AN: I should actually have the next chapter of I am Swaplocked up either later tonight or tomorrow, but here's something that I've been working on for Halloween. It's an AU tale, based on the idea that instead of working at Barts, Molly got a job in Edinburgh, Scotland instead. She never met Sherlock, never got jerked around by Moriarty, and Sherlock never had her as an asset when it came time for him to fall. However, in order to be closer to her remaining family, Molly moves back to London a few years after the fall and finds the most beautiful flat she's ever seen up for rent. Too bad it's previous occupant isn't ready to let go.
Her first thought as she walked through the doors was 'It's perfect.' Her second was 'So what's wrong with it?'
The common room of 221B Baker Street was huge with big long windows that let in plenty of light and a fireplace that worked to boot. Of course it could have used a little tender loving care – the wallpaper was a stuffy and out-of-fashion Victorian print with, of all things, a smiley face spray painted on it – but compared to most of the flats she'd looked at today it was practically pristine. She'd need to buy rugs to cover the beautiful wood floors and probably more furniture – this one room was larger than her entire flat combined – but with the rents being so low that was a cost she could afford.
"It's beautiful," she gasped.
"Thought you might like it," Alex, her estate agent, said. He smiled a thin sort of nervous smile at her and gestured behind them. "Kitchen's right there and there's a bedroom with ensuite down the hall."
Molly suppressed a thrilled giggle, but couldn't hide her smile, as she inspected the kitchen. It was huge, so much bigger than her old flat's with a massive full sized fridge and a hob with four burners and an actual washer. She'd never have to go to the Laundromats again! The kitchen table that apparently came with the flat had seen better days – it had scratches and burns and actual gouges in it – but it would do until she could get a new one. She opened the cupboards – she'd never even dreamed of having this much cupboard space before – still looking for what was wrong. Maybe there was mold? Something had to explain the low rents.
She popped her head into the bathroom – fairly standard as bathrooms went, all white tile with black accents though, dear lord, there was a tub! She was going to have an actual tub for actual baths – before going into the bedroom. Just like the rest of the flat, it was massive. She'd be able to fit a queen sized bed in here without issue and that there was enough to make Molly not care about what was wrong with the place. The pipes could go hot and cold and the windows could draft, but none of that would matter. She would be able to get rid of her fold out bed.
The windows in the room were huge, afternoon light spilling in through them with a hazy yellow glow. They didn't have much of a view – just the houses behind, a glimpse of a tiny garden, and the dust bins below – but she could just picture herself in an armchair, Toby on her lap, enjoying the sun with a good book and a glass of wine. Floral curtains were needed, she thought to herself as she continued to gaze out the window, a slight smile on her face. Floral curtains and a fresh coat of paint to spruce things up a bit. There was a big, built in wardrobe against the wall and Alex told her that the small door next to it went to a steep staircase that went to the garden.
"Does my rent include access to the garden?" she asked, frankly astonished that she might be able to claim a bit of green space as her own.
Alex smiled his tight smile at her again. "Being the only tenant at the moment you'll have free reign."
Molly's smile fell and all of her happy plans crashed around her. "What do you mean I'll be the only tenant?" she asked. This apartment was 221B, that meant that at least there had to be a 221A and with the staircase continuing upward there was probably a 221C as well. All this space in central London, a tube station a short jaunt away, so close to Regent's Park, and she was going to be the only one here? Something had to be wrong with the flat, something serious.
"There's nothing wrong," Alex assured her quickly. Fumbling through his briefcase he pulled out a thick folder and handed it to her. "As you can see the building has been recently renovated with a new roof and windows installed. The plumping and electrical have checked out and there has been no evidence of mold, mice, or cockroaches anywhere in the premises."
"Then why are the rents so low?" she asked, looking over the forms. They all appeared to be in order though she'd like to take them to someone who knew about these things better before she signed a lease. Her brother Carl was an electrician, maybe he could help her?
"The owner has been having issues finding reliable renters since she retired to live with her brother in the country," Alex explained. "Due to this she has expressed to our agency that references are more important to her than the rent."
That didn't, it didn't sound right. Not at all. Molly stared down at the paperwork in her hands and frowned. She'd defiantly get Carl to look over these before she decided anything.
Alex sighed deeply at her negative look. "Of course there was the suicide."
Molly's eyes snapped up to meet Alex's guilty ones. "There was a suicide here?"
"Sherlock Holmes," Alex said, stepping closer to her and dropping his voice as if someone might overhear. "It was in all the papers when it happened."
The name did ring a bell. But only vaguely. This was probably a side effect of her working so long in Scotland, she'd lost touch with English news. "I don't really remember hearing about it."
"He styled himself a consulting detective. Pretended that he was a genius for the money and fame." Alex's eyes were darting around the tiny bedroom, nervous, as if he was waiting for something. Ah, poor man, Molly thought to herself. She always forgot how uncomfortable other people could be with death. He probably thought that his story was bothering her. From far away – perhaps from next door? – came the sound of someone playing a melancholy tune on a violin. "When he was found out he threw himself off of the roof of St. Bart's Hospital rather than be taken in by the police. This was his flat."
Alright, so perhaps she was a bit bothered by the tale. Molly had, after all, just obtained a position at Barts and now she was looking at the flat of someone who'd committed suicide there? It was a bit macabre. But then she was going to be working in the morgue. "So he didn't die here?" she asked. She hadn't seen any evidence of blood stains or the removal of them.
"That should be fine then," she said. Smiling again she held up the papers Alex had given her. "I'd like my brother to take a look over these for me before I make a decision if that's alright."
"Of course," Alex said, frowning slightly. "Though we're not quite done with the tour yet. I still haven't shown you the spare room."
Molly's eyes widened. "There's a spare room?"
"You should have seen it, Carl!" Molly gushed as she set the table for dinner. "It has wood floors and a fireplace and the most gorgeous high ceilings and these big bright windows and it's simply humongous!" Turning back to the hob she turned off the burner and started stirring the alfredo sauce into her already drained pasta. "But the rent is hundreds of pounds cheaper than anything else in the area so I know there has to be something wrong with it."
Carl shrugged as he poured the wine. "I'll take another look at the papers you brought me Mols, but it seems like they've been doing good with the upkeep. To be honest, it looks like they've done everything to that place from replacing all the wiring to fumigating it for mold. There shouldn't be anything too wrong with it if there's anything. Maybe the suicide really is keeping people away? When that Sherlock bloke offed himself it was front news for ages."
"He didn't even kill himself there," Molly said bringing the plates to the table and sitting down. "He killed himself at Barts." Popping a bit of chicken in her mouth she chewed thoughtfully. "Bit weird that, living in the flat of someone who killed himself where you're going to work."
"Weird enough not to take it?"
Molly bit the corner of her lip then firmly shook her head. "No. The flat's perfect. It's close to the tube, it's massive, and it's in my price range. I'll never be able to afford anything else that's as close to Barts as it is. I'm going to call Alex right after dinner and tell him I'm taking the flat."
Carl smiled and held up his wine glass to clink against hers. "Congrats Mols! Though I've gotta admit, I'm going to missing having you around. I haven't eaten this good in ages."
"You've got to find yourself a girlfriend then," Molly teased, spearing another bite of pasta. "You can't expect me to take care of you forever after all."
Molly wiped grime from her forehead as she unpacked her last box of dishes. It had taken her most of the day, but the flat was starting to come into something resembling order. Between Carl and the movers she'd hired she'd gotten all of her furniture in and placed just how she wanted it though her modest furnishings were being dwarfed by the sheer size of the rooms. It would all be okay though, the spare room upstairs was filled to the brim with furniture and boxes – the belongings of previous tenants and free game for her use Alex had told her – and she thought she'd spotted a bigger sofa and a couple of nice looking arm chairs in there.
She hadn't even started on getting her bedroom repainted or getting the horrid Victorian wallpaper off the walls of the common room though. That was going to be a project for another weekend, one where Carl could be around longer to help. She was thinking a nice sunny yellow for her bedroom and a nice cream for the common room. Something that would offset the beautiful dark wood of the fireplace and make the room appear cheerful. She'd gotten most of her clothes unpacked and in the wardrobe – she was going to need more clothes to fill it – and had her brand new bed delivered and set up. It was only a double, but this way she was sure to fit an armchair under the bedroom window just like she wanted.
Toby was acting a bit funny though. He was obviously disgusted by all the moving that had been going on for the last few weeks and she honestly couldn't blame him. After all, she wouldn't have enjoyed the long seven hour drive from Edinburgh to London stuck in a little carrier either. She'd never seen him act like this before though. The cat was pacing around the room, occasionally batting at the air as if attacking a piece of invisible string. To be honest it was more cute than anything else, but she was sure to set up Toby's bed and scratching post first thing just in case he wanted to get settled in.
Humming a happy tune Molly fetched out her mobile and rang the Chinese place she'd seen down the street. She'd worked hard enough for one day. Time to settle in, have some dinner, and get to bed.
It was the sound of violin music that woke Molly, the music loud and screechy and tuneless it seemed to have been playing right outside her bedroom door. Maybe that was what was wrong with the flat, Molly thought to herself rolling over in her bed and pulling her duvet closer around her. She didn't even bother opening her eyes. Maybe there was a mad violinist living next door that liked to play at odd hours.
She could deal with that. She'd find out which neighbor it was tomorrow and ask them if they could keep to better hours. If that didn't work there was always earplugs. Really, it was a small price to pay for such a-
"You're not welcome here," a deep male voice said from her bedside.
Molly shrieked, blankets flying everywhere as she scrambled from her bed and landed, hard, on the floor. Eyes wide with fear she looked up to see a tall dark figure looming over the other side of her bed. "Get out!" she shouted. "Get out or I'm calling the police!"
The man glared down at her, his pale skin nearly glowing in the faint street light that was coming in from outside. "This is my flat," he growled at her, taking a menacing step forward. "You are not welcome here. Leave now."
"I-I-" Molly scrambled at her bedside table, hands searching for her phone as she kept her eyes on the tall man. She found it, hands clutching around it tightly. "I'm going to-"
"Leave!" the man shouted at her and suddenly it seemed as if the room was full of birds. Their wings beat at her skin and their beaks scratched her flesh as she screamed loudly and fled from the room. The man watched her go, seemingly uninterested in her now that she was leaving, the invisible birds chasing her from the room.
Molly looked back just once, catching a glimpse of the man – so, so tall and ever so thin – standing framed in her bedroom window. His shoulders were slumped, his head bowed, but he seemed to gather into himself a certain strength that caused him to straighten and press a violin beneath his chin. He began to play an angry yet sorrowful tune and, as she watched – unaided by anything – her bedroom door slammed ominously shut.
Just barely remembering to grab her coat from the peg by the door Molly raced out into the cool streets of London, violin music chasing her out.