Disclaimer: I own nothing but my mind, my dears.

Summary: In the darkest part of her mind, Molly thinks she could have saved him.

A/N: Angst. Really, just the typical stuff. Oh, I may have also taken some liberties with the "You count" speech...don't hate me! It's a little different, where Molly doesn't know that Sherlock has faked his death and instead actually thinks he's dead.

This is dedicated to Benedict-Addict Holmes, thank you so much for the prompt and for reminding me that I do love writing and for supporting me. You are amazing and I sincerely hope that you enjoy this one-shot! Thank you again for giving me this challenge (and let me tell you, this was a challenge! So hopefully it comes out okay!) I love you and I hope this one-shot can express how much.

Also: there is a longer version of this down below but ONE HUNDRED MILLION THANKS to everyone who nominated and voted for my stuff in the Sherlolly awards. I am literally shocked over the response I've gotten and I want you all to know that I love every single one of you so madly and deeply. You are all my inspiration to keep writing and I just…I love you guys, m'kay?

Any mistakes are mine and mine alone. Reviews are always appreciated and I hope you all enjoy! The title is taken from Explosions in the Sky song of the same name but I was listening to I just wanted to make you something beautiful by Industries of the Blind.

The birth and death of the day


She's in the middle of explaining something to her students when she sees something (someone) encompassed in all black fall by the window. In that split second, there is a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach, something that tells her, taunts her with the familiarity of the color black and the familiarity in the way the coat billowed behind him as he plunged to his death.

(It happens simultaneously; she drops a beaker and watches as it shatters into a hundred little pieces, scattering across the floor and Sherlock Holmes jumps from the roof of Bart's, shattering the lives of the people who love him in the process.)

She lets out a small curse and holds her arms out to her students, warning them silently to watch their step and to not move until the glass and chemicals are cleaned up. They don't listen. Instead, she's greeted with a sharp gasp and then the thundering of footsteps as the group of them rush to the windows. The crunch of glass from beneath their shoes echoes in the lab and she sighs. "You'd be surprised at the amount of suicides in Great Britain, every year. Even more surprised at the amount not reported, please-"

"Doctor Hooper?" One of the students cuts her off hesitantly, he's backing away from the window, his face white, his eyes wide, "you…you knew Sherlock Holmes, didn't you?"

The expression on his face, the rigidness in their postures, alerts her to something not quite right and the hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach grows increasingly. There is a sense of fear, a sense of urgency that claws its way through her body and it makes her feel sick.

She doesn't move from her spot, she doesn't move to clean up the broken pieces of glass from the floor. Instead, she stays rooted, frozen and loses herself to the screams and cries echoing from outside. She won't entertain the thought, finds that she can't. She clears her throat and marvels at the tightness of it, "I know him, yes."

The same student shakes his head, "I think...Doctor Hooper, I think that's him."

(Later, when she's asked softly, quietly by Sergeant Donovan what she remembers, she tells her that she doesn't remember anything. She doesn't remember running out of the lab and leaving her students unattended. She doesn't remember pushing past other doctors, nurses, patients and volunteers to makes her way outside. She doesn't remember pushing her way through the gathered crowd. She doesn't remember being held back and fighting Greg's grasp. She doesn't remember any of that.)

All she remembers is skidding to a stop, her knees banging painfully on the pavement, next to John. "Sherlock?" She calls out, her voice trembling, breaking, shattering (just like the beaker in the lab, just like Sherlock), "Sherlock. Please. Please. Sherlock. Oh…oh…God."

She doesn't even remember touching the body, all she remembers is pulling her hands away and watching as they're covered with slick red blood. His blood.

She whips her head to face John, John who looks so entirely broken and fucking devastated. John, who watched his best friend fall and die. She clambers towards him, arms wrapping around him, as they're both pulled away from the body. And in his arms, she cries.

(Behind them, the body of Sherlock Holmes is being covered with a white sheet. Death is permanent and so is the gaping hole in their lives.)

"You're wrong you know. You do count. You've always counted and I've always trusted you."

"Sherlock?" Molly breathes in; her hands fly to her chest to ease her thundering heart from fright. He looks wild, unkempt and to Molly, he looks terrified, which in turn terrifies her, because even though she'll never admit it (not like she has to, she suspects that he already knows, Sherlock Holmes knows everything), she gets her strength from him. She feeds off his energy and his moods because God help her, that is how much he affects her. "What do you need?"

"If I wasn't everything I think I am, everything you think I am, would you still help me?"

She frowns, partly because she doesn't understand the question, doesn't understand where this is going and partly because, he should know this by now, shouldn't he? She would do anything for him. She would put her life on the line if it meant helping him, saving him. "Sherlock," she says slowly, "what do you need?" I'll give you anything you ask for, Molly thinks wildly.

"You." One word. Three letters and it manages to suck the breath out of her lungs. She feels like she can't breathe. Oddly, she feels like drowning. How many times has she imagined this moment? How many times has she envisioned this? Too many to count. She should be happy, she should be ecstatic, but there is something in the way he talks, something in the way the words fall from his mouth. She feels something hard in her stomach; she feels something catch in her throat.

"Molly, I think I'm going to die."

No. Molly thinks to herself, no, you won't. Men like you, they don't die. They live forever. "What do you need?" She repeats again, trying to make him understand that she will always be there for him, that she has always been there for him. There is a part of her that thinks the lengths she will go for this man is ridiculous. But there is a part of her (an overwhelmingly large part of her) that reminds her, she has never believed in something (someone) so fiercely like she believes in Sherlock Holmes.

His eyes flit around her body, taking her in, he blinks rapidly and backs away, as if what he sees in her shocks him.

She wants to reach forward and pull him back to his previous spot. She selfishly wants him as close to her as possible.

"I need…" he looks around the lab, a wistful look in his eyes that makes her heart clench. "Molly, I am sorry." He walks towards her and her heart beats thunderously in her chest as he leans in closer until his lips ghost over her cheeks. His lips are dry and chapped against her flaming cheek and she balls her hands into tight fists. (It's so reminiscent to Christmas, that Christmas, but this time there is no moaning alert, there is just Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper.)

He pulls away but stays close to her, his body arching into hers, unconsciously (maybe consciously, she doesn't know anything anymore) begging for any type of contact. And this terrifies her because she has never ever seen him like this. He moves away from her and reaches for the door, when his previous words wash over her, "Sherlock," she calls out, her voice echoing in the empty and quiet lab, "you won't die. You can't die. There are too many people counting on you. There are too many people who love you." I love you. You're scaring me. Please talk to me. What's happening?

He doesn't say anything (not that she expected him to), instead, he gives her a small curt nod and then he leaves, his black Belstaff billowing behind him as the door slams shut, leaving her alone in the empty and quiet lab, leaving a trail of dread and uncertainty in his wake.

In the darkest part of her mind, Molly thinks she could have saved him.

At his funeral, Mrs. Hudson bursts into uncontrollable sobs, Greg cradles his head in his hands, mourning quietly and John sits in the front pew, posture straight, eyes looking ahead, but never at the closed coffin and his hands grip the armrest until his knuckles turn white.

And Molly? Molly makes sure that she's there when everything falls apart. She owes it to herself to be strong. She owes it to Mrs. Hudson and Greg and John to be strong.

She owes it to Sherlock to be strong.

She gives John his space when he talks to Sherlock's tombstone and she waits patiently until he leaves to walk unsteadily towards the newly upturned earth.

It's drizzling slightly, the sky is grey and as the day comes to a close, the temperature dips and gets colder. She feels the heels on her black shoes sink into the damp ground and she shifts uncomfortably and rests a hand on his tombstone, allowing her fingers to trace the letters of his name and his date of birth and death. She lets out a ragged breath, "I never told you this while you were alive," she says softly, "but I love you. I think I've always loved you, ever since you walked into the morgue and demanded Mrs. Stevens spleen." She grins slightly at the memory before she bites her lip and wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand. "I don't…I don't understand why you thought you had to…why you…I don't understand any of this. I don't believe anything the press is saying…we believe in you, I believe in you and I will never ever forget you." She shakes her head and lets out a sigh, "You are loved and I'm sorry if you never heard those words enough."

It isn't until she closes the large gates of the cemetery that she leans against the cold iron and weeps into her hands. Her body shakes with despair, her cries echoing across the cemetery. She doesn't bother restraining herself, there's no one to hear her grief.

(At least this is what she thinks. She doesn't look back to see the shadowed figure in a black billowing Belstaff coat, staring at her sobbing figure from his spot underneath the willow tree.)

"You can take compassionate leave." Mike tells her.

She shakes her head, "I don't have the right for compassionate leave."

Mike stares at her before he leans forward and places a hand over hers. "You knew him for seven years, Molly. You've loved him for seven years. You've risked your job, your sanity and your heart for him for seven years. You've been next to him during his trips to rehab, you helped him with his experiments, you were his only friend for seven years…if anyone deserves compassionate leave, it's you."

She clears her throat and looks away from Mike's earnest eyes. "I don't have the right to mourn him as much I do." She admits. She gives him a sad smile and shrugs, before she gently extracts her hand from his, picks up her tray and leaves the cafeteria, throwing away her untouched pork.

(It's only when she's in the loo, muffling the sound of her crying with the sleeve of her lab coat that she thinks she should have just stuck with the pasta.)

Mrs. Hudson calls her almost two months after Sherlock dies. She's worried, her voice wrought with emotion, choked up from sadness and weariness. "It's John," is all Mrs. Hudson says and Molly takes that as her cue. She bundles up in her jacket, ties her scarf around her neck (and tries not to remember the numerous times she saw Sherlock do the same) and she walks out her flat and makes her way to 221b Baker Street.

Mrs. Hudson lets her in, wringing her hand as she watches Molly make her way up the stairs and step into the flat that she has steadfastly avoided since Christmas.

She spots John easily. He's sitting in his chair; his body slumped forward, elbows resting on his knees and head in his heads. He's breathing heavily and when the floor creaks with Molly's shifting weight, he lifts his head and Molly sucks in a deep breath.

His eyes are bloodshot from crying, the bags underneath his eyes are pronounced and he looks like he's aged ten years in almost two months. He lets out a chuckle but it's not the same as she remembers it. It's bitter, dark and her heart clenches because underneath it all, he reminds her of a little boy who has just lost his best friend. "Mrs. Hudson shouldn't have called you. I'm fine."

"You're not." Molly says softly as she makes her way over to him and sits on the armrest of the sofa opposite him.

"How would you know?" John snaps and then he sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. "No…that's not…I didn't mean…Molly."

Molly shrugs and places a hand on his shoulder and squeezes it lightly. "I know you're not fine because neither am I. None of us are, not really."

There is silence, neither of them say anything and all Molly concentrates on is his deep and labored breathing. She's brought back when she feels his hand cover hers and he's staring at her, eyes shining and he looks so broken, so lost, "God, we are, aren't we? We're broken. He fucking broke us." And then he starts sobbing all over again.

All Molly does is hold him.

(It's all she can do.)

Later that night, they're both standing in the kitchen, eating takeaway when John clears his throat. "You knew him for seven years. You knew him longer than any of us."

"I did." Molly agrees.

John takes a deep breath before putting his plate down and stares at her, "how was he like? Back then, I mean."

Molly chews her pasta before answering, "he was everything you knew him to be and more."

Greg visits her in the morgue for a case four months after Sherlock dies and one week after he's reinstated. "How you doing, Molls?" Greg says softly as he comes to stand across from her and over the dead body of Mr. Goran Killam.

She gives him a tight smile, "fine. I'm doing fine."

(Molly Hooper has become an excellent liar and it's not something she's entirely proud of.)

The thing is, she sees him. At least she thinks it's him. She'll see a tall man with curly black hair, bright blue eyes and wearing a black Belstaff coat, standing off to the side, just outside of her peripheral vision and her heart will skip a beat, her heart will lurch into her throat when she turns around, head whipping to and fro wildly, searching for a man long since dead and buried.

(Her heart shatters when he's never there.)

"I keep expecting you to waltz into the morgue." She says softly, her fingers tracing the letters of his name and his date of birth and death on his tombstone. "Every time the doors open, I get this…this ridiculous hope that maybe, just maybe, this was all a dream, a nightmare. But…but…it's never you. It will never be you and this…this hurts most of all." She takes a shuddering deep breath and feels the familiar clenching in her chest. "It wouldn't make a different if I told you to come back, would it?" There's silence, as if she's waiting for an answer and then she wipes at her eyes with the back of her hand. "Yeah, I didn't think so."

"Molly?" John calls from behind her.

She turns her head and nods, "I'm coming. I just…I'm coming."

(It's been a year since Sherlock Holmes died and it's not getting any easier.)

She's watching a film with Greg and John at 221b Baker Street when the doorbell rings. They hear Mrs. Hudson talk, her voice wary and then an unfamiliar female voice replies, her tone pleading. Before Molly knows it, Mrs. Hudson is showing a shorthaired blonde woman up the stairs and into the living room.

The blonde stares at the three of them, until her eyes land on John and she sucks in a deep breath. "I'm Mary Morstan and I need your help."

There's silence before John barks out a laugh and shakes his head. "No."

"Yes." Mary insists.

"I'm retired." John retorts.

Greg turns his head from John to Mary, as if watching a riveting tennis match and Mrs. Hudson is leaning against the doorframe, her eyes hopeful as she looks at John.

"If it's money you want, I've got it." Mary snaps.

"I don't bloody give a damn about your money. You've got the wrong man."

"Look," Mary seethes.

"The man you're looking for is dead." John tells her bluntly. "His name was Sherlock Holmes and he's dead. I'm not…I can't be what you need, all right? So just…go to the Yard."

"I don't trust the Yard. Not with this."

Greg frowns and waves his hand, "um…hello, Detective Inspector, right here."

Molly shakes her head and places her hand on John's arm. He turns his head and stares at her, his eyes wide and filled with unrestrained fear. Molly gives him a soft smile, "it's okay." She tells him, "If you take this case. It's not…you're not…you're not taking anything away from him if you do this. If anything…you're…you're just adding to it. You're…you'd be keeping him alive, yeah?"

John nods slowly and then turns back towards Mary. "Tell me what happened."

(Mrs. Hudson lets out a small squeal, her eyes glinting and she claps her hands and Greg leans back on the couch, arms folded, "as if I'm not even here," he mumbles but exchanges a grin with Molly.)

And Molly? All Molly does is breathe.

(It's all she can do.)

Within the week, John's solved Mary Morstan's case. Mary invites them out for drinks. Mrs. Hudson politely declines but John, Molly and Greg agree.

They're at the pub, John retelling the case with enthusiasm that Molly hasn't seen in over a year from him. As the tale comes to a close, John sighs happily and then leans forward, "this round's on me." Before they can stop him, he's gone towards the bar and Molly is chuckling, shaking her head as she watches him weave his way through the crowd.

"So," Mary says as Greg takes a gulp of Guinness, "Molly, are you dating John?"

"What?" Molly asks shocked. Greg sputters and chokes and grows red in the face. Molly makes a face. "You all right there, Greg?"

"Fine." He wheezes, glaring at Mary. "Just shocked."

"You and I both." Molly mumbles. She shakes her head at Mary. "No, we're not dating. He's…he's well…he's all yours."

This time it's Mary who sputters and Molly who laughs. "You don't have to be a detective to know that you're attracted to him."

Greg frowns, "wait now, I'm a detective and I didn't know she was attracted to him."

"Yes, but are you a good detective?" Molly teases.

"Oh bloody hell." Greg groans.

Molly pats him on the back and shares a grin with Mary. She nudges the blonde, "go for it. He's…well…John's a catch."

Mary bites her lip and stares wistfully at John as he comes back, tongue poking from the corner of his mouth in concentration as he makes sure that he doesn't spill the drinks. "He is, isn't he?"

(It isn't until Molly gets home that she realizes she didn't think of Sherlock once that night and she's not entirely sure how that makes her feel.)

John visits her in the lab almost two years after Sherlock dies. "I've been taking on more cases."

"I know."

"Mary and I are looking for a place."

"I know."

"This is…this is normal. I like it."

"I know."

"He would hate this."

Molly laughs, the sound echoing in the empty lab. "I know."

"It…it scares me…how easy it's getting to just…to just…"

Forget the color of his eyes. Forget the sound of his voice. Forget the way he always, always smelled of sandalwood. It's terrifying how easy it is to just forget him, Molly thinks to herself. She looks up from her microscope and nods, "I know, John. I know."

She doesn't know what triggers it. Doesn't know why her carefully sculpted life decides to shatter at this particular moment but she can't help it.

She's just gotten home from a failed date (it would be her fifth one in three years and she knows that she's not going to even bother looking for a sixth date with someone) when she grabs the coat she threw over the sofa and walks out her flat. She doesn't know where she's going until she's staring at the large gates. Her hands grip the cold iron as she pushes it and listens as it creaks loudly in the empty cemetery.

Her legs lead her to a familiar spot and her fingers automatically reach out to trace the letters of his name and his date of birth and death. She can see little clouds of white as she exhales, the bitter air freezing her lungs.

"It's been three years. Three years, Sherlock. And I…I…still see you sometimes. I think…I think I'm losing my mind. I think I'm going crazy because when I look…you're not there and it hurts…it hurts because I love you. After all this time…and you…you're dead. Dead and buried and gone and everyone's moved on but I'm still stuck." She doesn't bother wiping at the moisture gathering in her eyes and instead, she lets them fall, salty streams of tears burning their way down her cheeks, "and the worst thing…the worst thing is…I could have saved you. All you needed to do was ask. I would have done anything to make sure that this…this didn't happen."

She sniffles and the lets out a noise that's a mixture between a laugh and sob, it's bitter and dark and she's lost, so lost (she never got the chance to mourn him, she was always too busy saving everyone else that she forgot to save herself), "you told me I counted once. That I've always counted and that you've always trusted me, but you didn't…at least not really, did you? I could have saved you, had you given me the chance."

She sighs and bites her lip, tucking her hair behind her ears. "It's been three years Sherlock and we miss you. I miss you." He presses her index and middle fingers against her lip and then puts them on the tombstone, "goodbye Sherlock." She says softly. "Goodbye."

It isn't until she closes the large gates of the cemetery that she leans against the cold iron and weeps into her hands. Her body shakes with despair, her cries echoing across the cemetery. She doesn't bother restraining herself, there's no one to hear her grief.

(At least this is what she thinks. She doesn't look back to see the shadowed figure in a black billowing Belstaff coat, staring at her sobbing figure from his spot underneath the willow tree.)

"Molly." Mary says into the phone before Molly even has the chance to say hello. "You need to come to the flat."

"Mary, what is it?" She asks worriedly. "Is everything okay? Is it John?"

"Molly, you just…God, you need to come here now."

"I'm on my way." She says as she slips into her trainers. "I'll be there in ten-"

"No." Mary interrupts, "not our flat…221b Baker Street."

Molly freezes. "Mary…what…" and then she hears it, through the other end of the phone she hears a deep baritone voice that makes Molly's breath catch and makes her heart beat faster. It's a voice she thought she'd never hear again. A voice she almost forgot the sound of, belonging to a man who was supposed to be dead and buried.

"Molly, you need to-" Mary is cut off as Molly shuts the phone and slams the door to her flat shut, hands trembling as she struggles to lock it.

(Later, when she's asked, she'll tell them that she doesn't remember running from her flat to 221b Baker Street. She doesn't remember pushing her way through pedestrians and various groups of people congregated on the street. She doesn't remember the way her bag slams painfully into her side. She doesn't remember the way her lungs burned or the way her heart beat against her chest, she doesn't remember getting to 221b Baker Street, she doesn't remember Mary wrenching the door open and telling her that he's upstairs, Molly, he's upstairs, no, she doesn't remember any of that.)

All she remembers is her slight hesitation at the foot of the stairs before she makes her way up, two stairs at a time. All she remembers is standing in the living room and seeing Mrs. Hudson, with a hand over her mouth, tears of joy streaming down her face. All she remembers is seeing Greg by the window, arms crossed and a look of wonderment, awe and hurt on his face. All she remembers is seeing John with an ice-pack on his hand as he yells and rants at him. "And don't think you're going to get out of being my best man, you git."

All Molly remembers is the way her body trembles and the way his blue eyes turn on her and soften just slightly. "Molly." He says. (One word. Five letters but coming from him, it may as well have been the secret to immortality.)

All she remembers is crossing the distance between them and tracing the arch of his cheekbones and all she remembers is the way his breath hitched and caught and all she remembers is how silent the flat became. "It's you." She breathes. "You're real. You've…you've always been real, haven't you? I haven't been…I haven't been losing my mind, have I?"

"No." He says quietly, "You haven't been losing your mind."

Without thought, without restraint, she throws her arms around his neck and presses her body to his, holding him tightly against her. He doesn't miss a beat, his own long arms wrapping around her waist and holding her in place. She hears, rather than sees, Mrs. Hudson usher Greg, John and Mary into the kitchen and away from them, allowing them some sort of semblance of privacy they never had before. "Sherlock." She whispers into his neck. I thought I lost you. I mourned you for three years. Please, please, don't ever let me go. I love you. I love you. IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.

"I know." He says, his arms wrapping around her tighter. "Molly, I know."

In the darkest part of her mind, Molly thinks she could have saved him.

(Sherlock tells her that she did.)

Eeermmm…so there it is. My humble offering to a group of amazing people. Benedict-Addict Holmes (my dear dear Aditi) I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this! I don't know if it's what you had in mind, but it's what came out of my twisted one, so I sincerely hope that you enjoyed it!

Also: I sincerely hope that you all enjoyed this one! It's a little bit different, since I'm so used to writing Molly knowing about Sherlock plans. It was a challenge, but one I welcomed readily, even though it was a bitch and a half to write. LOL. Anyways, I sincerely hope you all enjoyed it! I missed writing more than you all could know, so Aditi, love, thank you for getting me off my ass and making me write something.

Last bit of my A/N: A HUGE HUGE HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO VOYED FOR Hardest of Hearts and Read this Truth. I am seriously flabbergasted by all the love and support you have all given and shown me. Words cannot express how much I love you all and how much this means to me. I am just…I am literally speechless. A million thank yous to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. YOU. I love you all more than words can describe. Thank you thank you thank you.

Much love,