Molly couldn't believe her ears. Her brain raced with her heart, trying to grasp the thought that Sherlock had just asked her to dinner. Unbidden she thought of the afternoon when Sherlock had asked her to solve crimes. Then she had been prepared for a dinner invitation but right now she was bewildered. Grinning she shook her head, at the sheer randomness of life.
Sherlock misunderstood her silence and her gesture. He frowned and released Molly's hand. Gripping the arm rests he stood in a fluid motion and was about to turn away. Then Molly's hand darted out grabbing his arm. He stiffened but didn't turn around.
"Sherlock I would love dinner." she said softly. Sherlock felt something tight in his chest loosen and an unexpected flood of happiness. Molly couldn't see it but Sherlock dropped the mask of indifference he had put in place and smiled a wide and genuine smile. Immediately he started to think of the appropriate restaurant for the time of day and Molly's current outfit. He was sorting through locations in his mind palace when Molly's voice startled him.
"This curry house looks good." he blinked and realized that Molly was now across the room sorting through take away menus. Neither John nor Sherlock had time or inclination to cook and over the years they had collected a large amount of delivery menus. Sherlock's forehead wrinkled in confusion but Molly was too engrossed in the menu to notice. He wondered if Molly was worried about being seen with him.
Molly wasn't thinking about secrecy at all. She was worried about Sherlock; he looked exhausted. Going out to dinner was out of the question. Plus she reasoned that she was also tired and hardly dressed for a proper dinner date.
"You want to eat here?" he asked emphasizing the last word by sweeping his hand over the cluttered rooms. Only then did Molly wonder if Sherlock was worried about her being seen in his flat. She hurried to reassure him.
"Everyone is out. I mean Lestrade took John out to a pub and Mrs. Hudson is shopping so…." Molly didn't know how to finish her sentence so she didn't. Choosing instead to focus on the menu in her hand.
Sherlock blinked slowly, taking in the new information and trying to ignore the twinge of frustration pulling at his heart.
"Okay." he said slowly and Molly glanced up "but I will choose the restaurant." She offered him the menus but he waved them away. Instead he pulled out his phone and dialed.
Molly tried to return the menus to their previous position on top of a stack of old mail. Her action upset the delicate balance of the tower and it all began slipping and falling. Molly attempted to prop it up but she only made it worse and soon the entire pile was on the floor. Color rushed to her face and she kneeled down quickly, trying to clean up the mess. Wondering why she always had to be so clumsy.
Sherlock watched the spectacle with a bemused expression. He enjoyed Molly's frustrated and flushed expression. It reminded him of the early days of their acquaintance when she seemed to always be pink and embarrassed. Then Sherlock had assumed that Molly was nothing more than a clumsy and socially awkward woman; only useful for body access and coffee delivery. So much had changed since those first impressions; Molly seemed almost a different person. It was nice to be reminded that she was still the same Molly.
By the time Sherlock had finished ordering Molly had managed to collect most of the mail into a pile. She was trying to figure out how to move the pile back to its perch when Sherlock knelt beside her. She felt the warmth of his body like ignighting the air between them. She looked at him sheepishly.
"Sorry. I made a bit of a mess."
"Really? I hadn't noticed." Sherlock responded with a wry smile before picking up the entire pile and dropping it in the bin.
"You're not even going to sort it?" Molly asked incredulously.
Molly shook her head. "Right." she said "We wouldn't want things to get boring." she smiled but deep down an alarm rang in her heart. Would Sherlock get bored of her? She pushed the thought away.
"The food should arrive in forty minutes." Sherlock said evenly before walking to his bedroom. Some women would be annoyed at his abrupt exit but Molly understood Sherlock. He expected her to understand, without explanation, why he left the room. Molly made the obvious deduction that he was going to change, probably take his medication and maybe freshen up. She looked around the kitchen and realized if they were going to eat at the table she would need to do some tidying. She rolled up her sleeves and started to work. It was good to keep her mind and hands occupied. It prevented her from getting too nervous, from thinking too much. The forty minutes flew by.
"Thank you." Molly said taking the plastic bags from the delivery boy and moving into the kitchen. Sherlock had emerged at the sound of the knock, his red dressing gown lazily tied over a shirt and jeans. He offered the kid a few notes but the guy put up his hand, refusing to take them.
"You know I can't. It's the rules. 221B Baker Street ain't allowed to pay."
Sherlock rolled his eyes. "Take it as a tip then." The guy just shook his head and turned on his heel before Sherlock could protest. Molly grinned at the exchange. She was fairly certain that Sherlock had picked this particular curry house not for it's excellent selection but because the owner was indebted to him in some way. She briefly wondered if between Mrs. Hudson and all his grateful clients Sherlock ever had to pay for his food.
She placed the plastic bags on the now clear table and started pulling out the cartons.
"It smells great." Molly exclaimed.
Sherlock turned and blinked in surprise at the cleared table. He looked a little annoyed but before he could speak Molly jumped in.
"Don't worry I put all the experiments and equipment away properly. I know you hate for your stuff to be moved but we needed a place to eat." she didn't look up as she dished out the food. Sherlock smiled down at her and when she looked up he didn't hide it. He was rewarded for this small act of bravery by a spark in Molly's eye and a wide smile.
They sat and ate in silence. Both were lost in their thoughts and neither even noticed the silence. When Sherlock was dating Janine he never enjoyed a silent meal. She was always telling stories or asking questions. It took a Herculean effort for him to engage in the conversation with anything approaching civility. Likewise Molly's time with Tom was filled with lots of mundane stories and chatter. Most of which Molly managed to tune out, which is why it took her so long to realize how average Tom's intelligence was. However Molly and Sherlock, after years of working together at St. Bart's, were as comfortable with silence as with conversation. In fact there were times when they both preferred the quiet.
Molly spent the silence thinking about her predicament with Sherlock. Slowly she was working up the courage to ask him why he was keeping her a secret.
As he ate Sherlock jumped between observing Molly and referencing things in his mind palace. He wanted to spend more time with her and had decided he needed to give her reasons to spend time with him. He deduced that this must be the point of dating, giving two people who enjoy each other's company an excuse to spend time together. Although he would have preferred they spend their time in the morgue, lab, or at Baker Street he deduced that Molly would want to "go out". He tried to discover the things she would like to do, the places she might want to visit, or the restaurants she might enjoy by referencing his memories. He was surprised to discover that he had very little data on Molly's personal likes or dislikes. Despite knowing her for years they had rarely talked about such things. Their conversations were mostly about the work or the favors Sherlock wanted. Most people volunteered information about themselves but Molly Hooper always waited to be asked. Of course Sherlock had never thought to ask which is why he knew so little. The detective realized he would need to learn more about Molly to plan appropriate dates. To accomplish that goal he broke the silence.
"Do you enjoy artistic renderings of abandoned buildings?" he asked.
"What?" Molly replied, startled from her own thoughts.
"Do you like photographs or paintings of ruined buildings?"
"Um. I don't know. Maybe? I would need some examples to really say for sure." Sherlock nodded and mentally added a visit to the Tate Modern's new exhibit to his list of date ideas.
"Are you fond of gardens?"
"Vegetable or decorative?" Molly countered with a bemused expression. She didn't know why Sherlock was asking but she was enjoying answering.
"Decorative are okay. I prefer long stretches of grass and trees to the kind overloaded with flowers." Sherlock added a picnic to his list before launching into another question. In this way they finished their meal, Sherlock asking a startlingly specific question, followed by Molly's confused answer. By the time they stood to clear the table Sherlock was feeling very confident in his large collection of date possibilities.
Meanwhile Molly, distracted by Sherlock's questions, had forgotten about her plan to confront him. Instead she placed the dishes in the sink and turned around to face Sherlock who was just closing the fridge.
"Why the sudden interest in my likes and dislikes?" she asked.
"I am compiling a list of possible dating activities." Sherlock answered.
"Oh." Molly struggled not to sound surprised but Sherlock caught the tone in her voice.
His forehead wrinkled. "Is that suprising to you? I was under the impression that couples normally enjoy a variety of activities together."
Molly hated the way her heart leaped at the word "couples".
"They do. I just didn't think that we…well…um….that we…" Molly trailed off. She had assumed that keeping their relationship a secret would mean no real dating and didn't know how to explain her surprise without also talking about the secret.
"Do you not consider us a couple?" Sherlock asked. "Because I thought…well I was led to believe that you wanted to date me." Molly could hear the trace of hurt and growing indignation in Sherlock's voice and she rushed to reassure him. She took a step closer and fixed her eyes on his.
"No…I mean yes. Yes I want to be a couple." She said sincerely.
Sherlock felt a flood of relief at her words, happy to know that they were a couple. He became aware of Molly's nearness as an almost electric field sparking between them. He took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet scent that he identified with her. Then with a soft smile his hands grasped her face and pulled her lips to his.
The kiss started like most of their hospital kisses. Soft, undemanding, conveying a sense of contentment and belonging. But almost immediately it began to morph into something new. In the hospital Molly had been careful. Restraining her passion in deference to Sherlock's pain; she had kept the kisses short and chaste. But after days of confusion and wondering if Sherlock really wanted her, the touch of his lips sparked a fire she didn't even try to contain. She deepened the kiss and grabbed Sherlock's dressing gown pulling him closer. He responded by placing his hands on the small of her back. Their breathing quickened as their kisses became more intense. Molly was suddenly aware of being pressed into the fridge as they scrabbled to touch and taste with a frenzy. She felt cool air on her stomach and realized that Sherlock's long, dexterous, fingers had unbuttoned her blouse. The cold air was replaced by his warm hands rubbing and kneading.
If Molly had been capable of coherent thought she might have wondered just how experienced Sherlock was or worried about how quickly things were escalating. She might have even told Sherlock that he was still recovering and they should avoid anything too strenuous. Instead she let out a low moan which Sherlock swallowed into his demanding mouth.
If Sherlock had cared to observe he might have heard the sounds of Mrs. Hudson, John and Lestrade entering the flat. He might have noticed the way their feet drummed on the stairs in a manner that would indicate that John was not capable of standing on his own. He definitely would have heard their voices as they entered the flat and tried to maneuver John into his chair. Instead all he heard was the way Molly gulped in her breath and gasped or moaned when he touched the right places. All he noticed was the fascinating way her skin flushed when he trailed kisses down her neck.
Too caught up in each other, neither Sherlock nor Molly noticed the new occupants of the flat. However Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade noticed them, in fact it was hard for them to pay attention to anything else. Their lack of attention explains why John ended up tripping and landing with a loud thump and a string of expletives. Molly's eyes flew open at the noise. Sherlock was bent down, devoting his attention to her collarbone, so Molly had an unobstructed view of the flat and the frozen, shocked, faces of Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade.
Thanks everyone for being patient and for all the lovely reviews. I promise I will respond when it isn't late at night and my laptop isn't about to die!
Hope you enjoyed this one. I kinda love the ending. =)
Review if convenient!