Copper Beaches

... out of Mind

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Sherlock had solved the case. John had told her. Subsequently when Molly arrived at Baker Street with Chinese take away to celebrate it, she was surprised to find her fiancé (flatmate) pacing up and down the living room like a caged animal mumbling along. She had expected him to be euphoric, instead he was erratic. She wished, not for the first time, that his moods weren’t so inscrutable.

After putting her coat, scarf and shoes away, she went into the kitchen to put the food onto the counter. She leaned against the kitchen counter and studied the consulting detective. He acted as if he had not even realized that she had entered the flat, and maybe he had not; it would not have been the first time.

After listening to his mumbling for a few minutes, Molly could make out some words he repeated in between: “There must be something. There is always something... She said two…”

Molly sighed deeply and grabbed her box of take away. She knew Sherlock would remain in this state for some time, so she could at least eat something before she could question him what was bothering him.

While chewing on her noodles and watching Sherlock’s frantic pacing (it was an oddly comforting feeling seeing him do that, for he behaved like his old self), she let her thoughts wander.
Their pathetic attempt at evoking memories by re-enacting scenes from Sherlock’s past had failed.

John wanted to stick to the plan and carry on, but Molly thought it could be detrimental to his health. Obviously it had not helped to bring back Sherlock’s memories, but had only led to anger and confusion. Now she was afraid that further re-enactments would hurt more than help. They had discussed different approaches, but they could not agree on one. The friends were at their wits end.

Especially Molly became more and more anxious, because with every day that passed the wedding came closer. It was still a few months to go, but she asked herself more and more frequently what would happen if his memories would not return in due time? What if they would never return? She started to seriously consider confronting Sherlock with the truth. Unfortunately the doctors, as well as her friends, thought that was out of the question.

Molly grew more frustrated day by day. She knew that it was hard for everyone, but she was the one who had to pretend to be engaged to the man she loved, only to know that it was all a lie. There were moments when she wanted to cry, slap or kiss him, and she did not know which was right or wrong. If he would not get back his memories before the wedding, what was she supposed to do? She could not marry him. There was only so far one could go.

Apart from the fact that she worried what would happen if his memories would not return, she worried what would happen when his memories returned. How would he take it that they had all participated in his play of amnesia? Would he be angry? (very likely) Would he be embarrassed for being affectionate – especially towards her? (also very likely) Would he severe contact with her? (not so likely, put still probable) Would he regret opening up to her? (definitely) Would he hate her for giving away her phone?

Molly shook her head to get rid of those thoughts. All these doubts and fears did not get her anywhere. She was not sure what to do about it, but she needed to broach the subject... somehow. He had asked her for dinner so that they could discuss... it – whatever it was. She knew Sherlock had his suspicions, and she would do anything to wipe them away, but in order to do that she needed to be prepared. She needed more information, more data. She needed to find out what he was planning. Molly threw away her now empty take away box and took a deep breath before she addressed her fiancé.

“Sherlock, about dinner...”

But she did not come any further, because he interrupted her, “Not now, Molly, I am busy.”

She had a hard time not falling into her old mousy-Molly-Hooper-habit. “I know, I am sorry, but...”

“Stop your silly rambling, I can’t think and I need to think,” he said with warning in his voice.

“I understand, but...”

“Not now!” he hollered and stopped in front of the mantelpiece, glaring at her.

Now Molly became mousy after all. She bowed her head and said in a meek voice, “I’m sorry.”

She was about to leave him alone and take a shower, when a gentle hand around her wrist made her stop. She looked up stunned, for she had not heard him approach.

“No, I am sorry. It’s just... You know how I am when...,” he tried to explain himself in a much calmer tone.

She shook her head. She knew his ways, and she had to admit she was not even surprised by his outburst, more by him apologizing. “I know. It’s okay,” she assured him.
“No it’s not.”

He cocked his head to the side and regarded her with his attentive eyes. His expression became closed off all of a sudden. “Sometimes I get the impression you want me to say horrible things to you.”

His questioning gaze made her nervous, and she tried not to react to his ability to read her mind. Or at least his ability to read her.

Lucky for her, he did not question her further about it, but shook his head, as if getting rid of some disturbing thoughts. His expression became more open again, and his voice was calm, when he prompted, “What was it you wanted to ask me about dinner?”

“I just...,” she began, but then faltered.

The way he looked at her made it impossible for her to go on with what she wanted to say. It was a look full of calm affection, and she knew that the real Sherlock would never look at her like that. How could she ever explain to him – over a romantic dinner with candles and champagne (did one have chips with champagne?) – why she acted so closed off, why she kept things from him without ruining everything? Sure, her acting skills had improved greatly over the last few years – given the needs – but Sherlock would see through her. He would know that she was not completely honest. He would finally see through her act. Her performance would probably be Golden Raspberry- but not Oscar-worthy. And then what? And suddenly Molly Hooper knew what to do. Her heart clenched at the mere thought of it, but she did not have another choice.

“I thought the case was solved?”

He did not hide the surprise at her change of topic, but went with it. He knew she was hiding something from him, and he had observed how it took its toll on her. She had lost weight – and she was not supposed to. She should have gained weight – domestic bliss and all... But now was neither the time nor the place to confront her with it. He would do it over dinner – just as planned. Now he needed to find the final puzzle piece in the Rucastle case. And after he’d found it and solved this problem, he would tackle the next. But one step at a time.

Therefore he answered her question, but not with a certain irritation in his voice, “It was solved. All circumstantial evidence pointed towards this solution.”

“But?” She could feel that there was a “but” coming, otherwise he wouldn’t be pacing the living room. Additionally she was glad that he had let her change the topic and was not talking about “them” anymore.

Sherlock turned away from her and went over to the table that was packed with papers and files for the Rucastle case. He started to search through them while he kept talking.

"Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing,” answered Sherlock thoughtfully, “It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different."

She knew all too well what he was talking about, although he was talking about the case and she was thinking about her personal life.

Sherlock tugged frustrated at his curls and kept rummaging through the papers on the table. “It doesn’t make sense. This Mr Toller... he is involved. I just don’t know...”

He growled and stopped his actions. He stared at the pile of files in front of him.
“The solution must be right in front of me. I know it. It’s somewhere...,” his voice drifted off, and he sounded a bit defeated.

Molly felt sorry for him. She wished she could help him somehow. So she asked in a shy voice, “What are you looking for?”

Sherlock ignored her and kept staring at the papers on the table. She tried again, “Sherlock, what do you need?”

Suddenly Sherlock’s posture went stiff and his eyes snapped towards her, and for a moment Molly thought she saw something like recognition in them, and she held her breath.

Could it be? She thought her heart had stopped as well while he stared at her, and she was sure the panic was visible on her face.

But then he looked away from her again, reached for a paper on the table, help up a file that Molly recognized immediately and exclaimed with an excited glint in his eyes, “This!”

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