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Summary: Sherlock has made it quite clear that he’s not boyfriend material, but that was before Molly needed to find a tactful way to avoid the attentions of a persistent admirer. Perhaps it’s just a matter of semantics.

Rating: T (probably, rating might change)

A/N - Written for Glitterkitty4ever, for winning my 250 Followers on Tumblr giveaway. This fic takes place after TFP and is very nearly canon compliant. There is one teeny, tiny, huge, gigantic difference that makes this an AU – Mary Watson lived.

Boyfriend Material

“Hi, honey! We’re home!” Mary called out as she, John, and Sherlock bustled through the front door of the Watson home.

Molly handed Rosie another block to add to her precariously balanced tower, then stood up and stretched out the random kinks that tended to appear when one spent a prolonged period of time playing on the floor with a toddler. “Please tell me you’ve brought the food?”

“Double order of cashew shrimp, a pair of summer rolls, an order of crab cheese wontons, and extra peanut sauce. As requested.” John hefted several plastic bags emblazoned with the logo of the Chinese place Sherlock favoured. “Not that I’m judging, but that seems like an awful lot of food, Molly.”

“That sounds like judging. Doesn’t that sound like judging?” Mary teased as she hung up her jacket.

Molly hurried to take the bags from John so he could take his coat off. “Did Sherlock get anything for himself?”

Sherlock rolled his eyes as John shook his head.

“I ordered extra because someone tends to be a wonton thief.” She giggled at her own joke, to the point that it threatened to turn into a small, not-at-all ladylike snort. “Get it? Wonton, like wanton, but . . . No? Just me?”

“Molly,” Sherlock rumbled, but it lacked any real censor. She thought she caught a glimpse of amusement in his expression before he took the bags from her and headed toward the kitchen.

They told her about the case over dinner—former six that unexpectedly turned into an eight that morning, which is why John had called to see if Molly could babysit at the last minute. Mary still had a long way to go before she’d be chasing down a fleeing extortionist—spending weeks in a medically induced coma while you recovered from a nearly fatal gunshot wound was a bit hard on a body—but she would always be an exceptionally observant woman and a third set of eyes had been needed.

Sherlock grabbed his own plate and didn’t even try to be subtle when he helped himself to half of Molly’s meal. She had to smack his hand away from her last summer roll.

Mary offered Rosie a spoonful of something mushy and green, then patiently scraped the resulting cheerfully dribbled mess off Rosie’s chin with a soft, “Silly girl, blowing raspberries at uncle Sherlock.” She loaded up the spoon for a second go and looked at Molly over the toddler’s head. With a completely obvious tilt of her chin and jerk of her eyes, Mary indicated that Molly should bring up the topic they’d discussed over the phone the night before.

Molly pushed her plate toward Sherlock, a silent invitation for him to finish her cashew shrimp. She took a deep breath and gave John her most sincere ‘please help me, I’m desperate’ smile. “So, not to change the topic, but . . . John, I need you to be my boyfriend.”

His chopsticks froze halfway toward his mouth, and John gaped at her. He slowly lowered the chopsticks to his plate and turned his head toward her as if he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly the first time. “Pardon?”

“I need a significant other, I’m asking you.” Why was that such a difficult concept to grasp? Mary picked it up almost immediately. “There’s this guy, Michael. We started corresponding a few years ago, after a paper I’d authored appeared in the International Journal of Surgical Pathology. He seemed really nice in his emails, and we’d talked a few times on the phone. Just the usual sort of conversation between friends, you know. Complaining about the people at work, books we’d read, that sort of thing. Nothing that even hinted at romantic.”

“Because you had a fiancé, and he knew you’d shoot him down if he tried,” Sherlock interrupted. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his ankles under the table.

“That didn’t occur to me at the time, all right?” She returned her attention to John. “I didn’t mention the breakup when it happened because I really didn’t feel comfortable talking about it while it was still fresh, especially with someone I’d never even met. When I finally did mention it one night, I’d been having a really bad day and was a little tipsy, and Michael was being very sympathetic and he called and . . . well, one thing lead to another and things got a little personal.”

Sherlock snorted, and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “I bet he’d been gasping for his chance.” under his breath. Molly ignored him.

“The next day, I made it clear that I normally didn’t do that sort of thing and we agreed it was just a onetime aberration. Things went back to normal between us, just casual emails. But then Mary got shot-“ Molly winced and everyone very pointedly looked anywhere but at each other. “-and ended up in hospital for nearly two months. Not to mention the Smith debacle. And then . . . the other thing.”

It was immediately understood without a single word of explanation that ‘the other thing’ could only refer to the Sherrinford incident. Mary and John might not have been privy to the extremely stilted conversation that followed—“I did mean what I said, Molly. I love you. But I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to give you the kind of relationship you want. You deserve so much better than I could offer you right now. I care about you too much to make a promise I can’t keep, not to you. I’m just not boyfriend material, Molly, and I never will be. I will understand if you want to cut me from your life entirely, if that’s what you need. I’ll do anything to keep from hurting you again. I just . . . It would mean everything to me if you would still be willing to be my friend.”—but they knew Molly and Sherlock had reached an understanding after the phone call, and their friendship had survived the fall out.

And now, six months later, they were actually closer than before.

Molly suspected it had something to do with no longer having to hide the worst kept secret in the world from the most observant (yet emotionally clueless) man she’d ever met. The stress of that had weighed on her often over the years, and it was almost a relief to have it all out in the open.


Obviously, she would have preferred a slightly different outcome from finding out the man she’d loved for years loved her back; but there were considerably worse things that could have happened. For the first time since losing part of her heart to Sherlock, Molly knew exactly where she stood with him; and while it wasn’t everything she’d dreamt of, it was good. He still asked for her help at Barts, still spent evenings at her place once or twice a week, still invited her over to his if he had a particularly interesting experiment to show her. He would make a few sour faces whenever she went on a date, but their current rule was absolutely no verbalized deductions until at least the third date (baring another psychopathic criminal mastermind or someone who hated cats, exceptions were to be made for either of those).

Other than the occasional twinge of lustful thoughts when he was looking and acting particularly shag-able, Molly was actually really happy with where their relationship had ended up.

She realized the other three were staring at her. “Sorry. Between babysitting Rosie and Sherlock-“

“I did not need a ba-“ Sherlock’s grumble died on his tongue at the narrow-eyed glare Mary threw him. Considering it was her mistakenly delivered DVD that had kick started his latest decline into substance abuse, Molly wasn’t absolutely positive Mary was in a position to be casting stones. John started to open his mouth, but Molly sent a glare of her own and he wisely clamped his lips shut.

Anyway, I barely talked to him for ages. Then two months ago I went to Brussels for that symposium, and there he was.”

Mary gestured with the spoon of baby mush—Rosie’s eyes eagerly following the movement, her mouth open wide in anticipation—and urged Molly to continue. “Tell them what he did.”

Molly felt Sherlock tense beside her, but his expression remained disinterested and bored.

“He ran into me in the hotel lobby, before I even had a chance to check in, and asked me out to dinner. It was kind of nice. It had been awhile since anyone really seemed interested in me, that way, and I was flattered.”

Sherlock huffed. Molly ignored him, although she did see John frown at his friend. Mary continued to babble soft, encouraging words to Rosie as the little girl ate her dinner.

“Catching up over a meal was lovely.” Molly paused to gather her thoughts. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth and bit down as she tried to find the right words to describe her concern. “The next morning, though, he was right there when I came down to the lobby. All day, every time I turned around, he was there. He attended the same lectures, which isn’t that far-fetched, I guess. We both work in pathology, it’s not inconceivable that we’d have chosen similar schedules.”

“Doubtful.” Sherlock shook his head. “The universe is rarely so lazy. Did you tell him you were planning to attend the symposium?” He rushed on without waiting for Molly to answer. “Of course you did. It wouldn’t take much effort for this Michael person to figure out which talks you would sign-up for, you do tend to ramble on when you’re discussing something you’re interested in. All he would have had to do was pay attention.”

Molly took a deep breath and struggled to reminded herself that he was probably trying to be helpful in his own annoying Sherlockish way. “Okay. However it happened, he was everywhere. We went to dinner again-“

“Why?” Sherlock interrupted.

“Because she was hungry. Now, do shut up.” Mary smiled at Molly. “Go on.”

“I can’t explain it, exactly, but something about him just started to make me uneasy.” Molly shrugged. Saying it out loud made her feel a little silly. “So I made up some excuse and did my best to avoid him the rest of the weekend.”

“And you need John to play the dutiful boyfriend now because. . . ?” Sherlock drew out the last word in such a way that it made Molly want to roll her eyes.

“Because he sent an email to let me know that he’s coming here for two weeks to be a guest lecturer for several classes. Apparently, he told Doctor Burtan what good friends we are, and now I have officially been given the privilege of showing him around London during his visit. He invited me to dinner and I panicked. I told him I was dating someone, and he said to bring them along.” She realized she’d been picking at the cuticle on her thumb while she talked, and quickly shoved her hands under her thighs as she leaned toward John imploringly. “All you have to do is come out with us a few times, pretend you can’t wait to get me alone, and maybe mention you used to be a solider and you enjoy chasing down violent criminals for fun. Please?”

John started shaking his head before she’d finished talking. “Look, Molly, as much as I’d like to help, I’m married.”

“Don’t worry about that, luv.” Mary wiped off Rosie’s face and hands. “I’m the one who told Molly to go ahead and ask you.”

He looked back and forth between his wife and Molly. “I . . . What?”

Molly nodded. “I actually considered asking Mary at first, but we realized I’d been using a masculine pronoun every time I mentioned that I was dating someone to Michael.”

“Personally, I think I’d make a very handsome man,” Mary cut in. She silently indicated that John should free Rosie from her high chair so that Mary clean up the mess the little girl had left behind. “But we decided that was more complicated than it really needed to be. Especially since we had a perfectly good strong, handsome, kind man at our disposal: one who technically owes Molly a lot—a huge amount of a lot—for all the time she spent watching Rosie while I was in hospital.” Mary ended on a slight uptick; as if she were unsure of whether or not John was buying it, but she was hopeful nonetheless.

“You asked my wife to pretend to be your boyfriend?” John seemed to be stuck on the wrong detail. No wonder Sherlock got frustrated with people in general, it was rather annoying when someone refused to follow along.

“No, I almost asked your wife to pretend to be my significant other.” Mary and Molly exchanged another look, this one full of humour.

John closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, clearly trying to figure out the best way to get out of his present situation. Mary’s entire expression softened as she watched her husband, her earlier grin turning into a loving smile.

Molly would have considered letting him off the hook if she wasn’t so desperate.

“I’ll do it.”

Three sets of eyes of turned to look at Sherlock.

Surely he hadn’t said what she’d thought he’d said. Molly’s gaze darted toward Mary and John, but they had the same confused look on their faces. Although Mary’s quickly turned mischievous. “I’m sorry, you’ll do what?” Molly asked.

“Pretend to be your . . .” He waved his hand toward John. “That thing you were asking him to do.”

“Boyfriend,” Mary helpfully supplied.

Sherlock blanched. “Please do not use that word.”

“Right, how could I forget? You’re not boyfriend material.” Molly’s voice may have been tinged with just the slightest bit of bitterness. Or perhaps more than the slightest bit, judging from the way Mary inhaled sharply and gave Sherlock her ‘I’m very disappointed in you’ look. John appeared as oblivious as ever (What did Sherlock say? John sees but does not observe?), but Mary must have put two and two together and come up with the general gist of Sherlock’s ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speech.

Molly was rather annoyed with herself. She had thought she’d moved past all that ages ago. She’d been dating and enjoying herself, and quite honestly there were stretches of days when she’d been so caught up in work and her newly invigorated social life that she didn’t think of Sherlock at all. Of course he’d have to remind her that she still loved him by popping up at Barts with a kiss on the cheek and a gentle smile meant just for her, or making himself comfortable at her place when he wanted to spend the night away from Baker Street because of one excuse or another. Several times she’d come home from a date, only to find him stretched out on her sofa with Toby purring away on his stomach.

It had to be that his abhorrence for the word ‘boyfriend’ that set her off.

She forced the irritation away with a small shake of her head. “So, the b-word is out. What am I supposed to call you then?”

He considered it for a moment. “You used significant other, earlier.”

Molly laughed, then realized he was serious. “No one actually introduces someone as their significant other, Sherlock. Not in real life.”

“Fine.” Sherlock leaned back in his chair as if he were already growing bored with the discussion. “Lover, then.”

She rolled her eyes. “This isn’t an episode of Eastenders.”

“Could be, though,” Mary offered. “I’d watch it.”

“Not helping,” Molly bit out with a narrow-eyed glare at her friend.

Mary grinned back. “Wasn’t meant to.”

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