Her palms were sweating, only slightly, and Molly wiped them absently on her trousers. Not that she was nervous, though. Well, only a little nervous. But the muted banging that had been coming from the refrigerator drawers had only just stopped, and the silence was proving to be more loud than the actual noise had been, even in the beginning when hypothermia hadn’t yet set in. The tension: waiting and hoping that that bang and rattle was the last one - no more noises after that one - that was the last, was straining. She was aware she was grinning, cracked, but it was all she could do not to dissolve into anxious giggles.
It was quiet. Good. Then: another thump. Not good.
Molly glanced at the clock, wiped her hands again before nudging an instrument trolley back into line with the tables. It was only nine, so it wouldn’t be the least bit suspicious if she stayed for another hour or two, maybe three. Because she couldn’t risk anyone coming in and opening a drawer to find a corpse inside that wasn’t strictly a corpse – not a corpse yet, anyway. An imminent corpse. Another two hours and she’ll double check herself. Just to make sure. And she can always pull out some paperwork to do, if push comes to shove, as an excuse, if nothing comes up. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s spent an all nighter in the mortuary.
A half-hearted thump, only as loud as a heavy footstep, but Molly jumped as if it had been a scream. No screams. The screams had stopped long ago. Her pulse was ticking wildly. She hadn’t felt like this in the mortuary since the first time she’d been in here alone. Then again, this was the first time she’d murdered anyone.
The first time but the last time also. This was a necessary evil. It wasn’t as if she had anything against the man personally. He was a nice guy, really, with an easy if worn smile. He brought her coffee sometimes. He’d just been in the way, and it would be better for everyone after this was done. In the long-run, if he ever found out – and she really hoped he wouldn’t but he’s so clever he probably will eventually – he’ll thank her. Look over it, certainly. Won’t say anything to the police, who are so caught up in their laws and rules that they couldn’t possibly see that she’s just making things better.
And yet - Molly wrung her hands and wished that she’d put more of the drug into John’s tea, and that she’d put him in the negative temperature cold chamber and not the positive one. Had he caught his fingers in the zip? He should have suffocated by now, certainly shouldn’t still be making noise. She’d panicked, too hasty to ensure a good job, but now the drawer was locked and the key remaining firmly in her pocket.
She’d just have to wait this out.
Any noises had long stopped, and Molly couldn’t help but stand in front of the refrigeration units, wondering. With John out of the way, Sherlock would need a new flatmate. There would be his John’s old bedroom free which she could move into – but oh! she wouldn’t need to, of course, because they’d share a bedroom. Of course. They could convert the room upstairs into a laboratory, if the landlady allowed it: yes, he’d love that. He always mentioned how he doesn’t have enough room, and how John refused to let him use the kitchen space.
If the landlady didn’t let them convert the upstairs room, well, then she would let him use all of the kitchen space he needed. And it’d be so happy.
The doors opened and shut behind her. Molly turned, and felt her heart stutter at the sudden intrusion, the unexpected fright of what every other time was wonderful. It was Sherlock, and no, he wasn’t meant to be here, not yet. No, this could ruin everything, and even if he couldn’t really, truly love John, he still couldn’t know. He’d be irrational for a while, but he’d get over it. But not if he knew now.
“Sherlock!” Molly said, and hated herself a little more when the word came out high pitched with nerves, guilty. But maybe he didn’t know and wouldn’t find out because really: Molly? Kill someone? Sherlock couldn’t possibly think that: she’d been so, so kind to him, just for him. Maybe he only came to return something, or ask for something. Yes, that was probably it. This wasn’t actually anything to do with John.
“Where is he?” Sherlock said shortly, giving her a glance before scanning the rest of the room. Molly’s heart fell.
“Where’s who?” she said automatically, stepping away from the refrigerator drawers. The movement pulled in Sherlock’s attention. His grey eyes were stunning, beautiful, and the sight of his long, clever body poised towards her was enough to make her forget all of the lines and excuses that were flickering through her head. He made her stupid and she wasn’t stupid, even if she hadn’t know exactly how much of the drug she’d needed to put John into unconsciousness. She hated stupidity – like Sherlock did – but even if she didn’t ever not become stupid in Sherlock’s presence, she wouldn’t mind.
“John,” Sherlock snapped. He paced deeper into the room and Molly felt a pang of hurt even as she stepped to the side, as if in trying to keep the drawer between herself and the detective. How could he even think of John when the man was already dead? Or, maybe dead. But Sherlock had her. He couldn’t find John, not now. Her palms were sweating again, worse than before.
“Oh,” Molly said, attempting to stifle a nervous giggle. Her eyes flickered involuntarily to the door. “He left a while ago, I don’t know where to.”
He’d started to wake just after Molly had rolled him into the body bag.
“Molly?” he’d said, words slurring as he had put a hand over the zip. For a man drugged three quarters of the way to unconsciousness, he was strong, and Molly had struggled to push his arm back down into the bag.
“Molly? What – no, stop, Molly, stop it. Wait, stop.” The zip had been over his chest, the cool black material of the body bag bulging out where he struggled ineffectively. “Molly, stop it, wait, don’t, don’t -” The zip had gone over his panicked face, catching and tearing some of his hair.
It had been a bit difficult to manoeuvre the writhing bag into the drawer, weak as he’d been. He’d only screamed twice, though, but shouted desperately as he’d banged and wriggled, the door shuddering. It had taken a fair while for him to stop.
She resisted the urge to look behind her. There was no reason for Sherlock to suspect her: she was only the kind, silly, clumsy Molly when she was with him. Kind, silly clumsy Molly couldn’t be suspicious. Why wouldn’t he stop staring at her like that?
“I think your milk’s gone off,” Sherlock said, a little breathless, and it was strange to hear him saying such a mundane thing when his expression was intent and scalpel-sharp. It was frightening, so frightening, and brilliant too. “The tea you left in the kitchen tasted a bit funny. No wonder it was only half drank.”
Molly’s world tilted suddenly. No. No, he couldn’t have drank that. John had only had a bit and poor, beautiful Sherlock was so thin, and if he’d drank the entire rest –
Suddenly Sherlock was in front of her, hands painfully gripping her upper arms. “What did you do to him?” he hissed. Molly cringed back, heart thumping wildly in her mouth and this time, it didn’t feel like the usual hot, heady admiration. It was terrifying, a deep hole behind her feet.
When he’d forgotten about John, he would be like this for her instead. The thought sent a pang of happiness through her chest. Then she remembered the tea.
“That was it, John was feeling a bit ill so he left: it must have been the milk. Sherlock, you have to go to A and E now, I mean, it’s probably nothing but John felt ill so you really should. Please.” It came out a big rush, a messy string of words. Sherlock didn’t let go of her arms. If anything he gripped tighter. The fear increased.
“Thanks for the tea,” John had said, genuine even though it was clear he would have rather been somewhere else. He’d taken a sip, blinked. Another small sip, put the cup down. Didn’t drink any more. Oh, oh, he’d probably tasted the drug in there! She should have made him coffee, he would have drank it anyway even though he had asked for tea. Poor, stupid John.
“Do you not like it?” she’d said, anxious, cradling her own mug. “I’m sorry, it’s a new tea bag I’m trying. I can make you something else, if you want.”
John had smiled, still reluctant, but shook his head. “No, this one’s good. Thank you.” More importantly, he’d drank further. Not much, but the awkward small talk had dwindled until they’d sat in silence and he’d barely been able to sit upright. He didn’t fall unconscious until after Molly had insisted on dragging him to the cold chambers, then pushed him over onto the hard floor.
“I would list out all of the reasons I know John is still here so your tiny brain could comprehend,” and Sherlock was getting louder, shouting in her face, “but I doubt that I! have! the time!” No, this wasn’t how it was meant to go, it was all so wrong, now, and now he’d never realise how he loved her. She recognised that she was sobbing. “What did you do to him?”
He took a step back, looked her up and down. Eyes lighted on the shape the key made in her trouser pocket, where she never usually kept anything. Dread welled up inside of her, pooling up from her stomach. He made a grab for her pocket. She scrabbled at his hands and was vaguely aware that she was shouting.
A pain across her face: an angry, eye-watering pain that tilted the floor and made her stumble. She put a hand to her cheek in fearful shock. Sherlock had hit her: a heavy backhand, and she could feel the bruising and heat rise already where his knuckles had landed. She stayed on the floor, put her hands to her eyes. It felt like her entire ribcage was being compressed, cold, and squeezing out more ugly tears. This wasn’t how it was meant to happen.
The drawer door opened the a loud clang. Molly looked up to see Sherlock pause as he saw the body bag, then drag it out so it fell lifelessly onto the floor. He couldn’t be shaking, that was only the water in her own eyes. He couldn’t love John enough for that, because he loved her. He couldn’t be stuttering the doctor’s name as he unzipped the bag, because this was the first time she’d seen him so angry-frightened-upset and that sort of emotion could only be for her.
John’s skin was blue tinted, his eyes were closed, but he was leaning into Sherlock and he was alive. The detectives arms were wrapped around him and Sherlock’s handsome mouth was pressed into his forehead, moving. It felt like the floor had dropped away, and her heart was pumping sharp ice. There were others in the room, brought by all the shouting no doubt. Sherlock was snarling at one who had got too close: Sherlock who was holding, pressing against him, the wrong person.
The sight of it hurt, set off new tears. If this had just gone right then everything would have been okay, and everyone would be so happy. This might have been her last chance; John had ruined it, and that hurt too. It hurt when someone was pulling her up and out of the door that Sherlock didn’t even turn from where he was holding close John to see her go. It hurt that this had all gone so wrong.
Sherlock might never realise now, he might never truly be happy. And that hurt the most.
The tragedy of it was, Molly reflected later as she sat in the police cells, was that everyone was treating John like the victim. Because the real victim was Sherlock, not John, Sherlock who hadn’t lost two-toes-but-would-soon-learn-to-walk-perfectly-fine, the victim was Sherlock who’d lost his chance at true love. And how could two toes compare to that?
Maybe he’d come to visit her. He’s mentioned him visiting the criminals he’d put away before. A shiver of hope and she smiled, touching the dark bruise on her cheek. He’d come for sure, she knew he would. She could explain it to him then.