In Loco Parentis

Summary: Sometimes, no matter how old you are, you just need your mother to smooth your hair and your father to tell you that you're alright and you're not a bad person. Molly Hooper has the next best thing. [Spoilers for Season Three]

Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock.

Greg Lestrade walked slowly through the halls of St. Bart's hospital.

It was late. Much too late for anyone to be just walking through the halls, but Lestrade had been at the hospital earlier in the day and forgot his mobile phone. Molly Hooper had given him a ring in his office and told him that the phone would be on her desk and the door to her office would be unlocked; all he had to do was lock up after he retrieved his phone.

As he neared her office, he noticed a soft glow emanating from beneath the door. Suspicious, he paused outside the door. Molly had worked the overnight shift and left early that morning; the light in her office should be off. He put his hand on the door and tested the knob.

It was unlocked.

Lestrade carefully opened the door to her office and was about to ask why the person was there when he realized he knew the occupant.

Molly Hooper was sitting on the floor in the corner, her head in her hands, sobbing.

"Molly?" he asked, crossing her office in a few easy strides and kneeling down at her side. "What's wrong? Are you hurt? What happened? Who did this?" His pulse was beating rapidly and he could feel his fingers itching to call for backup.

Slowly, Molly raised her head, wiping at her eyes hastily. It was obvious to the detective inspector that the woman had been crying for a while; her eyes were red and swollen. "W-what?" she croaked, sniffling.

Lestrade shifted a bit. "What's wrong?" He gently placed his hand on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

Molly shook her head, biting her lip. She averted her gaze, staring at the expanse of carpet beside her. "I'm a terrible person, Greg."

His brow furrowed and he glanced around her office. Then he carefully maneuvered until he was sitting beside her on the floor, all thoughts of retrieving his mobile phone gone. "Of all things, Molly, you're not even remotely close to being a terrible person."

"I broke it off with Tom." She sniffled and tried to wipe at her eyes. Lestrade took a moment to glance down at her hands, and sure enough the simple engagement ring she had been wearing for months was gone.

"I'm sorry—"

"I broke his heart, Greg. I broke it and—and—and—" Molly took a shuddering breath and covered her face again. Lestrade sat stiffly beside her for a moment, before exhaling and wrapping an arm around her shoulder, tugging her closer to him. She turned into his embrace willingly. "I've been dragging him along since November."

"It's alright, it's alright," he murmured soothingly. "We all do silly things, don't we? You've said so yourself."

"I thought I moved on! And look at me, pining after a man who doesn't even see me. At least the part of me I want him to see. I'm a good pathologist. I've helped him in his times of need, but he can't see—" Her body trembled with sobs, and Lestrade tightened his hold on her. For a few moments, Molly just cried and Lestrade held her, then as her sobs began to taper off, he said,

"It wouldn't have been fair if you married him, Molly. Not loving the person you're married to is…it's bloody well awful."

She was quiet for a moment, contemplating what he said. "I did love him," she croaked, squeezing her eyes shut. She took another shaky breath. "A piece of me loved him, or else I wouldn't have said yes when he asked."

Lestrade hummed softly, stroking her shoulder. "But not the piece that counted, right? Molly, you did the right thing. Even if it hurt him, he'll be thankful in the end. A broken engagement is much easier to recover from than a broken marriage and divorce."

Molly gasped, covering her face once again. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

"Don't be. Just learn from me." He gave her shoulder another comforting squeeze.

"But this doesn't fix what I've done."

"What did you do?" He immediately remembered the rare act of violence Molly committed during the wedding; she stabbed Tom with a plastic fork. He hoped that was the only thing that she did, because he would hate to have to press charges against her for domestic violence or murder…with a meat dagger. He tried not to snicker.

Molly turned more into Lestrade's embrace and pressed her face against his shoulder. Lestrade reminded himself that the woman was upset and hurting; he had no right to make jokes, even if they were in his head. "I saw, but I didn't do anything about it."

"You saw what?"

"At the wedding, I saw Sherlock. He was hurting, and I just—I just didn't do anything about it! I just danced with Tom and—Oh God! He needed someone and I was being selfish and terrible. I was trying to prove to myself that Tom was the one who mattered the most, but really…" She sniffled but didn't say anything else for a long while. Lestrade kept a firm grip on her, allowing her to finish her cry on his shoulder. He had a gut feeling that she didn't really want to talk about it anymore.

When she was just sniffling, Lestrade shifted and then he asked, "Do you need a ride home?"

"Actually," Molly said, pulling away from him. She wiped at her eyes, wincing at the tenderness. "Can you take me to Baker Street? I've been avoiding him for weeks and I owe him an apology."

Lestrade hesitated for a moment. Even after Sherlock's return, he wasn't the best with emotions and people, and Molly was obviously in a very fragile state of mind and people needed to tread carefully around her, especially Sherlock. Every fatherly instinct in his body wanted to tell her that she just needed to go home and rest.

But then he remembered he wasn't her father.

He rubbed the back of his neck and then sighed. "Yeah, I'll take you to Baker Street."

"Thanks." Molly carefully pulled away from him and patted the wet spot on his shoulder. "Sorry."

"It'll wash out." He shrugged his shoulders and carefully stood to his feet; he wasn't as young as he used to be and sitting on the floor wasn't that great for his back or legs. He helped Molly to hers, steadying her as she wobbled a bit on her feet.

He watched as she gathered her purse from her desk and picked up his mobile phone. She handed it to him wordlessly, and then Lestrade led the way out of St. Bart's and to his car.

They didn't speak during the journey to Baker Street, but once they pulled up in front of Sherlock's flat, Molly hesitated. "John and Mary are here."

"That's right. They returned from their honeymoon this morning. Do you want me to take you home?" He could see that she desperately wanted to go home, if her clenched fists were any indication. But she shook her head resolutely.

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"Do you want me to wait, then? Or come up with you?"

"No." Molly shook her head firmly. "I'll take a cab home."

"You sure?"

She nodded her head.

Then Lestrade very carefully leaned across the seat and cupped Molly's shoulders in his hands. He kissed her forehead and whispered, "Can I give you some—uhh—fatherly advice?" He waited for Molly to nod her head again. Then he said, with a smile on his face, "Everything is going to be alright. No matter what happens tonight, know that you've done the right thing." He let go of her slowly. "It takes a lot of guts to do what you've done and what you're about to do. And between you and me," he paused, glancing up to the window of 221B Baker Street. "That idiot has had enough time to think about his feelings, and you shouldn't be worried about him not seeing you the way you want to be seen. I think he's seeing you quite clearly, and has been for some time."

For a moment, Molly just stared at him, her bottom lip trembling a bit. She opened and closed her mouth a few times before snapping her jaw shut. He could see tears shining in her eyes once again, and he was worried that he made things much worse for the poor girl. Then she sent him a watery smile and croaked, "I've needed fatherly advice for a while now."

"I'm available anytime," Lestrade said firmly.

She nodded her head once, and then leaned across the seat, kissing his cheek. He still wasn't sure if this was the best idea right now, but he couldn't tell Molly what to do with her heart. "Thank you so much, Greg."

"No problem."

He watched as she climbed out of his car and paused on the pavement, and he imagined she was giving herself a mental pep talk. Then she walked confidently to the door and rang the doorbell. He saw fluttering of the curtain and glanced up to see John peering down at the visitor.

Lestrade didn't drive away until Molly was safely inside Baker Street. Then he took a deep breath, and smiled to himself.

Things were going to be alright for his Molly Hooper, finally.


A/N: Just another little thingy I wrote. I just adore Molly and Lestrade having a father/daughter type relationship. Thanks for reading!