A laptop computer lay on its side, showing what I’d once been told was a blue screen of death.
Harry Dresden (Working for Bigfoot: Bigfoot on Campus by Jim Butcher)
A few things:
1) Who told him?
2) Did they tell him, or did they “tell” him? I mean, was it like “Ah, yes, that’s a Blue Screen of Death, that is”, or was it more like, Karrin smacking her computer screen “A Blue Screen of Death?! Now? You have got to be kidding me!” Dresden, poking his head tentatively round the living room door, “Blue Screen of… wha?” “Death, Dresden. Death. D. E. A. T. H. Aka, what is about to happen to you if you don’t get your olde worlde supernatural bullshit far away from me within the next 3 seconds.”
Also, please tell me this conversation has happened at some point: Molly: Damn it, my computer… Harry: My bad. Sorry. Molly: *sigh* Harry Dresden. The only guy in Chicago whose ass could actually break the Internet. Thomas: *spits out coffee* fsjkalkadjflad– Harry: ??? >_> Is this a reference to one of your newfangled teenage things?? Molly: I’m 27. And immortal. Thomas: –adsfhdakfaf!! As a point of professional pride, I just want to point out that my ass…
He stood up, brushing the knees of his trousers off and straightening his suit jacket. He resumed his position in the chair opposite Mycroft, hands placed together palm to palm, fingertips resting against his lips, eyes stormy under his furrowed brow.
What you must.
Sherlock couldn’t just tell her. He couldn’t tell her what had been blindingly obvious to nearly everyone for years. Because then she would know. She would know that her feelings aren’t one sided. For someone whom everyone sees as so small and mousey, Sherlock knew there is a spine of steel in her, and she is often times more stubborn than he is. She won’t care that his love for her will paint a metaphorical target on her back, that because of him she will be targeted by his enemies. He couldn’t put her in that position ever again.
What you must.
He knew what he must do. What he must say to her, to keep her safe.
“And where are you going, brother mine?” Mycroft asked as Sherlock stood, buttoning his suit jacket.
“To do what I must.” He replied simply, grabbing his Belstaff on his way out the door.
He knocked on her door. He hasn’t knocked in years, choosing instead to pick the lock or use his key when Molly finally gave him a copy.
But he knocked anyway. Best to keep this as business like as possible, because what he is about to do might destroy them both.
He heard her footsteps, sensed her looking through the peephole. He locked his hands behind his back, putting on his best I’m bored and I just want to get this over with face. But when Molly finally opened the door, his carefully cultivated speech died in his throat.
Molly Hooper stood before him, her eyes rimmed in red and puffy from crying, traces of mascara leaving black smears under her lashes. Her hair a tangled mess from where she had ran her hands through it repeatedly, and she wore her cherry patterned jumper and unflattering beige slacks.
The only thing Sherlock could think of in that moment was that she had never looked more beautiful to him.
He heard a small whimper from her before she launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist and sobbing into the material of his Belstaff. Sherlock did the only thing that made sense to him in that moment, and wrapped one arm around her shoulders, the other hand came to cradle the back of her head and held her to him, placing his cheek against her hair. He breathed in the smell of her shampoo, detecting faint traces of formaldehyde interwoven with the rosemary and mint.
After a moment, Sherlock shifted, removing his hand from her hair and pulling back to look at her. Her face was wet with tears; he could see a well of emotions standing out in stark clarity behind her eyes. Anger, confusion and hurt battled for dominance. Eurus’s voiced sounded in his mind- Look at what you did to her- and Sherlock had to tear his eyes away from her face for a moment.
He placed a hand on her shoulder and gently turned her around, leading her to her small sofa with a hand on the small of her back. Sherlock sat down, and Molly dropped next to him, her face buried in her hands. Struggling internally for a moment, Sherlock hesitantly pulled her to him, letting her cry on to his shoulder, one of her small hands clutched the lapel of his woolen coat, the other dug into the fabric on his arm.
“I am so sorry, Molly Hooper. So, so sorry.” He told her quietly, repeatedly.
By the time her tears finally dry, the sun had set and the flickering flames from the fireplace the only light source in the room. Molly pulled back and looked Sherlock in the eyes.
“Hello,” He said quietly, wiping at the tear tracks on her cheek with his thumb.
“Hello.” She replied, her voice thick from crying.
Sherlock studied her face, the way the flames from the firelight danced in her eyes, casting a warm glow across her skin. He shifted his gaze to the floor, intent on studying the carpet rather than look her in the eye when he says the words that will cause her heart to splinter.
“Molly,” He began.
“Shh.” She interuppted, placing her fingers on his lips. He tears his gaze away from the carpet and looks into her eyes, his eyebrows knitting together. The corner of her mouth pulled up into the ghost of a smile. “I don’t want to talk about whatever happened in the last couple of days. Not yet. I just want to sit quietly with you, just for tonight. We can discuss everything tomorrow. But please, Sherlock, please just let me have tonight.”
Sherlock understood what she didn’t say. Please don’t break my heart just yet. She knew the reason he came. She always knew, always saw right through him.
As always when he was near her lately, Sherlock didn’t think about the consequences, didn’t try to decipher the emotions that bubbled up in his chest when she was close. He just looked into her warm cinnamon colored eyes, and nodded.
Molly smiled a sad little smile, and extracted herself from his embrace, muttering “Tea,” in a low voice. Sherlock followed her into the kitchen and removed his Belstaff, draping over a kitchen chair. He stood awkwardly by the counter; hands in his pockets, watching Molly fill the kettle and grab a lemon from the fridge.
What you must.
Mycroft’s words wormed their way back into the forefront of Sherlock’s mind. He knew what he should do, but was it what he wanted to do? He should tell Molly that they could never be together, no matter how much they both wanted to. It was safer for her that way. She mattered most, and he wanted to make sure she would be safe. But he wanted to sleep every night with Molly in his arms. Sherlock should tell her that he wanted nothing to do with her, cut her down, tell her that the whole phone conversation was a means to an end, an experiment. But…he wanted to tell her the truth, explain everything that happened, tell her of the feelings that had finally awoken inside him. He wanted to hold her in his arms and kiss her lips. He wanted to repeat those three words to her over and over, every day for the rest of his life.
And that is what terrified him. He was sure he could handle the thought of cutting Molly out of his life, to never stand close to her again, to never fall asleep with her in his arms if it meant she was safe. But the feelings that had scorched their way through him as he said those words to her, and after, when he destroyed the coffin, obliterating the damned thing until it was just splinters and bits of satin, those feelings terrified him worse than any kind of criminal mastermind had ever dreamed of.
“Mycroft’s men came and swept the flat for cameras,” Molly offered, pulling him from his turbulent thoughts. “But I figured you would want to look around too.”
“I trust Mycroft.” Sherlock replied quickly.
No sense in telling her that he fully planned on combing the flat himself. He trusted Mycroft’s men with his life, but not with something as precious as Molly Hooper’s. Sherlock knew that he wouldn’t sleep soundly without making sure the Molly was truly safe.
Sherlock walked over to where Molly was cutting the lemon and opened the cupboard, bringing down two mugs and the tin of tea. He noticed his hands were shaking slightly, lack of food and sleep were not new concepts to Sherlock, choosing to go days without either in the name of a good case. But the emotional trauma of the last two days combined with those was catching up to him, and had nothing to do with standing this close to Molly Hooper. He thought stubbornly, as he glared at the tin in his hands as if it were all the tea’s fault things had turned out the way they did.
“I had an interesting autopsy the other day,” Molly tried again.
“Oh?” he replied distractedly, studying the label on the tea tin.
He knew she was trying to make the evening as normal as it had once been, determined to pretend that nothing was wrong.
Molly put the knife down, wiping her hands on a tea towel. “Sherlock?” She said.
He looked up from reading the tea tin. She reached out and placed a hand on his arm. Her eyes found his, and he saw that hers were full of worry. Sherlock put the tea tin back on the counter with a little more force than necessary and turned, patting her hand on his arm awkwardly.
“I’m sorry,” he sighed, “Tonight is a normal night.” Sherlock murmured the last bit more to himself rather than to Molly. He turned back to the tea tin, causing her hand to fall away from his arm. “Now,” he smiled. “Tell me about that autopsy.”
Molly grinned back at him, but the smile did not quite reach her eyes he noticed. He supposed his didn’t either. But if Molly wanted this, then he would do everything in his power to push the last forty-eight hours, the last several months, to the back, and lock them in a room in his mind palace.
Molly started telling him, in detail, about the autopsy of a murder victim. She turned back to the lemon and began cutting again as Sherlock prepared the mugs. When the kettle boiled, he poured the hot water into the mugs, handing one to her and following her into the lounge. They sat in front of the telly, watching a rerun of one of Molly’s favorite shows and chatting about everything from her autopsies to Rosie. They were both very careful to never once mention Mary, or Sherlock’s relapse, or anything that had happened in the last few months. To anyone looking in, it was just a normal night between two friends: hot tea, crap telly and good conversation.
When Molly finished her tea and placed the mug on the coffee table, Sherlock held out his arm, inviting her into his personal space. Looking slightly confused, she leaned into his chest, curling her legs underneath her.
Sherlock stared blankly at the television screen, thinking about the conversation that would undoubtedly come tomorrow. How was he supposed to tell her everything, when he couldn’t even explain it to himself? Hell, he didn’t even realize he felt so deeply about his pathologist until Eurus’ game and Molly herself had made him say it out loud.
While he had been trying to sort through his feelings and what they meant for him in his mind palace, Molly had fallen asleep. Her head rested on his chest, one arm behind his back, the other hand curled under her chin. Sherlock looked down at her, brushing her hair from her face with his hand. He brushed his thumb across her eyebrow gently, taking in the way her eyelids fluttered slightly at his touch, the otherwise peaceful way her face looked while she slumbered.
A sudden, fierce emotion gripped him in that moment; a strong need to protect Molly. He had always felt a bit protective towards her, always trying to warn her when a new boyfriend wasn’t good enough for her. He had always thought he was doing it to be “nice”, because that is what friends do. Hadn’t he done the same thing for John? Looking back on all of those occasions with a set of eyes that had been opened to new emotions, Sherlock could safely say the simple answer was “no”. When John had brought home a new girl, Sherlock usually kept the deductions to himself; they were usually harmless. Stupid, but harmless. Besides “Jim from IT”, all of Molly’s love interests had been harmless as well, but Sherlock knew now that he always said such acidic remarks about them because he was jealous.
Jealous. He scoffed internally. Such a basic human emotion. An emotion he never thought he would feel in his life, let alone that he actually had emotions to acknowledge. Looking down at the petite woman next to him, Sherlock realized just how human he wanted to be, and how much his heart ached for it.
As always, a huge thank you to @forthegenuine and @mollyhooperish for being the best betas in the world!