To be fair, he’d never have expected Molly to be found in this kind of place. This wasn’t exactly her kind of music or her kind of scene. Or at least, it wasn’t as far as he could remember. Was it?
When he really thought about it, there wasn’t actually any reason that she wouldn’t listen to metal, but there wasn’t any reason that she should. And she certainly shouldn’t have come looking like the complete opposite of Molly Hooper in the Lab or Molly Hooper at a fancy dinner or even Molly Hooper out to coffee with her friends.
There wasn’t a scrap of color on her. No bright orange jumper or yellow pants or cherry dotted sweaters.
Maybe it was the juxtaposition of sweet, cheery Molly in black lace and skinny jeans, or maybe it was just the blood red lipstick, but suddenly Sherlock felt ridiculous in his own gloomy clothes.
He knew he should’ve told that pesky mother no. No teenager who’s secretly a rockstar case was worth being found like this by Molly Hooper.
Sure, he blended into the crowd with brightly colored hair and clothes that looked like they’d been through the pits of hell, but Molly would find him effortlessly. And she was never very good at hiding her giggles at his ridiculous costumes.
Especially when he had bits of blue in his hair, and tight, black everything. And fake tattoos. He was regretting the fake tattoos most of all. He was just planning his escape route when she turned his direction, pausing mid-laugh when her eyes caught his.
She immediately snorted in laughter.
“So what now? Did the lead bassist murder someone?” She called out as she worked her way across the crowd. “Or did the drummer break curfew?”
It wasn’t his fault that the rumors that Captain!Chunk had the youngest drummer in the country and the rebellious teenager’s various discretions all appeared to coincide with the run-ins the mysterious ‘masked’ young local celebrity ran into. Still, he didn’t answer her. He opted instead to scowl and look away, ignoring the burning in his cheeks.
“What are you doing here?” He grumbled eventually, arms crossed and posture slouched so that no one else recognized him.
“Well, Meena loves this band and she insisted we come out to see it. I prefer GoGiantGo, but she insisted we had to see these guys.” Molly shrugged and shot him a toothy grin. “You must really like the scene. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you bought an entirely new outfit for the occasion.
“My wardrobe was practically bursting with tight shirts and sad song lyrics,” he said drolly, risking a glance down to her lacy top and bright make up. “Who are you to judge? I’ve seen your closet many times and there’s never been anything remotely punk in them.” He raised an eyebrow at her and she only swatted his arm. She was still smiling brightly, though she’d looked away to search for her friend.
“The outfit isn’t mine, it’s Meena’s. Girls share clothes all the time, Sherlock.”
He scowled again, though he’d taken to searching the stage area for band members moving about. He was behind on his schedule. He was supposed to have worked his way backstage fifteen minutes ago.
“Sherlock, what on earth are you looking for?”
“You don’t think I dressed like this because I wanted to, did you? I’m on a case.”
“I knew that, Sherlock.” She pouted, and he rolled her eyes even as he mentally recalled her bad habit of chewing on her lips when she got angry at him. “What’s wrong with dressing like this? Meena does it all the time. Besides, I rather like it. It’s a nice change of pace.”
“Really, Molly. Don’t tell me you like dressing like a sentimental adolescent.” He caught the eye of an attractive guard whose gaze had just followed the buttocks of a young man travelling his direction. He cast an appreciative smile that direction and licked his lips quickly. That particular trick had gained him access to more than one restricted area. If Molly pouted a little harder because of it, he pretended not to notice. He could always explain later. Probably. Did she really need to know that yes, he was checking to see if the drummer was breaking curfew?
It didn’t take much flirting to convince the very interested security guard to let him through. With the slip of a fake number and a couple of sly winks he’d managed to scurry behind the doors and maneuver his way through the dingy hallway and plywood walls to a room where a girl’s voice boomed through the thin barrier between her and his eavesdropping.
The voice couldn’t belong to anyone older than 14, though he’d heard the drummer was supposed to be at least a year older than that. He dropped to his stomach, peering through the crack in the bottom of the drawer. Dingy sneakers—clearly too big for the feet they covered, as they flopped around while their owner paced. Jeans that were tight at the ankles—not nearly surprising or evidence of anything. Nearly everyone in the crowd wore skinny jeans, unless they were wearing the chained, ballooning monstrosities that the younger punks seemed impressed with.
He’d still not managed any solid evidence.
He slid further up the hallway, finding a pile of things he could stack higher and crouch behind. He had his camera ready, eyes on the door. He just needed it opened briefly, just long enough for one picture. He glanced around carefully, keeping one hear open for the creak of a door. If he allowed enough time for the band to get ready he’d lose his chance. He picked up a bauble from the ground, a prop left from the last show, and chucked it hard at a stack of boxes further down the hallway.
Just as hoped, they toppled over, banging and booming their entire way down. Cords and straps spilled out onto the carpet. He crouched further into the shadow and waited, counting the number of footsteps he heard rushing from the front. Sure enough, his flirty guard was the first one to round the corner and fling open the door, counting heads out loud and worrying with guilty severity over the group.
He spotted the blond haired girl with a too large t-shirt and skinny jeans, mask swinging from her hands and expression scrunched up in annoyance. So he was correct then. Little drummer boy was living the teenage double life. Mommy would be thrilled.
He waited, studying the person more closely. Hair up in a well-practiced, tight bun, tucked under to look inconspicuous. Breasts bound quite well with (probably) an expensive binder. Worn boys clothes. Even the hint of an eyeliner-beard, which would be entirely unnecessary for a masked disguise.
This wasn’t his secret to tell.
As soon as everything settled down and the band scurried onto their stage, Sherlock deleted the photos and waited. He allowed a good amount of time to pass before he slithered through the back exit and snaked his way around to the back of the crowd.
He told himself it was just to reconfirm his discoveries (like he needed to), but really, he did enjoy punkrock Molly Hooper. And by the time he reached her spot at the front of the crowd, she was covered in sweat and jumping to the music with her fist in the air, screaming out lyrics like she’d memorized them from childhood
It was a horrifically endearing sight, and he memorized every detail.
By the time the song ended and intermission allowed her the presence of mind to check around her, he had already begun to sneak away again. He’d been sure that Meena would occupy her attention at least briefly, but it appeared the girl had gone to grab drinks for the intermission.
“God Sherlock, I thought you’d have left ages ago.” She was out of breath and grinning, her ponytail falling apart. “What do you think? Pretty good, right?”
“If you’re into melodrama,” he said it dryly, shifting in his attempt to remove himself frorm the conversation.
“Oh, stop being such a fuddy-duddy. So were you right then?” She smiled, pressed too close to him from the overcrowded room. “Was the drummer breaking curfew?”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. I can neither confirm nor deny the age or curfew of the drummer. Child’s work is not really my area.”
“No, but this is exactly your kind of thing. Double-life, mysterious persons hiding in plain sight, possibility of a young prodigy. A misunderstood musician. You know, now that I think about it, this is exactly your scene. You are definitely more into the melodrama than I am.” She nudged him with her elbow, only to roll her eyes when he glared at her.
“Well, I best be going. I’ve no need for copious angst and vicious attacks to my eardrums for the so-called musical artistry of Captain!Chunk. See you in the lab, Molly.” He stepped away a bit before turning back, struck by a sudden idea. He pulled the camera from his back pocket, called Molly’s name, and snapped a picture really quick of her dolled up, dark lace, sweat covered, once in a lifetime look.
And rushed away before she could catch him.
His client might be skeptical and angry, but at least he’d gotten a picture of punkrock Molly.