A street in Central London. Early December, 2014. Nighttime. This particular street is lined with small offices and posh looking shops. Most have Christmas decorations and fairy lights in their windows. It’s after business hours for most of the shops, so the pavement isn’t crowded.
Sherlock and Molly slowly make their way down the street side by side. There’s no snow, but the winter chill is evident by the way their breathing fogs the air and by their attire (Sherlock in his coat and scarf and Molly in an oversized jacket and bobbly knitted hat).
MOLLY (hesitantly): It’s turning cold, not sure you should be out.
SHERLOCK: Statistically, loads more people die from being in hospital than from catching a chill.
Molly gives him a flat look.
SHERLOCK (acquiescing): Just a few more minutes, then we’ll go back. I’m fine.
He spreads his arms in a gesture meant to demonstrate that he’s fully healed from being shot and the subsequent effects of cardiac arrest but can’t quite pull it off and winces slightly with the movement.
MOLLY: Alright, but just a bit further. Heaven forbid John finds out you’ve decamped hospital without permission again.
SHERLOCK: He won’t if you don’t tell him.
They continue walking. A little further down the street, Sherlock pauses, ostensibly to study a display in a shop window, but in reality because he needs to have a short rest. The window he’s chosen to investigate belongs to a tiny second-hand shop squeezed in between a posh shoe store and a jeweler. A sign above the items in the window proclaims “Trinkets & Tiny Treasures”. Sherlock’s eyes roam over the jumble of mostly rubbish —mismatched teacups, nonfunctional pocket watches, rusted brooches, and odd bric-a-brac— searching for something interesting enough to serve as a feasible excuse for halting.
Molly comes to stand beside him and points to a small figure on display. It’s a taxidermy mouse posed on top of a tiny model skateboard.
MOLLY: The mouse looks good, but his position on the board is all wrong. He’s on the wrong foot and too close to the nose. Hard to balance and no way to control the kick like that.
Sherlock’s brow furrows and he turns away from the window to study Molly.
MOLLY (seeming to read his question even though her eyes are still fixed on the mouse in the window): I went through a rebellious phase as a teenager, so yeah… (she nods and turns to meet Sherlock’s gaze, smiling slightly) Skateboarding. It was the 90s after all.
Sherlock realizes he’s gaping, and snaps his mouth shut, turning back to look closer at the mouse. He quickly calculates that she’s correct, the mouse is indeed completely off balance and the shop owner has wedged a bit of cork underneath one side of the skateboard to keep it upright in the display.
MOLLY: I was always goofy-footed, but I could do some basics, kick-turns and the like. Enough to mostly keep up with the boys… (her smile fades and she trails off, caught up in a less pleasant memory)
SHERLOCK: Until you tore your Achilles’ tendon.
Molly shoots him a startled glance and he gives her a lopsided smile before continuing.
SHERLOCK: Injured and on painkillers, but still me, remember? I noticed the surgery scar and your slightly uneven gait ages ago. Never had enough data to deduce exactly how it happened.
MOLLY: Well, now you know. (Gesturing back to the skateboarding mouse with a smile) Maybe I’ll come back and buy him just to set him right. Plus, Toby would love him.
SHERLOCK: Toby would “love him” straight to death.
Molly laughs, but Sherlock’s breath catches on the last syllable making him cough. She takes him by the arm and turns to walk back the way they came.
MOLLY: Alright, speaking of death, that’s plenty of fresh air for you. Back to hospital.
About three weeks later. Molly's Flat. Christmas Eve. The interior is decorated for the holiday with fairy lights around the fireplace, garlands over the doorways and a Christmas tree glittering in the corner of the main room.
Molly enters and Toby greets her with a meow as she sheds her jacket and bag by the door. She heads into the kitchen and flips on the light, then stops short at what she sees.
Sitting on her breakfast bar is the skateboarding taxidermy mouse she and Sherlock discovered in the shop window three weeks prior. The mouse’s stance and riding position have been corrected so that he’s now properly balanced. Molly reaches out a finger and gives him a little push, sending him slowly rolling down the worktop to the delight of Toby who sits eagerly waiting to pounce as soon as Molly’s back is turned. Smiling to herself, she pulls out her phone and sends a text.
Her phone pings back a reply and she and Sherlock begin a text conversation.
For what? -SH
The gift, Silly! He’s wonderful.
It’s not gift. -SH
What would you call it then, if not a gift?
Décor. Your new kitchen is entirely too spartan for my liking. -SH
Molly can’t help rolling her eyes before texting him back.
It’s to my liking, which is good because it’s my kitchen.
The conversation triggers an off-putting memory and Molly wrinkles her nose as she sends a follow-up text.
…and if find entrails in my Breville again, you’ll be buying me a new one again.
Only one way to find out. -SH
She crosses the kitchen and pulls open the toaster oven to find a sliced baguette covered in cheese waiting inside. As she sets the timer to toast the uncooked cheese bread, her phone pings another text.
You’re always peckish after a long shift. …Also not a gift, and definitely not dinner. -SH
Okay, right. Thank you anyway. It’s nice. Enjoy Christmas with your parents tomorrow.
Don’t remind me. –SH
Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper. –SH