Pairing(s): Molly Hooper/Greg Lestrade, Molly Hooper/Sherlock Holmes, Molly Hooper/Jim Moriarty, Molly Hooper/John Watson
Rating: T
Genre: Character Study / Introspection
Word Count: 2488
Warnings: Not Britpick'ed. Guilt-ridden sex.
Author's Notes: First fic I've written in the Sherlock fandom, and the first fic I've written in over a year. Please be kind to me! All feedback, especially concrit, are welcome.

Five Men Molly Hooper Loved (And One Who Stayed)

1. Her Father

Molly Hooper is an awkward child. She's a little chubby – not enough to be a health risk, but enough to be mocked by her schoolmates. Her vision is bad, and she wears clunky glasses with thick lenses. Her family isn't wealthy (far from it), so she doesn't have the best frames, the best accessories, the best things. None of that spells popularity at public school.

Her older sister, on the other hand, is everything she is not. She's pretty; the flat, lank hair Molly also inherited looks much better on a thinner frame. She has perfect vision and does well in school – though, of course, not too well and certainly without much effort. She likes dolls and clothes, and has imaginary tea parties with her dolls in their best clothes. Her mother understands her and adores her. Molly, on the other hand, likes stuffed toys and books (science fiction, fantasy and mystery, but especially all three in one), and imagines being a space cowboy with Mr. Bunbun, Ms. Kitty and Mr. Birdie. Her mother loves her too, but doesn't really understand.

Her father, on the other hand, does. He works as a morgue attendant by day at the local coroner's office, and sneaks Molly in at the age of twelve to observe an autopsy. Most little girls would find this traumatic, but Molly mostly finds it interesting how human bodies manage to pack so much in such a small space. She wonders aloud how different environmental conditions in the Sirius two-star system would change their biology, and her father laughingly tells her she better study hard then.

She does, and her father sneaks her into the morgue on weekends to see interesting cases and takes her camping and encourages her through bad days and bad grades not to give up, never to give up. Barriers are only made for people who don't want it enough, he tells her. Hard work is worth more than just being smart. Her dreams become more realistic over time and he cheers when she scrapes into University of East Anglia for medical school, her good interview making up for her comparatively low grades. She takes out loans to attend, and he frowns a little and gives her what he can to help. You don't have to help, she says, but he insists and pulls out most of his savings. You'll pay me back when you can, he says, I know you.

He turns out not to need it anyway because he never sees her graduate. She grieves for months and on graduation, takes a position in pathology because the morgue reminds her of Dad, of weekends spent examining the difference in lung tissue between smokers and non-smokers, the effects of professional athletics on a person's skeleton and of the cake shop they always went to after. She loves that you can tell so much, so much about a person's life from the body they leave behind.

2. Sherlock Holmes

When she first meets Sherlock Holmes, tailing into her morgue one day behind Detective Inspector Lestrade, she first thinks she's found a kindred spirit; someone who likes to solve the mystery of a person by looking at their body and who likes to experiment, a little, to find out more.

It takes her four minutes to realize that she's wrong. Sherlock isn't a kindred spirit – he's more. She can't really describe it, because while he likes solving mysteries and experimenting with bodies, he's better at it, faster, amazing. Molly can look at a body and with some examination, determine if they're a smoker or drug user, if they had any major health issues and sometimes, how they died. Sherlock can glance at a body and determine who they were in life, what they did, what they ate, what they liked to do. He knows how they died, and usually he knows who did it. And he can see these on living people too, living people and places and things. That's more than a little beyond what Molly can do, and Molly is fascinated, starstruck, tumbling into love.

It helps that Sherlock's quite a looker. She longs to run her fingers through his dark brown curls, stares at his steely gray eyes and sharp cheekbones when she can (usually when he's looking elsewhere), sneaks glances at his broad shoulders and fit form. She lets him, even watches him as he takes a whip to the John Doe in her morgue and as he sneaks home fingers and thumbs and eyeballs for god knows what reasons. She willingly acts as assistant when he asks, half to be with him and half out of pure scientific curiosity.

She finally dredges up her courage one day and puts on lipstick out in the hallway, wincing as Sherlock takes a riding crop to the latest body. This one isn't actually a John Doe, but a colleague who left his body to science. Molly figures leaving it to Sherlock is pretty much the same as leaving it to science, and besides, Sherlock had been so insistent on doing this particular experiment as soon as possible. She makes a nervous joke about his day, and as the conversation derails out of her control she blurts out "I was wondering if you'd like to have coffee?"

"Black, two sugars please," he says. "I'll be upstairs."

She's not an idiot, though she does get the coffee for him. She knows then that she doesn't really have a shot. When Watson comes along, the hopelessness of her crush is only more evident. John replaces her as Sherlock's assistant during experiments and while Sherlock can still flatter body parts out of her she knows she needs to give it up, needs to grow up, get over it and move on.

The knowledge doesn't hurt as much as she expected, because ultimately Molly loves Sherlock as a teenager loves a celebrity: distantly, passionately, and ultimately with an air of unreality.

3. Jim Moriarty

Of all reasons why Molly dates Jim Moriarty, the main reason is that he's real. She's older now, has grown out of the childhood weight and wears contacts instead of glasses, but a part of her will always be that insecure, chubby, spectacled little girl and she dreams about that perfect romance. Jim fits that. He contacts her on her blog and compliments her, of all things, on her nose. It's a cute nose, he says, and while she's never really thought so before, she's charmed.

He's sweet and shy and awkward, but so is she. They sneak out of work and have coffee, where Jim is a perfect gentleman and always pays. She finds flowers from him one day at work – nothing special, nothing like roses or anything, but lilies are nice too and it is nice. They text each other late at night, with nothing serious, and Jim comes over to watch Glee with her. He's fit, but not too fit, clever, but not too clever, and he's real. Looks-wise, he's about what Molly expects she can get, and he's romantic. Molly likes that.

They sleep together, a few times. Jim is careful, hesitant, and Molly consents about four or five times before he acquiesces. She doesn't think much of it at the time. Jim cares about her, she thinks, he just wants to be sure that she's really okay with this. She's had a few relationships over the years – sex isn't new to her – but the caution he takes in getting consent is sweet.

Everything changes when Sherlock tells her Jim is gay. Sherlock's never wrong, but Molly tries to ask Jim about it anyway. He's avoiding her, though, so she posts desperately on her blog apologizing and asking him to call her. She never receives a response.

Detective Inspector Lestrade appears at her door a few days later. She knows Lestrade from her work at the morgue, both with Sherlock and without, and they're friendly. "Can I come in?" he asks, his face solemn. "Police business."

She lets him in, and her world spins wild.

4. Dr. John H. Watson

Molly is traumatized by the Jim Business, as she calls it. Molly has never been an idiot, never, and how was it that she was so thoroughly, completely fooled? She picks up several canisters of mace one day, keeps one by her door at home, one in her handbag, one in the lab. Even in St Bart's, when she leaves for the canteen, she tucks a canister into her pocket.

She goes back to hero-worshipping Sherlock, knowing it won't come to anything. It's not love, not really, because if her regard were ever returned she would run for the hills. She worships Sherlock almost out of habit now, because it reminds of a time before Jim and she likes to forget about Jim, when she can. When Moriarty resurfaces and Sherlock asks for her help in falsifying his death, she agrees at once. She cares about John and Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade, and she cares about Sherlock, but ultimately she helps because she knows what Moriarty is capable of and she knows the lengths he'll go to in achieving his ends. The idea of Jim Moriarty being out there, free, plotting crime, is more than she can stand.

She falsifies the records and declares Sherlock dead. Two things, Molly, he says, as she helps him cut and dye his hair in her bathroom, as he uses contacts to colour his eyes. Let no one know I am alive. And take care of them.

He disappears, and Molly attends the funeral, stone-faced. The emotions on display that day trigger something in her, and she lets a few tears fall. Sometimes, wrapped in the grief of others, even Molly forgets that Sherlock isn't truly dead. She says nothing to anyone, and wrapped in grief and guilt and worry, begins dropping by 221B Baker Street more often.

John is lost without Sherlock, a ship without anchor or port, sleeping far more than necessary for the first few weeks. Molly brings him meals, stores them in the refrigerator, cleans up Sherlock's old experiments so John doesn't need to see them. They don't talk, John wallowing in silent grief and Molly drowning under the weight of her secrets.

It's not a surprise when she finds herself in bed with him. John "Three Continents" Watson has always been popular with women, and Molly is no exception. She knows, between long, sensuous kisses and rough touches that John is seeking connection, distraction, solace. She knows it's not really about love, and more than that she knows it's temporary. Sherlock will come back, and John will go back to him, and she's only borrowing him for a time. She lets John love her, lets him find solace in her, out of mixed caring and guilt and sorrow. John lets her forgive herself, if only temporarily, for her role in Sherlock's deception. The sex only lasts a few months, long enough for John to put the pieces of his life back together and long enough for Molly to begin forgiving herself for what she's done to him.

When Sherlock resurfaces, eighteen months later, John is furious.

5. Detective Inspector Gregory Lestrade

The fallout from Sherlock's apparent death affects Lestrade as much as it does John. At Scotland Yard, it's bedlam. There's a public enquiry, and Lestrade works dozens of hours of unpaid overtime to prepare five years' worth of his cases for review. Sally Donovan, of all people, turns out to be the team's saviour, her meticulous and seemingly unbiased notes forming the backbone of each case. Molly spends hours with him reviewing autopsy records for error, partially for his sake and partially for her own. After all, some of those cases are hers too, even if she doesn't have quite as much to lose.

The hours of overtime they put in clearing their names, the testimony they present under oath, the shared worry about their careers brings them together. Molly learns about Lestrade – Greg, she calls him now – about how he always eats his pizza backwards (Because the crust is the worst, and you always save the best for last), about his love of hiking (It's great to get London out of your lungs) and about his troubled marriage (She cheats, you see). Molly tells him over long nights spent pouring over old cases about weekend camping trips with her dad, about her kitten, Toby, who crawls on her face in the mornings and even about Jim, about how he was so nice to her until he, well, wasn't. The only secret between them is Sherlock's.

The day Ellen leaves, Molly is the first to know. "I'm getting divorced," he says, staring without seeing at the reports of an apparent drive-by shooting he handled two years ago. "Christ, I'm getting divorced."

The enquiry lasts nearly half a year, half a year of greying hair and eighty-hour weeks and three-shot espressos. All of their cases, all of Sherlock's cases, are solid and no enquiry in the world can find anything Greg does wrong. He is fully reinstated and begins taking new cases, but it's clear his superiors don't trust him anymore. He keeps working overtime hours, and Molly keeps bringing him those espressos on her way home from work and double, triple checking the autopsy results.

When Sherlock resurfaces, triumphant, Greg is the first to forgive her. "You actually knew Moriarty, better than I or John or anyone but Sherlock," he says, matter-of-fact. "Of course I wish I had known, but it wouldn't have changed anything. There would still have been an enquiry, we would still have had to act like he's gone, and Ellen would still have left. In keeping your secrets, you might have saved all our lives, and so I can't really be angry. John will come around eventually."

Molly nearly breaks down in relief, because over the last eighteen months, Gregory Lestrade has become her best friend, her closest confidante. They have dinner together, when their schedules can manage it, get drunk on bad wine together when his divorce is finalized, watch reruns of Doctor Who together on Molly's ancient box-shaped telly. When one day Greg's arm slides around her shoulders, she's flattered.

Molly loves Greg because he's straightforward. He'll follow a trail wherever, once he has the scent of it, and he believes in his work with a pure, predictable idealism. He's not smart, the way Sherlock is, but he works hard and Molly finds she likes that more. He's not romantic, either, not in the way Jim pretended to be, and Molly is all too happy about that. Greg is a solid, trusting bulwark upon which Molly feels safe resting. A year or so later, when Greg asks her casually if she'd like to move in with him, Molly agrees.