A/N: All my devotion and love to MizJoely for yet another wonderful beta job (you've no idea what a mess this was before she straightened it out). She even managed to chase the angels out. This is a prompt was written for Nocturnias, whose prompt was: If anyone had told Sherlock Holmes a year ago that one day he would be making out with Molly Hooper, he would have given them a scathing look and told them not to be ridiculous. I took it and ran. This baby should max out at four chapters. I hope.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Sherlock Holmes on the Subject of Not Actually Dating
If anyone had told Sherlock Holmes a year ago that one day he would be making out with Molly Hooper, he would have given them a scathing look and told them not to be ridiculous. Molly was, and remains, the single most competent forensic pathologist in all of Great Britain; in fact, Sherlock is almost entirely convinced he could search the world over and never find another that would match her skills. Far from being merely tolerant of Molly, as he is of most people that drift into his presence, Sherlock respects her.
It may even be said, and not denied, that he likes her. They are friends, after a fashion. They share intimate details of their lives in the lab, over cultures and slides and blood analysis. Sherlock faked his death, and Molly helped. For three years she was his home base, a comfort and a blessing in a world gone mad, where Sherlock was nothing more than a shadow and a ghost. She traveled halfway around the world to patch him up, to help keep him sane, more times than Sherlock likes to recall during the three years he was 'dead.'
And in the year since his return, she has been an ever-present, quietly solid rock of normality. Through John's courtship and engagement and marriage, through Sherlock's tantrums and sulks and lost drifting through 221B as he attempted to adjust to a new normal (he loathes changes in the structure of his life), Molly has never been far away. She pulls him out of his fits of angst and always somehow manages to make him eat, just a little, even when he's adamant that he wants nothing. During cases, when he's absorbed in tearing the mystery apart, in finding every clue and hidden angle, she'll ruffle a hand through his hair before curling up to sleep on his sofa, forgoing a trip to her own flat. (She spends so little time there, Sherlock has toyed with the idea of asking her to move in with him. It would be nice, and would certainly put John's mind more at ease. His blogger is such a worrier, and for no reason, honestly.)
Through all of these things and more (tucking her under a blanket or his Belstaff when he realizes she's sleeping on the sofa again, clutching her hand as they race down a side street, eager to find John and share their revelations, sharing quiet companionship over an open corpse), Sherlock never imagined snogging Molly. Well. He never imagined it would happen.
His thoughts had been fleeting and not dwelt upon for any length of time. Foolishness, the whole thing was. Right up until moments ago, when Molly perched on the edge of his kitchen table (a cooler of several severed feet just behind her), her legs swinging idly as she spoke.
"I can't stay in with you tonight," she'd said, eyes soft with apology. Her mouth was set in the firm line that told Sherlock no amount of flattery, whining, or what Molly called a 'tantrum' (they are not tantrums, but loudly objective discourses), was going to change her mind. "I've got a date with Craig."
"Another? Molly, you're an intelligent woman, surely you have better things to do with your time than swanning off with an imbecile whose highlight in life is going to some bloody football match, before later getting pissed and sticking his hand up your shirt." Scowling, eyes narrowed behind his goggles, Sherlock gestures emphatically to the cooler hidden behind her. "Our experiment will be much more interesting!"
"Have you ever considered that I like having someone stick their hand up my shirt?" Feet still swinging back and forth, causing her (shorter than usual) skirt to ride up her thighs, Molly wears an expression of good humored resignation. "Not everyone has chosen a life of celibacy."
"You would rather have an appalling, boring conversation about Geoff's work inside a cubicle where brain cells go to die –"
"Craig, Sherlock. Geoff was months ago."
"Craig, Geoff, who bloody well cares? The point is, you're too good for sex, Molly. It's fleeting and boring and not worth your time. Stay and work with me. Much more stimulating, I promise you."
"Oh, Sherlock," Molly sighs, and Sherlock has heard that tone perhaps a thousand times from her and John and even Lestrade. It speaks volumes on their thoughts and perception of him; it clearly says that there are some things not even the great Sherlock Holmes understands. And it drives him mad – especially when it comes from Molly. "I'll see you at work tomorrow. Students are coming in, you can impress and frighten them alike. Maybe even make them cry, bully them a bit, you do enjoy that."
She's coddling him. How infuriating.
"I won't sleep tonight," he snaps, tense with frustrated anger. "You know that. Stay here, you can have my bed while I work." He doesn't like an empty flat, not after being alone for those three years. He craves company, Molly and John and Mrs. Hudson, even Lestrade. He needs it. It's weak and foolishly human, and he wouldn't dare admit it aloud, but it's true. He thought Molly knew this.
She sighs again, the very same as before. Her expression is...sad. "I don't plan on coming home alone," she says plainly, though a flush rides high on her cheeks and across her upturned nose. "I'll be staying at my flat."
The rage boils up and over so quickly Sherlock can barely contain himself. Ripping his goggles off, he hurls them blindly over his shoulder, wishing John's handgun was still here. He'd like to shoot something. Craig, preferably.
Drastic measures are in order. Molly's time is becoming to eaten up by foolish idiots, and all because of her need to have her sexual urges satisfied. (It wasn't her want of companionship, of this Sherlock was certain; she spent the vast majority of her time with him, had become incredibly close to John, and Mary Morstan-Watson was always dragging her out for some girls night of wine and chocolate and sometimes even dancing.) The idea has been in Sherlock's mind for months, now; if he can provide Molly the sexual stimulation she desires, he won't have to share her.
It will be an inconvenience, will detract from the time they could spend in more worthy pursuits, but sacrifices must be made. (Sherlock remains, quite aware of all he is willing to give up for those he cares for.) Though never having entertained more than passing thoughts of sex, and a few months of obsessed self-experimentation and fantasying as a teenager, Sherlock is a quick learner. His lack of experience will, in the end, benefit Molly. He will learn what she likes, the quickest way to achieve the physical satisfaction she desires.
The most logical solution is always the most appealing. And this, Sherlock knows, is the only logical choice he has.
"This arrangement is no longer acceptable, Molly. I can't have you going off with – with morons that are all sweaty hands and not even half a brain cell to themselves. Not when I need you here. If it will end your attempts at –" a sneer full of such loathing it is almost palatable – "dating, I will satisfy your sexual needs."
Sherlock truly and honestly expects Molly to swoon or shriek or at least chatter with nervous excitement at him. He's always known she fancies him, finds him physically attractive, as well as being drawn to his mind. So when Molly blinks, exactly twice, mouth forming a perfect 'O' of shock before she bursts into laughter, Sherlock is properly astounded.
And not half offended.
"What about the proffered arrangement is so amusing?" he asks stiffly, while Molly sputters and snorts, nearly toppling off the cluttered table.
"I'm sorry, Sherlock, it's a – a very sweet offer – but you? You and sex?" A new gale of laughter. Tears glitter on Molly's eyelashes.
Sherlock practically goes up in flames of angry embarrassment.
"I am a male, Molly. You have always found me attractive. I do not see why you find this anything less than acceptable."
"Because it's you," she breathes, scrubbing a hand across her face. "Oh, Sherlock, I know you mean well, but – but you'd have about as much enjoyment in it as a cat would a surprise bath. I know that. You have no interest or desire in shagging, much less shagging me, and I'm okay with that. But you're going to have to accept that I'm going to date. Okay? It doesn't mean I don't enjoy working with you, or am any less of your friend, but I'm not going to stop just so you don't have to share me."
Slipping off the table to her feet, wiping a few more tears of amusement from under her eyes, Molly is clearly making ready to leave. She reaches out, fondly patting his stomach, before attempting to step around his imposing (and angrily vibrating) figure. "I'll see you tomorrow, Sherlock. Try not to set the flat on fire while I'm gone, and –"
"I could." Speaking tersely, Sherlock takes Molly arm, stopping her before she can pass him by. He scowls straight ahead, uncomfortable with the slow burn of a blush staining his neck and creeping upwards into his face (how unlike him), unwilling to drop the subject to sulk for a few weeks before moving on with life. Now that he has entertained the idea, it seems the only possible choice. It is certainly the most logical.
"Set the flat on fire?" questions Molly thinly, obviously playing dumb. It forces Sherlock to turn the brunt of his scowl on her, all dark eyes and twisted mouth.
"Enjoy it. Sex. With you, I could." Startlingly, it is the truth, and not an attempt at manipulation. The thought of sex with Molly is vastly different than sex with any other person in the world. She has always been sweet, kind, and tender; no matter how Sherlock opened himself to her, she would never use it against him or attempt to cause him harm. Instead she would nurture and protect.
Honestly, it sounds rather...nice. After being truly alone, hiding and fighting and depending only on himself, Sherlock finds himself reaching more and more for the contact of his friends. This would be only another a step in the direction of becoming closer with Molly, and honestly, is there anyone more suited to Sherlock Holmes than Molly Hooper?
Instead of properly responding, Molly stares, her eyes huge and unblinking. Her mouth is open, white teeth with a pink tongue not quite hiding behind, an expression of disbelief painting her features. "W-what?" she finally sputters, beginning to tremble.
"I do believe I've made myself clear on the subject, Molly. And don't you dare begin that infernal stammering again. We've passed that phase, and I want it to remain that way."
Molly says nothing. She doesn't move, barely even breathes; she simply stands, gaping, as though caught in place by some invisible force. Irritated beyond belief, Sherlock drops his hand from her upper arm to her wrist. Pressing her backwards is easy, Molly following the pressure of his hand and direction of his moving body without faltering.
Sherlock kisses her. He's had little experience with such things, but the mechanics seem simple and honestly, he's seen John snog the life out of his dates often enough to gather some data on the subject. He mimics head angle and tongue swipe and one hand at her waist. It is awkward and uncomfortable, makes Sherlock want to bolt for a microscope and a bottle of a hand sanitizer, but he will prevail. (He'll do nearly anything for Molly. He can never repay her, never thank her enough.)
Against his mouth, Molly makes a noise of discontent. Sherlock bites back a grumble, intending to pull away (he will inform her that they cannot proceed until he has gathered further data; to this end, he will visit John, who can help Sherlock build flow charts of proper procedure). But Molly, lovely, kind, so much stronger than she looks Molly slides a hand up over his chest and shoulder to the back of his neck. Her fingers tug at soft curls, and Sherlock finds he likes the sensation.
What he likes even more is when Molly, in a way he has yet to understand, takes control of the situation. Instead of an awkward, clinical mashing of mouths, she slides and glides and nips his bottom lip until Sherlock gasps. She takes advantage of the parting of his lips, effectively hurling Sherlock into a raging river, a current too strong to be fought. Quite plainly, she snogs the breath right out of him, and Sherlock discovers he really quite likes kisses.
Funny how it has escaped his notice for thirty-five years.
"Sherlock." Molly twists, pulling her mouth away, breaking the connection.
Sherlock is left panting into her hair, shocked as he realizes exactly how hard he is pressing her against the framing between the kitchen and living room – it cannot possible be comfortable, having the edge of the sliding door digging into her spine. He backs away, a simple half step, but finds it leaves too much space where there was once electricity and heat.
Splaying his hand across her hip, Sherlock tugs Molly after him. He wonders how he never saw how well she would fit against him before; her height, body type, soft curves, all of it a wonderful counterpart to his lean length and sharp angles.
"Oh," she moans, a breathless sound that hits Sherlock like lightning. He has no idea of what do, of how to banish the ache in his chest and groin, the itch under his skin. Oh, the mechanics and biology of it all leap into his mind easily, as simple as inserting tab A into slot B.
But it's different. He'd never realized that before, not really. The clues he found with the Woman put him on the path to this conclusion, the jumping heat and electrical charge, but this...this is when he knows, when the puzzle comes together and leaves him with an even more complex question.
How? What should he do? He wants. Wants what? Skin. Molly's mouth. That noise she just made, echoed a thousand times. Everything Molly is, was, and will be; greedy, but true.
It's terrifying, like the first shot of heroin, the bliss that came with his mind finally, finally slowing down. Sherlock wonders if it would be not good to tell Molly she's the most delicious, pleasing thing he's found since the drugs. He thinks not (she cried, once, when she saw the tiny faded scars left from the needles in his arms), and tries to find something else. Compliments are good in this situation, he's sure of it.
"Molly, I –" he falters, overwhelmed. He can tell her how the sunlight in her hair makes it look like cinnamon silk, or how watching the flush spread down her neck makes his heart stutter, or even that her mouth is even more distracting than a Jeffery Kyle marathon when he's off a case. But that and more clutter together, creates a jumble of information that lodges in his throat and refuses to be released. Instead he simply stares at her, mouth slightly opened, as though he's become as simple as any other man.
"Sherlock, stop. Stop." Somehow, and he isn't really sure how, Molly untangles herself from him.
It has the same effect as being doused with icy water. This is yet another reason why physical intimacy is something he has spent a lifetime avoiding; he is not a regular man, and has no hope of responding like one. Rejection is a given, and only a matter of time. Even from Molly Hooper. Let her go off with her simple men with no more thoughts than a pigeon and the rutting instinct of a dog. They may have her body, but he has her mind and, above all else, her loyalty and heart.
He still wins, and that's all that matters. (Isn't it?)
"You can't just – just do that to me!" Tears shine in Molly's eyes, and her hands tremble. The curl of her mouth, tension in her back and neck, even the way she shifts her weight speaks of humiliation and rage.
Sherlock flounders, caught between angry shame and confusion. "Kiss you?" he asks, sneering just as best as he can.
"Toy with me!" One, two, three, even four tears fall. Sherlock cannot keep count after this; there are too many. "My attraction to you, and especially my feelings, are not available for you to use to twist me to your will. You can't do that, Sherlock! Not to me! I – I've done everything you've ever wanted of me, always, and after everything we've gone through together, after we've become proper friends, I won't let you manipulate me like this. I'm not a case, or experiment, or something to help cure your boredom. I'm a person, Sherlock, and just because you like to pretend you don't have any feelings, it doesn't mean I do. And if you ever, ever do that to me again – I'll – I'll –" Words cease as Molly sobs, balling up one hand and pressing her knuckles to her lips. She doesn't turn away, doesn't hide her weakness and pain from Sherlock. She leaves it there for him to see, a punishment worse than physical torture.
He finds he cannot breathe. It feels as though bricks have been stacked on his chest, are weighing him down. Despite the beliefs of a great many, Sherlock is intimately acquainted with guilt, no matter how he pretends otherwise. It rears its ugly head now, baring poison fangs as it waits for the right moment to go in for the kill.
For a moment, Sherlock doesn't move, overwhelmed by it all. Lust, shame, resentment, anger, guilt; far too many emotions in too small a time. It nearly drowns him. But somehow he pushes against it, reaches out to take Molly's face in his hands.
She tries to jerk away from him, and it hurts, worse than any bullet, knife, or flame. "Molly," he says, encouraging her to stand still, to let him explain. "You've misunderstood. I was not – I would not – not to you. I would never do that to you."
Is it true? He doesn't want to share her attention, and providing her with sexual release would ensure it. Isn't that manipulation at its best? Using her feelings to bind her to him? Sherlock doesn't think so, at least not in a way she would hate him for.
It's only that...after all this time, after all that has happened, Molly Hooper is his. And as much as he wants to pretend it simply isn't true, he is Molly's. She might try to call it love, but Sherlock doesn't think it is. Love is the motivator for a knife between the ribs and a corpse in a shallow grave; he would never, never harm her in that way. Neither would he make vows he had no intention of keeping, of coming home with another woman's scent wrapped around him.
What Sherlock feels for Molly is respect. Admiration. Something shockingly close to reverence. Love is too bitter and cruel, and he doesn't want it within sight of his pathologist.
"I don't want you with other men." He has no trouble admitting this, as it is the simple truth. What it implies is what leaves him nauseous, however. "I...I was not unaffected by what just occurred. I think it's obvious as to what degree I enjoyed it." He watches Molly's eyes drop to survey his body under the thin pajama pants he wears, knowing full well what she sees.
"If you were willing to enter into an entirely monogamous agreement with me, I am sure we could make several compromises in which would we both be content. We work well together. You cite our work together frequently in the articles you write. You are interested by my cases, and are often invaluable in providing me pieces of the puzzles. There are several...compromises...I am willing to make ensure that you will remain in my life, in the most ideal and full of ways."
Nodding firmly, Sherlock congratulations himself on, once again, being brilliant. It is a clearly stated and logical summary of the relationship he would like to share with her. Sentimental or not, Molly is a scientist at heart, and will appreciate what he is offering.
He waits for her reply, puffing with pleasure.
"Sherlock," she breathes after several moments, eyes narrowing. "Are you asking me to date you?"
"Date – Molly Hooper, don't be ridiculous. I don't date." Perhaps he's given her too much credit. Sentiment strikes again, ruining a perfectly wonderful mind.
"How is anything you just said not a part of dating?"
"As I said, Molly, I do not date. Though our agreement would, I am sure, mimic several aspects of dating, ours would be a singular arrangement."
Molly's expression can best be described as indulgent. "And those aspects would be?"
"We will live together. You barely spend time at your flat as it is now, and it would be more efficient. You will refrain from seeking sexual attention from others, and of course I will do the same. Though I assure you it is highly unlikely I would ever have any desire to do so, and so will have no need to refrain from it. If I am not on a case, I will willingly keep you company on holidays." Not quite able to keep himself from licking his bottom lip, Sherlock quirks up one eyebrow as he issues the last part. "And, as I've stated before, I will satisfy all sexual desires you may have."
"So...in what way is this different from dating?" As far from the tears of minutes ago as can possibly be, Molly's eyes have a positively devilish twinkle.
Sherlock frowns at her. "Obvious. I am not now, nor will I ever be, your 'boyfriend.' If you must apply labels, partner or significant other will do nicely."
"Really, Molly? Don't you find this line of questioning childish?"
"I'm exploring all the details of your proposed arrangement, Sherlock. Any other ways this will be different from dating?"
Grasping blindly for an answer, Sherlock comes far too close to stammering. "I...I won't let you feed me up."
"I feed you now."
"As friends, do you see? We will remain friends. With sex, a shared address, and Molly, I'll even let you keep the cat."
"Keeping Toby was never up for discussion."
"Of course it was. He'll claw up the furniture."
"You shoot the walls."
"I have never urinated on your clothing."
"Liar." Molly practically cackles. "Almost two years after I started working at Bart's, you were drugged by that serial killer rabbi and I took you home with me so you wouldn't be alone. You thought my closet was the loo, and –"
"We agreed never to speak of that again!" The blush on his cheeks actually burns. Sherlock straightens his back until it nearly cracks, rigid with affront.
"You brought it –"
"You did, but I never agreed."
Is this a relationship? Is that what ordinary people do? Do they bicker while aroused? Is Sherlock becoming normal?
Soothed by recalling the severed feet in a cooler on his kitchen table, Sherlock knows normalcy is too much a variable to be applied to he and Molly. Besides, nothing is about them common, not really, not even this.
"Oh, don't pout." Laughing, Molly steps back into Sherlock's space. She's warm against him, heat sinking through his thin t-shirt, warming his cool skin. She links her arms around his narrow waist, resting her head against his chest. "Yes, Sherlock Holmes, I will be your not-girlfriend."
"No. You can't call yourself that." Giving a disgruntled look to the top of her head, Sherlock curls an arm around her waist. "What's wrong with simply remaining my pathologist?"
"I don't normally sleep with clients, Sherlock. Admittedly, most of them are dead, but –"
Sherlock groans. "No jokes, Molly. We've discussed this."
"You can't tell me that now. I'm your not-girlfriend." When she looks up, Sherlock can clearly see the devilish twinkle in her eye. She's enjoying this.
(He firmly refuses to admit he is, as well.)
Sniffing, he pulls away, sweeping across the living room to find his goggles. (They're behind his chair.) "Gloves, Molly. We've an experiment to perform."
"I thought we were snogging?"
"Have you no priorities, woman? Hurry up, now. Those feet won't be fresh much longer." Snapping his goggles back in place, he gives Molly a bright, manic grin. "Ready to begin?"
"I've only been waiting for you," she assures Sherlock.
They never actually make it to the feet.