This is comprised of two parts. Each part, in honour of Sherlock and John's 221B Baker Street, is a 221b ficlet (221 words long, the last word beginning with "b").

This takes place approximately three years prior to the events depicted in the Sherlock episode "A Study in Pink."


A Promising Start


PART 1: A 221b Ficlet


She sat in his office, waiting. Apparently the workday began when he felt like it.

Promising start, this.

A few minutes later he appeared in a weary whirlwind, rumpled and stubbled and laden with hard-copy files. She realised he must've been at the office for hours already that morning. Perhaps he'd never made it home.

"Sorry I'm late." He deposited his armload onto the desk and scrubbed fingers through his hair, bringing new chaos to old disorder. "Glad you're here."

"Thanks, Sir."

"Don't thank me yet." A rueful, sideways grin. "Give you the bad news first, shall I?"

No pause for a reply. "I'm proud of my team. We do good work. But on the toughest cases, when time's of the essence, I sometimes bring in a consulting detective. My methods aren't always—"

Appreciated? Wise? Legal?

"—popular. My call. My responsibility."

So that's why he's DI Lestrade, not DCI, at his age.

"I'm good at questioning suspects and witnesses, talking to victims' families. But I'm rubbish at press conferences."

With a face like that?

"Your record's impressive. I'll rely on your PR expertise."

Huh.

He stifled a yawn. "God, I need a cuppa."

Here it comes...

"Be right back." Already he was halfway to the door. "Fancy tea? Coffee?"

Sally Donovan smiled.

Promising start, after all.

"Coffee, please. Black."


PART 2: A 221b Ficlet


"There may be jokes, at first." Lestrade sipped his coffee, then grimaced.

"Jokes?"

"'Middle-aged, lonely DI needs a new sergeant, and lookit, she's a beautiful young thing. How convenient.'

"I don't foresee you getting any less attractive or me any less alone," he continued without apology or, apparently, self-pity. "I can ignore 'em if you can."

Frankness was a trait Sally valued. She repaid it in kind.

"There'll be other talk, too," she countered. "'Whose arse is he trying to kiss, requesting a woman, and a black one, at that? Playing some political angle. Only explanation.'"

"People can be right bastards."

This startled a laugh from her.

"Your answer to that," he said, "is doing your job, letting your record speak for itself."

"And yours?"

"I need someone at my right hand I can rely on." No hesitation. "I researched the candidates. Did the only thing I could, didn't I? I asked for the best."

He means it.

The higher-ups might've had issues with Lestrade and his decisions, but rumour had it that his team members, past and present, considered any slights against him to be instant fighting words.

She could learn a great deal from this man: what not to do, of course, but also what to do.

"I'm honoured to join your team, Sir."

Let 'em talk, the bastards.


THE END


Vital Stats: Originally written in November 2011.

Originally written for a prompt on the Sherlockbbc_fic LiveJournal community requesting a glimpse into the first interactions between Lestrade and Donovan.