Note – So, this is my first Sherlock fic. Context-wise, the bulk is set pre-series, but the last segment is pre-TGG. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer – I don't own the eponymous song, except as a 99p download on iTunes. Anything recognisable is not mine either. But you already knew that.

In the rich darkness of the night, the phone buzzed on the table, twisting clockwise as if to see what was going on; the screen flashing aquamarine. Sally's eyes flickered open, and she rolled over, ignoring Owen's grunt of discomfort at the movement. She huffed a sigh, reached over, and grasped the phone. It pulsed against her palm for a moment before she flicked it open, and held it tentatively to her ear.

"Hello?" she tried to say, but her voice stuck in her throat and what came out sounded like the rasp of an old dying man. She coughed the sleep away and tried again: "Hello?"

"Donovan, I need you to get down to the Station immediately."

Sally blinked, and checked the caller ID. It was definitely Lestrade. Then she checked the clock on the corner of the small screen: it was two in the morning. She put the phone back to her ear. "Sir?"

"Did you hear me, Donovan? That's an order."

"But…I'm not even on duty!" Sally protested feebly.

On the other end of the line, Lestrade sighed, and the tinny sound was lost in the dark expanse of the room.

"Look, Sally…I really need your help."

He was using her first name. Bloody hell, this was serious. Beside her, Owen had switched on the bedside light and was gazing at her with sleepy curiosity. On Lestrade's end came a crash and a bout of muffled swearing – there was somebody else with him – before his voice came back: "Donovan?"

"Sir, are you alright?"

"Yes, Donovan, I'm fine, but I really need you to get down here right now."


"It's a matter of National Importance…at least it will be if his brother finds out…"

Lestrade trailed off. Sally frowned at the nonsensical speech. "Sir?"

"Please, Sally. I can't…I can't trust anyone else."

That was all it took, really, and before Sally knew it she had said, "Of course, Sir, I'll be there in ten minutes," and hung up. She threw back the covers and slipped out of bed.

"Are you alright, babe?" Owen grunted, his brows furrowed. Sally slipped her white nightdress off her head and fumbled around in the wardrobe for a pair of jeans.

"I've got to go to work."

"But it's the middle of the night!"

"I know. I'm really sorry. Lestrade needs me; dunno what for."

"Couldn't he get someone else to do it?" Owen asked, irritation streaking his words. Sally turned her head, and smiled at him.

"You jealous?"

Owen smirked. "No! I was just hoping that if we have time in the morning we…might be able to repeat what we did last night."

Sally shook her head and pulled a clean top on. "Cheeky bugger."

Owen crashed back down onto the pillow and closed his eyes. "Although, I probably won't be here when you get back. Got a rehearsal first thing tomorrow morning."

Sally frowned. "Do you?"

"Yeah; didn't I mention it?"

"No, no. You didn't."

Owen propped himself up on one elbow. "You jealous?" he said, mimicking her tones. Sally shook her head.

"Course not. I'll see you later, alright?"

The bedside light had already been switched off.

The night outside was cool and crisp, and Sally pulled her coat tightly around her as she walked down the deserted streets in the direction of Scotland Yard. The streetlamps cast a feeble, sickly glow over London, reflected in the thin sheen of water that still clung to the pavement from yesterday's rain. Only the odd car drove past her; only the odd pigeon glanced down inquisitively from gutters.

Presently, she turned onto the main street and saw the revolving sign of the station ahead of her. When she'd moved closer to the Centre from her mother's home in Brixton, Sally had been delighted to have found a flat within walking distance from work. Here she was, Sally Donovan, a sergeant now, upgraded from a Constable with impressive speed and hopefully on her way to Inspector just as quickly. She was slowly but surely saving the streets of London one by one with her dedication and attitude. She took the steps up to the main entrance two at a time.

There were a couple of officers buzzing around, even at such a late hour, looking exhausted and coffee-fuelled. Sally made her way up to the second floor, and into the room where she usually worked. The lights were off, the room as silent and dark as it was outside, so she turned them on and the office fizzled into light. There was her desk, still with two unwashed tea mugs for decoration and post-it-notes stuck all over her computer. There was nobody there. Sally frowned, and took two steps into the room.


It was at this point that she noticed that the lights were on in Lestrade's office, and she could hear muffled thumps from inside the room. Her heart quickening at the sound, she strode forward and cautiously tapped on the door with her fingers.

"Sir? It's me, Sally. Are you alright in there?"

The door was wrenched open suddenly, and Sally leapt back. The worn, haggard face of her boss gazed back at her.

"Oh, Donovan!" he said, as if he hadn't expected her to be there. He looked shattered: his clothes were rumpled and there were small beads of sweat clinging to his forehead. Sally wondered if he'd even been home at all. But whatever emergency case this was, she was going to help him out if it bloody killed her.

For a moment, Lestrade stared at her, like he didn't really register her arrival.

"You said you wanted me, Sir," Sally said after a moment. Lestrade blinked, hard, and ran a hand over his face.

"Yes, yes, of course…" he muttered.

There was a crash behind him and some more muffled swearing.

"Is there someone in there with you?" Sally ventured.

Lestrade barely seemed to hear her. "Come on in, Donovan."

He stood back to let her pass, and Sally took a few wary steps into the room. The door shut behind her. There was a man passed out in Lestrade's desk chair, with his arm folded over his face, obscuring all but a head of matted black curls from view. His limbs seemed endless, stretched out over the faded blue carpet. The skin of his hand was pale. The room had been trashed. Bits of paper were strewn across the floor, and the cabinet doors and file drawer had been carelessly thrown open as if searched.

"Sir, what's going on?" Sally asked, glancing at her boss.

"Donovan, this is Sherlock Holmes," said Lestrade quietly, as if he were trying not to wake up a small child. "He's taken…oh, something or other."

"Cocaine," came a deep, stifled reply from behind the arm, and Sally jumped at the voice of the apparently-not-unconscious man. "It was some very high quality cocaine; please, Lestrade, get your facts straight before you involve your minions in my personal business."

Lestrade shook his head. "Right, well. He's coming down off it now. I just need you to keep an eye on him for a bit while I sort out some stuff."

Sally raised her eyebrows. "You want me to babysit?"

"I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important," said Lestrade, rubbing at his eye with the palm of his hand. "He's harmless, but quite…eccentric. Can't be left on his own."

"What, is he a psychopath or something?" Sally laughed nervously.

"High-functioning sociopath, Donovan," said Holmes mockingly from behind his arm. Sally shook her head in disbelief, and slowly took a seat next to the door, as far away from the man as physically possible.

"I'll be back as soon as I can. Oh, and Donovan?"

Sally turned to glare at the Inspector. "Yeah?"

"If you could…not let anyone know about this, I'd be very grateful."

With that, the door swung shut behind Lestrade, and Sally heard his footsteps echoing away through the corridor and down the stairs until they faded away completely. There was silence in the room. Sally took the keys from her pocket and played with them absent-mindedly, the quiet jingle the only sound in what felt like the whole building. They stayed like that for half an hour.

Suddenly, Holmes sat bolt upright, and his arm slid off his face. He swivelled in the chair and fixed her with an intense gaze, his fingers steepling under his chin. Sally felt the breath leave her throat as she took in his face. She had to admit, he was bloody gorgeous, in a vampiric sort of way. She had never gone in for supernatural stuff, it was all bollocks anyway, but Holmes's high cheekbones and steely eyes were the sort of thing that would send teenagers rolling into the Thames with puppy-lust.

"Your boyfriend's cheating on you."

Sally blinked. "I'm sorry?"

"There's a trace of lipstick above your left ear. Not enough for a proper kiss, but second hand, and it's not your colour. Conclusion: someone has been kissing someone before kissing you – he's seeing someone else. No wedding ring and only one set of keys on the chain, so he's not a husband and you haven't been together too long, oh! I am on fire!"

Holmes leapt up out of the chair, his long black coat swishing behind him. There was a trace of wildness about his eyes, and Sally instinctively leant back towards the wall.

"What the fuck?" she snapped. "That's bullshit!"

"It's the science of deduction, Donovan," replied Holmes, rubbing his nose with his wrist. "The mind's a playground. But people are so very dull." He sank back down into the chair.

Sally's heart kept up a dull beat.

"What do you mean, he's cheating on me?" she said. "You haven't even met him."

"Don't need to. It's all there, in your face. I can focus so well with this stuff, why does Lestrade insist on spoiling my fun?" Holmes yelled at the door. He petulantly swiped a digital clock off the desk and it landed on the floor with a thud. Sally tried not to flinch.

"I don't need a jailer," he continued. "I'm fine. I'm better than fine. My mind is alert. I don't need anything else."

"Owen's not cheating on me," Sally mumbled.

"Oh, God, are we still on that? Yes, he is. I am greatly sorry for your loss," said Holmes sarcastically. "It's not important! The only thing that's important is the work."

Sally raised her head to look at him. "So what else can you do?"

Holmes fixed her with another intense look, and leant forward across the desk. "You live less than half a mile from here, alone. You spend a fair amount of time at your desk but just as much time outside, judging by the state of your shoes and fingernails, so it's a senior rank but you still call Lestrade 'Sir'. You're a Sergeant, then, obvious. There are small lines on your fingers; you've been playing a guitar recently but there aren't enough calluses for it to be yours; your boyfriend's in a band – take my advice, don't get mixed up in something so trivial. Your shoes and the ends of your jeans have small splashes of water on them, so you've been walking through wet streets; therefore you walked to get here. You live close, so you take your job very seriously, especially when you can be coerced into coming out late at night with no shift. Very promising for such a young officer. Twenty seven, I believe, give or take a year."

There was a pause.

"You've also had sex in the last twenty four hours."

"Piss off…" Sally whispered in awed disbelief. Holmes smirked.

"Usually when people say that, they mean it."

The door swung open, and Lestrade came in with two white pills in his palm. "Take."

Holmes fixed him with a wary stare. "What is it?"

"Valium. You're not harassing my staff, are you, Sherlock?"

Holmes grimaced as he swallowed the tablets dry. "If you let me look at your cases I wouldn't need to."

"Sherlock, I'm not letting a member of the public into police files," said Lestrade wearily. "So if this is your idea of guerrilla tactics, stop it. It's not working. You can go home now, Sally."

Sally had been gazing at Sherlock, but leapt up at her name as Lestrade escorted her to the door. As it swung shut, she heard a cry of, "Goodbye, Sergeant Sally Donovan!" and she smiled to herself a little as everything she'd ever witnessed in her career began to pale in comparison to what she'd just seen. When the door closed, Lestrade looked at her.

"I'm sorry about that," he said.

"It's fine, Sir. But who is he? How do you know him?"

Lestrade sighed. "About a month ago I picked him up for use and possession of cocaine. He started telling me all this stuff about my life – I mean, he's actually a genius. He wanted to get involved in our cases as an amateur detective, and I told him to bugger off and get clean. So now he's following me: same spiel every time. We're sort of friends, now. His brother's in the government; if he finds out about this I could lose my job." He rubbed his eyes again. "This happens at least once a week; I don't know what else to do with him."

"Sir, you should go home," said Sally, feeling bold. The inspector shook his head.

"I can't leave him alone, not in this state. You go. And just…be discreet about this. It's hardly strict regulation."

Sally nodded: "Of course."

When she got home she found a girl's number in Owen's pocket, smelt unfamiliar perfume on his shirt and wondered how she'd ever missed the signs.

And that was Sally Donovan's first encounter with Sherlock Holmes.

The summer rain bounced off the umbrella as she tugged it down and shook it out, and a crescendo of droplets leapt off onto the pavement. Sally gazed up at the flimsy grey clouds, running across the sky like they'd been stitched there; a literal silver lining. She fished the key from her pocket, and unlocked the door. Her flat always smelt warm, due to a dodgy boiler that the bloke upstairs was too stingy to get fixed, but it was comforting nonetheless. She peeled the raincoat from her arms and threw it over the armchair. A cup of tea and some toast were needed, she decided, so she opened the door to the kitchen.

It took a lot to stop her from crying out aloud to find Sherlock bloody Holmes in her kitchen. He was sitting on the counter, his long legs swinging like a child. Despite the fact that the weather was relatively muggy, he was still wearing the huge black coat and a blue scarf, and Sally wondered briefly if he ever wore anything else. She clutched at her chest with her hand and held onto the doorframe.

"Jesus Chri-…how the fuck did you get in?"

"Your window was painfully easy to break into," said Sherlock nonchalantly, as if he'd rather had a difficult window to pose a challenge.

"You broke into my flat?"

"A very pedestrian observation; and here I thought you were showing promise."

Sally felt her cheeks redden at the retort. Sherlock fixed her with another steely gaze. She sighed, and ruffled her hair, agitated.

"Do you…want a cup of tea?"

"Dark, no sugar."

"I'll take that as a yes, then," Sally muttered, and she switched the kettle on. She could feel his gaze on her as she moved around the small kitchen, pulling cups down from shelves and filling them with free-range teabags.

"So why exactly did you break into my flat?" she asked.

"I didn't know what time you'd be back," came the curt response.

"Oh, surely not," Sally teased. "I thought you knew everything, what with your massive intellect and all."

"I'm an observer, Donovan, not a mentalist act."

"Alright, keep your hair on," Sally laughed. She poured the tea and set a cup down next to him, and tried not to be offended when he didn't even look at it. "Anyway, I didn't mean why you broke in, I meant why did you want to get into my flat in the first place?"

The long, spidery legs twitched in constrained resentment. "I want your help."

Sally raised her eyebrows and took a sip of tea. "Really? What with?"

"I want you to help me access the case files."

Sally laughed. "Piss off!"

Sherlock just glared at her.

"Oh. You're not joking."

He raised his eyebrows in disdain. Sally didn't know what to say.


"Why not?" he demanded.

"Erm, because it's not allowed?" She sipped her tea, and Sherlock tossed his curls like an annoyed toddler.

"God, Donovan, open your mind. There's more to life than rules and keeping them!"

"Yeah, and there's more to life than meddling around in police business."

Sherlock closed his eyes and tilted his head back. "No there isn't."

Sally placed the cup on the counter, and shook her head vehemently. "I'm not doing it."

"This is entirely in your interests."

She raised one eyebrow. "Right. How, exactly?"

The piercing eyes shot open again and Sherlock bounced down off the counter, towering over the smaller policewoman.

"Give me access to the case files, and I will help you solve them. You advance in ranks, I keep out of "trouble" and Mycroft gets off my back. Everybody wins."

For a moment, Sally let the words sink in. But there was something sly and calculating about the emotionless voice that still troubled her, and she was reminded of the man who destroyed Lestrade's office two weeks ago.

"No. It's not right," she said, shaking her head. "You're an addict."

Sherlock sighed, and rolled up his sleeve to show her where two nicotine patches covered up the fading marks on his arms. "Two weeks sober."

Sally threw the rest of the tea in the sink and turned out of the kitchen, through to her living room. "I'm not doing it!"

"Why not? It's completely logical," he called after her.

"It's unethical." Sherlock went to speak again, but she cut him off. "No. Now can you leave my flat, please? Not the way you came; Mrs Daniel downstairs is going to have a heart attack otherwise."

The slender man sighed, and looked around her living room. Slowly, he approached the rack of CDs above her fireplace, and ran over the boxes of Britpop classics with a thin finger. "I'm glad you got rid of your boyfriend, by the way."

The sensible part of Sally's brain told her not to rise to the bait. It was ignored. "How could you possibly know that?"

"The guitar's gone."

"He never brought his guitar here."

"Don't lie to prove a point, Sally, there are scratch marks on the wall where it's been propped up."

Sally rolled her eyes to cover the hot blush spreading across her face. Sherlock looked around her flat, his birdlike eyes taking it all in. She could almost hear the whirring and clicking of his brain as it slotted all the information into place, like a Tetris puzzle.

"I see you like music," he said, casting his eyes over the old Blur poster on her wall, the special one signed by Damon Albarn. He spoke as if the words left a sour taste in his mouth, and Sally felt a flare of anger rise up in her for her offended idols.

"And you don't?" she spat out. He didn't look at her, and didn't reply. "If you're trying to impress me, it isn't working."

He suddenly wheeled around, his coat swishing out dramatically behind him. "No?"

"No. You think you're clever, and it's going to your head."

Sherlock laughed mirthlessly. "That's the problem, Sally."


"I could start revolutions using only a Smartphone and some Nicotine patches, and I could do it from a chair in one day. I know that. Where's the challenge, the excitement? Where's the game?"

Sally paused, puzzled. "You think police work is a game?"

The sociopath growled in frustration, his hands flicking up to press at his face. "No! What I'm saying is that I want to use my skills of deduction to do something good. I want to help people, Donovan. And Lestrade doesn't see that!"

Sally stopped for a moment, and let the words sink in. A few moments shuffled past, groaning and holding their aching limbs.

"So, if I let you into the case files, we'll be…sort of a team?"

"Exactly," Sherlock breathed.

"You'll help me solve cases and I'll keep you out of trouble."


Sally pondered this for a moment. "Alright. I'll let you in, on one condition."

The light in Sherlock's eyes had brightened sharply, and a satisfied smirk had risen to his face. At this, however, he frowned; it was unanticipated data.


She mimicked his smile. "Never insult the Gallagher brothers to my face."

He smiled, and shook her hand. "It's a deal."

Sally looked into his eyes, and felt the floor beneath her give way.

"Sherlock? Sherlock!"

Sally was pressing the doorbell manically, but she could hear the jumpy, epileptic violin streaming from the open window a few stories up and she doubted the detective could hear her – and if he could, didn't want to let her up. She'd resorted to banging on the front door of No. 19 Montague Street, and people were beginning to give her strange looks. Well, let them stare. She was on a mission, and if Sherlock-bloody-Holmes wouldn't open the door, she'd break it down herself.

Then it swung open, and a rough face looked back at her.

"Bloody hell, what's all the racket, love?" said Pete the Landlord, staring back at her with furrowed brows. "Oh. It's you."

"Can I come in?" Sally asked bluntly. "I need to see Sherlock."

Pete the Landlord noted the fire blazing in her eyes, and warily stepped back to let her inside. As she took the familiar stairs two at a time, he called after her: "And you can tell his Lordship that if he doesn't pay rent in the next month he's out on his arse! I mean it!"

Sally stormed up the flight of stairs, feeling her whole body tremble with anticipation and fury, treading along the familiar carpet and paisley walls. She'd been in this house several times in the past few months: spent many an evening trawling through the files only to have her colleague correctly deduce the culprit in less then a minute. They were the crack team of crime solving, her and Sherlock – they were Noel and Liam, Damon and Graham, the Morrissey and Marr of police work. In a way, it was a tribute to all those great partnerships that their cosy little agreement had gone so horribly awry.

"Sherlock!" she shouted, banging on the door to his flat with her fist. "I swear to everything that ever was and ever will be holy that if you don't come out right now-"

The door swung open, and Holmes looked blankly down at her. "Oh, Sally, it's you."

"No," she retorted sarcastically, "It's bloody Mozart!" She pushed past him into his flat, a dark and slightly dingy room that smelt of formaldehyde and leather. The door closed behind him, and Sherlock slumped into a chair and began to pluck at his violin. Then he looked up at her. Even now that look sent her momentarily reeling.

"You're angry at me."

"No shit, Sherlock!" Sally burst out. "What on Earth do you think you're playing at?"

"You're angry about the case."

"For Christ's sake, of course I'm angry about the case!"

Sherlock looked back down at his violin, his face betraying nothing save for a cold nonchalance. "I don't see what the problem is. I acted in a perfectly reasonably manner."

Sally folded her arms. "A perfectly reasonable manner? That woman nearly died, Sherlock. She nearly died, and you let her walk into that room unprotected."

"I was anticipating the killer's next move," said Sherlock casually. "I had plenty of time before he actually tried to attack her; I knew that."

"But you didn't, Sherlock," Sally sighed. "You didn't know that."

Sherlock didn't reply.

"Jesus. You don't even care, do you? You let her walk into that room alone, unguarded, with a serial killer, and you didn't even alert the police?"

"She isn't dead, is she?" said Sherlock coolly. Sally gaped, and he raised his eyebrows. "No. I don't understand what you're taking issue with."

There was a pause.

"This is people's lives, Sherlock," said Sally quietly. "You're unnecessarily putting people at risk, for what?"

"If I can't work out the killer's motives, there's nothing to stimulate, to figure out," her colleague replied, plucking absent-mindedly at the E string.

"My God, you actually mean that!" Sally cried. "You're willing to put innocent civilians at risk just to satisfy your ego; you sick, sick bastard!"

"I'm sorry, was that not good?" said Sherlock sarcastically. He stood up and flounced over to the open window, and rested a hand on the wall. "My work is everything; you know that, you knew that from the very beginning. So why…" He gazed intently at her.

Sally shook her head fiercely. "Oh no. Don't you start deducing me, Sherlock Holmes, don't you bloody dare!"

But a look of recognition was already spreading across the detective's face. "Of course, you're disappointed." He scoffed: "You're letting your emotions get in the way again."

"I'm sorry, is that too human for you?" Sally snapped.

Sherlock didn't rise to it. "You appear to think I'm some sort of hero. I'm not." He plucked at a harsh A. "And for that matter, neither is Jarvis Cocker."

Sally bit her lip, fuming, until the knife-edge of her rage subsided.

"You said you wanted to help people," she softly replied. "You said."

Sherlock raised an eyebrow. "And you believed me, more fool you. It's a pity you're too blinded by your own lust to see things the way they are."

Tears began to prickle behind Sally's eyes, hard and needling as hydrochloric acid. She blinked them onto her eyelashes and felt her jaw and fists clench.

"Someday," she said, her voice quavering, "Somebody is going to burn the heart right out of you."

If the words had any impact on Sherlock, he didn't show it.

"And I suppose that'll be you, Donovan? Take that look off your face. What did you honestly think I could give you?"

Sally stared at the wooden floor, and then up at the boarded windows.

"You freak," she murmured. "You conceited, arrogant, cruel little freak."

Sherlock picked up his bow and began to hack away at his violin on it, drowning out her words and signalling her cue to leave. Sally stormed out of the building and ran all the way home. There, she played Parklife on repeat at its highest volume, singing along until her throat was sore and the hum of her humiliation was lost in the beat.

There was a new case. An Australian holiday insurance dealer called Ron Adair had been murdered in his home. He'd been shot in the head, apparently silently, in a locked room, and nothing had been stolen. Lestrade left the case to her, but there was little thrill left once every horrific murder and homicide blurred into one. After two days with no lead, her boss suggested they called in Holmes. She refused point blank. After a third day, Lestrade didn't even try to consult her before picking up the phone.

It was always the same. Sherlock swept like a whirlwind onto the scene, and picked up a lead almost immediately, but not before insulting almost everybody on the squad for their incompetence. His new sidekick, Dr. Wilson or something, sat back with an all-too familiar expression of awe on his face. Sally almost felt sorry for the man, but then again, she had tried to warn him. This time was no different. After a while a black cab pulled up outside the taped-off semi-detached house in East London, and the living silhouette swooped out in a fragrant cloud of grandeur, followed by the doctor.

"Ah, Sally!" he cried, throwing his voice like an actor and smiling down condescendingly at her. She moved directly in front of his path, and the smirk shifted.

"I don't want you in here, freak," she spat. "This is my crime scene."

He raised his eyebrows. "Still haven't moved on, Donovan? Or is sharing Anderson with his wife getting a little too much for you?"

"Don't you dare even think you have a moral highground over me," Sally growled.

Sherlock looked her up and down. "Well, this has been fun. But, you know, crimes to solve. I'd hate to leave it in the hands of…amateurs."

And with that, he pushed past her, pausing only for a moment to beckon to his companion, who had only just finished paying the taxi driver. Then he vanished into the depths of the house. Sally felt her shoulders slump as she heaved a sigh, and then she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"What is the freak doing here?" a voice hissed in her ear, and she turned around to see her lover's pale face scowling down at her.

Oliver Anderson, it had recently transpired, was of no relation to Brett. He was married, thought too highly of himself, and preferred Take That to Elastica. He was cold, and treated her like a piece of meat. He was, in short, a man of imperfections. But Sally tolerated him because he despised Sherlock with every fiber of his being, and Sherlock despised him in return. And although she could never bring herself to call him Oliver, sometimes his pale pallor, dark hair and grey eyes reminded her of another man who seemed rendered in negative.

"Lestrade's given him clearance; there's nothing I can do," Sally sighed, and Anderson's hand slipped off her back.

"Well, he'd better not contaminate my crime scene," he sneered, and stormed off back towards the house in a huff. Sally bit back the all-too snarky retort that was building on her tongue. There was nothing she could do. And that was the problem, of course. Sherlock had been promoted, and she hadn't. He'd solved them so many cases that he'd wormed his way into Lestrade's favour, instead of his intolerance. She'd helped get him into the cases, and in return he'd held her head underwater.

Suddenly, a shout of "It's so obvious!" sounded from inside the house, and the man himself came bounding out, as if Christmas had come early instead of a rather grizzly death. He clapped his hands together, and beamed.

"John! John!" he shouted, and the doctor turned to him in bemusement. "It was his gambling partner; it's all in his fingers! We've got to go!"

Sally gathered herself with impressive speed. "Sherlock! Where are you going?" Some of the other officers had started to look at the commotion, and her embarrassed flush grew with every particle of control that she lost. "Get back here, now!"

Sherlock had reached his partner, his beam siren-bright. "The game is on, John!"

Dr. John frowned, and his gaze landed on the Sergeant. "But what about Sally?"

But Sherlock was already halfway down the street. "Sally can wait; come on!"

"No, Sherlock, don't you even think…come back!" Sally spluttered.

John shot her an apologetic smile, shrugged, and dashed off as quickly as he could after the detective. Sally's throat clenched, and she screamed out "Freak!" as loud as she could. It was already too late, and she knew it. It was his case now.

At the end of the street, Sherlock turned around, wraithlike, and cupped his pale hands around his mouth.

"Don't look back in anger, Sergeant Sally Donovan!" she heard him say. And then he was gone.

Sally sighed, and pressed her hands against her temple as a cool, Autumnal breeze swept past her ankles and up to play with her hair. She drew in a sharp breath, held herself upright and folded her arms, watching the spot where he'd been only a minute ago, and feeling her soul slide away a little more. Then she turned, and went back inside the house.