I don't own these characters, I don't own the Star Trek's universe: I only own my sick fantasies...for now. Not beta-ed, and I apologize in advance for any mistake you will find, since English is not my first language.
The memory of her encounter with John Harrison lingered in Molly's mind for a few days: he had escorted her to the tube station, she had thanked him again for his courtesy, and he had left with a sober smile. She had not given him her communicator number, and he had not asked for it: a little voice in her mind scolded her for not even thinking about exchanging their contact numbers, but on the other hand, her conscience suggested that giving her phone number to a perfect stranger, as far as handsome as John Harrison was, was not wise. And after all, she was busy enough with her studies, and her job at St. Barts, to waste time daydreaming about a fortunate encounter in the rain.
Nonetheless, John Harrison reappeared in her subconscious at times: mostly it was to remember the feeling of his hands, partially covered by black fingerless gloves, brushing her lower back while guiding her in the middle of the crowd, or simply the curve of his lips, when he smiled his modest "It's been my pleasure" at her thanking. They were nothing more than fleeting recollections of a pleasant moment in her usually monotonous life, and Molly would have probably forgotten about them, if one day, two weeks after that, she had not met him again.
She was leaving the Royal Children's Hospital, after a long and, unfortunately negative consult, and, as usual, she was not watching where she was going. She collided with a firm and wide chest, and when she raised her eyes, preparing to apologize for her clumsiness, a familiar pair of eyes stared back at her.
It took Molly a second, to recover and try to not make a fool of herself. "Oh, John...I mean, Mr Harrison! I'm...I'm sorry! I haven't hurt you, have I?I'm so sorry!" she babbled, and the man smiled at her bumbling apology.
"Don't worry, I'm still in one piece. It takes more than an harmless shove by a delicate woman like you, to hurt me".
"Oh, well, I'm glad...and I'm as graceful as an elephant in a china shop, my father always told me!". She brushed away his compliment, and tried to move, in order to let him enter.
"Your father was wrong, then: you seem to be very nimble, and charming".
Molly blushed, her pale skin assuming quickly a vivid shade of red. She was not used to such pleasing attention, and in the back of her mind an alarm sign started to ring: maybe he was just humoring her, or, even worse, his was just false flatter. Then she looked at him, and she paid attention to his eyes. They seemed sincere, waiting for a reaction from her. She didn't know him, so his supposed deceitful adulation would not have give him any profit, she pondered. Molly decided to trust her instinct, and a shy "Thank you" reached finally the man's ears, and he grinned at her.
"Speaking of china, I know a place in the neighbourhood that serves an exquisite Jasmine flower tea in old-fashioned tea cups. Would you make me the honour to accompany me, and experience a taste of their delicacy together?".
"But...but you were entering, before I stopped you so rudely..." she replied, but he acknowledged her response with a gesture of his hand.
"What could be more important than drink some tea with an alluring woman? It was nothing of importance, and surely not urgent". With this reply, John Harrison stepped back and waited for Molly to be by his side; then, his left hand fell near her back and with a light touch, he guided her towards the right direction.
What Molly loved about London, was its talent to remain traditional, even when three-quarters of its architecture were now sky-scrapers and modern constructions. Maybe it was because sometimes, surrounded by glass and reinforced concrete, you could find a little gem like the one she was admiring at the moment. It was an eminent, elegant Victorian building, that she had often admired on her way to work, and never grown the courage to enter. And now, with a stranger by her side, she was going to get inside.
Suddenly the doctor felt self-conscious about her attire: she was wearing a plain beige skirt and a floral shirt, and certainly a place like that had a very strict dress-code...
"You look absolutely fine...and they don't care about your clothing here. It's one of the reasons I like this place so much: they are only interested in tea blends, and nothing else". The man's voice had dropped, and Molly felt instantly reassured by his words. She let him guide to the main room, and the sight left her almost breathless. Crowned by a stunning glass dome, and therefore bathed in natural light, appeared the tea room. Potted palms and towering fountains of flowering plants surrounded plush couches with pillows, who promised to be as soft as marshmallows. Marble columns rose from the floor, crowned by gilded Corinthians capitals.
"It's- it's beautiful!" she exclaimed, and a few customers turned at her outburst. Thankfully a waiter materialized by their side, and escorted them to a secluded spot, with an ochre sofa and a round table. John sat down with a fluent movement, that Molly tried to mimic.
"For you, madam? Or would you like to have our list?" the waiter asked, and Molly opened her mouth to ask for the list, when she noted that her companion was gently touching her hand, attempting to draw her attention.
"May I?" he said, and Molly nodded, before letting her eyes fall to the man's fingers, still brushing her skin.
"For the lady, I suggest the Darjeelling- not the traditional black tea, but the white variant. For me, the usual". With a courteous nod, the waiter left them, and John Harrison's gaze shifted back to Molly.
"I hope you didn't find me...arrogant, or impertinent, but I've been here several times, and I wanted for you to try their most appropriate blend". He apologised, and Molly smiled at him, reassuringly.
"I am not offended, don't worry...but may I ask, why that specific tea? I don't think I've ever drunk it".
"Well then, I'm glad you're doing it now, with me. And I chose it, because I reckon it's like you".
"Like me?" Molly asked, intrigued, and she couldn't help to feel a tingle of anticipation.
"You see, it has a delicate aroma; its mellow, lasting taste is well complimented by a hint of sweetness. It's only the second time we've met, but I can't help to think that you are like the finest Darjeeling white tea: entrancing, and delectable, but firm, at the same time".
His words made Molly blush even more than the previous touch of his hand. "You don't have to say that..." she said, and blessed the providential return of the waiter. In less than five minutes, the table was set, and overflowing with food and beverage: a three tiered silver stand full of dainty finger sandwiches, filled with smoked salmon, egg, chicken, prawn, cream cheese and cucumber, was in the middle; two teapots and their china cups, patterned with multicolored flowers, and a set of linen napkins on the plates, were just before them.
They waited for the attendant to place another tray, full of warm, homemade buttery scones, served with small bowls with a choice of jams and clotted cream, and let him pour the tea into the cup. With the last addition of a little milk jug, a sugar bowl and a small plate with lemon slices, the waiter finally departed.
Molly tried to mimic Mr Harrison's sophisticated gestures while drinking: for once, she decided to skip the milk, like her companion did, and she savoured slowly the hot beverage, finding that the man's previous description of the blend was correct: it was fruity, and slightly floral, but with an hidden spicy depth. Her satisfied smile after the first sip made the man before her smirk in return.
"Are you satisfied by my choice?".
Molly nodded."What about yours?"
"Excellent, as always. Do you want to play a game?".
His playful tone tickled her fancy."Yes", she agreed.
"Guess what kind of tea I'm drinking", he challenged her, and Molly took a few minutes to ponder. If he had chosen a blend of tea for her just by his assumption of her character, it was only fair he had done the same for himself. She didn't hesitate when she gave him her answer. "Assam".
"Very well...and let me apologise, I figured out only a few moments ago that I've been calling you by the wrong name. It's Dr. Hooper, isn't it?".
"How did you..." she murmured, and then she noticed her identification badge, still hanging from her shirt. "Yes, it's Dr. Hooper".
"May I ask your specialization?". He set down his cup on the saucer, and gave her his full attention.
"They are two, almost three, really. My first was pathology". Molly waited for a negative comment, that never arrived. "I've always been interested into finding the reason, behind the mystery. I could have chosen to study philosophy, as well, but since I was a little girl, I've had a morbid fascination with death. Probably because of my father's profession...".
"Why? Was he a pathologist, too?".
Molly sadly smiled, her mind picturing her late father with a scalpel in his hands."Oh no, he was a taxidermist. A really old-fashioned job, I know, and with a niche market, but he was a master at it".
John Harrison sensed that the mention of her father had saddened Molly, and hastened to change the subject. "And what about the second specialization? Wasn't one enough?".
"No..six years ago, my father fell ill. He suffered by a rare, chronic endocrine disorder called Addison disease. It was diagnosed too late, and he died two years ago. During his illness, I decided to take another specialization in endocrinology. And now, I'm finishing my internship into trauma surgery, as requested by the Starfleet".
"By the Starfleet?" was his intrigued question.
"Yes...just after my father's death, a Starfleet colonel came to visit me, and asked me if I was interested into a Starfleet career. They were interested because of my different specializations, and...well, I have no relatives here, nothing holding me back, and how could I decline? But enough speaking about me, Mr Harrison-"
"John. Call me John, please".
"Alright, John, but only if you'll call me Molly. What do you do for a living?".
"Well, I'm a freelancer, Molly. I have only an economic degree, and I've just finished a project for an important customer. Nothing exciting, you see...and now, why don't we ask the waiter for the "pièce de résistance"?".
Molly internally shivered at his superb pronunciation, but tried to mask her excited state with a genuine question."Which would be...?".
At his gesture, the waiter returned with a platter of cakes and tartlets. Miniature raspberry macaroons, coffee and orange eclairs, delicate pineapple financiers on a coconut mousse...everything looked amazingly rich and scrumptious, and surely deleterious for her diet. Her companion sensed her doubt, and took a fresh berry crumble tart, encouraging her to do the same. His sigh of pleasure, and the sight of his perfect, full lips closing over the little cake, made Molly envy the lucky confection so much, that she decided to distract herself with a miniature chocolate marquise.
Bite after bite, sip after sip, the tea tasting came quickly to an end. Reluctantly Molly reached the exit, John by her side.
"Well, thank you for the amazing afternoon" she started, offering him her hand.
He took her hand, but he didn't shake it. He let his fingertips caress her palm, tracing the soft skin. "I have to confess you something. The first time I met you, Molly, I made an unforgivable mistake".
His admission startled her. "Of course...now he's regretting even meeting me".
" I didn't ask for your number. And Molly... I won' let this happen again".
Relief washed over her, and she gave her contacts to him. She was typing his number on her communicator, when a text arrived.
"Dinner? Tomorrow? Don't say no, please- JH".
Molly didn't know much about the man, but she was sure of one thing: the sight of his eyes smiling at her, silently begging her for a positive answer, had the power to make her do things she would never have the boldness to do otherwise.
Thanks for reading, and for all the reviews to the previous chapter...and be kind, let me know what you think!