I should be working on Unburied, but this wouldn't leave me alone.

Sherlock Holmes was many things, but a coward wasn't one of them. He climbed up the stairs of Saint Bart's, every step leading him towards the crescendo of his career, hell, his life even. He heard the tinny sound of the song Staying Alive three steps before he reached the rooftop. He figured out which verse it was one second later. He paused, letting the moment catch up with him, before opening the door with a sense of crushing finality that he didn't expect to feel. It wasn't supposed to end like this.

He gazed upon the countenance of the only man who ever truly understood him, and felt something he hadn't felt in many years, regret. This man, James Moriarty, had started out as an amusement, a borderline psychopathic criminal who tormented him and stimulated him at the same time. Fascinating. But now, he looked like a tortured soul who had seen too much. Broken and tired and alone and done. He hadn't planned on either of them dying that day. But now, as he looked into the black, insane depths of his adversary, he readjusted his expectations and saw the truth. James Moriarty had wanted his story to end for some time now. Sherlock wondered if the man had even acknowledged it yet.

He thought of what had led him to this moment. The death of Carl Powers. The police felt as though it was a tragedy that little Carl Powers had drown in the pool, simple as that. But he knew it was no accident that Carl Powers had drowned that day. That's what led Sherlock, at the tender age of fifteen, to the funeral, watching the too small coffin being lowered into the ground. He looked about at the attendants of the funeral, the suspects. Two sobbing parents. A little boy standing close by picking his nose. Sherlock's mouth twisted downwards in distaste. People could be so repulsive. There was a mob of school children, mostly stricken, some bored. More sad looking adults ('he was too young', 'they're never supposed to go like that', 'he had a future', 'how tragic') and a forlorn dog, looking for a master it would never see again. And finally, a small, scrawny boy, standing behind the crowds. Shunned by his classmates, foreign descent (Irish), too skinny to be healthy. He looked to be too smart for his own good, his father gave him a good smack when he drank a bit too much, desperate, violent, bloodthirsty. This was it. Sherlock looked away and took a deep breath, swallowed a smile. He looked back and the boy was looking at him. He was grinning wolfishly, as if he knew that Sherlock knew his dirty secret. Black eyes, cocked head, a nod of respect, and then the boy slinked off. Sherlock had no proof. But he knew, and that was enough.

In the next years, Sherlock forgot about the black eyed boy in the midst of chemistry and rebellion and drugs and recovery. He deduced. He was shunned. He withdrew from society and read Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams. He stopped talking to his brother. He sent all of his mother's mail back to her. He stopped accepting his family's stipend. Sherlock Holmes shut down the advances of anyone who he perceived to care for him and picked up his violin. Composed. Retuned. Composed, finished, and crashed. He had a nice fire that night made out of the splinters of his heirloom instrument. The next day, he met Lestrade. His life took a turn for the better. He reconnected with his brother (sort of) and solved cases. He even got a flatshare who didn't loathe him (a friend). He pretended it was enough. It wasn't.

And then there was Moriarty.

The name bounced around in his mind, Moriarty, Moriarty, Moriarty. The last word of a dying man, and possibly thousands of others. He solved crime. Drank tea. Moriarty. There was more to it than a name, he could feel it. There was fear, a tangible power behind it. Sherlock wanted a piece of that.

He listened to the whispers, and played the man's Game. He indulged the man's whims. He was intrigued. People died (inevitable). John got upset (mundane). Mycroft meddled (tedious). And then, like a crack of whip, there was the pool, and there was a face behind the name. A physicality that made it even better, that made his brain whirl and stomach churn.

The meeting closed out anticlimactically.

Months passed.

"I owe you."

Moriarty was back in his life like he had never left, a drug burning through his veins. All boundaries were broken, the cases were like Sherlock had never seen before. They were engineered for him and wrapped in a riddle, and somehow that made the Game even sweeter.

But something was off. There was more manicness, more insanity, more unpredictability than normal. And then the Game went sour. It became clear that this was meant to be his ruin, his final act as a supposedly good man. In his frantic struggle to stay one step ahead of Moriarty (it wasn't enough, it would never be enough) he wondered what had happened to the bright, intelligent man he faced off with only months prior. It seemed as though all of the Irishman's genius had turned against him, and now it was tearing him apart... a self destruct destined to destroy anything that came too close. Sherlock had, and now it was too late to run. Something had broken James Moriarty, and now he was hastening to do the same to Sherlock... to rip him apart, make him fall from grace presumably the same way he had.

And now here they were, on the rooftop. Staring at each other, both at a loss of what to do. Jim looked terrible, like he had been to hell and back. He hadn't looked quite the same since that fateful meeting at the pool, he was like a druggie, pitifully withdrawing from lack of Sherlock. Sherlock felt desperate, torn between wanting to save this demon and feeling repelled by him.

There was a lot of talking, and then a desperate threat. John. Lestrade. Mrs. Hudson. They were dancing around the final act of their play, one that was spiraling way out of control. The script was burning, and Sherlock could do nothing to put it out. That was the final problem. Putting out the fire that raged inside both of them. Sherlock looked at Moriarty, right into his eyes, and knew what the man wanted. He wanted to put the fire out. He wanted to die. And if he was to die, then so must Sherlock.

He considered it. It would be easy to fudge it, actually die instead of cheat... but no. Moriarty was not worth dying for (a year or two earlier, and he would have thought differently. But not now, not today...).

Sherlock smiled. It didn't reach his eyes. Moriarty reached out and took his hand, physically connecting them, forcing them together in a way Sherlock could not deny...

And then he killed himself. Shot himself right in the mouth. The message was clear.

We're mirrors. I killed myself. Now you have to kill yourself, angel, it's your turn. I win.

It was undeniable, something in Sherlock was tearing free, still connected with Moriarty. Something died in him. But he shoved this gap into the dark recesses of his broken soul and trekked on.

He always did.

Take time to review! There is a story connected with this one, in Moriarty's point of view. If you're interested, it's called Mirrors. Thanks for reading!