19th December. London.

With her boots covered in muddy snow and arms laden with packages, Molly Hooper elbowed the door to her flat open. The boxes spilled from her arms onto her kitchen floor, and her shoulders dropped in resignation.

"Close enough," she sighed, tugging off her boots. She had put off choosing gifts, and almost been trampled in the last-minute mad dash at the shops. With Barts so understaffed, she hadn't had a choice, really. She was the only pathologist without children, and so every year she got stuck with the worst schedule the week of Christmas.

Not fair, she grumbled inwardly, hanging up her coat and rubbing her neck. She thought longingly of the ski holiday her cousin Donna had invited her on that she'd been forced to decline.

"Toby, I'm home! Where are you?" she called. Her cat could usually be counted on to trip her the moment she walked in the door by running between her feet. "Toby?"

A soft mrrrrow was heard and then Molly saw the cat's long tail slipping under the sofa.

"You're not having a good day either then, huh?" She sighed.

Every drawer in the morgue was full, and she had an endless list of post-mortems for the next day. Her back ached from bending over the steel tables day after day. Her arms throbbed from having to use the saw far more than usual, and she suspected the Barts one was going to need replacing soon. She shouldn't have to exert that much force, which meant something was off.

It had been a brutal and ugly December in London. It seemed to her that people wanted to do their worst to each other when it was supposed to be a time of loving and good cheer. But all Molly saw were bruises and body bags and human failings.

It was bound to be a hard holiday anyway, she knew. Sherlock would be gone for a second Christmas. And while knowing he lived may've spared her grief initially, now she was the one who agonized and worried and waited for his periodic check-ins. John, Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson got to grieve and move on with healing. But Molly was left in limbo, hungry for occasional word of Sherlock, and knowing he would return at tauntingly random intervals.

She never knew when she would come home to find him settled lazily on her sofa, smoking a cigarette and watching telly with his shoes off as though it was his flat. He'd make his phone calls, raid her refrigerator, and dodge her questions about what he'd been up to while he was away. Mostly he slept in her bed while she was at Barts, while Molly tried to not think about the unspoken intimacy of him nestled under her plaid quilt. Sherlock would vanish again after a few days without notice, looking brighter and better rested, but just as determined. The hunt was endless, it seemed, the spider's web more sprawling than even he had deduced.

Molly shuffled to her bedroom, smiling and thinking of Sherlock and his whirlwind presence, how he made her heart race and how she loved his unpredictable mind. She never lied to herself about that. He was a hurricane, whether he was leaving a mess in her morgue in the old days or dropping by her flat two months ago to have her dig a bullet from his calf.

"Don't ask," he'd said curtly while she probed the wound with a gloved finger. His overcoat was filthy and a fist-sized bruise was forming on his cheek. He squeezed his eyes shut and collapsed back onto her sofa pillows.

"I wasn't going to ask," she replied, examining the opening in his leg. It wasn't deep, but she wasn't used to extracting bullets from living people. It would likely scar.

Sherlock opened one eye and assessed her. His skin had been ashen and sweaty that night. "John would ask. And then he'd write it up while chastising me like my mother."

"I'm not John," Molly said quietly. "Or your mum." She retrieved her equipment and a bottle of Scotch from the kitchen. "Haven't gotten any anesthetic. Take a shot, and ah, try to breathe."

The bullet came out quickly. Sherlock gripped her hip as she leaned over him, hurting her, but Molly said nothing. He stayed remarkably still, and exhaled in a great ragged rush as the bullet slid from his flesh.

Molly closed the wound neatly. Sherlock's hand relaxed into limpness on her hip, while his breathing gradually evened out. She focused on her stitches to try and tune out the warmth of his hand on her. From time to time, the mouth of the bottle returned to his lips. Each exhaled breath carried the scent of peaty scotch, more pleasant than the metallic tang of blood in the air. She worked steadily, forcing herself to pretend that she was facing a corpse at Barts, and not the man she loved.

It was ghoulish but it worked.

Sherlock slept on her sofa that evening, but was gone in the morning. She had no idea where he'd gone to recuperate fully but three days later she received an unsigned text from a blocked phone number that said, "Thank you, Molly."

She carried on with the secret in her heart that Sherlock was still out there. She had managed to help him a second time. She walked with a lighter step and when she passed Martha Hudson in the street by the market the following week, the usual guilty weight in her gut lessened. Her smile at the older woman was genuine.

He lived.


She'd assumed she would see him soon after that, to check his wound and to make sure infection had not set in, but Sherlock went underground again, leaving Molly to wonder. Now it was almost Christmas and there had still been no word from him; only a string of uncreative murders in London and the spectre of another holiday alone kept her mind occupied.

Molly changed into her favorite red pyjamas, throwing on a purple cardigan when she realized how chilly her flat was. Feeling better, she headed back to the kitchen and filled up Toby's water bowl and food dish. She gathered up the stack of gifts and set them on the table. She'd planned on wrapping them but it suddenly seemed like a daunting task.

"Sod it." She flopped down on the sofa, and turned on the television, settling comfortably into the cushions.

God, even my bum hurts after that shift today. Molly rearranged the cushions beneath her. Hoisting dead bodies was no laughing matter, and there was never help around when you needed it. She flipped through the channels and found a soap replaying an earlier episode.

Onscreen, a woman was laying face-down, clad only in a towel, while a masseur gave her a thorough rub-down. The woman slipped ear buds in and drifted off, luxuriating in the massage while listening to music.

Oh, that looks fantastic. I wonder how much a massage costs these days. I should treat myself.

A moment later another woman slipped into the room and the masseur met her eyes. A roll of money passed between hands. They nodded without speaking, and the two switched places. The man exited the room quietly. The second woman slid her hands over the oil-shiny back of the woman on the massage table. Her hands glided over the slim woman, came to rest over her neck…and then her hands slid around to choke her. The fingers locked into a deadly strangling hold, and the scene dramatically cut to black.

"Oh for god's sake, can't get away from murder anywhere," Molly said, exasperated. "And how does she expect to get away with that anyway; probably a dozen people saw her go into the spa! Fingerprints everywhere. Stupid murderers." She turned the television off and threw the remote control on the coffee table, next to a notebook.

Molly's eyes wandered over to the notebook, and she picked it up, along with the pen laying over it. She opened it, intending to vent her irritation over the day the way she often did in her notebook. (It was also where she used to write thoughts about Sherlock before he started sneaking into her flat and appropriating her belongings.) She curled up on the sofa again, and put pen to paper.

Her mind flashed on the scene she was just watching: the way the masseur's hands rolled over the woman's lower back, and how she had sighed with pleasure.

Words of complaint flew from Molly's mind, and the memory of Sherlock's elegant hands took their place. His long pale fingers, strong and agile. His short, clean nails, never ragged or chewed, but always smoothly manicured. She remembered how his fingers curled around tools at Barts- gripping the riding crop and controlling the blows, or manipulating the focusing knobs on his favorite microscope in the lab.

Unbidden, the vision of Sherlock's palms smoothing over her back filled her brain. What would it feel like to have those hands pressing into her skin, finding the knots of tension that made her ache? To have him massaging her all over until she moaned beneath his ministrations? She knew he was deceptively powerful for a lean man, but how hard could he work her muscles, she wondered. Molly crossed her legs, chewed on the end of the pen and smiled.

At the top of a fresh page, she wrote 'Dearest Sherlock,' and hesitated. Then with a soft laugh, she began scrawling words in her notebook. She smiled as she wrote, feeling the misery of the day slide away from her. When she finished the letter, she tore it out of the notebook and stuffed the pages in an envelope. Molly stared at it.

"It's not like I'm going to mail it," she reasoned aloud, feeling silly. "Just for fun. Haven't got an address anyhow." Toby popped his head out from under the sofa and meowed up at her, before darting into the kitchen to attack his food.

She dropped the notebook and envelope on the table. She shook her head and laughed.

Dreams were all she'd ever really had of Sherlock romantically, and she was too tired to give herself hell for one more fantasy. With that thought in mind, and still feeling the flush of excitement from her letter-writing, Molly headed for her bedroom.


22nd December. Prague.

He'd been sitting in the unheated café for two hours, growing more and more furious when the other man finally showed. He'd been tempted to leave. His calf where he'd been shot was healed but it still ached in the cold. Perhaps it always would.

The packet of messages dropped into his lap, nearly landing in the cup of black coffee he held.

Sherlock's left eyebrow rose but he didn't deign to look up.

"Late as usual." He peripherally noted the messenger's shoes: glossy but scuffed on the insteps. Clearly not being cared for the owner's usual personnel, and not in England either. "I see the Venezuelan situation is getting worse. The election will be interesting." He took a sip of his coffee, and flipped through the stack of envelopes. The correspondences were expected updates on Moran sightings. Belfast, Paramaribo, Chicago, possibly Melbourne, Beijing- that was interesting. Hmm.

"Though I treasure these brotherly spats," Mycroft commented drily, "I've no time. At least one of us has to see Mummy this year for Christmas and it very well can't be you, and there is business to attend to in London." He reached into his coat and drew out another envelope.

Sherlock looked up, and frowned. He snatched the blank envelope from his brother and tore it open.

His forehead creased in puzzlement.

There was no mistaking Molly's tidy handwriting on the page inside. How could she be so careless as to address something to him publicly? Why would she? It was stationery from her home, he knew, pages torn from the youthful composition notebooks she favored. The ones where she used to write about him sometimes before his public death, before he ever set foot in her flat. She had caught him browsing the older notebooks on her coffee table one dull afternoon after his death and there was a lengthy shrieking fit.

He smirked faintly at the memory. Molly was an unfocused collector, an enthusiastic gatherer of things, and deducing her history in the assortment of whimsies gathered in her home had been rather fun…for him.

His eyes flew over the letter (the salutation of Dearest Sherlock touching a dark chord in his memory of a Christmas buried deep in his mind palace) and his mind went blank for a full three seconds. When he recovered, he found Mycroft smiling at him with the most appallingly pleasant and smug expression.

"You read this?" he accused.

"You know we screen all her outgoing post, Sherlock. It's a necessary precaution. I screened that batch myself however." Mycroft shrugged, his face the perfect picture of innocence.

Sherlock knew he owed his brother a huge debt, but at the moment, he was fighting the urge not to drown Mycroft in the Vltava River.

He settled for dumping his cup of scalding hot coffee onto his brother's socks.

The British Government yelped and swore at his little brother. Satisfied with Mycroft's dignity in tatters, Sherlock hurried out of the café with Molly's letter stuffed deep in his pocket, tight in his fist.


Dearest Sherlock,

Every muscle in my body aches tonight, and for some reason, I keep thinking of you. Maybe it's the busy days at Barts; you would love the variety of bodies coming in, and the unsolved murders that need your attention. And you are needed here, very much. And not just by the police.

Every part of me aches tonight, from my neck down to the intrinsics of my feet, and I want to feel your hands on my body, working the kinks out. They drive me wild sometimes, those hands of yours, the way they move the bow on your violin. Watching you play when you paced around my flat was the worst tease, and the best. I want to know what it's like to feel your strength pressing into me. I need some kind of release after all this time, wound like a coil with electricity running through me, waiting for the energy to go somewhere. Hiding the truth from everyone, and hoping you'll be free soon. Missing your stupid messes all over the lab. Barts has been hell this month, and everything hurts.

But if you were here right now? I know what I would want, more than anything: a massage. It probably sounds silly. But I can't remember the last time I had one, and your hands were made for it. You have beautiful hands, and if anyone can make me feel entire boneless and happy sometimes, it's you. I want to feel you rubbing the soreness from my arms and legs until I'm floating in an endorphin high. I think I deserve that. And I really do miss you so much, Sherlock.

I hope your leg has healed well.

Love,

Molly

xxx


Sitting on the creaky bed, Sherlock folded the pages and tucked them back into the envelope. He stared at the wall of his hotel room blankly, summoning his mind palace. He hovered on the brink of the sheer fluidic construction, realizing he had no idea where to file the contents of the letter.

He stood and scanned the tiny room. The ancient phone on the desk wasn't hooked up for long-distance calls, but he realized as he picked up the receiver that he didn't need that. The action crystallized his intentions.

The hotel concierge picked up after one ring. Sherlock's Czech was rusty but he managed to convey his need. At first the concierge thought he was looking for a more adult form of entertainment and tried to refer him to a disreputable house but Sherlock grew impatient and cut him off.

"No, no, not that kind of massage." He rolled his eyes at the phone. "The actual kind."


24th December. Christmas Eve. London.

Molly sunk into the sofa, flipping through the channels until landing on one that played seasonal music. A familiar tune came on, a haunting version of "Carol of the Bells." She used to sing the song every year in her senior school choir. Molly was an alto of only average talent but she loved the eerie soft tones of the harmony. She blamed her choir days for her lifelong affinity for dark-haired baritones.

She set the control aside, and threw her arm over her eyes. Her landlord had finally repaired the boiler and her flat was toasty warm. She stretched out and wiggled her toes, enjoying the luxury of not having to be bundled up in flannel clothes and dressing gowns at all times. The moment she'd gotten home, she'd shed her day clothes, showered and then tumbled onto the sofa happily, letting her hair air-dry. After putting on her bra and knickers, her energy gave out. She'd been planning on popping out to fetch a bottle of wine to make the night pass quicker, but the effort of getting dressed wasn't worth it. She made do with a finger of scotch from a bottle she'd had for ages.

Molly sat up and stared at the glass and the bottle on the table. She picked it up, tracing the letters on the worn single-malt label, recollecting when she'd last touched the bottle.

The rim of the bottle brushing against Sherlock's lips, his full mouth drawn thin in a pained grimace. The scent of the scotch on his breath. His hand on her hip, his anchor in that moment. The weariness in his face when he passed out on the sofa where she sat now. The old blanket she'd draped over him. She'd meant to get him a clean set of clothes in the morning but he vanished like a ghost in the night. Nothing left of him in the morning but bloody gauze on the floor and a nearly empty bottle on the table.

Molly raised the bottle and pressed it to her lips. She tipped it back, and the rich liquid sloshed into her mouth too quickly. She gulped down a mouthful and it burned. Molly coughed, and then gagged.

"Dammit," she laughed. "Here's to you, Sherlock Holmes."

And then there was a knock at the door.


It was an entirely reasonable request, as he saw it.

She had provided efficient, necessary service at Barts for years, and far more than that in his hour of greatest need. He had been almost certain of his death when he stood in the lab watching John work that day, not realizing Molly was studying him in turn. He hadn't known he needed to have any more guards up; it was just Molly after all. Her heart was in her eyes, but she never demanded, only hoped. He didn't know she could pierce him with something as gentle as hope.

She had every reason to turn him away when he approached her in the dark. She lived with the knowledge of what Jim Moriarty was, what he could have done to her; every day she realized the meek computer nerd she dated was really a murderer. If Sherlock failed, if he was wrong and Moriarty walked away from the rooftop, the criminal would quickly work out who at Barts had helped Sherlock.

He knew Molly almost as well Sherlock did, before the fall.

Molly's desire for him had occasionally been a minor distraction. Something he gave thought to only in the rare times he paid attention to his body's needs. Sometimes her crush was convenient, but ultimately it was not a matter he should focus on. When he understood the depth of her feeling for him, while he was tangled up with the Woman, he had been momentarily sickened with the knowledge of what love did to people. What he did to people. To Molly.

Dearest Sherlock…xxx

A pattern.

He had never been able to simply be with people without hurting them, it seemed initially. Even in friendship. Moriarty had made sure of that, in the end. But time had passed. Sherlock had won the game, and something had changed. Sherlock was quick to deduce but slower to understand when it came to emotions. Sentiment could cloud vision, and while he had thought that eliminating it was the correct plan of action, he had learned that it could also benefit him. Make him stronger, more determined.

More willing to fight, to survive, to come home to what was his.

Moriarty's final game had backfired. In taking Sherlock away from everyone, he understood now what they were to him.

John, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade. Yes, Moriarty had helped him, in the end.

And Molly. He wondered if Moriarty had ever realized what she was capable when he stood in the lab of Barts with his arm around her, grinning at Sherlock.

Sherlock remembered Molly's cool determination as she extracted the bullet from his leg months before. He didn't remember deciding he needed to go to her flat. He could have called Mycroft, but when he stumbled out from beneath the bridge where he'd fought, bleeding and blinded with pain, his instincts took him to a taxi and her address spilled from his lips.

This time he was healthy and whole, clean and bullet-free. Sherlock had spent a day and a half observing the best massage therapist in Prague. The woman had been initially confused by his request but more receptive after an obscene amount of cash was exchanged. Then she had shrugged and been rather charmed when he impatiently explained his purpose.

"Oh, I see." She smiled broadly and slapped his shoulder. "You use this, she'll purr for you, alright? Best boyfriend ever."

"She's not my girlfriend."

"I see, you are trying."

"No, no, I'm just giving her a massage because she wants one."

"If she just wants a massage, why don't you hire a masseuse for half what you pay me to teach you, mister smart guy? Sit. Stop talking. You talk too much. Listen more, and learn."

In a rare show of discretion, Sherlock did what he was told, and learned.

He was back in London on Christmas Eve.


Molly squinted through the peep hole, opened the door, and threw herself in Sherlock's arms. She dragged him into the flat excitedly while he glanced downward. His blue eyes shone with amusement.

"Oh my god!" Molly's face turned pink and she darted into her bedroom. She came back out draped in an old white dressing gown. In her excitement (and the scotch) she'd forgotten she'd been lazing around in just her underthings.

Sherlock hung his coat up and stepped out of his shoes comfortably. She didn't know where he'd been, but he looked clean and healthy, and she saw no limp in his stride. He dressed as he always had, though last time she saw him, he had affected a different style of dress. She wondered if this was a sign of Sherlock returning for good.

The blush faded quickly from her cheeks. After everything they'd been through together, Sherlock glimpsing her in her knickers wasn't the end of the world. They were adults, after all and they'd been through a lot together. Still, she grabbed the bottle of scotch off the table and sloshed some into the glass as a distraction.

Toby streaked across the room, stopped short by Sherlock's legs, and hissed at him.

"Likewise," he retorted. Offended, the cat lifted his tail in his direction and headed for the kitchen.

"Sorry, don't know why Toby isn't a fan of yours." Molly coughed to cover the laugh she was smothering. She'd often thought how much her cat reminded her of Sherlock; the two creatures were both imperious and sulky in turns.

"Some animals resent another man being in their territory."

"I don't think that's why. He loved Jim."

"Well, we've established that Toby has atrocious taste."

She laughed. "How long are you staying this time? Oh, do you want some? I was just celebrating Christmas." She hummed along happily as "The First Noel" came onto the telly-radio station. The last of the Scotch was poured into a tumbler for Sherlock.

"Thank you. I can stay for a night, I believe." He rummaged through the pockets of his coat, extracted something and slipped it into his trousers pocket.

"What's that?"

"Something a bossy woman in Prague told me would be very effective. Part of a Christmas gift. For you, actually." He unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows, displaying his forearms. After a few seconds of thought, he unbuttoned an additional button at his throat as well. Then he finally accepted the glass of Scotch, took a sip and wrinkled his nose. "I don't recall this tasting like window cleaner before."

"Well, you had lost a lot of blood. A gift for me? Really?" She smiled, and felt her mouth go dry, eyeing his display of skin. She gulped down more scotch. "Are you going to be doing…some sort of handiwork?" She added, "You didn't have to do that. You don't owe me a thing, and gifts, they're not really your sort of thing."

"Why not? Isn't that what people do? It'll need to be in your bedroom though. This room won't do."

She glanced around. The weirdness was typical Sherlock. She shrugged, and set down the glass. "Alright."


Molly sat on the edge of her bed, crossing and uncrossing her arms, trying to find a comfortable position. She fiddled with the ties on the old dressing gown, waiting for Sherlock to explain.

He stood over her, cataloguing the changes that had been made to her bedroom since he'd seen it last.

New sheets on the bed, a different frame for the photo of her father, fresh chips on the legs of the bedside table- oh she's moved it over by approximately thirty centimeters. Careless when she moved it, scratched the wardrobe door.

"Sherlock?" Her eyebrows were raised. She'd moved from fiddling with her gown ties to playing with her brown hair, long and loose over her shoulders and chest.

"Right! I came to give you a massage." He dipped in his pocket and retrieved the bottle of light-textured oil the matron in Prague had gifted him with. She'd assured him it was an excellent brand for therapeutic massage, non-greasy and unscented. "I have a bottle of-"

Molly was staring at him, open-mouthed and brown-eyes wide, showing something akin to horror. "You came to what?" Her eyes zeroed in on the bottle of oil.

Damn. I should have planned this portion of the gift better. Sherlock darted around the corridors of his mind searching for ways to make the shaken look disappear from her face.

"A massage. It's only logical you would need one. When I saw you last, when you helped me with my bullet wound, it was clear Barts was understaffed and that it was affecting your posture. The stoop caused by an excessive post-mortem load with insufficient assistance in moving bodies. That's why I thought-"

"You read my letter." Molly flushed red from forehead down to her throat. "The one I lost."

"Oh for God's sake." He threw his hands in the air. "Yes. My receiving it was one of Mycroft's tricks, no doubt. Thought he was being clever." He sat beside Molly, and she scooted back. "My leg is doing much better, by the way."

Molly covered her face with her palms. He thought she would speak after a minute, yell or swear at him, but she remained frozen in mortification. He tried to consider what someone else would do in his situation, attempted to imagine how John would handle a woman sensitively if he were sitting there on the bed. He came up empty of ideas. He sat awkwardly beside Molly, holding a bottle of oil and feeling like an idiot.

In the end, the only thing that broke the stasis was, strangely enough, thinking of the Czech masseuse and her crafty remarks.

"If she just wants a massage, why don't you hire a masseuse for half what you pay me to teach you, mister smart guy?

"I could have paid someone else." He cleared his throat. "Or ignored the letter altogether."

Molly's fingers slid downward. She eyed him sidelong. "Why didn't you?"

In his mind, the configuration of words swirled and danced just out of reach. He caught the thread of one thought.

Something to fight for, something to come home to.

"Because I wanted to touch you."


Molly stretched over her bed, reveling in the feel of her new sheets underneath her bare belly. Her dressing gown lay in a puddle of fabric on the floor. The muscles of her back rolled under Sherlock's palms, and she bit her bottom lip to contain her sighs and moans. He brushed her hair aside so it pooled to the right of her head, and he reached up to dig into the muscles around her neck. His long fingers sought out the knots in her overworked body, his thumbs pressing in until she moaned aloud. He pulled away only to pour more oil into his hands, warmed up with a brisk rub. And then his fingertips trailed down her sides with a light massage until she shivered.

His feathery touch drew a giggle from her.

"Sorry."

She felt his weight on the bed shift, his knees moving more toward the center. "It's fine." His hands came to rest on her lower back, and then he was digging deep again until his fingertips slid upward and met the barrier of her bra strap. He hesitated. "Molly?"

"Undo it." She didn't look up at him; she was still afraid to ask what any of it meant, afraid to ask if this was a dream, some sort of pervert's Christmas Carol. She smiled at the thought, glad her face was hidden.

The clasp came apart, and then his heated fingers had the entire expanse of her back to play with. She was jelly in his palms before long, and then his hands slid along the waistband of her knickers.

Do or die, Molly, she dared herself. She sat up, letting the bra slip forward off her arms and onto the mattress.

"This will be easier," she said lightly, shimmying out of her knickers and tossing them onto the floor, along with the bra.


Molly lay back onto the bed, settling comfortably on her belly, with her breasts and pert arse bare. Everything bare, though she'd kept her front turned away from him as she shucked her knickers. Small blessings.

Sherlock was utterly dismayed to feel his body respond. He'd wanted to touch her. That's what all of this was about: touching and stroking her, and making her feel good in the way that she wanted. Gentle and healing, in the way that she had healed him.

Gentle was the last thing he felt as he squirted more oil onto his palms and regarded her body. He knelt between her thighs and Molly sighed happily.

"This is really lovely, Sherlock. Thank you." She closed her eyes in bliss.

His fingers, slick with oil, slid over her thighs, caressing until he found the tender spots. Remember the techniques, he warned himself. Focus.

She squirmed with his ministrations, occasionally pleading for more in certain spots. When he couldn't avoid it any longer, his palms glided up to the globes of her arse, massaging her glutes. Molly bucked into his palms, her hands curled into fists. Her eyes flew open, and abruptly she rolled over, throwing his hands off her.

"I apologize," he rushed out, shifting backward on the bed. The hard-on in his trousers made him clumsy.

"Don't," she said. A sly, un-Molly-like smile spread over her face. "I just wanted you to do my front, too."

"Your front?"

Her bravado faltered. "I mean if you want to…"

Sherlock nodded. His fingers shook on his buttons. "I'm going to ruin my shirt at this rate."

She grinned. Relief was writ large on her face. "Yes you are. And your trousers."

"Right." His clothing joined hers on the floor. Molly's eyes widened when she saw his state of arousal, and she grinned proudly. Then she knelt down and stroked the new scar on his calf formed by her stitches. "I'm sorry I didn't do a better job here though."

"Shut up, you were fantastic. Lay down, you're not done yet. Front, yes?" He poured out more oil, and set to work.


Molly was shining from toes to shoulders by the time Sherlock was done working her over, and she was painfully turned-on from the drawn-out tease.

He flicked his tongue over her nipples as his fingers massaged her inner thighs. "They didn't instruct me in this technique," he murmured, "But I feel it's sound."

"Who is this 'they'?" Molly gasped, spreading her legs further apart. "I'll have to –ahhh- send them my regards."

"Cranky old woman in Prague," he said, tonguing at the curve under her breast. She shuddered as he massaged her upper thighs in unison with his licking. "Her commentary was more helpful than her massage abilities, as it turns out."

"Really?"

"Yes." He leaned in and kissed Molly softly. Their arms slid around each other: his hands tangled in her waves of hair, hers in his dark curls. They rolled together over the bed, kissing each other breathless, until she pushed him off long enough to reach into her bedside table to dig up a condom.

Sherlock hopped out of bed and ran to the loo to wash his hands.

"I don't mind," Molly called. He returned and took the condom from her.

"I do," he replied, opening the packet. "Don't want to break down the latex with oils." He covered his cock in the condom, and reached to roll Molly under him.

She broke his hold on her arm, pushed him onto his back, and climbed onto his lap. "Not with that leg. I didn't fix you up just to break you again."

Sherlock squeezed her hips, and reached between them to slip two fingers into her wetness. They slid in easily, slicked by the slow-burn of his deep massage. Molly rocked on his fingers and widened her knees.

"More."

He positioned himself against her slit, rubbing the sheathed wide head of his cock against her channel, and at last Molly sank down onto him. She laid her hands flat on his chest at first, trying to anchor herself, but the oil left them slippery, and so she dug her nails in and rode him slowly. Sherlock's teeth gritted and his nostrils flared as he fucked into her, his nails digging into her hips in return. She swiveled her hips and took from his body what she needed until there was nothing left of Molly that hadn't been pleasured. What Sherlock hadn't given her, she'd taken, and he gave it gladly, with his hips pumping and their flesh hot against each other.

Her orgasm arrived with a wail, and he followed just after, his hands stroking her arse as he came.


He disposed of the condom and crawled back into bed with her.

"You know, I thought this would be maybe one of the worst Christmases ever." Her hand roamed over his chest as she cuddled against him. "Can you really only stay for a night?"

"Yes." He kissed her forehead. "There have been sightings of Moran. Good, confirmed ones. Once he's eliminated, Moriarty's network is completely done for, and I should be able to return safely. And you'll be safe then."

"But if you're confronting Moran, his lieutenant, doesn't that mean you could…? I mean, he's dangerous." She craned her neck up to look Sherlock in the eye. "You're here, and I can hardly believe it, but you're here, and I couldn't bear it if you didn't come back again. The others have gotten to grieve together. If I lost you now, I'd have to grieve alone." She sniffled.

Sherlock tipped her chin up to him. "He's dangerous, yes, but he's no Moriarty. Besides, I have Mycroft's team, I have my own contacts and best of all, I have me."

Her gathering tears dried, and laughter welled up in their place. "Well then. That's sorted. We have tonight at least."

"I hope it was an acceptable gift, despite me having to run off tomorrow."

"It was immensely suitable." She pulled him down for a long kiss. Her body hummed with warmth and she felt whole. "Merry Christmas, love. Whatever happens tomorrow, happens. But promise you'll fight your hardest to come back to me."

"Obviously. I have more reason than ever to come home. Merry Christmas, Molly Hooper."