A/N: First off, a little introduction to the following fic. It will consist of ten chapters made up of ten different drabbles, dribbles, one-shots, scraps of various lengths, or assorted ephemera, all based off one-word prompts taken from a table of 100 and invariably featuring Professor James Moriarty and Colonel Sebastian Moran. Many are slash, many are pre-slash, others are ambiguous and a few are friendship. There's a good helping of angst, more fluff than I could probably have believably attributed to them but which I couldn't help writing, some drama, some adventure, H/C, and occasionally something just random. They have no chronological or numerical order and many of them are different versions of the same event, so they won't necessarily agree with each other. Now that you've been fully informed and prepared, feel free to enjoy. :)
It was a beautiful gun. Its mechanism was smooth, easy to work. The wood gleamed with the labors of half an hour of polishing. Its barrel was perfectly straight, the sight excellently aligned. The balance on the thing was better than a dancer's. Moran itched to try it out, to load the airgun and fire at something, anything. His fingers twitched happily along its length. He showered it with the caresses a husband might give his wife and let out a small sigh.
Moriarty looked up from the armchair where he was reading a newspaper and said disdainfully,
"That is a gift, Moran, not a woman. Treat it as such."
Moran could only smirk.
"Wait here," Moriarty said, turning away to stroll briskly up the gravel driveway. He hadn't even given Moran time to acquiesce. Then again, he already knew what his answer would be. Moran would never think of disobeying Moriarty.
Moran stuck his hands in his pockets and kicked a few pebbles around aimlessly, glancing up at the sprawling manor home every so often. He didn't have a problem with waiting. Being able to wait was an integral part of being a hunter, except they didn't call it waiting. They called it stalking.
Moran looked up with a grin as a strange thought entered his mind.
Does that mean I'm stalking Moriarty then?
"He's been nominated. Again," Moriarty grumbled, throwing a newspaper down on the coffee table. Moran smirked over the rim of his coffee cup. He didn't even have to glance at the paper to know to whom his partner was referring to.
"You mean Sherlock Holmes?" he said, choosing to be a bit dense.
"Of course I mean Holmes," Moriarty practically snarled, throwing himself down in his customary armchair. "Certainly not the Pope. What does the Crown see in that sniveling, intellectually inferior copy of me?"
A law-abiding man, Moran was tempted to whisper under his breath.
"Sadly, not all people can see your genius as clearly as I can," he settled with instead.
In the midst of Moriarty's frustration the compliment almost went unnoticed, but only for a few seconds.
"If only everyone were as observant as you are," Moriarty rejoined amusedly, despite himself a smile pulling at his mouth.
"He turned it down, I presume?"
"As he always does. Come, bring me that book on the shelf above your head there, I wish to distract myself from this distasteful occurrence."
Moran did as he was told, handed the book over and returned to his coffee.
That's another difference between you and him, he thought with a certain fondness. You wouldn't have turned it down.
Moran was gone on an assignment. Moriarty knew this because he'd seen him off himself. Yet he couldn't prevent something of a furtive note entering his movements, couldn't resist a glance over his shoulder to scan the flat they shared. It was deserted, as he knew it would be.
Shaking his momentary paranoia off, he withdrew a key to his desk from his pocket watch chain and headed over to his desk, unlocking a hidden side drawer. It slid open smoothly, baring its contents: several slips of paper, a cardboard folio the size of his palm, a luscious blue carbuncle that lay over its coiled gold chain, and several other keys. He withdrew the folio, careful not to disturb the other contents. He flipped it open.
Inside lay a photo of Moran in full military dress, taken sometime before his discharge from the army. Moriarty allowed his eyes to settle on it and drink in the familiar visage. One of his lackeys had brought it to him along with Moran's file when he had first looked into recruiting the disgraced sniper.
It had just been a photo at the time. Now, however, it was something more.
And that was why Moriarty kept it hidden.
The train bumped along steadily, speeding them out of Paris and deeper into the Continent. Moran had sat across from Moriarty for a while in their private, first-class compartment, but after an hour or so he shifted to be next to his employer. Moriarty raised a single eyebrow in response, then went back to staring placidly out of the window.
His hand rested softly on the seat beside him, the other supporting his chin as he leaned his elbow upon the window sill. Moran found himself contemplating the other man's fingers. They were short and uncalloused, as his profession allowed them to be. The fingers entranced him and began to consume his imagination. What would they feel like if he suddenly decided to grasp them with his own? What would they feel like if they were to brush across his cheek or slip around his waist?
They were dangerous fantasies, that he knew. But if they remained firmly entrenched in his mind, surely then he was safe?
Engrossed by his thoughts, Moran was oblivious to the fact that Moriarty was in fact watching the sniper's reflection in the window and had been able to do much more than guess at the thoughts reflected in his features.
Only the smallest movement was necessary to contrive that his little finger should brush against Moran's thumb. He would call watching the ex-army man react a social experiment, though it was not quite that simple.
Moran started slightly, but did not draw away his own hand. Instead he leaned back in his seat and cautiously moved his hand a bit farther towards Moriarty's.
Moriarty grasped it the second it was close enough, firmly entwining their fingers around each other. Moran was not quite able to contain his reaction as he had been before, and he dared a quick glance sideways to gauge his employer's emotions. As ever, his impassive face gave nothing away. It was if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred at all.
But if Moriarty wasn't objecting, who was Moran to? A smile began to steal over his features, watched by Moriarty in his window with a slight satisfaction.
Maybe they can't be blamed if they stayed that way all the way up until their train pulled into the station. After all, Moriarty was nothing but thorough in his experiments.
In Conduit Street, Moran ran his hands along every surface of the second story flat they had shared, making soft trails in the thin film of dust that had gathered since he'd dismissed the maid. Every sight brought back memories, and with the memories pain. He stopped at the fireplace, head bowed, and clenched his fist on the mantelpiece. Tears were fighting hard to squeeze their way out of his eyes, but he'd cried enough at Reichenbach, enough to last him a whole lifetime, and he had promised himself it would not happen again. Nothing would ever affect him that way again.
Somewhere deep in Asia, Moriarty, hot on Holmes's trail, withdrew the red notebook his hated nemesis had replaced the original with and took out the slightly dog-eared photograph that rested within the pages. Moran looked unsmilingly up at him from the old army photograph he had kept in his secret desk drawer for so long. He took a moment to thank himself, once more, for whatever instinct had told him to bring it along before they made the trip to Reichenbach, and for the stupid, impulsive decision to double back to the hotel and retrieve it after his near-disastrous encounter with Sherlock Holmes.
It represented everything he was fighting for now. He couldn't go home until he had killed Holmes. He wouldn't let himself. His obsession had reached new heights since what he had come to refer to as his Fall, and the obsession would not let him go. It also meant that he could not see Moran again until he had dealt with Holmes.
Obsession was hard to combat, but one of its staunchest resistors is longing: and Moriarty's longing for Moran fought a stiff battle, and it was at last beginning to gain the upper hand.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck," he swore aloud, scrambling down the rocky slope so fast he nearly lost his own life. There was no way Moriarty was dead, no damn way on that green earth that he had fallen to his death from three hundred feet above.
The water rushed by at incredibly fast speeds, even at the distance Moran was from its base.
"Moriarty!" he called over the fall's distant roar of thunder. "Moriarty!" he tried again, louder, scorching his lungs with cold air and spray as he took a deep breath.
There was no response. Had he really expected one? His chest was surprisingly tight, his throat uncomfortably choked, and it took a moment to realize that it was not the river spray making his eyes water but his own tears.
"MORIARTY!" he screamed again. And again. "PROFESSOR! WHERE ARE YOU?" He turned in short circles on the rocky bank, hysteria slowly mounting and taking hold of his senses. "This is no time for your games!"
He chuckled then, a mad sound. The only sound to be heard except for the dying echoes of his scream and the rush of water. "Where are you?" he cried after listening to the silence, his voice feeble and choked.
Then the horrid truth swept over him like the water over the stones in the riverbed, merciless and undeniable: James Moriarty had fallen. The great professor was no more.
"James," he breathed. "Oh, James. Oh my dear James." He fell to his knees, his head dropping into his hands as he wept great shaking sobs of helplessness and frustration and anger as it all came crashing down upon him. Colonel Sebastian Moran was no more. No more than a lone man, screaming a name to the empty sky under an unforgiving waterfall, ever destined to be unanswered.
1. First Impression
The East-End pub was dingy and ill-lit, smelt of cigarette smoke and other less pleasant things, and was owned by a barman of at least as shady character as his patrons. In short, a perfectly typical example of the seedier variety of a London pub. It didn't take Moriarty long to pick out his mark, a tall ginger bearded man slumped at the far stool, lost in his drink.
He had all the classic signs of desperation. Moriarty could see them in his posture, in the way he clutched his mug, in the circles under his eyes from lack of sleep, the untrimmed beard that Moriarty could tell was usually well kempt by the way its owner kept scratching at it.
As first impressions went, Moriarty was not all too struck by his prospective new employee. He seemed a common type, full of vile impulses and not possessed of much brain power. However, the stories brought back to him by his cronies told otherwise, and as he had already come all the way down to the pub he might as well make the effort.
Switching his stick deftly from his right hand to his left he advanced on the man and took the adjacent stool, extending his newly free hand to the man.
Mr. Ginger Beard did nothing but stare at it for a moment, drink-fogged reflexes slow to respond, and when he finally did react it was only to say "Whhhrroeerr yoouh?"
"Professor James Moriarty," he announced, withdrawing his hand. "And I'm here to make you an offer, Colonel Moran: an offer that you will not be able to refuse."
The wound was bleeding profusely, but the man who'd fired the shot had already disappeared, most likely running for his life like the coward that he was. Cowardly, and an uncommonly lucky shot.
Moran tore his eyes away from the retreating figure just in time to see Moriarty's look of shock and fear as he crumpled to the ground. He rushed to his side, but it was already too late: his life was draining fast.
A thousand thoughts flitted through Moran's mind, of how to find help, what to do to stop the blood that was seeping everywhere, what to say, what to do, before his army training took over and he could calmly assess the wound. It was fatal, right to the heart. Moriarty's breathing was already labored, his eyes staring unfixed at the ceiling. Yet an overwhelming urge welled from his own heart, overrode his training and flitted to his lips, and he let it free.
"I love you," he whispered desperately.
"I… know…" Moriarty gasped, blood gurgling from his lips. "It was always… your one… weakness."
His eyes grew wide and blinked furiously a couple of times, then his chest ceased to rise and fall or move at all, and Moran knew he was dead.
The professor's office at the university was deserted when Moran slipped in quietly- except for the owner himself. Moriarty stood facing the window, his back to Moran, and did not turn even when he heard the lock click closed on the door. Moran walked softly over to him and slipped his arms around the professor's waist, stealing a chaste kiss on his lips when Moriarty turned in his arms.
"Not here, Moran," Moriarty chastised in annoyance. "We agreed that we would take no risks."
"Why not? There's no one around."
"I haven't gotten where I am today by not being careful. You would do well to remember that," he said with finality, shrugging off Moran's embrace. Moran, however, would not be deterred so easily.
He stepped nimbly up behind his employer and planted a light kiss on his cheek before bouncing off to the door, leaving Moriarty no time to respond.
"You'll miss me," he threw over his shoulder playfully as he unlocked the door and left.
A few seconds later, Moriarty was forced to admit ruefully to himself that he would indeed.