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There Are No Masks to Hide You from Me, Dear

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Jim was late.

Molly was used to this by now; it seemed that every time they were supposed to meet up, Jim always rang or texted and said he would be "just a little late, darling, you understand."

Molly always did.

There was no end to the ways Jim irritated (and scared) her, but being late wasn't one of them, as long as he let her know. He was now fifteen minutes late and he hadn't let her know.

She was annoyed.

"Sorry, Molly dear." Jim's voice came from behind her as he pecked her cheek distractedly. "Work, you know."

Molly tore her eyes away from Anthea, sitting watch in the corner of the pub as always during these dates with Moriarty and forced herself to return the peck.

"Mmm. I suppose this work doesn't include me?"

"Of course not. I would be in utter despair if I didn't have you." His smile didn't quite reach his eyes, and Molly's insides tightened a bit. She hated it when he smiled like that--it always made her feel like a piece of raw meat that was dangled in front of a cheetah, cool and collected and not thinking about the fact that the treat used to be a living creature.

At least she wouldn’t have to endure it much longer. She nearly had enough information on him to turn him over to Mycroft and his people, and then she could move on with her life. It was rare she regretted her decision to say yes after Anthea had recommended her expertise to Mycroft. Molly didn’t get the stereotypical kidnapping for her interview⎯since she and Anthea were lovers, she got a ride directly to Mycroft’s office, a cheque for an astonishing amount of money, and a promise to keep Mycroft apprised on any information he might require, whether that be performing a clandestine autopsy on some government official or passing along whatever she could glean from Sherlock on his visits.

But then came whispers of Moriarty. Several months ago, Mycroft had given her a dossier of what was known of this man, told her he had just started at Bart’s, and asked her to keep an eye on him.

“I cannot force you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, Doctor Hooper,” Mycroft had said, “but keep him as close as you can. We will see to it that you are safe.”

Everything had fallen into place. It was almost too neat. Moriarty noticed she hung around with Sherlock and so he started to hang around with her in an attempt to get closer to Sherlock. He was pathetic, really.

Molly had managed to get him to date her. Anthea had not been happy and insisted on following along, sitting unobtrusively in a corner, hand clutched around the gun hidden in her handbag. Molly felt safer with her there.

She was set up with a fake flat so she could have Moriarty over if she so chose without raising suspicion. For all that he was supposed to be as observant as Sherlock, Moriarty hadn’t said a word about the barren coldness of her flat. She wondered what that said about her life that it would seem normal to have a flat so empty.

Moriarty could barely keep from hounding her about Sherlock, about how much he wanted to meet this great detective. She fed him along, damning him with his own obsessive interest as he gave himself away with the greedy light that came in his eyes whenever he said his name. But she had managed to keep him away from Sherlock, as Mycroft had instructed, but it was hard.

“What’s he like? I can’t imagine having to be in the same room as him, let alone sit next to him and flirt with him,” Anthea said, still sweating and gloriously naked in their bed in their flat, where Molly had snuck after a long shift.

“He’s the most vain man I’ve ever met,” Molly said. “He’s so obsessed with himself that I can hardly believe he’s got room for anything else in his life.” She paused, then added, “but he’s certainly the most dangerous. It takes everything I have not to cringe when he touches me. He has this way of looking at me that just makes me think that there’s nothing behind those eyes but madness and rage, and it’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen.”

Anthea pulled her close and stroked her hand through her hair, gently untangling the knots as she went. “Mycroft says to let Moriarty and Sherlock meet. It’s almost over, and then you can come home.”

Molly gave her a throaty purr, “Thank God. I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you, too.”

And so now here she was, sitting in this pub the night Moriarty had met Sherlock and was waiting on Moriarty (Jim, you must remember he’s Jim now) to arrive. He was fifteen minutes late when he finally arrived, glowing as if all of his Christmases had come at once.

Molly’s teeth were immediately set on edge and her hackles rose. Something wasn’t right⎯he had done something. She didn’t know what, but her gut instinct was screaming at her and she listened to it. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Anthea tense and sent her the “it’s fine” signal. She settled back down, but Molly could tell her grip was even tighter than normal on the gun.

All Jim talked about was Sherlock, a manic light illuminating his face as he waxed rhapsodic about the man. She couldn’t get a word in edgewise, but he didn’t notice her silence. As he rambled on and on, her fear for her friend and employer’s brother rose.

This man was absolutely insane. And he was planning something big.

He had dropped the gentle, effeminate Jim from IT persona and in his excitement over meeting Sherlock, had let Moriarty through, and it was terrifying.

He finally wound down, and, apparently realising he had let his true self slip through, snapped his Jim from IT persona back around himself so quickly it made Molly blink.

“Sorry, Molls, got caught up in myself for a minute. How was your day?” He tried to smile normally, but it came out a bit feral.

“Long. I’m knackered. Look, would you be mad if I skipped out tonight? I’m sorry, I just feel a bit sick.”

He clucked his tongue sympathetically and said a lot of nonsense about how sorry he was and feel better soon. He didn’t offer to come back to hers to look after her, for which Molly was glad.

She nearly fainted with relief when she made it out of the pub’s doors, Anthea a few steps behind her. Molly sent Mycroft a text on her way back to her fake flat:

M is planning something big. Keep S under close watch
⎯Hooper

Done.
MH

She let out a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding. She let herself into the tiny cold flat and wished Anthea could have come in with her. She needed that sense of reality badly tonight. But the bed was cold and empty, and sleep did not come easily for her that night.

She woke the next morning with a sense of dread building up in her stomach that did not lessen as the day went on and she realised Jim had never reported for work that day. She let Mycroft know, and tried to act normal.

Anthea came to collect her at 1 in the morning. “There’s been an explosion. John and Sherlock are in hospital, but will be fine. Sherlock, damn the man, posted a challenge on his website, and we knew where they were going to be tonight. And it was thanks to you that we knew Moriarty was closing in.”

“And Moriarty?”

“Disappeared. We’re working on tracing him now. But for now, you’re coming home with me. Mycroft upgraded our security.”

Molly sagged in relief. “Help me pack?”

“Of course.”

*

When the two women left the poky little flat, neither of them noticed the small man melt into the shadows of the alley as they passed.

He had heard enough; he would be back for little Molly later.

Shame, really. He had liked the way she stroked his ego.