A wandering character study somehow turned into a post-disaster world with slavery in the UK and I have no idea what's going on. So yeah, here it is. With some smut. It's un-Beta'ed and possibly weird.

"She is quiet, unobtrusive, but has a cheerful demeanor. No piercings beyond her ears. Standard thigh brand, but it's quite tasteful. She appears to be intelligent, but that doesn't matter, does it. Still it's good to have a girl who can learn your pleasures quickly-"

"I've no need for pleasure, only a housekeeper who can fetch milk and cook without burning the flat down."

"Ah. Moderate culinary ability is on her CV, with a particular skill in Italian."

"She'll do. Give her clothes, and of course, the charge is on my brother. "

He wondered who she was before the Collapse, before the records of her life and freedom were wiped from the system and her servitude began. She rarely spoke now.

She knew how to read, and loved it, judging by the way her brown eyes skim the spines of his books with hunger. Her hands are small and deft, skilled with handling the delicate equipment in his laboratory. Traces of her former life are gone from her hands, the skin smooth and the nails unpolished, no ring indents on her. When dusting around his microscope, her fingers dance around the knobs without hesitation. He notes how her gaze lingers on the eyepiece, as though she wants to go on her tiptoes and peek through the lens. Was she a scientist before, or merely a curious amateur? That it never occurs to her she shouldn't even breathe on his expensive equipment is telling.

Sherlock doesn't ask. That would be cheating.

In his chair, he faced the fire, but watched her with his peripheral vision, not wanting to affect the results of his observation. She pushed the loose waves of her pale brown hair behind her ears as she hummed a tune he recalled from a Beatles CD John used to subject him to on occasion. She filled the bucket with soapy water and dropped to her knees to soak the stiff brush in it.

Her petite body moved nimbly over the floors of the flat, and he tapped on his lip when he realized how closely he was observing the concave line of her back, how she arched with every reach of her brush. The brief servant's dress rode up her thighs as she crawled around the kitchen.

Sherlock pondered this flaw in design and how it could be improved for a good ten minutes before he realized that the garb was deliberate. Sometimes the more obvious and cheap motivations escaped him, he was willing to admit, but only to himself.

He knew the instant she became aware of his observation because her confidence faltered and the motions of her arm became jerky and rushed. Her glance darted toward him and back to the floor.

She bumped the bucket with the next sweep of her scrub brush, and water sloshed over the side. He hadn't asked her to wash up (he rarely remembered to give her any orders actually; Mycroft must've given the agency a list of requirements when he lined up the candidates) but she must've been terribly bored, with all the restrictions the indentured class labor under. Or perhaps they'd frightened her so thoroughly that she believed she'd be struck if she were idle, even though he never said that, and was disgusted by the notion.

He was supposed to name her but it seemed presumptuous. He waited for her to volunteer one but she never did. Perhaps it was the only thing left that was solely hers.

It was strange though. Sometimes when he lapsed into a stream of thought, rambling aloud while she ironed his trousers, he'll look up after an hour's productive thought and realize she's staring at him under her eyelashes with a muscle tugging the corner of her mouth up. Curiosity and mirth are there in her eyes, and not the confusion and resentment he expects after dealing with the scorn of the idiotic New London Metro for the last five years.

This is all John's fault, clearly, Sherlock mulled while the woman relaxed back into her scrubbing routine and tuned out his presence.

If the doctor hadn't fallen in love with Mary and moved out, the flat wouldn't have fallen into potentially lethal disarray, with half-finished experiments clogging up the sink and rotting in the refrigerator. Mycroft insisted he accept a servant or be cut off entirely from his trust fund. Damn their late father for designating his controlling louse of a brother the trustee of his inheritance when Sherlock fell into drug addiction, and double-damn him for never changing the will back before his death. He was trapped with a slave girl he didn't want (the pretense of "indenture" annoyed him- slavery is what it is) but slowly, he became accustomed to having her in his flat.

It was obnoxiously comfortable and simple. 221B was tidy and warm, and he'd gained five pounds in a month. His wardrobe was suffering for her good food. Two buttons simultaneously popped off his favorite aubergine dress shirt, and he heard a strangled sound coming from the woman fetching his socks.

Her face was averted but her shoulders shook slightly. He narrowed his eyes.

She was laughing. Trying not to laugh and choking on it.

His own mouth quirked upward.

"Turn," he ordered.

She pivoted on her heels and her soft eyes found his. "I'm sorry, sir."

"I'm not a sir." His nose wrinkled and his eyes turned an icy blue.

"I'm not supposed to use your name. A master's name is sacred, a girl's is not." And there it was again, the briefest flash of sarcasm and humor behind the obedient words, the implication of a joke, but never actually violating the rules of her position.

Who are you? he wondered again.

She brought him a new shirt, her fingers skimming over his chest as she buttoned it. She peers up at him from under her lashes again, a deep dimple forming in her cheek.

The more he tried to deduce the nuances of her fleeting expressions, the further he stumbled into new traps and confusing avenues.

He chases a brilliant thief across Britain for four days, finally stumbling into his nest in a warehouse outside of Glasgow. The clever criminal who left taunting clues at robberies turns into a frantic, babbling mess when confronted by Sherlock, and makes one last attempt at preserving his freedom with a vicious swipe of his switchblade.

The knife misses the detective's throat, but slices a thin line through his best coat and the shoulder underneath.

Sherlock waves off medical attention, and hops the train back to New London after the local police take custody of the thief.

His girl is waiting at the door when he returns. It's only then that he wonders what she does when he disappears for days at a time on a case. Does she feel free then? Does she consider running to Canada or Cairo or some other place where society recovered better from the Collapse? Mycroft is undoubtedly watching her and the flat but she doesn't know that. He could ask Mycroft what she does, but that would be cheating too.

The flat is undisturbed when he comes home, but surely there are shifts here and there. A different set of sheets on his bed, certainly. Perhaps an antique atlas is now sitting on the end table instead of the coffee table. And was that medical journal five millimeters more to the right on the shelf than it was previously? Her nails are slightly ragged as though she's been biting them. Anxiety? Caused by his absence or something else? The more he scans her face and body, the more questions he uncovers.

He almost asks for her name then.

Instead he falls onto the sofa and pushes off the coat, now noticeably bloodier. The pool has spread across his shoulder and soaked his entire sleeve.

"Oh hell," he mutters and faints.

When he came to, the coat was tossed onto the floor along with the ruined shirt. Scissors, he thought blearily, spotting how cleanly the shirt had been cut off.

The woman was straddling his thighs, her face scrunched in concentration. His eyes were only half-open but it was impossible to mistake the distinct sensation of a needle passing through his flesh and the subsequent tugging. He winced but remained still.

She expertly closed the cut and snipped the fishing line she used to accomplish it. Her brown eyes were clear and focused, and she never took her gaze away from the wound even though she must've been aware he'd come to.

He closed his eyes and sighed with relief when she brought him a glass of water. He drank it down in one long chug and then spoke.

"Too young to be a physician. A nurse or a medical student then. A student I would say because nurses are valuable. They would've charged much more for a servant like you, sold you to the city or to the military. But a student who never earned the title, but stayed long enough to begin working with patients, in training. The cost of training is exorbitant. I should've suspected a doctor, with the nurturing and the way you look at my lab equipment."

She laughed ruefully. "You noticed that, huh? I never met a microscope I didn't like." She sat by his side and inspected the stitches. "My dad died when I was nearly finished with school. We couldn't pay for his funeral costs or for school and I couldn't find work. The debts…it was let them take my mum or take me." She shrugged, but he saw the glint of wetness in her eyes. She smiled and shook her head. "I'm stronger. It was the right thing to do."

He held the glass out, and she refilled it, bringing a sandwich back with her from the kitchen.

He chewed methodically until it was gone. His arm throbbed but the light-headedness had passed. "Not that I'm not glad to be alive, but it would've been more efficient to let me bleed to death. Buy yourself a couple days of planning time, take my money from around the flat, and get on the first escape-boat to Calais."

She cringed and looked away. "That's awful. I could never do that. No matter who…I just can't. They can't make me be that kind of person. Then they would really own me. And I don't want you to die, anyway." She lifted her head and her brown eyes were naked in their regard. She laid her hands gently over his still-clammy fingers, and waited for him to react.

The moment stretched out, and Sherlock felt the grip of her need sink into him.

Panic rose in him. His cool eyes appraised her, searching for explanations, flipping through the index of possible answers in his mind. "Ah. I see. Yes. Stockholm Syndrome."

She blinked. "What?"

"Stockholm Syndrome. A captive relies on their keeper for safety and food and reassurance, and eventually comes to empathize with their captor. Fancy themselves in love." Weary with blood loss, he leaned back against the sofa. He felt oddly disappointed. He closed his eyes in thought and waved a hand toward the woman. "I'll text Mycroft in the morning. He can bring you back and find another one. It's better that way."

Her mouth dropped open, and she stared, her cheeks flushing with anger. "I know what Stockholm Syndrome is. You are not much of a captor, Sherlock Holmes. And not very reassuring, either." She chewed on her bottom lip, and stood. "I'm not going anywhere."

He opened one eye, and peered at her. "You aren't."

She crossed her arms, her gaze nervous but determined. "I'm not. Someone has to sew you up when you fall to pieces, don't they."

She inspected his stitches every day before he ran out to follow up leads on cases, and washed his arm when he returned, dusty and triumphant.

She didn't bother hiding when she'd been into the books anymore.

He healed cleanly.

She slid into his bed without a word, her slender fingers tracing letters into the taut skin of his belly in the darkness.

He swallowed hard, and waited. Sherlock's fingers curled into tight fists while her hands roamed over him, learning the geography of his body. She was clever and merciless and he groaned with her grip encircling him firmly until he was ready for her.

She drew the brief garment over her head and laid it neatly on the end table. She shifted over his torso and moved downward, squeezing his hips with her thighs. She kissed across his chest covetously, claiming his body as hers. At last, he relaxed his fists and slid his hands up her legs, feeling the tiny rough place where she'd been branded on her inner thigh. He rubbed the spot with a fingertip, and she shuddered.

She covered his hands with hers, and led him to cradle her breasts while she widened her legs.

She ground herself against his groin lightly, letting the hardness of him nudge her wetness and tease them both.

"Please…" he said and then faltered.

"Are you getting impatient?" Even in the dark, he could see the way her eyes shone down at him.

"No. Well, yes. But…who are you? I tried to deduce it but it never worked."

"Ask and you shall receive, Sherlock," she whispered softly. "You don't have to make everything so difficult." She reached between them and guided his cock into her. She arched back for a few seconds, adjusting to the thickness stretching her, and then leaned forward to rock against his body. She licked at his mouth and he opened for her, digging his fingers tightly into her hair to draw her close.

"Molly," she sighed and rocked and urged. "I'm Molly. Your Molly." She lifted her body up to brace her hands on his chest and move into him rhythmically. He sank his fingers into the flesh of her hips, dragging her down onto him harder and faster until they found their pace.

When she reached her climax, she cried out without restraint, scraping her nails over his chest until he hissed her name. In the moonlight, she was a wild thing, her tangled waves of hair moving across dark nipples and soft belly. He arched and pumped into her roughly and came a moment later. When she collapsed onto his chest, she pressed her mouth against his throat and bit him, and licked the row of indents. She sucked on the mark until it turned dark, and he stroked her back, sensing that somehow he had been branded.