Sherlock was staring at the chalkboard. It was covered mostly in Russian but had some hints of Arabic and Swahili swirled in. Sherlock had never been good with Swahili, but adequate enough to understand everything he’d recorded on the phone was just dumb gossip. Wasn’t even code, he’d checked. He was no closer to finding the source of the mysterious transmissions in various languages bothering a client, whom of which barely spoke English, let alone anything foreign. Mm. Maybe it was aliens. Not the human kind.
“I think they might just be messing with him,” John suggested.
“No.” Sherlock stood, pacing in front of the drawing and then walking over Toby the cat as he regarded the notes pinned to the wall. He’d been simply desperate for distraction recently; usually, things picked up just after Christmas, but this January was long and cold and murderless. He’d gone all the way down to a four, deciphering messages built of several overlapping languages that had been bombarding a boring father of three (who was really a father of six, but he had apparently never told his wife) who was convinced the Anasazi were trying to communicate with him. It was almost as taxing as the boredom, but at least it gave him a problem to solve.
“Then what do you think?”
“I think the poor man is suffering hallucinations,” Molly said.
“Reasonable conclusion.” Sherlock agreed, flashing her a quick small smile. He didn’t even know why he did that. There was no reason. It’s not like she said anything particularly clever, it was a reasonable conclusion based on the entirety of the case presented and her medical background. Nothing particularly notable yet he felt the need, the want, to smile. Relationships were…weird.
“Doesn’t explain the calls,” John said, gesturing to the board.
“True.” Sherlock said. “I’m under the impression it’s either a rogue Soviet sleeper cell experiment or radio wave interference. I’m leaning towards the sleeper cell.”
Molly got up and flipped around the wooden table chair so she sat on it backwards. “Why that?”
“It’s far more interesting,” he muttered. He turned to Toby. “What about you, have you got anything to add?”
Toby blinked slowly. “Meerrr.”
“Oh, please, something creative.”
Toby stretched and rolled on his back, a big mass of fur and a swishing tail. “Brrraaaaow.”
Sherlock sighed and went back to the notes and the chalkboard and his pacing. At some point, Molly passed by him and pulled him down to kiss his cheek. He furrowed his brow, confused as to what he did to bring it on. Molly patted his cheek. “I’ve been called in.”
“Oh.” Sherlock suddenly remembered she had a real job. “But all your patients are dead.”
“Samples.” She shoved the chair under the table again and picked up her coat and keys. “Should only be a few hours, but they’ve really got to get done quickly.”
Sherlock watched her put on her shoes and pause to pet Toby. “How long will you be?”
She paused and smiled at him. “How long am I usually?”
“Emergency autopsy four and a half hours, emergency sampling uh-well I don’t have enough-well, any, data, so...five hours.”
She nodded. “You’re about right-it needs all done within 24 hours but it’s not exactly all that difficult.” She stopped at the door. “You two will still be here?”
“At this rate.” John muttered. He had picked Rosie up at some point and was bouncing her on his knee.
“I’ll see you for dinner, then,” she waved and was out. Sherlock went to the window and watched her hail a cab-my, must really be an emergency. She hated paying cab fare, though she hated what he spent on it more. He had no idea what the amount was, but it was apparently “astronomical” and “maddening”, though she’d never said that to his face. Probably in an attempt to spare his feelings, however dulled they were. Though he really didn’t care what she thought of his cab expenses anyway.
He turned around, ready to subject himself to more frustrating string chasing, and most certainly embedding some knives in the wall. He didn’t shoot it when Rosie was around-at least, not anymore. John had warned him and he’d been a cock about it, Rosie had cried and he’d found out he really didn’t like causing that to happen, and then his face had gone numb because John had taken all the frustration out on his nose. It was an interesting afternoon. He was about to step over Toby again when something caught his eye. “Hmm.”
“Brroww?” Toby rolled over, batting at the cuff of his trousers.
He put his foot back down and walked to the door, surveying the room. John raised an eyebrow, setting Rosie down with Toby. “You figured something out?”
“Mmm, yes.” Sherlock looked at him. “We need to go shopping.”
“Yes. You see, there is something quite absent in the room.” Sherlock strode over to their chairs and gestured with both arms. John stared. And stared. Sherlock sighed. “Another chair.”
John furrowed his brow and slowly pointed at the one near the door, then the table with its wooden chairs.
He sighed again. Really, he’d thought John would have picked up on it. He really did. He really hoped, because it saved him from having to explain himself. It would have. “You have your chair.”
“And I have mine.”
Sherlock was wringing his hands behind his back. He told himself he wasn’t, but he was, quite awfully. “Molly…”
“Molllllyyy….” He looked at him, he leaned slightly and rolled his hands toward himself in the “come on, come oooon” way, then huffed when John stared dumbly. “She doesn’t have a chair, John! We’ve all got chairs and Molly-well Molly spends 70 to 80 percent of her time here, so it’s only logical she also has a chair since she, um-“ The he stopped, and he saw John’s grin, and he glared. “You bastard.”
John beamed, filled to the brim with cheekiness that made Sherlock want to hit him. He scooped up Rosie and stood with her on his hip. “So, shopping was it?”
Sherlock huffed properly this time. His face felt just the littlest bit hot. “Shopping.”
Cheap, rarely sturdy and displeasingly trendy furniture with an all-encompassing aroma of low-grade beef smothered in gravy marked Sherlock’s unpleasant entrance into one of London’s Ikea’s. John seemed unaffected by the smell of plastic, which Sherlock was not entirely sure didn’t belong to the gravy, plopping Rosie in the seat of a shopping cart and walking into the concrete abyss.
“I don’t see why we're here,” Sherlock complained. One of the workers, stacking boxes, had just been on his fifth smoke break of the day, and he hadn’t told anyone about it. His coworker, loading shelves of meaningless trinkets and repair parts, was getting quite close to complaining to management. He needed to be more careful.
“You want to get Molly a chair,” John said, walking so, so slow. He was doing that parent thing where they leaned on the bar and meandered and browsed like their time was not better spent anywhere but the godforsaken aisles of a Swedish furniture conglomerate.
“Yes, a chair, not a tarp suspended by twigs.” He gave a glare to a trendy recliner that was surely subpar.
“What’s with the Ikea vendetta?”
“It’s cheap furniture of a poor quality.”
“Have you ever even been in an Ikea?”
“Once. I was seven.”
“I ended up waiting in the car with my father for three hours.”
John raised his eyebrows, said nothing, and continued to make Sherlock suffer the walk through Ikea, eventually getting to a section of armchairs he was loathed to admit seemed decent quality. It wasn’t like he wanted the queen's bloody throne, but he really, really didn’t want to get a chair here. Even worse was when John started wandering towards the clearance. Without other option, Sherlock started testing chairs, even more frustrated that they were sometimes comfortable, though never quite right. He wanted to go to a proper furniture store, like wherever he’d gotten his bedframe; it’d served him since the year after Uni and would serve him till death and then whoever got it when he died and so on and so forth. But no, he’d followed John here because John saw a six hundred pound chair and had a heart attack and he’d thought he’d see logic and entertain a different store after five minutes. Nope.
He kept bouncing from chair to chair, his hatred for Ikea blinding him to the possibility of a wing chair in an adequate violet, and a promising striped Bergere. Finally, having gone through all the chairs in that row and frightening the employees from helping the strange bouncing man choose a chair, he went off to find John and Rosie. They were found deep in the rows of clearance, John stopped in the middle of the aisle and looking at the rows of chairs.
“There’s nothing here, John. Let’s leave.” Sherlock grabbed his sleeve and tugged it.
John pointed. “What about this?”
“It doesn’t matter, John, lets-“
“Oh bloody look at it, would you?” John snapped at him, then when Sherlock (quite rightfully, he thought) didn’t look, physically put his hand on his cheek and turned his head. “There. The red one.”
“Maroon.” Sherlock muttered.
It had a deep seat and high arms, like the sort commonly depicted in cartoons. The cushion appeared large and comfortable and it was upholstered in a-he touched it- cotton blend that would withstand an awful lot of wear. Amusing John, he sat in it. “Oh, damn it.”
“Damn it!” Rosie said excitedly because she knew for certain she wasn’t even supposed to know the word existed.
“Sherlock!” John sighed. “Stop that.”
“I was surprised.” He turned around and sat so his legs hung off the edge, then tucked them between the arm and the cushion, then swiveled around and let his feet hang off the top so he was upside down. Rosie cocked her head to the side and he waved to her. She waved back with both hands.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Testing.” He sat with his knees to his chest, then his legs tucked under him. Damn it all. It was a good chair.
“Why? It’s not going to be your chair.”
“Who knows.” The cushion was configured just right so that even he could sit cross-legged comfortably. “Might have to fit two.”
“Oh. My. God.”
Sherlock furrowed his brow, then all at once realized what John was thinking and jumped up. “Oh please.”
“I meant-I meant,” he lowered his voice significantly, “cuddling, you pervert.”
John lowered his voice as well, Sherlock realizing he was messing with him again. “You say that like it’s dirty, Sherlock.”
Was he blushing? Think about something dead. No, no not a human that just makes the recent lack of cases worse-dead puppy!...Oh. Dead puppy. Stop thinking about that. That’s depressing. At least the blush was gone. “Oh, let's just buy the bloody chair. The floor model, I refuse to even look at those instructions.”
Sherlock bullied the salesman and revealed a disturbing amount of his personal life to him before he was finally allowed to take the floor model. John went on about him being a dickhead like he cared about the feelings of a Swedish Hell employee as they narrowly secured the chair in John’s car, which Sherlock was becoming more and more pleased he owned. He hadn’t been sure how he would fit the thing in a cab. Or the tube, for the matter.
At the apartment John handed Rosie off to Mrs. Hudson and helped carry the thing upstairs, at which point they set it down and proceeded to argue about where it should go. Little did Sherlock suspect that Ikea existed within a time warp because Molly appeared in the doorway an hour before she should have and gave the chair, now housing Toby, a puzzled look. “Sherlock? John?”
They both stopped and looked over. “Hello, Molly.” John said.
“What’s…going on?” She walked over slowly, an amused smile quirking around the corners of her mouth. “Is it for the case?”
Sherlock swallowed. Now he was nervous and awkward. And he knew why, and he hated that he did. It was all Molly’s fault. “Um. Well, you see…” he paused for an unnecessary amount of time, looking between the chair and her, gauging her reaction. She seemed interested, at the very least. But not excited-no, wait, no, of course she wasn’t excited; she had no idea what the hell was going on. Stupid. “Um. Surprise.”
“Um. I thought…well, you spend 70 to 80 percent of your time here now, especially on ca-“
One side of her mouth went up. “Is that an actual estimation?”
Her smile got bigger. Oh, he liked that smile. It was so easy to read-she was easy to read. Everyone else was such a bother, even John sometimes, but Molly Hooper made him feel…normal. “Continue.”
“Well, I-you need a chair. You didn’t have a proper one so…I-we, we got you one.”
“It was all his idea, I’m just the driver.” John gestured with both hands at Sherlock, which simultaneously felt like sabotage and brilliance because Molly smiled.
No, no she…beamed.
“Oh, you-Sherlock! That’s so sweet!” She came up and hugged him tightly with her cheek to his chest. Sherlock hugged back and looked at John, who gave him a thumbs up. Sherlock grinned, leaned down and kissed the top of her head.
“I’m glad you like it,” he said.
“Oh, I love it.” Her voice was muffled by his shirt, but she pulled back to smile up at him.
He touched her cheek, cold from outside, and kissed her softly. The act, kissing, was growing on him. He’d never much cared for it before. He thought himself lucky the one he liked kissing never hesitated to kiss back. He nodded to the chair. “We were just arguing where to put it. But since you’re here, I think it’s best you choose.”
She looked, paused, and looked around the flat. “Where were you thinking?”
“John was thinking we’d put the television on my side and sort of rotate so there’s still a walkway, I was thinking to move the side table and just putting you between the other two,” Sherlock gestured between the chairs. He was hoping she’d choose his method, otherwise, he’d never hear the end of it.
But Molly just shook her head and went to the chair and started pushing it, Toby unphased. Sherlock and John watched as she slid it right beside Sherlock’s chair, then scooted them both back just a bit so one could still reach the window. Then she looked at Sherlock, and the smile she’d been wearing became almost mischievous; knowing, self-satisfied, and decided. She shrugged off her coat and laid it over the back of the chair.
Of Molly’s chair.