A/N: And here we have it! The companion piece to Every Time, which, if you haven't read it, you should probably read before this one. It'll just work better, trust. Thank you to those that reviewed Every Time by the way. You're all utterly gorgeous. I imagine. Or if nature has spited you aesthetically then I'm positive that you're gorgeous in spirit. Sorry, rambling. Anyway. I'll let you get on. Enjoy!
He's so stupid sometimes. Not that he'd ever admit it aloud.
He doesn't know why he starts talking. He gets so carried away that he doesn't notice both John and Lestrade try and stop him. They, unlike him, thought it might be nice to spare her feelings.
He doesn't know why he wants to hurt her, only that he does. Maybe it's because the woman has been infuriating him so much, but is far too absent for him to retaliate directly, so he's chosen a woman to take things out on instead. Maybe it's because he's irritated that she's made it quite clear that she has somewhere better to be; the dress alone suggests that there's a man out there with whom she'd much rather be spending her Christmas.
Or maybe it's because he's a bastard.
Most likely? All of the above.
His heart (contrary to popular opinion he does have one) stops when he sees the carefully inked message on the tag. He knows he plays with her, but he had no idea that he had broken her.
There is a crack in her voice and tears in her eyes when next she speaks, wine glass quivering in her unsteady hand.
"You always say such horrible things. Every time. Always...always..."
His eyes flick to John, whose mouth is set in a grim line, then up to Lestrade, who resigned as ever, looks as though he simply wants to take Molly home and make her a cup of cocoa. And then there's Mrs Hudson, who may as well have erected a billboard saying 'Oh, Sherlock...'
He considers his words carefully before he says them aloud. They feel foreign and uncomfortable in his mouth. It's probably best to get them out as soon as he can.
"I am sorry. Forgive me." His throat is constricted, his voice tight and stilted. He moves closer to her, and hopes a little sentimentality can smooth things over. "Merry Christmas Molly Hooper." He kisses her cheek softly, and he can feel her rigid, humiliated form trembling slightly. There is a faint feeling of regret in the pit of his stomach, but he pushes it down. This is no time for him to form a conscience.
And then his text alert sounds, loud and clear, after he thought he could sink no lower into this cesspool of embarrassment.
He slams the door in John's face because he wants to be alone.
He's not sure why though.
Yes, there are presently far too many people in his flat, and as such his minimal patience has reached breaking point, but it's more than that.
He's not sure he likes the thought of the woman being dead. It feels like quite a loss. But there's something greater troubling him, much more than the prospect of the lifeless body of a dominatrix being stumbled upon by some dog walker in the next few hours. That something is standing in the next room wearing a dress that shows off the curves which have been kept well hidden by loose fitting trousers and unflattering lab coats.
That something, has purchased a gift for him.
He also knows that something will go home tonight, get into bed and cry herself to sleep, while the cat looks on mercilessly.
He doesn't know why he has to hurt her.
All he knows is that he always does.
She's wearing an unnecessarily festive jumper, her hair is down and she's ditched the lipstick. Somehow, she's far prettier like this, and far more endearing. Or, perhaps his brain is feeling guilty and it's just the same old Molly, but he's being extra generous in his head. Which is no good at all.
"You didn't have to come in, Molly."
She's very calm, considering the scene he caused only a few hours ago. She shrugs. "That's okay. Everyone else was busy with...Christmas."
The word trips a little as she forces it out, and he has the feeling that she'll be spending the day very much alone. The discomfort in the pit of his stomach intensifies momentarily, and then Molly continues, professional that she is.
"The face is a bit sort of...bashed up, so it might, might be a bit difficult." She stammers a little, and he knows the sight before him will not be pleasant when Molly pulls the sheet down.
The face is indeed bashed up, and it is difficult. He's not one hundred percent sure that it's definitely her. There's the same vague face shape, marred by a very heavy, blunt instrument, wielded by somebody very strong, and right handed; most likely around six inches taller than the woman, when she's in heels, obviously. She doesn't seem like the sort of person to ever go without them.
"That's her, isn't it?" Mycroft asks.
Sherlock is not convinced. "Show me the rest of her."
Molly obliges, an uncomfortable expression on her face.
32. 24. 34.
He leaves, swiftly, because he doesn't not want to have to look at Molly's hurt and confusion for another second. Nor does he have any desire to look at the beaten and broken body of a woman who he was still hoping to get one over on.
No chance of that now.
Mycroft soon joins him in the corridor, and holds out a single cigarette. He takes it, knowing what Mycroft is getting at. He also knows that John and Mrs Hudson are, at this very moment, searching his bedroom for anything that ought not to be there.
As he takes the first beautiful drag, he wonders how much damage is being done to his sock index.
Eventually, he becomes sick of depressing music, and sets down his violin. The twinkling fairy lights Mrs Hudson hung in the window (with a little assistance from John) are making him feel sick, so he retreats to his bedroom, where the curtains are shut and it could easily be any time of year. No festivities in here, thank you.
But then something catches his eye. Something red, that makes him think of thin lips, stretched into a nervous smile. He sighs and picks up the present, sliding the ribbon off in one smooth motion. He slots his finger under a folded section of the wrapping paper and gives it a tug.
Inside, there is a dark, simple, but stylish box. He pulls off the lid, and, resting in a tailor made space, is a bottle of aftershave. Expensive looking aftershave. More expensive than Molly can really afford. That feeling in the pit of his stomach makes an unwelcome return, and he tries to get rid of it by testing out the aftershave for the first time.
Initially the smell is quite overwhelming, but once he's waited long enough for it to settle, he inhales.
And then he smiles.
He doesn't get to enjoy his Christmas present for long however; his phone is vibrating in his jacket pocket, and one glance at the screen tells him that Lestrade is struggling. Again.
"Nasty case," he says, slightly breathless. There's a bit of background noise and Sherlock realises he's climbing a set of steps. He's outside, obvious because of the wind noise. "Victim's been nailed to a tree."
"Interesting...where are you?"
"I'll be there shortly."
Sherlock hangs up, drops his phone back into his pocket, then tries to resist the urge to jump into the air with joy. Nailed to a tree. London murders are always so dull, there hasn't been a good weird killing for months, and now he's got one that's been nailed to a tree.
He ties his scarf around his neck, swings his coat on and leaves, nearly knocking Mrs Hudson over as he dashes past her on the stairs.
When he reaches the morgue at St Bart's, Lestrade is waiting with Molly, who's looking pale, and a little ill. There's something missing behind her eyes, it's as though the spark has gone out. Half of him sees this as a good thing; the body on the slab must be in a particularly interesting state to have such an effect on Molly, who's usually so terribly sensible about these things.
"Evening," Lestrade says with a nod. Molly is still looking down at the body bag, and it's as though she hasn't noticed that she's standing right next to him.
But then she inhales. A small frown forms on her face and she turns, at last, to look at him.
"I hear you've got an interesting one," Sherlock says to her, as the colour steadily returns to her cheeks.
"Yeah," Molly says, biting her lip, though not from nerves. She's trying to withhold a smile. She reaches forward to unzip the body bag. "I was just about to do the autopsy but I thought, we thought," she glances at Lestrade, "that you might like to be here for it."
"You're a star," he says, pulling off his coat. He gives her shoulder a soft squeeze and then moves away to get ready.
Even behind the mask, even while she's cutting up a particularly unpleasant corpse, Sherlock can see that Molly Hooper is grinning from ear to ear.
He's never really been one for New Years resolutions, but this year he's going to make one.
Molly Hooper, who doesn't have a nasty bone in her body, and who gives him wonderful things such as mutilated bodies (and the odd digit or two) is never going to suffer at his hand, or, more specifically, his mouth, ever again.
He, unlike the rest of the world, will keep his resolution.