The Case of the Hurt Pathologist
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock
"I had a friend before you, John."
John glanced at Sherlock over his newspaper and frowned. Sherlock was sitting on the edge of the sofa, staring into the empty eye sockets of Billy the skull. "Did you know him, then?" In the back of his mind, he felt like he should be concerned that Sherlock kept the skull of a fallen comrade, but the actual idea wasn't really surprising.
"Who? Billy? No. I didn't know Billy when he was alive." Sherlock scrunched his nose, as if the idea of keeping the skull of a friend was preposterous. "He was given to me, as a present."
John lowered his newspaper and stared hard at Sherlock. It wasn't lost to him the way he said Molly Hooper. Words and names didn't roll off the tongue in that kind of way for Sherlock often, but if they did, it frequently had something to do with his pathologist. "Why did she give it to you?"
"It was to celebrate my first year of sobriety." He stood up and carefully replaced the skull where it belonged. "I've been sober ten years today." He couldn't bring himself to move from his spot. Trying but failing to keep the emotion out of his voice, he said, "I wish she could be here."
"Sherlock…" John murmured, standing from his seat. He moved to stand beside Sherlock and put a comforting hand on his shoulder
Sherlock suddenly turned so his back was facing his friend, staring unseeingly out the window. "I wish to be alone, John."
John squeezed his shoulder, wishing he could do something more for his friend. "Maybe you should visit her?"
"I'd rather remember her as she was." Sherlock refused to turn around. His hands twitched at his sides, and then his head dropped. "Please," he pleaded.
"Okay, okay," John said soothingly, letting go of his friend. He took a few steps back from him and watched him for a moment. He picked up his jacket from the back of his chair and slipped it on. "Maybe Mary and I can cook dinner later for the three of us…?
Sherlock sighed. "If you must."
And with that, he walked to his bedroom and gently closed the door behind him.
Molly Hooper was in a coma, and had been for three months, two days, and six hours.
Surprisingly, the coma was in no way, shape, or form associated with Sherlock Holmes. She wasn't assisting him on a case. She wasn't running around London with him and John. She wasn't even doing anything remotely dangerous.
She was walking home in broad daylight from the tube station when a man (whom Sherlock learned later was hired to killer her because she was the expert witness in an upcoming high profile trial in a few weeks) slammed a baseball bat two times against her skull before some kind pedestrians dragged the man off of Molly and called 999.
The minute Sherlock found out that his pathologist—his girlfriend—his Molly was attacked, he was at her side in the hospital. At first, the doctors thought Molly would wake on her own in an hour or two.
Then a week passed.
The second week, the doctors were trying to find Molly's next of kin. Previously, it had been an aunt who passed away from a heart attack a few years earlier. Molly had never updated her next of kin with her general practitioner, which left no one able to make decisions on her behalf. Mycroft managed to procure a marriage license, matching platinum wedding bands, and an engagement ring as evidence that Molly Hooper and Sherlock Holmes were secretly wed prior to his fall—she chose not to change her name due to already being established and published under the name Molly Hooper.
By the third week, Sherlock couldn't stand sitting in a room with a woman who seemed to be sleeping as her friends, doctors, and nurses came in every day to talk to her. The sight of her wedding and engagement rings sitting delicately on her ring finger caused bile to raise up his throat and his vision to waver; it made him sick.
At the end of the third week, Sherlock left the hospital for the first time, and didn't return.
Sherlock had been staring at his ceiling for hours, at first trying to sleep, then trying to clear and delete unnecessary information from his Mind Palace, but all he could do was think about his Molly.
Tears burned at his eyes and tried to ignore it. A lump formed in his throat, and he just swallowed thickly. When his chin and lips began to tremble, he rolled onto his stomach and pressed his face against the pillow that smelled like Molly's shampoo and soap.
He cried silently
He lost his world already once, all of his friends, his family, the people he cared for the most for almost two years.
Why did he have to lose the one person who counted from the beginning?
The minute a storm began raging outside his bedroom window, he allowed his cries to become a bit louder until he was sobbing wildly. He clutched the pillow against his face and allowed his temporary weakness to wash over him.
When his phone began to ring, he ignored it.
But then it kept ringing over, and over, and over, and over again.
Suddenly, Sherlock leapt from his bed, leaving his phone where he left it on the nightstand and ran from his room. He slipped on his shoes that he carelessly kicked off by the sofa weeks ago, put on his Belstaff, and left his flat for the first time in two months.
The tears that had yet to dry from his face were almost immediately washed away from the rain. For a moment, Sherlock stood in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at the sky.
Then with determination he hadn't had in a very long time, he began running towards St. Bart's.
His lungs burned with the effort, but he ignored it. His right calf muscle began to cramp when he was a block away from the hospital, but he ignored it. The rain was weighing down his coat and clothes, but he ignored it.
He was gasping for breath as he ran through the entrance of the hospital. He could feel people staring at them, but he ignored them. They were all idiots anyway.
After heaving for breath for several long seconds, he ran towards the stairs and took them two at a time. When he finally reached the intensive care unit of the hospital, he felt like his body was going to collapse. His body ached and was cramping, he knew he was dehydrated and malnourished and the amount of exercise he just completed in the last forty-five minutes was not good for his body.
As he was passing the nurses station, one of the women he vaguely recognized stopped him. "Oh! Mr. Holmes! Your wife has been moved."
He halted and felt his knees buckle. "What? Why?" he gasped, swaying slightly on his feet.
"Her doctor thought she would be more comfortable in a private room. I'll take you to see her."
"Yes, fine, hurry." Sherlock snapped, his chest still heaving. It went unnoticed when the nurse scurried around the desk and in the opposite direction of Molly's original room. Sherlock followed, hardly taking in any of his surroundings until the nurse stopped in front of a room, the door closed.
She opened it, but didn't follow Sherlock into the room.
Sherlock unbuttoned his coat and made a beeline towards Molly. He tossed the coat to the side and glanced at the fresh flowers beside her bed. John or Mary had been in to visit very recently. The flowers were of the variety they brought in on a weekly basis.
His eyes swept over Molly. She was thinner and paler than when he saw her last time. Her hair was shiny and in desperate need of a washing, but had recently been braided and tucked behind her. Even from a few feet away, he could smell the hospital brand soap and lotion that the nurses used on her.
It took him nearly a minute, but he managed to close the distance and sit down on the edge of the seat that was by her bedside. He picked up her hand, pressing his fingers against her pulse. It was steady and at her regular resting rate, as if she were just sleeping.
He pressed his forehead against their clasped hands and took several shuddering breaths. How had he not been in her presence for this long? He suppressed the urge to cry, just squeezing her hand tighter and focusing on just breathing.
"You better be celebrating ten years of sobriety, Sherlock Holmes."
Sherlock literally fell out of his chair. He sat up and peered towards the woman who was no longer "sleeping". She had a soft smile on her face.
And then his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he dropped to the floor.
Molly Hooper was expecting a lot of things. She expected Sherlock to rampage around the room and have to be taken away by security until he calmed down. She half thought he would admonish her skills of deduction and protection. A piece of her desperately wanted him to just cuddle her.
But fainting on the floor was not even close to one of the options.
"Sherlock?" she croaked, very slowly leaning over the side of the bed to look at him. She couldn't move much, or shout for the matter, and in his haste to leave the chair to get to the floor, he knocked her nurse call button out of reach. She looked at the closed door and winced before raising her voice the best she could. "Help!"
It was hardly a squeak.
She looked back at Sherlock. His breathing was a bit fast, but he didn't hit his head either time his body made contact with the floor, which was good. All she could do was either wait for him to wake up or for a nurse to come in.
It took three minutes, but Sherlock finally took in a gasping breath, but he didn't move to sit up.
"I'm hallucinating," he said firmly. Molly's eyes widened, but she couldn't bring herself to speak. "My Mind Palace is trying to cope with my loss, so I'm imagining that you woke up." He began to laugh hysterically on the floor, his eyes glued to the ceiling. "Something is wrong with me."
His laughter quickly turned into choked sobs as he rolled to his side, shielding himself from Molly's worried gaze. She could hear Sherlock muttering to himself, and she desperately wished she was strong enough to move from the bed.
"Sherlock, it's me, please," Molly said brokenly. "Nothing is wrong with you. I'm awake. I promise this isn't some coping mechanism for that big brain of yours. Mary and John and the nurses have tried calling you for hours. Please love, please look at me," she begged, leaning over the bed again.
It took several long seconds, but Sherlock finally managed to drag himself into a sitting position and glance up at Molly before returning his gaze to the floor. "This is real?" he asked softly.
"Yes. Now take off your clothes, you're soaked, and please come sit on the edge of the bed. I've missed you."
Sherlock did as he was told, standing up slowly and disrobing without a complaint. He looked oddly endearing and young as he moved across the room and opened one of the drawers lining the opposite wall of Molly's bed. He wrapped himself in a white sheet and then returned to Molly's side, sitting down very gently on her bed.
He tried to act indifferent as he normally would if he was presented a case, but Molly could see right through him. He refused to look at her or accept her touch, sitting stiffly with his back ramrod straight. Molly could see his shoulders moving with each steady breath he took, but he didn't turn around.
"Sherlock, I'm sorry."
He didn't say anything for a long time. Then he finally asked, "Do you remember people talking to you while you were…sleeping?"
"I do!" Molly said earnestly. Before she could recount what she remembered, his body stiffened imperceptibly, but she saw it as if he ran across the room. She had to refrain from touching him, knowing that that was the exact opposite of what he needed at that moment.
"Then you are obviously aware that I haven't seen you in months. I hardly spoke to you when I was here. I am a coward." He dropped his head.
"No, no, no," Molly said softly, shaking her head. "You're not a coward. I understand these kinds of things are hard for you, Sherlock. I would be much more concerned if you didn't try to resume your life."
Sherlock snorted at the idea of resuming his life. He hardly moved from the sofa in his flat, and only ate and showered after John pestered him endlessly about it. John and Mary even felt it was necessary to move back into the flat. Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft helped the newly married couple to temporary live in 221C until Sherlock showed signs of living and returning to normal behavior.
He abruptly stood up, tightening his hold on his sheet. "I need to leave."
"Okay," Molly said understandingly. She knew feeling vulnerable was still new for Sherlock. She watched as he stepped out of her room, clad in only a white sheet and black socks.
She chewed her bottom lip worriedly and waited for his return.
He wasn't gone long, only thirty minutes. He missed the doctors and nurses coming in to examine Molly, helping her shift around in the bed to relieve pressure points and stop the formation of bed sores, and setting her up on her left side. Part of her was happy that he didn't witness it. He didn't need more proof of how frail she was at the moment.
He stepped back into the room tentatively, but stayed by the door as if she wouldn't want to see him. He looked similar to a child just after a scolding.
She prayed the nursing staff didn't reprimand him for his behavior…or his sheet.
"May I come in?"
"Yes, please!" Molly said, smiling at him. She could see he spent time sorting through his Mind Palace, and she imagined that he dealt with the emotions plaguing him accordingly, put himself back together, and smoked—she could smell it from across the room. She tried not to wrinkle her nose as he stepped closer. He had several cigarettes while he was away, then.
He hesitated just out of reach from her bed, and Molly stretched for him, summoning strength she hardly knew she had as she felt her atrophied muscles burn from disuse. "Come here, please," she begged. "I need you close. I've missed you."
As Sherlock moved to her bed, carefully draping himself against her and resting his head in the crook between her neck and shoulder, he breathed, "I've missed you too."
A/N: Thank you for reading! :) I only have one more prompt left, and then I'll be finished with this challenge! How wonderful!