A heavy silence weighed over the section of the bar claimed years ago by Scotland Yard, and no one, it seemed, dared to speak or even move unless Gregory Lestrade did so first. But the detective inspector did neither of these and so neither did they.
Sally Donovan stared into her glass and tried not to think, but all the same, a thought drifted to the surface.
Sherlock Holmes is dead.
Sherlock Holmes is dead. Head cracked on the pavement in front of St. Bart's, cold on a morgue slab. Dead. Gone.
She swallowed hard and shook her head to herself in what would seem a disappointed gesture to the outside viewer.
Sherlock Holmes isn't supposed to be dead. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.
Even just a few yards from the entrance, Sherlock Holmes was DOA, but all the same, a small congregation made up of four solitary pilgrims gathered outside in the waiting area to wait for the official declaration. Then four became three as Molly Hooper whisked the detective away in a body bag before any objections could be made.
And who would object? Sherlock Holmes was dead, after all. All that was left of the man was a broken corpse and a bloodstain being power-washed off of the pavement even as they stood there.
It had felt like hours that the three of them stayed there after he was gone. When after the first hour, neither she or Greg Lestrade had managed to bring themselves to question John Watson about what had happened, they merely sat on either side of him, a pair of solemn-faced guards flanking the stricken ex-soldier.
Eventually Lestrade had risen to his feet and pulled her aside. "See if any of the witnesses are still about and find out what happened. I'm going to make sure he gets home all right."
She had paused, glancing between the two men briefly, poised to protest the professionalism of doing so, but stopped short. Not this time. Lestrade's gaze seemed pleading as he looked back at her after following her gaze to the doctor. You can be the voice of reason again tomorrow, but just for now, no.
She had nodded and slipped out to do the dual job of finding and questioning witnesses whilst running interference until the two men had managed to escape the scene. That night, she had found herself in the bar with the others, all sitting silently around the table, brooding on the day's events. Even the detective's most stalwart enemies didn't dare say a word against him in Lestrade's presence, and Sally couldn't blame them for keeping their mouths shut.
And Sherlock Holmes, like him or not, fraud or not, one of them or not, was at one point in time, her friend.
But Sherlock Holmes was dead.
And so the only sound in the bar remained the steady thunk of darts against the dartboard.