ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ (sciosophia) wrote in lovingthevolume,
ᴛᴏ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡɪsᴅᴏᴍ

Fic: The Greater Game

The Greater Game
Sherlock | Molly, Jim, Sherlock, John | PG-13 - some swearing | 3569
ʙᴇᴛᴀ finkpishnets | ᴅɪsᴄʟᴀɪᴍᴇʀ just playing in the sandpit | sᴘᴏɪʟᴇʀs Series One

John Watson is neither silent nor dead. This is something Molly needs to fix. She's not the girl he thinks she is.


The thing she likes best is just how much he notices her.

Not in a sexual way, of course – she decided long ago that Sherlock was asexual, or gay, or both (though labels are useless, and she doesn't believe in them) and anyway, he'd never go for someone like her. For the girl that he thinks she is.

She loves it when he notices things, the little particulars that he catches even as he misses the biggest detail of all.

Yes. This is what Molly loves best.

“Has he accepted yet?” she asks, feels the freedom of her natural accent lilting across the words.

Jim doesn't look up from his computer screens, just sips the glass of Romanée-Conti she's poured for him and scrolls through The Science of Deduction.

“No.” He sounds maudlin; she ruffles his hair gently, holds the pill bottle up to the light.

“Just keep playing on his children,” she says, twists her hand so that the pill inside rolls from one side to the other. “He'll do it for them, eventually.”

She'll keeps this one, she thinks, as a memento. That poor and stupid taxi driver will have the rest.

Molly sits in bed with her own glass of wine, later, watches an Open University programme on bacteria that gets half the facts wrong. She thinks about Sherlock, about the game they're setting in motion for him, and her body temperature rises.

She touches a hand to her wine-reddened lips, savours the taste of it in her mouth. Too hard to sustain a drinking habit in London, but the flavour helps her think.

Soon, she thinks. The hairs on her arms stand up – she can feel the deaths already, like echoes – and she stops seeing the television and sees puzzles and questions and excitement, so much excitement, instead.


Molly prides herself on her acting skills. Always has done, but far more so when she's around Sherlock. The great deducer, who doesn't see what stands right in front of him and asks him out for coffee. Oh, he knew what she'd meant when she asked, sidesteps it with a skill that has her heart racing; he just didn't quite see who was asking, is all.

She wonders if this is what love would feel like. It's admiration, she knows that for sure. Finding someone who's just as good as she is – just as brilliant.

Jim is a genius – of course he is, he shares her gene pool after all – and a fantastically mad one at that, but...it's not the same. His genius is terrifying, beautiful even, but it's not foreign or exciting. Maybe it's because he's her brother, her anchor in a sea of idiocy and ennui, but either way – no. It's not the same.

Sherlock, on the other hand. He's outside of the cosy box of her family, of the brilliant parents who haven't seen her grow up and the brother who has. He's something else, and maybe it's that which makes her skin shiver and glee creep up her spine when he comes down here, conducts experiments that make her smile, secretly, when he's not looking at her.

She loves to watch him work; it's why she chose the morgue, after all. Jim's got the upstairs covered but – the time Sherlock spends down here, he spends with her and her alone.

Molly will share him, but only with the silent dead.


John Watson is neither silent nor dead.

This is something Molly needs to fix.


She sees it as a game of cat and mouse, in a way. Lipstick on, lipstick off. She likes the idea that he's been looking at her mouth, even as she knows that he looks at everything and everyone with the same degree of –

Molly's never particularly liked her mouth, thinks it's too small, turns down too strongly, but she looks like their mother and that makes her smile into the mirror in the mornings. They both have their mother's eyes, dark and naturally intense, and one day, when she introduces Jim to Sherlock, she'll wonder why – over and over, why? – he doesn't notice the similarity.

Maybe it's because of John. Simple, boring John, a distraction in the corner. Maybe it's not.

Either way, Molly takes notice of him that first time, as she carries the coffee (black, two sugars) through the door; hears the way he says Afghanistan, sorry how did you - and knows that Sherlock is pulling statements – correct ones, obviously – from thin air.

It makes her glad that she's playing cat and mouse with him. Drawing his attention back where it belongs.

“What happened to the lipstick?”

Ah, she thinks. There you are.

She takes the words big improvement and holds them close to her chest, draws an anatomically correct heart around them in her head as she pays for Jim's new suit. Westwood, of course. He'll smile, promise to pay her back, and she knows that he'll be too busy conjuring 30 million dollars from the air to remember.

She'll let him get away with it, but that's alright. That's what big sisters are for.


Molly enjoys her job.

It's part time, of course – you can't run her and Jim's kind of business on an evening-and-weekends basis – and they're so financially secure it's obscene, but it's perfunctory, gets her where she needs to be, which is close to Sherlock.

But there's something more to it that Molly likes, that makes all the hours when Sherlock is outside walking through her traps something different, something that isn't reigning in Jim or measuring herself against the brilliance of Sherlock's mind or asking why – what makes John Watson so special?

It makes her remember who she is, that just because she's a woman surrounded by men it doesn't mean she's not as brilliant as they are. That she's not even better.

It makes her remember her degree, her master's, her doctorates; the lines of the body and the clockwork inside.

The ways to make the clockwork stop.

“Morning, girls,” she says to the corpses in her morgue, gets to work; waits for Sherlock to finish his study in pink.


Molly has a PhD. Molly has more than one PhD, in fact. She repeats this fact to herself when John Watson – nothing-extraordinary, good-at-his-job, surely so very boring? – finishes moving into 221b Baker Street.

He and Sherlock go out for drinks afterwards, get sidetracked by a man named Mr Eccles with a curious case, and Molly follows them through the city, stop-start images with a timecode on her computer screen.

Yes, Molly has more than one PhD. She repeats this fact to calm the absolute fury burning through her, then calls Jim.

“Black Lotus want some help getting through customs,” she says. “Know any greedy bankers?”

“Greedy in what way?” She can almost hear his expression – languorous, probably still half asleep – over the phone.

“You know what kind of greedy I mean,” she detaches a hand from the phone to adjust her lab coat. “I want to be entertained.”


The thing about Jim is that, for all his brilliance – for the way his intelligence burns changes into the world – he's not the best when it comes to running a business.

He's too chaotic, too changeable to keep things neat and organised, and so it falls to Molly to be the one keeping track of clients and money and bank accounts. They have staff, of course – what business doesn't? Things don't change just because you consult in crime – but Molly is the one keeping the good ship Moriarty running behind the scenes.

Jim is the pretty face and threat of psychosis presented to clients, dreaming up insane plans on a permanent caffeine buzz; Molly is the enabler, threading his schemes together into coherent wholes.

It's a natural extension of their relationship, she thinks. Molly has always looked out for her little brother (he's the only thing in this word she could label as loved with any kind of certainty), has been his only parent since she was taller than him, and the dynamic follows them into adulthood.

“Black Lotus are insufferable,” he says, slouches next to the vast windows. He's silhouetted against the glass, looks out on the street below with a frown.

“Most people are. What's wrong, darling?” Molly adjusts the lens on her microscope; the fibres lose and then gain focus.

“Oh, just someone with an extraneous grudge. Against a girl who likes teapots,” he turns from the window, opens one of the laptops perched on the sideboard. “And the woman in charge is ridiculous, frankly." 

He pauses, stares darkly at his screen. “The ennui, Molly,” he whines, and she can see him clenching his hands into white-knuckled fists.

Molly learned to navigate Jim's mood swings long ago, just changes the slide under her microscope and makes a mental note to move her things from the dining room table. His fingers unfurl, thankfully, start flying across his keyboard, and she recognises the patterns of sound; guesses coding. It always calms him down.

“These things wouldn't happen if you stopped expecting so much of everyone,” she says. “Thinking's hard for other people.”

“Thinking's hard for anyone but a Moriarty,” Jim grumbles, and Molly thinks of Sherlock and Mycroft and doesn't say a thing.

“Of course, an extraneous grudge works to our advantage,” she says instead. “An extra killing will really push them, don't you think?”

“I know,” Jim's fingers don't miss a beat of their rhythm across the keys. “But people are just so...annoying.”

“Mmm,” Molly agrees. Sherlock will identify the shoes eventually, she decides, leans back from the microscope and rubs her eyes. There are still traces of poison in the flakes of skin, the pollens in the mud identifiable by the St. Barts database (she's checked). She knows from experience the way that a brilliant brain works; she won't have to wait for long.

Molly stretches, gets up from her chair. There's a mirror hanging on the wall – nineteenth century, a gift from a client – and she stops in front of it, hesitates before bringing her hands up and combing her parting to the side.

“What do you think?”

“Wonderful,” Jim says, doesn't look up. “Side-parting?”

“Yeah,” Molly draws her hair to the side, twists it into a bun. “Distracting enough?”

Jim looks up, finally. “He won't be able to keep his eyes off of you.” He grins and blows her reflection a kiss.

Molly doubts that, very much, but for the purpose it will serve it's more than enough. Cat and mouse, she thinks, and blows a kiss back to Jim.


It's remarkable, really, how human he can sound if he wants to.

“I'd stick with the pasta,” he says, and the timbre of his voice resonates in her chest. She likes the way his tongue twists around cadavers, his singular pronunciation of one of her favourite words.

Eddie Van Coon, he says. Brian Lukis. Molly makes a show of checking her clipboard.

“They're on my list.” Of course they are. She lets her flawless accent curl around the words. “The paperwork's already gone through.”

And – ah, bingo. Gaze up to the hair, eyebrows raised. Such a good show of humanity. Molly performs perfectly (they both do).

“It suits you better this way.”

Yes. Yes it does.


And that's another reason to hate John Watson. Molly has put on two and a half pounds (Jim says three) since he barged, entirely unwelcome, into her and Sherlock's lives.

Usually Molly plays the piano when she's stressed, always plays when she's thinking things over – the notes help, make thoughts run easier through her head – but now all it does is bring John bloody Watson to the front of her mind.

When Molly plays the piano, there's always a moment, when her fingers first touch the keys, that she wonders how Sherlock can quite stand the sound of a violin. Molly abhors the violin, frankly, hates the way the bow squeaks across the strings, and Sherlock's penchant for caustic, acerbic notes has always fascinated her.

Why, she thinks, when the piano produces such beautiful sounds? It's association with him has, for Molly, always been the violin's saving grace.

Now, though – when Molly's fingers hit the keys she sees John Watson in Sherlock's (not theirs, Sherlock's) flat, hands no doubt over his ears as Sherlock plays anti-social notes at very definitely anti-social hours. The piano has stopped being about peace and quiet and instead it's yet another reason to think of John Watson, to wonder how on earth he can stand the noise.

But then. Molly would stand it, for Sherlock. Maybe that's why –

It doesn't help that her house is always full of food. Without her piano Molly feels adrift, mind shifting from one thought to the next too fast to control, and so she drinks coffee (black, two sugars) and eats sugary things that help her body keep up with her mind.

It doesn't take long for the extra calories to settle on her figure. Jim pouts and tells her that there's no use having a wardrobe full of designers if she's just going to get fat; she hides his favourite Armani shoes for a week, and they don't talk until he relents and buys her a Gucci dress.


When she introduces Jim to Sherlock she wonders why – over and over, why? - he doesn't see the similarity.

She goes through the routine, perfect from surprise to cautious pride. Then, “and, uh...sorry.”

From the corner. “John Watson, hi.”

Ah. Maybe that's the reason, standing passively in the corner, that Sherlock doesn't see what's right in front him. Sees only what Jim has constructed for him. What Molly has built.

In between real pride at Jim's accent – flawless, perfect, uncatchable, and she's so proud, really – and fake consternation, her mind whirs and clicks over Sherlock's failure – because that's what it is, this detail hung blatantly in front of him and missed, a failure – and over John Watson, in the corner.

Jim can't help but giggle when Molly says office romance – she giggles herself a little, half in-and-out of character, and right on cue Sherlock says, not so quietly – gay.

“Why do you have to spoil – he's not – ” and she can't help it, can't, because her gaze flicks to John Watson, who is so close, so close, to truly spoiling everything.

It's easy to flee – being in the same room as them is making her angry anyway. Jim is waiting around the corner, and when he sees her he grins and begins to laugh, and then Molly is almost hysterical, bent double in joyous pain as laughs wrench themselves from her chest.


She wonders if it's a habit of older siblings, to have the younger ones do all the fetching and carrying and pretending-to-be-gay-straight-whatever; to have them have people wire other people into bombs while they watch.

Delegating. It's something she and Mycroft have in common, at least.

Jim is the face of their business in every way, right down to the victims (chosen to see which ones will pluck best at Sherlock's closed-up heart). He doesn't mind, of course – loves it in fact. He's always been good with people, uses charm and psychosis in equal measures to make them do what he wants, and besides, this is his area of expertise; wires, connections, making maths turn into actions. He could probably build a computer (or a bomb) from parts of the fridge and a toaster, but Molly won't let him try.

She's always been about the proper sciences, the biology and chemistry and physics, and their home is a testament to that (as Jim will remind her, angrily and with big, round eyes, when he finds things coagulating in the fridge; with arguments that usually end in smashed-up kitchens and broken chemistry equipment).

Jim finishes having the boy strapped into the bomb – says that he'll get sweets if he's good and does as they say, and his voice lilts between high and low notes, the way it always does when his adrenaline is spiking – and Molly feels – feels? Feels what?

Excitement, yes. Of course. Sympathy? A sense of right and wrong? No.

She doesn't know why they're missing – never has – and even though she'll never tell him she thinks that perhaps Sherlock – APD'd, detached, sociopathic, won't-go-on-a-date-with-Molly-from-the-morgue, fucking beautiful Sherlock – knows the answer.

“Come on, sweetheart,” Jim says. “Time to make a call for me.”


“Oh, that's brilliant, that is gorgeous!” he says, and even over the tinny connection and the twittering of idiots it sends chills down Molly's spine; makes her nerves spark.

“The Van Buren Supernova,” Sherlock says, and Molly makes it stop.


They sit in the dark, later. Streetlamps cast yellow shadows across the sofas and armchairs, the antiques on the mantelpiece, and Molly stares at the floor, runs her thumb back and forth over her mouth.

“He's brilliant, isn't he?”

“Mmm,” Jim has flung himself into strange shapes on the other sofa, legs over the arm and head on the cushions. His hand rests over his eyes, makes his face half-shadow and half-yellowing-light. “Too much so.”

He pauses – seems to stop breathing for a moment – snaps suddenly up from the sofa and sweeps an arm aimlessly around the dark room, as if hoping for some random object to tumble to the floor and smash.

“I'm bored now. I want to change the plan,” he says. It's plaintive, and Molly's chest feels cold, suddenly. “Let's use the pet.”

Usually Jim's moods are just an obstacle to be carefully manoeuvred around, the kind of thing that you put up with from the baby brother that you've raised alone, but now – she hears the message in Jim's words, and they resonate with her own conclusions, the ones that have made sleeping harder and dark circles bloom under her eyes.

He's too much. He's too clever. He's in the way, Mols.

They're all in Jim's voice, and the parts of Molly that agree with him see business plans and bank balances and rich clientele with strange requests.

See freedom.

The other parts think her heart might break, if she has one.


It's Sherlock's expression that startles her. Yes, she knows all about John Watson by now, spends unhealthy hours thinking about him, round and round in obsessive circles – but this?

If it were someone else she'd laugh, giddy with the power of confusion, betrayal, watching the consequences of her actions shape themselves. Perhaps it's because she doesn't expect it from Sherlock, doesn't expect the way his eyes go just that bit wider when John Watson steps into view.

John Watson's voice echoes in the swimming pool and Molly mouths along with his – Jim's – words. Sherlock looks –


It reminds her of the face she's seen in the mirror, remembering words like two small now (because she may be a sadist, even a masochist with the way she keeps Sherlock so close and doesn't just take him, but he can still hurt her), and it feels – odd. Wrong. Sherlock doesn't get hurt, he hurts other people, and even as she's using his pet as a bargaining chip she hadn't expected to see it so clearly on his face.

She thinks his heart might break a little, if he has one.

People have died, Sherlock says.

That's what people do, and in Jim's words Molly can feel all the pain of their parents, parcelled neatly into one syllable.

The little red dots appear (the ones that have stalked her at night, smeared across her dreams), and they dance over their torsos and faces; Molly feels her rib cage inflating with breath, in-out-in-out –

She feels excitement – yes. Sympathy? A sense of right and wrong? – No. She feels the heart that might be in her chest expand, and the beat rushes in her ears. It's getting closer, she can feel it, the moment

Jim plays with John-and-Sherlock briefly, false hope, and why, why does Sherlock looks so relieved when he thinks that it's over? John Watson is nothing special, and the thought beats at her temples, why why why, what about me? as she watches, in her heartbeat and her pulse and it burns – Jim burns, burns them even as he's about to burn her – and then –


The game goes on, Molly thinks, and the parts of her that see business plans and bank balances and rich clientele with strange requests are quiet, now.

The other parts are repairing the ghost in her chest, ready to break it again and again. A masochist, yes, for keeping him close and not just taking him

She smiles. Sherlock Holmes. Molly Moriarty.

They've always liked to play games.

Tags: !fic, character: sherlock: jim moriarty, character: sherlock: john watson, character: sherlock: molly hooper, character: sherlock: sherlock holmes, pairing: sherlock/john, pairing: sherlock/molly, tv: sherlock
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