Everyone was just so boring. It was depressing how little they even understood that their little lives were mindlessly repetitive and uninteresting.
Dressed in black head to toe, Moriarty reclined in the huge chair he'd insisted they haul onto the ship Thanatos. It was a long and punishing walk from the Canary Islands village they'd raided with the heavy piece of furniture. The crew was uncomfortable carrying such a large, heavy piece of wood, but the captain was almost skipping in delight as they headed back to the ship. His quarters on the ship were decorated with countless fascinating items from around the world, but it was seriously lacking in a great chair. Red velvet cushions piled onto the Canarian pinewood seat made for a grand throne. If only the entertainment was as satisfying.
He hummed, one leg thrown over the arm of the chair, the other tapping the floor restlessly.
"Boring, Bastian. I've seen this one before. Are you running out of ideas?" Jamie affected a pout, but the man kneeling on the floor in front of him didn't miss the dangerous glint in the captain's eyes.
Bastian lifted the small dagger away from the midsection of the bound young man he was about to torture. The tall blond frowned, but pushed the expression away quickly, knowing that Jamie Moriarty liked him best when he grinned and whistled as he worked on a body.
"He didn't lose his mind or try to kill himself after our first two sessions, like the others all did. Isn't it more boring when they break so nice and easy, captain?" His sharp blue eyes shone as he opened up on the wooden box by his knees to display the dizzying array of surgical tools. Bastian reached in and withdrew a long thin metal instrument with a pointed hook attached.
"A clockmaker in Sicily used to use this to repair delicate instruments without tearing them apart. Shall we open him up and take a look at how this fellow works?" Bastian chuckled, and a slow smile spread over Moriarty's face.
He raised his glass to toast his first mate. "Tick tock."
The afternoon was turning out to be more intriguing than it seemed at first. Jamie Moriarty relaxed in his throne, sipping a goblet of wine with a ghost of a smile on his lips as the blond began to strip away every trace of sanity from the young man on the floor.
"We'll arrive in Mayaguana tomorrow, for more water. It's fairly unoccupied, not likely to see any English popping over unannounced," John reassured Molly.
"Will the captain be going off the ship to take samples?" she inquired. "He's been, well, his mood has been tense and perhaps a bit of exploration would improve his manner."
"Yes, he's been a right bastard, I believe is what you mean," Lestrade said bluntly. He was crouched on the deck, hammering a peg into place. It appeared to be the beginnings of a simple crate. "Your captain is a right shit when he doesn't know all the answers."
"Oh I didn't mean to say that he was unbearable," Molly rushed out. "Only that he's much happier with intelligent stimulation and since encountering the other pirate ship and learning about Moriarty, we haven't made any progress this week. And I should like to sleep again. The violin playing at night has become a bit much."
"Oh is that a violin being played? I thought he was skinning alley cats in there." Lestrade grinned as he grabbed another handful of pegs. " How do you lot not bash him in the head when he's in these moods?"
"I used to want to," John responded. "But you get used to it, and eventually it's normal. And normal becomes strange. Up is down, down is up. Welcome to the Hudson." He grinned and bit into a rough chunk of bread.
"Well if he don't cut it out, I'm going to pitch his arse overboard and I won't be waiting until we're in shallow waters," Donovan called from the rail where she stood disposing of gunpowder that had gotten wet and useless.
She threw a dry smile toward Molly, and shrugged to show she wasn't seriously angry. The master gunner was no stranger to unusual pirate captains herself, Molly remembered. What must it have been like to serve under a woman commander? And did Donovan wear woman's clothing back then? She thought it might be rude to ask, but she was insatiably curious. They were the most fascinating group of people she'd ever known.
Most of all, the man who had captured her heart. He was pacing about their quarters at the moment, after his latest experiment resulted in nothing but a scorched hand. It had been a week since the pirate Hope and his crew were sent to the bottom of the sea. She had thought that his mood would improve with the new information about "Moriarty"- perhaps her Jamie Moriarty- and the past murders, but he had only grown testier as this lethal enemy took shape somewhere unseen.
Sherlock's mood was sour, but he came to her bed every night, though later and later as his frustrations grew. His touch was less tender, more urgent and demanding. His eyes burned fiercely when he took her, and last night, when he reached his climax inside her, he growled "All mine" against her ear. The roughness of his wanting excited her, but she missed the warm chatter he'd indulge her with after they came together. His entire being was focused on preparing for Moriarty's next maneuver, and it seemed that sweetness had been left behind for the time being.
Molly resolved to give him space to study and think without pestering him; she'd realized quickly that it was better for her to occupy herself when Sherlock got into that sort of mood. Today she'd decided to work on Basil's numbers out on deck, as the weather was mild, and John and Lestrade were around to keep her company.
The ship's surgeon and the former prisoner were sitting together comfortably as usual, with John occasionally criticizing the woodwork in progress. Lestrade would look at Molly, pinch his lips and roll his eyes. Molly saw how John's eyes would crinkle when he got a reaction of the other man.
"I can't do this," Basil complained, scratching out mid-added numbers on his paper. He was using scraps Molly had torn out of Juliette. She didn't care for the book too much, and saw this as a better use. She was immensely relieved that the boy couldn't read and had no idea what was happening in the words he was painfully writing numbers around.
"Yes, you can, Basil. You're doing just fine; it takes a great deal of practice." She peered at the simple math problems on the page. "These aren't etirely correct, but I'll do them with you."
The boy heaved a huge sigh, and cast his eyes longingly at the port side where Anderson was leading a game of dice among the off-duty men.
"Why can't I play that? I can if I want, you know." He pasted an unconvincing glare on his face.
"Because when you win, you won't be able to add it up right to see how much money you've won!" Molly said cheerily.
"Well isn't this cozy." The dry, cold voice cut through the relaxing moment.
"Sherlock!" Molly handed the pencil nub back to Basil and stood to greet the captain. She shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other, not sure how to greet him in front of people. He didn't seem to welcome open affection above decks.
His face was impassive. "Basil, fetch me ale and a plate of grub from the galley."
"Oh but we're almost done-"Basil ran off before Molly could complete the thought.
She sighed. Young boys, they'll take any excuse to avoid lessons.
Sherlock sat down beside Molly on the bench, one strong arm snaking around her back to squeeze her waist. She ducked her head blushing and hiding a pleased smile. Anderson and the gathered sailors elbowed each other, and snickered.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow at them, and the men all looked away, eyes suddenly innocent and blank.
Molly took the opportunity to ask a favor. "I'd been hoping that at the next port I could mail another letter to Papa."
The frown-wrinkle between Sherlock's eyes appeared. Anderson broke into a guffaw.
"Another letter? Please. What sort of prisoner gets to post letters? Letter, my arse."
Sherlock glared at the sailing master, and Molly joined him. "We sent my papa a letter from Scilly. Sherlock had the man at the shop do it for us. It is none of your concern though."
"Are we supposed to believe he really posted a letter from the female he kidnapped?" Anderson's voice rang with scorn and doubt was written in his ratlike face.
"Of course he did. Right, Sherlock?" Molly turned to the captain, and a flash of guilt showed on his face before his smooth, unreadable expression returned.
"Yes, that's right." He smiled tightly.
But it was too late. She'd seen the surprise and something almost like fear run through his eyes before he'd covered it with his usual mask.
"Sherlock. Did you post the letter to Papa? Please, don't lie." Her eyes were huge and full of hope.
Lie, everything inside him said. She won't like you anymore. God knows why she did in the first place. It's for the best. Let her go.
He controlled every muscle in his body into stillness.
"You forgot what I was, Molly."
Her mouth opened but no words came out.
"Your drunken father doesn't deserve your consideration anyway. It probably took him days to even notice you were missing and only then because he needed money or a job came up."
Molly bit down on her lips and backed away. She began to shake her head, and tears welled up in her eyes.
"I didn't forget who you were. Maybe I forgot who I was. Oh heavens, I am so stupid. Why do I trust people?" She fled down the stairs.
"Sherlock, you arse, follow her!" John urged him.
"Why? I know where she's going- obviously to our quarters. Can't be bothered at the moment anyway."
He strode across the deck to grab Anderson by the arms and haul him to standing. Without preamble, he laid into the sailing master with his fist. He got in three heavy punches to the man's face before John, Lestrade and a muscular deckhand dragged him away from Anderson.
Sherlock pulled himself from their grasp, and stared in incredulous surprise at them. His eyes flashed for a moment before he lifted his chin and strode away, out of sight.
Lestrade and the sailor looked at each other nervously. They had no standing on the Hudson. The consequences could be considerable or they could be nonexistent; Sherlock's moods were mercurial that way.
Basil turned up a minute later, holding a platter of food and drink. Spotting John tending to Anderson's bleeding nose and mouth, the cabin boy groaned.
"Oh bollocks, I missed a brawl! This day is right foul. Where the bloody cap'n get off to now?"
Sherlock knocked on the door to his cabin politely, the soft sound contrasting the angry energy visible in the rest of his movements.
"No! Piss off! You tosser! You liar!" Molly shouted from within.
"Excellent cursing, but open the door. I designed the locks, I can open them easily. I'd rather you unlocked it though, and spare me the annoyance of putting the mechanisms back together again tonight."
"Go away. I'm…I'm in bed."
"No, you aren't, you're clearly standing to the right of the table. I can hear the creak as you lean on it, probably to take off your shoes. Were you going to throw them at me?"
"No, but thank you for the idea." Her footsteps landed heavily as she stormed to the door, unlocked it and threw it open.
"Are you-"She was cut off for the second time that day as Sherlock swooped in and covered her mouth with his.
I thought you were going to let her go, his mind whispered at him.
Shut up, you prat, he responded to his self.
Molly yanked herself away from him, her eyes glazed over and dilated, her lips wet. "I don't want you to do that. You lied, and I was dumb enough to trust you, and I want to go home."
"I don't want you to go home. You need to stay here with me." Sherlock surprised himself with the response, but he pushed ahead regardless. It made no sense, but it felt right to say what he had said.
"He doesn't deserve you- your father. You save him every day and he doesn't appreciate it, and your gifts are used to keep him in spirits. You go to parties and in rooms full of hundreds of people, you're still alone. You read and learn in secret. It's stupid and it's boring and you shouldn't do it. You should…not be there," he finished clumsily. His customary, rapid-fire, intelligent stream of words had vanished. He was terrible at feelings. He just knew he wanted her to stay on his ship where they could study things and have sex and have her scent in his nose every day. Moriarty and danger be damned.
"Additionally, Basil lacks skill with mathematics. He needs you to stay." Sherlock looked embarrassed by his rambling outpouring.
Molly stared at Sherlock, noticing the pinkness in his cheeks, the frequent movement of his throat as he swallowed nervously, and the way his eyes darted more. Living with him had taught her to see the world and people in a new way. He was nervous. And scared.
She felt some of her rage fade away. It hurt but he hadn't said anything about her father or her life that was untrue. The only lie was the letter.
She tugged on her braid and stared at his chest as she spoke. "Sherlock, you're so different than anyone I've ever known. Papa is very flawed. I know. But I can't desert him and let him believe I'm dead. I have to go back. After that…I don't know. I just don't know. You don't understand about having loved ones."
He pulled her close, wrapping his arms tightly around her and burying his nose in her hair. She allowed herself to relax and enjoy the embrace, though she was unhappy with the deception.
He smelled like salty sea air and lemons and the mint paste concoction he'd created to clean his mouth. Molly couldn't imagine living back in London and not having his body and scent rubbing against hers every day.
He murmured something against her hair, and Molly cocked an ear up. "What's that?"
"Nothing, I said nothing." He put an end to questions by pressing his lips to hers, and kissing her until she didn't care about anything but the way they fit together, bodies humming with potential.
She could've sworn that what he'd said so softly against her hair sounded like, "I do understand."