“Well, fuck you.”
The whole world falls away under Sherlock’s feet. He’s staring at John, unfocused, and gazing into a vast unfathomable blackness. He stands in the exact spot where John kissed him and does nothing as he walks out of the flat. He hears a noise downstairs, the door opening and closing, and then nothing. His mind is buzzing with static. He assumed he would have longer. More time. He knew that if he pushed hard enough, John would move on at some point. But he assumed there would be more time.
And before he can contemplate how to force his body to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen when there is no John Watson to witness it, he hears them. Footsteps. And then the devil is at his door.
Sherlock can feel the blood rushing in his ears. His eyes are now sharply focused on Moriarty’s figure just inside the door frame. His brain works, he should respond somehow. Text Lest- No. John? No. Mycroft? No. He discards the thought of calling for help. He doesn’t need it. He can outwit him.
Moriarty takes a measured step into the flat. Presses the door shut behind him. Sherlock forces himself into motion and sits in John’s desk chair, in front of the empty table space that held his laptop only moments before. An abandoned chess game still stands off to one side, near the wall. Sherlock had been trying to teach John the Sicilian defense, but he had been proving himself spectacularly stubborn that night. More intent on distracting Sherlock with his mouth than learning how to defend against white’s E4 opening. Obviously Sherlock hadn’t had any Sicilians to teach him how to defend against John, so the game had been left to collect dust while they explored other ways of invading and conquering each other.
Moriarty tilts his head slowly and makes his way across the room, taking Sherlock’s chair at the same table for himself.
John got out just in time, Sherlock thinks. He takes small comfort in the thought. The nagging sensation that something was coming, that destruction was on the horizon, was well founded, it seemed.
Moriarty smiles across at him, deadly and polished. ”It was only a matter of time, I suppose.” He fingers a scratch in the table, something Sherlock caused via an experiment or two. Sherlock watches the movement, his body going numb. Moriarty’s knee brushes against his under the table. It’s an intimate gesture that he had only ever previously shared with John. Something about the way that Moriarty’s touch lingers against him turns his stomach.
“No fighting words for me this time, Sherly?” Moriarty looks disappointed and his gaze wanders across the table to rest on the chessboard. He peaks an eyebrow. Sherlock feels tired and wasted.
Moriarty drags the board across the table with one long finger and positions it between them. ”Or maybe you spent all your fight trying to fend off that dishy Detective Inspector. Mmm.” He smirks, shifting slightly in the chair. Making himself at home.
“What do you want.” Sherlock’s voice is flat. Devoid of emotion.
“Oooh, you think I came by just for business?” Moriarty tsked. ”What if I just wanted a playdate?” He looks down at the board again and spins it so that he becomes the black player. He takes a moment to assess the game, then moves bishop’s pawn to C5. The Sicilian Defense.
“You should just call your plaything then. I’m sure he’s skulking around on a rooftop somewhere close by.” Sherlock plucks the king’s knight from the board and moves it to F3. He looks to Moriarty. Your move.
“Mmm true, I could. But Sebastian is much like John in that way. Very pleasant to look at when they’re on their knees, but not much of a challenge intellectually, now are they? You remember how Seb cocked things up a few months back.” Black. Queen’s pawn to D6.
“They are nothing alike,” Sherlock spits. White. Queen’s pawn to D4. Aggression. ”John is the only thing that can chase away the boredom. You know nothing about him. Or about us.”
Moriarty chuckles. ”The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Black pawn. C5 to D4. Capture.
Sherlock curses himself. Foolish. Letting emotion dictate action. He takes a deep breath. ”And how is dear old Sebastian? Still polishing that tarnished crown of yours?” Sherlock lets his eyes slide down Jim’s body until he’s staring through the surface of the table covering his lap. White knight. F3 to D4. Capture.
Moriarty shifts uncomfortably and clears his throat. Interesting, Sherlock thinks,very interesting.
“He’s fine. In fact, we both figured you’d like to know we’re back in town. The game is back on, as they say. Though, I suppose the playing field is a bit unbalanced now that you’re flying solo.” Black. King’s knight to F6. ”Pity, I was so looking forward to the look on John Watson’s face when we took you away from him. Though, I suppose now you’ve done half the work for us. I should put you on the payroll.”
Sherlock clenches his jaw and wishes that John and his Sig Sauer would walk back in at any moment. ”Mm, I can imagine you would enjoy that, wouldn’t you?” White. Queen’s knight to C3. Counter.
Moriarty leans forward across the table, encroaching on Sherlock’s space. ”There’s always room for one more,” he whispers. He looks down at the chess game from where he is perched above it. Black pawn to A6. An invitation.
Sherlock leans back, regaining his space. He stands up, trying to do so calmly and slowly, but the chair tips back anyhow. He catches it before it clatters to the floor, but only just. He can feel Moriarty’s eyes on him as he walks to the mantle and fumbles with Billy. He pulls out his cigarettes and lighter. The first draw of smoke feels like he’s breathed in fire. His chest constricts around the sensation, enveloping it. Shelock exhales, watching the tendrils curl around themselves. He turns, renewed.
Moriarty’s chair is empty. Both chairs are empty.
On the chess board, the white king lays on its side.
Sherlock’s heart slows to a hollow thud and his chest grows cold. Fire extinguished.