If I'm in time, Mollcroft, fake relationship. Also hi, new-ish follower here!
Mycroft did not like social functions, especially uselessly boring ones. Not that weddings were useless. Just ones where he did not know anyone, and certainly did not care to. Still, Anthea had texted him and said that Molly Hooper was in dire straits. Sherlock was still out of the country pretending to be dead, Inspector Lestrade was involved with Lieutenant Donovan, and Doctor Watson had just begun a relationship, one that Mycroft did not relish being ruined by a misunderstanding. Watson was in a delicate enough state of mind that even Mycroft balked at suggesting the good doctor. As for workmates, Stamford was married, and the intern was a driveling idiot, far below Molly’s IQ level.
“Why must she go to this insipid affair at all if she feel so compelled to bring someone?” Mycroft groused.
“It is a matter of pride, sir,” Anthea said. “Try and put yourself in her shoes. Her father was the only one of her immediate family that loved her. Her sister is…for lack of better words, an idiot, and her mother is…difficult. Very difficult.”
“Hm. Yes, and with Miss Hooper’s rather lackluster history with men, her mother’s domineering qualities, demand for grand-children coupled with her distaste for her younger daughter’s career, singlehood and ‘weight-gain’-“ he used the term in quotations with a roll of the eyes. “I suspect Mrs. Hooper would be less than pleased for her daughter to come sans escort to her second wedding.”
“Or even at all,” Anthea added. “Even if, in our opinions, it would be forgivable.” Anthea gave him a sharp look. “Are you backing out?”
“Certainly not!” he bristled at her evening thinking he could be that callous to Molly. “She’s done more than enough to earn a favor,” he paused, and Anthea caught a hint of sentiment behind his words.
“She’s done enough to earn a lifetime of favors, sir,” Anthea added gently. Mycroft nodded somberly.
“There is not enough money in the world to thank her for her services, I doubt she would accept it anyway.”
“She could do with a friend, sir.”
He grimaced, unused to the word. “I am not the ‘friend’ type.”
“How do you know?” Anthea asked. “Your brother is very keen on her.”
“Yes, so it should be him doing this, not me,” Mycroft scowled.
“But he’s not here, and she needs someone,” Anthea added. “It should be you. It shows you’re grateful for what she’s done, and your support for her and Sherlock.”
“I know,” he sulked. “But I don’t have to like it.”
“You never know,” Anthea smiled. “You might have a good time.”
“I hardly think so.”
Orangery in Kew Gardens, West London
Mycroft was pleased to note, glancing down at the woman on his arm, that Molly looked about as bored as he felt. He’d been to his fair share of dull parties, but this was, undoubtable, the worst.
“Is it crass of me to say your family has a very boring idea of a party?” he murmured in her ear.
She shifted, smiling up at him, genuinely amused. “Mother does love a proper soirée.”
“Nothing about this is proper. The ice sculpture is hideous, I don’t know what the pâté is made of but it’s revolting and resembles tinned corned beef rather than liver, the champagne tastes like soda water, the flowers are wilting due to not being properly cut, and the caviar is…” he tilted his plate over the garbage bin. “Caca.”
Molly snorted into her champagne flute, trying her hardest not to laugh and failing miserably. “Mother also likes to cut corners.”
“Which in itself is not a bad thing,” Mycroft agreed. “But in the case of food, where one risks food poisoning everywhere one looks, I’d prefer starvation.”
“Agreed,” Molly nodded. The hors d’oeuvres were, from a distance, attractive looking, but upon closer inspection, there was a faint smell of tinned meat, less-than-fresh lox and caviar that was certainly not the beluga variety her mother had been bragging to everyone about.
“Molly!” her mother waved her over.
“Oh dear, tin hat on,” Molly muttered, and waved back. Mycroft gave her hand a comforting squeeze, knowing too-well the dread that was in the pit of her stomach. He plastered a pleasant smile on his face, allowing Molly to go ahead of him through the crowd, keeping a hand on her lower back, gently guiding her from the more obtuse relatives.
“There you are dear!”
“Hello, congratulations mother, the hall looks beautiful.”
“It should for what it cost,” her mother said. “So! You final caught someone who can put up with your job?”
“Erm, yes,” Molly flushed. “Mycroft, this is my mother, Diana Collins. Mother, this is Mycroft Holmes, he works for the government.”
“Oh!” Diana brightened immediately. “How good to meet you! What do you think of this Brexit business? Obviously we need to be separate!”
Mycroft blinked, and Molly saw the unmistakable poker face of the Holmes men take over. “I never discuss business at parties, Mrs. Collins.” He smiled at her amused laughter, glancing at Molly, who could only shrug.
“Well that may be so,” Diana allowed. “But you must talk to Molly about finding a different job.”
“Mother,” Molly began.
“No I mean it. Cutting up bodies as if she enjoyed that sort of thing. It’s a wonder she’s found someone like you!”
“I happen to believe that whatever makes Molly happy, so long as it is within the confines of the law, has little to do with my opinion of it,” Mycroft replied coolly. “As it happens, she is very good at her work, and it was, in fact, how we met.”
“I still don’t see any use in your work,” Diana shook her head. “It’s depressing, it’s disgusting, how anyone can have a life-“
“Your daughter is quite brilliant,” Mycroft interrupted, now genuinely annoyed at this woman. Who on earth berated their daughter at a wedding, let alone in front of their significant other (the fact that they were only pretending was moot at the moment). “She’s been published all over the country, and indeed in several other countries for her findings in the medical field. She often speaks at Cambridge and Oxford. We’ve a better understanding of the human body thanks to your daughter. I, for one, am quite proud of her. Due excuse us.” With that, Mycroft tucked Molly’s hand into the crook of his elbow and led her away.
“I’m sorry I dragged you to this,” Molly said, once out of hearing of her mother. “You didn’t have to make such a speech.
“I am sorry if I embarrassed you,” Mycroft replied. “But I am not sorry I said those things.”
“She has a way of getting under people’s skin,” Molly shrugged. She glanced around at the party. “Would you like to go? It’s still early enough we can get something proper to eat.”
“Lawks, yes, please,” Mycroft sighed. “I am famished.” He paused. “And in need of a stiff drink.”
“Agreed,” Molly laughed and leaned her head against his shoulder briefly, a kindred moment between them.
They ended up directing the driver to a posh kebab shop in Soho.
“Sherlock took me here,” Molly said. “There’s Michelin chefs and a short wine list too.”
“As long as the meat is not green, I’ll eat anything,” Mycroft replied. He looked at the kebab shop uneasily, but Molly seemed confidant, and he knew her enough to know she didn’t muck about in bad restaurants. It turned out, she was right, and they took their orders to go, at his request.
“I dislike sitting in small restaurants,” he confessed.
“How about the bench over there?” Molly pointed to a small patch of greenery and a clean-looking place to sit.
“Very well,” he motioned to the chauffer, and the man nodded, pulling his mobile from his pocket. “Security,” he said, noting Molly’s questioning look. In a moment two security guards appeared and took up posts nearby.
“Is it always like this for you?” Molly asked, unwrapping her food.
“Eating on a bench? No.” Mycroft smirked. “But it is…well it isn’t a welcome change, but it is different.”
“Thanks for humoring me,” Molly laughed.
“Only for you, my dear,” he acknowledged.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.”
“My dear woman, you’ve done quite a bit over the past year for a life-time of favors from me.”
Molly looked at her food, then at him. “I don’t want you to do nice things because you feel indebted to me, Mycroft. I’d like you to do them, if you feel so inclined, because you want to. Because…because you’re my friend.”
He shifted in his seat, looked at the take-away container and then at her. “Then…then I shall endeavor to be so to you, Miss Hooper.”
“Good,” she nodded. Taking a bite of food, she smiled at him, her mouth full. “You’re a good man, Mycroft Holmes, I don’t care what your brother says.”
“Hmm, yes,” he murmured, swallowing a mouthful. “So…Anthea tells me you two have finally seen common sense and are a couple?”
Molly shook her head. “Not officially, not until he gets back,” she shrugged. “I don’t hear from him, if that makes you feel any better. We decided communication would be a bad thing, didn’t want to risk anything.”
“I shall have him contact you when it’s safe for him to do so,” Mycroft promised. She looked up then, eyes shining at him.