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She scoured his website and learned that Sherlock Holmes claimed to be the world's only consulting detective, that he could observe and deduce everything. It made sense that Scotland Yard might need help on occasion, but she was surprised he had such a broad access to crime scenes and her territory at Barts. He never explained how he came to be so trusted and valued by D.I. Lestrade.
She never knew when he would pop into the morgue or the lab and take over the place. Even when he parked himself in front of a microscope and peered into it without speaking for a half hour, his presence was dominating. She was constantly aware of his slender fingers adjusting the knobs, and of the way his nose would wrinkle when the results frustrated him.
He was cold and painfully neutral toward her most of the time.
Sherlock was true to his word, and it was as though their heated session togetheshivr had never happened. At first, Molly thought she would feel like throwing up every time he came by the morgue, but that urge quickly passed. There wasn't time for queasiness and overanalysis when he was firing questions at her about autopsy results and badgering her into releasing body parts for experiments. Handling the full force of Sherlock's intelligence and energy left no room for anything but focusing on the present.
And over the months, the strangest thing happened: it was almost like nothing had happened, as he insisted. She still remembered his body shaking beneath hers (thought about it quite often actually) but it seemed irrelevant when it came to their present hospital interactions. They were professionals. Well, she was. He was erratic and ruthless in his way, but eventually she realized she could trust his discretion in that one matter.
There were still awkward moments though.
Once settling into her position at Barts, Molly accepted very few appointments at Elena's. She'd intended to keep up a reduced schedule at the dungeon, so her skills wouldn't get rusty, but she was simply too tired to do both jobs well. She was bone tired every night after leaving the morgue, from the autopsies, lab work, and the political navigation of working in a hospital, and from the paperwork, the damned never-ending paperwork.
She agreed to see a longtime client for a lunchtime appointment, a cheerful judge who tipped massively and loved creative bondage and flogging. The session went well as always, the older man regaling her with tales of amusingly stupid criminals in his court while he was bound in a complicated web of ropes. He wasn't particularly submissive but his masochistic streak was sizable. She left the session with her biceps aching from heavy use of her tools.
Afterward, Molly cleaned her flogger and treated it, realizing she'd been neglecting it the last six months. She had to rush though, as she was due back at Barts for the rest of her shift. There were still two bodies waiting to be sent off that she'd procrastinated over during the morning.
When she hurried into the morgue, Sherlock was already there, arguing over a fresh corpse with Davison.
"I have permission from Stamford, so don't waste my time. You're late. Where have you been?"
It took Molly a few seconds to realize he had switched halfway through to speaking to her instead of her colleague. Before she could explain, Sherlock's gaze wandered over her face and body. He sniffed and his lips tightened.
"Davison, leave. You're not needed."
"I'm leaving because I want to, you shit. Don't think I won't check with Mike on this." The other pathologist stormed out.
"I'd suggest you wash your hands more thoroughly before you come to work, if you don't want people asking why you reek of leather soap. And leave off applying the oil, since its scent and look is also rather obvious." His tone was cutting as the words poured out. Sherlock's green-blue eyes were icy and focused on the shiny smear of oil on her trousers.
"I did wash up, but it's strong. Don't ever speak of that here." Annoyed, Molly frowned and rubbed at the spot futilely. She grabbed her lab coat from the hook and slipped it on, hiding the oily mark with the long garment. "It never happened, that's what you said. Behave, please."
He stared at her, lingering on the monogramed pocket, and Molly remembered how his eyes had burned for her in her white coat when he was cuffed to the St. Andrew's cross.
Their eyes met now, and she felt a shift; the aggressive thrust of his shoulders relaxed. Sherlock simply stood, waiting. A familiar warmth filled her and she felt anticipation similar to what she felt when she stood in her dungeon, about to wield the whip.
Molly's eyes widened and she licked her lips nervously. In her dungeon, she would have known what to do. But at Barts…what did he expect from her? Was he still attracted to her? Should she try to do something about it and upset the delicate balance they'd achieved over the months? Molly froze in fear.
The moment drew out, neither moving from their safe spot on the floor.
Finally he broke their stalemate by striding over to the body on the table. He unzipped the bag and flipped it open.
"Just in. Sixty-seven, natural causes. Used to work him. I knew him. He was nice."
She didn't know what hurt more, the rejections or those rare times when he was nice to her.
The uncomfortable moments came and went, but her constant awareness of him didn't fade. He seemed to notice everything about everyone but little about her unless it was something that could hurt or annoy her. She tried to carry on with her life and go on dates, but most of them were abysmal failures. Normal men were just so dull, she couldn't pretend to be attracted to them.
Jim was interesting. Jim was interested, in her. He was sweet, intelligent, and gentlemanly, submissive in his demeanor, but she couldn't picture dominating him at all. The dynamic was all wrong, she knew on an instinctive level. There was something steely there, beneath his soft surface. It was disconcerting. She wasn't sure she would have gone on more than one date with him if she hadn't been trying to make Sherlock jealous by blogging about her new boyfriend.
God, she felt so stupid when Sherlock pointed out the clear flaw in choosing Jim to make him jealous. The transparency of what she'd done mortified her. Finding out Jim was a criminal and a murderer was the icing on the cake. Finding out about it from Davison of all people and the Barts water cooler gossip, instead of from Sherlock, made it ten times worse.
Sherlock never said a word about it.
Christmas. One last attempt to convey to him what she felt, that it had nothing to do with their moment in the dungeon over a year and a half before.
And that was the truth. A pretty man with a nice body who loved to submit was fun, but she fell in love with Sherlock Holmes's brain. His incredible runaway train of a mind was what captured her, and that he chose to use it to help people. He claimed to not like anyone, and it might even be true, but he spent his life solving crimes, not constructing them. It would've been so easy to flip the switch in the other direction. He could have been like Jim, but instead he was a hero, even though he didn't understand that.
She dreamed about presenting him with a collar, but that was more of a fantasy for her alone time in bed.
For Christmas, and the unexpected invitation to the Baker Street gathering, she carefully wrapped an antique astrolabe she'd found in a dusty shop. She'd been awestruck and wickedly happy when John Watson informed her Sherlock was a borderline idiot when it came to astronomy.
He's not bloody brilliant at everything, ha.
He was trying to rectify that lack of knowledge apparently, and she thought the brass piece was a charming reference and a sort of gentle teasing.
Sherlock made it brutally apparent when she turned up at the party that she was unwelcome. She tried to ignore it and chat with the other guests, but his complete disinterest in her was made clear when he deduced the details of the gift she'd wrapped for him so hopefully.
Not just the gift, but the comments about her mouth and her breasts. She tried to summon the mistress from the dungeon, to bark the words that would have come so easily to the woman in the stilettos.
But her voice sounded broken even to her.
You always say such horrible things, every time. Always, always.
The name provided for the woman on the table, the dead body, was Irene Adler. Cause of death, blunt force trauma to the skull, causing internal bleeding. The catalogue of the damage done to the woman was horrible.
Sherlock identified her by her nude body. That was enough to make her pathetically jealous for a second, but when she googled the woman's name the next day, she could barely breathe.
The scandals attached to her name were everywhere in the society pages. Her website was glossy and full of terms Molly knew intimately well. She'd heard of a domina who dared to call herself merely the Woman, as if she were the only one that mattered, but the Woman didn't socialize with other dominatrices or work out of a house. She was an independent who worked out of Belgravia, catering to the absurdly wealthy. She was beautiful and vicious, and according to the few clients she knew who'd met the Woman, absolutely brilliant.
Sherlock knew her body exactly and he was the man they brought in to i.d. her corpse.
He must have been special to her. She was, she thought with her throat tightening, she was special to him. She was his domme, not me. What happened between us never really mattered.
He looked like he was dying.
She remembered the way her father joked with his mates, how he'd offer to help fix their car as though his liver wasn't being replaced with cancer cells and killing him slowly. There was a space between his two front teeth when he grinned, and it always seemed to her that he would laugh even in the face of death.
But when Dad sat back on the stoop and watched his friends drive away after a night watching football, she would watch him. She saw how the relaxed smile would fall away, and he would trudge back inside to stare at the wall, wincing as the pain took hold of him.
Whenever he realized she was still hovering quietly, his face would light up and the knowledge of his long death would disappear from his expression like it had never existed.
Sherlock wasn't much for broad smiles. Sometimes he'd smirk in a smug way when he was proven right or taking pleasure in a thorough deduction. She remembered how his face lit with a happy glow when she took him down into sub space, and he gave himself over to her hands.
Now he watched John Watson putter around the lab, and the raw sadness in his eyes was unmistakable.
I don't count.
He couldn't shake off the shock. He'd spent the last three years try to convince her that she meant nothing and it had worked. Only it had worked too well. He'd meant to push her away, to keep her from pursuing him when he couldn't let anything distract him. She thought she didn't count. She wasn't a puzzle, despite the contradiction of her domina and her pathologist sides. It seemed obvious to him from the beginning that the two halves weren't that dissimilar. She wasn't an enigma; she was complete, whole and genuine.
Sexual attraction was ephemeral for the most part. Though he'd desired her when she topped him, and on occasion, still felt annoying flashes of lust for her, it never caused him hesitation. Even the Woman's blatant invitation to explore their uneasy attraction had been not that difficult to turn aside. Once he helped her solve her predicament, he lost interest in the case. He rather liked the Woman, and was content she existed still. She had her world and he had his.
He kept coming back to Molly though. She was the best of Barts, despite her awkward sense of humor and vulnerable eyes. He didn't think it even required explanation, given her credentials and quick rise to popularity amongst her colleagues. How could she not know that she mattered? What had happened to them in the dungeon was incidental to the work they'd accomplished, to the help she'd provided over the years.
Of course she counted. Why did it even have to be stated?
There wasn't time to fuss over the issue. The fall was happening, as Moriarty planned. But his puzzles were not quite as mysterious as the consulting criminal liked to imagine.
It was as Sherlock had planned, as well.
It helped that he and Mycroft had been anticipating a move on the criminal's part for over a year. His brother had been careful to feed Moriarty exactly what he wanted him to know when Jim thought he was the one in control.
We're never as in control as we think, he thought. If we think we are, we're usually the most wrong.
I've said the wrong things again, Molly. I need your help and I need you.
"You're wrong, you know. You do count. You've always counted and I've always trusted you."
He couldn't even bear to look at Molly, in the darkness. It took him several minutes to pinpoint his feeling as shame. Shame for being so terrible at understanding people that he didn't even try anymore, even with the people worth trying for. Interpreting people's emotions exhausted him when he needed to focus his energy elsewhere, but he had used his difficulties as a way of hiding- from her.
He faced her, and her shining brown eyes that saw through him, even in the dark. "Would you still want to help me?"
Her gaze was steady. "What do you need?"
He stepped closer and gave up fighting the simple truth. "You."
Her eyes widened. "How?"
"Moriarty. He's coming for me. I need a body that can pass for mine. And some other things. I have to disappear. It's what he planned, but I mean to come back eventually."
Molly dropped her purse to the floor and touched his forearm. "I'm so sorry I brought him closer to you. It was so childish of me. How much time do we have?"
Sherlock shook his head. "You brought him closer- no. He would've come down here himself as IT if you hadn't introduced him sooner. I intimated that you were indirectly responsible for his crime spree only to manipulate you into helping me and breaking your lunch date."
She smiled slightly. She rested her hands on his upper arms and squeezed. "I know. But I did tell him things about you, when he asked. I thought it was just chat, but…I wish you had told me yourself who he really was." Her eyes challenged him.
"I didn't want to talk about him with you." His tone was almost petulant but he took another toward her, the front of his coat brushing her cardigan. "What good would it have done?"
"I deserve that much from you," she said. The air between them grew warmer as their bodies moved closer. She peered up at him, and in the faint light, saw his eyes narrow and jaw tighten.
"He placed his hands on you repeatedly in the lab. The degree of familiarity suggested other physical intimacies." His face was bleak.
"Discussing him makes you think about him touching me, kissing me?" The thought of Jim made her cringe, but Sherlock needed to be pushed.
"It shouldn't have happened." His head bent forward, and he pulled her against his chest, and pressed his lips against her forehead. "He didn't need to date you to get to me. He knew about you. Wasn't it obvious? He's been watching me for years. He knew if there was a conflict, a problem of-" Sherlock hesitated.
"Emotion?" Molly whispered, slipping her arms around his waist and burying her face into his coat. She was caught between delirious joy over being in his arms, and terrifying fear that he would shut down again.
"Sentiment," he said, lifting his hands to cup her face, "Need. Me not always being in control. Moriarty is a fool though. He never understood about you. Retaining feelings for a woman I wasn't sleeping with for this long was unfathomable." He laughed bitterly.
"You don't have to be in control." Molly slid her hands up his chest and over his throat. He swallowed hard and she felt it against her palm. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him softly, her hands dropping to claim his. "I'm here. We'll fix this. I'm going to take care of you tonight. Anything you need, you have me."
Arrangements were made. Blueprints and bodies secured, precise measurements of the rooftop laid out and plotted. Everything mattered: the angle toward the street where John would stand, the distance between the truck and the roof, and the area in between that needed to be controlled at all times. Staffed by Sherlock's homeless network and monitored by his brother, who held some vague government position.
They gathered the pieces of the plan to complete the long-brewing clash between Sherlock and the mastermind.
It was 3am when Molly herded Sherlock into a cab and asked the driver to bring them to her flat. If it was his last night in the world, it would be with her.
"You need to rest. I insist," she said sweetly, and he smirked, looking out the window.
"Whatever you say," he agreed, lacing his fingers with hers, where their hands met on the backseat. Anyone else would be exhausted by then, but Sherlock's body hummed with energy. His thoughts raced and zoomed around the corners of his brain, searching for possible roadblocks.
When she opened the door to her flat, she paused. "Toby doesn't usually like people, so don't be offended if he runs. Or hisses at you."
Sherlock sneered. "He liked Jim. Not sure it's a very smart cat."
Instead of being offended, Molly's face lit up. "You read my blog?" Then her face fell. "Oh, I wasn't talking about you when I said those things, I meant, um…" Her cheeks turned red. "You know what? I did. I meant everything I ever said about you." She wrinkled her nose. "Sorry."
Distracted, he closed the door as they entered and tossed his coat onto her small sofa. Without explanation, his shirt followed the coat on the pile. He bent down to remove his shoes and his hands fumbled with them.
Molly turned on a lamp and stared. A sound suspiciously like a squeak was heard.
Sherlock looked up. "You were right, I need to rest. Not my body though. Everything is, it's too fast." He set his shoes by the sofa, socks tucked inside. "I should have asked first. I forget that sometimes."
Molly shrugged off her coat and cardigan, laying them on top of his shirt. "Yes you should have asked. Begged, really. But you're right." She kicked off her shoes and padded over to him, slipping her arms around his waist. Sherlock grinned down at her.
"Oh you think you've won, that we're still on your terms." Molly stepped back and undid his trousers, shoving them down to his ankles. "We're not. Let go. Have faith in me." She smoothed her palm over his chest, dragging her nails over his sensitive belly. His shoulder relaxed and his fingers uncurled. "Yes, that's right."
She tugged down his boxer briefs and freed his hardening length from the fabric. Molly knelt and curved her hands around his butt. She leaned in and kissed her away up and down his cock, tickling his foreskin with her tongue and letting the darkening head of him slide into her mouth when he grew thicker. He exhaled heavily, but controlled himself. She nuzzled him and smiled against his skin when his hands suddenly dug into her hair.
"I wanted to kiss you like that when you were tied up. It's unprofessional, I felt nasty about it. But you're lovely." She sucked him into her mouth again, letting him slide in and out her throat until he was rock hard and gripping her hair in a very non-submissive manner. That would not do. She pulled away and smacked him hard on his right butt cheek.
At that, his cock moved against her lips and she giggled. "Something amusing?" Sherlock asked drily.
"You have such an expressive face, I should have known all your parts would be the same. Try not to be a wiseass, Sherlock." Molly confessed, "I don't want to gag you. I love your voice."
"If you say so, Mistress," he agreed. She stood up.
"Take my clothes off." She tried to sound regal but it came out sounding eager instead. She cleared her throat, and repeated the order.
She didn't have to tell him again. Molly realized she was definitely going to have to tie him down when stripping her took several minutes. He seemed to "accidentally" brush his fingertips over every inch of her flesh, and protested he hadn't meant to graze the curve of her butt with his lips as he moved around her body.
"You weren't this bratty last time."
"You didn't know me then," he sassed, and Molly sunk her fist into his hair and grabbed a tight fistful of curls. She pulled him down to her level, and kissed him soundly, their tongues moving against one another's for the first time.
"Hmmm yes, now I remember why you were behaving." Her fingers wiggled in his hair, and he groaned. His hands locked onto her hips, squeezing, before one hand snuck down further. He slipped two long fingers through her wet folds and stroked her clitoris. She arched and ground into his hand, anchoring herself in his curls and moaning.
"You sneaky bastard. You're a right handful," she laughed. She slapped away his fingers and he pouted.
He was much more cooperative and focused on obeying when he was handcuffed to her headboard. Her footboard was solid and wouldn't work with cuffs, but she improvised with two long pieces of rope she kept her in trusty bag. She tied his ankles far apart, to the edge of her double bed.
When Sherlock gave in, accepting her help and accepting her domination, she had known she would have him this way. She didn't want a tangled web of binding and manipulated bodies. He was simply secured and hers to possess. She climbed on top of him, and settled on his lap.
Molly caressed his cheek, and bent down to kiss his lips gently. He lifted his mouth up for her to enjoy but he pushed no further, accepting the love she lavished on his lips, his cheeks, his neck. She sampled and licked her way down his throat, wringing sighs and muffled curses from him as she discovered his hot spots, scratching and teasing his nipples. The genius detective was reduced to a pliant body, freed from the usual overloaded rush of information once the sensations she inflicted took over.
"Molly?" He needed to say it before he was truly lost in the peaceful oblivion he felt coming.
"Yes, Sherlock?" She leaned over the side of the bed to yank open the table's drawer. She dug through the mess until she found a wrapped condom.
"I'll be gone a long time. There are other things that have to be done after Moriarty is out of the picture. There's a real chance I may not come back. Are you sure you want this?"
She crawled back to his lap, and tore the wrapper open. Fishing out the condom, she rolled it onto his thick shaft. "Are you being sensitive, Sherlock? Not sure I know how to handle that." She smiled and scooted up to look him in the eyes.
"Yes, I'm sure. I knew what it meant when I fell in love with you. Even if you were clueless." She kissed his cheek.
He searched her brown eyes, and whatever he saw there was enough. His shoulders and arms relaxed. When Molly straddled him again, and sank down, taking him inside herself, Sherlock strained against the ropes and thrust into her without reservation.
He kissed her awake a few hours later when the car arrived for him. She'd stayed conscious long enough to uncuff and untie him after they came together twice, gasping with the intensity of it.
"Are you ready?" he said. His silky baritone still made her shiver, after three years.
"Yes. I will be. You have to trust everyone to do their part. And me."
Their mouths found each other again.
"I trust you. If I'm not dead, I'll be in touch." He reluctantly pulled away and headed for the door.
"Oh!" Molly cried, hopping from the bed, wound in her sheet. "One more thing. Here." She opened her purse and flipped open her wallet.
This time he accepted it. His eyebrow rose.
"I have your information in my new backup mobile already."
"But if you lose it, you won't have any numbers and then I won't know if you…Just take it, okay?"
Sherlock kissed her hard on the lips and pocketed the card.
Sherlock Holmes exited her building to find Mycroft's car waiting. They had a few points to cover before the meeting with Moriarty later on the roof.
Before reaching the vehicle, he paused and looked up to her window. The blinds were closed.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the white card. He skimmed it, a smile touching his lips. The stethoscope was an amusing touch. Ghoulish really if one considered that her patients were all dead. It was purely Molly Hooper.
He tore the card in half, and then again, shredding it into tiny pieces of paper before depositing it in the rubbish bin and hopping into the car.
He couldn't bring it with him, of course. He would be hunting killers- amoral assassins and ruthless businessmen who needed to go down with Moriarty's ship. He couldn't bring something that would lead them straight back to Molly if he lost it or was killed.
Now that he'd give up fighting it, he would always be able to send a message or find his way back to her.
Molly watched from the building across the way with binoculars. She saw Moriarty gesturing madly and walking in a comical way. She wished Sherlock had let her listen in but he'd been wary Moriarty would check for a wire.
Everything went as planned. The consulting criminal destroyed himself with a bullet and the foolish belief that he'd brought down his archenemy.
For Molly, it was like watching a stranger die. Jim was nothing but a bad dream. But it was time for Sherlock's great performance. He pulled out his phone and began speaking. Molly set down the binoculars and raced down the stairs to get to her appointed place by the Barts entrance.
Oh god, John, she thought as she ran. I am so sorry. I will take care of him, Sherlock. We all will.
She reached the bottom, hit the pavement and looked up, scanning the roof's edge.
There he was.
The truck was in position below.
Molly's hands shook. A foot in the wrong direction and he would die for real, before her very eyes.
Sherlock stood on the edge, hovering over the city he'd done so much to help and then been betrayed by.
Molly glanced at the street, spotting John arriving in the distance. He was speaking into the phone, distraught, his eyes never leaving Sherlock above.
Now, she thought, You've got to take the leap now, Sherlock. Have faith it will work.
Jump, she prayed.
And he did.