When they brought her into the Yard to make her statement, she was quiet.
Biding her time, really.
She answered every question calmly and precisely, as though she were in a courtroom witnessing for one of her murder cases.
She did not look her unhappy interrogator in the eye as he asked her questions he already knew the answers to.
Did you suspect that anything was wrong?
Did you think his behavior was unusual?
His behavior is always unusual.
Why didn’t you say the words immediately?
Because they were true. We all knew it. Him asking me to say them was cruel.
Does he have a history of being cruel to you?
Yes. He’s a relapsed drug addict. Of course he’s cruel.
Have you ever suspected that he was suffering from childhood trauma?
Do you usually accede to his requests?
Why did you ask him to say it first?
I was angry. I wanted to show him that he was hurting me.
Why did you say the words?
Because they were true.
The questions went on and by the time they were finished her voice remained steady but the rest of her was trembling. Greg turned off the recorder and buried his face in his hands.
“I’m sorry, Molly.”
“We do what we must,” she said softly, and stood.
She was quiet as she left the interrogation room, until she saw him in the room opposite hers, clearly visible through the two-way mirror. There was no one else.
“He stopped his own interrogation when you came in,” Greg said quietly. “I’m the only one permitted to question him, and he insisted that I be the one to speak to you.”
Molly’s breath caught as she looked at him, noting the stubble, the bandaged hands, the torn and rumpled clothing and bleak, haunted look in his eyes.
And she hated him then, hated him for drawing on her compassion when he’d torn her heart to shreds.
She stormed into the room, slamming open the door, heedless of Greg’s shocked exclamation. He looked up at her and rose to his feet, clearly startled. Some unnamed emotion flitted across his face before he settled into a more neutral expression.
She walked up to him and slapped him, a good old fashioned lady’s slap with all the force of her right hand behind it.
He had to have seen it coming. His gaze was clear, fixed on her. So gentle it burned her.
Choking on her rage, she slapped him again, and still holding her gaze he turned his head. Offering the other cheek.
She complied, and when she lifted her hand for a fourth blow he caught it, circling her wrist with his bandaged hand.
Still looking at her, he lifted her hand and placed a tiny kiss in the center of her stinging palm.
“I am so very sorry, Molly Hooper,” he whispered, and she burst into tears.
In the space of a second she was in his arms, the scent of blood and sweat and acrid fear filling her nose.
She didn’t care. She’d smelled worse.
She sobbed into his chest, her fingers wrapping in his shirt, his left hand stroking her back in soft and easy motions while his right came up to cradle her head.
He made soft shushing noises as he held her tightly, his lips pressed into her hair.
Molly was peripherally aware of the sound of a door closing; Greg attempting to give them some semblance of privacy, she realized. She cried out all her hurt and frustration, all her sorrow and fear and love. She was making awful, ugly noises, like a wounded animal—but still he held her. Crushed her to him, actually, as though he couldn’t bear the thought of letting her go.
Eventually, inevitably, she ran out of tears, and her wracking sobs faded into ragged breaths. And still he held her. When finally she forced herself to stir, looking up at him, he wore an unspeakably gentle expression.
“Sometimes I hate you,” she said, voice raw.
“I know,” he said. “Sometimes I think I love you.”
“I excel at many things, Molly. Clarity regarding my—my emotions is not one of them. There is an ache,” he said, and tapped the center of his chest, “just here. When I think of you. And the thought of losing you terrifies me.”
Head spinning, she looked at him and was glad he still held her, because her knees felt like jelly. She’d always had a weakness for his eyes, and that was without him looking like that. Like he loved her. Like he wanted her. She’d never thought Sherlock Holmes’ eyes could look like that.
“I think,” he said in a low, rumbly voice, “that I might kiss you now.”
“Oh,” she said again, and that was all she managed because he was kissing her and her knees had completely given out but that didn’t matter because he’d pulled her tightly to him with an actual growl and she was dizzy from lack of air and from some really bloody good kissing, and was this actually even happening?
“Stop thinking ,” he said against her lips.
After a small eternity they separated, and she buried her face in his shoulder.
“I still sometimes hate you,” she said.
“I know,” he answered, but there was a very definite satisfaction in his voice. After a moment he said soberly, “I will very likely still hurt you.”
“And you won’t always be able to kiss it better.”
“No. But I find that I...I want this. I want you.”
“You can have me. Always.”
“And will you have me? A traumatized drug addict with a psychotic sister and a dysfunctional family, who barely knows what the word love means?”
“So long as you’re a clean drug addict, yes.”
“I think—I believe I can promise that.”
She knew that this was dangerous, that it might blow up in their faces, leaving them both destroyed. But right then, right there, she looked into his eyes and knew that whatever happened, it would be worth it.
“Yes,” she said simply, and forgave him everything.