Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson found themselves on the promenade this particular evening. They were on an ocean liner, the RMS Majestic headed for America. Mr. Holmes had received a telegram requesting his assistance in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition. While the case itself was of little interest to Mr. Holmes, the chance to attend the Exposition with his way paid was one he could not pass up.
Sherlock admired a large Irish setter being paraded around the deck. Dr. Watson noticed a rare smile brush his friend’s countenance. “Something caught your eye Sherlock?”
“Yes, that’s quite a handsome dog.” Sherlock responded, following the canine with his eyes. “Were I more inclined to the country I would not mind to have such a companion.” Sherlock replied, lighting his pipe as he walked over to the railing. The sun had just set, the waves of the Atlantic lulled the ship gently. It was lucky that they were traveling in the summer and had no need to worry about icebergs. The trip from Liverpool to New York would take around one week. Mr. Holmes was not fond of the cramped quarters, but, as always he did enjoy the people watching that kept his active mind so entertained.
“Indeed. What a beautiful coat that creature possessed. I do wonder though. Wherever do they relieve themselves on this vessel?” Dr. Watson supposed.
Sherlock bit down on his pipe. “Those dogs are better cared for than most of the people on this ship.”
“I cannot argue with that.” Dr. Watson fiddled with his bowler. “Well, I suppose I will see you in the lounge later Sherock.”
“Hmm.” Was all Sherlock gave as a response, staring wistfully towards the sea. He stood there for an indeterminate amount of time, allowing the constantly spinning wheels in his head to run. He was in fact so lost in thought that he failed to notice a diminutive woman had taken up residence at the rail a few meters to his side.
“How dare you walk out on our dinner!” A male voice cut into Sherlock’s mind palace like a steel blade.
“I will not sit idly by whilst people are being denigrated and belittled.” The female answered equally as strongly.
Sherlock turned to the two people arguing next to him. The male was obviously very embarrassed to be in this predicament, the woman as well, however she stood proud and sure of herself.
“Margaret, I will not have my fiancé disrespecting me in front of our company and the servants!” The male had moved closer to the woman, grabbing her upper arm and attempting to shush her.
“As it stands, Thomas, I will not have MY fiancé grabbing me like a piece of meat and speaking to me as though I an adolescent and not a grown women.” She countered, flinging his arm off of her. She gathered her dignity, turned her nose up, and marched past the man, returning to the dining room.
Thomas gripped the handrail, breathing heavily, his teeth grinding together, his knuckles turning white. He released his breathe and turned, meeting Sherlock’s gaze. “Women.” Thomas said, giving Sherlock a knowing smile, which was not returned. Thomas turned and followed the path Margaret had just taken.
Sherlock found himself smiling as he replayed the events in his head of Margaret standing up for herself. A shadow crossed his brow as he recalled how Thomas had grabbed her. At that memory, Sherlock found himself inexplicably drawn to join the rest of first class in the dining hall; an event he usually avoided at all costs.
Mr. Holmes handed his hat to the attendant upon entering the dining hall. The Tiffany Favrile chandeliers moved ever so slightly as the ship bobbed through the ocean.
“Mr. Holmes,” the man bowed ever so slightly. “Dr. Watson has not arrived yet sir. May I escort you to your table?”
“Not at present. I am searching for a couple whose acquaintance I made earlier this day. A Thomas and Margaret?” Sherlock asked, wrinkling his brow in question.
“Ah yes. Thomas Marshall and Margaret Hooper. They are of course seated with Dr. and Mrs. Rogers, and Lord and Lady Cunningham. Shall I escort you sir?”
“No thank you. If you would kindly point me in their direction I would be much obliged.”
The attendant pointed over to the port side of the hall, near the staircase. Sherlock spotted the pair. Thomas was wound up like a clock, he could tell from this far back; gulping down a neat scotch. Margaret though, she was beaming. She was excitedly talking with her hands and directing her attention to one of the gentleman at the table. Curious. Was Thomas jealous? Sherlock studied the scene more carefully. No. Angry and embarrassed. Eager to leave. And Margaret; was she interested in this gentleman she was speaking to? No. No physical signs of arousal, peaked curiosity though. Whatever she was speaking to this man about, she was very passionate.
Sherlock had moved close enough at this point to hear.
“Indeed Dr. Hooper. I know what I am about to say may seem radical and unpopular, but I wholeheartedly agree with you. As a man, there is only so much I can learn in the books about female conditions. Whereas you have firsthand experience with them. I for one welcome the fairer sex into our occupation.” The man who Sherlock surmised was Dr. Rogers stated, raised his glass.
Margaret smiled and raised hers towards him as well.
“Dr. Hooper.” Thomas scoffed and downed the rest of his drink.
Sherlock wanted to throw that glass in his face.
Molly looked down and away, her cheeks flushed in anger. Her eyes were becoming glassy.
“Lord and Lady Cunningham!” Sherlock yelled cheerfully towards the table.
The older couple turned to look towards him.
“So nice to see you again.” Sherlock stuck out his hand towards the older man. “We met at my parent’s estate, Musgrave, some years ago.”
“Mr. Holmes.” Lady Cunningham said, seeming to remember the family name that the estate was associated with.
“Ah Mr. Holmes! Wonderful to see you. You were a boy when we last met. I see that memory is as good as ever.” Lord Cunningham gripped his hand firmly and turned to the rest of the table.
Sherlock smiled. He had never met these people before in his life; however he knew that they would not chance looking like they had forgotten another member of the peerage.
“Please, everyone, this is the son of Lord and Lady Holmes. Mr…?”
“Sherlock.” He took a moment to make eye contact with everyone at the table, stopping when he met Margaret’s gaze. “Sherlock Holmes.” He bowed slightly.
Lord Cunningham took it upon himself to make the introductions. “Here we have Dr. And Mrs. Rogers, and Thomas Marshall and his fiancé, Dr. Margaret Hooper.”
If Thomas had any inclination to scoff once more, he wisely kept it to himself.
“Two doctors at one table? What a delight. I am also traveling with a Dr. John Watson. I am expecting him to join me any moment.”
Mrs. Rogers joined the conversation, “What do you do, Mr. Holmes?”
“I am the world’s only consulting detective. I’m traveling to Chicago to help the police officers there.” Sherlock responded.
“Consulting detective? That is not an occupation.” Thomas slurred across the table.
“Oh I assure you, it is. They give me money and everything. And in what profession are you gainfully employed Mr. Marshall?”
“I’m a banker.” Thomas puffed out his chest ever so slightly.
Lord Cunningham took this opportunity to cut off the pissing contest before it grew out of control.
“Well Mr. Holmes, we hope to see more of you this week. Will you be taking in the theater tomorrow evening?”
Sherlock took a moment to flick his eyes towards Margaret. She was waiting to see what his answer would be.
“Indeed I shall.” He responded.
“Sherlock?” A smaller man approached, his mustache twitching.
“Ah, the aforementioned Dr. John Watson has arrived. I shall take leave of you and I look forward to seeing much more of all of you this week. Gentleman. Ladies.” He once again made eye contact with Margaret. He turned to join Dr. Watson.
Sherlock briefly discusses things with John, and then "runs into" Dr. Hooper in the library.
Rainy day=nice long chapter
I love these two. Also it's really great to finally find a use for my own broken engagement so many years ago.
I am already writing the next chapter. Thanks for everyone who leaves comments and kudos :)
Sherlock and John found themselves in the smoking lounge once they departed the dining hall.
“Hmmm…case getting to you?” John asked, biting down on his pipe.
“You could say that.” Holmes responded, staring off into space, puffing his own pipe.
“We still have weeks until we get to Chicago and a scant amount of evidence, I wouldn’t preoccupy yourself to greatly with it just yet.”
“Ah, the case in Chicago. Quite simple, solved it already. Just wanted to attend the Exposition. Ex-lover, secret passage in the house. Simple. No. Watson, a most interesting case has revealed itself to me on this very ship.” Sherlock turned to look at his friend.
“Will you be indulging me at present, or do you desire to leave an air of mystery about you” Watson asked, swirling his brandy.
“I think I shall like to keep this case private for now. But rest assured, if I require your opinion, I shall let you know.” Holmes drank his own cognac and retreated to his mind palace.
Molly sought refuge from the constant social events she was being forced to attend. The library thus far had remained her secret refuge from Thomas and Lady Cunningham. While she appreciated that the older woman was attempting to help her ease into proper society, it was exhausting. So many rules to remember; so much etiquette and decorum. Molly sighed and took in a deep breathe. She began to choke, a cloud of pipe smoke entering her lungs. Apparently, she was not alone in here this morning.
“Beg your pardon miss. I did not know anyone else would be in here this morning.” A baritone voice replied from one of the wing-back chairs.
It was a lie, of course; Sherlock had deduced she would be in the library after the church service. Clearly she, like him, required time away from large crowds to quiet her mind.
“Oh, pardon me, sir. Please, don’t let me intrude upon your leisure time.” Molly stated, turning to leave.
“Dr. Hooper? Is that you?” Sherlock stood up from the chair and walked around it to face her.
“Mr. Holmes,” Molly smiled, both pleased to see the familiar face from last night and that he had actually used her proper title; no one else ever did. “it is very nice to see you again.” She stood there, smoothing her day dress.
“The pleasure belongs to me. Have you come here to read? I don’t mean to intrude on your solitude if that is the case.” Sherlock picked up his pipe as if to leave.
“You needn’t leave on my account Mr. Holmes. I came here to escape the hustle and bustle, but I do not mind your company. However, “ Molly’s face blushed as though she had just remembered something, “I do not believe it is proper for the two of us to be in here together without a chaperone. If Thomas or Lady Cunningham found out…”
“Well, I will leave the decision up to you, always” Sherlock added for emphasis, hoping she noticed, “however I can assure you that I have no intention of running and telling either of them any time soon, and I am a gentleman. I will make no untoward advances towards you Dr. Hooper.” Unless you wanted me to, Sherlock thought to himself, immediately chastising his indecorous brain.
“Please, call me Molly.” The petite doctor smiled. “Although I must admit, it is nice to hear someone actually call me Dr.”
“Of course. It’s a title you’ve earned, please call me Sherlock.” Sherlock bowed ever so slightly.
“May I ask you a question Mr. Hol…Sherlock?”
“Of course, Molly.” Sherlock delighted in how her Christian name sounded on his tongue.
“Everyone else I meet seems either shocked or disgusted when they hear I’m a doctor, it is a queer profession for a woman, I know, yet is doesn’t seem to bother you one bit. May I ask why?”
Sherlock considered this for a moment. “I will answer your question if you promise to answer one of mine.”
“Alright,” Molly extended her hand, “it is a deal.”
Sherlock shook it. “I do not think it strange for you to be a doctor as you are indeed quite intelligent. More intelligent than several of the male doctors I am acquainted with. It is unfortunate indeed that societal notions are so antiquated that they have served to exclude half our population from so many rights and privileges.”
Molly smiled shyly.
“Also, as Dr. Rogers so astutely pointed out at dinner last night, the common sense that women have to offer concerning their own bodies and experiences is invaluable. The medical profession would be foolish to ignore it.”
“Thank you Sherlock. It is refreshing to encounter a person with such forward thinking ideas.”
“Certainly. Will you continue to practice after your marriage?” Sherlock asked as delicately as possible, fiddling with his pocket-watch.
Molly wrung her hands; clearly his question had hit a nerve. “I’m uncertain. Thomas doesn’t approve of my profession, nor the fact that I even went to university.”
“I suspected as much, which brings me to my question that is part of our bargain.” Sherlock began, “I am not trying to be indelicate, but I must wonder why you are marrying Thomas as it seems he disrespects you so.”
Molly stood there for a second, at war with herself. She turned to leave, her face turning red. Then she stopped herself, turning back towards Sherlock.
“That is a very improper question Mr. Holmes.”
“Indeed. You of course, don’t have to answer it. I am a total stranger to you, you are not beholden to my request.” Sherlock bowed slightly and made to return to his wing-back chair. He sat and began to open one of his case files.
Molly stood there for another moment, a battle being waged inside herself. It was improper. The whole business. She ought not be speaking to this man in the first place without a chaperone. And how dare he ask her such a personal question. It was the height of impropriety. Gentleman indeed! And yet, shouldn’t she be able to defend her upcoming nuptials? Did they not have a bargain?
Molly sighed and walked over to a chair across from Sherlock.
“Forgive me. Your question merely took me by surprise. “
“I did not mean to offend you. I am, as you may recall, a detective. I am interested in facts and ideas about people.”
“Yes, of course. And, we did have a bargain. I am a woman of my word. However, I must ask that for propriety’s sake, none of what I am about to tell you leave this room.” Molly looked around, making sure no one else was in the library that she may have not perceived before.
“I would never betray your trust Molly.” Sherlock responded, his deep voice resounding with sincerity.
“I have no great affection for Mr. Marshall. However, I am a woman past the prime of what have been deemed my marriageable years. I have little interest in such matters and had assumed until late that I would be spinster, married to my work as a ladies’ doctor. I had esteemed to save up throughout my years of working so that I would indeed be my own benefactor in my old age and be dependent on no man nor future child. My father passed away several years ago from a disease of the lungs. My mother is unwell and I will likely not see her again. My brother and sister have families of their own. They have all come to state as of late what an utter embarrassment and failure they feel I am, both as a relation and as a woman. My brother set me up with Thomas, they are colleagues. I have no desire to disgrace my family. And I’m sure I could learn to love him one day. Especially if I am no longer a doctor. That is the only quality of mine that he abhors, and once it is gone I am sure he will find me a satisfactory partner.” Molly didn’t realize that she had begun to cry, the tears betraying her body. Sherlock handed her a handkerchief.
“None of them deserve you.” Sherlock said quietly.
“Pardon?” Molly said, gently dabbing at her nose, so as not to seem indelicate.
Sherlock sat up straight and looked her right into her tear-stained eyes. “I said, none of them deserve you. You are better than your family and you are better than Mr. Marshall.”
Molly cried even more at that. “Oh Mr. Holmes, please don’t say such dreadful things.”
“They are dreadful and they are true. You are a smart woman who any many would be lucky to have for a partner. And if you were my sister, I would be extremely proud of you. Clearly your family has no grasp of the rigors of medical school or the dedication it takes to earn one’s degree. I challenge you Molly, use that intellect of yours and ask yourself if this is what you really desire. I for one think it is a shame for a brain as developed as yours to go to waste being a wife and mother.” Sherlock sat there watching the small woman in front of him trying to hold back her tears. Molly was likely a few years younger than he, with a delicate face that while not beautiful, was very pretty. Her mouth was a bit small for her face, but...Sherlock caught his thoughts becoming unchaste once more and returned his gaze to her eyes.
“Thank you Sherlock for your kind words. But the engagement has been announced. If I was an embarrassment to my family before, a broken engagement would be the literal death of my mother, and would bring such a shame onto my family, it would cause a distress which I could not bear.” Molly dabbed her eyes and cursed herself for how easily these tears had fallen and how quickly the truth had spilled from her lips. She didn't know why, but she trusted the man sitting before her. She felt an aching in her stomach that she could not explain.
“Molly. I am no expert in romances, engagements, or any of these societal games that people play, but I do know people. I am an expert. You do not wish to get married. Do not lie to yourself. I did not mean to upset you, I assure you of that. But it filled me with great anger last evening the way Mr. Marshall disrespected you. All I ask is that you consider an alternative view of what your life may look like. Do not forsake yourself and your integrity in the name of all others. And I do believe I hear someone approaching this library so I shall make my exit. I will see you at the theater tonight Dr. Hooper.” Sherlock stood as a young couple entered the library. He tipped his hat towards them and exited.
Molly sat there for several more minutes, collecting herself. Sherlock, she smiled as she fondly recalled his christian name. He had challenged her today in a way she had not expected. She had shut her mind off to all other avenues the moment that her brother had forced her on her first outing with Thomas. She had wanted so badly to do right by her family, she was willing to put her own feelings aside. And now, this man, this stranger who she had just met, had made it all seem so easy. Hope was a scary thing. A thing that Molly had left on the streets of London several months ago. And here it was, in a library in the middle of the Atlantic, thanks to Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock was in his quarters, dressing for the theatre.
“Alright, out with it!” John shouted from his bed where he had been reading and trying to ignore his friend getting dressed in tops and tails.
“What are you on about?” Sherlock responded, adjusting his bow tie.
“You never attend the theatre. Your mother makes you go as your Christmas gift to her and yet here you are, tickets in hand, ready to go. And I found you in the dining hall last night. The Dining hall! You never dine in the dining hall!” John yelled, mustache twitching.
“And indeed, I still have yet to do so.” Sherlock remarked, running a comb through his curls to slick them back.
“Do not attempt to change the subject Holmes. I desire to know what secret you are harboring. Hmmm I shall engage in a deduction or two of my own. You have found a companion on this vessel.”
“I am not finished. A companion whose identity you don’t wish for me to know about. Because, she, or he?”
“She” Sherlock betrayed his own secret while gritting his teeth and giving John an irritated look.
“She is hideous?”
“No. No. you are not ashamed of her. You are fond of her. She is married!”
Sherlock looked away, schooling his reaction.
“No, not married. Engaged. She is engaged. Sherlock Holmes! You devil! You are corrupting a virtuous woman. And furthermore, you do not wish for me to know as you don’t want to tarnish her reputation. Such chivalry.” Watson stated the last two words, dripping with sarcasm.
“Please. I’ve hardly touched the woman other than to shake her hand and give her a handkerchief.” Sherlock rolled his eyes then checked his watch.
“And you’ve made her cry. Really Sherlock. I thought you didn’t engage in romantic entanglements.”
“As I’ve been trying to tell you John, I have not made any intentions towards the lady yet. She is a woman if high intellect who is engaged to a man who is disrespectful of her and who is beneath her. It is a waste to society to see her chained to such a man who would endeavor to quash such a brain as hers. “
“Really? You honestly believe that is why you are interfering in a young lady’s life?” Watson asked, incredulously. “Do you know how many women marry ill-suited men every day and you have never taken notice?”
Sherlock shrugged. “When you see such an occurrence take place right before your own eyes, it is difficult to ignore such an indecency. Also, your deductive skills have improved remarkably as of late.” Sherlock put his top hat on, adjusting it in the mirror.
“Thank you Holmes. However, I would encourage you to not meddle in other people’s affairs, especially when you have no intentions toward this woman and are offering her false hope.” Watson stated. While his friend was certainly intelligent in a great many things, matters of the heart and delicacy towards feelings were not one of them.
“What on earth are you talking about? I have offered her no promises of my affection, nor made any declarations of any sort towards her other than that of respect towards her profession and her devotion to her studies. She is a doctor of medicine, like you. It does her little good to waste her life in a marriage to a person who will not let her practice in a profession which she has devoted herself. No, the marital bed and motherhood are no place for that woman.”
“Hmm…and yet, you have no feelings towards this most exceptional woman yourself? No ulterior motives for encouraging this engagement to cease?” Watson asked, knowingly.
“You know I am married to my work. While I acknowledge that even I am prone to feelings on occasion, despite my attempts to be completely detached, they are not a thing which I have any desire to cultivate with any person other than an occasional friendship. I would be a terrible partner for anybody. Now, if you will excuse me Dr. Watson, I have a show to attend.”
“Mr. Holmes!” Lord Cunnigham stood to welcome the taller man as he arrived at the balcony.
“Lord Cunningham, Lady Cunningham.” Sherlock greeted them, removing his hat.
“You recall Mr. Marshall and Miss Hooper,” Lady Cunningham gestured towards the younger couple sitting to her right.
“Indeed, good evening to you both.” Sherlock gave a tight smile, Thomas gave a nod of his head and Molly gave him a nervous look. A warning? He wasn’t sure.
Thomas swirled his brandy. “Where on earth is that attendant?” He spat out.
“I’m sure he will be along in just a minute Mr. Marshall,” Lady Cunningham said in a placating voice, giving her husband a knowing glance.
“Indeed, here he is now.” Sherlock added.
“Your hat sir?” The usher asked Sherlock.
“Yes, thank you so much.” Sherlock handed it over.
“Get me another drink, boy” Thomas’s voice cut through the balcony. Molly looked down, her cheeks becoming red.
“Right away Mr. Marshall.” The man responded, not even flinching, he was used to hearing such harsh language on a daily basis.
A moment of awkward silence passed.
“What is the show this evening Lady Cunningham?” Sherlock asked, to the relief of everyone.
“It is a musical by Mssrs. Gilbert and Sullivan, the HMS Pinafore. I have seen it before at the Opera Comique before. It is lighthearted and gay. It is so interesting and wonderful that they are able to perform it on the ship.”
“For the amount we’re paying, it’s the least they could do.” Thomas grumbled from his seat.
Lady Cunningham appeared mortified, as did Molly.
The attendant arrived with a brandy for Thomas. Sherlock took the drink from the man and discreetly informed him to bring no more drinks to the box while tipping him a generous amount for his complicity.
“Do you enjoy the theater, Mr. Marshall?” Sherlock asked, taking a seat next to the man.
“It really depends. For the most part I feel it to be a waste of time.” Thomas
“Indeed. Here, your drink arrived.” Sherlock made to hand the drink to Thomas as he let it spill onto the other man’s lap. Thomas leapt up.
“Blast it all!”
“Oh my, I am so sorry about that. Let me help you with that,” Sherlock grabbed his handkerchief and went to clean Thomas’s lap for maximum effect.
“Get your hands away from me!” Thomas shrieked, before he could help himself. “I mean No,Thank you, for the offer, but I believe I will retire for the evening.” Thomas looked up towards the rest of his companions. “Please, enjoy the play.” Thomas took his own handkerchief out and began to pat his groin area while backing out of the balcony section.
“Well, hopefully that will be an end to any theatrics outside of the play.” Lord Cunningham remarked.
“Indeed.” Lady Cunningham agreed. “Please Mr. Holmes, sit down. The show is getting ready to begin.”
And Molly knew that the proper thing to do would be to protest, to insist on going and checking on Thomas. But all she felt was a desire to thank Mr. Holmes. Instead she sat next to him for the next two hours watching a musical whose central plot was about a broken engagement and love between social classes. Molly felt her body becoming uneasy and warm. She found herself stealing glances at Mr. Holmes when she thought no one would notice.
Sherlock noticed. And he began to wonder if John might have been right about some things.
The show ended to a standing ovation.
“I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much,” Molly said to her companions. Sherlock noticed a flush to her skin and a twinkle in her eyes that he hadn’t observed before.
“Indeed, Gilbert and Sullivan are always a delight.” Lady Cunningham agreed.
“Gentleman, Ms. Hooper and I will be retiring for the evening. Harold," She squeezed Lord Cunningham’s hand, “I shall see you in the morning. Mr. Holmes, it was a pleasure.”
“It was all mine, Lady Cunningham,” Sherlock bowed. “Dr. Hooper, very nice to see you again as well.”
“Likewise Mr. Holmes,” Molly responded, blushing slightly as Lady Cunningham pulled her gently by the elbow to escort her back to her chambers. Sherlock found himself watching her rich chestnut colored hair disappear through the balcony curtain.
“Mr. Holmes, would you care to join me in the lounge? I like to have a drink and a smoke before bed.” Lord Cunningham invited.
“Of course, I would be delighted.”
The two gentlemen ambled down the hallway towards the lounge.
“I wonder Mr. Holmes, what business brings you to America?” Lord Cunningham inquired.
“I have been summoned to solve a murder in Chicago, but I must admit to you, I am mostly going to attend the Columbian Exposition. “
The two men entered the lounge and sat across from one another on leather davenports.
Mr. Cunningham lit his cigar, Sherlock his pipe, and they sat in comfortable silence for a few moments.
“Lord Cunningham. Forgive me for being so forward, but I must know. How was it that Dr. Hooper and Mr. Marshall came to be engaged and on this ship?” Sherlock chanced asking, hoping not to rouse too much curiosity from his smoking companion.
Mr. Cunningham gave Sherlock a long, hard look; holding the cigar smoke in for several seconds before expelling it in one long breathe.
“He is sailing to America to try his hand at working on Wall Street. Ms. Hooper’s mother and brother entreated my wife to act as chaperone once they found out we would be on this ship as well. Ms. Hooper’s mother is not well enough to travel, and the Marshalls will be establishing themselves in the States. As for the engagement, it has not been along one from what I understand. The Lady would know more, women’s business. However I know the two of them were not acquainted prior to their engagement.”
“Hmmm.” Sherlock responded, biting down own his pipe.
“Although, between you and me, I do not think it is a good match. And, I’ll indulge you since you seem a decent fellow and I know your family: the Lady does not believe so either. Were we still in London I believe she would make her concerns known to the family of Ms. Hooper. Mr. Marshall is a drunkard. While it is not expected for all men to hold their wives in affection, it is improper of him to behave in such a way when he is to be an established business man.” The older man confided.
“And why had no one courted Dr. Hooper prior to Mr. Marshall?” Sherlock pressed his luck.
“Once again, the details of any of that business would be found with my wife. However, I would venture to guess it has something to do with the nonsense of her being a doctor.”
“Indeed. It is unfortunate that so many old-fashioned notions exist. Forgive me Lord Cunningham, we will agree to disagree on that matter.” Sherlock quickly amended.
“It’s alright. I’d never begrudge a man for speaking his mind.” The older man swirled his brandy. “Have you taken a wife?”
Sherlock was surprised by that question. “No. The occasion has not presented itself, I am married to my work.”
“If I may speak plainly, I have grown very fond of my wife over the past forty years we have had together. I would encourage you Mr. Holmes, seek companionship. Your work will not keep your bed warm nor be there to speak with you after a hard day. It won’t bear you children, and it won’t nurse you when you are ill.” He finished the rest of his brandy. “Well, thank you for indulging in an old man’s wistfulness.”
Sherlock gave the man a kind smile. While he had no use for such notions as love and children, he knew better than to chide the average man for indulging in such pursuits.
Molly brushed her hair and examined herself in the mirror. Her heart was racing. Mr. Holmes. Mrs. Molly Holmes. No. Doctor Margaret Holmes. It had such a nice ring to it. She smiled. And then immediately felt like an imbecile. There was no sense wishing for things that could not be. And it was foolish to indulge in such nonsense.
However, Molly could have sworn Sherlock spilled the drink on purpose. No, she was overthinking things. She had been bewitched by Sherlock’s deep voice and his unruly black curls trying to escape his slicked back hairstyle. She felt very naughty at that exact moment as she recalled Sherlock’s voice and countenance. There was no way he had endeavored to force Thomas to leave the theater earlier tonight. But. What if he had? Molly felt her face blush and found herself thinking about the next time she might be able to see Sherlock Holmes.
The next morning Holmes and Watson were enjoying toast and coffee in the dining hall.
“You were out late last night” John stated.
“I suppose.” Sherlock responded, sipping his coffee.
“Your latest case of course: saving a damsel in distress from a terrible, ill-suited marriage.”
“Please.” Sherlock spat out. “I went to the theater. That is all.”
“Really?” John asked. Clear from his tone that he did not believe him. John drummed his fingers on the table, as though he was waiting for more.
“I may have spilled a drink.” Sherlock added, raising his eyebrows.
“Ok?” John asked, confused.
“Oh her fiance’s lap”
“Oh Sherlock.” John’s moustache twitched in irritation.
“On purpose.” Sherlock concluded.
“Sherlock!” John shouted. “Stop meddling in her life.”
Sherlock looked away.
“What are your intentions with this woman?” John asked.
Sherlock gave a heavy sigh. Resting his forearms on his thighs. He ran a hand through his hair. “I have the intention of getting her out of this ill-suited marriage and ensuring that her brain does not go to waste as a housebound companion for a classless moron, as I have already told you that Watson, please do keep up.”
“Rubbish. You like her.”
Sherlock crinkled his nose and pursed his lips, “Sherlock Holmes does not engage in romantic entanglements.”
“You know, Sherlock, I would not even have such an objection to your meddling if you actually cared how you are affecting this woman.”
Sherlock opened his mouth to argue, John put up a hand as though to physically stop him.
“Let’s say she breaks off her engagement based on your advice. She will be disgraced. Her family will be disgraced. She will have nothing. She is a woman, and though she is an intelligent doctor, this world is not kind to women. She is going to be in a country where she has no friend or kin. If she does not have the affection of her fiancé, what will she have?”
Sherlock sat there for a moment. John was right. Dammit.
Sherlock stammered, a rarity. “Well…then…what am I to do?”
It was John’s turn to be quiet for a moment. “I really don’t know Sherlock.” He let out a long sigh. “Is her fiancé really that terrible?”
“He is a classless drunkard who disrespects her at every occasion. Additionally, he belittles everything about her that is fundamentally HER. As you can see, I find it difficult to abide.” Sherlock balled his hands into fists.
“Well, we still have a few days to sort all this out, don’t we?” John resigned himself to helping his friend, and by extension helping Ms. Hooper.
Molly and Lady Cunningham sat in the women’s lounge, the older woman doing needlepoint, Molly reading.
“Lady Cunningham, I believe I recall that you know Mr. Holmes parents. …” Molly asked without asking, attempting to sound casual.
Lady Cunningham gave her a knowing look, but to Molly’s surprise, the older woman decided to indulge her.
“The Holmes family is well established and owns a house in London. They used to have a country estate, Musgrave, but it burned to the ground a quarter of a century ago. They have two sons,” Lady Cunningham looked up from her needlepoint, “Both still bachelors to the dismay of Lady Holmes. Their eldest works for the government, while of course the one you have met, is a detective. Curious men.”
Molly smiled. She dared not ask for more, certain she would give her inappropriate curiosity for Mr. Holmes away. “How did you and Lord Cunningham meet?”
Lady Cunningham looked up wistfully, as though searching for a memory. “We were an arranged marriage of sorts. I met Harold once before we became engaged. Lucky for me, he turned out to be just as kind as he was handsome.” She smiled.
Molly returned to her book, plotting about when she could ask her next round of questions before rousing too much suspicion.
“Alright Watson. Let the plan commence.” Sherlock said, striding towards the parlor.
“You haven’t shared the plan with me yet. And last night you were asking me for a plan.” Watson trailed his taller companion.
“The plan is that you will talk to Dr. Hooper.” Sherlock said, as though that explained everything.
“Oh yes of course. I’ll just talk to her and she will magically travel back in time and be able to undo her engagement. Your plan is rubbish.”
Sherlock opened the door to the parlor where afternoon tea was being served, he turned back to Watson. “Oh please, she is a very lovely young woman. Speaking to her will not be rubbish.”
“That is not what I said” John responded, flummoxed.
Sure enough, as Sherlock predicted, Lady Cunningham and Molly were sitting together for tea time without their male counterparts. Sherlock strode over.
“Lady Cunningham, Dr. Hooper” Sherlock smiled and gave a slight bow to the women. “Please, allow me to introduce my companion on this voyage, Dr. John Watson.” He gestured to his friend who had just arrived at the table.
Lady Cunningham spoke, “Ah, the esteemed Doctor and writer that Mr. Holmes had mentioned. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. This is Ms. Margaret Hooper.”
Molly smiled. “Hello Dr. Watson. It’s so nice to meet you. Mr. Holmes has told us so much about you.”
John felt his chest tighten a bit and the corners of his mouth upturning. He had never imagined that Sherlock spoke so favorably of him, “Ah well. He does the exciting parts; I just make sure it gets written down.” John replied humbly.
“Please gentleman, would you join us for tea?” Lady Cunningham invited.
“We would hate to impose on you ladies.” John replied kindly.
“Oh I insist, it is no intrusion.”
The two gentlemen sat down. Molly felt her cheeks becoming warm and a fluttering sensation in her stomach. Her hands started to tremble ever so slightly Please don’t let them notice she thought and made to sit her tea cup down so the shaking would be less obvious.
Sherlock sat there awkwardly for a moment, hoping John would remember the plan had been for him to talk. He looked over at Molly. She was wringing her hands. Fidgeting with them. And her cheeks looked more pink than he remembered them. She was nervous. Had Thomas done something stupid again? No. She hadn’t seen Thomas this morning, Sherlock deduced by the amount of make-up she had on and that the book in her basket had been read almost entirely today, judging by the pattern of the earmarks. Why was she nervous. His thoughts were finally intruded by John.
“Lady Cunningham, what brings you and your husband across the Atlantic?”
“We have been invited to stay at the new Waldorf Hotel in New York. My husband is an admirer of architecture and it was a personal invitation. We simply would not miss the opportunity.”
“That sounds lovely.” John responded sincerely.
“Ms. Hooper, did I hear correctly that you are also a doctor?” John asked even though he knew the answer. He was mostly asking to gauge Lady Cunningham’s reaction.
“Ah yes.” Molly responded, also attempting to feel out how far Lady Cunningham would allow this line of discussion to continue. “I studied at the London School of Medicine for Women and completed my residency at the Royal Free Hospital. What is your area of practice Dr. Watson?”
“Emergency medicine. I trained traditional, but was stationed in Egypt during the war there under General Wolseley. There were several wounded men there and I did what needed to be done. Turns out I was very good at it. Excellent at keeping calm in the face of danger, I’ve been told.”
Sherlock gave his friend a look John would actually describe as admiration. What ever was happening with Mr. Holmes today? John wondered. “Do you have an area of expertise Dr. Hooper other than women’s medicine?”
Molly gave a sideways glance to Lady Cunningham as though seeking permission.
“Oh goodness Margaret, just go ahead and spit it out, but not too loudly please.” Lady Cunningham said quietly and after observing to see if anyone else in the salon was listening to their conversation.
“The area I studied in that I found the most interesting was pathology.” Molly admitted, looking away from Dr. Watson as soon as she said it.
As progressive as the two men felt about they were, they were not prepared for that answer. That this elven-faced petite woman was interested in cadavers was not something even Sherlock Holmes would have ascertained.
The amount of silence had reached a period of discomfort.
Lady Cunningham took several sips of tea and then replied, “Well then, see? It’s a good thing you won’t be a doctor once you and Thomas marry.”
Molly felt several emotions build up all at once, sadness, anger, and embarrassment. She let them wash over her as she found a rose embossed on the wallpaper to stare at. She knew better than to try and reply at this moment. Words would spring forth that she may later regret. She urged the tears back as well, unsure why what Lady Cunningham said had affected her so.
Sherlock could sense that Molly was in distress, and yet there was little he could do for her. Indeed, he wanted her to feel this sense of anguish. It was better for her to know about it now, about how this loss would affect her, rather than after she was married. Sherlock was convinced she could still turn back.
John was the next to speak, “Well, ladies. I believe Mr. Holmes and I are running late for an appointment in the billiards room. It was a pleasure to meet the two of you.”
“What on Earth kind of plan was that!?” John exclaimed as the two men headed towards their cabin.
“I wished to make her realize how much she would miss practicing medicine. What better way to do that than to parade an actual doctor in front of her.” Sherlock responded.
“I thought you cared about this woman” John replied angrily as he unlocked their door.
“I care about her intellect not being wasted as a simpleton’s wife and womb.” Sherlock replied, removing his shoes.
“You knew that this discussion would upset Ms. Hooper and yet you took me there with the intent of me asking her about it.”
“Dr. Hooper, and yes. She needs to realize that she’s making a mistake.”
John stood in the middle of the room, feeling heat rising in his chest and his hands. “You know, for the world’s best detective and one of the smartest men in the world, you can be a first rate idiot and ridiculously blind to your own feelings. And hers by the way.” Watson replied, angrily removing his jacket. He hated when Sherlock manipulated him into doing something.
“Pardon? Her feelings? Her feelings about being a doctor are precisely why I had you talk to her, as we already discussed John, do try to keep up.” Sherlock condescended.
“I meant her feelings for you, you buffoon.” Watson replied incredulously. How on earth did Sherlock not see any of this?
“Dr. Hooper does not have feelings for me. I think I, the world’s greatest consulting detective, would notice if a woman had feelings for me.”
“Huh. Well. I don’t even know what to say to that.” John sat down on his bed, preparing to read.
“I need to speak to her alone. Or at least without a chaperone.” Sherlock steepled his fingers, and pressed them to his chin.
“That is a terrible idea for so very many reasons.” John retorted.
“Or you can speak to her without a chaperone. I don’t really care which one of us it is.” Holmes offered
“Please stop talking.”
“I’m serious John. We could use a pathologist when it comes to solving crimes. You know it’s true.” Sherlock could feel a plan coming together.
John sat there for several moments, pondering.
“Actually, yes. You are correct. We could.” John found himself actually agreeing with Sherlock.
“Now I just need to see Molly alone.” Sherlock commented from his bed
“Molly?” John asked, “It’s Molly now? This woman you don’t like is Molly?”
“Oh I like her quite a lot; I like you a lot as well, doesn’t mean anything. Like I said, you could also speak to Molly privately.”
John closed his eyes, how on Earth was his friend so blind?
Sherlock waited in the library. He was sure Molly would be in here again, she had said it was her refuge. Without thinking, his mind wandered to what John had mentioned earlier in the day. Surely Molly did not have any affection towards him. And the suggestion that he would have a desire for a romantic entanglement: John was clearly in need of some fresh air and new scenery. The time on the ship had addled his senses.
Sherlock heard the door open and close quietly. A female voice sighed. Sherlock peered around the corner of his chair. As usual, his deductions had proven correct. Molly stood there, appearing drained.
“I know you’re in here Sherlock,” She called out, surprising him. The detective had been detected.
“Molly.” He stood up, “how did you know?”
“The rhythm of your leg bouncing. You did it for most of the performance the other night, and earlier today at tea. “
“Fascinating” Sherlock said quietly.
Molly looked at Sherlock, willing herself not to blush. She smoothed her dress. She had practiced what she was about to say over and over again in her powder room. “I have decided that in the interest of time, since we will only be on this vessel a few more days, I ought to be blunter with you than would normally be appropriate.”
“Please. I prefer open and honest communication.” Sherlock responded, raising his brows in surprise. It seemed that she had actually sought him out rather than the other way around. Between that and her perception earlier about his leg, it seemed to him that he had underestimated Molly’s intelligence.
“You seem to be quite interested in me continuing to practice as a doctor.” Molly stated.
“Indeed, you are correct.”
“And yet you know that both my chaperone and my future husband disprove of it.”
“I have noticed that, yes” Sherlock responded, uncertain about where this conversation was leading. He had begun to feel very warm all of a sudden.
Molly inhaled a deep breath, and let it out. She pursed her lips as she decided how to form her next sentence. “You are intent on driving a wedge between me and Tom.”
Sherlock was not expecting that. “No. I am helping to elucidate that he is unsupportive of you as a person. Surely that is a fact an intelligent woman like you is aware of.”
“Why the interest at all in my personal life? I was perfectly content and resigned to my situation until a few days ago when you appeared and began questioning everything” Molly’s voice began to rise.
“It is not your personal life I am interested in. It is your professional life. The fact that your personal life is affected by your current situation is unfortunate.” Sherlock remained calm as ever, unsure why Molly was becoming upset.
“So, you have no interest in my personal life then? If Tom allowed for me to practice medicine you would have no problem with my engagement at all?”
“It would be none of my business.” Sherlock said, unable to foresee the consequences his words would have.
Molly stood there, balling and unballing her fists. She swallowed hard.
Sherlock at that moment realized she was angry; however he had no idea why.
“I’ve upset you.” He stated.
“No.”’ Molly said, too quietly, looking away. “Just leave me alone.”
“Molly, please.” Sherlock began to walk towards her; all of a sudden feeling like his stomach was dropping out of his body.
“No. Stay away from me. How dare you give me hope and take it away from me. It was all I had left and I told you that.” Tears began to fall down Molly’s delicate face.
Sherlock closed the distance between them, reaching for his handkerchief to wipe her tears. “Please. I’m terrible at things like this. I enjoy your company so much and I would never distress you on purpose.” He had gently placed his hand on her right arm as his left hand blotted the tears. Molly took the handkerchief from him.
“I cannot do this.” Molly replied, her voice shaky.
Rules and formalities be damned, Sherlock thought. He pulled Molly against his body and wrapped his arms around her. “No Molly. What you cannot do is marry that idiotic drunkard.”
“I have to, Sherlock. My family will be disgraced.” Molly wept into his chest.
Sherlock pulled Molly between two bookcases for more privacy, in case someone should come in. He slowly peeled away from her. “Break off your engagement as soon as we arrive in New York. Lady Cunningham does not approve of the match. She will correspond to your family that Tom acted like a drunken idiot on the ship and it would injure your reputation too much to proceed with the marriage.”
“She wouldn’t do that.” Molly said quietly.
“Indeed she would.” Sherlock responded. “Lord Cunningham told me so.”
“You spoke about my engagement to Lord Cunningham?” Molly asked, suddenly realizing that perhaps Sherlock really was a simpleton when it came to matters of the heart.
“Of course I did. How else would I get you out of this ridiculous engagement situation?” Sherlock gave her a small smile. Molly tried to return it.
“Oh Sherlock. I wish it were that simple. But my family will still be ashamed of their spinster Margaret and I have no one in the States to call upon.”
“You will travel with John and I assisting in our investigation.” Sherlock stated as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Molly’s mouth fell open. “That would be highly improper! An un-chaperoned woman traveling with two unmarried men at all hours of the day and night. That would not do at all. My family would have me hunted down and committed for lunacy!”
“Only if they found out.” Sherlock responded calmly. “My mother, the esteemed Lady Holmes, could write on our behalf to your family after Lady Cunningham delivers news of the broken engagement. She could tell them you have taken up with her son as his secretary and that you are chaperoned at all times.”
“And who would my chaperone be?” Molly said incredulously. This plan might actually work. Her heart was racing, her mind was cloudy, her eyes were misty, but this might work.
“John of course. My mother need not mention who. Your family won’t ask. They do not care enough about you to check.”
Molly looked hurt
“Oh I don’t mean anything by it, but they were trying to put you off on to the first employed man who looked their way, even though he is incredibly dull and rude. They will not care enough to check on you.”
“John is a man. He is not a chaperone.” Molly replied.
“I assure you, John has no desire towards you regarding anything other than a professional nature.”
“Really? How can you be so sure?” Molly retorted. She was a proper lady. She would not have her good name sullied.
“I don’t believe you want to know how I know that.” Sherlock responded.
Molly thought she saw a blush creeping upon Sherlock’s cheeks.
“Tell me. I will not be traveling around like some harlot.”
“First of all, John prefers ladies with blonde hair. Secondly he prefers ladies with more…” Sherlock paused hoping Molly would fill in the euphemisms for herself. She did not. Sherlock was quite red in the face now. “Fleshy backsides.”
It was Molly’s turn to become flushed. She attempted to remain calm. If she was going to be working alongside two men and at crime scenes, she would need to abandon some of her sensitivities. She pushed onward with the topic at hand. “That’s all well and good. However, eventually we will be returning to London. The ruse will not last forever.”
“By the time we return to London you will have earned more than enough money to not need to care a whit about what they think of you.”
Molly looked at him questioning.
“I get paid quite a lot of money for solving cases, more than I could use. You and John will split the wages.” Sherlock stated as though this was a perfectly normal business transaction that occurred every day. He straightened his back, a look of solemnity overcame is countenance, “Dr. Margaret Hooper,” he looked her square in the eye. “Will you be my pathologist?”
Molly suddenly felt a weight lift from her body. She knew that the road ahead might be difficult. And she also knew that she would need to learn to control her swooning. But she also knew she could not turn down her chance at freedom and happiness.
“Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” she stuck out her hand to shake on the deal, “I will”
Sherlock retreated to the smoking lounge in good spirits. He handed his hat to the attendant and searched the room for familiar company. He spotted Lord Cunningham and Thomas sitting near a window, and then spotted Watson near the bar. He decided to approach his friend and share the good news.
Watson spotted his friend and gave a small wave, ordering scotch for the two of them.
“Holmes. Where have you been this afternoon?”
“Procuring a pathologist,” Sherlock said with a smile that reached his eyes and instantly made him look younger.
Watson gaped. “She actually said yes?”
“You are surprised? You couldn’t resist the thrill of the mystery, the game being afoot; why does it shock you when others share the same sentiment?” Sherlock responded as he reached for his brandy.
“Well I’m not a fair young lady who is engaged to be married.”
“Details Watson, details. We are entering a new era. Surely you even know that. If you don’t believe me know, you will when we reach America. The land of ingenuity and invention. Thrilling.”
“I dare say you sound like a travel advertisement,” Watson sipped his brandy, the liquor brushing against his thick mustache.
“That is likely where I picked up those facts. However, the point is while you have been sufficient enough in your post-mortems I do believe it will be extremely valuable to have a new professional at our side.”
“Yeah..and uh..you going to take this proper woman to the murder scenes?” John’s cheeck twitched.
“On occasion perhaps, I hadn’t really thought it through.” Sherlock responded sharply.
“And where will she be staying? She can’t stay with us.”
“Surely you have heard of the notion that there may be more than one room being let at a time.” Sherlock answered quickly. He was growing irritated. He was excited to share this news and all John was doing was pointing out potential errors as though he himself had not already envisioned every possible scenario.
“Most places won’t let out to unmarried couples. I doubt you are aware of such things given your scant interactions with the fairer sex.” John raised his eyebrows, challenging Sherlock to correct him.
Sherlock steepled his fingers. “If you are going to continue to hem and haw about what I have deemed to be a fantastic addition to our professional lives, I shall have no recourse other than to end this discussion with you.”
John opened his eyes even wider. “You seem very passionate about the addition of a pathologist.”
“Oh stop it.” Sherlock sipped his scotch.
“And does her intended support this decision?” John asked, even though he was certain he knew the answer.
“Considering she will be ending the engagement, it will not matter.”
“You convinced her to do that?” John asked, growing strangely still.
“She clearly wanted to. I merely gave her the opportunity.”
“You had better take care of her, Holmes.” John stated, more serious than Sherlock had ever heard him before. And, was that anger he was detecting in John’s voice?
“I have already promised her my share of the earnings we make off of the cases we solve. And she can borrow my name to assuage her family. Everybody ends up in a better position than they were before. I cannot understand why this situation bothers you so much.”
“Yes. Mummy will write on my behalf to her family stating she is employed by me: the son of a Lord. They may draw whatever conclusions they wish.” Sherlock finished his drink, enjoying the burning sensation lingering in the back of his throat.
“You really are In deep.” Watson mused, downing the remnants of his drink.
Sherlock had no idea what John was talking about.
Molly paced back and forth in her bedroom. She was going to be starting a new life in a few days. She needed to research the latest medical information; surely there was a medical library Dr. Watson could borrow books from once they arrived in the United Stated. She would also need to procure some practical clothing for traveling, she had only brought frilly numbers that Thomas had said she looked lovely in. Many of them were a pale green that made her feel sickly, and the new fashionable color of the moment, mauve. It made Molly feel like a harlot. She herself loved yellow and blue. And just like that, she could imagine herself wearing them. All because a detective had offered to give her a job.
Of course, she would need to break the news to Thomas. She was extremely nervous. She was not afraid of him when he was sober. She was trying to decide whether it would be more appropriate to break up with a chaperon present, or if it would be more dignified to do it when it was just the two of them. Molly had no experience in the area and she cold not exactly ask Lady Cunningham. Or could she? Sherlock had told her that the Cunninghams did not approve. And as the distance between her and her family grew with every nautical mile of the Atlantic between them, Molly found herself feeling braver and braver. Indeed, even though she was more nervous than she had been in her entire life, she felt more confident of herself than she ever had.
Her heart kept racing as she allowed herself to reminisce being held in Sherlock’s arms. It was indecent to think of such things, and she felt her face becoming warm at the memory. He had smelled so nice. Thomas always smelled of alcohol and cheap cologne. Sherlock smelled like tobacco, spices, ad books. Molly sighed. She would need to put those thoughts to the back of her mind if she was going to be a respected professional. Which is what she wanted first and foremost. If she happened to make a love match in the future, she would want it to be with her true self, Dr. Margaret Hooper.
Molly heard a knock at the door. She could tell it was a woman’s by the gentleness of it. She walked over and opened it slightly. Lady Cunningham stood at the door, wearing a beautiful lavender day dress.
“Lady Cunningham. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Molly smiled.
“Hmm…”Lady Cunningham assessed Molly. “Something about you has changed.”
“Pardon?” Molly asked, slightly exasperated. Had someone overheard them in the library?
“It’s nothing. However, would you prefer to join me in the parlor for needlepoint today, or would you prefer a more private setting?”
“Oh, well, I hadn’t really thought about it until just now.” Molly responded, was Lady Cunningham giving her a chance to speak to her freely? “However, since the men are away, it may be nice to make use of the private lounge here instead of going out to the parlor.”
“My thoughts exactly. I shall ask for tea and see you out there shortly.” Lady Cunningham departed.
Molly was going to have to quickly decide whether or not to confide in Lady Cunningham. The worst thing that could happen would be for Lady Cunningham to laugh at her dreams and tell Thomas and her family that she was a fraud. What else could she do? Forbid her from traveling with Sherlock and Dr. Watson? She was Molly’s chaperone, not her keeper.
Molly gathered some sewing and walked to the lounge.
Lady Cunningham was cross-stitching a lovely floral pattern when Molly arrived.
“Please sit down my dear. And let us get o the point. You, while quite lovely and intelligent, are no fine young lady.”
Molly felt her face becoming red with embarrassment and anger and began opening her mouth to retort.
“Let me finish. I am fine with that. I have no need of fine young ladies Margaret; I have met more in my life than I would ever care to. As such, I will not mince words with you nor be as delicate as I might be with some flibbertigibbet wisp of a woman.”
“Very well. That seems like a true enough statement.” Molly sat down across from Lady Cunningham. “What do you wish to say to me?”
“You are unhappy with your match. Thomas is a drunkard. Your family did not do you any favors by putting you off on him. While your medical degree and intelligence are not qualities desired in a wife, your family should have tried harder on your behalf. If you wish to break off the engagement, you will have my blessing and Lord Cunningham’s. However, I would caution you against getting involved with that detective character. While he is quite charming and an eligible bachelor, I would hate for him to take advantage of your naiveté and loneliness. For you will be lonely Margaret. You have no friends or kin in America.”
Molly sat there for a moment taking it all in. Lady Cunningham had all at once insulted her, freed her, and condescended towards her.
“Lady Cunningham, I would have been lonely regardless. Thomas is a stranger to me as well. Even as his wife, I would have been lonely. At least now I won’t have to be afraid of him.” Molly replied quietly. She had decided it would be best not to mention the pathology career to Lady Cunningham, and especially not mention that she would be working with Mr. Holmes. “How does one break off an engagement?” Molly inquired.
Sherlock found his heart racing that night as he lay in bed. His mind kept wandering to the cases he had read about in the papers and he played out various scenarios about how he, Molly, and Watson were going to solve them all. He imagined Molly at the crime scenes; nervous at first but slowly becoming more and more acquainted with the idea. Of course when the situations were dangerous she would need to stay back at home. Or the hotel. Small detail. So much new information, so many changes.
He had not imagined that he would meet his newest companion on this ship, nor that they would be a petite and lovely woman. He found himself thinking of her small mouth. Of her soft hair he had absent-mindedly touched earlier that day in the library. It smelled of soap and gardenia. He then wondered why he was thinking of these things, at the same time feeling a hardness in his trousers. Not good. He had not intended to think of Molly like that. He immediately felt guilty. She was an intelligent, kind, beautiful woman. Sherlock should not be objectifying her, and should not be thinking of how warm and soft her small body was pressed up against his. At that exact moment, Sherlock began to wonder if maybe John had been correct in some of his observations.
There were two days left in the voyage and Molly was doing her best to avoid Thomas. It was not too difficult at first as Thomas had spent the beginning of the voyage in the lounge smoking and drinking all day. However, at this point in the trip he had overextended his credit and goodwill and had been asked to not return to the lounge until he procured more credit. To Tom’s chagrin, neither Lord Cunningham or Dr. Rogers had offered to vouch for him. This had left him quite vexed, and Molly was most disappointed to find him in the private lounge of their state room area when she exited her quarters.
“Good morning Margaret.” Tom said indifferently, sitting on the sofa.
“Thomas.” Molly replied. “Will you be going out today?”
“Go where?” Thomas whined, throwing his arms out to either side of this body. “I cannot wait to get off this damnable boat.”
Molly sat down across from him, trying to assess the situation. “I will be joining Lady Cunningham for tea and jam in a few moments; if you would care to join us you would be most welcome.”
“I don’t wish to see those blasted Cunninghams ever again!” Thomas retorted, nearly spitting out their names.
“Thomas! They have been such a help to you and I. Surely you don’t mean such a thing.” Molly admonished.
Thomas curled his lip, “You will learn to hold your tongue when speaking to your husband, Margaret.”
Molly sat there for a moment, blinking; taking in what had just been said to her. Thomas, the idiot drunkard banker, was telling her, a Doctor, when it was appropriate to speak. As though she were a dog. She blinked again. She stood up and smoothed her day dress.
“You are not my husband.” Molly remarked clearly, and headed towards the door.
She did not see the shocked look on Thomas’s face, nor the anger filling his features. Molly opened the door, and walked out of the lounge. She shut the door behind her, feeling herself absolutely shaking with anger and a bit of fear. It had felt good to stand up for herself. But now she was afraid of how Thomas would react when she saw him again.
“What’s bothering you?” John asked Sherlock who was sitting in the smoking lunge bouncing his leg up and down.
“Nothing. Why would anything be bothering me John?” Sherlock bit hit pipe even harder.
“You are fussing about like an infant.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.’ Sherlock tried to calm his leg bouncing.
“Having second thoughts?” John mused, taking a puff of his pipe.
“Second thoughts about Dr. Hooper joining us?”
“Of course not. You are too much John. Speaking of Dr. Hooper. Once we arrive in the States, I will be acquiring lodgings for the three of us and you will take Dr. Hooper with you to the Medical Library so that she may get acquainted with the most recent medical journals. She has been unable to practice for the past year so I would like for you to help her find any literature which would be appropriate. “ Sherlock changed the subject,hoping John would not notice.
“Very well.” John cleared his throat. “Of course I will do that. Has she spoken with her fiance yet?”
“I have no idea.” Sherlock raised his eyebrows. “However, she probably should seeing as we have one and a half days left on this journey.”
The door to the lounge swung open loudly.
“I think we may have our answer.” John said as he saw Thomas barging through the door, his eyes scanning the room.
Sherlock turned his head to see what John was talking about; although he already had a suspicion. Thomas and Sherlock locked eyes and Thomas came striding over as an attendant was admonishing Thomas and reminding him that he had been banned from the lounge.
“You.” Thomas was shaking with anger. He pointed a finger at Sherlock, who remained seated. John was nervously on the edge of his seat, ready to stand up if necessary.
“Pardon? Are you still upset about your shirt? I was told that the stain came out quite nicely.” Sherlock responded calmly.
“You bloody well know I am not talking about my shirt. I am talking about my future wife. She was perfectly content until you came around and started up that Doctor nonsense again.”
“Oh, you mean having a friendly chat about the profession which she shares with my colleague here. Yes. I did speak to her about that. Have you ever spoken to her about it other than to tell her you think it’s an ill-suited profession? I believe you would find that your fiancé could elucidate a great many facts for you if you sat down and talked to her.” Sherlock responded.
“You don’t know anything about Margaret and you don’t know anything about me, so leave us alone.”
“Or else what Thomas?” Sherlock sneered. “I do not take orders from you, and I think you will find that your fiancé does not either. Now, you have been banned from this particular room for buying more alcohol than you, or Molly, can afford. So do us all a favor and vacate this establishment at once.” His eyes bore into Thomas’s.
“Molly?” Thomas whispered. “You call her Molly now and you pretend as though you two chat about dead bodies and crimes and innocent chatter. No Mr. Holmes. While I may have a reputation as a drunkard, you have one as well, so don’t insult my intelligence by acting like you have not been corrupting Marger..Molly.” Thomas’s face twisted in anger.
John sat there, watching the drama unfold before him. He had been through many life and death situations with Sherlock, but he had never seen him in a pissing match over a woman. This was priceless.
“The door, Thomas.” Sherlock gestured,” I suggest you use it.”
Thomas stood there for a minute, fuming. The attendant walked up to him, “Please sir, you are not supposed to be in here.” Thomas pushed the attendant away. “Stay away from Margaret.” Thomas said once more as he turned and left.
Sherlock turned back around in his chair and looked at John, who was now smiling at him.
“What on earth are you smiling at? I could have been assaulted.” Sherlock stated, half in jest.
“I’ve just never seen you argue over a girl is all.” John grinned.
“Please John.” Sherlock relit his pipe. “I do not argue over the fairer sex. This is not nursery school and I am no schoolboy.”
John became serious quite suddenly, “Are you worried at all he might take his anger out on her?”
Sherlock paused for a few seconds, at first he was going to state that no, he did not think Thomas would hurt Molly. However, he then recalled the first time he had seen Molly and the way Thomas had grabbed her arm out on the deck. A shadow crept over his countenance. “I don’t know Watson.”
“Well, I suppose this is where we go rescue the damsel in distress?” John said, putting his pipe away.
“Doctor in distress. She is a doctor in distress, John.” Sherlock said as he got to his feet, “But yes, this is where we see if our colleague needs any assistance.”
The break up is here!
Molly quietly closed the door to Thomas’s bedroom. She had placed her engagement ring on his valet stand. After the way he had spoken to her this morning she could not stand having it on her hand for one more moment. As the door finally latched, she turned and was surprised to find herself face to face with Thomas, whom she barely recognized at this exact instant. His normally neat hair was tussled about, his suit jacket on the sofa, his breath reeking of alcohol. He had clearly found a way to acquire alcohol in the lower class decks.
“Thomas. I was not expecting to see you again until this evening.” Molly told him, calculating the distance between her and the door.
“Clearly. Or else you wouldn’t be sneaking around my room like a little thief.” Thomas snarled.
“Oh Thomas. I surely have no interest in stealing your belongings.” Molly placated, she was not certain she wished to have any more conversations with Thomas when he had been drinking.
“Then why were you in my room? Hmm?” He stepped closer to her.
Molly wondered for a second if she should tell the truth or not. She had to decide quickly though, too much time wondering would seem suspicious. She took a deep breathe. What was the worst thing that could happen?
“I returned my engagement ring to you Thomas. You will find it on your valet stand.”
“You what!?” Thomas screamed. “Why the hell would you do that?”
“I am ending this engagement. We are a poor match. Once we are in the US we will go our separate ways.” Molly spoke plainly.
“I don’t think so. A deal was made with your family Margaret. You do not have any say in this.” Thomas closed the distance between them, breathing his hot, boozy breathe onto Molly’s face. “You will be my wife Margaret.”
“I will not Thomas. A deal was made with my family, not with me. And I am not bound to it regardless. You acquired my family’s permission under false pretenses. Regardless, I am not beholden to answer to you.” Molly stepped to the side to go around him. Thomas grabbed her by the arm.
“This is because of that damned detective and that doctor nonsense isn’t it!” Thomas yelled.
“This trip has illuminated several truths about you and me both Thomas. It has nothing to do with anybody else.” Molly looked up at Thomas, trying to maintain a sense of calm even as his fingers were digging into her upper arm.
“Bollocks.” Thomas responded. “You think you can sleep your way into a better life? Spreading your legs for him and that doctor?” Thomas pulled Molly around so she was once again facing her, his body much too close to hers for her comfort.
Sherlock and John found themselves outside Thomas and Molly’s suite and heard raised voices.
John turned to ask Sherlock what he thought they should do, but found himself staring at Sherlock’s leg, as the detective had already kicked in the door.
“What I choose to do from here on out is absolutely none of your business Thomas, and while your vile mind might imagine such scenarios occurring, that is entirely a work of your twisted fiction. Now unhand me.” Molly jumped as she heard a loud bang. Thomas loosened up his grip slightly, but still held Molly in an unwanted embrace. He turned to see Sherlock and John entering the lounge, having kicked down the door.
“I believe the lady asked you to stop touching her.” Sherlock commanded, his voice tinged with anger.
“I believe this is a private matter between a man and his fiancé and how dare the two of you enter our private residence.” Thomas retorted, re-establishing his grip on Molly.
“I am no longer your future wife!” Molly squeaked as she was being pressed into his chest.
“You should really let Ms. Hooper go Thomas,” John responded, trying to keep a brawl from ensuing. “This is not the way to discuss anything, especially with a lady.”
“Get the hell out of our room.” Thomas yelled.
“Let go of me!” Molly gave a muffled shout.
“Wrong answer.” John exhaled.
Molly has a vague recollection of what happened next. She remembers Sherlock appearing next to her with imperceptible speed, and breaking a few of Thomas’s fingers as he peeled them off of Molly’s arm. She stepped back now that she had been freed. Time slowed down as she saw Sherlock grab Thomas on either side of the head and slam Thomas’s forehead into his own. She remembers looking over at John, whose mouth was gaping open underneath his caterpillar of a mustache, and then back to Thomas who had stumbled back towards the couch. Sherlock then connected his fist to Thomas’s nose, a sickening crunch reverberating through the room, and blood flying through the air. Molly began to feel light-headed; this was all happening so fast. She heard Dr. Watson yell, “Sherlock she’s fainting!” and felt a pair of strong arms envelope her on her way into the darkness.
Molly awoke in a dimly lit room. She had been placed on a sofa rather than a bed, a fur blanket covering her. She searched her mind as she tried to recall why she would be somewhere other than her bed and she remembered the events of the afternoon and shuddered. It had all actually happened. She had broken off her engagement, Thomas had shown what a true monster he was, and Sherlock had fought Thomas. Fought was a generous term. Sherlock had clobbered Thomas. It was amazing how much one’s life could change in less than one week.
Molly sat up, surveying the room. It appeared to be a study of sorts. There was a desk and several books scattered throughout. The door creaked open and a maid came in carrying a tray of tea.
“Oh you’re awake. I’ll let Dr. Watson know. He has been so worried about you. And his friend. Here’s a cup of tea for you.” The maid smiled at Molly as she sat the tray down.
“Thank you. Where am I?”
“This is a room in Dr. Roger’s suite, but when Dr. Watson came and explained what had happened he was more than happy to let Dr. Watson use it for his patient, which of course, is you. I know you had a bit of a fright earlier, so please drink your tea and I’ll let the doctors know.” The maid got up and exited.
Molly poured herself a cup and let the heat of the cup warm her hands.
There were still two days left in the voyage. Where would she stay the rest of the time? And where would she stay when she was working with the men on cases. She thought back to those cruel, wicked things Thomas had said about her a few hours ago. Surely the men did not expect that from her, did they?
The door opened once again and Molly was relieved to see it was Dr. Watson who had entered the room.
“Hello Dr. Hooper. You gave us all quite a start.”
“Please. Call me Molly. If we are going to be working together, I would like for us to become better acquainted. And yes, I myself am surprised. I survived the rigors of medical school and corpses without any fainting spells yet here today I find myself in need of a fainting couch.”
Watson gave her a knowing smile. “Yes, well it is different when things affect you personally and I doubt you have ever seen two men fighting before. It can be quite brutal.”
“Indeed.” Molly agreed. “Is Thomas injured greatly?”
Watson breathed in and held it for several seconds, before letting it out. “He has 3 broken fingers, a broken nose, bruised eye socket, and a few bruised ribs.”
Molly brought her hands up to cover her mouth. “How did his ribs get bruised.”
Watson looked up for a moment gathering the right words, and then returned his gaze to Molly. “After he was punched in the face, he said some very untoward things about Sherlock. And about you. At which point he ended up on the ground and found himself underfoot.”
“Oh my. I am sorry to say that I am glad he was injured but I did not realize the extent of the fighting.”
“You are a medical doctor, you know he will heal and be fine. I assure you, he was warned several times to stop talking, and yet he persisted.” Watson shifted uncomfortably. “May I take your pulse?”
“Pardon? Oh of course.” Molly turned her arm over. “How is Sherlock?”
“He’s good. Yeah. His hand is bruised a bit. But he’s good.” Watson lied as he thought back to earlier that afternoon.
Sherlock lifted Molly up and tenderly laid her on the sofa. “Watson, please tend to Molly and get her a blanket.”
Watson was still mildly in chock at what was going on.
“John, please!” Sherlock shouted once more. John looked over at Thomas, who was bleeding profusely from his nose and then back to Molly who was daintily lying on the sofa. And Sherlock thought she was the one who needed medical attention?
“Yeah, go check on that whore.” Thomas blurted from the couch.
John then remembered that Thomas was a total bastard and moved across the room to check on Molly. At the same time, Sherlock had leapt back up and was making his way towards Thomas.
“What did you say!” Sherlock bellowed, towering over the man on the couch.
“You bloody well heard me. Leaving her fiancé to go traveling with two men. You can have that mousy little whore.” Thomas spat at Sherlock, blood landing on his shirt.
Watson took Molly’s pulse while watching Sherlock grab Thomas by the shoulders and drag him off the couch and onto the floor.
“Sherlock, I think you’ve done enough.” John called across the room. There was blood everywhere.
“I’ll stop when he stops” Sherlock responded coldly.
“She was saving herself for marriage, so I guess the two of you will have to flip a coin to see who gets to rut her first.” Thomas goaded from the ground.
“See John?” Sherlock kicked Thomas in the ribs. “Some people don’t have any manners.”
John’s eyes widened. As long as Sherlock didn’t kill the man, he supposed it didn’t matter much what happened.
Thomas was delirious with anger now, enjoying every minute of this unceremonious debasing of his former fiancé. “She’s got tits smaller than a schoolboy and her family literally had to pay for someone to take her. Enjoy your new piece of garbage.”
Sherlock kicked Thomas again. This time the only response was a wheezing gurgle.
John had never seen Sherlock so angry before. His friend’s eyes were bright and glassy. Sherlock stared at the heap on the floor.
“Please check his pulse John.”
John rolled his eyes slightly, Sherlock knew how to bloody well check a pulse, but he went over to Thomas’s body anyway and felt his wrist. Thomas was definitely alive. Bruised and broken and bloody. But alive. John looked back up to tell Sherlock but found himself at a loss for words as he saw Sherlock kneeling by the couch. Sherlock pulled a blanket around Molly and whispered “I’m so sorry.”
John looked back at Thomas, feeling like an intruder of a very intimate scene. He cleared his throat and looked up again. “He’s good. I mean, beat all to hell but good.”
Sherlock gave a small “hmm” acknowledging the information. He then picked Molly up gingerly. “I will need you to keep an eye on Molly as she recovers. I imagine this turn of events this week has put a shock on her body. Let us see if Dr. Rogers has any accommodations for her.”
The two men left the stateroom leaving Thomas passed out on the ground.
Once arrangements had been made with Dr. Rogers, the two men traveled back to their stateroom. Sherlock immediately removed his blood stained shirt, breathing heavily.
“Are you ok?” John asked. He had never seen his friend so afflicted.
“No John. I am not ok.” He responded, filling his pipe. His hands shaking and causing several tobacco leaved to scatter.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No John. I just want to get off this boat and solve crimes. And I need Thomas sequestered to the brig. I will kill him if I see him again.”
“I don’t know if they will do that Sherlock. As far as things look, you are the one who attacked him unprovoked.”
“He won’t say anything. He’d have to tell the whole story. No, he’ll scurry away like the vermin he is.”
“Well. It’s a good thing Dr. Hooper met us then, isn’t it?” John said, trying to calm his friend down. He could see Sherlock’s pulse in his neck and it had been racing for the past two hours.
“She will be waking up soon.” Sherlock responded, taking a puff of his pipe; attempting to calm his nerves.
“Yes, I imagine so. I should head towards Dr. Rogers lounge in a moment. Do you want to be there when she wakes up?”
“No John” Sherlock said too quietly
“Right. Well. I’ll let you know when she’s awake and how she’s doing.”
Sherlock didn’t respond. He sat in the near darkness of their room replaying the events that had unfolded. He thought of those terrible things Thomas had said about Molly and how every one of them was so wrong. How could people experience the same reality so different. Sherlock was not one to believe in coincidences nor divine intervention, but that night for the first time since his childhood, he thanked the universe for putting him and John in Molly Hooper’s life.
Hello! sorry for the slow down on updates. I received a positive test result for Tuberculosis (wth? I live a boring life in the midwest) so I've been following up with several doctors. I've also been diagnosed with stomach ulcers and been working with a dr to find a medication that works. And, on top of all that, my toddler has stopped napping XD Silly girl. But I am still super excited about this story and I hope you all prefer a short update to no update. I am plotting out their New York adventure before they head off to the World's Fair in Chicago! Enjoy!
Molly heard a soft rap at the door. “Come in.” she called, still sitting on the sofa in Dr. Roger’s office. John had taken leave a few moments prior. She was surprised to see Lady Cunningham cross the threshold.
“Margaret dear I heard you told Thomas the news and he did not take it well.” Lady Cunningham stated as she walked towards Molly,
Molly nodded, unsure of how much of the story Lady Cunningham had been privy to.
“Well, it won’t do to have the two if you sharing a lounge area between your suites anymore, from what I hear he acted like an absolute lunatic. You will be staying with me for the remainder of the voyage. Lord Cunningham has taken residence in another suite. I cannot allow you to roam about un-chaperoned when you have just broken off your engagement. Once we arrive at the port you are of course, free to make your own decisions as my duty to your family will have ended.”
“Of course, Lady Cunningham. Thank you.” Molly said quietly.
“I would urge you to reconsider traveling about with those two bachelors, but it seems as though your mind has been made up.”
Molly did not respond.
“Regardless, Margaret, I wish you all the best and am glad you will not be wed to Thomas. I will see you later this evening.” Lady Cunningham excused herself.
Molly sat there for a moment, recounting the events of the evening. It was amazing how much one’s life could change in a week. She took a breath and stood, determined to seek out Mr. Holmes.
Sherlock sat in the library, papers spread before him. He was mapping the remaining documents to his mind palace in preparation for the coming months. He heard the door quietly open and shut, but did not react.
Molly quietly approached Sherlock from behind and pulled out the chair next to him. Sherlock startled and looked up, surprised to make eye contact with Dr. Hooper. Molly’s hands flew up to her mouth in shock. “I’m so sorry Sherlock, I thought you heard me come in.”
“Molly, of course, I did not know it was you. Forgive me, you have no need to apologize. Please, sit if you would like.” Sherlock stood to pull the chair out for her.
Molly gave him a sideways glance, but allowed him the chivalry.
“Thank you. What are you reading?” Molly inquired.
“Case files mostly. Autopsy reports, old news articles, witness statements. As soon as we get in port I will need as many different periodicals as possible, national and local. Do you think you could do that for me? John already has a task.”
“Of course.” Molly replied, confidently. “May I?” She asked, gesturing to a stack of autopsies.
Molly began reading through the files, reacquainting herself with the medical terminology. It felt so wonderful to be using this part of her mind again. She had missed it more than she realized.
“Sherlock?” Molly hesitantly reached over and placed her hand on top of his. Sherlock stiffened, his eyes grew wider, he drew in a sharp breathe. “I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you.”
Sherlock found himself suddenly robbed of the gift of speech, his heart beating in his ears, his mouth dry. He gave a dry cough, “There’s no need Molly.” His hand was becoming clammy; he stared at their hands touching. He looked away.
“There is. I have a feeling you’re not very good at these sort of conversations, but this is important to me. Thank you for giving me a chance at a different and better life. I do not think anyone, even myself, has ever believed in me as much as you do, and you barely know me. So thank you for standing up for me. Thank you for always calling me Doctor when everyone else calls me miss, and thank you for showing up and stopping Thomas earlier today. I don’t know what would have happened if you and John wouldn’t have shown up. But I am eternally grateful.” Molly finished. She gave Sherlock’s hand a squeeze, and returned to reading the case files.
Sherlock sat there, staring at pieces of paper ostensibly filing them in his mind palace. But in all actuality, he was building a room for Molly. Cataloging the feeling of her hand on his, the words she had spoken to him, and the words that had remained unsaid. An hour quietly passed before Molly excused herself to dinner.
Thank you all for the kind words! My chest x-ray is clear, so definitely not active TB which is great, because the CDC will quarantine you for that. Blood test tomorrow. It is likely latent TB which means I was exposed to TB at some point in my life, but my body fought it off. 33% of the world's population has latent TB and many people don't know it until they have to get a TB test for work or school. There is a strict antibiotic regimen for latent TB which takes 6-9 months, can cause liver damage, cannot be combined with alcohol, and makes hormonal birth control ineffective. So unfortunately I won't be out of the woods for a while. In other news, I am done Christmas shopping!! Now all that's left is wrapping. To those of you who celebrate, Have a happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, and Festivus <3
The day had finally arrived. The ship had arrived in port that morning and was waiting for the health inspector to clear the passengers to debark. Molly had said her goodbyes to the Cunninghams and Rogers the evening before, with a promise that Lady Cunningham would write to Molly’s family on her behalf explaining what a poor match Thomas had been. Molly had not seen nor heard any more about him since their last encounter, and she hoped she never would again.
Molly had her trunks packed and ready. She would acquire periodicals for Mr. Holmes and then they would reconvene at the Cosmopolitan Hotel on West Broadway. Dr. Watson would arrange the stay at the hotel and then set forth to the medical college to procure medical journals for Molly to read over the next few days. If there was any more information about their plan, it had not yet been shared with Molly. She knew that eventually, if the new arrangements were satisfactory to everyone, they would travel to Chicago for the Columbia Exposition. Sherlock had shared newspapers with her chronicling the inventions and modern marvels that were being debuted in the Second City. They all sounded astonishing.
John approached Molly, carrying a trunk in his left hand.
“You travel light Dr. Watson.” Molly remarked, feeling somewhat silly as she stood next to her three large trunks. They were full of those ridiculous clothes Thomas had picked out.
“Indeed. Well, it’s easier for a man isn’t it? We just throw on our trousers, a shirt, and a jacket if needed. One pair of shoes, and I have my own natural beauty, so my grooming tools are also quite scant.” He gave her a good-natured smile as Molly laughed.
“Oh? Surely you have a little comb for your mustache? How else would you keep it so well contained?” Molly asked, smiling. It was nice to have a friend who could converse with so freely and with such humor.
“I’m afraid that is top secret detective business.” John responded with a wink.
“Oh please, don’t compliment him on that ridiculous walrus-like appendage he insists on keeping below his nose.” Sherlock scowled, approaching the pair of them.
“I think it looks quite distinguished.” Molly responded.
“See?” John responded, “The ladies are quite fond of it.”
Sherlock rolled his eyes. “I see this new dynamic is off to a poor beginning for me. Regardless, once we are on land, John and the bags and the mustache will be off at once to the hotel.” He gave a small smile. The three of them stood at the railing, taking in the sight of the busy port and the country that would be their home for the next few months.
Sherlock hailed two Hansom cabs for the three of them and their baggage. He and Molly headed to Washington Market.
“What exactly are we hoping to find at a produce market?” Molly asked, surveying the city as it passed them by.
“Information. Gossip. Anything out of the ordinary. I like to get to know the city I’m working in.” Sherlock responded. “When we arrive you will acquire papers while the cab waits for you. I shall meet you and John back at the hotel later this evening.”
“Oh. Alright then.” Molly replied, somewhat surprised.
“Is that a problem? It seemed to me that you and Dr. Watson got along perfectly well.” Sherlock responded, surprised.
“Not at all. Dr. Watson is quite delightful to be around.”
“Right. Well, here, Molly,” Sherlock was fidgeting with his hands, “this should be more than enough.” Sherlock took out several American dollar bills and handed them to her. “Trust you keep that close to you. New York is a big city like London and is full of the same type of miscreants.”
“Of course, thank you.” Molly took the money and gave Sherlock a smile.
The cab stopped as it approached the market. Sherlock exited, offering Molly his hand as she got down.
Sherlock went to the front of the cab to instruct the driver to wait for Molly and pay him for the fares.
“Alright. The paper shop is over that way,” he gestured to the corner store. “I shall see you this evening. Do not wait for me.” Sherlock awkwardly stood there, unsure of how to say goodbye to Molly. A handshake seemed strange, an embrace much too intimate; so he just stood there awkwardly, pointing at the shop.
Molly gave him a smile and turned to go to the book store.
Sherlock groaned as she walked away. Why did this woman so rob him of his faculties?
Ahhhh it's been forever! We had the holidays and then I had to spend a few months getting my life together. Nothing major, just several health issues all at the same time and trying to get meds for differentthings working together. Also, my daughter started preschool so I try to get to bed at decent hours now instead of staying up all night writing. I'm into a good rhythm now and I'm hoping to be able to focus time on writing again. :) This chapter is mostly just a set up to establish them in NYC, with romance and intrigue to come next time!
John Watson entered the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, eager to help himself to a warm shower and a bed that did not rock to and fro throughout the night. He strode over to the front desk and rang the bell for service. An amiable gentleman appeared from the back room.
“Good afternoon Sir. Do you have a reservation?” the man inquired.
“Sorry. Afraid not.” John responded
“Ah fresh off the boat, are you?” The man interrupted, clearly tipped of by Dr. Watson’s accent.
“Yes. Just in this morning from London.””
“The Majestic. Quite a beauty, but I am quite elated to be on solid ground once more.” John gave the man a warm smile.
“Indeed. Well we are glad to have you Sir. Are you traveling alone? One room?”
“No. No.” John paused. How to best explain his relationship to Sherlock and Dr. Hooper? How many rooms to get? One for him and Sherlock, and one for the lady? Watson had not thought of this before. “We will need two rooms. My colleague and I will share a double room, and my sister will be joining us. She will need a single room nearby.”
“Of course.” The man replied, then whistled to the Bellhop. “215 and 225 please.” He handed the keys over to John. ‘The rooms are across from one another. Let me know if there is anything I can do to make your stay more pleasant., Mr…?”
“Watson. Dr. John Watson.” He shook the man’s hand. “Listen. I am desperately in need of a cup of tea and a shower. May I leave my sister’s key with you? I believe she will be along shortly. Her name is Margaret. She is a petite woman, younger than myself by about 5 years. Brunette with brown eyes.”
“My pleasure sir.” The man said, dutifully setting the key aside for Molly.
Molly’s carpet bag was overflowing with periodicals. She attempted to get a range of papers ranging from ones with very dull headlines to some of the more sensational looking ones. She had waited around for a few minutes in the shop, hoping Sherlock’s business may have concluded quicker than he anticipated, but after several moments, she resigned herself to the cab.
As the cab drove through the city Molly found herself lulled into her own world of thoughts. Was this really a good idea? Did she really know anything about these two men she had only known for a few days? She was getting ready to go stay at a hotel with them for goodness sake! No Molly. Lady Cunningham would have not let her get involved if these men were untoward, and they had behaved like perfect gentleman around her.
Molly was jolted back to reality by the cab driver announcing her arrival. She gathered her bag and entered the hotel. It was quite lovely. Much nicer than any hotel she had ever stayed in. Molly searched the large atrium for John, but could not find him.
“Miss!” she heard a voice quietly floating towards her. “Miss?” louder this time. Molly turned towards the sound, and made eye contact with a man standing behind a desk. She walked over.
“Hello Miss. You must be, Margaret.” The gentleman behind the counter gave her a polite smile.
Molly returned it. “Indeed I am. John must have told you I would be along.”
“Indeed he did. Although, if I may say, he left out the part about how lovely his sister was.”
Molly stood there for a second. She looked around. John’s sister? Dr. Watson had briefly mentioned his sister Harriet to her once in passing, but had not mentioned that she was in the States. Would they be meeting her here today? And she was lovely as well? Molly tried to imagine what John might look like as a lady. She imagined him in a dress; imagined him without the giant mustache. Well, she tried. Instead she just ended up imagining Dr. Watson with his mustache, in a dress. She began to blush at the thought.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry Miss. I did not mean to offend you. Please pardon me. We don’t get very many young ladies here.” The attendant cut into her thoughts, fortunately shattering her image of John.
“Oh.” Molly said. Suddenly the truth of the situation dawned on her. “OH. Ohhh. Pardon me sir. I was lost in my thoughts. You are too kind. Did John leave any messages with you?”
“Just that you were to receive your own accommodations and he and his... friend? Would be sharing a room.” The attendant stated in a questioning manner, clearly expecting Molly to fill in any information John may have neglected to give.
“Thank you.” Molly responded, extending her hand to take the key.
“Of course miss.” He responded. Seemingly he was not used to not being able to acquire more information out of his guests. “Room 215.”
“Thank you.” Molly responded, taking her bag of papers with her. She smirked as she turned. John’s sister? He could have at least told her. Molly gave herself a small chuckle as she thought, Well, now I guess we have two doctors in the family.
“Please! Please! I’ll tell you! Just let me go!!” the man yelped, as the grip tightened around his arm, which was currently pinned behind his back.
“Tell the truth and I’ll let you go!” a deep baritone voice countered.
“I’ve told you all I know, I swear it!” the darker skinned man responded, his face pushed up against brick
“Really? Do you swear it on your little finger?” SNAP
“Ugh noooo!” the man screamed. “Please no. Ok! Ok! Stop. I’ll tell you.”
The pale man loosened his grip and spun the vagrant to face him. “If you lie to me, I will know it. And I will work my way through your other fingers.”
The vagrant was shaking. “Ok! He doesn’t have a name. Not like the rest of us do. They call him the Professor.”
“How do I contact him?”
“You don’t find him. He finds you.”
“It’s true. Now that you’re here sneaking around asking questions, it’s probably only a matter of time. Now leave me alone. I’ve already said more than I should have.”
“Indeed. And Clifford?”
The vagrant’s eyes went wide. “How do you know my name?”
“I’m Sherlock Holmes. I know everything. Try and pickpocket me again and I’ll break your whole arm.” Sherlock gave a dry smile, turned on his heel, turned up his collar, and exited the alley. The word would be out now. Sherlock Holmes had come to New York and he was looking for someone.
Molly found herself sitting opposite of Dr. Watson in the parlor area of hotel; periodicals spread out on the table.
“Did Sherlock tell you what exactly we are looking for?” Molly asked, turning the pages of what seemed like the hundredth article.
John grinned and raised his eyebrows, “No. he never does. He wants us as a fresh set of eyes; no preconceived notions.”
“Ah I suppose that makes sense. Well, in that case, I suppose he wants us looking for either patterns or things that stand out. Everything else would be naturally filtered out, especially with the two of us reading.”
“Indeed,” John smiled.
Molly ran her right hand through her hair and then stretched slightly, noticing the lateness of the hour “Any idea when he will return? Will it be this evening? Molly asked, looking around the hotel lobby to see if anyone else had entered.
“Sherlock comes and goes once we’re on a case. Sometimes he leaves for days at a time, other times the two of us are joined at the hip. He is unpredictable.”
Molly worried her lip, she had imagined her new life of adventure and had somewhat daydreamed of her and Sherlock spending much more time together than they had on the ship. However, it just now occurred to her that he was actually working and she might not see him much at all. Molly felt slightly bad, but then quickly reminded herself that had she not met these men and came into Sherlock’s employ, she would still be engaged to Thomas. Molly involuntarily shuddered. No, she definitely preferred sitting in the hotel lounge with Dr. Watson and seeing Sherlock on occasion to that life.
“Are you cold? I can have them start a fire if you wish, or go upstairs and grab a blanket.” John asked.
“Oh no, thank you. It was just a chill, I’m fine now. But, Sherlock might need it.” Molly started to rise, and her face turned to concern as she saw the pale figure of the consulting detective enter the hotel. His usually kind face was twisted and angry, his steps hurried as he cut across the lobby towards the attendant.
“Sherlock Holmes. My colleague rented a room here. I require the key” Molly heard Sherlock’s deep voice command. The attendant tenuously handed the key over. Sherlock snatched it, eyed both Molly and Watson, and turned to go up the stairs.
Molly sat, entranced. She had never seen Sherlock behave this way. Had the personality she had seen on the ship been a ruse? Did she actually know anything about these two men she was traveling with? After all, Lady Cunningham had warned her against traveling with these men. As though Dr. Watson could read her mind, his kind voice cut through her thoughts: “It’s not you. It’s the case. He gets like that. He takes his work very seriously. We deal with some of the worst people you can imagine. It can take a toll. Don’t worry, I’m sure he will be back to his usual affable grump in no time.”
Molly felt worries slightly assuaged, “Yes. I suppose working with criminals and seeing crimes all day would take its toll on a person’s constitution. I think I will retire for the evening Dr. Watson, it is becoming difficult to read in the low light.”
“Of course, Dr. Hooper. I shall see you tomorrow.”
Molly headed up to her bedchambers, still second guessing herself. Had she been swept off her feet by yet another ill-tempered man who would leave her second guessing everything about herself? She felt silly even worrying about it. It was not as though she and Mr. Holmes were courting. And even if they were, an angry glance was no reason to cast doubt on a person’s entire character. Oh damn her heart and mind for making her feel this way. Molly felt her face flush.
As she rounded the corner, she ran into something hard and immovable.
“Molly. Just the person I was looking for.” Sherlock stepped back slightly so he could see her face.
“Sherlock. I was..” she stammered. She had not expected to run into him this evening and at such a late hour “I was just headed to bed.”
“Ah yes. I’m sure you and John have been busy reading all of those periodicals. Reading does seem to make most people drowsy I suppose.” Sherlock stood there. He noticed everything about Molly seemed to be herself, yet tired. Her normally coiffed hair was beginning to sag and fall around her face. Sherlock resisted the urge to push it back into its place. His breath caught in his throat. He coughed slightly, “Well, tomorrow morning I would very much like to have a cup of tea and go over anything you have found.”
“Oh, yes. That sounds nice. I made some notes about a few things. There are definitely a few things to go over.” Molly smiled, suddenly not feeling tired at all. She felt like she could stay up all night talking to Sherlock about robberies, vandalism, and kidnappings. She then chided herself for being so morbid.
Sherlock gave her a slight look of surprise, “Really? I’m glad you’ve taken to it so quickly. I look forward to it.” He gave her a small smile. He did not want to quit talking to her. Talking to Molly was always like a small dose of his old drug of choice. It made his heart pound, his blood pump, and made him feel happy, which was no small feat. Rarely could he drown out all of the external stimuli his gifted mind was constantly filtering, but when he stopped to speak with Molly, it all stopped. However, for tonight, he could not think of anything else to say worth keeping a tired young woman from her bed.
Molly smiled back, “Well, tomorrow then.” She moved past Sherlock and towards her room. Molly suddenly felt brave. “Sherlock?”
He turned to face her. “Hmm?”
“If you ever need to talk about anything, not just the cases or medical files, or anything like that, you can have me. You can talk to me.” Molly managed to get the words out of her mouth, and turned before Sherlock could see her turn a shade of crimson as she went to her bedroom for the night.
Hello all! I got two new jobs back in March which I looove but they start at 5 am so my schedule has totally shifted! I used to read and write from midnight until around 3 am. now most niights I try to be in bed around 11. Things have finally calmed down a bit and while I am still getting up early, my daughter is able to play by herself from time to time now which lets me get some writing done. SO hopefully we should be back to regular updates!
Pleas enjoy and thanks for all the comment and kudos. They really make me happy.
The sun slowly crept across Molly’s face. Her pulse quickened; where was she? A hotel. New York City. Safe. Safe? Yes. Safe. She willed herself to calm. She was to meet Sherlock for tea this morning and discuss her case notes. She rolled over, away from the light; what was she doing here? She asked herself once more. What had she signed up for? Molly sighed, a life of adventure she supposed. She had not quite thought about the details too much until last night sitting with Dr. Watson. How long would she accompany these two? For the duration of this case? Until they decided to settle down and leave her? Until they returned to England? She had no idea. All she knew was that this was better than being prisoner. Molly rolled back over towards the sunlight, allowing the rays to warm her. Yes. This new life would do just fine.
Molly filled her wash basin and splashed her face with the cool water, allowing herself to wake up more fully. Today she would be going to the medical college with Dr. Watson to acquire more recent pathology journals. She dressed herself and headed for the lobby.
Sherlock had already arrived, sitting next to a tea pot and two empty cups. His fingers were steepled against his chin, his eyes lost in thought; his usually slicked back hair allowing a curl to escape onto his forehead. Molly found herself feeling a fluttering in her stomach and warmth spreading across her cheeks.
Sherlock looked up, their eyes meeting for a moment. He stood up. “Molly. Good morning to you. I trust you slept alright?”
Molly smiled, walking over towards the empty chair. “Oh yes. To tell the truth, I never slept well on the ship. I believe I had some subconscious fear of the ship sinking and it always prevented me from entering a truly restful slumber. However, given the fact that the hotel is quite unlikely to sink and does not rock side to side, I slept like a corpse last night.” Molly put her hand up to her mouth, embarrassed at the improper euphemism that had escaped her lips. If Sherlock noticed he did not care. He gave her a smile, beginning to sit down.
“Yes, that makes sense. However there is always the risk of fire. Or robbery. Or murder. Sugar in your tea?”
“Yes. Thank you.” Molly sat down. She briefly reflected on how nice it was that around Sherlock she did not need to be self-conscious about her morbid nature. He was more used to death and violence than she herself. It made Molly happy and sad at the same time; she could not quite explain it.
“Alright. Molly. Your reflections on what you read yesterday?” Sherlock lifted his tea cup to his lips and leaned back in his seat, prepared to listen.
“Ok. So I’ve never done this before. But looking at these 5 particular cases, they are listed as suicides. But it doesn’t add up to me. I’ve seen my share of suicides unfortunately and these just stand out as wrong.”
“Wrong?” Sherlock repeated.
“Yes.” Molly responded. “May I?” She gestured to the stack of document Sherlock had brought down to the lobby. Sherlock gave her a nod which indicated she should help herself.
“This man for example.” Molly pulled the first portfolio out. “It says here that suicide was likely due to the bluish hue of his skin, indicating arsenic poisoning. Which by itself would be correct as a pathological diagnosis. But,” She continued.
Sherlock of course already knew most of this, had sorted most of this out in his mind palace and was listening on a superficial level. He appreciated how Molly had parsed through the information and had come up with not just the 4 cases he had deemed suspicious but another one as well. He did not want to interrupt her and ask her which one of her deductions differed from his own. With John he would have done that. But for some reason, he felt a slight sense of decorum for Molly. Perhaps it was because she was new to their group, or perhaps it was due to the light-headedness he felt when he was around her and the way his words almost, almost!, failed him when she was around. He found himself drawn to her mouth when she was speaking. A perfectly peach pair of lips, opening and closing. Forming intelligent thoughts and ideas. Marvelous.
“As I said. The one case alone, or even two would not be cause for concern. Rather, it’s the pattern of cases. Even without taking into account the geographic similarities, the woman who died stands out the most.”
“Why?” Sherlock countered. Molly must have gone through the rest of the cases briefly while he was musing about her mouth and also reciting an opera in his head.
“Women kill themselves too. Not as often as men, but when they do they are more likely to do it by poison. If anything, the woman is the one who is the most likely of these to actually be a suicide.”
“Statistically yes.” Molly responded confidently. “However, this woman had just arrived here from America. She was found in an abandoned apartment, wearing her pink dress and her hat. She is accounted for on the passenger manifest of a ship that arrived just last week.”
Sherlock had to resist the urge to tell her to get to the point. As much as he liked Molly, he did not like being wrong about his deductions.
“Stay with me Sherlock,” Molly said, sensing Sherlock’s waning interest. “If she was fresh off the boat, and was going to kill herself with poison. Where was her trunk?”
Sherlock sat there. His mouth opened. It closed again. He sat there. Molly was a genius. Sherlock’s eyes lit up.
“Where Indeed?!” Sherlock shouted. Rising to his feet.
“Pardon?” Molly asked, joining him.
“The game is afoot Molly! Where is the trunk?” Sherlock strode towards the stairs. Watson was yawning and slowly descending the stairs. “Watson!” Sherlock shouted.
John didn’t so much voice an answer as he looked in Sherlock’s direction, then over to Molly who was following Sherlock asking questions he couldn’t quite make out.
“Watson! Come!” Sherlock barked excitedly.
“Sherlock!” Molly yelled. “What are you talking about?”
Sherlock spun to face Molly, grabbing her by the shoulders, his excitement palpable. “The trunk Molly. That’s the key. Great job!” Sherlock squeezed her. “Brilliant!”
“John, come!” Sherlock turned back to the man on the stairs.
John stood there. “I’m not a dog Sherlock.”
“Of course you’re not. Don’t be ridiculous John, dogs don’t talk back. Let’s go!”
John put his hand up to his face, slowly rubbing it. “Can I at least have a cup of tea Sherlock?” John asked.
“Bah!” Sherlock yelled. “I’m leaving. There’s too much to do. A murderer is on the loose John! But I suppose if someone’s life is worth your cup of tea, then by all means!”
John groaned, gave Molly a forced smile and began to follow Sherlock out.
Molly stood there, file still in hand. She supposed she was at least helpful for Sherlock to have taken off running. Poor John though. She vowed to make sure he got a nice cup of tea whenever they returned. Although Molly had no idea when that would be.
Chapter 16: UPDATE August 2019
yes. 1.5 years later
Having kids and working a lot is rough XD
Hello hello! I haven’t updated in forever. I am now back down to one job and one volunteer position. Yay! I am re-watching Sherlock and decided to get back to this story. I loved the whole vibe of it and it was writing itself, and then bam! I got busy and also kind of got stuck. Walking away from it has allowed me to come back with ideas of how to continue the story in a way that is based on the source material while also allowing for that good old slow-burn romance XD I am working on continuing it this week. So go back, reread, and look for an update this week :)
“Where are we going Sherlock?” Watson asked as they stepped out onto the New York cobblestone.
“The woman’s suicide was at an abandoned house. They discovered the body, but there is no mention of her steamer trunk in either the pathology report or the paper. I need access to the police reports. Taxi!” Sherlock shouted into the air.
“Sherlock, do you really think the police will just hand over a file to you?” John asked as a Hackney cab pulled up beside the men. They entered
“It may take some convincing, however, as you know, I can be very persuasive. I persuaded a man yesterday to divulge the identity of a criminal mastermind, surely a piece of paper can’t be that difficult to acquire. New York City Police Department please“
“You what? Sherlock, we have been in the country less than 24 hours and you are chasing a criminal mastermind?”
“Yes. He is one of the main reasons we traveled here. As I mentioned, the Chicago case has already been solved. That killer is done and won’t kill again. But this man; this Professor. He is just getting started. He perfected his art in London and now he’s here. He’s been here at least two months judging by these suicide cases. And Dr. Hooper’s observation is going to lead us to him. He finally made a mistake. Or one of his many henchman. We must find the trunk.”
Watson sat there for a moment, catching up on all of these facts. As always, Sherlock had not included him in any of this information prior to their traveling. He had come to terms with the erratic behavior of his companion. But, he found himself wondering, what would Molly think of all of this? She had been surprised to see and hear that Sherlock came and went at all hours when they were on a case, and he would take off on his own mid-conversation. Yes. The behavior was quite eccentric and impolite, but Watson had become used to it by now.
“Did you happen to tell Dr. Hooper where we were running off to or did you just leave?”
“I suppose I told her we needed to find the trunk. Whatever she ascertains from that information is up to her.”
Watson groaned. “Sherlock. I believe it would be appreciated if in the future, you tell Molly where we are going and when we might return. We do not want her to worry about us unnecessarily.”
“Why would she worry about us?” Sherlock responded quickly.
Watson calmly reminded himself that Sherlock, while a brilliant detective, was not good at relationships with people and had a hard time anticipating how they might react. “Because we are friends. Friends worry about each other. Would you be worried if Dr. Hooper started shouting she needed to find a trunk, left the hotel, and did not return for hours or days, as you are often wont to do?”
Sherlock sat there for a moment, indulging in John’s pretend. He supposed he would not like it if Molly were to run off and leave no indication of when she would return. He would be concerned for her safety and also he might find himself without her company which would make him…uneasy. Sherlock could not put his finger on the feeling that he would have, but he knew it was not a good one. He coughed. “I see. Should we, turn around to tell her?”
Watson was in disbelief. Sherlock Holmes, who would not allow him time to have a cup of tea this morning , was talking about traveling back to the hotel to tell Molly where they were going.
“No Sherlock, I think at this point in our journey, we ought to continue and try to see a police report and make sure we return in time for midday tea with Ms. Hooper. After that we can discuss our further plans with her.”
“Are you sure John? We can afford for the cab to turn around and let her know.” Sherlock was beginning to grow worried. He had promised Molly that she was making the right decision by traveling with them. If he was making her worried or causing her to rethink their bargain, he needed to remedy it as soon as possible. He did not want to lose her. Her expertise; he corrected himself. He did not want to lose his pathologist.
John imagined himself drinking a nice warm cup of tea. He counted to three to help calm himself down. “It will be fine Sherlock as long as we are not gone all day.”