takes place between the great game and scandal in belgravia

John was getting more than a little fed up at Mycroft's antics. He felt like a child being summoned every time he saw that sleek black car pull up beside him. John also knew that there would be no point in resisting Mycroft's little game. The one time John refused, Mycroft sent three men to 221B to collect him. John managed to break the largest man's nose and get one of the others on the ground, but in the end john was brought in front of Mycroft with drying blood on the front of his shirt, out of breath and pissed as hell. John threw some choice words at the man, but Mycroft brushed them off and told him that when he needed to talk to John, he would, it was entirely up to him how easy or difficult it was. After that, John always got into the car when it appeared, if not with a bitter resentment. So when the black car pulled up beside him during an evening walk he didn't question it.

John got in the darkly tinted car with a huff. He noticed that Mycroft's usual assistant "Anthea" wasn't present. He sat in the backseat alone, watching the busy streets pass by. He thought of what Mycroft could possibly want this time. Probably just wanting an update on Sherlock. Nosy bastard. John knew that Mycroft could get the information he wanted from other sources besides John, but it seemed that Mycroft took a twisted delight in making John aggravated. The car eventually pulled up beside an abandoned printing press. The sun was almost completely set, casting the weathered brick building in a strange light that made it seem sinister and forlorn. He pushed his sleeve up to look at the time. They had been driving for about thirty minutes. They were in the outskirts of the bustling city. John got out of the car, shutting the door with a click that seemed to be the only noise. The buildings around them seemed equally out of use.

John pulled his coat to him and went into the building. the room he entered was completely black, save for a flickering light coming from the other room. The stale air was punctuated by the smell of something burning. John fought back a tickle in his throat and made his way towards the light. He could hear faint music and the crackling of a fire.

"Your standards for meeting places are getting quite low, mate." John said, his footsteps muffled by scattered paper on the ground. He opened the partially cracked door to the next room and saw two overstuffed chairs facing away from him. Between the chairs was a small fire, crackling merrily on the ground. There were windows along the far wall, most with their glass littering the floor. the rest of the narrow room was occupied by dusty machinery, whose shadows danced on the walls, looking like twisted malevolent monsters. John made his way to the highbacked chairs, but before he sat down he noticed with a start that the man on the opposite side of the small fire wasn't Mycroft.

"No." John breathed, taking a step back from the man. He snapped his head around, trying to evaluate just how much trouble he was in. John couldn't see anyone other than the man in front of him, but he knew there were more people here.

"what's the matter, Johnny boy?" The man across from him said, the fire flickering playfully in his wide brown eyes. John tried to mask the shock on his face. Moriarty sat with his elbows resting on both arms of the chair, his fingers steepled in front of himself. His phone was on his thigh, playing a bit of classical music that John had heard before. John glared at him, knowing that he wouldn't be able to leave the building until Moriarty was ready for him to. That is, of course, if Moriarty did intend for John to ever leave.

"Well now that you've gotten an eyeful how about taking a seat?" Moriarty said with friendly sarcasm. John had little other choice. He sat down, keeping his eyes fixed on the consulting criminal. Jim hummed along softly with the tune, reaching down and turning off the music. He continued to hum the song, finishing the last few notes.

"Bach's partita number one." Moriarty sighed. "music at it's finest."

John's stomach was in a knot, his heart beating fast. Whatever Moriarty was playing at, John wanted to know, not sit here and make casual banter.

"Why am I here?"

Jim's eyebrows went up. "Because I need to talk to you. I thought that much was obvious."

John gave Moriarty a tight smile.

"So impatient!" Jim laughed. "You've got nothing to go rushing home to. Sherlock's in one of his moods, isn't he?" John must have looked visibly struck by that because Moriarty laughed again. "Oh come on, John my dear, did you honestly believe that someone as dedicated as myself didn't keep an eye on my favorite crime fighting duo?"

John gritted his teeth together and kept silent. Jim gave a wide smile and leaned forward. The fire made his face into a shadowed caricature of itself. "What's the matter, Johnny boy? don't like the invasion of privacy?" John started to feel uneasy. Moriarty read this clearly on his face. His smiled grew wider and his eyes sparkled mischievously. "Let's just say that I know your activities quite well. You definitely know how to keep an audience entertained." John could feel the blood rush to his face. His mind couldn't help but go to a few days ago when Sherlock went out…

Moriarty threw his head back in a laugh that echoed through the room. "Oh John, you look as if you might faint!" He shook his head in good humor and gave John a wink. "It's okay, darling. Your secret is safe with me." Suddenly Jim's face went grave, all the laughter and good cheer gone in an instant. They sat like that for awhile, Jim looking into the fire, John watching him nervously, not daring to break the silence. Eventually Moriarty looked at him with a bit of a start, as if he'd forgotten that he had company.

"Well to get to the point, my dear fellow, I have a bit of a proposition for you."

John swallowed. "I'm listening."

Moriarty steepled his fingers together again and leaned back in the chair, his eyes never leaving John. "You know what I am capable of. I could make one little phonecall and the world as you know it would end…but that same phonecall could also be what keeps your life as it is now." Jim let that sink in. John had no idea what Moriarty was trying to say and why it involved John. Jim shifted in his chair slightly. "John, I am going to make a phonecall, and it's entirely up to you what happens after it."

"And what phonecall is that?"

The smile returned to Moriarty as he explained. "I am going to send Sherlock away. He will be solving some little crime that I'll stage for him. He'll be gone for four days. Each of those days, you will come to me and do as I say. Simple enough, really."

"And if I don't?"

Moriarty gave John a face that said they both knew just exactly what was going to happen. "Well, Johnny boy, if you decide to blow me off, the little trip Sherlock is going on might not be so...fun." Jim said this in a sing-song way as if threatening John's best friend was some sort of a game. The fire was down to only the embers now. The room seemed almost unbearably sinister, but it couldn't compare to the man across from him. John sighed, knowing that there was no way out of this. He would do anything for Sherlock, and Jim knew that.

Moriarty rose from his chair. "He'll be leaving tomorrow morning. I'll send someone to get you." Jim made his way towards the exit. John continued to sit, his heart hammering in his chest and a icy hate filled his being, accentuated by a mad panic that caused his chest to hitch.

"Oh, and one last thing, John." Moriarty called from behind him, his voice echoing in the room. "Wear those red pants you've got."

And with that, Jim left.