“Back again so soon.”
It’s a statement of the obvious which I’m surprised at; Moriarty doesn’t seem to have a need for unnecessary words.
“Indeed.” I agree. “It’s good to see you again. Everything is much the same I presume?”
He looks genuinely floored; eyes flicker and mouth hangs open but only for a second. He really isn’t used to being treated as a person.
“Everything is…sedentary.” He confirms after this brief pause. “There don’t seem to be any projects on the go which require my attendance” the word is bitter “so in the larger scheme of things that makes me happy. Or not unhappy at least.”
I can’t imagine what it must be like, existing only at the whim of those who will hurt you indefinitely if it benefits them. I hope I never find out. I desperately want to change things for him. I can feel, so deep within me, that I need to do this; it burns inside my bones like part of my DNA has led me to this point. It is inexorable that I will try, but inevitable that it will be very, very difficult.
“Thinking again, professor Hadley?”
He has that tiny little smirk again.
“Yes” I say simply. “And while I appreciate the professional courtesy, only college and university students call me professor. You may call me Reen.”
“That’s what everyone calls you. You don’t really like it.” He states it as if it is a known fact, rather than supposition.
“How could you possibly know that?” I’m glaring now, a bit defensive. This, by the way, is because he is 100% accurate and it riles me. I guess I don’t like to be read so easily.
“Oh don’t worry…Miss Hadley?” He ventures the alternate name. I nod my acquiescence. “I’m sure no one else would be able to figure it out. But if you really wanted me to call you ‘Reen’ you would have insisted upon it at our first introduction, whereas in actuality you only made vague reference to the fact that ‘everyone calls you that’. The fact that you have only made it a demand as such after I called you ‘professor’ tells me that you only prefer ‘Reen’ in comparison to a title you find abhorrent: hardly enough to recommend it. I propose that while Reen is not quite the ‘Irene'” (I wince) “that you are clearly trying to be rid of, it’s close enough that it still reminds you of the hated given name.”
“Very astute. I believe you truly could give Holmes a run for his money, Moriarty.”
“As could you, “Irene Hadley”; honestly, what were your parents thinking?” That little smile again.
“I know, right? You spotted that last time. I’d not thought about it in ages but Scandal in Bohemia was one of my Dad’s faves and, well, he couldn’t help the Hadley part. It is a little close for comfort, isn’t it!”
He cocks his head to one side and says
“We’ve digressed mightily.”
I nod and add
“But don’t you enjoy it? The digression. Is it not also a diversion?”
Flicker of the eyes.
“Yes. Very pleasurable. But I don’t quite understand its purpose.”
“That is the purpose. When we converse, it’s not only to communicate facts and hypotheses but to enjoy the sheer pleasure of being able to talk; to communicate.”
“‘I’ am not a part of your ‘we’ Miss Hadley.” He bristles. He has been slouching quite relaxed in his chair but now he looks tense, angry even. I try not to react to his emotion and instead focus on his words.
“What ‘we’ did you think I meant?” I ask, calmly and politely.
“What else? You think I am a fake human, striving towards human sensibilities, when in fact I am nothing like. There is no ‘we’. There is only I.” He has turned slightly away from me and is glaring up and away, refusing to catch my eye.
“Actually I meant ‘we’ in a much simpler sense: you and I. I don’t have another pronoun to use. Do you?” This could come across sarcastically but I smile gently and as he looks back towards me I can see he has understood. He ducks his head a little.
“I apologise. I…” That pause and the flicker of his eyes. “treated you the way I was accusing you of treating me: tarring you with the same brush as my tormentors. Please forgive me.”
I’m genuinely touched by his words and feel a little guilty. After all, he has every right to be crazy angry at the human race. I feel like he is letting me off lightly.
“Of course I do, I don’t blame you for your attitude towards humans. I just hope I can alter it a little, given time. I don’t get to know everything that goes on in here, but any testing has to be signed off by me and I can guarantee you I will not be signing off on anything that will cause you pain or discomfort. I can’t guarantee it won’t happen; I’m not so naïve that I don’t know people here cut corners from time to time. But I will do everything in my power to prevent it.”
“Why?” He asks bluntly.
“Why? Well, wouldn’t you do the same for me, if our roles were reversed?”
“Of course I would. But I’m not human. The value of life to me is almost beyond comprehension. Perhaps because I am alone in the universe. Humans, and I apologise for my generalisation, seem to have forgotten that life has any value at all.”
“Well I haven’t. And trust me, I am not the only one.”
“We shall see. But I truly appreciate your efforts.” He is looking away from me again but I get the feeling he is preoccupied with some thought rather than avoiding my gaze. I decide this is as good a time as any to take my leave.
“Thanks for your time again Moriarty. I’ll pop in again soon; hopefully with some more ‘diverting digression’ for you.”
He nods, still preoccupied, eyes twitching and face expressionless. I sigh and grab my bag and head for the door. I’ve swiped my card and am halfway through the door when I look back. I’m surprised to see he is looking right at me.
“Moriarty,” I say “there might only be one of you. But you aren’t alone. Ok?”
He looks flabbergasted. I feel guilty at the small amount of pleasure this gives me. I raise my eyebrows in query. His mouth opens and shuts then he finally agrees
“Ok.” In a small voice. I leave him with that shell shocked expression. Seeing how bored he was when I got here today, it will be good for him to have something to dwell on.