Original Story Title: Of Secret Gifts and Mistletoe
Original Story Link: http://eanor.livejournal.com/14481.html
Original Story Pairings: Hints of Sherlock/Molly
Original Story Rating: G
Original Story Warnings: None
Remix Story Title: The Theory of It
Remix Author: sciosophia
Remix Beta: wordquandary
Remix Britpicker: N/A
Remix Story Pairings: Hints of Sherlock/Molly
Remix Story Rating: G
Remix Story Warnings: Slight spoilers for A Scandal In Belgravia
"The Theory of It"
Molly likes Christmas.
Or rather, Molly likes the theory of Christmas. She likes the idea of a season of goodwill to all men, of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jingle bells and all the rest of it, and she definitely likes the strange, cardboard taste of Christmas chocolates. People smile more at Christmas.
Or at least they’re supposed to. Down here Molly sees mouths forever pressed into straight lines, and not much else. Everyone working in the retail industry is waiting for December to be over as quickly as possible, grinding through the season with forced smiles that have disappeared by the end of the month. This year in particular Molly has found that most of her friends are suddenly parents, too preoccupied with a day that their children won’t even remember to go out for drinks, or even coffee. She’s seen one so far, a friend from University who’d gotten so drunk last year that she’d slept through most of Christmas Day on the bathroom floor. This year the same friend is drinking coffee at a hundred miles an hour, fitting Molly into a twenty minute break between tracking down a sold-out toy and buying the paper to wrap it in.
But Molly is resolute about enjoying Christmas, no matter the lack of things to do or people to spend more than half an hour with who aren’t dead or work colleagues (or both). She’s going to buy a real tree, the usual non-drop one that will leave half of its needles all over the floor, drink Advocat as though this year she’ll suddenly like the taste, buy foil-wrapped chocolate reindeer and snowmen that she’ll eat before the first week of December is out. She’ll stick to the tradition of watching lots of terrible telly and eating too much, cuddled up on the sofa with Toby through the Christmas specials.
Yes, Molly likes (the theory of) Christmas very much.
It’s a teenager, the hole in his side jagged and odd-looking now that it’s clean. Molly surveys her work, chewing her lip, head tilted to the side as she considers—all done?
There’s a woosh as the door swings open behind her, and Molly doesn’t look as the footsteps come closer. She can guess already—there’s only one person who enters a room like that, and her smile quirks up as she imagines the swirl of his coat.
“Ah, Molly,” he says. He appears at her shoulder, drifts his eyes across her work as though he too is considering whether she’s all done. Molly decides to decide for him and sets down the bone saw.
“They’re on the side,” she says, gesturing with her elbow as she pulls off her gloves. They snap, sound echoing a little in the morgue, and Molly chucks them into the appropriate bin with a practised throw. Always so much easier to take off than put on.
Sherlock has already crossed the room, twisting the jar around in his hands, and Molly watches, caught up in the movement. She’s feeling good, buoyed up by a job well done and the fact that she can now officially listen to Christmas songs without feeling guilty, so she lets herself be enveloped in the presence of him, the empty room he’s filled just by being there. Small sounds—the barest hint of something as his skin touches and retouches the glass, his breathing in, out—but it’s more than it was a minute ago, when there was only Molly and a dead teenager in here.
Sherlock sets the jar down again with a slight frown. Molly knows him well enough to differentiate, and so she waits until—ah, yes. There it is. Sherlock smiles, false as ever (though she wonders if it’s her study of him that means she knows, if someone else would take it for the real thing), and says, “Molly. You like people.”
She nods, processes the question with slight bewilderment. “Uh, I, yes—I suppose. Yes.” His smile flickers, just barely, and Molly blushes, a hot flush of embarrassment. She twists her fingers together and clears her throat. “Yes.”
“Well then.” Sherlock takes something from his pocket and holds it out. Molly hesitates for a moment. His smile flickers again, like a stuttering flame, so she steps forward, finds a folded piece of paper passed to her. When she opens it out it has Lestrade scrawled on it in biro, and she wonders how creepy it is that she knows it’s not in Sherlock’s handwriting.
“Secret Santa?” she hazards.
Sherlock’s smile is real for the few seconds after she’s said it. He pinches the paper back out of her fingers and reads it again, then once more.
“Stupid,” he says, “of course. But Scotland Yard have their traditions and on this occasion I’ve been unwillingly pulled in.”
Even as he says it he’s still staring at the paper with a level of concentration that Molly usually sees reserved for corpses and John, and occasionally for Sherlock’s brother. Now that she thinks about it Sherlock plus presents is a surprisingly strange concept, two words that repel each other like magnets. And for Lestrade too. She tries to imagine Sherlock pulling the name out of a hat or a bag or bin, finds that she can’t.
“Well,” she begins, tries to shrug as if to say why worry, then immediately starts to worry that shrugging makes her look strange and gangly. “At least you’ve got Lestrade. Should be easy.” She smiles, the slightly mad one she seems to wear without a choice, then tries again and gets the same thing.
Sherlock nods without, luckily, looking up. “Obviously,” he says, “the man’s transparent,” but the words don’t have quite the edge they ought to, and Molly can see the facade slipping just a bit, the way it does when he forgets she’s in the room.
The quiet stretches out, Sherlock lost and Molly watching. She tries to think of something to say but her brain stutters, like a flickering flame. She locks her fingers together again, wondering, always, why she acts so strangely in front of him. She has a knack for getting herself twisted up but around Sherlock it’s a hundred times worse, and the result is that what she wants to happen drifts further and further away from what’s actually happening.
Sherlock moves then, sudden, reaching out to grab the jar, and Molly jumps a little. He smiles again as fake as ever and clutches his acquisition to his chest, far gentler than he is with people, and he’s almost to the door by the time Molly works up the courage to say, “People like presents that reflect their interests. If you think about it in a really basic way, I mean.”
Sherlock pauses. She can’t see his face but there’s something in the set of his shoulders that tells her what he’s thinking (more than anything because she can read it, because she can read him), and then he turns and nods, just once. Alright.
My life would be so much easier, she thinks once he’s gone, door swinging shut behind him, and her heart flutters madly for a moment before she shakes her head, forces her mind to settle back on work.
She gets a text message ten days later. Sherlock, her phone tells her, calling up the familiar thrill as she waits for it to open. It’s a picture of a board game box, and for a moment Molly is clueless until she looks a little closer to see—a Scotland Yard board game.
She grins. Of course Lestrade’s only interest lies in his work, as far as Sherlock is concerned. Perhaps that’s what happens when your hobby is your job, she wonders, and then remembers that there’s more than a little crossover in her life too.
”People like presents that reflect their interests,” she murmurs. She sets her phone down on the floor, next to the roll of deep red wrapping paper spread out across the carpet and the present sitting in the middle. She’s left this one until last, has taken the most care and kept the best paper for it even though she knows it’s stupid, but—it’s Christmas, and Molly likes (the theory of) it. A season of goodwill to all men, when even Sherlock Holmes gives thought to what someone else likes best.
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