“So Mary’s intention was not to kill
me. Now the Watson’s are not speaking to
each other and John is living at Baker Street,” Sherlock finished his
monologue. He had seen no reason to hold
anything back from her and divulged every detail of the case. He trusted her and hoped she would be as
He waited in expectation for Molly’s response to everything he had told her. He tried to wait patiently and observed her as he did so. Her hands that spoke volumes were currently placed with one on her head and one on her lap. The hand placed on her head pinched her nose between her forefinger and thumb while the hand on her lap played a tattoo of letters. Molly’s hand altered between spelling out her current name twice and spelling her former name once in a slow rhythm. After some time had passed her finger spelling stopped but her fingers continued to move in a drumming motion. Finally they stopped altogether as Molly breathed deeply and rubbed both hands down her face. She then placed her hands between her thighs in order to keep them still.
“So what you are telling me is that if you hadn’t taken the case you wouldn’t have taken the drugs, Mary would have killed Magnussen, you wouldn’t have been shot, Mary and John wouldn’t be fighting, and the world in general would have been a better happier place.”
The words that streamed out of Molly’s mouth were not on the list of the possible responses Sherlock had thought of in the time he had waited for Molly to respond.
“Why did you take the case in the first place?”
“It wasn’t really a case like you take.”
“There was no mystery involved. He had info your client wanted back and you were acting as a mediator.”
Sherlock waited to see if Molly would continue this time before speaking. When it looked like she ran out of steam for the moment he went into his explanation using a low calming voice. “As you said before Magnussen is,” his mouth twisted in a small smile as he got thought of the irony of Molly’s words, “’bad news.’ He preys on people and their secrets. The mystery is how does he obtain the secrets? Where does he keep all the files? Men like him shouldn’t be allowed to terrorize the world. I want to expose him and gain access to his files and papers in ‘Appledore'.”
Molly mumbled something. “What was that?” Sherlock asked.
“There are no papers.”
“He had the letters in his possession when he came. He flashed them because he was ready to make a deal.”
“Did you actually see the letters? Did you see the writing?”
Sherlock stood up and started pacing in front of Molly’s coffee table. “But why would he make a show?”
She shook her head at him. “He was playing you. There are no papers Sherlock.”
“And how would you know that? He at least had access to the letters. He quoted them to Lady Smallwood.”
Molly went silent again. She was at the point of no return. She had spent her whole life running from the past but it had caught up all the same. The last thing she wanted to do was to drag Sherlock into this mess but he had found his own way in. She knew she could never convince Sherlock to drop something once he became obsessed with a case but she could help him by telling him everything she knew. Part of her was relieved to be able to speak about some of the things that happened. The other part was scared to face the unknown of what happened after. A tiny bit of her hoped Sherlock would back off of Magnussen but she was afraid it was too late.
Molly closed her eyes and focused on the name Lady Smallwood. Information shot through Molly’s mind and she focused on the picture of a letter.
“Dearest Helen, I am in agony all the time we are parted. Your letters are the only things that get me through the day. At night I lay awake and think of you. I long to know the touch of your body.” Molly’s eyes remained closed as she recited. When she reached that point in the letter she started to blush crimson. “I am not going to repeat anymore of that letter.”
Sherlock had stopped pacing to stare at Molly while she seemed to be in a trance. His eyes were wide with surprise. He stepped over Molly’s coffee table to sit directly in front of her on the coffee table. He peered at her from every angle studied her as if she were a newly discovered bug under a microscope. Molly flinched back from his scrutiny and knew there would be questions. Finally he shook his head, scrunched up his eyes and croaked out, “How?”
Molly had already resolved to tell Sherlock everything but it didn’t make it any less difficult. She hesitated as her eyes darted around her flat.
“Do you think ‘Big Brother,’ namely yours, has bugged my flat? I trust you but I don’t want to be a government project, not again.” She had shrunk back into the cushions of her floral couch and drawn up her legs as if to protect herself from the world.
Sherlock paused and noticed Molly’s position. He heard his brother’s voice warning him that sentiment was a chemical defect found on the losing side. The new information Sherlock had received about his pathologist needed to be investigated further by another voice warned him to be careful with Molly and reminded him that they had just started a relationship that day and not to ruin it. Maybe he should scrap the idea of a relationship with Molly. He looked at the people gathering in his mind palace. Look at the Watsons, if ever Sherlock thought a relationship would work out he thought it was theirs. If they couldn’t make a marriage work how could he?
Mind palace John spoke, “Oi, you haven’t given up on us yet!”
“Besides you always knew Molly had her secrets,” piped in mind palace Mary.
“So you want me in a relationship with Molly?” Sherlock asked.
Mind palace Molly spoke behind him, “I told you before,” as she moved to walk around him, “we are extensions of you.”
“Oh how the mighty have fallen,” the snide voice of his brother added his two cents, “worrying about an insignificant woman when you are supposed to be working on a case.”
“She’s not insignificant!” Sherlock ground out with clenched teeth. He pointed an accusatory finger at mind palace Mycroft, “She helps me when I need it and as I told her earlier there are a list of reasons why she and I should be together.”
“WRONG!” A new voice chimed up.
Sherlock pouted, “ANDERSON what are you doing here?”
Anderson shrugged, “I just always wanted to say that and I took the opportunity.”
“And what am I wrong about?”
“Focus on the case little brother!”
Sherlock left his mind palace abruptly. He looked at the smaller woman curled into herself on the couch. “Your apartment has never been bugged to my knowledge but I do check from time to time. There were cameras only. Those were for your protection but with my return they were no longer necessary.” He managed not to add out loud that Tom hadn’t been needed either but only just. It was better to work with one issue at a time a Magnussen took precedence.
“How about I double check while you take a shower?” Sherlock said with his arms behind his back. “Maybe it will help you relax.”
“Relax? I haven’t relaxed in over twenty years. Not really.”
Sherlock approached Molly and sat down on the coffee table in front of her again. This time he lifted up Molly’s chin so he could look her in the eye. “I won’t let Mycroft do anything to you. He may be manipulative and controlling but I will not allow him to interfere with you.”
Molly couldn’t remember a time in their adult lives that their faces were so close together. She couldn’t help but dart her eyes up and down his face occasionally landing on his lips. She blushed and shook her head out of Sherlock’s hold. She managed to slip out an okay before getting up and following Sherlock’s directives.
She paused when she heard Sherlock’s voice again, “I didn’t mean for tonight to be like this.”
She turned back and eyed him in confusion, “Umm…okay,” and with that Molly proceeded to take her shower.
In the meantime Sherlock did a thorough sweep of her apartment. He was correct that the apartment was not bugged but did find an errant camera in her bedroom of all places. He threw it on the coffee table. He would talk with his brother and if that failed he was not above calling Mummy. After he finished the task he decided it was in his best interest to make tea so he set about to do the task. He also texted John telling him not to wait up that he was completely safe and staying at Molly’s for the night.
Molly had taken her time in the shower and had waited until the water had grown cold before reemerging. Sherlock stood as Molly entered the room. She looked calmer if not relaxed. She was dressed in baggy sweats and t-shirt. She left her hair was wrapped turban style in a blue towel.
“You’re looking better.”
“It was a good idea. Thanks Sherlock.”
“I made tea.” The look he gave was endearing, like a little boy trying to impress his mother.
Molly smiled, “I see that, wherever did you learn to do that?”
Sherlock’s face fell as he folded his arms in a mock pout. “This is why I don’t do nice things. I am always mocked for it.”
“That’s not why. You just don’t want people to expect it of you because you would have to start behaving like the rest of us mortals all the time.”
Sherlock cocked an eyebrow and decided to let her have her laugh at his expense. It was good to see her smile.
“Plus you wouldn’t be mocked for it if you did it all the time.”
“But then it would be taken for granted. You should accept it for the great gift that it is.”
“Hold on let me get my phone so I can prove it to the world.” She ran over to her bag and pulled out her outdated but functional camera phone.
“Sit,” he ordered.
Molly gave a dramatic sigh, “It was nice while it lasted.”
With Sherlock seated in the middle of the couch Molly opted to drag her spring green wing backed chair over to sit across from him.
“There was plenty of room over here Molly.”
“Mhm. But this way we can see each other clearly. Are you going to serve or shall I?”
“I will do it.”
While Sherlock went about pouring the tea Molly checked her phone. She was slightly surprised to see a message from John but realized it was within character of the military doctor (and wise) to check on Sherlock’s whereabouts. After reassuring John that Sherlock was indeed with her (she sent proof by pic of Sherlock with tea and insisted he made it himself) she proceeded to load her tea with milk and sugar.
“Why don’t you do that with your coffee too?”
“I would probably prefer it,” she gave a wry smile, “Chemical defect.”
“Ahh…sentiment. Your military father?”
“Oorah.” Molly took a sip of her sweetened Earl Grey. “So should I just start or what? I kind of just want to get this over with.”
“That would be best.”
“Is my flat clear?”
“There was a camera but no bugs for recording.”
Molly breathed a sigh of relief. She had checked multiple times herself because she was paranoid. On her own she never had conversations of such import and all the government would have overheard would have been musicals, piano playing, or the like. It was a nice feeling to be reassured that she mostly had her privacy.
“Where did you find the camera?”
Sherlock looked down into his tea before taking a sip. “Bedroom.” He watched Molly draw her mouth into a tight line. “I will make sure it won’t happen again Molly. Mycroft can use the CCTV system to ensure your safety. I also have other measures in place to keep you safe.” Sherlock smiled.
“I don’t need or want to be watched.” Molly hissed at him with narrowed eyes.
“It’s a necessary precaution especially now since somehow you are involved in this.”
“And you shouldn’t be involved in this.”
“How did you know what was in that letter?”
“The same way Magnussen did.” Molly paused and took a sip of her tea as she collected her thoughts. She held on to her cup to give her hands something to hold onto in order to keep them still. “Do you know what an eidetic memory is?”
“A near perfect memory for detail without the need of mnemonics. The science world does not accept it as fact and only record it as possibly existing it in children.”
“Right, and the memories are only supposed to remain in vivid detail for up to six minutes. The people who had me on drugs, the organization that Mary was forced to be a part of, were running an experiment using new technology. Remember this was over twenty years ago so tech wasn’t like it is today. It was a program ahead of its time at best, rudimentary in comparison of what they could do with it now.”
Sherlock was proud of Molly for keeping as steady as she was in the retelling of her childhood trauma. He did notice how she kept the personal details at bay. This was helpful for understanding what happened without messy emotions getting in the way. But part of his mind niggled at him that she was too detached.
“I’m trying to think of the simplest way possible to explain this. Do you know what photographic mosaics are?”
“Molly I’m not a child. They are pictures put together to make a bigger picture.”
Molly huffed at him, “How am I supposed to know what you delete and what you keep?” She rolled her eyes, “Anyway, the scientists at Division put together some photographic mosaics using secret information. My mother had been working on a similar project to see how far a memory could go. The intent of Division, I think, was to create a super spy who had high intel programmed right into their own minds. A word, name, or even a picture could recall the pertinent information to the mind. The information that they tried to load into test subjects’ minds overloaded their minds and killed them. They took my mom as she had more success with her experiments.” Molly placed her tea down and tried to rub her hands together to warm them. She then placed her hands in a pyramid in front of her face and leaned on her knees mimicking the man before her.
Molly continued on, “Once my mother…was passed her usefulness they were left with me on their hands. They didn’t want to outright kill me I guess so the used the program on me. I didn’t die. My mother had been researching memories in the first place because of me. The doctors had thought I had savant syndrome coupled with my Asperger’s but I don’t think they were correct, good memory is all. Magnussen also had a good memory and he had…friends in Division so he volunteered and also survived the trials. All the information I have encrypted in my mind is older than twenty years. Magnussen could have updated information but he does not have those letters. He probably doesn’t rely solely on the information from the mosaics but he does rely on his memory.”
“What is it like when you recall such information?”
“Working with the dead and away from politics it doesn’t happen much. If I hear a word that is connected in the subliminally planted information it calls the picture forward and my brain goes through a series of flashes of the smaller pictures. If I focus I can make out more detail but I usually don’t bother. I try not to watch the news too much but most of what is hidden in my mind is so old. That is why I know of Lady Smallwood’s husband’s indiscretion as it happened in the 80’s.”
“How did they implant the information?”
“They sat me in a dentist’s chair and had me tied down. They put an apparatus on my eyes to keep them open and had the pictures run through in quick succession.” Molly shuddered and closed her eyes.
“And you know Magnussen was part of this how?”
“I met him once. They were trying to get me to cooperate. They mostly used drugs to try to get me to cooperate but it often had the opposite effect. They couldn’t get the right drug combo and I often just ended up too lethargic. And if I wasn’t lethargic I faked like I was. But when I came down from the drugs I was sick but in order to feel better I had to perform for my next hit. Magnussen tried to tell me how special he and I were. The reasons he and I were used on the project were not the same. He was trying to get a kid under ten to see how I could rule the world with my special abilities.” Molly shuddered again.
Up until this point she had been doing her best to deliver what she knew as if she was outside of what happened. It is how the traumatized sometimes survived, by disassociating with what had happened. And Molly was a master at disassociating and compartmentalizing.
Sherlock held up a hand to stop Molly as he pieced together what everything meant. Magnussen had a wealth of information in his mind that Molly also had partial access too. He always knew Molly was smart but she was smarter than he had given her credit for. Magnussen knew people’s secrets and used them but how did he prove them? Molly could be in danger if Magnussen ever found out about her. Did he know? Did Magnussen get updates?
“Have you ever come across Magnussen in your new life.”
“No. I would have told you if I had.”
“I may reinstall this camera to be on the safe side.”
“Absolutely not! He doesn’t know about me past the fact that I help you in the morgue if he even knows that!”
“But your safety-“
“You left me two of your guns here and one at the morgue. Do I even want to know where you got them?”
“Do you know how to shoot?”
“It’s been awhile.”
Sherlock decided he would take Molly by NSY and see if Graham would let them shoot a few rounds. He doubted Molly would practice on Mrs. Hudson’s wall.
“Is that everything you know about Magnussen?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I guess so.”
“What happened to your super memory?”
“I’m tired,” Molly whined.
“You whine a lot when you’re tired.”
“You whine a lot in general.”
Sherlock brushed the comment off in order to ask one last question, “How would he go about updating his files?”
“Encrypted computer files that he would have to watch without closing his eyes. Very painful that. He wouldn’t rely solely on the computer info. He probably,” Molly yawned, “does a lot of gathering on his own and uses mnemonics. I guess he’s not that much unlike the woman. Using people’s secrets against them.”
Sherlock wanted to defend Irene and explain that she was different but decided such an argument would not be in his best interest at this time or ever. Despite the tiredness Molly felt she did observe the emotions on Sherlock’s face.
“Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No. It’s fine. Partly true but she’s no where near being the monster Magnussen is.”
“I can agree with that.” Molly frowned. She wished she hadn’t said anything. She didn’t want to bring up painful memories for Sherlock and she didn’t want the painful reminder that Sherlock had been interested in a woman, just not her. “I guess it’s too much to ask the great Sherlock Holmes to drop the case?”
“You know I can’t do that. You don’t believe a man like that should be free to do as he pleases.”
“I know but what can you do? It would have been best if Mary had been able to shoot him. I don’t like killing but the man is a monster and I don’t know how anything short of killing him will stop him. It’s better just to leave it to your brother.”
“You didn’t want him to know anything earlier.”
“If it would keep you safe I would make that sacrifice.”
“That is why sentiment is a weakness.”
“That isn’t sentiment it’s love. There’s a difference but I am not having this debate with you now.”
“Will you be able to sleep?” Sherlock asked Molly.
“Are you kidding? I just partially unloaded childhood secrets and traumas I have never spoken about with anyone before, and to be honest it was a bit anticlimactic but my adrenaline is all over the place. On top of that I am now worried you’re going to get yourself killed…again but for real. So no, I won’t be able to sleep right away.”
“How about a movie?”
Molly too tired to argue that Sherlock doesn’t like movies shrugged and moved over to the couch. “You choose.”
Sherlock made his way over to her movie collection. He already knew what she owned and figured there was only one choice for them. He set up the movie and sat beside the strongest woman he knew. When the music to My Fair Lady started he heard Molly groan.
“You don’t want me to sleep at all tonight do you?”
“What? I thought you liked this movie. You do own it.”
“You just opened a whole other can of worms.”