Sherlock couldn't believe he had agreed to it. The problem was, that it made perfect sense. He couldn't argue with the logic of it. He cursed his logical mind as he ran his fingers through his slightly damp hair (hair like his never saw a brush, it would only make the situation worse) and he remembered his conversation with Molly Hooper.
"So, the way I see it," she said as she nervously tapped a pen on the work bench. "I just need to get you out of my system. One date. That's all I need. Just proof that we won't work. Then I can finally move on."
Sherlock studied the petite woman in front of him, his eyes darting around to make a complete appraisal: final hour of a twelve hour shift. Three- no, four autopsies today. Salad for lunch – she's under the assumption that she needs to get rid of those extra three pounds she put on after she and Meat... Tom broke up. Completely inaccurate, but I'm leaving that alone. Her hair is in desperate need of a trim. Started biting her nails again – when did that happen? Oh, yes, during the Moriarty scare – makes sense, he was trying to kill her after all. Familiar chest tightening when I think of Molly in mortal danger – to be examined later, deducing Molly right now, not my cardiovascular health. Ah, yes, and Tobias got sick on her favoured shoes this morning, hence the back ups – not as comfortable. though slightly more attractive.
After he finished his internal deductions he realised that he had not, in those fleeting moments, come up with a conclusive argument as to why it would be a bad idea... frankly it made sense. Though he had little, okay, no experience in the world of dating and sentiment, it did seem logical that if Molly wanted to 'move on', as she said, this should be proof enough that they would never work as a... couple.
"Okay." Hardly believing that the word had come out of his mouth.
"R-really?" Molly said with a smile. "This means a lot to me Sherlock. I really appreciate it." She finally put down the pen. Had she been tapping it the entire time? he wondered. She turned to leave the lab. "I'll text you, sound good?"
He remembered nodding at that point as she bounced out the door.
Now he stood staring at himself in his bathroom mirror actually wondering if he looked all right... what in God's name? A knock at the flat door stopped his train of thought. I suppose there's no way I can get out of this.
Molly Hooper felt like Wonder Woman (or if she were picking out her favorite super heroine, Jean Grey – she was really more of a Marvel girl), having secured an actual date with Sherlock. She giggled to herself as she stood waiting for him to answer the door. She had finally decided that in order to properly move on from the infuriating genius, she needed one night – just one 'date'. Not that she expected this to be like any other date she had ever been on, but if it helped her come to terms with the fact that they weren't going to happen... so be it.
She couldn't really take all the credit for the idea. Her therapist had suggested it, and after laughing hysterically at the poor woman for nearly a full minute, Molly finally decided it wasn't such a bad idea after all. She giggled once again at the memory. Just then the door opened and there stood the world's only consulting detective in all his glory. Oh, she thought, he looks lovely. At least he's not wearing the purple shirt.
"Hello," he said, looking more than a bit uncomfortable.
"Hi, Sherlock. Thanks for agreeing to this." She smiled. "Don't you look dashing."
He ran his hands down the front of his suit jacket. "Yes, well..."
Molly waited for... well, she wasn't exactly sure what she was waiting for, since the chances of him paying her a compliment were slim to none.
"Oh," he said looking genuinely surprised. "Right, you look..." He cocked his head to the side, then his face brightened as if he'd just had brilliant idea and he said, "Lovely." He even smiled.
Molly wanted to roll her eyes, but she allowed him this small victory. Only Sherlock Holmes would be proud of himself for giving someone a genuine compliment (or at least Molly chose to believe it was genuine.) She did actually feel lovely in her light summer dress and kitten heels. "So, where are we going this evening?" she asked, still standing on the threshold of the apartment.
Sherlock's face fell. "I assumed you had that all worked out. You, after all, did ask me out, Molly."
This time she did roll her eyes. "Sherlock, typically the man organizes the date." She ended it with a patronizing smile.
"Do you really believe that I have experience in this area?"
"Well, you have done plenty of fake dating. I assumed you haven't deleted it all," she snapped. If she were honest with herself, this was going just as badly as she'd imagined it would.
Sherlock huffed and folded his arms over his chest. "Never going to let me live down one innocent fake engagement, are you Molly? Did it really bother you that much?"
Molly matched his body language. "Let's just say that if I were Janine, I would have found a much more interesting way to repay you than to tell everyone that you were a good shag!"
"Oh," he said leaning in. "And what would you have done, Miss Hooper?"
Once again Molly matched him move for move. "Well, deduce it Mr. Detective. I'm a pathologist... I know the human body..." Molly was just about to go off on a tangent about how she too had pondered all the different ways to kill her closest family and friends (she had a half dozen reserved for the man in front of her) but she stopped and took a deep breath. "Look, this is starting off..." She looked at the carpet. "...well exactly as I expected." She looked back up at Sherlock. "But let's just go get it over with, shall we?"
Sherlock had a curious look on his face, but nodded his head, grabbed his keys and motioned her out into the hallway. When they got downstairs and started out the front door, Molly turned to him and said, "What, no big swishy coat this evening?"
"It's warm Molly, you're not wearing a coat, why should I? Unless..." He paused. "You have a thing for the Belstaff, don't you?" he said with a sideways grin.
Molly opened the door. "Oh, you are making me regret not finishing that previous conversation," she mumbled as they stepped out onto the pavement.
Sherlock, of course, raised his hand and a cab appeared almost out of nowhere. In the few minutes since she realised that he had made no plans whatsoever Molly made a decision: if she was going to have to plan this date, then plan it she would. She gave the cabbie the destination before Sherlock had gotten into the car.
"Where are we going?" Sherlock asked.
Molly refused to look at the man sitting next to her. She gazed out the window and said, "To a restaurant."
After a few minutes of what she could only assume was his attempt to deduce their destination, Sherlock spoke up once again, "Molly, where are we eating?"
"I suppose knowing won't change the outcome. And since I'm directing this evening," She gave him a satisfied smile. "How 'bout a burger?"
"I hate American food and you are well aware of this."
Molly smiled sweetly.
"Ah, so now I'm being punished. You know, I'm surprised by you, Molly Hooper... feminist. Feeling the need to take your frustration out on me and my digestive tract simply because you're having to take the initiative."
Of course Molly instantly felt bad. Their little row had actually been her fault. She should have realised that she'd have to organize the date. What would Sherlock know about this situation? "Okay, perhaps you're right," she said. "Where would you like to eat?"
Sherlock turned to her and raised an eyebrow. "Do you trust me to choose the destination?"
Molly nodded and Sherlock gave the cabbie the new address. They spent the rest of the ride in uncomfortable silence.
Sherlock sat across from Molly at the modest café he had chosen, trying to decide why he had picked this particular spot for their 'date'. It was actually only a few blocks away from Molly's flat. Logically yes, it made sense. Though there was something sentimental about the choice and that bothered him for some reason.
"So, how do you know about this place?" she asked as she looked over the menu.
He thought before he answered. Because that 'something sentimental' was suddenly a little more obvious. Had he imagined bringing Molly here at some point in the last four years? No, not possible. He dismissed it. "I've passed by here several times on my way to your flat. I assumed you'd eaten here before."
He studied the menu himself for a moment and picked out his meal. "How does this part of the date usually work?" he asked putting down the menu then taking a drink of water.
"Well, if we didn't already know one another this is the part where we would ask general knowledge
questions. That, of course, shouldn't really apply to us." She took a drink of her wine. "Actually now that I think about it, you already know everything about me and I assume I know everything you want me to know about you. So there really is nothing to cover on general knowledge." She thought for a moment. "How was your day?" she asked flatly.
Sherlock was actually starting to get annoyed. "You know, I'm getting the feeling that you want this to go badly." Of course he knew she anticipated that it would and was projecting her hostility.
Molly took a deep breath. "Sorry, you're right. I keep doing that. I'm just anxious for this to be over, so I can move on and..." She looked off in the distance. "Get on with my life."
"And you're certain that this will work?" he asked.
Insecurity flashed on Molly's face. "No, of course I'm not. Getting engaged didn't even work, Sherlock. But I have to try, don't I?" She took another large drink.
Sherlock studied Molly and considered something for a moment. "So, let's say this does work and you do move on. What exactly are you looking for in a... romantic partner?" Sherlock asked trying to give her back her previous confidence, surprising even himself as he said it.
She smiled. "Oh, I don't know, um, he has to be able deal with my job of course. Believe it or not it can be off putting to some blokes. " She laughed. "I'd like to be able to discuss at least some aspects of my work with him and not have him turning green. Ah, also he needs to have a career of his own and his own life as well. Tom was a bit too clingy; thought we needed to do everything together. If I want to sit alone in my flat on my day off and read an entire novel, I should be able to. I'm a grown woman, I've earned that right." She visibly cringed at the memory. "He should care about his friends and family. But not a mamma's boy," she added quickly. "My uni boyfriend... I think he may have had an Oedipus complex."
"I won't fix you up with Mycroft then," Sherlock deadpanned, causing them both to laugh.
"Ideally, he'd be a scientist, I think, but it's not a requirement. I do love a scientific mind though," she said looking a bit dreamy. "Someone I could connect with on an intellectual level, not just on a romantic one."
"Oh, and not a squishy baby."
"What?" he asked, completely lost.
"Well, Brian, the last guy I dated," she closed her eyes for a moment and took a breath. "I couldn't argue with him. It's not like... well, I'm not always looking for a fight, but he'd just agree with everything I said. I need someone who can challenge me and whom I can challenge as well. There's nothing wrong with a little verbal sparring." She bit her lip. "Never mind, you don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about, do you?"
He was about to answer that he did indeed understand that need when the waitress interrupted them and asked if they were ready to order. They did. But Sherlock was slightly confused at the thoughts that were suddenly plaguing his mind. Molly had, inadvertently, described him. At least some of his better qualities. They ate their meal and chatted, though Sherlock was still distracted by his thoughts. When the bill came there was a small tussle over who'd pay. Sherlock won, but only because he had snatched it out of Molly's hand when she let her guard down. When they got up to leave Sherlock asked if he could walk her home and she agreed.
Once outside she started to ask him a question that he didn't even fully register when he interrupted her. "I need to process something, Molly. Do you mind?"
She gave him a tight lipped smile and nodded. He lost track of time as they made their way towards her apartment. Me and Molly? Relationship? Damnit, it makes a lot of sense. She was actually quite intelligent. She had proven herself time and time again as they worked together. Her mind was sharp and she wielded a bone saw with the deftness and artistry of a painter with a brush. She was a dear friend. He had turned to her, without hesitation, in his very darkest hour. Though she was kind and giving, they were quite alike in many other ways. They shared the same dark sense of humor (she amused him even if he admonished her for her jokes.) She had the same visceral need to seek the answers to questions and puzzles, the same need for space and peace and quiet. She kept her circle of acquaintances small, as did he. That, however, was not completely by choice, as she had very little family left.
Though they had started quite rough; her maddening crush, his taking advantage of said crush – it seems they had formed a genuine and extremely pleasant relationship, somehow.
Of course there was his barely hidden sexual attraction. Once was a time he covered it up with the occasional scathing comment, something he never allowed himself anymore. But lately he was having a hard time keeping his gaze from lingering on her as she worked with him in the lab. Her scent nearly drove him mad. He had told himself throughout the years that sexual attraction was simple chemistry. There was nothing more to it. So what if he had a taste for petite, brown eyed women with sweet voices and an inciting natural scent. Wasn't his fault that she fit the bill so perfectly.
Then there was that feeling he hadn't quite let himself deal with, just yet. Oh, he knew what it was, he simply didn't like admitting that the great Sherlock Holmes ever felt anything as human as fear. He feared for her safety when Moriarty once again threatened his small family. Molly Hooper had been at the top of a very short list, and deep down – as much as he hated to admit it – he knew why. Caring is not an advantage. And for the people who cared for the consulting detective, no truer words had ever been spoken.
I care for her, of course I do, he thought as his mind palace continued to stack up evidence of exactly where his pathologist seemed to fit into his life. He saw flashes of her laughing at random moments in their shared history. He saw her teary eyes the night he came to her for help. Lastly he saw her on the arm of a tall, young man. She looked happy, yet he knew that she wasn't and at that moment he knew why.
It's all so... logical.
He came out of his thoughts and looked around only to find Molly sitting on the steps of her building, fiddling with her mobile.
"How long?" he asked.
"About twenty minutes," she said looking up from the device.
"What are you doing?"
"Angry Birds," she said with a small smile as she slipped her mobile back into her bag.
He had no idea what that meant, so he immediately forgot it. "Ah, I rather enjoyed myself this evening," he said, feeling suddenly nervous.
Molly gave him a very strange look. "You did?"
"Yes... I... did." He glanced upward, searching for the correct words. "Um, but next time perhaps we could do take away and an experiment at Baker Street?" That's when he realised his heart rate had increased and he was perspiring... a little.
Molly slowly stood up. "I'm sorry, are you suggesting that we do this again?"
Oh good God I am, aren't I? "Yes. As I said, I enjoyed spending the evening with you, Molly and it seems that I'd like to do it again. I'd even be willing to watch one of those super hero films you're so fond of." He nodded his head at the end of the sentence. He had never felt quite so out of his element in his entire adult life.
Molly sighed. "I'm sorry Sherlock, but how will having another date with you help me get over you?"
"I don't think it will, actually. I think what I'm suggesting is dating... me?" He was perfectly aware he was going about it all wrong, but really, he was doing his best.
Molly stared at him so long he thought she might have slipped into catatonia. Finally, after about a month (or two minutes in reality), she finally spoke. "Why? Is this just your ego refusing to let go of sad, pathetic little Molly Hooper?" Her eyes glistened with unshed tears.
"No," he said shaking his head. "It's simply logical." She huffed. "Wait, listen to me!" he pleaded. "You described your ideal mate... it's-it's me, Molly. You described... me." He paused. "So I had to think about it and you and well everything. If you want to be with someone, it should be me."
"Logic? It- it should be you?" She took a deep breath and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Sherlock. I left out an important point when describing the man of my dreams tonight..." She wiped away a tear that had fallen. "I want to be loved- I deserve to be loved. It took me years to realise it, but I do. How could I ever be happy with you knowing..."
"Oh, I didn't explain that part, did I?" he interrupted.
Molly sighed heavily. "What part, Sherlock?" she asked, sounding completely exasperated.
"Ah, um, I am not well acquainted with... love or affection in general, but it seems that at some point during our friendship that I may have developed more..." He paused and thought for a moment, trying desperately to get this part right. "...of a romantic inclination towards you, Molly Hooper."
Molly's eyes widened as another tear escaped. "You're interested in a romantic relationship... with me?" She paused and swallowed. "A real one?" She paused again. "With dating and being there for each other and... and... and..."
Sherlock interrupted her stammering with, "I believe the word you're looking for is sex, Molly."
She didn't agree or disagree, so Sherlock continued. "I would hope that would be part of the equation. It's been a while, but I do remember it being quite enjoyable."
"Sentiment," she said.
"Oh, yes that too, of course." He smiled.
"No, I mean I was trying to say sentiment, not sex." She folded her arms over her chest and smirked. "Is it possible that deep down inside you're just like every other man on the face of the planet?"
Sherlock cleared his throat as he felt his face heat up. Oh excellent, now I'm blushing.
"I don't know, Sherlock," Molly said interrupting his embarrassment.
"Why?" he asked. "We have similar interests. We enjoy doing the same things. We're attracted to each other. We have the same circle of friends. We both like our own space, so to spe..."
"Wait!" Molly shouted.
"What now?" He was starting to get exasperated. For someone who was supposedly in love with him, Molly wasn't exactly taking his proposal very well.
"You're attracted to me?" she asked, her eyes absolutely bugging.
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Molly, in all the years you've known me, have I ever commented on anyone else's lipstick or breasts? Have I ever taken an interest in anyone else's dating history?"
"I know for a fact you actually went on one of John's dates," she argued.
"That was for a case!"
"And he used to tell me that you complained about his girlfriends constantly. It's why I thought that perhaps..."
"Oh, not you too!" he barked.
"They were always around, reminding me of the life I chose not to have!" He was nearly shouting at this point.
Molly stilled starred at him for several moments. Finally she spoke. "What's changed? Why are choosing to have that life now?"
"I told you, it's logical," he said in a quieter but still harsh voice.
Molly shook her head. "Logic just isn't good enough, Sherlock."
"I don't- I don't understand. I said..."
"Yes, romantic inclinations. I remember, however..."
"What exactly do you expect from me?" he demanded. "Who's being cruel now? You want me, but you what? Want some imagined version of me?" He thinned his lips and shook his head. "You know me Molly, you of all people know me. This is who I am." He paused as he studied her. "Think about it, do you really want to get over me? Or do you want to try to grow with me. To- to help me learn how to properly love a woman?"
Molly made a weak whining noise as her eyes once again filled with tears. "I- I didn't know it was an option."
Sherlock softened as he stepped closer and took both of her hands in his. "Well, I'm telling you that it is. Isn't it worth a try? I have no idea what I'm doing, if I'm completely honest. But quite frankly, as I've observed, you are not exactly skilled in the art of romance either." Molly started to look offended, but Sherlock wouldn't allow it. "Come on Molly, think about it."
She seemed to think for a moment, then rolled her eyes. "Okay, perhaps you have a point there."
"After everything we've been through," he moved his hands up to her face, brushing his thumbs over her damp cheeks. "Shouldn't we make sure that we aren't meant to be, before you go running off trying to date some unnamed scientist who loves his mum, but not too much, and lets you have your space and tolerates your job and likes a good fight?" He couldn't help but smile at the look on her face.
"That sounds a lot more like destiny than logic, Sherlock."
"Right now, Molly Hooper... I don't care what we call it," he said as he lowered his head and captured her lips with his.
The moment their lips connected, he decided that logic was no longer a valid argument and it could go get bent for all he cared. Her lips were soft and smooth and slightly salty from her tears. He suddenly wanted to drink her in, all of her. He tangled his hands into her hair as he felt Molly grip his waist. Then he tilted her head and deepened the kiss. Molly's little throaty moan was all he needed to assure him that she was enjoying herself as much as he was... which was a whole hell of a lot. He traced her lips with his tongue and she opened for him. Oh, her mouth was sweet and hot and... lovely... and sweet and... breathe damnit! The kiss ended and he looked down at Molly to find her a bit winded.
"Well, that... was... Ah, yeah..." she stammered.
"Exactly. See? Aren't you glad we..."
"Oh God, you were right!" she interrupted. "Of course you were, you're always right!"
She seemed slightly angry though Sherlock suspected she was just trying to rile him up again. Not going to work. Not this time at least. "Aren't you going to invite me in for coffee, Miss Hooper?"
She narrowed her eyes and smirked. "Coffee? Or coffee, Mr. Holmes?"
He wrapped his arm around her waist and bent his head. "Well, I'm not really thirsty," he whispered.
Molly giggled as she turned and unlocked her door.
Yes, he thought. This was always going to be the logical ending to this evening. And he was very grateful for it.