Prompt: They were both dorm mates and helped each other find strange new ways to study, suggested by simulatedfloridiansnow on tumblr.
University was supposed to be a time of growth, independence, the acceptance into adulthood. A time where Molly had her own room, along with peace and quiet to work on her studies productively.
Nothing ever goes as planned.
She had a single, but it was in a suite with three other people: another girl, Emily, and two boys, Liam and…him. Sherlock Holmes. Top of the class, laziest in the class, most annoying in the class. He ignored her until he realized she was in his advanced chemistry class. That's when the bothering began.
"Molly, do you have the notes from today?"
She walked in to find him on her bed, tossing an apple. She had been too stunned to respond properly, only wondering how he got in (she had locked her door, hadn't she? She must have). She shooed him out, not offering the notes.
He would hunt her out in the dining halls, in the library, at parties—everywhere. Always asking of chemistry and class, no matter the time, no matter her state of privacy.
And it was awful. Awful, awful, awful, because she'd begun to fancy him. Felt her heart race when they passed on the green, when he was lying about the common room, making small talk with Liam or Emily, studying in bizarre positions.
Eventually, she caved. "Sherlock?"
His door had been open. He was seated in the middle of the floor with his eyes closed; textbooks open in a circle, with notes upon notes lined up in a wider circle. The handwriting differed on some, with the most reoccurring being the long, spidery handwriting that was undoubtedly his. It was midterms week—perhaps she shouldn't have interrupted.
"Yes Molly?" One eye opened, studying her.
"I…I need your help."
"I don't understand this one part of our orgo unit. Do you think you could…I'm so embarrassed asking for help right now."
His lips twitched up in a smile. "I'll be right in. I figure you'd rather be in your room, considering mine is messy."
"And it's no trouble?"
"None at all."
Molly returned to her single and began to throw her clothes back into drawers, in the closet, in the hamper—anywhere out of sight. Shit, shit, shit, why did she agree to her room? It was a mess. Her study materials were everywhere, not in some neat summoning circle so she could contact—contact Satan for the test answers. The pillows on her bed were all askew, the blanket was uneven, and the floor could have been swept.
Sherlock, being the demon he was, showed up at her door in less than five minutes, his notes on orgo tucked under his arm, along with his textbook. "I figured we could use my copy, I've marked it up a bit."
By a bit, he meant it was covered in highlighters and pens, with the occasional whiteout and cross-outs. He seemed more on top of his game than the professor.
"I'm sorry it's so messy."
He laughed. He laughed loudly, his deep baritone bouncing off the small space. "Messy? Messy? Were you even looking when you walked into my room? I don't think my pillows have made it back onto the bed since the start of the term. I'm not even sure where my garbage bin went…"
"What are you doing with trash?"
"I have a bag taped to the wall. It serves its purpose." He looked around. "You only have one chair."
"We can sit on the bed." Why did she say that?
He shrugged. "Works for me."
She sat at the head of her bed and watched as he pulled his long spindly legs up onto the comforter, somehow managing to tuck them under him. He spread the notes around in a neat circle, all facing Molly. "The key to studying this is memorization, but considering how far you've gotten, I take it you already know that. Next is repetition, which from the look of your right hand, you've been on top of that as well—"
"How did you know that?"
Sherlock looked up from his circle making and smirked. "Your thumb and forefinger are slightly red and swollen, and there's a shiny new callus next to the third knuckle of your middle finger. You've been handwriting your notes over and over, but there's something about organic chemistry that's throwing you off. It's not an equation, no, nothing that simple. You know your equations by heart, have done since early in the term. You're a clever girl, so it's likely not to be an overarching concept, but more of a minuscule detail. How'd I do?"
She stared at him, mouth agape. "Brilliantly…"
"Did I miss anything?"
"It's an overarching concept."
He swore. "It's always something. Well, Molly, what can I help you with on this chilly evening?"
He sighed. "Molly, that's easy."
"I'm sorry we can't all be chemistry geniuses."
"I'm not a chemistry genius. I just have more of an aptitude for chemistry than the average person. Now if you look at this set of—nope, wrong ones, these, perhaps? I can't do this backwards, scoot over."
He climbed gracefully from his folded position and sat beside Molly. They were nearly the same height sitting, she noticed, which is why his legs looked so awkward when he sat down. There was no room for two people to sit comfortably together, so they ended up shoulder-to-shoulder, and it caused Molly's pulse to pick up. She stole glances in his direction as he began to explain, watching his face run through the most emotion she'd ever seen him display. No matter what he said, Sherlock had a true passion for chemistry.
"…and that's how they form chains." He turned to her, a smirk on his face. "Were you even paying attention?"
"Was too busy staring at me?" He eyed her up and down, the smirk staying fixed to his lips, but with a spark of intrigue playing in his eyes. "You don't actually need my help."
"I do! I do, I'm sorry, I got…distracted."
He chuckled. "Distracted. You fancy me, don't you, Miss Hooper?"
Molly's cheeks flared bright red. She'd been caught. "Sherlock—"
"Don't deny it, it's written all over your face. Tell you what, you help me solve a problem I'm working on and I'll let you in on a secret. Deal?"
"I feel like it will be a terrible decision."
"Only for your sleeping habits. I need the lab for this, so I'll come get you around…one? How does that sound?"
"One in the afternoon?"
"One in the morning, approximately six hours from now. You can have my notes in the meantime."
"Can I say no?"
"Nope, not coming is not allowed. Find a flashlight."
There was a knock on her door at ten after one. He was late. He was late and she had spent the past ten minutes pacing and freaking out, changing her clothes several times, checking the temperature, and trying to decide on a jacket.
He grinned when she opened the door, staring at the ridiculous choice in coat.
"Why can't I wear it?"
"For one, it's bright pink. Other than that, it's far too heavy for the weather. You'd be fine with a light coat and a pair of gloves."
"I don't know if I have gloves."
"You can borrow a pair of mine. In the meantime, take off that coat." He turned around and went back to his room. Molly watched as he fiddled with the lock, unbuttoning the pink disaster.
Sherlock returned with a pair of worn black leather gloves. They were slightly too big on her, the creases wrinkling in all the wrong places. "Couldn't find my smaller pair, sorry. Shall we be off?"
They scurried across campus, from the dorm houses to central where the science hall made its home. No one was roaming around at this time of night, and the entire place looked deserted. If she didn't trust Sherlock, Molly would have been very uneasy.
"I didn't think our cards work past ten," Molly said quietly as he swiped them in. "They don't; nicked a professor's card earlier today."
He shrugged. "He wasn't paying attention, left it in his pocket, I saw an opportunity. I'll return it tomorrow; I just need to be in here tonight."
They snuck down the corridors, always watching for custodial staff. Once or twice, they were almost caught, but Sherlock pulled her from sight each time. He had an acute observational sense. She had seen it in action earlier, but hadn't quite grasped the full extent of his abilities.
Sherlock swiped them in to one of the more advanced chemistry labs, one for the older students. Molly had only been into one of the high-tech labs once, to ask for some piece of equipment. Sherlock clearly didn't see them often either, his face lighting up like a small child's in a toy store.
"Look at all of it," he said quietly. "One more year and we're in here too. Aren't you excited?"
"You guess? You don't know?"
"I mean, yes, I am, but I'm not excited for all the work."
He smiled and stepped back to her, getting far too close. "But that's the fun of it." He spun around and walked to the other side of the lab. "Help me find some substances?"
Molly's help was really just fetching things. He sat in front of the whiteboard, an equation scrawled across in black dry-erase. It was complex, far beyond her understanding of chemistry. She originally had tried to help, but was shushed for unhelpful comments. The last time she opened her mouth, he snipped at her, which shut her up. He really could go from warm and friendly to cold and sarcastic instantaneously.
She went to sit beside him after a half-hour of silence. It was nearly two, she was tired, and being on her feet was just not an option. The floor was a better option than a stool. Besides, it's not as if Sherlock were taking note of her presence anyway.
She fell asleep.
Of course she fell asleep.
She woke to the steady repetition of someone else's breathing and the feeling of fingers through her hair.
"I figured it out." She could hear his voice in his chest.
Molly bolted up, staring nervously down at a supine Sherlock. He smiled at her. "And I did it by myself, so no secret for you."
Questions started flying out. "Why were you running your fingers through my hair?"
"Something to concentrate on that's not chemistry."
"Why didn't you wake me up?"
"You looked very peaceful."
"What time is it?"
"Fifteen to three. Do you care to head back now?"
He stood and brushed off his jacket. "Sorry if this wasn't much fun for you."
"It was…fine," she muttered, looking about the room. He had left the finished equation on the board, circled with a 'do not erase' written neatly at the bottom.
"Did you mean to wind up in that lab?" Molly asked as they crossed campus.
Sherlock nodded. "I got into a dispute with one of the professors. He was convinced I couldn't solve something, so I decided to prove him wrong."
"It was his ID you took."
He smiled. "Clever girl, yes it was."
"I guess that'll be a slap in the face. He should know to never challenge Sherlock Holmes."
He looked away from her, positively glowing, sure she wouldn't see his smile.
When they got back, all Molly wanted to do was throw herself into her bed and forget about the adventure. The accidental sleeping on, the unproductive nature of the whole thing, her increased tiredness.
She swore, realizing she had his gloves still. She could give them back in the morning, but she wouldn't remember. She sighed and hauled herself out of bed, crossing the common room in her pajamas. He answered on the first knock. His room was dark, as if he'd already been in bed.
"You left your gloves."
"Thank you, Molly. Come in a moment?"
"I really want to get to bed." Not to mention looking at you makes me embarrassed now.
"Just for a moment, please? It's fast, I promise."
She stepped in and closed the door.
"I've decided I'm going to tell you the secret, anyway, even though you weren't much of a help."
"I fetched everything for you!"
"Fine, there was that. But you didn't really help."
"Hurry up with it, please."
He leaned in and pecked her on the cheek. "I fancy you, too."
She froze as he kissed her other cheek. "Almost since day one. Been waiting for you to catch up."
He kissed her once more, on the temples. "Am I making you uncomfortable?"
She snapped from her trance and yanked him down to her mouth, fingers buried in his hair. Her kisses were sloppy, and she could feel him smile against her lips.
"I thought you were tired," he said as she trailed down his neck.
He hoisted her into his arms, a greedy smile on his face. "Maybe you should sleep, then," he whispered into her ear, carrying her to the bed.
"Don't you think it's a little early—"
"—I'm not going to sleep tonight so you might as well—"
"You thought I meant—"
"I'm sorry; I wasn't sure what you were doing—"
"I mean if you want to we can I guess—"
"No, not tonight," Molly said as he set her down. "Too fast."
"But I can always go back to my room if you want, that way you have a bed."
"Nah." He motioned for her to get off the covers before sitting next to her, "I'd rather have a warm bed."
Molly watched as he pulled blankets over them. He nudged closer to her, analyzing her expression. "You're not fighting this at all. You've lost the heat in your room, haven't you?"
"It flicked off when we were gone; I'll have to file a report in the morning."
"Then you should definitely stay here tonight. Even if the heat goes off, I can promise I'm a hot water bottle."
"Do you know from experience?"
"If by experience you mean sleeping, then yes."
She felt his arms sneak around her. "I'm afraid to go to sleep. It feels like I'm already dreaming."
He kissed her gently. "If this is a dream, I don't want to wake up either."
A/N: I keep doing the thing, the thing where I don't stick to the prompt.