Prologue

Molly Hooper was regretting having put on a skirt that morning. Stupid that, what with everything going on, that was the thought that kept popping into her head, but there it was. Because the man who had hold of her, the one with the gun, was grabbing her so tightly that the side of her skirt was rucking up against his leg as he walked and it just felt so undignified.

She supposed she was in shock, that was why she kept thinking about her bloody clothes. The facts of the matter were just too horrible to focus on.

She'd been just about to finish up for the day and go home, at a decent hour for once, when shouts and crashes reached her ears from another part of the hospital and she had run towards the sounds, all too aware that the shift change was going on and that she may well have been the only person with first aid training left on that floor. But it wasn't an accident. A group of armed men had got into the hospital and tried to steal the stocks of morphine and probably other drugs too, and somehow one of the security guards was shot and likely dead, and then in a whirl of activity which Molly's brain had hardly been able to keep up with, the police had turned up and the group of men got separated, and she was seized by one as a hostage.

The one who had shot the security guard.

Her feet skidded on the floor as he dragged her around a sharp corner and he swore at her. They were in one of the older parts of the hospital now, all winding corridors and echoing operating theatres. The man had his right arm around her waist and held his gun in his left hand, alternating between pointing it down the passageways ahead of them and pointing it at her. He was panting and agitated, desperate to escape from the police. He wasn't doing a bad job of it, some calm bit of Molly's brain noted. She hadn't seen or heard a sign of anyone else for some minutes now. If he could find a way out of the building, he might be able to get away, he might let her go!

He might not.

He cursed violently as they rounded another corner and came to a dead end. The door on one side of the corridor let into an old morgue, Molly knew, but the door was locked, as her captor discovered when he smashed his shoulder into it. A bullet took care of the lock, to Molly's dismay, and he dragged her through the door into the large, chilly room beyond.

The old morgue looked much as it had when it was built in the Victorian era; the walls were stone blocks and the floor slate, clean and cold. Several metal tables were lined up against two walls and a modern refrigeration unit, the kind with drawers, stood looking out-of-place at the back of the room. The man looked around, gritted out something under his breath, and abruptly squatted down on the floor, half behind some of the tables, pulling Molly down with him. Her knees hit the floor hard and she let out a cry, but got the gun waved in her face again.

"Keep quiet," the man snarled in her ear. "We're staying down here 'til it cools off, and if there's any trouble you're first in the line of fire. Got it?"

Molly bit her tongue against the sob that wanted to escape, and nodded, his words echoing around the room and rebounding back to her ears. She was forced down onto the floor, face against the slate, and held there by a heavy hand on the back of her neck.

The slate was frigid and hard against her knees, bloody skirt. Oh god, if she survived this she was going to wear trousers every day for the rest of her life. She'd get married in trousers!

She had no way to tell how quickly time was passing; her watch was still on her wrist, inches away from the side of her head, but she was too scared to turn her head and look at it. Thus she had no idea how long she'd been there by the time soft footsteps sounded in the corridor and the door handle turned with a squeak.

The man beside her immediately tensed, his hand tightening on the back of her neck to the point of pain. "Stop! Stay right fucking there!" he growled, and whoever had just come in stopped moving.

"Who the fuck are you?"

"Don't worry," said a soft even voice. "I'm not with the police. I'm just concerned about that girl you've got there. How would you feel about an exchange?"

Oh god, Molly recognised that voice.

"Exchange?"

"Yep. Me for her. Leave her here, safe, and I'll go with you and help you get out of the building. I was a student here, I know all the ways to sneak out."

There was a pause as the man thought it over, just for half a minute or less. Then, with a snarl, he surged to his feet, dragging Molly up with him by the back of her collar. His hand grasped her throat as she got her feet under her, pulling her head back against his shoulder, and she could see the man at the door.

John Watson. Cuddly jumper, placid expression, looking like he wouldn't hurt a fly. And yes, he'd been in the army, but as a doctor, not a soldier! And the best thing he could come up with was an offer to swap hostages? Oh God, she hoped that Sherlock was somewhere near by!

"I don't believe you," her captor spat. "You're a fucking copper! I'm not letting you near me. You come another step closer, this bitch gets a bullet in her head."

For the first time Molly felt the barrel of the gun against her bare flesh, on the thin skin of her temple, and her eyes filled with tears.

"Molly," John's voice said gently, so soft that it didn't even echo in the cavernous room. "Molly, look at me."

"Shut up!" Molly blinked her eyes dry in time to see her captor swing the gun towards John, who held his hands out to his sides in a placating gesture.

"Don't worry Molly, you'll be okay," he said. The gun came back to Molly's head again, but she kept her eyes on John this time.

"I'll get you out of this safe Molly. But you must do something for me."

"Shut the fuck up!" The gun was back on John again.

"Close your eyes again now, and don't move."

"Be quiet! I'll fucking kill 'er, I'm not joking!"

"Not a single twitch, Molly."

Molly shut her eyes.

There was a second of silence, maybe more or maybe less, then an intake of breath in the ribcage behind her, a movement from near the door, and a sudden autoclave rush of sound and heat and motion past her left cheek. The aftermath of an incredible noise rattled around the huge room, ringing in her ears, and her eyes were still closed as the warmth of the body behind her fell away, the hand around her neck pulling her. Pulling her backwards and she almost fell with it...

Then John's hands were gripping her upper arms and keeping her on her feet.

She opened her eyes and looked up at him, his concerned face, saw his eyes glance at the floor behind her and she turned her head to see-

"Don't look, Molly. You don't need to see it."

He carefully touched the skin of her throat where she could already feel a bruise forming. His gun was stuck in his belt, just in front of his left hip.

"Can you breathe alright?"

"Y-yes."

He nodded. "Okay, let's get out of here."

He put his hand steadyingly on her shoulder as they walked towards the door, and it occurred to her; she could look if she wanted. She was a pathologist, she dealt with corpses all the time, every day nearly.

She turned and saw the man lying on the floor, saw his face, entry wound under his left eye. A pool of blood was slowly spreading out from around his head like a halo, and she felt acid rise in her throat. John hurried her out and shut the door behind them.

"It's different when you've seen them killed," he told her, and he was right.

::

AN – Yes it's a new multi-chapter fic! Woooo! I hope you enjoy.

Just to warn you, the above may seem super angsty...with good reason because John just shot the fuck out of a guy. The next couple of chapters may be a bit downbeat as well, while I'm setting the scene. I hope, however, that this will eventually become quite a laugh.

I say hope because I really don't think I'm that funny. I put little things into The Adventure of the Consulting Woman that I thought may raise a smile in a few people of a similar mind set to me, and then I got masses of comments saying things like "Oh my god! I just laughed so hard I frightened the dog and spat my drink everywhere and my spleen popped out!" and I never really expected that.

So fingers crossed I'll be able to reconnect with whatever strange, comical muse did that.

Later.