Rated M for sex (soon, I promise, it’s gonna happen soon), graphic description of drug use and who knows what else as the plot develops.
Disclaimer: Nope, still don’t own BBC’s Sherlock.
Author note: continued from Ch3. Molly is in the lab analyzing mysterious samples sent to her, but she is thinking (in italics) about an incident after the Fall when Sherlock is living with her and has relapsed into drug use. The next few chapters will continue to be a flashback so they will also be in italics. I hope this doesn’t bother anyone too much, and rest assured we will be back to a normal font very soon.
The next few days were hell for Sherlock and not much better for Molly. By morning he was in the full throes of detox and while the methadone helped the worse of the symptoms, she didn’t want to give him too much. After all, he’d have to be weaned off that as well. She kept him hydrated, cleaned up his vomit, put cool cloths on his head when he had the sweats and wrapped him in blankets when his tired body shook with chills.
When the demons of withdrawal painted terrible images on the surface of his brain and had him screaming into his pillow, she would wring her hands and wait for his thrashing limbs to become still. Eventually the hallucinations would subside and he would curl into a tight shivering ball in the middle of the bed. This is when Molly would gather him up in her arms and wrap as much of herself around him as she could, trying to keep him from splitting apart with the strength of her small body.
Night after night, they had fallen asleep this way, her arms around his shoulders, fingers of one hand threading through his hair, legs wrapped around his middle. Sherlock’s head rested between her breasts, his arms around her waist and his knees bent and fitted tightly against her bottom. His mouth hung open as he hungrily breathed in the few moments of peace before the ordeal started again.
Slowly the symptoms began to ease and they were finally able to rest during the night. She would wake in the mornings to find herself curled around him and his strong arms pressing her even closer. She would hold as still as possible, delaying the moment he would wake and roll away from her groggily, her body suddenly cold without his, her fingers itching to wrap his smooth curls around them again.
After 2 weeks she had weaned him off both the heroin and methadone. Sherlock was still thin but stronger, his colour pale but not chalky. He was holding down food and she was sure he would be back to a lean but healthy weight soon enough.
The night terrors had subsided as well and Molly had decided, reluctantly, to start sleeping in her own small guest room again. After all she didn’t want to crowd Sherlock and knew he must have hated to appear so sick and weak in front of her. He was likely to drive her out of his room with a sarcastic rebuke if she lingered longer than necessary.
As days passed and his recovery progressed they had more and more free time which Molly spent reading and Sherlock spent figuratively climbing the walls. Increasingly frustrated he’d pace, the dressing gown she had bought for him flaring with each turn, while muttering about how ‘they’ were disappearing into the woodwork.
He would pause occasionally to pick up various trinkets and deduce their origin, value and relationship to her before setting them down again, rather roughly in his agitation. This particular time, he was examining a basket of sea shells.
“What?” she looked up from her book, a history of Nazi scientists given asylum in America during WWII. Sherlock was across room in front of her book shelf, turning a small white and black stripped shell over in his hands.
“Well it’s obvious isn’t it?” he took in her blank expression, and continued, “Sea shells, from Dorset. Studland Bay probably. The concentric dark bands are caused by slow winter growth while buried in deep sediments. The sulphur leached by anaerobic bacteria stained the new shell growth black. Only Studland bay has sediment deep enough to cultivate this kind of pattern. There are numerous bays in England have this type of shell, but there are several other memento’s from that area, including the hideous Dorset Seaside Cafe t-shirt you are currently wearing, so the balance of probability says the shells came from a beach in Dorset. More importantly they do not match the style of the flat, if a mismatched collection of hand-me-downs and cheap assemble-it-yourself furniture left over from Uni can be considered ‘style’.”
“Hey!” her exclamation startled Toby, who was sitting on the window sill, safely out from underfoot. He gave her a small meow before turning his attention back to the agitated man, eyes narrowing and tail twitching with annoyance.
“You are not cultivating a sea-side theme, Molly,” he continued, ignoring her protest, “so the shells must be sentimental in nature. In your bedroom there is a picture of you, taken 20 years ago going by your clothing and approximate age. You are standing with an older man who shares your eye shape and colour – an uncle possibly, but father more likely – and in the background there is a stretch of beach, as well as signage for the same Dorset Seaside Cafe. There are 16 shells total and based on the range of discolouration and brittleness each was procured during a different annual trip to the seaside you took with your father.”
Molly could feel the blood draining from her face, as she stiffened on the couch. She had thought she’d been ready for the inevitable intimacy that living with someone would create, but she hadn’t quite prepared herself for sharing her tiny flat with the worlds only Consulting Detective. Hearing how he dispassionately dissected her fractured family history left her feeling exposed and wishing she could unfreeze her limbs and leave the room. Energized and oblivious to her discomfort he continued gaining momentum.
“Your only family pictures are of you and your father so you are likely an only child and your mother ran off when you were young. If your mother had died you would have kept a picture of her somewhere, again, out of sentiment. The distinct lack of photographic evidence suggests the photos were deliberately removed or destroyed, therefore she left you and your father.
“The newest shell is 8 years old coinciding with your father’s death which is when annual trips ended. You placed the shells in a basket much too large for their current number so you planned on keeping up the tradition, however you never went back to Dorset. Why? Too busy? You have 3 weeks vacation and the beach is close enough for a weekend excursion if you didn’t want to use your holidays. No, you didn’t go back because doing so would remind you that you have no biological family left.”
He paused for a moment, examining the last very shell she’d collected with her father, running his thumb over the ridged surface, before continuing.
“Few people call. You rarely date, though given your last romantic affiliation was with a sociopathic consulting criminal, this is probably a good thing. You don’t make plans or even cancel them when I’m here so you have a small network of friends, most of which you’ve met through work, which means…” he had finally turned to look at her and trailed off as he took in her expression. She must have looked as horrified as she felt.
He swallowed hard before dropping his eyes to his own feet. He turned back to the sea shells and rather than toss the them aside like he had with her other possessions he placed each one carefully back in the basket, taking care to arrange it precisely on the shelf where he had found it.
“Well?” her voice was barely a whisper, but he still flinched. “What does it mean then? Finish your…your… deduction.“
“It means…” he watched her eyes narrow as he paused, “it means that you’re alone too.”
He stared at the basket a few moments before he turned, walked steadily towards her and squatted on his haunches, eyes on level with hers. Reflected back at her was the familiar hollow look of loneliness she’d catch in the mirror on occasion and she felt the heat of her anger begin to cool. Still holding her gaze, he covered her hand with his larger one.
“Forgive me,” and for a moment she thought he would lean in and kiss her cheek like he did on Christmas but he just squeezed her hand. “I remember the year your father died. You had only been at Bart’s a few months when you took a leave of absence, which was unusual for a new employee. I was annoyed because you were the first competent pathologist they’d hired.”
“You mean I was the only one willing to work with you,” her mouth lifting slightly at the corners and he smiled in turn, before becoming serious again.
“Today is the anniversary of your last trip to the beach with your father.”
“What gave it away?” she said, caught up in the communion of the moment and forgetting completely that she was upset with him. He reached forward and tapped the book cover.
“You prefer medical journals and the odd romance novel, though the latter embarrasses you which is why you hide them in the linen closet when I’m here.”
Molly could feel her cheeks flush.
“Your father enjoyed history books about the CIA and MI5, judging by the collection of his you kept. This one, Operation Paperclip, was a present you gave him. You’re not particularly interested in the subject matter, but you’re reading it today out of…”
“Sentiment?” she supplied.
“You’re right, I can never bring myself to go back to the beach but when I read these books, I remember him and I’m not as sad or as…”
“Lonely,” he supplied in turn. “It’s also the anniversary of your father’s death isn’t it?”
Molly averted her eyes and wracked her brain for a response. I was not the anniversary of her father’s death. That was 6 months away.
“You think I’m foolish,” she finally responded.
“No,” voice soft and low as he cupped her hand in both of his now, waiting until she looked back up at him.
“I’m a selfish man, Molly Hooper. That’s why it’s a…comfort” he tried the unfamiliar word on for size. “Yes, a comfort to know that I’m not the only one who’s alone.”
She sighed and squeezed his fingers back, “Neither of us is alone right now though, are we?”
“No,” he replied softly then with with more emphasis, “No, we aren’t.”
She looked down at the book cover as Sherlock stood up and resumed his pacing, his agitation steadily returning with each circuit of the room.
“But we will be soon,” she thought to herself. For a man that saw so much, he could be incredibly obtuse.
The truth was this man reminded her of her father. It wasn’t his looks or his clever mind; her father had been plain and wise, not handsome and brilliant. Rather it was the deep well of emotion that each held within themselves. Her fathers overflowing regularly to shower her in love and affection, Sherlock’s tightly capped and hidden but trickling out when he was under extreme pressure.
Yes, he reminded her of her father. And like her father, he was about to leave her all alone. Again.
Molly sighed and reluctantly eyed the her striped shoulder bag. He was well enough, he clearly needed the distraction, and it was best to get the inevitable over with, she told herself, though the thought left a cold knot in her chest.
She walked over to old shapeless bag and retrieved the thick envelope Mycroft Holmes had given her. Sherlock tracked her movements across the living room and back to stand in front of him. Wordlessly she handed him the heavy stack of papers.
“Autopsy reports?” he said, eagerly opening the envelope. “Anything interesting?”
He examined the first set of papers, a map with red dots over France, Germany and most of the continent. His brow furrowed as he trained all his deductive powers onto the papers, then onto her.
She nodded, though he wasn’t actually asking her a question. Molly kept her eyes on her own socks even though she could feel his boring into her. Seconds passed that felt like hours.
“I’m glad you didn’t rob the dispensary, Molly. It wouldn’t do to have Bart’s only competent pathologist sacked for stealing methadone,” he whirled away from her, dressing gown dramatically swirling behind him.
“My brother was always a bit of a mother hen. He could have given this to me weeks ago and saved us both the trouble, but no, Mycroft trying not to interfere is like Anderson trying not to be annoying. Not possible,” he said as he swept over the couch, sitting down and spreading the photo’s, maps and newspaper clippings over her coffee table.
Sherlock sorted and organized each piece of paper, slowly being absorbed by the intricate web that Moriarty must have spent years spinning. She watched, transfixed, as he settled back into himself. The erratic detective didn’t become calm all of a sudden, thanks to her timely distraction. Rather the fervour that vibrated in every cell of his body became centred and focused on the mystery unfolding before him. He truly did need this work, didn’t he?
Molly couldn’t help but feel a stab of fear as she watched him draw further and further away from her. Would he be leaving soon? She knew it was unlikely he’d be able to tease apart each strand of Moriarty’s web from the safety of her flat, but he was newly weaned off the drugs. Surely he would wait a few weeks, or months before running headfirst into danger.
“Hmmm,” he grunted, not taking his eyes off the papers.
” Do you think you’ll be—”
“Wanting tea? Yes, good idea.”
Molly blinked several times before shuffling off to the kitchen. It’s not as though knowing the answer would make her feel any better. And it wasn’t as though she could stop him or even delay him from rushing headfirst into danger.
She made the tea and brought him a steaming mug, deciding her nerves were already too rattled for caffeine. She stood in front of him, waiting for him to reach out for his tea. When he didn’t stir or comment, she set the mug down on the small portion of the tables surface still visible. He was definitely back to his old self, forgetting (or ignoring) her completely.
Molly should be annoyed but the roller coaster of emotions and the full time care of one consulting detective had left her knackered. She would definitely be sleeping in her own room tonight.
“I’m off to bed,” she said not bothering to wait for a response before heading to the small guest bedroom.
Realizing she’d forgotten to bring Toby with her, she turned to go back to the living room to fetch him when she saw a shape looming behind her. She realized Sherlock was right on her heels, but not before she jumped, letting out an undignified squeak.
“Oh! Are you going to bed too?” wincing inwardly at how inane she must sound.
“Yes,” he drew out the word as though questioning her need to state the obvious, before pushing past her towards the larger room they’d been sharing. He opened the door but didn’t walk through, instead he turned to her and waited.
“Well come on, Molly. I thought you were tired,” he gestured, with some impatience, for her to walk ahead of him into the bedroom.
Author note: Thank you to Jessica’s Nature Blog, which was my resource for details on the Studland Bay seashells http://natureinfocus.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/striped-seashells-from-studland/