"Yes, I said that." I told Gregson. He stared at me, baffled.
"But why?" He wanted to know.
"Because it's true." I snapped. Gregson still looked bewildered and slightly annoyed. "Because in all the years we've worked with him, all he's really gotten from us are grudging thanks and heated arguments. How many cases has he solved for us over the years? How many times has he gotten the credit for it that he deserves?"
I allowed myself to lean closer to the other Inspector. "He's put up with us for how many years, Gregson? He put up with insults and ridicule and who knows what else when he first started helping us, and has put away countless criminals, and if he's been a bit grating on occasion, well who down here isn't on occasion?
"How many times have we actually admitted to the man how valuable he actually is to the Yard? He's earned the respect of Constables and Inspectors alike down here, but we're too stubborn and proud to admit it to anyone but ourselves."
I fixed Gregson with a glare. "So yes, I told him that. Because it is the truth, Gregson, and because he deserves to hear it at least once." I picked up the discarded paper from my desk and found the statement in question.
"'I've seen you handle a good many cases, Mr. Holmes, but I don't know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. We're not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow, there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand.'"
I looked up from the paper to Gregson, who was no longer looking at me. I followed his gaze to see Doctor Watson and Sherlock Holmes himself stopped just inside the doorway.
Gregson actually reddened, and wordlessly reclaimed his paper and darted for the door. The two men did not hesitate to get out of his way and stepped to either side of the door. Gregson did not look at either as he passed them, but paused as he reached the hall.
He turned, debated, and finally held out a hand to Sherlock, who stood there uncertainly for a moment before accepting the proffered hand. Gregson shook the man's hand briskly, nodded to Doctor Watson, and continued on his way without a backward glance.
Sherlock stared after him, somewhat surprised by the turn of events, and I wondered how much of our conversation the man had overheard. A twinkle in the Doctor's eye suggested that they had heard more than I would have liked, but I had meant everything I had said and would stand by it.
Sherlock shook his head ever so slightly and turned his attention back to me and the reason for his visit.
Disclaimer: Sherlock and the boys do not belong to me.