Sherlock studied the blood specimen under the microscope. Every few seconds he would glance up and watch her. She moved lightly and easily around the room. It was like she was there, but she wasn't. He liked that. He liked that she was so quiet. She didn't have to talk, or break the silence, especially when she knew that he was thinking or working. He looked blankly at his work again. He wasn't really doing anything in particular. He didn't have a case on, nor did it look like there would be one any time soon. She was pretty much the only reason he was there. He scowled at himself. What had got into him? He never thought things like that. Except since she saved him.
He hadn't realised that he had gone back to staring until she looked to him and he snapped his eyes back down. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her frown momentarily and then supress a smile. She was adorable. No. No, she wasn't. She was Molly Hooper. She hadn't changed. She approached him and set the analysis results down beside the microscope without a word. She didn't expect any thanks as she turned away and it didn't cross his mind that he should give her some. Without looking he took the paper in his hand. He glanced at it, approved silently, and returned it to its previous place.
He stole another look at her. She was sorting through tests tubes and phials that he'd used, tipping the contents down the sink and placing them in the washer. She stopped and stared intently at the tray in front of her. Sherlock frowned. She struggled a little, as if fighting an internal confliction. It passed and she carried on tidying up after him. He went back to his work reluctantly.
Things had been quiet since he had "returned from the dead". Very few people came to him with cases, Lestrade rarely allowed him to help out with the police and John had a job at a nearby surgery. Things were very quiet. Molly was all he really had now. She had helped him fake his death and she had helped him prove that Moriarty was real. She had housed him, fed him, put up with his strops and supported him throughout his drug relapse. He couldn't have done it without her. And he hadn't really thanked her – not yet. She didn't realise how much she meant to him and how his views of her had changed.
Truth be told, he'd fallen in love with her.
He shook his head in frustration. He hated himself for it. It was so distracting. She was so distracting. Yet, in some odd way it was fascinating. He had taken to recording his thoughts regarding her in a notebook and studying them at length, but he always reached the same conclusion – he liked her. That was what he was doing at the lab when he had no case on. The blood sample he was studying was his and the results Molly had given him from the computer analysis showed him what he had expected to see – increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. It wasn't love, it was science.
Sherlock stood, threw the blood sample away and walked over to Molly.
"Your morning shift finished twenty minutes ago." He stated plainly. She blushed and stammered, her eyes flitting up and down from his face to his lapel.
"I – I know, I just – I thought you might like some company." She said unsurely. He studied her face. She seemed… embarrassed? Shy? Uncomfortable? He was useless with emotions. He hadn't changed that much. He took a deep breath.
"I was just going to get some coffee. Care to join me?" He asked, adding his best flirtatious smile.
"Oh – I – yes, of course." She said happily, a bright smile breaking across her face. She picked her cardigan from the back of the door and swapped it with her lab coat. Together they made their way to the canteen and he paid for her drink.
They sat in silence and he watched her sip carefully at her hot tea. She looked uncomfortable, like she knew something about him that made her embarrassed. He retraced his steps over the last fifty-six hours which they had spent apart. He could think of nothing that had changed. She glanced up at him and then down at her cup. She fiddled with her fingers and he waited for her. In the end it became too much for her and she broke the awkward silence.
"That – that blood sample you were looking at. Whose was it?"
Sherlock shifted in his chair. Of course. He replied honestly.
"Oh, well…" She coughed in embarrassment. He knew she'd noticed and so he waited for her to speak again, "Very high dopamine levels. Lots of serotonin, too."
"And what would you deduce from that?" He asked calmly. She pursed her lips, like she always did, and smiled nervously.
"I would say stress or use of cocaine or, um, sexual attraction." Sherlock nodded in response.
"Well, I would rule out the first one because you don't have any cases on and you don't seem too tense." She continued, "And I would probably rule out the second one too, if you're clean-"
"Which I am."
"So, that leaves the last one, which means that I've missed something because that doesn't really make sense." She finished.
"Doesn't it?" He asked plainly. She looked up at him.
"Considering the various compromising scenarios my unconscious mind has been playing out recently, I would say that it makes perfect sense." Molly stared at him as she blushed.
"Compromising scenarios?" She asked timidly, "Of – of who?"
Sherlock watched her and was about to answer when their conversation was interrupted.
"Sherlock?" They both whipped around to see John making his was over to them. He greeted Molly briefly.
"John." The detective replied, unable to keep the annoyance from his tone, "I thought you were at the surgery."
"I get Fridays off, remember? We were going to take those case reports to Lestrade."
"You can tell him that I'm fine and I'm clean." John looked slightly irritated that the detective had seen through his ruse.
"Just come on, will you."
The detective gave in.
"Fine." The conversation between him and Molly had become awkward anyway. They could start on a new leaf in the afternoon.
"Thanks again for the tea." She said as he stood up and buttoned up his coat. He nodded blankly; he was keen that John should remain unsuspicious.
"I'll be back this afternoon. There's one more test I want to run before I present my findings."
"I never thanked you." That was how he greeted her several hours later. Molly jumped out of her skin, and her keys jumped out of her hand. He caught them before they hit the floor and passed them back to her.
"Did you follow me all the way home?" She asked accusingly, taking the keys from his hand and adjusting the shoulder strap of her rucksack. Before he could reply – not that he intended to – his statement registered with her and she continued, "Thanked me for what?"
"For everything that you did for me."
"You don't have to thank me." She said dismissively, "I'm your friend. Helping is what friends do."
"But I want to thank you." He insisted. She smiled.