Final Editing: 06/17/13

Disclaimer: I own nothing

A dead man sits on Molly Hooper's vanity chair, pale skin like marble (bruises and lacerations veins in the stone), a cigarette between his fingers. He flicks the ash into a cup half filled with tepid tap water, blows the smoke towards the open window, where the curtains flutter like bleached out, ghostly fingers, never taking his eyes off the sleeping woman.

The cold air hardens her nipples (pink, tight, and if he looks for too long he can feel them against his tongue, the roof of his mouth), raises goosebumps on her skin, but Molly never wakes. She sleeps on, mouth parted, only one leg remaining under her blanket. He can see marks on her once pristine skin; bruises in the shape of his hands, holding his finger prints, places where – in good light – she will be pink and red and maybe even purple from his mouth, his teeth, the raw scratch of his unshaven face.

If he were still alive, he would drown in guilt. He wouldn't even be here – this never would have happened.

But Sherlock Holmes is dead, and so he is free to drop the cigarette butt into the water, to move back to Molly's bed and curl around her.

Molly, I think I'm going to die.

What do you need?

She's soft, so soft, and her hair smells like lemons. Sherlock covers them both with the warm blanket, wraps his arms around her stomach and holds one breast in his hand. With his nose against the back of her neck he thinks he remembers what it feels like to cry, what her tears taste like, and tries to push it away.

A good man would slip away, hide his face, never return.

But Sherlock Holmes is a desperate, greedy ghost, and she is the only thing he has left in the world.

He sleeps, his grip on her so tight he will leave new marks.


As he dresses, she sits on the end of the bed wearing nothing but a ratty old dressing gown, her hair tangled and her eyes red. Sherlock does his best not to watch her, not to see the rug burn on her knees, the love bite at the inside of her ankle, but he sees everything. (Too late, though, always too late...)

"I could go with you," Molly says, lips and fingers trembling. "I could help you."

Sherlock knows she would. He's almost asked her to come with him a hundred times already, has been swallowing the words until they clog up his throat. (He needs someone to keep him in line, keep him sane, keep him anchored to reality.)

"No," he answers shortly, threading his belt through a pair of ratty old jeans that belong to Molly's brother. (They're too big in the waist, too short in the legs, but he'll blend in, and that is all that matters.) "What could you do? You'd be in the way."

"I know," Molly agrees so easily that Sherlock's fingers pause and shiver.

"I can't worry about you while I'm taking care of...this. And John needs someone to look after him." This isn't what he wants to say, isn't what he has in his head (I'd keep running forever to keep you away from them, we'd disappear and no one would find us again; but if you stay here I'll come back, I'll always come back.)

"Yes," she half-whispers, nodding. "Yes, I know."

For a time, neither of them move.

"Promise me..." Tears drip from the tip of her nose, splash onto her hands. "Promise me you'll – you'll come back. Okay? You don't – we don't have to – it can be like this never happened., I mean. I promise, okay? Just p-please..."

"You stupid...stupid woman." Anger scorches Sherlock from the inside, a rage so deep and dark that it could blot out the sun, erupting with a force so great it nearly doubles him over. Doesn't she understand? Can't she see? So like them, so like them all; they see, but they do not observe, blind to what is staring them – her – in the face.

What do you need?

If I wasn't everything that you think I am – everything that I think I am – would you still want to help me?

Molly recoils, presses her hands to her mouth and shrinks down on herself. Sherlock lunges for her, grace lost as his knees hit the mattress, his hands catching her shoulders and pressing her down. Looming over her, vibrating with rage and desperation and something, something Sherlock can't name (refuses to name), he takes in her tears, her soft, hitching sobs, the way her dressing gown dips and gapes and shows more than it hides.

He kisses her so forcefully, so artlessly, that their teeth clack. He bites her lip, hard enough to break skin, to taste her blood (life, this is life; he is dead, but she is alive, and he will drink her in until he is as warm and living as she is). He has to fight to get his belt unbuckled, cursing into the skin of her neck until the jeans sag and give and fall below his narrow hips.

His hands catch her around the waist, slide her upwards, up until his mouth on is on her breast and as he kicks out of the blue jeans he knees her thighs apart. Holding himself above her with one arm, he snakes his hand down, between her legs, to find soft skin still wet from his mouth, his tongue (she gripped the sheets, his hair, keened and cried and it was good, so good). He strokes, presses, panting as Molly's hips lift and jerk.

"I will come back," he says, and there is a voice in the back of his head, panicked, don't hurt her, don't hurt her; you are above this, but he's rough as he presses two fingers into her body. She groans, deeply, and there is silence (silence that nothing, not even the morphine, had given him) in Sherlock's mind. "And you will still be here, Molly, you will; just like this, whenever I need you. Won't you? Won't you, Molly?"

"Sherlock!" She twists her hips, presses hard against him as he moves his fingers, and Sherlock finds he can think of nothing past her heat, how wet she is, how she sounds, how soft her skin is.

"Won't you?" he asks again, and again. "Won't you, Molly?"

"Yes, yes!" He kisses the side of her mouth, her cheek, the bridge of her nose, one fluttering eyelid. She whimpers when he removes his fingers with a soft, wet sound that makes him shudder so hard his toes curl. He catches her thigh, smearing her wetness across her skin as he pulls her leg up tight, tight against his hip and aching ribs.

He is not gentle (how can he be?). He does not press or push or slide into Molly Hooper; he thrusts, like an animal consumed by baser instincts (isn't that we all are, we humans, animals that walk on two legs and pretend pretend pretend; even you, Mr. Holmes, yes even you), so hard that he thinks they'll be no separating them ever, ever again.

It was never like this before, the times he'd shot himself up until his mind was nothing more than the drone of a bee-hive far too close, just this side of painful; he'd fucked, and examined, and never really discovered much use for carnal acts. How disgusting, how base, how crude; fucking Molly is not like those brief times, no.

It is biological, yes, primal; it is also far, far too emotional. Sentimental. Did he know, somewhere in the back of the most lizard part of his massive brain, that it would be like this? Is that why he was cold, and cruel, and yet never quite managed to not notice her, to not drive off any competing male that so much as looked at her for too long?

Yes, he thinks. Yes.

"You will wait for me." He pants into her hair, bites the soft flesh under her ear just to hear her sharp noise of pained pleasure. Molly's nails dig into his back, hit bruises and press too hard against dislocated ribs, but it's good, it's good. He's alive, he is, no matter what everyone but he and Molly believe. "And there will be no one else, no one, Molly, no one."

Sherlock fucks her so hard that the bed creaks and groans and threatens to cave in; Molly writhes, one hand locked in his hair as she pulls herself up, kisses him until he is swallowing her cries and his name and everything, everything.

"No men," he gasps, sliding a hand between their bodies, pinching her clit until Molly shrieks, legs curling sharply around his body. "No women. No one, no one but me. Tell me, Molly, tell me."

"No one, no one." She's still crying, tears dripping down the sides of her face to become lost in her hair. "No one else, never will be – oh God, oh God, Sherlock, please – I love you, I love –" Molly bites down hard on her lips, twists her face away even as Sherlock lifts her hips higher and finds a high he has never, never had before.

"Tell me again." He can just barely breathe; no matter how many gulps of too hot air he sucks in, it isn't enough. Molly is tightening, clenching, stomach taut as she gives those high, keening noises from the back of her throat that Sherlock knows means she's close, so close. "Tell me, Molly, you love me. Say it!"

"I love you, I love you, I love you," Molly cries, and Sherlock breaks. Every muscle in his body pulls taut, his hips surge, and there is fire blazing in his stomach, spreading outwards as he grits out her name, over and over and over, pressed tight inside Molly as he spills.

For a time, he can hear nothing other than the dull roar of his blood in his ears, the ragged gasp of his own breathing. Then come Molly's sounds as she struggles for air, the slide of her lips down his neck, across his shoulder as one hand rubs circles on the small of his back.

"I love you," she says, licking away his sweat. "I love you."

He rolls to the side, takes her with him. Her dressing gown is tangled around her, but he manages to free Molly's arms, tossing it across the room. He curls around her, into her, head on her chest as her fingers run through his hair, and Sherlock doesn't know if – after everything – he is strong enough to leave.


"My brother will come to see you. Soon, I would expect. Tell him I left this in your bag, before…" Sherlock doesn't finish the sentence, but still Molly flinches. She nods, back in her ugly dressing gown. He lays the envelope on her kitchen table, and hoists the backpack of supplies Molly gave him higher on his shoulder.

He thinks, he knows, that he should say something else. John would know what to say, what to do; but Sherlock is already too raw, too exposed, as though his skin has been peeled away, and his nerves are left bare and under attack. So he swallows, reaches out and runs his fingertips across the curve of her cheek.

What do you need?


"Tell me," he asks, thumb on her lower lip. "Tell me again."

"I love you," Molly whispers, catching his hand, kissing his palm. Her eyes are bright and warm and, yes, scared. So scared. "I'll be waiting."

He doesn't kiss her. (If he kisses her he'll take her on the table, on the floor, hide inside her body and forget what has to be done.) He simply nods, turns his back on her and leaves out of the dining room window. He clatters down the fire escape, into warm sunshine and cool air, and disappears into the crowd.

He still smells like sex and Molly and coffee. On the Tube he tucks his nose into his collar, closes his eyes, and knows (if he were a different man) he would cry.


Hours after Sherlock's departure, a blank-faced man with a waiting car arrives to inform Molly she has a meeting to attend. He doesn't tell her where they are going, but it isn't needed; Molly has been dreading this moment since Sherlock told her the plan, and the part she would play. Mycroft Holmes will have questions, and Molly only prays that she can keep her secrets locked away from him.

In what seems to be his home, Mycroft offers her a seat and tea, flips open the doors on a wall cabinet, and turns the flat screen hidden within on.

It takes Molly a few moments to realize what she is seeing. The video is black and white, a bit grainy, and lacking sound. But then she sees the date on the bottom of the screen, sees Sherlock's hair and her hands tracing his spine, realizes that this is where he lifted her to the lab table, pinned her hands and kissed her until she thought she would die.

"This video was taken hours before my brother's death." Mycroft speaks without inflection, taking a sip of his tea as he leans back in his own chair. "It baffles me, Dr. Hooper. My brother rejected both sentiment and what he believed were base, needless desires brought on by the weakness of flesh. And yet here the two of you are, seeming to greatly enjoy said weakness."

Molly takes a deep breath, sets down her tea cup, and stands. She crosses the room and closes the cupboard doors before turning to Mycroft, her arms tightly folded under her breasts.

She wants to curse, to scream, to throw every solid object she can lift into this cold, unfeeling face watching her every move. Instead she says, quietly, "I don't see how my brief relationship with Sherlock affects you in any way."

"Do you realize the level of trust needed for Sherlock to allow someone that close to him – without the addition of drugs, I mean. Despite all appearances, not even John Watson has been granted that level of closeness with Sherlock. It leaves me with questions, Dr. Hooper. Questions about your relationship with Sherlock, why you have been suspended from St. Bartholomew Hospital, and the reason you chained the internal doors to the morgue shut, unhooked the security videos, and kept the world at large away from Sherlock's body for nearly two hours after his death.

"I think," he says with a smile that is rather snake-like, "there are several things that you need to tell me, Dr. Hooper."

"Mr. H-Holmes," she stutters over the name, cringes, almost stumbles. But she keeps moving, takes her seat, and does her best not to cry. "I chained the doors shut so they wouldn't...see him like that. It's the same reason I unhooked the cameras in the morgue. They, the um, the staff I mean...they mock him. Mocked. They are cruel, and they never – they never knew him –"

The tears come without prompting; all Molly has wanted to do since the morning he left is cry. So she does.

"He's so private," she mutters, unable to look up, to meet the gaze across from her. "He wouldn't have wanted everyone see...that. Him...bare. Opened –" Hands over her face, shoulders shaking, tears flooding out everything around her, Molly feels sick.

The thought of Sherlock on her autopsy table is enough to shatter her.

Molly doesn't know what is more shocking; Mycroft offering her a handkerchief, or the pity in his eyes.

"Thank you," he says, so quietly that she just barely hears it.

Molly aches. She wants to tell him, tell him everything; Sherlock is alive, running, hunting, and she's so afraid for him, so fucking afraid. But she knows her role, her part, and so she says nothing, not a word.

"It was absolutely Sherlock, then?"

"Yes," Molly whispers, her stomach aching from the magnitude of her lies. "Yes."

"I see. I had thought, perhaps..." Mycroft trails off into deep, brooding silence.

He steeples his fingers, leans back in his chair, and Molly falls apart. Thankfully, he is far too lost in his own mind to notice. Eventually, though, sometime after she has stopped audibly sobbing and the tears have slowed, Mycroft says, without ever taking his eyes off the fire in the hearth, "Your relationship, Dr. Hooper. Explain."

"He...that day...he came to me. I don't – I still don't quite know why, why then – but, um – well, it was obvious. How I feel about him, I mean. saw. Um, you saw that."

"He said nothing to do you? Nothing about his...plans? About Moriarty?"

Don't let me go, Sherlock had half-begged and half-demanded, already inside Molly, his eyes wild and lost and scared. Don't let me go, Molly.

"No," Molly whispers.

"Did he leave anything in your possession?"

"Yes." At this, Mycroft's head shoots up so fast that Molly worries he's hurt himself. She takes her bag from the floor where she set it, rummaging inside until she finds the letter (thankful she'd stuck it in there after Sherlock left). "I just – just, um, found it in my bag. This morning. It's, um, it's for you."

There is such raw, honest emotion on this man's face that Molly feels like a voyeur as she passes the letter over.

Mycroft examines the envelope, like Sherlock would. He stands, crosses to his desk to retrieve a letter opener, and carefully slices it open as he returns to his chair. His fingers tremble as he pulls out the letter, and for a long, long moment, he does not open it. He simply holds it, breathing, eyes shut.

Molly takes a sudden interest in the floor.

The paper rustles as it is unfolded, and Molly keeps her gaze adverted, her hands folded tightly together in her lap. She can't help but look up at Mycroft's soft gasp. He stares at the letter as though it has revealed some great secret. Looking to Molly, he swallows, refolds the letter and places it back in the envelope. Mycroft tucks it into an inside pocket of his suit jacket, gently, with reverence.

"And your suspension?"

"I held the b-body of a...of a friend hostage so I would be the one to perform his autopsy. I'm suspended, and pending review."

"Do not worry, Dr. Hooper. If you wish to continue working at St. Bartholomew's, you will do so."

Molly knows enough about Mycroft Holmes, and his minor position in the government, to not ask how he can possibly assure her of this. "Thank you," she says instead, offering him a small smile.

"May I ask you something, Doctor Hooper? Something...personal?" Sounding rather bewildered at the need or desire to do so, Mycroft tips his head to the side, eyes trained on Molly. She nods, nervously tucking loose strands of hair behind one ear. "Do you love him?"

"Isn't...isn't that rather, um, obvious?"

Mycroft nods, and Molly can't quite convince herself that it is only the light that makes it look as though there are tears in his eyes.


Molly's suspension is ended two days after her meeting with Mycroft, and she returns to work with a bowed head and little to say. Her co-workers avoid her, but that isn't exactly new. If she walks up on a conversation it tends to die, and she knows they're talking about her, and Sherlock, and how the papers say he's a fake.

She keeps her head down, her mouth shut, and tries to ignore it all.


Three months, one week, and two days after it all began, Molly buys three pregnancy tests at the chemists, and chews her nails the whole way home. At home she feeds Toby, stays up late watching TV, and goes to bed a little after one in the morning. The night is spent lying in bed with a pillow over her head, trying not to cry, not to panic, convincing herself that it's nothing, just stress, only stress.

She wakes sometime after six, eyes gritty and aching from a restless night. She doesn't bother with her dressing gown or slippers, simply shambles to the bathroom, opens the first box, and reads the instructions three times...just to make sure.

God knows how many liters of water and an hour later, every test has been taken. They are all positive, and Molly is strangely numb.


Molly went to university with Brandon Gates; they spent all-nights trembling from exhaustion and far too much coffee, drank themselves stupid upon occasion, and when he married his childhood sweetheart Diana, Molly was a bridesmaid. She was at each of three daughter's christenings, at every birthday party, and is their go-to babysitter when they need a night to themselves.

It was pure luck that they ended up at St. Bart's together. So of course when Molly has to go to an OB/GYN, it's Brandon she chooses, even though he makes terrible jokes about finally getting into her knickers, and has named the mole at the juncture of her hip and thigh Naughty Girl.

The blood and urine tests are positive, the ultrasound shows a tiny little fetus, right on track developmentally, and Brandon is quieter than Molly has ever known him to be.

"I know this wasn't planned," says Brandon, tapping a pen against Molly's file, the rollers of his chair squeaking as he jiggles one leg. "Do you know what you plan to do? There are options, Molly, if this isn't something you want. I know a wonderful doctor, a very discreet clinic –"

"No. I'm not getting an abortion. It isn't an option." It was, actually, right until Brandon said it and Molly panicked. It's what she should do, she knows; Sherlock might as well be dead, she's not fit to be anyone's mum, and oh God, how will she explain? How?

When Sherlock returns...if he returns...

"All right," Brandon answers mildly, "Adoption is another option. I can help find you a lovely family."

"I'm keeping it." Molly's voice seems to be coming back to her from a great distance.

She is?

Yes. Yes, she is. Sherlock can go bugger himself. She nearly lost her career for him, has been in love with the bastard for years, and he only seems to notice it when he needs something – like help faking his own death.

She will keep their baby. And if he wants no part of it when (if) he returns, then fine. She might not be a genius, but she has more than enough love for this child.

"All right. I'll make a note here to have your next appointment set up – a month, I think – and I'll give you a prescription to take to the chemists. Prenatal vitamins...well, you know the whole drill." Brandon busies himself with writing them out, tongue at the corner of his mouth. He asks, so suddenly that Molly can't find the time to think of a lie, "And the father?"

"He jumped off the roof of St. Bart's the day I conceived, according to your calculations." Oh yes, that is absolutely hysteria in Molly's voice. "I'm sure you saw the – the papers –"

Brandon gathers Molly in a tight hug as she falls apart, and she clings to him as though he is last solid thing left in the world.

"Oh, Molls," he whispers over and over, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. We'll get through this, yeah? Me and Di, we'll help all we can. The girls will be thrilled that Aunt Molly is having a baby. We'll make do. We will, love, we will."

"Sherlock..." Molly keens, and almost doesn't notice the wet heat of Brandon's tears slipping down the side of her neck.


When Molly leaves the hospital the next day, after a grueling twelve-hour shift and double homicide of a mother and her eight year old daughter (that sent Molly into hysterics so intense she locked herself in the storage cupboard and sobbed for twenty minutes straight), there is a black town car waiting on the curb. The door opens, and Mycroft leans forward just enough to be visible.

"Dr. Hooper," he says, unfurling one hand, "please, allow me to give you a ride home."

Molly doesn't have the energy to argue. She enters the car on the opposite side, the door opened by the driver. It clicks shut behind her softly, and Mycroft is silent until they enter traffic.

"I have seen your file with Dr. Gates. Fourteen weeks along; I certainly had not anticipated this."

Molly feels she should be outraged at his use of power; instead, she's absurdly grateful that she didn't have to tell him.

"Yes," she answers quietly, "I am."

"I do not know what your plans currently are, but if you have thought to terminate this pregnancy, I wish to tell you now that I will pay you very large amount not to do so. After the birth, I will take custody of the child, and you –"

"I'm keeping it." Twisting her hands together, Molly fights down a burst of anger so strong it makes spots appear in front of her eyes. "I'm keeping it. Not you."

"I had thought you might say that." In truth, Mycroft sounds positively grateful, and as Molly looks up, she is shocked to see relief etched plainly across his face. "I am...glad to hear that."

They ride in silence. Mycroft exits the car with Molly, following her like a silent, umbrella wielding shadow. Once inside her flat, he hangs his coat and umbrella by the door, and Molly gestures him into her small lounge.

"Would you like some tea?"

"Yes, thank you."

Numbness is a blessed change from the fear and anger Molly has been flying in between since she took the first pregnancy test, and she's grateful to have it while Mycroft is in attendance. She doesn't think he'd quite know what to do if she broke into tears, or started hurling china at the walls.

She prepares the tray, setting out a plate of fairy cakes she'd baked yesterday. Once it's all ready she carries it into the lounge, setting it on the coffee table.

"Help yourself," Molly encourages Mycroft, catching the way his eyes linger on the cakes. "I bake when I'm nervous. Or angry. Or, I just bake a lot, actually."

Mycroft gives a wholly un-Holmes sound whimper of pleasure at his first bite of cake, before looking at Molly rather helplessly.

"Oh," he breathes, "they're quite good." Piling two more onto his plate, Mycroft busies himself with cakes, while Molly sips her tea and bites hard at the inside of her cheeks to keep from grinning.

"I want you to be aware, Molly –" apparently, knowing she is pregnant with his supposedly dead brother's child put them on a first name basis – "that I will do everything in my power to protect both yourself and your child. Sherlock made enemies, and I have no doubt that they will come after his child."

"How would they know?" Molly asks, shaking her head. "I didn', well, I just didn't think I'd tell anyone."

"Oh no, Molly, no. They will know. The chances that I will ever have children are...slim, to say the least, and while I never truly anticipated that Sherlock would do so, I had made provisions, just in case. I am glad, now more than ever, that I had the foresight. More than that, even, there remains Sherlock's last request."

"Um, last request?" Whatever it is, it must have been in the letter Sherlock left with her. Molly had wanted to open it, but it didn't seem right, or fair to either of them. Mycroft believed this was the last message he would ever receive from Sherlock (and if things went wrong, it might well be), and Sherlock trusted her to pass it on without prying.

"Yes. Did you not read the letter?"

"No, um, it just...didn't seem right."

"Hmm..." Mycroft widens his eyes just the tiniest bit, as though surprised at a show of ethics. (Given his line of work, well...) "He asked me to ensure your well-being, at any cost."

Stunned would be an accurate word choice to describe her, Molly feels. She is stunned, right down to her bones. Why would he...? He'd lost everything in one fell swoop, and so Molly could comprehend the sex, the intensity, his demands. But to ask Mycroft to take care of her...?

"Oh," she squeaks, "I didn't...oh."

"With that in mind..." Mycroft reaches into his pocket, producing a folded envelope. He hands it to Molly, steepling his fingers as he does so. "This seemed the most prudent way to proceed."

Inside the envelope is a marriage license. Molly has to stare at it for a long, long moment before she comprehends that it is her marriage license; Mary Margaret Hooper next to Sherlock Vernet Holmes, and it's dated five months ago, with John and Mycroft as witness.

"No," she half gasps, "No – no, you can't – no. That's a lie."

"It is legal," corrects Mycroft, leaning forward. "It will keep you safe, and the child."

"But – but we're not married, we never were –"

"You were. 15th of April, 2012. Private ceremony, arranged by myself, and the only outside attendant was John Watson. Sherlock wanted it kept private to keep you safe, and you agreed."

"But –"

"No, Mrs. Holmes. No buts. These are the facts, now. No one but Sherlock Holmes himself could find out this is fake, and I dare say that he will not be doing so from the grave."

Molly wants to argue with him – she wants so badly it hurts. But there is something in Mycroft's eyes, something hard to place. It clicks, quite suddenly; Mycroft is afraid. He's putting her in the middle of some plan, a web, but perhaps this is the safest place he can find for her and his brother's child.

Besides, Molly has never been very good at saying no.

"John will never agree with this," she says weakly, looking down.

"Leave Dr. Watson to me, please. A car will arrive for you at half-ten in the morning. Please be waiting. get some rest." Appearing vaguely uncomfortable issuing such an order, Mycroft quickly rises and moves to leave. Molly doesn't bother with showing him out – he probably has the plans of her flat tucked away in his office, already memorized. Besides, the door is tucked between the lounge and the little dining room; it isn't as though he can get lost, seeing how small the flat is.

"You know," Mycroft says while pulling his coat on, "it was me Sherlock took his first steps to. It is strange how such things become so important, after..."

Molly cries, and this time she thinks it is more for Mycroft than herself.


The car brings Molly to Baker Street the following morning, and Molly sits in the back for several minutes gulping in desperate breathes of cool air, trying hard not to completely lose her composure. She has no idea what Mycroft is planning, why she has been brought here, but God, it hurts. She wants to run inside the building, up the steps, find Sherlock at his violin in front of the windows, or lodged at his microscope; she wants him to roll his eyes at her tears, to pin her on his bed, to demand coffee, to call her John while he's lost in thought.

She just wants him.

"Ma'am?" the driver questions, twisting around in his seat.

"Sorry," she whimpers, "I – I was...thinking. So sorry."

When Molly steps into the building, she is nearly bowled over by the shouting. The door to Sherlock and John's flat is shut, and while the words aren't clear, the anger is palpable. Mrs. Hudson is hovering at the bottom of the staircase, one hand at her mouth.

"Oh, Molly dear," she breathes tearfully, opening her arms to her. Molly goes into the embrace willingly, if a bit stunned; she does not know Sherlock's landlady well, though since his 'death' the woman has constantly invited Molly over for tea and tears and angry rants that end with the old woman clinging to Sherlock's dressing gown and sobbing her heart out.

"What's going on?"

"Mycroft and John," Mrs. Hudson answers, shaking her head. "Been up there nearly an hour, started out awfully quiet. I brought them up a tea tray not long ago, walked in just as John hit Mycroft. Well, I can't say that I haven't thought about doing it, but really – we've all lost him, you know, and..." tossing her hands into the air in a helpless gesture, Mrs. Hudson trails off.

"Go have a rest," Molly urges the older woman, "go on. I'll take care of this."

"Oh no, Molly dear, I don't think –"

"I insist. Go on."

Molly doesn't wait around to see if Mrs. Hudson obeys. She mounts the steps determinedly, jaw so tight it aches. She pushes open the door to find John with his fists balled at his side, violently red and trembling; Mycroft is pinching the bridge of his bleeding nose, and pointing his umbrella threateningly at the doctor.

"What the bloody hell are you two doing?" Molly demands, slamming the door behind her.

Two heads turn, four pairs of eyes blink owlishly, and Molly is surprised to find that she has exactly zero fucks to give after realizing she is about to have a Hooper tantrum worthy of her Aunt Caro.

"Mrs. Hudson is downstairs wringing her hands, with no idea what to do, while you two are up here acting like bloody cavemen! We've all lost him, do you realize that? We've all lost Sherlock; not just you Mycroft, and not just you John. We are all in pain! And you know what? Considering I'm the one that's bloody well carrying his unborn child, I think if anyone gets the right to hit anyone else, it's damn well going to be me!" With this announcement Molly whips her purse off her shoulder, launches it into a wide, whirling arc, and soundly knocks John Watson in the head with it.

She then steps to the sofa and collapses, buries her face in her hands, and sobs.

"Ow," says John. "Um...did you just hit me? With your bag? Really?"

Molly sobs out something that might very well be, "Go fuck yourself, John Watson!"

"All right then," he says faintly, turning back to Mycroft.

"I told you I wasn't lying," Mycroft grumbles, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket to mop the blood off his face. "And despite what you – or your fists – have to say on the matter, I have only the child's best interest in mind. As well as Molly's."

"Yes," John agrees quietly, "I think I see that now. But...really? Molly, are you sure? I mean that – that it's Sherlock's?"

"No, John, it's his twin Sherevil's baby!" Molly admits that it is entirely possibly that she is having a nervous breakdown. Once again, the fucks amount to exactly nil. "I was very much there, so yes, yes I am sure that it's his!"

" it...a petri dish sort of thing?"

The glare Molly bestows upon John is so forceful it makes him wince.

"You know Sherlock and his experiments," John defends, "it's a perfectly valid question."

"Seeing as I have seen the video, I can assure you that is not the case." Mycroft speaks in such a way that it is clear he would very much like to forget having seen said footage.

John, for his part, totters to a chair, falling into it as though his bones have become liquid.

"Video?" he asks faintly. "Sherlock recorded it?"

"Security footage from the lab," is Mycroft's delicate answer.

There is a long moment of silence, in which Molly wipes her nose and eyes with her sleeve, and tries to convince herself that bludgeoning John with the nearest solid object will not help the situation at all.

And then, quite out of the blue, John gives a snort of laughter. Then another, and another, until he's hooting, head tossed back, roaring his amusement; but now he's crying as well, tears streaming as he rocks back and forth, clutching his stomach as though he's afraid he's going to fall apart.

"Oh dear," murmurs Mycroft, "I'm afraid we've broken him."