As this story begins, I just want you to keep in mind that not everything is as it seems. Sherlock's going to be a prick in the beginning and Molly is going to have developed a backbone. Each character has their own reason for their actions. I am trying out a different characterization of Molly and Sherlock, so there's your warning about potential OC-ness. I've been wanting to do a story about Molly refocusing her life after a near death experience for quite a while, but only recently found the guts to write it. I'm sure the idea's been done before, but hopefully I'm able to make it sound reasonably interesting. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1 - The Lives of Others
"Sherlock, mind if I ask you something?"
The curly haired man gave a dramatic sigh, but otherwise, kept his eyes glued to the microscope lens.
"It's about Molly," John elaborated, throwing a brief glance at the woman's deserted desk.
"What about Molly?" Sherlock drawled, tone not overly concerned, eyes squinted.
"Have you noticed something different about her?"
John's eyebrows rose slightly.
"You're sure, mate?"
The lack of empathy in his voice bothered John more than he let on. Granted, the consulting detective could be an unemotional git towards anyone, but Molly wasn't just anyone anymore. The pathologist risked her working career to carry out his fake death and for a full year, offered him shelter in her own home. That made her not only someone they could indefinitely trust, but a true friend.
And the last thing John wanted to see was Sherlock resort back to indifference when it came to Molly Hooper. She meant too much to them both to be ignored or brushed off.
"Sherlock, when's the last time you've looked at her?" he continued, tone firmer. "I mean truly looked. There's something off about her."
"Molly's just fine."
"How could you possibly know? You've been ignoring her ever since you've made your public entrance back into the world."
Sherlock finally tore himself away from the microscope to peer at his friend.
"I say hello. She says hello back. There's nothing more that needs to be said."
"She saved your life," John pointed out. "Are you really going to keep treating her to just a hello? Blimey, you're more emotionally distant towards her now than you were prior to your suicide."
The detective's jaw tightened slightly, but it didn't keep him from a response.
"Why does this even matter? We're both at an understanding. She knows the part she's played and I'll be eternally thankful for her assistance. Nothing more needs to be said. Now will you drop it and allow me to get back to discovering how a pathogen normally habitable to West Africa, managed to be slipped into the stomach contents of an elderly woman from Yorkshire who's too weak to so much as walk up her own stairs?"
"Fine," John caved in, shaking his head. "Forget it then. But this isn't right. Blowing her off. I think there's something going on with her. Gut feeling."
Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Most likely, she's got a new boyfriend."
"New boyfriend?" John repeated.
"Obviously," Sherlock deduced sharply. "She's back to wearing velvet lipstick and an atrocious amount of perfume far too mature for her. All last week, she played around with hair styles. Not exactly sure what he likes, trying a bit of everything to impress him. If her mobile goes off in the middle of an autopsy, she waits no more than five minutes before texting back. Unprofessional, but shows a growing attachment."
The doctor didn't reply immediately, lost in his own thoughts.
"Though," the detective added, "knowing her former relationships, I doubt this one will last past a month."
At this, John frowned. Not just at the statement, but the almost smug way Sherlock voiced it.
"Considering the risks she took to help you, I thought you'd be happy for her."
"Why waste the energy?"
And with that, Sherlock spun back to the mircoscope, eyes focused on his work.
"Christ, Sherlock, that's cold. Even for you."
"You sound offended."
"I am. You should be too. Molly's your friend."
"I don't have-."
"Yes you do," John interrupted. "You have friends. You know you do."
Sherlock made an undefinable noise at the back of his throat.
"Look...all I'm asking is that you take a look at her yourself-."
"-I mean her eyes," John specified tiredly. "Look at her eyes. They're normally bright and full of passion. Lately, they've been lacking it."
"Easy deduction for you. She's depressed."
"But you said she has a boyfriend."
"Doesn't mean he isn't a depressing boyfriend."
"She answers all his texts during work."
"Might be responding because she knows he doesn't like being ignored. Probably thrown a fit already."
"Could he be dangerous?"
"Don't know, don't care. Molly's business, not mine."
At this, John couldn't keep his mouth from opening.
"Since when have you not concerned yourself with Molly's business?"
"Contrary to popular belief, my mind does not constantly orbit Planet Molly."
"Not what I was getting at. I mean if you saw a potentially bad situation coming, you'd warn her immediately. Even if it wasn't in the politest of ways."
"You just said-."
The detective released an agitated sigh, pulling himself away from the microscope once more.
"Has it ever ocurred to you that you might be misinterpreting what you're seeing? Admittedly, depression is a bit drastic when it comes to Molly Hooper. And as far as I can tell, she's been her normal, annoyingly chipper self."
"Then you haven't been looking at her properly. You of all people, Sherlock, can look past a mask and see someone's true self. Something's happened in Molly's life recently that's changed her. Just a gut feeling I can't shake. Which is why I was hoping to get a bit of insight from you."
"Nothing's changed," he assured neutrally.
"But you don't know that!" John protested. "You're refusing to look at her. Properly look at her. Not see, but observe. Your words."
"Yes, I understand my own advice, thank you," Sherlock bit back.
"Then why are you ignoring what I'm saying?"
"Because I have lived with Miss Hooper for a full year and know her pattern of life like the back of my own hand. Though, I'd say the back of my hand is a tad more interesting. She's kept the same routine for the past two months, John. Still brings me coffee like before, still makes deplorable attempts at small talk - though in the past month, I'm happy to admit those attempts have substantially decreased, still helps me with my work, and still wears an overly optimistic smile each day. If anything momentous was to occur in Molly Hooper's life, I would be able to tell because she wouldn't have such a bloody repetitive schedule!"
He finished his rant with a pointed glare, clearly not wanting to continue the subject.
And John would have obliged had he not been so utterly puzzled by Sherlock's reaction to his own concern.
"Sherlock...did anything...happen between you and Molly while you were living with her?"
It's the only assumption he could draw considering Sherlock's dismissiveness towards the pathologist and his avoidance of speaking about her directly. This sort of behavior indicated something had happened in their working relationship. Something that clearly made Sherlock disassociate himself from Molly's life almost completely.
Briefly, John wondered if perhaps it was in the sexual nature. Molly had been in love with Sherlock for as long as he could remember. Sharing your living space with the individual you were infatuated with could possibly have bred some unlikely situations. Situations where someone who wasn't prepared for it, might say or do things that forever crippled the already comfortable relationship at work.
This is Sherlock, John harshly reminded himself. I'm not exactly sure he'd even know what to do if Molly decided to put the moves on him.
The longer Sherlock kept up his silence, however, the more John believed himself to be somewhat close to the truth.
"Don't be preposterous," Sherlock finally answered. "Your assumptions are clouding your judgement. Nothing occurred between Miss Hooper and myself. Ask her for yourself if you think something is so terribly wrong."
John closed his mouth, knowing this was as much he was going to get from the man on the subject.
So, he let Sherlock's attentions fall back to the microscope, internally debating with himself whether he should just ask Molly if anything was wrong. He could be, just as Sherlock pointed out, misinterpreting what he was seeing.
Just as this thought drifted through his head, the morgue doors flew open.
"Ah, Lestrade," Sherlock acknowledged, not looking up from his workplace. "Do tell me there is another case on it's way. This one is growing tedious and ungodly transparent."
The Detective Inspector momentarily ignored the request, eyes scanning Molly's vacant desk.
"Would either of you happen to know where Molly is?"
"When I called earlier, she said she'd be in by noon," John answered helpfully.
"Right. Well, will you have her get in contact with me immediately? I think she'll be relieved to know we got the bastard."
At this, John's eyebrows rose inquisitively.
"Since Sherlock's sitting behind me, I don't assume you mean him. What bastard are we talking about?"
Lestrade gave him a small smile.
"Who's Pete Morris?"
When he was met with John's blank stare, Lestrade's smile wavered. Wordlessly, he glanced between the detective and the doctor, seemingly debating something.
"I thought Molly had told you two," he finally confessed. "She assured me she had."
"Told us what?"
This time, Sherlock's baritone voice demanded the answer, though his eyes hadn't yet strayed from the study before him.
"God this is awkward," he mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck. "Er, about a month ago after a graveyard shift, Molly returned to her flat in the middle of a robbery. Bloke's name was Pete Morris. Instead of leaving, he...made himself at home, so to speak. Molly's never specified how long of a time period it was that he stayed, but he held a gun to her the entire time. Probably would have killed her had she not managed to escape and lock herself in the bathroom to call us. Bastard was gone before we got there."
"Oh my God," John gasped, feeling his insides twist.
"That night, I talked to her," Lestrade continued, his face flushing slightly. "She assured me she'd tell you all about it the next morning. Needed a proper night to digest it all. Few days later, said you two were too busy to track down the man. And I do specifically remember the week she's talking about. The cases were overwhelming with that crime spree tearing through the city. After that week was over, she just told me it didn't rank high enough as an interesting investigation for you two. Said Sherlock practically fell asleep while she recited it to him."
"Molly is our friend," John scoffed. "How could you think we'd ever react that way? Even Sherlock, for as much as he does hate dull cases, wouldn't ignore the chance to help her after something so traumatic happened."
"I did think it a bit odd," he admitted. "But Molly was very adamant in her belief that it was an unnecessary case for you two. By this time, she was behaving like her old self. Remarkable, really, to have bounced back so fast. Said she didn't want to take advantage of you two just because you were her friends. Police could actually do their jobs without running to Sherlock every single time. And...knowing you, Sherlock, and your desire for an interesting case, I let myself believe her. I never thought she was lying."
A stagnant silence followed his declaration in which John tried to process all this new information while Sherlock's eyes remained trapped downwards, though it wasn't the specimen he was staring at.
"I'm sure she had a good reason to not tell you," Lestrade inserted hopefully. "Her experience isn't exactly one she could freely tell anyone who asked. Plus, the fact that he'd been a man might also have made her hesitate."
Neither detective nor doctor uttered a word.
"Well...if you could tell her to get in contact with me, that'd be really good. It was a personal request on her part for me to tell her when we got him. I think she'll sleep better at night."
"Of course," John nodded forcefully.
With that, the tension ever so leisurely disassembled as the Detective Inspector shuffled out of the room.
In the minutes after, John tried to control his tongue. He really did.
But he couldn't quite manage it in the end because he felt an honest to god anger towards the consulting detective.
"Still sure she's just fine?"
"Coming over tonight then, Molls?"
Said girl pressed her mobile closer to her ear with a strained shoulder, steering around a hallway.
"Course I am. Why wouldn't I?"
"You're working pretty late. I don't want you dead on your feet."
"That's actually funny. A pathologist dead on her feet. You should write comedies."
"Natural born gift, mum always said. But seriously, if you're not up for it, we can reschedule."
"Bollocks. I'm not letting my job prevent me from having a good time."
"That's great to hear. I've gotta say that I'm totally loving this new you. All of a sudden, you're not afraid to take risks. Don't know what got into you, but I'm happy it did. Can't keep yourself locked up in that morgue your entire life."
Molly's smile faltered upon recalling just exactly what incident had led her to the current carefree nature she was exhibiting.
No, Molly, you are not going to get upset about it again. You are not going to be paralyzed by that bloody fear like you were that night.
"Was I really that bad?" she inquired.
"I didn't even know you were still living in London until you phoned last month! Took me by surprise to see your sudden willingness to finally live for once. Honestly, from the few times we spoke, I recall you being married to your work and infatuated with that arrogant bloke, Sherlock Holmes. In between that, you never took care of yourself."
Though the admission was a bit difficult to hear, Molly couldn't deny its truthfulness. She'd been mousy, insecure, and mostly kept her priorities centered around her work. A stark contrast to the confident, adventurous, and witty person she always knew she was, but never allowed herself to be.
Why is that?
Well, her line of work certainly dampened down her adventurous spirit. And when one worked mostly alone, they could tend to forget that they're actually capable of witty banter and speech with living people.
How about the confidence, Molly? How'd that one disappear? What crevice in your chest did that one saunter off to?
A part of it had to do with how life hadn't really accelerated anywhere fascinating after she'd turned thirty, three and a half years ago. She still worked with the dead, still sat alone in her flat with only a feline for company, and still remained glaringly single. Equipped with a plain face, she wasn't exactly a magnet for suitors. And the ones who did stick around were either eventually turned off by her profession or were complete nutters.
Yes, we're thinking about Jim, aren't we? Such a shame since he was a bloody fantastic snogger. Though, that'd be good critieria to write down on a dating site. Shy pathologist seeking mind-numbing kisser. Preferrably mental.
She nearly laughed at her own morbid humor, but refrained after passing by some rather grumpy looking nurses.
What's the other part of it, Molly? We're not going to ignore such a momentous force in our life, are we?
She never could when it came to Sherlock Holmes. The man who could simultaneously make her understand with a rare, vibrant clarity why every romance novelist wrote about love with such a compelling passion, before completely puncturing that euphoric revelation seconds later with a few cutting remarks.
Oh sure, one at a time, they'd been easy to fight off. Her undying admiration for his intellect and attraction to everything from his soul searing eyes to fit bum helped keep that smile bright and uncompromised.
But having to put up with the man you loved treating you like nothing repeatedly over a stretch of two years, while also ingoring the fact that he is detached enough to manipulate your emotions without so much as caring what those compliments do, so far as his needs are met, eventually grounds away at the marble confidence a girl can have.
To put it simply, Sherlock was an equal amounts blessing as he was a curse. Despite the storm each could ravage upon her heart, she had been undeniably hooked.
Not that any of these realizations had hit her at the time. That she was being treated poorly. Well, except the infamous Christmas party. In that illustrious moment, all her frustrations had bubbled out of her like a pot of water that's been left on the stove too long.
His apology soothed her fury of course and eventually, she'd been back to passive Molly.
You thought things were finally going to change when he asked for help. When he claimed you mattered. Look what you did, Molly. You saved his life without asking for anything in return. You gave your trust and nurtured his semi-broken self as his ego and mind recuperated. Now, what was your gift in exchange? Ah, yes, a cold departure after finally declaring your love to him. Upstanding man, isn't he? To skirmmish off at the first sign of something honest and beautiful in his grasp.
Molly internally shuddered, wondering why her inner voice was beginning to sound a lot like Jim.
"Are you still with me?" came a shriek into her ear cavity.
Shaking her head, Molly murmured an apology into her cell, relieved when her eyes finally settled on the double doors to her lab.
"Sorry, Cass. My mind was at a Pink Floyd concert."
"Well I hope it's safely landed back by tonight. You gonna bring Noah along?"
Shifting her coat and bag to her right arm, Molly pulled open the morgue's door.
Once she slipped inside, her eyes immediately looked for John and Sherlock, just remembering she'd allowed them full access to the lab earlier in the morning.
Upon finding both both their forms angled towards her, but not observing their expressions, she mouthed a silent hello and offered a hasty wave before turning to walk to her desk.
"I'll try to bring him, but he does get bored easily. Chatting mindlessly over drinks isn't exactly his idea of a good time."
"Well too bad. Boyfriend's duty is to participate in relationship things."
"It's not all bad," Molly insisted, draping her coat and bag across her desk. "He's just having a hard time adjusting to doing domestic things. Used to live the life of a full time bachelor."
"Until you, Molly Hooper, finally tamed him."
Unable to keep back a light blush, Molly grinned down at her feet.
"That's a strong word. I'd like to think I expanded his options."
"And in turn, he expanded your legs. Comfortable exchange, I'd say."
Molly couldn't keep back her chuckle, remembering all over again why she loved Cassie's lecherous sense of humor.
"I've got to go. I'm at work."
"Fair enough. But I'm expecting to get properly sloshed with you tonight. And Noah. Prepare to spend the night."
"Be there 'round eleven. Bye."
With that, Molly slipped the phone into her bag. When it came to work, she needed focus. Something she learned she wasn't all too good at doing if Noah kept texting her.
Buttoning up her lab coat, Molly glanced up with a relaxed smile.
"Hi, John. Sherlock," she cheerily addressed, glancing between the doctor and the broody looking detective. "How's the case going? Solved it already, I bet."
Neither replied, but Molly didn't let this deter her mood. That was another thing that had been key in her recent metamorphosis from who she'd been a month prior. She couldn't let a lack of a warm response from the duo get her down, Sherlock in particular. She'd been on that road already, eagerly anticipating every response the detective would have, taking it so much to heart.
That wasn't a way to live and appropriately enough, she'd crashed and burned as a result.
So, she made her way over to the slab, eying the body bag before her, curious as to who the first unfortunate victim of the day would be.
"Hm?" she hummed, reading over the information regarding forty-three year old Robert Noonan.
Pulmonary aspiration. Too much salt water in the lungs, drowned probably on holiday. Wow, certainly no mercy here. Had severe ashtma. That's the topping on the cake, isn't it?
She studied the man with a grimace, unable to keep that ever present sympathy from briefly taking over.
Don't think about family. You know that depresses you.
"Yes?" she mumbled, rolling on a pair of latex gloves.
"Lestrade stopped by," John informed.
After both gloves were comfortably molded to her hands, Molly looked up.
Only then did she finally take in the expressions covering each man's face.
John appeared trepidatious while Sherlock eyed her with such malice that she momentarily thought about apologizing to him for whatever it is she did.
Pull yourself together, Molly. You're a grown woman. Cowering just because he's moody is exactly what lead to your confidence disappearing.
"What did he want?" she asked curiously, still maintaining a smile despite their severe looks.
"Nothing outrageously important," Sherlock interjected darkly, shooting her an unnerving glare. "Just wanted to let you know Pete Morris, the man who meant to create a mural on your wall composed of your brain matter, is in custody."
Molly felt her smile freeze at not just the frost in his voice, but the anger she now visibly saw in the tautness of his jaw and angles of his cheeks.
To put it lightly, Sherlock Holmes looked properly pissed off.
The need to apologize grew expansively, but Molly firmly clamped down her teeth, not submitting to the impulse.
Most of the conversations you've had with Sherlock have consisted of you constantly apologizing for things that either you can't help or things that were never his business in the first place. Maintain your backbone, damn it. He stopped being a part of your life the moment he ran.
And like a rubber ball smacking off cement, Molly plastered a smile on her face, tapping into the actual relief she felt upon hearing the good news.
"Okey-dokey," she concluded. "You two will probably see Greg sooner than I do. Give him my thanks, won't you?"
With that, she snapped her attentions away from a gaping John and puzzled Sherlock, intent on getting to know the inner workings of Robert Noonan.
It's a bit different, I know, but I'm being lead by a leash in this general direction in which Molly doesn't cave in so easily and for once, thinks of her own happiness. And to specify if I didn't make it clear in this chapter, in the year Molly housed Sherlock, she did eventually come to proclaim her love to him, wanting liberation and hoping internally he felt the same way. But he instead leaves and finally announces his presence to the public, leaving their relationship in awkward shambles. A month passes by of him treating her coldly before she walks into her flat and into the path of Pete Morris. I'll get to her revelation and time with him later on. But that night changes everything for her, including this new air of confidence she has to live and decision to not be so hung up on Sherlock Holmes. I do hope that wasn't a complete bore to read. And I actually have a huge question for any who are reading this regarding what happens after the last episode of S2. I've read various stories in this fandom and have found authors writing about such things as Molly's cat - Toby, Jim's love for the tv show Glee, the period of time Molly housed Sherlock, Sebastian Moran being an evil git, etc. From what I've read, these things seem like common knowledge, but where exactly can I find this information? I may have just missed this information in the show or is this just widely accepted of how things probably went down? Is there an episode I've missed besides the six I've seen? Honestly, I'm just going partly from what I've picked up on and what I'm assuming myself. If someone could answer my inquiries, I'd be very thankful. Otherwise, let me know your thoughts in a review.