Sally Donovan surveyed the crime sign with a sort of listlessness that only London weather and depressing events could produce. Unfortunately, the past week had been full of both.
The sky was a foreboding color of grey, and the wind whipped her long coat brutally against her legs. It was miserably cold, and Sally shivered against the vicious elements.
"Why are we here? The criminal is long gone, and the victim already gave his report. And the weather today is miserable," she groused to Anderson. Sally purposefully avoided mentioning anything to do with the funeral that had taken place that very morning.
For a man crazy enough to spend large amounts of time with Sherlock Holmes, John Watson's wake was surprisingly well attended. Yarders, patients, old college mates, coworkers past and present, and fellow servicemen crowded together to form a sea of black in the small church where the service was held.
Their whole team had permission to take the rest of the day off, but no one had actually gone home: they all preferred work over mourning.
Anderson opened his mouth to speak, probably something placating that Sally would have chafed at, but his reply was cut off by a supercilious snort.
"Really, Donovan! If you would shut your mouth and open your eyes, you would notice an incredible amount of data," said Sherlock Holmes, bustling onto the scene like it was any other day, like his best friend wasn't killed by a bullet and six feet under the frozen ground. The genius ignored the Yarders' surprised and scanned the barren scene with laser-like intensity.
Sally was immediately bristling with outrage at his nonchalance.
"What the hell are you doing here, freak?" she hissed, all listlessness gone. "Lestrade said you needed to stay away until you're back to normal."
Sherlock rolled his eyes and pushed past the two officers.
"Please, Donovan. It's already been three days. I am not a captive to my petty emotions. From which direction did the attacker come?" he asked, leaning closer to the dirty bricks of the alley, pocket magnifier in hand.
Sally ignored Sherlock's question in favor of unleashing her anger on the man. "That's assuming you even have emotions! Why weren't you at his funeral? Had something more important to do, did you?" She growled.
"I was in a delicate stage in my experiment on the corrugation of tongue tissue when faced with certain acids. There was no point in wasting a month of research to go to a funeral. John would not have cared. Now, from which direction was the man attacked?" the genius's eyes suddenly widened and he took a few great strides forward to pace.
"It was the west, correct? If the assault was at 7:55, that would coincide with sunset and the victim would have been unable to identify the man because he was blinded-"
"You got him killed!" Sally shrieked, knocking the magnifying glass out of his hand. "He was your flat mate! He took a bullet through his big, stupid heart for you! And you, YOU COULDN'T MAKE TIME TO GO TO HIS FUNERAL!" Sally reared back and slapped the detective, who seemed stunned by her outburst. She meant to catch him square on the cheek, but instead she grazed him awkwardly on the side of the jaw—he was just so damn tall.
Sally reared back to try again, but was stopped by her boss's yell.
"What the HELL are you doing?!" Lestrade hollered angrily. "And Sherlock! Why are you here? I already sent you home once today."
"Please, Lestrade, I'm not some child you can confine to his room when he's stolen a sweet," the genius replied coldly. His aristocratic sneer was somewhat diminished by the quickly blossoming red, hand-shaped mark marring his face.
The DI sighed long and deep. He ran a hand through his graying mane of hair and tried to think of something, anything at all, to say to the most infuriating man he knew. Sherlock may be a recalcitrant prick, but that didn't mean that he wasn't in an emotionally fragile state.
"No, you look Lestrade: I am perfectly fine. I don't need a boss, or a parent, or a buddy. I would just like to work! If you want this case solved, I would suggest you leave me alone to do my deductions! Come, John," he said, striding forcefully away.
The yarders' breaths hitched when they realized the genius's mistake. Sherlock must have noticed his slip as well, because he stopped and stood completely still.
"Sherlock-" Lestrade started, not sure how to finish the statement.
He never had to.
Sherlock took off running, long legs and slender arms moving in the synchronized panic of a cornered animal.
"Sherlock! SHERLOCK!" The DI yelled, sprinting in the same direction as the self-proclaimed sociopath. Holmes kept running, and he didn't look back.
Six hours later and no one had seen or heard from Sherlock. They scoured Baker Street, even going so far as to employ some of the detective's homeless network, without any success. Figuring that if Sherlock did not want to be found, he wouldn't be, Greg reasoned, and called off the search.
Against her better judgment, Sally was feeling incredibly guilty. Sure the freak was a heartless creep sometimes, but it was stupid of her to assume that he was unfazed by the good doctor's death. She shouldn't have lashed out at him like that.
"I only hope he hasn't been shot or something," She grumbled morosely, opening her front door, only to reveal the source of her guilt lounging on her couch.
She shrieked, startled by his sudden appearance. "What the hell are you doing in my home?!" She demanded, brandishing her keys at him.
Sherlock snorted. "I've broken into Lestrade's place loads of time, so he doesn't even try to keep me out anymore. I assumed your flat would be a little more difficult," he griped, quite agitated. Sally stalked over in order to give him a piece of her mind, only to be caught aback by what she saw. Sherlock's skin was especially pale and covered with a bright sheen of sweat. He hands were shaking uncontrollably, and his pupils were blown wide and dark. It was obvious that the man had turned to old, self-destructive habits for some sort of relief.
If Sherlock noticed Donovan's scrutiny, he didn't show it. Instead, he tucked his impossibly long limbs into his body and folded himself into a neat little ball. Against Sally's better judgment, something deep inside her twisted in pity. He looked so much like a lost child it was pathetic.
While she debated between calling Lestrade, kicking him out, or simply leaving him there to do whatever it is that mourning geniuses do, Sherlock mumbled something into his pant leg.
"What?" Sally asked.
"I've forgotten," he said simply—distant, twitchy, and inexpressibly sad.
"Forgotten what?" she demanded.
"How to be alone," he murmured.
Much to Sally's discontent, the jagged mix of resentment and distrust that had been left to fester in her chest began to soften. Sherlock Holmes was not an easy man to be close to. Surely he had been alienated growing up, a boy like that, unconsciously cruel and too clever by half. What must it have been like, a child with that strange mind? So much quicker, outpacing everyone in primary school, wanting to learn about anatomy or chemistry when everyone else was struggling to tie their trainers?
It makes sense that Sherlock never had a friend before John Watson, and Sally thought that he might never have one quite like the doctor again. She was surprised at how sad the thought made her.
"Come here," she commanded, joining him on her couch. She picked up her Afghan and wound it around the genius's shaking shoulders. When he was appropriately swaddled, she left her arm tucked around his torso in loose side-hug.
"I'm not a child," the drugged detective hissed imperiously, his brows knit together and his lips pressed together in a scowl. Sally didn't listen though: she could feel him unconsciously leaning into her contact.
"Be quiet," she growled. "It's been a long day."
And it was going to be a long night yet.
Tomorrow she would call Lestrade, and the day after that, perhaps, she would go back to disliking Sherlock and calling him "freak" at crime scenes. But right now, just for this one night, she would hold him as he came down, she would listen to whatever he had to say, and she might even make him tea at some point. Because John Watson would have done it, and John Watson was a good man; but John Watson wasn't here, and so she—for just this night—would take his place.
And if Sherlock Holmes was also a decent man, and he didn't deserve to be alone again… well, she supposed she could skip a few hours of sleep for that reason too.
A/N: I have a love-hate relationship with Sally. I want to like her so badly, but she keeps opening her mouth and ruining it. Happy Holidays everyone!