In the St Barts Hospital's morgue the days flow to the lilting sound of a big and cheap clock hung on the wall.
Tic Tac, it whispers softly, as long as the daylight surrenders to the dusk.
Tonight the moon stands in a sky covered by pale and beating stars, enlighting empty streets and avenues owned only by the hoarse echoes of the dying day.
And here, under the weight of an intense, bluish LED lighting, Molly Hooper still works feverishly. Her long ponytail swings playfully, following the technical and redundant movements of her tiny body.
Cut, weigh, write down, sew up.
Like a mantra.
Like a nursery rhyme.
It's cold outside, and the daylight died down hours ago.
But in the morgue it's always cold, and the artificial flare of the neon lamps doesn't even remotely recall the sun's.
It's just a cruel and bland impression, a chilly glow that stains the walls and the rough, white sheets covering the bodies.
Day, night. It's irrelevant.
The dead who lie down on the steel tables don't (can't) even care anymore.
Molly stops, her eyes facing the clock. So warm and tender, those eyes. Two chocolate brushstrokes on the skin. The only colour left in all that suffocating white.
One minute to midnight.
Tic Tac, the clock's hands sigh in the air.
The waiting makes her fists shake, but the look on her face remains quiet, controlled, unreadable.
Molly doesn't even hear him coming in.
She just sees a long, soundless shadow weaving its way on the opposite wall.
No cracking noises of open or shutted doors, no footsteps touching the floor.
"He" stares at her now, while she replaces Mr. Henry Turner's organs (caucasian male, 60s, alcoholic, a single gunshot wound to the right temporal lobe, involved last night in a bar fight ended up in blood) in the empty and wet cavities left by her analysis.
Then it follows the ordinary change of gloves, and the acrid smell of the latex envelopes her nostrils all of a sudden, making her cough.
Her throat burns, tear drops glide down her face. And behind her...still just a heavy, stifling silence.
Molly slowly begins the stitching, but her right hand occasionally wavers, her fingers trembling around the needle.
Above and below, up and down, the string disappears and resurfaces between ashy inches of human flesh.
"Tic Tac" whispers Jim Moriarty, letting his thumb dance on Molly's shoulders, to the beat of the tired clock, caressing her neck. His hands are harsh on her, scorching like a brain fever, like the air of a moisty and lazy afternoon in a summer day. They slide so nicely, oh so easily, over the hollow of Molly's throat, brushing the jugular vein, then the carotids. Feeling her gone-crazy pulse, the frenetic rustling of flapping wings in her chest.
"I did miss you." he says, hiding his breath in her ear. The heat of Jim's lips soaks her sensitive skin, making Molly shiver under all that warmth.
And suddenly she whips around, avoiding his hands, grabbing both sides of his face with all her strength.
And then...she falls headlong in a dark, dusty pit; Moriarty's eyes, those alway too wide, always too intense eyes, trap her like a little bird eager to be caught, to be finally owned. A black, glassy cage is Jim's gaze. Liquid darkness clotted in gloomy pools of nothing.
Tic tac, the clock's hands repeat again, running slowly on the dial.
Jim's pale hands reach for hers, holding them tightly.
He smiles. Arching his lips, exposing the teeth. A wolf's grin in the shadowy woods.
It's too bright, his smile, too damn bright for that dreary room, filled by death and silence. It clashes like a flower on the asphalt.
But it's so beautiful. Oh, so beautiful. Molly would tear up that smile by dint of hungry and graceless kisses, painted-red bites on the tongue.
"Glad to see that you're in such good company."
Jim's eyes get past her shoulder, and an amused glimpse lights up those black pupils when they lay down on Mr. Turner's body, cutted in half by the cold light of the LED.
"Jim..." she whispers, holding even stronger his face, drowning trembling fingers in his skin.
"You're not happy to see me?" Jim interrupts, bringing closer their foreheads, tightening her waist in a forceful grip "I thought you'd be waiting for me."
Molly doesn't reply. She simply lays her head under Jim's chin, hiding from his inquiring gaze. He smells of soap and blood and fear, her Jim. The sweet and lovely scent of death surrounds him like a dusty halo, like a second skin.
And the almost animalistic grip that bits her hips becomes stronger, more desperate, skin-breaking as a shard of glass.
"The winter wind blows and the night is dark; Moans are heard in the linden trees. Through the gloom, white skeletons pass, running and leaping in their shrouds. Zig, zig, zig..." hums Jim is a sing-songy voice, abruptly staring and grinning at nothing, or maybe at something invisible to human, ordinary eyes. His fingers are lost in Molly's hair, caressing each strand, sliding through that golden brown sea like a wave.
"You wait for me since that day. Always waiting for me to come back to you. Isn't it, Molly?"
The look drawn on his features is focused, now, both sides of his face stretched in another creepy all-teeth smile, whose light doesn't reach the eyes. How distant are those black pupils, Molly thinks. How cold and lifeless they are, when he's not pretending, when the curtains are closed and there's no performance to act. No game to play.
His other hand brushes Molly's right waist, seeking for her pretty little fingers, intertwining them with his own once again.
And, like they do every other night, Jim Moriarty and Molly Hooper start to dance.
Slowly, quietly, tiptoeing even, like they're afraid of waking someone up. Their steps keep echoing in the heavy silence of the morgue, one foot in front of the other, tap tap tap, kissing the smooth surface of the floor.
Molly sighs, begins again to breathe, and leans over Jim's chest, closing her eyes, giving herself to that calm and loose rhythm, following Jim's movements, precise and on-time like a algebraic scheme, a theoretical demonstration. Elegant, in their perfection.
Then comes the music.
It invades the room and casts out the silence, sliding through the walls, spreading its flavour in every corner, anywhere.
They say delirium is a disease of the night. But how many nights Jim is back here? Molly doesn't even know. She never counts those. They come and they go like air in the lungs, nights like this.
And Molly would swear that the dead left unburied on the metal slabs almost sneer in the darkness. She can see their wide opened mouths maliciously laughing. And those other bodies closed in the cold chambres giggle and slam loudly their arms and feet against the freezing panels, trying to get out and join the dance.
Or maybe it could be just a morbid illusion, a sick and twisted game living inside Molly's head, after all.
Sometimes she thinks she's going mad, but doesn't tell anyone about it, because the spell would vanish forever, get lost in the sky like specks of dust, like those pastel dreams that fade in the early moments of the awakening.
She doesn't want to let him go. Not now, not ever.
Jim pulls her closer. There's nothing between them, no empty spaces to fill. He bends down his nose to take a breath in her hair and then lets down her thin locks with a tug, throwing the hair tie on the floor. He always liked her hair better this way, loose on the shoulders.
But the music is still playing, pumping in their ears and roaring in the chest like a cry.
And suddenly the sounds fade into silence, a cloud comes into Molly's eyes and they go blank. Because she looks at her hands still stuck in Jim's death grip, and she sees blood. His blood. Or maybe the blood of those innocent people (or not?) that he killed out of boredom. Chess pieces so expendable, so worthless.
It drips on her skin and meets her lab coat sleeves, painting them red, encrusting the white folds.
But she doesn't let go.
Her Jim...he always courted death and then laughed in her face, avoiding her abyss dancing on that thin line that divides the lowest mankind and the highest godhood.
So charming and changeable , the uncrowned king of a rotten and corrupted kingdom, fascinated by the decaying scent of human frailty.
And yet, in a may morning, James Moriarty said goodbye to the clear, endless sky and allowed himself to be caught by the oldest of his companions, embracing death like a lover, like a traveller going home, finally letting her in.
But Molly Hooper holds death in her hands everyday. She reaches the heart of the dead penetrating the depths of human flesh, bringing its hidden and kept parts to the light.
She doesn't fear death.
In the nightmare world of the morgue, Molly reigns free over sleeping bodies wrapped in white, those who are still waiting for the grave.
And James Moriarty was no exception. And he goes back to her every night, kissing the back of her palms and offering his hand to dance. Disappearing by dawn's light.
And maybe Molly is really losing her mind, because Jim's corpse lies down six feet under, covered by dirt and dark soil, his soft skin devoured by the ruthless passage of time.
But she likes to think that his lifeless remains are somewhat still in the world of the living, dressed of grass and little white flowers, those that encircle his tomb (no coffin, just naked ground) like a constellation.
And sometimes Molly walks by that pit buried in the woods, a desolate clearing without a name beside it, or even dates.
They just threw him there, without a funeral or a proper ceremony. But Jim would have wanted it that way, after all. He never loved goodbyes.
"It's almost time..." he whispers, and his calm voice brings Molly back in the present.
Gently, so gently, he touches her mouth and runs his fingers on her cheeks, then her chin, anchoring them at both sides of her swan-like neck.
There's the distance of a kiss between them.
And Molly's lips lean up towards his, waiting. But Jim just smirks wickedly.
"There's no rush..." he hums in her ear, biting sweetly the skin "I'm a patient man. I can wait."
And all at once his eyes seem to burn, like dark forests consumed by flames. There's a thick smell of ash and smoke in the air and the sudden ache in her chest goes to her head, making her shiver. She can feel the sharpy sounds of breaking bones, the fire, the choking pain of the damned.
"Sooner or later, you'll come back to me, Molly. I don't let go what's mine. And you, my dear, are mine forever. Those beautiful, white wings of yours...oh, they are going to be gracefully torn off your body, eaten up by the fire and spitted into the sky. The other angels will look for you, but they won't find you. Your darling Sherlock survived, on that roof, but you fell hard on the ground. You will follow me in Hell, because the devil is the one you're waiting for every night."
And it is true.
Molly knows she lost her soul.
At some point of her life Death will show up at her doorstep, taking her hand, respectfully escorting her on dusty carpets of purple and gold, bringing her home.
And Jim Moriarty will meet her there, in the darkest places of the world, finally giving her that long-awaited kiss, a cruel and sharp clash of teeth and blood. Sealing their eternal deal.
Tic tac, screams the clock, announcing the sunrise.
A warm light rises outside the cold walls of the St Barts Hospital, and the streets are filled by colours and sounds and life.
And Molly Hooper finds herself in the middle of the morgue, embraced to a fading ghost, and breaks down in tears.