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I Told You So

Chapter Text

"Oh come on Sherlock, it's not going to kill you!"

"Not literally, no. But I can't think of a more torturous experience than sitting in a pub with all of them right now!"

John rolled his eyes and huffed. "Don't be dramatic, Sherlock! How about flying off to Eastern Europe forever? Where does that rank on the torturous scale?! They're happy that you're staying, and they just want to buy you a drink. It's not that big of a deal, but it would mean a lot to them if you'd get out of that sheet, put some clothes on, and just come with me!"

Sherlock groaned and got up finally. "Fine! I'll be ready in ten minutes." He started down the hallway.

"Oh and, Sherlock...could you maybe not wear dress trousers? It's really not necessary."

"Why? I always dress like that."

"Well, do you own a pear of jeans?"

"Yes of course I own a pair!"

"Ok good! So wear those instead. Then maybe you'll look like you're trying to have fun, even if you're not."

Sherlock only responded by rolling his eyes and stalking off the rest of the way down the hall, then he went in his room and shut the door rather loudly.

John sat in his chair and blew out a heavy exhale. This night could turn into a disaster, he was well aware. But he didn't want to say no to Lestrade's plan. Greg was so happy when he heard that Sherlock had been aloud to stay in London after all. So about a week after the fact, he told John that he wanted to take Sherlock out for a drink and celebrate his return...even if it was only after five minutes. John suspected that there was still a bit of tragedy hanging in the air after Sherlock's supposed death for those two years. So for those who thought they were about to lose him all over again, it was more than a relief to realize he wasn't going anywhere. Sherlock was, of course, less than thrilled at the prospect of an evening out at a pub.

Sherlock finally emerged from his room, shockingly enough, in jeans. He still wore a white dress shirt, but John was satisfied that he didn't look quite as professional and buttoned up as he usually did. Lestrade and his crowd may actually get the impression that he was there to enjoy himself...even if that was a bit inaccurate.

"Let's get this over with," Sherlock said with a sigh and grabbed his coat and scarf.

They arrived at the pub not long after that and Sherlock grabbed John's arm as the entered and he saw the table of people that were present.

"What is this? Nobody here but Lestrade cares three straws whether I'm here in this pub or in Eastern Europe being shot at! What are Donovan and Anderson doing here?! This is some stupid excuse to get everybody drunk, and I'll have no part in it." He began to turn back to the door.

"Oh, no you don't!" John growled at him and held him back from exiting. "I promised them you'd come, and there's no way you're getting me blamed for letting you leave! If they get drunk, you can leave after they won't remember anything. But for now you will be grateful! To Greg, at least!"

Sherlock scrunched his face up.

"To Lestrade!" John immediately clarified and sighed in exasperation. "Come on, let's go."

They made their way over to the table and took a seat. As Sherlock was already expecting, nobody but Lestrade really even acknowledged his arrival. He wasn't really sure that anybody else had even been informed that this evening was meant for him! No matter in his mind though. Less people he'd be forced to pleasantly interact with.

"Hey! Welcome back!" Lestrade said happily and gave Sherlock a firm handshake.

"Not sure how happy you should be. I'm not staying for a particularly pleasant reason."

"Ah that!" Lestrade said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Let's not think about that right now! The important thing is that you're back here now. Just try to enjoy yourself and be happy that you're home."

"So...enjoyable," Sherlock said sarcastically under his breath as he looked around the pub.

The crowd ordered what seemed to be a second round of drinks for all of them, seeing as the rest of them had already been there for a while. John forced Sherlock to have a beer along with everyone else. He drank his slowly, as he was not exactly feeling motivated to consume it as quickly as the rest of them were. The last thing he wanted was to become a drunk and useless form of himself in the presence of these people.

Another round for the rest of them later, John noticed that Sherlock was missing. He saw him over by the bar speaking to random people.

"Um, excuse me just a second," he said over the music to Lestrade.

"Clearly your wife is not being unfaithful. You're jumping to conclusions. She's obviously making plans to renovate your bedroom while you'll be away on your upcoming business trip. But from your behavior now, you will begin to make her suspicious, so I suggest you get yourself a cab and make your way home before she calls off the construction and starts packing her own bags!"

This was the scene John came upon, and the man quickly threw back the rest of his beer before tossing some money on the table and making his way to the exit.

"What in the- Sherlock, you are not here to take on cases!"

"But I don't want to sit at that table and chat with them, John! You cannot make me!"

"Two lagers!" he yelled over Sherlock. "Just come back to the table. Poor Lestrade is going to think you don't even care that he organized this for you. It's not that hard Sherlock, you know how to fake things. A woman believed you wanted to marry her not long ago, we all know you can act. So just get over there and put on a happy face!" John shoved a beer at him.

Sherlock grabbed it begrudgingly and marched back over to the table only to hear the uncharacteristic laughter of Lestrade.

"Oh stop! Stop! I can't breath, honestly! Oh good Sherlock's back! Anderson, you've got to tell it from the beginning."

Sherlock could hear that Lestrade was feeling some effects of the now three rounds he had drunk.

"I hardly think Sherlock is interested in hearing this," Anderson said, sounding a bit superior.

"Sherlock, have you never heard Anderson's theory about how you faked your death?"

Sherlock shook his head as he eyes Anderson suspiciously. "Anderson is right, perhaps for the first time, I can't think why I'd be interested in that. I know how I did it. Why would I need to hear other people's silly- Ow!" John kicked him soundly beneath the table. "As I was saying, Anderson, do go on."

"You're gonna love this, Sherlock, it's hysterical! I mean, I may not have laughed when he first told me, but now that I know you're alive and well it's certainly good for a laugh!"

"Doesn't hurt to be drunk either," Sherlock muttered.

"So what, you're just going to make me tell this so you can laugh at me?!" Anderson crossed his arms in annoyance as he looked around the table. "Let's all keep in mind that I was, in the end, right! And you were wrong! I did at least know he was still alive, even if I didn't know exactly how he pulled it off!"

"Oh stop pouting like a child, Anderson, and tell the stupid story! Lestrade won't shut up till you do!" Sherlock said before drinking more of his beer. His intent may not have been to get drunk, but he certainly wanted to dull the irritation of this evening and Anderson's surely idiotic ideas. So the beer was suddenly becoming more appealing.

"Ok fine!" And then Anderson began recounting the details. He went through everything from the bungie attached to the roof, to the hypnotist who made John pass out for a couple minutes, to the mask which disguised Moriarty as Sherlock. Sherlock wore a small smirk the whole time, thinking that his way was so much better.

"...Then you bounced back up and crashed through a window. You made your way out of the hospital from there. So there you have it, that was my theory! Go ahead and laugh all you want, but I think it was rather good!"

"Course you do, Anderson. Whatever helps you sleep at night," Sherlock sneered.

"Whoa whoa whoa! Hold on a second there, Anderson!" Lestrade said grabbing him by the shoulder. "How come you just left out one of the funniest parts?"

"What part was that?"

"The part involving a certain pathologist!" Lestrade said suggestively and elbowed Anderson.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes. The detective inspector was clearly under the influence because he'd never usually throw Molly Hooper under the bus for any reason. What in the world could Anderson have theorized about Molly?

"That part wasn't important!" Anderson said waving his hand.

"Pfff! Not important?! It's funny! That's the point! Come on Anderson, tell Sherlock what happened after he crashed through the window. He'll get a kick out of this! Hurry up though, cuz Molly texted me that she is on her way and I don't think she'd find it as hilarious."

Anderson rolled his eyes. "Right fine, here goes...Sherlock you came crashing through the window and Molly was there waiting, because she'd helped you of course, as I had correctly guessed! Anyway, you untethered the bungie cord and you had to sort of shake the broken glass off your coat and your hair. As you did that, you strode over to Molly Hooper, and then..." Anderson paused to glance at Sherlock in embarrassment for a moment before continuing. "And then you grabbed her and gave her a rather passionate kiss."

John began laughing hysterically right along with Lestrade and Donovan. Sherlock's eyes doubled in size when he heard that last sentence. He was not expecting...that.

"What?" Anderson exclaimed. "I'm sorry but I fail to see how that is so very ridiculous! She helped him fake his death, thereby helping save his life. He was very grateful! Weren't you, Sherlock?!" Anderson demanded.

Sherlock cleared his throat. "I was grateful, yes. Though I must say that is rarely how I show my gratitude." He took another large swig of his beer.

"Rarely?!" Lestrade said through giggles. "How bout never! You could never have done that, Sherlock. I think we all know you too well!"

Suddenly Sherlock set his glass down and frowned at Lestrade who was trying to slow his breathing again.

"Hang on...did you say I never could have done that? Perhaps you didn't word that correctly. Do you somehow believe I am incapable of kissing a woman?"

That was when Sally Donovan spoke up. "Oh please! You can barely speak to a woman without putting her off! It doesn't take a detective to figure out that you couldn't sweep a woman off her feet to save your life!"

Sherlock glared daggers at her. "It would be a mistake to assume that my interactions with you are any indication of my skills in general with the opposite sex. If I did posses the skill to, as you say 'sweep a woman off her feet' you would certainly be the last person in the world to know about it!"

"No woman would know about it!" Donovan retorted. "Nothing with a pulse would know about it, Sherlock Holmes! The only thing your passionate about is your own freakish brain!"

"Aw come on, Sherlock, it's funny!" Lestrade said, clearly trying to diffuse the situation a bit. In his alcohol induced state, he had only thought to get a laugh out of Sherlock. But of course he didn't want to turn this into an insult session. "We know you, so I could imagine you thinking it was just as silly as I did!"

As Sherlock finished that second beer on a stomach that had been empty all day, he could feel his brain being just a tiny bit altered. Normally this sort of teasing at his expense wouldn't make him blink, but he felt his irritation levels rising rapidly. These morons had no idea what he was and wasn't capable of. And they had no clue what sort of skills he possessed in the way of passion. He never did like to be deemed lacking in anything...

"Oh yes, so very silly," he said with a rather straight face. "You know me so well."

John looked a bit concerned as he watched Sherlock. He picked up on the irritation at this point, and hoped Sherlock was going to keep things reasonably pleasant.

"Hi guys!" the sweet voice said, approaching the table.

The whole table uttered their hellos to Molly as she took a seat. She sat next to Lestrade who had pulled another chair up for her.

"Sorry I'm late. Took me a while to get out of there tonight. Hope I didn't miss anything important." She looked around the table.

A couple people giggled a bit at her innocent question. Sherlock offered a small smile though. "Only if you count drunken idiocy as important."

"Surprised you're here, Sherlock. I didn't think John would be able to convince you. Are you wearing jeans?" she asked incredulously.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "How is this meant to be appropriate attire if it only looks strange for people to see me like this?!" he demanded of John.

"I think you look nice, Sherlock. I was just noticing, that's all." Molly took a drink of the beer that Lestrade had requested for her.

Sherlock observed the way she kept feeling the base of her left ring finger, where there was no longer a ring. But he noticed that every time she did it, she smiled very slightly to herself. She wasn't truly upset that it was over. Whatever the circumstances of her broken engagement, he could tell that deep down Molly knew it was for the best. He was in fact glad that she was now here.

"Any particularly fascinating autopsies today, Molly?" Sherlock questioned, leaning forward on the table to hear her over the music that was playing.

"Oh, um, let me think..."

"No talking about work allowed!" Donovan said, leaning over Lestrade and pointing at Molly. "You're supposed to be having fun. Don't let him bully you!"

"I do not bully her!" Sherlock spat back at her. "She happens to posses one of the best minds at this table, so please forgive me if I prefer to speak to her about something intelligent rather than watching your drunken flirtations with Anderson!"

Donovan set her lips tightly together and turned away again in frustration.

Molly couldn't help but giggle. She never personally enjoyed Donovan's company. And of course it always irritated her no end that the woman was so hard on Sherlock.

For the next hour or so Molly did indulge Sherlock in the events of the day. She didn't have anything terribly thrilling to share, but she tried to share as much detail as possible, considering the fact that she realized he'd rather be anywhere but here at the moment. And of course she let him interrupt her in order to make his own deductions after hearing some of her findings in each case. Molly couldn't help thinking that if these people wanted to welcome him back they should have gifted the poor man a double homicide case instead of taking him out for a drink!

Finally, around eleven thirty, John announced he needed to head home to Mary. He already felt bad for leaving her at home, but it wasn't exactly the thing to bring a largely pregnant woman to a pub. Sherlock, of course, didn't complain about leaving. He did stop though, as he was putting his coat on, to thank Lestrade for the night. He also thanked Molly for her company.

"It's been a pleasure, Molly. Thank you for making this last hour bearable," he said quite honestly.

Her cheeks were pleasantly rosy and her eyes sparkled as she smiled up at him and nodded. He wasn't sure at this point if it was from the two beers she'd consumed by then, or if it was the attention he was showing her. Perhaps it was the alcohol he had in his system, but he had the sudden urge to say, You see that Donovan?! Perhaps your deductions about my abilities with a woman were just as stupid as I said they were!

"Well goodnight everyone!" John said with a slight lag in his words. He'd had double what Sherlock had.

They began to walk away and were almost to the door when Sherlock heard Donovan say something to Molly.

"Well thank God he's finally gone! Now you can actually enjoy yourself! Maybe now you might have the chance to meet a real man tonight!"

That did it.

Sherlock stopped in his tracks. John halted in the doorway as he saw that Sherlock wasn't moving forward.

"Sherlock? What is it? Are you coming?"

"In a moment, John," he said in a strangely calm and controlled voice. Then he turned around to face the direction of their friends again.

"Oh Molly?" Sherlock called back over to the table, and she looked over at him. "Molly, I almost forgot something. Could you come here a minute?"

Molly immediately got up from her seat and began walking toward the door. The rest of the party was watching as well, since Sherlock had to yell over to get Molly's attention. As she made her way over to where Sherlock stood, he began taking quick strides over to meet her halfway. In the space of that ten second stride Sherlock also reached up and quickly loosened and yanked off the scarf that was, as always, looped in the front of his neck. He then literally tossed the scarf behind him where it happened to land on the head of an unsuspecting man who sat at a neighboring table. Just as Molly was starting to open her mouth to ask what he was doing, she was stopped short.

And everyone else's mouths dropped to the floor.

Sherlock halted only when he'd come toe to toe with her, and the split second before he'd reached forward to grab her head in his hands and cradle her face. He didn't hesitate even a bit as he dove downward and pressed a strong, insistent, and passionate kiss to her lips.

Sherlock felt Molly let out a slight gasp at the first contact of his lips, but then she almost instantly relaxed against him and he felt her hands dart up to hold tight to the collar of his coat. Her mouth then responded more than willingly against his own... nd the kiss was very mutually deepened.

The fire from that kiss was palpable to just about everyone who had functioning eyesight.

"I knew it! I knew it! What did I say?!" Anderson exclaimed as he pounded a fist on the table and glared at the rest of them. But nobody else could even pick their jaws up from the ground, let alone make any sort of answer.

Sherlock kissed Molly till he felt dizzy and began to forget why he had even started this in the first place. He was only jolted back to reality when he felt her fingers leave the fabric of his coat collar and slide up against the bare skin of his neck. He finally pulled his face away, gently separating their now swollen lips. They stared back at each other while trying to still their unsteady and heavy breathing. Molly's pupils consumed almost the entire iris in her eyes and he could only assume, to his slight embarrassment, that his looked about the same.

Sherlock was vaguely aware that a few random tables of people started clapping. But for the moment, he could only focus his gaze on Molly. He cleared his throat and swallowed before attempting to speak.

"Forgive me, Molly...I- I needed to...prove a point." He finally slid his hands away from her face. They suddenly felt empty as they hung by his sides. She let her hands fall away from his neck as well.

"N-nothing to uh...forgive," she tried to say evenly, but her voice cracked of course. She had to then clear her own throat and quickly lick her lips before saying anything else. "I'm not sure what you were trying to er, prove...but I'm sure you proved it."

Sherlock's mouth curled in a small smile as he looked down at the sweet woman smiling back at him. Then he straightened himself and fixed his collar again, turning to face the rest at the table.

"Well, now I think I'm ready to head home everyone. Again, it's been a pleasure...Molly," he said, softening his voice as he looked down at her again and nodded.

Then he walked back the way he'd come, taking his scarf from the man who held it out to him expectantly. "Thank you sir," he uttered as he looped it around his neck once more. And with that, he walked out the door that John was still holding in a state of shock.

Greg Lestrade turned to the rest of the table and they all stared at each other. Finally he spoke.

"Oh. My. God. I don't think I've ever sobered up so fast in all of my life."

Molly stood frozen where she stood with a small smile plastered on her face. It was a whole minute till she was able to move and come sit down again with a thud in her seat. She turned after a moment and faced Donovan with a grin.

"Anything else you'd like to say, Sally?"

Sally Donovan raised an eyebrow and could only avert her gaze, unable to come up with any sort of reply. The rest of the table snickered.

...Except of course for Anderson, who sat there with his arms crossed, nodding his head and looking very pleased with himself.

"I told you so," he said again proudly. "I told you! Now who's lowering the IQ of the entire street?!"

Chapter Text

This was what woke John Watson up as he tried to continue sleeping longer in his comfortable bed. Mary's voice split through his head like a wedge, and he winced as she called from the kitchen. He was really sorry he'd had even as much alcohol as he did the night before. And he noted with a groan that he wasn't as young as he used to be.

"John, I'm as big as this whole flat and I'm not getting back up just to show you this! You will want to see this!"

John swore under his breath. "Fine! I'm coming I'm coming! This better be important."

John finally trudged out of his bedroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen where Mary sat at their little table. He flopped down next to her, squinting painfully as the offending sunlight shone through the curtains and right into his face.

"What, Mary? What can possibly be so important?" he asked as he rubbed his face with his palms.

"Well number one, I do not feel bad for you at all. Nobody made you drink as much as you did, all while your pregnant wife sat at home. And number two, this is what's so important." She handed her mobile phone to him, and as she did she added, "You'll want to look at what's trending on twitter right now."

John took the phone, and narrowed his eyes at the screen. But they quickly doubled in size as he began looking closer.

"Holy..." His words fell away as his mouth hung open.

"Yeah. I told you," Mary said with a smirk. "Exactly how much did Sherlock have to drink last night?"

"Uh he- um...a lot less than me. God, I forgot about that!"

"You saw it! My God, why didn't you tell me?!" Mary demanded, smacking his arm.

"You were asleep! I- I...Oh God, I wonder if Sherlock's seen this. Ok, this is crazy. You know, sometimes I forget that this idiot is some kind of celebrity! Oh no, somebody took a video!" he exclaimed, at which point Mary snatched the phone back demanding to see for herself.

"Oh my-Whoa! Look at that!" Mary giggled, holding her hand over her mouth. "Oh he's good isn't he?!"

"Ok, that's it. I'm going to Baker Street early today. I'm not due there for another two hours, but this is a crisis that must be dealt with. Or at least he's got to be made aware of it." John kissed his wife's head, as she continued to watch the same video and erupt in more fits of giggling.

John hurried to get dressed and ready to leave. This was going to be a very interesting day...


Molly was tired that next day. She'd been careful not to overdo it with drinking since she had to be back to work relatively early, but still she hadn't left the pub till after midnight. So the lack of sleep was bad enough.

She'd been rather proud of herself as she'd gone home that night, and then later this morning. She felt that she'd handled Sherlock's bizarre behavior the night before pretty well. She neither overreacted by assuming that he was now in love with her, or became furious at his being presumptuous enough to kiss her in the middle of a pub. It was also...pretty magnificent to say the least. So that certainly didn't hurt. Whatever it was all about, she enjoyed it to the full, that's for sure. And she'd even gotten an instant replay in her dreams this morning before her alarm rudely interrupted the lovely memory.

Molly decided to take a cab this morning, which she did on mornings when she felt she "deserved" it. And based on her fatigue, she felt she did this morning. The cab finally pulled up to the curb by Bart's hospital and Molly paid. She climbed out with her couple bags in tow and began making her way to the door.

She barely registered that there were some people standing nearby the front door till she was almost right on top of them. And right before she could reach the door, a few people got right in her face and then a flash went off. Then began the rapid fire of questions.

"Dr. Hooper! What can you tell us about your relationship with Sherlock Holmes?"

"How long has this been going on between you and Sherlock?"

"Is Sherlock Holmes a good kisser?"

"Did you steal him away from his ex Jeanine?"

Molly was absolutely dumbstruck. She'd never experienced being bombarded by tabloid reporters. She'd developed the occasional bad habit of stuttering and tripping over her words simply from being spoken to by one person, but for multiple people to jump at her was more than overwhelming. She fumbled behind her and finally grasped the door handle, opening it up and escaping into the building. She practically ran, even once inside, though there was no need. They knew better than to go inside the hospital.

Molly threw herself into the elevator and shut the door before anyone else could happen to join her. That's when she dared to pull out her mobile...twenty new text messages from friends and family. Yep, that's a bit above average. She'd gotten thirty seven friends sending her a twenty two second video clip from YouTube. And that didn't begin to touch what was happening on Twitter. She'd never received that many notifications in her life!

Molly let out a groan as she was crazy enough to click on the video link from one of the emails...and there it was. In all its glory. It was almost more shocking to watch than it had been to live it. Nobody else was even there to see it and yet she felt her entire face become the temperature and color of molten lava. When the elevator doors opened, she pushed quickly past the couple of people who were waiting there, then ran all the way to the women's locker.

She wondered exactly when she was going to feel ready to leave it and venture out to do her job. Thank God she worked in a morgue, with a lock on the door.


"Yoo hoo!" Mrs. Hudson called sweetly as she entered the quiet flat at nine thirty that morning. She wasn't surprised that Sherlock was still asleep.

She tip toed down the hall and knocked lightly at his bedroom door...nothing.

"Sherlock! Yoo hoo! You brother is here! I can't hold him off any longer! He won't leave till he sees you!" She knocked again a bit louder.

At that point she heard something akin to a muffled growl, then the shuffle of feet, and then the door opened a few inches. Just enough for Sherlock to peer out at her frowning.

"What does he want?! Tell him to go away and text me later!"

"He won't leave! I tried to tell him I'd have you call him later but he won't have it."

"No indeed, I won't have it," Mycroft's voice came from the sitting room now.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Just a minute," he grumbled at Mrs. Hudson and slammed the door again.

"He's coming," Mrs. Hudson said with a smile as she made her way out of the door.

"He'd better be," Mycroft said, mostly to himself.

A few moments later Sherlock came padding down the hall and into the kitchen, not surprisingly, in a sheet.

"I come over here to have a serious discussion with you, and you come out in a sheet!"

"Please, Mycroft! I didn't put clothes on for Buckingham Palace. What makes you so special?" He made his way to his desk and sat down to open up his laptop.

"Oh good, you're turning on your computer. This will make my job so much simpler," Mycroft sneered. "Clearly you've not been checking social media on your mobile in the past twelve hours."

"Why would I? I have no reason to at the moment."

"Have an enjoyable time last night at the pub with your little friends?" the older Holmes inquired, seemingly changing the subject. "It certainly seems you did."

"Oh relax, Mycroft. I didn't shoot anybody this time," he sighed as he opened his email. Mycroft watched as he saw Sherlock begin to frown.

"Something amiss, little brother?" he asked in mock confusion.

"Why is everybody sending me video links?" he began to mutter quietly at the screen.

Just then, John barged into the flat, making Sherlock look up at him rather confused. He was a full hour early and he looked a bit out of breath. John looked at Mycroft who was sitting on the couch and raised his eyebrows in question first before saying the words.

"Did you show him?" John asked, pointing at Sherlock.

"I was just about to watch him make the enlightening discovery for himself." He looked back at his brother. "Sherlock, why don't you click on that video link?"

"Which one?" he frowned.

"Doesn't really matter, does it? Whichever email you're closest to. I guarantee they all take you to the same place."

John came over and stood behind Sherlock as he followed the link and the twenty two second video began to play. Sherlock's face fell almost instantly when he saw the backdrop of the pub. There was only one thing that anyone in that pub would have taken a video of last night. He watched in some shock and awe, as if he and Molly were people he'd never seen before in his life.

"Oh my God," John breathed out from behind him. He clamped a hand over his mouth for a moment to stifle the laugh that was threatening. "I swear, it gets more dramatic every time I watch it. I think the whole scarf throwing thing really puts it over the top."

Sherlock whirled around and grimaced at his friend. "Exactly how many times have you watched this?!"

"Oh, you know, just a couple times this morning with Mary. She was pretty impressed, Sherlock!" He couldn't help the chuckle that escaped then.

"And exactly what are you doing here, Mycroft?!" Sherlock demanded. "Here to send me to Eastern Europe after all, for public displays of affection? I'm sure they're just dying to find any reason to ship me out again!"

"I'm here to tell you that was a public display of stupidity! You're barely welcome back at this moment. May not be the best time to plaster your face all over the internet snogging Dr. Hooper! Do you think that's what instills confidence in the government that you're back to get serious about the work at hand?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and rubbed his palms over his face.

"Haven't you seen twitter? You must be getting about a million notifications!" John asked as he took out his phone.

"I turned those off a long time ago," Sherlock said with a dismissive wave. "I use it for work, I don't check to see what's going on in my own life!"

"Oh it's spread to the blog too!" John announced, showing Sherlock his phone. "Look, we've got all these comments on my last case post. Two hundred and seventy new comments, and from what I can tell none of them have anything to do with that case...yep, everything I can see are questions about you and Molly."

"Oh, for God's sake! Don't people have better things to do with their lives?! Why can't they go...commit a crime or something?!" Sherlock growled and shut his computer.

"A wide array of photographs at varying angles as well. Rather fascinating," Mycroft added, taking out his own mobile. "All you have to do is search #Sherlockiss." He smiled sardonically.

Sherlock jumped up from his chair clutching at the sheet as his jaw set more firmly as the seconds passed. "Fine! So get rid of it!" he hissed at his brother.

"Get rid of it? You can't be serious, Sherlock. Do you realize how difficult it is to erase a video that's already gone viral, in addition to all the pictures!"

"If you're so terribly bothered by it, then do it! Don't try to tell me you don't have the resources."

Mycroft chuckled. "Perhaps I do, Sherlock. But perhaps I'm also not at liberty to use the extent of my resources on you at the moment."

"Whoa!" John exclaimed suddenly. "This particular shot caught a pretty detailed view of the kiss! You really meant business!" He thrust the screen of his phone toward Sherlock while shaking his head.

Sherlock peered over to examine the picture and his eyes widened. Somehow the whole thing had become a blur in the moment he'd done it, so to see it now broken up in individual moments of time was enlightening even to himself. He began to think it was possible that he'd proved his little point a bit too thoroughly, as that particular picture well illustrated.

Suddenly Mrs. Hudson popped her head in. "Sherlock dear, there's people at the door who want to know if Molly's here. Why would Molly be here right now?"

"Of course she'd not here!" Sherlock thundered. "She's at-"

And then realization hit. Molly...she would be out of her flat by now. He looked at his watch. Yes, she would have gotten to Bart's over an hour ago. Not. Good...

"I'm going to get dressed," he announced as he headed back toward the hallway. "Mycroft, send a car to wait for Mol- Dr. Hooper at Bart's at five this evening."

"I told you, I'm not at liberty to use-"

"Do it!" he yelled. "I'm not asking you to use your precious resources for me. I'm asking so that a small woman doesn't get eaten alive by vicious reporters! Surely Dr. Hooper hasn't done anything in particular to incur the wrath of the British government. So send a car tonight, for her!"

Mycroft raised an eyebrow and exchanged a look with John. "Consider it done."

Sherlock retreated to his bedroom and began dressing. Damage control required the use of his hands. He couldn't be bothered holding onto a sheet anymore. Halfway through buttoning his shirt, he picked up his mobile which he'd left at his bedside when he'd exited the bedroom earlier. He ignored all the email notices, and went straight to his texts. There were a few from John asking if he was up and had been online yet, and saying he was coming over. Then he saw a few from Molly...

ARE YOU UP? -MH

PROBABLY BEST YOU STAY AT YOUR FLAT TODAY. -MH

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T COME TO BART'S. -MH

PROBABLY DON'T GO ONLINE EITHER. -MH

MAYBE PUT YOUR MOBILE ASIDE AS WELL...OH, I GUESS YOU'D HAVE IT NOW IF YOU'RE READING THIS...BUT NOW JUST PUT IT ASIDE. -MH

DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GO ON TWITTER!...BUT NOW REALLY STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! -MH

Sherlock frowned at the screen of his phone. She seemed rather embarrassed, in his estimation. Not exactly surprising, given the circumstances. Though he wondered what she was so afraid of him seeing. It's not as if he wasn't extremely present and participatory at the actual event last night.

He felt he should make some sort of reply, seeing as she'd clearly sent those texts in some amount of panic. They were all within two to three minutes of each other. But the last one was sent a half hour ago. And despite the fact that she'd instructed him not to pay attention to his phone, he could picture Molly repeatedly checking hers and wondering if a reply was coming. So he did reply.

I'M HAVING MYCROFT SEND A CAR FOR YOU AT THE END OF YOUR SHIFT. YOU'LL WANT TO AVOID PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION...AT LEAST TILL THIS BLOWS OVER. -SH

It took less than a minute for her reply to come through.

OH. OK, WELL THANKS. YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT. -MH

YES I DID. I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY. -SH

No reply came after that, and Sherlock wondered if she was feeling a bit resentful. It would be understandable. He had just turned her life upside down in less than thirty seconds. He shook his head as he slipped the suit jacket on. Stupid, stupid! Why did he have to agree to go to that disgusting pub anyway? If he'd stayed home none of this would have happened. He'd proven a point alright. He'd proven he shouldn't get involved in ridiculous social gatherings involving alcohol.

Finally he emerged from his bedroom. John was sitting alone by then and his brother was nowhere to be seen.

"Mycroft said he had other things to do, so he left. He said to tell you he will send the car for her though."

"Mm," was the only reply John got, as Sherlock sat in his chair and began pouring himself some tea that Mrs. Hudson had left while he was getting dressed.

John nodded and pursed his lips as he watched his friend. He began to open his mouth again finally but Sherlock spoke first.

"Don't say it, John."

He frowned at Sherlock. "Sorry, what? You have no idea what I was about to say."

"I can think of half a dozen questions or statements you could be about to make, and I have no desire to respond to any of them." He grinned quickly before taking a sip of his tea.

"How bout, why did you do that last night?"

"Yes, that was indeed one of my guesses."

"And you don't want to answer that question?"

"No. Mostly because I already did. You asked me that very same question in the cab last night. I dislike repeating myself." He opened the paper in front of his face with a loud crack.

John chuckled. "I was a bit out of it last night, Sherlock, forgive me if I can't recall whatever conversation we had in the cab...but I'm guessing this all had something to do with a bit of taunting that was directed at you before Molly's arrival at the pub."

No response from behind the paper.

"Ok, I'll take that as a yes...probably not worth all this trouble though was it?"

More deafening silence from behind the paper.

Then an amused smile began to creep onto John's face. "Unless it was worth it," he said slowly.

The paper came down loudly then as Sherlock glared at John.

John couldn't contain a bit of laughter as he held hands up in surrender. "Sorry it just- it sort of looked like it might have been worth it. I mean, wow."

This earned him another warning look.

"Ok, ok, I'm stopping. Really."

Neither of them spoke for a couple minutes as John got back on his mobile and Sherlock went back to his paper. Sherlock tried to ignore the occasional snickering from his friend as he was clearly reading and watching things related to the previous night's humiliation. It got quiet after a while though, and Sherlock hoped John had moved on...till John spoke again.

"Ok, I'm sorry, Sherlock, but I have to tell you one more thing. Mary just texted me. Not sure I've ever seen her use so many exclamation points." John smiled while shaking his head.

"Oh what now?!" he huffed, setting the paper down again.

"Looks like you have a name now...you and Molly."

"We have a name?" The bridge of Sherlock's nose crinkled in confusion.

"Mm hmm," John hummed, and at first only smirked back at his friend in answer. Sherlock stared at him in waiting, and then John said it...

"Sherlolly."

Chapter Text

"Lestrade sent a text. There's been a murder and a kidnapping. A man is dead and his four year old daughter is missing from the home," Sherlock informed John as he immediately went for his coat.

"Oh my God," John murmured, getting up from his seat. "Where are we going?"

"To Bart's. To see the man's body."

"Oh...well hopefully the reporters aren't still there."

"Oh they are, John. I already checked this morning. Molly said they were still there on her way into the building." The two men headed down the stairs.

"I guess that's not so surprising. It's only been another day...so what did she say to them?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what is she telling reporters when they ask her questions about what's going on with you two? That is what they want to know, of course."

Sherlock didn't answer as he stepped out of the front door. He hadn't exactly considered that question. He was concerned about the fact that Molly may be hounded by reporters, but he never thought about the question of whether she was speaking to them. And if so, what was she saying? Probably nothing.

And then he was rudely reminded of the whole ridiculous issue as he was faced with a few reporters that had been waiting outside the flat.

"Sherlock, can you tell us anything about your relationship with Dr. Hooper?"

He tried not to acknowledge them and pushed past to get to where he could flag down a cab. He raised his hand outward toward the street as he continued to hear the questions fly at him.

John tried to help. "Look, there's been a murder and Sherlock needs to work. This really isn't the time. Excuse us!"

They finally got a cab to stop and climbed in, quickly shutting the door.

"What in the world? Sherlock, this is crazy!"John said as he settled back in his seat and looked at the commotion out the window.

"It'll blow over, John. We just have to give it some time," Sherlock said calmly. Though he had to admit that everyone seemed to be whipped into quite a frenzy over this little incident. He didn't recall this much excitement over the story about him and Jeanine. It seemed like John's mind was going in the same direction.

"You got people all excited over this! I suppose it's the first time though, so they can't help themselves. I mean, the story about Jeanine was a scandal, but the relationship was all over by the time it hit the papers. This is more like the start of something, so it's a new experience for your fans I suppose."

Sherlock frowned at John. "The start of something? Are you as delusional as them?!"

"I meant- Sorry, I meant it looked to them like the start of something! Just- you know, bad wording," John quickly corrected, seeing the fear written on Sherlock's face as he eyed him from across the back seat of the cab.

"Yes...well it doesn't take much," Sherlock added as he then turned his gaze to the world outside the cab. "They used to talk about us, after all."

"Mm, how could I forget?" John groaned.

"Finally put that rumor happily to rest once you got married."

"True...probably not a plausible way to get the reporters off your backs in this case. Though Molly may get another boyfriend. Or maybe she'll get back together with Tom."

Sherlock chuckled. "Unlikely at this point. Unless he lives under a rock, he would have seen all the same pictures and video that the rest of us have."

John did a little double take. "And you find that.. amusing?"

He narrowed his eyes in thought. "Uuuummm...yes."

"Why?" John laughed. "What's wrong with Tom?"

"How about the fact that even Anderson may exceed his IQ? We can't have idiocy rubbing off on Molly."

John pointing an accusing finger at his friend. "I think, you didn't like the fact that he looked like you."

"He doesn't 'look like me.' He just happen to dress like me," Sherlock scowled.

"He did look a bit like you, Sherlock, you have to admit. It's clear Molly has a type."

"Yes, she does," Sherlock answered looking back out the window again. "But Tom was not her type. Her type isn't really so much about clothing and hair. It's clearly more than that. In the same way that you never would have been happy with some school teacher who had a squeaky clean record, Molly never would have been happy with Tom."

"Really?" John questioned a little suspiciously as he crossed his arms and frowned at Sherlock.

"Mm. Obviously."

John peered over at him and thought about saying more, but he dropped it. This wasn't probably the time. Especially because they were nearing Bart's. And sure enough there was a small crowd of people nearby who began to peer over at the cab and get excited because of spotting Sherlock.

"Sherlock, you're going to have to run for it," John said as he saw the people approaching.

"Oh yes yes, I know, I can handle it John," he said, as if he were the subject of steamy tabloid gossip every day of his life.

They jumped out of the cab and jogged quickly to Bart's entrance, Sherlock in front and John trailing further behind, trying to discourage the group.

"Sherlock! Are you going to see Molly Hooper?!" one of them yelled as they followed.

"We are working, you're going to need to back off a bit, thank you! Sherlock doesn't have anything to say!" John yelled back.

They snaked into the hospital and John puffed out a sigh. "You know you're gonna have to start paying me an additional salary for public relations."

Sherlock smirked over at him. "John, you've been doing P.R. at no cost to me for years. Why should I start paying you now?"

"Git," John muttered, shaking his head as they made their way to the elevators.

They got to the morgue and Sherlock pushed his way through the doors. Lestrade stood there speaking to Molly.

"There he is! Make it through the front doors alive? They even tried to get information out of me!" Lestrade laughed. "I said no comment. Here I am working on solving a murder, and I actually had to say no comment...about this!" He gestured to Sherlock and Molly.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and decided not to respond to Lestrade directly. He did however, speak to Molly.

"Did they bother you much?" he asked, lowering his voice a bit as if to exclude the other two men in the room.

"Um, a bit. I just, you know, hurried. It's fine." She offered a tight smile up at him.

She was mildly upset in his estimation. She seemed to be bothered by the whole situation, but was trying to act as if it was no big deal. He began to regret he'd caused this whole mess for a whole lot of reasons.

"So, this is the body?" Sherlock asked, looking down at the table, glad to change the subject.

"Single clean shot to the head," Molly said as she pulled back the sheet. "Instant death. Here's the bullet."

Sherlock took the plastic bag from her, examining the bullet inside.

"Looks like it was...professional. There wasn't even anything disturbed in the house," Lestrade added. "We can see where the killer got in, but that was also done with skill. No prints or anything. It's a bit odd. This was a pretty normal guy. No high powered job or involvement in politics. This sort of killing isn't usually the kind done just for the purpose of kidnapping a child."

"Family situation?" Sherlock asked, handing the bullet back over to Molly.

"Well, he did divorce the little girl's mother about a year back. It's been an ugly custody battle. Neither have remarried, but the father was seeing someone."

"Mums don't have their ex shot if it's going to involve their child getting kidnapped," John added.

"No they don't," Sherlock agreed.

"We've got the mum working with us. She's a mess of course," Lestrade added.

"Who's got money?" Sherlock asked as he leaned over and examined the perfect bullet wound in the center of Robert Lawrence's forehead. "I need to know who in the family has the most resources. A job like this doesn't come cheap."

"Well, his ex Barbara did come from money. And she's still got her mother alive."

Just then Lestrade's mobile began ringing. "Yeah, hello?...Oh my God...Ok, right. I'll be right there."

He hung up and sighed. "The kid's alive. Was found wandering around in a crowded park saying 'take me to the police' and still holding the same teddy bear she had the night before...I've got to go. I'll get back to you Sherlock. I'll email you everything we've got on the ex and her family." With that he hurried out of the morgue.

Molly covered the man's face again. And then the morgue was quiet. John glanced at Sherlock and saw that he was observing Molly.

"Your shift is over, isn't it Molly?" Sherlock asked.

"Well, yes. You can um, leave first though." She yanked her gloves off. "Just text me when you're five minutes away and then I'll leave."

"Isn't Mycroft's car waiting for you?"

"No, actually. I told them not to come today. Who knows how long it'll take for these people to lose interest. I can't just keep using Mycroft's drivers every day. I'll just take cabs till it all dies down."

"Not terribly secure though. Anybody could hop in a cab with you."

"And what? And what, Sherlock?!" she said, suddenly raising her voice a bit. "They're not going to murder me."

Sherlock stared back at her. John looked back and forth nervously between them. He began to wonder if he should offer to leave.

"No, but they are extremely pushy," Sherlock finally said, looking a little irritated now.

"What are you afraid of? That I'll talk to them? What exactly do you think I'd say?"

"That is not why I had Mycroft send his car."

"Isn't it?" she questioned. Then she crossed her arms over her chest and raised a eyebrow in challenge.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at her and shook his head slowly, becoming more annoyed at her suggestion. He hadn't realized she was going to be this upset at him.

"No! That is not why." He looked back at John and demanded, "Wasn't this one of those things you people call 'being nice?' What's the point, if this is the way it ends up being perceived?!"

John decided to ignore the fact that the question was directed at him. He began looking anywhere else in the room that he could and took a couple literal steps back.

"You're just trying to control things, Sherlock. Please don't pretend this is some sort of gallant gesture. You care about yourself." Her tone had turned a little bitter. She almost felt bad when she looked back at him, because he looked a bit injured. But the look was fleeting, and he then returned to simply looking irritated.

Molly hurried to place Mr. Lawrence back in his frozen vault before pulling off her lab coat. John watched Sherlock as he stood silently by, wondering what they were waiting for now. Molly hung up her lab coat and made her way to the door.

"I'm going to get you a cab," Sherlock stated as he followed her path.

"Just forget about it Sherlock," she sighed as she made her way down the hall toward the locker rooms.

"Stop being a child, Molly! I'm taller, I can get a cab faster!" he said more loudly as he pushed through the women's locker room door right after Molly.

John halted in his tracks frowning at the disappearance of both of them. He could hear the two arguing voices continuing behind the door.

"I'll just wait here then, shall I?" he said into the air with an incredulous expression.

A few moments later Molly came out with her bag on her shoulder and Sherlock trailing behind her. John picked up the pace and followed along. He hoped he would be able to remember all these little details to relate to Mary later.

The three of them rode the elevator in silence, except now they could hear constant twitter alerts from Molly's pocket.

"You may want to turn the alerts off," Sherlock offered.

"Thank you, yes. I realize that," she muttered.

"Of course it would also be helpful if you weren't following more than one of my fan pages," Sherlock stated with smug undertones to the statement.

She shot him an angry, hurt look. She then turned back to stare in front of her before answering. "I'm assuming you've checked my mobile."

"Of course I have. Probably because I like to control things."

"Sherlock!" John finally found his voice. He was starting to lose track of who was mad, and who was hurt, and who was in the wrong. But he knew that Sherlock certainly wasn't helping things at this point.

As the elevator opened, Molly darted out, ready to make a run for it once outside. Sherlock easily kept pace with her though, and he forced his way next to her as she went outside. As he suspected, the crowd went particularly wild because of seeing the two of them together. They could barely walk their way to the curb, and despite Molly's earlier irritation, she was naturally huddling closer to Sherlock and John as they tried to navigate.

"Molly! Is Sherlock the reason you broke up with Tom?!"

Her head whipped around to look at that reporter. This shocked her, though she realized it shouldn't have. What were the chances they wouldn't start looking into her recent relationships?

"Tom said you must not be over him, and you're on the rebound with Sherlock because of the resemblance! What's your answer to that?!" the same man said.

"Shut up! She has no answer to such a stupid question!" Sherlock suddenly yelled.

"Molly, wait!" the persistent reporter yelled again, and then reached out grabbing the strap of her bag on her shoulder. This stopped her short and threw off her balance a bit.

"Hey!" John yelled at the man.

Sherlock didn't bother with yelling. He instead reached out a shoved the man away from Molly, making him stumble back against the others. Then Sherlock pulled Molly in front of him against his chest and wrapped an arm protectively around her. With his other arm, he reached out to hail a cab now that they'd finally got to the street.

A cab stopped almost immediately and Sherlock instantly opened the door to deposit Molly in the back seat before climbing in himself. John had run around to the opposite door and climbed in on the other side of Molly. She immediately called out her address, but John saw that she had her face in her hand. The cab began moving.

"Still want to hail your own cabs?" Sherlock asked.

"Give it a rest Sherlock," John warned as he put a comforting arm around Molly and rubbed her shoulder gently.

"Don't let it bother you. They probably didn't even speak to Tom. They were just trying to get a reaction from you," Sherlock said, in a slightly unconcerned voice.

"Yeah well they did succeed in getting a reaction from someone didn't they?" John said, giving Sherlock a pointed look.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and huffed.

"Why don't you just tell them you were drinking?" came Molly's small voice suddenly as she removed her hand and sniffed.

"What?"

"Just tell them you were drunk! Or it was a joke or something! I mean, that's what it was anyway! Just explain it and I'm sure they'll leave us alone," she said wearily.

"That's not exactly how it works, Molly. Whatever I say they'll twist. They'll write and post whatever they like, regardless of what you or I say. Just give them time to...get bored."

"They're never gonna get bored if you keep attacking reporters, Sherlock," John added.

Sherlock scrunched up his face at John. "Oh please! John, what would you have done if that was Ma-" He froze mid sentence. That comparison would not have come out sounding right. He pressed his lips together and saw that John was frowning at him in question over Molly's head. Sherlock ignored the look he was being given and decided to look out the window instead.

They finally reached Molly's flat and she gathered her things. "Thankfully they haven't figured out where I live yet. Probably will by tomorrow though."

Sherlock opened his door and got out, allowing Molly to exit. She walked by him and headed straight for the steps up to her door.

"Molly?"

She looked back at him.

"I- I am sorry," he said in all seriousness.

"Yeah, I know," she said with an expression that was difficult to read. "I know you are."

Then she unlocked her door and disappeared inside. Sherlock frowned for a moment at the empty space where she had stood. Then he got back in the cab and John gave the driver his address.

"Why don't you come back and eat with me and Mary tonight?"

"I suppose," he said quietly.

"You ok?" John pressed.

"I'm fine."

"Ok...that's good. You think Molly's gonna be ok?"

"I'm sure she will be."

"You think you might want to explain to her, you know, why you kissed her?"

Sherlock was silent for a moment, then he pursed his lips and took a breath before responding.

"I don't know, John, she seems to have a pretty good handle on it already."

"Does she? She mentioned drunkenness and joking. I'm not sure that really covers it."

Sherlock tipped his head in thought. "Mmm, close enough."

"Ever think that maybe you're bothering her just as much as the pushy reporters?"

"Probably goes without saying...I bother people all the time," he stated matter-of-factly.

John nodded in silence as the cab drove. That was pretty accurate.


They got to John's flat and went in the door. When they rounded the corner, Mary was sitting on the couch with her feet up and her tablet propped on her pregnant belly.

"Oh hi guys!" she said cheerily as John came over and kissed her. "I hope you're ordering something. I can't even imagine standing for long enough to put a meal together!"

"Sure, we'll order something. What have you been up to?" John asked, then looking at the tablet.

"Oh, you know, just...online stuff," she said smiling up at the two men.

Sherlock eyed her suspiciously and then grabbed the tablet away from her. He began looking over the screens that she had open and his face contorted in horror. "Is this what you've been doing? Who's side are you on?!" he demanded as he shoved the tablet at John.

John gaped at the screen as he looked over what Sherlock had just seen. He went to the YouTube window and began playing the previous video in the history.

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" she said as sincerely as she could manage between laughs. "Look, I'm pregnant and stuck at home, and I'm bored! And frankly, this stuff is just too good. I mean c'mon, listen! They've started putting the video to music!"

Sherlock looked toward the tablet John held out to show him, as the familiar video began playing. Though this one had been edited in slow motion with some sort of black and white filter as well, and as background music, the chorus of "Latch" by Sam Smith began playing.

Sherlock's eyes doubled in size. "Oh dear Lord..." he managed to whisper.

The video ended, paused at the moment where Sherlock pulled away but still held Molly's face, gazing down at her intensely.

There was silence in the small room for a moment till Mary let out a heavy sigh and placed a hand over her heart.

"God that's beautiful," Mary breathed, and John snorted out a badly concealed laugh.

Sherlock managed to open his mouth again after swallowing thickly. "Th-that video was titled Sherlolly FTW...What's FTW?" He wondered vaguely if he even wanted to know.

Mary looked hesitant at first, then cleared her throat. "It's uh...For The Win."

John completely dissolved into laughter.

Chapter Text

"I really prefer the one where it's regular speed when he walks over and tosses the scarf, but then it goes to slow motion when he grabs her face and kissed her," Anderson said with a thoughtful expression. "Just, really brilliant editing."

Lestrade nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I've seen that one! Isn't that the one that's got that Foreigner song 'I Want To Know What Love Is?' Oh, that's classic!"

"People are doing a lot with the pictures now too."

"Oh, you mean the pictures of the kiss?"

"Well, yeah, those of course. But now there's the ones from yesterday outside Bart's. Everyone's going nuts over those! Have you seen them?"

"Show me quick!" Lestrade said, jumping over to where Anderson sat with his phone. "Sherlock will be here any minute."

The two of them peered at the screen. "There. See? These were taken outside of Bart's while they tried to fight off the crowd of reporters and get a cab. I mean, look at that!"

Lestrade's expression actually turned serious as he examined the pictures that Anderson scrolled through. "So...these weren't edited or anything? You mean these are all just real pictures?"

"Sure. I mean people are doing all sorts of things with them of course. But what you're looking at here is exactly what happened yesterday. No editing."

Lestrade examined one of the picture with Sherlock's arm wrapped securely across Molly who stood in front of him. His long arm draped easily from one of her shoulders across to the other, and was anchored there. He had his other arm extended to hail the cab. And he was very subtly watching over his shoulder, keeping the offending crowd in his sights.

"Wow...so you don't think- I mean, do you think it's actually possible that...you know, Sherlock could..." Lestrade glanced at Anderson who looked back at him with eyebrows raised. He grinned in the usual way.

"It's obvious!"

Lestrade shook his head a little as he looked back at the picture. Certainly was amazing how a picture could twist reality...whatever the reality was. Just then he was removed from his thoughts by the baritone of the detective himself approaching his office.

"Solved!" he announced happily as he came through the doorway and slapped down the file on Lestrade's desk. Sherlock noticed how Lestrade and Anderson seemed to stand up rather quickly, with an I didn't do it expression on both their faces. He looked suspiciously back and forth between them.

"Still on filing duty Anderson?" Sherlock asked smugly.

"I help with other things," he answered proudly.

"Yes, congratulations on that," he sighed sarcastically. "Anyway! I solved the case, Lestrade!"

"Well, the ex Barbara is still maintaining her innocence. You think it was her?"

"No. Not her. It was Barbara's mother! With minimal effort I was able to uncover loads of evidence to the fact that Barbara's mother, Sharon Blake, has never liked her ex son in law. She didn't attend the wedding, never said one positive thing about him or her daughter's marriage on any social networks she was following them on. And even made a few snide comments. Then there's the finances. The Blakes come from money, and as evidenced by their style of living, that's important to them. Robert Lawrence was decidedly in the lower middle class. Then the marriage heads south, and Mr. Lawrence was fighting for joint custody. Barbara didn't want this, based on her court document."

"So, why wouldn't it be Barbara? I mean maybe she wanted Robert dead, but had her rich mother loan her the money," Anderson interjected.

"Anderson, this is not one of the things that you're allowed to help with! Thinking logically would make us conclude that it couldn't be Barbara. She's by all accounts a responsible and loving parent. No, she wouldn't take the chance that her daughter's then only surviving parent would be caught for the crime and taken away. But! The grandmother would sacrifice. She would be willing to remove the problem for her daughter. Knowing that if she was caught, she would have at least ensured the life that she believes her daughter and granddaughter deserve. And of course there's the additional obvious evidence that the little girl was found alive and well, clearly having been given the instructions to ask for the police. Whoever had that crime committed made sure that the little girl was completely unharmed...Love. A vicious motivator." Sherlock smiled at the conclusion.

"Well...yeah that does make sense. I'll check into the grandmother's bank records. If there's any large withdrawal, that'll be enough to bring her in for questioning." Lestrade said, writing a note for himself.

"And I believe that is exactly what you will find," Sherlock said confidently. "You're welcome."

He narrowed his eyes at both of them again. "What exactly were the two of you doing when I came in here a minute ago?"

Both men shrugged. "Nothing important, really," Lestrade said unconvincingly.

"Social media about myself and Molly then?" Sherlock said immediately.

Both men looked sheepish and wouldn't make eye contact anymore.

"Excellent," Sherlock said with an eye roll, heading back to the door. "I'll just go then, knowing that the safety and security of the city is in your very capable and professional hands...gentlemen." He nodded to both of them and took his leave.

Lestrade elbowed Anderson. "Thanks a lot!"


It didn't take long for Mrs. Sharon Blake to be arrested for the murder of Robert Lawrence. The evidence was there, as Sherlock had known it would be. The press was excited, of course, about the detective's solving the case so quickly. Later that day, they gathered outside 221B eagerly awaiting Sherlock and John's statement.

"I'll go down in a minute, John. I'm not done with my tea yet," Sherlock said nonchalantly.

"Well hurry it up! I'd like to get home to Mary before it's too late."

Suddenly Mrs. Hudson came flying in the flat giggling uncontrollably and holding her newspaper.

"Mrs. Hudson?" John questioned, laughing a little himself at the woman who seemed to be completely losing it.

"Sh- Sherlock! What is this?!" she giggled out, holding up the second page's story about him and Molly. The story had at least a half dozen pictures. Some from the pub, and some from the incident with the reporters at Bart's. "Is this some kind of joke?"

Sherlock cleared his throat. "You can't believe everything you read in the papers, Mrs. Hudson," he said calmly, and took another sip of tea. But he also gave her a small smile.

"Sherlock, you're kissing Molly!" She looked at John, dropping her voice a bit as if Sherlock then couldn't hear her. "Did you know that he was...like this, when you two lived together?"

John pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed before responding. "Wouldn't have been my business, Mrs. Hudson! Sherlock can snog whoever he wants! I couldn't care less!" he yelled.

"Bit unexpected, Sherlock! I had no idea she'd appeal to you in the least!" she added, looking back to the detective. "I just might have to check this video as well. The article says there's a video on YouTube."

Sherlock set his empty cup down then and stood to button his suit jacket. "Well, Mrs. Hudson, I'd say you're the only person I can think of that rightly deserves to watch that video. Because we both know that I've discovered some rather unseemly history of yours on YouTube. I'd say, it's only fair."

He strolled over to give her a kiss on the cheek as she continued to stare down at the pictures and shake her head in shock. Then Sherlock exited the flat with John following him.

"You think she'll ever get it?" John asked as they flew down the stairs.

"Not likely," Sherlock answered honestly. "We could both be married to women, with three children each, and she'd still have her own ideas."

Sherlock opened the front door and the flashes went off. They both stood with the microphones and video cameras in their faces and Sherlock answered a few questions about the case. He was just about to say good evening and turn around to leave when...

"Sherlock! Are you and Dr. Molly Hooper involved in a relationship?"

Suddenly the flashes all went off again and Sherlock glanced at John, though he tried not to make any clearly readable facial expression. He scanned the crown of reporters and saw their faces all light up and watch him expectantly.

He considered his options. Of course he could say 'no comment' and simply turn around and leave again. But he began to think that it could possibly speed the process of boring these reporters if he were to give them answers, but make them the most un-amusing and simple answers available. Saying no comment could actually leave them to their own deductions, which were currently running wild. So he opened his mouth.

"No, we are not," he answered flatly.

Another reporter asked, "Were you ever in a relationship?"

"We never were."

"Are you in love with Dr. Hooper?" another one asked.

"I am not."

"Was the kiss in the pub case related?"

"It was not."

"Can you tell us why you kissed Dr. Hooper?" yet another reporter asked.

And just as Sherlock was formulating an answer to this question, another one followed quickly on it's heels.

"Did you kiss Molly because she helped you fake your suicide three years ago?"

Sherlock mentally stopped in his tracks and his face turned stony. He scanned the small crowd that watched him with baited breath. And he scanned it again, and again. John began looking back and forth from the reporters to Sherlock who was frowning and looking back at them. Finally Sherlock opened his mouth to speak again, but something had changed in his eyes.

"As I have said before, I do not discuss anything about my faked death and subsequent disappearance beyond what I've already shared. I'll thank you not to ask me about it again. Good evening." He turned and quickly went back through the door with John following, as the reporters kept yelling out more questions.

Once the door was shut and locked Sherlock flew up the stairs and John hurried after. They got in the flat and shut the door and John frowned at his friend.

"What was that? What happened down there?"

"John, I need to go see Molly," he said quickly as he went down the hall and into his bedroom. John followed, watching him in confusion as he opened his window.

"Out the...fire escape?" he questioned.

"Yes, out the fire escape."

"Uh, right ok...why? What's going on?"

"I don't know who asked me that question."

"What question?" John asked as Sherlock was already halfway out the window.

"The last question, about Molly and her helping me fake my death. I heard them all speak, and that question didn't come from any of them. Either someone was hiding among them, or it was a recording."

"Meaning..."

"Meaning someone other than the reporters cares about that subject! And I can think of someone who might. Someone who's recently shown his face again. Someone who might be very sorry they underestimated the worth of a certain pathologist many years ago," Sherlock said with a somber look back at John as he set both feet down on the fire escape.

John's eyes widened and his mouth hung open for a second. "Oh God..."

"Not quite...Anyway, I need to go speak to her. I just can't have anyone knowing I ran off to her flat at the moment, thus the fire escape. Go ahead and go home to Mary. I'll keep you informed. The fact is though," he said as he began to take the first two steps down the ladder. "This may be the very worst time for me to appear to be in love with Molly Hooper."


Molly sat propped comfortably in bed reading her book and getting more and more emotionally invested as the pages were turned. What a lovely way to spend her evening, blissfully forgetting her problems for a brief moment and enjoying the angst of others in the written word. She wished the respite wasn't so brief, but she was enjoying it all the same.

She had no idea how very brief it was going to be.

She clearly heard the window's lock being picked. Her first reaction was to jump out of bed, and then she began scanning the room for something to throw. She thought about simply grabbing her phone and leaving the flat...then she saw the dark curly head in the fading sunlight.

Molly took a deep breath, trying to make her blood pressure come down. She took a seat on her bed again and crossed her arms in expectation of his entrance. A minute or so later, the window finally swung open and Sherlock came in feet first. He landed on the floor still facing the means of his entrance. He fixed his coat, ran hands roughly through his hair, then turned around to see her sitting there. He didn't even flinch.

"Ah Molly, you're home. I knew you would be," he said with a smile.

"Right. Yes, here I am. Can I...help you with something?" She couldn't help finding it endearing in the moment that he was so incredibly oblivious to the awkwardness of this scenario.

"Molly, have you spoken to any reporters in the past day? Have they asked you any questions that were different from the ones you were already asked?"

Molly rolled her eyes then. "No, Sherlock. I haven't spoken to them. In fact I've been home today. I took a couple personal days from work. In fact I was advised to take them!"

"Oh good! Good," he said, and looked thoughtful for a moment.

"Why are you so worried that I'll speak to them?"

"I have good reason, Molly! Obviously I would, if I bothered to come all the way over here and break into your window in order to be discreet! Not that your window is at all difficult to break into!" he said, his tone quickly moving to one of irritation.

Molly looked up at him with an expression of hurt. A voice inside Sherlock, maybe it was John's or maybe it was even his own, told him to stop and take a step back. Molly needed to understand what was going on. He needed her to trust him. And this was not how to earn Molly Hooper's trust. It wouldn't work to barge in and just give her a list of instructions. First she needed to be reminded of why he cared to even be here in the first place. And there needed to be some kindness involved. It wasn't hard either, when he stopped and looked at her, to remind himself that this was the woman who once saved his life...

"Molly," he began again, taking a seat a couple feet away from her on the little bed. "Forgive me. If I've made you believe that I don't trust you with the reporters, I'm sorry. I don't trust them, but that's all. I don't believe that you have one malicious bone in that little body of yours. So even though I know that you don't always approve of me or my actions, I know you'd never do or say anything to hurt me or discredit me. And I know you'd never lie about me, unless it was to protect me."

She stared back at him, thinking that he knew her just about as well as he could. It was all true of course. It didn't matter how angry she got at him, or disappointed she was in his choices. She'd never want anything but for him to be safe and happy...I'm not Jeanine, she thought to herself.

"You're right. I'm glad you know that. I'd hate to think you don't trust me like you used to," she said quietly, and offered a smile.

"I've always trusted you, Molly, and I always will. But right now, I need you to trust me. If anybody asks you about what happened three years ago, when you helped me fake my death, do not answer any questions. In fact, just run. And then tell me immediately."

Molly frowned and began to look genuinely worried. "Why? What's going on?"

"Molly, I'm afraid somebody is taking interest in your involvement those years ago. Somebody asked me a questions about it today. I'm not sure who, but I believe it was not a reporter. They asked me if that was why I kissed you."

"Yes, I saw it on the news," she said.

"Nobody has bothered to ask me about that time period till now. It was so long ago, and most of the focus has been on the past couple days. So the question was unusual. I hope I'm wrong, but my fear is that the interest is coming from Moriarty."

Molly had a visible change in breathing pattern and her eyes doubled in size. "What? B-but we don't even know if he's alive! I mean, maybe he's not. And even if he is, what would he care? I- I'm nobody really! I mean, you could have pulled it off without me, I know you could have," she spouted off, desperately trying to come up with good reasons to make herself feel safer.

"You're probably right. If I didn't happen to know a woman who worked in a morgue and who was willing to risk everything for me..." He took a deep breath. "I would have come up with something else. However, I did go to you. And perhaps that's not even what interests him most. Perhaps he's as drawn in by recent media coverage as everyone else is...a good fairy tale," Sherlock said quietly, looking off into space for a second.

"I saw it though Sherlock," she said softly. "I saw you tell them that we're not together. And that...you're not in love with me."

Sherlock gave her a half smile that was half comfort and half apology. "Even I know enough to realize that my actions of late would suggest otherwise to the public."

Molly looked at her hands in her lap and pressed her lips together, unable to meet his eyes. But she nodded, realizing that he was correct.

"Moriarty hates boredom perhaps even more than I do. He won't do the same thing twice. He's not going to waltz in and threaten the lives of John and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson. You though...you're different." His voice dropped lower.

She hazarded a glance then, and met his blue green eyes as he continued.

"As much as I cared about those three friends, that's all they ever were. And Moriarty would have known enough about me to know that's all they ever could be. I was never going to fall in love with John, or Lestrade, or Mrs. Hudson." He gave a unique expression of distaste to each of the names as he spoke them, and Molly couldn't help a brief smile of amusement.

"But you...I would by lying if I said that Moriarty could say the same about you. In his mind you could at least possess the possibility of- of something more. And although he never got the impression that I cared years ago, I've given him ample evidence to the contrary these past couple of days. And so, I may have inadvertently put a target on your back. For that, of course, I am sorry."

Molly drew a breath and let it out slowly. This certainly changed things. She really didn't want to think about the fact that she could be a target of Moriarty. It was terrifying. She had felt so brave when it had come time to save Sherlock. But she didn't feel so brave when it came to protecting herself. She also realized though, that she needed to become the woman she was three years ago if she was going to face this same danger again. For her sake and for Sherlock's. Nothing would be gained by turning to mush.

"Ok so...what do we do? Should we try to act like we hate each other or something?"

"That would be tricky. We have to continue working together. We can't avoid each other completely. And beyond that, if we took it to an extreme to appear at odds, it would probably look suspicious. I'm not sure that we can erase what we've- what I've cause the past couple of days. It's a bit late. Unfortunately, it doesn't even matter now if we aren't together. I've planted an idea, and it has grown rather quickly in everyone's mind. Now, everyone wants us to be together." His eyes widened briefly as he spoke the words.

"Yeah, I know," Molly said with an embarrassed chuckle. "They ship us."

"I'm sorry?" Sherlock frowned. "Ship us? Ship us where?"

Molly laughed again. "Ship, like, short for relationship. When you say you ship two people, you mean you want them to be in a relationship. Like, for example, you ship John and Mary."

He stared back at her evenly, considering this. "That has to be the most ridiculous expression I've ever heard in my life. I can't imagine the level of stupidity for somebody to actually come up with such a thing on purpose!...Though I do in fact ship John and Mary," he added quickly.

"Yes, I know you do." She giggled.

"Anyway, look, my point in speaking to you was to make you aware. I want you to be alert to anything you think is odd. Tell me immediately if you see or hear anything that makes you uneasy. And trust me that I would do everything in my power to make sure that nothing would happen to you. I owe you at least that."

"So you're, repaying a debt?" she asked, and it was fine if that's how he was defining this.

"No...I'm protecting a friend," he said softly.

"Oh," she breathed out, feeling her cheeks color a little. She tucked her hair behind her ears before looking back at him. "Thanks."

He smiled warmly and nodded. There was a moment where they were frozen like that, then Sherlock got up and went back toward the window. After he opened the window, he turned back to her again when she addressed him.

"I take it you've seen the video and all the pictures then?" she asked slowly.

"Naturally...and you?" he asked.

"I have," she answered with a small nod.

"Right...no shock to us, I suppose."

"No, none," Molly answered quickly, then kicked herself for the silliness of the next statement when she added. "We were there."

Sherlock nodded slowly and pressed his lips together, before releasing them again. But he said nothing as he looked back at her.

They both appeared a bit unsure for a moment. There was still something hanging in the air. Molly considered asking the question that haunted her lips. Why did you really kiss me? She was beginning to wonder if she really knew the answer. She had thought she knew, but now the seed of doubt had been planted and begun to grow...but the moment passed and she decided that it was a question for another day, and another time.

"Well, I'll say goodnight then," Sherlock finally said.

"Right. Goodnight, Sherlock," she said as naturally as possible, and smiled.

He climbed quickly back out the window, closing it behind him.

A moment later, Toby jumped onto the bed, now more comfortable that the intruder had left his bedroom. He curled up next to Molly and began purring and she absentmindedly scratched his head as she continued looking at the window, even though it was now still and there was nobody behind it. She looked down at her cat and smiled at the face that couldn't smile back.

"Well Toby, let's just pray he doesn't discover Tumblr."


"Hello, brother," Mycroft answered the phone call. "Exactly where have you been? Clearly not at Baker Street."

"Very good deduction. But you should have known where I went...which brings me to my reason for calling. I need you to watch Molly Hooper," he said as he navigated behind the buildings for a while. He didn't want to get back on the main street and hail a cab till he was far enough away from Molly's flat.

"Don't be stupid, Sherlock. I'm already watching her."

"I know...watch her more. Up the surveillance. Up it as high as you can. She may be a target now. I don't want to be taking any chances."

"You're one to talk. Isn't it you who took the chance? Perhaps you should learn to control your urges brother mine."

Sherlock could easily see the sneer over the phone.

"Oh just do it!" Sherlock hissed. "Do your best to remember she helped save my life!"

"It's already done, Sherlock," he answered in a more serious tone. "It was as good as done the moment you asked. You know that. Just do me a favor, and be more careful. If you can't take care of your own goldfish, perhaps you just shouldn't have any."

There was a moment of silence, then Sherlock finally responded. "Thank you Mycroft...good night." And then the line went dead.

He finally left the alleys behind the buildings soon after and hailed a cab to take him back home. Once he could relax in the back seat of the cab, he took out his mobile and sent out a message to all his homeless network as well. He sent instruction to keep an eye out for Molly Hooper's safety, as well as reporting anything out of the ordinary to him. He trusted Mycroft, but he also believed in covering all bases.

Along with the message, he also sent a picture of her. And the best he could do was to grab the newspaper that was sitting in that back seat with him and snap a couple pictures from the article about himself and Molly. He sent a shot of the closest picture taken as they stood on the curb outside of Bart's the day before. Her face was easily visible, so it served the purpose.

Sherlock scanned the pictures in the article with an analytical eye once his text had been sent off. He sighed to himself as he looked them over. He felt like an idiot. It was as if he'd handed Moriarty all the leverage he could ever want on a silver platter.

And he dearly hoped he wouldn't find himself on the losing side this time.

Chapter Text

"You don't want coffee do you? Please say no. I'm so sick of smelling that heavenly aroma and not being able to enjoy it myself!" Mary said bitterly.

John chuckled. "Ok then, no. No thank you, no coffee for me." He kissed Mary's head. He figured he could just as easily make some coffee at Baker Street. He sat down next to her at the table where she was sitting with her own tea and laptop.

"Mary, is that your Tumblr account?" he asked, scrunching up his face as he looked over the page.

"Mm hm. Yeah it is. Why?"

"Um, you seem to have a lot of things on here about Sherlock and Molly," he said, eyeing his wife with a frown.

"I'm sorry, I think it's nice. I just, I don't know...I think they'd be great together," she said with a shrug.

"Sherlock? I'm not sure Sherlock would be great with anyone. You have met him. I mean, you know what he's like. It's miraculous I survived living with him. I can't imagine a woman being in a relationship with him. And I don't count Jeanine! Because that wasn't Sherlock. Not really."

"But Molly knows him. She gets him! And I also think she gets to him. I mean it's hard to deny when you look at the evidence!" Mary turned the laptop slightly so that the screen was more visible to John.

"Oh you mean all this evidence?" John laughed. "You're as bad as the rest of them! Sure, if you watch the same twenty second video over and over again you're bound to become brain washed eventually. I mean honestly, Mary, lots of people kiss. That does not mean they are always destined to be together forever! It's all so ridiculous when you think about it."

"John, it's not just the kiss. Have you watched it? I mean really watched it carefully? You have to watch his face. Look at his face right after!" She scrolled down to show him the slow motion gif that was playing.

John sighed and watched as it played. Sherlock pulled slowly away from Molly's lips and his eyes locked onto hers...and they stayed locked. The invisible electricity held their faces close and ignited his friend's eyes, and it took a while for Sherlock's hands to slid from Molly's face. Then the loop began again.

John shrugged and shook his head a little. "Mary, I explained why Sherlock did it. He could've been, you know, still putting on a show. Even after the kiss was over."

"John, I didn't only know how to kill people in my past life. I also knew how to read them. And let me tell you, Sherlock Holmes is no exception," she said with a bit of pride as she crossed her arms over her large stomach.

John shook his head again. He couldn't argue with his wife's skills in that regard. But he was still having a hard time imagining that what Mary was suggesting could actually be true. He also knew that Mary's opinion of Sherlock and Molly was the least of their worries. In fact, she may be able to put her many skills to use.

"Well do me a favor and at least keep a watchful eye as you're blogging away. Sherlock thinks Moriarty could end up targeting Molly. If you see anything that strikes you as odd or threatening, get in touch with Sherlock immediately. This isn't exactly all fun and games anymore." He got up to grab his keys and wallet.

"Well then," she said, also getting up with some difficulty, and then wrapping her arms around her husband's neck. "I think I am exactly who you want to be at the forefront of social media. I will now consider myself on a mission. The perfect mission for an ex assassin who's pregnant and stuck at home."

"Have I mentioned lately that I'm a little bit crazy about you?" he smiled down at her.

"Mm, not since yesterday." Mary smirked and then pressed a kiss on his lips.

"I'll call you later ok? No having the baby without me!" he teased as he left the flat.


Sherlock sat hunched over his laptop when John entered the flat. His shirt sleeves were rolled up, his hair looked more out of control than usual, and his expression was contorted in something like confusion or horror or maybe worry.

"John," he said, not even looking up. "This has got to be the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I was willing to let it go. Deal with the temporary humiliation, until things simply cooled down on their own. But now I can't do that, no! I can't just ignore it all, now I have to keep an eye on it! Now, the safety of a friend is at risk, so I have to comb through all that the internet has to offer in the way of Sherlolly propaganda! I think, John...that I'd go to Eastern Europe right now if I could."

"You don't mean that!" He laughed as he took a seat.

"No, of course I don't mean that. I am, however, making a point about how especially distasteful this is." He sighed loudly as he tapped away at the keyboard.

John smirked to himself as he watched Sherlock scroll through what looked like a Tumblr feed. He could only imagine the things he had encountered thus far. He almost enjoyed watching his friend suffer in this rather amusing way, but he had to be honest...

"So, what would you say if I told you that I've hired a very qualified and willing participant to monitor all that social media has to offer in the way of, as you say, Sherlolly propaganda?" John smiled proudly as Sherlock's head snapped around to look at him.

"What? Who? Hired who?" he asked rapid fire.

"Oh, you know...my wife. Mary." John smiled again.

Sherlock's eyes widened. "Oh thank God!" He immediately jumped up from his seat and closed his laptop with a loud snap. He took a couple steps over to arrive at his chair and collapsed into it with a thump.

"Feel better?" John asked, trying not to laugh.

"John, I've seen things..." he said in a deadly serious tone, and closed his eyes momentarily before they shot open again as if he'd then been greeted be the memories in his head. "Which cannot be unseen."

John could no longer hold back the laughter. This was a man who'd seen horrific crime scenes, dealt with the worst sort of criminals, and even committed the crime of murder. And this was what he wished he could un-see? "People are creative aren't they?"

Sherlock inhaled deeply, then blew the breath out slowly. "Disturbingly so."

"Well, no need to be disturbed anymore. As I said, Mary is quite literally on the case."

"And I am forever grateful. I'll get in touch with her and make sure she knows what to look for in the way of suspicious activity and perhaps tell tale wording. But I can honestly say I have complete confidence that she is reliable and knows what she's doing."

"Of course she does...I chose her," John said with a smirk, remembering the conversation that took place in this very room. He was glad he could look back on the memory now with some fondness, instead of bitterness.

Sherlock smiled at that as well. Then he took out his mobile and shot off a text to Mary.

I HEAR YOU'RE ON THE CASE. WELCOME ABOARD. TRY TO BE ALERT TO ANYTHING UNUSUAL OR MENACING. SHARE ANYTHING WITH ME THAT YOU BELIEVE TO BE RELEVANT. MOLLY'S SAFETY MAY DEPEND ON IT. -SH

Not surprisingly, Mary responded with blinding speed.

I'LL HELP KEEP HER SAFE. DON'T WORRY. I'LL UPDATE YOU OFTEN. -MW

I AM MORE GRATEFUL THAN YOU KNOW...WILL TELL YOU IF THERE'S ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR. -SH

I KNOW YOU WILL. WOULDN'T WANT ANYTHING TO RUIN YOUR OTP...XO -MW

Sherlock chuckled to himself and then let out a contented sigh and set his mobile down. "Excellent! Now I can focus on other things!" He clapped his hands together happily.

"Cases?" John asked, hoping the answer was yes since he'd come all the way over here.

"Cases indeed, John. Now that is something I can handle!"


They took a couple cases that day. Neither were higher than a six, and that was frustrating to Sherlock. He did bother to leave the flat anyway thought, simply for the benefit of distraction. There were times when focusing on any case was better than no case at all. Or in this instant...better than focusing on his own case.

But by five thirty in the evening they were back at Baker Street and John was getting ready to go home to Mary. Sherlock threw his suit jacket off and lay back on the couch, already bored out of his mind.

"Sherlock, are you um, you ok here? You can come back to our flat if you'd like." John often felt bad these days, when it was time to head home and there was Sherlock with nobody to keep him company. And John knew that the man needed company more than he'd like to admit.

"I'm fine."

Course he was. "Oh, by the way, a couple days ago when you snuck over to Molly's...how did that actually go? I didn't really talk to you yesterday, so I never heard anything more about it."

"It went fine. She understands the possible threat. Knows that she needs to be watchful and aware and all that, and also that she needs to keep any and all information about the events of three years ago to herself."

"Oh good. But um...is everything ok, I mean between you two? Seemed a little tense the day before that."

"Oh yes, that's fine too. I made her understand that I not only trust her but that I care about her safety and well being first and foremost and that that was the motivating factor behind my actions."

John nodded slowly. "So how did you do that exactly? Make her understand, I mean."

Sherlock paused and then turned his head so that he looked at his friend. With narrowed eyes he tried to deduce the actual meaning behind this question. Then he closed his eyes again and turned his head to its previous posture on the couch pillow as he answered.

"Oh you know, John, the usual way...I threw her onto the bed and snogged her till there was no more breath left in my body." He slowed down at the end of the sentence, punctuating each word for emphasis. Then he turned his head again and looked at John with a raised eyebrow.

John shook his head. "Yeah, very funny."

"Do me a favor, John, do try to keep a level head in all of this. I can't have absolutely everyone around me falling victim to the plague of the internet's and the media's version of reality. If I can't count on anyone else, I'd like to think I can count on you to see what the reality truly is."

"Yeah I know, relax, Sherlock. I'm not planning a stag night for you or anything. I was just curious."

"Well if you're curious, the truth is that I used words. Words combined into sentences to explain that she is a friend, and she may be in danger, and I want to protect her. Not exactly fit for Tumblr, but there you have it."

John laughed on his way to the door. "It is beyond amusing, Sherlock, that you even know what is and isn't fit for Tumblr!"

"Believe me, John, when this is all over, I will be directing all my energy into deleting what I know on the subject!"

"Oh come on, don't delete it all! How will you get the jokes when we tease you later?"

"Watch it, John! Or I will not hesitate to start sharing with you some of the things that I saw about us!"

"Dear God, no! Keep your mouth shut, I am leaving!" John said with a grimace as he began exiting the flat. "Text me if we've got cases tomorrow."

"Mm," Sherlock replied, hoping that there would indeed be cases.

It was probably a half hour later when Sherlock finally opened his eyes to the silence around him. He'd spent enough time cataloguing the events of the day in his mind palace. That was done, and now he wanted something else to do...

His phone began buzzing around the table, alerting him to a message. He reached his arm over and groped around till he connected with the device and then looked at the screen. Two texts from Molly.

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I WOULD SAY YOU SHOULDN'T COME TO BARTS UNLESS IT'S AN EMERGENCY...BUT I DO HAVE SOMETHING I THINK YOU'LL WANT. -MH

That message was from twenty minutes ago, so another had followed more recently.

OK, NO SURPRISES I SUPPOSE. ITS AN ARM. -MH

Sherlock sat bold upright and his eyes widened. Oh, he could think of at least half a dozen...no, a dozen things he's like to do with that arm. It could keep him busy for days in the event of cases being slow going. He fired off a response.

A WHOLE ARM? -SH

A WHOLE ADULT MALE ARM...INTERESTED? -MH

Sherlock thought for about thirty seconds...yes, this would be simple enough.

IN FIFTEEN MINUTES GO AND UNLOCK THE WINDOW IN THE WOMEN'S LOCKER ROOM. THEN LOCK THE DOOR FROM THE INSIDE AND HANG THE MAINTENANCE SIGN ON IT...PLEASE AND THANK YOU...I'LL BE THERE IN TWENTY. -SH

SEE YOU THEN. -MH

He happily jumped up and pulled his suit jacket and coat back on. This was turning out to be a good evening after all.


Sherlock landed on the floor of the women's locker room and then reached up to fix the lock again. He couldn't help but think that there's been an awful lot of entering and exiting rooms through windows since this whole mess with Molly had begun. He ran hands through his hair as he made his way to the door. He opened it carefully, looking around the hallway. He left it unlocked and then swiped the maintenance sign to take with him. Then he made his way briskly down the quiet hallway till he got to the morgue.

Sherlock pushed his way through the door and Molly saw him right away.

"Oh hi. Right on time," she said with a smile and motioned for him to come over to the table where she stood and she began to open the large plastic box.

Sherlock came over and peered in. "Oh...look at that," he murmured in appreciation.

"Mm, lovely isn't it? You see why I bothered to make you risk the press."

"Oh, it was worth it. What were the circumstances? Not that it'll change the fact that I'm taking the arm."

"Prisoner was killed. Rather brutal I'm afraid. Poor man had no family though. So he was donated for teaching purposes...but I salvaged this bit," she said with a proud smile.

Sherlock responded with a sideways glance and a smile that made the effort more than worth it for her.

"It will be a bit more difficult to get this thing home though. Let's wrap it up in this ice. Then I'll carry it in a bag instead. Easier than this box."

"Agreed. I'll get a bag to wrap it in, and another large bag for the whole thing." She made her way over to the supply closet and came back a moment later with two bags. She also handed Sherlock some gloves to put on.

Before he could put the gloves on, his phone alerted him and he saw he had a message from Mary. This worried him for a moment, but he only rolled his eyes when he saw the message and followed the link.

"What? What is it?" Molly asked, seeing the expression change.

"Just beginning to question Mary's ability to maintain a professional work ethic, that's all."

"Oh, is she working with you two now?"

"Sort of...she's actually helping you. I've delegated the responsibility of monitoring our little issue on social media and the internet to her. Actually John delegated, much to my relief. Mary is aware that we want to watch out for anything that might indicate danger or threats, and she has more than the skills necessary to detect such a thing."

"Well, that's nice. Nice she's willing to help out, I mean." Molly meant it. She was happy to hear that anybody at all was doing something to help keep them safe.

"Yes, she's terribly willing it seems. She may be enjoying her new job too much." Sherlock sighed. "She just sent me this."

Molly leaned over to look at Sherlock's mobile. The email was simply titled "Drama Queen." Then Sherlock touched the link and it played a gif which was all of about five seconds long. It was a slow motion clip of Sherlock as he had pulled his scarf off in the pub and threw it off behind him.

Molly couldn't help laughing. "Wow! That's...that's just glorious. I think I sort of missed the beauty of it in the moment."

Sherlock huffed a little as he put his phone back in his pocket. "I don't understand how someone is taking a two second moment and feels the need to slow it down and watch it over and over again! I mean what is the point? That's not even the kiss. Why does anybody care about me removing my scarf?"

Molly stared at him and frowned a little. "Um, that's a rhetorical question, right?"

"No. It's a question question!" he said with a sarcastic wag of his head as he pulled the gloves on.

"Because, Sherlock!" she began, but found the words getting stuck behind her lips. Oh relax, she thought. You're the one he kissed. You can say it. "It's...it's sexy." There was no helping how her voice dropped a bit.

"I'm sorry?" He laughed a little with his face contorted. "The removal of my scarf is sexy? What is the matter with all of you? No wonder you can't use your brains the way I can! You're all too busy thinking about things like that! And everyone wonders why I avoid relationships!"

"Of course you pulling your scarf off is sexy!" Molly asserted, gaining a little more confidence in the conversation. "You had to know that! Why else would you have done it?"

He pursed his lips and shrugged as he carefully wrapped the arm in the plastic bag. "It's a bit...bulky. I thought it might be in the way. Given the height disparity, it could have been...in your face. It made sense at the time!" he said in a slightly haughty tone.

Molly held the large bag open as Sherlock then tipped the box's contents of ice into it.

"Well then, how lovely and thoughtful I suppose." She giggled.

She was suddenly struck by the strangeness of the whole situation. Here she was, packing a cadaver arm into ice for Sherlock. And at the same time they were laughing about the particulars of the kiss they had recently shared. If she had told herself this six months earlier...in a million years she never would have believed it. No matter what the circumstances were. Given the comfort and ease of the moment, Molly decided to mention something else.

"So, um, Tom called me."

Sherlock shot a look at her for a second, before returning to the task of placing the wrapped arm in the ice filled bag.

"Did he?" he said calmly.

"Yes. He said that the uh, reporters have been trying to get to him too...He wasn't too pleased about the whole situation."

"Yes well, neither are we," Sherlock said, feeling no sympathy. But he added, "No reason for him to be angry at you, though."

"Oh, well, he wasn't actually. He was more...upset at you," she said sheepishly.

Sherlock chuckled a little. "Am I supposed to be concerned?"

"Well, no, I suppose not. I'm just...telling you. So you'll know. In case you were ever to run into him."

"Thank you for the warning, I suppose. Not sure I'd need it though. Any man who imagines that a meat dagger is an acceptable murder weapon is probably about as dangerous as your cat. I'd say that Tom is the very least of our problems."

Molly tried to still her laugh. Somehow it was still too recent, and it felt wrong to be laughing at Tom's expense with Sherlock. She didn't want to be one of those people who breaks up with a person and then begins cutting them down and laughing at them at every opportunity. But she also didn't want Sherlock to think...

"I'm not getting back together with him," she suddenly blurted out, and the second she'd said it, it sounded stupid to her.

Sherlock barely blinked, as usual. He looked briefly at her before finishing tying up the bag. "Good," was his simple answer.

She tried to contain the look of surprise. "Good?" she questioned.

"Yes...good," he repeated, with a why am I repeating myself sort of expression.

"Ok...no, actually, I mean why? Why is that good?"

Sherlock drew a breath and then responded. "Well, I personally never cared for the man. He seemed dull, boring, and nowhere near your equal in intelligence. It would also be an inconvenient time to mend a broken engagement, seeing as you are plastered all over papers and the internet, kissing me. Oh, and I also didn't care for the constant comparison of appearance." He wondered once it was said if he should have actually added that part.

Molly blushed then, and began taking her gloves off, glad to have something to put her hands to work with. "Yes, um, sorry about that."

"It's fine," he said quietly. Is she apologizing for dating a man that was similar in appearance? What does that mean exactly? The conversation was taking a turn that he wasn't sure he was willing to follow. He had to admit it was partly his fault.

"I think I'm all packed up here," he said, breaking the subject off there.

"Right, yes. Looks like you are." Molly was also rather grateful for the shift. She wasn't sure if she was ready to get into the 'why were you about to marry someone who looked like a Sherlock Holmes impersonator?' talk. It was a sort of embarrassing tale, one she wasn't terribly proud of. Probably the reason she'd gone with the old standby 'we met through friends' line. It was a stretch, but at the time, standing there in that stairwell, there was no way she was willing to explain why she really ended up dating Tom.

Sherlock gathered up the large, and now rather heavy bag, and made his way to the door.

"Isn't your shift over?"

"It is. I'll go out the front- no, it's fine. There were only a couple reporters today. I think they're getting discouraged already. It's looking hopeful." She offered a smile.

"Well, that's something I suppose. Though social media is likely to take much longer to die down. In fact that only seems to be growing stronger every day. I couldn't believe, when I was on Tumblr-"

"Oh God, you went on Tumblr?!" She clasped a hand over her mouth.

Sherlock couldn't help a smile of amusement as the deep red blush spread up her neck and face.

"Clearly you have too." He chuckled. "Frightening, is it not?"

"I hope you didn't read anything! Or- oh God! I hope you didn't see any art work!" She winced, awaiting his response.

Sherlock cleared his throat and tried to sound as neutral as possible. "I assure you, Molly, I have seen a wide variety of...almost anything you can imagine. As a matter of fact...I hope that much of it you can't imagine."

Molly covered her face for a moment and groaned into her hands. This made him laugh a bit. Yes, he had been shocked at what he'd seen online in the past couple of days. But Molly's reaction fit squarely into the definition of mortified. The fact that she would be so disturbed at the fact that he had even seen some of the things that other people had made and written about them, it was a little funny.

"Yes well, you can see why I was happy to hand the social media watch dog job over to Mary."

Molly finally uncovered her face again and was willing to look at him, though the blush had hardly faded. "I can't believe you saw all of that. I searched...our hashtag once. And that was enough. I just- I couldn't even- I couldn't!" she said shaking her head vigorously. She knew it was sort of silly to be so embarrassed by all of it, but she couldn't help it.

He chuckled some more as he left the morgue and she followed him down the hall back to the women's locker room. He went in and then leaned back out of the door way to smile at her fondly.

"Thank you, Molly. I appreciate your going to the trouble of saving this for me."

"My pleasure." She smiled back, having regained some composure.

Suddenly Sherlock's gaze shot up and behind Molly, down the hallway. "What was that?" he questioned, being sure he'd heard a noise.

"I don't know. I don't see anyone." Molly peered down the hall as well. "Maybe just someone in maintenance. It is getting late."

"Did you lock up the morgue?"

"I did."

"Good. Come in here then," he said, opening the door up more and ushering her inside. "You need to get your things anyway."

And she did. She hung up her lab coat and got her bags from her locker. Then she turned to look at Sherlock who was unlatching the window.

"Care to go through the window?" he offered with a smile and a gesture to the opening on the wall. "You may as well."

Molly smiled slyly. "Are you worried about a little bump in the hallway?"

"Well you...can't be too careful."

"Ok, I suppose."

Sherlock began climbing out first. The window was ground level, which was about shoulder level for him. But that was too high for Molly to simply pull herself up through. Once Sherlock was on the ground she handed her bags to him. Then she sort of eyed the window and wondered how she'd manage this...

"Here, I'll help," he offered, seeing the problem as well. Sherlock knelt down on the ground leaning his arms and head back through the window. "Put your arms around my neck."

Molly tried really hard. She tried really really hard to shut off that part of her brain. But it wasn't easy to do. Once she reached up and did as he instructed and one of his arm locked around her back, a wave rushed over her. There was nowhere for her face to go except the curve of his neck and shoulder. There was nothing to smell but him. And there was no sound except that of his breathing near her ear. Up till then, she hadn't thought too hard about the memories of that kiss of a few days before. But now she couldn't help it. This felt so similar. Being locked against him like this, she could almost feel his lips again. The memory was now so clear, she could literally almost taste it. And she was so lost in the vivid memory that she barely noticed as he used his other hand on the side of the window to push himself backward, and effortlessly pulled her from the window onto the pavement with him.

She slid her arms away from around his neck as she turned to sit on the ground, and realized that she was shaking. She was actually shaking. And she hoped that he wasn't being observant enough at the moment to notice.

Sherlock stood up and Molly purposely stood quickly on her own before he could offer a hand, worried that he'd feel it trembling. She was a little disturbed at the rush of feeling that such a brief contact had caused. And she was very sure that Sherlock should not be alerted to it.

"I'll just go round to the front and catch a cab," Molly said, steadying her voice and picking up her bags.

"All right. I'm going to walk a couple blocks before I get one...Be careful," he said with a small nod.

"Yes...you too." She nodded back before they parted ways.

Sherlock turned his collar up and walked briskly as he could, carrying the heavy bag. He was glad he'd come to the hospital. He appreciated Molly's thinking of him, even at a time like this. And he was glad he'd have something to keep busy with for the next few days or so. It was a bit of extra effort going in and out of Bart's at the moment. But it was worth it...for the arm.

All was well...

Until the headlines were seen the next morning.

Chapter Text

Sherlock groaned and rolled over on the couch, almost falling off the edge. His mobile buzzed around the table next to him. He looked at the screen and saw that Mary was calling...at seven in the morning.

"You'd better be having the baby," Sherlock mumbled.

"Morning, Sherlock," she answered cheerily. "You tired?"

"Mm...I only just got to bed..." He glanced at his watch. "A few hours ago."

"Oh really? Late night then was it?" He could hear her smiling over the phone.

"What are you smiling for? It's too early for smiling," he grumbled.

"Oh, I'd think you'd be the one smiling this morning, Sherlock. Did you have fun last night?"

"I'm getting rather tired of people cryptically asking me if I had fun the previous night. Why am I being asked this time?"

"Maybe I should be more specific. Did you have fun at Bart's last night?"

Sherlock felt himself wake up more fully and he sat up on the couch, rubbing his face with his hand...Of course. He sighed heavily.

"Pictures?" he asked simply.

"Oh yes. A few good ones. The women's locker room, Sherlock? Seriously? You really wanted to see her didn't you?"

Sherlock could see her smiling again.

"Don't get all excited. I had to go. It was- Molly had a...a whole arm."

Mary let out a peal of laughter. "Oh, Sherlock...if you think that's the most thrilling body part that Molly has to offer, you're not being very imaginative."

He rolled his eyes as he got up and stretched. "It was a cadaver arm! Obviously."

"Obviously!" she mimicked. "And it's just as obvious that you can't stay away from the woman for more than twenty four hours. If you're hoping to discourage the media's interest, this probably won't do the trick."

"I thought we were careful! Besides, I think it rather goes without saying that I don't care much about what people think of my personal life. If they choose to take every look and every move I make around Molly Hooper as proof of my undying love, then so be it. I won't have this affecting my work or my habits! I'll not stop going to Bart's just to discourage them. I can handle the tabloid headlines. I've done it before, and I certainly never lost sleep" he said smugly.

"Can she handle it?"

"Molly understands I'm trying my best to protect her. But I don't believe she would want to drastically alter our interactions either."

"Mm, I imagine she wouldn't."

"Stop being suggestive, Mrs. Watson," Sherlock said pointedly.

She only giggled in response.

"Alright, tell me," Sherlock continued as he started water running for a bath. "What do they say?"

"Oh boy, it's good stuff! Let's see here, we have...'Temperatures Rise In Bart's Morgue!' and 'Sherlolly Rendezvous In Bart's Basement!' and 'Romantic Deductions in Women's Locker Room!' Shall I go on?"

"Ugh! The locker room! I knew I heard something in the hallway! Probably was someone in maintenance, just like Molly said. Except that someone saw the opportunity to cash in with some mobile phone pictures!" He ran his fingers through his hair, thinking that he should have seen this coming.

"Why did you pull her in the locker room with you?" Mary asked with a laugh.

"Because I heard the noise in the hallway! It was late, and her shift was over. So we both left through the window. I was trying to be...careful."

"Nicely done, detective."

"And the pictures? Are they all from the hallway?"

"Yes. You're talking to her in the doorway in a couple, but then there a couple more where you're putting your arm around her and pulling her in the locker room with you."

"Well...at least the pictures ended there."

"Why?" Mary said in a sing song voice. "What happened in the locker room?!"

Sherlock sighed loudly. "Obviously nothing! I simply helped her out of the window! Though that involved a significant amount of physical contact, and therefore would provide a greater amount of ammunition for the internet masses. That's all I meant!"

"Ooh sorry, Sherlock, I think you were cutting out there for a moment. All I heard was 'significant amount of physical contact.' Oh well, I heard the important part right?" He could hear her trying to contain giggling.

"I don't care if you're married to John, or if you could kill me in one shot. I will not hesitate to confiscate all your internet enabled devices, Mary Watson!" he said through gritted teeth.

"Oh sure!" she said mockingly. "I'll be glad to hand the job back over to you. Where would you like to start searching today? There's the videos, and then there's the fan art. Oh, and there's my personal favorite, the fan fiction. There's a lovely little one just up this morning all about the details of your visit to Bart's last night. Lots and lots of detail...would you like to hear?"

"Stop stop!" he finally said, and added wearily, "Yes, never mind, you're hired again...do carry on."

"Mm, I thought so. Sorry, Sherlock, but if I'm going to do this for you you're going to have to put up with hearing my comments on the matter. I'm not gonna hold back just because you're still bent on ignoring your own feelings."

"I don't have feelings!" he hissed.

Mary chuckled on the other end of the line, then let out a sigh. "Sherlock, don't forget what I told you."

"What's that?"

"I'm not John...I can tell when you're fibbing." And then she hung up.

He set the phone down and then began quickly unbuttoning his shirt in preparation to climb in the bath he'd started. He huffed to himself and shook his head as he pulled his shirt roughly off his arms.

"Not fibbing," he mumbled to himself forcefully. And just then, he heard his phone again.

BIT OF A PROBLEM...MY SUPERVISOR WANTS TO SEE ME ABOUT THE PICTURES FROM LAST NIGHT. I'M GUESSING YOU'VE SEEN ALREADY. :( -MH

Sherlock sighed. This wasn't surprising.

I HAVE, YES. JUST DO YOUR BEST TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE PICTURES, AND FOR MY PRESENCE IN THE LOCKER ROOM. BUT DON'T TELL HIM WHY I WAS ACTUALLY THERE. -SH

WELL YES, I CERTAINLY CAN'T TELL HIM YOU WERE ACTUALLY THERE TO PICK UP AN ARM. BUT WHAT DO I SAY INSTEAD? -MH

Sherlock took a deep breath and paused for a second, then typed off a response.

JUST TELL HIM I WANTED TO SEE YOU. -SH

OH...OK. YOU SURE? -MH

WE CAN'T HAVE YOU LOSING YOUR JOB AT BART'S. BESIDES, MY WANTING TO SEE YOU IS HARDLY THE WORST THING BEING SAID ABOUT US LATELY. -SH

THANKS SHERLOCK. :) -MH

Soon after, Sherlock climbed into the warm water and laid his head back against the tub. He closed his eyes and tried to relax a bit.

He didn't care what people thought of him. He really didn't. He never had in any other aspect of his life, and this should be no different. Sherlock wasn't bothered much by all manner of beliefs about him which ranged from him being an asexual virgin, to being some sort of a womanizer who was using someone like Jeanine purely for his own emotionless gratification. Nothing in the large range of opinions affected his work. He was still the world's only consulting detective. And a successful one too. And that's all that really mattered. If the idiots of the world wanted to speculate about what he did or didn't do when the cases were solved and the door of Baker Street was shut and locked, that was their problem. Not his.

But he had to admit that there was something unsettling about the opinions about himself and Molly. And it was separate from the concern about Moriarty's interest. Almost every rumor he heard about himself was nothing but a bunch of silly words that he had no problem deleting and brushing off. But this felt different. Perhaps it was the fact that he'd actually been the direct cause of this rumor, and he had nobody to blame but himself. Or perhaps it was the fact that it was affecting the life of an actual friend, and not just himself. Or perhaps it was because it was something he couldn't so easily escape from mentally and physically.

Whatever the reason, he had to admit that it plagued his mind more than he thought it should...but! He still vowed that it wouldn't change his life. Working with Molly Hooper was an important part of his life and work. He needed the little pathologist who worked at Bart's. And he refused to change that because of a few Tweets and fictional stories. He promised himself that he'd change nothing, unless the actual safety of Molly depended on it.

He took in a deep breath and dipped his head beneath the water for a moment, trying to clear his head...

It was disturbing though, the way the sensory effects of the warm water hitting his mouth brought recent memories flooding back, reminding him of other warm feelings against his lips. And the way the water filling his ears turned all other sounds in his flat into a dull hum, reminding him of the way every other deafening noise in a crowded pub had suddenly become ten times quieter...

Sherlock surfaced quickly, wiping his face and pushed his hair back again while gulping air.

It was probably best to stay above water for now.


Two days later, Sherlock was pacing around Lestrade's office and demanding to be given a case.

"Sherlock, I can't just make a serial murder case appear out of nowhere! I'm not the one that commits the crimes!"

"Well, can't you start doing so in your spare time? It would help me immensely!" he retorted sarcastically.

Just then Lestrade got a call. He was trying to stay over to the side of the room despite Sherlock's edging his way closer to try and overhear. Finally he said goodbye and hung up, having not said much to indicate what the call was about.

"Well?" Sherlock demanded.

"Look, this isn't really your area, Sherlock. Sounds like it just a matter of confirming identity. An abandoned house was being demolished and some remains were discovered underneath the bottom floor. The man who lived there twenty years ago had claimed his wife left him and nobody ever found where she went. Sort of looks like this is where she went." Lestrade pulled his coat on.

Sherlock clapped his hands together. "Excellent! I'll come along."

"Why? The man who lived there died ten years ago and everyone knew he was a nut job who used to beat his wife! There's nothing to solve if that is the woman we think it is."

"So?" he questioned, looping his scarf around his neck. "Remains under a house, and you think I wouldn't want to see? Do we not know each other?"

Greg Lestrade chuckled as they left the office. "Ok fine. Oh, and we'll need to pick up Molly. She can collect the remains and then take it back to Bart's for the official testing...Think you'll be able to keep your hands to yourself today?" He took out his phone, sending off a text to the pathologist.

"Again, Inspector Lestrade, do we know each other?" he repeated.

Lestrade smile to himself as they left the building. "Good question, Sherlock. I'd venture to say, not as well as I thought."

"Don't get carried away, Lestrade. A detective inspector shouldn't be so easily swayed by the media," Sherlock answered in a tone of superiority.

He laughed in response as they got into his car. "I'm swayed by what I saw with my own two eyes, Sherlock! That was a serious kiss!"

Sherlock didn't respond and stared out the window as they began driving. Lestrade went on.

"I mean I realize you were trying to prove us all wrong or something, but come on! You're not dead either! You had to have enjoyed that."

Sherlock cleared his throat and finally turned to look at Lestrade with a frown. "Why yes. I very much enjoyed the look on all your faces." He grinned.

Lestrade rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you're smart enough to know that's not what I meant. And evading the question is another way of answering the question! Don't think I can't see that!"

Sherlock made a face of mock surprise and gave a little gasp. "My my, are you practicing your skills of deductive reasoning? Rather impressive. I must say, you're about as far off base as you could possibly be, but excellent try all the same. Perhaps someday, with loads of practice you won't have use for me anymore!"

"Getting defensive too eh? I don't think I'm as far off as you say...but we won't argue about it, Sherlock. It's your life, and it you want to live in denial, that's your right. Course, it's just a shame you're stringing Molly along for the ride."

Sherlock then narrowed his eyes at the detective, a bit of anger creeping in. "Stringing Molly along? I think you'll find that Molly Hooper is in no way confused about where she and I stand with each other."

Lestrade's expression changed. The teasing gleam in his eyes and the laughter faded away, and he looked at Sherlock with a seriousness that wasn't there before. Because he realized that Sherlock really may not understand what he was doing. Not in a case like this at least. And then he felt a little sorry for his friend. So his tone was different when he answered.

"You sure about that, Sherlock?" Lestrade asked more gently, peering into the detective's icy eyes.

Sherlock looked back at him evenly, opened his mouth slightly, closed it again, and then turned back to look out the window. But Lestrade was sure he saw a little deviation in those eyes. A moment of question and doubt. And he hoped it was enough to make Sherlock think.

"Molly's coming out to meet us," Lestrade said a few minutes later as they pulled up near the front of the hospital. Then he looked over at Sherlock as they noticed Molly leaving the front door and making her way towards them. He began to offer, but was cut off. "You want me to-"

"No, I'll do it," Sherlock said immediately, and got out of the car.

There were more tabloid reporters hanging around again based on the locker room pictures from a couple days before. So they got excited when Sherlock got out of the police car and walked quickly over to hover a hand on the small of Molly's back and usher her over to get in the back seat of the car. Lestrade drove off quickly the second that Sherlock's door shut.

"How do you deal with that all the time, Sherlock?" Molly asked from the back seat as she breathed a sigh of relief.

"I don't. I've never been this wildly popular with reporters before. They were interested before of course. But never like this. Perhaps you're actually more popular than I am." Sherlock turned his head slightly so that his smirk was visible to Molly in the back, but he didn't see the way she smiled back.

Lestrade saw it in the rear view mirror. He saw it clear as day.


Molly sat on her knees, examining the skeletal remains in the dirt hole. There were bits of garbage bag around the area, clearly having completely covered the body many years before. She gingerly used her gloved hand and slid a pair of rings off the finger that was now just a bone. She placed them in an evidence bag and put them aside.

Sherlock came and crouched down next to her, peering down as well. Molly immediately ran through her discoveries, knowing that's what he wanted to hear.

"Woman in her forties or fifties, so I'd venture to say that this is who they think. And they're trying to rustle up a picture form somewhere that has her wearing her rings. That'll help. Dental records too of course."

"Family?"

"No. Her extended family seem to be deceased or never had any contact. And thank God they had no children. Not the sort of discovery they'd appreciate...Poor woman," she breathed softly, looking down in the hole. There was a slight tremor in her voice.

Sherlock looked at her in genuine wonder. He was usually challenged on a daily basis at feeling for the people who were living, breathing, and closest to him. And here, on the other end of the spectrum, Molly Hooper could look into a dirt hole where there was nothing but a pile of bones...and she could feel hurt for this long dead stranger. And in a rare moment of feeling on his part, before he could begin to rethink the impulse, Sherlock placed a hand on her small shoulder and gave it a squeeze of comfort.

The second he did it, he wondered if he should have resisted. Her head turned and eyes locked onto his with an expression that was half shock and half...something much softer. Something terrifyingly soft. Partly terrifying because he kept looking back at her, and couldn't turn away for just a moment. Finally he remembered to blink, and he stood, causing his hand to leave the place it had been on her shoulder. He placed his hands protectively in his pockets then, and focused back on the hole in the ground.

Molly got to her feet as well and she called to Greg. "Have you got all the pictures you need? I'm ready to get her back to Bart's if you're all set."

"Actually, the rest of us might be a while here. You know how these things usually end up going," he said apologetically. "You don't need to stick around if you don't want. I can have her taken back to Bart's and you can deal with it tomorrow. Probably won't be able to get the dental records before then anyway."

"Oh ok, that's fine. No problem. I'll just head back then. My shift doesn't end till eleven, so I may end up being able to start some of the paperwork later. If you get her there within the next few hours."

"I'll text you, ok?" Greg said with a wave and then rushed over to talk to another investigator.

Molly turned back to Sherlock with a small smile. "Well, I'll be heading back then."

Sherlock nodded and Molly started to slowly turn and head for the exit of the half torn down home. And for some reason, he followed.

"Had dinner yet?" he asked as he easily caught up and walked to the road next to her.

"Um, no, I suppose not," she said with a small frown of surprise at the question. "I'll get a bite when I get back to Bart's."

They stopped at the edge of the road and Sherlock stared out into the evening air for a moment. Then he looked back down at her and spoke after drawing a breath.

"When are you expected back?"

"I'm, not sure," she answered hesitantly. "They know I was needed at a crime scene, so I'm not sure when anybody expects me back."

Sherlock pursed his lips. "Well, you'd have time for some real food then." He grinned.

"Real food?"

"Yes." He raised his arm to hail a cab. "You never did go to that fish shop I mentioned last year."

Molly froze. Sherlock glanced back with his arm still raised, and saw the way she stood staring at him in question.

"What?" he asked.

"You uh, you think that's a good idea? I mean, that's a rather...public place, isn't it? I just thought that maybe we- Or maybe you would rather not be seen..."

"Molly, have you ever known me care what people think?" he questioned, causing the bridge of his nose to crinkle in that especially lovely way.

"I suppose not. But, what about safety?"

He smiled and gestured to himself, looking pleased. "You're with me."

Molly couldn't help but laugh a little. Apparently the man considered himself to be the very embodiment of the safest place available. It was actually incredibly endearing. Molly's smile spread a bit as she finally answered.

"Ok, sure...why not?"

Chapter Text

Molly climbed into the cab and Sherlock followed, then he gave the driver the address. They were then silent for a few minutes as the cab drove. Then Sherlock spoke.

"I never did quite work out why you wouldn't go to dinner with me that day you assisted me solving crimes."

Molly whirled to look at him. This evening was becoming like something from an alternate universe.

"Well, um, I don't think I ever actually said I wouldn't."

"No. You didn't need to though. Clearly you were uncomfortable with the idea."

Molly examined her hands in her lap then. True, she had been. The events of those months ago played back in her mind and it was almost funny as she remembered it. He'd invited her to dinner, she'd neither accepted nor rejected, and yet the offer was dropped and never mentioned again. They parted ways and the night was over, just like that. But typical Sherlock, he didn't even need an answer to come out of her mouth for him to know what the answer was.

"Well, you seem to think you know why I didn't accept. So why are you asking me about it?"

He took a slow breath and looked back out the window as he spoke. "What doesn't make sense is that you arrived at Baker Street that day, and were quite prepared to have dinner with me. You assumed that was the reason I'd wanted to see you." He looked back at her.

Molly looked at him nervously. He was right. She had assumed as much, and then opened her big mouth about it!

"So why," he continued. "Were you suddenly unwilling to have dinner with me only hours later? And don't say your engagement. You were as engaged that afternoon as you were that evening," he said with a wave of his gloved hand, already dismissing the excuse as invalid.

And he was right, once again. It wasn't Tom. It was her. She'd arrived at Baker Street that day feeling rather confident in herself. She was a happily engaged woman who had a friend that had recently come back from the dead. And he was just a friend, always had been. She was simply happy to see him alive and well. So she would have been happy to accept a friendly 'I'm back home' dinner invitation that day when she'd first arrived. But all that rational thought had gone right out the window by the time they'd left the last client's flat and were standing in the stair well. And suddenly she was afraid to go eat dinner with Sherlock Holmes. It felt like cheating. Because her heart already was.

Of course none of this could be explained in detail to Sherlock...

"Well, I just...I had more time to think about it by then. And I didn't think that it would have been wise. Because I didn't want Tom to get the wrong idea. It was just something I hadn't had time to think of earlier in the day. That's all," she lied.

He examined her face, and she was afraid he was carefully deducing her and realizing she was lying through her teeth. It was almost the same look he gave her when they stood there at the bottom of the stairs that day. But whether he realized she was lying or not, he simply nodded and turned back to look out the window.

A while later, they sat at a small table near the back of the little fish shop. The owner did know and love Sherlock, for "helping him put up shelves" as he had put it. So he'd placed them a bit out of the way. And he did indeed give extra portions, just as Sherlock had said. Molly continued munching slowly on the many chips that were still left on her plate and listened to Sherlock talk practically nonstop about some of his more interesting experiences while dismantling Moriarty's network. It was interesting, though that didn't matter terribly.

Molly was enjoying this. And in his own way, Sherlock seemed to be enjoying it as well. She imagined that it wouldn't have been so enjoyable if it had been all those months ago. She was glad that it was now, and not then. Back then she would have been feeling guilty. Now, there was no guilt as she smiled and blushed slightly once in a while as he talked. Or when she laughed a little at his description of some of the identities he had to take on in order to remain undercover. There was nothing hanging over her head.

He stopped suddenly though, and his eyes shifted back and forth in thought. "John has informed me that I shouldn't talk at people incessantly. Perhaps I've been doing that this evening."

"Oh, no no!" Molly immediately responded. "I liked listening, really. I mean, he's right. It's not always nice to talk at people...but I didn't mind tonight...Do you miss it? Having John to talk to all the time I mean."

Sherlock shrugged. "Sometimes I still do. I forget he's gone. I find myself still talking to him. Probably even more than the skull." He smiled.

"It's been a long time...that you've been alone I mean," she said cautiously.

He stared back at her evenly, not reacting much. But she thought she could see his gaze falter a little, and turn a little somber.

"It's been close to three years now that you haven't had a flat mate. More specifically your best friend as your flat mate," Molly added gently, trying to feel him out. Was this why he'd suddenly asked her to dinner again? The last time was when John was still angry with him.

"Well, I still have John, after all. It's not exactly the same of course, but he's still here. Besides...I do have many friends now." He gave her a half smile.

Molly smiled back as she pushed her hair off her face and behind her ear. She couldn't hold his stare for too long though, and started glancing around the restaurant. She couldn't help but notice a couple of tables full of people sneaking looks at them. Molly looked back at Sherlock and nodded her head in the direction of the onlookers.

Sherlock glanced over inconspicuously and he rolled his eyes as he looked back at Molly and shook his head. "We can't possibly be the most fascinating thing in London. These people should feel sorry for themselves."

Just then, the owner came over and slapped Sherlock on the back merrily.

"How was everything? Hope you got to eat in peace, Mr. Holmes! You're a popular man." He smiled at Molly too.

"Thank you, yes, everything was fine...I'm not sure exactly what everyone is watching for though. They're going to end up spectacularly bored!"

"I'm sure they're hoping for a 'scarf toss pub kiss' repeat," the man said lifting his eyebrows suggestively.

Sherlock frowned at Molly, then at the owner again. "I'm sorry, hoping for a repeat of what?"

"Oh, you know, the kiss!" he answered, then he said a hurried goodbye and rushed off to go scold someone in the kitchen.

Molly and Sherlock looked at each other with expressions of confusion.

"Are people really...Is that what they're...calling it?" Molly began hesitantly.

Sherlock calmly took out his phone and began typing. "I don't know, but I know someone who will."

HAS THE GENERAL PUBLIC NAMED THE KISS THAT I GAVE MOLLY? -SH

Sherlock set his mobile down on the table as he then also paid the bill. Molly protested, but he insisted that it was his idea to eat here, and it was no trouble at all. By the time the bill had been paid, Sherlock's phone alerted him to a message.

OF COURSE IT HAS A NAME. I CAN'T BELIEVE I HAVEN'T SHARED THAT LITTLE GEM WITH YOU YET...IT'S THE "SCARF TOSS PUB KISS." WOULD YOU LIKE A TEE SHIRT MADE? ;) -MW

Sherlock read the message, sighed, then handed the phone to Molly. Her eyes widened a bit as she read, and her blush was spreading as she handed the phone back.

"I'm not sure what to say to that. I've never had a kiss of mine be important enough to be named before. Not that I can take much credit, I suppose. I think the drama of it was really all your doing."

"Yes well, I was attempting to...never mind. I really shouldn't have been drinking. I think that's the vital point." He cleared his throat in some embarrassment, picked his coat up, and stood from his seat.

They left the small restaurant and walked out to the street to catch a cab.

"I'm heading back to Bart's. So, I'll just take my own cab. You're not far from Baker Street."

"Right, of course." He nodded, and raised his arm for a cab. One came to a stop a couple moments later. "Here, you take this one."

"Thanks, Sherlock. Oh and, thanks for dinner. It was...nice. I'm glad I finally got to eat here." She smiled at him as she stood in the open door of the cab. She suddenly felt nervous; that familiar nervous feeling that one gets at the end of a first date. Which was silly. Because this wasn't a date. Of course it wasn't a date.

"You're welcome." He smiled back and gave a small nod. "Good evening, Molly."

"Yes, good evening," she said softly, then quickly got in the cab before the awkward feeling got worse. She knew that if it went on, she would become much more likely to say or do something she'd later regret. Best to make a rapid exit, just in case.

She laid her head back on the seat of the cab and took a few deep breaths as it began driving. He's feeling guilty. He feels guilty that he's caused so much media attention for me to deal with, and he's trying to make up for it. That's all this is. The last time he asked you to dinner there was a good reason for that too. He was just saying thank you. Do not, I repeat, do not read into this Molly Hooper! she thought to herself.

She reached into the take away container that held the remainder of her chips and she shoved another into her mouth. It was a pitifully unsuccessful distraction. She wished in that moment that she could be more like Sherlock. She wished she could shut down, and shut herself off from everything remotely emotional. She realized of course that he did occasionally have emotional and vulnerable moments. But he was clearly able to control them almost completely. If he didn't want emotions to dictate how he felt and what he did, then he simply didn't let them. Most of the time she felt sorry for him and believed that he was deprived of a lot of the joy in life because of his living like that. But then there were moments, like this one, where she firmly believed that he was the one who enjoyed the greater contentment in life.

And even though she wasn't the woman she used to be, the silly stuttering woman who barely even got called the correct name by the detective, there was no denying that she still wished she had more. And now it was all the harder to be denied what she truly still wanted.

Because the world around her now believed a lie, and it was a constant reminder to her that it would never become a truth.


Sherlock worked some moderately interesting cases for the next couple of days. John accompanied him on a few. Mary's visits to the OB were becoming more frequent now, and he couldn't be counted on as much as before.

Sherlock actually wished there would be some sort of news of Moriarty. It hadn't truly left his mind for a moment that the man could very well be out there somewhere, and possibly taking an interest in his life. He knew how Moriarty worked though, and that when he wanted to be in any sort of contact with Sherlock, he would be. And till then, he would probably be hiding in the shadows, as was more typical for him. He'd be hiding, and observing, and perhaps pulling some strings.

But he certainly didn't want to attract any more unusual attention to Molly. Which was why he was especially disturbed when he encountered a tabloid article as he walked along a street with John. Sherlock stopped dead in his tracks and grabbed the article from the rack.

"What? What is it?" John asked, seeing the shock on Sherlock's face.

"My God...look at this." He shoved the paper into John's hand as he tossed some money at the owner of the stand.

John tried to read a bit as he also hurried to catch up with the detective who continued with quick strides down the street.

"Sherlock, what is this?" John called after him. "This says 'Detective Needed Molly Hooper,' and it looks like it's about when you faked your death."

"Yes, that's exactly what it is. But it's detailed. Too detailed. There's exact wording in there!" he said, and poked at the page in John's hand. Then he looked around for a cab.

John began reading a portion of what was written. "It says, 'In his darkest hour, the famous detective turned to the woman that had always counted and he'd always trusted. He trusted her with his life. She never even considered refusing. Molly Hooper asked him nothing, but a simply question. What do you need? And Sherlock Holmes answer was a simple one as well...You. And need her, he did. Perhaps Sherlock Holmes would not be alive today if it hadn't been for the devotion of Doctor Molly Hooper."

John stopped reading and looked back up as a cab stopped to let them in. "This is exact wording?" he questioned as he climbed in after Sherlock.

"Yes, didn't I just say that it was?" he answered in mild frustration and began typing something on his mobile.

John looked back at the article, then at Sherlock, then back at the article. "So, I'm sorry, but what...what did you mean by you?"

"You are missing the point of my concern, John! The point is that we were alone. That was a private conversation in the lab of Bart's. How did she get that information? Where did she get it from?"

"Where did who get it from?"

Sherlock gave John a look, and answered in a somber tone. "Look at who's responsible for that article."

John sighed and shook his head as his eyes reached the bottom of the page. "Kitty Riley."

"Of course, now the information is out there. It details everything, save my actual methods for survival. Not that it matters, because Molly's vital involvement is clearly the main focus! This is exactly what I didn't want to become public!"

"Where are we going anyway?"

"To Molly's of course. Thankfully she's not working today. I'm in no mood to navigate around tabloid reporters," he grumbled.

"You know she wouldn't have done this, don't you, Sherlock?" John asked cautiously.

"Of course Molly didn't do it! So you can save your lectures about me accusing her of anything. I wasn't planning on it...but I do need to know where this could have come from. And she needs to know that things have taken a bit of a turn."

They arrived at Molly's flat not long after, and hurried up the stairs. Sherlock knocked firmly on the door and they heard Molly's soft footsteps hurrying to answer. There was a moment's pause as she likely looked through the peep hole, then they heard her undo the two locks and open the door.

"Sherlock...hi." Her expression told him that he would not be the first to share this news with her.

"It seems you know why I'm here," he said simply as he entered her little flat.

"I do," she said, sounding a little upset. "Hi John," she added with a tight smile, and gestured to her little couch.

John and Sherlock sat down and Molly sat in a well worn arm chair with a fair amount of damage from the claws of her cat. Sherlock then laid the article down on the table in front of the couch.

"I know you didn't do this." "This is all my fault."

...Both Sherlock and Molly spoke at the same time. John's eyes darted back and forth between them, and Sherlock's head tilted as he eyed Molly questioningly. Then she spoke again.

"I was going to call you, when I saw...Of course you're right, I didn't do this directly. I never spoke to any reporters about anything, especially not that. But it's...it's still my fault. Because there was one person that I told." She hesitated and looked at her hands in her lap for a second before continuing. "I told Tom."

Molly saw something cloud over in Sherlock's eyes. It almost looked like hurt. And it made her feel a hundred times worse than she had before.

"I'm so, so sorry," she said earnestly, seeking forgiveness in those eyes.

Sherlock took a moment to respond, but then he opened his mouth. He spoke slowly. "And, you told absolutely nobody else?"

"Absolutely nobody. And I never told Tom anything at all until you were back. When you were still away, all he thought was that I knew you when you were alive. I'd never have risked giving you away!"

John watched the two of them, almost like he was watching a ticking bomb. There was something lurking under the surface of this conversation...

Sherlock got up from where he sat and carefully buttoned his suit jacket again before he began to slowly pace around the small sitting room of her flat. Molly's cat Toby jumped up to occupy the space that was now open next to John on the couch. Finally Sherlock broke the silence.

"It's done now. We can't change what's already been printed...but I do want to know if Tom really did this."

Molly looked up at him from where she sat. "I- I think he did. It makes sense. He was angry the last time I talked to him; angry at you. And I think it would be easy for a pushy reporter to sway him into talking. I've tried texting and calling him and he's not answering. That makes me think he did it too. Maybe he feels guilty."

"He should feel guilty," Sherlock spat out immediately. "Doesn't he realize that he could be putting you in danger?"

"I'm sure he doesn't," John offered.

"Probably because he didn't bother to think for two seconds about any sort of consequences! As I said before, Molly, not exactly your intellectual equal!"

"I'm sorry, I wish I'd never told him." She sighed.

Sherlock stopped pacing for a moment and looked down at her again. "Why did you tell him?" The tone of the question was somewhat frustrated and a little desperate.

John, again, almost felt like he shouldn't be there watching this play out. And he wondered if Sherlock (the king of reminding others "you're missing the point") realized that there wasn't actually much point in getting an answer to that question. Why Molly had told Tom, wouldn't change the fact that he knew. And it wouldn't change the fact that he'd shared the information with Kitty Riley.

Molly chewed her lip and hesitated for a second. "I just, I felt like I should. Like I owed it to him."

"Why?" Sherlock questioned, his face scrunching up in what looked like disgust.

"Sherlock!" John hissed. "She was marrying the man, you may remember."

But Molly went on to give an explanation.

"I felt like I needed to be honest with him. I had lied to him, after all. And when you came back...well, I couldn't lie any more. I'm not sure I'm all that good at acting anyway. I don't know if I could have pulled off making him believe that it was as much a shock to me that you were alive as it was to everyone else. He wanted to know too. He said he wanted to know everything. I said I'd tell him everything I could. And I did. All I held back was...how you actually did it. I told him that was something I had no right to reveal," she said with a sheepish glance at John.

Sherlock listened with lips pressed together, trying to process it all. He took a few more steps around, before looking back at her once again. "You told him...exact words?" he questioned, though he really knew the answer already.

"I needed to be completely honest. I didn't want to hold any of that back. Because if I did, it would have felt like, like..." She hesitated, as her cheeks flushed a bit.

"Like what?!"

"Like I was hiding something about us!" she finally exclaimed, holding his gaze. "If I held back, I would have felt like I was trying to keep something...personal from him."

Sherlock stood frozen, looking back at her. He put on a more controlled expression and straightened up as he went to go stand by the window. "It seems he now thinks that's exactly what you were doing anyway. I'm not sure your plan worked."

"I'm sorry," she said again, more softly.

Sherlock turned from to look at her from where he stood. "I know...it's not as if you need to apologize to me though. This is more a matter of your own safety, after all."

But John was sitting there thinking that somehow this had turned into more than a concern for safety. He had very little doubt in his mind that it was upsetting to his typically unemotional friend, that such a private and poignant conversation had been allowed to go beyond himself and Molly. It almost seemed like Sherlock felt a little betrayed. And it was an unusual look for him.

"Would you maybe like some tea while you're here?" Molly ventured to ask, wanting to do something to calm the situation.

"I think we'd better get going actually," Sherlock answered quickly for them both and picked up his coat from the arm of the couch where Toby was inching closer and closer, and then he listed off instructions. "As usual Molly, be watchful. Perhaps more so now. If something scares you, don't ignore it. Just tell me."

Molly got up and walked over to the door as Sherlock opened it and John followed him. After they'd gone through the door, Sherlock turned to Molly again who still stood there.

"Perhaps you should offer Tom the same courtesy that you did to me," he said, as he looped his scarf around his neck.

"What's that?" she asked nervously.

"Give him fair warning. If he ever returns your messages, feel free to inform him that I'm not terribly pleased with this situation. And unlike my receiving the news of his dislike for me, this news should concern him." Sherlock gave her a pointed look that reminded her, albeit subtly, that his concern was still primarily rooted in her safety.

Molly nodded and gave him a small smile.

Then he turned, heading down the stairs, and John followed after giving Molly a quick wave. Sherlock exited the building and began walking quickly down the street with John struggling a bit to keep up.

"Shorter legs, Sherlock! Try not to keep deleting it from your mind palace! What's the rush anyway?"

"No rush, I just wanted to walk." He took out his phone to send a message as he moved briskly.

YOU'RE STILL KEEPING A CLOSE EYE ON DOCTOR HOOPER, CORRECT? -SH

"You wouldn't be walking off frustration, would you?" John asked with a smirk.

"I'm not sure what sort of frustration you're referring to John," he said evenly as he checked the reply to his text.

YOU KNOW I AM...I'M ASSUMING THE LATEST TABLOID STORY WAS A BIT EXAGGERATED. THOUGH MORIARTY MAY NOT SEE IT THAT WAY, BROTHER DEAR. -MH

No need to reply to that, Sherlock decided.

"Well I'm not referring to the frustration about the news article, that's for sure," John clarified with a short laugh.

"What other possible frustration would there be?" Sherlock asked with a huff as he put his phone away and continued staring ahead while marching along.

"I was meaning the fact that Molly shared all those private details with Tom."

"John, you said yourself she was engaged to the man. It's understandable that there wouldn't have been any secrets. People in that level of relationship feel the need to share things...well, unless they're an ex assassin with a false identity of course." He gave John a quick grin.

"You're hilarious. Well, forgive me, but you didn't seem to have such a good hold on that logic back at her flat."

Sherlock said nothing, and kept on walking.

"So, it did bother you?" John pushed a bit more.

"I thought I just explained that there was nothing to be bothered by," he answered quickly.

John chose to let it drop this time and just kept walking alongside his friend. But a couple minutes later, he couldn't keep his mouth shut any longer.

"So what did you mean when you told Molly...You?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "That I needed her to help me fake my death!"

"You could have just said that couldn't you?" John offered with a small smile.

"Obviously I made that clear soon after! My original response simply conveyed everything I needed from her all summed up in that one little word. It was a..." He narrowed his eyes, realizing even to himself that this was about to be a silly sounding explanation. "Time saver."

John chuckled at that excuse. "Ah, Right...and how exactly did you say it? Can you show me how you said it to her? And how you looked when you said it?" John halted in his tracks, turning to look at Sherlock expectantly as he had stopped also.

Sherlock frowned in disdain. "Absolutely not! I'm not showing you how I said that to Molly." He turned and continued walking again, turning his collar up as he went.

John smiled to himself as he started following after, and he muttered to himself, "And that...answered my question."

Chapter Text

"Oh God, I hate this one! How did they even get these?" Molly groaned.

Molly sat next to Mary on the couch of the Watson's flat a few days after Kitty Riley's article had been published. There were some more tabloid papers in front of the two of them, and Molly was less than pleased with the scrutiny.

"I'm sorry, Molly, but nobody looks bad to me right now. Not when I have to look in the mirror at my massive self every day. I actually think you look adorable!" Mary insisted, peering over and examining the pictures of Molly from years ago.

"Why do they care anyway? Why did they have to dig up uni pictures and even pictures of my dad?" Her voice dropped a little in sadness.

"The title of the article is 'Just Who is Doctor Molly Hooper?' so I think people just want to know more about the woman Sherlock snogged in a pub. They can't get enough now!...So was it just you and your dad?" Mary asked gently.

"Yes. My mother died when I was small. I barely remember her. For most of my memories, it was me and my dad. He died about six years ago now...he wouldn't have liked all this too much," she said sadly, touching the pages of the article.

"None of this is your fault Molly." Mary gestured to the papers.

Molly looked at her and started to speak after a second of hesitating. "Well, I certainly could have stopped it if I'd wanted to," she said with a rueful smile.

Mary smiled slowly back at her. "Yes...if you'd wanted to," she said softly.

The two women looked at each other for a moment, but Molly didn't have time to make any reply.

"All right, show me what you have here," Sherlock said as he took a seat on the couch beside Mary.

"It's really not much. Just a couple things stood out to me based on what you gave me to look for. Not a whole lot to go on." Mary began navigating on her laptop as Molly tossed some of the papers onto the table with obvious irritation.

Sherlock looked at her with a questioning frown.

"What?" she responded to his look. "Doesn't it bother you that they found old pictures of us? Oh well, I suppose it wouldn't bother you. Why would it? You look practically the same!"

"I look younger!" Sherlock offered.

"Yes, well that's not exactly humiliating. I had bad fringe and glasses! The difference is that I look worse, not younger."

Sherlock leaned over to examine the pictures again that he had seen before. "Mm, yes that's not your best look."

Molly felt her cheeks heat up as he clearly picked the picture apart with his eyes. Not only did everyone else get to see this, but Sherlock himself was now acknowledging she didn't look good...

"Yes, the fringe and glasses do nothing positive. They minimize your best feature," he said matter-of-factly.

Molly frowned at him, suddenly taken aback. "My what?"

Neither of them noticed how Mary began smiling to herself as she continued looking at the screen of her laptop.

Sherlock looked at her straight faced, seeming confused by her shock. "Your eyes, of course. It's best not to have the shadow of the fringe or the distraction of the glasses. Makes your eyes less noticeable."

"M- my eyes?" she questioned, then feeling her cheeks flush for a completely different reason.

"Yes, your eyes," he repeated. "What? Do you not consider them your best feature?"

"Um, well, no. I mean, I don't know, maybe they are. I just didn't think, that you would consider...uh, never mind! Actually I just mean, thanks." She smiled, reminding herself not to make such a big thing out of nothing. Just say thanks, and move swiftly along!

Thankfully Mary then got where she needed to be. "Ok, so in the lookout for apples, I did find a couple things. There's a short fiction here where Molly makes you lunch on a case and there's an apple included."

"Not that he would eat lunch if he's on a case," Molly commented as an aside. She missed the brief pleased look that Sherlock gave her.

"Yes, well there's nothing unusual about an apple being included in a lunch. What else is there?" he questioned.

"There's also this sketch," Mary said and clicked on the saved file.

It was actually beautifully done. It seemed like a pencil sketch. It was an artist's depiction of Sherlock kissing Molly in the pub. There was little else in the picture. The background was mostly made to fade out and be vague. But the bar was visible in the back. And despite the fact that it was a pencil sketch and was without color, there was a red apple sitting on the bar. It was small, but it did stand out.

Sherlock leaned into the screen and examined the sketch. "Enlarge it and focus on the apple."

Mary did, and Sherlock continued to stare at it. Finally he pulled his face back, looking a bit deflated. "Nothing on it. Just a red apple. Still though, rather out of place considering the setting. Why would an apple on the bar be the only other thing discernible in the sketch besides myself and Molly?"

"That does seem strange," Molly agreed, especially after earlier hearing the reason that Sherlock felt an apple could be a red flag online.

"Follow that person, whoever made it," Sherlock instructed Mary.

"Already done." Mary smiled.

"Anything else? Anything perhaps related to my faked suicide?"

"Well there's lots of that. I'm not sure you can really consider that a red flag in itself anymore. Once Molly's involvement became more public because of Kitty Riley's article, there's been plenty of people making things related to that event. There's heaps of fan art and fiction. You asking her for help, her disguising a fake corpse, you hiding out at her flat, you thanking her for her help." Mary shot them both a wide eyed look.

"Thank you, Mary, I think we get the idea." Sherlock sighed.

Mary was almost sure she saw Sherlock's face turn a little pink.

"All right, well I'll just keep looking out for anything unusual though. Apples, IOU, fairy tales, and anything including Molly being harmed or in danger. Anything else?"

"That should do it for now," Sherlock said, leaning back against the couch.

"Molly, have you seen some of the memes?" Mary then asked, happily moving right on to a lighter topic.

"I've tried not to look, to be honest. I'm a bit afraid of what I might see."

"There's some adorable stuff though! Like, 'Keep Calm and Snog Sherlock.' There's one with a little deer stalker cap and a lab coat on it. I'm thinking of getting myself a tea mug! Perhaps a onesie for the baby!" Mary said with a giggle, and she winked at Molly when Sherlock rolled his eyes.

Sherlock got up and went to the adjoining kitchen to grab a bottle of water, more for the purpose of excusing himself than for actual thirst.

Mary then leaned over to show Molly a little animated gif with the words 'scarf toss pub kiss' in the center, and a little blue scarf flying past in the background. Molly couldn't help but laugh at that.

"Ok, I suppose I'd like you to send that to me," Molly admitted.

John finally came back from picking up the food. "I hope you're all done with the Sherlolly safety check stuff. I'd really like to be able to keep my dinner down tonight," he said as he set the bag down in the kitchen.

"We're done with the safety, and we've apparently moved on to the trivial." Sherlock groaned to his friend.

"Oh look at that! Some of these are beautiful. Really talented artists. Sherlock, look at this!" Molly got up to meet him halfway and show him Mary's phone. "I mean, it looks just like you. It's almost like a photograph."

Sherlock examined the drawing of himself and Molly. He was cradling her head and looking down at her, and it seemed that this was the moment before the kiss. He had to admit, it was impressive. The detail was almost flawless. He was grumbling inwardly that people should use their talents for something more worthy, but another observation entirely was what actually came out of his mouth.

"They didn't get everything completely correct though. That's not where you hands were."

"Oh..." Molly said, peering at the picture again. In the drawing, her hands were wrapped around Sherlock's wrists as he held her face.

"You weren't holding my wrists, you grabbed the collar of my coat. Not a difficult detail to remember...it was rather forceful as I recall." He couldn't help giving her a small teasing smile.

"Not that forceful, Sherlock," she countered weakly, and tried not to blush.

"Forceful enough." He took a few steps back into the kitchen. "That is, until you moved your hands onto my neck."

No stopping the blush now, Molly realized. And the look he gave her after he said it, that sideways smile and glance, it was almost...If he was any other man in the world, after a comment like that, she would have sworn that look was flirty.

"We don't really need to continue detailing exactly what Molly did with her hands when you kissed her, do we?" John then asked, with a pained expression. "Because I was serious, I do really want to keep my dinner down."

"Don't listen to him," Mary said as she came over to the kitchen with some difficulty. "He's just jealous because I'm so big I can barely even reach to put my arms around his neck when I stand in front of him!" She patted the accused belly.

The four of them ate dinner and it wasn't long after that Molly announced that she would be needing to head home. It was getting late, and she had to work in the morning. Not surprisingly, Sherlock offered to leave as well. He said he may as well take the same cab. Sherlock and Molly left soon after, and the Watsons made their way into the kitchen to clean up a bit.

"All right, see this is why I wanted to invite her tonight as well! Please, John, please tell me you are seeing the same thing that I'm seeing with the two of them! I do not want to have to defend myself forever. Honestly, I can't believe you're his best friend and it's taken you even this long to see what's in front of your face! I mean, there was so much sexual tension in this room, I could barely move around properly!" Mary ranted as she threw out take away containers.

"Aren't you confusing sexual tension with your stomach? You can barely move around properly, period."

That earned John a harsh warning look from his wife.

John put his hands up in half defense, half resignation. "Ok ok, I will admit that I see...something. There's something there, yes. But I don't know if Sherlock would ever even recognize it. He's practically a child emotionally, and it's largely by his own choice! Even if he thought he felt something, he'd probably destroy it internally and make sure it never came to anything."

"He's not a robot, John. He can feel and he can love just like you and me. You know that! Look at all the sacrifices he's made for you, and even for me. I think the truth is, that man loves in the same way he does many other things. Much more brilliantly than most other people around him. It just doesn't happen very often."

"I suppose, I just...I don't know. I don't know if he'd ever let it happen. There's a level of selflessness and sacrifice that is particular to a romantic relationship. I'm not sure if he'd ever be willing to make that work. And if he does care about her, it's also certainly possible that he believes she'd be better off without him."

Mary shook her head. "Now that, I know is not true. Molly Hooper will never be better off without Sherlock Holmes. It's pretty much impossible. It doesn't even matter if her life would actually be easier without him. She still wouldn't be better off. Because she loves him. She loves him, John."

John sighed. "Yeah I know. I know...I just wish I could believe he really knows what to do about it."


Molly sat there in the cab, a couple feet away from Sherlock, wondering if this was the best time. But she figured there wouldn't be a better one. Why not ask now? She knew enough at least to be sure he wouldn't be upset at her or refuse her an answer.

"Sherlock?"

"Mm?" he hummed, turning his gaze from the window to her.

"I just wanted to know something. Doesn't change anything, I realize. It's just more like curiosity-"

"Out with it Molly," he prodded, but not unkindly.

"Why exactly did you kiss me?" she blurted, and then pressed her lips together, having finally gotten the words out.

Sherlock had wondered if she was ever going to actually ask that question. He'd assumed she had wanted to know. He wasn't sure if he wanted to answer. For the most part, he firmly believed what he had expressed to Lestrade. Molly Hooper was in no way confused about the state of their relationship. But there was the small nagging bit of doubt in his mind. He had, after all, never had the 'I consider myself married to my work' talk with her.

"I confess," he began slowly. "I was, in the moment, mostly motivated by a remark that Sally had made upon my exit."

"Yes, I thought you heard that," Molly said a little sadly.

"But, what you don't know is that I had already been found lacking in the area of...passion before your arrival. Apparently, one of Anderson's many ridiculous theories about my survival three years ago involved me thanking you in the form of a rather dramatic kiss."

Molly's eyes widened. "Anderson? Why would that be part of his theory?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Apparently he was becoming exceedingly bored. Understandable. What else did he have to occupy his time? Anyway, the reaction of the entire table was unanimous, in that they believed that I would never have been able to pull of such a display of affection."

"And you didn't like that?" Molly questioned, a smile creeping onto her lips. "I thought you didn't care what people think of you."

"I don't," he answered instantly, but tilted his head in thought as he answered again. "But I'd been drinking, and I took the comments a bit more personally than I'd normally allow myself to. And for some reason I very badly wanted to prove them all wrong."

"Well I'd say you did," Molly offered with a small smile.

Sherlock looked at her more seriously though. "I shouldn't have done it."

Molly's smile fell away and she nodded slowly. "Oh...right. Well, I understand. Caused quite a bit of trouble hasn't it? And besides I know you're not- that you'd never really want to..." Her words fell away.

"I mean that it was unfair of me to use you like that, in the moment. It was childish. I should have just walked away. I don't know why I cared whether they thought I could do something like that or not. I shouldn't have cared. And I should have considered how it could...make you feel," he said pointedly.

Her eyes met his, and there was an understanding that passed through them. He definitely knew what damage could have been done by kissing her. And she saw that it wasn't his intent to confuse her. Molly couldn't decide if she was relieved or not. On the one hand, he had expressed his genuine concern for her feelings. He didn't want to hurt her. But on the other hand, he'd as much as admitted that he didn't want her to get the wrong impression. This was the 'don't take that kiss the wrong way' talk. But she couldn't say she hadn't seen it coming.

"I'm ok Sherlock," she said softly. "I am."

Sherlock continued examining her face in the half light of the cab's back seat. He didn't say anything and waited for her to continue talking, because he could see that she wanted to.

"You're my friend. And we've been through a lot together, haven't we? There's autopsies, experiments, solving crimes, faking your suicide, hiding out at my flat, scattered insults and deductions, lots of dead body parts." She added a smile, then she shrugged. "So, I dunno, I guess I figure...why not add a magnificent kiss to the list as well?"

Sherlock watched her intensely as she simultaneously acknowledged her feelings and then humbly minimized their importance all in the space of one breath. And she did it in the most gracious and endearing way he could imagine. She was making the whole situation easier and more comfortable, in the brave way that was so typical of her. She wasn't asking anything of him or hoping for anything...and yet ironically, in that moment, Sherlock had never felt more inclined to give...though all he could manage were words.

"Yes," he echoed his agreement in a low rumble. "Why not?"

Molly held his stare for another moment, because it was so beautiful. But then she offered another smile, and lightened the conversation just a bit.

"So...Anderson. He really thought you would have kissed me like that?" she asked with a laugh.

"After crashing through a window, no less."

"What?! That's insane!" She laughed even harder.

"Well, he assumed that's how grateful I was. Perhaps I don't know the best way to say thank you," he said sarcastically. "Maybe you would have preferred a dramatic kiss before my departure, instead of a day of crime solving upon my arrival home."

Molly pursed her lips, playing along with the joke. "You're right. If you could have flown through a window and snogged me silly, broken glass and all, I wouldn't have cared if you'd never spoken to me again. All the thanks I would have ever needed!"

Sherlock laughed at that. "Well, apparently there wouldn't have been broken glass. Anderson imagined that I would have shaken any off my coat and then ruffled my hair before getting to you."

"Ruffled your hair?" she asked, stifling a grin.

"Yes, why?"

Molly shrugged and was glad he couldn't see how pink her cheeks were in the dark. "Oh it's just...Anderson might be smarter than you think," she said shyly.

"Please don't tell me that's in the same category as pulling my scarf off," he complained playfully.

Molly could only look at him sheepishly. Sherlock looked back at her with mock disapproval which made her laugh.

Just then they pulled up to Molly's flat. Molly paid for her share, then turned back to the detective.

"Well, thanks for sharing the cab. I'm glad we're...ok. Especially after the article a few days ago," Molly added with some embarrassment.

"No problem," Sherlock answered simply. He was feeling rather forgiving considering the fact that she had set such a good example. And of course he kept reminding himself that he had absolutely no valid reason to expect that such a past conversation would remain private between the two of them. He had no rights to any moments they shared together. They didn't have that sort of connection, never had. And that meant that any man she shared her life with, would always come first in one way or another...That's how it should be. She deserves it.

"Tom sent me a text yesterday, finally."

"Oh?"

"He said I have no right to be angry at him. I chose to snog a celebrity in public, and so I gave up my rights to privacy. And that If I wanted a nice quiet life, perhaps I should have married him. And that was it," she said solemnly as she opened the cab door.

Sherlock clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. "Did you express my...displeasure?" he asked in as controlled a voice as he could manage.

"I did. He said...good." Molly grimaced.

Sherlock shook his head. "I do hope you don't harbor any sort of soft feelings for the man and would feel badly if I did something like incapacitate him," he said through gritted teeth.

"You have my blessing actually. I'm well aware now that he was never worthy of the things that I shared with him." Molly smiled, and her eyes shone in the bit of street light that now came through the open door of the cab.

Definitely her best feature...

"Good night, Sherlock."

"Yes...goodnight Molly," he said softly, more softly than he'd meant to actually.

She got out and Sherlock instructed the cabbie to wait there till she got inside. Once she had, he gave his address and they began moving. Sherlock rested his fingers lightly on his lips as he watched the city fly by out the window.

For some reason, all he could think about was the possibility that Moriarty would now see Molly Hooper as easy leverage. And he was fiercely aware that there was nothing else he wanted to do at that moment but to ensure that her life was never endangered, or even negatively altered. He thought about being faced with the same sort of difficult decision as he had been years ago, on that windy rooftop of Bart's hospital. And yet, as he sat in the dark and quiet cab, the decision didn't seem all that difficult to him. It just wasn't so very complex as he imagined the idea of Molly's life hanging in the balance. In that moment, he knew one thing for certain. Survival plan or not...

He'd jump.

Chapter Text

Molly decided to treat herself to a stop at her favorite cafe a few days later. It was early enough that she was pretty sure it wouldn't make her late for work.

So she was standing there at the counter, having ordered her vanilla latte, and was pretty sure there was no sign that she'd have any trouble to deal with this morning. She'd become much more observant in the past few weeks since the whole wild media story had begun. (And she preferred the term observant, instead of paranoid.) But just then, she heard a vaguely familiar voice from behind her.

"The famous Molly Hooper."

Wait, wasn't that...

Molly turned around to see the glossy styled hair and the perfectly made up face smiling back at her. Jeanine.

"Oh, hi," Molly replied quickly, then turned back around hoping her latte would be done soon. Probably not the best person to get into a friendly chat with.

"Haven't seen you since John and Mary's wedding. Seems like you've been busy!" Jeanine went on.

"Um, not really. Pretty much the same actually," she answered, without fully turning around.

"Don't be so modest! You've become a little celebrity on the internet. I should have come to you for pointers six months ago. You must be making a killing!"

Molly had finally paid and was originally hoping to exit this conversation as quickly as possible, but Jeanine's last comment unnerved her. So she couldn't just run away now.

"Sorry, what? Making a killing?"

Jeanine raised her eyebrows and laughed a little. "Well, darlin' I do hope you're cashing in on this whole situation." She took a sip from her own coffee.

Molly took a step out of the way of other customers, now in some disbelief of what had just come out of Jeanine's mouth.

"I- I don't think you understand. I never wanted this to become such a big thing."

"Well, I assumed you wouldn't. You don't exactly look like the type that's trying for attention! But now that is has become so big, you should at least be benefiting. You sell a few stories, make them juicy enough, and let me tell you you'll be set up for quite a while."

Molly felt her blood pressure rising steadily. What was the matter with this woman?

"Jeanine, I would never sell stories about Sherlock," she said firmly.

"Why ever no- Oh! I see...you poor thing. He's still got you under his thumb, doesn't he? I suppose I can understand. That was some kiss he gave you!" she said, fanning herself for effect. "He is quite the man, I will admit. About as emotionally available as a potato though, isn't he? What was it then? Was it some sort of case?"

"Was what some sort of case?"

"The kiss! Did he do it for a case?"

Molly straightened up and felt almost proud at her answer. "No. It had nothing to do with a case."

"Really? So you're together then?"

"Well, no."

"One night stand?" she asked with a wink.

"No!"

"Didn't think so. Can't exactly see that...and yet you're still stuck on him? Well, you're missing out, let me tell you. Revenge can be pretty sweet. And the cash is even sweeter. Maybe if you could get over the man, you'd be able to find out for yourself."

"I don't want revenge," Molly asserted. "I'd never want to hurt him."

Jeanine laughed merrily. "Hurt him? If you think what I did hurt him, you don't know Sherlock as well as you think you do. That's the point isn't it? That sort of thing doesn't hurt him. Nothing going on in here." She tapped her chest where her heart would be.

Molly had to remind herself that she couldn't afford anymore public incidents at the moment. It probably wouldn't be the best idea to slap this woman silly in the middle of a cafe...

"I think you'll find that you don't know Sherlock as well as you think," she said in a low voice. "And I know that what you did might not have hurt him. But if I did the same thing, it would. And that's because we're friends. And he trusts me. If you think there's nothing going on in that man's heart, then you just didn't look close enough."

Jeanine made an expression of playful surprise. "Well, well. Alright, I guess. I doubt he deserves a friend like you, but oh well." She gathered her bag to her shoulder and smiled at Molly.

"I suppose I should congratulate you for one thing though," Jeanine added as she began to go.

"What's that?"

She smiled slyly. "Sherlock never kissed me like that." She turned and left the cafe, her heels clicking on the tiles as she went.

Molly drew a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I should just stop going out in public," she whispered to herself.


"It's obvious, John! It was the house keeper. I'm not sure why I waste time explaining things when you never seem to get any faster at keeping up with me!"

John threw his hands up. "Ok, fine. Well no need I suppose. Why don't we go see the client now and just give them the news. That way you can skip explaining it to me, and just tell them instead."

"I can't go now."

"Why not?"

"My brother sent me a text. He said he needed to drop by. Not that I'm eager to have a visit, but I'd certainly never hear the end of it if I was gone when he showed up," Sherlock said as he fell back into his chair.

"Right, so...do I need to stay?"

Sherlock shrugged. "You can, if you'd like. Then we can go wrap up the case after Myroft leaves. Hopefully won't be long."

It was about ten minutes later when there was a knock at the door. Sherlock slowly pushed himself up from the chair and sauntered over to the door.

"Yes, what do you want M-" Sherlock's eyes doubled. "What are they doing here?"

"We can hear you!" Mrs. Holmes said from behind Mycroft.

"They're visiting today, and they insisted on seeing you. I told you I needed to drop by. You didn't deduce why I hadn't told you the reason? I think you're the one that's slipping," Mycroft said haughtily as he walked past Sherlock to enter the flat.

"Hello darling!" Mrs. Holmes said, approaching her youngest son with warm smile at first, but then her expression changed and she grabbed him by his ear. "Why is it that you keep getting yourself into the tabloids?! Are you trying to make your mother ill with shame?"

She let go of Sherlock, leaving him wincing, and then she took a seat on the couch.

"Son," his father said with a small nod as he entered the flat as well. It was clear who was the instigator of this little visit, and who was not.

John tried not to laugh at the scene that was beginning to unfold before him. He also wished he could somehow take a video for Mary's benefit later.

"Still waiting for the baby then, John?" Mr. Holmes questioned.

"We are, yeah. Shouldn't be long," he said with a smile.

"Be glad you're having a girl, for Mary's sake. A boy would only drive her mad!" Mrs. Holmes said pointedly. Then she added to Sherlock, "Aren't you going to offer us some tea?"

"Staying that long are you?" After receiving a glare, he amended his answer. "I'll just have Mrs. Hudson get us some tea, shall I?"

Not long after, Mrs. Hudson came upstairs and began getting some tea ready. Mrs. Holmes promptly joined her in the kitchen and they began an animated discussion of all things unacceptable about living with and caring for Sherlock Holmes.

"Do feel free to give him a good smack now and then. He could certainly use it! I wish I could visit more often. Keep him in line, and all that. But I can't manage a visit into the city all the time!"

"Oh I try!" Mrs. Hudson complained, shaking her head. "If I didn't love him like a son myself, I'd have thrown him out long ago!"

"You two enjoying yourself in there?" Sherlock asked with a weary expression.

"And now this latest madness!" Mrs. Holmes went on, then addressing Sherlock as she came back into the sitting room. "This is the same Dr. Hooper who helped you fake your suicide, is it not?"

"Yes, the one and only," Mycroft answered for him.

"What's this all about then? Is this going to be a habit of yours now? Kissing women in public and then letting your parents read about it in the papers? Am I ever going to have the pleasure of simply meeting a girlfriend of yours in a proper way?"

"I don't have a girlfriend!" Sherlock groaned and took his tea almost violently from Mrs. Hudson. "And as of yet, I never have. So I'm not sure what you think you're missing!"

"Well now son, if you don't have girlfriends, why are you kissing women in pubs? Not exactly how I raised you," his father said indignantly.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I kissed a woman in a pub! Singular! Do your research." He added the last part under his breath.

"Well then what's going on? If it's just her, is there anything we should know? Is she someone who's special to you?" his mother pushed.

Sherlock sighed into his tea cup. "She's a loyal friend. That is all."

"You don't kiss all your loyal friends like that!" Mrs. Hudson said with a giggle, and everyone turned to look at her.

"Thank God," John added.

"And sneaking around in a hospital locker room with her, Sherlock! How could you?!" his mother exclaimed, as if she'd just remembered to bring that part up.

Sherlock let his head fall back against his chair with a thud. It was easy not to care what people thought of you when you didn't have to be stuck in a flat with them drinking tea.

Some more tedious conversation went back and forth for a while longer. Sherlock tried to be as uninvolved as possible. After a while his parents must have felt satisfied at the amount of harassment they had given, because they were contented to talk about more trivial matters. Sherlock put up with it all for as long as he possibly could...almost forty five minutes.

"Well!" he said leaping up from his seat. "It's been lovely having you, but John and I need to wrap up a case."

It took a fair bit of effort, but eventually Sherlock herded the three of them back to the door and ushered them out.

"You'd better tell us if all of this silliness with Dr. Hooper comes to anything! I want no more of your life's announcements coming from the papers!" Mrs. Holmes insisted on her way through the door.

"Yes yes! Fine," he rushed.

"They're staying with you next time," Mycroft hissed in a low voice as he passed his brother.

Finally the guests were gone and Sherlock shut the door. He breathed a loud sigh, then looked at John.

"Alright let's go."

"That was amusing. You have to promise to invite me and Mary if you ever have them meet Molly." John chuckled as he followed in Sherlock's lead and got his coat.

"Why would I have them meet Molly?" he responded suspiciously.

"I dunno, maybe just because she's one of your friends...or maybe because of another reason," he added cautiously.

"Let's go John, we're wasting time. I'm sure you'd like to get home as quickly as possible," Sherlock said, clearly choosing not to respond.


The client they had visited wasn't terribly far from John's flat, so they went directly there after they were done. Mary called to them from the kitchen table when they came in.

"Oh, Sherlock, I'm glad you're here. I was going to call you. I've been noticing something today, and I thought you should have a look."

He sat down next to her and immediately focused on the screen of her laptop.

"So I've been keeping an eye on the fan fiction about you two. And there's lots on this site called fanstoriez. Obviously the genres of the fictions have quite a large range. There's romance, humor, drama, angst, mystery, and pretty much every combination and everything in between."

"Yes I came across this site before as well. There were links to it from Tumblr. I do hope you're not going to require me to read anything in full." He peered at Mary with a nervous look in his eyes.

"Well it's not the stories that were strange to me. They are all pretty much what you'd expect. What stood out to me were some of the reviews. I've been going over those too. There's not too many to sort through since this is all pretty new. But as of today, there's been an anonymous review on almost every story I've checked out." Mary clicked on a short story about Molly having bought Sherlock a gift of a new scarf.

She went into the review section, and one of the newest reviews was indeed anonymous, and it simply said boring.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at the screen. "Is that the only one that says that?"

"No. And that's why it caught my eye. If there were lots of anonymous reviews which all said different things, that wouldn't make me think twice. But I've already counted over twenty that either say boring, or ordinary. And sometimes both."

Sherlock looked a little disturbed. "Go on," he said calmly.

"Now here's the small exception. There are some stories involving you and Molly, though a bit fewer and further between, that are mysteries and crime solving. Ones that involve some sort of danger. Now I counted eight new ones today. And on all of them, there's an anonymous review that says either less boring, not distracting enough, and Sherlock wants everything to be clever."

Sherlock nodded slowly. "It's him. It's got to be."

"Anything we should do?" Mary asked.

"We keep making sure Molly is safe, just as we have been. This doesn't exactly pose a specific threat to her, what this did is send a message," he said getting up again from his seat.

"What message is that?" John asked.

"He knows I'm watching. The comments he made are referencing things that he said to me when nobody else was present. To anybody else, those reviews would look like a rude remark, and nothing more. But to me...they're much more."

"Well he's clearly interested. I'd think this gives some pretty clear proof of that too. So I'd say it is still pretty important to keep an eye on Molly's safety," Mary added.

"Yes..." Sherlock looked like he'd just had a thought. "On that note, there may have been something I've overlooked...Excuse me, I'll talk to you both soon!"

And with a quick wave, he was off again and out the door.

"What was that?" John frowned at Mary.

She shrugged. "Best guess would be that it has something to do with Molly."


Molly was surprised when she got a text from Sherlock an hour before her shift ended.

COULD YOU STOP AT BAKER STREET AFTER YOUR SHIFT TODAY? THERE'S ONE OR TWO THINGS I NEED TO GO OVER WITH YOU. -SH

SURE, THAT'S FINE. -MH

GOOD. NO REPORTERS HANGING AROUND THE STREET TODAY, SO YOU SHOULD BE FINE. YOU CAN JUST COME IN, I'LL LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN. -SH

When Molly was done working, she got a cab to Baker Street and lugged her bags with her inside. She trudged up the stairs and got to Sherlock's door, which was open as he had said.

"Sherlock!" she called as she entered the flat. She set her bags down on the floor and took her shoes off too, having become sick of them after her eight hour shift. She rounded the corner and saw a bag of what looked like Chinese take away, but it hadn't been disturbed. Still nothing but silence in the flat.

Molly shrugged and figured he was in the loo, or maybe had gone downstairs to Mrs. Hudson briefly or something. She saw that there were no plates put away, so turned the kitchen tap on to clean a couple that were in the sink. She had just finished washing both plates and was drying her hands when it happened.

Suddenly she was grabbed from behind. A hand wrapped itself around her mouth and another arm wrapped around her arms and torso. Molly let out muffled screams and tried to struggle, but to no avail. The grip was too tight and she couldn't move enough to do anything. She was dragged from the kitchen and into the sitting room as she continued to try to scream using the meager air she was able to pull through her nose. The panic was rising, and all she could think of was, where is Sherlock?

And then she got her answer.

As suddenly as the attack had begun, it ended. The arms released her and she stumbled forward from her sudden ability to move. And when she turned around...there was Sherlock.

Molly still struggled to catch her breath, but it took little effort to scream now.

"Sherlock! What in God's name are you doing?! Are you trying to kill me?!"

He took a few deep breaths himself and was somewhat calmly adjusting his shirt. "No, Molly, obviously I'm not trying to kill you. But I could have been someone who was. And as I suspected, you were rather useless at stopping me."

"What?" she said pressing her hand to her heart, hoping to manually stop its racing. "So this was a- a what? Some sort of a test?!"

He tilted his head in thought, then nodded. "Yes, I suppose that would define it rather well. And your results are conclusive. You need some basic self defense skills Molly." He grinned.

She shook her head slightly as he walked back into the kitchen and began opening the bag of take away.

"You could have just asked me, Sherlock!"

"Yes, well this method guaranteed against any dishonesty in your answer. Nothing is more telling than real life!" He smiled again and then he held up a container. "Dumpling?"

Molly let out a shaky sigh. "Can I throw them at your head?" she grumbled as she took a heavy seat on one of the kitchen chairs and ran her hands through her hair.

"Well, you certainly could. But in addition to that being a waste of perfectly good take away, you would also be throwing away your means to get your strength back and be ready for a few lessons."

"Lessons?" she questioned peering up at him.

"Yes. In self defense. Do try and keep up, Molly." He shot her another grin as he pushed a couple of take away containers toward her. Then he reached over and grabbed one of the plates she'd washed and put it in front of her.

Molly stared up at him for a moment, then finally put some of the food on her plate and began eating. Sherlock took a container for himself and some chopsticks and leaned on the counter as he began eating as well. It was quiet for a couple minutes.

"You really just attacked me?" she suddenly said. "And now you want to give me some lessons in self defense?"

Sherlock frowned and then raised an eyebrow at her. "Yes...I am trying to keep you safe if you recall. I realized that I'd forgotten to make sure you know how to keep yourself safe. Logical precaution, I'd say."

Molly laughed lightly. "Right, sure. Logical...but what if you'd been wrong? I mean, what if I did know how to defend myself already? I had no idea who you were. I could have really hurt you!"

He chuckled as he dug around in his food. "Molly, even if you had some skills, I was never in any real danger."

"Awfully confident," she said with a small wag of her head.

"Defense skills or not, I could still easily overpower you. Besides, I also could have identified myself sooner."

Molly gave him a slightly playful glance. "What makes you think that would have helped you? If I knew how to hurt you in that moment, I think I still would have, even if I'd heard your voice behind me. I've hurt you before."

"Slapping me when I'm high doesn't count. I could have been high enough that my senses and reflexes were dulled to the point that I could do nothing about the impending strike. Or I was allowing you to slap me, knowing that you genuinely believed I deserved it and also apparently had some pent up frustration in your personal life that needed letting out. Either way it's nothing to put on your self defense resume," he concluded with a half smile before taking another bite of food.

Molly thought for a moment. "So, wait, not to change the subject but...which was it then?"

Sherlock looked at her with a face of mock confusion. "Which was what?"

"You know what I mean Sherlock," she pressed, looking at him expectantly. "Why was I able to slap you?"

Sherlock looked off into the distance, pursing his lips as if in thought, and taking a deep breath. Then he looked back at her with a little gleam in his eyes. "Well, I guess you'll never know now, will you?"

Molly held his gaze for a moment, glaring at him but also feeling her lips involuntarily curl a tiny bit in smile. He looked terribly pleased with himself.

"Sherlock, if you're trying to motivate me into learning how to hurt you...you're doing a very good job."

Sherlock's grin spread.

"I know I am."

Chapter Text

Sherlock disappeared into his bedroom a while after they'd both eaten, saying that he needed to change. A few minutes later he reemerged wearing some pajama bottoms and his vest. When he walked back into the kitchen, Molly gave him a look that was half embarrassment and half amusement.

"What?" he questioned, looking at her, then down at himself.

"Just...nothing." She pressed her lips together.

"I'm not going to do this wearing my dress trousers and shirt! I doubt that's how an attacker would be dressed."

"A bit unfair though. I don't get to wear anything more comfortable."

"Exactly. That's the point of learning self defense. Any physically dangerous situation you'd be in is unfair. Don't learn how to protect yourself wearing clothing that you'd exercise in. You'd likely be in anything but that in a real life scenario. Are you wearing anything under that jumper though?" he asked while examining her attire.

"Oh, yes. I have a t-shirt on."

"Good. Then just take the jumper off, and that's all the changing you need."

"Alright," she said a bit hesitantly, and then took the garment off.

Sherlock walked over to his chair by the fireplace and took a seat, then he gestures for her to sit in Johns chair. Molly frowned at him as she approached slowly.

"Is my attacker going to offer to have a chat with me by the fire?"

"No. But the first part of your lesson isn't physical at all. You need to learn how to avoid an attack in the first place...Never take the tube if it's late at night and you're likely to be one of the only ones there. Never take a short cut that's out of the way. Stay where there are people if at all possible. At this point the reporters take second place in our list of concerns, because at least they likely don't want to hurt you."

"So you do believe Moriarty wants to hurt me," she asked sadly.

"I honestly don't know what sort of interest Moriarty takes in you. I only know that he probably doesn't want to kill me. If he wanted me dead or just gone he could have let me be exiled. What he wants is my attention, and he wants to hurt me when possible."

"He did want to kill you in the past though."

"True. But I was there with him, in his supposed moment of glory. And he wasn't all that happy. He was almost...disappointed. He said I was the best distraction he had, and now he'd beaten me. He was like a child who wanted to win a game, but once it was done they only wished they could start over. So, no, I don't believe he wants to kill me. He wants me around, because nobody else challenges him like I do."

"But it's possible he could still try to kill your friends?"

Sherlock let out a slow breath. "Yes, it's certainly possible. Though not definite. There's also the chance that he wouldn't want to 'throw away' some good leverage with a single bullet, and then have nothing left to work with. But the point is that at the very least, he could want to hurt you. Anyway...be extra cautious at your flat as well. If anyone knocks at your door, do not open unless you know the person, really know them."

"Oh I don't. I never do that. My father was always going on about that!"

"Good. And if they become insistent about your opening the door, best to simply make a quick exit. Go out the fire escape, and call 999...and then call me of course."

"Of course," she said softly, and thought how warm that made her feel, that he'd require her calling him as well.

"Now! Let's assume just for a moment, that someone is simply trying to kill you. This is valid instruction, not just in the case of Moriarty, but in any case. Especially now with your very public connection to me. Trust me when I say that if anyone pulls a gun on you, you must run. You always run." Sherlock had leant forward in his chair and was looking at her intently.

Molly swallowed as she looked back at him. "Ok."

"I mean it. It's actually highly unlikely that they would get a kill shot if you run. But if they tell you not to move, and you listen, they almost surely will. And when you run, try not to run in a straight line. Run in as random a pattern as possible, thus making it more difficult for them to aim."

"Ok," she said again, nodding her head. "I can do that."

"Good," he said simply, then got up from his seat. "Now, let's assume they simply want to hurt you or abduct you. Time to get up, Molly."

She rose from her seat, and almost the moment she was on her feet, Sherlock darted forward and grabbed both her wrists in his hands.

"Hey!" Molly exclaimed and tried to pull back, with no success.

"Nobody dangerous is going to warn you before they attack. I'm not giving you that luxury either."

"Well what am I supposed to do?" she grunted, still trying to pull backward.

"Stop pulling. I'm stronger than you are, and it's a fight you'll never win. You have to come closer."

"What? Closer?" she frowned.

"Trust me, this works, and it doesn't waste time and energy. Take a couple steps toward me, that's right. Not bend your arms with the goal of bringing your elbows close to my own. Good. Now look at what's happened. My wrists are bent at an awkward angle. This alone may force them to let go. But if not...now I want you to yank your arms straight upward."

Molly then did this and was easily able to pull free from Sherlock's hands.

"Wow. Were you loosening the grip?"

"No. I'm not going to do anything unrealistic like that. It's just the angle you created. It allows for you to have the greater freedom of movement. Let's try it a few more times, just so you can practice."

Sherlock grabbed her wrists three more time and each time she bend her arms and was able to wrench them upward and away. And she gained some more speed with the movement as she became more comfortable.

"There. Good," he said with a nod, satisfied at her competency. Then he looked down and narrowed his eyes. He reached out and gently lifted one of Molly's hands in his own.

Molly's already rapid pulse doubled as he did this, and his thumb very lightly felt the the skin on her wrist as he looked over the area that was a bit red. He raised his eyes to hers again.

He looked a little sheepish, and said in a low voice, "Perhaps I should have been more unrealistically gentle."

Molly licked her lips quickly, trying to gain the ability to push an answer out.

"Uh, n- no. I'm fine actually. Really, I am. I'm just very fair, that's all. I turn red very easily," she said, and immediately thought, oh stupid wording.

Sherlock smirked very slightly as he looked back at her. "Yes, I can see that," he said, and then released her hand. Then he spoke again.

"Right. Now I'll go over a frontal attack. I'll grab you by the neck- don't worry, I won't make this realistic." He gently closed his fingers around her throat.

Molly's hands instinctively went up to grasp his forearms.

"Again, that's a waste of time, and of the little air that you would have circulating. Now, if my arms are bent, you can reach me."

Sherlock moved one hand off her neck and took her hand, placing it at the base of his throat. Molly tried not to let her expression obviously change as her fingers contacted his warm skin. Then he placed his hand back on her neck.

"If you press backward using that hand, you're compromising my airway. And it would force me to at least loosen my grip, probably allowing you to get away. Remember, that in any of these scenarios, all you need to do is make a getaway. There's no need to cause a certain amount of damage or continue to fight them off. I just want you to get away, that's all," he instructed, very seriously.

"I understand. Don't worry, I don't think I'd be interested in hanging around any longer than I have to."

He nodded, then gently replaced his hands around her neck. "Now if my arms are extended like this, you can no longer reach me since my arms are longer than yours. And likely your attacker's would be as well. So instead, take your right hand and swing it around and over my arms as you also turn your body. And as you turn, you'd swing your left arm over and hit me in the neck."

Molly swung her right arm over and turned, then let her left hand come around as well. Although she meant to not actually make contact, she did, and her hand landed instead on the side of his face.

"Oh God! I'm so sorry!" She automatically reached out to touch his cheek briefly.

Sherlock laughed lightly. "It's fine, really. Nothing I haven't felt before." He raised a teasing eyebrow. "Though, in reality, do try to aim for the neck. It's a good deal more effective."

They practiced that move a few more times till Molly felt more competent.

"Alright, now turn around and I'll attack you from behind, like before."

Molly turned around and was very soon rewarded with warm arms wrapping snuggly around her body and arms, and holding her in place with her back against his chest. There was a second of stillness and neither of them said anything. Molly certainly had no desire to struggle right now.

"You're not doing anything," Sherlock said, near her ear.

"Yes well...you're not telling me what to do," she whispered back.

"Ah, right, sorry..." He cleared his throat." So in this case, you may have some mobility in your lower arms. If you do, you would want to swing back and hit as hard as you can in the groin area...Let's skip practicing that one."

Molly snorted out a laugh, then he continued.

"If you can't move your arms much, make use of your head. You can swing your head back as hard as possible and hopefully make contact with my face...Again, let's skip the practical application. Now even if I lift you up, attempting to take you somewhere..."

"Ooh!" Molly squeaked as he lifted her feet from the ground and began walking backward. "How can you be so strong? You don't look this strong!"

There was a second's hesitation behind her, then Sherlock said. "As a side note, insults are rarely an effective deterrent against an attacker."

Molly couldn't control the nervous giggling, and it took her a moment to catch her breath. "No, no! I- I just mean you're...you're not a big man. Well, I mean you're not small either though! You are tall! But you're just...slight. No, not slight! I meant slim! Yes, slim, that's the right word. You're tall and slim, and you look um...really good." Her words slowed at the end and she squeezed her eyes and lips shut in embarrassment at the torrent of ridiculous things that were pouring from her mouth.

Sherlock chuckled a little and she could feel it vibrate against her back. "Perhaps this is a good time to tell you that compliments would also do little to help the situation. Anyway...you can still use your head, for one thing. And this also gives you an excellent opportunity to kick. Aim for the knees if you can and you'd just want to kick as hard as possible. This should either drop your attacker to the ground or make them loosen their grip enough for you to squirm free."

Sherlock set her back on the ground and let his arms slide away. Molly took a small step away and turned to face him again. She suddenly felt that there was some unnamed tension between them, and Sherlock was looking at her almost as if he didn't know what to do next. But then he looked away briefly and he swallowed slowly before he spoke again.

"It is of course possible that your attacker could manage to take you to the...ground." He met her eyes again, a bit nervously.

"The ground?" she questioned, and glanced from the floor back up to him.

"Yes, it would also be useful for you to be able to get away in that situation...Shall we?" He gestured downward.

She stared back at him for a moment. "Um, ok." She hesitantly lowered herself and sat down on the floor.

There she sat and Sherlock sat on his knees a couple feet away from her. They looked at each other for a few seconds before he finally took some initiative.

"Right, so...I am going to need to get...on you. Is that all right?"

Molly had to stop herself from laughing. Not so much because of what he said, but more how he looked when he said it. This was the same man who had grabbed her in the middle of a pub and given her a life altering kiss. And yet here, sitting with her on his own living room floor, he looked completely out of his depth.

"Yes Sherlock, that would be fine," Molly answered in a controlled voice and a business like expression.

She leaned back on the floor against her elbows, and Sherlock somewhat hesitantly climbed over her with a knee on each side torso and then leaned forward just a bit, holding her down gently by her shoulders. They looked at each other for a moment, and before Sherlock had a chance to say anything, Molly spoke.

"What are the chances somebody hasn't written or drawn this very thing occurring on this very floor within the past two weeks?"

"They have," he answered immediately.

"Oh, you really think so? I was actually joking."

"Oh I'm not. I'm sorry to say I'm very serious...though the outcome and attire was quite different."

Molly felt her face heat up again and suddenly had a difficult time making eye contact with the face above her.

"Sorry I brought that up," she said quickly."Shouldn't make jokes."

"Fine...not a problem." He cleared his throat. "So...it's actually rather easy to flip a person who's above you, even if they're stronger and larger. All about leverage. You could of course try to swing and hit with your arms, but it would do little good. My face and neck are too far up for you to reach. So you'll be much better off if you just get me off you."

A strong case could be made for the opposite, Molly thought to herself.

"Take your right hand and grasp my right wrist, and your left arm will hold onto my right upper arm."

"Like this?"

"Exactly. Now, take your left leg and move it to the outside of my right foot, thereby trapping it."

Molly did this.

"What you've done is to trap the right side of my body. So if you then raise your hips and roll over to your left, I shouldn't be able to do much. And of course then you regain the ability to get up and away from the person."

Molly nodded. Then Sherlock spoke again.

"What are you waiting for?"

"Oh ok, you actually want me to...um, all right."

With a renewed flood of embarrassment, Molly then raised her hips and pushed over to the side, flipping them over. Then she quickly backed away, not wanting to stay hanging out in that awkward place for long.

"Good," he said with a nod as he raised up on his elbows. "Let's try that again."

Oh God, Molly thought. Please just let me be able to control my face from blushing for the next five minutes!

Sherlock climbed over her again, more easily this time, a bit of the embarrassment having melted away. Molly did the same thing again twice, slowly following the steps. And she was genuinely surprised at how easy it was to throw a much larger and stronger person right off her. These were skills that were useful whether she was the subject of tabloid gossip being watched by Moriarty...or not.

"Where did you learn all this?" she asked taking a couple deep breaths after sitting down again next to him.

Sherlock shrugged. "Picked up some tips from clients, personal research, learning the hard way, and the list goes on. I couldn't be successful in my work if I were completely useless physically. I can't rely on my mind for everything...almost everything, but not quite," he said with a smile.

Molly nodded. "Pretty useful."

He didn't answer for a moment, then nudged her with his elbow. "Come on, one more time. This time try to incorporate some speed. If you can't surprise someone, then what good is an attack?" He gave her a teasing look.

Molly groaned as she complied and lay on her back again. He was trying to provoke her. She smiled to herself inwardly. If he wanted speed and surprise, she'd give it to him...

Sherlock barely had time to position himself over her before she grabbed his arm and trapped his leg like lightening, then instantly flipped them over. Sherlock let out a grunt as his back hit the floor much harder this time. Then, instead of quickly crawling away, Molly immediately pinned him to the ground in the same way he had done to her. She grinned down at him as he looked up in surprise.

"Surprise!" she said in a purposefully sweet voice.

Sherlock looked like he was trying not to crack a smile. "I could flip you right back over you know."

"I'd like to see you try." Molly grabbed his arms, trying to immobilize them.

Of course Sherlock easily twisted his arms free and did then flip her back over, though she would later decide that he'd clearly made some sort of effort to be gentle on the hard floor. She started laughing as she reached up to push him but he got hold of her wrists and prevented her.

"Ok, which was it?" she asked while laughing and straining to free her arms. "Did you let me slap you? Or were you really that high?"

Sherlock cocked his head and smiled. "Still haven't worked that one out yet? That must be terribly frustrating!"

In the midst of the giggling, she was able to angle her arms like he taught her, and break free. The second her arms were free she rolled them back over again. And by this time, when she sat there pinning him, they were both laughing. She realized that he wasn't fighting this time, and she simply sat there, trying to catch her breath. When she finally stilled the laughter a bit, she looked down at him and said,

"I deduce..." At which point he raised a sarcastic eyebrow. "You did let me slap you. But I don't think it was because I believed you deserved it. I think it was because you did."

His expression changed and became more serious, though he didn't look angry. Molly paused for a moment, then leaned forward to rest her hands on the floor above each of his shoulders, bringing her face a little closer for effect. She continued in a slightly softer voice.

"In fact, I think you knew that you'd had it coming for quite a long time. Perhaps in more ways than one...Am I getting warm detective?" She raised her own eyebrow in question.

Sherlock stared up at her, unable to tear his eyes away. He instantly began to justify it. Physical activity, exercise, increased heart rate, all causing the release of endorphins. Not a surprising end result. There's nothing unusual about this. If I can just look away, I'll stop wanting to push that piece of hair back behind her ear that fell out of her ponytail. All I have to do is look away...But instead he kept his eyes locked to hers and realized how low and soft his voice had gotten once he answered her.

"You are, Molly...getting warm."

His answer, or maybe more accurately the way he said it, caused Molly's expression to turn a bit more serious as well. She noticed how he visibly swallowed as he continued examining her face. Molly wasn't sure if she should move, and if so, which direction should she move in? Forward, or backward?

Sherlock's gaze fell on the strand of hair again, and for some unnamed reason, it embodied this visual connection that he couldn't break. All he could think about was that strand of hair and how he wanted to take it and gently put it right back where it was supposed to be. He felt his arm begin to move, almost of its own accord, but it wouldn't follow through completely. He felt like an idiot a second later, for verbalizing what he was focusing on.

"Your-" He closed his lips for just a second again before continuing, as if it were difficult to say. "Hair."

Molly had to take a second to realize what he was looking at and talking about, because of course it was a strange conversation shift. Then her eyes shifted to the side a bit and saw the loose strand. "Oh. Right, um...thanks." She tucked it behind her ear.

Sherlock had a sinking feeling. Because that did not solve the problem. The hair had been neatly tucked away, but so help him...he still wanted to reach up and touch her...

"Molly..." he began, but wasn't sure where he was headed. But she spoke instead where he'd trailed off.

"Sorry, do you...want me to move?" she said, not much above a whisper, and she thought to herself what a ridiculous question that was. What exactly was she expecting the answer to be?

"Molly..." he tried again, but still didn't get much further."I..."

They were frozen like that, and barely noticed the sound in the distance of footsteps and a voice. The voice became a bit louder in the background, but neither really registered the whole thing till it was a bit late.

"Sherlock! I think I left my mobile here! I tried calling you, but you didn't-"

And there was John, standing in the open doorway, holding the knob of the door that he'd swung open. He stood there staring back at the two of them on the floor with that familiar I've missed something, haven't I? look on his face.

There was a moment's pause where not a word was spoken. Then John nodded slowly before he finally opened his mouth.

"Yeah, I think this would be a perfect time to remind you of what a good friend I am. Because you do realize that with what I've just witnessed, there's about a dozen papers that would love to make me a very rich man."

Sherlock began to sit up, which also broke Molly out of her fog. She quickly climbed off of him and got to her feet. Sherlock did the same, though they both continued to look a bit like deer in the headlights.

"Relax, John. What you witnessed was a self defense lesson."

"Is that what they're calling it these days?" John muttered, just loud enough for Sherlock to hear, as he began scanning the room for his mobile. Though he then noticed that Molly was gathering up her jumper and bag. "Sorry, Molly, you don't have to go. I'm just getting my phone and leaving again."

At that moment Sherlock had seen it on the desk and he shoved it into John's hand.

"Right, see there it is," he said holding up the device for a moment and literally backing slowly out of the room. "So I'm all set, I'll just get going then. Thanks for finding it, Sherlock. Ok, so...I'll talk to you soon. Yeah, alright...bye." John made his hurried exit with a brief wave to the two of them.

Molly turned to Sherlock with a slight grimace. "He really didn't have to go."

"Oh I know, but clearly he thought he did. Now he'll be running off to tell our number one fan all about what he just saw." He ran a hand over his face.

"Oh right, sorry," Molly said, quietly chastising herself.

"Don't apologize, Molly. I'm not that concerned," he replied calmly. Though he sounded a bit hesitant as he added, "Besides...it wasn't just you."

Molly stood there holding her jumper and bag, knowing that this was the end of the night. It was time to take her leave, but she didn't want to go. And she couldn't help but wonder what would have happened had John never arrived. Where was that little scene on the floor headed? What would he have let her do in that moment? At the start, she had naturally resisted the urge to lean down and kiss him soundly, simply because he was Sherlock. But as the moments had been passing, she began to wonder if he actually would have protested. He had been looking at her in a way that she'd rarely witnessed. And it almost made her throw all caution to the wind. If John hadn't arrived, she wondered if she would have ended up leaning forward and pressing her mouth to those perfect lips of his...

And then she reminded herself that it was a good thing that John had arrived when he did. Because she was probably moments away from making a huge moron of herself.

"Well, I'll get going anyway. I do have to work tomorrow. I appreciate the lesson though, Sherlock. Really, I do. I'm sure it'll make me feel a lot more confident when I'm alone."

"Good. I'd like for you to feel safe," he said kindly.

Molly smiled and nodded, then opened the door for herself. But she turned as she was leaving.

"Oh and, Sherlock? No more sneaking up on me. You might be sorry next time," she said with a small smirk.

He smiled back at her in response as she then left and closed the door behind her. Sherlock walked over to the window and watched as she left the front door and hailed a cab. A cab finally stopped and she got in. When it drove off, Sherlock walked away from the window and let out a heavy breath. He found himself staring down at the floor. The now quiet and empty place on the floor, which had been quite the opposite only a few minutes before.

Then he whispered to himself, "I might already be sorry."

Chapter Text

"Seriously? Right here?" Mary asked John, keeping her voice low enough that Sherlock wouldn't hear from the kitchen.

"Swear to God, Mary. Right here, on the floor. I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes," John said, keeping his voice low as well.

Mary scoffed a little. "Oh I believe it alright. Though I'm still angry that I didn't get to see it myself. I should have just come with you!" She pounded her fist in the air in frustration.

"I tried to tell you Molly wouldn't be here today. There really wasn't any point in your coming with me."

It had been four days since the self defense incident John had discovered, and Mary had insisted on accompanying him to Sherlock's flat each time since then. John would have feared for his life when he'd come home and told her the news, if she'd not been pregnant and had terrible mobility. Even as she was, she practically tackled him to the ground in hysterical laughing and shouting of "I knew it!"

"You never know!" she said, pointing a finger at her husband. "I will not take the chance that I'll miss something that good again!"

John tried to still his laughter as Sherlock came back into the room. He handed Mary the glass of water she'd requested and then took a seat in his chair.

"Anything new to report, Mary?" he asked as he opened the paper.

"Mm, not really. Thankfully for you, none of the reporters have learned how to bug your flat. If they had, I think it would crash Twitter!"

Sherlock drew a slow breath and let it out. "Yes, yes I know. The only one who bugs my flat is Mycroft, and I don't particularly care what he sees. In fact, the more I can disturb him, the better."

"So, not that I minded riding along with you two while you wrapped up a case for Lestrade...but this evening is also going to involve food isn't it?" Mary asked hopefully as she took a seat on the couch.

"If only for the benefit of the small and illusive Miss Watson, yes it will," Sherlock said with a smile over toward the couch.


An hour later, they sat happily around the room with take away containers. Sherlock ate a little, but was mostly busy on his laptop as John and Mary ate and chatted. Suddenly, Mary's mobile began alerting her insistently. She picked it up and began looking, when a look of horror came across her features.

"Oh my God." she murmured.

"What? What is it?" John asked and leaned over to look at the screen.

The two of them stared at her phone in silence, then they slowly looked at each other. They looked over at Sherlock who was still focused on the screen of his laptop. Mary looked back at John.

"You say something," she whispered.

"What do I say? You know he's going to act like it's no big deal," John whispered back.

"He's got to know, John!" she hissed. "It is a big deal!"

John grimaced for a moment, then sat up and cleared his throat.

"What is it, John? You two are obviously whispering about something over there," Sherlock said, before John could open his mouth.

"Well, yeah...see, there's something on Mary's Twitter feed that maybe you should have a look at."

Sherlock slowly got up and came over closer. John and Mary both got up too, and Mary held her phone out to show him.

Sherlock took the phone from Mary and examined the screen. There were a number of tweets in the feed from various Sherlock Holmes and Sherlolly Twitter accounts. There were a few different pictured featured. But they were all of a man and woman sitting at the table of a cafe, talking and laughing. And in one picture, the man had his hand covering over the woman's...and the woman was Molly. The tweets said things like, "Sherlolly on the rocks?!" "No! What's Molly doing?!" "What will Sherlock deduce about this?" The comments below the tweets were even more forceful and even downright biting. "How dare she betray him? Sherlock better see that she does not deserve him!" And that was the edited version.

Sherlock turned and looked back at his friends. John, and even more so Mary, looked like they'd just found out their parents were getting a divorce. They also looked a bit like they were expecting some sort of horrible reaction from him.

"Well?" Mary prompted.

Sherlock cleared his throat, and calmly handed her phone back to her. "Well what?" he answered in his most even voice available.

"I mean...what are you going to do?" she asked.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at them. "What exactly are you expecting me to do? Ride off on my steed and challenge the man to a duel? I think your imagination continues to run away with you, Mary." He walked back over to his desk and took a seat.

Mary exchanged a look with John and he shrugged.

"So that doesn't bother you at all?" Mary pushed further.

"Molly and I aren't actually dating, if you recall. That fact hasn't changed. The number of inventive gifs and memes don't actually effect the status of our relationship. We are friends. And therefore she can date, or not date, whoever she'd like. If that changes the public's view of us, well then...so be it." He finished his statement in a somewhat smaller and less convincing voice.

"The public sure doesn't like her as much as they used to!" John commented as he had sat down and continued looking through the tweets. "Maybe she'd be safer from Moriarty this way, but people on the streets might just eat her alive!"

"I mean, don't you at least want to know who he is?" Mary asked desperately.

"As long as he's not a danger, it's...fine," Sherlock answered quietly, keeping his eyes fixed on the computer screen.

Mary looked back at John with wide eyes, then back at Sherlock.

"Fine? Fine, Sherlock?! Weeks of sexual tension between you two, and now she's on a date with some strange man, and it's 'fine?!' Do not give me that!"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and finally looked away from the computer and at Mary. "You are assuming it's a date, it might not even be a date!"

Mary pointed an accusing finger at him then and grinned, looking pleased with herself. "Ah ha! So you're hoping it's not a date then!"

"I didn't say that," he said shaking his head, but looking like he knew he'd begun to dig himself a hole.

"You didn't have to, Sherlock," she said proudly, and took a seat next to John. She looked at her mobile again and kept reading. She continued talking, but it was more to herself, or maybe to her husband sitting next to her.

"God, people are horrified! And mostly they're mad at Molly. I mean, I am surprised. I wouldn't think she'd, you know...she can't really be interested in this guy..." Her voice trailed off. Mary caught Sherlock looking over at them for a second, but then his gaze darted back to the laptop.

There was some silence for a while as Sherlock continued working away on his computer, and Mary and John finished their food. After a while longer, Sherlock got up from the desk and sat in his chair. He slouched down and closed his eyes, thinking deeply.

Mary looked at John and mouthed "should we leave?" John shook his head. He wasn't unaccustomed to Sherlock's acting as if nobody but him was in the room, so he knew there was no rush to leave. So for a while John and Mary became involved in their own conversation having to do with last minute adjustments in the layout of the flat. And then John began feeling his wife's stomach as she indicated that little Miss Watson was on the move. They smiled as they both felt their baby moving around in the very little space she had left available to her.

Suddenly, Sherlock jumped up and made his way into the kitchen, making the Watsons startle a bit. They heard a number of cabinets open and close. And then the fridge as well. John frowned, and called out to Sherlock in question.

"You looking for something?"

Sherlock didn't answer right away. He first went down the hall and into his bedroom. A moment later, he came back out having discarded his dressing gown that had covered his shirt, and had replaced it with a suit jacket.

"Seems I'm fresh out of fingers," he said matter-of-factly.

"Fingers?" John asked slowly, as he watched Sherlock put his coat on.

"Yes, fingers. The digits at the end of a person's hand...I'll need to get some more."

John looked at Mary, who was trying to control her smile.

"You two don't have to rush off. Make yourselves at home." He opened the door, making his exit. But he stuck his head back in momentarily before shutting the door. "No need to wait for me though, I'm not sure when I'll be back...Evening."

His curly head then disappeared and the door shut.

Mary's mouth then spread in a full grin as she shoved John playfully. "Oh this is gonna be good! I wish I could have planted a mic on him!"


Molly sat at her desk in the lab and continued the tedious task of finishing paperwork. This was turning into a truly horrid night at work. She hated hours of paperwork, and hated working late too. And on top of the usual irritants, she had suddenly been turned into the most hated woman in London.

"Stupid, stupid..." she muttered to herself bitterly as she typed away.

Sure, it was all innocent enough. But she should have known better. It doesn't matter what something really is anymore. She should be thinking in terms of how other people could take it and twist it into something wild and crazy and far from reality. And she felt guilty, which she knew was ridiculous. There was nothing to feel guilty about. Not only because there was nothing remotely inappropriate about that lunch, but also because of the fact that she had no reason to restrict her social life! She kept reminding herself of this. Just because people believed she and Sherlock were together, that did not mean they were. She had no obligation to be faithful to him...no matter how badly she wanted to be.

She was pulled from her thoughts by the door behind her opening. But instead of a coworker that she expected, she was warmed by the smooth baritone that she'd recognize anywhere. She could swear that she would know the feel of it, even if she weren't able to hear it.

"Why do you insist on doing paperwork?" he questioned, like a child.

Molly turned briefly, then looked back at the computer as she answered. "It is part of my job, Sherlock. You do want me to keep my job, don't you?"

"If you put it like that...I'd much rather you were in the morgue though. I'm in need of fingers."

"You have ten."

"Obviously I'd like ones other than my own. I can't exactly experiment on my own fingers."

Molly turned again and smirked at him for a second.

"Yes, I know, I tried it once in desperation. But, as you know, it did not end well. So, when I say I cannot experiment on my own fingers, it's actually a proven statement! So I do indeed need fingers that are not my own, and preferably not connected to anyone living that I know. Unless you'd be willing to volunteer your own. Though I'd be rather sad to waste your fingers, Molly. They're terribly useful in post-mortems, and I think we had only just finished establishing the fact that we'd very much like to have you keep your job."

Molly sighed, smiled, and locked her computer screen. The'd be no getting work done till he was gone. So it was probably wisest to take care of his needs first. Certainly wouldn't be the first time. She got up and turned to see the pleased grin that met her.

"Ok, come on. Let's go downstairs," she said with her own smile of acceptance.


Ten minutes later, Sherlock leaned against an autopsy table as Molly went to get what he'd requested. He waited patiently with his hands in his pockets. He worked hard at pushing away the idea that he'd not yet done what he'd really come here to do...

"Ok, here we go," she said, holding out the small plastic bag. "Fingers."

Sherlock took the bag and held it up, turning it back and forth and examining it. Then he looked down at her with a slightly pouty face.

"There's only four."

Molly sighed and gave him a weary look. "And that's four more fingers than you came in here with ten minutes ago. Shouldn't you be saying thank you?"

Sherlock cleared his throat while taking one more look at the bag, then he mustered up a small smile. "Yes...thank you."

"You're welcome...anything else?" she asked quite innocently, but was praying that this wasn't really all he came in for.

Sherlock opened his mouth, then pressed it closed again and looked away for a moment. I'm not here for anything else, I didn't come for anything but the fingers, I don't need anything else, and I don't need to know anything else...but...of course Mary would never let me hear the end of it if I didn't investigate further into the events of this supposed lunch date. I'll have to hear about it for days and days on end. Yes...yes, it's better to just get the facts and then move along. Much much better. Completely legitimate to need this basic information.

"Oh, incidentally...are you aware that you were photographed again recently?" Sherlock added casually.

Molly's face immediately colored and she looked at her feet for a second before looking back at him. She answered in a small voice. "Um...yes, I am aware. That was...unfortunate. Was that, um, a dangerous thing to do?" She looked a little nervous.

"Dangerous? No, no. I highly doubt it."

"Oh. Good."

"Yes, I'm sure Moriarty is unconcerned with your fidelity."

His use of the word fidelity caused an invisible knife to stab her to the heart.

"Oh. I see," she said in an even smaller voice.

Sherlock began to notice the fact that she was somehow upset by this whole situation. "I'm sure he's much more concerned with my feeling on things. That's always going to be what he tries to exploit. The worst you've done is to gain yourself some angry fans." He gave her a slightly comforting smile.

Molly didn't really smile back though. She still looked like a child who'd been called to the main office at school. "It wasn't- it wasn't what it...looked like."

She's worried about how it appeared to me he thought as he looked at her somewhat pleading eyes. He answered her, and knew he was lying through his teeth.

"There's no need to explain, Molly. It's fine."

"Yes, but...I'd like to anyway."

Sherlock set the bag down on the table behind him, indicating his willingness to listen.

"So...his name is Bobby. He went to medical school with me. We were friends. Well, alright, we were briefly more than that. But mostly we were just friends. He's nice. Anyway, he was here giving a lecture, and Mike Stamford happened to mention my name. So he said he wanted to come see me. Then he offered to buy me lunch down the road so we could catch up. So I went. We had lunch, and we caught up, and he told me all about how his life is going...and that was all. Of course, it didn't really look like that was all, based on the pictures."

"That's what they're good at that. The paparazzi, I mean," Sherlock answered.

"As we well know," she said with a smile.

Sherlock tried to utter the next set of words as evenly and casually as possible. "And you'll be seeing him again?"

Molly immediately shook her head. "Oh no! He lives a couple hours away. He was just visiting for the lecture, and he didn't say anything about coming back any time soon."

"I see."

There was a moment of silence and Molly finally spoke again. "So, um, is this it then? I mean, do people think we're not together anymore?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Not sure it's as simple as that. They may give you the benefit of the doubt and assume he was a friend. Or they may just see it as a rough patch. Or as we've said before, it may not even matter if they don't think we're together. They do ship us after all." He smirked.

She couldn't help a shy smile at that statement as he continued.

"Though it is possible that this could be the beginning of the end for the truly mad media interest. This may have been enough to throw off their false beliefs. So perhaps you've done yourself a favor. Perhaps your life will get easier now. I'm sure this has...complicated things for you recently; socially, I mean," Sherlock said with a look of slight discomfort.

"Oh. You mean, dating? Oh, that's fine, really. No problem. I'm not really interested in dating." She shook her head for emphasis.

Sherlock frowned a little in confusion. "You do remember that you almost got married recently. How is it that you are suddenly uninterested in dating?"

Molly started to get nervous about this conversation. How do you explain to someone why you don't want to date, without telling them that they're the reason?

"Um, well, that was just different. It wasn't even that I was looking to get married originally. I mean, I wasn't even looking to date when I met Tom." She winced and wondered why she couldn't learn to keep her mouth shut and remember that less is more!

Sherlock frowned. "And yet, you did indeed date the man. And then you become engaged."

"Well...yes. I suppose. But..." Molly hesitated. "I really never should have."

"Why?"

Oh God, she thought. Such a simple question. But it's so hard to answer.

"Because it was just...silly. I shouldn't have even started dating him because..." Molly paused and took a deep breath. "We're friends, right?"

Sherlock nodded silently.

"So, I can tell you this, right?" she asked, but it was more of a rhetorical question. "It's just that, I always felt guilty about the way I met Tom."

"You met him through friends," he stated tentatively.

Molly grimaced slightly. "Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I suppose my friends were technically there. But that's not exactly how I met him."

Sherlock stared back at her, realizing that she felt she needed to tell him this, whatever this was. And there was a part of him that didn't want to say he wasn't interested, or that he didn't need to know this. So he said, "Go on."

Molly took another breath, then walked over to stand next to him and also lean against the autopsy table. Then she continued.

"So, you'd been gone a little over a year. I didn't know how long you'd be gone, of course. I know you'd said it could be quite some time, but I had no idea what that meant. So, I was beginning to worry that you were never coming back. I was afraid that I'd have to go to my grave with your secret. Which would be ok! Except, I didn't even know if you were still all right. I wondered if you really were dead...somewhere. I was afraid of the not knowing, for who knows how long." She paused to swallow.

Sherlock felt guilty himself, as he watched her speak. He'd rarely considered while he'd been away, all the things that could have been plaguing this small woman's mind.

"Anyway, I was feeling particularly...low one evening. And a couple of my girlfriends convinced me to go to a pub with them. I really didn't want to go. But they wouldn't hear of me staying home. I couldn't even explain why I was upset. All everyone thought was that I was still feeling badly because a man I happen to work with sometimes had died over a year ago. I couldn't really correct them, and I couldn't offer a truthful explanation. So anyway, I went with them to the pub. I figured I wouldn't mind having a couple drinks. I sat there at the table almost the whole time, by myself. So I'd had a couple drinks and was feeling a bit overwhelmed at that moment. A bit...alone."

Sherlock couldn't stay silent any longer. "I'm sorry, Molly," he whispered.

"No, it's fine," she said with a smile and a small shake of her head. "You don't have to be sorry, really. I was the one being silly. Anyway, there I sat at the little table with the music blasting and the lights pretty low. And suddenly, I looked up..."

And then Molly stopped and looked across the morgue, as if she were demonstrating what had actually happened that night.

"And I saw you," she said simply.

Sherlock froze. Of course he thought. He wondered how he'd not realized it before this. He probably hadn't wanted to see it.

"I saw you standing there in your long wool coat, with your hands locked behind your back, and your hair outlining your face...or, what little I could see of your face. It was dark...so, I dropped my drink. I literally dropped it onto the table, and I felt like I couldn't breath. I didn't think in that moment, why would he suddenly show up in a pub? Why would he be here? It wouldn't make sense. I didn't think, I just got up and crossed the room, barely able to take steps. I finally got there, and I stopped right behind him. And I almost said your name, but then he turned around right before I could open my mouth."

"Tom," Sherlock said somberly.

She nodded silently, then went on. "That hit me even harder somehow than when I'd thought I saw you. It was like the biggest let down you can imagine. In those thirty seconds, you were back and life was normal again. And then suddenly I was sent right back to all the worries I thought I was free of. I felt like such an idiot too. I even hated myself a little for thinking that someone else could be you. So, like a complete fool, I started to tear up. Tom was concerned of course. He turns around to find some silly woman beginning to weep! So he took my arm and sat me down at his table and tried to ask me what's wrong. I did mutter something about thinking he was someone else. He said he was sorry he wasn't who I thought. And then I got angry; angry at myself, for even hoping that it was you, for even caring if it was you. And so I told him it was ok. I said it was ok that he wasn't who I'd thought. In fact I went so far as to lie, and say I was actually glad. And then I asked him his name, and he asked to buy me a drink...I guess you could say the rest is history."

Sherlock stood there silently digesting all of this. He wasn't sure exactly what to say. His own emotions were conflicted. The true story both disturbed and touched him. He'd felt bad enough that he'd caused his other friends the pain that he had. But, if questioned, he would have summed up Molly's inconvenience in a simple 'she had to keep a secret' or perhaps 'she missed me.' But he realized that he had been massively over simplifying it. The reality had been a much deeper hurt; a hurt that he hadn't understood till now. And the fall out meant an unexpected (and deep down possibly unwanted) relationship, that eventually ended in hurt as well...which led him to his next question.

"How long did it take Tom to realize who you actually thought he was?"

"Well, he didn't really figure it out until you came back, and he met you. We got home that night and had a very long talk. That was actually when I told him everything. I told him about your coming to me for help...all of it. I hope you can see why I felt badly for him at the time, and why I had tried to be so honest. I know now he wasn't worth it, of course. And I wish it hadn't happened at all...but there you have it." She shrugged.

"I understand Molly, and there's no need to feel sorry. Perhaps I could have even prevented it. What would have happened...if I'd kept in touch while I was away? Even once in a great while."

"Um, I suppose my mind would have been more at ease, knowing you were ok. And I would have known you hadn't totally...forgotten about all of us."

"And would you have been with Tom?" The second the question left his lips, he realized what he was actually asking. And he felt like he shouldn't have asked it. What sort of question was that? In essence, he was asking if she would have stayed away from another man if he had remained in contact with her.

And from the way Molly looked at him, it seemed she had felt the very same weight attached to the question. She thought about saying something vague like, 'oh, who knows?' or 'it's really hard to say now. That was so long ago.' But then she thought, if he's willing to ask a question like that, then I'm not going to give anything but a straight answer. She looked him right in the eyes, as she gave it.

"You know I wouldn't have," she whispered.

She was right, he did know. Not only did his asking the question frighten him, but it frightened him that he already knew the answer. And the truth was, that perhaps deep down he knew it all those years ago too. If he was honest with himself, he had probably understood that this could be a chance for her to move along with her life. Because he truly did believe that she should.

"Yes, I suppose I do know that," he responded just as softly.

Molly let out a slow breath and finally pulled her eyes away from his. "Well, I've gotten away from that paperwork for much too long haven't I?" she said brightly, trying to change the tone of the conversation.

"I'll let you go then," he said in a back to business sort of voice, and picked up his small bag of fingers. He began making his way to the door right away.

They both left the morgue and when they'd gotten back upstairs to the lab, Molly moved to go inside, while Sherlock stopped.

"I'll see you later then...maybe not in the papers so much though," she said, and it didn't come out as hopeful as she'd meant it to sound.

"Maybe not," he said with a half smile, then began to walk away.

"Sherlock?" she called out, making him turn again. And then Molly smiled a little. "It wasn't...all that bad."

He offered another small smile. "No, it wasn't."

Sherlock turned and walked away then. And he wondered if this really did mark the end of the public's obsession about himself and Molly. It was possible. Especially if the passage of time was factored in. And so things could conceivably go back to normal.

Sherlock began to wonder exactly how he felt about that.

Chapter Text

The next week was somewhat uneventful for Sherlock. He took a few cases, but they were nothing too exciting. Nothing over a six. He spend a lot of extra time in his flat, playing his violin, or maybe doing some experimenting. But despite the fact that he wasn't overrun with cases, Sherlock had opted not to frequent Bart's in search of body parts or for the fun of observing the occasional autopsy.

It appeared to be the wise course. There did seem to be a shift in the level of media fascination lately. Even before the incident with Molly's supposed lunch date, there had been relatively little for the papers and the internet to feed off of. And as Sherlock had predicted from the start, eventually they would lose interest. So he figured that if the interest was starting to wane, it would be an appropriate time to keep some distance. He quickly found that this wasn't easy though.

He did it for Molly, really. He still rightly felt responsible for the way this whole things had started. And regardless of the feelings that she previously or perhaps even currently had for him, there was nothing positive for her in becoming the focus of tabloid gossip. She had a nice little life, and he knew she liked it that way. He didn't want to rob her of that. After all the woman had done for him, he felt it was only right that he at least not continue to turn her whole world upside down.

He spent some free time in his mind palace that week as well. There was a lot to catalogue from the past few weeks...and there should have been a lot more to delete. But every time he came across some little bit of information that he would normally toss, he found some sort of reason not to. The way Molly's hair smells may be a useful piece of information. Always wise to know which brands and products those around you use. Could help clear their name one day...it's probably important to know what Molly's normal vs. elevated respiration and heart rates are. Makes it so much easier to read someone. There were lots of little details like that to be sorted out . And then, of course, there was the kiss itself.

Now Sherlock didn't even possess the skills to literally delete the entire event from his mind. He'd never been able to do such a thing. He would always have a memory of the event in general. But the particulars of it...those were what gave him trouble. He tried to delete the details at first. How her lips tasted, the exact pressure that she offered on her side of the kiss, the small changes in her breathing patterns depending on his own mouth's movements, the quiet sighs, the way her small hands felt on his skin when they'd eventually made their way to his neck, and the way she'd gazed up at him after it was all over.

He eventually found that these things couldn't be deleted. There seemed to be no getting rid of them. So he moved on to plan B. Justifying their presence. That was also difficult. He was having trouble coming up with business like reasons as to why he needed to know what Molly's mouth tasted like. And it was difficult to explain to himself why he needed to remember the breathy sounds that he not only heard, but also felt against her lips. Any reason to keep those things would logically have to include the idea that the information would be used again. He could come up with nothing legitimate, and that was frustrating. There were very few memories that Sherlock ever chose to carefully store away that had absolutely no useful reason to be kept. But after enough days of mental struggle, he found that these memories would just have to stay. He could come up with no other reason besides the fact that he simply couldn't let them go.

He eventually came to plan C. Accept these details and memories as a small indulgence. He'd had precious few real kisses in his life. But he'd had enough to know...that was a very good one, for reasons that he'd realized were innumerable after his extensive sorting of the details. So it was worth keeping. If nothing else, it could become a standard. Something to compare to...not that he had any sort of desire to kiss other women and then compare it to the perfection of his kiss with Molly...

And it was a thought like that which was seriously troubling to him.

Peppering the days of that week, were also a number of notices from Mary about the shift in social media. Apparently the public now believed him to be in a lovesick state. The little video clips and picture slideshows that were being created were now much more somber. The songs being used, to name only a few, were...Say Something by A Great Big World, I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt, Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars, We Might As Well Be Strangers by Keanne, Someone Like You by Adele, Ashes And Wine by A Fine Frenzy, and Slow Dancing In A Burning Room by John Mayer.

Seeing as it wasn't a terribly busy week for him, and he did enjoy good music, Sherlock took to listening to some of the music that was floating around the internet as the soundtrack to his and Molly's "breakup." Some of it he found to be genuinely good. In spare time, usually at night when sleep eluded him, he would take some of these newly discovered songs and challenge himself to play some on his violin. He found some strange comfort in these sad songs, and felt that he'd gained some insight into the idea that people ironically listened to depressing music during depressing times in their lives...not that this was a depressing time in his life of course, he'd remind himself. But it was interesting nonetheless.

The morning that marked a week since he'd last been into Bart's or seem Molly at all, he got a text from her.

HI. HAVEN'T SEEN YOU IN HERE FOR A WHILE. YOU MUST BE BUSY...I DO HAVE A COUPLE OF INTERESTING AUTOPSIES ON SCHEDULE THOUGH. YOU'RE WELCOME TO WATCH IF YOU'VE GOT NOTHING ELSE. :) -MH

It was somewhat unusual. Molly didn't usually contact him unless there was a specific reason, or unless he'd instructed her to for some reason. This was more of an open invitation. She was simply asking if he'd like to have a visit. He considered the possibility that she thought something was wrong. He didn't usually stay away for so many days on end. He stared at the text for a very long time before finally answering.

THANK YOU...BUT WORKING TODAY. -SH

It was sort of true. John was going to be over soon and they were planning on sifting through the inbox and attempting to find some worthwhile cases. Under more normal circumstances, Sherlock absolutely would have abandoned the prospect of mediocre cases in favor of observing some interesting autopsies. But he reminded himself that things were going well in the way of media losing interest. This wasn't the time to go running off to Bart's again just for fun. He was sure that Molly would thank him later.


John arrived about a half hour later and there wasn't a huge rush to get work going. John made some tea, Sherlock took the trouble of actually putting normal clothes on, and Mrs. Hudson came up for a chat so John could update her on how Mary was doing. When all was said and done, it was almost an hour later when they sat down to begin looking through emails. Or rather, John sat down to read and Sherlock listened when he felt like it.

"No. Too obvious."

"It's not obvious to them, Sherlock! They wouldn't be emailing you if it was. We don't have a lot of options, so you may as well pick one of these. Actually...yeah, those are all the options. So you'll have to pick one of those. I didn't come over so you could insult all your emails and take no cases."

Sherlock didn't respond, and instead picked up his phone which was buzzing on the table beside his chair. John groaned and leaned back in his chair as Sherlock muttered and "excuse me" and walked into the kitchen.

"Hello Mary," he said as he peered into the fridge. Time to examine the options for experiments since this day wasn't panning out the way he hoped.

"Sherlock, I need you to check your email that I just sent you!" she said immediately.

"Yes, I was just going through them," he replied calmly.

"No, I need you to look now! I sent you the link to a fan fiction, and it didn't sound right to me. It's supposed to be about you and Molly, but it's mostly about a shooting at Bart's hospital. It's pretty dark and it doesn't end well...Molly dies."

Sherlock closed the fridge and began listening more closely as Mary basically related the short story to him.

Back in the other room, John heard his mobile ringing and he picked it up, seeing that Lestrade was calling.

"Hi, Greg."

"John, are you with Sherlock? He's not answering his mobile."

"Uh, yeah he's here. He's on the phone actually. I think he's talking to Mary. What's going on?" John noted the fact that he heard sirens in the background.

"I need you to ask Sherlock if Molly is working today. It's important," Lestrade said with a note of concern in his voice.

"Ok, um, hold on a second...Hey, Sherlock!" he called into the kitchen.

"Just a minute John! Anything else, Mary? Anything of significance? Who is the writer?"

"It's written by Anon-author. Pretty generic, so that doesn't tell us much. I just didn't like the sound of it, it really stood out to me. It's only about a thousand words, but it's pretty bleak. Read it yourself if you have the chance."

"Sherlock! Just a quick question!" John called again to him.

"Yes, John! Yes, just a second!. Right, thank you, Mary. I'll be in touch soon." He hung up, placing the phone back in his pocket and finally coming over to where John stood. "Yes, what is it?"

John held the phone out to him. "Lestrade's calling with a question about Molly. Said its important," he said with a shrug.

Sherlock's eyes widened as he looked at the phone in his friend's hand. He hesitated a moment and swallowed before reaching out and taking it. He put it to his ear and uttered a "hello?" in a low voice.

"Sherlock, can you tell me if Molly is working today? I need to know if she could be at Bart's!"

Sherlock didn't hear any more. He didn't need to hear any more. He heard it in Lestrade's voice loud and clear, and he heard it in the sound of the emergency vehicles in the background too...and then the world came crashing down around him.

He saw Molly. He saw the way she'd looked at him the last time he'd seen her, he saw the words of her text message from that morning, and how sweet and kind the offer had been. He remembered the way he'd lifted her so easily in this very room, her small body fitting so perfectly against his own. And he remembered the way it felt to hold her little hand inside his as he felt the pale skin on her wrist. And then, against his own will, he felt it...he felt her small lips pressing against his own as the flood of all the memories came pouring out of the room where he'd tried to tuck them neatly away.

Lestrade then began repeating the question and asking if Sherlock was still there. But Sherlock had dropped the phone, grabbed his coat, and was running out the door.

"Sherlock!" John yelled after him. He huffed in irritation and picked up his mobile, grabbed his own coat, and ran after him. He also got back on with Lestrade.

"Greg, what's going on?"

"Where did Sherlock go?!"

"He literally dropped the phone and ran out the door. What did you say to him?" John questioned as he flew down the stairs.

"I barely said a thing! I asked if Molly was working, that's all! John, listen, there's a gunman in Bart's. The whole place is on lock down."

"Oh my God!" he murmured as he reached the street where Sherlock was getting a cab. "We've got to go to Bart's, Sherlock! There's a shooter!"

"Yes I know! I know! Get in!" Sherlock yelled and they both piled in the cab.

"Ok, we'll be there in a few minutes, Greg," John assured him and hung up, then he spoke to Sherlock again. "What was that? How did you know what he was calling about?"

Sherlock answered at the speed of light as he looked on his mobile.

"Mary...that was Mary calling me earlier. There's a fan fiction that's just been posted. It detailed a shooting at Bart's. There's no indication of whether it was Moriarty or not, but it certainly seems sinister enough."

"Oh God...what do we do? I mean, does the story offer any sort of clues?"

"I'm reading it now, hold on!" Sherlock's eyes quickly scanned the phone screen. A minute of two later he dropped the phone in his lap and growled in frustration. "There's nothing! It's just a description of a gunman in the hospital, Molly is shot and killed, and I don't get there till after the fact. There's nothing unusual about it except for the fact that it's sad and dark!"

"You think Moriarty could be behind this though?"

"It's quite likely. Hard to say for sure, but we already saw him send me a sort of message on that site in the form of reviews. He already knows we're watching him, along with the world of fans and social media."

John started texting Mary to fill her in on what was going on, then he spoke again.

"Should you call her? Or text her maybe? See if she's alright?"

"No! We can't do that. What if she's trying to hide somewhere. We run the risk, although slim, that the gunman could be nearby and we'd give away her location."

John let out a heavy sigh as he ran hands over his face.

"I just have to get there John," Sherlock said rather quietly, staring out the window. "I just need to get there."

John stared at him, although he wasn't looking back. He was genuinely terrified for his friend at that moment. He knew Sherlock well enough now to understand how deeply he could care about the well-being of his friends, and how far he was willing to go to keep them safe. If he were to lose Molly now...John was afraid of what it would do to him. He jumped when Sherlock suddenly moved again and yelled at the cabbie.

"Can't you go any faster?! This is an emergency!" he bellowed.

A few minutes later, they did pull up to Bart's hospital. Or at least as close as they were able to get to it. A large area of the street was blocked off and there were countless emergency vehicles around the area. The cab barely stopped and Sherlock opened the door and jumped out. John quickly paid and then followed after him. They soon caught sight of Lestrade standing just beyond the police barrier set up to hold back the reporters and cameras.

Sherlock hopped over quickly and grabbed Lestrade immediately.

"Where is she? Is she out?"

Lestrade sighed. "No, the whole place is still locked down at the moment. They're sending teams in to sweep the whole building and try to find this guy. And they're slowly getting people out too. But it could take some time, Sherlock! They have to be careful and be organized. You can't just have everyone running for the doors when you don't know where a shooter is. You're going to have to be patient!" He placed a hand on his shoulder.

"We can't just sit here! What are we supposed to do?" he demanded.

"If I get any information I promise I'll come right to you, ok?" he said, trying to be comforting. But he could see by the fire in the detective's eyes that it wasn't going to be easy keeping him at bay. Lestrade gave Sherlock one more pat on the shoulder before being pulled away by another officer.

John guided Sherlock over to wait by one of the ambulances. He reluctantly followed and leaned on the vehicle while watching all that was going on around him. He saw some officers getting into gear so that they could go into the building. He kept looking at the hospital, and thinking about how large it was. There were only a few logical places that Molly could be, and all they had to do was go there. Just go to those places, find her, and get her out.

He and John stood there silently watching what was going on for the next ten minutes. It felt like ten hours to Sherlock as he watched Lestrade like a hawk, trying to see if anything new was happening.

"I can't just stand here, John. I can't stand out here when I could be doing something in there!" He gestured to the building.

"There's nothing you can do, Sherlock, they have to go through the building the proper way. If you go running in there, you could get people killed! Including yourself!"

"She could get killed John!" he hissed in reply.

John could only look back at him silently. He knew what Sherlock was thinking. If he was right about Sherlock, and what he felt for Molly, it was the very same thing that he'd be thinking himself if it was Mary inside that building. And he knew there would be little he could do to hold the man back if much more time passed.

Suddenly Sherlock got a text alert and quickly pulled out his phone to check. He looked at the screen and John watched as his face went white.

"John...look." He held his mobile out for him to read the text on the screen.

OH, SHERLOCK...STILL SO BORING. ALWAYS ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS. IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF YOU WERE TO LOSE ONE OF THEM... *BANG* -JM

"My God..." John whispered, and turned back to Sherlock who looked almost like he'd just been shot himself.

Sherlock pulled the phone back in close to himself and began typing furiously.

"What are you doing?" John asked.

"I'm...playing the game," he said without looking up, and then hit send.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO? TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT? -SH

A moment later, a reply came in.

IT'S SO SIMPLE, SHERLOCK! IT'S ALWAYS SO SIMPLY, AND YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE IT...ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS ANSWER MY QUESTION. BYE! -JM

Sherlock frowned at the screen. "Question...what question?! He hasn't asked me any question!"

WHAT QUESTION? -SH

A minute went by. Two minutes went by as Sherlock stared at the screen.

"What's going on? This doesn't make any sense! This isn't how it works!" Sherlock hissed at his mobile screen as he sent the message again.

"He's playing with you, Sherlock. Who knows if he even wants you to answer anything! He might just be trying to drive you mad!"

Sherlock mouthed words to himself as he sent off multiple texts.

"What question?...Ask me anything!...Tell me what you want! Please!" Sherlock was breathing heavily and barely registered John's telling him to try and calm down. Finally he lowered his arm and stuck his mobile into his pocket again.

"Enough of this! I'm done waiting!" he growled and marched over to Lestrade. "Lestrade!"

Greg turned and came over to Sherlock and John.

"They're making their way through the hospital, it shouldn't be long now," he said trying to offer some sort of encouragement.

"Not fast enough," Sherlock insisted. "You have to make them go to the lab and the morgue now!"

"Sherlock, it's not my division! I can't tell them what to do and they wouldn't listen to me if I did! I want Molly out too, but they have to do this the right way!" Lestrade's voice began to rise in his own frustration. He didn't like waiting either, but he was firmly trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Only John was aware of how the cameras began focusing in on Sherlock and the conversation in progress. He knew it would be the wrong time to tell these men to keep their voices down.

"I told Molly, I promised her, that I would do everything in my power to keep her safe! And I'm standing here doing nothing!" he yelled back.

Suddenly they heard the muffled sound of a couple gunshots from somewhere inside the building.

"That's it, I'm going in there." And somehow Sherlock was then holding a gun and checking it.

"Hey! When did you take that?!" John demanded, feeling his side and realizing it was his. He needed to start keeping his gun under lock and key at his side.

"You're not going in there, Sherlock! Do you hear me?!" Lestrade said in his most authoritative voice.

Sherlock leaned in closer to the Detective inspector. "If you'd like to stop me...you'll need to shoot me."

The two men were locked in a heated staring contest. And the truth was that Lestrade was a split second from telling him to go ahead in, and he'd make sure nobody tried to stop him. Not only because he knew Sherlock was deadly serious in his threat, but also because he wanted Molly out as badly as Sherlock and John did. He almost said it, but he didn't have time.

A split second after, they all heard something from directly behind Lestrade.

"Sherlock?" came the small familiar voice.

Lestrade saw Sherlock's expression twitch slightly, as if he weren't sure what he'd just heard. Lestrade didn't waste any time. He turned around, and there was Molly Hooper, standing there looking up at him with an orange blanket wrapped around her narrow shoulders. His shoulders slacked as he let out a sigh of relief and gave her arm a squeeze.

"Oh, are we glad to see you!" he breathed out, then glanced over his shoulder. "I'll uh...I'll leave you to it."

Lestrade stepped aside and went back over to his team. When he did, he opened the view from Sherlock to Molly. Sherlock stood there, immobile at first, staring down at the woman who stood alive and well in front of him now.

John very gingerly reached forward and retrieved the gun from Sherlock's hand that now hung at his side. It didn't take much effort since his grip had slacked considerably, and Sherlock didn't even react when it was removed. John put his gun safely back in its place and stepped aside, carefully watching. And again, he noted that the news cameras beyond the barrier were very much focused in their direction.

"Sherlock," Molly said again. She looked up at him and almost wondered if he'd registered her presence. The only indication she had was that he was looking directly at her. Other than that, he was like a marble statue. Only an occasional blink reminded her that he was real.

"I got out," she continued softly and slowly. "I heard the code about an hour ago in the morgue, and I knew we were locked down. But after a while, nobody came, and all I could think of was how you told me that the most important thing was to get away. I just figured I needed to get away...so I did. I pulled a bench over and climbed out the window in the women's lock-"

And she cut off the word in her own mouth, feeling herself freeze up now as well. Sherlock had taken a quick step forward so that he was in reach and his hand had darted out, coming to rest on the side of her face, cradling her cheek. Molly felt like she couldn't breathe at first, but then quickly realized she was much closer to hyperventilating. His thumb moved ever so slightly on the skin of her face and his other fingers moved a bit in the hair line behind her ears.

Molly realized that she must have been functioning on adrenaline alone up till then, because something snapped when Sherlock reached out and touched her face like that. She felt her whole body let go, and everything just...slowed down. It wasn't just the delayed fear for her life, or the idea that she'd just done something rather difficult and brave. It was also the way Sherlock was looking at her. She saw all that fear in his eyes too, and all the relief, so intense that it shocked her. She'd never say that he didn't care, but the height of emotion that she saw in that moment was more than surprising. It was overwhelming.

Sherlock pressed his eyes closed and let out a breath that it seemed he'd been holding in for longer than was humanly possible. Molly began to feel pressure rising in her chest and felt her eyes cloud as she tried to control her breaths that were coming in harder and harder so that it hurt. The vision of him standing there became a blur for Molly as her eyes filled to the brim and overflowed. She couldn't stop the emotions from literally pouring out, and the tears began to shake her small body a bit as they flowed freely. And the only thing she could do was to stand there and let it happen.

And then, as quickly as his hand had darted out a moment before, Sherlock actually stepped further forward and leaned down, wrapping both arms clear around her torso. Once he had done that, he stood straight back up, causing Molly's feet to completely leave the ground. The orange blanket fell from her shoulders and pooled on the ground. And once Molly registered what was actually happening, she instantly responded in kind by wrapping her arms around his neck. She buried her face into his neck, and that was when she felt her breathing slow again and the tears finally begin to dry.

John Watson stood there with his jaw dragging on the ground. He shook his head slowly in disbelief and had to bring his hand up and cover his mouth to contain the shock of the scene before him. Very few of the camera men were focusing on the fact that the shooter had now been found and was being led out of the building and into police custody. Most of them cared about nothing except for the two people silently clinging to each other on the other side of the barrier. He watched as the flashes of cameras filled the air around them. But despite the excitement, there was what could only be described as a respectful hush that had come over the crowd.

There stood the famous detective in his long Belstaff, holding tightly onto the little pathologist in her white lab coat. Her feet continued to dangle some inches above the ground as he held her in place. Neither of their faces were clearly visible, as they were both pressed into the other's neck, not that it even mattered. Faces clear or not, it wasn't exactly a mystery as to what they were feeling in that moment.

It took a full minute or two for anyone to move. But finally a couple officers came over and gently encouraged Sherlock to come with them. He silently set Molly down, but kept an arm firmly and protectively around her shoulder as they walked off to Lestrade's police car and got in. John followed behind them and got in, sitting on the other side of Molly. And then they drove quickly away from the scene.


Sherlock had rarely ever experienced such an overwhelming sense of relief and happiness at the sight of Molly Hooper alive and well standing in front of him. It almost completely erased the feelings of fear and failure from only minutes before. He felt like he could breathe again. And temporarily, he wasn't afraid anymore. But that didn't last forever.

It wasn't till Molly was taken home safely to her flat, John had gone home to Mary, and Sherlock had arrived back at Baker Street, that he even thought to look at his mobile again. And his heart sunk when he saw the unread message that had been waiting for him since about five minutes after Molly had shown up outside Bart's...

YOU SEE SHERLOCK? THAT WASN'T SO HARD WAS IT?...THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING MY QUESTION. -JM

Chapter Text

Molly crashed inelegantly onto her bed. Her hair was still wet and it was about to soak her pillow, but she was too wrecked to care. She'd taken an incredibly long soak in the tub and alternated between almost falling asleep, and aggressively thinking about the day she'd just had.

Toby jumped up and began purring and kneading the edge of the fluffy bath robe his owner was wearing. Molly absentmindedly scratched the cat's head as she stayed perched on the edge of sleep and thought...Sherlock had hugged her.

Sherlock Holmes had hugged her, or more like, held her. It was so bizarre. In a way, almost more so than the kiss at the pub, for a number of reasons. First of all, it was one hundred percent genuine. There were no ulterior motives. He was simply happy that she was alive and safe. And second, despite the fact that the kiss could easily be called more sexual, a hug like that was so...intimate. It was honest, and vulnerable, and warm. So it was even more surprising than that kiss. Sherlock doesn't do things like that...didn't do things like that. At least, Molly had never seen such a thing before.

He'd actually said very little afterward. They'd walked away and gotten into Lestrade's car and driven straight to her flat. Sherlock had said nothing during the entire ride. Lestrade asked her a few questions, and so did John. And it was John who actually explained that Sherlock had gotten a couple text messages from Moriarty, proving that this was indeed his handy work. This had of course been Molly's fear when she'd heard the hospital go into lock down. Sherlock continued to stay mute, and she almost asked him multiple times if he was all right. But she thought it would be a pointless question. She knew that he wasn't, and she also knew that he'd say he was fine. So Molly let him have his silence.

When they'd gotten to Molly's flat though, he seemed to come to life. He didn't really ask, more like told her to give him her keys. He opened her door and went in, immediately marching through the small flat and clearly examining all the rooms. Poor Toby had begun racing around in a panic. Sherlock checked the whole flat, probably twice over, and she saw the looks that John and Lestrade were exchanging. Finally, John spoke up, asking if she felt all right to be alone or not. She assured him that yes, she was fine.

When John had asked Molly that question, Sherlock had been meticulously checking the locks on her window. Lestrade looked at John and made a sort of nod toward the detective.

"Sherlock?" John began cautiously. "We should probably let Molly get some rest."

He stepped back and took another glance around the room with hands perched on his hips. "Yes. Right...she should be fine here."

"Yes, I'm fine," Molly echoed, and when he looked at her she'd given him a small smile of assurance.

Sherlock examined her face for a moment before giving a quick nod of acceptance and slowly making his way to the the door. But he still seemed hesitant to leave. He vacillated a couple times as the other men had already gone through the door. The relief she'd seen outside the hospital was still there, in a way. But now there was some fear again as he prepared to leave her.

"Sherlock?" she said, making him turn again. "Thanks."

He frowned slightly. "I didn't do anything, Molly. You did everything."

"Well, I suppose I mean...thank you for what you were about to do." She smiled again.

Sherlock nodded. "You're welcome."

He drew a breath and seemed to make the decision to leave quickly. He turned and walked away without another word, practically flying down the stairs after the other two men. Molly shut her door and locked it. And that, she'd immediately begun shedding clothes as she made her way to the tub.

So there she lay on her bed, an hour and a half and multiple refillings of the tub later, nice and clean and refreshed...and completely thrown for a loop. It was only just getting dark, but Molly knew she wouldn't be leaving her bed again till the next day. She figured there was no point in fighting it. She deserved a nice early night. She didn't even bother getting dressed. She simply rolled over and switched her light off. Molly curled up in her bed and tried to close her eyes. She lifted her head and then laid it back down so that her cheek rested on her palm.

And her cheek resting on her own small palm felt so sickeningly inadequate. So pathetic compared to the hand that had cradled her cheek, or more accurately her entire head, some hours before. She shivered a little bit and pulled the covers up closer, then she tossed and turned for the next twenty minutes. After a while she sat up and sighed. She looked at Toby who was staring lazily up at her.

"Don't you dare tell anyone," she whispered to the animal, and he opened his mouth very slightly in the typical fashion of a cat's silent meow.

Molly took her mobile from off the night stand. She snuggled back down into her blankets and whispered to herself as she opened up twitter, "Don't fail me now social media."

And of course, social media didn't fail her. She proceeded to search #sherlolly and got exactly what she was hoping for. There were almost infinite shots of herself and Sherlock. She felt warm again as she examined all the pictures of Sherlock as he reached out and touched her face. And she felt herself relax at the images of Sherlock holding her off the ground and firmly against him. She watched a short video clip about ten times over. And soon, she felt her eyes drooping.

Calmed and comforted by the memories of the strange and wonderful Sherlock that she'd met earlier today, Molly finally closed her eyes and fell asleep.


"The story was taken down." Mary said shaking her head and staring at her tablet as John puttered around their kitchen. "Course, I knew enough to print it yesterday...but the fact that it's gone now just shows me even more that it was suspicious."

"Yeah, I'd say there's little or no doubt that story came from Moriarty. And even if the story wasn't from him, the shooting certainly was. We know that. Thank God nobody was killed. A couple injuries. Could have been so much worse." John stopped in his tracks and set the coffee pot down. He looked at Mary.

"Mary, I've never seen him that afraid," he said seriously.

"Yeah, I know," she answered just as seriously.

"I've also never seen him that relieved...and, you know, affectionate. I mean, that was something," he said shaking his head a little.

"I know, I saw it live too. It was amazing...scary at first, of course. But also amazing. That hug! Wow! When this is gone," she said pointing to her belly. "I think you should hug me like that."

John let out a chuckle. "Yeah...you do remember that I'm not exactly tall enough to create the same effect?"

Mary shrugged. "You can stand on a stool."

John shook his head and sighed. "Brilliant. I never thought the day would come when my romance skills would be compared to Sherlock's!"

"Why not?" she asked in mock innocence. "Maybe you could learn something."

"I do not take romance lessons from Sherlock Holmes."

"Oh! Another tee shirt!" Mary giggled.

John laughed as he came over to where Mary sat. He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her lips as she reached her face up to meet him.

"Try to take it easy today ok? No more moving things. Unless it's baby clothes," he whispered, hovering his face above his wife's.

"You going to Baker Street?"

"I am. I'm actually a bit worried about him. He seemed pretty lost yesterday, even after Molly was fine. It was hard to get him to leave her flat, though he'd probably never admit it."

"He'll figure it out...in his own time, and his own way. You know Sherlock. He doesn't do things like everyone else." Mary reached up again to grab another kiss.

John smiled against her mouth before standing up again. Just then he got a call from Lestrade, which make his pulse speed up, given the events of yesterday. He put the call on speaker, feeling the instinct to include Mary in whatever was going on.

"Hi, Greg. Everything ok?"

"I think so, yeah. I just wanted to pass on something to Sherlock. So, we were transferring the gunman yesterday, and he was shot. He'd dead."

"Oh God, really? Who did it?"

"We don't know. We searched all the areas around the station. All the buildings where a sniper could have been hiding out. We didn't find anything, so we've got almost nothing solid to go on. But I'd say it takes less than three guesses to know who's behind it."

"Right...well I'll tell Sherlock. I was just about to head over there now. Thanks for the call, Greg. I'm sure Sherlock will be available later. And I'll tell him to call if he's got any input."

"Thanks, John. I'll be in touch too."

The men hung up and John sighed as he looked at Mary.

"Looks like Moriarty is cleaning up his tracks," she said.

"Looks like it. I'll keep you posted, ok? I'll call you later." He gave Mary's hand a brief squeeze before turning to go.

Mary watched him leave the flat. Then she patted her belly, took a sip of tea, and went back to the tablet in her hands.


Sherlock hadn't slept at all that night. It was morning now and he was still awake. He hadn't even attempted to go to bed, not after he saw the final text from Moriarty.

He thought about replying; trying to say something that would fix the mess he'd made. But what exactly could he say? He knew there was nothing that he could say that would speak louder than the silent words he knew he'd uttered outside Bart's hospital. He was disappointed in himself that he hadn't seen exactly what Moriarty was trying to do, because it was simple. It was so simple, and he couldn't see it...just like Moriarty had said. All Moriarty had wanted was the truth. Not the tabloid articles, or the fan fiction, or the fan art. Just the truth.

The truth...Sherlock got up from his chair and began pacing. There had been a lot of pacing all that night. Lots of pacing, and violin playing, and thinking, and...more pacing. He walked back and forth slowly with his hands clasped behind him.

He had showered, but kept trousers and a shirt on. He told himself that he knew he wouldn't be sleeping that night, and so there was no need to change into sleep clothes. But, if he was honest, there was also the fact that he wanted to be able to rush out the door if his mobile made even the slightest peep. He kept expecting it. Even though he knew now that Moriarty's intent had never been to hurt Molly, the fear had been real. And he never wanted to feel it again.

It was that fear that was troubling him most of all. He'd felt something similar before, actually. He felt that same sort of panic when John had been trapped in a bonfire. That feeling of being willing to do just about anything to make it stop...but there was a difference. In those moments of fear, like any human being, he'd been flooded with memories. In both cases, they were memories of the things that he was terrified he'd never have again. When he thought John might burn to death, he was worried that he'd never hear the amazement in his friend's voice after he figured out a case. He was worried he'd never get those small reminders from time to time about what was and wasn't socially appropriate. And he was afraid he would never have that assurance of acceptance and support...even when he wasn't completely socially appropriate.

Those were not the sort of things that he was really terrified to lose when he thought he might lose Molly. Yes, there were some of those things too, of course. The unwavering friendship and loyalty, but that wasn't really what made him feel sick to his stomach in the darkest moments of the previous day. It was the memory of kissing her. It was the memory of how small she felt when he wrapped his arms around her. It was the (surprising) thrill of seeing her pupils dilate when he held eye contact with her for at least five seconds straight...it rarely took longer than that.

You don't fear losing things that you don't want in your life. Being afraid of losing those things about Molly could logically mean only one thing...

Sherlock suddenly did a double take and emerged from the deep thought he was in to see John sitting on the couch and turning the telly on.

"Oh...didn't realize you were here," Sherlock said, sticking his hands in his pockets and eyeing John suspiciously.

John smiled in surprise. "Should I be insulted? You used to assume I was here all the time and be unaware of when I'd leave."

Sherlock didn't engage in the little joke. "How long have you been here?" he asked as he strolled over to the window.

"About a half hour. You seemed to be pretty busy. With, you know, thinking and...pacing," he said pointedly as he stared at Sherlock's back.

"Mm," Sherlock hummed.

"So, Lestrade called me...the shooter is dead. Did you already see the news?"

Sherlock barely turned around. "Not surprising. Moriarty does tend to tie up loose ends. He already got what he wanted...now he wouldn't want anything tying him to the crime."

Sherlock then left the window and walked over to where John was watching some news about the incident from the day before. The coverage was mostly focused on the fact that the gunman was now dead, and they had no suspects. But of course they also talked about other things.

"London's favorite detective Sherlock Holmes was present at the scene of the crime as well, and was noticeable distraught at the idea that Doctor Molly Hooper was still inside the hospital and unaccounted for. Let's take a look..."

The scene switched to the footage of Sherlock loudly demanding to be let into the hospital so that he could find Molly.

"I told Molly, I promised her that I would do everything in my power to keep her safe! And I'm standing here doing nothing!...That's it, I'm going in there."

Sherlock stiffened at the footage on the screen. The news woman then went on.

"It was a truly touching scene when Dr. Hooper was finally seen outside the hospital. We were given a rare look at some raw emotion from the usually serious detective."

They went back to some video footage, and Sherlock felt like someone had just squeezed the air from his lungs when he saw his own hand come to rest on Molly's cheek. From where the camera had been, he could just barely make out the moment when Molly started to tear up...Sherlock took three quick strides over to the telly and shut it off.

He cleared his throat as he walked back over to the window. "We were both there. I hardly think this is news to us," he said quickly.

John tried to cover up his smile. "Right, sure. No need to relive it. So, how are you?"

"I'm fine."

"Anything else from Moriarty?"

Sherlock hesitated. "Just...one text."

"Really? You didn't say anything! So, what did he say?" John asked, sitting forward on the couch.

"He...he thanked me," Sherlock said quietly. Then he turned and looked at John. "He thanked me for answering his question."

John frowned in thought, then his eyes widened a bit and Sherlock saw that the wheels were turning. Just as John was about to pursue this topic further, they both turned at the sound of a knock on the door.

"It's my brother," Sherlock uttered with a sigh, as he made his way to the door. "Mycroft, hello. Come to do damage control again?"

Mycroft walked in past his brother and gave a small nod of hello to John.

"Actually I've come to make you aware of a small problem. I realize that this is not the best timing, but I regret to inform you that I no longer have the extra man power available to keep a close eye on Doctor Hooper."

Sherlock's expression changed instantly. "What?"

"Well, that is, not after tomorrow. A foreign dignitary will be arriving, and I simply cannot spare the needed security. It'll be for at least a week, perhaps two." Mycroft stated, in his typical business like way.

Sherlock looked back and forth between his brother and friend for a moment, before collecting words together.

"You- you can't do that right now, Mycroft. I can't have anything but the highest security on her right now. You saw what happened yesterday! And I don't think I need to explain to you why it happened. You are the smart one, after all!"

Mycroft straightened up and looked slightly uncomfortable. "Yes, I realize the difficulty, Sherlock. And I'm sorry, I truly am. But there's nothing I can do. I'm telling you about it so that you can perhaps make alternate arrangements."

"Alternate arrangements?!" he repeated, raising his voice. "And what would that be? My homeless network is useful for information. That doesn't mean they could save someone's life if need be!"

"Sherlock, we'll figure something out," John said, getting up and trying to diffuse the situation.

Sherlock turned and took a few steps around the room as he rested his hands on his hips.

"Look, I'm actually rather busy, so I'll be needing to get back to work. But I took the time to come and inform you personally. Again, I'm sorry," Mycroft said, feeling the need to leave before he had to endure any more of his brother's mood.

"Thanks for coming, Mycroft," John said, knowing Sherlock wouldn't.

Mycroft nodded, and left quickly.

Sherlock sat down heavily in his chair and placed his fingers against his lips. John stood by, watching him in silence for a few moments before he spoke.

"Are you going to tell her?"

"I'll have to...though she was never really aware that she had any sort of security in the first place."

"Any...ideas?" John asked slowly. "I mean for while Mycroft's team is unavailable."

Sherlock didn't answer. He just stared straight ahead.

John actually had an idea. He was confused in fact, that the brilliant detective was so very blown away by this problem. The solution seemed screamingly obvious. He hesitated to bring it up for that reason. It had to be that Sherlock had already thought of this plan and dismissed it for some reason that John couldn't comprehend. But at the risk of sounding like an idiot, he figured he had to voice his thought.

"Well...why not just have her stay here for a while?"

At that, Sherlock almost literally leapt up from his chair and began walking around again.

"No. No, that wouldn't work," he said immediately, and ran a hand aggressively through his dark curls.

John stood in place, but tried his best to keep up visually with the pace of Sherlock's walking about the room.

"Well, I can't see why that-"

"It's not possibly, John, that wouldn't be for the best," he quickly cut his friend off. Then he halted in his track and pointed at John with wide eyes. "You and Mary! What if Molly stayed with you and Mary?"

John frowned at him and shook his head as he began to answer. "Uh, Sherlock, you know I care about Molly and I want her to be safe...but I'd think you wouldn't want to put the three people you're closest to, all together in one flat. Wouldn't that be like a neon sign for Moriarty? Besides the fact that the only spare room we have is furnished with a crib. Not really sure Molly would fit properly in that."

Sherlock stared back at John and then his gaze shifted back and forth, almost in some embarrassment. "Right...yes, right, of course." He continued pacing.

"Last I heard, my spare room upstairs is still-"

"Gabe!" Sherlock blurted out, stopping again.

"Sorry?" John asked, grimacing back at the man.

"Lestrade, I mean! Lestrade! What if Molly stayed with him?"

"Are you out of your- Sherlock, Lestrade's in a one bedroom flat! I don't even think he has a couch!" John said with a note of irritation growing in his voice.

"Fine...Stamford then! What about Mike Stamford?" Sherlock offered, sounding rather desperate.

"Mike Stamford?!" John practically yelled back, staring in disbelief at Sherlock. "What is the matter with you, Sherlock?! That makes no- Listen, she can't stay with Mike. Beyond all the obvious reasons why it's not appropriate, Mike's seeing someone right now. I doubt his girlfriend would appreciate that!"

"Well there's got to be someone else!" Sherlock bellowed back, waving his arms in frustration, before crashing down in his chair again.

"Why is this so complicated?!"

"Because it is!" he yelled back and got up again from his seat.

"What is it, hmm? Have you taken to storing bodies up in my old room, and you don't want to tell me?!"

"No! The room is fine, don't be ridiculous!"

"Who's being ridiculous here, Sherlock?! This makes no sense! There's nobody else that she'd be safer with, and there's nobody else who understands the situation better than you, and you actually have a bedroom for her!"

"Yes! I know!" he answered, the decibel level still rising.

"So then what is the problem?! Why in God's name don't you want her here?!"

Sherlock finally came to a full stop, and spun around to face his friend. "Because John! I'm in love with Molly!"

The whole room and the two men in it absolutely froze. John's previous expression melted off his face and was replaced by a look of absolute shock. Sherlock stared back at him as well. Eventually, he slowly straightened up again and looked down at his feet for a moment. When he looked back up at John, the expression was unchanged. It didn't matter what John had seen and heard over the past few weeks. There wasn't much that could have prepared him for the actual words that just left Sherlock's mouth.

"Yeah uh...can we just- mm..." John cut his words off and pursed his lips as he tried to formulate an actual response. "Sorry, I wasn't really...didn't really see that one coming...strangely enough."

Sherlock nodded slowly, and took a seat again as he let out a heavy sigh. John came over and sat across from him and leaned forward, waiting for him to say something. After a few moments of silence, John spoke again.

"So...when uh, or rather, how long exactly?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Who knows? Your guess is as good as mine," he answered quietly, sounding a bit defeated.

"But I'm guessing you sort of, just realized it. Like maybe...yesterday?" John questioned.

Sherlock leaned his elbows on his knees and rested his chin on his fingertips. He didn't verbally answer the question, but went on to continue on with the topic that had been in progress before.

"I need to make sure that Molly is carefully looked after. But I'm afraid to make the situation worse by bringing her here," he said softly, having relaxed a bit.

"Ok, so bear with me...but how exactly does that make the situation worse?"

Sherlock sighed again. "Think about it John. Moriarty already knows that I..." He looked sad as he paused before continuing. "He knows. There's nothing I can do about that. No more than I could ever convince him that you aren't my best friend, or that Lestrade and I aren't friends, or that Mrs. Hudson isn't like a second mother to me. He knows conclusively now, how I feel about Molly, and I very much doubt that anything I do can change that. But...that doesn't mean that Molly has to be with me."

"So, you're telling me that you're basically trying to avoid...a relationship?"

"Exactly," he said with a nod. "It's safer if we're not together."

John let out a brief rueful chuckle and then looked back at Sherlock. "You're planning to keep this from her, aren't you?"

Sherlock stared back at him in silence.

John leaned back in the chair for a split second, then flew forward again to look at his friend closely. "Sherlock...she wants to be with you," he said firmly.

"That's what I'm fairly certain of," Sherlock stated matter-of-factly.

John raised his eyebrows. "Right, so...your master plan is to keep your feelings from Molly for all eternity, in an effort to prevent a relationship from starting. Have I got that right?"

Sherlock cocked his head and lifted his eyes in thought for a second. "All of eternity may be an exaggeration..."

"You know what I mean Sherlock! You're taking this decision from her. I know you think you're protecting her and doing the right thing, but this really shouldn't be your decision alone. She's a grown woman, and she has the right to decide whether or not she wants to be in a relationship with a brilliant git of a detective who happens to have a psychopathic criminal at his heels all the time." John raised his palms in the air briefly, unapologetic for his argument.

Sherlock gave a half smile briefly, but then looked at John seriously again. "John, please understand. All I know is that I don't want anything to happen to Molly. And the best way I can do that right now is to avoid making anything official. Even though Moriarty knows how much Molly means to me, that doesn't mean he believes we are together. He's not stupid enough to believe everything that the internet and tabloids circulate. If he were, he wouldn't have felt the need to test me the way he did yesterday. He knows we're not together...and I'd like for it to stay that way."

John shook his head slowly as he stared back at Sherlock. Finally John let out a resigned sigh.

"Fine...ok fine, I'll go along with it. For now!" he said pointing a warning finger at his friend. "This cannot be off the table completely, Sherlock. You can't expect me to support this forever. You'll have to put up with occasional...input from me."

Sherlock nodded. "I consider myself warned." He gave a small smile, then he clapped his hands together and drew a breath.

"Now, back to the matter at hand. You are sadly correct John. The only logical and safe place for Molly is right here. I'll need you in my corner, because frankly, I've never found myself in a situation quite like this. I'll need to be careful of how I conduct myself if living under the same roof with her, in order to ensure that the status of our relationship doesn't change."

He spoke as if he were looking to get directions to somewhere across town. John tried, but he couldn't stop the smile from spreading, and a little bit of laughter from escaping.

Sherlock frowned. "What? John, this is serious!"

"Oh yeah, mm right." He tried to control his face and he cleared his throat. "Very serious, yes...and I will be, as you said, in your corner."

"Excellent. Thank you John," he said, beginning to look a little uncomfortable.

There was a moment of silence before Sherlock added.

"So I'll need to speak to Molly and explain the situation. I'm sure she'll be willing to take this precaution. She understands that we need to be careful."

"Right...well let me know how that goes."

"I will."

More silence between the two men. Then John spoke up.

"Sherlock, I have just one request in this whole...crazy, ridiculous situation."

"Yes, John, what's that?"

"Please, do not ask me to keep this from Mary."

Sherlock frowned back at John. "Why is that? Would you be that bothered at keeping this from her?"

"No," John said as he shook his head. Then he smirked back at Sherlock as he added,

"It's because I'd absolutely tell her anyway."

Chapter Text

John went home soon after. Sherlock told him that he needed to get things sorted out. His first order of business was to pay a little visit to Mrs. Hudson. She needed to be aware of the probable new flat mate that he would be temporarily having.

"Mrs. Hudson," he began with a winning grin. "A small favor to ask of you."

"What is it dear?" she asked as she stepped outside her doorway to speak with him.

"I'll need to move Molly Hooper into 221B for a while. A week or two, mostly likely. I'm having a difficult time keeping her as closely watched and safe as I'd like. She'd be safest here. That's not a problem, is it?"

"No," Mrs. Hudson said with a chuckle and a shake of her head. "Just you keep in mind that my bedroom is right below yours. You may be a detective, but I happen to believe some things should remain a mystery!"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Mrs. Hudson, I did in fact mean that Molly would be staying in John's old room."

She giggled a little and gave him a pat on the cheek, and winked at him. "Whatever you say, Sherlock! So when would she be staying?"

"As soon as possible, I'd say. If I can get her here today after her shift, that would be ideal."

"Oh well then, I'll freshen up John's room then. Clean linens and perhaps a bit of dusting...if you're sure she'll need the room, that is."

"Yes, Mrs. Hudson," he said with a sigh, as he backed away slowly from the conversation. "I'm very sure she'll be needing the room."

As Sherlock walked away and out the front door, he muttered to himself, "I'll be needing her to have that room."


Sherlock got a cab to take him to Bart's and relaxed in the back seat. He needed the time to think a bit. Lots had just happened, and he still didn't feel it had been properly sorted. He'd barely got through cataloguing the events with Molly up till yesterday. And then it was like someone had taken all the Molly files in his head and tipped them over, jumbling them all again. Not to say that all of it was unpleasant...

Had he hated the natural chemical high of clutching her body against his own? Not...in the least.

But he was trying not to allow his mind to wander down that path. He'd admitted he was in love with Molly, yes. But he was trying to view it in an almost scientific way. It was simply a...fact. A fact that couldn't be denied any longer. But that didn't mean that anything had to be different. When he scanned the recent memories of time spent with Molly, the only times when his mental faculties were compromised was when she was in possible danger, or when she was physically very close to him. So he figured that if he avoided those two things, it should be rather easy to keep things from getting out of hand.

Granted, this would be a bit more of a challenge if she was living in the same flat with him, but still. He felt very sure that he could manage to keep her at arm's length...literally. Molly wasn't pushy or clingy, so that helped. She did tend to follow his lead most of the time. If he didn't make it a point to get cozy with her while at Baker Street, he felt sure that she would play right along.

He didn't allow himself to think about the future. Not the week or two after she'd left his flat, or the next month, or the next year. Not even, what if Moriarty was gone? Well...perhaps that thought did cross his mind. But the Molly related questions that thought led to were something he wouldn't ponder over. He didn't know what he wanted, not really. He only knew two things. He loved Molly, and he wanted her safe.

As the cab came to a halt outside of Bart's, he reminded himself of the importance to keep any softer emotions to himself. He wasn't absolutely certain that Molly was still in love with him. But it seemed clear that there still existed a strong attraction. And he was certain that if he were to let his feelings show, Molly would more than meet him halfway. It seemed that the key to stopping any progress between them, was to make her continue to believe that he viewed her as nothing more than a friend. It he accomplished that effectively enough, he thought there was even a solid possibility that she'd move on one day (in a healthy way this time) and end up with someone else, possibly removing the figurative target on her back.

As he entered Bart's, he tried to ignore the dull pain that radiated through his chest as he imagined Molly truly moving on.

He guessed, correctly, that she'd be in the lab writing reports right about now. Chances were good that the gunman's body had to be dealt with in the morgue today. Unlikely that they would give her that job.

Sherlock saw the shiny brown pony tail and the back of her lab coat as he stood at the door of the lab. She was busily looking at notations and transferring them to the report on the computer. He took a deep breath and walked in, making her turn instantly.

"Oh, hi," she said with a smile.

"Morning, Molly. Everything...all right today?"

She shrugged. "No shootings today, so that's a big improvement."

Sherlock smiled briefly.

"What about you? Anything more on Moriarty?" she asked.

Sherlock was not going to detail the entire exchange with the consulting criminal.

"Not since yesterday. He made his involvement clear enough. There hasn't been anything else since then. I'd like to think he's done with us now, but..."

"He might not be?"

Sherlock nodded. "Actually, that's why I'd come to see you today. There's been a...development. And it seems that you're going to be at a slightly greater risk for a while."

Molly stopped what she was doing and stood up straighter as she frowned slightly. "What, you mean...other than what happened yesterday?"

"The events of yesterday would make this a greater concern. But yes, it's something you're not aware of yet."

"I'm listening," she said softly.

Sherlock strolled over to lean his palms against the other side of the table from her. "I must start by confessing that I've had a rather high level of government surveillance on you for the past few weeks."

There was a moment of silence as she stared at him, then slowly opened her mouth.

"Government surveillance?"

"Yes. Well, I suppose I didn't do it myself. But it was at my request. My brother's connections can be useful on occasion." He gave another small smile.

"W-when did you do that?"

"It was right after I felt certain of Moriarty's interest in our relationship status. After the night I broke into you window...I mean the most recent time," he clarified, realizing that there were countless times in their history that he'd taken such a liberty.

"Oh," she said very quietly. And for a second, Sherlock was afraid she found this insulting or intrusive. But then she went on. "That was...very sweet of you, Sherlock. Thanks."

Sherlock cleared his throat and broke eye contact for a moment, just to clear his head.

"It's, nothing. You're welcome...but anyway, the point is that the surveillance is going to be temporarily unavailable, starting tomorrow."

"Oh. So, what do we do?"

"Well, that brings me to why I'm really here. I have a suggestion...I think that it would make sense for you to stay at Baker Street."

Sherlock realized that his palms were becoming sweaty, and his pulse had massively accelerated. This was a terribly uncomfortable sensation. There was no reason for nerves like this. This was the proposition of a safety precaution, nothing more. But it didn't help that Molly's cheeks colored slightly, almost right away.

"Stay at Baker Street? With you?" she questioned, eyeing him in confusion.

"Well, yes. Only for a week or two. There's a visiting foreign dignitary, and that's tying up all my brother's available security. Once this visitor is gone, I'm sure my brother will be willing to assist us again."

Molly looked at her hands on the table for a moment.

"I do have a spare bedroom of course," he added. Molly didn't directly respond to that statement.

"So, you do think that the shooter yesterday was...about me?"

Sherlock didn't want to scare her, or give away too much of what Moriarty had deduced about him. But at the same time, he knew that without this piece of information, Molly may not understand the seriousness of the situation.

"I- I don't think, Molly...I know it was about you. Moriarty himself made it more than clear to me. I don't know that he intended for any harm to come to you yesterday, but I do know he's willing to take things pretty far in order to...get to me. And it makes me question what he'd do next."

Molly considered this. She didn't want her life to be in danger, of course. But that didn't mean she had no concerns.

"But, what about the danger of my living with you? Won't that make people think we're...you know," she offered with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, it may raise suspicion among the media and public. But my concern doesn't lie primarily with them. Your being with me might make you a target for tabloid gossip, but not a target for physical harm. Moriarty, on the other hand, isn't so harmless."

"But what would he think of me living with you?"

"Moriarty is clever. He's like me. He doesn't take things at face value. He knows now that you're my friend, and that I care for your safety. So while the city in general may believe that I've moved you into Baker Street as my girlfriend, Moriarty would undoubtedly understand that I'm doing it to protect you. Believe me, he does his research."

Molly paused again. She was afraid of Moriarty. She'd never even try to deny that. She felt safer the closer she was to Sherlock. And she'd never bother to deny that either. Knowing what Sherlock had just shared with her, there was no point in denying the fact that she'd feel safest for the time being, if she was as close to Sherlock Holmes as possible.

"Um, ok. I think that's a...good idea then. Me staying with you," she said with a small nod of approval.

Sherlock had the sudden urge to smile rather widely, but he controlled it.

"Good...right, so you are done with your shift at five today, correct?"

"Yes, that's right."

"So I suppose I'll expect you at Baker Street this evening then." He took a step back from the table, looking like he was ready to make an exit.

"Oh, wait, Sherlock. Um, there's one more thing...I can bring Toby, right?" she asked nervously.

Sherlock hesitated since he hadn't thought about that, not that it was such a big problem.

"I suppose that would be fine. Yes, you can bring him."

"Oh good, thanks," she said, breathing a sigh of relief. "Ok, I'll see you later then."

"Right." Sherlock gave her a small smile.

Don't linger he reminded himself. So he turned and left the lab then with quick strides.

Molly was left standing there frozen in place. She finally lifted her arm and took a look at the watch on her wrist. It was close to eleven in the morning. So that was a countdown of about six hours, she thought, with a mixture of fear and anticipation.

Six hours till she had to go home, and pack up for her stay at 221B Baker Street.


Surprisingly enough, there were no tabloid reporters on Baker Street when Molly's cab came to a stop. She struggled with the couple of bags that she had, and then the cat carrier as well. The cabbie waited till she'd gotten all items out and up to the front door. She used the knocker, and didn't have to wait long before Mrs. Hudson opened the door.

"Oh, Molly, how lovely!" she said grinning. "Come in, dear. I'll just get Sherlock to help you with all this."

"Oh thanks, Mrs. Hudson," Molly said somewhat shyly as she pulled the bags past the entry so the door could be closed. She bent down to stick her fingers through the holes in the cat carrier and speak consolingly to poor Toby who was bitterly complaining about the confinement and the cab ride.

Sherlock came quickly down the steps, looking discouragingly attractive in his trousers and white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He paused and frowned down at the cat carrier.

"What's the matter with him?" he questioned at the sound of the yowling.

"He absolutely hates this thing! It terrifies him. Well, so does riding in any sort of vehicle. He'll be a wreck for a few hours at least," she said sympathetically.

"Hm, cats," Sherlock huffed in disdain. Red Beard had loved going anywhere, as long as he was with his master. Then he turned his attention to the bags and picked up the two suitcases. "I'll take these if you can manage with Toby."

"Yes, that's fine. Thanks." Molly followed Sherlock up the stairs. He passed the main door to his flat and kept going around the corner and up the next set of stairs.

"I was surprised at no reporters outside," Molly commented as they got to the door of John's old room.

"Yes, well Wiggins assisted me in making sure your arrival wouldn't be too bothersome. If you have enough people helping, you can easily restrict access to a section of street," he said proudly. "I can't imagine nobody will notice you staying here in the next week or so, but at least you didn't have to fight with cameras while carting bags and a cat from a cab."

"Yes, I'm glad of that!"

Sherlock opened the door and went in to set her two bags down. Molly looked around and felt a little more at ease. The room was small, but it was light and cozy. The little twin bed had been freshly made, it seemed. And there was a small desk and chair near the window. She smiled at Sherlock.

"This is nice."

"Yes, I suppose so. John never complained. I never really came up here much," he said glancing around.

"Oh, is that why there's no body parts and chemicals?" she smiled teasingly.

"Most likely." He shrugged with a half smile.

Toby continued to protest loudly.

"Oh, Toby, it's alright little man. Do you want to come out? Sherlock, can you shut the door so I can let him out?"

"Oh, um, I'll just go downstairs actually. You get...settled," he said making his way out of the room. "You can come down whenever you'd like, of course, and make yourself comfortable."

"Ok thanks," she smiled. "I'll be down in a bit then."

Sherlock nodded before exiting the room and shutting the door. As he descended the stairs, he got a text message. He saw that is was from Mary. He rolled his eyes before he even opened it.

HI SHERLOCK...HOW'S YOUR DAY GOING? -MW

He chuckled to himself. Clearly she'd spoken to John already. If that wasn't the most obvious fishing for information text, in the history of texts...and he felt like making her suffer a bit.

I'M FINE...HOW'S YOUR DAY GOING MRS. WATSON? -SH

I THINK IT'S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO DO MY JOB IF I'M NOT BEING PROPERLY, AND FREQUENTLY, INFORMED. -MW

WHAT EXACTLY WOULD YOU LIKE INFORMATION ABOUT? -SH

Sherlock smiled smugly to himself as he took a seat in his chair and leaned back, relaxing.

SHERLOCK! -MW

IS THE DOCTOR'S WIFE BORED AGAIN? -SH

DO NOT MAKE ME WADDLE OVER THERE... -MW

Sherlock sighed to himself. May as well give her just a sliver of entertainment.

MOLLY IS HERE. SHE BROUGHT HER THINGS OVER AFTER HER SHIFT TODAY...HAPPY? -SH

ARE YOU? ;) -MW

DON'T PUSH IT...GOOD NIGHT MARY. -SH

Sherlock could practically hear her groan of frustration from across town, and he couldn't help but find it amusing. He stopped in his thoughts for a moment though, and glanced up at the ceiling as he heard the footsteps above.

It was strange to hear footsteps in that upstairs bedroom again. And they were different of course. Lighter and quieter. It felt nice, having someone nearby again. It was something he hadn't allowed himself to miss much. But now...he couldn't help but wish it would stay like this. And he wondered what it would be like to live with Molly Hooper. He knew her so well. But it was still hard to imagine what it would be like to come back to his flat and see her sitting on the couch, or making tea in the kitchen, or getting ready for work in the morning...and he realized that he wanted to see those things.

He sighed at himself in frustration. Another ridiculous part of love, he supposed. Boring daily tasks became suddenly appealing, if they were being done by that person. He actually wondered though, how he hadn't realized that he was in love with Molly before this point. Or, had he been in love with her before this? That was something he still hadn't worked out yet. When had this whole thing started? He had to admit to himself that there was the possibility of his having feelings for her long before he'd ever planted that infamous kiss on her little lips...

"Hi. Sorry, were you busy?" Molly's small voice interrupted his thought process as she poked her head in the doorway.

Sherlock jumped to sit up straighter and cleared his throat. "No, no problem. Not busy. You don't need to tip toe around here, Molly. You're staying here for now, so you can act like this is your home. God knows I've taken plenty of liberties with your flat over the years."

She laughed as she entered the room. "I suppose so. Does that mean I get to kick you out of your own room?"

"I'd like to see you try," he said raising an eyebrow. Then he frowned at himself inwardly. Was that inadvertent flirting? Not helpful...

Molly didn't seem to notice though, and she began to wander into the kitchen. "So, what if I make some tea? And I could make some food too, if you like. I feel like I owe you something if I'll be staying here."

"Don't be silly, it's fine. You don't need to do anything like that. Besides, I'm fairly certain I don't have anything in that kitchen right now that you could turn into a meal for a human being."

Molly opened the fridge, and was silent for a moment. Then she closed it again. "Um, yes, it appears that you're right. Well, what do you normally eat?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Sometimes dinner just...happens. But when it doesn't, I'll just order take away."

"Happens?" Molly frowned in question.

"Well, I can only deduce that it is made by Mrs. Hudson, but I don't suppose I have concrete evidence." He gave a small sarcastic smile.

"Well, maybe I'll make a few meals while I'm here. After I get actually food to cook with, that is. I suppose tonight I'm not all that hungry anyway."

"Neither am I."

There was a moment of silence between the two.

"But I could still make the tea," she jumped to offer.

"Yes, that would be fine," he said with a nod.

There were a few minutes of quiet as Molly puttered around the kitchen, getting the kettle going and getting the tea and cups. As she did, she saw the stack of a few newspapers on the edge of the table. She slid one around to glance at it. Good God she thought. The picture of Sherlock holding her up in a hug was on the front cover! It was along with the article about the hospital shooter, but still. It was pretty unbelievable...and to think, yesterday morning she'd felt a bit slighted when he wouldn't come in and observe autopsies just for fun.

She was lost in thought when the kettle started to whine. Molly got the tea ready and came over a minute later to sit down with her own cup, and hand Sherlock's to him.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

"So, what sort of food do you like?" Molly asked after taking a sip of her tea. "I don't really know, other than the places you like for take away. Most of the years I've known you, I see you when you're working. And that's not when you normally eat."

"I like...most foods," he said hesitantly. "I'm not sure what to suggest in particular though."

"Oh! I have an idea! We should look at my Pinterest recipes. I never use them even though I pin about a million things. You can look at what I saved and tell me if anything looks good," she said as she took out her mobile and began navigating around.

"What is this Pinterest? It seems like another black hole of wasted time, along with the world of Tumblr and Twitter," he scoffed.

"Well, maybe it is a bit like that...but it's also so useful! It's so much neater than having a bunch of cookbooks or pictures around. Here," she said, handing her mobile to him. "That's my recipe board. You can look through."

He took the phone and began scrolling through, but maintained a look of slight disdain...

A few minutes later though, he'd become much more animated in his searching.

"Molly, every recipe I look at has at least a couple dozen similar recipes below it. Are these things you have saved as well?"

She came over and crouched down beside his chair to look at her phone in his hands.

"Oh, no, those are just related pins. But if you see something you like, you could always save it on my board. Here, like this..." She held her finger on a picture of a lovely looking shepherd's pie, then slid it to the pin icon. "Then you can just put it in my board here that says recipes. See? Easy."

"Mm," he hummed as he continued to examine the screen while Molly got back up to sit in John's old chair again.

He supposed this was somewhat entertaining. Understandable why people used this as a means for organizing internet finds. Hhe touched a pin of the top ten pub foods and how to easily make them at home. He pinned it to Molly's recipe board. Then he casually scrolled down into the related pins.

He froze as he came across the large printed meme "Keep Calm and Scarf Toss Pub Kiss." Possibly he should have stayed away from the pub food recipes...but he kept scrolling slowly down. His eyes widened slightly as he stopped at a skillfully done sketch of himself and Molly, locked in their infamous kiss. He glanced up nervously, but saw that Molly wasn't watching him closely. He quickly went back a couple pages. Best to avoid those type of pins...

"So...are there any house rules I should know about?" she asked, bringing him back to reality.

"Rules?"

"Yes. Like, when you usually need the shower, or where I should be when a client is here, or when you need to be left alone, or times you need quiet and I shouldn't have the telly on. Things like that."

Sherlock watched her cradle her tea cup as she lifted her legs to tuck them up next to her on the chair. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and bit her lip slightly as she watched him intently, waiting for his answer. He couldn't help thinking to himself that the only rule she really needed to follow was one that he couldn't exactly say out loud. Molly, would you please refrain from being the least bit attractive for the next two weeks? It would help me a great deal if I weren't inclined to blatant physical displays of affection every time you look at me...please and thank you.

"I...can't think of any rules off hand," he said hesitantly and he gave her a tight smile, hoping that his cheeks didn't look at all red...because they felt suspisciously warm.

"Oh. Well, all right. I suppose you can let me know if you think of anything." She smiled. Then she suddenly blew out a heavy breath and set her tea down on the side table. "Is it warm in here?"

She stood up to remove her jumper before sitting back down, then in her tee shirt. She picked up her tea again and looked at it. "Perhaps it's a bit too warm for drinking tea tonight. I should just have some water. It's not as if I can take anything else off!" She let out a typical little Molly giggle, in reaction to her own joke.

Sherlock pressed his lips tightly together as he tried to look anywhere in the room except at her...and it occurred to him that this would not be as easy as he'd originally hoped.

Chapter Text

Molly came up the stairs after work two days later to the sound of Sherlock's violin. She pulled the few grocery bags along with her, and stumbled into the flat with some difficulty. Sherlock didn't turn or acknowledge her as she came in, but continued walking around and playing. She dropped her work tote and then made her way to the kitchen with the groceries. It was a few minutes later, as she was putting away some of the items, that Sherlock finally said something.

"Oh, Molly, I didn't realize you were back."

"Just a few minutes ago...I got some food. Real food. Enough for a few days at least, thankfully. I'd rather not have to carry anything extra for a while. I did not have such an easy time getting in the flat today," she said bitterly.

Sherlock walked over and pulled the curtain back to peer out the window. "Mm, yes they've certainly made the discovery," he said as he looked down at the few reporters that had become a fixture on the street today.

"Didn't take too long did it? I mean, what are they expecting to see outside the doorstep anyway? It's not as if they can get any pictures inside the flat."

Sherlock sighed as he sauntered over into the kitchen. "Who knows? They're probably just bored," he said as he inspected some of the food that was in the process of being put away. He reached into a small carton that held some cherry tomatoes and popped on into his mouth.

Molly smiled. "I was actually going to cook with those."

"Why would you cook tonight?" After he swallowed the tomato, he added, "Working."

She raised looked surprised. "Oh, are you? I didn't realize."

"I thought you knew."

She frowned at him, then laughed a little. "How would I know that, Sherlock? I've been at the hospital since this morning."

"Oh...right."

She shook her head and smiled. So this was the sort of thing John would complain about. "Well, it's all right. I can always make something tomorrow. I'll just make myself some toast for tonight. Why are you working so late?"

"It seems a night security guard may be breaking into some luxury flats, so this would be the very best time to catch him."

"Oh, I see...well, would you like me to at least make some coffee before you go? When are you leaving?"

Sherlock looked at her in an expression of wonder. He didn't remember this sort of thing happening when John was his flat mate. Do flat mates usually offer to do all these things for each other?

"I- I'm not completely sure. Perhaps an hour or so." He was looking almost suspiciously at her.

"All right. Well, just let me know when you're leaving and I'll get some coffee going," she said brightly, and then began putting the last few things away in the kitchen.

Sherlock turned slowly and went back toward the window. His eyes were wide and they darted back and forth as his thoughts whirled around in his head. It had only been a couple days, and this was not what he was expecting...

It was incredibly enjoyable.

It wasn't as if he anticipated that he'd dislike having her live with him. But he certainly didn't imagine that he'd be so happy with the arrangement, so very quickly.

He covertly turned a bit to see her continuing to work around things in the kitchen...around things. She hadn't disturbed or ruined a single thing on that kitchen table in the past two days, but somehow things looked cleaner. And she'd been using the kitchen quite freely. It was remarkable. Yesterday, she'd somehow managed to organize his bottles of chemicals and solvents all while getting some dishes done. He was still confused about how the two things had taken place within the same half hour. And then she'd proceeded to somehow make the bathroom look better as well. He hadn't even worked out exactly what she'd done in there. But when she'd left the bathroom after taking a shower, it looked better...not to mention smelling fantastic.

It was as if she was a frighteningly delightful combination of John's companionship and presence, and Mrs. Hudson's ability to keep the place functional and livable. And then there were things she brought to the table that nobody else did of course...seeing as he'd also very much much like to pin her against the nearest wall and snog her till they'd both forgotten the entirety of the periodic table...

Sherlock gave his head a small shake. Stop it. Not the right train of thought. This whole thing was incredibly inconvenient and distracting...no matter how enjoyable it was.

His thoughts were disturbed by the sound of his mobile ringing, and he picked up the call that was coming from John.

"Yes, John?"

"Hey, Sherlock, I hate to do this but Mary isn't feeling well. I don't really think I should go anywhere tonight. It would probably be better it I'm here, just in case."

Sherlock let his head fall in frustration. "John, I need your assistance!"

"If Mary went into labor, she'd need my assistance more! I'd think you can wrap your head around that."

Sherlock sighed loudly. "Fine...I'll manage somehow I suppose."

"It's really better if you get used to this anyway. I'm not going to be available as often for a while after the baby comes. Why don't you bring Molly?" John added.

Sherlock instinctively turned away from where Molly was in the kitchen and lowered his voice. "Absolutely not. That would be unwise."

"You took her on cases before."

"Yes John...before. I think it would be incredible counterproductive now."

"So...what you're saying is that you probably won't be able to keep your hands off her if you're solving crimes together," John replied in a tone of satisfaction.

"Conversation over, Goodbye!" Sherlock quickly spat out and hung up.

Sherlock didn't turn back around for a moment, unsure of whether Molly was still there. Though he knew she wouldn't be able to discern too much from his side of the conversation.

"What was that all about?" she questioned, confirming her continued presence in the kitchen.

Sherlock turned and said casually. "John won't be joining me this evening, that's all."

"Oh. Is Mary ok?"

"He said she isn't feeling well."

"Well, it's best he stay with her. The baby could be on her way soon."

Sherlock sat down at his computer and looked at the screen with a slight pout. Molly watched him and could tell that he was clearly upset at losing John for the night. He loved and cared for the Watsons, but that didn't change the fact that he could still be the selfish Sherlock that they all knew. And right now, he just wanted his crime solving partner.

Molly approached his desk a little. "Do you need help?" she asked slowly.

"With what?" he responded without looking away from the screen.

"I mean, with the case. I could help if you'd like. I could come with you."

Then he whirled to look at her, with what looked like mild fear. "I, uh...that's hardly necessary."

"Why not?" Molly took a couple more steps closer. "I'm sure you'd like someone with you. Is it especially dangerous?"

"It's um, just gathering evidence really. I've got to get some pictures, hopefully catching this man in the act. And once I produce the evidence, his employer will be able to take action. So I'm sure I'll be able to manage."

"Well, I would also...like to come," she said softly, and smiled at him.

He couldn't help looking up into those eyes of hers. The hopeful look made him wince inwardly. Molly wanted to help, and if he wasn't mistaken, she also simply wanted to be with him. He knew he wasn't going to be able to say no.

"All right then, thank you," he replied quietly.

Molly beamed back at him. "Great! Well, I'll be ready in a bit. Just have to feed Toby and clean out his litter box before we go. I'm not sure where he is actually. Have you seen him? I think he came down here today."

"He did indeed," Sherlock said with a sigh. "If I am not mistaken, he has taken to hiding under my bed. Been there most of the day I believe. I tried to coax him out when I needed to get dressed, but he refused."

"Oh, the poor little love, he probably can't relax anywhere in here. He's never lived anywhere except at my flat."

Sherlock shook his head in annoyance. He felt no sympathy for the animal. He just hoped that Toby would be willing to vacate his bedroom by the time they got back from solving this case.

Molly went off to her room upstairs and Sherlock began planning the night's activities. He reasoned that Molly's presence could genuinely be useful on the case. And he felt she'd possibly even be safer out crime solving with him, as opposed to staying at Baker Street alone...so it was probably all a win win situation.


About an hour later Sherlock and Molly had both had a cup of coffee in the flat, and were prepared to head out. It was thankfully rather empty on the streets, so they wouldn't be bothered by anybody at this time of night as they got a cab.

"It's about ten minutes away, won't take us long. This may be tedious. We may end up waiting for an extended period of time," Sherlock said as he folded his gloved hands on his lap.

"And what exactly are we going to be waiting for?"

"We would hopefully be waiting for the security guard to demonstrate his skills of burglary while we look on. The owner of the building said that quite often, tenants complain that something has gone missing while they were out. The owner made the connection that it's always when this particular watchman is on duty. It's a Saturday night, and it's likely that many of the building's residence will be leaving. So it would be a likely time to catch the thief red handed."

"And we are just taking photographs, right?" Molly checked.

"Just photographs, yes. I won't be chasing anybody down tonight. Though if you're feeling ambitious..." he said with a sideways smirk.

She smiled back. "I think not. I'll hopefully save those self defense lessons for another time. How are we getting into this building anyway? I mean, won't we have to get past the man at the front desk? He knows who lives there doesn't he?"

"You are correct. As a matter of fact, we are not entering the building from the front. We are going to go in through an open window of one of the flats."

Molly frowned. "And you are sure that the window is going to be unlocked?"

"Oh, I'm sure of it. In fact, we were invited. You see, the owner of the building informed me that one of the flats on the second floor is presently unoccupied. The new tenants won't be moving in for another week. So, he left the window open for me tonight and told me I could then have free reign of the building." He smiled at Molly with a typical haven't I thought of everything expression.

"Well all right, I suppose. Though I'm getting rather tired of going in and out of windows these days...You seem awfully comfortable using windows, don't you?" she said with a laugh.

"I'm no amateur," he answered with another playful smile.

Sherlock had the cabbie pull around to the back, and once they got out, they were left standing there in the dark and staring up at the five story building. Molly looked nervously at the fire escape ladder.

"I hope I won't slow you down," she said nervously.

"No chasing anyone down, remember? Not exactly a rush. Besides, I'll help." Sherlock jumped up to pull the ladder down. He looked up and realized that the safest plan was for Molly to go first. This could certainly be awkward...in a pleasant sort of way.

Molly came over and grasped onto the highest part of the ladder that she could manage, and without being asked, Sherlock leaned down and encircled her hips to lift her up. Molly gave a little squeak, as she wasn't expecting this, but she tried to remain professional and composed. She reminded herself that she'd volunteered to come help him on this case, and she promised herself not to become a giggly blushing idiot in the process.

Molly got up enough to begin climbing unassisted, and then Sherlock followed after her. Molly was glad that they only had to make it up to the second floor. She didn't exactly call herself athletic, and she figured that falling to the pavement below would put a massive damper on the whole crime solving experience.

They finally got to the window, and thankfully it was the right one. Sherlock gave Molly a look, pushed on the window, then smiled back at her in satisfaction when it worked. Sherlock climbed through first and helped Molly a bit as she reached the floor. He had grasped her hand for support as she jumped down on her feet, and he briefly had the thought that it may have been the first time he'd ever held her hand like that...

But, back to the case.

"There's a balcony on the second floor that overlooks the entryway. Our suspect should be manning his post at the desk. I want to wait and see what happens if someone leaves for the night. Come on."

They left the dark, sparsely furnished flat, and left the door unlocked for them to easily get back inside when it was time to leave. Sherlock led the way to where the balcony was, and they positioned themselves on the ground behind a couple of large pillars. They could see the man sitting at his desk down below them. And now they just had to wait.

Molly and Sherlock were crammed next to each other, so that neither of them would be visible from the ground floor. He was having a hard time breathing steadily and focusing on watching the desk below them. But he was also trying very hard not to turn and look right at her. Because at that distance, if he did, his nose might actually touch hers.

"How long do you think this will take?" Molly whispered near his ear, and he was suddenly afraid he might spontaneously combust.

"Er...I- I'm not sure. Not too terribly long," he whispered back, but kept his eyes facing forward.

Then he realized, in his peripheral, that Molly was leaning over closer to his head. He frowned slightly when he heard her make a quiet sniffing noise.

"Sherlock...did you use my shampoo?" she whispered, now clearly trying not to giggle.

Sherlock tried to maintain a straight face. "It was...experimental. The bottle made a lot of inflated claims and promises about the sort of effect it would have on hair. I was simply...attempting to prove or disprove those claims."

She was continuing to stifle laughter, but managed to get out. "And the results?"

Sherlock was beginning to have a difficult time staying serious as well. "I...fail to notice any extra bounce, body, or shine. And, on that note, I suspect that no shampoo could truly have an effect on how my hair bounces." He made a sarcastic expression, causing Molly to have to cover her mouth completely to hold in any noise.

Molly took a moment to fully compose herself before attempting to say anything else. "Well, if nothing else, it does smell quite lovely." She took another little sniff before having to cover her mouth to stop the laughter again.

Sherlock couldn't help but smile at Molly desperately trying to contain her amusement at his little shampoo experiment. Though, the "experiment" had really started because he was opening all her products in the shower to try and determine exactly which one was so incredibly appealing to him. He started to turn, against his better judgment, and he was right that her face would be so very close to his own...

"Sherlock, look!" she whispered, nodding to the ground floor.

They saw a couple leaving, and the man at the desk said hello. They informed him they'd be out for the night, and he told them to have an enjoyable evening. Sherlock and Molly looked at each other briefly, then watched the man again. It took a bit longer for anything to happen, but a few minutes after the couple had left and driven away in a cab, the man at the desk got up and left his post. Sherlock jumped up and Molly followed, when he heard the man get in the elevator. He listened closely and heard it slow as it came to the second floor.

Sherlock grabbed Molly's hand and pulled her along around the corner just as the elevator door opened. He placed a finger to his lips, listening for where the man was headed. He heard the footsteps go down the hall around the corner. Once he'd waited long enough, he peered around the corner to see the man stopping at a door near the end of the hall. Sherlock took out his mobile which he'd silenced earlier, and took a few shots as the man swiped a key card and entered.

"Now we wait and see if we can get any pictures of him leaving with anything." Sherlock leaned against the wall.

"What if he sees us?" Molly whispered.

Sherlock shrugged. "The empty flat is right there." He gestured a few doors down. "We can get away rather easily."

A few minutes later, they heard noises and Sherlock poked his head around the corner again. The man was coming out carrying a small bag in his hands, and Sherlock got a few shots of that as well.

Sherlock mouthed the words "got it, let's go" and they took a few steps toward the empty flat's door. Just as they were opening the door, they heard the man's voice. "Who's there?" he called from down the hall.

Molly shot Sherlock a horrified look and they quickly opened and got in through the door. Sherlock locked it behind them with one hand, and with the other finished emailing the pictures to the client. He turned to Molly with a pleased smile.

"There. Case closed."

Just as they were about to walk toward the window, they heard the door being jostled. Sherlock and Molly froze and looked at each with wide eyes. Molly made a move to sprint toward the window, but Sherlock grabbed her.

"No time, he's got a key. Quickly!" With that he threw off his scarf and coat, letting them fall to the floor.

"Hey!" Molly hissed in a whisper as he pulled her scarf from off her neck, throwing that on the floor as well.

"Sorry, Molly!" he whispered like lightening. Then he practically threw her onto the nearby couch before climbing on top of her and burying his face into the curve of her neck...right as the man had unlocked and opened the door.

Sherlock's head then shot up as he took heavy breaths. "Oh, excuse us! I thought I locked the door!" He looked down at Molly's beet red face, gaping mouth, and wide eyes staring up at him. "Darling, didn't I lock the door?"

Molly realized by now that she was supposed to be playing along, but she was too distracted by a whole lot of other things to form a complete sentence. "I, uh, well..."

"Who are you, and what are you doing here?" the man asked gruffly, taking a few steps closer.

Sherlock climbed off Molly and took her hands, pulling her to a standing position too.

"So sorry to have bothered you. I really thought I locked the door."

"Yeah, well I can get into any of these doors...Hey, you're Sherlock Holmes! And you're that doctor!"

Sherlock quickly cut in as he wrapped his arm around Molly's shoulder, pulling her in close. "Yes, we are. I'm sure you can understand how difficult it is for us to get even a brief moment of privacy. Press and all that. Your employer owed me a favor. He was kind enough to inform me of this flat being empty right now. Sorry, I assumed he would have told security." Sherlock grimaced in apology.

"He didn't tell me anything," the man said, still eyeing them both suspiciously.

"Well, my apologies then...we'll just get going I think. Thanks for your understanding," Sherlock said casually as he gathered up his and Molly's things from the floor and made his way to the door with Molly following along. But he stopped, before disappearing through the doorway.

"Oh, and one more thing! If you could manage not to mention this to any reporters, that would be most helpful. I think we would both very much appreciate it, wouldn't we darling?" He shot Molly a sly smile and a wink.

Molly could only nod and smile as she felt her cheeks heat up again.

The man continued to watch them hesitantly. "Yeah, right...whatever you say," he answered slowly.

Sherlock offered another quick grin to the man and then took Molly's hand, quickly leading them away from the flat. Once they'd left the room, he picked up the pace and ran around the corner to the stair well which they began making their way down.

"That was incredibly close!" Molly said as she tried to catch her breath while they ran down the stairs., and she'd meant it in more ways than one.

"Yes...I apologize for that," Sherlock said, also between breaths. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs and opened the door that led out back.

"I suppose we'll have to put up with the internet rumors again after this one," Molly said resignedly.

They began to make their way around the building to the street so that they could catch a cab. Sherlock shook his head at her statement.

"Actually, I wouldn't worry so much about that. I felt rather comfortable using us as an excuse in this case. I believe that he'd be the last person in a position to start any internet rumors." Sherlock looked at his watch and smiled. "I'd say he's going to be arrested in approximately ten minutes. His employer responded and said he's already called the police and they're on their way."

Sherlock reached his arm out and quickly got a cab. A few minutes after they drove away, they passed some police vehicles flying back in the direction they'd come from. Molly smiled at Sherlock.

"Looks like it was a success then. Nicely done."

He smiled back, and had a sudden knee jerk reaction to reach out and touch her hand which was on the seat next to him. He didn't, of course, but was rather disturbed about how automatic that response had been in his brain. He knew he shouldn't have done exactly what he did in that unoccupied flat, but there didn't seem to be any other reasonable and quick option at that moment. He also knew, in hindsight, that he'd now seared into his mind what it felt like to press his face into Molly's warm neck and feel how fast her pulse was against his own lips. Every time he experienced something like this, he realized that he'd never be able to make that memory go away...and he'd never completely escape wanting to feel it again.

Her smile made her eyes sparkle in the dark of the cab and he could just make out how widely dilated her pupils were...and he wondered if it was unfair to create such a response in her when he had no intention of moving forward. No, the truth was that he knew it was unfair...so he looked away.

Sherlock swallowed the things he was experiencing and took a deep breath before glancing back at her momentarily. "Thank you for coming with me tonight," he said simply.

"You're welcome. It was no trouble, I wanted to...though I'm not really sure I helped all that much."

"Oh no, on the contrary," he said as the corner of his lips curled a little in a renewed smile. "You helped a great deal, as a matter of fact."

"Oh did I?"

"Mm, think about it." He looked over at her again and began to laugh a little. "What on earth would I have done if it had been John and I discovered in that flat?"

Molly began to laugh then as well. They both gave in to the humor of Sherlock's statement, and let it carry them away. It was an easy escape. Not just because they enjoyed laughing together, now that they could relax after avoiding the trouble of the case. It was also because they each desperately needed to be distracted from the things that were hanging heavily between them in the back of that cab.

Because there really was a lot between them now. There was a lot more than Sherlock Holmes was comfortable to admit, and a lot more then Molly Hooper knew.

Chapter Text

Molly rolled over slowly at the sound of her alarm and gave it a sound whack to shut it off. She immediately noticed that her bedroom door was open, and she knew she'd shut it when going to bed. She sat up with a little groan and pulled her hair back in a messy ponytail before swinging her legs over the side of the bed and getting up.

Molly came down the stairs quietly and heard nothing in the flat. The sun shone through the windows and she looked down the hallway to see Sherlock's bedroom door open. She'd noticed he usually shut his door when going to his room, so it seemed possible that he'd gone out already. When she made her way into the kitchen and began starting the coffee she heard the patter of tiny feet and Toby came running out to greet her. He had clearly been in Sherlock's room again. In fact, he didn't seem to want to be anywhere else.

"Hello, little man. And how are you this morning? You'd better be staying off of Sherlock's bed. I don't think he'd take kindly to cat hair on his sheets," she whispered.

Toby wound around her legs, and she took the hint that he was hoping for some food. Molly got some cat food in his bowl and he happily set about eating it. The coffee was brewing then, and she leaned against the counter while absentmindedly playing with the buttons on her pajamas. She peered down the hall a bit again, wondering if Sherlock really was out.

Curiosity got the better of her and she decided to find out. Molly crept down the hallway and stopped just at his doorway. She braced herself on the sides of the door frame and leaned in a bit to look inside.

But no indeed, he was not out. There was Sherlock, sleeping peacefully in his bed. It occurred to her that she'd never actually seen the man sleep before. He'd crashed at her flat many a time, but she'd always simply seen him vanish into her bedroom and shut the door behind him, only to emerge smartly dressed the next morning. Or sometimes he was gone before she even woke up.

Sherlock lay on his stomach with his head facing the other way. One arm hung over the side of the bed. The sheet and luxurious looking blanket covered his body up to where it gathered and stopped around his waist, leaving his back exposed. Molly stood there, frozen, knowing she should just turn and walk quickly away...but of course, she was more than a little mesmerized. She was also overcome with emotion as she noticed the vast array of scars that covered the defined expanse of his back and shoulders. They were older scars. A year or two at least, she estimated. It hurt her deep inside to think of Sherlock being hurt like that. And it wasn't difficult to imagine when it had happened.

His back rose and fell suddenly with the inhale and exhale of a deep breath, and Molly was brought back to reality. She quickly pushed herself away from his door and tip toed back to the kitchen. She went back to where she'd been standing before and nervously chewed a nail as she listened for any noise. She heard the creak of a bed a minute later and then footsteps, then also heard Sherlock's door shut.

Molly went about her routine, trying not to feel like a teenager who was flustered at the idea of an attractive shirtless man only a short distance away. She got her coffee and then got some toast going. A few minutes later, she heard his door open again and Sherlock came walking out into the kitchen in his trousers and black shirt. Molly was more than sure that her face was the color of the tomatoes she's purchased the day before. Did he have to be continuing to button the shirt as he walked in? There really should be some sort of rule. Sherlock Holmes may not show his face with more than the top shirt button undone in the interest of maintaining law and order, and to keep everyone from blushing and babbling like idiots...

"Morning Molly," he said in a voice that made her realize it didn't really matter if he was in a space suit...she was still going to blush.

"Hi," she answered with a quick smile at him. Then she held up the now full pot. "Coffee?"

"Yes, please."

A moment of silence went by, then Sherlock spoke again as Molly poured his coffee.

"Sorry about your door last night."

"Oh, you mean you opened it?" she questioned as she dropped a couple sugar cubes into his cup.

"I did. I left my door and yours open in the hopes that Toby would leave my room. I'm not sure it worked though. He was still under my bed for the majority of the night, I believe. And then at one point was on my bed." Sherlock shot a disgruntled look at the furry animal on the floor.

Molly tried not to laugh. "Well, sorry about that. He seems to like your room. If you'd like, I can try to get him out before you go to bed. I don't want him to disturb you."

Sherlock shrugged. "I shut my door just now. I'm sure it'll be fine if I just keep it closed for the day. I'll be out soon and won't be back till evening."

"All right. Oh, and I was going to make something tonight. Just something easy. Probably some pasta."

"That sounds fine. You certainly don't need to feel obligated, but you're welcome to do that if you'd like." He offered a small smile after he'd finished taking a sip of coffee.

"Well, yes...I would like to." Molly smiled back warmly.

And that was when they heard a knock and a voice in close succession.

"Isn't this charming? I do hope you realize that I won't be able to stop Mummy from inflicting a visit on you very soon."

Sherlock rolled his eyes before turning to see his brother waltzing in with a withered smile on his face.

"What do you want, Mycroft?" he sighed.

"Just checking in. I'd got wind of your new little...arrangement. Glad to see you came up with such a convenient plan. And good morning to you, Dr. Hooper." Mycroft nodded in her direction.

"Hello," she answered quietly and smiled at Mycroft. The elder Holmes brother had always intimidated her a bit, though she did trust him.

"I do hope I'm not interrupting anything," Mycroft added pointedly, looking back and forth between the two people in the little kitchen.

Molly took quick action to break up the discomfort of the situation. "Actually I'm just about to get ready for work. Um, Sherlock, could I use the shower first?"

"Yes, that's fine, no problem," Sherlock answered quickly, and Molly immediately uttered a thanks and exited the room to head back upstairs.

Sherlock turned back to Mycroft, who had a sly smile on his lips.

"What?!" Sherlock spat out.

"Oh I'm simply...observing. That's all," Mycroft answered haughtily. "How quickly did you come up with the plan to move Dr. Hooper into your flat? I think perhaps it worked to your advantage that I couldn't have my people keep an eye on her at present. Perhaps you'd much rather keep your own eyes on her."

"Oh shut up, Mycroft!" Sherlock groaned and got up from his seat and moving over to the sitting room where he could see when Molly came back into the room. "Did you actually have a real reason for your visit this morning, or are you just trying to make my life difficult?"

"Always, brother mine...I actually have some news for you; some news of Moriarty."

Sherlock whirled around with eyes widened. "News? What news?"

"Well, I suppose it's nothing that's absolutely confirmed. But there are a number of reports coming in that seem very like him." Mycroft took a seat in John's chair and then continued. "There's been a significant increase in organized crime in the past week or so. Except it's too organized. It's too well thought out and executed, and too smart. We know most of the people involved, and they wouldn't have it in them to pull some of these jobs off."

"Getting help from the consulting criminal, I'm sure," Sherlock said bitterly as he turned to face the window. "How far reaching?"

"Very far reaching. Multiple cities in England are seeing the shift. He seems to be very busy at the moment."

"Mm. He's back then. Completely back in the game," Sherlock muttered, mostly to himself.

"You may be a very busy man soon. I do believe Moriarty is done laying low."

"He's probably bored."

"Most likely. If I hear anything more detailed, I'll be in touch...I'll need to be going though. I've got a lunch to attend later, and I'll need to go over my notes as to who I have to keep happy this time." Mycroft rose from his seat with a resigned sigh.

"You enjoy yourself, Mycroft. Do yourself a favor though, and stay away from anything sweet." Sherlock shot his brother a smug smile.

Just then, Molly came down the stairs with her clothes and towel. She passed them quickly, clearly trying not to disturb their conversation. She went straight into the loo and shut the door.

Mycroft turned to his brother and smiled, pausing for effect. "I do believe I could give you the very same advice. Good day, Sherlock."

Sherlock's smug smile fell away as his brother turned and left the flat. He stalked around and pouted a little at his brother having had the last word in this instance. That was one of his least favorite things...

He heard the shower turn on then. He looked down the hall and saw Toby clawing lightly at the bottom of the door. Sherlock frowned slightly and hesitated, then came over to the door. He stood there next to the cat who alternated reaching his paw under the door and then looking up expectantly at the detective.

"Obviously I'm not going to let you in there," he stated, looking down at the animal as he crossed his arms for effect.

Toby mewed quietly and kept pawing at the door.

"You're not allowed to claw at my doors, I suggest you find somewhere else to be. Your owner is occupied. Stop!" he insisted, giving the cat a nudge with his foot. Finally he gave up. "Molly! It seems Toby is distressed at not being able to join you in the shower. And now he's clawing my door because of it."

"Sorry, Sherlock! It's just, he's used to the door being open when I shower at my flat! If you want to let him in, you can. Though he may end up complaining again if he can't get out."

Toby renewed his scratching effort and Sherlock groaned.

"Oh fine, you stupid animal," he muttered. "Alright, I'm letting him in now!"

Sherlock opened the door a minimal amount and Toby vacillated in the typical fashion of a cat that had finally been given the open door they'd long been asking for. His hesitation was long enough for the smell of Molly's body wash to come wafting out. Sherlock clamped his eyes shut for a second and actually had to brace himself on the door knob. He took a deep breath and then used his foot to force Toby in through the opening and quickly shut the door again.

"Thanks, Sherlock!" Molly called out.

Sherlock finally opened his lips that he'd been pressing together forcefully. "No problem! I'll...be going now, by the way, and I'll lock the door. I'll be back this evening."

"Ok! Could you text me when you're on your way?" she called to him.

Sherlock paused, narrowing his eyes. This felt so strange... "All right!" he called back, shaking his head slightly as he said it.

He quickly gathered his things and left the flat before anything else could happen. He already felt like his brain had been compromised, and he figured it was best not to be there when that door opened, releasing even more enticing aromas.


Sherlock sat at the Watson's kitchen table as John put the kettle on for some tea. "Where's Mary?" he asked.

"She's resting on the couch. We had an appointment yesterday and her blood pressure is up a bit. Seems she has some pregnancy induced hypertension. She's supposed to take it easy, and they're hoping it'll stay under control. She's near her due date so if the baby has to come, they'll just induce her."

"Do you have those files the art dealer faxed you?" Sherlock asked, getting back to his business at hand.

"Right here," John said, picking up the file from the kitchen counter and handing it to Sherlock.

Sherlock opened it, and scanned the information quickly. "Excellent, thank you...I imagine you won't be coming with me today."

"Sorry," John said with a shrug.

Sherlock got up from his seat. "It's fine. I should be able to handle this. I'm already fairly certain it's the step son...I'll just say hello to Mary before I go." Sherlock left the kitchen and went to their sitting room where she was lying across the couch, propped up with a pillow.

"Am I going to need to have a strongly worded conversation with the small Miss Watson? I hear she's not being as agreeable these days," Sherlock said with a half-smile.

"If you could talk some sense into her, I'd be forever grateful!" Mary said, looking very weary. Sherlock could also see that she was retaining more fluid than the last time he's seen her. Definitely needing to deliver soon...

"How's things going at Baker Street?" Mary continued. "And do not evade my question, Sherlock, I'm not in the mood! Please give me some sort of pleasant distraction! I could really use it right about now. And I can only check Anderson's blog so many times."

Sherlock frowned. "Anderson's blog?"

"Oh, I haven't told you about his blog 'Like Minded Fans?' I'll have to show you that after. But seriously, how are things going?"

Sherlock exhaled slowly. "It's...fine. I think things are going as well as can be expected."

"And when you say 'well' do you mean that you're effectively concealing your feelings?" Mary asked with a small rueful smile.

He paused and tilted his head in thought. "Perhaps..." he answered slowly.

Mary groaned in frustration. "You're going to give me a stroke, Sherlock! I'm supposed to relax!" This earned him a light kick on the leg from the couch.

Sherlock smiled at Mary. "Fine...I kiss her before I leave every day, and when I come home as well. I text her throughout the day, reminding her of my undying affection. And last but not least, she no longer has any need for John's old room. There. Feeling more relaxed?" he asked with a teasing glint in his eye.

"Nope, I still know when you're fibbing. Nice try though. Ok, sit down, I'll show you Anderson's blog. But just promise me you won't hunt the poor man down! Try to remember that he's actually attempting to set the record straight."

"I make no promises," Sherlock answered immediately.

Mary got on her tablet and opened up Anderson's very detailed blog. She turned it so that Sherlock could see. He narrowed his eyes at the screen and grabbed the device from her. "Oh for God's sake! Look at this! This is the most ridiculous site I've ever seen. It's almost all about Molly and I!"

"Well, that is what most of your fans care about these days. But like I said, at least he's trying to be accurate. Look here, there's a quiz here called 'How well do you know Sherlolly?' It sort of separates fact from fiction. Probably does a bit of good in combating the tabloid rumors. And then there's favorite art, pictures, videos, and news articles too."

"What in the world is this? 'When will Sherlolly become official?' This is a poll!" Sherlock said with a look of horror.

"Oh yeah, there's multiple choices. A- one month or less, B- six months, C- a year or more D- never. And look, 78% of people think you'll be together in a month or less," Mary pointed out with a cheeky grin.

"These are largely people who do not personally know us! I'm not sure why exactly these numbers would matter at all!" Sherlock announced indignantly.

"It's just for fun, Sherlock! People absolutely love the idea of you two together. You can't blame them. And you can stop acting so above it all now, seeing as you do actually love Molly!" Mary poked Sherlock in the arm.

"That does not mean I think that the city of London should be speculating about the timetable of our relationship, or that there should be a relationship at all! My focus right now is on Moriarty's activity, and Molly's safety. And that is all!"

Mary smiled at him and paused, then added, "And maybe also getting another little kiss while she's living with you?"

Sherlock sighed and shook his head. He leaned down and kissed Mary's cheek after he stood up. "Keep that blood pressure under control, Mrs. Watson. See you later, John!"

"Text me about the case!" John called back from the kitchen.

Sherlock left the Watson's flat and went about dealing with the minor distraction of a case that he had for that day.


Molly had left some chicken in a simple marinade during her day at Bart's, and there wasn't too much work to do when she got back to Baker Street. She changed into some comfortable clothes and then pan cooked the chicken. She cut it up in smaller strips and set it aside, then waited to hear from Sherlock. The rest would go rather quickly, and if she started before he was close to getting home, it would certainly be cold.

She eyed Sherlock's leather chair and looked around, as if there was anyone present to notice. After a moment's hesitation, she took a seat in the chair. She pulled her feet up and tucked them to the side. It was lovely. Nice and soft, but still supportive. And it was plenty roomy enough to really curl up in. No wonder Sherlock liked this chair.

She spent a lovely half hour playing around on her mobile checking emails, news, social media, and sending a few text messages. She began to think that she could fall asleep right here without much effort...but finally, Sherlock did text her.

ON MY WAY. BE BACK IN TEN. -SH

OK THANKS! -MH

Molly got back up then and went back to work on the meal. She got water boiling and put in the spaghetti. Then she put more olive oil in the pan she'd cooked the chicken in. She added sliced garlic, then a few anchovy fillets till those had dissolved in the hot oil. She was just adding a bunch of capers when she heard Sherlock come up the stairs and then through the door.

"Hi! This is going to be ready really soon, so- Oh my goodness!" Molly suddenly stopped and brought a hand up to her nose. "Why do you smell so bad?"

Sherlock threw his coat aside and began unbuttoning his cuffs. "Yes, I may have fallen in some garbage while completing a chase. Turns out I may have had use for John today after all. I'll just be requiring a shower, if you don't mind."

"Oh no, please! I don't mind at all. In fact, I think I'd mind if you didn't!" she said with a laugh.

Sherlock disappeared into the loo a couple minutes later, and Molly heard the shower start up. She ended up having just the right amount of time to add the tomatoes she's cut up, and let them cook for a while, and then drain the pasta. She poured the pasta back into the pot she'd cooked it in, seeing as Sherlock didn't exactly possess any serving dishes, then she added the oil concoction. She tossed that around a bit, then added the sliced chicken. Pleased with the results, she got a couple plates.

It wasn't more than a minute later that Sherlock emerged in fresh trousers, shirt, and dressing gown. His hair was still slightly damp, and of course he looked amazing. Molly wished she hadn't changed into lounge clothes. He may be wearing a dressing gown, but that was about the only thing casual about him. Overall, he looked like he could be at a dinner party.

Sherlock walked past the kitchen where Molly was getting plates and silverware, and into the sitting room. He immediately turned his attention to the leather chair...Interesting. He looked at the latest pattern of indent, and it certainly hadn't been made by him from this morning. He glanced over again at Molly in the kitchen, then looked at the chair again. His mouth curled slightly in a smile. There was something satisfying about the idea of Molly relaxing in his chair. And it was also strangely endearing to think of her doing this secretly. He fixed his expression again and decided not to say anything.

"Here you go," Molly said and walked over to hand him a plate of pasta. "There's not really room to eat at the table right now, so..."

"Right, well let's just sit here."

"Ok. Do you want some wine? I got some red wine the other day."

Sherlock did some quick mental calculations. Alcohol...not a good idea. What happened last time you ingested alcohol in the presence of Molly Hooper?

"I'm fine, thanks," he said taking a seat with his plate.

"All right, well I'll have a little. Tell me if you change your mind."

Molly came over and sat with her glass of wine and her plate a minute later. She sat down just as Sherlock was digging into his plate. There was silence for a moment as Molly hovered nervously over her own food, unable to even bring the fork to her mouth because of watching Sherlock. Finally he looked up as he licked his lips and noticed Molly frozen and waiting.

"What?"

"Oh, nothing. I just...do you like it?"

"It's delicious. Why aren't you eating?" He frowned in confusion.

"Oh good, you like it! I'm always worried when cooking for anyone. It doesn't happen too often, so I always make myself so nervous." Molly felt as ease to begin eating her own serving.

"Nothing to be nervous about," he said simply. "It's a good recipe. The anchovies really provide much of the flavor, don't they?"

Molly laughed as she swallowed her bite. "Well it figures you'd know exactly what's in here! That's usually the fun of this dish. People will tell me it tastes good, and I'll have them guess what gives it that flavor. But almost nobody can. The anchovies completely dissolve, so it's usually such a mystery to everyone."

"I like solving mysteries," Sherlock said in a low murmur, and almost unconsciously, he winked as he said it.

Sherlock instantly caught himself, and then almost apologized. He hadn't really meant to do it. But then he realized that making mention of it could bring attention to something that perhaps she hadn't even noticed...Never mind, he thought as he observed her suddenly flushed cheeks and the way she was smiling nervously and touching her hair. She definitely noticed. He decided to move along anyway.

Molly took a sip of her wine and smiled across the space between the two chairs before continuing to eat in silence. She figured that was how Sherlock preferred it. If she'd been asked, she'd have guessed that he may prefer to eat completely alone. It seemed unlikely that he really wanted to eat with someone else and make conversation. But he probably felt like he had to let her sit with him, given that she had made the food.

A few minutes later, Sherlock's voice interrupted her thoughts.

"Is there any more?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, actually there is...you really like it." She smiled.

"I said I did. I wouldn't eat it if I didn't like it. I don't typically do things to spare people's feelings, as you're well aware."

"Yes, I suppose I should know that." Molly smiled and then made her way over to get him more pasta.

Another plate of pasta later, the two of them were completely full. And there was another serving left for Molly to take as lunch at work the next day. Sherlock walked over to his desk and spent some time on his laptop for a while. Molly cleaned up the remnants of the dinner preparation, and took care of the dishes. When she was done, she got some food in Toby's dish. He didn't come running though, so she figured he was hiding somewhere. She didn't realize Sherlock had gotten up and was watching her as she looked around the kitchen and then down the hallway.

"He's probably under my bed again. My fault for opening my door."

Molly turned at the sound of his voice. "Oh, right. Well, would you like me to get him out and take him upstairs after he eats?"

Sherlock shrugged. "It's fine. As long as he stays under my bed, and doesn't try to join me in it again, we should be able to coexist peacefully."

"I'll just leave his food out, and he'll probably come out to eat sooner or later. So, maybe you could leave your door open just a crack. I'm going to um, head upstairs now. I got the kitchen all cleaned up. If you need me I'll probably be up for a while, reading or something." Idiot, she thought. What in the world would he need you for?

He looked back at her with steady eyes which made her knees feel much less than steady. "Thank you, Molly."

"Mm hm, no problem. Ok, well, good night," she said brightly, then quickly passed by him to head for the door to upstairs.

Molly got in her room and tried to read her book she had recently downloaded. But she had a really difficult time getting into it. All she could hear and focus on were the haunting melodies that floated up the stairs from where Sherlock was playing his violin. Eventually she gave up and laid her book down, shut off her light, and snuggled under the covers to just listen to the music. She lay there for almost an hour, listening to him play on and off.

And she eventually fell asleep to what she could have sworn, in her half-conscious brain, sounded like "Say Something" by A Great Big World...


Chapter Text

Sherlock came stomping up the steps to his flat at half past one in the morning the next day, with Greg Lestrade in tow.

"I'm telling you that you've got to be more careful!"

"What are you complaining about, Lestrade?! You got your suspect, isn't that why you called me two hours ago begging me to come help you?" Sherlock bellowed.

"First of all, I did not beg! I never beg, I request your help!" Lestrade responded at matched volume. He'd been without sleep for too many hours, and putting up with the difficult detective wasn't his strong suit when he was sleep deprived. "And second, I asked you to come help us catch a thief. I did not, in fact, ask you to unnecessarily insult his girlfriend and make her upset!"

"Who cares?!" Sherlock gestured wildly. "She's just the girlfriend! You've got the thief!"

"Exactly! We got the suspect, but she's not the suspect! Now she's saying she felt verbally attacked and she's threatening legal action!"

Sherlock waved a hand dismissively as he threw off his scarf. "She's an idiot! If she even knew how to contact a solicitor, I'd be shocked!"

"You never know, Sherlock! Sometimes one person can make a lot of trouble! You're called to help us out, and I'd like to be able to call you without worrying that you're just going to make more trouble for us. One of these days, I'll decide it's just not worth it anymore!"

"Oh please, Griffin! You know very well you'll never stop calling me! Don't make empty threats!"

Lestrade clenched his jaw and paused before yelling back again. "Greg! Greg! It's Greg, for God's sake!"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and sighed loudly. "Yes, fine! Stop making empty threats, Greg! Now go home and get some sleep! Unlike myself, you loose a lot of cognitive function as your fatigue increases!"

"Sherlock? Is everything ok?"

The two men turned their attention to the doorway and saw a very sleepy looking Molly Hooper standing there. A very sleep, and very...

Sherlock blinked a few times, then made the conscious effort to close his mouth that had been hanging open. Dear God, she looked beautiful. Why did she have to look like that? He began to instinctively wish that Lestrade wasn't with them at that moment...which made him glance over at Lestrade, and Sherlock saw that his mouth was also gaping as he stared at Molly. It wasn't as if she was indecent, really. But she was wearing a blue cotton nighty with spaghetti straps, and it came only to mid thigh. It was probably the very smallest amount of clothing Sherlock had ever seen Molly in. And as he took another look at Lestrade, it seemed he was thinking the very same thing. In fact, the look of shock on Lestrade's face had been replaced by raised eyebrows and a small smile developing. And that would not do...

"Sorry, I just- I heard loud voices and I thought something was wrong. Hi, Greg." Molly gave him a small smile as she ran a hand through her slightly disheveled hair.

"Yeah...hi, Molly." Greg smiled back, much too widely for Sherlock's liking.

"Everything's fine, Molly, thanks for checking. You can go back upstairs now," Sherlock said rather quickly. He strolled over and stood conspicuously in Lestrade's line of vision.

"Well, actually, I was thinking of getting a glass of-"

Sherlock noticed that Lestrade had moved so that his view did not continue to be blocked, and Sherlock quickly cut off Molly's sentence.

"Here, Molly, you look a little chilled." Sherlock suddenly swept his Belstaff off his shoulders and whirled it around so that it rested on her shoulders.

"Oh, um, I'm fine actually. It's quite warm tonight," she retorted, looking up at him in confusion, but she didn't bother to fight the coat.

"No, no. Go ahead and take it for now," Sherlock insisted, and even closed a button on the front.

"Um...ok...I'll just get that uh, glass of water." Molly slipped past the detective, with heavy coat dragging along.

Sherlock watched her go as she walked into the kitchen, and then slowly turned back to face Lestrade. He was met with a very pleased grin on the face of the detective inspector. Lestrade crossed his arms over his chest and raised his eyebrows at Sherlock in a What was that? expression. Sherlock rolled his eyes and turned away again.

A moment later, Molly came back through the room with her glass of water. "Ok, well I don't want to interrupt or anything. Night." Molly began to unbutton the coat.

"I'll get it back later, Molly. You can give it to me tomorrow. I've got lots of coats," Sherlock quickly answered, before she could take the garment off.

Molly frowned slightly and eyed him with continued suspicion. "All right. Well, um, I'll see you tomorrow then. Night, Greg." She smiled.

"Night, Molly. We'll try to keep it down," Lestrade said, smiling back at her as she turned and left.

Both men stood there looking in the direction of the stairs till the footsteps had stopped and they heard Molly shut her bedroom door. Then they both turned to look at each other again. Lestrade began chuckling softly and shaking his head.

"How much are you going to pay me not to tell Anderson and the rest of the guys about this little scene?" Lestrade asked in a lower voice.

Sherlock clenched his jaw before answering in his own hushed and sarcastic voice. "To what scene are you referring? Oh, you mean the one where Molly Hooper came innocently walking in the room, and you stared at her like a piece of meat?!"

Lestrade threw his head back for a moment in laughter. "And the way I looked at Molly Hooper bothers you does it?"

Sherlock pursed his lips and his eyes darted back and forth in slight discomfort. "She's a...friend. Isn't that one of those...things...people are supposed to care about?"

Lestrade shook his head and looked pleased. "Not something you would normally care about."

Sherlock huffed a little and went to sit in his chair. Then Lestrade spoke again.

"Besides, I didn't know Molly was actually staying here. I thought that was just more ridiculous tabloid rumors! When did this happen?"

"After the shooter at Bart's. I thought this was the...safest option."

"Well, safety first," Lestrade said with a smirk.

"All right, that's enough! Thank you for the ride, goodnight!" Sherlock got up and gestured grandly toward the door.

Lestrade was still chuckling happily as he strolled through the door. "Right, well you have a good night, Sherlock."

Sherlock didn't even bother to answer as Lestrade left and he swung the door shut. He knew he'd never hear the end of this...


Sherlock woke up at close to ten in the morning to the sound of his mobile ringing. He picked it up and squinted at the screen, then cleared his throat and answered.

"Yes, John?"

"Hey, Sherlock. No emergency or anything, but I wanted to let you know that they just admitted Mary to maternity. She's going to start the induction process today."

"Not really surprising. Her pressure didn't seem to be coming down. She was retaining quite a bit of fluid...don't tell her I said that."

John chuckled. "Yeah, well, hopefully she's about to let a lot of that go soon. They've got her all set up and hopefully things will move relatively quickly. If she can't start laboring on her own today, they'll have to section her. Her blood pressure's gotta come down."

As John had been talking, Sherlock had thrown a dressing gown on, left his bedroom, and made his way to the laptop. He'd begun checking his emails. In the process, he also saw his coat slung neatly over the arm of the couch where Molly had obviously left it before leaving for work.

"I'm sure everything will be fine, John. Mary is awfully determined."

"You busy today?"

"Mm, hoping to be."

"Is Molly working?"

"She is." Sherlock sounded vaguely like he wasn't involved in the conversation anymore.

"All right, well I guess I should get back to Mary now. Not that there's any rush at this point."

"Actually, John, would you like me to bring you anything at the hospital? Anything you'll be needing?"

John sighed. "You've been checking your emails haven't you? And you've just discovered you haven't got anything interesting going for today."

Sherlock paused before answering slowly. "Maybe."

"Well if you're offering, I'm certainly not refusing. I don't care if it is because you're bored! I'd really like some real food. I have a feeling we'll be having mostly hospital food for the next couple days at least. Can you get me one of those Italian sandwiches from that place-"

"The one near the alley where we discovered the headless corpse?"

"Um...yeah, right, that one. Thanks for reminding me."

"Sure, no problem. Be by in another couple of hours." Sherlock tried to swat Toby away, since he'd just jumped up onto the desk, invading his work space and rubbing his fuzzy face on the corner of Sherlock's laptop.

"Text me when you get here. I'll come meet you in the cafeteria if I can. Mary cannot see any food, she'll probably start crying. They won't let her eat while she's being induced. You know, in case they have to section her or something."

"I'll text you then. See you later, John."

"Thanks, Sherlock."

Sherlock hung up and stared down the cat that was now purring as he curled up next to the laptop where it was giving off some heat.

"Molly's working till," Sherlock looked at his watch, "about three today. Perhaps I'll pay her a visit as well. What do you think? Bad idea? Perhaps she'll give me something to experiment on though. You'd better hope so. If I run low, I may resort to using you!"

Toby mewed in response and rubbed his face on the laptop again. Sherlock sighed and got up, preparing himself to leave the flat.


Sherlock finished sending John the text as he pulled up to Bart's. He got out and went for the door with the take away bag in tow. It seemed media interest had increased again after word had gotten out about the new resident at Baker Street. So Sherlock was approached by a couple reporters as he walked.

"Sherlock, are you bringing lunch for Molly?"

"Is there a wedding on the horizon now that Molly is living with you?"

"Sherlock, do you plan to regularly have Molly solving crimes with you now?"

Sherlock turned slightly as he got to the door. "No, no, and no. Good day." He gave a brief grin before disappearing into the hospital.

He got to the cafeteria and John was waiting at a nearby table.

"Oh thank God, I'm starving," John said with a sigh as he took the bag from Sherlock's hand.

Sherlock sat down across from his friend. "How are things progressing."

"Slowly. Very slowly. Barely contracting so far. Need to give it a bit more time. Worked out for me though, since I could sneak away for a bit and have lunch," John took a large bite of his sandwich.

"Reporters are still about outside. They thought that sandwich was for Molly." Sherlock smirked.

"How dare they?" John laughed.

"Though I will go and see her I think."

John stopped and looked at Sherlock as he chewed. "For...just saying hello?"

Sherlock shrugged. "I'm bored. Perhaps she'll let me observe some autopsies, or help analyze some samples, or maybe have some body parts."

"Oh...I think she would," John chuckled.

"Oh, aren't you clever?" Sherlock sneered.

"So things are going smoothly then? Managing to keep your hands to yourself?"

"I am. It's not really all that difficult," Sherlock said haughtily.

"Really? Hmm...Got an interesting text from Greg this morning. Lestrade...He was pretty amused after leaving your flat last night." John shot Sherlock a sneaky smile.

Sherlock set his lips together in a tight line. "I'm going to kill him."

"And tell me, how do you think Molly looked in your coat?"

Sherlock gave John a warning glare and John put his hand up in surrender as he continued laughing.

"Listen, in Greg's defense, he was just trying to get a straight answer about what's going on with you two."

"What? He can't just follow Anderson's blog like the rest of the world?!" Sherlock spat out with a wag of his head.

John turned a little more serious as he answered. "Actually, your real friends just care about what's really going on. They want the truth...and they want to hear it from you."

Sherlock hesitated, opening his mouth, then closing it. Then he finally said firmly, "Well, there's nothing going on."

John nodded as he chewed and swallowed another bite. "Right. But if there was...well, you know...ok, I'll just shut up now."

"Excellent idea...On that note, I think I'll head downstairs." Sherlock stood and turned his collar up. "Do text me with updates."

"Of course. Thanks again for the sandwich."

Sherlock waved as he turned and strode out of the cafeteria.

John shook his head and sighed as he continued eating. "Molly Hooper, you had better be up for this challenge," he muttered to himself.


Molly peered in among the organs of the thirty seven year old woman on her table. Full of cancer, absolutely full. There were moments in her career, like this, that she hated. Such a short life, snuffed out. A job like this was harder to distance herself from. This young childless woman with a husband who was probably home crying into the shoulder of a relative right now. Molly sighed as she continued the task at hand. So she was actually more than thrilled when Sherlock came sweeping into the room, like a breath of fresh air in the depressing room.

"Oh hi!" she said with a smile that unabashedly displayed her happiness at seeing him.

"Hello," he answered with a more controlled smile of his own. "Thought I'd drop by. Mary is beginning labor very slowly upstairs."

"Oh, lovely. How exciting!"

He strolled over with hands clasped behind his back, till he stood on the other side of the table from her, and peered down into the poor woman's body. "I'd venture to say the cause of death isn't a mystery."

"No, I'd say not...Oh, oh no. Oh my God..." Molly suddenly said, looking stricken.

"What?"

Molly wordlessly gestured to inside the woman's abdomen. Sherlock examined what Molly was looking at. He looked up again with an eyebrow raised. "Ah, I see. Just into the second trimester, by the looks of it."

Molly swallowed and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. She stopped what she was doing and leaned her palms on the edges of the table.

Sherlock watched her with a small frown. "Are you...all right?"

Molly paused at first, almost seeming not to have heard him. Then she straightened up again. She gave him a tight smile of reassurance. "I am now, thanks. Sometimes I just...need a moment...with something like this."

Sherlock looked at her, then his eyes roamed the room, almost nervously. "Would you rather I...go?"

Molly's eyes shot up and she pulled her safety goggles off. "No! I mean...I don't mind you being here. Of course not. I'd like for you to stay, actually. I'm alone today, no interns."

One side of Sherlock's lips curled up in a half smile. "Well then, no getting rid of me."

Molly had to look down for a moment, and felt the blush creep into her cheeks. Then she raised her wide smiling eyes up to his again. She licked her lips briefly, then said softly, "Care to help me slice up a man's kidney after this?"

Only you, thought Sherlock. Only you could say that to me, and make me want to do so much more than lab work. And for some reason, in the moment, he didn't even feel like being cautious. He just wanted to stay.

Sherlock gave her another half smile. "Nothing else I'd rather be doing."


Sherlock spend almost three hours at Bart's that afternoon. He worked alongside Molly and was genuinely helpful. She was the specialist of course, but he still knew enough of the field to make her job easier by having him there. And she wouldn't have cared anyway. She'd never grown tired of his tall presence beside her wherever she was in the lab or the morgue, and she figured it was likely she never would.

Sherlock enjoyed the day of course. He'd gotten to do a lot more than he normally would. Molly seemed especially accommodating. He attributed it to the fact that she seemed to need his company emotionally. She seemed especially troubled by the autopsy of the young and surprisingly pregnant woman. He couldn't empathize of course, but it was Molly, so he understood. She was so much more easily moved than he was...just as was the case with most people in comparison to himself.

As her work day was coming to a close, Sherlock received an email with a case offer. There was a missing woman. He got lots of these cases. The police required a day before they began using time and resources to search for a person, just in case they showed up or made contact. This particular missing woman's case was interesting enough, so Sherlock felt the need to take it.

Molly and Sherlock parted ways early in the evening and he told her he may not be back to the flat till late, because she had asked. So Molly stopped at a book store on her way home, one that was out of the way. She even stopped at the store and got some ice cream. It was an ice cream for dinner sort of a night. And she felt like watching something as well, so decided to settle in for the night with her laptop.

Molly had been home for an hour and was snuggled on the couch with her laptop set on the coffee table, when Sherlock unexpectedly came through the door.

Molly paused and looked up at him with spoon still hanging from her mouth. "Oh... hello. That didn't take long."

"Idiots," he replied as he pulled his scarf off. "If a woman decides to run away, she should just do it and stay away. What is the point if you come back crying an hour later?"

Molly suppressed laughter. Only Sherlock would be disappointed because someone hadn't actually run away and disappeared. "So you'll be staying home then?"

"It seems that way," he said with a sigh as he fell heavily into his chair. He then registered the sound coming from Molly's laptop. "What's that you're watching?"

"Oh, I'm just re-watching some episodes from the last season of Downton Abbey...Sorry, I can take this upstairs." Molly made the move to start getting up.

"No no, it's fine," he said with a wave. Then he sat there drumming his fingers on the arms of his chair for a moment. "Is that ice cream?" he asked suddenly.

"Mm hm."

Sherlock nodded and looked away, then his gaze shot back. "Have any more?"

Molly nodded. "There's another container in the freezer."

Sherlock got up and retrieved the small container of ice cream and sat back down in his chair with a spoon. He sat there quietly eating and half listening to the voices coming over the laptop. He began paying closer and closer attention as the minutes passed by. Finally, after fifteen or twenty minutes had gone by, he got up and gestured to the screen of the laptop as he spoke.

"This Bates seems like a decent man, but is he some sort of an idiot?! How can he not tell exactly why his wife is avoiding him?"

Molly stared up at Sherlock, almost choking on her ice cream from shock at his sudden input. "Um, well, not everyone is a detective," she offered, trying not to burst out in hysterics.

Sherlock flopped down next to her without any sort of explanation, and Molly didn't ask either. If he wanted to sit on the couch and watch Downton Abbey with her...she wasn't going to question it.

Some time later, his deductions continued. "Well, clearly Edith is going to end up pregnant. And who is this Gregson anyway? Something doesn't seem right..."

By the end of that episode, Molly stopped and hazarded a glance at Sherlock sitting next to her on the couch. "So, you don't have to keep watching if you don't want," she offered.

"Why? Were you going to stop watching?"

"Well...no. I didn't have anything else to do, so..."

Sherlock waved his hand casually and shrugged. "It's fine. It doesn't bother me if you watch some more. I know some people require occasional distraction."

"Oh. Ok. Well, I'll just start the next one then."

Two more episodes later, and Sherlock was still actively watching and commenting freely. "They are quite obviously setting it up that this Mr. Blake and Mary are going to develop some sort of feelings for each other," he said with some disdain.

"Well, I have to agree with you in this case, it is obvious. The classic dynamic where two people start out hating each other, then fall in love. It isn't hard to see it coming...I just don't understand how all these men are constantly after Mary! I know she's pretty, but I mean she's not terribly pleasant. She's rather proud and isn't very nice to people. I just don't understand what they're attracted to."

Sherlock turned his head very slowly, narrowing his eyes and smirking at the small woman. "Sorry...you don't understand how someone can be attracted to an unpleasant, proud sort of person who's not very nice?" he asked slowly, and saw the color rise in her cheeks.

Molly shrunk down in her seat a little more and cleared her throat. "Right, um...never mind," she said in a small voice while trying not to smile too widely.

She felt, as well as heard, the satisfied chuckle vibrate from beside her. Wait, she thought. Felt? She glanced quickly over, and yes indeed, his arm was absolutely touching hers. He must have moved over close enough to be able to see the laptop screen. She started to breath faster, and desperately tried to control it. He'd notice, she was sure he'd notice if she started to hyperventilate...

By the end of the seventh episode, Sherlock threw his hands up and exclaimed, "I was right! Mr. Bates is definitely going to kill Mr. Green!"

"When did you say that?" Molly asked while laughing.

"I said it in the first episode I watched..." he said defensively, crossing his arms. "Or at least, I said it in my head. It's obvious, he is absolutely capable of killing a man."

Molly let out another peal of laughter. "He's an actor!"

"Well he's a good actor. And his character is capable of murder."

"Deducing fictional people...is this some kind of a next level of detective work for you?"

Sherlock didn't look over at her, but Molly saw his smile. The next episode began playing and they started watching without any discussion. The question of "do you want to keep watching" had stopped a couple episodes ago.

As Daisy said a final farewell to Alfred, Molly huffed in frustration at the scene. "Talk about shipping! I ship them so hard! You can tell that Alfred finally realizes what he's been missing all those years. Too little too late...I'm still holding out hope that he'll be back in a future series and they'll get together."

"Planning to start a blog, are you?" Sherlock mocked.

"Shut up." Molly elbowed his arm.

During the final episode, Sherlock was especially proud of himself. "Look at that! Mr. Bates has the skills to forge writing, and he's now picked that man's pocket and retrieved the letter they needed! And low and behold, what's that in Mr. Bates pocket? A train ticket to London on the day Mr. Green died! Guilty as charged! Not that I blame him...oh yes, he is definitely the most intriguing character in the show!"

As Mrs. Houghs and Carson went wading into the ocean hand in hand, Sherlock jumped when Molly whacked his arm in excitement. "Oh, I ship them so hard too! They're adorable! Look at that!"

"So...that's the last episode?" Sherlock asked as credits finished playing on the dvd, and some cast interviews began.

"Oh yes, that's it."

"Wait, how many episodes was that?"

"Well you just watched four through eight, and then the Christmas special."

Sherlock frowned. "So you're telling me there's only a total of nine episodes? And when does the next series begin?"

"Well, not till next autumn."

Sherlock looked annoyed and scoffed at the idea of this. "Nine episodes only once a year? That's only the span of a couple of months! That means the viewers would be left to wait a full ten months till seeing what happens next! What sort of program is this?!"

Molly shrugged. "I don't know Sherlock...I've heard there's some that are worse..."

There was a moment of silence as Sherlock imagined such a thing. Then he continued with his thoughts on the show.

"I especially liked the Dowager Countess and Mr. Bates. Some of the others are morons of course."

Of course, thought Molly. True to form, he'll still think most of the people are morons. Even in the case of a television program.

"I wonder whether Mary will actually move on in the next series. She'd better do something, after stringing all those men along! I just don't know if I'll ever love her as much as I did when she was with Matthew," Molly said solemnly.

"Why is that?" Sherlock asked with a yawn, and turned to look at Molly,

"Well, he was just...so perfect for her. Because he was really nothing like her. You saw what she's like. Matthew was just so kind and compassionate. And he saw the best in people. He saw the absolute best in her, more than anyone else. She was a softer kinder person with him, because that's what he believed her to be. He told her once, 'You'll be my Mary always because mine is the true Mary.' But then he died. And now it's like Mary doesn't know who to be. I think she felt like that good side of her died with Matthew. So sad." Molly yawned as she finished her sentence.

"So he..." Sherlock's lips moved, faltered, as he hesitated to softly say it. "Balanced her."

"Mm," Molly hummed, and let out another yawn. "What time is it?"

Sherlock raised his arm and squinted at his watch in the dim light. "It's half past one."

"Oh wow," she whispered.

But the both of them stayed frozen in place and kept mindlessly watching the interviews that played on the screen of Molly's laptop. Sherlock heard the endless drone of people talking, but was mostly thinking about what Molly had said. Voices, voices, voices in his head...

Suddenly Sherlock heard music. He opened his eyes, though he hadn't realized he'd even closed them. He focused on the screen of the laptop and saw the dvd menu scene playing in a loop with the theme music. He blinked, trying to clear his vision, and began reaching his arm out to turn off the noise. But he was stopped short.

Sherlock regained consciousness completely then, and looked down.

He was slumped over and leaning on a cushion of the couch, and had clearly fallen asleep some time ago. And there, curled up against his chest, was Molly...

Sherlock's eyes widened and he felt his pulse and breathing quicken. Suddenly he realized how stupid he'd been for the entirety of the past twenty four hours. This was decidedly not the way to avoid getting close. Sherlock knew he was playing with fire...and he was definitely getting burned.

He saw that his right arm had ended up draped around her back, and he didn't know what to do with it now. She might wake up if he moved at all. He looked at his watch again and saw that it was near five in the morning. He knew she had a late work shift today, so could sleep much longer. But maybe it would be better if she could be upstairs in her own bed.

Sherlock hesitantly reached his other hand up and grasped her shoulder. "Molly?" he whispered.

Molly took a deep breath and sighed. Sherlock gave her shoulder a very gentle shake while saying her name again. Finally he felt her stir more, though she seemed to cuddle closer against his chest in the process. Molly lifted her head up, examining the bed her head had been on in the process, and looked at Sherlock. When she finally made eye contact, he watched her eyes go wide as she suddenly pushed herself backward and off of his chest till she was sitting up.

"S- sorry, sorry, I- I don't know how that...Sorry, I must have fallen asleep," she babbled, and nervously fidgeted with her hair.

"It's...fine. I seem to have fallen asleep as well," Sherlock answered quietly.

Molly reached out and turned the dvd off and shut down her laptop. Then she got up quickly.

"I'll just um, go upstairs. I'll try to get some more sleep, since I don't have to work till-"

"Noon," he finished.

"Right, yes, noon...Well, goodnight. I mean, good morning. Well, you know what I mean!" Molly let out a short nervous giggle and turned to go.

"Thank you, Molly."

She turned at the door. "For?"

He smiled quickly. "A little distraction."

Molly smiled back and then went upstairs.

She did go back to bed. And Sherlock eventually gathered himself up and went to his own bedroom as well...but neither of them were able to calm their thoughts enough to fall asleep again.

Chapter Text

"But I don't care about anything that's on Anderson's 'Like Minded Fans' blog!" Sherlock said with a flail of his arm.

"But, Sherlock, this is different!" Molly pushed.

"Why? It's charity, why isn't it just a matter of giving money? I'll give everything I got for that last case!"

"The ALS ice bucket challenge is about raising awareness for the disease. Everyone is doing it! You'll be done in under a minute. You've been shot, and you've been injured more times than we can count. This certainly isn't worse! What's the big deal?"

"Because I don't want to," he answered with a superior wag of his head.

Molly was silent for a minute. She pursed her lips as she watched the screen on her phone again. Anderson looked so pleased with himself as he stood there sopping wet, freezing, and nominating Sherlock. She felt she had to get Sherlock to comply.

"Lots of body parts!" Molly blurted out.

Sherlock turned and frowned at her.

"As much as I can manage!" Molly said with a little nod of determination. Then her expression softened a little again. "Come on, please! You'll disappoint so many people if you don't do it!"

Sherlock stared back at her. Finally his expression shifted slightly as he sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine! I'll call Wiggins. Let's get this over with!" Sherlock stormed off, dialing his mobile.

Molly clapped her hands together silently, pleased with herself that she'd managed to make this happen. A minute later, Sherlock came back in the room.

"Right, Wiggins is going to meet us behind the building in fifteen minutes. He's bringing the bucket. There's a tap we can use out back...I'll just go and change."

"Wait no!" Molly said halting him. There was no earthly way she was about to let him change out of that white dress shirt.

"What?"

"I think it's...best to stay like that. Lots of people are filming it in dress clothes. Makes a sort of...statement."

Sherlock shrugged. "Fine, who cares what I'm wearing?"

Probably half of the globe, Molly thought as she turned a little red.

Fifteen minutes later, Sherlock and Molly stood there as Wiggins filled the plastic bucket with the water from the tap behind the Baker street building.

"Right, all ready," Wiggins said.

"Ok, stand up on the top step of Mrs. Hudson's back door," Molly directed. "I'll tell you when to start talking, Sherlock."

"Talking? I thought I was just being doused with cold water!"

"You have to say who you are, and who nominated you, and why you're doing it...and you can't say it's because I promised you body parts!" Molly added.

"Specially not on Anderson's site," Wiggins added slyly. "Might be misconstrued." He winked at Molly.

Sherlock's eyes widened and he shot Wiggins a warning look.

Molly cleared her throat. "Um, anyway, when you're done you have to nominate at least one other person ok?"

"I'm sure I can manage."

"Right...go!"

"Hello, I'm Sherlock Holmes. I've apparently been nominated by Philip Anderson to do this...ALS ice bucket challenge...thing," he said with an eyebrow raising in uncontainable disdain. "For the purpose of raising awareness, I suppose. So, without further ado, my assistant will dump this cold water over my- AAHH!"

Sherlock yelled as Wiggins overturned the bucket at that instant, and then he groaned through gritted teeth as the freezing water covered and soaked him. Molly was trying desperately hard not to let her mobile shake from her laughter by that point. She clamped a hand over her mouth.

Sherlock wiped a hand over his face and eyes, then brought his hands up to shake out his hair. He took a few breaths and then did his best to get some words out as he already began to shiver from the air outside chilling the sopping dress shirt.

"I...did it. So I will now nominate John and Mary Watson...and also my distinguished camera woman, Molly Hooper." Sherlock grinned at her as Molly's mouth fell open. Then he looked back at the phone and winked. "Be sure to donate."

Molly finally put her arm down and shook her head slowly at him as he walked over. Molly wanted to give him an angry look but...If he wasn't so sickeningly beautiful right now with the damp hair and the clinging white shirt...so instead she found her lips curling in a smile.

"I can't believe you just did that to me," she laughed out.

"But it's for charity, Molly!" Sherlock said in mock disapproval as she threw the towel at him.

"Still got a perfectly good bucket right here!" Wiggins chimed in, which earned him a disgruntled look from Dr. Hooper.

Sherlock reached out after he had ruffled his hair with the towel and then draped it over his shoulders. "Come on, hand over the phone. Why not get it over with, right? We can send them to Anderson at the same time. With any luck, he'll have a heart attack and die from joy."

A couple minutes later, Molly stood nervously waiting as Wiggins finished filling the bucket and held it up on the railing, ready to go.

"I hope you know, that deal about the body parts is off, Sherlock Holmes!" Molly stated seriously, but also couldn't help smiling.

"Oh, I expect it is," he said happily. "And if it wasn't already, it's certainly about to be. I think you're about to be unhappy enough with me to call off any previous deal we had. No matter, I think I'd rather see this."

Molly smirked back at Sherlock. "How's your mind palace feeling right now? A little chilly? I bet it looks like Elsa's ice castle from Frozen!" she teased.

Sherlock grimaced in confusion. "Looks like who's castle from what?!"

Molly sighed. "Oh never mind! I'll make you watch it some day. Come on, let's get this done!"

"Oh yes," Sherlock whispered behind the phone with a smile. "Let's indeed...ok start talking!"

"Hi, I'm Molly Hooper. My...friend, Sherlock, has nominated me for this challenge. Let's all be mindful of this dreadful disease, ALS, which can do such awful things to people. As most of you know, I work in a hospital morgue, and..." Molly's voice trailed off as Sherlock began vigorously shaking his head from behind the phone.

"Oh, right, sorry...Ok, Wiggins, just do it!" Molly finally said, and shut her eyes.

Molly's scream echoed through the back alley of Baker Street as the frigid water sloshed over her and soaked her. She pushed her hair off her face as she struggled to take normal breaths.

"Oh- Oh my God...Ok, um, I now nominate Greg Lestrade, and Sally Donovan." Sherlock was sure he saw a slightly pleased look on her face when she uttered Sally's name. "Ok, bye!"

Sherlock put the phone down and strolled over to her. He leisurely took the towel off from his own shoulders as he grinned down at the shivering Molly.

"Looking a bit chilled, Molly," he said with a chuckle as he wrapped the towel around her shoulders. "Sorry, the towel's damp."

"God, I hate you right now," she said with a shaky giggle. "Let's go inside. And I demand to take a warm shower first."

Once Sherlock and Molly were both showered, dried, and changed, both videos were emailed to Anderson. And Anderson did indeed only narrowly avoid having a joy infused heart attack as he added the videos to his blog.


Chapter Text

"Thank you, Sherlock, that's really very sweet of you," Mary said with a smile.

"Well, baby things...not really my area. But I figured I could arrange a way for you to get home today that was a bit nicer than a cab. Cabbies can't always be trusted." Sherlock strolled over with hands locked behind him and peered down to where Elizabeth Mary Watson was lying on Mary's lap.

"Well thank Mycroft for us. That was nice of him to let us use a driver of his...and uh, thanks for the flowers too, Sherlock," John said with a look of amusement.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Yes, I know...the flowers are from my parents. They made me bring them. And now thanks to them, the reporters outside assume that I was bringing flowers to Molly!"

"Maybe you should be!" Mary sang out.

Sherlock gave her a weary grin. "Molly's not working today."

"Another time then," she said with a shrug and a wink.

Mary then hoisted Elizabeth up and onto her shoulder and patted her back, since she had begun squirming and fussing a bit.

"Want to hold her before you leave, Sherlock?" Mary questioned. "You'd better do it now, since I'll have to feed her again soon."

"I um...suppose." Sherlock looked a little nervous, but removed his coat. He sat down on the side of Mary's hospital bed.

Mary carefully placed the little wrinkly bundle into Sherlock's arms and he began to worry that he shouldn't have accepted this offer. He had no idea what to do now.

"It's all right, Sherlock, you can relax," Mary said giving his back a little pat.

The feeling of the stiff and unyielding arms cradling her made Elizabeth start to fuss a little.

"I- I don't think she wants me to hold her..." Sherlock began to protest to Mary.

"She's all right. Just use your right hand under her to pat her back. You can pat pretty firmly too. That usually calms babies."

Sherlock began the rhythmic patting and it also made him relax a bit as Elizabeth calmed down again. John walked over closer and smiled down at Sherlock who gave a still slightly nervous smile in return.

"You'll get used to it," John said with a short laugh at the image before him which was so very different from anything he'd ever seen of Sherlock Holmes.

"Either that or she'll just grow up terrified of me." He chuckled, but found himself staring at the little face without wanting to look away. Finally he looked back at Mary.

"Oh, and Molly wanted me to ask if she could drop by and visit in a few days."

"Sure, that's fine! I'd love that. Just tell her to text me," Mary replied brightly.

Sherlock sat there for another minute, then he heard his mobile alert in his pocket. "Well, I'd better get that, and I'll let the three of you get ready to head home."

Sherlock placed Elizabeth back in Mary's arms and stood up. He placed a kiss on Mary's cheek and shook John's hand.

"Congratulations, you have your real baby now." He grinned at them both before turning and walking out of the hospital room.

Mary sighed and shook her head at John. "I still like our practice baby too. Let's keep him around a while."


Sherlock took out his mobile as he walked down the hospital hallway, and he opened the text message he'd received.

HI! I FEEL JUST AWFUL I HAVEN'T BEEN IN TOUCH. I'VE BEEN SO BUSY! I'M A POPULAR MAN AGAIN. MY LIFE CERTAINLY ISN'T BORING...UNLIKE YOURS. -JM

Sherlock's eyes doubled in size and then he broke out in a run as he read the second text.

SO DOMESTIC NOW AREN'T YOU? THERE'S THE WATSON BABY, AND THERE'S MOLLY...HOW IS MOLLY? HOW IS YOUR LITTLE LIVE IN ANGEL? I BET SHE LOOKS REAL PRETTY ALL COZY AT BAKER STREET...I WONDER WHAT SHE'S DOING RIGHT NOW...BYE!- JM

With shaking hands he dialed Molly's mobile. Pick up pick up pick up, he chanted in his head. But it rang till it went to her voice mail. He began firing off texts to her as he flew down the stairs, and then out the door to hail a cab.

"Hurry up please, this is an emergency!" Sherlock yelled at the cabbie as it drove to Baker Street. As they drove along, he tried calling her again. When the cab finally stopped at Baker Street, Sherlock threw a much larger bill than necessary into the front seat and leapt out.

He flew up the stairs, going two steps at a time, till he had gotten to Molly's room. He walked in the door that had been left open, and instantly saw she wasn't there. So he flew back down to his floor and opened the door.

"Molly?" Sherlock called as he walked in and began scanning the room frantically. He knew she wasn't supposed to be working today, and she hadn't said anything about any schedule change when they'd briefly run into each other the day before.

Sherlock walked through the kitchen and into the hall and saw the bathroom door was closed. He knocked rapidly. "Molly? Are you in there?"

He immediately heard a bump, but no answer. He knocked again. "Molly! If you're in there, I need you to answer me!" Nothing.

His hand went to the door knob and he tried it, but it was locked. Then he heard another noise inside. It sounded like the shower curtain.

"Molly! I do not want to break this door down, but if you don't answer me I'm going to! Can you please say something?" He knocked firmly again for good measure. He heard another thud.

"That's it," he whispered fiercely to himself. Sherlock threw his coat off and stood back from the door. He lifted his leg up and kicked hard right below the knob. He kicked once, then twice causing the wood to crack, and then the door flew open.

He looked around the small bathroom and all he saw was a brief movement of the shower curtain. Sherlock pressed his lips tightly together, then grasped the curtain and quickly pulled it aside...

Toby stared up at him with ears pinned back against his head.

Sherlock let out a heavy breath. He placed his hands on his hips and let his head hang down for a moment as he breathed deeply, then he looked back at the fuzzy animal who was then happily batting at the edge of the shower curtain.

"What do you say we don't mention this little incident to Molly, hmm? I'd say you're just as much at fault as I am. Right then, it's a deal."

He was just about to go search in his bedroom, just in case, when his mobile began ringing. Sherlock bent down and grabbed his coat from where it then lay on the floor, and fished the phone from his pocket. He saw Molly's name on the screen.

"Molly?"

"Hi. You called me?"

Sherlock took another quick deep breath. "Yes, um...everything all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"

"Oh, nothing really. Just, uh, checking...Oh!" Sherlock exclaimed, excited to remember a legitimate reason for his phoning. "Mary told me you can just text her whenever you'd like to come visit with her and the baby."

"Oh good. Thanks...You texted me three times though. You asked me where I was..."

"Well, I...thought you weren't working today."

"Well, yes, but I had a dentist appointment."

"Ah." Sherlock began pacing slowly around the flat. "And you're coming back now?"

"Well, I'm at the market right now. I'm not far. But I'll probably be a little bit since I was going to walk back to Baker Street."

Sherlock began slipping his arms in his coat. "Right, well, I was just about to head in that direction actually. So I'll just meet you there."

"Oh...really? Well, all right. I'll um, wait outside for you when I'm done then."

"I'll be there in ten minutes." Sherlock descended the stairs again and went to hail another cab.


Ten minutes later, he did indeed arrive at the corner market and he stood outside waiting for Molly with his hands in his coat pockets. He began to go over the text messages from Moriarty in his mind. They were menacing, no doubt. But did he really threaten her? No. In fact, what Moriarty said was that he was a busy man. And it begged the question, did Moriarty even care about the welfare of Molly Hooper? Did he care to use time in his now "busy" schedule to take any action against her? Sherlock didn't know. And he supposed that was the problem. Because in not knowing, he felt he had to assume she was in danger.

"Hi!"

Sherlock was pulled from the questions in his mind by the brief touch on his shoulder. Molly stood there holding her tote and a couple bags from the market.

"Hello," he greeted her with a brief smile. "Here, I'll take one."

"Thanks." But just as Molly was about to hand Sherlock one of the bags, she looked to her left and made unfortunate and unexpected eye contact with someone.

"Well...hello, Molly."

There stood Tom. He had addressed Molly, but almost immediately had then turned his focus on Sherlock.

Sherlock smiled and shook his head as he looked of into the distance and sighed. "This day just keeps getting better and better," he muttered to himself.

"Tom, hi. We were um, just leaving actually." Molly tried to turn and start on her way, but Tom continued talking.

"I suppose we were bound to run into each other sooner or later. May as well get this out eh?" Tom said with a pointed stare at Sherlock.

Sherlock chuckled. "And exactly what did you need to get out, Tom?"

"You," Tom said with heated gaze, "crossed a line."

Sherlock's brow furrowed in mock question. "You'll need to be more specific, Tom. Exactly what sort of line are you referring to? I do, in fact, cross lots of lines. Let's see, there's police lines, there's dividing lines in the street..."

"Sherlock," Molly said in a soft warning tone.

"I'm talking about the line of appropriate behavior, you idiot. But I'm sure you know that already. And I'm sure you don't care, based on what I know of you. But maybe you should care what sort of position it puts Molly in."

"Oh right! Caring about what sort of position Molly is put in..." Sherlock glared at Tom and his voice lowered considerably. "Would that prevent someone from selling to a sleazy reporter, the details of the time she secretly defied the danger of an insane criminal mastermind and aided me in faking my death?"

Tom clenched his jaw. "What does it matter?! Everyone knows you're alive now! That story just proved that you've been dangling her on a string for years."

"Everyone knows I'm alive, but not everyone knew Molly played a part in it! And in connecting her to that event, you may have made her a target for Moriarty! I know you're feeling bad about yourself because of being rejected, but is putting her life in danger really what you want?!"

Tom laughed a little, and pointed at Molly then. "In going to her for help, you put her in danger! Don't blame that on me!"

Sherlock looked ready to give a biting answer, but Molly cut in.

"Tom, stop! I'd offered to help him before he came to me. I told him I'd do anything, and he needed someone he could trust."

"Right," Tom said bitterly. "Someone he could trust. Forever loyal to him. And I saw it the minute he came back too. I thought about ending it right then, I really did. But I hoped you loved me as much as I did you. I guess I should have seen that was never going to happen."

"Indeed. Would have saved you some time," Sherlock stated matter-of-factly.

Tom looked angrily back at Sherlock. "Why can't you just let her be happy? It's sick, this- this...hold you have over her! You leave for two years, and you still think you can have her back after all that time. You left her alone, and you lost her. You...you don't deserve her. You don't even deserve her friendship."

Sherlock stared back at Tom for a moment and all he could think was, Maybe I don't deserve her, but I would bet my life that I never really lost her. He knew he shouldn't purposefully try to make things worse, but he couldn't help getting in this little dig. Well, maybe not so little.

"It seems you're still feeling rather badly, Tom. Understandable, I'd say. You probably could use a nice night out. Perhaps go to a pub for a drink with some friends. Maybe you'll even meet a nice girl. And who knows...maybe this time she won't approach you only because she wishes you were somebody else." Sherlock's lips curled in a slow smile of satisfaction.

Molly's jaw dropped as the words left Sherlock's mouth. She looked at Tom and saw the way his face got red, and she knew this was about the angriest she had ever seen him. She was about to step in and say something, or do something, to diffuse the situation...but she was too late.

Tom pulled his arm back, but with Sherlock being Sherlock it may as well have been in slow motion. The detective instantly avoided the sad attempt at a punch, and Tom instead was the one that got a fist in his face.

Tom fell back against the pavement and lay there groaning and holding his cheek. A couple people came over and began to try and help him. Sherlock walked a few steps away, shaking his now throbbing hand. Molly stepped a bit closer to Tom and made her final statement.

"Look, I never should have been with you. It wasn't fair to you. But you've behaved like a child the past few weeks, and so I fail to feel bad for you anymore. I do hope you find happiness though...and I hope you can respect the fact that I'm happy. I love my friends, and I'll never be ashamed to call them such. And that includes Sherlock." Molly paused, and almost turned, but then she looked down at him again and emphasized. "Especially Sherlock."

Molly did walk away then and began taking quick steps along with Sherlock as he walked down the street.

"What do you say we take a cab, just in case?" He stopped and began to look for one to flag down. "I'd really hate to still be here in case Lestrade shows up because someone decided to call the authorities."

Molly couldn't help but snort out a laugh at the whole situation as a cab came to a halt and they climbed in to head back to Baker Street.


Molly put the few food items away and puttered around the kitchen. They hadn't spoken much after the incident with Tom on the street. Molly couldn't stop replaying the final heated words that Sherlock had spoken to Tom. They'd shocked her. Not really because he'd say something that was so cutting. Sherlock said cutting things, he had for years, and he probably always would. Not surprising. It was more shocking because of the tone of his saying it. There was...pride. He sounded proud about the fact that Molly would never have even bothered with the man, had it not been for the fact that she wanted to believe that Sherlock was standing before her.

Sherlock is still just a man, she reminded herself. This simple explanation both doused her thoughts with ice water, and simultaneously fanned the flames. He was just a man, so of course he'd enjoy holding this over some other man's head. The idea that Tom was just second best. But then...this meant that somewhere, deep down, he was pleased at the thought of being that important to her; more important than this man who she almost married.

But really, Sherlock is just a man underneath it all. And the internal debate continued over and over.

A couple of minutes later, Sherlock came strolling into the kitchen with one sleeve rolled up. "Were you possibly planning on making any tea?" He sat down as he asked this and put down a first aid kit on the table.

Molly frowned as she saw the first aid kit, and then looked at his hand that he'd laid on top of the table.

"Oh my God! How did that happen?!" Molly asked, seeing his knuckles with a cut on them.

"It seems I made contact with some teeth," he said with a slight grimace.

"I'll make tea after I take care of this."

"It's fine, I was going to do it."

"No, it'll be easier for me to do it...I want to." She sat down next to him and began opening the first aid kit, without his giving any answer.

Sherlock watched her silently as she took out the items needed, and then took hold of his cut hand with almost imperceptible hesitance. He watched her eyes flicker up to his for a second before starting to clean the cut.

"Sorry if this stings."

Sherlock didn't even flinch. He was focused on watching her as her gaze remained fixed on his hand. It felt strange to have her tiny hand cradling his much larger one. It shouldn't work so well, shouldn't fit so well, but it absolutely did. He watched as her face got a bit pink every few moments, and he saw how she nervously chewed her lip, and how she kept almost looking back up at him but seemed to stop herself. He suddenly realized that his fingers were resting right on the pulse in her wrist. If he just applied a tiny bit more pressure...

No, he knew he didn't even need to. He didn't need science and solid evidence when it came to Molly Hooper. He knew that she loved him. He was acutely aware of it by now, and he didn't need to acquire one bit more of evidence. Case closed, he thought with an internal smirk...but he also had to fight a subsequent sinking feeling in his stomach.

"You're a brave patient," she finally said, breaking the silence and giving him a brief smile.

"I have had a bit worse. Besides, I didn't want to alarm you. You're not used to your patients complaining."

Molly chuckled as she began getting a bandage out. "So, um...I guess that went moderately well, don't you think? I mean, nobody ended up in hospital. That's something."

"Yes, well, I made sure to hit him hard enough that he'd be unlikely to try and say anything else. Because if he did, he probably would have ended up in hospital."

"He's just...bitter. He didn't have a leg to stand on, and I think even he knew it. Nothing he said was- I mean, I think it's all rubbish, and I don't agree with any of it, and- and I hope you didn't feel like..."

"Molly," he said softly, and that made her look up from her rambling and make eye contact. He made the air catch in her throat for a moment as the fingers of his hand very slightly closed around her wrist.

"I don't care what Tom thinks about me, if that's what worries you. I'd never believe you capable of being scared off by some stupid opinion. If you say you're my friend, if that's what you want...then you're my friend," he stated simply and firmly.

Molly blinked and tried to resist curling her own fingers tighter around his cool hand. If that's what you want, she thought. She wondered if Sherlock knew what she really wanted. He had to know. But he seemed to dance around it so artfully. She was both frustrated and grateful for this. Because she was always afraid that if it came pouring out in all its naked honesty, she would really lose him for good, because he wouldn't be able to handle it.

"I'd never want...anything less. You know that." She punctuated the statement with a brief smile.

He only nodded. Molly felt his fingers draw back a little then. She quickly applied the bandage on his knuckles and smoothed it.

"Ok, well, you should be all set now...How about that tea?" she suggested and jumped up quickly.

They were quiet for a while as Molly made the tea, gave some to Sherlock, and they both sat sipping the hot liquid. Suddenly Sherlock spoke up again.

"Oh, by the way...you may notice that the bathroom door is in a bit of disrepair."

"Oh really?" Molly peered down the hall and noticed the crack in the wood. "Wow! How did that happen?"

"Little...incident with Toby. One of us must have left the lock on the knob turned and probably a draft shut the door. Toby was unfortunately inside. I had to get the door open...with force." Sherlock cleared his throat and looked a little nervous.

"Well, thanks. I'm sure you could have taken the time to pick the lock though. Toby wasn't about to die or anything!" Molly said with a laugh.

"Well you...never know." Sherlock went back to sipping his tea.


Later that evening, Sherlock had gone out on a case. Molly had made herself some eggs for dinner and relaxed a bit. She decided to take a shower while he was out, especially since that bathroom door seemed a bit unreliable at the moment.

Molly took a leisurely shower and then got out, grabbing her towel. When she grabbed her towel and wrapped it around herself, she realized that the only thing she'd brought in addition to her towel...was her pajama shorts. She groaned to herself, realizing that she must have thought she grabbed all her clothes, when she had really left more than half of them on her bed upstairs.

She dried off and put her shorts on, then wrapped herself back up in the towel. She really, really didn't want to leave the bathroom in this towel...

Molly inched the door open a bit and listened. She heard absolutely nothing in the flat.

"Sherlock?" she called out.

Still nothing. So at least he wasn't home. Though she was still nervous to venture out, seeing as she had no clue when he'd be back...that's when she happen to look at the back of the door. Hanging there, probably from the last time Sherlock had taken a shower, was his dark purple dress shirt.

She stared at it, and chewed her lip in thought. It was certainly more modest than a towel. But what would be worse to be caught in? Molly sighed and slowly took the shirt off the hook. She discarded the towel and carefully, as if she thought it just might bite, pulled his shirt up her arms and over her shoulders.

Molly began doing up the buttons, and in the process, had her head down so that she caught the scent coming from the collar. She actually let out an audible groan of appreciation, and then clamped her hand over her mouth to stop the laughter. But honestly, she couldn't help it. The shirt smelled like heaven itself. And she realized that it was now familiar too. More than once in the past few weeks, she'd been close enough to Sherlock to know this smell. That made it all the more appealing. She began to think she never should have put this shirt on.

Molly slowly opened the door then and peered out. She tugged at the bottom of the shirt over and over again, even though she did have the shorts on too. Toby followed her as she made her way down the hall, and he wound around her legs while mewing.

"Shh!" Molly chided him, then shook her head at herself because she was being so ridiculous. What difference did it make if Toby mewed or not? Would that somehow alert the men's dress shirt police?!

Molly finally got to the door and was feeling like she'd basically made it. She had just about reached out to open it...when it opened on its own. Oh, but not on its own. It opened because Sherlock had just opened it...and there he stood, now staring at her.

Molly's face turned shades that almost matched the shirt she wore, as she stood there frozen under his gaze. He looked...angry? No, maybe not angry. Probably more like shocked.

Sherlock's eyes traveled up and down the woman before him like lightening and he had the urge to blurt out, Molly Hooper, are you doing this to me on purpose?! His eyes narrowed and he pressed his lips together, hesitating before he actually said anything.

"Molly..." His eyes darted away for a second before coming back to her face. "Hi."

Molly let out a shaky laugh and continued turning redder by the second. "H- Hi...I um, seemed to have forgotten the rest of my clothes upstairs when I had a shower. I happen to see this on the back of the door, so I just um...thought I'd borrow it for a moment. Just to, you know, grab my clothes upstairs."

All right, he thought. That sounds legitimate. Though that didn't make it any less torturous for him in that moment. Sherlock thought he'd seen Molly at her most beautiful before, but this seemed to be even better. Probably even preferable to the nighty he'd seen a couple days before. Yes, this was much much better.

Sherlock cleared his throat and tried to look elsewhere. "Right, that's um...fine. I don't mind. You can...borrow it any time you'd like." He then felt like a fool. Why would she need to borrow it on a regular basis?

"Um, thanks. Well I better just..." She made a gesture toward the stairs that he was still blocking her way to.

"Oh! Yes, go ahead," he said, stepping aside.

Molly slipped past him and he heard her start up the stairs. She stopped though, and called back to him.

"Oh and, Sherlock?"

He turned to see her peering back down at him around the corner of the stairs.

"You might want to wait a while in case you were going to use the shower. I only just took mine, and there probably isn't any hot water left," she said with an apologetic expression.

Sherlock nodded and smiled as Molly disappeared up the stairs.

Sherlock flung his scarf and coat off, throwing them over onto his chair as he then headed down the hallway. He muttered under his breath, "I think that will work out just fine."

Chapter Text

"I'm pretty tired, I'm not sure how I'll survive this first year. And I don't know how Mary is doing it! She's up much more than I am, with feeding Lizzie."

"She's got the added fuel of hormones, John. You don't," Sherlock stated flatly as he typed away on his laptop.

John peered over his shoulder from his chair and then looked back at Sherlock. "So...any more wardrobe malfunctions?" he asked with a sly smile.

"Shh!" Sherlock hissed at him with a sideways frown.

"Just wondering!" John laughed.

A moment later, Mrs. Hudson came through the door carrying a tray with some tea.

"I'm so glad you came by, John! I miss making tea for both of you," she cooed.

"Thanks, Mrs. Hudson." John squeezed her hand.

"And I brought up the gift bag. You can bring this back with you, for Mary and the baby." She handed John the decorative bag.

"That's really nice, Mrs. Hudson. I know Mary will appreciate it."

"Oh!" Mrs. Hudson exclaimed at remembering something. "And I almost forgot, I brought some papers up. Here, look at this one! Surely this isn't real is it?" she asked with a giggle.

Mrs. Hudson handed Sherlock a tabloid paper with a picture of Molly on the front. Sherlock's eyes widened immediately as he examined the brief article. John came around behind him, seeing as Sherlock wasn't saying anything out loud. Instead, John read the headline.

"'What Can We Deduce? Is Baby Holmes On The Way?' Oh my God," John murmured.

"Suppose I should have seen this coming," Sherlock finally said.

"I do hope you'd tell me, Sherlock, if it were true!" Mrs. Hudson gave him a little poke in the arm.

"Oh relax! We're not expecting!" he said in irritation.

"Who's not expecting?"

They looked over as Molly had just walked in. She momentarily switched gears though. She came over and gave John a kiss on the cheek.

"Hi, John. Congratulation! Hope Mary and Elizabeth are doing well."

"Yep, they are, thanks. We're all tried, but uh, what can you do?" he said with a laugh.

"Right...so what's this?" Molly questioned again, looking again at how the three of them all stood around the same newspaper.

"Another stupid tabloid article about us, that's all." Sherlock didn't attempt to hide it. He turned it so that she could see.

Molly's eyes zeroed in on the page and she slowly took the paper from Sherlock and held it herself so she could examine it more closely.

"It figures they'd do that!" John said with a good natured laugh, and gave her a little pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Molly, you are just about the least pregnant looking woman I know. Believe me, I know what a pregnant woman looks like!"

"It's just the top you were wearing," Mrs. Hudson chimed in, also trying to keep the conversation upbeat and light. "It's an empire waist, and those make just about everybody look pregnant! And those photographers always find the absolute worst angle for pictures like that."

"And naturally they'd be clever enough to use a shot where your hand is near your stomach. But you can tell it's just because of how you're holding your bag! It's unbelievable how they can make things look eh?" John went on, shaking his head and chuckling a bit more.

But slowly the three of them began to observe Molly more closely. She still gripped the edges of the paper and stared at the picture and words in front of her. She wasn't laughing at all, and was very quiet. But they could see that her face was becoming a little pink. John and Mrs. Hudson exchanged a look.

"Molly?" Mrs. Hudson said gently.

Suddenly Molly raised her head up, blinking rapidly. She shoved the paper back at Sherlock, and he took it. She gave a quick and clearly forced smile at the three of them, and then began to look very uncomfortable.

"I'll um, I actually have to go...back upstairs. I think I forgot something. I'll just- just, see you all later then...Oh! Um, I'll be over later, John, to um, see Mary. Right, ok, I'll just..." Molly then made a quick exit and went back up the stairs to her room, and all three sets of eyes followed her.

"Oh dear," Mrs. Hudson said quietly. "She didn't take that very well."

"I don't understand," Sherlock said to them. "All sorts of silly things have been said about us. Why is this so troubling? It'll just blow over eventually, like everything else. I think people will probably catch on when no baby shows up in nine months!"

"I'm sorry boys, I'll have to leave this to you. I've got a lunch with friends. Hope you can sort it all out...poor girl," she muttered on her way out the door.

"Women take something like that pretty personally, Sherlock. No woman wants to be told she looks pregnant. In fact, maybe not even the pregnant ones till they're about six months along!"

"But you told her she doesn't look pregnant!" Sherlock gestured toward the stairs.

"Well maybe she'd like to hear that from you as well. You should go talk to her. She needs someone to talk to her right now, I can tell."

"She's...upset! You go talk to her. Not my area!" Sherlock said, looking terrified.

John shook his head. "No, Sherlock. No. This is in fact your area. You know why?" John then lowered his voice and leaned in. "Because you are in love with Molly, you are. I am not."

Sherlock sighed and threw his hands up as he said, "Why did I ever tell you that?!"

"Probably because somewhere inside your head, you knew that you'd need someone to remind you of it every five minutes."

"Why? You think I forget?" Sherlock frowned at him.

"Actually, I think you try to, yeah. Look, just go talk to her. You don't have to say anything brilliant, just be there and maybe she'll do the talking."

Sherlock stared back at him and then glanced at the door. "Fine. But if she slaps me again, I'm blaming it on you!"

John went for the door as well. "I don't know, maybe more likely she'd kiss you than slap you."

"Not what I'm going for!" he hissed as he began to head upstairs.

"Whatever you say, Sherlock."

John left down the stairs and Sherlock continued up till he'd reached Molly's closed door. He stood there for a second and hesitated before finally knocking.

"John?" came the response from inside.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. Even Molly knows this shouldn't be me.

"No, it's Sherlock."

"Oh...come in," she called.

Sherlock stepped in the room and closed the door behind him. Molly sniffed a little and looked up briefly from where she sat on her bed. She was trying not to look like she'd been crying, but obviously she had. He stood there a few feet away, thinking that he should have asked John exactly how he was supposed to start this conversation.

"Did John go?" Molly asked.

"Mm, yes. Mrs. Hudson had a lunch date as well."

Molly nodded while looking at her hands.

Sherlock groaned inwardly and decided to just jump right in. "You are aware, I hope, that you do not in fact appear pregnant."

Molly's eyes shot up and her eyebrows rose in some surprise. Sherlock continued, uncomfortable with the silence.

"Aside, of course, from the possibility of it being extremely early in a pregnancy. In that case almost any woman could be pregnant, it doesn't have to be apparent by the size of her belly. That would require a more trained eye though. The signs would be less obvious. Perhaps a difference in the look of the skin, or the texture of the hair, or slight increase in breast size...but it's unlikely that your average reporters would pick up on things like that. They simply took advantage of a good camera angle. And I'm not entirely sure they didn't even employ some use of photo shopping to make-"

"Sherlock!" Molly stopped him finally.

"Hm?"

"I- I'm not upset because I think I look pregnant," she said with a short laugh.

He paused. "Oh...right. Well that's...good then." Sherlock realized that this meant the cause of her distress remained mysterious. He remembered what John said, and decided to stop talking and just wait. Sherlock took a seat at the little desk near the bed.

"Look, I'm sorry, I'm just being silly," Molly said with an embarrassed shake of her head.

"It's...fine."

"I know I shouldn't let it upset me. You're right, it's just another stupid article, and it doesn't mean anything...It's just..."

Sherlock realized that this was what John meant. Apparently she'd just start talking, almost without prompting.

"This just hurts more because...well, being a mum, or even having a mum always meant so much to me. I'm not even saying that I want to be a mum right now. But I didn't have my mum for most of my life. So the idea was almost, I don't know...sacred. Whenever I thought about the idea of having a child, the idea both fascinated and terrified me. Kind of like when you look up in the sky and see an innumerable amount of stars. It's almost too much to take in."

She paused and looked at Sherlock who sat watching her as she spoke, but he didn't react much. As he listened, he was actually recalling the unusual reaction he'd seen her have the other day in the morgue. But in hindsight, it made perfect sense that Molly would have reacted in such a way at seeing that the dead woman had been pregnant. Molly went on after she'd drawn a deep breath.

"So, to see the idea of motherhood being taken so lightly and almost made fun of...it got to me a little. I know it's just me being overly sensitive. I should just laugh it off!" she said giving a little smile.

"No, it's...understandable," he said, trying to make an effort to respond appropriately.

"And of course on top of my own feelings on being a mother, there's the ridiculousness of the whole idea! Somehow that makes it worse. I mean it's you, and..." Molly hesitated and began to turn a little red in the cheeks.

"You mean..." Sherlock began with a shifty gaze. "Because we're not actually together?"

"Well, yes. But it's even more bizarre than that, isn't it? I mean, here I am, single and childless. I've never even had as much as a pregnancy scare in fact! And suddenly the papers have an article about me being pregnant. And not just by anyone! They're claiming I'm having the baby of a man who couldn't physically have gotten me pregnant!" She threw her little hands up for a second and laughed nervously at the fact that she'd just been so frank about the whole situation.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at her, and then couldn't help the smirk that developed as he said, "Sorry, do you know something about my reproductive health that I'm unaware of?"

Molly turned redder and laughed again. "You know what I mean. I suppose I don't mean you couldn't. I just mean you, you know...wouldn't."

When they'd made eye contact again, the smirks were gone and their expressions had turned a bit more serious. Sherlock smiled briefly and broke the thickness of the air between them.

"Well, I think we've established the fact that the media doesn't know us at all. This instance is certainly no exception." Sherlock stood from the little chair at the desk and Molly stood as well. "I am sorry you were...hurt by this."

Molly smiled up at him and shrugged. "It's ok. I'll be just fine soon, no problem."

"And you do deserve to enjoy becoming a mother one day, if that's what you want. I'm sure one day the time will be right. And it'll be without the bother of the media and pictures," he smiled.

Molly smiled back, but sadness crept in as well. He was as much as saying, you'll have a child with someone else. And no matter how illogical it was, she couldn't see past him, and look with any hope to a future family...because he felt like family.

She could only quietly answer back, "Perhaps."

Sherlock nodded and turned to exit the room again. As he did, he asked, "You're still going to see Mary, yes?"

"I am, in a few hours."

"I believe I'll share a cab. Mycroft sent me a number of files on what they've got on Moriarty. I'd like to make some sort of a map of where we believe him to be working right now. It'll give us some idea of where he's focusing his attention. Perhaps make it easier to track him down. I'll get John's help."

"You need his help for that?"

Sherlock tilted his head as he thought about that. "Perhaps not. More like, I need him there so I can talk out loud and work it all out." He smiled again.

As he was about to leave the room, something suddenly snapped in Molly. She really was deeply moved by the fact that Sherlock would even bother to come upstairs and check on her at all. Even if it was probably at John's urging.

"Sherlock!" Molly actually reached down and gently grasped his hand, stopping him short. She saw how his eyes shot down to the now captured hand, and then looked back to her with a shocked expression. "I just, um...that was nice. Thanks for talking to me. Or actually, just listening to me talk. Which is fine! I think that was...what I needed. So, um..."

And then Molly did something she'd never done before. But this seemed like an appropriate time to do it. While still keeping light hold of his hand, she got up on tiptoes and quickly pressed a little kiss to his cool cheek. It was too fast to make fireworks go off or even make her want anything more. But it was lovely. And there was something really thrilling in the knowledge of, I just gave Sherlock a kiss. She felt pleased with herself.

That is, until she fully pulled away, let go of his hand, and examined his face.

Sherlock's eyes were like saucers, and she could actually see his chest rising and falling in heavy breaths. He looked a little...horrified? Molly kicked herself inwardly, and reminded herself that this was why she didn't do things like that with Sherlock. This was the sort of reaction she'd get.

"Yeah, um, thanks again...is what I mean to say," she managed to push out.

Sherlock nodded quickly. "Y- you're...welcome. I'll um, see you in a few hours, Molly."

Sherlock then made a quick exit from her room, and Molly was left alone to collapse on her bed and do a serious face palm.


A few hours later, Sherlock and Molly were arriving at the Watson's home. John let them in and looked surprised to see Sherlock.

"Oh! Hi, I didn't realize you were coming too."

"Of course I'm here too. We've got work to do, John," he said matter-of-factly as he slipped past him and pulled his gloves off.

"W- work? I was just about to go get take away!" John complained.

"Well you can listen to me talk while you do. I'm sure you miss it," Sherlock said with a sly grin, and then went into the sitting room where Mary was with the baby.

"Oh desperately," John muttered under his breath.

Molly took a seat on the couch and said a hushed hello to Mary who was holding a sleeping Elizabeth.

"Oh, Mary, she's lovely!" Molly cooed, looking at the little face.

"Thanks. I know she's just a little sleeping lump, but you're welcome to hold her."

Molly nodded excitedly and took off her coat and scarf. She settled into the couch and Mary carefully transferred the sleeping bundle. Molly gazed happily at the peaceful little face in her arms before looking back at Mary.

"How are you feeling?"

"I'm all right." She shrugged. "Tired more than anything. I think she's hitting a growth spurt right now. Seems to be eating more than sleeping!"

Sherlock came over and peered closer at the baby in Molly's arms. "I think she's a bit less wrinkly than a few days ago, Mary. Looking a bit more like you and less like John now."

"Shut up, Sherlock," John added automatically.

"Sorry about the article today, Molly." Mary grimaced and touched Molly's shoulder.

Molly shook her head and smiled. "It's fine. I'm over it now. I should be used to all this by now anyway. I should make a meme for myself now. 'Keep Calm and Check Social Media.'"

Mary laughed. "It's ok to let it get to you sometimes. It'd understandable. No way to 'Keep Calm' all the time."

John popped in the room. "Right, I guess Sherlock is coming with me to get the take away. We might be a while. It seems he wants to work as well." He sighed.

"It's important, John! I've got to keep track of Moriarty. Not everything is about you and your new baby!" But Sherlock gave Mary a quick wink.

"Ok, let's go." John went for the door.

"Sherlock, you haven't even kissed the baby yet and now you're leaving again! What kind of uncle are you?" Mary teased.

Sherlock gave her a withered look, but came back over to the couch. Molly's heart rate double as Sherlock sat down next to her and leaned down over the baby.

"I thought I'd done well to compliment you on filling out a bit, but apparently I have to give you a kiss too, Elizabeth."

Mary observed as Sherlock lean down and pressed his lips to the tiny forehead. And she noticed the very brief look that passed between him and Molly as he raised his head back up. And then Sherlock quickly stood and smiled at them before leaving with John.

They heard the door shut and the men fly down the steps.

After a moment, Mary giggled. "That was adorable. You don't get to see Sherlock being affectionate too often. I should just make him give us all kisses whenever he sees us."

"Oh, I don't know. Probably not a good idea...I might end up jumping on top of him one day."

Mary let out a peal of laughter and then clapped a hand over her mouth in hopes of not waking the baby. Molly turned beet red and began laughing as well, trying not to move too much, also for the sake of the baby. They took a minute to calm down, and then Molly spoke again.

"Sorry, I'm sorry! I can't believe I just said that out loud!" she said, still laughing a little.

"Oh God, please don't apologize! That was...oh, I needed that. And don't feel funny. I hope you know you can, you know, talk to me. If you needed someone to talk to. I'm sure it's not always easy."

Molly smiled shyly. "Thanks. And I guess there's nobody better than you to talk to. Though I'm sure I don't actually have to tell you how I feel. I'm probably stupidly obvious!" she said, blushing all over again.

"No! You act like his friend, that's all. But I am a woman, so I can see what's going on too...Have you ever told him? I mean just, straight out told him?"

Molly looked a little sad. "Well, no. But I mean, he knows, Mary...he knows. It doesn't matter."

Mary bit her tongue. She had to bite it to within an inch of its life. It absolutely killed her to see Molly sitting there, firmly believing that nothing she did would make an impact on Sherlock's feelings, when Mary knew in reality that just about everything the woman did impacted Sherlock's feelings! But no matter how badly she wanted to see them both happy and together, she was also determined to respect Sherlock's wishes. And she'd never dream of breaking his confidence in John or herself. She knew she needed to tread lightly.

"But, Molly, him knowing is different from actually telling him. It is different. And I know you get nervous around him sometimes and blush and laugh...but have you shown him how you feel? I mean really showed him?"

"W- what do you mean when you say show him?" Molly asked slowly.

"Well, I know Sherlock doesn't miss a lot when it comes to details. But he does miss emotional subtleties. So, it could be that he doesn't find your feelings as obvious as you think he does. Do you do things to physically show him how you feel?"

"Physically?" Molly asked looking nervous.

Mary nodded. "You ever tried being, you know, affectionate?"

Molly sighed. "Well, um, funny you should ask. You see, I sort of did something today, and I don't think it went over very well...I kissed him on the cheek."

Mary's eyes widened. "Really? What happened?"

"He looked, um...pretty horrified. Walked away pretty quickly, and he looked like he might spontaneously combust."

Mary had to contain a smile. Yeah, I bet he almost did, she thought.

"Look, Molly, don't forget about fear. Sherlock has fears just like us. They just aren't the same fears. He may not fear a serial killer, but he's pretty terrified of emotions. I think that much is clear. I don't think a reaction like that means that he's actually horrified at the idea of you. I mean, let's not forget, not long ago he grabbed you and gave you one of the hottest kisses I've ever seen! That isn't meaningless."

Molly smiled a little. "I suppose."

"Just...think about it ok? What have you got to lose by giving him a bit of a push? If you're right, and he knows and he's not interested, then you'll get that from him. But it could also be that he just needs a bit of a push out of his comfort zone. Either way, you don't want to have any regrets."

Molly took a deep breath and smiled at Mary. "Yeah, you're right. I really don't want any regrets...So, did you have to do something like that with John?"

Mary snorted out a laugh. "Oh please! I think I had to beat John off with a stick! They're just a bit different aren't they?"

Soon after, Elizabeth woke up and the two of them changed her before coming back to sit on the couch. A little while later the two men came back to the flat. John walked in rolling his eyes and Sherlock followed behind talking incessantly.

"And so, based on the pattern of crimes, it does seem that he's making his way back toward London. In fact he could be near the London area as we speak. Although he keeps himself out of the light, in the case of most criminal activity, it is my belief that he's usually physically close by..."

"Please, God, can we just eat now? I've been listening to you speak for the past twenty five minutes straight!"

"What?" Sherlock frowned. "I think we got a lot accomplished."

"Well, so did we!" Mary said happily, as she got up with the baby and went to where they'd set down the food. She gave Molly a covert smile. "Are you eating, Sherlock?"

"Nope. Not hungry."

"Good! You can hold the baby." She smiled and held out Elizabeth.

"Oh, all right." He sighed and took off his coat. Sherlock gathered the baby into his arms and made his way back to the couch to sit down. He sat there bouncing Elizabeth slightly as the other three adults got their food and sat down.

Once everyone had sat down and began eating, Sherlock looked down at Elizabeth and said, "I do hope these two weren't a bad influence on you while we were gone. In my opinion, you should be having some early lessons in deductions. Doesn't that sound better than lessons in assassination and pathology? Though I will admit, those things both have their own unique appeals." Sherlock smirked at the two women.

Mary smiled back at him, then she smiled to herself as Sherlock looked back down at Elizabeth. Yes Sherlock, she thought. I am indeed a bad influence. Though my daughter probably isn't the one you should be worried about...

And then Mary looked over to see Molly smiling confidently at Sherlock.

Chapter Text

Sherlock ran at top speed. He flew down the alley and leapt up onto the fire escape of the next building. He climbed that till he could make his way to the roof. Then he raced across the roof top and literally leapt from there to the next building over.

Sherlock crossed almost two blocks like that. He went as fast as he could possibly go. Perhaps faster. He pushed himself. When he'd finally gotten where he wanted to go, he flew down that building's fire escape. When he leapt down though, his coat sleeve caught and a massive hole was ripped in the seam. Sherlock swore at the second damage to his precious garment that evening, and then ran on. He finally came round a corner and was immediately greeted by the lights of police vehicles. Sherlock drew hard breaths and looked around, taking in the scene before him.

He saw Lestrade standing there, leaning on his car and sipping some coffee. And there were some officers arresting...the suspect? Sherlock let out an aggravated huff and marched over to Lestrade.

"How did you just arrest him?" Sherlock demanded, pointing at the man being put in the vehicle.

"Oh, hey, Sherlock. When did you get here? I thought you were after this guy."

"I was after him! I've been chasing him around the city for the past half hour!"

"I thought so. He came round that corner over there and I saw him. I figured I'd grab him for you." Lestrade took another leisurely sip of his coffee.

"How did he go that way?" Sherlock hissed under his breath. "Why did I not see that?!"

"Don't worry, Sherlock, I can't take all the credit. I'm sure you tired him out." Lestrade gave Sherlock a slap on the shoulder.

But before Lestrade could walk away, Sherlock grabbed him almost violently by the arm and growled in his face, "Do you have any cigarettes?"

"You know I don't, Sherlock!" Lestrade laughed a little at the intensity of his friend. "I quit."

Sherlock sighed and clenched his jaw before continuing. "Patches then! Patches! I need something right now!"

"Yeah, I think you do need something," he replied sarcastically at first. "Ok, let me look. I might still have some in my car."

Lestrade went in the car and dug around for a moment and came out with a box, handing it to Sherlock. Sherlock literally tore the box open, finding that there was only one patch left inside. He shoved it at Lestrade.

"Hold this!" Sherlock began working at taking his coat off. He had some difficulty with the buttons, as one was caught around some extra thread. Becoming frustrated, he finally reached over to where his sleeve was already half attached and tore it completely free in one move, throwing it to the ground. Sherlock pulled his dress shirt sleeve up like lightening, ripped the patch from Lestrade, and slapped it onto his arm.

Sherlock leaned down, picked up his detached coat sleeve, and nodded at the detective inspector. "Thank you, Lestrade. I'll just be going now."

Sherlock and his coat sleeve walked off, with Lestrade chuckling a little and shaking his head at the sight.


A half hour later, Sherlock trudged up the stairs at Baker Street and was greeted by the sound of rather loud music playing. He entered his flat and went into the kitchen where he heard a strange whirring noise. Molly stood there in pajama bottoms and tank top, using a mixer in a bowl. Between that noise, and the noise coming from the U2 album playing, Molly didn't even look up at first when Sherlock walked in.

He stood there for a few moments, just watching her. Finally, she shut the mixer off and looked up, jumping a little when noticing him.

"Oh! Hi, um...what happened to you?" Molly noticed the fact that he was holding his coat sleeve as opposed to wearing it.

Sherlock shrugged. "Was in my way." He tucked the sleeve into the pocket of his jacket before taking the whole thing off and throwing it over John's chair. Then he came over closer to her in the kitchen. "What are you doing?"

"Making brownies," she said with a smile, holding up the bowl with the rich chocolate mixture inside.

"What for?" he frowned.

"Because, Sherlock, I need them," she said firmly as she used a spatula to help pour the mixture into the pan.

"You need them? I find that somewhat unlikely."

Molly gave him a look and her hand darted out to grasp his forearm which was still exposed from his dress shirt sleeve having been messily pulled up.

"You needed this, didn't you?" she said with a look at the patch on his arm, then a raised eyebrow at him.

Sherlock pouted and pulled his arm away. "That's different."

"No it's not. I had a rubbish day, and I need these!"

"Well I still say it's not the same."

"You haven't tried them yet. Here, taste the batter."

Sherlock narrowed his eyes at her, then at the partially batter covered spatula that she held out in his direction.

Molly read his mind and rolled her eyes. "Pasteurized eggs, of course. Not that a man who keeps body parts in his fridge should be so picky...taste!" She shoved the spatula closer to his face.

Sherlock continued to eye her suspiciously for a second. Molly had been awfully...assertive in the past couple days, and he wasn't sure that he liked it. Or, more accurately, it made things a bit more difficult for him. She had come out from having a shower the day before, wearing only her towel. She'd strolled past him in the sitting room and smiled, saying casually, "forgot my clothes again!" She'd also touched him in passing more time in the past couple of days than she had probably done in the past year total. Every look, every touch, every word that was spoken a bit closer than usual...was driving Sherlock out of his mind.

He finally leaned forward hesitantly and took a bit of the spatula in his mouth, tasting some of the batter.

"Good, hmm?" she questioned as she took the spatula back and had some herself.

Sherlock licked his lips quickly and cleared his throat. "Yes, I suppose," he admitted quietly.

Molly smiled in satisfaction and turned back to place the dirty dishes and utensils in the sink. Then she put the pan into the oven to bake.

"I got in an argument with an intern today," she volunteered.

"About?"

"Cause of death. But the worst part was...they were right. I missed something. I ended up looking like an idiot! It was the most humiliating moment! I wanted to crawl right into my own body bag!" She tossed a spoon into the sink with a loud clatter.

"Hence the brownies then?"

"Exactly."

"Planning another night of mindless television drama to ease the pain?" he teased.

"Actually, no. I don't really have anything particular planned. I just had to make these. That's as far as I planned out the night. What about you? Cases?"

"Nope. Had the one, and that's...done now," he said bitterly.

"Well then, what would you like to do?" she asked, leaning on the kitchen table and peering over at him. "Let's do something. Here, I mean. In addition to consuming an unhealthy amount of brownies, once they're done."

Sherlock swallowed as he eyed her carefully again. Since when did Molly Hooper invite him so confidently to spend time with her? "Like...what?" he asked slowly.

Molly shrugged. "Anything. Anything you want. As long as it doesn't involve putting on regular clothes and leaving the flat, I'm in."

Sherlock got up, keeping his eyes fixed on her as she stared back at him. He cleared his throat again. "I'll um...think about it. I'm just going to have a shower...excuse me." Sherlock gave her a nervous half smile and exited the room.

Molly watched him walk off and her lips slowly curled into a pleased smile.


A half hour later, Sherlock came out of his room wearing his pajama bottoms, a grey tee shirt, and his dressing gown. And as he approached the kitchen, he was nearly knocked over by the lovely smell.

Molly was sitting on the couch with a couple boxes in front of her on the coffee table. "Hi! I found games."

Sherlock chuckled a little as he approached. "I don't think you want to play Cluedo with me, Molly," he said haughtily.

She smirked back. "I don't think you want to play Operation with me, Sherlock."

He stared back at her for a moment, holding the challenging gaze. Then he drew a slow breath. "Well I suppose we'll just see about that, won't we?"


An hour later, the brownies sat cooling in the kitchen as there were some frustrated sounds, as well as buzzing noises, coming from the couch.

"Ooh! Look at that! I think it's virtually impossible for you to beat me at this point, Sherlock. You should probably just give up," Molly said with a giggle.

"Oh forget it!" Sherlock said, tossing the little grabbing tool aside. It was true, he couldn't possible beat her at Operation.

"Cheer up!" Molly said happily, as she rose from the couch. "The brownies are cooled enough."

As she went to the kitchen and Sherlock heard her working on the pan of brownies, he began packing up the games. That had been an interesting distraction. He hadn't played either in quite a while. He was right of course, she got rather frustrated playing Cluedo with him. But she had been right also, she was impossible to beat at Operation. Her perfectly trained hands never faltered. He blamed his slightly unsteady hands on the nerves of the day. Usually he was much better.

Molly came back over with a plate for each of them. She'd put some vanilla ice cream on top of each of the warm brownies and it melted slightly over the sides. Sherlock took the plate and had the sudden urge to text a picture to Mycroft, simply saying "jealous?"

A couple of minutes later, Molly said, "So? As helpful as a nicotine patch, don't you think?"

Sherlock pursed his lips as he chewed. "Tastes better. Not sure it would help my mind quite as much though. This may end up dulling my senses."

"Mm, that's sort of the point. Feels lovely to be a bit dulled after a day like this. Speaking of which, you want a glass of wine? I still have the rest of that bottle from last week."

"Brownies and wine...is this some sort of new combination I've never heard of?

"I don't really care right now if it's an acceptable combination. I'm getting a glass. Tell me if you want some."

Molly got herself a glass of red wine, and soon they were sitting there on the couch in silence, having finished eating. Molly took another gulp of the deep red liquid and sighed.

"So, what should we do now?"

Sherlock frowned at her. "Are there supposed to be more activities?"

"Well, it is only eight right now. Not really time for bed...any good cases lately?" Molly asked as she tucked her legs under her and looked at Sherlock expectantly.

But he shrugged. "Nothing interesting. All rather dull. I'm trying to track Moriarty, but that's proving difficult. I can tell where he's been, but I still have no way to know where he'll strike next. Moriarty doesn't tend to be seen unless he wants to be. I have a feeling he'll make himself known to me at some point again. He seems to want my attention."

"Like the saying about the tree in the woods."

"What saying?"

"Oh, you know, 'if a tree falls in the woods and nobody's there to hear it, does it really make a sound?' Except, it's like, If Moriarty commits a crime in England and Sherlock Holmes isn't paying attention, does it really matter?"

Sherlock chuckled. "You're probably right...though I don't know how to feel about that. Does this mean I should just stop paying attention to him, like he's a yapping dog, and eventually he'll just go away?"

Molly laughed too. "I'm sure everyone wishes it were that easy. That reminds me, I saw this story that- oh, never mind." She waved her hand and took another drink of her wine.

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "What?"

"It was a, you know, fan story about us. It just made me laugh, that's all."

Sherlock frowned at her. "Don't tell me you're reading stories about us!"

Molly blushed a little. "Well, not a lot! I mean, I just looked a couple of times, and it was actually incredibly entertaining. Some colleagues sent me story links a few times, and I checked them out. Some are actually really good. I mean, it's not really us...at all! But I just mean the writing is fairly good. And then others are just entertaining because they're so ridiculous!"

"Oh I know. I saw some, and the level of creativity was...disturbingly high," Sherlock said with widening eyes.

Molly giggled. "Well, the one I had just remembered involved you asking me to go undercover, almost like a double agent. I had to convince Moriarty that I was in love with him. But I was really reporting back to you the whole time!"

Sherlock made a face of disgust. "Are they insane? I would never ask you to pose as Moriarty's girlfriend! Am I supposed to have some sort of feelings for you in this idiot's tale?!"

Molly covered her mouth in laughter. "Yes! You have feelings for me in all these stories! That's basically the point!"

"And exactly what type of information are you supposed to be extracting from him?"

"I believe you'd gotten wind of the fact that he was planning on kidnapping the Queen, and you needed to find out more," she explained, then took the last swig of her glass of wine. Molly fiddled on her phone to find the exact story. She handed it to him and he snatched it, examining the screen in irritation.

"Oh, dear Lord! This is the saddest excuse for a plot I've ever seen in my life! No wonder Moriarty felt the need to write insulting reviews!"

Molly found this incredibly entertaining and decided to refill her glass while he scanned the rest of the fiction. She came and sat back down next to him on the couch, but she brought the bottle and another wine glass as well, setting them down on the table. Sherlock glanced at them, but didn't say anything.

"That's nothing, Sherlock. I can't even tell you some of the silliness that I've seen on here! It's certainly good for a laugh. In fact...get your mobile."

"What for?" he questioned as he handed hers back.

"Just get yours and go to the site. This is what we can do."

"Are you out of your mind? You've only had one glass of wine and you want to read fan fiction? This is your idea of an activity? I think I'll play my violin, thank you!" Sherlock jumped up from the couch and walked toward the window.

"Oh come on! You can make fun of them! And you'd better help me out and have a glass of wine before I drink too much on my own." Molly poured some into the other wine glass before he could object.

Sherlock looked on in some fear. There sat Molly, looking disturbingly attractive in her comfy pajamas, holding out a glass of wine and inviting him to sit back down on the couch and read fictional romantic stories about them. He couldn't see this ending terribly well.

But he ached. He was physically and mentally aching. From the day, and the week, and who knows how long before then. It was becoming too great a load to bear, this being near her. He would have covered his body in nicotine patches if he had any more, and locked himself in his room if he could, but that wasn't an option. The only thing he wanted to do was to sit back down with that woman and be with her. It was the only thing that sounded even remotely appealing at that moment.

So he did.


"That is ridiculous! Never in a million years would I combine those chemicals!"

"This case cannot be more than a two! Why would an entire plot line be based around it?!"

"Why did I just call John to help me figure that out? Do these people really think I'm that stupid? I thought they already knew who I am!"

That's about how things went for a while. Sherlock and Molly both flipped through their mobiles, looking at tons of fictions and picking out things that were inaccurate, or just plain funny. Sherlock was sticking to things that took place on crime scenes and in the lab or the morgue. Molly ventured further though. She picked out especially unusual plots, or alternate universe settings, or silly things that they'd said. And slowly, very slowly, Sherlock lightened up. The wine bottle was also now empty...and Molly hadn't been the only one drinking.

"What's the point? Why would someone feel the need to imagine that we attended University together? I thought they were interested in us now!"

"I'm sure they like to think that we had some kind of history, before we started working together."

Sherlock made a little huffing noise. "And clearly that author doesn't know me as well as they'd like to think. I shouldn't be taking even that long to discern that you had been drugged!"

Sherlock continued scrolling on his phone. He let out a chuckle that sounded to Molly like the wine was taking a small effect. "Not a sanitary surface for that sort of activity. I don't seem to care much though...and neither do you," he said with a frown, and showed Molly his mobile.

Molly sputtered out a laugh. "My God, where do people come up with these things?!...and look at this one. Apparently, I buy you pants."

Sherlock leaned over and looked at Molly's phone, pursing his lips. "Not even the kind of pants I wear. I wear-"

"Boxer briefs, I know. That expensive brand," Molly said immediately,

Sherlock frowned at her.

"What?" she asked with a mischievous gleam in her eyes, seeing his look. "I've seen them on the bathroom floor. I just saw the grey ones the other day. You should really learn to be tidier. I think Mrs. Hudson doesn't appreciate having to pick up after you. She's not your housekeeper you know!"

"Pffft! I don't need a housekeeper! I can leave my pants wherever I want," he insisted with a wave of his hand, making Molly giggle.


Another hour passed, and the two of them had spent much of it laughing at some of the most outrageous things they could find on fan sites. There were all sorts of little scenarios that made absolutely no sense to them, and all kinds of theories about them as well.

"Filling the entire lab with flowers? I would never in a million years do such a thing!" Sherlock scoffed.

"You don't have to convince me, I can't see it either!" Molly laughed.

"It would be a bit counterproductive."

Molly stopped laughing. "What are you talking about?"

"I wouldn't do something that's likely to make you ill, if the goal was to impress you."

"Make me- how would you- What do you mean?"

Sherlock shrugged. "Obvious. You had to meet us at that funeral home for a case once, it was a number of months ago. You clearly felt ill the moment you walked into the building. I deduced that the time you spent in a funeral home in your youth had connected the smell of large amounts of flowers with death. And specifically with the pain of your mother's death, and then later your father's death. You're more comfortable with the smell of the chemicals in the morgue than the smell of a large bouquet of flowers. One flower perhaps, you can enjoy. But more than that only conjures the feelings of pain and loss. So, filling your work place with floral arrangements would hardly be a wise romantic gesture."

Molly stared back at him, and finally drew a breath when he stopped talking.

"Right. Yeah, you're...you're right," Molly said quietly and cleared her throat.

The tone had changed a little bit by then. There had been a whole lot of laughing for a while. She'd rarely seen Sherlock so relaxed and almost...silly. But the wine had been gone for quite some time, and they were both starting to slow down and get tired. Molly was still making some sort of effort to keep the fun going though. She had no intention of ending this rare night too soon.

Sherlock had gotten up and began walking around the room. He stood over at the window and peered down as Molly continued looking through her phone. She looked at a particular fiction and chuckled to herself.

"This is funny, listen to this, Sherlock. 'Molly grabbed the tall detective suddenly, stopping him short of walking away down the hall. She caught him by surprise and shoved him over against the wall in the quiet hospital hallway. She practically attacked him, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck and pressing her mouth to his. She kept him there for a moment before separating only long enough to pull him into the lab along with her and-'"

Molly stopped as Sherlock had begun chuckling.

"What?"

Sherlock turned from the window and looked at her as he calmed the laughter a bit. "You said this was going to be funny. It was, so I'm laughing."

Molly frowned a little. "No I- I hadn't got to the funny bit yet. I shut off the lights in the lab and you accidentally knock over a bunch of samples, so we have to clean up for two hours...what was so funny that I just read?"

Sherlock gave another short laugh. "You, of course. Not exactly an accurate representation. Doesn't sound like the Molly Hooper that we know!"

Molly's face fell a little as she listened to him. Here lay a definite problem. He still saw her as a shy, blushing, hesitant girl. He didn't seem to see her as a woman, who had the ability to get what she wanted...to take what she wanted.

Sherlock knew, on some level, what he was doing. The effects of the wine were slowly wearing off, and he saw the fact that Molly wasn't pleased at his finding humor in this fictional description of her. But he believed that if he didn't play into this skewed fictional world that they were delving into, he would be playing it safe. He didn't realize, of course, that his plan was about to very much backfire.

"So you...don't think I'm capable of doing something like that?" she asked quietly.

"Bit of an irrelevant question, Molly."

"But I- I want to know though. You think I can't seduce a man like that?"

"I'm not sure can't is the proper word...it's certainly not you though. There's no question about that," he replied casually.

Molly stared back at him in silence for a moment, and then she nodded her head very slowly. She also made a silent vow to herself. This is going to stop. Right here, tonight. I'm going to make sure he sees me differently. Molly took a breath and began speaking.

"You know it's funny, what happens when someone tells you that you can't do something. I don't have to explain that to you though, right?" Molly got up from the couch and walked around the little table, so that she stood a few feet away from his place near the window. "I mean, you know how it makes you feel...to be told you're lacking in some area. Doesn't it make you want to...prove a point?"

At that phrase, Sherlock tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at her, beginning to deduce what was going on, and realizing he'd made a critical error.

Molly took a couple more steps toward him. "I suppose you're right, in a way. I probably wouldn't do exactly what that story said. Not exactly me. I'd probably take a slightly different approach. Something more...controlled and methodical. I think, that if I was trying to get somewhere...with you, I'd probably just do all the little things that I've never been able to do for all these years. I think that's where I'd start." Her voice had dropped by now and she took a couple more steps forward, so that she stood directly in front of him.

Sherlock was frozen in place, staring back at her. He didn't know what he should do. He didn't know what he wanted to do.

Before he knew what was coming, Molly placed her small hand on his chest, right over his heart.

"Sometimes I think I just want the reminder that this is in here and it's beating. Not really a reminder for me...a reminder for you." Her words were only whispers now. Her eyes drifted down to where her hand was on the fabric of his tee shirt, before coming back up to look into his eyes again. Her determination was fueled now by the force of the heartbeat beneath her palm, and Sherlock knew it.

"And then just...to be able to touch your face. I've seen it so much that I feel like I've got it memorized. But I don't know what it feels like. And no, slapping it doesn't count." Molly curled her lips ever so slightly in a smile.

She slowly slid the hand that had been on his chest up till it traveled over his neck and came to rest on his cheek. She cradled the side of his face while her thumb smoothed over his skin. Sherlock maintained a neutral expression, and the only real indication of the fireworks that were going off in his brain and body were the dilation of his pupils and the way his nostrils flared with every intake of breath, desperately trying to get enough oxygen.

"I'd keep looking at you the whole time, of course. There's nowhere I'd rather look. I think your eyes may have been the first thing I noticed about you...and then there's your hair."

Molly took both hands and slowly pushed her fingers into the hair on either side of his head. That was when Sherlock's attempt at a cool exterior cracked a little. His eyes fell shut for a moment, and his lips parted. This didn't escape Molly's notice, and she smiled a little in satisfaction.

"Just as soft as I always imagined," she murmured.

Molly kept her left hand buried in the curls around the back of his head, and then took her right hand out and touched his face again. "And then I'd probably do...this." She took her index finger and began running it gently over the outline of his lips.

Sherlock's eyes shut again, against his will. There was a part of his brain that considered pushing her away, but he absolutely couldn't make it happen. His arms refused to respond to that message, and stayed frozen at his sides.

"And then...this." Her voice was barely audible now. She moved her face forward until they were almost touching. Molly's eyes were the ones that fluttered closed then, as she brushed her nose against his. Then she tilted her face just a bit more, and when she did, their parted lips made contact.

When this happened, Sherlock inhaled sharply, and finally regained his ability to speak. "Molly," he said, and his lips moved against hers when he said it. But when this only seemed to encourage her and she began to press forward further, he came to his full senses.

"Molly," he said a bit more forcefully and his hands flew up to grasp her forearms, just enough to separate their lips. "Stop."

When she'd pulled back just enough to look at him, he immediately saw the hurt building in her eyes.

"Why? Why should I?" she whispered. "Why do I have to follow these rules that don't apply to you?"

"What rules?"

Molly let out a short bitter laugh. "You do whatever you want. You treat me however you feel like treating me. There are times you barely acknowledge me, or barely act as if we're friends. But then...there are other times when you kiss my cheek as if it's the most important thing you had to do all day. And there are times you look into my eyes like I'm the only other person in the world. And then apparently there's the occasional passionate kiss, simply because you want to prove something to other people. But I can't do that sort of thing, can I? No. Because I'm me, and you're you. And that's not how we work. I have to hold this in, all of it. And I do. Every day that I'm with you, I hold back, because I know that's what you want. I don't get to show you this; how I feel. This is what I really feel and what I really want to do. Even when I hate you, this is what I wish I could do...because even when I hate you...I still love you."

Her words crashed like a heavy weight into the room, and she knew they'd could never be undone now. Molly stood there resolutely, not sure yet if she was sorry she'd said it.

Sherlock looked down for a moment, before looking back at her and attempting to reply. "Molly I- I'm sorry. But I...I just- I can't let you." He shook his head slowly as he spoke.

"Give me a reason. Give me one good reason, Sherlock. Please, I want to know." She let out a heavy breath.

Sherlock began to take in the weight of the moment as well. This was it. Nothing would ever be the same now, one way or the other. He realized that there was no turning back time from this night anyway, so he may as well help her see.

He gave her a rueful smile and took a breath before speaking his next words slowly. "I'm almost surprised that you still don't know. For all my effort to conceal it, I'm sure I've already told you the truth in a hundred small ways. And you're usually rather good at deducing me...can't you see it?"

Molly frowned slightly at first, at the implication she should already know what this truth was. But then she looked into his eyes...really looked. And a light bulb didn't just turn on above her head, it was as if the sun had come out after an eclipse. And then she did see it.

Molly saw it so clearly that she herself was surprised she had missed it till now. And she had flashes of so many little moments in the past few weeks that, in hindsight, could only mean one thing. But till now, that one thing was the only thing that wasn't possible. So she'd dismissed it, totally unconsciously. She had never even considered the possibility that Sherlock Holmes...was in love with her.

Molly slowly shook her head, and her breathing became unsteady. "No...you- you don't really...you couldn't," she said, even though she already knew the truth.

A black cloud of sadness passed over Sherlock's eyes then, and she almost heard the words before he said them. Though hearing them was so much worse.

"I wish I didn't," he said in a painfully low timbre.

Molly's mouth fell open a little and the emotion that had been bubbling beneath the surface overflowed. One tear escaped and slid down her cheek as she began to fully understand that he didn't want this. And she was pretty sure she knew why. How long had she wished she could discover that Sherlock was in love with her...but how horrible to know that he would undo it if he could.

"Molly, please understand..." he began carefully, of course wanting to ease her pain a bit. "Just listen..."

And then something inside of Molly snapped. All at once she was angry, and bitter, and sad, in addition to being consumed with love for this ridiculous man. And Sherlock clearly saw that there was a fire burning now behind her eyes.

"No," she said in a shaky whisper. "I won't listen anymore...I've heard enough."

About a half second later, her arms were back around his neck and she'd forced her mouth onto his, and was kissing him.

She felt him jump a little at the sudden contact. Sherlock's arms darted up around Molly and his hands gripped her shoulders. It seemed at first like he was preparing to pull her away. But once he'd made that move, the idea clearly melted away and was forgotten, and his arms locked snuggly around her back.

Molly let one hand slide back into his hair and held herself in place with her other arm around his shoulders. She kissed him. She kissed him till it felt like he was holding onto her for support. But soon, she realized that she wasn't the one taking the lead. Sherlock had made a short noise of frustration and lifted her up a bit so that he wasn't leaning over so much. Then, he was most definitely kissing her.

Although, every time their lips separated a tiny bit, Molly heard and felt him murmur the word "Stop."

She wasn't sure if he was speaking to her or to himself. Either way it didn't seem to matter. Molly didn't care what he said at that point, she wasn't going to listen. And Sherlock didn't seem to be listening either. So the kiss went on.

But Molly realized, as her mouth moved along in harmony with Sherlock's, that she was still crying. She knew this wasn't a fairy tale. Not the good kind at least. She was stealing this bit of happiness. It hadn't been given to her. She was still in pain, if she dug down beneath how good it felt to kiss this man. And as much as she loved him, she wasn't going to do this...not like this.

She determined to be the one to end this kiss, because she felt like it should be that way. She started it, and she was going to end it. There was something stabbing her to the heart if she imagined it being Sherlock to finally push her away and call it quits. And, if nothing else, she hoped she'd leave him wanting more.

Molly gathered all the emotional strength she could muster, and after pressing her mouth especially firmly to his one more time, she pushed herself away from him.

They both stood there, almost gasping for breath a couple of feet away from each other. Molly reached up and wiped at her eyes. Sherlock saw this and took a step forward.

"Molly," he whispered, but didn't completely cross the distance between them.

"You want to give this up? This is what you don't want?" she asked through some more tears. "Because it seems to me like you do want this!"

His expression turned a little harder again. "What I want is for you to be as safe as possible! And there is nothing I wouldn't do to make that happen! Moriarty once nearly killed all the people I hold dear! Do you think I would take chances with you?!"

Molly let out a frustrated groan. "Why can't you just be selfish, Sherlock?! You're supposed to be a sociopath, for God's sake! Who cares about my safety?! If you want to be with me, then be with me!"

Sherlock shook his head, and Molly could swear she saw his eyes cloud a bit. "I can't do that."

"So you'll go back to things as usual then? You can do that? Autopsies, and body parts, and cases, and stupid tabloid articles, and social media speculation...all of that...and none of this?" she questioned while gesturing between the two of them.

He hesitated for a moment, but then straightened his stance, and she saw him swallow and lick his lips before answering stoically. "I told you I'd do anything."

Molly sighed and her shoulders fell slack. "But maybe I can't do that, Sherlock."

"Then I'll stay away," he answered immediately, and Molly's eyes widened.

"You don't mean that."

"I do. I'll do it if I have to...or if that's what you need, to make things easier."

"You do not want to know what would make things easier for me, Sherlock!" and she couldn't help a small laugh that mixed in with the continued tears.

He was silent. They looked at each other again for a moment, and then Molly took a deep breath and let it out in a slow exhale. She crossed her arms protectively across her middle and spoke again.

"So this is it then? You won't...even try?"

His icy eyes stared back at her and then shifted away, giving her a wordless answer. Molly nodded in bitter acceptance, and felt her eyes start to flood again. She needed to end this.

"Right...well, I'll just be off to bed then." She sniffed. "I've never felt so tired in all my life. I'm going to get my things together tomorrow. I don't care what the risk is, I'm going home. I think you're already taking plenty of...precautions. I don't want you to do anything more, please."

Molly turned and took walked away, but she stopped at the door and looked back, giving him a tight smile.

"Suppose I did end up proving a point, didn't I? It just wasn't the one I was hoping to prove."

Sherlock opened his mouth, then closed it tightly again. He watched as she turned and walked away up the stairs, and then he heard her bedroom door close.

There was a moment right then that he considered rushing up the stairs after her, and taking back everything he'd just said. He considered spending the foreseeable future proving lots of other things to her, and making her forget how sad she had been. He wanted to.

But he didn't. And it all really came down to the fact that he still firmly believed that, alone was what he had. It was the secret weapon. Except it wasn't what protected him...no. He looked out the window into the darkened street and whispered to himself,

"Alone is what protects her."

Chapter Text

Molly opened her eyes the next morning and immediately felt the pounding headache. It was the sort of headache that greets you when you wake after a night of crying. She figured she'd probably done more crying than sleeping. She scooted up to a sitting position and Toby jumped up to the bed from where he'd been on the floor. The cat sat purring happily on her lap then and she wished she had as few cares as her fuzzy companion.

Molly heard a bit of noise coming from downstairs so she chose not to leave her room right away. She couldn't bear to see Sherlock yet. Partly because she was angry at him and partly because she just might feel like kissing him again.

Sherlock had, of course, kissed her in the pub. But in hindsight, that was such a blur. It took her half the kiss to get over the shock factor. And once she was finally able to stop processing it and enjoy it, it was ending. Last night was a bit different.

Now...she knew that Sherlock was in love with her. So when she felt him loose control, she knew it was genuinely because of how he felt about her...and it was one of the most thrilling feelings she'd ever experienced. She sighed and rubbed her still stinging eyes. She doubted if she'd ever be able to duplicate that sort of feeling with any other man.

She retrieved her mobile from the night stand and saw a text from Mary.

HI. IT'S 3AM, AND I'M UP FOR A FEEDING...AGAIN. I'M SURE YOU WON'T SEE THIS TILL MORNING, BUT I JUST WANTED TO CHECK IN. HOPE YOU'RE DOING ALL RIGHT. :) -MW

Molly stared at the text for a long time. Mary had some impeccable timing...or maybe it was really bad timing actually. She couldn't bring herself to recount all the details at this moment, so she said only what was needed to get the point across.

AT LEAST I HAVE NO REGRETS... :( -MH

OH GOD...MOLLY, WHAT HAPPENED? -MW

TOO COMPLICATED FOR TEXTING...TOO COMPLICATED FOR REAL LIFE AS WELL! I'LL FILL YOU IN SOME TIME SOON. UNLESS JOHN HEARS IT FROM SHERLOCK I SUPPOSE, THOUGH I FIND THAT UNLIKELY. -MH

PLEASE CALL OR TEXT IF YOU NEED SOMEONE TO TALK TO! WHERE ARE YOU? -MW

BAKER STREET. BUT I'M LEAVING TODAY. -MH

THAT BAD? -MW

HE'S AN IDIOT. I HATE THAT I LOVE HIM SO MUCH...TALK LATER, AND THANK YOU. -MH

Molly dragged herself out of bed then and began to take out her luggage. She got changed and then started trying to organize things in her room. Best to have things mostly taken care of in here before she ventured downstairs. She figured that once she saw Sherlock, she might want to leave as quickly as possible. She was glad that she happened to have a late shift that day. She had till noon before she needed to be at Bart's. Plenty of time to get herself back to her own flat.

She'd never felt so depressed about going home before.


Sherlock had been up and showered and dressed by nine. He wanted to work. He wanted to keep busy. He half expected Molly to have been gone already, but then he realized that because of her shift she wouldn't have to be. Though he was well aware she was probably in a hurry to leave.

He decided there wouldn't be much benefit to being gone before she moved out. Things were bad enough. It wouldn't make things any better to run away while she left the flat. There wouldn't be any repairing things...at least not in the way that she wanted. But he thought that at best they could mend their working relationship. He felt that it was something to hope for.

Sherlock sat at his computer, trying desperately to find a case and coming up sadly empty. He tried to focus on the screen as he heard Molly's footsteps coming down soon after. She came in saying nothing, and went straight to the kitchen to start some coffee. He heard his mobile beside him and was glad for a distraction...until he saw the message.

WHAT HAPPENED, SHERLOCK? THOUGH I'M PRETTY SURE I CAN GUESS. -JW

Sherlock rolled his eyes as he began answering.

WELL THEN, NO POINT IN YOU ASKING ME IS THERE? JUST LEAVE IT, JOHN. -SH

SO YOU'RE REALLY JUST GOING TO LET HER LEAVE? -JW

SHE WANTS TO GO. THIS LIVING SITUATION WAS A TEMPORARY ONE ANYWAY, JOHN. SHE WAS NEVER STAYING, DESPITE WHAT YOU AND MARY WANTED TO BELIEVE. -SH

THE ONLY THING THAT MARY AND I BELIEVE IS WHAT YOU TOLD US, SHERLOCK. YOU'RE IN LOVE WITH HER. -JW

Sherlock hazarded a look over to the kitchen and saw Molly leaning on the kitchen counter and eating a brownie for breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew.

THANK YOU, BUT I DON'T BELIEVE I NEED REMINDERS ANYMORE, JOHN. -SH

YES YOU DO...I'LL BE TALKING TO YOU SOON. -JW

Sherlock set his mobile down and began dreading whatever near-future conversation was ahead of him with John, and probably Mary too. Why couldn't everyone just trust his judgment? He knew better than anyone how dangerous Moriarty was. So there was no excuse for letting Moriarty win in this case.

Sherlock stood up and slipped his suit jacket on as he made his way into the kitchen slowly. Molly heard him coming, but didn't fully turn toward him. She kept focused on preparing her coffee. Sherlock's voice cut through the silence.

"Do you...need any help?"

Molly looked up, making eye contact for the first time since the previous night, and it was more intense than either of them had hoped.

"With?" she asked quietly.

"Your things...that is, if you're still leaving."

Molly took a breath first as she poured a little cream in her coffee and added some sugar. "Yes, I'm still leaving. And no, I don't need help...thanks though." She gave him a quick smile.

Sherlock nodded, though she'd already looked away.

"Coffee?" Molly asked, and took another mug off the shelf.

"Thank you, yes," he answered softly.

Molly poured the hot liquid into the mug and dropped in a couple of sugar cubes. She swirled it around with a spoon and slid the mug over to him. Sherlock reached out and took it. He took a sip and then looked back over at Molly to see that she was still watching him.

"I'm not sorry," she suddenly said.

He narrowed his eyes, then asked slowly, "For?"

"All of it. Everything, really. I actually thought about saying I was sorry when I was still upstairs. I thought I was sorry at first. I felt like, if I'd just kept my mouth shut, nothing would have changed. If I'd just left things alone, we could have stayed as we were...for who knows how long. But...I realized that no matter how much this hurts, the alternative is so much worse. Not knowing is always worse. I think you can probably agree with that."

Sherlock gave a small nod before looking away. Of course he agreed with that. He usually hated not knowing...though this was really quite a different situation.

"And I'll never be sorry," she went on, "to know what that feels like. I suppose I already knew what it was like to kiss you. But I didn't know what it was like to kiss you and know that...you meant it."

Sherlock tried not to look back at her and focused on the coffee in his hands instead.

Molly watched him as he intentionally avoided eye contact. Look at me, just look at me, her mind screamed at him. But he didn't.

Molly let out a sigh. "But I do want to say that I'll keep working with you...if you want. I don't want to make things difficult. Well, I mean, no more difficult than it already is."

"You've never made anything difficult for me, Molly," he said softly, finally looking back up at her. "And I am trying to do the same for you."

Molly stared back at him and slowly shook her head as she began to feel emotions tightening in her chest again. "You're doing a rubbish job of it," she whispered and smiled sadly.

Sherlock looked away and drew a breath as he stood again, buttoning his suit jacket. He couldn't bring himself to continue this conversation. They would only end up talking in circles...or snogging on the table...and neither would do.

"I'm not leaving the flat yet. Tell me if you change your mind and you need anything," he said simply, bringing his voice back to a business-like tone. Then he walked back over to the desk and sat down in front of his laptop.

Molly turned away and muttered to herself, "You do not want to know what I need."


About an hour later, Molly was pretty much packed up and ready to head out. She had put her couple of bags right outside the door and on the landing. She had Toby's cat carrier ready and that was all she had left to do. She just needed to find him and get him inside...and she was pretty sure she knew where he was.

Molly took a deep breath and walked down the hallway, hesitating for a moment before knocking on Sherlock's closed bedroom door. It opened soon after, and he looked at her with a question in his eyes.

"Um, Toby...I'm sure he's under your bed."

"Ah, yes. Come in. You're welcome to look."

Molly walked past him as he opened the door and stepped aside. She got down on the floor and peered under his bed. Sure enough, there was Toby, curled up as usual with a contented sleepy expression.

Molly made some little clicking noises with her tongue and wiggled her fingers at the cat. "Come on, Toby! Come on, time to go home!" she called softly. She then began reaching under the bed, trying to just grab him. But he was right in the middle, and so she couldn't get far enough. She stood again and looked at Sherlock in embarrassment.

"I um, I can't really reach him. Do you think you could try?"

Sherlock nodded and got down on the floor, reaching under the bed for a minute. Then he stood back up. "I can't reach him either. Perhaps something to coax him out?"

"Right. Good idea. I'll just get some of that left over chicken from the fridge." Molly turned and left the room and Sherlock followed behind her.

Molly walked into the kitchen and turned to the fridge immediately. She opened it and began looking around, rummaging through the food and other things in her way. "Sherlock, I was sure I put that chicken in the little glass container with the green lid. Did you move it?"

Molly looked up and saw Sherlock wide eyed and frozen in place beside the fridge door, facing the other way. Molly straightened up and shut the door. When she turned around, she let out a gasp and her hand went to her mouth. Sherlock automatically moved over just a bit, half standing in front of her.

There in the other room, sitting in Sherlock's chair...was Jim Moriarty.

His mouth crept up in a slow smile that made his eyes brighten in a frightening way. He opened his mouth and slowly said, "Hi."

Sherlock and Molly stood there silently, just watching him. Nobody said a word, or maybe even breathed for a few moments. Finally Moriarty spoke again.

"Hope you don't mind. The door was open, so I just let myself in...I forgot how cozy it is in here," he said with a little scrunch of his shoulders.

"What do you want?" Sherlock asked flatly.

Moriarty smiled, then leaned forward in the chair. "Well I think a visit has been long overdue, don't you? I mean, I feel awful! I've been back so long and I haven't even stopped by." He gave Sherlock an apologetic grimace.

"Don't lose sleep over it," Sherlock sneered.

"Oh I don't," he said confidently, and settled back into the chair. "I'm much too busy for that. I sleep like a baby!...Oh, Molly darlin', I hope you're not doing something very stupid behind your back."

Molly froze and Sherlock glanced at her.

"Why don't you come put your phones over here with me, just so nothing messy happens," he said with a smile and tapped the table beside Sherlock's chair.

Sherlock wordlessly took his mobile from his pocket and then reached his hand out to Molly. "Give me your phone." His eyes gave her some comfort even though his words were emotionless. She could see he was trying to tell her it would be alright.

Molly placed her mobile in Sherlock's hand slowly. Sherlock took it along with his own phone and walked over. He placed both devices on the small table, and then sat down in John's chair.

"Thanks for joining me," Moriarty said with a smile. He looked past Sherlock into the kitchen, at Molly. "Don't be shy, why don't you come over here too?"

"I don't think that's necessary," Sherlock said quickly.

Moriarty tilted his head and smiled slyly at Sherlock. "So protective, Sherlock. I do love to see that side of you. I love to see you when you're weak," he hissed.

Like lightening, Sherlock's hand suddenly darted into the side of the seat cushion of John's chair and came out holding a gun, pointing it at Moriarty across from him.

Moriarty giggled a little. "Oooh, touchy!" His smile fell away though, and he sighed. "Sherlock, I really don't have time to play these sorts of games right now. I just wanted to have a friendly visit! Why do you have to make things complicated?"

"Stay in the kitchen, Molly," Sherlock said without turning.

Molly was frozen in place and didn't exactly need to be told not to come any closer. She was having a hard enough time remembering to breathe.

Moriarty leaned forward and eyed the gun, then looked back up to Sherlock. "Why? You don't want her to have a front row seat? I think she should...she's been in the background for long enough." He looked up and threw a little wink toward the kitchen.

"This has nothing to do with her," Sherlock said in a low threatening voice.

"Oh, I don't know about that. Seems there's a lot that has to do with little Miss Molly these days...Sherlock, I'm going to have to ask you to give me that gun, you know."

"And why would I do that?"

Moriarty straightened up and lifted his palms upward. "How about, I'm unarmed?"

Sherlock raised his eyebrows dramatically. "Oh, haven't you heard? I've recently put a bullet in an unarmed man's head. I assure you, I'll be even better at it this time. Lots of practice...I could shoot you and hang your body out my window and the city would cheer," Sherlock growled.

He let out a short chuckle, but then his eyes turned dark at they bore into Sherlock's. "Maybe the city would cheer, but what about the Watsons?"

Sherlock froze. "What about them?"

"Well, I think this would be a good time to tell you that if I don't walk out of this flat alone and unharmed in..." he glanced at his watch, "fifteen minutes, the Watson family just may cease to exist."

Sherlock stared back at him silently for a moment. He swallowed, then finally opened his mouth. "You really want to try that again? Threaten my friends to get your way?"

"I can't exactly pop by Baker Street without some sort of insurance policy, can I? That's just bad business," he said, slowly shaking his head.

"You're bluffing," Sherlock whispered.

Moriarty grinned as he leaned forward again. "Care to test that theory?" he whispered back, holding the detective's gaze.

They stayed like that for another deathly silent moment, both furiously analyzing each other. Finally, slowly, Sherlock took the gun in his hand and emptied it of bullets. He never broke eye contact with Moriarty as he did this, and then he handed over the emptied gun and the handful of bullets.

Moriarty checked the gun and set it down on the table next to him. Then he pocketed the bullets. "That's better. Now I feel like we can really talk."

Sherlock could barely keep himself in the chair, wanting to leap across and snap the man's neck with his bare hands. "What are we talking about?"

"Oh, I just think we should be sure we understand each other...I want to make sure you're not thinking of getting in my way again."

Sherlock's lip curled in a half smile. "I think you know very well that I'll be in your way. Seeing as you were the one that made sure I stayed in England."

Moriarty let out a long whistle. "So vain, Sherlock! It's always about you, isn't it?" He looked over at Molly again. "He always like this? No wonder you want out!"

Molly glared daggers back at him in response.

"Don't pretend that message wasn't for me," Sherlock said, unfazed by the insult.

"That message was for England...you don't matter quite as much as you'd like to think, Sherlock."

"Whatever helps you sleep at night," Sherlock said with a flash of his eyes.

Moriarty drew a breath and let it out slowly as he suddenly got to his feet with a little hop. He took a few steps around the room.

"Look, I can't stay long, but I want to be sure you're not ruining my business. I've got lots going on right now."

"Like what, exactly?"

"Oooh, I can't tell..." he sang out. "That wouldn't be fair. Besides, I know you like to keep entertained. Would ruin your fun if I gave away all my secrets. I'm not stupid enough to believe that you don't want a bit of a chase."

Moriarty turned and began to walk into the kitchen, making Sherlock jump up from his seat. Molly stood with her back against the fridge, watching Moriarty advance. She locked eyes with Sherlock as he circled around John's chair and came a few feet closer, but he kept some distance.

"That is all it can be though," he went on. "You can chase if you like. But you'd better not get close. Might be dangerous to people's health if you got too close...look at you," Moriarty purred then at Molly. "You've certainly come a long way, haven't you? Last time the three of us were in the same room, you were practically oozing 'pathetic school girl crush.' So desperate for just a teeny weeny bit of attention from 'Mr. Tall, Dark, and Deducing.'"

Molly's eyes hardened as Moriarty drew nearer. "Actually I think that was you."

"Oooh! I like her now!" Moriarty laughed, and glanced back at Sherlock for a moment before looking back at Molly. "I have to say, you were a little...bland all those years ago. But you seem like a lot more fun now...a lot more fun." He looked her up and down slowly.

"I think it's time for us to finish our talk, don't you?" Sherlock cut in.

Moriarty suddenly whirled around and yelled, "I'm talking to Molly!" He turned back to Molly and rolled his eyes and sighed. "Sorry about that."

Moriarty came up close to her and reached a hand out, running a finger along her cheek. Molly shuddered at the contact and she saw Sherlock visibly flinch and clench his jaw.

"Here's a question though...what I'd really like to know right now is...who's the better kisser? The consulting detective, or the consulting criminal?" Moriarty grinned at Molly.

She glanced over and saw Sherlock's face had turned stony as he silently watched. Molly looked back at Moriarty and did her best to control the shaking in her voice as she looked him dead in the eye and answered, "Don't embarrass yourself."

He glared at her as he listened, then he shrugged. He then turned back to Sherlock.

"Don't tell me you really think you can make a relationship work."

"There is no relationship. Haven't you been paying attention?"

"Oh I always pay attention, Sherlock. And I'd like to keep paying very close attention to..." he glanced conspicuously at Molly and then back at Sherlock, "all of this."

"There is no this," Sherlock said in a low growl.

Moriarty shrugged again. "Whatever you say...I'd certainly be interested if there was though. Would make things a lot more interesting for us...more dangerous for Molly, of course."

Sherlock cleared his throat and used everything in his power to control his face. "Well, fortunately for Molly...that's not a problem."

"Mmm, that is fortunate." Moriarty turned back to look at Molly. "Good news darlin', I'm single too. Want to give it another go?"

Molly threw on a little smile. "Sure. Let's meet up in the morgue next time you're there. I'll be the one with the scalpel cutting open your chest."

"Oh, you're adorable. Something really sexy about the fact that she works with the dead all the time. Isn't that right, Sherlock?...maybe if I'd played nice like Sherlock, I could have asked you to help me fake my death." Moriarty looked back at Sherlock. "Oh, I bet that's still eating away at you. How did he do it? Don't pretend it doesn't drive you mad."

Sherlock cracked a smile. "I can already think of half a dozen ways you faked it. Not really all that complicated."

Moriarty gave a lazy smile. "Ok it wasn't. Still not telling though...oh, look at the time. I'd better be going. And I should mention that neither of you is allowed to use your phones or leave the flat for the next hour. Can't be too careful, you know."

He walked out of the kitchen and toward the door. Sherlock took a few steps over, watching him like a hawk as he moved.

"So, I do hope we understand each other now, Sherlock. I really am a busy man. I don't have time for you and your big brother, and I don't have time to keep making threats," he said with a weary look. "If you don't listen and keep enough distance, I might just have to start taking action. And I really don't think you want me to do that."

Sherlock walked over slowly till he was standing directly in front of the man and towering over him a bit. He gave Moriarty a smug smile as he hissed out his words. "You'd better run. Because the next time I see you, you won't be given the benefit of a head start."

Moriarty shook his head and clicked his tongue. "Tsk tsk...I thought I just told you there can't be a next time."

Sherlock's voice rumbled low like thunder as he answered, "There's always a next time."

If looks could have killed, Moriarty would no longer have been a danger to the British nation.

Moriarty examined Sherlock's face closely and his own frightening unstable smile spread. "Well...I think we do understand each other...bye bye for now then, Sherlock."

He looked over toward the kitchen where Molly stood now, by the end of the table. "See you later, darlin'. You stay safe now." He looked pointedly at Sherlock as he finished the words.

He backed away from Sherlock slowly till he was in the doorway. "One hour. Time starts now." He turned and they heard him go down the stairs and out the door.

Sherlock ran to the window and saw Moriarty as he walked out to where a dark car had been parked, clearly waiting for him. He got in the car and it drove quickly away.

Sherlock let out a breath that he'd been holding in for too long and he ran his fingers through his hair a couple of times. Then he lifted his arm and looked at his watch. "Right. It's about quarter of ten now. At quarter of eleven, I'll call John. Don't answer your mobile either! No texts, no calls. We just wait." Sherlock crashed into his chair, placing his fingers against his lips.

Molly had been frozen in place, holding onto the edge of the kitchen table. She stayed there trying to relax her breathing and the pounding of her heart. She watched Sherlock as he sat staring straight in front of him, and she could just barely make out the slight tremor in the fingers that were poised in front of his mouth.

Molly finally took some steps and made her way over to John's chair. She sat down and kept her eyes on Sherlock. His eyes moved a bit and he was clearly thinking, somewhere far away. She so badly wanted to do something for him to ease his concern. Molly couldn't hold back, so she scooted forward and reached out a hand, placing it gently on his knee.

Sherlock's eyes snapped to hers immediately, but they looked almost angry. He jumped up from his chair to walk quickly over to the window. Molly blinked and pulled her hand back. "Sherlock?" she asked cautiously.

He whirled around to look at her intensely. "Never ever question why I don't want to try. I believe Jim Moriarty just answered that question incredibly clearly. If you're ever wondering whether we made the right decision, simply have a little visit to the memories of today and you'll feel much more confident!"

Molly looked up at him, a little angry herself now. "What do you mean whether we made the right decision? I don't recall being allowed to have any part in the decision making."

Sherlock flew around again to sit in the chair and he leaned forward himself, so that their faces were close and she could feel his heated words.

"Weren't you here for the past fifteen minutes?! Did you not see and hear the same things I did? Why is this so difficult for you to understand?! Jim Moriarty should scare you!"

"He does! Moriarty does scare me!" she almost yelled back, feeling her eyes filling and seeing Sherlock's pained features quickly blurring. She licked her lips and swiped quickly at her eyes before bravely reaching out and cradling the sides of Sherlock's face in her palms. "But the thought of letting you go...terrifies me."

She saw Sherlock's eyes almost immediately dart down to her mouth, but then he pressed his own mouth and eyes shut quickly and seemed to take carefully controlled breaths. His hands came up though, and his fingers wrapped gently around her wrists. Molly felt a couple of tears fall down her own cheeks. She leaned forward a bit more and quickly pressed a kiss to his forehead as she stood and slid her hands away from his face and his grasp.

"I'm going upstairs," she said with an accompanying sniffle. "Tell me when the hour is up and I can leave."

Sherlock said nothing as she walked away. He sat there trying to savor the feeling of her hands on his face. But it faded all too quickly...and soon the warmth was gone.


Little more than an hour later, Sherlock watched the cab that contained Molly and Toby and all their things drive away. He indulged in a minute of thought...a minute of silence for all that had just left him that day...but then he picked up his mobile. He had things to do.

He had to keep being Sherlock Holmes.

Chapter Text

Sherlock went into overdrive that day after Molly left Baker Street. He picked up his mobile and began furiously working to combat the threats that Moriarty had just made.

First and foremost, he called John.

"John?"

"Hey, Sherlock. What's going on?"

He breathed a small sigh of relief, immediately sensing that the Watson family wasn't even aware of what had been happening.

"Are Mary and Elizabeth with you?"

"Yeah, they're right here. Sherlock, what is it?" John asked more forcefully.

"Don't leave your flat. Stay where you are. I'm going to send Lestrade and some officers. There were some threats on your family's safety today...Moriarty was here, at Baker Street."

"What?! Oh my God...Mary, take Elizabeth upstairs and stay away from windows!"

"John, I'll be there in twenty minutes. I'll tell you everything."

"What about Molly? Is she alright?"

Sherlock paused for a moment. "She is for now...I'll see you soon."

Sherlock got a cab a couple of minutes later and headed to John's flat. While he sat there, he made more calls. He called Lestrade and informed him of the recent developments. The detective inspector was quick to tell Sherlock that he'd gather a team and meet him at the Watson's.

Sherlock then sent Mycroft some texts, detailing what had just occurred. His brother was not surprised, and had already suspected that the consulting criminal had been back in the city, based on some intelligence he'd received. He promised to keep Sherlock informed if he heard anything more. Sherlock also requested that he put any amount of surveillance he could on Molly. Any would be better than none at all, seeing as she was living alone again. Mycroft said he'd do what he could.

Sherlock also sent out texts to his homeless network and to Wiggins. He wanted them to be alert. He wanted everyone keeping an eye on his friends, and wanted nothing to go unreported. Nothing was insignificant.

By the time he reached the Watson's flat, there were already police vehicles there. He flew up the steps and inside. John was in the kitchen talking to Lestrade.

"Hey, Sherlock," Lestrade greeted him. "Everything looks good so far. We haven't found anything or anybody in or around the place."

"I suspected as much. I'm sure nothing was meant to happen unless it had to."

"I'm sorry, what exactly happened? Why did he threaten us?" John asked.

"You were his insurance policy. He came to Baker Street to have a chat and wanted to ensure that he left alone and unharmed. He said if he didn't walk out by a certain time, you and your family would be gone. I also had to wait an hour after he left to even pick up the phone or leave the flat."

John sighed heavily and ran a hand over his face. "God...so what did he want to chat about?"

"More threats, really. He's apparently hoping that I'll stay out of his business this time. Doesn't want me getting too close...he threatened Molly's safety, of course. Though, he seemed to make it clear that he'd be especially interested if we were a couple."

John and Lestrade exchanged a quick look. Lestrade cleared his throat and spoke again. "I'll just um, go talk to the boys for a minute. You guys can...sort things out."

Lestrade walked off, and John looked back at Sherlock. He lowered his voice a little when he asked, "Ok, so what happened last night?"

Sherlock frowned at John. "Last night? John, I'm talking about today. Moriarty was at Baker Street today."

"Yeah, I realize that, but this is relevant. I mean, Molly was threatened as well, right? So what happened last night that made her leave today?"

Sherlock sighed. "I assume Mary has been texting Molly. Actually I had already assumed that when I received your texts this morning."

"Yeah, and it didn't sound good." John then raised his eyebrows expectantly, and gestured for Sherlock to go on.

He hesitated for a second and rocked on his heels. "Everything was revealed...everything. Perhaps it was for the best, perhaps not. I'm not entirely sure yet. She's not...happy about it."

"Well if by everything, you mean the fact that you're in love with her but you refuse to be in a relationship, then yeah I bet she's not happy about it." John let out a short chuckle.

"I also briefly...gave in...Molly can be rather persuasive when she wants to be. Not exactly something I anticipated," Sherlock said with a look of embarrassment.

A smile spread on John's face. "So, basically...Molly Hooper seduced you."

Sherlock narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. "Seduced is a...strong word. Things didn't...progress."

John took a moment to laugh a bit, and he nodded at Sherlock. "Yeah, I think I've got the idea. So you kissed her then?"

"You kissed Molly?" a voice behind them said, and they turned to see Mary having entered the kitchen with Elizabeth in her arms.

"Oh, dear Lord," Sherlock mumbled as he turned back toward John.

"Based on Molly's texts, I did not expect to hear that!" she continued as she sat down at the table.

"Molly knows...everything," John clarified to Mary with an accompanying expression of irritation.

Mary looked up at Sherlock, beginning to understand. "Oh...I see. No wonder she said what she did."

"Why? What did she say?" Sherlock asked immediately.

Mary made a face of surprise and then smiled. "Oh, you're interested are you?"

Sherlock shrugged, then attempting to look more relaxed. "I certainly wouldn't want to think she's twisting anything...that's all."

"Oh please, you know she wouldn't twist anything! She said things were complicated. That makes a lot more sense to me now. When I got her messages this morning, I just assumed you'd shot her down. I thought maybe you'd just lied and told her you weren't interested."

"I did tell her I wasn't interested, which isn't a lie. I told her I wasn't interested in pursuing a relationship."

"And...I'm sorry, that was before or after you kissed her?"

Sherlock rolled his eyes. "I'd hardly say I kissed her. It was more like she attacked me!"

Mary snorted out a laugh as Greg walked back into the kitchen. "Who attacked you, Sherlock?" he asked, having not heard everything.

"Oh he means kissed. And it was Molly," Mary kindly clarified to Lestrade, and the man's eyes became saucers.

Sherlock threw his hands up and groaned. "For God's sake! Do we all need to be involved in this discussion right now?! We are here to ascertain the safety of the Watson's flat. Geoff, does everything check out here?!" he asked leaning in to Lestrade's face.

"Uh, again, it's Greg...but yeah, everything checks out. The place is fine," Lestrade answered, trying to contain his own laughter.

"Right! Good! Excellent!" Sherlock clapped his hands together. "I suppose we're all done here then. I believe I'll just get going. John, I'll be in touch."

He leaned down and planted a quick kiss on the head of Elizabeth Watson, before making a hasty exit.

The three of them looked at each other as they heard Sherlock leave the flat. Greg let out a small laugh. "Can somebody tell me what just happened?"


The next couple of weeks were difficult ones, for a lot of people...especially Mrs. Hudson.

Sherlock had become a nightmare to live in close proximity to. After the initial drama of Moriarty's unexpected visit, and the dust had settled, and Sherlock had done what needed doing and taken all needed precautions...he was thrown back into normal life. Except it wasn't normal life, really. He was rather miserable. John's availability was still a bit limited. He had sworn off trips to Bart's if they were for entertainment value only. And he was solving most of the cases that came his way without leaving the flat. Mrs. Hudson finally lost her patience one day, and phoned John.

John came into Mrs. Hudson's flat and she gave the man a warm hug.

"Oh, how's the baby, John?"

"She's good, she's fine, thanks."

"I'm so sorry to pull you away, but I just think somebody needs to do something! He's driving me absolutely mad! He plays that violin like crazy. He stomps around at all hours of the day and night. I can't get in to clean up at all because he's not out much, and I seem to get yelled at every time I set foot in there! John..." she said with a sad look, "can't you get Molly to come back? This is about her isn't it?"

John sighed. "Mrs. Hudson, only Sherlock could get Molly to come back. And he doesn't want to do that. He's...afraid for her. He thinks she's better off keeping her distance from him."

"Can't you talk to him? He might listen to you. At least get him out of the flat! I honestly don't think he's left for almost a week now!"

John pursed his lips in thought for a moment. He lifted his eyes as he heard the sound of Sherlock furiously playing his violin on the floor above them. Then he looked back at Mrs. Hudson.

"I think I might have an idea...I've got to make a call. I'll be back in a bit." He took out his mobile and stepped out of the room.

Mrs. Hudson flinched as she heard another crash that came from upstairs. "Do hurry, John."


"Come in, John," Sherlock called out almost the minute his friend's fist had hit the door.

"Hey...how's it going?" John asked, trying to sound as casual as possible.

Sherlock eyed him a little suspiciously. He looked back to the music stand and scribbled something down. "What's the matter with you? You've clearly come here for something. What is it? Tell me quickly, I'm busy," he spat out.

"Busy...right," John said under his breath as he took in the state of the flat.

It was a general mess, not that is was ever too much different. It had certainly improved with Molly's presence though, so it looked different compared to the last time John had been there. Sherlock looked a mess as well. He was in pajamas, and his hair was looking especially wild. John glanced over at the wall above the couch, and saw that it was covered in papers and evidence of all kinds. He looked a bit closer and ascertained that is was all Moriarty related information. There was intelligence from Mycroft, there were notes made by Sherlock, there were bits of information from his homeless network...it was extensive. There was a stack of papers on the table left by Mrs. Hudson, no doubt, and John moved them a bit to examine the headlines. They had a number of stories questioning, what was going on with Sherlock and Molly? Was Sherlolly over? Had Molly dumped him and left? Had Sherlock kicked her out? Why Sherlock's absence from Bart's hospital?

John cleared his throat. "Yeah, um, Lestrade called and he'd like our help with a case."

Sherlock's head shot up. "What sort of case?"

"It's a murder…unidentified woman. They're hoping to, you know, figure out who she is. So he'd like for you to take a look at the body...right now." Before Molly's shift ends, John thought.

Sherlock straightened up and his eyes brightened a tiny bit. "I suppose. Let me just have a shower, and we'll meet Lestrade at Bart's. Would you text him for me?"

"Sure thing, yep, I'll do that," John said with a smile as Sherlock strode past him and then disappeared down the hallway.

HE BOUGHT IT. WE SHOULD BE THERE IN ABOUT A HALF HOUR. -JW

OK. I'LL TELL MOLLY WE NEED TO HAVE ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BODY. -GL

John put his mobile away again and sighed heavily. "This had better work," he said to himself.


About a half hour later, Sherlock and John strolled down the hallway in Bart's basement and made their way to the morgue. When they went in, there was Lestrade talking to Molly. They stood by the table that held the dead woman's body. When Molly turned and saw Sherlock, it was clear to him that she hadn't realized he would be coming in.

"Hi, John...hi, Sherlock," Molly said with a quick smile at both of them.

"Molly," Sherlock acknowledged softly, and John noted that his eyes were immediately glued to the woman as she moved around the table and pulled the sheet down around the woman's chest.

"Anything you can...deduce, would be just great, Sherlock," Lestrade said with a smile. "I'd really like to figure out who this woman is and just put the case to rest."

Sherlock moved around the table, observing the state of the body and everything else he could take in. He lifted the woman's hand, looking at her fingers. "Some sort of residue under her finger nails," he noted aloud.

"Really?" Lestrade eagerly jumped in right away. "And what do you think it is?"

"Chalk dust," Molly interjected. "I told you that yesterday, Greg, remember?"

Sherlock frowned back and forth between them for a second. He went on. "Yes, that's what I was thinking myself actually...so, seeing that it is in fact chalk dust, as confirmed by Molly, my best guess would be that she was a teacher of some sort. You may want to start inquiring if there's any teachers who haven't shown up for work in the area."

"Oh, right...interesting. Ok, I'll check into that." Lestrade stood there nodding happily. "Anything else you can gather? Any other details at all?"

Sherlock began looking over the body again, but just then, Anderson came in.

"They said I'd find you here, Greg." Anderson noted the rest of the people in the room and smiled broadly, "Hello everyone."

"I'm actually kind of busy right now, Anderson," Greg began.

"This is quick. I was just told to give you this. They got the contact information you'd asked for. You know, for the family of the dead woman you identified a couple hours ago."

Greg turned away from the rest of them and was making frantic facial expressions at Anderson, trying to convey his need to stop talking. John had also taken a small step away and tried to hide his face, hoping Sherlock didn't look at him.

Sherlock narrowed his eyes in Anderson's direction. "What dead woman?"

Anderson was confused by the faces that Greg was making at him, but he answered Sherlock. "The uh, middle aged teacher." He opened the file and glanced over at the table. "Oh, yeah, that's her...what?"

There was silence for a moment in the morgue as Lestrade and John tried desperately not to make eye contact with anyone else, Molly and Sherlock frowned and wondered what was going on, and Anderson simply looked around at all of them in total confusion.

"Greg, um, were you going to get me that information if you already knew who she was?" Molly asked, breaking the silence. "I'd need to do the paperwork."

"I- I didn't exactly...know. I mean, maybe not for certain. I just um, I was covering all my bases, and..." Lestrade's words trailed off as the tall detective walked over closer to him and eyed him carefully.

"If you already knew who she was...then why did you ask me here?" Sherlock asked in a low suspicious voice.

Lestrade hesitated and couldn't help glancing in John's direction. Sherlock noticed this right away and whirled to look at John. The second he made eye contact with his friend, it all clicked. And then Sherlock looked at Molly.

"She had nothing to do-" John began. But Sherlock immediately cut him off.

"Nobody needs to tell me that she had nothing to do with this! Hello, I'm your best friend, Sherlock Holmes the consulting detective. I tend to notice things! I took one look at her, and I knew she hadn't expected me to walk in here. Am I right, Molly? Lestrade only mentioned he'd need another look at the body didn't he?"

Molly looked around at all the men, and she began to figure things out as well. "Um, yeah, he didn't say you were coming."

Sherlock whipped off the gloves he'd put on and threw them on the floor. "Oh well, this is just brilliant!" he gushed sarcastically. "Just a reminder, just a small note for your consideration...that this does still happen to be my life. And I don't appreciate any of you meddling in it! If I ever have a sudden difficulty with gathering information and making decisions, I'll be sure to be in touch!"

As he walked away, he looked at the obviously embarrassed pathologist and said a quick goodbye in the form of her name.

"Molly." He gave her a little nod, and then pushed his way past Anderson and out the doors.

Molly took a moment to process everything, but finally walked over and looked at Lestrade and John. "You know I really- I understand you're just trying to help, but...I don't think you considered that doing something like this could actually push him away. Perhaps you should have considered...everything." Molly blinked rapidly, and pressed her lips together.

John sighed and tried to reach out and touch her arm, but she quickly muttered a shaky "its ok" and then rushed off through another door.

The three men were left standing there awkwardly in the morgue.

"Well that went well," Greg said pinching the bridge of his nose.

"So, let me get this straight...you two were trying to trick Sherlock into coming here, in an effort to get him and Molly talking?" Anderson asked, and the two men nodded at him. Anderson shrugged and made a little hum of thought. "Not how I would have done it..."

"Shut up, Anderson!" the two men said in unison.


John ascended the stairs of 221B Baker Street as slowly as possible; not looking forward to what awaited him at the top. It wasn't as if it usually pained John to say he was sorry, but he knew that Sherlock Holmes wasn't the kind of person to make an apology easy. That made the prospect a whole lot less desirable.

He approached the door and knocked lightly. The violin playing halted and Sherlock came to the door, opening it rather than calling for John to come in.

"Yes?" Sherlock questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"Come on, Sherlock, let me in. I am actually here to...apologize."

"Are you? I thought it more likely you were here to force more of your opinions on me." Sherlock stepped aside though and let John in before closing the door again.

"Look, I am sorry. I didn't know what else to do. Mary and I, we've already told you what we think, and you haven't listened. And poor Mrs. Hudson was about to have a heart attack from the stress level in this place. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I just got you talking with Molly again..."

"I'd what? Suddenly propose? John, you know me and you know why I'm doing this. There's no point to pushing me in a different direction. You of all people understand how dangerous Moriarty is! Why would you ask me to ignore that just for a bit of romance?!"

John shook his head then raised his voice considerably as he answered. "Because, Sherlock, that bit of romance is bloody fantastic! And you will never, never experience anything else that compares to it, no matter how hard you work your brain!"

Sherlock stared back at him for a moment, then he said calmly, "But you'd have me put Molly's life at risk for that? What if it was Mary? Would you knowingly put her at greater risk, if that's what being with her meant?"

John sighed as he went over to take a seat in his chair. "I don't know, Sherlock. Honestly, I don't know. But I can tell you absolutely that physical danger isn't always the most important thing. Sometimes emotions are more important. I mean, if safety was always the most important thing, then I'd have picked up and left a long time ago. I would have taken Mary and Elizabeth and we would be living off in the woods somewhere. There are people around here who'd love to kill me. There are people around here who'd love to kill Mary. And some of that has to do with you...but neither of us would ever leave you. You're our friend and we care about you as much as we care about ourselves. Would we be safer if we had nothing to do with you ever again? Maybe...but I don't think that we could do that. And I know that's how it works with Molly too."

Sherlock nodded. "And that's why I'm making this decision for her. She would choose me, and I can't let that happen."

"Sherlock, I told you before, that's not fair. You can't choose this for her. This should be her decision too."

Sherlock took a seat in his own chair as well and ran his fingers through this hair. "Look, John...perhaps some day...perhaps the time will be right. It's a possibility. There's always the chance if...Moriarty was gone..."

John jumped in quickly. "What are you talking about? That is not valid logic, Sherlock. I'd like you to define for me, Moriarty being 'gone.' What do you mean by that exactly? How can you ever really feel confident that he is gone? He was dead! You watched him put a bullet in his brain! Could someone get more seemingly gone than that? And yet, here he is. He's back."

Sherlock listened silently as he rested his chin on his clasped hands.

"Sherlock...there will always be Moriarty, even if he is gone one day. If he gets caught and put away, well one day he could be released. Or he's got people on the outside seeking revenge for him. Or if he really dies, he's got a plan set in place for his criminal legacy to continue on. And even if you take Moriarty and all of his people out of the picture, there could be other people. There will always be people who hate you, Sherlock. And some of them even want to hurt you or kill you. They may not be Moriarty, but anyone can pull a trigger when someone least expects it. It will never end. That's the reality."

Sherlock looked up at John, with an expression that was a mix of sadness and desperation. He spoke in a low whisper. "I can't let any of them win. I can't let Moriarty win...when it comes to her."

John nodded as he thought about his friend's words. "Right," he answered softly.

But he suddenly felt more confident than he ever had before, to make his closing statement to the brilliant Sherlock Holmes. John got up from his chair and walked toward the door, but he turned before leaving.

"I'm sorry to say this, Sherlock, but I think the truth is that when it comes to Molly Hooper...Moriarty's already won."

Sherlock's head shot up and he frowned at John as he went on.

"Have you ever thought about what Moriarty wants? I mean, what he really wants at the end of the day. Do you think that all he wants is to keep you away from his business? What if that's just what's on the surface? Moriarty is smart. Don't you think he knows that if he threatens the woman you love, you'll do whatever you have to do to keep her safe? And I think he knows very well that it could include you deciding to selflessly stay far away from her. Maybe what he really wants is to control you. He's tried to ruin you before. I'm sure he'd be very happy to do it again. Except maybe this time, he just wants to ruin your happiness. You become the miserable lonely detective that can't have a life because you can't risk hurting anyone. And then all you've got is the work. Just like before. Moriarty can ruin you by breaking you down, and taking away what you love. And don't think for one minute that you're somehow too strong to let it hurt you. Right now, right here in this moment...Moriarty is winning, and you, Sherlock...are losing."

Sherlock stared back at him with wide eyes. He said nothing, and after a moment, he looked straight ahead of him again. His eyes darted back and forth, and John knew he was thinking. He was probably desperately trying to mentally disprove the things he'd just heard.

John then reached into his jacket and pulled out a file folder. One more last ditch effort...

"I'm leaving this, Sherlock. Mary had given it to me to bring over. It's basically everything of significance that she collected from the internet and the tabloids over the past couple of months. She made hard copies of all of it. She uh, figures things have calmed down a lot since Molly moved out. So she thought you should just hold onto this. Maybe you'd like to...file it or something..."

Sherlock continued to stare across the room, not acknowledging John's words.

"Right, well...I'll just leave it then." John set the file on the table and stepped away. "I'll um, talk to you soon, Sherlock."

John turned and exited the flat, closing the door behind him. Only then did Sherlock's gaze flicker over to the door...and then to the file that rested on the table.


"Hey, how'd it go?" Mary asked when she answered the call from her husband.

John gave his home address to the cabbie before answering his wife. "Well, who knows? He's Sherlock. Hard to know sometimes what gets through and what doesn't. But I said what I needed to say. I mean, there's always hope as long as they're both alive and breathing, I suppose."

"And did he take the file?" Mary asked.


Sherlock got up slowly from his seat by the fireplace and walked over to the table where the file rested. He stuck his hands in his dressing gown pockets at first. He looked at the plain white file for a long time, staring at the label scribbled in Mary's handwriting across the front.


"I left it for him, and I told him what it was. Who knows what'll happen to it though. That's up to him. Maybe he'll look at it. Maybe he'll file it away under a million other things. Maybe he'll burn it...I don't know. We just have to wait and see."

John could hear his wife's smile over the phone as she spoke, and he could see it in his mind's eye.

"It'll work out, John. I think it will. Believe me; I wasn't just collecting evidence of Moriarty for all those weeks. There's a lot of evidence in that file that proves something very different...and I think he'll see that."


Slowly, Sherlock took his hands out of his pockets and leaned down. He picked up the rather thick file and looked at it, as it now rested between his fingers. And before he set it back down, and walked away to make some much needed tea...he briefly touched the label on the front, which read...

Sherlolly

Chapter Text

Molly put her gloves and safety glasses on. She began prepping the tools and the area. All the while, she was thinking furiously. Honestly, she'd been thinking furiously for days. She wished she could stop and shut her mind off.

At work the day before, she'd made an effort to distract herself by listening to the music on her mobile. She was alone, so she figured it was a good opportunity...that plan didn't go so well though. She had ended up listening to her 'sad love songs' playlist on a loop and spent half the day trying to fight back tears. By the time she'd returned to her flat that evening, she'd been close to angrily deleting every song.

She was currently playing her favorite, and most maddening mental game: How do I treat Sherlock now? She was constantly bouncing back and forth between her options. In her moments of clarity and control, she would remind herself that she was a strong independent woman who shouldn't have to chase anyone down. She would tell herself that Sherlock had better come asking to be with her if she would allow anything to happen again. Let him come around in his own time, or never at all!

But then on the other hand, she was reminded of the effect she could have on the man. He had feelings for her, and he was attracted to her. So in her more passionate and hurt moments, she would angrily vow to make every moment he spent with her absolute torture. She'd jump on him every time he entered that morgue if she had to! He was bound to break down if she just kept at him...he had to!

But then she'd bounce back to the other line of reasoning again. It was an endless circle of indecision. And she didn't see much hope for a solution either. She wished it would go away, wished it would all go away, and she could just be happy. And she really wanted to be happy with Sherlock. And she honestly didn't care what that entailed.

The truth was that she would go up against Jim Moriarty in hand-to-hand combat if it meant being with Sherlock Holmes. But she knew Sherlock wouldn't want her taking Moriarty on in a card game, let alone putting her life further at risk. Stupid, stubborn, Sherlock...

"Stupid git," she muttered through clenched teeth.

"Sorry, Dr. Hooper?"

Molly turned to Lenny the intern, shaking herself from her thoughts. "Oh, um, it's nothing. You're doing fine, Lenny, just keep going," she said to the young man and gave him a quick smile.

It was probably best that she wasn't alone today. It would be a good distraction from her endless stream of Sherlock-related headaches. She told herself for the millionth time that it would get better. Every day that went by, she would be bothered a bit less. Every time she saw him her heart would hurt a little less in his presence. One way or another, she promised herself it would get easier.

She was just about to tell the intern to begin making the incision, when the door to the morgue swung open and crashed against the wall.

There stood Sherlock, seeming a little out of breath, looking across the room at her with rather wild eyes.

Oh God, she thought as her brown eyes connected to his sea green ones. It's not getting easier yet...


3 Days Earlier

Sherlock made a conscious effort to stay out of that file, he really did. When John left that day, he made himself some tea and drank it calmly. He did some work on his website and then played the violin for a while. And he didn't even play any of the songs that made him think of Molly.

He also tried not to think about all that John had said. He had pushed it off almost immediately as sentimental ramblings, and felt very sure that his reasoning was the logical option. He just knew that he couldn't do this to Molly. He couldn't alter her life in this way. It would not end well. And he was sure there would be an ending.

But later that evening, as he stood scanning the wall that was covered with evidence, he remembered a couple of the things that Mary had found about Moriarty while watching social media...he supposed those things were relevant pieces of evidence...

Sherlock opened the file and was pleasantly surprised to find the items he was searching for right on the top of the pile. There was the fan fiction that detailed the horrible story of the shooter in Bart's, and there was the fan art of Sherlock kissing Molly in the pub with an apple sitting on the bar behind them. He took the two items and went over to the wall. After some difficulty, he found places to put them, though they still partially covered up a couple other papers. As he pinned them to the wall, he felt the memory of Molly's body against his own as he had held her in his arms outside the hospital.

He came back over to close up the file and noticed the article by Kitty Riley that was now on the top. He hesitated, but decided to include that in his evidence as well. He put that up on the wall too.

And that's how it began. It started with just a couple pieces of paper...but it didn't stop there.

Over the next three days, Sherlock went about his business. He took some cases, and he did a few experiments with what little he had left to work with in his flat. He kept himself busy. Sherlock very carefully kept his mind occupied. He didn't want to spend too much time dwelling on the things he'd recently heard and lived.

And yet, as Sherlock went about his daily tasks, he kept going back to that file. He'd walk past, chewing on some toast, and just flip it open. He'd stop playing his violin and grab a paper to pin it up before resuming his playing. Or he'd gravitate to it out of boredom, when listening to an irritatingly simple client.

He'd pick up the next item and examine it with what he thought was an objective eye, and would then proceed to find some reason that it would need to be referenced again. He'd find a fan fiction that included a mention of the consulting criminal and decide that it was relevant. He'd notice a piece of fan art that featured crime solving, and would feel that it had to do with his work. He found the tabloid article about Molly going out to lunch with her old friend from school. He questioned whether anybody knew why he'd really come back to the city right then. Perhaps he'd been paid?

At first he found legitimate reasons for everything...but that only lasted for so long. After the first day or so, it became almost unconscious. His methods for deciding what stayed and what didn't began to change. After a while, he would pick up a photo or a drawing and simply let out a short chuckle before adding it to the collection. The change was gradual enough that Sherlock didn't even realize what was happening.

On that third day after last seeing John, he got a text from Mary.

HI SHERLOCK. ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? WE'RE WORRIED ABOUT YOU. YOU KNOW YOU'RE WELCOME HERE ANYTIME IF YOU'RE LONELY... -MW

Sherlock made a huffing noise of contempt at the text. He wondered how unstable his friends really thought him to be! It had only been a few days. Could they really not envision him coping with some solitude for a few days? He could sometimes go days without speaking to John, even when he lived at Baker Street!

He blew an indignant puff of air from his lips as he locked his mobile screen once again. He didn't feel at all in the mood to answer such a text.

Sherlock walked over and flipped open the 'Sherlolly' file. He grabbed a news clipping. He walked over and absentmindedly pinned it to the wall, barely looking at where he'd placed it this time. Though he hadn't really been paying much attention to that for the past day or so. He then sat down to solve a couple second-rate cases by email.

A couple of hours later, he got a call from Mycroft.

"What?"

"I'm fine, thank you. How are you, Sherlock?" Mycroft oozed sarcasm.

"Busy, Mycroft. That's how I am."

"Oh yes! You've been busy in your flat for days now haven't you? And what is it that you're busy with exactly? Experimenting on Mrs. Hudson's left over chicken bones again? Or are you perhaps improving on your sock index?"

"I am busy...that's all." Sherlock pouted a little as he leaned back in his chair.

"Well I won't take much of your precious time then. I wanted to inform you that we've intercepted some terrorist plans. There may be a threat to a French airline in the next few days...and it seems that Moriarty has a hand in it."

Sherlock raised an eyebrow and became more interested. "You're sure?"

"I've just emailed you what we have. I think you'll agree once you see the file I've sent. The pattern seems pretty clear."

Sherlock went to his email and opened the attached file. He briefly looked at the pages before hitting the print button.

"I've got them," he said simply to Mycroft.

"We may need to fly you out there, perhaps in the next day or two. I would ask if that's agreeable to you, but it's not as if you have much of an option, do you? I don't want anyone complaining that we brought you back."

Sherlock grabbed the sheets of paper that the printer spat out. "We can't have that, can we?" he asked sarcastically. Then Sherlock turned around and walked back to the middle of the room as he examined the evidence Mycroft had sent.

"I've been collecting my own evidence as well," Sherlock continued, as he read the papers. "In fact, I'll be glad to add this to-"

Sherlock stopped mid-sentence. He had turned around, facing the couch and wall behind it. His eyes doubled in size as he scanned the wall. He began walking forward, and stepped over the table till he was standing closer to where his eyes focused.

"Sherlock, what are you doing? I'm busy as well, I hope you know!"

"A moment please," Sherlock said flatly, barely registering his brother anymore. All he could see was the wall before him.

He looked everywhere, over and over again. Where was it all? It was gone. All of it was just gone...but no, not gone. It was covered.

Sherlock could only see one thing now...Molly.

He glanced down at the table that was right behind his legs, and he saw what he now guessed he would. There sat the open and empty file folder. Had he really taken everything out? He realized now that he must have. It was instead, all there in front of him, all over his wall. Not one thing had been left untouched in that file. He looked up at the wall again.

There he was in the pub, grasping Molly's face between his hands and consuming her mouth with kisses. There he was with his arm wrapped around her as he hailed a cab outside of Bart's. There was Molly going into the women's locker room at his urging, that late night at Bart's. And there they were, clinging to each other outside the hospital after the shooter had been caught. There were countless shots of his and Molly's entrances and exits at Bart's and here at Baker Street. And there were so many artists' depictions of many of the photographed moments.

There was Molly in each photograph, with that determined look on her little face. Looking brave, and strong, and showing almost none of the vulnerable emotion that Sherlock knew bubbled just below the surface. He reached out and almost touched one of the intricately done sketches of her face as she stood with his arm wrapped around her.

And it was only then, as he stood facing weeks' worth of the world's view of himself and Molly, that his mind allowed John's words to come flooding back to him. He heard it all loud and clear...everything he thought he'd immediately discarded.

Physical danger isn't always the most important thing...

...You can't choose for her...

...There will always be Moriarty...it will never end...

...You become the miserable lonely detective that can't have a life because you can't risk hurting anyone...

...Moriarty is winning, and you, Sherlock...are losing.

Sherlock's jaw dropped a bit as he stared at the wall. He felt like he was staring into the face of what he was losing. He stepped back again, taking in the broader view. And as he looked at all the sheets of paper and drawings that covered over all traces of his previous focus on Moriarty, he realized that what he was seeing was really incredibly simple.

He saw what was most important.

"Sherlock! Sherlock!" He heard the muffled yelling of his brother and realized that the hand holding his mobile had dropped to his side. He lifted his arm and brought the phone back to his ear.

"Yes...I'm here," he said after swallowing hard.

"What is the matter with you? I need to know if you're taking care of this! Can I book you a flight?" Mycroft asked, in irritation.

Sherlock began to smile slowly and he came back to his senses enough to answer Mycroft properly.

"Yes, Mycroft, I am most certainly taking care of it." As he spoke, he buttoned up his suit jacket and then slipped his coat on. "Though, I have to confess I'll be taking care of something else first."

"Something else? What are you talking about? We have to think of Moriarty right now," his brother very firmly emphasized.

"Oh, don't worry. I am thinking of Moriarty," Sherlock said as he smiled and glanced at his wall again before walking out of his flat. "And I can assure you of this...I won't be letting him win."


Back at Bart's Hospital...

No words were spoken right away. Molly and Sherlock simply looked at each other. Finally, Sherlock swallowed thickly and licked his lips.

"Molly," he began, but his eyes then flicked over to the intern who was also standing there. He hadn't quite registered the man's presence till that moment. Sherlock's gaze hardened.

"You." He pointed to the intern next to Molly. "Out...now!" He gestured to the door that he still held open behind him.

Lenny the intern looked quickly back and forth between Sherlock and Molly, and began stuttering out an answer. "B-but I was...just about to start assisting Dr. Hooper in-"

"Not anymore," Sherlock cut in. "Now you're just about to leave!"

"Sherlock!" Molly said, but then the intern continued

"Who are you anyway?" Lenny asked with a frown.

"Lenny, this is Sherlock Holmes. He's a detective. He sort of...works here sometimes...Sherlock this is-"

Sherlock rolled his eyes and flipped his hand in a 'let's get on with it' sort of way. "Lenny the intern, yes I can see that! Introductions made, I think we're all perfectly clear on who everyone is...and now Lenny was just leaving!" He gestured to the door once again.

"Sherlock!" Molly hissed in a chastising tone.

"Molly!" he parroted and widened his eyes in an expression that desperately tried to convey the need to get that man out!

Molly saw the look on Sherlock's face and immediately felt color rising in her cheeks. She didn't want to jump to conclusions, but...

"Um, Lenny, could you give us five minutes?" she asked sweetly, turning to the poor confused man.

"Twenty!" Sherlock countered.

Molly sighed. "Give us ten minutes, Lenny."

Sherlock gave Molly another heated look, which made her blush even deeper. "You're going to wish you said twenty."

Lenny looked back and forth between the two people who were now staring at each other again. "Would somebody tell me for sure how long I need to be gone for?!"

Molly licked her lips and looked back at him. "Um...why don't you just take your break now?"

"But I just got here!"

"Well, you can take another break later...I won't tell the supervisor."

Lenny sighed. "Fine!" He put down the scalpel and pulled off his gloves.

Lenny walked out of the morgue past Sherlock and he gave Lenny a grin now that he'd gotten his way.

"Pleasure to meet you, Lenny; do try not to fail your next exam as badly as your last one."

"Wait, how did you know-" Lenny had turned around to ask, but Sherlock then quickly shut the morgue door.

With the door shut, Sherlock turned back toward Molly who was still across the room watching him. He cleared his throat and rolled his shoulders quickly...then he started walking.

Sherlock crossed the room, stopping in front of Molly in seconds, and immediately reached up to grasp the safety glasses she was wearing. He carefully took hold of the edges and began easing them off her face.

"W-what are you- doing?" she questioned, still holding her gloved hands out and away from her body.

Sherlock's eyes bored into hers as he discarded the safety glasses. He practically growled his answer as he cradled her head with both hands, and his face began to descend. "Being a selfish sociopath."

The words "Oh, thank God" just barely had time to tumble from her lips before Sherlock's own mouth locked onto them...and it was instantly unlike either of the previous kisses Molly had experienced with Sherlock Holmes.

The first time he'd kissed her in the pub, it was passionate, but such a whirlwind experience. She'd barely had time to register what was happening before it was ending. Their last kiss had also been passionate, but it was tainted by pain. She'd been hurt and angry, and she'd been able to tell that his mind was unwilling, despite the fact that his body felt differently.

This kiss was different.

There was a leisurely comfort to this kiss which she'd not experienced before. He tasted her mouth with his own in an almost painfully slow way, and it made Molly think only one thing...he's happy here.

Sherlock slid his hands down her neck, over her shoulders, and down the length of her arms till he reached her hands. He hooked his fingers into the edges of her gloves, pulled them off with a snap, then tossed them behind him. Molly first laughed against his mouth and then she wrapped her arms around his neck, finally getting the close contact she wanted so much. Sherlock's arms were back around her then, holding her as tightly as she was holding him. Molly hummed out a sigh as Sherlock deepened the kiss.

But Molly's insecurities did begin to gradually creep in a bit. The reality set in and she realized that something had changed here. She couldn't help but worry a little about what that change really was...

Molly suddenly put her palms on Sherlock's chest and pulled away from his mouth with a smack. He immediately reached for her again, but she pushed back.

"Wait! Wait!" she said between panting breaths. "W-what is this? I mean, is there something I don't know? You're not trying to prove a point again, are you?"

Sherlock chuckled as he also took heavy breaths. He examined her face, as he cradled it in his hands again in a way that was much more intimate than any 'up and down' glance a man had ever given her.

"Actually, Molly, I suppose I am in fact proving a point...I'm proving that I want this, and I want you, and I want us. Perhaps that's really the point I was proving at the pub those months ago, but I just didn't see it yet. I only just recently saw what was actually most important. But now that I know, I swear I won't let anything get in the way again...because I am in love with you."

Molly stared up at him and blinked a couple times before finding words to respond. Her lips gave way to a half smile as she made the statement that was also a bit of a question. "Even if you wish you weren't."

Sherlock smiled too as he slowly shook his head. "No, Molly, there is no even if...I just love you."

Molly's eyes began to glisten and she bit her lip to control the grin from spreading to a painful width. She then dove back into Sherlock, wrapping her arms around his neck, burying her fingers in his curls and pressing her lips to his again. But this time it was Sherlock who pulled back, stopping the kiss.

"I should say something though." He cleared his throat, trying to put on a serious expression. "I hope you know, this does genuinely put you at greater risk. You'll be publicly recognized as the woman I'm in love with, thus making you the most attractive...literally...target for any and all of my enemies. And I'm not saying that I don't care about that. I do care, and I want to make sure you're as safe as possible. This will change things...it will change your life a bit."

"I certainly hope so," she whispered hotly as she pulled him down again and initiated a rather hungry kiss. A low noise of approval left Sherlock's mouth and was echoed by Molly as he lifted her off the ground a little.

Sherlock soon set her down again though and broke the kiss. He took a few deep breaths and ran fingers through his hair. "I think this had better be saved for another time...and place. It would probably be unwise to reenact some of the more inventive fan fictions that were set in this very hospital."

Molly giggled and tried to fix her now disheveled hair. "Right, um...another time." She cleared her throat and looked up, trying not to jump on him all over again. "So, what now then? I mean, how do we do this?"

"Are you referring to everyone's knowledge about the status of our relationship?"

"Well, yes. Do we...tell people? What do we tell people?"

Sherlock shrugged. "No need to make any official announcements. Things will get out soon enough. God knows Anderson will make sure of that, if nothing else!" he added with an eye roll.

Molly laughed and grabbed onto the lapels of his coat, pulling herself in. "Perhaps you should give Anderson a bit more credit now. I mean, he did help things along that day in the pub, didn't he?"

Sherlock pouted a little. "I would have figured things out on my own...eventually."

"Mmm, sure." Molly couldn't resist leaning in to his lips again. Then she looked at him with brightly lit eyes. "So...my shift is over soon."

Sherlock let out a little huff. "I know that...I obviously timed it perfectly...come back to Baker Street with me." He leaned down to touch his forehead to hers.

Molly's cheeks colored again quickly. "Oh, um...I really should go to my flat."

"Yes, you'll need to get your things first," he said matter-of-factly.

"Sherlock!" she said, giving him a little shove while turning brighter red.

"What?!" he frowned. "You'll need your things if you're moving back!"

Molly's eyes widened. "Wait, moving back?! I thought you were asking me over for...a visit!"

"Yes, but now we're together." His eyes shifted back and forth in confusion.

"A half hour ago we weren't, and I thought we never would be!" Molly laughed. "This is a little fast. If this is about some kind of safety..."

"It's about me wanting you at Baker Street," he said holding her face again, but then he looked away and pressed his lips together for a moment before continuing. "Though it would be safer."

"I'm sure we can come up with some excellent ways to keep me safe," Molly said in a reassuring tone as she wrapped her hands around his wrists. "Look, let me finish up here, and then maybe we can at least share a cab."

Sherlock pouted a little more and the bridge of his nose crinkled. Molly smiled and reached up on her toes to press a kiss to the little worried spot. "I've always wanted to kiss you there...ok, go on. And I'll meet you outside in a bit."

Sherlock let out a sigh. "Fine." He gave her one more less-than-chaste kiss, then turned and left the morgue.

When he walked out, Lenny was standing outside the door looking uncomfortable.

"You can go back in now, Lenny. Forgive me though...she may be a bit distracted," Sherlock said with a happy smirk as he passed by the man.


About a half hour later, Molly got her things and went upstairs. Sherlock sat in the lobby of the hospital, waiting for her. Molly looked past him a little, to the people outside.

"Sherlock...are those reporters? Why are they looking at us?"

Sherlock looked a little sheepish. "When I arrived...running in here...I may have been asked by a bystander if I was going to see you...I may have said yes."

Molly laughed, looking back and forth between him and the reporters outside. "Right, well you're not very good at being discreet, are you?"

Sherlock shrugged. "They'll find out anyway...especially once you move back to Baker Street."

Molly sighed and locked her fingers with his. "We'll discuss it, Sherlock...eventually."

"Come on...let's get a cab." Sherlock gave her a small smile.


"I'm going over there, Mary." John pulled his coat over his shoulders.

"I just can't understand why he wouldn't have at least responded to my text. He usually does." Mary bounced Lizzie a bit as she walked around the room. She looked as worried as John.

"I'll call you when I get there. I'll try to get him to come back here. He really shouldn't be alone so much right now. If Mycroft knew the half of it, he'd be insisting Sherlock be watched at all times right now!"

"We'll make sure he's alright, don't worry...just call me when you know anything, ok?"

John kissed Mary and Lizzie. "Ok, talk to you soon."

Mary sighed after John had left the flat. She looked down at Lizzie. "Your uncle had better be all right, or he's in big trouble."


Sherlock and Molly walked through the few reporters and some other curious people as well. Their hands were still clasped together as he led the way out of the hospital, and Molly did her best to ignore the barrage of questions.

"Sherlock! Are you and Molly together again?!"

"What happened at Baker Street?!"

"Will you be moving back?!"

"Can we expect a happy announcement any time soon?!"

"Sherlock! Molly! Can't we get a picture?!"

Sherlock put his arm around Molly as he got a cab. When it stopped, he got her in first and then turned to face the people standing behind him with an uncharacteristic smile.

"Good evening," he said with a small nod, and got in the cab.

Molly gave her address, and just as the cab began moving she gave a little squeak of laughter as Sherlock slid over to encircle her in his arms and began kissing her again.

As they drove away, even through the closed windows of the cab, they could hear a lot of excited screaming behind them.


John ascended the steps to 221B and knocked at the door...but it was silent inside. He quickly took out his spare key and opened the door. He went in and turned the corner looking in the kitchen and down the hallway. As he did, his mobile rang.

"Mary?"

"Oh my God! Oh my God, John, I have to send you some pictures!" Mary sputtered out in laughter. "I've just been on Twitter!"

"What's going on?" John questioned, not in a very humorous mood yet. But then he left the kitchen and turned the corner...and saw what was on the wall above Sherlock's couch. His smile began to spread and his own laughter began. "Oh...my...God."

"What? I haven't sent you anything yet."

"Hang up, Mary! Hang up, because I have to send you pictures!"

"Ok, but mine are better!"

"Oooh, I don't know!" he laughed. "Ok, bye."

John shook his head as he stared at the wall. He shook his head and laughed, and generally just couldn't stop smiling as he took pictures and sent them to Mary. He even included a picture of the now empty Sherlolly file folder.

A second later, he received copies of tweets and pictures from Mary. Then John absolutely lost it.

There was Sherlock marching out of Bart's holding Molly's hand. And there they were in the back of a cab. You couldn't see terribly well, but the pictures were plenty clear in showing the two of them kissing in the back seat as the cab drove away! John then got a text from Mary.

OMG OMG! THE WALL! I CAN'T STOP LAUGHING AND SMILING! MY STOMACH HURTS! :D -MW

John wiped tears of laughter from his own eyes and took a couple deep breaths, trying to calm down. He decided he'd never in a million years let anything happen to the pictures he'd just taken. He took another look at the wall before him and smiled happily.

Because for once, the rest of the world had observed long ago, something that Sherlock Holmes had missed.

But finally, finally...Sherlock had seen it.

Chapter Text

Molly opened her eyes and stretched a little. She woke feeling so incredibly rested and relaxed that she didn't even have the desire to go back to sleep. She actually felt like hopping right out of bed...especially since she really had to pee...but she quickly became aware of the arm that was draped across her middle. She turned her head carefully and saw that Sherlock was still peacefully sleeping next to her. He looked so lovely and still. She really didn't want to disturb him.

Molly carefully slid his arm off of her and placed it onto the bed, then slid her body over and got up, doing her best not to disturb the covers. She crept out of the room, picking up Sherlock's navy silk dressing gown on her way out.

Molly came out of the bathroom to the quiet flat and went to the kitchen. Toby had followed her and was especially happy to see his owner since he'd been completely shut out of the bedroom all night. He wasn't pleased about that. Molly tried to appease him by giving him lots of scratches and petting, then she gave him some food...which was what really won him over again.

After she'd done that, Molly got some coffee going. She took a couple of bites of one of the muffins that Mrs. Hudson had so nicely left for them the day before. Molly had grown very attached to the older woman, and really appreciated her kindness over the past few months...

It was really hard to believe that it had been almost six months since the day that Sherlock had marched into Bart's hospital and kissed her till she felt the pieces of her heart fitting back together again.

A lot had happened since then. A lot had happened right after that actually. After a bit of distance had been achieved between her's and Sherlock's mouthes in the back of that cab, she had learned even more from him...


"By the way, Molly," he said against her neck, "I'll most likely be flying out to France in the next day or two."

Molly pushed him backward enough to look at him, with concern. "For how long? And why are you going?"

Sherlock shrugged slightly. "Not long, I'm sure. A couple of days at most. And it's just a...terrorist plot...involving Moriarty." He proceeded to dive quickly back into her neck.

"Wh-what? Terrorist plot involving Moriarty?! Sherlock, that's serious!" she said in a slightly unsteady voice, working hard at speaking in complete sentences.

"Mmm, it's nothing, really. I'll have it taken care of and come straight back...promise."

"But I'm- I'll be nervous...a-and you can't let anything happen w-when we only just...mmm..."

"Hmm, who's the one worried about safety now, Molly?" When he chuckled deeply against her neck, the reverberations went directly through the skin. She couldn't think straight like this, let alone have a conversation.

Molly gripped the hair on the back of his head, pulling him back again to look at her.

"Ah! All right, fine!" he conceded and sat up again, now rubbing his scalp.

"Honestly, what are we going to do?" she asked, fixing her jumper and coat.

"The same thing I've been doing...I'll keep chasing him, Molly. I realize now that it doesn't have to be one or the other. We do our best to be careful, but I can't just let him go on being the criminal that he is."

"Well, I know. I wouldn't want you to let him have his run of the world. I was just meaning, how do we be careful?"

"Actually, I spent considerable time thinking about that while I was on my way over here today. I won't sacrifice being with you anymore, so I decided to come up with some new options for keeping you as safe as possible. Especially at times when I'm away. Hopefully these are things you're willing to try."

Molly smiled and touched his face. "I'm willing to try a lot of things, Sherlock, if it means being with you."

He smiled, and shifted his gaze a bit nervously. "How about trying...staying with my parents?"

Molly's eyes widened as her hand fell from his face. She quickly tried her best to soften her expression and appear more relaxed than she was. "Oh, um...sure. That's...an idea," she said with a nod.

"I realize that may not seem like the most logical safety procedure, but believe me when I tell you that the security and surveillance that is put into place for my parents' home is second only to that of Buckingham palace itself. My brother does not take chances."

"Well then, I'd be willing to do that, I suppose...if they'll have me."

Sherlock raised his eyebrows. "Trust me, Molly, you'll most likely be smothered. It's really just trading one nuisance for another."

"I'm sure they're lovely...I hope they like me." She chewed her bottom lip.

"It's not possible that they won't," he said, with an added kiss on her lips...


Things had actually worked out wonderfully. As discussed, she didn't move back into Baker Street right away, but they did set some general safety measures in place after that day. Sherlock, of course, demanded of Mycroft that Molly have a permanently high level of surveillance. And Molly did indeed begin staying with Mr. and Mrs. Holmes during times when Sherlock was out of town on cases. She came to be incredibly fond of those times.

Molly had lacked the experience of being in the company of both a father and mother figure for most of her life, so it was like a breath of fresh air. And of course, the Holmes parents fell completely in love with her. It became a bit of a joke, because after that initial instance, whenever Sherlock would announce he was to be out of town for more than a day, Molly's face would brighten and she'd get a bit excited. Sherlock would then pout and mutter something about how she used to be concerned at the prospect of an out-of-town case. Molly would usually just kiss him till he stopped complaining.

The tabloid gossip and internet excitement went on of course. It went crazy for a while, once the public got wind of the fact that Sherlock and Molly really and truly were Sherlolly now. Anderson's blog became even more popular, which he was profoundly proud of. And Mary was just as excited as the first moment she had seen a video of the scarf toss pub kiss. And of course, she never let Sherlock live it down that it was her compilation of Sherlolly findings that had flipped a switch in Sherlock's brain, making him see the truth. Though John would argue that his speech to Sherlock was equally, if not more convincing.

Things had fallen into a nice pattern, and it worked for everyone. Life changed...but it didn't change. And it made everyone happy in all the very best ways; in exactly the way that a good love should. And it progressed as well.

Sherlock was gone for a particularly long case a few months after they'd become a couple. It took him almost two weeks to find a missing person. Molly could tell that something was different when Sherlock came back that time. Though she wasn't immediately aware of exactly what Sherlock was thinking, it was abundantly clear that he was very glad to see her again...


Molly opened the door of the Holmes cottage when she saw Sherlock coming up the walk. He saw her and wordlessly rushed inside, picking her up in the process. Molly leaned in to kiss him and he met her kiss with a fierce passion she wasn't expecting...at least not in his parents' entryway.

Sherlock walked a couple of steps forward, till Molly's back hit a wall, then he continued snogging her like crazy.

Molly suddenly heard Mrs. Holmes' voice coming down the hall. "Is that Sherlock back already? I thought I heard the door- Oh honestly, Sherlock! Would you please try to control yourself?!"

Molly pushed Sherlock away till her feet hit the floor again. "Sorry, Mrs. Holmes," her voice cracked.

"No apology necessary, dear. I think we both know who's at fault." She pointed an accusatory finger at her son.

Sherlock rolled his eyes.

"Welcome back, son, and dinner will be ready soon," Mrs. Holmes said, and she looked sternly at Sherlock again. But Molly saw her smirking as she walked away again.

When she was out of view, Sherlock immediately cradled Molly's face again and pressed his lips to hers. He pulled away slowly and whispered, "I missed you."

"Really? I couldn't tell," Molly teased as she laughed. She ran her fingers through his hair and his eyes drooped shut. "Why'd you miss me so much?"

Sherlock shrugged, still not opening his eyes as he relaxed under the touch of her hands. "Don't know. I haven't stayed away this long since we've been together. I just...missed you." His eyes shot open and he looked at her intensely as he reached up to caress her face and asked in a low whisper. "We don't really have to stay, do we?"

Molly giggled a little and had to look away to maintain her composure. "Um, yes, we do have to stay. You know we do. Now, come on, we can...talk later." She squirmed away and pulled him by the hand toward the kitchen.

Sherlock followed with a loud groan of frustration...


Molly turned over her left hand that held the little blueberry muffin, and she smiled for the millionth time. The rose gold band with embedded diamonds smiled back at her by sparkling in the morning sunlight. And, as of yesterday, it was now accompanied by another thinner, plain band of rose gold.

Molly set the muffin down and went to prepare a cup of coffee for herself. She was looking forward to the hot liquid. It was a little chilly that fall morning, and Sherlock's dressing gown did little to keep her warm, with only the white silk nighty underneath. She smiled in amusement to herself, thinking of how much care she'd taken in choosing it...and how little it ended up mattering. She'd only been able to put it on to sleep in! And that reminded her...

After she'd made her coffee and taken a sip, she set the mug down and walked into the main room. There were a few things that still needed picking up. Her dress for instance!

Molly bent down and picked up the satin tea length gown. She frowned to herself, thinking that it wasn't really a good idea to dump your wedding gown on the floor in a messy heap. She decided she'd take it to be professionally cleaned and packed away as soon as possible. Molly laid it carefully over the back of John's chair to be hung up later. She picked up her shoes that were each at separate ends of the room. And then there were Sherlock's clothes!

She located his shoes, trousers, and suit jacket; all of which were strewn about the room. She picked up his white shirt from the hallway as well. The shine of his cuff links on the ground caught her eye too, and she made sure to scoop them up and put them carefully on the table. She covered her mouth to stifle the giggling when she noticed one of the buttons from Sherlock's shirt was in the hallway. Well, no one could claim she wasn't thrilled to be married!

And she hadn't expected it either. Molly genuinely didn't imagine that Sherlock was thinking of getting married...maybe ever.

But one day, a couple of months ago, she'd been at work having a very normal day, and Sherlock had come in to visit. She was just about to set up a body for an autopsy, and he had waltzed in smiling...


"Oh hi," she said after taking the kiss he offered. "Didn't know you were coming in."

"Just thought I'd drop by. This an interesting one?"

"Probably not. Looks like a heart attack, but I guess I'll find out for sure in a minute."

Sherlock strolled around the body, looking things over carefully. "Why don't you get me some gloves and I'll help you?"

"Um, ok, I suppose." Molly turned and walked away for a moment to get him the gloves, then came back. He looked a little suspicious when she handed the gloves over.

"Something wrong?" she asked.

"Well, it's just that, I see you didn't notice a personal item on the body."

"What? No, I packed everything up. She's clear of all personal items."

"Mmm...I don't think so. You'd better check again," he said confidently.

Molly made a little huffing noise of frustration. She was sure she'd checked. And it did irk her a bit when Sherlock came strolling into Bart's and immediately pointed out what she was doing wrong. It had been the cause of some of their very few arguments as a couple.

But she began circling around Mrs. Harold's body and examining it. She came to the woman's left hand and saw a ring on her finger. Though it was perched on the top half of her finger and clearly didn't fit.

"Hmm, I didn't see this before," Molly said, mostly to herself. "Better clean this up."

She went over to the sink and washed it with antiseptic soap, then she took her gloves off and dried the jewelry item, examining it as she came back over to where Sherlock was. She loved the understated diamonds that were embedded along the top of the band in a swirling pattern.

"It's really nice...really nice. I can't believe I would have missed this. And it looks brand new!"

"Mm, it is brand new," he said quickly.

Molly looked up at him. "Oh, you can tell?"

The corner of Sherlock's mouth turned up a little in a smile. "Actually I don't need to deduce that. I know it's brand new...because I'm the one that bought it...for you."

Molly froze and she realized that her mouth was hanging open. She stared back at Sherlock, then looked at the ring again, then looked back at Sherlock. She finally shut her mouth and swallowed hard. Was this really happening?

Sherlock took a few steps toward her and spoke again.

"I...hadn't been planning this for long. But a couple of weeks ago, when I went away, I was struck by how badly I missed you. I wanted nothing more than to be back with you again. I spent so long making sure that this...us...didn't happen. And when I was away and I didn't have you, I thought about how stupid that was. Even after I knew I was in love with you, I still believed that we shouldn't be together. I believed that I had to prevent Moriarty from taking you away from me. But of course I was, in reality, allowing him to do just that. I was allowing him to keep us apart."

Sherlock reached out and took her left hand before continuing. "I don't want anything or anyone to keep us apart, ever again. Now you and I both know that things can happen sometimes...bad things. So I don't imagine that the two of us will literally never be parted again. But...I do believe that if we do this, in a way...this is something that cannot be separated. No one can take this bond from us."

He reached out and took the ring from her now trembling fingers. "I do love you, Molly Hooper. I love you, and I want to be with you. I want to be there for you, and I want you to be there for me, just as we've been doing these past few months...and even long before that. Except I never want it to change. I know it hasn't been long, but I'm never going to love another woman like this. And forgive the lack of humility, but I think it's been rather conclusively proven that you will never love another man as much as me. So...I see no point in wasting any more time. I'd very much like for you to be my wife."

He stopped talking then and the two of them stared at each other. Sherlock was smiling at first, but it slowly began to fade. Molly's mouth had fallen open again and she was looking mutely back at him.

"How do you...feel about that idea, Molly?" he prompted, with a nervous frown.

Molly's eyes rapidly began to fill with tears and she worked to blink them away as she drew a shaky breath and tried to form words again with her trembling lips. She sniffled and wiped her eyes, then began to let out some sputters of laughter mixed with tears. Sherlock began to smile again, seeing her more positive reaction.

"I- I- Yes! Yes, of course, yes! Yes! I will marry you! Yes!...You need to start kissing me now, or I'm going keep saying yes like an idiot!" she laughed.

Sherlock grinned and slipped the ring quickly on her finger so that he could wrap his arms around her...and kiss her, he did.

When he finally pulled away a bit, Molly sighed happily. "God, I'm glad you felt the need to prove a point because of Anderson's theory all those months ago!"

Sherlock narrowed his eyes momentarily. "Forgive me, I'm about to sound like John, but...bringing up Philip Anderson in the midst of my proposing marriage is a bit...not good."

Molly laughed again and held him tighter while she pressed her face into his neck. "I love you...I love you so much." She lost count of how many times she said those words to him that day, against his neck...it was all a bit of a blur...


Molly was disturbed from her memories when she felt a pair of arms, and a sheet, wrap around her from behind. A pair of lips nestled themselves into the crook of her neck.

"Mrs. Holmes, why exactly are you up?" Sherlock murmured near her ear.

"Well, I don't know, I just woke up feeling so refreshed and rested." Molly leaned back against his chest. "Don't mind me though, I was just picking up the mess we made."

"Mmm, I recall that being mostly you...you seem to have a problem with buttons!"

Sherlock turned her around and began kissing her. Molly pulled away a moment later though.

"Oh, I made coffee! You want some?"

Sherlock pouted a little. "Why would I want coffee now? I want to go back to bed...with you."

Molly smiled and gave his sheet a tug. "Ok, ok...soon. I just wanted to get Toby fed, and make my coffee, and-" Molly let out an excited little gasp. "Oh my goodness! I just remembered!" She went back into the main room and came back with the decorative box. "I just remembered we have all our wedding cards to open!"

Sherlock's face fell. "You cannot be serious...we aren't actually going to open all of those, are we?!"

"What else do you do with cards?" Molly laughed.

"You keep them in the box! You keep them in the box, and get back into bed with your husband! That's what should be done with them."

"But we have a lifetime together, and the whole wedding experience is so short! We have to enjoy it!" Molly clapped her hands together excitedly.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and yawned. "Fine, give me coffee," he said with a sigh.

Molly bounced into the kitchen, giving him another kiss on the way.

Sherlock smiled, despite himself. He watched the small woman making him a cup of coffee and his heart swelled to an almost uncomfortable degree. It was difficult to imagine his life without her now, even though she hadn't been in it to this degree for very long. And he wondered how it was possible that he didn't think that this was "his area."

No matter what he had to do, or where he had to go, or who he had to face...this was home. This was where he came back to. She was what he could always come back to. And now, he wouldn't have it any other way. Sherlock was more than happy to be married to Molly Hooper...now Holmes.

The process of getting married though...that had been a different story. When Sherlock had asked her to be his wife, he hadn't really thought about all that it would entail. He should have, seeing as he was involved in the Watson wedding...but he didn't. Sherlock, as usual, didn't really think the rules applied to him. So when Molly began talking about where it would be, and when it would happen, and what everyone would eat, and what she would wear, and what he would wear...he got a little overwhelmed. He imagined that he would wake up one morning with a wife next to him. It would just sort of...happen.

Eventually though, compromises were made. Number one, they decided on the location and date. They moved fast, planning for a wedding only a couple months after Sherlock had proposed. They both just didn't see the need to wait. And as for a location, Sherlock's parents insisted that it be held at their country home.

This worked to Sherlock's advantage in keeping it small, which Molly didn't mind either. And it was also, thanks to Mycroft, an incredibly secure location. They hoped to avoid any surprise guests and reporters showing up.

One of the biggest hurdles Sherlock had to deal with was the wedding party. Molly had a couple of cousins she really wanted to include, and there was Mary, and then there was a friend from Bart's that she'd known for years. This posed a bit of a problem for Sherlock...


"There really has to be equal numbers of bridesmaids to groomsmen. It works best that way. Mary will of course walk with John, Cheryl from the hospital will walk with your brother, my cousin Laura will walk with Greg, and then that leaves my cousin Donna with nobody! You know what you need to do, Sherlock." Molly gave him a look and raised an eyebrow.

Sherlock shook his head slowly, with a grim look on his face. "No...no! I said I won't, and I meant it. I will not, I cannot, it is not an option!"

"Oh come on, Sherlock! It's one day...and you know it would mean the world to him."

"Precisely! I will not do it...I refuse!" Sherlock crossed his arms dramatically and turned away...


That didn't last though. Molly wore him down rather quickly. And John also took part in convincing him this was the best, and nicest, solution. Sherlock was loathed to agree, but in the end...he did...


Sherlock walked into the police station and found Anderson doing some filing in Lestrade's office.

"Oh hello, Sherlock! Greg's just stepped out. He should be back in about an hour."

Sherlock stepped into the office and cleared his throat. "Yes, well, I'm not actually looking for Lestrade at the moment...I was actually looking for you," he said with deep discomfort.

Anderson stood up from the file cabinet drawer immediately and his eyes widened. "Oh...something I can help you with?"

Sherlock was already resisting the urge to make snide remarks. "Yes...as a matter of fact, there is. It has come to my attention that it's not the thing to do to have uneven numbers of bridesmaids and groomsmen. It happens that Molly has four women on her side. I, at the moment, have three men on my side. So here you see the problem. I am apparently in need of one more groomsmen. This leads me to the reason for my coming to see you..."

At this point Sherlock looked at Anderson and saw that he was smiling and looking a bit emotional. Sherlock narrowed his eyes and looked around uncomfortably. He continued cautiously.

"So anyway...it would be rather helpful, numbers wise, if you were to be the fourth groomsman. If you're willing, that is..."

By this time, Anderson was trying not to become a blubbering mess. He walked over to Sherlock and held out his hand. Sherlock took the handshake hesitantly, and Anderson shook firmly.

"It would be my...honor," he said dramatically, "to be part of this joyous occasion, Sherlock! I couldn't be any happier to be a part of the big day!"

"Oh...excellent," the detective replied, shifting his gaze nervously. "Molly and I appreciate-"

But Sherlock's words were cut off when Anderson pulled the handshake forward and captured him in a bear hug. Sherlock grimaced the whole time, and tried not to involve his arms in the process. He repeatedly reminded himself that it was only one day...


Sherlock sipped his coffee while sitting in his chair. Molly had opened the box and dumped the pile of cards onto the floor in front of her. He was distracted by the fact that he could see the white silk on Molly's thigh peeking out from under his navy dressing gown.

"Exactly how long is this going to take?"

Molly shrugged. "I dunno...there are lots, aren't there?" she smiled.

"Unfortunately yes. I'm not sure why we need to open these. We already opened the Watson's card and gift. Not many more important people left!" he pouted.

"They're all important, Sherlock. They all love us and they're happy for us."

Sherlock looked over at the wall where the Watson's gift was hung. They had professionally enlarged and framed the shot that John had taken of the evidence wall covered with all of the Sherlolly items. Molly had been moved to tears of course. Sherlock had complained about the silliness, but in reality, even he would admit it was a clever gift.

And then there was the gift the groomsmen had given Sherlock...the gift of a stag night. Sherlock groaned inwardly when he thought about it again. Mycroft had refused to personally join in, on reasons of propriety, and said he'd pay for the whole night instead. In hindsight, Sherlock was glad that his brother bowed out...because he never would have heard the end of it. As it was, he would still have to do a lot over the course of his lifetime to make sure that the video footage Lestrade had taken was never shared!

He hadn't realized that John and Lestrade made a pact that Lestrade would not get drunk. They wanted him sober enough to take lots of video moments of the evening. So when Sherlock woke up the next morning, on the Watson's couch, he had half a dozen videos in his email...and they were terribly enlightening...


"What'r you doing here anyway? Are you in the wedding too?" Sherlock slurred, as he grabbed Anderson's shoulder. "This's the pub where I kissed Molly, y'know!" He gestured over to the bar where they had a framed picture of the 'scarf toss pub kiss.'

Anderson shook his head and pressed his lips together, clearly getting emotional. "Most...beautiful thing...I've ever seen."

Sherlock's face contorted briefly and he drew in a slow shaky breath. "You always...shhhhipped us...didn' you?"

Anderson nodded and slapped Sherlock on the back affectionately. "Always...shipped you two...ssso hard!"

Sherlock's head then shot up and he began gesturing to Anderson and looking around the pub, loudly announcing, "He knew...first thing he's eeeever deduced correctly!" Then Sherlock gave a short round of slow clapping in Anderson's honor, which nobody else around them actually paid attention to.

The entire video was punctuated by Greg's snorts of laughter behind the camera on his mobile. And then it cut to the one where Sherlock bumped into a random man as he was coming out of the loo.

"Whoa! You," he said poking the man's shoulder. "Be more careful! I'm getting married in..." He stopped to count in his head carefully. "Three days!"

The man, who was also clearly under the influence, nodded and shook Sherlock's hand ungracefully. Then Sherlock began to look at the man more carefully.

"Why'd you take that woman's number over there?" He lifted the man's left hand and pointed to the ring finger. "You're married! What's the matter with you?!"

Sherlock reached in the man's coat pocket and pulled out a paper with a phone number written on it. He pointedly ripped up the paper directly in front of the man's face and then sprinkled it over the man's head, causing it to fall like confetti.

At this point, John came over and began dragging Sherlock away from the scene of the crime. But Sherlock continued to talk over his shoulder at the man.

"Go! Go home and you say you're ssssorry! I hope she slaps you...three times!" he said while holding up the incorrect amount of fingers to indicate the number three...


Sherlock smirked to himself as he thought about that. In truth, that was some pretty entertaining footage...even if it did involve him making an idiot of himself.

"Oh look, how lovely! Mrs. Hudson gave us a gift certificate for that nice bedding store!" Molly exclaimed, and held up the card and accompanying gift.

Sherlock gave a dramatic sigh. "Mm, yes...bedding store, lovely. You know what bedding goes on? Beds...and they are best when there's people in them."

Molly gave him a weary look. "Point taken, Mr. Holmes. Just a few more, I promise. This is good stuff, you know, if you'd bother paying attention! And once again, we have our whole lives!"

"Yes...but I only have three days off till I need to go stop Moriarty from robbing a bank in Scotland! I had hoped to do little but sleep, eat, and...not sleep." His voice dropped at that last part and he added a heated glance for emphasis.

Molly blushed a little. "It's getting warmer than it was when I first got up." She took Sherlock's dressing gown off and tossed it over a chair while giving him a sly smile.

Sherlock smirked as he felt he was making some progress at getting his way. "Mm, I think you're right. Definitely getting warmer." He decided to discard his sheet...

Molly raised her eyebrow as she looked from him, back to the card in her hands. "I see you're actually wearing pants," she laughed.

Sherlock shrugged lazily. "It's a special occasion."

He looked down at the pile of cards again. He supposed it was...nice...that all these people had thought to give them cards or gifts. Though he was pretty sure that none of them would come near to moving Molly the way that his surprise gift had.

Molly had chosen the song "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis Presley for them to dance to. He certainly didn't object to it, and he could see the logic in the lyrics and how they fit...though he was pretty sure that he would have been much more of a fool to keep running away from Molly.

But almost right away, when she had decided on the song, he had come up with a slightly different plan of his own. And he had to admit that he was pretty excited when the big moment finally arrived...


"Let's get the bride and groom onto the dance floor! It's time for the first dance!" Sherlock's father announced into the microphone.

Molly grabbed Sherlock's hand and they walked out together. He took her hand and placed his other hand around her waist, and only then did he give her a playful little grimace.

"Sorry, Molly, you should know that there's a slight change of plans with our wedding song."

She looked surprised and nervous at first. "What? What happened? When did this happen?"

"Oh, don't worry...I took care of it." He gave her a little wink.

Molly frowned in confusion...then the music started playing...and her face almost immediately crumpled up in tears.

The sounds of "Can't Help Falling In Love" filled the air, but it was a violin that played the notes. And it was by far the most beautiful and moving version of the song she'd ever heard.

"Oh...oh my God! Is- is this you playing?" she managed to ask through sniffles.

Sherlock smiled down at her. "I hope you don't mind that I did my own rendition. I think it came out rather nice."

"Rather nice?!" she blubbered out. "This is amazing! Though I'm going to kill you for making me ugly-cry on the dance floor in front of everyone!"

He chuckled against her hair as she lay her head on his shoulder. "You're welcome," he whispered.

Molly knew that most of the pictures from that dance wouldn't even show her face, since most of the time she had it pressing into Sherlock's shirt. But she didn't care. It was the most beautiful experience for a first dance that she could ever imagine. And it meant all the more that Sherlock had actually come up with the idea on his own...


All in all, Sherlock knew he'd look back fondly on that day...even if weddings weren't exactly his area. He certainly would have been content to go sign a piece of paper, say a few words in front of a few people, and head back to Baker Street. But a small gathering consisting of family and close friends wasn't bad. And he knew that Molly appreciated the event. Not to mention his parents! His parents, or more accurately his mother, had practically threatened his life if he were to run off and get married without involving them.

Mycroft, on the other hand, had almost paid him to do just that. He was not thrilled with the idea of a wedding, let alone being a groomsman. But again, mummy Holmes had made a few choice threats, and Mycroft caved quickly.

Since he'd begun seeing Molly, his brother had warmed up to the idea of them together. And he took Molly's safety seriously, which was what Sherlock most wanted from him. Sherlock had given Mycroft explicit instructions to put Molly's safety above his own. And surprisingly, his brother had agreed with a solemn shake of Sherlock's hand. An understanding passed between the two men that day. From there forward, Sherlock didn't see the same cynical mocking attitude from Mycroft that he had before. He respected the love that Sherlock had for Molly.

Sherlock had finished his coffee now and was only half paying attention to the ten or so more cards that Molly had gone through since reading Mrs. Hudson's. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the arms of his chair as he watched Molly put aside another card with some money inside. It was as if these people thought he didn't make money being a consulting detective!

Sherlock's suddenly heard his mobile alerting him to a text and he looked around, wondering where it was. Molly jumped up.

"I think it's still in your trouser pocket!" She grabbed the trousers she'd picked up and set aside and pulled out his mobile. "It's a text from John."

She came back over and gave the phone to Sherlock and he opened the text.

MORNING. HOPE I'M NOT INTERRUPTING ANYTHING...DON'T ANSWER THAT PLEASE...JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT THE WEDDING NEWS GOT OUT. SO YOU'LL PROBABLY BE HOUNDED NEXT TIME YOU LEAVE THE FLAT. DID YOU GIVE ANDERSON PERMISSION TO POST ABOUT IT ON HIS BLOG? -JW

I GAVE ANDERSON STRICT INSTRUCTIONS TO SAY NOTHING TILL TODAY. HE MUST HAVE TAKEN ME SERIOUSLY AND POSTED FIRST THING THIS MORNING. NOT EXACTLY SURPRISING. -SH

HE'S PRETTY EXCITED THAT YOU INCLUDED HIM, SHERLOCK. HE'LL PROBABLY NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. -JW

THANKS FOR THE WARNING...NOW, I'VE GOT TO GO. YOU'RE ABOUT TO BE INTERRUPTING SOMETHING. -SH

NO...NO NO! SHUT UP, NOT ANOTHER WORD! MARY SAYS CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN, AND NOW I'LL SAY GOODBYE! -JW

Sherlock laughed to himself as he set his mobile down. "The word is officially out, Mrs. Holmes. Looks like the world knows we're married."

"Oh good!" she said cheerily. "Anderson's blog?"

"Obviously. He wasted no time."

"Well I think it's sweet...Oh speaking of which, look! Here's Anderson's card!" she announced, opening up the envelope and looking inside.

Sherlock rolled his eyes and sighed loudly. "All right! That's enough! I'm putting an end to the cards!" he said, jumping up.

Molly giggled as he came over to where she sat on the floor. "No look, it's really nice! He had everyone at the station pool money and they got us passes to the best museums in London!"

"Oh yes, lovely, very nice, how thoughtful...and I think we're done here!" he reached for the card, but Molly stood up, now moving about the room, trying to avoid him.

"I was enjoying the card!" she giggled as he wrapped an arm around her and took the card, tossing it back into the pile.

"Mm, not anymore," he said quickly before effortlessly picking her up and kissing her.

Molly melted into the kiss and let her hands drift happily into Sherlock's hair. She didn't have the strength or the desire to fend him off any longer. She was actually pretty relieved when he made his way through the kitchen and down the hallway to the bedroom.

Sherlock took them both down onto the bed, never breaking the kiss. He held Molly tightly as they both lay on their sides, and he used one hand to grab the blanket and pull it up over them. After a while, it was Molly who pulled away from his lips.

"Mmm," she sighed against his mouth. "I didn't get to tell you what Anderson's card said," she whispered.

"Not sure...that's...what I want to be hearing...right now." He punctuated every few words with warm kisses to her neck.

"It only said one thing inside...don't you want to know?" she asked with a little laughed.

Sherlock lifted his head again to face her. "Only if you insist on telling me," he whispered.

Molly grasped her husband's face between her palms and closed the distance between them, nuzzling her nose against his. She brushed her lips against his and Sherlock's eyes closed for a blissful moment, then she pulled back and whispered, "the card just said..."

"I TOLD YOU SO."

THE END