She's pressing the fiber-thin edge of the blade to the dead woman's skin when it happens again.
Thrumming through the tunnels of vein, pulling from fingertips and organs still as winter lakes. Flooding the muscle buried beneath the sparrow-delicate sternum.
Irene Adler blinks.
"Oh," says Molly, more out of habit than surprise, "hello, then."
She listens to the rush of air passing through her patient's shattered trachea. Chest rising again.
"You were about to cut me up like a film strip," says Irene.
Molly notices, with a hint of bitterness, that the rasp now undercutting her voice only increases her appeal. The Woman would be smiling, she was sure of it, if she still had lips.
"Not quite," Molly answers, because why glamorize?
"Take out the parts that don't work for you," Irene continues, "rearrange the ones you like."
She's definitely smiling.
Molly puts the knife down, resting it between the bone saws.
"You do know I used to love the fact that my patients couldn't talk."
Irene shrugs, gristle popping. "So did I. The ones who needed it."
The inside of Molly's gloves are uncomfortably warm and sticky with sweat, but she leaves them on. "Sherlock?"
The body on the table starts shaking at that, and creaking, and Molly realizes that Irene's laughing. "Sherlock Holmes?"
"He recognized you," she says, and then wants to take it back because it's an accusation, isn't it?
"Lots of people recognize me. Why do you think I'm here?"
"No," says Molly, willing herself to stop, "he RECOGNIZED you."
Irene's eyes are scanning her viciously, cataloguing in a way that's disturbingly familiar. "And now, so will you."
The Woman runs her fingers over her own raw muscle and bone and the lump of cartilage that was her nose. "This means I can specialize, you know," she says, "extreme body modification."
"Most of you just get reconstructive surgery," says Molly.
Irene brightens. "Do we? Of course, I'm not the first."
"I don't do anything," Molly says, quickly, "it just happens. Sometimes."
Irene sits up, and it's much too graceful, considering. "Only when you're around," she says.
Molly swallows, throat thick, hand smoothing the invisible strays at the root of her ponytail. "Yes."
The Woman crosses her legs and drops her chin into the curve of her palm. With the merciless beam of the examination lamp directly behind her head, she glows around the edges. Her body is as lovely as her face is wrecked, and Molly wonders if perhaps she shouldn't be thinking along those lines about someone who should, in every respect, still be dead. "We're quite a pair, you and I," says Irene.
The other woman exhales; it's perhaps one fifth of a laugh. "Sorry?"
"We take people apart."
"Bodies," says Molly.
Irene might be smiling again. "People."
That spring, Molly sits in the morgue with the body of Sherlock Holmes, cracked open on the pavement, and waits.