Guilt was not all that Sherlock felt as he read the present's label. What had begun as simple routine for Sherlock became much more complicated as a wave of emotions washed over him. Guilt coursed through his veins, remorse burned in the pit of his stomach, but even with all that… there was another indescribable feeling. Such a wonderful lightness in his heart.
This was how it felt to be loved.
Why? He asked himself frantically. Why would Molly Hooper care for me?
After all, she did indeed care for him. There was no mistake about it. But why should it be so? Normally people despised Sherlock; he was someone to be avoided, feared even. He was repulsive. Hardly even human.
But this woman… Sherlock knew he treated her just the same as he treated others, and yet she wasn't repulsed by him. Instead she saw something in him to love, something to care about. No matter what he said to her or how he treated her, she never turned away or gave up on him. Through it all, Molly had continued to love him. Inexplicable, but there was the truth of it. And Sherlock finally realized… he was glad for it.
Sherlock felt intense regret at his harsh words, his careless jokes. It was all because he wanted to show off, as usual. That's why he'd opened his big mouth. Now he'd hurt her. Not that he truly cared about her of course, but it was that night that he realized how wonderful it was to be loved. All thanks to Molly Hooper.
Perhaps it was because of this that Sherlock saved Irene Adler. The Woman.
A beautiful woman. A naughty woman. A brilliant woman.
A woman who had fallen in love with Sherlock Holmes.
Even Sherlock would be one to admit that she had fascinated him. The Woman. A woman with an intellect to challenge his own. A woman with an incurable desire for thrill and excitement, and apparently also an incurable desire for Sherlock.
S H E R
The screen of Irene's phone flashed in his mind's eye. Such a simple thing really. Just a phone. Just a four-letter password.
And yet… this was the evidence that the Woman, Irene Adler, loved Sherlock Holmes. The phone that represented her heart and soul, and he was the key. Sherlock was the key. The feeling was just like the wonderful lightness in his heart after realizing Molly's feelings.
Sherlock held the phone in his hand, gazing out the window. His thumb softly brushed against the cold surface of the screen.
Sherlock turned to face the kind doctor. John was taken aback to find that his friend was smiling. Truly smiling.
"Has something happened?" he asked simply. Sherlock met John's eyes calmly. Then he turned back to the window, the smile steady on his face.
John's eyes flicked downward and saw Sherlock slowly turning the phone over in his hand, his fingers seeming to caress it as he did so.
Smiling, John made a deduction of his own.