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It had been two years after the fall.

Two years? Perhaps more, but not quite three. Sherlock’s fall had been from the rooftop, a literal plummet to his presumed death. Jim Moriarty only believed he would actually kill himself for a few fleeting moments. Those fleeting moments were enough to make him feel, if only for a few minutes, but what minutes those were. Excitement, anticipation for the end, a thrill that sent shivers up and down his spine for the wondering on what was on the other side… and a crushing disappointment at what Sherlock was. He was normal and ordinary and boring, and hadn’t actually been worth his time, his fixation, his schemes and games. Everything they’d had was all for naught, in the end.

Until he proved himself. He proved that they were one in the same.

It had been a relief, had allowed Jim to fake his own death with the confidence that Sherlock would be able to do the same. Their games simply needed to be put on hold for the moment, needed to be put on the backburner, if only so they could continue to stage them. He’d made the mistake of ratcheting up the intensity too quickly, and now they needed good cause to avoid one another.

He never anticipated the return to take so long.

Jim had had to cut off contact with everyone, Sebastian especially. He quickly arranged to get himself a new flat on the outskirts of London. It wasn’t anywhere near where he would typically keep residence, and to say it was small would be an understatement. There was one room, aside from the bathroom, sparsely furnished.

The flat was not the problem.

The boredom encroached steadily as Jim didn’t dare to go out more than was necessary, lest he run into someone who recognized him - or recognized Brook. The actor had supposedly been forced to commit suicide along with the “fake genius,” so Jim couldn’t well freely walk the streets, at least not for a good while.

The idea that Sherlock was still out there, biding his time, waiting to come back as well lasted him six months.

Liquor lasted him another six.

The walls of his little flat didn’t last the year. They were shot, had knives thrown into them, had words scratched into them until Jim’s fingers bled just because he could, just because the pinpricks of pain that would last a few days at most afterwards reminded him that he was alive, that he hadn’t actually shot himself and that he wasn’t locked in a hell of neverending boredom in that little room.

When the alcohol stopped being helpful, he began to dabble in narcotics. He sobered for just long enough to create something new - and to record the process. Something that would give him all of the effects he would possibly want with none of the addiction that would usually come with such a potent drug. It took him three months, and carried him through the next year and a half.

If he had been lucky to eat or sleep before, those little inconveniences were ignored now even more. He would only eat when sobriety gleamed through the cracks long enough for him to make a new batch. He would only sleep when it claimed him by force - which would be why he would spend most of his time sprawled in bed, staring at the ceiling. The narcotics did their job and kept the thinking at bay, kept the feeling further than the thoughts, and the creeping loneliness further still.

Loneliness.

It wasn’t a sensation Jim ever anticipated experiencing, but it was one that edged in all the same, made him long for contact more meaningful than the short exchanges with takeaway deliverymen, with his own underlings that brought him the requisite chemicals to keep his thoughts at bay. More and more frequently, he had the urge to text someone who would recognize his signature ‘-JM’.

He didn’t give in until the day he recognized that addiction came in many forms.

He wasn’t able to recreate his saving grace for several days, someone having difficulty getting him exactly what he needed. The thoughts came back, the emotions followed, and the ache in his chest from being so horrifyingly alone prompted him to wonder what it would be worth to continue waiting. While he wasn’t addicted to the drug, he was addicted to the lack of thought it brought, and that was somehow worse.

He caved and gave in to the urge to text someone.

He wondered if Sebastian had even lasted this long, but sent his current address to the emergency phone, reserved for contact between just the two of them, all the same, signed it for good measure.

And then all he could do was wait.

But the waiting had a purpose, now.

He hoped it would be enough of one.

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