I take it back. I can no longer see the light at the end of this story- it has been turned off until further notice.

But I'm forcing myself to stick to an update rotation now. So yes.

Irene and Molly started meeting for tea once a week.

Perhaps the reason they got along so well was because they were so completely different, in physical features and personalities. Both were beautiful and brilliant, and any man walking by might stop and take a second look at them in a shop or a restaurant, but Irene's features were angular and sharp, all dark hair and cool blue eyes. Molly had a softer sort of beauty, with rounded features and loose, long hair that framed her face. While Irene was assertive, Molly preferred more subtle methods and gestures, and even their clothing styles differed- polished and professional versus loose and semi-casual.

The one tie they did have? Sherlock.

"Did you ever think that your life would have been completely different if we weren't involved in all this?" Molly asked one day, stirring milk into her tea.

"All the time." Irene admitted. "I try not to think about it, though. It just makes things harder. And it's not really Sherlock's fault my life took a turn." Molly only nodded. She knew better than to ask too many questions of Irene by now.

"Sometimes people pass me on the street- and I don't know if they know me from the hospital, or if they've seen my picture or what, but… they just look so sad. They recognize me and then they look at me like I'm this little lost kitten, even after two years." Molly shook her head with a sigh, hair flopping over her shoulder.

"You're definitely not a lost kitten." Irene drained her cup, sitting it back on the saucer with a clink. "That's the problem with people like him. They're all the same, in some way or another- they suck everyone else into their life, and their problems, and their schemes, and everything is so bright and beautiful for a while, but… sooner or later you just get burned." The words sounded bitter, even to her. She sounded just like her mother- a bitter old insane woman with a gun in her hand, exactly the thing she didn't want to become. Molly looked at her strangely for a second, gathering her words.

"You know… not everyone is like that. I mean, Sherlock is definitely someone you need to watch out for, but I think you could swing him." She said, smiling softly.

"And you couldn't?"

"I can't keep up with him." Molly laughed, but soon became serious again. "And sometimes he says things… just horrible things without even thinking about it, and I don't think I could do that. But I mean, you've been living with him for this long- I guess you know better than I do."

Sherlock was definitely not a sensitive person. He was one to take things as he saw them, and not to bother with people's feelings. Sometimes Irene wanted to simply kill him herself for his reserved, callous manner, but other times she wanted to kiss him. Their relationship was a complicated one to say the least- Irene wasn't one to show affection conventionally, and Sherlock wasn't one to talk about it. The stage was set, but they had yet to act.

"Sherlock?" Irene called, pulling the door shut behind her. No response. Typical.

She heard papers shuffling in the kitchen, however, so she made her way towards the sound. He was drowning in police reports again, trying to find something to occupy his time, but Irene had strictly forbidden doing anything that might draw attention to him, especially police work on public cases. It was just as well, since he hadn't come upon an interesting case since the one that Molly had provided the lab work for.

"How's Molly?" he asked. Irene almost laughed. She didn't care if he knew where she was going, but she probably should have suspected that he knew.

"She's fine. Doing really well, actually." She sat in the chair beside him, beginning to shuffle through the papers herself. "Better than you are, I see."

"I'm perfectly fine." Sherlock seemed calm, but Irene had known him long enough to pick up on his little twitches and slight movements. The man was practically driving himself insane.

"Arm." Irene held out her hand expectantly, like a mother waiting for her son to hand over the twig behind his back. Sherlock groaned and extended his forearm. She rolled up the sleeve of his dressing gown to see that there was a nicotine patch on his arm, as expected. Thankfully it was only one this time, but she had to get him off of these things. However much of a genius he might be, Sherlock was apparently not smart enough to realize that these things were not doing his health any favors.

"It's not much longer now." She said, hoping it might help. "You're on the downhill stretch, remember?"

"It was easier when we were working." He muttered, giving up on the papers. Irene started sorting them out into stacks- one for shredding and one for papers he would probably want to take another look at in the future.

"You've gone this long without driving yourself completely mad. It should be better from here on out, honey." Irene kissed his cheek quickly, taking off the first stack of papers. She didn't look over her shoulder, but she knew that he was blushing. He always blushed.

Sherlock was almost like a child in an adult's body sometimes. He was an utter genius, and she honestly considered his mind one of the most fascinating and appealing aspects of his personality, but… it was a lot like babysitting. He'd matured quite a bit during their time together, but she still had to keep an eye on him sometimes.

Every few days she went out to check on John, and he would never fail to ask for an update. He was thinking of proposing to Mary, and the two seemed to be absolutely perfect for each other. She didn't even mind hearing about his escapades with Sherlock, and would listen to him tell war stories until his throat was raw. She was kind and caring, and just the woman that he needed after so much time with Sherlock. For her part, she was funny, and he never got tired of seeing her smile or listening to her plans for the future. It made Irene both intensely happy and intensely jealous.

When she returned to the kitchen, he was still fidgeting.

"Sherlock, you need to relax." She sighed, sliding up behind him.

"How on earth am I supposed to do that?"

Oh, now he was asking for it.

The next morning Irene rolled over, grinning like a cat, to find Sherlock sound asleep on the bed beside her.

Oh, he'd be relaxed for a while now. Her methods tended to wear out even the most energetic sort.