Copper Beaches

Mind Games

“Sometimes you can’t let go of the past without facing it again.”
― Gail Tsukiyama, The Samurai's Garden

Although Sherlock Holmes had changed quite a bit since he had had an encounter with the fist of an unknown person and a posh marble table, his three best friends were more or less the same. They were still as loyal, strong and caring as they had always been. Only now they were a bit more concerned than usual about the well-being of their favourite high functioning sociopath.

That was the reason why they sat together around a table in a café and discussed their respective experiences with their friend from the last couple of days. It was not only the three of them, but also Sherlock’s goddaughter, but she had chosen to rather stay asleep in her pram beside her mother than interrupting the plotting of her parents. As much as the trio liked a nice Sherlock, they were worried that there had not been any progress so far.

“The upside is that we’re slowly able to piece the puzzle together,” Mary tried to be positive, “With the help of our lists we’ve managed to gather a lot of important information about the man Sherlock is now.” The blonde knew that this was not really to be considered as progress, but she saw the need to bring attention to the fact that the situation had improved. A bit. Maybe.

Molly closed her hands around her cup on the table and started to tell them about another change in the consulting detective, “I think this Sherlock is now interested in the stars and the universe.”

John looked at her bemused, “How come you think so?”

“When I came home the other day, I caught him reading a book called The Dynamics of an Asteroid,” she reported.

John leaned back into his seat and shook his head. “This is getting weirder day by day.”
Molly chucked bitterly, “Tell me about it!”

They all fell silent for a moment in which John regarded Molly more closely. She had lost weight and although she tried to hide it with make-up, he could detect the dark circles under her eyes. It was plain to see that the situation was weighing heavily on the petite pathologist. Of course it was not easy for him either, but he mostly saw Sherlock while working on a case and in those moments he was more or less almost his old self. He did not even dare to imagine how Molly must have felt – being around him almost every day and night. He knew that she sometimes stayed at work longer than she needed, just to have some time for herself. John did not blame her. He knew that living with Sherlock Holmes was a challenge, yet he had only been his flatmate (as he had told Mrs Hudson on more than one occasion). Things between Molly and Sherlock had been strained since her kidnapping – not because of Molly, but because his git of a best friend could not come to terms with the fact that he did have feelings; that he was human after all; and that maybe he was a bit of a hero. John would have never told him the last bit. Sherlock’s ego was already big enough.

“Did you ever talk to him about it?“ the former army doctor asked Molly.

The faraway look she had worn a moment ago vanished and instead she focused on John, “About what?”

“The abduction.”

She gave him a look that clearly said, “Are you kidding me?”

John shrugged and cleared his throat. But before he could say something, Molly told him, “He was there when I gave my statement at the Yard.”

John’s eyebrows raised in surprise.

Molly clarified, “I mean… he was not in the room with me – only Lestrade was there – and I didn’t even see him, but I just knew that he was standing behind the one-way mirror, his eyes fixed on me. I could feel it.” She lowered her gaze, as if she was embarrassed. “But I asked Lestrade about it a few days later, and he confirmed it. Sherlock had been there the whole time.”

“But he did not talk to you?”

John was careful to keep his voice calm, although he felt his insides twist into a knot because of the ridiculous behaviour of his best friend.

Molly shook her head and did nothing to hide her disappointment. “No, he was gone by the time I left the interrogation room.”

There was a small pause, before Molly resumed talking, “I thought about bringing it up now, but I still don’t know when he thinks we’ve officially become a couple or when and how our first date was, so I am not sure…,” her voice drifted off.

“You mean if he is under the impression that you were already engaged when the abduction happened.”

John had not phrased it like a question, but Molly nodded anyway.

“I see your dilemma,” John said with sympathy.

Molly stared into her half empty mug (she was really not in the mood to call it half full) while John sighed deeply. His wife laid a hand over Molly’s and squeezed it.

The brunette mimicked the gesture and then confessed in a low voice, “It’s like my best dream and my worst nightmare come true – all at once. He is Sherlock, but he isn’t. I know it sounds confusing, but I don’t know how to explain it. He is not the man I fell in love with.”

Mary tried to lighten the mood, “That’s a sentence often uttered by married couples, not by newly engaged.”

Unfortunately Molly was not in the mood for joking, “Mary, I’m being serious!”
The blonde gave her a sympathetic look and squeezed her hand again, “Sorry. I know he is different from… before.”

Molly shook her head, extracted her hand from Mary’s and made a helpless gesture with it, “Sometimes he is so nice that I want to slap him across the face and tell him to stop this ridiculous act. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy with a nice and caring man?”

John could see that she got angrier with every sentence, and he was not sure if it was because of Sherlock or herself. Probably she couldn’t tell herself.

Mary nodded in understanding. “Because Sherlock Holmes is not supposed to be nice and caring. At least not to this extent.”

Molly looked at John’s wife for a moment and then bowed her head and muttered defeated, “I want the old Sherlock back. How sick is that? And what does that say about me?!”

“He used to be a sociopath, now…” Mary’s voice trailed off.

Her husband interjected, “Who would have ever thought that we would miss his arrogant, narcissistic attitude?”

Slowly Molly sat back up and leaned against the backrest. “Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to deceive someone 24/7?”

“We’re not deceiving him,” John stated.

“Do you seriously believe that?”

Molly’s rhetoric question made him pause. John was not sure. Maybe he did. Or maybe he just needed to tell himself that he did; otherwise we could not do it.

“I had hoped I would never have to do something like this again,” Molly mumbled as if to herself.
She didn’t need to specify what she meant. Her friends knew that she was talking about the two years of Sherlock’s “death.”

None of them knew what to say to that. So it was on Mary again to try a change of topic, “What about the wedding? Did anyone take care of the things on their list?”

Her husband and her friend both raised their eyebrows as if asking her if she was out of her mind too.

Mary shrugged, “Me neither.”

Molly took a sip of her coffee before she said, “Sherlock may be nice now, but he is still Sherlock and of course he notices that I never initiate physical contact or that I try to avoid the subject of our wedding. I honestly don’t know how long I can keep it up. Sooner or later he’ll confront me about it. And I don’t know what to tell him then.”

John instinctively knew that there was more to come, so he patiently waited for her to continue. If sharing a flat with a petulant child and having a daughter had taught him anything, then it was being patient.

John had been right, because Molly spoke up again, “We need to do something. We need to speed up the process to get his full memory back.”

John could not help a sarcastic comment, “Maybe hitting something over his head again might help?”

Mary raised her eyebrows. “I take that is the professional opinion of a doctor?”

Fortunately it made Molly chuckle before she continued, “The doctor said we should expose Sherlock to memories from the loss.”

“How do you intend on doing that?” Mary asked, not knowing where the brunette was getting to.

Molly sat up straight and suddenly her body language spoke of pure confidence. “I’ve done additional research in the last couple of days and I have talked to some colleagues about Sherlock’s condition. I think there’s a need for artifice.”

Her friends instinctively leaned a bit closer.

Molly continued, “This is all more or less a sick kind of play, isn’t it? Sherlock’s play. So why not turn the tables and make it our play? I think we should try to re-enact some scenes with Sherlock. Maybe that would help.”

It took John and his wife a moment to process the information.

“You are saying that we should... stage... incidents we’ve had with Sherlock... like...?” John tried to follow her plan.

Molly nodded eagerly. “Yes. Like when you’ve met for the first time or the moment he asked you to be his best man. Of course we need to pick memories he has lost. Or we think he has lost... I admit it might be a bit tricky.”

Mary and her husband stared at the petite woman in front of them for some time. It was too easy to forget that Molly Hooper was so much more than first met the eye. And not for the first time John wondered if Sherlock had been able to see that all along? That behind the façade of the shy pathologist, Molly Hooper could be witty, cunning and brave. Was that why he cared about her, or why he had tried to push her away?

John let the idea Molly was suggesting sink it. It was more than a bit tricky. It needed planning and organization. And it could go terribly wrong. But what else was there to do?

“And you think this could be cumulative?” he asked.
“I know it sounds like an odd idea, but given the situation,” Molly tried to explain.

The Watsons contemplated the suggestion.

Suddenly John chuckled. The women gave him a funny look, not knowing what was amusing about the situation.

John explained, “I think re-enacting scenes between Sherlock and me could be a challenge. Him ripping my clothes off in a darkened swimming pool...” A bemused smile danced on his lips at the memory of this fateful night.

The women raised their eyebrows in unison, and Mary shook her head and held up a hand. “I don’t wanna know. I have my past and you have yours,” she told her husband in mock-indignation.

“Mrs Hudson would love that story,” Molly chimed in and the three shared a laugh.

After their laughter had died down, Molly became serious once more. “So what do you think? Are you in?”

John and his wife shared a look, then turned towards their friend, a determined expression on their faces, and John said, “We’re in.”

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