Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not one teeny, tiny little dot.
ACD deserves the credit for the orginals and Mr Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for the characters in this guise.
Part 2 of the 'Wicked Games' series starring Mr James Moriarty (Jim to his friends) and Mr Sebastian Moran. Part 1 being The Call to Service.
Sebastian turned the corner into the deserted alley, shedding the drizzle-slick Macintosh he was wearing, wrenching the peaked cap from his head and pulling a smart, black briefcase from the khaki satchel he'd had slung over his shoulder. It joined the other garments in the closest bin.
Steady fingers combed through damp hair and he took in a slow drag on a cigarette he had just lit, the red tip the only colour in the grey world.
Job number 50, completed just as ordered, he thought to himself as he exhaled, blowing the smoke out from between his lips in a steady stream.
Fifty, that was quite milestone really: fiftieth birthdays, fiftieth anniversaries, fiftieth jubilees, all warranted a special celebration.
Perhaps he'd be able to persuade the boss to buy him a drink.
A cool smirk twisted up the edges of his lips; yeah, like that was ever going to happen.
He had been working for three months now and since their initial meeting had seen hide nor hair of the funny, little Irishman, except for the frequent one line texts that would pop up on his phone to the sound of The Beatle's Yellow Submarine telling him a time, place and a picture of the target he was to hit.
It was quick and efficient and Seb liked it, though he couldn't for the life of him work out how to change that bloody ringtone!
He found his senses rapidly sharpening and his trigger finger itching for use any time when he wasn't awarded with a kill. It was just like being back in the heydays of his military career. Perhaps better he sometimes hypothesised after a very good job. Not having an angry captain breathing down your neck was a pleasant reprieve.
Not that they weren't watched however because they were…intensely.
Every single one of the gunmen and hired thugs amongst whose ranks he was counted had their every move followed by Moriarty as if he were their shadow, and if they made a wrong move punishment was guaranteed. Usually the offender would disappear for a few days and return with a strange dullness to their eyes and some part of their body missing, if the mistake was one of too many-too many fluctuating depending on the mood of the boss-then they just wouldn't return. There was no doubt who was in charge; if Jim arrived at your door at two o'clock in the morning and ordered you to dance then you danced...or you were dead.
Yes, there was something utterly terrifying about the man but still Seb felt himself irresistibly pulled into range like a wild animal to bait. Soon he would be well and truly trapped…if he wasn't already, which he almost certainly was.
And yet he wouldn't change it, not for anything. The smell of gun oil and the sharp jolt of a shot were far too addictive. He would rather die than give it up again.
One day it would probably come to that.
He rubbed a rough palm over his face feeling three days' worth of stubble on his chin, he needed to shave and those thoughts had been far too philosophical for early on a Monday morning. He looked up the alley to the quiet road that ran past the top end.
Where the bloody hell was the car?
As if psychically called, and some days Seb did wonder, a battered white Citroen pulled up not twenty paces away. He approached warily though tried to make it look as if he wasn't; the grizzled older man in the driver's seat was not known to him though that was hardly surprising. Sebastian got the distinct impression that even if he somehow managed to maintain Moriarty's favour for twenty years, a feat so far unaccomplished, he still would be no closer to knowing the thousands of people snared in the web of his boss.
The man didn't react as he approached, just sat there drumming his fingers against the steering wheel, the beat growing faster and faster.
There was a crack from behind, a foot coming down on a glass bottle, Moran span but not fast enough to avoid the hypodermic needle that was shoved through the expensive material of his shirt into his neck.
The world grew fuzzy almost instantly, and dark, as if someone had painted a cloud over the Sun.
There was noise, a lot of noise; heavy footsteps, words that Seb's hazy brain couldn't make out and the banging of a door being swung violently back and forth on poorly oiled hinges.
Seb was on the ground now, his muscles twitching as the drug spread rapidly through his system. Hands latched onto his shoulders pulling him along the floor and bundling him into the back of the van. His mind was reeling, it wouldn't be long before whatever they had given him had its full effect. His temple hit something solid with a nasty crack and the world shuddered around him even more violently.
I hope they'd picked up my gun-case, he thought as everything disappeared, even the sound of his own slow heartbeat, it would be a terrible, terrible shame if I lost it.
Sebastian woke bound tightly to a chair; he could feel the knots grinding into his wrists and ankles with every movement. He couldn't feel his fingers. Blood pounded heavy in his ears, it felt like someone was slowly tightening a vice around his skull and his vision was clouded red and black.
Blinking once, twice the haze around his head gradually began to clear and was replaced by the blinding yellow of a high-powered spotlight.
Seb sighed; it came out as a growl deep in his throat.
His life was becoming a gangster movie.
A person-shaped silhouette appeared from nowhere and stood before him, they were short and thin and if Seb had been free he would have snapped them in half.
"Colonel Moran?" their voice was high pitched to the point that it made Sebastian wince.
Sebastian didn't reply.
Something sharp pressed against the crease of his neck.
"Colonel Moran, isn't it?" the voice repeated, just as high and yet somewhat harder. Sebastian cleared his throat, feeling the metal point press deeper into his flesh as he did so.
"I'm not a Colonel anymore," he snarled and the knife withdrew a little, "You can call me Seb," he gave a smirk that was completely out of place in the situation, "if you want."
Seb couldn't see the other man's face but when he spoke again he could almost hear the smile.
"Cocky, little bastard aren't you! Do you know why you're here…Seb?"
Sebastian gave another smirk.
"I think I can make a pretty good guess."
The sihouette laughed, cold and mocking. The sound sawed through Sebastian's head.
"Of course you can. Captured by the Taliban, weren't you?"
Seb held back a sigh.
The MOD really needed to make their files less hack-able.
Without stepping any closer the shadowy figure seemed to engulf him, swallowing him in a blackness deeper and more inevitable than fear because Sebastian Moran did not fear, it was not an emotion he subscribed to.
"You'll be begging for them before I'm through with you."
Three…two…one…Seb felt the final dribble of air leave his lips, his mind screamed at him.
He was pulled roughly back, face dripping, gasping for breath.
Someone laughed behind him, the water in his eyes and the hands on his shoulders made him blind but he could guess who it was, that icy tone was unmistakable.
"Had enough have we Seb?"
Seb didn't move an inch and he certainly didn't answer, every word that came out of that invisible mouth was a trap and despite what most people saw, he wasn't an idiot.
"Not very talkative are we?"
There was a sudden snap of fingers, too loud in the quiet of the room and Seb found himself tugged to his feet.
Supported on either side by faceless men he was back on the chair before he had a chance to struggle, the bonds around his wrists and ankles biting into his skin worse than before.
"Maybe I'd talk if you asked me some questions."
Sebastian suggested with what was supposed to be a shrug of his shoulders, instantly regretting his loss of quiet control.
This was exactly what his captor wanted, snapping conversation in which Sebastian would eventually inevitably let something important slip.
"If you don't talk generally darling, what chance have I got of getting anything specific out of you?"
Seb fell into silence again and the shadow smiled, he couldn't see but he could feel it like a knife through his chest.
"You know why you're here Seb," the hiss was snakelike, the slap that followed stung like a slash across his cheek, "I suggest you start talking."
Seb's face twisted in the gloom, the expression blooming beneath the red handprint like a taunting beacon in the darkness.
There was another hiss and another slap.
Seb just kept smiling.
He didn't know how long he'd been in the darkness, he'd have guessed about ten hours if every neuron in his brain wasn't burning.
He glanced down at the blossoming red and black marks on his bare legs, noticing the large puddles of dark liquid pooling around his toes; it was warm but too thick to be urine. It was no surprise he was feeling light-headed.
Something cold and razor sharp bit into his back, right between his shoulder blades, etching a curved mark right down to the bone.
He gave no reaction, a few hours ago he might have stifled a gasp but the pain had blurred at the edges now, just a fact of his existence. It was hard to even recall a time when there hadn't been the searing stab of a knife edge or the dull thud of a metal rod.
The shadow was very good at this game.
"Going to talk yet Mr Moran?" His torturer's voice was deeper that before…and slower. Or perhaps that was just him. Perhaps he was going into shock. He looked down at the dark lakes again; if he wasn't already it certainly wouldn't take much longer.
Slowly he raised his face back to the darkness, staring in the direction of the voice with tightly pursed lips. It wasn't that he feared he would let something slip or even that he was going to scream, he'd simply rather not grant the man and his minions such easy access to his tongue. He was rather fond of it and Seb knew the game well enough to play a few cheats of his own.
There was a snap of fingers, the caress of smooth metal faded from his back only to reappear with another snap of fingers at his throat. It caught just below his ear, a hot trickle of blood dribbled down his neck, pulled by gravity to join its brothers.
"I'm disappointed Mr Moran," he sounded anything but, "I thought you were an intelligent man. I had been hoping it wouldn't come to this. I could have used someone like you."
Seb remained utterly still, the knife pressed against his jaw just a little harder; there was a second trickle of blood.
"What does he give you that's worth dying for?"
Seb didn't even think about it, he just allowed a lazy smirk to slip onto his lips.
"So touchingly loyal," the shadow said again, disgust colouring his tone red.
The knife edge dug a tad deeper.
Three months, Seb thought passively, three months and I've signed my life away.
A fresh rivulet of blood spread sticky heat down the side of his neck.
Of course he'd known that as soon as he'd shaken that ice-cold hand in that deserted warehouse: you only left the service of James Moriarty if you were carried out feet first. Seb only wished he'd had a longer stint. He had lived in the past three months more than he had in two years since his return from India.
The blade was moving now, shifting gently beneath his chin.
He prepared himself for the slit.
This was it then.
At least it was dramatic, far better suited to a decorated soldier than choking on one's own vomit down some sleazy back street in Manchester.
The knife point jabbed into the base of his neck, hard and yet somehow far more gently than he'd anticipated.
He pushed a smile onto his lips a final triumph over the shadow.
Then he died.
Sebastian woke in his bed. The alarm clock on his sparse bedside table blinked angrily at him, the digits red as blood. 3:21. The numbers meant nothing to him but the unpleasant ache throughout his body told him he'd been asleep…or more accurately drugged…for a while.
He rolled over, cursing aloud as his back protested the movement. There were red stains on his sheets. He would have to buy new ones.
The muffled jingle of a Beatle's song sounded somewhere beneath him, not 'Yellow Submarine' this time but again not something he ever remembered loading onto his phone. He groaned, scrambling slowly to find the crying device, finally discovering it hiding beneath his pillow.
"Hello," his voice was scratchy. He couldn't remember screaming, he hoped to God he hadn't.
"Good morning Moran."
Sebastian straightened instantly.
"What fucking game are you playing with me?"
Over the phone the shadow chuckled, his voice morphing from the high pitch whine into something far more chilling.
Sebastian's fingers tightened around the small, silver piece of plastic, the casing creaking in response.
"Just a bit of training Colonel. I can't let you into the inner circle if you're going to go and snitch on me at the first, little bit of torture," the Irish lilt made the whole thing sound like some twisted jingle, not helped by the fact that the man was singing rather than talking.
"You! You fucking bastard." Seb snapped without thinking, momentarily forgetting those terrifyingly, empty eyes. Of course he should have known: only Moriarty and the clean-up crew had known where he was, he should have worked it out in an instant.
There was a moment's silence and then a jagged inhalation of breath.
"You did so well Colonel, don't spoil it now."
Seb swallowed the next round of curses well aware that grumbling would get him nowhere, except tied to a concrete block at the bottom of the Thames.
"In fact," the Irishman continued, his voice perking up again, "I'm soooooo impressed I've got you another job. This one's an especially important hit, to be done before my meeting this afternoon, absolutely no cock-ups."
If anyone else had been making the offer…or rather the demand…it would have been perfectly normal to refuse; Seb could barely move without grimacing yet alone lie on a rooftop in the cold for six hours waiting for a target.
But this was Moriarty and Seb knew beyond all doubt that this was just another part of the test, a test that would be on-going until he ended up on a cold, metal slab with a bullet in his back. Unimaginative, he'd think up something far better than that.
"Shall I send a car round?"
Seb recalled the last vehicle he'd been sent and shook his head.
"I think I can manage."
"Goooood," the man over the phone drawled, his smirk clear in his tone, "I'll have the details sent to your phone," Moran stifled another pained moan as he swung his legs over the side of the bed, beyond overjoyed to see his gun case tucked neatly away in the corner of the room.
"I expect to have Richardson's head on my desk before one," there was something wicked in his voice now," and I mean literally Moran."
Seb didn't question the order; it was all a part of the challenge and if there was one thing he had never been able to decline it was a challenge, the more outrageous the better. The curse of the adrenaline addict.
"Is that clear?"
He waited, the phone pressed hard against his ear, for the inevitable beep to end the phone call. It didn't come.
"And Moran…" there was a pause, an unplanned one Seb was certain; it made him nervous, more nervous than the feeling of a blade against his throat, "….congratulations on making fifty."
So! I hope you enjoyed that even though it's not Jim/Seb...yet.