Sherlock Holmes, to the surprise of no one but himself, was alone on Valentine's Day.

As glad as he was that Watson seemed to be taking an interest in women a full three years after the death of his wife, he was less than pleased that this would apparently result in less time spent with his friend. He had left at nine to go meet her, flowers in hand, appearing nervous and perhaps a bit sad; Holmes had not known how to tell him that Mary Watson would have wanted him to have companionship after her passing and so had merely patted his shoulder awkwardly, hoping that had been enough.

The doctor at least seemed optimistic; when questioned about the woman's character, he had smiled bashfully and responded that "there was no other woman he wished to spend the day with."

He had then taken a carriage to Whitehall, intent on perhaps enjoying some brandy and tobacco with his brother, mull over a case or two with him simply for their enjoyment in the puzzle. When he had arrived, Mycroft's secretary (on his way out, a box of chocolates poking out of his bag) informed him that he'd left for home early to prepare for an outing he was to take with one of the female doctors from the anthropology department.

"She wrote some wonderful articles on the works of Mr. Darwin," he said with a shrug at the brother's semi-outburst questioning how such a thing could happen. "They had lunch one day to discuss them and they discovered they both enjoy the opera…"

Holmes fumed out. Mycroft did not even enjoy opera. Or as far as knew, in any case.

He spotted Wiggins on his way back and was about to ask the lad to run for some more pipe tobacco (he had been planning on taking advantage of the royal stock Mycroft kept on hand for honoured diplomats such as himself), but then frowned when he saw what the Irregular was doing.

The boy was stealing flowers, plucking them from window boxes and front gardens. So far, he had quite the bouquet without spending a dime. And he was washed, that was something entirely revolutionary, and his hair was even brushed. The worst had come; he had gotten to the age where he began to take notice of things in skirts.

Or other things in pants, who was he to assign the boy's fancy?

The detective stormed into 221 Baker Street and bellowed for Mrs. Hudson to put on a pot of coffee. When no angry grumbling emerged, he looked about and found the note by the door. Apparently, their landlady had an evening planned and had been picked up ten minutes ago, leaving instructions for her lodgers to fend for themselves.

He stomped up the stairs like a child having a tantrum, feeling alone for the first time since he returned to London. Was this was love did? Separated a person from the rest of the world? Such a selfish concept, and such a selfish day!

Slamming open the door (quite a feat, really), Holmes stopped his rampage short and blinked. "Watson, dear fellow… Did your evening not go as planned?" He had wicked, delicious images of the hoarding female beating him uselessly with her pocketbook and Watson dumping her off at a corner.

"No," he responded from where he sat by the blazing fire, legs propped up on the footstool. He was quite calm and showed not a trace of feminine abuse. He also had tea; either he had prepared it himself or Mrs. Hudson had shown one more act of mercy before deserting them for romantic pursuits. "There are some biscuits as well, if you want some."

Well, two acts of mercy.

"Why are you back so early, then?" Holmes prodded further, coming to sit near him and pouring himself a cup of tea. He almost felt a pang of sympathy for the man, he had been so optimistic about the night.

"There was only one woman I wanted to spent the day with, Holmes," he sighed, a sad smile sitting upon his strong features. "I took those flowers to Mary's grave, talked with her a while… But it was cold out and I didn't… I don't know, didn't feel anything. I never do there."

The pang became a stabbing in his chest, too much to ignore. "Of course you don't feel her there, you feel her everywhere. Do you really think she's in some box in the ground? She's with you, dear fellow. Though I'm sure she appreciated the flowers."

Watson gave a tired chuckle but still he smiled. "You're right. You usually are. All the same, I… I don't think I'm quite ready for someone else. Not quite yet."

"Until you are ready, I relish your company any night, St. Valentine's feast day or otherwise." Sinking further into the cushions, he allowed himself a slight smile. This was how Valentine's Day was meant to be; decidedly womanless.