A/N- I offer no explanations or apologies. This is basically going to be a vaguely linear collection of utter crack based on my favourite villains coming together. There are a few AU bits- from Doctor Who in particular- but they're stated in the fic. There probably won't be any clear pairings, but there'll be a lot of preslash/ Ho Yay because that's how I roll. I hope you enjoy reading it anywhere near as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Jim had had such high hopes.
After Sherlock's little trip off the roof (even if the asshole somehow managed to take a detour and miss the ground), things had been dull. Painfully dull. Jim was used to lying low, but he had been forced to take it to new extremes: after all, the world thought that he had put a bullet through his head. It would not do to be seen walking around. He had been alright, though. The knowledge that he had won was more than enough to keep him content.
But then Sherlock's pet managed to finally get his name cleared, and Sherlock went from a rightfully punished villain to a martyr so fast it made Jim's head spin. John refused to discuss their personal life and disappeared from public attention straight after Sherlock was declared innocent, but the damage was already done. Suddenly the papers were full of articles proclaiming Sherlock's innocence and debunking Richard Brook. Fan sites bloomed and tripled overnight. 221B Baker Street became something of a shrine.
But even that had been okay. Yes, it had made Jim very angry, and one or two people had died as a result, but he could just about cope with it. After all, he had still won. He had gotten what he wanted- Sherlock dead, John broken, story over. Media attention began to die down and the Holmes tragedy was almost left behind, when who reappeared but the man himself?
A few more people had died after that. Two or three. Or ten. Jim lost count.
All the fuss over Sherlock's return grated at Jim, day in and day out. He had faked his own death too, after all- he just hadn't been as damn brazen as to flaunt it afterwards. Admittedly neither Sherlock or John would talk to the press, and the detective seemed nothing other than irritated at the extra attention, but that wasn't the point. The point was that people thought that Sherlock Holmes had beat him.
Luckily Jim had managed to get a hold of himself- his first instinct had been to move into the spotlight himself, with the use of more bombs and possibly more children- and had opted to remain in the shadows. It was the best thing he could do. He would remain hidden, build his empire and re-establish his name as one to be feared and respected. He had brought down Sherlock Holmes once; he could do so again.
Or at least, that had been the plan. With the shouts and crashes still sounding behind him nearly forty minutes after they had started, Jim put his head on the desk and sighed heavily. Where had things gone so wrong?
Retrospectively, it was probably down to his much-regretted agreement to form alliances. I might be the devil, but hell is other people.
It had all started exactly four months after Sherlock's reappearance, when the media frenzy was finally beginning to die down. James Moriarty had been doing some very important business for a very important client- drugs trade, nothing particularly interesting- when said client had died halfway through a phone call. Loudly, agonisingly. Jim sat at the other end and waited patiently. After a few minutes, somebody else picked up the mobile, their breathing heavy.
"I don't think your friend is coming back," the new voice eventually said, deep but almost childlike in its delight.
"That man was going to pay me a lot of money very soon," Jim said calmly, "and now he can't. Can you see why that might upset me a little?"
"I can't see why I should care."
Jim chuckled down the phone. "Oh, you're a funny one. But I don't think that you want to make me angry."
"I've heard that threat before- and trust me when I say that its speaker had significantly more anger management issues," the voice replied. "Go back to your dolls, little one. Don't play with things you can't understand."
The man hung up, and Jim smiled into the dial tone. "I think I've made a friend," he murmured out loud.
For once, Jim was glad that Sherlock was around. The detective had soon gotten drafted into the mysterious case of the man brutally murdered halfway through a telephone call, and had really done most of the hard work for him. It was child's play to tap phones, and soon Jim was listening to a purely delightful feed.
"You're looking for a man named Loki Laufeyson," Sherlock was saying. Jim took notes on the back of an old envelope, doodling smiley faces whenever there was a pause in information. "Yes, that Loki Laufeyson."
"It's impossible, Sherlock," Lestrade said tiredly on the other end. "I know people on the New York team who dealt with the Laufeyson case. Loki was removed back to Asgard to be punished there. There's no way he could have gotten back."
"Well, clearly he did," Sherlock said, sounding annoyed as always, "otherwise he wouldn't currently be committing murders in London."
"Can you be sure it's him?"
"I've never been wrong yet, and I have no intentions of beginning now." Jim rolled his eyes at that. Big show off. "It's Loki alright, and a lot of people are in a lot of danger unless he is stopped."
Jim had stopped paying attention by that point. He was already on his laptop, fingers flying over the keys. 'Loki Laufeyson' brought him a wide array of web results. Torture, death, murder, deceit, trickery… it read like pornography to Jim.
(Of course, there was a significant amount of that too- apparently teenage girls felt strongly attracted to sexualised serial killers. Jim wondered where he could get a following like that.)
Jim remembered Loki's near destruction of New York, obviously. How could anybody forget it? It had changed the very way the world worked. He had taken mild interest in the group named the Avengers, but they were miles away and nothing to do with him. He would start caring when an Asgardian demi-god put a hammer through his own front door, and no sooner.
Jim hadn't paid any attention to Loki at all- he had been defeated, and Jim had no time for failures. But if Loki had managed to escape and return for round two, perhaps he was more notable than Jim had thought. Besides, he wasn't beyond giving a person second chances.
Jim Moriarty was not a man that 'did' companionship. The closest he had ever gotten was Sebastian, who still thought he was dead. Hell, maybe Seb himself was dead. Jim didn't know. It didn't really matter.
What mattered was that there was somebody new on the scene, killing people and blowing things up, and that really wouldn't do. London belonged to Jim. He would be having a word with Mr Laufeyson, and things would go one of two ways. Either they would fight each other, or they would fight together. Jim didn't know which possibility excited him more.
It took him a fair amount of effort track Loki down, but a web remains long after the spider dies. Jim had enough people left in enough places to narrow down Loki's position within days. The much anticipated meeting actually occurred in an alleyway, of all places.
"Nice helmet," he said, leaning against the wall. The man (was he a man?) turned around slowly, armour flickering away from his body as he did so. He was still ridiculously overdressed- all tight leather and boots- but Jim could hardly condemn a tendency towards exhibition. Greeting the police draped in the crown jewels had somewhat dampened his right to judgement.
"I spoke to you on the phone, didn't I?" Loki said directly.
"You remember me," Jim grinned. "That's always good for the self-esteem."
"Why are you here?" Loki asked, curling his hand a little tighter around the sceptre. "People usually tend to run from me. Not the other way around."
"How did you even get that back?" Jim asked, nodding to the weapon. Loki smiled tightly.
"I have ways of getting what I want."
"Killing a bunch of people?"
"That's one of them, yes."
"Why are you here?" Loki repeated.
"Do you mind if I hold the big stick?"
Loki laughed in derision. "Mortals. You're all such idiots. This sceptre holds power beyond your wildest imagination."
"I don't know about that. I dreamt about a talking wolverine wearing ballet shoes last night. My imagination is pretty wild."
"I'll make this simple for you. You can either tell me what it is that you're after, or I can make you beg for death." Loki smiled and shrugged, in a 'what can you do?' kind of way. "Your choice."
"Kinky." Jim raised an eyebrow. "I'll go with option one, though, I'm short on time. The fact is that I'm a very intelligent man who gets bored very easily, and you seem like you could be fun."
"I doubt you would like my method of play."
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure. Tell me- what's the name of that group of misfits your brother bunks with again?" Loki's face grew dark.
"Don't speak to me of the Avengers."
"Oh, right, them. Well, my thinking is that if they get to have their own special little group, why can't we? Sure, it's fun to be an independent megalomaniac- but it's also fun to win. And there's power in numbers, Loki. There is."
"Who are you to believe you could compete with me?" Loki jeered. "Who are you to believe that you have the right to fight alongside me? I am a god, earth man."
"And honey, I'm a king." Jim moved closer, close enough to stare directly into Loki's eyes. He looked far too fresh-faced to be a serial killer. Jim was beginning to doubt what he had heard. Murders, mass slaughter, invasions- perhaps Loki wasn't the monster Jim had hoped for.
"We could build a kingdom and watch it burn," Jim breathed.
The light that lit up Loki's face reassured him.
It hadn't been until they'd acquired the Master that they decided to get a place of their own.
"Headquarters," Loki insisted on calling it. "We need a place to use as our headquarters. We can't keep conducting our business from alleyways and warehouses. It is not befitting."
"In case you hadn't noticed, people don't approve of what we do," the Master had grumbled. "They won't offer me a palace because I nearly destroyed the universe."
"Taking on the whole universe," Jim had mused. "There really is something very sexy about that."
"Hey, I tried to destroy the universe too," Loki whined.
"Yes, but you wear a stupid hat," the Master explained patiently. They had fought over that for nearly ten minutes, and Jim had wondered when and why he picked bitchy schoolgirls as his allies.
Neither he nor Loki had heard of the Master until they met him calmly beating a man to death on a street corner. He had had his reasons, but Jim didn't care enough to ask about them. The Master talked of decimation, torture, slaughter. He explained that he had done great and terrible things- the only catch was that time had been rewound, so nobody remembered them.
Jim had been understandably sceptical of that.
The Master had, in return, pointed out that a creature from the other side of the own universe was stood by their side, after having been stopped by a group of genuine superheroes (Loki had scowled at that)- so did plausibility really play a role in things?
"Oh, and I'm an alien too," he had added. "Should I have mentioned that first?"
The Master had two hearts and a habit of complaining about drumming that nobody else could hear. He also had a charming smile and wore nice suits. Jim approved.
"So who stopped you destroying the universe, then?" Jim had asked him conversationally. "Who was rude enough to undo all that hard work?"
"There's a man- well, I say a man- named the Doctor. Have you heard of him?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Lucky. You really wouldn't like him."
"Does he get in the way a lot?"
"Oh, God, all the time. You can't begin to imagine how annoying it is."
"I've had my own share of interfering doctors, don't worry. I strapped a bomb to one once."
"A bomb? How very pedestrian of you."
"I thought it was pretty good. What did you do then, Mr. Big Shot, to get rid of your doctor?"
"I recruited an alien race to kill 10% of the world's population."
"I tried that," Loki chimed in. "It doesn't work as well as you might hope."
"Tell me about it," the Master said emphatically. "It was such a let-down."
"It was all their fault, of course."
"Of course," the Master agreed. Jim was beginning to feel a little inadequate.
"So why are you in London?" Jim had asked. "I hate to point it out-"
"No, you don't."
"Okay, no I don't. But I'm the only person in this little trio that is actually from this planet."
"You're boring," the Master said sympathetically.
"So go on, then. How did you avoid the Doctor capturing you?" Loki asked curiously, turning back to the Master.
"Me? Oh, I died. It was a bit of a pain, but it pissed him off wonderfully. There was crying and everything."
"So you risked your own life and faked your death just to annoy somebody?" Jim had asked, feigning awe.
"Yup," he had beamed.
"Done it," Loki said in a bored voice.
"Done it," Jim echoed.
"Well, I didn't really fake mine," the Master argued, recovering quickly. "I didn't know I'd be brought back. Some crazed disciple-"
"Oh, I despise those," Loki frowned.
"I know, right? There's apparently a whole cult who worship me."
"I seem to have fans as well- mostly female. I have seen far too many drawings of myself in compromising positions to-"
"Yes, okay," Jim said, annoyed. "What did this crazed disciple do?"
"Somebody's jealous," the Master grinned. Jim scowled. "She brought me back to life. My wife tried interfering, but they stopped her in time. Since then I've just been roaming around, trying to decide what to do with this version of events. Same playground, different kiddies."
"Kiddies?" Jim had asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm a bit older than I look. You're all children to me."
"I'm over a thousand years old," Loki said dryly.
"Really? Me too. People stop buying you cards after a certain stage," the Master lamented.
"Yes, okay, I get it," Jim interrupted. Aliens, he could accept. Aliens mocking him, he could not. "You're both ancient and all-powerful. There's one thing that I have over both of you, though."
"Go on," the Master said, quirking his lip.
"I'm mortal. I've gotten where I am through charisma and charm. I broke in, took the crown jewels, got myself arrested and walked free purely to cast doubt on another man. You've accomplished things, yes- but they've taken centuries and centuries of hard work and capture and toiling. I had the entire of London under my rule, without superhuman weapons or skills, in less than five years." He paused to let it all sink in. "And I look good in a suit."
"Well, I do that too," the Master said.
"Suits are for mortals," Loki said dismissively.
"What, and horns are a sign of true power?" the Master had said in disbelief. It turned out that psychopathic mass murderers could put up with many things, but insulting their outfit was a step too far. That had been the end of Loki and the Master's quickly forming rapport, to which Jim had no complaints. Team spirit was excellent, but not when it excluded him.
Fast forward two weeks, and they found themselves more or less apartment-hunting. It really was fabulously domestic- not that that meant it was simple. Jim couldn't still be out in public for too long due to the whole 'dead super-villain' act he was maintaining. Loki was obviously useless as he was probably the most notorious all of them, even without the extra fear and caution generated by Sherlock's recent deductions.
Jim had been banking on the Master to be their public face, but he refused to interact too heavily with people in case they remembered him from his 'Harold Saxon days'. He was insulted to discover that neither Jim nor Loki knew what this meant. Loki had no idea what a prime minister was, and Jim paid no attention to politics; it didn't much matter to him which idiot was pretending to be in power at any given time.
"Thank God for the internet," Jim muttered as they scrolled through listings on his laptop.
"The internet," the Master said approvingly. "Where nobody knows if you're a psychopath, an alien, or a stupid little man in a goat costume."
"One day, when you're sleeping, I will tear the very lungs from your body and laugh as you slowly suffocate on your own wretchedness."
"Thanks, Loki. Actually, I'm dying for a cup of tea- would you mind?"
"Yes. I rather would, actually."
"Me too, if you're making one," Jim said, hitting 'next'.
"You will all suffer."
"Love you too, darling. Here, what do you think of this one?" he said, gesturing at the screen.
"It's hardly low key," the Master frowned. "And no, I wasn't referring to you," he said over his shoulder. "Sorry if that confused your little Asgardian brain."
"It's quite alright. I stopped listening when you started talking," Loki replied, leaning in to see the listing. "It seems nice."
"Don't pretend like you want to lie low," Jim reprimanded the Master. "You know you'd love it."
"A huge, sky-high flat?" the Master said. "Of course I would. I'd have my name written in glowing neon letters if I could."
"Good lad. It's in an ideal location. From there, we could look over London as we made it our city," Jim said, still mentally switching every 'we' and 'our' to 'I' and 'my'. Allying was only ever temporary, after all.
"First London, then England, then the world," Loki glowed. "And then even more."
"People are going to get in our way," the Master warned. "If the Doctor finds out I'm alive, he'll turn up and try to kill me or date me or something."
"Thor is… displeased with my escape," Loki admitted.
"Sherlock's like a cockroach," Jim said, disgusted. "He might be mortal, but only just. He's not an easy man to get rid of."
"We could kill them," the Master said thoughtfully. "I do hope we get to kill them."
"What's with the 'get'? Just do it anyway," Jim shrugged. "So, boys, should we get this flat?"
"I think so, yes," Loki smiled.
"Wait, it only has one bathroom?" the Master asked, scanning over the text. "That won't work. Loki's going to need one to himself for all of his hair-care products."
"I'm sure that insult was much more effective the first time around. Presumably somebody rewound time-"
"Oh, girls," Jim sighed. "Such wasted energy. We'll get this flat, and then you two can bicker to your heart's content."
"And what of all these challengers? Of my brother, and his team, and the others?"
The Master shrugged. "Kill 'em. I fail to see how this is an issue."
"We are somewhat outnumbered."
"It's about quality over quantity," the Master said, "and I really am top quality. Besides, aren't you supposed to be good at persuading people?"
"More than good."
"Then we can make numbers. We could get an army."
"That doesn't tend to work as well as you might hope."
"Okay, forget the army. But we could get others involved," Jim said thoughtfully. "I can recommend an excellent gunman."
"There are a few people I know of," Loki said grudgingly.
"Then what are we waiting for? The sooner we move in, the sooner we can move out and take control of this stupid little world," the Master said, nearly bouncing with excitement.
"Just look at us. At our titles," Loki laughed softly. "The Master, the God, and the King. We were built for greatness."
"Either that or we all have severe personality disorders," the Master commented. Jim grinned.
"I don't think the two are exclusive."
It had all seemed like a marvellous idea then, with the three of them huddled together around the glowing screen. It had all gone so well for Jim up to that point. Step one- acquire powerful and charismatic Asgardian super villain. Check. Step two- acquire murderous and insane Time Lord. Check. Step three- combine sets of skills into one trio dedicated to the destruction of all that was good, pure, or annoying. This was not going as well.
Jim took his head off the table and sat up. Concentrating on criminal business was not easy with what sounded like fifty cats and some fireworks in a blender going on behind him. Something very heavy hit the wall, followed shortly afterwards by a string of angry swearwords.
"I will destroy you," he heard Loki snarl, and judging by the noise, the sceptre had been brought into things.
"I'd like to see you try, pretty boy," the Master snarled, and Jim heard Loki cry out.
"You'll regret the day you ever crossed me." More crashes, then a disgusting crunching sound and a whimper.
"I'm going to make you hurt, Loki," the Master hissed. "It's going to be very fun for me- less so for you." A very, very loud screech. Jim was suddenly glad that nobody lived in the flat below them.
"Boys, play nicely," Jim shouted back. "Otherwise I'm going to come back there and knock out your teeth, Loki, and push them down your throat, Master, until neither of you can scream anymore."
There was a pause. "Oh, Jim, you make everything so dirty," the Master snickered.
"Truce?" Loki offered, sounding tired out.
"Yeah, alright," he said grudgingly. "But I won't go easy on you if you do it again."
"Oh, good. I was getting concerned that that was all you had to offer."
"Concerned? You seemed on the brink of tears."
"I was disappointed, Master. You started this fight to enforce your threat- what was it again?"
"Does it really-"
"Ahh, yes. 'If you take my hair gel without asking, I will stop your heart from beating'. Yet my pulse is still strong. Perhaps you should put your murder where your mouth is."
Jim slammed his head back down onto the desk as the crashing began again. He had not banked on evil being even more irritating than good.