Based off a prompt from Nocturnias about Molly getting telepathy and seeing how Sherlock feels about her. Didn't fulfill it precisely, went off on my own a bit. Oh well :)
One minute Molly was standing in the lab, cringing as a medical student carelessly bumped a heavy supply shelf, and the next she was lying on the floor, stunned and bleeding from the forehead.
"Oooof," she muttered, holding her hand to the seeping cut. Her training kicked in and she grabbed a sterile bandage from the container in the drawer. A gaggle of students fussed over her, most of them panicking over the possibility that they'd seriously injured one of the hospital staff.
The short brunette with glasses, whose name escaped Molly, gnawed at her fingernails, worried that she had blown her chance at the ideal Barts placement after graduation.
Molly waved off the students' concerns with a limp wave. "It's fine, I'm fine. Don't even need stitches. Be careful. And Merideth-" That was the brunette's name, Molly recalled with satisfaction. "Merideth, I don't know who will get a placement here, but I do know they've already decided. The board doesn't tell me anything. So this doesn't matter, really. I wouldn't tell anyway." Molly laughed awkwardly, trying to soothe the agitated student.
Molly cleaned herself up and returned to work once the students departed. It wasn't until later, when she was refilling the first aid kit, that she realized Merideth had never actually said anything out loud.
Sherlock burst into the morgue that afternoon with his customary disregard for whatever she had been working on when he arrived. His usually pale cheeks were flush with the excitement of his new case, and Dr. Watson had to almost run to keep up with his hurried pace into the room.
Looking divine as always, Molly thought begrudgingly, and without a care in the world. And here I am with a plaster on my forehead and my hair ruined for the day.
"You alright, Molly?" John asked, his forehead creased with concern.
"Of course she is. The Levane post-mortem." Sherlock smiled winningly. "I need the toxicology report and could you wheel out the body from the second crime scene, thanks." He stripped off his leather gloves, and stuffed them into his pockets.
"Oh, right…yes, I've got the report back. I bumped my head- well no, the shelf bumped my head, I should say. Attack of the clumsy med student," Molly replied. "Good thing she's not going into plastic surgery!"
Sherlock grimaced. "Don't make jokes, Molly. The post-mortem." He looked expectantly at the folder in her hands.
Molly handed the folder over, contemplating abandoning the morgue to go find some paracetamol while the men made themselves at home. As she reached across the counter toward Sherlock, he leaned in to accept the papers and his fingertips brushed over the back of her hand.
A zing of electricity raced up Molly's arm and flowed through her brain.
"Oh, that's odd," she said softly, and fell into Sherlock's mind.
It was warm. That was the first thing that struck her. Not the bizarre notion that she was inside someone else, seeing and feeling their thoughts, but that the habitat of Sherlock's mind was so very warm and alive.
Molly spun around, taking in the setting. She didn't understand why it was happening, but she knew without question what was happening. The landscape was hazy at first before Molly instinctively took control and concentrated. The shapes solidified and then she was standing in a forest, her bare toes squeezing the springy grass under her feet.
"Where am I," she asked, wondering if her real mouth was moving.
"In my mind palace, stupid," came the exasperated reply.
The voice belonged to a child.
"I'm not stupid," Molly protested, turning around to identify the source of the voice. "Who-" And she stopped.
Who was obvious. She had spent countless hours studying his profile, pondering the patrician strength of his nose, the Cupid's bow lips and his crystalline eyes. She would know them anywhere, even in the form of a boy no more than nine years old.
He shook his head impatiently, and his messy mop of dark curls rustled in the breeze. "Then don't ask stupid questions. That's what Daddy says." He paused, looking up. Uncertainty tinged his youthful voice. "Do you like it here?"
"It's beautiful," Molly answered truthfully.
The trees spiraled upward in twists and turns she'd never seen in nature, stretching toward the canopy where beams of light poured through the holes. Broad leaves sprouted from every branch, and when Molly studied them, words appeared on the waxy surfaces. In tiny print, across every centimeter of growth, were words and diagrams, geometric designs and maps that came into focus easily when she turned to them.
Each tree was its own area of knowledge, and where the branches reached out and intertwined with the branches of other trees, she understood that they were linked, overlapping studies. The forest sprawled far beyond her comprehension. The connections were intuitive and flowed with an elegance that left a lump in her throat.
"If I had a mind palace like this, I'd never want to leave either," she confessed, smiling at the boy.
"Sometimes I stay too long," he admitted. "And people get mad. You don't get mad though. And you smell nice." He stepped close to Molly and beamed at her, his face soft and lit up in a way she'd never seen.
"I get mad…about things. I wish you were nicer sometimes, Sherlock, but no, I wouldn't blame you for wanting to stay here at all." Molly laughed, and she sensed it wasn't really out loud. She extended her hand to the boy. "Show me."
He hesitated, and scanned the forest. "You're too nice. You'll get lost inside. I can't let that happen."
"Not if you lead the way. I trust you." She squeezed his hand, and after a handful of heartbeats, he squeezed back.
"Don't let go. I need you to be safe," the boy said, and then yanked her arm exuberantly, dragging her through the trees. He zigzagged between the trunks and Molly kept up, marveling at the tropical flowers and the words streaming between leaves. The colors were overwhelmingly bright, and finally, she let go of Sherlock's hand and dropped to the ground.
"Enough! Let me see, I don't know how long this dream will last." She hugged her knees and the boy dropped to the grass beside her. He produced a magnifying glass from the ether and studied her feet.
"What are you doing?" Molly giggled, and wiggled her toes.
"Looking. I like looking at you. I know you. You walk differently when it rains. I see now though. Your big toe was broken when you were younger. Gymnastics?"
"The balance beam! I thought I could be Shannon Miller, but turns out my balance is terrible." Molly laid back in the grass, basking in the warmth and impossible softness of the forest. She closed her dream-eyes and sighed. She felt the spell of the inner world slipping away from her, and the distant call of reality.
Sherlock continued his study, moving the glass up her legs, and poking her knees with a long finger. She laughed in response, and when she opened her eyes, saw that the man she knew, dressed in his usual suit, had replaced the curious boy. The glass was still in his hand, and he examined the fabric of her dress (the one she'd worn four years ago on Christmas, she realized), lingering on the rhinestones.
"Hi," she said inanely. He was a man now, and the soft innocence of his young self had been carved into cynicism.
But the boy is still there, she reminded herself. She held still, and the magnifying glass roamed over her torso, hovering over her heart.
"I can't see anything there," he said, sounding more baffled than she'd ever heard him be. "I hear the sounds and I see your tears and I can't put it all together. If I think about it too much, I can't think of anything else."
"I know," Molly said, and a flash of sorrow pulled at her. She took the glass from his fingers and tossed it into the trees. It vanished into nothingness. She tugged Sherlock down to lie beside her in the grass, and slipped her hand into his.
Their faces turned toward each other, and she squeezed his hand. He didn't return her smile, but puzzled over her instead.
"I'm sorry I invaded your palace," Molly said. "I don't understand why this all happened. I know I'm not supposed to be here."
"Don't be ridiculous," Sherlock responded, in the snappish tone she knew so well. "You were always here."
"Molly, wake up." Sherlock's icy voice rang with annoyance. "If you don't say something, I'm leaving and I'm taking the Levane report with me."
Molly jumped, and realized she was staring at Sherlock, with a perplexed John visible over his shoulder. Sherlock held the post-mortem results in his hand and she saw he'd stuffed his other hand into his pocket. His face was cool and she saw nothing that indicated he was aware of her roaming through his mind.
"I…I'm sorry, I don't…my head, I bumped it earlier."
"Molly, do you want me to take a look? You may have a concussion. It's no trouble at all. Have a seat, and I'll-"
"No, no thank you, John. I'll be alright. I'm tired."
Sherlock's left eyebrow rose and she saw his deductive mind working overtime.
"I need to have a sleep. These students have been draining. Fun, but I'll be glad when they're off and settled."
"Fine. This case will be settled by tomorrow. I'll be starting a new postmortem lividity experiment this week that requires a fresh hand. Have that ready for me."
John poked him in the back, and Sherlock frowned. "Please," he added.
"Fine. I'm going to head home, actually. Definitely need more sleep. I'm going to be having some weird dreams tonight, I suspect."
"Backwards-talking dwarves in red rooms?" John asked with a grin.
Molly laughed. "No, not a big Twin Peaks fan. I'll be dreaming of words…words on leaves, I think," she said thoughtfully, watching Sherlock's face.
His expression was stony, but his jaw jutted and his eyes narrowed a fraction. But beyond that, nothing.
Molly tidied up the morgue and passed instructions onto the pathologist relieving her. On the way out, she heard the two men conversing when they thought they were out of earshot.
"Dwarves in red rooms…?
"It'a a murder mystery program, Sherlock, even you would like it. Well, maybe." John paused. "Molly's an odd one, isn't she. Words on leaves, dunno what that was about. Strange."
"Yes," Sherlock replied. She may have been imagining it, but there was a note of uncertainty that was alien to her. "It was very strange indeed."