Title: The Side of the Angels
Rating: T (for language, possible adult themes, possible drug use, no explicit bedroom scenes)
Pairing: We'll get there eventually. I'm not giving anything away.
Episode Tag: Post Reichenbach Fall
Summary: "I may be on the side of the angels, but don't think for a moment that I'm one of them." He forgot to knock on wood. When he finds himself unexpectedly burdened with an extra pair of feathered appendages, he finds layer upon layer of mystery to unravel, with Molly's help.
Disclaimer: I do not own.
Author's Notes: This takes place a few months after the Fall- we're going to assume that Sherlock survived, Molly helped him fake his death, but they had very little contact after that as he worked on plans unknown to her. The story is written in Molly's point of view, with occasional third-person limited behind Sherlock.
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"Molly, would you mind getting me some coffee?" Sherlock asked without looking up from the microscope he was operating.
I nodded, realized his eyes were still glued to the eyepiece, and replied out loud. "Sure. Three sugars, no cream, right?"
"Correct. Would you mind getting it from the third floor kitchen? The filters for that one are more reliable and the water doesn't get quite so painfully hot as the first and second floors," he requested. Well, 'requested' in a loose definition of the word- it was more like 'ordered'. I didn't mind, though.
"No problem," I said. I headed for the elevator, and found it was full. The nurse inside gave me a sympathetic look. Behind her, a little boy stuck out his tongue. I sighed and made my slow way up the stairs.
I wasn't even halfway up the first flight before I decided that I wanted a coffee as well. It would be like a coffee date, except in a morgue, and with me on the clock, and without either of us talking much. Still, closest thing I could probably ever have to a coffee date with Sherlock Holmes.
I turned around and went back to retrieve my favorite purple mug. It was of the perfect thickness, not too thin to burn my hands, but not too thick to not radiate heat. It had been a gift from some ex-boyfriend somewhere along the line. I idly wondered if Sherlock would ever go on a date with me. I'd thought that, after I'd helped him fake his death, he would come hide at my flat, or he would really pay attention to me. Alas, alas- nothing changed, even after he was redeemed and 'reanimated'.
Pushing one of the doors open, I stepped into the lab and saw something shocking and remarkable.
A part of me wasn't even surprised.
Sherlock had been mid-stretch when I'd thrown open the door, hands together and arms pulled up over his head, pulling and loosening the muscles in his back and shoulders. He'd also been stretching his wings.
Wings. Oh, god, what?
He folded them back up (there was no other word for the way they pulled in and fit to his back) hurriedly in reaction to me entering, but wasn't fast enough. One of his wingtips hit a beaker in his rush, and knocked it to the ground. About a meter and a half away from him.
He slowly rose to his feet, holding his hands up in a gesture of innocence and kindness. "Molly…" he said slowly. I heard him as if through water.
"You… you have wings," I said stupidly. I blinked rapidly. "I think I'm going into shock," I said in a faint voice. I swayed, and he quickly helped me to a chair. I was too dazed to even appreciate the feeling of his hands around my shoulders.
"Do you need a beverage or something?" he asked. I shook my head, the reality of what had just happened hitting me hard.
Sherlock Holmes had wings. They were almost burned into my mind, and I could still see the edges of them around his back- he hadn't folded them all the way, and they hung loose-like. White, with the tips of the feathers ranging from grey to black. They didn't look extraordinarily angelic- rather, they looked oddly normal and natural, the patterning random and soft-looking.
Snowy owl, I identified absentmindedly. I'd had a grandmother who'd loved birds- we'd gone to the countryside once a year and would eat organic home-cooked foods, bird watch, and help with her garden. Of course he would be a snowy owl.
"Sherlock?" I said.
"Hmm?" he mumbled, making a face as he rolled his shoulders and shuffled his wings, trying to accomplish something (I wasn't sure what) and having no success.
"Why do you have wings?"
"No idea. They're just as novel to me as they are to you, believe me." He stopped fidgeting and sighed with frustration. "They were sore from being folded so tightly, and I figured you walking up three flights of stairs would give me plenty of time to stretch them a little. But no, you had to oversleep this morning and not have coffee at your usual time. And now I can't get them back under my shirt!"
I didn't bother asking how he knew I was going to have to take the stairs, or how he knew I'd overslept. "Here, just a second." I stood and went around behind him. I couldn't help but run a hand over the edge of one. They didn't feel ethereal or especially one temperature or the other. They didn't feel like sugar cane or snow or mist or light. They felt like feathers- warm, dusty and oily at the same time, papery and brittle.
"What are you doing?" he snapped. I sighed.
"Sorry. Just a second." I saw where he'd cut holes in the back of his shirt to allow them freedom, carefully grabbed the edge of one, and helped him fold it. I located the joints and pressed on them, like collapsing a table, and slid it through the cut. We repeated the process on the other side.
"Thank you," he said stiffly, getting his black suit-jacket-blazer and pulling it back on, hiding all evidence of the wings in the first place. I could see that his back was slightly less thin and waifish than usual, but I figured it was only because of twenty-twenty hindsight… and that I was always watching him carefully.
"So, um… how come you have wings?" I asked.
"I already said- no idea."
"Okay…" I tried again. "How long have you had wings?"
"Couple of days. I decided to sleep the other day, and when I woke up eighteen hours later, I was ill and had wings. It's taken all of my time and effort just to hide them- I spent another hour with the door shut, trying to figure out what muscles made them move. My work has suffered accordingly," he said dourly.
"Can you fly?"
"Were you listening? I hardly know how to move them! They're quite a bother," he said angrily. "I can't get rid of them, either- somehow, the nerves in them have connected with my own nervous system."
"Okay, um… we'll run some tests, see if we can figure where they came from, then maybe we can find out how to get rid of them?" I said, ending with it sounding like a question. I told myself to stop being such a wet noodle around him.
"Precisely my idea. This slide isn't a footprint sample, it's a bit of one of my feathers," he confessed. "But with your aid, I can gain access to more of the labs without having to sneak."
"Right!" Collaborating on a secret project with Sherlock- this would be interesting. "May I…?" I gestured to the microscope. He nodded and stepped back, allowing me to look.
I sent out a quick mental thank-you to my grandmother as I looked. I noticed no abnormalities- it looked, for all intents and purposes, like a normal bird feather. Hollow shafts, delicate-looking yet strong tubes of the feather.
"Looks normal enough to me," I commented. "You said you were ill?"
"Yes- I woke up with a high fever, disorientation, vomiting, and diarrhea. After about three hours, it was gone as fast as it had come."
"Do you have any theories on how this happened?"
"A few. I'm looking into the biggest one tomorrow night." I waited for him to say what his theories were, and then realized he wasn't saying.
"What is that?" I said, pressing.
"If it yields results, I'll let you know," he said grimly.
"If you're worried I'm going to tell, or be put in danger or something, I won't-,"
"I'm not in the least bit worried about that," he said briskly, taking the slide, removing the bit of feather, and pulling a lighter from a drawer.
"Oh," I said, a bit put out. Of course he wasn't worried about me- he hardly acknowledged my existence unless he was using me. I allowed a moment of self-pity about the fact that I let him use me, because I was desperate for any interaction with him at all.
He continued speaking as he burned the shred of feather- the barb, I recalled. "I don't mean that in a heartless manner- John has explained to me that I'm often rude to you, and is working on 'moralizing' me. I mean that you wouldn't expose me, as nobody would believe you, for starters. You don't have anyone close enough to you to tell, and finally, you think too highly to be disloyal."
I blushed at his casual mention of my 'loyalty' to him. It was more like obsession, and I was fairly certain he was aware of that.
"And I'm not worried about you being in danger. You've taken multiple self-defense classes since 'Jim from IT' turned out to be a criminal, and all of the classes were quite advanced and thorough. I have complete confidence in your fighting ability, unless confronted with a sniper, which, unfortunately, is one of dear Jim's favorite pawns."
"I don't want to talk about Jim," I said in a low voice. I really didn't.
He glanced at the clock. I followed his gaze- it was almost lunch time.
"Let's continue this discussion over an afternoon meal," he suggested (as if I would ever say no). I blinked at him, unable to keep the corners of my mouth curling up a little in amazement and happiness. It was a dual joy- the fact that Sherlock was eating was fantastic, and the fact that he was eating with me was even more brilliant. I firmly told myself it wasn't a date, but I did mental jumps-for-joy regardless.
"Yes. Unfortunately, the addition of these two new appendages seem to have increased my necessary caloric intake. Usually I can go a day or two with one meal a day, but now I'm ravenous and faint if I eat less than 3,000 calories a day. As I said- bothersome," he explained as he pulled on his coat and scarf. I grabbed my jacket and purse as well, mind slipping to a different track, from hopelessly, damnably school-girl-crush-like to science mode.
"You have more to feed. More muscles, but that wouldn't make such a massive change. When we get back, I'll ask Janet if we can borrow the MRI room for a little while, so I- we, can see what other changes have happened. I doubt wings appearing on your back was the only alteration- I've read up on a bit of theoretical recombinant DNA research and trans-species grafting, and they usually produce extensive changes," I said, letting the science flow over my nervousness (almost always present around Sherlock) and admiration/obsession (again, always around Sherlock).
"Good. We'll research it more, of course, but you can provide us with a tolerable base," he said, heading for the doors.