Molly was in the midst of cleaning her tools when John came slamming into the morgue, slightly out of breath.
“Is Sherlock still here?”
She shook her head, feeling a bit off-balance. “He left about ten minutes ago. Where were you?” Sherlock had been acting weird when he was here by himself, and now John turning up alone just felt…lopsided. She bit her lip as he dragged a hand over his hair, muttering vulgarities to himself rather than answering her. “John, is he alright? He was here for an hour, talking to you the entire time like you were standing right here. Was he…on something?” A stray thought occurred to her. “Are you alright?”
John laughed like a man looking for something to break. “Yeah, no, he does that. Do you know where he went, Molly? His sodding brother wanted a word with me and of course Sherlock wouldn’t listen when I asked him to wait for me, and now I just need to know if he’s gone off to get shot at by himself…”
Poor John. Wrangling Sherlock—she couldn’t imagine a more thankless job. “No, no, he worked something out, I think. Raced out with the flask he’d been working on. He said something about the Met, so I think he’s gone back to the police.”
The slough of tension from John’s shoulders made hers loosen, too; enough that she decided to indulge her curiosity despite the awkwardness of asking for personal information about Sherlock. “Sherlock never said he had a brother. Um…what’s he like?”
She felt a bit left in the cold about it, to be honest. Wasn’t it the sort of thing a girl who liked a man should know?
Now that he’d caught his breath and stopped worrying after his friend, John was developing a somewhat put-upon cast; he was probably ready to stop chasing people across London for the day. “Mycroft?” He laughed a bit grimly, then made that cute thinking face of his, where he pursed his lips and rolled his eyes up to the ceiling. She liked it; they looked big and endearing when he did that. “Have you ever heard of the Discworld?”
Molly refused to label the noise that came out of her mouth as a ‘squeak.’ She was a dignified adult woman, goddamn it. “I love Terry Pratchett!”
John grinned at her. “Think Lord Vetinari.” He stuck his tongue into his cheek. “I’d give a lot for him to understand that reference…”
Molly couldn’t help it. Sherlock was such a storybook character to begin with that her mind ran away with her, chasing the idea. “Then does that make you…Commander Vimes?” She could see it: the blunt, good man surrounded by crazy people, trying to keep everything on the rails while he got spun in circles. Poor John.
He stared at her for so long that she began to fidget. Oh god, had she offended him? On second thought, maybe the comparison wasn’t the most flattering… It was only when his eyes narrowed a calculating fraction that she realized he was giving it serious thought. “I think,” he finally said as though he was testing the words, “I think it might make Lestrade Captain Vimes.”
“Lestrade?” Oh, hell, now which one was… She snapped her fingers in triumph. “The dishy Detective Inspector!”
“Yes!” The quick change that went over John’s face was amazing to watch as, in rapid succession, he lit up, looked amused, turned red, then jerked his head back in mortification.
He was fumbling for words when Molly realized what that all meant. “You fancy him?” She hadn’t thought… It’d probably be rude to show surprise that John swung that way, wouldn’t it, though? It wasn’t any of her business, after all.
“No! Well.” He covered his mouth, then dropped his hand. “No, not fancy him. It’s just, I’m not blind, am I? He’s a bit fit.”
John was pink as a salmon, now, and more than a bit adorable. Molly smiled sympathetically. “No, I know. Same thing here. He’s got that silver fox thing going, and those soft eyes. And the long legs.”
“And he grins like a schoolboy who’s caught out the teacher whenever he gets one over on Sherlock.” John laughed. “Yeah.”
“So, um.” Molly cut herself off and looked around for the clinking noise that’d started up. After a second of worry that she’d left a gas pipe open, she looked down to find her own hands tapping the bone shears against the metal countertop. She put them down so fast she nearly fumbled them. “Um,” she repeated, patting them into place. “I thought…don’t you date girls?”
When she looked up, John was leaning back against one of the morgue slabs, watching her with his head cocked and arms folded across his chest. He looked…hm. She’d never exactly realized what nice shoulders he had, before. “I do, yeah,” he answered with a sideways smile. “Mostly. It’s just…” He shrugged, pulling his shirt tight across his chest for a split second. Those jumpers really didn’t do him justice. “Like I said, I’m not blind.”
She nodded thoughtfully, then again more firmly as it sank in and she made a decision. Maybe it was sudden, but then she’d never talked to John much before. When had she ever got a chance to, with Sherlock always hovering around sucking up all the attention in the room? John was…nice. “Would you…like to get a cup of coffee sometime?”
John’s head tilted just slightly in the other direction, like a bird considering a potential snack. “Molly Hooper,” he said, voice and eyes warm with something halfway between amusement and affection, “are you making a pass at me?”
There was something in the way he said it that made her unable to resist smiling. “Well…maybe, just a bit.”
He laughed. For real, this time, high-pitched and cute. God, he was precious. And not half bad, now that she was paying attention. “I can’t keep a girlfriend,” he warned.
“Yeah, well.” She tossed her head and shot him a side-on look. “I can’t keep a boyfriend. For the same reasons, I expect. So we could be dateless together, for a bit.”
His smile this time was full and breathtaking. “That sounds like a rather fantastic idea, Molly.”