Like I warned you, this is a series made up of short scenes. Very short.

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Three: The Girl Who Said No

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Molly was very much aware that she could be too sensitive. She threw her heart into things, cared too much, and took things too hard. She had spent too many showers crying and too many evenings despising the company of all except her cat. Again, she knew all of this and never blamed her emotional boo-boos on anyone else. She very often gave herself a tearful scolding for having gotten so involved, reminding herself that she should have known better and that it always ended like this and that it was her own fault if she got hurt.

That being said, when she felt herself taking a fancy to Sherlock Holmes, it was commendable that she tried to talk herself out of it. She knew, just knew, that nothing good would come out of it. Were she, perhaps, a little more broken and a little less hopeful, she might not have let it go so far.

But she did.

It was a nuisance, really. All of the little details about him stuck to her like burrs. She remembered, without even trying, how he liked his coffee and his tea (she couldn't even remember how she liked her own coffee, half the time). She knew which musicians he seemed to prefer when she played music in the morgue, and she had a whole playlist made up just for him. She knew which instruments he preferred to use when examining bodies, and she kept a clean tray waiting for him. He liked dark colors, not bright ones, but not neutral ones, either, not with that purple shirt of his (she called it the Sexy Purple Shirt in her head, and dreaded the day when her mouth would run ahead of her brain and say that out loud). She even knew about Mycroft, which had to be special, because even Lestrade didn't know about Mycroft, and he was probably closer to Sherlock than anyone else.

For all of that, though, her newest and most irritating problem concerning Sherlock was this: until she had come to his rescue in that drug den, he had not touched her life outside of the morgue.

Sherlock had been an isolated anomaly; someone who she could separate into his own special bubble of reality, quarantined within the morgue so that the rest of her life could not become infected with his presence. Everything she knew about him was irrelevant unless he was present, and he was never present anywhere except for in St. Bart's, and that was fine. She was prepared for that. At certain hours, on certain days, and under certain circumstances, the reality of Sherlock was temporarily brought to life within those grey and white walls. Molly kept Sherlock in that morgue, even within her mind.

But then he called her away from that awful Christmas party and she came to get him from a drug den, in the dark, at nearly-midnight, and he was real. The bubble was broken and the reality of Sherlock was no longer contained within the morgue. He broke free and went forth from those confines, and Molly imagined him in other places, in other scenarios.

It was a problem.

"Terrible nuisance," Molly informed Reginald, giving the grey cat a scratch behind his ears.

She was at home, which was where she preferred to be, and she was at her most comfortable, sitting in an armchair by false-fire heater and sipping on hot tea while Reginald lay splayed across her lap in the laziest fashion possible. This was Molly at her most comfortable, in fuzzy green socks and a patchy grey sweater. It was her day off and she was glad of it. No Sherlock Holmes was going to change that. She didn't care if he needed something. If he came in wanting a severed arm, or something even less tasteful, someone else would have to deal with him. And if Sherlock couldn't handle that, well, what did she care? Today was for her. There would be no pointless Sherlock Holmes pining on her day.

(Actually, there was indeed some mild pining, but it was inadvertent, and as soon as Molly caught herself doing it, she would shake herself free of the thoughts and punctuate the futility of them by reminding herself of one of Sherlock's many flaws. She had listed, thus far, his rudeness, his lack of sensitivity, his tendency to make mean and ill-willed mischief for the sake of experimentation on the psyche of other human beings, his complete lack of regard for human life, his glee for murder, and, most of all, the fact that he didn't give a rat's rump about her.)

Meanwhile, as Molly was enjoying herself and putting Sherlock out of mind, Sherlock was doing the exact opposite.

You might imagine that, after five months of being drugged into such a state that he couldn't comprehend the passing of time, Sherlock might take a while to get back into the swing of things. You would be right, although not for the reason you might expect. He had himself fully functioning in almost no time at all and managed to keep the nature of his disappearance a secret, but it was Lestrade who made things difficult.

Gregory Lestrade was not quite old enough to make himself a father figure to Sherlock, which was a pity, as Sherlock would have benefitted from that sort of relationship. One day, he could be a friend, but that day was a long ways off, and, in the meantime, DI Lestrade was only an authority figure in Sherlock's eyes. That alone was reason enough for Sherlock to rebel, to coil and hiss like a bothered snake. Authority figures gave orders, and Sherlock did not take orders. But Lestrade had ordered Sherlock to take some time off, to 'recover'. Sherlock would have happily and purposefully ignored that order, but Lestrade made things difficult by exiling Sherlock from the Yard for at least a month. For thirty-one days, there would be no official cases that Sherlock was allowed to even see.

Sherlock hadn't admitted to his drug binge, and there was no real evidence to be found (except for by Molly, who Sherlock trusted to be the soul of discretion, what with her fondness for him and her timid nature keeping her silent on the matter), but Lestrade was no fool. He knew what Sherlock had been doing over the past few months.

Forbidden from taking cases with the Yard and chomping at the bit for something to exercise his mind on (preferably a murder, and a serial killer at best, but that was just a little too ambitious to set his hopes and dreams on), Sherlock set on the next best thing: an experiment. A lengthy and gruesome one would be best, involving dissection, yes. That would do the trick, he was sure. And, he was right. A distraction was what he needed until Lestrade allowed him to work on Yard cases again. It would work, as long as he didn't tell Lestrade, who found the dissection of human body parts in Sherlock's kitchen to be disturbing.

And that how Sherlock ended up unhappy and with Molly on his mind. What, you ask? How so?

Molly Hooper was the only person in the whole of St. Bart's –in the whole of London, in fact– from whom Sherlock could legally procure human body parts. And Molly was not where she was supposed to be. She was, for the first time since he had become acquainted with her, absent from the morgue.

It was very disconcerting for Sherlock.

No one else there would let him have body parts. They wouldn't let him in the lab, nor would they let him examine any bodies. They just shooed him out the door as politely as they could with strained, falsely contrite smiles, calling him 'Mr. Holmes' and saying that it simply wasn't possible for them to let him have access to such things. They all knew that this wasn't true and that Molly would have let him in without a second thought, but that was not their problem. The employees of St. Bartholomew's did not want Sherlock Holmes around.

Sherlock put up a fuss, threatening them with words of what Hooper would do when she heard about this, but they ignored his protests and escorted him out of the building.

"Blast it," Sherlock hissed under his breath. He dug into his pocket and pulled out his mobile, actions fueled by sheer frustration. He violently scrolled through his contacts, probably pressing his fingers down on the screen a little too hard, until he found the name Hooper. (He needed a fix, or a case, and at this rate, getting a fix would be much easier. Or, if he was willing to go through Mycroft giving him dirty looks later [hypocrite], he could buy a pack of smokes.)

Where are you? – SH

The phone offered him no reply. The screen showed no response for a little too long, just long enough for Sherlock to think that this was, indeed, the end, and that he would have to get those smokes after all and just snarl and bear it through Mycroft's hypocritical attitude later. But then a responding text bubbled up with a blipping sound effect.

Sherlock? – MH

Obviously – SH Who else would be texting you from my phone? Where? – SH

There was a longer pause this time, probably Molly figuring out what he meant by that, before she replied.

You're at the morgue, aren't you? – MH

Kicked out. How long will it take for you to get here? – SH

Day off, Sherlock. – MH If a text could seem irritated, this one did. Sherlock's imagination ran away from him, and in his mind he saw her pinching the bridge of her nose in irritation while that grey cat [she had never mentioned owning a cat or any pet, but he was sure she had a grey cat, it was the hairs] lounged on her lap. Don't actually live in the morgue – MH

The words sparked Sherlock's imagination once more with images of Molly sleeping in a fold-up cot at the back of the lab during an intense study, not going home in favor of dedicating herself to a pressing case. But, such ideas were pure fantasy. There was, in fact, a cot in the back of the lab, but Sherlock didn't know if Molly or anybody had ever used it, much less for the sake of study. Would Molly do that sort of thing, or was she not the sort to sacrifice her comfort for her Work? Was the morgue her Work? Did she have a Work, like he did? Most people didn't, but if anybody should… it seemed to him that Molly would. From what he could tell, especially from the Molly Hooper Behavioral Paradox, she had an excellent temperament for dedicating herself to a Work.

Just get here. – SH

No. – MH

Sherlock blinked at the screen of his phone. Molly had never said no to him. Not once, not ever, in all the years they had known each other. She was the eager-to-please puppy, the easily intimidated mouse. She didn't say no to him. When he said jump, she asked how high? That was their relationship. She had come running from what was probably a date on Christmas Eve just to drag his sorry arse out of a drug den, after all. But she had just said no to him without any apology or explanation. Just, no.

Maybe she only had the courage to do this over text. Maybe he should have called her so that she would have to hear his voice. Or maybe he just needed to push a little more…

There's no time, Hooper. Now. – SH

There. Maybe that sounded urgent enough.

I know Lestrade barred you from consulting Yard cases. Can't be anything that urgent. – MH

Apparently not.

Sherlock, confused, frustrated, and insulted, shoved his phone into his pocket and trudged away from the morgue. Molly wouldn't be coming for him. He could tell. He didn't have any excuse that he could give that wasn't an outright lie, and there was no lie he had that Molly would believe. She knew his cases too well. She knew him. Although, apparently, he didn't know her. He never would have imagined such a blatant rejection from her, not even over something to seemingly small.

He made long, angry strides all the way home and slammed the door shut behind him when he got there.

That was the first time Molly Hooper had ever said no to Sherlock Holmes, and that was the precise moment that Sherlock realized that he did not have complete power over the woman whom he had never considered might have a will of her own.

Molly Hooper Behavioral Paradox: Exhibit C

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