Co-Written by Amalia Kensington (aka Lexieken) and PetraTodd; Artwork was created for it by Lexieken, and is linked in my profile if you're interested.

Sometimes, Sherlock would have nightmares. Not that he would ever admit it to anyone.

Molly knew what was being said about him: "the child of a serial killer, the child is tainted", the adults would say. "Freak" was the simpler label by their classmates.

"Be kind to him, Molly," her father had said. "His family isn't here for him: so we have to be." Molly had nodded and agreed to give up her own bed and take the bottom bunk.

Which is how she knew that he had nightmares every night.

So she would climb the small ladder and lay down beside him, grabbing his hand tightly as he slept, noting how he would quickly calm down, how he would stop thrashing and his face would relax. She would fall asleep again quickly, comforted in the familiarity of the mattress and the warmth of his hand.

"It's hereditary, you know."

Molly frowned at this. It was the first thing Sherlock had said in days, and it was not what she had been expecting.

They were sitting quietly (as usual) in the darkest corner of the backyard, strategically hidden from the eyes of her mother through the kitchen window. Sherlock had found this place pretty quickly upon his arrival to their home, and her parents had given instructions not to bother him. But Molly had looked up at her father, worry etched in her features and he nodded ever so slightly, giving her permission to approach the dark haired boy that was now living with them.

"What's hereditary, Sherlock?" Molly asked, trying to push down the hope that maybe now Sherlock would maybe want to leave this place and maybe go to the swings in the park down the street.

"You know," Sherlock lifted a finger to his head and made the swirling motion that so many of the kids of school did behind his back. Of course he knew they did it, but he said nothing. It made Molly angry to see it.

"Stop it, Sherlock, don't call it that," she snapped, glaring at the ground. "It's wrong."

He shrugged in response and hugged his knees once again. "It's true. I was reading it in the library. I have a 'genetic predisposition' increased through my mother's side. At any moment, I could just snap and start killing people." He snapped his fingers together in a loud click that made her flinch.

He saw her jump and she felt her stomach clench at the look on his face. He thought she was afraid of him.

She grabbed his hand, squeezing harder when he tried to pull away. "You're not going to snap, Sherlock. You're not." She scooted closer and made sure to catch his eyes. "I won't let you, ok? You're not like your mum at all, Sherlock, and I promise nothing like that is ever going to happen."

He should have scoffed. It's what he did whenever her mother was kind or when her father gave him a sympathetic pat. But he didn't do that with her.

Sherlock looked at her with wide eyes and Molly would later recall they looked like they might have been filled with unshed tears.

"How do you know?" he whispered, almost as if he didn't want anyone to hear him voicing his own fears.

"Because you're a good person, Sherlock. And you're smart and brave and really really good." Molly grew frustrated at not being able to find the right words, the words that would show him that she believed in him, that the horrible things that had happened had nothing to do with him, that it wasn't his future.

"But it could happen," he retorted, despair entering his features.

She squeezed his hand again. "No it won't. Not if we're friends. Not if we're together, ok?"

It was a stupid promise to make, one that was based on nothing more than the faith of a ten year old that still didn't understand the way the world worked.

But it didn't matter.

Because in that moment, Sherlock believed her.

He squeezed her hand back.

"You little freak."

There it was, that word again. Molly cringed. So many hateful words tossed at Sherlock over the last few years, but it always came back to that one.

The yellow-haired girl shouted at Sherlock and knelt on the pavement to examine the broken furry heap. "What have you done to Davey? I'm going to tell my mum. You're evil like your mother, like everyone says."

"I didn't hurt your stupid dog. He was dead when we found him. Look at him- he was clearly hit by a car." Sherlock shrugged, and bony shoulders moved under the twelve year old's ill-fitting shirt. "We're just studying the body, is all."

"We were going to look for a nametag on the collar, to call for help," Molly offered desperately. "Please, Sherlock wasn't hurting him. We just wanted to see…"

Tears spilled from the yellow-haired girl's eyes and her hands balled into fists. She stood and backed away from the other two children. "You're lying; you did it. I'm telling, and they'll finally send you away for good. I hate you! I hate you both. I'm telling my mum."

"She won't care, with her scotch problem; she can barely afford to feed you, let alone a dog," Sherlock said, a sneer on his pale face. His eyes were nearly hidden by overgrown black curls, but Molly saw fury in the set of his jaw. He was working up to a proper temper now, and he'd be stewing for hours.

"Your mum'll probably thank me for it."

"Don't, Sherlock, please. It's cruel." Molly laced her fingers through his and squeezed.

He frowned, and she saw his eyes dart toward her, under his fringe. "She's a liar. She's an idiot who can't see what's in front of her and it's not my fault her mother doesn't-"

"Sherlock, stop," Molly pleaded, tugging him closer and covering his fingers with her other hand. "Please. You are not like this. Be good."

"I'm not good."

But the warmth of her hand and the softness of her voice cut through the building rage in him, as it had so many times before. Sherlock's tense shoulders dropped and his jaw relaxed.

Sensing his focus was lost, the yellow-haired girl spun around and ran down the street, screaming for her mum.

"The police will believe her. They'll take me away." He spoke flatly, but his blue eyes were bleak.

"No, they won't. I was here too; I'll tell the truth. And someone probably saw the dog's body lying here before. We can ask!" She toyed with her braid, wondering if anyone truly would speak up for a boy like Sherlock who always said the wrong thing to strangers.

"Serial killers often start out by torturing small animals; it makes perfect sense to suspect me. I would."

"You aren't like that. You've never hurt anyone. I won't let them take you." Molly let go of his hand and wrapped her arms around him fiercely.

He swallowed hard, his Adam's apple protruding from his thin neck. His body was growing and elongating, and he always looked half-fed, despite the meals her mother urged on Sherlock. He stood limply in Molly's arms for a moment before giving in and settled his hands on her narrow hips. He tipped his head downward and rested his forehead against hers.

Molly stroked the back of his neck, and closed her eyes. They breathed together, falling in sync with the familiarity of the contact.

"I wasn't going to do anything to it. I just wanted to see up close- to see what my mother saw- why she…Death, I mean."

"I know." And she did know. Molly had been curious herself, and she hadn't worried for a minute that Sherlock would judge her for it. It didn't occur to her that he might judge himself instead.

The police came to Molly's house and her parents had a tense conference with a young officer. Molly explained what had happened, and insisted she had been with Sherlock all morning. He couldn't have hurt the puppy, and they should ask the neighbors if they had seen anything.

To their shock, the policeman didn't argue. He jotted down a few notes, and a few hours later, stopped by to let them know that a man down the street had seen the dog lying on the road earlier during his morning jog.

"Dunno why he didn't bother calling anyone; too busy, I suppose, to care about someone's pet. What a git. Maybe I should arrest him." He smiled at Molly and she giggled.

"Maybe you should hire Molly for the police force, since you wouldn't have bothered checking the neighbors without her suggestion," Sherlock said loftily. "I suppose a twelve year old girl could solve crime better than most of the local force. How many unsolved murders have there been this year in London so far? Twenty?"

"Twenty-two. Are you interested in police work then?" the officer asked, unfazed by Sherlock's attitude.

"I'm interested in solving puzzles. Murders are usually more interesting, but I like a good robbery. Kidnappings can be fun. To read about, I mean." Sherlock smirked, but Molly was relieved. His snark was normal, which meant he wasn't terrified anymore of being blamed for the dog. They were safe.

The policeman grinned and stood to leave. "Well, you're as clever as your neighbors said."

"They said a lot of things, I imagine. People talk."

"Whatever else they said doesn't matter. A man makes his own choices, Sherlock. But if you're still interested in crime when you get older, you come and see me. We could always use a smart lad like you on the squad."

Molly felt something like hope bubble up inside her. That path had never occurred to her, but…Sherlock would make a wonderful police detective, and no one would ever question his goodness again if he wore a badge. If she became a doctor or a nurse like she was considering, they could both help people and make the world better.

"Please, a copper? That would be a waste of my intelligence." He crossed his arms and plopped down on the couch. He had reached his daily limit for somewhat-civil conversation.

"Right then. Thank you for your time."

"No, thank you!" Molly piped up. "Really, very much. You've been wonderful, mister- I'm sorry I didn't hear Mum say your name."

"Lestrade, miss."

There were other visits from the police, but after a while, it was only ever Lestrade they saw. Even after he was promoted to sergeant, he was the one to stop by when the neighbors panicked over the alarming red stains all over the drive (a strawberry jam experiment-turned-explosion). He was forced to ask questions of them when a neighborhood toddler went missing (it turned out his absent father had stolen him because of a bitter divorce). Lestrade didn't believe the complaints about Sherlock, but did his duty.

He gave the boy the benefit of the doubt even when Sherlock was actually guilty.

"I didn't steal the chainsaw," he explained, rolling his eyes. "I borrowed it to cut down dead branches to use for a velocity test."

The charges vanished after Lestrade charmed the irate owner. Sherlock repaid the policeman by sending info about unsolved crimes in the area. Though the other police personnel regarded the strange son of a killer with distrust, Lestrade realized quickly that the boy had genuine insight into crime scenes.

Her father's study was converted into a bedroom for Sherlock when Molly began to develop curves and needed her own private space. The walls of the former study were now covered with maps of greater London and exotic animal-venom charts.

Her parents grew used to the awkward visits from the law, but they persevered. Despite the course of kindness they followed, Sherlock remained distant and cold to everyone but Molly.

At seventeen, he was remarkably brilliant, with razor sharp wit and observational skills. He might never be normal by most people's standards, but he was functional. Their warm-hearted daughter was his constant companion and erstwhile "lab assistant" when they experimented with her parents' power tools gleefully. Molly was a great judge of character, and her continued belief and accepting love of Sherlock reassured them they had made the right choice.

Though it was almost time to leave home for uni, she still slipped into Sherlock's bed some nights when his tossing and turning could be heard through the wall between them. The bed could barely hold the both of them now that they were almost grown. His long legs stretched so far, his feet hung off the bed and his toes were always ice-cold. He wouldn't speak but his trembling hands calmed when wrapped up in her own. His breathing would even out and he'd fall back into deep sleep.

They fell asleep with their breath mingling more times than she could count, and in the last few years, Molly often wondered what would happen if she crossed that boundary, closed the distance between their lips.

But the homeostasis was precious, and the stability hard-fought for. The distance remained between them.

In the weeks when the nightmares were truly terrible, he would forfeit sleep altogether and she would hear him plucking violin strings through the night.

"What do you see in your dreams? The bad ones, I mean," she asked one night. She slid under the covers, her knees bumping against his.

"Happy faces," he said without irony.

"Happy? Are you joking?" she whispered. Her voice seemed louder to her own ears, in the darkness.

He was silent for a moment. His grip tightened where their fingers were tangled together.

"It was worst when she was happy. Mostly she was…like me. Genetics, I told you. She read a lot, and wrote. She was distracted, not what you'd call affectionate. But some days, she would sing and laugh, and dance me around the kitchen, her head filled with ideas. She smelled like copper and salt and I didn't know what it meant. Later, when they came for us, I deduced, I understood…when she let go, when she could cut them, she was happy and free. She came home with a smile those days."

His hands had gone cold in hers and he shivered. Molly burrowed tighter against him, tucking her head into the crook of his neck, and ignoring the part of her brain that told her she wasn't doing it just to be nurturing.

He skimmed a tabloid while sipping his breakfast- a cup of black coffee. The stark bitterness of the drink made Molly's nose wrinkle. She slipped in sugar sometimes when he wasn't looking, just to see the look on his face when he encountered sweetness. He always gave her dirty looks for it, but she noticed that he no longer dumped out the coffee when she played that trick.

She didn't mess with his coffee this morning though. He almost vibrated with tension, and he looked especially disheveled, even for Sherlock. He still wore the baggy t-shirt he'd slept in, and his black jeans bore chemical stains and a questionable powder around the ankles.

"Aren't you going to shower at least, before school?" She twirled her fork in the puddle of egg yolk on her plate.

"Why?" he said, disinterestedly.

"Because you don't look-Sherlock, you have to look put-together, or they'll bother you. It's a sign, a symptom of some disorders if you have bad hygiene. We're graduating next month; don't draw attention now."

He frowned down at his clothing. "I don't care what they think. Or if I graduate."

"You have to if you want to go to uni," she protested. She was already packing, and had pictured Sherlock by her side in all the activities she had planned. It was the two of them in every dream she had; she couldn't imagine life any other way.

"I don't want to go to uni. You're going and I'm going with you. We could get a flat-share in town if I wasn't continuing studies," he said matter-of-factly.

"Well that's…nice," she said, cheeks growing pink. Despite their frequent touching, it was innocent (at least on his end, she thought) and he never expressed an affectionate word. Everything they were was unspoken and existed only in the comfortable quietness. It was nice to know he might need her, if only a little.

She squeezed his arm, and smiled gently. "You're too brilliant to not pursue chemistry further, and they've some criminology classes I think you'd like. At the very least, you could show off a bit. We'll be away from the people who know who you were, who she was. We'll be happy, I promise. We'll be in separate dormitories, but you know where to find me. Always."

Sherlock lasted a year before getting ejected for getting caught with a vial of cocaine on campus. He'd been up for two days, hiding out in a chemistry lab with an elaborate experiment in process, when a security guard noticed his shouting and erratic behavior. The discussion turned into a confrontation, with Sherlock giving the guard a black eye after the guard noticed the vial rolling on the ground in the scuffle.

Molly sat on her tiny dormitory bed weeping while Sherlock paced angrily about her room. He'd been escorted off campus already, but snuck back to inform her of what happened. He looked as though he'd been wearing the same clothes for a week, and his curly hair was a tangled mop.

"You can't go. When did this start? How could you, and not tell me?"

He froze in his tracks, and his glittering eyes fixed on her. He sniffed and wiped at his nose.

"What would you have said? 'Oh Sherlock,'" he mimicked in a rapid, high-pitched voice. "'Drugs are bad, here is a helpful pamphlet on the subject.' You have no idea what it's like to be inside my head. The constant rush of data, the ideas, the pressure in my skull. And then sleep comes and robs me of half the progress I make. I need to keep going. I cannot sleep." He dragged his hands through his hair and restarted his frantic pacing.

Watching the spectacle through tears, Molly realized with a start that he must still be high. The glassiness of his eyes, the runny nose, his uncombed hair and jitters. He was often high-strung, but usually in a focused, intelligent fashion. This was jagged and ugly, and it broke her heart.

She chewed on her bottom lip. "We'll talk to my parents. Dad's not been well- you'd know if you'd called or hadn't been avoiding me lately. He's going to see some doctors about it. But you could still go home and get clean there. They love you, even if you don't love them." She grabbed a handful of tissues, feeling like a fool for crying so easily. She wiped away the tears, and stood to grab Sherlock's shoulders, forcing him to stand still.

"Or if you want to go to another school, or to pursue another career instead, just tell me. I'm sorry I made you go to uni with me." She hugged him and felt his lean arms wrap tight around her. His ribs bumped against her chest and she realized he'd lost even more weight. With her overloaded biology study schedule, she hadn't noticed.

"Tell me what you really want, please."

"You didn't make me go to uni with you. I wouldn't have gone anywhere else," he murmured against her neck. She felt his lips moving against her skin and his angry energy fading. "It's not your fault I'm- this is who I am. It always was. I told you I'm not good. And you really have no idea what goes through my mind."

"I know you. I love you," she confessed, "Even if you can't love me and don't want to be around me much anymore. I can still be your friend when you need me."

"Your friend," he said tensely. "You really have no idea what I want from you, Molly." He lifted his head and his eyes blazed. He cupped her face, and Molly looked up at him in wonder.

"When that idiot guard took a swing at me, I could have killed him, I was so angry. I wanted to wrap my hands around his neck and shake him."

"Well that's not good…But you didn't. Most people want to hit something once in a while, I think. We choose not to. That doesn't make everyone evil. And cocaine can be a dangerous stimulant- it increases irritability and aggression. You've got to get help."

Sherlock shook his head and tilted his head until his forehead pressed against hers.

"I don't want help. You have no idea what I want from you," he repeated, and closed his eyes. "The things I think about." His breath was hot against her lips. His hands slid down over her shoulders and arm and squeezed her hips, pulling her flush against his body.

Molly's heart pounded and she waited. They were on the brink of something terribly important. A breaking point, a cliff, a dive into unfamiliar waters.

But he wasn't himself. She never wanted him to regret anything to do with her. She cleared her throat.

"Sherlock, you're on something, and maybe we should talk about what's going-"

His hands dropped and he backed away, the heat between them dissipating. His eyes were wild for a moment, and he ran his hands through his messy hair again. Without a word, Sherlock grabbed threadbare coat from the chair and ran out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

She kept expecting him to be lying in her bed dozing or reading whenever she returned from a lecture, but months passed and Sherlock had still not returned. There were rumors on campus he'd been spotted at a club where it was easy to score, but when Molly brought his photo there and asked around, the doorman grunted at her and shook his head.

None of his family had survived his mother's last mad onslaught. Sherlock was still at school when she realized the police were on their way and there was no way out for her.

The child of a headline-making monster earned curious stares but few friends. There was no one for him to turn to, nowhere to go. He had to be out there on the streets, and no one knew London better than Sherlock Holmes. He could be anywhere- the sewers, the train yards, the alleys where it was so easy to erase oneself with chemicals.

Six months after he disappeared, she worked up the courage to approach Sgt. Lestrade at the Met. There was a surprising new sprinkling of silver in his dark hair.

The policeman's worried eyes told her the answer before he even spoke. "I haven't seen him myself but I've heard he's using. Leave me your number. If I hear anything new, I'll give you a call. I'm sorry I can't help more. I tried."

"Why? Why did you try?" she found herself asking. She'd always wondered why he didn't write off the angry teenager the way everyone else but her family had.

"Oh. Well…where I come from, it's not so nice." He shrugged "And most of the fellas…no one ever gets out of that neighborhood, and that's what everybody tells them. If you tell people they can't ever be more than they are or what their parents were, they won't be." He smiled crookedly. "That sounded smarter in my head."

"Makes perfect sense to me." She sighed. "Thank you, sergeant. Keep in touch."

He was watching her. She felt his eyes on her and knew that he had returned from his three-year exile. Molly set her purse down on the folding chair, and crossed the grass to search him out. Among the copse of maple trees atop the knoll, she found him.

Sherlock's face had grown gaunter, if that was possible, and his narrow frame was engulfed in the black overcoat he wore. His cheekbones were cutting-sharp, and elegant as ever.

She expected to see shadows under his eyes and a wild stare, but found his gaze clear and steady. His black curls were unruly, but damp as though he'd come straight from a shower. Gone were the soiled jeans and wrinkled shirts; now he wore a simple tailored suit appropriate for the occasion.

"You're clean?" She'd meant to sound neutral but her voice was so hopeful, she felt a little embarrassed. "You…you look so good, Sherlock." And before she could stop herself, Molly threw her arms around his neck and pulled him close. He hugged her briefly before taking a step back to scan her face and form with a faint smile on his lips.

"Obviously. I'm still adjusting, but yes, I am clean. Lestrade gave me little choice in the matter," Sherlock explained with a touch of amusement, "When he found me and in a fit of madness, I agreed to rehab. Took three attempts but I believe it's stuck this time. You're looking tired. Lost twelve pounds, but that's not unexpected when one loses a parent."

A moment passed as they both remembered how skinny and hollow-eyed he'd been when he was brought to her house for the first time.

Molly's eyes welled up, and she fumbled for a tissue in her skirt pocket before realizing they were in her purse on the chair by the grave. She wiped her face with the back of her hand, and nodded.

"I suppose it was Lestrade then who told you about the funeral. Dad was so strong, stubborn. You remember. The chemo took him apart over and over, and the radiation nearly killed him, but he fought."

Sherlock nodded. "And now you're off to medical school, I see."

"You see? How? Oh sod it, you're still doing that deduction trick."

"It's not a trick, Molly," he chided her, but his eyes were warm. And though she'd been drowning in grief for months, saturated with the smell of death, she felt a tiny spark of happiness take hold inside her.

"How long have you been here? I was about to leave, actually. I was...taking a moment. It was hard to think about Dad when the other mourners were around. It was like a terrible stage play with lines to recite and roses to drop at a certain time. All I wanted was to be alone."

"Oh," Sherlock said stiffly. "I'll go."

"No! Not you. I meant them. It's different with you. I never have to explain, or talk at all." Molly slipped her hand into his. "There are probably a million conversations we should have but right now, I really want you to come back to my flat and just be with me, okay? Can we, um, can we do that?"


Neither bothered with polite chatter on the way to her place, and she didn't offer to give him a tour of the small flat she'd found near Barts. She forgot how good it felt to not have to pretend with anyone. Sherlock's lack of manners could hurt once in a while, but it was a sweet relief after dealing with people who tiptoed around her since her father's terminal diagnosis.

When night fell, Molly changed into her nightgown and left her bedroom door open. She left in the living room an old pair of her dad's pyjama bottoms for Sherlock to change into, and he offered no more than a raised eyebrow at the tacky orange fabric.

He slid under the covers, and their knees and toes bumped. She shivered with the coldness of his skin until her body heat kicked in and warmed him. Their fingers interlaced and their breath mingled and it was as though no time had passed at all.

In the morning she told him of the intervening years: her father's decline, her mother's struggle to adapt, and her own brutal comprehension of death, something she'd studied and thought she understood long ago.

"I've only begun to understand. I know that now. What are you going to do? Will you consider the police academy? I always thought you'd be brilliant at it. They need you," she added. Sherlock was susceptible to flattery, despite his protests to the contrary.

"Too many rules. I've helped Lestrade here and there with his cases. He doesn't realize it yet but he'll be a detective inspector within three years. The head of the Yard's homicide division was eyeing him in a way that was positively covetous."

Molly giggled over her coffee. "Are you sure that wasn't regular lust? He is quite dashing, you know."

"Don't be disgusting. He's old enough to be your father." Sherlock located her silverware drawer and found a spoon. He opened the sugar bowl and added two teaspoons to his coffee cup.

"He is not! Not unless he was a very young father, anyway." She smiled softly. As if she could even think of another man when Sherlock Holmes was in her flat and filling it with his dominating presence and entertaining deductions. "I'm only teasing, Sherlock."

"Clearly. Focus on your studies, not men. If I'm going to establish myself as a consulting detective, I'll need a top pathologist at my beck and call."

Molly kicked him under the table. "At your what?!"

"My call, anyway. No beck. Isn't it what you always dreamed? It is."


"Do you know your left eyelid twitches when you tell a complete lie?"

He roamed in and out of her life after that. She buried herself in her medical studies, leaving little time for other concerns. She had never been able to name what they were to each other, and she didn't obsess over it when she was overwhelmed with epidemiology and pharmacology. She gave him a key to her flat. He might vanish for weeks on a case or a boredom-inspired journey but eventually she would wake to find his body curled around hers.

What they were was undefinable, but every night their arms intertwined and Molly felt something needier in a base way building between them. She wanted him, and she felt the evidence of his attraction for her against her bum too many times when they cuddled at night. They couldn't go on as they were forever. They weren't children anymore.

I don't think he knows what to do. Great. Neither do I. What if I ruin it?

There were nightmares but fewer as time passed. After four months of occasional bed-sharing without a single nightmare, Molly believed he might be cured of the hateful dreams that plagued him.

She received a literal rude awakening when she was jolted out of sleep by landing on the floor. Her arm smacked into the end table, and the ensuing shriek finally woke the thrashing Sherlock on her bed.

He jumped off the mattress, his eyes blazing with fear and his hands clenched into fists. Spotting Molly on the floor, cringing and holding her forearm, Sherlock awoke fully.

He dropped to his knees and gathered her into his arms. "What did I do to you? Where?"

Molly shook her head, still dazed. "It's not bad actually. I was surprised- a little bump." She laughed. "I'm fine. Can we get back into bed? It's cold."

He scooped her off the floor, laid her back on the bed, and drew the blanket over her. He turned to walk out, but Molly grabbed his hand and yanked hard.

"No. I'm tired of you running. Get into this bed and you hold me and you stop pretending that it's so easy to just walk away from me all the time." Her voice cracked on the last words but she was desperately proud to have said something.

"I'm not good enough." The words were mumbled with his back to her, so softly she thought she'd misheard him.

"Say it again, please."

"Not good enough for you. Don't tell me it's not true. I know it is." His voice was low and raspy. "When I feel things, I do things. I'm no different than her."

She sat up in bed and turned on the lamp. "People act out when they're angry. They shout, or go play rugby, or they have a pint. It may not be nice but it's normal. You didn't hurt me on purpose; you were having a bad dream. Have you ever killed anyone?" Molly squeezed his hand.

"Of course not. But I could."

"Anyone could, Sherlock," she said wearily. "But we don't. You don't. You solve puzzles for your own pleasure, but you use your smarts to solve crimes. You could be out committing them. You are so good, it hurts. It hurts that you don't see that." She tugged on his arm. "Sit down."

He sat but kept his eyes trained on the wall. After a moment's silence, he turned to face her. "I stole when I was using. A lot. Still think I'm good?"

"You're a recovering addict. I'm not a doctor yet, but I know enough to know that is a very common story. People steal to feed the habit. It doesn't mean you can't live a good life now."

He sneered. "Platitudes. I'm not a child."

Molly snuggled up to his side, and he instinctively draped his arm around her shoulders. "You never were a child, Sherlock. That's not fair, but it's life. You're brilliant and beautiful and sometimes you're a pain, but you are no better or no worse than anyone else. Can you live with that?"

He shrugged and then turned to catch her eye. "You think I'm beautiful?"

"Do all geniuses require so much flattery?"

"I imagine so. Answer the question."

She smiled and shifted so she could reach up to slide her fingers through his hair. "Yes, you're beautiful. You have the most extraordinary eyes I've ever seen, and when I look at you for too long, it makes my chest ache."

"I have her eyes. Genetics."

She traced the edge of his cheekbone and the curve of his jaw. "One ingredient does not a pie make."

"Is that supposed to make sense?"

"I don't know, I'm half-asleep. Wait, yes, it does. A gene here and there, it doesn't determine the shape and the flavor, the end result. We're all made of flour, and water, and baking powder…ah."

Sherlock turned and tipped his forehead down to touch hers. "You should stop talking now."

She smiled and their lips were so close that he felt, rather than heard her words.

"You're a work in progress. You may not be very good yet, but…you could be. I believe it. Now come to bed."

She lost her train of thought completely when his mouth came down on hers at last. There was an entirely new arrangement to be discovered when they lay down on the bed, with their limbs tangled, and their lips moving together in gentle experimenting.

"I don't know if I can ever be the man that you want me to be or if I even want to be like that," Sherlock confessed as Molly kissed her way down his throat.

"I only ever loved the person you are," she said with a laugh, and kissed him until there was no more room for self-doubt.