“Do you think he’ll wake up?”
“I don’t know, Molly. He’s been under for a while. It’s up to him now.”
Warmth. He felt warmth envelop his hand and it was tight. His hand was being held. A small hand, slightly rough but still soft overall. He had felt that hand recently. Or had he? He squeezed it, wanting to reassure her. Molly, his Molly. But why was she worried?
“Greg, he’s gripping my hand!”
“I’ll go get a doctor.”
There were quickly moving footsteps and then he felt light fingers brush against his forehead. “Molly,” he croaked out. He hadn’t opened his eyes yet, but he felt more warmth against his fingers and wetness.
Molly was crying.
He was making her cry, again. Again? The memories were fading now, replaced with a blinding pain he hadn’t felt in a long time. Or had he? He was confused, so confused. “Sherlock,” she said. “Don’t push yourself. You’ve been in a coma for three weeks.”
“Mary...” he got out.
“We know,” she said, a bit of bitterness in her voice. “The bastard is still alive, and she’s felt so bad. But why were you in his apartment, Sherlock? What were you doing?”
So. The truth was out, which meant all the now fading memories had been something he had thought up for himself. He had dreamed it all.
But in all dreams is the grain of truth, he thought to himself and opened his eyes, taking in the bright whiteness of the hospital room before taking in the woman by his side. “Molly…”
“I’ll try and get you some water,” she said, standing up, but he tightened his grip and sat back down. “Sherlock?”
“Don’t...leave,” he said. “Please. Can’t...let you go...again.” His mouth felt so dry, like it was filled with cotton and sawdust, and the water would be amazingly refreshing but he needed Molly here. Oh, if it was all a dream and there was truth in the life he had lived in his mind, there was much he needed to rectify. He needed to do so so much to make sure that the future he had dreamed of didn’t come to pass, if it was indeed some prophetic vision of the future.
“I’m right here,” she said, smoothing his hair back. “I won’t leave unless you tell me to, alright? I promise.”
“Sorry,” he said, slipping back into sleep.
“Why are you sorry?” she asked.
“Love...you,” he said as he shut his eyes completely again, the last thing he heard before he slipped into unconsciousness again was Molly’s shocked gasp and the sound of footsteps again. But at least in the silence, he didn’t have to think about the life he had led or the life he still had to lead. He could be at peace, for at least a little while longer.
“He said ‘love you’ and then slipped back into unconsciousness,” he heard Molly say. “I...why would he say it?”
“He does love you, you know,” he heard Mary say from another part of the room. “I just frankly never expected him to admit it.”
Molly scoffed. “No, he doesn’t. Why would he love me when there’s Janine?”
“Fake...” Sherlock got out before he opened his eyes. Molly was there next to him and Mary was sitting nearby, both of them staring at him in shock.
“Well yes, we know it was a fake relationship, but apparently there was some fun to be had?” Mary asked him, her eyes sparkling. “Or is there no truth to the ‘Seven times in Baker Street’ headline at all?”
“My husband then?” Mary asked. That was definitely a mirthful sparkling in her eyes. She was having too much fun with this.
“No,” he said, making a face that got Molly to smile. This was all different. It appeared he hadn’t escaped the confines of his hospital room, John knew the truth from Mary’s own mouth, no one hated her...in some respects, at least, this was all better. “Magnussen?”
“Oh, love, your taste is horrible,” Mary chided, and this time Molly laughed.
“Serious,” he said, trying to glare. His mouth still felt like it was full of cotton and sawdust and getting the words out was hard.
“Have some water, Sherlock, so you’ll make sense,” Molly said, moving from his side to a pitcher and pouring him a glass of water. She stuck a straw in it and then bent the straw so he could use it, and then brought him the glass. He sucked down some of the cool, sweet water as though he was dying of thirst, but his mouth felt better and far cleaner when he was done. “Now, we all know he’s not your paramour. Why were you asking about that bastard?”
He wanted to sit up but thought against it. “I was on a case. For Lady Smallwood. Very low-key, but it required...things.”
“Like a fake relationship and a stint in a doss house?” Mary asked.
He nodded. “I don’t think he has his blackmail anywhere other than in his own head.”
“Well, that poses some problems,” Mary said, her good mood dimming. “John...John walked in on the scene after I shot you. Thankfully he didn’t demand answers right then, just that we take care of you. And Magnussen isn’t dead, just...incapacitated.”
“And imprisoned,” Molly added. Sherlock’s eyebrows scrunched slightly. “Well, once Mycroft had to get involved, it wasn’t as though he could be allowed out and about. Once the whole story came out about Mary’s past and all.” Molly brushed his hair off his forehead before setting the glass down. “Magnussen hit his head the wrong sort of way on the nightstand when Mary knocked him out. Mycroft’s just...helping his comatose state stay a bit longer until we figure out this situation.”
“Hopefully the bastard will wake up with memory loss,” Mary said with a sigh. “But if he gets his freedom back, he knows my enemies. And I have a rather sketchy past that I think only Mycroft is entirely privy to.”
“Norbury,” Sherlock said.
This time it was Mary’s turn to look confused. “How did you know about her?”
“I...dreamed,” he said. “I lived an entire life.”
“Oh my Lord,” Mary said softly. “Your mind just went on as though you’ve been awake and up this entire time you’ve been comatose?” Sherlock nodded. “What kind of...what kind of things happened?”
Sherlock shut his eyes and took a breath. “Mary, he doesn’t have to--” Molly started, but he shook his head and fell silent.
“There must be a kernel of truth if Norbury is true,” he said. “But...I killed Magnussen. Was going to get shipped off to my death in Russia for that. There was a case...and I overdosed...but...” He took a breath and then his eyes snapped open. “You can’t go! There are things that come to light and you try and leave, Mary, but you die if you leave.”
“Sherlock...Mycroft is starting to neutralize as many threats as he can, including Vivian Norbury. I don’t know what’s being done exactly, but I was completely honest and open about my past with Mycroft. He’s pulling in help from other intelligence organizations as I’ve been asked to join MI-6 as a field agent as a measure of keeping me safe, after the pregnancy. But as for the particulars of cleaning up my past, your brother and Lady Smallwood are keeping me out of the loop.”
Then it hit Sherlock the exact phrasing Mary had used, and who he’d sense was missing, even in his unconsciousness. “Where is John?”
Mary looked guilty. “We don’t know. Mycroft does, so he’s safe, but...”
“I think it’s despicable to leave his pregnant wife, but then...” Molly said, a small sound of rising fury in her voice that she bit back. “Mary’s staying with me right now so I’m afraid if you do as well I’ll be on the sofa.”
“I can stay at Baker Street,” he said.
“Like hell you will,” Molly said forcefully. “If you love me so damn much then I’m going to make sure you survive this long enough to go on a bloody date.”
“It was like surgery,” Mary said. “He’ll be fine.”
“I know but still. I want to see it for myself.” Molly huffed again and then sat in her seat, and a moment later she looked sheepish. “I almost threw a tantrum, didn’t I?”
“A bit, yeah,” Mary said. “But I bet Sherlock feels rather loved right now.”
Sherlock nodded and then lifted up his hand for Molly to hold again. Once she grasped it, he sobered just a bit. “I need to talk to my brother about something else I dreamt. A...sister. I need to know if that’s true because I think there could be issues there.”
“A missing sister?” Molly asked.
“Not exactly. An imprisoned sister, who may have been allowed a visitor we’ll sorely regret if there is indeed a kernel of truth to all I dreamt.” His eyes fluttered closed again as he realized this entire conversation had taken quite a lot out of him. “But first, more rest.”
“Molly will be here when you wake up, no doubt, and so will I,” Mary said and after a moment he felt two lips press against his forehead. “Get that rest, Sherlock.”
Sherlock was already awake by the time Mycroft arrived. He seemed to have a perplexed expression on his face as he looked into the hospital room, and Sherlock realized that Mycroft was aware of the fact he had seemed to have lived an entirely different portion of his life inside his head during the coma.
“May we be alone?” Mycroft asked Molly, who had stayed by the side of his bed.
“Let her stay,” Sherlock said. “It isn’t as though she doesn’t know what I’m going to tell you.”
“And just what are you going to tell me?” Mycroft asked, taking the seat Mary had been sitting in before she had gone off to get something for her and Molly to eat.
“We have a sister, don’t we? The one you used to refer to as the East Wind to scare me when we were children. Eurus.”
“I’m not surprised you sussed it out after all these years,” Mycroft said with a sigh. “You lived an entire few years in your head, you say?”
“And apparently I had some brilliant deductions,” he replied as he nodded. “So Eurus is alive? Locked up for her own good?”
“Psychotic, if my overactive imagination is any indication,” Sherlock said, lifting up his hand not containing an IV drip and waving it. “Did you ever let her meet with Moriarty?”
“Once,” Mycroft said with a nod.
“It’s going to bite us in the arse,” Sherlock said. “Even if things don’t go the same way they did in my coma dream, that was a foolish gift to give her.”
“How do you know?”
“If what I’m realizing about the clues is true, she’s pulling some very long strings, and it’s eventually going to cause something serious to happen. She’s got more freedom than you realize.”
“Should I lock Sherrinford down more, then?” Mycroft asked, his tone curious.
Mycroft’s eyes opened up wider. “You can’t possibly be serious. I’ve spent these years with her...and you...”
While it wasn’t often that Sherlock caused his brother to be rendered speechless he wasn’t taking much joy in the situation. He knew that what Eurus wanted more than anything else was companionship, especially the companionship she had been long denied. It might not head off other very scary things she could do, but it could head off something ugly. “Mycroft, I know, or at least I surmise, she’s dangerous. Redbeard wasn’t my dog, was he?”
“Yes and no,” Mycroft said slowly. “You did have a dog named Redbeard. Eurus...”
“Killed it?” Molly finished, already knowing this part of the story from his coma memories. Mycroft nodded. “And his friend?”
“Yes, she killed Victor Trevor as well. Pushed him into a well to drown. But she almost killed you as well, Sherlock. The fire...did you have dreams of that?”
“I’ve had dreams of that before the coma,” Sherlock admitted. “It’s just that they make sense now, what my mind was trying to tell me.”
“Sherlock...did you spend time in your mind palace going over all this in your coma dream?” Mycroft asked curiously.
“I’m assuming so,” he said. “But there were moments I was in my mind palace and other moments...” He looked over at Molly, not wanting to admit more about the overdose but knowing Mycroft had to know. “Other moments I was in a heroin-induced haze and in the Victorian era trying to solve a case. Emilia Ricoletti.”
“You don’t think I’m daft, do you?” Sherlock asked, nearly snapping out the question.
“No. On the contrary, I think your brain continued to work at the fevered pitch it usually does, and reality and hunches and repressed memories all blended together into something remarkable,” Mycroft said, his tone almost of wonder. “Not that I expect it all to be as easily cut and dried as you dreamed it to be, but could you go over everything in great detail?”
Sherlock nodded. “Yes. But why?”
“There could be angles that those close to you haven’t considered on a number of things. Mary’s past, for example. The fact you seem to know more might give us an insight we can’t get from Mary or our contacts. And then there’s the fact you said Magnussen keeps his blackmail in his mind. I want to know how you worked it out so we can put plans in motion. There is much we can glean from the inner workings of your mind, see what is merely fiction and what is fact that you’ve gleaned from a million things you haven’t even realized you’d taken in.”
Sherlock nodded again and then sank into the bed. “Where should I begin?”
“What happened just after you were shot in this version? When you woke up?” Mycroft asked.
Sherlock looked over at Molly. “I think this conversation will require more water.”
“Of course,” she said with a nod, going to the pitcher.
He watched her and then turned to Mycroft. “Once I got the pain under control, to an extent, I lured Mary to Leinster Gardens to prove something to John...” He then paused. “John,” he repeated softly.
“He’s with his sister,” Mycroft said. “There is a lot for him to go through in regards to his wife. He was quite upset not only to walk in and find you shot and Magnussen unconscious, but his wife standing over you dressed as a burglar. He said he wants to sort things out in peace.”
Sherlock nodded again. “He didn’t take well to finding the truth out in my head, either.”
“Then perhaps you know John Watson best of all, as I thought he would remain steadfast once he learned the truth about his wife,” Mycroft said simply. “Continue?”
Sherlock took a sip of the water that Molly offered and then continued on with the story. He went through as much as he could remember, though some details had faded now that he had been relieved of his comatose state. He continued even after Mary returned with food for herself, Molly and surprisingly Mycroft as if she had known he would be there. He found himself getting tired but he pressed on until he was beginning to slur words together, around the time of the part with Culverton being a serial killer. He had left out the part about John delivering a beating to him when he was nearly dead. The rest, the most important parts, would have to keep until the next day, but as he sank back into sleep he felt comforted that at least there was a lot for Mycroft to look into to see what was, indeed, fact and what had been a fiction all along.
Sherlock went through all of the details of what he remembered over the next two days for his brother. Everything was told, no matter how small a detail it had been. Molly had been there the entire time, learning everything in fuller detail than what he had told her previously. He had been glad for her company and the silent support she gave him. Mary stayed for much of it too, and it helped to have her fill in things she hadn’t even realized were important based on what he had lived through in his comatose state. He was thankful that his mind palace had stored this information in its own wing so the details were as crisp and clear as he could have them.
Finally, the tale ended. Molly had started to doze off and Mary had gently urged her to go home and sleep in a real bed. Sherlock felt bad because she had slept by his side more often than she had been gone, and she deserved comfort. She honestly deserved so much more than he could ever offer, but she seemed content to know that even in everything he had dreamt, he had realized what she had truly meant to him. Maybe this would give them a better start than the one his sister had given him.
Maybe this would all have a happier enough ending.
Mycroft finished listening as Sherlock tapered off and then nodded. “Your brain is truly remarkable,” Mycroft said. “I’ve always assumed you were less intelligent than I was, but perhaps I was mistaken. For you to piece all of this together while in a comatose state...it’s remarkable.”
“I just want it to be put towards good use,” he said. “Since things have happened differently I am less worried about Mary for the moment and more worried about Eurus and what plans she might have already made that have yet to be set in motion.”
Mycroft was quiet for a moment. “Do you really wish to meet her as she is now?”
“Yes,” he said. “It’s what she wants. I know she is dangerous, but she is...lonely. As lonely as I have been for quite some time.” He sat up a bit, moving carefully as he did. “You didn’t give them much time, I assume, but they are both brilliant. Possibly smarter than either of us, much as I hate to admit it. But whatever they have planned...I want to thwart as much of it as possible.”
“So that we do not end up in her house of horrors, so to speak.”
“Yes.” He finally finished sitting up and looked at his brother. “Has John seen me at all?”
“No,” he said. “You’ve been under guard and Mary has stayed here when she has not been at Molly’s home. But he has not attempted to visit when his wife was not present.”
“I knew...when I met her, I knew she was a liar, but I didn’t know how. Or rather, I must not have been able to see it, though I knew. I perhaps locked it away because I liked her.”
“Sentiment can be dangerous,” Mycroft said with a nod. “But I’m not about to dissuade you from your friendship with Mary...or any relationship you choose to pursue with Molly. You need them in your life, in a way I do not need...friends.”
“Lady Smallwood fancies you,” Sherlock said with a small smile.
“She does?” Mycroft said, almost looking shocked.
“Well, she does in the version I lived through. It’s quite apparent, though not to you, seemingly. Her mobile number was sitting on your desk for quite some time.”
“I...see,” Mycroft said slowly. “Did you, perhaps…?”
“No, I wasn’t aware of how it worked out,” he said. “But perhaps when more time has passed, she might feel the same, if she doesn’t already. That was something I could not tell in our interactions.”
“I will keep it in mind.” Mycroft stood then. “I think, brother mine, this will be the first time you’ve been alone since you were admitted.”
“Then stay,” Sherlock said. When he had realized it had all been a dream, he knew that if things were to be better he needed to put work in towards repairing all his relationships, including those with his family, and starting with his brother. “Let us talk until I fall asleep.”
Mycroft stilled, and then slowly sank back into the chair. “I take it you have changed greatly in your slumber.”
“I have,” he said. “We...need to be better to each other. If we are to get through all of this, we need to be an actual team.”
“I suppose.” He relaxed into the chair more. “So what should we talk about?”
“Tell me more about our childhood,” Sherlock said. “The things I have always gotten wrong from when Eurus was with us.”
Mycroft nodded again and then began to tell Sherlock stories. This was the most open they had been in some time and Sherlock found he relished it. It was with some regret he started to fall asleep, Mycroft’s voice tapering off as sleep overtook him. Perhaps, if he was lucky, his brother would be there when he woke up as well.
The next time he woke up he saw that there was a rose in a vase that had not been there before, a red rose. He could see the front of the card next to it and saw the very distinctive design from Irene’s website and smiled to himself. He knew Irene cared, even now; they did still text, after all. But he knew now his heart belonged to Molly and whatever relationship he and Irene should have in the future, this time around, it would be strictly platonic.
He didn’t have long to dwell on it before he got more visitors: Lestrade as well as Sally and Anderson. “You awake?” Sally asked, a warm smile on her face as she moved into better view, holding something in her hands.
“Just woke up,” he said. He and Sally had made their peace with each other a while ago after he returned. She had gotten a well-deserved reputation for herself for solving the kinds of cases he had, and he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a promotion in her future. She’d already asked for his help “when I’m really stumped,” she’d said, and he’d agreed. “You don’t by any chance, have something better than the ghastly hospital food?”
“Nothing too spicy, just some shepherd’s pie with turkey instead of beef. Veg is in it, topped with a potato/carrot mash...made it myself.” She set it on the table next to him. “Greg ate it and as you can see, he’s still alive.”
“I had no doubt you could cook, Sally,” he said with a grin. “I think you’re the reason Lestrade doesn’t live solely off takeaway.”
“Hey, I can cook too,” Lestrade protested with a grin. “Feeling at all better?”
“I can sit up by myself better,” Sherlock said. “And pain medications are taking the edge off.”
“You do have an awfully low dosage,” Anderson said.
“Ex-addict.” He didn’t snap his reply at Anderson as he might have before. Keeping those who could help close would be a good thing, and as much as he might have been loathe to admit it, that included Anderson. “It helps to keep it low so I don’t crave it.”
“Makes sense,” Anderson said, nodding. “I didn’t bring anything, but I just...wanted to see.”
“I am not dead and I am wide awake, but...I thank you for your concern,” Sherlock said, taking in the surprised looks of the three of them. “I do know manners, I might as well start using them. Near death experience and all.” Anderson gave him a small smile at that and then Sherlock turned his attention to Lestrade. “Do you come bearing a gift as well?”
“Just news,” he said. “Still don’t know who shot you, but Scotland Yard is looking into it. Your ex, she had quite a bit to say about you.” He pulled a hand from behind his back and then set down some tabloid rags. “You’ve got quite a reputation now.”
“I suppose I do,” he said. He knew generally what they said and was expecting a visit from Janine any time now. “But it’s not deserved. I’m not that good.”
“Ppfhht. Now is not the time for modesty,” Sally said with a smirk. “I have to run off and check on a lead I had for a case, but I wanted to drop off some real food, and to ask you to tell Molly there will be more at her place when you’re released.”
“Thank you, Sally,” Sherlock said. She turned and left, and surprisingly, Anderson left with her. Sherlock turned to Lestrade. “And you?”
Lestrade went and shut the door, and then sank down into the seat. “Do you know how bloody hard it is to work this case knowing it was one of my mate’s wife who shot you?”
“So you do know,” Sherlock said, relaxing. He didn’t want it to be a secret between them.
“Yeah. Mycroft told me the truth, pulled me aside and did that, and then said eventually the government will step in and take over, burying it, I assume.” He tilted his head. “Just how do you get yourself into these messes, Sherlock?”
”Bad luck, I suppose,” Sherlock said. He was quiet for a moment. “Thank you for keeping it to yourself. I appreciate it because Mary deserved better.”
“Yeah, I know she did. And she still does. I mean, I understand where John is coming from. My wife lied to me about quite a bit but not quite on their scale. But I understand wanting time to process, but...this long? And with Mary being pregnant? It’s not right.”
“But we’ll take care of her?”
“We will,” Lestrade said. “And we’ll keep her safe, I promise.”
“Good.” Sherlock reached over for the food, wincing for a moment, and then Lestrade was up and over, pulling the movable table up and getting the container and setting it on the movable table. Then he set the fork next to it. “Thank you.”
“Welcome.” Sherlock opened the container and then began to eat. It was quite good, to be honest. If the rest of the food Sally was going to bring tasted this good, it might be worth it to eat a lot and put on some weight. He was rather skinny again. “Anyone talk to you about the drug thing yet?”
“So you know,” he said between mouthfuls.
“Yeah. I know you got pulled out of a doss house with Wiggins. He’s someone we’re familiar with and here he is, off the streets and going clean and helping Molly?”
“He’s helping Molly?” Sherlock asked.
Lestrade nodded. “She pulled some strings. Turns out he’s got a head for chemistry. She’s teaching him how to run the tests on the samples she takes. He’s a month clean now.” He went back to the seat and sat down. “How much were you using before John found you? And don’t lie.”
“Since before I came back, more for recreational use.”
“And methamphetamines, when I needed to keep my mind awake.”
“Bad combination,” Lestrade said with a frown.
“I know. I have no intention of going back to either, or anything else I’ve used in the past. I’m going to work on my sobriety and try my best not to relapse.”
“Good. I can help.”
This surprised him. “You?”
“Before I was a copper, I was in the punk scene. Did some drugs, some of the hard stuff, but got cleaned up after a drugs bust where I had the choice to enter rehab or go to jail. The copper who arrested me took a chance and it worked out for the best. So maybe I thought I could take a chance on you. Take you to a good NA meeting, support you if you need it.”
In all the time he had known Lestrade, this was something he had never deduced about his friend. He nodded. “Thank you, Gregory.”
“I knew you knew my name,” Lestrade said with a wide grin.
“Well, if you’re to help me, I suppose we should be on a first name basis, though I would prefer you simply know my first name is William and not actually use it.”
“Only when you’re being a prat.”
Sherlock nodded, a small grin on his own face. “Fair enough.” He had some more of the food. “Keep me company?”
“I suppose I can do that,” Lestrade said, settling into the chair and chatting about what had happened in the time he’d been in the coma. It was nice to have this, he realized, someone who gave a damn about his sobriety. This was a pleasant deviation from his comatose dreaming, and hopefully, it would be something that would be better for him in the end.
Eventually, he was released from the hospital into Molly’s care, and he carefully made his way into her home and all the way to the sofa before he felt his energy wane away. “I don’t remember it hurting this badly before,” he said.
“I’ll apologize a million times if it helps,” Mary said, sitting next to him. She patted his hand and then leaned back into the sofa. “But at least you have someone who is willing to take care of you.”
Sherlock set one of his hands over hers. “He’ll come around. He did then.”
“I think we don’t know John as well as we think we do,” she said. She then pulled her hands away and then reached into the pocket of her coat. She pulled out a thumb drive and then handed it to Sherlock. “Mycroft made a copy for you, in case you didn’t actually see it in your coma dream. But how you knew I had it...”
“I’ve always known you were keeping some secrets and they’d be on something,” he said. He curled his fingers around the drive and then moved his hand into his lap. “I’ll look at it if John won’t.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if John washes his hands of both of us,” she said. “Or rather all three of us.” She gave him a wan smile. “Fatherhood doesn’t seem to be his forte. Neither does marriage.”
Sherlock was quiet for a moment, thinking as to what he had lived through in the dream. As much as John had loved Rosie, he hadn’t been particularly close to her at certain points in her life. Perhaps Mary had realized that now and it would make more of a difference in his goddaughter’s life. This was all a new road that was only vaguely familiar now.
Molly came into the room a moment later and sat across from the two of them. “I know you know my home like the back of your hand, Sherlock, but there is no way you’re going to make it up to steal my bedroom out from under me. Mary moved upstairs so the downstairs guest bedroom is yours. It’s got new linens and your favourite quilt.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“Why am I over here? You two should talk and I should take a nap,” Mary said with a twinkle in her eye. She stood up and kissed Sherlock’s cheek before going over to Molly and kissing hers. “Enjoy the bit of privacy you’ll get today.”
“Thank you,” Molly said with a warm smile before Mary left the room. She turned to Sherlock. “Do you want me to sit next to you?”
“I would like that,” he said, giving her a smile in return. She got out of her chair and then moved over, sitting next to him but not too close. After a moment he edged closer to her, lifting a hip up to pocket the thumb drive first. He reached over for her hand and then laced his fingers through hers. She looked down at their hands in surprise. “I know it’s a surprise, but...”
“No, it’s nice,” she said, resting her head on his shoulder carefully. “Are you sure you want me?”
“Absolutely,” he said, his voice firm even though he was tired. “I know...there’s things that I lived through that you didn’t, and things that may not happen the same and it’s all confusing, but I know...I know that I do care about you. Love you.” He squeezed her hand. “And if you want to make a go of things, I’ll move as slowly as you want.”
“I do,” she said, nodding against his shoulder. “But let’s wait until you’re well first. We can be close here and then focus on a date later.”
“Alright,” he said, feeling relieved. He was quiet for a moment as they sat next to each other, keeping their hands pressed together. “Do you think John will come around?”
“I don’t know,” Molly admitted. “I mean...he’s made no attempt to see her, either at the hospital or here. I know Mycroft knows how he’s doing but he’s not really sharing information with us. And it just makes me angry.”
“At my brother or John?” Sherlock asked.
“John, mostly. He should try. I mean, he shouldn’t run off.”
“He did in my coma dream as well. It wasn’t until Christmas that they reconciled, and then I ruined it by shooting Magnussen.” He was quiet for a moment. “She gave me the drive. The same one she gave John that he threw in the fire. Perhaps...perhaps it will help us all.”
“I hope,” Molly said. She lifted her head up and then kissed his cheek. “Things will be better, I think. If all of this information pans out, we can make changes to make things better.”
“I hope your faith stays solid,” he said, turning to press a kiss in her hair when she set her head back down on his shoulder. This was a good start, he reasoned. And hopefully, all things really would work out.
While things were different, the sense of found family was there when it was the three of them at Molly’s home. Mary and Molly both had him put minimum effort into anything aside from cleaning himself and moving from place to place, insisting on taking care of him. He had remembered Mrs. Hudson had done some of that in his memories but most of the time he had been alone. Mary had felt like a pariah, John had been avoiding them and Molly had been busy, so this was a change he liked quite a bit.
He did his fair share when he could, though, paying for takeaway and carrying dishes to the sink and listening when Mary wanted to talk. He viewed the information on the drive relatively soon after he settled, and surprisingly Mary said Molly could view it as well if she wanted, and many late evenings were spent in Molly’s sitting room with the two or three of them talking about Mary’s past and, he found, his own past as well, or at least what he had gone through while taking down Moriarty’s organization.
It had felt pleasant so he knew eventually there would be a wrinkle. Molly had taken him to a routine check-up to see if the sutures could come out yet, and while the news had been good in that regard, they came home to Mary looking miserable, as tear tracks were apparent on her face. “What happened?” Molly asked, going to comfort her.
“He filed for an annulment,” she said before beginning to cry again. Molly pulled her into an embrace as Sherlock went to look for the papers. This was a surprise, considering other things, but not unexpected. John had been lied to, after all, but going for an annulment instead of trying to work things out? That felt low, even for John, and considering how he had been…
But maybe it wasn’t. Sherlock skimmed the papers and then saw what had probably hurt Mary the most. “He wants no claim to the baby.”
“What?” Molly asked, outraged. “I swear, what he needs is a swift kick in the bollocks, and maybe the arse too.”
“No,” Mary said. “No, he has every right. I just...I just wish he’d tried to talk to me, that’s all. But maybe this is for the best.”
Sherlock’s mind flashed to how John had cut him out of his and Rosie’s life after Mary’s death in his dreams, and he nodded. This was very much in character for John; despite his attempts to be seen as a good man to all, he had a violent streak, and he could be cruel. But he had the feeling that John thought that the others would be on his side. On that note, he was sorely mistaken. Mary had been open and forthright since all of this had happened; John had just left.
He sat on the other side of Mary and patted her back. “Do you want to continue the pregnancy here with us?”
“You sound like you’re not going back to Baker Street,” Molly said, looking at him.
“I’d like to at least stay until I’m sure Mary is safe if that’s alright,” he said quietly, and Molly’s gaze softened as she gave him a smile and a slight nod. “Then it’s settled. For the time being, we’ll stay here and we will all get through this together.”
“I don’t deserve friends like you,” Mary said, pulling back and wiping her eyes. “I lied to you. And Sherlock, I shot you! You should all be on John’s side!”
"John’s being a prat,” Molly said. “A prat and a coward and he has to know the baby is his and he’s being so...so...” She pulled away more and threw her hands up in the air. “And I won’t have it. I won’t call and give him a piece of my mind but God-willing, I’ll step in to help care for the baby. And I know Sherlock will too.”
“Absolutely,” Sherlock said.
“I suppose my first order of business is to rearrange funds to support myself,” she said with a sigh. “I doubt he’d want me back at the surgery.”
“Worry about employment later,” Sherlock said. “Or after you’ve had the baby, assist me. I believe I’m going to need a new partner.”
“I’ll consider it,” Mary said with a smile. She reached over and pulled Sherlock and Molly both into a three-way embrace. “Thank you. I don’t know if I can tell you both what this means to me.”
“Just remember to name us the godparents and we’ll be fine,” Molly said.
“I wouldn’t dream of choosing anyone else,” Mary said, and Sherlock relaxed a bit. Though Mary might not have a girl and if she did, the girl may go by a different name, the child would still be his godchild, and that meant something important to him that he hadn’t even realized. They were a family of sorts, after all, and hopefully, things would be better for them all here on out.
After Mary went to bed that evening, Sherlock debated calling John and at least attempting to hear his side of the story, but to be honest, he felt he would be too emotional to make that call. Not sad, not exactly, but not full of righteous anger, either. It was as though all the worst faults of their friendship had come to the surface all at once instead of spaced over months and years, and it was a lot to take in.
“He didn’t do this in your mind palace, I take it.”
He was brought out of his maudlin thoughts by Molly coming over and standing near him while he sat on the sofa. He shook his head and Molly took the seat next to him, and he put an arm around her. “No. He was...distant, for a time, but then he said he wanted her back. I nearly ruined it by choosing that particular day to go after Magnussen, but they were together until her death, though things did happen.” He hadn’t mentioned the infidelity as there was no point if his sister wouldn’t be allowed out of Sherrinford this time and if Mary wasn’t to die.
“Like what?” Molly asked as he had thought she would.
“He started to stray, I suppose. My sister gave him a mobile number for herself when she was posing as a woman to catch his attention, and he was texting her. He thought I didn’t know but I knew. I just didn’t know she was my sister at the time.”
“She was also posing as his therapist, yeah?” Molly asked.
He nodded. “And a client who wanted my help. She was quite convincing in all those roles.” He sighed. “I suppose even deep in my mind I knew that John could be an arse, and a large one, but not even my mind imagined this.”
“I care for John, or at least I did before all this, but...he’s always had some sorts of issues. I’ve heard the things he’s said to you that weren’t quite nice, the way he’s been rough with you. I hate to say it, but none of this, either what he’s doing now or what he did in your dreams, surprise me much. I just...he could at least acknowledge the baby. That’s what angers me the most.”
“I suppose he thinks if Mary lied about her past she was more than capable of being unfaithful to boot, which is absurd.” She nestled into him more. “I trusted Mary before, and not just because she apologized or had the drive. The very first time I actively read her, doing the scanning I do, I knew she was a liar. I knew it all the way then. But I still...” He groped for a way to explain it. “She never gave me a reason to think the lies were malicious. And honestly, while I wish she hadn’t shot me, I was so concerned with this investigation on behalf of Lady Smallwood that if I had just paid more attention, it could have been avoided. I could have done my ruse earlier or waited until she had taken care of the problem permanently. Her other enemies would still come into play but I could have let her...”
“Kill Magnussen and get away scot-free?” Molly suggested, and he nodded. “Well, you didn’t, so I suppose now there are consequences to deal with all around.”
“I suppose so,” he said. “And now with the coma and what I was able to piece together, we have some forward motion on keeping her safe but it feels so futile, almost. Even if we take care of Norbury, for example, there’s still my sister in the wings. And then when Eurus is dealt with I’m at a loss. Mary was already dead by then.”
“You can’t put this all on your shoulders, Sherlock,” Molly reminded him. “Mary gave all her information on the drive to Mycroft, along with everything she knows that’s not on the drive. It’s at least a year before Norbury comes into the picture, right?” He nodded. “Then there’s time. You said your sister wanted attention. When you’re better, give it to her before she makes you run through the horrors she did. Concentrate on cases that come up, because I doubt they’ll be the same ones. You’ve got a brilliant mind but just because you pieced together the mysteries of Mary and your sister doesn’t mean you’ve predicted all those cases you solved.”
“It would be so much easier if I had,” he said with a soft chuckle.
“At least you find some humor in the situation,” she said, shifting to lean up more and kiss his cheek.
“I suppose,” he said. He lapsed into silence for a moment before reaching over for her hand. “And us?”
“What about us?” she asked.
“We’ll make an actual attempt at things?” He watched her pull away slightly. “I know...I know I’ve treated you badly, but you through stress you didn’t deserve, angered you, been less than you deserve, but I promise, I will do better. I know I can. I just want to show you I can be true to my word when I say I want to be the man you deserve.”
She reached up and cradled his face for a moment before leaning in and kissing him softly on the lips. He kissed her back, wrapping an arm around her waist but not pulling her in closer until she moved closer, deepening the kiss slightly. When she pulled away to take a breath she rested her forehead against his, her hands still on his face. “I’m going to take that kiss as your promise,” she said.
“That was...” he trailed off as he let his fingers splay on her waist, curling around to her back. “Again?”
She laughed softly and closed the space between them again, carefully settling against him, and he realized he was, by far, the luckiest man in the world. He just needed to make sure he kept the promise that that kiss entailed.
It was after that evening that two things began in earnest. Or rather three, with two of them being opposite sides of the same coin, in that strengthening this found family that he, Molly, Mary, and the baby had become also meant cutting John out of their lives. But there was also some real attempts to hash out what would be wanted in a relationship between himself and Molly of the romantic variety, and he was thankful for that. Not only did he get to hear, this time much earlier than anticipated, what she wanted from him, but he’d also had the chance to think about and say what he wanted in a relationship period but specifically one with Molly. Talking about all this was good.
Not long after his coming home from the hospital, he went with Mary to an appointment with the obstetrician. Molly had not been able to make this one as she’d gone back to work once he was able to leave the home and there had been a backlog that required her expertise, but she promised she’d go to the next one. He was simply glad Mary’s doctor was not at the surgery where she and John had worked; Mary had put in her notice and was taking time to arrange new housing, though Molly was insisting it wasn’t necessary. Sherlock had the feeling she wanted to give the two of them space, but he knew Molly wanted her close so he slipped her listings in Molly’s neighborhood to look at.
“You know, you can stop trying to move out,” he said, flipping through a magazine in the waiting room. “I can go back to Baker Street eventually if need be but really, Molly doesn’t mind us there. But even if she minded me, I know she wants to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’m not going anywhere, Sherlock,” she said with a chuckle. “For now. I mean, after I have the baby it may be different, but at least for the rest of the pregnancy, I’m staying with Molly. And don’t you think of going to Baker Street, mister. You’ll get into too much trouble.”
He thought back to his first NA meeting that he’d gone to with Lestrade that Mycroft had found for them with some more privacy as to who they were. He hadn’t been one for meetings, but knowing Lestrade was by his side had helped. “No, I have no plans to get into that sort of trouble, I promise.”
“Did you ever solve that old case in your dreams?” she asked.
He frowned. “Which one?”
“Ricoletti, I think.”
“I did,” he said with a nod. “Why?”
“If you did, it could be worth presenting as an unsolved case, if the people that you dreamt of actually existed as did the league of scorned women. It could be something I’d be interested in writing up.”
He set the magazine down and turned to her. “You write?”
“Not as well as John, but I was an English major in uni. I was thinking about it last night and perhaps I could write the case up as a true crime novel, give me something to do so I’m not bored out of my mind. You and I can work on it together with what’s actual reality and not the fiction in your head.”
Sherlock thought it over for a moment and then nodded. “I think that sounds like a good idea, so long as you’ll help me with other cases as well. You don’t need to blog about them as John did, but I’d appreciate a mind like yours by my side.”
“And my skillset, too?” she asked, her eyes sparkling.
“That is a definite bonus,” he said with a soft smile as her name was called. They two of them got up and made their way into the exam room. The doctor joined them moments later and Mary explained she and John were no longer going to be in this together and Sherlock would be taking his place, along with the woman who would be the godmother. The doctor nodded and asked if it would be alright to schedule a few extra appointments to make sure no form of pre-partum depression set in, and Mary agreed. Then the doctor examined her and, much to Sherlock’s surprise, got out a monitor that allowed them to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. He did not miss the warm smile and misty eyes that Mary had at the wonderstruck expression on his face.
They left and went out to have lunch afterward, and she linked her arms with his. “So. You heard the heartbeat. You can’t leave now.”
She nodded. “He didn’t have the same look you had. I mean, he was in awe, but you were just so...” She pulled her arm away and waved her hands in front of her. “Like it was the most beautiful thing you’d ever heard.”
“Well, I feel as though I already know her, if it is a her.”
“I have the feeling it is a girl,” Mary said with a smile, taking his arm again. “But this time, I’m not going to be selfish and name her Rosamund. No, no, that’s something that speaks poorly of me. Maybe Molly’s middle name?”
“Elizabeth,” he said.
“And something for you...Sherlock doesn’t sound much like a girl’s name.”
He chuckled. “I tried to convince John of the fact in my mind palace. But no, my full name is William Sherlock Scott Holmes. So perhaps Wilhelmina?”
“Elizabeth Wilhelmina Morstan,” Mary said, seeing how it sounded altogether. “I like it. And then if it’s a boy, perhaps something with William or Scott as a middle name.”
“I think that sounds good,” Sherlock said. “Either way, the baby will be well-loved.”
“I know,” she said, patting his arm and leaning into him as they walked. “Just as I know I’m well-loved.”
“You are,” he said with a smile. “And hopefully you’ll find happiness knowing that.”
“You really have changed from what I gather, Sherlock. I like this new you.” As they got to the cafe where they were going to eat, she leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You should keep it.”
“I’m planning to,” he said before opening the door for them. If she noticed it, and Mary noticed it, hopefully, others would as well. And that made him think there was one person he owed an apology to that he should give it in person to as soon as he could...
As he was well enough to travel but not well enough to deal with the hassles of a train or the personal invasiveness of a cabbie for such a long trip, especially considering who he was planning on seeing, he asked his brother to arrange a private car for him. He had expected Mycroft to scoff, to say that Janine Hawkins had done her damage and it was best to forget it, but things had played out much the same in reality as his dream, aside from the hospital visit being much later and less satisfaction on her part.
Well, she deserved some satisfaction in all this, even if the rumours could and possibly should have been enough. He had done her wrong and he deserved whatever she wanted to mete out to him.
He had called ahead of time to make sure dropping in on her at her cottage would be fine with her. She had been surprised by the call but not hostile, so that had boded well. When he arrived the first thing he saw was a garden that would be a bee’s dream off to the side, and she could see he saw a few of the insects buzzing around the flowers as he got out. “There are a few hives in the back,” she said warmly as he got out. “I should hit you, you know.”
“You absolutely should. Just avoid the midsection; it’s still tender,” he replied. “So I take it we’re even?”
“Well, I was upset for a bit at what Mary had done, to both me and you. but while you were in the coma she came and explained personally and apologized. I suppose by the time I talked to you I was still trying to piece it all together, to see what were lies and what was the truth, and there were so many lies. It still hurt.”
“I know, and I apologize for the ones I perpetrated,” he said.
“Well, yours at least gave me some financial freedom I thought I might never have,” she said. “And hers gave me an altogether different sort of freedom. No one has dealings with Charles on their own terms, ever. Not even me.”
“He held a secret over you?” Sherlock asked, surprised he hadn’t sussed it out before in his dream state.
She nodded. “My family is quite important to me, but they are also quite Catholic. And I had an abortion with a certain politician’s child when he ended my employment with him after I got preggers. Adultery and abortion would have kept my family from speaking to me, and Charles used that to his advantage. I had to spy on Mary for him, and she used the friendship, and then there was you and I knew you preferred Molly over me...but I wanted it to work.”
He was surprised. “You knew?”
“Oh, all those death glares at the reception you kept throwing at her fiance? The way you talked about her constantly and the help she did? Oh, love, it was obvious.” She put a hand on his arm. “And you’re with her now, according to Mary. Good. You deserve someone who cares more than I did, who truly loves you.”
“You don’t need to be...” He gestured.
“You were in a coma where you did your thinking and changing. I was here,” she said, gesturing to the cottage behind them. “And I’ve brought my friends closer, even Mary. I think we’re better friends now, all things considered. And maybe you’ll be in that circle too if you’d like.” She moved her hand to slip her arm through his and then patted his arm. “Let’s go in and see if we can have some tea and try for a real friendship. I think before the lies started, we were interested in one of those?”
Momentarily perplexed, he snapped out of it and nodded. “I think a friendship with you would be lovely, Janine.”
“Good. I was hoping you’d say that because I know you love bees and I need someone to check on my hives periodically. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them when I knew you’d find them interesting.”
“Thank you,” he said, finally giving her the same warm smile she’d given him when they got out. It appeared he wasn’t the only one who had taken the time to sort out just what was worth what in life, and perhaps this would be a very good thing in the end.