"I...," he eventually started, "I am... in pain."
Molly stared at Sherlock, her face inscrutable. "I am aware, Sherlock, that you consider most people oblivious and dull, but I'm not stupid! According to your standards, I probably am, but it doesn't need your standards to see that! What pain? What's wrong with you?" Her gaze wandered from his face over his abdomen to his waist and back, and John wondered why she was so openly scrutinizing his flatmate.
"It's nothing," Sherlock tried to dismiss her worries with a wave of his hand. "I'll be fine in a minute."
"Sure? Cause I definitely can't get rid of the feeling that you're... strange. Somehow. Not just the pain. You're just not ...you!" she replied with a frown, clenching her hands somewhat nervously.
John felt awkward. It was just wrong to lie to the pathologist, to abuse her trust and friendship. However, he would keep his word and give Sherlock his time. He didn't have any idea, though, how the Consulting Detective would extract himself from this deception later without deeply hurting the woman. John hoped that Sherlock would no longer keep up his acting, and was quite annoyed to hear that in fact he did.
"But, Molly, I don't know who I am, so I don't really know what's me and what isn't," Sherlock tried to turn the talk around.
Molly pressed her lips together and lowered her gaze. "Yes,... I'm sorry, Sherlock. It's just... I...haven't got used to you, um,...not being...um, yourself." she replied remorsefully, all her self-confidence and anger vanished. "It must be terrible not being able to recall your past -who you were, how you were... I guess," she added twisting the cords of her jacked around her index finger like a jittery school girl.
John turned away from the two, so that his grim face wasn't visible to Molly. He couldn't avoid snorting quietly, however. The situation was unnerving – Molly's nervousness was unnerving, and John wondered whether he was just a bit touchy, or whether it was the aura of the young woman that made him feel that way. Could Sherlock be right after all? He busied himself with pretending to store away the medication laboriously to shut himself off from the awkwardness.
"It's ... weird. I haven't got used to it myself," Sherlock replied, the fake innocent smile on his face audible in his voice. "Thanks for your help, Molly. I'm sorry to cause you so much trouble. I'm grateful for everything you have done for me, honestly!"
"My pleasure," the young woman replied quietly.
'Bastard,' John thought angrily, knowing that Molly had fallen again for the siren that was Sherlock. He wouldn't kill her literally, like the mythological sirens killed their victims, but John was sure that this game of Sherlock's and Mycroft's wouldn't leave her unharmed, if, or rather when, she found out the truth; and he felt extremely uncomfortable about being involved in it, albeit only passively.
John had finished packing away the medicine and wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest his leg. So he limped to his armchair, dropping into it, thus involuntarily getting a glimpse of Sherlock and Molly.
They were still standing in the same spot, Sherlock most likely because any movement still caused him pain and Molly because she apparently felt slightly uneasy, the awkwardness of the situation not yet having entirely subsided.
"So, what have you been doing today?" Sherlock asked, tilting his head slightly and smiling at Molly sweetly.
She hesitated a split-second before answering, seemingly concentrating on disentangling her fingers from the cord. "Ah, nothing interesting, really. Um, just took a little walk, some window shopping. Nothing particular, really," she replied and even John could hear that it didn't sound too convincing. The longer he listened to the two, the more doubts he developed about Molly's loyalty. The atmosphere of dishonesty in the room sickened John.
"Tell me about it. You know, I'm quite bored; John doesn't allow me to do much, and I am a bit... well, incapacitated, so I'm confined to the house and a bit sick of the walls surrounding me," the younger Holmes tweeted and the doctor snorted inwardly being made the scapegoat.
Molly looked a bit surprised. "You've only been here for a day, or so...,"
"You know...," he started, but interrupted himself, "you know, I'm just fed up with... with making myself familiar with new surroundings," Sherlock stammered and John realized that it must have been a snide remark that had almost slipped his flatmate's tongue, one that would have given away that he was acting his memory loss.
Molly briefly lay her forehead into small wrinkles of incomprehension, but then told him about a walk through the city, window shopping on Oxford Street, turning into Portland Place, walking north, having a coffee at the BBC Broadcasting House, strolling towards Regents Park, enjoying the green and finally ending up in Baker Street where she decided to pay Sherlock and John a brief visit. If Sherlock was right and she had come by taxi, she definitely was lying.
The Consulting Detective skilfully chatted with the outwardly unsuspecting Molly, who slowly regained her self-confidence, as all of a sudden she signalled Sherlock to stop chatting by raising her hand and shaking her head slightly.
Molly's gesture made John look up from the magazine he had been flicking through and he saw that she had raised her chin, looking at the taller man inquiringly.
"Sherlock? – What's really wrong with you? What's that pain? Don't tell me it's nothing. You're talking like a chatterbox, but you still haven't moved even a tad. You're not just in pain like... normal pain, are you? Tell me the truth, Sherlock!"
As if to prove her wrong, the Consulting Detective moved slowly and sat down on the sofa gingerly, patting the space next to him, signalling Molly to sit down, who followed after hesitating briefly.
"It's nothing worth mentioning, Molly."
"You think so?" she replied, frowning and giving Sherlock a suspicious look. "Well, I actually think that it's a bit unusual that apparently somebody has to help you change your pyjamas – or is it just coincidence that I happened to be here this once – is it a game of yours, spilling tea first and then forcing someone to pull down your trousers? Don't you think it's a bit weird? It's creepy – like an adolescent getting off on such behaviour."
John inhaled sharply, supressing a laugh. Molly's remarks could be surprisingly sharp and witty once she was confident about herself. Sherlock wasn't used to her shooting back verbally and it apparently bewildered him as his cheeks were blushing again ever so slightly. Mousy Molly had apparently made some progress during the last couple of weeks, remembering to stand up for herself with increasing frequency, which seemed to confuse the Consulting Detective a bit as she – and her knowledge – weren't as easily accessible as they had once been. Sherlock cleared his throat and sighed, slightly irritated.
"Yes, Molly. It is not just pain, you're right. My nociceptors and mechanoreceptors are over-stimulated, thus my skin hurts from merely the touch of the fabric of my pyjama – it's called allodynia. That's why I'm in pain and that's why... I couldn't help but embarrass myself with that bloody tea!" Sherlock had started in his sweet-talk voice, but ended with his teeth gritted. It was obvious how much he loathed his situation and obviously Molly had triggered a verbal outburst.
She had instinctively raised her hand in order to touch him in a soothing gesture only to recoil a split-second before she could cause Sherlock more pain.
"S...Sorry. I'm really sorry for that, but... Sherlock, ... erm...,"
"Why did you see Mycroft?" Sherlock interrupted her, the tone of his voice harsh and impatient, having entirely forgotten about being all nice.
Both John and Molly stared at Sherlock. The doctor was quite shocked that Sherlock had apparently lost patience. He was usually impatient, yes, but he would never just abandon a scheme for gathering wanted information. He rarely took the risk of bluntly bursting out with a question, the answer to which he had originally been sure of only obtaining through manipulation. John was convinced that it could only be to do with Sherlock's general distress.
Molly's reaction, however, surprised John at least as much as it amazed Sherlock: she stroked her opposite's cheek, but the touch didn't seem to be quite caressing, instead it was rather firm. Before Sherlock could react otherwise than screwing up his face, she slapped him, just slightly, but enough for the man to moan from the pain. It had to feel like a real bash on his over-sensitive skin. She then got up from the sofa, gathering her personal belongings and, her hand already on the door knob, turned to the Consulting Detective, her eyes shiny from tears.
"You sodding...! I should have known right away that your friendliness was just your way of taking advantage of me! Enough is enough, Sherlock! If you don't have enough backbone to be honest with me, I'm sorry, you neither deserve my help nor my friendship!" Tears were running down her cheeks now, but her voice was surprisingly steady albeit being quite shrill. She then turned to John who had been staring at her, stunned. Her voice was lower now and she was nearly hissing.
"This time, John, you have failed miserably. I never thought you'd play along with his ruthless game of manipulating people! Good-bye, you two! I'll be gone on holiday for some time and when I'm back, I won't be available for you!"
She tugged the door open and slammed it shut before either of the men could say anything.
"Well done, Sherlock! Very well done, indeed!" John spat angrily. If he hadn't been so lame he would have gone after her and clarified the situation. His loyalty towards Sherlock did have its limits.
Sherlock looked utterly confused, his hand hovering above his cheek's skin as if he wanted to rub it but remembered that it would cause him even more pain.
"That was a bit of an overreaction, wasn't it?" he stated.
John exploded. "Overreaction?! Jesus, Sherlock! This was probably your biggest sociopathic performance ever! Go after her!"
"Why would I?"
John was now snorting with rage.
"Yes, why would you?! - Because she's right, Sherlock! You are a sodding whatsoever and you have just chased away one of your very few friends. If you don't go after her, you're about to also chase away the other one, who has so far been willing to put up with you without much complaint. This is your business now! Go after her and apologize!"
"What for, John? For being in pain?"
Sherlock was lucky that the only item within John's immediate reach was the magazine he still had in his hand, and he thrust it into his flatmate's direction furiously.
"For causing her pain, Sherlock! You can't be so bloody thick!"
"She'll come back anyway," he remarked, and John couldn't believe that Sherlock had just turned form a nice chatty person – deliberate or not – into the most remarkable arsehole.
"Have you ever come across the idea that it doesn't always need an unfathomable scheme to obtain the information you want to have? Have you never thought about just asking? She's your friend – at least she was – and maybe, Sherlock, maybe she is on your side! Talking to her openly should have been your first choice! Keep that in mind, Sherlock: Don't. Cheat. On. Your. Friends!"
"I don't...," the Consulting Detective started.
"Leave me alone, Sherlock Holmes!" the upset doctor yelled.
The lanky man looked at him, furrowing his brow.
"Just get out of my sight! I can't stand you at the moment!"
Sherlock didn't move, but his gaze became a bit unsteady and he seemed to contemplate what to do.
"GO AWAY!" John shouted. His heart was racing from anger. This time Sherlock had gone too far. It was one thing to manipulate people generally; it was another to do it in a way that led to losing friends. If the stairs hadn't been an obstacle too difficult to overcome, he would have run – or limped – after Molly himself, but there hadn't been a chance for him to catch up on her. He needed to phone her, but he didn't want to do it in Sherlock's presence.
Apparently unable to comprehend John's rage, Sherlock slowly stood up from the sofa, walking into the direction of his room very carefully and closing the door behind him.
John clenched his fists and jaw, but his anger needed an outlet. "Fuck!" he yelled, thrusting the word after Sherlock.