Where there's smoke there's fire.

Short story setting up the initial meeting between Holmes and Moriarty. Who is responsible for the destruction that followed?


1. Where there's smoke there's fire.

“I will burn you, Jimmy boy. I will burn the heart right out of you.” 

His breath was rank and sweaty on my face. Every day since I'd arrived I'd been careful to avoid him. Nobody messed with Big Sammy. Unless, of course, Big Sammy got to you first.

“You know what you are? You're a feckin’ runt, you hear me? Just a weak baby you are.” He snarled and displayed a set of cavities. “What are you, Jimmy boy?”

“I'm…I'm a runt.” I gulped. He tightened his grip around my shirt collar. “I'm just a weak baby.”

“That's right, you half wit loser. Ever since the day I laid me eyes on you, I thought, that Jimmy boy’s not gonna last long. Not with Big Sammy around to sort him out.”

Big Sammy was stronger and taller and larger than me. He was built to fight and fight he did. Everything around him, he kicked the guts right out of. But he particularly favoured the underdogs. In this case: me.

I'd lost count of the orphanages I'd run away from only to be put into another one. They call them “care homes” but they're often far from it. The last place I'd been in the eldest girl had locked me in the airing cupboard for three long days and not a soul had noticed my absence. Who would anyway? Who would miss me?

“Tell me, Jimmy boy, do you miss your mam? She clearly didn't want nothin’ to do wid’ you. Nobody will miss you when you're gone. Nobody will ever miss you, Jimmy boy. You're just a little piece of junk, you are.” He bashed my head, hard, against the wall and I felt the pain ricochet throughout my body. The room began to spin and I couldn't see through my eyes for a second. When my vision cleared, Big Sammy had produced a match from his pocket.

“Never play with matches, Jimmy boy. They can be very dangerous, see. Just one small strike out of place and, poof.” He lit the match and it flickered brightly throughout the dim hallway. There was nobody around to help me now, and Big Sammy knew it. “The whole thing can go up…in…flames.” 

Big Sammy wavered the match in front of my nose until the fire almost singed my skin. The dancing flame burnt closer to his fingers, counting the seconds flitting by. “Should I go for the skin…?” 
I pressed my throbbing head as far as it would go against the tobacco stained wall. The flame was so close, I could feel the heat licking the tip of my nose. My mouth was dry and my heart felt as if it was trying to run out of my chest. I wished that I could run away, but it was too late. There was nothing I could do.

The flame quivered as I held my breath. Suddenly a broad grin spread across the match holder’s face and the fire reflected in his eyes. “Do you know what burns well, Jimmy?” 

I swallowed and tried to turn my face away, but was once more thrown roughly onto the solid stone wall. “I asked you a question, Jimmy boy. Times a tickin’…” He made a small twirling gesture with the match.

“I…I…don't know.” My voice was unrecognisable- barely a squeak.

“Oh, silly Jimmy. It's easy.” He raised the match, slowly, until it was just above my head. “Hair.”

I felt something small and hot touch my head and soon smelt the terrifying scent of burning hair and flesh. I tried to grab at my head, but Big Sammy swiftly grabbed both my wrists in his fist. He began to laugh, an innocent enough laugh to ears that did not know who the laugh belonged to. My breathing became panicked and I wriggled and kicked at his shins, which only made him laugh more. My head was burning hot and it felt as if my scalp was melting away. I kicked and screamed and eventually he laughed so much that he let go. I turned to run out of the door, but he tripped me up before I could go, dropping another match onto my sweater. I tried to pat the fire out, screaming desperately whilst he roared with joy all the while. Flames crept down my neck and when I reached to touch my head, my hands came away scorched scarlet.

 Without a second glance at Sammy I flung the door open and ran as fast as I could from the orphanage, stumbling over cobbles and broken crates as I went. My lungs were alight and body was alive, racing like a fox away from a vicious dog, I ran. I ran through the market, not caring at the people jeering at the corners of the streets. I shot through alleyways and hastened past wandering tramps that moaned at the world itself. I dashed past street sellers and taxis and strange mobs of protestors until I must have been on the outskirts of London. All the while my scalp scorched. I was in agony.

Blood pounded in my ears. Here I was, finally away from the hell hole of the orphanage and yet, I had never felt so alone. I thought of my mam; she was long gone now. She would never have let this happen to me. Mam would have taken me in her arms and sang until all my tears were washed away. She was the only person that had ever cared about me. Until the day that Social Services had come and taken me out of my own home, without a word. The big, silent men that stole my mother. 

Bam! Out of nowhere a stupid boy appeared, knocking me onto the concrete. I tasted blood in my mouth and felt it trickling down my jaw. Pain seared through my aching bones as I lifted my chin to look up at his face. He was like nobody I had ever seen before.

He bore a fantastic white complexion and his cheekbones protruded sharply out of his face. His mouth was drawn in a fine line and both eyes were a piercing blue. The boy’s hair was a mop of curly black and he wore a charcoal duffle coat with a long, blue scarf that trailed down to his knees. His face was a picture of fury.

“You fool!” The boy bent down to snatch up a red and gold bound book. “You made me lose my place!”

“I-I'm sorry?” What was the boy talking about? Surely, he couldn't be concerned about-

“My book, you cretin! I was nearly half way through!” The boy looked me up and down and his face drew into a smirk. “Orphaned boy. Mother didn't want you?”

My face grew flushed and my anger rose. How did he know all this?

“Somebody obviously got the better of you. Couldn't defend yourself. You had to run away.” He thumbed the pages of his book. “Couldn't stand and fight?”

I flew at him: fists clenched and eyes ablaze, but the boy merely pushed me away. He looked around eleven years of age: the same age as me. A similar height too. Nobody was going to get the better of me again. I wasn't going to be a victim any more.

“Your mother would be ashamed of you. Don't you have any respect for your superiors?”

An unfamiliar anger filled my body like never before, seeping through my veins and drowning my very being. Nothing mattered anymore. This boy had gone too far. 

I raised my fist to his head at the same moment that he grabbed my wrist, stopping the blow. Our eyes locked and I felt as if he was looking through me, learning my secrets and mastering my past. I was about to speak, but he briskly threw me back onto the concrete once more. 

A voice broke the fight as a land lady came to the door of the large, ornate building in front of us. Her expression soured when she noticed me until she turned to smile at the boy.

“Your mother told you not to play with poor boys, dear. Come in for dinner now, Sherlock.” 

With a flick of his coat the boy turned and walked up the steps to the house, brushing past the welcoming arms of the landlady. Soon the door shut harshly in my face and I was left alone on the streets.

I was going to get Sherlock. I was going to make him pay.


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