I wince as I look at my reflection in the glass. How did I let it come to this? My hair, my lovely hair, once long and smooth is now knotted terribly, twisted in all sorts of ways that I feared would never return to it's silky smoothness, no matter how much brushing I gave it. The clothes I wore, once the height of fashion, were now too small, too tatty. Over the past 8 years, my family and I have found ourselves living on the streets, living in such destitute.. I sigh as my focus is drawn to my face. My sixteen year old face looks much older, and yet somehow younger. Poverty has made it slim and hollow, dirt covering almost every inch of me. And the bruise on my face, the one put there by my father, merely completes the look.
Bare feet slap against the floor as I round the corner. A mass gathering of people litter the street before me, picking up the leaflets tossed around by those known as The Students. Across the alley, I see him, and my heart very nearly stops. Sherlock Holmes. Student and part time 'detective'. He's recently taken to helping the poor, the people I live among, solving their petty crimes. They hate him, mostly, because he's not as kind as most want him to be. He is blunt, tells it like it is. He's brilliant. Intelligent. He's so intelligent it's like he's burning. And I love him. I've always loved him. I watch him from my spot as he hands out leaflets, smiling and laughing with John, his best, possibly only, friend. John is another student, a medical student. He's kind. The opposite of Sherlock. If Sherlock is ice, John is surely fire. His warmth spreads among the people he tries to help as he works along side Sherlock, among the people I've come to know as my people. He tries his best to heal them, and cries when they can't be helped.
"Irene" Sherlock calls out as he spots me across the street, his eyes lighting up in a way that could lead me to believe he felt something for me. But deep down, I know he doesn't. I'm not sure he feels anything for anyone. Perhaps John. I'm only a friend, I'm well aware of that. He reaches my side and places the leaflets in his bag, and in that time, I manage to spot the books he keeps there. Science books, mostly.
"I haven't seen you around in a while..." he says and his voice is like velvet. I'm drawn in, as I always am.
"I'm always here.. You know that"
"Yes, my faithful Irene... but I was afraid you might have been caught by Lestrade.."
"Unlikely... Say.. those books?" I questioned, unable to hold back my questioning much longer "I could have been a student, you know.. Don't judge a girl on how she looks, I know a lot of things, I do..."
Sherlock chuckles "Poor Irene, the things you know aren't in books like these.."
"I like the way you grow your hair.." I interrupt as the thick black curls catch my attention, shimmering in the sunlight and turning almost chestnut brown. He really is beautiful. And speaking, apparently. I watch as his lips move, that perfect cupid's bow giving him an almost angelic look. His cheekbones are to die for, his face is practically perfect and those eyes, those light blue, sometimes grey, sometimes green eyes draw me in. The words he is speaking in that delicious velvet voice are lost completely as I find myself unable to concentrate on anything but his eyes..
An arm wraps around my wrist, yanking me away from him. I turn to see my mother, her hair grey from years living on the streets, raising five children with little more than a loaf of bread a week.
"He's coming.. Concentrate Irene" she growls, as though I have already failed her. They're about to ambush a poor old gentleman who often comes to these parts to give alms to the poor. Occasionally, he'll bring his daughter. I don't know her name, but I know her face, her eyes especially. One day, I'll work out where I know her from, but it does not matter today.
"Stay out of this.." I warn Sherlock as I make a move to climb to my watch tower, an odd building that is usually left abandoned, but there are steps running up the side of the building, and the top gives me the perfect position in which to watch the street.
"You'll be in trouble, you're not involved. Go."
The gentleman is approaching now, his daughter behind him, kindly giving the poor bundles of money and helpings of food.
"Irene.." he tries to grab me again but stumbles, colliding with the pretty thing.
"I didn't see you there, forgive me.." I hear him say as I begin my climb up to the top of the steps, my heart heavy. I saw it. When they looked at one another, I saw it. Two angels who discover each other have nothing to explain. Two souls who find each other again, they have said everything without speaking. I've lost him, though he was never mine to lose. He is gone. He is hers.