Molly Hooper wakened slowly, sunlight pushing its way through her eyelids. She stretched her arms and legs out, and was alarmed by the aches that came to life in all her limbs. She relaxed her body on the bed, and waited for the throbbing in her thighs to die down.
As her sleepiness faded, the evening's activities came rushing back into Molly's brain. She sat bolt upright, the blankets pooling around her waist. Looking around, she saw she was alone in Sherlock's cabin, with the sounds of normal ship life carrying on, just beyond the door.
Molly felt herself blush and she looked down at her lap. She pushed the covers down to her knees and gingerly opened her legs.
Blood smeared across the insides of her thighs, and there was a sizable damp spot just underneath. She touched it tentatively, realizing that the wetness must've been caused by her hymen breaking, her juices and Sherlock's ejaculate.
Molly wrinkled her nose, but was curious.
So this is the 'bleeding like a pig in a slaughterhouse' Lady Caswell jested about? It's not so bad at all. And it wasn't disgusting at all when he…
Molly smiled remembering the new sensation of her lover climaxing inside of her. Sherlock had never seemed as raw and honest as when he pumped inside of her and groaned with pleasure. In fact, she couldn't wait to do it again.
Feeling a building excitement for the day's possibilities, Molly hopped off the bunk and promptly fell on the floor as her leg muscles turned to jelly.
"Ooof!" Molly exclaimed as she massaged her sore muscles. She was aware of tenderness between her legs as well, but she didn't know what she could do about that. Collecting herself, Molly pushed onto her knees and pulled herself to standing again. She began donning her discarded clothing from the night before, wishing she had water to wash up. She could ask for some, she supposed.
The cabin door flew open, and Sherlock Holmes strode in, shoving the door closed behind him.
Molly jumped, startled by the noise, with her trousers only halfway up her thighs.
"Are you well, Dr. Hooper?" His eyes were a clear sky blue in the light. She saw uncertainty in his gaze for the first time. While she was a ragged, tangled-hair mess, he looked lovely, in a fresh pair of dark brown trousers, and a cream-colored casual shirt, with the neck ties undone. Molly lost herself for a few seconds in the vee of pale exposed skin.
"What? Oh. Um, yes. I'm well…I think." Molly smiled with her mouth closed, and lifted both her shoulders into a shrug. Remembering her situation, she reached down and hauled the trousers up to her waist.
"You fell. Are you- did I-if you are injured in some way, do not think to spare my feelings by denying it. I assure you I would be untroubled by it, but if you require medical attention-" The words shot out rapid-fire.
"NO!" She nearly shouted. "No, I don't need medical- I, actually, I would rather like some water, for cleaning." She stepped closer to him, looking for some overt signal that he was pleased about the previous night. She reached out and brushed her fingertips across his dangling hand. He caught her fingers, and his other hand wrapped around the wrist of the same hand, suddenly tugging her close to him.
Wayward black curls hung over Sherlock's forehead and sideburns, and as always, she had to urge to kiss and stroke them back. As she contemplated doing just that, he bent his head and said, "You are well then," as he nuzzled her ear.
Molly swallowed. "How- how can you tell?"
"I can feel it." He pressed his fingers harder on her wrist's pulse point briefly for emphasis and Molly realized what he had done.
"Oh, that's clever. I'll have to remember that trick. I'll wager you aren't interested in my hands at all really," she mock-pouted.
"Oh I wouldn't say that. Your hands tell more stories than most people's." He flipped her hand over and drew a fingertip across the calluses and tiny nicks on her fingers and palm.
"There was a post-mortem six weeks ago where the saw slipped, his skull was atypically large, I see, lots of pressure needed to crack him open. This one is smaller, with a skip in it, and it's older- you miscut and skimmed over a rib, lost control. A long time ago when you were much less experienced." He rubbed his thumb over the calloused pad on her palm just below her index finger. "And this is from your favorite knife, the one you use in almost every autopsy. You keep it razor sharp."
She laughed. "You see everything. You're amazing."
He raised an eyebrow. "You think so?"
"Yes. Yes, absolutely." His thumb continued stroking her palm.
"That's not what most people say." One side of his mouth drew up in a sardonic smile.
"What do most people say?" she asked.
He dropped her hand and dug his fingers deep into her hair, and kissed her hard.
Molly squeaked in surprise, which turned to a moan as he sucked her lower lip between his teeth. She stood on her tiptoes, grabbing at his shoulders, needing more of him. He tasted as divine as he had last night. She gasped for air quickly between slashing kisses.
"Is that really what they say?" she giggled, as he kissed his way to her neck. She cradled the back of his head as he examined a fascinating little hollow with his tongue.
"No, they tell me to piss off but I like your way much better." His hands slid down to cup her breasts and toy with her nipples sensitive after last night's onslaught. Molly saw his nostrils flaring and his eyes darkening as he moved to push up the shirt she'd only just put back on.
Two insistent knocks on the door broke through the growing haze, and Sherlock cursed.
"GO. AWAY. Or I will bloody keel-haul you!" he barked.
"They don't really do that, Sherlock. At least not anymore, I don't think," John responded calmly from the other side of the door.
"I'll bring it back," Sherlock retorted as he stormed to the door and flung it open.
The ship's surgeon scanned the cabin, noted Molly's presence, and said quietly, "We need to talk about our other guest."
"What? Oh yes, Lestrade. The whispering isn't necessary. It's not like she doesn't know he's on board." Sherlock stood with his arms crossed, the thwarted sexual energy turning to testiness.
John pushed past the captain, and approached Molly near the bunk against the wall.
"Are you alright? Do you need anything, miss?"
"I am well, thank you for asking, Mister Watson."
"John, please." His warm blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled winningly.
"Of course, yes, John." Molly looked down and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"Sherlock, outside for a minute." John's eyes as they turned to his friend were stern.
"Can't. Busy. Talk later. Lovely chatting," Sherlock rushed out as he held the door open for John.
"Holmes. Outside. Now."
Sherlock frowned, but followed the other man out, shutting the door behind them.
"What gave it away, I'm curious- the blanket? Her hair?" the captain asked without preamble as they stepped away from his cabin.
"No. Well, they helped, I suppose. What the hell are you thinking? She's a good girl, Sherlock. You can't just…I don't know even what to say. I didn't even know if you liked women, to be honest. Which is fine, by the way."
"I know it's fine."
"Yes, it's all fine," John nodded. "It was the smell, actually."
"It smelled like a damn brothel when I walked in there. Near the bed. You need a window that actually opens. You really didn't notice?"
"I should've thought of that. Always something I miss. Scent is the most powerful trigger of memory, you know."
"Oh is it? That's fantastic," John responded. "What the fuck were you thinking?
"A brothel. Really, John? You don't think that's a bit rude? And when have you been to a brothel? Didn't think that was your sort of place."
John stopped fuming, and stared at his friend. Sherlock stared back without flinching.
After several cold seconds, John looked away and rubbed his face tiredly.
"I thought you were married to your work."
"I still am. I'm merely…having an affair."
"Right. Does she know that?" John challenged the captain.
"I'll remind her of it," Sherlock said, shifting side to side impatiently. "Tell Captain Lestrade he's being treated to an exotic holiday journey to the island of Jamaica. If he behaves, his corpse will not be deposited on the beach at Port Royal before we continue on to Kingston. Instead he'll be deposited in in civilized Kingston before we depart with an oh-so-exciting tale to share with his future grandchildren."
"Obviously. Do you have a better plan that doesn't involve executing him immediately?"
John's shoulders slumped in defeat. "I don't want to keep him here in the surgery. He hasn't spoken a word since he regained consciousness an hour ago. Just stares at me like he wants to shoot me."
"Well you can't really blame him for that."
Sherlock went off in search of Basil, saying something about needing water for washing.
John headed in the other direction, swinging by the galley to pester Chase for some bread, cheese and beer. The cook begrudged handing over food to any crewman between set meal times, but had standing orders from the captain to give John and Basil whatever they wanted, since they were often bringing the food to Sherlock.
When John walked back into the surgery, he almost could not see the man sitting in the corner, with his face against his knees. The surgeon saw that while he'd been gone, Lestrade had dislodged the bandage that had been wound around his head in order to keep the cold rag on his cheek in place.
"Heads up. Grub." He held out the hunk of bread.
"I'm not hungry." The words were muffled against his knees.
"You must be. That's the first time you've spoken. Don't be an idiot. You're going to be here a while. Eat."
"Piss off." The Royal Navy captain lifted his head and pressed a palm to his nearly purple cheek. The metal bracelets clanked as the chains that connected them to one another tangled up. The links led down from the wrist shackles, and joined with a matching set attached to his ankles. The restraints were secured to the wall by the threading of the chain through a thick iron loop.
The chafed skin on Lestrade's wrists told him the man had been active while he was talking to Sherlock.
"Wouldn't bother trying to pull away from the wall. Those are in deep and you'll break a bone before you break free."
"So I'll break a bone, and then I'll be free."
"You'll be stranded in the middle of the ocean. I know you're smarter than that, Gregory."
"Traitors don't get to call me by my Christian name."
"Traitor! I'm not a bloody traitor. I nearly died for my country. Saved more Englishmen than I can count. We've never gone after English ships."
"So you say. You've kidnapped an English officer. For what, ransom?"
"I don't think they'd pay much for a Frenchman," John said with a smirk, extending his hand with the bread again.
It was Lestrade's turn to be indignant. "I'm not French. Not my fault my father was born there. I'm English. Don't you bloody forget it, ya goddamn pirate." He swiped the bread from John's hand and crammed it in his mouth angrily.
As he chewed, a fresh trickle of blood fell from the cut in his cheek. John reached for the basin of water on the table and a clean bandage.
"Hold." Lestrade made a resistant face, but followed the order as John dabbed at the cut.
"Good, I missed the nose. Your cheek'll heal nicely but you have to leave the bandages in place, I haven't got a huge supply here. This isn't the Royal Navy, as you've noted."
Lestrade rubbed his chin. "Thought my jaw might be broken at first, but it's just sore as hell. Never saw you box on the Edinburgh"
John passed him the cup of beer, which the man gulped down greedily.
"Look I'm sorry. I did what I had to do. You would've done what you had to do. I couldn't let you take the Hudson."
"You were a good man, Watson. How did you fall in with pirates?" Disgust was clear in his voice.
"Funny thing, the sailors here aren't much different than the ones on any other ship. Half of them served on merchant ships before this and they could go back to it after this run is done. It doesn't make any difference to them, so long's they get paid."
"How did this happen, John?" Lestrade asked, this time with less harshly.
"Sherlock found me. Pulled me out of the dark where I was living, and gave me a life. I owe him so much. Everything. Sometimes I think he knows everything that happened before I met him- I'm sure of it actually. But he's never said anything or judged me. He gave me purpose again and accepted me. I didn't know how badly I needed it until I had that."
John stopped, surprised by what had come out of his mouth. Old habits die hard, he supposed.
He'd become comfortable about Gregory Lestrade as he was the least formal captain he'd known until he met Sherlock Holmes. Lestrade used to arrange card games amongst officers, and he never showed favoritism. He was immensely popular with his men, despite his French blood. John had become on first name terms with him after the Navy captain took a shot in the leg during a mild skirmish with the French in '04. During John's daily visits to care for the wound, the two men had found that they'd grown up in the same county, and that some of his wife's family lived in John's village. After John was shot in the shoulder trying-and failing-to save an injured friend during a battle, it had been Lestrade's turn to visit him. There'd been no joking banter then, just John staring hollow-eyed and not speaking for days. The last time the captain went to see him, he'd found that the man had left the ship with the blessing of the Royal Navy, as his contracted time had run out while he was in his sickbed.
Feeling like the traitor Lestrade had named him, John gritted his teeth and spoke.
"You'll be left in Jamaica if you cooperate. If you attack anyone or attempt to divert the ship in any way, you'll be executed. The captain's not interested in ransom. Please, for the love of all that's holy, do nothing. You'll stay here with me in the surgery, it's not safe for you in the crew's quarters."
Lestrade had paled under his tan, but he squared his shoulders and nodded. "Don't suppose they fancy the navy much on pirate ships."
"No, they do not. Some of them were navy sailors, and were flogged by men like you. I expect it's been a while since you had to sleep in a hammock every night." John smiled slightly.
"A bit," he smirked. "My back's not what it used to be, it should be interesting." He sighed and ran a hand through his silver hair. The chains clanked with the movement.
"Any chance of getting these off? I can't go anywhere, like you said."
"I can take you off the wall, but you've got to keep the wrist shackles on to slow you down for now. I want to believe you won't be stupid enough to hurt someone, but…Well let's take it day by day, yeah?"
He nodded. "I still can't believe this has happened. Keep thinking I'll wake up in my quarters with a bottle of brandy in my hand and a terrible headache."
"I know the feeling. Nothing's ever normal when you run with Sherlock Holmes, but it's never dull."
"This ship is damnably fast. How long does the Hudson take to get to Jamaica usually?"
"Last time, with fair weather most of the way, nine weeks, with a stop in- never mind where."
"Nine weeks." He nodded with resignation. "I can handle nine weeks. And I have his word, for what it's worth, that he'll release me in Jamaica?"
"Yes. You may not trust Sherlock's word, but I trust him with my life. You'll get home to your ship; I give you my own word, sir."
Lestrade studied John's face intently. Apparently satisfied with the earnestness he saw there, he stood and dusted off his trousers as best he could manage.
"I'll hold you to that promise, John Watson."
Molly tired of waiting for Sherlock to return, and so she ventured out above alone. It was a cool late morning, and the waters were choppy. She found she walked easily over the decks after several days' practice. She found herself getting dizzy when she looked up at the intricate crisscrosses of ropes that connected the sails and controlled their speed. Watching the riggers do their work on the spars high above made her nervous, but it was amazing to watch the small Greek man, Melas, dart around fearlessly while shouting out crude jokes to Latimer and Forrester.
Molly craned her neck up to watch and laughed at one of the more off-color remarks.
"Not much of a lady then, are ya?"
Molly jumped at the voice that came from behind her. She spun around and found Donovan leaning against a wall and smoking a cigar. She was impressed again by the master gunner's body movements that perfectly mimicked a man's style. If she didn't know anatomy, she would have been totally fooled.
"I never claimed to be a lady. My father's a physician, not a lord."
"He's got a job then, yeah, so that makes you no different than us, does it." Dislike showed clearly Donovan's face.
"I didn't say that." Molly stepped back. "I didn't, I didn't say anything at all."
Donovan flicked the cigar stub over the railing. "What are you doing here with him?"
"What do you mean? I didn't have a choice, you know that. I want to go home."
"Oh do you? You look rather comfortable, if I do say so m'self. That's not wise."
Molly grew irritated. "It's none of your concern, Donovan."
"Stay away from Sherlock Holmes, miss. Next port, find another ship, get on it and go anywhere else. He's nothing but trouble for ya."
Anger rose up in her now. "How dare you. You don't know me at all. And I dare say I would not be safer on another ship full of strange men, alone. I'd think you would understand that better than anyone else here."
Donovan's eyes widened slightly and her throat moved as she swallowed repeatedly. She stared at Molly suspiciously for a moment, and then turned to leave.
"Wait, stop!" Molly reached out and grabbed Donovan's shoulder. The master gunner flinched and looked around to see if any of her crewmates had observed the exchange.
"Please, I'm sorry. I lost my temper. I shouldn't have- it's alright. I'm not going to tell anyone. I can understand why you would…hide. It can't be easy."
Donovan turned to face Molly, and resentment radiated from her expressive dark eyes. "You don't know anything about me or my life."
"No, I don't." She hesitated. "Why would you do this? There have to be easier ways to earn a living. You're obviously clever. And I saw you reading an inventory list, so you can read at least a little."
"Yeah I can read. It's not your business to know why I'm…like this, but…I'm trying to get back to where I belong. My captain, my real captain- not this rude freak who thinks he's better than everyone- got taken by the English, clapped in irons and sentenced to hang in London." Donovan's mouth twisted in remembered anger. "I thought that was the end, but then there was a delay with the hanging, and my captain escaped, caught a ship back to the Caribbean they say. So I need to get there. I'm doing my job, earning my way; it ain't nobody's business but mine. So keep your gob shut." There was a note of pleading in the master gunner's demand.
"Oh I will!" Molly said. "I'm sorry I said anything, I just got upset. It was stupid of me."
"Suppose I could have…been a bit less, you know." Donovan shrugged. "I get used to being like this all the time. It's easier to keep people away so they don't look at me too hard."
"I hope you get to where you want to be," Molly said, smiling tentatively. "Lucky there was a delay with the execution. The fates smiled on your captain, it seems."
"Pffft fates," Donovan waved it away. "We make our own luck. Fates had nothin' to do with the delay. My captain is right clever. They had to put off hanging her, you see, because she told them she was pregnant. And they believed her because they didn't have no choice, and she got away afore the doctors could tell for sure." Donovan laughed, a happy smile breaking out on her face.
Why I think she might actually be lovely under the dirt and roughness and anger, Molly thought.
"You think Sherlock Holmes is so brilliant, I know," Donovan said. "But there's no one as tricky as my captain." The master gunner laughed again, and lit another cigar as she strolled away from Molly.