I have been listening to lots of songs on repeat lately, and this is one of them.
It makes me happy, and I look like a fool dancing to it, but that's okay!
I do not own Sherlock or Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows.
If you are reading my other fic - never fear! This is just a little break I wanted to write because I was feeling sappy and romantic and feels-y and stuff. I am returning to Lessons in Love now. Like, right now. Here I go...writing... :)
Accidentally in Love
(Or Sherlock's Seven Steps Towards Sentiment)
Wanting is Your Warning Sign
It's human nature to need, and to want. Sherlock just needs and wants differently than most people. It's as though he's turned Maslow's hierarchy on its head. He needs problems to solve more than he needs just about anything else, including food or sleep. The body is just transport, after all. He wants nothing. Want reveals emotion, a chemical attachment to something or someone. Sherlock Holmes does not want. He simply needs to meet his transport's needs, and to use his brain. That's it.
He does not want to eat or sleep, or to have physical contact with others, or a steady job, or security, or companionship, or friends, or the respect and adoration of others. He recognizes he occasionally needs all of these things - or some semblance of them - to balance the mixture of chemicals in his body, but he does not really want any of them.
He's lying to himself.
It's a curious experience, when a need becomes a want.
Sherlock needs a place to stay – a shelter – a home. It's surprising, really, how four familiar walls and a roof – something every building has – can so quickly become something your body wants. He wants 221B Baker Street, because of the holes in the walls and the grime on the counters and the body parts in the fridge and the creak in the stairs. He needs a home – shelter - but he wants Baker Street.
On the occasions when Sherlock decides to sleep, he needs a blanket to keep him warm. Over time, he has grown to want a particular blanket – one given him by a Mrs. Martha Hudson, because it's worn in all the right places and it's got a tiny burn mark in it from the one time he dropped a cigarette on it and she's the only one who washes it so it always smells a little like her brand of tea and laundry detergent. He needs a blanket, but he wants Mrs. Hudson's.
When John Watson comes along, Sherlock accepts him because he's mildly interesting and he fills the need for occasional companionship better than Mrs. Hudson or Gary or his insufferable know-it-all of a brother. Over the course of a few months, Sherlock finds himself preferring John's company more and more. He needs people to appreciate his genius – but it's only John Watson's approval he wants.
And then there's one more.
It's the want with the biggest potential warning sign – a wanting that encompasses his mind and his body and a strange sort of warm place in his chest that he always tells himself is simply heartburn (if he's eaten) or hunger (if he hasn't).
Sherlock needs access to St. Bart's laboratory and morgue. He needs someone on the inside, and he needs someone he can trust to run tests with him and monitor results and manipulate data. He tells himself he could work with anyone – he only needs a pathologist – an assistant – and nothing more.
He's lying to himself again.
He needs a pathologist, but he wants Molly Hooper.
Step 1: Confusion and Denial
"So she said "What's the problem baby?"
What's the problem - I don't know -"
"What's the problem, baby? Maddie, Maddie, Maddie – I know you're hungry, but be happy, pretty girl," Molly coos affectionately at the fussy girl as Sherlock attempts to prepare a bottle of milk for the child.
How he got roped into watching the child was anyone's guess – but it probably had something to do with the fact that this little scenario was the perfect storm of colliding inconveniences (at least from Sherlock's viewpoint). John and Mary both got called in for emergency shifts after a flu outbreak, and Mrs. Hudson had the flu herself, and Molly was their second go-to childcare provider, and so here she was, and here Sherlock was, with her – because it would be easiest to intercept John from here when he arrived home and because, honestly, if he had to choose between waiting alone and waiting with her – he'd rather wait with Molly.
Of course, he'd rather wait with her at the lab, but the lab was strictly off-limits with a baby on board.
And so he is here, at John and Mary's flat, as Molly Hooper bounces Madeline Watson on her knee, keeping in time with the little song she's breathily half-singing to keep the baby happy. Something about swinging on stars and Lulus and it hardly matters because it's sentimental and silly and ridiculous. If anything, she should be singing about ABCs or Schrödinger's cat or the periodic table of the elements.
Still, Sherlock can't help but admire the way she's known exactly what the baby needs all evening –
"Her nappy needs changed, she's not bored, Sherlock." Said with a smile and a wrinkle of the nose.
" – Nope, still not bored, Sherlock, now she's sleepy and hungry" – Said with a tired sort of affection.
"Sherlock, you're the one who's bored. Why - why don't you try making her a bottle?" – Said with fond, friendly exasperation.
And he's watching her now, as he heats the liquid for the bottle, and though he has a tenuous affection for and has made a vow to protect the infant Watson, he can honestly say that this whole experience has removed all doubt from his mind – he will never procreate. Not that he had ever had a doubt about that in the first place – he's always known babies are a lot of work. Work that he has no time or desire to do, and has never really admired.
And yet – he decides there is something to be appreciated in the way Molly handles the baby, careful and gentle and sure in her movements. He supposes it's a morbid analogy – not good for saying aloud - but it reminds him of her meticulous skills in the morgue – precise incisions, careful dissections – because though Molly Hooper is occasionally clumsy on her feet and nearly always clumsy with her tongue, she's got an almost artistic grace with her hands, and she's got an agile mind.
And he realizes, not for the first time, that this is who Molly is – doing what needs to be done, when it needs doing, without question or qualm, with kind reassurance and quiet strength and an insightful sort of care. She has never been anything other than what she appears to be, though she can still surprise him with the depth and sincerity of her character. He does deal with the underbelly of the world for a living, after all. She's quite refreshing.
His lips quirk up into a smile as he keeps faced fully towards the liquid meal he's preparing for Madeline, but his attention is focused on Molly, and he recalls an instance, the day they were crime-solving, when she began deducing a skeleton on her own, and it pleasantly surprised him, and he finds himself…wanting her to do it again. Wanting to do that – crime-solving – with her again.
And he frowns, because that's a problem. She was a substitute for John – he was thanking her, to be sure, because he does – care, and he needed her –still does – but…he does not - could not - want her. Even though there was no longer a fiancée, even though Moriarty's return and defeat was long since behind them, he could not – he cannot - want her. He doesn't do want, and he doesn't do love.
"Sherlock!" Molly cries, and the pan is boiling over, and he leaps into action to get it off the stove, and he scolds himself harshly for thinking far too long on the subject of Molly Hooper.
Step 2: Sabotage and Self-Defeat
"How much longer will it take to cure this?
... I don't know nothing about love."
He's tried everything he can think of – hoarding body parts and equipment and experimenting at his flat, reverting to cool manipulation to get what he wants and to push her away, listing her flaws and faults to himself before he enters the lab or morgue (he would never say them to her face – never insult her like that, not ever again – he would cure this feeling on his own, because she'd done far too much for even him to treat her like that); he tries noting past cases where sentiment has always been a chemical defect – but he finds that nothing is working.
Whatever he's got, he's not curing himself by pushing her away. Ignoring her. Avoiding her. And it scares him.
And it's growing in intensity, because for all of his forced indifference toward her, he can't help but deduce her every time he sees her, and he's almost always…interested, to see her, now. And when he stops trying to be an arse, when his comments and deductions return to his relatively kind peri/post-Return phase – it takes her a few days, but she forgives him, like she always does, and this – feeling – this attraction to her being, and to just being with her - it's worse than ever before.
And he wants to shake himself of this, wants to confront himself and cut himself down, pull that warm place out of his torso and store it somewhere else because it's distracting - but he's changed, thanks to John and Mary and Madeline and Molly and he's not sure he can go back, now.
Step 3: Realization
"So come on, come on -
Turn a little faster.
Come on, come on...
Because everybody's after love."
"Come on, come on," Molly mutters, tapping her foot anxiously against the ground, waiting for the centrifuge to stop its whirring. It's been on the fritz, lately, and the last thing she needs today is to have to redo the tests for Greg and Sherlock because - for the first time after Tom, and the whole Moriarty's back from the dead fiasco - she's got a date tonight. It's casual, but she's nervous and she does not want to be late.
"If you're worried about missing your date, I suggest you stop leaning against the counter like that. It adds fifteen percent to the probability that the centrifuge will require manual intervention."
Molly jumps back from the counter like a scalded cat. "Sherlock!" She gasps, then laughs nervously. "How…heh…never mind. You're here for the results, then? It should only be a few more minutes." She smiles at him and tucks a stray piece of hair behind her ear.
Lipstick, concealer, braided chignon, change of clothes in her locker, for tonight – lab coat, over everything – brown eyes – lips – eyes – hands – careful – careful –
Sherlock clears his throat. "You look…good. It…everything…suits you. If you leave as soon as this test is over – save the paperwork for tomorrow – and take a cab straight there, you should be on time."
He's not sure why he's offered her those pieces of information, because it's not his area - dating – but he has a strange urge to ease her discomfort and after all, they're observations and deductions – facts – so he can make an allowance for that. She does look good. And she will be on time, if she leaves straight away.
He doesn't want her to leave.
Why doesn't he want her to leave?
Her lips quirk into a smile as she looks at her feet and smooths her lab coat with the palms of her hands. "Thank you, Sherlock." She meets his eyes and her expression is one of open affection. He's not sure if there's anything else there, anymore. Again – not his area.
And though he doesn't understand why, he's trying desperately to think of an excuse for her to stay, but he can't, without sounding…sentimental.
He finally thinks he has it, and he looks up, but the room is empty, and the results from the centrifuge are neatly placed on the counter in front of him, with a sticky note from Molly.
You were in your mind palace.
I've texted the results to Greg, too.
He touches the note gingerly, absent-mindedly tracing her handwriting with his index finger.
Something inside of him shifts, just a little.
He leaves without looking at the results.
Step 4: Capitulation
"So I said "I'm a snowball running"...
Melting under blue skies
Belting out sunlight, shimmering love."
When you open yourself to it – willing or not – love, Sherlock finds, has something of a snowball effect. Because he's suspected it for a while, but now he's certain – all the signs – admiration, affection, attraction, jealousy – wanting – they all point to the conclusion that he loves Molly Hooper. And once that door is opened – it's an avalanche.
Because although Sherlock Holmes if fickle and ever-changing – sometimes icy cold, sometimes lukewarm, sometimes on fire for all the passion in his blood - Molly Hooper is a constant, steady flame. And the constancy of her kind love and continual presence builds on Sherlock's tiny amorous notion until it is spiraling out of his control.
He sees her – feels her everywhere. On cases below a four; ones he doesn't even leave the flat for - he finds himself comparing female clients to her to keep his mind somewhat engaged – not to her body, because he's never cared much for those – bodies - they're just transport, after all, and useful for experimenting on - but he compares the clients to her mind, and heart, and hands, and he finds everyone else lacking.
Fish and chips remind him of Molly.
The Tube reminds him of Molly.
Cases and chemistry and dead people remind him of Molly.
Yellow – anything yellow – anything bright – any blasted thing – reminds him of Molly.
And though he still tries half-heartedly to resist, he finds himself visiting her more often.
Even his bolt-hole, at her flat. At all hours of the day - and night.
And when he does come at night, he finds himself taking special care not to take special care to stay quiet.
Because – if she wakes up, she will always offer him tea, and now – now – he will always take it.
He will take it for the sake of hearing the muffled, stretching yawn from her bedroom door, which is always cracked open so her beloved cat can come and go.
He will take it for the sake of hearing her bare feet pad down the hallway, and that quiet, pleasant, thrilling murmur of a greeting from somewhere low in her throat, and then, a few moments later, as she sways on her feet, still waking up – the invitation.
And he will take it for the sake of watching her hair swing lazily across her shoulders to veil her face as she moves around the kitchen, barely having to open her bleary eyes because she knows just where everything is and can make this tea practically still asleep, and she is a creature of habit, like him – exactly like him - in this one little thing.
If he were less selfish, perhaps he'd stay away. Perhaps he'd stand off, and watch her continue to date until she found a perfectly matched husband, quirky and smart with a heart as big as hers, but he tells himself that no one will ever be quite as good as Molly, and so no one else deserves her, either.
And he is selfish, because once upon a time, she did want him more than anyone, and a tiny, repressed part of him is still hoping that there is a tiny repressed part in her that still loves him like that.
Because it's a complete and total accident, and he'd never say the words aloud, but Sherlock Holmes thinks he might be in love with Molly Hooper.
Step 5: Processing Data
"Well I didn't mean to do it
But there's no escaping your love."
Sherlock notices her eyeing the gelato shop longingly.
This is the third case she's been on with him this week (Madeline had an ear infection, and to be quite honest, Sherlock was hoping for it…not that he wanted his best friend's baby to be sick…but he did want an excuse to invite Molly crime-solving again).
It has been an extremely enjoyable day – though the cases were all under a seven, he hasn't had this much fun showing off since the days when Moriarty first appeared. They'd fallen into a sort of routine – solving cases, sharing the occasional coffee, but never a meal – a meal seems to imply something more, to Molly – but today – today her laughter is catching and the August air is heavy with an approaching storm and he wants her to keep laughing and to keep smiling.
So he takes her elbow in his hand and steers her briskly to the window, where she looks at him, eyebrows raised over doe-eyes with hesitant expectation and a smile on her lips.
Clearing his throat, he avoids her gaze – always avoiding her gaze, now, because if he let her see him again, she'd know, and he – he's afraid, of her knowing. "Bennett has promised me free gelato for life. I don't take him up on it very often, but I do believe…strawberry– mmm, strawberry. Yes?" And he risks a glance at her face and her smile is wide and she links her arm casually through his as they enter the shop and his heart does something impressive and disconcerting in his chest.
As they walk and talk – she's finishing her gelato and he's regaling her with tales of his adventures in Morocco – one of the tamer stories, when he was on a break from chasing Moriarty's network in the two years he was away – and she's laughing again as she throws her little paper cup and plastic spoon into a rubbish bin, and he stops in his tracks, because she's not particularly well-put together today, but she is beautiful in her Molly-ness – all of her, all of it – every single thing – is beautiful.
And she notices him – standing, frozen, watching her, and she is suddenly self-conscious, and finds herself nervously patting her blouse and khakis and hair, trying to find what's out of place. When she finds nothing wrong, her expression softens, and she looks carefully at him – and then she's seeing him again.
Neither of them notices the clouds darkening the sky.
Step 6: Accepting the Inevitable
"These lines of lightning
Mean we're never alone
Never alone, no no -"
Molly's revelation is interrupted by an astonishingly loud clap of thunder, followed by large raindrops splattering the sidewalk. It's already beginning to smell like damp earth and a gust of cool wind brings heavier rain with it.
Sherlock doesn't seem to notice – of course he's oblivious, even to her quiet call for his attention.
So she slides her hand into his own, and tugs.
They're running now, grasping hands and arms and splashing for a doorway, an overhang, anything to keep them dry, and failing.
They finally give up trying to stay dry and make it to Molly's flat five minutes later.
Step 7: Action and Reaction
"Come on, come on –
Move a little closer."
Molly is shivering, soaked, and Sherlock can tell that all she can think about at the moment is towels and change of clothing and tea. She moves to go get them each a towel to dry off with, and he stops her.
Her fingers are still entwined with his own. Slippery with summer rain, now - but he knows those hands – the callouses from work, the smooth dry warmth – they are reliable, and intelligent, and kind, and graceful, and hers. And they feel very much like they belong in his own. He tightens his grip, gently – firmly – and pulls her closer. Not touching – just close enough to face – each other.
And he brings her hand – still in his – still his – up between them.
He studies her hand – the prominence of her knuckles, the smoothness of her palm, the half-moon cuticles, the neatly trimmed nails, the tiny, tiny scar on her wrist, from Moriarty –
A sudden intake of soft, shaky breath – hers – and he moves his gaze to her face.
She pulls her hand away from his – gently - so, so gently –
And she takes a step closer, closing the distance between them.
There is only the space of their own breath between them, now.
He's always scoffed at the idea of wearing your heart on your sleeve – but now, he feels very much like he's wearing his heart on his face.
Bonus Step: Happily Ever After
"Come on, come on –
...We're accidentally in love."
Sherlock's mobile dings with the text message alert he has set especially for the Scotland Yard in the dim light of his bedroom at Baker Street. He was not asleep, so it only takes him a moment to reach over to the nightstand and press the 'view' button on the text message.
The blue-white glow of the phone illuminates the sleeping form of Molly Hooper beside him. She is half on her stomach, half on her side, curled towards him - and the shadowy, swirly blue darkness of her hair and lashes against the pale luminescence of her face form a silhouette recognizant of The Starry Night.
He hesitates for just a moment before very carefully, very softly brushing his lips against her forehead – and he is no longer surprised to find that physical contact with her still has that same, strange affect – a juxtaposition of both calming and kindling, grounding and lifting, tethering and freeing.
He very quietly, very gently slides out of the bed they have shared for nearly two years now, and on a whim, tucks the sheets back around her pajama-clad shoulders.
She stirs just a bit in her sleep, and mumbles something incoherent to him before falling back into slumber.
He pauses in the doorway before shutting it carefully behind him, pulling on his Belstaff and texting John for the third time to make sure his best friend is fully awake before he arrives at the Watson's flat to drag him on yet another adventure.
Well, there you have it...
Please review, if you're up to it. :)