Disclaimer: This fan fiction is not written for profit and no infringement of copyright is intended. Not beta read, so all mistakes are mine. The title and all chapter names are taken from the poem "In Memoriam," by Tennyson. Please note that this story will contain references to unhealthy relationships and possible domestic abuse.
THE NOISE OF LIFE BEGINS AGAIN
The first time it happens, she's performing an autopsy.
It's a complicated procedure and Sherlock needs the results to be unimpeachable or his client will go to trial. Noor's only seventeen, her whole life ahead of her, and for that reason Sherlock supposes he must ensure that only the best pathologist takes part. So he comes into St. Bart's- his first visit since his return- and he demands to see Molly. He told Lestrade to put her on the case and he's certain that- annoyance at his faking his death notwithstanding- the DI did as he asked.
The girl at the front desk seems well aware of who he is and she nods him through, handing him a visitor's pass and then going back to her scintillating copy of Heat magazine. Barely paying any attention to which way he's going, and if he weren't in the middle of a case then Sherlock would probably be horrified at how lax security has gotten in his absence. But that's not why he's here, he reminds himself as he hurries to the morgue. He's here to make sure that his case gets solved. He's here to show that, though he lied to everyone he loves and faked his death, he is still a trust-worthy individual who can do some good. So John can stop randomly punching him whenever they meet. As he walks he's aware that his step is growing brisker, anticipation building within him. He hasn't seen Molly since before he returned to life in Baker Street, and he's unwilling to examine how eager to speak with her he is. After all, it's only been six months. But be that as it may, he turns a corner and practically bounds into the Lab, mouth already open to start bombarding her with questions-
She's standing at the slab, scalpel in hand, when he enters.
She looks exactly as he remembers from their months together in her flat, expression intent, slim body unutterably still with concentration, but for the first time in his life Sherlock just feels like something about her is… off.
It's not her clothing, though that's different. In the latter months of his hiding out in her flat she had begun changing her usual style, the flat pumps and runners she'd worn everywhere giving way to low kitten heels. The t-shirts turning to blouses, jeans replacing her usual tracksuit bottoms- Not that Sherlock had noticed all that much. At the time he hadn't thought much of it, had noted it as something vaguely discomfiting but not all that important. He had, however, liked the way she looked.
But the Molly who greets him this morning is dressed exactly like the Molly who orchestrated his fall, right down to the frankly ridiculous, cherry-stalk-patterned cardigan she's wearing. Her hair pulled into a haphazard ponytail over her shoulder, wisps of it all around her face. She's not wearing makeup, and the small, hoop earrings she had begun favouring when last he saw her are gone. It's… odd. Very, very odd.
And staring at her, he can't see a clue as to why she might be dressing the way she is.
Sherlock opens his mouth to greet her, not breaking his stride as he makes his way over to the body. He's carrying two paper cups of coffee (or as John describes them, caffeinated apologies) one on top of the other. If he's going to talk to anyone, Sherlock has discovered that it's just better to have them to hand. But before he can get within three feet of Molly she stiffens. Visibly. It takes her a moment to even look at him.
He comes to a halt, the half-smile he'd been wearing falling away.
He's never seen Molly react to him like that before and he's surprised how much it… irks him.
But he decides not to say anything. For all he knows she's uncomfortable being around him again- it's one of those feelings things, apparently- and it would probably be better for him to give her time and not just snap, "Oh, do cop the fuck on, John." After all, raising his voice to Molly isn't really a very pleasant thing to do. And he should probably just be grateful that she's gotten over her dressing up phase and turned back into the woman he knows again. It really was most disturbing, watching her wriggle and sashay around the flat. So he slows but doesn't stop, placing her coffee on the work-table beside her. She's a scalpel in one hand and a human heart in the other, it's highly unlikely she'll want a drink right now. "Good morning," he says instead. He tries to make it sound friendly.
She murmurs something which might be "good morning, Sherlock," but it's so muffled he can't be sure.
He holds his peace though, waits for her to say something else. It's an approach which tends to work when you value what the approachee thinks of you more than you value what you can get out of them by way of evidence. The silence stretches out however, Molly still not looking at him. She half-stammers observations on the corpse quietly into her Dictaphone and Sherlock feels like he may as well not be there.
If there's one thing he hates, it's being ignored. Just ask Mycroft. He's made a career out of ensuring that he never is, and today will be no exception. So he strolls casually over to the other side of the slab, leans over her shoulder. He knows how she hates when he does that- she calls it being a "backseat pathologist,"- and he's sure the irritation will get her to talk. She must be so intent on the corpse that she doesn't notice him moving. He's behind her before she even realises, and her eyes widen as she takes in how near he actually is. Sherlock grins, ready to tease her about... something- he always comes up with something- but as he does so he notices the way she's standing. She's stiffened sharply and for some reason he does not wish to examine Sherlock finds that very troubling indeed. The brown eyes widen further as she takes him in, a flash of what might be nervousness in their depths, and whatever he was about to say suddenly doesn't seem all that important-
"You're not supposed to be this near," she says. She's chewing at her lower lip. Sherlock finds it unsettling. "You- You might compromise the evidence if you don't move back-"
"I've stood over your cadavers before, Molly," he points out reasonably.
Again something flashes through her eyes, too quickly to decipher this time, and once again Sherlock thinks it looks like nervousness. But before he can tease the thought out, she catches him noticing. Tries to compensate. Now she meets his gaze, though it seems to Sherlock that she's forcing herself to do it.
"That was before I faked your death," she tells him. "Before they found out I'm quite capable of lying on the record and doctoring files. Before I was officially investigated by MI6. If I'm found to have allowed you in here then any results might be compromised and I know you don't want that. Noor's counting on us. So please-" She nods to the other side of the room- "Step back. Over there. I'll let you know when I'm done."
She returns her attention to the corpse as he moves to the spot she indicated.
"Thank you, Sherlock," she murmurs, so quietly he barely hears.
And that's how they conduct the rest of his visit. Him throwing out the occasional query from the other side of the room while both of their coffees cool and remain undrunk. Her not really offering any information besides that he asks for, an arrangement which should be wonderfully uncomplicated but feels very unsatisfactory indeed. The autopsy process moves along far more quickly than it normally does without Molly stopping to answer his questions every two seconds; Sherlock just makes suggestions, runs a couple of his own experiments (though none on the body) and generally tries not to get under the young pathologist's feet. It should be fine, but it is, demonstrably, not. The hours pass pleasantly enough though, even if he can't help the feeling that something isn't right about the entire endeavour-
Hours later, after they're finished, he sees Molly hop into a midnight blue Audi.
As it drives off Sherlock swears he sees her staring at him through the passenger-seat window, but the car's moving to fast to be sure.