Was going to keep this one on hold til Christmas, but I'd probably forget all about it. So enjoy. Not beta-ed so all mistakes are intentional to keep you on your toes :)
Christmas Eve, most people's favourite time of year and Molly Hooper wished it was already over. She wanted the endless parade of family fun films and adverts about feasts and gifts and family feuds to be done. She was sick of carol singers and mulled wine and 'it's for a good cause' and all the usual rubbish that came with the season.
The very next time someone sang about jingling bells she was going to find one and...
She rubbed her face and laid her head back against the sofa. It may not have been like her to be so negative but the worst things always happened to her at Christmas and, somehow, she always ended up crying at midnight wishing it was January already.
Well, not this year. This year she was staying in her flat with her Chicago Town pizza having a Resident Evil marathon. There was nothing less Christmassy than Pepperoni and zombies. Instead of sitting with her father in the hospital as he died of cancer, she'd be watching Alice get infected with the T-virus. Instead of listening to Sherlock decimate her looks and hopes she'd listen to the Red Queen destroy the scientists, and, instead of another shift piecing together a human being, she'd watch some zombies get blown up.
Completely understandable and very unlikely to make her cry.
She sank back into the cushions ensuring that her phone was switched off. She'd already text Mary and told her that she wouldn't be making it to the Baker Street party after all. Not that she'd had any intention of going but she'd at least had to pretend that she was going to make an appearance.
After Sherlock had come back from the dead, and her part in his deception had come to light, things had been weird between her and John.
He'd wanted her to know that he wasn't angry, at least not with Molly, he'd told her that he was grateful. But she couldn't help but remember all of the times that she'd lied to him, lied to his face, and her gut churned with guilt. She simply didn't deserve him to be so nice to her and had told him so.
He'd pointed out that, not only had she introduced him to Mary, but also that she'd lived with Sherlock for months and that, he said, was punishment enough for anyone. Then he hugged her and said they were okay.
And so when he'd bounded into the morgue behind Sherlock and asked her to the Christmas party she'd agreed. John had beamed and Sherlock had rolled his eyes and Molly had done her best to find a way out of it.
It wasn't that she didn't want to spend time with John and Mary, Lestrade and Mrs Hudson, Mycroft and Sherlock, it was... okay it was exactly that.
After saving his life, housing him for well over a year and patching up his various injuries, Molly had lost her nervousness around Sherlock. She had stopped blushing, stuttering, stammering and acting like a clumsy idiot. But she was still as in love with the clueless idiot as ever and every harsh word aimed towards her not only pierced her self esteem but beat against her already battered heart.
And she was done crying over Sherlock Holmes.
She'd thought about manufacturing a reason for her absence, maybe headaches, maybe work. But in the end she went with the truth. She'd told Mary about that Christmas and, despite appeals that this year would be different, Molly had simply declined to go.
Mary would make her excuses to John and that would be it.
No hospitals, no Holmes, no heartbreak.
Just pizza and zombies.
"Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper," she said to herself softly as she pressed play on the DVD.
Two and half hours later Molly was on the edge of her seat as Terri Morales, the dumb journalist, wandered through the deserted school, staring at the tiny bloody handprints on the map.
She looked down at the back of a child sitting on the floor.
"Angela?" she called. Molly inched down on the sofa. She knew what was coming even if the stupid journalist didn't.
"It's gonna be okay, there's no need to be afraid. We're gonna take you home." Terri reached for the child, her hand touching the shoulder of the little girl and then-
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.
"Holy sh-" Molly jumped at the noise, spilling her popcorn over the floor. Toby glared at her for disturbing his nap but Molly was too concerned with trying to get her heart back into her chest. She held her hand over her chest feeling the pounding underneath.
"I swear if that's Christmas Carollers, I may have to shoot them," she breathed. "Of course it could be zombies." She looked down at her cat who gave the kind of look only a cat could give.
She smiled sheepishly. "Good point. Zombies wouldn't knock."
She got to her feet, brushing the popcorn back into the bowl, pausing the film just as Jill Valentine found the girl they had been searching for.
She flipped the bolt back, slid the chain into place and opened the door slightly, peering in between the crack. Her eyes widened.
"Molly." His deep voice echoed through the hallway.
She pushed the door to, undid the chain and opened it wider. No, she wasn't going crazy. Sherlock Holmes stood in her doorway, his thick Belstaff buttoned up to the upturned collar and his navy scarf wrapped warmly around his throat. He stared at her.
"Hi." She frowned slightly. "Everything okay?"
"No. May I come in?"
Molly blinked at his cool tone. "Sure," she stepped back, letting him into her flat, shutting the door after him.
Sherlock was a tall man and he had an air that was very imposing and so, as he stood there in the centre of her flat, he managed to make the reasonable space look tiny. Molly felt almost claustrophobic standing next to him.
"Can I get you a drink?" she said awkwardly.
He just watched her carefully.
"You don't seem to be suffering from fever or influenza."
Molly frowned. "Sorry?"
"You aren't flushed or overly pale. You aren't sweating or curled over in agony. You seem to be in possession of all your limbs and none are bandaged. You are neither sick nor injured."
"No-o." She had no idea where he was going with this.
"You haven't been crying so you haven't been let down for a date, nor are there any traces of make-up on your face which indicates that you had no intention of leaving your flat this evening. You've got several film cases open which indicates some sort of movie marathon and there are traces of popcorn over your t-shirt. You do not have a headache or migraine else you wouldn't be watching television."
"You are neither sick nor injured, you didn't have a date and you haven't gone for drinks with friends. You had no plans so why aren't you at Baker Street?"
Molly's eyes widened. Oh. In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse she had clean forgotten about Christmas drinks at Baker Street which had been sort of the point.
It had worked.
"Ah," she said, quite eloquently. "Uh, I-" she had no idea what to say. Sherlock would see through any lie she told and she had no idea what Mary had- ah ha Mary!
"I told Mary I wasn't going. Didn't she say?"
"She said you were unable to make it." He looked around her flat. "You look rather able to me."
Molly shifted from one foot to the other, feeling oddly like a child caught out in a lie. Which she was. Well, not the child part obviously- focus Molly.
"Why weren't you there, Molly?"
"I wasn't feeling up to it." She shrugged. "I didn't think anyone would notice."
He gave her the same look he had given her that day in the lab when she had told him that she didn't count. It was like he was hurt and bewildered and startled at the same time.
"Of course, I noticed."
Her lips curved. "Of course, you're Sherlock Holmes. You notice everything. I meant that I didn't think it would matter."
"Why would you think that?"
Molly sighed heavily. She really wasn't in the mood for this. She'd purposefully not gone to Baker Street specifically to avoid this kind of emotional conflagration. She hadn't wanted to deal with Sherlock's mercurial moods and dismissive attitude, faked smiles and forced social interaction. She'd not wanted the feelings of hope building up to be crushed, her heart yearning and brain reminding her of what an idiot she was. She hadn't wanted the hours of preparation even knowing it was fruitless and the inevitable heart-broken sobbing mess she would end up as at the end of the night.
She'd wanted flesh-eating hoards of the undead.
And here he was barging in and messing up her plans.
Stupid consulting detective.
She shrugged. "I'm not one of the gang. Not really and I didn't want to intrude." She felt her lips curl slightly. "I'm not the one who crashes people's crime scenes."
"I know, I know, don't make jokes." She wrapped her arms around herself. "It stands though. I'd feel uncomfortable crashing your party."
"You were invited." His words were measured, cold even. "Specifically. You can't 'crash' when you are expected to be there."
"John only invited me to be polite. Besides, I don't know what you're complaining about," She tried for a grin, "you prefer it just you and John. I would have thought the less people the better."
"Why do you do that?"
Molly blinked at the sheer frustration in his voice. "What?"
Sherlock raked a hand through his hair, losing the cold façade he'd been exuding since he walked in.
"You constantly undervalue yourself and your worth in people's eyes."
"No, I don't."
"John only invited you to be polite, you're not one of the gang, you didn't want to intrude, you didn't think anyone would notice. What's that if not devaluing yourself?"
Molly shifted uncomfortably.
"But it's just with me, isn't it? According to Mary you are wonderful at karaoke. Lestrade said you can almost match him pint for pint. Mycroft asked if you had baked any more brownies. Mycroft. They all know you. The real Molly Hooper. But not me. You hide yourself from me." He swallowed, staring down at her with his icy gaze. "Why?"
Molly stepped back away from the intensity of his eyes. It really wasn't fair that it seemed he could see right through you. It also wasn't fair that he could see everything but understood nothing. Her usually dormant temper raised its head and snarled.
"It's not like you're interested in seeing the real me. And those glimpses I have shown you haven't been too well received. Or did you forget last Christmas?"
"I don't care what you've said, Sherlock. I don't matter to you. I don't count. Not to you. I never have. To Mary, John, Greg, even Mycroft I'm a friend. Someone that they like and value and want around. You've only ever valued me for the things I can do for you. You still don't see me and that's only because you don't want to. It's not hiding if the other person isn't looking." She bit her lip. "I didn't come to your Christmas party because I didn't want to spend Christmas Eve crying. Again."
"And I would make you cry?" His voice sounded oddly hollow.
"Every time. Always." She whispered. She curled her arms around herself, looking away from Sherlock. She hated this. She loved Sherlock, truly loved him and saying anything even remotely mean hurt her as much as him, but he had forced her hand.
She heard him move and winced, wondering if he was going to leave. But he stepped closer.
Molly looked up.
He was holding a long black box tied with black paper and a single red ribbon. There was a gift tag- also black- sticking out artistically from under the ribbon.
It looked like a high end jewellery box, professionally wrapped, and extremely expensive.
"It's for you." He said softly.
Molly reached up and took it from his fingers. He shoved his hands into his pockets and waited for her to open it.
With trembling fingers Molly unwrapped the black paper, twisting the red ribbon around her wrist and prying the lid off.
Inside was a beautiful silver necklace cushioned in a bed of black velvet with a tiny silver microscope charm on the end. Molly lifted it closer so she could see the exquisitely detailed etching on the microscope, the tiny piece of diamond where a slide would be.
She smiled. "It's beautiful. Thank you."
"It's an exact replica of the Nikon Labophot microscope from the morgue. Right down to the scratch when Stamford dropped it."
Molly laughed delightedly and gave it a second look. It was. It was his microscope; the one he used for his experiments, his favourite. She could even see the scorch mark where Sherlock had smuggled in a cigarette and accidentally burnt the casing.
"No. What's amazing is what I saw all these years but never observed. I was blind. Stupid. Molly." He sighed and stepped even closer. "You do count. You've always counted. To me, even when I didn't realise it. It took dying for me to work out that the one person who has never let me down was standing in front of me. You've always been there for me, Molly, whether as an assistant, or a friend, or a muse." He glanced away and then back almost shyly. "I can't tell you how many times you helped just by being in the same room. I relied on you to be there for me to help with cases, bring me coffee, just to smile at me. Then I relied on you to kill me and keep my secrets and you did. And you hid me and comforted me and brought me back to life and I never thanked you."
"I never asked you to."
"You never asked for anything. You never do. Because you think I won't give it. But you're wrong."
Molly licked her lips and looked down at the necklace. Sherlock's hands came up to cover hers.
"Don't you see, Molly, I'd give you anything. Everything. All you have to do is ask."
Molly could feel tears prickling in her eyes, pressing hot and heavy behind her lids at the sheer sentiment in his words. But she wasn't an idiot. Sherlock had done things before to make her think she stood a chance only for it to be a ploy. How was she supposed to be able to trust that he wasn't lying? She didn't think her heart could stand being broken again. Something of her thoughts must have shown in her face because Sherlock sighed heavily.
He stroked his hand along the box in front of them.
"The day we met, you were working on that microscope, analysing mud from under a victims nails. It was brand new; a gift for the department and only a few of you were allowed to use it. I was on a case with Lestrade, and demanded to use that microscope. You took one look at me and handed it over. You trusted me with it. It was the first thing you ever gave me. Your trust and the microscope. It... means something to me." He swallowed. "Sentiment. I hoped that this would mean something to you."
"It does." Molly ignored the tears silently falling, her eyes still locked in a gaze with his.
"I've made you cry again."
"I don't mind."
"I do." He smoothed away the tears with his thumb. "If it is within my power I want to make you happy instead. Can I... will you let me try?"
Molly could only nod helplessly. He gave her a crooked smile and leaned down, his lips just brushing across hers. Her eyes fluttered at the soft press of warm satiny skin.
He released her slowly, his big warm hands still wrapped around hers. Molly couldn't help the smile that curled the edges of her mouth.
"Can you help me put it on?"
His soft smile almost melted what was left of her knees. He lifted the necklace from the box and she turned around. He pulled her hair away from her neck, his dexterous fingers fiddling with the clasp before slipping it around her neck. It was the perfect length, the microscope settling nicely under the hollow of her neck. It felt right, natural, like it belonged there.
When she turned back, Sherlock's eyes lit up, he pressed a finger against the charm. "Suits you."
"Thank you." She nibbled at her lower lip. She had no idea what to say to him. What exactly was it that he wanted? He said he wanted to make her happy but what did that even mean? Was he going to stop insulting her, was that all he meant? Or did he mean something more?
Sherlock noticed her reluctance to look at him. "What is it, Molly?"
"What-" she trailed off, not sure how to word it. She didn't want to insult him or insinuate that he meant more than he was saying. The very last thing she wanted was to scare him away. In the end she just took a deep breath and laid her heart in her hands. "You said you wanted to make me happy, how are you planning on doing that?"
He reached up and sifted his long fingers through her hair, tugging out the elastic band so that it fell in sheets down her back. "According to my research, watching television together whilst engaging in 'heavy petting' is a time honoured part of relationships."
Her lips twitched at the thought of Sherlock researching relationships. "You want to watch movies and make out with me?"
"'Make out' is a very American term," he said with a wrinkled nose and a look of distaste.
"Heavy petting is very 1950's," Molly countered.
He inclined his head. "While I assume that I will not enjoy sentimental Christmas movies or romantic comedies I believe I will somewhat enjoy the physical aspects of the activity of 'making out'."
She couldn't resist. Molly brought herself up on tiptoe, grabbed his collar and pressed her lips to his. After a shocked moment he responded to the slant of her mouth, the warm breath mingling and the sweep of her tongue against his. His hands clenched on her waist and his eyes slammed shut.
Molly grinned against his lips and pulled back. "Now you have more data, care to re-evaluate?"
It was a point of pride with Molly that it took him several tries to make his voice work. "I-I believe that I will enjoy making out immensely."
"Good, and after the movies and making out?"
He cupped the back of her neck and brought her closer to him. "I know I have done little to deserve it, Molly, but trust me. I wish for us to become closer mentally, emotionally and physically. No doubt I will make mistakes and say things that upset you but I want to try. Will you let me try, Molly?"
She stared up into his eyes, feeling the sincerity flowing off him. If he was lying or trying to get something out of her then she couldn't tell. And she wanted to believe him. So very badly.
Molly took a deep breath.
His shoulders dropped slightly in relief, his beautiful eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled.
She grinned at him. "But you got one thing wrong."
He raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"I hate sappy Christmas movies and romantic comedies."
Both eyebrows rose. "Really?"
"The real Molly Hooper likes science fiction and action and zombie movies," she confessed and his eyes softened. "The real Molly Hooper likes it when stuff blows up or people get eaten by hoards of the undead."
"There's always one thing," Sherlock smiled at her. "So would the real Molly Hooper like to watch ridiculous movies and make out with me?"
Popcorn, Zombies and Sherlock?
She led him to the sofa. "I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve."