CHAPTER FIVE: JANUARY
Did you miss me?
The electronically manipulated words were seared into Molly. The sight of his face- Moriarty's face- his mouth moving like some sort of twisted ventriloquist's dummy haunted her.
She run from the hospital as soon as what she'd seen had sunk in. When she got outside, she saw the police car, Sergeant Donovan stepping out to meet her.
"Freak's sent me to take you home," Donovan said, opening the back of the car. "I'll get you to Baker Street."
"Why would you do that?" Molly asked, slipping into the back. "You and Sherlock..."
"I learned my lesson last time," Donovan replied. "If Moriarty's involved, I'm going to be on Holmes' side."
The rest of the ride to Baker Street was silent. Molly was curled up in the back, feeling her insides knotting. She hadn't seen Sherlock in days. A case, he'd said. Was this it? Was this what had taken him away? Had he known this was coming?
Why didn't he warn her?
As soon as they pulled up to the curb and Molly opened the door, she was swept up into Sherlock's warm embrace. He pressed his face into her neck. She could feel him breathing in, taking her in as if they'd been separated for years rather than days. He let out a sigh against her before kissing her skin. "God, Molly."
"What's going on?" Molly asked, trying to pull herself out of his iron grip. "What was that on the telly? He couldn't be..."
Sherlock reluctantly pulled back. "I'll tell you. Let's get inside." He gave Donovan a brief nod. "Thank you, Sally."
Without waiting for a response from Donovan, Sherlock pulled Molly into 221 and up the stairs to flat B. Once inside, he shed his coat, abandoning it on the floor. He took hold of Molly's face and snogged her until she was breathless.
"Just... Tell me what's... Going on..." Molly panted between breaths.
"I don't know yet," Sherlock replied. "I needed to make sure you were safe first. Moriarty- if it is truly him- no doubt knows about your part in my faked death and perhaps even our romantic relationship. I won't take any chances."
He threw himself onto her again, smothering her in kisses. "God, Molly... I thought... I thought I wouldn't see you again."
This stopped Molly cold. She put her hands on Sherlock's chest, pushing herself away, careful not to hit the spot he'd been shot. "What were you doing, Sherlock? While you were away... Mycroft said it was a case..."
Sherlock shook his head. "Don't ask me, Molly. Please don't."
"I already did," Molly replied. "What is going on?"
"It was a case," Sherlock admitted. "And then it was the aftermath."
Molly shook her head. She could see it in his stance. He was looking away, shifting. "That's not enough. You're keeping something from me. What is happening, Sherlock? Where have you been?"
"Don't make me say it," Sherlock pleaded. "I can't bear to see it."
"Bear to see what?" Molly asked. She reached for his hands, but he gently pushed them away from him.
"You fall out of love with me," Sherlock blurted out. His face was lined with agony with every word he spat out.
Molly shook her head, laughing. She knew it wasn't funny. Sherlock was in pain. But did he really think such a thing could happen? "Sherlock, as long as you haven't fallen off the wagon or cheated on me..."
"I killed a man."
The air had gone out of Molly's lungs. No, the air had gone out of the room. She was light-headed. "...What?"
"The case. The reason I started using again. Why I got engaged to Janine. Why Mary shot me. It was all because of one man. He could destroy Mary. And it would've taken John, Mycroft and myself down. There was one man standing in the way of all of our freedom..." Sherlock sank down to his knees. "So I got him out of the way."
Molly stayed completely still as Sherlock's arms wrapped around her waist. He pressed his face into her belly. "I couldn't beat him. No one could. And he would've destroyed us all. I did what I had to do. I needed to protect Mary and John."
Stunned, Molly's hand touched the back of Sherlock's head, sinking into his curls. She could not look down at him. She could feel him though, nuzzling his nose into her navel. "I've killed before, but it was always life and death. This was murder and I know that... As does the entire British government."
"When did this happen?" Molly asked, still unsure what she was supposed to do.
"Christmas night," Sherlock replied.
Finally, Molly looked down at Sherlock. "And where have you been since then?"
Sherlock looked up at her, his eyes glassy. "Awaiting my punishment."
Molly sniffled, fighting vainly against her tears. "And what was your punishment?"
"It doesn't matter now," Sherlock replied. "Moriarty had rendered it obsolete. If I apprehend him, the government will consider it time served."
"It matters, Sherlock," Molly whispered. "What was it?"
"Going undercover for MI-5. Six month mission..." Sherlock swallowed hard enough Molly could see his Adam's apple bob. "Six months and I would most assuredly be dead."
The sob Molly had been holding in finally escaped. "And you didn't think about telling me? Letting me..."
"Letting you what?" Sherlock demanded, getting to his feet. "There was nothing to be done, Molly. You couldn't save me this time. I didn't want to see-" He cupped her face, brushing her tears away with his thumbs. "I didn't want to see this."
"Coward," Molly whispered. "This would have happened regardless."
"You would have believed me on a case for my brother. And then something unfortunate would have happened. You see death every day. You know it is inevitable." He pressed his forehead to hers. "I didn't want to see the look in your eyes when you knew I'd murdered a man. When you knew I'd broken my promise to never let you down. I had another vow I had to keep."
"You didn't break any vow when you did that, you silly sod," Molly whimpered. "You protected your friends. You wouldn't have killed him if you had another choice."
"You really believe that?" Sherlock whispered.
Molly nodded. "You're not a killer, Sherlock Holmes. But you were going to leave me. You were going to leave me forever. Without a word."
"I had a letter," Sherlock murmured. "Mycroft would've given it to you. A beautiful lie, giving you closure."
"I don't want lies," Molly insisted. "Beautiful or otherwise. I want you, Sherlock. Not protecting me. I want to be by your side, for better or worse."
"Then that is what you will get," Sherlock whispered, stroking her cheek. "I feel I have broken my promise to you, Molly."
"Promises are always broken, Sherlock," Molly replied.
"As are hearts," Sherlock muttered.
"Maybe," Molly whispered. "But... Not this time."
Sherlock sucked in a breath.
"You're an idiot. An utter and complete fool." She felt the tears hot on her cheeks. "You have to remember if you're going off to your death, you have to tell me so I can get you out of it."
Molly kissed Sherlock softly. She could taste salt on his lips, unsure if they were from her tears or his. "Now... What are we to do about Moriarty?"
"Not sure yet." There was a ghost of a smile on his lips. "Care to help me out?"