He sprawled despondently in the high-backed leather chair, deep in thought, one foot nestled in the plush hotel carpet, the other dangling sockless from the chair arm. He pressed his hands together, resting his fingertips on his lips, feeling the coarseness of his stubble. He realized what he was doing and jerked his hands away. This quandary he was in was irritating, certainly, but there was no need to think like his quarry. The disgust on his face turned to glee as he imagined thinking like Sherlock- distinctly faster than his idiot friend, but tainted with that same hangdog need to be on the side of the angels. He giggled to himself, imagining his own pretty head in a halo and a wool scarf until the rattle of a tea service caught his attention.

The bellhop was staring at him, the delicate floral china rattling on the tray as he struggled to hold it still. He wasn't a boy, not really; he looked like he should be in university somewhere, but he had a teeth-grating earnestness that made it impossible to think of him as anything but a snivelling child crying because he'd gotten his luncheon stolen and been pushed into the mud.

"Er, Mr. Moriarty, sir-"

"Please, call me Jim. Mr. Moriarty was my father," he said magnanimously.

The boy paused. "But Mr. Mo.. Ji.., Sir, last night... you told me never to call you Ji-" The boy was legitimately shaking in his uniform boots now. Moriarty stood up, laid a hand gently on his cheek and shushed him.

"David, David, David... Dah-veed... If you call me Mr. Moriarty again, I will carve my name into your tongue with a butter knife," he whispered soothingly, running a thumb over the bellhop's chapped lips. "And if you drop my tea service, I'll make you eat every piece." He pulled a face that said what can you do? "Wedgwood."

The blank stare of terror was reward enough as he pulled his hand away, but the audible gulp as the boy gingerly set it down on the table was even better.

He got bored waiting for the bellboy's hands to stop shaking and poured his own Earl Grey- no sugar, a drop of cream. "Don't leave just yet," he called as he saw the boy making his way towards the door. "I want to pick your brain. Or talk at you. There's really not much there to pick."

The boy hovered halfway between the door and far wall where Moriarty was ensconced, torn.

He returned to his seat and sipped slowly, wincing at the heat.

"You see I have this... problem. You know how you have a perfect game set up? Of course you wouldn't. It's just beautiful. Beautiful. And it'll be fun, and by the end of it all, I'll have a new friend or he'll be dead. I just need this one... wee... link, and I don't have it. I...do not have it. Everyone has put all their eggies in one electronic basket and they're just begging me to break them, and I can't find my hammer."

He lapsed in to silence, staring the bellboy down with sharp brown eyes as sipping his too-hot tea.

It wasn't even the most difficult part of his plan, deciphering the seat assignments on the plane, but that woman he'd had in his employ had ultimately failed him. That was the problem with Sherlock Holmes. For all his prickliness, he seemed to cast a sort of haze over lesser minds. Moriarty'd given Adler one small task to complete and by the end of it, she was sopping wet with love for Sherlock and managed to get herself killed. Even John Watson turned into a (bigger) simpering fool around him. Ever the cheerleader, all "Amazing deduction, Sherlock!" and "You're brilliant!" The man had been willing to die, going so far as to rub plastic explosives all over the side of his own almost new suit and cling to him like an unneutered dog.

And after he'd left them in the pool room, even he'd come back. He hadn't needed to, wasn't planning to, but something about seeing them clutch each other like the first two birds in a slasher film had changed his mind and he'd been fully prepared to see them dead and riddled when that woman's call came.

His lip curled back in a feral sneer over the steaming cup and David blanched.

"What?" His voice was a whip and the bellboy looked like he was deciding between fainting or having a heart attack.

"Well, S-sir, it's just you're not really... saying anything..."

"What does that have to do with you?" he snapped.

"You – you asked me to stay... to listen, Sir."

" Which you'll do until I give you leave to go. I haven't, by the way. You'll know. " He returned to his thoughts and watched as the boy gamely tried to put on a show of bravery and professionalism.

In a few months he'd have something finished that would bring Mycroft to his holy English knees and scrape them up as bad as the next floor scrubber, but he didn't want to wait. He had all the rest of it ready now and it was going to be fun.

But the big red stop sign of reality was smacking him in the face. He had the three best hackers this side of the war working day and night, and they weren't any closer than they were before. They kept telling them they were making progress, but they didn't have anything to show him. The next time one told him that she was "Ooh, so close," he'd take off some fingers and hang them around the others' necks as a warning.

David had relaxed a bit as Moriarty's gaze drifted, edging his way towards the door like he was invisible. The polyester of his uniform said otherwise.

"What are you doing, Davi-dear? Didn't mummy ask you to stay put?" he called as he leapt up.

David froze in an almost comical way. "I was just.. .I..."

"You were trying to leave again." He wasn't angry, not really. He turned away and focused on refilling his teacup.

"No, I wasn't; I-"

"Don't lie to me," he snarled, punctuating each word. "It is literally the only thing you can do to make me angry with you." He paused, drawing the shade on his anger.

"Sir, I promise, I... I have... other rooms to attend and-" David was babbling, pleading, having latched on to what would be a likely story. "And if I get another complaint, I'll get another warning and I can't afford to."

Moriarty might have bought it, if he didn't know that this particular hotel assigned staff to a single hotel room instead of having a pool they drew from.

"Oh really? Which rooms?" He decided to play along as he returned to his seat.

David clearly wasn't expecting to be believed, and the deer-in-the-headlights look he wore was answer enough. Sweat appeared on his forehead underneath his silly hat, and the boy fidgeted, jiggling his fists like he was working for a fiver.

"Called your bluff," he sang, and the boy swallowed hard.

Something clicked, and he jerked like a man stuck by lightning, sloshing hot tea on the carpet, narrowly missing his bare feet. He was no stranger to a good bluff- he'd only had one gun in the pool room and the rest were all laser pointers waved menacingly about. If Sherlock had chosen any option other than the incendiary one, he would have ended them, but as it stood, he knew a few new things now.

Sherlock was clever, but unaccountably attached to his idiot friend, and he was less inclined to push the envelope with him in danger. If it had just been him, Moriarty had no doubt Sherlock would have guessed he only had Moran there as a sniper. Add an element of danger, and Sherlock grew duller and duller, skipping the most obvious things. Moriarty had common access to the places he needed... give Sherlock a time limit and a red herring, he'd swallow it whole and ask for more.

He rose with a flourish, striding over to the table like a bride working her aisle. He wore a too-wide grin as he set his empty tea cup down and grasped David's sweaty cheek in his hand. "You would have just saved your life," he whispered, a bare inch from the trembling boy's face, "but you kept lying, and I did tell you not to lie to me." He was almost apologetic as he withdrew the blade from the boy's stomach, watching his stricken face, but shoved it into his eye with no hesitation.

The boy toppled backwards and crashed to the floor, leaking all over the carpet, moaning weakly. He lay in a heap, twitching every so often as the synapses fired, and then he was still.

Moriarty returned his switchblade to its proper place nestled in his sleeve. He wiped his hands on the bedspread and slipped on a pair of curiously shiny latex gloves. He ran them through his hair, then left a good set of fingerprints on the tea service, the remote, the bathroom, the light switches, then picked up the telephone and dialed the operator.

"Front desk, how may I be of service?" the warm, attentive female voice asked.

He deepened his voice, shifting from his Dublin accent to Received Pronunciation, imagining himself in a wool scarf. "Right, yes, there seems to be a bit of a mess in my room. Can you send someone to clean it up?"

"Oh... I'm very sorry-" a pause as she looked up his name-"Mr. Holmes, I'll send a crew right up. I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience." She sounded a little bit heartbroken, which was a nice touch.

"No trouble at all!" Moriarty hung up the phone and skipped merrily from the room, closing it quietly behind him.

A really big thank you to the illustrious jumble of letters that is tfclvi, who is a ruthless grammarian and whipped me into shape.

For reference, Wedgwood is a high-quality, high-end British pottery company specializing in porcelain and china with a trademark wedgwood blue color. An example is in the cover art :)