Molly found the door to 221 unlocked, which was daft of them, but then again, it was still daylight. She pushed it open and walked to the foot of the stairs, and was just about to start climbing when she became aware of an odd noise.
It was a steady, rhythmic sound, comprised of a sort of creaky wooden noise and a bit of a soft thump. Odd; something in her mind told her that she ought to know what that sound was, what it meant, but she was so distracted she couldn't-
"Oh god, John! John!"
The shout came from upstairs, muffled through the door to flat B, but still clear enough. Still perfectly recognisable as Sherlock's voice, and Molly suddenly realised what was going on up there.
Sherlock, whom she'd only lately gotten over, was having sex with John, whom she'd been hoping to ask out.
She froze, one foot on the bottom step, staring up at the first landing as the thumping sounds slowed and stopped. Her bag slipped from her nerveless fingers and hit the floor with a subdued crash.
A moment later, the door to flat A opened, and Mrs Hudson peered out.
"Oh it's you, Molly dear. I wondered what that noise I heard out here was. Have you come for a visit? I'm afraid they, um...well, they might be a bit busy at the moment."
Molly felt her face start to scrunch up, tears tickling the back of her nose.
"Oh poppet!" Mrs Hudson cried, and before Molly knew what was happening, Mrs Hudson had gathered her up, picked up her bag, and ushered her into her flat. She pushed Molly gently towards the sofa and placed a little flowery box of tissues in her hands, then hurried off into the kitchen.
Molly sat there and wiped her eyes and felt stupid. God, how long had they even been sleeping together, anyway? Had they been together when she'd had sex with John? That was an awful thought. She didn't like the idea of somebody cheating on their partner with her.
Mrs Hudson bustled back out with two mugs of tea, handed one to Molly and sat down in her armchair. "I know you've liked Sherlock for ever such a long time, dear," she said. "But it's only just this afternoon they finally got themselves sorted out, so I think we ought to leave them alone for a bit, eh? Not easy on you, I know, but you're a good girl."
"Only this afternoon?" she asked weakly, and Mrs Hudson nodded. That was something, at least. But-
"It wasn't Sherlock. I'd just about gotten over him. It was John!" And at that she burst out crying. God, it was mortifying! Mrs Hudson seemed inclined to take it in stride though; she came and sat down on the sofa next to her, and pulled Molly over to lean against her side, all the time murmuring little reassurances. It all came spilling out then; Molly told her about John and the kidnapper and the garden (not in detail) and the arguments with Sherlock and her attempts to ask John out, and Mrs Hudson just listened to it all, nodding and sympathising.
"Well, flower," she said gently when Molly had finished spilling her guts, "I think you are the sort of girl who gets very strong crushes. There isn't anything wrong with that, but sometimes the person you've got the crush on and the person who's there in real life are two quite different people, aren't they."
Molly nodded miserably.
"If you look around, I'm sure you'll see there are people you don't need to have crushes on to like, people you can just go out with and be yourself around."
"I don't think so," Molly replied. "Nobody's that interested in me."
"A pretty, clever thing like you? Don't be silly!" Mrs Hudson said, and picked up Molly's mug from the coffee table to put it back in her hands. Molly took a sip and sighed. She was starting to feel a bit better, actually.
"I had my fair share of crushes when I was your age, and let me tell you, dear; they're nothing but trouble!"
"Oh goodness yes. There was this one lad called Billy, he was a real heart breaker. Handsome and bright and so charming..."
"What happened to him?" Molly asked.
"Well dear, I married him. And it turned out he was a complete C-word. Would you like a drop more tea?"
Molly spluttered a bit, and Mrs Hudson took the mug from her and went back into the kitchen again. "You want to get yourself a nice friendly sort of chap," she called through the doorway. "One who's interested in the same kind of things as you. These fellows who are all about danger end up drawing each other. You need some clever, level-headed sort, like yourself."
"Maybe," Molly replied. "I think I might give up on romance for a bit, actually. Give myself a break from it." That wasn't a bad idea, actually. Sounded nice.
"Well, that's the spirit dear," Mrs Hudson called. "Nobody says you need a man to be happy. You get yourself down to Ann Summers'. Didn't have those in my day or I might have made a few better decisions!"
That startled a laugh out of Molly, and Mrs Hudson smiled sweetly at her as she passed her the refilled mug.
Upstairs, the creaking, thumping noises started again. Molly just ignored them and drank her tea.
So here we are, that's the end of the story. I hope that you've enjoyed it.
I've said before that some of my stories start from one particular line or image. The Adventure of the Consulting Woman, for example, began with the scene in which Sherlock flashes John to prove that he got waxed. Well, this story originated with Mrs Hudson using the phrase 'complete C-word' to describe her ex-husband. Somehow all the rest of it came from that.
And for those who don't know, Ann Summers' is a UK chain of sex shops aimed at women, best known for selling sexy clothing and a large range of vibrators and other sex toys.
This story didn't turn out quite how it expected to. I think the changing points of view gave me more trouble than I realised they would, and all the soul searching going on made it hard to inject as much humour as I usually go for, so it was a bit of an adventure. Hopefully I've got a bit more of a handle on my next story, though I'm going to take a break from Sherlock to work on my original fiction for a while, before I post that.
So until then, take care :)