In a way it had shocked her how easy it all was, to fake a death and then destroy her own life. They hadn’t even batted an eyelid when she’d resigned, turned out giving Sherlock the access to her lab so much was going to get her sacked anyway. The landlord didn’t care when she said she was ending the lease early, just told her not to expect her deposit back and went on his way. The only people she called friends in London were too busy grieving to notice her slip away. All it took were a few short days and Molly Hooper was gone and forgotten.
Except she wasn’t alone, she was now living with a dead man.
When they had come up with the plan, Sherlock had made it clear this was not going to be easy for her. She would have to lie to everyone, including John. That had seemed so impossible to her, to lie to the one person she knew would probably follow Sherlock to hell and back without question. Then there was the question of what he would do afterwards. He planned to leave London, obviously, hide in the country somewhere. That was when he made the suggestion. That was when he said she should come with him. As cover for him and a new start for her, after all with his reputation discredited her career was sure to be over too. Really, he just had the feeling that the two of them shouldn’t be left alone when all this was over, that they would need each other.
So that was how Molly Hooper found herself living in a house in the middle of nowhere with Sherlock Holmes.
It had been easy at first, there was plenty of money courtesy of Sherlock’s rainy day funds and as long as she had her car they could survive quite well.
It was the emotions of it all that started to get to them though. Together they had made the world believe a man was dead and left the others to pick up the pieces alone. One day, Sherlock disappeared with her car for hours and when he finally came back he refused to say anything. She wanted to berate him for going off like that, risking the plan they’d put together if someone recognised him. Then she saw his face and how utterly bereft his looked. For three days he said nothing, just lying on the sofa staring at the television. When it became too much, she begged him to say something, shouting at his blank face until at last he managed to whisper three words that explained everything.
“He’s limping again.”
Things got worse again when he read the interview Donovan had given to some paper on their website. She had decided to tell everyone how she had seen this coming from the start and what a terrible person he was, apparently now responsible for the end of Greg Lestrade’s career with the police. Molly hadn’t even known he’d seen it until she heard the shatter from the living room. As she ran in, she saw the mirror was smashed and Sherlock was cradling his bloodied hand. Getting him to sit down, resting his back against the front of the sofa, she hurried off to get the first aid kit and cursed herself for letting him have the laptop when she knew that interview was there. Sherlock said nothing as she cleaned his hand, barely even flinching when she’d used the antiseptic. It was like he was just numb to everything.
But that wasn’t true because as she bandaged his hand, she saw the tears falling. It wasn’t pain though, she was sure of that, it was actual emotions so deep inside of him that had finally burst through. With the hand bandaged, she shuffled round to sit next to him, putting an arm around his shoulders. He didn’t respond to it, she didn’t expect him to, but she just sat there and waited for the armour to go back on.
The mood swings were more erratic after that. Some days he would refuse to get out of bed, others he would stomp around the house shouting at the world and sometimes, when he thought she couldn’t see, he’d just sit and stare out at the countryside with tears running down his face. She was terrified he was going to do something reckless or that he was going to hurt himself. Eventually his behaviour came to a head though. Molly was trying to talk to him as he stood by the kitchen sink, staring off into the distance. He refused to talk though, which infuriated her. As her voice rose in volume, she didn’t see his hands tighten on the edge of the sink. Suddenly, he spun around and lunged at her. Sherlock grabbed her upper arms; his fingers digging into the skin exposed below her short sleeves, and pushed her backwards. She slammed into the wall, trapped by his tight grip and the fact he towered over her. His eyes were wild and furious, staring right into hers as if he could see right into her.
Then he kissed her. A hard, vicious kiss that made her mind go blank and her heart stop. For a moment, she didn’t know how what to do, but soon her own instincts kicked in. She pushed him back as hard as she could, which forced him to break contact. As he stood glaring at her, she slapped him across the face. Now they both just stood there breathing hard looking at each other.
Sherlock broke down again, his legs seemingly giving out from under him. As he sank to the floor and the tears fell, Molly felt her heart break all over again. She knelt down in front of him, her hands reaching out to touch his.
“I can’t do this,” he said at last. “I can’t cope with all these emotions. I need to feel alive again.”
His body seemed to fall forwards then, his head coming to rest on Molly’s shoulder. All she could do was hold him, her arms wrapped tight around his back.
“You are alive; I’m right here touching you. We are going to get through this,” she kept saying to him, hoping he would accept it in some way. It didn’t take long before he’d pulled away and had reverted back to his usual self, with his armour in place to keep everything out. With that back on, he just walked away, leaving Molly to sit on the kitchen floor without another word. As she sat in the bath that night, she cursed under her breath as she kept replaying it in her mind. Had she said the wrong thing? Was he getting worse? She didn’t know how long she could deal with Sherlock acting like this. As she examined the bruises forming on her arms from where he’d grabbed her and considered the ache in her back, she wasn’t sure how she could justify dealing with it anymore.
That night he came to her room. Molly hadn’t been asleep anyway, but when he opened the door she pretended to be asleep. After his earlier outburst, she didn’t know how he was going to behave.
“I know you’re not asleep. Molly I’m sorry, please, I’m sorry.”
His voice cracked as he spoke and Molly couldn’t help but turn to look at him.
“I hurt you, I shouldn’t have. I just needed to know I was alive and could feel,” he said it slowly. Molly sat up in bed and patted the space next to her. He shut the door and shuffled across to sit next to her. He reached out and took her hand, but didn’t look at her. “You’ve done so much for me, been there for me, I just need...”
Sherlock couldn’t find the words, couldn’t figure out how to explain how he was feeling.
“You need to know there’s someone there, need to feel someone close to make you remember that you’re not alone, need to feel something other than the emptiness and the anger.”
Molly squeezed his hand as she spoke; trying to make it clear to him she knew exactly what he meant. They said nothing for a while, just sat holding hands in the darkness.
“You can stay here tonight,” Molly said at last, finally turning to look at him. Sherlock looked back at her and nodded. Sherlock got himself under the covers and instantly rolled away from her. Molly stared at his back and tried to think what to do. This was not a situation she had ever imagined herself in, but then instinct seemed to take hold. She imagined what she would have wanted if she had had someone when things were bad. Lying down, she moved herself across till she right next to Sherlock. She rested her forehead on his back, placed one arm across his waist and pressed her knees against his legs. Sherlock had never had to share a bed before, but feeling Molly’s body next to his was like the most natural thing in the world. For the first time since they’d arrived, he managed to fall asleep for the whole night.
Sherlock found himself a regular visitor to Molly’s bed after that, the feeling of her pressed tight against his back the only thing that seemed to make his mind calm. During the day, he found himself reaching out to touch her more often. His fingers brushing against her if he walked past her, sitting close to her if they were on the sofa together and even going so far as to hug her back when she hugged him before going out anywhere. That physical contact was what seemed to be keeping him sane now. He wondered if this was what normal people felt like, if this was what he was supposed to feel.
When he came to her room one night and found that she was the one crying, Sherlock didn’t know what to do. Molly was curled up into a ball on her bed sobbing. She hadn’t even noticed he was standing there. Without knowing why he did it, he moved to the bed and laid a hand on her shoulder. At first she turned to look at him and then pulled away, her hands trying to cover her tear stained face. He sat back, totally bewildered by this and having no idea what to do. After a while, her sobs lessened and she rolled over towards him.
“Dad’s birthday,” she managed to choke out and at once Sherlock understood. He held his arms out to her, to which she sat up and gratefully let herself fall against his chest. This time, it was Sherlock who just sat and held on while she cried a little more. When she’d stopped, she pushed herself free of his arms and turned so she could lie down to sleep. She expected Sherlock to leave; it had probably already been too much for him. But he stayed. He curled up behind her, putting an arm around her waist and holding onto one of her hands on the other side. He was pressed right up against her, his head resting on hers. Molly wanted to push him away, to tell him she was fine, but she knew she wasn’t. Neither of them was fine, but at least this way they could be not fine together.
When they woke up, they found they were now facing each other. Their hands were close to each other, fingers brushing almost unconsciously. They were just looking into the other’s eyes for a long time, not sure what to say or do. Surely this was what most people would constitute as a relationship now, two people living together and sharing a bed most nights. Molly wasn’t sure what it was and Sherlock certainly didn’t know. Without stopping to question if it was a good idea, Molly moved a little closer to Sherlock so they were right next to each other. Then she leaned in and kissed him softly. When she moved back, they just stared at each other again.
“I know I shouldn’t have done that, but I wanted to,” said Molly in a quiet soft voice.
“It wouldn’t be a good idea,” responded Sherlock. But then he found himself leaning in to kiss her softly too. “We are two broken people hiding from the world. This won’t work.”
“We need each other,” Molly said, her hand grabbing his tightly. “We need to know we’re alive, we need physical contact, why wouldn’t this work?”
Sherlock held onto her hand as he lay there trying to process it.
“It’s simple really, do you care about me?” Molly asked. He hesitated for a moment and then found himself nodding. Now his feelings were starting to make sense, this was what it felt like when you wanted to be with someone. “Well I know I care about you, so why can’t we make this work?”
“I’ve never done this before,” he replied. Molly could see it now as pulled away his armour; he was so scared and vulnerable with no clue about it all. He probably couldn’t even understand his own feelings now, but they could figure that out together.
“That’s okay, we can take it all slowly,” she said with a smile, before leaning in to kiss him again. For the first time, Sherlock found himself kissing her back. Their hands were still gripped tight and they refused to let go. They couldn’t let go, not yet, not till they’d put themselves back together.