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Eventually, the adrenaline of the day wore off and they fell into bed together, literally. The flat they were in was something that Mycroft arranged – apparently at some point between leaving her in the morgue and waiting for John in the lab, Sherlock had found the time to call his brother and ask for his help. He’d hidden in her office while she prepared the decoy body and while she attempted to console an inconsolable John Watson. It had taken all of her strength to not fling open the door to her office and reassure him that Sherlock was safe.

He’d explained to her what would happen, what Moriarty was planning. He knew that Moriarty was convinced he had won this twisted game, thought he had all of Sherlock’s moves figured out. But Sherlock knew, somehow, that she wasn't a pawn anymore. She wasn't sure if it was because Jim – no, Moriarty – had some sort of affection for her or if he believed that she had served her purpose in his plot and had no further use. To be honest, she didn't really care what Moriarty thought of her. Sherlock told her she counted and after that, anything else didn't even matter.

They’d plotted for half the night, figuring out what to do about the body that would need to be passed for Sherlock’s, how exactly Sherlock would avoid becoming that body himself, how to make everyone believe their lie(and it’d taken every ounce of strength she had not to start crying right then and there as they planned exactly where John would have to stand to watch his best friend fall to his death), how to smuggle him out of the hospital without anyone seeing, and any and all of the little details in between.

By the time that everything was over and they made it to the safe house, it was practically a miracle that they were still standing. Molly could feel her limbs growing weak and sore, and she knew that if she didn't get some rest right then, she’d start to really lose it. She was certain that Sherlock was in worse condition than she was. Without a word, she’d pushed him into the bedroom and they’d both stripped down to their underwear (mismatched bra and panties for her, boxer briefs for him) and barely got under the covers before sleep claimed them.

She woke nearly 6 hours later, incredibly disoriented. The room had been outfitted with blackout curtains so she didn't know what time it was until she caught sight of the clock across the room. She knew that she hadn't gotten nearly enough rest, but she also knew that she wouldn't be able to get back to sleep right away. Carefully, she turned to the other occupant of the bed, who she was just now noticing had an arm slung loosely around her waist.

He was fine. He was breathing and alive and fine, which was remarkable, considering she had signed his death certificate about 9 hours ago. Resisting the urge to trace his relaxed features, Molly took a deep breath and carefully slithered out from underneath his arm. She picked up Sherlock’s shirt from the floor and buttoned it up, blushing intensely from the perceived intimacy of the action. Just transport, that’s what he would say though, right? Quietly, she slipped from the bedroom and out into the rest of the flat.

It was a nondescript flat in Bromley somewhere, but that was really all that Molly knew about it. Sherlock assured her that they would have nothing to worry about there and that everything they needed would be provided. She wandered out into the kitchen and rifled through a few cabinets until she found the kettle and tea. Letting her mind wander as she completed the familiar task, she couldn't help but wonder what was next. Sherlock had to leave eventually to dismantle Moriarty’s network, she knew that much for sure. But he had said that before he could do that, he had some ends that he could tie up in London. Would he stay here while he did that? Would…would he want her to stay with him?

She fixed her cup of tea, putting in the right amount of sugar and milk, and wrapped both hands around the mug as she went to go sit on the couch. She supposed she could have foregone the tea and gone back to bed, but it seemed awkward somehow. Sherlock didn't like to be touched and she was sure that he would be embarrassed and lash out if he discovered he’d been holding her while they slept. Yawning, she leaned back against the back of the couch. She’d stay out here until he woke up and then maybe she’d retreat into the bedroom again.

She’d sat in silence then, going over the events of the last 24 hours and trying to figure out what happened next. Her tea was nearly gone when she heard movement from the bedroom. Before she could think to call out, a rumpled Sherlock burst out of the bedroom, his eyes frantic as they scanned for something. Molly panicked, thinking that something had happened, and was taken by surprise when he immediately relaxed once he registered her presence on the couch. The fright that had been clear as day faded into slight annoyance and his lip curled up in almost a sneer. “You weren't in bed,” he stated.

Unsure of where this conversation might go, Molly simply nodded as she set down her mug. “Woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Made some tea if you want some.”

He shook his head. “No. My body still requires rest, as I’m sure yours does as well. If my touching you while you were asleep is what is bothering you, I will stay here on the couch while you continue to rest.”

At that, Molly jumped up and made her way over to Sherlock. “No! No, that wasn't it at all…you knew that you were holding me?” He didn't reply verbally, just gave her a quick nod. “I didn't… didn't want to make you uncomfortable.”

He snorted this time and Molly quirked her lips in amusement at the noise. “I need contact right now, Molly. Some sort of primal, human,” he nearly spat the word out, “need, if I had to guess. Except I don’t guess, I know, but my brain is not exactly in prime functioning shape because I still require at least four more hours of sleep and will not be able to achieve it without your body beside me.” He huffed as he finished his little speech and looked at her expectantly, before turning on his heel and walking back into the bedroom.

Molly stood in shock for a moment, looking blankly at where Sherlock had been standing. Her brain sluggishly processed what he’d just said…and a small smile bloomed across her face.

Sherlock Holmes had definitely just asked for – actually, make that demanded – a cuddle. She rolled her eyes and ventured back into the dark room. Sherlock was sitting on the side of the bed that he had claimed as his own, just watching her as she reached behind to close the door. Her hands came up behind her and unclasped her bra, pulling it off without removing his shirt. He watched in fascination and Molly nearly giggled, before carelessly throwing her bra aside and going around to her side of the bed and pulling back the covers. Sherlock finally lay down and waited patiently for her to climb in, pulling the covers up to her shoulders.

She was tense for a moment, unsure of exactly what Sherlock needed. But she didn't have to wait for long, as Sherlock gently tugged on her shoulder and pushed her onto her back. Much to her surprise, he then all but draped his upper body over her, his head lying over her breast, pressed against her heart, and threw an arm over her stomach. “You look nice in my shirt,” he murmured, his words already slurred with the promise of sleep.

Smiling, Molly tentatively brought a hand up and sunk it into his lush curls, just like she’d always dreamed about. Sherlock grunted in pleasure and pushed his head further into her ministrations and her smile grew. “Thank you, Molly,” he whispered, already half asleep.

Molly hummed absently and looked down at the man lying on her, his face completely relaxed once more. “Always, Sherlock,” she replied in a soft murmur, continuing to stroke his hair until her own heavy lids finally closed.

Chapter Text

As she slowly drifted back into the land of the living, Molly Hooper noticed a few things that were a bit strange. She was definitely not in her flat, for one; it was far too quiet. Another strange thing was that she seemed to be snuggled quite closely to someone…someone whose arm was still wrapped around her waist…someone who was most definitely the (not-so) late Sherlock Holmes. Stiffening completely as the current situation flooded back to her, Molly was so busy being mortified at having forgotten everything, that she nearly missed Sherlock chuckling. Nearly, but not quite. Her eyes cracked open and she was met with Sherlock's face looming over her.

Groaning, her hands flew up to cover her face, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "Please tell me that you haven't been just sitting here watching me for hours, Sherlock."

"Nonsense. I wouldn't watch you for hours, Molly. I would, however, watch you for about…17 minutes and 23 seconds." She peeked through her hands and saw that he was most definitely smirking at her. Figuring there was little she could do but sigh and accept it, she attempted to at least move slightly out of his observation range, but found that their legs were tangled together and his torso was nearly pinning her to the mattress. He was holding the weight of his upper body off of her, but was, for all intents and purposes, trapping her beneath him on the bed.

"You going to let me up, Sherlock?" she managed to ask him without utterly making a fool out of herself. Even though her voice was steady, she was quite certain that her face was about as red as a cherry as she said it.

He looked as if he hadn't heard her, and for the first time since she woke up, she realized that he seemed to be deducing her. Or trying to anyway. The furrow in his brow suggested that it wasn't going as well as it usually did. Molly felt a flutter of triumph in her chest – it wasn't every day that one confounded Sherlock Holmes.

Then again, this was Sherlock Holmes and it was just as likely that he was coming up with a cure for cancer but he just happened to be staring at her. And pinning her to the bed.
Pushing gently on his chest, she prodded him until his gaze focused wholly on her and she knew that she actually held his attention. Before she could repeat her question, he posed one of his own. "How did you know that I wasn't hungry?"

It was Molly's turn to furrow her brow. "Wh-wh-what?" Ah, yes, her old friend, something she had dubbed the Sherlock Stammer, had returned.

"In the lab. You said you were going for crisps and asked if I wanted some, but in nearly the same breath then said that you knew I didn't want any. How did you know?" She squirmed under him, but he didn't seem to notice. He was obviously intent on getting an answer out of her before acknowledging her discomfort over the slightly intimate positioning of their bodies.

So she shrugged, knowing it was useless trying to hide anything from him when she was the sole object of his scrutiny. Somehow, it wasn't as sexy as she had always imagined it would be. "You told me once that you don't eat while you're on a case. Besides, when you're actually hungry, your lip, it does this…this curling up thing. It's hard to explain. I've only seen you do it a couple of times."

His eyes took on a sort of razor sharpness that she usually only saw when he was about to solve a case and she couldn't help but smile at it, at him. He leaned in towards her slightly, his thigh that rested comfortably between her legs during this exchange suddenly pressed upwards and she gasped at the unexpected contact. Sherlock, of course, seemed not to notice.

So maybe being under his scrutiny was kind of sexy.

"People don't notice things about me, Molly. I notice things about them, but no one ever takes the time to read the little gives in my behavior," he muttered, studying her as she squirmed under his weight. She didn't know what to say, so she simply shrugged and let Sherlock continue to study her. "Have you always noticed these things about me?"

Sure that she was blushing furiously, both from Sherlock's revelation and the heat of his body against hers, Molly nodded. "Course I have, Sherlock. Not like you, no one could ever notice things like you, but…yeah."

He cocked his head to the side. "Don't sell yourself short, Molly Hooper. You notice far more than most normal people, that's why I only work with you. You're by far the best pathologist at Bart's and probably within the greater London area."

She couldn't help but giggle. "I'm also the only pathologist in the greater London area that will work with you, Sherlock."

He frowned for a moment and Molly was afraid that she had offended him. But his frown quickly turned to a small smile and he replied, "There might be that as well."

Without warning, he rolled off her and got out of the bed, walking over to the chest of drawers on the wall opposite. He rifled through the second drawer and pulled out a pair of plaid pajama pants and a blue t-shirt and quickly threw them on.

As he was dressing, Molly let out a deep breath, unaware that she had been breathing rather irregularly while Sherlock had been interrogating her. She felt cold without him lying on top of her, but also slightly relieved. Suddenly being the only thing in Sherlock Holmes' vicinity was a nearly overwhelming experience. "I'm going to make tea," he announced suddenly, as he was nearly out of the room. "Two sugars and far too much milk," he threw over his shoulder as he fully exited the bedroom, the comment clearly a statement and not a question.

Molly shook her head and giggled slightly as she ran her hands over her face again. She combed her fingers through her hair gently, braiding it quickly so it was out of the way. Grabbing the hair tie from her wrist, she tied it off.

She wandered over to the drawers to find a red pair of pajamas that looked nearly identical to the set that Sherlock had just put on, except in a much smaller size, and wondered if she should change. Wrapping her hands within the material of the cuffs of his shirt, she leaned her head down slightly and inhaled. The shirt smelled of him and she didn't quite want to give up that experience so quickly, despite the fact that she had the real deal just outside the room. She was short enough that the shirt hit her just an inch or two above her knee, more than enough to be decent.

With that decided, she wandered out into the flat, just as the kettle was going off. She could hear Sherlock busying himself in the kitchen, opening doors to cupboards and muttering to himself. Eventually, he brought two mugs over to where she was sitting and offered her one. Smiling, she wrapped her hands around it and tried not to preen as Sherlock quickly glanced over her form and smiled slightly at the fact that she was still wearing his shirt. He sat beside her on the couch, close enough that their thighs touched.
He was watching her again as she took a sip of her tea. She hummed contentedly at the perfect beverage and he smiled his smug little smile before taking a sip of his own. "Suppose I should feel honored," she teased lightly. "John's always complaining that you never make tea. He's not even sure if you know how to boil the water."

Sherlock looked absolutely affronted. "Of course I know how to boil the water." He turned quiet suddenly, almost folding in around himself. "I made tea just recently. When Moriarty came to visit me after the trial."

At that he set down his mug on the coffee table in front of them and rested his elbows on his knees, his head sinking between his shoulders. His hands came up and rubbed over his face and into his hair, grasping at the curls there in a poor imitation of the ministrations she had performed just a few hours ago before he fell asleep. Molly immediately set her mug down as well, feeling like a fool for inadvertently making him think of Moriarty – even though there was no way she could have known that his mind would go there. But then she felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her as she realized that she'd also just mentioned John. 'Stupid, Molly,' she berated herself silently, as she automatically slipped her arms around him.

Her head rested on his shoulder as she embraced him. "I'm sorry I said anything. I should have…thought. No, I just…it's just…" She trailed off.

It's just hard to remember that you're dead when you're sitting in front of me? It's hard to remember that you had to hear John's voice as he begged you not to jump and then you had to anyway? It's hard to know what exactly is the right thing to say to the man who just jumped off a building to save nearly everyone he cared about? All those thoughts ran through her head, but she couldn't exactly say any of them.

So instead, she just tightened her grip around his torso, until she felt him relax somewhat. He leaned back into the couch and carefully placed one of his arms around her shoulders, holding her close against his side.

Molly didn't want to stick her foot in her mouth again and Sherlock seemed disinclined to say anything anyway, so they simply sat there in silence, not even noticing as their tea started to cool. Molly absently began stroking his stomach, attempting to give him comfort.

The last thing that she expected was for Sherlock to actually start talking. "It was terrifying, jumping off the rooftop. I knew that our plan would work but there was still that niggling voice in the back of my head, telling me that I forgot something, that I always forget something. But I survived." The awe was clear in his voice and Molly squeezed him briefly to reassure herself of his words. "I won the game. But this doesn't feel like winning," he muttered, as if it was an afterthought.

"You're the most brilliant man alive, Sherlock. You'll dismantle the network in no time. You'll be back at Baker Street before you know it," Molly tried to inject as much optimism and enthusiasm that she had in her entire body into those few sentences.

"John will hate me," he nearly whispered, his voice sounding so utterly broken. "The only friend I have and he'll hate me when I come back, Molly."

"No," she said fiercely, enough to make him lift his head and focus on her. "He won't. He'll be upset with you, but he'll understand." A bit of the conviction left her tone as she continued, "And you have me as your friend, Sherlock."

"You'd never hate me," he quickly pointed out and she knew that she couldn't contradict him. "Why won't you ever hate me, Molly? You have had every reason to. Why would you risk so much to help me?"

She nibbled at her lip and avoided his gaze, knowing that all his attention was focused on her again. She thought about telling him how she knew that his insults were never malicious and how he was that way around everyone, how even at Christmas when she was hurt so badly, seeing the real contrition in his face and feeling his lips against her cheek had made everything all right instantly. She thought about telling him how sometimes, when she looked at him, she saw a lost little boy and she simply wanted to help him find his way home. But she was sitting here, curled up next to Sherlock Holmes, a man who despised sentiment, and those wordy confessions were filled to the brim with it. So she went with the simplest explanation. "Because I love you, Sherlock."

It was the first time that she'd ever said the words out loud to another person, and it was slightly terrifying that the person was him. She expected some sort of weight to be lifted off her shoulders, but there wasn't one. Apparently, the burden of faking the death of the man that you love and keeping it a secret from all of your friends while he goes off to take down an international crime syndicate far outweighed the weight of a confession of unrequited love.

He hummed a non-reply, but his arm around her shoulders tightened slightly and he tugged her just a little bit closer to his side. They sat in silence for a while, Molly didn't bother to keep track of how long, happy enough to pass the time listening to Sherlock's steady heartbeat and feeling his chest rise and fall with his breathing. He was solid and real in front of her and after what they'd been through, what he'd been through in the past 24 hours, it was a blessed relief.

Suddenly, Sherlock spoke up, his comment apropos of nothing. "Were you aware of the fact that you click in your sleep?"

It took a moment for the comment to process in her brain. "I what?"

"Click. In your sleep. I noticed it last night but it was confirmed for me this morning. You make this strange…clicking noise."

Molly scrunched her nose in confusion. "No one's ever told me that."

Sherlock shrugged. "Well it's true."

"Well you kick in your sleep," she responded, sitting up slightly, enough to meet his gaze full on. A smile appeared on her face as Sherlock looked absolutely affronted at the thought that he was not in full control of his body, even when asleep.

"I do not!"

"Do too. I'm surprised that John never told you."

Sherlock scowled. "I would have thought that you, of all people, wouldn't have assumed that John and I were a couple. Doesn't that rather ruin your romantic fantasies of me?"

Molly blushed and shook her head, looking down at her hands suddenly. "No, not like that… I didn't mean to imply that you and John…I just would have assumed that maybe on one of your out of town cases – I mean, inns run out of rooms and…" she trailed off, looking up to him and expecting to see one of his 'don't be an idiot, Molly' faces. Much to her surprise, he seemed to be grinning. Her eyes widened with a realization. "You were teasing me, you prat!"

He chuckled softly and Molly had to suppress a shiver of delight at the rumbling sound. "I believe that John would rather sleep on the floor than share a bed with me, Molly. For the record, I haven't shared a bed with someone in nearly 25 years, until last night. And you made a surprisingly good bedmate, clicking aside."

Unsure of how to respond, she simply snuggled back into his side, resting her head on his shoulder once more. "Wish I could say the same. My shins will definitely be bruised." He chuckled again and squeezed her softly, dropping a soft kiss on the top of her head. Molly blushed profusely and ducked her head against his neck, desperately hoping he didn't see. Of course, she realized the futility of hiding anything from Sherlock Holmes, but for once, he had the sense not to comment on it.

"I know I said it last night, but I want you to know that I truly mean it, Molly. I will never be able to thank you enough for what you have done for me. I know that if it wasn't for you, I would be dead right now. You saved my life, Molly Hooper. I will be forever grateful to you," Sherlock murmured, lightly stroking her arm.

Molly wanted to reply, but everything that came into her head was overwrought with Sherlock's hated sentiment. So she settled for nodding and smiling at him, and replying with a soft, "I'd do anything for you, Sherlock." It sounded almost desperate to her ears, but he seemed to understand the meaning behind it and simply squeezed her again.

"Will you stay here with me while I tie up my loose ends in London? It shouldn't take more than a day or two but…I find your presence…comforting. Much better than Mycroft's company would be anyway."

Molly couldn't help but laugh. "You know, he is your brother and he did help you fake your death. You can't hate him that much." She looked up at him to see his face, which looked like he had eaten something rotten. Giggling again, she settled back against his shoulder. "Course I'll stay with you, Sherlock."

"Good," he murmured, nodding slightly to himself. "Good."

Chapter Text

Molly called in after a few hours to the hospital, requesting a few days off. Of course her request was granted; her unrequited crush on the world's only consulting detective was well known to anyone in the hospital that knew her. The place was like a cesspool of rumors and drama sometimes. She texted Greg and John to let them know that she was going out to the country for a few days, but assured them she'd be back in time for the funeral. She didn't get a response from John, but she didn't expect one.

The entire time she kept her eyes on Sherlock, making sure he didn't just up and disappear on her. Something about this seemed so surreal, talking to others about his death while looking at him. After all that was done, she returned to the couch and lightly stroked her fingers through his hair. He was sitting on the floor, completely focused in the laptop in front of him, but he hummed his appreciation as her fingers twisted in his hair.

"Hand me that folder," Sherlock muttered softly, not once stopping his fingers flying across the keyboard, and his eyes not once lifting from the screen. Molly looked over to the stack of files to his left and assumed he was talking about the first in the pile. She reached across and grabbed it, her fingers briefly leaving his head and she grinned as she heard a displeased huff of breath from him. "First picture on top," he commanded again and Molly dutifully plucked out the picture, holding it up for Sherlock's inspection.

He studied it intensely, his fingers hovering over the keyboard, but did not move to take the picture from her. She had always laughed before when Sherlock would trick John into doing something ridiculous for him, like grab his phone from his suit jacket while he was still wearing it, but now Molly understood just how easy it was to get duped. "You're a prat," she muttered.

"Shut up, Molly," he quickly replied, but a small smirk on his face took the sting out of the comment. She laughed and shook her head. He gave a dismissive nod and returned to typing, which Molly took as a sign that he no longer required the picture. Sliding it back into the folder, she returned it to the pile, and sunk her fingers back into Sherlock's hair, happy to watch him work.

She didn't need to be touching him. But since last night, she had noticed Sherlock was somewhat more tactile than she had ever seen before. Probably due to that primal human need that he had mentioned. She knew he would never dare ask for touch so blatantly again, but he also never rebuffed her caresses, so she assumed they were wanted. At one point while she was fixing some lunch for them in the kitchen, he stood beside her - close enough just to brush against her but nothing more. She found it oddly sweet, even if he was somewhat underfoot because of it.

"I've texted Mycroft about Toby," he said suddenly, his attention still fully on the computer. "Informed him you would be staying with me for the next few days and requested he send someone to take care of your cat. I assume he will also take the opportunity to put you under surveillance, if you weren't already."

"Thanks," she replied, shocked that Sherlock would be so thoughtful. Only a second later, she realized what the second part of his statement had been. "Wait, what? What do you mean surveillance?"

"I assume he's already been keeping tabs on you, especially after I berated him for letting Moriarty get so close to you last year." Only then did his fingers pause and he looked up at her, her fingers still loosely in his hair. "I truly don't understand why so many underestimate you."

Her brow wrinkled. Her fingers slipped from his hair and slipped to rest on his neck. "You have too, Sherlock."

He was silent for a moment, pursing his lips. “I have underestimated you, Molly. But I swear I never will again. I meant it when I said that I’d always trusted you.” He held her gaze steadily and she fought the urge to look away. He was more than a little overwhelming sometimes. “I may not have always showed it, but I asked for your help with my experiments. I always trusted you to do your job correctly…I always trusted that you would help me. I have overlooked…what you are capable of. But I will never make that mistake again, Molly Hooper.”

She smiled at him and ruffled his hair lightly and then gripped his hair lightly again, earning a displeased huff from him as he reached up to smooth his hair, but did not do anything to dislodge her fingers. "That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Probably the nicest thing you've said to anyone."

He made a non-committal noise and turned back to the computer. She glanced at the stack of folders that Mycroft had left, biting her lip as she twirled one of Sherlock's curls around her fingers. "You might as well ask, Molly. I can hear you thinking back there. I can multitask," he said sharply, but not cruelly.

She bit her lower lip. Of course Sherlock would know she wasn't just idly stroking his hair. "What...exactly are you going to do? With the snipers and with the network?"

His fingers paused for a moment, but he didn't look up at her. "Do you really want to know?" His voice was dark and dangerous almost. She knew immediately what he had planned; he didn't have to say it out loud. The only way to dismantle the network so there was nothing left....was to insure that there was no one left.

"Everyone? Is that even possible?"

"I will have Mycroft bring in as many as possible, they could have valuable information. But many...many would sooner die than turn themselves over." Despite the fact that he had been rather successfully multi-tasking, he suddenly stopped typing, but didn't turn around to face her. "I have never killed a man before." There was a long pause, but Molly knew that he wasn't done speaking yet. "Will you still love me when I am a murderer, Molly Hooper?

Her fingers stilled in his hair. She knew she shouldn't. But she also knew her answer. "Yes," she replied, her voice barely a whisper, as she bent forward and pressed her lips against his head. "The type of people in the network...they wouldn't hesitate about strapping bombs to innocent people, to ruining hundreds of pointing sniper rifles at our friends. All for money or whatever Moriarty was offering them...they’re not very good people, are they?"

Something in her response made him chuckle as he leaned back to look at her, practically depositing his head in her lap. "Do you really believe that?"

She squirmed. "Sort of. Just....don't tell me. I don't want to know. Plus I don't want to have to imagine you fighting for your life out there."

"You will anyway. You're a typical eldest child, Molly." She was about to ask how he knew she was the oldest, but then quickly shut her mouth. He was Sherlock Holmes, of course he knew. "Is knowing the truth really worse than coming up with outlandish scenarios in your head?"

"Sort of." He sniffed slightly and tilted his head back up, going to work at his computer again. "It's just in my outlandish scenarios, I'm in control. So even if you're in mortal danger, you'll always win. Real life..." She trailed off, digging her fingers into his hair once more.

"What if I need stitching up? Can I come to you for help or will that be too much?" He asked, reaching over to the stack of folders for himself this time, plucking one from the middle and pulling out a document.

"As long as you remember that it's been a long time since I've stitched someone up who could complain, it’d be fine," Molly giggled, and much to her surprise, her morbid joke made Sherlock chuckle as well. "Would it be safe for you to come to my flat?"

"I would arrange something that would be satisfactory," he replied, setting aside the document and returning his attention to his screen. "I would not put you in unnecessary danger."

She nodded, even though he couldn't see. They sat in silence for a bit longer, before Molly started to get hungry. She unwound her legs from beneath her and disentangled her fingers from his hair. "I'm getting hungry. Do you want something? And I'm only asking because you need as much energy as you can get; I don't care what you say about digesting."

He chuckled. "Whatever you are making is fine. I need to take a break soon anyway; I can feel the strain on my eyes from looking at this screen for too long." Molly nodded and headed into the kitchen. Mycroft, or at least one of his minions as Sherlock called them, had seen to their kitchen in the flat, leaving it fully stocked. Molly was by no means a gourmet chef, but she could fend for herself in the culinary department.

She decided a simple chicken curry would be fine and after fumbling around the kitchen to make sure she had everything she needed, she started cooking. After a little while, Sherlock wandered in and hoisted himself up on a distant counter, watching her as she cooked. She hummed to herself a little bit as she focused on the meal, attempting to stay calm under Sherlock’s unwavering gaze. He simply cocked his head to the side a bit and continued to study her.

They ate slowly, keeping up a steady flow of conversation that nearly surprised Molly. She’d never seen Sherlock acting so…human. He seemed genuinely interested in what she had to say and didn't once admonish her for stumbling over her words or failing to express herself clearly. She gradually relaxed because of it, finding herself acting more like she did around other people, rather than the stammering idiot she became around Sherlock.

He returned to his work while she cleaned up (she supposed she could only expect him to be “human” for so long and only for when it suited him). Not wanting to disturb him, she took the opportunity to look around the flat. There wasn't much but there was a hallway that she hadn't explored yet. One door led to a closet, another to a second bathroom, and one at the end of the hallway revealed another bedroom.

Molly stepped inside and chuckled a bit to herself. Of course there was another bedroom. Mycroft was the one who set all this up, he would hardly expect his brother to want to share such an intimate space with someone. She opened up the drawers in that bedroom as well, seeing the exact same contents as the one that was in the other bedroom. Mycroft clearly hadn't been sure which bedroom she would take and which his brother would take, and so he had stocked both. She wondered why she hadn't thought of it sooner.

Quietly, she made her way back out into the main living area of the apartment, casting a glance over to Sherlock who was still working diligently. He didn't even lift his head to acknowledge her. She slipped into the bedroom they had shared and went about picking up her clothes and then went into the bathroom to grab the few toiletries she had been using.

As she moved her things into the other room and bathroom, Sherlock didn't move at all, other than his fingers across the keyboard. Molly sighed, debating about whether or not she should tell him goodnight, but decided she didn't want to risk his wrath by breaking his concentration. She readied herself for bed and slid into the new bed without so much as a word to the consulting detective.

A few hours later, she was woken up suddenly by Sherlock pulling the covers back and slipping into bed behind her. “Sherlock?” she murmured, her voice hoarse with sleep.

“You weren't in the bed. I tried to rest but found I was…incapable.” His arm wrapped around her waist and tugged her backwards, pulling her flush against his chest. “Go back to sleep, Molly.”

A part of her wanted to fully wake up and ask him what the hell was going on between them. She wanted answers. But the other part of her was still exhausted from the emotional turmoil of the last 48 hours and she simply nodded, placing one of her hands over his on her abdomen. She fell back asleep within minutes, Sherlock Holmes curled around her and was quickly fast asleep as well.

Chapter Text

The next day, Sherlock started to make preparations to leave the flat. He told Molly that he needed to complete some surveillance, but in order to do so, he had to be completely unrecognizable. She’d cut off his curls and dyed his hair a sort of gingery color and helped him pick out an outfit that would help him blend in. The day after that was the first time that he donned the disguise and Molly had to admit that it was good.

Mycroft had procured him the supplies to make some prosthetics, so Sherlock had spent the entire night making a few noses to assist in his disguises. Today he was wearing one that was much angular than his regular nose and Molly could see the slight contouring shadows on his cheeks that downplayed his cheekbones. He was wearing a grey t-shirt and ripped jeans, along with some boots. To top it off, he had some sunglasses on, hiding his ice blue eyes from the world. He didn't look a thing like Sherlock Holmes.

“What do you think?” he asked, holding out his arms and spinning around as she hopped up from the couch. “Think it’ll do.”

“Sherlock, it’s amazing. If I didn't know it was you…well I wouldn't know it was you!” she replied, laughing. Stepping closer, she inspected his contouring with fascination and he simply stood still, allowing her examination. One hand snuck up and she threaded her fingers through the now short hair at the nape of his neck. “I’m gonna miss your hair,” she moaned playfully and Sherlock batted her hand away with a smirk.

The moment suddenly turned serious as Sherlock lightly grasped her upper arms, staring intently at her. “I’m just going out for surveillance, nothing physical. I’ll only be gone for a few hours, I promise. If anything goes wrong, I put Mycroft’s number in your phone. He’s listed as Mark’s Bakery, alright?” His eyes gleamed wickedly at his last comment, but Molly didn't ask why.

She nodded and then stepped closer to him, breaking out of his hold and wrapping her arms around his waist. “Alright. Stay safe, Sherlock.” Stretching up, she brushed her lips against his cheek. “Good luck.”

He didn't say anything back to her, just nodded, and then turned on his heel and went out the door.

Waiting for him to come back might have been the longest three hours and twenty two minutes she had ever experienced in her life. She had started dinner for two, in hopes that Sherlock would be back in time to enjoy it with her. Just as the timer was about to go off, Sherlock swept into the apartment and Molly felt her chest lighten considerably. He was back. He was alive. He was safe. “Everything all right?” she called out from the kitchen, hoping to sound casual.

He popped his head in briefly. “Fine. I’m calling Mycroft but it shouldn't take long. Whatever you’re fixing smells lovely.” And then he was gone.

Molly had just finished plating up their meal when Sherlock returned and sat down. They ate in silence for a few moments before Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Do you want me to tell you about it or not? You can’t discern what did or did not happen just from looking at me, no matter how much you've been practicing your observation skills.”

Molly flushed and immediately looked down at her plate. Why did he always have to know everything? But then she shook her head and took a deep breath, looking back up at him. “It was just surveillance today, yeah?” He nodded. “Yeah. I want to know what happened then. It’s just when…when you have to start doing things that I don’t want to know specifics, ok?”

Again, Sherlock nodded, before he launched into his afternoon activities. Molly smiled as he talked; this was as lively as she’d seen him since the fall. Having something to focus on was helping him tremendously, especially since he knew it was all working to bring him back home, back to life.

He finished the tale of his afternoon at nearly the same time that they both finished eating. Abruptly, he stood up and grabbed his plate, before walking over to her side of the table and picked up hers as well. He took them into the kitchen as Molly sat in shock for a moment before following him into the other room. “You’re washing up?”

“Well, yes, Molly. I figured it was only polite since you went to the trouble of fixing me dinner,” Sherlock replied, far too congenial.

Molly’s eyes narrowed and she walked towards him, folding her arms as she got closer. “I’m fairly certain in the six years I've known you, Sherlock Holmes, you have never done anything because it was the polite thing to do. What are you after?”

Sherlock actually blushed and looked away from her for a moment. Molly had to really work to suppress her giggle at his actions, composing herself fully by the time that he looked back at her. “I want you to run your fingers through my hair while I work tonight.”

This was probably the strangest conversation she’d ever had with Sherlock Holmes and considering some of his experiments…that was saying something. “Ok, that’s…fine, Sherlock. I mean, I did the other day. Why do you think you have to…bribe me to do it today?”

“Because,” he said impatiently, gesturing vaguely to his head, “it’s not my hair anymore. Dark and curly. It’s short and unruly and ginger. I wasn't sure if you would still enjoy it as much, but I discovered the other day that your actions help me think and process. I didn't want my progress to be impeded simply because you were no longer pleased with the aesthetic of my appearance.”

This time, Molly did laugh at him. She walked out of the kitchen, leaving Sherlock to the dishes – there was no way he was getting out of doing them - before she answered him over her shoulder. “Course I’ll run my fingers through your new short, ginger hair, Sherlock. Just as soon as you’re done washing up!”

Molly sat on the couch that night, running her fingers through his hair while he researched, much like she had two nights ago. She read a book this time; she’d found there was quite a nice selection in the second bedroom. When she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer, she leaned forward and brushed a gentle kiss to Sherlock’s head. “ I've got to go to sleep. Are you…going to be sleeping tonight?” she blushed as she asked, but Sherlock didn't even turn his head to see.

“Possibly. Sleep in the master bedroom, Molly.” He paused for a moment, his movement stilling, before he turned to face her. “You should probably use the bathroom down the hall though. The en suite in the master is a bit…occupied.”

Molly chuckled as she got up from the couch. She had noticed that Sherlock had been slowly accumulating things in that bathroom to help him with his disguises and occasionally had some of his research in there. She prepared for bed in the other bathroom and then padded out into the living room once more. “Night, Sherlock.”

Sherlock looked up from his computer briefly. “Good night, Molly. I will probably join you in a few hours. Don’t be alarmed.”

She shook her head slightly and smiled at his strange phrasing, but then just shrugged and slipped into the master bedroom. She was asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.

They fell into a routine. Molly would wake up, sometimes with Sherlock beside her and sometimes not, and fix them breakfast. Sherlock was on the phone more and more with Mycroft, but he never let Molly hear what they were discussing. He told her that the less she knew, the better. She didn't feel the need to argue him on that point. Then, he’d don one of his disguises and head out. He’d usually tell Molly how long he assumed he’d be gone, so she wouldn't worry. And then Molly would hug him, kiss his cheek, and tell him to be safe. Every time, Sherlock would roll his eyes, but he submitted willingly to her gestures.

While he was gone, there wasn't much to do. She didn't want to risk going outside, so she’d just stay in the flat. She’d read and occasionally surf the internet. One night, after Sherlock got back, she had insisted on showing him a video of a cat in a bath tub that she had found while he was out. He hadn't quite understood what was so amusing, but chuckled at Molly’s reactions to the feline.

This went on for five days. Molly would always stay up for him, no matter how long he was gone. She always had to know that he was back safely before she could even think about going to sleep. On the fifth night though, it was nearly 2am and he still hadn't returned, and she had fallen asleep on the couch waiting for him. He showed up nearly an hour later and gently shook her awake.

“Sherlock?” she murmured, rubbing her eyes as she woke up. After taking in his appearance, she immediately became fully aware. He wasn’t injured, but he definitely looked worse for wear, and he smelled of gunpowder and blood. “Oh god, are you all right?”

“Fine,” he said tightly. Molly flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He sighed against her, burying his face in her neck, as she gently stroked the back of his neck. Gradually, he relaxed in her hold. “Molly,” he muttered against her neck. “Molly, you’ll have to let me go eventually. I need to shower and then sleep. I’m exhausted.”

Immediately, Molly withdrew and nodded. “Course, Sherlock. I’m sorry! Go and shower, of course, I’ll be in the bedroom waiting for you.” He raised his eyebrow at that and she immediately started to blush and stammer. “Oh god, not like that..I mean…just…go shower. Shit.”

He chuckled as he walked towards the bathroom and Molly sighed, rubbing her hands over her face. She was so much more comfortable around him now, but every now and then he still caught her off guard. He seemed to enjoy it too.

She had already washed her face and changed into the t-shirt (the one Sherlock had worn that first full day at the flat) that she had been using for pajamas, so she simply slipped into the bed and continued to read her book until Sherlock came in. Looking up, Molly blushed as she saw that he wasn't wearing anything but a pair of boxer briefs. She quickly marked her spot and slipped down under the covers as Sherlock turned out the lights and slid into his side of the bed.

There was an energy buzzing around him and Molly turned to face him. He was staring up at the ceiling, his hands tapping lightly but constantly on his chest. “Hey,” she murmured, reaching out and gently resting one of her hands over his. “You ok?”

Almost immediately, Sherlock grabbed her hand and pressed it against his chest, and rolled to his side so he was facing her as well. “Molly, tonight, I…” he sighed, frustrated. Molly squeezed his hand.

“It’s ok, Sherlock. If you need to talk…it’s ok. I can take it,” she murmured, scooting slightly closer to him.

He looked at her intently and she knew that he was silently deducing whether or not she was being truthful, whether or not she could handle what he was about to tell her. “ I've taken care of the snipers. They were my loose ends in London. Two of them I brought in to Mycroft, but the third was harder to find. I've been tracking him down for the last two days. I finally found him tonight and…he refused to go in.” He looked down at their joined hands. “We fought. He almost…he almost won, Molly. But I won. I won again.” Looking back up at her, she could tell that he was searching her face for something, some sort of judgment, some reaction…something, anything.

But she just scooted closer and brought her free hand up to gently stroke his cheek. “It’s all right. It’s fine. You’re fine.”

He shook his head. “I’m not fine, Molly. I’m a murderer. I didn't think…when I planned this, I didn't think I’d have any problems. I’d never cared for others before, why would I start now? It started on the rooftop, when Moriarty shot himself, I’d never… I've never seen it happen before. The blood and the… I've never caused it to happen.” Molly could feel him trembling and her heart broke for him all over again.

His eyes were wide and flitting all over the room, looking at everything but her. He’d occasionally close his eyes and take a deep breath before opening them again, refusing to meet her gaze. “Sherlock. Sherlock, look at me.” He refused and the hand on his cheek drifted down to his chin and forced his gaze to her. “Look at me.” Slowly, his eyes drifted down to her. “You’re human, Sherlock. No matter how hard you try to ignore it. And this is a human reaction you’re having. It’s fine. I’d be worried if you didn't act this way.”

She reached up to brush a lock of hair off his forehead, before drifting down and stroking her thumb against his cheekbone. He was still holding her other hand and he gently squeezed it, keeping it firmly against his chest. “You killed a man who was going to kill you. A man who’s probably killed a lot of other people. You’re not…you’re not like the criminals you chase. You’re like…you’re like a soldier, Sherlock. You’re doing what you have to do to keep people you care about safe.” She bit her lip, taking a chance with her next statement. “Sherlock…you’re like John.”

At first, he tensed at the name and Molly held her breath. But she could nearly see the cogs in his head spinning and only a few seconds later, he relaxed. He nodded briefly, before releasing her hand. Molly assumed that he was done with her now and she pulled back, preparing to wish him a good night. But suddenly, his arms wrapped around her, and he wound himself around her body, burying his face in his neck. Shocked, Molly’s arms immediately went around his back, lightly stroking and soothing him. He didn't say anything; he didn't do anything, except cling to her.

Once, she remembered absently as he continued to hold onto her, she had tried to convince herself that her feelings were nothing more than a silly little crush. It was right after she had asked him out for coffee and he had just given her his order. She’d worked for weeks to gather up the courage to do it and to be brushed off so casually had hurt deeply. For her own sake, she tried to convince herself that it wasn't love, it couldn't possibly be love. But now, at this moment, she knew that she would always love Sherlock Holmes. It had always been love and it always would be. And he could do terrible things, but all she would have to do was look back at this moment and remember how full her heart was for him.

Finally, his grip loosened on her and he pulled back just enough to look at her. “Good night, Molly Hooper,” he murmured, his deep voice sending a shiver down her spine as he leaned forward and brushed his lips against her cheek.

“Night, Sherlock. Sleep well.”

Trying in vain to calm her heartbeat down, Molly quickly turned her back to Sherlock and took a few deep breaths. She thought she could feel his eyes still on her form in the darkness, but she knew she was just being silly. Closing her eyes, she focused on her breathing until she was just on the precipice of sleep.

She could distantly hear the sheets rustling and felt the bed dipping, but tried not to dwell on it, her mind hazy as she drifted. But suddenly, there was a hand on her stomach, pulling her backwards, towards him, and she jerked awake. “I’m sorry,” he murmured against her ear. “I’m sorry, I just…I need you close. Molly…”

Cautiously, she raised her arm and threaded her fingers through his hair. “It’s all right, Sherlock. Do you…do you need to talk more?”

She felt, just as much as she heard, his sigh; his mouth hovered over her neck. “No. No, I don’t need to talk.” His fingers began tracing absent-minded patterns on her belly and she tensed slightly, waiting for him to make his next move. Most of the time, she had Sherlock’s number – she had him figured out. But right now it felt like an earthquake, the ground constantly shaking beneath her and she couldn't quite find solid ground. “Molly, I have to leave tomorrow,” he breathed against her ear.

“I’d guessed that,” she quietly replied, still stroking his hair. His other arm wormed its way beneath her and that hand joined its partner in tracing patterns, only this one was positioned slightly lower. She bit her lip.

“It’ll take a lot more than a hug and a kiss on the cheek to keep me safe,” his voice rumbled against her ear.

She couldn't help the giggle that escaped her. “That’s just…it’s just a silly thing I do, Sherlock. Superstition. I didn't think you’d believe in something like that.”

He snorted slightly and she giggled again at the puff of breath that grazed her ear. The first hand that had been tracing patterns on her stomach suddenly moved up to her ribcage, stretched out and exposed because of the hand currently embedded in his hair. She sucked in a breath and found herself frozen in his embrace. If he moved just an inch higher, his fingertips would brush against the side of her breast.

“I don’t believe in superstition, Molly. But you do.” He nuzzled behind her ear and, much to her chagrin, she let out a soft sigh at the action. “It makes you feel better. And I have done more than my fair share of things that hurt you…I want to do something that will give you comfort for once.” At that, he lowered his lips and placed a gentle kiss on her pulse point.

Her eyes fluttered closed at the contact and her entire body went rigid in his embrace. His tongue darted out to taste her skin and she couldn't help the moan that escaped her mouth. But her mind suddenly returned to her when his fingers on her abdomen edged their way beneath the soft cotton of the t-shirt and onto her bare skin. “Sherlock,” she gasped, her fingers flying from his hair down to grasp his hand, stopping his movement immediately.

She rolled over to face him, attempting to create a space between them as best as she could without falling off the bed. Her eyes had adjusted in the dark and she could just barely make out the expression on his face. He looked…intent. Hungry.

“Sherlock, if this is just…something you feel like you have to do…you don’t. I don’t want you to think that you have to repay me somehow…I don’t want you to try and give me this moment out of pity. I’m fine with never, never having you – god, that doesn't sound right either…” She sighed heavily and brought her hands up to her face, trying to collect her thoughts. “I don’t want you to do this because you feel like you owe it to me. You don’t owe me anything, Sherlock.”

“You’re wrong, Molly. I do owe you; I owe you my life.” His hand slowly reached up to her face, giving her plenty of time to move away from his touch. She didn't. His thumb gently stroked the soft skin of her cheek, moving to rest at the corner of her mouth. “But that’s not why I initiated this. You…you’re so free with your affection, Molly. You give me comfort.” He shook his head slightly. “I don’t understand this feeling. But whenever I’m around you, I feel like I can’t ever get close enough. I've tried and I just…I need you, Molly. Not out of obligation or pity or anything else you mentioned. I don’t know how to phrase it; I don’t know how to ask for it, other than to ask for you. I need you.”

They were both absolutely still for a moment – Molly processing what he had just said and Sherlock waiting for her reaction. But slowly, she inched towards him, raising her head so that their lips were just a few inches apart. “Ok,” she breathed against his lips.

He moved towards her at a snail’s pace, his eyes darting all over her, trying to discern any reason why she might pull away. She kept her eyes open as he descended towards her, trying to silently convey to him that it was fine, she was fine. Finally, their lips met. Sherlock’s eyes fluttered closed at the contact and Molly couldn't help but press her smile to his lips.

His kiss was soft, uncertain, but so lovely. She was surprised at how good he seemed to be at this, even though it was more than obvious that he was being incredibly careful with her. Bringing her hands up, she sunk both hands into his hair, just as she had done so many times before. It seemed to open the floodgates with him and he groaned against her, suddenly gathering her up in his arms and pulling her flush against him.

He was already half-hard against her and Molly squirmed and moaned in his hold. They broke apart, panting slightly. “All right?” he asked softly, his hands stroking at her back.

“More than,” she replied, a smile on her face. One of her hands left his hair and traveled down his neck, across his collarbones, to the warm skin of his chest, tangling briefly in the light dusting of chest hair she found there. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

He didn't reply, other than a soft chuckle at her expense and she felt a flutter in her belly as one of his hands stroked across her stomach and then edged under the material again. It slid around to her back, pressing her against him completely. His head ducked down as he initiated another kiss.

This time, his tongue traced her lips, asking for entrance, which she gladly gave. He was methodical in his kissing, seeming to calculate exactly the angle that he should tilt his head, just how far to delve into her mouth. It was pleasant, but Molly wanted to see him lose control, just a little bit, just so she could feel like they were on an even playing field. With one hand still tangled in his hair, the other brushed down his front until it grazed his cloth-covered erection. Sherlock gasped against her mouth, pulling away suddenly and resting his forehead against her shoulder as she gently stroked him over his pants. “Molly,” he groaned, bucking against her.

His head shot up and, as if in retaliation, both his hands were holding onto the hem of her t-shirt, swiftly pulling it up and over her head. He grabbed her hand and pinned it off to the side of her as he slid down her front, his breath causing her to erupt in goosebumps. She felt his wicked grin against her skin right before he took her nipple into his mouth. Crying out, she arched her back into him, to which he responded with a satisfied hum, before switching to her other breast.

Sherlock was hovering over her now and her other hand had fallen down to the mattress, both her hands clenching the sheet beneath her as Sherlock continued his actions on her breasts. She moaned his name as she arched her back into him, pressing the soft flesh further against his mouth. He pulled back and looked up at her, grinning wickedly as her fingers unfurled and she pulled him up to meet her lips again.

“I need this,” he whispered against her lips as they broke apart, his hands stroking her sides. His thumbs occasionally brushed against her cotton panties, plain and white and obviously not expecting this sort of action tonight. Molly was glad that the room was so dark and desperately hoped that he wouldn't care about the state of her pants. “I want this night to be something that I can look back on while I’m out there taking down the network. Something to remind to me why I’m doing it.”

His lips trailed across her jaw and down her neck, kissing and licking as he worked his way down. “Do you mean that?” she asked, her voice embarrassingly breathy. She blushed immediately afterwards, as Sherlock’s head flew up and his gaze pinned her to the bed beneath her.

“I have not engaged in a casual relationship, in any area of my life, since I got sober, Molly.” His hands came up to caress her breasts and she had to double her focus on his words. “This night will be a reminder of what I have waiting for me when I come home.” His shoulders slumped slightly and his eyes, which had strayed to her breasts, moved up and met her gaze once more. “You will wait for me, Molly, won’t you?”

She almost laughed because there was uncertainty in his tone. As if she could do anything else than wait for Sherlock Holmes. “Of course I will.” One of her hands sought his chest, where his heart was racing beneath his skin, and the other came up to his neck, seeking the familiarity of his hair. He moved up to her lips once more and she promised again, “Of course, Sherlock.”

She felt like the world was ending every time Sherlock kissed her. She’d waited so long for something, anything, any little sign of affection from him that to be overcome by his kisses and his touch now was enough to almost shut down her brain. She vaguely registered that he had slid off her panties and thrown them onto the floor somewhere and in return, she tugged at his pants until they followed suit.

Sherlock Holmes was completely naked and pressed against her, nibbling at her throat and moaning as he rubbed his erection against her. Molly smiled to herself. Dreams did come true. Sherlock broke away from their kiss this time, his eyes wild and panicked and Molly’s stomach immediately clenched in fear. “I don’t have…Molly, are you still on…” he growled in frustration and Molly was almost ashamed at the way her hips bucked up at the sound. Sherlock smirked down at her and then shook his head, trying to stay focused. “I imagine that it is polite to ask, but I am fairly certain that you still have your IUD, correct? And since you were last tested six months ago and have not had a sexual partner since, am I also correct in assuming that you are free of any infections or diseases?”

Molly did laugh this time at the return of typical Sherlock behavior. He was still the same man he was out of bed; all the blood rushing to his nether regions apparently had zero effect on his brain function. “All of your deductions are correct, Mr. Holmes.” She suddenly remembered an inappropriate text alert at Christmas and Sherlock recognizing not-her-face and stiffened slightly.

But Sherlock, being Sherlock, immediately knew what was wrong. His sharp gaze softened and he brought a hand up to her cheek, his thumb stroking the soft skin there. “You don’t have anything to worry about. I was fully tested after I completed rehab the last time and I was clean. I have not had intimate relations with anyone since. Even with her – long story there. Don’t want to go into it, not when I have you underneath me,” he muttered and she relaxed again, throwing her arms around his neck and pulling him down for an incredibly passionate kiss.

She actually squealed into his mouth when she felt one of his fingers probe her entrance, sliding in easily. He chuckled, pulling back slightly to watch her reactions as he pulled out and then pressed two fingers inside her, curling them slightly once inside. Her mouth fell open in pleasure and she whimpered as he stroked her. “Sherlock, please,” she begged, her thighs falling open for him.

“You make the most delightful noises, Molly,” he murmured, removing his fingers and quickly wiping them on the sheets below. He took himself in hand and moved into position, pausing for a moment and looking up at her. She smiled softly and nodded. Her head fell back as Sherlock pushed inside her.

She had always imagined that making love to Sherlock Holmes would be like trying to swim against an ocean current. She thought he’d have sex the way he did everything else, efficiently and enthusiastically and well…maybe a bit quick. She’d never been so pleased to be wrong.

Sherlock made love to her like she was the most precious thing in the world. Every single one of his movements was gentle and aimed at giving her pleasure, his gaze sharply focused on her face, reading her smallest expressions and movements as he thrust inside her. It was wonderful…he was wonderful.

Like she had so many times before in the past few days, Molly ran her fingers through his hair and Sherlock moaned, dropping his head to her neck. Every inch of her body touched his and his hands were at her back, holding her so close. He was all consuming, but Molly had never been more ready or willing to be consumed.

She came first, panting and moaning his name into his ear like a prayer. Her body went limp in his hold and he paused for a moment, turning his head to check on her. Molly giggled slightly and tugged at his hair gently. His eyes practically rolled to the back of his head and with a wicked grin, she tugged harder. Growling, Sherlock thrust into her, this time picking up speed until he was nearly pounding into her.

He didn't cry out her name when he came. But as he came down from his orgasm, his face buried in her neck, he murmured it over and over again. He slid down her body until his head rested on her breasts, the position so similar to the one they held their first night in the flat. Molly bent her head, as her fingers lazily ran up and down his spine, and she gently kissed his damp hair. She felt sleep overtaking her and she didn't fight it, relaxing in Sherlock’s hold.

But she could have sworn, just before she drifted off to sleep, that she heard Sherlock murmur against her breast, “Love you, Molly.” But she was probably just dreaming that bit.

Chapter Text

Molly groaned and tried to bat Toby away from her neck. He had this habit of sneaking into bed with her and…wait. Molly’s brain suddenly kicked into high gear, remembering rapidly that she was not at home so it couldn't possibly be Toby who was nuzzling against her neck and remembering that in fact, the warm body pressed up against hers belonged to Sherlock bloody Holmes. She squeezed her eyes tightly together briefly before cautiously opening them.

Sherlock had lifted himself up slightly so that he was hovering over her, much like he had been after their first night together in the flat. “Good afternoon, Molly.”

Her brow wrinkled at his words. “Afternoon? What time is it?”

“Nearly one. I wouldn't feel bad about sleeping in so late. We were up rather late this morning,” Sherlock said, smirking.

Molly rolled her eyes. The tone of his voice wasn't just normal Sherlock-superiority. That was the voice of a man who knew that he was a pretty fantastic shag. He was really such a git. “I do remember, Sherlock, I was there.” He bent slightly and gave her a gentle kiss. Molly noticed that his breath, unlike her own, was fresh and clean and she quickly pushed him away in embarrassment. “How long have you been up then?”

He shrugged. “I woke up about two hours ago. I called Mycroft and packed my things in preparation for leaving today. But I returned to bed before you woke because I figured that you would not appreciate waking alone.”

She brought her hands up to wrap around the back of his neck and she smiled at him. “Very nice deduction, Mr. Holmes. You know you didn't kick as much in your sleep last night as you usually do.”

Sherlock rolled his eyes. “My energy was also a bit more depleted last night than it usually is, Molly. You, on the other hand, clicked just as much as you have the past 8 nights I have spent by your side.”

Molly giggled and gently pushed on his chest, urging him to move. “Get up, Sherlock. I need to go brush my teeth so that I can snog you properly.” Her mouth dropped open in shock at her boldness and her face immediately flooded with embarrassment.

But her rambling and awkward apology was cut off by a swift kiss from Sherlock. “Do not second guess yourself now, Ms. Hooper. I do not regret our actions last night at all; I was the one to initiate intercourse and I enjoyed myself greatly, as did you. There is no reason to regret that. I would rather like to repeat the actions in the near future, actually, before we are forced to separate.”

She couldn't help the squeak that emanated from her. “What? Really?”

Instead of rolling his eyes at her again, he leaned down to brush a kiss against her lips. “Really. Everything that I said last night was the truth. I need you, Molly Hooper. And although I am certain that many think I am completely oblivious to the rules of social interaction, I am well aware that sexual intercourse is often viewed as the gateway to both a physically and emotionally intimate relationship. And I do not have any objections to such an action if you don’t.”

Staring at him with something akin to wonder, she managed to stutter, “You…you want a relationship? With me?”

His smirk was incredibly smug. “Well, as far as I know, we were the only two in the room, so yes, it would be safe to deduce that you are the one that I am willing to enter into a relationship with.” His expression turned serious. “I will understand if you want to reject this, Molly. It’s honestly idiotic for me to even propose it, considering what I am heading out to do. But you are…at the risk of sounding melodramatic, you are my lifeline, Molly. It certainly isn't Mycroft.”

She let out a little giggle at that and Sherlock’s eyes sparked in affection at her action. “Of course I’m not going to reject you, you git.” She tilted her head to the side slightly; her eyes warm with love and her smile soft. “I love you, Sherlock Holmes.” Her hand came up to cup his cheek, her thumb caressing his cheekbone.

Sherlock gave her a soft smile in return, far more affectionate and human, than she’d ever seen from him before. She was certain that he was about to kiss her again, but much to her surprise, he rolled off her and made a slight shooing motion with his hands. “Hurry up and go brush your teeth. I want to kiss you properly and your refusal to do so is ridiculous. I’ll be in the kitchen.” With that he hopped out of bed and grabbed his dressing gown from behind the door, before making his way out into the rest of the flat.

For a moment, Molly stayed right where she was and giggled. Sherlock Holmes had just ordered her to brush her teeth so that he could snog her. Her life was seriously mental right now.

She then hopped out of bed and grabbed a pair of knickers and one of Sherlock’s t-shirts from the drawer, noticing briefly that most of the clothes that Mycroft had provided for Sherlock were gone. He must have packed them away already, Molly reasoned. She then quickly exited the bedroom and made a beeline for the spare bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face.

Reemerging from the bathroom, she quickly made her way to the kitchen and smiled as she saw Sherlock sitting at the table, one steaming mug of coffee in front of him and another sitting in front of the chair next to him. She practically beamed at him and bent slightly to kiss him properly, yelping with surprise as he promptly tugged her down onto his lap and deepened the kiss.

“Much better,” he declared after breaking their kiss a few moments later. Molly smiled dreamily at him and reached across the table for her coffee, unwilling and unable to move from her spot on his lap, since Sherlock didn't seem interested in letting her out of his arms.

They spent the next few moments in a companionable silence, but Molly knew that it couldn't last forever. “What time are we leaving?”

Sherlock nuzzled his face against her neck (and she never would have guessed him for a cuddler, but was pleasantly surprised at his unguarded affection) before he answered. “I told Mycroft to fetch us around 4. He’ll take us to a train station where you can catch a train back to London and we’ll…catch one going elsewhere.” He cupped her cheek this time, leaning his forehead against hers. “I want to tell you, Molly, but it’s for the best that I don’t. The less you know, the safer you’ll be.”

She nodded, biting her lip and willing the tears gathering in her eyes to stay put. She never in a million years dreamed that Sherlock would be so absolutely lovely to her and she wanted to remember every single minute of it for the rest of her life, just in case… She shook her head at the morbid train of thought, refusing to indulge in it. She put on a smile and brought her hands up to curl in his hair, his blissful smile her reward for the action. “That’s plenty of time to…engage in certain activities.”

“Hmm, yes,” he murmured, as her fingers stroked through his hair. “Yes, I need something to help me relax.”

“Relax?” she questioned, pulling back slightly. She’d never heard mind-blowing sex referred to as relaxing before. But before her self-doubt could get the best of her, Sherlock allayed her fears.

“My mind requires constant stimulation, Molly, or else it tears itself apart. Last night…my mind was focused wholly on you. You and your body and all those fascinating little noises you made held my attention entirely. And when I reached orgasm, for just a moment, everything went away. My mind was blank. It was incredible. Not even drugs gave me that sort of satisfaction.”

Throughout Sherlock’s speech, Molly began to blush. Hearing Sherlock Holmes speak frankly about sex, about sex that they had, was going to take some time to get used to, apparently. “I’m glad that I can provide a distraction, then,” she replied, smiling and gently brushing her lips against his.

Sherlock smiled wickedly at her and leaned in, kissing her so passionately it made her head spin. Before she realized what was going on, he had lifted her up onto the table and was standing over her, peeling off her knickers and throwing them to the side. “Sherlock!” she squeaked, doing her best to admonish him as he pulled off her t-shirt and untied his dressing gown, leaving him just as naked as she was. “On the kitchen table?”

He chuckled as he slid a finger into her, testing her readiness. She groaned and arched her back, pressing her head against the hard surface of the table. “I intend to desecrate as much furniture in this flat as possible with you, Molly,” he murmured, leaning over her to kiss her again. She chuckled against his lips, wrapping her arms around his neck and dragging him closer.

Last night had been gentle and affectionate, but this time was nothing but need and passion. It was desperate and hard and fast. Part of her couldn't believe that she was here, having sex with Sherlock Holmes on the kitchen table of a safe house – she was Molly Hooper, ordinary and plain, nothing exciting ever happened to her. But he had changed all of that.

Maybe she hadn't ever been ordinary at all.

Sherlock moaned and thrust into her hard and Molly’s back arched, exposing her neck. He leaned forward immediately and captured her lips, muffling her scream as she came. He continued to thrust into her, his pace increasing as he got closer to his own release. Grunting, his hands gripped her hips like a vice, holding her close. “Yes, Molly!” he groaned, his body collapsing forward and his head burrowing into the hollow between her neck and shoulder as his body stiffened in release.

Sherlock panted against her neck as they both recovered, before he pulled her up off the table and he collapsed back against the chair, with Molly on his lap. Her face was pressed against his neck and she inhaled deeply, never wanting to forget this moment in his arms. She squirmed against his lap slightly and he gasped, involuntarily bucking up into her and she smiled at his reaction. “We need to shower,” she murmured, her lips brushing against the skin of his neck.

He replied with a noncommittal sort of grunt and tightened his grip around her waist. “Don’t want to let you out of my sight,” he muttered against the damp skin of her shoulder and she grinned.

“Well, we could always shower together, Sherlock. It’d be efficient, right?”

His head darted up and his eyes were alight with the idea. “Oh yes. And then we could have sex in the shower!”

Molly threw her head back and laughed at that. “You have quite the idea of your refractory period, Mr. Holmes.” He shrugged and before Molly knew what was happening, he had scooped her up and was carrying her towards the bathroom. She squealed and instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist, giggling as they made their way through the flat.

He let her down once they reached the bathroom and she immediately turned on the water. She turned to him as they waited for the water to heat up, kissing him playfully like she was a teenager again. Finally the bathroom had warmed up considerably and she dragged Sherlock inside the shower with her.

She turned to him once they were inside and gasped slightly at the look in his eyes. His gaze absolutely burned into her and for once, Molly didn't feel self conscious at all. It was amazing, how the man who had the habit of callously tearing her down could also be the one to make her feel like she was the sexiest woman in the world. His entire attention, that massive Sherlock Holmes brain, was completely focused on her.

Smiling at him, she tugged him close for a kiss and when they broke apart, she gently pushed him backwards into the spray. Soon, his hair was entirely wet and she reached for the ridiculously expensive shampoo that Mycroft had provided them. She squirted some in her palms before carefully regarding him and pursing her lips. “Go and sit down,” she said, nodding over to the little bench in the corner of the shower. “I’m too short to reach your hair without you bending over.”

Sherlock obediently did as she asked (she would need to pencil that in on her calendar – ‘the day Sherlock did as I asked and didn't say anything’) and seated himself comfortably in the corner of the shower, spreading his legs obscenely so Molly could stand between them.

She began lathering up his hair, which took a little longer than necessary, since the second her fingers sunk into his locks, his fingers found her breasts. His digits traced circles around the soft flesh, slowly getting closer and closer to her nipples before gently pinching them. Molly bit back a moan and dug her fingers into his sudsy hair with a bit of force, making Sherlock gasp at the sensation. “Rinse,” she commanded softly and stepped back to let him up.

He quickly rinsed the shampoo out of his hair and Molly started to reach for the soap until he made a little noise of protest. “Conditioner,” he said simply and she looked at him, giggling.

Of course Sherlock Holmes would use conditioner, she thought to herself. “You just want my fingers in your hair again,” she countered, letting him sit back down on the bench before reaching for the conditioner and squirting a dollop into her palm.

“I have a weakness,” he said absently, his eyes tracing over her body carefully. His hands settled at her hips this time, rubbing small circles into the skin as she worked the conditioner into his hair, giving him a bit of a scalp massage while she was at it. His head tilted back slightly and Molly was more than a little amused to see his hips buck a little when she tugged on his hair just so. “Molly,” he rumbled, his eyes opening and immediately focusing on her, tugging her forward and nearly pulling her into his lap.

“Wait!” she cried out, just as she was about to lose her balance. “ You've got to rinse. And then I think it’s only fair if you return the favor.”

Sherlock chuckled and stood, once again moving to stand underneath the stream. After a few moments, he must have decided that his hair was clean because he suddenly stepped out of the spray and gestured for Molly to move into it. It took her a bit longer to wet her hair thoroughly, for obvious reasons. Sherlock seemed intent on simply watching her wet her hair rather than help her.

Finally she stepped out from the shower’s spray and waited patiently as Sherlock squirted a few pumps of shampoo into his hands. Molly sighed as his fingers began massaging her scalp. His hands were so big; he could nearly cover her entire head with them.

Molly had her eyes shut tightly, so Sherlock had to guide her back into the water and he gently ran his fingers through her hair until the water ran clean.

“Only put conditioner from about here,” she gestured to a little above her ear, “down. None for the top of my head, it’ll just weight it down.” Sherlock scoffed slightly at the order but obeyed, carefully combing the conditioner through her hair and even paying special attention to her ends without her even having to tell him to. She allowed him to rinse it out and smiled when, at the end of it all, he bent slightly to steal a kiss.

They broke apart and Molly reached for the soap, turning to Sherlock and fixing him with what she hoped was a serious look. “Now Sherlock, we’re actually going to just wash ourselves. I know shower sex always sounds fun but it ends up being slippery and I am ridiculously accident-prone and do not need to explain to people how I ended up with something ridiculous, like a broken arm or something. Alright? Will you be able to behave?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes and reached impatiently for the soap in Molly’s hands. “I have ignored my baser urges for years, Molly. I think I can resist the temptation of fondling your naked body in the shower.”

For the most part, he did.

Molly giggled at her prune-like fingers as they stepped out of the shower and grabbed the towels on the nearby towel rack. It had been a mostly business shower, but there were definitely a few spots on both her and Sherlock’s bodies that had required a little more attention than the rest. Sherlock grinned at her as he toweled off and then wrapped it around his waist. Without warning, he grabbed her just as she finished tucking the towel into itself around the top of her chest, and he hauled her up against him, kissing her wildly.

“I need you again, Molly,” he murmured against her lips and she grinned. She hadn't been unaware of Sherlock’s growing state of arousal in the shower, but she had to admit that she took a bit of fun in teasing him longer than she should have.

They stumbled out into the hallway, kissing and groping each other, trying to find the nearest sturdy surface. “Bed, Sherlock,” Molly managed to gasp against his lips. Sherlock scooped Molly up into his arms again and her legs wrapped around his waist and her hand flew to her towel, keeping it up.

He made a beeline for the spare bedroom, which was closer to the bathroom than the room that they had shared for the majority of their stay in the flat. He all but tossed her onto the bed and Molly giggled briefly before Sherlock covered her body with his, quickly undoing both their towels and sliding into her.

It wasn’t quick and frenzied like earlier that morning, but it wasn't the slow and sweet lovemaking like their first time. Sherlock’s touch was desperate, he seemed to be determined to touch every inch of her skin and Molly shared the same frantic need. Molly began to feel reality set in as Sherlock suddenly rolled to the side and pulled her up on top of him, his hands flying to her waist.

These were the last moments they would spend together for the foreseeable future. Sherlock was going to be gone in less than an hour and neither of them was sure when they would meet again. Molly’s hips slammed down against Sherlock’s as she rode him, leaning over him to catch his lips in a desperate kiss. “Sherlock, I love you. I love you,” she whispered to him, over and over again as his hand reached down and stroked her gently, sending her over the edge.

He found his release soon afterwards, growling out her name as she collapsed on his chest. She had her full weight against him, but he didn't seem to mind as he gently stroked her back. She felt like she couldn't get close enough to him – she wanted to burrow inside him so that she could be with him wherever he went to dismantle Moriarty’s network. She didn't want him to forget her…she didn't want him to be alone.

She didn't even realize that she was crying until Sherlock’s fingertips gently stroked her cheeks, catching her tears. “Molly?” He questioned, shifting her slightly until she was curled up against his side and he could see her face more clearly.

“You’re leaving,” she whispered frantically, unable to stop the tears that were leaking slowly from her eyes. “You’re leaving and I won’t be able to know that you’re safe every night and I’m going to have to go to your funeral, Sherlock! I’m going to have to face all our friends and lie to them and I’m going to have to stay up on my own every night and wonder where you are…” Her words cut off as she choked out a desperate sob, burrowing further into his side and hiding her face against his chest.

He was silent as he wrapped his arms around her, stroking her hair softly as her tears slowed. “I’m sorry I put you in this situation, Molly,” he whispered. “Do you regret it? Do you regret involving yourself in this?”

Her head shot up immediately and she fixed her eyes on Sherlock. “Never. Not for one minute would I ever regret helping you. I can’t imagine the world – my world, without Sherlock Holmes. No,” she whispered, reaching a slightly trembling hand up to touch his face. “I’d never regret it, Sherlock. It’s just…it’s all just getting to me now. It’s all so…real.”

He nodded and pressed a gentle kiss to her fingertips as she passed them over his lips. “You could come with me,” he whispered against her digits, the words escaping before he had a chance to re-think them.

She smiled softly up at him, her fingers trailing down to his neck, resting against the slightly dampened skin there. “You know I couldn't You said it isn't safe for me to even know where you’re going – how would it be safe for me to go with you?”

He looked down, almost seeming ashamed that he had let her see him so weak. Molly’s heart broke into a thousand little pieces at the look. She’d never seen him look so vulnerable ever, even that night in the morgue when he’d come to ask for her help. She would have thought that was the most vulnerable Sherlock Holmes could ever look, but it didn't hold a candle to this moment, with Sherlock wrapped around her body, naked and scared of the future. To see him stripped of everything, of John and his coat and his suits and 221b…but to still have him, it frightened her in a way that she couldn't describe. No matter how broken she was feeling right now, she had to remain strong for him. “But you know where I am, Sherlock. I’ll just be a reminder of what you’re fighting for out there. But any time you need me, any time at all, you know where to find me. I’d never turn you away, you know that right?”

Nodding slightly, he craned his neck and lowered his lips to hers for a soft kiss. Her fingers sunk into his hair and he moaned gratefully into her mouth. He leaned back slightly, his thumb brushing across her cheek. “I don’t deserve you, Molly Hooper,” he breathed against her lips.

“Yeah, you do,” she replied softly, burrowing in closer to him, hiding her face in his neck. They stayed like this for a few minutes, before Molly suddenly sat up, squinting to look at the clock on the nightstand. “We have to get ready. Mycroft will be here soon.” She hopped up from the bed and held her hand out to Sherlock.

They got dressed slowly, exchanging kisses as they helped the other dress. Sherlock’s phone rang and Molly rested her head against his chest as he exchanged terse words with his brother. He hung up and slipped the phone into the pocket of his jeans before he took her hand silently and lead her into the other bedroom to pick up their things.

Molly picked up the small duffel bag she had packed the night before in anticipation of leaving today and waited as Sherlock grabbed two slightly larger bags. As they walked out into the main living area of the flat, Molly was surprised when Sherlock reached for her hand. She threaded her fingers with his and smiled up at him.

They exited the safe house and got into the secure lift, the same that they had taken up more than a week ago. True to his word, one of Mycroft’s signature cars was waiting for them. Molly was surprised as she slipped into the backseat to find that she and Sherlock would be riding alone to the train station. Sherlock seemed a bit surprised as well, but quickly gave her a small smile and kissed her gently. “It’s just as well. Mycroft would just make you uncomfortable,” he whispered before kissing her again. Molly couldn't help but smile at the fact that Sherlock was apparently concerned about her comfort.

The ride to the train station was quiet. Molly felt like she had said all she could say to Sherlock. She knew she wasn't good with words, especially around him, and she didn't want to ruin these last few moments by sticking her foot in her mouth. So they simply sat next to each other, Molly leaning into him and Sherlock absently brushing kisses across the top of her head as the city passed them by.

They were at the train station soon and Molly slowly gathered her things and slid out of the car behind Sherlock. Mycroft was waiting for them and raised a curious eyebrow when Sherlock, without hesitation, grabbed Molly’s hand again as they made their way towards his brother. Molly couldn't help the flush that colored her cheeks.

“Nice to see you again, Ms. Hooper,” he drawled in that overly pleasant tone that he used around most people.

“It’s Dr. Hooper, Mycroft; she went to medical school,” Sherlock muttered venomously. Mycroft didn't have time to reply, because Sherlock turned suddenly to Molly, wrapping her up in a quick embrace. Molly’s flush deepened as she saw Mycroft’s eyes widen out of the corner of her eye. But she quickly shut her eyes to block him out and leaned into Sherlock’s embrace, breathing him in. He released her only enough to drop his head to capture her lips in a gentle kiss. It was soft and loving and perfect, Molly melted into him.

He then drew away further, briefly licking his lips. “I’ll see you later.”

Her breath caught and she nodded. “See you later. Remember what I said – any time you need me, you know where I am.” She couldn't help herself and she stepped into his space one more time, flinging her arms around his neck before kissing him. She felt his hands at the small of her back, pressing her against him. Breaking apart, she smiled up at him sadly and whispered against his lips, “Stay safe, Sherlock.”

He released her and she stepped back. “You too, Molly.” His gaze shifted to Mycroft, who suddenly appeared next to her elbow, holding out a slim envelope.

“Here’s your ticket back to London, Dr. Hooper,” he said, putting a subtle emphasis on her proper title. “Thank you for your assistance. I am sure that we’ll be in touch.” Molly nodded and shot one last look to Sherlock, who nodded slightly and offered her a soft smile.

She took a deep breath and quickly turned on her heel, briefly looking to her ticket and then starting off towards the proper platform. It was like she was moving through a dream, nothing seemed quite real as she swiped her ticket through the turnstile and stood on the platform waiting for the train.

Mycroft had kindly booked her in a first class car and much to her relief, she was completely alone. She wasn't quite sure how he had managed it, but she was thankful. She had barely sat down in her seat before she felt her emotional dam bursting. The strain of the last ten days suddenly became ten times heavier and paired with the realization that she would now have to keep Sherlock’s secret – it was just too much. All of the pain and the fear that she’d tried to keep from Sherlock was suddenly overwhelming and there was nothing to do but cry. She wondered briefly if she was truly alone in the car or if someone would walk in, but decided it didn't matter one way or another. She couldn't stop the tears now that they had started.

She would go back to her lonely little flat, to the cold morgue, to her plain and ordinary life. She would watch her friends mourn Sherlock Holmes and would not be able to tell them anything, would not be able to relieve their pain at all. It would nearly kill her, she was sure of it.

But she had to. Sherlock…Sherlock trusted her. Sherlock had placed this burden on her, but God help her, she would bear it. She would bear the burden ten thousand times over if it meant it kept him safe and eventually returned him to the land of the living. She didn't believe that her life would end without Sherlock Holmes, but it was so much better with him in it.

She took a few deep shuddering breaths and willed the tears to slow, even if they didn't stop. The train began to pull out of the station. She could do this; she had no choice. Closing her eyes, she leaned her head against the window as she made her way back to London, back to her real life. Back to waiting for Sherlock Holmes.

At the same time, on the opposite side of the train station, the Holmes brothers were in their own empty train car, discussing their plans for the immediate future. They were on their way to Manchester and from there Sherlock would probably head to the continent. Their train was pulling out of the station and for a brief moment, Sherlock looked sad as he looked out the window.

Mycroft knew immediately why. “I assume that you will want updates of how Dr. Hooper is doing as well now?”

“Brilliant deduction,” Sherlock muttered sarcastically, keeping his gaze focused out the window instead of at his brother.

“You told her you loved her then?” Mycroft asked, feigning disinterest.

Sherlock allowed himself a small, sad smile, remembering whispering the words against her sweat slicked skin in the early hours of the morning. “None of your business, Mycroft.”