Molly finally makes a real appearance!
Note on Americanisms: There are a number of Americanisms in these fics. I've tried to keep them out of dialogue, but as my series is set in the US I hope they aren't too jarring as long as John and Sherlock aren't saying them
(Although John might have picked a few up from living here for a while!)
It doesn't take John long to get used to the Oklahoma winters. Harry flies in once for Christmas, and complains every day about the biting cold. Sure, he's a little surprised to see children still doggedly attending school in snowdrifts that would send London in hysterics, and the vicious ice storms are a bit more than he's accustomed to, but winter he can stand with a thick coat and chains on his tires.
It's the American summers that get to him. He's resolved to never grumble about the rain in England again, if only he can get some relief from this blasted heat.
The mercury has passed 100°F for the third day in a row, and the AC in his building has been making worrying clanking noises for days. John closes all of the blinds and strips down to his boxers and a Sooners tank he stole from Bill ages ago.
Even Sherlock, who shows up about midday, has dressed for the weather. His usual button-down is exchanged for a T-shirt, though he still refuses to wear anything other than long trousers.
The air conditioning, unfortunately, takes Sherlock's arrival as the cue to shut down with a rattling wheeze.
"Excellent," Sherlock says brightly. "Now there's no reason for you to refuse to take me to the university."
John just sighs and goes to change into something more presentable.
"You know there's an excessive heat warning on, right?" he asks Sherlock outside of the National Weather Center.
Sherlock is busy with his sling psychrometer, whirling it around in different places on the baking parking lot and muttering about humidity and dew point.
"You can go in, if you want," Sherlock says, inspecting the reading on his instrument.
"And leave you out here to get heat stroke?"
He rolls his eyes and starts swinging the psychrometer around again.
The air is heavy and there's a strong smell of melting asphalt. A cicada whirrs in a tree under the hazy white sky.
"You know, it was barely seventy in London today," John says. "I checked on the internet this morning."
"Ugh, good weather. Good weather's boring."
John can't really argue with that.
"Sherlock, you're getting sunburnt. Let's go inside; you can use the NWC's readings."
Sherlock must be hotter than he's willing to admit, because it's not long before he agrees to trade his measurements for the cooler air inside the Weather Center building.
"I'm getting something to drink, you want anything?"
Sherlock flaps a hand and heads for the lift. "Whatever you're having."
John buys himself a smoothie at the Flying Cow Café, and orders Sherlock the pinkest one on the menu.
"Oh!" someone says behind him. "You're – Sherlock's friend, right?"
It's Molly Hooper, clutching a water bottle and looking hopeful.
"Yes, It's John - John Watson"
"Is he here?"
Molly, John has come to understand, has an enormous futile crush on Sherlock that's stood up to every attempt to deflect her attentions to someone else.
"Up in his usual lab, yeah."
"Oh," she says again, blushing a little.
"I'm just taking him this." He holds up the smoothie.
"I might, um, come up and say hello in a few minutes." She looks anywhere but at him.
"Yeah, I'll just go warn- uh, tell Sherlock that you said hi." John escapes, smoothies in hand.
"I saw your girlfriend in the café," he says to Sherlock when he finds him.
"My...?" Sherlock looks up from the complicated instrument in front of him. "Oh, Molly?"
"Yeah, she said she might come up and say hi."
"Oh, god," Sherlock closes his eyes. "She keeps trying to invite me to go swimming at her sister's house."
"So? I think a bit of a swim sounds pretty good in this weather."
"I do not swim, John." He crosses his arms and looks ready to launch into a speech about just why he finds it beneath his dignity when Molly pokes her head into the room.
"Hey," she says, bright red. "Bit hot today, isn't it?"
"Yes," Sherlock says, pretending to be engrossed in studying his machine.
"You know, I'm housesitting for my sister this week and she's got a pool." Molly takes a deep breath. "Did you want to maybe come over?" She squeaks the last word.
"-Would love to," John interrupts. "I hope you don't mind if I tag along? My air's out, you see."
"Oh!" she says. "That's terrible! Of course you can."
"John-" Sherlock starts, eyes wide.
"Sherlock has my address, I think," She looks even redder, if that's possible. "Um. I was about to go home, so I'll just go set up and you can come over when you're done?"
"That sounds great, Molly, thanks."
"John," Sherlock says when she leaves.
"It wouldn't hurt you to socialize with someone who's not me!"
"Also," John says. "It's a hundred degrees outside and my air's broken. Unless you're going to fix it for me-"
"Forget I said that. We're going, Sherlock. It'll be fun."
"Fun," Sherlock mutters darkly.
Molly looks shy but cute in a polka-dotted bathing suit and a pair of shorts.
"So this is your sister's place?" John asks as she hands him a lemonade.
"Yeah, she's in California until next month. I've got to watch her cats." She gives Sherlock a glass. "I bring my Toby over to play with them sometimes."
John catches Sherlock rolling his eyes and frowns at him.
"How is your thesis, Molly?" Sherlock asks loudly, making a face at John.
"Oh, not bad. Dr. Gregson gave me his lightning data from last year, which has really helped."
"How interesting You'll have to let me see it."
She ducks her head, smiling. "Of course."
No amount of coaxing can convince Sherlock to get in the water, although he does eventually roll up the legs of his trousers and stick his feet in.
"At least there's some clouds, now," John says, contentedly floating on his back.
Molly drifts past on a pink raft. "I think it's supposed to rain tomorrow."
"Quarter of an inch. Should start at about 1:25 pm," Sherlock calls, kicking water at John.
"Nobody likes a show-off!"
"And yet you complain when the Weather Channel gets the forecast wrong," he splashes John again. "You never make up your mind."
They stay until the sun starts going down, casting long shadows across the neighborhood. John swats a mosquito whining past his ear.
Molly shifts from foot to foot in the grass, clutching a towel around herself. "If your AC's still out tomorrow, you can both come over again, if you want."
John smiles at her. "That's really kind of you, Molly, thanks."
Sherlock has wandered over to some blue-green hydrangeas and seems to be enticing lightning bugs into landing on his arm.
Molly's eyes flick over to him and she laughs nervously. "It's nice to have company."
"Thanks again for inviting us," John says. "I'd better get Sherlock back before he decides to take home every bug in the state."
"Take care." She twirls a wet strand of hair around a finger. "Bye, Sherlock."
Sherlock mumbles something incomprehensible and hurries to John's car.
John's air conditioning is still broken, so he stays the night at Sherlock's little flat. The building is mostly occupied by college students, and even in the summer there's a faint thrum of bass from someone's room echoing through the halls.
"Are you sleeping tonight?" he asks, moving a haphazard stack of charts off of the couch.
"No, you can have the bed if you want," Sherlock says, eyes glued to his laptop.
"John," Sherlock gives him a look. "Do I offer things to be polite?"
"Guess not. Wait-" John has a sudden vision of a bony macabre face grinning at him the last time he was here. "You haven't still got the skull in there?"
Sherlock turns back to his computer. "Sleep tight."
(A firefly winks at him from the skull's eye socket until he falls asleep.)