Wednesday, 10 Mar 2010
I’m here, Sherlock. Where are you? -Molly
Sherlock stared at the words on his BlackBerry. Automatically, he looked down at the river, recognizing the bridge by its railing, and typed out a response. His location was a fact, and facts were comfortable and familiar.
John’s boyfriend, Jim. A ‘real sweetheart’. Made for each other. Was that why? Had John chosen Jim over Sherlock?
Cold, damp air seeped through his clothes. John hadn’t buttoned his coat or fixed his scarf before sending him away.
John had sent him away.
“Sherlock? Are you all right?”
He stared down at the river, trying not to think, but for him, that was even harder than trying not to have a heartbeat. There were ways he could manage that, though, weren’t there?
He couldn’t live without his work. He couldn’t live without a focus, something to help his thoughts rise up out of the static, to give him clarity and precision.
“Please, say something.”
John had become his focus. He wanted John. He needed John like he needed his work, like he’d needed drugs before he’d found his work.
“Sherlock, please. You’re scaring me.”
John was gone.
A touch dragged him back to his body, a little tug on his sleeve, and he stared down at a woman, disoriented and confused.
Analyze, he thought, and his senses lit up, flooding his mind with reports. Damp air, darkness. Hammersmith Bridge. Distant late-night traffic. Brown hair, frizzed by the humidity and half-tamed into a ponytail. Carefully applied makeup, lipstick in need of refreshing. T-shirt, pink cardigan, blue jeans, wool coat. Heavy duffle bag at her feet. Lab kit. Perfume.
“Molly.” Sherlock looked around again. He was on the Hammersmith Bridge. “What —” he began, before he closed his mouth, unsure what he’d meant to ask.
Her eyes were very wide and fixed on him. Her usual expression of vacant adoration was absent. “Sherlock, what’s wrong? Are you — are you hurt?”
He shook his head, because he wasn’t going to share John with her. He wasn’t going to share this, not with her or anyone else.
Sherlock was practiced at deception, but he failed — spectacularly, judging by how her expression turned to desperate concern. “Oh, God. What’s wrong, Sherlock?” she pleaded, her hand fluttering about as if she wanted to touch him again, but didn’t quite dare. He turned away to delete her presence.
John had a very expressive face. Not that he didn’t have mysterious and puzzling expressions — that was part of his appeal — but there was always something warm, something... feeling about his eyes.
John’s eyes had been entirely cold. (That was a strange way to describe them, wasn’t it? Temperature-based metaphor standing in for emotions. Messy, not empirical.) That look had been chilling. (Metaphor again.) The look of a man who shoots without hesitation and doesn’t —
Sherlock’s mobile rang. He snatched it from his pocket, hoping to see John’s name, even though John never called. He texted, just as Sherlock did.
But the call was from Lestrade. Sherlock ignored it and dropped the mobile back into his pocket.
“Sherlock? You’re not going to answer that?”
Data. He needed more data. John had been injured. Wrist splinted, arm in a sling. Knee braced, supported with a crutch. That face... It wasn’t a beautiful face, not in any usual sense. Commanding and appealing. John might have been anyone, startlingly forgettable, but that wasn’t true. Would Sherlock be able to delete John if he tried, or —
“You’re shivering... Sherlock? Right, then.”
Something pulled at Sherlock’s coat sleeve, hard enough to jerk him to the left. A small, pale hand with chipped nail varnish. (Not John. Obvious. Observation of the basest sort. Simple. Obvious.) Molly.
There was a taxi idling, door open. Sherlock blinked.
“Come on, Sherlock. In you go,” she said. Her tone was strange, not the same inflection she used when addressing him at the lab.
Sherlock looked back to the river. He deleted Molly’s presence. Right. Delete. Would he be able to delete John if —
The hand was back, this time gripping him harder, curled around his arm rather than just his coat. Impossible to concentrate. Sherlock jerked his arm out of Molly’s grasp and took a step to the right.
Molly ran around to his other side. “Stop that,” she said, and started pushing him, one hand reaching up to his shoulder, the other low on his chest, surprisingly forceful. “Just get in the cab.”
He stood there, frowning at her.
She pushed hard enough to move him, first one step, then another. “It’s time to go, okay?” she said gently.
Sherlock scanned Molly’s face and, alongside her usual nervous anxiety, he saw a surprising new expression on her pale features. It was one he’d seen on other faces before. Determination.
Without a word, Sherlock climbed into the cab.