‘But you can see me’, Sherlock said, confused.
‘I don’t count’.
Molly shivered as the door to the mortuary opened, to reveal a bulky man with a solemn face.
‘Dr Hooper?’, he said, looking down at his clipboard. Molly attempted a small smile, which she knew had fallen flat the minute she had tried to push up the sides of her mouth.
‘Ye- Yes, Hi? That’s me’, she stammered, her voice croaking. Her heart was thumping hard, high in her throat, as she signed the document he handed her.
‘Male, early thirties, 6 feet one, suicide?’, the man confirmed, his face grim.
Molly cleared her throat. ‘Yes, that’s the one’.
The man gathered the signing sheet, handed her the documents, and nodded slightly at Molly before leaving swiftly. The door rattled behind him, squealing like trapped mouse. Molly waited for the sound of his footsteps to fade, and then turned to the corpse behind her on the table.
She swallowed hard, mentally slapping herself hard.
Not Sherlock. The body of a man that looked a lot, too much, like the consulting detective that she was essentially putting her entire future on hold for. She could possibly lose her job for this. She could end up in jail for this. She could lose her life, as she knew it, for Sherlock.
Her reason for doing this, she knew, was pathetic. Even by her standards- after all, she had once thought wearing a tight dress would wrestle Sherlock out of his sex-is-boring cocoon.
I want him to see me.
The man in front of her was silent- as corpses generally were- but almost unnaturally so. Breathing through her teeth, molly slipped on the latex gloves and inspected the man’s head, finally seeing the deep, bloody bruise on the side of his head. Molly moved her hand away, closing her eyes for a second. The burning feeling behind her eyeballs did not wear away.
I will not cry.
Deep breath. She could do this, she knew she could. She’d had had to do much more difficult things in her life, and for much worst reasons than this. This act- this single, terrible, horrifying act- would save several lives. With this thought in mind, Molly quickly, but carefully, set to work.
She gently smoothed down the man’s dark hair, teasing the curls to make them more obvious. Then, pulling out the bag of clothes Sherlock had given her, she quickly stripped the man of his clothes and shoes, changing him into the soft, clean shirt and expensive trousers. From the bottom of the bag, she pulled out a duplicate of Sherlock’s coat and the dark blue scarf. As she placed them on the body, dressing the poor dead man up like a mannequin, she wondered how Sherlock had managed to source the definitely not cheap Belstaff coat (which she knew for a fact had been discontinued a long time ago) at such short notice.
Stepping back almost in time of the ticking of the morgue clock, she looked back at her work. Her eyes stayed dry. She understood what needed to be done. Molly pulled up the white sheet to cover the body, and walked away from it as clinically and professionally as she could muster. She sat down at her desk and looked at the documents the delivery man had brought her, before boldly labelled them to be incinerated. She turned on her computer, and brought up the morgue documents.
Sherlock Holmes, Molly typed, the words stark against the screen. She looked at the calendar behind her shoulder. She looked at the body on the table.
She looked at the computer screen.
Date and time of death: Sunday 15th of January 2012, 3.15pm.
When the time came, Molly felt like machine; following a routine that had been engrained into her, tapped out into her system so she would do it without thought or emotion.
Molly accepted the various tramps Sherlock put in front of her, and proceeded to dress them in stolen stethoscopes and crisp, white lab coats.
‘My homeless network’, Sherlock said, his face blank. ‘This entire plan rests on them’.
And me, Molly thought, practically hearing it echoed by Sherlock’s own thoughts. The only time she could ever say she had read them. Molly nodded. She felted as if her heart was being ripped to miniscule shreds.
‘Everything is ready’, Molly promised, nodded at the plastic blue mattress that was being inflated in front of them. Sherlock’s phone rang for the fourth time, a call from John, as always.
Molly swallowed hard. ‘Will anyone else know about what you’re do- what’s really…that you won’t really be….gone?’, she said, stumbling over her words.
Sherlock’s eyes stared into her, rather than at her, as always.
‘No’, he said.
No one important can know.
Molly can practically hear it, and with a stab in her stomach, she knows. Sherlock may truly have thought, truly believed in all his so-called sociopathic glory, that she counted. But she didn’t. At the end of the day, even Moriarty had given up on her as a bad job, as someone Sherlock could never actually care about.
Her stomach twisted. She knows her face must be a mess of emotion, the type Sherlock can’t stand or care to decipher.
But now she finally understood what she knew all along really- she could never have him. Sherlock, achingly beautiful and brilliant, was a rainbow of light that shone through shards of crystal. No matter how much she fought it, he would always see through her, untouched.
Blinking back tears, she smiles brightly at Sherlock. She leaned up to reach his arm, and raised herself to her toes. Kissed his cheek.
‘Please be careful’, Molly whispered. Without looking at him, she walked away towards the building, back to her place in the plan.
She tried not to wonder whether he was looking at her as she walked.
The funeral fell on a disgustingly bright and sunny day, mocking the occasion and the very essence of Sherlock.
Molly had worn the black dress that had embarrassed her at John and Sherlock’s christmas party, covered with a wool black, baggy jumper and with black tights underneath. Feeling guilty, she had covered up the whole ensemble with a black coat, so she was the only one who really knew what she was wearing. Inwardly, the dress was a tribute to Sherlock and a private celebration to the success of the plan. But to the outside world, she was the wilted flower she had always been.
Before the funeral, Molly had been worried about attending, feeling like an intruder into a private world of emotions that did not belong to her.
But as the casket was put down into the grave, and the headstone was erected, Molly grieved. She felt racked with pain, worry, sadness to the point of being numb. Finally, she allowed her tears to fall, cascading down in a stream of bitterness. She grieved the fact that Sherlock would have to leave the only world in which he had actually fitted in. She cried for John, who looked so impossibly small and lost, crouching in the mud and just staring, staring at the dirt over not-Sherlock’s grave.
But she can’t tell them, and it’s a burden she will have to keep, and pray that they will all forgive her when the time came. The tears came harder and fast, as if they would choke her.
What if Sherlock doesn’t come back? What if this is how it ends?
As if the terror of these thoughts had been heard out loud, Molly looked up, suddenly very aware someone was looking back.
‘How…how did he recognise her by…not her face?’ Molly had asked the tall, stern-looking man.
He looked at her, reading her life story, before walking away.
She hadn’t known silence could say so much, and so little.
Molly watched as Sherlock bent over her bathroom sink, hair wet and cold, ginger clinging to the previously dark curls. It suited him and didn’t, somehow at the same time.
‘Shouldn’t you tell someone other than me?’, Molly pressed, sitting on the bathtub. ‘I mean, its fine, if you want to- but what if you need help? I can’t…I’m not too good with….this’.
Molly gestured with her arms at Sherlock. Sherlock looked at her through his wet hair, blue-grey eyes questioning her.
‘But Molly’, he said. ‘You’re doing it already.’
The words raised a spark in her chest. She blinked and swallowed, dampening it down. She would not do this to herself again.
‘You know what I mean’, she said helplessly. Suddenly, she remembered the tall man that had come to the morgue to see Irene Adler’s body.
‘The man’, she started. Sherlock groaned, bored with the topic. ‘With Irene’s body from the morgue…the one with the umbrella…do you, you know, know him?’
Sherlock suddenly stood up, water and dye flying in the air as he grabbed Molly by the arm, pulling her off the bathtub.
‘Ow!’, she screeched. ‘Don’t- what?’
‘He can’t know.’, Sherlock said quietly. ‘He's the most dangerous man you'd ever know. Stay away from him'.
Molly pulled back her arm, rubbing it.
‘You didn’t need to grab me so hard’, Molly said, thinking. ‘But- who is he? I kn-know that its none of my business, but…who?’
Sherlock went back to the sink.
‘My archenemy’, he said, simply.
The burn of the sun was spreading on her back. Mrs Hudson’s sniffles penetrated the warm air, as she tried to pull John away from not-Sherlock’s grave. The funeral was over-finally.
But, as John stood up and walked away without a word, blue-grey eyes stared at her, stern and fierce. Molly immediately thought of Sherlock, except- this wasn’t Sherlock.
The man with the umbrella, from the morgue, the one with the silence, looked exactly as elegant and refined as he had that day but somehow seemed crumpled underneath. His face had lines and creases that had not been there on that day, his skin even paler if possible. He stared at Molly, with his piercing blue-grey eyes that looked uncomfortably like Sherlock’s, and Molly realised why The Plan had had to be so planned.
The man looked Molly up, and then down, as if he could see the celebratory dress underneath the layers. As if he could see her.
He raised an eyebrow, and Molly’s heart stopped.