“Scars are just another kind of memory.” – M.L. Stedman, The light between oceans
Sherlock Holmes did not have a lot of friends. He was fond of saying that he did not have any friends (he admitted once that he had only one friend). Just like he was fond of saying that he did not have a heart. But of course even he knew that both statements were not true. The matter of Sherlock’s heart (figuratively speaking, of course) was still a nebulous one, even to himself, although he made progress, but the answer to the question who his friends were, was clear as day.
Most of them were waiting in a corridor at St Mary’s hospital in London. There were only a few missing: Mrs Hudson had a bad day because of her hip and had to stay at Baker Street, Lestrade (the name under which Sherlock knew him) was on a case, but would join them later, Mycroft did not count as friend, because he was family (one can choose their friends, not their family and if Sherlock had had a choice he presumably would not have chosen Mycroft) and The Woman was… The Woman probably did not count as friend either. Her relation to Sherlock would likely remain in the dark forever. Although she would send a single red rose the day after tomorrow.
But his three dearest friends were waiting at the hospital for Sherlock Holmes to wake up. The peculiar thing about these three people was not only that they had chosen to be friends with an egomaniac narcissist who also happened to be a bit of a sociopath (one could argue they all had masochistic tendencies), but also that they were all very different:
John was loyal and Sherlock’s moral compass. He could tell him what was socially acceptable and what not, and Sherlock would listen. Sometimes. John was also an adrenaline junkie and loved the exciting and dangerous life his friendship with the consulting detective provided.
John’s wife Mary was in some sense a bit more like Sherlock, compared to her husband. She was trained in reading people, keeping secrets and understood Sherlock on a certain level. She was also trained to kill people (Sherlock had learned that the hard way). She was strong and independent. But as opposed to Sherlock, she understood human nature.
Molly Hooper was neither a trained killer nor an adrenaline junkie, and sometimes she was naïve and shy. But she was intelligent, and she had an eye for detail. She may not have seen through the act of Jim from IT (not even Sherlock had), but she saw through the act that was “being Sherlock Holmes.” She was someone who liked to stay in the background most of the time, but when she was needed she would step forward and offer her help. Always.
And because they were so different, they had their different ways of coping with nervousness. John had been pacing the corridor since their arrival. His wife had tried to make him sit down, because his behaviour was driving her insane, but he would not listen to her. After her third try she had accepted that it was fruitless and had let him be. She, on the other side, had been sitting in the same chair since their arrival – more or less. She had gone up to get coffee at some point. When she had taken the first sip, she had almost regretted getting one, because it had tasted even more horrible than the coffee at St Bart’s. But then, she had been glad for the short distraction. Finding the coffee machine had taken her mind off the matter at hand; and if only for a few minutes. But apart from her search for the coffee machine, she had been sat in the same chair rather stoically all night. Mary knew that there was nothing they could do but wait. Did she hate it? Of course. Who did not hate being helpless, but she had learned to accept that sometimes sitting and waiting was the only thing one could do.
While John had been pacing and Mary sitting unmoving, Molly had stood by the window most of the time. She had been staring outside, but not really seeing anything. Cars had gone by and night had turned into day, but she had not realized. Only when the first rays of sunshine had touched her pale face, had she noticed that the night was over and that she was still holding the cup of coffee in her hand that Mary had brought her some time ago. No need to mention that it had turned cold by now. She had wrung her hands several times and had always touched the engagement ring in the process. Another thing she had not noticed doing. Her mind had been occupied with thoughts of hope and fear – never able to decide on which to hold onto.
What had begun as a nice – yet odd – evening out had turned into a nightmare rather quickly. Sherlock’s friends had done as he had told them: Molly had gone to find Mrs Rucastle to have a chat with her while the married couple had left to join the consulting detective in the sitting room. But when they had arrived there, they had been shocked to find him lying unconscious on the floor, his head in a pool of blood. It had seemed like he had hit his head on the marble table.
John doubted that Sherlock had stumbled and then hit his head – the consulting detective was anything but clumsy – but suspected that someone had knocked him out and his head had collided with the table in the process. Although the head wound had been bleeding, John and Mary had not thought it to be serious at first – a laceration, nothing more.
But when all attempts to wake their friend had been unsuccessful, they had started to worry. Mary had gone to fetch Molly, and John had called the ambulance. Needless to say that the Rucastles had not been amused about the disturbance of their party. And it goes without saying that Sherlock’s friends did not care (Sherlock could not mind, since he had still been unconscious).
Paramedics had not been able to wake the consulting detective either and even before any of the three friends could have thought about it, Mycroft Holmes had called them, telling them that a helicopter would be waiting for them at the hospital to take them back to London where Sherlock would get the treatment he needed. John, Mary and Molly had not even bothered to be surprised about Mycroft knowing what had happened. They had learned to take his omniscience for granted and not ask any questions.
The helicopter – with a doctor – had waited for them as advised and had taken them to St Mary’s hospital in London. And there they had spent the rest of the night; Sherlock being treated by various doctors and still not waking up in his room and his three friends wide awake and worried sick waiting in the corridor. They knew all too well that staying unconscious after a head injury was not to be taken lightly.
“What about his parents? Have you talked to his parents, John?” Mary suddenly asked out of the blue.
John and Molly were both a bit startled by her question. Not because of its content, but because not a word had been spoken between them in the last hour.
John stopped his pacing for a moment and turned to his wife. “No, but I am sure Mycroft did. We can ask him once he’s here.” The former army doctor sighed deeply and drew a hand over his face. “If he turns up at all. With him you never know…”
Mary stretched and got up. She glanced at her watch, yawned and walked over to her husband. “John, I’m afraid I need to get back home to the little one. And finally change into something more comfortable.” The blonde was desperate to get out of her violet gown. It looked nice, but it was not suited for sitting in a hospital the whole night long.
John took a look at his watch too, before he nodded and kissed his wife goodbye. “Alright. Give her a kiss from me.”
“I will. Call me as soon as he wakes up.”
John nodded, Mary waved Molly goodbye and then left to get home to her baby girl.
About an hour after Mary’s departure, the door to Sherlock’s room opened and doctor Moreau (he had introduced himself upon their arrival) stepped out. He walked over to where Molly and John were standing by the window. John had finally given up pacing and had taken a place next to the pathologist. When they heard doctor Moreau approaching they turned around and looked at him. Both wore an expression that was a mix between hope and trepidation.
Without further ado doctor Moreau told them, “Mr Holmes has finally woken up, and he demands to see his fiancée.” With that he looked at the petite pathologist who stared at him with wide eyes.
But before she or John could react, doctor Moreau had
already turned around and was walking away.
Helplessly Molly looked towards the man next to her who sighed deeply, took hold of her arm and guided her to Sherlock’s room. While doing so he mumbled sarcastically, “Great, now he has lost his mind.”
As soon as Molly’s eyes fell on the consulting detective in his hospital bed, she could not help but think that his face and the sheets were almost of the same colour. His eyes were bloodshot and his head bandaged. Still she was glad to see his eyes open again, staring at them. They approached his bed, John taking the lead and Molly staying close behind.
“Hey mate, how are you doing?” John asked, standing next to his best friend.
But the consulting detective more or less ignored him and had only eyes for the petite woman next to him.
“Why are you standing over there? Come here,” the pale man in the bed ordered. His voice was low and rasp.
Molly looked around the room confused, as if she was not sure that Sherlock was really talking to her. It was obvious that John was a bit baffled as well, but he stepped aside and motioned Molly to get closer. She hesitantly did as asked and took John’s place next to Sherlock.
“How are you feeling, Sherlock?” she asked with a shy smile.
But instead of answering, the injured man sat up slowly in his bed, took Molly’s hand and pulled her down towards him for an embrace. The pathologist froze and was too stunned to return the gesture. Sherlock held her in place, and when he did not make any attempt to let her go, she turned her head slightly and whispered into his ear, “Are we still undercover?”
That made him finally draw back, and now he was the one to look confused.
John took a step closer again, having the feeling that something was off. “Sherlock, are you okay? Are you feeling light headed or anything?”
The patient slowly cocked his head to the side and regarded his best friend. “Why are you calling me that?”
“What do you mean?” John had a bad feeling.
“Why are you calling me Sherlock?”
John took another step closer. “Because it’s your name.”
Sherlock looked taken aback. “You know my name is William.” His voice had its typical don’t-be-ridiculous-tone.
John glanced towards Molly, who looked about as clueless as John felt and started to have a bad feeling about the situation as well. “Who am I?” she asked Sherlock.
“Molly,” he answered swiftly.
She sighed relieved, because he knew who she was and her fears had been unfounded, but then he specified, “My fiancée.” Then again, maybe he didn’t know.
She and John shared a look, when she felt Sherlock grab her left hand and touch her ring, as if proving his point. Molly’s eyes snapped towards him and her heart clenched. She swallowed and tried to draw a deep breath, because the way Sherlock was looking at her told her that something was definitely wrong. Granted, he was a great actor, but not even he could play that well. It would give method acting a whole new meaning. And why would they still have to keep up the charade? It did not make sense. Slowly Molly extracted her hand from Sherlock’s grip and turned to face John who stared at their friend in the same desperate and confused manner as she did.
“John,” she whispered, “I’m afraid you were right: He has lost his mind.”