Original Story Title: Don't Ever Look Back
Original Story Link: http://lovingthevolume.livejournal.com/8514.html
Original Story Pairings: Sherlock/Molly
Original Story Rating: PG-13
Original Story Warnings: N/A
Remix Story Title: through the alley, left then right (The Metempsychosis Remix)
Remix Author: medie
Remix Beta: igrockspock
Remix Britpicker: thesmallhobbit
Remix Story Pairings: Sherlock/Molly
Remix Story Rating: PG-13
Remix Story Warnings: None
Summary: Molly Hooper dies on the first of the month.
"through the alley, left then right (The Metempsychosis Remix)"
Molly Hooper dies the first of the month.
It's nothing especially interesting, just a road traffic accident on her way home from Bart's. She didn't even see it coming. Just some poor bastard having had one too many before driving down the wrong street at the wrong moment. She doesn't suffer or struggle; she's just gone.
That part is true after a fashion (being at the moment Molly's supposedly 'struck' she's in the back of a government car and speeding out of the city), but the rest? The rest is one great and masterful lie. Mycroft Holmes at his finest, so his brother grudgingly says.
Well, she says grudging, but really, she's being kind. Sherlock's admission looks as though its being ripped from him, forcibly yanked from his lips by an invisible monster (perhaps one with 'property of MH' tattooed on its back) but standing at her funeral, Molly must agree that it is quite well done.
"Take heart, Molly," Sherlock says, a grim presence at her side. They're standing beneath the trees, at the farthest edge of the larger-than-expected crowd, unnoticed by the mourners. "How many people live to see their own funeral?"
Molly clutches her umbrella closer, warding off the steady rain overhead, then peers up at his pale face. "Bugger off," she says, pleasantly and with her nicest smile.
He actually returns it. Really. She's so caught off guard that the umbrella tips back and a raindrop catches her square on the forehead. Sherlock brushes it away with cool fingertips and she steps back, away from him. "I already have," he says, still smiling, though she thinks there's a sadness there as well. Enough that she almost expects him to apologize.
Molly's still sorting out what's truth and what's lie, with Sherlock it's difficult to tell, but this is a truth.
The crowd before them begins to break up and Sherlock turns. John, Mrs. Hudson, and Greg are in the midst of them and it wouldn't do to get caught. Still, he offers Molly an arm and she passes him the umbrella before taking it. "In case I haven't said," she murmurs, "Thank you for coming back."
He looks down, back to his unreadable norm, and says, "Had to. Otherwise, this wouldn't be a sham, would it?"
Molly Hooper dies on the first of the month. On the second, she's born into a new one.
A year or so before the funeral that isn't, before she realizes just how much of a blight Jim 'from IT' truly is, Molly is quietly going out of her mind. Not really, of course, but some days it feels like it. She feels like one of those little hamsters going round and round in a wheel, running like mad while never getting anywhere.
Most days, she doesn't even think about it. Molly has her routine and routine makes it easy to forget. She can get up, have a cuppa, go into work and know the broad strokes of what's in store. It's a bit mind-numbing and the days she realizes that, the days when life just seems wrong, she knows that it is.
Molly looks round on those days, at her life and all it isn't, and she wants to scream. This isn't who she was going to be. This isn't what she was supposed to be. She had a plan once and knew who she was going to be. She can't remember, now, what that was, but she knows this isn't it.
It's not that she'd planned on a family and it isn't as though she particularly wants one now. She's not sure she quite likes the idea of handing herself over, part and parcel, to some stranger (whether it's a stranger of her own making or not) for the rest of her days. It's not nearly that cut and dried, of course, but it feels like it when she thinks of it and that's answer enough right there.
She's not anyone's mummy and, in truth, she's quite fond of herself as she is.
There are nights, though, and days, when she wouldn't mind someone about. Sex would be lovely, but she thinks more than that would be even better. She's always been a romantic about things, bit hopeless that way really, and, yes, it would be nice.
Though, she's not sure how to fit that into things either. To be honest, she can't really say what it is about life that's wrong, precisely. She just knows that it is. She knows that she doesn't fit and she's still trying to sort out why.
Oh, she likes the pathology part all right. Maybe it's not dashing about the city with her best friend and Scotland Yard in tow, but she finds answers. She's there at the worst of it with the answers people want. She's learned how to explain things. To help and, sure, not glamourous, but she doesn't think there's much that competes with a grieving family's gratitude.
No, that part's fine. She's proud of it. When she's at work, she's not brilliant, but she fits. It's everywhere else that nothing sorts out.
That's when she feels like she's shamming at being normal. Nothing else that it could be called, really. She looks around at her friends, listens to their conversations, and can't imagine how getting pissed out of your mind is fun, but laughs along with the rest of them. It feels awkward, she's sure her laughter sounds just a bit forced, but its the best she can manage and it'll have to do.
Sherlock with his fierce independence and his utter refusal to sham at anything that isn't case-related (and very, very brief) is a revelation. She's got used to the quiet desperation, at accepting bread crumbs of approval, and it takes Sherlock and his shameless, oblivious cruelty that truly drives the point home.
It takes Jim Moriarty to make her do something about it. Its a bit of a punch to realize you're not even the star of your own life, just a bit player bumbling about in the background whilst the hero and the villain do their dance. When Moriarty burns her world to cinders and she sees her situation for what it is, Molly gives up on shamming.
She doesn't set out to reinvent herself, not like that. She rather likes most of Molly, but she had a plan once and she needs a new one now. She doesn't need to matter to Sherlock, or Jim (especially not to Jim) but she's going to matter to herself, thank you very much.
It's about time that she did.
A new flat's the first thing in order. Her old one's a nice enough place, but she's never really liked it. It was good enough, but-that's just it. It was good enough. Good enough isn't anymore and while everyone else is abuzz with Sherlock and John's stunt at some pool (she hears Greg complaining to Sergeant Donovan and rolls her eyes at the whole thing) she finds herself something new.
Doesn't take long at all, not even a month, to turn up something that she likes. Its nice, warm, and has funny lines and a window seat she can fight Toby for and she likes everything about it. She even likes the people in the building.
She has coffee with the girl from three doors down a few weeks after she moves in. It gets to be a regular habit. Anthea works for some ministry and is the only person Molly has ever seen who's more attached to their mobile than Sherlock.
"I've been thinking," Anthea says, putting her phone down after answering the fifth text since they sat down with coffee. The truly terrifying thing about that is that it's not even a personal best.
Molly tucks her chin, grins a little. "Planning on invading Bolivia, are we?"
"Hardly," Anthea shakes her head. "Landlocked country, the Navy always complains so when we do that. France is more likely. Also more easily destabilized with their propensity toward rioting."
"Ten points Anthea," Molly says, laughing. "All right, so what have you been thinking, then? If not about invading small defenceless nations." God help said nations, she thinks. Anthea is frighteningly efficient at most everything. A simple invasion would be no trouble at all really.
"Judo," Anthea says, proud. "I think we should take a class."
Molly thinks about it. It's something she never would've done before. Taking an evening class was always pottery, scrap-booking, something she can send home to Mum. She thinks of Judo and then she thinks of Jim. Its the first that she has thought of him in months. She shivers. "Yes," she says, forcing a smile. "Let's."
Insistent upon having the right instructor, Anthea promptly initiates a search that would be dizzying if not for her persistent disappearing acts. Molly's nearly given up on the whole thing when Anthea texts her with a list of potential classes.
It takes a week to settle on the right one, then another week for Anthea to finally turn up to the class. She does so at the last minute, meeting Molly outside, her bag on one arm and her thumb busily flying over the keypad of her mobile with the other.
"One of those days, is it?" Molly asks, rescuing the bag before it can fall. Which, given the way it had been precariously hanging off Anthea's arm, had been an imminent occurrence.
"Aren't they all?" Anthea sighs, finally tucking the phone out of sight. "Been a bit of a tip at the ministry," she says. Her phone chimes again as they duck out of the chilly winter's evening and she mutters something quite unladylike.
"You need a new boss," Molly says, holding open the door. "He never lets you alone."
"Yes, he does," Anthea insists, navigating the busy corridor without ever once looking up from her phone. "Right now, in fact."
Molly gives the phone a pointed look. "Yes, I'm seeing that."
Anthea smiles, tucking it out of sight. "All done," she says, holding up her hands. "Just a minor emergency at the palace."
Molly laughs. "What, Her Majesty misplace a Corgi?"
"No," Anthea smiles sneakily, "My employer's brother is without trousers." She links arms with Molly. "Ready?"
"Absolutely not," Molly says, then stops. "Without trousers?"
She's rather frighteningly good at Judo. The week after Christmas, she breaks her teacher's wrist by accident. She's horrified and apologizing profusely as she drops to the floor beside him. "No, no," he's saying, laughing as he does. "My fault entirely," he assures. "Just remember, next time some bloke gets handsy? Just like that, but meaner. Don't apologize."
Molly laughs at that and Anthea comes over to help get him on his feet. From there its off to A&E with him alternating between groaning in pain and proclaiming her brilliant (this, mostly, after they give him something for the pain).
He proposes marriage before they take him off to x-ray. She negotiates down to coffee instead.
"Just think," he says, the aforementioned in hand. "It'll make a brilliant story for the kids."
She likes the idea almost as much as she does taking him home. She sees him half a dozen times before Sherlock comes to her for help and Jim-sodding-Moriarty blows her world apart again.
She might have known it was coming, though. Even before Moriarty shows up, before the madness of the break ins and the trial, she runs into John Watson with Sherlock nowhere in sight.
It's strange to see him on his own. Smaller.
As soon as she thinks it, Molly feels guilty and sympathetic all at once. She's never known Sherlock the way John does, but she has an idea what its like to let your identity get wrapped up in the man all the same.
On her way out of the hospital, she finds him peering out at the street like it might bite him.
She's halfway to asking what he's on about when she realizes. Press. She's seen the newspaper articles and laughed at that ridiculous hat (she even bought one from some charity shop a few weeks back, Toby's been sleeping on it ever since) but watching John's face it doesn't seem quite that funny now.
"Oi," she teases, giving him a bump with her elbow, "Think I can get an autograph?"
He jumps, but smiles when he realizes who it is. "Seen the papers, I take it?"
"And the blogs, and the bit on-" Molly winces at the dismay stealing over his face. "Sorry. It's really that bad?"
"Mental," John sighs. "They've taken to interviewing my exes."
"Well, they would," she says, then grins. "Sherlock hasn't any."
He chuckles. "They've opinions about that too. It's not that I mind that much, well I do, but it's mostly-" he grimaces. "Sherlock's just more than...he deserves-christ, but there's no way to say this that doesn't make me sound like a complete-right, I'm just going to stop talking now."
"Nonsense," she says, impulsive, linking arms with him. "I'll buy the coffee, you do the talking; I promise I'll only share the boring bits with the Daily Mail."
He laughs. "Promise?"
"Of course not," she sniffs. "I'll just hold out for the really good money and give you half."
It gets to be a habit of theirs. Usually at the sandwich shop below John's flat (easier for her to get there, she's not on the press radar and, really, she's not in any hurry to end up dragged into the circus either) with one of them doing the talking, the other the listening. They trade off on that, but its mostly him.
It's not a problem. John listens when she needs to talk, never complains and teases her about Ian and breaking his wrist. They're friends and Sherlock never once enters into it, save as the punchline to a few truly horrendous jokes.
That's why she might've known. She has Ian, she has Anthea and John, and she fits. She fits and she likes it.
Precisely the time for it all to blow apart and, of course, fitting that it should be Sherlock and Moriarty who together light the fuse.
"I suppose I should apologize," Sherlock says, after he's taken his leap off the building and been brought into her morgue.
Sherlock Holmes is 'dead' and still talking. Molly would laugh if she could find the air to breathe.
She's standing between two tables, Sherlock watching her from one, what's left of Moriarty on the other, and she's about to commit a crime. A crime, except it isn't one at all as Sherlock's older brother is waiting in the wings to arrange what she cannot.
"When I decided that things needed switching up," she says, pointing at Sherlock. "This is not what I had in mind."
He opens his mouth, frowns, then shakes his head. "I have no idea what that means, but I assure you, this was not on my mind either."
She snorts. "I don't believe you."
Sherlock eases up. He's battered and banged about, but he's alive and, Christ, she's one of two people in the city that knows that.
She snaps on her gloves and rushes to help him. "You realize its been ages since I've treated the living, right?"
"Beggars and choosers, Molly," Sherlock looks at his clothing in dismay, then grabs her by the hand. "This is well beyond the pale, Molly. Thanks are in order as well."
Blushing, she pulls her hand free. There was a day Sherlock acting like this would've put her over the moon. As it is, she's more than a little unnerved by it all, but she decides to chalk it up to possible head trauma.
"Come on then," she says, reaching for the tray. "We need to get you out of here before someone finds me talking the corpses."
Sherlock manages a faint look of derision. "That's hardly new, Molly."
She stops her work to smirk at him. "But the part where the corpse talks back is."
He frowns. "Point taken."
Helping Sherlock 'die' is the maddest of mad schemes. The little girl in her wants to thrill at the adventure and romanticism of it all, but that little girl's dwarfed by the woman who can only see the pain of it all. Sherlock has more friends than he realizes and all of them (Molly included) is grieving for the man they lost.
All bad enough (she doesn't have to sham crying at the funeral, just looking at John does that) but then she sees the horrible ashen look on Lestrade's face and the pinched guilt on Donovan's, and bleakly realizes they blame themselves.
"You can't help them, Molly," Anthea says, holding an umbrella over them both. "If you tell them the truth-"
"I know," Molly looks at her friend. The friend who's ministry job means, apparently, reporting to Sherlock's older brother and organizing . "Moriarty."
"Or whoever has inherited his organization."
She's supposed to be furious with Anthea, she knows that. Ordinary people would be. They'd be furious at the deception, at the lies, at being an assignment, but Molly isn't even angry. Molly knows shamming and Anthea isn't. Not about being her friend.
Anthea reaches out, squeezing Molly's fingers quickly. "It'll be all right," she says, trying to smile.
Molly squeezes back.
"We have people watching," Anthea says, the next night. Her mobile's sitting off to the side, her shoes are kicked off, and its been a whole five minutes since she answered one of Mr. Holmes' (Mycroft, that is) texts. "Just to be safe."
Molly picks up her coffee (decaf, last thing she needs is something else to keep her up at night) and watches the mobile light up. Anthea's mobile bill must be atrocious.
Anthea checks the phone, taps out a reply with a little grin, and then smiles. "Not much chance of anything happening, of course, you're not the one they'd expect to help him, but-"
Molly sinks into the couch cushions and shuts her eyes. "But."
Anthea pokes her with her toe. "You'll be fine, Mols. We'll see to that." she says, light as air. "No point in being mad with power if I can't abuse it dreadfully from time to time."
Opening one eye, Molly manages a smile. "Bolivia?"
"The Outer Hebrides."
Molly's eyebrows rise. "You can invade that?"
"Well, not as such," Anthea shrugs. "Practice. Don't want to fall out of the habit."
"Perish the thought." Molly gets up. Forget coffee, they need wine. "Be terribly embarrassing, invading a country and forgetting how."
"Pillage," Anthea says, solemn as the grave, "then burn."
Molly nods. Much, much more wine.
It takes ages to stop looking at every strange face she passes, trying to sort out whether they're friend or foe and coming up empty every time.
She's not Sherlock, though, and she can't tell. She tells herself its just as well. They'd be terrible secret agents if she could sort them out.
Its reassuring right up until it isn't. Namely, the night she goes to bed and wakes up to Sherlock urgently murmuring her name. For an instant, she's confused. Sherlock? Here? But then she hears Toby yowl and Sherlock yelp.
No doubting that. She sits up to find him glaring at the cat, his hand in his mouth.
For his part, Toby looks exceedingly pleased with himself. He's sitting on the end of her bed, washing one paw and keeping an eye on Sherlock all in the same fashion.
Molly blinks at them both, bleary. "What are you-"
"You need to get up, Molly," Sherlock says, quiet and urgent. Its so unlike him that, for a moment, she thinks she must be dreaming. The moment lasts as long as it takes for Sherlock to yank down the sheets and she sees her ratty old pyjama pants twisted up about her legs.
"So, not dreaming then?" she sighs.
"No," Sherlock grabs her hand. "Up."
She gets up to find a there's a dead man in her living room. Anthea is presiding over the whole affair, fingers flying across her mobile and relaying instructions to the team currently working their way round Molly's flat.
She looks up once, nods at Sherlock then smiles a little at Molly, then its back to her mobile and quiet orders to the men.
Molly's shivering, she's got a blanket ("for shock" Sherlock had said), and she can't stop staring at the body. Not until she catches Sherlock's sleeve.
Or, rather, she tries. Sherlock is gone when she looks. Molly doesn't know why that frightens her, but it does, so she hops up.
He's in her bedroom, moving about quickly, throwing things in a bag. Molly sighs and neatly folds up her blanket before setting it aside. She can do this far more efficiently than he. He lets her take the bag from him and sits on the end of her bed. Its so strange to see him here, but everything about him is strange. She picks out what she wants, puts it in the bag, and does so in rapid time. "He was going to kill me, wasn't he?"
"No, he wasn't," Sherlock says, grim and quiet, escorting her from the room and from the flat itself. He's lost weight, gaunt now, and his clothing is more like John's than anything she's seen him wear before. "He was going to question you."
Still a bit fuzzy about the edges, Molly stops in her tracks. "Oh. They've worked it out then. They know about you."
"At least, they seem to suspect it," a new voice sighs. "Most unfortunate, really. I'd hoped to avoid drawing you further into this. It seemed unlikely to keep you out of it forever, but this is certainly not how I would have escalated the matter."
"You," Sherlock says, almost spitting the word.
"Yes, Sherlock," the newcomer says, his voice that of infinite patience. "You might not realize the depth of the machinations necessary to pull off this little plan of yours, but I assure you the rest of us most certainly do. There was very little chance that Dr. Hooper would remain free of suspicion forever, but I had hoped we might indeed make some dent in Moriarty's organization before Moran realized it was you."
He looks nothing like Sherlock, but still, Molly knows this must be him. Mycroft.
Anthea emerges from the building behind them and, a moment later, two men go by with the body bag between them. Molly watches it go and shudders.
Mycroft sighs. "It is regrettable, Dr. Hooper, that we should have to interrupt your evening this way, but it seems Colonel Moran is more insightful than my brother gave him credit for." He steps away from his car, his driver opening the door for her. "I had hoped to avoid disrupting your life, but that is no longer an option."
She looks at him, then back at her building. "Toby-"
"I'll take care of him," Anthea says, quickly. "And your plants."
Molly lets out a little laugh. "Probably better than I would anyway. Black thumb, me." She breathes deeply and tries to keep calm. "I liked this flat."
"You'll see it again," Sherlock says, his voice surprising her. She looks up at him, his thin features and the new lines on his face. It's not like him, not at all, but neither is the subtle concern in his eyes.
He's good at shamming, she thought he might have been that night he asked for her help, but she doesn't think so.
"Moriarty's man," Sherlock says. "Very dangerous. You can't stay here, Molly. He'll find you and force you to admit the truth."
"That's not him?" Molly says, waving at the van pulling away with the corpse. "I thought-" She frowns, realizing the way they'd been speaking. "Of course it's not him."
"No," Sherlock says. "He's assumed control over Moriarty's organization."
"And seems to be running it far more efficiently than Mr. Moriarty ever did," Mycroft says. "Worrying, that."
"That's what you're doing, isn't it?" Molly says, catching on. "It wasn't about hiding or protecting John."
"It was," Sherlock says, "but protecting you all means destroying everything Moriarty's built. Nothing can be left for Moran to use."
She looks at him.
His eyebrow sweeps up. "Really?"
"If I stay here, what are the chances that he'll find me?"
Sherlock frowns, seizing on the question with his usual enthusiasm. "Unlikely, but possible. Moriarty did demonstrate an alarming level of access." At that, Mycroft makes an annoyed huff. Molly feels a twinge of sympathy for Anthea's thumbs. "Yes, you're right." Again he puts an arm around her shoulders, but this time to lead her from Mycroft's car to another.
She's going on the run with Sherlock Holmes. Imagine that.
They leave the city, but they don't go far. "Bolthole," Sherlock calls it, unlocking the tiny door. "Have them all over London, just in case. Started expanding them outward into the countryside some time ago."
"After the pool?"
Silence answers her question and she turns away from her exploration of the room to find Sherlock looking at her. His brows have drawn together, eyes taking her in, and she has a feeling that this might be what his approval looks like.
"Yes," he says, finally. He draws out the word, like he's testing the weight of it and the puzzle she's presenting. "It seemed prudent to take measures."
He turns away then, quickly, to start rifling through drawers and cabinets. It isn't that he's looking for anything, she thinks, so much as he's hiding from the truth.
The measures he took weren't nearly enough to keep John out of a sniper's eyeline.
"I'm sorry," she says, but he doesn't answer.
Its somewhere near dawn when he speaks again. She's curled up on a small cot, him somewhere nearby on an ever present sofa.
Molly turns her head. In the darkness, all she can see is John's face sitting across from her in the sandwich shop. They hadn't talked much after the funeral, her choice as much as John's (the truth had always sat on her tongue, heavy, weighing down every word that came out of her mouth) but when they had...
She thinks of that and closes her eyes. Sherlock already knows the answer, but he may never understand it.
Weeks pass, but every time she opens her eyes, she knows down deep that she isn't home. Toby's not pressed against her side, purring until she gets up and fixes his breakfast, the wallpaper's the wrong pattern and the city visible through the window is-"Edinburgh," Sherlock says, sitting on the end of her bed.
Molly freezes, clutching the blankets to her with one desperate hand. "Sherlock?"
"Quite obviously," he sniffs. "Who else might you be expecting?"
She relaxes back against the pillows, forcing herself to settle. "There is a list," she says, sighing. "In case you've missed it, we've have been busy."
She tried, in the beginning, to have a go at a 'normal' life. While Sherlock chased Moriarty's shadows, Molly tried adjusting to a new name, a new city, but it didn't last. Couldn't. Not with Sherlock about.
Molly wouldn't have thought him the type to get lonely (certainly never seemed to be before) but here he is. He has his own flat, somewhere, but she's never seen it and he never seems to go there.
His 'map' of Moriarty's organization crept its way across her living room wall and the sofa is more Sherlock's than hers, but at least she's not found body parts in the kitchen yet.
Its been months since Sherlock and company showed up at her flat on the heels of Sebastian Moran's assassin (all this time and Molly still can't quite take that in. Someone sent an assassin to her door), and dragged her into his idea of witness protection.
At first, she'd been caught between the Molly of old and the Molly she is now. Mostly by virtue of Sherlock's presence upsetting the applecart entirely.
She's still not entirely sure how successful she's been regaining her footing. With him sitting there in a tatty robe, on the end of her bed, frowning because there's not any tea (and she knows that's why he's here) some part of her still wants to cringe and hide.
Molly sucks in a breath and stamps that down as ruthlessly as she's able. She doesn't see Moriarty and Moran around every corner and she doesn't jump at every shadow. She isn't going to do that ever again. She's had quite enough. Better to let herself get on with the business of missing her friends (Anthea and John most of all) and the life she'd been building for herself.
She misses it all so much that she still wants to throw Sherlock and his bloody crusade out the nearest window and then off the nearest cliff for good measure.
Well, she doesn't want to do that all the time. Just, say, the times when she wakes up to him sitting on the end of her bed like Toby demanding tuna.
She doesn't know what he sees when he looks at her, though often she gets that puzzled frown (as though he still can't quite sort out what to do with her) but she doesn't much care either.
Throwing back the blankets, she gets out of bed. "Out of milk are we? Or is the kettle stubbornly resisting all attempts at boiling?"
The worst possibility is the one she doesn't mention. Sherlock's never-ending war with boredom chief among them.
One might think that dismantling an organization the likes of which Moriarty had built would be the perfect inoculation against boredom, but no such luck.
Sometimes, she thinks the months they've spent dashing from one city to the next is almost as much about Sherlock's boredom as anything.
Finding him on the sofa, pill bottle in hand, proves that. Months without a sign of Moriarty's people, months in which Sebastian Moran has remained stubbornly out of Sherlock's reach, months of Molly watching the boredom and listlessness creep over Sherlock.
She's almost relieved when she realizes what he's done.
"Would be," she mutters, hauling him up as best she can, "If I weren't so bloody furious."
"If you ever do anything like that again," she says, later, when he's sitting on her bed and looking like a half-drowned rat, "and I'll turn you over to Moran myself."
He looks at her, his eyes dull and pained. She doesn't feel even a twinge of sympathy, not when she remembers his body beneath her hands and the shallow breaths he'd been taking.
"Don't," she says, pointing at him. Her hands are still shaking and she shakes her head. "I don't care how bored you are. I don't. We've all sacrificed too bloody much for you to go and take an overdose out of boredom." She's shouting at the last.
"You don't understand," he finally says, morose. "How could you?"
She laughs, shrill and strained even to her. "That's not the question, Sherlock."
His brows draw together and, for a second, his spine straightens ever so much. "And what would that question be?"
She leans forward. "Why would I want to? How can you be so bloody selfish?"
He blinks. It takes her a moment, maybe two, to catch on to the realization she's shocked him.
"Generally," he says, at last, "by opening my eyes and getting out of bed."
The comment is so absurd (but true) that Molly can do nothing but sit down beside him and laugh until she cries.
She picks up smoking somewhere along the line. It's ages before she realizes why and, even then, only because she has one right before she heads back to their latest flat.
She's three seconds through the door and Sherlock's giving her a sharp, envious look that makes her flush with satisfaction.
His answer is to scowl and swirl off in a flurry of dressing gown. She laughs and unpacks dinner. He'll be back in short order, picking through the takeaway boxes anyway.
Its what passes for normality with them lately and, odd enough, she almost likes it.
Especially the part where it reminds her of Toby. She's keeping that one in reserve.
"Moran is in the city."
Molly's fingers clench tight, nearly crushing the test tube between them. "What?"
Sherlock stops before her, reaching out to take the tube from her. "Sebastian Moran is in the city."
"We need to go," she says, numb. Sebastian's been the monster in the shadows for months, the true worry driving Sherlock on. Molly hadn't realized it in the beginning (like everyone else, she'd been too caught by the brilliance of Moriarty's madness to realize that someone with a steadier, deadlier hand had been at work) but now she does.
Molly's stomach twists, lurching with the knowledge that has come with helping Sherlock in his pursuit. People in London, the ones Moriarty had strapped bombs too, were the lucky ones and she prays they never know it) and Sherlock's as animated and alive as she's ever seen him.
"Yes," he says, nodding, "We do. We're not ready yet."
They (Sherlock) have been nipping at his heels for months. They've eroded some of the organization's base, but its not enough.
Molly draws in a breath and tries to push back the panic. Sherlock puts two fingers on the back of her hand, stilling her. "Molly."
She looks at him. "I thought-" she shakes her head. "I'm sorry." Summoning up a smile, she takes back the test tube. "I'll finish this and then we'll go."
A bullet shatters the tube and she looks at him in shock.
"Perhaps running would be best," Sherlock says, instead.
Edinburgh isn't London, Sherlock doesn't have a bolthole round every corner, but he has enough. They lose their pursuers after a dizzying dash through a series of shops and make their way to one.
Saying it isn't much is being kind. It's a room and little more, but its dry and safe for now. Molly collapses onto the nearest soft surface, ignoring the way the cot protests her heavy landing with a loud squeak, and leaves Sherlock to his pacing in favor of sleep.
Except Sherlock sits down beside her, silent as the grave, and she can feel the weight of his eyes on her. Right, so no sleeping for her then.
Its the same look she's been getting for weeks. Months, if she really thinks on it (and she has been). Too exhausted to react, Molly produces the cigarettes she's been tormenting him with and holds them up.
"I've quit," he says, quiet.
She opens her eyes. Were she him, this would be the time she laid out-in detail-dates, times, and locations she's caught him standing just a little too close, inhaling deeply, chasing the faint hint of smoke clinging to her coat.
If she were him, but she isn't. Molly just slides a cigarette out of the pack and lights it.
She takes one slow draw before his fingers brush hers. He takes the cigarette, but leans over and covers her mouth with his own instead. She exhales into the kiss and he makes a noise. Its a question all its own and she can almost feel the way he's sorting her out, trying to plumb the mystery she's become through the give and take of his lips on hers.
Molly curls fingers into his hair (shorter than it was, a different colour with his latest disguise, and she misses the curls) and he responds by running his thumb the length of her jawline.
Her body is humming when he pulls away, giving her the cigarette again.
She stubs it out, staring at him as she does. Sherlock stares right back.
She's a mystery to him now. A puzzle that he can't solve.
Molly bites her lip. "Oh."
Moran knows they're alive now; he won't stop until he has them. Molly wants to quake with the thought of it, but knows better than to show it.
It isn't that Sherlock can't work it out (he does) but she doesn't have the time to be frightened.
"We'll need to get out of the city," Sherlock says, eyes bright with glee. "New territory, new faces, there are some promising leads in Dublin. Perhaps France."
Molly winces at the thought as she flits about their flat, gathering up the research they didn't lose with the offsite lab. She'll need to get word to Mycroft if there's risk of Sherlock reigniting hostilities with the French.
She thinks about that for a moment, then shakes her head. Bad plan. The way the Holmes family approaches things, all of Europe would be embroiled in full out conflict by the end of the week.
It's infuriating at times, the way Sherlock and Mycroft view the world. Molly knows its a bit like getting angry at water for being wet, but still.
"You might not look quite so giddy about it all," she snaps. "This is hardly a game."
"Everything's a game, Molly," Sherlock says, completely unconcerned by her temper. He sweeps to his feet, slapping the laptop closed.
"If you say the last one to die wins, I'll kill you myself," Molly warns.
Sherlock's answer is to catch her up in a dance, swinging her about the room in abandon.
She holds on for dear life, laughing despite herself.
"You could at least be a little less giddy about this," she says, later. Its a new city, a new name, and she can't remember either one at present. Doesn't need to. Sherlock's spread her across the bed, his lips skimming over her thigh.
"Really?" he says. His voice is a thick sort of purr that's as heady as the touch of his hand on her leg. "I thought, generally, the giddier the better."
Molly snorts, flicking the top of his head. "Not what I meant and you know it."
Sherlock hums and continues with his investigation. She should have known sex with him would be like this; him approaching each and every part of her body, examining and testing until he's mapped out every single response.
He already knows that a touch down her spine is the fastest, best way to grab her attention. To seize hold of her focus until he's the only thing she sees and his touch the only thing that matters. Only fair, she supposes, since she already knows that the quickest way to get his is to become a mystery without an answer.
Sherlock works fingers inside her, slow until she's grabbed fistfuls of his hair (and how wonderful that he's grown the curls back, even if they are the most peculiar shade of ginger) to better hold him to her.
Dimly, she hears a muttered, "Excellent" and hopes its a compliment even as he rises up and rolls onto his back with her astride him.
His eyes are intent, watching closely, when she rides him and, not for the first time, Molly catches herself wondering what he sees. Some part of her still wonders, worries, that this will end. That he'll catch Moran, destroy Moriarty's organization, and then it will be back to London where she'll just be Molly again. Not Catherine, or Elizabeth, or Victoria, or any of the other identities Sherlock's dreamt up for her.
Silly, she knows, closing her eyes as his breathing goes funny and she loses the rhythm as she nears another orgasm. Completely mad, really. She'd built a life for herself once in the aftermath of Sherlock and Moriarity's war, she likes to think she could manage it again.
Can manage it again.
Slumping over him, sprawled in a graceless heap that speaks of familiarity and comfort, Molly knows she can manage it again.
She just doesn't want to.
Sherlock's fingertips walk up her spin, making her squirm, and she thinks that, maybe, neither does he.
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