Title: Can We Believe (3/11[?])
Warnings: Spoilers for RBF, Mentions of 'supposed' character death, angst, men being silly and stubborn.
Characters: John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Greg Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft Holmes, Raz, Various OC's, Mentions of Sebastian Moran
Pairings: John/Sherlock, Greg/Molly
Notes: I'm so, so, so sorry. Real life has been a mess and I've spent most of my time being blocked and horrible and Ugh. I'm sorry. On the upside, I've updated finally and hopefully there won't be another gap like this, since life things have been mostly sorted. Thank you Aly for the beta!
Disclaimer: Sherlock, John, all of their friends and the many places the visit do not belong to me. If they did, I wouldn't have to write fanfiction, now would I?
Summary: One sentence started a movement. A movement John's not sure he believes in anymore
John is alone in the flat.
It's odd. He's never felt truly alone in 221B. There's always Mrs. Hudson or Greg milling about, sometimes Raz, and when they aren't around he's always felt that…
Well, It's stupid. But before he'd always felt Sherlock was there with him. Sitting in his chair, staring out the window into the street below, stepping on the table to make his way to their small kitchen. John stands in the middle of his flat now and can't help but think back on how utterly stupid he's been.
"Shit." He mutters, staring around him. For the first time his flat is actually empty. Greg's off at a crime scene avoiding Molly's calls. Sherlock's at her flat—alive and well and probably driving the poor girl up the wall. Hrs. Hudson is avoiding the reporters at her front door by shopping with a woman from her bingo club.
"Shit." He repeats. His voice sounds far away to his own ears. They shouldn't have left him alone. Now he's not distracted by voices and problems and meaningless, domestic noises. He can think. Can stew.
He doesn't want to.
The first thing he throws is the most obvious—His cane. He grips it by its neck and hurls it like a harpoon into the kitchen, and the rubber end bounces off the fridge with a soft thump. It's terribly unsatisfying.
Next is a mug from the coffee table, and the sound of it shattering against the mantle is a lot more fulfilling then the cane had been. The pieces hit the floor and shatter further and that feels even better.
So he starts venting. Shattering, smashing, hurling things at the wall; it's painful and his leg screams at him. His shoulder shrieks, protesting each violent movement. But he refuses to stop.
When he's done his cheeks are wet and a fair amount of breakable objects have been shattered against the walls, littering the place with glass. The sun casts odd patterns on the ceiling where it reflects of clear shards.
He starts cleaning almost right away. Greg will be home in a few hours and John would feel terrible if the DI stepped on some glass or had to clean it up.
He only nicks his fingers a couple of times, nothing overly serious and nothing to be concerned about.
It does take a while for his hands to stop shaking, though.
He's really, actually alive.
Greg reads the article over a couple of times, smiling all the while, spooning spagitti into his mouth while John reads a rather large medical text across the table from him. The grey light of early morning catches a few shards of glass on the floor, but Greg doesn't mention them and John seems to not notice.
He's got the day off today. Well, as much as he can. He's on call and has little doubt that his phone is going to buzz with a text at some point in the day. Until then, he's going to enjoy sitting with his flatmate, reading and ignoring the many, many problems that surround them.
The media explosion has been twice as impressive as the one after Sherlock's 'death'—And the majority of attention has been positive. It's interesting to see how quickly the press can change their minds. The horde of reporters has reappeared outside 221B, and a few of them have had the gall to call Greg's phone. Cell or work, it doesn't seem to matter. He just hangs up on them when they call his cell, but when they call at work he's forced into spitting out a polite 'no comment' and trying to bite back his distaste.
Sheppard calls him to chat, and Greg entertains that phone call. Rhys is a good kid and doesn't even ask him for a comment—which is exactly why Greg gives him one.
He's not sure if the kid does it on purpose or if it's just his personality, but the nonchalant, joking personality is magnetic and Greg finds himself saying 'All right, I'll give you one answer. Shoot.'
Sheppard is very good at his job.
Rhys only asks how it feels to know that Sherlock's back, and his tone is light and curious. Greg gives him a one-word answer ("Fantastic', which isn't quite it, but he decides appearances are better then the truth at this point) and that seems to satisfy the reporter.
Which is good, because it's impossible to explain the whirling ball of emotions that ploughs through his brain when he thinks too hard about it, like one of those stampeding herds of zebra on the discovery channel. Which is why he ignores it, most of the time.
There's a soft knock on the door, and John shoots his head up from his book. They've been sitting in silence at the kitchen table for an hour or so, and the break in the stillness is startling.
Greg folds the paper and pushes away from the table, dismissing John's questioning eyes with a wave of his hand. "I'll get it, don't worry."
He opens the door and has to physically stop himself from slamming it shut when he sees who's standing on the other side.
"…Molly." She's wearing a dark red sweater and jeans, and looks really, really good.
"Hi, Greg. Um…Hi." She fiddles with the strap of her purse and stares at the floor; Greg finds his eyes going there as well.
They stand awkwardly in the doorway, not saying anything. It's been three days since they last talked and it feels… Strange, seeing her there, lingering on the landing at the top of the stairs.
"I don't mean to be a bother, or anything," She says in a quiet voice. "I mean, I know you must be busy… I mean... All the reporters… But Sherlock's doing an experiment with sulphur in my kitchen and I can't stand the smell, and I…" She hesitates, then shrugs.
The conclusion to that sentence—'I didn't have anywhere else to go'—Hangs unspoken between them. Greg takes a step back and opens the door a touch wider, and she steps in.
John looks at her for a second, then drops his eyes back to his book. Greg cards his fingers through his silver hair nervously.
Molly slips the straps of her purse through her fingers, over and over, as if the soft leather is going to fix this strange, tense awkwardness. Greg hasn't picked up the phone since their hungover phone call, John hasn't answered her either, as far as Greg knows, and now the three of them are staring at the floor of 221B as if the worn rugs and acid-marred floorboards hold the answers.
The first one to speak, much to Greg's shock, is Molly.
"This is ridiculous." She says sharply, sharper then Greg can ever remember hearing her. "I know I messed up. I always mess up. But… He needed my help." She takes a deep breath, and then speaks in a rush. "I know I should've told you both and I wish I had, I really do, but he made me promise and at the time he was my only actual friend, so I did it. I faked the documents and I lied and I helped him and I kept his secret, just like either of you would've done."
Neither man responds, which gives her a chance to keep at it.
"And then we started going out together, the three of us, and I had actual friends. Not work colleagues who steal my things, or people who date me to get to Sherlock. People who actually seemed to like me. Who seemed to care. And it made lying to you that much harder because I've never had—" She stops, gazes right at John, and when the doctor glances up it's like she's caught him in a snare.
Greg watches as they stare at one another and shifts his weight, uncomfortable with the sudden silence. John abruptly tears his eyes away.
"If you don't want to talk to me anymore," Molly says slowly, her voice quiet once again. "If you don't want to be my friend and you don't want to…Date me, or whatever, then just say it. Tell me to my face instead of ignoring me like this, because I can't take it."
Hr fingers are white against her purse straps as she clutches them to her chest. Greg tries to think of something, anything to say. But the words catch in his throat and he just ends up gaping like a fish at her. Molly. His Molly. Standing in front of them and laying everything bare as if she does it all the time.
He catches John's eye, and the doctor looks about as shocked as Greg feels. His brow is furrowed between the eyes and his biting his bottom lip between his teeth.
Unlike Greg, though, John manages to say something.
"I'm sorry Molly." The Doctor states softly. "I… I understand what you're saying, It's just…"
"Hard." Greg finishes, and they both look at him. "It's hard knowing you didn't tell us. That you knew the whole time and didn't say a thing." He feels his lips purse in an ugly expression and hates himself for it. "Makes me wonder what else has been going on…"
"Nothing! Nothing else has been going on, Greg." She's frowning fiercely at him, and it's so unexpected, so new, that he nearly backs off. Nearly. "He'd show up whenever he needed a place to stay and disappear whenever he wanted. That's all."
"How am I supposed to believe you? You've been lying to me for a year, Molly." And that still stings. Not just because it was Molly who'd been lying—Though that is something that pains him because Katherine did the same thing. Lie—But because he didn't see it. Yet again, a woman he is… 'Involved' with has successfully lied to him.
Greg wonders when his badge stopped saying 'Police' and started saying 'sucker'.
John abruptly stands, hands raised. "Stop it. Both of you." He grabs his cane and hobbles over to them, eyes sharp and warning. "This is ridiculous. Having this argument while I'm sitting right here…" He shakes his head. "Molly, are you sorry?"
Molly answers John with a short nod and glassy eyes. "Yes. I'm so sorry."
John nods back with a tiny smile that doesn't seem quit right. "Then you're forgiven." He raises his left arm invitingly and tiny mortician launches herself into John's embrace. He sets his chin on top of her head and his smile suddenly seems genuine.
"You should forgive Sherlock too, John." Molly's voice is quiet, testing. John doesn't say anything, but Greg sees a flicker of pain cross the doctor's face. "He really is sorry."
John makes a noise low in his throat that is neither dismissive or affirmative, and gently pulls his arm back. "I'm going to go out, see if Raz wants some lunch." The doctor limps over to his coat, pulling it on clumsily. "You two stay here and sort this out, yeah?"
Greg opens his mouth to say something but John cuts him off with a look before turning and walking out, cane making soft thumps against the stairs.
Molly watches John go with mixed relief and fear. He's gone, and now it's just… The two of them.
She glances at Greg, who is scrubbing his hand through his short hair while the other rests on his hip. He doesn't look at her, instead cups the back of his neck and looks to the ceiling.
"So." She says softly, and when he still won't look at her she can't help a tiny sigh.
"I know why," he mutters. "I get it. You were protecting…. I get it." He finally looks at her, but it's more of a sidelong glance. "I don't bloody like it, but I get it."
She opens her mouth to say something but he waves a hand at her and rubs at his eyes. "I just… I don't know how to…" He makes an odd noise in his throat, like a choked growl, and shakes his head. "I really don't know what to do next. I don't know what questions to ask."
"You can ask anything." The words are rushed, and she knows that. "Anything at all Greg, You can ask anything and I'll answer."
"But will you tell me the truth?" And now he's staring right at her, and she feels her face flush. "You were able to lie to me for a year. A whole year, Molly." He eyes her, and she can see how upset he is. "How am I supposed to believe anything you say?"
Molly takes a tentative step closer, biting her bottom lip lightly. "Because I have nothing else to hide."
"I don't know that." He mutters. "I tell when people are lying every day. And one... One tiny, quiet girl was able to pull it off for a year." He laughs a little, but he's not amused. "Just like last time."
Molly turns beet red and shakes her head. "I'm not her, Greg. I didn't do anything with Sherlock."
"It's not just—" He stops, shakes his head and holds his arms out to either side, trying to show exactly what 'it' is. Even though he can't even put the feeling into words.
"Greg…" She's suddenly right there, right fucking there, barely and inch of space between them and eyes shimmering like she's going to cry. "I… I love you. And I promise I didn't do anything with Sherlock, and—"
She doesn't get to finish, because Greg presses his lips against her soft ones and pulls her against him with one arm around her waist, the other hand threading his fingers through silky brown hair. He feels her jerk a little in surprise before she kisses him back, slow and soft and so very Molly.
He knows that this isn't over, that these problems aren't resolved. Years of marriage has taught him that nothing is fixed with one conversation, but…
"I love you," He whispers, pulling back ever so slightly, drawing in a breath. "I love you Molly."
She beams at him and pulls him in for another kiss.
They'll have to work things out, he knows. Eventually. Not right now.
When Greg finally says it, John feels his lips quirk into a smile. He leans back from the door that he's had his ear pressed against and bites his lip a little.
He's happy for them. Genuinely, surprisingly happy. He turns and tries to be as quiet as possible as he staggers down the steps—He really dosen't want Greg knowing he was being nosey—And opens the front door.
The reporters only follow him for a block or two before he gets into a cab and gives the driver Molly's address.
The knock on the door is smart and sharp, and Sherlock feels himself pulled from his revere. He eyes the door and considers his options.
He could ignore the reporter/salesman/cookie-selling-little-girl and return to his mind palace, where the absorbent properties of powdered sulphur are currently being catalogued and stored for later review. Which saves time and means he doesn't have to move from the couch.
He could answer the door, politely tell the person on the other side that Molly Hooper isn't home and wouldn't be interested in their interview proposal/product/delicious chocolate wafers, and then go back to his cataloguing. This requires navigation of ridiculous social niceties and falsifying a smile, which he's not really in the mood for.
Or he could answer the door and ruthlessly mock the individual on the other side until they burst into tears or leave, or both. Of all his options, this prospect is both entertaining and worthwhile, he's actually rather 'keyed up' and could do with some extra mental entertainment.
He's about to settle on the last decision when the addition of new data skews him into different options.
"Sherlock?" John calls through the door.
Sherlock immediately sits up and glares at the door, eyes narrowed. "Say that again." He mutters.
John can't hear him, but as always, he obliges. "Sherlock? I know you're in there, I can smell the sulphur from here."
Sherlock is at the door and opening it before he can process that he intends to, which is both fascinating and a bit worrisome. He fiddles with the chain, notes that his hand is trembling slightly (scared or excited? He'll figure it out later.), and flings the door wide.
John's standing on the threshold, leaning on his cane and staring at him as if he wasn't expecting the door to open. Sherlock schools his face into a neutral expression.
"Come to throw another bottle at me?" A tinge of shakiness on the end of that sentence. Hand is still shaking, heart rate elevated. He takes a deep breath through his nose and disguises it as a snort.
"Do you see me holding a bottle?" John retorts, and Sherlock narrows his eyes. John's dressed as he normally is, comfortable jumper with a bold pattern, slightly worn jeans, green jacket. His hair is slightly mussed, as if he's only recently gotten up (Sherlock acknowledges the endearing look this gives the doctor and then pushes it away in favour of further examination). There are deep purple bags beneath his eyes, a stark contrast to his pallid skin.
"No, though I can imagine at least four ways you could hide it without being immediately noticeable."
John doesn't reply for a second, just stares. He lets out a short breath and gestures with one hand. "I'm just here to check on your sutures."
Sherlock steps to one side, allowing just enough room for John to walk in. The doctor shuffles past and Sherlock shuts the door, latching it behind him.
"Shirt off." John says while limping to the sofa. He pauses and then seats himself on the coffee table, stretching his leg out and kneading the muscle with hard strokes.
Sherlock says nothing, but nor does he move to comply. Suspicion makes his mind shift through possibilities. The most likely he can settle upon is that John, after examining the sutures, will promptly leave and continue this forced exile. His medical conscious would be clear and there would be no cause for him to return.
The doctor shoots a look over his shoulder, eyebrow raised. "Sherlock, come on."
Despite his misgivings, Sherlock does as he's told with barely a word. He removes his shirt with stiff, uneasy movements. He already knows that John's stitches are pristine—The doctor is a steady hand and incredibly skilled—but he decides to allow John's streak of perfectionism some satisfaction.
He sits on the couch in front of John, cool air playing over his skin, and begins cataloguing John's physical reactions. Slight pupil dilation, the unconscious way he bites down on his lower lip, the uncomfortable shifting in weight… Signs of physical attraction. Not unexpected, given John's unexpected return to Molly's spare room after The Event In The Kitchen.
The validation was satisfying, though.
John's fingers ran over the bruised skin of cracked ribs in a gentle but strictly medical way. Sherlock flinched. It brings John's gaze up from Sherlock's skin to his eyes for a brief instant.
"Sorry." John mutters, dark blue eyes flaring with something Sherlock has always struggled to identify in normal people before they flick away again.
"It's fine," Sherlock replies. "It's all fine."
John's shoulders stiffen, and it occurs to Sherlock that his attempt at humour was perhaps a bit misled.
"Yeah, you don't look infected." John grips the head of his cane and uses the metal contraption to lift himself up. He stands there a moment, as if he's not sure what to do with himself, then turns and walks towards the door. "Right then, you're sorted."
"—Try not to destroy Molly's flat, will you?" Fingers on the doorknob. In the pointless movies Molly watches with misty eyes and a box of tissue, this would be when the hero says something that catches his intended off guard and makes them stay. Or at least forces some sort of confrontation.
But this is not one of those ridiculous movies. There is no rising music, there is no contrived plot devices keeping two people apart. And Sherlock is certainly no hero. "—I—"
"—Cheers." John's out the door before Sherlock has a chance to even get up off the sofa. He watches the door swing shut with a mixture of disbelief, annoyance, and something he doesn't care to analyse at the moment.
This… re-introduction into John's life was going to be more difficult to achieve then originally thought.