I haven't had any Sherlock inspiration for a long time, but suddenly, I do.

NOTE: This story will be told in many short scenes and probably won't be regularly updated, but I promise that it will be good fun full of fluff, angst, delicious misunderstandings, Sherlock's awkward yet strangely adorable romantic attempts, and umbrellas.

The One and Only Disclaimer: I don't own it. Obviously.

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One: It Started Here

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Whatever made Sherlock come to the realization that he could not do without Molly Hooper, no one ever knew. I certainly didn't, and I still don't. Perhaps not even Sherlock knew exactly what it was, but how one comes into possession of the facts is not nearly as important as the facts themselves. At least, that's what Sherlock thought on this particular matter, and it was most likely because he didn't want to think about how he came into possession of the facts. It is, after all, a serious blow to one's pride when one realizes that he has been embarrassingly wrong about something, which Sherlock certainly was. He had been wrong about Molly.

Very wrong. (And, one day, I will be very happy to remind him that I told him so.)

He had thought her to be simple and shy, easily swayed and quick to roll over if anyone commanded it of her. She was a loyal dog at best and a timid mouse at worst, and certainly not an attractive character in any way. Physically, perhaps, she might be seen as somewhat attractive, but Sherlock did not care and, therefore, Sherlock did not see. There was a lot that Sherlock didn't see, actually, although he never would have thought it to be true at the time.

While the true tipping point cannot be exacted, Sherlock could certainly remember how it started. Data pileup always started somewhere, and with Molly, it started in the morgue. To put this into perspective for you, I can say that Sherlock had solved quite a few cases and made himself a well-known figure at the Yard, but it was still long before any of them had ever heard of John Watson.

It was Sally Donovan, again. Donovan rarely blessed St. Bart's with her shining presence, but when she did, it usually happened that Sherlock was also there, and whenever Sherlock was there, Molly was always there as well (and there was no coincidence in any of this, if you were wondering).

It was just the three of them. Donovan was there to, as she put it, make a report. Sherlock knew that it was actually more along the lines of keeping an eye on him for Lestrade while simultaneously making transparent jabs at his character. These things were things that he was used to, and these things were things that he hated. In fact, the only thing about this situation that he didn't hate was Molly, and it wasn't as if he liked her. He simply did not find her offensive, and that was very different from like. He didn't like anybody.

It went as it always did. Donovan was blatantly offensive to him and thoughtlessly dismissive of Molly from the moment they arrived at St. Bart's. Molly did not rise to the bait, and Sherlock's insults towards Donovan were wrapped in sarcasm drier than jerky and then smacked across Donovan's face like a wet fish. Before the end of it, if there was a designated end, Molly had actually taken a few steps back and was watching them with wide eyes. Sherlock was too busy with his gloved hands tangled in a cadaver's lower intestines to notice.

But then Donovan tacked the word 'freak' onto the end of one of her dull, vaguely discourteous sentences, and Sherlock realized that it was the forty-sixth time that day that she had called him a freak. That was a new record.

Sherlock carefully extricated himself from the corpse's remains and said that he would be right back. And he meant it, he truly did, but just as he was out the door, he heard:

"Do you ever shut up?"

That was Molly's voice, carrying softly across St. Bart's cold, smooth, disinfected surfaces. Sherlock let the door swing nearly-shut behind him and paused, stepping just enough to the side so that he wouldn't be seen through the windows. He had never heard Molly sound so assertive. In fact, he had never heard her sound assertive at all. It completely contradicted his observations of her character. This was worth some eaves-dropping.

"Excuse me?" Donovan again, voice arching like a cat's back. She sounded just as prickly as usual, although there was a reason for it, this time. Molly had, after all, basically just told the woman to shut up, which was something that Sherlock had never heard anyone, with the exception of himself, dare to do. Donovan got rankled if someone looked at her wrong. It was no surprise that she puffed up at a little thing like Molly challenging her (and wasn't that a surprise?).

"Why are you always saying that sort of thing?" Molly asked. Her voice was just as soft as it always was, whispering as though she was afraid that she might disturb the forever-after sleep of the dead. "He's not hurting you."

Donovan scoffed out a harsh sound that was practically a bark compared to Molly's dove-y cooing. "He shows us all up. Shows you up, too. He's better at your job than you are."

There was a beat of silence in which Sherlock could imagine Molly quirking her eyebrow sharply, as she sometimes did when she was on the edge of not being so agreeable. "You're mean because you're jealous?"

Sherlock had, once, before he decided Molly to be dull, wondered if the girl had higher powers of observation than most. She, even when seemingly engrossed in her work, always knew when he was in the lab, even though he rarely announced his presence. She remembered how he liked his coffee even though he had never actually told her, she remembered which cadavers he had worked with the day before even though he didn't mark them, and she was always ready when he needed something even if he hadn't hinted to needing anything at all before. Either she was painstakingly polite, or she was smarter than average. Before, Sherlock had thought nothing of it, but he was beginning to think that she was both those things.

Instead of answering the question, Donovan went on the offensive. "I'm mean? Because I'm– Ha! What are you, five?"

"Are you?" Molly sounded well and truly puzzled, but Sherlock could detect a vicious scrape of sharp accusation in her tone. "I've never met such a bully."

"Listen here, missy–"

"No, you listen," Molly snapped, or she snapped as much as one could snap without breaking from her constant sub-normal volume. Her voice got hard, though. Not high and not sharp, but hard and cold, like a smooth river stone. "What you do outside of this morgue is not my business, but while you are inside, you are in my territory, and you will be respectful to me and to Sherlock or I will not only toss you out of this building myself, but I will be making a formal report to Detective Inspector Lestrade about your unprofessional behavior, do you understand?"

Sherlock's lips parted in disbelief. He wished that he could peek through the windows and see Molly's face. He wanted to know if her expression was as fierce as her tone. He had never imagined anything so bold in her, so sharp. Not that he had imagined Molly at all, but this was… beyond his skills of deduction. He understood that Bart's was her home base, her personal safety zone, yes, so was this protection of her home ground that he was witnessing? He had many times tromped in and demanded the keys to her kingdom, and she had given them without question. He had never wondered why, though. Had he intimidated her? Apparently not, because Donovan could be intimidating in her own right and Molly didn't sound one bit cowed. Which was, in and of itself, a point of fascination. Sherlock couldn't remember Molly being anything but cowed, but now, she was… well, she was practically a different person. Molly's ever-soft voice was heavy with authority and stinging with the promise of consequences. No one was going to cross Molly Hooper today, not even Sherlock Holmes himself.

"Of course," Donovan said, voice tight and pitching, and that was when Sherlock noticed the blood from his gloves dripping onto the floor.

"Blast," he muttered, sneering at his red-stained gloves.

And that was where it started. But that was years ago.

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This is just writing practice for me, so I appreciate feedback.