A/N: This story recounts the "relationship" between Molly Hooper and Jim Moriarty, whom she mistook for an ordinary bloke from IT, which was a terrible mistake. This is my view on what might have happened behind the scenes, based on the show Sherlock, Molly Hooper's blog (which can be Googled), Sherlock Holmes' website (he deleted the post about 40-something types of tobacco ash) and with small hints, here and there, from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Enjoy!
For Molly Hooper, Jim from IT was just what a woman of her character, lonely and desperate for appreciation, needed.
Jim possessed an important characteristic that gave him great appeal: he was not Sherlock Holmes. Jim wanted Molly – she could hardly believe it at first, but he insisted she was pretty and perfect, and really, why would he bother with her if he didn't mean it (and bother he did) – and she truly wanted to be on the receiving end of someone's desire. To be, quite simply, needed. The only things that Sherlock could and would ever give her were stings, right to the heart, and she could just not afford to have her heart broken on a regular basis, over and over and over again. He always said such horrible things and she, stupidly, continued to long for an ounce of the genius's affection. But Jim had the tools to mend the hurt.
Jim entered her life when she really needed something of the sort to happen; when she needed something, or someone, to clear her head and give her a reason not to just give in and turn her back on everything. The idea of keeping a blog for therapeutic reasons seemed so silly at first, but it turned out to be quite an ingenious little venture on her part. She was certain no one would ever come upon Molly's inner ramblings and care about them in the slightest. She could finally let all the burdening feelings out, and technology would not pester her with peppy replies that her few close friends – just Caroline, really – would give.
Go out! Have fun! Forget about what's-his-name, the pompous braniac. I know a guy, I could hook you up, yeah?
Molly didn't want that. Therefore, the cyber space was the best option for a listener because she really didn't want any suggestions, just a place in which to store her thoughts and emotions. The internet would accept her words and want nothing in return. She wouldn't have to go out, party and get inebriated just to give the appearance of a happy, carefree person. She would be able to remain her awkward, shy, lonely self, socially-challenged and secretly dreaming, the only version of herself that she knew to be.
Her first entry: Hi. My name is Molly Hooper. I work at Barts Hospital. I'm 31. Sorry. This is sounding like a list. I'm not sure why I'm doing this. It's just nice to have someone to talk to.
Did she really just write that last sentence? That was so sad and pathetic, she could even cry, but she didn't. She had been like that all her life. She was used to feeling that way and it almost didn't bother her so much. The blog entries continued, short and mostly focused on the one person she wanted to see her, really see her, but who was completely blind to her because Molly Hooper simply did not matter. At least not to him, and because of that, it sometimes felt that no one else cared in the slightest. She was merely tolerated.
The next stage of the loneliness was the cat, Toby. Now she was officially going to be a mad cat woman. Well, at least she had male company, although Toby was not her preferred species with which she wanted to associate. But the cat gave Molly a bit of a purpose and when she came home to her small, neatly furnished, but solitary apartment, the smell of death still following by way of her hospital attire, images of blood and limbs still stuck in her head, there would now be a meow to greet her and it made the world feel like a better place. Now, she had company for dinner and a warm, soft male being in her bed. That was a vast improvement to her previous situation.
Then, one dreary evening, when it was already past midnight and she was working an uneventful night shift, Molly Hooper made a mistake that introduced her to the possibility of happiness with a true and very human being. She mentioned Sherlock's name in a blog post and only realised her mistake after the post went online. Her heart started beating faster and she felt cold all over, anxiety taking over. The idea of Sherlock finding that post, or more likely John Watson (she had told him just that day that she had started a blog herself, the words just slipping out to keep the conversation going, stupid, stupid Molly), who would definitely inform his friend of it – she doubted they had any secrets between them; eventually, John would tell – made Molly want to sink into the ground, all the way to the centre of the Earth. Tears welled up in her eyes, frustration squeezing her gut. How the hell could she delete this? Oh, God.
She was frantically hitting all the possible command keys she could think of, clutching the computer mouse between her fingers to the point where she thought she might actually manage to break it, when she received a reply to the wretched blog post. It was the first reply to any of the entries she had ever written and it was something she had not expected. In fact, she had not expected any replies at all. Fearfully, she read it.
Hi, sorry, are you the lady who works in the morgue? The one with the nose?
Molly frowned, staring at the stranger's odd reply. She felt all sorts of things at once: apprehension, excitement, and bewilderment. She touched the tip of her nose with her fingers, carefully, as if she might find something out of place on it. What's wrong with my nose? She was not in the mood to feel self-conscious on top of everything else.
Who are you? she typed back a minute later, and to her immense surprise, she was on her way to the canteen twenty-seven minutes later, to meet Jim from IT, who was also stuck with a boring night shift and who thought that her nose was worth mentioning because it was cute. Walking down the deserted corridors of the hospital, she touched her nose again, caressing it lightly, and she smiled to herself. She hoped she was not blushing. She did not often receive compliments and she had no way of knowing whether Jim from IT actually meant it. She found herself hoping that he did.
And when Molly saw Jim from IT for the first time, waiting for her by the entrance to the canteen, his arms crossed over his chest and his teeth gnawing on his lower lip, she did blush a little. Stupid body. He was wearing a pair of washed-out blue jeans, a gray, tight-fitting T-shirt with the logo of a smiley face, and a pair of black Chucks, just as she would have imagined a computer geek to be (at least she assumed he was one). His cropped hair was a bit messy – the boredom of an uneventful night shift would do that to a person – and his eyes, big and adorable, lit up when he recognised her. When he smiled broadly and shifted awkwardly in place, scratching his elbow shyly with slightly slouched shoulders, Molly recognised a kindred spirit and stopped regretting her decision to meet with a complete stranger whom she first met over the internet.
When Jim Moriarty needed a pawn, Molly Hooper happily provided.
Well, she was not really a pawn, to be quite fair, just an embellishment for the game he would soon be playing with his favourite consulting detective; or in a way, the game was already on. But the moment there was a new mention of Sherlock Holmes on the internet, the name he'd been dutifully tagging, and Jim Moriarty realised that the mention came from a woman pining after dear boy-o, he recognised an opportunity to have even more fun.
How adorable, someone had an actual crush on Sherlock. Aw. How delightfully peculiar. There were a number of clever and original ways to get to introduce himself to Sherlock in person for the first time, but if Jim had a choice, he chose the utmost fun, which was not at all surprising for someone who dedicated his life to ridding it of the mundane boredom of the ordinary. He really wanted to hit Sherlock in the face with surprise and poor, sighing, pathetic and heart-broken Molly Hooper was going to help him along. In all honesty, Jim did not really need the sad, little, invisible mouse that Molly was – it wasn't an insult, you know, she'd called herself a mouse – but he simply could not pass up a chance to have fun with someone that Sherlock probably made cry at night, but not for the usual reasons that Sherlock Holmes tended to make people cry.
I can make you cry so much harder, mousey.
Molly loved Sherlock, and oh, she would talk about him because Jim would let her. He would urge her, one fan to another.
Talk about Sherlock all you want, Molly. I want you to. Let's de-frock him and get to his heart. Dear boy-o has one.
Anything and anyone having the slightest something to do with Sherlock Holmes interested Jim. Therefore, he absolutely had to test Molly Hooper. He already had a plan for John Watson, Sherlock's loyal pet, quite an explosively fun one, to be sure, and now he had one for Molly, too. Everyone had a purpose in life; now finally, lost Molly Hooper would have one, too. No charge; there were things he simply volunteered to do for the fun of it.
Jim made contact with Molly and before she could reply, he was on his way to the morgue, becoming Jim from IT, the sort of man he knew would fit Molly, the sort of man Molly would trust and welcome into her life the way a drunk jumped after a bottle of first-class whiskey. She was so easy to read, so obvious that it almost hurt. He'd been ready for many scenarios, always was, so it was no problem at all to meet Molly the Mousey (he knew she would fall for the 'cute nose' comment) within half an hour. After all, he did happen to be nearby by coincidence (accidentally on purpose). He became Jim from the Barts Hospital IT Department in the back of the car (a true player always had disguises at his disposal) and a few taps and downloads on the smart phone later, he knew all there was to know about Molly Hooper, which was not an awful lot more than what he'd already known just by skimming through her silly, desperate blog – a cyber shrine to a certain detective they were both after. So they did have something in common, Molly and Jim did. Quite amusing if one viewed it that way.
Molly loved Sherlock Holmes, and Jim was a huge fan. Obsessed, Moran had said. It's not good to be obsessed, if you ask me. Obsession could make even you vulnerable.
Luckily, nobody asked you, was Jim's reply and that was the end of the matter.
And really, Jim Moriarty, vulnerable? That thought alone deserved a good snigger.
It was almost sad that Sherlock Holmes would have to be eliminated eventually, as Jim Moriarty was certain the clever detective would never back off, even when warned. And Jim didn't want him to do that, although heroism was overrated and tacky, even in Sherlock Holmes. Especially in Sherlock Holmes. Jim wanted to play out the game, according to plan, and Jim just didn't change his plans, not even to keep alive the only person who was his match. Contrary to some people's beliefs, Jim was not an anarchist. He liked rules, as long as they were his rules, and sadly, Sherlock was in his way.
Ah, c'est la vie.
To show his appreciation for the man's massive intellect and extraordinary ingenuity, Jim decided to bid Sherlock a proper farewell, the sort of farewell dear boy-o deserved. It was not revenge. Okay, maybe just a little bit, but really only a little bit. Yes, Sherlock, to put it bluntly, pissed him off at first, massively pissed him off, and people who did that usually died. Ask Carl Powers, the first victim of his rage. But Jim quite liked Sherlock now. Sherlock had to die, for obvious reasons, but Jim bothered enough to plan a great game for them. Sherlock deserved it. Really, how often could one play a supreme game of chess with an actually equal partner? Exactly. Jim would not miss Sherlock, but he would have missed the possibility of that special game of chess played with someone worthy, so he simply had to play it now.
But it was not yet time to include the king and queen into the game, or the rooks, or even the bishops. Let the pawns have a moment first.
He greeted the first one, walking down the corridor hurriedly to meet him. She smiled shyly, blushing a deep hue of carmine, and her hands kept busy with her hair, pushing them behind the ears. Jim beamed his best innocent smile at Molly Hooper. He introduced himself, feigning awkwardness with perfection, if he said so himself. They shook hands and, like the perfect gentleman, he waived her into the canteen, eliciting a chuckle from her throat. She took the bait so easily.
He noted that underneath her light perfume, the smell of the morgue – the specific, subtle scent of death – clung to her. It was the scent that only someone who knew all about death would recognise. Another match, Molly Hooper.
He smiled after her, following her into the canteen.
Molly never expected the conversation in the canteen, and afterwards, to run so smoothly. She figured it was because they both understood social awkwardness and did not have to pretend to be perfectly normal. It was obvious they were not, which made them get along just fine; incredibly fine, actually.
The first half of the hour they spent sipping bad coffee in the canteen consisted of small talk, spiced up with tidbits from their personal life. Jim seemed to be genuinely interested in everything she revealed about herself. Molly was unused to the feeling of being...cherished? Was it too soon to use the word? She didn't mind, she was enjoying herself too much. Only later, when she was already at home, did she realise she didn't really know anything about Jim from IT. Their meeting had been all about her, for the most part, but she found that she didn't mind. It seemed she would meet Jim again, and next time, it would be about him. For now, she knew that he was sweet, good-looking and that he liked her. He actually said himself that he liked her; she hadn't imagined it at all, and she was still learning to accept the fact.
It started with his question that rattled her at first.
"So, are you seeing anyone, Molly? I mean, I obviously read your latest blog post and if you are, then you're not very happy with him, are you?"
He spoke the words carefully, as if they might hurt him; as if he might fear her punishment for even asking.
Molly bowed her head, suddenly interested in her fingers very much. "No," she said with a thin voice, "what I wrote... that's just..." She laughed nervously, raking her fingers through her loose hair. "It's silly, really silly."
He returned a nervous laugh, scratching the back of his head. "I'm so sorry, Molly, I shouldn't have asked. I'm such an idiot."
"No!" she exclaimed, eager to reassure him. It was not his fault she felt bad about that; it was her fault entirely. "Don't be silly, it's... it's okay, really, it's fine."
This time, Jim bowed his head, not looking at her when he spoke. "Well, to be honest, I'm a fan of, you know, of that detective, of Sherlock Holmes and... I mean, he's quite phenomenal, and I follow that great blog about his cases regularly, and wow, I think I'd be a bit star-struck if I met him." He shook his head. "Sorry, I'm rambling, ahm... But... Well, I never thought I'd, you know, come across him through you... that I'd, well, have to compete with him."
Molly stared at him, her expression dumbfounded. "W-what?"
"You...you like him, don't you?"
Molly was searching for the right words, feeling stupid for just gaping at the floor and not responding promptly. "I don't know," she began at last. She never talked about this, not ever, not even with her best friend, or at least not anymore. But she found herself blabbing awkward answers to Jim from IT, the man she barely knew. "I...do. No, I don't know. I thought I did. I mean, yes, as a friend. And I had a bit of a, you know, crush on him a while back, I guess. But it was all just so silly. I don't..." She chuckled nervously, feeling utterly embarrassed, and then resorted to biting her lip.
Jim finally looked at Molly, his body obviously fighting within the clutches of nervousness.
"Ah, I've never done this..." He offered her a shy smile. "This is so hard..." He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, Molly looked away, suddenly unable to meet his gaze.
"Okay, you haven't noticed me before, Molly, but I noticed you, and well... I... you know...like you. That blog post was just an excuse to get in touch with you."
Molly bit her lip, her heart hammering in her chest, her skin crawling with goose pimples. She'd never done something like this before, either. She was scared, and strangely excited. Her breathing became shallow, but her thoughts were so clear and focused. She had never been in a relationship long enough to have any man tell her that he liked her, or cared, or even loved her. Neither had any of her very few relationships started with a confession of attraction. Not that she was supposing anything, but suddenly, Jim seemed even more wonderful and the idea, as fleeting as it was in her head, of kissing someone like him, or allowing him to put an arm around her shoulders, was very appealing. They had definitely had a connection, and now, she might start seeing him as a potential date.
"Y...you do?" she managed to ask, finally meeting his gaze. Her heart seemed to be pumping all of the blood into her cheeks; they burned and she was ashamed of her excessive blushing.
Someone liked her.
Oh, please let this not be a joke...
Jim was not blushing, but he was obviously experiencing an emotional turmoil himself. It seemed he could barely keep his eyes on her now, but he tried, nonetheless.
"I do, yes... I mean, just look at you." Molly froze at the words, but he smiled brightly. "You're so pretty, and you have this cute nose, which was the first thing I noticed about you, and that smile, which I think is sweet, and... You're great company, too, and... I just thought I should be honest with you, to tell you, right at the start, I'd like to see you again, for coffee, and maybe for lunch... one day?"
Molly smiled, not caring anymore about the blushing. "You mean, like a date?"
Jim nodded. "I mean, if you'd like that. If you're interested..."
She swallowed. "Yes." Now, she even felt a little playful. "I mean, if you can help me delete that embarrassing post because I'd really like to just... Well, delete it."
"Phoo," Jim exhaled, chuckling. "Okay. Alright. Yes, I can delete it for you right now if you want."
Molly was intrigued by the way her consent made Jim excited and happy. She could not read people all that well, but she understood he was excited, and she was responsible for his feelings. She could not help but grin now, her skin blush-free at last.
He was the perfect anti-dote to Sherlock. And he was not just that; Molly was starting to like Jim from IT just for the way he was. She hadn't even known him for a whole hour, but she felt that, if she tried, and if he was willing, they might start something eventually. Why not?
They walked to the morgue where her computer was, their conversation shifting back to every-day things and Molly's hobbies. Jim showed her how to arrange and delete blog posts properly. He even showed her how to turn on spell-check, something that a blogger should know, he said. He joked a little, he made her smile and she even told a joke herself. Her jokes were usually not appreciated, but Jim laughed and his laughter lit her up from inside. He truly came into her life at the perfect moment.
"So, I should go back to work now," he said eventually, reluctantly, and she agreed, but she knew she wouldn't rush back to work had he stayed to keep her company.
"I will be away for a few days, but when I get back, I'll ask you to have another cup of coffee with me," he said, smiling.
"Sure," was her simple reply.
"Goodbye, Molly Hooper."
He had left the morgue when she smiled to herself and said, "Bye, Jim."
Back in the car, Jim Moriarty first had a good laugh.
"What are you even doing with her?" Moran, who was driving tonight, asked with a tired and slightly annoyed voice, interrupting Jim's laughing escapade.
Jim rolled his eyes. That was the problem with old friends who started to work for you: they assumed they could comment on everything you did and said, and bother you with their opinions. Sebastian Moran had limits, which Jim Moriarty didn't, but at least Moran was reliable, did what he was told and was one hell of a shot, so Jim tolerated (for now) such unseemly outbursts.
"Are you my babysitter, Sebastian?" Jim teased even when his voice became cold silver while he was changing back into his suit in the back of the car. Cheap clothes did nothing for him.
"No," was Sebastian Moran's terse reply.
"Then don't ask stupid questions, Sebastian. It really doesn't suit you."
Now, Jim Moriarty was once more dressed to kill, in a tailor-made suit and with a tie dotted with tiny skulls. Oh, and what was he doing, Sebastian had asked? He was only conducting the process of breaking a woman's heart in the near future. It was what happened to pawns; they always got hurt. Such were the ways of life. And in a way, she would probably blame Sherlock for it, which she really should.
If it hadn't been for Sherlock, Molly... Don't worry, Jim will delete him, just as he had deleted your pathetic blog post.
"I'm not your driver, you know," Sebastian continued, his voice betraying resentment.
Jim exhaled loudly, letting out a sigh laced with sheer ennui. "You are whatever I tell you to be, Sebastian." It was his talent, to sound both bored and menacing all at once. It was a skill he had learned to master. "And don't worry, for you the fun begins on April Fool's Day, the best of days to start the game, so make sure nothing happens to your fingers or eyes until then."
Sebastian Moran understood, and oh, sometimes he found that he hated Jim Moriarty.
Molly Hooper didn't dream about Jim from IT and she didn't think about him until she got to work the next day, but then, the thoughts of Jim began and he was all she could think about.
He liked her.
That certainly brightened her mood.
What dampened it was the fact that he hadn't contacted her since the night in the canteen. On the fourth day of his absence, Molly began to miss Jim from IT. Or rather, she missed the man who liked her. He said he'd be gone for a while, but she was surprised at how much she actually cared about his absence and how it made her begin to doubt herself – and she didn't even know why. She knew she could never muster the courage to go check up on him in the IT department. She'd rather be plagued by the inner questions, which, every now and then, made her feel a bit miserable.
During those days, she avoided Sherlock like the plague whenever he came to Barts Hospital. He'd notice the change in her demeanour and she couldn't bear the very thought of his scrutiny. It was curious how, only mere days ago, she would hover in the laboratory when he was there, even if she didn't have any work there, but now, she avoided it. She was scared of what Sherlock might see in her, and she was torn.
Did she want him to find out and hope for an ounce of jealousy?
Would that be fair to Jim?
That was more excitement at once than Molly had had in years.
On the fourth day of Jim's absence, after Sherlock left the laboratory for the day, Molly had an hour to kill before she was to go home. She had finished for the day; it had not been a particularly eventful day and she didn't mind that because some days – which were bad days – she was, quite literally, swamped by dead bodies.
She was checking up on her blog, made a new post – and got an immediate reply. It was amazing how her heart began to beat faster at the thought of Jim returning. The first thing he did was asking her to join him for another cup of coffee in the canteen, just as he had promised he would, and Molly did not have to think twice this time. She got rid of her lab coat, refreshed her lips with lipstick and combed her hair with her fingers.
She stopped for a moment. I guess I do like him, then, she thought and smiled to herself.
Jim from IT definitely had the potential of making her forget Sherlock Holmes at last.
A good lie was always mildly based on the truth.
Jim Moriarty had known that this time, Molly Hooper would be curious about him. He wouldn't expect anything less from anyone; of course, she could not expect him to be honest. Well, she could believe that he was actually being honest with her, and she most certainly did believe that, but he wasn't a particularly honest man. People tended to forget an important lesson from their childhoods, hammered into their heads by caring parents.
Do not talk to strangers.
"So, you took some time off work, then?" she asked.
"Yeah, just a few days. I didn't do much, though. I actually missed the work." He summoned a perfect chuckle for Molly and it amused him how easily he made her blush.
I was very busy preparing the destruction of your lover boy, Molly. Two more days until the game begins.
He would be hosting their personal Olypmics.
"I missed you," he added, bowing his head a little to exhibit shyness. The only thing he could not fake was a blush, but she would hardly notice that his cheeks didn't turn pink because of her.
She giggled nervously. "I missed you, too."
Already, did she? She was such an emotional creature, wasn't she?
"So, tell me a bit about yourself, Jim, if you want."
Jim from IT was the sort of man who would talk about himself, no doubt. Even shy pricks could open their mouths and be comprehensive. So, when Jim Moriarty was playing the part of Jim from IT, he became Jim Smith – generic Jim, generic last name – and he was thirty five (true), had two siblings (false), his parents lived in Surrey (as false as his generic English accent, and in any event, their address now was Six Feet Under), he liked disco music and musicals (doubly false, and his ring tone was nicely deceptive, but there was a clue in IT Jim's taste in music, and he wondered if Molly would notice) and cats (false, he didn't give a toss about animals). He told her a nicely balanced proportion of facts and fiction, which, in unison, shaped a good, solid lie. He said a lot about himself to Molly, and yet she was, in truth, none the wiser about any of the two Jim's.
Molly Hooper looked pleased with Jim from IT, just as he knew she would be. He did play on the strings of her heart. The mousey got exactly what the mousey had wanted. He wondered if she was comparing him to Sherlock in her silly little head. Probably. Silly Molly. The idea made him want to laugh.
"Have you ever watched Glee, then?" Molly asked. "It's this TV show that I really like. I mean, it's about high school kids, but I just like all the songs they do, and since you like musicals, I thought... You know..."
What the hell is Glee? And did he look like he cared? Well, Jim from IT cared.
"I've heard of it," he replied enthusiastically, "but I haven't seen it. I'd like to, though. Maybe we could watch it together some time."
The things I do for our game, Sherlock. I truly hope you'll know to appreciate the effort.
Oh, there it was, another blush. He had to confess, Molly was adorable. Did Sherlock surround himself by such ordinary, vacant-minded people because they were so adorable, and as such, wonderfully amusing? Because even when the idea of watching Glee pained him – it was, he easily suspected, an incredibly boring drama about singing teenage brats – spending time with Molly was more amusing than he had anticipated. He definitely did the right thing by involving her as a pawn. Pawns could make a game of chess interesting.
Molly cleared her throat. "It airs tomorrow." He could tell she was scared he would see her as too direct. Oh, she could rest assured; he didn't think she was a slut only because she wanted to spend some time with a man. Molly's land of romance had, after all, been a desert for a long, long time.
"Would you allow me to watch it with you tomorrow? Or... Oh, I asked too soon, didn't I? I'm so sorry, we've only just met, I know..."
Jim Smith bowed his head in awkward shame and scratched the back of his head, a nervous habit that he had. Jim Moriarty snickered in his head.
"No! No," Molly hurried to reassure him; she was so caring. Ugh. "I...yes, we can watch it together, tomorrow." She smiled nervously. "You can meet my cat, Toby."
"You're free tomorrow, right?" She nodded. "Then, maybe, if you are okay with it, we can have lunch together. For you, I'll take the afternoon off, Molly. Let's... Ahm, well, let's make it a date, then, what do you say? Would you like that?"
Molly was beaming. "I'd love that very much, Jim." She was lost for words, so she began to babble, which Molly did with great prowess, but fortunately, she babbled away in the right direction.
"By the way, thanks again for the clue, to that puzzle that...erm, that Sherlock posted on his website?"
"No problem, I like riddles and puzzles and things like that." (Actually true.) "So, what was the solution, anyway? I didn't have the time to solve the hidden message, but I am curious. I mean, this is Sherlock Holmes, right?"
Molly shrugged her shoulders with discomfort. "It was... so strange. Sounded a bit like a threat, or I don't know, maybe it's just some sort of private joke? I mean, Sherlock doesn't joke, but this might be his idea of a joke?"
Oh, really, is it? Think twice, Molly. Games were fun, but they were never a joke.
Jim from IT urged Molly to continue. "The suspense is killing me, Molly." And not just me.
Molly couldn't look at him when she said the words. The mousey's voice grew thin.
"Sherlock, I am coming to get you... Who would even say such things?"
I would, on a daily basis. And I did, that's my secret message.
"Whoah," Jim commented. "Tell me more."
For the rest of the conversation, they discussed Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock's elusive heart began to take shape.
This should have been a lesson to Sherlock: don't surround yourself with people you care about, or who care about you. They talk, they always talk.
And I am coming to get you, Sherlock. Very soon. Tick tock.
Molly hadn't been on a date in ages, and she hadn't really been on many dates in her life, so it was reasonable that she was on tenterhooks when she was waiting for Jim in front of the restaurant where they had chosen to meet. But that was not the only reason she was nervous about seeing him today. They exchanged their phone numbers yesterday and they spent half of the night texting. Texting was a much less direct form of communication and it made it easier for the both of them to shed their usual restraints. That led to them getting a bit... Was intimate even the word to describe the flirting session they had? And, Molly confessed to herself, it was one hell of a flirting session that, according to her standards, became a bit heated before it ended.
How should she act today, then?
When Jim finally arrived, she giggled nervously and he seemed very unsure about whether just to say hello to her or give her a kiss on the cheek. Eventually, he managed to do both and very awkwardly, too. But as soon as his lips touched her skin, the butterflies in Molly's stomach eased their fluttering and she felt better. The ice was broken. Moreover, the friendly kiss – no more than a peck, really, but a kiss nonetheless – felt really nice. Jim felt nice, and he smelled incredibly nice, too. He looked good in a white shirt and dark jeans, and he was wearing a dark jacket over the shirt, as well as proper shoes. He was really taking the date seriously.
"You look especially lovely today," he complimented her as they sat down at their table.
Molly felt a little dizzy and she hadn't even tasted any of the wine that would come with their lunch. For the first time in her life, she felt genuinely pretty. Beautiful, even.
"You do, too," she replied shyly.
Soon, the initially awkward conversation began to warm up, and Molly relaxed completely – so much so that, when Jim asked if her food was okay, she offered to let him take a bite, a bite which she fed him herself with her fork. He returned the gesture and the intimacy they created, the proper intimacy for a date, felt like a warm blanket around Molly's shoulders, something she had not expected, but now openly welcomed.
They mostly talked about silly, every-day things, but to Molly it felt like she was having the best conversation of her life. Every time their eyes locked, which happened a lot since they were talking very comfortably to each other, she felt wanted. Desired. Jim soaked in every word she uttered, his dark eyes sparkling warmly. When he told her a new joke he'd heard at work, she even noticed a glint of mischief in them, something that she would never have associated with Jim from IT, but it made him look incredibly attractive in her eyes.
"That joke was a bit mean, though, and you're mean for making me laugh because of it," she said, laughing.
He leant forward, locking his eyes with hers. "Maybe I am mean and you just don't know it."
For a few seconds, the intensity he exuded in that moment made her pause, but when his features relaxed and he began to chuckle, she chuckled with him, wanting to touch those adorable dimples in her mind.
Molly Hooper was falling, and she didn't mind it anymore. This was what she wanted; not lonely nights and unrequited affection, but this; the real thing. A man who actually liked her, who actually found her interesting.
He paid for the meal, like a true gentleman, and when they exited the restaurant and he hailed a cab to take them to her apartment, Molly Hooper looked at the grey sky hanging over London in appreciation and smiled.
After a very long time, she was finally feeling happy.
Jim feigned delight over Molly's neat little feminine apartment. It was just like Molly, small and forgettable, but Jim from IT loved the little details she put into it and told her all about it.
But of course, while he noticed things, Molly remained clueless. Her stupidity almost angered him, but then, he remembered that it was not important that she notice anything. She still hadn't seen what Sherlock would most definitely observe: his tinted eyelashes, clear signs of taurine cream around his frown lines, and tomorrow, he would also flash his newly bought green underwear of a particular brand, for that extra special touch. Unfortunately, he would not be there to see Sherlock crush Molly's hopes and dreams because no, no, no, Sherlock just wouldn't be able to keep his clever mouth shut, especially not in the face of the strongest of all the clues: an invitation in the form of a phone number.
The very image in his mind amused him to no end.
Molly, you'll hate him so much tomorrow.
That was another thing that Moran just didn't get. Of course he wouldn't, he was just one of them. Alright, slightly better, but nevertheless close to the ordinary them, like a cousin. Molly wasn't just a distraction or a source of information. She was not nearly important enough for that. Molly was not just entertainment, although she was proving to be like a live comedy show. No, Molly was just the first in a row of people he would turn against dear boy-o, and once dear boy-o was all alone and a victim of much resentment and scorn, Jim would really have a good laugh and then strike at him like a cobra. Oh, and Jim knew how to bite hard.
Jim Moriarty liked being the sadist. It made him feel delightfully alive and less bored than usual.
"Okay, this is Toby," she gushed and lifted her cat from the floor, then proceeded to thrust it right against his chest.
From an angle that Molly couldn't see, he glared at the animal. You piss on me, or lick me, and I'll throttle you, then feed you to rabid stray dogs.
The cat blinked stupidly and Jim looked at Molly, petting the animal with affection. "He's such a cutie!"
Molly beamed a smile at him. Pathetic. "Okay, so, are you ready for Glee? I guess Toby will want to be in your lap now, sorry."
Fucking great. "Great! Okay, Toby, let's watch Glee with Molly, then," Jim answered cheerfully.
As they sat down on Molly's small sofa and Molly turned on the TV, Toby purring in his lap in the typical, disgusting way of cats, Jim Moriarty made the final move in his wooing of Molly Hooper and she would wonder for a very long time after he disappeared from her life why she hadn't seen the other signs, why she only focused on the deception.
Deception feels good because it's much nicer than reality, isn't it, Molly Hooper?
He smiled and covered her hand with his, squeezing it a little. Molly blushed, then poked her fingers between his and they remained like that, holding hands in what an outsider could describe as comfortable silence, for the remainder of the terrible episode that Molly seemed to be enjoying very much.
He left without giving her a kiss. He sniggered inside as she looked a bit disappointed when he bid her good night and left without giving her a little gift by pressing his lips against hers. He wasn't a living and breathing charity of institution, and besides, again despite popular belief, even he had a semblance of limits.
Save your energy for tomorrow, Molly Hooper. You'll need it.
As Jim Moriarty exited Molly Hooper's building, after a long date that contained a lot of senseless chatting and tacky music, as the sun was beginning to rise over London, he made a phone call.
He smiled as he said, "Let's send him the first clue and resurrect Carl Powers. Boom, Sebastian, give me a boom."
Sebastian Moran chuckled on the other side of the phone conversation, sounding very pleased, but Jim felt almost happy.
"I'm browsing," Moran said. "Do you have any particular type of woman in mind?"
Jim Moriarty had specified that the first communication device should be of the female variety. He was a gentleman, and like a true gentleman, he gave precedence to ladies.
"Someone average and ordinary. Pleased with her life and herself. Change that, Sebastian, it irritates me. But really, she only needs to be able to talk, so try not to pick someone with a cold."
He jumped into the car that came to pick him up at the precise moment he ended the call. Jim Moriarty was not tired in the least. He was ready for the great game.
Molly Hooper invited Jim from IT to 'accidentally' meet her in the laboratory while Sherlock Holmes was investigating a pair of trainers, simply to test herself. She was already quite sure that Jim was the one she wanted now, especially after last night's wonderfully perfect date. But still, she wanted to prove to herself that she was, in fact, moving on. She wanted to see both men together, in the same room, and be proud of herself for giving Jim a chance and leaving Sherlock behind.
She didn't even want to make Sherlock jealous anymore and she didn't doubt her own feelings for Jim.
In a way, she wanted to show off with Jim; show everyone, but in particular a few certain individuals, that she was not so pathetic and awkward, that now she actually had a boyfriend – certainly, after last night's date, she could soon start calling Jim that name. She also knew that Jim would adore her even more if she presented him with a chance to meet a person that Jim was a great fan of. So, really, that carefully planned accidental meeting didn't have so much to do with Sherlock Holmes as it did with Jim Smith from IT; Molly's Jim, she mused proudly.
Such were Molly's thoughts mere five minutes before she entered the laboratory to check up on Sherlock's success. He still made the blood in her veins pump a tiny bit faster than normal, but now she merely associated that occurrence with the fact that she had a sort of 'celebrity' in her laboratory.
Then, Jim came, making Molly feel ecstatic that she passed her own test because really, when he was standing next to her, so shy and so awkward, she only wanted to take his hand and kiss it with reassurance. But Jim left, taking with him all of the normality that Molly had finally acquired in the last few days, with all her hopes tucked in his pockets, turning her feelings upside down and crushing them.
"What do you mean gay? We're together, he's not – "
She briefly looked towards John Watson for reassurance, and John Watson seemed to be embarrassed and a tad angry on her behalf, but no, that was not reassuring in the slightest. At first, she was only angry because Sherlock just had to spoil everything, so that he could prove a point and be the smartest brain in the room. She didn't even believe it at first.
Stop it, stop it! Jim likes me, he's in love with me, he even sad so. He can't... We held hands last night. We held hands!
But the fact that Jim left his phone number next to Sherlock could not be disputed and Molly's mind shut down. She listened as Sherlock nailed a hammer into her heart with every word, not noticing once how he was upsetting her.
Extremely suggestive fact, Jim's phone number, so that Sherlock Holmes might call him.
Molly wanted to fight this. She wanted to scream at Sherlock, tell him, for the first time in her life, to just piss the hell off and leave her an ounce of happiness, just an ounce, if it wasn't too much of a bother for him. But she didn't; she couldn't. If she wouldn't let out the shock, she would choke on it. She was breathing with difficulty because tears were clogging her throat and finally, she found the strength to turn around and run away in shame.
Sherlock was never wrong, so even when her heart was in denial, her mind knew the truth.
"No, no, no..." she was muttering on her way to the toilets, her vision already growing blurry with liquefied sorrow. She marvelled at her own fierce reaction. After all, she had only known Jim for a few days. Yet those few days had been enough for Molly to feel a connection between herself and Jim from IT. She had not felt connected to any human being in years and the fact that the connection was in danger of being severed filled her with actual despair.
She burst into one of the empty cubicles and collapsed against one of its walls, not caring about the bacilli-infested floor. She tried to cry silently, for fear that someone might hear her, but cry she did and for a quarter of an hour, she could do little else, drowning in her old muted sighs and muffled moans. As the majority of the tears had leaked out, she tried to think, which was proving to be an effort under the circumstances. It was not the first time she was heart-broken, but this time, she was absolutely crushed. She even laughed bitterly to herself, briefly, because it could almost be viewed as funny that the man she once dreamed about ruined her hopes for the man she was slowly falling in love with.
She wanted to hate Sherlock Holmes, even willing herself towards that end, but she couldn't achieve that because all she could think about was Jim and the arguments that Sherlock Holmes had enumerated about him. Was Jim really gay? Molly fast-forwarded through the stereotypes that she knew and thought, for the first time, that perhaps it was odd how he was into disco music and musicals, how he gave her tips about how to wear her hair and how to accentuate her eyes and lips, how he loved Glee while her male co-workers complained about their better halves tormenting them with it.
But why, then, did he tell her that he liked her? Why did he flirt with her over the phone, take her out on a date, hold hands with her?
She could ask herself why all day, but she didn't know the answers and the return of self-doubt, her old friend, was as painful as the thought of losing Jim.
Hurt and confused, Molly exited the toilets, only to run into Jim himself. He smiled and apologised for bumping into her, then noticed her puckered eyes and grew instantly worried.
"What happened, Molly?" he said, caressing her cheeks with his fingers and Molly, still, wanted him to keep doing it.
But wishes and reality did not normally fraternise, not in Molly's life, and she brushed his hands away, taking a step back, surprising him.
"Molly?" His voice was so worried and full of affection that it made her eyes tear up again.
"Jim," she began, her voice shaking, "tell me, would you say that Sherlock Holmes is ever wrong?"
He frowned, his expression utterly puzzled. "Wrong? I don't know. Well, no, of course not. It is known that..." He stopped and furrowed his brow at her even more. "I don't understand this, Molly."
She shook her head. "I don't, either. So, please, Jim, tell me." She took a deep breath, preparing herself for the final blow – Jim's confession. "Why does Sherlock insist that you're gay?"
Jim's eyes bulged out and now he was gaping at her. "W-what? No!"
Molly wiped her tears, mortified that she even allowed herself to shed them in front of a man, although the man was Jim, or perhaps precisely because the man was Jim.
"Look, please, just tell me, alright?" she asked.
"There's nothing to tell!" Jim erupted, showing genuine anger for the first time since she'd met him. He was upset and he looked scared, like a cornered animal. "How can you even ask me, Molly? After all the things we've done together so far, and just... What the hell does he know?"
He was scratching his elbows nervously and what bothered Molly, despite his vehement protests, was the fact that he didn't seem to be able to meet her eyes as he was saying them. She tried to believe him – wanted to believe him – but she couldn't forget the strongest evidence.
"I know, Jim. Yesterday was... amazing," she said, attempting a broken smile. "You told me, right at the start, that you liked me."
"I do like you!" he interrupted her, finally looking her in the eyes. He looked so lost that she felt bad about confronting him this way, but her heart was at stake and Molly Hooper had to protect it, or at least what would be left of it after this fiasco. "You're... you're... right for me, you know?"
Molly took a deep breath and exhaled it loudly. "Alright, then. We've been on a date, we've flirted, we even held hands yesterday, which was really nice. But why, then, did you give your phone number to Sherlock?"
Jim closed his mouth and took a step back. "W-what? No, wait..."
Oh God, it was true... Molly took a step back herself, biting her lip to keep herself from looking even more like a fool and she tried so hard that she tasted a drop of blood on her tongue.
"It's okay if you're gay," she lied because it wasn't. She wanted him and if he was gay, she could never have him, not the way she wanted to have him. "We can be friends, Jim," she said; anything not to scare him way.
"I'm not..." Jim was looking at his shoes, scratching the back of his head.
"It's okay if you are, really," Molly repeated, afraid he would just run off. "You can tell me, it's okay. Maybe you're still just, you know, confused."
She said the words with more strength in her voice, but she had no idea how she had managed that because she felt like a sand castle that was slowly crumbling apart.
He looked her in the eyes, shocking her with his deeply sad eyes. She thought he might burst into tears, although his eyes did not show signs of the tell-tale moisture. Molly willed herself to take a step toward him, reaching out her hand to touch his shoulder, but he backed further away.
"I'm sorry, Jim, please, just... Tell me the truth."
"I can't deal with this, Molly, I can't," he said, turning around.
"Jim, don't, wait!"
"Why did you ruin it, Molly? Leave me alone!" he screamed, not looking at her, walking away with angry determination.
Stunned, Molly leaned against the nearest wall, watching as Jim left her sight. She wanted to call after him again in a final act of despair, but she was interrupted by the sound of a door opening somewhere, which immediately propelled Molly back to the toilets.
The last that Molly Hooper saw of Jim Smith from IT was his back.
Sherlock Holmes was cracking Jim Moriarty's puzzles like nuts. Jim had not expected anything less from his favourite pest.
The consulting criminal saved the best puzzle for last. It was a joke, and the joke was on Sherlock, as it was very much connected to space, something that dear boy-o obviously ignored, apparently.
Such fun! To create additional tension, which in his vocabulary meant extra entertainment, Jim chose a school kid as the next communication device. It was one of his ways to test just how much Sherlock Holmes was able to care for the fellow human being because Jim Moriarty certainly didn't. Female, male, old, young – everyone was just a pawn on his chessboard. It did intrigue him, though, that when a child was in danger, people were ready to burst to save it. Jim did not understand that strange form of sentimentality, but he was fascinated by it and he truly did wonder if Sherlock Holmes possessed even an ounce of it.
Obviously not. Dear Mr Holmes got such a thrill from saving the final puzzle that he almost forgot about the scared boy counting down his possible demise.
The consulting detective was a stranger to sentimentality. Oh, but Sherlock Holmes did have a heart and when the time was right, absolutely and perfectly right, Jim Moriarty would burn it out of his chest.
When I threaten Johnny boy, how much will you care then? And then Lestrade, and Mr Hudson? Molly's told me all about them, the way you are with them. You're pals, aren't you? I know your heart, Sherlock, your one big mistake.
Sherlock saved the day and no one would die today. Some other day, then. Jim Moriarty sighed and tossed the last pager into the 'to-be-destroyed' box he kept in what could be called his office. The location changed regularly, but the box always stayed. Jim knew how to never leave anything behind, make things disappear and get rid of them.
There was only one thing left to toss away – the phone he'd been using for Molly Hooper. The screen showed a high number of unanswered calls and unread text messages, all from the sad little mousey.
Clingy, Molly. Too clingy.
Jim was not nearly curious enough to read them, not anymore. He could well suspect what they contained, anyway; pleas, apologies, despair, Jim, I'm sorry, please answer your phone, please let's meet, I'm sorry, Jim, blah blah blah. Molly Hooper did not interest him anymore, and to be fair, she never truly had. All this time, she had only been a pawn and a source of entertainment because Jim always needed distractions. The world was such a boring place that he needed distractions to keep him alive.
Jim from IT ignored Molly's calls because he was insulted and figuring out himself – probably. Jim Moriarty simply didn't bother.
But Jim Moriarty did say his farewell to Molly Hooper properly. He sent her one final text message from the cell phone of Jim from IT.
In the future, when things will unravel and implode, you will look back and understand what you've actually done. Thank you and goodbye, Molly Hooper. xoxo
Jim smiled to himself. None of it had ever been or would be Molly Hooper's fault; he only wanted her to think it was. It was simply amusing to torment people and some pathetic specimens of humanity really asked for it.
"That's for making me watch Glee, Molly Hooper," he said to himself and chuckled.
He tossed the phone into the box and the moment he did, Molly Hooper was deleted from his mind. One of his men would disconnect the number and destroy the device.
It would soon be midnight and Jim Moriarty was ready to officially meet Sherlock Holmes.
Dear Mr Holmes – we meet at last.
Molly read Jim's text message a hundred times and every time she did, a cold sweat descended upon her skin like sticky fog.
She did not understand the message, but when she called his number and learned that the number had been disconnected, she knew that something was very wrong. She could not sleep all night and she was tormented by strange nightmares that she could not remember when she woke up. Her mind was empty, but her body was buzzing with tension.
At work, she asked after Jim Smith at the IT department, determined to confront him. She may have fallen in love with him a little – or maybe a bit more than just a little – but she would not have threats.
No one had ever heard of or seen Jim Smith.
Molly did not understand anything anymore.
Months later, when Jim Moriarty was in all the newspapers for attempting to steal the crown jewels, Molly thought that she might actually faint.
She saw no connection between Jim Smith and Jim Moriarty; as far as she knew, they only shared the same face. They could not be the same person, and they weren't. Jim Smith had never existed. It had all been just a lie and Sherlock Holmes told her as much.
Molly would never know how her true feelings went unnoticed by Sherlock Holmes and DI Lestrade, but she lied in their faces, and she lied well. Yes, she went on a few dates with the man she had known as Jim Smith, but no, things never got serious and when she learned that Jim was gay, she lost interest.
How could she ever reveal the truth to them, her great shame?
"Oh, yes, well, I guess you could say I had a crush on Jim, and invited him into my home and told him all I knew about Sherlock Holmes. Now Jim Moriarty is after Sherlock, but that's not my fault, is it?"
That would never work. And she knew that, at least partly, the fault was hers, very much so. The fact could not be disputed, even if she wanted it to be.
She wished she had had the courage to speak to Sherlock and tell him how stupid she had been, and how very sorry she was. But she never said anything. She appeared nonchalant about it and a bit mortified that she mistook a criminal for a shy guy from IT. But the guilt stayed and it was eating her alive.
She had never deleted that text message. In the future, when things will unravel and implode, you will look back and understand what you've actually done.
Jim Moriarty had been planning everything all along and Molly fell for it hard.
At one point, she almost called Sherlock, which she had never done in her life, but cowardice won. It always won. Molly Hooper was a guilty unworthy coward of a person.
She was disgusted with herself.
And then, one day, Sherlock Holmes came to her, saying, "Molly, I think I'm going to die."
The guilt swelled up to her throat and began to choke her.
My fault, all of it my fault, because I allowed myself to be seduced by a dishonest man, because I was so desperate... Stupid, pathetic, desperate Molly Hooper.
She would do anything to make things right. She would even die because she deserved it.
"What do you need?" she asked.
Molly's eyes teared up. If he'd said that months ago, she might never have been so stupid. All she ever wanted was his acknowledgement. Now, she owed him the truth. She had to tell him and finally, she felt that she could. She had nothing to lose.
"Sherlock, there is something I have to tell you..." she began with a trembling voice.
She was ready to reveal her sin, her great act of ignominy; that months ago, she may have said too much to someone she should not have taken into her confidence.
And that once, for a time, Molly Hooper was ready to love the black soul of Jim Moriarty.
Thank you for reading! Reviews are always welcome.
Music: I like to mention the songs I was listening to while writing a particular story. In this case, the songs I had on repeat were Eternal Infamy by Deadly Elegance and Seven Devils by Florence and the Machine.