tweed for her

If Ever There Is Tomorrow; Chapter 1


An AU in which Mulder and Scully meet three times over the course of their lives; told in a series of vignettes.

Tagging @today-in-fic and fulfilling my @fictober promise. I also wanted to dedicate this one to all the lovely, talented people who helped me out during the @fic-files write-in, because without their support and feedback I probably would not have had the courage to put this out there.


1. As Time Goes By

Spring, 1993

The end of the 20th century is only the beginning. Change hits the nineties at a breakneck speed; Hair is getting bigger, technology is getting smaller, colors are getting brighter while the climate begins to suffer, but in the midst of a new era, some old skeletons are about to be unearthed. The third time they meet is the least bloody, yet opens more wounds. It comes, like the times before, suddenly and without warning.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Mulder had been given plenty of warning when Skinner had informed him he was being assigned a partner; A scientist who was to, no doubt, disprove his work and report back to the kind of men he was fighting. To keep him in line and keep him from going overboard. This hadn’t come as a surprise, he always knew the closer he got to the truth, the more curveballs they would throw his way. What made him almost fall out of his chair was the name, Dana Scully.

A name he couldn’t claim had never crossed his mind.

Dana Scully haunted him like an intrusive thought or the vague memory of a strange fever dream. She reminded him of a time he would much rather forget, yet the feeling lingered; the possibility that maybe one day, their paths might cross again. When he’d heard that she’d enlisted he found himself needlessly frequenting Quantico in the hope and the dread of catching a flash of ginger hair. Her thesis was printed and dog-eared the moment it was published; because challenging one of the greatest minds the world has ever known was something so quintessentially Dana Scully, and he was ever the masochist.

His hopes were not high; he didn’t expect her to accept this assignment, and he certainly didn’t suppose she would darken his basement door that very same day, but suddenly, here she is, smiling down on him from the high road.

“Agent Mulder,” she says quietly, with an air of disbelief, “I’ve been assigned to work with you,”

They shake hands like strangers, his fingers burn at her touch; the sensation lingers even after her hand falls away. She had always run as warm as her complexion, His summer girl had become fall. Her hair is darker, neatly tamed. She teeters precariously on heels that give her precious extra inches, that demand he looks her in the eye. Her ill-fitting tweed suit hangs awkwardly on her slender frame; the whole ensemble reminds him of a child playing make-believe. Hidden is her rebellious heart under sensible attire and a polite smile; the heart he knows he broke, and one he refuses to break again.

So he puts down his slides and puts up his guard.

“Isn’t it nice to be so highly regarded? So who’d you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully?”

For a moment she’s stunned, then the next she recovers, “Actually, I’m looking forward to working with you,” she tells him.

He responds with a bitter smile, “Oh really? I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me.”

A fire sparks behind her eyes, she looks as if she was about to retort before he cuts her off. “I’m surprised you didn’t object to your placement, Scully, what with our tempestuous history,”

She hesitates, he hates that she hesitates, hates that he makes her hesitate. “I can’t say I wasn’t caught off guard,” she admits, “Though I knew it was a possibility we would run into each other when I started working at the Bureau…”

“Yes, this is interesting happenstance isn’t it, Doctor?” She tenses, Mulder stands and brushes past her in order to miss her patented Scully glare.

“If you’re suggesting that you played any part in any decision concerning my career…”

“I’m not suggesting anything, I just always supposed you’d be headed towards a Nobel prize by now, yet here you are wasting your talents in the basement with me,”

Scully blinks and tilts her pointed chin, “You think I’m wasting my talents here, Mulder?”

“It’s just that in most of my work, the laws of physics rarely seem to apply,” he shrugs and hits the lights. In the unearthly glow of his projector, Scully looks like a ghost.

He shows her the dead kids, barely older than they had been, once upon a time. He tells her his theories, she rebukes them with a smirk, slowly the ice begins to thaw and a familiar feeling begins to take root.

Then she leaves, and the basement feels darker and emptier than it ever had before. So Scully was back in his life and maybe, plausibly, this time she would stay. Mulder locks the office door behind him that evening and whistles the whole way home.

Fall, 1978

September in Connecticut, 1978 is record-breaking. The air as thick and hot as soup, her stiff collared shirt clings to her skin and dampens at the base of her neck. She wipes away the sweat beading on her forehead with the end of her ugly striped green tie and ignores the disapproving look her mother gives her.

Dana had always marvelled at how the air was always different in every new place they landed, she secretly ranked them from the icy unforgiving winds of the Scottish moors to the serene and exotic air of Japan. Greenwich so far was not doing too well on this list, however, it looked like she was going to have to get used to it. She had long since gotten used to the routine of neatly packing up her life in matching suitcases and burying a lunchbox in the backyard.

Melissa left a trail of broken hearts behind them like push pins in a map. Her sister had always been better at making friends, she claimed it had something to do with her aura, Dana wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, only that hers was probably broken. Usually, by the time she had started warming to people, her father would sit the four of them on the couch and tell them it was time to start saying goodbyes, so Dana eventually stopped trying to find people to say goodbye to.

She had her friends, they were called Mom, Ahab, Missy and Charlie. Sometimes Bill, when he wasn’t being a pain in the A Double-S. They were all she really needed. When she was very young, she even had an imaginary friend called Lucy, who took the form of a red squirrel. Lucy would curl up behind her hair and whispered secrets in her ear. Dana liked the fact that nobody else could see her, that she was hers and hers alone.

Sometimes she would pen a letter to the boy who had forgotten her, only to burn it in the bathtub with her mother’s lighter.

But still, her Mom always tried. She heard her arguing sometimes with her father that it wasn’t good for them, that kids needed stability. It looked like this year she had finally won the war and a house was bought, not rented.

She shifts uncomfortably as her bare thighs stick to the Principals rigid leather seats. The Principal in question was a tall British woman with large teeth, a sensible mousey bob and a collection of motivational animal posters. Dana catches the eye of a mournful kitten hanging from a curtain, encouraging her to Hang In There! and somehow feels even less optimistic.

“Now Diana, a little birdy told me that you’re especially talented at Science is that right, dear?” She smiles in a condescending way that makes Scully bristle. Bill snickers to her right, Missy kicks him in the shin on her behalf.

“It’s Dana, Ms Paterson,” Her mother corrects her patiently.

“Oh, my apologies, Dana.”

Dana represses the urge to roll her eyes, instead, begins to fiddle with the brand new chain around her neck. Naturally she was the last of the three to be enrolled, but unfortunately for her, also the one the school was most interested in.

“As I was saying, it seems you are just the model student, and if you don’t mind the extra work, we might be able to sign you up to the tutoring scheme, we have a nice young man who is in need of a little extra help in physics,”

Maggie nods encouragingly at her, clearly ecstatic at the prospect of her troubled young daughter making a friend. Dana tries feebly to muster her mothers’ enthusiasm,

“Sure, Miss, sounds… neat,”

“Wonderful,” she croons, “I hope you don’t mind, but I already took the pleasure of asking Fox to come by the office, so you could get to know each other,”

Dana’s hand stilled at the base of her throat, she felt her mother stiffen beside her, and her siblings’ squabbles fall silent. No. It couldn’t be that uncommon a name. “Fox?” she falters.

“Yes, quite an odd name isn’t it? He’s truly lovely boy, very very bright, unfortunately, he had to be held back a year…” Ms Paterson yammers on, but Dana had long since stopped hearing her words, as a minute later he appeared.

He was taller and lanky, the skin on his cheeks textured and he was in dire need of a haircut, but he was undoubtedly the same wide-eyed boy who had been her first real friend. And with wide eyes, he stares at her from the doorway, as if he couldn’t believe them himself.

“Scully?”

Framed by a halo of light from the hall, the image of him becomes blurred by the tears which spring to her eyes. Her chair falls backwards with a heavy thud as shoots to her feet. She mutters an apology to the baffled headmistress before she hurries from the room.

“Scully,” Mulder pleads, catching her hand as she darts past and clutches it tight. Electricity floods her veins. She looks into those familiar hazel eyes and pauses only a moment before she pulls her hand away and runs.

Summer, 1969

The summer of ‘69 is worthy of its song. Rock and Roll is at its peak, a man walks on the moon, and somewhere in New England, a lonely little boy meets a lonely little girl.

With a startled wail and a resounding thump, she falls out of a tree into his yard and into his life.

The day until that moment had been dull and unremarkable. Having escaped captivity and found refuge in his favourite spot, under a tall oak tree overlooking the tranquil sea; Fox William Mulder, seven and three quarters, jumps with a start and stares at the heap of limbs and hand me downs, as it groans then starts to giggle.

“Are you okay?” he asks, as his initial shock subsides.

“Yeah, yeah,” it says, “I’m fine,”

Dana Katherine Scully, six and a half, sits up to brush off the worst of the debris but lets out a sharp gasp as a lightning bolt of pain shoots through her wrist. However, being the tough cookie she was having grown up playing rough with William Scully Jr, the sprain was not enough to make her cry.

“You don’t look okay, you’re bleeding,” Mulder observes. She touches a hand to her mouth which sure enough, comes away red. Between them on the crisply trimmed grass lies a pearly white tooth. The ruffled girl picks it up and studies it curiously, tonguing the fresh gap in her gums, then tucks it into the pocket of her overalls.

“I guess you’re gonna see the tooth fairy,” he lisps, gesturing to his own missing front teeth. Her freckles dance as she wrinkles her nose.

“The tooth fairy isn’t real,” she replies, spitting scarlet on the ground and wiping her mouth on her arm, staining her skin like war paint.

“Is too, and so is Santa Claus,”

He offers a hand to help her to her feet, which she takes with a bloody, gap-toothed grin. This girl was brand new, he knew every fresh face in this small seaside town, and not one of them had ever smiled at him like that before. She’s all skinned elbows and scabby knees. She looks like she was spat out by the sun, with a fiery rat’s nest of auburn hair and a mischievous gleam in her bright blue eyes. He feels like Isaac Newton, hit on the head with the discovery of the century.

“You’re not from around here are you?” he asks.

She shakes her head, “No, we just moved here this week. My Dad’s gone to sea, I was trying to see his boat from up there when I slipped,” She replies, gesturing to the web of twisted branches above their heads.

“He’s a pirate?” he jokes; she quirks a little brow.

“No. He’s a Captain,”

“Captain Hook?”

Fox Mulder is still at the age where girls are kind of gross, but the sincerity with which this pretty tomboy laughs makes his ears turn red regardless. She was like a breath of fresh air after spending the whole day trapped inside a stuffy room, which incidentally he had.

“Fox,” he blurts at her, suddenly losing his cool.

“What did you call me?” she replies hotly, her un-injured hand flying self-consciously to her mussed red hair.

“No! my name is – “

“Fox!” They jump at the booming disembodied voice calling from the house a few meters away, “What in the hell are you doing?”

“Crap,” he mutters. Scully can’t help but flinch at the use of the word which would have cost her her dessert. “I’m supposed to be grounded, I think I’d better go,”

She tries not to be disappointed, but finds herself reluctant to say goodbye to this curious boy with a strange sense of humor, who believes in myths and fairy tales; but he makes no move to leave, equally unwilling to say goodbye to the girl who dresses like a boy and smells like the sea, who climbs trees and doesn’t cry when she falls. They eye each other hesitantly until finally, she breaks the silence.

“Your name is Fox?” she asks.

He makes a face, “Yeah, but I hate it. I like my last name better. It’s Mulder,”

“Mulder,” she tries it on her tongue and decides she likes the taste. She straightens her back and offers her hand like she’s seen adults do a thousand times before. “Ok. Nice to meet you, Mulder, my name’s Dana, but I guess you can call me Scully,”

“Scully,” he beams and takes her tiny, dirty hand in his. They shake in childish ignorance to how their stars had just aligned.

Making The Grade - St. Paddy’s Day

A/N: This is canon, and occurs shortly after MtG ends.  Enjoy!


Niall had been insistent that Poppy come out for St. Patrick’s Day with him, despite her lamenting that he should go out and enjoy time with his friends. He whined and nibbled at her earlobe, pulling her off his desk and onto his lap in his tiny office. “C’mon puppy, ya gotta come out. All my friends wanna meet you.”  Poppy groaned at the nip of his teeth against her skin and at the ridiculous pet name he’d started using more frequently.

“I didn’t think it was possible to make my name any more obnoxious, but you’ve done it Horan.”

Niall giggled softly into her skin and trailed his fingers across the perpetually tattered cuffs of her cozy sweatshirt. “You love it.  Please come out with us. All my mates are flying in - even my idiot cousins that I haven’t seen since last Christmas.”

At the mention of Christmas, Poppy’s resolve crumbled. Three months earlier, Niall had cancelled his plans to fly home to Ireland for Christmas when he found out Poppy was spending it alone, holed up in her apartment. She had argued with him that he hadn’t been home in a year, but his insistence that no one should be alone on Christmas  was steadfast.  It had ended up being one of the best holidays she’d ever had.  Poppy sighed and twisted her slender fingers with his thick ones. “Ok. I’ll come. I’ll meet you guys out though, I’ve got to finish some articles. How will I be able to find you?”

Niall grinned mischievously and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “You won’t be able to miss us. Trust me.”

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You all, gotta get this out there

Looking at Infinity Figures in Toys R Us (because I’m a 28-year-old who still trolls around toy stores…sue me) and thinking goddamn do we need 2016 Ghostbuster figures like these. Can you imagine? Just sit with me for a minute. All four girls (and Kevin) suited up and in dynamic poses. 

Holtz with her twin pistols, one raised to lick, the other front and center. 

Abby with her proton fist or her gun raised across her chest, clutched in her hands, smirk in place.

Patty, with her multi-colored hair, standing proud and tall with her gun resting on her shoulder, big grin splitting her face

Erin looking fierce and focused in a ready stance with her proton gun drawn or standing contrapposto with her gun resting on her hip

Kevin with his jumpsuit around his hips looking proud of himself

Alternatively:

Abby in her sweater outfit with a copy of “Ghost from Our Pasts” clutched against her chest, grinning widely.

Patty in her MTA uniform

Holtz wearing her green crop top and paint-spattered overalls, goggles on her head

Erin in her tweed Columbia outfit giving a faint, shy smile

Kevin scratching his eye through the lenses of his glasses

Real talk, if I had the ability to sculpt anything in Maya, I’d be 3D printing these babies and pimping them out on Etsy. Sony’s made it plain they won’t give us any more merch for these girls, so we gotta make it ourselves 

8

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Chapter Two: Aunt Marge’s Big Mistake

But Aunt Marge suddenly stopped speaking. For a moment, it looked as though words had failed her. She seemed to be swelling with inexpressible anger — but the swelling didn’t stop. Her great red face started to expand, her tiny eyes bulged, and her mouth stretched too tightly for speech — next second, several buttons had just burst from her tweed jacket and pinged off the walls — she was inflating like a monstrous balloon, her stomach bursting free of her tweed waistband, each of her fingers blowing up like a salami —

2

But Aunt Marge suddenly stopped speaking. For a moment, it looked as though words had failed her. She seemed to be swelling with inexpressible anger — but the swelling didn’t stop. Her great red face started to expand, her tiny eyes bulged, and her mouth stretched too tightly for speech — next second, several buttons had just burst from her tweed jacket and pinged off the walls — she was inflating like a monstrous balloon, her stomach bursting free of her tweed waistband, each of her fingers blowing up like a salami…

Summer House ~Chapter One: Changing Writers

Okay so…. @diggo26 is the only person whose read this story or what I managed to write during the month of April during the camp that @green-arrows-of-karamel allowed me to take part in. She’s certain this is a great story and I’m still unsure. I’m posting the first chapter because again a certain friend desperately wants me to share…

Summary: Oliver Queen has been missing for two years. On the eve of his 2nd anniversary the local paper with the families consent has decided to run a memorial article since one was never done when he first went missing. Sara Lance was assigned the story at first but know the paper’s hotshot reporter Felicity Smoak has been assigned the story. Felicity must now put her personal feelings aside as she searches for the truth to Oliver Queen’s disappearance.  

FYI I suck at summaries so please give it a shot. 

Read it here or on AO3

Preamble:

Red tapestries, faded hardwood and, broken glass surrounded his tall, angular form. He pushed his fingers along the white marble window sill; the dust fell over the beveled edge with ease as his cold blue eyes peered through the scratched up window panes.

The empty branches scratched along the battered, abandoned glass; the windows now were simply a broken reflection of a place that once felt like his true home. He shifted his gaze and, let the rhythmic pace of the wind along the glass ease the growing loneliness within his hardened heart. The clock along the stone mantel clanged, the windows rattled and, the shutters snapped along the home’s stone exterior.

His sharp inhale seemed silent when the wind once more howled, “Two years tomorrow,” he groaned to the creaking walls. “Two years and no one’s come…” he bemoaned as the lone flicker of light finally went out…

Chapter One: Changing Writers

The room around her was filled with the sounds of tapping fingers and thudding brains. Her brightly painted fingernails tapped along the faded black keys of her worn office keyboard. She tapped at the edge of the archaic machine and, let her furrowed brow fade into a frustrated one.

“Every life has a story, every journey has a reason and, every life has to find its ultimate purpose.”

Once she read the line aloud she immediately pressed her eager pinkie over the fairly worn backspace key. She watched with anticipated annoyance while each word slowly began to simply fade away.

She heard the sharp scowl of her thoroughly overworked officemate. “Please explain to me how that cow expects us to produce miracles from absolutely nothing!”

Felicity grumbled in sour agreement, “I take it you’ve been given the memorial story from hell?”

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Kentledge Hall

Chapter Sixteen

A penniless dock worker inherits a title and his family’s destitute estate. In order to save the house and grounds, he puts an ad in the paper for a wealthy wife from the United States. The damaged Emma Swan is desperate for a new start anywhere but New York. Together, will they save Kentledge Hall?

@ofshipsandswans is the talented creature who created the cover art, and she also created 1, 2, 3 corresponding moodboards!

@lenfaz @kmomof4@accio-ambition @rubyrose82@chrissascorner@wellhellotragic@ultraluckycatnd @krystalsficpage@anouj112@onceuponaprincessworld @killlihan-jones @ofwhitewolvesswansxpirates

Let me know if you want tagged on these updates!

Rated M

Catch up on AO3


June 1918, Westminster Abbey, London

“And for bravery under heavy enemy fire,” the Prime Minister announced from his podium, “we award the Bronze Cross to The Most Honorable Marquess Killian Bertram Jones, Lord Matlock.”

There was a smattering of applause as a visibly nervous Killian stepped up before Lord Lloyd-George and bowed his head to accept the medal as it was placed around his neck. With a slight smile he stood and turned to face the crowd. Emma sat in the second row, dabbing lightly at the corner of her eye as she watched her husband accept the award from the highest levels of the English government.

Killian glanced at his wife, adorned in her sparkling tiara and a modest gown of cream-colored satin. She seemed to shine like the sun. Resisting the urge to wink, he carefully took his seat once more at the side of the church as the ceremony continued.

Following the pomp and circumstance, Emma moved to Killian’s side and slid her arm into his. “You were wonderful,” she cooed into his ear.

“Sweating like a hog,” he whispered back to her through clenched teeth as another fellow peer approached to make small talk.

“You’ll be just fine,” she smirked and rubbed at his wrist in an attempt to calm his nerves. She watched as her husband, a former working man, easily navigated his way through conversations with the highest of society. She was exceedingly proud of him. His transition had been amazing. She had watched him from the day he first fumbled to serve tea at their meeting, to parties where he had to bite his tongue, now to becoming a decorated member of the upper crust. Despite the change in his circumstances, Killian had retained a good heart and maintained the estate so that it thrived in the war-torn economical climate.

“Lovely pair, the two of you make,” the Duke smiled at the both of them, who gave blushing nods in return. “A fine example of the very best English breeding.”

The Duke wandered off after a brief conversation, and Emma took the chance to assist Killian in making an escape. They walked quickly in the direction of the exit, with Emma giggling under her breath. “Probably shouldn’t burst his bubble about ‘very best English breeding’.”

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The Sordid Coat Romance

@8minutehooper said: Congrats!! Well…since you specifically mentioned Mycroft’s brolly… how about Molly being jealous of Sherlock’s coat? Kind of a twisted version of CoatLock (cause we know Sherlock loves the thing!) :) I don’t know, I stink at prompts, so I’ll be happy for anything you feel like doing.


This was excellent prompts, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So… you said ‘jealous of’, and I might have read that as 'madly in love with’. >.> Molly is kind of a madwoman in this and I don’t care because I love it. Also Jim was feeling left out so there is bonus sort of Molliarty because we don’t want to piss off Jim.

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@kurlishweek Day 2: AUs

Hello hello it’s me with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer AU that absolutely no one asked for!

I actually had a ton more ideas for this and not enough time to write the entire story, so this is kind of a prologue, more Bart-centric but introduces Ken so uh hopefully it counts. Might try and get the rest done for Halloween or something!

In every generation there is a Chosen One.

She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness.

She is the Slayer.



It happened when she was… eleven? She doesn’t really know anymore. She knows she was young. Real young, apparently- even the men who came to pick her up seemed surprised.

She may not remember exactly when it happened, but she remembers how it felt. It was like everything- a hug, a kiss, a punch in the damn gut- at once. One minute she was just Bart, and the next she was… something else. Someone else. She couldn’t figure it out. She was pretty used to being alone in her body, now it sorta felt like there was something else living there. Something made of blinding light and creeping shadows and everything in between.

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estherlyon  asked:

rebelcaptain as holmes and watson - because I like the thought of jyn smoking a pipe

You guys really like Couple’s Costumes for this prompt. Also, my dog’s name is Watson, so this one amused me.

“Why am I always the sidekick?”

Jyn shrugged as she tucked in her cravat. Cassian may be annoyed, but she looked great in a pair of tweed trousers. Her curves under a 19th century suit and waistcoat weren’t worthy of protesting for long.

“Do I seem like your Watson?” She winked at him in the mirror. 

She had a point. 

“Next year, you choose. Besides, you get a sexy cane.” She spun around to face him leaning back no the vanity. “And a badass mustache.”

“Your pipe is better.”

“You can steal the pipe when I start drinking,” she grinned, and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him. When he pulled away, appeased, she glanced over his shoulder. 

“What is that?!”

He stepped back at the look or horror on her face.

Jyn fell to her hands and knees on the carpet, peering under the bed.

“What?”

“Come here. Look at this.”

He knelt beside her, but it was a tight fit to look where she was pointing. He squeezed his body next to hers to look under the bed, lying alongside her on their bedroom floor.

“Is that… a clue?” she arched her spine, rubbing her ass against him. He groaned. 

“You’re the worst.”

“Elementary, my dear,” she rolled onto her back and pulled his weight over her.

As he was sure Watson had his moments of annoyance at being the sidekick, he instead pressed her back onto her stomach, bringing her knees forward to lift her ass.

Jyn slid the pipe into her mouth, giving herself something to bite down on. 

“We can be fashionably late.”

He smirked, loosening his belt. 

“We can be late.”

A Million Questions

at a soothsaying booth
next to the cotton candy
funnel
cakes and fun house

an old woman has a black bird
on her shoulder
&
tweed blanket# thrown over
a lump on the table

you are next to me, our
fingertips are the furthest
they’ve
ever been

she pulls the-
back -tweed

her sweet stained fingertips
leave no fingerprints on the purple
swirling
globe
of
mist

I reach for your hand
as we place our fingertips
not on our future

but all those things

already past

bg-5/14/17

For @hprarepairnet​ & @slytherdornet​‘s summer challenge
r
emus lupin x narcissa black
in the countryside


“It’s all quite quaint isn’t it.” Her blonde locks flowing in the brisk wind, her hands bringing her tweed jacket around her shoulders. “Makes me almost want a pet, like a dog, and drink tea.”

Remus stepped closer, the sleeve of his jumper covering his hand as he swiped it over her nose affectionately. “It almost sounds like you’re enjoying the countryside,” he chuckled as he looked her up and down. “You’re dressed for the part.”

“I’m Narcissa Black; if I didn’t, would I really be the woman you love?”

lilsherlockian1975  asked:

Congrats, sweetness! May I have a Sherlolly story, please? All the hugs and all the kisses, Lil

Aww, thank you, hun! This is going to be an explicit fic in part 2, but as I said, I can’t brain writing much more than foreplay right now, so hopefully it will come Friday. This part is suggestive but not too much so I’m not tagging it not safe for work.

An Overabundance Of Cherries (½) - When Sherlock Holmes thinks of Molly, he associates her with cherry-printed clothing.

Read Chapter 1 @ AO3 | Buy Me A Coffee? | Send Me A Prompt

He would never admit to snooping. Not that he needed to; he was a consulting detective, he was sure most people assumed he did so anyway.

But most people never let him use their bedroom as a bolthole, either.

He’d noticed Molly would almost always tidy it up before she let him in if he showed up while there was some semblance of her being awake enough to do so. He did try, at times, to be courteous of the hour. And there were times, of course, when he was gracious enough to share the sofa with the cat if it was too late in the hour, and lay awake and think. And it worked well for a time, this arrangement, even after her engagement to Meat Dagger, though he doubted the man himself approved. Molly never breathed a word, though.

Though…she didn’t let him stay the night. If she wanted to spend the night with her fiancee, he came to his bolthole finding a tidy bedroom and an empty flat.

And then, he would snoop.

He had wondered what the attraction was, beyond the physical. Beyond the rather pale resemblance. Was he a kind man? Did he treat her well? Was he gracious to her friends and kind to what little family she had left, scattered to the wind as it was? Had he even met he sister in Berwick-upon-Tweed or heard stories of her nieces who she only really knew through photographs?

To be honest, he wondered why he knew of them. Why she had told him. Why he had listened and cataloged the information and the pictures of Grace and Tabitha and settled it firmly in her room in his mind palace where all the pertinent information about her went. He and Molly weren’t friends, not really. They could have been, possibly, if things had been different. If he had allowed it.

Perhaps he should have.

No use for it now.

It was in one of those times where he was alone in the flat where he found something out of place. Something…intimate…out of place. Oh, her bedroom was always tidy, so clean he’d expect she could probably perform surgery in it with a low chance of patient infection. But sticking out of the hamper was a brassiere.

A cherry patterned brassiere.

He flashed back to the first time he saw her, in Stamford’s office. Not officially on duty, just hired, probably having just been warned against angering him. Hair pulled back in a sleek bun, slightly off center at the nape of her neck, simple black skirt that ended just above the knees, white button down blouse with no frills, and the cherry print cardigan he would soon come to associate with her. Even then he had been struck by the thought she was soft, and he could bend her to his will.

He should have known differently.

He fingered the brassiere and thought absently about doing more. It was true, he had those thoughts from time to time. He did his best to ignore them, as they held no place in his life. Carnal thoughts would simply slow the scientific process, do nothing more than complicate things. Complicate everything.

And she wasn’t his to have.

She was someone else’s.

Greedy bastard he might be, he wouldn’t hurt her by putting her in a position to make her break a vow she’d made. She promised herself to someone else, and they could be friends. Nothing more.

The brassiere went in the hamper, the lid closed, and he tried to forget about it.

Tried, being the operative word.

2

Attire for Grace & Alia’s Birthday Party

River looked down at herself, holding her arms out at her sides and noting how the sleeves of her tweed suit hung past her fingertips if she let them lay naturally. How the hem of the slacks slumped heavily around her unpolished loafers. “I think anything’s going to fit better than this thing." 

River arrived to the party in the only suit she owned: an oversized, secondhand thrift store suit made of itchy tweed with a corduroy bow tie and dirty, worn dress shoes. When she arrived, Ash swooped in and dressed her in one of his elegant suits instead.