The Eighth Guest

Chapter Twelve

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
3/27/02
Tissues at the ready, ladies and gentlemen. This is more about Moriarty than you ever wanted to know.

Fenwick was dodging in and out of traffic at an alarming rate, but Tessa wasn't paying attention to him. She faced Moriarty and felt surprisingly unafraid. This wasn't the monster of her nightmares; up close and with the danger to her friends gone he was just a man, and that was somehow far less daunting than the terror of Watson's stories. She reached out and touched his face, examining it with her hands for a couple of seconds and then laughed as she noticed something. They shared the same nose, and his voice sounded slightly like her grandfather's. She heard the whurr of a screen going up between them and Fenwick.
"You are wondering where I am taking you, Tessa!"
She shook her head. "I don't care anymore; this will soon be over."
Moriarty frowned and took hold of her wrist as if she would try and leap from the car. "Do you think I would go to all this trouble just to let you go, to let you marry this Ling, to let my family name die out?"
Tessa smiled. "I love Ling more than I think you can realise. I love him and need to be with him he makes me happy...just as for a short while your wife made you happy." Moriarty fell silent. "Holmes told me after Scar nearly blinded me what you told him, and what you did...I don't believe it was all to do with the promise you made your wife, either."
She heard him snarl and he gripped her wrist tighter. She winced; he was too strong. "You think I would risk everything because I care what happens to a slip of a girl; you have much to learn about me."
"And you have much to learn about me. I have been skyboarding since I was six; I won the regional championships when I was nine; I like the colour blue; I hate deep water and I love Chinese food and Peter Ling. I am nothing like you, nothing, and you can't drag me away from my life when and where you feel like it. You just can't, just because I share the same last name as you."
There was an intake of breath. "You don't know what you want, what choices you want to make. You are too young."
Tessa could feel her temper rising again; she could feel her face going red. "I know I don't want to be like you. I don't want to make the choices you made all those years ago."
She could practically feel Moriarty's anger welling up. "How would you know what choices I made, what I did in my life...."
He was stopped short as Tessa pulled at a chain around her neck, a silver locket emerged from below her neckline, she pulled the chain off and thrust it into Moriarty's hand. She heard the catch snap open and the sharp intake of breath. She smiled. She knew what was inside; she knew the pictures by heart. On one side was the head and shoulders of a woman and the face of a small boy. She was beautiful, with eyes that seemed to draw in anyone who looked at the picture. The other side was a young man, smiling and handsome, with a radiating presence even on print. It was Moriarty in his youth with the only woman he had ever truly loved, both caught for a second in eternity. But there was more in that locket. Pressed in between them both was a slip of paper, no more than an ancient scrap of doodling, and Tessa knew that too. It was simply the initials E.D. and J.M. interlocked in such a way they seemed part of each other. She let him study the contents of the locket for a minute in silence.
"It was passed down to me. There was a diary too but that went in the...the fire. She loved you more than I think you ever knew. She talks about you on every page, even after she left you -- you and your son."
More silence followed; eventually she heard a long shaky sigh and the crinkling of paper. "I...drew this for her, when we were walking out together...and the pictures."
"You chose your career over her. She couldn't stand by you and watch you destroy innocent lives. She couldn't bear you passing that down to Edward, so she gave you a choice...and you chose wrong."
She heard him snarl again. "How do you know what I chose...she would have prefer we all festered in poverty, rather than take what we could to survive."
"Yes, she would, but you didn't just take what you needed to survive. You took too much too quickly, James. I've seen and read about what you did, how you crossed swords with Holmes. You have no excuse; you are anything but stupid, Professor Moriarty."
For once Moriarty was silent. Twirling the locket between his two fingers, staring as the light reflected in every direction.
Tessa wet her lips and spoke again. She was nervous now; she hoped it didn't show. "And now, Professor, I want to ask something of you. You once made your wife a promise to look after your family; now I want you to make me one. You are intelligent, so am I. You can't keep me forever. One day I will escape, no matter how close you keep me, and you can't make me do what you want without causing me pain, and I don't think you will do that...no matter what you say. So here's how this story ends -- and this is the end, James. I want you to promise me not to interfere in my life anymor. I don't want your protection or guidance or help; I will marry Ling and get on with my life, with my family and friends...and you will get on with yours however you see fit."
Moriarty stared at the spinning locket. She could not see him properly but there was a heavy silence between them. Her heart was thumping hard against her chest; she did not know whether or not he would agree. She just knew there had to be an end there and then.
"To leave you alone forever, Tessa! I made a promise a long while ago...There is a bond between us -- pain." His voice sounded hollow and empty, and when Tess spoke again her words were quiet and flat.
"The link we share cost my parents their lives, cost me my face and my eyes. Bloodlines water down much over time. I have Smith and Thompson and Lewis also in my blood, and yet the Moriarty is what has caused me the most trouble, the most pain. So in a year I will take a new name and you will be the last. You will walk your path and see what comes of it...as it should be, I think."
The next silence was the longest. Tessa shivered.
"You are sure this is what you want?"
"I am sure."
There was a sigh again. Tess saw a flash of silver light as the locket danced on its chain, and the blur that was Moriarty's face moved ever so slightly. In one swift movement he jerked the locket up into his hand and encircled it within his fingers. Tessa heard the sound of the screen wind down.

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