In honour of Sherlock and John's 221B Baker Street, this is a "221b" ficlet (221 words long, with the last word ending in "b").

Out of Darkness, Out of Doubt

Even to Sherlock's dispassionate gaze, the crime scene had been... unexpected.

An ungodly nightmare, a grey-faced Lestrade had called it. John had closed his eyes and swallowed hard before kneeling on gore-slicked tiles beside the dismembered victims.

It was no surprise, then, that Lestrade ended up at 221B, that the three men pondered evidence and devoured related files until late night bled into early morning.

When John finally piled a duvet and pillow on the sofa, telling Lestrade to salvage whatever rest he could, the detective inspector offered no protest.

John yawned his good-nights and stumbled up the steps to his bed.

Wide awake, thrumming with thought, Sherlock turned to his improvised laboratory at the kitchen table.

A short while later, shouts sounded from upstairs.


A litany of names. The soldiers who bore them would never heed that desperate summons.

After a final ragged, inarticulate cry came silence.

Asleep on the sofa, Lestrade folded his arms to his chest, tucked tight fists beneath his chin, and frowned.

Softly, he moaned a plaintive call for the one he had loved and wed, buried and mourned. Then, unanswered, he growled out a troubled sigh.

Sherlock remained motionless. Listening. Watching. Bearing witness.

After a time, when all again was still, he nodded to himself and returned to his flasks and beakers.


Vital stats: Originally written in August 2011.

The title alludes to the song "Witness" by Sarah McLachlan.