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Histories (Part 1/17)

BBC Sherlock

Rating 15 (alcoholism, drug-taking, explicit femslash and slash, homophobia, swearing, vomiting)

Sequel to Birthday Surprise and Launch Off in which Molly gets together with Dr Harriet Watson, historian of eighteenth-century women and recovering alcoholic

Summary: A difficult weekend for Molly, Harry, John and Sherlock brings back a lot of memories

Huge thanks to my beta Blooms84 for tackling this monster and making extremely helpful suggestions

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Parts 5 & 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 & 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17

 
1) Friday afternoon: Molly

A couple more hours to go, Molly thought, as she sat in the office of the mortuary. She could cope for that long, she had to. Thank goodness it had been quiet today, mainly paperwork to catch up on. Just one more form to fill in. Date of death (state if provisional or confirmed): 21st March 2011 (provisional).  Double-check that, because she didn't want to make any careless errors. She was determined not to cry, but it wasn't easy. For all her professionalism, it was hard to focus on work when she’d just broken up with Harry. Date of death of relationship: 24th March 2011 (confirmed).

It had taken all of Molly’s courage to leave Harry. But a woman of thirty-two, with two divorces behind her, should not be staying in a relationship that was heading for disaster. That had been her mistake before, to think that things could be fixed, when they clearly couldn’t be. To see what was going wrong, but not observe it, recognise it. That was why she hadn’t broken up with Peter Smith or Paul Kablinski, even when she should have done.

This time was going to be different. For her sake, she’d had to act. For Harry’s sake, even. She was not prepared to indulge, to enable Harry's destructive habits. This wasn’t going to be the story of Molly Smith all over again. 

***

Molly Smith (1998-2002)

You could put her marriage to Peter down to a youthful mistake: they’d both been ridiculously young. Who got married aged twenty, part way through medical school? She did, because it had been Peter's bright idea. Peter was the one who always had the bright ideas. He was the brilliant one; she’d realised that the first time they’d met, in the long, lazy summer before they both went to university in London. He was the one who’d had the bright idea of them moving in together when they got to London, saving money on rent, even if it had been Molly who'd sorted out the practical details of where. He was the one who taught her about London, and about sex, and who had attempted to teach her about particle physics, and programming, and atonal music.

She hadn't properly observed what was happening even when Peter had left his course at Imperial early in the second year. He’d been accused of ‘lack of application’, which was deeply unfair. Peter’s brain, his interests, moved so fast that he found an ordinary course stultifying. Dropping out of college hadn’t harmed Bill Gates, why shouldn’t Peter be a success? There were all sorts of things he could do.
There were too many things Peter could do, and he got bored of them too quickly. The only thing he didn’t get bored of, but relied on was Molly. Molly was his rock, a rock for Peter, Petros the rock. Other people might think it was stupid to get married at twenty, say you couldn’t really know what you wanted, but Peter knew better. Peter always knew better.

Molly didn’t know any better, which was why she stuck with Peter for so long, because surely, if he was brilliant and she loved him, things would work out eventually? You didn’t get to be a doctor by giving in when the going got tough. But it was getting tougher. Peter didn’t want to talk to her about physics or music now, or go out and explore London with her...or have sex, most of the time. He spent his life staring at a computer screen, or pacing the streets of London alone. Or getting reassurance from Molly. Or arguing with her. Too often now, she wasn’t Peter’s rock. Instead she was the boulder weighing him down, blocking his path.

But she stayed, because she wanted to prove the friends wrong who were telling her that she'd made a mistake. And because she didn’t know what else to do. And then Sherlock appeared, and started to experiment on her.

***

She’d once written something embarrassing on her blog about love at first sight. It would have been much, much worse if she’d admitted she’d been in and out of love with Sherlock for eight years. Well, mostly in. Although you could hardly call it staying in a relationship for too long if you’d never actually had a relationship.

She’d met Sherlock when she was being a guinea pig (before he’d turned her into a mouse). Medical  trials had been a way to make extra money in her final years as a student, to meet Peter’s ever-increasing need for expensive computer equipment. And it was contributing to research. She’d stuck to the safer options - nutrition, neurology, psychology - and soon had a detailed knowledge of her reaction to sugary food, the patterns of her brainwaves, and her mild neuroses.

Sherlock had been vaguely attached to Queen Mary College at the time, and doing experiments on memory and perception. She’d carried out a few studies for him, but not only had she completely missed someone in a gorilla suit popping up in a video, she knew she'd barely have noticed an actual gorilla sitting in her lap if he was around. She was thoroughly distracted by dreaming about him, his dishevelled black curls, his pale, pale blue eyes. He’d probably not even registered her, she thought, until he came up to her one day after an experiment, and said:

"It’s Molly, isn’t it? Ms Molly Hooper-Smith?" His voice was deep, and when he spoke it sent shivers down her spine.

"Mrs Molly Smith," she said. Peter preferred that.

"I have a rather unusual proposition for you," he said. "A psychology experiment. Do you drink at all?"

She wasn’t sure of the right answer. "Um, a glass or two of wine sometimes, not that much."

He smiled disturbingly. "That’s good. I’m conducting an experiment on alcohol consumption and inhibitions, but the ethics committee have turned this one down flatly, so I’m going to need to do it unofficially. I’d like you to come round to my flat."

"I see," said Molly, and she found herself saying. "To do what?"

"I’ll get you drunk, while asking you questions. Personal questions, ones you probably wouldn’t answer when sober. And I'll record the results. You’d be paid well, of course, this is a far more intrusive experiment than normal."

She was almost certain she knew what he intended, but the mention of money made her slightly queasy. On the other hand, she and Peter were particularly short of cash this month, and she...liked Sherlock. It wasn't as if Peter wanted her in bed anymore. In the evenings, she'd put her hand on his shoulder, sometimes, as he sat hunched over his laptop, and he'd squirm and tell her to leave him alone. Maybe she should show Peter that someone else was interested in her.

"I’d like to help you out," she said, staring up at him as confidently as she could.  

***

Sherlock's flat was cramped, crowded with piles of papers and glassware and even a skull, and as she sat at the kitchen table in her best black dress, Molly felt it was still rather like a scientific experiment. Especially when Sherlock started running through a checklist of questions about her age, height, weight and patterns of alcohol consumption. But he didn't look like a scientist, in his smart trousers and beautifully fitted dark blue shirt. He looked edible.

"You normally drink only a glass or two of wine at social events," he said. "We'll start with three glasses then. You haven't eaten recently, have you?"

"No," she said. Even if he hadn't warned her about that, she'd have been too nervous to have anything. "Three glasses is going to get me pretty far gone, you know."

"That's the idea," he said. "In the case I'm interested in, the victim, who was normally a light drinker, drank half a bottle quite rapidly, under the stress of a recent divorce. I'm wanting to assess the likely effects on her conversation."

"The victim?"

"It's a specific case I'm interested in, a matter of criminal psychology. Don't worry, you can stay here till you sober up. You'll be in no danger."

He smiled at her, a friendly smile, she thought. Hoped. I could walk out of the door now, she told herself. That's the sensible thing to do, and I've always been sensible. Except, of course, where clever men were concerned. She stayed where she was.

"Right," said Sherlock. "Three glasses, at ten minute intervals. In between, just sit there and imagine you're a woman with an unhappy love life. You're having rather better wine than Mrs Armitage would have been drinking, but the alcohol content's similar."

Molly gulped down the first glass nervously and then sat, and tried not to look at Sherlock and not to think about Peter. She drank the second glass and found herself staring at Sherlock's gorgeous, impassive face, simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. A god, a monster. She drank the third glass and he smiled at her and said:

"What's 15 times 15?"

"225," she said after a little hesitation. She was relieved that her voice was still clear, even if her mind wasn't.  The questions started to pour out of Sherlock:

"Name the noble gases in order."

"Who was the first boy you kissed?"

"How many brothers and sisters do you have?"

"At what age did you lose your virginity?"

"17," she said. "It was Peter, my husband, well, he wasn't my husband then."

"I just need to know the age. Have you ever slept with a woman?"

"No."

"Have you ever slept with a man apart from your husband?"

"No," she said, and she knew she was blushing.

"Has your husband ever cheated on you?"

"No," she whispered. "He's not been physically unfaithful."

"Have you ever fantasized about men other than your husband?"

"Yes," she said. She wanted to say: You didn't need to do all this, I would have told you the truth without you getting me drunk. But she didn't know how to explain, and it was so hard to think straight.

"Have you ever thought about cheating on your husband?"

"No...yes...no." The way he looked at her as if he wanted to see into her soul was amazing, she thought dreamily. There was no turning back now; he could do whatever he wanted with her.

Sherlock opened his gorgeous, gorgeous mouth and said:

"Have you ever cheated on an exam?"

Why was he asking her that?

"Have you ever cheated on an exam?" he repeated. She mustn't lie to him. She couldn't lie to him.

"No."

"Ever been tempted to?"

"No!"

"Have you ever shoplifted?"

"No."

"Ever been tempted to?"

"Once," she said, and was suddenly amazed at her own coherence. "A friend of mine did it, aged fifteen. Stole a bag from a shop. They had him up in court, and they had a string of teachers saying how well-behaved and clever he was, how successful he was going to be. And I thought, I thought, maybe if I did something like that, they'd say those things about me, wouldn't just take me for granted."

Sherlock smiled. "You're doing very well, Molly. Have another glass of wine."

***

After that there were only fragments. A peculiarly intense look on Sherlock's face as he asked: "Ever been tempted to kill your older brother?" Simple mathematical questions that she couldn't work out, even when she used her fingers. And the moment when Sherlock had reached out and held her shoulder for a moment, and said, in that infinitively seductive voice: "Tell me your answer, Molly. I need to know." She had a vague memory that that had been the question about her favourite fruit.

***

She woke up next morning in Sherlock's bed, and through the agony in her skull, gradually realised three things. That she was still fully dressed, apart from her shoes. That Sherlock was also fully dressed, sitting at a desk in the bedroom, writing. And that she was about to be very, very sick...

"Sherlock!" she moaned.

"Good, you're awake," said Sherlock, and in a quick movement he was beside the bed. With a bucket.

***

The efficient and impersonal way he held her till she'd stopped vomiting, and then gave her isotonic drinks and aspirin, told her, as if she needed to know, that he felt no desire for her. When she was finally able to sit up and focus, he said:

"Thank you for your help last night. I've got a couple of things for you before you go. The first is, well, call it a contribution towards your rent for the next couple of months. I've got quite a lot of research funds at the moment, and I think you've earned the money."

"Thank you," breathed Molly, when she saw the size of the cheque. This was turning into a bit of a fairy tale after all, if a rather strange one.

"And what's the other thing?"

"A transcript from last night. I want you to look through your answers and mark with a cross all the statements you wouldn't have made when sober. I've got to go now, so just let yourself out the flat when you've finished. And let me know if you want to see a copy of my final report."

***

Bizarrely, it wasn't what she'd said about her sex life that was most embarrassing, the statements she wanted to put a dozen crosses against. It was her attempt to sing her favourite song, because she couldn't remember the title. Either that or the moment when she'd told Sherlock that he had a beautiful soul.

***

The hangover faded soon, but not the shame. The fact that Sherlock knew everything about her now. And the fact that she'd wanted Peter to realise something was happening, to ask where she'd spent the night, where the extra money had come from. But Peter hadn't noticed, and, after all, there was nothing for him to notice. Nothing had happened, and she didn't have the guts to tell Peter what she'd wanted to happen. She'd just gone back to hanging onto her marriage for a little longer, till – inevitably – Peter came up with a bright idea for his life that didn't involve her.

***

Why did I do it, Molly wondered. Why did I think I could sort out Peter and end up making things worse, hang on in there and just make us both more miserable? And now it was happening again with Harry: the first signs of the disaster to come. She'd always known it was going to be hard for Harry to stop drinking, that there might be relapses. But six bottles of whisky in a cupboard in the flat? That wasn't a lapse, that could only be Harry choosing to destroy herself.

Even then, she might have forgiven Harry, if she'd just told Molly the truth. Admitted what she'd done, that she needed help. But how could you help someone who just lied to you? A stupid, stupid lie about not knowing where the bottles had come from, as if some mysterious force from above had deposited the bottles in Harry's flat. Had Harry so little respect for her that she couldn't even be bothered to tell Molly a vaguely convincing story? Did she seem to Harry to be as soft a touch as that?

Or was Harry's brilliant, beautiful mind starting to crumble from the years she'd been poisoning it? Did she no longer know what she was doing, had done? Choosing to destroy herself or already destroyed: whichever it was she couldn't bear to wait and see it happen. There was nothing she could do that would help, even if she did stay; the only sensible choice was to get out.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kalypso_v
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Desperately hoping that someone has framed Harry with the whisky, improbable as that seems. Because I still think she's a better bet than Peter, and of course Sherlock (much as I admire the depiction of his blend of you-total-bastard exploitativeness and practicality).

Obligatory unexpected reference to my past: QMC (my sister's college). Obligatory pointing out of typo: For's in third par.
marysutherland
Sep. 15th, 2011 10:04 am (UTC)
Desperately hoping that someone has framed Harry with the whisky, improbable as that seems.

But surely you remember that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

As for Sherlock being exploitative but in a totally non-sexual way, I thought I'd painted myself into a corner in Launch Off by having him say that he'd known Molly for a long time and had even seen her drunk. But then I realised how I could work that into a scene instead. I'm afraid poor Molly has not had the last of Sherlock's manipulations yet. (And she's still got another appalling ex-husband to reflect on later).
kalypso_v
Sep. 15th, 2011 10:52 am (UTC)
Phew. I think.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )