This character study takes place after events depicted in the second-series Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall."
Passing Thus Alone
It caught up with her just as late night became early morning.
When Anderson wasn't nearby to give a knowing look and encouraging nod. When the nameless others who had emerged from the Yard's woodwork weren't at her elbow, ready to speed her concerns to receptive ears. When her superiors weren't before her to praise her for her vigilance.
She blinked up at a ceiling she couldn't make out through the darkness.
It was no mystery, where the cornerstones were set: weeks, months, no years of frustration due to Sherlock Holmes. He'd celebrated the violent deaths of the victims. He'd mocked their family and friends. He'd insulted her team in general and her in particular, deducing intimate details, announcing private secrets, laughing at all-too-human foibles.
And he'd belittled her boss.
Perhaps that had been the most difficult to stomach: seeing Sherlock abuse Lestrade and then force the man to crawl back for more. Then she'd watched her mentor accept reprimands and lectures rather than the commendations and promotions he deserved as he shouldered responsibility for the misbehaviour of his consulting detective. Over time she'd convinced herself that Lestrade would lose his career, if not his life, if he continued to work with the Freak.
Her resentment had simmered and bubbled over a steady heat, ready at any moment to burn.
She realized now why all of this had been so easy, so quick, a whirlwind effortless to begin and, once in motion, impossible to resist.
With her anger, she'd made herself ripe for the picking.
In her mind, she'd cast herself as the responsible professional, the conscientious officer watching her superior's back, the clever detective connecting the dots and thwarting the sneering villain. In reality, she'd been an all-too-eager pawn in some madman's game of chess.
Helpless, when things spiralled out of control.
Before it was all over, she'd set aside proper procedures in favour of vengeful emotions. Before it was all over, she'd voiced her accusations before gathering actionable proof. Before it was all over, she'd gone over the head of the man she most respected and become the one who put his career, his very life's work, in jeopardy.
To the Met, her actions hadn't represented a defence of Lestrade's interests, but rather a vote of no confidence in his judgment.
Of course. It seemed clear to her now that the blood-red fog had passed from her vision.
What had she been thinking? She hadn't been thinking at all.
Lestrade faced suspension, investigation, perhaps even prosecution because of the reckless steps she'd taken. The man she once believed she'd follow into the very flames of Hell she now couldn't look in the eye.
All for someone else's agenda. All for some game. All to push Sherlock off a ledge and onto the pavement.
She twisted the duvet in her fist.
None of this made the Freak any less freakish, or his feats of deduction any less suspicious, or Sally Donovan any sorrier that he was gone.
But it did make her something she'd never before been: a rubbish detective sergeant.
And that was a fall of its own, wasn't it?
God help her.
Vital Stats: Originally written in January 2012.