Nobody seemed to notice the drunk man in the expensive- looking greatcoat as he stumbled down the street; and if they did, they didn't care. It was a cold day, after all, with a heavy mist hanging over the city, and everyone was hurrying to get from the dreary streets to the warm interior.
The man in the coat kept his head down, glad that he had gone unnoticed, that no one had stopped to ask why he was clutching his side, or why there was blood trickling down from his temple where the mop of dark curls didn't quite cover the wound. In truth, Sherlock Holmes was extremely far from drunk, but he was happy to keep up the pretence as long as it meant he was safe from prying eyes.
Stupid, stupid- incredibly stupid, coming here alone. Fair enough, Mycroft's men were annoying and spectacularly dull, but he really could have used the extra muscle this time around.
Sherlock's steps faltered and he only just managed to steady himself against the wall of the grey building. He hated being away from home. London wasn't only a wonderful city in itself, with its the bustle of life, leaving very few possibilities of boredom creeping up on him, but he knew all of its streets, places, buildings and landmarks like the back of his hand. It made him feel safe, and he now missed that welcome sense of familiarity.
Nevertheless, he knew where he was going. What he wasn't quite sure about was if he would make it there; he could feel blood still seeping from his shoulder, and his head was pounding from the blow it had received. Sherlock estimated he had about fifteen minutes of consciousness left, if the blur in the corners of his vision was anything to go by. He cringed as he reminded himself of his destination. But then again, he could hardly go to a hospital; they didn't treat the dead.
He rounded the corner and knew he reached the right block of flats. He lowered his head pretending to bury his face in his scarf against the cold as a man with a dog left the building, but the other took no notice of him as he supported himself on the wall to remain upright.
Sherlock quickly pushed his foot between door and frame, and with a quick glance at the dog owner, who was engrossed in a lively conversation with his furry companion, he slipped inside the building.
Normally, Sherlock would have leapt up the flight of stairs, long legs taking three steps at a time; today, he was more than happy to take the lift.
The doors closed. Sherlock let his head fall back, resting against the cool metal of the lift's wall, eyes fluttering closed. It felt like his temples where trying to ex- and implode at the same time, and he felt an excruciating pressure behind his eyes. His left hand rose up and he pinched the bridge of his nose, but it really didn't help.
The loud 'ping' of the lift made his eyes fly open. Sherlock stepped out of the lift, blinking heavily. It was getting harder and harder to stay on his feet.
Down the corridor, turn right, second door to the left. 503.
He almost fell twice on his way. His lungs were burning now, the ragged, shallow breaths he managed to take not nearly enough to supply his body with appropriate amounts of air; bright, grey spots clouded his vision, brain oxygen- deprived, blunt- force trauma not improving the situation. Approximately seven minutes of consciousness remaining.
Sherlock reached the door.
It was tricky to unlock the door. Breaking in was normally one of his specialties, but his hands were shaking and his long fingers were fumbling with the lock pick. It took him almost five minutes until the lock gave way with a soft click.
He struggled to his feet and entered the flat, the door falling shut behind him.
The interior of the small flat was messy. Some magazines and books lay scattered around the coffee table, along with several used mugs; some boxes were stacked in the corner of the room, not yet unpacked. The tennant had moved in a while ago, about four months, to be exact (thickness of the dust on the book shelf, only wiped around the books, too lazy to take the volumes out and wipe the shelf properly, dust was eloquent-) but had no real intention of staying in the city, hoping to return to-
His legs finally gave out. He only just managed to brace himself so he didn't fall on his right side.
He turned on his back, trying and failing to blink away pain and exhaustion. He wasn't sure what was going to happen when he would eventually be found; but then at least Mycroft would know where he was.
Sherlock scoffed to himself, wondering when the hell he had come to depend on and trust his brother. It was essentially his fault he was in this mess in the first place, after all.
He had no more time to ponder the matter. Time was up. Unconsciousness beckoned, and for once, Sherlock gave in willingly.
Sally Donovan was, quite frankly, in a horrible mood. But it was hardly surprising, she thought, as she pulled her coat tighter against the constant, icy drizzle that the sky was blessing her with. She glared at the black vastness above her, but it seemed the clouds cared very little. The drizzle turned into rain.
Sighing heavily, Sally walked faster. Nottingham was worse than London, she thought. At least back home, she could have gotten a cab.
It was late, again. Paperwork. She hated it. The boss had kept her; he was coming on to her, no matter how many times she subtly refused him. Worst of all were the constant jibes of one female colleague, who happened to have the hots for the Inspector and seemed to deem Sally a threat.
In these moments, Sally pined for working with Lestrade again. They'd actually been something akin to friends before-
She forced her mind away from the subject. The Incident, as she thought of it now, was the reason she had requested a relocation; the reason she had moved to Nottingham.
Sally hadn't been able to look Lestrade in the eye anymore. She'd been praised by the Superintendant for uncovering the horrendous crimes of one consulting detective, but none of that had mattered to her. Not after what she'd found. And now... now it was too late, too late to turn back. She'd covered her own arse, by keeping quiet, but it didn't change what she'd done. She couldn't make it right, not anymore. A man was dead- a man she'd despised with every fibre of her being, whom she'd hated to passionately- and it was her fault. So much for not thinking about it, Sally scolded herself.
Finally, completely soaked and shivering, she reached 'home'. She collected her mail from the long row of letter boxes and then hurried up the stairs, eager to get rid of her wet clothes and take a steaming, hot shower.
As she reached her flat, she was surprised to find her door unlocked. Had she forgotten this morning? She was usually so careful. With a frown, Sally entered and then locked the door behind her.
Taking off her coat and shoes, Sally yawned, then made her way to the bathroom, through the living room. And then she stopped abruptly, eyes suddenly open wide, breath hitching in her throat.
Here, on the floor of her living room, lay Sherlock Holmes. There was a dead man in her flat.