The Musgrave Phone Call
Usual disclaimers apply.
"It is what it is," says John. Wrapped in a blanket, he looks as if he has already bounced back after his ordeal. More like a camper at the bonfire than a man who has nearly been drowned in a well. A man who never ceases to astonish Sherlock.
Voices crackle over the radio, lights flash, helicopter blades rattle in the background. It is nothing compared to the mayhem in Sherlock's mind. Whole wings of his mind palace are crashing down. Redbeard. Redbeard and Yellowbeard. The dog that never was. The boy who was forgotten. A girl on a plane. A sister in a prison of her own making. Ghosts from the past. Moriarty's face, his voice, his taunts. What is real? What was ever real?
"Mr Holmes?" One of the police officers has appeared beside him. "We are about to move your sister. She has asked to speak to you first. Over here." He gestures.
Sherlock makes his way over to the armoured vehicle, John in tow. Officers stand guard. One opens the door, invites him to step in. "You'll be all right, sir. We're keeping a close eye on things."
He climbs up and seats himself opposite his sister. Eurus stares. No trace is left of the cruel, cocky woman. Her eyes are filled with terror. Her mouth opens, closes; she struggles to get the words out. Finally:
"I helped you save your friend."
Is it an accusation? A request for, what? – praise, forgiveness?
"I know," says Sherlock. "I know, I know. I said I'd bring you home, and I cannot. Not yet. I promise I'll–"
"Sh! It's not about that."
"The girl, Sherlock. The one you love."
"Explosives would have been clumsy. I had a better plan. I wanted to destroy you both, but I was going to let you do it yourselves. You taught me this, Sherlock. Remember? Our death is something that happens to our friends, not to us. Our suicide is something we do to our friends."
"Oh god, Eurus, what have you done!?" He has to suppress the urge to shake her by the shoulders. "What have you done to Molly?"
"I'm sure you know your Shakespeare. I had a clever plan. Yesterday, she was suspended from her job while an investigation was launched into irregularities at the morgue. You know what I mean. You know whom she was doing favours over favours. This morning, she received an eviction notice in the post. Also, thanks to my immaculate timing, today is the anniversary of her father's death."
Sherlock's fingers tighten around his knees, but he shakes his head. "She won't do it, Eurus. She's stronger than you think."
"You know that she drinks a lot of tea when she feels stressed?"
"So I put a little something into her tea tin. Something to enhance how she feels things. I was generous with the dose. And I left a loaded gun where she would find it. It was supposed to be a surprise for you when you got back." Sherlock's hand is in his pocket. "I am sorry, Sherlock. It may be too late."
His thumbs are already busy with his phone.
"Don't do that, Sherlock."
"Don't you see it? Do you really believe she will answer a call from you?"
"Damn!" He is out of the van in an instant. "John, give me your phone."
John has seen his expression and knows better than to ask questions. He hands over his phone. Sherlock fumbles, curses, finds Molly's number. The phone rings and eventually goes to voicemail. And a second time, and again.
"What is it?" asks John. "Are there explosives in her flat after all? Couldn't Greg–"
Sherlock raises a hand to silence his friend. Grits his teeth. In his mind palace, he is screaming over the body of a dead Molly lying in a pool of blood. The phone is still ringing.
It's her voice. She's alive, she's alive, and she must, must, MUST stay alive. There is no error margin here. He must get it right.
"John, what is it?"
"Don't hang up! It's me. Molly, don't kill yourself! Don't do it!"
Silence. Silence is good, silence means no gun is being fired, but it also means a gun could be fired any moment, so silence is not good, silent is the grave, don't think about it, don't think about it, say something, Molly!
"How did you know?" asks Molly at last. "Did you put–"
"No! Good lord, no! It's a plot against you. Against both of us. It was her plan. Don't do it! Have you got the gun?"
Her voice is tearful, strangled with agony and shame: "Yes."
"Put it down! Walk away from it. Have you put it down?"
"I have now."
"Walk away from it. Where are you?"
"Go to the sitting room. Close the door behind you. And don't drink any more tea!"
"How do you know all this?"
"She confessed. Are you in the sitting room now?"
"Sit down on the sofa. Are you sitting down, Molly?"
"Sitting down now."
"Stay there. Stay there and Don't. Do. Anything until I come. I'll be about an hour, hour and a half. I might not be able to get a mobile signal on the way. Molly, you must promise me. Just wait until I come. Promise."
"Okay." She speaks so quietly.
"Are you…How are you feeling, Molly?"
"I don't know. Confused. Upset, scared."
"Don't be scared. You are safe. I'm on my way. We'll be leaving here any minute."
"And Molly, one more thing." This has to be said now. If he doesn't say it now, there is a danger that he will lock it up again in that impenetrable room he has built long ago. At least this one good thing can come out of all of Eurus's atrocities. So he forces himself to speak: "It's true."
"You know what. That. It's true."
Is that a laugh that comes through the speaker? A sob? A snort of derision?
"I find that hard to believe," she whispers.
"I know. I know, I know. But just believe it anyway. Oh god, no, that came out wrong. It's true, Molly, and I will explain everything. Not just about today, but everything, and then you will see that it's true. So please just believe it for now. Until I come. Please."
"I'll try." He can hear her sniffle. "Sherlock? Are you safe? Are you okay; is John with you?"
"I'm safe. John's here; we're both safe. But I'm not okay. I am…confused, upset and scared. But better now that I've spoken to you. It'll be all right, Molly. I'll make everything all right, I promise. I can do it. I will do everything–"
"Sherlock, stop. You don't have to be a hero for me. If it's true, then it's already all right."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I mean, I do want you to explain everything, and I have a lot of questions. And there are things that we will have to work out. But we can worry about that later. Just…just come home now. I'll be here."
Now he is the one who finds things hard to believe, though he really shouldn't be surprised at her generosity. She always gives him more than he has hoped for.
"Okay," he says. "I'm coming home."