Warning: Though there is nothing overtly spoilery in here, I do make mention of events from the upcoming "Sign of Three". Ye be warned.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock or its characters. No infringement intended. I just have a lot of feelings, ok?
Morning light filters into the well-appointed hotel room, streaming across the floor and up onto the bed. It streaks over the crisp, white duvet and onto the face of the woman currently sprawled on her stomach in the middle of the plush mattress.
Molly Hooper had a long night. She wakes to a pounding head and stiff muscles, and she would gladly go back to sleep if it weren't for that dratted sun.
"You probably shouldn't have had that last glass or three of champagne," says a voice to her left.
Her eyes snap open and she jerks her head back up, whipping around to see the man stretched out next to her on the bed. Her bed.
Sherlock Holmes is sitting up, his back against the headboard. His shirt only shows a few wrinkles, though he's now been wearing it for nearly twenty-four hours. Molly can see that he's certainly made himself comfortable. His collar is loosened and the tie cast away (probably far away, like in the hotel's septic line, if his previous opinion on ties is anything to by). He's also gotten rid of the jacket and waistcoat. His tan-trousered legs are crossed at the ankles, and while he still wears a pair of silk socks, he has cast off his shoes.
Though he did take the time to speak to her, Sherlock does nothing else to acknowledge her. He stares straight ahead, his fingers steepled beneath his chin.
"Sherlock," she sputters, still trying to wake up but also trying to dredge up her justified indignation. "What the hell are you doing here?"
He shrugs. "Thinking."
"What could you possibly need to think about in my bed?"
He looks at her, his eyes scanning her briefly. Molly notices that his retinas dilate a bit, and she woefully thinks that she's probably about to hear a treatise on how horrid her sleep attire is or something equally odious.
"Tom returned to London last night," he says, instead.
Oh. Of course Sherlock would know. She sinks back into the imagined safety of her duvet and pillow. Suddenly, she's glad she thought to pack her favored drunken night sleepwear: sweatpants, enormous hooded pullover, and wooly socks. Suddenly, it feels a bit like armor.
"Yes," she confirms cautiously. "He did."
She tries to dissemble. "He had business he needed to take care of."
Sherlock arches a brow at her, not buying it. "What kind of business?"
Groaning, Molly pulls her pillow over her head and burrows her arms under it as well. "What does it matter?" she asks, he voice muffled, though she trusts that Sherlock can understand her.
"Oh, I don't know," he replies casually. Too casually. "Just the fact that the man to whom you're supposedly affianced couldn't be bothered to stick around for much more than the first hour of the reception, even though this room was booked for two occupants. Believe me, I checked."
"Of course you did," Molly grumbles. "What'd you do, threaten the desk clerk?"
"No, I pretended that I lost my room key and confirmed that Tom's name was on the reservation." He digs into his trouser pocket, producing a plastic keycard with a satisfied smirk at his bedmate. "That's hardly an affectionate move on dear Tom's part."
She clenches her eyes shut defiantly. "What do you want, Sherlock?"
"I already told you. I want to know why he left."
"And I already told y—"
"Yes, yes, he had business in London," Sherlock interrupts. "But I don't believe you." He pitches his voice higher and draws out the 'e' in believe, sounding at once cajoling and wholly obnoxious.
"Too bad, because it's true," Molly huffs.
"Well, perhaps he did have business, but I want to know what kind."
"The usual," she says, trying to sound casually vague.
Suddenly, quick as a shot, Sherlock's hand dives under the pillow and grabs Molly's left wrist, pulling it out into the slightly chilly air. He ignores her squawk of protest and examines her fingers closely. Far too closely, because Molly knows exactly what he's looking for, and it doesn't require a magnifying glass.
Amazingly, astoundingly, he doesn't say anything else. After he has seen what he aimed to see, he gently lays her limp hand on his thigh and waits.
Molly stubbornly tries to outlast him in silence, but when she glances at his face, there's something there that she is far too nervous to describe. If she were bold, she would almost call it... hopeful.
But no, it can't be.
She looks at Sherlock beseechingly. "I couldn't—it wasn't fair to Tom."
"What wasn't?" he asks, his voice low.
Somehow, admitting it to Sherlock is far more difficult than saying it to Tom, and she's not sure she likes what that says about her.
"It wasn't fair to him, because I wasn't happy."
"You don't love him." It's not a question.
She should feel wretched, she knows it. But this has been seven months and eight years in the making. She can only try to find peace in the fact that Tom hadn't been surprised, and admitted that he had started to come 'round to her way of thinking sometime in the last few months.
He had returned to their hotel room, gathered his belongings, offered Molly a sad smile when she handed him his ring back, and then left.
Taking the rental car with him, she realizes with a frown. Shit.
Oh well, she thinks she might be able to get a ride back with someone.
Someone who is currently watching her carefully, waiting for her to answer him.
"No, Sherlock," she whispers. "I don't love him"
His face contorts comically. Molly identifies flashes of relief, glee, sarcasm, and remorse (feigned) all jockeying for position. Finally, he schools his expression. A bit blank-faced, but she can't help but imagine she still sees hopefulness in there somewhere.
"So," he says, struggling a bit before continuing, "What are you going to do now?"
"I dunno," she says, honestly. "I hadn't thought that far ahead."
"Well, long-term, of course, is going to involve me," he says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world, and Molly's hearing seems to tunnel suddenly, like after gun blast.
"What?" she asks dumbly.
He lifts her ringless hand once more, stroking a long thumb across the backs of her fingers. "I was mostly asking for a projected timeline, so I could know when to expect our relationship to move forward."
"When… timeline... our…." She tries to articulate, but fails entirely.
"It's my understanding that society frowns on serious relationships staring right after the conclusion of a previous one. Something about being on the rebound. Though, I could argue that Tom was, in fact, your rebound from me. Hmm." He trails off, looking deep in thought, though his hand still holds hers.
Molly could be appalled by his presumption, but she is just too stunned by everything to dredge up any anger. This is Sherlock after all, and he is just the tiniest bit—okay, very—right.
But that doesn't mean she can't tease him.
"All of the ladies' magazines insist that recovery time from a failed relationship can be estimated by halving the time spent in the relationship."
Sherlock's eyes widen. "That means you would need…."
"Nine months, yes," she says. She watches him, biting her lip to keep from smiling.
But he just looks up at her with determination. "Alright. If you feel it necessary. I will be patient, though you know that is not where my strength lies."
She can't contain a happy snort at that, though. He is a dear, sweet man. Whom she often wants to kill. She could get away with it, she knows. There are advantages to being a pathologist. Right now, however, she doesn't want to do anything of the sort. Instead, she laces her fingers through his, squeezing his hand until his eyes meet hers again.
"It's a good thing I think those ladies' magazines are a load of bollocks, eh?"
His grip tightens on her hand. A curve appears in his lips and soon he is positively beaming at her. "I didn't think it would last that long. I have it on good authority that I am quite adorable."
She wrinkles her nose. "I don't really see it."
He scoots down the mattress and lies back, turning to face her. Tentatively, he drops his right arm over her and pulls her across the bed to him. "Don't lie to me, Molly. It doesn't work."
She sighs and rubs her nose on his stubbled jawline. "I never was very good at it, was I?"
"Absolutely rubbish," he agrees, tightening his arm around her and cuddling her closer still.