This was originally intended to fill a prompt on the Sherlolly meme, about exchanging kisses for favors at Barts but the story went off in another direction.
"I need to see the tox screen of the body from Chelsea, the one missing half its face, and you've neglected to unlock the lab so I'll need you to pop over there and use your key card."
The commanding stream of words caught Molly unaware, reviewing the sheet of info that accompanied the newly arrived corpse of Mrs. Rosa Engel. Startled, the pathologist jumped back and her pen clattered to the floor. Dropping to a knee, she scooped up the pen and spun around to find the source of the impatient voice.
It was him, of course. He moved like a cat, sneaking into the morgue at night when she was working alone and there were no coworkers to argue about his dubious access.
Fantastic, she thought. Behind on the autopsies already and I've got heaps of work to do. Didn't blow-dry my hair or wear any makeup and I look like a straggly mess. Of course he showed up.
Despite her irritation, Molly's body warmed as it always did when their eyes met. His false death and resurrection, and everything that had happened in between, hadn't altered the effect he had on her.
Sherlock Holmes beamed down at her, his angular face glowing with the excitement of a new case. Without even thinking, she found herself reaching for the chart of tox screen results on the stainless steel counter. She passed them over, and Sherlock flipped through the pages hurriedly, his eyes barely touching the page before he moved onto the next.
Dimples formed in her cheeks, and Molly stuffed her hands into her pockets to hide her fidgeting fingers. His curls were damp from the rain, and the shine made her want to play with his hair even more than usual. His loosely tied scarf hung low, exposing the white column of his throat.
Sherlock's forehead wrinkled as he glanced back at her. "The door?"
"The…sorry? What do you mean?" Molly found herself thinking about how the midnight blue of his long coat made his neck seem even paler and if she stood on her tiptoes, she would be able to nibble right-
"The lock, Molly. Open the lab." Annoyance shaded the detective's words. He tossed the clipboard back onto the counter and stared down at Molly.
"Oh! Um, yes. Actually the medical students need the facility. Tonight's the only time available this week for them," she explained, picking up the cup of honeyed tea on her desk to keep her hands busy. "I could let you in in twenty minutes or so. They'll be there any moment for a quick look at the new equipment, but if you come back in a half hour, it should be no problem." She smiled and took a sip from the mug, stifling the urge to hand her key card over to him.
Sherlock's face shifted into a flawless pout. He stepped forward until he was close enough for Molly to smell his shampoo and the expensive wool of his coat.
"It's terribly important." His eyebrows rose. "Just a few quick tests, Molly." He capped his plea with an unconvincing but gorgeous smile.
Normally, she wasn't able to resist him when he made his demands. It was the way his gaze settled on her, the weight of his focused blue eyes that made her feel pinned to the wall like a butterfly for his scrutiny. The direct shrewdness had captured Molly from the first. He only smiled when he wanted something from her, she knew, but the intelligence and energy in his eyes, and his attention entirely zeroed in on her at that moment was honest. It was enough to make her overlook minor rule infractions and poor manners.
But not tonight.
Molly summoned her resolve and shook her head. "I can't, really, I'm sorry. They need the space. And let's be honest, it's never just a few minutes, is it." She laughed to soften the rebuke, but his obnoxious persistence was grating on her. She might be depressingly in love with him, but some days, she didn't like him very much. She covered her eyes with her hand, feeling a headache coming on.
John being away on his honeymoon has him out of sorts, and it's only been five days. Is he going to be whiny for the next two weeks? This might be worse than when he quit smoking again. John and Mary are off having all kinds of sex and I'm stuck here with Sherlock bossing me around and being a right shit and it's not bloody fair.
Taking Molly's quietness for weakening, Sherlock stepped in closer and adjusted his tactic. "Since you've a headache, I'll just take the card and unlock it myself and bring it back later."
I'll never see the damned thing again! Oh you absolute prick, she thought.
"For God's sake, Sherlock!" Molly burst out. "You could at least kiss me before you try to fuckme over!"
Sherlock's practiced pout dropped and he looked puzzled. Molly clapped a hand over her mouth, embarrassed she'd cursed so loudly at work. He watched her face with interest, and then his furrowed brow smoothed over in sudden realization.
"What?" Molly asked, suspicious.
"I see. That is a more expedient arrangement. Fine then."
Without preamble, Sherlock bent his head and pressed his full lips against hers briefly. He straightened and frowned at Molly's shocked face.
She stared wide-eyed, and her chest rose and fell quickly.
She touched her bottom lip. "What was that?"
"You wanted a kiss before unlocking the door. Can you open it now?" His face brightened.
"You want me to…for a kiss? That's really…strange and not nice, actually."
Sherlock huffed impatiently. "You won't do it?"
"Well, not for a lousy kiss like that," she replied, breaking into a smile. The detective wrinkled his nose and looked righteously offended. Molly giggled and tore the scarf from his neck. She tossed it onto the steel counter, and dragged Sherlock down to her.
Her hands wrapped around his neck, he allowed himself to be pulled tight against her, his head tilted and his unnerving eyes locked on hers. There was the barest heartbeat of hesitation as his mouth hovered over hers, their breath mingling, and then their lips came together firmly.
He surprised her by snaking his arms around her waist under her lab coat, and pressing her back into the counter, trapping her between it and his body. His thigh settled between her legs and his hands stroked the small of her back, over her thin shirt.
She nipped at his full bottom lip, and his mouth opened obligingly. It certainly wasn't his first kiss, she mused as he flicked his tongue against hers and found a natural rhythm moving with Molly. She wasted no time in sinking her hands into his curls, feeling the springiness in his rain-damp hair. His mouth tasted like mint and a slight trace of smoke, and she smiled against his lips, knowing he'd been bad.
He's been sneaking cigarettes with John away but I won't tell, she thought. The dry smoky flavor reminded her of fevered kissing in her boyfriend's car at uni. He drew a hand from around her waist and cupped her cheek as their lips brushed against each other over and over. His hand slid back to thread through her hair as he kissed her harder. Her scalp tingled and warmed as he tugged on the strands. Molly bit his lip again to stifle her own moan. She was afraid to speak and break whatever spell had driven him to take her mouth so easily and so completely. She'd meant to just steal a quick kiss and push him into running away or being ashamed of his bossiness after all she'd done to save his life, but she'd lost control. The room was silent now but their sound of steadily faster breathing. When she opened her eyes mid-kiss, she saw that his eyes were slightly open as well, but sleepy and hazy in a way she'd never seen before as he leaned over her.
Sherlock pressed his thigh harder against Molly's, nudging her legs further apart, and she felt the thin edge of the steel counter dig into her back as she adjusted her balance. She winced and muttered a soft ow and Sherlock stepped back from her abruptly.
Shocked by the sudden removal of his body heat against hers, Molly's mouth was still parted, her lips swollen and moist from his. She scrambled for something to say, anything at all, but her mind was still dazed and her body demanding more of him. She stared.
"Right," Sherlock said crisply, glancing at his watch. He grabbed his scarf and looped it around his neck now marked red from fingernails.
Had she done that in her passion? She must have.
His eyes darted to the door, to the clock on the wall, to the tox screen on the counter: anywhere but at Molly. He spoke quickly as his breath resumed normal speed. "About the lab then?"
Her stomach churned constantly for the next three days. She barely ate half the day, and would compensate after work by binging on chocolate peanut butter ice cream in her anxiety. She was gloriously happy and terrified at the same time.
Sherlock usually came in about once a week, but sometimes went as long as three weeks without stopping by if cases were scarce. If she was lucky, she'd have a couple weeks to come up with a decent excuse for letting her professionalism evaporate in a moment of anger (and alright, frustrated lust) and sufficient time to come up with a new approach for dealing with Sherlock. She couldn't smother him with kisses every time he acted like an arse.
It wasn't the worst idea she'd ever had in connection with Sherlock Holmes, she thought.
Molly was gathering her belongings and zipping up her purse at the end of her shift when Sherlock waltzed into the morgue at five o'clock, four days after they'd kissed.
She nearly collapsed in relief when he acted as though nothing had happened, but that quickly turned to irritation when he behaved like…well, like Sherlock.
"Won't be a minute, Molly, just need to take a look at a soil sample. The lens on my microscope shattered and the new piece hasn't come in yet."
"I can't, Sherlock, it's too early and Wednesdays are bad for it, I've told you. They've got a class going. It might be done soon, but I've got dinner plans with my aunt, I can't stay. I'm sorry." Molly stuck her mobile into an outer pocket of her purse, avoiding his piercing gaze as she rambled. Her stomach clenched, and she rubbed her belly. "How on earth did you shatter a lens piece? Those are awfully expensive."
"Blowtorch. Next time I'll aim better. I'll text Stamford. He's off but I'm sure he won't mind coming in to let me into the lab." Sherlock whipped the mobile from his pocket and typed out a message.
"What? No! It's his day off. Please don't disturb him. Look, just wait a bit and the lab is all yours."
"Sorry, can't," Sherlock said with a careless shrug. "Lestrade's waiting for the result and if it takes too long, Anderson will take over this part and why would you subject any murder victim to that, Molly?"
Irritation rose up, overriding her anxiety. She dropped her purse back onto the desk, and turned to look Sherlock square in the eyes, with her hands on her hips.
"I. Said. No. You owe me, and I've never asked you for anything and I love helping you, but you've got to stop trying to manipulate me. I thought we were friends now, and it isn't fair, and I won't have it. You will not bother poor Mike on his day off and he has a terrible cold, so leave him be." Molly crossed her arms and tried to look furious. "Please."
"You're being difficult. I can't think of a single reason not to send this text and you can't stop-" Sherlock's thumb bounced over his phone and she snatched it from his hand before he could react. She tucked it into her trouser pocket, and smiled triumphantly.
Sherlock's icy eyes narrowed and a muscle in his jaw moved. He stared at her unblinkingly, and tilted his head in thought. In a flash of movement, his hand reached out and swiped her mobile from the pocket of her purse. His long fingers danced over the keys, tapping the letters as Molly yelped in outrage.
"Give me that now, you bastard," Molly swore as she lunged for the phone in his grasp. Her fingertips brushed over the mobile, and then she stumbled as he tossed her phone on the desk, wrapped his arms around her upper body and hauled her tight against his chest.
"Don't really need it actually," he murmured, his head bent low so his dark curls bumped her forehead.
She steadied herself by grabbing hold of his coat, and swallowed hard. What the hell is this game?
He tugged the tie from her ponytail, until her light brown hair fell to her shoulders. "You ought to wear your hair down more often. You do after work, and it's curly when you don't wash it as much. When you shampoo three a week instead of five times, it's much wavier. Three months of living in your flat, remember, watching you get ready for work before I left London to hunt Moran. You're a person of precise rituals and habits." He slipped a hand into the soft waves, until she felt the gentle massage of his fingertips against her scalp.
Molly's mouth dropped open in surprise even as she leaned into his touch. He leaned down until his mouth touched her earlobe.
"I'll come back tomorrow. You saved me, yes, I haven't forgotten." His palm slid down over her shirt, in the valley between her breasts and over her belly, where he rested his hand. She sucked in her stomach, sensitive even through fabric, and her heart hammered in her chest.
He smiled crookedly. "But I do need my phone back." He dipped into Molly's pocket and withdrew the mobile she'd snatched away. "You wouldn't have done that five years ago. Or three, even. Interesting."
He dropped the phone into his coat pocket, and stepped back from Molly. With a last unreadable glance in her direction, Sherlock turned and strode out of the morgue.
Her head was swimming with the strangeness of his behavior. The skin of her stomach felt oddly hot, as though she'd been branded.
She texted Lestrade that night, and apologized for preventing Sherlock from completing his work. He'd driven her once again to forgetting about the bigger picture, the importance of the work they both valued.
Lestrade called her within a few minutes to inform her, in a friendly but somewhat baffled voice, that Sherlock had solved the case that afternoon.
A pattern formed over the next few weeks. Sherlock visited, and Molly invariably found herself disagreeing with him over some matter, big or small. She thought the behavior might cease when John returned from his honeymoon, but the detective would turn up in the lab or the morgue without his blogger some days and carry on with his campaign of annoyance.
She still had no idea why he'd let her kiss him, or why he'd seemed to respond. She supposed that this was him pushing her away in the kindest way he knew, by being a pain in the arse and not rejecting her outright.
The nervousness fell away from Molly, and she grew used to telling him off, chiding him for scratching petri dishes and for nicking small pieces of equipment he thought she wouldn't notice. After an argument over him not cleaning up after himself in the lab, Molly found herself laughing.
"God, you're just a great big child! It's ridiculous. I just can't…what are you doing, Sherlock? You're driving me mad." She collapsed onto a chair, covered her faces with her hands and shook her head. "You've got to follow the rules you originally agreed to, or go back to only being a prick once in a while."
"Oh do I?" He gave her an appraising look from his seat by the microscope, and spun around in the swivel chair.
"Yes." Molly nodded and met his eyes. "You'll always be you, you know I love the way you are, but this has gotten out of hand. I thought with John back…but that's not it, is it?"
Sherlock blinked and didn't respond. Without a word, he hopped off the chair, scooped up his coat and headed for the door.
Before the door slammed shut, she heard his voice distantly say, "Tomorrow."
In the morning, Molly prepared the morgue for the busy day ahead. The night doctor hadn't bothered to restock supplies and hadn't badgered the students' supervisor into tidying up as was custom in the lab. She sighed as she took in the mixed up group of vials, tubes and dishes by the sink that no one had bothered to put away. She almost dropped a petri dish when Sherlock cleared his throat behind her.
Molly jumped. "What- it's only six o'clock! Gosh, you scared me. Good morning. Another day, another way to drive me loony?" She grinned, deep dimples forming in her cheeks, and waited for him to roll his eyes and flounce off to the morgue.
To her surprise, Sherlock set his coat down on the counter and his expression stayed mellow. His blue-green eyes were warm, but he seemed to be focusing on the wall behind Molly as he spoke.
"It's not working."
Molly's eyebrows rose. "What isn't? The burner that you tore the cord from?"
"No, that doesn't matter. I meant this." His eyes finally swung to meet hers.
She looked around, hoping for some hint of what he was talking about. "I'm not following you." Molly turned to stack the clean vials back into their slots in the cabinet, and when she turned back around, she found Sherlock standing in front of her.
"Quiet as a cat, has anyone ever told you that?" she said, nervous he'd come so close to her again. He'd mostly stayed out of her personal space during the last few weeks.
"It's not working. You're still here. You love me." He frowned and his eyes moved over her face, studying her curiously.
"Oh. I've never been very good at…not doing that, so yes." Her cheeks flamed, but Molly refused to let herself give in. "But I won't let you wreck the lab or pull bodies out by yourself, it doesn't matter what I feel. I can do some favors for you and the Met, but there are limits." She chewed on her bottom lip and tried to ignore her racing heart.
Sherlock leaned in and rested his hands on the counter on either side of Molly, bringing to mind the night they had kissed with her pinned between him and the steel edge.
She gazed up at him, wondering what new tactic this was in his game.
"I drive everyone mad. Couldn't keep a flatmate more than two weeks before John came. He's not perfect but he's a good assistant, so I could overlook the terrible taste in tea."
Molly nodded, and waited. His right hand slid off the counter, and he settled it tentatively on her hip instead. Her stomach tightened, but she was better now at pushing away the anxiety. She breathed in through her nose, and let herself enjoy the warmth of his body so close to hers.
"You were sad, and you loved me and I didn't notice, even when you could see me and you understood. I'm not good at this. I never will be. But I want. This." He stumbled awkwardly on the last few words, and his calm demeanor slipped. Molly peered up into his face and saw the jumble of confusion and need and fear.
She looked and she saw.
"Oh. Oh you prat." She laughed and his left eyebrow rose. Molly draped her arms around his shoulders and then clasped her hands behind his neck. Gentle pressure brought him down to rest his forehead against hers and they breathed together quietly in the stillness of the lab. He held her close and his lips found the tender nape of her neck, just beyond the edge of her white coat.
She shivered as he nibbled and left pink marks on her throat. "Only you would think annoying the hell out of someone is a good beginning." Despite her words, Molly felt as though she would burst with joy. He was absurd and brilliant and lovely and utterly stupid in some ways, and he was, by some great luck, hers.
He spoke softly against her flesh. "When you kissed me, and I wanted you- I wanted to do everything you ever wanted me to do to you, with you. In you," he added, nuzzling and sucking at her neck until Molly hugged him tighter and hooked her leg around his. "You're Molly. I thought I knew everything I needed to know after I stayed at your flat. I thought you would break if I failed you like I fail everyone eventually, but you laughed and you grew stronger and now you follow rules here." Distaste colored his voice when he spoke the word. "I will most likely never say this again, so pay attention, Molly. I was wrong. Even when I was my worst for you here, you didn't break," he said, a wry grin showing through. "I'm not a good man. I won't deny myself any longer."
"You are a good man," Molly said tenderly, stroking his jawline with the pad of her thumb. "Even if you are a real bastard sometimes. I won't leave you, if this is the worst you can muster. The medical students leave an even bigger mess. At best, you were just a pain in the arse." Her face brightened and a wicked gleam flashed in her brown eyes. "Though you do have a fantastic arse, so I suppose it balances out."
"Yes, you look at it often when you don't know I can see you in the reflection on the steel surfaces," he commented with a smirk, gesturing to the counters and cabinets. Sherlock looked smug and much more himself as he took a step back and extended a hand to Molly. She slipped her fingers into his grasp, and he kissed her hand. His eyes burned with promise as he looked up at her, his mouth over her hand still.
"I'll come back when your shift is over. We're going to have dinner."
"Why does that sound potentially misleading?" Molly asked. The mischievousness in his eyes was almost alarming, as Sherlock was never excited about food.
His eyes were wide and innocent. "I don't know what you mean. We are going to have dinner. At Baker Street, since John and his overly cheerful wife have vacated and left me in peace finally." He shrugged and kissed her forehead. She squeezed his arm, and let go of him reluctantly. He opened the door to leave and looked back. "By the way, how do you feel about the violin?"
"Beautiful instrument. I'm sorry you couldn't play yours at my flat without raising suspicions."
He wrinkled his nose and looked disgusted. "Yes that was tedious." He paused. "Sometimes I don't talk for days. Would that be a problem for you?"
Molly grinned. "Sherlock, after all we've been through, it would be a bloody miraculous relief."