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24 May 2014 @ 09:18 pm
Sherlock: The Affair of the Ladybird  
Title: The Affair of the Ladybird
Characters: Sherlock, Molly
Rating: PG
Warnings/Triggers: references to a dead parent
Spoilers: none, but set during The Sign of Three
Pairings: John/Mary, Molly/Tom (both background)
Word Count 2,471
Summary: Molly loses something important, and Sherlock decides to get it back for her.
Author's notes: My word fairy seems much happier of late! This story was born out of a meme idea, which frozen_delight requested that I flesh out, and I was happy to oblige. It's a bit short, but I hope you enjoy!



“Oh. Hi, Sherlock.”

Sherlock's normal response to Molly's greeting would be to grunt and ignore it. However, it did not contain its usual abundance of exclamation marks (”OH! HI, SHERLOCK!!”), which was the sort of anomaly he tended to notice. He looked up from the microscope and scanned her.

There was nothing particularly out of place, all the usual facts jumped out at him. Cat-lover, had sex last night (she seemed to have sex every night, which must be exhausting), took the bus to work, just finished removing a brain. Nothing unusual. The only thing that jumped out was that she was...sad. Or upset. Or agitated? He had trouble with those sorts of readings. He glanced down to make sure her engagement ring was still in place. No, no break up. Her cat hadn't died. As far as he could recall, the last time he'd seen her, he hadn't said anything that might make her upset to see him again.

No, he would have to probe deeper. He did want to? No. But it would bug him if he didn't. Anomalies always bugged him.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

She nodded. He should leave it there. He'd extended an offer of conversation, but she'd refused.

“Is something wrong?” he tried.

She shook her head. Well, this was annoying. He was trying to be helpful and she wasn't cooperating.

“You seem...out of sorts,” he said.

“I'm okay,” she said. “It's just...I lost something.”

He knew she was a perfectionist—that's why he'd chosen her as a colleague—but losing something was hardly call to be this upset. “Was it something important?” he said.

“It was a necklace,” she said. “I wore it to work this morning, and I put it in my locker, and I went there at lunch time and it was gone. I can't find it anywhere, but I know I put it in there.”

“Was it the one with the heart clasp on its chain?” Sherlock asked.

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “How do you know about that?” she asked.

“It's the only necklace you wear regularly,” Sherlock said. “Therefore it's the only necklace that you would be upset to lose. You always keep the pendant under your clothing, so I don't know what's on it, but I know the chain.”

“I didn't think you'd notice something like that,” she said.

“I notice everything,” Sherlock said. “Why wouldn't I notice that? Are you sure you've lost it? Perhaps it was taken. Is the pendant valuable?”

“No, it's just a ladybird,” she said. “It's a silver ladybird. Probably not even proper silver. I got it from my father when I was little. He bought it to cheer me up when I had my tonsils out. It came on a little card with a poem about ladybirds, he probably got it from the hospital gift shop. I don't see why anyone would want it.”

“Well, why are you upset about losing it then?” Sherlock asked. “If it isn't worth anything?”

“Because my father gave it to me,” Molly said. “He always called me his ladybird.”

“So, it has sentimental value,” Sherlock guessed.

“Yes,” Molly said. Her eyes looked moist. He hoped she wouldn't cry. “And he's dead now.”

No, she was crying. Not sobs, that was good. Just sniffles. He wished that John were here. He would deal with this far better than Sherlock. But he and Mary had gone registry shopping, and Sherlock had been formally not invited because apparently the last time he'd gone he'd become what John had termed a 'Registry Nazi'. Which was uncalled for. He had just suggested that they not register for a blender, because neither of them used blenders. He had taken it off the registry to help them.

“I'm sorry, I'm being silly,” she said.

“Yes,” Sherlock agreed. “You are being extremely silly. You should stop.”

That didn't seem to help her tears. He tried patting her on the back, and then moving his hand in a circular motion, like he'd seen Mary do with overwrought clients. That seemed to do the trick. She calmed down a little.

“It's not a good time for this to happen,” Molly said.

Sherlock glanced down at her breasts. They were not any bigger than usual. That was usually a classic sign of her PMT, and he was positive she wasn't due to menstruate for another few weeks.

“It's almost the anniversary of his death,” Molly explained. “So, it's...more...important now.”

“I'm sure it will turn up,” he said, hoping to end the conversation.

“I hope so,” she said. “I'm sorry, what are you working on? Can I help?”

He explained his experiment to her, and she started to assist. Poorly. She was completely distracted, and he tried being kind, and he tried being stern, and he tried yelling, and he tried acting as normal, but she was useless. He could see they weren't going to get any work done until the matter was cleared up.

“Do you need me to look for your bracelet?” he asked.

“Necklace.”

“Whatever. I'm more observant than you,” Sherlock said. “I'll see it if you overlooked it.”

“Would you mind?” Molly asked.

Yes, very much so. “I suppose not.”

“I would really appreciate it,” Molly said.

He abandoned his experiment and followed her to the locker room. She entered her combination on the lock—her birth date, judging by the last two digits—and opened her locker.

“I always take it off if I'm going to work with something messy,” she said. It was more consideration than she showed her engagement ring, he noted. She let that get filthy. A sign she perhaps wasn't as crazy about...what's-his-name as she would like everyone to think. He'd chose a very inappropriate ring for her line of work, as well. He should have chosen a ring with the stones more protected. “I hang it on this hook here. I thought maybe the clasp broke, and it fell onto the shelf, but I looked all through and I couldn't see it.”

Sherlock took each object out and shook it, then placed it in her arms. He checked the cracks where the welded bits fit together. He took a quick look around the floor of the locker room.

A fellow employee entered and watched him. “What's going on?” she asked.

“I lost something,” Molly explained, behind the pile in her arms. “Sherlock's looking for it.”

“It seems there's an epidemic around here lately,” the employee said. “I lost my scarf.
Billy lost a pair of shoes.”

Sherlock stuck his head out from under the bench. “Neither of those ever turned up?” he asked.

“No, s'weird,” she said.

Hmm.

“Where they valuable?” he asked.

“Mine wasn't, I don't know about Billy,” she said.

Hmm.

Sherlock slid out and stood up again. “I don't think it's here,” he said.

Molly looked crestfallen. Which for some reason, made Sherlock angry. And not at her. At whomever took it. It had obviously been taken. They had a thief on their hands.

What fun!




He finished his experiment first, of course. One had to have priorities, and a stupid missing necklace was hardly more important than his work, whatever its sentimental value to Molly Hooper.

After he was finished, however, he set to work on the thief. A quick poll amongst the staff he could find suggested that everyone had lost something they thought they had put in their lockers. It seemed to have been taking place over the past few months, which suggested a new member of staff, or some sort of massive change in a staff member's life to compel them to start stealing, whether for financial gain or some sort of nervous disorder.

He wasn't familiar enough with any of them to know who had come in or who had been stressed. In fact, he knew no one's name except for Molly's. Once he'd settled on her as the best target for getting what he wanted at Barts, he hadn't bothered with anyone else. They all knew him by name, but most people did these days. It made it harder to go undercover.

He did a quick experiment, waiting in the locker room, and moving to wash his hands in the sinks each time someone came in. Yes, as he'd suspected, he could easily see them enter their combinations by looking surreptitiously through the mirror. Any person with a reasonable amount of cleverness could gather that information. Sherlock had ten combinations within half an hour.

So, there was no mystery how the person was getting into the lockers. Now it was just down to whom.

The majority of people had no exact dates for when their things were taken, but they all had similar stories of having left the object in their locker in the morning and returning for break or lunch and finding it gone. This suggested a person on a night shift. Someone who stole directly before they went home in the morning. Sherlock glanced through the schedules to see who worked a lot of nights, and who perhaps had only joined the staff recently. A bit of gossiping with staff members, and he had his culprit. Kyle Pearson.

Pearson was scheduled to be on within the hour, so Sherlock decided he might as well stay and finish up the 'case', such as it was. He waited by the lifts, until Pearson came on shift. He entered the lift with him, and, once they were well-between floors, pressed the emergency stop button.

“Wh—what are you doing?” Pearson stammered.

“We need to talk, I wanted to make sure I have your attention,” Sherlock explained. “Do I?”

Pearson twitched nervously. “You can't just stop the lift,” he said.

“Can't I?” Sherlock said. “That's odd, I think I just did.” He turned and looked at the buttons. “Yes. I have.”

“Someone will notice,” Pearson said.

“Not until this conversation is done,” Sherlock said. “It will only take a minute.”

“This is bullying behaviour—I'll report you,” Pearson said.

“I don't work here, you'll have a hard time getting me fired,” Sherlock said. “And this is just a friendly chat, not bullying. We need to discuss your habit of taking things that don't belong to you.”

Sweat popped out on Pearson's brow, but he raised his chin in indignation. “I don't know what you're talking about,” he said, trying to reach past and start the elevator again.

Sherlock stood in front of the buttons. “Yes, you do,” he said. “And quite frankly, it's such a petty crime, I've really no interest in reporting you to the authorities, or getting you fired. If you're willing to reform, I see no need to tell anyone about it.”

Pearson switched tactics, throwing an anguished look on his face. “I don't mean to,” he said. “I just can't help myself—”

“No,” Sherlock said.

“I'm sorry?” Pearson said.

“You aren't a kleptomaniac,” Sherlock said. “Nice try, but if you'd researched that defence properly, you would have noted that kleptomaniacs steal on impulse. It's an impulse control disorder. Your thefts have been far too regular and well-planned to be impulsive. You don't show any signs of the guilt and shame which are characteristic of the disorder. You don’t have any of the usual co-morbidities. What you have is an ex-wife and co-custody of a child whom you're trying to woo in your favour. You take the items and sell them to charity shops who pay for gently used goods. Just a few pounds, but enough to buy the little one some sweets or toys that are out of your budget. That's why you're working all these nights, you take the shifts no one else wants to earn enough for the alimony.”

Pearson's mouth gaped a little. “I was just—”

“I really don't care,” Sherlock said. “I'm not the police or a judge or God. It's such a boring crime that it's barely worth my effort to solve it, let alone punish you. So, I suggest this plan: you return what you haven't yet sold. Put it in the Lost and Found box. Do it sparingly over the next few weeks, it will look suspicious if everything turns up at once. If you do this, I'll forget about it all.”

Pearson licked his lips, and then nodded. “Yes, yes, okay,” he said.

“Excellent,” Sherlock said. “I'm glad we could see eye to eye. And one more thing. You stole a necklace this morning. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less what other items are returned, but that necklace should be put right back where it was found. I will give you three days. If, after that time, the necklace is not returned, your supervisor is the first person who will hear about your light-fingers. Understood?”

“Yes,” Pearson croaked.

“And if I hear of anything else going missing—especially from Molly Hooper—do keep in mind that I am well-versed in criminal investigations, and can frame you for any crime I wish,” Sherlock added. He smiled, and turned to start the elevator again.

“You're mental,” Pearson said.

“I'm a genius,” Sherlock corrected. “Don't worry, it's a common mistake.”




Sherlock forgot about it almost as soon as he returned home. He was distracted by wedding plans, and it was another two days before he returned to Barts, once again without John, who was doing a shift at the surgery to help pay for the wedding plans.

“Oh! Hi, Sherlock!” Molly said, cheerfully. “Look!”

She pointed at her breasts. No, Sherlock realized after a moment, it was her neck he was supposed to be looking at. He raised his eyes. A little ladybird hung on a chain over her jumper. He could tell that should be significant, but had no idea why.

“I found it!” she said.

No, still not sure what she was on about.

“In my locker,” she added. “Do you remember, I lost it and you helped me look?”

Oh, yes. “Of course,” he said.

“I can't believe you didn't see it,” she said. “But when I opened my locker this morning, it was in the back, on the bottom shelf in the corner. I think maybe it got caught up in one of my scrub shirts, and fell out when I took it out or something.” She gave him a bit of a questioning look, but he didn't rise to it. “Anyway, I'm very happy to have it back!”

She was, he could see. For some reason, she was thrilled. Her eyes were alight, and her smile was big. He didn't see any cause to relay how it had come back to her. She might hug him, or get emotional. Better to let her think it was all just a happy turn of events.

After all, it really was a boring crime.
 
 
 
frozen_delight: booksfrozen_delight on May 25th, 2014 11:29 am (UTC)
Ooooh, the ladybird necklace!
*claps hands in wild applause*

I enjoyed this tremendously. Your Sherlock POV is absolutely marvellous, just the right mixture of not interested in normal people and their petty little problems and a genuinely good friend. Once again, you've succeeded at giving real Sherlock/Molly feelings by making their interactions cute and bizarre, but never overly sweet. Also, kudos for the way you had Sherlock solve the case, even if it was just a boring little crime to him - the idea of him frequently washing his hands in order to get the combinations to the employees' lockers particularly delighted me.

My personal highlights:

Cat-lover, had sex last night (she seemed to have sex every night, which must be exhausting), took the bus to work, just finished removing a brain.
This is such a perfect chain of deductions. It starts out with sex and ends with removing a brain. Only Sherlock would be capable of that.

Molly looked crestfallen. Which for some reason, made Sherlock angry. And not at her.
Just awww.

“You're mental,” Pearson said.
“I'm a genius,” Sherlock corrected. “Don't worry, it's a common mistake.”

Please, can I hire you to write the next Sherlock season? Pretty please? That would be so awesome. You write the best Sherlock. :)

Thank you so, so much for exploring this lovely idea and turning it into such a gorgeous little story. *hugs*
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 25th, 2014 02:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, good! I'm glad you liked it! I'm always a bit nervous when I write something specifically for a request. It was fun to write, though. Sneaky!sweet Sherlock is one of my favourite Sherlocks.

Please, can I hire you to write the next Sherlock season? Pretty please? That would be so awesome. You write the best Sherlock. :)

Hee! Thank you. I would accept your offer, but I doubt the other writers would see eye to eye with me.

Thanks for the support! It's such a nice thing to wake up to your comments. They're always very thoughtful and uplifting.
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on May 25th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
“Do you need me to look for your bracelet?” he asked.
“Necklace.”
“Whatever. I'm more observant than you,” Sherlock said.


I loved this exchange. If anything for the hilarity of Sherlock noting he's more observant when he'd just forgotten what Molly was even looking for.

As usual your Sherlock is awesome. I love how you write him as still being very him and kind of unpleasant but still able to be human and in his own way thoughtful.

“I'm a genius,” Sherlock corrected. “Don't worry, it's a common mistake.”

FTW!!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 25th, 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
I loved this exchange. If anything for the hilarity of Sherlock noting he's more observant when he'd just forgotten what Molly was even looking for.

Sherlock: My ability to remember useless details is entirely separate from my ability to notice significant ones.


As usual your Sherlock is awesome. I love how you write him as still being very him and kind of unpleasant but still able to be human and in his own way thoughtful.


Thank you! I was trying to find the right balance of that. I'm glad it worked for you! Thanks for reading and commenting!
aelfgyfu_mead: Molly Hooperaelfgyfu_mead on May 25th, 2014 05:13 pm (UTC)
I like that Sherlock doesn't insist on getting credit here, because he really does care about Molly. Much as he'd deny it, he wants an audience, and Molly is among the audience he most wants. I also like how he only remembers that it's a necklace when he needs to for his self-appointed case, and not when he's just trying to make Molly feel better.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 25th, 2014 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
shadowfireflameshadowfireflame on May 25th, 2014 10:36 pm (UTC)
They had a thief on their hands.
What fun!


Awww, Sherlock’s so happy now! :)

I love Sherlock’s elevator conversation and little smile when Pearson calls him mental. I can just imagine that Cheshire cat grin!!!

But this was really sweet. I love how Sherlock doesn’t take credit for solving the crime and Molly suspects he had something to do with it but isn’t sure how. Lovely story!