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The Moriarties

BBC Sherlock

Rating:  12 (implicit violence and domestic abuse)

Note: inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's continuity error about Professor Moriarty's first name.



It's not surprising that in a city as big as London there are two James Moriarties. What is strange is that they're brothers.

Half-brothers, in fact, which is most of the explanation. Mrs Henrietta Moriarty (née Stamper-Fordham) gives birth to James Michael Moriarty in 1970, named after his father; six years later, Mrs Sinead Moriarty (née Boyle) has James Finnbar Moriarty, known as Jim to distinguish him from his father.

It is Jim, aged 12, who seeks out James, who has been taught to dislike the very mention of his younger half-brother. To their surprise, they have much in common, starting with a shared hatred of James 'Sadistic Bastard' Moriarty senior. As well as politicians who mouth off about broken homes, and anyone who fails to show sufficient respect. Because they are not going to stay stuck at the bottom of the heap forever.

They decide then that they will work together, help each other demonstrate his genius to the world. James is the would-be scientist: he will become Professor James Moriarty. Jim is the adventurous one, dreaming of the army and becoming an officer, if not perhaps a gentleman: Colonel James Moriarty.

"General, surely?" says James.

"Are you kidding me?" Jim demands. "Generals sit around on their arses all the time. I want to stay where the danger is, that's the fun bit."


But their plans start to go awry. James is clever and hard-working, on track for a promising career in medicine. But not quite high-flying enough for the glittering prizes, and there's nothing quite as galling as being a second-rate academic. And Jim...there is something wrong with Jim. The abrupt enthusiasms that then vanish, the mood swings, the pilfering. James suspects that when Jim comes to the hospital to visit him, that he steals things – drugs, maybe even poisons. But he carefully doesn't look too closely, covers up any discrepancies.

James hopes the army will sort Jim out, but he only lasts a couple of years there. There are accusations of bullying and of cruelty, and he leaves hurriedly. Maybe, James thinks, Jim should have been like him, found a career where cutting up bodies is regarded as normal. Though sometimes he wonders what it would be like to have a job where you are allowed, even  encouraged, to kill people. They are both James Moriarty's sons, they realise now, even if they are ambitious for more than domestic tyranny.

Jim needs money now he's out of the army, and he has a plan to get it. When James hears the plan, he points out its flaws, and inexorably finds himself drawn into improving it. Because why should other people be so much better off than them? A lecturer's salary doesn't go far in London, and it's not just Jim's taste in suits that is expensive. Between them, they find they have the skills to make their new money-making activities work, and to start building on them, aiming for more. Jim comes up with the brilliant, impossible plans that James then implements, because he's a meticulous organiser.

James is also very good at concealment, deception. He's always been able to hide his true self behind a cheery facade. Jim is poorer at such disguises – his flamboyance cannot be hidden for long. But he's good at networking with other criminals. And he's prepared – happy - to use violence. If you want to kill someone quietly, safely, at a distance, then James will do it. He's the poisons expert – you can't expect a cabbie to have that kind of knowledge. But if you want to terrorise someone before you kill them, Jim is your man. His instability now sometimes frightens James, wondering just what might happen if the flashing circuits in Jim's brain get a particular input.

When Sherlock first becomes a threat to their organisation, James distracts him. It works for a surprising length of time – there are always rivals of theirs to steer Sherlock's attention towards surreptitiously, and he knows how to exploit Sherlock's fascination with pharmaceuticals. But eventually, such distractions no longer work: James realises they need something new.

It seems logical to get Jim and Sherlock to play together. They have a lot of similarities, as James has observed over the years. They will enthral one another. And, after all, James doesn't need Jim handy to carry out his killing anymore. He has a real colonel now, Sebastian Moran, whose sadism is currently under rather better control.


Unfortunately, the games between Jim and Sherlock escalate at an alarming speed, wrecking a number of their more promising plans. James doesn't even have the comfort that Jim has finished off Sherlock. When they dig into the rubble of the swimming pool, Sherlock is alive, but Jim is dead.

Thanks to John Watson. Which means that when Sherlock and John have recovered, and the surveillance on them is eventually relaxed - James is a patient man - he will kill them both in revenge. He wishes that he doesn't have to kill John, but it's the only way he can make it up to Jim for the terrible error he made earlier on. Sherlock wouldn't have had John to rescue him at the pool, after all, if they hadn't been introduced by James Michael Stamford.



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 8th, 2011 11:11 am (UTC)
I did not see that coming! I had to go back and see how that was worked! What a gem.
Aug. 8th, 2011 12:20 pm (UTC)
Great twist at the end ! I love how your back-story explains that bit of wibbly-wobbly continuity
Aug. 8th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
OH. OH. OH. I find this absolutely irresistible. I really do. It has a "Twilight Zone" quality to it and you've snuck up on the reveal at the end perfectly. Now when I see Stamford sitting mock-innocently in the lab, offering that little grin to John . . . oh, I'll just want to stab him! This couldn't be a better ficlet.
Aug. 8th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no! My favourite character - a minor position in the NHS?
Aug. 9th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC)
OMG!!! I think Mike is the best Moriarty ever. This was fantastic, I loved it. asñlfkajsñdlfjasdf. I'm just out of works, it's great, great, great. ♥
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )