She was in the lab, and over the stinging scent of formaldehyde, she smelled him.
The cologne he wore was much too old for a man his age, and he'd been smoking—again. Molly spun around, away from the corpse at her fingertips, but he wasn't there, of course. Had not been, for two years. Yet she caught Sherlock's scent all the time; his scent was a poltergeist in the lab, followed her everywhere, it seemed. Made her miss him.
Molly knew he wasn't dead, of course, not like John—poor John who came to her, days after it happened, and begged her to tell him if she knew anything.
Did he talk to you before it happened?
Did you help him in anyway?
Is he alive, Molly? Tell me, damn it, is he alive?
She never knew she was a good liar until that day. She surprised herself greatly when instead of sputtering under the pressure of John Watson's inquiries, she began to cry. She cried, and John thought she cried because Sherlock was dead. Instead, she cried because he was gone, and although he had never been—would never be—hers, she missed him, already.
Missed his hair, his eyes, his hands.
Missed the crinkle between his eyebrows and his infuriating smirk.
Missed his scent—the scent that now floated around her like a cloud of poisonous smoke.
Molly turned back to her corpse, back to her work. She sighed. She hummed to herself. She was too tired to talk to the dead bodies, like she usually did when she was bored or just thinking of him.
She had full-on conversations with them …
What do you suppose Sherlock is up to today?
Do you suppose he's eating? Sleeping?
Do you suppose he's still alive?
And at that, she always trembled, because although she knew he did not die from a fall off the hospital roof, there was no way to know if he was still alive. It wasn't as if Sherlock was one for postcards.
Two years, two years …
Molly hummed to herself: a horrible eighties tune, "Walking on Sunshine."
Then, she turned to grab forceps and ran into a tall man's chest.
"Oh," she said. She took off her protective eyewear and looked up at the face of Sherlock Holmes. "Hello."
"Molly," he said.
She put the safety glasses on a silver tray by her elbow. She looked away from him and pulled off one rubber glove, then … the other. "So you're back?" she said.
She nodded. "Okay." She turned away, moved toward the sink to wash her hands, but his hand found her elbow.
He said her name again: "Molly."
She could feel the warmth of his fingers through her thin lab coat.
So he was real after all.
She whispered, "Sherlock," and with no fear of judgment or dread of embarrassment, she threw her skinny arms around his neck and shoved her face against his cheek.
She hugged him hard. She squeezed his shoulders and rubbed her nose against the side of his face. She buried her hands in his hair. She kissed his eyes, his cheeks, and his neck. She grabbed onto the front of his coat and nuzzled her face into the fabric.
His smell—Sherlock's smell!—was everywhere, and she hoped she would smell him on her skin forever, forever, forever …
When she finally pulled away, she looked up at him and didn't give a shit if he made a snide remark or even slapped her across the face. But when she looked up at Sherlock, there was no snide smirk. He looked like a man who'd been through a windstorm. His hair stood in odd angles; his cheeks were pink; and his jacket almost fell from his shoulders.
Molly pulled on her lab coat. "Okay then. Have you been to see John?"
"Not yet," he said.
She nodded and then began to cry. The tears were small, barely a thimble-full, and she closed her eyes against them until her eyes burnt.
"Why are you crying?"
She opened her eyes but stared only at his feet. She noticed his shoes were new, shined like the hood of a show car. "I don't know," she said.
But then he moved too close for her to stare at his shoes. She could only see the white of the dress shirt beneath his coat. She played with her fingers, wound into knots in front of her, until she felt his hand on her face. Her entire head seemed magnetized to his flesh; she leaned against him like a cat against a couch.
"My God. What have I done?"
She leaned away from him, shook her head. "No, it's …" She continued to shake her head. "I'm being stupid really. I knew all along you weren't dead. I'm just stupid, stupid …"
She fiddled with her fingers. "I guess I just … how would I know if something happened? If you got hurt? How would I know to tell John you really weren't coming back? Never again. Again."
"Just ignore me. Really, I'm fine. Everything's fine now. Yes?" She looked up at him, begging.
His hand found her face again, and this time, he bowed to her height and kissed her. She'd felt his lips once before, fleeting, soft, at Christmas years ago, right after he'd made her feel a fool. Although she hated to admit it, she'd spent nights thinking about the way his lips had felt for that one fleeting moment.
Now, she had his lips pressed against her mouth, and she leaned up on her toes to kiss him back. She put her hand on his face and mirrored his gesture—but no matter how glorious it felt (his lips, his mouth, his tongue), a tear still managed to escape her eye and roll down her cheek until saltiness coated their kiss.
Sherlock pulled away and looked into her eyes, and the more he looked at her, the more she cried, because my God, how had she lived so long without this annoying prat? How had she gone on day after day without his strange requests and complaints about coffee? How had she survived without his scent?
This time, his arms found her and pulled her into the folds of his winter coat. Her hands found their way under the fabric. She clutched to the soft material of his dress shirt, and she quietly cried with her face against his chest. He held her, one arm around her shoulders, the other cradling the back of her head. His thumb touched her ear, and his mouth moved against her forehead: "I'm sorry I hurt you, Molly Hooper."
Over time, her breathing calmed. The tears stopped, only too late to save the dress shirt from being soaked through. No matter; she happily leaned against the dampness of Sherlock's clothing and listened to his heartbeat.
Yes, he was alive.
Yes, he was back.
And for the first time, Molly realized Sherlock Holmes smelled like home.