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Patient 23

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Molly first met Annie when she volunteered to bake for the children’s section of the hospital. She loved children and with her growing feelings for a man married to his work, Molly felt like children might not be in the cards for her. So, she volunteered to spend time with the kids who visited or stayed in the children’s wing is St. Bart’s. That’s where she met Annie.

The little girl was around six or so with a red bandanna wrapped around her bald head. She didn’t run around with the other children, choosing to either watch them or read a book. She reminded Molly a bit of herself when she was a little girl so she thought perhaps it would be a good idea to sit next to her.

Annie’s eyes were a brilliant blue-green that stood in stark contrast to her pale features. She looked at Molly, almost studying her, before looking down at her book on pirate history and closing it. “You’re a doctor too, aren’t you?” She asked.

“Yes, but I don’t work in this department. I work in pathology.” Molly smiled. Most children the girl’s age wouldn’t know what that was so she wouldn’t be too disgusted. Little boys would have probably found it cool, though.

“You baked the cupcakes?”

“Yes I did. Do you want to play with the others? I’ve noticed you watching them.” She motioned towards the other children who were now playing Marco Polo.

“They don’t know how to play with me,” she said. “They’re afraid I’ll get hurt. I’m Annie, by the way. Annie Brooks.”

“Nice to meet you, Annie. I’m Molly Hooper. But you can just call me Molly.”

Annie smiled. “Do you want to hear about the book I’m reading? I’m on the part about Anne Bonny. I was named after her because my dad really liked pirates.”

***

It became habit, going to visit Annie during Molly’s sparse breaks. They would eat together when Annie was allowed to eat and watch pirate themed shows or Molly would read sections of a book about pirates. Annie was like Molly in more ways than one. Annie’s mum had died when she was only two and her dad had been in and out of rehab since then. Her grandparents had been taking care of her up until she got sick.

“I didn’t want to bother them,” Annie said. “They visit sometimes, though. Can’t always because of how far away they live.”

It was because of her father that Annie was so fascinated with pirates. Molly guessed it was a way for her to feel connected to the remaining parent she had—even if she never saw him. Molly could only wish she had any memories of her own mother who had left when she had been around Annie’s age.

“I’m going for another round of chemo soon,” Annie says one day, looking down at her hands. “Gran and Grad can’t make it and my… my uncles can’t either.”

Molly hadn’t heard much about Annie’s uncles. She knew the oldest one was the one paying the hospital fees, but that was it. The younger one sent Annie the occasional card and possibly visited unless he had the flowers delivered. She had met Annie’s grandparents twice. They were lovely and were so happy that Molly was visiting their little girl.

‘Her father does love her,’ the elderly woman said after Annie had fallen asleep. ‘He just doesn’t understand that he does.’ The woman smiled. ‘I’m glad you’re here, dear. I know Annie doesn’t like bothering anyone, but she’s always really happy when you visit. You’re all she talks about on the phone.’

“Do you want me to be there?” Molly asked, putting her hand on Annie’s.

The little girl nodded and squeezed Molly’s hand as tightly as she could.

***

Annie frowned when Jim came with Molly for a visit. The two were about to go on a date, but Molly wanted to check on Annie first. “Annie, this is Jim from IT. Jim, this is Annie.”

“Hello!” Jim smiled and waved. “Look at you, you look like a pirate. Molly says you like them.”

Annie’s lip twitched and she waved back. “Hello.” Her smile broadened. “I love pirates. Molly’s probably sick of them by now. Especially Captain Jack Sparrow. We watch him every week.”

“Oh I’d watch anything with Johnny Depp in it. I’m still coming on Friday.”

“Even if that weird detective tells you to run a test?” Annie asked.

“Of course, Sherlock knows I have a standing appointment on Fridays.”

Annie smiled. “Good.” She glanced at Jim. “Glad you’ve found a nice guy, Molly. Have fun on your date!” She motioned for Jim to come closer and he did. She cupped her hand around her mouth to his ear and gave a childishly loud whisper, “She really likes Glee so if you want to impress her watch that.”

Jim laughed and gave Annie a wink. “I’ll remember that.”

***

When Molly found out who Moriarty was, she rushed to Annie to make sure she was okay. Greg Lestrade was already there, asking Annie about the man from IT she had met. Sherlock was standing in the corner with John, whose arms were crossed. Annie was trembling and Molly was very close to slapping Sherlock if he had said anything to upset Annie. It was one thing for him to bully her around, but Annie was a child and didn’t deserve Sherlock’s attitude.

“Molly!” Annie opened her arms and kneeled up in her bed. Molly wrapped her arms around the girl and held her as securely as she could without crushing her.

“We’re all done, Molly,” Greg assured. “You’re a brave girl, Annie. I bet you could become a detective inspector if you wanted to with your memory.”

Annie beamed while Sherlock scoffed. “I highly doubt any child dreams of becoming something utterly useless.”

“Sherlock!” John chastised.

“I want to become a pathologist like Molly,” Annie said very seriously.

“I thought you wanted to be a pirate,” Molly smiled, glad that Sherlock’s words hadn’t hurt Annie.

“I want to grow up to be like you,” Annie said, resting her head on Molly’s shoulder, “not my dad.”

“We’ll be off then,” Greg nodded. “See you in the morgue next time.”

“Hope you catch him.”

The three men leave, Sherlock being the last to close the door.

***

“Christ, Molly, are you okay?” John whispers. She had been holding him for almost half an hour after she had told him Sherlock Holmes was dead. The ex-soldier rubbed his face and pulled away from her. “I know you and Sherlock weren’t… But you…”

“I’m…” Fat tears began to slip down Molly’s cheeks. Even if she knew the truth, even if she knew Sherlock Holmes was still alive, she couldn’t believe he was so close to not being. “I’m sorry.” She sobbed into her hands and John put his arm around her and held her close.

The two of them probably wouldn’t count the other as a friend. An acquaintance, probably. But they both cared for Sherlock. For John, the detective had been his best friend and had given him a reason to live again. For Molly, he had been the only man she’d probably ever really love. They both mourned together. John mourned the loss of the greatest man he had ever met. Molly mourned for his freedom.

***

“Miss Hooper,” a black car pulls up outside her apartment and Molly freezes.

Sherlock had left for who knew where the night before and Molly was afraid that Moriarty’s men were still in London. What if they knew he had survived? What if they knew she had helped him? What if? What if?

The man in the car watched her, analyzed her. “I was with Sherlock last Christmas to identify the body of the woman with her face bashed in.”

Oh. Right.

“Hello, Mr. Holmes.” The door opened and she got in the car. “Is…” She glanced at the driver. “Is he alright?”

“He’s fine.” Mycroft Holmes frowns for a moment. “Or as fine as he can be in this situation.”

Molly nodded and was quiet for a moment. “Does he need me for something?”

“My brother thought it appropriate to make a will, he actually made two. One will be the one executed publicly and the second one is the real one, which only you will reap the benefits.”

Molly blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“My brother has willed something to you he had no right to will over.” The British Government continued. “He lost his rights years ago, but I’ve been watching you Miss Hooper and, for all the wrong my brother has done in this situation,” he pulled out a folded piece of paper, “I think my brother made the right choice.”

She unfolded the piece of paper and gasped as she read through it.

‘If, for any reason, I am never able to pick up my duties as a father and it is necessary to appoint a guardian, I appoint Dr. Molly Hooper as guardian to my daughter Anne Begonia Emily Holmes. I trust her with my life and I trust her with my daughter’s.’

Molly looked up and found Mycroft still watching her.

“My brother lost his parental rights shortly after Emily, my late sister-in-law, died. My parents were appointed as her guardians, I spoke about this with them and they think you’re the right choice as well.”

“Annie’s grandparents…”

“Yes, they’re my parents as well as Sherlock’s.” He looked away. “Miss Hooper, my top priority is my family, but to be honest, my niece far outranks my brother in many aspects. She can’t be associated with our family, it would be too dangerous.” He looked over at her. “The fact that Moriarty overlooked you means that, perhaps, my niece will be safest with you.”

Molly thought of Annie and then looked down at the paper. Children had never been in the cards for her because of Sherlock. Now, because of him, she had a daughter of some sort.

“I accept.”