Sorrow weighs my shoulders down
And trouble haunts my mind
But I know the present will not last
And tomorrow will be kinder
-Tomorrow Will Be Kinder by The Secret Sisters
Mycroft stepped into John Watson's apartment, not bothering to knock. John and his daughter were out of town visiting family this weekend and Sherlock would not bother to answer the door.
"Oh, brother dearest?" Mycroft called out.
Mycroft followed the groan that came from the side bedroom to find a big lump under the duvet.
"Why can't you leave me alone?" Sherlock asked, his voice muffled by the blanket.
"Moping isn't a good look for you."
Sherlock threw the blanket off his face. "I am not moping. I am merely resting."
"Sherlock, you have not left the house in days."
"Oh, so I see I am being watched now."
"Yes, as is John Watson and Molly Hooper."
Mycroft noticed a small twist across Sherlock's features at the mention of Molly's name.
"I guess that is reasonable, can't have any more deaths on your watch."
"Sherlock we were children."
"Yes, yes, yes. I get it. The world could only handle one sociopathic Holmes on the loose."
"Why must you behave so petulantly?"
Sherlock sighed as if exhausted. "Is there something you needed Mycroft?"
"I came to check up on you. I was…" Mycroft hesitated on the word, "worried."
"Well there is no need for that, now is there? Why would there be?"
Mycroft decided to try a different tact. "Have you spoken to Molly Hooper?"
"If you're tailing me, you know very well that I have not."
"And why is that? I am sure she would be very interested to know what happened. Especially from you."
"And what good does that do her? I have finally burned that bridge and can anybody disagree that it's for the best? I have hurt Molly Hooper enough for one lifetime and I refuse to take part in any more cruelty towards her on my behalf."
"Sherlock, I may have mocked your choice of friendships in the past, but in that room… Well, I saw what she means to you. She is no mere toy to you. I think she deserves to know that."
"No," Sherlock growled. "I've done enough. How many times must the lives of my closest friends be threatened?l Christ my best friend died because of me. I will bring nothing but harm to Molly."
"Aren't you being a bit melodramatic?"
"I said GET OUT!"
Mycroft, realizing the futility of his errand, turned and left without a goodbye.
The doorbell ring drew Molly out of her copy of The Lancet. She blinked a few times to reorient herself to the world of the living. She glanced at her clock, wondering who could be calling her at two in the afternoon on a Sunday. Placing the journal upside down on the coffee table to hold her place, she hurried to the door and peered through the peephole. She gasped at the sight of the eldest Holmes standing on her stoop in an impeccable suit, wearing his usual banal expression. She had half a mind to pretend she wasn't home since she hadn't had contact with any of them since the fateful phone call a week ago. But if Mycroft was here, then Sherlock could be in trouble.
She took a deep breath before opening the door. "Hello, Mycroft."
"Hello, Dr. Hooper."
There was a noticeable awkward pause. "Is there something I can help you with Mycroft?"
Mycroft shuffled a little and it was such a human quality, Molly couldn't help but soften a little. "Actually, Dr. Hooper, I was hoping I could trouble you for some tea."
"The English government out of tea?" Molly teased but stood aside to let him in.
"If it were, I would not be at liberty to say, Dr. Hooper."
As Molly entered the kitchen, she almost tripped while realizing that Mycroft actually made a joke. "Please call me Molly."
"As you wish Molly," Mycroft replied, nodding his head.
"Please have a seat," she gestured toward her living room. While he did, she went to the other side of the counter and flipped the switch on her kettle.
"I see a little light reading for your afternoon." Mycroft pointed to her journal.
"Even though I don't work with live patients, it's still helpful to stay up on the science."
"Ah, I see." After another awkward pause, Mycroft abruptly switched topics. "I just got done visiting Sherlock at John's."
"So he is living with John?" Molly couldn't help the harsh tone in her voice.
"Yes, I thought you knew."
"No, I haven't…" Molly hesitated, her hand shaking a little as she poured the tea. She cleared her throat. "I haven't talked to him recently. I got a brief phone call from John to tell me everything was okay, but that is it."
Mycroft accepted his mug of tea, taking a slow sip, before speaking. "That is why I've come over, to explain what my brother is not able to at this moment."
"What is wrong?"
"I believe I have destroyed my brother's life and I'm doing everything in my power to repair the damage I've caused. The physical needs were easy to fix. A crew is currently working around the clock to fix up Baker Street. I've brought in my parents, even going as far as to let them stay with me as we figure out, well, our new family dynamics. But, alas I've left the hardest part to fix until last, his heart."
Molly burned her tongue as she gulped in too much. "His heart? I don't understand."
"Let me start at the beginning and show you how my actions led to that fateful phone call one week ago."
Molly listened intently as Mycroft recounted the personal history of Sherlock's tragic childhood. At one point, she gave up the pretense of drinking tea and set her mug aside, curling into her chair. Her mind couldn't fathom the hurt that Sherlock had suffered, and it explained so much that she had always wondered about him. But she still didn't quite connect how any of this had to do with her until Mycroft got to the island and how Sherlock, John, and himself were to play a series of games. Then it dawned on her and she couldn't help interrupt Mycroft's inane detailing of the case with three brothers.
"I was one of these games, wasn't I?"
Mycroft at least had enough respect for her to answer her head-on. "Yes, you were."
"And the game was?"
"To get you to say I love you in under three minutes or she would blow up your apartment."
Molly looked around herself frantically, all of a sudden feeling unsafe in her own home.
"You have nothing to worry about. She said that she never actually planted any explosives. Nonetheless, my people already did two thorough sweeps of the premises and the surrounding buildings in the last week. We found nothing."
Molly sagged, her mind swirling with thoughts. When did they search here? Oh God, I hope the place was clean? Were my bras still hanging on the back of my bathroom door? Who ordered the search, Sherlock or Mycroft? She paused on that one, deciding it may not be better to know. Molly took a deep breath and refocused. "Okay, it was for a case, well, maybe that is the wrong word for it. But, I had assumed as much. I still don't get why this requires a visit from you."
"It may have been a part of a larger game, but that moment, there was something real."
"I know you must have seen the whole thing and I know I must have been a pitiable sight, but I assure you I don't need it. I've long known where I stand with Sherlock, none of this is a surprise, more a nail in a coffin."
Mycroft flinched, but Molly had no idea why.
"Molly, have I been known for bouts of pity? Do I strike you as a person that makes house calls to make an acquaintance feel better?" Mycroft must have taken her silence as acquiescence. "As I alluded to earlier, I have to rectify something I broke. It started long ago when Sherlock lost his dearest friend. Now, he has lost the person he cares for more than anyone in this world. I will freely admit, I, myself, didn't see it until that phone call, but the signs were unmistakable, even one as devoid of human emotion as myself."
Molly was getting a little irritated. "These are all fine words, but I don't believe them."
"I understand that you have a lot of reasons to distrust my brother on this front. I'm not sure he knew how much you meant until that moment, of if he did, he was keeping that emotion guarded tightly. But at that moment, in that room, it was impossible to mistake his feelings. Here, don't take my word for it."
Mycroft pulled out a phone from his suit pocket, tapping briefly before handing it over to Molly, who took the device. She pressed play, not sure what she was about to see. Quickly she recognized the telltale audio and video qualities of surveillance footage. She noted all three men in a stone room with a wooden coffin in the middle. Sherlock was facing a screen. It was his side of that moment. She could easily see the sheer terror on his face, but that wasn't surprising to her. She knew he cared about her, he would never want her dead. No, that wasn't unexpected. What did shock her was his reaction after the call ended, the raw emotion he displayed as he destroyed the coffin. She barely registered the female words. Her eyes were glued on Sherlock. It was like watching an explosion of every pent up emotion Sherlock kept locked deep inside.
She handed the phone back silently, unsure of what to say. Mycroft stood and she mirrored him, ready to follow him to the door. There was not much more to be said. Mycroft paused on his way out the door, though.
"My brother prides himself on being a detached observer of life, but you and I both know he is possibly more emotional than the average human. He has learned that it is better to keep people at a distance to better protect them. My sister gets some of the blame for that, myself the other part. All of those barriers were broken through by my sister and that has left him more vulnerable than ever. Please go to him because it has been you that has understood him better than anyone else. I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to see it." Those were his parting words as he closed the door behind him.
Molly spent the next hour contemplating Mycroft's words. She inclined to shy away from sentiments like this about Sherlock. She had long since learned her place in his life, but she couldn't deny Sherlock's display. So much of what Mycroft had told her filled the missing spaces of her picture of Sherlock. She knew she needed to have this conversation with Sherlock and not just in her head, but she was no longer naive enough to believe that she would go to John's and be swept off her feet in a passionate kiss. This was more than just that phone call. There was no avoiding it, so she set out for John's place.
After she arrived at John's apartment, Molly knocked and heard no answer. She checked the door and found that it was unlocked. She stepped in, but before she could say anything Sherlock started to yell from the neighboring room.
"Oh for Christ's sake, have you not meddled enough for the day Mycroft?"
Molly followed the yelling and turned the corner to see Sherlock sitting up in the guest room bed. Based on his disheveled hair and t-shirt, she guessed he had not left the bed yet today. "It's not Mycroft," she murmured. "Although, I guess you can tell that, quite silly really." God, why couldn't she stop rambling?
"Obviously Dr. Hooper," he said with venom.
Molly flinched but didn't move from her spot. "I came to talk. Mycroft came to see me."
It was Sherlock's turn to flinch. "I'm sorry to waste your time, but I'm in no mood to talk." As if he needed to illustrate this point further, he flopped back down on the bed, turning so his back was to the door.
Molly looked around her, briefly wondering if she was dealing with a child instead of a grown man. She took a deep breath and then recalled the image of Sherlock on Mycroft's phone. It was enough to remind her why she was here. She kicked off her shoes and shrugged off her jacket before climbing into the bed behind Sherlock. She hesitated a moment, but when there was no response from Sherlock, she scooted closer, wrapping her arms around his torso. Sherlock reached up and grabbed one of her hands, bringing it to his chest, where she felt his heart hammering fiercely. She heard him take a shaky breath, realizing how close to the surface his emotions still were. She leaned forward and let her lips trace delicately across his neck. She inhaled his spicy scent, letting that ground her. She waited until he was ready to talk.
"I could have lost you," Sherlock let out shakily.
"Yes," Molly admitted, affirming it with another kiss to his neck.
"I thought I had been so careful."
"Careful of what?"
"I told you that Moriarity made the mistake of overlooking you in all of his plans. I realized then, how important that was. So, I kept my distance to keep you safe. It turned out my abhorrent behavior was useful in this situation."
"But your sister saw something different?" Molly hoped Sherlock understood her question.
"Eurus was always smarter, more perceptive than me and Mycroft. She designed her games so precisely, to get at every single one of our weaknesses. She wanted to break us down before she killed us, one by one."
"You three survived, though. You made it."
Sherlock shifted and rolled over to look at her and Molly was stricken by how pale his features were. His skin was splotchy with emotion while his eyes were dark from shadows and lack of sleep. Molly didn't even think before reaching out and pushing the curls back from his eyes. Sherlock grabbed her hand and placed a soft kiss on the sensitive skin of her inner wrist, his lips hovering over her pulse point when he murmured. "She destroyed you." Sherlock shook his head and let go of her wrist abruptly. "I destroyed you."
"I'm right here."
"What she made me do to you, it was designed to eviscerate you emotionally and I already heard it in your voice, you had a rough day at work. I was never able to ask you what was wrong," Sherlock admitted, smiling softly as his hand traced her hair.
Molly started for a second, as she threw her mind back to that moment. She had been making tea, in no mood to talk to Sherlock because of the body she had been assigned that morning. "It had been a post-mortem I had to perform that day. It was a woman in her mid-thirties, who had been hit by a drunk driver last night. The police had briefed me on the case and they told me she had no next of kin, her small family had been hit hard by cancer." Her voice trailed off, already the topic too close for comfort.
"And it made you miss your dad."
Molly felt tears prick at her eyes and she angrily swiped at them. Even now, it still affected her in the most unexpected moments. "I know everybody thinks I'm just another silly woman wanting to find herself a man, but it's never been like that. I just wanted a family again. That's all I have ever wanted, that unconditional love."
"I'm so sorry Molly. You deserve that, a good man who can keep you safe. Not a man whose very presence leads to your heartbreak at every corner."
For the first time, Molly felt hope, because this, this part of Sherlock she understood. "Sherlock, you are a good man. You haven't always been, but you have changed. I always knew Tom wasn't who I wanted him to be, but you never once said anything bad about him. Even at John's wedding."
"I wanted you to be happy. With Tom, you could have had that achingly normal life you so deserve."
"But that's the rub, isn't it? He didn't make me happy. For better or worse I have been gone on you since I have met you."
"You will never be safe with me," Sherlock sighed.
"But you let John, Mrs. Hudson, and Greg all take that risk daily."
Sherlock bit out, "Well, I don't love them as I love you."
There was quiet as those words sunk in. And just like that, Molly's world stopped tilting and she felt grounded once more, clearly understanding Sherlock's worry. On some level, she appreciated it too. It was how she felt that first time Mary and John arrived with an unkempt Sherlock in need of a rapid drug test. Her crushing disappointment and rage, but also the pure worry she felt.
"Sherlock, I could die tomorrow from a drunk driver or from some crazy relative of yours bombing my apartment." While her point was serious, she kept her tone as light as possible. "The cat is out of the bag. As for the safest place I can think of, it is by your side. Let the world know that if they mess with me then they will bring on themselves the full wrath of the great Sherlock Holmes."
Sherlock gave her a weak smile. "That just puts the biggest target on your back. I will be fighting off kidnappers right and left."
"And still, I would prefer that over this purgatory we are in."
Sherlock considered her for a moment, before cautiously asking, "And what would you suggest, Dr. Hooper?"
"Well, my first suggestion is you take a shower and change. Then you and I can go get chips from your favorite spot and we can talk some more."
"Yes, talk. We can discuss how John is doing, chat about Rosie, and decide what we mean to each other. You know, normal Sunday afternoon conversations."
Sherlock laughed at that, filling Molly with warmth. "I love you, Molly Hooper. There is no one like you."
"I love you too." This time, instead of a death sentence, those words felt like a promise of more to come.
Sherlock set the violin down on its perch before sitting in his chair, steepling his fingers. He hated his nervousness. It was such a common emotion and yet he was riddled with it. He thought of his composition and wondered if it would be good enough to engage Euros. His family would all be there today as they tried to draw out Euros in each of their ways.
He felt lips linger at his neck. "Everything will be fine," Molly whispered against his skin, causing him to shiver.
Since that day two weeks ago, Molly had barely left his side and yet his body still responded to her easily. Sherlock reached for the hand she had laid on his shoulder, pulling it towards her and kissing her wrist softly. "Thank you, Molly."
"You're welcome," Molly murmured, giving him a final kiss and hug from behind before moving around to the kitchen to continue preparations.
As if on cue, John entered 221B with Rosie. Sherlock's smile grew and he didn't waste any time reaching out to take Rosie from John's arms. "Ah, there is my little Rosamund."
Molly cut him off from the kitchen, though. "Don't even think about it, Sherlock. Once you get started with Rosie, it will take you another half hour to get you and John out the door."
Sherlock had to admit she was right, and reluctantly put his arms down. Molly reached out and John easily passed Rosie off to Molly, who headed back to the kitchen.
Something about the sight of Molly with Rosie tugged at his brain, but John's grins stopped him from exploring that moment.
"What's so funny?" Sherlock snapped.
"I will never get used to that."
"What?" Sherlock said irritably.
John laughed at his discomfort. "You actually listen to her."
"I listen to people."
"Not like her."
"Well, it would hardly be appropriate for me to treat you like I treat Molly."
They were interrupted by Molly peaking back out from the kitchen. "You two better run along. You don't want to keep Mycroft waiting."
"Why must you spoil the fun, Molly? That is the whole point of being late, to irritate my brother."
"Mycroft isn't so bad," Molly admonished. "Now, go along. Mrs. Hudson said she would come up in a few minutes to help me with the food while I watched Rosie. We will have everything ready for your return with your parents and Mycroft."
"Nobody said Mycroft was coming to dinner," Sherlock moaned. One look from Molly stopped him. "But what is one more in a family dinner?" Sherlock tentatively said.
"Exactly," Molly agreed before moving back into the kitchen.
He would feel much better if Molly came with him as moral support, but she said she couldn't. Not yet, at least. While she thought it was good that his family tried to reconnect Euros to reality, she wasn't ready to be a part of the process. Sherlock understood, which led to her offer that he bring John along and she would watch Rosie. It was also her idea to have a family dinner tonight as well.
Sherlock took in one more parting look, when this time, the sight of Rosie in Molly's arms triggered a cascade of thoughts in his head. Molly's easy manner with Rosie and the way she cooed over the baby made him entertain a new hypothetical.
What would their baby look like? He quickly assessed both of their features and sorted out the likelihood of characteristics being passed onto their children. First came Molly's warm brown eyes, much more likely to be passed onto their child than his own blue. And just like that other features slotted into place. A nose. A chin. Beautiful curly brown hair, a perfect balance of both of them. When the image was complete, his breath caught. That could be their baby.
He took the picture and went to store it in his Mind Palace, but he realized he would need a room for this baby. He looked through many doors, but couldn't find an empty room, which usually meant his brain already had a spot ready for this information. He wondered where it would be. He thought about going down his family wing, but that felt wrong. Then it came to him. He ran down the hallway and found Molly's room. He opened it and was welcomed by the citrusy smell of Molly's soap. The room was becoming cluttered. He would soon need to renovate the room and expand, but for now, he spotted what he needed. A door to an adjoining room.
He opened the door to a bright nursery, it looked like John's old room, but it was painted a beautiful pale yellow. The floors were gleaming and a breeze wafted through the gossamer curtains. The room was otherwise empty. He looked down in his hands and found that his imagination had framed the picture of their baby. He looked around the room and spotted one sole nail in the wall with the open window and he didn't hesitate before hanging the picture. He admired this work before closing the rooms behind him and exiting.
"What were you doing in your Mind Palace?" John asked him, drawing him back to reality.
Sherlock smiled. "Just doing some renovations. Let's get a move on, we shouldn't keep Mycroft waiting as Molly said."
"Feeling more generous to your brother today?"
"Not particularly, but I have plans for the future." For the first time today, he felt settled. After all, he would have Molly to come home to, they would be surrounded by friends and family today, and tonight. Well, tonight they could get started on their future.