My breath is coming short, as if I just ran the length of the city. Anger and confusion war within me, heightened by adrenaline. At the edge of sanity. At the edge of the roof. I grasp him by his coat.
It would be so easy to just push him over the edge. This man who wants to destroy me, maybe has destroyed me. I fight to regain rationality, to remember the plan. The plan I spent all night piecing together, the smell of Molly and her lab surrounding me, as I tried to delve into the mind of the criminally insane.
I knew his end game was to force me to commit suicide. That was obvious, a perfect end to his nightmarish fairytale of the fake detective. His consistent references to falling, implied he wanted me to jump. That much I had planned and prepared for, but there must be more because he knows I wouldn't jump wilingly.
"Okay." Moriarty interrupts my struggle for control, "Let me give you a little extra incentive." I cock my head, waiting for the shoe to drop.
"Your friends will die if you don't." Of course. So simple. Just as he said in my flat "everyone has their pressure points, someone they want to protect from harm." Many people would argue that the great Sherlock Holmes did not care for others, that he was immune to such pressure points. But Moriarty is clever, he sees, he knows my weaknesses. He know who in my life counts. Molly comes unbidden to my thoughts and dread creeps over me.
"John" I croak. It's not a question, John is an obvious target, my obvious friend.
"Not just John. Everyone." Moriarty almost whispers it. Fear stabs my heart and I want to say Molly, to discover if she is safe. But I control myself and choose the next obvious person.
"Mrs. Hudson." My motherly landlady, another obvious choice.
"Everyone" he intones, and this time he smiles. I fight the urge to shake him and demand what "everyone" means.
"Lestrade" I say instead.
"Three bullets, three gunmen, three victims. There's no stopping them now." he smirks.
I feel an overwhelming sense of relief. Molly is safe. Moriarty has forgotten the young woman that he used in order to meet me. Discarded her from his mind the way I used to, the way I think most people do.
"I don't count" she told me. Not in a subtle bid for a compliment or a dramatic fit, but as a statement of fact. Consumed with the case and not sure how to respond I had let her walk away. When confronted with the realization that Moriarty was not just out to destroy my career but wanted me to commit suicide; I went straight to her. Not because I have always trusted her and knew she would help me with anything but because I needed her to know that she counted. Needed her to know how important she was, how special she is. Of course she didn't even comment on my declaration. In typical Molly fashion she was completely selfless, concerned only about what I needed. Yes, above everything else Molly counts and Moriarty has no idea.
I yank him away from the edge, suddenly, inexplicably, calmer. John, Mrs. Hudson, and Lestrade are in no danger because my suicide will keep them safe. I am safe because Molly will keep me from actually dying. Like John said "your friends protect you."
There is still the game to complete and more of his puzzle to unravel; I am really hoping to avoid a jump from the roof.
But deep down I feel as if Moriarty has already lost.