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The tears finally rose to the surface when Molly locked eyes with the detective, but it wasn't from her own fear. She was terrified for him and what her death would do to him, because whether she liked it or not, Moriarty was right; Sherlock was not a man who coped with guilt all too well. He lived by equal morals, liked to have every game even and fair. He was in Molly's debt and always would be, so her death would shake up his way of seeing things. Guilt could break down even the strongest of men, and right now Molly was the key to Sherlock's self-destruction.

"Miss me?" Moriarty cooed, just like he had in the announcement of his return. Molly instinctively clawed at his arm around her throat, letting the tears fall as she tried to loosen the grip he had on her. She could barely see, the blur of her tears and the mistiness of terror almost blinding. She felt like she could taste her own heart in her mouth, and her stomach clenched like a fist so hard it made her want to cry out. She could feel her blood, thick and warm on her skin, alarming her horrifically. Red dotted her vision; red for anger, red for terror… red for the end.

"Funnily, no, I didn't." Sherlock said slowly, his voice deadly but calm. Moriarty's grip tightened ever so slightly, like the coil of a snake in the process of suffocating its prey. Molly gasped, finding it increasingly difficult to breathe, and instead tried to focus entirely on Sherlock. She stared desperately at his face, his eyes, his movements, watching him because it was the only thing she knew was safe. Sherlock was safe. Molly tried to cling on to that mere belief, because right now it was the only thing she had left.

The gun pressed harder into her temple, and a sob broke through the block in her throat. Pain exploded in her head, and still she stared at Sherlock. He stared back, slightly closer now, but his companions hadn't moved. They stood completely still, watching, their faces half hidden in shadows in the doorway. She could see that they were male, pale and very intense looking, and flashes of Sherlock's 'Homeless Network' sprung to mind. That both comforted her and concerned her.

"That hurts, Shirley." Moriarty drawled, and Molly could practically feet his pout against her hair. "I thought it would be good for us to meet again, especially with a spice of drama." He rocked Molly this way and that painfully, making her cry out with a brittle voice. Her nails fought into his arm, nails sharp and demanding for her release, but he hardly seemed to notice. Sherlock took another step, and Moriarty yanked her away. "Ah, ah, ah!"

"Let her go," Sherlock said slowly, the venom in his tone thick and frightening, his crystal eyes flashing.

"Hmm… how about no?" Moriarty cackled, hiding his face in her neck. Molly squirmed, his touch equivalent to spiders crawling up her arm. She felt his head jerk as he gestured to the strangers in the doorway. "Who are your friends?"

"None of your concern." Sherlock told him, his voice dropping lower. "Let her go."

The pressure of the gun on her temple intensified even more, and this time Molly let out loud scream, only to be shushed by the monster holding her. "Shh, shh, quiet now, Molls, you'll draw unwanted attention." He placed a cold kiss on her cheekbone, licking away a tear in the process.

"Please," she begged in a whisper, the words escaping her before she could stop them. "Please…. Don't—!"

"SHUT UP!" Moriarty howled, and the white shock of pain that hit her in the side of her head knocked her sideways.

She heard the cry of her name before the ringing settled in her ears, loud and torturous. She was on the ground, the floor cool and damp beneath her palms, small rocks digging into her knees through her jeans. She couldn't see through the delirium that was her fear and confusion, the beat in her head so intense she thought she could see the pulse of her own heart behind her eyes. Something warm trickled down the side of her face, over her cheek and finally dripping from her chin. She could smell it, salty like rust.

She must have passed out for a few minutes. The closing of her eyes was all it took for her to wake up somewhere else, somewhere both warm and cold. She recognised the brown carpet, the cream walls coated in photos, the roaring of the fireplace. She knew the smell, sweet and mouth-watering because of the baking cookie smell drifting from the kitchen. Molly knew where she was, and she knew how old she was. She was a child again, trapped in a ten year old body. She could even feel the fresh fleeting of her young heart and the natural softness of her hair, a few shades darker back then. She felt young and alive, yet the loneliness was all too familiar.

"Mum, will you help me?" her little voice said. She was on the floor near the fire, the heat almost burning the side of her face as she stared at her mum in the chair. She had her notebook on the floor at her knees, open on a blank page, and a worksheet was beside her with math questions. But her mum didn't respond. She just sat there, staring into space, the smell of cookies slowly turning to a smell of something burning. She would occasionally take a sip of the glass of red wine in her hand, but other than that, she looked like she wasn't even conscious of the world, let alone her daughter. "Mum?"

"Quiet, Molly." Her mother said flatly, not looking at her.

"But I need your help." Molly protested, the fire raging louder beside her, as if its temper was heating just like hers was. Her mother had been like this for weeks, and she was slowly getting worse. Molly would often catch her sobbing in her room, weeping, whispering her father's name. She often tried to help but she was always shunned, and now she just got annoyed. Her father was dead, and he had been dead for six months. He wasn't coming back.

"I said be quiet." Her mother repeated, her tone shifting as well. Molly straightened her back and squared her shoulders, glaring hotly at her mother. The woman glared back, finally looking at her, and her eyes looked so empty it was like looking into black pits.

"But I need your help." Molly growled, folding her arms.

"Molly." Her mother snapped her name with a thick warning embedded into it. Weeks ago, the tone would have silenced Molly, but not now.

"Dad would help me." She said, and the stiffness that tugged throughout her mother's body told Molly that she'd crossed the line. But, being the brave little girl that she was, she no longer felt afraid or ashamed. What her mother was doing was wrong. Yes, she was allowed to grieve, yes, she was allowed to be sad, but she was not allowed to block out her own daughter. Molly needed her more than anyone, and right now she was being a terrible mother.

"Shut up," her mother snarled, gripping the arms of the chair. Molly wasn't one to relent.

"He'd help me with anything; colouring, reading, homework—"

"Have you gone deaf? Shut. Up!"

"He always said that he'd be there to help me, as well as you, and right now I need your help!"

It was then that Molly would never speak to her mother again. "SHUT UP YOU LITTLE BITCH!" Molly watched as her Molly rose from the chair and stormed out of the room, running up the stairs before locking herself in her bedroom like a child. Molly sat there was a long time, tears in her eyes yet refusing to fall. What was the use in crying? No one cared anymore. Her father was dead, and he had taken her mother's love with him. At ten years old, Molly was alone.

Rising from the floor, little Molly padded calmly to the kitchen and opened the oven. The cookies had become a routine habit for her mother, a way of distracting herself, but she always burned them. So with care Molly pulled them out with oven gloves and placed them on the side, a dozen black circles that would later be tossed away. Then she returned to her living and packed her school work back into her bag, the fire continuing to blaze by her side.

An hour later, Molly had packed a large camping bag full of her clothes and one of her teddies. She was at the front door, staring at the handle, listening to her mother's sobs. It was then that she knew she no longer mattered to the world, that she no longer counted. She could never ask anyone for help in fear of them shunning her. She could never love someone in fear of them turning their back on her. She thought that she would never be able to be happy again, and living under the same roof as her mother wasn't going to help matters.

So she left. Luckily, her aunt lived just fifteen minutes away from her home, and she was on her father's side. She'd take care of Molly, and she did exactly that.

Molly came back to reality when the door on the passed closed with her exit. She was back in the warehouse, a body standing over her, and she no longer felt the warmth of a fire. She was back, and she was still alive. Keeping her eyes closed, she listened to the voice over her, speaking slowly with a bored tone. She felt her blood boil as his words rained down on her.

"She never did know how to shut up, did she?" Moriarty was saying. "Blah, blah, blah, it was so annoying. Half the time she just sputters like a scared puppy! How many times have you felt the need to tell her to shut up?"

"I tell everyone to shut up when I need to think, but general ramblings don't bother me," a second voice said, cooler, smoother; Sherlock. "I'm afraid Molly's chatter only annoys you."

"Ah, yes, because you care about little Molls." Moriarty said mockingly. "You actually care about her feelings. How adorably boring."

"I find it endearing." Sherlock said simply. "Human error is sometimes comforting."

"Oh? Sherlock, you have gone soft. You're almost human!"

It was quiet for a moment. Molly felt the cold roll in on her, hugging her, beckoning her to shiver and give her away. She could feel it cooling in her lungs, icy cold, but it helped her calm herself and think more clearly. She was in terrible pain, and certainly needed medical attention, but she needed to focus now. For once, Molly was able to shut up and think about what she was doing. She'd gone through so much that the fear became an afterthought, and that clarity was the new way of surviving.

Everyone told her to shut up; her mother, her schools friends, the many people she loved. Perhaps it was actually time to obey them and use her silence against all the wrong they had done her.

Shut up, Molly, you don't know anything!

Don't make jokes, Molly.

For God's sake, Molly, do you ever know when to shut up?

No one cares, Molly!

SHUT UP YOU LITTLE BITCH!

Her eyes snapped open, and she clenched her jaw. Her nails dug into the concrete ground, sharpening them. She caught sight of Moriarty's leg just by her stomach, his legs parted over her, the gun held lazily in the direction of her face as he spoke to Sherlock. The hooded men still hadn't moved behind Sherlock, but Molly knew they were watching her, waiting to help. She was about to give them that chance. Moriarty hadn't noticed her, because no one ever did. Right now she didn't matter to him, and that was just what she needed.

If she knew anything, Moriarty wouldn't take any notice of her for a few minutes. His fixation with Sherlock was his own downfall, and that gave her a chance. Slowly she moved, drawing her knee up with patient gradualness. She moved her arm so that it folded onto her stomach, a lash out from the gun. She waited, breathing steadily, calculating her moves. She had to be quick and she had to be silent.

Most importantly, she had to be brave.

"You'll always be my brave baby girl," her father's voice whispered. "always so brave and selfless. Never lose that, Molls, never."

Molly set her jaw. Her heart began to pound like a punching fist in her chest. Her blood began to surge violently in her veins.

Moriarty was chuckling above her. "Molly may have counted, Sherlock, but she never really mattered."

Sherlock was quiet for a further moment before he smirked, the corner of his mouth turning up in mockery. "Oh, I wouldn't say that." he said, and then he looked at Molly.

Now! Molly lashed up and snatched Moriarty's wrist with the gun, yanking down towards her. He yelled out with surprise, toppling, and Molly brought up her feet right between his legs. He screamed as she pushed, launching him into the air and away from her, sending him rolling across the ground. The gun clattered away from his hand and Molly staggered to her feet, reaching for it, desperate to grab it tightly between her hands.

The men in the hoods reached her first. They grabbed her on either side and dragged her towards the door, making her scream in protest. The gun, she needed the gun! She had to end what Moriarty started, she had to punish him for what he did to her. She had to hurt him! Yelling out through the pain and frustration of what was happening, Molly began to sob and beg, trying to pull free from the men holding onto her. They stank of the darker streets of London, and dammit were they strong!

"Molly!" she heard her name and then Sherlock was suddenly there, grasping her shoulder and shaking her, urging her to focus. "Molly, you don't want to do that, that's not what you want! You don't want to hurt anyone!"

"I want to hurt him!" she shrieked, yanking against the men hanging onto her, and Sherlock grabbed her face between his hands. She found herself staring into his eyes, clear as glass, desperate. She could see her own reflection, terrified and bloody, wild with a want that was beyond her nature. She sagged, sobbing, the clenching in her gut agonising. She was shaking like a leaf, so afraid and angry and hurt, and it was a wonder how she hadn't collapsed on the ground already.

"No," Sherlock whispered. "you don't. That's not who you are. You're Molly Hooper, not a killer." He kissed her forehead, his breath shuddering, and Molly finally broke down. "Get her out of here." Sherlock said sternly, releasing Molly's face and turning away. One of the men bent down and lifted her into their arms, carrying her like she weighed nothing more than a feather. She didn't care anymore.

She listened to the groaning of Moriarty, pained and momentarily broken. She wanted to take comfort in that, but Sherlock was right; Molly could never enjoy someone else's pain, no matter who they were or what they'd done. That just wasn't her. She was brave, but like her father had once told her, she was also very selfless. She'd do anything for those she loved, but she would never hurt anyone for her own personal gain.

As the man carrying her began to jog away from the scene, where violent punching sounds began to take place followed by deep grunts of pain, Molly closed her eyes and continued to cry. The man running alongside them was panting, struggling to keep up, but he managed to gasp out some words that made Molly stop crying.

"That… was brilliant… Miss."

She opened her eyes, and allowed herself to smile a little.


One more chapter after this and then its over, thank you all for following, favouriting and reviewing, you're brilliant!