He wasn't being completely selfish. It wasn't all about him, despite the fact that he was taking what could rightly be called the easy way out. Sherlock was definitely also thinking of Molly Hooper, and how she could most easily pick up with her life and move swiftly along once this whole thing was over and he was truly gone.
It had all gone so very differently from how he'd expected before Christmas.
As Sherlock was loaded into one of Mycroft's vehicles and the handcuffs were removed, he thought about the first message he'd left on her voicemail, well before Christmas.
"Hello, Molly. I realize you're busy at the moment, but I thought you'd like to know that the whole business with the drugs is well in the past. Its purpose was served and it accomplished what I needed it to, but it certainly is not a path I am continuing on. It was a means to an end, just as I told you all in the lab. In fact, it is about to come to a very successful end, if I do say so myself. No need to respond, Molly, but I will be in touch soon!"
Oh yes, he's been awfully confident when he'd called that day, really only caring about making sure she knew that he'd had everything completely in hand all along, and that nothing was going to ruin that now.
He'd left another voicemail right before Christmas. He was still just as mistakenly confident, but that hadn't been what was on his mind when he left that message.
"Molly, I…wanted to tell you that I'll stop by and see you very soon. I have to take care of something first, but then I think we should…talk. There's nothing wrong, but I- well, anyway, after the holidays with my parents, things will have settled down rather drastically and I'll have time to think about…other things…afternoon, Molly."
Sherlock's face fell as he looked out the window of the car that carried him down the London streets…these streets that he'd likely never set eyes on again. How different it all was, afterwards. The messages they'd let him send to her during those days in prison still play in his mind.
"Hello, it's Sherlock. I'm sure you don't recognize the number, understandably since this is a prison phone and not my mobile…well, surely you've heard something already on this subject so I won't bore you with the details. I just thought you should know that I am fine and simply waiting for decisions to be made. There's no possibility of visitors or receiving phone calls, so please don't waste time trying to check in on me. I had of course meant to visit you by this time…not that it matters now. Things are rather different…well, take care, Molly."
The car passed by Baker Street, much to his horror. He'd hoped not to have to see it again. And he was reminded of why he did what he did with Molly. It would at least lessen the pain. How much worse would it be for both of them if he was forced to see her? Or to explain himself? No, it just wasn't possible. A clean break was so much kinder. That was exactly what he was thinking when he left her the last message, once again expertly picking a moment when he knew she would be unable to answer the call. It seemed like so long ago, though it was only yesterday morning, when Mycroft had finally given him the news.
"Molly, it's Sherlock again. Look, I just thought you would like to know that I'll be gone…for a while. I'll likely not be back to London in the foreseeable future actually. So I thought one last thank you was an order. I meant what I said all those months ago, you know. You do matter, so very much. And I do want you to be happy. In fact, perhaps you can consider this my final favor I request of you, and I know there have been so very many favors over the years…but indulge me, please, one last time. Molly, do please be happy. Please find and enjoy the happiness that you deserve. I will assume that you agree to do me this favor and please know that it does give me some comfort. Take care, Molly Hooper…goodbye."
Sherlock shut his eyes tight, no longer wanting to look at all the things he'd never see again. It was bad enough that he had to live it all in his head. And he still had to endure a final farewell with the Watsons once they reached the airport. Surely he should avoid any more unnecessary "last times" today.
A few minutes later though, Sherlock's eyes flew open. He knew the way to the airport very well, and they'd definitely just veered off course. Just as he was about to ask what was going on, the car pulled into the back parking lot of an old factory building. He began to scan the area for possible avenues of escape, since this could be some sort of planned ambush…
But as soon as his car came to a halt, Mycroft walked over from his own vehicle which had also stopped in the parking lot. The driver put Sherlock's window down as Mycroft approached.
"Not to fear. Just one brief stop before the airport."
"Why wasn't I informed?" Sherlock asked with a frown.
"Simple…because you would have refused."
The crease in Sherlock's brow deepened, but just then he saw a cab pull up next to his car. The door opened up and he saw a hooded figure get out and instantly open the opposite door to his car and get in the back seat with him. Then she pulled her hood down…
"Molly," Sherlock breathed, wide eyed. He looked back at his brother who gave him a little smile.
"She was rather persistent. I had at least a half dozen calls from Dr. Hooper just yesterday, till I finally got back to her. Apparently she got a rather telling message from you, which made her decide to reach out and call in a favor. And I believe that eventually you'll thank me…best not to leave any loose ends, brother mine." Mycroft glanced past him at Molly. "Five minutes, Dr. Hooper. Surely you can both say plenty in that amount of time." He straightened up and walked back to his own vehicle, leaving the back seat silent again.
Sherlock turned and looked at Molly. She's been crying.
"Hi, Sherlock," she said with a tight smile. She wrung her hands for a second before pulling her dark hood and scarf further from her face. "I um, I didn't want to cause any trouble but…well, you were going away and…I couldn't just sit back and do nothing, could I?"
The corner of Sherlock's lips lifted ever so slightly. "No, I suppose you couldn't," he said softly. Honestly, he should have known better. As if Molly Hooper would be content to receive a final ominous voice mail from him and never attempt to reach out and say her goodbyes…but perhaps that why he did it. Perhaps he knew exactly what she'd do, and it was exactly what he needed.
"Look um, I know we don't have a lot of time but, I suppose I just wanted to know if there's anything I can do or anything you'd like me to take care of." She spoke hurriedly, obviously nervous. "I just, I hate to feel like there's nothing I can do to help…"
Sherlock instinctively reached his hand out, grabbing hers and stilling it from the constant tugging at her coat button. He smiled at her slightly awestruck gaze. "You've done more than almost anyone, Molly. You've done enough. And as I said in my message, I don't need anything else from you except for you to take care of yourself…I mean it."
Molly looked down and chewed her lip for a moment before looking back at him. "So, this really is goodbye? No more London? No more solving crimes? No more body parts from the morgue?"
Sherlock's face fell, and he knew it was impossible to put on a carefree exterior, especially with her. She'd know, even if he tried to hide it. "Molly, I committed murder and treason. There is nothing left for me here, no matter how much I wish there was."
"I wish there was too," Molly murmured, and she stared at the seat between them where his hand was still covering hers.
The words left his mouth before he could reconsider. "There could have been so much more for me...here in London." Sherlock closed his fingers more tightly around her hand and looked into her eyes, seeing that they were beginning to cloud with tears.
Molly drew a shaky breath. "There always has been more here for you. You just…haven't taken it."
Sherlock inhaled his own deep breath and then let it out slowly. "Well, my life here has come to a close…so it all doesn't matter much now, does it?" He released her hand and clasped his two tightly together in his lap.
Molly suddenly shifted her body over to the middle of the back seat and grasped his face, turning it to face her. She spoke passionately, her voice shaking as she choked out the words only inches away from his own lips.
"Yes it does matter! It matters to me, and it will continue to matter for the rest of my life, whether I see you again or not! Maybe you don't want to be honest because maybe you think it's better to leave and carry all sorts of things with you without sharing them. But I promise that I'd want to know even if I have a literal minute left to spend with you! If I thought, even for a second, that you wanted us to-"
Sherlock watched Molly's brow crinkle and fresh tears begin to fall as he spoke the two little words that were so packed full of meaning. How could he have wanted to walk away and leave her forever without being able to experience this moment? It was precious, even being as fleeting as it was.
46 seconds left, and Sherlock decided that it would be keeping to the status quo by being just a little bit selfish.
He leaned forward and kissed Molly Hooper for the first time.
And he honestly believed it was also the last...