"blow the house down"

Genre: Drama, General
Rating: PG
Time Frame: Posy-TGG, AU
Characters: Molly/Moriarty

Summary: That thin thin line becomes as tiny as the horizon an untouchable distance away as time wears on . . . A tale of corruption in six parts.

Notes: This is set in my M&M verse, which is preceded by "he kindly stopped for me", "Victor, Meet Spoils", "glass shatters softly", and "knots in this noose of mine".

As always, thanks for reading, and enjoy.

Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.

"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all."
~ Hamlet, III.i.83.

i. "in which one takes a first step from the sidelines"

The first time Molly Hooper accompanied Jim Moriarty to a meeting, she readied herself not knowing quite what to expect.

There was something heavy in the back of her throat (which most certainly was not nervousness. Nope. No siree), as she attempted to make herself presentable – twining her hair up into a severe bun, and slipping into a rather expensive dress-suit, one that had not been her decision to purchase – at all, with a grimace. While a far cry from her usual taste, the squared shoulders and deep shade of the fabric looked good on her - the small pinstripes accented the shape of her while looking decidedly no-nonsense enough to pass for her role of the evening.

She shaded her eyes dark, and her gaze looked black and pointed when she was done (even as she ruined the femme fatale look she was going for by singing into her abused hairbrush - because no primping session was complete without such things). The woman in the mirror looked confidant when she was done. Poised. And maybe, just maybe, even the slightest bit dangerous.

It was that final observation that she carried with her and kindled like an ember into flame – keeping her eyes high and haughty(observant) as the meeting carried on. Jim and a number of suited men (all with hard eyes and smirking lips, and good Lord, but all of her times watching the Godfather could not prepare her for real villains no matter what she had thought), gathered at a large round table (all puns aside) and talked in double tones about business. Their business.

She had heard bits and pieces of these gatherings from Jim before – enough to ignite her curiosity, making it so that when he invited her deeper into his world, she couldn't help but say yes. Here, the high circles of the underworld, like dark Hades himself calling together his court, gathered together to take count of the very shadows themselves. And while she easily tiptoed the fine line between Jim's world and her own, this was to dip her toes in the water, so to speak. Here, she was a white spot amongst a black stain, and it was only a matter of time before the stain spread.

Still, questions of conscience and doubt aside, she did not fear anything from the seedy men gathered by the dozens - none who even looked particularly so – there was no oily hair or canine grins, no slickly clichéd mobsters. Instead there were a handful of men and their aides – even foreign 'dignitaries' who looked like one of the average people she could have passed on the street on any given day. It was that appearance, she reflected later, that was truly dangerous. And yet . . . not to her. Not anymore.

After all, how did one fear a fly when one enjoyed the web of a spider?

As she watched, if became apparent to her that Moriarty was less the conductor of an elaborately tuned and arranged orchestra so much as he was the silent puppeteer for a blind audience. He was the ghost writer, beneficiary and mastermind, behind everything from petty theft to the more elaborate accidents. It was to him that the seedy underworld – Napoleon's own ring of crime - swore their allegiance to, one by one.

It was a tapestry of movement – cloaks and daggers and charming smiles and double crosses playing over and over again; more real than her mystery novels, and more real than even her own profession. With her job in the mortuary, saw the rippled aftershocks of the atrocities of these men. Now, she was standing at the beginning of the ripple, right next to the stone who started the distortions.

. . . a part of her thrilled at the danger of it, at the subterfuge. And another part of her was good at it. She slipped into her role like a prima donna slipped into her song on stage. She was not Molly Hooper, scared little mouse of a pathologist. She was -

"Molly Moran," she introduced herself when one of the leading gentleman (a kingpin of a figure from Dublin) asked her her name at the end of the proceedings. Jim had stepped aside, his eyes dark as he nodded subtly, curious to see what she would do.

When she shook the man's hand she did not think that this was a hand that had spilled the blood of many, she only concentrated on keeping her grip steady and her eyes hard.

The sound of the new name on her tongue was a hidden fountain of strength in the deep parts of her. Soon, she would not wear this persona – it would wear her, and she looked forward to the distinction in the make-up of her being.

When they left, night fading and morning almost upon them, Molly Moran faded away, and Molly Hooper came back in slow waves. Spring was in the air as they walked, but the clinging night was still chill – the whispers of cold on her skin assisted her by cooling the warm flare of excitement and confidence that was growing in the center of her, like the hydrogen fires that fed the core of a star.

She was chatting about this and that as they walked – letting loose her impressions and her thoughts from the evening. While she did not have the insights that Jim would have gleaned, he had once told her that he thought better when she was speaking – she was a reflection and magnifying glass both to him, allowing his thoughts and plans to come to fruition through the vessel of her.

"I'm normally pretty good at getting inside of people's heads," she said simply, straight faced when he said as much – letting go of his hand long enough to mime a sawing motion. Her hand tingled with memory at the movement – like she had a corpse before her at that moment, all ready to spill its dead secrets.

Jim did something surprising then. He laughed at her joke.

Molly actually stopped and stared for him for almost a full five seconds as he laughed (she counted, tick, tock, tick, tock, in her mind – waiting for the laughter to turn mocking). But he was genuinely amused. Pleasantly surprised, even. Billy, her last 'friend who could maybe quite possibly want to get a drink with her', and Anthony her 'neighbor who smiled and held the door for her every once in a while' had not been amused by that same joke – actually, the latter had gone a little green before hesitantly asking her if she enjoyed her job that much.

It was enough to make a girl wonder about herself at times - enought to make her wish that she could get inside of her own mind and see if all of the pieces were there – stick her fingers into soft organic matter and read the secrets of herself. Perhaps, that unspoken frustration was why she found herself strangely calm in his presence – he could read the whole of her from her eyes alone, and that knowing that she found in return bound the whole of her to herself.

And then, there were soft moments like this one - where she will swing their hands together as they walk, skipping between the cobblestones (careful not to walk on the cracks in respect of childhood rhymes). In these moments, she could feel a new part of her blooming, and she did more than accept the strange matter of her makeup. She welcomed it – even saw something worthy in it.

"You were an asset to me tonight," Moriarty said simply as they neared closer to her flat. He didn't say that he was proud, he didn't say that she did well. He said that she aided him; that she was a useful and functioning piece in the larger stream of things. She was a prized piece on the center of the chess board – not just a lost checker waiting on the sidelines of the game.

And in return, Molly hid a tiny smile at the barest wisp of praise, the lamplight above them falling over her in a pattern that made her want to hold herself just that much taller.