The papers talk about Sherlock Holmes, endlessly, they don't need much ammunition anymore. A chatter that so easily flips between the boffin Sherlock Holmes, the amazing Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes the fraud, the mythical, the fake.
She buys them every time she sees a headline about him. A habit that's getting to be expensive, so now she often changes her route to work to avoid spotting any.
Sometimes she buys them purely so she can rip them to shreds, tearing at them with her bare hands, her short clipped nails making it harder than she thinks it ought to be, but no less satisfying . Truth is, it isn't as satisfying as she wants it to be when there's another hundred thousand sitting out there across the country or maybe millions across the globe, other publications repeating the same lies.
Molly Hooper used to fantasise about Sherlock Holmes. Of that she's sure he knew. Anyone who has seen them in the same room wouldn't be remotely surprised. She'd blush and stammer and feel foolish, feel unlike herself and yet still more herself than any other time when Sherlock Holmes was about and he...he was always the same.
Magnetic and magnificent, cool as ice when he spoke of the passion of murder, warmth seeping in, a spark only for the excited epiphany. Energy for the chase, thoughts for the mystery and on occasion he would spare trifling brain power to tangle with her, a compliment that was left to interpretation, a flashed forced smile that edged on the smirk of how easy she was to please.
Molly Hooper would smile back at him, awkward and hesitant at the unexpected attention and he would miss how she wasn't really pleased. The semblance of flirting, of desire and giddiness, wasn't one sided – he fooled her, she fooled him, she fooled herself.
Molly Hooper had a clipping of him in that ridiculous hat, which was pretty much the only way she'd have a photograph of him. She wanted one to remind her what was real, compared to all that her brain had memorised, because unlike him she didn't always feel she could trust her memory. Problem was that the muted colours on that fragile sheet were no more real than anything she cooked up in her imagination.
Molly, when she's just her and in her right mind, her right place, speaks clearly and calmly. She stirs the sugar in the dark liquid, round and round, watching the hypnotic motion continue once the spoon is removed. This is the tenth cup of coffee she's made in half as many hours and she's contemplating the long term effect of a diet consisting of caffeine and forty teaspoons of sugar a day. Not to mention if she could identify that habit from a corpse. She is meant to have seen it first hand already. Except nobody asks her things like that, they don't pry for details about Sherlock's body, too afraid to rock the boat of her perceived loose grip on normality and/or sanity.
At roughly 50 calories a mug with the sugar content it solves the mystery of how Sherlock manages to keep going without food for days upon days. Unhealthy for sure, and inadvisable with his usual activity level based on what she heard and read on John's blog, but manageable, if borderline abuse of his body.
Molly tries to hand the drink to Sherlock. That's who he is now. Not Sherlock Holmes, a man she put on a pedestal, who flits in and out of her life bringing flashes of exhilaration and equally misery. Today he is merely her friend Sherlock and merely is such a wrong adjective for that change. Her friend Sherlock, whose funeral she went to yesterday, who she cried her eyes out for before, during and after, and lied to his friends for. He's her friend Sherlock who is quiet, sombre, almost out of his depth.
Molly is no good at lying. It's just as well she had a lot of pent up tears from the last couple of years, and it isn't hard summon them forth when she thinks of Jim's betrayal or Sherlock's unintended insults or silly things like when she got the wrong end of the stick about another friend asking her to go to an event with them or a thousand other mistakes she has made that she has berated herself for.
She thought too, of the tears she couldn't shed at her father's funeral because it hadn't felt real then and had found she couldn't stop after that. The best lies are the ones that aren't actually false. Everyone assumes they're seeing Molly Hooper cocooned in her little black dress, arms wrapped around herself, grieving for Sherlock Holmes. Everyone assumes that when she talks of how he's gone now that she means to his death. When she says nostalgically how brilliant he was they all think in past tense and they don't know she what she really means. They can't imagine she suddenly has the privilege and burden to see he isn't quite so now he's hidden away, cut-off from everything he lived and breathed for.
They – John, Mrs Hudson, Lestrade, the crowds and the press - saw her grieving at his graveside yesterday and none of them questioned who it was for. Mainly it's for her father Molly grieved, belatedly, and partly for herself, how stupid she has been. And there is that little segment that continues to be, who cries for Sherlock, for his stubbornness and where his curiosity has gotten him.
He's still battling with Moriarty in his mind, attempting to out-think a dead man, trying to stave off the awful fates promised to his friends. She feels guilty that she is jealous she is not among them, no matter what he's said to her, and hates what he's done to her; for her to wish herself into his dangerous life and to accept a stake in his crazy genius plan that he claimed could not be done without her.
He doesn't accept the drink from her so she places it firmly on a grey felt coaster nearby, dark patches sloshing over the side onto the section depicting the left ventricle.
Sherlock is sitting cross-legged on her sofa, sloped forward, elbows pivoted upon his knees and arms leaning together to form a visage of angles, triangles, strength. His hands are intertwined almost like in prayer, his chin resting against them, eyes staring out in front of him. She doesn't say anything, best not to interrupt his thinking, but she plonks herself down anyway, sitting next to him. It is her sofa after all.
Molly Hooper wanted to go for coffee with Sherlock Holmes. Dreamed of the day. She will forever be disappointed on that count. It's a reality she has no illusions upon any longer.
Molly has made a lot of coffee for Sherlock she realises. Made coffee, neglected to check his access credential, gleefully watched him violate corpses in the name of science, done paperwork he should've filled out, drawn pints of his own blood, sneaked him out as another dead man, faked paperwork, committed a crime or two to keep him safe. She'd do anything she can and she knows with a sick dread that she can't make him happy.
Sherlock's muted and motionless in her living room, but she can tell he's still working the problem as always, pseudocide and his self-imposed temporary exile not withstanding. He's still playing the game - the wonderful not boring enterprise he delved into with relish time and time again in pursuit of being right and proving his life - and she gets the impression he wishes he wasn't for once.
She sits in the dull afternoon light, the clouds appropriately all wrong for a summer day after these life changing events, and Molly imagines in the future the press will be bouncing eagerly back to Sherlock Holmes the resurrected detective, the anti-hero of the modern age. He's lost a battle but he'll win the war. They'll all be safe in the end. Sherlock will fix it because he has to, is the only one who can, and because it's the only way he can hope to fix himself.
One day she will see the headlines and leave it be. Pass right on by the stands and buy a coffee instead, perhaps bump into a handsome man at the cafe and forget. Forget it all. Forget her sadness and her rage and all the times in all the days she has waited on Sherlock Holmes, for Sherlock who she is a friend to but not a friend of.
One day she will leave him be. Let him walk out without watching him go or wanting to do so.
Maybe one day he will leave her be. Ask nothing of her and let her morgue rest in peace, allow her contented days with the dead, with no clumsiness seen, with no silly conversations heard. In amongst the cuts she makes and her own clever thoughts revealed she would slowly heal, taking back pieces of her life in the quiet moments.
This is exactly how she pictures her future when he will inevitably disappear without a trace to go deal with whoever it is threatening his friends. Molly also knows it will be temporary, his patience isn't enough for it to be any less than he wants it be. Who wouldn't want their life back asap? Shame it won't be long enough for her before he'll be back to banging on the doors and demanding bodies never her own.
Yes, maybe one day he will leave her be, like she needs. It's not impossible as far as fantasies go. Then he might prove to be her friend. That she can't imagine though. Sherlock Holmes is dead to the world and yet Sherlock, forever not her Sherlock, with his gaze piercing straight through the scene haunts her as he ever did and will.