Note: This is my first story. I hope you enjoy it; if so, I've got ideas for future chapters floating around in my head. Thanks a lot to somethinginthewayful for reading and encouraging me!
The story takes place some time after The Great Game.
Disclaimer: Of course, the characters aren't mine, they belong to Sir ACD, Moffat/Gatiss, BBC, etc.

Molly was leaving St. Bart's. The night had already fallen and the chilled November air stung in her lungs. It was too cold, even for the time of the year; she pulled her coat closer to her body and put up her lapel. I wonder if I'm also looking elegant and nonchalant as I'm doing this, she thought to herself in mid-motion. She suppressed a bitter laugh, shook her head and began walking.

Today, he had come to the lab again after he hadn't been there for almost three weeks.

She didn't even mind his absence that much, she had found to her own surprise. After all, she was able to work, think straight, and behave like a proper grown-up when he wasn't around. Molly Hooper was an intelligent woman, she knew what she expected from life and she was widely interested and also fairly interesting. Why then, couldn't she form a coherent sentence when Sherlock was around? The most offending were the looks she earned from John and Lestrade whenever they observed one of her embarrassing encounters with the dark haired detective. They pitied her! Those bastards.

This behaviour was seriously undermining her authority in the morgue. So therefore, not being around Sherlock had its positive effects. Last week, she had been able to come to a breakthrough in her research on parasites nesting in bodies found in water. Her paper on the topic was to be published in a reviewed and well-established journal. All in all, the career part of her life plan was working out just fine.

As for the private part of said plan, things were not looking brightly. On the one hand, she was, and there was no doubt about that, hopelessly in love with Sherlock Holmes. Despite his treatment of her; despite his arrogance; despite the fact that he was obviously less interested in sexual interactions than a teletubby!

On the other hand, she knew that this love would never be reciprocated and therefore the times in which she didn't see him gave her room to detach a bit and think about her future choices in life. After her success with the parasites, she was on an emotional high and had even thought about agreeing to David's proposition to take her out. David was the brother of her best friend Brenda. Molly had basically been growing up alongside him. He was two years older than her and had just returned from Australia, where he had been living for the last 15 years. He was good looking, tall and blonde. He had dark, warm eyes and an endearing smile. Nothing like Sherlock. Which was great! Or so she tried hard to convince herself.


Today, when she had just finished a report, David had called again and they had chatted away light-heartedly, he was very funny and she giggled into her phone when the door behind her was pushed open. Without a word of greeting, Sherlock had come in and had settled behind the microscope, slipping in a sample he had brought for inspection. His coat was hanging open and he had a bleeding cut on his cheek. Despite his ruffled look, his breathing was steady and he looked concentrated. She looked at him baffled and quickly told David she had to go back to work.

Before she could say anything, John entered the room. He, as well, looked rough, his jacket hanging from his shoulders, his knuckles scratched. They must have just had a bad fight. "Hello Molly", John said friendly as always (and as if the pair of them had just come in for tea and biscuits and not in the hurry of a case), "we're so sorry to disturb you. But…". "I'm sure you are, John", she interrupted and, with a side-look at Sherlock, made her way to the little first aid kit that was stored under one of the desks. "Let me see your hands". As she assembled some pads and alcohol and walked over to John, she congratulated herself on being so calm around Sherlock and not jumping to his service instantly. Maybe, she was really moving on.

She started dabbing off the dirt of John's scratched hands in silence. After a few moments, Sherlock spoke for the first time. "I hope, Doctor Hooper, you have ensured that this one is not an insane, criminal psychopath." He said it calmly without looking up from the microscope.

Molly turned her head and glanced at him sideways, still holding John's bruised hands. "I beg your pardon?" She looked puzzled.

Sherlock finally raised his head, face as pale as ever, an unreadable expression on his features, and clarified "the man with whom you were on the phone as I entered. I hope you do not engage in sexual relations with a maniac intending to kill me again. That would be most unpleasant, seeing as the last one is still an ongoing matter to be dealt with."

She frowned, the now well-established feeling of guilt coming back to tie a knot in her stomach. Molly blamed herself for endangering Sherlock and John by allowing Jim to get so close to them. She shivered at the memory of the villain's hands on her cheek as he had kissed her. But she had never slept with him! And Sherlock was well aware of that fact, she had told him in an embarrassing, drunken and tearful phone call right after what had happened. He had never mentioned that call, and she pretended not to remember.

A sad and uncomfortable expression spread on her face and she felt John's hand softly touching her upper arm. He was angrily gazing at Sherlock, who didn't seem to notice and looked at Molly as if he was waiting for her to react to his statement.

"Molly, he doesn't…", John trailed off. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, of course, John", she cleared her throat, regaining an upright position and trying to remain a steady voice as she turned to Sherlock and said, "I never mentioned the name of my caller and you heard practically nothing of our conversation. Just tell me, I know you want to."

For the fraction of a second, Sherlock's eyebrows raised. He was obviously surprised at her perky reply. But quickly, his expression was plain and almost bored again. "Easy", he stated, "you were chuckling into the phone, which you were holding to your left ear (the one connected to the right half of the brain, where emotions are processed; in 83% of the phone calls I have witnessed, you held the phone to the other ear). At the same time, your right hand was entangled in your hair and touching your neck. You were leaning your head into the lower end of your phone, wanting to get as close to the recipient as possible. Additionally, your lips are of a deeply red colour, even though you are not wearing any lipstick. They have been supplied with extra blood, making them look less abnormally thin and indicating a state of arousal. But, most strikingly…", he suddenly paused, up until this point the words had come out of his mouth in one breathless stream. Molly had absentmindedly put a hand to her lips and watched him eagerly, face blushing.

He turned his head a bit and made the bones in his neck snap loudly. His white shirt shifted and she caught sight of his collarbone. How could his collarbone look sexy?

"Most strikingly," he resumed, "I have been here for several minutes, with a bleeding wound on my face and you have not yet tended to it! Not to mention the lack of coffee…".

Was it Molly's imagination playing a trick on her or did these last sentences sound a bit childish? It was almost as if some wounded pride rested in the exclamations. She was not quite sure how she should react to that. So she simply nodded and said, "Fair enough." She turned to John, hoping for assistance in the matter, but he was rather intensively inspecting the patterns of the tiles on the floor.

Looking at Sherlock again, who had repositioned his head over the microscope, she started "Should I…, I mean, do you want me to…", she gestured to the first aid kit on the table. Without looking at her, he said, "No, I think I will live."

Before Molly could react to the sarcasm in his voice, Sherlock stood up, straightened his clothes and called, "John!" His friend looked up. "We're leaving. I found what I needed to know. Get yourself a nice plaster for your injuries from Doctor Hooper and then call Mycroft." With genteel steps, he made his way to the door, his companion rising to follow him. "Tell him that the Corgi was, contrary to my first belief, not poisoned but died of natural causes. And," he added with a sheepish grin, "for the sake of familiar peace, apologise for the row we caused over this enormous hat we took from the guard." John shook his head and Sherlock continued, "come on, John, you know as well as I do that the skull in the apartment will look fabulous with the black fur!"

With that, Sherlock Holmes opened the door for his friend. Molly saw John take his phone out of his jacket and begin to go through his contacts as he left the room. "Bye, Molly, thanks for your help and sorry for the disturbance", he called as he went. Sherlock turned to leave as well, but stopped in his motion and turned back to look her in the eyes, now serious again. "Do be careful with this man, Molly. There is no need for you to get hurt again." For a short moment, his eyes rested on her as they stood there, facing each other. She swallowed visibly and nodded.

Did he look concerned? No, that wasn't possible. She'd probably misread his gaze. Slightly nodding back at her, his hand shot upwards to his lapel as he prepared himself for the cold weather outside. Without another word he turned and left.

Molly had watched the spot where he had just stood for a bit, then turned to the pads and the bottle of alcohol on the table. As she rummaged to put everything away, her mobile phone beeped quietly. It was a text message from Sherlock.

I am fairly sure he is not a criminal, though. Brenda would have noticed something.
- SH

She did not have the faintest idea how he could have known but was not surprised. There she was. Left alone after being mentally swept off her feet by the brilliant Sherlock. Again. Before she could think about their short conversation, her phone rang. It was a colleague from upstairs informing her about a body that was on its way to the morgue.


Now, on her way home, she found herself wondering about Sherlock again. He always seemed so straightforward. But nonetheless, his demeanour sometimes presented itself as a riddle to Molly. She had been sure that he did not care for her in the slightest. So, she could not understand why he would seem hurt when she ceased her admiring behaviour towards him. After several tries to look at the situation from different angles, she decided that this could be explained by his vanity. Sherlock obviously liked to be admired.

What was more puzzling was what he had said just before he had left the lab. It was an awkwardly private moment, since he had waited for John to leave before turning to her. Why had he said this? And why was he looking so good, almost gentle, whilst saying it?

There went her plans on moving on. And living a happy, settled life, as it were.

Molly's mobile beeped again. Another text message.

So what do you say, dinner on Friday? - David x

That's it. Please review and tell me what you thought of it. Critique is always welcome. As said above, I have several ideas and for a bigger storyline.