We are Always Striving for Things Forbidden,
and Coveting Those Denied Us
Dr. Hooper hated Dr. Watson. Or, to put it another way, Molly hated John. She hated him for inviting her to his wedding and being such a genuinely nice person that she couldn't bow out without feeling rude. She hated him for falling in love with a really nice woman and getting married. She hated him for moving ahead and finding joy and celebrating life and love, when Molly herself was stuck in a rut. Worse than a rut. A pit. A hole.
She knew it was wrong to resent other people's happiness, that such feelings were a clear sign that she was one step closer to becoming the bitter old maid she never wanted to be, some sort of medical nun. Having spent her entire time before uni in Catholic school, Molly had a healthy distaste for anything that even smacked of nuns. Yet here she was, alone, completely alone in the world, weighing brain after brain, cutting Y-incision after Y-incision. Nothing she did mattered; her patients were all dead, after all, so there wasn't much danger of her saving anyone's life.
Or even being noticed. True, she published. Occasionally. Very occasionally. And, almost without exception, her papers met with yawns. Apparently, parasitological causes of death in the elderly just weren't sexy enough to attract the attention of her peers.
Nothing worked for her. She wasn't stupid, and she knew it. But knowing it hardly mattered because she couldn't seem to put two words together without sounding like an imbecile, leading people to treat her like a slow child. She was plain, too, and, she had no feminine wiles, no wiles of any kind, come to that.
She was so ridiculously straight-forward most of the time that she couldn't even manage successful irony. It was no use trying to be hip and sardonic if everyone thought you were serious; she discovered that when her co-workers started squealing with apparent delight at her about the most recent episode of Glee.
She took another sip of her third Screaming Orgasm and sighed. The Jim Business had been terrible. He'd been so sweet and frankly, the sex had been so unbelievably good, and then it had all gone so very, very wrong. What had she done to deserve it? She'd always been unlucky in love, but, honestly, The Jim Business settled it. No more boyfriends for her, thanks. She couldn't take another fiasco.
Then, her cat had died.
Then, when she thought it couldn't get worse, her father died.
And the week before John's wedding, with the sale of her father's chip shop complete, she felt like a balloon that lost its string and was heading for the electrical line. She could see people like John Watson and Sarah Sawyer down on the Earth, falling in love, getting married, living lives, but she felt she was an untethered idiot sailing towards disaster. They'd probably have a baby soon, too.
More than anything else, that filled Molly with a guilty fury. She couldn't remember a time when she didn't want a baby. When she'd been younger, it seemed as though she had all the time in the world to fall in love, marry, and have children all her own. Now, it seemed that time had slipped past her while she was dating all the substandard, reheated cabbage London had to offer.
All she really wanted out of life was a little - a very little - baby. Was that so much to ask?
But, come to think of it, that wasn't impossible, was it? She'd considered it on and off, mentioned it once or twice, only to have those she'd mentioned it to look either pitying or horrified. She probably couldn't afford to raise a child in London, but she had saved plenty over the years, and with the sale of the chip shop she could buy a cozy little place somewhere in the country. Why not? Really, why not?
There and then, at John Watson's wedding reception, wearing the little black dress she kept in the back of her cupboard for special occasions, Dr. Molly Hooper pulled out a pen and wrote out a plan on a cocktail serviette.
It looked like this:
New Job ?????
House ??!!!!!!!! Garden??!
And then she doodled pictures of cats at the bottom.
She had to admit, she'd had a bit to drink.
Sherlock looked round the wedding reception, sick to death of playing the dutiful best friend. He'd done all the jocular, cheerful, toasting and pleasantries his patience would allow. What he needed was something to occupy him until he could escape. Forty seven minutes plus-or-minus six, by his count.
He cast his eyes about the room for the three-hundred-and-eighty-ninth time, bored stiff of deducing the dull, dull lives of the dull, dull guests. In a crowd this size, statistically, there had to be at least one worthwhile mystery hiding
somewhere, but he came up with nothing. John and Sarah had the most boring collection of friends and family of any two people in London.
He looked around again. No one had caught fire in the past few seconds. Pity, that.
"Evening, Sherlock." Ah, Lestrade. "Good speech, mate. Molly owes me a dance. Seen her?"
Lestrade shook his head as if he had just realized what a stupid question it was. "Yeah, yeah, I'm an idiot. Cheers," he said, and wandered off again.
Sherlock mentally sighed. Lestrade he had deduced down to his toilet habits, and Molly Hooper might as well have been made of cling film she was so transparent. The only mystery involving her wasn't even her own: it was Moriarty.
There was one question that had been niggling like a loose threat in his collar for the last six months. Why had Moriarty done what he'd done to Molly Hooper?
He understood, without reservation, that everything Moriarty did he did for a reason. So why, then, had he seduced Molly? Moriarty admitted he didn't like getting his hands dirty, so what had been his aim? Ingratiating himself to Molly hadn't been necessary in order to gain access to Barts, or to Sherlock himself, for that matter. And yet, there was some reason, some reason so compelling that Moriarty took on the task himself. So why?
Moriarty's ruse hadn't served any function other than to hurt Molly. What was valuable about that? He knew Moriarty enjoyed hurting people, but Barts was full of people, any one of whom he could have devastated. Why feign an entire relationship simply to hurt one small, shy woman?
Sherlock had known Molly Hooper since she'd been hired on at Barts shortly after completing her medical residency. The only child of a widowed chip shop owner, Molly was particularly susceptible to men. Sherlock had realized early on that she enjoyed the company of men more than most women, so it wasn't the challenge that had attracted Moriarty to her. She wasn't beautiful, or particularly intelligent or especially outgoing. She was in fact, as plain and honest as a loaf of bread - the pain ordinaire of women.
Not only was she no harm to anyone, she had few meaningful ties to anyone outside hospital walls. Now that her father had died, she had none, really.
Except perhaps himself, but that hardly mattered.
Or did it?
Had Moriarty hurt her solely to insult Sherlock? Had he somehow concluded, however erroneously, that Molly in some way mattered to Sherlock?
Oh. Did she matter to him?
He'd never before given the subject any thought.
Molly woke up the next morning only slightly hung-over. She rolled out of bed and crossed to her fridge in search of orange juice. Pinned to the door with a smiley-face magnet was the kitten-festooned serviette from the night before.
She took it down and looked at it. She'd expected to change her mind in the cold light of day, but no, even with the headache and the furry mouth, it still seemed like a wonderful plan.
All right then, Molly Hooper, she thought, as she crumpled the pink paper and tossed it in the bin, it's time to get on with the rest of your life.
John was gone, off on the most absurd honeymoon in the history of absurd honeymoons: six months - half a year! - of medical volunteerism with his new bride in some dysentery and Ebola teeming African backwater, leaving Sherlock to wither away from boredom and lack of tea.
Sherlock set the last of his cultures into the incubator and locked it down. He had to occupy the next forty-five minutes. He could answer some email, he supposed, but at the moment he just couldn't muster any enthusiasm for that.
He could use a coffee. Molly was probably in the mortuary. If he went down and smiled just right, she'd probably make him one. If he smiled right and said something complimentary, there would probably be biscuits. There hadn't been many biscuits since John moved out.
Molly was, in fact, in the mortuary, but oddly, there was no coffee.
"Afternoon," he said by way of greeting. "Any chance of a coffee?"
Molly didn't look up from her paperwork. "Fresh out, I'm afraid," she replied.
Sherlock sniffed. No, that wasn't right. There wasn't a hint of coffee in the otherwise stuffy air. "Oh, I see," he said. But he didn't, not really.
So he observed.
Beneath her lab coat, she was wearing shapeless beige trousers and a bland pale green top from the girls' wear section of some chain, probably H&M, minimal make-up, no more or less jewelry than was usual, and behaving as if she simply did not care. Not just pretending to disregard him; truly not paying him any mind. At all.
Molly was - Molly was ignoring him. How novel.
He smiled winningly, expecting her to notice. But she didn't.
Fine, he thought. Fine.
"So, Molly," he said, "how was your weekend?"
"Why do you ask?" she said distractedly "You've never cared what I do on my days off."
Sherlock had no idea how to disagree with that. "True enough."
He watched her work in silence for a few more moments, trying to comprehend what was happening. He had not, to his knowledge, insulted her, demeaned her, or belittled her recently, either deliberately or accidentally. So this wasn't about him. This was about her.
"Was there something you wanted?" Molly asked, looking up from her forms. She didn't seem angry; she seemed not to care.
"Coffee?" he ventured.
"There's a Costa up the street." She affixed her signature to another form and set it in what was clearly the 'completed' pile, then reached for another. "I understand they have coffee there."
Sherlock felt as if the world - this dull, predictable, boring little piece of the world - had suddenly spun off its axis. Molly was dismissing him. Molly. Dismissing. Him.
And he didn't like it. Not one bit.
There was no other choice. He'd have to risk it. Interested, but not overly so, friendly, but not too friendly. Something concerned co-worker-esque without inviting too much in the way of revelation. "Molly," he said carefully, "are you all right?"
Molly put down her pen. She lifted her head, tilted it slightly to the left, and looked at him, as if, for the first time in her life, she actually saw him - not his facade, or who he wanted her to think he was, but, unsettlingly, saw him.
And then, she laughed. And laughed. "I'm just fine, Sherlock," she replied as she took up her pen again, and returned to her paperwork. "Just fine."
Baffled, Sherlock decided to call a tactical retreat.
"Right, love," Mrs. Hudson said two mornings later as they stood on the front step of 221B, "I think that's everything."
"I'm sure it is," Sherlock said. She could tell he was trying not to sound annoyed, but she had to repeat herself. Sherlock was a genius, but he tended to get distracted mid-sentence when it came to things not crime-related. And he had been so distracted lately. For the past few days, every time she spoke to him she got the impression he was listening to a conversation in another room.
"The men will be here to start the renovations Monday morning -" she began.
"And your nephew Steven will be here to supervise," Sherlock finished for her, which ought to be easy enough as he'd now heard it twelve times.
"I hope it won't inconvenience you, Sherlock, but -"
"Mrs. Hudson," he said, "of course it won't. And it's high time 221C earned its keep. I'm sure once the truly exceptional collection of molds and mildews have been banished, you'll have no trouble finding a suitable tenant."
The cab he'd ordered for her pulled up as if on cue. Sherlock handed the cabbie her bags - she'd over-packed as usual, but too late now - and opened the door for her. "You have a plane to catch, Mrs. Hudson."
Before she climbed in, Mrs. Hudson turned and caught him in a hug. He hugged back, of course, because it was expected, and because he liked it when she
hugged him, though she knew he'd rather die than admit it. He noisily kissed her cheek for the same reasons. "I'll miss you, dear," she said.
"And I, you," he assured her.
"Try not to get into any trouble." But she knew it was hopeless. He would likely get in more trouble if there was nothing life-threatening going on.
He grinned that shark's grin at her. "Me? Trouble?"
"Oh Sherlock!" she said, swatting him lightly. "I just worry so, dear." And she did, particularly when he was so very distracted like this. Something big was on his mind, but who knew what? She just hoped the house was standing when she returned.
"No need. Everything will be fine," he replied. He shut her door and she immediately rolled down the window. "Enjoy New Zealand." He tapped the top of the cab, signaling the driver to leave. She watched out the back window as he waved but he didn't quite wait until the cab was gone round the corner to put away his smile.
Molly's lock was so easy to pick that it might as well have been made of butter.
The bed-sit itself was an Ikea-sponsored nightmare, and, like her day-to-day wardrobe, reflected Molly's general lack of aesthetic consideration. The furnishings were boxy, the accessories, unnecessary, and everything had been chosen mainly because it was inoffensive and inexpensive.
Perhaps - perhaps, on consideration, 'modest' was a better word. This was likely the least costly available accommodation in a passable area of Kensington. Sherlock understood that London was hardly inexpensive, but a pathologist at Barts was not poorly paid, and people managed better flats on similar salaries. Sarah Watson nee Sawyer, for one.
Intrigued, Sherlock pulled out this phone and began a search. It didn't take much looking to find Molly had a rather impressive nest egg. The age of the account indicated she was thrifty from habit, likely as a direct result of growing up with a father trying to make a go of it in a difficult business. Her record-keeping had always been immaculate, so she had likely gotten her start with her father's accounts, taking over the bookkeeping in her teens, if not earlier. Records indicated that in the past few months, she had become even more thrifty animal.
Oh, and speaking of animals, his suspicions about the recently-deceased Toby were confirmed by the photos on the fridge. The animal had suffered some sort of head trauma before coming into Molly's care, rendering one pupil permanently dilated. Sherlock was willing to wager the cat had some accompanying neuro-motor difficulty, too, so he'd probably walked like a drunk; hence the name. Molly's sense of humor appeared to be a shade darker than it seemed at first glance. But, obviously, she was a very, very soft touch. Interesting. How had he not put those two things together before?
The inside of the fridge was the only part of the tiny flat that smelled of cleaning products, suggesting a recent, thorough scrubbing. Even more curiously, it contained little evidence of take-away or ready-meals. It did have several varieties of fresh produce, as yet unbreached, though. Odd for a woman who, from Sherlock's observations, lived on questionable cafeteria food and an array of chocolate biscuits.
There was a coffee maker but no coffee in evidence, even though he knew for a fact she normally consumed nearly as much caffeine as he did. And on the lowest shelf of the cupboard, there was a recently purchased box of decaffeinated tea. Save for a bottle of gin that was half-empty and sporting at least three months worth of dust, he found no other alcohol, though he also knew for a fact her favorite beer was Speckled Hen and she rarely drank anything else.
The sleeping area was separated from the rest of the flat by an inexpensive, ineffective faux-Oriental screen. The story here was the same - the pull-out bed was cheap and cheerful, the linens inexpensive and of middling quality. Some things were missing from the bedside table - a photo frame, he surmised, and a small trinket box of some sort. The armoire held dull, shoddily-made clothes, mostly from the juniors' department, carelessly crammed too closely together, but then separated by gaps. It looked as though about half the contents had been removed. She'd got rid of a good portion of her wardrobe, and rather recently, but ever thrifty, and ever optimistic, Molly kept the hangers.
Moriarty, of course. The gaps, the voids - these were the holes left when she removed the things that reminded her of him. Sherlock wondered if that was why she was saving more money now, as well. It was just Moriarty's sort of thing; borrowing money he didn't need because wheedling cash out of a girl like Molly was a great deal more difficult than getting into her knickers. If that had been the case, it no doubt had given him a great deal of satisfaction.
Molly, for whatever reason, liked Sherlock. Not a common occurrence, that. In fact, Molly was one of two people in Sherlock's adult life who liked him, not because he solved some problem of theirs, not because they were somehow obligated, not because it benefited them in some way or other, but because, well, because they actually liked him. And Moriarty had set out to soil that.
Sherlock wasn't entirely sure he hadn't succeeded.
Still, there had to be a reason for it. And whatever had happened, had likely happened here. Moriarty had hurt her. Sherlock was as intrigued and interested as he was by any 'real' crime. And yet, he was puzzled by the vague sensation in his gut that suggested he might soon be sick.
He chose to blame Molly's hideous choice of curtains. Birds, Molly? Really?
And what was this? A beefcake calendar on the back of the loo door? Molly, Molly, Molly. Sherlock knew perfectly well she'd blush and stutter to know he'd seen her well-thumbed Mr. January. She was so predictable. And so were her menses, by the look of it, the dates clearly circled in red ink and about 27 days apart. She had been keeping track, but only going back three months.
Sherlock crossed to the table where Molly's laptop rested. The browser history showed that she had been checking out estate agents, looking for very specifically priced properties in very specific areas, with special attention paid to day nurseries and local schools. Petersfield. Bexhill. Hove.
Good lord. Molly wanted to have a child. Not only that, but she wanted to have a child and run off to Timbuktu.
His brain reeled, imagining what her replacement at Barts would be like. Anderson's face kept coming to mind. He didn't care about Molly - she was free to do whatever incredibly stupid thing she wanted. However, it did not necessarily follow that he was going to sit still while she got herself impregnated and buggered off to Hove.
Something had to be done.
The very day the clinic pronounced her both a prime candidate and reproductively sound, Sherlock Homes had to come along and try to spoil it.
He was in the lab, peering into his microscope. A propos of nothing, he said, "Have you any idea of the poor quality of sperm donors in the UK?"
Molly blinked. She was nice to him, nicer, sometimes, than she thought he deserved, so why did he constantly have to do this sort of thing?
"I - what? How did -?" she said, going from confused to furious in the time it took her to draw breath. "Oh, never mind. You always know everything, don't you?"
"Generally, yes," he replied. He was comparing fibers, she thought. Fibers seemed extra interesting to him lately.
"Well, this is - is none of your business," she said, dropping a stack of folders down on the bench with more force than she'd intended. "None. So you can keep your, your commentary to yourself, thank you."
"If you don't mind bearing the child of some spotty-faced uni student who lost a wager," he said adjusting his microscope, "I suppose that's your look-out."
"I suppose it is," she replied heatedly.
"There is, however, an alternative," he said, still continuing to focus on what was in front of him.
"An alternative? What are you talking about?"
Sherlock looked up. "I could father your child, obviously."
That was so unexpected, so utterly mind bogglingly unexpected, Molly sat down on the stool with a thud. "Excuse me?"
"Which part of that did you find challenging, Molly?"
"That's - that's not - not funny," she said. "It's not even slightly-"
"I am not trying to be funny," he responded, scowling slightly. "I am merely stating a fact."
She looked at him, hard, trying to - to - to what? "You're serious, aren't you?"
"And markedly superior to some anonymous tosser," he said. "Furthermore, as a known quantity, I offer several distinct advantages."
"Known quantity?" she said dumbly. "But I hardly know any more about you than I do about the donors they gave me to choose from at the fertility center. I mean I know you, but I don't 'know' know you, don't know your family or medical history, or - or,"
Sherlock rose slowly from the microscope. "The Holmes' came over with William the Conqueror in - whenever tedious year that was, so Norman French, but a long way back. My mother is a bit French, Breton, in fact, and a concert cellist. Had breast cancer in her late thirties, recovered nicely, thank you. Both sides are obnoxiously long lived and relatively sane. Personally, Harrow, Cambridge, published, violin, never married, no serious illnesses or injuries, Type AB Positive," he said. "What else would you consider relevant?"
Mind reeling, she tried to remember what else was listed on the donor surveys. "Childhood illnesses?" she said weakly.
"As the names suggests, I no doubt had them in childhood."
"STI and HIV status?"
All she got in answer to that was a withering look. "Next?"
"Oh Molly," he said, all smiles, all dimples, practically batting his eyelashes, "What do you think?"
Molly exhaled hard. This was insanity. Sheer, unadulterated lunacy. "Why, why would you even suggest -?
Molly hadn't ever seen Sherlock utterly flummoxed before. He wrinkled his forehead, then his nose, squinted. He pursed his lips, looked left, then right. He looked left again, then answered, "You've done me any number of good turns in the years I've known you; I thought perhaps it might be time I reciprocated?"
Reciprocated? Recip-? For Godsake, it wasn't even an offer; it sounded more like a question. He didn't know why he was offering, either.
"Thank you." Molly collected her files and rose. "But, no, no thank you."
With as much calm as she could muster, she crossed the lab and made sure she pulled the door firmly closed behind her.
Later that evening, Sherlock sat back down at his microscope. Liquefaction, check; fructose level, check; spermatozoa concentration, check; motility, vitality, morphology, check, check, check. All excellent.
When Molly came to her senses, he would be more than up to the task.
The next day, Molly was deep into some poor old man who died alone in his flat. She was weighing his heart, checking for signs of coronary disease, when Sherlock strode in.
She sighed into her mask and wondered - hoped against hope, really - if he'd let the idea of fathering her child go. Part of her wanted to believe it had really been a genuine if ill-considered gesture of kindness on his part, but it seemed unlikely. Kindness and Sherlock didn't often go together, in her experience. His real motivation eluded her, true, but plenty of things in life did that. She'd be happy if it was one mystery that was dropped entirely rather than solved.
Today was going to get better and better, and she was not going to allow Sherlock to ruin it. She was going to go home with her list and choose her child, or at least half the genetic information for her child. She carried on with Mr. Plimpton's autopsy, ignoring Sherlock completely.
Sherlock cleared his throat. "Perhaps I failed to express myself clearly yesterday. When I offered to father your child, I believed financial support was implicit," he said, speaking to Molly's back.
Scalpel in hand, she spun around. "What? No. No!"
"Enough for a nanny until he or she reaches school age," he said evenly, addressing a point somewhere on her forehead, "and a decent sized flat in a respectable, family-friendly neighbourhood. In London."
Molly shook her head. This was mad. Even without the money - and he was talking about a great deal of money - it was mad. The point of having a baby of her own was just that; to have a baby of her own. Her baby, her terms, her decisions. "Sherlock, no. No, thank you, I'll manage," she said.
"I see." Sherlock visibly bristled. "So when your child comes to you, and believe me, he will, and asks you who his father is, you'd rather tell him it's some -" he consulted the print-out from the clinic, "- 19 years old, blue eyed, ginger student from Manchester than the world's only consulting detective?"
Very deliberately, Molly turned back to her work. "Yes."
"I would also add that since the chance of my pairing up and producing any other offspring is nil, the child would come into some inheritance."
Molly shook her head. "Again Sherlock, thank you, but no."
After a brief span of silence, Sherlock said, sounding vaguely alarmed, "Why on Earth not?"
Despite her resolve, Molly turned back to him again. "Because, Sherlock, I am - I am over you, all right? As hard as it might be for you to understand, I'm ready to move on. I've lost my father. I've - I've been fucked and fucked over by a psychotic criminal mastermind. Even my bloody cat's dead. The last thing I need - the very last thing - is to be tied, in even the slightest way, to you for the next eighteen years. I'm done," she said angrily. "I'm finished."
"But don't you see, that's ideal!" Sherlock said happily, clapping hands on her shoulders. "You will have the baby you want, I will be able to continue my work unhampered by changes in the Barts staff, and we'll both be free from unpleasant emotional entanglements."
And there it was at long last: Sherlock's motivation. He was, not surprisingly, only concerned about himself, about continued unfettered access to the morgue and the lab and the ability to do whatever he pleased without having to worry about someone with an actual spine taking her place. For that he was, essentially, willing to trade his own child away.
She felt sick.
She shrugged him off. "I have work to do. Please leave."
Sherlock frowned intently at her. "My offer stands. You should consider carefully before you go to the clinic and receive a sterile pipette full of, at best, some university clod."
Molly looked at Sherlock. He was so polished, so posh, so poised, standing there like he was posing for a men's fashion magazine. She wished she had something heavy so she could hit him with it. Repeatedly.
She would have thought of some way to shut him down once and for all, but by the time she came up with anything, he was gone.
Sherlock had returned to Baker Street to consider how to proceed from this point.
What, he asked himself, was wrong with Molly Hooper? There was, simply put, nothing wrong with his offer. There was in fact, a great deal right about it. His plan gave them each what they wanted. And yet, she was being ridiculous. Irrational. Infuriating!
He had thought he had considered this matter from every angle. As much as it annoyed him to admit it, though, he always missed something and he'd obviously missed something here. But what?
Sherlock took up his violin and began sawing out one of this favourite contemplation pieces, Prokofiev's Death of Juliet. Sometimes, he reasoned, the personal touch was best. Molly was, by nature, terribly sentimental. According to every definition he understood, a few milliliters of genetic material in a sterile container was not in any way sentimental. Perhaps that was the issue - her perception of his offer as impersonal.
Perhaps she would feel more inclined to accept his offer if he were to take a more 'hands-on' approach? To impregnate her personally?
He set down his bow. It took him a moment to adjust to the idea. He hadn't had sexual intercourse - non-oral sexual intercourse - since he was at uni. There had always been a level of play-acting involved in pulling before, pretending this or that in order to secure his objective. Once he'd figured out the formula - whom to target, how quickly to proceed, which sort of flattery would be most effective - and he been unerringly successful, the charm had evaporated. The whole game had grown repetitive, tedious, dull.
But it might be worth the inconvenience if it kept his life from being disrupted. If it resulted in Molly staying put, it was a miniscule price to pay.
The last thing Molly wanted to do was think about Sherlock bloody Holmes and his stupid bloody offer. So, naturally, she thought about it while she was filling out forms; she thought about it while she was cataloguing tissue samples; she thought about while making herself a cup of coffee, then, annoyed at her absentmindedness, pouring it down the drain and reaching instead for that horrid decaf tea. In short, she thought about almost nothing else for the rest of the day.
The nerve of him. She'd already given him her answer, clearly told him 'no' twice, actually. Of course, he had laid it all out so nicely; she could stay in London, stay at Barts, get a bigger flat, and, if worse came to worst, the child - her child - would be provided for, financially at least. Sherlock wouldn't interfere; he was all too obviously not interested in any meaningful way, in her or her baby.
She knew she probably ought to hold tight to her 'no' - would hold tight to her
'no' - but, she couldn't help imagining it, a little. In a theoretical world, when she tallied it all up, choosing Sherlock seemed like a good option. It seemed like a better option all the way home on the Tube. It seemed like the best option while she was watching telly.
The only niggling question was why? It was one thing to offer to toss off into a cup as some sort of pay-back for the favours she'd done him over the years, but it was quite another to offer her money, security, stability to go along with it. Why would he make her such a generous offer? What was really in it for him?
She continued thinking these nagging thoughts all the way down the stairs and all the way to the curry wagon parked down the road from her flat. She thought about it even as the curry man looked at her expectantly.
"Um, oh, um, chicken tikka, please," she said. She nearly jumped out of her skin when a familiar voice behind her added,
She spun round. Sherlock reached over her shoulder to both pay for, and take the possession of, her meal.
"Well, this, this is, is a surprise," she stammered.
"Is it really?" he asked, wrinkling his forehead. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "Ah. I see you've been reconsidering my offer. Good."
"No, I have-"
Sherlock rolled his eyes, then stepped out of the queue and away from the rest of the patrons. "Yes you have, and sensibly, you have begun to see the wisdom inherent in accepting it."
"Wisdom? There is no wis-" she began.
"Molly, please," Sherlock said is what she recognized as his 'I am quite bored with your dimwitttedness' tone. "We both know I'm right."
Molly looked at Sherlock. Looked him up and down - long legs, curly black hair, big scary brain. There was a reason, a valid biological, evolutionary reason women found some men more attractive than others. If nothing else, Sherlock was right about being good biological material.
In that instant, she knew. There was no other choice, not now.
Her nipples were suddenly hard and the hair on the back of her neck stood to attention. Her arms were covered in gooseflesh and her thoughts were starting to circle themselves like a particularly stupid dog chasing its particularly stupid tail. He really was ideal. Gorgeous, stupid, brilliant, and ideal.
Flustered, Molly fumbled in her bag until she found what she was looking for. "Fine. This is, um, this is the clinic's address. We can make an appointment. But -" she hesitated.
"Oh, what now?" he snapped.
"Sherlock, honestly, tell me; Why? What's in it for you?"
Sherlock tilted his head ever so slightly to the right. "On balance, it would be to my advantage to have you continue on at your position at Barts as long as possible." With the slightest frown, he added, "I think you underestimate the value of the access you grant me to the mortuary."
"And that's it?" she demanded. "That's all of it?"
He sniffed. "What more could there possibly be?"
Molly thought about it. Well. She supposed, when put that way, she could see what he meant. She felt slightly stupid, now, for questioning his motives, thinking there had to be some deep, dark mystery involved. But no.
Sometimes she wondered why she liked Sherlock as much as she did, especially when he had such a knack for making her feel awful. Other times, though, he was nice, or as nice as he seemed capable of being. He was not a friend, not exactly, but a bit more than a colleague. A chum, someone you could share a meal with in the cafeteria without being quizzed about, well, anything, really, since he'd already worked it all out and dismissed it. Someone you could help out in the lab and never worry about being bored out of your skull. And even if he asked her to do something that didn't seem to make the slightest bit of sense, in the end, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he was right.
She hoped to God this was one of those ninety-nine times.
"Here's um, here's the card for the fertility clinic," she said, laying it atop the chicken.
"Oh. Is that strictly necessary?" Sherlock asked. "It might be weeks or even months before you could move forward on this. We could just as easily - "
"Oh. Ah. Turkey baster, is it? Or the, um, medical equivalent?" She felt herself flushing. "Of course, of course. There's no reason we can't, um. Um. I suppose I could pick up the necessary equipment from work," she said. Well, that was practical of him, even if the idea of doing it herself made her wince a bit when she considered the logistics.
"Not exactly what I was getting at," Sherlock said. For the first time that evening, looking directly into her eyes. "I was about to suggest a more time-honoured method."
She blinked. "What? Why?" she asked, head spinning. Sex? He was actually suggesting actual sex? With him? With her? That was easily the most confusing thing he had ever said to her, and he had said some very confusing things over the years.
Sherlock, for just a moment, seemed to be at a loss as well. Then he had an answer in his eyes, a gleam, that could have belonged to any man in the world.
"Oh. Oh! You're one of those women who finds intercourse distasteful?" he asked, curiously.
Against her will, the very very, God, VERY good sex she'd had with Jim came to mind. She felt flushed with recalled arousal even as she felt sick to her stomach. "No! Not, no, not normally. But, well, since, um, Jim -"
"Ah." Sherlock nodded as if to himself, seemingly lost in thought. Then he smiled. "Well, we'll set you to rights." He handed her her dinner, and his too, kissed her perfunctorily on the cheek and began walking away. "You should be ovulating Sunday," he called over his shoulder. "I'll text you with a location."
Molly stood on the corner, food in hand, wondering what had hit her.
Sherlock waited until he turned to corner to express delight. He grinned all the way home, pleased with himself. He had triumphed.
Not that he had doubted his ability to get Molly to consent, not one bit. She might be, for all her naivety, fairly stubborn when push came to shove, but how could she effectively resist him? He was Sherlock Holmes and he knew which of her few, well-labeled buttons to press. Child's play.
Still, regardless of his intellectual prowess, the dishes in his sink seemed reluctant to sort themselves. The only thing more reluctant to sort said dishes was himself. No matter; it wasn't as if they were going to rise up and demand to be heard or launch themselves out a window. He should be, as they said, so lucky.
He glanced through a pile of mail. Bills, bills, bills, junk mail, and, oh look, bills. Dull.
His email provided no relief.
'Dear Mr. Holmes' they generally began:
The answer was, in most cases, 'yes,' which the inquirer knew long before they ever set fingers to keys. Oh, the tedium.
He scrolled down the list. Spam, scam, stupidity, utter stupidity, more spam. Three more from firstname.lastname@example.org. Fiercely tedious, no doubt. Deleted unopened.
There was nothing on the telly - was there ever? He wasn't in the mood to read, despite the stacks of periodicals and journals that were starting to take over every horizontal surface in the flat. Staggering intellect probably wouldn't help with that problem, either. Shame, that
And he wasn't hungry. Or thirsty. Or tired.
Perhaps it was time to take a look in on his cultures?
Sherlock shrugged his coat back on. Just as he did so, a text arrived.
Lestrade. Case. Green man?
Sherlock grinned. The evening was looking up.
Sherlock had been horribly oblique about whose flat it was and it unnerved her.
Not that it wasn't a nice flat. It was a maisonette in Belgravia, for God's sake, and it looked like it had been lifted from a magazine. Far too nice, if you asked Molly. Not that Sherlock had, or was about to.
Molly and Sherlock stood in the painfully tasteful bedroom, looking at each other in the second most appalling silence Molly Hooper had ever been party to in her life. The first had followed the loss of her virginity in her first boyfriend's work van, and had been rather different to this.
Or perhaps not. That had been the unearthly silence that inevitably follows horrid sex; this was, on Molly's part at least, anticipation of the same thing.
And a good thing it would be, too. Bad sex was, well, bad, but it would certainly serve to get him completely out of her system once and for all. She would never be able to look at Sherlock Holmes again without thinking of a terrible awkward and no doubt brief shag one Sunday afternoon, and for that she would be grateful. She would never again lose track of a thought because she was looking at his throat. She would never again get sucked into one of his special projects because he smiled or complimented her hair or gave her that beseeching look. She would be free to eat lunch with other men, other men who might actually be interested in her, which would be nice even if she didn't particularly want a boyfriend. She'd see Sherlock and she'd just wave him off and everything in her life would be simpler. Even if she became pregnant after this one encounter - and statistically, how likely was that? - things would be different. For the better.
Still, to be fair, she tried to encourage him. She had no illusions about being sexy or glamourous, but she'd worn lipstick. She'd purchased new underthings. She'd shaved her legs with extra care. He wouldn't be swept up in a hormonal haze, but he'd have no reason to complain.
She was unbuttoning her top when she noticed him frowning.
"What?" Her hands stilled, and her heart sank. Oh God. Had he changed his mind? Or worse, had this all been some horrible practical joke? "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Sherlock replied, still frowning.
Molly laughed nervously. "It's not like you've never done this before, right?"
Sherlock blinked. It was as if he was stuck for a reply. What was that expression? Disbelief? Or - or, had she found him out? Perhaps she was only half right.
"You have done this before, haven't you?" she asked, uneasily. "With a female, I mean."
Then, slowly, a smile that was not a smile at all spread across Sherlock's face. "Most definitely," he said, and his eyes lit up, glittering the way they did when he was hot on the trail of an interesting idea.
She shuddered to contemplate just what that idea might, in this case, be.
"Your powers of deduction leave something to be desired," he whispered as he brushed his lips against her ear lobe. A definite tingle raced down her spine and landed right between her legs, like a buzzer.
Then, still holding her eyes, Sherlock took a step back and removed his jacket. Right on the floor. Molly could hardly believe it; it probably cost more than everything she was wearing combined, and he dropped it on the floor.
Good God, his shoulders were broad. Only, no, not especially broad; they just appeared broad compared to his narrow waist and hips. She'd rarely seen him without a jacket. Now, in just his shirt, it was obvious; Sherlock had the build of a runner, a swimmer, of a damned greyhound.
Next came his cuffs. He snapped off his cufflinks, mother of pearl studs, put them in his trouser pocket and good God, his fingers were so long and his hands were huge. Sherlock was the only person she knew who wore French cuffs. He had to be wearing £1000 worth of clothes, at least. It was ridiculous.
Molly supposed she should be undressing herself, but she couldn't tear her eyes away from him.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. He opened the buttons on his shirt and shrugged it to the floor as well. His skin was white as an Elgin marble and, another surprise - he looked about as hard and carefully carved. You never would have guessed that with his clothes on. Honestly, he had an odd sort of face, but so far, the body was, well, it was perfect.
She looked back to his face. He was biting his lip, and she realized she was biting her lip, as well.
His eyes blazed and he smirked and moved his hands to his belt.
Sherlock Holmes was about to drop trou.
He was lovely. Head to toe, just, just lovely. There were perhaps three ounces of spare adipose on his entire body. Molly saw naked people every work day, young and old, fit and less so. All dead, of course, but not even one of them of them had ever looked like this.
It was so unfair.
She closed her eyes. No need to go to pieces just because Sherlock Holmes happened to be a good-looking prick. Who had a good-looking prick.
She had never seen a penis that actually looked pleasant before. This one did. Why did it have to belong to Sherlock bloody Holmes?
"Molly?" In one step he'd closed in and taken her hand. "Problem?"
Molly shrugged, pulling away. "No. it's nothing. You just, um, you look very nice, that's all."
In less than a second, everything about Sherlock changed. A smile, nothing like the one he'd worn before, softened his face. He turned his head to one side, his eyelids lowered.
He looked flattered.
"Oh. Thank you." His hand went to her blouse. "May I?"
"I - I should warn you," she said quickly, so she didn't lose her nerve. "My breasts are disappointing and my bum is enormous."
"I shall consider myself warned." Sherlock chuckled and without thinking, she hit him on the shoulder with an open hand.
He only laughed harder.
"You also have the most appalling dress sense I have ever seen on a grown woman. What of it?" he asked before dissolving into laughter again.
Molly had enough. "That's it," she said pulling away from him.
In one deft motion Sherlock intercepted her move and kissed her, earnestly, on the lips. "I didn't bring you here to do a photo shoot," he whispered before kissing her again, even more intently, along her jaw, a string of kisses like pearls. His hands lost no time shucking off her top and sliding her trousers off her hips as well.
Oh God, no. He wasn't going to be awful, was he? If his kissing technique was any indication, he was going to be bloody magnificent. Dammit.
She couldn't help it; she moaned into his mouth. Sherlock moaned back, in harmony almost, as he worked to press his entire long body against hers. His hands, both palms and fingers, caressed her back, almost as if he was starving for skin to skin contact.
Her own hands roamed his broad, muscular back, and she had to wonder: how often did anyone touch Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock's hands moved lower, first to her waist, then lower still, till he cradled her bottom. "Not enormous at all," he said between nips at the soft skin below her ear.
Oh God. Her knees actually felt weak. How pathetic could she be?
Molly ran her hands through his hair, while he held her by the bum. She'd always liked his hair, but she'd never realized how thick it was, nor imagined how it would feel curling through her fingers. She inhaled deeply. He was wearing cologne, something light and utterly masculine, and he smelled delicious. She'd stood close to him often enough to know he didn't wear usually wear cologne, not this one certainly, so he'd put it on for her.
Molly felt ridiculously flattered. And then foolish. She was reading much too much into a splash of scent.
That pretty pretty penis was pressing hard against her belly now and his tongue was in her mouth, turning what was left of her brain to mush.
Normally Molly tried to hold back when it came to sex. She didn't want to seem too eager, especially not the first time. She enjoyed sex, frankly, but too much enthusiasm could put a man off just as quickly as too little, in her experience. There was always a need to preserve some mystery, to leave the audience, as they say, wanting more.
But she was never going to be with Sherlock after today, was she? This show was strictly 'one night only.' So what was the use in trying to maintain appearances? Sherlock was clearly not going to be crap in bed, not one little bit, and she was not going to lay there like a dead mackerel and let him think she was. He might not care one way or the other, but she certainly did. She had her pride.
She pulled her mouth from his and gave into her mad, mad thoughts. The taste of the skin in that unnamed place between his neck and shoulder made her feel tipsy.
Sherlock moaned - actually moaned - in response. She liked that. She liked that very, very much.
He arched his back, fairly pressing her face to his bare chest. She became intimately aware of his absurdly good aroma; not the cologne, but the scent under the cologne, the insanely heady smell of his body. How was it even possible that he smelled so good? She twirled her fingers round first one flat nipple and then the other, and feeling bold, drew her right hand round to that fantastic cock of his.
Nice. Every bit as nice as advertised.
She didn't know if she could do this properly if she reminded herself who she was doing it to. The thought was almost paralyzing. She shut her eyes tight and caught his pale nipple between her teeth.
Her eyes still closed, she kissed her way down his nearly hairless chest. Honestly, almost perfectly hairless - he had perhaps twelve hairs round one nipple and fourteen round the other, abdomen, crisp black pubic hair -
"Molly," he said gently, then sounding almost strangled, "Molly, that's hardly necessary. Our purpose is fertilization."
Yes, it was, she reminded herself. So what? She wiped her mouth on the back of her hand. "Indulge me," she said.
He didn't answer right away, and for a mad moment she thought he was going to refuse. "By all means, proceed," he half-whispered.
Keeping her eyes on her objective, she smiled. She was good at this. She knew she was good at this. And lucky, lucky Sherlock was about to find out she was good at this, too.
As softly as she knew how, she brushed the tip of his foreskin against her lower lip.
He inhaled sharply.
Once, twice, three times, her tongue gently brushed the head of his penis where it peeked from under his foreskin.
His right hand wrapped itself in her hair.
Molly relaxed her jaw, and swallowed him to the hilt, only struggling a moment halfway down. Ever so gently she moved her tongue from side to side. And again. Three times. And -
"Molly, stop. Stop!" he shouted, pulling away. He looked at her as if she was something he'd never seen before. "That, that was almost over before it had begun," he said, breathing hard.
Molly nodded, pleased with herself. She hadn't meant for it to go that far, only to make sure he remembered her when this was over.
"I guess this proves it, then," he said.
"What they say about convent school girls," he answered with a wolfish grin. "Oh, don't give me that look, Mary Magdalen Hooper. It's so obvious you might as well wear a placard."
"Should I be insulted?" she asked, and wiped her mouth again.
"Absolutely not." He sat down uneasily on the edge of the bed. "Skill is infinitely more intriguing than some arbitrary proportion of bosom to backside."
"Thanks." Suddenly, she felt stupid and was very aware that she was naked. "I think."
"Come here," he ordered, in that way of his, gesturing for her to sit between his legs on the bed. "Good, now -" He turned her, gently, so she was facing away from him. "Good."
She did as instructed, and was rewarded by lips on her neck and hands on her breasts. His skin was very warm, his touch, very precise. It was fabulous.
Then, with deliberate care, almost as if he expected her to stop him and was trying to give her fair warning of his intent, Sherlock slid his hands from her breasts to her sex.
More than once she'd had to deal with men who were all thumbs when it came to manual stimulation. Sherlock wasn't even looking, and yet his touch was delicate and light and made her want to beg for more.
"Tell me what you want, Molly," he teased.
"More," she whispered, because whispering was all she could manage.
One long finger ran, feather light, up the cleft between her labia, and tickled, bloody tickled, threateningly close to, but not quite touching, her clitoris.
"More. Of. What. Exactly?" She could feel his smile against her shoulder.
"More of that, you bloody great git," she said, at her wit's end.
He laughed. Not just a chuckle, but he laughed out loud. "Oh, Molly, I can do much better than that."
And with that, he scooped her up and tossed her, literally, onto the bed. It was a move that shouldn't have been at all sexy, but, like everything with this infuriating man, it somehow was. She'd have resented such rough handling if she still had two functioning synapses to rub together.
He gave her sex an appraising glance. "May I?" he asked.
"God, yes," Molly said.
She couldn't say what he did with his tongue. What she could say was that, whatever it was, it sent hot and cold waves spreading from her sex across her body, until her hands grabbed fistfuls of white sheet and her toes curls so tightly it almost hurt. A sensation that should have been, but wasn't at all, painful pricked her clitoris, and she felt as though her brain was a wet flannel that had been wrung out and left to dry. She could have sworn that she was flying, levitating at least, as if her body as rising of its own accord off the huge mattress. But that couldn't be right, could it?
Probably not. She found she didn't care. She just wanted for it to never, ever end.
Sherlock was still peppering her thighs with kisses as the madness subsided.
"That was amazing," she said before she could come to her senses and shut up.
Sherlock licked his lips with feline speed, and laughed. "Oh, that was just to whet the appetite." He pulled her by the legs until she was under him. He had laughed more in the last three quarters of an hour than he had in the entire him Molly had known him.
And now he was above her, weight on his elbows on either side of her head, that friendly-looking penis resting between her labia. She couldn't see it of course, but she could feel it, its weight pressing pressing pressing down on her. What she could see was a feral gleam in his quicksilver eyes, and a grin - a very pleased grin, complete with dimples - on his striking face. Sherlock looked - he looked happy.
It was easy to forget how much larger than her he was when he sat across from her in the cafeteria at Barts. It was impossible to ignore the size of him when he was looming over her like this. Impossible, and a bit overwhelming. Usually, she preferred smaller men, blokes closer to her own size. She felt as though she was drowning in Sherlock. He seemed to be everywhere, touching her everywhere, except the one place she wanted it most.
He kissed her again. And again and again and again, until each individual kiss blurred into one. She had never imagined, when she agreed to this, that he would kiss her so much, so hungrily, or so sweetly. That he'd even want to.
"May I?" His voice was low in her ear.
There was no question what he was asking.
"Yes, please," she squeaked. It was the best she could manage under the circumstances.
And then, oh yes, there he was.
And, oh Christ, was he.
With no barrier between them, she had imagined she would be able to feel every ridge, every vein. In reality, all she was aware of was how incredibly hot he was, how hard, moving inside her. She spent a few moments lost in sensation, trying to catalogue every breath, every heartbeat, every nanosecond that passed between them. Too soon, but not nearly soon enough, she felt his hand slip deftly between their bodies, unerringly targeting her clitoris.
"Good?" he grunted.
Unable to speak, she gave one sharp nod.
Then, in an instant, Sherlock's hips stilled, even as his fingers picked up speed, or so it seemed. All she really knew was that she had wrapped her legs round his hips, and when she regained her common sense, she was calling his name.
He smiled, nuzzled the side of her neck. Then he kissed her hand. It was strange and sweet and utterly endearing.
It must have shown on her face, because as soon as his eyes locked on hers, something happened, and his open, easy smile dropped like a stone.
Suddenly, the Sherlock Holmes she'd known all these years was back. And he didn't look particularly happy to have returned.
He pulled out gracelessly, pulled away, wasn't even willing to look at her.
"Now or never, I suppose," he sighed. "Do or die. Up on your hands and knees, Molly, there's a girl."
He barely made contact, hardly touching her anywhere besides the places where it was necessary. He entered her from behind and ejaculated after a few long, artless thrusts.
He collapsed on the bed beside her like a detonated building and pulled the bed clothes over himself demurely. "Put this under your bottom," he said, handing her a pillow.
Humiliation burned its way thorough her. She wanted to leave. She wanted to leave right now. As soon as she could find her knickers, she was leaving, and putting this whole sad, sorry mess behind her. What the hell had she been thinking?
She sat up quickly.
"What are you doing?" Sherlock sounded genuinely alarmed. "You're significantly decreasing likelihood of fertilization. Lie back down."
Stunned, she didn't move.
"Now, Molly," he said imperiously from the other side of the bed. "On your back. Do it."
Molly hesitated, and hated herself for it. She didn't have to listen to him. She didn't have to do what he said. Even if, in this instance, he was right.
As quickly as she had sprung up, she retreated, and she pulled the sheet up to her neck.
Sherlock stretched, no longer either quite as stiff nor quite as smiling as before. "It's been forever since I shagged without a condom," he said as if they were discussing the weather or a really interesting skin sample.
"I never have," she said. "Well, never before this, obviously," she answered, sounding mousy and stupid even to herself.
"Really?" he asked, sounding truly interested. "Mary Magdalen Hooper, I'm surprised at you."
"Cut it out, Sherlock," she said.
"Cut what out?"
"The name," she responded.
"That is your name, is it not?"
"Yes, technically, it is," she explained. "But Mary Magdalen Hooper is my 'you're in big trouble now, my girl,' name. Molly is my, oh, I don't know, my 'God's in his heaven all's right with the world' name, I guess you could say."
She turned her head, observed his profile. He was staring up at the ceiling, and she could practically hear him calculating. What he was thinking didn't bear contemplation. "What about you?"
"What did your mum call you when you were in big trouble?"
Sherlock took a deep breath, exhaled it slowly. "Would 'You, young man, are just like your father' count?"
Oh. She'd obviously hit a nerve, a very raw one, at that. Before she could apologize, Sherlock leapt from the bed, taking the sheet with him. "Flat on your back, remember," he said, "until at least two o'clock."
"Why? Where are you going?"
"To forage," he answered. He took her hand, and for a moment she thought he was going to kiss it again. Instead he gave it a gentle squeeze, then released it.
"I, oh-" she began.
"I'll be back," he assured her, his voice echoing down the corridor.
After that, it was all mumbling, and, not for the first time, Molly wondered where the hell they actually were. She must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew, Sherlock was dressed, his hair was wet, and he was thrusting a bottle of overpriced water in her face.
"Wake up, Molly," Sherlock said, his ridiculous curls still dripping. "Drink this. There were biscuits but I ate them while you were asleep. No loss on your part, really, they were mediocre at best. We should be out in the next three quarters of an hour."
"All right." Molly nodded numbly but didn't move.
Sherlock looked at her expectantly.
"Privacy? May I have some?" she said, hardly awake.
"Of course," Sherlock answered distractedly, and bowed out of the room.
She couldn't find her socks for some time, or her knickers at all, and with Sherlock pacing up and down the corridor, Molly's nerves went from frayed to fried by the time they stepped out of the building. When he raised his long arm to hail a cab, all she wanted to be was back in her own flat, alone.
"I'll take the Tube," she informed him.
"Don't be stupid," Sherlock said. "You've an increasingly noticeable semen stain growing on the front of your trousers."
She felt herself blush. Oh, things just kept getting better.
"I'd rather not," she told him quickly. "Cabs're too dear. It's okay, I'll put my jacket on my -"
Sherlock's forehead wrinkled fearsomely. "No, I will pay for the cab. You will get in the cab. You seem to take pleasure in making very simple issues absurdly contentious."
"I don't - I don't want a boyfriend," Molly blurted out, much to her own combined surprise and horror. "I don't need a boyfriend."
Sherlock sucked a breath in through his teeth. "That's convenient, as I have no interest in being anyone's boyfriend," he said irritably. "Certainly not yours. I do, however, want you to get in the cab before we lose it. Now."
They were silent the entire ride, staring out opposing windows.