I gave this as a prompt to another writer, Moriarty-Florence-Moriarty, and thought I'd take it up myself and this is what I came up with. This is my first foray into writing for the Sherlock fandom so I hope I've lived up to the quality that I have seen in some of the brilliant stories archived here.
I do not own Sherlock (darn it!) and I have no connection to the BBC or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
John Watson wasn't quite sure why St. Bart's was throwing a Halloween party. And he was only vaguely sure as to how he got invited but ended up in the morgue. That much he knew he could lay at Sherlock's feet.
He's on firmer grounds when it comes to the poker game. The party upstairs was loud and he didn't know, or care to know, any of those people who'd given him such looks of smug superiority or pity when they'd believed that Sherlock was a fraud. And now that Sherlock was back and Moriarty proven to have not only been real, well, it would be too easy to give into the temptation to rub it all in their faces.
So he retreated with Sherlock into the morgue where Molly Hooper had been catching up on paper work rather than dealing with the party upstairs. John could understand why she'd be avoiding the press of people dancing and drinking and celebrating the wild night. She too had to face those that had been so sure that Sherlock had been a fraud. Of course, John couldn't help feeling a little bitter towards the pathologist. It was hard not to when the woman had kept Sherlock's living status a secret for three years, had watched him mourn and fall into what he could now admit was a truly pathetic state of depression when she could have told him. Of course, that would have required Molly to be able to stand up to Sherlock's overwhelming personality. Molly Hooper, John was sure, was many things. But capable of standing up to Sherlock? He'd never imagined it, ever.
Of course that was before the impromptu game of poker. He, Sherlock, and Molly were not the only ones avoiding the crush of tipsy people. A very pretty nurse, Ms. Mary Morstan, was apparently avoiding a rather irritating ex by coming to visit with Molly. Lestrade, Donovan, and Anderson had apparently also been invited to the party for one reason or another but they and Mike Stamford had all retreated to what John privately thought of as Molly's domain.
Sherlock had immediately busied himself with whatever experiment he'd wanted to conduct that had drawn him to the morgue to start with while Molly had her paperwork. He and the other five had sat around a bit awkwardly. He was trying to think of something clever to say to the pretty Ms. Morstan while Anderson and Donovan were obviously holding their tongues. After Sherlock's reveal they'd both come out with egg on their faces, and they were surrounded by Sherlock's core supporters, and Mike who Watson felt hadn't cared about the issue one way or the other but probably wouldn't stand for them to distress Molly too much.
It had been Molly who came up with the game. She'd apparently gotten sick of them sit in silence. The young pathologist had rummaged through a desk drawer and drew something out.
"Here," she called and tossed it in the direction of the group. Lestrade had caught it easily, snatching it out of the air just before it could hit Donovan in the side of the head and he grinned smugly. His female subordinate had thrown a half hearted glare in Molly's direction before her attention was drawn to the object in Lestrade's hands.
An unopened box of playing cards.
Another object had come flying at them and John had caught it this time. He sent a smug grin of his own in Lestrade's direction before he looked to see what Molly had added to the group.
A one pound bag of m&ms.
"Molly," Mike said in a disapproving tone.
"They're unopened," Molly had pointed out absently with her head bent over her paperwork. Mike sighed but let it slide for the time being. The younger pathologist did have a point about the bag being unopened and it wasn't as though anyone, besides Sherlock, was doing anything that the m&ms would damage anyway.
The six of them eventually gathered around a slab that wasn't being used at the moment and Mary dealt the cards. Soon they were engrossed in a game of poker using m&ms as chips.
"Anderson's bluffing," Sherlock commented absently as he studied a kidney sample under a microscope.
"I am not!" the forensic scientist spluttered.
"You scratch your ear when you're nervous," Sherlock said, still without looking up, "as there's nothing else to put you under pressure, obviously that nervous behavior is a result of your current hand. You're trying too hard to look pleased about something, indicating that your hand is the opposite of what you'd wish. The best you have is two pair."
Anderson sneered at the detective while the others looked at the adulterer with interest. John smirked a bit when, as the round concluded, Anderson had to reveal that he indeed only have two pair.
"Sherlock, come play with us," John demanded of his best friend. The detective continued to study his slides.
"Pointless and boring," the dark haired man claimed, "why would I want to win a bunch of m&ms?"
"Oh come on Sherlock," John cajoled, "you get to beat Anderson."
"Hey!" Anderson and Donovan both protested.
"The freak just got lucky," Donovan grumbled, "I bet I could beat him."
"Come on now," Mary said reprovingly, "Be nice. He doesn't have to play if he doesn't want to. Besides, he probably doesn't even know how."
Molly giggled, proving that she'd been paying at least some attention to the proceedings of the group and John raised a brow as he saw Sherlock stiffen, a bit like an affronted cat.
"Of course I know how to play," Sherlock huffed, "I simply don't see the point."
"Well how's this then," Lestrade began, "You play and if you beat all of us then I'll hand over the file of a case that just came my way. I think you'll find it interesting."
"You'd let me have the case anyway," Sherlock sneered.
Lestrade and Donovan both glared at the detective.
"Marie Rhineheart, female, twenty-three, cause of death seemed to be an accident," Molly said and John looked to see that Molly had given up the pretense of her paperwork and was staring challengingly at Sherlock. The detective was looking at her in return.
"Her eyes if you win," Molly said and John wrinkled his nose while Anderson blanched and Donovan shuddered. Mary looked a little confused. Lestrade just sighed and looked up to the ceiling as if imploring some higher power for patience. Or perhaps Mycroft, there was a camera in the general direction that Lestrade was gazing.
"Molly, without the proper paperwork," Mike tried.
"Oh I'll fill that out," Molly waved Mike's concerns away, "if Sherlock beats all of you."
"Rhineheart's eyes and a sample of that fungus you found the other day," Sherlock bargained, "and I'll beat you as well."
John was more than a little amused to see Molly blush and look away at Sherlock's counter bargain.
"Sherlock, I'm not, I can't," she sputtered.
"Besides, Dr. Hooper," Mike emphasized, heat in his voice, "You can't very well bargain away peoples' bits like they're, they're m&ms!"
"Of course she can," Sherlock sneered, "she's been on Mycroft's payroll for the last three and a half years so she can spy on me and acquire samples for my experiments. If she couldn't help acquire the necessary equipment, such as "peoples' bits" then I'd hardly have any reason to come."
Molly's blush became more pronounced and John looked at the pathologist disapprovingly as he tried to fit in his mental timeline Sherlock's pronouncement of Molly's employment with Mycroft.
"Not to spy on you," Molly protested lightly. Sherlock cocked his head and studied the brunette woman briefly.
"No, I suppose not entirely," the detective conceded, "spy on my experiments perhaps. I can't imagine that Mycroft would use his influence to allow you to keep your job despite your frequent disregard of proper procedures on my behalf if he didn't get something."
"And I did tell you and offer to split the money when you told me to accept the deal," Molly added. Sherlock nodded and turned his attention away from her. John noted how the young woman seemed to be ready to faint when Sherlock's attention was no longer directly on her.
"And it's not as though you can protest either Stamford," Sherlock went on to Stamford, "you've been on Mycroft's payroll since you started working here and big brother realized that I preferred this lab's set up to any other in the vicinity."
"I-I," Mike stuttered.
"And you never offered to split however much Mycroft's paying you," Sherlock finished in a matter of fact tone as he moved to sit in the group. He began to shuffle the cards absently, the thin slips of cardboard danced in his long hands.
"Well," Mike began but Sherlock shrugged away whatever he was going to say.
"So, the fungus?" Sherlock asked Molly, his eyes sharp as he studied her. John watched as Molly blushed again and averted her eyes.
"I'm not very good at poker," she said, "and I haven't played in a long time. It's not really a fair bet."
"Oh come on Molly," Mary encouraged her friend, "I'm sure between all of us we'll manage to beat him. It's not like you'll be doing this alone. And, amazing as Sherlock is, in the end, he is just a man."
Her tone was dismissive of the gender in that way that women usually bonded over. Even Donovan smirked in understanding and looked at Molly expectantly. She opened her mouth to speak when Anderson interrupted.
"Like mousy Molly would be able to give the freak a challenge," Anderson snorted, "Even if he doesn't know how to play, freak likely knows how to cheat like a champion."
John noted the way Sherlock's eyes narrowed in focus on the man who'd just put his foot in his mouth. The entire table looked at him in a disapproving fashion, for different reasons, and Anderson squirmed slightly under their collective gaze.
"Oh come off!" Anderson barked, "Just because that Morart fellow,"
"Moriarty," Mary corrected absently and she blushed slightly when John looked at her approvingly.
"turned out to be real," Anderson went on as though he hadn't heard Mary, "doesn't mean that he's not still a freak! And it doesn't mean that all his little tricks and whatnot haven't been just that, tricks! It just means that he's probably not the one doing the crimes that he's interfering with. Plus, can any of you honestly say that Molly Hooper, mousy Molly Hooper who fawns over everything the freak does and just confessed to letting him run experiments when it should have gotten her sacked years ago, could possibly stand a chance against any of us?"
Molly squeaked at Anderson's blatant declaration of her crush in front of Sherlock and Donovan elbowed him sharply in the side.
John wondered at Sherlock's cold silence as the cards paused in Sherlock's hands. He gathered them together and held them out to Anderson.
"Your deal," Sherlock said coldly. Anderson sniffed and took the cards and began to very blatantly reshuffle them. He wasn't very good, even John could see the way cards would clump together as he tried to randomize their order.
"Come on Hooper," the Donovan turned to encourage the possibly mortified mortician, "help us take him down a notch."
No one was quite sure if Donovan meant Sherlock or Anderson. From her tone and expression, the abrasive police woman could have meant either one.
The young pathologist's face had gone from a rosy, embarrassed blush to the pale of anger and she leveled what on anyone else could be a glare at Anderson. On Molly's kind face the glare had been softened to disapproving but the intent was fairly obvious.
"Alright," she agreed at last. Mary giggled triumphantly while Donovan smirked and sent a look around the table at the men that stated very clearly that they were going down. Lestrade met it straight on while John shrugged slightly in acknowledgement. Anderson sniffed dismissively and began to deal the cards. John and Lestrade quickly shifted apart slightly so Molly could have a spot and she gingerly moved to sit between them, directly opposite from Sherlock.
Candy was re-divided and Mike dug out a bag of Snickers, ignoring Molly's glare at his continuingly hypocritical behavior, to act as snacks so fewer people would run the risk of losing because they ate their "chips".
John was more than a little pleased when Anderson was the first one to have to bow out, having lost all of his m&ms very quickly in the game. The former army doctor wasn't entirely sure how it happened but the smug, pleased look on Sherlock's face was entirely transparent. The equally pleased looks on Mary, Molly, and Lestrade's faces were also easily seen. Really only Donovan seemed torn and Lestrade's subordinate allowed Anderson to move closer to her and whisper in her ear for the rest of the game.
That is to say, he was able to whisper advice in her ear for the next two rounds as that's how long it took before Sally Donovan also had to bow out. From the furious look on Donovan's face, John would have hazarded a guess that whatever was going on between them was going to end very soon if it hadn't already.
Mike bowed out before he had to really and proceeded to act as an impartial dealer and banker, occasionally nipping at his remaining collection of m&ms. Donovan was eventually to get another few bags from the vending machine to subsidize their rapidly dwindling substitutes for money and she bullied Mike into paying for it when Sherlock pointed out that the head pathologist was the reason why the m&ms were disappearing so quickly.
Time slipped away in silence as the five continued to play. However, one by one they fell to Sherlock's ability to tell whether or not someone was bluffing, John's ability to needle people into raising their bets while he hedged his, and what seemed to be Molly's beginner's luck. When Lestrade lost he genially sat back to watch for a bit. Anderson had tried to cajole Donovan into leaving with him but the curly haired bobby had ignored his attempts. The forensic scientist had left alone. Mary remained as well, watching the intense game. Soon all of the m&ms were in a pile before the three players, though John's pile was dwindling rapidly as he strove to keep up with the other two.
"I'm out," John declared half an hour later as Molly collected the pot with the winning hand of a high ace. He looked to see Mary yawning slightly and he smiled at her.
"I know of a good Indian place," John suggested. He glanced at the clock and tried not to feel surprise at the late hour.
"Would you like to come with me to pick up a bite?" John continued and Mary smiled at him.
"I'd like that," she said, "but what about Molly and Sherlock?"
John threw a glance in the direction of the only two left in the game. Molly was looking anywhere but at Sherlock while Sherlock's unerring gaze was trained on the pathologist with laser like concentration. Mike was looking between the two of them wearily.
"Go on," Sally encouraged, "you can always come back. And when you do, bring something back for me."
"Here, me too," Lestrade said and he dug into his pocket for some money.
"I suppose protocol's just going to be entirely thrown out the window," Mike sighed, "so bring something back for me as well."
"Sherlock?" John asked as Mary accepted the money from the audience.
"Raise," Sherlock said, "You're bluffing."
"Sherlock, you're between cases, you should eat something," Molly responded, ignoring his accusation as she matched his bet.
"You'll make me something when we're done," Sherlock said casually and John looked sharply between the two of them. Pink rose in Molly's cheeks, not unusual, but for the first time John noted a sort of ease between the two of them that he hadn't before. Yes Molly was flustered by Sherlock's mere presence, but there was something, some element that made him wonder if perhaps the fluster was perhaps just a little bit for show. And she had managed to keep Sherlock's existence a secret for three years.
John began to wonder if perhaps Molly was a better actress than he'd ever given her credit for.
"Alright," Molly agreed, "Call."
They laid their cards out and Sherlock frowned as Molly claimed another little pile of m&ms.
"Shall we?" John turned away from the game, and the mystery of Molly, and offered his arm to Mary. She smiled again and fluttered her eyelashes slightly.
"We shall indeed," she said as she took his arm.
Sherlock barely even noticed as his best friend and flat mate disappeared with the nurse. His gaze was still trained on Molly and his mind was racing as he tried to figure out just how in the world Molly Hooper had managed to win the last round, or any round really. She had no "poker face" and had spoken truly when she said that she wasn't very good. There was no logical reason why she'd continued in the game when more experienced players, such as Lestrade, had been edged out.
He watched as Molly's hand darted out to adjust an errant lock of hair and then she brushed it back again, an unnecessary motion. Her breathing seemed to be a bit faster and her index finger was tapping the cards. Combining that with the information he'd gathered as he'd counted the cards, it was most likely she was counting on a straight. He could definitely beat that.
"You know, this isn't really a fair trade," Lestrade pointed out, "After all, if Sherlock wins, he gets two new…subjects for his experiments. All Dr. Hooper gets is a pile of candy that was hers to start with."
"How about if Hooper wins, the freak has to actually fill out the proper paperwork for the next three months?" Donovan suggested. Sherlock spared a moment to glance at Donovan in disgust.
"Something a bit more interesting maybe," Molly suggested with hopeful look on her face. Sherlock would readily admit that he wasn't entirely sure what the brunette woman was hoping for but he was quite confident in his deduction.
"A favor of your choosing," Sherlock suggested carelessly and a wicked gleam appeared in Molly's eyes. Sherlock almost regretted his carelessness at the sight of that gleam, but his confidence in his deductions remained.
"All in," Molly declared firmly, pushing her m&ms to the middle of the table. Sherlock mimicked her motions. Mike, Lestrade and Donovan all leaned forward with bated breath.
"Ten quid on Sherlock," Mike muttered as Sherlock and Molly stared at each other, each mentally daring the other to be the first to reveal their hand.
"Twice that on Hooper," Donovan retorted.
As if stung by Donovan's declaration, Sherlock was the first to "break".
"Full house," Sherlock announced and he moved to gather the m&ms. Molly put up a hand.
"Not just yet," the pathologist declared, "four of a kind. I win."
She gathered the candy into a little pile in front of her.
"And I'm sure that these three will stand as witnesses to our little agreement," Molly said perkily as Sherlock practically gaped.
"But you," Sherlock seemed to be at a loss for words.
"But I," Molly began but was interrupted as John and Mary returned, a bag of takeout in hand.
"What'd we miss?" John asked.
"Hooper beat the freak!" Donovan crowed in delight, "Pay up!"
Mike muttered under his breath as he dug out his wallet so he could pay his side of the bet. Lestrade continued to look rather amused by the whole situation.
Mary began to dish out the various curries and noodles that she and John had retrieved for the police detectives. Sherlock was shuffling the cards.
"Again," the detective demanded.
"Sorry, what?" Molly replied.
"Again," Sherlock repeated, " I need to study the process you used."
"Sherlock, it's late," John sighed, not liking the look in his friend's eyes.
"And you need to eat something," Molly added, "I'm not playing until you've eaten a full meal."
"Digestion slows the mental processes," he protested, "You'll have the advantage."
"You can't exactly make me play," Molly countered, "It's this or nothing and I'll eat too so my mental processes will be slowed down just as much as yours."
John jumped in before Sherlock could say anything further.
"Sherlock, Molly did say she'd make you dinner," John said irritably, "Just go with her and you two can play afterwards."
And if it meant that he could have Mary over for a movie and a longer chat without Sherlock barging in on things then that was all the better as far as John was concerned.
Molly was already standing and gathering her things, preparing to leave as Sherlock considered John's suggestions.
"Go on," Lestrade encouraged, "It's late, Molly's probably tired so even if you did play again now she wouldn't be as alert and capable as she was at the start of the game."
Sherlock didn't sigh but John could see the generally rather manic man almost pout from the way he obviously viewed everyone ganging up on him.
"Fine," he said stiffly as he stood and gathered his things and he looked at Molly, "but we'll be playing for higher stakes than m&ms next time."
John wondered a bit at Molly's blush as the detective swept away with the pathologist in his wake. But he put it from his mind for the time being as he turned to Mary.
"May I escort you home?" he asked the pretty woman, "or if you like you could come to my place and we could watch a movie."
He's rewarded with a sunny smile.
"I don't have to be at work until late tomorrow," Mary confessed, "A movie sounds like fun. But first, if Sherlock doesn't come back at a decent hour, promise you'll tell me later if he manages to beat Molly?"
"Of course," John replied and he and his date left the other three behind in the morgue to trail down the path that Sherlock and Molly had taken out of St. Bart's.
Hours later, at about five in the morning, John woke upon his position on the couch, Mary curled in his lap and the television showing a blank screen. He blearily looked about to try to detect what had awoken him.
"Sherlock, what the hell!" John whispered angrily as he was fully jolted from sleep. It took all he had not to jump and awaken Mary when he noticed Sherlock standing in the doorway. The thin detective was not dressed in his customary slacks, button up shirt, and long wool coat. Instead all he had was a towel around his waist for modesty's sake.
"Molly won," Sherlock said simply and he glided towards his bedroom, as if something like this happened all the time.
John shook his head to try to get rid of the image in his mind's eye.
"Molly won?" he murmured to himself. How did Molly winning equate to Sherlock returning to the flat without…well…clothes?
A few moments passed before John gave it up. It was far too early in the morning for such thoughts. He comforted himself with the idea that he could get the story from Sherlock later. It wasn't as though the other man had any problems talking about what went on with his life, even during times when it would be better for him to keep his mouth shut.
With those comforting thoughts floating in the back of his mind. John shifted slightly to get more comfortable, earning a small murmur from the sleepy Mary, and returned to his dreams.
And there you have it, Sherlock and Molly played poker and Molly beat the trousers off of Sherlock, literally
Anyone else want to take a whack at this scenario? Please do! Or if not then tell me what you thought of my take on it.