Disclaimer: All characters are property of ACD, Marvelous Mark Gatiss, Steven "The Grand Moff" Moffat, the BBC, et al. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: How much do I love the fact that Gatiss and Moffat gave Sherlock his very own fangirl? But sometimes fangirls need a bit of attention, too.


Paper Fortunes

By Alice Day


CHAPTER ONE

Over the remains of her lemon chicken and steamed rice, Molly Hooper cracked open her fortune cookie and pulled out the oil-spotted slip of paper from its pastry shell. Absently, she munched on the crisp biscuit as she read the gem of wisdom provided by the Golden Lotus Fortune Cookie Factory.

You will find yourself dancing in an unexpected place with a handsome man.

Ha, she thought, cramming the other half of the cookie in her mouth. Like that's ever going to happen.

It wasn't going to happen because firstly, she didn't dance. Well, she could - Mum insisted on those ballroom lessons the summer after her A-levels, and she'd managed to get through the entire course without breaking anyone's toes. But nobody ever took her out dancing, probably because of the faint smell of formaldehyde and rot that clung to her no matter how hard she scrubbed or how many bottles of lemon juice she dumped over her head in the shower. Something about the smell of death did seem to put off the fellas.

Secondly, she never went anywhere unexpectedly. Her life was set in a pattern (or a rut, if she had to be ruthlessly truthful) - she got up, went to work, took a tae bo class on Wednesdays, went to the shops on Thursdays, indulged in an occasional trip to the pub with some of the other hospital staff on Fridays, and spent the other nights with Toby and the contents of her DVR.

Thirdly, the handsome man. She washed down the cookie with a sip of green tea, absently noting that it was almost too cool to drink now. She'd had hopes for Jim from IT, until he turned out to be a psychopathic criminal who liked to strap people into Semtex vests and blow them up. He'd claimed to have a really bad sense of smell due to his allergies, and yet she remembered the way his nose had wrinkled the first and only time he'd leaned in to kiss her. That should have tipped me off right there.

And now he was gone God knows where, so there was only one handsome man in her life, and she didn't think he was ever going to dance with her unless she had a really interesting body part tied around her neck. Not to mention there was his flatmate, the ex-Army doctor with the sandy hair and the pointy nose. In her heart of hearts, she suspected that Sherlock Holmes didn't particularly know which side of the fence he landed on, but didn't care as long as that side included John Watson.

So, 0 for 3. Thank you ever so much, Golden Lotus Fortune Cookie Factory. Sighing, she screwed the fortune into a tiny ball and tossed it into the remains of her lemon chicken, then grabbed her purse. Time to get back to Barts and the rest of her boring, mundane, thoroughly uninteresting life.

###

Thwack.

Molly's shoulders twitched a bit every time the broom handle came down on the corpse. She couldn't help it.

Thwack. Thwack.

Apparently the size and shape of the welts could crack an art forgery case. At least that's what Sherlock said when he requisitioned a body.

Thwack.

He didn't have authorization, as usual. And as usual, he'd said something observant and casually flattering (this afternoon, it was how the color of her blouse complimented her eyes), and she'd blushed on cue and pulled the body closest to his guidelines out from the cooling drawer, transferring it to a steel gurney for his use.

"Excellent," he murmured, before pulling a sawed-off length of broom handle from God knows where and whaling away at the corpse like he was beating a carpet. Molly smiled weakly and twitched all the way back to her lab.

Pathetic.

She was preparing a set of liver tissue slides when Sherlock burst into the lab, followed as usual by John. "I don't see why you can't come with me," he flung over his shoulder at his flatmate.

"Sherlock, it's a black tie affair," John said reasonably. "It's bad enough that people think we're - you know."

"So people talk. Why does that bother you so much?" Sherlock glanced at Molly. "I'm done," he said with poor grace.

"Thank you," John prodded. Looking pained, Sherlock grunted something that sounded like agreement.

"You're welcome," Molly said, wondering what it must be like to have Sherlock Holmes want you to go somewhere with him. She took a deep breath, trying to sound neutral yet friendly. "Er, what affair are you two going to?"

"We're not," John said firmly. "He is."

"We are," Sherlock said, just as firm. "The Great Ormond Street Hospital is holding a fundraising ball at the Tate this weekend, and I need to attend it as part of this case."

John leaned against a lab table, giving his flatmate a long-suffering look. "It's called going stag, Sherlock."

"It's called sticking out like a sore thumb, John."

The ex-Army doctor just rolled his eyes. "And swanning around with me is going to help you fade into the woodwork how?" he asked, sounding somewhere between irritated and amused. "What you need is a date, ideally one with a uterus. Talk to Mycroft - I'm sure he'd be happy to send his PA with you."

Sherlock gave him a filthy look. "I'd rather take Donovan, thank you."

Molly stood still, not daring to breathe. Sherlock. Needed. A date. "Um-"

"So take Donovan," John said, trying not to smirk and failing horribly. "If nothing else, it'll have Anderson frothing at the mouth for a week."

"Er-"

"I suspect it would take a direct order from Lestrade to get the good sergeant to appear anywhere in public with me," Sherlock said with a sniff. "Plus I don't particularly enjoy the thought of her trailing around after me all night muttering 'Freak' under her breath. And in any case, I can't full stop - previous history."

"I can go."

John's jaw dropped a fraction in shock, then he crowed, "Oh, God - you dated her, didn't you? I knew there had to be a reason why she's always so pissed off at you!"

Sherlock jammed his hands in his coat pockets, looking mulish. "I hardly call one drink at a pub a date," he growled. "And it's not my fault that she got the wrong idea - Lestrade wanted me to develop 'better communications' with his staff. How she thought that was an invitation to try and lick my tonsils, I'll never know-"

"I can go!" Molly shouted, then cringed.

"Hmm." Sherlock turned, giving her a vague look. "What?"

"I can go," she croaked, then cleared her throat. "With you, to the ball. As your date. If you like. Um."

The detective's nostrils flared. Before he could say anything, however, John leapt in with, "That's a great idea!" He ignored Sherlock's imperious glare, forging on. "I mean, Molly knows your work methods, and she could be - a separate set of eyes and ears on the floor. Or something."

The doctor gave her a huge, slightly desperate smile that screamed Oh God I really don't want to go. She suspected her answering smile was just as desperate and screamed exactly the opposite.

"Y-yes. I can be your eyes and ears," she echoed. Oh, please, please, just this once, give me a chance.

"I have a perfectly functional set of eyes and ears already, thank you," Sherlock said huffily. To her surprise, however, he walked right up to her, completely oblivious of personal space, and studied her with an intensity that was both unnerving and insanely sexy. "Then again, I suppose you do have a uterus," he said, flicking John a dark look. "Do you have something appropriate to wear?"

OhmyGodohmyGod he's asking me ohmyGod. "Of course," she trilled, mentally riffling through her wardrobe of work clothes, jumpers, t-shirts with cute sayings, and the mauve dress with the frills that only came out for dates. "I have just the thing, haha."

His expression clearly said he didn't believe her. "Huh. Well, needs must, I suppose. I'll text you the details. Come on, John - we need to see a man about a paper press."

He swept out of the lab, long coat swirling in his wake like a cape. John gave her a grateful thumbs up before following.

Molly just stood there, stunned. I'm going on a date. With Sherlock Holmes.

Really, nobody in their right mind could blame her for twirling around and squeeing just the tiniest bit.

###

The thought kept drifting through her mind, making her smile giddily all afternoon. Slicing up a chunk of brain for a histology slide (I'm going on a date with Sherlock), transferring a mangled accident victim from a paramedic gurney and sliding her into a cooling drawer (we're going to a ball), mopping up a pool of body fluids (I'll get to dance with him). It was all wonderful. After work, Molly drifted to her tae bo class in a candy-colored daze. She wanted to sing at the top of her lungs, jump through puddles, do all the wonderful movie clich├ęs that the Girl got to experience when she finally snagged a date with the Boy. I'll never doubt a fortune cookie again, she thought as she went into the changing room and donned ratty grey sweatpants and a faded pink t-shirt, then went to her usual punching bag at the back of the classroom. This weekend, I'll be dancing in an unexpected place with a handsome man.

She caught a reflection of herself in the changing room mirror, and ice-cold reality blew the candy-colored clouds straight to hell. I'm going to a ball, a black tie affair, with Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, who always looks like he just stepped out of GQ. And the nicest thing I have is a frilly mauve dress from Marks and Sparks.

Oh, bollocks.

She had no idea what to wear to a ball - why in God's name did she trill, "I have just the thing"? And judging from Sherlock's usual couture, there was no way she could afford something in his price range - the man wore Dolce shirts, for God's sake, and that coat had to cost well over a thousand quid. She was going to look like an utter and complete idiot.

"Good Lord, Mols, what's wrong?"

Startled, Molly realized she wasn't alone. "Oh, hullo, Shanda," she breathed, trying to smile. "It's, er, nothing. Really."

"Rubbish, darling," the woman at the next punching bag announced. "It's that dishy detective, isn't it? What happened - did he get married? Go gay? Get married to his gay lover?"

Molly fidgeted. Dr. Shanda MacMahon was everything she wasn't - tall, spectacularly beautiful, with skin the color of bitter chocolate and huge doe eyes that stopped men dead in their tracks. She'd worked as a model for a couple of years before punching a photographer ("Stupid arse told me I was too fat for his shoot - I was 5'10" and eight bloody stone, darling," she said once when they'd gone out for drinks. "So I broke his nose, went out and found a chip shop, and haven't looked back"). Now, she was finishing her psych residency at Barts with an eye towards specializing in eating disorders, and was the closest thing Molly had to a BFF.

But she wouldn't understand - she had men dripping off her everywhere she went. And this was Molly's one chance to really show Sherlock Holmes what he was missing. "Come on, tell the doctor what's wrong," Shanda continued persuasively.

Molly weakly punched the tae bo bag. "He asked me to go to a fundraising ball with him."

One elegant eyebrow went up. "And that's what's got you looking like your family died? I thought you'd be dancing through the streets."

"I would, if I had anything decent to wear," Molly almost wailed, hitting the bag again. "I don't even know what you wear to a ball. And he's posh and wears the best clothes, and all I have is this stupid dress with ruffles, and I'm going to look like a prat, I just know it."

Shanda blinked at that, then gave her a very patient smile. "Darling, you do realize you're talking to an ex-model, yes?"

"Well, yes-" Molly's eyes went wide. "Oh, God. Shanda, would you help me pick out a dress? Please, I'll buy you dinner, I'll buy you a bottle, anything you want, just help!"

"Of course I'll help - anything to get you the dishy detective," the doctor said with a beaming smile. "Meet me in the lobby tomorrow night after work - I have an idea."