Trigger warnings: this story deals with unrealistic [and horribly inaccurate] depictions of prostitution. Please - do not read if you are not comfortable with this concept.

Alternate Universe: Sherlock deals with sex as one would deal with groceries - by paying for it. prostitute!Molly.

The woman he picks [this time] has long, plain brown hair and wide, plain brown eyes. She is dressed in a simple, plain jumper and a pair of simple grey trousers, and he remarks to himself that she could be anyone, anywhere – which is ideal for a prostitute, after all.

He'd asked for a woman in her early thirties [as he aged, he liked his women to age as well]. He'd gotten her from the usual agency – clean, tested frequently, and discreet were all qualities that this particular company sought to provide. She is new to him, however; so when he walks into the coffee shop he doesn't go over to her straight away – he simply waits by the door and studies her for a long moment, taking in the pallor of her skin, the smallness of her lips, the slightness of her build. Her forehead carries too many worry lines for a woman of her age, and he can tell by the way that her fingers grip the base of her tea cup that she used to do something else, be someone else, long ago. Interesting.

They don't stay in the coffee shop. He strides up to her and just nods, not even introducing himself to her, but she doesn't seem to mind, reaching down to grab her jacket and following him out without a single word exchanged between them. He leads her down the road and to an older hotel at the corner of a busy intersection, and as he climbs three flights of stairs he finds himself somewhat pleased to note that she doesn't even falter as she follows him, her footsteps still echoing behind him.

When they reach the room he motions for her to sit on the bed, which he does without question. It's a pattern of hers, this willingness to obey – he'd almost mistaken it earlier for apathy, but that wasn't the case. She is a follower in the truest sense of the word – an ideal whore, pliable and impressionable and malleable, or so at least it would seem. He can still sense something else in her, something... more.

He removes his scarf first, and then his jacket, followed by his shoes and socks next. He motions for her to do the same, and when he looks up from his feet he is greeted by the sight of her naked body, sitting on the edge of the bed. Her pose is not seductive, not even really sensual. She simply seems to exist as a blank canvas, and he wonders to himself if this is a strategy she has developed for herself; a way for her to simultaneously maximize the pleasure of her clients and yet, at the same time, successfully hide and protect all the truths and secrets of herself.

He shakes his head abruptly. He isn't here to waste his time deducing a common prostitute; he pays good money for his semi-annual sessions, and he isn't about to waste it.

When he fucks her, he does it with practiced ease – an approach that maximises his pleasure in the most clinical and removed way possible. She still doesn't speak, doesn't even [thankfully] put on those terrible fake moans that some of his previous women had. He does, however, have to turn her around to avoid looking into her eyes. He'd accidentally locked eyes with her at one point [when he'd reached down to reposition her legs around his waist], and where he usually either encountered boredom or forced enthusiasm, he found a subtle curiosity in her eyes that unnerved him. Changing positions had been a necessity after that.

When they get dressed afterwards, he notices a scar on her abdomen, an old one. She pulls her shirt down before he can stare at it any longer.

He pays for sex because it helps him relieve stress without the messy complications of sentiment and without the irritating investment of time into an actual relationship. Over the next six months, however, he finds himself strangely [and infuriatingly] intrigued by that quiet prostitute whose services he'd purchased. There had been something... something different in those brown eyes, something far more exciting and interesting than a life wasted on drugs or alcohol or gambling. Despite himself, he is intrigued.

He makes certain to book her again with the agency, and instructs her to meet him at the same room, in the same hotel. She appears at the door precisely on time, her brown hair swept back into a perfectly plain ponytail, her body hidden under a long black jumper and dark green leggings.

Her breasts are somewhat small, he remarks, as his fingers knead patterns into her skin [he's always enjoyed the feeling of breasts under his fingers, a fixation he's certain he's held since infancy]. He closes his eyes this time as he thrusts against her, not prepared to risk locking gazes with her again.

This time, as they dress, he notices the way she carefully puts on an overlarge watch on her wrist. He scoffs at it. Sentiment.

The third time, he makes note of the precision of her finger movements, even as she wraps her hand around his cock. The movement is not intentionally sensual; it is controlled, practised. He wonders, briefly, if –

But then her mouth wraps around him, and he stops being able to think at all.

It's on their fifth encounter that he finally speaks to her, having finally collected enough data to reach a conclusion.

She's sliding her trousers back over her hips when he announces it, and she starts to hear his voice, the silence that characterizes their encounters suddenly shattered.

"Your father had liver cancer. You chose to donate part of your own liver; while not a common treatment for that particular condition, it must have been the best option for him at the time. But it wasn't enough – the cancer returned, and you were forced to take care of him, weren't you?"

Her hands have frozen along the bottom of her right trouser leg, her fingers wrapped tightly around the edges, her knuckles white.

He continues. "You had to drop out of school – medical school, if I'm not mistaken. The cancer was aggressive, pervasive. The NHS doctors said it was a lost cause – but you didn't give up, did you? You brought to private clinics, whatever you could find, no matter the cost. That's why you did this, isn't it? To pay the bills."

She still isn't moving, still folded at the waist, her fingers locked onto the fabric of her own trousers.

"But he still died."

She takes in a deep breath then, and he can already tell she is breathing faster, that her heartbeat is quickening.

"So why keep doing this now?" he asks her, his curiosity and his impatience getting to him.

She doesn't answer, rising to her feet and taking the envelope of money on the table, crossing to the door and disappearing out of sight.

He requests her again, and it's like a schedule now, every six months, like clockwork. After the sixth time, he doesn't even bother dealing with the agency - he simply gives her a data and a time, and she always appears.

He watches as she removes the watch this time, and he knows that she knows he's watching. She sits it down gently onto the table, her fingers lingering for a moment on the polished metal, before she continues to strip methodically, shedding her clothes as a tree sheds its leaves, her skin bare and naked before him.

Sometimes, when he moves above her, he is struck by how beautiful she is, and this thought scares him like nothing has ever scared him before.

He makes a mistake, on the eleventh time.

This – this woman has gotten under his skin, somehow. He thinks about her when he is between cases; he thinks about her whenever he passes a brown-haired girl on the street; he thinks about her in the dead of night, lying in his bed, his eyes closed and a image of her on the inside of his eyelids, haunting him even in sleep.

He doesn't mean to kiss her, but he does.

They both freeze as they realize what he's done, and his hips pause, suddenly vulnerable, suddenly lost. He expects her to throw him off of her, to yell at him, to remind him that that's not what she is to him; that tender kisses do not belong in a business transaction such as theirs.

But that's not what she does.

Instead, she kisses him back, kisses him like it's the end of the world, her hands coming up to thread in his hair, her tongue swirling patterns into the inside of his mouth. He's so shocked and so surprised and so excited by this that he barely has time to thrust one last time before he finishes, her hands guiding his head down to her shoulder, his forehead resting against her skin, her hands still caught in his hair, brushing softly against his scalp.

She leaves quickly after that, still pulling on her jumper as she heads through the door.

He tries his best to not think of her.

For three months, he tries everything to get her out of his mind.

But he can't.

He dials the number for the agency, waits to be put through. He asks to book her, even as his face flushes with the embarrassment of having to upset his six-month routine.

The man on the line sounds confused. Idiot. "You want to make an appointment? With Missy?"

Sherlock scowls to himself, irritated at this delay. "Yes. Obviously. Is she available?"

There is a pause at the other end of the line. "Missy left, two years ago."

He starts at this revelation. "What?" he barks, his confusion manifesting itself as anger.

"She left two years ago. Said she couldn't do it anymore. Don't think she went to another agency, though. Doesn't matter – I've got others with her same features, maybe you'd like –"

He hangs up.

He finally finds her eight days later, leaving a ground-level flat share in Brixton. She drops her bag in shock when he approaches, but he catches it without a thought, his fingers twisting around the cheap strap as it falls through the air.

"You left the agency. Two years ago," he tells her matter-of-factly.

She swallows hard, and nods.

He doesn't give the bag back to her, holding it tight, like ransom [ransom for all those stupid and strange and unfamiliar feelings that well up in his chest as he looks at her, as he sees her for the first time in a long time outside of a hotel room, and it makes this moment suddenly seem surreal]. He stares at her, his eyes bearing down on her.

"How did you find me?" she asks softly, and he realizes that this is the first time he's ever heard her voice. It's... soft. Almost shy, somehow.

"Simple enough. I noticed the inscription on the watch – clearly a gift from you to your father. "To Dad, Love Molly" etched into the back. I found the jeweller's who had inscribed it for you, and from there I found your name. Only a matter of time before I could track down your residence."

She nods, and looks away from him.

He steps forward then, and remarks [in a deep, dark, removed part of himself] that even though he's known her for nearly six years, this still feels awkward, like meeting for the first time.

"Why keep coming if you'd left?" he presses, desperate for the answer. The question has been tugging at him like hook in the mouth of a fish, pulling him forward into unknown territory, completely out of his own control.

She shakes her head, her eyes still averted from his.

"Tell me!" he demands, and the urgency and desperation in his voice frightens him.

She looks up then, eyes wide, and he gets that feeling again, like the first time he'd locked eyes with her during sex, and it feels like she is dissecting him with her gaze, pulling him apart at the seams.

"It – it felt like home," she whispers, and she's flushing red, her eyes filling with tears.

He can only stare at her, his mouth dry and his palms sweating as he realizes exactly what she means [because he knows that's what she's become for him, too]. The feeling of being loved, the feeling of having someone care for you, the feeling you can only get when you know someone won't leave [but they always do, don't they - and he thinks of the watch on her wrist, too big for her tiny hand]. Caring for someone is not - is never - an advantage.

She squeezes her eyes shut and seems to try to center herself, to try to find modicum of calmness within her; he can deduce this because he too is attempting to do the same. She takes the bag from his grasp and steps further back from him. "P-please, don't come here again," she murmurs softly, before rushing off, his hand still outstretched from where he'd held the bag, his eyes locked on her retreating form.

When he calls the agency again to make his six-month appointment, he requests either a fair-haired girl or a darker-skinned woman, it doesn't matter. He only engages in sex because it helps him relieve stress without the messy complications of sentiment and without the irritating investment of time into an actual relationship. That's all.

He has one steadfast rule, however: absolutely no one with brown eyes.

EDIT: Someone mentioned that it might seem like there is implied incest - totally not the case! I only refer to her father's love in the purest sense of the word - the sensation of loving someone and being loved in return. Now that her father is gone, she is alone in the world, and the feeling of being loved (however fleeting or misleading) was enough to keep her (and him) coming back.