I lay on the sofa with my fingers steepled under my nose. I was going over the conversation that John and I had just had, before he left to get chips. He had asked if he and Rosie could take up in his old room. Their flat was too lonely, too painful for him to stay there anymore. I had said yes immediately. And to be honest, 221B was lonely and quiet, too. I'd be glad to have him back. Rosie too.
I was replaying the conversation for the third time, when I heard a step on the landing and then a soft knock on the open door. How did I not hear the front door? I knew the knock and the light step.
"Hello, Molly." I rumble, still not opening my eyes.
"Hi. If your busy, I can..." she starts quietly.
"Nonsense." I sit up quickly. "Please sit." I pat the sofa cushion next to me.
She sits and I remember my manners.
"Can I get you anything? Tea?"
She shakes her head. I know why she's here. It had been two weeks since Sherrinford and the phone call. I had been thinking about what I needed to say to her. How I could explain.
"Molly, I..." I begin but her lips were on mine before I could continue. She brought her hand up to my cheek. The kiss was closed mouthed and chaste but I did kiss her back. I put my hand on her shoulder as we pulled back. She smiled at me. I look down at my lap.
"Molly, I have to explain. Explain what was happening two weeks ago when I called you."
"Mycroft and I, we have a sister. Mycroft had been hiding this from me since I was a child. She had psychotic tendencies. She... she murdered my best friend because she was jealous of him and she burned our house down. She was 5."
"Oh, Sherlock. I'm so sorry." She says placing a hand on my shoulder.
"She kidnapped Mycroft, John and I. But the whole thing was mostly about me. She threatened your life. You were in no real danger, but she told me she had rigged your flat with explosives. She said she would kill you, let your flat explode unless you said the words "I love you"." I explain. She looks away from me then.
"So your going to tell me that you lied. To help me save my own life." She said bitterly.
"No, Molly. No. I do love you. I care for you deeply. I always have. I love you just the same as Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson. You are all my family." I put my hand on her hands that are clasped in her lap. "But Molly I'm sorry... I ... I'm not IN love with you."
Her face cracks and tears start streaming down her face. I put my arms around her.
"Oh, Molly. Please. Please don't cry. I'm no good for you anyway. I'm arrogant and inconsiderate. Rude and manipulative. I can't provide a stable relationship."
"But we never tried." She says into my shoulder, a little muffled.
"What do you mean?" I ask. She sits up again, wiping her face.
"We... we never tried. What if we tried a relationship... to see how it goes. Maybe you could... love me." She says a little hopeful.
"It's not really a good time... for me. I'm building a relationship with my sister. I'll be visiting her regularly. John and I are taking cases again."
"Maybe it is a good time. Since you're making lots of changes. Why not add one more? I'm not asking for anything serious. Just for us to spend time together. We could..."
"John's moving back in." I blurt. "Rosie too."
"Oh that's lovely!" She says. "It'll be just like old times." Though I wasn't entirely convinced that she meant it.
"Yes." I agree.
"Maybe we could go to coffee? Or get some chips in the park?" She tries again. She wasn't understanding and as sensitive as I was trying to be, this was getting tedious.
"Molly, I'm not attracted to you because I am attracted to men."
She stares at me wide eyed. "Oh."
"Yes, I'm sorry it didn't come up sooner but it was never relevant and.."
"And John's moving back in?" She cuts in.
"I see." She says, her hands fidgeting in her lap. I realize then what she's implying.
"No, it's not like that. John doesn't think about me in that way. John is attracted to women." I stammer a bit.
"Oh, Sherlock." She gives me a small smile and puts her hand on mine.
"Molly, I am sorry." I say.
"It's alright. I understand." She says as one last tear streams down her face.
The front door to the flat slams open and then shuts again and footsteps start ascending the seventeen steps to the flat. John's footsteps.
Molly rises wiping her face. I stand quickly with her.
"Sherlock! The chip stand was out of ketchup so I had to stop at the shop." John shouts up the stairs.
She stands on tiptoes to give me one last kiss on the cheek. "Goodbye." She says before heading out the door to the flat and down the stairs, leaving me blinking in a the living room. She passes John on the landing.
"Oh, hey, Molly. I brought chips if you want to stay." He says.
"Oh no, thanks John. I have to be off." She says. I hear her descend the rest of the steps and go out the front door. John watches her go and then climbs the rest of the steps to the flat.
He enters to find me still standing by the couch. He sets the bag from the chip shop on the coffee table.
"So Molly came by?" He asks.
"Did you...ahm... talk about Sherrinford then?"
"And? How did it go?"
"As good as expected." I said fiddling with the stitching on my dressing gown. "She cried."
John nods. "Hmm. Yes sometimes women do that. When they are happy."
"I... I don't believe she was happy, John."
"What? What did you say to her?"
"I told her the truth."
"The truth being?"
"That despite what I was forced to say to save her life, I'm not actually IN love with her."
"What?! Why would you do that?" John says, exasperated.
"Because it's the truth. I do care for her. But not in the way she wants me to." I say quietly.
"We just had this conversation a month ago! About Irene Adler. You have women throwing themselves at you and you refuse to..."
"John, I'm gay!" I practically shout at him. "I am not attracted to women." I sit down on the sofa, a bit too forcefully. "Why do I have to keep saying that today?"
John stares at me, opened mouthed for a moment before recovering.
"Oh. Right, then. Good." He says then nods. He sits next to me on the sofa and looks over at me, his mouth curling at the corner. He lets out "Huh." And then begins to get the food from the chip stand out of the bag.