Title: "glass shatters softly"
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Characters: Molly/Moriarty, Sherlock
Prompt: #58, Dinner
Spoilers: All the way through TGG, and then canon is asked to scoot.
Word Count: 4,188 words
Summary: "Your hair is weighed down with product, and you have slathered an unseemly amount of cosmetics on your face. You're wearing an evening gown more risque than I could previously imagine you even glancing at. By my deductions, Miss Hooper, you are most certainly here on a date."
Notes: Written for the Sherlock100 challenge. This one is set alongside my other Molliarty stories ("he kindly stopped for me", and "Victor, Meet Spoils"), but is of a lighter vein. There's Sherlock deducing, and Molly in an evening dress, and there's bickering and snobby French waiters who just may or may not be butterknife wielding serial killers. Need I say more?
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
She dresses for that evening with more than the usual care for her appearance.
Earlier that day, she had had a text from Jim inviting her to dine with him at La Chapelle that evening, an exclusive French restaurant that seemed to be the kind right out of the movies - where a plate of fromage was worth more than she spent on a day's worth of food. As this was their third time eating there in a mere two weeks (apparently, Jim had provided the owner a service, and had a permanent table as a result), she was determined to make less a fool of herself than she had the first two times.
The funny thing about her new found taste for expensive food was that her diet was normally complete and utter rubbish. Before Jim, she had the habit of skipping breakfast entirely - minus coffee and lots of it. And then lunch was whatever the hospital cafeteria offered her – which was normally a few different sorts of vile, and then some. One didn't develop many friendships alone in the morgue, and minus Sherlock, her chances of meeting a guy were slim and vague as well – and as a result, she rarely had company for dinner. So, when left to her own devices at night, Chinese food from the small place in the building next, and ice-cream was her want.
Now, she finds breakfast out and waiting for her at her workstation when she arrives in the morning, and she often met him out for lunch. For dinner Jim had a habit of high-end dining, all in corners and private rooms where the well to do and the less shady of London's populace met him with respectful nods and shifty eyes. More than once she had dressed up and stood by his side – something lovely and not precisely dangerous to eyes that saw her without really seeing. He had told her that it was easier to pull the strings of men when they were distracted by a beautiful woman.
He had called her beautiful, however indirectly.
So now she endeavors to play the part. She twines her hair up in an elaborate style with long, elegant bronze pins; leaving the slender expanse of her throat bare to see. She does her make-up successfully now (to her utter horror, Jim had picked out her lipstick for her, but now she is more thankful than distraught that his knowledge surpassed her own.), shading her eyes dark and mysterious and painting her lips an almost natural shade that turned the color of autumn when the light hit her right.
Her dress was a blue so deep that it could pass for black, and worth more money than she's ever spent on a piece of clothing before. It was backless and strapless, and it clung and curved in all of the right places; the full bustle of its skirt making her walk look smooth and graceful. She wore an elegant pair of plain black boots underneath, almost Victorian in look, and it was not a fashion statement so much as it was simply comfortable. It wasn't as if anyone was going to see her feet, anyway.
When she looked in the mirror, Molly could almost fool herself into thinking that she was something elegant and classy – right up to the point when she tripped on Toby's tail when she turned too quickly from her reflection. It was only by some stroke of luck that she narrowly avoided taking a rather unflattering spill. As it was, the poor cat hissed out his displeasure at her, and when she picked him up to sooth him - "I'm so sorry! Mummy is such a klutz sometimes" being chanted the whole time - she got cat hair on her dress.
The five minutes she spent fixing herself up ended up making her five minutes late, but that didn't matter too terribly when she arrived to see Jim already on the phone. He stood to continue his call away from her – something important from the way his brows knit and his mouth smirked (his 'mastermind face' as she had come to call it). When he completely excused himself, she didn't mind too terribly. The menu of the restaurant was completely in French – which she had not spoken in years, and only knew at a remedial level, anyway. And so she used the time to remember her accents and her pronunciations so that she didn't make a fool of herself in front of Renaud, their waiter.
On second thought . . . Maybe she would just let Jim order for her . . . His French was near flawless, and Renaud the snobby waiter dotted on him.
While waiting, she tapped a bored finger against her third fork, enjoying the sound the fine silver made against her polished nail. The movement caught on the hushed light from the chandelier above, making patterns that reflected in her wine glass. Around her, the restaurant was all old world grace and new world elegance; the combination of the glass balcony over the cream and earthen toned first floor was a striking contrast against the backdrop of the stories tall windows, and the heavy and dark draperies that adorned them. She liked to think that she blended well with the shadows thrown by the moonlight, and the haunted tones of the candles on the tables.
The dish of her soup spoon was very polished, and caught the light better than her fork. She moved it back and forth like a child, amused with the patterns of light she could create upon the table cloth.
Until she heard:
She froze at the sound of the voice addressing her.
She knew that voice.
And it was not a voice that she wanted to hear.
Her hand on her spoon slipped in her surprise, and much to her mortification she catapulted the poor and defenseless piece of silverware onto the floor – right before kicking it under the table when she turned too sharply to see the pair of men who had caught sight of her.
Oh, bloody hell . . .
She rolled her eyes at herself, and while she muttered under her breath, she tried to glance elegantly down at the floor to see if she could retrieve the spoon. This was not the dress to go searching on the floor for silverware with. Minus her proclivity for tearing and smearing, this dress was all to open to give a show if she didn't stay carefully upright. It did wonders for her posture, this self awareness – and, dear god, why did her mind always ramble when she was in situations like these?
"Molly Hooper, it is you," the voice said again. And this time it was closer. Like at her table close.
"Sherlock Holmes," she exclaimed in a falsely bright voice. "And Doctor Watson . . . Fancy seeing you here."
"Indeed," the Detective said, casting a critical glance over her – like she was an ant underneath his magnify glass. At his side, John was smiling politely past the strained look in his eyes – obviously, he knew when it was proper to greet old acquaintances, and when it was better to move on. "It is quite a surprise."
"Quite," she agreed as she took a sip of her wine, a very long sip. "A surprising surprise."
Because, what else did one say when one met one's significant other's (because she refused to call Jim her boyfriend on the grounds of the term just-didn't-fit.) arch enemy whilst on a date with said significant other? Especially when the significant other was the world's only consulting criminal, and the said arch enemy was the world's only consulting detective?
Speaking of said significant other . . . she let her eyes flicker around the dining room, looking for a sight of Jim, who seemed to have vanished. She took a relieved breath, knowing that Moriarty was all-knowing enough to make sure he stayed that way . . .
She turned her attention back to Sherlock, determine to get rid of him and continue her evening. "So, what brings you here? I didn't realize La Chapelle's Crab Lasagne was that famous." She tried to laugh lightly; it came out strained.
"A waiter here is my prime suspect in a triple homicide," Sherlock said in explanation, and then waved that away like it was nothing.
For a moment she hoped that Sherlock's target was Renaud. He certainly seemed like the sort of fellow who would stab his patrons with butter-knives for butchering his mother tongue.
Speaking of . . . she waved at Renaud, and then at her empty wine glass, sure that the gesture was universal pass the language barrier.
"Oh . . . well, good luck catching him," she said breezily.
"Luck is rarely necessary," Sherlock returned, and she really, really wished that he would stop looking at her like that – like she was one of his experiments that he couldn't quite figure out.
"What's luck in the face of silence?" she agreed as Renaud came and went, his eyes slanting over the gentleman who were rudely standing in such a high-end setting. She was hoping his stare of doom would work – but Sherlock was less than impressed.
"Something like that," Sherlock muttered. "And yet, while I have satisfied your curiosity, you have not yet satisfied mine – tell me, who is your date tonight?"
She let her mouth drop open slightly. "I'm not here on a date," and she laughed the word out incredulously.
Sherlock raised a brow. "Truly?"
She let her eyes narrow. "Maybe I just like overpriced French food."
"Perhaps," Sherlock gave her condescendingly. "And yet, you have not the income or the taste to appreciate dining here – I sincerely doubt that."
"Now see here -" she gave, stung.
" - unless your normal diet of cafeteria food and M&Ms is merely a work time standard?"
She glared at him. "None of that means I am here on a date."
Sherlock gave her a look that clearly said she was daft – and she really, really wished that the waiter that had brought him here would snag his attention again so that it would leave her free.
He paused for a second, considering.
She dared him to say what he was thinking with her eyes.
John rolled his eyes heavenward, as if knowing exactly what tangent his friend was going to go on. "And here he goes."
Sherlock wasn't one to disappoint. "Your hair is weighed down with product – and not the kind you normally indulge in, which are the generic versions across the line, and all budget friendly. From the smell alone, I'd guess Pureology's shampoo and conditioner for color treated and damaged hair; and the toxic net that is holding your style together is most certainly Frederic Fekkai Sheer Hold Hairspray – which is most certainly not priced for the casual outing.
"On top of that, you have slathered an unseemly amount of cosmetics on your face – your eyes are shaded three times darker than you'd wear during the work week, and your eyelids are just slightly swollen - enough to suggest that you tried wearing false lashes before deciding not too. A wise choice, if I may add. Obviously, whomever you are seeing helped you appreciate the proper shade of lipstick to make your face more flattering.
" And then, you're wearing an evening gown more risque than I could previously imagine you even glancing at. And the cut and shade of the design makes that the latest Stella McCartney – a designer who is ten times your normal budget for clothes, especially when judged by your normal proclivity for floral blouses and scuffed shoes. By my deductions, Miss Hooper, the time and money – his money, most likely - that you put into this evening most certainly suggests that you are here on a date.."
She blinked at him, no longer in wonder – because that had certainly stopped a long time ago, and Jim too made it a game to dissect her every move – but in amazement at his sheer audacity. "Do you actually go around sniffing ladies grooming supplies?" was all she could incredulously say.
Sherlock made a face. "Only when necessary."
John tried subtly tugging on Sherlock's coat, his cheeks flushing pink at his friend's rudeness. "And Sherlock, that is precisely why we should leave her be? Isn't it?" he tried.
Sherlock glanced at John. "You are not the slightest bit curious?"
"No," John said frankly. "It is none of my business – and it's not yours either."
"Everything is my business," Sherlock said, completely baffled as to why John was cross with him. Molly almost wanted to laugh at the confusion on his face.
Instead, she heaved a long suffering sigh, and said: "Look Sherlock – all of that is true, but it doesn't mean anything. I am here for myself – and no one else. So, now go play detective somewhere else and leave me be."
"One does not dine alone at La Chapelle," Sherlock countered. "And your familiarity with the staff suggests that you have dinned here before, and in other such places – which would explain your weight gain."
"I filled out – there's a difference," she returned, her voice miffed. And she had. There was an added curve to her form now, once which she was very proud of.
He raised a brow. "Hardly."
John held his head in exasperation. "Sherlock," he tried to put his friend off the hunt. "She looks lovely tonight, and she looks happy – lets just let her alone."
"Just a moment, John," Sherlock said, his voice pleased. "I am on a roll, and the identity of her date is only one I must put my mind to to figure out. Now, Miss Hooper, there is no way you could have met him outside of your job – you shifts are erratic, clearly you take extra to quell your boredom, and you will work late when there is a case that fascinates you. You don't go out on the weekends because you visit your parents in Manchester, and something tells me that you don't go out of your way to encounter the opposite sex while there."
She glared. "Maybe I did meet a man in Manchester," she hissed out. For the moment, she let herself completely forget that she was not here on a date and was more insulted at the fact that Sherlock was completely fascinated over who could possibly see something in her.
Sherlock smirked at her slip. "I doubt it. It would be more likely to conclude that you met him are work – especially given your previous track record."
"My record?" she dared him to go on and say what she thinks he is going to say, an ice entering her gaze that empowers the rest of her.
"Your record – Miss Hooper," he said it slowly, as if speaking to a daft child. "First, your short lived relationship with Jim from IT," and here he sneered at the alias for the ridiculousness of it, "and then your fixation on me."
Him acknowledging her feelings out loud did not happen in quite the same way she would have daydreamed it a few months ago. Instead of feeling giddy, she suddenly felt furious.
She could hit him. She really could. A part of her even wanted to take a page out of Renaud-the-maybe-killer's book and stab Sherlock with her butter-knife. Or maybe her spoon. It would hurt more, and she knew she could break skin with the right angle and pressure . . .
Instead, she calmly said with a sarcastic undertone to her voice,"You're right, Sherlock – it was a downright office romance. You could even say that he sat right up on one of my tables and asked me to sup," Molly ended the half-truth with a sneer – Sherlock did not corner the market on that facial expression.
Sherlock snorted. "So, you are not going to tell me who he is?"
John tried tugging on his friend's arm. "We should really just let her alone," he tried again.
Sherlock ignored the doctor, and instead sat down, placing his feet up on the table – and she would have enjoyed the look on Renaud-the-waiter's face if this were any other time . . .
"Sherlock, you're causing a bloody scene," she snapped.
"Am I?" he raised a brow. "I was just keeping your beau's seat warm. I am mighty curious to meet him, and seeing as how he has to return sometime . . ."
But she didn't say that out loud.
"You're just frustrated that you can't figure it out," she snapped to the Detective's behavior, without even really stopping to consider her words.
His eyes flashed. "Haven't figured it out yet."
He sulked then – he actually sulked.
And something clicked in her mind.
She let herself smirk over the role reversal as she reflected on it – on the twist of him feeling small and confused and the slightest bit frustrated. That frustration would be the only thing to snag his curiosity in the first place . . . It was enlightening, understanding just the barest edges of the Detective's psyche, but there it was.
And maybe, just maybe, he was curious by the changes he saw in her. The Molly of even four months ago would hardly of dared to hold a conversation so openly and crossly with him if her life depended on it.
And that intrigued him. And the answers out of his reach frustrated him.
"Sherlock, please do go now, you are boring me," she said softly, a silky tone to her voice as she boldly to caught his eye.
He blinked at her. "I . . . boring you?" he repeated.
"Most exceedingly so," she whispered, her voice a midpoint between a hiss and a purr.
John looked back and forth between them as if observing a tennis match. He was no longer trying to get Sherlock to leave.
She leaned forward, something sleek and almost deadly about her movements. "Why are you so interested, Sherlock? It can't possibly be boredom – you have a case ten times more interesting than little old me awaiting you, and yet you are delaying that to figure out the identity of my suitor. Are you jealous, Sherlock Holmes?"
"I thought so . . . perhaps, you are curious as to why you could never imagine me like this before? Perhaps you see the blank canvas I was filled in, and that frustrates you – to know that someone else saw what you didn't? And moved in before you could?"
"You flatter yourself."
"Perhaps," she leaned back in her seat, running one finger over the stem of her wineglass. "And yet . . . I think, that even if it is not conscious on your part, I am right."
"Or perhaps I am wondering just why a man is going through all of this trouble for you," Sherlock returned. Like a child who had found himself put out. "Perhaps I wanted to know the identity of the man who wants a lackey who will follow him and bend to his every will – no matter how cruel or careless."
John blinked at his friend, as if wondering just where the low, dangerous tone of voice had come from in the Detective.
Molly recognized the menacing tone straight from the man who she was coming to adore so very dearly. The two bore more in common than they'd ever knew. Her fingers clenched over the stem of her glass at the searing words, even so – wondering if Sherlock knew more than he let on. If he knew . . .
"Did I strike a nerve?" Sherlock asked smugly at the concern that flickered in the corners of her gaze.
Calmly, with an elegance that even Renuad (who had been watching the whole of the conversation, whether to tip is boss off or get his own kicks was anybody's guess) would approve of, she picked up her glass of wine, and tipped it to him as if in a toast.
"Nothing gets past you, does it Sherlock?" she asked calmly, her eyes darkening. In that moment, she liked to think that she looked the slightest bit powerful – in control – in the slant of the half light and the illusion of wealth around her.
When she tossed the contents of her glass on him, no one in the restaurant (except the world's only consulting detective) was surprised.
Molly placed the glass back down, the force of it causing the delicate stem of the crystal to crack.
Sherlock was looking at her as if she had grown two heads. He had yet to move, as if he was surprised to find himself covered in wine. At his side, John was trying very, very hard to contain his laughter. His eyes were almost fond as he looked at her – proud even.
She picked up her small handbag from the table, and made to leave. No doubt Jim was done with his call by now, and she no longer wished to eat here. As she passed Sherlock, she leaned over to mutter in his ear, her voice low and furious, "And you know what, Sherlock?" she leaned in close, her tone made of silk. "It isn't any of your damned business who I am seeing. So next time, leave me the hell alone when I say so the first time."
With that, she turned and stalked away, confident in the fact that he watched her leave the until he could see her no more.
She was still fuming when she reached outside, the night air doing much to cool the adrenaline and anxious energy that she had fueling her. She took a deep breath in and out, composing herself as she saw a sleek black car rounding the corner.
Pressing a stray strand of hair behind her ear, and straightening her dress – which she had dribbled wine on, much to her luck – she slid into the backseat of the car to find Jim already waiting for her.
They were quite for almost a block, before she said: "He's curious," she muttered in a small voice. "But I don't think he knows."
Moriarty's eyes were dark, but there was a smirk on the corner of his mouth. She couldn't tell what he was thinking – but that was often to case. At any rate, he looked almost pleased at the night's detour. As if he enjoyed the drama and the unexpected.
"Perhaps," he said softly. "But it matters little one way or the other."
A month ago, she would have protested differently.
Now . . .
She bit her lip, looking at the lights of old London as they passed, lost in thought.
A hand came to cover hers, the gesture almost kind. His hands were very warm from to the touch, when most would think them cold. She twined her fingers through his, taking the small tangible gesture of affection from him where she could.
"You handled yourself well," was all that he would say to her performance that evening, but the small words meant the world to her. "Few people stand up to him so."
Pleased, she let her gaze flicker to him as she finally let a bit of pride settle into her veins. Cover blown or not, she had stood up to Sherlock Holmes tonight. And even if she did not earn his caution from his deductions . . .
Then surely she earned his respect.