"What have you done to Molly, John?"
He had blinked a couple of times, pursing his lips and inhaling deeply to calm down from the newly fanned anger. Just as he opened his mouth to reply, Sherlock had, according to his current standards, stormed past them and down the stairs.
"What was that?" a surprised Mrs Hudson asked. John could only guess that it had to do with Molly. Maybe his flatmate had come to his senses and decided to apologize to the pathologist - but he wouldn't want to run through London's streets dressed in just a pair of silken pyjamas, would he?
"Hello, Mrs Hudson. You're back, I see. - I... have no idea," John replied, frowning. "And to your question from before: I have done nothing to her myself. The only thing I have to blame myself for is letting him do his weird thing!" With his thumb he pointed over his shoulder in the direction in which Sherlock had disappeared.
"I thought the worst when I came home and bumped into a crying Molly. The last message I got was that Sherlock was okay but had lost his memories, that's why I came back as soon as I could arrange. I thought I could be of some help, but it seems he was playing one of his cruel games, or wasn't he?"
"No, Mrs Hudson, he had indeed lost his memories, but they have resurfaced quite recently. And don't ask me why he insisted on pretending to Molly! I have no idea. He's Sherlock, maybe that's the only explanation for his reasons that we'll get." John pressed his lips together, giving an apologetic smile.
Their talk was interrupted by some obviously very angry shouting from downstairs.
John raised his eyebrows. "That... sounds pretty much like Molly – is she still here?"
"We had a cuppa downstairs. – She was so upset, John!"
"I see. But how did he know then that she was still here?" Most likely, Sherlock hadn't had any intention of running through London in his pyjamas – he had known that she was still in the house.
"He's Sherlock, John!"
"Yeah, that explains it," the doctor mumbled to himself, watching Mrs Hudson walking to their kitchen.
"I'll make you a cuppa – well, we'll all need one. A good tea is better than any medicine can be, John. Maybe sometimes it needs a drop of rum in it..."
Mrs Hudson's cheerful chatter was so refreshing that John couldn't avoid a laugh despite his gloomy mood.
"I might need a drop of tea with my rum, though...," he added quietly.
"Shush, John. It's become quiet downstairs. Should we go and..." the old lady said, when the door to the flat opened and an extremely pale and worn-looking Sherlock entered, supporting himself with his one hand on the wall, and followed by Molly.
John and Mrs Hudson just stared at the two expectantly, which earned them a dark look from Sherlock and an insecure smile from Molly before the latter furrowed her brow and the smile faded. She pierced Sherlock and John's landlady with a look.
"You... said you were, um, unpacking. Are you involved, too?" she asked between gritted teeth.
Mrs Hudson raised her arms in defence. "Of course not, love! I just wanted to check on the boys and, well – probably read the riot act. Someone has to do it!"
Before Molly could say anything, Sherlock pushed her through the living-room towards his room.
John threw a quizzical look at Mrs Hudson, who merely shrugged in return, when the door to Sherlock's bedroom shut behind the Consulting Detective and the pathologist.
"It seems he was successful," John stated drily.
Mrs Hudson hesitantly pointed in the direction of the bedroom door. "Do you think we should..."
"No, I don't think so, Mrs Hudson. Let them sort it out themselves."
"Hmm, yes. But, John- you need to tell me now what's going on here. The atmosphere is quite... chilly here."
The doctor sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. "Hm, yeah, I guess I should," he mumbled, "Sit down."
After his landlady had fetched two cups of tea, passing one to John, she made herself comfortable in Sherlock's armchair, scrutinizing John expectantly. The doctor took a deep breath and filled their landlady in with everything that had happened and everything that he knew.
Molly had taken a seat in the chair in the corner of Sherlock's room. She hadn't dared to interrupt the Consulting Detective once, but the longer she had listened to his gruesome report, the faster her heart had beaten and her breath had gone from the dismay that was laying its icy hand around her heart. When Sherlock had finished, sitting on his bed and resting his head on his raised knees - the casualness of the pose giving Molly an unfamiliar feeling of intimacy- , he stared at the pathologist, who couldn't prevent herself from merely staring back. There was something, however, in Sherlock's gaze that didn't resemble his usual irritated expression when people who were looking at him intently without saying anything. For the first time since she had met Sherlock in St. Barts' lab, the silence between them was neither a busy one nor awkward, it was just right. Molly felt a lump in her throat that she wasn't able to get rid of, so she decided to simply wait. Much to her surprise, Sherlock slowly dropped on his side, rolling up into a foetal position. When the pathologist dared to take a closer look at him a couple of minutes later, he was sound asleep, looking utterly exhausted and peaceful at the same time.
"Poor you," Molly whispered huskily, covering him tenderly with a blanket before tip-toeing out of the room. After she had closed the door very carefully, she slowly turned around to face the living-room, from which Mrs Hudson and John were staring at her expectantly. She moved into their direction clumsily, as if a weight was resting on her shoulders, still feeling the lump in her throat that she realized she wouldn't be able to ignore anymore, the tears already welling from her eyes. Within seconds she was a sobbing mess, dropping onto the sofa and burying her head in her hands. She was embarrassed to lose herself totally, but soon she felt a consoling hand rubbing her back. Molly realised that it was a strong hand and a firm touch, so it wasn't Mrs Hudson's. Without looking up, she let the tears come and the pain she was feeling about Sherlock's fate go.
"What did he do this time?" Mrs Hudson asked without hiding the reproach in her voice, and Molly looked up, her vision still blurred from the tears. After snorting through her snotty nose in a very unlady-like manner, she said quietly, "Nothing, Mrs. Hudson. He, um..., he just talked." Molly felt John patting her back.
"Just for the record, Molly: he talked? Talked in the sense of 'he opened up'?"
The pathologist nodded. "Yes, John. I think I even understand now why he acted the way he did."
"Good. That's good. I think, though, you have the advantage over us now. As hard as I try to understand him, I fail quite often, I'm afraid."
"How can one understand what's going on in that brain?" Mrs Hudson remarked. "But you're right, Molly. John has just told me a good deal of what had happened, so at least some things make sense, although I wouldn't go that far that I understand Sherlock."
"What's he doing now?" the doctor wanted to know, tilting his head into the direction of his flatmate's room.
"Sleeping," the still snivelling woman replied, searching her trouser pockets for a tissue. "John?"
"Hm?" The ex-army man had got up from the sofa, retrieving his crutch.
Molly sighed. "Will he recover?"
John raised an eyebrow in contemplation. "I honestly don't know. You know, Molly, we can't help him – he wouldn't let us anyway, I guess – so, it really depends if he's able to forget about what had happened to him or to cope with it. As much as I sometimes hate his ruthlessness and manipulation, I'm really sorry for him at the same time. He just drives me up the wall with it sometimes."
Mrs Hudson chuckled. "Indeed."
"He asked me to go on the hunt for the woman behind the attacks."
"Woman?" John and Mrs Hudson yelled in surprised unison.
"Er, yes. He explained it to me and it sounds sensible." Molly briefly reported what Sherlock had said about the real culprit. John rolled his eyes.
"What?" Molly probed. "Doesn't make sense?"
"'Course it does! It's just – this bloody leg! Molly... when you go on a hunt with Sherlock, it can be very dangerous - as we've proven quite frequently lately, I reckon. I have a feeling that we underestimated the woman, as you say – Sherlock says - who has this old score to settle with him. I mean, they nearly managed to kill us twice! We're not cats with nine lives, so I don't think that it's a good idea. We should leave it to Mycroft and Lestrade."
Molly threw John a long glance, her eyes speaking volumes of strength, willpower, stubbornness and a familiar glowing around the widened dark pupils.
"Ah, for God's sake! You've already fallen for the promise of danger, haven't you? Talking to you sensibly is in vain, I conclude."
Molly's tear- streaked face took on a determined expression and the corners of her mouth moved up ever so slightly, not quite a smile, yet, but well on the way.
John shook his head, making a little huffing sound. He looked up to the pathologist, his face all of a sudden becoming very serious. He furrowed his brow.
"Be careful, Molly. A dead friend is not what we want. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Sir!" she saluted, raising her hand to her forehead and imitating the military greeting.
A silent, sorrow-stricken "Oh, dear!" could be heard from Sherlock and John's landlady.