“Is Freak with you?” Sally asked as she looked up from her pint to see John Watson standing at her table.
“His name is Sherlock and he doesn’t drink,” he paused a long moment, his face contorted in thought, “recreationally.”
“Whatever,” Sally sighed.
“Can I sit?” John nodded at the chair beside her.
“It would be quite the conversation starter if you couldn’t,” she shot back.
He rolled his eyes and took the chair across from her.
“Now we have nothing to talk about,” she shrugged.
“The case we wrapped today was something, wasn’t it? The widow’s third cousin’s barber and the missing rhododendron?”
Sally rolled her eyes and finished her drink without saying a word.
“Next round is on me,” John winked and two minutes later a fresh pint was set down in front of her.
“What’s your angle?”
“No angle,” John protested.
“What are you doing here?” She eyed her drink suspiciously.
“Sharing a pint with a friend.”
Sally made a show of looking all around her, “Is it an imaginary friend? That would explain a lot. Probably the best friend you got considering the other company you keep.”
“Why do you always do that?”
“Do what exactly?”
“Belittle him? Call him a freak? He solved your case, didn’t he?”
“Why do I belittle him? Are you some kind of nutter?”
“How’d you like to be called a freak?”
“He is a freak. He…”
“He works harder than you will ever know. He doesn’t eat on a case. He doesn’t sleep on a case. He reads more medical journals than I do. Right now while you and I are sharing a couple of pints he’s at the lab studying soil acidity in Hyde Park. He knows these things because he has an amazing mind that analyzes, tests, retests and memorizes every fact that could possibly help him know the city and its criminals better.”
“Excluding facts about the solar system, local government, basic social skills…”
John shrugged, “I never said he was perfect.”
“Might as well have always following him around like a little lost puppy looking all impressed and begging him to show off for you.”
“When have I ever…”
Sally cocked an eyebrow in disbelief. “Really? John. Really? Never once have you gone all practically orgasmic at a scene telling Sherlock how fantastic, brilliant, and extraordinary he is? Really?”
“I’ve never been orgasmic!” John protested.
“Close enough,” Sally argued.
“Well, it is extraordinary the things he has catalogued in that brain of his. Lestrade must think so too. He’s always popping round for help on this, that, or the other thing. Turning our flat upside down on pretend drugs busts when he feels Sherlock isn’t cooperating. It isn’t like Sherlock has to show up. He isn’t being paid.”
“Could be though, couldn’t he?” Sally snorted.
“What do you mean?”
“Mister I know everything about every crime in the whole history of London is too bloody busy flogging corpses and zapping eyeballs to get properly bonded, isn’t he?”
“You honestly think that Scotland Yard doesn’t have some method of compensating consultants? Honestly?” she shook her head in disbelief. “He didn’t pick you for your brain did he?”
“Becaue he’s a freak that gets off on the blood and the guts and the gore.”
“When a case is interesting enough, bloody enough, or unique enough…”
“No, you wait. He comes to the crime scene when it suits him. He stays for a nanosecond or two, spouts off some asinine garbage, and flits off without word one to anybody.”
“It’s not asinine garbage if it’s right.”
Sally nodded, “yeah, but it’s the easy part…”
“Easy? There is nothing easy about it. As you so aptly pointed out the man keeps eyeballs in the microwave, heads in the fridge, things of various states of decay in old….”
“Might be the only head Lestrade has in his refrigerator is used to make a salad, but he works just as hard as your…”
“Don’t say freak.”
“Fine, Sherlock. He works just as hard as Sherlock, maybe harder.”
“Harder? He sleeps doesn’t he?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Sally glared defensively.
“I wasn’t suggesting…” John took the edge off of his tone.
Sally shook her head, “sensitive subject…” She swirled the last bit of liquid in her cup. “This round is on me.”
“You don’t need…”
“I pay my debts.”
When their next round arrived Sally took the first third off it in one long swallow, “the thing with Anderson… it was a mistake.”
“No, I don’t want to hear your jokes. I was in a bad place. He was going through a rough patch. It happened. It ended. I’m not making excuses. I made my bed. If I’d been reported, it would have been my career. Do you know how hard a woman has to work to get respect in my job? Even if there was nothing official, it would have been my career. You think Lestrade is some kind of idiot? You think he didn’t know what was going on? “
“He never said he did, you know? Never called me on the carpet, never made a note in a file. If he had…” She sighed. “But when it was over he took me aside, said that was my one, and not to waste it.”
“He’s a good man.”
“A very good man,” Sally agreed. “Which is why I hate that your… Sherlock makes him look the fool at every opportunity. “
“Hijacking press conferences? Texting every reporter in the city that Lestrade is wrong about everything he says? Makes him look like a fool, makes my entire department look like fools. But Sherlock’s not putting himself out there, is he? He’s not talking to the families of the victims…”
“Pretending to be an old school chum to wheedle out information isn’t the same, it isn’t the same at all and you know it. Lestrade is the one that has to look them in the eye and tell them their loved one met a terrible end. He’s the one they blame if the killer isn’t caught. He’s the one with his face in the paper looking ineffectual when people are dying and he can’t stop it. He’s the face of it, John.”
“Gets all the credit though, too, doesn’t he?”
“Does he?” Sally scoffed. “Does he really?”
“Is he getting credit right now sitting at his desk near midnight clearing out paperwork so he can start all over again tomorrow?”
“That’s part of…”
“Yeah, it’s part of the job. It’s the hard part.”
“It’s tedious. It’s not…”
“It’s not what Sherlock does. It’s not fancy, it’s not exciting, it’s not fun… but if he doesn’t do it criminals go free, criminals your… Sherlock so cleverly fingered. So he comes in early. He stays late. He goes blind filling out forms. He gets called in for meetings upstairs. He gets roasted at press conferences all while Sherlock sits in a lab and studies soil samples.”
“And when he gets stuck he calls Sherlock for help.”
“Of course he does. Sherlock is bloody brilliant! Sherlock knows things in a glance it would take our best forensic teams days to figure out. And Lestrade isn’t in it for anything in the world other than getting the killers off the street. If Sherlock can do it an hour faster he calls Sherlock.”
“It’s not my call.”
“We clear cases, you know? We have one of the best clear rates in the department without adding in the cases he consults on. While you are at your surgery treating ear infections and Sherlock is shooting up, we’re out there day in and day out solving the crimes that Sherlock deems to petty to read.”
“You must be, yes, of course.”
“Sherlock didn’t join the police because Sherlock would be bored silly by the bureaucracy and the day to day open and shut cases. But they’re important too, John. Just like working as a GP isn’t as flashy or as noteworthy as what you did in Afghanistan… but those simple every day cases, somebody’s got to treat them, too. If they didn’t…”
John nodded, “I understand. I do.”
“Doesn’t change anything.”
“I’ll try to get Sherlock to ease up at the press conferences.”
”And I’ll try to remember his name,” she smirked, “in public, anyway.”
“It’s a start.”
“I’ll drink to that.”