The Pool. Midnight.
The encounter had played out in his mind countless times. He predicted hundreds of outcomes, but nothing quite as startling as his reality.
The terror in John's eyes is plain. Yet it's deeper than that. Sherlock knows he isn't "good" with "emotions", but the petrified horror in his flatmate's eyes speak of a danger beyond guns and explosions.
It has to be. Something about the man on the other end of the line has John Watson, a soldier for crying out loud, scared out of his wits. Their eyes meet just before John speaks again. A warning? He desperately wants to convey something- some message to Sherlock- but it's too late.
"Nice touch, this: the pool where little Carl died. I stopped him. I can stop John Watson too. Stop his heart."
Who was this man, that he could strike fear into the hearts of the fearless? Sherlock was beyond curious now. He needed to know. He must see the face of his nemesis.
"Who are you?"
A door clicks at the other end of the pool. Sherlock gasps, then holds his breath. Footsteps. No, there was something not right-
"He gave you his number..."
The soft voice reverberates off the walls of the darkened pool. Sherlock knew the voice. He knew the voice, so familiar yet so foreign, and it sent shivers down his spine.
"With all you've put me through, I'm surprised you didn't call."
High heels. The clicking footsteps started up again. She stepped out from behind the column, Sherlock's blood ran cold.
"That must be a British Army Browning L9A1 in your pocket," Molly Hooper began, "because you're never pleased to see me."
Sherlock's jaw drops. The gears of his mind shudder and just come to a stop. There's nothing beyond shock. He can't even begin to process...
"Molly Hooper, remember? Hi!"
Sherlock is still completely dumbfounded. This... person was so unlike the Molly Hooper he knew- in every way, shape, and fashion. Gone was the labcoat that smelled faintly of death. Gone, too, were the silly pink outfits, childish smiles, furtive glances. This Molly wore a power suit, skirt pressed, tie straightened, and every bit as spotless as one of Mycroft's best. This Molly had power, and she knew it. She wore it with pride, flaunting the blood-hued lipstick, perfect hair, dazzling eyes. So unlike the Molly he knew.
"Molly? Dear little Molly from the hospital? The lovesick puppy that follows you around, getting samples, signing permits? Am I really so hard to remember?"
The airy lightness in her voice snapped Sherlock's attention away for a moment. It was what John had been trying to tell him. His flatmate was standing stock-still, eyes wide, with the little red dot bouncing around his chest.
Molly Hooper saw the diverted gaze.
"Don't be silly. Someone else is holding the rifle. I've just had my nails done for the occasion. Wouldn't want to get my hands dirty."
Her nails did look fabulous, he had to admit. But the sniper meant that this wasn't a game. This wasn't an elaborate prank put on by Lestrade and the gang. This was real. This Molly was real.
"I tried to give you a glimpse, Sherlock, just a teensy glimpse of what I've got going on out there in the big bad world. Before I met you, even. I've been a specialist, for some time you see... like you!"
Sherlock couldn't help his words from stumbling as he put the pieces together.
"D-dear... Molly. Please will you fix it for me to get rid of my lover's nasty sister...?"
Molly only smirked.
"Dear Molly. Please will you fix it for me to disappear to South America?"
"Just so, Sherlock."
"You're the consulting criminal?" It was hard to keep the shock at bay.
Molly's smile fell slightly, then lit up again, brighter than before. "Brilliant, isn't it? No one ever gets to me- and no one ever will."
He's composed himself more thoroughly. The idea that sweet little Molly Hooper was actually a mass-murderer was beginning to sink in. "I did!"
"You've come the closest. You were the most fun. Now you're just in my way."
"You of all people should know I didn't mean it as a compliment."
The words stung slightly, but he didn't know why. Best to just press on and try to find some advantage.
"No... You didn't."
"Bravo, Sherlock. The flirting's over- oh the flirting was just another clever perk to the game... But Mama's had enough now."
The heels click. She's moving closer- awfully close to John- and still smiling, bright as a sunbeam.
"I've shown you what I can do. I cut loose all those people, all those little problems just to get you to come out and play. So take this as a friendly warning, darling. Back off."
Her smile broadened. It was genuine, more like that of the other Molly, but with an edge.
"I have so loved this- this little game of ours. Playing smitten Molly from the morgue. Did you enjoy it? The delusion that you had the upper hand?"
"People have died."
"Silly Sherlock, I worked in the morgue. That's what people DO!"
John started violently at the sudden change. Even Sherlock felt his nerves tingle and dance. As much as he had relished facing up against this 'Moriarty', he was at a loss for what to do next. His mind was racing. John bomb John Molly Moriarty Molly?Pips Pool John Midnight Plan! Plan plan- Plans! The plans!
He reached into his pocket quickly and withdrew the memory stick. Willing his hand not to shake, he offered the files to Molly.
"I was wondering when you'd stumble around to that."
She clicked past John and stopped a few feet away from Sherlock.
"The missile plans."
Her dainty hand with matching blood-red nails reached out and plucked the drive from Sherlock's fingers.
"I could have got them anywhere."
Sherlock's heart is dropping in his chest when John suddenly breaks from his prison of terror and grabs Molly from behind.
" Sherlock, RUN!"
To John's utter amazement, Molly starts to giggle. The giggling increases, until she's just about howling with laughter, her amusement echoing off the dark walls.
"Isn't he sweet? I can see why you like having him around. A little something special about the doctor, that I-don't-know, life that your little Molly didn't seem to have. I see. I see."
She turned her attention to the surprised man with the arms around her neck.
"I love a good cuddle as much as the next girl, but you might want to reconsider your choice in dates."
She flicked her head in Sherlock's direction.
"You've rather shown your hand there, Doctor Watson."
John visibly sags at whatever Molly has indicated. Another sniper. Targeting me. Must be. John loosens his grip and backs off altogether.
Molly dusts herself off casually, her face a picture of annoyance.
"Westwood! Now, Sherlock, let me tell you what happens if you don't leave me alone."
"Let me guess, I get kil-"
"You will not interrupt me!" Her voice is soft, but the tone is two steps from furious. "Nothing so obvious, Sherlock, really." She sighs with an air of disgust. "Well, yeah, I'm gonna kill you someday. I don't wanna rush it though, oh no. I'm saving it up for something special."
She took another step towards Sherlock- mouth smiling, eyes dangerous.
"If you don't stop prying, I'll burn you. I'll burn the heart out of you."
Sherlock opens his mouth to retort, but is stopped by an admonishing snap from Molly.
"And don't you try and tell me you don't have one. No, you're sneaky, manipulative- qualities I so love in a man- and you say you don't have a heart, but we both know that's not quite true."
He drops his gaze. Caught out by the criminal he'd never suspected, and she was right.
"Well. I'm leaving. Appointments with Death, and such. Don't even think about trying to stop me. Not with your heart on the line."
Still slightly dumbfounded, Sherlock watches as Molly walks away. He had to think of something. For the whole round, he'd been outmaneuvered at every play. He had one last chance... Maybe get one good dig in.
"Catch.. .you.. later."
There was silence, and then that horrifying laughter again.
"No you won't."