A/N: Well, y'all asked for more Sherlolly one-shots, so here's a new one. I haven't seen S3E2 yet (this is what I did while I was downloading) so I like to think it's between S3E1 and 2. As always, reviews are most appreciated. They feed my muse! ;)
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Molly Hooper wasn't really a party person. She never had been. It was no secret that social situations weren't really her area. She never really knew what to say or what to wear so she always ended up doing something that made her look like a big donkey in front of everyone. In school she was invited to a party and when she showed up, the address was all wrong and she knocked on the door of a retirement home. At university, a boy whose name escapes her now, invited her to accompany him to a party where he promptly got drunk, tried to grope her through her winter coat and then threw up on her Wellies. And then of course there was what everyone had grown to refer to as The Desolation of Christmas in which Sherlock had utterly humiliated her in front of all their friends. Molly was not a party person. But Greg Lestrade was a good friend and you only turned fifty once, right? So she'd suck it up and pretend to have a nice time. And then, she'd save the heartbreaking for later.
That's right, the upside of this whole thing was that she could put off the inevitable scene of breaking off her engagement for another couple of hours. She spun the dazzling diamond ring on the end of her finger and sighed. As if she weren't already feeling like the world's most horrible person, she had to admit that the only reason she'd put it off this long was so that she would have a date to this party. And Tom did look nice in his suit. Nice. Ugh… Nice was such a horrible word. She didn't used to think so. She was a nice girl. Tom was a nice boy. If they got married, they'd have a nice life where they could raise a flock of nice children. Suddenly she heard Sherlock's voice in the back of her mind, parroting her thoughts, "Uggh, nice. Nice is boring." He was right. Nice is boring. Nice is halfway between good and evil. Never choosing a side. She'd rather be bold. Bold people were annoyed by nice people. Bold people said whatever came into their heads, uncaring about consequences as long as it was the truth. Bold people jumped off buildings to save their friends' lives. Nice people cried at their funerals.
"Hello, Molly." She looked up from her glass to see Sherlock standing in front of her. Great. Just what she needed. He stood there, looking beautiful, of course. His cheekbones looked freshly polished and his hair stylishly windblown. She rolled her eyes thinking that even with his suit jacket thrown over his forearm and the topmost buttons of his crisp white shirt unbuttoned that he looked more put together than Tom who was suffering through a three-piece suit even though they were seated at a table by the fireplace.
"Oh. Hi Sherlock," she said, taking a sip of the chardonnay that had grown warm and sour in the bottom her wineglass. "Didn't think I'd see you here tonight."
"I've decided, since my return, to try and be more…"
"Normal," he finished. "And Grady…"
"Whatever. Greg is a friend. I thought I'd give him the gift of my presence."
Molly smirked. "John made you come, didn't he?"
"He threatened to cut off my supply of nicotine patches." He didn't wait to be asked and sat down in the chair opposite her, throwing his jacket carelessly over the seat that had been occupied by Tom. "I see you're still wearing your ring." He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing about their discussion at the morgue earlier in the week.
"Don't start…" she sighed.
"I wasn't going to say a word."
"Liar." Molly crossed her arms tightly across her chest, giving herself a reassuring hug against the cold stare of Sherlock Holmes. "You always have something to say."
"I think I said my piece on that. Do what you think is best." They sat in silence for several moments, watching people pass by and occasionally waving pleasantly. John and Mary danced by them, looking like a pair of cranes as they waved their arms around to some cheesy song from the eighties. "So where is young Thomas?"
"No. I don't want to talk about Tom with you, Sherlock," she snapped.
"Why?" he chuckled.
"Because you'll just sit there and run him down."
"I will not!"
"Oh but you will. You always do. It's like you can't help it. Some kind of weird Tourette's. 'Oh hello Molly. How are things? By the way, your boyfriend's a gay sociopathic killer. Care for some chips?' No thank you, Sherlock. He may not be… the man of my dreams or anything, but he doesn't deserve to be picked apart by you." She went into her purse, coming up with a hair tie and twisting her long, auburn hair into a high ponytail.
"So you're breaking it off then?"
"Of course I am," she mumbled, taking a sip from her water goblet. "I just have to pick the right moment. I don't want to hurt his feelings."
Sherlock nodded in that horribly condescending way he had. Everyone knew what he was thinking when he did that. "Good. Good plan."
"Oh don't do that," she sighed.
"That, 'oh isn't she an adorable moron,' face."
Sherlock laughed. "I don't do that."
"Yes you do. And it's bloody irritating." She sighed and leaned on the heel of her hand. "And if you must know… we're going for coffee after we leave here. I'll break it off then." Sherlock nodded again and Molly nearly giggled. He was actually making an effort to keep his expression constant as he did so. "I'm doing the right thing, aren't I?"
"I can't tell you the answer to that, Molly. I fear that my opinion would be… biased and unwelcome."
"You're right. Let's change the subject." They sat there for another minute, the silence so heavy that it was giving her a headache.
"God no." Molly looked around the room, wondering where on earth Tom might be. Suddenly the air in here was so close. Suffocating. "What about you, Sherlock? Did you come with a date?"
It was his turn to raise an eyebrow. "I don't date, Molly. You know that."
"Oh that's right. Married to your work." Molly offered her sassy, thin-lipped smile that she reserved for when she was privy to the private joke.
"It makes things less complicated." He leaned forward, fiddling with the unused cocktail napkin. "Besides, the only person I'm interested in dating is decidedly… unavailable."
Molly's voice caught in her throat and she choked, coughing until she had to take another sip of her water. "Oh really?" Who could he be talking about? She sifted through a mental list of all the women she'd ever seen Sherlock even speak to. "Someone I know?"
"Most definitely." He smirked and took his jacket from the chair beside him. He reached into the pocket and pulled something out that Molly couldn't quite see. "Since we're just sitting here and neither of us want to talk about Tom, let's play a game."
"A game? What sort of game?"
"A game of deduction. We examine an object and you tell me everything you can about the person that owned it. When you're stuck, you give it back and I'll do the same. We'll continue until one or the other of us can't deduce anything else. Last man standing, wins. Want to play?"
"No! I'd have to be crazy to play with you. I'm really not in the mood to be humiliated in public."
"Don't be silly. You were doing quite well the other day. You're a clever girl, Molly Hooper." He winked, knowing that he had her. She wanted to slap him. She hated it when he did that. Why was he so good at manipulating her? "Good. The object, then. Something belonging to the only person I'd ever be interested in dating." He set the object on the table between them. A perfectly ordinary pen like the ones she used in the morgue. Like everyone used at Bart's. "There. The game is on. Do go first, Miss Hooper."
Molly picked up the pen and turned it over in her hands. "A plastic, ballpoint pen."
"Excellent observation, but I had hoped you'd go deeper."
"Pink, so probably a woman's pen. So at least we know you're not gay." The corner of her mouth quirked. "She likes this pen. You can see where it's worn on the shaft just over the nib. The grip is almost worn smooth there. And of course she's right handed, given the position of the wear marks. The larger mark is where her thumb rests. If she were left handed it would be reversed." She put the pen down on the table again and arched her eyebrow. "Your turn."
Sherlock nodded and picked it up. "All right. The owner of this pen is nervous. For one thing, it's a ballpoint pen, not a rollerball or fountain pen. A nervous person would never choose a pen with loose ink because they would be afraid of smearing it across the page. Also, the ink is blue, not black, indicating that she's never absolutely sure. You see, black ink is much harder to cover up than blue. If she makes a mistake, it's easily fixed, and she hates for anyone to see her mistakes. Hates it so much that she makes them more obvious. And then there's the clicking mechanism. It's very loose. Like someone's been clicking it over and over. Another nervous habit." He balanced the pen between his fingertips and held it out to her once more. "Your turn."
"Is this really fair, Sherlock? I mean, you obviously know who the pen belongs to."
"Yes, but I want to know if you know." He smirked and offered the pen once more. "Off you go."
She narrowed her eyes and took the pen. "Fine. Uhm… this is her favorite pen. Look at the nib. It doesn't fully descend when it's pressed against the paper because the spring inside is worn. That tells me that she uses it over and over. Not a lot. Just to jot little notes, but she keeps it in her pocket so that it's on hand when she needs it. You can tell that because the little clippy thing on the side has been bent slightly, like it's been clipped on something over and over. Probably a coat pocket. And then there's the clicking mechanism up at the top that you mentioned before. She chews on it. A lot. When she's thinking and obviously she thinks a lot because the little plastic thingie is chewed almost to a point. There are also traces of lipstick around the edges." Suddenly Molly's mouth is like a desert and she has to lick her lips to wet them. She can feel herself blushing. "…indicating that when she chews the pen, she suckles gently on the tip. It's unconscious, otherwise there would be more of it. There's just the tiniest bit of the tinted, greasy stuff caught in the seam where it's put together." She sniffed at the plastic tip. "The lipstick is cheap-ish. Like something you'd buy from the chemist, not a department store. You can still smell the synthetic fat that was used to make it. She doesn't buy the expensive stuff anymore. She's no longer hopeful. And given the teeth marks, her mouth is pretty small anyway." She put the pen back down on the table and pushed it toward Sherlock, looking up to lock eyes with him. "Your turn."
"That was impressive, Miss Hooper. Of course you forgot the most obvious thing." He picked up the pen and ran his fingertips along the shaft. There had once been letters there. "See these marks here?"
"Letters. Obvious, Sherlock. Most pens have letters on the side unless they're those expensive jobbies. But they're gone. What help could they be?"
"Yes, but if you look closely you'll see that you can just see the edges of the letters. The others could be anything but look here…" He scooted over closer to Molly and pointed out what looked like a tiny x. "See this, it's obvious from its position that it's the symbol for a prescription. Rx. Which means that the owner of this pen probably got this from a pharmaceutical salesman. The owner works in the medical profession in some capacity. Or she's friendly with someone who is."
Sherlock was so close as he held the pen close to her so that they could examine it together. She could feel his breath on her cheek and the warmth of his body against her bare shoulder. She turned her head slightly, watching him as he continued rattling off deductions about the pen, no longer really listening. The ends of his hair tickled her forehead and she closed her eyes. She knew she was leaning into him, but she couldn't help it and he didn't stop her.
He brought the pen to his nose, inhaling the scent of it. "And of course… you can just pick up the scent of formaldehyde mixed with this earthy spiced scent like cedar and rose petals. Her perfume of course. Very Bohemian. Free-spirited like she always wanted to be before age and responsibility took their toll. But her perfume… it's like the ghost of the girl that lurks under her skin." He turned his head and their noses bumped into one another, their lips almost touching. Just an instant and then it was gone. He pulled back fast, dropping the pen. "I'm… sorry."
"No… no need." She smiled. That nervously innocent, schoolgirl smile she couldn't stop whenever Sherlock was in the room. "You won fair and square."
"So sorry, Mols. I was stopped by John and Mary over there." Tom stumbled gracelessly past Sherlock. "We got to talking about their upcoming nuptials and I got sidetracked." He leaned over and kissed her cheek, holding out her coat. "Are you ready to go, darling?"
"Yes," she replied, glancing up at Sherlock's face once more before standing. "I think so. Sherlock was just keeping me company."
Tom turned and offered his hand. "Mr. Holmes! So sorry, how rude of me. How are you?"
Sherlock smiled warmly and gave Tom's hand a firm shake as he stood up. "I'm well. I just came over to… give Molly her pen." He held it out to her. Their fingers brushed momentarily. "You left this at my flat the other day when you were helping me with that case."
Molly stared at the pen in disbelief. How could she have forgotten it was hers? "Thanks… I've been looking for it everywhere. It's my favorite."
"I know." Sherlock gave a final wink and turned, leaving them behind and joining the crowd.