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Summary: Sherlock needs a decoy wife for a case; and Molly is more willing to help than she wants to admit. It might have something to do with his chosen disguise.

Rating: M

A/N - I don't even know.

The Decoy Wife

Part Seven

Sherlock didn’t bother trying to hide his curls in the morning (although he did put on the glasses that never failed to make her tummy—and lower—clench). Molly wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or not. It could mean that he was too focused on the case to care about maintaining the Scott Hooper persona; or it could mean that he’d decided there was nothing more to gain by remaining undercover and he no longer cared if someone recognized him as the famous Consulting Detective.

Before she could work up the nerve to ask, he grabbed their jackets and tossed hers toward her. “Not here. We’ll talk outside.”

“Do you think the room is bugged?” Molly’s cheeks flushed at the thought of who might have been listening to them the night before.

“Of course not. I’m just tired of looking at all this cheap reproduction garbage Michelle and Simon are trying to pass off as antique Victorian.”

Molly wasn’t sure what authentic Victorian era furniture was supposed to look like as she tended to buy her sofas and chairs strictly for comfort and functionality rather than looks; so, she was more than willing to take Sherlock’s word for it. Everything in the room seemed posh and expensive (if a little worn in some places) to her.

Sherlock ducked into the dining room just long enough to get a bagel for Molly. “You get cranky when you’re hungry.”

She put it into her jacket pocket and thought about what Robbie had said during his session. About doing things to show someone you loved them without necessarily saying the words. Her answering smile was, perhaps, a bit brighter than a simple bagel warranted, but Sherlock didn’t say anything about it.

He led her outside and into the trees behind the Villa. Molly knew there would be no repeat of the other morning; yesterday’s playful mood was nowhere to be seen. They went deeper into the woods than the day before, stopping next to a ravine when Sherlock decided they were far enough away from Happy Hearts for his liking. The shallow creek at the bottom of the ravine provided a soft background babbling noise as he finally told her what had been bothering him all morning.

“I’m not going back with you. Last night convinced me that someone here had a hand in Anna’s disappearance, and I mean to find out who. I’ll take the bus to the train station with everyone else, and then I’ll have to track down the local police and see if I can convince them that there’s enough evidence to get involved.” He continued to face the ravine, but Molly could almost feel him watching her from the corner of his eye. His shoulders were tense and curved inward the slightest bit, as if he were bracing for something to hit him.

Or someone to hurt him.

It occurred to her then, that he was most likely waiting for her to complain or whine about being left behind. Yes, the train ride home would be boring as hell without him; but there was a missing woman out there somewhere. It wasn’t as if he was planning to abandon her in the middle of the countryside on a whim. “All right, if you’re sure there’s nothing more I can do. Do you want me to call John once I have mobile service? Perhaps he or Greg—Lestrade—could come out here and help?”

He turned his head to examine her face, as if searching for some sign that she was more upset then she let on. Seeing none, he let out a deep breath and gave her a soft smile. “I hesitate to pull John away from his family just yet; and I imagine the locals will be calling the Yard to verify my credentials, which means Lestrade will hear about it soon enough.” He rolled his eyes. “Let’s just hope Donovan doesn’t get her hands on the phone first.”

Molly smiled, then bit her lower lip. “Will you let me know when you’ve found her?” When you’re coming home?

Sherlock nodded. “I’ll try to text when I can, keep you updated.”

“Thank you.”

“I can’t guarantee what my schedule will be like when we get back.”

“You never can, Sherlock,” she huffed affectionately. “After all these years of knowing you, I’d be an idiot to expect you to suddenly have a normal life now.”

He smiled with a deep warmth that softened his normally sharp features, and reached up to touch her cheek. “I may not be around for days, or even weeks at a time.”

“I know.” Was he trying to warn her off for some reason?

Before her old insecurity had a chance to rear its ugly head, he brushed a feather light kiss across her forehead. “But when I get back, I’ll find you. When I’m not on a case, I’ll want to come to your place, and eat take-away, and ignore your horrid cat while we watch crap telly, and kiss you until we crawl into your bed together.”

“My cat isn’t horrid, and you know it.” He smirked and she smiled.

“You can come to Baker Street. We can run experiments together, drive Mrs Hudson up the wall. It will be fun.” Sherlock’s deep voice promised all sorts of tempting things.

As if he needed to try entice her any more than he already did. “I’d like that.”

“And then we can crawl into my bed together.”

Molly laughed. “I’d like that, too.”

He leaned down to kiss her, and she raised her face and closed her eyes to receive it . . . and nothing happened. Molly cracked one eye open and frowned to find that he’d frozen just a breath’s span from her lips. His eyes had focused a point somewhere behind her. She turned her head to see what held his attention, but the ravine looked exactly the same as it had before. “What is it?”

“There. On the edge of the drop.” Sherlock stepped around her and carefully knelt next to a patch of browning, brittle grass and dead leaves. He gestured to a bit of exposed soil. “These are old, more than a week, closer to two or three. Made when the ground was wet and all this dirt was mud. I’ll need to find out when the last rain was.” He pulled out his mobile, then cursed at the lack of service. “Damn it.”

When she bent down to get a closer look at it, she finally saw what he’d noticed. There were several deep furrows that had been made when the soil was wet, that had held their shape as the mud dried.

“Something—no, someone—tried to pull themselves up here.” Sherlock leaned over the side of the deep ravine. “More marks down there, and signs that the creek has risen considerably at some point in the last month.” He turned and began to lower himself over the side, and Molly almost reached out to try to stop him as he disappeared.

She stepped closer to the edge so she could see him again. “Are you sure that’s safe?”

Sherlock pointedly looked down at the lazy knee-deep water he was already standing in, and then back up at her. “Short of a sudden torrential downpour and a flash flood, I’ll be fine.”

“It does happen,” she hissed.

He opened his mouth, then snapped it shut and took a deep breath. “You’re right, it does. But not today.”

Molly glanced at the sky, then back down at him. “It didn’t even occur to you to check before you hopped in, did it?”

“Nope.” Sherlock popped the ‘p’ and sheepishly shrugged. “It was worth it though, because I think we just discovered what happened to Anna.”

“She fell into the water?” She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly chilled at the thought of all the things that could have happened to the young woman, wet and cold out in the woods for weeks.

“Or she was pushed. I’m nearly positive someone else was up there with her. Those scratches are where she tried to pull herself out, but she didn’t make it. Looks like she tried to use this root as a foot hold, but it snapped.” He looked around, then bent over and pulled something away from a stick that had been protruding from the mud. Sherlock rubbed it between his fingers, then held it up for her to see. “Cotton cloth, tan coloured. Same as the trousers the retreat employees wear.”

He pointed at several spots. “Signs of a hard fall down here. She may have been injured. If she went in when the water was high, she could have been carried downstream. Come on!”

Sherlock began to wade through the water, following the current. She kept pace from above, ducking under the odd low-hanging tree branch to keep him in sight. It wasn’t long before Molly realized she was walking downhill, while the creek bed remained level. Eventually Sherlock stopped.

“Here.” He crouched down and pointed to what appeared to be tree roots sticking out of the muddy dirt. “Bent, broken, yanked loose from the mud.” He looked around intently. “The water would have been higher, up until this point, the current stronger. This would have been her first chance to drag pull herself out.”

His long legs and strong frame allowed him to easily hop out of the ravine at its lowest point, and he stood next to Molly on the bank. “Now, where would she have gone? Back toward the Villa? No. Not if she was pushed. Where are you, Anna?”

He began to pace. His eyes devoured every detail on the ground, searching for any sign of the missing woman.

“Sherlock?”

“In a minute. Let me think. I need to think.” His voice wasn’t harsh, but she could sense his growing frustration in the agitated way he moved.

“Sherlock,” Molly tried to get his attention once more.

He turned toward her with a flourish that would have been impressive if he’d been wearing his Belstaff. “What?”

“Look!” She pointed toward the sky, toward the barely visible plume of smoke some distance off.

“I always miss something,” Sherlock grumbled to himself. He reached up to cup her face between his large hands and planted an enthusiastic kiss against her forehead. “Well spotted. We’ll make a detective out of you, yet.”

“I don’t want to be a detective,” she called after him, having to hurry to keep up as he moved between the trees with a new, urgent purpose. “I’m perfectly happy where I am at Barts, thank you very much.”

He looked over his shoulder as he held a large branch to the up for her to pass under. “I’m rather happy with you at Barts, myself.”

Sherlock stilled her with the touch of his hand against her shoulder. “It wouldn’t be the same without you there. I don’t trust anyone else with that aspect of my work. Not like I do with you. Even before I-before I realized how I . . . I’ve always known how good, how brilliant, you are at your job. At all the extra tasks and demands I’ve asked of you over the years. Even when you used to stammer and blush at the mere sight of me, you always pulled it together as soon as we began to work.” He smiled ruefully. “You forced me to up my game, to push harder to meet your exacting standards in the lab. You have helped make me a better detective.”

His hand rose so that his fingers could brush against her cheek in the softest caress she’d ever felt. “And a better person. When we get home, I’m going to show you just how much I appreciate you, Molly Hooper.”

She tilted her face deeper into his touch, then turned her head to ghost a kiss against his fingertips. “I’m going to hold you to that, Sherlock Holmes.”

இڿڰۣ-ڰۣ—


The building was small, Molly thought. Obviously large enough for a fireplace or a wood burning stove, but she doubted it was much bigger than that. There was no possible way anyone would use it as a permanent residence, would they?

“Not a house, no,” Sherlock answered the question as if she’d spoken it out loud. “Barebones shelter, meant to keep a hunter out of the elements and warm on periodic visits, but nothing more. Could have been built by a fisherman rather than a hunter. The ravine has to lead somewhere, perhaps a larger tributary or lake. That structure over there is probably a drying rack, for game or fish.”

Molly didn’t particularly care what the shack (and it definitely qualified as a shack in her eyes) was used for, she just wanted to know if Anna—or someone who knew where the missing woman had gone—was inside it.

Sherlock cautiously approached the building and knocked on the door. “Hello? Sorry to bother you, but we’ve wandered away from the road, and I’m afraid we’ve become a bit lost.”

She narrowed her eyes and tilted her head, silently asking what he was doing.

He frowned back. “There could be a man with a rifle in there. I’d rather not end up shot because I’ve aggravated a trigger-happy local.”

He knocked on the door again, with a bit more force. “Hello, is anyone in there? We saw the smoke.”

They both heard the faintest sound from inside the shack. A hoarse call for help.

Sherlock reared back and kicked the door near the worn latch. The second kick resulted in the door buckling inward. The smell of stale vomit and faeces hit their nostrils as soon as they stepped inside. The shack was as small as Molly had guessed it would be. The only furniture was a simple cot near a squat pot-bellied stove and an old fashioned ice chest. The sole light source—other than a filthy window—was the stove, and it was barely giving off enough heat to mitigate the early morning chill. She shuddered to think of how cold the drafty building must get during the night.

Huddled on the floor near the stove, wrapped up in a nest of blankets that must have been pulled from the cot, was a barely conscious woman.

“Anna,” Sherlock confirmed for Molly’s benefit.

Judging from the litter of discarded high energy food wrappers near the nest, and the stench emanating from the rag covered pool of excrement in the corner (She’s become too weak to drag herself outside, Molly realized), Anna had been in residence for a while. Molly could see a disturbingly small pile of food that the other woman must have scavenged and hoarded from the supplies that had been left by the last occupant of the shack. Only a package of jerky, a chunk of hard bread, and half full jug of water remained; barely enough to stretch another day or two at the most.

“We’ve been looking for you, Anna. Your brother will be very happy that we’ve found you. How badly are you injured?” Sherlock must have come to the same conclusion she had, Anna was in no shape to move on her own.

“It hurts. So much.” Anna’s hand fluttered toward her legs, then fell back onto the blankets as if she were too exhausted to hold it up.

Molly dropped to her knees beside her and pulled the blankets wrapped around Anna’s legs free, trying not to jostle the extremely pale woman any more than absolutely necessary. Molly winced sharply as she got her first look at Anna’s leg.

“Sherlock.” She tried to keep the anxiety out of her voice, but Anna’s fresh tears told her that she’d failed.

“’s bad, isn’t it? Am I gonna die?” Anna whimpered.

Sherlock kneeled at Molly’s side and reached for Anna’s hand to offer some measure of comfort, although his eyes continued to return to Molly’s hands every few seconds as she assessed the worst of Anna’s injuries. “We’re here now. We’ll get you to hospital. Just a bit longer, I promise.”

The most immediate concern was Anna’s broken leg. Somehow, she had fashioned a crude splint using tree branches and material from her Happy Hearts shirt; but Molly could see that the skin had been broken and there had been a lot of bleeding. Molly was amazed that the other woman had managed to find shelter and survive this long.

Despite Anna’s efforts to clean the wound, there were unmistakable signs of infection. If it had spread to the bone . . .

Molly forced a reassuring smile to her lips and leaned over Anna, needing to ask her some questions. “Hello, Anna. My name is Molly, and I’m a doctor. I’m here to help you, all right? Can you tell me if anything else hurts, sweetheart?”

Anna’s free hand sought out her stomach. Her eyes tried to remain focused on Molly, without much success. “Will he be okay?”

Molly’s heart sank, and she knew what she’d find even before her hands carefully sought the firm bump under Anna’s torn shirt. There were no obvious signs of external abdominal trauma, but that wasn’t enough to reassure Molly. Her eyes met Sherlock’s and she knew that he understood her fear. “Sweetie, do you know how far along you are? Anna? Anna!”

She’d passed out without a word of warning.

Sherlock hefted the slight woman into his arms, and waited only long enough for Molly to bundle the blankets around Anna for warmth shouldering his way past the broken door, still drunkenly hanging off its hinges. He led the way toward the ravine, which they then followed back toward the Villa.

At some point Anna came to, but her fever and the pain from her barely supported broken leg made her inconsolable and incoherent.

It was not an easy hike. Molly did everything she could to ease the way for Sherlock and his burden, moving branches and pointing out partially hidden tree roots; but his arms were trembling and his lips were tight with strain by the time they neared Happy Hearts.

They heard several voices calling for them as the building came into view.

“Breakfast ended more than an hour ago. They think we’ve gone missing,” Molly guessed.

Sherlock grunted in acknowledgement.

Robby was the one who saw them first. He ran toward them, then froze as soon as he recognized the exhausted woman in Sherlock’s arms. “Anna? Oh my God, guys, it’s Anna!”

He rushed forward to help, but Molly waved him back before he could touch anyone. “Don’t jostle her, she’s hurt. I’m going to need your medical supplies. Bring me everything you’ve got. We need to get her inside and warm, quickly.”

“Right, right.” His eyes skittered from side to side for a moment as he worked details out in his head before he turned around and yelled at another man who had come running. “Nate, go tell Jenny to start a fire in the East lounge. Uh, we’re going to need blankets, hot food, coffee, the first aid kits, all that. And then find Michelle or Simon and let them know what’s going on.”

Nate nodded without a word and sprinted back toward the main building.

“This way.” Robby pointed. He stuck by Sherlock’s side, hands up and ready in case Sherlock stumbled or needed to hand off Anna.

Jenny was kneeling before the fireplace, feeding the small fire in the grate, when Robby hurried into the East lounge and immediately cleared several decorative cushions off the sofa nearest the fireplace.

“Nate said someone was hurt?” Jenny asked. Her face went white in shock when Sherlock carefully deposited Anna on the sofa and then stepped back.

Molly quickly took his place and started barking orders, uncaring as to who scrambled to fulfil them as long as the items she requested showed up in her hand. She could hear Jenny asking Sherlock if Anna was all right, but the bulk of her attention was on the first aid kit someone passed her.

Marcy appeared as if summoned by magic, and she immediately knelt by the side of the sofa with a softly spoken, “Tell me what to do.”

Between the two of them, they managed to calm Anna and get her leg cleaned, dressed, and splinted in preparation for her trip to hospital. Marcy bathed Anna’s face and hands and offered soothing words to the young woman. Molly noted that Sherlock had disappeared at some point, most likely to make arrangements for Anna’s transport.

Someone must have found Simon and Michelle because finally they pushed through the crowd of staff and guests hovering just inside the room and doorway. Both of them looked stunned, but Molly couldn’t help but think that Michelle’s shock seemed to be overshadowed by something darker.

Simon looked back and forth between Anna and Michelle, his expression growing angrier with each passing second. He shook his head and stared at his wife. “What did you do?”

Michelle blinked and tore her gaze away from the injured woman on the sofa. “What?”

“What. Did. You. Do?” He grabbed her shoulders and shook her hard enough that Robby intervened, pulling Simon away from his wife.

She stared at him for a moment, her lips twisting as if she were fighting to keep from shouting.

And then she broke.

“This is your fault!” Michelle jabbed an immaculately manicured nail in his direction. “You just couldn’t keep it in your pants, could you? I ignored all the other times. Pretended I didn’t know where you were going when you’d sneak down to the staff rooms or out to meet one of the wives.”

She sneered at the woman who had been giggling in the jacuzzi with her husband.

Michelle continued to rant. “The guests always left, and the girls on staff never complained as long as they got an extra bonus in their pay when you ended it. ‘Sleeping with Simon’ was practically a rite of passage around here, and I never complained. But you had to go and get this one pregnant!”

“You bastard.” Robby stepped away from Simon, shaking his head in disgust and leaving his boss to face Michelle’s anger without any back-up.

“You got her pregnant. Do you have any idea what that will to do to us if it gets out?” Michelle waved her hand around the room. “To all this? We’ll be ruined.”

Simon began to protest and Michelle cut him off. “Our investors are going to want their money back, Simon. The money that was supposed to go into improving this dump. The money you’ve spent on your cars and women.”

“And you,” he snarled back. “You took your fair share for your boobs and face and your little boy toy Marco.”

Michelle gasped.

“Oh yeah. You thought I didn’t know about Marco? I knew.” Simon threw his hands up. “I didn’t care, but I knew!”

Michelle looked seconds away from committing homicide. “At least I didn’t get Marco pregnant!”

“At least I didn’t—What did you do to her?” Simon growled.

“Yes, Michelle.” The others parted without a whisper of protest to let Sherlock back into the room. He stepped between the bickering couple to take his place at Molly’s side. “Please, tell us what you did to Anna.”

“I didn’t do anything,” she protested. “We went out into the woods to talk. I just wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to cause trouble, and I offered her some money to-to take care of it. The ground was wet from the storm, she must have slipped. Next thing I know, she fell into the ravine.” Michelle looked around beseechingly.

“And you just left her there?” To his credit, Simon looked utterly horrified.

“She pushed me back in,” Anna spoke up, her voice still hoarse from her earlier tears. “When I tried to crawl out, I told her I was hurt. I told her I thought my leg was broken. She just-she just grabbed my hands, and I thought she was going to help me, but she pushed me away and I fell back into the water. I couldn’t keep my head up, I couldn’t breathe.”

“Christ, Michelle.” Simon stepped back from his wife with a look of disgust. “What the hell is wrong with you? She could have died.”

“I don’t . . . I didn’t . . .” Michelle’s expression hardened. “I wish she had, then we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Another Happy Hearts employee burst into the room. It took Molly a moment to recognize him as the bus driver that had brought the guests to the Villa on Friday. “I’ve brought the car around front. It’s ready to go whenever you are, Doctor.”

“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary.” Sherlock shook his head, only taking his eyes off of Michelle and Simon long enough to put his hand on Molly’s shoulder to reassure her. “It’s an hour and a half drive to the closest hospital, over bumpy roads with no real medical equipment on hand. I managed to contact the authorities and they’ve arranged for the hospital to send a helicopter for Anna. It should be her in less than twenty minutes.”

Molly reached up and took his hand, squeezing it in thanks. “Right then, let’s keep her as comfortable as possible until it arrives.”

“As for you two,” Sherlock returned his full attention to Michelle and Simon. “The local constable has asked that you remain where you are. He’d like to have a word with both of you.”





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