iii. in which certain things are crossed out

It was a ridiculously warm excuse for a Monday morning.

The lower wings of the hospital were clammy and stale while whatever hitch hampering the cooling system was being worked on right over her head. She could hear the workers from where she was working - checking on her newest additions, all the while cursing the warm air that didn't let her keep the bodies out for long all. Their drilling and hammering was pulling at her already frayed nerves, and her normal morning's tradition of a caffeine fix was coming at great cost to herself as she swallowed the hot beverage with mulish gulps.

Molly finished with her first body quickly enough – the bloodtests had came back positive for blood poisoning, and it didn't take much further digging to decipher what drug of choice the girl had pumped herself full of before her rather nasty accident. She filled out the forms with a mechanical script before moving to type them up as well, her moves methodical and reflexive as she went about her work without truly registering her movements.

Her lethargy was broken by the next body she brought out.

There was something familiar about the man she unzipped from the freezer. Something very familiar . . . Frowning, she checked the paperwork – but she found no quarter there, for all of it was inconclusive. The body had had no ID when found, and the fingerprints held no match in any of their own, or INTERPOL's databases. While a rarity, such a thing was possible – all for the want of a high price, and an excellently placed contact; but neither were out of reach for some. The detectives at Scotland Yard were waiting to see if she could put a name to the face – and an answer to their mystery.

The cause of death was easy at least – just from glancing she could see the exit wounds on the man's chest; bullet wounds, struck in a perfect triangle that spoke of a professional aim. This was not a murder so much as an execution – shot in the back, and at very close range. No doubt the victim had been talking to his killer before his end, trying to reason and plead . . .

Molly shook her thoughts away as she ran a tender finger over the circumference of the wound, her finger teasing the edge of where once healthy flesh met that bloody and torn asunder. Her mind filled in the details for her – an imaginary family for her imaginary man, a suit and tie job that chained him to a desk and put him in the way of those high and corrupt. His voice would have still been kind, and level - his beautiful blue eyes his greatest weapon as he let words spin his way out of every hole, and into quite a few listening ears.

Those eyes . . . she reflected as she slowly peeled an eyelid away (a silly habit to see her victims real and living once more). She knew those eyes . . .

Suddenly, a memory came back to her – a ring of gentleman mired in dark things. A man in a pinstriped suit asking for her name even as he kissed the back of her hand as easily as if he didn't have bloodied palms of his own. A kingpin from Dublin whom Moriarty had watched long and slow as he had left, something almost cautioning about his gaze . . .

Molly felt bile rise in her throat as she hurriedly stepped back from the table and the man upon it.

He was . . . he was . . .

Not as alive as he was the last time she had seen him.

If he was one of the criminal underground she had met – and one of the higher ups, at that, then it was no wonder that the Yard couldn't put a name to him. This man existed nowhere except where he willed himself to be, and his belief in his own infallibility had obviously led to his own undoing.

One did not cross James Moriarty, and live . . .

That was something she knew all to well.

In the pocket of her lab coat, she felt her mobile buzz. Reflexively she reached down for the phone, and flipped it open to see a text waiting for her.

How is Johnny?

She narrowed her eyes at the text, her stomach jumping again at the implications of what she was seeing . . . what she knew of.

Slowly, she typed her reply.

Not as well as the last time I saw him, I'm afraid.

She bit her lip, and waited.

And then.

Perhaps the folder on your desk will aide with his recovery.

And no more.

Frowning, Molly pushed a sweaty strand of hair behind her ear as she turned away from the crimelord to look over at her desk – and the manilla folder sitting carefully unassuming under a packet of candy. Pushing the M&Ms to the side for the moment, she cast her eyes around the few shadows that the florescent lights left to thrive before carefully sliding her thumb under the lip of the envelope to see its contents.

Hesitantly, she reached inside and pulled out a small dragon's horde of forger's treasures. Bloodwork, identification papers, dental records and a full slew of other things needed to create a new identity.

Or cover an old one anew.

Understanding settled in her deep and quick. Her fingers tightened on the information in her hand, bloodless and still as she saw the impasse posed before her. For the most part there had been something that was a fine line (black and white combined) about what she played with, so far. This, this right here, held no black or white. This was the law, and this was her putting human thoughts and secrets above what was higher than all.

She looked down at the corpse again, seeing the test before her like red lasers protecting a priceless artifact in a museum at night. She could take the diamond before her and let the trinket shine on her, or she could walk pass the treasure none the wiser for what she was missing.

But the message was clear – she was no longer a silent spectator, she was an observer who could touch the edges of the pawns on the chessboard. Now, all that remained to see was whether or not those pieces were her brethren, or hers to manipulate as well . . .

Taking a deep breath, she moved to the computer and started to create a file, using the information in the folder to aide her. As she created an identity for the dead man behind her, a part of her fell into the routine – forgetting the heat and the choking protests of conscience within her as she struck her fingers neatly against the keys.

It wasn't until she was hitting enterfor the last time that she was joined by a visitor.

Two visitors.

"I'm looking for a John Doe. Tall, fair haired, nice eyes – have you seen him?"

Only one visitor ever swept into her morgue as if he owned it. Her lips curled in annoyance at Sherlock Holme's haughty assuming of her aide – just as he knew that the dead she harbored would bow before him, and spill their secrets eagerly into his ears. Too many times before had that been proved true.

"Papers first?" she held a hand out, not looking up.

Ever since that evening at La Chapelle, Sherlock had been almost careful around her – as if he was piecing her together, completing a picture in his mind. A part of her enjoyed the new game brewing between them as much as the one she played with Jim – she was moving pieces across a board much higher than her own sphere, and she reveled in it.

Lestrade's clearance hit her hand a moment later, and she didn't bother to wonder if it was legitimate or forged. She just got to her feet (strangely aware that the heat and humidity had her sloppy ponytail plastered against her neck, and not caring of it) and led the Detective over to the body she had recovered lest the heat damaged it.

"Here you are," she said almost cheerfully, moving around to the other side of the table so that Sherlock could look the body over, John an ever present shadow at his side.

"Do you have any news as to his identity?" Sherlock asked softly, looking down on the corpse (and a part of her shivered at how much he resembled Jim in that moment – eyes composed of a dark and undefinable matter, and and singlemindedly intense as he locked gazes with the dead man) as if he could read dying secrets from decaying flesh and bone, and decipher them whole.

She bit the inside of her lip, her hand tracing pointless patterns on the dead man's wrist – whether to sooth him, or herself, she wasn't quite certain.

"Hopkins," she whispered the name from the file Jim had left her. "Sully Hopkins."

Sherlock blinked at that. And for a moment she tensed, expecting . . .

"Well, that was delightfully anticlimactic," he sneered, face creased in distaste.

"Who were you expecting?" she asked curiously.

A few steps away from them, John rolled his eyes. "You wouldn't believe it if we told you."

Sherlock didn't bother looking at the corpse again – or her for that matter, he simply turned on his heel and left, the abruptness of his movements causing his coat to billow behind him in a rather dramatic fashion that would have at one time placed a smile on her face to last the whole day though.

But now . . . she simply inclined her head at John, and turned to her work once more.