The characters and situations in this story belong to Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, the BBC, the no doubt vastly irritated shade of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, CTW, Kermit the Frog's alter ego, and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any. All other characters belong to me, and if you want to play with them you have to ask me first.
Crack!fic. This is a crossover that will probably be opaque to most readers, sorry; but frankly I couldn't resist the connection. It struck me early on, and eventually that ripened into this.
ETA: Production notes and explanations for this story are available at my Dreamwidth/LiveJournal accounts (username vr-trakowski), under the "production notes" tag.
"I don't know anything."
She'd never, ever been good at lying. Molly didn't hold the Detective Inspector's gaze; she looked vaguely past him, as if tired. And she held the strictest truth in the forefront of her mind as she answered his question yet again. "I saw the body myself, Greg. So did you. Why do you think he's still alive?"
Lestrade shifted, then blew out a breath that sounded as weary as Molly felt. "I don't know. There's just something about all this that's off." He scrunched up his mouth wryly. "Not that Sherlock wasn't usually anyway."
Molly nodded in agreement and turned back to her microscope. "How's Doctor Watson?" she asked, knowing it would divert him.
She heard Lestrade's coat rustle as he moved away from the long morgue table. "Not good," he admitted. "Have you seen him lately?"
Molly raised her head again, brushing back a stray hair impatiently. Why everyone thought she and the doctor were close, when half the time the man couldn't even get her name right- "Not since the memorial."
And he'd been a wreck, though he'd held himself together with an iron control. She'd seen it before, people dazed by a blow too heavy to bear, still on their feet but teetering on collapse.
"Right." Lestrade eyed her, and Molly did her best to ignore him as she switched out one slide for another. He suspected her of knowing more about Sherlock's suicide than she'd admit, but so far she'd managed to keep him from guessing.
She hoped desperately that it never occurred to him to put Mycroft Holmes on her trail, because she wouldn't last five seconds if he did.
"Look, Greg, I know you're trying to…to figure things out, but you've asked me and asked me, and the answer's always the same. And I have work to do." She peered through the eyepieces, holding her breath, hoping that Lestrade would give up finally and go away.
"Yes…yes. Sorry." She heard him sigh, and the tap of his shoes as he circled around her towards the door. "Take care then."
Molly lifted her head once more to watch him go, returning a nod for his wave, and took note of the slump of his shoulders as he disappeared down the hospital corridor. Then she looked down at her instrument and let out her own sigh, pulling out the empty slide.
Sherlock's death and the accompanying mess had hit Lestrade hard, she knew; much as Sherlock exasperated the Detective Inspector, Greg had been fond of the man, in a bemused sort of way. And he considered Dr. Watson a friend.
Molly leaned her elbow on the lab bench and her head on her hand to try to ease the ache behind her eyes. She hadn't wept since…since that day, though she wished she could. Sherlock, do you know how much you are hurting these people?
The answer, of course, was silence.
She pondered it later, on the ride home, with the Tube's flickering lights and rattles a way to drown out any distractions around her. Molly had no illusions left where Sherlock was concerned. She'd accepted her own feelings for him long ago, and tried to accept the fact that he had no use for them, other than a bit of emotional manipulation here and there when he needed a favour.
Be fair. You knew what he was doing and you let him do it anyway.
But for all of that, the awkwardness and small humiliations, his impatience and—to be honest—bafflement, he'd come to her. Not just because she could get him what he needed.
Because he trusted her.
It was a trust she didn't intend to betray, though its weight rode heavier on her every day.
It was a double grief; mourning his loss, along with his friends and acquaintances, but also knowing that he actually lived. And that she could speak no hint of it lest whatever scheme he had built so delicately come crashing down.
She didn't think Sherlock knew how much it hurt her to carry the knowledge, nor did she really think he'd care if he did. But to see Mrs. Hudson's tears, Lestrade's puzzled sorrow, Dr. Watson's grief and rage, and to know that she could end them with a word—at times, it was an agony.
Particularly because she had no idea if he was ever coming back.
Molly climbed out of the Underground and walked the last blocks to her flat. Her coming-home routine was the same as always—greet the cat, put away her coat and shoes and keys, make a cup of tea, and sit down with Toby while she drank it. Then dinner, and perhaps a book or a bit of telly.
This time she sat and let the tea go cold. Toby curled up in a purring ball on her lap, but she didn't move, not even to turn on the lights when the room grew dark. Molly knew she should get up and make supper and do all the little things that she did each evening, but she couldn't seem to find the energy. All she could remember was Dr. Watson's tight pale face, Mycroft Holmes' frozen, empty eyes. Mrs. Hudson's hands lying empty in her lap. Lestrade's desperate efforts to find a why.
I can't do this any more.
Getting a leave of absence was easy, even a bit humiliating, because she never took a holiday and everyone, including her supervisor, knew how she behaved around Sherlock; it had been hospital gossip for years. Molly gritted her teeth and bore the sympathy, asked her neighbour to look after Toby, and booked a plane ticket.
She needed to talk to someone—to lean on them—and she knew exactly where to go.
Molly barely remembered her great-uncle, he'd died when she was hardly more than a baby, but she did remember going to visit him in New York City. She'd loved his store, with its jumbled smells of fruit and paper and chocolate, its mysterious soda counter and laden shelves. She remembered him more as a voice and a scent than a person, gruff but kind and slipping her lemon drops when her parents weren't looking. Some people might have been ashamed to admit that one of their ancestors was a greengrocer, but she wasn't.
Her family had come back to the area on subsequent visits, but Molly had to stop and calculate how long it had been. Oh my…more than twenty years.
Still, she knew she'd be welcome.
She'd booked a room at a relatively cheap motel. Molly barely took the time to stop in and drop off her suitcase before catching a cab.
It was a quiet neighbourhood—most inhabitants of New York didn't even know it was there—but she hadn't forgotten the route. Molly got out of the cab at the corner, paid the driver, and watched him leave before heading down the clean-swept little alley.
There weren't many people around when she emerged, but it felt familiar and so sweet that Molly felt herself relaxing just by stepping onto the sidewalk. She sighed.
"Molly Hooper? Is that you?"
The slow, low drawl was instantly recognisable. Molly turned, and there he was—tall and shy, fluttering impossibly long lashes and looking hopeful.
"Mr. S." She tried to smile. A seven-syllable name had been far too much for her baby tongue. "Yes, it's me."
He reached for her, and there, there was the comfort and caring she'd known she'd find. "Molly, you're sad." He blinked worriedly. "Bird! Herry! Come here! Molly's here and she's sad."
She leaned into her old friend's embrace, feeling his trunk coil warmly around her waist, and the tears rose and spilled over at last.