The thing about sleeping when you're drunk is that you really don't ever get to do it for long enough. Either a pounding headache or hunger or nausea or a weird combination of all three will wake you. Or you have to get up to be somewhere, like work or school. In this case, for Molly Hooper, it's the headache that wakes her. She cracks one eye and lets the morning light pierce her brain, then opens the other. The mildly spinning ceiling is not her own.
She sits up. The room is incredibly tidy and minimally decorated. The most prominent features are a large wardrobe and a framed poster of the periodic table.
She spots the morning suit hanging neatly on a hook on the wardrobe door and the row of suit jackets and trousers and shirts in the wardrobe. She sniffs the air and it is unmistakable.
Now how the fuck did she wind up in Sherlock's bed?
The last thing she remembers from the night before is kicking off her shoes on the dance floor after her fourth glass of champagne. Why had she been drinking so heavily and how the hell did she manage to get here?
She hears movement in the kitchen. The clink of glass on glass. Running water. A Bunsen burner being lit.
She stumbles as she stands up, but the pounding in her head intensifies, so she sits back down with a low groan.
"There's paracetemol in the medicine cabinet," Sherlock says from the kitchen.
She's too mortified to speak and is thrilled to discover she can get to the loo from this room without going into the hall.
"Oh, hell," she says as she sees herself. Her makeup has run all over her face. There are actual black streaks running down her cheeks. Dehydration makes her skin sallow and her fine lines stand out more prominently. She washes most of it away (Sherlock has an astonishing array of skin care products) but can't be arsed to really scrub at her eyes. She finds the medicine and takes two with a handful of water, then does what she can with her hair.
"Right," she says, and goes back into his bedroom. She doesn't see her shoes or her bag so they must be in the sitting room. She hopes they're in the sitting room because otherwise they're just lost in the ether. Or maybe with Tom. "Shit. Tom," she says and pushes away from the sink.
He's standing in the kitchen, looking fresh as a daisy with his dressing gown thrown over his usual dress shirt and trousers. There are thin slices of what can only be a human kidney laid out on a baking sheet, and for the first time in over two decades Molly Hooper feels ill at the sight of a body part. She turns her attention back to Sherlock and they stare at each other until Molly can't bear to stand up anymore. She collapses into a chair and puts her head in her hands.
"How the hell did I get here, Sherlock?"
"In a taxi. Driver banged on my door at 1 in the morning, had a charge who had managed to leave her shoes and bag where he picked her up. Said he'd drop you off at the police station if I couldn't pay."
"I'll pay you back."
"No need. I told him the police might be interested in how he tampers with his meter and he lit out fairly quickly."
Molly smiles. Of course. That's what Sherlock does.
"Did I tell you why I was on your doorstep at 1 am?"
"You said you were worried about me."
"I'm sorry. I had a lot to drink."
"Nothing much else. I told you I was fine and you started to cry. Then you ran to the loo, vomited profusely a few times, took that silly bow out of your hair and passed out on the sofa. "
"Oh god," she groans, lowering her head onto her folded arms. He puts a mug of tea in front of her. She takes it and sips it tentatively. Strong, hot, no sugar or milk. "Why did you move me? To your—bed—room?"
"Thought it would be more comfortable and I wasn't planning on sleeping."
She takes a few more sips of tea, letting it fortify her. Must be placebo since there's no way the caffeine could work that quickly. "Oh shit," she says, setting the mug down hard. "My phone is in my bag, wherever that is. I don't know if I told anyone I left. Has anyone called you-"
"Why would they do that?" he says.
"Be—because you're my friend," she says softly.
He sighs and pulls his phone from his pocket. "Six calls from an unfamiliar number. Is this him?" He holds the phone out to her.
"Yes. I should probably call him back."
Sherlock shrugs and walks over to the window, looking out with his hands in his pockets. Molly hits the button to redial Tom and holds the phone up to her ear shakily.
"Sherlock, er, hey I'm sorry to bug you but—"
"Tom, it's me," she says. Eight seconds of silence follow.
"You've got to be kidding me, Mols. Jesus I just called him thinking that maybe he'd know where you went since he's so bloody clever. No wonder he didn't answer."
"No, Tom. It's not like that. Nothing happened. I was drunk and I got sick and passed out."
"You're with him. You went to him. That's enough, Molly."
"I just wanted to see if he was okay. His best friend just got married and he's alone."
"Well, have fun keeping him company. I hope that's enough for you."
"No, Molly. It hasn't been the same since he came back. Have a nice life. You can keep the ring." He disconnects and Molly stares at the phone for a moment. She rears her hand back to throw it but Sherlock grabs her hand, removes his phone and replaces it with a saucer. She looks at him, startled. How long had he been standing there?
"Please break that, instead," he says.
Molly replaces the saucer on the table and opts to punch Sherlock hard in the solar plexus. As he doubles over she pushes past him and over to retrieve her bow, which is peeking out from underneath the sofa.
"I have to go home. So I need some cash or your Oyster card or you can call your bloody brother to send a car, I don't care. I have to fix this."
"Why?" Sherlock wheezes, leaning on a kitchen chair for support.
Standing to his full height, he looks her in the eyes. "Yes. Why? Why do you need to fix it? It's what you wanted, isn't it?"
"Oh, you bastard!" Sherlock takes a step toward her and she thrusts her hand out. "No. Don't you dare," she sobs. "Why did you have to come back?" A small sting of regret hits her as he visibly deflates. She has never managed to hurt him like this, and she takes no victory in it, rejecting someone who has been rejected by so many. "No, I don't mean it like that. God dammit how did this end up with me comforting you?"
"No, just listen." She flops onto the sofa and puts her head in her hands.
"May I?" he asks, gesturing to the other end of the sofa. She shrugs and he sits, staring straight ahead, posture stiff. He takes a tissue from his dressing gown pocket and hands it to her.
"Unused," he says. "In my line of work I never know when I'll have someone weeping on my sofa. You were saying?"
Molly laughs and blows her nose. There is a moment when she thinks she might throw up again but it passes. She looks ahead as she talks to him.
"I was certain I was past it all. I never would have said yes to Tom if I weren't. I wouldn't have said yes to a first date if I wasn't sure. I didn't really date, for that first year. My friends tried to set me up with so many guys. I didn't think it was fair. If I dated anyone, I wanted to give them a fair chance, not compare them to you.
"And then it got to the point where I didn't think about you as often. And when I did I would just remember you fondly and shake my head, like I do about my schoolgirl crushes. I reduced it to that so I could let it go." She looks at him and he turns his head to meet her gaze. "And then you came back and I realized I'd been lying to myself. But there was nothing to be done. I did love Tom and I thought I could just make a life with him and that once you'd been back for a while it would be okay. And I know I avoided you and I wasn't there for you but I just couldn't. I had to try to move on.
"Then, yesterday you were so fucking beautiful and you were sweet to John and Mary and then you solved that crime like that utter bad arse you are and it was just everything I love about you all at once. Your big heart and your massive brain and your gorgeous body and when I saw you leave, I wanted to follow you so badly. Not to leave with you or anything but to bring you back and tell you that you are loved, that John isn't abandoning you. But I couldn't, because it wasn't right. It wasn't my place. And then I guess I got totally pissed and left anyway and now here I am." She looks down at her hand and twists the ring around. What the hell is she going to do with it?
"Take it off," he says.
"Take the ring off."
She looks up at him. He is as frightened as the night he'd come to her in the lab to ask her to help save his life. The ring slips off easily. It had always been a bit too big. It makes a soft click on the coffee table as she sets it down.