A/N: This...I'm not sure what this is. I started writing it a loooooong time ago and have picked it back up these past couple of weekends. I don't really know what to make of it, but I sort of wish it was canon, hahaha. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy it. Let me know what you think!
She is his substitute John. Which is fine. No, really, it is.
He's bored, naturally. And he misses John. He talks at her in the same way he talks at John, and sometimes, she registers the slight surprise in his face when he looks up and notices that it's her, not the ex military doctor to whom he is so accustomed.
He perches himself on her sofa much like a cat - all arms and legs and a steely stare. She has to resist the urge to stroke the top of his head. Sometimes she wonders if he'd purr.
Most of the time, however, she realises what a ridiculously silly notion that is. Sherlock does not like human contact and he most certainly does not purr.
He likes watching the telly. He especially likes all the dreadful daytime talk shows where one poorly bred yobbo has impregnated two equally poorly bred yobbettes. He likes to prove himself by predicting the lie detector results. Molly, who is usually far too sleepy at this time of the morning, frequently starts when an indignant shout of 'You filthy little slut!' explodes from the lounge. He doesn't take kindly to getting things wrong.
He does take kindly to Molly's coffee, however. She knows how he likes it, and she's well practised at getting it just right. His cool eyes slide over to regard her as he takes the first sip, and then, after moment's pause, in which she holds her breath as though she's some sort of talent show contestant waiting to hear of her fate, the corners of his mouth twitch upwards slightly.
"The new filters are better than the old ones."
"Oh. Are they?" She inwardly curses the nerves which are so obvious in her voice. It's one of the rare occasions when he's talking to her. She can't handle that eye contact for too long. But she knows she'll miss it as soon as he looks away.
"You're late for work," he says, returning his attention to the television. She knows it's the most gentle way he has discovered for telling her that he is bored of her, and even though it should hurt, it doesn't. It doesn't hurt because he's considering her feelings. A year ago he would have cast a withering glance in her direction before ignoring her completely. Now, he seems to feel the need to cushion the blow.
She tries to talk sense into herself as she stands crushed up against a door on the Metropolitan line, her hand gripping the bar overhead, muscles tensing as the train brakes harshly and she tries not to fall on top of the old man standing next to her. All of this is second nature to her though, and allows her brain the time it needs to think.
He needed you.
Because he values your intelligence, even if it is nothing compared to his.
There are cleverer people.
There are approximately zero people that would put as much on the line for him as you did. And he knows that.
He likes my coffee.
So quit your job and become his maid.
Too soon she arrives at Moorgate and is spat onto the station platform. She is carried along by the waves of suited commuters, and she looks so out of place in her H&M gear amongst all the designer suits and shoes that cost more than a month's rent, for her, at least.
She breaks off from the crowds at street level. They head towards their skyscrapers, and their days filled with numbers and shouting, while she heads to St Bart's, and her day of corpses and silence. She considers herself to be a very lucky girl indeed.
Every so often she will look up, half expecting to see him perched on a stool, his fingers gently twiddling the wheels on the microscope, his brow furrowed in concentration. But of course, he hasn't been in her morgue for months. He's been cooped up in her flat, and as such, she gets all of her paperwork done on time, all of her experiments are packed up and stored away bang on the end of her shift and she arrives home at a reasonable hour.
She's always had a knack for being where he is.
Her life has switched dramatically. Before, she only ever used to go home to sleep, and even then, she'd receive texts from him in the early hours, requesting access to the morgue. And she would always go of course. Now however, she spends her evenings at home, watching the TV with him, sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest in the squashy armchair closest to the bookshelf. Her armchair, actually. The sofa has had very little use since she bought it, and so she finds it difficult to make herself comfortable. Sherlock is easily irritated by her fidgeting, but doesn't seem inclined to give her back her armchair in order to prevent it.
They eat fast food mostly. Molly can't cook to save her life. The few times she's tried have ended in a telephone call to the local Chinese, and the smell of dim sum soon replaces that of charred meat. Sherlock, on the other hand, is a fantastic cook. Unfortunately, he refuses to make it into a regular thing. There are rare days when Molly's phone will bleep, and she will take a look at the message and see a shopping list of ingredients for her to collect on her way home.
It always makes her smile. And she knows, deep down, that it's because she can almost kid herself that they're something. Other than a dead man and an enabler of course.
He treats cooking like he treats his experiments. It is full of wild gestures and razor sharp concentration. And he always, always, always, leaves a mess behind.
One night they are sitting at Molly's turquoise painted wooden table, an e-Bay job that she likes to think is shabby chic; that it serves as a pleasant accent amongst the softer colours in her flat. He pours wine for her, and she has to remind herself that the only reason he is being a gentleman is because that's the kind of stuff he learned at Eton. Nothing more. The food is delicious, as always, and they eat in silence. It's not one of those awkward silences that used to cut through the morgue either. It's a comfortable silence that she doesn't feel the need to fill with inane chatter about her day, and he, especially, does not feel the need to be polite and ask her.
Not that he's ever been polite to her.
And then, just when she was having a lovely time, just when she was getting used to the side of his foot resting against hers underneath her silly little table, there is a knock at the door. She feels the tendons in his foot tense, and they both stop chewing. Their eyes meet, and they don't make a sound.
There is another knock at the door. Three short raps. It sounds official. And it doesn't sound as though they're going to go away. What if someone's seen Sherlock? What if they've had a tip off?
What if it's an assassin?
Her panic must be obvious, because Sherlock fixes her with sharp gaze, his hand closing momentarily around her forearm before he gets to his feet.
She can read him quite easily these days, and that hand said two words.
He creeps over to the door, his socks muffling the sounds of his steps on the laminate flooring. He casts one look back towards Molly, before bending low and pressing his ear to the door. For a moment, Molly had thought he might be stupid enough to look through the spy-hole, but thankfully, he's considered the prospect of getting shot in the eye and didn't much fancy it.
When the visitor knocks a third time, the pair of them flinch. Molly shields her mouth with her hands, sure that whoever is stood outside her door can hear her breathing.
"Molly? Are you in there?"
Sherlock's jaw becomes rigid, and Molly lowers her hands. He moves to the left of the door, flattens himself against the wall and gives Molly a nod. She gets to her feet and pads over to the door. She takes a deep breath, her hand hovering an inch away from the latch, and then she bites the bullet, pulling open the door just six inches.
John is standing before her, his leather jacket looking more battered than she remembers. There are dark circles under his eyes, and, in his left hand, which is trembling slightly, there is a bottle of wine.
"I needed some company," he says softly. "Wondered if you did too."
"Oh," she says softly. She cannot think of anything else to say. She's a decent enough liar when given time to prepare, time to fix a story, but on the spot, she is useless.
Sherlock must realise this because his finger comes to rest on the back of her hand, which is still clutching the latch on the door. He traces a definitive tick on her skin, and she feels him disappear. She gives him a few seconds, because while he's good, he's not so good that he can vanish into thin air.
"If you're busy -" John begins.
"No!" Molly says quickly. "No, not busy, not busy at all." She steps back, opening the door further so he can come in. She scans the flat, looking for anything distinctly Sherlock.
He's really very good though. He's even managed to clear away one plate, one wine glass, and the bottle as well. If John thinks she's getting through a bottle a night on her own, he's bound to come round more often. He's very decent like that. But his decency, at the present time, is an inconvenience.
John regains some points however when he takes a seat on the sofa, and not in her armchair. While Molly collects a couple of fresh wine glasses for the two of them, he opens the bottle and sets it on the coffee table.
"How are you?" she asks, passing him a glass and sitting down in her armchair. She fidgets a little, and frowns. Sherlock's spent so much time in this chair that it's no longer hers. He's stolen it from her, and now she's sitting much lower down in it, the springs not used to supporting her very slight frame instead of his.
"I'm..." John begins, but he can't find the words. He swallows, stares at the rug beneath the coffee table, then shakes his head. Molly pours a generous helping of wine into his glass, and then fills her own glass halfway. She's not sure that getting drunk is going to be the best idea. She can just imagine the slurred words: 'hey John, you'll never guess who's been staying with me for the past couple of months!'.
She shudders, and John looks at her, his brow contorted into a small frown.
"Bit chilly, don't you think?" she says, forcing a smile at him.
John shakes his head. "No, no I'm fine."
"I'll go and get a cardi then," Molly says, "won't be a minute." She gets up and moves over to her bedroom door, her hand twisting the knob slowly, just so Sherlock knows to get out of sight of the doorway. He's probably got his ear pressed up against the keyhole, listening to every word.
She steps into the room fully and closes the door behind her before she switches on the light. She almost screams when she sees him standing inches away from her, towering above and making her feel oh so small. He's holding her favourite chunky knit cardigan - the cream one with the maroon speckles and big buttons.
"Get him drunk and put him in a cab home," Sherlock murmurs. "Don't keep him here long...Jerry Springer's on in an hour." He steps behind her, cardigan held open, and she slides her arms into the sleeves.
"Sherlock he's...I can't handle him when he's so..."
"Which is why you need to get him drunk. Don't worry, the wine will go to his head within twenty minutes. Let him finish the bottle. Don't let him kiss you."
Molly splutters. "Why would he do that?"
"Because he's a man and he's drunk. And desperate."
Her jaw drops a little in indignation. "Thanks."
"Well it's true," Sherlock whispers cuttingly. "He's only human."
Molly ignores him and steps towards the door. She's sure John would hear if she slapped Sherlock, so she decides to save it for later. She doesn't feel bad, leaving Sherlock in the dark, and as she steps out into the lounge once more, she happily remembers that she has a couple of bottles of wine stashed in a cupboard, left over from Christmas. Sherlock will just have to give Jerry Springer a miss tonight.
"It's just everything..." John mumbles, his wine glass pressed against his lower lip. "Everything, you know?"
Molly doesn't know, but she nods her head in an understanding way.
"I mean this," John says, leaning forwards and nearly falling off of the sofa. "This is what I'm talking about." He puts down his wine glass and picks up the pile of coasters near Molly's glass. "He used to stack them like this. And it was always so precise. It was almost an art. And he'd do it without even thinking, and get each one perfect, lay it at exactly the right angle, right to the last degree."
Molly sighs. She too has noticed Sherlock's habit of making sculptures out of coasters, laying them on top of one another in such a way that they never just look like a pile of coasters. It's the reason she hasn't used them since he started living with her. She can't bear to mess it up. It'd feel like sacrilege.
She picks up her wine glass and gulps down a few mouthfuls. He's in the next room, she knows that, but John's grief is making her feel like she won't ever see Sherlock again. Her heart feels as though it's been locked in a cold fist.
"How are you coping?" John asks at last.
"I'm fine," she says softly. "I mean...I will be."
John fixes her with a stare and she feels as though she's being x-rayed.
"Can I use your loo?"
"The loo. Can I use it?"
"Of course," Molly says, slightly dazed, and gestures over to the far corner. "It's that door over there."
"Thanks," he says, and he stands, unsteadily, having to grip the arm of the sofa to balance himself, before he clumsily staggers over to the bathroom. As soon as that door closes, another one opens, and Sherlock's head appears in the doorway.
Molly gives him as much of a death glare as she can muster and makes a shooing motion with her hands. He disappears into the dark again, and Molly looks at the clock. She smiles. Jerry Springer is about to start on the +1 channel. He's still hoping to catch it. She shakes her head, and soon after, John reappears, looking pale.
"I think I'd better head off," he croaks. "Drinking on an empty stomach, not the brightest idea I've had..."
"D'you want something to eat?" Molly offers. "Some toast? Or something bigger if you feel up to it?"
John shakes his head, his eyes closed, hand resting over his stomach.
"Let's go find you a cab, shall we?"
"Well Jerry, I'm here to tell my husband that I've been sleeping with his brother for three months now."
"Oh gee...three months?"
"And your husband doesn't know? No suspicions at all?"
"No Jerry, he doesn't know a thing."
"Well he does now, he's been listening backstage, let's bring out Coleman!"
"Why do they have surnames as first names?" Sherlock asks, his eyes fixed on the couple on the television screaming and shouting at each other. Molly watches him, but doesn't say a word. She doesn't know the answer any better than he does. Unless he's doing that really irritating thing of asking a question purely so he can answer it after he sees that everybody's stumped.
"But there's something else you have to tell him, isn't that right Tanitia?"
"That's right Jerry..."
"What? What else is there?"
The audience crows with delight. Hands clap, heads shake, eyes are bright from laughing at other people's problems.
"And you ain't the daddy."
Coleman swings for his brother, and security step in.
"I hate it when they do that."
"Break up a good fight just before it gets going." Sherlock taps the arm of the chair, his brow set in a sulky frown. Molly, who has opened another bottle of wine (because she's living on the edge tonight) takes a sip from her glass, puts it back on the floor and resumes her position on the sofa, sprawled out and half covered with a throw. Sherlock spares her the most fleeting of glances, then returns his attention to the television.
"When were you going to tell me he tried to kiss you?"
Molly freezes. How can he know? How can he possibly tell?
"What makes you think he did?"
"I don't know, the fact that you're barely speaking to me, you've gotten through half a bottle of wine in the last forty minutes, and when you came back in you were re-plaiting your hair."
"It was windy outside..."
"I saw you."
"Did you kiss him back?"
"Why does that matter to you?"
"John treats women atrociously. He doesn't mean to. He just...does."
"I wouldn't want to see you get hurt."
Molly laughs loudly at this, and Sherlock turns to look at her.
"Nothing," Molly says, picking up her wine glass and taking another sip. "Nothing at all." His audacity never ceases to amaze her. She's sure she'll still be laughing tomorrow, and Sherlock being Sherlock, he won't understand.
When she realises that he's still watching her, despite the fact that Coleman's brother currently has his tongue down Tanitia's throat while Coleman struggles with security, she sighs.
"He'd just thrown up. Of course I didn't kiss him back."
"Good," says Sherlock. "That's...good."
Molly doesn't bother responding. She's far too relaxed to be worrying about Sherlock's strange ways. And so, it is with slightly glazed eyes that she watches Jerry's final thought, her eyelids feeling heavy as she struggles to stay awake.
"During the course of a lifetime, few manage to escape being wronged by someone close to them. There's no way to predict that the person you're with is going to hurt you. Even the seemingly nicest people occasionally act badly. It's almost impossible to protect yourself against possible pain if you're willing to love. So no matter how badly it hurts at the time, it will hurt a whole lot less than a life lived alone and without love. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other."
Jerry's image disappears with a flicker, and the screen is black. Sherlock tosses the remote onto the coffee table where it clatters loudly.
"Mmm..." Molly says softly. She's losing the battle against sleep. though she's not fighting particularly hard. She is faintly aware that she'll have a stiff neck in the morning if she doesn't get up and go to bed, but she's so warm right now, so cosy, and Sherlock's presence is so comforting when her belly is filled with good food and good wine.
"Bed time I think. Don't you?"
When she wakes, she is still wearing her clothes from the night before. She's warmer than she'd really like to be, and so she twists her way out of her cardigan and flings it onto the floor. The soft rustle of her feather duvet is the only sound, and she wants to stay in bed forever, but she needs to get up and make Sherlock a coffee.
She rolls over with a groan and hits something solid.
"Molly, I'd rather you didn't throw yourself at me."
She should feel mortified. But she's too tired to care.
"You can always sleep on the sofa."
"Don't be absurd."
Molly smiles into her pillow, and before she can stop herself, the words just slip out.
"I like you better now you're dead."
She doesn't need to open her eyes to know that he's smirking.