A/N: Spoilers for the beginning of 4x01. A gross idea that I had a great deal of fun writing.

Stage Fright

by Flaignhan

"There's no point in me doing this if you're not ready yet," she says, one hand resting on her hip while she surveys him, her eyes lingering on his, trying to ascertain if he's anywhere in the region of 'clean' yet.

Sherlock rubs his face and looks down at the floor, away from her gaze. She wants the test to tell her what she wants to hear, but he's not sure he can give her that.

"Maybe leave it till the morning?" he suggests, his voice quiet, as though the softness of his words will prevent them from hitting her full force.

Her jaw clenches, and emotion clouds her eyes. Sadness? Disappointment? Both?

"When did you last take something?" she asks. "Because the morning is twelve hours away and it only stays in your system for - "

"It's not what you think," he says, and he approaches her, his feet out of sync with the rest of his body, causing him to stumble as he reaches her.

She catches him, steadies him, and keeps her hands on his shoulders, her eyes searching his face for answers.

His throat clogs as he tries to give them to her, his voice coming out in a strained croak.

"It's Methadone," he says, and her expression softens at this.

"When did you take it?" she asks, her grip on him softening, just a little.

"Three days ago," he tells her. He chews on the inside of his lower lip, and he needs to hear her tell him it's okay. He needs to hear her approval of his decision.

"It always hurts the worst after an overdose," he mumbles, looking over her head towards the floral curtains. He wants to glance down, to see her reaction, but he can't bring himself to do it.

He's not lying to her, it always does hurt worse after a near miss, but he also knows he's only telling her that to try and get her to understand, to try and make sure she doesn't stay mad at him.

"You're cutting it fine," she says, and her words do nothing to abate his anxiety.

Trust Mycroft and his cronies to demand a drugs test before giving him a pardon.

He can't even ask Molly to fake it. She'd throw a corpse out of a window but fixing a drugs test? No chance.

He has to admire her, even if he doesn't quite understand her, sometimes.

"We'll do it in the morning," she says, and she gives his arm a gentle rub of reassurance. "Come on." She takes him by the hand and leads him into the kitchen, where she makes him drink two glasses of water to ensure he's properly hydrated.

"I'll make you some dinner," she says. "And you're going to eat it."

He knows when not to argue with her. She's holding his pardon in the palm of her hand, and when she brings him in a big bowl of spaghetti bolognese, he makes his way steadily through it while they watch the TV, though he thinks she's about as interested in the dirge being spouted by the very orange presenter as he is.

He decides to have an early night before she tells him he ought to, and makes sure to go and have another glass of water, because, if he's honest, he has felt a slight improvement these past few hours.

It's much later when she joins him, and the pair of them lay awake for a long time, the noise of the upstairs neighbour's TV muffled by the ceiling, but nonetheless irritating.

"D'you think it'll be all right?" he asks. He turns his head on the pillow and looks across to Molly, her profile just visible in the darkness.

"Yeah," she says after a moment, and then she turns towards him, shuffling a little closer, one arm coming to rest on his chest. "It will be. I promise."

She knocks on the door as he's getting out the shower, and he quickly wraps the towel around his hips, fumbling with the corner as he tries to secure it.

The door opens a crack. "Are you decent?" she asks.

"Yeah," he says, tucking the corner of the towel down further, just to make sure. "Just about."

She opens the door, her eyes widening a fraction at the sight of him, skin damp, hair wet, water dripping down his neck, towel just about clinging to his hips. He must look a state.

"I erm," she says, frowning at the floor tiles. "I need you to..." She holds up the sample pot in her right hand.

"Oh," he says, and he reaches forward for it, his fingers brushing against hers as he takes it. "All right."

He sets it down on the side, to deal with in a moment, but Molly doesn't leave. She clasps her hands in front of her, lips pursed as she examines every portion of her bathroom, other than the place where he stands.

"I'll do it in a minute," he tells her. "You don't need to wait."

"I do though," Molly replies with an awkward smile. "It needs to be done properly."

"Yeah, and I will," he says, but Molly sighs and shakes her head. She looks as though she'd rather be anywhere else in the world right now.

"It needs to be official," she says, the tendon in her neck becoming more pronounced with her embarassment. "I need to be certain that it's the genuine article." She skews her lips to one side, then adds, "You know. Needs to comes from the correct source. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were." She frowns, coming back to herself. "That was a disgusting analogy, I'm sorry."

"Yes," Sherlock agrees as he tries to delete it from memory. "Quite unnecessary."

"They do it for athletes and criminals all the time," she says, offering a brief smile. She is apparently labouring under the delusion that this will make him feel moderately better about the whole situation.

"And which of those categories do I fall into?" he asks, looking down at the pot, held between his index finger and thumb.

"Don't know," Molly says. "Have they made shooting someone in the head an Olympic sport yet?"

He snorts at this, because what else can he do? He's about to urinate into a small pot, in front of his friend, while trying not to spill it on her bathroom floor, before she tests it for drugs and he goes off to try and get a pardon for murder. His life has never been more ridiculous, despite some very decent competition.

"Can we get it over and done with?" she asks, resigned to her fate. "Because I need to take it to the lab and get it tested before you go in."

He has brought this upon her, he knows that. But he still can't bring himself to do this in front of her, instead of some random nurse who he'll likely never see again. He supposes his drug usage gets his privacy rights revoked, and if he wants his pardon to come easily, then he'll need to make some compromises.

He never imagined one of those compromises would involve Molly being obliged to watch him urinate.

"Sherlock," she says, and he looks up at her, realising he must have become lost in his thoughts. He doesn't know how long she's been standing there, only that she doesn't want to be there any longer than necessary.

"Yeah, sorry," he says. He doesn't know what to do. He knows she wants to get it over and done with, and he does too, but he can't just whip it out and go for it. It wouldn't be right.

"There's coffee in the kitchen," she says. "It's getting cold."

He laughs, because he can't help himself, and because this is what it's come to. A smile wrestles its way onto Molly's lips as well, and she leans against the door jamb, arms folded as she waits for him to pull himself together.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I just...I really don't think I can go with you watching."

"Sherlock," she groans. "I have absolutely no desire to see you piss into a jar. But here we both are, because of you."

"All right, all right," he says, and were this a far less humiliating matter for the both of them, he is certain that there would be a triumphant expression on her face at his submission.

"Look," she says. "I know it's weird, so why don't you just get started, and I'll have a quick glance to make sure it's all...you know, yours, and then we don't ever need to talk about this ever again?"

"Sounds doable," Sherlock says, but he's not convinced. The fact that she's even in the same room is making his stomach swirl with anxiety.

"I'm dying on the inside you know," she says, as he dawdles, picking up the pot and putting it down again so he can adjust his towel.

"Sorry," he says, and he runs a hand through his hair to get rid of the excess water. "Why is this a problem for you?" he adds, turning towards her, seizing the distraction with both hands. "You're a doctor."

"Yes but I'm not your doctor," she argues.

"You're my pathologist," he says childishly, but she's quick on the return.

"Yes," she says, "But right now, you have a problem with drugs, not a problem with being alive."

A low chuckle builds in his throat and he looks down at his feet, curling his toes against the tiles as he tries to build up the courage to bite the bullet. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot conjure up the bravado to just get on with it and act as though it's the easiest thing in the world.

He picks up the pot again, and unscrews the lid, as though taking this simple step will help ease him into the act itself. Molly is looking at the shower head, apparently waiting until she hears the sound of piss hitting pot before she looks. Her arms are folded, fingers tapping against her upper arm, trying to pass the time.

If he's going to do this, then he should do it properly.

He tugs the edge of his towel and it comes loose, dropping at his feet. Goosebumps raise on his skin and he suppresses a shiver, grinding his teeth together.

"Was that really necessary?" Molly asks, one eyebrow raised.

"I thought I needed to be transparent about the whole thing?" he retorts, but he can't look at her. He's not that confident. "Shut the door," he complains. "There's a draft."

Molly obliges and steps forward so that she can push the door shut behind her, then leans back against it, her messy bun squashed against the wood.

Even with the door shut, he still can't go.

"Just pretend I'm not here," she says.

He gives her a withering look, but that only makes it worse, because he's looking at her, while he's completely naked and trying to have a piss.

"Well you used to be pretty adept at it," she says with a shrug.

Sherlock closes his eyes. "Now is not the time for that argument."

"I don't want an argument," Molly groans. "I just want you to wee in a pot so that I can put it in my bag and take it on the tube to work with me, because apparently that's what your brother thinks I'm here for."

Sherlock presses his lips together to prevent any smart-arsed replies from aggravating her further. He tries to concentrate, tries to force it, but it won't come.

This must be what stage fright feels like.

"I've seen worse you know," her voice softer now, calmer. It sort of relaxes him, but at the same time, sort of doesn't.

"Yes, but you do post-mortems," he shoots back.

She lets out a small laugh at this, and he's pleased, because this is an awful situation and she's only here because he messed up and Mycroft trusts her to hold him to account. There's something in the way she presses her lips together, some sort of mischievous glint in her eye that makes him wonder if that was the joke she was making or not.

Either way, he doesn't have time to consider it, because his bladder finally gets tired of waiting. He whisks the pot into position and it fills quickly. It's something of a multi-tasking miracle that he manages to place the pot down on the side of the sink while maintaining his aim into the toilet, and even more impressive is the fact that he doesn't spill any of the pot's contents en route.

"Satisfied?" he asks, as he reaches across to flush the toilet.

"Not sure that's the word I'd use," Molly muses. She scrunches her nose, tilting her head to one side, but there's a grim smile on her lips. Sherlock ducks to snatch his towel off the floor. He secures it round himself once more, then carefully places the lid back on the pot, twisting it until he can go no further. The pot is warm in his hand, and he hates the feeling, so for good measure, he runs the tap, washes his hands, and gives the pot a good rinse before drying it and putting it back on the side.

He's not sure Molly will take it directly from him, and he wouldn't wish warm hands on her in this context. Not ever.

"Can you get out so I can have a shower?"

"Yeah," he says, and he heads for the door, but Molly holds up a hand, stopping him in his tracks.

"Take it with you," she says. "I'm not brushing my teeth while looking at that."

"Yeah, course, sorry," he says, and he grabs the pot, but she still doesn't move. Apparently, she has more to say.

"Make sure you drink your coffee," she tells him. "Make yourself something for breakfast - actually, you can me breakfast too while you're at it - "

"Yep," he says. "Of course." He'd agree to anything she asked right now.

"And don't you ever put me in the position where I have to supervise you taking a piss ever again."

"Yep," he says, glancing towards the door handle, then back at the pot in his hand.

It's still warm.

Molly steps aside and opens the door.

He's free to go.

He darts from the bathroom, safe in the knowledge that they need never bring this up, ever again.

He's full of coffee, with lots of sugar. He's also had peanut butter and banana on toast, which is a combination he'd have sneered at before Molly had given it to him as a curative on one of his more dire comedowns.

He's bouncing with energy, and he's wearing down the battery on his phone, hunting through the news for a decent case, checking his texts and emails, scrolling through social media on the off chance that he might see anything, anything interesting, just to tide him over until he has to go in.

He looks towards the glass, wondering if he looks presentable enough, if they'll believe he's better, regardless of how the test comes back.

He hasn't heard from her yet, and he's not sure if no news is good news.

His nervous anxiety is burning up his energy, and already he's starting to feel hungry again. He gets another cup of coffee from the machine, and grimaces as he takes a burning sip. It's far too bitter, not like the stuff that Molly brews in the morning.

The intelligence services must be lazy. Short days can be supported by bad coffee, but doctors working daily twelve hour stints cannot.

When he is eventually invited into the room, he doesn't think twice about grabbing the gingernuts - doesn't think that actually, he might look like even more of a lunatic than normal. He still doesn't know the result, despite frantically texting Molly for an answer. He could be throwing his pardon out of the window with his silly silly behaviour.

"Our doctor said you were clean," Lady Smallwood says accusingly, fixing him with a steely gaze.

Triumph surges through him, but he swallows it down in favour of a well practiced cockiness. "I am, utterly."

He's rarely known relief like it, and he knows it's in the bag now, now that they've got Molly's word on the matter, with the test results to back it up. Maybe he'll take her for dinner tonight, give her something nicer to think about than the sight of him pissing into a jar. She deserves a treat, and a thousand years of gratitude after all. She's saved his skin again.

He can barely contain himself as he munches on his biscuit.

He's so happy he could sing.

The End