A/N There was a photoset on Tumblr a few months ago that gave me the idea of Anderson as Moran- it's pretty far-fetched, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided I liked it.
Rated T for language, violence, and drug/alcohol use
Disclaimer I don't own Sherlock or any associated characters, events, etc.
The jig is up, the news is out, they've finally found me
The renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty
Nevermore to go astray
This will be the end today of the wanted man
The first thing that Sebastian Moran thinks, upon discovering the corpse of his boss on the roof, is God, Jim, you really fucked up this time.
James Moriarty does not look smaller in death, perhaps because he was always a diminutive sort. Even in life, the imposing air to him didn't alter Moran's perception of his height. He didn't have to be tall to be impressive—that was the sort of thing about him that was so fascinating. A small, prissy-looking Irishman with wide puppy eyes and manicured nails. The world's foremost criminal and mad genius.
He's paler, that's for sure. A dark pool of blood is already drying into the cold grey surface of the roof behind him, even as it continues to stream steadily from an invisible wound somewhere in the midst of his neatly combed ebony hair. The red stain reflects that on the sidewalk several stories below, the one that people are gathered around—staring, crying out, fussing over.
Moran bends down on one knee, swearing under his breath. Everyone cares about the supposed suicide of Sherlock Holmes. Nobody gives a fuck about James Moriarty, the one who wasn't supposed to die.
It wasn't part of the goddamn plan!
Part of him wants to scream it, to throw his head back and bellow it to the unrelenting smoggy sky, but he doesn't, because he's a professional, he's a trained man and he's not going to dissolve into little bits of fucking fluff because of a dead body.
Instead, he gives himself thirty seconds—thirty seconds, each ticked off carefully in his head—to kneel there, to stare at Jim's frozen face and wonder why the hell it had to turn out this way.
Holmes was supposed to be the one to die. That was the whole damn plan. He was looking forward to it—the man was insufferable. He deserved death. Maybe Jim deserved death, too, but he wasn't ready for it, none of them were ready for it.
And perhaps the worst part is that he did it his own bloody self. The two things that Moran knows best in the world are guns and Jim, and everything about both is screaming that Sherlock wasn't the one to fire the shot. No, the detective did exactly what he was supposed to—pitched himself off the roof.
Jim screwed up. God knows what he did, but he's dead now, and Moran's not sentimental, he's not going to kid himself and say that he's coming back, ever.
Thirty-two seconds. He's getting lazy. He grits his teeth down, hard, and takes a long, chilling breath of air. It's cold up here on the rooftop, even under his jacket. He runs his fingers over each other, trying to spark some sort of warmth, then reaches forward and tucks one arm underneath Jim's shoulder. The corpse hasn't started to stiffen yet—it's still warm, still limp, and if he closes his eyes for a moment, he can almost imagine that he's not even really dead—but, fuck, he's not going to be sentimental, not now.
Hell, he doesn't even feel sad. It's pretty damn pathetic, really, because the only sensation inside of him is a blank wondering of what next? Jim is what he's been staying alive for, and he realizes that now with the vague sensation of a punch in his stomach. You idiot. He prides himself in taking every possible circumstance into consideration, in always being prepared. This, though—he never thought, not once, of what he'd do if James Moriarty died. And that's how he's become so damn dependent on him, he figures.
You're a fucking idiot, Sebastian Moran.
Jim is light, alarmingly light even for his height and shape, and he almost overshoots, only just managing to swing the body over his shoulder. He rises almost effortlessly, and wonders if anyone can see the roof—if anyone would care, even if they did. The country's shiniest prize is broken on the pavement—he can already see the headlines in his mind; BRILLIANT DETECTIVE INEXPLICABLY JUMPS TO HIS DEATH—and it's irrelevant that his enemy, the force behind the entire modern world of crime, is also dead, even more bloody inexplicably.
Part of him wants to pitch the corpse over the edge of the body, onto the pavement. To watch it hit the ground, watch the shocked faces of bystanders, hear their shrieks. See what the press would make of that. Chances are that nobody would even recognize his face. Nobody ever saw it, after all. It was the three of them, really, who knew the truth behind him—Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and Sebastian Moran.
Watson probably thinks that he's alone. That everyone who ever knew the truth about the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty is dead. But he's wrong. The truth is that he, Sebastian Moran, is the only one who ever knew a hundred percent of the conflict and everything behind it. And he'll have to keep it that way.
So he needs to take Jim somewhere else. Bury him. Burn him. Something in private, that won't bring in suspicion. Hell, he could probably throw him in a dumpster and the police would just write him down as another John Doe.
The police are bloody idiots. He knows that far too well at this point.
Taking a heavy breath, he turns, begins to pace back across the roof. There's still a bloodstain, but nobody will be up here to notice it. Nobody would think twice about it when they did. They'd think that a bird hit the roof or some bullshit. People look for every excuse to avoid the truth, he's learned, and they'll probably do that with Holmes, too, just think it was some sort of tragic suicide. Not look at how he'd never kill himself, how external forces were clearly at work.
Of course, Jim knew that. He was clever. He knew how peoples' minds operated.
Past tense. It feels foreign.
St. Bart's hospital feels empty as Moran traipses through it—not a single bloody person to notice that he's got a damned corpse slung over his back. He only goes through one echoingly uninhabited hallway before finding a back door—the fucking alarm doesn't even work when he shoves through it.
There's a massive trash bin outside. He stares at it for several long moments, considering his options. What else is there to do? Maybe Jim would have wanted glamour, but he never asked for any particular method of disposing his body, and he might as well pay for that now.
They won't care, will they? It won't mean anything. Even if they do find him, and even if they do somehow figure out who he is, it won't matter, it won't bloody matter. Because there's nothing they can do. If the coroners know anything, they'll be able to see that this is a suicide, and they're probably not going to publicize it. There are no family members that they can contact. So they'll seal his body up, destroy it in whatever method they see fit.
Moran sees no reason to be more attached to the body. It doesn't hold anything, not anymore.
So he slips it quietly into the dumpster. He's not grand about it, not dramatic, and he doesn't linger. Just tips up the lid, drops the body inside, listens to the blank thud as it hits the bottom.
That's it, then.
He doesn't leave quite yet, though—he takes a few brief seconds to unsheathe a cigarette from the case in his pocket, flick on a lighter and ignite the end. It smolders slightly, and he brings it to his lips, taking a long drag, letting the spicy warmth course through his lungs. He doesn't kid himself that it's pleasant. It smells and tastes like shit, like it always does, but it also invigorates him, and he feels better with it clenched between his teeth, as he adjusts the rifle on his back and starts back down the alleyway leading off of the hospital. His shoulders feel empty without a rifle strapped across them, but Jim requested specifically that he be unarmed for this.
"There are others doing the work this time, darling. Give yourself some time off."
Time off. Bullshit.
He'll stop back home first, he decides, at their flat—his flat, now. Catch his breath. Make a plan. Plans are good—they get him through everything, every heartbeat, every footstep.
And then he'll go to Scotland Yard, assuming that the place isn't completely blown up over the loss of its precious consulting detective—they won't be able to function at all without him, Moran realizes with a dry sort of amusement. They're going to be even more lost than they usually are.
But that's what he'll do, yes. Stop by the Yard, tell them what he needs to. And then he'll figure it all out from there. His next goals. There might be someone else to work for, or otherwise he can be on his own for a while, determine his own assignments. The corner of his mouth quirks bitterly at the thought. How long—how many years has it been since he's been able to choose who he kills of his own will?
Too long is the decision he reaches, tipping his head down, tucking his hands into his pockets and striding down the shadowy alleyway as if he hasn't just dumped a corpse behind him, the corpse of his boss, his mentor, his idol, his only goddamn friend.
It's a clean quarter hour later that he's pulled on the cleanest suit he can find, combed out his hair and screwed his face effectively into the permanently disgusted expression that the Yard is used to seeing. He's stepping into the building, and barely gets a second glance from anyone within—as expected, the place is as calm and unknowing as always. He doesn't have to fake the smirk that curls the edges of his thin lips as he strides along, glancing at the cubicles he passes by. They're ignorant right now. They've heard that there's been a suicide, probably, but they don't know who the victim was, not yet. Not all of them would even recognize the name upon hearing it, but he's headed for a specific office this time, for a specific grey-haired Detective Inspector, and he can't help but feel a twitch of anticipation at how Lestrade's going to react to Holmes's death. He'll be upset, distraught, guilt-wracked. It will be beautiful.
You're not thinking like yourself. Jim taught you that. How to appreciate the sorrow in others' eyes.
Pathetic—he is really and truly pathetic, to be thinking like this, to be poeticizing everything just because his far too thoughtful superior is gone. Sebastian Moran is not a flowery-speaking man, nor is he a deeply thinking one. That's not to say he isn't smart, because he is smart—much smarter than Holmes or the others ever could have anticipated. Clever enough to stay alive with half of the government in the world after him—to work for the bloody police force, at that.
Hopefully Lestrade hasn't heard yet. He wants to be the one to deliver the words. To see the darkening of the older man's eyes, watch him crumple.
Nobody tries to stop him as he moves towards the office. Good. He knows how to do that, too—to balance his figure the right way to project a sense of authority, to somehow force them all to think that he's something he's not. Or perhaps something he is, but not under this disguise, not as a forensics worker for Scotland Yard.
Disguise. It's all a disguise. It's all ever been a disguise, and the idiots haven't noticed. They have no idea that he's the very same Colonel Sebastian Moran who's committed far too many globally mourned assassinations, who was imprisoned for three years before escaping quietly, a fact that slipped under the news—they know he's on the loose; he's even seen his face tacked to a few of their 'most wanted' boards. They never notice it, though. He's done a bit of surgery—nothing huge, but Jim required it, insisting that he wouldn't have such a recognizable person working for him, the master of undercover operation. That, in addition to dyed hair and rather painful tattoo removal, was enough to render him similar but not identical to the Sebastian Moran on all the posters.
Lestrade's door is open. Moran schools his features carefully—he wishes he could laugh, could express the bitter, vengeful glee that's simmering up inside of him, but he's honestly not even sure if he can remember how to smile, and he manages without much effort to keep his expression blank, almost bored. He allows a hint of delighted relief to run underneath, but blended with guilt, shock, confusion—the carefully crafted emotions of the character he's playing. He is a good actor. A brilliant one. He's fooled Sherlock Holmes and the London police force several times, and that's no simple feat.
"Detective Inspector," he greets, forcing his lungs to move just a bit too quickly, lending the illusion of him being out of breath. He curls his fingers around the doorframe, leaning slightly. Look. I'm exhausted. I've been hurrying to tell you.
"Hm?" Lestrade's eyes flick up, wide and dark as always, and an almost visible curtain of boredom whisks across them as soon as he sees who's speaking to him. "Yes, what is it?"
"There's been a suicide. Off St. Bart's."
"So I've heard. Not really your department, is it? I heard there was a murder—"
"No—it was… it was Sherlock Holmes, sir." He has to resist sneering on the final syllable. Sir. He holds no respect for DI Lestrade—so intensely the opposite, in fact, that it almost hurts to voice the lie.
"What about him? Don't tell me he's on it, the last thing we need is more suicides that are actually serial killings," Lestrade groans, reaching up to massage his temples. He doesn't want this, of course. He's only just come in for the day. He has to deal with the court release of Jim Moriarty, with the suspicion Moran's carefully been planting about the validity of Sherlock's very person… he doesn't want to have to deal with a suicide right now. Another suicide, because they happen daily, in alarmingly high numbers. And what he wants even less is a murder made to look like a suicide, something to investigate rather than just clean up. He's a selfish man, but can't really be insulted for it. He only wants what any other human would—a simple way forward, something to do, a clear right and wrong.
"No, sir… Holmes didn't… investigate it." He has to fake the nasally tone to his voice, carefully flex his vocal cords and pull his nose into a delicate sneer to inflect it properly. British accent, too, instead of his natural Scottish. It's all very tedious, and it'll be nice once he stops—maybe he can abandon this job, now that Jim doesn't need the spy.
"What are you trying to say, then?"
Oh, he doesn't want to believe it. That's clear, in his face, in the way he folds his hands—subconsciously defensive. He does not, not, not want to hear that his pet detective is dead, and that's what makes it all the more rewarding as Moran speaks the words clearly, precisely, in a way that can't possibly be misinterpreted.
"Sherlock Holmes threw himself off the roof of St. Bartholomew's hospital. He killed himself."
"Oh, God, no," Lestrade mutters, raising a hand slowly to his forehead, covering his eyes, shaking his head. The words are spoken without hesitation, like he knew what was coming, but his voice is hollow, blank. "Oh, God… that bloody idiot. Of course he would. Of course he would."
"It could have been, sir," Moran ventures, "because people were beginning to discover the truth behind him… his fakery—"
"Please. Don't. Not now," Lestrade groans, peering through his fingers. There's a thickness to his voice, like he's punched right through the stage of denial, moved into grieving, like he's holding back tears. This is much more potent, much more personal of a reaction than Moran ever expected, and he can't deny that it makes him almost uncomfortable, causes the hair on his neck to rise slightly. He's lived isolated from emotions for so long that seeing them in other people feels foreign, like they're inhuman, less than human.
That's Jim speaking in you, again. He knew that they were weaker than him. Than you.
"He's really dead? You're entirely sure, it's not—it's not some look-alike, or—"
There it is. The denial. "Positive, sir. Dr. Watson was on the scene as well… he seemed rather distressed."
"John. Of course. I—hell." He shakes his head, slowly. "I suppose they're going to want me to come and take a look at it, then…"
"Not necessarily—it was only a suicide," he corrects, only going on now for the sake of maintaining the conversation, even though his use has expired. The news has been delivered, and that was it—Jim's last assignment to him.
After it's over, go to the Yard. Tell Lestrade, or whatever stupid officer they have in charge, what happened. Savor the look on his face.
He never questioned that, either—why Jim couldn't give him those instructions afterwards. Perhaps he assumed that it was because of the timing, because he didn't want to waste time in exchanging further directions before Moran notified Lestrade. There could have been a million motivations in that man's puzzle of a mind, but killing himself was never one that Moran expected.
"Yes, well—I'm going anyway. I should go. I—I need to see it for myself."
"Oh, for God's sake," Lestrade mumbles, rising shakily to his feet. "You could at least act a bit more respectful now. You didn't like him, alright, we could all say that, but the man's dead. Cut him some slack."
"He died of cowardice." Every one of those words is utter and absolute truth. Sherlock Holmes was not a brave man—even if he wasn't truly a lie, even if that was a ploy of Moriarty's, it's still undeniable that he died in the end because he was too afraid. Too afraid to have his loved ones taken away from him, so that he threw away his own life—the most valuable thing in his world—instead.
Lestrade's voice and movements are stiff as he walks out of the room, holding the door open for Moran to leave. There are visible tears in his eyes, now, but they aren't spilling over the edge, and he acts as though they aren't even there.
"If you know what's good for you, you won't say another word against Sherlock Holmes in my presence. Good day, Mr. Anderson."