Author's note: So here's chapter three, sorry it took as long as I said it would. Going at it from Sherlock's POV this chapter. Reviews are always welcome and loved, good or bad, so enjoy!
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The world's only consulting detective strode into St. Bart's hospital, past the sick and incompetent and down to the morgue. In her office Molly was sitting on the wrong side of the desk, her back towards the door. Neither she nor her companion turned their backs when he approached. They appeared to be browsing some sort of online fancy dress website on her laptop.
"What do you think? I'm not sure I can pull off a strapless…"
Molly waved her hand, "Oh sure you can, you've got no arm flab."
"I wasn't worried about tha…" The woman spotted Sherlock and stopped talking as Molly turned around as well.
"Hello Sherlock!" She greeted brightly, "This is Agatha Stafford. She and I went to university together. Agatha, this is Sherlock Holmes."
A quick scan told him everything he needed to know about her. She'd had an easy childhood and an even easier career at University, both of which bought by the beauty that some would say she possessed. She didn't appear to be cocky about her looks though, despite her similarities to the Duchess of Cambridge. She was loyal if the tattoo at the base of her neck was anything to judge by-small writing and an emblem of some sort…outgoing, yet considerate. It was something that she normally hid with her hair. Molly seemed to remember something and looked at the floor. She would have undoubtedly told Marie about him because judging by their matching necklaces they had been close friends for at least eight years. She wouldn't have told her about the Christmas party though; no-Molly had enough pride to bar that desperate an action. He'd be nice but brief.
"Agatha, it is a pleasure. Molly-do you have any ear cartilage in the back somewhere?"
"Yes, hang on and I'll fetch it."
"I can come with…" he started to say, but her face stopped him. "It won't take me long."
Molly sped out of the room and Sherlock stood awkwardly by the doorway. He started to look around the office.
"So you're the famous Sherlock Holmes. What are you looking for now?"
He furrowed his brow, "I told her-ear cartilage." His tone was the demeaning tone he always used to keep people from pursuing a conversation, but Agatha smiled back with equal condescension. "No, I didn't mean what are you looking for in this building-I meant what were you looking for in this office? Molly told me about you, how you scan people and rooms as easily as electronic checkouts scan barcodes at a Tesco's."
He resisted a smile. So that's what it looked like to the outside world when he observed. Did Molly say that or was that Agatha's wording? It didn't really matter. He didn't quite know how to answer her question. "Nothing, really. Just a habit."
"What have you observed so far?" She asked, her right eyebrow peaking up. He looked into her eyes, "You and Molly are in the middle of a lunch, only an hour, but that's alright since you work close by. You've gotten together to discuss attire for an upcoming event that you're an integral part of-I would say a wedding, but you have no engagement ring; perhaps you're getting it sized. Molly's had a heavy work week, which is part of the reason she invited you here for lunch. Your necklace doesn't really match the formality of your suit but it is the only jewelry you're wearing so it's obviously for sentimental reasons. It seems too much trouble to go to for only an hour, so you're likely to meet Molly again tonight to discuss this further. One of the fluorescent light bulbs is about to go out and Molly has changed the frames of her diplomas-have you just recently moved into the area?"
"Very good, Mr. Holmes- even better than I expected. I have actually moved down from Edinburgh. And I am getting married. I'd ask you what profession I'm in, but you already know, don't you?"
"No, actually… I'm torn between a teacher and something in advertising."
"Both. I teach advertising at City University."
"You're quite young." The statement was lackluster and meant to fill the time until Molly got back. Where was she?
She uncrossed her knees and looked at him head on, "So's Molly."
It was pointed and discerning, coming from the depths of her loyal soul as a friend. She was apparently very proud of her accomplishments and of Molly's. He heard light footsteps in the hall and smiled at Agatha as Molly strode in. She cast long glances over both him and Marie, as if making sure that neither party had been damaged. So she had told her about the Christmas party after all. Interesting-they were obviously much closer than the fair-weather friendship he had predicted. He didn't know she had been so disturbed by it.
"Here you go," she said, handing him a palm-sized plastic container. Something was different about her. He gave her another look-over: periwinkle cardigan atop white camisole, khakis and trainers. She wasn't wearing her lab coat due to the lunch hour, but it was more a change of demeanor than wardrobe. Her movements were calm and her shoulders weren't tensed like they usually were. And she wasn't stuttering. He took the ear cartilage and slipped it into his coat pocket.
"Thank you. I'll let you return to your lunch."
Agatha held up her hand, "Feel free to stay if you like. I don't mind."
He paused, unsure of how to react to such an invitation. He didn't want to encourage Molly, yet he was intrigued by this friend and the effect she appeared to have on her. Had Molly ever mentioned her? If she had he must have deleted it. He was only working on a seven right now… No. John was meeting Mary for a late lunch and now would be an excellent opportunity to look over her apartment.
"I would, but I'm afraid I have a previous engagement. Perhaps some other time?"
The sentence hung on heavy air and Molly did a double take when she realized he was asking sincerely. "R-right." There was the stutter. Agatha took over, "Yes, we're having dinner Thursday. You and your boyfriend, John-isn't it? You're welcome to join us."
He grimaced-a crafty woman; obviously testing him.
"I'll ask him."
She nodded approvingly as if she'd won some secret argument. Molly's eyebrows fell. Ah, so that's what it was-Agatha had told Molly that he was gay after hearing about the Christmas incident, most likely to boost Molly's confidence. Molly had either denied it or hoped it wasn't true. Smart pathologist either way, but then he'd known that from the day he first met her. He leaned over and kissed Molly on the cheek, "See you then." She looked as baffled as he'd anticipated she would and he reveled in the marvelous duality of it. To Molly it would seem a rather forward, unusually affectionate gesture that would reaffirm her belief that he was at the very least bisexual. She'd mull it over for days in her head, but to Agatha, unused to his normal treatment of Molly, it would seem like a simple goodbye between a woman and her gay friend. It'd be a shock for her when John arrived with Mary. He was looking forward to the moment.