "We found no fingerprints, no footprints, no eyewitness accounts whatsoever. It's like it simply vanished."

John stares at the empty case. He can see Sherlock through it, bundled up in his great coat, arms folded, face still a sickly colour.

He moves round to where Sherlock is standing; the man's mouth is moving but John can't hear what he is saying, he is mouthing the words.

"Moriarty, do you think?" he asks.

"Definitely," says Sherlock, apparently surveying every inch of the glass at once.

John huffs, mind working in overdrive. "And the letter?"

"A test." Sherlock's voice has adopted that faraway tone he has. "If I take the case, he will do it."

John frowns. "Do what?"

The look Sherlock gives him is cold and utterly intense and terrifying. "Burn the heart out of me," he says.