A/N: Rated T for, uh, later graphic description of gory things like dissections? Nothing's scary in this fic though. At least I don't think so. *smile*
A collection of one-shots all taking place in the morgue. This chapter takes place first in the time line, but the rest of the chapters are not necessarily in chronological order.
Lots of science involved. I did warn you about excessive geekiness, didn't I? Be prepared.
Molly-centric, not really romance, though I suppose you could deem it Sherlolly if you squint. I love Molly. And I'm a hardcore fan of the books. Which is saying something.
People sometimes forget that Molly is a competent scientist, and not just Sherlock's convenient door-mat.
Reviews are loved, and constructive criticisms are worshipped. Effusive fangirling on (your imagination of) Benedict Cumberbatch is accepted wholeheartedly.
Proper Lab Safety
"You do count. You've always counted and I've always trusted you." -SH
Ever wondered how exactly Molly Hooper came to be her mousy little self wherever Sherlock Holmes was concerned? Contrary to popular belief, it didn't happen at first sight.
Molly had met Sherlock long before John Watson appeared in his life to soften his erratic behaviours. She couldn't exactly say she was charmed by their initial encounter. Any normal woman would be taken aback, to say the least, if a man she had shaken hands with only a moment ago suddenly launched into a detailed monologue that outlined snippets of her private life - from the fact that she had stayed up watching romantic dramas the previous night, all the way down to the name of her favourite brand of cucumber soap.
It took two weeks for Molly Hooper's impression of Sherlock Holmes to change from "perverted stalker" to "freak". It took two more weeks for it to change from "freak" to "smart-as-hell freak". Three more weeks passed before she dropped the word "freak", and it was not until a month later, when she saw him skilfully execute a perfect Western blot, Eastern blot, and Northern blot all in the course of a single afternoon, that she came to respect him immensely and worship his intellect.
Molly was perfectly fine when everything concerning Sherlock Holmes stayed at the level of "respect". Sure, respect rose gradually as she spent more time assisting him with his cases. But it was kept capped at "respect", and Molly thought that was that. Besides, there were many things about him that irked her OCD self, like his horrible way of holding a pipette, or his complete lack of regard for lab safety. Molly usually left him be; she wasn't the type to dare correcting people other than her trainees, not to mention that Sherlock Holmes's over-the-top confidence was the last thing she wished to challenge.
She'd conversed easily with him like he was an ordinary (well, sort of) colleague, and often politely said goodbye and left the room whenever his terrible scientific conduct vexed her (seriously, how did he get better results?). But there was a day where she couldn't bring herself to leave, and that was when everything changed.
The night air was fine. The protagonists in the drama she'd been following had finally kissed and gotten together, and that was more than enough for her to face late night work and all her corpses with a big grin on the face. She hummed cheerfully as she wheeled a cadavre into the dissection room, and then proceeded to retrieve Einstein (her cart) and her dissection tools. Upon entering the lab, she spotted some familiar cheek bones and enthusiastically waved, "Oh hey Sher - "
Her speech cut off drastically when she saw the large container in his hands, and she squinted in disapproval.
Sherlock barely looked at her and was about to launch into a new round of deductions regarding what she'd been up to, but she didn't give him the opportunity to begin. "Is that sulfuric acid in your hands?"
Sherlock raised an eyebrow and snorted. "Silly question. Aren't you familiar with every container in the lab?"
"I am," Molly shut the door behind her and frowned. "That was a rhetorical question."
"Hmm, yes, rhetorical questions, a type of literary device used when the speaker is upset, sarcastic, or offended. You have a problem with my utilization of your container of sulfuric acid. Well, mine has run out; you can use mine when the new bottle comes in."
"No, no," Molly sighed. "I'm wondering why you're wearing an expensive suit, all the while holding a bottle of moderately concentrated sulfuric acid with your bare hands."
Sherlock raised his other eyebrow and said, unamused, "Are you trying to learn how to observe like I do? If so, I suggest working on the details. That was failing-grade."
Molly groaned. A sunny mood had made her bolder and more flippant than usual. "No, genius, I'm telling you to wear a lab coat and gloves. I'm sure you don't need me to inform you what sulfuric acid can do to your expensive suit and your skin."
"Oh. Safety." Sherlock shrugged and began to loosen the bottle cap. "Don't bore me with that, Molly. I can fare better than you without it."
Molly had adapted to Sherlock's demeaning remarks, and usually turned and left with a quick goodbye when she heard them. Nevertheless, this time she was not going to let it slide: it was the first time she'd seen Sherlock work with corrosive material. She may be meek, but she was a responsible scientist. She simply couldn't leave a man in suit alone in the lab with a bottle of sulfuric acid in his bare hands.
She stormed over quickly and grabbed at the bottle. "I'm responsible for lab surveillance this week, Sherlock, and I can't allow you to continue."
"Hey!" Sherlock protested vehemently and clasped his hand tightly around the bottle. "Molly Hooper, I'm the best and only consulting detective in this world. I've dealt with things and people much worse than acid, and I don't need you to tell me what to do."
"If you're in your flat, you can drink acid for all I care. But this is my lab, and I don't want to be blamed if anything happens." Molly tugged at the bottle persistently, her features compressed from exertion. "I'll return it immediately if you wear your lab coat and gloves. Now give me that! Er, please? "
"Oh no I won't, woman," Sherlock's hand gripped the bottle firmly, and he spat through gritted teeth, "There's no chance I'm getting myself into that hideous white coat. It'll offset my balance and cloud my mind, which will - "
Molly's strength was no match for Sherlock's; before Sherlock could finish his sentence, she'd lost her grip and tumbled back with a yelp. By the time she recovered and opened her eyes, she saw Sherlock standing dumbly across from her with a blank look on his face, bottle in hand. A large wet stain covered at least half of his expensive suit.
Clink, clink, clink.
The lab was eerily quiet for a second, as the lone sound of a bouncing bottle cap echoed.
"Oh my God oh my God oh my God! I'm so sorry! When did you unscrew the cap?"
Molly was the one to react first, repeatedly screaming the name of deity as she scrambled into action. She confirmed first that no acid had spilled on herself, and immediately rushed to put on gloves. "Quick, put the bottle down, take off your clothes, and get under the shower!"
Sherlock stared dumbly at her and made no attempt to move.
"Oh Lord, I see the safety training video I made you watch didn't go into your genius brain!" Molly exclaimed in exasperation and rushed forward to take matters into her own hands. "Stupid little... why are they so hard to unbutton!?" By the time she'd won her war with the buttons and exposed Sherlock's skin, the consulting detective had regained enough senses to have set down the bottle. She easily ripped the shirt and the suit from him, and threw them into a corner by the window. Then she removed her gloves and shoved him hastily under the emergency shower. She pulled the lever (which had always tempted her whenever she walked by it) for the first time in her life, and cold water gushed forcefully over Sherlock's body.
Molly, after letting out a breath of relief, rushed to throw open all windows to allow ventilation. "Baking soda, baking soda, baking soda..." she muttered to herself and began scurrying to find the container in question, when Sherlock's (robotic) voice reminded, "Third bench, sixth drawer on the left."
"Oh thanks," Molly turned to nod to him, but when she saw his figure under the shower, she groaned once more and shouted, "Why the bloody hell do you still have your pants on? Take it off, take it off! Do you want acid to stick to your skin and burn it?"
Despite water flowing rapidly over his face, Molly could see that his eyebrows were raised. "Uh, maybe you should, uh, leave the room - "
"You just got a litre of sulfuric acid on yourself and you're worried about modesty?" Molly threw her arms in the air furiously when she'd finished fumbling through the drawer, baking soda in hand.
"Have got," Sherlock corrected quietly and obeyed.
Molly loosened the cap of the baking soda bottle, and glanced at Sherlock to ensure that he did as instructed. "Underwear too!" She slapped her forehead and shook her head upon seeing his progress. "I cut dead naked bodies for salary; I can take the sight of a living one!"
On finally ensuring that the shower was washing all surfaces of his skin, Molly patted her chest in relief, and began dispersing baking soda.
"It'ch fweezing," complained Sherlock, his voice obscured by trembles and gargles.
"Well, you're lucky they checked the shower last month," she grumbled with a pout, "Otherwise it might feel slimy as well."
Sherlock was too busy shuddering to argue. The silence was blissful to Molly.
"I'm going to find something to dry you up," said the pathologist as she finished her task. "Remember, don't move for fifteen minutes. No, actually, make that thirty, because you were so slow at removing your clothes. I'm locking the door and putting up a sign, so you don't have to worry about anyone else coming in. Not that anyone other than the ER guys is working at this unearthly hour."
Sherlock was still too busy shuddering to protest. Molly washed her hands and left the room like a boss with her head held high, slamming the door shut as if communicating her authority and rage to a misbehaving child.
It was only when she rummaged through the sheets in the morgue storage cabinet that her rage and nervousness calmed. And that was when the full impact of what she had seen and done hit her in the head.
Molly Hooper had just practically stripped Sherlock Holmes, world's most brilliant consulting detective, stark naked, locked him in a room full of evaporating acid, and left him under an emergency shower to freeze for an entire half hour.
Suddenly she babbled in gibberish and was red as a beet. Molly The Boss had vanished. Molly The Awkward And Meek was back.
Sure, she had learnt her safety policies well and done her duty perfectly. But it was the first time she'd - and gosh, he had a surprising amount of muscles for such a - "Oh my God no!" Molly flushed and covered her face with the sheet, until she realized that the sheet, despite having been disinfected, had coated probably about a hundred different cadavres. Then she threw the sheet onto the ground and groaned and knocked her head repeatedly against a wall.
In many dramas I've watched, everything began when she saw him under a showe - "No!" Molly bit her lip and knocked her head harder. "Remember, this is Sherlock Holmes, who is sociopathic and a jerk and frighteningly intelligent and a scientific genius and..." The feeling of his back against her fingers! "I NEED AN ESPRESSO!"
She screamed in exasperation and hastily crumpled all the sheets into the storage cabinet. She had thirty minutes after all, which was plenty of time to cool down; when it was time to go back, she would be perfectly placid and indifferent, and everything would return to normal.
Molly ended up ordering three espressos before she was confident that she was fine. But when, at the thirty-minute mark, she stood in front of the locked lab door with a few sheets in hand, she almost turned away to buy another three.
"Okay, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out." She muttered to herself quietly, "Remember what you've said, Molly Hooper. This isn't the first time you've seen a naked man and there's no need to fuss about it. It was all done for the best and there's no reason to fuss about it."
She inhaled sharply and slowly turned the key. Then she pulled the door open even more slowly, and, despite knowing full well that it was a stupid move, peeked.
Yep, still there under the running shower in the same state as before.
Molly squeaked and jumped out and slammed the door shut.
Did she really tell him that she could take it? What the hell was she thinking? It was much harder to deal with a living naked man than to dissect a dead one!
Sherlock's angry voice did not give her time to calm down. "Molly Hooper! I know you're out there! If you don't get yourself and the towels in now, I will phone someone to fetch my revolver. It's bloody Antarctica in here and I'm convinced that I'm dying!"
Molly bit her lip and tiptoed through the door, fighting back embarrassed tears.
"Give. Me. The. Sheets." She heard Sherlock enunciate contemptuously, "I don't even care where you got them from, or if they're not disinfected. Just. Give. Them. To. Me. Now."
Slowly, slowly. Stare placidly ahead above his left shoulder. Don't look down, don't look down, don't - oh God. Molly's sight bounced uncomfortably around the room as she dragged her feet across the wet floor, holding the sheets in front of her and stretching her arms forward like a zombie.
"Hurry up! At this rate you'll take the whole day!" Sherlock roared in rage. Molly jumped and squeaked, and she closed her eyes and took a few large steps forward and threw the sheets forward and turned quickly around to inspect what was left of the acid puddles.
She was totally engrossed in observing Sherlock's ruined suit when she heard the shower stop running, and she was totally checking ventilation with her full attention when she heard Sherlock sigh in relief. "Ah, much better. I have wrapped myself with the Sheets of the Dead now, Molly, and you may turn around."
"I'mlookingatthewindows," mumbled Molly with a voice that buzzed feebly like flapping mosquito wings, obstinately refusing to turn her head.
Sherlock raised an eyebrow at the back of her lab coat and, as always, began observing. "This is a most interesting response indeed, as you're certainly lying. Your head isn't angled properly to be looking at the windows, not to mention that the windows are fully open and not worth staring at for minutes. The contrast between your earlier behaviour and your current behaviour suggests to me that you have recovered from the shock of the accident as I have, which means that your sympathetic nervous system has calmed. Now you have returned to the normal state, which gives you room to consider less urgent and more parasympathetic matters such as hunger and reproduction - "
"OKAY Sherlock Holmes, let's get you downstairs to the emergency room to apply some medicine and make sure everything's fine!" Molly abruptly spun around and bolted toward the door to hold it open, avoiding his inquisitive stare as she passed him.
"Get me some clothes," Sherlock shrugged and instructed as he walked through the door, "I'm not on speaking terms with my current flatmate, so calling him to bring some would be out of the question."
Molly found Sherlock some spare scrubs in the ER's storage as he was being treated. After the doctor complimented her on her quick and perfect response to the situation and ensured her that Sherlock was fine, she cleaned up the lab and left for home in a daze.
She was still in a daze when she came in the next morning, though she snapped out of it immediately when she spotted The Cheek Bones behind the microscope. He was in a different expensive suit and still wore no gloves, but he wasn't working with anything dangerous, and Molly was too tired and nervous to care.
"OhhelloI'mjustgettingreadyforworkokaythanksbye!" She scrambled and swept a bundle of equipment onto Einstein, and hastened to wheel the trolley out of the room.
Sherlock looked after her scurrying figure with a bewildered scowl. "Sentiment?" He muttered to himself questioningly, but soon gave up and shrugged. "Probably. Oh well. I won't understand. By the way, Molly, you left a body in the dissection room last night! You'd best deal with it before it's too late!"
He couldn't hold back a chuckle when he heard a high-pitched squeak in the hallway.
Molly Hooper would never know that the day on which she transformed into a C3H/HeN mouse in front of Sherlock Holmes was also the day on which Sherlock Holmes gave her his trust; Sherlock Holmes was one who liked to keep it quiet when he was impressed.
After all, she'd saved his skin for the first time. Literally.
*Please note that this piece is not meant to encourage acid-spilling behaviour when one is alone in a lab with one's object of affection. Really.