Hey Guys! Thank you all so much for your continued support, the reviews I have received have been so constructive and they have really helped me shape this chapter. You're all so kind and generous, Molliarty fans are one of the friendliest fandoms I have ever encountered.
Special thanks to JJBlueBell, she's thrown ideas around with me and spurred me on. If you want more Jim-fic I highly recommend her new story,"Birds of a Feather Flock Together", it's a really interesting new take on Jim!
"The word's on the street: you've found someone new.
If he looks nothing like me I'm so happy for you.
I heard an old girlfriend has turned to the church -
she's trying to replace me, but it'll never work.
'Cos every touch reminds you of just how sweet it could have been
And every time he kisses you it leaves behind the bitter taste of saccharine.
A bad cover version of love is not the real thing.
Bikini-clad girl on the front who invited you in.
Such great disappointment when you got him home -
the original was so good; the one you no longer own."
Bad Cover Version - Pulp
Tom had been the perfect gentleman all evening. The restaurant was just as he had said, a lovely little Italian. The décor was authentic and her starter had been delicious and yet it was all that Molly could do to follow conversation.
Tom was raking over the details of a recent case that had been sensationalised in the news. A Queens Guard had been found dead but there was no murder weapon to be found. Molly tried her best to stifle a yawn as he launched wholeheartedly in to his theory of what the murder weapon might be.
His explanation; frozen meat. A ,"meat dagger" as it were.
Woefully miscalculating his deduction as jest Molly laughed directly in his face, it was the first genuine laugh she'd had in ages, and it required every ounce of her iron will to repress it when Tom's face fell into a disgruntled frown.
"Well, what's your theory then?" Tom shot back with a note of irritation; he had clearly been looking to amaze her, or at least not induce a giggling fit.
"Oh I'm sorry, it's just the way it sounds…meat dagger…it's funny. It's a good theory, really it is." Molly did her best not to titter her way through her apology with limited success.
To her relief Tom's features softened, "No it's not, it's terrible…" he cracked a smile that lit up his face and made him look really quite handsome in the flattering candle light of the restaurant."…I was just trying to impress you, I read your blog, I know you're in to all of that crime solving stuff."
Molly took a sip of her wine in hope that it would suppress her irritation at the simplistic, dismissive term, "Crime solving stuff".
With a visible cringe Molly cast her mind back to her old blog, "Oh God, don't go reading that old thing, I've not updated it in years. I was young and…naive shall we say."
Tom's brows met in a most inquisitive fashion, "Yeah, I noticed that you'd stopped updating it a while ago, why did you stop, it was a good read?"
Aligning her cutlery Molly considered her answer; the truth was even less believable than Tom's meat dagger theory. It would be her turn to be laughed at should she try to explain that she was kidnapped by a consulting criminal for a few years, and that really ate into her schedule.
"Oh you know, life got in the way and all that. The wifi wasn't great in Sudan!" She explained laughter once again ringing out in her voice, this time it was a defence mechanism, she would never be fully comfortable playing along with the lie that Jim had created for her.
"What's your explanation…come on, I'm dying to hear your theory." Tom wasn't challenging her to come up with a better explanation than him as he was moments before, he genuinely wanted her take on things, he clearly valued her opinion.
"Well…" Molly paused; she'd not given the recent mystery much thought at all. She knew better than most that people showed up dead every day of the week, you couldn't explain all of them. "…if no weapon could be found, then maybe there was no weapon."
As anticipated Molly was rewarded with a quirked eyebrow.
"Of course something killed him, but maybe the murder weapon was something more mundane? An item of clothing could have been tampered with? Or maybe we're just dealing with a professional, someone trained to not leave any clues."
Tom looked somewhat unsatisfied with her explanation, perhaps he was looking for something more elaborate than the truth,"Master criminals? Isn't that a bit comic book?" he scoffed.
Something about Tom's offhand comment twanged her nerves, "I'm not talking about your stereotypical villain! I'm talking about businessmen, organised professional people who deal in criminal activity for profit…and their own amusement. People with connections and power beyond your wildest dreams"
Tom nodded seriously for a moment before dissolving into laughter, "Alright spooky Mulder, whatever you say!"
"No really!" Molly geared up for what was set to be a heated debate but before she could get started Tom rose from his seat and excused himself, "Hold that thought, just off to the little boys room!"
Molly sat patiently as minutes trickled away and she began to notice some decisively pitying looks from the restaurant staff and other patrons alike. The waiter whom had presumably drawn the short straw made his way over and asked if she was ready to order the main course, "No, not quite yet, my date is just at the loo, shouldn't me much longer…" she gazed up at the older gent, knowing as well as he did that she had been ditched. Finally Molly let her pretense fall, throwing the napkin she had been fiddling with on to the table she looked up again with big, honest eyes, "Oh you know what, bugger it, I'll get the bill." The waiter nodded compliantly before shuffling off to fetch the check.
Molly huffed, resting her chin in her hand. This evening actually knocked hers and Jim's trip to the theater off the top spot in the, "Worst dates ever embarked upon" chart of her life.
She'd not come across that strange… had she? That he would actually feel compelled to just leg-it out of the back door? Was she that weird? It was hard to tell these days, if there was one thing Jim had embraced about Molly, it was her weirdness; he'd cultivated it in fact. That was another way in which he had ruined her for everyone else. Great.
Pulling herself to her feet Molly settled the bill, shrugged on her coat and went in search of a cab, luckily there was a Hackney Carriage just waiting for a fair, not far up the road. Molly swung open the back door and flung herself into the back seat.
"Where to, love?" the cabbie crooned from the driver's seat in a thick cockney accent.
"Milton Street please" Molly huddled back into the seat wishing it would swallow her up. She didn't so much as protest when he took a turn to go the long way around, she was so thoroughly fed up she didn't have an argument in her. Instead she meekly gazed out of the window taking in the warm glow of the neon lights, recalling how it used to comfort her when she was a child, making her feel tiny and insignificant in this big machine that was "London".
The cabbie spoke up in his over the top Phil Mitchel voice, "Everything alright love, only you seem a bit upset?"
Molly was grateful for the kindness of this stranger, even if he was taking her the long route home, "I'm fine…really…just got ditched that's all, silly really. I'd only seen him a few times before."
Inwardly she chastised herself, why was she telling the poor man the details? He was only asking after her to be polite!
"His loss! Not worth your tears I wouldn't 'av thought" the driver called back over his shoulder.
"No, you're probably right. S'not really him I'm crying about though, not really." She bit her lips together, wanting, willing herself to just shut up. Had she not made a big enough fool of herself for one night?
"Someone else?" he prompted as they came to a standstill at the traffic lights.
Still looking longingly out at the London nightlife Molly nodded," Yeah, I was seeing someone for a while before…it was complicated."
"Ahhh…but when isn't it complicated? Least it keeps you on your toes eh?" the cabbie offered by way of counsel.
Molly scoffed, oh if only he knew what she meant by complicated.
"Problem is I'm not sure anyone else is ever going to be complicated enough for me ever again…he was quite the conundrum my ex." Her voice started off confident but trailed off to almost a whisper as she described Jim as her, "ex".
"Was he good to you?" the driver's voice sounded a bit more concerned than before and his accent a shade less silly.
Blinking past tears Molly considered the question," No, not all the time but somehow that made the times he was good to me all the better…I suppose that sounds rather pathetic, but if you knew him you'd understand. Good didn't come easy to him." she found words pouring out of her faster than she could control them. She had not been able to discuss Jim with another living soul since her return; but it seemed safe enough to talk to a stranger.
"Funny old thing, the heart." the cabbie mused taking yet another wrong turn. She really ought to have told him, how was it that someone with such a strong London accent could know its back roads so badly? It was a wonder this bloke made any money at all, his sense of direction was so poor.
Still, Molly found something strangely comforting in his presence, and boy did he smell good, "Hmm, yeah hilarious my heart. I won't be listening to it next time I can tell you, I'm going with my head from now on. My heart's an idiot" she quipped, earning her a genuine laugh from her new acquaintance, funny how his laugh didn't match his accent.
"Ah don't be so cynical pet…he must have had some redeeming features?" It struck Molly as more of a question than an observation. Her eyes were prone on the back of the drivers head for a few lingering moments as she formulated her reply.
"Not that many, he was arrogant, short tempered, had a massive God complex, he was manipulative, contrary…" she knew she really ought to stop listing Jim's shortcomings like that, after all it spoke volumes that she still achingly missed a man with so many faults, but as always her mouth got the better of her,"…he was ridiculously competitive, jealous, but I suppose…" she paused, noticing that the cabbies knuckles were now white on the wheel.
"Suppose what?" he prompted, his voice was now almost entirely devoid of its previous cockney twang.
With a bite of her lip and a roll of her eyes Molly dared to continue, "I suppose I loved him despite all that, I think maybe I even loved him because of all that. He was exciting, interesting, sometimes funny…terrible at accents, no sense of direction…" she now set her stare solidly on the back of the cab drivers head and waited for the penny to drop,"…he wasn't always as clever as he liked to think he was."
"Oh come on it wasn't that bad, I was quite pleased with the accent!" Jim's soft Irish tones filled the cab and warmed Molly through and through. She hated herself a little bit for the ridiculous grin that she couldn't remove from her face, at least while he was driving he couldn't see how pleased that she was to see him.
"It was terrible! You sounded like Dick Van Dyke!"
Sliding the rather silly looking flat cap off his head and ruffling his hand through his hair Jim craned his neck to look at her through his rear view mirror, "I thought bad cover versions were your thing these days Miss Hooper?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" she replied haughtily.
Jim finally took the correct turning on to Molly's street, "Oh come on! You're Sherlock knock off back there? Boring you to tears!"
Suddenly feeling affronted at Jim's accusation, "You've been watching me?!"
Will a dismissive wave of his hand Jim didn't so much as bother to try and justify his spying and went straight back to the subject that was clearly irking him, "He looked like Sherlock, a really bad car-boot Sherlock!"
Molly remained seated, hands gripping on to the upholstery as they pulled up outside her flat, "He was nothing like Sherlock, that's rid…"
Without even letting her finish Jim snapped in to interrupt her, "HE WAS! With his stupid floppy hair and stupid coat and cheap looking scarf!"
Were it not for the venom in Jim's voice Molly would have teased him for being jealous, but he was facing her now, those big puppy dog eyes of his were cold and raging, and she knew better than to goad him when he looked like that.
She crossed the cab to sit on the seat that backed on to the driver's seat, wanting to get a better look at him; she could gauge him better that way.
"I wasn't…" Molly shuffled around, looking for inoffensive words that would convey what she wanted to say without riling Jim more,"…I wasn't interested in him, not really. He was nice, but I think we both know, `nice' doesn't really do it for me."
Jim sat back in his seat, still half facing her but looking a note more relaxed than a few moments ago, "Is that why you went to La Senza this afternoon and bought new underwear? Because he looked nothing like our dear old Sherlock and you had no intention what so ever of taking him home tonight?" it was probably play acting but Molly thought she might detect a hint of hurt in his voice and it damn near killed her.
Feeling increasingly hot under the collar Molly attempted to arrange the jumble of things she had wanted to say to him in her head. She had rehearsed this moment in her head so many times, night after night and now he was here in front of her none of it seemed adequate.
"No one's like you Jim…" she began to explain, her hands now gripping at the wire mesh that separated the drivers cab from the rest of the taxi. "…no one even comes close to being like you. You we're all I knew for two years, you got under my skin and now I can't get you out. You had me completely, then you threw me away when you were done." She knew she was playing with fire but Jim didn't have a monopoly on anger, the more she began to explain herself the more she began to seethe.
If she didn't know him better she would have said that her words seemed to affect him, his glare on her softened and he looked down to his lap, unable to maintain eye contact as she spat out the words`…threw me away…'
"You said you were bored of me…didn't think you'd mind."
Jim looked up from his lap, his expression was one of disbelief, "What? Do you seriously think I'd stand by and watch you waste yourself on some jumped up little nobody? Why would you just give yourself away like that…to him of all people?!"
Suddenly Molly's anger was replaced by a more urgent notion of foreboding. It suddenly seemed quite unlikely that Tom had bolted from the restaurant of his own accord, "What have you done to him? Jimmy… Tom, where is he?"
"DON'T YOU DARE DEFEND HIM MOLL'S! I SWEAR TO GOD I'll CRASH THIS HEAP OF SHIT IN TO THE NEAREST WALL IF I HEAR YOU UTTER HIS NAME AGAIN! THIS ISN'T ABOUT HIM!" Jim punched his closed fist onto the steering wheel causing Molly to jump out of her skin.
Closing her eyes and resting her forehead against the wire that separated them, she let out a deep sigh, hoping to God that Tom hadn't just been added to Jim Moriarty's body count but too cautious to pursue the issue.
"What is it about Jim?" like a child reaching out a hand to pet a lion she reached through the gap in the mesh to stroke his cheek with the back of her fingers. He could have grabbed at her, hurt her perhaps but instead he lifted his hand to hers and intertwined their fingers. Molly's question hung in the air unanswered, she'd never seen him like this before, conflicted, puzzled, unsure.
He doesn't know! He doesn't know what all this was about or why he was here.
Molly was by no means fluent in the language of James Moriarty but she could work out that much, for the first time in his life he didn't have the answer.
Good Lord that must be driving him mad.
With a playful smile Molly gestured towards the cab's meter, "How much do I owe you then?"
The grin that Jim cast her way could only be described as feral, Molly's breath caught in her throat at the sight of it, "Oh my girl, you have no idea what you owe me, but I'm going to get it from you, don't you worry."