For the fluff prompt: The mundane and not romantic things Sherlock does that should turn Molly off (like say, burping and that awkward stuff)


It started with the handkerchiefs.

Molly had had them since she was a child, and she treasured the delicately embroidered squares of cloth. They were worn thin, inherited from her aunt Annie on her dad's side of the family who was never caught without one. She knew they were old-fashioned, and considered unhygienic by her coworkers, but she never felt right without one tucked into her pocket. When she was agitated, by work or by Sherlock, she'd slip her hand in her lab coat and stroke the soft fabric with her fingertip until she felt calm again. She never used them on her nose; they were her mini safety blankets and her little secret.

When Sherlock caught the flu after bunking with his homeless network for a week, she gladly took him in and babied him. He couldn't go home to John after all, who still believed him dead and disgraced. Besides it was a bit of a fantasy for her, to have him in her bed, feeding him and rubbing his back. There was a part of her that was still waiting for him to realize how well they fit together in their weirdness and how she could anchor him patiently when he was straying into darkness.

On the first night, she massaged his aching shoulders, laid cold cloths on his fevered forehead, and set a box of tissues by the bedside. He was miserably ill, but Molly couldn't keep from humming and smiling while she heated a can of tomato soup in her kitchen.

By the fourth night, she was ready to throw him out the window.

From the first, he ignored the box of tissues by the bed and the handkerchiefs from her pockets vanished after she leaned over to take his temperature.

The next day, she found her beloved hankies in a wrinkled and used ball on the floor. She tossed them in the washing machine with only a small frown, but moved her other handkerchiefs to a shelf in the closet where they'd be inconvenient for him to reach.

Those disappeared too, and turned up in crumpled heaps around the flat, full of evidence that while Sherlock's fever had gone down, he was still working on the congestion.

Being Sherlock, he was selectively deaf when she tried to suggest he use the disposable tissues.

On the fourth day, she came home from work to find the batch she'd just washed now dropped in a disgusting pile by the sofa, while Sherlock sprawled on the cushions, dozing and snoring away.

And then there was the snoring. His nose, which contributed to his elegant and proud profile when he waxed on about putrefaction rates and rare molds, was capable of producing the most ungodly, sleep-shaking honks. She wasn't sure if it was just a part of his cold, or if he always sounded like a foghorn when he slept. Instead of mooning over the beautiful man sleeping in her bed, she was hiding in her guest room, lying on the cot with a pillow over her head. The sleep deprivation contributed to her growing ire.

On the fourth night, while Sherlock passed out after dinner, bleary with his running nose, Molly did another load of laundry. She sorted through the handkerchiefs, stewing over his inconsiderate behavior but reminded herself he was getting well and headed off to Paris in two days regardless.

She cringed when she tossed in another cluster of cotton squares, not wanting to look too closely. Along with it, she added the rest of Sherlock's clothing, including the trousers he'd been wearing nonstop for the last three days. (She wondered for a moment if he had done that at Baker Street as well and she'd just never noticed, only seeing him at the lab.)

Laundry had an oddly calming effect on Molly, the warmth of it and the simple ritual reminding her of helping her mom with chores when she was little. After a couple hours, she no longer had the urge to throttle Sherlock, but had worked out a short and polite speech about respecting one's belongings. If she kept her courage up, she'd deliver the talk over breakfast.

She hauled out the clean laundry from the dryer and set to folding. After sorting the hankies into a small pile, she examined them for lingering stains and then frowned, realizing one of them lacked the embroidered flowers along the hem.

"What is this…" she muttered to herself. The handkerchief was similar in color to the others, but it was paler, more ivory than cream. She flipped it over and traced a faint pattern of checkered stitching in one corner, topped with the yellow embroidered letter V.

Molly shrugged and set it aside. Perhaps Sherlock was in the habit of pilfering hankies from other women? It shouldn't surprise her, but she felt weirdly jealous.

Over breakfast, Molly stuffed bacon in her mouth, working up the courage to address Sherlock's hankie abuse. Looking healthier than he had since he crashed through her door, he skimmed the newspaper and didn't blink when Molly spoke.

She stumbled over her opening. "So you like handkerchiefs. That's…nice."

He sipped his cup of coffee, his eyes unmoving from the newspaper print. "Is this your standard breakfast chatter? I can see why you haven't had a man stay over in more than three years."

"Sherlock! No, I…what I mean to say is, you keep using my handkerchiefs, and I guess that's alright but I would rather. You didn't." She bit the inside of her cheek and looked away. When she looked back, he was staring directly into her eyes. His face was clear and his nose had returned to its normal color, no longer red from sniffling.

"Fine. I'm leaving in an hour."

"I see. That soon. Well that's good. Be safe and all." She trailed off, feeling guilty over the stab of relief that hit her at the news. "Oh, is this yours?" She stuck her hand into the laundry basket and drew out the unfamiliar handkerchief.

He frowned at it and then took the square from her quickly. Without looking, he folded it and tucked it in his shirt pocket and returned to reading the paper. "Thank you," he said stiffly.

"Who's V?" she blurted out.

Sherlock's eyes returned to hers. "My mother."

"Oh. Have you seen her?"

"Obviously not. She believes I splattered my brains on the pavement two years ago. It's safer that way."

Molly bit a piece of bacon, and chewed while she thought. "It's soft, like mine. They used to make things better. And it gets…well, softer over time." She shrugged, knowing her words were inane. She felt a strange melancholy she couldn't quite pinpoint. She tried to find a way back to her intended point, but Molly found herself instead thinking about Sherlock traveling around the world with almost nothing in his pockets but his mother's handkerchief.

"It's not sentiment." His voice was cold and snide in a way she knew too well. He'd read her face while she stared off into space, eating quietly. "I don't like disposable tissues, they rub my nose raw. Don't make things into something they aren't, Molly."

"Right, sure. Um, do you want some more coffee before you go?"


She said goodbye to him at the door, a few minutes after he received a text message that looked to her like nothing but a string of symbols. Molly hesitated, unsure of how to say farewell or if it would be safe to ask when he was returning.

Sherlock gave a half-smile and tipped his head toward her. He clasped her shoulders and Molly felt dizzy looking up at him.

He leaned in and pressed his lips to her cheek lightly. She barely felt the whisper of his lips on her skin before they were gone and he was jogging down the stairs.

Molly moped around the flat for a while, unsure of what to do with herself now that the glorious annoyance of Sherlock Holmes was missing. He was a whirlwind and a nuisance and her chest ached when she let herself wonder if he might never return at all.

She occupied herself with putting away the folded laundry. It wasn't until she'd hung up all her cleaned work trousers that Molly realized that though they'd all been in the basket that morning, three of her embroidered handkerchiefs were now missing.