"he kindly stopped for me"

Genre: Drama, Horror-ish-ness, Demented-relationship-ish thingy
Rating: T
Time Frame: before "The Great Game" and beeeeyond
Characters: Molly Hooper, Jim Moriarty

Summary: She has been dealing with dead bodies for so long that she shouldn't really have been surprised when one sat up, and started to speak to her. Not really, anyway.

Notes: Because my muse had to go the creepy and dark and really-them-but-why? route. Again.

So, when Molly said 'office romance' when introducing Jim in TGG, my very 'logical' brain went OMG, Zombie!Moriarty was one of her corpses! And then my muse proceeded to rationalize, and dwell . . . and dwell . . . and dwell some more. And then she wrote. And I was doomed.

And now, I am very much obsessed with the idea of an evil!Molly/Moriarty duo – minus their powers of alliteration, they could give off a strange Joker/Harley vibe that makes my heart go all aflutter. Stuttering awkwardly crushing Molly was fun for a scene or two - but, Molly discovering her dark side can be all sorts of interesting . . .

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. (The title is an Emily Dickenson nick, and the inspiration for this fic is all e.. Which is quite an interesting thought all by its onesies . . .)


.

"he kindly stopped for me"

"dead has a smile like the nicest man you've never met who maybe winks at you in a streetcar and you pretend that you don't but really you do see and you are My how glad he winked and hope he'll do it again."

~e.e. cummings

.

For Molly Hooper, working with the dead has become a routine of sorts.

She liked working in the morgue in the early hours of the morning, when there were none of the living around to disturb with her silent appraisal of the dead. It was a chilly morning in old London, with the fog thick and cool, and the steep roofs huddled together against the rain that fell in desperate pitter patters against them. The rain made something beautiful sounding as it pounded out its useless claim above before slipping below to be rendered nameless by the black of the river and the labyrinth of streets below.

She hummed in time to the storm outside, her pen tap tapping against her clipboard as she looked at the body before her. Nobody in the room with her was of breath to sit up and say that her tapping was annoying, or that her rhythm was off. (She never did have a sense for beats and what not, but no one knew that here and now.) She thinks that is why she likes her job so much - not one of her silent companions would sit up and say that her popping her gum was annoying, or reply to her ridiculous 'knock, knock' jokes with a raised brow and a tongue in cheek aren't-you-too-old-for-those?

She lets her fingers tap against her clipboard next; a counterpoint. Her eyes skated over names and technicalities before glancing down at the corpse whom she had just rolled out to look over.

It is almost fascinating how simply normal the dead look by the time they have reached her. They had been washed and scrubbed, and the blood that told the stories of their last moments was gone, leaving bruises that were more olive and purple than angry and red in their wake.

The man before her was as white as the sheet that covered him, and silent as the early morning around them. He was young, probably near thirty and just over, dark haired and the sort of pale that suggested that he was so even before the pallor of death had overtaken him. She gently lifted a bruised looking lid to see his eyes, - they were an Irish cream shade of brown, something she'd like to put on her spoon and sip gently in front of a fire. There was a sort of chill in their depths that suggested that they would be cold even with the spark of life returned to them.

They were very nice eyes, she thought absently.

(Earlier, Sherlock had specifically asked her if she had any pleasing ocular specimens, but she tossed the request away to the back of her mind. She could be selfish if she wished, and greedy too – she liked these eyes, and she had no need to have Sherlock sully something she found favor in once more. Besides, she didn't feel like sharing.)

She continued to write her observations – the man had a high, sloping forehead ('you were a brainy one, weren't you?', she whispers at the corpse, all right as rain) and tight lips that she imagined were more suited to smirking than smiling. He wasn't very tall – only a few inches higher than her; and his body wasn't overweight so much as not-toned. He was soft, and she kinda liked that – and yet, once again, she kept her notes clinical as she recorded them, making a memory for the records only.

There was no name to the victim. The thought struck a pang of sympathy through her, but all to often that was the case with the bodies that passed her way.

There were no exterior form of wounds that would give away the cause of death, and she tucked away a stray thought (how such pale skin must have looked bruised) as easily as she tucked her hair behind her ear. (She kept it up in a ponytail now, no nonsense and out of her way, seeing as how she was not expecting Company today. Her lips were clean too – she never did care for the tacky sweet taste of lip-gloss, and how it made her mouth clammy, besides.)

"Ah, you're going to be tricky that way," she mused aloud to the body. "That's fine, I do like a good mystery."

No exterior wounds. And yet she wasn't so sure of natural causes. Overdose? Poison of some kind? She furrowed her brow as she got out the tools she needed to run her tests. She let a hand caress the scalpel that awaited her – part of the kit her parents had gotten her when she graduated with honors. She always was very good at her job . . .

"Knock, knock," she said lightly as she prepared her syringe.

"Who's there?" she returned, her voice slightly deeper to mime a sound for the silent corpse.

"Cass," she said merrily.

"Cass who?"

"Cass of death, please!" she returned, and laughed at her own joke.

(Earlier, that had been the same joke that Sherlock had sneered at, and Watson had given her a fond sort of smile for – but, it had been the sort of smile one gave puppies for their antics, or children for their innocence. She was neither, and she bristled as Sherlock asked to see the body of Annie Walker. She had lied, and said that Annie Walker had already been moved on, and that was that. So . . . there.)

The corpse looked as if it had smiled, just slightly, a crinkling at the corner of its mouth betraying itself. Shaking her head against her thoughts, Molly simply thought that she needed to spend less time amongst the dead and more amongst the living- she was starting to see things. And yet, all of the stories a corpse could tell were so interesting at times. As if she were the only one who could translate their tales for the whole to hear . . .

She inserted the syringe with practiced ease, taking enough blood to run her tests in the labs. The skin about the needle still twitched, as if in memory, and she soothed her hand over the corpses' arm. "There, there, this will only hurt for a bit," she soothed.

She capped her prize, and blotted away the blood that lazily oozed from the arm now. For the life of her, she thought she saw the muscles jump.

She raised a brow.

"Now, don't you go waking up on me," she warned the body. "Because that would make things just a little bit awkward between the two of us."

She looked at the corpse closely, swearing that it was only her imagination when it looked like a pulse jumped in his neck. Obviously, she was merely concentrating for too long . . . Gently, she pressed two fingers against the man's neck, and was satisfied when she felt nothing. Of course, there was no breath or flow of blood. It couldn't hurt to double check, of course.

She prepared her next syringe.

"Knock - knock," she said carefully, her eyes narrowed.

. . . Nothing. As there should have been.

"Who's there?"

She soothed her hand over the arm again; felt goosebumps in her wake . . .

"Jacklyn," she continued her riddle, gaze locked on the closed lids of the body before her.

She held her breath, needle poised to break skin.

The dead eyes snapped open.

"Jacklyn who?" the corpse asked.

Molly screamed.

(Earlier, one bad storm ago, the power in the hospital had flickered. And before the back-up generators had kicked in she had pressed herself to Sherlock for a moment, keen on sharing the heat of his space before being firmly pressed away. When he had commented about the difference between her scream, and a real one she could have uttered, she fought the urge to carve how incredibly thick, thick, thick he was into his skin with her scalpel until he finally understood that.)

This was different – and she thinks that he would have been proud of this scream – there was nothing forced about it. Not one bit of it.

The man on the table (corpse no longer, unless too many of those vampire novels she had read were true and truly coming to life now. She just prayed he wasn't a zombie. Vampires could be kinda hot when they wanted to . . .although she always had been a Bram Stoker kind of a girl over a Stephanie Meyers kind of a lackey, and oh sweet Lord, but why wouldn't her mind stop rambling?) held his hands pointedly over his ears, and patiently waited for her to quiet.

Which she did so, about ten or so seconds later, she abandoned the screaming to dart over to her tools and brandish her scalpel in what she considered to be a threatening manner.

"There's no need for such theatrics, you know. Needles hurt," the man said conversationally, rubbing mulishly at the prick point on his arm. "And I really wasn't keen for you to do so again."

"You weren't . . . keen?" she repeated, dumbfounded.

"Not one bit," he assured her, completely ignoring the fact that he had just scared the living daylights out of her, and the rather wobbly weapon aimed at him, both.

"Who the hell are you?" she finally forced the harsh words out from her mouth.

"Jim," he offered the name like a question, as if he wasn't sure himself.

Jim . . . because it didn't seem like a revived corpse sort of name to her. It was too normal – too, meet you on the streetcar, on the walkway, may I borrow a cup of sugar, and smile in thanks at you kind of a name.

"Jim?" she repeated, dubiously.

"James actually," he conceded. "But not as in Bond or Kirk or Joyce or Wood or Hewlett. I like Jim better. Just not Jimmy."

Of course not. She blinked at him.

"Okay . . . Jim. What are you doing in my morgue? . . . Alive, that is."

"Oh, you haven't had many Lazarus cases, have you?"

"No! Bodies start dead, and then they stay that way."

"How frightfully dull," Jim said, nose scrunched in distaste, his eyes crossing over the metallic walls and the vanilla blinds. "Dull, dull, dull . . ."

She held her scalpel a little higher. "Dull as it may be," and she tried to snap the words like a whip rather than let her tongue tremble on them. "How, did you get here?"

"Oh, the normal way, I'd reckon."

She took a breath through her nose, suddenly more frustrated than fearful. "Oh?"

"I suppose I was mostly dead when I came in here. You see, I had this serum that I was trying out - concocted by a rather brilliant doctor from Haiti who was working on a beta blocker composed from the toxin found in a puffer fish. It slows down the heartbeat and pulse into a state that mimics death. As soon as it passes from the body – about forty-eight hours later, there you have it: let there be life."

"Oh . . . right," she was pressed back against the counter now, her scalpel held before her menacingly.

(Later, on their third date, or forth, he gives her a stuffed puffer-fish for her collection. She puts Flare, as she named him, next to the stuffed teddy bear that she had even taken to college, and the soft spines poke against her skin at night when she sleeps.)

He eyed her paltry weapon, eyes darkening like espresso. There was something almost fond about the glance, slinking over the sharp metal the way one would eye a dearly beloved one. Her hand trembled, slightly, and at that he smirked.

"Do you know how to use that?" he asked brightly.

"Yes," her voice shook on the one word. "I can cut up a corpse better than any other in my class – I'd wager I could do so on a living one who's gone mental, as well."

"Ah," he said. "You are a great testament to your craft then – I adore anyone who does their job well, especially when they work so very closely with death."

"Oh," she gave at that, not sure what else to say. Her traitorous cheeks were flushing pink at the compliment. "Well . . . thank-you."

(Later, there would be missing scalpels – her scalpels, and her next victim would have had its throat slit by an object remarkably like her missing own. Over the victim's chest, bruises made a pattern that bloomed like flowers. They were intricately inflicted, striking her as lovely in the way that all abstract art seemed to be, even as she tried to quell the flicker inside of her that told her that this was for her and by her, even if it wasn't her own hand who wielded the weapon. In the plain white box with the bold faced font, she scribbled 'suicide' as the cause of death with a fairly illegible scrawl.)

"So," she tried again. "That explains how . . . but I want to know why."

"Boredom?" he shrugged the answer.

"Bollocks," she snapped in return.

He raised a brow.

(Later, he would come into her flat with red staining his suit, and he would insist that it was not his own. He would be smiling, looking as the red washed with the water to make a pale copper stain down the drain. She would mumble as she'd point out how he hated to get dirty, and he would shrug and say how some things could not be avoided. When she stuttered out the only thing she could think to say – 'you don't work for IT' – he would flash her a line like quicksilver about being a secret government agent. Moriarty, Jim Moriarty, he quipped, quick as a wink and all James Bond like. And then he would laugh as the blood ran down the drain, laugh like he did at her knock-knock jokes. And her fingers would clench the doorknob until her knuckles were white and she could feel her blood thump thump thumping so very madly through her veins.)

"Now, really – why?"

"Would you believe that I have a set of circumstances in the foreseeable future that would need me to use such a drug under more serious conditions?"

Normally? No.

Now . . . "I don't know."

"Ah, honesty. How refreshing," he clapped his hands mockingly.

She glared her best glare - which, as Sherlock had informed her, was not very intimidating.

"And ferocity as well – ah, meek and fumbling little Molly Hooper, split personalities work well on you. I like it." He clucked his tongue approvingly.

"How do you know my name?"

"Oh, Molly – I know everyone's name here."

"Do you?" she said, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How?"

"I work here," he waved his hand. "Floor eight - IT."

Her grip on the scalpel twitched.

(Later, he would ask her if that bothers her. Him being . . . special, advising and aiding and plotting to hold of the boredom that threatened to overtake his mind. His gaze would remind her of Sherlock's then, and she felt almost safe in the comparison as she bent down to pick up his bloody shirt to wash. Not too much starch, he calls out after her, and laughs a giddy sort of laugh that echoes down in the deep and quick of her.)

"I hate to sound like an inconvenience – but is my clothing anywhere nearby, by any chance?"

She flushed a few dozen shades of scarlet – the true curse of her Irish skin, and took off her lab coat.

He went to get up, and paused, a smirk decorating his mouth like a knife wound as he twirled his finger in a circular motion at her. She debated whether or not she should say that it wasn't anything she hadn't seen before, and instead turned modestly around. She had a chill up and down her spine that wondered if he was going to find something sharp and pointy to throw at her turned back, and the chill felt like a caress.

"I'm not planning anything diabolical," he said simply to the air. "You are safe, you know – I hate getting dirty, and so if diabolical things need planning – as they often do – the particulars of the execution do not lie with me."

He had had immaculate fingernails, she remembered.

"And you are interesting, at the moment. I like interesting things – I plan interesting things too. Quite a few of them. A few you may like, too, if what I have heard and what I have seen prove to be one in the same."

She was going to go home and eat more than one carton if ice-cream and tell this story to the stuffed animals who would never believe her, she swore as she looked at the slate gray ceiling above. The same ceiling that pressed her into the scuffed gray floor beneath her every day. Boring and dull, with the corpses who could never speak in return . . .

Her tense posture relaxed, instead giving way to a tingling sort of awareness as she felt his stare between her shoulder blades.

The next time she turned, he was only a foot away from her, and she gave a little eep of fright at the change in proximity.

(Later, she would march her boyfriend – a mistake in term it there ever was one, for she isn't sure what to call him – in front of Sherlock as he puzzled over his latest case. She could have hit Jim – coming, looking like that, and not like the sleek suit and the Cheshire cat grin and the dangerous sort of something that she was sure would make Holmes see what he had missed out on.

And then things would go so very wrong, and it would seem as if she wasn't the only one with a fascination for Sherlock Holmes . . . A joke, Jim would whisper in her ear later as his explanation and defense, lips so very close and so very warm so that she could hardly doubt, not while his hands traced out old lines on her skin with the promise of ones anew . . . It was a silly fascination to parade in front of a silly and infuriating crush, but there were small moments when touching his crisper chill skin reminded her of the peace and silence of bodies absent their breath and the calmness of being the only heartbeat in the room . . . Her thoughts scare her, at times. Times when they weren't merely her own, reflected as they were, times two . . .)

"Do I scare you?" he whispered, eyes oddly intense, and his pulse leaping and alive in his neck. This close she fought the urge to trace it, looking straight ahead as she was, refusing to meet his eyes.

He tilted her head up. Warmth was already returning to his fingers, and she remembered how soft his hands had been even when cold. "Do I?"

"No," she lied, and this time it was he was was entranced by the gulp to her throat as she tried to fight the unease rushing through her in waves.

(Later there would be explosions and things torn asunder, and her fascination meeting her obsession and twisting into two sides of the same coin together to form something like bile in her throat when she hears . . . The soot and the bloodstains from the shrapnel on Sherlock's form put her heart in her throat with worry – after all, she had seen the wires that Moriarty had been playing with for the last week. When the same marks on Jim actually drew a scared sob from her throat – as to the wet state he was in, he only muttered darkly about pools and unplanned swims, a black look in his eyes that spoke of a child like tantrum starting to come - she would hide him in the morgue freezer for hours while Sherlock and Lestrade tore London apart for the madman with the taste for gunpowder and fuses. Such short fuses . . .)

"Am I not trying hard enough?"

"No," she answered again. Her scalpel was warm in her hands, clammy even though her arm had relaxed, dropping to her side again.

His hand traced down her arm, following its path until his grasp was over her own, the metal warm between them. "Molly," he whispered. "Knock-knock?"

She darted a glance up at him, confused.

"Who's there?" she humored him, despite herself.

"Jacklyn," he parroted her riddle from earlier.

"Jacklyn who?" she narrowed her eyes at him.

"Jacklyn Hyde," he finished her joke, much as Sherlock had done the day before. Only, she felt no frustration at his stealing her silly little line, and he gave no censure at her childishness. Instead his eyes were . . . amused. As if he found the same black humor that she did in uttering the jokes to corpses.

She couldn't find her throat enough to laugh, but the mettle and iron in her eyes faded slightly as she let herself smile.

Gently, he took the scalpel from her.

(Later still, when Moriarty was nowhere to be found, Sherlock Holmes would fumble and scathe, and yet his lips would turn in a twitch of respect as he was faltered by the one man who knew his mind as well as he did. And Molly, for once, would see him, and have the slightest inkling of what was going on behind his dark like space eyes. They are eyes that she knows as well as her own now.)

But, that was later.

For now, the dead asks her out for coffee. (And her mind marveled over being asked to coffee, rather than being told to fetch coffee). She bites her lip hesitantly, tucking a stray tendril of hair behind her ear and watching how his eyes watched the gesture in an almost greedy way, the same way he had eyed her makeshift weapon.

She says yes to him like she would ask a question.

He holds the door open for her, bowing mockingly like any good English gentleman, and beckons her forward.

~MJ