Disclaimer: Own? What is this ownership, you speak of? Sadly, I've still got nada. Zip. Zilch. I weep bitterly and alone. Meh, I'll get over it.
Summary: He leaves in the dead of the night when he thinks she's asleep. She's not.
Warnings: Swearing. Angst.
A/N: Starting to get back into the swing of things…ish. I'm still hitting some writer's block and still trying to maneuver my way around it by continuing to write. Eh…excuse the shitty little story that you're about to read but this song just wouldn't leave me alone and Molly was feeling neglected, so thus this little rascal of a story was written. Anyways, hope you all enjoy. Reviews are very much appreciated because you all make me feel so very very special and words cannot describe how much I adore and love all of you. As always, any and all mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Shadow of your heart
The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out
You left me in the dark
No dawn, no day, I'm always in this twilight
In the shadow of your heart
Cosmic Love – Florence and the Machine
He lies on her couch, body curled in the fetal position (even though she tells him softly to lie on his back, as to not agitate his wounds, he doesn't listen to her) with his back facing her.
She doesn't move from her spot on the chair. She grips her cup of tea and allows the hot liquid to burn her hands through the ceramic mug and watches the fall and rise of his body. She ignores the trembling of her hands and the cramping of her legs as they sit under her body and she ignores the burning in her eyes, she just watches as he silently and internally struggles.
She places her mug on the table and uncurls herself, ignoring the pins and needles that shoot through her legs. She moves to sit on the table and leans forward, until her elbows are on her knees. (She doesn't touch him, no matter how much she wants to, no matter how much she thinks he needs it, she doesn't, because Molly understands personal space and most of all, she understands, she knows, Sherlock Holmes and she knows that unless he asks for it, unless he initiates it, he doesn't like to be touched.) "Sherlock?" She calls out, her voice, even though quiet, still feels loud in her flat as it echoes off the walls (his name reverberates and it reminds her that he's supposed to be dead. It reminds her that for all intents and purposes, Sherlock Holmes doesn't exist anymore and God, that makes her heart clench and her stomach churn and she damns Moriarty to the deepest pit of hell) "Sherlock?" She tries again. "I…I…" she stutters and takes a deep breath. "I'm here, okay? If you ever…whenever you need me…I'm here."
I'm always here. You can always have me, is what she doesn't say.
(She doesn't think she needs to. She said it once and although Sherlock Holmes is supposed to be dead, he's not. And the Sherlock Holmes she knows, remembers everything.)
He leaves in the dead of the night when he thinks she's sleeping.
She hears the couch creak, heralding his movements. She hears the floorboards squeak in protest from the weight on them. She hears the rustling of clothes, movement slower and less elegant than normal. She hears the groaning of the window as he lifts it open and then shuts it with more force than necessary and she hears rattles as he climbs out and down, away from her flat. Away from the life he used to know. Away from her.
She's lying on her back; head tilted and eyes glued to the ceiling. She counts the breaths she takes and by the time she's reached twenty-five, her breaths become deeper, more pronounced and there is a familiar tightening in her chest that she secretly abhors. Her eyes sting and she keeps telling herself it's from lack of sleep and residual adrenaline and for the lives that will be torn apart for the foreseeable future.
(She tells herself a lot of things, if only to keep from reminding herself that he didn't say goodbye to her. He said she counted and if she did count than the least she can have is one last goodbye.)
Except, Sherlock Holmes doesn't even give her that.
He leaves in the dead of the night when he thinks she's asleep.
(Her eyes burn as she turns on her side and muffles her sobs in her pillow.)
Mary Morstan has been Molly's best friend since Uni. The two met in the library while studying. They shared a flat together throughout their years of schooling and working, until Mary moved to Manchester.
Where Mary is outgoing and fun, Molly is more reserved and shy. They are at two ends of the spectrum and wouldn't have it any other way. They balance each other out, they always have and according to Mary, they always will.
This is why, it doesn't surprise Molly, when the day after Sherlock leaves in the dead of the night, she wakes up to someone unlocking and locking her flat and making their way to her room. It doesn't surprise her when she hears her bedroom door open wider and it doesn't surprise when the scent of Mary's floral perfume assaults her senses as she crawls underneath the covers with her.
Mary's pale and thin hands are in her hair, smoothing out the knots as she kisses her temple and wraps her arms around Molly's body. "Oh, Molly. I'm so sorry."
(Molly bites her lip to keep from telling Mary the truth. Instead, she just swallows her sobs and allows Mary to console her broken heart.)
Sometimes, when the morgue and lab become too much and when the stares and whispers of doctors and nurses become too overwhelming, she goes up to the roof and stands on the ledge, in the exact same spot Sherlock jumped from.
She likes to think it brings her one step closer to him. To knowing and sharing something that only he, she and Mycroft know of.
(Most of the times though, she wonders what he was thinking, if he was thinking anything at all, when he fell.)
Five months after Sherlock dies, Mary suggests they go to a pub. Molly suggests they invite John.
It takes convincing, partly from Molly, mostly from Mrs. Hudson, but John joins them at Hart's Pub.
When Mary says something funny and outlandish, John snorts out a laugh.
(Molly's heart swells at the shimmer of light and slight smile that graces his lips as he stares at her best friend.)
Feigning an emergency at work, Molly leaves them at the pub and makes her way home, alone.
It's only when she's closed the door to her flat, she realizes she's not as alone as she thinks she is.
Sherlock is sitting on the couch, body hunched forward, her laptop open in front of him, papers sprawled around him, hands steepled underneath his chin, elbows resting on his knees and clear blue eyes staring unblinkingly ahead.
Molly's breath hitches and her heart tightens and she feels as if she can't breathe. The sight of him on her couch, alive and breathing, is too much. It's too much. (He's always been too much for her.) So, she moves quickly and swiftly to her kitchen, where she puts on the kettle and waits for the water to boil, while wiping away stray tears that traitorously make their way down her cheeks.
When she's done making her tea, she makes her way into the living room. He's unsurprisingly still in the same position she left him in and she settles onto the chair and watches the way his body rises and falls with every breath he takes.
She doesn't say anything, partly because she knows he won't answer but mostly because she takes this time to memorize him. To commit to memory, the shape of his face, the color of his eyes, the curve of his cheekbones; she greedily takes in the contours of his body (he's thinner than she last remembers) as he gets lost in his own mind.
(She catalogues every bruise and cut that she can visibly see and idly wonders what other battle scars he hides from her.)
She falls asleep on the chair, eyes closing against her will and body succumbing to exhaustion.
(The last thing she sees is Sherlock, eyes blinking as he pulls out from his mind and she slips into sweet blissful oblivion.)
When she wakes up, she's alone.
Her laptop is closed. His papers are gone.
Her tea has gone cold.
And she is covered with a blanket.
She blinks when she realizes that he never said goodbye to her.
(She begins to second-guess her worth and begins to doubt that she ever truly counted in the first place.)
He comes to her flat sometimes.
Not all the time. Not often but sometimes.
She wants to turn him away, but finds that she can't.
Partly because he's always in her flat by the time she gets home. But mostly because he looks more tired and exhausted and haunted every time she sees him.
(He's never there in the morning. He never says goodbye either. Molly's learned to deal with the heartbreak. It's her constant companion.)
"Is it weird?" Mary asks her one-day over coffee. "That we're dating?"
"Not at all." Molly answers with a smile. "I'm really happy for you Mary. John is a great guy."
Mary smiles and Molly is taken aback at how bright it is. How happy she is. "He is, isn't he? God. It's about time I found a nice bloke. Do you remember Blain?"
"Oh God. I'd almost forgotten about him. What about that other one, the one that kept the gum you threw out?" Molly shudders at the memory.
Mary cackles and they ignore the glares from the other patrons. "Marvin! He was…he was a different one, but God, the things he could do in bed."
Molly nearly falls off her chair laughing as they recount long lost but never forgotten memories.
"We need to find you a good man, Molly." Mary states softly, as she reaches out and places a hand atop of hers.
Molly nods as if she agrees. And even though part of her does, a larger part tells her that no matter what, the only person who will ever truly have a hold of her heart is a supposed dead and disgraced Consulting Detective who will never return the sentiment and will never have the decency to let her go.
(Even if he does, Molly thinks she'd probably still hold on tightly.)
It almost becomes a routine with them; she comes home, often to find her flat in a state of disarray with Sherlock Holmes in the middle of it and she bypasses it, as if it's completely normal to sometimes harbor someone who is supposed to be a dead while he works to kill his way through Moriarty's criminal network (the funny thing is, although it's not so funny as it is true, that it has become normal to her) and goes into the kitchen to put on tea.
When he's in his mind palace, she sits on the chair and catalogues his new bruises and cuts. When he's not, she takes her tea into her room and stays there (this way, she won't be tempted to start up a conversation and he won't be tempted to completely disregard the fact that she is, indeed, a human being with feelings that he's either unaware of or doesn't bother acknowledging. She likes to think it's a little bit of both.)
It always ends the same. He leaves and doesn't say goodbye.
Two and a half years later, everything changes.
What starts off as a wonderful day ("Molly," Mary says excitedly through phone, "oh God, Molly, we're getting married. And it's going to be soon. Like six months soon. Think you can help me plan a wedding in six months? Oh, by the way, not that it has to be said, but you're my maid-of-honor, so you know, it's your duty to help plan the wedding. I love you.") ends up in a horrific three car pile up. Half the dead bodies end up in her morgue and it's through the fourth and final body (this one of a six year old boy with blonde hair and what she thinks would be warm chocolate eyes) that she loses it and falls apart.
Doctor Saunier, the other pathologist, tells her softly to go home and take tomorrow off.
She does what he says; body shaking as she takes off her gloves, washes up and leaves.
(It doesn't matter how hard she scrubs, how much lemon she bathes in, the scent of death and blood follow her around everywhere.)
She bypasses the Tube and takes a cab home, paying the cabbie with a tired smile as she makes her way up the stairs and into her flat. She's ignoring calls from Mary and John and Mrs. Hudson and Greg (who undoubtedly is complaining because she's ignoring phone calls and in return they're all being directed towards him) and she resolves not to let herself feel bad about it when she stops dead in her living room.
Sherlock is there (of course he is) but there is no laptop in front of him, no papers strewn about.
She heads to the kitchen, throwing her bag onto the chair and puts on the kettle. She's gripping the counter, knuckles turning white and trying to get the image of the little blonde haired boy with what should have been warm chocolate eyes out of her mind, when she feels his in the entry way of the kitchen. She turns her head and sighs. "John is getting married. Her name is Mary and she's my best friend from Uni. Though, I suppose you've already deduced that, haven't you?"
She can see him frown from her peripheral vision and there is a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that tells her to shut the fuck up. But she can't, because this, this has been more than two and a half years in the making, this has been eight years in the making. Eight years of wishing and hoping for something that will never come true. Eight years of failed dates and relationships and eight years of making excuses for him and for forgiving him when she really shouldn't.
"I've done something wrong." He states, his voice deep as it echoes throughout her flat.
She snorts out a harsh and bitter laugh, wincing at the sound, as it reaches her ears. She is absolutely floored that this is the first time she's heard him speak in two and a half years. In all the times he's come by her flat, he's never spoken and she's never tried initiating conversation, instead just allowing himself some semblance of control as he files and deletes information in his mind. Her heart flutters at the sound of his voice and she curses the day Sherlock Holmes came into her life. "You always do something. You…you always do everything. It's who…it's who you are."
Five letters. Two syllables. Dozens of people say her name every single day but hearing her name come out of Sherlock's mouth does something to her. Her heart soars, her pulse quickens and then she remembers that he's dead and she's miserable and everything comes crashing down on her. "Why do you never say goodbye?" She blurts out. Her hand clamps down on her mouth, horrified at the question and the way her voice sounds so weak, so broken. God, she never realized how tired she actually is.
"What?" It's the most ineloquent thing to ever come out of his mouth and somehow it makes him seem so human.
"You told me I counted. I helped kill you. I've…you've…this flat, you're welcome to it, of course you are…I just…you told me I counted."
"You do count." He sounds almost confused and agitated to even be having this conversation and her heart sinks low in her stomach.
"But I don't. Not really. You never…say goodbye and…and it may seem like a stupid thing, God, it probably is a stupid thing…but it's my thing. I don't want a thank-you, I've never wanted a thank-you…I'll always help you, I just…" she's getting frustrated as she runs a hand through her hair. Why is it that she can never form proper words around him? Why is it that she turns into a bumbling mess every time his blue eyes sear into her very soul? Because I'm in love with him. And it hurts. "Never mind." She says quickly when she sees him open his mouth. God, she couldn't take it if he were to start off on a tirade of God only knows what. Not today. "It's…it's nothing. Just me. Just silly little Molly." She's mortified at the tears that spill down her cheeks and she can see that he's equally as mortified, unused to having a weeping female in his presence. His face morphs into something unreadable as he watches in rapt fascination as she falls apart in front of him.
She pushes past him and goes into the bathroom where she locks the door shut and proceeds to drown herself under water hot enough to scald her skin.
When she comes out of the bathroom, he's not there. It isn't until she slips on her pajamas that she picks up the phone and calls Mary.
Mary answers on the first ring. "Why the fuck have you not been answering my phone calls? I've been worried sick. Molly? Molly? Are you there? Are you listening to me?"
"Mary." Molly croaks, tears burning her eyes as she sucks in a deep breath. This time feels different. This time, when she realized that he left, it feels permanent and there is a horrible distorting feeling in the very depth of her bones that tells her she won't see him again for a while and God, all she wants to do is cry and curse and rail at the world for being so unfair.
"Molly, what's wrong?" The worry in Mary's voice is evident.
"He's gone." Molly says, her body starts trembling as she lets out a choked sob. "Oh God, he's really gone. It hurts. I didn't…I didn't…"
"I'm coming." Mary announces. "Molly, I'm slipping on my shoes right now and God, I'm not even going to change, all of London can see me in my little nightgown for all I care, but I'll be at yours in fifteen minutes, okay? Stay on the phone with me."
(Mary is there in twelve minutes and without even saying anything, she sits next to Molly and holds her.)
"You never truly got to mourn him, did you?" Mary murmurs against her hair.
"He never allowed me to." Molly admits.
Six months after her disastrous meltdown and one week before Mary and John's wedding, Mary comes storming into the morgue, while Molly is elbow deep into Eleanor Jones' cadaver.
"Oh, Christ." Mary chokes back a gag. "That's a dead body. That's a dead open body. Your hands are in her body." She looks a little green and her face changes drastically. "I'll just…I'll be outside breathing in…well…not that."
An hour later, Molly is finished and wiping down the slab when Mary peers her head in cautiously. "No dead body?"
Molly smiles lightly and shakes her head. "No dead body. What's wrong?"
Mary sighs and walks into the morgue, her hands fisted into her jean pockets. "You love me right? You trust me right?"
"Of course I do, what's this about?"
"So," she says carefully, "explain to me, why a supposedly dead Consulting Detective is sitting on my living room couch right now, nursing a black eye."
Her breath gets caught in her lungs and Molly suddenly has difficulty breathing.
He never even told her he was coming back.
(She always knew she didn't count. At least not really and this just confirms it.)
"I made him a promise." She tells Mary softly, "and I always keep my promises to my friends."
Mary looks at her oddly, "friend. Right. That's what we'll call him."
(Friend. That's all she'll ever call him. If he'll even let her call him that.)
It's the day of the wedding and Molly has successfully avoided Sherlock all week. It hasn't been easy and she's taken to hiding in the ladies loo sometimes, but she's managed it.
It's not like she doesn't want to see him. She does. She really does, but she finds that she can't because looking at Sherlock Holmes hurts her too much and Molly Hooper is tired of being hurt.
So, she successfully ignores him, much to the delight and glee of Doctor Saunier who tells him to piss off and get the bloody hell out of the morgue with much more enthusiasm than a sixty-year old man should have.
Except, she can't exactly avoid him anymore, can she? Not with him being the best man to her maid-of-honor. (She would have preferred Greg. Why did he have to be noble and step down as best man when Sherlock resurfaced? Why?)
She's done her duties as maid-of-honor. She's smiled more than most, she's laughed at the right occasions. She made a speech without stammering (well, that's a lie, she did stammer a little bit) and said speech brought Mary to tears, she danced with Sherlock once (she turned her face towards the audience and ignored the way his hands tightened around her waist), she made sure any and all altercations were taken outside.
She's done her duties to ensure that this wedding was the best it could possibly be and now, all she wants to do is go home, curl up in her bed and sleep.
So, she does. She hails a cab as soon as Mary and John leave and sinks into the backseat, eager to get home and try and erase the feeling of Sherlock's hands on her waist and his breath on her face as he inhales every breath she exhales.
She's already in her flat when she realizes that she's not as alone as she thinks she is.
When she flicks on the light, Sherlock is there, sitting on her couch. His tailor cut trousers are wrinkled, his black suit jacket is thrown without care on the back of the couch and the top two buttons of his crisp white shirt are unbuttoned. And she thought he was unbelievably handsome at the wedding but there is something so enticing about him like this. Free. Unrestrained. Alive.
She toes off her shoes and sighs, making peace with the fact that her flat will probably never be hers again. "You should probably stop breaking into my flat."
He holds up a familiar key between his index finger and thumb. "I didn't break in. Not this time. Mary gave me your key."
Mary. Of course she did.
She nods and gestures to the couch. "Its yours if you need it. I'm just…I'm going to…make tea."
She walks quickly towards the kitchen and brings the kettle out, filling it with water and putting it on the stove, tapping her feet against the linoleum floor as she watches the water slowly come to a boil.
She can hear shuffling in the living room and she closes her eyes when he comes to a stop at the entry of the kitchen (it's déjà vu all over again.) "I suppose I should welcome you back. It's been quite hectic…yeah? Work and the wedding and-"
"You've been avoiding me." He interrupts her, his voice echoing against the walls of her flat.
"Yes." She admits (because Molly has done enough lying for the past three yeas to last her a lifetime.) "I have."
"Why?" He asks, his voice is indifferent but there is an inflection in his tone that Molly has a hard time placing.
Because I love you. Because I can never have you. Because it's easier. Because I'm tired. But mostly because I love you and you don't even notice, you don't even care, because I was just a replacement, something to fill in the void for the past three years when you had no one. She thinks rapidly to herself. She shrugs and hopes against all hope that he doesn't hear her heart pounding loudly against her chest. "You never told me you were back. I thought…I thought you didn't want to see me."
He blinks and Molly takes this time to grab her cup of tea and make her way to her living room, sits on the chair and pulls her legs underneath her (it's déjà vu all over again.)
He follows and takes his seat on the couch; in the exact same spot he's claimed as his own, three years ago. He leans forward, hands steepled underneath his chin, elbows resting on his knees, eyes staring unblinkingly ahead, as he loses himself to his mind.
Molly takes this time to study him. To memorize him. To catalogue his old and fading bruises and cuts. She's toying with the idea of grabbing her phone and taking a picture of him like this, lost in concentration. A memento of sorts, a salute to the days when she thought she did count.
He blinks rapidly as he turns his head and she finds herself unable to look away from his gaze. "You are upset with me because I didn't say goodbye." She sucks in a deep breath and readies to defend herself when he continues talking. "When you say goodbye, you, in all sense of the word, mean to never see that person again. I did not say goodbye you out of slight, I just opted not to say it because I am in the business of truth. Not lies. Do you understand, Molly?"
"What?" She blurts out and it's the most ineloquent thing she's said in years, but she can't help it.
"I came back. I always came back. I will always come back."
Oh. Oh. She takes the time to look at him, study him. He looks uncomfortable. He looks…oddly human in his confession. She bites her lip and tries to keep her blush from spreading across her body. "Sherlock." She says hesitantly. "I'm…glad…you know, that you'll always come back."
He nods, pleased with himself for not having to confess anymore than he's already said and she shakes her head, a small smile on her face as she stares at him over the rim of her mug and he stares back.
She doesn't know how she gets on the couch; all she knows is that she's on it, with the pressure and heat of another body pressed against her. She shifts, trying to get comfortable and Sherlock's arms tighten around her waist. They're still in their wedding clothes but Molly can't bring herself to care.
"Molly." Sherlock rumbles against her ear. "Go back to sleep."
She doesn't want to. Not if there's even a slight chance that he won't be there in the morning.
"If I have to leave because Lestrade and the entirety of Scotland Yard are still completely incompetent, which allow me to inform you, that yes, they are, I will wake you up."
How he can still be so articulate while sleeping is beyond her. "But you won't say goodbye." She teases softly. Her fingers threading through his as they rest against her stomach.
She can feel him smirk into her hair and he gives her hand a slight squeeze. "No. I will not say goodbye."
(Molly Hooper falls asleep listening to his heartbeat and content in knowing that she does indeed count, that she's always counted, she just never truly knew how much. Until now.)
I blame Florence and the Machine for this. Actually…I blame Florence and the Machine for a lot I find. LOL. Anyways, I hope you all like it! Thank you so much for your support! They're lovely. They're always lovely and you guys are completely amazing. I love you all so so much!
MAD LOVE AND RESPECT TO ALL OF YOU.