Araminta18, Mrs. Dizzy, thanks for the love you've given to this as I've put it up. Revision is something I loath and avoid, but this was highly satisfying and hearing everything people mentioned here really made it even more worth it. I hope you like how this ends, and I hope to hear from everyone soon about it. This is now complete, case closed except for the one Sherlock has just opened. But I think that is a task maybe for another day or another writer who is less in tune with this dark, manipulative Sherlock and more in tune with the woman he's realizing he's loved for years.
I'm also a few hundred words into a possible alternate ending, but I don't think that will make it here. I think if it ever does hit the internet, it will be on the Silberias blog.
Thank you all again for the alerts and favorites, and the reviews too :)
Without further ado,
I can see what I've begun
The first night he was home he did several things while Molly was making dinner. He sent Mavis Leonette downstairs with her brother in tow—they were to ask very sweetly for Mrs. Hudson to come upstairs for the wonderful dinner that their mummy was making for them, but it wasn't ready yet so first could they hear the story about when Papa saved Mummy from That Bad Man Named Jim? The next thing he did was sequester himself in the bathroom and quickly shave, washing his face of the itchy beard that had been his best disguise for the last several years. He had apparently cultivated too posh an image for anyone to recognize him with any facial hair whatsoever.
After that he found his violin—Molly had locked it in the top dresser drawer to keep small hands and the cat away from the precious instrument. First he tightened the hair of the bow, and rosined it in silence before turning it to the violin, intent on tuning it for the first time in years. Molly sniffled a few times in the kitchen, crying almost silently. Sherlock didn't ask, he knew. He had tuned it every night and played her something new and interesting, and throughout her day he tried to work in a few snatches of Scheherazade—it was his chosen way of saying that he loved her without actually doing so. Because he hadn't loved her, he'd come to believe, not as he should have anyway.
Coming back with his name blissfully cleared was his second chance on so many things. Perhaps he wouldn't insult Sally Donovan for having Anderson's brat, but rather be good enough to keep that a secret from Anderson as Sally had so far done quite successfully—besides, Sherlock rationalized, he wouldn't inflict Anderson as a father on anyone, not even the man's own son. Sherlock had gotten a lot better at 'compassion' in the last three years, proving his diagnosis of 'high functioning' sociopath—he'd begun to understand mercy. Perhaps he would stand as godfather for John's daughter, or agree to be Lestrade's best man at his remarriage to his wife. So many second chances, and the one he most wanted to take was the one he was getting with Molly.
So he didn't say anything as Molly made dinner and he tuned his violin. He understood her tears, because it had been years since Molly had had this. Him sitting in his chair, rosining his bow, putting his violin to his neck—he well remembered the alien void in his life where she was supposed to be over the last three years, so he understood and saw that his absence had been just as alien or more to Molly.
Sherlock took a few deep breaths, going to his Mind Palace and planning what he would play for her. The next few weeks would be all she would ever know of his three missing years, he would play them for her. He would play that Vivaldi piece he'd been practicing in his head for weeks—the excitement of finally going home, to a warm bed and good food—he would play that. Quickly he worked out several variants of it so that he could play it longer—he dismissed a passing hope his fingers would survive the next few days. The calluses on his left hand had long ago disappeared. Just because he knew every finger placement perfectly, in perfect tune with his bowing, didn't mean it would be comfortable. He went to his chair and stood on it, striking what Molly would tell her friends was a "heroic" pose. For Sherlock it was just the easiest way to stand on the chair and always had been.
Molly had kept this chair, his chair right where he'd left it—it had become her chair in the last three years, bearing the stains and wear marks left by a tiny woman with tinier children, but he graciously decided that they could share. And then he lifted his bow and started the fast and furious tempest that was Vivaldi's Storm. He didn't hope that his violin wouldn't bruise him too badly. It would, it had been three years. It was a fact. From his vantage point on his chair he eyed the living room, kitchen, and the stairs from Mrs. Hudson's flat. It smelled differently but the same, he decided as his fingers flew over the strings. He also decided that he wanted it to return to how it smelled in his memory. He flicked his gaze at Molly, moving into the second arrangement he'd made up without missing a beat, and decided that a third child was most definitely in order. To help him adjust.
As his fingertips warmed unpleasantly as they pressed on the violin strings—oh yes, he was most definitely going to blister them by tomorrow morning at least—the door to a new room opened in his Mind Palace. Inside the room he placed two names—Hamish Gregory Holmes and Eleanor Matilda Holmes—for future reference, when he would need a properly Holmes family name next January or February. Fortunately John Watson, DI Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson had appropriate names on their legal papers, and they would see his choices as considerations of their worth in his life.
Well, they weren't very wrong—but Sherlock knew they would be offended if he enumerated his reasons for choosing the names. As was his habit, he pasted some keywords to the door to get back to the room more easily—baby, fatherhood, family, Molly, news, rent, Baker Street, rent another room from Mrs. Hudson, crowded, surprise, home. They were keywords, nothing more, really, but it pleased others to think that he had to follow a path to get somewhere—long ago someone had described it as though he had a map of his mind and followed the streets listed there. Rubbish. Cache-searches were much faster and more accurate.
The wild abandon of the violin brought his children and Mrs. Hudson scrambling up the stairs. Brinley almost had Mavis Leonette beaten, Sherlock observed proudly. He hopped to the floor so that they wouldn't jump on him and make him fall—Sherlock had no desire to break an arm or his violin on the night of his grand return to life as Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective—instead both of them collided with his legs, clamoring for his attention. He switched to the seventh arrangement, something a little slower and less of a fevered squeal, watching their eyes avidly drink in his quick movements. Mrs. Hudson was clapping, and Molly had one of her hands at her neck—the other in a tight fist just beneath her ribs. Her eyes were wide and moist, glittering with tears.
There would be time to tell John, and Gregory Lestrade, and a dozen other people of his return, but these were his family, and he would make them love him if he had to. One of them he didn't have to, he knew that much. She already gave enough love to their relationship for the both of them. He was struck by the fact that he had missed her so profoundly—and that he was so elated to come home to her. Perhaps…making eye contact with Molly he switched again, a fast, winding version of the song he always played her. Perhaps he loved her. Really, actually loved her—and yet he still failed to love her more than she loved him. The aching high notes of Scheherazade keyed him up, allowing him to take in more than he usually did about Molly.
She was exactly what he needed her to be, always. Means to an end, assistant, lover, wife, mother to his children, and comforter of his soul. He would try, now that they were as safe as he could make them, to be exactly what she needed him to be—and it occurred to Sherlock that he had no idea what Molly needed him to be, and that in and of itself was a wonderful mystery to solve as his first case back from the dead. He'd always liked her, but why had she always liked him?
Sherlock grinned, and the melody coming from his fingertips and violin turned wicked. Cold-cases were always the most satisfying to solve, after all.